Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Lessons from the Road - No bean Soup before the Airplane

So, for the next 3 weeks I am on the road for work.  I am traveling through Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas.  I kept saying I was going to be gone for about 14 days, then, just before I left, my husband made me count the days on the calendar and it turns out I'll be gone 19 days.  Suddenly the trip seemed soooooo long.  I liked the 14 day thought better.

Well I have learned a few good lessons from traveling like; when using the hotel shampoo wear your glassesif it's broke, leave it at home, and No sad books on the airplane (although sometimes that is hard 'cuz sometimes you just don't know).  Well this trip I learned something....um, from a friend, yea a friend of mine told me this...

No bean soup before a 4 hour flight.  Just. Don't. Do. It.

I don't think I need to say anything more.

1 year ago:    Getting Wood Delivered
2 years ago:  Cranberry Liqueur and Crying at the Dentists Office
3 years ago:  Cowboy Cookies

October 27, 2015   Sunrise 9:22am   Sunset 5:47 pm   Temp H 36/ L 28°F

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Computer Crash and Three Layer Bars

My computer crashed.

Yes, you read that right, last year around this time this same computer crashed the day before I was leaving for Montana, and this year it was two days before I left for PA.  I stomped down to IT so they could fix it, left a note to my office mate to order me a new computer, and wondered what I was doing for this to happen to me AGAIN!  Why is it always MY computers?  Luckily, I really didn't need my computer for the trip I was leaving on, so I took my iPad and was just fine.  But, what the hell? (I'm really trying to clean up my language, so if you are offended by WTH, I'm sorry at least I didn't say WTF, which is what I usually say and only try to whisper it now.)

When I got back from PA, I went to IT to see if the computer was saved.  The helpful computer master grabbed the computer and said it all was in working order.  "Let's try it out," she instructs.  I turn it on, it makes it's nice little start up noise, I am feeling hopeful.  Then it takes a little too long to boot up and the spinning wheel of death...

"That doesn't look good." She mumbles...

So, still no computer at work.

Because I was feeling a little frustrated I decided I needed a little treat.  I've seen this combination on Pinterest for a couple of years now, and always thought "how ridiculous" well, my computer crashing again is ridiculous so I made these cookies.

I'm leaving for work again this week, and I really need my computer.  I hope the new one gets here fast or the old one can be salvaged for one more trip.

Three Layer Bars
Yes, you could do the same thing with homemade cookie dough and homemade brownies (you could even make your own Oreos) but this is all about instant gratification and frustration relief!

1 tube chocolate chip cookie dough
1 pkg. Oreo cookies
1 box brownie mix

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line a 9 X 9" pan with foil, lightly spray bottom of pan with cooking spray.  Press cookie dough in bottom of pan.

Place Oreos on cookie dough, pressing slightly into dough.

Make brownie mix according to box directions and pour over the top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Cool completely.  Remove cookies from pan and peel away the foil.  Cut into small squares and enjoy.

(Now aren't you glad I gave you those instructions because ANYONE can figure out how to make these, but if you are as frustrated as I am, you might not be thinking clearly...and the two adult beverages you drank before you made these might just impair your judgement.)

1 year ago:    The Missed Vacation and Dried Cherry Muffins
2 years ago:   Winter Fires and the S'moretini
3 years ago:   Death of a Sewing Machine and Vanilla Chocolate Martini

October 22, 2015   Sunrise 9:05 am  Sunset 6:04 pm  Temp. H 34/ L 23°F

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Festive Fudge Filled Bars and Visiting with an Old Friend

I was in Pennsylvania last week for work.  I also got to have dinner with an old friend, Nancy. We worked together one school year and became fast friends.  We were partners in crime, and boy did we stir things up.  As some point during that school year someone filled a pickup truck cab full of popped popcorn, someone saran wrapped a car, someone covered a pickup hood with dish soap so it bubbled all the way home in the rain, and someone kidnapped the wire man statue from the principal's office and took pictures of him all over town.

The Wire Man kidnapping happened by accident.  The principal had this wire man, that balanced on a stand, on his desk.  One day when I was in his office he had to move the man out of the way, otherwise I probably would never had noticed him the the very messy busy office.  Later that day he was gone, and I was still working.  I was working on a picture history of the school, or something like that, and was trying to figure out the old camera they gave me...a polaroid (It was about 15 years ago), so I grabbed the wireman as a model as I tried to work this old camera...and he spoke to me! Not the "I hear voices and have really gone off the edge" kind of speaking, but the inspired "he spoke to me" kind of speaking.  I took a picture of him with the camera outside the principal's door and wrote a note on the picture...something like "I'm tired of living in this messy office.  I'm going on a trip.  Be back soon."  Taped the picture to the office door and took the wireman - straight to Nancy.  We spent the next 6 weeks or so taking pictures of the wireman in different locations...the airport (for his trip you know), the local bar, in a bubble bath, on the bumper of the principal's car, at the museum...and mailing the pictures to the school to the principal.  And finally, we returned him with a couple little gifts from several of the places he visited.  I don't know if the principal ever really knew who did it..but he did suspect Nancy!

Oh, it was all in good fun and it did help break up the tension of dealing with middle school children and bus misconducts.  All in all, looking back, that was a fun year (although my husband does call it the year from hell).

So catching up with Nancy was a little perk of my job.  We visited, had dinner, caught up with the last 12 years since we have seen each other, remembered our 'adventures' and laughed.  It was a wonderful afternoon and evening.

Nancy knows how much I love cookbooks and she gifted me these two books from the area.   One is full of cookie recipes and the other is full of favorites from different cooks in the area.  What a fun treasure.

Festive Fudge Filled Bars
from Dutch Pantry Cookie Collection, submitted by Jill Wood

2 cups oatmeal
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, melted
2 Tbsp. vegetable shortening
1.5 cups M&M's
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 375°.  Combine oats, flour, chopped nuts, brown sugar, baking soda and salt.  Stir in melted butter until it's crumbly.  Reserve 1.5 cups of the flour/oat mixture; press the remainder into a greased and floured 9 X 13" pan.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Melt shortening in a saucepan.  Stir in 1 cup M&M's, pressing until broken and melted.  Remove from heat and stir in condensed milk.  Spread over the baked layer to within 1/2" of the edge.  Add 1/2 cup M&M's to flour mixture and sprinkle on top, pressing lightly.  Bake about 20 minutes until golden brown.  Cool and cut into bars.

1 year ago:    Garlic Chili Chicken and my Saturday afternoon date
2 years ago:   Warm Brussels Sprout Slaw and and the Baby Boy Moving Home
3 years ago:   Posole because Winter is Coming

October 20, 2015   Sunrise 8:59 am  Sunset 6:11 pm  Temp. H 38/ L 27°F

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fruit Cake Martini and Early Christmas Shopping

This little hip issue I have will not go away.  We have done all we can do and have two options left: 1) live with pain or 2) get a new hip.  I really think we should have a third option: 3) get an awesome robot body.  I would choose one that worked like Data (on Star Trek the Next Generation (and if you don't know who Data is, I just don't want to know you)) and looked like 7 of 9 (again STNG).

So I chose option #2 since #3 isn't available at this time and #1 is about to kill me (and you need to feel very sorry for my husband).  Option #2 will take place in November, after I finish my fall travel for work.  I just have Pennsylvania, Oregon, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas left.  But after that, I'll have #2 and then be out of commission for about 6 weeks, which means I need to get my Christmas shopping done now!

So, I am trying to get Christmas done, get boxes in the mail, and feel oh so merry...

To help get me in the mood, I turn the Christmas CDs on, make myself this drink, and sing along as I wrap presents.  I am still going to ask Santa for that robot body, maybe I'll get lucky.

Fruit Cake Martini

2 oz. cake flavored vodka
1 oz. orange juice
1 oz. pineapple juice
sparkling cranberry juice
maraschino cherry for garnish

In shaker full of ice, add vodka, orange juice and pineapple juice.  Shake until very cold.  Strain into cocktail glass, top with sparkling cranberry juice, garnish with maraschino cherry.

1 year ago:     Citrus Cranberry Fizz and TGIF
2 years ago:   Roasted Chicken with Mushrooms and Peas and the Halloween Surprise
3 years ago:   Baked Nutella Doughnuts and less than 10 hours of Daylight

October 15, 2015   Sunrise 8:43 am  Sunset 6:29 pm   Temp. H 39/ L 30°F

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sudafed and Green Pea Soup

Everyone at work is sick.  This is a busy travel time for me so I am walking around with a Clorox wipe, disinfecting the door handles, my desktop, pens that I use and the coffee machine.  (You're welcome)  I wish they made Clorox wipe gloves and I would make everyone at work wear them so I don't get sick.  I'm thoughtful like that.

Despite my best efforts, Friday afternoon my ears plugged up.  I'm sure they are full of fluid and I was flying out next Sunday to Philadelphia.  I knew I had a long day ahead of me and I didn't want to be uncomfortable from pressure in my ears while I was flying.  So, at dinner, I took Sudafed.  I don't know about you, but Sudafed wires me up and I was awake all night!  I tossed, I turned, I could not sleep.  What was I thinking taking it so late at night?  Thank goodness the next day was Saturday, and I could take it easy.  I did get a good nap in Saturday afternoon.

That did remind me that I will be on the road for the next 5 weeks and airplanes are germy.  I wanted to stock up on cold remedies before there was a shortage like the year I thought Dave was trying to poison me and I wanted to have a stash in my travel purse.  At least I learned something from it.

It also reminded me that we need to eat better and boost our immunities.  I made this green pea soup for dinner and felt very healthy.  I will say that sometimes the idea of what dinner will taste like and the reality of it is a little different.  When I was making this soup Dave said, "That stuff is how the Ninja Turtles were made."  Nice...

I don't know what I expected, I know my husband doesn't like peas, so why I thought he would like this soup is beyond me.  It must have been the lack of sleep the night before. He took two bites and left the rest in his bowl.  Oh well, he can be sick while I'm gone, I'll be healthy!

Green Pea Soup
adapted from Ellie Krieger The Food We Crave

olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 12 oz. package of frozen green peas
3 cups chicken stock
1 tsp. dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a medium sauce pan.  Add onions and sauté until soft and translucent.  Add chicken stock and thyme, heat to boiling.  Reduce and add peas, heat through, add salt and pepper to taste. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth or blend in a blender is 3 batches.
  Serves 4

1 year ago:    Banana Muffins and Blue Cougar Pills
2 years ago:   Autumn Fruit Tart and the Attitude Adjustment
3 years ago:   Gingered Pear and Brandy Cocktail and the Horseshoe Champion

October 12, 2015   Sunrise 8:34 am  Sunset 6:39 pm   Temp. H 34/ L 23°F

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Pasta with Spinach, White Beans and Chicken Meatballs and the Ruined Pedicure

Fairbanks got a huge dump of snow.  The first snow of the season is always very wet and heavy.  It was a little early this year and the trees hadn't even dropped their leaves.  Lots of houses were without electricity, some for up to 5 days.

We were very lucky.  We only lost power for about 7 hours and had the wood stove going the whole time so the house didn't get cold and we could cook on the wood stove.  We did have one limb of our tree break, Dave had to go out and trim it off, buck it up and haul it away.  You can see how deep the snow is in the front by how far down his legs are covered.
He made short work of the broken tree limb and then spent a lot of time moving snow around, off the driveway, the pavers in the back, the back deck, a path for my little dogs to get to the dog yard...
So while Dave was doing all this work, the Chick and I went to get a pedicure for her birthday.  We spend a nice afternoon getting a pedi and then shopping for new boots for her.  I thought we waited long enough after the pedicure to put our shoes back on, but apparently not!  I look like I have hairy toenails.  It is stuck!  I am so disappointed since I paid all that money for a pedicure and now I have to take the polish off.  Getting my leg into a position to take nail polish off is not very comfortable with my hip, but I don't dare ask Dave to do it since he worked outside in the snow and cold the whole time the Chick and I were pampering ourselves.
So I made pasta for him for dinner.  He loves pasta and I don't so I don't fix it often enough as far as he is concerned.  This was a warm, filling dish he enjoyed and it put him in a pretty good mood after all the snow shoveling...I might ask him to take the fuzzy polish off AND repaint the nails.  How do you think that will go for me?

Pasta, Spinach, White Beans and Chicken Meatballs
adapted from Ellie Krieger The Food You Crave

16 oz. Penne Pasta, save 1/2 cup pasta water after the pasta is cooked
olive oil
medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. chicken meatballs, homemade or store bought
8 cups fresh spinach
1 15-oz can cannellini or other white beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium heat in a large, deep sauté pan.  Add the onion and cook, stirring a few times, until softened, 3-5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook an additional minute.  Stir in the meatballs and cook until heated through and browned, about 4 minutes.  Add the spinach and cook until wilted, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the beans, 1 cup of chicken broth, and the red pepper flakes and simmer until the mixture is heated through and liquid is slightly reduced.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of water, and add it to the chicken-bean mixture, add pasta water and remaining chicken broth, toss well.  Season with salt and pepper.  Top with Parmesan and serve
Serves 4-6

October 8, 2015  Sunrise 8:22 am  Sunset 6:54 pm  Temp H 39/ L 30°F

Monday, October 5, 2015

Carrot Soup

I don't know what is going on with these ducks, but they have been in the yards on our street for the last week or so.  I think they must be eating the choke cherries or something that are falling off the trees.

It is really not a problem, except that they keep pooping on the cars in the driveway!  I don't know if it is when they fly over or what, but scraping snow and ice off your windshield is one thing, frozen (or worse yet - soft) duck poop is another thing.
I really think they need to fly back to the river and stay there, I stepped in duck poop this morning and I'm not very happy about it.  I did post this picture on Facebook and complained about the ducks, one of my Facebook friends said, "Forget about the ducks, what about all that snow!"  Ha, I guess it is all in your perspective.

I have a big bag of carrots from the carrot guy at the farmer's market.  I got a 10 pound bag and I love them.  This soup was part of our soup and sandwich night, it tasted like there wasn't any snow on the ground and the ducks were in the river, where they belong, not smearing my windshield with "stuff".

Oh happy Monday!

Carrot-Cashew Soup
adapted from Ellie Kreiger's The Food You Crave

4 cups chicken stock
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1-inch piece of ginger
1.5 pounds carrots
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/2 cup unsalted roasted cashews
2 tsp. honey
salt and pepper to taste

Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan.  While the broth is heating, chop the onion and mince the garlic and ginger.  Slice all but one-quarter of one of the carrots into 1/4-inch thick coins.

Heat the oil in another medium pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3-5 minutes.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute more.  Stir in the allspice and cook for 30 seconds.

Stir the carrot coins into the pot with the onions, then add the boiling chicken broth, cover and return to a boil over hight heat.  Lower the heat to medium, uncover, and simmer until the carrots are tender, 8-9 minutes.  Meanwhile, grate the remaining carrot quarter and chop 2 Tbsp. of the cashews to use for garnish.

Remove the pot from the heat, stir in the whole cashews, honey, salt, and pepper, and then puree the soup in 3 batches in a blender, or with an immersion blender, until smooth.

Serve garnished with the grated carrot and chopped cashews.

Makes 4 servings.

1 year ago:    Dark Chocolate Cake with Whipped Ganache and Raspberries
2 years ago:  Cranberry Shortbread Bars
3 years ago:  Chocolate Chip Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and the First Snow

October 5, 2015   Sunrise 8:12 am  Sunset 7:05 pm   Temp. H 39/ L 28°F