Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Feeling Ashamed and Apple Fritter Bread

I'm a little ashamed of myself.
I have been a little sick, I got the flu and then a cold and that escalated into a sinus infection and a significant asthma event.  I'm on two antibiotics and a steroid, I've done several nebulizer treatments at the clinic,  and I'm sucking on my inhaler like it was the only oxygen in the world.  I'm tired and can't catch a full breath and I was feeling sorry for myself and I posted a "poor me" post on Facebook.
I try not to do that.  I was sick, big deal, we all get sick, but in my weakened state I did it. The first person to post a "feel better" is a woman going through the last couple rounds of her 37 radiation sessions after she finished her chemo for breast cancer.  Here she is fighting for her life, and never complaining on Facebook, and she tells me to feel better.

I am ashamed of myself.

So, I know she loves apple fritters. I decided to do something for her and make her this apple fritter bread. I hope it makes her day a little brighter.

Apple Fritter Bread
from Tip Hero

1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided
2 Granny Smith apples peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch dice
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 2/3 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. milk, divided
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Spray 9 x 5 loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a small bowl combine brown sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon.

In another small bowl combine apples with remaining 1 tsp. cinnamon.

In a medium bowl combine butter and granulated sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time until completely mixed add vanilla and 1/2 cup milk.

In a medium bowl mix flour and baking soda. Add this mixture to the butter and sugar mixture and stir until well blended.

Pour 1/2 the batter into the prepared pan. Layer half the apple mixture on the batter followed by 1/2 the brown sugar-cinnamon mixture.  Gently press the apples into the batter.  Add the remaining batter, topping with apples. Gently press apples into batter.  Swirl brown sugar mixture between apples into batter.

Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Allow to sit on a wire rack for 15 minutes before removing from pan.

While bread cools, prepare glaze by mixing 1/2 cup powdered sugar with remaining 1 Tbsp milk.  Drizzle glaze over cooled bread.

2 years ago:  Christmas Present Request
3 years ago:  Rice Krispy Treat Balls
5 years ago:  Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

December 28, 2016   Sunrise 10:58 am  Sunset 2:47 pm  Temp H -2/ L -22˚F

Monday, December 19, 2016

One Tough Week

Getting to see this guy, made it all worth it!

Last week was a tough week for us.  I flew to Seattle to spend the weekend with the baby.  I tried to talk Dave into going with me, but just two weeks out from his surgery, he wasn't feeling it.  I had a great Saturday and Sunday, but Monday morning brought the flu.  The DIL woke up about 2:00 am and the Curly Haired boy woke up at 5:00 with it.  I took care of the baby and hoped he would stay healthy...about 11:00 he threw up all over me.  I was scheduled to fly home that day so I was wishing to just make it home before it hit me.  That didn't happen.

My brother in law was flying home from a trip and we met at the airport.  I wasn't feeling really great, but not too bad.  We boarded, I ate about 1/2 my dinner (I didn't even eat my brownie so you know I didn't feel well) and tried to sleep.  My BIL got up for the restroom, so I thought I'd get up too, when I stood up it just hit me.  I grabbed the airsick bag from the pocket in the back of the seat and made it to the lavatory.  I sat down to rest, feeling really hot, and the next thing I knew the flight attendant was knocking on the door asking if I was o.k.  "I'm fine." I yelled through the door.  Well, I never got sick, just felt terrible and sat in the lavatory for the final 45 minutes of the flight.  My BIL helped me off the plane, the Baby Boy picked us up from the airport and basically carried me to bed.  I was sick for the entire week.

Meanwhile, my husband, had gone to the airport the Sunday I was in Seattle to pick up a friend. He was helping him grab his luggage and picked up a 36 lb. cooler. The bone the dr. had taken the bone spurs off, made a pop, and he now has a hairline fracture.  So he is walking around in some major pain and is put back about 6 weeks from where he was before the surgery.  I keep telling him he should have come to Seattle with me and he wouldn't have broken his shoulder, he would have had the flu so I guess you just have to pick your poison. We feel like the walking wounded.  I'm glad the holidays are close and we have some time to rest.

In the meantime, we haven't done much but lay around the house and whine.  The Baby Boy finished his undergraduate degree and we ordered take out to celebrate...I haven't cooked anything for over a week.  I'm thinking next week we will feel better and go out to celebrate.

I hope you had an easier week than we did.

2 years ago:   Easiest Roast Ever
3 years ago:   Cherry Peach Fizz and Bathroom Troubles
5 years ago:   Nutella Filled Cookie Kisses

December 19, 2016  Sunrise 10:57 am   Sunset 2:39 pm   Temp H -3/ L -7°F

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Oreo Cheesecake

The other day, my son told me about one of his professors who was asking the class for recipes. My son helped her out and gave her my blog. (That was really sweet, and thinking that this blog could help anyone with recipes just shows you  how much he doesn't cook.) A few weeks later, she thanked him for the suggestion, told him she liked the recipes and also the stories, especially the ones about the Baby Boy and the Chick.
"I forgot you wrote about me." He said. "I was a little embarrassed."

Well, I hope she read about the Baby Boy eating his soap ball so I can hold that over his head, because I'm kind like that.  He teases me so much that I have to get him back once in a while.

I made this cheesecake for a birthday at work. I heard this person liked cheesecake and Oreos, so it was natural to make an Oreo cheesecake for him. The best part about it is we all got to enjoy. 

Oreo Cheesecake

36 Oreos, divided
1/3 cup butter, melted
3 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs, room temperature

whipped cream
mini Oreo cookies for garnish

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray sides of spring form pan with cooking spray.

In a food processor, crush 26 Oreo cookies until fine crumbs form, add melted butter and process until mixed.  Pour crumbs into an 8" springform pan.  Press to the bottom and up the sides about 2 inches.  Set aside.

Mix cream cheese, sugar, sour cream and vanilla until smooth.  Add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated.  Chop the rest of the Oreo cookies and fold into cheese mixture.  Pour into springform pan and smooth top.

Bake for 55-60 minutes, until cheesecake is light golden brown and slightly set.  The middle will still jiggle a bit.  Let cool 10 minutes, run a knife around the edge to release the sides of the cake from the pan.  Let cool completely.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Release cake from pan.  Decorate with whipped cream and mini Oreo cookies.  Enjoy.

2 years ago:   Easy Peppermint Pretzels
3 years ago:   Biscuits and Gravy, It's What's for Dinner
5 years ago:   When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Meatball Subs

December 7, 2016  Sunrise 10:37am  Sunset 2:48pm  Temp H -15/ L -20˚F

Monday, December 5, 2016

Orangesicle Champagne

I love champagne.  I love the cheap stuff that is about $12 a bottle (is that really champagne?), I love the expensive stuff that is $120 a bottle (but it is hard to enjoy drinking that much money) and everything in between.  I usually stick to the cheap stuff.

We went out to Sunday brunch at one of our favorite places.  I love their home made corned beef hash, they don't used the canned stuff, and I was offered a mimosa.
"Yes please, but leave out the orange juice."

The waitress just looked at me, so I repeated,
"Yes, I'd like a Mimosa, but leave out the orange juice.  Orange juice is just a waste of space in a champagne glass."

She said, "Then it is only champagne."
"Exactly." I replied.

She laughed a little funny and went and got me my orange juice free mimosa.  See, it is socially acceptable to drink a mimosa on Sunday morning, but not o.k. to drink a glass of champagne, so I get my mimosa, but I leave out the orange juice.

This drink is the one exception to my rule.  Adding the heavy cream makes it taste like a Creamsicle.  I really love those.  When I was a kid, the Swanson  truck (do they even have those anymore?  This big freezer truck would go from house to house and sell frozen foods door to door) would come to our farm and my mom would get a box of Fudgesicles and a box of Creamsicles. This was the one time I would choose fruit over chocolate.

This drink brings back memories of my childhood, sitting under the shade of the walnut tree and trying to eat my Creamsicle fast so it wouldn't melt down my hand in the 110 Kansas heat of August.
Next time we go to brunch, I won't ask for the orange juice to be left out of my Mimosa, I'll ask for some cream to go along with it.

Orangesicle Champagne

1/4 cup orange juice
1 T. heavy cream
champagne, well chilled

In a champagne glass, add orange juice and heavy cream.  Top with Champagne.  Enjoy.

2 years ago:  Unwanted News and Homemade Bread Machine Mix
3 years ago:  Words With Friends and Dutch Apple Pie
5 years ago:  BBQ Pork Shoulder and the Bird Feeder

December 5, 2016  Sunrise 10:32am Sunset 2:51pm  Temp H -16/ L -21˚F

Friday, December 2, 2016

Oat, Seed, and Nut Crackers

I love nuts and seeds.  My family, not so much.  I made this delicious bread and I was the only one who liked it.  I found this recipe for crackers and thought I would try them.  I love them, they are crunchy, nutty and delicious; but my family wasn't so keen.  Maybe it's just me, I thought.

Well, I was headed out for work for about 3 weeks and I didn't want these crackers to go to waste, so I took them to work hoping someone would like them...they were gone in one afternoon.  Everyone loved them and I had several requests for the recipe.  So, it isn't me who likes unusual things, it is the rest of my family who doesn't know what is good.  I felt vindicated.

I'm making them often so I have a supply through the holidays.  I hope you try them and enjoy them as much as I do.

Oat, Seed and Nut Crackers
Bon App├ętit, November 2016

1 cup old fashioned oats,
3/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup sesame seeds
3 Tbsp. chia seeds
3 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1 tsp. kosher salt
4 tsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
3/4 cup room temperature water

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir until soaked.  Let sit 10 minutes to allow mixture to thicken.  Form into a ball.  Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, press another sheet of parchment on top, and roll our to 1/8" thickness (the shape doesn't matter).  Remove top layer of parchment.  Bake cracker until golden brown around the edges, 15-20 minutes.  Remove from oven and carefully turn over cracker; remove parchment.  Bake cracker on same sheet until firm and the other side is golden brown around the edges, 15-20 minutes.  Let cool on baking sheet, then break into pieces.  8 servings.

1 year ago:    Celebrating a new Kick-Ass Dr. and Christmas Dreams Drink of the Week
3 years ago:   Tucker on the Sofa and Pumpkin Brownies
5 years ago:   Chinook Winds - Drink of the Week

December 2, 2016  Sunrise 10:24  Sunset 2:57  Temp. H -4/ L -12˚F

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Chocolate Dipped Orange Spritz Cookies

You know those chocolate oranges that start showing up this time of year. The ones you hit on the bottom and all the sections separate and then you can eat the entire chocolate orange and pretend it is a fruit? I love those. Or those chocolate covered orange sticks? I love those too. One year my secret santa at school gave me a box of orange and a box of raspberry. I ate the whole box of orange in about 2 hours (school is stressful around the holidays) and was a little hyper so my administrative assistant hid the second box from me until it was time to go home! It turned out she was my secret santa and said she would never give me chocolate orange sticks ever again, and warned everyone else to keep them away from me.

So needless to say, I love chocolate and orange together. I found these orange spritz cookies and thought they would be perfect with a little chocolate. Genius! They are so delicious that it is a good thing I got 7 dozen from this recipe because I think I ate 3 dozen before I could pack any away for the kids and work.

Enjoy these, they are a perfect little bite.

Chocolate Dipped Orange Spritz Cookies
adapted from Taste of Home Cookie Swap
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
orange zest from one large organic orange
1/2 tsp. orange extract
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt

dark melting wafers (I used Ghirardelli)
orange colored sanding sugar - optional

In a large bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in orange peel and extract.  Combine flour and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture.

Using a cookie press fitted with the disk of your choice, press cookies 1 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets.  Bake at 375˚F for 6-9 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks.  Cool completely.

Melt chocolate in 30 second increments in microwave, stir and repeat heating until chocolate is melted and smooth.  Dip half cookie into melted chocolate, scrap extra chocolate off bottom.  Place on parchment lined sheets.  Sprinkle colored sanding sugar on top if desired.
makes about 7 dozen

1 year ago:    Crock Pot Chocolate Lava Cake and Playing in the Snow
3 years ago:  Fig Bars and Counting all the Dogs
5 years ago:  Caramel Rolls and Not Shopping on Black Friday

November 30, 2016  Sunrise 10:18 am  Sunset 3:01 pm  Temp. H -8/ L -18˚F

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Season of Eating

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We had our 4 month old Grandson come up for the holiday, he brought his parents with him.  It was a great time of eating, laughing, sleeping in (only kidding, the Grandson got us all up early!) and checking out the Curly Haired Boys favorite eating places.

We always have to go to Pagoda, a Chinese place in North Pole, we took the baby for his first Santa visit at the Santa Clause House, and before they left on Friday we went to the Food Factory for cheesesteaks.

We ate way too much on Thanksgiving, and then had pie for breakfast the next morning.



The baby also had his first experience with snow.  I got a snowsuit for the occasion and he was not too sure about it.
Looking a little terrified with the new snowsuit.

Once we got outside, he loved it.

All that fresh air and making snow angels wore them out.  So naps were in order.

Yes, he has found his thumb.

They left Friday afternoon so we went to a movie (to keep me from crying too much) and then started with the Christmas decorations.  I'm almost finished putting up my 27 storage crates full of Christmas decorations.  Dave did an amazing job with the lights on the house and he put up my outside nativity. We are getting in the holiday spirit.

I have also started planning my Christmas cookies.  Dave is having surgery on his shoulder Monday morning, so I have a couple extra days at home to take care of him, drive him to physical therapy, and make sure he is taking his meds.  I'm sure he will mostly be in a drug induced sleep, so I plan on cranking out some Christmas cookies to send to the Blond Boy and DIL in San Diego and the grandbaby (he can share with his parents if he wants).

So, on through the season of eating!  Get your cookies going.

November 27, 2016   Sunrise 10:09 am  Sunset 3:08 pm   Temp. H -3/ L -14

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Sex on a Snowbank - Drink of the Week

I've been gone for way too long.  I had a 17 day work trip and that was about 7 days longer than I really like.  But, the fall travel is done and I'm home until about March, and very happy about it.  It is nice to sleep in my own bed, shower in my own shower, pet my dogs, and see my husband.

Which brings us to Sex on a Snowbank, it is a drink my niece saw on Facebook.  Get your mind out of the gutters. It is way too cold for any of that real stuff on a snowbank!  This is Malibu rum, coconut cream, and ice.  A little garnish of flaked coconut and you have one pretty drink.  Besides, we really haven't gotten enough snow to have a snowbank for fooling around on.

Sex on a Snowbank
1.5 oz.  Malibu Rum
3 Tbsp. Coconut Cream
6 ice cubes

For Garnish:
flaked coconut
corn syrup

If desired, pour a little corn syrup on a small plate, pour flaked coconut on another plate.  Dip rim of martini glass in corn syrup and then in flaked coconut.
In blender, measure rum, coconut cream, and ice cubes.  Blend until smooth.  Carefully pour into prepared glasses.  Drink in moderation, you don't want to find yourself on a snowbank in a compromising position!

1 year ago:    Home again and Hot Buttered Rum
3 years ago:   Kentucky Kiss and Falling Down the Stairs
5 years ago:   The beginning

November 22, 2016   Sunrise 9:52  Sunset 3:21  Temp H 9/ L 4˚F

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Halloween Oreo Truffles and Falling Down the Stairs

It finally happened, I knew it would, it was just a matter of time.  I fell down the stairs.  I am a pretty clumsy person and falling down the stairs is something I do a couple times a year, falling up the stairs I do a couple times a year too.  So, it has been way past due, to fall down the stairs, because I haven't done it since I had my hip replaced 10 months ago.

I was in a hurry, it was early in the morning, I wasn't hanging on to the railing because my hands were full, and I slipped on the carpet with my socks.  I banged down about 7 steps and landed on my butt close to the bottom of the stairs.  I had to sit there for just a minute to make sure everything was o.k. and Dave comes rushing out of the bedroom all upset.  I was fine, it was really more of a slide than anything, but I had to get the lecture of "you are so clumsy in the morning, you need to slow down..."

I won't admit to Dave, but I was a little sore the next day, not "oh my, I've hurt something in my hip." type of sore, but the "oh my, I'm in my mid 50's and I just fell down the steps." type of sore.  Getting old is not easy.

Well, we had a fun weekend and getting ready for Halloween I made these little treats for the office. They are Oreo Truffles  and just decorated with colored candy melts, sugar eyes, colored sugar, and cookie pieces.  It was a fun project and a nice treat for the office on Halloween.

I hope you enjoyed your trick or treaters!

1 year ago:    Computer Crash and Three Layer Bars
2 years ago:  Pumpkin Martini and Signing on the Magnetic Strip
3 years ago:  Spiced Nuts and the Dish Room
4 years ago:  Death of A Sewing Machine and Vanilla-Chocolate Martini

October 31, 2016   Sunrise 9:38 am  Sunset 5:30 pm  Temp. H 33/ L 21°F

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Praline Topping

It is time for all things pumpkin and pumpkin spice.  I have embraced the pumpkin spice season and have made some pretty delicious stuff, if I do say so myself.  The pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls were a hit and so I decided to make a pumpkin spice cheesecake with praline topping for a friend.  Everything went well, cheesecakes are really very simple.  I made the crust, mixed the batter, put it in a pan of hot water and slid it into the oven.

It baked and I took it out of the oven at the perfect time.  I slightly tipped the pan to make sure there was no water trapped in the aluminum foil bib around the bottom, and it slipped out of my hands and crashed to the counter.  Not a pretty sight.  I screeched, the kids came running and all they could say was "again?"
Mason said, "At least is didn't land upside down on the oven like last time."
My family is so helpful.

Well, I smooshed it back as much as I could, and made the topping.  The praline topping covered a lot of the mess.  I took it to work and shared it with coworkers instead of giving it to my friend.  It was delicious and I think it will make a showing at our Thanksgiving.  Let's just hope I don't drop it again.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Praline Topping
Taste of Home, Nov 2016

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. butter, melted

3 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup real maple syrup
3 large eggs, room temp
1 (15 oz ) can solid-pack pure pumpkin
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup real maple syrup
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Wrap double thickness of heavy-duty foil around outside of a greased 9 in. springform pan. Mix cracker crumbs and sugar; stir in butter. Press onto bottom of prepared pan.

Beat the cream cheese, sugars and maple syrup until smooth.  Add eggs; beat on low until blended.  Whisk in the pumpkin, cornstarch, vanilla and pumpkins pie spice; pour over the crust.  Place springform pan in a larger baking pan; add 1 inch hot water to larger pan.

Bake until center is just set and the top appears dull, 70-80 minutes.  Remove springform pan from water bath.  Cool cheesecake on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Loosen sides from pan with a knife; remove foil.  Cool for 1 hour longer.  Refrigerate overnight, covering when cheesecake is completely cooled.

For topping, combine whipping cream and maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Continue boiling, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened, 15-20 minutes.  Stir int he toasted pecans. Refrigerate until well chilled.

Remove rim from pan. Stir the topping and spoon over chilled cheesecake.

1 year ago:    Fruit Cake Martini and Early Christmas Shopping
2 years ago:  Citrus Cranberry Fizz and the Weekend off
3 years ago:  Autumn Fruit Tart and The Year of Gratitude
4 years ago:  Gingered Pear and Brandy Drink and the Horseshoe Champion

October 26, 2016  Sunrise 9:21 am  Sunset 5:47 pm  Temp. H 32/ L 21°F

Monday, October 24, 2016

Seeded Whole-Grain Quick Bread

Well, it snowed and stayed in Fairbanks.  I can't complain, we had a great fall and a late snowfall. The only thing to do now is build a fire in the wood stove and bake bread.

I love bread with seeds and nuts.  My family, not so much.  I think I was the only one who really liked this bread with sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and flax seeds.  Too bad, I had to eat most of it!
Happy Fall.

Seeded Whole-Grain Quick Bread
from Eating Well, Sept. Oct 2016

1/3 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1/3 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
3 Tbsp. flaxseed
3 Tbsp. sesame seeds
2 cups white whole-wheat flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Coat a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

Combine sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed and sesame seeds in a dry medium skillet. toast over medium heat, stirring, until lightly brown and starting to pop, 5-7 minutes.

Reserve 2 Tbsp. of the seed mixture in a small bowl; transfer the remaining seeds to a large bowl. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and slat to the large bowl' whisk to combine.  Whisk eggs in a medium bowl, then stir in buttermilk, oats, oil and maple syrup.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredient; stir and fold together until combined.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle with the reserved seeds.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, 45-55 minutes.  Let cool in the pan for about 30 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

1 year ago:   Sudafed and Green Pea Soup
2 years ago:  Banana Muffins and Little Blue Cougar Pills
3 years ago:  Mac and Cheese with Bacon and Bad Dreams
4 years ago:  Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies for a Friend

October 24, 2016  Sunrise 9:14am    Sunset 5:54 pm   Temp H 28/ L 13°F

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Last Camping Trips

We went on our last camping trip last weekend. We went camping at "our spot" because friends were doing a vow renewal and my husband was officiating. It was brisk, sunny, and beautiful when we pulled in and as the afternoon progressed is got cloudy.  We had a fire, the dogs went to the water, and we just took a breath and relaxed.

Sunday morning I got up and walked the the falling snow.  Yes, we have had our first official snow.  The flakes were big, fat, and really wet.  When they hit you they left a wet spot, and when they landed, they melted right away.  I walked the dogs quickly and headed back into the COW to warm up with some coffee.  It warmed up as the day progressed but we decided to winterize the COW and put her away for the winter.

Then I went to Oklahoma for a week for work.  Got home and the days were sunny, the weather was crisp, and we were invited to camp and have a bonfire at a friend's cabin at Harding Lake.  We went and had a fun evening of visiting and catching up.  They had a bonfire (I went to bed) and the next morning we drove back to town and really put the COW away for the winter.  With my work schedule, I won't be home for another weekend until Nov. and by then it really will be too cold.

So we are settling into our winter mode.  And while it is sad the warm summer is over, and winter is always a little too cold and a little too long, I really do enjoy the change of season and the holidays that are headed our way.

Happy fall.

October 11, 2016  Sunrise 8:33 am  Sunset 6:40 pm  Temp H 50/ L 28˚F

1 year ago:    Heavy Snow, a Ruined Pedicure, and Pasta with Spinach and White Beans
2 years ago:   White Cake with Strawberries and Cream
3 years ago:   Retiring and Beer Bread
4 years ago:   Roasted Chicken with Apples and Garlic

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

End of the Season Yard Cleanup and Quick Jambalaya

Ahh, October.  I love Fall.  The mornings are crisp, the afternoons are perfect for working in the yard and then having a fire after dinner.  And this fall, so far, has been beautiful.

Dave was busy doing yard work over the weekend, and I got out our Halloween decorations.  The Chick and I worked on the inside.

The baby boy helped with the outside.

We had a busy day, so I needed something quick to throw together for dinner, before the evening fire and s'mores.  This was perfect.  

I do need to ALWAYS wear my reading glasses now when I cook. I followed the recipe, we sat down to eat and this was pretty spicy! I don't really like spicy food but the rest of the family liked it.  The next day I sat down to copy the recipe and read 2 teaspoons of cajun spice...I added 2 TABLESPOONS!  Ah, live and learn.

Quick Jambalaya
adapted from Cooking Light, October 2016

1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 onion
3 oz. andouille sausage, finely chopped
8 oz. moose sausage (I had some left over from making meatballs, so I just used it up)
12 oz. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
2 (10 oz.) cans unsalted diced tomatoes and green chilies
2 tsp. salt-free Cajun seasoning, or more to taste
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 (8.8 oz. pouches precooked rice (I used one white and one brown)
4 green onions, chopped
1 lemon cut into wedges
Hot sauce, optional

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion and sausage; cook 4 minutes or until onions are tender, stirring occasionally.  Add chicken; cook 4 minutes or until chicken is lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

Strain tomatoes in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup liquid.  Add strained tomato mixture, 1/4 cup reserved tomato liquid, Cajun seasoning, and salt to pan, scraping pan with a wooden spoon to loosen browned bits.  Cover and reduce heat to medium, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Meanwhile, warm rice in microwave and spread on platter.  Remove jambalaya from heat, pour over rice.  Top with chopped green onions.  Serve with lemon wedges and hot sauce.  

3 years ago:  Cranberry Shortbread

October 4, 2016   Sunrise 8:12 am  Sunset 7:05 pm  Temp. H 39/ L 28 °F

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls and Travel Plans

We have a travel guy at work. He makes our travel reservations and does an excellent job with schedules and saving us money. He mentioned that I needed to make my spring travel plans while Alaska Airlines was running some sales, and in the same breath he mentioned that I haven't baked in a while...
I'm thinking if I don't bake I'll end up with the middle seat for all my trips. So, I baked.

In honor of pumpkin spice everything this time of year, I made pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls. I used my oatmeal bread recipe that I usually use for cinnamon rolls, but added pumpkin, a little extra sugar and some pumpkins spice to it. Then I added pumpkin spice cream cheese on top.

I put them together the evening before, then slide them in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning I just need to take them out of the fridge when I start the oven and let them rise while the oven warms up, them bake them. Top them with the cream cheese frosting and let that melt into the rolls, and take them to work.

I did make them for the travel guy, and I don't think I'll be getting a middle seat anytime soon, but there were so many, I did eat one myself. Pure heaven.

Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls with Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup oatmeal
2 cups water
3 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup pure pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 Tbsp. yeast
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
4-8 cup flour

6 Tbsp. butter
1 cup brown sugar, more if needed
1/2 cup granulated sugar, more if needed
pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

In medium saucepan, bring 2 cups water to a boil.  Add oatmeal and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.   Remove from head, add butter, salt, brown sugar, pumpkin  and pumpkin pie spice.  Let cool to warm.

Add yeast, 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar and water in a small measuring cup, let sit for 5-10 minutes to bloom.  Add to oatmeal mixture and stir.  Add 4 cups flour and mix thoroughly.  Continue to add flour and mix until a kneadable mixture forms.  Turn out onto well floured surface and knead, adding more flour as needed, until a smooth, elastic ball is formed.  (I do all this with my Kitchen aide)

Spray bowl with cooking spray and put dough into bowl, turning to grease the ball.  Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Spray sheet pan with cooking spray.
Preheat oven to 350°F, if baking on the same day.

Remove dough from bowl and pat and then roll into a rectangle.  Spread with butter, sprinkle with brown sugar, granulated sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and walnuts.  Roll, starting from the long end, into a spiral and cut in 1 inch increments.  Place in prepared pan and cover with cling wrap, sprayed with cooking spray (if putting into the fridge), or cover loosely with a clean towel.

Place in fridge overnight or let rise for 1 hour.  Bake 30-35 minutes until golden brown.  Cool and frost with cream cheese frosting, if desired.

If placing in fridge overnight, remove rolls from fridge and let set on counter for 30 minutes, while your oven heats up (I put mine on top of the stove where it is nice and warm).  Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.  Top with cream cheese frosting.

Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese frosting
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2-3 cups powdered sugar

With an electric hand mixer, or with your stand mixer, whisk softened cream cheese.  Add milk, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice and mix thoroughly, scraping sides as needed.  Add 1 cup powdered sugar and mix completely.  Add powdered sugar until desired consistency is achieved.  Top warm cinnamon rolls.

1 year ago:    Work Travel and the Perfect Dirty Martini
2 years ago:   Pasta with Two Peas and the Short Hunting Trip
3 years ago:   Green Bean, Blue Cheese, and Bacon Salad and the Surprise Calls
4 years ago:   Roasted Tomato Soup

September 29, 2016   Sunrise 7:57am  Sunset 7:24 pm  Temp. H 47/ L 32°F

Monday, September 26, 2016

On the Road

This picture is about 7 years old.  My grandma was 93 or so here.

This is the time of year I am on the road for about 3 months.  I visit campuses across the United States and talk about teaching in Alaska.  I love it, I love the travel, and it takes me places I might not otherwise get to, and it takes me to family.

I spent last week in Montana.  My mom lives there so I stay with her.  My grandmother lives there too, and this year we had her 100th birthday party while I was there.

It was a happy occasion, living to 100 is amazing.  Think of the changes she has seen in the last 100 years! Cell phones, microwaves, t.v.s, cars; none of those things existed when she was growing up, and some not when she was raising her own children.  I am in awe of the changes she witnessed.

It was a tender and difficult occasion also.  She does not remember any of us.  When you go to say hello she asks, "Who are you?"  When I went up to her I said, "I'm Toni Lynn." (I was named after my grandfather so he was Tony and I was always Toni Lynn).

"My granddaughter's name is Toni Lynn."  she responded.
"Yes, I'm Toni Lynn, your granddaughter."  I said.
She looked at me closely and then said, "Who are you?"

So it was hard to see the strong, independent woman I remember as my grandmother completely changed.

My uncle put it this way.  "She has good genes, and I hope I got them, just not all of them."

Happy birthday, Grandma.

1 year ago:    Hip Shot and Peach Comfort
2 years ago:   Ham and Cheese Pastries
3 years ago:   A Bear in the Night and Pear and Walnut Muffins
4 years ago:   Roasted Turkey and the Full Freezer

September 26, 2016  Sunrise 7:48 am  Sunset 7:35 pm  Temp. H 44/ L 30°F

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Gin and Tonic

When I was in college (a million years ago) a friend always drank gin and tonics.  Every Friday, we would head over to his dorm and about 15 of us would unwind from a tough week of assignments, work study, and cafeteria food.  He drank Tanqueray gin, and while I tried it a couple times to be sure, it just tasted like chewing on pine needles to me.  I avoided gin from then on.

This past summer, my mom and dad would have a gin and tonic every once in a while.  One day, Dave brought home Bombay Sapphire gin...and now I'm hooked.  I told them how I don't like it and then I took a sip.  Oh, the mistakes we make. I like mine with a lot of fresh lime juice, two shots of gin and lots of ice with my tonic.  It is like an adult lime-aide.

So, when the week gets tough, I look at my husband and just say, "lots of lime please."

Gin and Tonic

2 shots Bombay Sapphire gin
1 lime, cut in quarters, juiced and 1/4 of juiced lime piece placed in glass
tonic water

Drink with day my mom had a strong one and she was a little wobbly!

1 year ago:    Shotgun Wedding Soup and Waiting on the Mouse
2 years ago:  Zucchini Fries and Too Much Zucchini
3 years ago:  Canning Tomatoes
4 years ago:  Ham and Bean Soup

September 8, 2016  Sunrise 6:54 am  Sunset 8:40 pm  Temp. H 57/ L 36˚F