Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Beet and Orange Salad

I'm almost done with torture physical therapy. I don't care what anyone says, that much pushing and pulling on a person just can't be good.  First, I start with 10 minutes on a bike, so I'm hot and sweaty for the rest of the appointment, then the cute little therapist has me use these bands to push, pull, and stretch my muscles and legs.  I think she lays awake at night thinking of torturous activities for me.  And, if it isn't something that is going to hurt, it is something that is going to be hard and embarrassing...like trying to balance on one leg on this soft mat that makes you fall over, in front of everyone. Just to make the last couple of sessions special she is working on "loosening scar tissue" this entails her pushing as hard as she can on the very tender scar tissue across my hip and down my leg making me cry. (I don't care if Dave says she is hardly rubbing, he is lying).

So I decided I needed a treat.  And I saw these lovely beets at the store.  I don't care if I am the only one in my family that likes beets, everyone is going to eat them, because I'm thoughtful like that.  Besides, beets are good for you, and they are really delicious.  

I roasted these beets by washing them and then wrapping them in foil.  Threw them into a 350° F oven for 45 minutes and then let them cool.  I wore gloves and the skins just slip off, then I cut them into wedges.  If your store has more than one color beets, use  a combination.  The sweet beets, the citrusy oranges, the crunch of the walnuts and the greens were the perfect combination to put me in a better mood.

I might just have to make this again next week after my torture physical therapy.

Beet and Orange Salad
makes 4 salads

4 small beets, roasted, peeled and cut into bite-size wedges
1 orange, peeled and sectioned
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
8 cups mixed baby greens

3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. grated orange zest
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Whisk dressing ingredients together.  Put greens in a large bowl and drizzle dressing over greens, reserving about 4 tsp. for later.  (Sometimes I use all the dressing, sometimes I don't.  Use the amount of dressing that you like)
Divide greens between 4 plates, divide the beet wedges, orange sections and walnuts among the 4 salads.  Drizzle with reserved dressing.

1 year ago:    Music for the Pug
2 years ago:  Birthday Soap Ball and Chocolate Waffles
3 years ago:  Rain Days and Hot Chocolate Peppermint Affogato
4 years ago:  Lemon Drop Martini

January 26, 2016   Sunrise 9:56 am  Sunset 4:11 pm  Temp. H 22/ L 18°F

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Chocolate Muffins

My grandma's 99th birthday was last Monday.  She still lives in Deer Lodge and when I go to Montana I get to visit her.  This is the grandma that lived close to us when we lived in California and I loved playing cards with her.  I have fond memories of going to the beach with her, climbing the trees in her yard and eating the fruit, watching cartoons at her house, and one vague memory of riding a bus and going into San Francisco with her to see the giant Christmas tree next to the Macy's store.

I wasn't able to spend the day with her, but I did send her flowers to wish her a happy day.  At home we celebrated with these muffins for breakfast.  It was a special occasion, after all.

Chocolate Muffins
from Brown Eyed Baker

6 Tbsp. butter
2 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Line 12 muffin cups with liners.
Melt butter and dark chocolate in microwave and stir until smooth.  Set aside to cool.
In medium bowl whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.  Set aside.
In small bowl mix buttermilk, egg and vanilla extract.
Add milk mixture and melted butter mixture into the flour mixture.  Mix until incorporated.  Add chocolate chips and fold in.
Portion mixture between prepared muffin cups.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool.  Serve warm or room temp.

1 year ago:    Nutella Mug Cakes for My Birthday
2 years ago:   Plain Chocolate Fudge and Losing June's Coat
3 years ago:   So Long to a Good Friend
4 years ago:   Grapefruit Pound Cake and the Change in Sunday Dinner

January 21, 2016   Sunrise 10:11am  Sunset 3:54pm   Temp. H -2/ L -8°F

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Adult Blondies and Heading Back to School

When I was in school, I went to western Kansas to live with my mom during the winter.  In Kansas the midday meal was the largest meal and it was called dinner.  We had 6 ladies that made dinner for the entire elementary, middle, and high school...probably a total of 200 children and adults.  This was long before the pre-packaged meals, mass produced hot or cold packs, and everything was made from scratch; from the hamburger buns to the spaghetti sauce.  And it was all delicious.  It was also all you could eat.  We would go through the kitchen line and each woman would serve part of the meal.  Meat, potatoes, a vegetable, homemade bread, salad or jello, and dessert. Then, when you had all been served, one of our ladies would bring left-overs to the lunch room and we would line up to get seconds of what ever was there.  Every. Single. Day.

One of my favorite desserts was blondies.  I loved the butterscotch chips, the sweet dense bar, oh it was heaven...and the beginning of my "sturdy" thighs.

The Baby Boy started his last spring semester of school.  He should graduate next December.  I wanted to make him a treat for the first day of classes, and what better treat than cookies.  I made these Adult blondies, a good mix of sweetness and the kick of bourbon.  The perfect school treat for a senior in college.

Butterschoth-Bourbon Blondies
Food Network Magazine, January 2016

Cooking spray
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
3/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 extra large egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup burbon

Preheat oven to 350°.
Spray a 9 inch square baking pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper, spraying that too.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a small microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and 1/4 cup of the butterscotch chips.  Stir until smooth.  Transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer.

Beat the brown sugar into the butter mixture, then the egg.  Add the vanilla and bourbon and beat until combined.  Add the flour mixture and beat until incorporated.  Stir in the remaining 1/2 up butterscotch chips.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with not too much stuck to it.  You want to remove it from the oven when you think it is slightly under-done.  Let cool before cutting.

1 year ago:     Espresso Caviar with Chocolate Mousse and Choking down the Real Stuff
2 years ago:   Tattoos and Crock Pot Chocolate Nut Clusters
3 years ago:   Dog Sledding
4 years ago:   Birthday Resolutions and Carrot Martinis

January 19, 2016  Sunrise 10:17am  Sunset 3:47pm   Temp. H -2/ L -8°F

Friday, January 15, 2016

Return from Sick Leave

I'm baaaaack!

Hopefully it isn't as scary as the ghosts in poltergeist.

I had my hip replacement surgery, I'm mostly off the narcotics, and I'm feeling pretty good.  I get to go back to work in a couple of weeks, and we all survived.

My husband was so awesome!  He took really good care of me and this whole experience just reaffirmed how lucky I am to have such a wonderful man that loves me, takes care of me, and while he might not totally embrace my level of neurosis, he puts up with it well.

He has one story from our experience with the surgery where he just showed how he rolls with it. (I say "He has a story" because I don't remember any of this and just have to take his word for it...there were drugs involved!)

I have tiny veins and they collapse easily.  The day of surgery, the lady came in to put in my I.V.  I told her she had to use a butterfly and it would be hard.  The anesthesiologist came in as I was saying that and told her a butterfly wasn't appropriate for this surgery.  She got a little nervous and the anesthesiologist said he would go ahead and do it.

Well, he even struggled, and after about 12 pokes and two ultrasounds on both arms, the dr. decided he needed to give me something to relax me.  He inserted a butterfly into my hand and gave me a little something.  A minute or so later her asked, "How are you feeling, Toni?"  I said I was still a little nervous.  He gave me a little more and then asked, "How are you doing now?"  I turned to my husband and said, "I want a monkey."

"Did she just call you a monkey?" the dr. asked.
"No, she wants a monkey and she keeps asking for one.  She had one when she was a kid, her mom is a little eccentric." Dave calmly replied.
"That explains a lot." the dr. said.

And I was out.  Apparently the surgery didn't take as long as getting the damn I.V. in my arm!  I was in my hospital room about 1.5 hours later and standing a couple hours after that.

Well, my husband is really in the running for Husband of the Year with all this he has had to do and put up with.  So I do want him to know how much I appreciate him and all he has done.  I'll be cooking some husband friendly dinners now that I can get back into the kitchen.  This means we will be eating a lot of red meat, bacon, butter, and beer braised roasts.  He should be very happy.

I thought I would start with a little spicy treat.  Dave loves bacon and spicy things so I made these sweet and spicy bacon slices.  I hope he is happy and I am still working on that monkey.

Sweet and Spicy bacon

1 lb. bacon, slices cut in half
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. Sriracha
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground chiles de arbol

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Place bacon in a single layer on baking sheets, bake for 15 minutes.  Drain extra fat off sheets and turn bacon.
Mix brown sugar, Sriracha, cumin and ground chile in a microwave proof bowl.  Heat for 1 minutes and mix well.  Brush mixture over bacon slices and place in oven for 10-15 minutes.  Watch carefully as the sugar burns easily!
Let cool.

1 year ago:    Start of a New Collection
2 years ago:  Braised Endive
3 years ago:  Surprise Pears and Cranberry Cheesecake stuffed Pears
4 years ago:  Banana Cake with Nutella and Hazelnuts and the Bad Mood

January 15, 2016   Sunrise 10:27  Sunset 3:34  Temp.  H -1/ L -3