Monday, February 29, 2016

Steak Salad Niçoise and Losing my Memory

So, along with the repeating conversation after all those meds from my surgery, I have discovered my memory has not completely recovered yet.  I was cleaning out my closet to find that one last Christmas gift for the baby boy I could never find in time for Christmas and I came across a cross stitch kit.  Not that big of a deal, except that I was working on the exact same cross stitch, which I purchased sometime in January.  And this unopened kit was also purchased sometime in January.  I don't remember buying two...

Then a couple days later I got a new pair of shoes I ordered, in the mail.  They are basic black shoes to wear with slacks, my old ones squeak, and add the lift in my shoe since my legs are not the same length anymore, they really squeak, so I replaced them.  Only to have the exact same pair show up in the mail a couple of days later.  I ordered the same two pairs of shoes, days apart, and didn't remember doing it.

THEN a couple days later...I got a pair of pants in the mail.  They are the kind you order by how big your butt is.  An A is a flat butt, I ordered the C for the big butt.  A basic black pair of pants for work, and when I got to work and checked my email, I see that I ordered the same pair of pants again.  The second pair should show up any day now.

So, apparently my memory does not do well with medication and it is a good thing I am off everything now.  I will say that I have sworn off shopping for a couple months, just in case.  And I've given up anything that could be considered a toxin, like diet soda, adult beverages, cooking in plastic...just to give my whole body a break.  I'm sure I'll be back to normal in nothing flat.

In the meantime, I'm eating healthy and drinking lots of water.  This salad was dinner the other night.  It was huge, and I didn't finish mine, I took the left-overs for lunch the next day.  At least I remembered to eat it!

Steak Salad Niçoise
4 large eggs, refrigerator-cold
10 oz. red potatoes
12 oz. haricot verts
Cooking spray
8 oz. trimmed New York strip 
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
2 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, grated
3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
20 niçoise olives
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 English cucumber, sliced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, thawed if frozen
Blue cheese, optional

Place eggs and potatoes in a large saucepan; cover with cold water to 2 inches above eggs.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and cook 7 minutes.  Remove eggs from pan; place in a large ice water-filled bowl.  Continue cooking potatoes 13 more minutes or until tender.  Remove potatoes with a slotted spoon.  Cool slightly; cut into quarters.  Add beans to boiling water; cook 4 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain and place in ice water.  Drain well; place potatoes and beans in a large bowl.  Peel eggs; cut in half, and set aside.  

Heat grill to hot, cook steak 4 minutes per side or until desired degree of doneness.  Remove from grill and let stand 5 minutes.  Cut across the grain into thin slices; sprinkle with 1/8 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. pepper.

Combine remaining 3/8 tsp. salt and remaining 3/8 tsp. pepper, parsley, and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) in a small bowl or jar; stir with a whisk or shake until well blended.  Drizzle half of the dressing potato mixture; toss to coat.  Divide potatoes, beans, steak lettuce and all the veggies evenly among 4 plates.  Drizzle remaining dressing over servings.  Serve with blue cheese on the side.

1 year ago:    Lessons from the Road: Wear your Glasses
2 years ago:  Potato Sourdough Rolls
3 years ago:  Prime Rib
4 years ago:  The Manhattan and Remembering Robert

February 29, 2016   Sunrise 8:01 am  Sunset 6:07 pm   Temp. H 28/ L 7°F

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Jerk Pork Loin

We are back in our routine around here.  I'm back to work and driving myself now.  The Baby Boy is back in school, the Chick is working and Dave is working...just making it through another February.

I was headed to work this morning, running a little late, drinking my protein shake I made with blueberries and spinach, and turning the corner....and spilled the entire shake down my front.  Purple, icy drink right down the cleavage and soaking into my pants.

I turned the corner and headed through the parking lot of the bank that sits there, turned around and headed home to change.  That's what I get for trying to drink and drive!  It was a little uncomfortable sitting in a puddle of icy shake for the 5 minute drive home.  

Once home, I went straight to the laundry room, undressed and threw everything in the washer.  Ran upstairs rinsed off, got re-dressed and headed back to work.  I guess if that is the worse thing to happen today, it will still be a good day.  

At least I had this to come home to.  I blended the marinade an stuck it in the fridge overnight.  All I have to do tonight is put it in the oven, as long as I don't spill it all over myself.

Jerk Pork Loin with Mango Salsa
Ellie Krieger You Have It Made

1 small onion, roughly cut
1/3 cup vinegar
3 Tbsp. canola oil
8 cloves garlic
1 medium jalapeño top trimmed, with seeds
2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
one 2-lb. pork loin
1 bay leaf

Place the onion, vinegar, oil, garlic, jalapeño, thyme, all spice, nutmeg, cloves, and black pepper into a food processor and process until smooth.
Place pork into a large (2 gallons) sealable plastic bag.  Add the marinade and bay leaf, toss to coat, and seal the bag, removing as much air as possible.  Place in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 2 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator for 36-48 hours to be ready to cook.
Ton continue, preheat the oven to 400˚F.  Drain the liquid from the bag, keeping any marinade but discarding the bay leaf.  Transfer the pork to a roasting pan and rub the marinade onto the pork.  Roast until the internal temperature reaches 145˚F for medium rare, about 45 minutes, or 160˚F for medium, about 1 hour.
Allow to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes before sicing into 1/4 inch thick slices.  Serve with the Mango Cucumber Salsa.

Mango Cucumber Salsa

1 cup finely diced Mango
1 cup finely diced, seeded english cucumber
3 Tbsp. finely diced red onion
1.5 Tbsp. Fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. Cilantro leaves
Fresh lime juice to taste

In a medium bowl, toss the first 6 ingredient together to combine.  Toss cilantro leaves and add additional lime juice to taste.  Serve immediately.

Leftover pork makes a great hash dinner by dicing the pork, adding some diced onions and potatoes and topping with a over-easy egg!  Yum!

1 year ago:   Monday Mug Cake/ Lemon Cheesecake and the Lost Wedding Ring
2 years ago:  The Confession Maker Drink and "The Concession"
3 years ago:  Twice Baked Potatoes
4 years ago:  Wheat Berry and Butternut Squash Salad

February 25, 2016    Sunrise 8:15 am  Sunset 5:54 pm  Temp. H 32/ L 19˚F

Monday, February 22, 2016

Almost like King's Hawaiian Rolls and the "Big Rat" in the House.

It started like any normal Friday night, at least as normal as things are around here.  We met our niece and nephew for dinner and then went to watch the Nanooks beat Bowling Green in hockey.  We got home, and as I'm pulling into the garage, the Chick comes out and stands at the door.
"That can't be good," the nephew says.
"Crap," is all I can get out.

We get out of the car and I ask..."What's up, honey?" (I'm thinking blood, severed thumbs (have I told you that story yet?) dead relatives or dogs...)

"Don't go inside, Mason is in his underwear," she says.
"What?  Why?" I ask as I walk past her into the house, only to be met by my grown son peeking around the corner of the living room yelling "Don't let them in, I'm in my underwear."

I walk into the living room and ask, "What is going on?"

"There is a huge rat in my room and I can't get my clothes."

A huge rat?  Where would a huge rat come from in February at -20 in Fairbanks?  We have had voles and little mice get into the house before, but a rat?
"Where is it?" I ask.
"In my room, that's why I can't get any clothes."

About this time, Dave has let the dogs out of the kennel, they are running around and barking, and everyone is coming into the house, which makes the Baby boy yell about no one coming in to see him in his underwear.

So I go into his bedroom room and  grab him some clothes so he can get dressed, all the while looking for this huge rat.

A tiny mouse scurries across the floor from the closet to under the bed...

My grown son, who stands over 6', is standing in his underwear yelling about a huge rat, that really is a little mouse about 4 inches long and can fit under the closed door of the bedroom...
Now I'm really not making fun of anyone here, put a spider the size of a pin head in a room with me, and I'm throwing elderly women and babies at that thing so it doesn't jump on my head and suck my brain out, but a mouse?

It turns out the kids were going to bed and the Chick went to turn off the light when she saw the mouse.  She jumped out of bed and down the hall and yelled back at the boy, "There's a huge rat in our room."  Mason jumped up, grabbed their little dogs and came running down the hall.  The mouse followed and about that time we pulled into the garage.  The boy tells the Chick not to let us in the house because he is standing there in in underwear and the mouse is following them down the hall so he couldn't get his clothes...

We spend the next hour and a half baiting traps, watching the dogs try to catch the mouse (more yelling from me  "Don't let them do that, I don't want blood on the carpet.  What if it has diseases, get them back, Dammit Dave, stop that.")

I finally went to bed, offering the sofa upstairs to the Chick to sleep on if she didn't want to sleep in her room with the mouse.
When I got up the next morning, the kids were asleep in their tv room and the bedroom door was open.  I don't know if the mouse was caught yet, I'll have to ask when everyone wakes up.

In the meantime, I'm practicing these rolls.  The Seattle DIL loves King's Hawaiian rolls, and has to have them for Thanksgiving.  I found this recipe in a America's Test Kitchen magazine and had to try them.  I figured after all that yelling and trauma last night,(everyone did see the boy in his underwear), we all deserve a treat.  If nothing else, we can use some of them to bait the mouse traps.

 Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
America's Test Kitchen, Best of 2016 

1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup whole mild
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup honey
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg
2 tsp. distilled white vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Grease large bowl and 13X9 inch baking dish.  Combine pineapple juice, milk, melted butter, and honey in a 4 cup liquid measuring cup and microwave until mixture registers 110 degrees, about 1 minutes.  (Mixture may appear curdled.)
Using stand mixer fitted with dough hook, mix flour, yeast and salt on low speed until combined, about 5 seconds.  Slowly add pineapple juice mixture, followed by egg, vinegar, and vanilla and knead until cohesive mass starts to form, about 2 minutes.  Increase speed to medium-low and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, 5-7 minutes.  (Dough should clear sides of bowl but will stick to bottom.)
Turn dough onto lightly floured counter and knead briefly to form smooth, cohesive ball.  Transfer dough to prepared bowl and turn to coat with grease.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until almost doubled in size and fingertip depression in dough springs back slowly, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Gently press down on center of dough to deflate.  Place dough on clean counter and divide into thirds.  Cut each third into 6 equal pieces (about 2 3/4 oz per piece).  Form each piece into rough ball by pinching and pulling dough edges under so that tope is smooth.  On counter, cup each ball with your palm and roll in circular motion into tight, smooth ball.  
Arrange into 3 rows of 6 balls in prepared dish and cover loosely with plastic.  Let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours (rolls should almost reach top of the dish and edges should be touching.)  Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove plastic, transfer rolls to oven, and bake until golden brown and centers register 190 degrees F, 20-23 minutes, rotating dish halfway through baking.  Let rolls cool in dish on wire rack for 10 minutes.  Using spatula, slide rolls out onto wire rack, brush with softened butter, and let cool for 20 minutes.  Serve warm.  (To reheat room-temperature rolls, wrap in aluminum foil, place on baking sheet, and bake in 350 degree F oven for 20 minutes.)

1 year ago:    Sausage ad Quinoa and Stupid Comments
2 years ago:  Bacon Jam is another name for Love
3 years ago:  Ultimate Brownies and the Mouth out of Control
4 years ago:  Maple Bourbon Sour and the February Resolution

February 22, 2016   Sunrise 8:26 am  Sunset 5:44 pm    Temp. H 30/ L 7 ( above zero!)

Friday, February 19, 2016

Ricotta Cheesecake

A good friend of mine turns 50 today...I won't name any names, but you know who you are Suzanne!  She is enjoying life down in the lower 48 (that's what we call all the states in the connecting 48 states).  She used to be my  backyard neighbor.  We would meet on my deck after work and drink wine or the drink of the week, we would make snacks or grill and laugh the cares of the world away.  I miss that time with my friend.

So I am celebrating Suzanne and her birthday.  I've made a ricotta cheesecake and topped it with some beautiful fresh raspberries and a raspberry-orange sauce.  It is delicious, beautiful and the perfect thing to celebrate my friend, and since she is so far away I'll have to eat her slice!
Happy Birthday, Suzanne.

Ricotta Cheesecake with Raspberry Topping
adapted from Ellie Krieger

cooking spray
1 15-oz. container part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
4 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, softened
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp.  grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup all-fruit seedless raspberry jam
1 Tbsp. orange liqueur
2 6-oz. containers fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Coat a 9 inch springform pan with cooking spray.  Place ricotta in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy.  Add sour cream, cream cheese, eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla, orange zest and salt.  Process until well blended.  Pour into the prepared pan and bake until the center is just set, 50-55 minutes.  Transfer to a wore rack to cool and then cover and chill int eh refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

In a small saucepan, bring the jam and the liqueur to a boil, stirring constantly until smooth.  Remove sides of pan.  Brush the tart with the jam mixture and top with raspberries, flat-side down.

1 year ago:    Better than Sex Monday Mug Cake
2 years ago:   Late Dinners and Pork Chops with Chick Pea Mash
3 years ago:   Fried Dill Pickles the way to a Man's Heart
4 years ago:   Better than Sex Chex Mix

February 19, 2016    Sunrise 8:37 am  Sunset 5:34 pm  Temp. H 9/ L -20Better than Sex Monday Mug Cake

Friday, February 12, 2016

Beef Pot Pies and Getting Ready to Travel

I'm getting ready for my spring travel season.  I'm on the road from Feb. 29 until May 11 or so.  Each week I am trying to get something into the freezer for dinners for the family.  I know it won't take care of all the nights, but maybe once a week or so someone can just pull something out of the freezer and stick it in the oven or the crock pot.  

I would go all out and do a "30 crock pot meals in a day" kind of thing, but Dave is not really fond of crock pot meals.  So I'll do a couple crock pot meals, sticks some ziplocks with marinated meat in the freezer to grill, and have these beef pot pies ready to bake.  It's not a lot, but it is one way of saying I miss and love my family while I'm gone.

Beef Pot Pies
3-4 lb. beef pot roast
salt and pepper
olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cups red wine
4 cups beef broth
4 baking potatoes, cubed
4 carrots, diced
1 16 oz. pk. frozen corn
1 16 oz. pk. frozen peas
4 cups good beef broth, depending on liquid from roast
7 Tbsp. all purpose flour
5 Tbsp. butter
pastry for 3 double crust pies
For the Beef,
Preheat oven to 325°
Heat olive oil in dutch oven, salt and pepper beef, sear in dutch oven until all sides are browned, set aside on a plate.  Add more oil to pot, add onions, celery, and carrots.  Cook until softened. Add garlic and tomato paste, stir for 1 minutes. Add red wine, reduce to half, add beef broth, return roast to pan, including any liquid on the plate.  Cover roast and place in oven for 3-4 hours.  Remove roast from oven and let cool.  Strain solids from liquid and reserve liquid.  Discard solids.  Dice beef.
Bring diced potatoes to boil in large pot.  Add carrots once the water is boiling and cook for 3-5 minutes, until slightly tender.  Drain and cool with cold water.  Mix carrots, potatoes, peas, corn and beef together, set aside.  
Measure liquid from dutch oven.  Add beef broth until liquid measures 6 cups.  Melt butter in medium saucepan.  Add flour and cook, stirring very often, until flour is dark tan and toasted.  Add liquid and whisk so no lumps form.  Stir until mixture boils.  Strain mixture through fine mesh sieve and add to vegetable and beef mixture.
Use 3 regular size disposable pie pans, 18 miniature pie pans or a combination.  I figure 6 mini pans for every regular pie.  If I am making a large pie, I line the bottom of the pan with crust and add a top crust over the filling, if I'm using small pans, I just add a top crust.
Divide beef mixture among desired number of pans, top with crust and wrap top with plastic wrap.  Then wrap with foil and add reheating instructions to top.  I always remind my family to remove the plastic wrap, that stuff is easy to miss if you are in a hurry, or throw the whole thing in the oven, foil and all.

February 12, 2016   Sunrise 9:01 am  Sunset 5:11 pm  Temp. H 12/ L 9°F

Friday, February 5, 2016

Celery Salty Dog With or Without and the Repeating Conversation

The Baby Boy likes telling stories on me.  Right now his favorite story is how, during his Christmas break, while he had to drive me around to my appointments, I would ask him the same questions every day, not remembering we had the same conversation the day before.  He said it was like his very own Groundhog's Day.

The conversation (apparently) went something like this...
Me:  How did your classes go last Semester?
BB: Great!  I was really happy with my grades.  I even made the Dean's list.
Me:  That is so awesome!  Did that one professor that was giving everyone a hard time ding your grade?
BB:  No, I got an A in his class.
Me:  Really! I'm so proud of you and your hard work at school.  What does your next semester look like?

You get the idea.

I just tell him it is a preview of what life will be like with me when I'm old and living with him.
  The Baby Boy said I would ask the same questions in the same order day after day after day.  So, I decided after all the medication I've been on and the anesthesia from the surgery, I needed to give my body a bit of a break and a cleanse.  I'm off diet coke (my favorite) and I'm off alcohol ... mostly.  I get one adult beverage a week.

This drink of the week comes in handy.  You can have it with or without, so it works for me every evening, or a party where you have non-drinkers and drinkers together.  There is a little prep, only about 15 minutes plus cooling time, and it is so worth it.   

Celery Salty Dog
from Cooking Light, Feb. 2016

For Celery Syrup
3 cups celery, chopped
1 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Mix water and sugar in a small saucepan, add celery, bring to simmer and cook for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool.  Strain solids from syrup.

To make each drink:
In a shaker filled with ice add:

3/4 cup pink grapefruit juice
3 Tbsp. Celery Syrup
1 tsp. bitters
Shake until very cold.  Pour over ice and garnish with celery leaves.

If you want it with...add 1 shot good vodka.

February 5, 2016   Sunrise 9:24 am  Sunset 4:46 pm  Temp. H 12/ L -6°F

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Brown Butter Doughnuts with Brown Butter and Bourbon-Maple Glaze

I'm done with physical therapy.  I went to my last session and I'm now on my own.  I have a list of do's and don'ts but basically I can do what I want.

My physical therapist was a little sadistic, in my opinion.  She liked making me work hard but she did put up with my kind of crazy and my husband coming to every session so I couldn't get away with I was going to make stuff up about what exercises I could or couldn't do?  At least I have a witness to his kind of crazy now, everyone thinks he is the reasonable and balanced one.  HA!

I thought for all she did for us I would take her a little treat.  She works early and leaves in the early afternoon so I thought these doughnuts would be good.  I could bake them in the morning and drop them off on my way to work.  She would have been at work a couple of hours by then and a warm treat might be welcome.  I added the bourbon glaze because, well, she did have to put up with me for the last month.

Brown Butter Doughnuts
from Bobby Flay, Food Network
1/2 cup butter, browned and divided
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp. bourbon
1 cup confectioners sugar
pecans, finely chopped

To made doughnuts
Preheat oven to 375°F
Spray a 12 cup doughnut pan with cooking spray, set aside.

Put the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Melt and brown the butter until a golden brown, swirling the pan occasionally.  Transfer the browned butter to a measuring cup.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder baking soda, nutmeg, and salt.  Whisk to combine and set aside.  In a small bowl whisk sugar and eggs together until well combined, add buttermilk and vanilla,  and 1/2 the browned butter (1/4 cup), mix.  Pour wet ingredients into the flour and mix until just combined, do not over mix.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag, or a large ziplock, and cut off the end.  Pipe batter into prepared doughnut pan.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean, tops will be lighter than the bottoms.  Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes and then turn doughnuts out on to rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, put maple syrup and the rest of the browned butter in a small saucepan.  Bring to a simmer.  Add Bourbon and cook for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and add powdered sugar.  Let cool slightly.  Dip tops of cooled doughnuts into the glaze and then sprinkle with chopped pecans.

1 year ago:   Chicken Piccata and Blood on the Kitchen Floor
2 years ago:  Skillet Peach Cobbler
3 years ago:  Black shoes and Blue Pant and A Chocolate Martini
4 years ago:  Cioppino and Carrying in Wood at -50