Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Coffee Custard

I was at the end of a long week on the road. It was Friday and I was headed to the airport to fly to Seattle and spend the weekend with Gman and his people.  I left the job fair, opened the trunk of the rental, put the squishy ball I got for Gman into my suitcase and slammed the trunk shut.  With the keys in the trunk. And the doors to the car locked.

I knew the second I let go of the trunk as I was slamming it shut.  I was so upset.  I knew I was going to miss my airplane and then I wouldn't have my time with Gman if I had to reschedule my flight.  I only had a day and a half with him as it was.  I called the car rental office and told them what I did.  They called AAA and had someone come and unlock my car for me.  (It was a little scary how fast it can be done!).  I was on my way and made my flight with time to spare.

So, I chalk it up to one more travel experience I had, and don't have to have again.  And, I didn't cry so I deserve a treat.

I love pudding and custard.  This is an easy dessert when you don't want to bother with much.  You stir everything together, pour into cups or small ramekins and cook them in your crock-pot.  If you like your custard warm, you can put it in right before dinner and this will be ready once the dinner dishes are done.  If you like your custard cold, make them the night before, cover, and refrigerate.  Flavors are easy, once you get the ratio down.  Just remember you want 1 1/4 cup coconut milk, one egg, and two egg yolks.  Then, by adding flavorings, chocolate chips, or coconut flakes you have lots of options.  I love this for breakfast too, so by adding coffee I'm getting my eggs and coffee in one bite!
I like to top mine with a little heavy cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Coffee Custard
1 1/4 cup coconut milk
1 egg
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sweetener ( I use Swerve)
1 tsp. espresso powder*
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch salt

Mix all ingredients together, pour into 4 small coffee cups or ramekins, place in slow cooker.  Add hot water to slow cooker about 1/2 way up cups.  Place a towel over the top and  cover with lid, the towel helps to prevent water dropping off the lid into the custard cups.  Cook on low for 2 hours or until knife inserted in custard comes out clean.  Remove custard from slow cooker, remove any water that has accumulated on top of custard cups.

*in place of espresso powder add 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa, or 1/4 cup flaked unsweetened coconut and 1/2 tsp. coconut extract, or chocolate chips, or 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. maple extract...

4 years ago: Feeling Sorry for Myself and Dried Cherry Muffins
5 years ago: Stacking Wood and Pork Chili
6 years ago: Pumpkin Monkey Bread and the Computer Crash

October 30, 2018  Sunrise 9:32 am  Sunset 5:35 pm  Temp. H 22/ L 10°F

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Fennel and Garlic Cream Poached Halibut

I travel a lot for work this time of year.  When I'm home it is so Dave can do my laundry, I can pet the dogs and sleep in my own bed.  I really don't have much time or energy for cooking.  Also, I am coming from the real world, where it is really fall, to Fairbanks where it is cold and rainy or snowy.  So far this year I haven't been home when it snowed and it has melted before I land, but I was in Iowa last week and it was 70°F and sunny only to land in Fairbanks where it was 42 and overcast, and colder at night.

I crave something warm and soup-like this time of year.  Dave doesn't think soup is dinner so I go for something with lots of sauce.  This halibut dish checks all the boxes for warm, saucy, and enough substance to count for dinner.

Poaching the fennel bulb in heavy cream until it is soft really sweetens the fennel, I'm not really a fan of raw fennel with it's anise flavor, but once it is roasted or poached it takes on a whole different flavor profile.  Then you pour the hot flavored cream over some halibut or cod and bake until it is cooked through - easy and so, so delicious.

To add a little fresh zip to it all is a fennel frond and lemon relish.  I could just eat this on it's own, or over chicken or pork.

So dinner is done, easy and delicious and I have time to supervise Dave doing my laundry for my next work trip.
Fennel and Garlic Cream Poached Halibut
adapted from Bon Appétit, October 2018

2 small fennel bulbs, fronds reserved, bulbs cut into 12" thick wedges
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 lb. halibut, skin removed
1 small lemon
1/2 cup avocado or olive oil
fresh black pepper

Preheat oven to 250˚F.  Place fennel in a large saucepan, add garlic, cream and salt.  Place over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally until fennel is just tender, 12-15 minutes, do not let the cream boil.  Remove from heat. 
Place fish in an oven proof casserole dish.  Pour cream sauce over fish.  Place in oven and bake uncovered for 18-25 minutes, until fish flakes easily with a fork.

While fish is cooking, finely chop reserved fennel fronds and place in a small bowl, you want about 1/2 cup.  Cut ends off lemon; discard.  Place lemon upright on one end and cut lemon into four lobes, working around the center as you would an apple and leaving the core and seeds behind.  Finely chop lobes peel and all and transfer to bowl with fennel fronds.  You should have about 1/3 cup.  Squeeze juice from core over fennel fronds; discard core.  Drizzle in oil and toss mixture to combine.  Season fennel oil with salt and lots of pepper. 

Break fish into large pieces and divide among shallow bowls.  Divide garlic and fennel among bowls and ladle some garlic cream on top. Spoon fennel oil over.

4 years ago:   Garlic Chili Chicken and My Afternoon Date
5 years ago:   The Awful Day and Homemade Cranberry Liqueur
6 years ago:   Cowboy Cookies

October 25, 2018  Sunrise 9:16 am  Sunset 9:52 pm  Temp. H 48/ L 27°F

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Keto Lemon Drop Martini

Ever have one of those moments when you wish you could just curl under the rug and never be seen again?  I had one of those today.

I was at work after being gone for a week and a work friend stopped in to say hi and admire my avocado start.  We were talking about the avocado plant and how I should cut it back to encourage a more bushy growth.  I was looking at the plant and there was a dead looking tiny leaf so I reached out to touch it AND IT MOVED!  I was so startled I jumped back and grabbed my friend's arm only it was her breast!  So I got scared by a bug and felt my friend up all in the matter of 1.3 seconds.  I could have died.

The only think to do is go home and drink.  Don't give me a hard time it is so early in the week. I leave again on Thursday for work, I hope she forgets all about this before I get home.


Lemon Drop Martini

2 ounces lemon vodka, no lemon vodka? no problem, just add more lemon juice or lemon extract
2 ounces fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp Swerve confectioners or lemon sweet leaf drops to taste
2 ounces plain or lemon sparkling water, such as La Croix, because I like bubbles
1 lemon wedge or lemon peel twist for garnish

Rim the top of a martini glass with the lemon wedge, set aside. In a shaker, add the lemon vodka, lemon juice, sweetener and a handful of ice. Shake for 15 seconds. Strain into martini glass. Top with sparkling water. Garnish with lemon wedge or twist, serve immediately.

4 years ago:  Citrus Cranberry Fizz and My Love of Fridays
5 years ago:  S'More-tini and Our Love of a Fire
6 years ago:  Chocolate Martini and Death of a Sewing Machine

October 23, 2018  Sunrise 9:09 am  Sunset 5:59 pm   Temp. H 47/ L 27

Friday, October 19, 2018

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Jalapeños and Lemon

I'm cheating today.  Really, I'm in Seattle with Gman and his people.  I'm at the end of a week of work away from home and I stopped by to spend the weekend with my little man.  I'll head home Sunday to be at work again on Monday.

I did make this chicken dish last week and just now got around to posting it.  I saw the recipe in a cooking magazine and tore it out to try it.  A couple weekends ago, I saw this dish at an artisan bazaar and I had to have it, so I could make this dish, because I don't have any other dishes that would work.

Dave saw the dish and said something like, "I thought you were going to quit buying new dishes." I just laughed.

This is a chicken recipe that Dave didn't mind.  He liked the garlic and spicy jalapeños.  The lemon cooked a little too much in my convection oven so I'll turn the convection fan off next time I make this.  The roasted garlic is pure heaven smeared on top of the chicken or spread on toasted bread.
Roasted Chicken lets with Garlic and Jalapeños
adapted from Bon Appetite, October issue

4 chicken leg quarters (thigh and drumstick)
2 heads garlic, top 1/3 cut off
1 lemon thinly sliced
1 jalapeño thinly sliced
several sprigs fresh thyme
black pepper, to taste
1/2 avocado oil

Place chicken in a baking dish and season generously with salt.  Set uncovered in refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325˚F.

Add garlic, lemon, jalapeño, thyme and pepper to dish with chicken.  Pour oil over everything and mix with your hands to coat everything.  Arrange ingredients and turn garlic cut side down.

Roast chicken until meat is almost falling off the bone, 75-90 minutes.  Let chicken cool for about 10 minutes, serve with toasted country style bread.

3 years ago:  No Bean Soup Before the Airplane
4 years ago:  Banana Muffins and the Little Blue Cougar Pills
5 years ago:  Kids Moving Home and Warm Brussels Spout Slaw

October 19, 2018   Sunrise 8:56am  Sunset 6:13pm   Temp. H 42/ L 31˚F

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Homemade Sugar Free Coffee Liqueur

One of the traditions I am going to miss is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving when my friend Donna would come over and we would drink Pumpkin Spice Coffee with Kahula.  I would be busy making pies for the next day and we would visit, drink, and have a good time.  Donna moved, and while we do keep in contact through Facetime and text, it just won't be the same.

Now, I do plan on drinking this, with or without her, and I am making it keto.  This needs to sit for 3-4 weeks in a cupboard or pantry, so make it now and it will be ready for your holidays.  This is wonderful with a little heavy cream and  vodka for a chocolate martini over ice cream for an Affogato, or in a pretty little glass to sip on.  You can make it with regular or decaf coffee, I use decaf because caffeine really keeps me from sleeping, and I usually have my cocktail in the evening (I said usually, not always).
The mixture sits on my kitchen counter so I can
shake it every day or so.

After straining through a fine mesh sieve I strain
through a coffee filter.

So, I included the recipe for my keto version of the Thanksgiving coffee I'll be having this year.  I'll whip one up, Facetime with Donna and feel so lucky to have such a wonderful, dear friend...even so far away.

Keto Coffee Liqueur
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup Swerve Sweetener
  • 1/2 cup ground coffee, I use decaf
  • 1  cup vodka
  • 1 cup spiced rum
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine water, erythritol, and coffee grounds.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool.
Transfer mixture to a glass jar and add vodka, rum and vanilla extract
Seal jar and place in a dark, cool spot for at least 3 weeks, shaking the jar every few days.
Strain through a coffee filter (this will take several days and changes of coffee filters, be patient, you want to get all the grounds out.

For Thanksgiving Pie Making Coffee

1 cup fresh brewed coffee
1 Tbsp. heavy cream
1/8-1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 shot keto coffee liqueur
stevia sweetened whipped cream, optional

Pour all ingredients into blender, blend until frothy.  Pour into mug and top with stevia sweetened whipped cream, if desired. 

3 years ago:  Fudge Filled Bars and Visiting an Old Friend
4 years ago:  Dark Chocolate Cake with Whipped Ganache for a Birthday
5 years ago:  Roast chicken with Mushrooms and Peas and the Visit from Witches

October 17, 2018   Sunrise 8:50 am  Sunset 6:20 pm  Temp. H 48/ L 30°F

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Big Surprise aka How Dave is a big Fat Liar

Sometimes there are just no words for how surprised you are and how wonderful that surprise is.  And, what a big fat liar someone or someones can be.

My husband has been talking about his elk hunting trip with my brother for months. He got his ticket to Denver packed his gun and off he went.  I received a text saying my brother picked him up and then a text saying he wouldn't have cell signal on the ranch he was going to for the hunt. That is pretty common in Alaska, so I didn't think a thing about it. Four days later I got a text saying he was back from the hunt and getting ready to fly home. No elk, it was unusually hot and they just didn't see any elk moving on the property they had permission to hunt on. Nothing unusual about any of that.

During that time I talked to my mom on the phone. I talk to her a couple times a week. And I checked in with my dad and mom in Arizona, again nothing unusual. My brother in law came and took me to dinner one night while Dave was gone, just a regular week. Dave got home and we continued on with our regular routine.  I left for a work trip, I got home, same stuff another day.

On Friday I texted Dave that we should go camping.  It was cold at night, but it hasn't snowed and stayed yet and we could enjoy the cool evening with a campfire.  Then I started thinking about how I just got home, and I'm headed out again next weekend so I texted and said no, we should stay home.  Dave replied that we should stay home because he was going to Tazlina to help our friends, Danny and Donna and family, pull in the fish wheel.  Made sense, and Danny was picking up his 4-wheeler this weekend so Dave didn't have to pull the trailer down.

So, Saturday morning came, I met a friend for coffee (now that Donna has abandoned me to live closer to her grandchildren, other friends have stepped up for coffee dates, I must have been really pathetic), I went to the grocery store and I came home.  My brother in law stopped for coffee and I was just sitting down for lunch when Dave texted me from the front yard.  Danny and Donna had just arrived and he wanted me to come outside to help load the 4-wheeler.  I looked out the window and there were like 8 people in the yard, but I needed to help...o.k.  I put my lunch away and went outside.

This is what happened when I went to "help" Dave load the wheeler.
You can see how happy I am to be the one person out of the 8 people out there that had to step on the corner of the trailer ramp.  Everyone had their phones out and I couldn't figure out why, also I hate getting my picture taken. And then when Dave asked me if I had it, like I can't step on the corner of the board, and I'm the one who has to do that?  Then Danny tells me that it may not fit, so I turn to look at the empty trailer to see why the wheeler won't fit.  Oh my, I was so shocked I can't even put it into words, there was Grandpa's truck.

Unloading the truck.
So, the elk hunt was a ruse.  Dave flew down to Denver and my brother did pick him up, but they drove to Montana (the cell silence for 4 days so they wouldn't slip and give it away) and met our friends Danny and Donna and loaded the truck into D&D's trailer.  Dave and my brother drove back to Denver and Dave flew home.  Danny and Donna drove the truck, along with some special family treasures, back to Alaska.  To add to the deceit, Dave had posted pictures of his elk hunt on his Facebook page, turns out he was just crouching next to some bush in my mom's front yard.
Dave "hunting" 

Now, when I talked to my mom on the phone, Dave was sitting next to her and she never breathed a word.  My dad and mom knew about this plan and I had spent a couple days with them when I went to Arizona for work, and they never let on about any of it.  Apparently, everyone knew, the girl that cuts my hair, all our neighbors, everyone Dave works with...and I never had a clue.  And of course everyone had to stop by to see the truck and laugh about how they knew about this for months and I was in the dark.

I was a little emotional the whole weekend, we did get it to run for about 15 seconds, but we have a lot of work to do, that truck sat for about 8 years or so.  I was gone last week for work and Dave got the garage rearranged and the truck in the garage for the winter.  We have a new winter project.  I can't wait for next summer when I'll be driving my grandpa's truck.

Dave and I agreed that we are done with surprises.  We are too old and my heart can't take it anymore!

October 15, 2018  Sunrise 8:44 am  Sunset 6:27 pm  Temp. H 46/ L 26˚F

Friday, October 12, 2018

Creamy Mushroom Soup and Going to Work in the Dark

 It is a sad time of the year.  That time when we are losing about 7 minutes of daylight a day and that awful realization that soon you will have to drive to work in the dark.
From the parking lot at work Wednesday 

This week, there is a little light because it is just dawn as I park my car, but I'm out of town for a week for work next week and when I come back it will be dark in the mornings.  Now I know that Daylight Savings ends soon, but really, when you are losing 7 minutes a day you are losing about 45 minutes a week so that little spot of light is just a mean tease.

And with the darker weather, you know the cold is here to stay.  No snow so far, but again I'm expecting it to be white when I get back next week from work.

So with the cold, comes the need for warm, delicious things from my kitchen.  I love soup, and as I've said before, Dave does not think soup is dinner.  So, sometimes I make soup as a starter for dinner, or I make a big batch and that is my lunch for the week.  This is so good that I make a double batch so we can have it for both.

Creamy Mushroom Soup

1/4 cup butter
1 Tbsp. dried sage
1 tsp. smoked paprika, plus more for garnish if desired
1 lb. mushrooms
4 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream, plus more for garnish if desired

In a heavy bottomed stock pot over medium heat, melt butter and cook until golden and smells nutty, add dried sage and paprika, cook 30 seconds.  Add mushrooms and cook for 5-7 minutes until mushrooms start to soften, add stock.  Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove from heat.  Using an emersion blender, blend until soup is smooth or carefully transfer to blender and process until smooth then return to pan.
Add cream, mix well and reheat if necessary.  Divide between bowls and top with a swirl of cream (put some on your spoon and swirl on top of soup) and a dash of paprika.  Enjoy
Makes 4 servings

2 years ago:  Seeded Whole Grain Quick Bread
3 years ago:  Sudafed and Green Pea Soup
5 years ago:  Mac and Cheese with Bacon and Weird Dreams

October 12, 2018   Sunrise 8:34 am  Sunset 6:38 pm   Temp. H 49/ L 34°F

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Blueberry Mojito

I'm always trying to add healthy things to my diet.  I bought this "drink your greens" type of drink.  The advertisement assured me that if I drank it for 30 days, I would lose weight, feel energized, my skin would clear up, bloat would go away, and I would jump out of bed in the morning.  So knowing that everything that any advertiser ever said was true, I ordered my 30 day supply.  The first morning I eagerly mixed the green powder with my 8 oz. of cold water and started to sip...it was like drinking pond water.  Well, pond water with some lemon in it.  I choked it down.

The second morning I decided that I didn't need 8 oz. of the joyful juice, so I mixed it with 4 oz. of water and tried to drink it really fast.  The 4 oz. wasn't quite enough liquid so I ended up chewing my way through the last bit and trying not to gag.

I never made it to the third morning.  I looked at the bag and said, "screw it." and there it sits to this day.

I'm really into blueberries right now.  We have some wild Alaska blueberries in the freezer and several bags of organic blueberries I got from the grocery store.  I'm putting them in my dessert, my waffles, and now my drink of the week.

I'm thinking this is a health drink, a low carb health drink because of all the antioxidants in blueberries.  So I'm feeling very healthy drinking this.  This is one health drink I can throw all my support around.  I'm happy to share the bag of freeze dried pond water mix with you, and I'll keep these mojitos.

Blueberry Mojito

fresh mint leaves, about 5 large
1 Tbsp. confectioners Swerve, or more/less to taste
juice of 1/2 lime
2 oz. white rum
2 Tbsp. fresh or frozen blueberries
sparkling water, I use LaCroix lime

Prepare a drink glass with ice, set aside.

In a separate glass add mint, Swerve, lime juice, and blueberries, muddle with a spoon or muddler until well incorporated.  Strain into prepared glass You don't have to strain, but I prefer it this way).  Add rum and top with sparkling water.  Garnish with mint leaves, a couple frozen blueberries and/or lime wedge.  Enjoy all the health benefits this provides.

2 years ago:  Last Camping Trips
3 years ago:  The Ruined Pedicure and Pasta with Spinach and White Beans
5 years ago:  Retiring and 3-2-1 Bread

October 10, 2018  Sunrise 8:28 am  Sunset 6:45pm  Temp. H 51/ L 34˚F

Monday, October 8, 2018

Broccoli Cheese Crock Pot Soup

My dogs are assholes.  Yes, all of them.

Dave is gone for a hunting trip with my brother.  Hershey barks non-stop.  I think he thinks he has to guard the house while Dave is gone, and when Hershey barks, Riley barks, then Tek and Mooree get in on the fun.  The big dogs bark a couple times, but Hershey does.  not.  stop.  So, I got a squirt bottle and filled it with water, when he barks I tell him to stop, and when he doesn't stop, I squirt him.  He is starting to get the message.

Mooree is still an energetic puppy and while I can put up with that, I can't put up with the digging.  Our back yard is all pavers, gravel, wood deck and grass, and there is a gate to the grass the dogs can't get to unless I open the gate to let them run.  We have pulled all the flowers for winter so around the edge of the deck are empty flower boxes.  Mooree has decided he needs to dig in them, get dirt all over the place and then roll in it.  Plus, it has been raining so the dirt is now mud and all the dogs walk through it and into to the house, so my house is a mud pit. I was out in the pouring rain on Saturday sweeping the mud off the deck. And he eats my shoes.

Tek is mean and I got woken up at 4:30 with a jolt because someone (Lily or Mooree) yelped as Tek was getting pissy with them and I had to go running down the stairs into the garage where the big dog kennel is to be sure no one was bleeding. As it is, the little dogs have to kennel separate from the big dogs because Tek made Hershey bleed once.
And Tek is just not my favorite dog.

Riley is refusing to eat.  I actually sit on the floor and spoon feed that damn dog the stewed chicken I make him because he won't eat dog food and he is so underweight the vet said to do anything to get him to eat. Chicken must taste better on a spoon.

Then, while Dave is gone, I worked on cleaning out the dish/exercise room and getting it ready for me to exercise in during the winter.  I purchased some giant foam squares to put on the concrete floor in that room.  I vacuumed and mopped the floor, then laid out the foam squares and put a gate on the door so the dogs can't come in and get it muddy.  Dave is gone and Riley HATES Mooree so I brought Riley into the room this morning, put him on a soft little blanket and started an exercise tape.  Mooree and Tek got into something so I ran to make sure all was well with the house.  When I came back into the room to resume exercising, Riley had pooped right in the middle of the floor on my new foam squares.  So I spent about 15 minutes cleaning up the mess and rearranging the foam squares so I didn't lay down on the pooped one to do my push-ups or sit-ups.  Yes, I did disinfect the area but still, yech.

Lily is the only good dog we have.

After all this energy to take care of my asshole dogs, I am tired.  To help save myself some time with making dinner, I made this dump soup.  You just dump everything in the crock pot and a few hours later (or when you get home from work) you blend it with your emersion blender and dinner is ready.  I always have all the ingredients in my house so I can make this whenever I'm struggling for dinner or lunch.  I made this and had it all week while Dave was gone because 1) it is delicious and 2) Dave doesn't think soup is dinner.  He doesn't know what he is missing.

Broccoli and Cheese Crockpot Soup

1 lb. frozen broccoli
4 cups chicken stock
8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cheddar cheese
1 cup fresh baby spinach

Put broccoli, chicken stock, cream cheese, onion, garlic, salt and pepper in crock pot.  Cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-6 hours.

Add cheddar cheese and spinach, blend with immersion blender or carefully transfer to blender and puree until smooth.

Top with a little heavy cream (pour some onto a spoon and drizzle onto top of soup) and cheddar cheese.  Enjoy

Makes 6 servings

5 years ago:  Cranberry Shortbread

October 8, 2018   Sunrise 8:22 am  Sunset 6:52 pm  Temp. H 43/ L 29˚F