Thursday, October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!  May your day be full of treats and your night be full of trick-or-treaters.

Our neighborhood gets hundreds of spooks looking for treats.  Dave pulls the fire ring out to the front driveway and we hand out candy to the kids and visit with parents while they warm up by the fire.  I have a table set up with hot apple cider for a warm drink before they march on in the snow and cold.

Tonight, it is going to be snowing/raining so Dave will put the pop-up next to the fire pit so I can stay somewhat dry while I hand out the candy.  I love seeing all the kids costumes with the winter coats and snow boots!  It is supposed to be about 30˚F tonight,  a warm night for trick or treaters.  I remember nights of 30 and 40 below zero on Halloween!

Where ever you are I hope you have warm cider and cookies, and very few tricks.

October 31, 2019  Sunrise 9:35  Sunset 5:32  Temp H 29/ L 21°F

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Moose in the Morning

I almost died and it is our travel guys fault.

It was Tuesday before I left for Arizona and Oregon, the Yankees were playing in the play-offs and the game started early so we recorded it and had plans to watch the game after work.  It was about 4:30 and I was just getting ready to make a copy of my travel folder for my husband so he had a copy of my schedule and our travel guy walked into my office and informed me the Yankees were behind.  I told him I didn't want to know because we were recording it but then I had to check so for the last 1/2 hour of work we talked about the game, watched it on our computers and were totally non-productive (at least I was).

Well, the Yankees lost and I grabbed my purse and said I was really unhappy and went home.  My brother in law came over for dinner and we watched the whole game and I didn't tell them how it ended.  After the game, I packed and headed to bed so I could get up at 4:00 so I could make it to the airport by 5:00.

About 12:30 I woke up with a start and realized I left my computer, projector and travel folder on my desk.  I needed to run by my office on the way to the airport.  I got up at 3:30, got dressed and then woke up my husband with the happy news that we needed to swing by my office on the way to drop me off.

We pulled up in front of my new office building and I sprinted up the stairs and was headed up the sidewalk to the door when I see a baby moose right in front of me. Crap, baby moose means momma moose and they are dangerous.  I turned around to head back to the car and not 6 feet from me was the momma moose, looking at me as she was bedded down in the grass right next to the sidewalk. I knew at that point she was going to get up and trample me to death. I backed up a few steps and headed to the car only to come face to face with a second baby moose between me and the car.  I gave the second baby a wide berth and made it to the car.

I told Dave what was going on and he told me to just walk down to the end of the building, cross the lawn there and walk right against the building to the door.  So I headed down the parking lot to the end of the building, crossed the lawn and walked right against the building, through the flowers and bushes, to the front door.  Just as I was almost to the door, one of the babies came right up next to me to eat some of the bush.  The baby startled when he saw me and ran to the momma, which made the momma stand up and take a step in my direction.  I was praying the the outside door was unlocked.  I had my key card for the inside door, but I didn't know if the outside door was going to be unlocked at 4:00 am.  Luckily, it was unlocked and I slipped inside. I caught my breath, used my key card to get in and ran upstairs to retrieve my forgotten file and computer.

When I got back downstairs, the momma moose was standing next to the sidewalk.  Dave had walked half way up the stairs and was waiting for me.  I asked him how I was going to get to the car since the momma was between me and the car.  He said to walk along the length of the building and come down the lawn far away from the moose.  I hugged the building, not making eye contact and then quickly walked down to the parking lot on the other side of the building.  I jumped in the car and we headed to the airport.  I think I was through security before my heart slowed down.

I have never been so close to a moose and I can't really believe how big the momma was.  My head was about the hight of her shoulder and there I was messing around in the same area as her two babies.  I am so lucky I didn't get charged and trampled.  And it is all the travel guys fault.

I did text him and tell him what happened, I also told him I expected him to get me upgrade for the rest of the trip.  He didn't go for it.

So, now I'm home from my trip and settling back into our regular routine.  I don't drink adult beverages while I'm on the road for work trips so I'm  having the drink I needed after my moose encounter.  And it is almost Halloween so I'm drinking this Halloween inspired cocktail.  It is so good, I might have to rename it and keep drinking it through the holidays!

Black Widow Cocktail
adapted from Keto Diet

Blackberry Juice
enough for about 5 cocktails
1 lb. fresh or frozen blackberries
1/4 cup lime juice
1 cup water
1/2 cup powdered Swerve, or your favorite sweetener

Place blackberries, juice and water into a saucepan, bring to boil over medium heat.  Boil for 3-5 minutes.  Once softened, mash the berries using a fork.  Pour through a fine mesh sieve and press the solids to remove all the juice.  Discard the seeds.

Pour into a jar and add the powdered Swerve, mix until well combined.  Let cool and refrigerate.  Juice will keep for 5 days.

For Cocktail
makes 1
3 oz. blackberry juice
2 oz. vodka
juice from 1/2 lime, about 2 Tbsp.
lime sparkling water
sugar free syrup, for rim, optional
freeze dried berries, crushed, for garnish, optional
fresh blackberries for garnish, optional

Dip rim of glass in syrup, dip in crushed berries.  Add ice blackberry juice and vodka, stir.  Top with sparkling water and garnish.

1 year ago:    Fennel and Garlic Cream Poached Halibut
5 years ago:   Sacher Torte
7 years ago:   Horse Shoe Champion and Gingered Pear and Brandy Drink of the Week

October 29, 2019  Sunrise 9:28 am  Sunset 5:39 pm  Temp H 40/ L 30°F

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Halloween Cookies

A bubbling cauldron of Halloween brew!

I'm gone a lot for October, actually right now I'm in Oregon recruiting on college campuses.  But, before I left I decorated some Halloween cookies.  The cookies were a spiced sugar cookie and I added maple flavoring to the royal icing.
What do witches put in their potions?  Eye of newt, shining stars...

There are several things I need to work on.  I forgot to use the smoother when the cookies came out of the oven.  I can't believe what a difference it makes using it.  I consoled myself with the bumpy texture of the cauldrons with the fact that cauldrons are usually bumpy from all the use they get.  I am still working on the right consistency for royal icing and I really need to work on keeping air bubbles out of the frosting.  Every green bubble had an air bubble and dried with a little hole, so I'll have to figure that one out.
First layer of bubbles

I did one layer on each pan then
added the second layer of bubbles.

But, overall I thought they were cute and very Halloweeny!  I get home on the 27th, just in time to buy candy for the trick or treaters at our house.
Three layers of bubbles and then the
extra ingredients.

1 year ago:    Keto Lemon Drop Martini and Wanting toCrawl Under the Rug
5 years ago:  Apple Pumpkintini and Getting Wood Delivered
7 years ago:  The Good Friend and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

October 24, 2019  Sunrise 9:11 am  Sunset 5:56 pm  Temp H 28/L 20°F

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Trying to Steal a Dog and Spaghetti Squash Pizza

We were out to lunch with some friends.  We had just finished up and were walking out to our cars.  Dave saw a scrawny little dog in the parking lot and walked back in to see if it belonged to anyone in the diner.
The little dog was one of those just-a-little-fluff-for-fur kind of dogs and was wandering around and holding up one paw and then another because he was so cold.  I walked up to the puppy, crouched down and called him over. He tentatively came over and I petted him a little and then tried to pick it up.  The dog, of course, darted away.  I started calling him over again and the man in the pickup (who was looking at his phone and not paying any attention to this little, cold puppy) opened his truck door and the dog jumped right in.

I apologized for trying to steal his dog. But the dog was cold and the guy in the truck wasn't paying attention to him so who knew this guy owned the dog.

I'm not allowed to pet strange dogs anymore.

Well, to make myself feel better about the kidnapping attempt, I made pizza.  Pizza makes everyone feel better.  I made the crust with spaghetti squash which Dave and I both liked.  I don't like cauliflower crust, it tastes too much like cauliflower.  While spaghetti squash has a couple extra carbs per cup (100grams) 7 carbs for spaghetti squash and 5 for cauliflower, it still is a low carb option and it doesn't taste like cauliflower, a win for me.

Spaghetti Squash Crust Pizza

1 med. spaghetti squash
2 eggs
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 350°F.

CAREFULLY poke about 5-7 vents in spaghetti squash (I use a sharp knife and my husband yells at me if he sees me do it)  Microwave for 5 minutes.

Cut squash in half and use a spoon to remove seeds.  Place squash, cut side down, on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 20-30 minutes until soft.  Alternatively, you can cook in your microwave.

Using a fork, remove strands of squash out of the shell and place in a clean towel.  Let cook until you can handle it.  Squeeze as much liquid out of the squash as possible.  You can't get this too dry.  When all the liquid is squeezed out, place in a medium size bowl.  All all the other ingredients and mix well.

On a parchment lined sheet pan, pat the dough into a 10-12 inch circle.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until set and nicely browned.  Turn crust over and bake for 5 more minutes, remove from oven.

Top with pizza toppings of your choice.  We like red sauce, sausage, pepperoni, bacon, mozzarella, parm and a light sprinkle of red pepper flakes.

Return to oven and bake until cheese is melted and golden brown.

1 year ago:    Roasted Chicken Thighs with Lemon and Jalapeños and Cheating
5 years ago:   Sun Dried Cherry Muffins and Traveling Alone
7years ago:   Roasted Chicken with Apples and Garlic

October 22, 2019  Sunrise 8:55  Sunset 6:14  Temp. H 27/L18°F

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Roasted Broccoli Salad

I'm feeling very healthy these days. Mostly because I am getting my exercise in.  Our new offices are on the 5th floor of our building and the elevator is soooooo sssslllloooowww (really, we timed it and I can walk up to our floor, down to the first floor and up to our office floor BEFORE the elevator arrives). So, I walk the stairs every morning to get to my office.

Everyone in my office has been talking about what great shape we will be in as we huff and puff up those stairs.  I wonder how long it will take up to climb those flights of stairs and not be out of breath?

And because my new office is literally across the hall from the ladies room and so I don't get my steps in, I have decided to walk down the stairs and up the stairs every time I go to the 16 times a day. And, I placed little exercise cards in the windows of each floor so when I get to that floor I will do 10 wall push ups or 10 squats etc. So you see, I am getting a lot of exercise.

So continue my healthy habits I made this delicious roasted broccoli salad and have been bringing it for my lunch.  Broccoli is not my favorite, but I love it in this salad.  It has just enough crunch left in the broccoli and the bacon bits to make it very satisfying.  I think it gives me enough energy to climb those 5 flights of stairs up and down one extra time after lunch.

Roasted Broccoli Salad

4 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 cup avocado oil
2 bunches of broccoli, about 4 cups, separated into bite sized florets
1/4 cup onion
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp. sweetener, I used swerve confectioners, optional
1/4 tsp. salt, more or less to taste
1/4 tsp. pepper, more or less to taste
3 Tbsp. salted sunflower seeds

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Toss broccoli with avocado oil and spread in a single layer.  Roast for 15-20 minutes until just beginning to crisp edges.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a medium frying pan.  Cook chopped bacon until crisp.  Remove from heat to a paper towel to drain.  Add onion to bacon fat and sauté until translucent.  Remove to paper towel to drain. 

In a small bowl mix mayo, sour cream, sweetener, salt and pepper. 

In a large bowl toss broccoli with mayo/ sour cream mixture, add onion and bacon.  Pour into serving bowl and top with sunflower seeds.

1 year ago:    Homemade Coffee Liqueur and Keeping Traditions
5 years ago:   Garlic Chili Chicken and My Saturday Afternoon Date
7 years ago:   Chocolate Chip Banana Cake

October 17, 2010  Sunrise 8:49 am  Sunset 6:21 pm  Temp. H 31/ L 20°F

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Beef Wellington

Beef Wellington and fresh tomatoes from the garden.
Beef Wellington is my mom's favorite dinner.  I try to make it for her at least once each summer she comes up.  I don't know why people don't make it more often, it really isn't that hard and once it is put together you can hold it in the fridge until you are ready to bake it.  It is the perfect fancy dinner for company dish!
One year, when I was trying to learn how to make Wellingtons I made them over and over.  I made beef Wellington and pork Wellington so many times, my husband asked me to stop practicing for a while.  I was struggling with a soggy bottom, and nobody likes a soggy bottom.  
So, next time you want to make a pretty fancy dinner make wellingtons.  They really are easy and so delicious.  These are made with regular puff pastry, but next time I'm allowed to practice I'm going to try a keto version of the pastry.  

Beef Wellington
4 4-6 oz. beef tenderloin steaks
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. avocado oil or olive oil
4 tsp. dijon mustard
4 slices prosciutto
8 oz. mushrooms, chopped finely
1 shallot, finely diced
1 tsp.  dried thyme or 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. brandy or cognac
2 Sheets puff pastry, I use Pepperidge Farms - it is the only kind you can find in Fairbanks
1 egg

In a cast iron pan or other heavy frying pan, melt butter and oil over medium high heat.  When pan is very hot and butter melted, sear all sides of the steak, salt and pepper each steak.  Place on a plate and set aside (or if making ahead, place in the refrigerator).

Reduce heat to medium.  Place mushrooms in a clean dish towel and wring as much water out of the mushrooms as possible.  Add shallot and mushrooms to pan, cooking until  soft and very dry.  Add brandy and thyme and cook until the liquid has evaporated.  Remove from heat and place in a bowl to cool.

Take puff pastry out of the refrigerator and roll out to reduce the creases from the folds.  Cut one sheet in half (each tenderloin steak Top each steak with 1 tsp. dijon mustard and 1/4 of the shallot/mushroom mixture.  Fold the puff pastry around the steak, pinching the seams to completely seal the little package.  Cut off extra pastry at the  folds, setting the scraps aside to make little leaves, flowers, vines or other decorations on the top of each Wellington. Place Wellingtons on a parchment lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes before baking.

At this point you can hold them until you are ready to bake them.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Mix egg with a teaspoon of water and brush tops and sides of each Wellington.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and a meat thermometer reaches 125°F for medium rare.

Serve with mushroom gravy, if desired.

1 year ago:    The Big Truck Surprise aka How Dave is a Big Fat Liar
3 years ago:   Pumpkin Cheesecake with Praline Topping
5 years ago:   Citrus Cranberry Fizz

October 15, 2019  Sunrise 8:43am  Sunset 6:28 pm  Temp H 33/ L 17°F

Friday, October 11, 2019

New Offices and Muffin in a Mug Cinnamon Roll

Breakfast at my desk.

Our office got moved to a "new" building.  As part of a consolidation effort for our university, one of the old dorms has been changed into an office building.  When I say "changed" I mean the beds have been removed and our office furniture has been moved in.  So, I can now say that I have stayed in a dorm at UAF!

One of the perks of our new office space is a kitchen with a working oven.  The other building we were in did not have an oven.  So, I figured it would be wonderful to bring cinnamon rolls and bake them in our oven so our whole floor would smell warm, cinnamony and sweet.  I made these cinnamon rolls without the caramel (I wanted to see how the oven baked before I added the caramel), put them together at home while Dave and I watched football and then put them in the refrigerator overnight.  I took them to work the next morning and baked them there.  And, because there was no caramel sauce I made a quick cream cheese frosting for the top.
Cinnamon rolls and cream cheese frosting
for my work mates.

Now, I am all about bringing treats for everyone else, but I am not about to leave myself out of a treat opportunity.  So, I made a muffin in a mug cinnamon roll.  It was easy and very delicious, warm out of the microwave and topped with syrup.  Next time I'll top with a little butter too, just because I can.  I also have decided to keep a couple of these mixes in my desk drawer so when I need a little warm treat I can whip it up any time I want.
My little treat mix I brought to work.

Mixed and ready for the microwave

Mmmmm, syrup.

Cinnamon Muffin in a Mug

1-1/2 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. almond flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. sweetener of choice, right now I'm loving a monk fruit-erythritol mix
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, I like a little more
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a microwave safe cup or bowl, melt butter.  Add all the other ingredients to the cup and mix well.  Microwave for 60-90 seconds until batter is completely cooked (at home it took 60 seconds, at work it took 90).
Top with syrup, keto cream cheese frosting, chocolate chips or butter.

The view out my new office window...yes, we have snow.

1 year ago:    Creamy Mushroom Soup and Going to Work in the Dark
3 years ago:   Seeded Whole Grain Quick Bread
5 years ago:   Banana Muffins and Little Blue Cougar Pills

October 11, 2019   Sunrise 8:30 am  Sunset 6:32 pm  Temp. H 35/ L 22°F.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Crispy Chicken Wings for Monday Night Football

Since my husband and I have been married (over 20 years), we have never had a tv in the living room.  We have always been lucky enough to have a family room separate from the living room and the tv went in the family room.  When we have guests or a big group of family we always sit around the living room and visit and laugh and play games.  The living room is for interacting with each other.

This summer, my mom and dad were here and we moved a tv into the living room so they could watch the news and their evening programs without having to go up the stairs.  This also let me go to bed (upstairs) at my regular time and they could stay downstairs in the comfort of the living room and watch what ever they wanted to for as late as they wanted to.

Well, they left in August and the tv is still in the living room and we have fallen into the habit of watching tv downstairs in the evenings.  It is so easy to light a fire and have the cozy fire going while we watch our favorite show.  I have also gotten into the habit of turning it on while I cook dinner, just to catch up on the day's news.  I've even started turning it on in the morning instead of reading, meditating, and working on my blog (I know, big travesty!).  But it is a bad habit, and one that is so easy to slip into.
Chicken wings and salad - the perfect football watching dinner.

Now, Monday nights we watch football, and it is one night we watch tv while we eat our dinner.  The game usually starts about 4:30 here so it is going right during our dinner time.  I try to fix something easy, like soup and sandwiches, so we can eat and watch the game in our chairs upstairs.  but, now that we can see the tv from the dining room table, I can make some items that don't have to be easy to eat.

Chicken wings are one of my favorite foods, if the wings are crispy.  I love them with garlic butter.  Dave likes them too and he adds Frank's Red Hot Sauce on his.  So on more Mondays than I care to mention, I have made chicken wings and soup for dinner.  It doesn't matter they are a little messy to eat because we are at the table and not worried about spilling on our chairs and it is one way Dave enjoys chicken so I figure it is a big win.
Dave likes pasta with his chicken wings.

Crispy Chicken Wings

The secret to crispy skin without flour or frying is to shake the dry wings with baking powder, cook them low and slow to render the fat, then crank the heat to crisp up the skins.  I use my convection setting, but a good hot oven works just as good.

1 lb. chicken wing drumettes and flats
2 Tbsp. baking powder, plus more if needed
1 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. butter
4 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 250°F.
Dry chicken wings with paper towels.  Place in a plastic bag and add the baking powder.  Shake until completely covered, adding more baking powder if needed.  Lay chicken wings on a wire rack over a baking sheet (spray wire rack well or cover with aluminum foil and slit the foil to let fat drain from the wings).  Bake for 30 minutes.
Turn heat in oven to 400°F and bake for 30 more minutes, turning wings half way through.

Meanwhile, melt butter over low heat.  Add minced garlic and let poach for 10-15 minutes making sure the garlic does not burn and turn bitter.

Remove wings from oven and place into a large bowl.  Pour garlic butter over top and toss to coat all wings with butter.  Serve with hot sauce on the side.

1 year ago:    Healthy Drinks and Blueberry Mojito
3 years ago:   Last Camping Trips
5 years ago:   White Cake with Strawberries and Cream

October 9, 2019  Sunrise 8:24 am  Sunset 6:50 pm  Temp H 40/ L 33°F

Monday, October 7, 2019

Pumpkin Spice Egg Loaf

I think pumpkin spice made an early entrance this year.  I started hearing about it in August, that is too early in my opinion.  Also, this pumpkin spice EVERYTHING really needs to stop.  I get the pumpkin spice in cookies, coffee, oatmeal, french toast, cake...but spam?  Really?  I think pumpkin spice should be allowed only October through December and not in weird stuff like spam and potato chips.

Well, egg loaf is a keto breakfast staple for me. It is like french toast in flavor and texture. I like that I can make it once and have breakfast for the week.  I can flavor it with lots of different things like Lily's chocolate chips, blackberries, strawberries, cinnamon, and this week in honor of October, pumpkin spice.  So, I'll enjoy this for the week and I feel like fall is officially October...when it is really fall (none of that August-is-the-start-of-Fall stuff for me).

Pumpkin Spice Egg Loaf

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
8 eggs
6 Tbsp. coconut flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. caramel stevia, or sweetener of choice

Preheat oven to 350°F
Grease a bread loaf pan, line with parchment, leaving overhang on sides for easy removal, and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl mix cream cheese and butter until smooth, add eggs and mix well.  Add coconut flour, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, salt and stevia, mix until well incorporated.  Let sit about 5 minutes so the coconut flour can absorb the liquid, mix again and pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until center is set.  Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes.  Lift from pan with parchment.  Cut into 12 slices, 2 slices per serving.

Serve with sugar free syrup, whipped cream or sugar free chocolate chips.

1 year ago:    Barking Dogs and Broccoli Cheese Crockpot Soup
3 years ago:   Yard Work and Quick Jambalaya
5 years ago:   Dark Chocolate Cake with Whipped Ganache and Raspberries

October 7, 2019  Sunrise 8:18 am  Sunset 6:57 pm  Temp H 48/L 36°F