Monday, September 28, 2020

Midnight Wake-Ups and Pumpkin Spice Coffee


Dave was gone for a week.  He was out at moose camp with my brother, his brother, our oldest boy and two other friends.  He left on Friday after work and was spending the week.  I was home, holding down the fort and watching the dogs...or the dogs were watching out for me.

When Dave is gone, the dogs are on high alert.  They bark at all the falling leaves, the neighbors leaving for work, the same neighbors getting home from work, the mailman and the garbage crew.  It is a good thing they protect me from all that, and it works because not one mailman or neighbor leaving for work has murdered me and none of the falling leaves have broken in. I'm so glad those dogs take such good care of me.

Well, while Dave is gone, the dogs sleep in my room, I don't sleep very easy when I'm in the house alone.  Hershey has his little bed next to the baseboard heater and the big dogs each have a bed on either side of our bed. Tek is on Dave's side and Mooree is on my side.  I have to climb into bed from the bottom and crawl up to my pillow, but it all works.  

So, we were all settled down in bed after we got the text from Dave that he had made it into camp (I wait up to make sure he makes it so I can call for help if he doesn't) and we were sound asleep.  Suddenly both big dogs jump up, run to the top of the stairs and start barking.  This, of course, wakes me up.  I jump out of bed and then have this dilemma: do I put on sweat pants first or grab my gun first?  If I grab my gun and have to shoot an intruder, then I'm stuck there without pants.  I'll have to call 911, the paramedics will come, the police will come and when is a good time to put on pants after you shoot someone?  But, if I put on pants first and someone comes up the stairs, I'll be putting on my pants mid-leg and won't have my gun or be able to run into the closet to get it. What was I going to do?

So I grabbed the gun first.  Nobody wants to see me without pants on, not even an intruder, but I figured shoot first, get dressed later.  

And the dogs were still barking.

I finally peeked around the corner and down the stairs and didn't see anything.  The dogs did not run down the stairs, just sat at the top barking down.  I figured the dogs had been barking long enough that an intruder would have heard them and left.  I turned on the hall light, the dogs ran down the stairs, and I followed them, gun in hand.  Nothing.  I checked that the doors were all locked, the windows all closed, nothing.  I let the dogs outside and they took care of business and came back inside calm.  We went back to bed. In no time at all the dogs were all asleep, Hershey was snoring, but I was wide awake.  The adrenaline coursing through my veins made sleep pretty hard that night, even with my gun on my nightstand.

The next morning Later that morning, at 5:30 when Hershey gets me up (no, he didn't sleep any later after his midnight rampage) I was moving pretty slow.  There was no way I was going to make it through the morning without some help.  I made up a batch of this pumpkin spice cream mix and had a couple pumpkin spice lattes.  This make a big batch so I can enjoy it all fall.  Hopefully tomorrow I can enjoy a cup without falling asleep in the middle of it.

And lesson learned: When the husband is gone, sleep with sweatpants on.

This makes a nice little gift for your pumpkin spice
latte loving friends.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Mix

1 cup butter, softened

1/2 - 1 cup brown sugar substitute, depending on how sweet you want your coffee. I like Sukrin Gold

1/4 cup sugar free maple syrup, I like Choc Zero

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 cup heavy cream, room temperature

In a medium bowl cream together butter, brown sugar substitute, maple syrup substitute, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice.  With blender running on low, slowly pour in heavy cream and mix until completely incorporated. Makes about 2 1/2 cups of creamer.

To make Pumpkin Spice Coffee

Add 1-2 tbsp. PSL mix to each hot cup of coffee. Blend with a handheld milk frother or blend in your mixer.

September 28, 2020  Sunrise 7:53 am  Sunset 7:57 pm  Temp H 46/ L 38°F

Friday, September 25, 2020

Loss of Truck Brakes and Blackberry Cobbler Drink of the Week

We were all watching the football game, our oldest son, my brother, my brother in law and we had ordered pizza for dinner.  I volunteered to run to pick it up at half time since I was the only one not drinking beer.  Little did I know I would be taking my life in my hands.  I am really thankful to be home in one piece.  Just a minute, I need to refill my

So, halftime came and I jumped in the truck to go pick up the pizzas.  It was a normal trip, I ground a few gears as I shifted, but I am getting much better at shifting this old truck.  I ran into the restaurant got the pizzas and was back in the truck in no time.  I pulled out of the parking lot and noticed I kind of rolled through the stop sign.  I really didn't think much about it, there was no traffic and I stopped, eventually.  I drove around the block to get back to the main road and hit a red light.  I hate hitting red lights in the truck because you have to come to a complete stop before you can shift down and lots of times the light has already changed and everyone behind you is waiting. 

Well, I hit the brakes and didn't stop.

At least not until I was dead center in the intersection.  Thank goodness I was the first at the intersection and no one was speeding through.  I shifted and pulled through, wondering what I had done wrong.  I had 4 more stop lights before I made it home and I needed to get this figured out.  The next stop light was coming up and it was red. I was driving really slow and I hit the brakes, nothing.  I pumped the brakes, nothing.  The light turned green and the line in front of me moved before I ever made it to the intersection, and I drove slowly through.  The same thing happened at the remaining 3 intersections (someone was sure watching out for me that day) and I made it to my neighborhood shaking but in one piece.

I was going really slowly, but when I got to our driveway I felt like I was going too fast and we had several extra cars in the driveway, I didn't want to wreck my truck.  So, I drove down the street, turned around at the end of the road and headed back.  I still felt uncomfortable pulling into the driveway so I pulled in front of my bother in law's truck...and didn't stop until I was sitting in front of the neighbor's driveway, blocking their cars. No problem, I backup up a little.  But it was a problem because the truck kept backing up and was getting closer and closer to my brother in law's truck, I just knew I was going to back into it.  Again, someone was watching out for me because I stopped just inches from making impact.  I grabbed the pizzas and wobbled into the house.

"Why didn't you park in the driveway?" Dave asked when I came through the door.

I burst into tears and told him the whole story. He went outside to check.  One of my brake lines has split and leaked all the brake fluid.  By the time I got to the restaurant, all the fluid had leaked out and I had no brakes left.

So, the truck is parked for the winter.  We will worry about brakes in the spring. And after I stopped crying I had a drink.  I needed it after that.

Blackberry Cobbler

6 blackberries
1 tsp. confectioner's Swerve, or several drops of stevia
dash of vanilla
2 oz. spiced rum
sparkling water, I used blackberry but lime would be good too

Place blackberries in a glass, add sweetener and vanilla.  Muddle the blackberries until completely crushed.  Add rum and top off with sparkling water, stir carefully.  Top with ice and enjoy.
Makes 1 drink

3 years ago:   Grain Free Pizza Crust

September 25, 2020  Sunrise 7:44 am  Sunset 7:38 pm  Temp. H 48/ L 37°F

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

New Cabinet and Tea Set and Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookie Sandwiches

These are over the top, just a bit.  Two peanut butter cookies sandwich a sweet peanut butter buttercream and then are dipped in chocolate.  But my brother deserved them.

I made a deal with my brother that if he brought my tea set from my mom's house I would bake cookies for him.  Well, he did and then really surprised me.

The tea set had been in my family for generations.  My grandpa chewed on the dragon horns when he was a baby and chewed some of them off.  My mom has been keeping it for me until I could bring them home with me.  I always figured I'd pack them up and carry them home, but it seemed like I never had room.  So, my brother brought them for me.

My grandpa chewed the horns off this one.

But then, as an added bonus, he brought my grandma's baking cabinet.  I remember this cabinet hanging in my grandma's kitchen.  It was above the kitchen table and where my grandma kept her recipes and ingredients for baking.  Because I'm the baker in the family, my mom said I could have it when she was ready to let it go.  I couldn't believe my brother brought it with him, that the glass didn't break on the airline and I can't believe it fit perfectly between the two kitchen windows, like it was made just for that space.  My brother put it up for me and so I owe him something pretty special.

I just have to add the drawer pulls to it.  What a special piece of my grandma I have in my kitchen now.

So I made lots of cookies and these were a little extra.  These soft peanut butter cookies with a crispy edge paired with creamy peanut butter filling and then, just a bit of chocolate to make it extra special.  These are a cookie worthy of my grandma's baking cabinet.

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

for the cookies:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

for the filling:
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted to remove lumps
1 tsp. vanilla extract
5-7 Tbsp. milk or cream, depending on consistency desired

for chocolate dip:
1 pkg. chocolate chips plus 2 tsp. shortening or coconut oil
or chocolate melting chocolate disks.

for cookies:
Beat butter, shortening, peanut butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla extract, mix well.
In a medium bowl, mix flour baking soda and salt.  Add to creamed mixture a spoon at a time until it is all mixed in.  Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Roll dough into 1" balls, I use my smallest cookie scoop.  Make criss-cross pattern on each cookie with a fork.  Bake for 6-8 minutes.  Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes then move to cooling racks.

Meanwhile make filling:
Mix peanut butter and confectioner's sugar with vanilla extract.  Add milk until you reach the desired consistency. Spread or pipe filling on one cookie, firmly press second cookie on filling to make a sandwich.  Place cookies in freezer for 15 minutes.

While cookies are in freezer, melt chocolate.  Dip 1/2 of each cookie sandwich into melted chocolate.  Let excess drip back into bowl, slightly scraping the bottom cookie to remove extra.  Place on cookie sheets until chocolate is firm.  Enjoy.

1 year ago:    Keto Sugar Cookies for a Birthday
3 years ago:   Colorado Work Trip
7 years ago:   The Infamous Fish Stick Casserole and Lasagna Two Ways

September 23, 2020  Sunrise 7:32 am  Sunset 7:52 pm  Temp H 48/ L 38°F

Monday, September 21, 2020

Keto chicken Pot Pie Soup

It is Fall in Fairbanks.  The leaves are all yellow and falling to the ground, we've had a frost overnight now, and it feels like fall.  I have to wear a jacket when I walk the dogs and I wait until the afternoon so it will warm up some.  Mooree doesn't like the new schedule, he starts whining about 10:30 when we used to go walk and acts all excited if I go to get a drink of water in the employee kitchen. (He really doesn't get this "work hours" thing).

We did the last of the yard work last week and so we are buttoned up for winter.  I'm not too happy about it, but it is what it is.
The view out my window, this was taken on August 26, foggy
but the trees are still green.

The view out my window, this was taken September 14.
Look how yellow that tree is.

Even Charles has started turning yellow.
Well, when it first turns cold I always crave soup.  I love soup and Dave doesn't so I make a big batch and eat it for my lunch for the week.  I also love chicken pot pie and have been craving it so I made chicken pot pie soup for my lunch this week.
I like to top mine with an almond flour biscuit.

Chicken Pot Pie Soup
I used carrots and corn, veggies I usually stay away from because of the carbs, but I really wanted that old-fashioned chicken pot pie flavor.  You can substitute or just leave those out.  It will change your total macros.

2 Tbsp. butter
1 small onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup corn*
1 cup sliced carrots**
2 cups green beans
1 whole chicken, cooked and shredded (I did one in my Instant Pot, but a rotisserie chicken would work)
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp xanthan gum, optional

In a large stock pot, melt butter over medium high heat.  Add onion, celery and cook 3-5 minutes until onions become translucent.  Add garlic and stir for 1 minute until garlic is fragrant.  Add corn, carrots, green beans, chicken and chicken stock.  Simmer 10 minutes.  Add cream and xanthan gum, whisking in the xanthan gum completely.  Bring to simmer and serve.
makes 10-12 servings

* 1 cup of corn adds about 4 net carbs per serving (per 10 servings)
**1 cup sliced carrots adds about 1 net carb per serving (per10 servings)

1 year ago:   Sugar Free Sprinkles
3 years ago:  Pork Roast with Eggplant Mash
5 years ago:  Summer Vegetable Soup and the First Snow
7 years ago:  Hector the Proctor Goose and Rhubarb Meringue Bars

September 21, 2020  Sunrise 7:32 am  Sunset 7:52 pm  Temp. H 49/ L 44°F

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Decorating Fall Mini Cookies

Fall is in the air here.  When ever you talk to someone they say, "Boy, it sure feels like Fall."  I know fall doesn't officially start for a while, but here in Alaska the trees are turning yellow, the nights are cooler (no frost in Fairbanks yet), and gardens are getting cleaned up and put away for another year.  Snow will dust the ground soon, and we will all settle into our winter mode.

I decorated these Fall mini cookies to embrace the season!  I mixed a brown sugar and spice cookie dough from Bake at 350 and added a little pumpkin spice mix to the royal icing.  They smelled wonderful, like grandma's fall baking.

Minis need a simple design, there are so many in one batch of dough, so I made polka-dots, swirls, and used some fun sprinkles to jazz things up.  It was a fun way to welcome a new season.

I got these mini cookies from The Four Box  the decorations are copied inspired from the video tutorial that is attached to her page.
All these from one batch of dough.
1 year ago:    Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
3 years ago:   Natural Body Scrub
5 years ago:   Work Travel and the Perfect Dirty Martini
7 Years ago:   Stuffed Pork Loin and the Good Try

September 12, 2020  Sunrise 7:23 am Sunset 8:03 pm  Temp. H 57/ L 40°F

Monday, September 14, 2020

Fall, Spiders and Keto Lemon Mug Cake

There is a giant spider in the employee bathroom.  I've been going upstairs to my bedroom to use the bathroom up there since I can't get the janitor to clean that spider away.  And, it's a real problem because today is the day I'm the janitor is supposed clean the bathrooms, according to the cleaning schedule.

Well, this morning I forgot a bit about the spider and waited too long to head to the employee bathroom so there wasn't time to go upstairs.  And, just as I'm pulling down my pants I see the spider hanging from the night light right behind the toilet.  I decided I could be brave, and my old lady bladder wouldn't let me wait anymore, so I went...leaning way forward away from that giant spider, as quickly as I could.

When I was done, I looked at that spider hanging there, it did't move.  Is it dead?  It had been in the bathroom a while.  So, I  blew on it.  Nothing.  I blew on it harder.  Still nothing.  I decided it must be dead and I could be brave and get a piece of tissue and throw it away.  So, I took a deep breath, grabbed a handful little piece of tissue and swiped at it.


It dropped down on its web to the floor. I screeched and jumped back  calmly left the employee bathroom as the spider disappeared behind the toilet.  I am never going back in there again.

I needed to calm my nerves, and when I'm anxious I bake.  So I headed into the kitchen to make myself this lemon mug cake.  I guess using the upstairs bathroom during the work day will help me get my steps in and work off all the mug cakes I've been making and eating.

UPDATE: I noticed the spider hanging from the night light again, so I called maintenance and had him re-home the spider to outside.  Bathroom breaks, in the employee bathroom, are safe again.
Lemon Mug Cake
1 egg
1/4 cup almond flour
1 1/2 Tbsp. powdered Swerve, or sweetener of choice
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/8 tsp. lemon extract, optional
juice from 1/2 lemon, about 2 Tbsp.

Spray a large microwave safe mug or small bowl with cooking spray.  Crack egg into mug and whisk with a fork. Add all the other ingredients and mix well.  Cook in microwave for 90 seconds.  Cake will rise over double in size and then shrink back down, make sure you use a large enough mug.
top with sweetened whipped cream, yogurt or fruit.

To make cake as shown above, microwave in a bowl, after cooking, let cool 2 minutes and turn out onto a cutting board.  Let cake cool for 5 minutes.  Split cake horizontally into two evenish halves.  Place one half on plate, top with swerve sweetened whipped cream and sliced strawberries.  Top with second halt and top with more whipped cream, sliced strawberries and blackberries.  
Serves 1 or 2

1 year ago:    Mushroom Cookies

September 14, 2020  Sunrise 7:18 am  Sunset 8:10 pm  Temp. H 55/ L 42°F

Friday, September 4, 2020


When we were with Gman  and his people last month, my son made the best brisket I've ever had.  He smoked it for something like 14 hours.  The meat was tender and juicy, the smoke level was perfect, the bark was delicious and just crusty was so good.  I wanted to try my hand at it so I went and bought a 12 lb. brisket.  But after I talked to him, and watched the video he suggested, I realized I couldn't do it because I don't have a smoker, or a grill that would work for this.  So, I decided to punt and do it a different way.

I used my oven for the low and slow part 250° for 8 hours, then on the grill, with smoke, for 1 hour; slathering it with sauce every 15-20 minutes to build a bark of sorts.

My brisket was also delicious.  We all enjoyed it, but it wasn't the same as my son's.  We are going to go visit in December, I hope he will make it for us again.

Oven Brisket

10-12 lbs. brisket, trimmed
1/2 cup yellow mustard
garlic powder
1 bottle beer, lager
1 cup apple juice
1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce, we used this

aluminum foil
wood chips or pellets for smoking

THE NIGHT BEFORE! (I'm not yelling, just don't forget this step.)
Place trimmed brisket in large roasting pan, I used a disposable aluminum pan.  Rub 1/2 the yellow mustard on each side and get the edges.  Generously sprinkle salt, pepper and garlic powder over all sides of the brisket.  Cover with cling wrap and place in fridge overnight.

Remove brisket from refrigerator about 45 minutes before you want to put it in the oven.

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Pour beer and apple juice in pan with brisket, cover tightly with aluminum foil.  Place in oven and bake for 6-8 hours, until internal temp. is 165°F.  Remove from oven, remove brisket from pan and place of medium-hot grill.  Add aluminum foil pouch with wood chips or pellets for smoking, according to manufacturers directions (We used charcoal, and placed the wood chip package on the briquettes to smoke).  Smoke for 1 hour, basting with sauce every 15-20 minutes.  Remove from grill and let rest 15-20 minutes.  Slice against the grain and serve.

1 year ago:    The Surprise Cucumber Harvest
3 years ago:  The 9-1-1 Call and Snicker Bar Cookies
5 years ago:  Shotgun Wedding Soup and Waiting on the Mouse
7 years ago:  Canning Tomatoes

September 4, 2020  Sunrise 6:42 am  Sunset 8:45pm  Temp. H55/ L 39°F

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Blueberry, White Chocolate, Oatmeal Cookies

The boys are headed out to moose camp.  My brother is coming up and he loves cookies.  I made him a deal, if he carefully packed my dragon tea set and brought it up to me, I would bake for him.  So, every Wednesday, when I bake for the Soup Kitchen, I've been making a double batch and putting 2 dozen unbaked cookie balls in the freezer.  When he shows up with the tea set I'll bake those cookies and send him into moose camp with a bounty!

Now, word has got out about the cookies for Cal.  The other hunters really like sweets, and have been giving me a hard time about baking for my brother and the fact that he doesn't share, so I should bake for them too.  My brother in law's favorite cookies are oatmeal raisin, so I made him some, put them in a bag and labeled it "Len's Cookies."  Everyone is coming over for dinner tonight so I'll get some heat for that, but they don't know I've made cookies for everyone; a double batch of brownies, oatmeal with dried cherry and chocolate chips and a big pan of sugar cookie bars.  There will be enough for everyone to share.
Frozen blueberries, ready for a ziplock bag for freezer storage.

This week I made these blueberry, white chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.  Two dozen are in the freezer for my brother and 6 dozen went to the Soup Kitchen.  It was a wonderful cookies to use some of my blueberry stash.

Blueberry, White Chocolate, Oatmeal cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
21 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries, fresh work but frozen berries don't crush as easily

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment.

In a medium bowl, or in a stand mixer, cream the butter, shortening and brown sugar until light and fluffy 3-5 minutes on medium speed.  Add egg and vanilla extract, mix until creamy.

In a small bowl mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Mixing on low, add flour mixture into creamed mixture until fully combined.  Add oatmeal and white chocolate chips and mix.  Add blueberries and gently mix them in.

Scoop 2 Tbsp. (I use a #40 scoop) of cookie dough into balls on prepared cookie sheets.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating pans half way through baking.  Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before removing to cooling racks.  Makes about 4 doz.

1 year ago:    Sunflower Decorated Cookies
3 years ago:   A Surprise for Dave and Halibut Olympia
5 years ago:   The Hip MRI and Moon Pie Mug Cake
7 years ago:   End of the Garden

September 2, 2020  Sunrise 6:36 am,  Sunset 9:02 pm Temp. H 60/ L 42°F