Sunday, October 30, 2011

There's Snow Going Back...

October 30, 2011
First snowfall...just a 'skiff', but it's still coming down...
I think I tempted fate by finally buying a snow shovel yesterday...for once in my life, I'm prepared...sort of...
Duncan seemed to like it...but he seemed to like coming back inside more...Dave wasn't outside long enough for me to take HIS picture. :)

Here's hoping the snow blower gets repaired quickly!!!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Healthy...'er' Brownies

This is another recipe I 'pinned' on one of my Pinterest boards...originally found at this blog scroll towards the bottom of the entry for the recipe.  This brownie recipe has NO flour and NO sugar in it...sound disgusting?  I was willing to give it a try although I was somewhat skeptical...and the price of the almond butter ($10.99...YIKES) at the store gave me pause and think maybe I should just get the $3.00 boxed brownie mix instead...but where's the adventure in that?!?
16 oz. Creamy Almond Butter
1 cup honey
2 eggs
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 of a 3.5 oz dark chocolate bar (70% cocao), chopped into pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Blend almond butter, honey and eggs in mixer bowl.
2. Add cocoa, baking soda and salt to wet ingredients in bowl and mix together.
3. Fold in the chopped chocolate.
wet ingredients blended
chopped chocolate
Pour and spread mix into a sprayed 9x13 glass dish.
before it's looks like a regular wet brownie mix
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.  Let cool before cutting.
the 'after' picture - looks like brownies
It looked like brownie batter as I poured it in the pan, and it smelled like brownies as it baked.  But the final and most important test...the taste...
They WERE good...if you like sweet & salty combos, you will like this brownie - there wasn't a lot of salt added to the recipe but because of using the larger sea salt crystals you get a taste of it throughout the brownie...if you want a gluten-free brownie recipe, this is one to try...would I make it again?  Meh...I think the overall cost of making the brownies is what keeps me from being more enthusiastic about them...I'm not sure they're THAT much better than the $3.00 box mixes... :)  I guess I'll look for 'healthy' food in my salads and entrees and stick to the 'unhealthy' brownie mixes in the baking aisle. :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Finger-Lickin' Good

I was invited to attend a cooking class with some ladies and we chose to do the class making southern specialties based on the movie, 'The Help".  This was our menu for the day:
The class was held at The Viking Cooking School at the Allen & Petersen Appliance Center in mid-town Anchorage.  It was a lot of fun ~ I would definitely like to do it again ~ we were able to get 1/2 price on this class so it wasn't too expensive...
They have a really nice prep kitchen for everyone to work and observe, including a camera above the stove that allows you to view the contents of the pots and pans on a t.v. screen...
Jody ready to show off her mad cooking skills
We each got a turn assisting the instructors with the different dishes...
Prepping the chicken
You can't make fried chicken without Crisco, right?
definitely not a low-fat meal, but mmm...mmm...

Brian, one of our instructors, coating the chicken...
Connie pulling out the chicken...lookin' good
Making the biscuits...this was my most favorite item of the day :)
              the spread: cornbread, collard greens, flaky biscuits w/ honey butter, mac & cheese, fried chicken, sweet tea, coke in a glass bottle

dessert was a caramel cake - very tasty
I can vouch for the fact that everything was delicious...but southern cooking is most definitely NOT something I can eat every in point...later that day, the button on my jeans literally popped off as I was walking!!  I guess the diet starts tomorrow, right?!?  :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Building A Well

I have a long list of blogs I follow - some for cooking, some for quilting, some for laughs...but there are also several I follow of families who either HAVE adopted or are in the process of adopting.

There is one in particular that I have been following for some time Love
of Moments with Love...yes, her name is Love...she and her husband have 4 daughters...and in 2009 they felt called to adopt and brought home their first little boy...
I have been reading along this year as they prepared to add to their family again...two more (older) boys from Uganda...they are now a family with 7 darling children...
Love just recently returned home with her 2 sons but while they were waiting for all of the paperwork to be completed and everything to be put in order before leaving Africa, she shared about the day her oldest son said he wanted to 'gift' his bicycle to a village he had visited while in his orphanage...and how thrilled the people were to be receiving such a wonderful gift...and how they were excited to show their visitors their water well...and how heartbreaking it was to see what they have to rely upon for their drinking, bathing and cooking water supply...
you can read the whole story here...

I read that post and it made me cry ~ first because of her son's generosity and secondly because of how much I take for granted in my life...but Love is a person who makes things happen and she has found an organization that has already begun fundraising efforts to help build a clean water well for this village.  You can read about her plan here...and you can read about the organization, Morning Star Foundation, and their Busoga Well Project here.  Every little bit helps, and after seeing those photos it was impossible for me NOT to contribute...and I look forward to seeing the completed well project hopefully VERY soon!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Alaska in October

It looks like the Denver area has beaten out Anchorage (at least where I am) for the city with the first snowfall this year ~ I saw several facebook posts about it today and even got a text that it was colder in Denver than Anchorage today...not that we don't have any snow here...I've been watching it slowly creep further and further down the mountains behind the house...but it has not reached my yard...yet...

I took the boys to an off-leash park in town ~ the second one we've visited ~ I THINK they liked it. :)
Duncan running free
Dave 'running' free
Right as we arrived, D & D spotted some 'familiar' faces...
two tri-colored cavaliers...two GIRL cavaliers to be more specific...
they were all very polite & proper in their greetings... :)
There were a lot of trails veering off from the main path...
one of them led to this...
The trails were pretty muddy in spots with many large puddles along the way...on the way back to the car, Dave found himself stopped by one of these mini 'lakes'.  He stopped walking, looked around for a minute, and then back-tracked and walked around to the other water-free side, rather than walk THROUGH the water...that's my boy!! :)

I didn't get a lot of photos of the leaves changing in the past few weeks, but I did stop today to get a few of the ones that have not dropped yet...
Snow on top of some of the Alaska Range
The hills up behind the neighborhood...the snow is gradually working its way down
Tonight's sunset

Sunday, October 2, 2011

I Baked Something...

I thought when I moved up here and had access to a beautiful, spacious kitchen, I would be baking and cooking all the time...however, the fact that it is still just me makes it easy for me to lack the motivation to put any effort into meals and just stick to easy things like soups and rice bowls etc...

I have been 'pinning' things on Pinterest for quite's a really cool website (aka time waster) that is basically a virtual pin board where you can organize any picture, tutorial, recipe, party idea, photo idea etc...that you find on the web.  You can create as many 'boards' as you want and pin as much as you want...the trouble is, you find one thing, and then you see things other people have 'pinned' and in browsing through everything others have pinned, you find you've just spent hours on the site.  It's a great place for inspiration though ~ my original reason for joining was because I wanted a place to keep recipe ideas I would find on different sites all in one place, rather than having to try to remember which blog or what website I'd seen it.  I have recipe boards divided into "Recipes to try - sweets" and "Recipes to try - savory", and it's no surprise that I have about twice as many 'sweets' recipes to try as savory.

I finally got my act together this weekend and bought ingredients to make one of my 'pinned' sweets's actually similar, if not identical, to one a friend of mine made several years ago when I was visiting her in San Diego (hi Leanne).  I don't remember her name for the recipe, but the one on Pinterest is called "Magic Eight Bars", so that's what I'll call them.

I even remembered to wear an apron this time :)  I don't usually think to put one on, but I got this one when I was at Sur La Table in Seattle earlier this summer...
I love the rick rack, ribbons and the teacups and teapot on it, and I have to admit, it did make me feel very 'Suzy Homemaker' ish wearing it :)

Magic Eight Bars

1/2 c butter, melted
1.5 c graham cracker crumbs
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 c chocolate chips
1 c butterscotch chips
1 c white chocolate chips
1 1/3 c coconut flakes (either sweetened or unsweetened - I used sweetened)
1/2 c Heath Bar toffee bits

Melt butter in microwave-safe bowl and add the graham cracker crumbs to it.  Stir to combine and press crumb mixture into a buttered or cooking sprayed 9 x 13 pan.
(1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs is just about one sleeve of graham crackers - I put them in a large ziplock bag and then rolled over them with a rolling pin)

Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture. Layer evenly with half the chips, i.e. 1/2 c of each kind of chip, then top with half the amount of coconut, i.e. about 3/4 c.  Then add the rest of the chips and rest of the coconut.  After the chips and coconut are layered, add the the toffee bits to the top.
Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, or until top is barely browning.  Start checking on it after 25 minutes.  Allow to cool and slice.  You can store extras in the freezer (ha, ha...extras, yeah right) :)  if you want to make ahead.
It's a great way to use up left over bags of flavored chips that are in the pantry - you could easily do variations with whatever you have, and add nuts as well if you'd like.
My 'plating' skills can definitely use some work...the bars are super sweet, so you don't need a huge serving...make sure you have milk to go with them!

And just are pix of the most recent 'visitor' to pass through - he took a shortcut through the yard...