Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park

Spent a wonderful weekend with the hubby at Rocky Mountain National Park!

Us at the campsite

I traded a work trip on sunday for more of friday to play! We were able to hit the road by 10, 10:30 am! We arrived in Estes in time for lunch! Enjoy a great meal, a great temp, and a great view! Right on the river!

Great camp site

We headed into the park in time to check in and set up our tent! I had plans that we would pop over the Bear Lake area and get in a hike. Alas the crazy thunderstorms prevented that – so relaxing and beer at the campsite it was!

Beers at the site

We enjoyed the quiet and views, until….  Apparently national parks are now where large groups and families that cannot control themselves, their children or their talking volumes go…

We had a pretty great dinner – i recently discovered tater tots in foil on the fire! A-Mazing!

The next morning we headed for our hike – i had one in mind, but the ranger and the super crowded buses made me re-think my decision to a different on – Emerald Lake

The end

There were definitely a lot of people on the trail, but the views and the hike was wonderful!

I am still taking care with my knee, so i chose one with only 600 foot elevation gain, but goodness did it seem like more!

Lake Emerald Hike

Starting the hike!

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First Lake – Nymph Lake

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Then onto Dream Lake and the River that connects them!

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Finally onto Emerald Lake – a pretty pretty place to spend a little time sitting and enjoying nature – and all the rest of the people that were there as well!

The end

It took 1 hour up and less down! Took longer to take the bus from the camp ground, to the carpool lot, to the bus to Bear Lake. Definitely get up early and take a nap later!!

We enjoyed a great afternoon reading and relaxing, and snacking! So quiet when the annoying families are away for the day!

The other bummer on our campsite – i picked on that was uphill from the rest room. Like a kick your pants to return to the campsite after you pee!

But all in all our quiet time relaxing and not worrying about the monkeys was fabulous!

Reynolds Park Open Space – Eagles View Hike

It appears i have been remiss on documenting my hikes! Last year was a slow year and not many were done, but this year i hope to rectify that!

 

We celebrated the boys’ birthday in the normal fashion of a hike! I’ve had some knee issues and only have gotten in 1 hike so far this season, so we decided to go light on the mileage. Thought we were also going light on the elevation gain as well… but I don’t think so!

We had done this hike before, but I can’t remember which route we did. This time we decided to go right. Had I read some of the remarks on this site, i might have shifted the route a bit and skipped the hot and steep up hill part on Raven’s Roost.

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We took the

  • Right arm of the Elkhorn,
  • Right at the Raven’s roost intersection,
  • Right onto the Eagle’s View Trail,
  • connecting back at Oxen Drive – go right, and then the
  • second Elkhorn to return to the parking lot.

According to the comments on the other site, to avoid the steep, hot up hill, do this instead:

  • Left arm of Elkhorn
  • Right onto Oxen Draw
  • Right onto Raven’s Roost
  • Left onto Eagle’s View Trail
  • Reconnect at Oxen Draw and repeat your steps back to the car.

OR

  • Left arm of Elkhorn
  • Right onto Oxen Draw
  • Left onto Eagle’s View Trail
  • Right at Raven’s Roost
  • Reconnect at Oxen Draw and repeat your steps back to the car.

Length: For once, the book, and online matched the GPS! I was little worried when the Eagle’s View portion said 2.3 miles, but the other parts line up nicely

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Difficulty: I can say it’s isn’t easy, but i can’t say it’s super strenuous. We took our time, plodded up the uphills and made it to the view in about an hour.

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Time:We got a late start since I knew we were going to “altitude” and i didn’t want to rush the morning. We arrived at the parking lot around 10:15, and were on the trail by 10:30. Completed by 12:30.

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Rating:

I enjoyed this hike and it was a good 10-15 degrees cooler than it was in Denver, so that was a treat as well.  You definitely sweat it up, but the views are worth it!

The wildflowers were out in force and all that made me smile!

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There were also a ton of butterflies of all different kinds. It was great! Hubby tried to capture a mating ritual on film… but all you can see is little blurs…

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There is not real “top”, there is a ridge that you arrive at. From the right route, you arrive out of the trees to an amazing view, you continue to enjoy that view along the .25/.5 portion until you head back down into the trees!

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Sugar Cookies – blast from the past

My pops is in the hospital/nursing home and is having trouble holding things. So i was trying to think of a large cookie that could celebrate halloween…  So i went through my giant book of cookie recipes. My normal has a frosting that is just meh, so i wanted something better…

Came across the generic sugar cookie. And wow, with crisco do these things get big! And at first i tried just putting the “colored sugar” on top hoping it would melt… nope. Then i put it on the dough and rolled it in…  Then i finally put all the rest of the sugar into the dough and needed it, creating an orange dough, taking me back to child hood when my mom would do this! I think it was a ploy to keep sugar from getting all over her floor!

Orange sugar

Orange sugar

Cut Out Sugar Cookies:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup butter flavor crisco
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbl vanilla
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preparation

  1. Combine sugar and 1 cup shortening in a mixer. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, syrup and vanilla. Beat until well blended and fluffy
  2. Combine 3 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add gradually to shortening mixture at low speed. Mix until well blended.
  3. Divide dough into 4 quarters. Wrap each quarter of the dough with plastic wrap. Chill at least 1 hour. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
  4. Heat oven to 375. Place sheets of foil on counter for cooking cookies
  5. Updated plan – make colored sugar – 1/2 cup and 6 drops made a light color. Add 1/4 of that sugar to the dough. Roll out as described below. This keeps the sugar from falling off…
  6. Spread 1 tbl flour on sheet of way paper. Place 1 peice of dough on floured paper. Flatten slightly with hands. Turn dough over and cover with another sheet. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thick.Remove top layer and use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookies sheet (or silpat). Repeat with remaining dough.
  7. Bake one baking sheet at a time at 375 for 5-9 minutes. 9 minutes for halloween cuts outs 3 inches or so. Do not overbake. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheets. Remove to foil and cool completely.
  8. Frost or decorate if so desiredIMG_0345These cookies were attempt 1 with sugar on top…

Denver Energy Challenge – suggested qualified contractor list

Got the following list from Denver Energy

We were looking for insulation and air sealing

Spent Grain – Coconut and Pecan Cookies

Still have a ton of spent grain in the fridge and the clock is ticking on it’s viability. Use it, toast it or freeze it. Since i didn’t have 4 hours to toast, i decided to find something that used wet grains!

I found this wonderful recipe on Brooklyn Brew Shop

I can’t wait to do the options of add ins!

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup of Spent Grain Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups wet spent grain
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped (used mini chop bowl from food processor)
  • 1 cup coconut flakes

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and beat to combine.

3. In a small bowl, combine flours, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat until combined. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in wet spent grain, pecans, and coconut flakes.

4. Scoop cookies onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cookies are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Let cool. Enjoy.

Modifications:

I only cooked it for 15 min. I  did the first batch and flattened them, i think i like that version best. Also best to let them sit for 2 min, they pop off the silpat like a snap! I didn’t have allspice, so i skipped it.

Spent Grain – White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookies

My neighbor has started brewing his own beer, which means – spent grain for me!

It’s definitely a learning process, like how to get the grain dried. Which at this point i’ve kind of left to the side and am trying to find recipes that use it wet!

This one is a combo of it all – dry the grains, process to flour, and then wet grains as well

I found it on Deschutes Brewery web site and it was definitely a keeper

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 C butter, softened
  • 2/3 C brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ C spent grain
  • 1 ½ C flour
  • 1 Tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 C dried cranberries
  • 2/3 C white chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well, Combine grain, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate medium mixing bowl. Add this dry mixture to to wet mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chips. Drop spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Makes approximately 2 ½ dozen cookies.

I used the med scooper and go 3 and 1/2 dozen

Vedict:

OMG! Amazing!

Cauliflower pizza crust

Saw this recipe in the latest version of CL! Had to make it! We even had a head of cauliflower that i needed to use before heading off to work in another state on monday! This was perfect!

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Ingredients

For Crust:

  • 1 cauliflower head, roughly chopped (about 3 poundsCooking spray
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2.5 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 2/3 cup), divided
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 0.5 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

For “home made pizza sauce”

  • 1/2-3/4 cup tomato sauce (in the bottle) – usually i can’t eat red sauce, this stuff i can, woot me!
  • oregano
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion Power
  • Pepper

Toppings:

Pepperoni, pickled jalapenos, onions and tomatoes, bacon

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Place half of cauliflower in a food processor; pulse 10 to 15 times or until finely chopped (like rice). Transfer cauliflower to a baking sheet lined with silpat parchment paper. Repeat procedure with remaining cauliflower. Coat cauliflower with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes, stirring once. Cool.

3. Increase oven temp to 450°.

4. Place cauliflower in a clean kitchen towel. Squeeze until very dry. Combine cauliflower, remaining 1 teaspoon oil, 1/4 cup basil, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, salt, garlic, 2 ounces mozzarella cheese, egg whites, and Parmesan cheese in a bowl. Press cauliflower mixture into 2 (8-inch) circles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Coat crusts with cooking spray.

5. Make “pizza sauce” – combine ingredients, adding more or less of the ingredients to taste (sorry, i know i hate when people do that, but it’s really not a set type of thing…)

6. Bake crusts at 450° for 22 minutes or until browned.(Take care ours were brown and starting to char at 15) Remove pan from oven; top crusts evenly with sauce, remaining mozzarella cheese and whatever toppings you wish. Bake an additional 7 minutes or until cheese melts or it’s done to your liking

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Verdict:

I was concerned that cooking on a silpat would make the bottom get weird like it did with the cauliflower tortillas, but i didn’t!

Can also use pesto in place of red sauce, or none, if you aren’t in the mood!

I’ll try making them thinner next time!

 

Nutrition for the crust alone:

  • Calories: 225.9
  • Total fat 10.3g
  • Sat fat: 5.8g
  • Poly .3g
  • Mono: .7
  • Cholesterol 24.3
  • Sodium 531.5mg
  • Potassium 941.8
  • Total Carbs: 16.8
  • Fiber :7.3
  • Protein: 21.2

 

Making Indian Food

I got to spend a day making delicious indian food with a friend’s mom.

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Do i know how to do it again… probably not. But i definitely have 5 pounds of chipati flour, so i have already tried those again. Sadly – i can’t roll out my chapatis so they are round… but i’m getting the hang of it and this website has helped! I’m also saving this site for when i run out of chapati flour!

We made a dal – it was a mix of red and moong lentils, similar to ones i’ve made before.. but i gotta say, much better… Although i just looked up my version and they both look similar!

Not sure of what all went into this one, but here is the shopping list:

We could make a combination masoor (red) and moong dal. You could get 1 lb bags of each.Whole jeera 2 tsp, turmeric, red chilli powder, ginger root fresh, fresh tomatoes 2, cilantro, onion 1.

We also threw in a couple of the chilis for fun!

 

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We also made Chicken Kurma or what the following recipe card says. As when following any other good cook, some don’t always follow the recipe… pretty sure she winged quite a bit of it from experience! She would show me how much salt she was using or some other spice and it was just a portion of her hand. I chuckled inside! This was most interesting having to grind the cashews into a paste… i’d use a blender next time..

Shopping list:

Chicken kurma (drumsticks are best )
Onions (3-4), 1/2 cup raw cashews to be ground, ginger, garlic, 1 c.plain yogurt, 1 c milk, garam masala  powder, bay leaves (3) green cardamoms 6-8. cilantro, oil. For 4 to 6 people 2 legs each.

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We also make Kheema with ground turkey. Pretty yummy and interesting. Whole cinnamon sticks… Not exactly sure of it all – but here is my shopping list for it:

1 1/2 lbs gr.meat ( I prefer turkey or chicken)
     Onions (3), Tomatoes- sauce or strained/bottled variety, ginger, garlic. Turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder, jeera powder, cilantro. Oil.
Note to the uninitiated – jeera is cumin! 

IMG_9753Found this site and could be a good starting point for next time i make this!

 

For a win for the hubby i also made butter chicken and found this recipe. My “mom for the day” didn’t usually make this dish, so it was my job to find a recipe! She thought the fenugreek was weird and would have ground it. Also having used the bottle tomato sauce in her recipe for kheema, i would totally do that here… My sauce ended up less thick than i would have liked… But i did like the tikka marinade for the chicken and might do that on it’s own in the future!

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We made a dry vegetable curry too!

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Mixed vegetable dry curry.
         Potato, colored peppers, mushrooms, cauliflower, onion, fresh tomato.
         2 potatoes, 2 peppers, 4-6 oz mushrooms (optional), half a cauliflower, 1-2 small tomatoes, ginger, garlic chopped, onions 2.
         turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala, cilantro.
It was a ton of veggies and it made my spoon smell funny… as in like curry… but it’s delish!
There was also an order… mushrooms last…  onions first…
Onions
Potatoes
Cauliflower
Peppers
Mushrooms
Tomatos

We also made a riata with grated cucumber, a diced jalapenos some spices and yogurt. Yum! According to the indian recipe site i found there are a multitude of riatas you can make… i still have some yogurt… i might see some riatas in my future…

Shopping list: plain yogurt, cuke, jalapeno peppers 1-2, ginger grated pinch.

But i’m sure she threw in some other spices as well!!

 

Things i learned 

I do have a cover for every pot

I don’t have too many spoons

grating garlic is amazing

my coriander is no good. Buy the whole pod, grate/grind before use!

some things don’t need to be hard

Some times too much food really is too much food!

Boulder Lake Hike

Annual camping trip to cow creek south on green mountain reseviour! I needed a new hike for the group. I found this one – boulder lake hike. The info i had indicated a 800 foot elevation gain a 500 foot elevation loss. Sounds not too bad right? They lie. Even pro-trails was just so-so on the description.

Trail head (summer) definitely needed high clearance. Road is pretty rutted and large rocks abound! We finally made it, took us nearly an hour off the main road for that…

Trail head was right there, plenty of info.

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Off went and the sights eere pretty fabulous!

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The boys did very well! Ended up being longers and harder and hotter than anticipated, but they were troopers!

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The lake was beautiful! Definitely worth the treck up there! Alas once we turned around, i wasn’t so sure! Definitely a tough one!

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Ranch Dressing

So i started with beans. black beans. Black beans in the crockpot.

I meant to look up the recipe on 365 crockpot blog…  but i picked the wrong one from google and ended up on this 365 crockpot blog

It all worked out, cause this was a pretty good recipe, i liked the bullion, garlic and the tons of beans it made.

That lead to the other portion of the recipe that called for ranch lime cilantro sour cream.

That sounded tasty… i had sour cream… i did not have ranch dressing package… so i looked up that recipe. wow! great! I had all the ingredients, so let’s do this!

I didn’t really change any of the recipes, and i’m pretty darn excited about the results!