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!

Tahini, Honey, and Almond Cookies

So i found these on a site that called them paleo cookies. Now i gotta say i can’t really envision cavemen running around eating cookies.. but they were tasty!

Obviously i don’t have all the weird special diet stuff in my house but i did have the tahini, so i made do!

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Ingredients

  • ½ cup (125 g) tahini
  • ½ cup (170 g) honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 1½ cups (168 g) whole what flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F; line 2 large baking trays with parchment paper or silpat liners.
  2. Stir together Place the tahini, honey, egg, vanilla extract, and almond extract in a Kitchenaid, and mix until smooth, then stir in the almond meal, salt, and baking soda until well combined. (The batter will thicken as you stir, but it will still be a soft, sticky batter; don’t be tempted to add more almond meal.) Let the batter rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Use a 1 tablespoon-sized scoop Small cookie scooper to measure out the batter onto the cookie sheet, leaving about 1 inch between cookies. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top.
  4. Bake until the cookies are golden on the bottom and set along the outside, but still look a touch doughy in the center, about 10 minutes, rotating the trays once.
  5. Cool the cookies completely on their trays before removing.
Note: the whole wheat flour made the cookie batter much stiffer, so you could actually place them much closer, they didn’t spread. I didn’t put the sesame seeds on top – no need and they add extra calories, for what?
All in all i gotta say the almond extract gave it a nice umph, just a nice sweetness from the honey to make it a treat and quite addicting!

Perfect Hard Boiled egg

Over the years i’ve attempted many different ways of hard boiling eggs…

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This year, i think i found it!

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place eggs in a large saucepan. Cover them with cool water by 1 inch. Slowly bring water to a boil over medium heat; when the water has reached a boil, cover and remove from turn off heat. Let sit 12-18 minutes.

  2. Transfer eggs to a colander; place under cool running water to stop the cooking. Eggs can be peeled and served immediately.

I also found the best way to peel an egg! It seems silly, but i love it.

All in all a great easter!

 

 

Crockpot – French Onion Soup

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I’ve become the team leader for the Spark People cooking light group – so our newest thang is to try and make 1 or 2 recipes from the current issue. We ended up thinking of a couple – but I ended up with the Chocolate Coconut Macaroons (review/recipe coming soon) and Crock Pot French Onion soup.

Note: cutting onions, is the suck!

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As anyone who knows me or my cooking knows, i don’t follow recipes “exactly”. I’m always missing an ingredient, don’t like or someone else doesn’t like an ingredient… so almost every recipe gets a “change”. This one was no different. Another team member had made this dish first and suggested a splash of alcohol, which lead me to “research” french onion soup.

Which lead to:

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Using 4 different kinds of onions, swapping out wine for some of the stock (learning the difference between stock and broth), finding a new kind of stock “goo” that you add hot water to.. learning about caramelizing onions in the crock pot and that you don’t need the sugar and in the end, all in all an ok soup.

French Onion Soup – Slow Cooker

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 pounds large sweet onions, vertically sliced (about 16 cups)
    • 3 shallots
    • 2 red onions
    • 3 sweet onions
    • 2 yellow onions
    • Or whatever combo gets you to 5 pounds, this filled my 6 qt crockpot to the top
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (
  • 6 cups unsalted beef stock (such as Swanson)
  • 1 1/2 cups red wine
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 24 (1/2-ounce) slices whole-grain French bread baguette (use the CL recipe!)
  • 5 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (about 1 1/4 cups)

Directions

  1. Place butter, thyme, and bay leaf in the bottom of a 6-quart electric slow cooker. Add onions; sprinkle with sugar. Cover and cook on HIGH for 8 hours.
  2. Remove thyme and bay leaf; discard. Add stock, wine, vinegar, salt, and pepper; cook, covered, on HIGH for 30 minutes. 3 – 4 hours
  3. Preheat broiler to high.
  4. Arrange bread in a single layer on 2 baking sheets; broil 30 seconds on each side or until toasted. Place 1 cup soup in each of 12 (8-ounce) ramekins or ovenproof bowls, or follow freezing instructions. Top each serving with 2 bread slices and about 2 tablespoons cheese. Place 6 ramekins on a jelly-roll pan; broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown. Repeat procedure with remaining 6 ramekins, bread slices, and cheese

 

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Spicy indian chicken

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Found this ditty in fitness magazine. I exchanged the rice for black rice, and i drained it before adding to the onions. Next time i would definitely leave some liquid

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups black rice
  • 1 inch fresh gingerroot, peeled
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3/4teaspoon salt
  • 1/4teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, halved and sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Large handful green beans (6 ounces), sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/4cup chopped roasted cashews
  • 1/2cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sliced fresh mint or cilantro (optional)

Preparation

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the rice. Boil for 25 minutes; drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, finely grate the gingerroot and crush the garlic and place in a large bowl; combine with the salt, cumin, coriander, turmeric and cayenne pepper and 1/2 cup of the coconut milk. Add the chicken; cover and refrigerate until the rice is ready.
  3. Warm the olive oil in a medium Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it begins to brown, 5 minutes. Add the cinnamon stick and continue to cook, stirring, until fragrant, 3 more minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat to low. Transfer half the onions to a plate, leaving the cinnamon stick and the rest of the onions in the pot. Over them, layer the partially cooked rice, green beans, half the cashews and then the chicken with its marinade. Pour the chicken broth and the remaining coconut milk over the top; sprinkle with the reserved onions.
  5. Cover and cook over low heat until the chicken and rice are cooked through and the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Add the lemon juice and serve topped with the remaining cashews and, if desired, the sliced mint or cilantro.
Verdict:
Let the chicken marinate for longer.
The flavors were good, the black rice was a nice choice to add.

Nutrition Information

Servings Per Recipe: 6
PER SERVING: 376 cal., 12 g total fat (3 g sat. fat), 45 g carb. (3 g fiber), 23 g pro.

Red Beans and Rice

We’ve made this a couple times and we like it. A lot.

Started with mr emmeril and went from there

Red Beans with Ham Hocks and rice

Red Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped onions (super fine)
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery (super thin)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (4-6 cloves)
  • 3 hot links, cut into bite size chunks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ham hock, about 1 pound
  • 1 pound red beans, soaked and drained
  • 8 to 10 cups chicken stock (replace chicken stock with bulion)

Preparation

In a pan/stock pot saute the hot link to get a nice crust on the peices. Remove the hot link. Cook the onion and celery in the left over drippings (aka grease) add the garlic, cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Return the sausage, add bay leaf, black pepper, thyme, cayenne, and salt, saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the ham hock and beans. Cover the mixture with the stock. Bring up to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook the bean mixture for 2-3 hours or until the beans are tender. Immersion blend a portion of the pot to thicken the mixture. Season with slap ya mama if needed. Remove the ham hock and slice the meat off the bone. To assemble, spoon the warm rice onto the serving bowl. Ladle the bean mixture right over the top. Garnish with green onions, Essence and crusty bread.

Verdict:

We loved it. When we make it for home i add a jalapeno, maybe some green chilies.

I love Slap Ya Mama seasoning on it. Mmmm! For extra nummies cook up a baquette to dip in the sauce! You can’t really over-simmer it. I let it sit all day on the stove or in the crockpot!

 

Tofu with Black Beans and Garlic

Was finally cleaning out my stack of recipes I had saved for some day. Some day finally arrived and this one got to make an attempt at staying in the wilker recipe app! This originated in fitness magazine, i changed it up a little bit with pre cooking the tofu, adding some pickled jalapenos, and skipping the rice.

Tofu with Black Beans and Garlic

Tofu with Black Beans and Garlic

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 14 -ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic (3 cloves)
  • 1 package sliced extra-firm tofu
  • 1 jalapeno, picked or regular
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce

Preparation

  1. Squish tofu
  2. Cut tofu into small pieces, sprinkle with Chinese 5 spices, salt and pepper
  3. Pan fry tofu to get a crisp on all sides, remove from pan
  4. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet. Add beans and garlic; stir-fry 2 minutes. (add water or broth to keep from sticking)
  5. Add tofu and ginger; cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in hoisin sauce.
  7. Serve with tofu.

Verdict:

So much better than anticipated! I added some pickled jalapeno, and some broth to keep beans from sticking, but it was a nice quick and healthy meal!

Cruise Advice – again..

Funny thing about this post was, half way thru this cruise we said, we need to write some of this down so we remember next time… which we also did last time, but didn’t read that one before this trip either!

 

Cool things to bring:

  1. Shoe caddy to hold all your little things and keep the bathroom counter clear!

We used it to hold sun tan lotion, pills, nail clipper, ear phones, aloe, workout ipod, makeup, everything little that gets lost in a bag and takes up space on the counter!

2. Clothes line – there is one in the shower, but this way it can swing in the breeze in the room not the stuffy bathroom and actually dry!

 

3. Sea sickness bands and ginger. The at sea days can get dicey. Now-a-days they are much fancier!

 

Cool things to know:

  1. The pre-purchase wine comes out pretty affordable! 8-9 dollars a bottle!
  2. Watch the news letter for which beer and which bar has the specials that day
  3. On a winter cruise, know the temps from departure port down thru all the ports you are visiting
  4. Always take the first departure group to get off the board…  Either walk off – with your luggage in tow, or the first group where they take it the night prior. We’ve made this mistake at least 2 times now, just get the heck off, you are kicked out of your room as fast as they can since the next group is coming on in a couple hours, and the buffets close at 9-ish, and nothing else is available for purchase. Bring a book or a game if you don’t, it’s a long annoying wait.
  5. Never buy anything from the gift shop on the first half of the cruise, there will be a sale before it ends. I promise.
  6. Become a part of the “frequent cruiser” club – it lets you “cut” the line  on embarcation day!
  7. A cool packing list can be found here
  8. Use packing cubes. I swear by them for regular trips, a cruise is no different.
  9. I also found the cruise critic very helpful… this one and this one
  10. Some other interesting tips here
  11. Bring a lanyard! They will clip a hole in your room key to make it easier to carry.

 

Bacon and Cheese Custards

Needed something for breakfast, so i went with this recipe from CL

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Original recipe called for red peppers, swiss cheese and 2% milk…  I had a hatch chili, added a serrano for some heat, had almond milk in the fridge, and used mozzarella cheese.

Verdict: weird to have custard texture with savory flavors. Kind of exotic and tasty, but not a do again!

Bacon and Cheese Custards

Ingredients:

4 slices center-cut bacon
1 hatch chili finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 ounces (about 1/3 cup) shredded mozarella
Cooking spray
2 cups almond milk (any will do)
1 ounce (about 1/4 cup) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
3 large eggs
2 large egg whites

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Cook bacon in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Reserve 1 tablespoon drippings in pan; increase heat to medium-high. Add pepper and garlic; sauté 4 minutes.  Remove from heat; stir in crumbled bacon and Mozarella cheese. Divide the bacon mixture evenly among 6 (6-ounce) ramekins or custard cups coated with cooking spray. (spread the mixture across the bottom)

3. Heat 2 cups milk in a saucepan over medium heat to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around the edge (do not boil). Place Parmigiano-Reggiano and the remaining ingredients in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Gradually add the hot milk to egg mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Divide egg mixture evenly among ramekins. Place the ramekins in a roasting pan, and add hot water to pan to a depth of 1 inch. Bake at 350° for 32 minutes or until the center barely moves when the ramekin is touched. Remove ramekins from pan; let stand 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Below is what they looked like just as i put them in the oven

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Here is what they looked like, all cooked

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