Monday, July 30

Foodie Penpal - Sweet Things From the Beehive State

Look what was waiting at my doorstep today!!! :oD

Yup!  Round 2 of Foodie Penpals (put together by the wonderful Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean)!

The Lean Green Bean

[sidenote: putting that button up there was a fun little trip to html land...  yikes!  I'm amazed I didn't botch that!]

This month my penpal was a blog reader, Jarica.  I had a chance to learn a little bit more about her through email exchange, and was super excited to find out she lives in Utah.  Utah is one of my most favorite places to visit.  Such an awesome outdoor playground! :o)

She sent me a bunch of sweet treats!  Four types of granola from her local Farmer's Market, cake mix, Utah honey, and green tea drink mixes!

I had somehow ended up breezing through the day and realized at 5 that I hadn't had lunch yet!  Oops!  So, I tried a nibble of each of the granolas.  It's different than other granolas I've had or made, because its a bit more like homemade baked oatmeal in texture.  Nice and soft, but still granola'y [if that makes sense!].  I'm not sure if I liked the caramel apple or almond berry best... They were all delicious!

I had some of the Simply Delicious granola with some yogurt and blueberries to tie me over until I made dinner.  :o)  Yum!

I have plans to use the cake mix with my favorite 5 year-old friend and am excited to have the green tea to go for work!  [PS, school starts back up in less than 3 weeks!  Ohmigoodness...]

Alright, now the honey. the honey!  No wonder Utah earned the nickname of the beehive state!  Hands down, best honey I've had.  It is so much thicker than most honey you buy, and DELICIOUS!  So good you could eat it by the spoonful! Yes, I did have a spoonful... By itself... [but hey, it was a little spoon!]  :o)

Thank you Jarica!  :o)

I sent some goodies to a blog reader in Atlanta.  She has an adorable puppy, so Rudder included some homemade dog treats and Alaskan dog treats for him.  :o)

Rain Clouds & Blueberry Apricot Quesadillas

It's been a cloudy cloudy day.  Know what?  I am more than okay with it!  I think I needed a cloudy day to get some stuff done inside, and not feel guilty about not being outside enjoying the sunshine.  :o)  

So, I made quesadillas for dinner.  Not just regular ol' quesadillas though!  I was in the mood for some blueberries, and had an apricot that needed to be used.  So, I ended up with a mishmash of ingredients inbetween two whole wheat tortillas, making a Blueberry Apricot Quesadilla!

But first, here's a few pictures from our rainy day!  I ran some errands for some projects around the house.

We walked around the trails in bicentennial park for over an hour.

Pretty pretty raindrops! :o)

Yikes!  Fall is coming!

Ok, so the quesadilla...

Blueberry Apricot Quesadilla

  • Blueberries 
  • Apricot
  • Mint leaves
  • Goat cheese
  • Whole wheat tortilla shells
Dipping Sauce
  • 2 T Blueberry basil vinegar (although you could probably use balsamic too)
  • 2 T Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 T Honey
  • Salt & pepper to taste
So, I guess it's not really a recipe huh?  More like a "if you put these things together in a skillet on medium heat, it tastes pretty good!"  :o)

Cut the blueberries in half (like I did with the Mango-Blueberry Quesadilla) so they don't roll around too much! :o)

Make the dipping sauce, so it's ready to go as soon as you take the quesadilla off the skillet.

Shake, shake, shake!

Spread out the ingredients and heat over medium.  :o)

Another easy peasy! :o)

The dipping sauce is (in my opinion) what makes this awesome.  So make sure you don't skip it! :o)

We of course ended dinner time with some throwing the ball (or ball like thing?) in the yard.  :o)

Sunday, July 29

Pin it Up, Hang it Up

I did this MONTHS ago, and forgot to share.  :o)

I found a little wooden framed cork board at the Value Village thrift store in Fairbanks this winter for a cool $4.  It was missing a hook and was a little dinged up, but I knew it could be gussied back up and be useful again.  :o)

So first thing I did was prime it, then paint it white.  I primed with a sponge brush, then used newspaper to cover the cork board, and spray painted it white.

I didn't want to use just any old tacks, so I bought some generic tacks (which were harder to find than I thought!) with a plan in mind.  I used a little bit of sand paper to rough up the painted surface, then put on a dab of superglue.  Next I attached a random assortment of buttons I picked out.  I have 3 tins of buttons from my grandmother; I don't think she ever found a button she didn't like and kept every extra button from every shirt, coat, or pant suit owned!

I found a key rack bar on clearance at Target (somewhere in the $2 - $3 range) and decided to keep to the wood look (it tied in with the wood pieces in the living room).  Screwed that on, then up on the wall it went! I must say, I have spent less time looking for my keys since I put this up.  :o)  It's also nice to put outgoing mail into, so it doesn't get lost somewhere on my kitchen counter.  Yikes...

I had more plans to maximize this ITTY BITTY space behind the door.  So I made a really fancy workstation (again, one of those moments where you go, "gosh, a garage with a work bench would be pretty awesome") but hey, it worked just fine!  I had some left over baseboard from the built ins, and thought it would be a good size for under the cork board.

So, I painted it white then screwed it into the two studs in that wall.  Next, I put up 4 oil rubbed bronze hooks from Lowe's.  They were actually probably the more expensive items in this project...  I decided to use two prints (they're actually greeting cards) I bought at Gulliver's (favorite little Fairbanks bookstore!) and put them in matching frames.

Here's a close up of the button pins.

Some kinda neat buttons, huh?  I wonder what that rose one went on...

Voila!  A little entrance coat rack and mail station in the tiniest space behind the door!  I see all these awesome mud rooms and entrances on blogs and pinterest, but I just don't have that kind of entry.  You open the door and hello! you are in my living room.  :o)

I'm still toying with the idea of adding wainscoting under the coat hooks...  I have some, but think I'll wait to see what I do with the baseboards and rest of the room first.  :o)

Carrot Hummus

No, not just carrots dipped in hummus, but hummus MADE of carrots!

I have quite a few carrots on my hands at the moment...  I have some white ones from Full Circle, orange ones from Full Circle, and some orange and purple ones with character from Sarah's garden. I like carrots, and I LOVE carrot cake (did you know that carrot cake with cream cheese, or goat cheese, frosting, and hold the raisins, is my favorite??).  I didn't want to make oodles of carrot cakesque food though.  I'd eat it all by myself!  So, I turned to the interwebs and found a recipe for a Moroccan Carrot Hummus on Arctic Garden Studio.  Cool thing is, the blogger is from Fairbanks!  So, like usual, I had trouble following a recipe to a tee, but found her recipe to be a great jumping off point! :o)

Carrot Hummus
  • 4 medium carrots, washed and sliced
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1/4 t coriander
  • 1/8 t (or so?) cayenne pepper
  • 2 t olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 can (14 oz) chickpeas. drained and rinsed
  • 1 T almond butter
  • 2 t lemon juice

Since I've had the white carrots the longest, they were the lucky winners for hummus making. :o)

Chop them up.  No need to peel, just make sure you wash them well!

In a small bowl, combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, salt, and pepper.

In the original recipe, she used harissa, but I don't have that, so I substituted these instead.

Next, put in the olive oil, then mix it up so that all the carrots are coated with oil and spices.

Lightly spray a pan, then place carrots on it in a single layer.  Bake at 400*F for 35 minutes.

While they're baking, get everything else in the food processor.

See!  This time I wrote down what I was putting in with my guesstimates for amount of ingredients!  That way I can be somewhat more accurate when writing down a recipe on here  :o)

[Yes, that is the back of a special education meeting agenda with a normal curve and IQ scores on it... I like to recycle paper around here ;o) ]

Mmm!  Nice and roasted!

Combine everything together in the food processor and let it go!  At this stage, you can add more olive oil to the mix if you'd like it a bit thinner.  I myself like a thick hummus, so I just put in a small drizzle.

Easy peasy, no?

I had it with cucumbers, orange peppers, and pita chips for dinner.

Some feta cheese on top of the hummus for a little extra deliciousness.  :o)

Rudder and I painted the guest room today.  Well, I painted, Rudder was on paint removal duty apparently. He was going for the gray beard (and ear, and leg, and butt?) look it seems.  Silly puppy!  Hopefully I'll get that room put back together in the next few days and can show a "in progress but slightly closer to done" picture with the new wall color.  :o)

Friday, July 27

Almond Crusted [Protein of Choice] with Peach Topping

This is delicious.  Just letting you know.  :o)

I've made this with halibut and with chicken (for my non-halibut eating mother) on two different occasions, and think I'll try it with tofu.  Anyways, that's the reason for the pick your protein title in the title.  :o)

It all started with some Full Circle peaches that needed to be eaten...  Peaches make me wish I lived in the south were they'd be readily available at a street side farmer's stand...  I think that's probably one of the things I miss the most about living in AK... the farmer's markets, stands, oh and the Amish stands, YUM!  Other things missed are first and foremost the people, then Fall, and going to ball games.  Anyways, I was talking about peaches...

So, I had made a pistachio crusted halibut before, and I liked it, so why not go for the healthy almond?

Almond Crusted [Protein] with Peach Topping
Almond Crust

  • 1 1/2c. raw almonds
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1/4 t. cayenne pepper
  • salt (to taste)
  • egg white (2 egg whites for 4-6 pieces of fish/chicken)
  • flour

Peach Topping

  • 1/4 c. sliced almonds
  • olive oil
  • 3 c. peaches, wedged with skin
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 1 c. water
  • 1-2 T. balsamic vinegar (put 1 T in first and decide if you want to add more)

I roasted the almonds in cinnamon, a smidge of maple syrup, cayenne, and salt.  Roasted at the same time and same way as the pepitas.

Here's the coating process: flour, egg white wash, nuts.  Be sure to get all sides!

Place on a lightly sprayed pan, at bake at 375*F for 20-25 minutes.  While that's in the oven, it's time to make the peachy goodness to go on top!

First, heat some olive oil in the pan over medium-high heat.  Add almonds and let them brown a bit.  Next add all ingredients EXCEPT balsamic and simmer over medium-low for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, add the balsamic and simmer 5 more minutes.

Once you've added the balsamic to the peaches, take sliced brie (this is goat cheese brie, but any ol' brie will do!) and place it on your almond crusted halibut/chicken/tofu/other protein.

This will get it nice and melty.  Mmmm! :o)  There should be about 5 minutes left on your protein in the oven.

While I could just each this by itself (and have as leftovers... good on a kale salad, just fyi!), I figured it'd be good to have something on the side to balance out the meal.  :o)

Enter rice and kale.  I made rice (per instructions) then added some reduced Amarula and diced dried apricots to it.  Yummmm!

I originally was going to use the reduced Amarula over the peach sauce, but the peaches didn't need a thing! So, into the rice it went.  :o)  Good decision.  :o)  Another time making this, I served the almond crusted halibut and peaches over quinoa.  In the quinoa I put in a little bit of brie and some roasted minced garlic.  Both are pretty stinking delicious.

I also made a kale salad.  Pretty easy recipe to make:
Simple Lemon-Rubbed Kale Salad

  • Kale - one bunch
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 2 t honey
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 c.  pepitas
How to:
  1. Clean kale and tear into smaller pieces
  2. In a small bowl, whisk 1/2 T olive oil and 1/2 T of lemon juice.
  3. Pour olive oil, lemon mix over kale, add a few dashes of kosher salt, and massage into the leaves.
  4. Combine the rest of the lemon juice, rest of the olive oil, honey, and pepper to make a dressing for the salad.  Pour over salad.
  5. Top with pepitas.

The kale salad is REALLY easy, and REALLY delicious.  One of my new favorite ways to prep kale for salads (like the kind I end up putting leftovers on top of).  :o)

And there you have it, dinner!  

 The first time I made it was up at my parents house in Fairbanks.  They liked it.

So did the dogs.  :o)