Friday, December 31, 2010

Recipe: Banana Bread

A breakfast treat from Cooking Light.  Not that this can masquerade as a healthy breakfast on par with low-fat cottage cheese and fresh fruit (which is overrated anyway but highly recommended by the trainer), but it's wonderful.  The Bananas Foster Bread is also a treat.    You give me 3 bananas that are 'questionable' and I'll give you a loaf.

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana
1/3 cup plain (or vanilla) fat-free yogurt
5 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
6.75 oz (1 1/2 cup) flour
1/4 cup ground flax seed
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

Preheat over to 350.  Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl, beat with mixer at medium.  Add sugars.  Beat until combined.  Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through allspice) in a smaller bowl.  Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended.  Pour batter into 9x5 loaf pan coated with cooking spray (line pan with foil to make removal easier).  Bake for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove from over; cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Recipe: Toffee Bars

Yet another recipe that is likened to in delicious and addictive.  My sister found the Eagle Brand Classic Recipes book at my Grandma's house and brought it to me.   Honestly EB milk (or the generic store brand) goes in a lot of fabulous desserts and these were no exception. 

1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (I used pecans)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter/margarine, melted and divided
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (12oz) chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate chips)
additional chopped walnuts / pecans

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease 13x9 baking pan (or line with foil and make your life easier).  In large bowl combine oats, flour, sugar, nuts, 6 tablespoons melted butter and baking soda.  Press firmly on bottom of pan.  Bake 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, in medium saucepan over medium heat, combine 2 tablespoons butter and condensed milk.  Cook and stir until mixture thickens slightly, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in vanilla.  Pour evenly over baked crust.  

Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.   Remove from oven; immediately sprinkle chocolate chips on top.  Let stand 1 minute; spread chips while still warm.  Garnish with chopped walnuts / pecans.  Cool completely.  Cut into bars.  Store tightly at room temperature.

Denver Lights

This Christmas season I had a chance to enjoy two annual events here in Denver that involve light:  The Parade of Lights and Zoo Lights.   What's not to like about being outside with family and friends and enjoying Denver's unseasonably good winter weather.  Cheers!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Recipe: Mississippi Mud Cake

The cover picture on the Simply Chocolate (from the editors of Southern Living) cookbook had their photo of the Mississippi Mud Cake and it was the deciding factor in me checking out the book from the library.   I took the recipe in the book and modified it a little, using a springform pan to make the cake round for better slicing and using their suggestion bought brownie mix rather than making the batter from scratch.   It is super rich and delicious, a small slice goes a long way.   Peanut Butter Cup ice cream is great on the side.
1 package family size brownie mix
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted
1 10oz back of mini marshmallows (I only used half as many, since the pan was smaller)
Frosting:  16oz powdered sugar, sifted,  1/2 cup milk, 1/4 cup butter, softened, 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

Follow instructions on the brownie mix.  I used a 10 inch springform pan and followed the 9x9 pan baking instruction.  I also use the high altitude instructions for Colorado.  Mix toasted pecans into the batter and pour into the springform pan.   Bake per package instructions.   Remove from oven, sprinkle mini marshmallows over the top and return to oven for 5 minutes.  

While base is baking, make the frosting.   Sift together the cocoa and powdered sugar.  Add butter and milk and beat with electric mixer until smooth.   When you take the cake out of the oven after the 5 minutes with the marshmallows, immediately pour frosting over the top.   Let cake cool and then remove the ring from the springform pan.   Slice and serve with ice cream.  YUM!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Recipe: Crescent Bacon Cheddar Pinwheels

This is one of those recipes that you can add to or modify to make the perfect savory treat for any occasion.  My normal plan of attack when finding a new recipe online is to read it, plus the first 20 reader reviews and see if any of the suggestions make sense (ie freezing the dough for 20 minutes to make it easier to slice - great idea!).  Click here for the original recipe from  I doubled this recipe since I was making it for a party.

1 (8oz) can of crescent dinner rolls (I used the reduced fat store brand)
2 tablespoons ranch dressing (used low-fat and probably more than 2T)
1/4 cup cooked real bacon pieces (used turkey bacon and a lot more - again from the reader reviews)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped green onions (passed on these)

Heat oven to 350.  Unroll dough from can, forming into 2 long rectangles (12x4 - using 4 triangles).  Press perforations to seal.   Spread dressing over each rectangle to edges.  Sprinkle with bacon, cheddar, and onions (if using).   Starting with one short side of the rectangle - roll up the rectangle, pressing the edge to seal.  (reader review - wrap and freeze for 20+ minutes to make easier to slice) Cut each roll into 8 slices using a serrated knife.   Bake 12-17 minutes or until edges are deep golden brown.  Immediately remove from cookie sheet and serve warm.

Recipe: Candied Walnuts

Something I love when at festivals, fairs, or Christmas markets are candied nuts.   It may be one of the most profitable things ever, because you pay $4-6 for a small cone of nuts, when you could make a pound or more at home for the same cost.   This is another delicious recipe from All Recipes

1 lb walnut halves
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  Spread nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Roast for 8-10 minutes until the nuts turn brown and the kitchen smells awesome.  Stir together sugar, cinnamon, salt, and milk in a medium saucepan.  Cook over medium high heat for 8 minutes or until the mixture reaches the softball stage (236 degrees - here in Colorado, I've found you've got to go down about 10 degrees because of the altitude).  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla immediately.   Add walnuts to syrup and stir to coat well.  Spoon nuts onto waxed paper, and immediately separate nuts with a fork.  Cool and store in an airtight container. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Colorful Willemstad

Painted Houses and Queen Emma Bridge
View from Queen Juliana Bridge

Queen Juliana Bridge

With all the holiday craziness going on, I've been remiss, both in highlighting my Thanksgiving vacation and all the recipes I've been knocking out in the past two weeks.   "Town" in Curacao is Willemstad, a very colorful port, with not just one, but two famous bridges.  The Queen Emma Bridge is on pontoons, is popular with tourists, and moves out of the way for boats and ships to get by and the Queen Juliana Bridge is one of the tallest in the world...some of those big ships can go under it.   It was a pretty place to spend a half day.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Recipe: Loaded Potato Soup

I mentioned potato soup to my trainer - and even though this recipe is from Cooking Light - it did not get his approval because of the potatoes.   It turned out well and I will definitely make it again...even if it does get circled in my food journal.   The recipe is in the 'super fast' section to be made in 20 minutes, but I let it simmer on the stove for a bit after adding the potatoes and sour cream.   I also doubled the recipe from what was in the magazine.    The recipe below is the original from the magazine.

What You Need

4 (6oz) red potatoes
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped (or pre-chopped) onion
1 1/4 cups fat-free, lower sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups 1% milk  (I used skim)
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 bacon slices, halved (I used turkey bacon and chose to chop it up and put it in the soup instead of as a garnish)
1/3 cup shredded cheddar
4 teaspoons thin sliced green onions

What You Do

Pierce potatoes with a fork.  Microwave on high 13 minutes until tender.  Cut in half, cool slightly.
While the potatoes cook, head oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion, saute 3 minutes.  Add broth.  Combine flour and 1/2 cup milk, add to pan with 1 1/2 cups milk.  Bring to a boil; stir often.   Cook 1 minute.  Remove from heat; stir in sour cream, salt, and pepper. 

Arrange bacon on a paper towel on a plate in the microwave.  Cover with a paper towel; microwave on high for 4 minutes then crumble bacon.

Discard potato skins ( this was extra work - I kept most of the skins on ).  Coarsely mash potatoes into soup.  Top with cheese, green onions and bacon.  I also used spicy red pepper and hot sauce to give the soup a little kick

Recipe: Creamy Lemon Macadamia Cookies

Yet another recipe from the Best Ever Cookie Book,  although 'creamy' is not a word that I would personally choose to use in a recipe title...must be a nod to the cream cheese.  It is a delicious combination of flavors not common in cookies.  

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter/margarine
4oz cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
2 teaspoons lemon extract
7oz (1 1/2 cups) whole macadamia nuts  (I usually coarsely chop some of them)

Preheat oven to 300.  Combine flour, soda and salt in a medium bowl.   In a large bowl blend sugars well with an electric mixer.  Add the butter and cream cheese, and mix to form a smooth paste.  Add the egg and extract.  Beat at medium speed until fully combined.  Add the flour and macadamia nuts at low speed until combined, do not over mix. 

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 18-20 minutes (Colorado style, start at 15 minutes).   Immediately transfer cookies to a cool flat surface.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Aruba Sunsets

Sunsets over the ocean.  Is there anything better?  
These are some pictures from my brief three day stay in Aruba before Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Seashells in Aruba

Walking the beach in Aruba

Recipe: Ceviche

My return from vacation ceviche - sadly no beach in sight

I scouted some recipe ideas online - here was my creation
1 lb shrimp
(no tails - and these were actually pre-cooked, even though the lime juice will cook raw shrimp)
The juice of 3 fresh squeezed limes, plus about 1/8-1/4 cup bottled lime juice
let lime and shrimp marinate all night in fridge - then add the following, stir,
and serve with tortilla chips
5 green onions, chopped
1/2 tomato, diced (not a big tomato fan here)
1 piece of celery, chopped
freshly chopped parsley and cilantro (about 1/4 cup total)
ground pepper
splash of olive oil
dash of hot sauce

One of the best things about traveling to the islands is the prevalence of seafood.   Over my 10 days in Aruba and Curacao, I had ceviche three times.   As you can see from the pictures below, the ocean adds a delicious quality to the food.
Piet's Pier - Hyatt Regency Aruba

SHOR - Hyatt Regency Curacao

SWIM - Hyatt Regency Curacao

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Recipe: Smoked Cheese Pasta Bake

Probably one of the first recipes I ever used from Cooking Light magazine.  This was in the January/February 2007 issue.  And it was delicious again yesterday.

1 lb uncooked penne (used whole wheat for added nutritional value)
1 26oz jar fat-free marinara sauce (or the sauce of your choosing...I also added a can of diced tomatoes with garlic and oregano for extra tomato goodness)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 10oz pack frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
Cooking Spray
1 1/2 cups reduced fat sour cream
1 cup (4oz) shredded smoked mozzarella (tried it this last time with smoked Gouda, also worked well)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup (2oz) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (can also use low fat mozzarella if needed)

Preheat oven to 350.  Cook pasta according to package, omitting salt and fat.  Drain.
Heat marinara sauce in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add salt, pepper, and spinach, stirring until blended, cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat; stir in cooked pasta.
Coat 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Spoon half of pasta mixture in to dish.  
Combine sour cream, smoked cheese, and basil; spread over pasta in dish.   Spoon remaining pasta over the top.  Sprinkle with Parmigiano cheese.  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until bubbly.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Recipe: Peanut-Mallow Crunchies

So, let me say that if I ever coin the name for a recipe, the word 'mallow' will not be used.  Regardless if marshmallows are an ingredient.  I made these this past weekend as I was looking through the cabinet and thinking "wow, these marshmallows from the camping trip are still soft, better do something with them."  And having learned that the recipes written on the back of packages actually do have promise, I present to you 'chocolate crunchies' or 'hedonistic haystacks' or 'peanut piles.'  (ok, piles does not make any food sound better...retract!)

30 large marshmallows
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter/margarine
4 cups crispy rice cereal
2 cups unsalted peanuts
(I omitted the 2 cups raisins...why ruin a perfectly good snack)
2 cups pretzel sticks, broken into 1/2 inch lengths

Melt marshmallows, chocolate and butter over very low heat, stirring frequently to blend (this will take longer than you expected).  Combine remaining ingredients in a large greased bowl.  Pour melted mixture over the cereal mixture.  Stir gently until all pieces are well coated.  Pat into a greased 11x17 jelly roll pan or drop on a greased cookie sheet.  Let cool to set.  Makes one pan or 48 clusters.

I used a pan.  Then cooled in the fridge and then broke/tore it into pieces.  Most of it is frozen for future treating.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Recipe: Eggnog Cookies

Usually I start baking for the holidays around the week of Thanksgiving.  Since this year I will be relaxing island-style away from a kitchen, I've started a little early.  The freezer makes all things possible.   My mom gave me the Mrs. Fields Best Ever Cookie Book when I moved into my first real apartment in 2002.  I think I've made this recipe each year since.

2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter/margarine, softened
1/2 cup eggnog
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large egg yolks
ground nutmeg for garnish

Preheat oven to 300.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and 1/2 t nutmeg.  Mix well and set aside.  In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter with mixer until grainy. Add eggnog, vanilla and egg yolks and beat at medium speed until smooth.

Add flour mixture and beat at low speed until combined.  Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg.  Bake for 20 minutes (Colorado time...the recipe says 23-25).  Transfer to cool surface immediately with spatula (and they aren't let them sit on the cookie sheet and you may never get them off). 

Recipe: Butterscotch Blondies

Another great find from  I've now decided to try and take pictures of the different recipes, but admit that food photography may not be my strong suit (yet).

1 (18.25oz) package yellow cake mix with pudding
1/3 cup butter/margarine, softened
3 eggs, divided
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted (I admit, cooking light style, that I used about half)
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 (14oz) can fat free sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  In large bowl, beat cake mix, butter and 1 egg at medium speed until crumbly.  Press evently into greased 13x9 baking pan (use foil and make it easy on yourself).  Bake 15 minutes.  Remove from oven; sprinkle with pecans and butterscotch chips.

In small bowl beat milk, eggs and vanilla.  Pour evenly over chips.  Bake 25-30 minutes until center is set.  Cool thoroughly, then cut into bars.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Stick Figure Families

My sister and I have a running joke about stickers that people put on their cars, whether it is turtles, flipflops or stick figures that represent each member of the family.   I saw a car that had a sticker of a woman with 2 cats and I threatened to do that to her car - classifying her as a cat lady.  So when she returned from Disney World last month, she wouldn't give me my gift, unless I proved that I hadn't put stickers on her car. 
My gift?  Two stickers.  One with a woman wearing mouse ears.  One with a dog.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Recipe: Macaroon Brownies

Coconut and chocolate....a match made in heaven.   I found the original recipe on, but modified it.   And by modified, I mean I love the filling and use regular brownie mix.  Especially when said mix is on sale for $1 at King Soopers.

1 box brownie mix (family size for a 9x13 inch pan)
4 cups flaked coconut
1 can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1 T vanilla

Prepare the brownie mix following instructions.  I use a 9x9 inch silicone pan so they are deep dish brownies.  Pour half the brownie batter in the pan.   Mix the coconut, milk and vanilla in a bowl.   Drop / smooth onto the layer of brownie batter.   Top with remaining batter.   If you want to, you can add chocolate chips to the brownie batter, just for fun.   Bake according to the instructions for a 9x9 pan, probably 35-40 minutes.

Enjoy deliciousness.

Thanksgiving Fries

Just a brief moment to give a shout out to Big Game Restaurant for this amazing dish on their menu.   Just as amazing as the Illini winning their homecoming game were the Thanksgiving Sweet Potato Fries.   They are topped with marshmallow cream and toasted cinnamon pecans.  The person who created this should be given a prize.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Recipe: White Chicken Chili

Last weekend I was determined to get a handle on all the random recipes and Cooking Light magazines that were cluttering up my cabinet.   As a part of that mission, I came across a recipe I cut out at some point and had never made.    The recipe is courtesy of Kerrygold Aged Cheddar Cheese.   However, I didn't have any Kerrygold cheese and our trainer is not a big fan of cheese in general (unless it's low-fat feta, and just a sprinkle).   It was very tasty.   I put in my comments and substitutions. 

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 onion (8oz), peeled and diced
1 yellow bell pepper (8oz), stemmed, seeded and chopped (I do not like bell peppers, so I passed on this ingredient)
1 teaspoon minced fresh jalapeno chile (I bought a small one at King Soopers and laughed when it was rung up at $0.01)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 can (15oz) cream-style corn
1 can (7oz) diced mild green chiles
2 cups whole milk (used skim - no problems)
1 can (15oz) navy beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
salt and pepper
1 cup shredded Kerrygold Aged Cheddar Cheese

In a large pan (or pot) combine oil, onion, bell pepper (if using), and jalapeno.  Stir often over high heat until onion is limp.  Add cumin, corn, green chiles, milk and beans.  Bring to a  boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally - about 10 minutes.   Stir in chicken (and then I let it simmer some more).
Season with salt and pepper.   Stir in cheese (if using) and serve immediately.    Crackers and tortilla chips are also a great garnish for this chili.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Le Central

Another installment in my Denver culinary adventures....

A week ago Saturday we had a girls happy hour at Le Central.  Prior to this delicious delight, I had a really good morning at the gym, including my first weigh-in (in no way like the Biggest Loser) with our trainer.  So it was definitely a day for a treat.    After eating healthier choices at Panera  for lunch (apple instead of chips - no soda - no dessert), I was prepared to enjoy myself with the girls.   Sangria, bread and butter, french onion soup, warm chevre cheese with crostinis.    And this dessert.   Named for the restaurant. 
'Le Central'

Ahhh.....I love life.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ana's House - Finished!

Very exciting today to get an email from Habitat Guatemala that showed the finished houses that we started in June.  What a blessing a new house is for each family!  

Ana and her son
The finished product
The house on day 4 of our build
...and the house on day 1 of our build

Monday, October 11, 2010

Whirlwind Mom Visit

I know that I get my love of travel from my mom.   I know that she got it from her mom.   Grandma M was widowed in her early sixties and spent a lot of time in the following years on U of I alumni association trips.  She was in China, the Holy Land, Kenya, Egypt, and Scandinavia.  So it's not surprising that mom decides "I want to visit my daughters," checks our calendars, and books a flight.  She was here for less than 48 hours - but it's all about quality, not quantity.   There was time for wine, sushi, coffee with family friends, lunch at Blue Bonnet, walking in Cheesman Park, ice cream at Liks, exploring the Regis campus, a nap, a movie, church, Sunday school, creating Mom's new travel facebook group, and checking out her pics from Italy, Austria and Germany.  Mom's coming out for Christmas, so it won't be long until we see her again.  Guaranteed, there will be more wine, some chocolate and a lot of discussion about our upcoming trip to Tanzania. 

And just for fun, a random update:
Outside my is kinda sorta drifting towards fall

I am thinking...that going to work at 6a is early.  Fortunately I don't do it often.
I am thankful for...having friends of many religions and backgrounds.  Everyone isn't meant to be the same and being fearful or distrustful of others who aren't just like you seems like a poor way to live life. 
I am remembering...that bacon is not an approved food in my "streamlined" diet.   Come on, it was only one piece.
I am dinner at Fogo de Chao later this week.  Yum!
I am currently reading...the last few pages of a book by Madeline Hunter.
I am hoping...that I can get everything done!
Noticing that...Habitat Global Village has come up twice in the past week.  I got a card from Habitat Guatemala this week and then the wife and daughter of one of our pastors were featured in an article about a dedication of houses with Habitat Nepal
From the kitchen...all the brownies were devoured at youth group thankfully.  Made shrimp and asparagus stir fry tonight.
One of my favorite things...sleeping in.   I was sadly deprived of that this past weekend.
From my camera...Regis Campus 10.9.10

Monday, October 4, 2010

Now it's Gelato?

A few weeks ago Haiti came up a couple times in one week.   Last week it was Italy.  Do I think it's random? No.  More likely my cue to get on a plane.   What were the signs?

1.  My cousin is studying abroad in Florence this semester.  Seeing her pictures and reading her stories, I want to be going to Italian cooking classes and being featured in the newspaper.   You can see the article here.
2.  My mom is coming to visit this weekend.  She spent 10 days in Italy this summer and wants my help in creating a photo book.
3. My friend at work has had Italy on the mind for quite a while.  I gave her a guidebook for her birthday and she is feverishly plotting.   Normally I would be impatient that she is considering Spring 2012, but since I have a couple things in mind for 2011, it's probably better for my budget.
4.  And if that wasn't enough, I watched Letters from Juliet over the weekend - and if a romantic comedy and the thought of wine doesn't put you in the mode for Italy, what does?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Kaos and Cariño

Last week I had a chance to use my first ever Groupon.   Earlier this summer when hunting for the Pajama Baking Company, we had walked by Kaos Pizza on Old South Pearl Street and thought that we would need to go back sometime.   They have a great garden patio and the food was delicious!  We had the Soprasetta Pizza, complete with an egg.

Today I went in pursuit of something else local - a non chain coffee shop in my general area called Cariño Coffee.  I've driven past it many times and they have a sign saying "Aurora's Best Coffee", so it was definitely worth a try.   The staff was super friendly, when I said that I had never been there before, they asked what I liked and offered menu suggestions.   I ended up with the Latin Mocha....very tasty.   I sat out on the patio (complete with a dog bowl, so next time I'll bring Chey) and cracked open the new book by Robin D. Owens.  Makes for a happy Saturday.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Daybook (it's almost October edition)

(from the simple woman's daybook)

It's been a while since I did a daybook post, so here goes.

Outside my window...unseasonably warm weather during the day.  Makes my sister glad she's in CO.
I am thinking...about Italy.   My BFF at work asked me first thing about going to Italy in 2012.  Between now and then I've got 2 trips on the books and more in the wings, but I've never been to Italy so we can be excited together.

I am thankful mom.  She is awesome.

I am remembering...nothing.  Apparently my brain has turned to mush.  I think it has to do with how fast this past month has gone. 

I am some very cool looking safari lodges in Tanzania next year.

I am currently reading...Almost Forever by Deborah Raney.

I am hoping...that all this working out and food journaling will pay off.   I know it will, but starting off is always hard. 

Noticing that...applicants applying for jobs at our property are pushy.
Pondering these lyrics...currently finding the words in Matthew West's "The Motions" and "My Own Little World" appropriate. 

From the kitchen...a killer Bananas Foster Bread from Cooking Light.   I bought flaxseed for the occasion, so hopefully it kinda sorta passes muster with my trainer.

Around the house...swimsuit hunting.

One of my favorite things...making people feel welcome.

From my camera...Rocky Mountain National Park

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Life Lessons by Anthony Bourdain

This week I finished reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.  It was fun and easy to relate to after working in restaurants and hotels the past 15 years.  Working in a very "corporate" environment now, some of the shenanigans that can occur in independent free-standing restaurants, don't happen (or not as much) in a corporate kitchen.   One of the last chapters of the book includes Anthony's recommendations if you want to be a chef.   Many of these can apply to your job as well.

1.  Be fully committed.
2.  Learn Spanish (so useful in so many's true)
3.  Don't steal.
4. Always be on time.
5. Never make excuses or blame others.
6. Never call in sick ~ except in cases of dismemberment, arterial bleeding, sucking chest wounds or the death of an immediate family member.  (another one I love, since I haven't called in sick in the last 10 years)
7.  Lazy, sloppy and slow are bad ~ enterprising, crafty and hyperactive are good
8.  Be prepared to witness every variety of human folly and injustice. 
9.  Assume the worst.
10.  Try not to lie.
11.  Avoid restaurants where the owner's name is over the door.
12.  Think about that resume!
13.  Read!
14.  Have a sense of humor about things.

Dining Update - This week we went to Westword Dish, where there was sampling from about 30 Denver area restaurants.  We also went to Bonefish Grill.   I'd had a gift certificate from earlier this year that had not been used (constant debate between my sister and I, since I tend to sit on gift certificates and she uses them right away).  The food was great and our server hilarious.   In general I don't seek out chain restaurants, but I wasn't going to waste the gift card.   Had ceviche for the first time since Peru, also enjoyed sea bass, grouper, salmon, scallops and shrimp.  

Anthony Bourdain had something to say about what day you go out to eat.   The 'average' person goes out on a Friday or Saturday where the restaurants are packed and the staff has a turn n' burn attitude.   Sunday brunch is basically leftovers from the week.  Monday is shipments come in, but the restaurants want to use their old product up.  Tuesday - Thursday is where it's at.   The product is fresh, the kitchen and the floor aren't as busy and you win.

Bon Appétit!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Population Me

Another new song discovery.   It's also very timely as there have been recent discussions about what it means to be a good person, living a good life, and being Christian.   Is helping others a part of our American culture?  Only for the middle / upper class?  Because your parents do it?  Because being a good person is important to your friends or co-workers?   What does it take to do more than the minimum in society or in the world?  How do we focus on more than just ourselves, our families, and our friends? 

"My Own Little World" by Matthew West
In my own little world it hardly ever rains
I've never gone hungry, always felt safe
I got some money in my pocket, shoes on my feet
In my own little world, population: me

I try to stay awake during Sunday morning church
I throw a twenty in the plate but I never give 'til it hurts
And I turn off the news when I don't like what I see
Yeah, it's easy to do when it's population: me

What if there's a bigger picture?
What if I'm missing out?
What if there's a greater purpose?
I could be living right now
Outside my own little world
Stopped at a red light looked out my window
I saw a cardboard sign said, "help this homeless widow"
And just above that sign was the face of a human
I thought to myself, God, what have I been doing?

So I rolled down the window and I looked her in the eye
Oh, how many times have I just passed her by?
I gave her some money than I drove on through
And my own little world reached population: two

What if there's a bigger picture?
What if I'm missing out?
What if there's a greater purpose?
I could be living right now
Outside my own little world
My own little world

Father, break my heart for what breaks Yours
Give me open hands and open doors
Put Your light in my eyes and let me see
That my own little world is not about me
What if there's a bigger picture?
What if I'm missing out?
What if there's a greater purpose?
That I could be living right now

I don't want to miss what matters
I wanna be reaching out
Show me the greater purpose
So I can start living right now

Outside my own little world
My own little world

(click here to hear the song)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Getting in Fighting Shape

I met with my sister's personal trainer this week and had the shocking realization that I have not been exercising much since the Bike MS.   Instead I have gone on Sunday road trips and eaten at new restaurants and started supporting the Justice League of Street Food.  And these are good things.   But not good things that get me into "fighting" shape for my trip to Aruba and Curacao in 2 months.   Yes, two months from today I will be enjoying a few days under the laziness cloud at the Hyatt Regency Aruba, before heading to Curacao for another week of relaxation.   Not familiar with your Caribbean geography?  
Look just north of Venezuela.

Even though it will be winter-ish here, it will not be in the islands.   I need to dress appropriately.   Hence the need to eat better and work out more.  Hence the need for a trainer to keep us motivated and/or to kick a**.  I went to the gym today and stepped on the scale.  Something has to give.   It may be my fondness for the cupcake truck.   At least in the short term. 

I still had the chance to try some new places this past week.  Our Illini gamewatches have moved to a new location this year, Big Game in LoDo.   This was our third gamewatch there, but the first that I have attended. And we won, which is a plus.   Had a great breakfast burrito, but was sad that I couldn't get the bottomless mimosas.   On the way back, we meandered through Larimer Square and stopped at The Market.  All the good things you would like on a Saturday: coffee, ice cream, sandwiches, and cake are there.   We opted to split an amazing German Chocolate brownie.  See?  Splitting it was a good step.  Even if it was a small one.


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