Monday, January 31, 2011

Recipe: Cinnamon Rolls

I'm not sure the last time I made cinnamon rolls that didn't involve popping the pressurized can open with a spoon and hoping that it didn't ooze on me.   It is cold and snowy in Denver tonight and after getting home, I had no interest in going, doing or being anything outside the house.   This recipe maybe falls under the 'semi-homemade' category since I did use Jiffy baking mix.  Super easy and required about only 5 ingredients.

2 cups jiffy baking mix
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup butter/margarine
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425.  I sprayed a round cake pan...the way I cut these rolls, there was no way I was making 15.   Blend baking mix and milk.  Turn onto counter dusted with baking mix and knead about 20 times.   Roll to 15 x 8 rectangle (I did break out the measuring tape to see if I was even close).   I melted the margarine and painted it onto the dough with a pastry brush then sprinkled the sugar/cinnamon mixture.   Roll up and slice into 1" pieces.  Place in pan.  Bake 15 minutes.  Serve warm.  Frost if desired.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Project 365 - January 22nd & 23rd

January 22 - This is the third year that our 'young adults' group has been given the opportunity to use a very nice home in Breck for our annual ski weekend.   There's plenty of beds for everyone and we can walk to the skier shuttle.  Saturday was a killer powder day.   I skied through the trees in 'fluffy' snow with the help of a friend.   I only hit (a love tap) one tree and had to take off my ski to stand almost waist deep powder.   After skiing, this was the view from the hot tub.   It's hard to deny that life is good in moments like these.
January 23 - This is the black run that I did at Breck.  The weekend before with the youth, I looked at this run...then went down the catwalk to Northstar about 3 times before just trying it.  It's great to see my skills improve year over year.
January 23 - Crazy Icicles
January 23 - The village of Breckenridge at night.   It's so pretty.  On Friday night I went to dinner at Empire Burger with friends and it reminded me that Breck is a real town, not just a ski resort.   Of course this view was followed by a hazmat incident that closed I-70, so we took the 'scenic' drive on 285 instead.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Project 365 - January 20 & 21

A key component to any birthday week celebration is free food.  Make sure you are on the email lists for your local restaurants and you will eat like a queen.   Thursday I went to Red Robin for the first time and enjoyed a free birthday burger and sundae (complete with servers singing).

January 20 - Red Robin
January 20 - My first Red Robin burger
January 21 - Nothing says birthday fun like a daylong conference.  The good news was I got additional PHR recertification credits for attending.   And it was at Invesco.
January 21 - Visit to find out more about hiring people with disabilities.  These stickers were at the CHRA conference to show that everyone can be labeled...and it shouldn't stop you from getting a job.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Project 365 - January 17-19th

Lots of eating out this week - no complaints from me. 
It's a week of seeing friends and enjoying the annual pre-birthday celebration.
January 17 - Whole grain tortilla on the blackened mahi mahi burrito.  My trainer should be proud.

January 17 - My sister has started her typhoid series - we got a complete informational packet including fridge and mirror clings.  The highlight is the reminder bracelet.  In fact she is rocking it right now in preparation for her Wednesday night at 10:15 dose.
January 18 - Ahi Sandwich at Citron Bistro with two of my favorite people. 
January 18 - One of my favorite people

January 19 - Pre-birthday breakfast at Snooze. My southwest pancake came complete with a candle!

 January 19 - Happy Hour at Katie Mullens including my birthday dessert, also with candle, a fantastic Bailey's cheesecake.
January 19 - The snow that caught everyone off guard.  50 degrees this morning...people weren't thinking coats and hats.  Surprise.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Project 365 - January 14-16th

January 14 - Warm fire upon arrival in Breckenridge. 
January 15 - Second ski day of the season, excellent day on the mountain with the youth followed by the hot tub, dinner and learning to play Halo 3 on Xbox and Star Wars on Wii.  I have no skill in either game.

January 15 - View from base of Peak 7

January 16 - Signs like these exist for a reason.   Our giant snow tube blob almost mowed down children who didn't heed this sign.
January 16 - First time sledding in a long time.

January 16 - Going to Tanzania countdown via paper chain.  My sister had the weekend to herself and this was one of her many projects.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Project 365 - January 12th & 13th

January 12 - Cherry Creek State Park
January 12 - Shots at the Travel Doctor
Yellow Fever and a Polio Booster (not to mention the prescriptions for typhoid and malaria along with Cipro and Lunesta just in case)
January 13 - Downtown Denver
January 13 - Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne
We are discussing his book The Irresistible Revolution at church this spring.  It's a great book that I read last year about taking the principles of the Bible and putting them into action in a real way.  Changing your little corner of the world.    I've just started Jesus for President today.  An early line that I liked was on page 27 after some discussion about Cain and Abel that says "Civil"ization began with fratricide. 

I heard another song on the radio that has lyrics that really "speak to me"
(as Mom would say).The song is "I Refuse" by Josh Wilson.   My lyrics of choice today? 
"I refuse to sit around and wait for someone else to do what God has called me
to do myself.  I could chose not to move, but I refuse."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Recipe: Cumin Curried Hummus

Surprise Surprise:  Cooking Light.  Apparently from the November 2004 issue, but I saw it on an email about healthy appetizers.   After tasting the hummus following the recipe exactly I made some additions.  I added a little more olive oil and lemon juice than originally called for.  I added a little tahini and white pepper.   I got some hot curry powder from Penzey's in Wisconsin for Christmas and it definitely gave it a great kick. 

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped (used bottled garlic)
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 (15.5oz) cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

Heat oil in a small skillet/saucepan over medium heat.  Add garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Add curry and cumin; cook 30 seconds or until fragrant, stirring constantly.  Place garlic mixture, water, and remaining ingredients in a food processor.  Process until smooth.

Project 365 - January 9th-11th

Sunday was a snow day.  I made it to church, but didn't leave my house by car after that.  We took a trip by foot to the mini mart to grab a few things.   The Chey-dog loves the snow.   We opted for the scientific weather ruler on the deck to measure the snow fall.  

January 9 -  Chey in the snow
January 9 - Weather ruler at 5.5 inches

 January 9 - Snowy Tree
January 10 - Weather ruler at 7 inches on Monday morning
January 10 - The weather reporters said it was the coldest day in the year...hopefully they mean the past year and not just in 2011
January 11 - I remain optimistic that a cluttered desk really is the sign of an organized mind

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Recipe: Coconut Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream Frosting

I took advantage of the snowy afternoon to go through my back issues of Cooking Light, cutting out the recipes that I hadn't tried but I wanted to and put the rest in the recycling bin.  Today's qualification:  If I have to drive to get an ingredient, I'm not doing it.   The frosting on these cupcakes is amazing! 

Makes 12
4.5 oz (1 cup) flour
3 tablespoons potato starch (did quick online research and determined that I could use cornstarch - good thing since I was not going to the store)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2/3 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons flaked sweetened coconut
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon half and half (used skim milk)
1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
4.75 oz (1 1/3 cups) powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350.  Place muffin liners in pan. spray with cooking spray.  Weigh/lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level with knife.  Combine flour through salt in small bowl and mix with a whisk.   Combine sugar and butter in large bowl, beat with a mixer at medium until blended.  Add egg and egg white, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add flour and milk alternately to egg mixture, beginning and ending with the flour.  Fold in coconut and vanilla.   Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.  Bake at 350 for 18 minutes (time was just right, even by Colorado standards) until cupcakes spring back when touched lightly in the middle.   Cool completely before frosting.

To make the (delicious) frosting, combine 3 tablespoons of butter, half and half (or milk), rind and juice and beat at medium speed until smooth.  Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating until just smooth.  Spread about 2.5 teaspoons of frosting onto each cupcake.  Only 196 calories! 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Project 365 - January 7th & 8th

Food and fun this weekend!
Celebrated special occasions and no occasiona at all with different groups of friends all over Denver.  

January 7 - Downtown in lights 
January 7 - Larimer Square 
January 7 - Big margaritas and burritos at Lime

(so, not pictured, but I got a great first haircut at ZandiK Salon near the Santa Fe arts district...I won a gift card at a silent auction and realized that a good haircut should be more than just a once a year occasion) 

Then I decided to visit Cake Crumbs, the bakery in Park Hill responsible for the awesomeness that is the Denver Cupcake Truck.  The truck has received a lot of press this week due to issues with city zoning.   This past year food trucks have really been popular in Denver.   I had my first cupcake truck cupcake at City Park Jazz this past summer and since then have followed their location and flavor of the day on Facebook.  Had a tasty breakfast burrito, coffee, and of course, a cupcake.
January 8 - Cake Crumbs, 2216 Kearney Street, Denver

January 8 - Spicy Chocolate, cupcake of the day

Project 365 - January 5th & 6th

Not that exciting things can't happen midweek, but they didn't this week.  

January 5 - Guest dog, Amber, who behaved herself admirably

 January 5 - Chey, curled into a dog-ball on the couch

January 5 - Sushi on my new plates

January 6 - At least I can look at the fountain and work on my fitness at the same time

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Commentary: Travel Like You Don't Live There

In November I was in plenty of planes, and there is limited reading material.  Of course, the ubiquitous Sky Mall was readily available.  I even practiced reading in Spanish using the American Airlines Nexos magazine.  And then I had to peruse American Way from cover to cover.   An article that I really liked was called "Travel Like You Don't Live There" by Jim Shahin.   When I travel there are things that I like to do like a local: visiting local neighborhoods with friends and restaurants off the tourist track.  The best way I've found to do this is on volunteer vacations.   When you are the only 'farang' in a Thai pre-school, you're having a real world experience that most tourists will never have.  And then there are things that are the crux of vacation and being a tourist, like sleeping in and umbrella drinks and climbing the Turm at the Cologne Cathedral. 

So for someone coming to Denver who wanted the real "live here" experience, I would suggest the following....

-- Rush hour traffic.   I-225 is my personal favorite.
--I-70 west on a Saturday morning during ski season.   Leave home about 6:30-7 so you have the complete experience of sipping your Starbucks in traffic moving 8 miles an hour.
--Packing yourself onto the light rail going to a Rockies or Broncos game.
--Waiting for a table at Snooze on a weekend morning.   I drove by today on my way to work and there were plenty of open tables.  The breakfast is worth it, but time yourself accordingly. 
--Being ill-prepared for snow.  It was 40 degrees and sunny when you set out in the morning, and by afternoon you've got 4 inches of snow.  Every time it snows people act like they've never seen it before. 

Project 365 - January 4

Whew...made it all the way to Tuesday!  Only 3 days to go.  

Free spicy chicken biscuit day for breakfast at Chick-fil-A....and fresh flowers on the table.  It isn't enough that the food is good, the staff is friendly AND they're closed on Sundays.

What I didn't have for dinner. 
My poor sister has "Influenza" (much more serious than your garden variety of flu) and the
doctor said clear soups.  

Monday, January 3, 2011

Recipe: Fried Pickles

In general we don't fry anything.  Fried pickles are a guilty pleasure best enjoyed at a bar on rare occasions.  But last week my sister had a craving.  I found the recipe.  She did the deed.    We took the recipe below and changed it up and added a lot of spices (hot sauce, seasoning salt, hot red pepper, etc) for our taste.

1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk (skim)
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 1/2 cups flour (we started with about a cup and added more if needed)
1 (32 oz) jar sliced, drained dill pickles (we had a smaller jar, maybe 16oz)
1 quart vegetable oil for deep frying (we used nowhere near this amount)

In a small bowl, mix together the milk, egg, 1 T of flour and Worcestershire sauce.  In a separate bowl, stir together the remaining flour and other spices.  Heat oil to 350 degrees (we used a small saucepan).  Dip the pickles into the milk, then the flour, then repeat both steps.   Place pickles carefully into the oil.  Fry until they float to the surface and are golden brown.  Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.  Serve with ranch dressing. 

Project 365 - January 3

 It is a rude awakening going back to work after a long weekend.   The new year means lots of new planning, training and employee activities.    But I do get to walk by the iconic Blue Bear each day on my way to work.

January 3 - Blue Bear "I see what you mean"
January 3 - I fear no fish sauce
It's been almost 2 years since I went to Thailand.  On my return I was not intimidated by the H-Mart and all the products where I can't read the label.  Pictured: fish sauce, soy sauce, chili paste.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Project 365 - January 2

Although you won't get fit just walking through the doors, this is where our erstwhile trainer beats the hell out of us and sends calories running for cover.  Figured that January 1 was too early to work out, but January 2 was ok.

Saving Sarah Cain, an unknown movie from the library.  It fit the lazy weekend requirement of family bonding film.  Rated PG for teenage smoking, although that only happened once.  A heartwarming tale of a career woman who became responsible for her Amish nieces and nephews. 

Pineapple shaped cookies from Hawaii, courtesy of friends who just got back to Denver today.   I now have my own Mele Kalikimaka tin.


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