Monday, February 28, 2011

Project 365 - February 23-28

And the second month of 2011 bites the dust.
 February 23 - I didn't know that 'dry soda' was an option
 February 24 - Vintage moving truck parked outside the hotel
 February 25 - Helping a friend move from a highrise apartment via shopping cart
and a gift of Enstrom's toffee

 February 26 - Lunch at Brown Cow
 February 27 - Cupcake from Cake Crumbs (of Cupcake Truck fame)
February 28 - Packing central on the kitchen counter

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Trip Wow

I ran across a feature I didn't know about on Trip Advisor this week, which is the Trip Wow feature that lets you create a short video about your trip with minimal effort on your part.   This was my trial run, using a few pictures from my vacation to Aruba and Curacao in November.

Fun in The Sun Slideshow: Jenni’s trip from Denver, Colorado, United States to 2 cities Cura├žao and Aruba was created by TripAdvisor. See another Aruba slideshow. Create your own stunning free slideshow from your travel photos.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Recipe: Pecan Chocolate Chip Gooey Butter Cake

I recently discovered a blog called Evil Shenanigans.   Two things.   One - I love shenanigans of every kind.  Two - It's a culinary blog.   The pictures of all the food are amazing.   There are a lot of intriguing recipes.  This is my first effort.   It worked out well that I only had 2oz of cream cheese left.  Cleaning out the fridge while creating delicious sweets.   Maybe it was meant to be.

One of the first photos using my new camera. 
I got it for shooting wildebeest, but dessert works too!

Click here to go directly to the recipe.   I did a little modification, using a 9x9 silicone pan instead and mini chocolate chips (that was what was on hand).  The bars still turned out great, but the gooey butter layer wasn't quite as thick since I used a slightly bigger pan.    I also cooled the bars overnight in the fridge before cutting them into small snackable squares.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Japoix

I love to eat and cook, trying new things at any time.  Tonight we went out to Japoix, a Japanese-French fusion restaurant on Lincoln close to downtown Denver.   The visit was prompted by a coupon I had bought from Living Social (same concept as Groupon, and both are brilliant).   The cocktail recommended to us by our server Joshua really set us on the path to fun and adventure.  My sister and I weren't sure what cocktail we wanted from the specialty menu, but we were sold on the Electric French Kiss.  Not because of the name, but because of the edibile flower (electric button) that comes in the drink.  We were instructed to chew the flower as long as we could and that it would enhance the cocktail as well as our food.   The 'electric flower' or sechuan button may arrive top secret in an unmarked box, and understandably so.  I don't think I've ever tried something that has had that crazy of effect on my palate.  And yes, it's legal.

I got a fabulous picture of my sister - she was checking her messages and chewing the flower at the same time and she looks likes she's in pain.  Our server came back and asked us how we could describe it.   Pop rocks.  A similar feeling to when your foot falls asleep and tingles all over.   Your mouth is on fire, but it's not because of heat.   Water even tasted entirely different after this.  And it looks so small and innocent.
The deceptive electric button in a cocktail with Ty Ku and lemonade

Kobe beef sliders with a spicy remoulade.  Perfect on the steamed bun
(and no bean jam in sight to my sister's delight).

Spicy Tuna Roll - aside from a lovely pickled ginger flower, it was topped with a little tempura to make it crispy and a drizzle of Sriracha.
My entree - Chicken Yakisoba, savory and delicious down to the last noodle.

We were having a fun time and the staff took great care of us.  We were planning to go down Broadway to Sweet Action for dessert, but were persuaded to try dessert at Japoix.  I had a simple creme brulee and my sister had the trio of mochi garnished with Pocky sticks.

All in all one of the best dinners I've had in a long time between food, service, ambiance, and of course, the electric button.

Project 365 - February 20-22

February 20 - Santa Fe French Toast at Toast in Cherry Creek North.  Toast is one of my favorite breakfast spots and doesn't get the long lines and waits that you might get at Snooze on the weekend.

 February 21 - Sticker shock - gas gets expensive!
February 22 - Sister's priceless expression while chewing on the sechuan button at Japoix.  It looks scary now, but it completely changed the taste of the cocktail and even the water.  Amazing.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Recipe: Enchilada Casserole


I don't think about using the crock pot very often, but ran across a recipe on the Cooking Light website and thought it sounded pretty tasty.   Click here for the original recipe.   I read it.  I read the top user reviews.  Then I created my own recipe.   It is in fact super easy and very tasty.

1 small can of diced green chiles
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 (15oz) cans black beans, drained
1 (11oz) can of corn
1 (10oz) can of red enchilada sauce
1lb 93% lean ground turkey, cooked and drained
Mexican spices to taste (taco seasoning, chipotle pepper, etc)
2 eggs
1 (8.5oz) box of Jiffy cornbread mix
6oz of shredded Mexican blend cheese
low-fat sour cream for garnish

Reserve 1+ tablespoons of the green chiles, then place all ingredients through Mexican spices in the crock pot.  Cook on low heat for 2-3 hours.  Mix remaining green chile, eggs, and cornbread mix  in a small bowl (I also added a little of the shredded cheese).   Spoon evenly over turkey/bean mixture in the crock pot.   Let cook for another hour until the corn bread cooks on top (check the middle, that will be the last place to firm up).   Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of cornbread for 5 minutes or until melted.   Serve into bowls then garnish with sour cream, if desired.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Recipe: Blackberry Streusel-Topped Muffins


I found this recipe in a library book called A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman.

The recipe says it makes 9 to 12 muffins, but I assume those would be the jumbo size and not the traditional muffin pan, because I made about 20.  Preheat oven to 400.  Arrange rack in the middle.  Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners and place it on a parchment parer-lined baking sheet (I admit, my sheet was not parchment lined).

Streusel Topping
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or shredded coconut (I used coconut)
1/3 cup firmly packed brown or white sugar (I used brown)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Muffin Batter
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon finely minced orange zest (I used a clementine to the same effect)
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk (author says you can substitute sour cream, I used non-fat vanilla yogurt)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 scant cups semi-frozen blackberries

Prepare streusel topping by rubbing or crumbling ingredients together with fingers; set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together melted butter, sugars, zest and egg.  Do not overbeat.  Mixture should be pasty.  Add buttermilk and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, stir together flour through cinnamon.  Gently fold into batter.  Once partially blended, fold in fruit.  Semi-frozen fruit helps 'firm up' the batter.  If it seems too loose, add a few tablespoons of flour to make it stiffer.

Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop a generous amount of batter into each muffin cup.  Sprinkle streusel topping evenly over each muffin.   Bake 15 minutes.  Reduce temp to 350 and bake another 12-15 minutes.  Muffins should spring back when gently pressed.  Allow to cool 5 minutes before removing from pan. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Project 365 - February 15-19

February 15 - I do in fact keep toothbrushes in my office for employees
February 16 - I am always completely overwhelmed when I go into Babies R Us. 
I only go for baby shower gifts.
February 17 - Chocolate humor
February 18 - Vegetable dumplings from H-mart
February 19 - I is for Island.  My contribution to the art project at my friend's baby shower today.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Project 365 - February 7-14

February 7 - Mural in downtown Denver
February 8 - S'more Pizza from Papa Murphy's
February 9 - Cat in a Box
 February 10 - Entry card for Zumba
 February 11 - Chocolate Squealer Spoonbender at Good Times
February 12 - Committing to travel underwear at REI
February 13 - Giant banana split at Big Game
February 14 - Moon when I got off the train

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Recipe: Chocolate Nut Bars

Just another way to get your chocolate fix...

From Eagle Brand Classic Recipes

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter/margarine, melted
1 (14oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
2 cups chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Preheat oven to 375.  Combine crumbs and butter; press firmly on the bottom of 13x9 baking pan.  Bake 8 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 350.

In small saucepan over medium heat, melt milk and 1 cup chocolate chips and vanilla.  Spread chocolate mixture over prepared crust.  Top with remaining 1 cup chocolate chips, then nuts; press down firmly. 

Bake 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool.  Chill if desired.  Cut into bars.

Februarys Past

February 13, 2010 - Porto Fiel, Peru
 In the wee hours of the morning, after playing dice games on the deck of the beach house, the family was reunited when the final sister arrived from the States.  
 Porto Fiel sunset before we headed off to the airport to come back home.

February 13, 2009 - Ko Lanta, Thailand
My first Thai massage!

Delicious food at the Gong Grit restaurant
Ahh, the beach

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Travel Journal

I have been keeping consistent travel journals since 1998 when my friend Becky inscribed the inside cover of a pink and blue floral journal that I had received as a gift.  The inscription is as follows:
 The Grand Tour of Egypt Dec 1998-Jan 1999
An excerpt from the personal writing of Jenni.  Edited by Leslie and Becky. 
All rights reserved.  Copyrighted 1999 Egypt Air Press.

This particular journal holds my trips from Egypt, the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Miami Road Trip and Appalachian service project in college.   

My current journal was a gift from my aunt before I went to Thailand.    Looking back, February 9, 2009 was Makabucha Day.  We started out by going for dim sum, followed by a day at the beach and then a ceremony at the temple.   On that day I tried Pepsi Green and Lays Sweet Basil potato chips.   



And last year, on February 9, 2010, I was in Cusco, Peru and we went to Qorikancha, out for helado, lunch the Trujillo restaurant and the Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Sena (with the marizipan making nuns). 



Another trip is on the horizon next month.  I'm glad to keep track of what I do and where I go so that I can look back with great memories of the trip.

Project 365 - February 1-6

February 1 - Surprise gift of Gigi's Cupcakes given to our office from Engineering.  The presentation of the cupcakes is amazing.   I just read on the website how the company began on faith.
 February 1 - BRR it's cold outside
 February 2 - Same as above - awfully cold
 February 3 - In spite of the freezing temperatures, the fountain by the gym continues to run.
 February 3- In the afternoon I found out that Mom's flight was canceled and she couldn't come for our ski weekend.   I was sad.  Then I came home and found an unexpected gift of Racine Kringle from my Grandma.  It helped make the day a little better. 
 February 4 - Skiing at Keystone with friends, then headed to Avon where I had a reservation at the Westin Riverfront Resort.  It's a beautiful property, and I would definitely stay there again (even if I am partial to the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek)
February 5 - Powder weekend.  One of my favorite things about Beaver Creek (in addition to the chocolate chip cookies and s'mores) is the magic carpet to the Strawberry Park Express, just in case walking is too much effort.
 February 6 - I had a "studio suite" at the hotel.   It had a lot of great features, including the 'Heavenly Shower' with double shower heads.
February 6 - Fluffy powder at Beaver Creek.  View with the sun peeking out. 

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