Friday, September 30, 2011

World famous

Just got the newest issue of Sunset in the mail the other day and look who made the magazine for a weekend getaway destination;
That's right - Chico! But really, please don't come and visit because it's already crowded enough now that those pesky college kids are back. According to the article we should be biking down the Esplanade side streets, visiting the downtown bicycle shops, going to Bidwell Park, shopping at Made in Chico (which we do), and eating lunch at Tin Roof Bakery (only buy their stuff at the farmers market or S&S). Not one mention of Sierra Nevada Brewery or spending a delightful afternoon wandering around Chapmantown which makes me seriously doubt the author has even been here. Too bad they didn't mention the National Yo-Yo championships that Bird in Hand does at City Plaza which is this weekend. Way to go Sunset, make it sound like some kind of dirty, bike riding hippie destination.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Caramel corn

Today was my first attempt at making caramel corn for my Sunday baking extravaganza. I found a delicious recipe that incorporated crushed pretzels and Reese's Pieces with the popcorn and called for the popcorn to be pressed into a 9x13 and cut up into bars.
I didn't measure the popcorn because each bag said it made about 4 cups so I popped all three bags in the box, but I think I ended up with more than 12 cups because not only did the mixture fill a 9x13, but also an 8x8. Unlike other caramels I've made, this recipe called for the addition of mini marshmallows to it which I think will help hold the bars together better once the mixture sets. I've got the 8x8 in the fridge right now to set quicker so that the boy and I can do some quality control before taking the rest to work!

Do you see what I see?

How do I love today? Let me count the ways;

1. Rain
2. Starbucks non-fat Pumpkin Spice Latte

3. Veins I haven't seen in my right foot for almost a year deciding to finally make an appearance

I'm having the best Sunday ever!

Friday, September 23, 2011

The wonderful world of fleece

Hooray for the first day off fall and the last day of high 90s temperatures! But I'm going to need the temperatures to drop dramatically before I break out my new fleece sheets that just arrived.
Ridiculously soft fleece sheets I picked up from QVC last week on a Today's Special Value deal. I'm sure once I get those on the bed I'll never want to leave!

Soooo, I don't know if you remember, but I'd mentioned that the Amtrak train we took home from Seattle was the same train used at the end of The Italian Job (it was the trivia question we won a bottle of wine on during the wine and cheese tasting). Well, last night it was on TV and we finally caught the scene they were talking about.
That's Marky Mark walking through the dining parlour that was only for sleeping room passengers. We sat at both the tables to his right and to his left. I touched stuff Marky Mark touched - I'm never washing my hands again!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Beer Pairing Dinner

Last night the hubby and I went to Feather Falls Casino in Oroville with some other couples from our homebrew club for a beer pairing dinner. 5 courses of awesomeness complimented by the casino's own craft beers. The dinner started at 6:00 pm so we got there a little early to make sure we hooked up with the other couples we were dining with. Since there were two open chairs at our table the head brewmaster, Roland, joined us too. That is, until a couple came in late and there weren't two chairs open at the same table so Roland left so that they could sit with us. Who comes 40 minutes late to a dinner? But enough about them, more about the food...

An appetizer of prosciutto wrapped asparagus served with their Soaring Eagle Pilsner were first up.
The asparagus was served cold and with a delicious spicy mayo. I could see trying to make this at home. Next was a caesar salad with blackjack vinaigrette (made with their blackjack beer) served with their Golden Feather Extra Pale Ale.
Good, but not as good as traditional caeser salad dressing. The first entree served was a honey habanero glazed salmon with black pepper risotto served with the Sticky Bee Honey Wheat Ale.
Loved, loved, loved this! Nice and spicy, flavorful and just plain fabulous. I think it was everyone's favorite. The second entree was stuffed pork loin with apple sausage dressing and roasted golden beets served with a Squirrel Trail Brown Ale.
The brown ale seemed to be the crowd favorite. I didn't finish my pork loin because I'm not a pork fan and I was getting way too full by then, but the Canadian was more than happy to take the rest off my hands. The last course was dessert - an ice cream float made with the Naughty Native IPA.
Blech. Super bitter beer paired with sweet ice cream. No bueno. I dug out the ice cream and then pushed the rest aside. I actually didn't drink any of my beers for the evening. I took an obligatory sip of each one and then passed them to the Canadian to finish. The yeast in beer makes my stomach want to explode with pain so I steer clear of it.
Captain Canada however, was willing to take one for the team and drink double the beer. Poor guy. For our efforts we also got commemorative glasses. And the couple who came late? They turned out to be really nice and I felt bad thinking such bad things about them making Roland move. The best part about the evening? Finding out that they're going to be doing these dinners quarterly to coincide with the solstices. And Roland, the brewmaster, said that he was brewing a cranberry beer for the winter dinner which made Chris very excited. New meals and new beers - we can't wait!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Going gluten-free

As of August it's been six years since being diagnosed with gastroparesis (delayed stomach emptying) and in that time I've learned what foods my body can handle and which I should steer clear of. But as time goes on I'm noticing that certain foods with gluten (a protein from wheat) are upsetting my stomach. Things like pasta, bread, and certain ice creams causes me horrible stomach cramps the following day. To test my worse fear, I went gluten free for two weeks and didn't have a single problem. I don't think I'm allergic to gluten because I think the symptoms would be more severe, but I do believe I have a sensitivity to it and need to eat it sparingly.

Keeping that in mind, I tried three new gluten-free recipes this week with great results. The first was a garlicky shrimp and rice casserole that we both loved. It was seasoned rice mixed with garlic shrimp, spinach, and cheese. It was so good. Last night I made a southwestern enchilada casserole that was a layer of corn tortillas covered with a mix of seasoned shredded chicken, artichoke hearts and cheese, another layer of tortillas and a sauce made of chicken broth, rice flour, hot sauce and mild green chilies. Then the whole thing is topped with more cheese.
It was tasty, other than I wish I'd used a mix of marinated artichokes and frozen to make it more flavorful. Then, for my Sunday baking for work I made gluten-free cranberry and white chocolate rice crisp bars. They're a mix of rice crispies, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, peanut butter, cranberries with a white chocolate drizzle.
They're in the fridge right now setting up. I hope they like them, because you expect the taste of a traditional rice crispy treat and that's not what these are. First of all there's peanut butter in the mix, but secondly the sweetener is brown rice syrup with is sweeter than melted marshmallows. They're different, but still good. They'd better be for all the hunting I had to do for brown rice syrup!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Day at the lake

Some ladies at work, one of which owns the boat we used, spent the afternoon out on Lake Oroville. We each brought appetizers and mixers for vodka. I brought hummus covered in a layer of olive tapenade with slices of soft naan bread and a big ol' jug of orange juice to make screwdrivers with.
It was the perfect day to be out on the lake - sunny, but only in the low 80s. Even with my aversion to swimming in large bodies of water occupied by marine life I still managed to get in and paddle around. There were inner tubes and boogie boards to keep us afloat.
Of course I put on sunscreen seeing as how we were out in the sun for about 6 hours, but it wasn't until I got home that I saw what an awesome job I did in applying my spray sunscreen to my arm. I mean, at least it worked where I actually sprayed it, right?
My whole arm looks like that, like I have some sort of skin disease. Sweet. While I didn't do much more than sit around a boat today, being in the sun makes you tired....zzzzzzz. I was all ready for an early bedtime, but I couldn't leave my dedicated readers hanging in suspense for my next blog so you're welcome. And goodnight.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fancy cakes

Going away cake for old boss at work.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Flavors of fall

I love this time of year when Starbucks starts serving their Pumpkin Spice Latte;
Nothing like drinking some warm pumpkin awesomeness while being held captive to four concurrent football games. And it was the perfect weather for it - only 84 degrees as opposed to the 101 degrees on Friday.

Today's baking adventure revolved around the perfect flavors of Almond Roca with an easy cookie version. Basic cookie dough base of all the usual suspects - flour, eggs, butter, sugar, vanilla, but with the addition of a generous helping of toffee bits. After chilling in the fridge for about an hour and a half, you roll the dough into balls that are dipped in chopped almonds before baking.
After all the cookies have cooled, you melt some milk chocolate and drizzle it over each one.
I've got all the trays of cookies rotating into the fridge for a short time to harden up the chocolate so I can stack the cookies. The recipe claimed a yield of 36 cookies, but after 5 dozen I still had at least enough dough for another dozen and ended up just throwing the rest of the dough away. With all the layoffs at work we just don't have enough people to eat 6 dozen cookies and Lord knows we don't need the extras hanging out around home. Having sampled each step of the process (quality control!), my favorite was the raw dough. You could really taste the toffee bits, though the finished cookies are still very tasty. If you're willing to make the trek to my house you're welcome to help yourself to a dozen!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Greetings from the hotest place on earth

101 degrees, I reject you.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

So true...

Chico is where the nuts come from, that's for sure.

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Too cute to use

OMG - the cutest postage stamps ever! Thanks mom!

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Luscious lime cookies

Since today was a holiday, my Sunday baking turned into Monday baking instead. This week I went with something easy and soft enough that I could gum it with my wisdom-less teeth - some lime glazed butter cookies. The dough had lime juice and zest in it which I shaped into a rectangle log and let harden in the fridge for about an hour before slicing and baking in the oven.
After coming out of the oven I let them cool on the racks while we went to the movies and saw The Debt (with Helen Mirren). We hadn't been to the movies in ages, and I felt that I could actually stay awake long enough and not have my jaw aching the whole time. We're glad we went because we both really enjoyed it. When we got home I got busy making the lime glaze for the cooled cookies that was literally just powdered sugar, lime zest and lime juice. Each cookie got a nice spread of glaze which set up nice and quick.
And the verdict?
So soft and deliciously tart! The Canadian told me to quit eating them after my second one, party pooper. I'm sure they'll be a hit at work, just like last week's Mexican wedding cookies.
I'm glad I made those last week because I wouldn't be a happy camper with a mouth full of little walnut bits.

I go back to the oral surgeon in the morning for a follow up appointment so he can check out my stitches and listen to me complain about the world's worse pain pills. By day two I had to cold turkey off the pills because I couldn't keep any food down. Now I'm just getting by with ibuprofen which helps dull the ache in my right jaw. I can't wait to eat real food again. I'm bored of pudding and applesauce. I want a steaming hot plate of nachos!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Soothing smells

I'm having bad times with nausea so I've curled up with a bag of pumpkin spice scented candles from mom to calm my tummy and its working fabulously.

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Chipmunk cheeks

Just had all four of my wisdom teeth out this morning. Such a fun way to spend my long weekend!

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Best bumper sticker...ever

Found this in an empty desk in the office. Need one for my car.

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