Cookie Swap

When I came across the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, I wondered if I was a qualified participant. I’m great at following recipes but definitely can’t create them out of thin air.

Thankfully there wasn’t a requirement to make your own recipe, so I turned to another trusted blog that has more than delivered on the recipes I’ve tried.

Enter: Since I finally was able to hunt down Cinnamon Chips in Fairbanks, I was on a real mission to find cookies to use them in. Thankfully TP&TP came to the rescue. I chose not only for the easy ingredient list but also for the epic name, Cinnadoodles 🙂

Check our their recipe and I might also suggest making their Pumpkin Chocolate Cookie Bars. Yum on both counts.

Loved the cinnamon chips, the cinnamon-sugar coating and they were a hit. I gotta say though unlike most cookies I actually liked them better when they were room temp… Not fresh out of the oven 🙂

Hopefully the people I sent my cookies to enjoyed them also! Here were my recipients:

Life of Blyss

Jaima’s Journey

Mere Words of Love

I received two batches so far. One batch from the lovely Diana, she made vegan ginger snaps. They were seriously addictive! I’m not sure what the recipe is but I’m hoping she’ll throw it up on her blog. As a non-vegan she had me singing a different tune!

The other batch I received was from JuJu and she sent me PB cookies with a twist. A Cooking Lite recipe that she changed up by subbing out all the butter for extra virgin coconut oil. They were slightly tropical but still had the peanut butter undertone!

Crossing my fingers that the third batch will make it all the way up here! Thanks again to my cookie bakers and I hope everybody enjoyed the Cinnadoodles!

Winter has Arrived

Its true. It’s here. Today was a balmy 7 degrees out.

Walking Beemer, I decided necessitated long underwear. So not only did I have the opportunity to drag my sorry but around my neighborhood in chilly temps, but I also got to feel extremely sexy doing it. Lucky girl.

Sadly I had to pull in the reigns on how much I could bundle up, because I have, ohh about 50 more degrees of freezing coming my way. Last year this is what I wore when it was -40.

I hope all you Lower 48’s are enjoying your weather. And please excuse me when I offer zero sympathy for your “really cold” days. When you have to plug in your car to keep it from freezing, we can talk 🙂

So while the snow has arrived, and the cold temperatures are only beginning their reign of terror, I warmed up my house by baking and busting out my crock pot.

If you’re interested in some yummy cookies, here’s what I did:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies by How Sweet It Is

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles by Recipe Girl

(these cookies may or may not make excellent ice cream sandwich cookies. And I may or may not recommend getting the festive Pumpkin ice cream that is currently available!)

But besides stuffing my face with cookies, as I said, I also busted out my crock pot. On the lazy days that the sun isn’t shining (there are many!), and its just to chilly to get the blood moving in my body, the slow cooker will be bearing the weight of dinner entrees.

I decided to figure out an easy Chicken and Dumpling-esque soup. From searching around a little bit I formulated a plan and this is how it went:

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumpling Soup

4 Boneless Skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1 Can of Cream of Chicken Soup
1 Medium Onion, diced
1 Can of Whole Kernel Yellow Corn, drained
2 Tbs Butter
2 Packages of Refigerator biscuits, torn into 1 inch pieces
Chopped Green Onions for garnishing

1. Place the chicken, butter, soup, corn and onion in a slow cooker, and then add enough water to cover.
2. Cover, and cook for 5 to 6 hours on High. 30 minutes before serving, place the torn biscuit dough in the slow cooker. Cook until the dough is no longer raw in the center. Serve with green onions on top!

This is not a traditional dumpling, obviously since we cut a corner on the whole “homemade” front… but for the lazy days that entitle a slow cooker recipe, I wasn’t the least bit upset about it 🙂

Hope you all have a great weekend! Make some cookies, or enjoy your warm weather… or both if you’re lucky!

Read and Feast

I love to read and I love to eat. Which is why I thought this idea (via a comment on this post on the blog Oh Happy Day) was beyond brilliant:

A Cookbook Book Club (CookBook Club?)

Credit: Unknown

Members pick a different cookbook every month, then each selects a recipe from the book to make and bring to the meeting. Everyone can discuss their favorite recipes, what they thought of the book, etc.

It could get expensive buying a new cookbook every month (those things tend to be HUGE and not cheap), but I’m guessing this would work just as well with magazines, or favorite online recipe resources (everyone could try a Martha cookie recipe, pie, or salad for the healthfully inclined).

Has anyone tried this with friends? What cookbooks, blogs, or websites would you want to try out?

Kung POW!

Last night’s dinner was a major success. It was delicious, simple, and there was little to no mess involved. That alone qualifies this recipe to be laminated and used frequently.

I don’t usually make Asian food. I like to order my Thai food and save my house the airing out process. I cook a pretty standard but caucasian stir fry occasionally.. but really I haven’t done much cuisine from that side of the world.

Last night was a test.

Enter Grilled Chicken with Kung Pao Sauce from Shape Magazine. They were touting the recipe with claims like “Good-Bye Takeout” and its only 173 calories per serving… Wait whhhaattt? 173 calories? mmmm I’m interested..

Serves 6 peeps

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry
1/4c plus 2T low-sodium soy sauce
1T black or red rice vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
1T plus 1t water, divided
1/3t sugar
1/4c oyster sauce
1/8t sesame oil
1/2t cornstarch
1/4c unsalted peanuts, chopped
1 scallion, slivered

Grill the chicken over medium heat for about 7 mins on side 1, and 3 mins on side 2. Make sure that baby is cooked through but don’t over do it, you still want moist (eww) chicken 🙂

In a medium saucepan, mix soy sauce, vinegar, 1.5T water, sugar, oyster sauce, and oil. Bring to a boil over medium heat.

In a small bowl mix together the cornstarch and remaining water. Add this to the bubbling sauce pan and simmer for about a minute, or until thickened. Remove from heat and seat aside.

Once you chicken is all done you can brush the sauce on top and top with peanuts and green onion. I obviously made brown rice too!

Super delicious and very flavorful. I know that the oyster sauce and sesame oil aren’t pantry staples but the recipe was good enough for me to say they are worth buying. I’ll definitely be making this again so I think the few bucks to add them to my cabinet is just peachy 🙂

Trevor liked it too…

Clean plate club over here 🙂

Everybody loves wine and cheese

There are the effortless party planners. The ones who make it look easy. They can throw a party together in an hour and never break a sweat. I am not one of people.

I am a party perfectionist. When I host something, I want every last detail to be perfect – from the way it looks to the way everything tastes. I clean surfaces guests will never see (at least I hope my guests won’t have a reason to look inside my air conditioning vent). I buy way too much food, because I can’t decide what I want to make and figure I’ll just make everything. Well-fed people are happy people, right?

Unfortunately, the cooking and cleaning extravaganza means that by the time people actually come over, all I want to do is send them all home so I can eat the four desserts I baked in peace.

However, I recently discovered a party that even I can plan with a minimum amount of stress. Wine + cheese = magic.

I know. A wine and cheese party is not a revolutionary idea, but I’m telling you: it’s brilliant! And easy! No baking required. It’s super-simple to set up and clean up. It looks fancy. And I’ve never met a person who doesn’t like cheese.

A few suggestions, should you wish to throw your own soiree:

1. Get cheese suggestions from a specialty cheese shop if you have one near you (I went to Cowgirl Creamery), or ask the cheese guy (monger?) at your grocery store. They’ll help you pick out a good variety of cheeses. Plus you’ll probably get to sample their suggestions before you buy anything. Mmmm, cheese 🙂

2. Don’t forget to write down what kinds of cheese you end up picking! I wish I had done this, but was too busy stuffing my face with samples. As a result, when my friends wanted to know what they were eating, I was stuck trying to decipher my receipt (MTTC – I don’t know your actual name, but you were soooo good).

3. Get a variety of munchies to complement your cheeses. I had honey, a spicy fig compote, grapes, almonds, dried apricots, prosciutto, crackers, and bread. I probably went a little overboard on the extras, but since the set up work involved opening jars and putting things in bowls, it didn’t matter.

4. Get more tips from Cup of Jo‘s wonderful blog, and use this checklist from Real Simple.

5. And if you want an easy to make, seriously delicious dessert, bake these banana bars. Seriously, even my friend who claims to hate bananas had several large slices.

Do you have any foolproof party themes or recipes? Any party disaster stories?

— Elyse

Maine Dish

Warning: Lobsters may not have survived last night’s dinner. In fact, they may have been the center piece of the meal. I feel twinges of guilt.

 

There are definite ups and downs when it comes to military life. Some days you can sing the praises of the benefits we receive and other days you are cursing the system and glaring at all things military.

This was a high point 🙂 Much like another adventure I had, when I flew Space-A (AKA free as a firefly)…

This fare-free trip offered the killer bonus of seeing some of the other guys that fly with my husband do their thing. I waved frantically at them, shouting “I KNOW THEM” but oddly enough they didn’t seem to reciprocate. But I digress…

This story is about making AF buddies. As I’ve mentioned I’m a group fitness instructor at the base gym up here in good old Alaska. I teach two boot camp classes and two spin classes a week. My boot camp class has become somewhat of an Air Guard thing 🙂 I have a group of guys that consistently come to my class and they just happen to be tanker guys…

This picture is from January 20.. It was a balmy -54 outside... This is what "Ice Fog" looks like

These fine gentleman and I have become buds after making them sweat, jump, run and lift all summer long. A lovely perk has been when they go off on missions they sometimes bring me a little prize from their destination.

This week they were headed out to Maine and they offered up the chance to get LIVE lobsters brought back for only $10.99/lb. This is a major deal. A coup. A dream.

I ran out to my car and got cash for my lobster Sherpa’s to bring me some crustaceans!

I received my cargo last night and drove home to figure out the process of cooking my lobsters. It was rather eery hearing them creak and squeak in the Styrofoam cooler but I valiantly trudged on!

I decided to steam my little critters rather than boil them. Somehow this sounded better and maybe less of a chance that the water could boil over and be a big fat mess.

The instructions state that for a 1.0-1.25 lb lobster you should steam them for about 18mins. I guessed what each little bugger weighed and shot for around 20 mins. I steamed several lobsters at a time too…For whatever reason I thought that this would result in less water-logged lobbies. I can’t tell you if they were better than boiled but they were delishhhh!!

It was definitely an activity filled dinner though. Lots of cracking, popping and juices flying. Lol gross… But its true. You really had to earn this dinner. While I could have done without the “innards” the tail and claws were meaty and awesome. Obviously they were dipped in a little butter bath and promptly melted in my mouth. There are so few things that butter can’t make better.

I also had some broiled corn on the cob, a tomato and avocado salad and finish off the meal with some Sour Cream Cinnamon Sugar Bundt cake.. which is somehow half gone. Mmm. 🙂

Are you a lobster fan? Or more of a crab person?

My first seafood love is crab cakes, but last night was definitely a fun treat! But every time I hear the word lobster I always think of this..

Goin’ Bananaz

Some people are not banana people. I witnessed this many times when I worked at a smoothie and frozen yogurt shop. It was like they had a panic attack just thinking about banana coming near their drink.

” You can take banana out of that right???”

“No ma’am the banana is now fused into the blender, the cup, and your soul. I’m afraid there is no way for me to take the banana out.”

::staring at me with a look of sheer terror::

“Yes, of course I can take the banana out you monkey”

I am a banana person. I like banana bread, strawberry banana smoothies, banana splits, banana pancakes… and I like saying the word banana.

Everybody now… BANANA. Come on its fun!!

So growing up when I smelled banana bread or anything banana of the sort I knew I was going to be happy…

If you don’t agree please immediately get some banana bread, heat it up slightly and put some butta (Paula Dean accent) on it. You will soon want to make out with the loaf of banana bread. You’re welcome.

This is the banana crack of all banana treats. Be prepared, it is sweet, banana-y, and friggen delicious.

Banana Bars

1/2 cup margarine/butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 t. soda
1 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
3/4 cup sour cream
3 ripe bananas (mashed)

You can use half Splenda/sugar if you desire…

Mix wet ingredients first. Combine dry ingredients and then mix into wet ingredients.

Use jelly roll pan, greased and floured. Make sure to shake off any excess flour. Bake at 350-375, 30 minutes

Frost with brown butter frosting
2 T. butter melted
1 t. vanilla adding
1 T. milk
Add powdered sugar to the consistency of “spreadability”
Shake of salt

I hope you make them and enjoy them. And if you are not a banana person, I’m sorry but you cannot take the bananas out of this recipe. That would just be bananas.

FYI: I used the word BANANA 26 times in this post. It’s seriously is a fun word.