Monday, January 31, 2011

Pure laziness

Clearly, I put those pillows on the floor so Linus would have a place to spend the afternoon :)
Excuse me... I'm trying to sleep...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

No. 3

I've already finished my third book of the new year - woohoo! Next up: Nickel and Dimed.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hamilton Mountain (1/29/11)

What to do with a free Saturday on a mild January day when there's no new snow on Hood? How about a hike in the Gorge?

We'd watched the weather all week, seeing the forecast go from great to not-so-great. But we're not wieners - hiking in the rain is fun! Good thing we didn't cancel because it turned out to be dry and warm and sunny!
The trail was muddy in some places but in really good condition for winter. There were others on the trail, but it wasn't crowded at all. We had the summit to ourselves for awhile and then shared with just one couple and a German shepherd.
I love getting silly pictures with my little tripod :)
After, it was time to refuel with Thai Lotus in Vancouver. We'd never been there but we saw the sign on 164th and decided to try it out. Good choice!
Fancy rice bowl:

Friday, January 28, 2011

Happy things

What are some happy things from my week? What made me smile?

Monday: Andy came to spin class with me and loved it (I knew he would!).

Tuesday: I cooked two amazing dinners: mashed potatoes and noodles and lentil loaf. Yum!

Wednesday: Dad brought over this:
Italian Garlic Supreme from Round Table. Oh my gosh! My very favorite. Then we watched Salt on our big screen. (Brad and Eryn, too)

Thursday: I got to catch up with Lindsey and laugh at our Thursday-night sitcoms.

Friday: "Walnut Lovers" left me a nice comment on my lentil-loaf post.

Saturday: Looking forward to hiking with Sean and Karen!

** What are some of YOUR happy things today or this week? **


Lentil walnut loaf

No-TV Tuesday produced two dinners again this week! (YAY for dirtying the kitchen once for two meals!!)

I read on Eat, Live, Run a yummy-looking recipe for Vegan Lentil Walnut Loaf - a veggie version of meatloaf. The creation won an award, so I figured it was worth a shot.
Basic ingredients and simple instructions. The smell was amazing, and I could hardly wait until Thursday to dig in! We pulled it from the fridge and nuked it a short time. YUM!
The texture was a little off. Lindsey described it as "smooth" - I think that's exactly right. It was a bit pasty. When I make it again, I'll simmer the lentils a little less to hopefully maintain their shape and mix it a little less to keep the ingredients from mushing together as much.

But the flavor was excellent. I will definitely make this again!

Vegan Lentil Walnut Loaf

1 c lentils (I used red lentils because that's what I had in the fridge)
3 c vegetable stock or broth (I used chicken bouillon because I didn't feel like defrosting my homemade veggie stock from the freezer)
1 large onion
1 large carrot
1 stalk celery
2 T olive oil
2 t minced garlic
1 c breadcrumbs
3/4 c chopped walnuts
3 T ground flax mixed with 1/2 c water
1 t oregano
1 t salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
2 T ketchup
1 T pure maple syrup
1 T balsamic vinegar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine the ground flax and 1/2 cup water. Set aside.

Simmer together the lentils, broth and a pinch of salt for about 25 minutes or until the lentils are tender and have absorbed all the broth. (I went beyond tender to mushy. Don't do that.)

Chop the onion, grate the carrot and dice the celery. Saute the onion and celery in the olive oil over medium high heat for about six minutes, or until tender. Add the garlic and carrot and cook for about another 4 minutes.

Toast the walnuts in the oven for 6-7 minutes. Add them to the veggie on the stove and stir well. Add the oregano, salt and pepper and then take the mixture off the stove and transfer to a large bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, flax/water and cooked lentils and toss well. Press mixture into a greased loaf pan and set aside while you make the topping.

In another small bowl combine the ketchup, maple syrup and vinegar. Spread on top of loaf. Bake for 40 minutes.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Muffin Wednesday: Peanut Butter Crunch

I know we already made muffins this week, but that was a special occasion. Muffin Wednesday still must go on!

Chris picked out this week's experiment: Peanut Butter Crunch Muffins:
And Josepha assisted in the CE2 kitchen:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin tin.

3 T peanut butter
4 T sugar
2 T flour
1/8 t salt

2 c flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 T sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 c milk
1/3 c melted butter

1. Combine peanut butter, sugar, flour and salt. Mix with a fork and set aside.

2. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center.

3. In a third bowl, whisk together the egg, butter and milk. Add to the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.

4. Spoon the batter into a prepared muffin tin, filling two-thirds full. Sprinkle with topping, pressing down slightly with the back of a spoon. Bake for about 20 minutes.

As usual, I doubled this recipe, and it made two dozen.

The dough was very sticky and biscuit-like, and the muffins were a bit biscuit-like as well. They seemed dry but weren't that bad once you bit into them. It helps that we ate them hot from the oven. They were good but not wonderful.

Andy said he was expecting them to be dry, but they kept his mouth moist :)

Chris thought they tasted like Capt. Crunch cereal.

I think everyone enjoyed the midweek treat!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

No-TV Tuesday

Without a doubt, Brad's Midwestern favorite is noodles and mashed potatoes. He couldn't get enough of it on our summer vacation. Santa brought him a bag of homestyle noodles, and I decided that No-TV Tuesday was the perfect day to try my own version.

Boy, was he a happy guy this evening!
I destroyed the kitchen (I was also making a second dinner for later in the week. That recipe to come!!) with pots and pans and cutting boards and cookie sheets and colanders and spoons and knives and.... But it was worth it! We dined on corn, mashed potatoes, gravy, thick noodles and shrimp - yummy! And there were leftovers to box up and put in the freezer for quick lunches. Yippee!

After cleaning up from dinner, I boxed up the rest of my winter decorations and brought out Valentine's Day!
Yes, I do have decorations for every occasion. Luckily, I have a large garage attic to hold my bins and bins and bins and bins of holiday stuff.
Now I'm going to take my tea and get into bed with my book :)

Learn, Dream, Live, Run

I'm thinking about signing up to be a Running Buddy for Girls on the Run, a "life-changing, character development program for 3rd - 5th grade girls in the Portland Metro area."

The Web site says they "use exercise, positive reinforcement, and encouraging role models to provide girls with the confidence they need in those critical pre-teen years. Each ninety-minute lesson combines running and walking games with discussions about various life skills, including healthy eating, leadership, setting goals and cooperation."

Running Buddies work with the girls on a practice 5K run/walk and then again at a real 5K - the Portland Starlight Run in June. When we did the race last year, we saw tons of girls on the run in their matching T-shirts. It was really cool!

My cousins have done it. Kayla's even in one of the pictures on the GOTR Web site:
Anyone else out there want to join me? OR do you have a girl in your life who could benefit from GOTR? Check it out!


The news

(Thanks for the funny, Mom!)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Muffin Monday: Blueberry Sour Cream

Co-worker Andy was out last week to celebrate the life of his grandfather. We missed him lots in CE2, but we were glad he was able to be with family in Ohio. Sue thought I should make him blueberry muffins (his favorite!) for his return today - to help ease his transition ;)

Blueberry Sour Cream Muffins

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, grease or line muffin tin.

1 c fresh or frozen blueberries (I had some in the freezer)
2 T flour
1/4 c butter
3/4 c sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 c flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
3/4 c sour cream
1/2 t vanilla

1. Combine blueberries and 2 T flour. Toss to coat well and then set aside.

2. Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and beat well.

3. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the creamed mixture, alternately with the sour cream. Mix well and then add the vanilla and blueberries.

4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin. Bake for about 15 minutes.

We ate these straight from the oven and they were excellent! Andy immediately ate two, saying they were the best muffins I'd ever made. The students also loved them.

I doubled the recipe and it easily made two dozen. The ingredients were simple and the instructions were easy. Perfect.

I did pull them out before the tops were golden because the bottoms were getting a little dark. But they were cooked all the way through.

Make these today for your afternoon treat :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

Live together as brothers

This cartoon was in yesterday's Tigard Times. I love it.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cruising right along

I set a 2011 goal of reading more and I've already finished my second book of the year and gotten a good start on my third!
Michael Connelly writes a great murder mystery. I love to follow along as the LAPD detectives solve the case. They are quick, entertaining reads. Want to borrow one? I have almost all his novels :)

** Do you have a favorite author? What kind of book do you like to read?? **

No-TV Tuesday

I know it's already Thursday, but I still have stuff to report about this week's No-TV Tuesday!

I came home Tuesday after hitting Bi-Mart and Winco and immediately turned on the TV while I checked e-mail. OOPS! As soon as I realized, I flipped it off. Then I got to work on some blogging, finally posting pictures and trip reports from our Sunriver weekend and skiing to Paulina Lake and snowshoeing up Vista Butte.

I put iTunes on shuffle and cranked it so I could hear it in the kitchen and got to work on this:
I read Food Day while starving for lunch and found a couple recipes I wanted to try ASAP: spinach and cheddar strata and potato and zucchini hash. We had soup and panini for dinner Tuesday and I saved the breakfast dishes for Wednesday.

Spinach and Cheddar Strata
(adapted from Food Day)

1 t olive oil
a couple big handfuls of fresh spinach
3 c day-old bread cubes (I used leftover whole wheat bread)
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1 c whole milk (I used half-and-half because I had some left over in the fridge)
1 1/4 c shredded cheddar (I finished off a loaf and then filled in with pepper jack)
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
I cubed the bread and threw it in the oven to dry out while I prepared the rest of the dish.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add spinach and cook, stirring constantly until wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a colander and drain, pressing with a rubber spatula to release as much liquid as possible.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and 3/4 c cheese. Season with 1/2 t salt and 1/4 t pepper.

Put bread cubes in 8 x 8 pan. Add spinach. Pour on egg mixture and top with remaining cheese.

Bake 30-35 minutes.

Because we were having panini for dinner, I let this cool and popped it in the fridge for Wednesday. Then yesterday we sliced it up and microwaved it - turned out perfect.

I was glad I used the pepper jack - it added a little extra flavor that was yummy. Brad thought it would have been good to add a can of chilies to the entire strata. And while I'm not a meat eater, I could imagine it would be yummy to add some crumbled bacon or sausage pieces. I might try that next time with some Morningstar meat.


Potato and Zucchini Hash
(adapted from Food Day)

5 or 6 medium/large red potatoes, cubed
2 T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
salt & pepper
1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced

Microwave potato cubes until soft.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until potatoes are almost cooled through and golden.

Add zucchini, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until zucchini is tender and potatoes are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.

This was quick and easy and made a great side to our strata. I was really pleased with this simple dinner that gave us leftovers for today!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Muffin Wednesday: Apple, Date, Oatmeal

Today's treat is Apple Date Oatmeal Muffins. I doubled the recipe and made two-dozen small muffins.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line or grease muffin tin.

2/3 c + 2 T quick oats
1 t packed brown sugar
1/4 t cinnamon
1 c - 1 T flour
2 T sugar
2 t baking powder
1 T orange zest
1/2 c orange juice
1 egg
1/4 c margarine, melted
1 small apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
8 dates, pitted and chopped

1. In a small skillet, cook 1/3 c oats over medium heat for about 4 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon and brown sugar. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine remaining oats, flour, sugar and baking powder. Make a well in the center.

3. In another bowl, combine zest, juice, egg and margarine. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Fold in apple and dates.

4. Spoon batter into prepared tin, filling two-thirds full. Sprinkle with topping and press lightly with the back of a spoon. Bake for 20-25 minutes.


I enjoyed making this recipe - it was a little more involved but nothing too difficult. It didn't take too long to whip it up in the CE2 kitchen. I thought they were quite tasty - very moist because of the apples.

Besides one very picky eater, all the CE2 students gobbled them up - most eating more than one.

Success :)

Vista Butte (January 2011)

Because the snow wasn't stellar during our Sunriver weekend, we decided to borrow Kari and Vicki's snowshoes and hoof it to the top of Vista Butte (just east of Mount Bachelor and Tumalo Mountain) for views described as "stunning".

Clear skies were above us as we started out on the trail, which began very flat, paralleling the highway. We started seeing snowflakes falling from the blue sky and noticed storm clouds approaching from the west. We knew they were coming our way, and we hoped to beat the system so we'd have some views from the top.

The trail was circuitous, though well traveled and easy to follow. I made some snow monsters along the way:
The top was a beautiful flat spot with 360-degree views - normally. We could see far to the east:
But nothing to the west (where ALL the mountain are):
The cold winds were whipping on top of the butte, and I mildly froze while Brad took more pictures.

Then he decided to leap off the cornice and into the soft snow below while I took action shots:
Different cornice:
Getting a running start:
The happy couple:
It was a great, achievable trail (about 4.5 miles) that we would definitely do again - on a clear day. We'd also like to try it in the summer. I'm sure the views are amazing.