Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Quick Avgolemono, Orzo and Chicken Soup

This soup called Avgolemono (ahv-goh-LEH-moh-noh) is a tangy Greek soup that combines chicken broth, eggs, and lemon juice.  I got the recipe from the Cooking Light Magazine January 2006 issue.  I made it today and it meets with my son's approval.  It can be served with Ricotta Garlic Pita Wedges and a Greek Salad.  You can also use rice if you don't have orzo.

Quick Avgolemono, Orzo and Chicken Soup



Ingredients:

  • 6 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • large eggs
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

Preparation:

  • Bring broth and dill to a boil in a large saucepan. Add orzo. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until orzo is slightly tender. Remove from heat.
  • Place eggs and juice in a blender; process until smooth. Remove 1 cup broth from pan with a ladle, making sure to leave out orzo. With blender on, slowly add broth; process until smooth.
  • Add carrot, salt, pepper, and chicken to pan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, and cook 5 minutes or until chicken and orzo are done. Reduce heat to low. Slowly stir in egg mixture; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly (do not boil).

RICOTTA GARLIC PITA WEDGES

Preheat broiler. Combine 1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and 1 minced garlic clove in a small bowl. Place 8 pita wedges on a baking sheet; broil 2 minutes until toasted. Top each wedge with 4 teaspoons ricotta mixture. Broil 1 minute or until cheese is lightly browned.

Enjoy!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Not a Hurricane - A Margarita


Hurricane Irene just blew through Maryland on Saturday night into Sunday morning.  It was scary listening to the wind howling and wondering what type of oz we would wake up to on Sunday.  All in all, we were very lucky.  We had electricity throughout the whole event but I found out that many of my friends had to endure a day and a half without any.  We had no cable or Internet through Monday afternoon but really it wasn't that bad.  I took my son to Panera Bread to have breakfast and get online.  That was where we saw how many others were without electricity and/or Internet service.  I felt so bad that I called my sister to ask her if we could go over there to use her Internet service.  She said sure. I gave our outlets at Panera over to two nice ladies who looked like they really needed an Internet fix.  Actually, I think they needed to do some real work.  It made me feel better to give our seats up to them.  I guess the worst thing about Hurricane Irene for us was that one of our trees broke in half (almost).  We  had tree limbs and branches covering our driveway.  I have to thank my nephew for coming out to "save" us.  He cut up the tree and we hauled the branches out to the back of our house where we have a mini forest anyway!  It all worked out just fine.  Thanks Steve, Laura and Henry!  We also enjoyed a delicious dinner of grilled steak, broccoli and rice at their house last night.

Cleaning up the aftermath of Irene

More Clean Up Needed

Bradford Pear - Buh Bye!

Broken Bradford Pear Tree Thanks to Hurricane Irene

I really wanted to make Hurricanes in honor of Hurricane Irene but I did not have any passion fruit syrup.  Here is the recipe that I found for the "Original" Hurricane Cocktail.   The legendary Pat O’Brien’s Bar in the French Quarter, New Orleans is where the Hurricane is said to have originated. Pat O'Brien's Bar opened its doors on December 3, 1933, two days before the end of Prohibition (well, ya had to have a few days to get ready).  Sadly, I have read that the Hurricane Cocktail that is currently served at Pat O'Brien's Bar in NOLA is no longer made with the original recipe.  It is said to be an overly sweet concoction now.  So, if you want a "real" hurricane you will have to make it yourself with this recipe.



Hurricane
4 oz Dark Rum
2 oz Lemon Juice
2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
Shake with ice and strain into a hurricane glass (or in its absence a pint glass will do) filled half-way with ice.  Garnish with orange slices and a cherry with stem.


Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Indian Dinner

I have been wanting to make tandoori chicken for a long time.  If finally made it for dinner tonight.  It was great. Definitely worth the wait.  I know that I can't make "true" tandoori chicken because I don't have a clay tandoori oven but this was truly yummy and easy to make.  I combined two recipes and the chicken definitely reminded me of the tandoori chicken I ate in an Indian restaurant.  I also made Basmati rice with carrots and golden raisins and a cucumber salad.  I was thinking of making a dessert out of the Naan bread but I didn't do it.  Naan is supposed to be good for breakfast dipped in egg sort of like French toast.  I definitely want to try that.


Tandoori Chicken
Serves 4
1 cup plain low fat yogurt
1-1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp each paprika, garam masala and minced garlic
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp kosher salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 5 oz each)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or mint

1.       Mix yogurt, ginger, paprika, garam masala, garlic, salt, chili powder, cumin, lemon juice and tomato past (if using) in a medium bowl until blended. 
2.       Scrape ¾ cup of yogurt mixture into a 1-gallon zip top bag.  Add chicken; seal bag and turn to coat.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Stir cilantro into remaining yogurt mixture and set aside for serving.
3.       Meanwhile, heat broiler and line a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick foil.
4.       Remove chicken from bag and place on prepared pan (discard bag and its contents).  Broil 10 to 12 minutes, turning once,, until cooked through.
5.       Place chicken on serving plates and drizzle with reserved yogurt mixture.

Steps in Cooking Basmati Rice

Stove-Top Method:
  1. Put the Basmati Rice into a medium saucepan. Rinse the Basmati rice with cold water thoroughly before cooking, because there is so much starch clinging to its grains. Wash two to three times with your hands.
  2. Drain the water again and then fill with fresh water The quantity of water should be either be :1 cup of rice and 1 1/2 cups water to boil if you want firm rice,Add the correct amount of water and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to a boil.
  3. Make sure you cook it in a heavy pot and do not disturb the rice or take a peek while its in the middle of cooking.
  4. When it boils, lower the heat, simmer for 12 - 14 minutes before turning off the heat.
  5. Remove from heat and stand covered, for another 5-10 minutes. until you're ready to serve. The rice should have absorbed all the water and will just need fluffing up with a spoon.
Add a handful of carrots and golden raisins to the water before it boils.

Adrienne’s Cucumber Salad
Serves 8

Ingredients:

4 cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
1 cup white vinegar
½ cup water
¾ cup  white sugar
1 tablespoon dried dill, or to taste

Directions:

1.        Toss together the cucumbers and onions in a large bowl. 
2.       Combine the vinegar, water and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil and pour over the cucumber and onions.
3.       Stir in dill, cover and refrigerate until cold.  This salad can be served at room temperature but be sure to allow the cucumbers to marinate for at least 1 hour.


 Enjoy!  

Monday, August 22, 2011

Zucchini Marinara ala Proietti's Restaurant

We just got back from our annual pilgrimage to Rochester, New York to visit my husband's family.  The first thing we did when we got to Rochester was to have dinner at Proietti's Restaurant in Webster.  The best thing about eating there is having the Zucchini Marinara which is a free appetizer they serve year-round.  Proietti's is an awesome restaurant.  Check out the Proietti's Restaurant website if you are planning to visit the Rochester area in the near future.  My husband ordered the Ravioli, I ordered the Chicken Scampi and my son ordered the Gnocchi.  Everything we ordered was swoon-worthy.  Just don't over order.  You will barely be able to finish your meals.  They serve large portions!  We took half our meals back to the room where we were fortunate enough to have a small refrigerator.  Luckily, I found the recipe for the Zucchini Marinara online.  I suppose they don't mind sharing this recipe since it is a free appetizer.  In any case, this zucchini is delicious.


Zucchini Marinara

May be eaten hot or warm, as an appetizer, or over your favorite pasta.
Servings: 4 to 6 Servings
http://www.epicurious.com/rd_images/primaryContent/recipe_detail/rd_buckets_divider.gif
Ingredients:
Approximately 2  Zucchini
4 oz.  100% Olive Oil
1 oz. Sweet Basil
½  teaspoon Black Pepper
1 tablespoon Chicken Base
1 tablespoon Sugar
1-28 oz. Can Whole Peeled Tomatoes (drained & smashed)
1 clove Fresh Garlic chopped


http://www.epicurious.com/rd_images/primaryContent/recipe_detail/rd_buckets_divider.gif
Preparation:
Cut ends off zucchini and discard. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Slice zucchini in pieces approximately 1/4” wide. In a medium size frying pan, combine all of the ingredients except the tomatoes.  Saute’ on medium high heat until the zucchini starts to soften, approximately 5 to 6 minutes, mixing often.   Add the tomatoes and cook an additional 20 minutes mixing often, being careful not to over-cook.  If desired you may skim off any excess oil.

Enjoy!



Saturday, August 13, 2011

Chicken Cordon Bleu Burgers

This is a recipe from Rachael Ray.  I don't believe she eats this stuff.  These burgers are huge!  I ate half of one and was stuffed.  They are tasty, though.  The burgers made my son happy because although he likes burgers he only prefers to eat chicken.  I would recommend making them much smaller. If you are going to make them this big then cook them a lot longer than she recommends.  I cooked them about 8 minutes on each side.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Burgers
by Rachael Ray

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 slices Canadian bacon
2 pounds ground chicken breast
2 teaspoons sweet paprika, eyeball it in your palm
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
2 teaspoons grill seasoning blend (recommended:  Montreal Steak Seasoning) or salt and pepper
1 shallot, finely chopped
4 deli slices Swiss Cheese
2/3 cup mayonnaise or reduced fat mayonnaise, eyeball it
3 rounded tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons freshly chopped tarragon leaves, 4 sprigs
4 kaiser rolls or sandwich size sour dough English muffins, split and toasted
8 leaves leaf lettuce
1 vine ripened tomato, thinly sliced

Directions:

Preheat grill pan, nonstick griddle, large nonstick skillet or table top electric grill to medium heat.

Add 2 tablespoons of oil and Canadian bacon. Warm bacon and caramelize it at edges.  About 1 to 2 minutes on each side.  Remove to a piece of foil.  Fold over loosely to keep warm.  {This keeps the Canadian bacon from getting dried out.}

Combine chicken, paprika, poultry seasoning, grill seasoning, and shallot.  Score meat with the side of your hand to separate into 4 equal amounts.  Make 4 large patties.  {Or make 8 smaller ones.}  3/4 to 1 inch thick.  Drizzle patties with oil and place on hot grill pan, griddle or in skillet. Cook 5 minutes on each side, until chicken is cooked through.

Top patties with reserved cooked Canadian bacon and Swiss cheese. Fold each slice of cheese in  half to fit the burger.  Cover loosely with foil.  Turn off pan and let cheese melt, 2 minutes.

Combine mayonnaise, mustard, and tarragon.  Slather bun tops or English muffin tops with sauce.  Place Cordon Bleu burgers on bun bottoms and top with lettuce and tomato.  Put bun or muffin tops in place.  Serve with oven fries.  {I served with sweet potato waffle fries.}

Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lemon Ricotta Linguine with Garlic and Zucchini

This is another recipe that I have been looking at for a long time but have only just made it today.  I adjusted the amounts to make a larger portion.   It is originally from Food 52 website and I combined that recipe with one I found in Cooking Light Magazine's August issue.

Lemon Ricotta  Pasta with Garlic and Zucchini
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

1 16 oz box of linguine
1 cup fresh ricotta, preferably homemade (see recipe below)
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3 small yellow squash, chopped
2 small zucchini, chopped
zest of 2 lemons
1-1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, to taste
1/2 cup fat-free, low sodium chicken broth
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
black pepper

Directions:

1.  Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente and drain.

2.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and garlic.  Gently cook the garlic until it is starting to turn golden.  Add squash, zucchini, and red pepper flakes to pan; saute 1 minute.  Add broth and pasta to pan, cook for 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, tossing to combine.

3.  Add the ricotta, lemon zest, and remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.   If pasta needs more moisture, add additional chicken broth.  Add black pepper to taste.  Dig in.

Homemade Ricotta

2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons cider vinegar

1.  Combine ingredients in a microwave safe 1-quart liquid measuring cup; microwave on HIGH for 4 minutes.

2.  Stir to form small curds.

3.  Strain through a sieve lined with a double layer of cheesecloth; let stand for 5 minutes.

4.  Discard liquid.

5.  Scrape cheese mixture into a small bowl; stir in rind and 1/4 teaspoon salt.


Enjoy!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze

I can't believe that I am posting ANOTHER banana bread recipe but I do often have bananas that get over-ripe in my house.  If I buy fruit, it goes bad but the snacks never do.  Oh well...  This recipe turned out really yummy.  This banana bread is very summery and tropical with the coconut and the lime.


Believe it or not, I had to leave the bread in the oven for an extra half hour beyond the recommended baking time.  You would think that after I have baked about 30 or more banana breads in my oven I would have figured that out.  But I never thought that I would have to bake anything that much longer than the recipe states.  I always wondered why my banana bread would sink.  Obviously, I didn't bake it long enough!   

Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened (1/2 stick)
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt or sour cream
3 tablespoons dark rum or apple juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut
1 tablespoon coconut
Cooking spray

Glaze:

1 tablespoon coconut
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice

Preparation:
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Lightly spoon the flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk to combine.
  • Place granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, yogurt, rum, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Stir in 1/2 cup coconut.
  • Spoon batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon coconut. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan.
  • Combine powdered sugar and juice, stirring with a whisk; drizzle over warm bread. Cool bread completely on wire rack.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Trip to Glacier National Park, Montana



I wasn't planning to post this but both my husband and my son asked me to post it.  I was honest so some of the things that happened are a bit embarrassing for me mostly...  

Memories from Trip to Montana (Glacier National Park)

Friday, July 15, 2011 – we left for the airport at around noon on Friday.  The first funny thing that happened was that after I went through security at BWI, when I went to put my sneakers back on, I noticed that the sole of my right sneaker was separated from the shoe.  I had to walk around BWI with my right sneaker flapping.  Once we got to Denver where we had a four plus hour lay-over, we found out that they had a Croc Store at the airport.  I bought a pair of Crocs really quickly.  I promptly threw out the old sneakers.  Unfortunately, in my excitement to buy the new Crocs, I left my carry-on bag at the Croc Store.  I did not realize I left it until we were at a French restaurant in the airport getting ready to be seated.  We had to run back to the Croc store and fortunately the bag was still sitting where I left it!   After dinner at the French restaurant, we had to hang out and kill time while waiting for our flight to Spokane, Washington.  Unfortunately, the weather was bad that night.  We sat near some windows and watched the rain and lightening.  Our flight to Spokane was delayed not so much due to the weather but because our flight crew was stuck in San Francisco for reasons unknown.  We were really worried that we would not be able to pick up our rental car in Spokane because the rental companies all closed at Midnight.  We arrived in Spokane at 11:45 pm and remembered that the Rental car agency close at Midnight!  B ran over to the National counter and got our car without a hitch. D and I went to the baggage claim to get our bags.  It was funny but the bags took so long to come out that B had already finished with getting the car before any of the bags came off the conveyor belt.  We spent that night at a Residence Inn in Spokane. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011 – we woke up on Saturday morning and promptly went downstairs to eat a nice complimentary breakfast at the Residence Inn.  After breakfast we took off for the 5 hour drive to our hotel in Kalispell, Montana.  We drove through beautiful Idaho and into amazing Montana.  We noticed on our drive that there were Espresso places on every block or maybe two per block.  It was funny.  They looked like the snowball stands we have in Maryland.  Just little stand-alone shacks with names like “Cowgirl Coffee”, etc.   That afternoon we made it to the National Bison Range Wildlife Refuge in Moiese, Montana.  The funny thing that happened here was in the parking lot I overheard two groups of tourists talking about how they had come all the way from Maryland.  The one group said they drove here a few weeks ago.  Of course, I chimed in to say that we were also from Maryland.  It was quite a week for Maryland tourists in Montana.  I have always wanted to see bison but when we got close to them I got pretty nervous because I read in the National Bison Reserve Wildlife Refuge (NBRWR) brochure that they were in mating season from mid-July so the Bison bulls are very irritable.  They will charge at a drop of a hat according to the brochure.  I wanted B to keep driving but we got stuck a few times with a large bull bison fairly close to our car.  Fortunately, nothing bad happened.  We also saw many white-tail deer and antelopes.  The best part was when we saw an antelope hanging out and eating when he saw another antelope and started chasing her (we guess) up a hill.  They did a funny zigzag run/chase up the hill.  It was quite amazing to watch.   We really wanted to see an elk but we didn’t.   After we left the Bison Range, we stopped at a small shop outside and bought some buffalo jerky and huckleberry jam, huckleberry gummies, huckleberry wine, huckleberry soda (you get the idea).  All of the huckleberry items were delicious.  D absolutely loved the buffalo jerky.  We drove through a town called Polson and ate dinner at a restaurant called 4B’s.  That restaurant is where we learned from our waitress that there were lots of grizzly bears around and that huckleberries are very popular in Montana.  I ate a piece of huckleberry pie that night.  The funniest thing that happened was when we were getting close to the hotel, B asked me for the address.  I looked at the paper B had printed out with the information about the hotel.  I gave him what I thought was the address.  We drove and drove and drove when finally B started wondering aloud about how could a hotel be on a dirt road?  We realized at that point that we were driving directly to the travel agent’s house!  I had picked up the wrong address from the paperwork.  We got a good laugh out of that (mostly at my expense).  Once we arrived at our hotel (the La Quinta in Kalispell) at round 11:30 pm.   The room was fine.  It had a pull-out couch in the living room for D so he had his own privacy.  The negative thing about it was that the stove burner pans in the kitchenette were disgustingly dirty.  I pulled them out and put them on the counter for cleaning.  Yuck! 

one of the many Espresso stands


Sunday, July 17, 2011 – on Sunday morning we ate a complimentary breakfast at the La Quinta which was good but not as good as the one at the Residence Inn.  Although, they had two waffle machines instead of one which was nice.  We took our first drive up to Glacier National Park (GNP) to get our $25.00 one week entry ticket to the park.  I thought that was very inexpensive for such a wonderful week of fun.  B decided that he wanted to drive up to Bowman Lake which is one of the many glacial lakes in GNP.  We figured it would be a fairly long drive but neither of us realized it would be a challenging drive, too.  We drove through Apgar and had some huckleberry ice cream, huckleberry lemonade and other snacks.  Our drive to Bowman Lake took us onto Outside Fork Road through a small town called Polebridge.  We did not realize that Polebridge is actually one of the main entrances to the park.  They have a store that we visited.  We bought a few snacks and things.  As we finally arrived at the lake, we saw how beautiful it was.  We decided to take a short walk through some trees to get to the lake.  During that short walk I was fairly nervous that we would encounter a bear (black, brown, grizzly or whatever) but we did not see any wildlife.  Bowman Lake is a glacial lake (of course).  It is surrounded by snow capped mountains.  The water was so clear and clean that D decided to go into the water.   He went in a bit deeper than he had planned and his new Ipod Touch was in his pocket.  Thankfully the Ipod did not get wet! A few days later I was talking to a Park Ranger who told me that there are bears near Bowman Lake!  That evening we ate dinner at a very nice restaurant called Truby’s.  It is at Meadow Lake Resort and Golf Course in Columbia Falls, Montana.  We had a bit of trouble finding the restaurant due to our GPS being fairly outdated.  This became a running theme throughout our trip.  That night D and I went for a swim in the pool.  The pool was super cold so we spent some time in the hot tub.  We met a family from North Dakota.  They told us that they had taken a hike through the park on a trail called Avalanche Trail and walked up to see Avalanche Lake.  They were sad that they did not see any bears because the trail was too populated.  It sounded like a nice hike for us.   You will read more about this on Thursday. 
Bowman Lake


Monday, July 18, 2011 – we drove around the park to the east side and ate breakfast at The Park Café which is in St. Mary’s Montana near the entrance to the Park.  They have amazing pie and the biggest pancakes I have ever seen!   B tried the pecan pie and I tried the razzleberry pie.  D is not a fan of pie so he did not have any.  Our waitress told us that the winter in St. Mary’s, MT was awful and at one point she was stranded in her house for two solid weeks!   After breakfast we got on the Going to the Sun Road and drove 52 miles across the park to see all the sites.  We entered GNP through the St. Mary’s Park Entrance.  We saw glaciers, trees and zounds of waterfalls.  They had just opened the road a few days before we got there.  It got pretty chilly up at Logan’s Run.  We saw a few people cross-country skiing in shorts up there.   We all agreed it the scenery was the best we have ever seen, including better than the Grand Canyon and Sedona formations.  After leaving the park, D wanted to get a splash ball and some goggles for the pool so we stopped at Walmart.  We ate dinner at a chain restaurant called HuHot Mongolian Grill in Kalispell, MT.  It was great.  After dinner, D and I took another swim in the cold pool and warmed up in the hot tub. 
Breakfast at the Park Cafe


Tuesday, July 19, 2011— we took a Scenic Boat Tour on Flathead Lake.  It was called “The Far West Boat Tours”.  The GPS did a number on us again while we were trying to find the Lakeside Marina.  The guy who was selling tickets was not in the booth when we finally got there.  When he arrived, he promptly got on the phone and spent the next 10 or 15 minutes talking and ignoring us while we tried to get his attention.   The line for tickets behind us kept growing.  He finally got off the phone and we got our receipt in time for the boat tour.  Later they came around to collect the hard tickets and we didn’t have them.  B said that we did not get our tickets because I was making mean comments about the guy but it wasn’t true.  We just did not go through the room where they were giving out the tickets.   The cruise took about an hour and forty-five minutes.  The lake was beautiful.  We chatted much of the time with a guy from Alaska who told us he was an anthropologist and a professor at University of Anchorage.  He was very interesting.  He guessed that D was Italian and that he plays an instrument and plays soccer.  When I asked him how he knew that he said, "I'm an anthropologist." So I guess that explains everything...  I also talked with a very nice farming couple from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  The guide pointed out the CEO of Starbucks house on the lake with a funicular down to their boat dock.  Nice.  After a bit, I started looking at the scenery around the lake which was amazing.  As I stared out at the lake I said to no one in particular, “If this was New York City we could be watching a body float by” after I saw a few logs floating by.  The next morning I read where a guy had drowned in that very lake on Saturday and his body had not yet been found.  Wouldn’t that have been ironic if we did actually see his body float by?   Afterwards, we went to the Big Sky Water Park in Columbia Falls.  There was quite a storm that day.  Luckily, we were able to wait out the storm and went into the park.  Most the patrons left because of the storm so we had the place pretty much to ourselves.  D went down the slides around 11 times in one hour!  That night we ate at Café Max Soup Company.  D ordered Elk and Buffalo Chili.  Unfortunately, he could not eat much of it because it made his mouth itchy.  We figured it had too much soy filler in the meat.  That night we all went back for a swim and hot tub in the evening.  Something I have not mentioned but was very obvious to us:  the sun does not go down in that part of Montana until after 10:00 pm.  We were definitely burning the candle at both ends by staying up late and getting up early each day.
Funicular on Flathead Lake


Wednesday, July 20, 2011 – on Wednesday we drove to the park again.  B wanted to drive Going-to-the-Sun road from the other direction.  It wasn’t as crowded and the construction traffic was lighter probably because we left earlier than on Monday.  The drive was even more beautiful and impressive than the east from west drive we did on Monday.  The waterfalls were much more visible.   We drove all the way to Two Medicine today in the hopes of taking a cruise around the lake.  The weather was rainy and cold.  The Two Medicine cruise was full so they put us on a waiting list.  The boat was out of order so all the people had to get off the boat until it was fixed.  We gave up on the idea of taking a cruise so we went into the camp store.  D had a hot dog and we all had a hot drink before we left to drive back to Kalispell. We saw a moose today on our drive back.  B was driving back on the road around the park when he said that he thought he had seen a moose.  Both D and I looked into the field and saw it too.  We drove back to see it again but sadly by the time we got back the moose was gone!   On this long drive we also saw a cow sitting on the outside of a fence and it looked like she was “talking” to another cow on the inside of the fence.   Dinner that night was at a restaurant called Blue Canyon.  The restaurant is at a hotel.  We had big problems finding the restaurant with our GPS.  We had called the restaurant and they told us to make a right at the intersection when the restaurant was actually to the left.  It was ridiculous but it took us a long time to find the restaurant.  We still got their before the restaurant opened.  We got a table directly under a huge Elk head that was on the wall.  It was kind of creepy.  The food was really good.  Their special was homemade potato chips with a blue cheese sauce that was so yummy!  We all enjoyed our meals at the Blue Canyon.  Then B and I went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 2 while D got to spend time on his computer to play some games.

Shellfish Couscous

Blue Cheese Crusted Flat Iron Steak

Thursday, July 21, 2011 -- we didn’t eat much for breakfast because we thought it would not be a very strenuous day.  We were planning to drive to Apgar and take a shuttle to Avalanche Trail.  There is a very easy trail called Trail of the Cedars that is wheelchair accessible and less than a mile long.  There is also a trail that you can take up to Avalanche Lake which is 2.1 miles each way. At the last minute, we decided to take on the challenge of hiking up to Avalanche Lake.   It sounded very easy.  We had talked to a family that did the hike on Sunday.  They had said it was very busy trail so no bears were found around there.  I read in the GNP literature that just because a trail is very busy it doesn’t mean you won’t see bears or other animals.  That got me a bit worried.  Also, we noted that the last shuttle from Avalanche back to Apgar was at around 6:45 pm.  We didn’t think that would be a big deal because when we decided to do the trail it was quarter to 2:00 pm.  The trail up to the lake was a lot steeper and harder than we thought it would be.  There were really quite a lot of people on the trail.  The views were beautiful. We could see the Avalanche River and a few waterfalls and mountains around us.  We knew that the lake was 2.1 miles away but we didn’t realize how hard the trail would be.  Luckily, when we got close we met a guy who told us just how close we were and not to give up because the lake is beautiful and worth the walk.  We finally made it up to the lake.  Once we got there, we enjoyed the view and relaxed a bit.  We figured that the walk back wouldn’t be as hard because it would be mostly downhill.  It was still pretty hard but B took his time.  I started to get nervous because it was getting late.  B told me to go ahead because I was not 100% sure what time the last shuttle was going to leave.  I started to speed up and go off on my own.  D had gone ahead and was sitting by the side of the trail waiting.  I saw him and asked if he was waiting for B – he said “no”.  He did wind up waiting and keeping B company as he slowly completed the hike back.   I started to take off and go as fast as I could – I was nervous about missing the shuttle and seeing bears!  I never saw any bears but I saw a few deer.  Once I got back to the Trail of Cedars I ran up to a woman who I thought was a Park Ranger. I asked her what time the last shuttle was and she said 5 pm.  I freaked because it was 5:20 pm at that point.  I ran up to where the bus stop was and I saw a shuttle there.  I asked around and read the sign.  I relaxed when I realized that the woman I had talked to was only a volunteer and she was talking about the time of the last shuttle was 5 pm when the road was closed due to snow but now the last shuttle back was at 6:45 pm (which is what I thought).  Bill and David came off the trail about 40 minutes later.  I made it back from the lake in about 1 hour and five minutes as opposed to almost 2 hours getting up there.  We had taken pictures and stopped quite a bit on the way up but still…  There were so many downed trees on the trail that B asked a ranger we saw on the trail about it.  The ranger told B that there was a big storm over the winter and the Chinook winds took the trees down.  My body was extremely achy by the time we got back to Apgar.  D (it was his night to choose) had a hard time deciding where to eat dinner that night.  We were really starving after our hike and not eating breakfast or lunch.  D finally decided to eat at Wasabi which is a nice Japanese Sushi place in Whitefish.  We called them and they were full with reservations; their first reservation was 8:45 p.m.  So instead we went to a place called Nickel Charlie’s in Kalispell which is in a casino.  I forgot to mention that we saw so many little casinos.  There were at least one or two casinos on each block.  The dinner at Nickel Charlie's was really good.  We over-ordered but it was alright since we had a refrigerator in our room.  D and I also took our last swim at the hotel pool that night and warmed up in the hot tub once again. 


Friday, July 22, 2011 -- we ate breakfast at a place called The Rack Shack for the second time this week.  It is a really great place to eat. Surprisingly, we saw an accident right in front of the restaurant.  Sadly, a guy on oxygen was driving a car that rear-ended a car that looked like it had just stopped in the middle of Rt. 93.  The bad part was there is a turning lane but the woman driving did not use the turning lane.  I wonder why she stopped short that way?  The favorite item for our family on the Rack Shack breakfast menu was Lemon Ricotta Pancakes.    The funny thing was that I had ordered the pancakes a few days before and the boys’ were about twice the size of the ones that I ordered.  Another funny thing was that the menu said that the pancakes came with strawberries but when I ordered them they came with raspberry jam on top and when B and D ordered them the pancakes came with blueberry syrup.  Weird.  After breakfast we drove over to see some bears!  We hadn’t seen any during the entire week so we paid $22 to drive through the Great Bear Adventure.  We saw 4 black bears in captivity.  One of the bears actually crossed the road almost right in front of us.  It was very cool.  After driving through the Great Bear Adventure a few times we decided to drive up to Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada.  The drive was pretty.  It took about 2 hours to get up there.  We decided to eat dinner in Cranbrook.  The first thing we saw when we got into the town was a Tim Horton’s so we used the bathrooms there.  Of course, we had to sample the donuts especially since D had never tried one that he could recall.  We had a really hard time finding a restaurant in Cranbrook.  The problems involved our GPS that hadn’t been updated and the bad economy.  Most of the restaurants we found on the GPS were either gone or replaced by other restaurants.  We wound up at a place called East Side Mario’s.  We had been looking for Boston Pizza.  We drove past Boston Pizza on our way out of East Side Mario’s.  East Side Mario’s had pretty good food. I would say it was sort of like a cross between Olive Garden and Pizza Hut.  The tomato sauce on my spaghetti was odd but not terrible.  I was so hungry I did not care.  On the way home, we drove through a big storm.  After the storm passed, we saw a great double rainbow.  It was amazing!  We drove back to the USA through Eureka.  B wanted to see the rodeo so we got our tickets and went into the rodeo.  The funny thing was I thought the rodeo was indoors.  B and D thought that was hysterical.  Then I saw 3 people riding what I thought were lawn mowers but they were actually riding on wheelchairs.  B and D thought that my mistake was a scream.  D and I did not feel very comfortable at the rodeo but we stayed about an hour.  We saw the bareback riders, bronco riders, calf roping, and barrel racing.   There was a weird clown type guy who was part of the show.  I was worried he would come over and start giving us a hard time but he never did.  We left the rodeo after an hour and went back to the hotel to get ready to leave for home.  It was getting close to the end of our journey. 
Black Bear at The Great Bear Adventure

Double Rainbow

Rodeo in Eureka, MT


Saturday, July 23, 2011 – Saturday morning B got up at the ungodly hour of 3:30 am!  I stayed in bed as long as possible and so did D.   In the few minutes I had to get ready to go, I saw B’s Park Café Mug (I thought) on the counter.  I wrapped it up and packed it in B’s carry-on bag.  It turned out that he had already packed his mug and I had wrapped up a mug from the hotel room.   I also managed to put B’s contacts in my eyes by mistake.  Remember, I was very tired by then!  We managed to get out of the hotel only about 20 minutes later than B wanted us to leave.  We had that 5 hour drive ahead of us.  We had almost reached Idaho when we needed to take a “rest stop” and fortunately there was one available right off the highway.  When we went into the restrooms we noticed that coffee and snacks were being served outside.  It was 37 degrees that morning but two ladies from the town of Mullan, Idaho were setting up a table to serve coffee, tea, cookies, lemonade and even dog biscuits for the doggies.  I was very impressed.  They only took donations.  I guess it was mostly for the truck drivers but we were offered coffee, too.  Since we had some extra time, we decided to have breakfast in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.  Again, we had GPS problems but we found a great family restaurant that served only breakfast and lunch called “Jonesy’s”.  We had the best hash browns in Idaho at that breakfast meal!  We made it to the Spokane airport in plenty of time.  There were no problems with our flights but we still made it home to BWI about 15 minutes late.  The worst part was that the plane didn’t land until 12:30 midnight.  By the time we got our bags and drove home it was around 2:30 or 3:00 am.  All-in-all we had a wonderful if tiring vacation in Glacier National Park.
At the Spokane Airport


Sunday, July 24, 2011 – when we finally arrived home at around 2 am on Sunday morning, we noticed indications that the electricity had been off for a short period of time while we were gone.  When I woke up on Sunday, I saw my clock said it was 3:47 pm so I thought we had slept a really long time when in reality it was only around 10:00 am because my clock was not set correctly!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Grilled Chicken with Cherry-Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

This is a recipe that I have been planning to make for several weeks and I finally made it last night.  It is very yummy.  I made it with Sweet Potato French Fries.  It makes a nice quick dinner.  

Grilled Chicken with Cherry-Chipotle Barbecue Sauce
From EatingWell Magazine:  June/July 2006
Recipe by Nancy Baggett
8 servings | Active Time: 30 minutes | Total Time: 2 3/4 hours (including 2 hours marinating time)

Ingredients:
1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) dark sweet cherries, pitted and chopped (see Tips)
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup cherry preserves
1/3 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, (see Note), or more to taste
1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed

Preparation:
  1. Stir cherries, broth, preserves, ketchup, vinegar, chipotle peppers, thyme and allspice in a small deep bowl. Transfer to a shallow nonreactive dish (see Note) large enough to hold chicken. Add chicken and turn to coat well. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  2. Preheat grill to high. Oil the grill rack (see Tip). Remove the chicken from the marinade. Transfer the marinade to a medium skillet.
  3. Bring the marinade to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the sauce is reduced by about half, 12 to 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, reduce the grill heat to medium and grill the chicken until cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, 7 to 9 minutes per side. Let the chicken cool slightly; serve with the sauce.

  • Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 1. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
  • Tips: Be sure to measure frozen cherries while still frozen, then thaw. (Drain juice before using.)
  • To pit a cherry, halve it with a paring knife then pry out the pit with the tip of the knife, or use a cherry pitter.
  • To oil the grill rack, oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.) When grilling delicate foods like tofu and fish, it is helpful to spray the food with cooking spray before placing it on the grill.
  • Notes: Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce are smoked jalapeños packed in a flavorful sauce. Look for the small cans with the Mexican foods in large supermarkets. Once opened, they'll keep up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer.
  • A nonreactive pan—stainless steel, enamel-coated or glass—is best for acidic foods, such as lemon, to prevent the food from reacting with the pan. Reactive pans, such as aluminum and cast-iron, can impart an off color and/or off flavor in acidic foods.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Fresh Raspberry Lemonade

I thought this would be a refreshing change from all the blueberry recipes!

Fresh Raspberry Lemonade
Hands-on Time:  26 min.

3/4 cup sugar
2 cups water, divided
2 cups fresh raspberries
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (about 1 orange)
1-3/4 cups fresh lemon juice (about 13 medium lemons)
16 ounces sparkling water, chilled

1.  Combine sugar and 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil.  Cook 2 minutes, stirring until sugar dissolves.   Cool to room temperature.

2.  Combine remaining 1-1/4 cups water and raspberries in a blender; pulse 10 times or until well blended.  Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a large pitcher; discard solids.  Add orange juice, lemon juice, sparkling water, and cooled syrup to pitcher; stir to combine.  Serve immediately over ice.  Yield:  8 servings (serving size: about 1 cup).

Enjoy!