Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Goldmeyer Hot Springs 2 Day Hike; Dinner Menu: Sour Cream Cheese Puffs, Spicy Shrimp and Spaghetti and a Heath Bar Pound Cake

7 of us started hiking towards Goldmeyer Hot spring in Washington state this past Saturday for a 2 day hike. 1 of the hikers was only hiking part way for the day hike only. Our plan for the hike started out as 5 miles in, set up camp, soak in the natural hot springs, make dinner, play cards and talk, wake up the next morning, re-soak in the hot springs, pack up camp and hike back 5 miles to the vehicles.

Funny how life and nature have a way of their own!A 5 mile section of the road was closed due to road wash-outs just before the hiking trail began. We did not know this since the closure was not posted. Second, if following the closed road all the way to the Goldmeyer Hot springs site, the hike would have been an additional 5 miles. Well, this is a hike and we felt the road would not be as scenic as the trail. Come to find out, again not posted, the trail was about 10 miles long (alone) and washed out by previous ragging rivers from floods in the past! What was suppose to be a leisurely 5 hour hike turned into a 8 hour hike Saturday. The weather WAS perfect for hiking and our scenery provided by nature could not have been any more gorgeous but many of us were carrying a 40 to 45 pound backpack for the first time along with conquering boulders, fallen old growth trees and slippery rivers that had washed through the path. Some of us carried hiking poles; I did not and now know better!We all stayed in good humor and worked to keep each other's focus positive and happy. Our bodies were beyond fatigued but what we saw in our surroundings was awe-inspiring and memories I will keep with me forever! Some of the downed timbers we had to either climb over, under or around were gigantic monuments to nature. Even though we were all grumbling towards the end for each new tree we had to maneuver because of aching muscles, we never lost track of the beauty we were surrounded by.
Some of our bridges were chipped out of these old, amazing trees.When we finally "did" arrive towards the end of our 1st day of hiking (amazing how we all gained our third or fourth wind at this point) we had to scale 3 logs. Where each log ended, the next one began for us to balance on while crossing a river bed.By now, it is evening. We started driving towards our hike at 6:45 in the morning, arrived at a carpool junction by 7:45, started out as a combined group in several cars and arrived at our hiking destination by 9:30 and actually started hiking by 10 a.m. When we arrived at the hot springs, we were look at around 6:15 p.m. All of us pitched together and set up camp first. Then, after checking in, made the last 1/4 mile hike up a steep hillside to get to the hot springs. Without our backpacks, we must have flew up the hill because I honestly do not remember struggling to get to our destination: Sitting in pools of hot water to soak our sorry muscles. The pools were a little smaller then I thought they were going to be but all 3 pools were etched in the rock with one pool actually in a cave setting.The pools are hard to see here but I was getting to tired to take pictures, sorry. Below is the changing area.Next to where we were soaking, there was a steep river/waterfall with huge boulders along the river path and loud, rushing water. This picture is way at the top and to the side of the river. Back at camp on Sunday, we had endured rain overnight and all our belongings were wet. Carrying everything back meant another heavy load because of being soaked. We may have done this hike a little to early in the year.We were not allowed to have a campfire and the only way to cook was by propane heat. Needless to say, Sunday, all of us were pretty cold until we started out hike home. I would also like to add that none of the group had any problem hiking the road back to our vehicles. We still had a 5 hour hike in the pouring rain with our sore muscles lugging heavy backpacks but we knew we were headed HOME! The adventure was amazing and even though we learned what endurance truly was for each of us personally, I still believe we were all happy that we made this trip.
Dinner menus are what help me stay organized in the kitchen. I try to make my menus out the week ahead but leave myself open to try something else if the mood strikes. The mood strikes quite often, which is okay because I just keep my meals in the list and make them as I get to them.
~ Sour Cream Cheese Puffs
Main Course
~ Spicy Shrimp and Spaghetti tossed in minced Garlic and Sweet,Fruity Olive Oil
Tomato and Onion Salad
French Garlic Bread
~ Heath Bar Pound Cake
Sour Cream Cheese Puffs

1 pkg. (8 oz) cream cheese,softened
1 c sour cream
1/3 c finely chopped sweet red pepper
1/4 c finely chopped onion
2 tsp lemon juice
3/4 tsp dill weed
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tubes (12 oz.ea.) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1/4 c minced fresh cilantro
In a small bowl,beat cream cheese,sour cream,red pepper,onion,lemon juice,dill and pepper till blended.
Cut each biscuit in half horizontally;press into greased miniature muffin cups. Place rounded Tbs. of cream cheese mixture in each cup.
Bake at 375 for 14-16 mins. or till golden brown.Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve warm.
Spicy Shrimp and Spaghetti tossed in minced Garlic and Sweet, Fruit Olive Oil
Spicy Shrimp:
2 pounds jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (a couple of handfuls)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
Coarse salt, about 1 teaspoon
2 tablespoons (a couple of generous drizzles) extra-virgin olive oil
Aglio Olio:
1/4 cup (4 turns around the pan in a light stream) extra-virgin olive oil
1 (2-ounce) tin anchovy fillets
6 to 8 large cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley, a couple of handfuls
Coarse salt
1 pound spaghetti, cooked to al dente
Combine shrimp with next 6 ingredients and toss to coat shrimp evenly.
Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium high heat, then add half of the shrimp. Cook shrimp 3 minutes until pink and just firm. Remove shrimp to a warm platter and repeat process with remaining shrimp.
Return pan to heat and reduce heat to medium low. Add 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Add anchovies, garlic, and pepper flakes to oil. Break up anchovies with a wooden spoon until they melt away into the oil and garlic mixture.
Toss spaghetti in the pan with parsley and the garlic oil, then season with a little coarse salt, to your taste. Top servings of garlic and oil spaghetti with spicy shrimp and serve with Tomato and Onion Salad and Crusty Bread.
Cook's Notes: Prepare the shrimp while the pasta is cooking.
Prep your garlic and parsley for aglio olio and set them, as well as drained pasta and remaining ingredients all within arm's reach of your stove top.
The aroma will be intense! Cooked anchovies have a salted-nutty (rather than fishy) taste that compliments the garlic as it sweetens and softens.

Tomato and Onion Salad
5 medium plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, gently seeded, and thinly sliced
1 small white skinned onion, peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (a couple of handfuls)
A generous drizzle extra-virgin olive oil, about 2 tablespoons
Coarse salt and black pepper
Toss the tomatoes and onions with the chopped parsley, oil, salt, and pepper. Let stand while you prepare dinner, about 20 minutes. Re-toss and serve salad with crusty bread for mopping up juices and oil.
Heath Bar Pound Cake
Note: This recipe is delicious but I forgot to take pictures and I feel just terrible about it. I will have to bake this again and come back to post the pictures =o)~!
1 stick butter
4 oz. cream cheese
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 T. vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 heath bar-ground in food processor or blender
¼ cup light brown sugar
In a medium bowl, mix butter, cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla; stir together. Add flour; mix well. Combine ground heath bar with brown sugar. Grease glass loaf dish with butter; coat bottom and sides with sugar mixture. Pour batter into loaf dish; sprinkle with remaining sugar mixture. Bake in preheated 300 degree oven one hour to one hour and ten minutes until knife "just" comes out clean.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Crab Lasagna Rolls baked in Shrimp Alfredo Sauce and Speedy Hazelnut Bundt Cake

The crab Lasagna Rolls baked in Shrimp Alfredo Sauce may not look gorgeous on the plate BUT the flavors meld wonderfully! The Canadian Snow crab used is slightly sweet mixed in with fresh parsley, freshly grated Parmesan and cottage cheese. The Alfredo sauce makes a large amount and the remaining sauce can easily be used for a separate pasta dinner. Fresh Alfredo sauce is worth the effort to make and once you have tasted the difference, your taste buds will never want to go back to store bought.
Buy a loaf of freshly baked French bread, slice the the center horizontally, add a mixture of 1/2 c. butter (melted), 2 T. olive oil, 4 cloves garlic minced, and 1/2 t. kosher salt (all ingredients mixed and left alone for 30 minutes before applying to the bread halves). Wrap in foil and Bake in a 300 degree oven for 20 minutes. Slice and serve with the pasta dinner. Delicious way to sop up the Alfredo sauce!

Crab Lasagna Rolls baked in Shrimp Alfredo Sauce

Crab Lasagna Rolls:
1/2 pound flaked or lump crab meat
4 regular lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup cottage cheese
1 egg
3 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Additional grated Parmesan (optional)

Shrimp Alfredo Sauce:
1 stick butter
2 onions, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/2 cup minced celery
Garlic to taste
1 pound medium shrimp
1/2 cup flour
2 c. whole or 2 % milk
1 c. heavy cream
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup clam juice
1/4 c. parsley, minced
Salt and white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 c. Chopped mushrooms
1 beefsteak tomato cut into thin slices

Directions For Crab Lasagna Rolls:
Beat the egg. Thoroughly combine crab meat, Parmesan cheese, cottage cheese, egg, fresh parsley and onion powder.Divide filling into 4 equal portions. Spread filling mixture on each noodle.

Roll noodles tightly, and place seam-side down in an 8-inch square baking dish.

Pour shrimp Alfredo sauce over top. Add thin slices of tomato. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with additional grated cheese if desired. Serve immediately.

Directions for the Shrimp Alfredo Sauce:
In a saucepan melt butter and add onions, green onions, celery and garlic.

Add shrimp and cook until shrimp turn pink. With cooked shrimp, add at the last 5 minutes. Add flour and stir in completely. Add about half the whole or 2 % milk and half the cream. Let simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often. Add more milk and cream to desired thickness. Add Worcestershire, clam juice, fresh parsley, salt and white pepper to taste, cayenne if using and chopped mushrooms.

Simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes. Pour over crab lasagna rolls and top with thin slices of tomato.
I do not make a habit of using boxed cake mixes but we enjoy the texture and flavor of this recipe and the cake has become a family favorite over the years. You can change the liqueur to different flavors and end up with the same great results. Amaretto is another liqueur I use for this recipe. VERY tasty!
Easy Hazelnut Bundt Cake

1 cup chopped pecans
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup Hazelnut liqueur
Glaze Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup Hazelnut liqueur
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. Sprinkle chopped nuts evenly over bottom of pan.
In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pudding mix. Mix in eggs, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup oil and 3/4 cup Hazelnut liqueur. Beat for 5 minutes at high speed. Pour batter over nuts in pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto the serving dish. Prick top and sides of cake. Spoon glaze over top and brush onto sides of cake. Allow to absorb glaze repeat until all glaze is used up.
Directions for the Glaze:
In a saucepan, combine butter, 1/4 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup Hazelnut liqueur.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Late with St. Patrick's Day Dinner plus Pics from Hiking

This last Sunday was hiking at the Mt. Baker National Forest Trail 22 here in Washington state. The weather either out-and-out rained or calmed to a mere drizzle. As the hiking group descended, the drizzle stopped . . . of course =o).Round trip, the hike was 5.4 miles with a destination view of a frozen lake and snow at the top. The trail has old growth timbers, coating of thick moss, waterfalls, rushing rivers and stunning views everywhere we looked.I tested the group's patience for massive picture taking with my Canon Rebel XLR. I think the count was 236 pictures when I downloaded onto the computer.Some were more prepared for the hike then others. The weather may have been drizzly but the temperature was in the mid 50's so no one froze.The whole trail was well maintained.
The last of the huge trees before the scenery starts to change to a rockier terrain.Our goal is only about 15 minutes from this point.From rain to snow and ice. Amazing and Gorgeous! There is a wooden bridge and path around the whole lake and the lake is 50 feet deep in the center.While descending, the river's rush gets so loud, having any conversation is difficult. The hike is one I would love to do again. The drive took about 1 hour and 45 minutes to get to the trail from our house and the hike took the group about 3 1/2 hours. Carpooling was the way to go and pizza afterwards, then home.
Monday night meant dinner catch-up for me. I have been trying to make the St. Patrick's Day dinner since the 17th and defrosted my corned beef 2 days ago. I started doing evening bike rides last week, which threw off my whole schedule. The shortest of the rides was 22 miles. I think I bikes a total of 68 miles during the week. (Uhm, I haven't been on a bike in 19 years and have my father's Fuji racing bike to get accustomed too.)
St. Patrick's Day Menu:
Iced Irish Coffee; Whiskey-Glazed Corned Beef; Sweet n' Sour Cabbage and Guinness Floats
Iced Irish Coffee
(adapted from Cuisine at Home)
Makes: 4 servings (about 3 cups)
Total time: 15 minutes
2 cups ice cubes
1⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄4 cup hot water
2 cups fresh brewed coffee, chilled
3⁄4 cup Irish whiskey
1⁄4 cup chocolate syrup
1 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp. sugar, optional
Crush ice in a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag using a meat mallet, or use crushed ice from refrigerator door setting if you have one.
Combine 1/4 cup sugar and hot water in a pitcher; stir until sugar is dissolved.
Add coffee, whiskey, and chocolate syrup, stirring to blend. Fill serving glasses with crushed ice, then pour coffee mixture over the ice.
Whip cream and 3 Tbsp. sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until soft peaks form. Top each drink with a spoonful of whipped cream; serve immediately.

Whiskey-Glazed Corned Beef
(adapted from Cuisine at Home)
Makes: 2 lb. beef
Total time: about 4 hours
1 corned beef brisket ( 2- 4 lb.)
1⁄4 cup ketchup 1⁄4 cup whiskey (such as Jack Daniel’s)
1⁄4 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. dry mustard
1⁄2 tsp. ground ginger
1⁄4 tsp. red pepper flakes
Submerge corned beef, fat side up, in water in a large pot. Cover and simmer over low heat until beef is tender when pierced with a fork, 3–3 1/2 hours. (If chilling overnight, keep the meat in the liquid. Bring it to a simmer the next day, then continue with the recipe.)
Preheat oven to 450°. Line a baking sheet with foil, top with a rack, and coat with nonstick spray. Transfer the cooked beef to the prepared rack, fat side up. Use a knife to trim off the fat—it will be soft and easy to remove.
Whisk together ketchup, whiskey, vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, dry mustard, ground ginger, and pepper flakes in a saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat until thickened, 3–4 minutes. Spoon glaze onto beef, then roast for 10 minutes, or until the glaze is dark and sticky. Remove from oven and let meat rest for 15 minutes.
Transfer to a cutting board, then thinly slice against the grain.

Sweet n' Sour Cabbage
Makes: 4 cups
Total time: 25 minutes
4 strips thick-sliced bacon, diced
1 tsp. all-purpose flour
2⁄3 cup dry white wine
2⁄3 cup apple juice
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1⁄2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 bag coleslaw mix (16 oz.)
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and lemon juice to taste
Sauté bacon in a sauté pan over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; pour off all but 1 Tbsp. drippings.
Whisk in flour; deglaze with wine. Add apple juice, vinegar, syrup, Dijon, and pepper flakes; simmer until slightly syrupy, 5 minutes.
Pour hot mixture over coleslaw and onion in a bowl; toss. Finish with parsley, salt, and lemon juice. Serve Guinness Float
1 scoop vanilla bean ice cream
One 14.9-ounce can Guinness Draught beer
Whipped cream, for topping
Dash nutmeg
Place the ice cream in a large soda-fountain glass. Fill the glass with the beer. Top with a swirl of whipped cream and the nutmeg.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

SMS - Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting PLUS St. Patrick's Day Irish Soda Bread with smoke salmon and chive butter

Sweet Melissa Sunday is Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting by Julie of A Little Bit of Everything.

The only part of the recipe I altered was adding pecans instead of walnuts. We love pecans in this house . . . okay, I LOVE pecans in this house.

The recipe was simple and easy to put together. I learned a couple of interesting points for myself. First, I was worried about the 1 1/2 Tablespoons of cinnamon called for in the recipe for the cake along with the orange zest from a whole orange in the frosting. The cinnamon in carrot cake was not a dominate flavor. Just the opposite for us; kind of like a nice mellow addition. The orange zest definitely shows up as an accompaniment to the carrot cake but compliments to our taste bud thinking. I have been baking carrot cakes for over 20 years and never would have thought to add quite that much of either ingredient.

The third point that interested me was the butter, flour, parchment. Yes, I always butter and flour my pans but for parchment, my combo is to use shortening then parchment (the shortening keeping the parchment in place) then shortening on the parchment for easy release. Melissa had us butter, flour then parchment - the process was done. I liked it and the process worked perfectly!

The last surprise I wanted to mention was the top crust on the carrot cake. The crusty shell was a bit alarming to me but once the cake is assembled, the cake tasted great with no texture issues. Hubby thought this was the best carrot cake he ever had. . . which almost got a pillow thrown at him because I thought my go to carrot cake recipe was pretty darn amazing.

Thank you Julie for a wonderful choice for this week! To get the recipe and check out Julie's own perfect carrot cake, go to Julie's blog.

I thought adding a quick, versatile bread nibbling, appetizer accepting recipe would be a nice end to this post. If you like whole caraway seeds, then add the ingredient as a whole seed. I do not, so grind my caraway seeds in a coffee grinder set at espresso. The small grinder is kept just for grinding spices in a hurry =o).

Irish Soda Bread:
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, ground up (I use a coffee grinder for my seasoning grinding)
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Put the oatmeal into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Pour into a bowl and add the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and ground caraway seeds. Stir well to combine. Pour the buttermilk in and stir quickly until well combined. Shape the dough into a round about 6 inches in diameter and put onto a baking sheet. Place into the top half of the oven and bake 30 to 40 minutes, until lightly brown on top. When tapped, the bread will give off a firm, hollow sound. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Chive Cream Cheese butter

4 T. butter, softened

4 T. cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon chopped chives
8 ounces smoked salmon, sliced

(optional) garnish with dill sprigs

Slice the soda bread into thin slices, about 1/4-inch, and cut each slice into a rough 2-inch square until you have 16 pieces. Wrap the remaining bread in plastic wrap and store in a cool dry place. Mix the butter, cream cheese and chives together and spread a small amount onto each square. Top with a small fold of salmon and (optional) garnish with a sprig of fresh dill.