Hon, I took so many pictures this summer and last, I could center a whole blog around them. Here are some of the ones that say Southwest.
Call me a quiche snob!
I can’t bring myself to buy quiches that have 25 plus ingredients, many of them unpronounceable. Sure, I eat my share of processed food. But why buy something when a) the recipe is easy to follow, b) all the ingredients are familiar, and c) the homemade version is healthy and delicious? Plus, quiches freeze well. I’m always happy to pull one of out of the freezer, add some salad and/or soup and call it a meal.
One of my daughters is gluten free so this was my first attempt at making gluten free pastry dough. It was definitely more work than making regular pastry dough, which is a cinch if you have a food processor. I was surprised how well the gluten free dough held its shape. If you want the recipe for regular pastry dough, click here and you’ll link to a previous post, Broccoli Cheddar Quiche.
Happy cooking, hon!
GLUTEN FREE PASTRY DOUGH (single crust)
1 3/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, plus extra for greasing
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup water
pie weights or dried beans (I bought a bag of navy beans, these can be used again after weighing down dough in oven.)
1. Grease a deep 9-inch tart or pie pan.
2. To make pastry dough, place the flour, xanthan gum, and salt into a bowl. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until it resembles fine bread crumbs.
3. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the egg and a little water. Using your hands, mix in the dry ingredients to form a dough. Invert it onto a gluten free floured surface and knead well. Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.
4. Roll out the dough and use it to line the prepared tart pan. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
5. Remove the dough from the freezer, line with parchment paper, fill with pie weights or dried beans, and bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove parchment paper and weights and let the pastry cool slightly before adding filling.
SPINACH TOMATO CHEDDAR QUICHE FILLING
10 oz. shredded Cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp. flour
1 (10 oz.) pkg frozen spinach, steamed
1 medium tomato, cut into chunks
3 eggs, beaten
¼ to ½ cup half & half or a little milk
Dash of pepper and dash or two of nutmeg
1. In a large bowl, toss cheese and flour together.
2. Cook spinach according to directions; drain well.
3. Add spinach and tomato to cheese. Add eggs to spinach/tomato/cheese mixture. Add half & half (or milk). Add pepper and nutmeg; stir. Mix well.
4. Pour into piecrust. Sprinkle nutmeg on top.
5. Bake 45 to 50 minutes until golden brown. (Hint: If crust is browning and middle of quiche isn’t set, use a pie rim cover or tin foil to cover perimeter of crust until quiche is done.)
Serves 6 to 8.
*Source for gluten free pastry dough: Gluten Free Baking by Michael McCamley
If you read Emeralds and Angels, Hiking in Zion (Part 1), you’ll know Hubby was not thrilled (umm, extremely nervous), about hiking Angel’s Landing.
For good reason.
It wasn’t the extremely steep 5-6 hour hike with tons of switchbacks that made his heart race, it was the hike at the top of the mountain, on narrow ridges with deep chasms. Did I mention that you get across the most narrow parts by holding onto a chain anchored into the sandstone?
Guess what I found out? THERE ARE BREAKS IN THE CHAIN!
We warmed up by hiking Emerald Pools. Our guide then led us to the bottom of the Angel’s Landing where we started the steep ascension in full sun. Technically, the trail is called the West Rim Trail until it meets Angel’s Landing. Hiking along, we suddenly reached the aptly named Refrigerator Canyon, a mile-long shady part of the trail. We cooled off in time to sweat again, climbing Walter’s Wiggles, “steep 21 sharp zig-zags” that lead to Scout Lookout.
Hubby and Teen Daughter decided to rest on Scout’s Lookout while our guide James and I continued on. Here’s the thing. It was crowded. Walking on sandstone is slippery, the ground is gritty and the slopes are smooth. It’s hard to get traction or know where to put your foot as you climb up. I didn’t want to let go of the chain (when there was one), and people were climbing down as we were climbing up.
“I’m not letting go of the chain, so you’ll have to place your hands on either side of me and go around me,” I said.
“You come down, then I’ll go up,” I said.
“We’re doing the ‘chain dance’,” I said.
When there were breaks in the chain and we had to “Spiderman Scramble” up the mountain, I told James, “If I had a bucket list, this would officially be off of it!”
There was a point on the one-way trail where it was so crowded, we would have had to wait to keep going. I said I was “just fine” ending our hike there. James was, too. He said it but we both felt it.
Not only were we all exhilarated (except for Teen Daughter, who was out of breath!), we were ready for our next adventure. If I go back to Zion one day, I’ll wave to the Angels landing on the top of that trail.
Then, I’ll gear up and head for the canyons!
Hiking the Narrows means hiking in water through slotted canyons. Even though large rocks line the bottom of the river, we’d be dressed properly, carry tall walking sticks, and be guided by an experienced hiker. We picked up our waterproof boots and Neoprene socks at Zion Outfitter the day before, so we’d be ready to roll at 7am the next day.
One problem. It rained overnight. A lot.
The Parks Service closed the Narrows because the water level was too high. The usually clear, shallow water was now brown, swirling, strong, and deep. Even if the Park Service opened up the Narrows later, which it did, we had to make a decision. We decided to hike Emerald Pools and Angels Landing.
One more problem. Back at home, when I showed Hubby a video of hikers on Angel’s Landing, his breathing turned rapid. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “It’s just a video.” “I have no interest in hiking that!” he replied. Yet, there we were. With Plan A shelved, it was time for Plan B.
Hiking Emerald Pools was a great warm-up for the day. Our guide, James Milligan, led us to the lower and upper pools, then we hiked from the pools to the start of Angel’s Landing.
It wasn’t necessary to have a guide for the morning hikes but 1) we’d already hired him, 2) he knows the mountain so well that he efficiently led us from trail to trail (otherwise, we might still be consulting our map, wondering where to go!), 3) James could answer our many questions, and 4) having a guide gave Hubby assurance that he could hike however much–or little-of Angel’s Landing he was comfortable with!
Stay tuned for Part 2.
Have you been to Zion? Have you hiked the Narrows? Emerald Pools? Angels Landing?
Hon, I’d love to hear from you.
Happy 20th birthday today to our three beautiful babies!
Here are my Top 20 memories of raising two girls and a boy, born within five minutes of each other.
1. Walking up and down our street to get some fresh air. (“Sleep babies, sleep!”)
2. Watching all three babies nap in one crib, swaddled and warm. (bundled like sausages)
3. Reading stories together, either at bedtime or on long car trips. (Except when they wanted to read out loud and were at three different reading levels. Oh, the competition!)
4. Pumpkin picking, wagon rides, and bringing home cider, doughnuts and apple butter. (looking for those perfect pumpkins)
5. Halloween–dressing up, trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, and the elementary school show. (Our attic doubles as a Halloween costume shop!)
6. Thanksgiving along with many holidays spent with family. (cleaning up, cooking, celebrating and catching up)
7. Countless trips to Baltimore (shout out to my MD family) and Long Island (Dad’s family).
8. Day trips, especially taking the train to Manhattan. (One of my many mottos: “Getting there is the accomplishment. Being there is icing on the cake.”)
9. Building snowmen, sledding and playing in the snow. (Hot chocolate and cookies, anyone?)
10. First day of school. (School supplies? The right outfit? Ready to go.)
11. First day of camp (and first time on a big, yellow school bus)
12. Birthday parties. (Hon, you know I love a party!)
13. Skiing. (Almost nothing beats a sunny day skiing.)
14. Trip to Israel. (I knew the trip was a success when we landed in the US and my son asked, “When can we go back?”)
15. Vacations, especially Disney World. (The secret to theme park success: pack snacks and sandwiches.)
16. Significant religious milestones. (connecting roots from one generation to the next)
17. Beach vacations and day trips to the Maryland, Delaware and Jersey shores.(sandcastles, sunbathing and seashell collecting)
18. Watching our determined 2 pound 9 ounce daughter grow up.
19. Watching our feisty 4 pound 12 ounce son turn into a young man.
20. Watching our sassy 4 pound 4 ounce daughter morph before our eyes.
Hon, I’m raising a virtual glass of champagne in a toast to my three 20 year-olds. Health and happiness.
I recently baked Orange Muffins using my new Orange Cake Recipe. They tasted good, but I wanted to increase the citrus flavor and add some sweetness. I figured a bit of lemon and a touch of chocolate would do the trick.
Here’s the Orange Cake Recipe with a few additions. The Citrusy and Sweet Orange Muffins are in the oven now. Can you smell them?
Happy baking, hon!
Citrusy and Sweet Orange Muffins
1 cup butter, softened (or margarine to make the muffins non-dairy)
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 oranges (about 1 lb total), ends trimmed, then cut into chunks and seeded
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon orange juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
Chocolate syrup to drizzle
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
non-stick cooking-oil spray
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line muffin tray with baking cups or coat tray with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, use a mixer on medium speed to beat butter and granulated sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs.
3. Whirl orange chunks in a food processor until mostly smooth but not pureed.
4. Add 1 1/2 cups orange mixture to butter/ sugar batter and beat until blended.
5. Add lemon juice, lemon extract and 1 teaspoon orange juice.
6. Add flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder to batter and beat until smooth.
7. Fill muffin cups half-way with batter. Drizzle a dot of chocolate syrup in the middle of batter. Using a toothpick, spread chocolate in a star shape. Add batter on top of each half-way filled muffin cup.
8. Bake approximately 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few crumbs clinging to it. Cool pan on a cooling rack. (I used the extra batter to make a small loaf. That took approx. 40 mins to bake.)
9. In a small bowl, whisk together powdered (confectioner’s) sugar, 2 Tbls orange juice and 1 tsp lemon juice. Drizzle over muffins and let glaze set.
Yield: Depends on if you want all muffins or a muffin/ loaf combo. With the measurements above, I made 12 muffins and 1 small loaf, in a 7″ length x 2.5″ width x 1.8″ high oven-safe paper bakeware “baking pan.” (brand: Welcome Home, purchased at: Homegoods).
“Is there really such a thing as quicksand?”
In my last post, Canyoneering in Utah, Harnesses, Helmets & Hooks (Part 1), Hubby, Teen Daughter and I got geared up. We hiked to the top of the canyons, listened closely as James Milligan, our Zion Outfitters guide, taught us how to rappel on vertical sandstone, and learned that friction is our friend.
Tip: “Lower you butt until it’s in line with your feet, then ‘walk’ down the canyon.”
James informed us that the bottom of the canyons had been dry for the past four years, but it had flooded in April as well as rained the night before. We were going to have to jump into water. How deep was the water? Not sure. What was at the bottom of the water? Quicksand!
Hubby rappelled first, then belayed Teen Daughter, me and James. When there was just a pool of (cold) water at the canyon bottom, Hubby would let us know where is seemed shallowest. Then we’d jump in and scramble to flat ground. Teamwork was essential!
James guessed (right) that there was quicksand at the bottom of one pool. I’d doubted if quicksand really existed. Hon, quicksand is real! Hubby went down first, hoisted himself out of the goop and made it to flat ground. Whew! He held the rope below while James held it above, creating a taut line for me and Teen Daughter to grab onto and, hand-over-hand, get us out of the muck. But the muck pulled me in!
Want to know what panic feels like? It feels like quicksand sucking you in, drawing you deeper as you try to kick your way out. Help!
I used all of my upper body strength to pull up on that taut rope. I hollered for Hubby to grab my arm and GET ME THE HECK OUT OF THERE!
Once we were all out, the feeling was fabulous. WE DID IT!
The only way back was up!
A fallen tree blocked the less steep path back to the car, so we had to change plans. “Huh?” I asked. “We’re going straight up?” Thank goodness James knew what to do. When we couldn’t find a foothold, he placed his foot sideways so we could brace against it like a step! We “Spidermanned” our way up the sandstone (which, I learned the hard way, you can’t grasp like rock because petrified sand dunes crumble when you grab them) and finally reached the car…Gritty. Dirty. Wet. Sooo happy!
When can I go again?
(Want to comment? Click on the Word Bubble next to Title of Post. Thanks, hon!)
Guess what I did last week? One of the most exciting things I’ve ever done. Hubby, Teen Daughter and I were up for an adventure. We went canyoneering in Utah, right outside Zion National Park. We hired an experienced guide, James Milligan at Zion Outfitter, for our first time rapelling and scrambling around canyons. Teamwork was essential, the canyons were gorgeous and the physical challenge was thrilling.
Hon, you know what? Once you’re in the canyons, you’re really in! There’s no turning back.
First, we geared up with harnesses, helmets and hooks. We learned how to control the friction of the rope that connected to our hooks. Holding the rope taut, you stayed in place. Letting it out, down you’d go. Finding a foothold on vertical rock was difficult, so you “walked” down cliffs letting rope out a little at a time. Jumping down into water and quickly finding a place to stand was tricky. Squeezing through narrow canyons was the easiest thing we did. What I want to know is…
When can I go again?
It was hot and dry, so water was a must. Bees buzzed around the water at the bottom of the canyons, but they wanted to drink and didn’t bother us. Hawks circled, lizards slithered, and white streaks on red rocks were evidence of large birds that call the canyon home.
“Hanging Gardens” are greenery that sprouts from canyons walls and drapes down.
When James, our guide, mentioned quicksand I asked, “Is there really such a thing as quicksand?” I’m here to tell you it sits on the bottom of canyons under water and its for real!
Have you ever gone canyoneering? Would you go again? Comment by clicking on Word Bubble next to Title of Post. Thanks, hon!
Hon, have I told you that baking relaxes me? That I have a sweet tooth? That I love a theme? Favors give guests a piece of the party to take with them. What better way to tie it all together than to give out cookie favors? Here are a bunch I baked recently.
Hubby’s Music-Themed Birthday Dinner.
Tween Daughter’s Broadway-themed Milestone Birthday and Big Event.
Party favors for a friend’s 40th birthday.
Leftover Dough from the “40” Cookies to bring to Raku Firing Day.
Recipe for Sugar Cookies and Royal Icing–just scroll down on the “Melted Snowman Cookie” post to find the recipes.
Do you have any fabulous favor ideas? I’d love to hear them. :)
Hon, Bmore Energy might be a lifestyle Blog, but sometimes I feel compelled to break format. The news of the kidnapping of two Amish sisters reminded me of a childhood incident, so I’m combining memory with photographs. Both took me back in time.
When I was in elementary school, and walking home from a friend’s house, a creepy man driving a sketchy car veered to the wrong side of the street and cruised downhill alongside me. I can’t remember if I was 10 or 11 years-old, but I’ll never forget what that man looked like. I could pick him out of a lineup. I felt exposed by his laughing eyes and curling lips. He sneered, inviting me to join him. I ran, afraid to look back, terrified that he was chasing me. I bolted behind houses until I reached my back door. I banged and screamed until my mother heard me. I was safe. I was fine.
Not really the first loss of innocence for me, but definitely the scariest up until then.
So, two “smart, strong, resilient,” Pennsylvania Dutch speaking Amish sisters are back home. Safe. But, their ordeal isn’t really over. G-d speed their inner and outer healing, and the vanquishing of demons cruising streets with evil eyes and sneering mouths.
Hopefully, open sky, fertile fields and green land will bring peace of mind. Can you smell the scent of overturned earth in these photos?