Spring Skiing



Something about skiing this year just works. I don't know if it's the people, the snow, or just that it finally clicked, though likely a combination of all three. Over New Years we had some of our closest friends in town to visit us and we had a blast. We had skiing skills ranging from very beginner to very advanced and it all just worked. We had a great time together and truly enjoyed the slopes.

The weekend following was a powder weekend, I finally got up on the summit and skied some runs that have always challenged me. For the first time ever, I stood at the top of once terrifying runs without any fear. I skied them well (for me) and was ecstatic about the apparent progress I've made over the past couple of years. It was the first time ever I left Sunday afternoon and all I could think about during the week was getting back on the slopes.

Then last weekend, it was sunny and warm, but the snow was lackluster. It wasn't icy fortunately, but it wasn't as soft as I (or anyone for that matter) would prefer. Still a great time. I decided that given the great light I'd tote my good camera up on the hill. These two pictures are my favorite from the day.

The first is Lone Peak from an angle I rarely see. The area I took it is from a part of the mountain I don't venture to very often. Between the view, the light and a little help from Lightroom, I'm very happy with the picture. In fact, we enlarged it to frame on the wall. My first "art"!! The second is in the parking lot of Eric and Zeke. It was a rare opportunity to capture Zeke actually looking at the camera. It's now my favorite picture of my "boys". I especially love the light around the edges that gives them a bit of a glow.

Mystery Weekend

Last weekend we decided we would get away for a weekend and do something fun. Eric thought that instead of "us" planning something, he would plan it and not tell me what we were doing. Sounds good to me! I did have my suspicions as to where we were going though...

Friday afternoon rolled around and we got the heck out of work and hit the road. Our weekend started off with a night at his aunt and uncles second home in Phillipsburg, MT. They won't be back until January so this was a good chance for us to make sure the (very old) house is in working order for them.

This small town is about 2 hours northwest of Bozeman with a beautiful drive to get there. They have a local place called "Friday Night Pizza" that we've been interested in trying. It's a local couple that whip up gourmet pizzas, but only on... you guessed it... Friday nights. You call in during the day and they schedule a time for you to come get it at their location built into the back of the local laundromat/car wash. We were thoroughly impressed and will definitely plan to get it again next time we are in the area.

That evening we ventured downtown to a local bar. Upon settling up at the bar and ordering drinks, a guy in his mid 20's came up, sat next to us and asked us where we were from. This guy was one of the nicest guys ever and had the full redneck, "I grew up in this town and ain't never leavin' again", personality dialed in. We had a blast talking to him about hunting, growing up in town and his job as a gold miner down south (and then moved home). I'd have to say the highlight of our conversation was hearing him talk about his uncle and how "that man is a mountain lion huntin' son-of-a-bitch, he is, yep". It was a great night! Oh, and did I mention that 9 beers (got a drink for our friend too), tips and 2 shake a days was $15? "YEP"

Jackson, MT Jackson, MT

The next morning we cleaned up the house, made sure everything was in working order and winterized the place. Eric had planned that instead of taking the quick route, we'd take a longer, more scenic route to my favorite place in Montana - Jackson. This drive took us directly through the middle of the Pioneer Mountains along a windy road, passing many hunters along the way. We surely thought that we would see some wildlife along the way, but just didn't get lucky.

You could easily blink and miss this tiny little town as you're driving through. The Jackson Hot Springs Lodge is basically the towns livelihood. We discovered this place several years ago when we were looking for a neat place to visit and have now stayed 3 times and visited during the day once over Jeep Week when we needed the mechanic across the street from the lodge.

Considering the lodge and it's accompanying hot spring pool and cabins takes up one full block of the 4 square blocks making up the entire town, you are certain to get to know a mix of locals and visitors as we did. In fact, we spent the evening partying with the owners. The greatest thing about this place, aside from being really inexpensive to stay, is that you have these really rustic accommodations, an amazing lodge to spend your evening in and then you have a high end gourmet restaurant. I'd have to say some of the best meals I've ever eaten have been in the restaurant here.

Needless to say it was a really fun weekend getaway with Eric. I know we'll be back to both places again and again. Trips like these remind me just how awesome the man I married truly is!



It's been quite a week! Between a fun weekend in Minnesota celebrating our friends marriage, plus a very busy week catching up at work and oh, yeah, the official election of a new president, I'm ready to relax. It's been getting quite chilly around here and with ski season just around the corner we are banking on some serious snowfall.

This afternoon we are having a few friends over for a BBQ. Eric is planning on grilling a variety of meat on the Big Green Egg, a friend is going to make her specialty mac & cheese and her husband is also bringing over Rock Band! Certain to be a good time! I can't have folks over though without the serious itch to make something myself. It's a perfect time to make some of my favorite recipes.

I have to say I'm a bit proud of myself for this recipe. It's one of the few I've put together on my own. The idea came from a combination of watching Rachael Ray make mini pizzas one afternoon and one of Eric's favorite kinds. These are a great appetizer for parties since they are colorful and super easy to make. I only wish the picture was better!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tube refrigerated pizza dough
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tbls chopped garlic (we use the stuff in the jar)
  • 8 oz. mozzarella brick
  • 1 tub grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Preparation:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Roll out tube of pizza dough into a rectangle. You can either use a cup to form as many circles as possible or the easier method may be to just cut it into 3x3 inch squares or so.
  3. Brush each mini pizza with olive oil and rub about a 1/4 tsp of garlic on each one.
  4. Slice tomatoes in half length wise, and then slice each half again lengthwise. Slice cheese into 1/4 in thick slices into chunks that will almost fill the sections. Place a piece of cheese on each section of dough and arrange 3-4 tomato quarters on top so the stay put.
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges of dough start to brown. Allow to cool slightly, sprinkle basil over top and drizzle with olive oil.

Enjoy!


Well we had the first real snow of the season! I guess that means ski season is just around the corner, yippee! While freakin' cold, it was absolutely beautiful today. Perhaps it's the fact that we were in the 80's last week and a sudden 30 degree day feels like 30 below, but it was FREEZING! The early season snow collecting on leaves still changing with the autumn season made it colorful yet amazingly white. Perfect for trying my hand at taking pictures. We went to the Bobcat/Weber State game today only to watch them get sorely beaten. I love to watch football in chilly weather, bundled up and toasty, but today pushed the limits. At halftime we decided to head to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the 2nd half in warmth while eating plenty of wings.

We also decided that the perfect way to end the first real cold day of the season was to have a chili cookoff, just the two of us. I'm pretty sure I won. Yep. Eric may argue, but in all reality you know I'm the champ. Ha! Seriously though, we both made very different but awesome batches of chili. Mine is more of a classic, thick meaty chili while his is more stew like and much more spicy. To counter a certain buddy of mine that thought I may only follow recipes, here is how I made mine (without looking at a single suggestion). :)

Main Ingredients:
2.5 lbs ground beef
1 Sweet Onion
3 cans stewed tomatoes (chopped)
2 cans chili beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
1-2 cups mushrooms
Olive Oil
Garlic
One bottle Black Widow Oatmeal Stout

Add to taste:
Garlic Powder (around 2 tbls)
Chili Powder (around 3 tbls)
Cumin (around 2 tbls)
Oregano (around 1 tbls)
Cinnamon (yep!) (around 1 tsp)
Salt (around 1 tsp)

So I started with a tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron pot, added some chopped garlic and let brown slightly. Add onions and saute until softened. Add the ground beef and toss around until browned and the beef really breaks down (I like it in really tiny pieces). Sprinkle in some of the spices to let absorb with the meat. Finally add in the rest of the main ingredients and add spices until the taste is what you like. The more it simmers, the more the flavors come out, so go light on the spices until it simmers for a bit. Let it simmer for awhile to reduce the beer and thicken.

I'm really satisfied with this recipe, but the joy of chili is that you can adjust to your taste. Between the batch I made and Eric's we'll be eatin' chili for weeks to come. It freezes great too, so store in medium containers so you can pull out just enough to last a day or two.

I received this trifle bowl last year for Christmas and haven't yet put it to use. Searching for trifle recipes I ran across this one and knew I had to make it for my mom's birthday. It is, simply put, awesome! The perfect combination of strawberries, chocolate and fluffy cream made from cream cheese, pudding and whipped topping, layered with ladyfingers brushed with coffee. Try it and enjoy!

Oh, and yes, it did get rave reviews!

Ingredients

  • 1 quart fresh strawberries
  • 1 1/4 cups cold milk
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant cheesecake or vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tablespoons strong brewed coffee, room temperature, divided
  • 2 cups whipped topping (I used homemade)
  • 1 (3 ounce) package ladyfingers, split
  • 6 (1 ounce) squares bittersweet chocolate, grated
Preparation
  1. Set aside three strawberries for garnish; slice the remaining strawberries. In a bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth; gradually beat in 2 tablespoons coffee. Beat in pudding. Fold in whipped topping.
  2. Brush remaining coffee over ladyfingers. Line the bottom of a 3-qt. trifle or glass serving bowl with half of the ladyfingers. Top with half of the sliced berries, grated chocolate and pudding mixture; repeat layers. Cut reserved berries in half; place on trifle. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
On a side note, I realized I didn't have enough eggs and wasn't able to make the brownies. Guess there's a trip to the grocery store in my future.

Do I have a taster?

So, I've been a bit behind on the blogging. Well, wait a second, was I ever on top of it?

Anyway, for those few of you that check out the blog here and there I just had to share the recipe that popped up on SmittenKitchen today. I'm pretty sure I know exactly what I'm doing this weekend. It's definitely not going to be the long run and hike I was thinking for Saturday. No, I think these brownies are it. Considering the fact that I love baked goods with spices in them, plus the fact that they are brownies make them look amazing.

I'm probably going to need a few folks to sample them. Any takers?

On second thought, as good as these look I should probably plan in that run! Have a great weekend!


I can't believe it's already been a month since our "Jeep Week" trip. We gathered our friends, packed up 7 Jeeps and hit the trail in southwest Montana, each night bringing us to a different location. We camped in a beautiful meadow the first night and found amazing mountain lakes the other nights. While several folks stayed the full 9 days, we stayed only 5, which was plenty considering the amount of dirt we accumulated!

Our meals for the trip were planned so each couple only had to make one breakfast or one dinner. We had dinner and made pulled pork and this salad. I hadn't made it previously, so I put it together and hoped for the best. I was surprised by how much everyone liked it and how quickly it was wiped out. Based on this success I made it again for our trip last weekend to see Tom Petty at the Gorge (awesome concert both nights!). Again, everyone loved it. So, here I am posting it to share. Just a hint, I prepared all the veggies and combined in one bag, put the almonds in their own bag and stored within the veggie bag. The dressing was stored in a tupperware container and I just let folks add as much as they wanted.

Naturally I found it at Simply Recipes.

Ingredients

2/3 cup slivered almonds
8 cups (1 lb) coarsely shredded napa cabbage
12 ounces snow peas, strings removed, rinsed and thinly sliced
1 1/3 cups thinly sliced radishes
1 1/3 cups thinly sliced green onions (including greens)
1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup lightly packed fresh parsley leaves

Dressing ingredients
3 Tbsp rice vinegar (seasoned or unseasoned)
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 clove peeled and minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 cup mayonnaise

Preparation

1 Spread almond slivers out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in a 350°F oven for 5-10 minutes, until nicely browned. OR toast in stick-free or cast-iron skillet on medium high, stirring frequently until browned. Set aside.

2 Combine cabbage, snow peas, radishes, green onions, cilantro in a large bowl. Can make this step a day or two ahead.

3 In a separate bowl, mix together the rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, ginger, and cayenne until sugar has dissolved. Whisk in the mayonnaise.

4 When ready to serve, gently combine the dressing and almonds with the cabbage mixture.

Serves 14-16.

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