Saturday, April 5, 2014

How to travel with your giant lab

Usually we don't take Jackson on 16 hour road trips to Jakson Hole, WY (wait, is his name a coincidence? Um, no). Usually we don't take such long road trips either. But since this time we decided to drive, our almost 10 year old 100 lbs lab wouldn't take "no" for an answer.

        So, here are some tips on how to travel with your pup: 
1. Buy a Subaru Outback. They are dog approved. I'm sure you've seen the cool commercials. 
2. Frequent breaks. That's the most my dog had a chance to pee in a 16 hour period. 
3.  If you're stopping somewhere for the night, invest in Rock Stars, Monsters and other highly caffeinated drinks as you most certainly will not get any sleep with a dog irritated by the unknown noises. I guess a whole day of rest in the car provided him with the energy to growl and jump off and on the bed ALL NIGHT LONG...
4. Whatever you're eating - your dog will make sure he's eating it, too. Otherwise you're risking you're shoulder to be drooled on. A LOT. Oh yeah, that reminds me, make sure that you have plenty of napkins. People with teething children - please know that that's child play (no pun intended) until you encounter a hungry overgrown Labrador. 
5. When you get to your destination you owe your pup a loooong walk. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Veggie chili for Meatless Monday

Recently, I have been a crock pot queen. Perhaps because it's been so cold in North Dakota in March (hey, it's in the 30's now, what am I complaining about!) and perhaps because it is so easy. One of my favorite recipes is this vegetarian chili, since I tend to make meat-less meals. For all of you carnivores out there - I'm sure this would be as delicious if you added some meat to it. But since the swim suit season is coming, I recommend you skip those calories and save this delicious meal for your Meatless Monday.
Vegetarian crock pot chili
1 onion - diced 
2 cloves garlic - minced
2 red or yellow bell peppers - chopped 
1 zucchini - diced
2 grated carrots
2 cans of beans - I like to mix up kidney and black beans
2 x 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes 
1/2 cup water 
1.5 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
Combine all ingredients and cook on low for 8-6 hours. Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of the results... Perhaps it disappeared too quickly...

The crock pot adventures

I have been in love with my crock pot recently. When a girl is in grad school and has 2 jobs, a girl needs help... Honestly though, I cannot say that I lack free time, surprisingly, and I am making it sound worse than it is, but sometimes I have so much on my mind that coming home to a ready meal is a true treat. Some recipes make you chop all the veggies and then sauté them but not this one. Chop, place in crock pot and come home to a feast.
If you've never made Indian food before, this may be a fine recipe for you - easy and very little attention required!
Slow cooker vegetable curry
4 cups cauliflower (I used frozen, no messy chopping required. I think working with fresh cauliflower is very messy and then I find it all over my floor...) 
1 sweet potato - peeled and diced
1 red and 1 green pepper - diced
1 onion - diced
(You can also add other veggies - zucchini, carrots, whatever your heart desires!)
15 oz chickpeas
15 oz tomato sauce
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup chicken or veggie broth
1 tablespoon of: cumin, curry powder and turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne 
1/2 cup frozen green peas - add before serving
Place all the ingredients except peas in a crock pot and cook for 8 hours on low. Add peas before serving to warm up. Serve as a sauce on rice with plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream), cilantro and green onion.
Here is the original recipe - I tweaked it a bit but I think the author still deserves credit:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

No heat remedy

This morning I was awakened by an automated phone call from out local gas provider, that there is gas shortage due to a leak in Canada and we were instructed to turn down our thermostats down to 60 F. HERE is the article in a local newspaper. Yes, this is really happening while the blizzard warning is in place, the low is -27 degrees tonight and the winds are at 29 mph... I hope people working on the leak stay safe and warm!
Looks like I will be wearing a parka and ear warmers inside. To warm up my sad soul, Jeffrey made us a delicious breakfast...

Spinach Cheese Bake with Egg 
You can find the original recipe HERE
1 tablespoon of melted butter
2 bags of baby spinach
1.25 cup of shredded reduced fat cheddar
3/4 cup of Monterey Jack cheese 
(This is a lot of cheese. FYI - I used about a cup of shredded Gouda cheese - use whatever you would like!)
1 and 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1.5 cup fat free milk
3 eggs
1 teaspoon each of: salt, baking powder and Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon each of: black pepper, ground nutmeg, ground red pepper

Place the raw spinach on top of the melted butter in a pan. Cover with the shredded cheese. Next, mix all the remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour the mixture over the spinach and cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. So easy!
When done, you may begin steaming your eggs. The concept is pretty much the same as frying an over-easy egg, but you don't have to turn them (and make a mess!). You will instead cook them in a frying pan, in a few tablespoons of water or vegetable broth under a cover to create the steam. Make sure you don't cook them too long, so the yolk is still soft. If you need more instruction, click HERE

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Mystery grain

Bulgur - sounds like something Lord Voldemort would eat, but it's just a simple wheat cereal common in Mediterranean and Middle Eatern cuisine. Forgive my dorkiness here, but since I work in with gastrointestinal system quite a bit I always seem to be interested in nutritional facts, especially fiber, of which one cup of dry bulgur has quite a lot of - 25g, which is your daily need. So eat up!
Super Simple Bulgur Salad
(Can be used as a side, work lunch, appetizer or a snack)
1 cup cooked bulgur 
Half of diced red onion
Half of diced red pepper
Half of diced cucumber (some recipes say to seed it- I didn't)
Half a bunch of chopped parsley
1 can of rinsed chick peas
1 large garlic clove, minced 
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt an pepper to taste
Mix ingredients and enjoy! Yes, that's really it- the recipe is so simple and results quick and tasty!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Swieta po polsku

AKA Christmas the Polish way. Since I spent my holidays in the wonderful snow storms and below zero temperatures ( in Fahrenheit!) of North Dakota, I felt it was necessary to bring a bit of the Motherland to the table. So I started cookin'.
One of my favorite meals has always been a vegetable salad or salatka jarzynowa (try pronouncing that!), which is present on every table during either Christmas or Easter, or any big event for that matter. Not being a big fan of meat, I always appreciated the gentle flavors of veggies in a delicate sauce.
Vegetable Salad
6 carrots
6 potatoes
2 parsley roots (they look like white carrots and amazingly stores in Midwest carry them)
1 celery root (I couldn't find one. You can either skip it or substitute it with celery stalks)
6 pickles
3 hard boiled eggs
2 apples (I use Granny Smith)
1 can of corn
1 can of peas
Boil the peeled root vegetables until jut about right. They cannot be too soft - you don't want the salad too mushy. Cool in the fridge. Cut veggies, apples and eggs into a small dice. Add the canned vegetables. 
Now the sauce is the tricky part. You'll find that a lot of Polish recipes don't use the exact measurements, as if every Polak was born a perfect cook... Since the quantity of the sauce depends on your personal preference, I will just tell you in general: you will need 1 part of coarse mustard, 2 parts of mayo (I use light), salt and pepper, garlic, lemon juice. Gently stir the  sauce into the veggies and voila!

Saturday, January 4, 2014


Polish hunter stew (pronounced beegos) is a traditional Polish and Easter European in general prepared in winter. The recipe is pretty simple and the taste is comforting; perhaps that is the reason why it's been a staple on Polish tables since the 14th century. It is not a pretty dish - as a matter of fact, the name of it means "big mess"...
You will need:
1 fresh cabbage, julienned 
1 lb sauerkraut 
1 cup pitted prunes
1 onion, chopped
Half a bottle of red wine of your liking, I used Cabernet Sauvignon last time.
Half a jar of dark and tart jam, I used a Swedish currant jam. I find that a lot of American jams have a higher sugar content than their European counterparts, so I would search for something pretty tart, if you can.  
Kielbasa, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 lb cubed meat of your choice, cooked (I never add any other meat besides kielbasa but a lot of people do)
Fresh and dry mushrooms
Salt, pepper, bay leaf
Boil the julienned cabbage in some water until reduced to about a half, then add the sauerkraut. On low heat simmer for about 1.5 - 2 hours, slowly adding other ingredients. You may periodically add water if you feel like the dish will burn. Some serve it as a thick soup, some as a dry stew - it is your choice how much fluid you use. I also keep adding the wine (not to my glass, but to the dish) throughout the cooking process. There really isn't an exact order, in which ingredients need to be added. 
In the meantime, sauté the chopped onion, fresh mushrooms and kielbasa and add to the bigos. Adhere to instructions of the dry mushrooms (usually they need to be immersed in water for some time), then add to bigos. 
The longer you cook this dish the better - you really shouldn't cook it right before serving, it actually is t the best served the next day. Smacznego!