Sunday, January 31, 2010

Recipe #5: Ducky, Just Ducky

A few weeks ago Travis got some ducks while hunting with his buddies Zach & Trevor. And since today is really cold & SNOWY, it’s a perfect time to cook ‘em up in a nice warm kitchen! We made a delicious lunch with Chico's Thai Duck Salad, and it ended up being one of our favorite recipes in the cookbook thus far. We accompanied it with Pad Thai Noodles (sautéed with duck, topped with bean sprouts, crushed peanuts, & pecans), and a new creation that Travis made; fried duck with bacon wrapped around it. Not completely healthy, we realize, but oh so good.
~Rating of Thai Duck Salad: 6 stars (out of 10)
~Quote of the day: “Your work is to discover your world & then with all your heart give yourself to it.” -Buddha.
~Music while cooking: Memoirs of a Geisha soundtrack

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Recipe #4: Cheers to a Healthy Happy Heart!

Do you know the symptoms of a heart attack? They are on my mind tonight. Heart attacks remain a top risk for both men & women. However, women’s symptoms can be very different from men’s. We discovered that firsthand this week, as my family experienced this very thing!
Women’s Signs of a Heart Attack:
1. Indigestion
2. Sleep disturbance
3. Weakness in the arms
4. Anxiety
5. Cold sweat
6. Dizziness
7. Unusual fatigue
8. Shortness of breath

Strategies for a Healthy Heart:
1. Be active.
2. Eat a heart-healthy diet.

3. Don’t smoke or use tobacco products.
4. Get regular health screenings.

Back from the hospital, Travis & I created a “healthy heart dinner” tonight and took it to my parents’ house. From the Chico cookbook we selected the Fresh Berry Medley, which was really good with its light, fresh taste. We steamed some green beans & carrots, and for the main dish we created our own fish recipe:
Baked Halibut:
We placed 4 halibut fillets on a piece of tinfoil, sprinkled Bragg's Organic Salt-Free Seasoning (and squeezed a bit of lime), layered some sliced onion, green pepper, & carrots (after boiling the carrots & sautéing the onions/green peppers), included a little olive oil & Smart Balance butter, added another piece of tinfoil over the top, folded the edges with the bottom piece of tinfoil, and baked in preheated oven at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes. (Halibut is an excellent source of high-quality protein & minterals, low in sodium, fat, & calories!)
A very easy & delicious meal! Everyone loved it. After eating, we worked on my parents’ new hummingbird puzzle while watching old home movies of Emigrant Gulch, Old Chico, & my Great Uncle Elvin. He’s such a character! One of my favorites is a documentary a schoolteacher did of Elvin’s life as a gold prospector & animal trapper in the 1970’s. Such a hard (but interesting) lifestyle! And now, in continuing with my mood of the “classics,” I’m about to watch Marilyn Monroe’s Some Like It Hot, while Travis does some leather work...
~Rating of Fresh Berry Medley: 5 stars (out of 10)
~Quote of the day: "Surround yourself with people who respect & treat you well." -Claudia Black
~Music while cooking: Frank Sinatra Live In Concert, & Feng Shui- The Blue Cliff Ensemble.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Recipe #3: Won't be repeated.

Travis spent yesterday icefishing with his dad & brother at Tongue River Reservoir. So tonight, we ate bass. We love fish, but we didn't love this concoction! At all. Travis managed to eat his quickly, but I'm still picking at mine. We had adapted the cookbook's Citrus Salmon recipe to fit our meal, and made our very own Citrus Bass. But it was way too citrus-y and Travis didn't like the fresh parsley. We don't even intend to re-do this recipe with salmon, we already know we won't like it. Which really is disappointing cause we excitedly flipped through the Chico Cookbook last night, finding the perfect recipe to try! The only good thing I can say about this fish is Travis & I had fun cooking it. Cooking is one of our favorite things to do together.
~Because of this meal, we've implemented a rating system. Travis, who has designated himself the official taste-tester during this adventure, gives the Citrus Bass: 5 stars (out of 10) and I give it 2 stars. (Our two previous recipes, we give the Gorgonzola Au Gratin Potatoes: 4 stars and the Orange Blossom Brownies: 7 stars.)
~Quote of the day: "The green hornet's caught more fish than you've lied about, Gustafson!" -from the hilarious movie Grumpy Old Men.
~Music while cooking: American Idol.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Recipes #1 & #2: The Vikings may have lost, but the food was good!

Its hard work being a devoted Vikings fan. Such an emotional roller coaster of HIGHS & LOWS! For the NFC Championship Game against the Saints, we cheered the Purple People Eaters on with my first two Chico recipes; Orange Blossom Brownies and Gorgonzola Au Gratin Potatoes. Not typical football food, nuh-uh, apparently I like to be different! And even though the MN Vikings lost with a devastating score of 31-28 in OT, at least the treats were TASTY and fueled our revved-up energy!

The game was very INTENSE, so the brownies, potatoes, & other snacks fulfilled our stress-eating. We accompanied them with "Vikings On A Stick," since I was excited to find the recipe online (click here for the recipe). Its the exact formula used at the Montana State Fair actually, and they were really really delicious. And, as it turns out, really really FILLING! We made ours with ground elk, veal, & pork, but really, a person could experiment with a variety of different meats. I’m sure we’ll make those again someday since the website says they're popular at Nordic gatherings, and we sure do love our theme nights! That little deep-fat fried goodness not only pays homage to our beloved Vikes, but also Travis’ Norwegian heritage. And they made us feel overly STUFFED too. I could have probably cut the recipe in half (or more) since after eating just two, we could definitely feel them sitting in our stomachs. Good to know, when we fry those lil suckers again, we should just make half a dozen instead of TWENTY-FIVE. And funny story, when I was at the store buying the ingredients, I ran into a guy wearing a Vikings hat. Upon chatting over spices & the upcoming nail-biting game, I discovered his family runs the Sons of Norway booth at the fair. Ha, I was making his grandmother’s recipe! What a small world.

The Orange Blossom Brownies were excellent, but then again, I’ve never met a bad brownie. These were unique with a slight, fresh, citrus taste to them. I used gluten-free flour, and really, no one would have ever guessed. I decided to use my grandma’s electric mixer, that has literally sat on a tucked-away shelf since I bought this house 7 years ago. I wonder what the last thing it made was. Grandma’s famous divinity fudge, perhaps? Regardless, it sure did stir better than my arms can! I bet Grandma was as thankful for that as I was. :) After last week’s playoff game where the Vikings demolished the Cowboys, Favre led the team in a funny "pants on the ground, hats to the side" chant taken from American Idol. So at the last minute I thought to write "Pants On The Ground" on the brownies and grabbed my pink Vikings hat to wear to the side. We were in full "Go Vikings" mode!

We got nearly A FOOT OF SNOW the day I made the brownies & potatoes. So after a morning of coffee with my girlfriends and an afternoon of snowshoeing with my hubby, an evening of baking was the perfect inclusion to a very wintery day. Everyone was leery about the Gorgonzola Au Gratin Potatoes having raisins mixed in, yes raisins, but it was surprisingly quite good! Well, I’ll be honest, our buddy Mikel ended up feeding his portion to the dog. But Travis & I enjoyed them! A very strong taste with the leeks & whipping cream, but delicious none the less. And I will probably make them again someday. The rich heaviness is good comfort food for a cold, snowy day. I’m eating the leftovers right now as I type, and they are so good…..
~Rating of Gorgonzola Au Gratin Potatoes: 4 stars (out of 10)
~Rating of Orange Blossom Brownies: 7 stars (out of 10)
~Quote of the day: "Life deals you a lot of lessons, some people learn from them, some people don’t." –Brett Favre, MN quarterback.
~Music while cooking: I usually have background music playing while messing around in the kitchen. Selections during these recipes; Dierks Bentley's Feel That Fire, Funk Volume 2, & Sugarland's Live On The Inside.

Anna & Chico

I watched Julie & Julia last week. Not a movie I thought I’d enjoy actually, but to my surprise, it was rather charming. And it got me thinking of how I have so many cookbooks, but have probably made only a handful of the recipes. Cooking is a fairly new hobby of mine. I never really liked doing it, until I had a husband who enjoyed eating my creations. (The fastest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, right?) And since my friend Jamie & I recently unearthed a new love for vintage aprons, cooking has taken on a whole new adventure! So just like in the movie, I selected a cookbook to work my way through. I shall make every dish in A Montana Table, Recipes from Chico Hot Springs Resort by Seabring Davis (2003). After a proper taste-test, I intend to blog my experience, again like the film, so I can enjoy reading about my antics 20 years from now. I’m not a writer or even a chef, per se, but I do like to tap into my creative side every now & then. And this little project feels like it could be a fun journey!
In a loud whimsical Julia Child accent, “Bon Appetit!”