Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Tasteful Countdown: The Great Mouse Detective

Cooking with oil I'm so brave!
We have hopefully finished our jaunt through the English recipes. The final Brit movie has been watched in the form of the Great Mouse Detective. For this I decided on Fish and Chips for Mom and Dad and Clucks and Fries for me. I didn't bake them, either, they were battered and fried. That's right I did the oil. Not mom, not dad, me! But I waited to cook with oil until after they were home. I still need my "spotter" incase something goes wrong.

Because of mom's gluten intolerance, I found a batter that could be used that would hopefully taste good and not involve a gluten flour. A quick internet search came up with a batter that is really quite tasty! We did both the chicken and fish (halibut) in the batter. Next time I will tweak it slightly for the chicken as dillweed was a little odd to have with ketchup and chicken. That could just be me, though.

Fish & Chips for dinner. Gluten free and yummy.
The fries were a recipe I've been wanting to try for several years now. When Olympic Champion Brian Boitano had his show on the Food Network, he did an episode with twice fried french fries. I've been wanting to try them ever since. I wasn't sure if they would go with the fish, so I tweeted Boitano and he answered with a "yes!" so I took that as a sign to make Brian's "Pimp My Fries".

Everything came together easily, but the oil kept cooling way down so it took longer to make dinner than I anticipated. We didn't sit down to dinner until 8pm! Yikes! But it was well worth it because the food was delish! I had made dad a spicy tartar sauce for his fish - and he practically licked the bowl clean.

There were no leftovers!

For desert, I made mini lemon pound cakes. Dad's request. No glaze or compote. Just cake for dad. He took the rest to his men's group at church on Saturday. They made short work of it all.

All in all another successful meal. I'm getting good at this! With the Iditarod this weekend, I'm busy but we're still doing a movie meal. But it's going to be gourmet hotdogs for Oliver & Company.

Next time, no dillweed for the chicken.
GF Batter for fish - http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1617,128187-252192,00.html
Spicy Tartar sauce - http://www.justapinch.com/recipes/sauce-spread/other-sauce-spread/spicy-tarter-sauce.html
Pimp My Fries - http://www.brianboitano.com/recipes-pimp-my-fries.shtml
Lemon Pound Cake - http://www.simply-gourmet.com/2012/08/187-lemon-pound-cake-with-cherries.html

Monday, February 25, 2013

#Iditarod 41 - Tonichelle's Top Ten

A member of Snowhook Kennel at the
start of the Tustumena 200 earlier this
year. They are running in the Iditarod.
I'm late to the game - not because I've lost interest, but because working for a top team makes life a little hectic these days (can't imagine why). Iditarod is just 5 days away. We're going up again to do the start and restart (volunteering on Saturday, and then I'm working Sunday for the boss).

Please note that this is just my personal opinion. This does not reflect on any team/musher. I do work for some of the top dawgs in the sport, but my admiration goes beyond that kennel. I have grown up adoring so many of these amazing mushers and teams that I am not biased by just one person who may or may not sign a check every month for me. ;)

Seriously, though, I work for a great family of mushing legends. I can't say I'm not biased towards them, but at the same time - I've always liked other mushers more. Since knowing and working for the Seavey family I have grown to admire them far more than I would have if I'd just continued as a spectator (though I was a fan of Dallas well before I started working for him).

All this ramble to say - I am doing my very best to remain objective. The top ten may not be my top 10 favorites (though a lot of them are). I am just hoping that I don't jinx anyone with my picks. I'm pretty good at jinxing folks, so I'm crossing my fingers this doesn't end up killing a lot of teams' runs for the win.

Tonichelle's Top 10

1. Aliy Zirkle - she has been steadily climbing the ranks as one of the big time contenders over the last few years. She nearly had it last season, Dallas beat her in the very last push. She barely lost the Yukon 300 a few weeks back, and Allen - her husband - won the Quest with their A team. The team she's running in the Iditarod. The loss last year was a bittersweet one. Aliy's not going to want that feeling again. She's hungry and she's got a great team going.

2. Dallas Seavey - in most sports they say the first time defending your title is always the hardest. Even the most prepared begin to doubt their abilities and chances. I am not doubting that Dallas will put in just as smart and effort as last year. Last year he had a band of misfits take him to the prize. This year he's got mainly a new team, his star dogs from the championship team have been retired. We haven't seen much of Dallas this season - he opted not to run in the other races, instead sending his handlers out to do a few races. His team just won the Jr. Iditarod at the hands of Jr. Iditarod rookie Noah Pereira. Pereira barely beat out Seavey's younger brother Conway for the win.

3. Mitch Seavey - Mitch is taking much of the same team as last year to Nome this year. The only reason the team didn't hit Nome first last year was due to Mitch being suckered in to push the team too early. They ran out of gas before the coast. Mitch's team is completely capable of taking it all the way. They just have to know when to go, take the opportune moment and go. Wait it out, and then... GO. It's not like Mitch doesn't know what it takes or how to win. He did it in 2004, and his team surprised him at the Tustumena200 this year. It can happen, and this year looks very good.

4. Ramey Smyth - He came out of nowhere and almost threw a wrench into Dallas and Aliy's run last year. His team was far back in the back due to a stomach illness, but once they were over that there was no stopping them. They made up for lost time in a hurry, but ran out of trail before they could catch the leaders. I remember being on the phone with Dallas' brother Danny when Smyth made his move. There was dead silence on the other end of the phone, and then an "Uh, oh.... well..." I expect him to do well again this year, too.

5. Cim Smyth - Let's face it, the Smyth brothers have the market for that final push speed. So many mushers lament that they wish they knew the secret on how to get those dogs to go into that final gear and go all out to the finish line. I've seen the magic first hand, and Cim is well capable of going and getting the title. It's about time someone in the Smyth family take the prize.

6. John Baker - Another former Iditarod Champion. A repeat just wasn't in the cards last year. Baker's advice he gives to all mushers is race to win. If you aren't running to win, you never will. John is one of those silent types. His persona reminds me of the addage "slow and steady wins the race." Not that Baker's slow, far from it, he's just totally calm in his approach.

7. Jake Berkowitz - He pulled a Mitch Seavey last year and cut his hand badly which ended the race early for him. He's had a fantastic race season this year, and placed 4th in this year's Quest. Berkowitz suffered a devastating loss when his dog General passed away suddenly during the race (but not because of it, according to Jake's blog it was an undetected issue that would have come to light no matter what). He'll be running in General's memory, no doubt.

8. Jeff King - After hanging it up several years ago, Jeff found his mojo again and returned to the sport he has dominated for most of his life. Jeff scratched several checkpoints from Nome after his incredibly young team quit on him. He stayed with them, shielding them from the brutal wind, until race officials went out to check on him. He officially scratched and they brought he and his team to safety. Jeff has let it be known he's here to be competitive, and his kennel is working hard to get him back into the top. I have high hopes for King this year.

9. Aaron Burmeister - Like Jeff, Aaron recently came out of retirement to race again. Burmeister gave his top team to Dallas a couple years back. The team Dallas took to Nome last year had a lot of Burmeister's dogs (and King's). Go figure. Aaron's team gave a valliant effort last year, I have no doubt he can pull off a top 10 again this year.

10. Jodi Bailey - I had to think long and hard on where and who my top ten, and this may be my most biased pick of the top ten, but Jodi gets a nod. Dew Claw Kennel is steadily rising in the ranks as a kennel to watch. Jodi's husband just had a Top Ten finish in the Quest, and she did very well in the Yukon 300. Last year she ran down Lance Mackey to beat him in the Iditarod. Not too shabby. I'm not saying she's a lock for the top 10 (to do that she'd have to jump 13 places from last year), but I have high hopes for this team.

You may wonder why I left off some of the big names - like DeeDee Jonrowe, Paul Gebhardt, Martin Buser, and Lance Mackey - and the reason is simple... I know they can make the top 10, but I'm just not sure of their chances this year. The field is so competitive. Any one of them could take Baker's place, or Bailey's, or Burmeisters. Ray Reddington, Jr. is also another spoiler for top 10. Travis Beals is one of the rookies that could blow the top ten wide open if his team so chooses to make that leap.

Overall this highly competitive field is going to be amazing to watch and I have a feeling it's going to be a nail biter to the end.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Tasteful Countdown: The Rescuers

Not a fan of seafood, but mom and dad are. Yuck.
So Dad had to go up to Anchorage for training the week after Toy Story so we rescheduled the movie for the next week. This would not have been a big deal had it not been for the fact that my dad loves the rescuers movies (though I found out he likes the rescuers down under way more) and because the first movie happens in the Bayou and the menu I chose he was very excited for.

Thankfully the wait did not disappoint. My dad had several helpings of what I had to offer. Mom did too. It was very good, though for me I didn't like the proteins it called for. Oh well, this isn't *just* about me, right?! So I made two types of the sauce.

The menu was a pasta dish and garlic bread. I was too pooped to do a dessert and as rich as dinner was it wasn't missed. I made a cajun style alfredo with Shrimp and Andoulle sausage over fettacine. I did not make the pasta, but everything else was from scratch and fresh. I made a smaller batch without the shrimp, just the sausage, for myself, and served it with garlic bread.

It was delish. Dad couldn't stop talking about it! He ate his fair share and then some, and then he let it be known he was getting any leftovers for lunch. Except he didn't get my leftovers. I took those to Kassy's. She told me she thought it was better than any pasta dish at Paradisos (Kenai's Greek-Italian-Mexican restaurant that I love). So I have to say this has to be one of the most successful dishes I've made to date!

Without the seafood. So good! A little spicy but not bad.

Find the recipe here: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/cajun-shrimp-andouille-alfredo-sauce-over-pasta-10000001033054/

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Tasteful Countdown: Toy Story

Pizza, Cake, and a movie, what could be better?
January 31st marked Duane's 18th birthday. It also landed on a Thursday, so we mixed the two together. Duane's big party would happen that weekend, so we did a small deal with just us and his best friend. It worked out great because Toy Story was one of his favorites when he was small - and it has that "army man" element so we could still do the "Go Army" so it wasn't totally cheesey.

Well, there was cheese - I made homemade pizzas. Thanks to my awesome new KitchenAid pizza dough was so easy! I loved how simple it was, and for the first time of me making the dough I have to say it was excellent. I used a recipe a friend gave me, but didn't put in the total amount of yeast that it called for. It still rose well, and it didn't taste yeasty. A win-win for me as I hate the taste of yeast!

I forgot to save some white frosting for stars on the blue.
I also baked a cake from scratch - the first one I did the night before and it didn't go very well. I tried another recipe the day of and it came out better than the first, but I think I'm over mixing with the KitchenAid. I will have to keep working on it. However, I loved how the camo effect came out. That's right, I made a camo cake! The cake was green, brown, and black inside. It was frosted red white and blue and had toy army men in honor of both the movie and Duane's love of the Army.

The cake was two layers and had a chocolate mousse filling. It was pretty good and I'm not a cake fan.

You might be asking what my mom ate with all of this gluten loaded food - for the cake she had the mousse only (we had a lot more mousse than we did cake. It was not what we planned. Not sure what happened there. For the pizza we tried the pinterest craze of the cauliflower crust. It really works and it tastes great -and I hate cauliflower! Mom was happy enough with it - she still misses the regular crust, but at least she's found something that she not only can stomach but likes! Just a tip - use a ricer not a grater. The ricer looks to give you more cauli-meal for the crust.

With two 18 year old boys plus the three adults, we ate all but a couple of slices of pizza (we made four plus moms!) and ate half a cake. All in all a success even with the cake issues.

Very proud of how the camo came out! AWESOME!
Pizza Crust recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/basic-pizza-dough-recipe/index.html
Cauliflower crust recipe: http://whatsfordinner-momwhatsfordinner.blogspot.com/2012/06/cheesy-garlic-cauliflower-bread-sticks.html

Oh! The week of Toy Story also brought our first bit of DISNEY MAIL! We all know how much I LOVE Disney Mail. And it was Toy Story themed mail at that! How awesome!

Disney Mail is almost as good as being there!