Wednesday, October 31, 2012

WIAW: Dia de los Muertos

Happy Halloween, all the way from Montana. Though we had no real plans for the holiday, I managed a last minute costume for trick-or-treaters - let's just say that the rest of the costume involved black leggings with sequins (but the best part was Scrappy's matching collar!). Apparently it wasn't too bad of a choice since I just got hit on by a group of high school? err, middle school boys? at the door. Perhaps that was my fault - after all, I did tell the one boy that I liked the pikachu pillowcase he was using to collect candy.

With the general lack of trick-or-treaters though, we have about half a bowl of candy left. Even worse, it's all of our favorites - Snickers for me, Peanut M&M's for Trevor. Plus, the credit union where I work has been celebrating "customer appreciation month" since the start of October, I've eaten far too much candy - after all, there's been a huge bowl of it just four feet from my desk. Ugh.

While I'd like to say that this post is going to be full of healthy salads and carrot sticks to balance out all of the chocolate - it's not. Instead, we've been eating lots of filet, lots of bratwurst, and too many sweet potatoes in an effort to battle the cold weather that's settled in. (Though today's sunny 60's weather just might be proving me wrong.)

Today, though, in honor of Dia de los Muertos - and my love of Mexican food - Trevor made the world's best nachos for dinner. You may think I'm exaggerating but really people, chicken? smoked cheddar cheese? guacamole? salsa fresca? I've never had better. That's why I thought I'd share them for this week's What I Ate Wednesday, hosted by Jenn over at Peas and Crayons. (Was my last WIAW post really in September?!)

Making your own is easy, so easy, that I'm not even giving you real directions. For these, we combined Nacho Cheese Doritos and Mission Tortilla Chips - healthy, right? Then, we topped them with sauteed chicken prepared with taco seasoning. The key to nachos is in the layers and the next was made of refried beans, black beans, sweet corn, red onion and poblano peppers. The cheese on top? Grated smoked cheddar and monterey jack.

We suggest baking at 450 until the cheese is melted. Though a spring form pan isn't a typical choice for baking nachos, it worked out perfectly for our heaping pile of chips and melted cheese.

After the nachos come out of the oven, you'll want to top them with heaping piles of guacamole and salsa fresca. While you can find my favorite guac recipe here, salsa fresca is simple! Simply combine red onion, roma tomato, scallions and cilantro to taste. Then, toss it in a mixture of vinegar and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper, then pile it on top of your nachos... as well as breakfast the next day. To be completely honest with you, it has become a staple in our house lately.

For now, I'm off to watch a scary movie with Trevor - I'll try not to eat my fearful emotions and consume the still half-full bowl of candy on the table. Considering another group of non-costumed teenager boys just knocked on the door, I'm finding that awfully difficult.

"Trick or treat!"
"Nice costumes. What are you guys supposed to be?"
"I'm a teenage boy."
"God you're hot."

I'll take that as a compliment. Apparently I must not have gained ten pounds from all those Snickers I've eaten.

What's your favorite Halloween candy?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ten on Tuesday: Great Food in Santa Fe

With snowy weather settling into Montana, likely for good, I've found myself spending far too much time browsing for winter flights to somewhere warm and sunny. As you know, I spend most of the year with a severe cast of wanderlust. Though I have a soft spot for Arizona, I think Trevor's heart will always be in New Mexico, a place that he once called home. After last week's collaboration for some great halloween flicks, we thought we would try it again. So, this week, we're bringing you a list of ten great restaurants in and around Santa Fe - our personal cure for the traveling blues. Whether you're an experienced traveler or looking to plan your first cross country trip, Santa Fe is a great place to start - especially if you're a fan of great food.

Though many vacation locales claim to have many fabulous restaurants, Santa Fe is unique in that all of the restaurants listed below are locally owned. While each has its own unique specialities, all feature an impressive menu. That being said, the interior and decor might not be what you expect. As Trevor would say, great food comes from great food. Here, in no particular order, are his ten favorite places to eat in and around Santa Fe:

1 // La Boca is a Spanish tapas restaurant that can hardly be compared to any other, and this comes from a man who loves tapas. Chef/Owner James Campbell Caruso not only prepares authentic spanish dishes but he does so with fresh ingredients provided by the Santa Fe Farm to Restaurant program. Though some of Santa Fe's culinary claims lack in decor, La Boca features a compact, quaint and cozy atmosphere with a great wine selection. Curious yet? Check out the menu here.

2 // Vinaigrette features locally grown ingredients, as well; but, rather than employing an outside farm, during the peak season, owner Erin Wade provides seventy percent of the bistro's produce from her own 10-acre farm. As Trevor would describe it, "Just go. I could tell everyone how great the multitude of fresh and vibrant salad combinations are but I'll never do it justice." In addition to great fresh salads (with ingredients like diver scallops and lemon-herb chickens), Vinaigrette also offers patio seating, and a dozen salad-friendly wines.

3 // Dinner for Two always features a great fresh fish entree created by Chef Andy Barnes, a New Mexico native. Like other Santa Fe restaurants, Dinner for Two also works with the Farm to Restaurant Project. Perhaps the best part, though, is the fresh made dinner bread baked just before service each day.

4 // Bobcat Bite is known for what Trevor insists is the world's best green chile bacon cheeseburger, and like I've said before, that boy loves his green chile. (He may be on to something though, the restaurant and it's burger have been featured in all kinds of magazines, and was even on Food Network!) While Santa Fe has plenty of downtown restaurants, Bobcat Bite is off the beaten path on Old Las Vegas Highway. Make sure to get their early, as the historic building features limited seating. Trevor suggests that upon arriving, writing your name on the board and get ready to enjoy the juiciest burger of your life.

5 // Zia Diner is a staple of the Santa Fe food scene. Typical of any diner, the Zia has a large menu full of classic diner cuisine, but also authentic New Mexican. That being said, the quality goes above and beyond any basic diner, the Zia uses grass-fed, additive-free beef and free-range chicken and eggs - plus, the menu is marked for gluten free options. While visiting Santa Fe a few months ago, Trevor made sure to make a trip to the diner for his favorite breakfast, heuvos rancheros and local, organic, fair-trade Agapao Coffee. In addition to offering classic diner fare, the Zia also has a bar behind the main dining room and a wide variety of drinks.

6 // The Red Enchilada serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, all with classic New Mexican dishes. As Trevor simply put it, "So simple. So good. Huevos rancheros with red chile? Wow!" If heuvos rancheros aren't your thing as they certainly aren't mine, this Santa Fe favorite also offers classics like pupusas and enchiladas.

7 // Tribe's Coffeehouse is home to the biggest, heartiest sandwiches in south side Santa Fe. Served on the freshest locally baked bread, they're made with the best meats and cheeses and the freshest of vegetables. On top of that, the coffeehouse features the best homemade soups. If breakfast is more your thing, Tribe's also offers a large selection of New Mexican dishes - not to mention they also feature the best hot or cold coffee and espresso drinks.

8 // Santa Fe Baking Company is a quirky place to grab a quick and delicious breakfast - with entrees like Steak and Eggs, Trevor's favorite. For lunch, the cafe serves up tasty sandwiches, along with more traditional southwestern fare.

9 // Michael's Kitchen is located outside of Santa Fe in the town of Taos. As soon as you walk in, the homemade baked goods and pastries will catch your eye - that is, if you don't spot a celebrity first. In addition, Michael's Kitchen also offers an extensive menu with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Trevor suggests the Stuffed Sopapilla filled with beans, cheese, onions, and ground beef. Trevor's favorite part, though?  Topped with green and red chile. Want to try it his way? Just say "Christmas", the locals will know what you mean.

10 // Frankie's Casanova is another perfect choice for breakfast - try the pinon nut pancakes or a breakfast enchilada. The atmosphere adds to the experience with a bar that looks like it is straight out of the wild west. Plus, it's in the scenic little town of Pecos, 25 miles north of Santa Fe.

So tell us, is good food part of your travel itinerary? What's your favorite town to eat in? 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ten on Tuesday: Howl-O-Ween Theatre

With the creepiest of holidays approaching, even the horror-movie averse find themselves searching for an appropriate film to get in the Halloween spirit. Being unknowledgeable in the realm of scary movies, I recruited my boyfriend (also known as Rudedog Chew) for his cult film knowledge. I'm excited to say that this Ten on Tuesday list will provide you with more than enough films for the last week leading up to Halloween.  And, I'm proud to say, I've even made it through a few of the movies on this list... Though, I guess that means they might not be that scary. After all, we all know that I only watch horror movies under a blanket with desperate pleas to change the channel. While making this list, we thought of countless films worthy of watching but hopefully these ten will leave you unable to pick up the remote. Though you likely won't find these classic films in RedBox, you can click on each title to rent or purchase the film from Amazon.

But, without further ado, here's Trevor to tell you just which films to see this Halloween season:

1// Bram Stoker's Dracula is the truest-to-form Dracula movie we've seen. And, since it's directed by Francis Ford Coppola, from costume to storyline - everything's epic til the end. (Plus, it's kind of a love story, so it get's Jen's approval, too.)

2// The Crow will always be known for it's unfortunate on-set mishap. That being said, it's also the film that put Brandon Lee over the top despite his untimely death during the movie's filming. As an added bonus, it has a cool soundtrack. Very gritty and very dark, it's a perfect film for Halloween.

3// Wolfen is a suspense-thriller that follows Native America lycans as they commit murders through the South Bronx. A seasoned police detective unearths the truth about the situation and has to take the law into his own hands.

4// House of 1000 Corpses is Rob Zombie's 2003 take on the 1980's retro horror films. For that reason, we suggest you watch Wolfen or The Howling before this cliche tale of teenagers lost in the backwoods of Texas. Though the story line might be unoriginal, the film features Rob Zombie's own macabre style and is definitely worth a watch.

5// 30 Days of Night is about the only vampire movie that Jen can stand, let alone watch with her eyes open . The vampires are bad ass; the thought of 30 Alaskan days without sunlight, terrifying. And well, you do the math.

6// Nightbreed is full of cool costumes and cooler monsters. This film by Clive Barker tells the tale of a town of monsters and mutants who must escape from the terror brought on by a psychotic serial killer (played by famous director David Cronenberg) and redneck vigilantes. If you have any doubt about watching, it may help to know that the film features our fine American actor and York, PA native, Craig Sheffer.

7// The Lost Boys is a cult classic that features perhaps the creepiest of actors, Keifer Sutherland and one of the 80's favorite pairs, the two Coreys. The movie tells the story of a family harassed by teenage vampires after moving to a California beach town plagued with strange deaths.

8// The Exorcist III may not be the most obvious choice but with Brad Dourif's performance as the Gemini Killer, a demon who haunts Father Karras' soul, the film is even more bone-chilling than it's predecessors. And for those of you wondering, this horror story makes sense even without having seen the first film in the series.

9// The Howling features a rehabilitation center, The Colony, whose werewolf residents aren't expected by the TV newswoman sent to live at the center .. Really, hippie werewolves, what more could you ask for?

10// Pumpkinhead is another cult classic, released in 1988. In this creepy tale, a man conjures a gigantic demon to seek vengeance against the teenagers who were responsible for his son's death.

So tell us, what are your favorite Halloween movies? 
Jen's? Halloweentown.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Now my life is sweet like cinnamon.

This week, I've been reveling in puppy love and the fun that comes with "Uncle Trevor."

On Monday, Trevor's family arrived from Pennsylvania - his mom, his sister, and as Trevor will always call her, Baby Shay. Having visitors has meant days of big home-cooked meals, drives up the "mountain", RedBox movies, our favorite gluten free pizza, and lunch breaks together at the Montana Club. In between, there has been a lot of giggling, puppy smothering, and episodes of Dora.

Having visitors has also made me appreciate how we've settled into our new home. It's now Andaconda, and god forbid I have to drive to Safeway (it's only two miles away, people.) I've even taken to calling lollipops, "suckers" and making claims about the weather. Perhaps most surprising? I welcomed last night's snow flurries with open arms and this mornings bitter cold weather with my winter coat and an appreciation for the beautiful place we call home. 

It's interesting how quickly a new place with unfamiliar streets, strange accents and peculiar traits can become home. When you no longer struggle to write the correct zip code, when the area code before phone numbers becomes second nature, when a day with both 70 degree sun and snow flurries no longer feels surprising.

How do you know when a new town, a new house, a new state, has become home?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Gluten Free Apple & Almond Crisp

As the weather cools, we've found ourselves in the kitchen more. It's a mix of things, really - the nights are getting darker earlier, we've been craving fall flavors, and the heat of the oven helps to warm the house against the Montana fall. The long weekend passed by slowly as Trevor fought with a sore back and the start of a flu and on Columbus Day, I found myself itching for something to do. We had woken up early - it was still dark and still cold. So, armed with a few leftover apples and some Udi's Granola, I decided to make apple crisp for breakfast.

Our weekly grocery shopping had been pushed back a day and so every ingredient used for the recipe was already in our home. If you don't have prepackaged granola, feel free to make your own with some old-fashioned or quick cooking oats! While apple crisp is typically made with more tart, baking style, apples, we used what we had and red delicious are Trevor's apples of choice. Though the almonds added an extra crunch, you can omit them or replace them with other nuts - pecans would be especially good!

This recipe will make a smaller batch, a 9x9 glass dish full. This was perfect for breakfast and later, dessert, for both of us. But, if you need a bigger batch, double the recipe and use a 9x13 pan!

4 Red Delicious Apples, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup and 1 tbsp of Gluten Free Bisquick (or regular all purpose flour)
1 tsp Cinnamon
Pinch of Nutmeg
1 tbsp White Sugar
1/4 cup of Brown Sugar
2/3 cup of Udi's Gluten Free Au Naturel Granola
1/4 tsp of Baking Powder
1/4 tsp of Baking Soda
6 tbsp of Brown Butter 
1/3 cup of Sliced Almonds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Grease a 9x9 glass baking dish.
Lay apple slices evenly in the baking dish.
Sprinkle apples with 1 tbsp of white sugar, 1 tbsp of Bisquick, 1 tsp of cinnamon and a sprinkle of nutmeg.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients.
Then, brown your butter. (This was my first time but I followed this great tutorial from Hot Sweet It Is.)
... how have I not mentioned my obsession with this food blog? 
Combine the butter with the dry ingredients; then sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples.
Bake for 30 minutes or until apples are fork tender and the topping is golden.

For Trevor's breakfast, I put the hot apple crisp over cinnamon and vanilla gluten-free pancakes, our favorite. The crisp itself wasn't overly sweet so the addition of a little maple syrup was perfect. I chose to have the more classic preparation - I simply poured some cream over the crisp. Served with a piping hot cup of coffee or cocoa, this was the perfect fall breakfast.

I'll be back tomorrow to tell you all about autumn in our little home. It includes plenty of pumpkins, that wreath I told you about and well, we got a puppy.

So tell me, what is your favorite fall breakfast? 

Monday, October 8, 2012

It's fall, baby.

Though it's already snowed in Montana, I found my first hints of fall last week - despite Pennsylvania's typical humid, warm, September weather). After a week filled with packing boxes, moving furniture and preparing to ship my life 2200 miles away, I snuck away for an afternoon of pumpkins, hale bays, and my favorite family. As much as I love our mountains and big skies, being away from these three makes living in Montana hard. I made sure to spend as much time as possible loving on this little babe, and squeezing his little baby toes. 

We took a drive just outside of York to Barefoot Farm - a local pick-your-own pumpkin patch. With homemade apple dumplings and hot soup, it's the perfect place to take your family as the weather starts to cool. Fairly priced pumpkins, a straw fort, and hay rides all scream "autumn". While we simply enjoyed the atmosphere and took a few photos, there is plenty to entertain the whole family on a fall afternoon. While, I wish we had something like it here in the Treasure State, I suppose I'll just have to settle for store bought pumpkins.

Though I come from a family not big on tradition, I'm trying to bring little traditions to our Montana life. This weekend marked a big fall cleaning - hours of scrubbing, rearranging, organizing, and decorating. Family photos were hung on the walls; autumn scented candles were lit. A fall banner hangs from our mantle and tomorrow, pumpkins and indian corn will join. In the next few weeks, I hope to make this apple sangria, drink lots of hot cocoa, have one last bonfire, create autumn wreaths for our doors, and host family & friends for home-cooked and hearty meals. Perhaps I can even convince Trevor to carve pumpkins or visit a corn maze

So tell me, what are your fall traditions?