Relaxation Station

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Slightly unfortunate placement of grass : )

I recently made one of the best purchases ever. In anticipation of our fall trip to Hawaii (still saving for plane tickets, but I am optimistic!) I bought a huge floppy sun hat! I am not a hat wearer, I don’t think I’ve ever even worn a baseball hat, but since I live in sunny Colorado I figured it was a justifiable purchase. My last day off was a perfect sunny day to sit outside and drink some Redneck Mimosas (recipe to follow) aka BO-J’s while reading and wearing my wonderful Audrey Hepburn-esqu sunhat!

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Channeling Audrey Hepburn in my new hat and striped dress

I found this dress with nautical stripes and cinch waist at the thrift store, and I think it goes perfectly with the hat and shades! I added a thrifted rope belt for more of a nautical feel and black rouched wedges (from the thrift shop as well!). I’m ready for the yacht club now!

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Rope belt, $3 at thrift shop.

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Yikes, those legs need some sun! Black rouched wedges, $3 at thrift shop

My most recent book was Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. This is an epic story about one woman’s journey on the PCT, solo. It was a pretty quick read and totally sucked me in. However It did NOT make me want to strike out on this trail that runs basically from Mexico to Washington state. I can hardly handle a 10 mile hike, let alone 2,663 miles! No thanks, it’s not in my DNA. I’d much rather sit in the sun, drink some beertails and read about it! 

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This book was great, and the beertails were even better!

 

So about those “beertails”. A few years ago my friend Brett introduced me to the BO-J. I know, it sounds a little dirty, but it basically is beer and orange juice mixed together. It is similar to a Brass Monkey (malt liquor and OJ) but is much classier. Brett’s version consists of Corona, which you drink down to just below the neck then add OJ to the top. But like most recipes I had to put my own spin on it!

BO-J (or Redneck Mimosa)

Bud Light

Mango Lemonade

Mason jar

1. Open can

2. Pour in Mason jar

3. Add Mango lemonade

4. Drink up!

I use about 1/2 cup lemonade, but use more or less depending on your taste.

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The recipe of the summer!

This is a wonderful refreshing drink on a nice summer day, and perfect for a backyard BBQ! You can also use other juice, I’ve made it with an orange, mango, and pineapple juice before and it was awesome! Do some experimenting and let me know what you come up with! Maybe you’ll hate it, but give it a try. People always look at me like I am crazy until they take a sip. Even my manly husband likes it!

So this is how I am keeping it classy in Colorado. What’s your go-to summer drink? Read any good books lately? Leave me some comments below!

Cheers,

J

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Isn’t it pretty?

 

Spicy Honey Almonds

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Roasted almonds with honey, cayenne pepper, and salt. Yummmmmmm!

I should really start playing the lottery, because I love having days off so much! This week my days off included disc golf, reading outdoors, cooking and thrift store shopping (of course)! I am still trying to figure out a way to photograph my thrifty finds with you, my loyal followers, but in the meantime I will share this wonderful recipe.

I got some almonds today while shopping. It took me a while, mulling over the the various flavors, to pick out what I wanted. Not as awkward as picking out a cucumber (hehe), but still I was standing in the produce section for a long time. Smoked, honey, roasted, plain?? All the fun flavors were a full dollar more! Finally I picked out some honey roasted almonds, and then had an “ah-ha!” moment- I can make my own! I threw some roasted salted almonds in my cart- the cheapest option- and I was on my way.

I went immediately to my friend Pinterest when I got home, and she returned many great recipes for honey roasted almonds. For those who are living under a rock Pinterest is the kitchen-sink of all great things you can find on the Internet. Recipes, crafts, photos, tattoos, decorating and more! You can find it all on Pinterest! I found this recipe from Lemons and Anchovies. As soon as I saw ‘spicy honey almonds’ I knew this was the recipe for me. I love spicy food!

So here’s the recipe. Omit the cayenne if you don’t want heat with your sweet and add cinnamon instead!

Spicy Honey Almonds

2- 2 1/2 cups raw almonds  (I used roasted and salted and cut down on overall salt in the recipe)

1/8 cup turbinado sugar ( I used some homemade vanilla sugar instead, since that’s what I had)

1/4 cup honey

3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3/4 teaspoon salt ( I used 1/2 tsp Hepp’s Salt Co. Aussie flake and sprinkled some Hepp’s truffle salt on at the end)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. I used aluminum foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Do the same if using parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine salt and sugar. Set aside.

Heat honey over low-med heat. Add cayenne and stir together with almonds until coated. Spread in single layer on baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool slightly, then toss with salt/sugar mix. Pour almonds back onto parchment/aluminum foil placed over cooling rack, sprinkle with truffle salt if desired, and let cool completely.

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Delicious almonds chillin’ out!

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This jar will not last long, these nuts are awesome!

Store in an airtight container and try not to eat them all at once. WARNING: THESE ARE ADDICTIVE!

While it is back to work tomorrow. At least I have an awesome ( and I like to think fairly healthy) snack to get me through the day!

What is your favorite snack to get you through a long day?

Nuts to the Nutty,

J

RAWR…A Vacation with the Dinosaurs (and a Tomatillo dressing recipe!)

 

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If I was a dinosaur I would be an Allosaurus! Wall of Bones, Dinosaur National Monument

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. We just had inventory at work, which involves a lot of prep work, and both my coworkers have been on vacation/daddy leave. But finally it was my turn to vacation, so C and I took a little road trip to Dinosaur National Monument in Northwest Colorado/Northeastern Utah. There are two entrances to this park, and both are beautiful. 

We took our time on the 4 hour drive, and my wonderful husband even stopped at two thrift stores in Craig, Colorado! Among our treasures were a copy of A Clockwork Orange, a book on conversational German for my father-in-law, a coral pink button up with a subtle bird print for me, and a pair of leather Sperry Topsiders, new! Sperry is one of my favorite brands but unfortunately these were a full size too small. But for $3.50 I couldn’t pass them up and I will try to sell them at the local consignment shop!

It was a bit rainy, and C’s back hurt from being in the car for hours, so once we got to our destination we decided to get a hotel room. Score! We never stay in hotels and camping in the rain was not very appealing. Our stay also included breakfast, double score!

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Dino outside our hotel in Vernal Utah

While in Vernal we discovered Cafe Rio. This is comparable to Qdoba but so much better! Located in 10 states this ‘good food quickly’ eatery focuses on fresh ingredients, and it shows. C got a pork burrito, made with their homemade tortillas that are cooked in front of you, and I got the shredded chicken salad. It weighed at least 2 pounds, and in addition to chicken and lettuce it had rice, pico de gallo, guac, and the most wonderful dressing! All served on their tortilla. Tonight I recreated their tomatillo dressing, following a recipe I found from Chef in Training. Follow the link for all sorts of great Cafe Rio-inspired recipes! 

I have never cooked with tomatillo, but this is a dressing I will whip up often because it is so good! I could almost take shots of it I love it so much. But enough gushing, here’s the recipe!

Cafe Rio Tomatillo Ranch dressing

I packet dry buttermilk ranch mix (I used Simply Organic brand ranch mix)

1/2 cup mayo

1/2 cup 0% fat greek yogurt

1 cup buttermilk

bunch cilantro, chopped

2 tomatillo, husked and diced

1 large jalapeno, seeded and diced

few shakes of garlic powder

juice from 1 lime

Blend mayo, yogurt, dressing mix, buttermilk, and garlic powder until smooth. Add tomatillo, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime juice. Blend until smooth and creamy. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Yummmy!

But I digress. Back to the dinosaurs!

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The Wall of Bones

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The Wall of Bones

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View from the Wall of Bones

After a restful night sleep at the hotel and a (subpar but free) breakfast buffet we headed into the park. There is a large building built around the wall of bones, which is pretty impressive. I’m sure I would have learned a lot from the Ranger if it wasn’t for the 30 or so preteens on a school trip having a great (loud) time. Needless to say we didn’t spend much time gazing at the bone wall!

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We continued on our way driving through the park. The scenery was amazing, and there were lots of petroglyphs along the way. There is also an old homestead at the end of the Utah side of the park, where in 1913 a woman built a cabin and lived alone for almost 50 years. She must have been a pretty strong lady!

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After exploring the homestead it was time to be heading back to our homestead. But first we drove the 30 miles or so on Harpers Corner Road to the Colorado part of the park. No fossils on the Colorado side, but we saw a lot of antelope, some amazing scenery, and only 2 other people! We took a nice 2 mile walk out to a beautiful vista at the end of the park. It was a great way to end our visit to Dinosaur National Monument!

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Harper’s Corner Road, Dinosaur National Park. Dinosaur, CO. My dear husband made me take my sunglasses off, I couldn’t see so I look a little squinty!

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Harper’s Corner Road, Dinosaur National Park. Dinosaur, CO.

While we didn’t have much time to really get into vacation mode we were able to see a lot and spend some quality time together. I love exploring new places with my husband, and can’t wait for our next adventure together!

Where have you been lately? And where are you going next?

Enjoy your adventures,

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AAAH, a T-REX!!!! Oh wait, it’s just a bunny. I had a moment with this little critter, I just love bunnies so much!

Waste Not – Making Chicken Stock

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Before…..

As I mentioned in my Thriftin’ and Chick’n post a few days ago I like to make homemade chicken stock from the leftover carcass of a roasted bird. Sure, it’s so easy to grab a can from the cabinet, but what fun is there in that? And have you ever really looked at the stuff coming out of those cans? It’s really gross, with bits and pieces of mystery substances floating in it. I’d much rather make my own. Not only is it healthier but it also makes use of the whole bird so you don’t waste a bit. Well, other than the innards shoved in the cavity of the bird. I forgot I was making stock and threw those away. 

After you roast a bird and enjoy a succulent chicken dinner there tends to be a lot of meat left over, at least in a household of two. Once the chicken cools I pull as much meat off the bones as I can and put it in the fridge for chicken salad, stir fry, soup, etc. Then the fun begins! Ok, so it’s really not that fun or exciting. But it is easy and makes the house smell wonderful! Just make sure you’ll be able to stay near the stove for a couple hours. You don’t want to burn the house down for a few cups of broth!

What You Need:

– Carcass of 5 lb chicken, including skin and innards (if you remembered to keep them and they don’t gross you out)

– 1 onion, quartered. I like to leave the skin on, it gives great color to the stock

– 3 ribs celery, cut into large chunks

– 4 carrots, cut in large chunks

– 3-4 cloves garlic, smashed

– 3 sprigs parsley

– 2 bay leaves, pepper, any other spices you like- I add about 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, because I add them to everything! *

– 8 cups cold water 

*traditionally salt is not added to a stock, since it can make soups or sauces too salty  

What You Do:

Add carcass and chicken bits, vegetables, spices, and water to a large stock pot or dutch oven. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Let it simmer for at least four hours. Enjoy the smell of Thanksgiving in your house.

Now from here you could strain all the bones and other bits from the stock, let it cool, and throw it in the fridge to use as you like. Or you could cool it to room temperature and pour it into ice cube trays to freeze for future use. However I do it a little different. After I simmer it for about 4-5 hours (I’m a night owl so it’s easy to do) I take it off the heat, let it cool, and put the whole pot in the fridge overnight. I feel like this lets the flavors blend together even more. Then the next day I put it back on the stove, bring it to a boil and simmer for another hour or so. THEN I strain all the solids out of it and store it in a jar in the fridge. I feel like this yields the best results, but it could be in my mind and this extra step is probably not necessary.

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….And After! No more canned chicken stock for me!

Now once the stock starts to cool you’ll notice a layer of fat floating on top. I put it in the fridge like this and just skim the fat off after it solidifies. 

After this has been refrigerated for 12-24 hours you should notice it has thickened up and become gelatinous. Basically it will look like chicken jello, which would be pretty gross when you think about it. But this just means you did it right, and you did it well. When you simmer the bones long enough you extract collagen, which has many health benefits and makes for a gelatinous stock. Once it is heated it melts back into a wonderful liquid stock. For more information on stocks in general check this out!

And that’s it. If you have about 5 minutes to chop up some veggies and a few hours to babysit the stove then you can make this nutritious base for many meals to come!

What ways will you use your stock? Please share your recipes in the comment section below!

Bagawk!

J

 

Hot Diggity Dog!

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J’s Ultimate Dynamite Dog. The photo doesn’t do it justice!

Since I call myself the hungry thrifter I figure it’s about time I post about food. A few years ago I worked at a sushi restaurant called Foxnut, where i honed my chopstick skills and discovered a love for shichimi togarashi, aka Japanese 7 spice. Not to be confused with Chinese 5 spice, this blend usually consists of ground red chili pepper, ground sansho pepper, orange peel, black sesame seeds, white sesame seeds, hemp seeds, ground ginger, and nori. And it is delicious! Sprinkle it on rice, edamame, or popcorn, or make my spicy mayo (recipe below). It can be a little hard to find in the mountains of Colorado so  I order it online, from Amazon or Etsy. Most recently I ordered 1 oz. from Craig’s Market on Etsy for about $7 with shipping, and it will last me forever. A little goes a long way!

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Despite the spelling mistake and vague ingredient list, Craig’s Market 7 spice smells great! Store in glass jar to keep it fresh longer.

The Foxnut also introduced me to the awesomeness that is a kobe beef hotdog. These dogs had toppings like jalapenos, cilantro, soy and yuzu reductions, and spicy mayo. The dynamite dog was my absolute favorite, and I have learned to recreate it in my own kitchen. I also like to use this spicy mayo on turkey burgers or dip fries in it. YUM YUM!

J’s Ultimate Dynamite Dog

*All quantities are estimated, since I eyeball things and don’t make it the same way every time : )

Spicy Mayo

1/4 cup Mayo

1+ Tbsp. chili garlic paste

a few drops sriracha

1/2-1 tsp scichimi togarashi

squeeze of lime

Stir everything together. Let sit for 30 minutes or longer to let flavors meld. I like it pretty spicy, but you can add more or less srirachi and chili garlic paste according to your tastes.

Asian Slaw

5 cups chopped Napa cabbage

3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

3 Tbsp white sugar

2 tsp ginger

2 jalapeños, sliced thinly into rings

1/2 cup green onions, diced

salt and pepper

Heat vinegar and sugar over medium low heat until sugar melts. Remove from heat and stir in ginger and jalapeños. Pour warm dressing over cabbage and green onions and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Best served the same day it is prepared to keep its crispness.

The DOG

I prefer Boar’s Head natural casing wieners, but use whatever you prefer. I steam them in about 1/4 cup water on the stovetop for about 5 minutes, then pour off excess water and continue cooking over medium heat for another 5 minutes or so. They would also be excellent grilled. Toast some hot dog buns then add some slaw, the dog, and some spicy mayo. Serve with fries, rice, or chips.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

J