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Summertime Salsa

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So here in Kentucky summers can vary….we have some summers where the weather is ideal with temperatures in the low 80s….however, we have been experiencing a HEAT WAVE for the past few days with temperatures in the 90s!!! Yes!…you read correctly 90 degrees in Kentucky! In fact, today’s high is 92!!!! HOT!

When the weather gets this hot I tend to want to eat cool things…like salads, salsa and smoothies! So I was craving a good salsa… and when I say good I mean GOOD….not store bought! So of course when I am looking for a good recipe I grab one of my Pioneer Woman cookbooks…and of course I found one! Just a little side note Ree Drummon the Pioneer Woman is coming to Lexington for the Kentucky Proud Incredible Food Show on October 11, 2014…Oh and I will be there! Mark your calendars! She is my favorite!!!

Ok, ok back to the salsa. I used some can ingredients but if you can find fresh ingredients this time of year that would be best! I hope you enjoy!

Summertime Salsa
Summertime Salsa

 

Summertime Salsa

Ingredients

1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes with juice
2 10 oz. cans of Rotel (mild flavor)
1/4 cup chopped onion (you can use red onion or white onion)
1 clove garlic, minced
½ jalapeno, sliced with ribs and seeds removed
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 of a lime, juiced

Instructions

Combine all ingredients into a blender or food processor. Pulse about 10-15 times, or until you get it to the consistency you like. I prefer my salsa smoother than junkier so I pulse more than lese.

Refrigerate salsa for about an hour to allow the ingredients to merry and then serve with tortilla chips!

*You can use a food processor or a blender is smaller batches to make this recipe.

Adapted from: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/01/restaurant-style-salsa/

 

The Great Adventure Out West

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First Stop – Olympic National Park

So our morning started out pretty earlier….6:00 a.m. and that’s west coast time…we were used to Kentucky time.

Our flight landed in Seattle Friday night at 11:40 p.m. of course delayed…so we were running on about 3 hours of sleep and a Starbucks!!!!!!

On the road with Starbucks
On the road with Starbucks

So this was the farthest I had been a way from home and I felt like I was on the biggest adventure of my life.

My sister, dad, Handsome and I planned to travel from Olympic National Park and work our way to Glacier National Park and finish at Yellowstone National Park.

So I’m not proud of this next pic but the roads out there seem to be nothing like I-65 back in Kentucky…so after drinking all of that Starbucks we needed a potty break…and yes this was the ONLY place we could find….please don’t judge me….but when Mother Nature calls you can’t be picky.

Potty Break
Potty Break

Kalaloch Beach “a good place to land”

The Tidal Pools at Kalaloch Beach were absolutely amazing!

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The tide pools are home to all different kinds of sea creatures.

Green Anemone & Purple Sea Star
Green Anemone & Purple Sea Star

My sister found a sea cucumber… pretty interesting. However, I don’t think its looks like a cucumber, or at least not one I would like to have on my salad! Haha

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Sea Cucumber

My favorite sea creatures in the tide pools where the sea stars and they were everywhere….I love the vibrant colors of these two sea stars!

Sea Stars
Sea Stars

Dad was the photographer for most of trip so he is not in our first picture.

Beach Kalaloch
Kalaloch Beach

After leaving Kalaloch Beach we traveled down the road to find the infamous Root Tree…. and when I say Root Tree… I mean ROOT TREE!!! It was fascinating to see a live tree with its roots exposed.

The Root Tree

The Root Tree
The Root Tree

Here is a picture of my sister and dad, and myself sitting below the roots of the Root Tree!

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Sitting below the Root Tree

The next place we went to was Ruby Beach. This beach was filled with all of these wonderful flat stone rocks and the home to giant boulders.

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach
Ruby Beach

The beach had huge boulders down the coastline.

Giant Boulders
Giant Boulders

Also the beach had these flat beach stones that people had stacked and placed them along the tops of driftwood the tide had brought in. Shhhh don’t tell anyone but I took some of those rocks to make my own zen stacking rocks at home…. I will let you know when I get that put together…. I hope it’s ok that I took them….

Stacking Beach Stones
Stacking Beach Stones

*I am going to start with a disclosure statement: the only reason this part of the posted has been inserted is at the request of the rest of my family on the trip.*

There was a BIGFOOT sighting while we were visiting Ruby Beach. As you can see from the pictures below the BigFoot was found to be one of us….can you imagine who?……ME! My Dad took this lovely picture which captured me walking down the beach in such a way that reminded him of a picture he had once seen of a BogFoot sighting on a beach….. and I think you can figure the rest of it out…..Needless to say this picture was posted all over Facebook and Instagram to be shared with the rest of the world…..Haha!

BIGFOOT sighting!
BIGFOOT sighting!

After ending our first day we went and checked into the Lake Crescent Lodge which is a turn-of-the-century resort that was built in 1912. And it was definitely turn-of-the-century, it did not have any TVs or telephones. Now I understand that this may not come a shock to some of you, but to me was an absolute shocker! Evidently this a place where you come to be unplugged and off the grid. However, it was a very beautiful place to stay and amazing food. This was our magnificent view of Lake Crescent.

Lake Crescent
Lake Crescent

On day 2 at Olympic National Park we went to the Sol Duc Falls. We had to hike a .8 mils trail back into the wilderness but it was well worth it.

Sol Duc Falls
Sol Duc Falls

At this next picture you can tell I am just so happy I made it to the falls…I am not much of a hiker!… Ha!

Family at Sol Duc Falls
Family at Sol Duc Falls

The next place we came to was this stop for a salmon viewing, which evidently the salmon can no longer be seen at this place. However, we took some amazing pictures of the canopy of the trees.

Tree Canopies
Tree Canopies

I have to say that this is my favorite picture of the entire trip…..me looking to the heavens.

Looking to the Heavens
Looking to the Heavens

Our final stop in Olympic National Park was Hurricane Ridge. It has stunning view of the mountain ridge lines but it was a little foggy there and snowing a bit. It was kinda weird to experience snow in June, but that is not the only place we had snow…I will get to that a little later.

Hurricane Ridge
Hurricane Ridge

It was extremely cold and windy….brrrr….or so I thought until we arrived at our next park…but we survived!

Me & Handsome at Hurricane Ridge
Me & Handsome at Hurricane Ridge

Second Stop – Glacier National Park

Our next stop was Glacier National Park, however the weather wasn’t so nice and prevented us from seeing and doing some things we had planned. Upon our arrival there was a winter storm warning and some areas even received up to 10 inches of snow…brrrr……

Our plans for the first day at Glacier National Park were horseback riding through park. That morning when we woke it was 37 degrees and misty rain….so Handsome and I decided that we would sit this one out, but Amber and Dad braved the winter storm and pushed on…..although, I small part of each of them wished that hadn’t. The trail ride lasted about 2 hours and they were in higher elevation which was colder than 37 degrees and not a misty rain, but a snowy rain. I think they both were afraid that had hypothermia by the end of the ride….see why Handsome and I decided to sit this one out….

Dad with his horse Pluto
Dad with his horse Pluto
Amber waiting to saddle up
Amber waiting to saddle up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So our first day at Glacier National Park was somewhat uneventful….. We then had dinner at Lake McDonald Lodge which they had an amazing Lentil Tomato Soup…which I think I am going to try and mimic that recipe…. and as cold as it was there it was a perfect eat to the end of very cold day…. who knew it could snow in June?!?!

Handsome and I stayed at a Hilton in the next town over because the rooms at Lake McDonald Lodge were so small…and when I say small, I mean two rooms with each a full size bed… so on the way home after dinner we saw some amazing views.

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The next day it was still cold and rainy so we decided to drive over the east side of Glacier National Park to the Many Glacier Hotel. On the way there we stopped at the Continental Divide…..and as you can see it was snowing there…brrrr

Continental Divide
Continental Divide
Handsome & Me
Handsome & Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Many Glacier Hotel you can actually see three different glaciers: Salamander, Grinnell, and Gem. Unfortunately, when we arrived it was somewhat still foggy and we were unable to see any of the glaciers. However, we got a wonderful view of mountain scenery from the back deck which is nestled on the shoreline of Swiftcurrent Lake.

Many Glacier Hotel
Many Glacier Hotel
Amber, Dad & Bridgette Many Glacier Hotel
Amber, Dad & Bridgette
Many Glacier Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even though it was cold, rainy and foggy the views were absolutely magnificent! Here are some more views of around Many Glacier Hotel…

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Our trip to Glacier National Park concluded with our last stop at Lake McDonald…..we had seen a beautiful picture of its shoreline on the internet and had to see it for ourselves. The lake’s shoreline is filled with small color pebbles and when the sun is shining the pebbles seem to glisten off the water. However, when we went….you can guess….yes it was rainy and foggy…so our pictures do not capture the true beauty of the colorful pebbles but it is still another wonderful view.

Lake McDonald
Lake McDonald

Third Stop – Yellowstone National Park

Our third and final stop was Yellowstone National Park….. YAY! We made it…… I have to say this was the most amazing park out of all three parks, however we had wonderful weather here too! The landscape was out of this world and nothing like I had ever seen before. It was beautiful!

Roosevelt Arch entrance

We arrived at Yellowstone National Park about 5:00 p.m. in the afternoon and decided to go into the park and drive around for awhile before it got dark. This was the entrance into the park…..Roosevelt Arch entrance. The Roosevelt Arch was constructed under the supervision of the U.S. Army in 1903 at Fort Yellowstone by the President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt…..hence the name. At the top of the arch inscribed is a quote “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People” which was from the legislation which created Yellowstone from the Organic Act of 1872. Just a brief history lesson for those of you who did not know that……I had no idea!!!! This trip was very educational!

Roosevelt Arch
Roosevelt Arch
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs is a large complex of hot springs on a hill of travertine….yes travertine… the same things people put in their houses for counter tops….CRAZY… I know! This spring was created over thousands of years ago!

Mammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth Hot Springs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lamar Valley

Lamar Valley is home to many different types of wildlife in Yellowstone Park including bears, wolves, elk, bison, pronghorn, eagles, and bighorn sheep. We were told that the wildlife is most active at dawn and dusk. We did see a coyote and some buffalo, but no bears or wolves :( The landscapes here were AMAZING! and I have to say this was one of my favorite areas of the park……the sky was wide open and you could see for miles and miles…..

Lamar Valley with buffalo
Lamar Valley with buffalo
Lamar Valley
Lamar Valley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wildlife

So the wildlife here is CRAZY…..they just do what they want to and roam around…which I guess technically this is their home and we are visitors, but it was wild to me to see all of these buffalo everywhere! They have what they call buffalo jams here, which is when a herd of buffalo crosses the road at their own pace and a traffic jam forms for miles. We were actually fortunate enough to experience a buffalo jam (see below)…and let me tell you these tourist they are CRAZY…..they would get really close to these animals to take pictures and the park specifically has warning signs to keep your distance from the wildlife….what people will do for a picture….haha

Buffalo at Yellowstone National Park
Buffalo at Yellowstone National Park
Buffalo Jam
Buffalo Jam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Norris Geyser Basin

Norris Geyser Basin is the hottest and most changeable thermal area in Yellowstone and is the location of the world’s tallest active geyser. Let me tell you about the small though…GROSS!…it smells like a rotten egg!!!! It is actually bacteria that eats and creates sulfuric acid. When it evaporates it becomes hydrogen sulfide gas and that is the smell…. but regardless of the smell they are still natural beauties! So not only a history lesson on this trip…but a science lesson as well….You’re welcome :)

Handsome & Me at Norris Basin
Handsome & Me at Norris Basin
Norris Basin
Norris Basin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Artist Paint Pots

Artist Paint Pots was a very popular place in the park. It is home to over 50 springs, geysers, vents and especially mud pots. The post have varying shades of blue, grey and brown….which gives the name of artist pots! I have to admit I wasn’t really impressed with this spot….but hold on we’re getting to the MAIN ATTRACTION!

Artist Paint Pots
Artist Paint Pots
Artist Pain Pot
Artist Paint Pot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Firehole Canyon Drive & Falls

So the key to visiting these parks is talking to the locals….they have so much knowledge about the area and will share the wonderful locations not found on the maps. In a gift store we stopped at before entering the park a woman told us about talking an alternate route inside the park and driving through the Firehole Canyon….and it was beautiful! The canyon is also home to Firehole Canyon Falls which are 40 foot waterfalls and the Firehole River.

Firehole Canyon Falls
Firehole Canyon Falls

And you know me and Handsome, we have to take pictures of ourselves everywhere we go…haha!

Firehole Canyon Falls
Firehole Canyon Falls

Grand Prismatic Springs

So this next stop was Handsome’s favorite and you can see why…the colors here are stunning and beautiful! It is the largest hot spring in the United States and the third largest hot spring in the world. It has the colors of the rainbow of red, orange, yellow, green and blue.

Grand Prismatic Spring
Grand Prismatic Spring

 

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Excelsior Geyser Spring

Excelsior Geyser Crater is a hot spring located near the Grand Prismatic Spring. This spring is a little different from the rest, because it dumps 4,000 to 4,500 gallons of 199 °F water per minute directly into the Firehole River…..now that would be a warm place to swim…smelly…but warm!

Excelsior Geyser Crater

Old Faithful

And here we are…….the MAIN ATTRACTION….Old Faithful!!!! Old Faithful was the first geyser in the park to receive its name in 1870. It was named Old Faithful because it known as one of the most predictable geysers which erupts almost every 91 minutes. There is literally semi-stadium seating around the geyser and people come from all over the world and sit and wait for it to erupt. Crazy…huh? Another one of the world’s beauties.

Old Faithful
Old Faithful

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Exiting the park on our last day we saw the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone….not to be confused with The Grand Canyon…haha! The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone has been formed over the years by volcanic eruptions and glaciers….pretty amazing!

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

This concludes our wonderful trip…I feel very blessed to have been able to have this experience with Handsome, my Dad and my Sister….the only thing I recommend if you are thinking about taking a trip such as this, make sure you pack for every type of weather possible and call and ask where you are lodging if they have TVs in the rooms…..most importantly that you do realize this is NOT a vacation, but an adventure…one you will treasure for a lifetime!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farmer’s Market Finds

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Farmer's Market Finds
Farmer’s Market Finds

Here in my small Bluegrass town we have a Farmer’s Market on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings. This past Tuesday I found some wonderful vegetables at the Farmer’s Market. When the Farmer’s Market is open I try to buy as much of my produce that I can at the market rather than at the grocery store. It is very important to me to buy local and fresh ingredients when cooking. Also there is a certain kind of feeling that comes from bringing fresh vegetables home from a local farm in your home town….it kind of brings things full circle.

Our Farmer’s Market has wonderful fruits and vegetables, but it also has beautiful flower bouquets, baked goods such as breads and muffins, spice rubs and other homemade items. While visiting the Farmer’s Market I picked me up a little breakfast snack….chocolate chip zucchini muffin… and it was delish!!!

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffin
Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffin

So after returning home from the market I came up with some recipes to cook my famer’s market finds for dinner. Plus this gave me the opportunity to use my pressure cooker that Handsome and I got as a wedding gift. Let me tell you this pressure cooker is one fancy kitchen appliance…it is nothing like my grandmother’s pressure cooker! I have to admit I was kind of scared to use it at first, I thought that maybe the top would blow off and put a whole in my ceiling so I waited for Handsome and I to use it together….Haha! And there was no blow up and the green beans and new potatoes turned out amazing!

I hope you enjoy my recipes and get to your local famer’s market and see what you can find to bring home and cook!

Fresh Green Beans & New Potatoes

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Green Beans & New Potatoes
Green Beans & New Potatoes

Fresh Green Beans & New Potatoes (Pressure Cooker)

Ingredients

2 cups of fresh green beans, ends removed and snapped
5 medium new potatoes, quartered
1 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
1/3 cup diced onion
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 cup of chicken broth

Instructions

Add green beans, new potatoes, bacon, onion, salt and pepper to the pot.
Add chicken broth to just cover the top of the green beans and new potatoes.
Cook green beans and new potatoes for 7-10 minutes under low pressure or according to your pressure cooker directions.

Fried Corn

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Fried Corn
Fried Corn

Fried Corn

Ingredients

4 Tablespoons butter
6 ears of fresh corn, shucked, stripped and scraped
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 4 tablespoons of butter.
Once the butter is melted, add corn.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Stir frequently cooking for 20 to 30 minutes.

*The secret to good fried corn is when cutting the corn kernels from cob make sure you get some of the corn milk to cook with the corn as well.

Handsome’s Favorites

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Handsome
Handsome

So here is my Handsome…..you see now where he gets his name…. he is so handsome! I know, I know, ok so I will move on to his favorites. Anyone who knows Handsome, knows that there are two favorite things he cannot go without (when I say things, I mean food, because I am his favorite thing, j/k, no but really…. Haha)…but back to his favorites…. he absolutely loves chili and red velvet cake. And when I say loves, I mean LOVES!!!! When I cook chili, he will eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner – no exaggeration. Also, he will take chili to work for lunch everyday until it is gone…seriously! Me on the other hand, once I eat something, I may be able to eat it one more time the following day, but after that I am pretty much done with it – not a leftover kind of girl! :) And for the red velvet cake, Handsome has always love Red Velvet Cake, even so much that for his Groom’s cake for our wedding we had Blue Velvet Cupcakes (technically they were red velvet, just the color blue).  I cook almost every night during the week, but most of my cooking is done on the weekends and you can bet that Handsome will request chili and red velvet cookies. So here are two easy and simple recipes for Handsome’s chili and red velvet crinkle cookies. I hope you enjoy!

Chili

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Chili
Chili

 

Ingredients

1 lb. Ground Beef (If you like a meatier chili then use 2 lbs. of ground beef)

½ Teaspoon Garlic, Minced

1 small Onion diced

1 can (28 oz.) Crushed Tomatoes

3 cups of water

1 16 oz. can of Brooks Mild Chili Beans (You can use any kind of kidney beans or add black beans too)

1 package of Chili-O-Mix

1 tsp Black Pepper

1 tsp Salt

1 tsp Sugar

1 cup of small pasta (optional)

 

Instructions

Brown ground beef and onions together, the last minute of cooking at the garlic and cook, then drain

In large pot add crushed tomatoes, water, kidney beans, Chili-O-Mix, salt, pepper and sugar

Add ground beef mixture to the tomato mixture

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 2-3 hours stirring often

In a separate pot, cook small pasta according to package directions, drain and then add to the chili

Toppings: soup crackers, shredded cheese and sour cream