Monday, May 28, 2012

Guanella Pass in the Early Summer Light & Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad

My husband took some really lovely photographs of our drive over Guanella Pass.

Here's a pasta salad I am making for this week's lunches. I've used a gluten-free pasta to make it more Paleo friendly.

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad

Author: Snappy Gourmet Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 10 mins Total time: 30 mins
Serves: 6-8

8 ounces uncooked pasta (such as mezze penne)
1/2 cup Frank’s hot sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
2 cups precooked chicken, chopped
1 1/2 cups crumbled blue cheese
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped

Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water.

Meanwhile, whisk together hot sauce, oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, and celery salt in small bowl until well combined.

Place pasta in large mixing bowl. Stir in chicken, blue cheese, carrots, and celery. Slowly mix in dressing until desired amount.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.


SNAPPY TIPS: You can serve this as a side dish or main dish. It would even be great for a tailgating or picnic potluck! It’s mild to moderately spicy. If you would like it to be spicier, use more hot sauce and less olive oil. If the pasta salad seems dry after being in the refrigerator, add a little olive oil or hot sauce.

SNAPPY SUBSTITUTIONS: Use any shape pasta you’d like. Instead of chicken, you could use precooked small shrimp (peeled & deveined) or leave out the meat all together for a vegetarian option. A little ranch flavored seasoning mix would also be good in the dressing. Red onions and/or scallions would also be a good addition.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Mountain Bike Team Jersey - Final Design, I think

Here's what Ellie and I have created together. After so many design rounds, we are really happy with it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Pioneers, O Pioneers!" Ethan's Graduation Gift

My husband and I spend a good deal of time thinking about what to give our son for a graduation gift. I had originally wanted to give him something for college, something like a laptop computer. My husband had bigger thoughts. He wanted to give Ethan something that would last, something that would not get used up or become outdated. I had not even considered that angle and agreed with him once he mentioned it.

We thought about many different things including a book on first aid/ outdoor medicine since we know that Ethan's future holds many adventures. His thesis panel needed suggestions, so I passed on that title.
We were still searching for something more personal, a real memento of the event. The obvious choice was the "Pioneer, O Pioneer" poem by Walt Whitman that is Ethan's favorite poem and an important part of his senior thesis. Once that was decided, I needed to figure out how to present it.I started with a simple, green background. I was inspired by this poster:

When I tried it with the poem, it did not look good. It was simply too plain. Then I tried putting an image, sort of like a watermark, behind it. That just looked cheesey, like a 1970's vintage motivational poster. Then I pulled out my favorite rust textures, some grunge overlays and frames from the ever generous Shadow House Creations. Once I came up with something that Larr and I liked, I asked for feedback from a couple of my artsy friends. Mark, the owner of Husky Signs, and Kohlton's father, printed out the image on a 20"x24" scale. Once framed, I was happy. It was a real challenge to work with so much text and have it still look good. Our hope is that Ethan will remember how much we love him, how proud we are of him and how much promise his life holds. Out hope is that this simple gift will remind him of that when he looks at it.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Solar Eclipse, Dinner and A Ticket to Ride

This evening we went up to Indian Hills to see the solar eclipse.
Andreas and Aubrey invited us to their house. The clouds were moving in, so we changed locations.

A few miles down the road gave us another vantage point and the clouds moved away just as the most important part of the eclipse was occurring.

We had a lovely assortment of viewing possibilities, including this pair of fun metal working glasses.

Larr and Arie had fun. They love to hassle and joke with one another.

Afterwards, we went back to the house to play a game of "Ticket to Ride." I love the game. Larr hates it. Ellie's leg was hurting and she was feeling ill, so she relaxed on the couch while we waged war on the board.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Ellie versus Pavement - Tie Round?

Ellie was in a hot race, practice for the weekend, when she had a crash. She thinks that she flipped over her handlebars,
slid along the ground on her chin and then

Flipped. We're not sure what caused this injury. My guess is that her slid into her and the handlebar hit her hip first, causing her to flip.
And then she must have slid some more. There are more injuries in places that I don't want to show online. The most painful one must be an internal injury. The spot just looks a bit scuffed.

We learned a lot about road rash care last night, information that has changed since the kids first started racing. We no longer use hydrogen peroxide as it kills healthy tissue. She had to scrub out her injuries and try to make the surface as sterile as possible. Then we covered them with special gauze that has a jelly on it so that the gauze does not stick to the wound. We covered that with regular gauze and then used a variety of different methods to keep them in place. We've used a foam wrap where we can and a special tape on places like her chin. The idea is to have the wound heal from the inside out, instead of the other way around. We are to keep it moist to reduce scabbing, which would lead to scarring. It will ooze, weep and be pussy for a few days. She looks a bit like a warrior. Hopefully the healing will go smoothly.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ken Burns "On Story" & "10 Things I Learned About Mountain Biking"- A Wonderful Videos

I think this is a nice, thought provoking video that you might enjoy.

Here's another interesting video. It is about mountain biking, but the sentiment could apply to anything that you do that you love:

via: Greedy Gourmet

Serves 2-3
Preparation: 10 mins – Cooking Time: 1 hr 45 mins

15ml (1 tbsp) corn flour/corn starch
500g (1 lb) braising beef, trimmed and cut into small cubes
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
15ml (1 tbsp) vegetable oil
1 orange, grated rind and juice
15ml (1 tbsp) soy sauce or Tamari
few sprigs of fresh thyme leaves

Put the corn flour into a paper bag. Season with salt and pepper, then add the meat cubes and toss to coat.
Fry the onion in the oil until soft.
Add the meat and fry while turning to seal, until evenly browned.
Transfer to a flameproof casserole with a lid. Stir in the orange rind, thyme, orange juice and soy sauce.
Top up with water, bring to the boil and put on the lid.
Bake in a preheated oven at 170°C/fan150°C/325°F/gas mark 3 for about 1½ hours. Serve hot.

Serve with baked jacket potatoes and green vegetables.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Cyclefest 2012 Recap + Ginger Chicken with Pineapple and Cashews Recipe

After so much work putting together the visual part of the promotional materials for Cyclefest 2012, the main fundraiser for the Colorado High School Cycling League (mountain biking),it was gratifying to finally attend the event. Ellie and I arrived early so that we could help get everything set up. Kate, founder and head of the league, had it all well underway. I like being able to show up at a volunteer event without a preassigned position so that I have the luxury of helping out in whatever spot there is a need.

We had an awesome time. Several of Ellie's biking friends were at the event, thanks to our generous coach Kathy and several supportive parents. The event took place at the Denver Art Museum. It started with a silent auction and open bar. I visited with a number of folks that I see at biking events. I also sought out the people who stood alone. Those provided many interesting conversations. There were also many tempting and wonderful auction items. However, bidding was not part of our evening. I had a seat at the table with the Yeti Beti Mountain Bike team women. It was interesting to listen in on the chatting of a woman's biking team. The food was pretty good and the presentation was great.

I was gratified and pleased to see the how the championship jersey turned out. It is different from my design, but very much influenced by the ideas that I had presented. The evening was a real success.

Sunday morning I headed up to Boulder to help Kate get the fun ride with Tom Danielson off to a great start.

Pasta Vino, a new restuarant, was the host site. It is a really beautiful place.
Many of the big names in cycling showed up for the fun ride that included many of the difficult hill climbs in the Boulder area. I assisted by making sure that everyone had given their donation for the ride and meal afterwards. I did not stay for the meal at the end. It is my hope that both of the Cyclefest events were successful enough to help Kate and the league have reasonable funding. I'm thankful that Ellie has such opportunities and I want to support the league in the ways that I am able to.


On an entirely different note, here's what I made for dinner this week. It was a hit:

Garlic Ginger Chicken with Pineapple and Cashews

2-3 TBL Olive Oil
2 lbs. Chicken, but into bite size chunks
1/4 cup brown sugar
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger paste
1/4 cup regular soy sauce
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 cups water
1/2 tsp five spice powder
2-3 TBS Cornstarch, if needed
1-2 cups Cashew (raw, or roasted (but not salted)
1 large can Pineapple chunks (or about 3 cups fresh pineapple cut into chunks)

1. In a wok add oil then sauté garlic and ginger, add chicken and slightly brown on all sides.

2. Pour water, regular soy sauce, sugar, dark soy sauce and five spice powder bring it to a boil then simmer uncovered in medium-high heat while occasionally mixing for 20 minutes or until the liquid had reduced.

3. Totally reduce liquid into a thick sauce and stir fry chicken until cooked then serve. If the liquid is not thickening quickly enough, dissolve the cornstarch in 3-4 TBS of cold water and add to the pan, stirring to reduce the formation of lumps.

4. Add in the cashews and pineapple chunks. Stir until mixed in. Continue cooking until the nuts and pineapple are warm. Serve over brown rice.

Friday, May 04, 2012

A Bit of Planting - Nice to Step Away From the Computer

As weather, time, sunlight and budget allows, I've been reworking the gardens in the front of our house. I started to dig up the corner by the mailbox last summer. It had been a garden before, but kids, drought, grad school took priority and weeds took over. It tilled it and planted a few things from the clearance rack at a garden center.

Most of the plants made it over the winter, but that was just a start and I had a large, blank, dirt canvas. My husband surprised me last week by tilling those open areas for me and that allowed me to do the fun part today - put in plants. Home Depot is having a great sale so I only spent about $30 on plants. I haven't actually planted everything on this plan, but I have put in most of it. I am still musing over whether a peony is the best anchoring center plant. It is so lovely in the late spring, but pretty basic the rest of the year.

The mosaic was made by using a feature within Big Huge Labs.

Photo credits:
1. Wooly Lamb's Ear about to flower, 2. Plum Pudding Coral Bells, 3. Salvia sylvestris, 4. Oregano, 5. Saxifrage, 6. Foxglove , 7. P1010941, 8. P1010941, 9. Artemisia 'Silver Mound', 10. Scabiosa, 11. varisageclose, 12. peonies-crop-2011.JPG

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Flames Out - Maybe a Moari Inspired Look Will Be The One

The flame design had mixed reviews. Many loved them. Others, well, not so much. So, back to the drawing, or Photoshop, board for a new design. This one is inspired by Moari art.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Still More Jersey Designs

Once you begin to show people a few designs, everyone has things they like and don't like. I had some things about the last set of designs that I did not like, namely the color gradient on the flames. The rainbow effect was not right for the team which is mostly boys. I worked on that aspect first.
I like this color combo better.

I tried putting the mountains back because the coach likes them.

One of the main sponsors did not like the other flames, but Ellie wants a cool design, so I tried out another set of flames coming out from a different direction.

And here is a much more tame, safe and adult like option. I am not sure that the kids will like it as much as they would like the others. The trick is knowing how to balance the pleasures of a sponsor with that of the kids on the team.

Who knows if any of these will make the cut. That is how design goes much of the time.