I thought in honor of Halloween, I would share a really easy recipe for making caramel apples. This could not be simpler and it promises to be a big hit with your trick-or-treaters or your friends.

6 apples

1 (14 oz bag) of individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped*

2 tablespoons milk

crushed nuts, any variety will do

6 wooden craft sticks

Remove the stem from each washed apple and insert a craft stick into the top.

Place caramels and milk in a microwave safe bowl, microwave 2 minutes, stirring once. Allow to cool briefly.

Roll each apple in the caramel and then in the nuts. Allow to cool on a well buttered cookie sheet (wax paper will do as well). Enjoy!

* Since the caramel can get a little hot so if you have little ones that want to help, unwrapping the caramels is a great job.

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Alaska

October 30, 2008

FIve things about Alaska… most of them are overly obvious.

1) It is far…at least if you live anywhere on the east coast it is far. Like, 15 solid hours from my door to my hotel room with no layover. And trust me, with the flight I had, I I felt every minute of those 15 hours.

2) It is cold. Like really, really cold. Like your eye balls start to freeze and you wonder what will happen if they get stuck that way cold.

3) The cold does not seem to bother anyone who lives there. I brought my best Northface jacket, mittens and wool sweaters and I wore all of them…all the time. I even considered wearing the mittens to bed one night. (I know…thats hot). Some of the locals left the airport in flip flop and SHORTS! Apparently 27 degrees with no light and a strong wind is their balmy fall season.

4) It is take -your-breath-away beautiful. The sun peaks over the mountains late in the morning and the light filters over the valley. In the afternoon the snow kissed peaks glow from the late day sun and whole sky flushes pink and blue. If it was not so freaking cold, I would have spent all my time gazing and the view which don’t imagine ever gets old.

(The taller building of the 2 on the right is was my hotel, the top floor has a resturant that overlooks the inlet and Mt McKinley and is where I enjoyed a delicious 5 course meal watching the sun set. It was amazing)

5) The people are amazingly nice. I grew up in NY so when I think of moving through a city I put my head down, walk strait and fast and become irritated when a cabby blocks an intersection. The city of Anchorage has a completely different tempo. People stroll, and talk and dare to stop and look in a window. While crossing a street I happened to drop a mitten. Not one but TWO cars stopped and honked to point it out to me and by the time I turned to get it a complete stranger had picked it up and changed his direction to give it to me. These are either the nicest people on the planet or they are tired of weak tourists flooding their emergency rooms with frostbitten hands due to dropped mittens.

Five signs you may be in for a really long flight…

1) While sitting in the waiting area you are informed that one of the crew members has become violently ill and they will need to wait for a replacement. He may have the flu, he my have the bubonic plague…they just don’t know.

2) You go to take your seat and find that you are sitting in front of a 2 month old infant and her two year old sister,. There is one poor parent and a lot of snacks which are quickly turning into a pile of crumbs at your feet. The infant immediately starts to cry.

3) Before you can even get into your seat belt the captain comes on and informs everyone that due to an unusually strong headwind the normally easy 5 1/2 hour flight will be more like 6 1/2 hours but not to worry, you will be there before you know it. The infant continues to cry.

4) The man in the seat directly next to you clears his throat every 10 seconds. Literally, every ten seconds. You know it is every ten seconds because you become so infuriated by the mucus dislodging clearing of the throat you begin to count how many times it occurs in a minutes. An average of 6 times. You calculate how many times you will have to hear the mucus rumble and nose snorts oer the course of the next six and one half hours (apx 2340 times). The infant continues to cry.

5) The throat clearing evolves to a constant wheezing cough and asthmatic mucus rumble. He will not stop! You long for the moments when he was just clearing his throat every ten seconds. Your thoughts begin to alternate between homicide, suicide and general concern that the man sitting DIRECTLY next to you has caught the bubonic plague from the fallen crew member. The infant continues to cry.

I made these the other night to go along with some salmon burgers and they were great.  I guess conventional wisdom says to figure one potato per person but I would plan on more, I promise…they will go fast!

2 russet potatoes, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, and then into fourths to make big, fat wedges

1/4 cup extra -virgin olive oil

kosher salt

2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Preheat baking sheet in the oven for at least 5 minutes*

While the baking sheet is heating, toss the potatoes with the olive oil and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Then dump the potatoes out on the a baking sheet, spreading to a single layer.  Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, shaking the pan every now and then, until the potatoes are cooked through, brown and crispy.  Toss the fries in a big bowel with the parsley and cheese

* I am convinced that this step is what makes the fries so crispy

Sick

October 22, 2008

Some differences in our house….

One:

When I get sick, I give progress reports daily.  “I feel a little tickle in my throat” or, “I think I might be getting a headache”.

When D gets sick, it comes on with no warning.  One day he is fine, the next morning he can’t swallow.

Two:

When I get sick I chalk it up to “something going around” or a bug.

When D gets sick he wants a precise culprit. Ie: “Do you think it was that kid at dinner the other night? Do you think she was sick? Could it have infected me this quickly?”

Three:

When I get sick my activities include; laying on the couch, repositioning on the couch, and transitioning from couch to bed.

When D gets sick his activities include two hours of competitive hockey in the freezing cold.

Four:

When I get sick my diet consists of chicken soup, tea, chicken and rice soup and juice.

When D gets sick his diet consists of pizza, cookies and whatever else he normally eats.

Five:

When I get sick I subscribe to the ‘better living through chemistry’ mantra.  I take Dayquil, Nyquil, Betweenquil and any other drug I can get my hands on to ease the symptoms.

When D gets sick he likes to tough it out as long as possible.  D must be really sick because I think, I heard him take a Nyquil last night.

Here are 5 ways you can very easily waste an entire weekend, with out really accomplishing anything.

1) Watching Lifetime TV- Even worse than Lifetime is that Lifetime movie network.  Have you seen the one where all the 14 year old’s get syphilis?  It sure makes the “gee mom, I smoked a cigarette, we should really talk about it” after school specials we grew up on seem rather lame. 

2) Thinking about packing but not actually packing – At the end of the week I am heading to Alaska for a few days for work and I have NO idea what to pack.*  I have a  formal reception to go to plus lots of meeting-ish stuff and the only thing I can think of that sounds Alaska appropriate is a fur coat and muff. And as fate would have it… both my fur coat and muff are at the cleaners.  Maybe Sarah Palin can take a brief break from her political career and SNL obligations to give me some advice?  Also, does anyone know where I get on of those blow up neck pillow things for the plane? The non-blow up ones are easy to find but I can’t find the inflatable ones anywhere and since I will be spending apx 18 hrs in airplane seats, I am thinking regardless of the cost…it will be worth the investment.

3) Baby worship – My friend H, whose baby shower I attended last month, had her beautiful little girl two weeks ago.  I spent a good portion of Sunday gazing into her sapphire blue eyes (when they were open) and being in total wonder of this little girl who turned my friend into a mother.  (I spent an equal portion of Sunday hearing all about the horrible birth she had, vowing never to go to the hospital where she delivered and making a mental note to research adoption agencies when I got home)

4) Gem week on HSN- As aforementioned, I am a sucker for home shopping networks, and gem week is my favorite.  But, for anyone who is feeling judgemental about home shopping I must inform you that as of this morning, the design store for Museum of Modern Art was on HSN.  And if it is good enough for the MOMA, it is good enough for all of us.  Don’t judge. 

5) Listening to the Bills game on the radio – I have not had time to really look into it this morning but apparently, someone released some balloons outside of the Bills stadium, they got caught in a  transformer and the entire stadium was with out power for most of the game.  No lights, no score board, no timing system, no communication between players, and commentators who were calling in the game via cell phone as ref’s kept the clock on watches.  I love this stuff!  I just hope the balloons did not belong to some dude who was hoping to propose to his girlfriend on the score board at half time. Not only did he fuck up the game for everyone else; he was with out balloons to give her when he popped the question on a score board that was not working.  Tough day MR. Stadium Scoreboard Proposal Guy. 

* Some of you have GOT to be wondering what I do for a living that requires me to go to Mississippi and Alaska in the same month.

Food Friday: Chili Chicken

October 17, 2008

Depending on the marmalade you use, this chicken comes out a little different each time.  It is also great on other chicken parts or on chicken tenders (which then make a great sandwich), you may need to adjust your cooking time accordingly.

1/2 cup orange marmalade (sweet or bitter)

2 Tbsp*  chili powder (mild, hot or mixed)

8 chicken drumsticks (apx 2 1/4 lb)

1/2 tsp salt

 1/4 tsp pepper

1. Heat Oven to 400 degrees.  Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with nonstick foil.

2. Mix marmalade, chili powder, salt and pepper in a large ziptop bag.  Add chicken; seal bag. Turn and squeeze bag to coat drumsticks.  Arrange on lined baking sheet, spooking on any excess marmalade mixture.

3. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat, not touching the bone, registers 180 degrees. 

* yes, 2 tablespoons.  I know it looks like a lot but trust me, it works.

Inspired by the amazing fall weather we have all be bragging about in New England and my self imposed early dismissal from work (seriously, it was one of those days where if I stayed another second I would have certainly said something I would regret) I decided to head home and go for a run.  While on the road I noticed some of my neighbors working out with an array of interesting behavior and I realized I am pretty sceptical.

I am wary of anyone who works out wearing a full face of makeup.  The exception to this rule is professional dancers and those synchronized swimmers who I am pretty sure have inspired some legitimate phobias and yet, I know could kick my butt in just about anything.

I am wary of anyone who works out while talking on their cell phone.  Love him or hate him, Bill Clinton managed to get through two presidencies jogging on his track every day with out texting any heads of state.  Granted, during his first term cell phones were not all that popular and he had an array of secret service agents with him to relay urgent messages, but the point remains… no one is that important.

I am wary of anyone that works out is something that could be considered an outfit or could make a transition from active wear to evening wear with a simple change of footwear.

I am wary of anyone who manages to sing while they work out.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a Laura Branigan tune, and “Gloria” has to be one of her best.  But I just don’t think you can be working out to full capacity while belting out “I think they got your number, Gloria, I think they go your alias, Gloria”

I am wary of anyone who cheers on their dog while they run.  Dude, the dog is fine.  Your the one that looks like you are going to keel over any second.

Note: I am judgmental.  It is something that I am not overly proud of and I really am working on.  So, if after reading this post you are inspired to send me an e-mail calling me judgmental, I’ll save you the time.  I know.

As I mentioned on Friday, this past weekend D and I went up to VT with some friends to drink some wine, eat some food and spend some time enjoying the fall foliage. It was all quite lovely and serene, and would have been absolutely perfect if not for the following five people*.

1) The self righteous pro-shop girl- yes she was wearing Carhartt pants cuffed to her calf’s with some fancy strappy Keen sandal’s. And yes, she was pretty darn sure this made her better than us, she may have even been right. But really, out right laughing at us when we asked about a local restaurant was slightly unnecessary. I’m sorry, I’m a tourist. I am here spending my money in your town off season to pay your salary so you can buy trendy “I am so un-trendy” clothes and look down on others, I don’t live here. I don’t have the open and close dates of every joint memorized and no, I don’t think I am being a total jack off for asking.

2) The un supervised children- I understand children are people too, and I understand that just because you have children does not mean you are no longer entitled to a vacation but please, please for my sanity….supervise them! On the floor in the middle of a restaurant with people moving trays of hot coffee and not-so-hot eggs is not a great place to sit and play with trucks. It is actually not a great place to sit and play with anything unless you think a third degree burn will look good on your 5 year old.

3) The early risers- I would just love to know what event someone was getting up for at 5 am on a Saturday that required an hour of blow drying. Because, if I find out I am missing really fun formal events before dawn, I am going to be totally bummed. Not bummed enough to get up before 8:00 but still bummed.

4) The bowling team on the floor above us- there is no other possible explanation for the noises coming from the ceiling. None.

5) The food service Staff – Things that are acceptable at a restaurant : slow service, mediocre food. Things that are not acceptable at a restaurant: large pieces of unidentifiable rubber baked into the bread pudding which sort of smelled like garlic. Having the chef identify the foreign rubber like object really does not make it better. No, we don’t want another garlic smelling bread pudding on the house. Thanks though.

* Regardless of the nut jobs around us, we really did have an amazing weekend. The weather was perfect, the foliage was spectacular and the company could not have been better. As Cat Food and Cabernet so eloquently wrote about earlier this week, fall in New England can not be beat.

This weekend D and I are heading to VT with some friends to get away for a few days and enjoy the fall foliage.  With the cooler night air and the sight of leaves turning color I thought I would share a recipe for one of my favorite fall beverages. 

             

2 quarts (8 cups) apple juice*

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

6 whole cloves

3 cinnamon sticks, broken into 1 inch pieces

1 cup rum

In a large saucepan combine first four ingredients.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer for 20 minutes.  Strain to remove pieces.  Add rum and serve warm with a cinnamon stick in each glass. 

Note: You can omit the rum if you are planning on serving this to kids, or keep the rum and figure they will sleep really well that night.  (I do not have kids of my own so please, do not feel like you need to report me to child protective services)

* you can use whatever apple juice you want, but I find the better the juice the better your final product will be, fresh cider would be the best.