Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bi-weekly Work Cookouts

Lots of things have been, or are going to be, changing at work lately and in the next few months or so.  To help build and keep morale up in the Accounting department, we've been doing group activities and such.  The most common has been going to play Laser Tag and then for dinner. We've gone quite a few times and we love it!  One of the other things we're doing this summer are bi-weekly cookouts.  We split the Accounting department into two teams (6 people each) and every other week one of the teams puts on a cookout for lunch for everyone.  We all pitched in some $$ to start, and whatever we spend gets reimbursed out of those funds.  So far there have been two of these cookouts.

The first was put on by Team A (not my team) and we had hot dogs, burgers, grillers (some kind of burgers with lots of stuff in them), coleslaw, macaroni salad and potato salad.  I only have one picture from the first cookout because sometimes I'm a bad picture taker, haha.

The second cookout was my team's turn to do a cookout.  We did ribs, chicken wings, beans, potato salad, pasta salad, cornbread (in my Dutch Oven!!), scallops and I can't remember what else!
Work has a grill that we have access to use
I love ribs and looking at these again is making me hungry!!!

Here's the spread of all the food we had! 

This is the cornbread cooking.  I forgot to take a picture of it when it was done.

We also decided to do dessert with our cookout and what better dessert than S'Mores!!!  We used charcoal briquettes to roast the marshmallows and they worked awesome!
S'Mores ingredients pre-cooked, haha

One of my co-workers roasting her marshmallow!

I believe there is one more cookout for each team to put on.  The next one is Team A's turn, so stay tuned to see what they make!

~Chelle *o*

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Dutch Oven Cooking

As I said in my previous post, I went camping last weekend and used my dutch oven to make some yummy food!!!

My first recipe of brilliance was to make what I call "baked pancakes".  You I mentioned in my previous post, I am taking two of Muffin's kids camping (15 & 17yo boys), and hopefully Wolf will be joining us.  Ever try cooking pancakes for four people in a frying pan that cooks ONE pancake at a time???  Yeah....not so fun when it's for four people.  So I brilliantly thought of baking the entire pancake recipe and see what I would get.  I did some research online and found that this is actually a way to cook pancakes that lots of people do!  The recipes I found were to be baked at 425 for about 10-15 minutes.  Yay!  Not a long time!!  I also found that people were saying the recipes were a little dry and adding some oil might help.

So, I had the brilliant idea to fry half a pound of bacon (chopped at home) in the dutch oven, and then try baking the pancake batter.  I use Bisquick because that's what I like.  So, I heated the dutch oven to somewhere between 425 and 450 or so.  I don't remember how many briquettes I used, but it was approx 4 per 100 degrees.  I let it preheat for about 15min or so.

Then I dumped the bacon in:

Somewhere around 20-30min later (I really have no idea as I didn't keep track) the bacon was fried!!!!
Have you EVER seen anything look so good?????

While the bacon was frying I mixed up the bisquick pancake recipe (2c bisquick, 1 egg, 1c milk).  I added 6oz of chocolate chips because Wolf and I like chocolate chip pancakes.  I then added most of the fried bacon and most of the bacon fat to the mix (who doesn't love bacon fat???).

I then poured everything into the dutch oven and covered it.  At some point I lit new briquettes and replaced the first set.  I think I baked the pancake for about 20min or so....basically until it looked done.

Here's what it looked like after we took our portions:

Oh My Goodness.....was it FANTASTIC!!!!!!
It might not look pretty on the plate, but it sure tasted awesome!!!

The other meal I cooked in the Dutch Oven was for dinner the same night as the day I cooked the pancake for breakfast.  This meal I had tried to cook in my Dutch Oven at Wolf's house and we ended up finishing it on the stove in the kitchen because the rice was crunchy and we were starving.

The recipe is called "Creamy Rice and Chicken" except this time I used kielbasa instead of chicken.  The ingredients are simple: three cans of cream of [something] soup (I used cream of chicken, cream of celery and cheddar cheese), a packet of onion soup mix, 1.5c of rice (I used jasmine rice), 1.5c of water and whatever meat you want.  It is supposed to bake for 1h 15min at 350 or so.  Because of my previous experience with it, I used more briquettes and I think it cooked in about an hour and a half.  I also put a piece of foil under the dutch oven and wrapped it up the sides to keep the heat of the briquettes contained, as well as making a foil 'cover' over the dutch oven lid to also keep the heat in.  I think it helped a lot with cooking times because the heat isn't being wasted.

Part way through cooking!

We got a fire started while dinner cooked!
It was yummy!!!

I'm not sure if this picture was taken while breakfast was cooking, or dinner.  It is the dutch oven along with the chimney starter and the bag of briquettes.  It might have been breakfast cooking (the bacon frying) since there are no coals on the lid of the Dutch Oven.

I can't wait to make lots more yummy stuff in it!!!

~Chelle *o*

First Camping Trip of the Year!!!!!

Wolf and I went camping last weekend - yay!  I love camping!!  I'm so excited that we got to go, even if it was a short trip (late Friday to Sunday).  We went camping in New Hampshire, at Greenfield State Park.  What a great campground!  They have a cute beach that has a walkway to the public beach and a little store.  Some of the sites are open sites (meaning you can see your neighbors pretty well) while others are more closed (you can see the neighbors but not what they are doing).  We had one of the latter sites.

Since it was a short trip, we planned to sleep in the car with an air mattress.  I found and purchased online a couple of mosquito nets to put over the front doors so that we could leave the windows open for some fresh air without getting bugs in the car (you know how I am about bugs!).  I also purchased some magnets at a local hardware store to keep the nets on the door - they worked out great! 

Here are some pictures from the weekend:

Here's the mosquito netting on one of the windows.  I'm going to take and sew each one into a sleeve (of sorts) that will slide over the door and then close the door on it.

This is the screenhouse all set up, looking at it from the car.

This is the "working" part of the screenhouse, with the containers, table, stove, lantern, etc.....

These next two are the other side of the screenhouse, with the table in it.  The cooler is under the bench to deter critters from trying to open the cool during the night.  Either it worked, or there were no critters, lol.

You can see my dutch oven on the table (in it's bag) and the Weber on the ground under the table (in the box).

I, of course, did some cooking with my awesome Dutch Oven......but that's another post!!!

I'm taking Muffin's kids camping in August, and can't wait for that trip!  They are 15 and 17 and I'm honored (and frankly a little surprised) that they still like hanging out with Auntie Chelle, lol.

~Chelle *o*

I did it!!!!!!!!!!!!

A few weeks ago (July 1st) I finally did it!  I rode my bike to work!!!!!

I had been trying to really figure it out for a few weeks, and the remaining piece of the puzzle was where to store my bike during the day.  We figured it out at work and there was no reason NOT to ride to work.

So, I decided a few weeks ago I would try it out on Tuesday July 1st.  

It was awesome!!!

A few small hiccups along the way, but nothing too major.

* Almost fell off the bike about 20min after leaving home....  went to get on the sidewalk to avoid a bridge with glass on the roadway and the sidewalk was a bit higher than the road.  I didn't see it until it was kind of too late and my tire rode along the sidewalk instead of going onto the sidewalk.  I thought for sure I was going down and was glad it was only 20min back home to clean up and then drive to work.  Miraculously I ended up on the sidewalk and upright.....I'm still not quite sure how, but I'm glad!

* Almost had a run-in with a city bus in New Bedford.  I was at a stop sign, and the bus was on the cross-street.  He had his blinker on and I thought he was pulling over to let someone I started to cross the intersection.  Only he was turning and not pulling over.  Thankfully I realized what was going on soon enough and was able to stop.

Other than that, it went great.  I ate some on the bike but not really enough (more on that later), and drank a surprisingly small amount of water.  The ride was 21 miles and took me two hours (including stops).  I had intended to head out about 4:45am, but since it was partly cloudy that day, it wasn't really light enough until about 5.  I got to work by 7, showered and was at my desk for 7:30! 

I ate carbs and drank water during the day to help my muscles recover (since they had to ride home too, lol) and thought all was fine.  I headed off for home, and about an hour in I had something to eat (not nearly as much carbs as I should have).  I got to about 5 or 6 miles from home and my legs really started hurting and any sort of hill felt like torture to keep riding....even gradual ones which I've gotten pretty decent riding up.  I had no idea why it was happening but just pushed on and eventually made it home. 

I was reading something the other day about glycogen stores and how quickly they regenerate.  From previous research I know that you have enough glycogen stores for about 2hrs of activity (such as riding a bike) so I wasn't too concerned with riding to/from work since each ride is only 2hrs.  What I learned the other day is that it takes the body about 24hrs to replenish the lost glycogen.  Yeah.  Since I pretty much depleted mine on the ride to work, I didn't have much to go on riding home.  It was then that I realized the pain, etc... that I experienced close to home was what is known as "hitting the wall" or "bonking".  It is the first time that has happened to me and I hope the last time - it was NOT fun!

All that made me realize I need to eat on both the ride in to work and the ride home as if I were riding a 4hr ride and eat appropriately throughout both rides, along with carb-heavy eating at work during the day.

I'm planning to do this again this coming Wednesday, so we shall see how it goes!!

~Chelle *o*

Dutch Oven Accessories

Saw these last night at Bed Bath & Beyond, but my 20% coupon was home!  So, I reserved them today and picked them up after work!!!

What more could you need for cooking in a dutch oven?!?!

Aren't they AWESOME!!!!  They are the new utensils for my Dutch Oven!!!!  

I was going to look through my camping stuff to see if I had stainless steel tools (good chance I don't), then decided that if I'm going to cook with this even when not camping, I don't want to keep "stealing" the camping utensils and then end up not returning them and being without them on a trip.

They were $10, so with my coupon they were $8!!  Not bad for 5 pieces!!!

I'm actually planning to cook a few things this weekend with the dutch oven, so hopefully I'll remember to take pictures for you!

~Chelle  *o*

Gel Manicure....Day 4

I'm going to preface this post with this.....I meant to post this around the end of June and forgot, haha!

The should probably say Day 3...since I noticed this last night.   The end of my pinky nail was it needed to be filed.  So I was looking at it, and probably touching it more with my other fingers than I normally would.

This is what I discovered!

The gel polish is PEELING off!!!!!!!!! 

Of course, I had to's peeled about halfway up my nail.  I don't really know why this happened.

After doing some research on applying gel polish, it is possible that I filed the edge of my nail the other day.  I believe this could have caused to polish to no longer be adhered on the end of my nail.

My, not so great, solution to this was to use a small drop of superglue to glue the polish back down!  It worked great!  No fingers stuck together and no more lifting polish!

I may call the Salon I went to on Monday to see if they have any explanation, etc... as to what could have caused it.  I also found another salon, in the same general vicinity, that is listed on OPI's website and using the Axxium Soak-Off Gel Polish (I don't think this is the same as what the place used that I went to on Monday).  According to OPI, Axxium should last 3 to 4 weeks, whereas the Salon told me the one I got should last 2 weeks.

I'll continue to update with how the nails/polish are doing over the next few weeks (or until I decide to have it re-done).

~Chelle  *o*

Update:  I managed to peel all the polish off in a few days and by the 1 week mark it was all gone.  I went and had a different salon re-do them on July 3rd.  I went camping camping last weekend and they are still doing good!!!  This past Thursday was 2 weeks. :)