Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pat and Joel

So POW ("Pat, the Other Woman"), and Joel (her FABULOUS boyfriend!) and Duane and I have gotten into the routine of meeting every month for a LOVELY dinner.  If you've been following my blog, they are the friends with which we did THE GREAT TWIN CITIES BRUSCHETTA TOUR 2010.

Each month we have a theme, and we rotate through the group.  When we meet, one of us is responsible for planning, cooking (or making reservations!), and enjoying a meal. 

So far, we've enjoyed cuisine from Germany, Greece, Mexico, France, Russia, and, this last "get together"...BARBECUE.  We have an AWESOME time eating, conversing, and spending time together...TOTALLY fun!!!!

Here are some photos from last night's barbecue on Joel's deck:

It's Duane's turn next time...can't wait to see what he comes up with!  After that, I'm planning a home made pizza buffet.  The following month we're heading to downtown St. Paul for the start of FOOD TRUCK season, planning ANOTHER appetizer "taste test tour", then it's Pat's turn to WOW us with her culinary skills!

Here's hoping YOU have good friends with which you can spend time too!!!!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

DAMN Pinterest!!!!!!

Okay...not really DAMN...maybe just..."darn it a little".  Until last night, I managed to AVOID Pinterest during the ONSLAUGHT of friends posting about it on Facebook, but, my elementary school music teacher (who I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!), pinned this recipe, and I KNEW "resistance was futile"...sigh...

Simply Sinful Cinnamon Muffins

These muffins feature a luscious center of moist, rich cinnamon filling. Add a confectioners' sugar glaze once they're cool, if you like, but they're really just as good with simply their streusel topping.

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup diced pecans
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3 tablespoons soft butter

1/2 cup Baker's Cinnamon Filling mix*
3 to 4 tablespoons water
*Or substitute 3 tablespoons butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon for the Baker's Cinnamon Filling mix and water.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
3/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons Signature Secrets(r) Culinary Thickener or cornstarch
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup cinnamon chips or butterscotch chips

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake papers, or grease it lightly.

Prepare the topping by mixing the ingredients together until crumbly. Set aside.

Prepare the filling by mixing the Baker's Cinnamon Filling with enough water to make filling with a soft, pudding-like consistency. Set it aside.

To make the batter: In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, milk, and eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, including the chips. Add the dry mixture to the liquid, stirring just until combined.

Divide half the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Dollop 2 teaspoons cinnamon filling onto each muffin, then top with the remaining batter. Sprinkle with topping, pressing it in lightly.

Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they're golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and wait 5 minutes before transferring them from the pan to a rack to cool. Yield: 12 muffins.
Perhaps tomorrow I'll join the hare krishnas, or get a tattoo (oh wait...I already HAVE one...), or WHATEVER other fad is sweeping popular culture right now....sigh again...
Here's hoping YOU weren't SUCKED IN by a recent fad (even though, from what I have seen, THIS ONE IS REALLY COOL...!!!!)...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

THAT Can't Be Good...!!!! appears the "redevelopment" of the former golf course next to our complex has worked it's way's the view I had through the trees from my deck a few days ago...DISLIKE!!!!!!!!

Here's hoping "redevelopment" isn't encroaching upon YOUR territory too!!!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

London Trip...Day FOUR!!!

On our last FULL day in London, after ANOTHER hotel breakfast of sausages, scrambled eggs, and baked beans (I added TOAST this time, to "mix it up"), we headed back to Picadilly Circus to try to purchase tickets for a West End show.  We were lucky to be early enough to snag a couple of back row seats to "The Lion King" at the Lyceum Theatre.  I've wanted to see it for SEVERAL years now, so was very happy to get them!

After Picadilly Circus, we headed to the British Museum.  As was the case everywhere, it was CRAZY BUSY, but we were able to see many cool things...the Rosetta Stone (the actual stone...not the "learn a language" kits you can find at the airports...), Egyptian statuary, Lindow Man (totally cool!), the Parthenon sculptures, mummies, glass from the 1st century A.D., treasure troves dug up in farm fields, clocks, German fairy tale illustrations, Roman armor, Easter Island statues...and a REALLY REALLY cool gift shop!!!!

After looking at all the sculpture from Greece, we decided that, in any given spot in that country, there must be a TON of marble penises and noses lying around, because most of the statues we saw were missing them!!!!!

After the museum, we looked through a couple of the tourist shops near the museum, and OF COURSE found a cheesy photo op outside one of them...!!!!

We then had lunch at a fun little place called All-Bar-One. 

I was able to order a Pimm's Lemonade (THANKS Tena and Andrew!), and enjoyed my first (and only) "Bubble and Squeak"...YUM!!!!

After lunch, we headed to Kensington Palace.  Kensington is where, most recently, Princess Diana and Prince Charles lived, and raised William and Henry.  Earlier in it's existence, it was the residence of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and their children.  Before that, it was the residence of Queen Anne, whose tragic life included EIGHTEEN miscarriages.  She had ONE son, William, who died when he was 11...a very bizarre story, with an even more bizarre "exhibit" telling their tale...

They had a really cool display of some of Diana's dresses as we first entered the palace.  To get there, we had to go down a hallway with this AWESOME Diana wallpaper...

After the Diana exhibit, we headed to the bizarre Queen Anne exhibit...

After trying to figure out what the HECK was going on, we left the exhibit, and headed to the part of the castle featuring the stuff about Queen Victoria.  It was very interesting...we all think of Queen Victoria as the dour old woman, dressed in black...

...but her life started out very differently. 

She met and fell in love with Prince Albert. They were married and had nine children.  They were blissfully happy until his death from typhoid fever in 1861.  After he died, she went into mourning.  The traditional time period for mourning a death was around 11 years.  Queen Victoria went into seclusion and mourned Prince Albert for 40 years.

Much of the exhibit was explained through journal entries from Queen Victoria's diaries.  Very personal...very sweet...very sad...!

After the palace we spent a little time in the garden.

After the palace, we shopped the High Street.  We hit "T.K. Maxx" (T.J. Maxx here in the states) AFTER they let everyone back in (apparently there was a suspicious character in the store, and they ordered everyone out), Marks & Spencer, and H&M (we were curious what items the British branches carried)...

We then took the tube back to the hotel, changed for the play, had "small plates" and wine in the lobby (yum!), then headed to the show!

On the way to the theater, we passed a plaza at the Covent Garden station that had a bunch of HUGE Easter eggs (part of a "find the Easter egg around London" contest was coming to an end). 

I found the PERFECT egg by which to have a photo taken...


After looking at a couple of the eggs, we headed to the theater...

I've wanted to see this show for YEARS, and I'm so glad we finally did!  What an AWESOME musical!!!  Unfortunately, our "young Simba" could sing his way out of a paper bag, but the rest of the cast MORE than made up for it.  What fun!!!!!!!!

My FAVORITE part was the opening number, in which the ELEPHANT came down the aisle beside us!!!  SOOOOOOO COOL!!!!!

After the show, we headed back to the Covent Garden tube station (after taking a few quick photos of the eggs...which seemed to multipy while we were in the theater!)...

...then went back to the hotel to pack, sleep, and get ready for the trip home!

Not much to blog about, regarding the last day of our trip...breakfast at the to the airport WAY too early.  OF COURSE the weather was perfect...sunny and warm.  LOOOOOONG wait to board the plane...

...(but we got business class again), then movies, meals, pampering, and a LOOOOOONG flight home!

What an AMAZING trip!  Here's hoping YOU were able to travel abroad and experience another part of our AWESOME world too!!!!