Sunday, December 5, 2010

Holiday Biscotti

As promised, I have made a more festive version of my chocolate peppermint biscotti. This time the chocolate wasn't peppermint flavored, but I rather dipped them in crushed peppermint candy. I actually tried a new recipe for chocolate biscotti instead of using the healthier version made with egg whites and oil that I have made before. These are made with butter and the full egg, but I didn't mix in the regular and white chocolate chips that it called for. I like both recipes, so I'll probably use both of them in the future, depending on what I feel like. Hopefully these will be a big hit at our Christmas party and bake-0ff contest tomorrow.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ikea Cappuccino Cups

It's been a little over a month since I got my espresso machine and I finally got a set of cappuccino mugs so I could work on my latte art at home. I found these great plain 9 oz ceramic cups at Ikea for $4 for a cup and saucer set. Here's a picture of my first attempt at latte art with my own machine and cups. Soy milk, D'arte espresso and an Ikea mug . . . what a good combo.

Friday, December 3, 2010

What Did You Do This Week?

Amidst 101 other projects and things to do at work this week I got to stuff 500 letters into 500 books and stuff them into 500 envelopes and put 500 return labels on them.

And next week? We'll sign 500 cards, print out 500 address labels and put it all together.

. . . what a week.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rogalski Family

What a wonderful and beautiful family I have! Here's a few pictures we took after Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Surgery Day

Yesterday my day started with a simple trip to the dentist. One of my bottom wisdom teeth has been giving me occassional trouble since summer. A couple of weeks ago it was the worst it had ever been. It was so painful that I started taking medicine for it, and even part of my jaw became numb. So it was finally time to take care of it. I showed up at the dentist yesterday so they could pull it out since the tooth was already mostly out of the skin. But after looking at my x-rays the dentist discovered that my tooth was partially encased by bone and that the root was connected to the nerve at the bottom of the jaw. I risked nerve damage if the dentist pulled it out. So they scheduled me a rush surgery yesterday afternoon.

I ended up getting both of my bottom wisdom teeth taken out. The other was still under the skin but the surgeon said it was also held by bone and close to the nerve as well. (My top 2 wisdom teeth are already out of the skin, so the dentist will pull those out at Christmas). It turns out that age 25 seems to be the cut off for there being an increase in un-heal-able nerve damage to the lip, jaw and chin with a surgery like this. I'd wished my dentist would have warned me about that before my teeth ever started bothering me because these should have been taken out years ago as a preventative measure. I am right on the cusp age-wise for the higher risk of nerve damage, but already I have all of my feeling back! Yay!

The surgery went well. I was a little nervous about the IV, but it hurt way less than I thought it would. The doctor even thought I had a beautiful vein in my arm. He couldn't miss it. haha. I tried to remain as conscious as I could so I could remember how everything happened . . . but I don't even remember getting sleepy. When I started waking up, I actually thought that that was me starting to get sleepy. But I was already done! I have many gaps in my memory after waking up, and even things and conversations I had later yesterday that I thought I was "all-there" for, I am a little fuzzy on today. I do remember getting into the wheelchair and being proud of myself (I guess I gave a lot of thumbs up and thank yous to the doctor and nurses and my mom). At least I was a kind patient while I wasn't in my right mind. So I remember getting into the wheelchair, but I don't remember going down the elevator. I remember going through the front door to the parking lot, but the next thing I knew I was getting into the car. Like I said, lots of gaps.

I was put on the couch as soon as I got home. I think I fell asleep really fast. For hours after the surgery my mouth, cheeks, chin and tongue felt HUGE!! But there was no pain until a few hours later. My medicine must have worn off right as my dad got home with my prescriptions. I instantly got really dizzy and had a crazy heat flash. The pain was not fun either. But I took my meds, and instantly fell back asleep. Since then, the pain has been manageable. I was woken up this morning with miserable heartburn and another dizzy/nauseous/hot flash. I think it was because I took a pill in the middle of the night on an empty stomach.

I've had a few pretty bad moments, but generally it's all been fairly manageable. Already I can tell that with the one tooth gone, my mouth and face seem to feel happier. Ironically, the more painful one for healing is the tooth that was still under the skin, the one that wasn't bothering me. Maybe that's because there had to be more cuts into flesh. There's even a little piece of the inside of my cheek missing.

Anyways, sorry that was long. Even if recovering isn't fun, and even though this cost me a ton of money, I'm glad to have this all taken care of and I think I will be better in the long run.

First Snowfall. . .

Saturday morning I woke up to the first snowfall of the season! It was so beautiful. Nathan and I drove to Escondido after this first little snowstorm before the second one hit. I guess there's been another couple of feet since I've been home.

The view from my bedroom window

Getting ready to head down the mountain

On the drive

The storm clouds were so pretty with the setting sun behind them.

Pumpkin Shortbread Cookies

For last week's Thanksgiving potluck dinner with our community I decided to add a twist to a traditional shortbread cookie. I used my mom's shortbread recipe that I remember having as a kid each Christmas. Then I made a butter cream frosting, added food coloring, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. A little sprinkle of cinnamon finished them off. The cookie part was great, and my pumpkin-ish frosting was also really yummy . . . but I think shortbread is better left alone. Why mess with a good thing? But these must have been a hit since they were all eaten up.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Taking the Show on the Road

Yesterday I packed up my espresso machine and grinder, four pounds of coffee, a couple of syrup flavors and all my coffee accessories and left to enjoy a week of Thanksgiving vacation with friends, family and good coffee.

An Afternoon With Rebecca

Today I got to see my wonderful friend Rebecca. What a great day.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thai Curry Soup

Ok, I just have to rave about this soup I had yesterday. It was the best thing I've eaten in a long time and is remarkably close (other than a different type of noodle) to the Thai soup I had in Thailand last year.

This came from Noodles & Company in Elk Grove. The restaurant serves basically anything you can do with noodles from mac 'n cheese, to chicken noodles soup to international noodle dishes. I was super impressed. This Thai soup had a coconut milk and curry broth with noodles, grilled tofu, mushrooms, tomatoes, cabbage, onions and some other stuff. It was amazing and totally hit the spot! I wish I knew how to make this. I'm so excited to have discovered Noodles & Company. But unfortunately, there's only 3 in California: Elk Grove, Roseville and San Diego.

Peppermint Chocolate Biscotti

Last week I made these peppermint chocolate biscotti. This is my main recipe for any chocolate biscotti I make. It's supposed to be a little healthier than normal biscotti recipes . . . but to liven them up I dipped them in peppermint chocolate. That's healthy right?

The recipe calls for them to be made with strong brewed coffee. Coffee haters have no fear . . . you can't even taste it. I think I'll make a more festive version of these for Christmas and put peppermint chunks in the dough and on the outside. In the meantime, here's the recipe in case you want to try it out. I think there's so many fun variations you can do with this. Don't worry, I'll let you know when I come up with new varieties. Let me know if you have any good ideas!

Prep: 30 minutes plus cooling
Bake: About 50 minutes
Makes: 48 biscotti

3 Egg whites
1/3 Cup vegetable oil
2 Tbs strong brewed coffee
1 Tsp vanilla extract
1 2/3 Cups flour
3/4 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup unsweetened cocoa
1 Tsp baking powder
1/4 Tsp baking soda
1/4 Tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease cookie sheet (I like to use parchment paper).
2. In a small bowl, beat together egg whites, oil, coffee (I used shots of espresso) and vanilla.
3. In a large bowl stir together flour and remaining ingredients and stir until combined. Shape mixture into two 12" by 1" logs. Place both on cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes.
4. Transfer logs to cutting board. Slice diagonally into scant 1/2 inch think biscotti. Arrange biscotti, cut side up, on cookie sheet.
5. Bake 20 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Store in airtight jar up to 1 month.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Homemade Pumpkin Latte

This was my homemade pumpkin latte. It consisted of two shots of espresso, steamed milk, a little of the Torani pumpkin spice syrup (which really doesn't taste like pumpkin at all), a dash of allspice and cloves in the drink and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. Yum!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Handmade Wood Coasters

Check out my new set of coasters. They are handmade by Charles from some "special wood" that I probably shouldn't have in my possession. But since I live in the National Park . . . we'll just say it's ok since the tree hasn't left it's natural environment.

This is a set of eight, and they came in their own handy-dandy little holder. I love them and will enjoy them with many cups of coffee tea this winter.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

An hour and a half, a bruised lip, and a pound of coffee later . . .

Finally, this coffee lover has bought her first espresso machine!! It's a Rancilio Silvia with the Rocky doser grinder, bought from (And aside from my college education, this is the most expensive thing I've ever bought. Eek!) These machines are pretty much the same price everywhere online, but Seattle Coffee Gear offered the most "freebies" with it. Like: shot glasses, a thermometer, cleaning supplies, a milk steaming pitcher, a tamp, and a free pound of coffee. Everything to get you started as a home barista. Thanks Seattle Coffee Gear!

It came in the mail yesterday and I spent the afternoon figuring it all out. Espresso is a very temperamental thing, even the slightest change of bean, grind or temperature can change the way the shots pull. My first shots were really bitter, but an hour and a half and a whole pound of coffee later . . . I finally had some semi-usable shots!

And the bruised lip? I was washing the tray and when I was drying it, somehow I pushed my hand off of it, and then the tray swung back and the edge hit me in the lip. So then I had a painful bruise, coffee and coffee grinds splattered all over my walls, counter and floor. But it was worth it! The learning curve can be pretty steep with a machine like this . . . but I was thrilled with the progress of one afternoon. It's only going to get better from here!

I can't wait to make you some coffee! Come on over :-)

So excited that my espresso machine is here!

This is the first time I've tamp'ed espresso since I left Coffee Bean 2 1/2 years ago. It was a great feeling!

The first lattes

Progress. These aren't perfect shots, but after a pound of coffee worth of bad shots, these looked really good and tasted waaaay less bitter than the earlier ones!

The fabulous duo!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fall in my Backyard

Since I've gotten my motorcycle I haven't done as much walking around. So today I did a little exploring in the forest next to my house. There are not a ton of trees and plants that change color here in the Sierra Nevadas . . . but the ones that do look amazing right now!

Chewy Molasses Cookies

Fall is my absolute favorite time to bake. Flavors like pumpkin, cinnamon, and gingerbread are just fabulous. The cooler weather means more time inside with friends, games, movies, good cups of coffee . . . and yummy treats. And if you hadn't noticed already . . . my baking tends to revolve around the things that go great with coffee and tea. This week I made some chewy molasses cookies. They are quick and easy to make. Feel free to be generous with the spices. I always add a little more.

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Ready In: 1 hr 20 minutes
Yields: 30 Servings

3/4 cups melted butter or margarine
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ginger

1. In a medium bowl, mix the melted butter, sugar and egg until smooth. Stir in the molasses. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Blend in the molasses mixture. Cover and chill dough for 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in white sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.

3. Bake 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven until the tops are cracked. Cool on wire racks.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Walk Around the Lake-Less

Every fall the lake here is drained in preparation for winter. I think it's so that the ice doesn't put too much pressure on the dam. Anyways, this year the lake is being drained basically to the bottom (normally there's a stream that runs through it) so that a valve on the dam can be fixed. Nathan and I took the opportunity to walk around the lake . . . actually rather in the lake, to see what there was. Here's some pictures from our afternoon. Nathan took all the pictures on my little camera . . . so I can't take credit for these.

Bears! There were tooooons of bear prints. Mountain lion ones too!

All the snails get left when the water goes down.

Cool shadows.

More snails.

Lakeweed and a stump that's always under water.

I found some crawdad looking thing.

It was very muddy. I didn't do so well. Thank goodness for Gore-Tex shoes.

Hmmm . . . umbrella in a tree stump?

The sign above me is the measure of how low the water is at the dam.

Us and the pretty sky . . . which you can't see here.

Ahhh, so pretty!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

My First Loaf

I have just entered into the world of baking loaves. I bought a loaf pan last weekend, and here is the result of my first attempt. Its a recipe for molasses spice muffins. I doubled the spices, added some ground cloves, made a crumbly top and then made a light vanilla sugar glaze (I think I'd do that a little thicker next time). Overall, I think it turned out great for my first loaf. Hopefully it will be the first of many more!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Gingerbread Scones

Devotees will remember my "not-so-sensational" blueberry scones from awhile back. I decided to make another attempt at scones and made some gingerbread ones today. They weren't nearly as bad as my other ones . . . but still aren't 100% what I'm looking for in scones. These had a good flavor, and the top which was slightly crispy from eggs whites and sugar baked on was really yummy, but the scone itself was a little dense for my liking. But at least I made some progress this time. I'm thinking my next ones will be great. Third time's a charm!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Latte Art - Training Day #2

Today I got to work on some latte art again. I got some new pointers, and I think I made a little progress. Here were two of today's creations.

We'll call that one a flower . . .

. . . and this one fire . . . or a leaf, whichever you think.