Friday 29 June 2012

Purple Ombre Cake!

 Happy Birthday, Nate!

Joan and I decided to surprise Nate Dogg with a purple ombre cake for his birthday earlier this month. He is an alumni at UW and a huge fan of the Huskies! It was only fitting to frost this cake in shades of purple...right!?

I originally found the idea for this cake from Glory of Glorious Treats. She did the cake in shades of pink and it was absolutely beautiful. I couldn't wait to try and recreate it. Joan and I split the project as it is time consuming and should be done in 2 days so you don't spend all day in the kitchen. On day one she made the cake layers and on day two she made the frosting in variations of purple. I then took over the project and assembled the cake layers and piped the frosting. 

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Three Pea Salad

I have had a lot of requests for a Summer Salad that everyone will love! This is the one for you!! It can be made a head, can easily go to the family pot luck or picnic!!

This combination of sugar snap peas, snow peas and green peas-dressed in a champayne vinaigarette blended with a touch of creme fraiche- this is yum, yum, yummy! 

Monday 25 June 2012

Chicken breasts with mango

Mango's, I love them. I eat a mango every morning! It is so good for you! This recipe is originally adapted from a cookbook named "Fruit", I made this while studying under Eva Kenly,who changed a few things. I have changed a few more things as usual! I think you will enjoy this delicious Summer recipe.

Friday 22 June 2012

Hike Week! Mt. Si and Lake Serene awesome!

Hike week was so popular, they want to go again in July! We all loved it! Mt. Si was our "challenge day hike", beautiful sunny weather, we hit this right on!! 180+ degree views, beyond Seattle, Snoqualmie Valley and Mt. Rainier. Five women family members and a dog started at 9:30 AM up and reached the summit at 11:30AM. No words can explain how beautiful the entire experience was. Thursday, we hiked Lake Serene, which arguably could be as much challenge as Mt. Si! The Lake Serene hike which includes Bridal Veil Falls is awesome.

On top Mt. daughter Holly and I! We organized hike week and made it fun!

Mt. Si
Roundtrip 8.0 miles
Elevation Gain 3150 ft
Highest Point 3900 ft

Mount Si should be experienced at least once by every hiker. In fact, a significant number of Puget Sound residents do just one hike per year, and these annual hikers almost invariably turn to Mount Si every time. In the early spring, mountain-loving backpackers and climbers use the trail as a tune-up for the coming season. Others come because the trail is one of few that becomes snow-free early in the year. Land managers estimate that Si draws between thirty thousand and fifty thousand visitors a year, making it the most heavily used trail in the state. As a result, on any sunny summer weekend the trail will be crowded--almost to the point of having to take a number and get in line. Really, it's not that bad, and the steep trail soon separates the serious hiker from the casual mall walker. And Si's payoff is incredible: views of the Upper Snoqualmie Valley, the Puget Sound basin, and far beyond. We were hiking on Wednesday, no too many hikers.

From the broad parking lot, the trail climbs moderately for 1 mile to the first views of the long hike. Here, at around 1600 feet, you'll find wonderful views from atop a rocky bluff on the side of the mountain. Hikers short on time and stamina could turn around here for a modest 2-mile outing.

Holly, Allie, Amy and Sarah! At the start of the trail!

As you near the 1.8-mile mark, you'll sweep alongside a small brook, with grassy banks on which to rest. This is Snag Flat--the site of an old burn, as evidenced by the blackened scars on the trunks of many of the old Douglas-firs in the area.

The trail then pushes on, never wavering from its steep ascent, until you finally crest the last slope and step out into the wildflower-filled meadow at the summit, or rather, the summit basin. The true summit of Si is atop the big rock "haystack" that towers over the edge of the meadow. The haystack does sport a scramble path to its summit, but the route is tricky, with incredible exposure (one slip and you'll plummet hundreds--thousands?--of feet). It's best not to attempt the Haystack, especially considering the added danger of other people kicking loose rock down, creating deadly missiles from above. Besides, the views atop the rock are no better than those you'll enjoy from the meadows at its base. 

Our lunch spot!

We are family!! My two nieces, my daughter, my daughter-in-law and I.

Driving Directions: From Seattle drive east on I-90 to exit 32 (436th Avenue SE). Turn left (north) over the freeway and drive 0.5 mile to North Bend Way. Turn left (west), and in 0.25 mile turn right (north) on Mount Si Road. The large trailhead parking lot is on the left, 2.5 miles down the road. You will need a

Lake Serene-Eleven hikers and three dogs hiked on the final day! Allie (my niece), her daughter's, Cierra and Cirena and her son Drake; Sarah(my niece) and her daughter, Victoria and son's, Hunter and Kelton; Sweet One (Amy), Holly and me! Pups included Emma, Penelope and Bandit.

 Final hike! Lake Serene!

 Towering and formidable, Mount Index is perhaps the most awesome and fiercest sight and site along US 2. But softening its stark appearance is Bridal Veil Falls. Emanating from beneath the mountain's austere crags, the tiered and tumbling cataract drapes over granite slabs. To really appreciate this plummeting waterway, however, you'll need to leave your vehicle and hit the trail. Make sure to have your NW trail pass (details in driving directions) And in your journey, discover a secret - there's a beautiful lake perched beneath those rugged spires feeding those falls.

Lake Serene

Start by following an old road lined with mossy maples and alders. Cross a series of minor tributaries. Pretty in their own right, especially after a storm, these streaming streams are also eroding away chunks of tread. Next, along a thickly forested slope, the trail gradually ascends. At 1.7 miles, just after leaving the old roadbed, come to a signed junction (elev. 1200 ft.). The trail left continues on, heading to "secret" Lake Serene tucked in a deep basin beneath the spires of Mount Index.

For Bridal Veil Falls, head right. The falls is 0.5 mile away. Just follow the roar, using a series of short switchbacks and stairways that steeply climb toward the tumult. Cross several side creeks and expect to get your feet wet. Be sure to pause for a moment or two to look back at the Skykomish Valley spread below. One last grunt and reach the first of two waterfall viewing platforms.

Beautiful Falls, my camera, just couldn't capture this magnificent sight.

Except for late summer, when the falls trickle more than pummel, the roar is pretty deafening at this point. Don your rain parka and set out on a drenched boardwalk to embrace the cascade's full force and beauty. Bridal veil? From this proximity, it's more like a bridal shower. Literally soak up the falls beauty. When you've had enough, retreat to the trail junction and make a decision. Back to your rig, or up to Lake Serene?

Serene usually wins, so carry on. Continue on the main trail, dropping a little into a damp ravine. Cross Bridal Veil Creek on a well-built bridge, and then begin climbing. On solid tread that occasionally utilizes stone steps and rock cribbing, the trail steeply ascends. A long sweep east - then a long sweep west - the way works under, over, and around cliffs, gaining 1300 feet in about 1.5 miles. Take in fine views of the valley below as well as out to Ragged Ridge and other peaks of the newly minted Wild Sky Wilderness.Incredible beauty, one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever been on, but trust me when I say, your muscles will be screaming. Not many hikes have these many stairs. This hike should be called Stairmaster trail. After you see the last fall,the incline begins with hundreds of stairs which makes it a great thigh burning workout. All in all a amazing day hike. I highly recommend it for a sunny day.

These steps are mild, most are tall and thigh screamers!!

And Lake Serene? It lies just a short distance ahead tucked in a tight basin beneath the ramparts and parapets of fortress Index. Stare straight up those 3000-vertical-foot stark walls. Hardly serene, it's more like awe-inspiring. But when the basin is calm, those imposing rock faces delicately reflect in the lake's surface. Now, that's serene and an unbelievably beautiful sight.

Kelton and Holly enjoying the peaceful view of Lake Serene and their yummy lunch!

Lunch time!

*I took over 100 pictures on this hike, take your camera, it is in my opinion the most beautiful waterfall in Washington, at this time of year.

Driving Directions: From Everett, follow US 2 east to the hamlet of Gold Bar. In Gold bar stop at the Gold Bar market or the Expresso shop across the street from the market and buy your NW Recreation day pass ($5.00). Continue on US 2 for 7 more miles to just before it crosses the Skykomish River (near milepost 35), and turn right onto Mount Index Road. Proceed on this dirt road 0.4 mile, turning right on the spur road signed "Lake Serene Trail 1068." The trailhead and large parking area are 500 feet farther (elev. 600 ft.). Privy available. There is a small area about 1/4 mile before you get to the main lot, that you could park if you don't have a day pass. But, that area can hold maybe 4 cars. When we arrived in the main lot at 9:45 AM on Thursday, there were two other cars, but as we were putting our boots on, many more came pouring in. When we arrived back from our hike, it was full.

My muscles are a little sore and my body a little lethargic, but, I weigh a little less, lost a few inches and am without question feeling healthier than last Saturday!!

 Final Hike Week Stats-

 6 Day totals:
46.6 miles
11,670 elevation gain

Now off to Lake Chelan today, for the Family vacation, we have been doing for 28 years!! My kids grew up going, every June when they were out of school! We have over 20 family members going this year! I will be covering "What to do in lake Chelan" next week, and a few recipes!!

Have a Fabulous weekend! YOU ROCK! LOVE THIS LIFE!! Cheers! JJ

A Trillium! Picking a trillium seriously injures the plant by preventing the leaf-like bracts from producing food for the next year. A plant takes many years to recover. For this reason in Michigan, Minnesota and New York, it is illegal to pick and/or transplant trilliums from public lands without a permit from the State. On the Lake Serene hike, I saw hundreds along side the trail. I love this flower, and always have. When in Middle School, I made a herbarium with over 100 wild flowers, my favorite was the Trillium.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Hike Week 2012- Pump it up! Some healthy sandwich wraps and salads too!

Summertime! Yippee!

Monday was the third hiking day, of hike week. We are having a lot of fun and

challenging ourselves everyday. If you live in the area, or are vacationing in the area, I would recommend the Rattlesnake Trail, leaving from the trail head off of exit 27. There are three different hikes, off this trail. Beautiful forest's and views waiting for you to explore and soak in. If you can, hike during the week, as there are very few people.Take your whistle and your bear spray, as there are bears.

Monday's hike-

 Squak Mountain Eastside loop
Roundtrip 7.0 miles
Elevation Gain 1700 ft
Highest Point 2025 ft

There is no real views on this hike, but a good, ambitious hike through the woods.

It's appropriate that this hike begins in the heart of Issaquah. In the language of the native tribes, Ishquowh means "sound of water birds." The raspy name of this mountain destination, meanwhile, comes from the raucous calls of the herons that migrate through this area in the spring and fall--their mighty squak, squak, squak! echoes off the forested slopes of Squak Mountain.

From the parking area, head east on Bush Street to its junction with Front Street. There is plenty of parking across from the police station and a final public bathroom at the Front Street market. Cross at the light and turn south onto Newport Way. Follow Newport Way as it crosses Issaquah Creek and then continue south on Wildwood Boulevard as it climbs out of town, soon turning to gravel road as it follows the creek up a gentle slope. When you reach the old Issaquah Creek Dam, you'll find a paved trail winding past some apartments and condominiums. A fast pace gets you past these buildings in just a few minutes and you'll soon reach the Squak Mountain Access trailhead on the left side of the street, about 1 mile from your starting point. There is very limited parking here, for those that can't or won't make the hike through town.

That first mile serves to remind you of what you are about to leave behind. As you start up the trail, you'll enter a world that is in transition back into a natural wonderland. The trail is an old road once used by coal miners and loggers. For the first 0.75 mile on this road-turned-trail path, stay left at the first two trail junctions before turning right to continue climbing.

At roughly 2 miles from your car, you'll find yet another fork in the trail (elev. 1450 ft). Turn right and follow the Central Peak Trail as it climbs gently for another 3/4 of a mile, then a push for about a 1/4 of a mile, where your muscles will be screaming, to the summit of Central Peak--the peak bristles with radio and cell-phone towers. Last year this area was overgrown with needles and brush, it is all cleared now. You'll find a few broken views from around the legs of the towers, but no real reward in views.

Leave the summit by walking 0.25 mile down the dirt service road before turning left onto a steep woodland path. Turn left at the next trail junction (about 0.25 mile after leaving the service road), and continue descending along an ancient logging road turned trail. This trail ends at a T junction near an old mill site.

Turn right onto the East Side Trail and meander through a bright woodland, crossing the multiple head water streams of Cabin Creek, before reaching the trail end and the short walk back through town to your car. I found it helpful to put cairn's (stack of rocks) at each intersection, as this is a loop, that feeds back into the trail and several other trails feed in as well, it can be confusing, which way to turn. We had our tracking dog, Emma, on the one intersection, we didn't put a cairn.

Driving Directions: From I-90 take the Front Street exit into Issaquah, and drive south on Front Street to turn right onto Bush Street. Free parking is provided in the Issaquah Trail Center parking lot.

Lunch provided by Holly, included a delicious wrap, sliced apple and some dry roasted almonds.

Holly's wrap
spinach tortilla roasted chicken
shredded carrots

Animal Kingdom! Holly, being creative and fun, wrote a name on each bag, we drew out a bag out of her pack and on the bag was the name of a animal. She told us for the afternoon entertainment and photo shoot, we would imitate that animal. 

                                            Crazy family fun!!

*Sunday's hike which I featured in Monday's blog, Amy made a delicious veggie wrap, that I thought I should share.

Amy's Grilled veggie wrap
grilled yellow squash
grilled zucchini
grilled green and red peppers
caramelized onion
Spicy three pepper hummus
Whole wheat tortilla

Tuesday hike- Rattlesnake Mountain Trail
Roundtrip 10.9 miles
Elevation Gain 2520 ft
Highest Point 3500 ft
 Location:  Off I-90 near North Bend
Distance:  5 miles r/t to Stan's Overlook; about 10 miles r/t to Grand Prospect; 12 miles r/t to East Peak; 10.9 mile traverse to Rattlesnake Lake
Elevation:  Snoqualmie Point trailhead 980'; Stan's Overlook 2100'; East Peak 3500

If you've hiked to Rattlesnake Ledges and beyond from Rattlesnake Lake, this is a delightful alternative.  Thanks to the handiwork of the trail community, you can now reach Rattlesnake Mountain from the west, starting from a new trailhead at Snoqualmie Point.
Expect more solitude on this approach, and enjoy the fantastic views out over the Snoqualmie Valley, Mount Si, Mount Teneriffe, North Bend and more.  You can choose to hike to one of the pleasant viewpoints along the way, to Rattlesnake Mountain, or as a traverse all the way to Rattlesnake Lake (11 miles).  The views are some of the best in the Cascade foothills and the trail can be hiked year-round, though it can be snowy in winter.
The trail was officially dedicated in June 2007, though people have been hiking along a mix of trail and logging roads for years.  Now the trail winds its way through mostly second-growth forest, crossing a few logging roads and requiring just a few stints on old roads.
The trail follows I-90 fairly closely, but there are times you don't remember that it is there.  Still, the reality of being in a managed forest does intrude - you do see and walk through clearcuts.  Fortunately, the forest canopy does get more mature as you go, and there is a delightful progression of ecosystems along the way.
The first nice viewpoint is Stan's Overlook, about 2.5 miles in (elev. 2100').  From there you can see Mt. Si and the Snoqualmie Valley.  Next up, and a fine turn-around for those not traveling end-to-end, is Grand Prospect at about 4.9 miles.  This precipice is due south of the town of North Bend.  At six miles and 3500 feet is the high point of East Peak - great views abound from here!  Then it is downhill to the Ledges (8 miles) and ending at Rattlesnake Lake (that is, if you've stashed a car here).
This trail system is the result of thousands of hours of hard work by trail crews from  Washington Conservation Corps, Earth Corps, and Washington Trails Association (WTA's handiwork was up to the Ledges from Rattlesnake Lake), all jointly managed by the Mountains-to-Sound-Greenway and DNR.  If you see a crew, please take the time to thank them!

 More Information: We did find prodigious and fresh tree scraping by bears along the trail, along with bear sign(poop). Dozens of trees damaged. We have never seen it to that extent on Snoqualmie. The trail is dry and well maintained and moves through thinned second growth. Lot's of Salmon berries and huckleberries, no wonder the bears like it. 

The scratches are from bears claws, tearing the bark off the tree, hunting for bugs. There were dozens of these trees along the path, most likely hundreds, if you wandered off the path.

  This approach to Rattlesnake Mountain is still so new that none of the published guidebooks describe it.  The trail is well-marked! It is really a nice trail and hike!

Directions from Seattle/Issaquah:

To Snoqualmie Point Park, take I-90 east to Exit 27.  At the end of the off-ramp, go right and follow the road to the end.  Go through the gate on the right to enter the trailhead. Lovely parking area, with restroom facility.
To Rattlesnake Lake, take I-90 to Exit 32.  Go south on 436th Ave. SE, turning into Cedar Falls Rd. SE - follow this main road 3.1 miles to the parking area for Rattlesnake Lake.  To reach the trail follow an old roadbed that circles the lake to the right (as you look at it).

Sweet One, Holly and Allie!

Today's lunch was provided by me, included, Harvest Salad, a plum and some pistachio's.

Harvest Salad
M√Ęche lettuce
baby arugula
grilled chicken
sun-dried cranberries
manchego cheese
wheat berries
Marcona almonds
Champagne vinaigrette

Sweet One, Holly and me!!

 Hike week is going well, we are on our 5th hike today, Wednesday. We decided to do challenge hike today and a new pretty hike on Thursday, so that Allie (my niece) could bring her teenage daughters, and they would survive it. I will write about today's hike and the final hike on Friday!

Happy Hump Day! Cheers! JJ

Monday 18 June 2012

Skinny dip anyone? PNW hikes, Its Hike Week!!

Everyone loves a good dip! If you have ever left the party with the regretful overfull feeling, this one's for you! Summer is party time, so many birthdays, family reunions, vacations and party, party, party! When it is party time most of us tend to do the mindless eating pattern, munching, dipping and drinking, a huge source of calories. Many dips are made with high fat, high calorie ingredients and yes.... they are yummy. With the Fourth of July coming soon, I am giving you a yummy dip that is really good for you, and a bit less than 60 calories for a tablespoon.

Pictured, Pistachio dip, salsa, and a Horseradish dip.

Pistachio Pesto
adapted from Diane Morgan

This decadent  pesto is so yummy. One whole batch, about 1 1/2 cups or 24 tablespoons is 1400 calories. I served this with Naked sea salt pita chips, everyone loved it. The first night I made it, my son in law devoured the entire bowl (half batch)! The second time, I made a full recipe,  he wrapped up the little bit left, for dipping on another night! It should be served room temperature, so, if you make it ahead, take it out about 45 minutes ahead.

Thursday 14 June 2012

Men and their Toys! Salted Butter Caramel Sauce

                                     Happy Father's Day!

My hero, my Dad. He was someone I looked up to, whom I idolized, and who helped form, who I am today. I miss him, but honor him on Father's Day and he honor's me, with fond memories. Dad, your guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever.

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Risotto! It's Italiano!

Risotto isn't as difficult to make, as some people would have you believe. Once you achieve the basic techniques, you’ll find it’s easy to make. I love that it's an all season food, I have Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring versions, and I’m always inventing new recipes! You can too!! I've said it before, think of what YOU like, then put it into the risotto, you will have a version you like and can claim as your own! Often, I just take a look at what's in the refrigerator and put something together! 

Monday 11 June 2012

Peanut Butter Smoothie and Dark Chocolate Shortbread!

 Peanut Butter Smoothie

This smoothie is one of my favorites! If you like peanut butter, this one is for you! It has just the right amount of banana, peanut butter and creamy goodness!

Friday 8 June 2012

"Me want cookie!!" Cookie Monster Cupcakes!

Happy Friday, everyone! I have another cute cupcake recipe I would like to share with you. I made these little guys for our grandma's 92nd birthday. It was really more for the kiddos as I knew they would get a kick out of them. 

This creative idea came from Robin at -she does some amazing things with cupcakes and cakes!

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Shrimp dogs! A play on pigs in a blanket!

OM Gosh!! Too fricken cute! On Pinterest I found the cutest little piggies in a blanket, that looked like little shrimp. I re-pinned, but found that the original pinner, had just pinned a picture,  no tutorial, no other information. Googling took us to a website in Europe, but no tutorial. This Pinterest pin was re-pinned over 400 times!!! Everyone was commenting and complaining!

Go forward a couple of weeks. I get a request for some cute ideas, for a little boys Birthday party. I immediately thought of the little "Shrimp dogs"! They look like the shrimp on "Shark Tales", especially in the eyes. I volunteered to make them as a favor to friends and gift to their son. Link to a movie clip with the shrimp

Sweet One was still here visiting, so she and I made them. I figured out how to make them, and made the tutorial! Sweet One and I laughed and had so much fun making them, I still am giggling!! They are easy to make, can be made ahead and frozen and do not take a lot of time. My friend was thrilled and said, "their too cute to eat!"

Monday 4 June 2012

Back to Health Monday!! Joan's Wheat Berry salad

Wheat berries pack a hefty nutritional punch. Just half a cup of the tiny kernels contain a little more than 100 calories and are a good source of fiber, protein and iron. Wheat berries are the native grain from which flour, bread and pasta are made. They are also delicious when cooked and added to soups, salads, vegetables and fruit dishes. Some recipes with wheat berries will specify that the grains be soaked prior to cooking. Although soaking the wheat berries is not a necessity, it will cut down on the cooking time.

Friday 1 June 2012

Butterfly Cupcakes! 'Sweet Ones' Sweet Shop!

Hi there! My name is Amy and most of you have seen pictures of me on the blog as well as some pictures of my sweet creations as Joan has featured me a couple times. This is my very first solo blog entry...ever! I am Joan's daughter-in-law, and her son and I live in Seattle with our two pups.

 One of my hobbies is baking sweet treats! My passion is cupcakes. I love color, design and sweets...and really love bringing all three of those things together! This is the place where I will be sharing my creative passions with you.