Tuesday, September 1, 2015

September Already?!


Taking off into September

In many ways, September feels like the busiest time of the year: The kids go back to school, work piles up after the summer's dog days, and Thanksgiving is suddenly upon us. - Brene Brown

Image from the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2015 


      

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Spicy Bacon Cheddar Muffins



After our visit to the annual Roswell Farmers' Market only a week ago my husband and I were tempted to attend as vendors. We only had a couple of days to decide what we wanted to offer to visitors and I came up with a few recipes for muffins and cakes. We baked the goods in our kitchen and brought them to the market last Saturday. The response was much better than I expected. A real success, to be true. 

In this post I am sharing with you my, now famous, Spicy Bacon Cheddar Muffins recipe. Since more and more people are becoming sensitive to gluten, I used a high quality gluten-free baking mix. You can use regular flour to bake them, but remember to adjust the amounts of ingredients and add baking powder.

Ready for the market! 
Spicy Bacon Cheddar Muffins

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix
  • 8-10 slices of smoked bacon
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup milk (use water if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter (you can use the fat from frying bacon if you prefer)
  • 2 Tbsp crushed hot chili pepper
  • 1 tsp Celtic sea salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried crushed thyme 
  • 1 egg, beaten until liquid
  • 1/2 tsp crushed hot pepper

Tools: 
  • frying pan
  • large mixing bowl
  • balloon whisk
  • 12 medium cup muffin baking pan 
  • pastry brush
  • cooling pastry rack 
   
Method:
  • Preheat oven to 350°F/around 176°C.
  • In a frying pan fry bacon slices until crispy. Remove from pan and allow to cool on a sheet of kitchen paper. Once bacon slices cooled off crush them with a wooden spoon into a small chunks. Set aside.
  • Transfer the baking mix into a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, milk and melted butter. Using balloon whisk mix the ingredients until you obtained a smooth, flowing batter. Add crushed bacon, shredded cheese, and spices. Mix well. The batter should be slightly flowing, but not too thick and not too thin.
  • Depending on the type of your baking pan you may want to use paper cupcake liners or melted butter to prevent the muffins from sticking to the pan. Prepare your baking pan accordingly and fill each cup about 2/3 with the batter.
  • Place the baking pan in the preheated oven and bake for 18 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the oven. Using a pastry brush spread the beaten egg over the muffins. Sprinkle some hot pepper flakes and place the baking pan in the oven for another 2-3 minutes. 
  • Insert a toothpick to test whether muffins are fully baked. When toothpick comes out completely dry, your muffins are ready. 
  • Remove the muffins from the baking pan and place them on a cooling pastry rack. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes.

These muffins will kick you out of your socks. They are perfect for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eat them instead of your traditional bread rolls with fried eggs, soup or salad. Enjoy in good company!

By Dominique Allmon

Dominique Allmon©2015 

      

Thursday, August 13, 2015

How to Pack Luggage For a Flight



He who would travel happily must travel light. - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

If you travel a lot you probably have your own luggage packing routine. You know what you will need during the trip, you know what to expect in your hotel, or what you will need when you get stranded at some airport when your connecting flight is delayed because of bad weather condition or a technical problem. 

When you travel as much as I do you are probably amused at the size of luggage people are carrying. Sometimes it seems that they have packed their entire household and if you asked them, they were not moving to another country, they were only going for a two-week vacation. 

Thanks goodness, airlines have a weight limit for the passenger's checked-in luggage and also a size and weight limit for their carry on. But there is always the giant sombrero someone bought in Mexico, or a fragile Balinese wood carving that make their way to passenger cabin and a surprised look on passenger's face when he learns that there is no space for such items in the overhead bins. 

So how to pack for a trip? 

What ends up in your suitcase depends entirely on the type of trip you are making and the duration of the trip. You pack differently for a vacation in the Alaskan wilderness than for a business trip to New York. As you can imagine, you probably do not need evening attire in the woods and you definitely do not need trekking boots at a board meeting, but there are things like undergarments, socks and personal care items that should always be in your luggage. 


It may also seem to inexperienced traveler that the longer the trip the more one has to pack. This is not necessarily true. When you plan to spend three weeks at a resort in Bahamas you can be sure that they have laundry and dry cleaning services, and that there is enough time to get your stuff washed or dry cleaned. This, depending on the hotel you are in, may not be possible on an overnight trip.

To minimize the size of your luggage try to pack items that match and can be worn together in different combinations. Pack enough socks and underwear and always make sure that you are prepared for the eventuality that the airline lost your bags. Here a story of a fellow passenger comes to mind. It happened many years ago on the flight to Novosibirsk, Russia. The man was greatly concerned because his luggage did not make it on time from another destination and he went to Russia without his suitcase. The airline promised to deliver his luggage with next flight. The next flight, however, was six days later. This might not have been a problem in London or Paris, but in Novosibirsk in the late 1980s there was not much you could buy. The only luck that this man had was the fact that this was August and not December. He probably went to his meeting in his not so fresh T-shirt.

Stories like this one are very common. To avoid unnecessary stress, have a change of underwear and socks in your luggage, a clean shirt, a pair of slacks, and a few other items you might need right away. Always plan enough time between the connecting flights. Your travel agent may not be as travel savvy as he claims. A little delay here and bad weather over there and your entire trip goes down the drain. Also remember that making a short connection when you have to run from one gate to another with three or four pieces of hand luggage is not as easy as you imagine.  

One last thing. Check the current security requirements and luggage regulations of your chosen airline. There are certain items you are not allowed to carry in your hand luggage and some that you are not allowed to put into your checked bags. Also check customs regulations for your final destination. This will tremendously help you to avoid unnecessary stress.

By Dominique Allmon

Dominique Allmon©2015




Image source here
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