April 28, 2012

One last day in New Orleans.

On Wednesday after the conference concluded, my uncle Tom, who had planned to come back to New Orleans for the evening, and his friend Laurie, picked me up from my hotel and we headed to Lafayette Square for Wednesday at the Square, a weekly event presented by the New Orleans Saints. The square was packed with people enjoying live music, food and drinks.

We listened to Theresa Andersson at the Square, who played great music for listening and dancing. Her band consists of all brass instruments, drums and an electronic keyboard. The musicians were so talented. 

After she finished singing, we headed to the River for Navy Week, an outreach effort by the U.S. Navy into areas of the country where there is not a significant Navy presence and to show Americans why having a strong Navy is critical to the American way of life. Beginning in New Orleans this week and continuing through 2015, the US Navy, US Marine Corps and the US Coast Guard will jointly celebrate the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the writing of The Star Spangled Banner. Cities along the Eastern Seaboard and Great Lakes will host signature events that include parades of warships and sailing vessels. In 2015, the tour will end in New Orleans, to celebrate the Battle of New Orleans.

With a couple friends of Laurie, we viewed the ships and watched fireworks and then headed to dinner at The Royal Oyster House. It was so fun to talk with Tom and Laurie and it was an excellent dinner to end my time in New Orleans.

Now, off to Chicago for the weekend to see my friend Sarah…



On my way back to Anchorage from New Orleans, I had a layover in Chicago...and decided to extend the layover throughout the weekend so I could spend time with one of my best friends from college. 

Sarah Jane and I met our sophomore year of college; my first year at UNI. We were fortunate enough to live on the same floor in Hagemann Hall with a great group of girls who have continued to stay friends. Sarah moved to Chicago after completing law school last spring and I've been excited to visit her ever since my travel was planned for the Promising Practices conference almost three months ago.

On Thursday when I arrived in Chicago, Sarah had to work through the afternoon, so I took the train and then walked to Letizia's Fiore Ristorante and Cafe, a coffee shop by day and vino bar by night, near Sarah's apartment in Logan Square and enjoyed a latte while catching up on work. 

After Sarah picked me up from Letizia's, we headed to her apartment, caught up on our lives and walked around Logan Square. We then ate dinner at Gosu, a Korean/Japanese restaurant just below Sarah's apartment. It was a great evening.

On Friday morning I watched Sarah defend a client in court and then the two of us spent the afternoon navigating downtown Chicago. We did some shopping and headed to Trader Joe's to stock up on goods for the weekend and for me to take back to Anchorage.

Friday night I was surprised by the arrival of Kala McCauley, another great friend from college, who flew from Kansas City to spend the weekend with the two of us. Sarah and I picked Kala up at the airport and then went to Logan Bar and Grill for a beer and some late night appetizers. The three of us talked like there had been no time spent away from each other...a quality I enjoy in good friends.

The rest of the weekend was spent enjoying enjoying each others company while walking and "training" around the city that Sarah calls home...

Kala and I helped Sarah "shop" for a new apartment. She will begin renting the third floor of the house above in June. It was so fun helping her decide where to live.

We ate lunch at 90 Miles Cuban Cafe, a restaurant a block away from Sarah's new apartment. 

Little did we know that it had been featured on the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

Train tracks with part of the Chicago skyline in the background...

On Saturday night we met up with some friends of Sarah's and went out to dinner and dancing downtown. 

Then, on Sunday morning, we went to brunch at Dunlays on the Square, a yummy eatery in Logan Square.

We did a little bit of window shopping and then went back to Sarah's place. I packed up and said farewell to Sarah and Kala and headed for the airport. 

It was wonderful catching up with Sarah and Kala, but I was very ready to get back home to Anchorage after a long nine days away from home.


April 26, 2012

Turkey meatloaf

April brought me feelings of springand new growth…and had me wondering if winter was really going to end. Oftentimes the weather (in addition to how much time I have to cook, whatingredients are in my refrigerator/cupboard and what Matt requests) will influencemy cooking.

On a particular day in April, when thesnow was falling and there was thawed turkey burger in the refrigerator, Idecided to make meatloaf, but of course, modified to my liking.

I searched the web and combined anumber of recipes to develop the recipe below. It turned out very nicely,although Matt and I agreed that adding a squirt of ketchup or mustard reallycomplimented the dish.

Turkey Meatloaf

1 white onion
1 TBS oil
1 yellow pepper
White mushrooms
1 lb ground turkey breast
Garlic powder
Dried Oregano
Dried Basil

1. Dice white onion. Heat oil in panand add onion. Cook onion until translucent. Take off heat and let cool to thetouch. Transfer to medium size bowl.

2. Dice yellow pepper and mushroomsand add to the onions. Mix.

3. Remove ground turkey breast frompackage/wrapping and add to the vegetable mixture.

4. Add garlic powder and herbs, totaste. (I didn’t measure these ingredients so I do not know how much of thegarlic powder and herbs I used in the mixture. These ingredients can be alteredto taste and should not effect the overall outcome of the dish. I wouldrecommend adding less than you may think you need since powdered garlic anddried varieties of herbs tend to be more potent in taste).

5. Use hands to combine allingredients until mixed evenly (feel free to squish mixture through yourfingers…it feels kind of good.

6. Shape mixture into loaf.

7. Spray loaf pan with nonstickcooking spray and place loaf into pan.

8. Cook meatloaf for 60 minutes at 375degrees.

The result is a very easy meatloafthat is healthy and tastes good without many added, unnecessary ingredients.The herbs and garlic powder really do highlight the meat loaf and the veggiesadd consistency and texture.

Matt and I enjoyed the meatloaf withItalian cut green beans. YUM.

Enjoy the recipe.


April 19, 2012

New Orleans continued.

After spending the weekend with Tom and his family, the next three days were spent attending the Promising Practices conference…an outstanding conference dedicated to ending tobacco related disparities…and enjoying the sites and sounds of New Orleans…

A frozen cafe au lait and beignet from Cafe du Monde... 

Samples of pralines at Aunt Sally's Praline Shop (and many others)...

The French Market...

People watching on Bourbon Street...

Drinks at the Roosevelt Hotel Bar...

Random parade down Canal Street... 


Dinner at Emeril's New Orleans (DELICIOUS)...

...and Bananas Foster for Joy at Brennan's (I had seafood gumbo!).

I hope you enjoyed a glimpse of N'awlins...


April 16, 2012

French Quarter Festival

French Quarter Festival...

What a great welcome to New Orleans. The sun what out and the temperature was just over 80 degrees. The French Quarter was packed with people and it was great to have a tour guide in my uncle Tom's friend, Laurie. Having lived in New Orleans her whole life, Laurie new the square and the food really well...

The atmosphere of Jackson Square was so authentic...full of food vendors and live music...

Joy eating turtle soup...yes, real turtle soup. It actually tasted quite good.

Ben had shrimp friend rice...

...and Laure shared her shrimp and crab meat merliton (pear shaped vegetable) with creole sauce.

After walking around the square, we strolled along the Mississippi River, where there were two stages with bands playing.

After Joy and I said farewell to Tam, Annie, Ben and Laurie, we walked around for a bit and made our way to Cafe du Monde for a beignet

We continued to walk around the French Quarter...making our way up and down the streets, taking in the sights and sounds of NOL.

Joy and I began to get hungry so we decided to eat at The Court of Two Sisters, a New Orleans classic.

We enjoyed a Mint Julep...

and shared grilled alligator sausage, two sisters three: crab meat, shrimp and craw fish and we each had a bowl of creole seafood gumbo.

We both agreed that the food was very good.

French Quarter Festival was a great experience and provided us with a nice taste of New Orleans. I'm excited to begin the conference tomorrow...and continue walking and tasting my way through NOLA.