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Friday, January 30, 2015

DP Cheesesteaks, Salt Lake City, Utah

If ending the week with a post dedicated to Cheesesteaks is wrong,
 I don't want to be right.

I can't tell you how many times I passed this spot downtown, 
saw the line out the door, and drooled. 

DP Cheesesteaks stands for "Downtown Philly Cheese Steaks" and is located on  300 South 83 East downtown Salt Lake City.  There are 10 different cheese steak options as well as a chicken "cheesesteak" and a few other sandwich options.    The menu is simple... sandwich (regular or large), chips, drink.  Your order takes about 5 minutes so this is a great option for a lunch break or someone in a rush.  

My only complaint? 
They did not have french fries.  



These sauces (a horse radish and a jalapeno) absolutely made the sandwich 10x better.  And getting a punch card was probably a bad idea for my waist line. 


The hot cherry peppers in this sandwich were amazing.  The perfect amount of heat.  And the bread was out of this world.   I also opted for provolone, but traditional philly fans don't worry, cheese wiz is also an option for each sandwich.  

Authentic philly cheesesteak? I don't know I will let you decide.  
All I know is that this was one delicioussss sandwich. 




Thatcher's large sandwich at $8.70, my regular sandwich at $6.45, chips for a dollar plus tax.  A delicious lunch for two for $17.55.  You can't beat that!

  If you need a quick, cheap, delicious lunch while visiting downtown Salt Lake City, DP Cheesesteaks should be on your list.  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Whole Crock Pot Chicken Recipe

At the end of the day, I am very thankful I am not an only child.  There are many lessons learned from living in a family with different personalities.  While my sister Ashley is only 13 months older than me, we are pretty much polar opposites.

BUT... I am not complaining because this means we kind of bring different skills "to the table".
Pun Intended.  

For example, one year I asked Ashley what she wanted for Christmas.  Without a seconds hesitation, she blurted "the Martha Stewart book on how to clean everything in your house".

This little story sheds light to her personality.  If Martha Stewart ever needed a side kick, Ashley would be your girl.  Dinner parties, cooking, cleaning and organizing are on her list of hobbies, which is great when I need a new recipe idea or some "how to" motivation.  When I asked her to share some of her favorite recipes with you all, she was really excited to share her recipe for cooking a WHOLE chicken in the crock pot.   I am going to have to teach her how to be a little more.. concise but if you read through, you will be rewarded with a cheap, delicious, and easy recipe. 

 And yes there is a quick and dirty version at the very bottom.



I’m Ashley Dwyer, Katie’s sister and I absolutely love cooking. I get a great deal of enjoyment creating meals for a dinner party or just me and my husband at home, so I love having versatile recipes that I can make for any occasion.

One of the things I love to make is a simple whole chicken. I feel people sometimes forget just how easy it is,  you can do so much with it, and if you’re having dinner guests has great presentation.  I often get an organic chicken from Stop and Shop on sale for about $6 making it cost effective on your grocery budget. I often buy two when they are on sale and freeze one for another day, then just place it in the fridge to thaw 1.5-2 days before I plan on making it.  Cooking a whole chicken in the crock pot gives you a juicy chicken with only 15 minutes of  prep in the morning. 

The best part about this is that you can alter the ingredients to what you have in your pantry for different flavors.  I feel the best way is to stuff all the delicious flavors and seasoning under the skin.  I like to be very descriptive so that anyone doing this for the first time will find it easy but apologize if it seems a little long, I’ve put a shorter summary recipe at the bottom as well.  So let’s start!



First I like to give my crock pot a quick spray of cooking spray to assist in clean up. This chicken was about 5lbs. Then, take your chicken out the package, making sure to remove and innards you don’t want. Some brands place it in the top neck cavity; others more commonly put it in the back opening. Nature’s Promise does not put them in a pouch for you just loose in there so make sure you get everything if you don’t want them. Rinse the chicken, pat dry and place in your crock pot.  Then mix in a small bowl the following ingredients in a small blow to create kind of a paste.

PASTE:  
-3 tablespoons of olive oil/softened butter (I think butter is a little yummier so I use that for when feeding guests and olive oil to make it a little healthier when it’s just us.
-1 small shallot diced fine
-3 minced garlic cloves (I love garlic so sometimes add more)
-1 zest from a lemon
-1 tablespoon of lemon juice
-1/2 teaspoon of paprika (sometimes I swap this for 3 tablespoons of mustard for a lemon mustard flavor, and works if you young children who would be deterred by the paprika making the chicken reddish)
-1 ½ teaspoon of Jane’s Crazy Mixed Salt (or just salt and pepper but if you’ve never had this you should try it)

Feel free to add whatever fresh or dried herbs you like or have on hand like rosemary, thyme or parsley. These make great additions


After I make my paste I prep my chicken. At the back of the breast I use a knife to cut a small slit in between the breast and the skin and use my finger to loosen the skin from the entire top of the breast to make a nice pocket.  

( I know it doesn’t look pretty but it’s not that bad and the taste is totally worth it getting all the flavors cooking into the breast.) 


Next, spoon 2/3 your paste into the pocket and push it to evenly distribute it under the breast. You can see it through the skin to make sure it’s all covered. Then I take the rest and put a little in the cavity and smother the rest on top of the skin sprinkling a little extra salt and pepper on top (depending on your taste). Sometimes I also take the lemon half I squeezed and put that in the cavity as well if you like a little extra lemon flavor. This whole process usually takes me about 15 mins in the morning.

*Note:  if you are rushed and don't feel like stuffing the breast and just want to season and go, I've read you can cook your chicken breast side down to cook in the juices that accumulate in the bottom. 



Next, set your crock pot on the LOW setting.   I like to add my in oven meat thermometer so I know where my chicken is in the cooking process.  Even a crock pot can dry out meat if left too long.  Usually it takes about 5-6 hours for me to cook a 5 lb chicken.

 I feel like my crock pot cooks faster than most recipes dictate so it’s important to know your crock pot. If yours is a little lower in temperature on the lower setting it could take up to 7 or 8. According to my thermometer chicken is don’t when the internal temperature hits 165 degrees. So when it gets to this I like to poke the inner thigh as well to be sure and put it on warm until I’m ready. 

I used to prep my chicken in the morning then put it in the crock pot at lunch time on a week day, or if you have a more sophisticated slow cooker and you know your crock pot you can time it to go to warm on its own after a certain amount of time.



Here is my chicken all done. If you’re like my husband where you love the skin but find it’s not as appealing when been in the crock pot so you can take the whole ceramic piece out of your crock pot and stick it under the broiler briefly to crisp up that skin.


See all the amazing juice and flavor that accumulated at the bottom of the crockpot when we added no liquid?  You can spook this over your cut piece as is or if you have guests coming and want to make the extra mile simply remove your chicken onto a serving platter and pour the juices through a sieve into a small pot/sauce pan. 

You may want to spoon the fat off the top as well then reduce down to thicker gravy, sometimes adding a tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with a few tablespoons of water to help thicken it and taste to check seasoning.

 Once you removed the meat you can make a yummy stock right in the crock pot as is with the carcass using every part of the chicken without having to pull out and dirty any pots. Simply remove your left overs, add whatever chopped veggies you have like carrots and an onion, fill the crock pot with water and let simmer on low overnight and wake up to a great tasting broth that you can store in the fridge for a day or two or freeze in an air tight container. It’s perfect to make some crock pot chicken noodle soup, or flavor rice with instead of cooking with water or some roasted potatoes.

I hope I’ve inspired you for an idea when you’re deciding next time what to make for dinner with something easy, cost effective, and can be made many ways.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Crock Pot Whole Chicken

Ingredients:
-Whole Chicken 4-6 lbs
--3 tablespoons of olive oil/softened butter -1 small shallot diced fine
-3 minced garlic cloves
-1 zest from a lemon
-1 tablespoon of lemon juice
-1/2 teaspoon of paprika (sometimes I swap this for 3 tablespoons of mustard for a lemon mustard flavor, and works if you young children who would be deterred by the paprika making the chicken reddish)
-1 ½ teaspoon of Jane’s Crazy Mixed Salt (or just salt and pepper but if you’ve never had this you should try it)
-Optional:  fresh or dried herbs you like or have on hand like rosemary, thyme or parsley.

Prepare and clean the whole chicken and place in the crockpot. Cut a small slit at the back end of the breast and use your finger to loosen skin making a pocket, you can do the thighs as well. Mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl to form a paste like texture and spoon 2/3 into pocket in between skin and meat, pushing down to evenly distribute. Rub the outside of the chicken and cavity with remaining paste. Sprinkle a little extra salt and pepper on the outside of skin and place the lid on your slow cooker. Cook on low for 5-7 hours or so depending on your crockpot until the breast and thigh reads an internal temperature of 165-170 degrees.

Optional:
-Remove ceramic part of slow cooker with the chicken and place under the broiler for a minute are so to crisp skin to your liking keeping a close eye.
-Take remaining juice from the bottom of the slow cooker and place in a small pot/sauce pan. Spoon off fat from top and reduce to make gravy. Season if needed and can also take 1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons of cold water to gravy to help thicken and pour over sliced meat.
-Once leftovers are removed from carcass make a stock by adding some chopped vegetables if you have them, filling the crockpot with water and letting cook on low overnight to wake up to some homemade stock for soup or cooking with rice or potatoes.

                                                                                                                                                         

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Gilgal Sculpture Garden, Salt Lake City, Utah

It is really fun to be a tourist in "your own city".  

I have been here for 5 months and still have so many restaurants to eat at and sights to see.  This weekend, the weather was in the high 50's (in mid January) and the sun was shining.  We decided to take the bikes (and Olive) for a bike ride down to the Gilgal Sculpture garden, smack downtown in Salt Lake City. 

It is about 1.5 miles from my apartment and right off 500 s right in the commercial/residential area  (749 E 500 S).



The park is basically a small garden between two residential houses, behind a commercial complex.  
Really odd location but it kind of adds to its funky charm.  


Now, a little about the park:

"The park, which is filled with unusual symbolic statuary associated with Mormonism, notably to the Sphinx with Joseph Smith's head, was a labor of love designed and created by LDS businessman Thomas Battersby Child, Jr. (1888-1963) in his spare time. The park contains 12 original sculptures and over 70 stones engraved with scriptures, poems and literary texts. Gilgal Sculpture Garden is the only designated "visionary art environment" in the state of Utah".  Wikipedia





"Thomas Child, a masonry contractor and Bishop of the 10th Salt Lake LDS ward, conceived of a symbolic sculpture garden that would be a retreat from the world and a tribute to his most cherished religious and personal beliefs.[1] He began building the garden in the back yard of his family home in 1947, when he was 57 years old, and continued to pour his time and money into the work until his death in 1963. Child named the garden Gilgal after the Biblical location where Joshua ordered the Israelites to place twelve stones as a memorial. The name "Gilgal" is sometimes translated to mean "circle of standing stones," an appropriate appellation for a sculpture garden. Gilgal is also the name of a city and a valley in The Book of Mormon, a sacred scripture in Mormonism.
Many of the sculptures and quotations found at Gilgal refer to LDS themes: the restoration of the Priesthood, the great Mormon migration west, and the many similarities Child saw between the ancient Israelites and his LDS forefathers".  Wikipedia 








 Thomas Battersby Child, Jr. sculpture 











The famous Joseph Smith Sphinx.  Quite funny!






Beehive 

A really funky and fun (free!) park.  If you are in the city and have some time to spare, check out this park.  I am sure it is even prettier in the summer with all of the flowers.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Trip Planning- Driving routes to Jackson Hole, Wyoming

 Five years ago, I was really lucky to be able to visit Jackson Hole, Wyoming.



I spent a week in the state of Wyoming and visited some pretty amazing places.  I ordered a drink in a western saddle at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.  I snowmobiled around Yellowstone National Park.  I spent four days skiing at Jackson Hole.  I took a sleigh ride around the National Elk Refuge. I saw my first real wild moose, up close and personal.
Just to name a few of my favorite things!  










I fell in love with this town, this ski resort, and this area in general. 
Like head over heels.
 By the end of the trip (and after a few drinks) the cowboy/taxi driver (he even wore chaps) and I were discussing future employment and stabling arrangements for my horse. 
 Cowboys and ski bums.
 It was a wonderful place for a longing 22 year old. 

Well, I never moved and five years later, I have been dying to go back. But between the expense of airfare and skiing, and budgeting ski trips and dive trips, I hav not been back. 
BUT--now that I live in Salt Lake City, Jackson Hole is an easy weekend trip. 

I did some research and apparently there are five routes from Salt Lake City to Jackson Hole, I found a blog that discusses three routes and different individuals commented on which route was best. 

Salt Lake City, Utah to Jackson Hole
just over 300 miles or between 4 and 5 hours

Taken from TetonGravity.com



Route #1: 
North from SLC through Utah and Idaho and then over Teton Pass
Note: This route is not recommended for those with RV's or trailers or during winter weather. Teton Pass is a steep, long pass.
Take the I-15 North out of Salt Lake City towards Pocatello, ID.
Take the US-20 Business/ Broadway St. (exit 118)
Turn right onto Broadway
Turn left onto N Yellowstone Ave./ ID-43/US-26.
Stay on US 26 to Swan Valley
In Swan Valley, turn left onto ID 31
Follow ID-31 to Victor, ID.
In Victor, turn right (East) on ID-33.
Follow ID-33 over Teton Pass where it Becomes WY-22
Follow WY-22 to US 89/Broadway.
--> If you're going to Teton Village, turn left at WY-390/ Moose-Wilson Rd.
--> before reaching US-89/Broadway. Teton Village is on the left @ 7 miles.

Route #2: 
Through Soda Springs, ID and Freedom, WY. 
Many locals think this is the quickest route.
Take the I-15 North out of Salt Lake City towards Pocatello, ID.
Turn Right at US-30 to Lava Hot Springs, Lund, and Soda Springs, ID
In Soda Springs, turn left at 3rd E. Street, which is ID-34.
You will be on a bridge crossing the Railroad tracks.
In about a block turn right on E. Hooper Ave. (part of ID-34)
ID-34 bends to the right at Greys Lake
As you enter Freedom,turn right on County Line Rd.
Continue less than a mile, and then turn Left at WY-239
Continue for about a mile and a half, then Turn Left on US 89 just after passing Freedom Arms.
Bear right at the US-26/ US-89 junction continuing North to Jackson on US-89
Bear left at Hoback Junction continuing North on US-89/ US-191
--> Note: if you're going to Teton Village, take a left at WY-22 just as you enter Jackson; then, turn right at the Moose-Wilson Rd./ WY 390.

Route #3:
 Through Evanston, WY.
 Although a bit longer than the other routes,
 this drive keeps you in big, wonderful Wyoming 
and on the East side of Idaho for most of the drive.
Take I-80 East out of Salt Lake
Take WY-89/ WY-16 North at Evanston
Bear right (East) continuing on WY-89/ WY-16 at sage Creek Junction
The road will end at US-30 where you will turn left
Continue north through Cokeville to Border Junction.
At Border Junction, Turn right onto WY-89/ WY-61
This road joins with US-89 in about 10 miles
Continue North on US-89 through Thane, near Freedom.
Bear right at the US-26/ US-89 junction continuing North to Jackson on US-89
Bear left at Hoback Junction continuing North on US-89/ US-191
--> Note: if you're going to Teton Village, take a left at WY-22 just as you enter Jackson
--> then, turn right at the Moose-Wilson Rd./ WY 390 .

So which way should I take?

After sifting through comments, it seems 
"if it's snowing the canyon may be the best (191 from Rock Springs), but I've been in some hairy conditions down there too. I would def take I-15 through Idaho Falls and over the pass if you can. If you rent a FWD American car, check the weather. If teton pass is closed or super snowy (http://www.wyoroad.info/highway/webc...TetonPass.html
then take the canyon (191 from RS).
I've been in total whiteout conditions somewhere near Pinedale too. So if weather's bad, both routes are gonna be fun.
Cliff's Notes: take I-15 unless Teton Pass is closed."


Heading to Jackson and want to do some reading/be prepared for when you get there?
Check out these books on Amazon (affiliate links)!
Jackson Hole Winter Guide
Jackson Hole Summer Guide
Explorer's Guide- Yellowstone and Grand Teton
Jackson Hole: A Comprehensive Guide to Jackson and the Grand Tetons (Tourist Town Guides)




Monday, January 26, 2015

Winter Hike to Grandeur Peak, Millcreek Canyon, Utah

The best way to meet people, is through hobbies.
  And I love to be active so I decided to keep joining Meet Ups (meetup.com)
 until I had enough friends to host a dinner party. 
Thankfully, I have a small kitchen table. 


I signed up with the Utah Outdoors! Meetup and we met at 9:30 for a winter hike up to Grandeur Peak in Millcreek Canyon.  There are two (maybe a few?) ways to get to Grandeur Peak (elevation 8,299').  For our Saturday winter hike, we chose the easier trail up Church Fork.  We drove through the entrance for MillCreek canyon, a few miles past the guard station to get to the trail head.  


In the summer you can drive all the way to the trail head at Church Fork camp sites, but in the winter you have to park along the road and add an extra .5 miles to your hike. 

If you aren't sure which route to take up to Grandeur, consider this: Church Fork is the more popular route, and a little easier as you already start at 900' elevation gain.  The other route is more challenging and is called the West Ridge route.  It is accessed from Wasatch Boulevard and it is shorter, but steeper. You have 900' more of elevation gain, and a half a mile less to climb it.


Here is the map at the Church Fork trail head. 
 "You Are Here" is where we started and my finger is pointing to the peak. 


The snow is well packed (this is a popular Utah hike) so you do not need snowshoes.  However, you do need some form of microspikes as the snow is packed and quite icy in many spots.  A few hikers did it without spikes but when I took mine off to try, trust me when I say it was A LOT easier in the spikes.  You did not even feel them on your feet and they made walking in the packed snow and ice just like taking a walk in the summer.  I really put them to the test when I jogged down some icy trails and I did not lose my footing at all.

The spikes were $40, slipped on any type of shoe, and were so comfortable you didn't realize they were on.  Buy yours off Amazon here! After talking to the gentleman at REI (we bought ours on the way to the hike- better late than never!) he recommended strongly against Yak Traks, stating they were the most returned pair and you can often find broken pieces scattered on Utah trails.



The trail is easy to moderate at first, and the last mile gets steep fairly quick.



Even the parts of the mountain where the sun had melted the snow, the trail was still snowy and slushy due to the way it was packed by all the hikers. 

\

The views all the way up were pretty amazing.  
This landscape is so foreign and beautiful, it's incredible. 














You are rewarded with this gorgeous view of the mountains, and the city. 
 And you are above the inversion which is always nice. 


It was a great hike for dogs and Olive had a blast.  
Dogs are allowed off leash on odd days and on leash on even days .


This was the group at the top of the mountain.  


I was really thankful Thatcher agreed to come with me, because it is wayyyy less awkward to meet a group of really fit strangers in the woods when you at least know someone. 

I am also happy to report I met a lot of pretty wonderful people. 



While this hike is a popular hike in the summer, it was really great in the winter too.  In the winter, you don't have to worry about the heat, and with the amount of use the trail gets, you do not need snow shoes, just a decent set of spikes.  

Another beautiful Utah hike for the books blog.