Leeks, Bacon, Mushroom, Lasagna

Yesterday, after Bill and I completed our daily exercise walk together, he went outside to work on some of his maintenance of our motorhome projects. With a home on wheels, there is always something to adjust here, or tighten up there…, So while he was working on his projects, I tackled one of my own projects for the day.

As many of you know, I don’t enjoy baking, I am more than happy to leave that to Bill and Shantel, but I love to cook. So yesterday, I made a delicious leek, bacon, and mushroom lasagna. OMG, we LOVE this dish. But, be warned, there is nothing about this dish that is calorie friendly( except that I used fat-free half and half  instead of heavy cream). However, “all things in moderation” so we only have this dish a few times a year.

I found this recipe on the internet from the Eat Smarter website. I adapted it just a bit, with spices and mushrooms etc., to suit our tastes.

Ingredients:

Leeks – I used 2

butter – I used about 2 oz

Salt ( I don’t cook with salt, or add salt to my food because I am on a low sodium diet for health reasons. I use other spices to substitute for salt)

3 tablespoons flour

16 oz beef broth (I used reduced sodium)

6 oz whipping cream ( I used fat-free half and half)

About 6 oz of shredded sharp cheese (use more or less to your taste). You can use any kind of cheese you like.

Oven ready (no cook lasagna noodles). I used 8 but you can adjust to the amount you are making. Or you can use the lasagna noodles you boil if you want to take that extra step.

Thick sliced bacon (I used reduced sodium).  Use as much or as little as you like.

I started with cutting two leeks ( a mild member of the onion family) into rings.

Then I placed the separated leek rings in cold water to let them soak so the sand that is in between the leaves can sink to the bottom. This is a very important step because if you don’t do this you will end up with…

all of this sand in you finished dish. Not good!

I added mushrooms that I cleaned and sliced to the recipe because both Bill and I love them, but if you don’t like mushrooms, simply omit them…

I fried bacon in a cast iron skillet, to ensure it got really crisp, then I removed the bacon from the skillet and

sautéed the leeks, minced garlic, and mushrooms in the fat rendered from the bacon.

Then I made the sauce using the same fat left in the skillet from the bacon and adding a pat of butter and 3 tablespoons of flour. Cooked that until the flour and butter looked a little brown. Then I added the beef broth and cream (half and half) and whisked to insure there were no lumps. Simmer until it comes to a light boil so it will thicken.

The next step is to spray a baking pan with non-stick spray and place a small amount of the sauce in the bottom of the baking pan. Then line the pan with oven ready lasagna noodles.

Top the lasagna noodles with the leeks/mushroom mixture, and top that with cheese and crisp bacon pieces (if you don’t eat bacon, or don’t like bacon, you can leave it out or replace with chicken, beef, etc.)

Continue to layer the sauce, lasagna noodles, leeks/mushroom mixture, bacon, and cheese until all the ingredients are used.

Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown (about 40 minutes).

I served this with a Normandy – Style Vegetable Blend, and YUMERS!!! Dinner was served.

This is one of mine and Bill’s favorite dinners. But like I said, it is not calorie, or figure friendly… but oh my, it is well worth the extra exercise to walk/hike it off every once in a while… 🙂 And, it freezes really well.

Stayed Tuned!

 

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Exploring Prospect Oregon

Bill and I are spending the summer getting to know Oregon. We’ve seen some amazing and beautiful sights. It’s hard for me to say what I loved the most about our summer Oregon adventure to date. I don’t have words to give justice to the  beautiful Oregon Coast. And we are amazed at how many waterfalls there are in Oregon. Seems like every place we’ve visited had numerous beautiful waterfalls to see, and amazing hiking trails.

This week Bill and I went to see the Mill Creek Waterfall. It’s a little hidden jewel within the woods around the town of Prospect. The air is very smokey from the wildfires that are contained, but still burning themselves out, just outside of Prospect. But that didn’t take away from the experience once you get there.

We hiked up to the waterfall viewing spot, and sat and just enjoyed the beauty of the forest, and the waterfall cascading down from the mountain. So, so, peaceful.

The hiking trails around the waterfall are very pretty as well. Its like walking through an enchanted forest.

When we left the Mill Creek area, we went a short distance down the road to the Rogue River Gorge. The hike we took here started where the water coming into the Gorge looked calm.

But very quickly picked up speed as we made our way down the trail along the Gorge…

Of course the rushing water took on very different looks as the Gorge widened and narrowed, but all of it was amazing and really gave us a sense of the power of nature.

You never know who, or what, you will meet up with when you are hiking through the forest. This little guy/girl was slowly making its way across the forest floor towards the water. Looks like a snail without it’s shell to me.

This tree stump caught our eye and we just had to go over and read the sign in front of it that read “Living Stump: On the flat surface of the lava flow, away from the Gorge wall, the trees live as a group rather than as individuals, the roots of these Douglas-Firs have grown together, providing each other with nutrients and water. Before it was cut, the roots of this tree had grafted onto those of a neighbor. Because of this, the stump continues to live”. I find that AMAZING, and I LOVE that!!!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if everyone in the world, would take a lesson from these trees, and help one another (family, neighbors, strangers..), like that? Just imagine what a beautiful world that would be.

Stay Tuned!

Trillium Lake, Oregon

Today, Bill and I took a scenic drive to Trillium Lake. We stopped on our way along the side of the road so I could capture this picture of the mighty Mt. Hood. So reminds me of the first time I saw the Grand Tetons.

When we arrived at Trillium Lake, we were greeted and captivated, for the entire afternoon, by the stillness of the water (minus a few tiny ripples when a row-boat, or paddle board, goes by), and the sight of Mt. Hood in the background, casting its mirror image on the lake.

The water of Trillium Lake is crystal clear.

The lake itself is not natural: “The boggy meadows here were submerged by a dam built across Mud Creek in 1960.” But, regardless how the lake was built, it is beautiful, and the perfect place for folks that want to spend time in nature and having fun on the water.

The hike around Trillium Lake is a lovely 2 miles.

Around every curve in the trail is another opportunity to stop…, and take in all this area has to offer, like these pretty purple wild flowers that surround the lake.

I couldn’t resist getting a picture of these three canoes, one red, one silver, and one black, just lined up in a row on the edge of the water. So inviting..

As we made our way around the lake, I just loved how the trees seemed to part, and make space for me to take another picture of the lake and all the beautiful trees that surround it. Bill and I shared a lovely picnic lunch enjoying views just like this.

And how could anyone, with a camera in their hand, resist taking a picture of this adorable little blue canoe, sitting on the edge of the water between the trees, just waiting for someone to get in and take a spin around the lake? I couldn’t!

Another beautiful day exploring the FABULOUS state of Oregon.

Stay Tuned!

 

 

Starvation Creek Falls, Oregon

Bill and I took an amazingly beautiful hike today at Starvation Creek State Park, located in Oregon, just west of Hood River.

One of the trails we hiked was called “starvation creek” because it was said that a train was stopped there by snow drifts, and passengers had to dig out the train. No one actually starved there. The passengers were kept from starvation by men who packed supplies in from Hood River on skis.

There are several amazing waterfalls in the area. The first waterfall we saw was coming down from the top of a mountain, in a beautiful water cascade, that flowed down to a small creek at the bottom of the mountain. Huge, green trees, all around the area, made for lots of shade, and a beautiful picture.

The second waterfall we saw wasn’t as big, and I didn’t notice anything strange about it, until I got home, and started looking at the pictures I took. That’s when I noticed what looks to me, to be the image of a face of a man inside the waterfall. Don’t know if my sighted readers can see it, but Bill said he does. The man’s face is towards the top of where the waterfall begins. I can see two eyes, a nose, a mouth, and one ear. If you look closely, you can also see what looks to Bill and I like a snake that wraps around the man’s head just in front of the man’s ear, going over his forehead, and over the other side of the man’s head. The snake looks like it has its mouth open… This was early morning and no, we were not drinking…Ha!

When we got to this next waterfall, the water was coming down so fast and hard, we could feel the mist spraying out over the surrounding rocks and trees. It felt wonderful just to stand there and let the cool mist spray over us too.

It was a lovely hike, with stunning views. Like this view I captured looking down from halfway up the mountain trail we were on. The 24/7 train that runs by our campground is in the foreground, and there were lots of sailboats, with colorful sails, out enjoying the waters of the Columbia River Gorge.

When we first started our hike, we saw two men hiking up to one of the waterfalls we were looking at. They were carrying a large ice chest cooler between them. One of the men had on a white shirt and tie, while the other was dressed in shorts and a T-shirt. The man in the white shirt and tie left immediately after the ice chest was delivered. The other man was taking pictures, and we got to chatting with him, and found out the man in the white shirt and tie was his friend who was getting married this morning right at that very waterfall. I asked if the bride was going to hike all the way up there in her wedding gown and heals… and he said no, they were going to ride bikes up to the trailhead, and then it was just a very short distance to the waterfall. He said the bride would be wearing a wedding dress, but it was not a big, puffy bottom gown. He said we might see the bride and groom getting married when we make our way back down the mountain after our hike. And, sure enough we did. An adorable young couple were saying their wedding vowels just as we arrived back to that spot. The bride was in a long white gown, but it was more straight fitting, and something like you would see when a couple are getting married on the beach…

As we made our way down to the beginning of the trailhead, we saw the “bikes” the bride and groom rode in on… How adorable is this three wheel bike with a sign on the back that reads “just married” complete with the traditional tin cans tied to the back of it?

Yet another fun-filled day in Oregon…

Stayed Tuned!

Bullards Beach State Park, Oregon

I was asked to write my thoughts about my first impression of the Oregon Coast. Well, guess what? For the first time, in a long time, I actually don’t know what to say. I don’t think I even know words that can begin to describe the beauty Bill and I are sitting in the middle of here at Bullards Beach State Park. After a year of waiting, planning, and anticipating this Oregon adventure, we are finally here. And, all I can say, is that I am overwhelmed by the absolute beauty everywhere I look.

From the moment I looked up and saw a glimpse of the Oregon coastline as we were making our way to Bullards Beach State Park, all I could do was cry. I know some folks find it hard to believe, that at 65 yrs of age, I have never traveled across country, until Bill and I retired and started our full-time RV life, but it’s true, and I have never seen anything like Oregon. I just can’t wait to get out on some day trips, and explore all that Oregon has to offer, because I’ve been told “you ain’t seen nothing yet”… But, for now, I will share some pictures of what we are enjoying within the Park we are calling home for the next two months.

Welcome to Bullards Beach State Park, Oregon.

This is our campsite where we are all set up to sit a spell with coffee in the mornings, happy hours in the afternoons, and a campfire in the evenings…

Of course, this is the awesome lighthouse where we work two days a week.  LOVE it!

And look closely in the middle of the next picture and you will see two deer romping around.

This park even has a horse camp area, complete with corrals, where you can have your own horses right in your campsite (Laurie Archbold). Now who wouldn’t love having a horse to ride on the beach…? This girl would… 🙂

There are several trails within the park that lead directly to the ocean/beach…  Bill and I followed this trail that lead us to …

these awesome sights!

I guess I’m rocking the windblown look right?

Bill is mesmerized by the ocean waves..

Like I said, I don’t know what to say, because everywhere I look, everything I see is beautiful.

Bill and I are so thankful, and grateful, for this opportunity to be here. Everyday is a new blessing for us, and we are like two kids at Christmas just running from one thing to another as we take it all in.

Tomorrow we will go to Mass, at a small Catholic Church we found in Bandon, and you know Bill and I will be giving thanks, because we take absolutely nothing for granted..

Stay Tuned!

 

 

The High End Of Bell Trail

About a week ago, Bill and I hiked the Historic Bell Trail in the Coconino National Forest. The day we did that hike, we were not fully prepared to stay out long enough to hike all the way up the mountainous cliffs that take you to what is called “the crack”.  The reason we were not fully prepared that day, was because we did not have enough water to make the 10 mile round trip hike. Now we are prepared to take on any hike we want. Because, we purchased these handy-dandy back-packs, that include a 2 litter water reservoir. The water reservoir has a hose attached that allows you to bite and suck a little tip on the end of the hose so you can drink all the water you want while your hiking. It allows you to hike hands free, making the hike much more enjoyable. And, the backpack is large enough to allow you to include your lunch, and any gear you need… Way cool!

So yesterday off we went, on a 10 mile round trip hike up the bell trail, in search of the bell crack, that Bill really wanted to see.

 

This was a very difficult hike. Because, the majority of the hike involved climbing up, over, and around some very steep and rocky cliff trails.

I mean to say, I had to really dig deep, and suck up all my courage to do this hike. Not only because of the difficulty factor, but I am also very much afraid of heights.  OMG, the things I do for Bill… YIKES!

The payoff, other than being able to say we did it…, was the beautiful up close views of the gorgeous red rock mountains.

We stopped about two hours into our hike, found a nice rock to sit on, and enjoyed our picnic lunch and all the water we could drink… Then we hiked on to see the bell crack which, by the way…,  after all it took to get there, I didn’t even get a picture of it! But that’s a whole other story that’s probably better told while sipping wine around a campfire… 🙂

Finally, after two and a half hours of hiking, climbing up and over rocks, boulders, and just about anything else you can think of along the beautiful, but rugged trail…, it was time to make our way back down the mountain and back to our car. I was hurting all over, and told Bill I felt like my toes were bleeding. He said “I’m not feeling too good myself, but I can tell this isn’t going to be about me right now”. I laughed, but I was thinking to myself, that’s right baby, you’re the one that wanted to see the bell crack… Ha!

Well let me tell you, as much as I love to hike, I was one happy girl after four plus hours of hiking, to have my feet firmly planted back on solid, level, ground!!

Today, both Bill and I are sore to say the least, but Bill is even more sore than me, because about an hour before we reached our car, he slipped in some gravel and fell flat down landing on his hip that was already sore from a previous fall when he tripped over our car dolly!  So after that happened, I told him it could be all about him now… 🙂

Stay Tuned!

Historic Bell Trail

Today Bill and I took a two-hour hike through part of the Historic Bell Trail.

The Bell Trail makes for a beautiful hike. It reminds me of some of the trails in Sedona with all the red rocks. Sedona is not far from here, and is very near and dear to my heart, because Bill proposed to me standing right outside the Chapel in the Rocks, early one morning, as the sun was just coming over the red rock mountains.

Around every bend in the Bell Trail the scenery changes,

and there is something new and different to see. Bill found this rock with the images carved on it very interesting. We were not sure if someone hiking in the area did the art work, or if it might be some hieroglyphics.

The cactuses are blooming all over this area. I just love these big yellow cactus blooms.

We didn’t hike the whole 6 mile trail because we were not really prepared with enough water to stay out that long. So after about an hour and half of hiking, we turned back.

On our way back to our car, I found this nice rock to sit on and relax for a few minutes. That’s when we decided to get playful, and use this as the background for a photo opportunity that went a little wayward…

Shantel, papa was taking pictures of me sitting on a red rock, and I was turning my head from side to side, and he started coaching me like I was a model. I finally started laughing and just kind of laid back on the rock and he snapped a picture of that too. It’s not my best look, but we had a lot of fun, and I guess some pictures are better left unexplained. Ha!

Stay Tuned!

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