Upcoming Hikes

This blog post is me throwing my hat over the fence so to speak. I’ve live in California all of my life, I spent the first half (up till college) of my life in Salinas California*, near the Monterey Bay, and now reside in North Orange County. I’ve enjoyed camping and hiking and since it has always been so close I’ve made a few trips to Yosemite Valley over the years. I can remember vividly going there with my grandparents sometime durring grade school, hiking around mirror lake, and halfway up to vernal falls in the summer. A small group of friends and I have made it a habit of trying to make drive up to Yosemite (about 5-6 hours from SoCal) at least once a year. It’s a new tradition, but one of my favorites. This year we have booked a trip in mid May. Each time we go I try to find one big hike that I want to try and this year is no exception. My goal this year is to do a combination of hikes. Fist starting with the Four Mile Trail* from the Yosemite Valley up to Glacier Point point and then down the Panorama Trail back down to the camp ground. This would be the largest hike I’ve done by far, But would be great practice as I plan to do a second trip this year (possibly in mid/late September) in order to do the infamous Half Dome Hike.

Here’s a quick run down of the two hikes:

Four Mile Trail:

  • Distance:  4.7 miles (7.5 km) one way; 9.4 miles (15 km) round trip
  • Yosemite Valley Elevation:  4,000 feet (1,200 meters)
    Glacier Point Elevation:  7,200 feet (2,200 meters)
    Total Elevation Change:  3,200 feet (975 meters)
  • Hiking Time:  2 – 3.5 hours one way

Panorama Trail:

  • Distance:  8.5 miles (13.5 km) one way
  • Elevation Range:  from 4,000 feet (1,220 meters) on the valley floor to 7,200 feet (2,200 meters) at Glacier Point
    Total Elevation Change:  3,200 feet (975 meters)
  • Hiking Time:  4.5 – 7 hours

I plan to start out around 6 am Saturday morning (our first morning there) and head from our spot in lower pines campground over to the trail head of Four Mile Trail near the swinging bridge. This little warm up will probably be about 2 miles. Then Hike up Four mile trails 4.7 miles with 3200 ft elevation gain and rest. I am currently trying to recruit someone to come with me on this leg of the adventure, but no takers yet. After reaching glacier point I plan to find a shady spot with a view for a restful brunch/lunch. at around 11 am the rest of my group will join me by driving from the valley to glacier point, we’ll take pictures and hang out for a bit before some of us head down panorama and someone takes the car back down to the valley. I’m going to give myself an out here and if I’m not feeling up for an 8.5 mile hike back to the valley, call it quits and ride home. But Panorama trail is so beautiful and I’d love to hike down it, and its down hill, I should be able to do it especially after a short rest, so I’m going to try.  Hopefully we’ll all make it down safe and sound and then i’ll fall fast asleep in my hammock* near the fire and spend the rest of our time chillaxing (maybe do the john beer trail*).

I love Yosemite and want to see every inch of it. I need to do this hike to make up for last years failure. Last year I wanted to do upper Yosemite Falls but chickened out after spending the previous day biking around the valley and being too tired. I’ve got all my gear ready this time and will be doing it as soon as I can so I’m not too exhausted this year.

I’d like to throw a quick shout out to yosemitehikes.com for making such an easy to use resource for all things Yosemite hiking related. and close with a few pictures I took from our last trip. I did not have a fancy camera last year, so hopefully this year I’ll come back with a few higher quality photo’s to share with you. Hope you Enjoyed the post, I will be following up to let you know how it went. Also leave a comment if you have any comments or tips about Yosemite, four mile trail, or panorama trail, I’d love to hear from  you.

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Chipotle Ranch Chicken Wings with Potato Wedges

Opening notes:

Again I am in no way an expert chef.I’m actually pretty bad at cooking. I do this for fun.

I based this meal off of these 2 recopies: chicken wings, potato wedges
Prep time:  35mins
Cook time: 60 mins
Total time:  95mins
Serves: 4-6 servings

Here’s what you need:

for chicken wings and ranch:

  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill
  • salt and black pepper
  • 4 pounds chicken wings and drumettes
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons chipotle hot sauce, divided
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, plain
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped

for potato wedges:

  • 4 russet potatoes
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ – 1 tsp salt
  • ½ – 1 tsp pepper
  • ½ – 1 tsp Italian seasoning

Directions:

chicken wings and ranch:

  • Mix together spice mix:
    • mix up garlic powder, onion powder, chipotle chili powder, dried dill and a good amount of salt and pepper
  • Make the ranch dressing:
    • whisk together the mayo, Greek yogurt, sour cream, vinegar, sugar, chives, dill, remaining 1 tablespoon of hot sauce and 1 tablespoon of spice mix. Refrigerate.
  • add buttermilk, 1 tablespoon of the hot sauce and 1 tablespoon of the spice mix to a large bowl and whisk. Add chicken wings. Marinade for at least 5 hours.
  • preheat oven to 425. Coat baking sheet with non-stick spray. Remove wings from marinade and drain completely. Coat in remaining spice mix.
  • arrange wings on the baking sheet and bake for 45-50 minute. Make sure to turn the wings around the 30 or 35 minute mark.

potato wedges:

  • preheat oven to 400 (for this recipe I actually cooked them with the wings to save time, they cooked fine at 425 degrees)
  • scrub potatoes. Cut them into 8 wedges.
  • toss in olive oil and then arrange on baking sheet.
  • sprinkle with spices
  • bake for 25-35 minutes (I left mine in a little longer because I like em crispy)

once everything is cooked serve with chipotle ranch and veggies.

Story Time:

I LOVE chicken wings. and I love ranch and I love chipotle*. So when I found a chipotle ranch chicken wing recipe I jumped on it. This was my first attempt at making my own chicken wings and as you’ll see I learned a lot.

 

So first off  I started with the spice mix. Added the garlic powder, onion powder, chipotle chili powder, dried dill and salt and pepper to a tupperware and mixed em up. I used about 1 tsb of salt and pepper, probably could have used less. chipotle ranch chicken wings1

I forgot that I was going to blog this*, so I forgot to take pictures of a lot of this process, but here is picture of my marinade with the chicken submerged in the fridge. I was surprised at how much marinade was required and a little grossed out at how much buttermilk it used. chipotle ranch chicken wings2

Next I made the ranch. I found through this process that 1 chipotle chili powder is a thing and 2 that it smells amazing! its my new favorite spice. It smells like bbq, I kinda want to make a chipotle chili powder candle or something.  The ranch was interesting, I was not the hugest fan and didn’t really end up using much of it on my wings, but I could see how some people would like it. Kind of has a tang to it.chipotle ranch chicken wings3

alright the next day I scrubbed and chopped up my taters and tossed them in the oil. Make sure not to drench them in oil, you just want a little coat so they get a little crispy. You could even arrange them and brush them with oil if you’d like, but this is faster.chipotle ranch chicken wings4

Again I forgot till halfway through cooking to take pictures. So here’s my wings in the oven, coated in the spice mix. Here’s actually where I think i went wrong*, I think I should have maybe drained the wings a little better. What I ended up doing was removing them from the marinade and then kind of shaking them out over the sink to remove the excess, but they still had a lot of buttermilk mix on them and that part ended up getting a little burnt.chipotle ranch chicken wings5

And here’s the potatoes all lined up and seasoned. So many baking sheets. I don’t think I’ve ever put this much stuff in my oven at the same time. As I said above I cooked the wings and the potatoes together at 425 and the potatoes still weren’t crispy enough for me. Probably hard to get large wedges like these real crispy without frying them, but they turned out alright. chipotle ranch chicken wings6

Just a quick shot of my ranch and veggie side, I’m working on my photography skillz. Also I’m not sure why, but I’m really enjoying using left over containers like this sour cream container to hold all the home made dips/dressings that I’ve been making, they fit perfectly and I don’t have to use my Tupperware. chipotle ranch chicken wings7

This was a long one, the baking took what seemed like forever, and I did’t time it we’ll so the wings were done first and we were waiting around for the potatoes for a while, We were starving. But aside from a little bit of burnt chunks on the wings it all turned out pretty good. I really enjoyed the spicey-ness of the wings. It was a little too spicey for my fiancee, but I like it.chipotle ranch chicken wings8

I definitely enjoyed cooking this. I’m not 100% sure I’d make it again, but they were good and a great learning experience. If you know what I did wrong with my wings, or had any improvements for any part of this recipe drop me a line in the comments section, I’d love to hear from you. Also if you try this out, let me know how it went for you.

Bourbon Teriyaki Pork Chops with Thai Pineapple Fried Rice

Opening notes:

Again I am in no way an expert chef.I’m actually pretty bad at cooking. I do this for fun.

I based this meal off of these 2 recopies: rice, pork
Prep time:  15 mins
Cook time:  26mins
Total time:  41 mins
Serves: 2 to 4 serving

 

Here’s what you need:

for rice:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 eggs, beaten with a dash of salt
  • 1½ cups chopped fresh pineapple
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced (about ¾ cup diced)
  • ½ bunch green onions, green and white parts, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • ½ cup chopped raw, unsalted cashews
  • 2 cups cooked and chilled brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
  • Season with salt, to taste
  • Handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, for garnishing

for pork chops:

  • 3/4 cup Kikkoman teriyaki marinade
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 (1 1/2 lb) pork

Directions:

pork chops:

  • whisk together teriyaki, bourbon, brown sugar and garlic.
  • marinade pork overnight in the marinade.
  • Remove pork from marinade and grill for 16-18 minutes or bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes (time may vary based on thickness of meat)

rice:

  • Scramble eggs in 1 teaspoon oil on medium-high heat, then set aside in a bowl.
  • Cook pineapple and red pepper in 1 tablespoon of oil  on medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, or until  liquid has evaporated and the pineapple is caramelized
  • Add green onion and garlic and heat for a minute or so.
  • Set contents of the pan aside with the eggs.
  • Add the last two teaspoons of oil to the pan and cook cashews on medium-high heat for a minute or so.
  • Add rice and heat for about 3 minutes.
  • Add back all of the previously set aside ingredients and stir.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and  1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce. Add juice from ½ of a lime .
  • Combine and serve. Garnish with cilantro. additional salt, soy sauce, and chili garlic sauce can be added to taste.

Story Time:

I was looking forward to this all week! I had never cooked pork chops before, and pineapple in fried rice sounded amazing so I was really excited to try this out. First off I want to note that I changed a few things from the original recipe. Most importantly I chose to use pork chops instead of pork tenderloins. Honestly I don’t exactly know the difference and I couldn’t find “tenderloins” so I figured chops would be fine, and they were.

I was lucky enough to have my lovely fiancee assisting me this time. We chose to start with the rice as it would be easier to keep warm for a little while we grilled the pork. So first we chopped everything up and got it all ready, this recipe moves fast so having everything prepared will be handy. I had actually forgot I was going to blog this and forgot to take a picture of cooking the eggs, but that’s what I was doing while she was chopping stuff up. I also forgot to put a teaspoon of oil in the pan before cooking the eggs, but it turned out fine. When they were done I set them in a bowl on the side.

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Next we heated the pineapple and red pepper on medium-high heat for 5 minutes in 1 tablespoon of oil. Then tossed in the garlic and onions. I kept them in there for a little longer than the original recipe because I had to take pictures.

DSC_0119

Next I moved the contents of the pan into the bowl with eggs and started on the cashews. I could not find unsalted raw cashews, so I had to settle for roasted and lightly salted*. We also chopped them up a little before cooking them. To compensate for them not being raw, we did not add any salt to taste at the end*DSC_0122

Then we combined the nuts and the rice. I chose to add about 3 cups of rice instead of 2 because I needed some leftovers to take to work for lunch. Really you can add as much rice as you’d like. With these proportions I think it turned out wonderful with 3 cups. DSC_0124

Once that was warm we added all the other ingredients back and garnished with cilantro*. I also forgot to add the lime juice, but it was still amazing. I’ll remember next time.

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#tastetherainbow

Then it was onto the chops. I went down to my apartment complex’s grill and fired it up. I had never cooked pork chops before so I really wasn’t sure how hot it should be, My back left one ended up being a little well done, but overall I was quite happy with the way the turned out for it being my first time.IMG_20160304_172702

I grilled them for 16 minutes. I think this is really where the chops vs tenderloins kind of matters. I think with the chops they could have cooked for a little less. 16 minutes on high heat total, flipping at 8 minutes made them a little well done for my taste. Next time I would probably go with 12 minutes or so, just so they are a little juicier. DSC_0144

Once the pork chops were done I headed back up and served everything up. I’d probably rate this meal as a 8/10. It is extremely delicious and pretty easy to make. I highly recommend this for a night when you want to try something new. The pineapple is really fun in the rice and the teriyaki-y pork really compliments it well.

DSC_0148

I ended up eating the leftovers for breakfast this morning I enjoyed it so much.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Again if you have any questions, comments or concerns feel free to post them in the comments section.