Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

TGIF!  Not only is it Friday, but it’s Friday before a long weekend.  And not only is it Friday of a long weekend, but it’s the long weekend that officially kicks off summer!  Woot!  Woot!

Let’s take a moment to raise a glass to all of the men and women who have served for our country.  Without them, we wouldn’t be here blogging freely.

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Do you have any big plans for the weekend?  Are you traveling? 

We are staying in town, and getting together for dinner parties and bar-b-ques with friends all weekend.  I think I’m also doing a 8 to 10 mile hike on Sunday in the McDowell Mountains with my friend, Sarah.  We shall see…

If you are hosting a party, or going to one where you need to bring something, I have a few ideas for you…

For an appetizer/munchie how about Cucumber and Feta Salsa;  recipe here.

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Or, how about pomegranate and chicken lettuce wraps;  recipe here.

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Another signature appetizer of mine is the Cheese Filled Endives leaves.  Substitute blueberries for the cranberries, and you have a red, white and blue dish. 

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If you’re grilling, don’t forget the wonderful plethora of veggies you can throw directly on the grill.  (Tofu is optional.)  (No recipe necessary)

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Use Red Quinoa, and make a light summery salad, recipe here.

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And finally, for a fun and healthy dessert or salad, using only fresh fruit and whipping cream, try this:

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Whatever your weekend has in store for you, I hope it’s relaxing, fun, and safe! 

See you Tuesday!

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Still Eating Peaches

Remember the 23 pounds of peaches I picked this weekend?  We are still working on eating them up.  They are 100% ripe, sweet, and juicy and taste spectacular on their own or in some of the recipes I’ve been making.  I gave a few to a friend, and we still have a lot!

Last night, I tried the Summer Peach and Tomato Salad out of the recent issue of Cooking Light.  

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I didn’t think I’d like this as much as I did – almost hesitant to use such delicious peaches in it at first.  I made up the dressing and wasn’t to enthused.  But, after I drizzled it over the peach, onion, and tomato mixture, my attitude changed.  This was delicious!  All I can say, is WOW, the simple ingredients really let the taste of the of the fresh peaches come through.  The dressing, which I thought I didn’t like, complemented the produce so well, giving it sweet and tangy in such a subtle way. 

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Then, for dessert I made a simple Peach and Blackberry Crisp. 

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No recipe really, I just sliced up peaches, blackberries and mixed with a little brown sugar and topped with oatmeal, brown sugar, pecans and butter.

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Mmmm…sweet, crunchy, and just plain wonderful!  (A little side of raspberry sherbet on the side.)   So good that I want to make it again tonight!

 

Are you taking tomorrow off to make a 4 day weekend?  What are your plans for the weekend?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Favorite Veggie

It’s been a busy Tuesday so far.  I got in a quickie workout this morning, by doing a quick 20 minutes walk/run, followed by 20 minutes of abs, biceps and triceps. I really wanted to do P90X, but didn’t have the time this morning.  After breakfast we headed to Whole Paycheck and another stop at our regular grocery store.  Of course, I took far too long in Whole Foods, because I just love walking around and gazing.  Our WF now has Kombucha on tap!  As if I needed more enticement to shop there. 

I came home and had one of my typical 3 “go to” lunches.

 Veggie burger Asian salad:  Homemade chickpea pattie, spinach, kale, jicama, sugar snap peas, kelp noodles, and a few flakes of dulce

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Dressed with Miso, ginger, wasabi CRACK:

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As I was enjoying my veggie filled lunch I started to think about what my favorite vegetable is.  I really don’t think I can narrow it down to one.  I love so many!  

One that is definitely towards to the top of the list is butternut squash.  I eat it year round, and it’s so versatile.  Butternut squash soup, roasted butternut squash, butternut squash au gratin, butternut squash fries…you get the picture. 

Here was one of the best tasting preparations of this versatile veggie that I’ve had in awhile.

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Grilled Butternut Squash with Gorgonzola and Balsamic Reduction

Grill or roast butternut squash in quarters until it is slightly charred and soft.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and gorgonzola crumbles.  Drizzle with balsamic reduction. 

In my opinion squash and blue cheese were made to go together.  Sweet, salty, and buttery, this simple side dish has it all goin’ on. 

What is your favorite vegetable and how do you prepare it?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Peach Festival!

Happy Monday Bloggie friends!  How was/is your day?  I began with a magnificent swim this morning.  As hard as it is to pull myself out of bed to go hit the pool, I never regret it.  It wakes me up and stretches me out like nothing else.  Perfect for a Monday morning!  Let’s go back to the weekend though, shall we.

We had a beautiful weekend here.  It went from being 101 hot degrees on Friday, to a cool 75 degrees on Saturday and Sunday.  Random, but really enjoyed by most Phoenicians.  To enjoy the nice weather we invited some friends to join us for the Queen Creek Peach Festival.  After an hour drive to get there, we were more than ready to enjoy the sunshine and pick some peaches!

But first, we went on a “train ride.”

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As you can see, Ava was totally into this. 

After the train, we hopped aboard a hay ride which took us out to the orchard for peach picking.  Needless to say, we were to busy picking to take photos.  Behold, the 13 1/2 pounds of peaches that we picked.  (What were we thinking?!)

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Besides enjoying the sweet juicy flesh in the raw, I am trying to come up with other ways to use our stash.  Exhibit A:  Grilled peaches

OMG…swoons.

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With nothing “on” except a quick spray of olive oil, these little gems taste like candy.  The grill brings about a carmelization of the sugar that just tastes like syrup.  Just take halved peaches, pit removed, and lay directly on hot grill.   We used them to top this lovely arugula salad.  

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GRILLED PEACH AND ARUGULA SALAD WITH GOAT CHEESE   

4 cups fresh arugula

3 fresh peaches, grilled for 3 minutes or so per side

2 oz. crumbled goat cheese

1/4 cup shaved fennel

balsamic reduction

*lots of foodgasms

Do you have any favorite peach recipes?  Please share if you do. 

I’m thinking some fresh peach salsa is in order later today.  Maybe enjoyed with a margarita…hmmm  … margarita Mondays?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sorta Spa Day

Mmm…it smells like a Friday to me!  I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely looking forward to this weekend.  I’ve been doing the single parent thing since Tuesday night, as Scott has been on a business trip.  I will be happy to have him home later tonight. Do you have any big plans?   Tomorrow we are heading to a Peach Festival with some friends.  No other definite plans, but there will be a lot of lounging, pool, and vino involved.

So, to recap the P90X session that I did on Tuesday.   I did the biceps, triceps, and shoulders DVD.  I have to say, my triceps were feelin’ it on Wednesday!  In a good way.  Kind of dorky, but when I get the “good” sore, I feel like I’m getting more defined.  haha  That’s what I tell myself at least.  I’ve also tried the Ab Ripper, which is 30 minutes.  It was ok, but I felt a lot of the exercises in my hip flexor and not my abs.  Perhaps I’m doing them with bad form? 

Today I went on a leisurely swim for an active rest day.  I love how swimming makes me feel.  I get lost in relaxation just focusing on breathing and random thoughts.   Normally, Fridays were always 2 hours of walking with my friend and our jog strollers, but with the 100 degree temperatures now, we don’t want to subject ourselves the babies to that.  Since Ava was in the gym daycare, I also had time to take a steam and leisurely shower.  I felt like it was a spa day!

When I got home, I continued the spa day theme and created a beautiful salad for lunch.

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This was supper easy and very tasty.  All you do is take one small piece of fresh ahi tuna and sear it for a minute or two per side (depending on how raw you like it.)  Slice it and lay it over a bed of fresh mixed greens and a little shredded cabbage.  Top with soy sauce, wasabi and a few sesame seeds

Well, folks, I’m out.  On to a glass of vino and a toast to the weekend!

What’s your favorite way to feel like you’re at the “spa?”

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Kitchen Favorites – Take 2

 

I always love the posts where bloggers review some of their favorite products.  Be it, kitchen essentials, foods, beauty products, whatever, I find these very informative and helpful.  I did a post a while back with a few favorites, and since thought about all the things in my kitchen that I really miss while I’m away. 

Here are a few that top the list.

 

First off, my Wusthof knives.  Every cook needs a few good knives.  From chopping to slicing and dicing, you know when it’s a bad knife.    I highly recommend getting them sharpened regularly too, as that makes all the difference in the performance of your knives. 

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First introduced to me several years ago when I was having a mojito at a little bar in San Francisco, the lime squeezer (and subsequently the lemon one,) have been fixtures in my kitchen ever since.  I use fresh lemon and limes in so many recipes (not just mojitoes,) this has been one of the best $15 dollar purchases that I thought I didn’t need. 

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Ah, my beloved Cuisinart.  I have had this bad boy for at least 10 years, and it has whirled many a pesto, hummus, pizza dough, and nut butters.  I must use it at least 4 times per week.  I’ve had absolutely no problems with it whatsoever. 

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Microplane grater;  great for just a bit of shaved cheese to top a dish, a dash of lemon rind, etc.  I never use the old fashioned “grater” anymore. 

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The Zyliss peeler/julienn-er;  unfortunately I don’t have a spiralizer, but this little gadget comes close. 

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Remember the raw dinner I made a while back?  Those zucchini and carrot ‘noodles’ came from running the zyliss along the raw veggie.  As cheap and easy as a woman walking along in the ghetto area of downtown, what could be better? 

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How something so  simple could make life so much easier.  Gone are the clumps when I shake up some protein powder or Amazing Grass into milk.  I used to have such a problem with clumps, that it would turn me off to finishing the drink.  I love how the Blender Bottle has the little “wisker ball.”  It makes all the difference!

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This salad dressing bottle from Crate and Barrel has been a fun new addition.  Instead of shaking my homemade dressings forever, you give the little green handle a squeeze, and it stirs it up for you.  I wonder if it would work for cosmos? 

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And finally, my Zyliss salad spinner.  What can I say?  It has been with me since way back before I knew how to cook.  I find it much more effective at rinsing greens than the Oxo brand.  I believe the difference is that this one spins in both directions, which really gets the leaves dry. 

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Here is kale from my garden after getting rinsed and spun.  Perfect for some kale chips or kale salad. 

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What is your favorite kitchen gadget/appliance? 

Do you enjoy reading other bloggers’ favorites?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Belated Mother’s Day Gift

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No, it was not an insult or a suggestion, I actually ASKED for this.  I’ve been finding less time for going to the gym, so I thought it would be nice to have something I could do while she is napping.  My plan is to use it to fill in my other workouts, not do the full 90 days in succession.  For those of you who have done it, have you done all 90 days or have you used it as a workout on occasion?  I know Melissa has done all 90 days and had great results.

Soooo…this morning I just bit the dust and did the bicep, tricep, and shoulder DVD.  It was GREAT.  I liked the different takes on regular bicep curls, and the way proper form is reinforced.   I can’t wait to try others.  A great way to mix up workouts! 

NOW, on to the food…

The other night we did some grilled shrimp and veggies.  Boring right?  Not when you make and orange, ginger and cilantro sauce to pour on top of the shrimpskies.  Obviously you can see in the picture that I forgot to buy cilantro, so I substituted fresh chives out of the garden.  Just as good people!  

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This recipe is adapted from Cooking Light.

GINGER ORANGE SAUCE - from Cooking Light

  • 1  cup  orange juice
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2  tablespoons  reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  teaspoon  grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1  teaspoon  fresh lime juice
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  ground red pepper

    To prepare sauce, bring 1 cup orange juice to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat; cool completely. Stir in 1 tablespoon cilantro and next 7 ingredients (through red pepper); set aside.

  • I will be using the leftover sauce over tofu tonight.  Tofu Tuesday anyone?

    I prepared this delicious salad to go with the meal.  Spinach, blackberries, fennel, shredded goat cheddar and lemon poppyseed dressing.  Make.this.now! 

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    What is your workout if you can’t make it to the gym?

    Monday, May 17, 2010

    Meatless Monday

    Wow, is it really Monday already?  I guess when you are traveling over the weekend, it goes that much faster.  We were in OH to see Scott’s family.  More on that in a bit.

    I started my day by swimming laps.  I tried to push myself today, since last week was short on exercise and high on food and wine.  I did about 40 minutes and I tried to alternate in some laps of sprints to really get the heart rate up.  I also use kickboards, hand paddles and a pull to make it more interesting.  It felt glorious and soon it was time to get out and shower so I could get home and feed the family breakfast. 

    Luckily, I had enough energy after the 5 hour flight (with a baby) to get a few grocery essentials, (aka stock up on fresh veggies.)  Unfortunately, between unpacking and laundry, I haven’t been as inspired by cooking.  We did grill some shrimp and veggies last night, so lunch was a tasty way to use up some of those leftover grilled vegetables.

    A sandwich thin spread with goat cheese, topped with jicama, grilled zucchini, eggplant, kale and tomato.   Jicama add such a great crunch to a sandwich.  If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it!

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    Thrown onto the George Forman to heat into a  panini. 

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    I love having leftover grilled veggies, they are perfect for throwing into sandwiches, making into a bowl meal.   I always make sure to make extra, just for the purpose of leftovers!

    Not sure on what to make for dinner tonight.  I’m getting a massage at 4:00 and then I think we are going to get in the pool with Ava to work on swimming, so it might be another Quick and Easy meal. 

    Our trip to Ohio included some business meetings for Scott.  Luckily, Ava and I felt right at home at his parents’ house.  Ava was able to meet her Great Grandmother.

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    It was also Grandma A’s birthday.  We celebrated with some of this:

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    And lot’s of this:  Raymond is the vineyard Scott’s aunt used to do sales and marketing for.    It was recently bought out, but we are still enjoying some of the wine. )

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    Ava in her jammies, hoping she will be allowed a bite of cake.  

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    What was the best thing you ate or drank over the weekend?

    Wednesday, May 12, 2010

    ON Hiatus …err …Vacation…

     

    Sorry about the lack of recent posts.  We are in Ohio this week (where it’s cold and rainy!) so Ava can visit her grandparents and meet her Great grandma, Mimi, for the first time. 

    Promise to be back next week with a recap of eats, shenanigans, and a review of the online course I’m taking in functional foods.

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    Friday, May 7, 2010

    A little help around the house

    Happy Mother’s Day weekend to all of the mothers out there.  Are you doing anything fun to celebrate?  Although, this is technically my first year being a real “human mom,” we’ve always celebrated with the fur baby.

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    I started the day with a 2 hour stroller walk with my friend and her twins.  It’s getting hot here in the desert, so I’m not sure how much longer we will be able to keep this up.  It was 88 when we finished at 11 am.   The rest of the day will include a Costco trip and sushi happy hour tonight.  We are going with friends that have a baby, and live in our neighborhood, and the sushi place in just a mile from our houses, so it’s likely we’ll be walking there as well.   What a great start to the weekend!

    Cooking has taken a bit of a backseat this week.  Preparing to go out of town, late afternoons at the pool, and running errands have kept us quite busy.  Last night I decided to get back into the kitchen and make something fabulous.  Good thing I had a little help finding the right pan…

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    After she got done “helping” me, she decided to go over and help dad with the electronics.

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    I think she was changing the radio station; she prefers Lady Gaga.

    Ava went on to help Dad get a workout in.  Between running after her to keep her from pulling over a lamp, keeping her away from Chase’s bone, and cleaning up the water she spilled by flinging her sippy cup all over, Dad didn’t get a rest.

    Thanks to Dad’s help with keeping speed crawler busy, I was able to make a yummy dinner.

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      Asian Steamed Halibut

    1 lb fresh halibut

    2 Tbsp. soy sauce

    1/4 cup sake

    1 Tbsp. miso

    1 tsp. fresh grated ginger

    1 tsp. brown sugar

    chives, cilantro, sesame seeds (for garnish)

    Put the halibut fillets in a bowl.  Cover with ‘sauce’ made from the rest of the ingredients.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Set the bowl in steamer insert of pan filled with water.  Steam 10-15 minutes until fish flakes easily. Sip at wine (important step) and marvel at the fact that you were able to cook without any help. Garnish as desired. 

    What are you doing for fun this weekend?

    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    Cinco de Mayo

    Happy Cinco de Mayo!  Do celebrate?  It is a good excuse to drink some margs and eat some chips and salsa isn’t it?  Back when I lived in Minnesota, I had barely heard of Cinco de Mayo, let alone know what it meant.  But, as soon as I moved to the southwest, I learned what a big deal it is here.

    In my single days, my girlfriends and I would head to Macayo’s and fight the crowds to drink margaritas the size of our heads.  I still remember the glasses  bowls that they came in.

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    Three years ago, I celebrated in a very different way.

    In fact, I still remember what I ate that night.

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    And this is what I did that day.

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    Happy Anniversary to the love of my life! 

    Salud!

    Do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo?