Thursday, October 28, 2010

Side Dish Thursday

Hey there!  Happy Friday Eve.  Are you making weekend plans yet?  Who’s dressing up for Halloween?

I have a fun day ahead; including Boot Camp class, Ava’s 15 month check up and immunizations, and a fun girl’s night out tonight at a friend’s house, sure to include lots of vino.  So let’s get to it shall we?

As I mentioned in this post, I’m all in favor of sprucing up our side dishes.  I lurve to make salads, because I can get creative with toppings and dressing, but sometimes the cooked vegetables is where I get into a rut.  For instance, usually when I have fresh asparagus, I tend to roast it or grill it with a little kosher salt and eat it like that.  When I saw this recipe, I tore it out with the resolution to make it the next time I saw some good fresh asparagus at the market. 

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Grilled Asparagus with Caper Vinaigrette  adapted from Cooking Light

  • 1 lb asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided  (I only used 2)
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced  (I left it out entirely)
  • 2 tsp. capers, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup small basil leaves

Grill the asparagus that has been coated with cooking spray and salt and pepper 4 minutes, or until crisp tender. 

Combine the red wine vinegar and next 4 ingredients, slowly add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, stirring with a whisk.  Pour over asparagus and top with torn basil leaves. 

*optional – serve on asparagus plate  ;-) 

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This was sooo good.  A keeper for sure.  I think this vinaigrette would be good over chicken or fish as well.  I have a feeling it might become a staple for asparagus in our house. 

 Wine Pairing:  asparagus is one of the hardest foods to pair with wine.  One of the few wines that really can match is a crisp, grassy New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.  Hints of grapefruit and enough acidity to hold it’s own to the caper vinaigrette.  If you haven’t tried a Sauv Blanc from New Zealand before, it’s a bit different than one from California.  It may catch you off guard at first, but give it a chance – it will soon be something you crave on a hot summer day. 

Question:  Vegetables…plain or do you “dress them up?” 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More Homemade Sushi

Hello friends!  I hope you’re off to a great Tuesday.

After our first homemade sushi night last month, I’ve been itching to repeat it.  We had plans to have friends over this past Saturday night to do it again, but Ava came down with a cold and ear infection, and unfortunately, I caught it from her.  So, with the two of us sick, we had to cancel plans with our friends.  (Both couples have babies as well, and we didn’t want to risk exposing the little ones to our infected house.)  I spent the day trying to decide what we’d do for dinner instead.  Hardly able to breathe through my nose and not having a huge appetite, I kept dreaming about wasabi.  I mean, really, what would help a congested nose better than hot, Japanese horseradish, and some spicy tuna? 

So, after Ava had her antibiotics and was put down to sleep in her  humidified bedroom, Scott and I got to work on our own little sushi night. 

I had a few comments last time on the difficulty of preparing sushi rolls.  I like to start with having all the ingredients ready to go, and the sushi mat ready.  (Saran wrap on the sushi mat is essential for inside out rolls.)  After that, it is really quite simple.  Don’t be afraid of mistakes – they are just as tasty!

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Lollipop rolls (cucumber on the outside instead of nori or rice) take some awesome knife skills.  Thanks to Scott for doing that –don’t ask me how?!

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Fancied up with some roe purchased a couple days prior at the Asian Market. 

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Wine Pairing:  Sake!  We are not as familiar with sake as with our regular vino, so experimenting with different brands and types has been a fun learning experience.  This one was smooth, subtly sweet, and paired deliciously with sushi. 

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Between the wasabi and the sake, I felt a lot better! 

I’m off to get my strength training on.  I didn’t make it to yoga yesterday.  Ava was to sick to bring to the gym’s daycare, and honestly, I felt like I would have been a snot fest if I attempted a downward dog.  Maybe next week! 

What is your favorite kind of sushi?  Have you ever made it at home?

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Other “P” Words of Fall

I bet you think the only foodie word synonymous with fall is pumpkin right?  Well, I promised I wouldn’t do another pumpkin post – at least this season, so I present to you, my other favorite fall “p” foods. 

Persimmon and pomegranate!

‘Tis the season for two other wonderful flavors that let us know that the their is reason to say good bye to the berries and hello to the fruits of fall.  I made a stunning salad and main dish last night featuring the other ‘p’s of fall.

Arugula, Persimmon, Pomegranate and Goat Cheese Salad

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Topped with Balsamic Vinaigrette)

I deiced to take it up a notch and play with the presentation.  I added a few squash blossoms from the Farmer’s Market.  Ah, much bettah!

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Baked Wild Caught Cod with Persimmon and Pomegranate over Edamame Succotash  IMG_2020

This probably could have used a bit more seasoning or a vinaigrette, but still was a simple and delicious way to showcase fall. 

Wine pairing:

Hayman and Hill Chardonnay

Hayman & Hill Russian River Chardonnay 2008

This was a refreshing chardonnay for our ‘patio weather’ evening.  The green apple flavor went well with the “fall-ish” fish and salad.  It was very light on oak (if any at all) but almost finished with a small hint of vanilla.  I must say, I think as the weather keeps cooling, I’ll be saying good bye to whites, and this was a lovely way to say farewell. 

Needless to say, I’m enjoying the flavors of fall.  So much so, that I’m prepping the ingredients for apple crisp when I get done with this post. 

Have you tried a persimmon?  What are your favorite flavors of fall?

I tried my first persimmon a few years ago, and loved it!  I didn’t expect it to be so sweet. 

We have a busy a week so I need to stay organized.  My list for today includes:

  1. Power Yoga class at the gym  (my first time trying my gym’s yoga)
  2. Make yummy apple crisp
  3. Groceries
  4. Laundry
  5. Halloween prep (costumes, get candy, etc.)
  6. Back to club for Monday Night Football Happy Hour

Off we go!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Confession Friday

Hello friends and happy Friday!  Welcome to another installment of “Confession Fridays.” 

But, first, let’s rewind to dinner last evening. 

As you may have guessed, we are a tofu-lovin’ family and tend to have it quite regularly.  It is one of Ava’s favorite proteins.  I try to vary up the cooking methods and flavors (which is very easy to do with tofu,) everything from stir frying, to marinating and roasting, etc.  But, our very favorite way to eat tofu is simply grilled and spread over a bed of greens and rice, and topped with a bit of goat or gorgonzola. 

Last night we had red quinoa, sauteed rainbow chard, grilled tofu, and heirloom tomatoes, all topped with a bit of local goat chevre

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There really was some quinoa hiding under there!

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Mmm…lot’s of yummy, creamy goat cheese.  I’m pretty much convinced that goat cheese makes anything taste better!  And although I have a bit of a dairy intolerance, goat dairy seems to not be a problem.  Sweeeeet!  

Speaking of sweet, you’d think that this mommy with a nutrition background eats all health food right?  Wrong!

Confession:

I have the world’s worst sweet tooth!  I literally start the day with a piece of candy.  (This all started with coconut candy in the Caribbean on our honeymoon.)  Since then, we order these little candies online, and grab one every morning with our first cup of coffee.  I also need to have something sweet after every meal, even just a piece of dark chocolate.

Next case in point;  I could make a meal out of this:

Luckily, I haven’t, but I’d really like to try.  muahaha.  Favorite candy ever.  Good thing it only comes around at Halloween.

Last confession…I may or may not have already gone through several bags this season. 

Do you have a sweet tooth?  What is your favorite candy?

 

 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin; Sweet and Savory

Good morning everyone!  Happy Humpday Wednesday.

Ok, so I’ve gotten the memo.  The blog world is tired of more pumpkin.  My intention wasn’t to come up with a pumpkin post or sing the praises of pumpkin.  I just realized as I was about to post, that both of my creations yesterday involved pumpkin.  (Um, yeah, could be due to the 6 – 32 oz cans of Libby’s pumpkin we bought at Sam’s Club recently.)  By the way, canned pumpkin is one of Ava’s favorite foods.  Plain, unadulterated, pumpkin – by the handful. 

I had a little extra free time in the morning, due to Ava’s extra long nap, so I was determined to make the Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Blondies I have seen over at Delectably Free.  These are gluten free and vegan for anyone that is interested.  I loved that I could eat the batter and not worry (which was delicious.)  

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I impressed myself by making my own chocolate chips which are also on the same page as the recipe.  I never knew how easy it was!!  Even if you have no interest in pumpkin anything – check out the chocolate chip recipe. 

Of course, I’m all about pumpkin since I have a lifetime supply it is the season.  Well, that and the fact that I ran out of time to reduce orange juice and let it chill to make the orange, ginger and cilantro sauce for the grilled shrimp that I had planned.  So I improvised and came up with a pumpkin, ginger and tahini sauce that was magnificent with some grilled shrimp and grilled spaghetti squash.  Feel free to make this, I am posting the recipe so I remember to recreate it in the future.  We LOVED it!

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Pumpkin, Ginger and Tahini Sauce/Dressing

  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 Tbsp. organic Tahini
  • 2 Tbsp. plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. Agave nectar or honey
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger

There you have it.  And, you have a promise you won’t see anymore pumpkin recipes on my blog. 

Wednesday To-Do’s

Target (aka Money Pit)

Playgroup

Make an acupuncture appointment  (I’m going to try it for my tight hip)

Long Walk with my friend, Denise, and the babies

Tackle laundry

Question:  Have you ever  tried acupuncture or any other alternative medical treatments?

A Marathon of a Weekend

Hello friends!  I was about to say happy Monday, until I realized it was Tuesday.  I think I blinked, and the weekend was over.  In 2 days, I rode in a car for 6 hourstwice, ate at a couple of good restaurants, went wine tasting in Temecula, oh, and ran 13.1 miles.  Whew!

Here we are Saturday morning.  Since my friends, Sarah, and her husband, Mike were running, we decided it would be more fun to drive over to Long Beach together.  It was a tight fit, but the two girls were comfy in their car seats. 

Ava and Sophie:

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Little did they know they were in for a 6 1/2 hour car ride. 

We made it to Long Beach, settled in to the hotel rather quickly and hit up the Convention Center to pick up our race packets.  After doing that, it was time to meet up with some friends of Mike and Sarah for dinner in Seal Beach.  We filled up on pasta, pizza, and just a wee bit of vino, before hitting the hay early. 

Here we are at 5:45 am, pre-race. 

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The weather was perfect for running.  Cloudy and about 60 degrees.  Nice!

Scott was the true rock star, because he watched both girls for the morning.  Here is Ava giving Sohie a hug.  They are BFFs.

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Sarah and I finished in 2 hours and 6 minutes.  It was not my best run.  Too much pizza and pasta, and a sore hip.  Oh well.  We quickly showered and were off to meet my aunt and uncle in Huntington Beach for lunch.  We ate at Sandy’s, which is right under the pier, and below Dukes

I made a lunch out of appetizers.  My favorite, by far, was the seafood cocktailShrimp and lobster with sweet chili sauce, avocado and micro greens

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I was definitely in a fishy mood, and ordered the ahi poke as well.  A bit oily, this was still quite tasty.  Everything was fresh, and I loved that they incorporated a bit of seaweed salad. 

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Finally, the grilled ahi sandwich.  It was nothing to write home about, save for the wasabi aoli, which I wanted to bathe in.  That good!

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Ava had a good time at lunch, munching sweet potato fries and drinking her milk.  She also got silly with her napkin and pretty soon Dad decided there was only one way to keep her from throwing it all over the table…

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We started the 6 hour drive back home after lunch, but did make time for a stop at Bailey in Temecula.  My favorite winery from our trip in August.  A little post running wine tasting helped all of our aches.  ;-) 

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

Friday, October 15, 2010

Random Drinks

Happy Friday!

I hope you are having a great start to the weekend!  I’m finishing up a playlist for the half marathon and packing.  It’s funny how a baby/toddler can make packing more than twice as hard. 

I don’t have a good meal post for you, as last night was sort of a “fend for yourself” type meal night.  I have to say, it was definitely a vino night though!  Ava cut her first two molars yesterday and has been cranky and irritable for days.  Cranky toddler = mom that is frazzled.  We had an oldie, but goodie…

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I hadn’t had the Ravens Wood Zin in years.  Sometimes going with consistently good, not outstanding, is the way to go.  It has a little spice, a little oak, and a lot of big berries.  Everything you want in a red zinfandel. 

Speaking of wine, I want to tell you about what my friend, Sarah, served at our playgroup the other day.

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It is red wine (she used Pinot Noir, but any red will work) and peaches.  I thought it was odd at first, but is was quite yummy.  Decant your red wine into a pitcher and add sliced peaches.  Chill to “marinate” for 2-3 hours …or more.  Take out of the refrigerator about 1/2 hour before serving.  Enjoy!   A little bit like Sangria, but not as sweet. 

While talking about beverages, I should mention that I also had my very first veggie juice the other day.  The Whole Paycheck by me recently updated it’s juice bar/coffee bar and now has a lot more selection.  I was feelin’ thirsty and a bit tired (did I mention Ava’s teething?) so I decided to give it a try.  This is apple, cucumber, spinach and beet.  A bit skeptical I took my first sip.  Amazing!  I loved the refreshing sweet and earthy flavor.  I could get hooked on these if not for the $4.99 price tag.  I think I’ll keep it to an occasional healthy treat. 

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Finally, I’ve been making Ava homemade popsicles since Estela posted about them over the summer.  Since it has still been hot here (98 degrees yesterday,) I’ve been giving her Pom juice and yogurt popsicles to help her teething pain. .

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I think she likes them.  Here she is getting every last drip.

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Have you tried “veggie juices?”  If so, what is your favorite combination? 

Have an awesome weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Scallop Party!

Happy Almost Friday everyone! 

This morning I did my last run before the Half Marathon this Sunday.  I did a nice 4 mile run on the Greenbelt with the jog stroller, and feel very confident going into Sunday’s run in Long Beach.  I’m looking forward to it, I must say!  The last race I did was last December, the “12K’s of Christmas” 12 Kilometer run.

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   I’ve spoiled myself a bit this week in anticipation of the run, with some of my favorite foods.  I think my all time favorite meal has to be seared jumbo scallops.  Just a bit a salt and pepper, cooked about 3 minutes per side (give or take) in a small amount of real butter.  Dangle these little gems at the finish line, and I might sprint the whole 13.1 miles.  (OK, not really.)

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I had a few refrigerator odds and ends to use up so I made a bit of a “succotash” to dress the scallops.  A few small heirloom grape tomatoes, avocado, edammame, and pom arils tossed a smidge of EVOO and good balsamic.  I was just enough to add to the scallops, without overpowering.  Served over cauliflower puree.   I think I would be happy to eat this meal every night. 

Wine pairing:  one of my favorite dry Rose’s.  I visited this winery when I was in Paso Robles and have been obsessed with the Garretson wines ever since.  (Although, sadly they’ve closed.)

dryrose

 

Of course, I finished with some dark chocolate and candy corn for something sweet.  Gotta carb load right?

What is your favorite meal?   How do you “treat” yourself before a big event (ie race, interview, speech, etc.)?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Monday Night Football = Quick and Easy Meal

Good morning!  I hope you are all off to a good Tuesday.  Today is a tale of a last minute Quick and Easy dinner. 

I have been waiting for the last few weeks for last night’s Monday Night Football game.  You see, I’m a huge Vikings fan, so it’s always fun when they are on national TV, because I don’t get to see all the games if they are not being broadcast in Arizona.  Secondly, we go to our club for Monday Night Football every week for the party they throw for watching the weekly game.  It’s a lot of fun and they provide free food, beer and wine.  (Score – dinner is taken care of!)  I was planning on wearing my Vikings jersey (yes, I’m THAT one) and dressing Ava in her little Vikings outfit, that we bought just for this occasion. 

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Cutest Vikings fan ever, right? 

Well, it didn’t happen.

Ava is cutting her first two molars.  To the point where her gums are bloody and blistered (sorry if TMI), and she was quite miserable all day yesterday.  So, we quickly changed gears, and clothes, and stayed home.  I was scrambling for dinner faster than Brett Favre was scrambling from the Jets defense. 

Enter another one of my one bowl, ‘Quick and Easy’ meals.

Admittedly, this is a “throw together whatever is left in the refrigerator” meal, but it turned out fabulous!

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For 2 servings:

2 bags of shiratake noodles

2 big handfuls of fresh kale, cleaned and torn into bite sized pieces

1 leftover precooked chicken breast

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles

salt and pepper (to taste)

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Wine pairing:  This was really yummy along side of the Chariot Gypsy 2008 Red blend.  As I’ve mentioned in the past; red blends can be a really great value, giving you the best of all the grape varietals in the blend, enhancing each unique contribution.   This was nice and big, with notes of berries and sweet vanilla.  A perfect everyday red. 

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Are you a fan of football?  If so, what is “your” team?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Making Side Dishes Fun

Happy Monday morning blog readers!  I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend. 

I kicked off my weekend with an 11 mile run on Saturday morning.  I have to say, this half marathon training isn’t as bad as I anticipated.  Back when I used to do half marathons more frequently, I’d always train alone.  Training with a friend makes the run much more fun tolerable. I’ve also paid more attention to my refueling and stretching than I ever have before, which I believe has made a difference.  I make sure to eat and drink within 30-45 minutes when we are done and to do some foam rolling and/or stretching later in the day.  This has really helped, as I’ve always been plagued with IT Band Syndrome and subsequent hip and low back pain.  (I’ve also been adding maca to my post run fueling – could this be helping in recovery?)   We are going to rock the Long Beach Half Marathon next Sunday!

Now, let’s switch gears and chat about food shall we?  In particular, veggies.

I love my veggies, and always found it hard to believe when patients or friends told me that they don’t like vegetables.  But, when I think about it, I didn’t particularly care for most vegetables growing up.  Most of the time, vegetables in our house were canned corn or peas, and occasionally mixed vegetables.  In the summer there were fresh green beans out of the garden, but even those were boiled until soggy.  As I’ve grown to love my veggie side dishes, I’ve also gotten more creative in my preparation.  I love to roast veggies, dress them in some yummy sauces, and eat them raw in salads.  But, my all time favorite is hot off the grill with just a little EVOO and sea salt. 

Even cauliflower has become a favorite; turning it into cauliflower puree, or roasted with some root vegetables.  Last night, I decided to try it on the grill. 

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Grilled Cauliflower

Cut cauliflower head in half.  Microwave-steam the halves for approximately 4 minutes (until slightly soft.)  Rub lightly with EVOO and sprinkle with a little course ground sea salt.  Lay on pre-heated grill for approximately 7-8 minutes, or until you have nice grill lines and desired consistency of cauliflower.  ENJOY!

This was really good!  And such a fun presentation, don’t you agree? 

If you aren’t excited about cauliflower, here are a couple photos of Ava checking out some Halloween pumpkins.

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Same time last year:

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What is your favorite veggie preparation?