Friday, April 29, 2011

Fabulous Friday

I hope your Friday is turning out to be royally fabulous.  I was up before 4am to watch the festivities with bells and tiara on...

It was a lovely ceremony and I have lots more on the DVR to watch later on today and this weekend.  Rob is going to be just thrilled.  He did enjoy watching the ceremony with me, but that was because I plied him with tea and shortbread.

Tally and I did a few errands and then we had a walk at the park and then she had a good long play in the unleashed dog yard.  I made the tactical error of trying to get her attention with a treat when it was time to go.  Every other dog swarmed around me like I was a giant turkey leg, yet where was Tally?  Off trotting around acting like I wasn't there.  I got all muddied by this little cutie that will henceforth be known as Mudpaws.  I still have lots to learn as does my baby girl.  

I've got some food porn to share, but first check out this lily in the flowers I bought last Thursday.  It just opened yesterday and it is massive!  These flowers kept so well, I definitely got my money's worth.

I made my juice packs this afternoon...

and had my first juice in weeks.  Boy, did it taste and feel wonderful!

Yep, still wearing the tiara.  Wore it to the dog park, going to wear it all day.  :D

Now, on to the food.  Here is a lovely dinner salad with grilled asparagus and broccolini with beets and goat cheese dressed with oil and balsamic vinegar.

Spring barley "risotto" with asparagus, peas and mint.  The pearl barley takes much longer to cook than the recipe states, so I soaked it overnight which really helped.  This is one of my favorite spring dishes.  A must try!

Garden salad with grass fed sirloin, cucumbers, olives, grape tomatoes, mixed greens, scallions with Trader Joe's Pear Champagne Vinaigrette dressing (which is the only bottled dressing I buy.)  Grilling season is here and that means meat salad and lots of it.

Here's a keeper; Indian spiced turkey burgers (seasoned with shredded green apple, chutney, cilantro and garam masala) on the grill...

served with a crunchy cabbage slaw with  shredded carrots, cilantro and fresh diced mango and green apples in a dressing made with white balsamic vinegar, evoo and chutney.

And for tonight's supper, another Indian themed meal; Indian-Spiced Chicken and Asparagus from Eating Well magazine along with fluffy coconut brown basmati rice courtesy of Alisa Cooks.

What's cooking this weekend?  Whatever it is, I hope it is nutritious and delicious, have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Royal Wedding Squee!

 *pic courtesy of AP

I know that I'm not the only one excited about the upcoming Royal Wedding.  *I'm looking at you Steph*  

With all that is going on in the world; natural disasters, depressed economy and unemployment many people may feel like a big, spendy wedding is inappropriate.  I feel like it's an antidote to all the bad news we see every day.  It's a modern day fairy tale.  I remember watching Prince Charles and Lady Diana get married that summer in 1981 and I'm just as excited to watch their son marry lovely Kate tomorrow.

I have the DVR set to start taping BBC America's coverage at 3:30am.  I'll be up at 4am watching it as it happens on one of the HD channels, perhaps CNN (tiny crush on Anderson Cooper.)  I have crumpets to make for breakfast and of course, English tea.  Being a Disney Princess fan, I have my "princess wave" down pat and I got out my wedding tiara to wear for the occasion.  I'm sure it will look lovely with pajamas and bed head.  I'll be sure to share that lovely site with you.  If you've got a pic of you with your tiara on, e-mail it to me (see the contact me link)  or post it to the facebook page and I'll post it here.

What are your thoughts on the big event, do you plan to watch?  

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sorting Things Out

Today is the first day that I'm not feeling anxiety about my routine being disrupted by the addition of Tally to our family.  I haven't run my juicer or lifted a weight in the 3 weeks since we've had her.  Not an excuse, but change really does mess with my head.  The weekends are easy with Rob here but the weekdays have been a little overwhelming for me. I've been consumed with getting her sorted out and I let myself down in the process. 

But today my confidence is high and Tally and I are getting into a nice rhythm.  My fridge WILL be stocked with juice produce as of my market trip tomorrow and the juicer will be back running as usual, every morning!  I have missed my morning juice and I can definitely feel the difference in my vitality without it.  I WILL get back to the gym to do a full body routine of weight lifting  2 days next week and in the weeks following.  I WILL NOT let this change disrupt my healthy routine any longer.

If there is something that is holding you back, sort it out, get your head back in the right place and then move forward.  We can do it, we are worth it!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Weekend Highlights

I hope you all had a safe and enjoyable weekend. It was cool and cloudy on Friday, the perfect weather for a long hike.  We hit Red Top Mountain and did 5 miles.  Needless to say, the dog loved it!  The air was perfumed with the scent of sandalwood I'm wondering if santalum album trees are peppered throughout the natural landscape.  It was a great hike.

Unfortunately, my GPS watch malfunctioned when I got home and all the info from the hike was erased.  I've just dropped in the mail for a replacement under the warranty service.  I'll be 2 weeks without it but hopefully the new one will work without problems so it will be worth it. 

Saturday morning I hit the Farmer's Market in search of tarragon and fresh peas.  Found a bounty of English peas but had to go to the supermarket for tarragon, must get some tarragon going in a pot asap, I love it so.  I also picked up Saturday's dinner, Aussie pies!

The day started cool, misty and cloudy but gave way to warm breezes and blue skies.  We took Tally to play at the dog park then spent the rest of the afternoon and well into the evening on the deck.  A Cadbury mini creme egg or two may have made an appearance.  It is such a good thing that they are only sold once a year, they are my absolute favorite of all holiday candy.

I woke up Sunday morning and shelled peas for the salad...

Then we had breakfast, toasted Easter bread and farm eggs. 

Where's the fruit on my breakfast plate???  It was already in my belly.  After shelling the peas, I made the trifle for dessert and ended up eating more strawberries than made it into the bowl!

Five ingredients in this beauty and it was delicious.  I mixed some prepared lemon curd with mascarpone cheese and Greek yogurt and layered it with fresh strawberries and vanilla bean wafers.  It was a light and luscious cross between strawberry shortcake and trifle. 

After breakfast we were off to Kennesaw Mountain for an early afternoon trail walk.  When we came home, I made the Alex Guarnaschelli Pea Salad with Basil and Pea Shoots.

I cannot stress highly enough how much you NEED to make this salad right now.  It was incredible!  The extra step of blanching was well worth it.  I used whole grain Dijon mustard but otherwise I stuck to the recipe and it turned out better than I could have hoped.  So fresh, bright and crunchy it went very well with the ham.  I also steamed some fingerling potatoes and tossed them with a bit of butter and snipped chives.  Dinner was so good.

The ham was quite a surprise.  I'm a Honey Baked Ham snob of the highest order but when I sampled the spiral cut honey glazed ham from Trader Joe's I thought it tasted good enough for me to buy one for the holiday.  Well, I'm a convert.  It was better than a Honey Baked at half the price.  Win-win.

Overall it was a lovely weekend although my thoughts were also with my boss, our fearless and compassionate Nursing Director who lost her husband on Thursday.  Life is unpredictable and can be cruel.  I spent much of it counting my blessings, feeling very lucky to have my family and my health.  Hug your loved ones a little closer and be very thankful for every moment you get to spend with them.  I wish each of you a happy and healthy week.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Strawberry Squee!

So, no one is doing anything for the holiday weekend, not going anywhere, not eating anything, nothing, anyone?  *crickets*

I hit Trader Joe's this morning to pick up a few things.  They had lovely sweet-tart and juicy clementines.  I love when shops have samples of their fruit, so disappointing to buy tempting looking fruit and come home to find it dry and tasteless.  Not these beauties!

I also treated myself to some flowers. I love having flowers in the house in springtime!  Would have them fresh and in every room year round if it were in the budget.

Then I hit the farm to pick up my milk.  The girls were just finishing up picking fresh strawberries.  I was so excited I bought two pounds.  I ate one before I got back in my car.  Oh, my, this is what strawberries are supposed to taste like.  Like sweet, fragrant sunshine.  It's the texture, though, that really delights me.  Freshly picked strawberries are so succulent.  Fragrant and SUCCULENT! 

 Say it with me:  succulent!

One pound we'll eat out of hand, the other will go into Easter dessert.  I'm going to make a mini-trifle, layers of lemon cream (lemon curd whipped up with mascarpone cheese and Greek yogurt), sliced strawberries and vanilla bean wafers.  Late harvest Gewurztraminer alongside.

Tally and I just got back from our afternoon walk.  She wanted to bring some homemade Easter bread to the ladies at the Vet's office to thank them for taking such good care of her last week so we walked the 3 miles round trip.  It's a warm sunny day and we are working on our pace.  18 minute miles!


Whomever said "a well-behaved dog is a well exercised dog" was so right.  Baby girl is wiped out!  I'm headed to the shower and then I'm going to watch Top Chef: Masters.  I hear they are cooking horn worms.  Mmmmmm!  ;)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter Weekend Plans

We were supposed to go and explore St. Augustine, FL this coming weekend but with the new addition to our family, we've decided to postpone.  I know Tally would love to frolic on the beach but I don't think I'm ready to deal with a salt water and sand soaked pup just yet. 

What have you got planned for the Easter holiday weekend? 

We're planning lots of walking with the dog, some sitting outdoor relaxing and reading and there will be a ham involved.  We're heading to the Marietta Farmer's Market on Saturday morning to see what is fresh and in season to keep Mr. Piggy company on the Sunday table.  I can't wait to see all the fresh veggies piled high!  I saw Alex Guarnaschelli make this amazing looking pea salad so I have my fingers crossed for fresh peas.  What are your favorite ham side dishes?

Do you have a special dessert planned?  I'm still undecided, though something light and lemony might be perfect for the occasion.  And I'm hoping that a certain Bunny brings me a Cadbury Creme Egg because I haven't had one since last year and I'm really looking forward to it.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sausage and Southern Greens Strata

Strata is savory bread pudding and I love it. What I like best is it can be made in advance. I made this beauty on a Saturday afternoon, covered it with foil and stashed it in the fridge. On Sunday evening, I let it sit on the side to get the chill off then popped it into the oven and dinner was served.

This recipe was adapted from the Sausage and Swiss Chard Strata recipe in the April 2011 issue of Everyday Food.  I used a bit less milk, fewer eggs, less bread and doubled the greens.  It turned out wonderful.  You could could omit the meat and use some tender white beans if you wanted a vegetarian version.  This recipe makes 6 generous servings and is excellent reheated for leftovers.

Sausage and Southern Greens Strata

1 pound sweet Italian sausage, meat removed from the casings
1 small onion, diced
2 pounds of chopped southern greens (I used a blend of collards, turnip, mustard and spinach)
2 cups of milk
4 whole eggs
1 tablespoon whole grain dijon mustard
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 day-old baguette, cut into 1/2 inch slices (I used about 2/3 of the loaf)
1 cup of shredded cheese (I used 4 cheese blend)

Pre-heat large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the sausage meat until crumbled and cooked through.  Remove to a bowl, reserve a little of the fat for cooking the greens and discard the rest.  Saute the onion in the fat until soft then add the greens.  You may have to add them in batches.  Keep adding more as they cook down.  Season with salt and pepper.  Once all the greens are added to the pan, season with salt and pepper, put the lid on the pan and cook greens until they are tender. 

Mix the cooked greens with the crumbled sausage and put it in a casserole dish (my dish is approx. 8x11.) 

Arrange the bread slices on top. Make it pretty, Martha is watching.

Next, whisk together milk, eggs, mustard and cayenne pepper and pour mixture slowly over the top of the bread.

You can let it sit for 10 minutes and bake it straight away, or cover it and stash it in the fridge overnight.  Bake, covered in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes.  Uncover, sprinkle the top with cheese and bake again...

until you achieve brown, bubbly deliciousness (about 10-15 minutes.)

Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Turned a Corner

At the risk of having this space turn into a dog blog, Tally and I had two great breakthroughs yesterday.  She's feeling better and we started her on a new diet.  We've decided to try the biologically appropriate raw feeding.  The irony that this method is called BARF is not lost on me.  Hahaha!  We're using Nature's Variety Instinct which is commercially prepared raw food that is grain free and full of raw meat, bone meal and fruit and veggies.  Tally is loving it!  The little lady with no appetite is suddenly excited about meal time and licking her dish clean.

The other breakthrough is the Halti head collar.  Tally is strong, stronger than she looks.  She likes to pull on the leash and walking had become a little frustrating for me, it was hurting my hips and shoulders.  The Halti was recommended in the training book I'm reading and I bought one yesterday.  And miracle of miracles, we had two long, vigorous walks yesterday with no pulling!  In fact, I wore her out yesterday, she plopped on a grassy patch near the end of the second walk and we had to come home.  How funny is it that a pup can't keep up with this old bird?

I'm feeling so much better, I'm learning her ways and we're on our way into getting into a routine.  So, other than the occasional doggy anecdote or photo, this blog will be getting back to business as usual; food porn, nutritious and delicious recipes, struggles and successes and my bipolar attitude toward working out.  

I've got a delectable recipe to post, it was a variation on the Sausage and Swiss Chard Strata that's featured in the latest issue of Everyday Food.  The pics will make you drool!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Struggling with a Sick Pup

As you know, change has always been a sort of trigger for me,  it's something I've worked on with good success but it is my carefully planned routine keeps me moving forward on my healthy path.  Since getting the dog, I have been struggling more than I care to admit.  Add to that the fact that Tally has been sick and I'm really out of sorts.  

Tally spent the overnight Monday and early morning hours Tuesday with vomiting and diarrhea.  I spent it soothing her and cleaning up mess after mess after mess.  She had to spend 4 hours at the Vet yesterday getting IV fluids.  She's resting now and I'm trying to remain calm and collected so that she won't get nervous from my vibes. 

The change in routine has thrown a small kink in my healthy eating but is the stress snacking has really set me back.  Having a sick pet is awful, I never realized.  I can't even imagine having a sick child.  I'm going to work through this the best I can and get Tally back up to full speed so we can be back out there walking and running and playing.  I may not be around too much until we're both feeling better.  Until then, your positive vibes are most appreciated.

Enjoy the day!

Monday, April 11, 2011

March Madness

March was crazy but it has nothing on how April is shaping up to be.  I'll talk a bit more about how I'm feeling in another post.  The dog is busy gobbling up her supper ( her appetite is back, thank goodness) so I have a free moment to share some of the pics from March before it is too distant a memory.  

I made a southern meal for The Ducks, which included BBQ Ribs.  I used this recipe and here is how they turned out...

I've tried ribs several times and this was the best method so far.  They weren't as tender as I had hoped but I will work with this recipe again.  Love that char!  And the sauce was heavenly.  I served it with a whole mess of greens and corn casserole.

My mother and I made stuffed artichokes.  I love artichokes any way at all but this is the absolute ultimate.  Trim the top and bottom and trim the points.


Open it up and scrape out the choke with a melon baller so nothing but the tender heart remains in the center so it can hold a nice bit of stuffing.

Stuff with a mixture of fresh breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, olive oil and grated cheese.

Place them all in a deep roasting pan, add chicken stock, wine and garlic cloves, cover tightly and back until tender.  Up to 4 hours in a hot oven.  They are so good!

Here's a pic of me with The Ducks.  Can you guess which one is my mother and which one is my auntie?

The Ducks brought me an ice cream maker, which I'm thrilled about although it will be used thoughtfully and cautiously.  

My first creation:  Raw milk chocolate gelato.  One part raw cream and two parts raw milk, 4 pastured eggs, one package of melted 60% bittersweet chocolate and some sweetened condensed milk.  No cooking, just whip it up in the blender and into the maker.

The consensus from all parties was that this was the best ice cream ever!

I made roast chicken for dinner when The Ducks were here.  One is a pastured broiler from the farm, the other is an "industrial organic" chicken from Costco.

Can you see the difference other than the size?

We ate the pastured chicken for dinner and the other was turned into homemade soup the next day.

A good time was had by all!