Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cherry Raspberry Soda

To tell you the truth, I've never been a soda drinker. The only sodas I can actually drink are Sprite, Root Beer or any sparkling fruit juice. Anything else, I will not hesitate to stick my tongue out at.

The main exception is if I can make my own sodas at home. I'm not a fan of sugary sweet drinks, so I tend to make my sodas a little on the light side. This cherry raspberry soda is definitely one of my favorites to make and I'm sure it would please any one who loves a nice, refreshing soda.

Cherry Raspberry Soda

Serves 1

Sparkling water
Raspberry syrup
Maraschino cherries

Pour some of the raspberry syrup into a glass, followed by a few cherries (and some maraschino syrup, if desired). Top with some sparkling water and enjoy!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Jamaican-Indian Salmon with Almond Pilaf

I have a confession to make. I'm a cookbook-aholic. Really. Let me explain.

I currently have 178 cookbooks in my collection. Now, not all of them are books (some are pdfs) but still. 178. I've even considered selling some of them to make room for more, but instead I just buy more of them or get them from friends.

One of the pdf's I have is Betty Crocker Best of Baking. It's a great reference if you want to find your typical American baked goods: chocolate chip cookies, apple crisp, breads, etc. It's also got some hidden gems of savory fare like this almond pilaf.

Normally when I hear almond pilaf, I think of a wild rice mix with almonds and cranberries scattered on top. Is this like that? Not in the slightest.

It has a warm, earthy spice mix consisting mainly of curry powder, turmeric and allspice, three flavors that normally you wouldn't think to put together, but surprisingly complement each other. I decided to also flavor a salmon fillet with the same mix and then serve it with some simple blanched broccoli. The meal as a whole was so good, I couldn't wait to eat it for lunch the next day.

Jamaican Indian Salmon with Almond Pilaf
adapted from Betty Crocker Best of Baking

Serves 4

1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups uncooked regular long grain rice
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cups hot chicken broth
1/4 cup slivered blanched almonds
1/2 lb. salmon fillet
olive oil

1. Mix spices together in a small bowl.  Use half of the spice mix to coat the salmon. Let sit while you prepare the rice.
2. In a medium saucepan, cook onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until translucent. Add rice, remaining spice mix, and the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat 15-20 minutes until cooked. (Additionally, this can be made in a rice cooker, but the curry powder may stain it yellow)
3. While rice is cooking, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Cook salmon skin side down for 2-3 minutes, then flip over. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, then flip and cover and let steam for the remaining 2-3 minutes until the fish flakes.
4. Serve with rice and steamed broccoli.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Balsamic Pork Chops with Sauteed Carrots and Crispy Potatoes

I have made this recipe countless times and it has been one that has escaped my need for perfection. There was always something off about it. It looked good, tasted ok, but there was always something missing.

Till I met the thin cut, boneless pork chop. I'm having a new love affair with them, something the regular ole pork chops could never provide. The old would turn out dry, tasteless, and pallid. The new is soft, tender and oh so brown. I'm never going back to the old pork chops. Sorry to say that love has faded and gone.

Oh and those spuds? Watch out, there. They are going to knock your socks off with their crispy shell and their fluffy insides. And the carrots? So sweet and tender you just wanna kiss them! (Or gobble them up, like I did)

Enjoy this meal when you are in a rush, but want something delicious and comforting.

Balsamic Pork Chops with Sauteed Carrots and Crispy Potatoes

Serves 4

1 lb. thin cut, boneless pork chops
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds 1/4" thick
8 baby red potatoes (they must be baby reds if you want this to be quick)
olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. chicken stock
salt and pepper
your favorite potato toppings, to serve

1. Stab the potatoes with a fork several times and microwave for 2 minutes, no more, no less. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil and brown pork chops, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside. Meanwhile, heat another saute pan over medium-high heat and add 2 tbsp olive oil. Add carrots and saute until they turn yellow on the face of each round. Lower heat to medium low and let cook, stirring often, until soft, about 5-6 minutes.
3. Once oven is heated, pop potatoes onto a baking sheet, roll in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then bake fore 5 minutes until soft.
4. Add balsamic vinegar and chicken stock to pork pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, then simmer for 2-3 minutes, until reduced by half. Pour over pork chops and let them absorb the sauce.
5. Take potatoes out of oven and let rest for a few minutes. Once everything is cooked, serve family style.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Shrimp and Lemongrass Soup

Shrimp and lemongrass soup is a perfect soup for those days when you want something light and healthy. The soup base is scented lightly with lemongrass, to which julienned daikon and carrots are added, along with sweet, succulent shrimp. It's light and healthy and perfect for an early spring lunch.

Shrimp and Lemongrass Soup

Serves 4

6 raw jumbo shrimp, peeled and deviened, peels reserved
2 lemongrass stems
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 c. bean sprouts
1 lime, juiced
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1/2 daikon, peeled and julienned
4 c. chicken stock
Mint, for garnish

1. Cut off the white part of the lemongrass stems, reserving tops. Cut the white part into inch long pieces and flatten with the knife. Bring chicken stock to a boil in a large stockpot and add lemongrass stem and shrimp shells. Simmer for 2 minutes, then set aside to infuse. 
2. Strain stock, then return to stock pot. Slice the remaining lemongrass stem and finely chop. Add to stock along with shrimp, and simmer for 3-4 minutes until shrimp is pink. Add lime juice, scallions, bean sprouts, carrots and daikon. 
3. Stir well and season well. Serve with a mint garnish.


Linked at Whole Foods Wednesdays, Weigh in Wednesdays

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Orange Beef Stir Fry

Stir fries are one of my favorite things to make for dinner. I'm sure I've said that over and over, but really, they are so easy! I like coming up with new flavor combinations. Sometimes they are out of this world (like this recipe!), other times they fall flat, but are still tasty.

I enjoyed this one a few months ago (and then forgot about the picture!), but I'm pulling it out now to share with you. I can't quite remember my inspiration for this dish, but I'm pretty sure it was the pile of oranges sitting in my kitchen, begging to be eaten. (The half glass of orange juice left in the container probably helped egg me on, too!).

This stir fry has a nice complex of crunchy and sweet paired with some heat from a few red pepper flakes. Served over rice, it's a meal that will satisfy any craving for Asian cuisine.

Orange Beef Stir Fry

Serves 4

1 lb. sirloin steak, sliced thinly
1/2 bag snow peas
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. orange juice
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp mirin
Peanut oil
cooked rice, for serving
fresh orange wedges, for garnish

1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok or saute pan over med-high heat. Add beef and stir until almost all of the pieces are no longer pink. Remove from pan and set aside.
2. Add sauce and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1-2 minutes to thicken, then add peas. Simmer for 1 more minutes, then stir in beef. Let sit over low heat for a minute to reheat the beef. 
3. Serve over rice, with orange wedges as a garnish.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Tuna and White Bean Salad

Ever since going egg and dairy free, one thing I have missed is a tuna salad sandwich. My grandma used to make us kids tuna salad sandwiches by combining canned tuna, mayo, mustard and relish. I loved adding more pickles to mine, along with eating lots of cucumber chips. I couldn't get enough!

I was slightly bummed, but then I decided to make a bunch of new tuna salads to ease my melancholy. This is the first one I made, and so far it's been the best. Mashing the white beans creates a creamy consitency that mirrors the crunch of the celery. I also added in a little red wine vinegar for some tang and to balance out the olive oil from the tuna.

This tuna salad would be delicious on crackers, between 2 slices of whole wheat bread or on top of some salad leaves. It takes only a few minutes to whip together and is just as good as regular tuna salad.

Tuna and White Bean Salad

 1 can tuna in olive oil, undrained
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 stalk celery, diced
red wine vinegar
olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Put the beans in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher until mostly mashed. (If you would like a super creamy spread, whir beans in the food processor with a tablespoon of olive oil until smooth). Add tuna and celery, stir to combine.
2. Drizzle vinegar (about 1 tbsp) and salt and pepper; stir to mix. Add more vinegar if you would like more tang. 


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Set Backs

I was so looking forward to finishing out the ski season with some great, sunny spring skiing, but it's looking like that won't happen.

I'm not quite sure how I did it, but I managed to strain a muscle that goes from my hip to my groin and possibly gave myself a hernia. I never had a moment where I said, "Ow, that hurt;" rather the pain increased gradually over a couple of days.

It's been tough to not be able to do the things I love and stay active. I do, however, believe this injury was my body's way of saying I need a time out. I've been doing a lot of thinking and it's been stressing me out.

I've realized that I really need to work on my stress level. I didn't realize how high it got until I was thinking my way into a panic. I started to hyperventilate and feel dizzy until I slowly calmed my breathing and realized, Wow! I'm really stressed out.

So I've been taking this week to relax a little, destress. I'm looking forward to being healed and getting back to being active, but for now I'm just going to take it easy and relax.

I have an ultrasound tomorrow to see if I have a hernia (which I hope I don't because then I would need surgery!), and then I'm taking a few rest days.

Once I'm healed, I plan on starting the hiking season with a few easy hikes, then slowly get into running and cycling. I'm so excited for summer!

Me at Sheep Lake, Summer 2011

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Egg and Dairy Free Pancakes

I was reading an article about flaxseed and it's wonderful health properties. I was convinced, so I decided to pick some up at the store to add to smoothies. As I was wandering the aisles, I found a bag of ground flaxseed made by Bob's Red Mill. I read the package and lucky me, there was a tip on using flaxseed as a substitute for eggs in most baked goods. I decided to buy some and give it a try.

Since going egg and dairy free, one thing I missed were pancakes. I decided to give them a try with flaxseed and almond milk. I do have to say they were mighty tasty! And they were still incredibly fluffy, like a regular pancake. The almond milk lended a nutty flavor, while the flaxseed gave the pancakes a heartier texture.

If you or your kids have an egg or dairy allergy, give these pancakes a try!

Egg and Dairy Free Pancakes

1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground flaxseed (sometimes called flaxseed meal)
1 c. almond milk
2 tbsp cooking oil

1. In a small bowl, mix together ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp water. Let stand for 2-3 minutes before using.
2. In another bowl, mix together flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add almond milk and cooking oil to flaxseed, then pour into the flour. Mix well until there are few lumps left.
3. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add 1/4 c.of batter to the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes until bubbles form on top. Flip and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. Remove from pan and repeat until batter has been used up.

Serve with maple syrup or your favorite jam.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Espresso Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Brussels Sprouts

I was at Watson's Nursery in Puyallup a few weeks ago, having lunch with a few girlfriends, and as we were perusing the knick knacks, I spotted an espresso meat rub. The thought of having coffee in a rub for meat was intriguing and sounded really good so I bought it. I finally got around to trying it on some pork tenderloin and it was amazing!

The rub is made by Stonewall Kitchen and it is smoky and complex. It would make a great rub on any meat, from chicken to steak. The pork tenderloin was an easy way to use the espresso rub and went great with the Brussels sprouts. It would also be great on a grilled steak in summertime, with a tossed salad.

Espresso Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Brussels Sprouts and Quinoa

1 lb. pork tenderloin
Stonewall Kitchen's Espresso Rub
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
1 c. quinoa, rinsed
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut tenderloin in half and spread rub all over tenderloin. Put on a baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes, until an internal temperature reaches 145 F. Remove from oven and cover with foil to rest.
2. Toss Brussels sprouts and garlic with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in a ceramic or glass baking dish and place in the oven with the tenderloin during the last 10-15 minutes, until cooked through.
3. Bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add quinoa, reduce to simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Set aside until everything is cooked.
4. Slice tenderloin and serve.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lime-Paprika Cod with Chard and Quinoa

Cod with Chard and Quinoa is definitely one of the healthiest meals I've made. Chard has vitamins A, C and K while quinoa has a very high amount of protein, including some essential amino acids. Cod is just delicious!

I got the inspiration for the cod from a pdf cookbook I own called Betty Crocker Cooking Basics. There is a baked fish recipe which called for lemon juice and paprika. I had some lime juice on hand, so I used that instead. The chard was sauteed with some diced tomatoes and garlic. The quinoa was leftover from a previous night, but I will still provide the recipe for it.

Enjoy this easy, healthy and quick meal anytime of the week.

Lime-Paprika Cod with Chard and Quinoa

Serves 4

4 cod fillets
1 lime, zested and juiced
1/2 tsp paprika
1 bunch chard, rinsed and chopped
1 tomato, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
1 c. quinoa, rinsed
1 handful cilantro, chopped
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Put cod fillets on a baking sheet, rub with olive oil, sprinkle with lime juice, lime zest, paprika, salt and pepper. Bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes until fish flakes. Remove from oven and cover with foil to rest.
2. Meanwhile, bring chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan. When boiling, add quinoa and stir. Reduce to simmer and cook for 10 minutes, until all liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro leaves.
3. While cod and quinoa are cooking, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a saute pan. Add garlic and tomatoes and cook for 1 minute, until garlic is fragrant. Add chard, lower heat and cover. Let cook for 5 minutes. Set aside until cod and quinoa are done. 
4. When everything is done, plate and serve.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Roasted Chicken with Rosemary, Potatoes and Red Onions

Roasting chicken with vegetables is one of my favorite weekend meals. After a long, hard ski day, I love to come home to wonderfully aromatic smell of chicken in the oven. I first came across this dish in one of my favorite cookbooks, Roast Figs Sugar Snow by Diana Henry. I was initially attracted to this book because of the Eastern European influences, but I stayed because the food is simple yet divine.

Most of the meals in Diana's cookbook are rather simple. This roasted chicken dish, for example, required only cutting the potatoes and onions, then tossing everything in a baking dish and baking for 45 minutes. Dinner couldn't get any easier!

Roasted Chicken with Rosemary, Potatoes and Red Onions

Serves 4

1 lb. chicken pieces (preferably dark meat)
1/2 lb. yukon gold potatoes, quartered
1 red onion, cut into wedges
1 sprig rosemary
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange potatoes and red onion wedges in a ceramic baking dish. Lay chicken on top of the veggies. Sprinkle everything with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Tear the leaves off the rosemary stem and sprinkle them on top.
2. Bake for 40-45 until chicken is 145 degrees, using a thermometer. Let rest, covered with foil, for 10 minutes.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Special Days

Is it just me or do you also sometimes have random memories float into your head?

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about this trip I made up to Chinook pass last fall. It was a great day I will never forget, and it makes me smile whenever I think about it. That day was a very special day to me. 

I try to make everyday a special day, but sometimes there are those days that stick in your mind. Some are good, some are bad. I tend to focus on the good special days, but sometimes my thoughts will wander onto those not-so-good days.

I just want to say thank you to those who made these special days that I'm featuring in the photos here. I'm so glad to have you all in my life. You guys are truly wonderful people and I feel so blessed. You guys are what makes a day stick in my mind and become a special day.

Thank you!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Souped-Up Pho

If you visit Seattle, one of the first things you will notice is that we have teriyaki, Thai and pho restaurants on nearly every corner. Every Seattleite has their favorite spot and they will be quick to tell you. (Ok and since you asked, my favorite teriyaki is Kiku's on 50th and the Ave in Seattle; my favorite Thai is Benjarong in Covington and my favorite pho is from Papaya in the Crossroads Mall in Bellevue.)

A lot of Seattleites eat Asian cuisine fairly often. As much as I love getting takeout from my favorite restaurants, I enjoy making the same dishes at home, adding my own twists. One of my favorite meals to make it homemade pho because it's simple and takes 15 minutes or less to make. I also tend to deviate from the traditional pho by adding more veggies other than just jalapenos and white onion slices. I usually grab whatever veggies sound good from the salad bar at my grocery store. Tonight, I added adding bell peppers, carrots, edamame and green onions.

In keeping with the traditional, I love to add a splash of lime juice and a spoonful of hoisin sauce after cooking. A few squirts of Sriracha make the meal deliciously spicy. Go ahead and try some homemade pho today!

Souped Up Homemade Pho

1 box Pacific Foods Pho Starter (Beef, Chicken or Veggie)
1/2 package rice thread noodles
1 lb. sirloin steak or chicken breast, thinly sliced
favorite assortment of veggies (I get mine precut at the salad bar at my store)
1 lime, cut into wedges
Hoisin sauce
Sriracha sauce

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook for 1 minute then drain and set aside.
2. Bring pho starter to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add meat, cook for 1 minute then add noodles and veggies. Cook for 1 more minute then remove from heat.
3. Serve with hoisin and sriracha sauces. 


Monday, April 2, 2012

Why I Love Skiing

Whenever I meet someone new, I like to ask them what they like to do for fun. I get various answers from people, but the first words out of my mouth are almost always, "skiing."

For a while, I couldn't explain why I love skiing so much. All I knew was that I was crazy about it. Slowly, over time I've come to find the reasons why I love skiing and am pretty much addicted to it.

Snoqualmie Pass at dusk

I love the feeling of standing on top of a mountain.

The unexplainable sensation of feeling absolutely tiny in the shadow of these huge mountains along with feeling so tall, like you can conquer anything.

Snoqualmie Pass at dusk

Racing down the hill as fast as you dare go, letting you scare yourself at how fast you are going.

Flying through the air.

Silver Fir Chairlift at Snoqualmie Pass

Spending time with my dad, my brothers Steven and Andy, my sister-in-law Angel and a few good friends. 

My dad, me and Steven at Crystal

Those days when hardly anyone is on the hill and you can feel like you are almost there by yourself.

Me at Crystal with Mt. Rainier

Being able to think clearly, or not think at all.

Focusing on one thing at a time, instead of trying to multitask.

Peak to Creek at Whistler

Skiing feeds my need for exploration and my need for a challenge.

Skiing centers me, makes me feel whole.

Peak to Creek at Whistler

What activities do you love? Why do you love them?

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