Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Girls and sport: My thoughts

This morning, while checking the news, I came across an article from the BBC about girls and PE classes. The article makes the argument that schools should offer more "feminine" sports such as rollerblading and Zumba in order to get more girls to participate in fitness activities.

While I agree that schools should offer a wider variety of fitness activities, I don't think that schools should only offer them to girls.

I remember when I was growing up, I loved sports. I loved being able to compete (and beat) the boys at boys' sports. Flag football, lacrosse, basketball, softball. You name it, I loved it. I competed in gymnastics and was on my junior high's dance team. PE was awesome to me.

However, I remember most girls didn't think PE was so awesome. They thought I was crazy for wanting to sweat and to show up the boys. They didn't like running or doing any activities, so they essentially failed PE.

When I look at most of those same girls now, unfortunately they are all out of shape and I am positive they don't have any fitness routine. I think that's a shame. We should be helping young girls find some sort of fitness activity that they love and will stick to for the rest of their life. We should be instilling in them that fitness is fun and doesn't have to be a chore, and that it's ok to sweat.

I'm definitely for adding more variety to PE classes, like including Zumba and rollerblading. But what about pilates or yoga? How about tai chi? What about martial arts? Obstacle courses? And I definitely don't agree with seperating the classes based on gender. What if a boy wants to try pilates or zumba? Or a girl, like me, wants to play flag football or lacrosse? Let them all try the new activities, but don't force them.

So I'm gonna go into a "what if" of if I was a director of the PE department at a school. I would say three days a week, let them have the freedom to make a choice from a selection of 3 activities. For example, for a whole week, offer yoga, flag football and Frisbee golf. Offer these same 3 for the whole week. For the other 2 days, do some sort of running/walking activity. The goal is to just have the kids move, not to make them hate fitness. Some kids will run, some will walk. As long as they are moving a lot, that's what is important. For the whole year, rotate through a list of activities, giving the kids lots of variety.

I believe that adding more variety and letting kids try new activities will help set them up for fitness successes later in life. The current system is failing the next generation.

What are your opinions or ideas on this article and on girls and PE?

Rattlesnake Ledge

WAHOO! First hike of the season and I decided to do the thigh burner known as Rattlesnake Ledge.

View from the top
Other than Mt. Si, this is one of the most crowded trails in the North Bend area. Probably because it's relatively short and the views are spectacular! I mean, look at the color of that lake!

This is an unedited picture. That's the actual color of the lake!

North Bend and Mt. Si (I was having too much fun with my editing software!)
Going up the trail, we saw lots of people with minimal equipment, aka trail runners. I would love to get in shape to run this trail, but I'm nowhere near that!

From left to right: Valerie, me, Beverly, Julia, Jaci and Meadow

Since it was a nice day, it was definitely crowded. We left the parking lot at about 9:30 am and when we got to the top around 11 am, there was 30-40 people also at the top. I swear we passed by at least a hundred people on the way down!

Rattlesnake Ledge from the lake

I definitely want to do this hike again soon. It's relatively easy, as long as you take your time and try not to rush your way to the top. I'm planning on doing this one again soon (and many more times) as a quick after work hike.

Our leader, Meadow

If you plan on doing this hike during a nice weekend, I suggest getting there early. The parking lot was full when we got back down, AND there was a third of a mile long line of cars parked on both sides of the road. On a not so nice weekend, you might be able to squeeze in a spot, but I wouldn't count on it!

Rattlesnake Lake
If you are looking for a good workout with some breathtaking views, try Rattlesnake Ledge. You won't believe your eyes when you get to the top!

Driving directions and more information here.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dairy and Egg-Free Chicken Club Sandwich

Earlier this month, Tina from My Life as a Mrs. posted a Bacon Avocado Chicken Club with Garlic-Basil Mayo that made me want to lick my screen. Every single part of her post looked enticing and I just new I had to try my own dairy and egg-free version.

I substituted mashed avocado with lime juice, cilantro and chives for the garlic basil mayo, and then used goat cheddar for the cheese. I also found a great lettuce mix featuring spinach, arugula, tatsoi and chard that added so much extra flavor. I can honestly say this is one of the best sandwiches I have ever made. I even took one to work the next day and my oh my it was tasty!

Dairy and Egg-Free Chicken Club Sandwich
adapted from My Life as a Mrs.
Serves 2

1 chicken breast, split into 2
2 strips peppered bacon, cut in half
1 avocado
1/2 lime
1 small handful cilantro leaves
4 sprigs of chives
4 slices sourdough bread
lettuce greens (your favorite mix)
tomato, sliced
red onion, sliced
goat cheddar, sliced
salt and pepper

1. Mash avocado and stir in juice from half of a lime. Chop herbs and stir in. Set aside.
2. Heat grill or saute pan over med-high heat and cook bacon to desired crispiness. Set on paper towel when cooked. Pound each chicken breast piece to 1/2" thick. Season with salt and pepper. Cook on same pan for 4-5 minutes per side until done. Remove from pan a let rest until ready to assemble sandwiches.
3. To assemble, toast sourdough slices. Spread avocado mixture on 1 side of 2 pieces of bread. Layer chicken, bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion and goat cheddar. Top with other slice of bread. Slice in half and serve with some oven crisped sweet potato fries.


Linked at Mandy's Recipe Box, Thursday Treasures and Beyond the Peel,

Friday, May 25, 2012

Asparagus and Prosciutto Pasta

And another asparagus recipe appears! My inspiration for this recipe was actually a recipe I made a while back, my asparagus, pea and proscuitto risotto. The other night, I was really craving risotto, but didn't have the energy to cook it. So I took the easy way out and made pasta!

I steamed the asparagus over the boiling water while the pasta was cooking, which shortened the time considerably. While the pasta was cooking, I browned some garlic in a little olive oil, then drizzled it over the final pasta dish. Salty prosciutto rounded out the meal for some meatiness.

If you are craving an easy, mouthwatering pasta dish, this is the recipe for you. Give it a try tonight! Adding a little Parmesan probably wouldn't hurt either! ;)

Asparagus and Prosciutto Pasta
Serves 4

1 bunch asparagus, stems snapped off, remaining cut in half
1/2 box penne pasta
8 oz prosciutto
2 garlic cloves, minced finely
1/4 c. olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Bring a large stock pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to directions. During last 7 minutes, steam asparagus. Drain and set aside.
2. In a small saute pan, briefly cook garlic in olive oil


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Asparagus and Hummus on Pita

Another asparagus recipe! I love asparagus, and since it's only in season here for 2 months or so, I try to gobble it up as much as I can. I typically will keep some steamed asparagus in my fridge as a quick side dish or snack. This recipe came to exist from me being hungry and not wanting to go to the store. Don't you love those recipes?

I was just going to have some hummus and pita, but then I saw my steamed asparagus and decided to add some on top of the toasted pita. Spread a little hummus, drizzle a little olive oil, some salt and pepper, and you've got one delectable spring snack, easy peasy!

Asparagus and Hummus on Toasted Pita
Serves 1

1 pita, whole wheat
a few spears of steamed asparagus
olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400 F. Add pita and toast lightly on both sides. Brush with hummus, layer asparagus spears on top, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Stewed Strawberries and Rhubarb

Whenever I mention rhubarb to someone, I either get an oh yum! gimme more! look on their face, or a look of absolute disgust. Ew, rhubarb?

Unfortunately those in the former category are all too few. Rhubarb should be celebrated and adored as much as any other fruit. (Oh wait, it is!) Most that are in the latter category have never had it prepared properly and therefore find it gross.

Luckily, I grew up eating rhubarb. My grandparents had a big patch of it so we would make strawberry rhubarb everything! Crisps, pies, cobbler. I was under the impression that everyone loved rhubarb as much as my family does. Guess I was wrong.

If you are not a fan of rhubarb (and even if you already are), try this recipe. It's super easy and it shows you how delicious rhubarb truly can be. Rhubarb is inherently sour, so you must add sweetener, and typically strawberries are added for two reasons:

1. To cut down on the amount of sugar you need, and
2. Because they taste awesome together!

Enjoy some stewed strawberries and rhubarb over toast, with granola, over ice cream or over yogurt. It would also be good on waffles, pancakes or french toast, if you are in a breakfast mood. I tend to make large batches of this and then eat it for breakfast or dessert. I hope this recipe will convert some of you into rhubarb lovers!

Stewed Strawberries and Rhubarb
Makes about 1 qt.

1 lb. strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 lb. rhubarb, rinsed and cut into 1/2" slices
1/4 c. white sugar, plus extra if desired.

1. Put all ingredients in a large saucepan and put over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Once the liquid starts coming out of the strawberries and begins to boil, turn to low heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes until rhubarb has melted into the strawberries, stirring occasionally.
2. Taste and add sugar, as desired. Serve hot over ice cream for a delicious treat.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Garlic Artichoke Appetizer

Who doesn't love garlic? I sure do. And who doesn't love spinach and artichoke dip? I sure do!

Anyways, I was really wanting some creamy artichoke dip, but that would be the death of my stomach, so I pondered how to make an artichoke appetizer to satisfy my craving. A few quartered frozen artichoke hearts in a tangy garlic vinaigrette, baked in the oven till hot and roasty and served with some bread to mop up the delicious goodness was definitely up my alley. This appetizer is a perfect way to start out an everyday meal, but fancy enough to serve at cocktail hour. Now, where did I put my sea breeze?

Garlic Artichoke Appetizer
Serves 4

1 bag frozen artichoke hearts
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
chives, for garnish
baguette, sliced

1. Heat oven to 400 F. In a large baking dish, scatter artichoke hearts, still frozen. Whisk together garlic, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Pour over artichokes and toss to combine.
2. Bake 10 minutes, until hot. Sprinkle chopped chives over the top and serve with baguette slices.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Banana and Mango Salad

Quick story with this one. I had a mango, it needed to be eaten. I knew the mango by itself wouldn't be enough to satisfy my sweet tooth, so the banana offered itself up. The banana and mango cried out, we need some spice here, lady! The cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice all jumped up and said, Oooh! Pick me! Pick me! So I picked all three. The agave nectar stood by while all this commotion was going on, waiting patiently like a grasshopper. After the ruckus had died down, the agave stood up straight as a general and proclaimed, To satisfy this lady's sweet tooth, you will need some of me. Otherwise, fail, you will. The rest agreed wholeheartedly, and the agave joined the bunch in silent dignity.

Together, they made a delicious dessert that definitely pleased this lady's palate.

(Ok sorry, I got a little carried away there. Hope it made you laugh at least a little. No? Well, I tried.)

Banana and Mango Salad
Serves 1

1 mango, diced
1 banana, sliced (oh a rhyme!)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
dash of allspice
agave nectar, for drizzling

Combine all the ingredients and toss to mix. Eat gleefully! :)


Linked at Thursday's Treasures.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Library Addiction

Ok I have something to admit. I have an addiction to books.

Whew. That wasn't as bad as I was expecting. Ok, here's the lowdown on my book problem.

I love checking books out from the library. I love looking through them all and reading them and then returning them (usually late because I have a problem finishing all of them by the time they are due). The King County Library system has gotten plenty of dinero out of me over the years.

I used to have a problem where if I saw a cookbook I liked, I would buy it. Hence my 178 cookbooks. Now, I can simply put it on my wishlist and hope that someone will buy it for me for Christmas or my birthday (hint hint!).

But all those other books, they are just waiting for me to read them! I have huge lists of books I want to read, but those lists get put aside when I find other books to read.

To give you a scope of my issue, on average I will have around 50 books checked out at once. There was one point when I had my library card maxed out at 100 books checked out and had to resort to using my mom's card. I haven't had to do that since, but let me tell you, I've been tempted.

Does anyone else have a book addiction like I do? Or am I just the crazy one? :)

In case you were wondering about the pictures, Seasonal Kitchen is my favorite cookbook, hands down and What I Eat is a book I just finished and highly recommend to everyone!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Salmon and Asparagus Salad

Are you ready for a barrage of asparagus recipes? I've been cooking lots of asparagus since they came in season here in Washington. Growing up, I never really liked asparagus because whenever my mom would cook it, it would be slightly mushy and olive green. Not that appetizing to a 5 or 10 year old. (Sorry, mom. Love you!)

Now that I cook my own asparagus, I like to leave them just a little bit crunchy and bright green. Blanching is a great way to do that. Simply boil the asparagus in some water for a few minutes, then shock them with an ice water bath. It will keep the green and they will still be crispy (no mush!)

The inspiration for this salad was a recipe from Michele Cranston's Seasonal Kitchen. The first time I made this recipe, I was living in a dorm room and used my plastic microwave steamer to cook the asparagus. I fell in love with it, and have made it almost every year since. The original recipe calls for bocconcini, or baby mozzarella, which I substituted with sheep's milk feta. The avocado balances out the salty salmon and feta perfectly. Drizzle a little white wine vinaigrette, and you have yourself one delicious salad!

Salmon and Asparagus Salad with Avocado and Feta
adapted from Seasonal Kitchen by Michele Cranston
Serves 4

1 lb. smoked salmon
1 bunch asparagus, ends snapped off
1 avocado, sliced
lettuce greens
sheep's milk feta
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
6 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Cook asparagus for 4-5 minutes, then shock in an ice water bath. Drain and set aside.
2. Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Layer salmon pieces, asparagus spears, avocado sliced and feta chunks over lettuce. Drizzle generously with dressing.


Linked at Whole Foods Wednesdays.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Random Thoughts

I would rather spend money now on good, clean food than pay for it later with higher health costs.

Life is better lived to the fullest now than to spend your life thinking about the should-of dones.  Don't waste another second wishing your life could change. Deciding to make a change is the first step.

Choose to see the joy out of everyday. Try not to dwell on the sad and gloomy. Remember happy times when you feel blue.

 And my personal favorite quote:

Misery is optional; choose happiness!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Roast Beef and Goat Cheese Sandwich with Pesto

These sandwiches came almost out of necessity. I offered to bring sandwiches for our ski day, and asked my dad and brother what they liked. I couldn't get a straight answer out of them, so I fudged with whatever sounded good. As I was wandering around the store, I spotted some sliced roast beef with slices of Havarti next to each other in the deli case. I quickly picked some up, then made my way to the lettuce section to pick out some greens. A container of red pepper pesto caught my eye and stealthily made its way into my shopping basket. Same thing happened with a round of goat cheese. Crazy how those things happen, huh?

Anyways, I thought the sandwiches were a hit. A few weeks later, I made the same sandwich, but used basil pesto instead of red pepper and discovered another great sandwich. Feel free to sub in some Havarti for the goat cheese. It's delicious either way!

And you know what, I think I'm going to have this for lunch today. YUM!

Roast Beef and Goat Cheese Sandwiches with Pesto
Makes 4 Sandwiches

8 slices whole wheat bread
1 lb sliced roast beef
4 oz goat cheese, plain or herbed
1 container of basil or red pepper pesto
lettuce greens
snow peas, optional

1. Toast bread, if desired. Spread 1 oz. of goat cheese on a slice of bread. Spread some pesto on another slice. Layer a quarter of the roast beef on the goat cheese side, add some lettuce greens, then top with snow peas, if using. Put pesto slice on top and cut any which way you please.
2. Repeat for remaining sandwiches.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Pot Stickers with My Favorite Dipping Sauce

I love pot stickers. They are one of my favorite comfort foods and I love spending time making them on a weekend. I remember during my teens, me and my mom would be in the kitchen for hours making a ton of pot stickers to freeze and reheat for a snack or meal.

Nowadays, I don't take the time to make the pot stickers very often, so I usually resort to store bought ones. My favorite are the chicken and veggie pot stickers made by Ling Ling. I really don't like their sauce, so I usually make my own. It's the same recipe I've been making for years, and typically use as a base for all my stir fries.

Feel free to add in any extras to make it your own sauce. Try ginger, minced garlic, chives,  hoisin sauce, sriracha, or anything you can think of!

Pot Stickers with My Favorite Dipping Sauce
Serves 2

12 pot stickers (6 each)
vegetable oil
4 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp sesame oil

1. Heat 2 tbsp veggie oil in a large saute pan over med-high heat. Add pot stickers and brown on bottom for 3-4 minutes. Brown on one side for 2-3 minutes, then on the other. 
2. Add 1/4 c. water to pan and cover quickly with a lid. Turn heat to med-low and let steam for 5-7 minutes until pot stickers are cooked through.
3. Whisk remaining ingredients together for sauce. Serve with cooked pot stickers.


feed my family friday

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Artichoke and Lima Bean Stew with Chicken

The inspiration for this dish came from a fava bean and chicken stew I saw in one of my Mediterranean cookbooks. I really wanted to make the stew, but didn't have any so I substituted lima beans. I thought it needed some more veggies, so I added in a few marinated artichoke hearts and a can of diced tomatoes, both things I just happened to have on hand. The stew came out really well and it has now become one of my favorite, easy, go-to meals when I want something hearty with as little prep as possible.

For a vegetarian version, you can leave out the chicken, reduce simmering time to 10 minutes and serve over quinoa for a complete, healthy meal.

Artichoke and Lima Bean Stew 
Serves 4

4 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
olive oil
1/2 jar artichoke hearts, marinated in olive oil and spices
1 c. frozen lima beans
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained (I like using the fire roasted ones)
Salt and pepper

1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Brown chicken thighs, skin side down, about 5-7 minutes until golden. Flip and brown for another 5 minutes. Remove from pan.
2. Add artichoke hearts, lima beans and tomatoes to pan. Pour in about 2 tbsp of the artichoke marinade. Put chicken thighs, skin side up, on top of veggies. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes, until a thermometer reads 150 F for the chicken.
3. Serve with some baguette slices to mop up the juices.


Linked at Beyond the Peel

Monday, May 7, 2012

Steak with Cilantro Lime Sauce

I have been craving steak for a while. A nice, thick juicy steak. And so I had one.

The problem was, I wanted a new sauce. Ok, I love my Vidalia Onion and Fig Sauce from Stonewall Kitchen, but I eat it every single time with steak. I wanted something new. (Someone asked what is new? And what did you tell them? I told them I would ask!... Sorry, Ratatouille moment!)

I had been reading about chimichurri, an Argentinian sauce made from parsley, garlic and olive oil, along with other seasonings. I had a bunch of cilantro waiting to be used up, so I made a cilantro version of chimichurri, using only garlic and olive oil. It was fantastic! I increased the drama by adding some lime zest and a squeeze of lime juice. This really packed a flavor punch and voila! My sauce was ready for eating.

This recipe is a great way to use up leftover cilantro, which I almost always have. It comes together in a jiffy and is incredibly delicious. Try it over some steak tonight!

Steak with Cilantro Lime Sauce
Serves 4

2 steaks, your favorite cut
1 large handful cilantro
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 lime, zested and 1/2 juiced
olive oil

1. In a food processor, chop cilantro and garlic clove until finely minced. Add in lime zest and juice and enough olive oil to make a thick, runny paste. Set aside to let flavors meld.
2. Cook steak on the barbie or on a grill pan until done as you like it. Remove from grill and spritz steaks with the other lime half. Serve with cilantro lime sauce over the steaks.


Linked up at Thursday Treasures.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Scallop, Bacon and Corn Relish on Toasted Baguette Slices

Who doesn't love bacon wrapped scallops? I sure do. The creaminess of the scallop pairs so well with the slightly crispy bacon wrapped around it. Is there any way that you can improve this classic appetizer?

I was wandering around the store, gathering the supplies for some bacon wrapped scallops when I came to the seafood counter. I asked the meat guy if he could get me 8 scallops, the biggest ones he could find. He started fishing through the bowl of scallops, and all he was finding were flattened, half-sized scallop chunks. I was determined to make bacon wrapped scallops (even though they had some in the case, which I suspect held the best scallops from the delivery), so I collected some peppered bacon and was wandering around some more when a thought popped in my head.

What if I dice the scallops and the bacon and add some corn to make a relish? I have no idea where the thought came from, but by golly I was going to try it. I grabbed me some frozen corn and headed out the door.

And to tell you the truth, it was delicious! The sweetness of the corn balanced out the normal saltiness of the bacon in ways that I cannot even describe. Trust me, you must try this appetizer for your next party.

Scallop, Bacon and Corn Relish on Toasted Baguette Slices
Makes 12 appetizers

1/4 lb. scallop pieces, chopped
2 slices of bacon, chopped
1/2 c. frozen corn, thawed
1 baguette, sliced
chives, chopped

1. Preheat broiler. Add baguette slices and toast 1-2 minutes until brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
2. Heat a medium saute pan over medium heat. Cook bacon 3-4 minutes to desired crispiness. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel. Add scallops and cook 1-2 minutes until they go from translucent to white. Remove from pan and place on same paper towel. Add corn to saute pan and cook for 1 min to heat.
3. Add corn, bacon and scallops to a bowl and toss to mix. Pile on top of each baguette slice, or serve in the bowl with baguette slices on the side. Sprinkle with chives as a garnish.


Linked up at Thursdays Treasures.

Friday, May 4, 2012

I love the rain; I hate the rain.

Today is one of those days where I hate the rain.

You think I would be used to it, living in Seattle for 23 years. But no, I don't love it like you think I would.

Mikaela Dunn

Yes, I know the difference between a shower, a drizzle, and a mist. I coordinate my schedule by the rain. Traffic can be dictated by the rain. I've learned to live with those facts, but yet, today I hate the rain.

Maybe because it's windy too and that is sending chills up my spine. Maybe because I'm tired and a tad bit cranky, so the rain is getting to me more than normal.

Living here in Seattle has it's perks. It's absolutely beautiful, we almost always have fresh smelling air, and we actually have 4 distinct seasons. There are mountains, trees, lakes, rivers, beaches all within a few minutes. And if you get tired of those, we have deserts and rainforests and oceans not too far away either.

I've learned to walk in the rain, run in the rain, ski in the rain, hike in the rain, basically do everything in the rain because it's here whether you like it or not.

Rain is kind of like the bad things in life. They are always going to be there, but you have to learn to live with them, or move to another place that doesn't have the bad things. But you can never escape it.

So I think today instead of hating the rain, I'm going to learn to love the rain. Again. And go heat up another cup of hot tea.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Popcorn: 4 Ways

I love popcorn. And so does my dog. She's a popcorn fanatic. Anytime she hears popcorn popping, she's there, waiting for some to spill so she can gobble it up.

Anyways, back to the popcorn. I used to be a big microwave popcorn gal. I didn't know there was any other way until I came across this post here. Michelle has a great post on how to make popcorn in a large stockpot and that is how I make it now.

The other day I was in an experimenting mood and I decided to try some new flavors on my popcorn. I came up with curry popcorn, cocoa popcorn and garlic rosemary popcorn. All three were delicious! Just follow Michelle's recipe and toss in the following flavorings:

Curry Popcorn

1 tbsp curry powder for 1 c. popcorn (unpopped)
1 tsp salt

Garlic Rosemary Popcorn

1 tbsp garlic salt
1 tsp crushed rosemary
2 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp salt


Cocoa Popcorn (for those who have a sweet tooth!)

2 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp powdered sugar

Mix the ingredients together, then toss with the popcorn.


Linked at Miz Helen's and Recipes for my Boys

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