Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Canning Crazy!

If you've noticed, I've been a bit MIA over the past 10 days or so because I have been a kitchen maniac.  The canner came out a few days ago, and hasn't gone back in its home since.

It all started when I found a little farmer's market in town last week.  The guy was selling organic Colorado apples, and I bought a 15 pound box for cheap!  So I set out to make homemade apple sauce.  Then some of the apple sauce became apple butter.  Then, since the canner was out, I decided to attack the BOX of onions that I harvested from our garden....and those got pickled.  Then I had a ton of pickling liquid left over, so I made pickled cauliflower and pickles.  That's one heck of a domino effect, ya think?

The fruits of my labor yielded:

4 quart jars of home made apple sauce
4 half pint jars of home made apple butter
10 half pint jars of pickled onions
4 pint jars of pickled cauliflower
5 quart jars of dill pickles
2 pint jars of sweet pickles

(from left to right: pickles, apple sauce, sweet pickles, cauliflower, apple butter, and pickled onions!)

I'm pooped!  Although, I might get back at it again and can some home made marinara sauce sometime soon :)

Does all this fruiting of labor make my Halloween Costume any more appropriate:

Haha, I rule (at least I think so)!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lunch for One

I watched an episode of Giada the other day where she made this baked "salad" that was a combination of Caprese and Panzanella salads.

A Caprese salad is a classic salad of fresh mozzarella, sliced ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, olive oil and sometimes balsamic (or a balsamic reduction).  Panzanella is typically a grilled vegetable salad of tomatoes and squashes that also includes grilled bread mixed in.  Both are very delicious.  And very Italian :)

The bake Giada made was a large party sized thing in a tray, but I modified it to make a nice 4-5 point lunch for myself.  I used a mini loaf pan and the following ingredients:

two small tomoatoes or four slices of tomato about 1/2" thick
one clove of garlic minced
one ounce of fresh mozzarella sliced (sliced to fit the pan)
one-two tablespoons olive oil
two fresh basil leaves
one piece whole wheat bread
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Spray the mini loaf pan with cooking spray, place the four slices of tomatoes in the bottom and pour about a tablespoon of balsamic over then sprinkle with salt and pepper and half the minced garlic. Place the slice of mozzarella on top and add the rest of the garlic and the basil (chopped).  Cut the bread to just fit the top of whatever pan you're using, and place it on top of the cheese.  Drizzle liberally with olive oil, so it gets nice and crusty.

Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melty and the bread is toasty.


Carefully remove from the pan and enjoy!  It might be juicy under there, so watch out!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pot, Stock, and a Hell Roaring Time

The final adventure of Nicole's visit included a hike via the Hell Roaring trail to a great vista along a 12,500 ft ridge.  Its called the Hell Roaring trail because in June during peak runoff, the water rages through the area to a deafening tone, its hell roaring.  Of course, it being October, the snow is just starting to fall.  So we didn't have too much raging water, but we did have fresh snow! 

The snow we've had up high over the past week made it an interesting hike with some post holing near the top, but it was all worth it to take in this:


Maybe Jim and I even got our Christmas card photo, haha!


The evening ended with a soak in the Penny Hot Springs; a little known spot that Jim and I hadn't yet discovered, but we're now excited to know that we have free hot springs only 20 minutes away!


In honor of this snowy hike, I thought I'd post a great soup recipe.  We didn't eat this after our hike; we went out and gorged on some awesome BBQ, but I've been wanting to share this recipe, and what better time to do it than on a crisp fall day!

Soni's Potato Soup

Soni is my mom, and she is known for making some excellent soups.  I made this potato soup with potatoes that I dug up out of the garden myself that very morning and an onion from the same origin.  I think it tasted a little bit better just because of that.

5 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes (unpeeled if they are small or the peel is thin)
1 quart chicken stock plus water as needed
1 onion diced
3 tbs butter
1-1/2 cups milk (I used fat free)
2 tbsp corn starch plus 2 tbsp more milk
1 head garlic (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Take the head of garlic, wrap it in foil and stick in a hot oven.  Let it roast until the cloves are soft and mushy (this is optional).  Cube the potatoes and place them in a pot with the diced onion.  I used a 6 quart soup pot.  Add in the chicken broth and top off with water (if the chicken stock isn't enough) JUST to cover the potatoes.  You want them to barely be covered with the liquid.  Add a few pinches of salt and bring the potatoes to a boil.  Boil for 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are just fork tender.  You don't want them to be as soft as you would for mashing.

Turn the heat down to a simmer and stop the boil.  Add the milk, butter, and more salt and pepper to taste.  If you are adding the roasted garlic, squeeze the soft cloves out of the head and add them at this time also.  Let simmer for 15 minutes or so, and if it needs to be thicker, add the slurry of corn starch and flour.  Don't over do it with this though.  Continue to simmer for at least another 15 minutes, stirring occassionally.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. 

At this point, the soup is done but I added one more step.  I took my emmersion blender and ran it through the soup for just a few turns.  It was just enough to thicken the soup by blending up some of the potatoes, but I didn't mash up all the potatoes.  The majority of them were still in their chunky form.

Serve with some grated cheddar cheese and some bacon crumbles if desired.

I made a ton of this soup.  Enough to give Jim lunch and have two full meals left over with four meals in the freezer and a full meal given to the neighbors.  It was a big compliment when Sally, our neighbor, asked how much cream was in the soup.  I consider this a pretty healthy recipe, so her thinking there was so much cream in there meant it didn't taste like it!  Go me!

Picture coming soon!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hiking Among Snowy Peaks

My friend Nicole is visiting from Boston this week, and so far we've had a fun few days of relxing and adventure.

Friday night was the STYX concert at the Belly Up here in Aspen.  The Belly Up is a small venue with a maximum of about 400 ticket holders, so we got to see an awesome classic band from about 25 feet away!

The encore performance - Renegade!

video



Yesterday, my friend Jamie joined us and we headed to the Maroon Bells, which is one of the most popular areas for tourists here in Aspen.  With a fresh coating of snow on the peaks surrounding Aspen, the drive up and our hike to Crater lake was nothing short of beautiful. 

The only thing that would have made the views better was a blue sky, but the clouds overhead welcomed us with a few little snow showers, so I'm not complaining.


That's me at the start of the hike at Maroon Lake with the Maroon Bells behind me.  This area has several 14-ers (a peak that has a summit at 14,000 or above), which are extremely difficult to summit.  Most require extreme mountaineering techniques and a lot of equipment like harnesses and ice climbing gear. 

 The Maroon Bells are named for their bell-like shape and their very red color of soil and stone, which is hard to see here with their fresh coating of snow. 



Like I said, they're pretty gnarly to climb, and this past summer the papers had a few reports of fatalities up there.  We took a somewhat short and easy hike to Crater Lake, which is at the base of the Bells.  We even got to enjoy a little snow shower while we were sitting around the lake.


We finished off the day with some pub grub and beers at the Aspen Brewing Company!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Stuffed Mushrooms

I was inspired one day while walking through the produce department of the grocery store when I saw their pre-packaged stuffed portabello mushrooms.  I decided to whip up a delicious and filling version of it myself.  I've done it twice now and have learned a few things, so I'll tell you how I made them and then offer some addtional suggestions.

Its basically one mushroom per person, so here's for two:
- 2 large portabello mushrooms, stems removed
- 2 tbsp italian dressing
- 1/2 cup low fat ricotta cheese
- 2 wedges laughing cow light garlic and herb
- grated parm
- 2 slices canadian bacon
- 2 cups baby spinach
Olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Take the mushrooms and rub them with the italian dressing and set aside.  In a bowl, mix the ricotta, laughing cow, and parmesan cheese together.

In a skillet, heat up olive oil and wilt the spinach.  Dice up the canadian bacon and throw it in the skillet with the spinach to heat through and brown a little.  Take this mixture and mix it with the cheese mix.

Salt and pepper the mushrooms and put them gill side down on a medium-high grill (you could also do this under the broiler).  Grill them for about 3-4 minutes until the gills turn brown.  Flip the mushroom so that the gills are up and fill each with half the mixture.  Make sure the mushrooms aren't over a super high flame and close the grill.  Let the mushrooms cook for aout 4-5 minutes until the mushroom is soft and dark on the bottom and the filling is heated through. 

This goes great with a little cous cous on the side.  Also, I love these just as is but Jim thinks they need a little more texture and something to cut the creaminess of the cheese, so next time I make them, I think I will add some bread crumbs to the mixture before putting it on the mushrooms.  I guess you could also just sprinkle breadcrumbs on top and let them get crunchy...oo that's a good idea!

Really the sky is the limit with what you can stuff these things with.  Give it a shot with your favorite ingredients and let me know how it comes out!

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Backpacking Adventure!

There is a very popular backpacking trail that starts right outside of Aspen, which ascends to the Conundrum Hot Springs.  Its one of the most popular hikes in the state, and people come from all over the country for this trip.  Jim and I are lucky to live right near the start of this trail, and its a wonder neither of us had been up there previously.  That said, it was something really cool to share together :)


We set out on the trail around 10 am on Sunday morning with the shock of pulling into a tiny parking lot jammed with over 40 cars.  We've heard rumors that the springs can get crowded on weekends, but hopeful that starting on Sunday would behoove us, we set out loaded packs mounted.  We planned to possibly stay until Tuesday morning because Jim didn't have to be at work until noon.  As we hiked our way along the 9 mile trail, we started passing a steady stream of people leaving the springs.  Jim and I estimated we saw about 70 people leaving while we were hiking up, so we were pleasantly surpised when we started hearing from the end of the neverending line of people that only a few couples remained in the camps.  I have no idea how anyone would enjoy being one of 70 people up there!! 

Our hike up was fairly flat for the majority and then got steeper at the end.  We went past a beautiful waterfall that I would have loved to get close to.


We got to camp around 5 pm and as promised found out that only four other people were around.  We picked camp site number 13, which came highly recommended by a friend and didn't disappoint. 


It offered privacy and close proximity to the main pool, which he hit promptly after setting up the tent.



Three hours later, we finally drug ourselves out into the freezing cold to retreat to the camp, finish setting up, eat dinner, and hit the sack.   Our original plan for Monday was to possibly hike to the top of Castle Peak and Conundrum Peak which are both 14,000+ in elevation.


After realizing how long it took to get up to the pools, we calculated we'd have to get up around 5am, pack up and leave before the sun was up to get down in time for Jim to go to work, so we decided to come back Monday.  This turned out to be a good idea, because as we were deparing, it started to spit snow.

As we hiked back to the car, the sun came in and out, and we only passed 2 couples hiking in, which meant it would have been anoter quiet evening in the pools.  It looked fairly nasty as we looked back, but then it cleared up beautifully, so I hope they had  a nice evening. 

All in all it was a great trip for Jim and I.  We travel really well together, even though I'm a turtle in comparison (or my analogy of Jim = Energizer Bunny and Angie = Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man), and we really enjoyed this trip.  If you ever have a chance to go to Aspen and take this trip...do it!  And make sure you let me know you're in town :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Baking Fool

Tania and I are having a pizza party at her house tonight to invite some clients and potential acquaintence type potential clients, and we're making homemade pizza in her wood fired brick oven (that she built herself, ha).  The pizza comes out sooo good from that thing.  Anyway, I was put in charge of dessert!

I made three things:

Apple Crisp



Iced Pumpkin Cookies






Low Fat Gluten Free Brownies (Tania is gluten intolerant)

The low fat brownies are actually really good, and they aren't gluten free specific.  The original recipe uses regular flour, but I used gluten free for Tania.

Here's the recipe:

3T butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

or 1T butter
2oz square baker's chocolate

Melt combination of choice above and add:
1 cup sugar
1 egg + 1 egg white
2 tsp vanilla
3T (one small baby food jar) prune puree

Mix Dry Ingredients:
1/2 cup flour (substitute gluten free but add about 2T extra)
2T cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda

Combine all ingredients and pour into 8x8 baking pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  You can also add walnuts if you'd like.  I calculated the points for these brownies without the nuts, and its 3 points!  They're REALLY good brownies for 3 points.  Taste super fudgey and not fat free...so its a good option if you don't have a box of no pudge :)

Yum!:



The pumpkin cookies were a HUGE hit, so I'll post the recipe for those tomorrow.  Despite the fact that they are in no way waist friendly, they are a nice festive treat to take to a fall party.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pumpkin!

I've heard some rumors that the Great Pumpkin shortage is starting to wane, and pumpkin is slowly becoming available in stores again.  Out here in the great wild west, we haven't been so lucky, so I bought a CASE of pumpkin online about a week ago.  It arrived a few days ago, and the cans are all nicely stacked in my canning storage area.  I've already made pumpkin spice muffins, and this morning I made pumpkin waffles!

I saw a recipe for these in the October issue of Food Network Magazine, and I decided I had to try them.  I set out to make them for breakfast this morning, and then realized I was missing one ingredient.  So I got on my trusty Weight Watchers site and found a recipe there - one that I'm sure was much more figure friendly - which I could make entirely from my pantry.

Here's the recipe directly from WW:
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 egg
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup pumpkin
1/4 cup brown sugar
1-1/4 cup buttermilk

Mix the first six (dry) ingredients, then mix the remaining (wet) ingredients and then combine and whisk until just mixed and cook in waffle iron.

I made a few variations to this recipe.
I swapped 1/4 cup of the all purpose flour for whole wheat
I added 1/8 tsp ground ginger

I tasted the batter and it seemed like it wasn't pumpkin-y enough, so I added another 1/4 cup of pumpkin and 1 tsp of vanilla also.  I think my version is better, and the changes didn't increase the points value.  If anything, I think adding the whole wheat flour made them more filling.

I have a four waffle style iron, where it makes four connected squares.  This made four full squares (16 individual waffles), of which I ate three with a little light butter and syrup and was full.


 Delish!

On another note, I am excited that tomorrow is my first fit test since starting the INSANITY workouts.  I took it at the beginning, and its been two weeks, so I am excited to see the measurable amount of progress that's been made.

Today, I am going to enjoy my insanity day off with a bike ride!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Comments have been fixed...

Apparently there was an issue with posting comments, which explains why I myself was having issues posting comments to respond to people, lol.  I believe I have fixed this problem, so if you try to post a comment and it doesn't work, please email me.

For some reason, it was set so that only registered users could post, but I modified that option...so hopefully you can all tell me how wonderful I am now :-D

Green Monsters...

And no, I don't mean that big wall at Fenway!

In case you are out of the know, the Green Monster smoothie is ALL the rage right now.  I finally bought myself a Magic Bullet Blender, so I got to try my first Green Monster this morning.  According to:  greenmonstermovement.com, the basic Green Monster is made as such:

2 cups of spinach
1 cup milk (cow, almond, soy, whatever you prefer)
1 banana
1 cup frozen strawberries

A lot of people also add Flax Seed in, so I am going to buy some and try that.

Whirl it all around in your blender until you have a very green and very frothy drink that contains 2 fruit servings, two veggie servings, and dairy!

I made the traditional Green Monster, as above, and it was really good.  I think I was a little heavy handed with the spinach and added more than two cups though because it was a hair grassy tasting.  Otherwise, it tasted like a strawberry banana smoothie, but had  a lot more volume:


Yes, I know it looks a little like baby food.  Or maybe baby puke?  But trust me, they're really good and filling.  I got about 2/3 the way through and decided to do Insanity and have the rest as my refuel afterwards.

I think tomorrow I will try and do some peaches in there....then who knows, the possibilities are endless!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Back to normal

I think I'm finally recovered from the hike from Hell. I took Monday off because my legs were extremely sore, and then Tuesday I got back to it with the INSANITY. I took it easy that day, since of course the schedule called for the plometric workout, which makes me feel like a mexican jumping bean. Yesterday's workout, Pure Cardio, was easier than last week, and I felt pretty normal.

Also, I'm not sure if it was the monster hike or the switch to the Wendie version of WW, but I had a great loss this week, finally breaking a 6+ months stand off with the scale. Seeing a 2.6 lb change always brings a smile on my face, and with one week of Wendie under my belt, I am ready for a second week of it with hopefully equal results.

For dinner last night, I made the WW recipe for Moo Shu Beef Lettuce Cups. I forgot to take a photo, so I swiped the stock photo from WW, but luckily, this is actually what they look like:



Here's the recipe:

1 pound uncooked lean ground beef (with 7% fat)
1 cup yellow onions thinly sliced
2 Tbsp fresh ginger root minced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 cups bok choy, thinly sliced
1 medium sweet red pepper, thinly sliced
2 cups mushrooms (about 10 mushrooms; I used crimini)
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
8 leaf bibb lettuce

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set pan over medium-high heat. Add beef, onion, ginger and garlic; cook until beef is browned and onion is soft, breaking up meat as it cooks. This takes about 5-7 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and cook for 1-2 minutes to give them a head start. Then ads bok choy, pepper, and soy sauce; cook, stirring occasionally, until bok choy is wilted and pepper is tender-crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes.

I deviated from the WW version in adding the mushrooms a little earlier than the rest of the veggies. I also added a squirt of srirach and a tiny (and I mean TINY) blob of that asian garlic chili paste. That stuff is HOT so be careful. It is good with only the soy sauce but it needed something else.

I served with extra soy sauce and sriracha and also some cooked brown rice. Jim LOVED them, and I was shocked at how filling it was. A serving size of this is only 4 points, and its two lettuce leaves with 1/2 cup of mix in EACH. I was full after eating three lettuce cups with about 1/4 cup in each, so its a great, filling, low point yet YUMMY dinner!

Monday, September 20, 2010

My INSANITY Day off...

HAHHAHA. Yeah right. According to my INSANITY Calendar, Sunday is my day off. Jim and I both had the day off from work, and since the leaves are peaking right now we decided to go for a hike. We decided to hike Mount Elbert, which is Colorado's highest peak at almost 14,500 feet above sea level. Its also the second highest Peak on the continental U.S. We figured the view from up there would be fantastic.

Well, let me tell you that my INSANITY day off ended up being the most INSANE of them all.

We left the house around 7 because you have to get an early start when hiking 14ers because it usually takes 8+ hours round trip. Luckily, this time of year we don't have to worry about afternoon storms, but the sun goes down earlier. We took a route that is closest to Aspen, but isn't frequently used. We didn't see a single other person the entire day, and as you'll soon find out...the entire day meant the ENTIRE day.

We have a 14er book, which details all routes to hike 14ers, so we used it to get to the trailhead. Too bad the book sucked for getting to the trail head because we couldn't find the road it was talking about. So we parked and bushwhacked around for like 2 hours before we finally found the trail. Luckily the views were good anyway:



At this point, we figured we'd just go for awhile and then turn back because it was too late to start the 10-ish hour hike. About an hour into the hike, I realized that my legs were WAY more fatigued from the INSANITY work outs than I expected them to be. We kept going, but it was slow moving. We saw some great sights. Probably 10+ other 14ers, great foliage, waterfalls, etc. We got above tree line to about 13,000 feet after about 3.5 hours of hiking. I realized at this point, I was out of water. Dont' you think that would have been a good time to turn around? Except that I figured we were that far, we might as well keep going.

And then we hit the ROCK FIELDS. I hate rocks. We spent 2 hours climbing over rocks and got to the final horribly gnarly ascent to the final ridge to the summit. At this point we were about 3/4 mile from the top, but we looked around and the light was about to hit the ridge, so we had to turn around. That last 3/4 mile would probably have taken an hour and a half anyway. See:



Good thing we turned around when we did because we got out of the rock fields right when the final light left the sky. We had ONE headlamp to share, and spent the final 2 hours of hiking out sharing it. That final two hours probably would have taken 1 hour if we both had headlamps...or if it was light out. My legs were also like jello by this time, and I just broke down in tears. I definitely pushed myself too far, but Jim was super supportive about it.

We finally got back to the car TWELVE hours after we left it. TWELVE hours of hiking. This is ridiculous.

The one victory for the day is this: I checked my heart rate monitor and it read 5,333. Yes, 53 activity points friends. Which means I don't feel one bit guilty for eating an entire box of 7-11 mozzarella sticks when we got home :)

Here are some photos to enjoy!


Changing Aspens along the drive up Independence Pass


An old mining building left from the "Last Chance Mine"


Me hiking!



It is pretty cool to be around 13,000 feet at sundown :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Insanity Day 5...and Balloons!

Today's INSANITY workout was the same as Day 1 (Tuesday), and I am happy to report that I actually noticed a measurable (albeit small) change in my ability. I noticed that I could sustain the elements of the circuit longer and needed fewer breaks. After less than a week, its nice to see such fast progress!

This weekend is the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Aspen and Snowmass. They have races and other cool stuff, which are unfortunately held pretty early in the morning. However, this evening around dusk they have this thing called "night glow" where all the balloons are tethered in field, but they fire. And as the sun goes down they light up the place. I'm going to go check it out and take some pictures, so I will report back later!

Happy Saturday!

Friday, September 17, 2010

INSANITY Day 4....and Pizza dough!

You can make pizza dough in the bread maker - WHO KNEW!?

Since I am lacking a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, and I am just too lazy to kneed that crap by hand, I figured I'd give it a shot. I don't like buying bread dough, and I finally used up the last of the good stuff that Tania and I had made, so here I go.

Check it out:



I found out its easy to store dough in the freezer too. Just put it in a freezer container that is sprayed with cooking spray. At least one day before you want to use it, take it out and put it in the fridge to thaw completely, and then when you're ready to make pizza, take it out of the fridge and set it on the counter for at least an hour. You want dough to be at room temperature so you can "roll" it out properly. If its too cold, its too elastic!

I topped it with a tiny bit of sauce, a few thinly sliced tomatoes, some thin slices of fresh mozzarella, and a little fresh basil. Its like my modified version of a Margherita Pizza...and of course made on the pizza stone. Can't do home cooked cripsy crust without it! Pizza my way:



I will say, however, that this dough is not nearly as good as the dough I previously used that was made according to Tania's recipe. It is posted on an older blog post, so I highly recommend that recipe of this one!

I think I deserve this pizza after today's Insanity workout, which was HELL ON EARTH: PURE Cardio. The name itself should make you shudder. Or maybe not since you haven't done the workout but one word: BRU-TAL. Most of the other work outs have periodic 30 second water breaks to help bring your heart rate down. Noooooot pure cardio. Eight gazillion squats, power jacks, jumping jacks, pushups and other nonsense. So remind me again why I also decided to go for a bike ride when I got home.

A friend of mine from back in Boston sent me this like today: http://toughmudder.com/

She is trying to convince me to go back East in May 2011 to participate in this ridiculousness with her in Stowe, VT. Why, I ask you, WHY....am I actually considering it. I'm excited to talk to Jim about the feasibility of this little project. While it looks absolutely just stupid, I think it would be fun and challenging....annnnnd I will happily go use my altitude living to my advantage at sea level. Hehe.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Stuffed Zukes

I totally wussed out of my bike ride this evening. I just felt like after a recovery day of INSANITY it would be nice to just leave it at that. And by the time I got home, it would have been to dark at the end of my ride. That sounds like a good excuse, huh?

For dinner tonight, Jim and I had wild caught salmon. I always love the time of year when wild caught salmon is not only available, but also on sale! Because of increased levels of mercury and unfriendly farm conditions, we do not buy farm raised salmon. The salmon was cooked in little foil pouches with lemon, garlic, shallot, and a little olive oil, yum!

To go along with the salmon, I made stuffed zucchini for the first time ever! I have been craving zucchini fries (the WW version - the recipe is awesome, try it!), but stupid me picked up the squash at the store forgetting I had been craving said fries...and I have no panko. So I decided to use the pantry and give stuffed zucchini a shot! I was tempted to use some of the squash from the garden, but they're still a hair on the small side. So using my seemingly neverending pantry, I made this:

Angie's Bloated Squash:
2 medium zucchini halved lengthwise
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely minced onions
2 large cloves garlic
1 eggs beaten
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1-2 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
1/2 teaspoon salt shopping list
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper shopping list
1/4 -1/2 cup plain bread crumbs

Scoop out inside of zucchini. Chop scooped zucchini into bits and cook in oil with onions and garlic until onions are soft. Combine sautéed ingredients with tomatoes cheese, herbs, eggs, salt and pepper. Add in about 2 Tablespoons of the breadcrumbs to the stuffing mixture.

Lightly salt and pepper each zucchini half. Fill each zucchini with mixture and dust (generously if you're me) with breadcrumbs and some extra parm cheese.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes in a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.



They came out really good, and Jim really enjoyed them which was great considering the consistency of eggplant and soggy squash like things dont' jive with him. The zucchini stayed pretty firm, but slightly soft, and the stuffing was crunchy on top. I think it was a good combo. Let me know how yours comes out!

New Look! (and INSANITY Day 3)

So the blog got a makeover today. I also decided to finally change the name, so that an unsuspecting vegetarian didn't come around and become offended by my clearly NOT vegetarian content heh heh....

Today was a good INSANITY day. Want to know why? It was CARDIO RECOVERY Day!!! Whoo hoo...this basically means I sweat about 1/2 as much (which is still more than on any other given day), and it largely resembled a power yoga work out. So not much cardio, but lots of strength and stretching. I feel rejuvenated and ready to hop on the bike tonight....I wonder if that's a bad idea? I would like to walk tomorrow :)

There is this dude playing music on the pedestrian plaza outside the gallery who just really needs to be put out of his misery. Or maybe I need to be put of my misery? He's not that bad, but he's not that good either...and after hearing him play at least twice a week ALLLLL summer, my ears would like a rest.

Cheer folks. Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Insanity Day 2....and Buff Chicken Pasta

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could actually GET out of bed this morning, and I wasn't as sore as I expected to be. Today was Day 2 of Insanity, and it was just as brutal as yesterday but at least I did it all. I'm hoping that by tomorrow the initial shock of the intensity of these work outs will lessen enough for me to also get on my bike. Shitloads of APs (activity points for you non WWer folk) here I come (if my body can take both)!

So I've been reading all about this Buffalo Chicken Pasta that you make in the crockpot, and I am finally making it!

Here is the recipe:

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Pasta

4 Bonelss Skinless Chicken Breasts
1/2 cup Franks hot wing sauce
2 Tbsp white vinegar
2 Tbsp melted light margarine
1/8 tsp celery seeds
black pepper to taste
5 wedges Laughing Cow Light Creamy Herb and Garlic
4 cups cooked whole wheat pasta

Place the chicken breasts in a slow cooker. Combine the wing sauce, vinegar,
margarine, celery seeds and black pepper in a bowl and mix well. Pour over the
chicken and cook on low for about 6 hours. When chicken is cooked, cut it
up into small pieces (I actually shredded it with a fork) and add the 4 wedges of cheese, stirring until melted.
Cover and let it cook for awhile longer, just to let the cheese mix in well.
Serve over hot cooked pasta.

For the pasta I chose a rotini style because there's lots of little nooks to grab on to sauce and chickeny goodness.



I also topped Jim's with a dollop of homemade ranch and mine with a few blue cheese crumbles. It was awesome! Jim loved it. I thought there would be more sauce, but the chicken soaks most of it up, and I think if there were more sauce it would be too hot so it works perfectly. I served it wit some celery and dip. Yum!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

INSANITY Day 1

So today I started the Beachbody INSANITY Workout. I did the Fit Test yesterday, which is fairly hard itself. You do eight moves that are variations of squats, lunges, pushups, etc and count how many reps you can do in one minute. Then write that down on your chart, and you do the fit test every two weeks during the 60 days INSANITY work out so you can track your progress.

I stick the dvd in the player this morning, turn on the Heart Rate Monitor and go to work. I was sweating before the warm up was over. The workout involves max interval training, so you basically suck wind for like three minutes, get a 30 second water break, and then do it all over again. We did these level 1 drills from hell where you had to jump down into a plank, do four push-ups, then do kicks in the plank position, jump back up and then repeat. Mix that in with suicides, power squats, basketball jumps, and wicked fast jabs and I felt like I was back at volleyball bootcamp when we used to do 3-a-days! By the end of the work out, I had burned almost 400 calories during the 40 minutes (15 of which was stretching, warm-up and cool down), had a max heart rate over 170 and was drenched. It will be interesting to see if I can get out of bed tomorrow, since I could already feel it two hours after I was done.

I'm both scared and excited to continue the regime tomorrow...and hope I don't die in the next 60 days.

Also, as part of the workout, they recommend you take a before photo to compare the results at the end of the 60 days. So, I did that yesterday, and for fun I decided to update my "before and after" photo for my overall weight loss. So I'll share it here.



The picture on the left is exactly two years ago, the day I moved to Breckenridge. The picture on the right is yesterday...35 lbs gone. Hopefully INSANITY will help me toss the last 15. Can't wait to see the before and after INSANITY pictures...and then see the after insanity picture next to the true before pic. Go me!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sunday Dinner

I was in the garden yesterday evening helping to get it covered because it was going to be too close to freezing for comfort. While I was there, I dug up my some potatoes - my first from our garden. One little plant yielded about 8 good size potatoes. I'm guess over 2 lbs, and they'll provide for at least three meals I'm guessing - all from one little plant!



And they are gooooood. So this made me think of the following recipe, and the story that precedes it...because what's a recipe without a good story :)

My friend Jamie moved to Aspen. Jamie was my neighbor in Breck, and then we both needed to move and decided to become roommates. She was the best roomate I ever had, but she up and left me for a job in FLORIDA only a few months after we had moved in together. This was November of last year. As we all suspected, she ended up hating Florida. So while I was busy meeting Jim and moving to Aspen, she was busy trying to move back to Colorado.

How did I get so lucky that the job opportunity she was offered was also in Aspen!? And so about three months after me - in mid August - Jamie joined us here in the Roaring Fork Valley!

One Sunday afternoon, when she was staying with us while looking for an apartment, I decided to make a good Sunday feast. Now, Jamie is not a cook - although she's learning - and she seems to think this dinner was something out of Martha Stewart's kitchen!

The menu consisted of: Organic Roaster chicken with garlic, orange, and lemon; pan seared oven roasted rosemary farmer's market potatoes, and garlic broccoli and cauliflower straight from our garden!

I am a big proponent for organic/local eating, so the fact that I knew where all this food came from made me even prouder of the end result. The broccoli and cauliflower were easy - steamed with a couple cloves of smashed garlic, but I would like to share the "recipe" (we all know how I actually measure anything, haha!) for the potatoes.

Pan Seared Oven Roasted Farmer's Market Potatoes:

Start with about a pound of tiny new potatoes - I pick the smallest ones they have, wash them well.

In a large oven proof pan, heat up some olive oil and two cloves of minced garlic. Don't let the garlic burn. Also put in a sprig of rosemary and a sprig of thyme (no need to chop). Let the flavors meld with the olive oil and then add the potatoes and salt and pepper liberally. Let the potatoes brown lightly, tossing them around a few times, and then throw in a small pat of butter, cover with foil, and put the pan into the oven. The best part is, you can let them cook at the same temp as the chicken...and you can also swap out rosemary and thyme for whatever you prefer. I usually leave them in the over for at least 30-40 minutes or until a knife easily goes through, but the best part is you can leave them in as long as it takes everything else to cook because the potatoes don't seem to overcook in this method. I usually take them out a little earlier so they'll cool and then finish to taste with a little extra salt and pepper.

As for the chicken, you'll have to tune in to the next exciting episode for that recipe!

P.S. I thought I'd share a little excitement: I've sold over $25,000 in paintings in three days. And its the slow season! Go me, go me go me ;)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Expensive week

So as if getting a $2,000 surprise at the bike store wasn't enough, I went to the carfix on Thursday to get an oil change and walked out $447 later with an oil change, a new headlight...and four new tires.

I had a slow leak in one of my tires, and it turns out the whole thing was ready to blow out. One of the downfalls of owning an AWD car is that you can't buy one new tire, or it will throw the alignment out of wack. So I am the proud owner of a lot of new rubber. Sheesh.

Anyway, new topic. While I plan to talk about the mundane randomness that is my life on this blog, I still expect it will be mostly centered around food. Because, let's face it. Who doesn't love food? And we all know Angie LOVES food. One of the things I'd like to talk about today is my greater appreciation for pairing food and wine. Thanks to Jim, I am becoming increasingly cultured in the world of wine, and he has taught me a lot about how to appreciate the taste of wine with food and the taste of food with wine.

Sidebar: I talk alot about Jim, so I figured you would like to see him. Here is a photo!



The first important thing, is how does one even do this? I have been taught to take a big sip of wine and swish it around in your mouth a little, while having a bite of food (with a little of everything from the plate) ready on your fork. From here, you go with what I like to call the double double S: Swish, Swallow, Shove, Savor. Swish the wine, swallow the wine, shove the ready fork in your mouth, and savor the enhanced flavors of the food. I find it very interesting that food can make wine taste very different and vice versa, with wine bringing out hidden or masked flavors in food. Try it next time you are out for some find dining.

And since I am aiming to talk mostly about food, I am going to do something that is long overdue: give you a recipe!

I am lucky to work with an awesome artist and a big time foodie as well. Tania and I enjoy talking about our cooking, swapping recipes, and geeking out over our creations. We also got lucky and filmed a cooking show together with local TV personality Anton (www.cookingwithanton.com). The finished episode hasn't aired yet, but when it does I will be sure to share!

Anywho, Tania and I made pizza while we were on the show because Tania built her own brick pizza oven and is famous for her pizza parties. As the resident famed italian cook around, she and I whipped up some stunning concoctions, but they all started with on common thing: the crust.

So, here I share Tania's pizza dough recipe that I have adopted as my own. My next task is to find a variation of this recipe that is made with whole wheat flour, but for now enjoy!



Aspen Pizza Dough:

Yield: 6 pizza crusts

1134g high protein flour (such as bread flour)
715g water
20g salt
2.5 g yeast
Cooking oil

Using only about 70-percent of the flour, mix ingredients together until moist, then let rest for about 20 minutes. Add the remaining flour, knead thoroughly and let rest 10 minutes more. Form into 6 balls and coat with oil. Store in a plastic container and refrigerate. The dough will keep for a few days. Remove dough about 3 hours before use so it can warm and start to rise. Roll out to form a crust.

The key to this recipe is having a gram food scale. However, since Tania's recipe was featured in the summer edition of Edible Aspen, you can go here:

http://www.ediblecommunities.com/aspen/online-magazine/summer-2010/the-last-bite.htm

to view the converted recipe (and the article too!).

I also found out that, since this yields 6 doughs, they can easily be frozen. The trick is to defrost it fully in the fridge for 2-3 days before you want to use it. Also, make sure to coat the container with olive oil prior to storing the dough and freezing. Leave the fridge defrosted dough out on the counter for as much as a few hours before you work with it. You want a nice warm dough, or else it'll be too springy to roll out.

I recommend using a pizza stone and any of your favorite toppings from tomatoes, onions, and provolone, to pesto, pine nuts, and mozz. The hotter the oven, the crispier the crust. MMMM!

And since I discussed alcohol pairing, there's only one thing that goes with pizza....beer!

Boun Appetito!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Tale of Two Bikes

On Monday, I went to this bike shop in town that has a great reputation and we know some of the folks that work there: Ajax Bike and Sport. My goal for going there was to pick up a road bike to demo for the day. I have a mountain bike, but don't enjoy mountain biking and wanted to try my hand on a road bike before I purchased. Ajax was also one of the only shops who had a demo bike small enough (i.e. women specific) for me to try.

So I get on the Specialized Ruby Expert, a $3,400 bike. It was a 48 cm frame, which seemed to be what was best for my mini status. I rode it for about an hour and a half and fell in love with road biking. I noticed a little wrist pain and lower back discomfort but attributed that to having never ridden a road bike and needing to get used to the form. I get back to the shop, and the salesman checks me out briefly and agrees that this size bike is good for me. We go through the options, and I settle on a lower version of this bike, a Specialized Dolce Elite. This bike was on sale for $1,100...which I was very pleased with because road bikes are PRICEY.

I take the bike home, very excited, and Jim is very excited at my purchase as well. I schedule an appointment to go back on Wednesday for the bike fitting (road bikes need to be set up right so you don't hurt things), and I decided not to ride it until after the fitting because I also needed to get my clipless pedals from hell put on.

So I get there on Wednesday morning, and the fitting guy gets me up on the trainer on my bike, and the first thing he says is: "you look really tall." Meaning: "I think that frame is too small for you."

So he makes some adjustments, and I go ride around a little, and then he pulls a 51 cm frame bike out and has me ride that a little. The bigger one actually feels a little better, so he puts me on the trainer on it and thinks that its a closer fit. I don't really fit either of them perfectly, but the 51 is closer. At this point, I have been at the shop for like 2.5 hours going back and forth just to determine which frame size is better...and of course the ONLY 51 cm bike left in the whole shop is twice as much as the first I bought.

At this point, we get on the trainer and he's trying to get my angles right, and we can't get there. So we swap the seat out because I liked the other seat better, and that helps a little. Then he decides the handlebar stem needs to be shorter, so he gets that from the smaller bike and puts that on. Finally, after four...yes, FOUR... hours I finally have a bike that's as close to right for me as I can get, at a budget busting price of over $2k too.

Who knew I was like world's most impossible person to fit a bike to...not to mention that now I know I can't ever walk in a shop and just buy a bike. But that's ok because I'll never need to, since this is what I ended up with:



Full carbon frame, Shimano 105 components...the Specialized Ruby Comp.

I am badass on this thing!

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Blog Lives Again

So as I mentioned in my last post.....from like 5 months ago, I am no longer embracing a vegetarian lifestyle. I found that I was craving pieces of protein too often, and eating Morning Star patties and Boca burgers is not the avenue I wanted to go. So, with Jim's help (read: urging), I have incorporated meat back into my diet. I started with organic chicken breast and now also include organic chicken thighs and organic beef from local areas of Colorado. I stay away from grocery store pork because it is treated with sodium products to help the packaging, but pork from a butcher is a great treat.

And as if reincorporating meat into my diet wasn't extreme enough after living as a veggie, we are also now breeding rabbits. Let's rewind to explain this:

In June, I moved to Aspen. Jim and I also moved in together into a new place for both of us - an apartment above the garage on a little farm. The farm has chickens for eggs, meat chickens that were butchered last month, two goats who will be bread for meat, four dogs, and a huge garden. And Jax! Jim had been thinking about breeding rabbits and much to his chagrin found that our Landlord had been thinking the same thing, so our contribution to the farm is Angus, Kiki, and Collete - the bunnies. They are very cute, and playing with the three of them is about as far into the breeding operation as I dare go.


Kiwi when she was a baby (they are now about three months old)


Angus and Collete also as babies. Angus is HUGE now!

As an aside, when I moved to Aspen, I also left the engineering life behind. I'm not sure whether this has been a temporary or permanent move, but I have to say I am quite enjoying the world in which I now find myself immersed: the art world. That's right folks, I am the Sales and Marketing Director of the Tania Dibbs Gallery, and I am lucky to work with a single artist who has her own gallery and who is AWESOME.

Check her out: www.taniadibbs.com

Now back to the earthy crunchy life. I just bought a road bike, so expect to read about my exploits on what is now my most expensive toy. Yes, I'm pretty sure my bike cost more than my car is worth. I think tomorrow, I will tell you the story of how me and said spendy thing came to be.

One of the other things I plan to enlighten you all about is the INSANITY work out. I ordered it this past week online, so if I'm able to lift my arms to type, I will give you some feedback on it. I hear its one hell of an ass kicker!

So, friends, I leave you with this Reader's Digest version of my life since April. Let's see if I can actually commit to blogging more and telling you about life in the high rent district of Aspen!

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

So I keep saying I'm going to get better about blogging here, but I don't seem to be able to ACTUALLY do it!

In the past two months of my non blogging, I have failed miserably at the attempt to be a vegetarian. So much so, that I have resigned to the fact that I am just not cut out for it. One of the struggles I had with being a vegetarian is the ease of falling into the processed foods trap with meat substitutes and soy products. As a personal preference, for me, it is more important to limit processed food than it is to not eat meat. Thus, I have chosen to give up a complete vegetarian lifestyle but instead work towards eating whole, organic, and unprocessed foods.

There's a little part of me that still worries about the way meats are processed and things of that nature, so I will also aim to choose fully pastured and/or organic options as much as possible and reasonable (read: for the wallet). I do foresee keeping a largely vegetarian diet but won't be limiting myself to a complete vegetarian diet.

So enough rambling about my inability to commit to not eating, I guess I need to decide in what direction to take this blog! I think I will still talk about good products that I find when I feel like a pre-packaged product is worthy, and I will still post recipes! I think that this will be much more about a healthy, clean, whole lifestyle instead of just about being a veggie.

I hope you stick with me!

Here's a recipe for you, just for reading!

Ham and Cheddar Quiche (I recommend broccoli cheese for you veggies):
One Pie crust (I highly recommend making your own. I did)
Five eggs
3/4 cup milk (I used skim)
1 cup cheddar
1 cup ham (or broccoli)
pinch of each: salt, pepper, nutmeg

Chop the ham or broccoli into small pieces and put into a pan. Cook until the ham is golden brown or until the broccoli is cooked through. Lightly beat the eggs and combine with milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Place the ham/broccoli and cheese in the bottom of the pie crust. Pour the egg mixture over these and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes until the egg is puffy and golden brown on top.

Serve for breakfast with a glass of milk, or for lunch or dinner with a salad. YUM!



Maybe if you're lucky I'll share my secret perfect pie crust recipe with you :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Alright, I suppose its time for my slackass to start blogging again, eh?

I just returned from an amazing week in Aspen, Colorado for the annual Summit Expression Session. This is an event that brings together 150+ alpine snowboarders for a week of recreational riding. I enjoy the week because I get to reconnect with friends from back east and others who I get to see once a year in Aspen. If you've never been to Aspen, let me tell you something....Aspen is the SHIT. From the impecable groom to the ambiance of the town, Aspen can't be beat. While I had been there before, this trip had a few unexpected (but awesome) suprises in store for me.



And since this is a food blog, I'll get on with it...but the whole Aspen thing has a connection here! I had the privledge of going out on Thursday night (a week ago) to a wonderful dinner at a new spot in town called Ellina. If you're ever in Aspen you MUST check it out. And for those of you who know me and my obsession with the Food Network, you will appreciate this: we were waiting for our table and the head chef came out of the kitchen. I looked at her and immediately knew I had seen her before, and then I realized that just a few weeks ago she competed on Iron Chef America! It took everything in me not to squeal with excitement.

After eating her food, I can see why she was on there. I had a plate of perfectly seared scallops (which I had been craving) topped with fried parsnips (think parsnip onion rings) and served with a cranberry jasmine rice. SO delish...as an appetizer we had this octopus thing that I never in a million years would have ordered of my own free will. It was seared octopus on a risotto cake with some sauce and microgreens. I had to think about it a few times, but once I had a proper palette tasting with the wine we were drinking (which was also fantastic, but hell if I can remember what it was), I was sold. It pays to have a nice dining experience with a good, knowledgable companion. Thanks Jim :-D

http://www.ellinarestaurant.com/

Also, I just realized that she opened the place on my BIRTHDAY! :)

So in lieu of a recipe today, I will just leave you with my scintilating review of dining in Aspen and a product of the day...which I happen to be munching on right now:

Cascadian Farms Organic Pomegranite Raspberry Clusters.



Think Chex on CRACK. Mmm.

Here's to hoping I won't be a slacker blogger (how many times have I said that now??)
Cheers!

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year, New Start

Today's Praise: Amy's Organic Chunky Vegetable Soup
Today's Recipe: Salads

Well I've obviously taken a little hiatus since the holidays started. I'm lame, what can I say. Between the Thanksgiving trip to Phoenix, my Happy Birthday, multiple holiday parties including my spread for 20, and New Year's....I can't say I was a complete failure. I'll be happy when the couple pounds of cookie induced bloat goes away, but otherwise I think I was more successful this year than most.

Of course, I am going "home" to PA on Wednesday....so that'll be the final test.

As far as the vegetarian in me goes, I caved to the turkey. BUT...I slaved over the dang thing for like 6 hours so I was going to at least taste it. And let me tell you, it was GOOD. Now I'm back to my veggie, organic, fruit eating ways in the hopes of paring down and toning up in time for my little Aspen trip a month from now ;)

Today's praise just went down the hatch for lunch, and I have to say it was very good. I'm pretty sensitive to salty foods, and soups are usually first in line to offend, but this wasn't too salty and was full of a lot of different chunky veggies. More veggies than broth, I highly recommend Amy's soups!



Today's "recipe" is in honor of the New Year and everyone's quest to lose weight as their resolution. So I bring you SALADS!

My personal favorite salad is the following:
Mixed Greens
Sunflower Seeds
Dried Cranberries
360 Crackers (see previous post) crunched up as Croutons
Fat Free Honey Mustard Dressing

Another favorite variation is cranberries, walnuts, feta cheese, and fat free blue cheese dressing.

Here are some other topping ideas:
Cukes
Avocado
Tomato (duh)
Olives (mmm)
Apples
Brie Cheese
Artichokes
Baby Corn
Grapes
Morning Star Bacon crunched up
Chick Peas
Water Chestnuts
Edameme

So in honor of our health in this new year, go make yourself a loaded salad! :)

Happy 2010!