Archive for December, 2013

Better Air in Davis this Morning!

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

We had a lovely cloud cover in Davis this morning. It was a little chilly, but well worth bundling up to ride in some cleaner air.

I grabbed just a quick 21 mile ride and now am ready to start on some home stuff … but first …

Organic Tuscan Kale, Mango, Cherries, Green Grapes, and Whey Protein.


Happy New Year – Please Ring in 2014 Safely!

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Hi Everyone!

It’s that time of year again – can you believe it is New Year’s Eve already?!

If you find yourself out and about and not in condition to get yourself (and your friends) home safely, please remember that The American Automobile Association (AAA) is again running their holiday Free Tipsy Tow Home service for New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day morning (December 31, 2013 – January 1, 2014) for anyone in Northern California, Nevada, and Utah. If you’re drinking and don’t think you should drive, give them a call.

Write the number down and keep it in your car’s glove box:

800-222-4357 (AAA-HELP)

Just tell the AAA operator, “I need a Tipsy Tow,” and a truck will be on its way.

You (or your friends) do not need to be AAA members – this service is available to anyone in Northern California, Nevada, and Utah. For full information, please click here. For those of you outside of Norther California, Nevada, or Utah, here is a list of available Holiday Safe Ride Programs available in other areas.

Please take a moment to check this out before you head out for the evening and keep the relevant numbers with you – if not for yourself, for someone else you may encounter who may need a ride.

Here’s wishing everyone a happy, joyous, fun, safe, delicious, and healthy New Year! Let’s get lots of cycling in 2014!

Heart Healthier Christmas

Monday, December 30th, 2013

This year a heart-healthier Christmas menu was in order for Mom.

Herb Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Port-Cherry Sauce
Twice-Baked Yam
Roasted Herbed Potatoes
Sautéed Baby Kale with Mushrooms
Fresh Blackberries with Light Orange Curd

Sadly, this is best photo of this meal.

Herb Marinated Pork Tenderloin

1 to 1 ½ pound pork tenderloin
1 ½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 ½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
A few grinds of fresh ground pepper
About 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

  1. Measure herbs, olive oil and seasonings in a large zip top bag. Stir or whisk to combine.
  2. Trim any excess fat from the pork tenderloin and place in the zip top bag. Squeeze any excess air out of the bag, seal it, and with your fingers work the marinade around the meat.
  3. Place the sealed bag in the refrigerator and allow to marinade at least a few hours or overnight.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
  5. Remove tenderloin from the marinade, place in a roasting pan, and roast in the preheated oven for 35 to 45 minutes until it reaches an internal temperature of 145° Fahrenheit.
  6. Remove from oven, cover with foil, and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.

Port-Cherry Sauce

Ever so slightly modified version of Port and Dried Cherry Sauce, p. 58, Williams-Sonoma SAUCE  

1 cup ruby port
2/3 cup dried cherries, soaked in water for 20 minutes and drained
½ cup chicken stock or prepared broth
¼ teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Optional: 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

In a heavy bottomed non-reactive saucier pan, bring the port and cherries to a simmer over medium. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half (2 or minutes). Add the stock, vinegar, rosemary, ¼ teaspoon of salt, and a grind or two of fresh pepper. Simmer until the sauce is syrupy (about 2 minutes). Taste and adjust the seasoning. Remove pan from heat. If desired, whisk in the butter, one piece at a time. This will help to slightly thicken the sauce.

Twice Baked Yam

On a recent shopping trip to one of my favorite local markets, I found the largest yam I have ever seen. I sit here now wondering why in the heck I did not take a photo of it before cooking it. It was HUGE. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

Scrub the yam(s) and trim the ends. Pierce them a few times with a sharp knife. You can bake these all the way in the oven, or get a jumpstart by par cooking them in a microwave. When the yams are fully cooked and soft, remove from the oven and cut lengthwise in half. You may need to let them cool a little before handling them. Scoop the flesh out of the skins, leaving about a ¼ inch shell in the potato skin. Place the skins in a baking pan. Place the cooked yam into a large bowl and add about 1 tablespoon shredded reduced fat cheddar per serving. Stir to combine well and then return the mixture to the skins. You can use a piping bag and fancy tip, if you desire, or you can just scoop them in with a spoon and smooth the top. Return these to the oven to heat through and melt the cheese.

Roasted Herbed Potatoes

These are so delicious and simple once you make them you may wonder why you don’t make these every day.

Use your favorite waxy potatoes (red, golden, purple) or fingerling potatoes. Scrub and dry, place in a baking dish, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage, etc.. whatever you like!), and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast at 350° Fahrenheit for about 1 hour. The size of the potatoes will determine the actual baking time.

They make great leftovers, too. You can just reheat them for an easy side dish, or add them to a frittata for a simple and comforting breakfast, brunch, or dinner!

Sautéed Baby Kale with Mushrooms

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 to 6 ounces of shiitake mushrooms, rinsed, trimmed, and sliced into ¼ inch slices
8 to 12 ounces of baby kale, rinsed and spun dry

On medium-high, heat oil in a large cast iron skillet or other heavy bottomed skillet. Add mushrooms, stir frequently. You want them to brown a bit, but not burn. Place greens on top, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and allow to steam until tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if desired. Watch carefully – these can quickly go from tender and perfect to bitter and overcooked.

You can cook almost any cooking green this way – spinach, chard, collards, kale, or any combination of them.

Light Orange Curd

This recipe is in development and not ready to post yet. It needs work! I am not sure about the Monk Fruit In The Raw. I haven’t quite figured it out and I am not sure how much I like the taste. It is expensive, so I need to do a bit of recipe research before I just try to substitute it like this. I don’t know if it’s the corn dextrose filler they use in the Monk Fruit, or the egg whites from a carton, but the consistency was off.

I might try this orange curd with the C&H ½ & ½. It’s half stevia and half cane sugar. I liked that much better in the low-sugar version of lemon curd I made a few weeks ago.

Heart Healthier Christmas Menu

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

Here’s a very basic outline of what to expect … I’ll have to do a full post later with recipes and photos. The menu will be along these lines, but I’m going to have to sort of “wing it” a little on some things:

Smoked Wild Salmon with Organic Light Cream Cheese on Rye Toasts
Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Cherry-Port Sauce
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Roasted Yams
Baby Kale Salad with Granny Smith Apples, Candied Pecans, and Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette
Low-Fat & Low-Sugar Orange Curd with Fresh Blackberries

The curd turned out a bit looser than I had hoped, but it will work nicely as a sauce for the big beautiful fresh blackberries I found this week at the store. I don’t think this curd would work well in a tart, though, because it’s not quite thick enough. Perhaps next time I’ll try 1/2 whole eggs and 1/2 egg whites, and I need to play a bit more with the Monk Fruit. I guess I could also use some corn starch, but that seems like cheating, but we’ll see. I think this recipe has promise, but it’s not just right yet.

I also wanted to make meringues to serve with this, but there is just so much going on right now that I did not have time to do so.

I will have limited Internet access over the next few days, so it may be the weekend before I get a chance to post any pictures or follow-up.

Merry Christmas! May your hearts be filled with the joy and warmth of the season, and your bellies be nourished by delicious and wholesome food!


Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

Here’s wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas! I hope you have the chance to get a good ride in today. This is the first Christmas in years that I will not ride and I am quite sad about that. I am just thankful to at least get a nice walk in this morning. 

Mt. St. Helena, view from Santa Rosa.

Mt. St. Helena, view from Santa Rosa.

This Christmas morning brings with it a stunningly beautiful day in Santa Rosa. I wish I had my bike with me!! The morning was chilly to start, but it has warmed up very nicely. The air is a bit better here than in Davis of late. We are having “Spare the Air Days” in Northern California right now and this has been a source of great upset for many who feel that it is wrong to restrict the tradition of a blazing fire in the fireplace during the holidays. While I certainly can understand that, and do miss having a big roaring fire on a chilly night, I can also understand the importance of clean air for everyone’s health. So, thank you to everyone who is honoring the Spare the Air Days. It does make a difference.

Lovely morning light and shadows

Nature's Christmas Lights


Merry Christmas Eve!

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

Start your holidays with a super healthy green smoothie!

Baby Kale, Kiwi, Banana, Mango, Oats, Whey Protein


This year’s menu is going to be a little different – a little heart-healthier and lighter – but it will still be festive and delicious!

Pork Tenderloin with a Port-Cherry Sauce
Roasted Yams
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Baby Greens Salad with Organic Apples, Spicy Candied Pecans,  & Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Dessert may be a low-sugar & low-fat orange curd with blackberries. That is, IF my curd sets. I used half sugar & half Monk Fruit. I used one whole egg and replaced the other with egg whites (the ready-to-use kind you get in a carton). The juice of 1 1/2 Cara Cara oranges and one lemon, plus the zest … it tastes OK, we’ll see how it sets when it cools. I’m not 100% sure about the taste of the Monk Fruit yet. I need to play with this a bit more. I tried using 100% Monk Fruit in the last batch of curd I made and it was dreadful. We’ll see how it is with 1/2 sugar & 1/2 Monk Fruit.

If the curd does not set, I’ll have to figure out a way to use it as a sauce for something.

Here’s wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I’ll have limited Internet access, but will do my best to get a few posts in here and there.

Please be SAFE – remember – NO drinking and driving!

P.S. Santa brought me a very cool new helmet! A Rudy Project Technically Cool and super comfy green/blue helmet – it’s like the one that one of the cycling teams wears that every time I see it I say, “I have to find one of those!” And, it will go great with the Ireland jersey Santa brought me last year!

Thanks, Santa! You’re the BEST! I’m looking forward to riding with you again soon!!

Davis Air

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

The air quality in Davis was very poor today. I was so disappointed – I wanted to ride! Alas, it was a trip to the gym and a bunch more errands for me today. I picked up a new laptop today, so that eliminates one no blogging excuse.

I can hardly believe it is almost Christmas. Seriously! Where has this year gone?

Irish Apple Cake

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

Award Winning Irish Apple Cake

I first fell in love with this cake at a St. Patrick’s Day party. I entered entered this cake into a bake-off at work and won the “Best Cake/Bread” category.

This recipe is published with the gracious permission of Elizabeth Jennings. She has adapted this from her grandmother Minnie Jennings’ recipe.

Irish Apple Cake
Adapted from Minnie Jennings (County Mayo, Ireland)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon each: baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg
1 1/2 cups flour
3-4 Granny Smith apples*
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup additional sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Generously butter a 9″ round cake pan.

Mise en place – measure out and assemble all of your ingredients.

In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients (except the remaining 1/4 sugar).

Core, peel, and dice the apples to about 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups) and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix until well combined.

Add the dry ingredients to butter mixture and mix well. Stir in the apples and nuts.

Batter will be very thick and chock-full of apples. 

Pour into prepared pan, level out. Sprinkle top with 1/4 cup sugar.

Bake until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Don’t overcook or it will become dry. Depending on your oven and type of pan, the cake could take anywhere from 45 min- 1 hr 15 min. Just keep checking with a toothpick and take out when it comes out just about clean. It may take a couple of times to make it before you get a sense of when to take it out.

Serve warm or at room temperature, with creme anglaise, whipped cream, or ice cream. Great for coffeecake in the morning as well.

Even moister and more flavorful the next day. Just keep wrapped tight. No need to refrigerate.

*Don’t skimp on the apples, the more apple, the moister the cake, and don’t substitute a sweeter apple.

Sadly, I don’t have a good picture of the cake. I guess this just means I’ll have to bake another soon. Sounds like a plan for New Year’s Eve!

Remembering this St. Patrick's Day party makes me smile!

Must … Catch … Up!

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

I have been officially chided by a colleague at work for not posting these past few weeks. (You know who you are, MV, and thank you for getting me blogging again.) Life has been handing me a few challenges recently, so I have been doing a bit of juggling and have certainly dropped the proverbial blogging ball.

I am now officially on vacation, so I will do my best to post just as much as I possibly can!

Lots and lots of cookies have passed through my kitchen of late. I’m working on some new recipes – some healthy, some not so healthy, but hopefully you will find all of them delicious. Here are a few of the recipes I’ll be posting soon:

Peanut Butter Kisses
Peppermint Mocha Cookies
White Chocolate Cranberry & Lemon Cookies
Apple Coffee Cake Muffins (whole grain, low sugar, and low fat)
Chewy Ginger Cookies
Spiced Nuts
Greens, Apples, Pecans with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
Herbed Goat Cheese
Caesar Salad (if I can talk someone into being a guest blogger)

Oh, and I am very excited to say that I did get permission to publish the Irish Apple Cake recipe, so look for that. Trust me – you will want to add this to your list of recipes for special occasions!

I am also hoping for nice weather and to get some good cycling in over the break. The weather forecast looks promising! MUST get some training rides in and SOON!!!

Are you looking for a year end tax deduction? Consider donating to my 2014 Tour de Cure ride! Click here to donate.