Archive for January, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower

Saturday, January 4th, 2014
Got Cauliflower? Roast It!

Super easy recipe – simply trim cleaned cauliflower into evenly sized pieces. Drizzle with a little olive oil, season to taste with salt and pepper, and roast in a 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven for about 30 to 60 minutes. The time will depend on the size of your pieces. Roasting cauliflower caramelizes it and brings out a sweetness you never knew was there! It’s simply fantastic (and fantastically simple).

For a special treat, sprinkle with a little hot curry powder before roasting. It’s a perfect side dish for a chilly evening.

Emerald Paradise Smoothie

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Today’s ride was just a quick 21-mile easy ride. It’s been a while since I’ve done a longer ride, so I really felt yesterday’s ride this morning. That’s OK. I’ve got lots of chores to do at home, so that will keep me busy enough. However … it is a beautiful and unseasonably warm day out there in Davis today, so I will certainly have to find some excuse to get out and about again soon. But first … a snack.

This smoothie is luscious and refreshing. It’s a perfect post-ride or workout recovery snack – rich with flavor, but low in calories and loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  The whey protein is great for muscle recovery. For more information on the benefits of whey protein, click here.

Getting Ready To Blend ...

Emerald Paradise Smoothie

1 cup frozen raspberries
3/4 cup frozen mango chunks
3/4 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1 to 2 scoops vanilla whey protein
2-3 big handfuls of Tuscan kale
1 to 2 cups of filtered water

Place frozen fruit, protein powder, kale, and water in a large capacity blender and blend until smooth. For a thicker smoothie, add ice.

Makes about 7-8 cups.

Getting Ready to Enjoy!

 

Check This Out – Ride 2 Recovery

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

What a GREAT idea! Ride 2 Recovery helps wounded veterans rebuild their lives.

One of my favorite local bike shops, Ray’s Cycle in downtown Vacaville, will be collecting used road bikes, parts, and accessories in support of this cause. For more information, please click here.

 

 

Finally – A Great Day for a Training Ride!

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

The 2014 Napa Valley Tour de Cure will be here before you know it! It is time to get out and do some training. This will be my 6th Napa Valley Tour de Cure – if you would like to donate to my ride, please click here. I am far from reaching my goal this year, so please consider making a donation. It’s a great cause and every bit helps!

Look at this beautiful weather! Perfect for a 70-mile training ride.

Pleasants Valley Road, just past Cantelow Road.

Looking for a Tour de Cure in your area? Find your local Tour de Cure here. There are routes available for every skill level – children & adults, novice, intermediate, and advanced cyclists. This is a very well supported ride with rest stops and SAG crews. It is a ride, not a race. There is something for everyone and the proceeds benefit the American Diabetes Association. The mission of the American Diabetes Association is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. Full information is available here.

You can also follow the Tour on Facebook. You can follow the American Diabetes Association on Twitter, or check out some informational videos on YouTube.

I hope to see you at the 2014 Napa Valley Tour de Curecome ride with me!

Roasted Whole Chicken

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Sunday night I just really needed to make some comfort food. Not having had a “traditional” Christmas turkey this year, I felt myself longing for roasted chicken. I stopped by my neighborhood market and picked up a free range chicken, some fresh lemons, mushrooms, herbs, and salad makings.

Roasting a whole chicken is actually pretty easy. You want to be very organized and tidy when working with any raw meat, especially chicken. It’s important to assemble all of your ingredients and equipment first and to keep your hands and work surfaces clean. You will need:

Ingredients:

Whole chicken
A few sprigs of fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, parsley)
1-2 lemons
2 large carrots
2 large stalks celery
2 large crimini mushrooms
salt, pepper, or your favorite grinder seasoning

Equipment:

A large cutting board
A good knife
Roasting pan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. There are different schools of thought on this – some like to start roasting chicken in a hotter oven (425), but I usually just stick with the 350 degree oven and have good results with this.

Wash and dry the lemons, carrots, celery, mushrooms, and herbs. You will want to prepare these and set them all aside before you start handling the raw chicken.

  1. Slice one lemon into about 1/4-inch thick slices. Depending on the size of your bird, you’ll want 4-6 lemon slices. Cut the second lemon into halves. Remove and discard any seeds from the lemons.
  2. Cut one of the carrots and a stalk of celery into 2-4 pieces, again depending on the size of your chicken. You want these pieces to fit inside the bird. Cut the remaining carrot and celery into about 1 or 2-inch chunks and scatter these in the bottom of the roasting pan.
  3. Cut the mushrooms into quarters.
  4. Leave the herbs whole – you don’t want to chop them for this step.

Ready to roast

To prepare the chicken, the first thing you want to do is to remove the packet of giblets and set these aside for now. Remove any excess fat and rinse the bird inside and out with cold water, then pat dry with paper towels. Season the bird inside and out with salt and pepper, or your favorite grinder seasoning (ex: Trader Joe’s “Everyday Seasoning” is my favorite). With your fingers, carefully loosen the skin on the breast, then work 2-3 slices of lemon on each side, gently working the slices as far down towards the legs as you can. You’ll want to do this gently so you don’t tear the skin. Then, place a sprig of each herb under the skin.

Some recipes call for butter under and/or over the skin, but I did not do this and this chicken came out beautifully moist and delicious. Maybe it wasn’t as shiny and pretty as it would have been with some butter, but I prefer it without the added fat and calories.

The bird is now ready to roast. This was about a 4-pound chicken and it took about an hour and 15 minutes to cook. You’ll want to cook to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

My mother always made giblet gravy, so of course this was a must to truly satisfy that comfort food craving. Mom would always place the giblets in a little water with some carrot, celery, onion, and herbs, and simmer gently to make a little broth. You don’t want to cook the liver in here or the resulting broth will be bitter. Save the liver for another use, if you like.

While the chicken is roasting, prepare your giblet stock, side dishes, salad, etc.. We had roasted potatoes and a light, refreshing salad of baby spring greens, heirloom tomato, kalamata olives, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze and extra virgin olive oil.

Herbed Roasted Potatoes

Baby Spring Greens Salad

After I put the chicken in the oven, I got things cleaned up and started on the side dishes. I scrubbed, rinsed, and dried the potatoes. Simply drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle on some fresh herbs, a little salt and pepper, and put them in the oven. These were about 1 1/2-inch diameter gold, red, and purple potatoes, and the timing was just right. They took about 1 hour to roast to perfection, so by the time I got them in the oven, they finished about the same time as the chicken.

If you want mushroom gravy, prepare your mushrooms while the chicken is roasting. I used about 5 ounces of crimini mushrooms for my gravy.

Prepare any side dishes while the chicken is cooking. We had a light, refreshing, and simple salad of baby spring greens, heirloom tomato, kalamata olives, with a drizzle of balsamic glaze and extra virgin olive oil.

Roast the chicken to an internal temperature of 165-degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from the oven, place chicken on a large dish, cover with foil, and set aside. Check the juices in the roasting pan. Depending on your chicken, you may want to pour the pan juices into a separator and pour off excess fat. The chicken I roasted had so little fat that I did not have to do this, which made me very happy! You will want to let the roasted chicken rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

This is a good time to strain your giblet stock. Discard the vegetables and herbs, and if you desire, chop the giblets to add to the gravy.

Mushroom Gravy

To make the gravy, set the roasting pan on the stove over medium heat. If you want, you can remove and discard the carrot and celery that was in the roasting pan, but I chose to leave them in this time just to try that. Add the mushrooms and saute a few minutes to cook out some of their moisture. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour in the roasting pan and whisk to eliminate any lumps of flour. Let this cook for a bit, then whisk in your giblet stock. You will probably need to add additional liquid, so be sure to have some prepared stock available, or if you have steamed any vegetables, you can use this liquid, also. Growing up, we always had some sort of steamed (or boiled, ugh!) vegetables with roasted chicken, and my mom always used this liquid in her gravy. Continue whisking and cooking your gravy until you reach the desired consistency. If you like, add the giblet meat. Adjust seasonings with fresh herbs, salt and pepper to taste.  As you can see, my gravy had a lot of texture because I kept the roasted celery and carrot, and it wasn’t necessarily the prettiest gravy I have ever made, but it was loaded with flavor, but also very light for a gravy.

I hope you have a wonderful day! It is now time for me to get off the computer and get outside for a ride! Happy New Year!

Roasted Chicken