Archive for June, 2014

So Blogging Far Behind

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Do you ever feel so far behind that it seems you’ll never get caught up? I’m there. Life has been a roller coaster, full of ups, downs, twists and turns lately, but I’ve been getting some cycling in most days before work, weekend rides, and have been able to do a few new rides …

A rare afternoon relaxing in Carmel.

17-Mile Drive, Carmel – beautiful scenery, rolling hills, and fresh, clean ocean air.

Ride Ataxia NorCal – a ride to benefit FARA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to researching a cure for Friedreich’s ataxia (FA), a degenerative neuro-muscular disorder. We rode the 60-mile route from Davis to Vacaville, Winters, and back to Davis. The ride is sponsored by Outback Steak House so the post-ride meal … the ribs, oh the ribs …

Sacramento Delta Area – I’m beginning to explore this area again with a friend.

Cantelow – revisiting a hill I “conquered” several years ago which has defeated me this year until last Saturday. Finally up and over Cantelow again without any walking!

I’ve also gotten a few foodie explorations in, especially in Carmel. One of these days I will blog about the food … especially about La Bicyclette.

One of these days … I will get caught up.

Sunflowers!

It's another amazing sunflower year in and around Davis. They're just starting to bloom.

 

“Honey Moon” Rise

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

"Honey Moon" rising over Davis, California

La Bicyclette

Friday, June 13th, 2014

La Bicyclette … it was love at first bite.

We need you in Davis, California. We are “Bicycle City,” you know!

Review Coming Soon!

17-Mile Drive

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

A lovely little ride along the Central Coast from Carmel to Monterey.

More soon … there were some awesome foodie adventures in Carmel.

Roasted Asparagus & Shiitake Mushrooms

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

Are you looking for a super simple, super healthy, super rich-decadent-tasting side dish? Try this!

Roasted Asparagus and Shiitake Mushrooms

1 or 2 bunches of asparagus
6 to 8 ounces of fresh shiitake mushrooms
good quality olive oil
salt

Roasted Asparagus

Clean and trim* the asparagus. Rinse the shiitakes and drain well; if necessary trim the stems a bit. Place the asparagus and mushrooms in a large roasting pan, drizzle lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with a generous pinch or two of salt. Roast at 375-degrees Fahrenheit until the asparagus is to your liking. I like it crisp-tender.

Roasted Shiitake Mushrooms

If you’re cooking other items in the oven at the same time, you can use whatever temperature you’re using for your other items, as long as it’s at least 350-degrees. I’ve roasted these at anywhere from 325 to 450 degrees and found that 350-400 degrees is best, but you could go up to 450 if need. At 325, it just took a little longer and I found it didn’t maintain the bright green, fresh flavor I like.

If you’re grilling, you can cook these on the grill, too! Just remember to use a pan that can go on the grill – like the disposable aluminum pans pictured here.

This tastes decadent, but it is a low-calorie, nutrition-packed side dish. Roasting brings out a delicate sweetness in the asparagus and shiitakes, the olive oil lends it a rich, almost buttery flavor. It’s also vegan and gluten free!

If you happen to have leftovers, they make a great addition to a frittata, or tossed with some pasta and other goodies (fresh herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, etc.). They’d also be great quickly stir-fried with some brown rice. Oh, the possibilities!

Rich in antioxidants, folates, vitamins and minerals, asparagus has many health benefits. Shiitake mushrooms are also a nutritional powerhouse, rich in trace minerals copper, pantothenic acid, and selenium. Shiitake mushrooms also have anti-inflammatory characteristics that can be very helpful.

*Tip: to trim the asparagus, I just hold the cut end on one hand and the center of the stalk in the other hand. I then gently bend the stalk until it snaps. I start as close to the cut end as possible. The stalk will naturally break where the tougher part ends. This is a great method to avoid unnecessary waste, but you’ll get stalks of varying length. If you want or need the stalks to be the same size, then you’ll want to use a knife to trim them.

 

2014 Napa Valley Tour de Cure

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

I have had a serious case of “writer’s block” for some reason on this post. This year was my 6th and best Napa Valley Tour de Cure so far. I didn’t make my best time, but I had loads of fun and got to meet some really wonderful new friends. Also this year, thanks to the generous support of my friends (old & new), I finally hit the Champion fundraising level ($1,000+).

Saturday, May 3rd, I helped out with pre-registration in the morning and then in the evening for the Champions Dinner.

Champions Dinner

Riders who raise $1,000 or more are Champions to Stop Diabetes. In my 6 years of riding the Tour de Cure, this was my first Champions Dinner! The tireless efforts of both staff and volunteers make this event even that much more special. I only got a few photos …

Sharon, Kim, & Desiree

Phil & Desiree

Desiree and Phil arranged for loads of donated raffle prizes for the Champions: wine (of course, this is the Napa Valley Tour de Cure, after all!), a bike, gift cards, local hand-made jewelry and a quilt are just some of the prizes. I’ll have a full list soon and will post that.

The food was amazing – for starters during registration, we had some absolutely gorgeous smoked salmon! I was busy so I did not get many photos, and those few photos I did get, did not come out very well, but here are a few …

Polenta

Smoked Salmon

Smoked Salmon

For entrees, we had a choice of:

Pork Tenderloin

Stuffed Chicken Breast

Risotto

This was a terrific kickoff to the ride!

Day of Event – The Ride!

Gearing Up for the Day!

Starting Line with Sharon

On the course

As always, the rest stops were well stocked with cheerful volunteers, lots of great food, and happy cyclists.

Refreshing, juicy oranges

Trail Mix

Crunchy, salty pretzels

“Energy” Bars

Sports Beans

More “Energy” Bars

We also had bananas, apples, peanut butter or almond butter sandwiches, and lots of water and Cytomax available. Last year we had the GoMacro Macrobars for the first time. The GoMacro products are vegan and gluten-free, so I was a bit skeptical because I am a classic Crunchy Peanut Butter Clif Bar kinda’ gal, but one bite of these new bars changed my mind. I like these and they sit well in my belly on a long ride.

Trancas Steakhouse served lunch at The Fieldstone Winery rest stop to the 80 and 100-mile riders. They were making quesadillas and tacos – these were hugely popular among many of the cyclists!

Mmm … tacos …

Happy cyclists!

Trancas Steakhouse also served the post-ride meal. I had the pasta and meatballs, Caesar salad, sourdough bread, and lots and lots of watermelon. That hit the spot!

 

Another great Tour de Cure!

 

 

 

If you’ve never done an organized ride and want to try one, this is the best organized ride I’ve ridden.

Everything about it is terrific – the volunteers, the route, the food and beverage, the camaraderie of the riders, and most of all it’s for a great cause.

To find a Tour de Cure in your area, check it out here.

If you can’t ride and you’re interested in volunteering, click here

I hope to see you there next year!

 

 

 

Fresh Fruit Tart

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

Fresh Fruit Tart

Be sure to dock the dough well to avoid excess puffing.

I love fresh fruit.
I love dessert.
I love this dessert.

This tart is best with a homemade shortbread crust, but if you’re in a pinch for time, you can use a pre-made pie crust. I like the Trader Joe’s frozen pie crust – it’s more natural than other brands, and I’ve had pretty good luck with it.

Bake the tart crust according to the recipe or directions on the packet.

Have ready to go some finely chopped dark or white chocolate to sprinkle on the crust immediately after removing from the oven. Evenly distribute the chocolate onto the hot crust, wait one to two minutes to allow to melt, then gently smooth to the edges with a knife or spatula. Allow to cool completely.

While the tart shell is baking, prepare the filling. Whisk together about 3/4 cup each of Mascarpone cheese and non-fat plain Greek yogurt, 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey, and the zest of one lemon. Whisk until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or two, or up to overnight.

The crust and/or filling can be made a day ahead and kept refrigerated. Keep them separate – don’t fill the shell until right before assembling the tart.

Depending on the type of fruit you want to use, you’ll want to prepare it shortly before assembling and serving the tart. Whole berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries should be rinsed and drained well before assembling. Cut fruit should be sliced right before assembling and serving the tart.

To assemble the tart, spoon the filling into the prepared crust and gently spread to the edges of the crust. Top with your choice of fruit, arranged attractively, of course.

If you’re going to prepare the tart ahead of time, especially if you are using cut fruit, you can glaze it to help keep the fruit fresh-looking. When possible, I prefer to assemble the tart just before serving so I don’t glaze the fruit. A really simple way to do it is to heat up some apple jelly a bit to make it “liquidy” and simply brush a little bit of it onto the cut fruit with a pastry brush. Just be sure to glaze very lightly or it can become cloyingly sweet. What I like about this recipe is that it is fairly light and not too sweet.

You can make it even a little lighter by using a low fat cream cheese, but I really prefer the taste of the Mascarpone cheese.

This tart is a wonderful excuse to take a trip to your local Farmers’ Market to pick up some beautiful fresh local fruit – go get inspired! Enjoy!