Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

Want some good, healthy comfort food? Here’s an idea for a healthy addition to your holiday table. The bacon gives just the right touch of decadent richness that many of us tend to crave during this time of year. Try roasting brussel sprouts with just a bit of olive oil and a touch of lean bacon.

Rinse brussel sprouts in cool water, trim the end, and then cut in half. Drain well.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. While the oven is heating, cook a slice or two of lean bacon and trim away most of the fat. Drain the bacon on paper towels, then chop. Combine the trimmed and halved brussel sprouts and bacon, drizzle a bit of olive oil, and a pinch or two of kosher salt and a grind or two of pepper. Toss to combine well and place in a roasting pan in a single layer. Roast to your desired doneness. I don’t like to overcook brussel sprouts, so I roast until just tender and a little browned – usually about 30 minutes or so.

Ready to go into the oven.

Ready to go into the oven.

Want to keep this dish a bit lighter and vegan? Simply omit the bacon and add a few grinds of Trader Joe’s South African Seasoning before roasting. Oh, so good!

 

Happy Valentines Day

Sunday, February 14th, 2016

Remember … some of the best things that you can do for your heart are to exercise, eat well, and be happy.

So, here’s wishing you a happy, heart-healthy Valentines Day! I hope you have the chance to ride today!

Happy New Year – Please Ring in 2016 Safely!

Friday, January 1st, 2016

Please be safe out there. If you’re imbibing, please do not drive. If you’re driving, please do not imbibe.

Write this 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.

I hope to see you out there cycling in 2016!

Christmas 2015 Full Moon

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!

Santa brought Northern California some lovely rain, followed by a beautiful clear Christmas night to enjoy this stunning full moon.

We won't see another Christmas Full Moon until Christmas 2034!

We won’t see another Christmas Full Moon until Christmas 2034!

I’ll post some foodie pictures and perhaps a recipe later, but for now, a quick ride on this ch-ch-chilly day. Making some additional adjustments to the Reve and hope to have her just right very soon!

Exploring Peanut Brittle …

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Here’s a super easy recipe for a holiday favorite, Peanut Brittle. The online recipe says “Ina Garten style” Peanut Brittle and I have always had great luck with her recipes, so I thought I’d try this. My candy thermometer is in storage, so I used the cold water testing method (see this “stages of sugar” chart). I overcooked the first batch just a little, but the second batch was perfect. I halved the recipe, which was the perfect amount for a half sheet pan lined with a silicone pan  liner. In the second batch I also increased the peanuts from 1 1/2 cups to 2 cups, and I liked that much better, too.

The recipe calls for raw peanuts, but I had roasted salted peanuts. Purists will say that you must use raw peanuts, but I was quite pleased with the results using my extra fancy roasted salted peanuts. In the future, I’ll try raw peanuts, but I have a feeling this is not a recipe I want to make on a regular basis. It would be way too easy to eat too much. Yes, it is that good.

If you have never made candy before, I really recommend using a candy thermometer to judge temperatures. The syrup can go from not there to THERE in a matter of seconds. That’s how I ever so slightly burned the first batch. Luckily I caught it in time so that it’s still palatable and has really nice flavor.

Be sure to have all your ingredients, equipment, and silicone lined pan ready to go before you start cooking your syrup. Once the syrup is cooked and ready to pour, you have to be ready! 

Sorry there are no pictures. You’ll have to believe me when I say the second batch was textbook perfect brittle!

Spicy Caramel Popcorn

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

This slightly spicy, delightfully sweet, salty, and crunchy caramel popcorn will make a wonderful Christmas gift or snack. I shared a bit yesterday with some friends and colleagues. It was unanimously approved by friends and colleagues alike. It’s based on this recipe from Martha Stewart. I just used mixed nuts instead of peanuts and added just a touch more cayenne. Be sure to watch Martha’s video for the technique.

Spicy Caramel Popcorn with mixed nuts

Spicy, sweet, salty, crunchy … what’s not to love?

Spicy Caramel Popcorn with Mixed Nuts

4 quarts popped popcorn (about 1/2 cup unpopped kernels)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon (slightly  heaping) cayenne pepper
1 cup salted mixed nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, walnuts, … your favorite mix)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pop the popcorn – use your favorite method. Spread out evenly on two half-sheet pans lined with silicone baking mats. Set aside.

Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir until well blended then add the corn syrup and stir to blend well. Cook on medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture turns golden brown. Stir in the salt and cayenne pepper. Add the nuts and stir to coat evenly. Pour this mixture over the popcorn and use a heat proof plastic spatula that’s been sprayed with a bit of non-stick spray to gently toss the popcorn with the syrup mixture.

The caramel mixture will be very hot – please be careful!

Bake for about 30 minutes, carefully turning and mixing with the spatula about halfway through. You want a nice, even coating of caramel on the popcorn and nuts.

Allow to cool, then gently break apart into bite sized pieces.

This recipe has officially become part of my Christmas recipe repertoire. I’ll be making this again … probably at least once before Christmas because I know a few on my gift list will want some of this!

Happy Friday!

Friday, December 11th, 2015

Good Morning and Happy Friday. Are you looking forward to the weekend as much as I am? It’s looking like Saturday in the Davis area will be great for cycling, but Sunday’s weather, not so much. Winds are predicted to be in the 23-mph range. Yikes! No, thank  you. 

I am especially looking forward to cycling this weekend as I have not been on my bike for about 2 weeks and that is simply too long.

Bike ornaments, of course!

Bike ornaments, of course!

How could I resist?

How could I resist?

Here’s wishing you an awesome Friday!

It Balances Out

Monday, December 7th, 2015

If you eat like this most of the time …

Fresh Wild Rock Cod with stir-steamed veggies.

Fresh Wild Pacific Rockfish with stir-steamed veggies.

Veggies! Lots and lots of veggies!

… and just a little bit of this … 

Holiday Treats

Holiday Treats – homemade, of course!

Then it all balances out in the end.

Just remember … if you’re going to treat yourself and splurge on goodies, splurge well. Enjoy homemade, real treats. Use real ingredients. And be sure to enjoy every delicious morsel to the fullest. That is how you can splurge and be satisfied with just a bit and survive the holiday season without gaining a bunch of weight.

Oh, and cycling lots helps!

For recipes to these yummy treats, see my previous blog post.

A Little Holiday Baking

Monday, December 7th, 2015

So, these happened today. Let the holiday gift prep begin. Have you been naughty, or nice?

Rosemary Roasted Cashews

Rosemary Roasted Cashews

Spiced Nuts

Sweet, Salty, Spicy Nuts

Peppermint Biscotti

Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies & Peppermint Biscotti

Classic Shortbread

Classic Shortbread

For the recipes, see:

Rosemary Roasted Cashews

Sweet, Salty, Spicy Party Nuts

Peppermint Biscotti

Shortbread Cookies

The Butterscotch Chocolate Chip cookie recipe is still in testing and I’m not quite ready to share it.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Monday, November 30th, 2015

I cooked a heart healthy Thanksgiving dinner for my mom and sister this year.

  • Pork Tenderloin, marinated in fresh rosemary, thyme, olive oil, a splash of white wine
  • Roasted Yams & Carrots
  • Roasted Asparagus
  • Steamed Haricot Verts
Heart healthy, comforting, and delicious!

Heart healthy, comforting, and delicious!

I did not get to ride on Thanksgiving (the first time in 10 years!), but I did get a few walks in throughout the day. The weather was crisp and clear, and the light was bright and cheery.

This burst of color caught my eye.

This burst of color caught my eye.

112715 am walks (11.1)

Strolling along a creek side path in Santa Rosa..

Alas, the Holiday weekend comes to an end and I’ve got to head back to work. Now the count down to Christmas break begins! More blogs soon. I’ve got a few new recipes to post.