Archive for the ‘Meat’ Category

Espresso Marinated Lamb … and leftovers

Friday, October 28th, 2016

I had a hankering for some lamb recently and found a reasonably priced cut at my favorite local store. I made a “rub” of instant espresso, fresh rosemary (from my garden!), and a little kosher salt. I covered both sides with the mixture and let it marinate in the refrigerator for a day (or two). Just before cooking it, I gave it a healthy sprinkling of fennel seeds then cooked it to perfection in a hot cast iron skillet. (Remember to let meat rest about 5-10 minutes before cutting it.)


Espresso Marinated Lamb

It was a fairly small piece, but lamb can be quite rich, so a little goes a long way. Dinner tonight was steamed spinach and about half of the lamb. Oh, it was so good.

Hmm … what to do with leftover lamb … here’s an idea… 

Salad Greens, Espresso & Rosemary Marinated Lamb, Pomegranate, Fuyu Persimmon, Walnuts, Pecans, Dried Cranberry, Feta Cheese … and a splash of Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Balsamic Glaze.

Salad Greens, Espresso & Rosemary Marinated Lamb, Pomegranate, Fuyu Persimmon, Walnuts, Pecans, Dried Cranberry, Feta Cheese ... and a splash of Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Balsamic Glaze. Oh, my!

Lunch is all packed for tomorrow!

Don’t you wish you could join me? Yes, you do.

Tropical Salsa

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Two (of the many!) things I loved about visiting Hawaii were the fruits and fresh fish. Here is a way to celebrate them both. Aloha!

Tropical Salsa

1 pineapple
1 Hawaiian papaya
1 mango
1 red onion
1-2 handfuls of fresh cilantro leaves
juice of 1-2 limes
salt & pepper to taste

Fresh Hawaiian Papaya

Fresh Hawaiian Papaya

Fresh Hawaiian Mango

Fresh Hawaiian Mango

Tropical Salsa

Tropical Salsa

Rinse the cilantro leaves in cool water and set aside to drain on a towel. Clean and prepare the fruit and onion for chopping.

To cut the pineapple, start by cutting off the crown (top) and the stem end (bottom). You’ll want to use a sharp knife and have a stable base to cut on – pineapples are juicy and can get slippery when you’re cutting them. Stand the pineapple up on one end, then cut the skin off the sides, cutting from top to bottom. Then, cut it into 1/2-inch slabs or slices, then into 1/2-inch or so chunks from there. Place into a large mixing bowl.

To cut the mango, slice in half by inserting a sharp paring knife into the stem end. You’ll want to make sure you’re cutting around the pit. Slice off one side, then the other. Using either a peeler or a paring knife, remove the skin. Then, cut the mango into 1/2-inch or so chunks. Add to the pineapple.

To cut the papaya, slice it in half lengthwise, remove and discard the seeds. Using either a peeler or a paring knife, remove the skin. Then, cut the papaya into 1/2-inch or so chunks. Add to the pineapple and mango.

Chop the red onion into about 1/4-inch chunks. Add to the fruit.

Chop the fresh cilantro and add to the fruit and onion. Add the lime juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

I like to let it sit a little before serving (up to about 30 minutes), but it’s great right away. It also keeps in the refrigerator for a day or two.

If you like it spicy … a Serrano chili or two is fantastic with this.

Here are a few serving suggestions …

Topical Salsa with Grilled Fresh Broadfin Swordfish

Topical Salsa with Grilled Fresh Fish

Tropical Salsa with Huli Huli Chicken

Tropical Salsa with Huli Huli Chicken … this salsa had a bit of Serrano Chili



Cycling the “Davis Hills” Today!

Monday, February 1st, 2016

It was a pretty breezy day today, with 20+mph winds on my ride. As you may recall from previous posts, in these here parts we call these winds the “Davis Hills.” I managed to get in over 43 miles total: 14 solo and 29 with my cycling partner. Most of the ride there was either a brutal head wind or side wind. Oh, but for a few miles there was a very sweet tail wind!

Saturday was a much better day weather-wise for cycling, but I had other commitments, so I only got about 15 miles in. Oh, but it felt soo good! I have not been getting nearly enough cycling in and the trainer has proven to be more difficult to get situated than expected. Tomorrow morning will be my first ride on the trainer.

Between Davis and Woodland, off Road 27.

We had some very dramatic clouds this weekend – this was Saturday.

This morning I made a scramble with loads of wild mushrooms, some fresh stir fry greens, chicken Andouille sausage, eggs, and just a touch of light Irish cheddar cheese.

Wild Mushrooms, Chicken Andouille Sausage, and Greens

Wild Mushrooms, Chicken Andouille Sausage, and Greens ready for the scramble.


013116 Mushroom, Greens, Chicken Andouille Scramble (26)

Served with some fresh fruit, whole grain toast … this will power you through those headwinds!

With the recent cold, rainy weather, I’ve been playing with some serious comfort food … this was last weekend …

Espresso & Stout Lamb Stew served with Colcannon - perfect on a cold, rainy night!

Espresso & Stout Lamb Stew served with Colcannon – perfect on a cold night!

If you haven’t tried Colcannon, consider making some. It’s basically perfect mashed potatoes with some lightly steamed fresh greens mixed in. A little milk, butter, and garlic if you want. I used Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed and steamed in just enough water so that by the time the potatoes were done most of the excess water had evaporated. Add a splash of hot milk and a pat of Irish butter and whip together with a wooden spoon to make perfect mashed potatoes, then fold in some gently steamed mixed greens (baby kale, spinach, and chard), salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy! Here’s wishing you many happy and healthy miles!


A Glorious Day for a Ride

Monday, January 25th, 2016

Yesterday was cold, wet, and windy. Today was glorious. The air was clean and fresh, the sun was warm, and the breeze was gentle. It was perfect weather for an afternoon ride. Overall, this was a pretty good weekend!

I enjoyed a rare trip to the Davis Farmer’s Market.

Romanesco Broccoli ... something about the light at this display really caught my eye.

Romanesco Broccoli … something about the light here really caught my eye.

I had a craving for lamb, so I picked up a nice piece at my local Costco. I marinated it in some coffee, herbs, red wine, and balsamic vinegar. I cooked a bit of it last night and served it with spinach fettuccine, a rustic charred heirloom tomato sauce, and wild mushrooms.

Rustic Lamb Hunter-Style Pasta Dish ... what would you call this? It was amazing. The photo does not even begin to do it justice.

Rustic Lamb Hunter-Style Pasta Dish … what would you call this? It was amazing.

The photo does not even begin to do this dish justice. If I may say so myself, it truly was at least as good as any dish I’ve had in any restaurant.

The rest of the lamb marinated overnight and is now in a pot of Irish Lamb Stew made with Stout and Coffee. It smells delicious. I’ll be serving it shortly on a bed of Colcannon (simply smashed Yukon Gold potatoes with some baby kale mixed in). Photos to follow.


Peru – El Mercado

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

Umm ... Dorothy, we're not in HAACP country anymore.

While in Lima, Peru, I visited one of the markets. I’ve never experienced a market like this and let’s just say that it’s probably a good thing that I did this late in my visit. I’m a bit of a food safety fanatic, and I just don’t even want to think about how many HAACP violations I saw at this market. Had I gone to a market like this near the beginning of my visit, I don’t know that I would have been able to eat anything except heavily processed foods, or produce that I washed myself with bottled water.

If you’ve seen the first Sex and the City movie, you’ll know what I mean when I say that I wasn’t as bad as Charlotte, but I had some food safety concerns while I was traveling in Peru. If you haven’t seen the move, check out this clip and then you’ll know what I mean. I wasn’t this extreme, but I was cautious. I read all of the CDC food safety precautions and tried to follow them responsibly.

Let’s tour this market together. The produce was bountiful and beautiful.

Produce of all kinds

Loads of fresh fruits.

Peruvian limes ...

Peruvian limes (limóns) are a  key ingredient in ceviche. These limes are highly acidic and have a distinct, strong flavor.


Peruvian Cherries ...

Peru is famous for its potatoes (papas). There are about 3,800 different varieties of potatoes in Peru. You could eat a different type of potato with every meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and it would take about 3 1/2 years to try every variety. That’s a lot of potatoes! That will get you carbed up for some serious cycling or hiking.

Peruvian Cherries have been cultivated since Inca times. They also grow wild at high altitudes. I’ve had these a long time ago and they were introduced to me in California as “ground cherries.” I remember them having sort of a funky taste to me.

So, that was the kinda’ safe stuff at the market … now we’ll look at what made my inner ServSafe nerd recoil a bit … OK, a lot.

Chickens ...

... more chickens ...

Meat ...

More meat ...

I don’t even want to think about how many HAACP violations there are in these displays. Raw meat and poultry out in the open? Dripping juices on the floor … umm …

... more meat ...

Seafood ...

... more seafood ...

... more seafood ...

At least the seafood was iced. Most of the meat and/or poultry was not refrigerated and it was just out in the open for anyone to touch, to sneeze on, to … well, potentially contaminate.

This was truly an experience out of the ordinary for me. I love markets. I love food shopping, sampling, and trying new culinary adventures. That said, I’m also very aware of food safety.

It was pointed out to me on my last day in Lima, as we were finishing another lovely meal, that most of the restaurants in Lima probably shop at that market.

Sigh … it was a really cool cultural experience, but like I said … I’m glad to see a market like this towards the end of my trip and not the start.

Challenge: Day 8

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

I’ll have to do this later today, but here’s Day 8 Dinner …

Remember that piece of beef I was marinating? Here it is!

Coffee-Marinated Steak with Heirloom Red Spinach and Crimini Mushrooms

I marinated a small piece of beef in a little coffee, balsamic vinegar, and Herbs de Provence. It had very nice flavor.

The Red Heirloom Spinach was interesting. I’m trying it in a salad today for lunch, with a little of the leftover beef, some fresh mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and a light espresso-balsamic vinaigrette.

Totals for the day:

* 3 1/2 cups vegetables
* 1 cup fruit
* 3 cups protein
* 1 cups carbs
* 2 T healthy cheese (“light”)
* 1 T dressing (homemade marinade)
* 2 tablespoons nuts

Must run! Work, work, work!

Challenge: Day 2

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Today’s Challenge was, shall we say, a bit more challenging?

I was hungry today. I was super hungry when I got home from work. My hope was to get to the gym in time for the spin class, but thanks to commute traffic and leaving work late, I missed the class by about 10 minutes. Instead, I tried 4 different aerobic machines at the gym tonight, did one easy set on the lateral pull down, and some stretching.

Today’s Menu

Breakfast (8am): 1 package TJ’s Steel Cut Oats & Quinoa
Snack (10:30am) : 1 cup carrots
Lunch (about noon): 1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup frozen cherries, 2 tablespoons chopped pecans, 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
Snack (about 3pm): 1/2 cup chicken salad (made with non-fat Greek yogurt) & 1 cup cherry tomatoes (counting as fruit today)
Post-work out while cooking snack (about 8pm): 1 Baby Bel light cheese
Dinner (about 8:30pm): 1 cup skinless chicken breast (marinated in a white balsamic vinaigrette) and a drizzle of balsamic glaze, 2 cups steamed veggies (asparagus & green beans)
Daily cheat (with dinner): 1 glass red wine

So I figure this is about
* 3 cups vegetables
* 1 1/2 cups fruit
* 2 1/2 cups protein
* 1 cup carbs
* 1/8 cup healthy cheese (“light”)
* 2 tablespoons dressing
* 2 tablespoons nuts

I’m now enjoying a cup of mint tea with just a touch of honey after dinner. This satisfies my post-dinner sweet tooth.

I now feel completely satisfied food-wise – even after a 90-minute workout. I admit it was a light workout, I didn’t push too much, but I worked out.

Steamed Asparagus & Green Beans (2 cups)

Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast Marinated in a White Balsamic Vinaigrette

Early this morning I marinated 2 large chicken breasts in about 2 tablespoons of a prepared White Balsamic Vinaigrette. I cut each breast onto 2-3 smaller pieces (for quicker cooking). These two cooked breasts worked out to be about 3 cups of chicken chunks. This is perfect, because leftovers will be critical in my being able to keep up with food prep for this Challenge. I don’t like processed foods, so I’ll want to cook pretty much everything from scratch. That will be one of my CyclingFoodie twists on this Challenge.

To prepare the chicken – I simply cooked the pieces of chicken breast in the marinade in a non-stick pan for about 25 minutes. First on high heat, brown both side of the chicken. Then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook about 20 minutes until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and tender. If you find there is a lot of liquid in the pan, you can reduce it a bit to make a little sauce. If you want to get fancy, you could deglaze the pan with a splash or two of white wine and make a very light sauce by reducing that. That would be a nice touch … maybe I’ll try that next time. I added a touch of balsamic glaze while I was reducing the residual liquid in the pan. That added a nice depth of flavor.

You can eat light and healthy, and still have lots of great flavor. I am lucky – I never really liked rich, heavy, creamy sauces. However, I do like flavorful and well-seasoned food.

While the chicken was cooking, I cleaned, trimmed, and lightly steamed my vegetables.

To serve, place the hot vegetables in a nice bowl, top with 1 cup of the chopped chicken, and drizzle with a bit of balsamic glaze. Season with a bit of salt and pepper, if desired.


March Madness, Days 8 & 9

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Day 8 … 81 miles – Davis, Winters, Vacaville, Winters, Davis.

Day 9 … 21.1 miles – an easy loop from Davis to Woodland and back.

Saturday, March 8th

I rode pretty hard, enjoying the rollers between Winters and Vacaville on Pleasants Valley Road. I really need to build up to hills again, so this is great practice. I love cycling Pleasants Valley Road – it’s beautiful, rolling hills, and usually it’s pretty well protected from wind when it gets very breezy. Yesterday the weather was perfect for cycling – not too cool, not too warm, not too breezy, not too sunny, not too cloudy. It was just about perfect.

I had a couple of quick rest stops at Steady Eddy’s in Winters. My first stop was just for water and a couple of Sports Beans, then I headed back out on Putah Creek Road with the intent of doing just my Lake Solano loop, but I was feeling so good when I got to turn, that I headed out Pleasants Valley towards Vacaville. Traffic was light (always nice when you’re cycling!) and there were quite a few other cyclists out (also very nice when you’re cycling) enjoying the day. I road out to Vaca Valley Road, then turned around to head back. I hadn’t really planned on this long of a ride and got kind of a late start in the morning, so I didn’t want to risk not getting back at a decent time. I was focused on cycling, so I didn’t stop to take any photos, but it was glorious out there!

Oat Cake - this will get you through a few miles

On my way back through Winters, I stopped again at Steady Eddy’s for a snack. I am quite happy to report that they do still have oat cakes. I filled up on water, half the oat cake, and headed back out. I chatted briefly with a group who was also headed back towards Davis. They were from Davis and Sacramento. I took off a few moments before they did, but they caught up quickly and then invited to to join them. They pulled me all the way down Putah Creek Road. It was nice! It was work to keep up, but it was worth it. I’m not sure what the correct cycling lingo is, but they were steady riders and rode in a straight line, not wambling all over the place, so I felt safe trying to draft off them.

By the time I got home, I had hit 75 miles. I needed some more water and was hungry again, so I filled up with water at home and snacked on the rest of my oat cake. I wanted to do a few more miles and my legs were feeling a bit tight, so I did a little loop just to spin and loosen up my legs. My total for the day was 81 miles. I made some good progress on my March Madness and training for my 2014 Napa Valley Tour de Cure. I felt good about that.

I was pretty hungry last night, and must confess to having a total “guy” dinner.

Steak and baked potato.



Of course, my steak was a lean cut and my potato had a little light Havarti cheese & fat free Greek yogurt, so it was really not too bad. Lots of protein and that’s what I needed. My eyes were bigger than my stomach, though. I had about half the potato and about 2/3 of the steak. I was going to have salad, but I was too full.

Sunday, March 9th

This morning a gentle recovery ride was in order. It was a beautiful morning for cycling – the air was deliciously clean and cool, very little breeze, with a nice cloud cover. I headed out towards Woodland, Road 102 to Road 25, then looped back Road 103, and back towards Davis.

Looking towards Sacramento

Looking towards Winters


I have spent the rest of the day …

Hanging with Tiger

Admiring my lavender.

Smelling the roses.

Checking other blooms

... and more blooms ...

Checking for a 4-leaf clover

Making a few new friends …

Luck be a lady tonight!

These ladies were very active ...

... exploring ...

... trying to hide ...

Camera shy?

Very happy for these visitors.

Oh, yeah, and a bunch of chores in there, too, not just play. I should probably get back to a few of those things that really need to get done today.

The rains are supposed to start again tomorrow, so I’ll pack up for the gym in the morning just in case. But if it’s nice … I’ll be … oh wait … time change … sunrise at 7:26 am? I’ll be at the gym in the morning, but maybe I’ll get to ride tomorrow after work!







Chicken & Tomatillo Stew

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

One of my favorite rainy weather recipes is a Pork and Tomatillo Stew. Similar to a Chili Verde, it is rich and satisfying, but with the pork shoulder (or butt) it’s pretty high in fat. I am craving this flavor, but I want to try to lighten it up a bit.

I contemplated using a different, more lean cut of pork, but I think the only one that would produce a decently tender result would be pork tenderloin. I’m sure it would be wonderful, and someday I will try it when I find it on a super sale, but it felt a little pricey for tonight.

My favorite local market in Davis, Nugget Market, had their free range whole fryer chicken on sale, so I was inspired to try this. One of the guys in the meat department (I am kicking myself for not asking his name because his service was so amazing that I would love to call the store management to tell them this) not only did he take the time to chat with me about what meats might make a reasonable substitute to lighten up my recipe, when I settled on a whole chicken he offered to cut it up for me. Really? I love this store. I am perfectly capable of cutting up a chicken on my own, but it was really nice have it done for me. That gave me a few extra minutes to do other stuff this evening. So, thank you!

Chicken and Tomatillo Stew

One whole chicken, about 4 to 5 pounds
2 tablespoons oil
1 to 1/2 pounds fresh tomatillos
1 bunch green onions
2 cloves fresh garlic
3 or more serrano chiles (how hot do you want it?)
1 red onion, diced
1 7-ounce can green chiles
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bunch fresh cilantro, cleaned and trimmed
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cut the chicken into pieces – you will use the drumsticks, thighs, and breasts for this recipe. Reserve the wings, back, and rib bones for stock. Alternatively, you can just use about 4 pounds of bone-in chicken thighs and/or drumsticks, or about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds of boneless chicken breast, or a combination of both. Remove the skin and discard. Cut the breast meat into about 3/4-inch cubes and set aside.

Prepare the tomatillos: remove the husks and discard; rinse and drain the tomatillos. Place in a roasting pan.

Prepare the serranos*: trim the stems and place in the roasting pan with the tomatillos.

Tomatillos, serranos, green onions, & garlic

*How hot do you want this dish? I like it pretty hot, so I use lots of serranos, but I seed all of them. I like the flavor of this pepper, but not the seed.  I always wear gloves whenever handling hot peppers. To seed serranos, you’ll want to remove the stem, then cut them lengthwise in half. Using your finger, remove the seeds and discard.

Prepare the green onions: trim the ends and peel the outer layer. Trim off any of the dark green end that doesn’t look good. This is very subjective, but you will know when you look at the green onions you have. Add to the roasting pan with the tomatillos.

Peel the garlic and add to the roasting pan with the tomatillos.

Place the tomatillos, serranos, green onions, and garlic in the preheated oven and roast until lightly charred. Depending on your oven, you may want to broil these, or even better use your grill to roast them. If you use your grill, you’ll probably want to use a disposable pan.

Brown the drumsticks and thighs

While the tomatillos are roasting:

Rinse the cilantro and set aside to drain.

Heat about 1 tablespoon of the oil in a heavy stock pot. Brown the chicken legs on each side, then remove from the pan. Add the breast meat – depending on the size of your stock pot, you’ll probably want to do this in two additions, adding a little oil (if necessary) between additions. Brown lightly and remove from the pan.

Check on the tomatillos – if they’re ready, remove them from the oven. You’ll want them to cool a bit before putting them in your blender to process.

Foodie confession … I once melted a KitchenAid blender because I did not allow the tomatillos to cool before processing. Please don’t do this – learn from my (expensive) mistake.

If necessary, add a little more oil to the pan, then add the onions and saute until softened.

Cube the chicken breast

Chop the red onion

Briefly saute the chicken


While the onions are cooking, blend the tomatillos, green onion, serranos, and cilantro until smooth.

Return chicken to the pot, then add the blended tomatillo mixture. Give a good stir, but remember that you’ll want the bone-in pieces of chicken (legs & things) to be completely submerged so that they cook fully. Add the dried thyme. Allow to gently simmer for about an hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the tomatillo mixture

Give a good stir

I like to serve this over brown rice with warm, fresh tortillas.

This also makes a fantastic topping for a quesadilla or burrito filling.

A dollop of plain fat free Greek yogurt will help to cool the heat if you accidentally make it too spicy for you. It may take a few tries to get just the right heat level for you.



Super Healthy, Super Light

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

Dinner ... what's on your plate?

We had another gorgeous morning in Davis for a pre-work ride. Tomorrow and Sunday both look promising for some great cycling weather, too!

I’ve been super hungry all day after my morning ride, but I want to eat a little lighter right now because I feel like there has been too much foodie and not enough cycling lately. It’s time to reverse that trend and get back on track training for my 2014 Napa Valley Tour de Cure.

Are you hungry, but want a low-calorie and healthy dinner entree? Try this – it’s a generous portion, about 20 grams of protein, and only about 260 calories.

Sautéed Greens, Shiitake Mushrooms, and Chicken Apple Sausage
~ One serving ~

1 teaspoon avocado oil
3.5 ounces shiitake mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
1 3-ounce smoked chicken apple sausage, sliced into about 1/8-inch thick slices
5 ounces cooking greens (spinach, kale, chard), cleaned and spun dry

  1. Heat oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers.
  2. Add sliced mushrooms and saute, browning slightly.
  3. Add sausage and cook to heat through.
  4. Add greens, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and allow to steam until the greens are wilted and tender.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

This has about 260 calories:
Oil = 40
Mushrooms = 35
Sausage = 140
Greens = 45

Enjoy! Here’s hoping you get some great cycling in this weekend!