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Greek Inspired Leftover Salad

I don’t know what my problem is.  I have been an “empty nester” for several years now.  My husband travels every week.  And yet, I still buy too much food!  I can’t help myself.  I love to grocery shop.  But I don’t like having to run out and pick up a few items last minute when I want to throw together dinner.  So I usually stock up on way too many vegetables, then throw a bunch away when they get yucky.  This afternoon my husband and I were sitting in the backyard pondering what we should have with the grilled lamb chops we planned on making for dinner tonight.  I really wanted some artichokes or asparagus but I didn’t have any.  And since we won’t be home for dinner for the next couple days, I didn’t want to run out and buy more food at the store.  It was time to use up what we already had.

Food challenge of the day:  Make something up from cleaning out the fridge!

I found a zucchini, some baby potatoes, baby carrots, half a jar of Hearts of Palm, some Kalamata olives, some grape tomatoes that were starting to shrivel (but still edible!), a few random scallions, red bell pepper, some parsley and basil and a tub of feta cheese.  All that sounded a little Greek to me so I set about making a Greek inspired side dish/salad.

I cut up the potatoes, carrots, red bell pepper and zucchini, tossed them in some Meyer Lemon Olive Oil and Cavender’s Greek Seasoning and roasted them at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  While the vegetables were roasting, I sliced the Hearts of Palm, cut the olives and tomatoes in half, sliced the scallions and chopped the herbs.  I also had some oregano outside in a pot so I chopped up some of that too.

When the vegetables finished roasting I let them cool, added them to a bowl with the other ingredients, tossed in the feta cheese and some toasted pine nuts I had in the freezer.  I also added a little bit (about 2 tablespoons) of some greek salad dressing I had in the fridge.

Result:  SUCCESS!  And it’s nice to know I used up some veggies that otherwise would probably have gone in the trash in a couple of days.

Stay tuned…. up next the very best grilled lamp chops ever!

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Training for a Warrior Dash

Well it’s official.  I’m entered in the Warrior Dash on August 24th at the urging of my friend Joyce.  For those wondering what a Warrior Dash is, you can check it out here.  We have a group of women doing this, so I thought why not?  I’ve never had a desire to do one of these types of races, but then again, I never really had a desire to do the San Diego Rock & Roll Marathon or the La Jolla Half Marathon either.  But I did them both (mostly walking) at the urging of my BFF Lyssa and now I can put a check in the box.  Unfortunately, since I moved away from San Diego 2 years ago I don’t seem to enjoy working out as much as I used to.  It’s hot and humid here in the summer and freezing and windy in the winter.  I prefer walking at the beach, Torrey Pines and  La Jolla Cove are my favorites.

The view from a walk in La Jolla, CA

The view from a walk in La Jolla, CA

I even use to walk from La Jolla Cove to my house in Point Loma frequently (13.2 miles).  Since I’m a fair weather girl it takes a lot of motivation to get me out for a walk when the weather conditions aren’t so great.  Result:  I’m not really in the best shape for this kind of race.

 

Who really wants to go out to exercise when you have to dress like this?

Who really wants to go out to exercise when you have to dress like this?

So it’s time to start a little training for the event. While I can walk (pretty fast) for miles without a problem, I have no upper body strength at all.  I hate lifting weights for upper body and I detest push ups the most!  Pull ups?  Forget about it.  Never have I ever been able to do one in my life, even when I did gymnastics in high school (and threw the discus).  If you look at the race details, this is an obstacle course.  With lots of running, jumping, climbing, and getting dirty.  I THINK I’M GONNA DIE!  But I have a plan, sort of.  I have an app on my phone to train for a 5K (5K Runner) and a trainer at the gym that’s giving us girls a couple work out programs.  One is an obstacle course fitness program and the other is an upper body weight workout.

So here’s what I’ve done this week:

MONDAY:   Week 2, Day 1 of the 5K Runner.  I figured I was in good enough shape to skip the first week.   This included a 5 min. warm up walk, then 1.5 run, 2 min walk, repeated 4 times, then 1 min run, 1 min walk, repeated twice and a 5 minute cool down.  But that seemed too easy and only got me to the front gate here on base so I did it again on the way back home.

TUESDAY:  Obstacle course workout.  Basically it’s a 5-8 minute warm up  Then jog on the treadmill 2 mins, then 1 min. of an “obstacle” like the dreaded pushups, or mountain climbers, or broken table, there’s a whole list to choose from), then 2 min. on treadmill, 1 min. obstacle (different from first), 2 mins treadmill, 1 min. obstacle (different from first and second).  Then repeat the cycle for 2 more times.  I only jogged at 5.5, 5.8, then 6.0 which was fairly easy…in fact I thought the whole workout wasn’t too hard (except for push ups!)  Guess I’ll have to push myself harder next time.

WEDNESDAY:  Walked/jogged around the base with a friend.  6 miles.  Guessing I only jogged maybe a total of 2 miles???

THURSDAY:  Upper body weight workout.  Can’t remember everything on the list.  I think my mind conveniently blocks out painful things.  My shoulders were sore then next day!  In the evening I was bored and hungry so I went for a 4 mile walk.

FRIDAY:  Walked/jogged.  Downloaded Map My Run on my phone.  It says I went 3.94 miles in 48.18 minutes.  Average 12.15 pace. 439 calories burned.

SATURDAY:  Walked around the base with a friend, 6 miles.  Now here’s what’s interesting.  I must have done something wrong because the Map My Run said I went 7.52 miles in 1:37.14.  Average 12.56 pace. 783 calories burned.  I know for a fact it’s not a 7.5 mile course so I don’t trust this thing!

Sorry if all this is a little boring, but putting it out there in cyberspace just might be the only thing to keep me going… especially when the heat and humidity hits full tilt boogie!

Grapefruit Martini

It’s Hump Day Happy Hour time!

I had two lonely pink grapefruits sitting in my fruit bowl for awhile and I never quite decided what to do with them.  Well, it was happy hour time, and I had a couple friends over, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try out a new martini.  I had scribbled down a recipe that sounded delicious from Liv Life’s blog that I came across earlier in the week and now was the perfect time to give it a try.  Boy am I glad I did!  It was quite refreshing…and not too sweet.  If you prefer a little more sweetness to your flavored martinis, just add a splash of simple syrup.  I tried it with and without a splash and I liked it best with a little simple syrup.  One friend preferred it without.  So it’s really just a matter of personal preferences, and the sweetness of your grapefruit.  The recipe on the blog also gives proportions to make a pitcher which I think would be ideal if your are making this for several people.

GrapefruitMartini

GRAPEFRUIT MARTINI

1 1/2 oz. Vodka

1/2 oz. Limoncello

2 oz. fresh squeezed pink grapefruit juice

1/2 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice

Optional:  splash of simple syrup

Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well.  Strain into a chilled martini glass and enjoy!

 

Watermelon Salad

I still had some leftover watermelon from my Watermelon Gazpacho (and my Watermelon Martini) so it was time to make a Watermelon Salad to go with my husband’s famous rotisserie chicken he makes on the grill.  I tell you guys, he makes the BEST chicken ever!!!  All he does is smother it with a bunch of Old Bay Seasoning, garlic powder, seasoned salt or whatever other spices he decides to shake on the chicken and it turns out perfect every single time.  It must be all the love and attention he pays to the grill while it’s cooking.  And he never overcooks it!  You know what I mean, all those people who think chicken has to be cooked so long so they don’t get sick that you practically end up with chicken jerky.  Well I’m here to say that I have yet to get sick off any of his chickens and he takes it off the grill at no more than 160, maybe even 158 and lets it sit a bit.  Perfection!!!

Mark checking on his chickens

Mark checking on his chickens

Okay, so back to the watermelon salad…

Now I know what you’re thinking…this recipe is nothing new, you’ve seen it around before.  Well, you’re probably right.  I’ve been making this salad for several years now and I was told how to make it by my dear friend, Therese.  She’s a fabulous cook by the way.  I’m sure the internet is full of Watermelon Salad recipes, but I’ve never searched for a recipe because how Therese told me to make it was awesome enough for me.  I think some people may be skeptical at first…”Feta with Watermelon?” but it really is a tasty combination.  Adding the mint and lime juice makes it a perfect summer salad when you want something a little more fancy than just watermelon chunks.  And, your guests will love it too, trust me on this one.

A perfect summer salad

A perfect summer salad

WATERMELON SALAD WITH MINT AND LIME

1/2 Watermelon, cut into bite sized chunks

1/4 c. chopped Mint

1 Lime, juiced

1/2 c. crumbled Feta cheese

Cut up watermelon into bite sized chunks and put in a bowl and let it sit in the fridge for several hours (you could do this in the morning even).  This will let the water seep out of the watermelon and is very important so it’s not soggy.  Prior to preparing and serving the salad, drain excess water.  Add a bunch of chopped mint and lime juice to taste.  Toss in crumbled Feta cheese and voila, your done!  It’s delicious!

*It should be noted that I don’t really measure the ingredients for this salad, just go more by looks and taste. But these proportions should be a good starting point.  It’s very forgiving so you really can’t go wrong!

My Dad

I know most people will claim they have the best father in the world today on Father’s Day.  Just look at your Facebook news feed for proof!  But take it from me, I really do have the best father in the world (sorry folks).  With so many wonderful qualities too numerous to count, I thought I’d touch on a few that are pretty high on my list.

First and foremost, I admire his integrity.  If my own boys have a fraction of his integrity they will turn out to be good men.  And while that integrity might make him seem a little too “conservative” sometimes, I admire and respect that he stands by his convictions.  But that’s not to say he’s close minded when it counts!

He loves unconditionally…his wife, his children, his grandchildren, all of his family.  And he’s a good listener with good common sense.  Over the years he’s had to hear about all my trials and tribulations, usually they had to do with kid issues, and I always knew what he would say.  I just wish I had taken his advice more often, it would have made things a lot easier because he is a very wise man!  I could gush on and on about all the wonderful qualities my dad has, honest, loyal, supportive, to name just a few more, but I think it’s also fun to point out some of the quirkier qualities that make me smile.

Yesterday, while I was Skyping with my mom, I asked what dad was up to. He was sitting across from her on his computer working on organizing his pictures on Flickr.  Sounds harmless enough…until he piped in and told me he has 11,612 pictures on Flickr!   He had spent several days organizing all their photos into 228 sets.  Which, by the way, I think is awesome.  Now I can go on Flickr and find all the photos I want, old family photos, even family I don’t remember or never met, to current day.  Yes, most of the photos are from their travels all over the world…luckily they’re in individual sets so I don’t have to scroll through all of them – you know how boring it is to look at other people’s travel pics.  About 20 are good, then I lose interest.  And he also makes photo books for everything.  Next time he’s here for a few days, I told him I’m putting him to work organizing all my photos and making me a couple of photo books!

He’s also pretty creative.  Way back when, I use to call him a “clever little shit” just because he’d always figure out a way to make something work.  When I was little I did gymnastics, so he made me a balance beam for the garage.  When I was even younger, he made me fake crutches so I could hobble around and pretend I broke a leg (I think I might have needed a little attention at the time).  You got wires you don’t want to see?  He has a solution!  Our latest creative adventure together was this past spring when I was trying to make some custom shelving for the wet bar in our condo out in LA.  I had this great idea of  3 floating shelves with steel rods going through holes in each one to make it look like they were suspended from the ceiling.  We search all over Scottsdale (that’s where they live) for options for those darn rods…finally finding a metal shop to cut some for us.  I packed them up in the car, so excited to hang this awesome creation, only to discover once the counters were installed we couldn’t get the 36″ rods run through the shelves.  Oh well, not every idea works 😦

My dad also thinks he likes his food a certain way and you can’t change it.  When we were young he would always make Sunday breakfast.  So when I was older, we were making hash browns and I said “Dad, lets put some onions and peppers in there” and of course his answer was something to the effect he thought it would ruin it.  Well, guess how he makes his hash browns now?  I also have to make cinnamon rolls every Christmas.  So this past year I glazed half of them with regular glaze, but thought I’d shake it up a bit with some cream cheese glaze over the other half.  I offered the new creation to my dad and I bet you can guess which one he chose.  Yup the regular one.  But when he went back for another, he had the cream cheese glazed one and declared it a success.   So I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks!  Although I’m still trying to get him to use bigger pieces of lettuce in his salad (he practically shreds it!).

I could go on and on…but I won’t.  I’m sure this is starting get just like looking at other people’s trip pics.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY DAD…I LOVE YOU!!!!!

Watermelon Gazpacho

A delicious summertime soup!

A delicious summertime soup!

Today’s kitchen creation is not a new recipe to me.  I’ve made this soup a few times when I have a big ol’ watermelon and want something other than just a slice of watermelon.   I can’t claim the recipe to be one of my own, I got it off the internet (which is where I get most recipes) and it’s quite delicious.  I didn’t even tweak it a bit!  I used only half of my watermelon so I’m guessing there will be another watermelon recipe posted soon.

Watermelon, English Cucumber, Orange Bell Pepper, Basil, Parsley, Shallot, Lime, Red Wine Vinegar, Olive Oil, Tabasco, Salt & Pepper are the ingredients that make this delicious soup

Watermelon, English Cucumber, Orange Bell Pepper, Basil, Parsley, Shallot, Lime, Red Wine Vinegar, Olive Oil, Tabasco, Salt & Pepper are the ingredients that make this delicious soup

Add chopped ingredients to a big bowl, then blend with an immersion blender

Add chopped ingredients to a big bowl, then blend with an immersion blender

I encourage you to try it!  For the complete recipe, please click the link below…and while you’re there, check out her other recipes.  They all look delicious!

http://www.soupchick.com/2010/06/recipe-for-watermelon-gazpacho.html

Watermelon Mint Martini

Since I have leftover watermelon from my watermelon gazpacho, and because it is a Saturday night after all, I thought I’d make a Watermelon Mint Martini.  This took a few tries before I came up with something I would drink.  I first tried making one that included some Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, mint, lemongrass, watermelon puree and vodka.  Mark and I agreed it wasn’t that tasty.  So then I tried one leaving out the lemon grass.  Still not that great.  So I added a bit of triple sec which made it better but still not worthy to be a “Judy Drink”.  Finally, I left out the ginger liqueur altogether, added lime and voila, a drink I would actually drink!

Finally, a cocktail worth drinking

After a few tries, a cocktail worth drinking

Watermelon Mint Martini

2 parts Watermelon puree (just blend some watermelon in a blender)

2 parts Absolute Citron vodka

1 part Triple Sec

6 large Mint leaves

1/4 Lime

Muddle mint and lime with a little bit of ice in a cocktail shaker.  Add puree, vodka, triple sec and more ice and shake, shake, shake.  Strain and serve in chilled martini glass.  Garnish with lime or mint sprig.  Enjoy!

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