Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Run-n-Rockin' Mango Jalapeno Chutney

The official first day of Summer was this past weekend.  What better way to start off the season with a Half Marathon!?  Sun was shining, the sweat was dripping.. the music rocking.  Race 2 of 3 of my planned Half Marathons this year with the Rock n Roll Marathon Series was this past Saturday.  Am I the quickest..NOPE.  Am I even close to winning anything in an age category - NOPE.  But when I crossed that finished line - just shy of my personal best time - all the hard training, the sweat and the sore muscles was all put into perspective and more than worth it.  Running is not easy (well for me it's not)...but this weekend, I felt like I achieved something phenomenal, just for me.   I live by the motto "Everything in moderation". Though I've had to make some adjustments in my own diet/lifestyle, i really haven't changed much.   I'm finding myself however making more healthy choices at home. This week's recipe isn't any BIG-n-fancy  main course.  It's not some melt in your mouth indulgent sweet treat. I figured it was about time to share something a little more on the lighter side.  This has become a staple -go to recipe - for that mid week meal in my household. Yet it's fun enough to be a starring addition to a weekend special dinner or social event.  Mango Jalapeno Chutney is the perfect add on to that summer dish. It's easy. It's YUM. A sweet ripened mango is paired with the ZIP of a jalapeno (or 2!)  and the flavors just burst onto your taste buds.  It is a fantastic side kick for Fish Tacos.  Or drizzle it over BBQ  Prawn Skewers.  Heck, a dab of cream cheese on a whole wheat cracker with a spoonful of the the chutney would make the perfect appetizer for happy hour on a patio!
The Rock N Roll Seattle Marathon was amazing.  The event itself is fantastic. From the Health and Fitness Expo, to the race day events, music line up and just the thousands of people - runners, volunteers, etc that make the event happen. WOW. This is my 2nd event in the Rock n Roll Series, as Portland was last month, and they just appear to keep getting better.  Next up is Vancouver, BC in October!  Can't wait!! Just a little shopping was done.. nothing major.. haha... I did come home with one new "toy" for the kitchen.  (am I the only one who gets excited about kitchen gadgets?!) Before I go into any details.. I will say, I am not getting anything from writing this...  I just HAVE to share, as if you are trying to watch your diet (moderation aside).. but yet.. especially in the summer months... get cravings like I do for something sweet...cold...and delicious, this puppy is for you!   Instead of running out and buying ice cream.  Do yourself a favor and get a Yonanas Machine.  
This baby takes frozen - fresh fruit (no addition of sugar or anything) and turns it immediately into a creamy smooth ice cream.  Those bananas that sat on your counter a day or 2 too long?...the ones  you stick in your freezer with the intent on making banana bread or muffins? Ya.. who needs muffins when you can have healthy yet delicious ice cream! Who doesn't love ice cream?!  OMG.. YUM.  Take a look at the link.  I picked  mine up at Walmart.  Think it's even on "roll back"  You will NOT be disappointed.  
It was a beautiful sunny kick off to Summer in Seattle this past weekend.  I came home exhausted and possibly a smidgen sun kissed...albeit a little stiff from the run.  But you will not hear me complain.  In fact.. already working on my training schedule so that in October, there will be no excuses. I'm going to try and beat my own PR.  I've got this.  I know I can.  Never Give up....and all that other motivational stuff. 

Anyways.. back to the easy peasy recipe...  nothing fancy.  Just big on flavor, a homemade condiment where you know ALL the ingredients in it.  (and can pronounce them!)    You can adjust the "zip"/ spice level by adjusting how much jalapeno you put in.  Myself.. a good kick in butt of spicy fresh flavor is always the way to go.
Mango Jalapeno Chutney

  • 1 cup chopped fresh (or frozen) mango
  • 2 jalapenos - finely diced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/2  cup sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
-  Place all ingredients into a medium saucepan, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently
 - Bring mixture to a boil and let simmer until reduced, and mixture starts to thicken (about 10 mins)
- Remove from heat, and let cool.

You can make this in advance, just store covered in the fridge until ready to use.  Myself - as I said above.. love serving it with fish tacos, prawns...whatever I have on hand.  I won't judge if you just eat it by the spoonful.  It's that darn good. :)

Until next time.....  CHEERS!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Strawberry Cinnamon Rolls

Ever have one of those mornings where you wake up… look outside.. sun is shining.. Birds are singing.. you can smell the coffee brewing and then wait.  What is that?! … there’s this sweet, intoxicating smell of berries and cinnamon?!   You sigh..and think…can life get any better?!    NO!? NEVER!?! ... well.  Me either!   Haha.  BUT… I can say… I have woken up. Rolled out of bed,  took the tray of sweet-deliciousness buns out of the fridge, turned the oven on.. slipped my shoes on…took Kenzie out.. AND THEN came BACK inside.. haha pressed the “brew now” button on my Keurig,  and finally placed a batch of these OH SO YUM Strawberry Cinnamon Buns into the oven. YUP –then I sighed, sat out on my balcony and thought… this isn't so bad either…

Most mornings I wake up – take Kenzie out (see routine above) – come in and either get ready for the work day – OR – brew that mug of coffee and figure out what I’m going to do for the day.'s been a focus on training for my next half marathon.  Seattle's Run Rock n Roll Half Marathon.  NOW.. let's be honest.. I'm not looking to break any land speeds... come in first... heck.. I'm just happy to finish.  I'm doing it because of the feeling I get when I cross that line.  Each race is just a little better than the last. Each race shows me..rather proves to myself.. I am stronger than I ever thought possible.  I run for me.  No one else.  That being said.. the friends I have made.  The friendships that have grown stronger through running is amazing.   The Portland Half was a month ago... in 3 more sleeps Seattle... (Hellllooooo Heavy Medals...ENCORE)  and then in October... Vancouver. (can you say TRIPLE CROWN!)   WHEW....  by this time next year - my goal - full marathon. EEK!  Of course with all the training, trying to eat "better".. blah blah blah...  I still stick with the "everything in moderation" . I mean may as well have something to run off... :) SO... in keeping up with the fresh local strawberries of the season theme and cravings....I just had to bake these up.  Easy Peasy..using fresh berries, with just the hint of cinnamon and all things yum.  Go on... try a batch. Share.  Or not.  I won't judge!  
Strawberry Cinnamon Rolls
  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 pint strawberries, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
Glaze (optional)
  • milk
  • icing sugar
-  In a small saucepan, over medium heat, add milk and butter.

-  Stir constantly until butter is melted.  Remove from heat, and let cool until lukewarm
-  In bowl of mixer, whisk together 2 1/4 cups flour, yeast, sugar and salt.
-  Add egg, water and mix using the dough hook attachment until just combined. 
-  Slowly add milk mixture and remaining flour until dough forms a ball and is smooth.
-  Cover and let rest while preparing strawberry filling.


- In a medium saucepan over medium heat,  combine chopped strawberries, butter, sugar and cinnamon 
-  Bring mixture to a boil, while stirring constantly.
- Let simmer for about 20 mins, or until strawberries soften and mixture thickens
-  Remove from heat and let cool for about 15 mins.  Once cool - place in a shallow, freezer safe, container and place in freezer until dough has doubled in size and is ready to go.
-  When the dough has roughly doubled in size,  punch down, and on a lightly floured surface roll out into a rectangle shape.  (roughly 1/4 inch thick)
-  Spread strawberry filling over top
- Then carefully fold dough length wise in half
- Now this can get messy... so enjoy.. haha... taking a knife, slice out roughly 1 inch..or so (doesn't have to be perfect) slices, width wise. 
- Take each slice, and twist.. then tie... into a knot / roll.  (again.. nothing has to be perfect.. it'll work out, trust me!) 
- Place rolls into a lightly greased pan. 

- Cover, and let rise until roughly double in size**

**if you are making these the night before...or even wanting to cover/freeze.   This is where you would cover and place in fridge overnight or freezer - before then have risen.   Once you are ready to bake, remove from fridge/freezer and let rise on counter for about 30 mins.  Bake as directed, adjusting cooking time as needed.  If I'm using frozen buns, I typically remove them the night before, and place overnight in fridge, then in the morning out on counter**

- Preheat oven to 375F
- Place in oven, center rack, and bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until tops are golden

- Mix milk / icing sugar together until desired constantly, and drizzle over still warm rolls... and ENJOY!!!!

I personally love these a bit warm still..then just seem to melt heavenly in your mouth! usual, submitting this to YeastSpotting, as a lot of inspiration comes through their site! OOOO and it's also International Picnic Day!  haha Happy #internationalpicnicday everyone! 

SO...  3 more sleeps.  21.6 km / 13.1 miles.  whew.  I'm excited. Nervous. But more so DETERMINED.  Thank you in advance to all my awesome friends and family who will be supporting me.  I love you. 

Until next time...Cheers!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Strawberry Lemon Meringue Pie... A great kick off to Summer!

Strawberries.. Wine.. A warm Summer Night.. Cozy Patio.  *sigh* (Is it bad I have Deanna Carter’s “Strawberry Wine” running through my head as I typed that sentence?!)   I love this time of year.  Not too hot, but after the day is done you come inside feeling  just a lil’ sunkissed.  It’s amazing how motivating good weather is!  How much one can get done when the music  is playing.. windows open.. and sun is shining in.  I even remembered to water my plants on my patio! Which leads me back to Strawberries.  SO FAR this spring/summer.. I have had 2 small success in the “green thumb” column.  Basil/Herb planter AND now my Hanging basket of Strawberries! The berries are ripening up perfectly…as in more than one, basket is heavy with the young berries!!  YIPPEE!  Enter food craving.  Anything  Strawberry.  Being how there was an upcoming Birthday Celebration at the office… I thought that I’d forgo the traditional Birthday cake.. and go with this.  Strawberry Lemon Meringue Pie.

I decided to throw together 2 of my favorite things.  Lemon Meringue and fresh strawberries.   HOW DO YOU GO WRONG!?  And being it is a said someone’s bday at the office.. it was the perfect “reason” – (I won’t use the word excuse)… to make up this pie to share.  I have come to terms that there will be times now that I won’t be able to always have a ready and willing taste tester on hand.  That Kenzie & Wylie can only provide so much assistance taste testing… (please don’t ask their thoughts, as I’m sure they would tell you they are more than capable to step in as official tasters)…  ANYWAYS – whether it’s me.  The office team.  Or whomever I am able to recruit *hint hint*.  I need to keep cooking..baking..and enjoying whatever food craving comes my way.  J
Things that I am learning:  Life is weird. Timing is everything.  A good healthy life takes effort.  Sometimes… the best thing you can do after a long day, is pour yourself a glass of wine, get into some comfy clothes, and go ahead and make that new recipe.  BBQ up that yummy steak you bought, and were saving in case you were cooking for a crowd…heck – you’ll have lunch tomorrow…. But most importantly learn how to just live, and feel blessed for what you DO have in life. Be Happy.  Go for that extra kilometer on that run you really didn't “feel like” doing.  Don’t worry if you don’t have the entire day planned out.  Sometimes the best days are the last minute plans… or the even better ones are ones where you didn't even get fully dressed for the day and just went with what felt right.     Maybe that’s why I’m going to focus on bringing this lil’ blog adventure of mine back to life.  I ENJOY it.  I like hearing how people have tried out the recipes.. I enjoy sitting back, firing up the lap top and sharing.   Friday night was a perfect example of the above… last minute invite to friends BBQ turned into Kenzie experiencing her first “camp fire”.. backyard or not…great friends, awesome dinner and topped off with us sitting around a fire.   It was the perfect summer night.
I was also fortunate enough to have tickets to go see Wicked – at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver. Again, good friends, great  (albeit quick dinner), and in general a "stress free" - casual and fun evening out on the town. The fact that it is a phenomenal musical....made it even that much better!  Amazing vocals. Amazing Costumes.  LOVED the story.  Definite goose bump moments all wrapped into the fantastic story of how the Witches from the Wizard of Oz became to be.  If you have the chance – go see it. I'm still relating to the main character..and humming a couple of the songs in my head. :)

 Ahhh.. back to the Strawberries.  Which are everywhere this time of year… and good thing too.  I’m just getting started on all the yummy things you can do with them.

Strawberry Lemon Meringue Pie
  • 1 Prepared Pie Crust
  • 1 Prepared Lemon filling recipe (I used the one from this post) 
  • 1 Package of Fruit Glaze (pictured below) 
  • 1 Pint of fresh Strawberries - thinly sliced
  • 2/3 Cup Sugar
  • Water according to fruit glaze package
  • 4 Egg Whites
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Vinegar
- Preheat oven to 450F
- Place Pie Crust in pie plate (this time I used a square glass pan, as for some reason... my pie plate is ummm..gone.) Prick with forth. Baked until Golden.
*You don't need to be perfect here - haha I like to consider it "rustic" :)*
- Remove from oven, let cool.
- Once cooled, Pour prepared  Lemon filling onto crust
- Place pie in fridge while you work on the strawberry filling.
- Whisk up glaze according to package directions,  I used this glaze below, but any fruit glaze would work.
- Mix in the sliced strawberries
- Pour strawberry mixture on top of the lemon filling.  Put pie back in fridge while preparing meringue filling.

- Beat Egg Whites and the Pinch of Salt together using a the Whisk attachment on your mixer, until soft peaks form
- Gradually add in the cup of sugar, mixing well after each addition
- Add Vinegar, and continue to mix until meringue is thick, glossy and stiff peaks form
- You can use a spatula, or even put meringue in a piping bag, either way, add the meringue layer on top of the strawberry glaze mixture
- Place back into oven for 5-8 mins, until meringue is toasted and golden in colour.
- Remove from oven.... and dig in!!  YUM YUM!   
I placed the pie, lightly covered in plastic wrap, in the fridge overnight as I was serving it up at the office the next day..  it holds up perfectly!  This is a perfect light and fluffy dessert for those hot summer nights.  Which reminds me...  Maybe I should think about firing up the BBQ for dinner... hmmm...Maybe a run first...   Until next time!   CHEERS!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

NJAC V2.0...Pizza on the BBQ

June. EEEK.  Where has the time gone?  So much has changed. Where to even start.. "hmm".  Well...  First off the West Coast this week has been absolutely blessed with sunshine.  Not too hot.  Not too cold.  Just beautiful.  Patio all dressed up.. full tank of propane.  Bring on Summer!  This is my latest version of my Pizza on the BBQ... let's call it V2.0... It's simple.. it's made with FRESHLY snipped Basil from my own herb planter!!  (yes.. I'm excited.. the herbs in my planter are actually GROWING! Who knew that  there could be a lil' bit of a green thumb in me!)... It's easy peasy.. and whether you are cooking for 2.. or.. ahem.. umm..hmm.. just 1.. this is just the right size (and leftovers make an awesome lunch!)
So after work this evening.. the sun was shining, motivation was high... Kenzie and I headed out on an evening run before I dove into the dinner plans for the evening.  Oh wait.. some of you may.. or may not know who Kenzie is... WELL... Kenzie my newest "addition".  Best running buddy ever.. and Wylie's best friend and "sister". I adopted/rescued Kenzie in the fall last year, and can't even imagine life without her.  With her bright blue eyes..she has absolutely melted my heart. Who knew I could find a dog that would love to cuddle as much as I do?! :)   Wylie and Kenzie... they are my life.  With all the crazy turns life takes.. one thing that remains constant is I get to come home to 2 unconditionally loving, loyal and amazing animals.  They are not just pets.. they are my companions. My family.

Of course.. I have to show off Wylie.. haha what a character, he's really taken to Kenzie, and his personality.. well.. haha pretty sure he thinks he's a dog... 
Annnnnyways.... back on subject.....Tonight, I used my fresh basil leaves I snipped off, feta, a basic tomato pizza sauce and cooked up some ground spicy Italian sausage, and of course, my basic pizza dough recipe.  (For some reason.. which I'm working on..but my old posts are not showing pictures.. UGH. HELP. SOMEONE!?..ANYONE!? so please excuse the earlier posts...I'm trying to find a solution ASAP).  The trick with Pizza on the BBQ is to keep it simple and light.  You'll love the crispy crust, and how quick it cooks on the BBQ...  as a good friend of mine would famously say.. A--MAZING! :p 

Pizza on the BBQ V2.0

  • Pizza dough (recipe here)
  • Pizza sauce (I used store bought garlic tomato pizza sauce)
  • fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup feta
  • 1/2 package Johnsonville ground Hot Italian Sausage
  • extra olive oil to grease pan / dough
- Mix up your dough per recipe
- Dough should form a nice ball, not stick to your fingers, when ready.  Add some olive oil to lightly coat bowl, cover and place dough in a draft free spot to rise ( about double in size).
- While dough is rising.  Cook up Italian Sausage, set aside to cool a bit.
- Snipe off your fresh basil... (or your fresh produce aisle should have some as well)...
HEEHEE!!  I grew that!!  Yes, I'm excited. Yes. I'm also kind of surprised. Don't judge! haha... now hopefully more will grow...  as I reeeaalllyyy love the idea of fresh herbs at my disposal! 

-Once dough is about double the size, remove from bowl, and with lightly greased hands, form the pizza crust (no need to be perfect... rustic is best!) and place on a lightly greased pizza pan.
- Preheat BBQ, all burners on high.  You want to start with as hot of a BBQ as you can to help get the perfect crust, and cook your pizza quick

- Add a light layer of sauce, add fresh basil leaves, cooked Italian sausage, and sprinkle feta
*Optional... pour yourself a glass of wine here... you've earned it... just cause. (I mean.. that's what I did anyways...)*

- Place Pizza in the center of the BBQ - all burners still on high.

- Close Lid - **this is where your pre-poured glass of wine comes into play** take a sip!  CHEERS!!
- This part shouldn't take too long.. after about 5 mins - check on the pizza, see how it's doing.  If you find the bottom of the crust is getting too crisp - turn the center burners down - or even off - to allow time for the rest of the pizza to catch up.  Once the crust is golden, and the cheese a little melted,  you are good to go!  Remove from BBQ, cut up..  Pour yourself another glass of wine.. and Enjoy!
.... just one more.... before I sign off for the evening... ( Kenzie had to try the crust as well.. I mean hey... more taste-testers the better right?!)

AND this time... It won't be months until I say hello again... I mean.. even "this chick" needs to eat :) 


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Year # 2.... New Beginnings and Fresh Cranberry Eggnog Cinnamon Buns

Well... what can I say?!  As I enter the 2nd year for this lil' adventure.. I'm pretty sure just about everything possible that could change with my life.. has.  YUP... I mean you just gotta looooove that rollarcoaster-thing-a-ma-bob call LIFE right?!   SO... take this post as a tease of things to come. :) The air is crisp, the leaves are turning, and some of my favorite fall flavours are in full season.  Think Pumpkin (scones anyone?!).  Think CRANBERRY. Think EGGNOG... Think earthy spices.  mmmmmm....  OH yes.... I LOVE THE AUTUMN.  Well let's of course start with the traditional teaser picture....  Fresh Cranberry Eggnog Cinnamon Buns.

Lucky me came into a whole 5 Gallon buckets of fresh... British Columbia Cranberries, picked right here, only minutes away from my door step! They are tart, they are super healthy... and they are perfectly plump.  Delicious!! SO... to kick off the ole' Autumn / Holiday / Fall... these Cranberry Eggnog Buns are perfecto! (and yes... I think it's a little early to stock up on Eggnog... BUT..really...there I was, all innocent, walking down the milk aisle in the grocery store.. and WHAM... it's there.. Eggnog... just calling out to me....)  I'll probably end up making a batch of these... Eggnog Scones.... But for now.. I've got a second batch of the rolls rising.... they seem to just disappear...right off your counter!  I will say, after a gorgeous hike on a beautiful crisp Autumn day.. the buns warmed up hit the spot.
Recipe is easy-peasy.  Even EASIER if you use your dough hook on your kitchen aid mixer.... Not too sweet...  just a perfect hint of eggnog and the tart pop of flavour from the fresh cranberries.  Go ahead... make up a batch.. or 3... I won't judge!

Cranberry Eggnog Cinnamon Buns

  • 1 cup Eggnog
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons active yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (packed) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1 heaping tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries - chopped
- Heat eggnog and 1/4 cup of butter in a small saucepan until butter is melted.  (make sure to keep stirring to avoid burning eggnog)
- Remove from heat, and let cool to lukewarm
- In the mixing bowl of your kitchen aid mixer (dough hook attachment), combine the eggnog mixture, yeast, egg, salt and 1 cup of flour.
- Gradually add remaining flour, until a nice smooth (doesn't stick to your fingers) dough has formed.
- Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rest in a warm place until dough rises to double in size.
- Once dough has risen, combine 1/2 cup softened butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar into a small bowl.
- Roll out dough into about a 12x9 rectangle (it doesn't have to be perfect)
- Spread butter/sugar/cinnamon mixture evenly on top of rolled out dough
- Sprinkle chopped cranberries over top
- Roll up dough length wise, pinching seam to seal.
- Cut into equal sized pieces, placing each one in a lightly greased 9x13 glass pan.
- Cover, and let rise again until double in size
- Preheat oven to 375F
- Place in a 375F for about 25-30 minutes, or until golden grown
- When done, remove from oven, and let cool slightly.
- You can drizzle with an easy - eggnog/icing sugar glaze... (just mix some eggnog with icing sugar until desired consistency)

Serve Warm.... Serve Cold...  heck.. eat em' right out of the pan.. I won't judge!!  
So, you may be wondering.. what I've been up too!?  well... hmmm... let's just say.. I'm learning change is good.  I've learned I've got some pretty incredible friends, and that my family will always be there for me. I'm learned that challenging yourself is good...  and that sometimes.. all you need to lift your spirits is a simple walk outside.... just taking in all your surroundings and enjoying some of what Mother Nature offers!  Until next time.. go out...and... Just Breathe!  :)