Meat-full Monday: Grilled Potato and Onion Salad with Blue Cheese and Bacon

OK, so it isn’t meatless monday.  I stumbled upon this recipe on Food and Wine.com and nearly collapsed from excitement.  I have an obsession with bacon and bleu cheese is something that makes me smile just thinking about it.

Grilled Potato and Onion Salad with Blue Cheese and Bacon.  Photo by Fredrika Stjärne

Grilled Potato and Onion Salad with Blue Cheese and Bacon. Photo by Fredrika Stjärne

I wish my husband liked bleu cheese because I would probably serve it every day.  However, because Ryan doesn’t like it, I served it on the side.  This salad is amazing.  I served as a warm main dish and it was delightful.

Grilled Potato and Onion Salad with Blue Cheese and Bacon

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound sliced meaty bacon
  • 3 red onions, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 1/2 pounds small new potatoes (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter), scrubbed
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 pound blue cheese, such as Gorgonzola, Roquefort or Maytag Blue, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Spread the bacon slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until they are brown and crisp, about 15 minutes. Transfer the bacon slices to paper towel—lined plates to drain. Crumble into 1/2-inch pieces. (I did not cook the bacon in this way.  It would have started a fire.  I cooked it in two batches in a pan and saved the bacon grease for popcorn.  I told you I love bacon).
  2. Light a grill. In a large bowl, toss the red onion slices with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill the onions over moderately high heat, turning once, until lightly charred and tender, about 5 minutes. Cut the grilled onions into 1/2-inch pieces.
  3. In a large pot of salted cold water, bring the potatoes to a boil. Simmer until they are beginning to get tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the potatoes and cut them in half. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the potatoes over moderately high heat, turning once, until they are tender and browned, about 5 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the mayonnaise with the blue cheese. Add the bacon, onions and potatoes and toss to coat. Transfer the salad to a clean bowl and serve.  Unless it is dark outside and no one will ever know that you didn’t  put it in a new bowl.

Siggy-Q

 

Meatless Monday: Green Bean Slaw

I love green beans and I love slaw.  For me, this recipe was an automatic winner.  My hubby and his brother are not fans of creamy cheesy dressings so I wanted to find a crowd pleaser.  In addition, my MIL and I are making an effort to not turn on the oven while cooking dinner.  I found the recipe while perusing

Green Bean Slaw. Photo by Fredrika Stjärne

Green Bean Slaw. Photo by Fredrika Stjärne

Food and Wine.com and paired it with Grilled Red Curry Chicken.  It is tangy, crunchy and you can serve it warm right after you make it or like I did at room temperature.  It would be a perfect potluck recipe.

Green Bean Slaw

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 pounds haricots verts (thin green beans)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into fine julienne
  • 1 medium parsnip, cut into fine julienne
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into fine julienne
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Hot sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 hard-cooked egg, chopped, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the beans until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain, rinse and pat dry.

2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the vinegar, water, mustard, honey and celery seeds. Add the carrot, parsnip, red pepper and onion and toss until warmed through, about 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the beans and toss well. Add a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce and season with salt and pepper. Garnish the slaw with the chopped egg and serve warm or at room temperature.
MAKE AHEAD The cooked beans and dressed mixed vegetables can be refrigerated separately overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Siggy-Q

I Promised You a Recap of the Greatest Tennis Match Since The “Battle of the Sexes”

And that’s what you’ll get! Well, not really. I am still a novice at tennis but I really enjoy it and it helps fulfill my preppy WASP fantasy.
Ryan who will be known as Captain and I, who will be known as Poopsie, love playing tennis. Captain is a really good tennis player and I am lacking in skill, technique and control. We played every day on our honeymoon once two years ago when we were here in Sun Valley. Now that Chase and Andrew are old enough that we can safely leave them for a couple of hours with a sitter and Ryan’s schedule is a little more reasonable, I am determined to play more tennis. 20140719-105237-39157974.jpg
When I was a kid, I rode my bike to Brown Pool in Pendleton, IN and played tennis alone with a can of balls and my mom’s Wilson racket that was made of wood. It was there that I learned a lot of bad habits that I am proud to say I still have.

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Captain taught tennis all through high school and college so he is a drill sergeant when it comes to teaching forehands and backhands. And, he indulges me to an absurd degree. In all of the times that we have played tennis, he has not yet taught me a proper serve. “Poopsie isn’t ready,” he says. It’s true. I am in no way ready to rival the speed and force of Serena Williams.

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I flick my wrist. I don’t follow through with my swing and sometimes I don’t set up my swing properly. But, I’m learning! And, I really enjoy the challenge. Captain is an amazing teacher. He is patient and descriptive in his coaching and puts up with my shenanigans.
It will be great when we play regularly. Then I can get monogrammed outfits and drink a Bloody Mary afterwards.

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Meatless Monday: Greek Spinach and Feta Pie

Ok, it is actually spanikopita but according to Cook’s Illustrated,

Really? How am I supposed to cook like this?

Really? How am I supposed to cook like this?

it is a Greek Spinach and Feta Pie.  I love it.  I could eat it for breakfast (with eggs), lunch (cold and on the go), and dinner (with lamb).  The kiddos love it and though it is a little time consuming, totally worth it.  Cook’s Illustrated was one of the first cooking magazines I read.  I love it because they take recipes and test them to find where a lot of people make mistakes, fix the mistakes and you come out looking like a freaking master chef.  I still reference the back issues I have saved though I haven’t

received it in several years.  However, I have renewed my subscription and now have the app on my phone.  The app is great by the way.  It is easy to search and the recipes are broken down in a way that makes the process of following a recipe off of your phone, pretty easy.

We are in Idaho through the end of the month and Ryan’s

brother and his two girls are here.  The oldest, Indira, is 8 and quite the little mother’s helper.  She also requested the dish a couple of nights ago.  I enlisted her help and we got busy.  We ended up serving the dish with lamb and tzaziki sauce and a huge salad.

INGREDIENTS

Filling:
2 (10-ounce) bags curly leaf spinach, rinsed

The finished product.  We served it at room temperature.

The finished product. We served it at room temperature.

1/4 cup water
12 ounces feta cheese, rinsed, patted dry, and crumbled into fine pieces (about 3 cups)
3/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt (see note)
4 medium scallions, sliced thin (about 1/2 cup)
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup minced fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill leaves
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon grated zest plus 1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Phyllo Layers:
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 pound (14 by 9-inch) phyllo, thawed (see note)
1 1/2 ounces Pecorino Romano, grated fine (about 3/4 cup)
2 teaspoons sesame seeds (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS
1. FOR THE FILLING: Place spinach and water in large microwave-safe bowl. Cover bowl with large dinner plate.

The "big kids" Chase and his cousin Zyra enjoying Spanakopita outside.

The “big kids” Chase and his cousin Zyra enjoying Spanakopita outside.

Microwave on high power until spinach is wilted and decreased in volume by half, about 5 minutes. Using potholders, remove bowl from microwave and keep covered, 1 minute. Carefully remove plate and transfer spinach to colander set in sink. Using back of rubber spatula, gently press spinach against colander to release excess liquid. Transfer spinach to cutting board and roughly chop. Transfer spinach to clean kitchen towel and squeeze to remove excess water. Place drained spinach in large bowl. Add remaining filling ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. (Filling can be made up to 24 hours in advance and stored in the refrigerator.)

2. FOR THE PHYLLO LAYERS: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Using pastry brush, lightly brush 14 by 9-inch rectangle in center of parchment with melted butter to cover area same size as phyllo. Lay 1 phyllo sheet on buttered parchment, and brush thoroughly with melted butter. Repeat with 9 more phyllo sheets, brushing each with butter (you should have total of 10 layers of phyllo).

3. Spread spinach mixture evenly over phyllo, leaving ¼-inch border on all sides. Cover spinach with 6 more phyllo sheets, brushing each with butter and sprinkling each with about 2 tablespoons Pecorino cheese. Lay 2 more phyllo sheets on top, brushing each with butter (these layers should not be sprinkled with Pecorino).

4. Working from center outward, use palms of your hands to compress layers and press out any air pockets. Using sharp knife, score pie through the top 3 layers of phyllo into 24 equal pieces. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (if using). Bake until phyllo is golden and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on baking sheet 10 minutes or up to 2 hours. Slide spanakopita, still on parchment, to cutting board. Cut into squares or triangles and serve.

Siggy-Q

 

I really do like mountain biking

But I have a love hate relationship with it. Ryan and I went on our first ride yesterday on a trail called Adam’s Gulch. It includes Eve’s gulch and Forbidden fruit. But you get to start the trail by trudging up “Puke Hill.” Thanks honey.
I didn’t puke, but I thought my legs were going to fall off when I made it to the top. I’m getting better at riding and realizing that it is ok to get off your bike and walk when you’re not comfortable with a technical aspect of a trail.
We got a late start yesterday so it was on the warm side, but I was happy to be in the shade most of the time. It is a holiday weekend so there were a fair amount of people on the trail, which was nice because it forced me to smile and say hi even though I wanted to quit at that point. We made it through some tricky climbs and steep rocks and on to Eve’s Gulch which is a LONG slow climb and you work for it. You can either continue up Eve (which I am sure is a continuation of a delightful encounter with the most evil woman of all) or you can go on “Forbidden Fruit,” which Ryan called “your reward” for making it up Eve’s Gulch. Eve’s gulch consists of really fun hills, some challenging switch-backs up, switch backs down, more fun hills and then a really fun downhill where you can gain some serious speed. Ok, I agree, that is a great reward. Ryan went ahead of me and did the Forbidden Fruit section at his speed and I did it at mine, which was fine because there were 4 bowl like switch back turns on the way down that were above my skill level. I only got through one of them. The others I just slid down and around praying that I didn’t lose my balance. I know my limits.

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I hadn’t been mountain biking since April. It was fun to go on a ride again. Today, my legs are wrecked. Ryan is very nice to give me guidance and be patient with me. He told me yesterday that I was the perfect balance of pretty and adventurous. That made me feel pretty good. My love languages are words of confirmation and gifts. The only thing that would have made that day better was if he had given me a piece of jewelry at the end of the ride.

Siggy-Q

Heat Retreat

It is becoming a summer retreat. Don’t tell anyone, but Ketchum Idaho is a magical place to be. Especially, when it is 105 degrees in Tucson. This will be my 4th trip to the Valley of the Sun in central Idaho. Growing up, I knew only one thing about Idaho: potatoes. As time has passed, I heard more like: Demi Moore and Bruce Willis lived there. Then, I met my husband and I learned that they grow funny, smart, active and well rounded individuals there.
It reminds me of all of the wonderful things about where I grew up: safe
streets, lots of outdoor activities, and friendly neighbors. The big main differences: Baldy Mountain, a killer Mexican restaurant and more smoked trout than even I can eat.
We’ll spend most of July there and the boys will spend time with their cousins and Ryan’s mom. Plus, Ryan and I get to go mountain biking and my parents are making a quick trip out to romp around Southern Idaho.
Don’t worry…pictures to come

Retreat from the Heat

It is becoming a summer retreat. Don’t tell anyone, but Ketchum Idaho is a magical place to be. Especially, when it is 105 degrees in Tucson. This will be my 4th trip to the Valley of the Sun in central Idaho. Growing up, I knew only one thing about Idaho: potatoes. As time has passed, I heard more like: Demi Moore and Bruce Willis lived there. Then, I met my husband and I learned that they grow funny, smart, active and well rounded individuals there.
It reminds me of all of the wonderful things about where I grew up: safe
streets, lots of outdoor activities, and friendly neighbors. The big main differences: Baldy Mountain, a killer Mexican restaurant and more smoked trout than even I can eat.
We’ll spend most of July there and the boys will spend time with their cousins and Ryan’s mom. Plus, Ryan and I get to go mountain biking and my parents are making a quick trip out to romp around Southern Idaho.
Don’t worry…pictures to come.

Meatless Monday: AMAZE BALLS!!!

During our reunion weekend, we ate a lot and drank a lot.  We laughed a lot and reminisced about our “Culver Experience.”  One of our housemates during the weekend: Isa was in charge of bringing some of the provisions for the

Raw ingredients

Raw ingredients

weekend.  Not only did she bring great staples for the weekend but she went our of her way to cut up fruit and make a little something called: AMAZE BALLS!

They really are amazing.  There are so many variations you can put into this recipe.  I got the recipe from her and have made some for our family.  I like to eat one in the morning along with a small bowl of fruit.  I really like almond butter so that’s what I used.  You can use any nut butter that you like.  You can also use things like coconut, hemp hearts or spirulina powder.  Here’s the basic recipe.

AMAZE BALLS!

Ingredients:

1 cup peanut butter (or any nut butter you like)

Combined Ingredients

Combined Ingredients

1 cup honey (use your local honey if you have allergies)

1/2 cup chia seeds

1/2 cup flax meal

3 cups oats

handful mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together.

Form into balls and place into container and let them harden in the refrigerator.  EAT!

Siggy-Q

I couldn't help it, I ate a couple before taking the picture.

I couldn’t help it, I ate a couple before taking the picture.

Product Review: W3LL PEOPLE’s Expressionist Bio Extreme Mascara

I love makeup.  I’m definitely a high maintenance girly girl when it comes to things like that.  But I also try to reduce the

W3LL PEOPLE's mascara wand.

W3LL PEOPLE’s mascara wand.

amount of chemicals in our lives.  So, I tried out W3LL PEOPLE’s new Expressionist Bio Extreme Mascara.  I’ve been waiting awhile for this one.  James, one of the founders and creators of the line is a resident of Santa Fe and I met him in a spin class a year ago.  One of the first things I asked was “Do you have mascara?”  They didn’t at the time but he said it was in the works.

James recommended several products and I placed an order.  I tried and love their Altruist Satin Mineral Foundation.  It takes care of shine and doesn’t feel too heavy.  The color palette for their multi-use Universalist Luminous Colorstick (eyes, cheeks and lips) is a little too warm for my complexion but it goes on beautifully.  It blends easily on the cheeks, is smooth on your lips and doesn’t crease on your eyelids.

A couple of months ago, when I saw James at spin class, he mentioned that not only was W3LL PEOPLE going to be in Birchbox, but that their mascara was debuting, I was stoked!

Now that we are settling in here in Tucson, I ordered some of the mascara and tried it out Friday and have it on this morning.  I’ve been using Chanel’s Waterproof Mascara.  I like it and will continue to use it when a waterproof mascara is in order.  But for everyday use, I really like W3LL PEOPLE’s mascara!

It is wet but not sloppy when you apply it.  The wand is really long, but totally manageable.  It is $23.50 for one tube. It comes in one color: black.

After applying two coats.

After applying two coats.black.

I applied two coats of the mascara on the bottom and top lashes.  I normally do not apply mascara on the bottom lashes because it all ends up under my eyes but this was a test so I did.  I rolled the wand from the base of the eyelid to the end of my lashes to get full coverage.  It dried quickly but was not stiff.  Applying the second coat was easy.

I checked the application after two, four, six and eight hours to see if there was any under-eye migration.  I was good until the 8 hour mark.  There was some migration when I checked myself in the mirror.  But it was ok because I was taking off my makeup for the day.  There was some migration to the under eye area.

Because I normally use a waterproof mascara I used Chanel’s eye makeup remover.  However, I used it on one eye and my normal cleanser on the other.  There was no residue after removing the mascara and cleansing.

This morning, I used it again.  I applied my lash primer that I usually use: Dior’s Diorshow Maximizer.  The mascara goes over the primer nicely.

Overall, I really like the mascara and plan to use it as my every day mascara.  I am excited to use something that does not have harsh ingredients, especially so close to my eyes.

Do you have recommendations for new beauty products?  Leave them in the comments section!

Siggy-Q

I Want a “Mom Cave”

photo 1-1

Beautiful containers to hold writing utensils that will create witty phrases to friends

There is a new trend in home design: the Mom Cave: a space dedicated to the activities or focus of a particular mom.  I read an article in the “Desert Leaf, The Catalina Foothills Magazine” by Mary G. Pepitone, that showcased the new trend.  That got me thinking, I want a “Mom Cave”!

What would my cave look like?  According to the article the cave can range from a closet or corner (uh, I think I should have more than a corner!!!) to an extra bedroom or part of your master bedroom.  When I mentioned this to Ryan (my husband who tends to indulge me) he said: “Well, are you going to have a wine fridge in there?”  Well, yes I will.  Put that on the list!  Check out my Pinterest board titled “Mom Cave”.

Style wise, I think I will go with a DWR (Design Within Reach) style with classic and traditional touches.  I will need accordian sliding glass doors that open up to a garden portal, which includes a water feature.

I will need a desk, that sits on a beautiful Persian rug, for doing paperwork and writing thank you notes on beautiful personalized stationary.  I like the mirrored desks.  That way, I can look down and check my lipstick before my friends arrive for an intellectual discussion on international politics.  Or, when they come over for cocktails at noon on a friday.

I will need a love seat and two comfy armchairs with ottomans in which to sink with glass of wine by the working

A lovely example of a mom cave with a feminine color palette. I don't know if we could be friends, she probably doesn't drop the "f bomb."

A lovely example of a mom cave with a feminine color palette. I don’t know if we could be friends, she probably doesn’t drop the “f bomb.”

fireplace (never mind that it is 102 here in Tucson).  Extra seating will be brought in on command.  Things could get weird.

I would like a wet bar complete with a wine fridge and beautiful Waterford stemware and an endless supply of booze.  Some of the selections would include: Sauvginon Blanc, La Crema Pinot Noir, Woodford Reserve Bourbon, St. Germain liquer, Gumballhead beer, Vodka, club soda, and Veuve Cliquot Champagne.  I will also need a tea kettle and french press coffee pot.

I love music, so a powerful music system wired in will suffice.  Anyone who knows me will understand that my need for music rivals my need for air.  It’s not that I don’t like silence, I love silence, especially now that I am a mom.

Now, because this is a full on fantasy piece, I will also need a 10×15′ dressing lounge.  This will include a beautiful custom closet complete with select shoes, bags, clothing and jewelry for all of those lovely red carpet appearances I make.  I will have a beauty salon set up so that I am perfectly coiffed and made up (but not too made up).

In reality, I probably will never have this space but if I did it would need a security system that rivals the inner rings of the Pentagon.  Because let’s face it, I haven’t gone to the bathroom by myself since 2007.  It all started with Sara Belle, our dog, following me into the bathroom.  It seemed harmless at the time but now, I don’t go anywhere alone.  I’m a people person but this is getting ridiculous.  Sometimes, the dog AND both boys follow me into our bathroom.  “Mommy, what’s that white string?”

Siggy-Q

 

 

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