At River’s Edge

Hi darlings!

I started a new job this week and so I’ve been a little bit preoccupied but I do have a HUGE, and perhaps overly ambitious, DIY project on the horizon and I’ll be bringing you all the details tomorrow!

In the meantime, enjoy these scenes of Lindsay.  They were taken on three different days on three different walks.

The theme is water.  Note the constant drinking.

You’ll see a couple of other characters.  The Rastafarian Poodle is Maggie and the lovely looking ginger is Aunt Staci (that’s Lindsay’s aunt – not mine).

Enjoy!

Boise RiverThis is the Boise River.

The pups with Aunt Staci

Getting a drink from the Boise River

The Beast through the treesThe Beast through the trees.

Drinking from the creekHis tongue is almost as big as his head.

Lindsay and Maggie

At water's edgeSunny skies.  Clear river.  Giant dog.

Until tomorrow darlings!

Dinner is Served

In the Kitchen with Ammo!

I am fortunate to have some really wonderful women in my life, and after some reflection I realized they all share a special skill:

Each lady can cook like gangbusters!

Seriously, it’s a wonder I don’t weigh 300 pounds.

I’ve asked to join some of my girls in their kitchens and document them preparing a dish of their choosing.  Much to my delight this has been met with enthusiasm and so, it begins!

Meet Ammo!

Ammo

First the Q&A:

How would you describe your cooking style?
Lackadaisical with spurts of creativity

Who are your cooking influences?
Google! Haha I don’t really have any influences, per se…

Tell me about your eating habits.  Have they changed over the years?
After a lifetime of horrible allergies and chronic sinusitis, I discovered some research that linked diet to what I was suffering from. I had a test done at a naturopath to determine which foods create inflammation in my body. I was surprised to find out that I had very strong reactions to dairy, gluten, and eggs. In October, I cut all three from my diet. It hasn’t been easy or fun, and I miss my favorites (donuts and cheese, so sad!) HOWEVER I have not been sick ONCE since October!! This is amazing for me because I’ve been on a steady dose of antibiotics and allergy meds for the last decade, plus two sinus surgeries. I don’t take any medications for that now, and when I do have the occasional cheat I can feel very strongly how it negatively affects my body. I’m not one to jump on diet trends, but cutting dairy, gluten, and eggs from my diet has changed my life.

What would have for your last meal?
DONUTS AND CHEESE!

Now to the kitchen!

Ammo's Kitchen

Ammo always listens to music when she cooks.  We listened to one of her favorite Pandora stations as she prepared pork chops inspired by a Rachel Ray cooking show that featured steak seasoned with salt, pepper and brown sugar.  The sides included Brussels sprouts, asparagus, smashed potatoes and “something made-up to go on top of the pork chops.”

She started with the smashed potatoes, which she originally saw on Pinterest, but added her own flair to make them hers.   She had pre-prepped the potatoes before I arrived by boiling them with the skins on until soft, but not too soft.  Small potatoes, such as fingerlings, work best for this dish, as does a hard flat metal spatula.   Drizzle olive oil on a baking sheet and flatten potatoes as so:

Potato

Smash

Smashed

Smashed Potato

Press, but don’t totally flatten or they will fall apart.  Season with olive oil, dill weed, pepper and sea salt, “you almost can’t sprinkle on too much salt.”  Ammo uses a particular salt recommended by her Naturopath that contains minerals normally removed in regular table salt. You can get it on Amazon as an add-on for $8.00.

Sea Salt

Potato Collage

Place the smashed potatoes in an oven heated to 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn over and add seasonings on the flipped side, then put back in the oven for another 15 minutes.   “You want them really crunchy on the outside.”  Flip again and back in the oven for 10 more minutes.   Turn off oven and let them sit for 6 minutes.

Smashed Potatoes

While Ammo was preparing the potatoes she realized “[German explicative] I thought I thawed the pork chops, but I didn’t!”  So she ran them under warm water for a bit and stuck them in the microwave.

Defrosting Pork Chops

Meanwhile she began preparing the asparagus and Brussels sprouts.  She washed the asparagus and cut off the ends, then decided “just for fun, let’s put a little dressing on these” and marinated them with some zesty Italian!

Preparing Asparagus

Then she washed the Brussels sprouts, cut off the stumps, and cut a cross at the base of each.

Brussels Sprouts

Ammo melted two cubes of butter in a large pan and added the Brussels sprouts, gave the pan a little shake, added a bit of the Italian dressing, gave the pan a little shake, and cooked them until they had barely begun to brown (they were still crunchy). Then she poured them into a colander over the sink.

Preparing Brussels Sprouts

She added the asparagus to the same pan along with some water and repeated the same cooking process used with the sprouts, sans adding butter and dressing.

Brussels Sprouts and Asparagus

While the veggies were cooking Ammo got started on the pork chops.  She stabbed them a few times, then rubbed them with brown sugar, salt and white pepper.

Preparing Pork Chops

In case you were wondering, Ammo never measures anything.

They were cooked in olive oil over medium low heat and flipped a couple times until no pink remained.

Pork Chops

Then inspiration struck.  “What goes good with pork chops? Applesauce.  Let’s do something outside the norm.  A pear puree!”

With that she quartered and cored two Anjou pears, put them in a blender, added brown sugar, coconut oil and a little powdered sugar, ground cinnamon, “aaaaaaaaand chili powder.”  With a little water to help get it going, it blended into a puree.

Pear Puree

This meal came together like a dance.  It was so fun watching Ammo cook! Between her no-measuring technique and spontaneous puree, I was totally impressed.

The Meal

Doesn’t that look amazing? Just when I thought she was done, Ammo added a final touch.  Her family doesn’t drink so on special occasions they get sparkling cider and pears.

Sparkling Cider Pear Drink

Finally we ate!  And it was wonderful!  We were both pleasantly surprised by the puree, it complimented the pork chops perfectly. I also loved getting a little Ammo family history with the pear cocktail, that might have been the best part!

Nope.  The best part was the eating.

Thanks Ammo for inviting me into your kitchen and for blowing my expectations right out of the water!

Easter Goodies

My Easter Basket

You know who gets me? BevMo!

My new friends there sent me a fantastic Easter basket:

Easter Basket

Mmmmm… flavored vodka.  Thanks BevMo!

Luckily for me I had some tonic in the house!  I’m going to be honest, that whipped cream flavored vodka did not last long and it was delicious.

Easter Vodka

With Easter just around the corner, I have come up with a quick and easy cocktail that I’m calling the Peach Peep Cocktail.  Original, I know.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Peach Juice and Peach Vodka

Peach Mango Cascade Ice and Pinnacle Peach Vodka

Fill your martini shaker halfway with ice, pour in a shot of vodka and a shot of juice, shake and fill glass. Garnish with a Peep.

Peach Vodka Cocktail

You don’t actually need to use the shaker and ice for this, but it’s more fun if you do!

Easter Cocktail

You can find more Easter recipes, beer and wine related fun on the BevMo! Facebook page here.

Peep!

PEEP! 

Guest Post! Mason Jar Meets Healthy Sexy Simple: 3 Easy + Portable Meal Ideas

I’m delighted to have my friend and Jill of all trades, the lovely Jessica Wyman, back on the blog today! Without further ado…

I love food.  I like to be on the go.  Sometimes that’s a bad combination for my health goals…unless I prepare.

That means I have to plan ahead so I can make healthy eating a breeze.  In fact, figuring out healthy eating tips for the busy woman is the most common area of concern for my clients.

We’re here, we’re there, and it seems we are bustling around everywhere.

One of the best tips I can share is to make ahead.  I am a huge advocate of cook once and eat twice, or even three times.  What if you could even make it five?

There is one kitchen item that makes it’s so easy, and even adorable.  Drum roll…..the mason jar.  I’m not suggesting canning your food for storage.  They are inexpensive and even if you lose the lid, they are a dime a dozen (not literally, but close).  You don’t have to go buy a whole set of Tupperware just to have a lid for that one container.  Plus they’re just cute in a Pinterest or Instagram worthy way.

You might be wondering how in the heck you can use a mason jar for make ahead meals.  Here are 3 super simple recipes to get you started.

Do all three this week, but make five jars of each recipe.  You’ll be amazed at how simple it is to eat healthy.

  1. Chia Seed Pudding
  2. Fruit and Yogurt Parfait
  3. Green Salad on the Go

Chia Seed Pudding

Ingredients

  • 5 pint size mason jars
  • 1 2/3 cups coconut milk
  • 5 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 ½ cups frozen berries (your choice)
  • Liquid stevia to sweeten (if you need it)

Directions

Put 1/3 cup coconut milk, 1 tablespoon chia seeds and ¼ cup frozen berries in each mason jar (add the stevia if you need more sweetness than just the fruit).  Put the lid securely on the mason jar and shake the contents.  Come back 10 minutes later and shake it up again so that all the chia seeds don’t settle on the bottom.  Keep refrigerated until you are ready to eat it.  One a day will last you 5 days…that is if you can keep yourself from eating it all in one day.

Nutrition bonus: Chia seeds are mega-rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids and a great source of protein.  Who knew these little seeds were s powerful?!  5 grams of Omega 3’s and 4 grams of protein in a tablespoon of this special little seeds. 

Chia Seed Fruit Pudding

 Mason Jar Salad

Ingredients

  • 5 quart size mason jars
  • 5 cups of spinach, prewashed
  • 2, 15-oz of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, seeds removed and diced

Directions

This idea is epic and I wish it were my own, but alas, I found the idea on Pinterest.  Be sure to “pin” these recipes.  The important thing with mason jar salad is to make sure your heaviest and wettest ingredients are on the bottom and your greens are on top.  No one likes smushy greens.

Divide out all the ingredients listed above in the 5 mason jars in this order, starting from bottom to top.  Black beans, bell pepper, red onion, spinach.

Nutrition bonusBlack beans equal fiber and protein to keep you a clean and lean machine.  Spinach is your secret calcium source (30 mg in 1 cup).  Yeah baby!  Did you know that Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium?  Maybe you should eat this salad outside. 

Mason Jar Salad

Fruit and Yogurt Parfait

Ingredients

  • 5 pint size mason jars
  • 2 ½ cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 ½ cups fresh or frozen fruit of your choice
  • 5 teaspoons of raw honey

Directions

Mix the Greek yogurt and raw honey.  Divide in half.  Layer half the yogurt mixture in the bottom of each mason jar and then layer in the fruit.  Use the other half of the yogurt as a layer on top of the fruit.  Seal the mason jars and refrigerate until you serve.

Nutrition Bonus: Greek yogurt is packed with health protein.  Depending on the brand, Greek yogurt can have between 10-18 grams of protein per ½ cup serving.  That’s a lot of protein for such a little snack. Fruit is a powerful source of anti-oxidants, and your cells love that.  They dance for the nutritional goodness of plant based power.

Greek Yogurt & Fruit Parfait

————————

JessicaJessica Wyman is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and Yoga Instructor with a passion for helping women make lasting lifestyle changes to kick the chaos, have the energy of a teenager, a youthful glow and to rock their hot jeans. Registration is closes on soon for her Healthy is Sexy 28 Day Nutrition Program. Skip the diet and start counting nutrition. Join Jessica for Smoothies, Yoga, Fashion and even Beauty advice to get your best bod back in 28 days flat. Imagine it…28 days of Healthy Sexy Love straight to your inbox as Jessica lovingly guides and supports you in creating your best life. Learn more at www.jessica-wyman.com

Twigs

Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar

Last week I went to a women bloggers meet-up at Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar at The Village in Meridian. It was our first meeting so I was excited to meet some new peeps.  Plus I got to try a new restaurant!

You can find out more about The Village on my friend Tanya’s blog here.

My dear friend Ammo and I were the first to arrive.  How cool is this hostess station?

Fire decor

FIRE!

(I set fires to feel joy. <- Name that movie.)

This restaurant is big, with a good-sized dining space and bar area.  I was impressed by how it pulls off the ability to be both casual and cocktail.  Like you wouldn’t feel out of place in jeans and a tee, but you could easily dress up for date night and fit in too, such a fun atmosphere!

Decoration

Shortly after taking in the atmo, Ammo and I were joined with the rest of our group!

My Babes

From left: Tanya, Ammo and Me

More Babes

From left: Summer, Jessica and Amy

It was so much fun to network, talk about our goals, achievements, swap stories and share tips.  I learned a lot about photo apps and got some much-needed Instagram advice.  I hope our burgeoning blogging community continues to get together and grow friendships (awwwww!) because it really was fun and helpful.

While we were chatting I pored over the drink menu.  Although the vast martini list did intrigue me, I decided on (and you’ll be so shocked) the Twigs Reserve Syrah.

Syrah

This rich Syrah did not disappoint.  Garnet in color, it was bold on the nose and the palate, with hints of cocoa, black cherry, cloves and damp earth.  Let’s just say I had more than one glass.  A B+ wine.

I emailed the corporate office in Spokane to find out more regarding Twigs signature wines and received a swift response explaining that Twigs Reserve Syrah, Twigs Chardonnay and Twigs TnT red blend are produced by Terra Blanca Winery near Kennewick, Washington and made by winemaker Keith Pilgrim.

I’ll be putting that winery on my list of places to visit!

For dinner I chose the Bistro Steak Salad, which paired really well with the robust wine.  From the menu:  Beef tender pieces sautéed with Worcestershire and garlic over mixed baby greens and romaine tossed with feta cheese, red onions, tomato wedges, roasted cashews and a balsamic vinaigrette.

Steak Salad

It was delicious!  The steak was cooked medium and the dressing was light and tasty.  I’ve never had cashews on a salad before and it’s brilliant!  Must try this at home.

I can also relay that the Gluten Free Crab Mac and Cheese is amazing and also available with regular good ol’ fashioned gluten.  In fact, that’s probably what I’ll be getting on my next visit!

I definitely recommend you try Twigs if you are in the area or in one of their other locations in Washington, Oregon or Utah.

Especially if you are in the company of awesome women such as these:

Boise Blogging Babes