Saturday, December 1, 2012

Candy Apple Jelly

Candy Apple Jelly

Hello everyone out there in internet land. I have a delicious and festive jelly recipe for you to try JUST in time for Christmas. You will not believe how easy this is and how tasty the end result is. I find myself making more and more each year as friends and family have come to expect this tasty concoction around the holidays. I also have to admit....I do enjoy making batch after batch of the crimson red stuff as my house smells of Christmas all day after making it. Who needs candles right? 

Isn't this just beautiful? Add some silver ribbon and a little jingle bell and you have the perfect little festive homespun gift :)

Here is the recipe breakdown:

Candy Apple Jelly

5 cups apple juice (no sugar added)
1 box pectin
1 cup red hot candy
7 cups sugar

In a large pot combine the apple juice, pectin, and red hots and heat on high stirring constantly. Bring to a rapid boil that cannot be stirred down. Boil for one minute. Stir in the sugar and continue stirring until completely dissolved. Stir frequently and bring to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Boil for one minute. Remove from heat and ladel into hot jars leaving 1/4″ headspace. Hand tighten lids and process in a water bath for 5 minutes. This recipe will make about 8 half pint jars of beautiful red jelly.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Old Fashioned Beef Stew

Old Fashioned Beef Stew

Comfort food in a bowl. That's what this recipe is all about. When your cold after digging holes all day in the chill of winter or shoveling frozen horse manure this is the perfect way to warm you from the inside out. Well, ok, maybe your winter activities might be a little different than mine, but hey, you get the picture right? Now, my husband's dear grandma loves Paula Dean. She is so cute to watch her show every day and she calls me weekly to find a recipe online then type it up for her. The poor dear is legally blind and she can't write down the ingredients and instructions. Anyway, long story short. I frequent Miss Dean's website frequently. Well, this here is one of the tasty little numbers I came across and had to make. Verdict? Thank you MAM I will make AGAIN. 

Old Fashioned Beef Stew

2 pounds stew beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (Lea and Perrins is a great gluten free brand :)
1 clove garlic, peeled 

2 bay leaves
1 medium onion, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Dash ground allspice or ground cloves
3 large carrots, sliced
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 tablespoons tapioca starch

Brown meat in hot oil. Add water, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, bay leaves, onion, salt, sugar, pepper, paprika, and allspice. Cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours. Remove bay leaves and garlic clove. Add carrots and celery. Cover and cook 30 to 40 minutes longer. To thicken gravy, remove 2 cups hot liquid. Using a separate bowl, combine 1/4 cup water and cornstarch until smooth. Mix with a little hot liquid and return mixture to pot. Stir and cook until bubbly.

Buttermilk Buckwheat Pancakes

Buttermilk Buckwheat Pancakes
Buttermilk Buckwheat Pancakes. Buttermilk Buckwheat Pancakes. Try saying that three times fast haha! So do you want to know what I love about this recipe? It's so easy. It totally reminds me of the good ol' gluten eating days where there was no need to blend flours and no gums to bind the ingredients. All you need is whole grain buckwheat flour. Now, don't be concerned. Buckwheat is not a wheat, nor is it related to the gluten filled grain. It's actually the flour from a grass seed. Anyway, your batter might be thin at first, but be patient, keep stirring, and it will thicken :)

Can't wait to make them? Well, you SHOULD! So here is the recipe so you can:
Buckwheat Pancakes
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons melted butter
Heat a large skillet to medium and grease well. Then mix the dry ingredients together. Add egg, milk and butter, mixing well after each addition. Pour 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle. Cook until bubbles break on surface then carefully flip over and cook another minute or two.

Friday, November 2, 2012

2012 Extreme Horseman's Challenge

Hi there everyone! I finally had a wee bit of downtime and I thought I would share with you a recap of this year's Extreme competitions. I was lucky enough this year to be able to enter and compete in all 6 of the season's competitions. That being said, this years series ended in a lovely belt buckle to the overall winner in each division. Now the divisions go from Youth, Green, Entry, Open, and then Extreme with Extreme obviously being the most challenging AND the most fun, I might add haha!

Now, how the competitions work is there are 20 or so obstacles scattered throughout a HUGE outdoor facility. The goal of the race is to A. Be the fastest through the course and get the most speed points and B. to display the best riding skills AND horsemanship at each individually judged obstacle. So ya, you might be fast, but can you ride well and will your horse willingly do what's asked? I love these competitions so much. They have so many different things they throw at you and a lot of them, you just CAN'T train for. So it really boils down to how well you can communicate to your horse and how much your horse trusts you. What cracks me up, is my little grey horse enjoys competing as much as I do. It's uncanny because he KNOWS when it's go time and he gives me everything he's got when we are racing. It doesn't matter how big the jump or how scary the obstacle, I just have to SHOW him where he needs to go and he does it. There is a re-occurring joke at the center that Smokey and I are crazy and they should open a new category just for us and call it the Kamikaze division. Kinda makes me laugh since he and I are the smallest to compete in the Extreme division. Now, don't get me wrong,  I LOVE these competitions, but I get SO intimidated....there aren't too many women who enter in extreme and seeing all the big time cowboys on their nice big quarter horses really is unsettling. I show up with my humble little truck and very old trailer and pull out my small $50 horse that no one wanted and it's enough to get my heart pumping a bit.

Another challenging piece of the competition is TRYING to memorize the course map. Each competitor gets a map of the course and can walk the course the night before. Now, for people that have a few more brain cells firing in their noggin, this is easy for them. Me.......ya, not so much lol! Honestly, the hardest part of these competitions is trying to remember what obstacle comes next, where I'm supposed to go, how I am supposed to do it, all while my horse is going mach 50 on the course. I will admit that I have.....ahem.....been known to totally miss entire sections of them in the wrong order. One of the judges joked (while me and the other competitors were doing a course walk) that they wanted to make the races challenging, not only for the horse, but for the rider as well.... So THIS year I made a big effort on really working on doing my best to memorize the course map. What has helped is that I started typing up the description of each obstacle AND making a small laminated copy of the course map. So that way, IF I forgot where to go while competing, I could hurry and pull it out and put it back in a jiffy :)

So as far as the obstacles go, there has been some real fun and a few difficult ones. My favorites are always, of course, the jumps. I swear my little horse is a stadium jumper at heart. Every picture we have of him jumping he has such great form, his ears are pricked forward, and it really looks like he is enjoying himself. Last year, they had a large log that was set OUT of a recessed water obstacle that you got 5 bonus points if you jumped OUT of the water OVER the log. It was one of the only instances I held the saddle horn and let the rein loose and told my horse "Smoke, balls in your court buddy, get us over that thing". I was so excited that one of the photographers caught us right as we were leaping over the log :) Only one other competitor attempted the log jump and his horse got high centered (both he and his horse were ok ;). There were some funny obstacles they through in as well. One was to sort ONE goat from a herd of sheep AND goats. Well, ONE of the competitors just jumped off his horse, grabbed a goat by the horn, and placed it in the correct pen. Which he got 4 points for being creative! Seeeeeee, that's why these competitions are SO fun! You can think outside of the box. Not to brag though....but Smokey and I got a SHEEP out and penned it WHILE I was still mounted hehehe. Now, the obstacle that I just couldn't master (which ALWAYS lost me points) is the pony express run. It was a spot where you got 5 balloons and while at a gallop, you had to try and hit 3 targets. Ya, ummmm I took big fat ZERO's on that one.....I didn't even come within 1 foot of the targets and most of the time clutz of the year me, would end up dropping all the balloons BEFORE I even had a chance to hit a target lol! Another obstacle that I THOUGHT would give my horse a difficult time was a freshly slaughtered animal skin. I don't hunt and Smokey has never been around anything deceased. The goal of the obstacle was to place the animal skin on the neck of your horse, gallop to a point, and drop it off. Well, they threw in a loud obnoxious coyote call RIGHT when you went to pick the skin up. Thankfully, it didn't phase Smoke one bit. Some other fun things they have done is making you hold a big bouquet of balloons while going over a bunch of scattered telephone poles. So you had to have good balance to jump over those things WHILE holding a bunch of balloons. Then another was to push a big inflated ball in between two goal posts in the water. One of my favorites was on the last competition where you had to ride bareback for a good 100 yards or more at a gallop, dismount, saddle as quickly as you could, then continue the race.

All in all it was a great year full of fun, friends, and competition. I really enjoyed getting to know the other competitors. Once we all got to know each other, it was fun to throw out some friendly banter and jabs at each other. I would joke that they were on horses slow as molasses, and they would joke about me getting lost. Oh speaking of getting lost. This is a funny story I have to share.....So the competition in September was one of Smokey and my best runs. He literally FLEW and I swear it was our fastest time. I also didn't get lost and I could remember my obstacles and the order I was supposed to do them. SOOOooooOOOOoo I do my last obstacle and Smokey and I start hauling balls to the finish line when all the competitors are yelling my name and pointing. So I freak out thinking I'm going the wrong way to the finish line. So I pull Smokey into a big circle to try and find where I'm supposed to go. Well, everyone is STILL pointing and yelling at me and I can't figure out WHERE I'm supposed to FINISH the darned race at. I literally did 4 huge circles and wasted 30 seconds of my race time trying to find the danged finish line......SO ya, after that, NO one let me forget that the ditzy blonde couldn't find the finish lol! So what's even more funny is Smokey and I STILL had the fastest time even with the 30 extra seconds lol!

So the results of this year's races? Smoke and I won the year end buckle :) We won 4 of the six, tied for second place once (since I had the slower time by 17 seconds, I took second), and came in second once. I was so proud of my little horse. He really is one of those "once in a lifetime" horses and I'm so glad I nabbed him up when no one else would. He might be small, but don't tell him that. He beats out horses double his size. It was such a fun year and Smokey and I enjoyed every bit of it. I will say, I'm glad the season is over and Smokey and I can relax....until next year that is ;)

So here are some pictures and a video of this year's races. Thanks for taking the time to read my little blog!
Chit chatting with a competitor before the race

Heading towards the next obstacle

Going over the jump and landing on a steep hill. I wish you could see how steep our landing was....this was certainly a tricky one.
Those floating milk jugs could be pretty skeeeeery ;)

 Smokey launching us over a log and into the water

Coming down the "three step"

Here is another shot of us coming down the steps

 Easy Smoke!

 Heading towards the finish line (didn't get lost this time hahaha!)

Flying through the water obstacle :)

Ok, this picture wasn't taken THIS year, it was the crazy big jump we did last year that I mentioned earlier. I had to share it since it is pretty much the biggest obstacle/jump we have done together.

Here is the link to the video of us sorting.....or at least ATTEMPTING to sort goats hahaha!
Sorting Goats 

Aaaaaaand here is dorky me with my buckle. Don't mind the pink hair, it was part of the costume from earlier ;) The last race we could all dress up :)

Lastly, the belt buckle :) 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hawiian Haystacks....GLUTEN free style

Hawaiian Haystacks
Yes, good ol' Americana style dinner and YES YOU can make it! It's easy. Almost as easy as opening up a can of cream of chicken soup. Well, ALMOST that easy ;) If your family is like my family it would be a favorite meal for Mom to make. It's a mom favorite because there is really minimal preparation and it's a great way to get your family to eat some veggies that they normally wouldn't.
So here is the recipe rundown:
Gluten Free Hawiiain Haystacks
3 tablespoons butter
3-5 tablespoons sweet rice flour
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup chicken broth or stock
1-2 tablespoons butter or oil
2 chicken breasts or chicken thighs
salt and pepper to taste
Now for the fun stuff:
cooked rice
pineapple chunks
shredded cheese
sliced black olives
chopped tomatoes
diced green onions
diced bell peppers (any color)
for the crunchy stuff....gluten free Fritos :)
In a medium sized saucepan on medium heat melt the butter and saute onions until tender. Add roughly 3 tablespoons sweet rice flour and whisk until smooth. Slowly add the milk whisking until smooth. Keep whisking until sauce thickens to a paste (about 1-2 minutes). Then slowly whisk in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Keep simmering until sauce begins to thicken. Add more sweet rice flour if needed to thicken to a gravy like consistency. Once sauce reaches the the desired consistency, lower heat to low to keep warm. Then in a medium sized fry pan, warm up a little butter or oil then cook the cubed chicken. Once cooked, add to the chicken sauce.
To serve, place rice on a plate then top with chicken and sauce then add your desired toppings. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Carrot Salad

Carrot Salad

This one is a classic, that's for sure .It's simple, easy, and a perfect side to bring to share with your friends and family.
Now, the sauce can TEND to get runny and if you are a motivated soul, go ahead and pile your shredded carrots on some kitchen towels or paper towels. Also, do not be afraid of the amount of salt. Just trust me. Be brave. Measure out the full 1/2 teaspoon and mix it in. Now pat yourself on the back :) Also, you can add either crushed pineapple or pineapple chunks. Me? Well, I'm not a crushed sort of girl. I like my chunks....but for this recipe I like to roughly chop up the pineapple chunks. Now, if your a chunk person, then by all means, just add the chunks. Same if your a crushed sort of person. Really, crushed, chunked, it's all up to you.

Carrot Salad

1 lb shredded carrots
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup pineapple chunks (drained and lightly chopped)

For the dressing

2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayo
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Shred carrots and place on paper towels to dry. Meanwhile, mix together the sauce ingredients and prepare pineapple and raisins. When sauce is mixed, toss the carrots, raisins, pineapple, and dressing in a large bowl. Allow to chill for at least 20 minutes prior to serving.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Oven Roasted Summer Vegetables and Chicken

Oven Roasted Summer Vegetables and Chicken
Yes, the garden is brimming full of vegetable goodness. It's a wonderful feeling walking outside to pick fresh homegrown goodies while getting inspired with what to make. Here is an easy quick little number you can toss in the pot, bake, and eat :) Enjoy! 

Oven Roasted Summer Vegetables and Chicken
4 chicken thighs
3-4 medium tomatoes
1/2 onion (red, yellow, or white)
1 bell pepper (red, green, yellow, orange)
1 cup summer squash
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon oregano
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350. Chop your vegetables and place chicken and veggies into casserole dish. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper then toss. make sure the veggies and chicken are all layered and incorporated evenly. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Allow to rest 7 minutes before serving. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tomato Zucchini Baked Eggs

Tomato Zucchini Baked Eggs
Hello everyone. This is a tasty easy one dish breakfast you can whisk up (pun intended....and YES I know it's scraping the bottom of the barrel for that one). All you need are tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, zucchini, and eggs. This is one of our favorite weekend recipes. My daughter loves going out and picking a handful of tomatoes and I love that she is learning where our food comes from.
Anyway, the compilation of this dish is very very easy. Warm up about 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter in a medium pan and then dice up about 3-4 medium sized tomatoes and dice them into 1/2" pieces. When the oil is warm (not hot), saute the maters on medium heat. Meanwhile, shred up about 1/2-3/4 cups zucchini. Continue cooking the tomatoes stirring frequently until the liquid is pretty much cooked off. Add the zucchini then cook for a few minutes softening the squash (only about a minute ore two). Remove from heat and spoon into a small casserole dish. Next whisk up about 4 eggs and add 1/4 cup shredded parmesan or mozzarella cheese (really, either one will work. Heck, you could even use cheddar, pepper jack, whatever. Cheese really comes down to personal preference, or in my case, whatever kind I happen to have handy in my fridge :).  Pour over tomatoes and zucchini then sprinkle with salt and pepper then  mix gently. Place in a preheated oven to 350 and bake for 10-13 minutes or until eggs are completely baked.
Tomato Zucchini Baked Eggs
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3-4 medium sized tomatoes diced
1/2-3/4 cups shredded zucchini
4 eggs
1/4 cup shredded parmesan or mozzarella cheese (save some for sprinkling on top)
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350. In a medium sized pan warm oil then cook tomatoes stirring constantly until the liquid is cooked off. Add the zucchini and cook for a few minutes until tender. Remove from heat and spoon into a greased small casserole dish. Whisk eggs together and add cheese. Pour over tomato squash mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then stir lightly. Sprinkle the extra cheese on top then bake for roughly 10-15 minutes or until eggs are slightly browned on top and cooked thoroughly.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Half Marathon......I did it.

Ok, here it is. My official report from my very firstest half marathon. First off, I finished. After all those months and miles of running I finally completed my goal September 1st 2012. I will say that this particular race was Much harder than I had anticipated. I knew it would be hard as the course would take me literally up the face of a mountain and I would gain over 1,100 feet of elevation. I have to admit.....there WAS walking, there was cursing, and there was thoughts of giving up.

The morning of the race it was POURING rain. I mean, cold, wet, miserable. YUCK. I'm honestly thinking this is the day I have been waiting for and it's pouring? Regretfully I did not follow Hal Higdon's advice from his Marathon book I had been religiously reading and didn't plan for inclement weather. Thankfully my dad provided me with a waterproof jacket which I was most grateful for.

Once I arrived at the beginning of the race the butterflies and anxieties hit. I really get intimidated when I see so many more seasoned runners and the reality of going running 13.1 hard miles was hitting home. Now, I don't know WHY those fears gets the best of me. It's not like I'm racing against anyone. I had nothing to prove aside from just doing the race. Anyway, enough of that.

Now, the blessing in disguise to this half marathon journey was the icky kucky rain. It literally stopped within the first mile and it made for a cool relaxing run instead of the hot sweaty one I was expecting. I had mentioned before. The course was much harder than I expected. Now I KNEW it would be tough....just didn't realize how honest to goodness grueling it would be. The whole first half was all up hill.....but were talking STEEP. Even the hardcore seasoned runners were walking at the steepest points. Now.....I had also mentioned there were thoughts of giving up. I won't lie. Miles 3-5 were the hardest. The worst was a stretch about 2 miles long that was so intense with an long long hill climb with no breaks and no flattening of the course. There were a few moments I thought "I can't do this, I should turn around". Then the thoughts of humiliation facing all the runners behind me trucking along and I had been the one to give up.  Even when people were passing me left and right, I could not even muster up my competitiveness to speed up and not allow another runner get passed me. They just kept on moving past me and I did not care. I wasn't in it to have the fastest time. I was in it to finish. I won't lie. It was a difficult time in the race....especially knowing I wasn't even halfway through and I still had miles more to go. One thing I found to help me continue is keeping my nose to the ground I wouldn't get so discouraged. If I looked ahead,  all I would see is the runners ahead of me continuing going up the grueling ascent. Realizing that there was STILL more hills ahead of me was SO disheartening.

Finally.....I reached the aid station which was just before halfway the halfway point. It was a great feeling knowing that I had made it to the top. It was all downhill from there. Not that running downhill is easy...but gravity has to help you out coming DOWN the mountain right? Well, even if gravity wouldn't help my legs to carry me on my descent, it was a nice thought anyway and at least there were no more hills :) At the aid station I ended up chatting with some runners who were keeping roughly the same pace with me. Most of the race I was alone being stuck in between the fast pack and slow pack. Anyway we got talking and they were shocked to find that this was my first half marathon. Especially that I was keeping their pace. I guess they had run the Bear Lake Monster three times before and have completed many full marathons *insert inferiority complex....*
What did give me some confidence and made me smile inside is that the girl told me that if I could run  THIS race, I could easily do a marathon. I believe it. The Bear Lake Monster Half was one of the hardest physical things I have ever done in my life.  

So to continue my story, at about mile 8 or 9 the couple I was  chit chatting with got way ahead of me. It didn't bother me one bit. They are way more experienced runners than I am and was pretty experienced with this particular race. So I was back to being by myself just trucking along jamming to my tunes on the ipod shuffle. Now you want to know something crazy?? Well at mile 10 I was feeling GREAT! Like really really good. I was stretching out and REALLY running. It was tough though because at this point, my thighs felt like they were on fire. Running down such steep inclines really was doing a number on them. I think a big part of what was making me feel so good is knowing I only had 3 miles to go. A half an hour. My daily run. I can DO this. Now....what's even crazier is around mile 11 I passed the couple who I chit chatted with and who had gotten so far ahead of me. Then I passed two more runners at mile 12 :)smile I honestly was a bit in shock. I actually lost count of how many people I had passed at the end. Now, I will admit. the last mile I believe was the hardest of the race. The course had flattened and my friend gravity had disappeared. I could SEE where the end of the race was, but I swear the closer I got, the further away it seemed haha! So, I put my nose to the ground again, found a great Metallica song, and just put one foot in front of the other. There was quite the inner argument going on inside my little head. I really did want to walk so bad. Like even just 10 steps. But I kept telling myself no. I had less than 9 minutes to go, then 8, then 7, and get the picture.

What brought tears to my eyes is when my sweet, wonderful, supportive family recognized me at the end. My sweet daughter and my cousin Kevin started running along with me to help me to the finish line. Honestly, I couldn't say one word at that point. In fact, there was most likely much whimpering, huffing, puffing, and groaning at that point. All whining aside.....I passed the finish line. I through my hands in the air and hugged anyone who would allow a red faced, sweaty, overly exhausted 30 something year old to do so ;)

What an experience. Ya know.....I have always had a hard time doing long term planning. Not that I don't follow through, it's just the actual making the goal, working towards it, then finishing. I'm so glad I did. All the hard work.....sometimes painful.....sometimes sick.....most of the time after day, week after week, for months really paid off. I am still shocked I did it....and I have to admit, with a very respectable time of 2 hours 26 minutes and 26 seconds. I also have to toot the horn a bit....I actually placed fourth overall in the women's division. Not novice, age group, ect. Of all the women, I got fourth :)

So everyone, thank you for reading. I really do appreciate you taking time to read my little half marathon story. It truly was an experience I doubt I will be forgetting anytime soon. Stay tuned to hear about a full marathon recap next year hehehehe :)

Now how about some pictures?

Rainy rainy morning
Trucking along.....before I realized I was being "watched"
Dork Jill realizing there was an audience 

 While I was running my Half, my cousin Kevin (in the red shorts) and my daughter Kassidy (ONLY 6 year old) ran the 5k :)

And my mommy raced the 5k too! Because of the course being mismarked, they actually ended up doing just short of a 10k race. I just LOVE my family and I'm so excited they are picking up running. Kevin is such an inspiration as he is the only one in my family who has ran an entire marathon :) 
The fam did it!!!!!!!!!!!! 
And here is my wonderful family waiting for me. My Grandpa, Mom, Daughter, and brother :) is the where the race ends. Now that itty bitty little bit of a hill going up to the lighthouse was just pure diabolical as you had to run UP it to finish your race. After all the hills I had JUST ran, my legs were jelly and I almost didn't make it up. Ok, that was exaggerating, but it WAS hard to run up at the end haha! 
The end is near!!!!! "I think I can....I think I can"
Out of the whole race, this last little stretch running with my daughter brought a tear to my eye. I just love my little kid and she helped me to the finish line :) 
It's OVER and I did it :) 
Yes, it WAS a monster haha! 

My wonderful family :) I love them so much! I can't wait to do it again NEXT year :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Plum Salsa

Plum Salsa

So what does one do with a bumper crop of jalapenos, Armenian cucumbers, and a very generous neighbor who gives you two grocery sacks filled to the brim with freshly picked plums? You get creative. Now, I remembered a while back I had stumbled across some interesting salsa recipes on Martha Stewart's website. So after a bit of Googling I found the recipe and promptly got to dicing and a slicing. Now, you don't HAVE to use Armenian cucumbers. I just happened to use them because I had about 3 foot long buggars, so that's what I used.  

Isn't that a pretty looking salsa?

Now, go make you some then get yourself a yummy Beanitos chip and enjoy! 

Plum Salsa

1 lb diced plums
1 small/medium cucumber diced
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1/2 - 1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 teaspoon ground garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 finely diced jalapeno (seeds removed)

Toss all ingredients in a bowl and let sit at least 30 minutes before serving.
**I PROMISE to post results of my first half marathon. I'm just waiting for pictures from OTHER people's cameras ;) **

Saturday, August 25, 2012

In one week.....

Hi everyone!

So today, I'm excited to say that in one week I am officially running my very first Half Marathon. Now, let me tell you a little secret. I love to run. Well....NOW that is. My darling Uncle Brad introduced me into 5k's last year and you know what? I hated them. Actually, I don't think "hate" really explained my feelings towards the roughly 3 mile races. More like abhor, despise, and yes, hate. Anyway, so you want to know another funny thing? Well, the very firstest 5k race my uncle had talked me into entering was at our family's vacation destination, Bear Lake. Anyway, here I'm thinking..."I'm fit, I can run 3 miles, and I DON'T want my 50+ uncle to beat me cuz I'm young and spry" right? Well, let me tell you that there is nothing more humbling than seeing your elderly uncle fly right past you and there isn't one darned thing you can do about it. I gave a feeble wave and attempted to utter "see you at the end" whilst trying to keep from having an asthmatic attack haha! Anyway, long story short, I DID continue to enter 5k races with my uncle last year although each time I was running them I kept thinking "why did I agree to this"? Then of course, uncle would fly past me and I would arrive at the finish line bright red faced, dripping with sweat, MINUTES later. I did however manage to make a new PR (personal record) at each race I would do. My last race of last year was a race for the Celiacs at Utah's gluten free Expo. Yay for Celiacs!!!!! Anyway, I did my run in roughly 27 minutes (which was much better than my 35 minute first 5k time). Brad, my uncle, of course destroyed me timewise.

Now, this year, I made a new years resolution. To run a half marathon. Please don't tell me why I made that choice. I'm not looking to lose weight and with my business/work I stay in pretty descent physical fitness. Maybe I chose that goal to really step outside my comfort levels. See, as I hinted previously, I do not like running. At all. So to get myself to run 13.1 miles continuously would really be a challenge. I had one contingency with running the half marathon. I would take my training slowly. Not rush. I didn't want to get injured and I wanted to leave room for me to have off weeks/days in case I got sick or my business was too demanding.

Speaking of this year. I have been able to complete some mini-goals that I have made (to go with my HM training). One is to run a 24 minute 5k. Which I did at a charity run in July :) to beat uncle in a race. As much as I would like to say that I quietly enjoyed my win and was a humble competitor, I have to say that I DIDN'T. Sorry, but a little face rubbing was in order.

So here it is. Almost September and guess what? I think I am ready :) Honestly, I have to say, I'm proud of myself for sticking things through and keeping up with my goal. It has not been easy. There were sometimes I did not want to run, but I did anyway. There were times I was so tired from work, or horses, or from accidentally ingesting gluten, or losing my motivation but I still managed to keep lacing up my sneakers to head out. I will say. It's a great feeling knowing you have pushed yourself and challenged yourself. Honestly, if YOU don't do one will.

Now my race that I picked isn't your standard flat road Half Marathon. I of course had to pick a trail run that will gain 1,300 feet of elevation and be up at Bear Lake which is even a higher elevation than where I live in Salt Lake. I chose this race because my entire family will be there (Mom and Dad, Grandpa, cousin Kevin, AND my Brother and Sis-Inlaw who are coming up from Moab). I also won on a Facebook contest a free entry. So even though I'm a bit stir crazy for signing up for THIS race. I had some other motivators.

Here is a linky to view the map I will be running.

Bear Lake Monster Race Map

Anyway, so please, everyone, cross your fingers, toes, eyes, arms, legs, and any other appendage for me next Saturday haha! My goal is not to finish and to run the whole thing. I'm not looking to be breaking any land speed records. Just to finish :) I will be sure and update you all on how it goes and of course post pictures :)

Speaking of pictures, here are some fun pictures of previous runs :)

The very firstest 5k Race ever with the uncle :)
The after....."me thinking WHY did I agree to this?"
Second 5k race (racing with Elizabeth Smart). Note the most awesome red sweaty face and thinking once again "why did I agree to this"
Us all with Elizabeth (she is on my left).
My PR 5k of 24:15 :) Kyle and Kass ran this one. I am so proud of her!
and the race in April with Brad and his boys (my cousins Kevin and Scott).
Ok, thanks for indulging me with my little running story. Hopefully I will be alive after my Half Marathon trail run to give you all an update hehehe. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Summer Macaroni Salad

Summer Macaroni Salad

Summer foods. I just love them. Barbecues, fresh home grown vegetables, light and refreshing tastes, and ice cold lemonade. There is just something to be said about throwing meat on the grill then serving it up with a cool fresh salad that just says "Summer". It's those no-fuss meals we all have come to love that seems to create some of the best family memories. I remember being at my grandma's house with my parents, brother, aunt, uncle, and cousins all enjoying each other's company outside while my dad man's the grill and my grandma and mom man the kitchen. When the meal was all said and done at least ONE of us would dump a glass of ice cold water down another's shirt and that was that. Another epic soaking battle had commenced. Those memories are some of the best I can remember and I know I will always remember them. Family, good food, and fun.

Speaking of good food and summer fun. How about an easy tasty summer salad recipe?

Summer Macaroni Salad

2 cups cooked gluten free pasta
1/2 cup thawed frozen peas (honestly, I just throw them in the salad frozen and allow them to thaw naturally
1 celery rib diced
1 carrot finely diced
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/2 cup mayo
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Mix in a pourable measuring cup the mayo, vinegar, cider vinegar, celery salt, and pepper. In a larger bowl combine pasta, peas, celery, carrot, and onion. Pour sauce over and carefully mix the ingredients all together.

That's all! I hope you enjoy this recipe and hope you enjoy some fun family barbecue's this summer :)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Grilled Eggplant Risotto

Grilled Eggplant Risotto

Ok, so I have decided.....I adore eggplant. Seriously folks. I could have a love affair with the deep dark purpley (yes, another Jillism) creamy vegetable. Ok, I admit, that was a bit much....but in all seriousness I love eggplant. Comfort food extraordinaire. I love how it absorbs any sort of flavor it's cooked in and I adore it's rich creaminess.

So today I made eggplant risotto. After a very very busy day doing my sign business and missing out on eating lunch I needed something to stick to my ribs tonight. As time consuming as making risotto is, it really isn't a difficult dish to prepare. Just lots of stirring. Which was fine. I just sat on my keester, played on my netbook, and stirred.

Here is the recipe breakdown. I thoroughly recommend making this guys. It's full of earthy, starchy, creamy goodness.

Grilled Eggplant Risotto

1 large eggplant cut into 1" thick slices
olive oil (for brushing on the eggplant)
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup finely minced onion
2 tablespoons finely minced shallot
2-3 crushed garlic cloves
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine
3 cups hot chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup milk (or heavy cream if you happen to have some. Otherwise, milk works fine)
salt and pepper

Warm up your grill and brush the olive oil on each side of the eggplant then lightly salt. Place on the grill on medium/low heat. While your eggplant is cooking prepare the onion, shallot, and garlic. Melt the butter and add the remaining olive oil on a large skillet on medium heat. Once melted, add the rice, onion, shallot, and garlic stirring frequently. Add the wine and allow to fully cook/absorb into the rice. Next, add the broth at 1/4 cup increments stirring frequently allowing the broth to cook into the rice before adding more. After about 10 minutes, turn the eggplants on the grill, then cook an additional 10 minutes on the other side. When eggplant is completely cooked remove peel and place in a blender along with the milk. Blend until smooth and set aside. When the rice is cooked stir in the eggplant then season with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hot and Spicy Pickled Peppers, Carrots, and Cauliflower

 Spicy Pickled Veggie Goodness

Yes, that's what this post is all about. First off, aside from my adoration of ginger, my second love would be pickled anything. Dilly beans, pickled peppers, good ol' regular pickles, pickled beets, getting the picture here? Well, today, I decided to pickle. I was inspired to do some preserving as today was pretty much the first REAL day of harvesting from the garden. My daughter and I were full of giggles going from plant to plant picking and digging and getting our hands all covered in dirt. Good times and great memories :) 

Ok, so I have to share a picture of my little sweety and our crop of home grown goodness before I get into the pickling fun. (please forgive the fact that these are cell phone pics)

So the squash blossom in the ear was her idea. She kept giggling that she was the princess of "Garden Land".

Yay for vegetables!

So my pickling adventure starts with Rachel Ray's Giardiniera recipe found in the July/August issue. Now I changed it up a bit to utilize my gypsy peppers that sort of went a bit crazy this year. I also doubled the brine as it just did not seem like enough.

Now here is my adaptation of the recipe

Hot and Spicy Pickled Vegetables

2 cups cauliflower florets
2 cups sliced carrots (cut into bite sized pieces)
ice water
2 1/2 cup cider vinegar (her recipe calls for white wine)
2/3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons salt
1 cup shredded fennel (hers calls for 2 cups)
1 cup pearl onions (hers calls for 2 cups)
1 fennel bulb sliced into 1" pieces
2 cups gypsy or bell peppers
1 cup sliced jalapenos
4 cups water
10 dried hot red peppers (or 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes)
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds

In a large pot of boiling water cook the cauliflower and carrots for 2 minutes. Drain and transfer to the ice water once 2 minutes is up. In the same pot, bring the water, sugar, and salt to a boil. Add the cooled carrots, cauliflower, and remaining ingredients and bring to a boil again. Remove from heat. With a slotted spoon transfer vegetables into hot sterilized jars. Ladle in the hot pickling liquid leaving 1/2" headspace. Seal jars, then process jars for 15 minutes in a water bath. This made 4 half pints.

Enjoy and happy canning everyone!