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!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fresh Spring Rolls

Hi all! The pink cowgirl and her family are all packed up and ready for our summer vacation to Bear Lake. Pictures and stories to follow :) I thought now would be a good time to leave you with a fun little dish before I officially hit the road.

This is one easy and great little side dish you can whip up in a jiffy for a snack, appetizer, or side for an Asian inspired dinner. You can even throw in some cooked shrimp or tofu for a light and fresh lunch. Plus, what's even better is that they are naturally gluten free! No craning your brain for gluten free substitutions. Plus, all ingredients are so affordable and easily obtained which is great for us penny pinchin divas :)

Ok, to start, you will need rice paper wraps and rice noodles. All of which can be found at your local Asian store. Both can be bought for less than $5. Which is great considering you will spend $5 just to buy 3-4 made rolls at a restaurant. Most rice paper wraps come in packages of 100. You do the math, my brain is not talented to break down the cost savings. All I know is that I can make them myself at home for MUCH much cheaper.

Next, you need to assemble your filling ingredients. To keep it simple, I like to just add fresh cilantro (roughly chopped), pre-cooked rice noodles (boiled with at least 1/2 teaspoon salt added to the water), chopped lettuce, and julienned carrots), and one big bowl of very warm water.

Take a single rice paper wrap and gently dip it in the water and ensure it is completely wet. I like to keep dipping and rotating to ensure it's all moist. You will feel it begin to soften up. Once wet, place it on your cutting board and start to put your ingredients on.

To wrap your roll, bring two sides over on top of the ingredients then start rolling it from the other end (think rolling/wrapping up a burrito). This is a great little video showing you how to wrap them up:

Once your fresh little spring rolls are all wrapped up, grab some of your favorite sweet chili sauce and enjoy!

Fresh Spring Rolls

Rice Paper Wraps
chopped lettuce
julienned carrots
cooked rice noodles cooked in water with at least 1/2 teaspoon salt

Optional Add ins:
cooked tofu
cooked shrimp
Scrambled eggs
minced peanuts
green onions