Thursday, September 27, 2012

Happy Anniversary!!!!

9 years ago today. 

Feels like yesterday and a million years ago all at once. 

My only regret is that we didn't meet sooner because a lifetime 10 lifetimes eternity isn't enough time to love you. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Grandma's Steak Marinade

I feel so lucky that I grew up with a mom and a Grandma that are very good cooks.  Aside from the red label soup casseroles, almost everything I grew up eating was from scratch, which I now realize is very rare.  When my friends were eating their Lunchables and Twinkies and McDonalds every day, we were eating sandwiches on homemade bread and desserts of homemade oatmeal cookies. 

Little did I realize that my mom was saving us from all the chemicals and preservatives that were starting to emerge into the American Diet during my childhood. Whether she did it because she wanted to feed us right, or we were simply to poor to buy all the prepared and fast foods, or a combination of both, I am really grateful that we got started out on right foot.  I didn't have to learn how to like healthy food as an adult, because I wasn't raised on a strict diet of Hot Pockets, Stouffer's Lasagna, and Hamburger Helper.

As a full-time commuting employee and a wife, I really struggle to find a balance between cooking healthy meals or relying on prepared foods and take out.  Many of the convenience foods that we find today are easily made at home in less than a few minutes.

We had the privilege of being able to buy a locally raised grass fed and finished cow at the beginning of this year.  It has really helped our food budget, as well as help us have a freezer full of healthy beef at a fraction of the grocery store price. 

I love to take a cheaper cut of steak and marinate it for a day or two and grill it to a nice medium rare.  Since I've had to be so careful about what I eat now, I was appalled at the ingredients in most steak marinades that we had been blindly buying.  They were full of HFCS, MSG, and all sorts of other ingredients that I cannot pronounce.  How can I expect to benefit from the health values of a grass fed steak when I'm slathering it with the very ingredients that I know are harming my body???

Then I remembered the steak marinade that I carefully copied from my mom's handwritten cookbook from my Grandma.  A simple steak marinade. No yucky ingredients, no MSG, no HFCS.

Don't you just love stained cookbook pages???

Because of my restrictions, I've made a slight change to grandma's recipe and I now use coconut amionos in place of the soy sauce.  I always let my steaks marinate 24-48 hours and marinate in a Ziploc so that the marinade is always covering the steak and there is no need to constantly flip the meat. Let your steak rest at room temperature about 30 minutes prior to grilling.


A nice London Broil ready to grill

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ginger Green Onion Noodles

Somehow I ended up with several bunches of green onions in my fridge that were begging to be used.
  (That's what happens when you go out to Larry's and they were 4 bunches for $1).  

I love green onions and their flavor.  A little sprinkle of them just really seem to add that "little somethin' extra" that seems to be missing when you finish a dish.  

But today, because I had so many to use, I needed something where the green onions  would be the star of the dish.  

I turned to Google, and one recipe caught my attention:  "Ginger Scallion Noodles." Doesn't it look tasty???

I really liked the sound of the sauce and the noodles, but I wanted something that would be a stand alone as an entire meal.  I thought of one of my favorite noodle salads and decided to make my own creation that would still taste as good as the real thing, but still fit within my dietary restrictions.

Ginger - Green Onion Noodles

3 large bunches  thinly sliced green onions (greens and whites)
1/2 cup finely minced peeled fresh ginger
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
Juice of 2 limes
2-3 tbl Fish sauce
2 tbl coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
2 tbl rice wine vinegar
1lb brown rice spaghetti noodles (or regular if not GF)
4 small heads Baby bok choy chopped
12oz fresh Bean sprouts
1 can Bamboo shoots, drained
1 can water chestnut slices, drained

Combine green onions, ginger, grapeseed oil, lime juice, fish sauce, coconut aminos, and vinegar.  Set aside.

Prepare noodles according to package directions.  Drain and rinse.

In a large bowl combine noodles, bok choy, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts.  Add the green onion mixture.  Toss to combine.  Serve at room temperature or refrigerate until serving and enjoy cold. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Lazy Homemade Salsa

My garden hasn't done as great as I hoped it would do this year.  

I'm not really sure what I'm doing right or wrong.  

I'm trying to grow everything organic, but stuff just isn't producing like I had hoped. 

This is only my 3rd year having a garden, so I know I still have lots of learning to go. 

One thing that amazed me this year is that I had a couple plants pop up out of no where and start bearing fruit. 

One is a zucchini plant that has produced two large squashes.

And the other is a yellow pear tomato plant that is the most abundant tomato plant I have ever seen.  

I picked so many of those tiny pear tomatoes the other night that I decided to make salsa.

If you have ever made salsa, it can be quite a labor intensive process, between peeling, seeding, and chopping all the tomatoes and other ingredients.  

And don't forget that time when you chopped a jalapeƱo and then rubbed your eyes a few minutes later....  OUCH! 

I did not have the time or the energy to do that to a bowl full of tiny tomatoes and a handful of tiny tomatillos. 

So I cheated. 

I got out my handy food processor, dumped everything in, gave it a whirl, and ended up with a tasty fresh salsa.

This "recipe" is very forgiving and can be modified according to your tastes and what you have on hand.

Lazy Homemade Salsa

4 cups of fresh tomatoes and tomatillos (husks removed) 
1 bunch of cilantro, large stems removed
1 onion, peeled and cut into quarters
1-2 jalapeƱos, stem removed, seeded (if desired...seeds=spicy)
Juice of 1-2 limes
Salt, to taste

Rinse off all your veggies.  Place all your ingredients, except salt, in the food processor and chop until desired consistency is reached, about 5-30 seconds.  Add salt to taste.  Can be served immediately, or chilled to let the flavors develop.  Stays good in the fridge for a couple of days (if it lasts that long!).

Eat with a giant bag of scoops because you are too tired to make dinner and then fall asleep on the couch in your {clean} gym clothes. 

Or pretend you are an adult and don't have the metabolism of a 12 year old, and use it in your favorite recipe, or to top a taco {salad} after your workout and post gym shower.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Weekend adventures

Dave and I took a short getaway to our favorite place, Lake Tahoe.  It's so nice to live so close to so many amazing places like Lake Tahoe, Monterey, San Francisco, and Bodega Bay.
We drove up one morning, and we made a stop in Placerville at Z-Pie.  We had always seen this place, and were intrigued, but never stopped. 


This place is not gluten-free, or even allergen free (for me at least), and was full of everything I shouldn't be eating. But I ate anyways.  And I suffered....but actually kinda worth it.
Z-Pie is a gourmet pot-pie restaurant.  The menu was small, but appealing.

I chose the southwest chicken at the recommendation of our server and Dave chose one that was on the seasonal menu.

The crust was flakey and crunchy, and the filling was flavorful.  The filling was rich and creamy and full of "goodies."  I found a deal that if you check in with Yelp, you get a free glass of their house red or white wine.  It wasn't the greatest wine I've ever had, but free wine is free wine! 


This trip we stayed with some sweet friends of ours who are lucky enough to live in Tahoe.  They have such beautiful surroundings. We BBQd steak and asparagus, and I made quinoa salad and fruit crisp.  Yummy!
I don't think I could ever get tired of this view.

No trip to Tahoe is complete without a stops at Sprouts Natural Food Cafe.  It's mostly vegetarian food, but I sure don't miss the meat when I'm there.  Their nachos are some of the best I've ever eaten.  But for this trip, we went for breakfast.  Once again, I'm not supposed to be eating this food, but my stomach actually handled it really well.  This is a sprouted wheat organic tortilla filled with black beans, brown rice, steamed eggs, jack cheese, homemade salsa, avocados, and green onions.  I'm finding that sometimes foods that are on my "no" list agree with me more when they are in a "healthy" form, as opposed to junk food.  Like spouted grains agree with me whereas a white flour cupcake does not.  Trial and error right now.  It's such an adventure learning what I can and cannot eat.  I want to recreate this breakfast every day, except a little smaller!

We spent one of the days with our friends at the beach at Emerald Bay.  The view there is so majestic.  I couldn't stop staring at the mountains on one side, the water in front of me, surrounded by a forest of green trees.  It was a picture perfect day!

The next day, Dave and I went to Heavenly Ski Resort to do some hiking.

This was a huge deal for me.  For the past several years, back injuries and being sick have left me enjoying the beauty of Tahoe from the car, the hotel or the beach, never really being able to hike or explore like I had wanted to.  I think Dave was a little skeptical when I said that I wanted to hike.  Probably because last time I couldn't make it more than a few hundred feet without being in horrible pain, chest pounding, unable to breathe.  I couldn't go on, and was upset and it just put a horrible damper on the trip.    

We went to the top of the Gondola, then went up one of the ski lifts to where the hiking trail was.  

I love this sign.  When I was first learning to ski when I was about 7 or 8, I would forget to keep my tips up.  On more than one occasion, I face-planted trying to get off the lift, and shut down the lift while the poor employees tried to get me up and out of the way of the real skiers. Although, nothing will beat the time my friend accidentally kicked off her ski while on the lift and had to be taken down the mountain to get her ski by the ski patrol on an emergency toboggan.  Oh to still have that as the biggest tragedy in my life...

It was amazing.  I haven't been up on ski trails since my dad and sister and I used to ski before he died over 20 years ago. It was such a bittersweet, healing moment for me.  Old sad memories meshing with new happy memories.  I had forgotten how much I love it up there.

Looks so different without the snow!
As we hiked higher and higher, the views got more and more amazing. 

Overlooking Carson Valley

Overlooking Lake Tahoe

I wish this was the view from my bedroom every morning

We got to about a half way point of our hike that was also the start of a ski run.  The view was breathtaking. 
Pinnacle.  The highest point.  A lofty peak.

We stopped right by the sign to take a little rest.  I sat on a bench while Dave wandered into the danger zone to take some pictures. 

As I sat on the bench, enjoying the view and the silence of the mountain, and all the sudden this wave of emotion overcame me.  I was sitting on top (well almost) of the mountain of one of the most beautiful places, and my favorite place, on earth.  Somewhere I have previously not been able to go because I was always in so much pain.  Because my asthma was always so bad.  Because I was always having some sort of stomach distress.  I sat there sobbing.  But these were tears of joy. 

 I could finally go somewhere I had always wanted to go.  

I was finally feeling better enough to do something so physical.  

I am finally starting to reap the benefits of working so hard at my healing.  
I am finally getting my life back. 

We kept on hiking, all the way to the top of the mountain, enjoying so much of the natural beauty that the Sierra Mountains have to offer.

More dead trees

Dead trees are so pretty...
We finally reached our destination.  

The top of the mountain, elevation 10,400 feet. 

Sky Express ski lift

The top of the mountain!

We made it!!! See how happy I am???
The "You are Here" sign at the top of the mountain showing skiers all the different trails. We were up at the very top where the red circle is. 

We stayed at the top of the mountain for a while, just enjoying the view.  Visited with a couple from Kentucky who were very jealous that we live so close to such beauty. 

As we made our way back down the mountain, I felt such a sense of pride and accomplishment.  Sure, to most people this was a short hike, but to me, I conquered a mountain.  It was tough for me, but I didn't have an asthma attack, I didn't feel like I was going to pass out.  I felt tired, yet invigorated.

Walking down back towards Pinnacles.
I can only imagine how beautiful this trail is to ski each winter!!!
On the mountain, I made myself a challenge:  to ski one more time.  Not this season, but hopefully the next...the '13/'14 season.  I don't care if I am in the ski school with 4 year olds, learning how to pizza and french fry all over again, but I'm gonna do it again!