Saturday, October 30, 2010

Goal Achieved, On to the Next One.

I can't believe it's been 40 days since I posted the financial challenge Don and I decided to take on a little more than a month ago. The specific challenge was to not eat out for breakfast or lunch for 40 days and only very sparingly for dinner. The challenge was quite a success! We weren't 100% perfect but at least 95% which is still a strong A. The most rewarding part of the process I think was just the feeling of taking on a challenge together, both being on the same page about it and working together to accomplish it. I mainly took responsibility for making sure we had lunch options in the house, Don made a commitment to come home for lunch rather than eating out, and if ever he had a busy day we tried to plan ahead so that he could take food with him or occasionally I brought lunch down to the office. It also had a nice side effect of getting to eat lunch together almost every day and forcing both of us to take a real quality break from our hectic work schedules.

I also feel like we have truly formed a new habit where we are mindful about not wasting money and resources at lunch time but eating quality food together and taking a real break. I feel like we'll be able to go out to lunch occasionally now as a conscious choice together without overspending and not because of poor planning or wastefulness. But for the most part, we'll continue this new lifestyle of eating together at home and making use of our leftovers.

We were so pleased with results, that we decided to come up with a new challenge for ourselves. A specific commitment that we could set, stick to, and that would improve the quality of our life for the better. This time, we decided to focus on fitness which is sorely lacking in our lives on any consistent basis. We wanted to take on something in the mornings. This way we would get our day off to a good start, which would hopefully spill over to a successful and focused work day, and would leave us free to relax and enjoy our evenings. To really formalize our commitment we wanted to invite other people to be a part of it also. We figured, if we were leading a group, there's no way we would be able to skip out. So we coordinated with another Meetup Group called Bellingham Fun and Fitness and are hosting a sunrise morning walking group at Lake Padden, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings at 6:15 a.m. Yes, I know it's a crazy time of year to start outdoor activities, but that's what weather gear is for and the colder it is the more calories we'll burn. Plus this way we can include the dogs who also need their exercise (yes, they have rain coats too). Finally, in the ever increasing spirit of good financial resourcefulness, the activity doesn't cost us any expensive gym memberships and is something multiple people can do at multiple activity levels. We start Monday, November 1st and have decided to continue this one on up to Christmas week.

I'm looking forward to connecting with my husband through exercise, a hot cup of coffee in front of the fireplace after a cold morning walk, a quality shower before I start my work day instead of rolling out of bed and starting work in my pajamas, beautiful scenes of nature in the morning such as rain drops on the lake, foggy paths, and snow covered trees if we get so lucky, how good it will feel to sleep in on Tuesdays and Thursdays as if we have earned it, meeting more people and inspiring others to exercise, and discovering what new and unexpected delights come out of this just like the serendipitous surprises that came out of our last challenge together.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Roasted Red Cabbage, with Carrots, Apples and Sausage

We adapted another recipe winner tonight. This started as a post from Epicurious called Roasted Sausages, Apples, and Cabbage. I changed the type of sausage and used carrots instead of red onion to make the most of ingredients we had on hand. The best part was that I had it ready for Don and served up by candle light after getting home from an extremely long 11 hour day of work. It definitely was the right thing at the right time and really hit the spot. We served with crusty rolls and a cold glass of dry Strongbow Hard Cider. THE PERFECT COMPLIMENT. Next time, I would serve this along side mashed potatoes for sure.

Roasted Sausages, Apples, and Cabbage with Caraway Bon App├ętit October 2005

Serve this hearty meal with mustard, a side of mashed potatoes, and ice-cold dark German beer.

Yield: Makes 2 servings
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
3-4 carrots, cut lengthwise and then cut into two inch sections
1/2 head red cabbage sliced into 1 inch thick wedges
2 small apples (we used Gala), quartered, cored
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, divided
3 Italian Chicken Sausages, casings removed and crumbled


Preheat oven to 450°F. Mix oil, thyme, and caraway seeds in small bowl. Arrange carrots, cabbage, and apples on heavy large baking sheet. Drizzle oil mixture over. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Drizzle 3/4 teaspoon vinegar over cabbagemixture. Roast 15 minutes. Meanwhile heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in medium frying pan over medium high heat. Saute sausage crumbles until lightly browned. Add sausages to baking sheet; cook until sausages brown and cabbage is crisp-tender, turning once, about 10 minutes longer.

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Mushrooms, Red Onions and Garlic

In the past I have searched for recipes by going to my favorite cooking websites and using their intra search options. Since we've resumed our Dandelion Deliveries however, I've decided to go wider on the world wide web and see what comes of just entering a few key ingredients on Google. It's been quite exciting and has led me to lots more independent and adventurous hobby bloggers like myself. The above photo comes from a blog called "For the Love of Cooking" and came up from a simple search of "roasted fingerling potatoes." By the way, they don't call them "fingerlings" for nothing. I really did feel like I was slicing up a bunch of fat juicy digits. I have to give the blogger credit for this award winning combination and perfect carmelization and presentation as well. I roasted mine a little bit too long so some parts got a bit charred but it was still delicious. However, not quite as photogenic. I hope the blogger doesn't mind that I stole her photo since I'm using it to promote her website anyway. Check out the blog, and do try this recipe. It will not disappoint!

Mustard Marinated Bison Flank Steak dipped in Horseradish

Don and I went on a local farm tour a few weeks back and we discovered a great Bison Farm in our area. We picked up the Steak Lovers Pack and have been experimenting with this new meat. Last night we tried the Flank Steak and it has been my favorite so far. Honestly, I couldn't tell the difference in taste from your standard beef flank but I sure didn't mine that it was a lot lower in calories! We marinated in a zesty mustard marinaded and then served sliced thin across the grain with a dab of prepared horseradish for dipping. What a combo!

Mustard Marinate Bison Flank Steak Dipped in Horseradish

3/4 pounds Flank steak
3 Tablespoons Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard
3 Tablespoons White Wine Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1/2 Teaspoon dried Herbes de Provence
Fresh cracked black pepper to taste

1 Tablespoon prepared Horseradish Sauce on the side for dipping

Preparation Instructions:

Mix mustard, wine, vinegar, oil, herbs and pepper in a shallow dish with a whisk. Add the meat to the marinade sauce turning to coat, cover or seal and place in refrigerator for at least 6 hours or leave overnight. Preheat BBQ to high. Cook for 4. Let stand for 10 minutes, cut into thin slices across grain and serve with a dab of horseradish for dipping.

Sweet Cucumber and Radish Salad

Our Dandelion organic deliveries are back and we have been having some fun in the kitchen again. I love this recipe which combines sweet salty vinaigrette with cool crisp vegetables. It makes a great simple side salad year round. For complete recipe visit: