Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I did Zuzana's workout again today. Click here for the full details if you would like to give it a try. Instructional videos are included.

I had to make a few modifications due to lack of equipment and activity level.

I started with 2.25 mile run for warm up.

Then I went into Zuzana's work out. I increased the length of interval from 30 to 50 seconds and then shortened the number of rounds from 6 to 4. Also, I alternated exercises each round rather than doing all of the same exercises in a row since I knew I would be too week and thought I would get more benefit this way while I'm still building a base line of strength. My scores were as follows:

Dynamic Squats: 26, 28, 28, 27.5
Reverse Pushups: 11, 14, 12, 13 (my treadmill has the perfect handles for this exercise)
Dive Bombers: 6, 7.5, 6, 9 (these are hard, my form sucked but I'll stick with it until I get better)
Prisoner Get Up: 4, 3.5, 5, 5 (I had to use my hands to help on the last 2 rounds as I wasn't getting anywhere)

Cool Down was 30 minutes of a Yoga Flexibility DVD with Rodney Yee. I did in front of the fireplace to enhance relaxation.

Total workout calorie burn all together was 493 calories!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Worst Road Trip Ever

I can safely say that yesterday was the worst road trip we've ever had. Even before it started it was already going downhill. Don was sick the night before so not only did he go to bed early and leave me with the majority of the chores, packing, and car rearranging, but then he ended up being up most of the night with alternating chills and sweats, upset stomach, you name it, so we were already starting off a 10 hour road trip with almost no sleep for either of us. I couldn't get everything done by myself so the following morning we were still rearranging the car, getting dishes done, etc and left more than an hour after I would have liked to which only concerned me because snow was in the forecast and we wanted to maximize daylight hours.

But things mostly progressed well enough until we hit La Grande, OR and all of a sudden hit a road block out of nowhere that said road closed, use alternate routes. So we barely veered off the freeway in time and when faced with one sign that said West and another that said south, we opted for south. I quickly hopped on the internet and began investigating the closures and alternate routes. Oregon DOT website was completely useless as was their phone recording. The internet said that I84 was closed for a 70 mile stretch! But reports from the local Fedex driver led us to believe this was not the case. We found a route that took us through a little town called Union and led back to I84 about 15 miles south of La Grande. We figured it was worth checking out as we had nothing else to do. So we moved along and got back on to find a free flowing freeway. Victory! Or so we thought.

Things were looking optimistic and we moved a long for a good 15 miles before we hit a dead stop. Weather conditions were worsening and we figured there must have been accidents related to weather. So we pulled over and put on our chains. What an adventure! I'd recently gotten my car stuck on Chris Duppenthaler's hill in the snow and ice so we attempted to use Don's chains to get my car out, however they were too small for my car. But the 30 minute trial and error process before we figured that out, at least helped us figure out how they were supposed to work if they did fit my car. Thankful for this base knowledge, we at least started with some understanding and were out in the snow digging around the tires and using all our strength to get them on. The suckers are a tight fit so it took quite a bit of maneuvering to figure out how to get them all spaced perfectly enough to close the loop. Once the traffic started moving along we were able to tread forward confidently that these chains certainly weren't going to come off.

Sadly, the moving along was not to come for quite some time -- about 3 hours to be specific at a dead stop. Finally we started inching along at three miles an hour, stopped a few more times, and then eventually caught up to officials pulling all the trucks over and requiring them to put on chains, and another mile ahead of that an accident with a 3 Semi Truck pileup. After that the traffic opened up, but still we were only able to go 30 miles an hour with the snow and chains. Eventually the road and weather conditions thinned out enough for us to take the chains off and we gradually increased our speed as our elevation declined and the conditions improved.

I managed to keep a positive attitude during the majority of the traffic jam. It was a helpless condition and nothing we could do about it but wait it out. We were lucky that we had gassed up and used the restroom right before hand so were quite aware that it could have been worse. Poor Don though already not feeling well and with a headache too boot. It just plain sucked. Cordy and Seumas needless to say HATED the whole arrangement. Seumas kept letting out this totally frustrated and stressed out groan/moan/cry from the back seat, followed by heavy sighing. All Don and I could do was laugh and shake our heads because he was just verbalizing what every single one of us felt like in the car. The traffic jam was one thing, but the worst part of it was knowing that we were so close to our destination and yet once we got going it would still be several hours until we were there. So basically, we drove 8 hours to begin with only to have the last 100 miles take nearly 6 hours in and of itself. We are so glad to be here now and glad that we have a long week before we have to head back again. Bring on the Christmas Vacation.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Makin' Moroccan

The great thing about Moroccan food is that it smells as good as it tastes while it's cooking. this slow braised meal full of delicious spices like Cinnamon, Turmeric, Cumin and Cayenne had Cordy doing back flips to get my attention. She was about coming out of her skin desperate to get me to let her share in the feast. Today I am glad to be of a superior species with opposable thumbs because, Cordy Girl, You are missing out!

The recipe was inspired by this recipe here on Epicurious, but I adopted a few variations and made it my own.

Moroccan Spiced Chicken with Roasted Shallots and Mixed Dried Fruit

4 chicken thighs
4 chicken legs
1 Tablespoon Peanut Oil
Salt and Pepper
1 Tablespoon Flour
8 Shallots, peeled and left whole
2 Cinnamon Sticks
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne
2 Cups Chicken Broth
1 orange, juiced
1/4 cup Mediterranean Mixed Dried Fruit (dates, apricots, tart cherries)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat peanut oil in a large sauce pan over medium high heat. Season chicken with salt, pepper, and dust with flour. Brown chicken about five minutes on each side until golden brown on all sides. Be careful not to crowed the pan, it's best to do in two batches as ideally you do not want the chicken pieces to touch while browning. Remove chicken and set aside.

Add shallots to the pan, lower to medium heat and saute several minutes until golden brown. Add spices (cinnamon sticks, ginger, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne) and saute stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chicken broth and orange juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 18 minutes until shallots are soft. Add the chicken back to the pan, cover and summer another 25 minutes until chicken is done (juices should run clear when stabbed with a fork in the thickest part of the meat.) Remove the chicken and shallots to a serving bowl and tent with foil to keep warm.

Turn the heat back up to medium high and simmer the broth until it thickens slightly. Add the dried fruit and cook another two minutes until well heated. Stir in the Cilantro. Pour over the chicken and serve.

We had this with roasted delicata squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed, and dotted with butter and brown sugar. Bake in the oven at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes until done.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gaming Dinner

Since Don and I moved back to Bellingham, Gaming has been a regular part of our weekly routine. We currently have three campaigns going which we rotate between Tuesdays and every other Friday. It's been a vital part of our social life as not only do we have great fun with an activity we enjoy so much, but it's with some of our closest and dearest friends. Shortly after we moved here and joined the group we started doing weekly dinner rotations on gaming nights. Seriously, we have a schedule and everything. It's been an exciting adventure as we have some very culinarily talented friends among our group so each gaming session brings a new variety of home cooked delights as we each try to one up the last hosted dinner.

This week Don and I happened to be up for rotation and we stole this one straight from Cora Reuter which she prepared for us when we were in Tacoma last week. Not only is it delicious but it's inexpensive and feeds an Army. Cora, if you are reading this I was SHOCKED after I mixed all the noodles, veggies, cheese, and sauce together in a giant bowl that it all actually fit in my pyrex dish! Thanks Cora for bringing this recipe into my life and I'm excited to pass it on. The recipe is called "Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables" is by Giada de Laurentiis and can be found on the Food Network Website. No huge modifications or improvements here. This one is perfect exactly as written. Follow the instructions and you can't go wrong. It's even vegetarian friendly.

The other thing that is great about Gaming Nights and every once in a while entertaining for 8 to 10 people is that it gives you a great opportunity to use up things like a giant head of red cabbage that it would take just the two of us weeks to get through. Last night I made a warm red cabbage salad seasoned with balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with feta and toasted sunflower seeds among other surprises.

Balsamic and Feta Warmed Red Cabbage Salad

1/4 cup of Sunflower Seeds
1 small red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
3/4 head of red cabbage, quartered, cored, and then shredded into thin strips
Olive Oil
salt and pepper
1/4 cup feta cheese
2 Tablespoons dried currants
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
Couple of springs of fresh chopped rosemary
1/4 cup Pomegranate Seeds

Toast sunflower seeds in a small warm dry skillet over medium heat. The seeds are done when slightly golden brown and fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside to cool so they do not burn.

Meanwhile, heat large skillet over medium high heat, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Saute red onion and garlic a few minutes until softened, stirring frequently so as not to burn he garlic. Add shredded cabbage and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook cabbage tossing with the tongs frequently until cabbage is moist and softened but not totally wilted. Remove from heat. Add sunflower seeds, feta, currants, Balsamic Vinegar and chopped rosemary and toss thoroughly until all ingredients are incorporated. Serve immediately and sprinkle with fresh pomegranate seeds for garnish.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday Night Burgers with Rosemary Roasted Beets and Pomegranate Almond Dressingless Salad

There are many reasons that I love my husband. But on this particular night, at the top of the list is the fact that he had this awesome meal ready and waiting for me when I got home from Church Council tonight.

Monday Night Burgers

Olive Oil
1 Pound Ground Beef
Salt and Pepper
2 Thick slices sweet onion
Hamburger Bun
Dijon Mustard
Prepared Horseradish

The burgers couldn't have been simpler and so tasty after a hard workout followed by a long council meeting. Don cooked up the patties in a cast iron skillet with some olive oil and seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper. Then sauteed the onion rings in the same skillet after the patties were done cooking. We served on lightly toasted buns with lettuce, tomato, dijon mustard, and prepared horseradish for garnish.

Rosemary Roasted Beets

1 Red Beet, peeled, chopped, and stemps removed
Couple of sprigs of chopped rosemary
2 Cloves of Garlic Sliced
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper

The roasted beats were all for me as Don will have no part of this vegetable. We are blessed to be in a marriage where neither of us are picky eaters and both excited about trying new things, but this singular produce item remains the one thing on his 100% boycott list. But we received one this week in our Organic Delivery so I was excited to try it out. I have never had a fresh farm to table red beet in my life, though we experimented with a couple of golden beets we received last winter. I was excited to see how different it was from the canned variety. Don simply tossed the beats together with fresh rosemary, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Then roasted in a baking dish on 400 degrees for 30 minutes. I loved them!

Pomegranate Almond Dressingless Salad

2/3 Bunch Green Leaf Lettuce, Torn into bite size pieces
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup whole plain almonds

The salad perhaps was my favorite part. By the time I was done eating my burger and beets, I didn't feel like dirtying another bowl so I considered skipping the salad all together. However, as I was standing over the salad bowl, I reached in absent mindedly for a few bites and discovered that this salad needed new dressing. It was delicious as is. The fresh green leaf lettuce rapped easily around the pomegranate seeds and almonds for an easy appetizer finger food. The sweetness of the pomegranates combined with the crunch of the nuts, and the fresh earthy crispness of the lettuce were too good to be true. Before I knew it, I ended up eating a whole servings worth right out of the serving bowl and saved myself an extra dish to clean up.

Getting Retarded

I've discovered a new website called http://www.bodyrock.tv/. I was searching for free exercise videos on You Tube and stumbled upon Zuzana. She posts new exercise challenges and workouts every day. I am totally in love with her site. Her challenges are insane but inspiring. And there is endless variety so you don't get bored. There are live instructional videos, and excellent photographs showing proper form and technique (not to mention super cute workout clothes and a body I would die for.) It all translates to motivation. So I have tried a couple and am fired up to keep it going. Right now, being not so much in shape, I am having to do some modifications.

Like today for instance. The challenge was to do 300 jumping lunges. Well I fatigued after 30 jumping lunges so I had to finish the last 270 as regular lunges. But did you hear what I just said? I did 300 lunges today!

I also took a little additional inspiration from the Black Eyed Peas and played their live version of "Let's Get Retarded" on You Tube. A lot of people know the song better from their more P.C. remake version called "Let's Get it Started." As I was listening to the original version, I couldn't help but think that I really truly was getting retarded because no sane person sets out to do 300 lunges just because some girl on the internet whom I've never met told me to.

I also connected with the song in a new way that never would have crossed my mind. Many people would shun the song "let's get retarded" thinking it's derogatory slang for people who are mentally challenged and therefore inappropriate and insensitive. I'm not blind to these issues and I believe in respecting the humanity and dignity of individuals with physical and mental disabilities. However, the song hit me today in the most positive way. In the song, "getting retarded" really is about letting go of conventional wisdom, dismissing societal expectations, stepping out of your box and away from your filters and just being, grooving, experiencing, and enjoying in the purest of ways as one who lives in the moment and does think about past mistakes, future obligations, pleasing others or getting ahead. Today when I stepped outside of my box, shed my filters, and embraced the insane, it felt great.

Thanks, Zuz. Looking forward to your next challenge.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fettuccini with Swiss Chard, Pine Nuts and Cinnamon and Dried Fruit Port Sauce

I found the inspiration for this recipe on www.foodandwine.com when I was googling new recipes and uses for swiss chard. We have varied it slightly and posted our revised recipe below. It was quite simple to make and such a fun combination of flavors you wouldn't normally expect to go together. It's also a great vegetarian option.

3 Tablespoons Pine Nuts
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Bunch Rainbow Swiss Chard
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped dried appricots
1/4 cup dried currants
1/2 cup tawny port
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 ounces spinach fettuccini
1/4 cup grated Parmesan


  1. Heat the oven to 350°. Toast the pine nuts until golden brown, about 8 minutes.
  2. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the Swiss chard and 1/2 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Cook until the chard is wilted and most of the liquid is evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add the apricots, currants, port, and cinnamon and simmer until the port is reduced to about 2 tablespoons, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  3. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the fettuccine until just done, about 12 minutes. Drain the pasta and toss it with the sauce, Parmesan, pine nuts, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Chicken Piccatta with Kale and White Beans

This was declared the best dinner we have had in quite some time. The ingredients are all so simple but oh so flavorful. It get's high marks in all the major categories: taste, quick, easy, and frugal. I present to you:

Giada De Laurentiis' Chicken Piccata


Sauteed Greens with Cannellini Beans and Garlic

Click on the links for the full recipe.