Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Haggis

You can bet this is Don posting this one.

I've been meaning to cook a haggis that wasn't so damn gross to cook. I made one before I was married, and it was a pretty awful process. I actually got part of a stomach bag to cook the damned thing in. The process of cleaning it and cooking the actual haggis smelled revolting. But I've really enjoyed haggis when I was over in Scotland, and I think I can do it. So I decided to try looking for a crock pot recipe.

And I found one!

What I keep forgetting is that people still may not like it, and so when I futz with the proportions I know I'm only making more for myself, and like any leftovers, that's going to get old. So rather than posting exactly what I did, I'll post what I'd recommend.

1lb Ground Lamb
1/2lb Lamb Kidney (found at local Food Co-Op)
1 Lamb Heart (found at local Food Co-Op)
1 large red onion, coarsely chopped. (You can use yellow instead if you like)
1-1/2 cups steel cut oats
pinch to 1/4 tsp each of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice or cloves
1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1 egg (beaten)
1 cup broth (I used organic beef broth)
1/4 cup Scotch Whisky (doesn't have to be good scotch. I used two tiny bottles of Johnny Walker Black)


Boil the kidney and the heart until cooked through. Drain and wash off with cold water. Then mince. I used the meat grinder attachment on a kitchenaid. It's important to grind the heart and kidney to mix well with the ground lamb.

Mix all ingredients except broth and scotch in a large mixing bowl like you would prepare a meatloaf. Shape with your hands into a roundish haggis loaf. Transfer to your crockpot and finish forming. Add broth.

Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours. Midway into it, add scotch. Beware of overcooking and drying it out.

Serve with Neeps & Tatties, which is mashed potatoes and mashed parsnips. Basically make your mashed parsnips the same exact way you make your mashed potatoes. Add a little bit of ground ginger to the Neeps if you like, and a little nutmeg to the Tatties. You can even combine the Neeps & Tatties to form Clapshot.Which I did. Then layered in shredded Tillamook Cheddar and Dubliner cheese, then baked it. Add a heavy dose of chives and butter.

Now, what to do with leftovers?

HAGGIS BURGERS! Not kidding, they do this in Glasgow. I might add a little Siracha sauce to kick it up. Maybe some goat cheese, dijon, etc.

Also, for a delicious vegetarian haggis (well almost vegetarian, contains egg), check out this recipe. We made it. Very nutty goodness.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mozzarella and Cherry Tomato Skewers

Mozzarella Balls packed in Water
Small Carton Cherry Tomatoes
1 Tablespoon Tuscan Herb Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Traditional Aged Balsamic
1/2 teaspoon dried basil

Wisk together oil, vinegar and herbs. Toss the tomatoes and mozarella balls together in the vinaigrette. Thread onto skewers and serve.

Tortellini with Brussel Sprouts & Sundried Tomatoes

1 Package Tortellini
1 Bunch Brussel Sprouts, Halved
Sundried Tomatoes cut in strips
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
Salt & Pepper to Taste
1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Prosciutto (Optional)

Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add Brussel Sprouts and Tortellini and cook until al dente. Drain. Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add tortellini mixture, sundried tomatoes, Prosciutto, parmesan, salt & pepper. Saute a few minutes until cheese melts. Serve immediately.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Just tried my first batch ever at making my own ranch dressing. I played around with some of the ingredients and this is what I arrived at for a base recipe. But I look forward to future concoctions with whatever fresh herbs I happen to have on hand. If this turns out to be a hit, eventually I'll need to learn how to make my own mayonnaise, buttermilk, and sour cream too. Then I can really call it homemade.

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

1 1/4 Cups Tillamook Sour Cream
1/2 cup Buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Juice of one small squeezed lemon
1 teaspoon worchestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
Dash of cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 garlic clove finely minced

Combine all ingredients with a whisk. Store in a glass jar in the fridge. Should keep for a couple of weeks.

This makes a pretty thick dressing. You can thin it out more by adding extra buttermilk if you prefer.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Coconut Rice with Beef Stir Fry

Coconut Rice with Beef Stir-Fry


  • Rice:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of ground red pepper
  • 1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
  • 1 cup uncooked jasmine rice
  • Stir-fry:
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil, divided
  • 1 (1-pound) flank steak, trimmed and thinly sliced across the grain
  • 1 cup vertically sliced onion
  • 1 cup red bell pepper strips
  • 3 cups sliced bok choy
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce (such as Lee Kum Kee)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 lime wedges
To prepare rice, bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan; stir in rice. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

To prepare stir-fry, heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of beef; stir-fry 4 minutes or until done. Remove from pan; cover and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining oil and beef.

Add onion and bell pepper to pan; stir-fry 5 minutes. Add bok choy; stir-fry 3 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add beef, cilantro, chili garlic sauce, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and black pepper; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve with rice and lime wedges.

Oven Baked Pancake with Homemade Raspberry Sauce

Don't be alarmed by the gourmet souffle looking thing. This recipe is easier, that's right easier, than making regular pancakes. The oven does all the work for you. And the raspberry sauce was the perfect accompaniment for this oven baked pancake. But it could easily go with other things as well. It would be a nice treat over some grilled chicken breast, serve over vanilla ice cream, or stir a spoonful of the leftover sauce into plain or vanilla yogurt for instant organic raspberry yogurt.

Oven Baked Pancake with Homemade Raspberry Sauce

Click the link for the basic inspiration recipe. Or try my variation below for the raspberry sauce.


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces frozen organic raspberries from Trader Joes
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar (optional)


  • Place frozen raspberries in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat and simmer about 10 minutes stirring occasionally. When the raspberries have cooked down to a soupy liquid remove from heat. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Use a spoon or spatula to press the raspberries into the strainer to get as much juice out as possible. Stir in 2 tablespoons of sugar. Pour into a gravy boat or other creamer cup for serving.
  • Melt butter in a 10-inch ovenproof frying pan over low heat. Remove from heat.
  • In a large bowl or blender, beat or whirl eggs until light and pale. Beat or blend in milk, vanilla, flour, sugar, and salt.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in a 425° oven until pancake is puffed and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Slice into wedges and serve immediately with raspberry sauce. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

This Week's Recipes

It's 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning and I've already completed the meal planning and grocery shopping for the week. Yay! Felt great to be out in the stores while they were well stocked and less crowded than the typical weekend rush. I'm hoping to start a new routine of making Saturday mornings my grocery shopping and meal prep time. I'm intending to post my weekly recipe list if you care to follow along and will share the results throughout the week. Saturday morning I will also try to prep the meals that can be cooked ahead of time (such as soups, marinades, and baked goods) and portioned off in servings and stored for later in the week to quickly grab for lunches on the go or busy nights with meetings, etc.

Mexican Black Bean Sausage Chili
Ravioli with Sauteed Zucchini
Spiced Cider and Maple Marinade (with Chicken Breasts)
Mixed Fresh Fruit Cobbler
Curried Chicken Corn Chowder
Baked Sunday Pancake with Raspberry Sauce
Super Sloppy Joe Sandwiches
Arugula and Walnut Salad
Coconut Rice with Beef Stir-Fry
Deviled Eggs
Rise and Shine Oatmeal

Friday, September 9, 2011

Mixed Fresh Fruit Cobbler

Here is another recipe to add to my new basic recipes series. The concept of the basic recipes series is to come up with good staple recipes that can be easily mixed and matched and swapped out for whatever fresh seasonal ingredients you happen to have on hand. This is a must for anyone who is trying to eat locally or seasonally.

Mixed Fresh Fruit Cobbler

Cobbler Filling
6 cups mixed fresh baking fruits or berries (peeled and copped) - such as apples, pears, peaches, blackberries, raspberries, rhubarb, etc. (I used blackberries and golden delicious apples this time)
1/2 cup sugar
Juice and zest of one small lemon
1 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Crumb Topping
/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a greased 9x9 baking dish, stirring to incorporate.

In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients (flour through butter) with a fork until incorporated and crumbly. Spread evenly over fruit mixture.

Bake at 350 for 40 to 45 minutes.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Night BBQ

We have an entire weekend of awesome home cooking planned. Kicked it off tonight with grilled seasoned skirt steak in a cilantro almond pesto and grilled eggplant and patty pan squash with a simple mint balsamic vinaigrette. Jessica Hazelton also came over to help with the prep and consumption of this fantastic meal. The pesto is a must try. You can find the steak recipe here: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/flank-steak-with-cilantro-almond-pesto-10000000614032/.

For the side dish we just sliced and grilled the veggies (eggplant, patty pan squash, and sweet onion) with a little bit of olive oil and salt. Then made a quick simple vinaigrette with fresh chopped mint, lavendar balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Drizzle over veggies and serve. Yum!

Stay tuned for more new recipes throughout the weekend.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Faith Based Advocacy

I have the privilege of sitting on my church's Stewardship Committee. Our mission is to help deepen people's understanding of stewardship and lead them towards growth in faith and life through stewardship activities. Each month we have a different stewardship theme that we focus on. This month the theme was Faith Based Advocacy. Here is an article I wrote for the Church Newsletter that I thought I would share.

Advocacy is the act of speaking on the behalf of or in support of another person, place, or thing. Perhaps some of our earliest experiences in life with this concept might have been standing up to a bully and advocating on behalf of another child who was being picked on at school. Whether we directly faced the opponent, or ran to tell an adult, we were suddenly aware of three things: (1) This was a situation of injustice, (2) we did not like to see the other person suffer, and (3) the situation could only persist if we allowed it to. While the child targeted by the bullying may have felt too scared to do anything about it, we suddenly learned that we had this powerful thing called a voice where we could stand up on the other’s behalf and relieve their suffering.

In the adult world, we think most commonly of advocacy in terms of public policy. From a Stewardship framework, we ask the question, ‘How can Government best utilize our civic time, talents, and treasures to serve God’s purposes?’ In Dr. Karen Bloomquist’s series on “Faith Based Advocacy” which took place at Faith over the last several weeks, we talked a lot about how to advocate for public policy which brings relief to those who are the most vulnerable in society. This can include not only the poor and the marginalized, but also Creation itself. The vulnerable segments of our society, in their daily efforts to survive, may not have the autonomy or the resources to rise up out of their own cycles of poverty, abuse, or exploitation. It requires the strong voices of many, and particularly those of Christians, to bring these issues before our public policy leaders and seek a more fair, equitable and responsible distribution of our civic resources to protect those who are most vulnerable. This is our mandate as Christians, for Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me” (Matthew 25:45).

As Christians, we strive for public policy that is not dictated by partisanship but rooted in faith. In these efforts, the Social Policy Statement adopted by the ELCA in 1999, called “Sufficient, Sustainable, Livelihood for All,” can be our guide (http://www.elca.org/What-We-Believe/Social-Issues/Social-Statements/Economic-Life.aspx). For All indicates the scope of God’s concern, which is all inclusive and includes the poor and vulnerable. There are no prequalification requirements to be a child of God. We are all loved unconditionally. Livelihood designates the means by which our life is sustained. Whether it is through paid jobs, self employment, business ownership, accumulated wealth, family support, or government assistance, livelihood is that which gives us access to what is needed to thrive. Sufficiency implies adequate access to resources that enable people to meet their basic needs including nutrition, clothing, housing, healthcare, personal development, and participation in the community with dignity. The key word is adequate and causes us to ask serious questions about our tendencies as individuals and as a society to over consume. And Sustainability is the capacity of natural and social systems to survive together over the long term. While the first three issues deal with people, sustainability reminds us that what is good for humanity always must be tempered with, informed by, and held in tension with what is good for Creation.

“Sufficient, Sustainable, Livelihood for All,” is a Christian faith based economic ethic that can guide us in the difficult decisions we face as individuals, churches, and civic communities about how to manage our time, talents, and treasures. It can lead us toward a vision and embodiment of what government was meant to be -- an economic agency where individuals make sacrifices to support the common good, rather than a mechanism for protecting and promoting individual interest groups. Moreover, “Sufficient, Sustainable, Livelihood for All,” is a statement of faith. It reminds us in times of uncertainty that God does provide for us and Creation does bear all of the things that are needed to meet our basic human needs if only we are to live sustainably and for the good of all. When Christians come together to advocate for the vulnerable, public policy can be one way in which God’s will for the good of all Creation is carried out.

To read more of the ELCA's Social Statement on "Sufficient, Sustainable, Livelihood for All," visit the ELCA website at: (http://www.elca.org/What-We-Believe/Social-Issues/Social-Statements/Economic-Life.aspx).

Also, consider reading and signing this ecumenical statement to appeal to our national leaders in the face of budget challenges not to cut those programs which are basic to the survival of the poor and vulnerable in our society: http://www.circleofprotection.us/pdf/Circle-of-Protection-Statement.pdf.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Garden Delight Brown Rice Casserole

Well it looks like I need to change the date on my camera!

The life organizing, finance crunching, meal planning, cooking bug has crept back in on me. It's rooted in concepts way to vast to explore in one one blog, particularly when I have limited myself to 10 minutes to spend on the computer before I go to bed (part of that whole organizing thing). But lets just say for now, that out of an interesting convergence of spiritual issues, ethical consciousness, healthy endeavors, and family matters have all come together to form this exciting new cocktail: The Garden Delight Brown Rice Casserole (pictured above).

You know me and meal planning. I love to hunt for recipes, pick them out, try new things, plan ahead. I have trouble making dinner on the fly or even going to the grocery store before I know what I'm getting. And that's where I'm trying to grow myself right now. I'm currently on the hunt for good base recipes that I can go to at any time where I can draw from an economical source of staples I usually have on hand, but swap out the revolving door of fresh ingredients I have coming through my kitchen by Dandelion Organic Deliveries to create fun new flavor combinations. Garden Delight Brown Rice Casserole is my first attempt and a successful one at that for such a base recipe. It's called "Garden Delight" because you can use whatever seasonal or sale vegetables you happen to have on hand and the possibilities are as wide as you can imagine. See recipe below, and if you want to be a good sport, send me you're ideas for veggie combos you feel inspired to try.

2 cups uncooked brown rice (you could also try white, jasmine, wild rice or even barley)
2 cups water
2 cups broth (chicken, beef, or veggie - I used homemade chicken stock)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups onion, diced
6 to 12 cups of fresh chopped veggies (I used crookneck summer squash, pattipan squash and diced carrot because that's what I had on hand)
Salt & Pepper
Fresh herbs or dried herbs (your choice here too, I used fresh basil leaves)
2 cups shredded cheese (I used medium tillamook cheddar, you could also try swiss, gruyere, jalapeno jack, mozzarella)
4 eggs lightly beaten
3/4 cup Parmesan (Romano or Dubliner would be great options)
3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Bring water and broth to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Add rice. Lower to a simmer. Cover and cook until rice is done.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and saute 5 minutes until onions are translucent. Add additional vegetables, salt and pepper to taste, and saute until crisp tender. Remove from heat.

In large mixing bowl, combine rice, vegetables, 2 cups shredded cheese, and egg mixture. Stir to combine all ingredients. Pour into lightly greased glass baking dish. Spread mixture out evenly. Sprinkle evenly with 3/4 cup remaining cheese and bread crumbs. Dot with butter (this will help create a nice golden crunchy top).

Bake for 30 to 45 minutes. Casserole is done when the top is golden brown. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.


I'm thinking about getting back into blogging more. Lots of thoughts buzzing around in my head. Lots of interests, goals, values swimming around that need to be channeled. So why not a quick blog to blog about blogging. This concludes your teaser. More to follow.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Just Do It

Last Sunday in church our guest preacher passed on a great idea during the sermon that someone had shared with him. A friend had suggested that this year, instead of setting specific new years resolutions, she was just going to pick a single word or phrase to focus on to lead her throughout the year. I guess it's a bit like having a theme, or a mantra that becomes the daily prayer on which you center or life. It's a wonderful idea and faith concept. From a Christian standpoint, there are so many words you could choose like "kindness," or "humility," or "gratitude." Or any number of phrases would be so profound like, "leap of faith," or "Go in peace, serve the Lord," or "Love one another, as God has loved you." It's really a very genious concept, that instead of setting a goal for your new years resolution, to make your focus be an idea. From that idea will spring forth all of your motivations, goals, and execution. It's really very powerful.

I grasped on to this idea immediately and began thinking if there was a word or phrase that would be a good focus for me. I'll be honest that in this exercise, my focus was not so Christocentric but actually leaned toward my struggle with goal setting and motivation in the classic areas of diet and exercise. Plus, I've noticed in the last couple of weeks that the winter is getting the best from me and I am starting to suffer from cabin fever which is has the tendency to spiral into complacency, boredom, and restlessness.

So I was doing some research on line tonight and looking up motivational quotes. I think I found my mantra. It seems right and perfect, and a very good challenge for me. It's a bit classic and overly simple and to the point which is what I need. It's the old Nike slogan: "Just Do It." It speaks to me in so many ways. Not the least of which is the fact that the empire which coined this phrase was born out of my hometown, Eugene, OR. But to me, this is a phrase that could truly transform my life. I'm a classic type A thinker and planner and need to have everything perfectly set up to be successful. I spend more time planning to workout, than I do actually working out. If the kitchen isn't clean, I can't make dinner. If I don't have a meal plan for the week, I can't go grocery shopping. If I've got to be somewhere in 60 minutes, I can't do a quick 30 minute workout because that won't give me enough time to shower and stretch and still get out the door without a rush. I've even noticed, that I'm about 80% more likely to get up before work in the morning to go run on my treadmill, if I have already set my laptop up and headphones out the night before so that all I have to do is jump on the treadmill and go. Seriously, how hard is it to pick up a computer and take it in the other room and plug it in?

I have spent a lot of time in the last year searching for motivation. I struggle to find some major goal which is going to drive me to overcome the numerous obstacles that get in my way. I keep thinking subject to the Biggest Loser mentality that there has to be some major motivation that is truly worth while, that is worth doing all the hard work for or I know I will give in to other simple pleasures like sleeping in and convenience. It's really hard to find that major driving force, when you are already pretty happy with your life and have the most important things well covered. Well I'm tired of searching for that earth shattering ah-ha moment that's going to totally transform me. For the rest of 2011, my mantra will be "Just Do It." It's time to retrain my brain away from all the thinking and the planning, a.k.a. procrastinating and get down to business. Thanks Nike. You may very well have single handedly provided me with that Earth Shattering life change I have been looking for.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Remember the Sabbath Day and Keep it Holy

Earlier this year, Don and I took on the responsibility of teaching Confirmation to a wonderful class of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders at our church, Faith Lutheran, in Bellingham. We're both passionate about Confirmation and loving this opportunity to share with the youth of our church about our Lutheran faith and theology. For the last several weeks, we have been talking about the 10 commandments. My favorite class so far has been the class on Remembering the Sabbath Day and keeping it Holy. Mostly because it touched an exciting place of inspiration for Don and I.

Of all the commandments, this is the one commandment that is truly and purely for our benefit. God saw fit to build in for us, a day of rest and rememberance. So for the past few weeks, Don and I have actively been trying to build into our lives observance of the Sabbath. It's not initially an easy thing to do. We both lead fairly busy lives and with Don being self employed and me working from home, our work constantly threatens to invade our personal lives. So often our Sundays are filled with chores, errands, and anxiety and stress about the work week ahead. We've been slowly trying to transition away from this, focusing on getting our weekend obligations out of the way on Saturday, and truly treating Sunday as a day of rest and communion with God and each other.

Today was the first real successful Sabbath we've had I think. We started with a great Confirmation class, followed by church, our annual congregational meeting and brunch, on to an afternoon nap, then an outing to the pier with the dogs in the gorgeous cool crisp sunshiny air, a light trip to the mall for some exchanges including a new game for Don at Gamestop, then Happy Hour at Dos Padres, and now back home for evening entertainment of PS3, movie watching, homemade Chinese Food, and some fresh baked cookies later. The best part is that it was all on our own schedule, with no where to rush off to, with love and gratefulness in our hearts, with deep thanksgiving of all that God has blessed us with, and with no massive piles of laundry, dirty dishes, bookkeeping or a miriad of other obligations hanging over us.

It all reminds me of a saying Don used to quote from his Grandfather: "If you have to work, work five days. If you can't do it in five, work six days. But if you can't do it in six days, you're not going to be able to do it in seven, so you might as well take a break." There really is something to this Sabbath, Day of Rest thing and Don and I are so excited about building this into our lives. How many marriages, families, and individuals would be better off by practicing this simple day of rest and worship once a week. If I have any new years resolutions in 2011, it will be to observe the 3rd commandment: Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it Holy.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Don & Cindy's Amazing Cioppino

2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 cup diced red onion
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
4 ounces tomato paste
28 ounce whole tomatoes, hand crushed with all their juices
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons chopped kalamata olives
2 tablespoons chopped green olives
3 chopped hot jarred peppers (with seeds)
1 package frozen mixed seafood blend from trader joes (shrimp, scallops, and calamari), defrosted
1/2 cup graded parmesan
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 package small cheese tortellini

1. Melt butter over medium high heat in large stockpot. Add olive oil and onions. Saute two minutes. Add garlic, red pepper flakes and cracked black pepper. Saute 3 minutes. Add tomatoes & stir to incorporate. Then add whole tomatoes, chicken stock, white wine, salt, thyme, basil, olives, hot peppers, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add seafood mix, and cook for 5 minutes over medium low heat until done.

2. In a separate pan, boil hot water and cook tortellini to al dente.

3. Serve cioppino over Tortellini and garnish with fresh grated parmesan and cilantro.

The recipe made quite a lot of stock, so we portioned off about three cups of the tomato broth and saved in the freezer for future use before we added the seafood mix. Can't wait to enjoy it again soon with the first few steps already done. In the future, adding a nice fillet of white fish portions would be a really fabulous addition and add some more depth. But no complaints with the finished product. We used Mount Baker Vineyards Viognier for the white wine which was absolutely divine, both in the broth and on the side. Most of all, we had a blast making it. One the best date nights in a long time.

Don has a few words to say about this also:

Just to be clear, Cindy and I didn't set out to make this today. This is not one of the recipes she so diligently plans ahead for. No, this was pure improv. Cindy didn't get around to doing the crockpot recipe she had planned, and so we began milling around the kitchen. She pulled out the package of mixed seafood from the freezer and asked, "Can you do anything with this?"

So we got to looking at perhaps an alfredo sauce with pasta... except we ran out of cream. We had the makings of a tomato-based something, but I wasn't sure if we had the stuff to do anything exciting. Then, as my palate usually does, I thought of spicy, and I was reminded of my favorite dish at our favorite Italian restaurant in Sherman Oaks. They make a Cioppino that was over $30 a bowl, and served with a half lobster in it.

Cioppino, except we still were thinking pasta. So maybe it would turn out thicker. Cindy started pulling out kalamata olives, and stuffed green olives from the fridge. We also had this jar of awesome hot peppers, the thin kind, almost like green beans. From there we printed off a couple recipes from the internet for a base, and began the great improvisation. By the time I had reached the point of reducing the heat in the broth to cook for 30 minutes, we stole a taste... and nearly cried at its true marvel.

Sometimes when two people love each other, they get together and make something truly special. And when it's all done cooking... they eat it.


Thursday, January 27, 2011


This was a challenging workout, which included a work interruption (after hours but important call). Had a hard decision about whether or not to go back and finish it, but finish it I did. Rome wasn't built in a day. Just have to keep sticking with it one workout at a time. Here are my workout results:

Back Knee Lunge Up (Left) 8; 10; 9; 9
Back Knee Lunge Up (Right) 10/10/10/10
Plank Jumps: 5/5/6/4

2 Walking Pushups & Step Touches 6/6/5

Jump Forward, Back, Tuck 7.5/7/7/8
Side Plank & Pushup (Left) 7/6/6/6
Side Plank & Pushup (Right) 6/4/5/7

Click here for the full workout details: www.bodyrock.tv

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I can feel myself getting stronger. Tonight's workout was a time challenge, but I am focusing on each end every move targeting the right muscles and keeping very good form, so speed is not my focus. Also, I was limited on time, so while I got a solid 25 minute workout in, I only made it through 2 of the 3 sets planned.

Round 1: 30 Lunges and high knees (right leg); 30 lunges and high knees (left leg); 30 upright rows (5 lb dumbells); 30 dancing crabs

Jumping Squat Intervals (8 rounds, 30 seconds each): 10, 11, 9, 8, 9, 8, 8, 9

Round 2: 30 Lunges and high knees (right leg); 30 lunges and high knees (left leg); 30 upright rows (5 lb dumbells); 30 dancing crab

Jumping Squat Intervals (8 rounds, 30 seconds each): 8, 8, 10, 8, 9, 10, 11, 10

127 Hours

I had a great evening out with friends which I have met through some meetup groups tonight. We met for a glass of wine and some lite bites and then went and saw an amazing movie called "127 Hours." The movie chornicles the real life experience of a guy who was out hiking by himself and got his arm pinned underneath a boulder and was stuck for five days before he ended up having to cut off his own arm to free himself. The actual scene was not as bad as I thought it was going to be in terms of gore, but it was pretty intense. More so, I found myself very much rooting for him. But it definitely is one of those movies that makes you think. An experience of being so close to death, and realizing all of the things that you take for granted and all of the things that you yet want to do but haven't done. It has me thinking and wondering, in the same situation, would I have been able to do the same thing? Or would I have given in to death (the permanent solution) for fear of pain (a temporary fleeting moment)? So the movie has me thinking about how we are capable of so much more than we really think we are, and how a little courage goes a long way.

And on that note, tonight's workout was 300 squats. It was tough but I'm glad I didn't give up on myself or I would have thought myself quite foolish that the burn of 300 squats tumbled me when I just watched a man have to cut off his own arm.

Monday, January 17, 2011


I had another great workout tonight full of Bad@$$ery. Oh my. I think I am starting to fall in love with this girl Zuzana. Her workouts are just phenomenal. I have had a rough week. I'm balancing exciting results in my professional life (very rewarding) but exhausted from the hard mental and physical work of it all and some late nights, while at the same time struggling through some growing pains in my personal life. It makes for one depleted Cindy who very much needed a good workout but didn't have a lot to give. I'm so thankful for Zuzana's workoutS because they are short but intense and get right to the point. As tired as I was, I knew that I could at least give it my all for a short 20 minutes before I retired for the night. It was great to have a chance to sweat it out and I feel so STRONG and PROUD of my accomplishments. The moves are challenging and although I can't do all of the moves to the full extent that Zuzana can, I'm excited about the idea that someday soon I will be able to. So I'm focusing on getting the max out of every single exercise with her, really targeting each and every movement so that I can be as efficient as possible and achieve maximum results because I CANNOT WAIT to be the powerhouse I know I can be.

Checkout www.Bodyrock.tv if you want to try this workout. My results are below:

Snow Boarder
- max. reps during each 30 second interval
: 7 / 10 / 8
One Leg Squat & Side Kick (left leg)
- max. reps during each 30 second interval
: 5 / 5 / 5
One Leg Squat & Side Kick (right leg) -
max. reps during each 30 second interval
: 5 / 5 / 4.5
Push Up/Lunge Combo Exercise Challenge -
8 minute count down
Shelf Butt Exercise
- max. reps during each 30 second interval
: 16 / 20 / 18
Half Pistol & One Leg Pike Press (left leg)
- max. reps during each 30 second interval
: 3 / 3 / 2.5
Half Pistol & One Leg Pike Press (right leg) -
max. reps during each 30 second interval
: 2.5 / 3 / 2.5

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Today's workout was a 12 minute challenge of alternating reps of 10 Sandbag Squats and 10 Reverse Pushups. We were supposed to do as many sets as we could in 12 minutes. I found an online timer since I don't have a stop watch to help out. I was able to do 8.5 sets in 12 minutes. The reverse pushups got really difficult at the end and I wasn't able to come all the way up on some of the final reps, so I just came up as high as I could and held the position for a second. I also did a 3 mile run/walk for cardio and 5 minutes of stretching for a total calorie burn of 490.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Today's Workout

Another great workout today by Zuzana. I modified for my own activity level and it was still a push. The workout alternates 10 Squat Thrusts with 10 burpees. I could not maintain all the jumping with the burpees so I did one legged getups with a knee lift. Still an awesome manuever but with out the high impact. I did 15 rounds intermixed with treadmill running and walking for a total of 66 minutes of intense cardio workout. I followed again with 15 minutes of yoga and stretching. Total Calorie Burn was 490 calories.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ultimate Workout Playlist

Today's workout was appropriately Titled Suicidal Sweat Workout.

Luckily, I've been putting some work into building the perfect workout Playlist to help inspire me and keep me going during these brutal workouts. I recently discovered on YouTube that you can actually create and save playlists so I've been bookmarking music videos like crazy and below is what I came up with. A 66 minute playlist that I've titled Ultimate Workout. (Thanks to all on Facebook who contributed awesome suggestions.) It's got all the important components -- warm up, cool down, up beat, strong tempo, brief rests, and inspiring lyrics.

Madonna - Ray of Light (great warm up song, bright, positive, sets the right tone)
Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc (a good follow up warm up, helps you get loose and lucid, like right before a boxing match)
Motley Crue - Kickstart My Heart (doesn't get any more literal than this, the first power song, fast tempo, really gets your heart racing)
Black Eyed Peas - I Gotta Feeling (great beat, positive, puts you on top of the world and makes you feel like you can do anything)
Black Eyed Peas - Let's get Retarted (Now we're getting serious, starting to dig deep and push)
Aerosmith - Angel's Eyes (Heavy Guitar and sex appeal, pick the video on You Tube set to Charlie's Angels Clips)
Drowning Pool - Let the Bodies Hit the Floor (Hard, Edgy, the counting is awesome too when you're doing reps)
Destiny's Child - Survivor (Tempo slows down a bit, time to catch your breath but great lyrics to still keep you focused and on track)
Kayne West - Stronger (Another inspirational, motivational, get you moving song)
Eminem - Lose Myself (This is a great song to put towards the end of your workout when you might be tempted to slack off or give in early, this song reminds you that you might only get one shot and to not wast chances. GREAT song for digging deeper and pushing harder)
Europe - The Final Countdown (Oh Yeah, This is just pure fun, great reminder that you're almost done and give it every last thing you can)
AC/DC - You Shook Me All Night Long (The victory song. You did it you sexy beast.)
Citizen Cope - The Son's Gonna Rise (Cool Down song #1 - yes, that was a very hard workout, but you're almost there, there's a light at the end of the tunnel)
Beyonce - Halo (Cool Down song #2 - like a breath of fresh air)
James Blunt - You're Beautiful (Cool Down song #3 - one last reminder of how terribly awesome you are)

My workout results for the day:

Warm Up - 2.09 Miles Walk/Run

Combo #1 - 15 Reps (TIME 5:52)
2 Jump Squats
1 Jump Tuck (modified two knee lifts)
2 Push ups
1 Power Up

Combo #2 - 6 Sets (TIME 3:37)
10 Kick Ups (modified no jumping)
10 Mountain Climbers

Combo # 3 - 4 Sets each Leg (TIME 4:01 left leg, timer didn't work on the right leg
10 One Leg Press Pike (modified on knees)
10 one leg jump squats (modified no jumping)

#4 20 Breakdance Push Ups (Time 3:57) - (modified on knees - this one was ridiculous and I almost skipped it but I figured knee push ups were better than nothing and would help me build my strength so I can do less modifications over time. My turnover turned into a clumsy log roll after a couple of reps but I decided to at least add two leg lifts so I would get something out of it. I'm glad I workout at home because if anybody had been watching me they would think it quite sad! But I am glad I did what I could and got some benefit rather than skipping it entirely)

Cool Down - 2/3 Mile Walk, 10 minutes of Yoga (I meant to do more yoga but my arms were too fatigued to hold the downward dog position)

Total Workout Calories Burned - 493