3.31.2013

Updated: Gingered Mango Jam



Original post: 4/30/2012 Updated: 3/31/2013

Remember back when Abbie and I first started our blog? Like - almost a year ago. Times a flyin’. Any way - I wrote about Love Gifts, and how amazing they are. Seriously - it feels good to give a little gift for no reason and it feels great to get a little treat from a friend that is totally unexpected. Even if it’s a pack of gum; it gives me the warm and fuzzies. Try it - pay the toll for the car behind you or spring for the coffee for the person coming up next in the drive thru. Warm and fuzzies...mmmm

My most recent warm and fuzzies was a few weeks ago. My lovely, beautiful friend Jessica surprised me with this amazing book on jams and jellies! Best of all, they are all supposed to take under 30 minutes - which means I will have more time to make treats to go with the jams and jellies. Bonusss.


This is the third recipe I've tried so far out of this book and this one is my favorite! Its tart, its sweet and has a little spice from the ginger. Perfect on a piece of toast to start the day or a little frozen yogurt treat at the end of it.

(P.S. If you live in this area, Safeway has champagne mangoes on sale 10/$10.)

Mango Gingered Jam
Adapted from Jams and Jellies in Less Than 30 minutes by Pamela Bennett
Makes enough for 2 half pint jars
Printable Recipe
4-5 Large, ripe mangoes.
2 Cups of Sugar
¼ Cup Fresh Lemon Juice (about 2 small lemons)
1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1 Cup Candied Ginger

Peel the mangoes and chop into pieces. The BEST tutorial on how to cut a mango is right here.

Place mangoes in a blender or food processor and blend until mostly smooth. You can leave it chunky if you’d like.



Place blended mangoes in a large saucepan, stir in sugar and lemon, and place on medium heat for 10 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and is no longer grainy. Make sure to keep stirring it so it doesn't burn.



Add ground ginger and candied ginger. Cook another 5 minutes. Pour into sterilized jars and cover tightly.
Cool and it should keep in the fridge up to 2 weeks.

Here are some tips for jar prep from the book:
Easiest way - clean jars in hot soapy water then dunk them in boiling water or pour boiling water in them. This will sterilize the jars. Easy enough.



Thank you Jessica for my lovely love gift. I can’t wait to try more jams and jellies and share them with you!!

Erica


3.27.2013

Springtime Lemon-Herb Pasta with Peas



I'm loving spring time in California. We've been having mild, sunny days, and crisp, clear nights. I can't tell you how happy I am about daylight savings time. Who wouldn't love more sun in the sky and pretty flowers are blooming everywhere. My allergies hate the flowers part, but I take a pill for that these days.


There’s also a whole new batch of fresh produce coming into season. Asparagus, peas, artichokes, kiwi, and strawberries are starting to show up! Soon, summer will be knocking on our doors....ahhh (that was me day dreaming about a beach somewhere). 

Back to reality. Spring also means there are more and more races popping up around the Bay Area. My first half marathon of the year was this past weekend. I ran the Oakland Half Marathon for the 2nd year in a row. It has easily become one of the best races I've ever run. It's well organized, smallish, fairly flat, and has the best community support you could ask for. I mean, whole church congregations were out there cheering us on, the Raider Nation folks were giving out high fives, people are out of their front porches say "thank you, we love Oakland!" No wonder I PR it each time I run this race. The people of Oakland make you feel so good!

Backing up a bit, let's talk about some of those pre-race traditions most runners have. Number 1 on most lists, including my own, is carb loading.  Also on my list, drinking boat loads of water, setting out my exact running outfit starting from my socks up to my hat and hair ties. Oh, and watching "Fun Run.” How much more inspiring can you get than the “Michael Scott's Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-Am Fun Run Race for the Cure.”

Back to the carbs. In the episode, Michael Scott eats a gigantic plate of fettuccine alfredo then pukes his guts out. This is not the type of carbo loading I’m talking about. No puking…that’s very bad.


So, in an attempt get my carbs in my body a healthy way with some fresh spring veggies, I made this Lemon Herb Pasta with Peas. It was a nice change from the traditional pasta with red sauce I usually have for my pre-race meal. It was easy to make, light, and refreshing. Plus, you can customize it with whatever fresh herbs or pasta you have on hand. I’m adding it my list to make again before my next race. 


First, grab some pasta. Any kind will do. I finally used my homemade pasta my January Foodie Pen pal sent me. Cook in a pot of salted water until al dente.


While the water is boiling and your pasta is cooking, chop up all your fresh herbs. I used tarragon, mint, chives, basil, and parsley. Add it to your lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil and garlic. All that pretty green! You'll be tossing your pasta in this and topping it with cheese....see the full recipe and instructions below.


Lemon Herb Pasta with Peas
Serves 4 // Adapted from The New York Times

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil, tarragon, mint, basil, and chives
Zest of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced
juice from 1 lemon 
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 pound pasta, any type
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
 freshly grated Parmesan
salt to taste

1. Bring a large pot water to a boil. Once its boiling, salt the water and add the pasta. Cook according to the package directions until its just about al dente.
2. While the pasta is cooking, in a large bowl, combine the herbs, lemon zest, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil, set aside.
3. When the pasta is just about al dente add the peas (add 30 seconds before its done for fresh peas, 1 minute for frozen).
4. Drain pasta and peas and toss with herb mixture.
5. Serve with freshly grated cheese.


Oh, and my favorite post-race tradition...the carb re-loading. Or beer and burgers.


(Laura, Kyla, and myself celebrating. Photo courtesy of Kyla). 

What's your favorite thing about springtime? Do you have any pre or post running traditions or rituals?

 Happy Spring and Happy Running!

Erica

3.18.2013

Coconut Popcorn


We've been on a total movie kick since the Oscars last month. 

So far, I've seen Silver Linings Playbook in the theaters. Then we watched Argo, Skyfall, Moonrise Kingdom, and I may have watched Breaking Dawn Part 2 by myself last Friday afternoon. Don't judge me.

My favorite part of movie night - the snacks! And you can never go wrong with popcorn.

A while back, we splurged on an air popper to try for a healthier option. Actually, let's get real. We really wanted to try and recreate Peterbrooke's chocolate covered popcorn. You can only getting in the south and we were a little homesick. Kinda what happened when we made Blue Bell Banana Pudding Ice Cream. I wonder if I can recreate a Publix sub....

But now, instead of just chocolate covered popcorn (we can talk more about that later) we have our air popper to make healthier options for popcorn. Because the microwave stuff we all love, isn't all that good for us.

There are a few ways you can make popcorn sans the traditional pop secret bag method. 

1. Buy the cool air popper like we have. I think I got ours at Target. 

Any way you do it, the best part is that you can flavor the popcorn how ever you like. Chris loves traditional butter and salt. I usually add good olive oil, salt and pepper. Adding coconut oil has now become my obsession. There are arguments about the health benefits, but I'll stay positive and believe its good for me


Coconut Popcorn
Serves 3-4
1/2 cup of popcorn kernels
1 1/2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil
salt to taste

Using the air popper machine method. Pop your corn according to the manufacturer directions. While its popping, melt the coconut oil so its a clear liquid. Once the popcorn done, gently pour the oil over the corn and toss until its well coated. I tend to use my hands for this process so make sure it gets evenly distributed  Season with plenty of salt.

If your using the stove top method, just add the coconut oil to the pot and season with salt after. You won't need any added oil/butter. If you are using the brown bag method, get creative. I've never tried that one.


Oh and my favorite movie so far out of the bunch? Probably Argo or Moonrise Kingdom. Loved them both.

What's your favorite way to have popcorn? Do you like salty or sweet movie treats?

Cheers,

Erica

3.11.2013

Rye Irish Soda Bread


So let me start out by saying I've never actually had soda bread.

Until now at least. But I mean, its bread, why wouldn't I try making it. It taste good to me - so I think I did it right.

And, it St. Patrick's Day this weekend.

What can I say, I'm feeling festive.


3.08.2013

Spring Break

This is the end of my spring break and there was snow. Well not in Baltimore, but in Virginia and I happened to drive through it...and it was one of the most terrifying experiences. Why was I driving through the snow? Because I went to visit my dear friend, Catie, who lives in VA Beach. She happened to be on her spring break at the same time, so I drove down to visit her for a couple of days. It was fabulous! We didn't do much besides watch trashy tv, and lay on the couch and catch up. It took me back to the days of college when Catie and I were roommates.

We ate breakfast at Citrus, which I think I will make her take me to anytime I visit, and had some delicious grapefruit mimosas. On Tuesday night, Catie, made beef stew and Lindsay and Christina (also friends from FSU) came over and it reminded me of our old Sunday night family dinner tradition. We would each take turns cooking dinner for everyone and watch our favorite shows. Maybe I'm speaking just for myself, but I think this is probably where Erica and I first found a love for cooking and baking. It was the perfect way to spend part of my spring break! I realized as we were saying goodbye, we didn't take any pictures the entire trip. Erica, we need you!

Early last week I did a little baking and a little cooking and loved both recipes that I tried!

I made these Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies by Averie Cooks and they were amazing! Dan even took a dozen into his classes as part of their raffle prizes.


My photo doesn't do them justice. Just sayin.

The other recipe I tried was from Real Simple for Pesto Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage. It did not disappoint. It was simple and delicious and the perfect weeknight meal. I made it with shells, smoked sausage, doubled the green beans since I left out the peas (gross!). I was also super lazy and bought pesto instead of making any of my own. It was seriously one of the best meals I've made in awhile and as I'm sitting here writing this, I'm kind of craving it again.


Again, my picture doesnt' do it justice. Especially because you can't see the giant dish of olive oil and spices I was using to dip that bread in. YUM! Now imagine leftover curry, leftover mexican beans, and the last bit of leftovers from this dish. Put them all in a pan and mix them up and that's what Dan had one night for dinner...GROSS! He told me he was going to kill my pasta, but I didn't know he actually meant it!

Now...what to eat for dinner tonight?!

-Abbie

3.04.2013

Herbed Vinaigrette Dressing


I really can't remember the last time I bought salad dressing. And let me tell you, after making this one, I don't see the need to ever buy dressing again. Expect maybe Trader's Joe's Goddess Dressing. I'll still buy that because I don't know how to make it yet.

Any way, this is my favorite salad dressing I've made to date. I can't get enough of this stuff and it makes every thing taste better. 

I've made this dressing several times over the past few months and have had a boat load of requests for the recipe. So to me, that makes a great blog post suggestion. 

It's a simple recipe and I think most of you will have the ingredients in your pantry. It makes enough to last a few weeks - depending on how many salads you make that is. 


First, start with a few cloves of garlic and a shallot. Chop those up and add them to a clean jar you will store the dressing in (I only used half of that shallot - it was a big guy). 


In your jar, add the garlic and shallots. Next, throw in your mustard and herbs, salt, pep, etc. 

Then your vinegar and oil. 


Shake that thing up and you've got yourself some salad dressing. 

Herbed Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
adapted from Tasty Kitchen
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons whole grain dijon mustard
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
fresh ground pepper  

Simply combine all the ingredients in a jar and shake to combine. Store in the fridge. Before serving, take it out of the fridge for about 5 minutes and shake to combine all the ingredients again. 


Happy Eating!

Erica

3.01.2013

February Adventures!

It was a short month, but we got three holidays (Galentine's Day is officially a holiday around here).

At least that kinda makes up for the lost days.

Anyway, here is my February life in photos...


We started out the month eating really healthy and all. Super Bowl food.

That's Chris, precisely rolling out the pretzel dough with measuring tape.


They came out heavenly. That, paired with Evil Cousin and my homemade mustard. I die.


Oh yeah, we made potato skins too. We also had chips and dip. I gained at least 7lbs. Real.


I got some new cutie shoes from Target.


We hike part of Mt Diablo. Enjoyed the parking ticket I found on my car when we got back too. Thanks Contra Costa Sheriff's Department. :(


Celebrated my lady friends on Galentine's Day and made tasty brinner. 


Whole wheat banana waffles with whipped cream and sparkling wine - if you watch Parks and Rec, you know why its waffles and whipped cream. Seriously, its the only way.


Since my lemon tree is doing so well, I decided to try some lettuce. We've got romaine, arugula, and bibb.

I may be getting too ambitious.


A love gift.


Sometimes, you just need a cheese plate to yourself for lunch.



Got to break out my running skirt.


A sunset run.


Wineaversary.


And the photo I took yesterday morning. I literally was driving to work, and I turned out of my neighborhood and saw the beautiful blossoms of spring. Had to capture it. 


And here are some of my other favorites from this month....

I almost died laughing at this the other day

This shirt is calling my name

Happiest city in America!

30 Helpful Websites

A Cory and Topanga reunion - what the what?! And why am I like 6 months behind in this news?

11 books ladies in their 20's should read. I've got a couple more years to finish this list...

I got all new makeup this month. It was terrifying and amazing at the same time (girly, I know)

I tried this workout with out weights and it killed my arms

I want to be best friends with Jennifer Lawrence

My favorite link: The history of Tina and Amy



Here I come March!

Erica

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