Salmon and Pasta with Strawberry Lemon Cream Sauce

Pasta with Strawberry Lemon Cream SauceWe have a bumper crop of strawberries this year. I planted the patch the first summer we lived here. That was 3 years ago. It is finally producing lots and lots of berries. Big juicy ones too. We’ve had strawberry shortcake, smoothies, salads, and I’ve even frozen a few bags for later. We were getting a little tired of the usual berry dishes, so I tried to come up with something a little different. I got the idea for this dish after making a salad with tuna, arugula, basil, cheese, almonds, and strawberries with a lemon/olive oil dressing for lunch one day.

It’s a great pasta dish for summer. It is light and hearty all at the same time. It also has sweet, savory, and tart notes all in one dish, which will make your taste buds smile. At least they made mine smile. The kids approved too.

Salmon and Pasta with Strawberry Lemon Cream Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 Salmon filet
  • 1 lb of your favorite pasta (I used Angel Hair, but any kind will work)
  • Olive Oil (a few tablespoons for sauteing and drizzling on the salmon)
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 vidalia onion
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup cream (half and half works too)
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • salt
  • freshly ground white pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Salt, pepper and oil the salmon to taste. Bake until flaky (about 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your filet and your oven). You can also grill the salmon if you like.
  3. While the fish is cooking, prepare the other ingredients. When the fish is done, remove from oven and allow to cool.
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  5. While the pasta is cooking, heat about 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a saute pan.
  6. Saute onion until it’s translucent.
  7. Add garlic, cook about 30 seconds.
  8. Add basil, cook a few seconds until it wilts.
  9. Add wine, broth, salt, and pepper. Bring to a bubble and then reduce heat.
  10. Mix a small ladle full of the pasta water with the cornstarch. Then whisk the cornstarch mixture into the pan, stirring constantly until it thickens.
  11. Add cream, lemon juice, and zest.
  12. Toss with pasta and cook for a few minutes to finish cooking the pasta.
  13. Remove from heat.
  14. Add flaked salmon and strawberries and toss again.
  15. Serve immediately with fresh grated pecorino cheese, fresh basil, and lemon slices.

Salmon and pasta with strawberry lemon cream sauce

Spinach Cherry Smoothie and Milestones

I passed a running milestone this week – my first double digit run. I have been nervously anticipating Friday’s run for the last two weeks. I know I’m supposed to only focus on the current day’s workout, but Friday’s 10 miler was looming. Even though I’ve been gradually working up to this distance for the last 4 months, 10 miles just seemed like such a long distance.  It was mostly a mental challenge, and I happy to say I passed. It didn’t even seem that hard, probably because I had turned it into such a mountainous feat in my mind. I need to learn to  just trust in my training and I’ll be fine.

I was a little nervous about running that distance on my ankle, since it’s been bothering me, but it seems fine. The tape and exercises seem to be helping.

There were 3 beers left in a 6-pack of Guinness my husband brought home last week. I really wanted one of those, but I decided I should have something healthier instead, so I made a smoothie. (I did have a Guinness later in the day. I ran 10 miles after all, so I figured I could have one.)

Ever since I stared this half-marathon adventure, I have been trying to eat better. I ate pretty good before, but I realized I could do better, especially in the vegetable department. I have no problem eating plenty of fruit, but I’m not too keen on veggies – especially the green, leafy kind. I’ve found that by sneaking them into my smoothies they are much more palatable. At first I thought that greens in a smoothie sounded weird, but actually it works out pretty well. I can’t even taste the greens. Here is the smoothie recipe I’ve been relying on lately.

smoothie

Spinach Cherry Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain kefir (If I don’t have any kefir on hand, I use 1/2 cup of plain, Greek yogurt and 1/2 cup of almond milk instead)
  • about 1/2 a cup of frozen cherries
  • big handful of spinach
  • about a 1/4 inch of fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 2 TBSP of flax seeds
  • a small handful of raw almonds
  • scoop of protein powder (optional)
  • honey or agave to sweeten (optional)

Directions

  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend it together.

Tips and other suggestions

  1. Because of the almonds, this will have a crunchier texture than a normal smoothie and you’ll have to blend it a little longer than usual.
  2. Sometimes I put a small banana into the mix.
  3. You can also use baby kale in place of the spinach.
  4. If it’s too thick for your liking, you can add a splash of almond milk or orange juice to the mix.

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Half-marathon Training Week 10

  • Sunday: Yoga
  • Monday: 3 miles, last 2 race pace + strength
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: 6 miles with hills + yoga
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 10 easy miles
  • Saturday: 2 easy miles

Wind, Mud, Hills, and Amazing Grace

There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.

– Carl Sandburg

The above quote came to mind this morning because it applies to the past week in both a figurative and somewhat literal sense. Literally speaking, I actually got to watch 2 bald eagles soaring on a trail run and found myself covered in mud on 2 separate runs. Figuratively speaking, I’ve felt ready to spread my wings and soar, but I also really enjoy wallowing sometimes – not in negativity or self-pity, but rather in laziness.

I started the running week off with a wet and muddy run on Monday.  The grayness made me want to wallow. And the run started to go south quickly when some mo-moes in an over-sized pick-up truck purposely drove through a puddle as they passed me. This brought them uncomfortably close to me and covered me in mud. I really don’t understand their behavior, since they could have seriously injured me, but I’m not on this planet to figure out stupid people. I’m just thankful I only got muddy. Ironically, I chose to run on the road vs. the trail on Monday because I didn’t want to get muddy….

I don’t know what it is about Wednesday’s here lately, but Wednesday is when the snow seems to arrive. This Wednesday the snow came with 25 mph wind gusts. Running in wind is challenging on both a physical and mental plane.  It took a lot my energy just to punch down the negative self-talk during the first half of the run that kept telling me to go home and knit. It was tough, but it was a good tough. I liked the challenge in the end and I felt very invigorated when I got home.

Swan at Potato Creek

If you look closely, you can see the swan on the lake. It’s the best I could do with my phone.

On Friday, still in wallowing mode, I decided to lace up my trail shoes this time and set out on my favorite trail. I was still wallowing early in the run when I was startled back to reality by a large splash as I ran past the lake. I stopped to see what made the splash and saw a bald eagle flying into a nearby tree. It must have been feasting on a fish when it heard me coming. It dropped it’s fish in the lake and flew out to a “safer” tree. They are magnificent birds – and big. I’ve never seen one so close in the wild. It’s times like these when the photographer in me wishes there was a way I could carry my DSLR camera and all my lenses with me on my runs.

At first I was upset by the distraction and halt in my running. But after I stopped for a few minutes to take in the scenery and admire the eagle until it flew away, I noticed all the birds on the lake – swans, geese, a few ducks – and the noise was a beautiful cacophony of bird calls. I finally got out of my head and gave myself permission to make this a fun run, which turned into a fun muddy hill run; and much more of a workout than I imagined when I first set out. I also got to see a second eagle soaring over a swamp. And this time I came home covered in mud because I wanted to be muddy.

This week I learned the importance of variation and quieting my chattering mind. I still need to work on the quieting part. I’m making progress though. My mind is still chattering, but with positive, good thoughts now. The wind and the hills worked muscles that have been forgotten about on my recent, fairly flat road runs, which in turn made yesterday’s 2-mile shake-out on a fairly flat road much more enjoyable. The recovery seems better this week too. I think the new challenges woke up my tired leg muscles. I guess they need variety too. It’s easy to stay with familiar routines. It’s comfortable and not threatening or challenging. But because they aren’t threatening or challenging, it’s easy to get stuck and not move forward. And that applies both to training and real life.

I did decide to give into the my wallowing instinct just a little this week by giving myself an extra rest day instead of cross-training. I think it was good call. Wallowing isn’t necessarily bad if the intention is valid and good. And while self-discipline and sticking to the training schedule is important, so is listening to our bodies. It’s easy to get caught up in schedules and what the calendar says we need to do, when what we really need to do is slow down, take in the scenery, and not miss out on the life that is happening all around us.

And since today is St. Patrick’s Day, I’ll leave you with the Dropkick Murphy’s singing Amazing Grace. I love this song. It’s one of my favorite running songs right now.  Since today is not only a rest day, but also a cheat day, the Irish part of me will be celebrating with some Irish whiskey, because we all know “what butter and whiskey will not cure, there is no cure for.”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Half Marathon Training Week 4

  • Sunday: rest
  • Monday: 3 easy miles
  • Tuesday: strength and yoga
  • Wednesday: 4 windy miles and core workout
  • Thursday: rest
  • Friday: 4 miles with hills and core workout
  • Saturday: 2 easy miles

Quick and Easy Pizza and Garbanzo Beans

pizza and garbanzo beans

This house is full of pizza lovers. We each have our own favorite toppings, so trying to get everyone to agree on a pizza for takeout can be an ordeal. That’s why we’ve taken to making our own. That way everyone get’s their own piece of the pie (ha, ha).  And my kids go nuts over fried Garbanzo beans. They are a quick, easy and healthy snack while you are waiting for the pizza to cook up.

pizza

Quick and Easy Pizza

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 1/2 cups flour (I think bread flour works best, but all-purpose works too)
  • 2 1/2 tsp fast-rise yeast (or one envelope)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil
  • cornmeal for dusting

Sauce

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp Basil
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 1 15 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 TBSP Olive oil

Toppings

  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Veggies, Sausage, Chicken, Pepperoni, etc….whatever you want to put on top.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and sugar together. Let stand about 5-10 minutes until it gets creamy.
  3. Add the flour, salt, and vegetable oil to the bowl and mix. (I usually start mixing with a fork and end with my hands when it gets tough to stir.) Shape it into a ball and let it rest in the bowl for about 10-15 minutes.
  4. While you are waiting for the dough to finish resting, heat olive oil in a small saucepan. Add the onions. Cook until onions are soft.
  5. Add the garlic and other herbs and spices, cook until fragrant. Stir in tomato paste. Once tomato paste is blended in with the spices, add the crushed tomatoes. Simmer until the dough is ready.
  6. Sprinkle a pizza stone or cookie sheet with cornmeal to prevent sticking. Roll, stretch, and press dough to desired size and thickness and place on pizza stone or cookie sheet.
  7. Cover the pizza dough with the sauce to within about 1 inch from edge.
  8. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
  9. Top with your choice of toppings.
  10. Place in oven and bake about 15-20 minutes – until cheese browns and is bubbly.

For a crispier crust, preheat the pizza stone in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. I have 2 pizza stones, so I usually preheat one and use the other to assemble the pizza. Then I use a large spatula to transfer the pizza from the cold stone to the preheated one.

I also like to brush the crust with garlic butter before I cook it. And I brush it once again right when I take it out of the oven. It make the crust crispy and garlicky – yum!

garbanzo beans

Garbanzo Beans

Ingredients

  • 1 16 oz. can of garbanzo beans
  • pizza seasoning from above recipe (or seasoned salt)
  • Olive oil

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet. You need enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan evenly.
  2. Cook the beans in the heated oil until the skins start to pop and they get a little brown.
  3. Add the seasoning just at the end of cooking.
  4. Drain on a paper towel.

My favorite pizza toppings are chicken, mushrooms, spinach, and red onions. I also have a weakness for a greasy slice of pepperoni pizza from time-to-time. What are your favorite pizza toppings?

Sunday Brunch: Asparagus and Boiled Egg

I always look forward to this time of year for the asparagus. Yes, it is available here all year round, but the rest of the year it’s often shipped in from far, far away, which is no substitute for fresh, locally grown asparagus. So this time of year I eat as much asparagus as I can stand, because I know the bounty is short-lived.

asparagus

One of my favorite ways to eat it is steamed with a boiled egg. When it’s finished off with a light, lemony, olive oil dressing, it is mouth watering and oh-so-yummy. It is a perfect dish for a spring brunch. But it makes a simple, elegant addition to any meal at any time of day. I had mine for dinner the other night.

This is for 2 servings.

Ingredients

  • Fresh Asparagus
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • splash of cider vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper
  • thyme (fresh is best, but dried works too. I have a lemon thyme plant in my garden that is my favorite variety.)

Directions

  1. Place your eggs in a pot, cover them with water and boil until they are done. About 15-20 minutes. When they are done cooking, drain the hot water and place them in a bowl of cold water to cool.
  2. While the eggs are cooling…..In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, juice from the lemon, vinegar, salt, pepper and thyme. Set aside.
  3. Snap the dry, woody ends off the asparagus, rinse in cold water and pat dry.
  4. Cover the bottom of a saute pan with water, salt it pretty good and place the asparagus spears into the pan. Steam them for about five minutes by bringing the water to a soft boil. Then cover the pan,  turn off the heat and let them set for about 5 minutes (or until they are at the crispness you prefer).
  5. Remove the asparagus from the pan and place on a plate
  6. Peel the eggs, slice a few slices from the center of the egg and and chop the ends. Place the slice on top of the spears. Sprinkle the chopped pieces all around. (Each plate of asparagus should get one egg each.)
  7. Drizzle some dressing over top and enjoy.

It’s great served with a slice of warm crusty bread. You can also sprinkle some fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top if you have any.