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

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?

Homemade Granola Bars

homemade granola bars

I’m on a mission to eliminate as much processed foods from my diet as possible this year. We eat a lot of granola bars (or ‘ola bars, as my son used to call them when he was first learning how to talk) in this house. They’re one of my favorite snacks after a run and the kids like to pack them for school snacks. Many pre-packaged bars have a lot of sugar hiding in them. They can also get expensive. I’ve tried a lot of recipes in search of the perfect one: some worked, some didn’t, and some just needed some tweaking.

One of my favorite recipes that worked and tasted good is the Raw Lemon Coconut Bars on this page. The other bars are ok, but the first recipe is so good. The Lemon-Coconut bars never last long when I make them.

And after much experimenting, I have come up with my own version of homemade granola bars. These passed the family taste test. I usually have a batch in the fridge.

Chewy Peanut Butter Granola Bars

homemade granola bars

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/8 cup flaxseeds
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup other dried fruit ( I’ve used apples, apricots, or dates)
  • 1 cup peanut butter (preferably the natural kind with no added sugar)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Line a 8×8 inch square baking dish with aluminum foil.
  3. Spread the oats, nuts, and seeds onto a non-stick cookie sheet and bake until lightly toasted.
  4. Combine dried fruits in a large bowl. Add nuts and seeds when they have finished toasting.
  5. In a small saucepan, combine peanut butter, coconut oil, honey, vanilla, and cinnamon. Heat over low heat until everything is melted together, stirring frequently.
  6. Pour the melted peanut butter mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  7. Transfer to baking dish, press mixture down firmly, and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes).
  8. Remove from the baking dish and cut into bars. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They keep fresh for a few weeks in the fridge, if they last that long.

You can substitute almond butter, or any other nut butter, for the peanut butter if you like. And when I have a bit of a sweet tooth, I sometimes replace the dried fruit with dark chocolate chips.

Ministry of Pesto

We just got back from vacation, and I found myself under a mound of post-vacation laundry, housework and an out-of-control garden.  Did I do the laundry?  Heck no!  I did think about my garden and later found myself in the kitchen, wearing my favorite apron, sipping a glass of wine, listening to Ministry very loudly (is there really any other way?) and making homemade pesto with herbs from my garden.  It was the perfect way to unwind from a long, hot day.

I ended up with a stocked freezer, that is how out-of-control my garden had gotten while I was away.   I did a pesto experiment last season, and tried different methods of preserving it.  I found that simply filling up small, 1/2 cup tupperware/gladware containers and tossing them in the freezer was the easiest.  There didn’t seem to be any loss of taste, and I used them all throughout last winter.

Here is my pesto recipe.  It is so easy to make, there is no reason to ever buy pesto in the store again.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of fresh Basil
  • 1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • about 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Put your basil, nuts, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a food processor and chop.
  2. While the food processor is running on its lowest setting, drizzle the olive oil in.
  3. Stir in the cheese

That’s it.

I also make a thyme pesto where I substitute the basil with thyme and parsley and use walnuts instead of pine nuts.  It is very tasty on fish and chicken.