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Monday, July 31, 2006

Lazyman Triathalon Update #2

Welcome everyone!


Here is another Lazyman Triathlon update! In 5 weeks, we are to each:

Run: 26.2 miles
Bike: 112 miles
Swim: 2.5 miles or Row 12.5 miles

With 5 days remaining including today(Monday), here is what we have left to accomplish.

Crystal
Run: 6.24 miles
Bike: 16miles
Swim: .5 miles
*Crystal did two major swim workouts to lower her total left! Good job Crystal!

Ryan
Run: 3 miles
Bike: 17 miles
Row: 1.05 miles
*Ryan did a mini triathalon on Sunday completing 12 biking, 1 rowing, and 2 running miles in 55 minutes. Good job me! :)

We are so close......CHEER US ON...what if we don't have the will to finish?!?!?! ;)

Friday, July 28, 2006

4th Crop Share

Another crop share has come our way!


*Basil
*Carrots
*Eggplant
*Garlic
*Green Beans
*Green Peppers
*Onions
*Oregano
*Parsley
*Sage
*Salad Mix
*Sweet Corn
*Thyme
*Tomatoes - Sungold Cherry
*Tomatoes - Roma Heirloom
*Zucchini/Summer Squash


Crystal has already rustled up some recipe ideas including: Basil Pesto, Bruschetta, Carrot Cake, Grilled Corn/Eggplant/Zucchini, Eggplant & Smoked Gouda Open Faced Grilled Sandwiches, and Spicy Red-Pepper & Eggplant served over bread.

Anybody have more ideas for these ingredients? We would like to hear what other recipe ideas are out there.

Crystal's parents have been growing some eggplant for us and we also received one in our crop share this week. Upcoming...Let's get familiar with eggplant week

I can't wait for the grilled sweet corn...oh, yeah! I will chomp it while Crystal must cut her's off the cob ;)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Vegetable Lasagna

While looking at our crop share haul from the last week, I noticed we could use a lot of the ingredients for my Vegetable Lasagna. I say "my", but it's orginally from Cooking Light and just altered over the years :)

First, chop up a bunch of veggies: broccoli, carrots, onions, garlic, and red pepper. Saute them in a bit of olive oil until softened and set aside.

Meanwhile, boil and cook lasagna noodles until al dente. Mix a bowl with cottage cheese, Swiss, and mozzarella and set aside. Also, make a white sauce with flour and milk over low heat. We typically add spinach to this white sauce, but decided to use collards instead.
















Once the greens have cooked down a bit, reserve some of the sauce and start layering the lasagna: white sauce, veggies, cheese mix, noodles and end with noodles. Smear the reserved white sauce over the noodles and bake.















Normally, this dish rocks. Unfortunately, this time it was just so-so. Maybe it was the collards or maybe I tried to make it all too fast. Who knows. We still enjoyed it and still have plenty of leftovers, so we should be able to pinpoint the issue one of these days!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

French Toast and Cake

I had the honor of testing another recipe for Catherine. This time it was French Toast. Since I had the whole Ener-G vs. egg experiment the other night, I figured I would be able to make both the regular and vegan versions for her.

Both versions were yummy! I topped them with Cool Whip, raspberries and maple syrup. Yeah, I know - Cool Whip does not = vegan, but it was still good. The French Toast gives a little sweetness kick due to Catherine's combo of ingredients. Worth trying when the cookbook comes out!
















While I was in my Chicago meetings, my friend, Pat, gave me an alternate instructions for Angel Food Cake and I tried it this weekend. Basically, you take a box of angel food cake and omit the water. Instead, dump a 20 ounce can of crushed pineapples in and mix away. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 mintues and voila! A great cake is born. Seriously, this stuff is addicting and fluffy and moist - mmmm!


















Not sure if anyone else does this, but when I'm mixing the batter, I have to at least try it. With regular angel food cake, the batter is kinda gross. Not the case with Pineapple Angel Food Cake! The batter is great. Try it for yourself.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Vegetable Pancakes & Beet Salad

Ok, I think we have found a huge winner! These veggie pancakes we made over the weekend rocked and I can't wait to share (the recipe, not the food...make your own!!)

After not having eggs for the Eggplant Parmesan, we thought it would be good to have Ener-G Egg Replacer around the house just in case we run into future instances. Since we had the Ener-G on hand, we also thought it would be good to experiment with this recipe: one batch to use eggs and the other batch to use Ener-G.

I chopped up the veggies for the pancakes: onion, celery, green pepper and carrots. They all sautéed in a little bit of olive oil while I chopped the next ingredient: spinach. I divided this mixture in half. One half went into the bowl with real egg and Panko and the other half went into the Ener-G bowl with Panko. Once the mixture was combined, both bowls went into the fridge to set up a bit before forming into pancakes.


















A skillet was heated up with a bit of vegetable oil in it for light frying. I cooked the pancakes for a few minutes on each side and drained them on paper towels. Here’s where I started to notice the differences between egg and Ener-G: the egg ones barely drained at all on the towels and the Ener-G ones drained a ton of oil! There’s gotta be some kind of science associated with this, but I’m not a scientist so I’ll leave it alone.

Next, I noticed the egg version were more fluffy and filled with egg. The Ener-G version looked more appetizing and fresh.

Now for the taste test: Ener-G version won!! The pancakes were crispier, more flavorful, and all around tasted better. The egg ones were still good, but not great – we actually weren’t fans of the egg part. They were garnished with sour cream and cilantro and served with a beet salad, which Ryan made while I was making the pancakes.

















For the salad, Ryan peeled and diced the beets and cooked them in boiling water just like potatoes. We were originally going to use arugula for the salad, but the container we bought was bad (this is the 2nd time this has happened with Earthbound Organics salad mix and we just bought it the day before!!). So, we substituted watercress and spinach. We didn't use as much salad dressing as listed below, so we have some for other salads.

Here’s the recipe:
3 bunches fresh arugula, washed and trimmed
¾ cup crumbled blue cheese
¼ cup champagne vinegar
½ cup olive oil
2 cups beets, peeled, diced and cooked
½ cup thinly sliced celery
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
½ cup toasted walnut pieces

In a bottle or bowl, whisk vinegar and olive oil together. Add ½ cup blue cheese and combine. In a large bowl, toss ½ cup with arugula and arrange on salad plates. In the same large bowl, toss beets, celery, salt and pepper with remaining dressing; spoon over arugula. Sprinkle each serving with walnuts and additional blue cheese.

This was our first time eating beets and they were very good. Kinda earthy, but tasty too. It was good to try them with blue cheese first since I love almost anything with blue cheese on it! Ryan is starting to like blue cheese more and more. Looks like I've been a good influence on him. We can't wait to make these vegetable pancakes again; they were just that good!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Eggplant Parmesan & Collard Greens

One of the first things we made upon our return from Chicago was Eggplant Parmesan and Collard Greens. My mom has been nice enough to host a few eggplant plants in her garden and we recently picked a couple ripe ones. She said they are all of the sudden exploding over there, so I’m sure we’ll have a few more eggplant posts coming up!

Also, we received some collard greens in our crop share. Having never used collards before, we relied on the recipe provided in our CSA newsletter. In that recipe, you heat a little oil in a pan, roast some garlic and add the greens to wilt. We added some carrot greens to this recipe as well. They are then topped with golden raisins, toasted pine nuts and salt and pepper.

For the eggplant, we realized we didn’t have any egg for breading, so we just sprayed the eggplants with cooking spray, dipped them into Panko bread crumbs and cooked them in a little oil on the stovetop. They cook so dang quickly; I was running around the kitchen to get paper towels for them to drain! We served them with spaghetti and Trader Joe’s pasta sauce. Now that I think about it, there was no Parmesan cheese in the breading, so I guess they aren’t technically Eggplant Parmesans, but oh well.


Everything turned out really tasty! The eggplants were cooked perfectly and had just a bit of crunch from the breadcrumbs. The collards were earthy and sweet from the raisin mixture and we made the perfect amount for a side dish.













Like I said earlier, my mom has a ton of eggplants and was going to try to cook them for the first time. I hope her Eggplant Parmesan turned out good!

Friday, July 21, 2006

3rd Crop Share

Crystal and I left for Chicago last Thursday, so we couldn't pick up our crop share. But luckily, my parents were willing to pick it up, take a picture, bag it , and place it in our fridge. All for no charge ;) It was packaged so nicely upon our return.

Here is a rundown of the box contents from last week:

*Pattypan Squash
*Collard Greens
*Cucumbers
*Beets
*Raspberries
*Carrots
*Broccoli
*Onion
*Salad Mix
*Dill
















Crystal and I are not big fans of dill. We bought a spring mix from the grocery store once that contained dill, and upon consumption we learned that dill is not for us. Maybe dill is the reason for my deep dislike of pickles...dill pickles...ugggggggg.

We continue to enjoy our crop share immensely and will most likely sign up for a full share next year rather than the half share. This week we learned, from our recent crop share newsletter, that carrot greens are edible. Sweet!

Thanks for all the support for our Lazy Man Triathalon!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Lazyman Triathlon Update

Hi everyone!

As promised, here's a Lazyman Triathlon update! In 5 weeks, we are to each:

Run: 26.2 miles
Bike: 112 miles
Swim: 2.5 miles or Row 12.5 miles

With 16 days remaining including today, here is what we have left to accomplish.

Crystal
Run: 10.34 miles
Bike: 64 miles
Swim: 2.5 miles
*yeah, I haven’t quite gotten to the swimming part yet!

Ryan
Run: 11.4 miles
Bike: 69 miles
Row: 8.4 miles

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Blind Faith Cafe

Well, hello. We're back from the great city of Chicago! I was there for some meetings for a service organization I serve. The meetings went really well and I feel more supported and energized about my role. While I was in meetings, Ryan took it upon himself to check out his surroundings. He will be blogging about that later.

When we first arrived to Chicago (we drove - 7 hours), we checked into the hotel and headed straight to the Blind Faith Cafe upon recommendation from Kleopatra.

We were soooo hungry and ordered a bowl of chili to split while we waited for our meals. The chili was really good and had beans, tomatoes, green peppers and probably some TVP. We were too hungry to take a picture - sorry!

For our main meals, I ordered the Pesto Grilled Vegetable Sandwich. It was served on foccicia bread with grilled zucchini, grilled yellow squash, roasted red peppers, organic tofu and a pesto of cashews and basil.

















The sandwich itself was HUGE and could have served at least 2 people. I barely finished off half of the sandwich. I really liked how the veggies and tofu weren't directly layered on top of each other (which would make a very tall sandwich), instead, it was spread out across the sandwich with only some overlapping. I would definitely try to make this at home as it was a very tasty sandwich. It was served with some multi-grain tortilla chips and salsa.


















Ryan ordered the Mongolian Stir-Fry which was seitan, broccoli, red peppers and scallions in a Mongolian spicy sauce served with brown rice on the side. This was the first time we have had seitan and we loved it! It added a hearty-ness to the dish. It was so good and not salty at all (compared to other stir-fry dishes).

We had so many leftovers and they packaged them up very nicely. No styrofoam containers here!! Almost all of the containers were reusable which made us happy and they fit into our cooler so Ryan could eat the leftovers while I was in catered meetings.

Thanks a lot for the recommendations - the Blind Faith Cafe was a winner! We would be happy to return to this place again; which will probably be during next summer's trip to Chicago.

We hope to get back in the swing of things pretty soon, but our week is pretty packed already. We love traveling, but are always happy to be back at home and back into our routine. We need to get to the grocery store this week and planned out some meals last night so there will be more blogging in store soon!

Ra Sushi

Crystal was involved in meetings all day Saturday, so I decided to drive around the greater Chicago area to get some sushi and study. I went to RA Sushi, which I found in the Chicago tourist guide we picked up from our hotel front desk.

I couldn't decided what I wanted, so I started off with some sweet cold sake and hot green tea. Both were very good!

















After much debate over the menu selection and a few sips of sake, I decided to try some Nigiri Sushi, yellowtail this time, and the Spicy Lobster roll.




The Spicy Lobster roll was wrapped in soy paper, lightly dusted with sesame seeds, and included:

*Lobster
*Cilantro
*Jalapeño
*Lettuce
*Avacado
*Cucumber

The Nigiri Yellowtail was very tender and the rice was the perfect consistency.




Ra Sushi was so good; I had to take Crystal back for the experience. We headed there on Sunday evening after a pit-stop at Trader Joe's, of course ;) This time we ordered their signature Viva Las Vegas roll. The roll was good, but the spicy tuna and crab mixture on top of the roll was a little too much in volume.

Everything in the Vegas rolls was cooked and we wanted to get the tenderness of the fish itself. We ordered the Rainbow roll from their Maki Sushi menu. The Rainbow roll included:

*Crab mixture and cucumber
*Rolled in nori, rice, and topped with:
*Avacado
*Salmon
*Tuna
*Halibut
*Yellowtail

We held off on the pictures this night since we were just enjoying the experience, $1 hot sake(happy hour), and learning more about sushi from the helpful chef. Whilst eating our Rainbow roll, the chef produced four Nigiri style seared and peppered tuna and told us they were on the house. These were delicious...even more so because they were free! Crystal has found a new favorite.

We had a great time in Chicago and are looking forward to making some food at home as Crystal stated earlier. Thanks for all the comments and suggestions. We will be checking out the places we didn't make it to next time we go...if there is any free time for Crystal :)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Chicago

Hello all,

We will be in Chicago for the next few days and therefore will not be posting...most likely. We will take pictures of food we try and hopefully will make it to a few good restaurants. Have a good weekend!

Cheers,

Ryan & Crystal

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Sweet Potato-Swiss Chard Burritos with Corn Relish

This is the first full dinner I(Ryan) have cooked completely myself since returning from Atlanta. Of course Crystal provided the recipe...she finds very good recipes! This recipe, from Redbook, is modified based on ingredients we needed to use up. I started off by making the corn relish which included:

*Mexican-style kernel corn
*Plum Tomato
*Lime Juice
*Cilantro
*Baby Shallot
*Jalapeño















I let the corn salsa sit in the fridge while I prepared the rest of the dish which contained:

*Sweet Potatoes
*Yellow Onion
*Garlic
*Jalapeño
*Cumin & Salt
*Red Bell Pepper
*Swiss Chard
*Lime Juice
*Refried Black Beans










Here it is all plated up! This was a great healthy meal and provided plenty for leftovers. We used the remainder of our flour tortillas for this dinner, so I toasted up some bread, applied ingredients, and had a new leftover sandwich the next day. I have never tried burrito toppings on a sandwich. It turned out pretty good!















Viola!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Grilled Steak & Zucchini Salad

The other night we were in the mood for a salad and needed to use up some crop share ingredients. We cut up the romaine lettuce, some peas, carrots, scallions, onions, and beet greens and added grilled steak, garlic scapes and zucchini. For the dressing, I made a basil vinagrette out of basil, Dijon mustard, olive oil, red wine vinegar and some white wine to thin it out.


















Yet another simple meal, but good with plenty of leftovers for lunch side dishes. This was the last of the steak in our freezer. We only have a couple other meat items in there which will eventually get used up.

Wondering how the triathalon is going? We'll be posting an update on that near the end of the week. Stay tuned!!

Fruit Pancakes

Yum! Since I had a whole bunch of Vegan Pancake mixes already bagged, I decided we'd have pancakes for breakfast. We had fresh bananas and frozen raspberries and added those to the batter (separately!). Add a little Earth Balance and maple syrup and there's our awesome breakfast. Oh yeah, we also had some hot tea. Something I always forget, but luckily I have Ryan to remember!


















Maybe next time I'll get fancy and make a raspberry compote for the top...maybe.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Basil, Mozzarella, and Tomato Appetizer

Ryan came home Thursday afternoon - (I came home on Wednesday morning). We had planned to grill, but we never got around to it.

However, we did make a little appetizer that filled us up. I cut up and toasted some foccacia bread and served it with tomato, basil (from our crop share), and fresh mozzarella.





















Not much, but it was very good!

Friday, July 7, 2006

Atlanta Eats

Whew, we're home! We had a great trip, Ryan worked very hard and Atlanta is HOT! While we were there, we had a chance to check out a few cool restaurants and I'll highlight a couple here.

Saturday night we headed out to Twist in the Buckhead area. Twist is a sushi and tapas restaurant and it is pretty big - they have a sushi bar, private dining rooms, a patio, and a main room where a DJ plays. The DJ was spinning some great music - all of our favorite artists and their influencers. Ryan and I started with some fun martinis - his was Chocolate Cherry with maraschino juice, white chocolate vodka and cherry liqueur.






















Mine was a Margarita-like martini with orange and lime juice, Jose Cuervo, Grand Marnier and a sugar rim (very different for me since I'm a total salt fan!)






















We love sushi, but won't order it just anywhere and this place looked and smelled right. We started with the Sinatra which was tuna, yellowtail, eel, cream cheese, asparagus, and Jimmy's sauce. The outside rice of the roll was flash-fried which added an awesome crunch to the sushi. This was our absolute favorite!


















Next we had a tapas selection of Queso Fresco with Chorizo and Poblano. It was served as a dip with fried flour tortilla chips on the side. It rocked! It reminded me of something I've had before, but I can't pinpoint it.

















We ended with a couple other sushi orders. Ryan tried some Red Snapper Nigri. He has never had nigri, but liked it. Since it is just a piece of fish on rice, it isn't as exciting as some of the maki selections.

















We also tried the Twist Special upon recommendation from our server. This was snow crab, avocado, and asparagus, topped with eel and fresh salmon. Ryan gobbled it up, but I think I had too much to eat and drink already that I could only get one piece down.






















Another exciting thing about this restaurant was their sake selection. They even had Sparkling Sake...I never knew it existed!! Of course we ordered it and of course it was awesome! Now I have to find it online and ship it to our house.

















Oh, and one final cool thing about Twist...all the employees had shirts that corresponded to their role at the restaurant. All shirts had the word "UP" on the back. On the front the servers had "EAT", the bartenders had "DRINK" and the bus-staff had "CLEAN" - how cool!

Monday night we headed to Joey's Latin Grill in Midtown and lucky us, it was salsa night! It was a small place and we got a booth right next to the dance floor. We were totally amazed at this place. I ordered fajitas and Ryan ordered a spinach enchilada - both of which were very tasty. We also tried their Red Apple Margaritas and they were awesome - I am a traditional margarita lover so I was surprised that I liked this one so much.

Now, Ryan and I contemplated going on the dance floor, but there seemed to not be any amateurs dancing - I swear they were all professionals! We couldn't believe how good everyone was. Ryan and I have taken dance lessons with a small segment in salsa dancing, but we didn't learn all these spins and turns and stuff. Wow! We were really surprised to find such great Latin dancers in Atlanta of all places!


















For the 4th of July, we went to Decatur for shopping and took a taxi to the DeKalb Farmer's Market upon high recommendation from Taylor. This place was so cool - it was like a huge grocery store with all the products I'd want. We bought a few things:

arrowroot
Steen's Pure Cane Syrup
organic Sake
organic cashews

Ryan and I had fun just walking up and down the veggie aisles looking at all the items we've heard of, but never seen. No pictures were allowed, sorry! I would have loved to rent a condo for a couple weeks so I could make use of all the produce. It's like having your Asian market, Indian store, Mexican market, and American organic market all under one roof. Very cool.

We ate at the Brick Store Pub and it was showing the World Cup match - Italy vs. Germany, so the bar area was packed! Ryan was very impressed with their extensive beer selection and that their side salad wasn't just iceberg or romaine lettuce; it was actually a true mixed greens salad with fresh tomatoes, golden raisins, and sunflower seeds. Yum!

We are glad to back home now and making some home cooked meals. More posts to come soon before we take off for yet another trip...next stop: Chicago.

Monday, July 3, 2006

2nd Crop Share is Here!

Yeah! Our crop share is here again. Since we only have a half share, we get a full share every other week.

Since I'm heading to Atlanta for 5 days, I decided it would be best to split the share with Ryan's mom this time around. I know she'll get good use out of the veggies and then our half won't go bad by the time we can eat them.

















Here is what we received this time:

Blue Potatoes
Baby Carrots
Swiss Chard
Romaine Lettuce
Snow and Sugar Snap Peas
Beets
Baby Shallots
Basil
Zucchini

I have no clue what to do with beets - any suggestions??

I'm taking some of the carrots and peas with me for a snack on the plane (you know those cheap airlines never give you snacks anymore!).

Happy 4th of July!! Enjoy your weekend of grilling, friends, family and fireworks!!

Saturday, July 1, 2006

Lazyman Triathalon Starts!

Today is the first day of the Lazyman Triathalon sponsored by the YMCA! I work out regularly by doing yoga, BodyPump (endurance weight lifting), and cycling, however, I wanted to boost up my workouts and thought this was a great idea.

So, Ryan and I decided to participate in the Lazyman Triathalon. It's like a regular triathalon, but you have 5 weeks to complete the activities:

112 miles of biking
26.2 miles of running
2.5 miles of swimming

Even though we have 5 weeks to complete it, it is still quite intense to get all the activities in. We have planned it all out week by week so we meet our goals.

Wish us luck!!
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