I have some RIDICULOUSLY fit colleagues. One of my mentors teaches boxing and spinning classes. Several colleagues plan to participate in multiple marathon events this year. Some of my clients also spotlight athletes’ amazing feats.
Inspired by their collective fitness achievements, I recently decided to set my own personal summer goal. I’ve registered to complete my first 10K in July! While fitness has always been a priority for me, I’ve tended to shy away from running races. For me, its always seemed easier to take a dance/aerobics/cardio class or complete a timed workout on the elliptical versus hitting the open road. There’s an extra bit of motivation needed – both mentally and physically – when you don’t have an instructor or a TV show attached to the machine to urge you on. To help prepare for my first 10K, I’ve been following a six-week online training plan. I’ve also been scoping out smoothie recipes.
So for this Fiesta Friday, I present you with my first green smoothie. It’s a Green Strawberry Pineapple Banana Smoothie that features spinach as the leafy greens. (I’ve got kale waiting in the wings to try out sometime soon, too.) The banana provides a creamy texture and the pineapple juice and fresh strawberries lend their natural sweetness to the drink. (Big thanks to Andrea for the strawberry heart inspiration. :) You should check out her recipe for Strawberry White Chocolate Blondies.)
What are your favorite smoothie ingredients? Do you have any fitness tips to share with me?
Green Strawberry Banana Smoothie
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 cup strawberries
- 1 banana
- 1/3 cup pineapple juice
- 1 cup ice cubes
1. Pour 1/3 cup pineapple juice into blender.
2. Slice strawberries and banana and add in blender, followed by 1 cup spinach leaves.
3. Blend mixture until smooth. Next, slowly add in ice cubes in small batches – 2 or 3 at a time. And voila! No extra sweeteners needed.
My dad was the first person to teach me how to bake. I’ve already blogged about my him as an expert pie maker and all-around awesome person a few times. On Thanksgiving, he made pumpkin pie for breakfast and proudly displays the “evil pie” print I purchased for him in our family’s living room. He also sent me a surprise package of baking supplies to celebrate Spring!
Last year, when I sent him photo evidence of my Apple Pie Cookies, he lightly scoffed at my use of canned apples. :-P At my parent’s house, we have apple trees in the backyard. One year, my dad went into uber-pie mode and made more than ten apple pies, not wanting the fruit to go to waste. After we’d had our fill, he shared some with his coworkers, our cousins and the neighbors, too. It’s no surprise that he earned a new sense of respect from those who hadn’t ever tried one of his pies before.
So when my dad was in town, I was determined to have him bake with me. :) We already had an ambitious schedule of activities for my parents’ visit, so I forced him…(err, I mean asked him nicely) to retry a quick recipe. We followed my Apple Pie Cookies recipe using cherry filling, instead. Cherry pie always makes me think of my dad because (1) any pie makes me think of my dad, (2) he loves cherries and cherry-flavored foods and (3) he tells a funny story about a girl he once met named Cherry. As the story goes, he was working as a substitute teacher and saw the name “Cherry Pie” on his roll call sheet. Wanting to avoid embarrassing her, he pronounced her name “Sherry,” thinking that “Cherry Pie” was just too unlikely a name. He quickly learned he was wrong when she shot back a harsh, “It’s Ch-erry Pie” response. Ah well, he had the best of intentions! (He always, always does.)
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! I’m sending out lots of love to my dad for being my mentor in so many ways.
Cherry Pie Cookies
- Frozen pie crusts – 1 box
- Cherry pie filling – 1 can
- Circle cookie cutter (I used a 2.5″ cookie cutter from Sur La Table which yielded ~18 cookies.)
- Egg – 1
- Parchment paper
- Flour – just enough to sprinkle on the crusts to keep them from sticking to the parchment paper
1. Sprinkle flour on 1 pie crust and roll it out on a piece of parchment paper. (I also rolled out my 2nd pie crust at the same time on a separate sheet of parchment paper, to ensure it was the same size. You’ll need it later to top your pie cookies!)
2. Pour out pie filling on cutting board and chop it into bite-size pieces. Spread topping on crust.
3. Cut 2nd pie crust into strips and weave into a lattice pattern.
4. Dip circle cookie cutter in egg wash and cut out pie cookies. Arrange on cookie sheet. Brush some extra egg wash on cookie tops.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes and then allow time to cool. Enjoy!
Last week, I took a trip down to New Orleans with a mission to do some major nomming. And man, did we feast like royalty!
On our first morning there, we grabbed beignets from the world famous Cafe Du Monde, which was established in 1862. These little puffs of dough are smothered in powdered sugar, which of course, ended up all over my face and the table, too. There’s never a bad time for beignets, and that’s easy enough to fix in Nola because Cafe Du Monde stays open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!
Fresh seafood wasn’t hard to come by either. We ate oysters, both raw and dolled up, like the Oysters Rockefeller dish from Royal House you see below. My friend even found a local crawfish boil and sampled a crawfish enchilada dish. The fried pickles that we also ordered that night had just the right amount of seasoning and the batter was light enough to still taste the briny pickles themselves.
Curious to see what all the hype was about at Peche, which recently won two James Beard Foundation Awards for Best New Restaurant and Best Chef: South, we scored a last minute lunch reservation and ordered the Grilled Redfish with Salsa Verde. Clearly, we destroyed it. The sign of a meal prepared (and devoured) right!
There were few times that we even saved room for dessert, but we did try Snowballs as a treat after a long walk through the sculpture park in City Park. They’re sort of like high end snow cones; the ice is finely shaved and the flavor selections at the stand we stopped at ranged from Sweet Nectar Creme to King Cake to more basic flavors like grapefruit and watermelon. Yelp! reviewers suggested adding condensed milk atop our orders, and while I ended up scooping most of mine off, my friend swore that she could eat more of hers for days. I’m not sure that the flavors I chose paired well with the creaminess of the milk.
We also properly prepped our stomachs for the grand, three course meal at Commander’s Palace. It’s located in the Garden District, a lovely neighborhood filled with tree-lined streets and mansions. The restaurant itself is in an old, sprawling, Victorian-style, blue house. The interior is brightly colored with green and yellow striped wallpaper and curtains.
If you go for lunch, they offer $0.25 cent martinis. Yowza, and yes, I definitely had to try ’em! I also ordered Chef Tory’s Classic Creole Luncheon – gumbo; BBQ Gulf Fish with corn coush-coush, charred chilies, and red pepper paint; and the Creole Bread Pudding Souffle. The fish was cooked perfectly and the BBQ sauce was light and subtle, but still had a nice smoky flavor to it. But the best part of the meal was definitely dessert! The souffle was presented to us all properly puffed up. Then the server drizzled it with a whiskey cream sauce that broke the souffle and settled into its center. Dear souffle, I didn’t have room for you, but I made room and you were absolutely delightful. The dessert was served still warm – they’re made to order and take at least 30 minutes to prepare – and each bite was light and fluffy with a sweet, nutty flavor.
The service at Commander’s Palace was also phenomenal. Our waiter was knowledgeable and attentive and each course was presented with pride by the house staff. When we left, we got to walk through their kitchens; they’re open to the general public. We also took a quick tour of the courtyard outdoors and then it was off to explore more of the Garden District.
My last meal in Nola was a sampler plate of Jambalaya, Shrimp Creole and red beans and rice. By the end of our short stay, I was ready to roll myself home like a pleasantly plump baby in need of a MAJOR food coma slumber session. I’ll be back down in the South soon; next up on my travel list is Savannah, Georgia. It’s another city that I’ve never been to before, and I’m looking forward to exploring the harbor.