June Fortune

11 days into June, and it’s been a wonderful month so far.

Here are some news update on my life:

1. We’re getting a puppy! She’s an American Brittany.  She’ll be 13 weeks old when we pick her up Friday (this Friday! Ahhhh!).  Her name is Ches (like the game)-short for Chestnut. We are ecstatic! There will probably be some full posts about her in the very near future.  Expect BUNCHES of photos. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. I’m on week four of my training program and except for yesterday’s 3 mile run, I’ve stayed on track.  Today I have a 4.2 mile walk/run interval session lined up.  Waiting for Miss Brittney to get home from work and then we’re off to whip those legs into shape.

3. There are 82 days until my first race!  With nearly three months left, I’m pretty sure I’ll be ready and raring to go.

4. I hike the Long Trail in just 12 days – yikes!  I am nowhere near prepared. I’m heading into a week-long hiking trip with my cousin Spenser and my Aunt Karen.  I believe they just planned out the route this past weekend.  I have yet to see it, but I am pretty excited.  I’m (hopefully) getting some new hiking shoes Wednesday that I plan on breaking-in all next week (I know, not really enough time, but it’ll have to do).  I’ll try to borrow a hiking pack from one of my female hiking pals.  That just leaves a tent, water filtration system, and food to worry about.  You know, no big deal.

Ok, enough with the updates, onto my weekend.

This past weekend was gorgeous.  A stunning, summery Vermont weekend.  If only they could all be like that.  I even saw some kiddos splashing around in the lakes!  Brrrrr!  Dustin and I spent the weekend driving around in a topless jeep.  It’s been a long while since the jeep’s been road-legal.  We definitely took advantage of the fine weather and the jeep’s new legal status to cruise around the state.  Friday night it was off to Southern Vermont to help my little sister prepare for her eighth grade semi-formal. 

Isn’t she stunning?!  She’s not one to dress up often, so it was great to see her all dolled up in this wicked cute dress.  She’s growing up so fast…

She was lucky enough to be picked up from her dance in the loud, attention-grabbing jeep.  I think she was thrilled.  Then  she got to stroll around the grocery store at 10pm with her indecisive sister while wearing her formal garb.  Again, thrilled, I’m sure.

Saturday morning began with a relaxing dip in the spa.  My mom keeps that hot tub sparkling clean.  I love using it at least once when I’m home.  Dustin has extensive plans to build a solar powered hot tub for us.  I’m sure he will attempt the build. Someday… I don’t have my hopes set on enjoying that anytime soon.

Saturday afternoon we made our way to Boston to pick up some friends who flew in from Colorado.  I have to shout out to Dustin’s brother-in-law for kindly driving us into Boston and back to Leominster.  Riding in his new SUV was a much smoother, easier, more baggage-friendly ride than the jeep would have been.  We were able to enjoy a nice BBQ dinner on a new deck/patio while catching up with our friends before we headed back to Vermont.

The trip back was… a tight squeeze.  4 adults, 2 full suitcases, a box of puppy supplies, several backpacks and miscellaneous bags, all packed into this jeep:

Catherine and Ryan were able to enjoy a nice romantic cuddle session in the back seat (whether they wanted to or not).

We traveled to Randolph where we picked up a roomier vehicle and then headed from there to the NEK.  We arrived way up in Lyndonville at 2:20 am, exhausted and cramped.  I think we were all asleep within 5 minutes.

We were awoken on Sunday by two itty bitty kitties… Ryan’s cat had kittens about 5 weeks ago.  They were adorable little fuzz balls.  I love kittens.

We headed out early after doughnuts and coffee, compliments of the Ward family. We traveled the winding roads south to pick up the jeep then finally headed back home.  What a beautiful, beautiful day for a ride.

Today is just as gorgeous – sun, breeze, and blue skies.  The summer can’t get much better (and it’s technically not even summer yet)!

Tomorrow I’m off to Southern Vermont once again.  This time to celebrate my sister’s eighth grade graduation, to kayak with my other sister, and to teach my brother to drive a manual.  If I survive that car ride, I’ll be back on Wednesday with two red wine updates.

Ciao!

Check it Out!

Check out the updated “Recipes” page! You can find all the recipes I post categorized there.

Be sure to check out today’s post, too.  Lot’s of great meals to try one of these summer-like evenings.

Ciao!

Great Dinner Dates with Great Roommates

Who’s running a 5K trail race at Jay Peak?  This girl!  Signed up yesterday.  I’m super pumped.  The black diamond run… my thighs are going to hate me…for a very long time.  I was supposed to run the Smuttynose Half with timefortangerine in September.  But, pavement running is just too harsh on my delicate knees, so I’ve switched over to something I’ve wanted to do for a while now – trail running!  Timefortangerine will be racing through her third half marathon in support of the Pope Memorial Frontier Humane Society in Newport, VT.    If you’ve got a few extra ones lying around, (maybe some quarters hidden in that big comfy couch?), and you feel some love for those cute furry pets the humane society’s work so hard to care for, think about contacting Ms. Tangerine here.

My weeks have been so crazy lately, though it seems I’ve done nothing at all.  I put together a training schedule to prepare for Jay, and have been sticking to it.  I’m finishing up the first of my two summer courses and that’s been eating up a good chunk of my time.  Sunday marks the last day of this course, though.  Hooray!  25% done with my second Bachelors.  This program is going by too quickly. I’ve been planning meals to make with Ms. Brittney for our family-style dinners here at the Gendreau residence.  So far, we’ve had a delightful few weeks of scrumptious suppers.   Check it out:

Below: Beer Battered Tilapia with a Mango Salsa served over a Brown Rice Blend

To the left: Fennel Garlic Chicken Breast served with Rosemary Roasted Potatoes and a mixed green salad.

Note last Wednesday’s white wine tasting in action below!

We had too many great meals to blog about recently.  We enjoyed Venison tacos and Venison Sloppy Joes.  Two super easy recipes and great ways to use up any leftover deer meat.  I can’t say I’m a HUGE fan of venison, so I appreciated these recipes for their ability to mask the gamey meat flavor.  Check out allrecipes for the Taco Seasoning and food.com for the Sloppy Joe recipes.  We used corn tortillas and added spinach, fresh cherry tomatoes, and sharp cheddar cheese to the ground venison for a tasty, gluten-free taco.  Do with yours what you’d like.  I ate my sloppy joe with rice, while others ate theirs with tortilla chips, and others on a bun.  These recipes are so versatile, everyone can find a way to enjoy them.

We also checked out the new restaurant in Waterbury - Prohibition Pig.  Great atmosphere, terrific beer list, good food.

Last night, we ended a chilly, drizzly day with a simple Beef Stew.

Just some carrots, celery, garlic, onion.  Easy peasy.  For those of you that know me, you already understand that I’m messy in the kitchen. I somehow manage to use every dish, every utensil, every measuring spoon, etc. in the house, even when it’s just rice that I’m cooking up.  I also have this tendency to spill things and drop things… The other day, while making dinner, you could nearly filla dustpan with the scraps that I threw around.  I’m totally serious here.  It’s pretty bad.  Last night, though, I hardly dropped a thing.  I was actually super excited about it.  When Brittney walked in the door from work I ran to her bragging about the tiny tiny pile of garlic pieces on the floor.  She was witness to my impressive ways.

The Stew was delicious.  Served some super simple dairy-free mashed potatoes. A nice easy way to round out an overall crummy day.

Beef Stew (adapted from Food and Wine’s Best of the Best Cookbook)

  • 5 carrots, peeled, halved, and cut into 1-2″ chunks
  • 5 stalks of celery, clean, and chopped
  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 lbs chuck roast
  • 3 T canola
  • 4 cups of gluten-free beef broth
  • 1/2 cup red Bordeaux-style wine
  • 1 t parsley flakes
  • 1 t rosemary
  • ground peppercorn
  • sea salt
  • 5 russet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/3 cup potato water
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (or regular milk)
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Remove large fat deposits from the beef.
  3. Cut beef into 1 inch cubes.
  4. Sprinkle with sea salt and ground pepper.
  5. To a large saute pan set at medium-high heat, add 2 T canola oil. 
  6. Once hot, add beef cubes.
  7. Brown the beef on each side for 2 minutes.
  8. Transfer beef to plate.
  9. Add 1 T canola oil and carefully add the onions, celery and carrots.  Turn heat to medium and saute 5 minutes or until soft.
  10. Add garlic and saute another 2 minutes.
  11. To a large glass baking pan/ casserole dish (like pictured above, right) or dutch oven, add the veggies, meat and juices, beef broth, parsley and rosemary.
  12. Place pan in oven and braise for 40 minutes.
  13. Remove from oven, add 1/2 cup of red wine and stir.
  14. Return to oven and cook for 1 1/2 hours.
  15. Check the meat for desired tenderness.
  16. May need to cook for another 1/2 hour.
  17. While meat is braising, prepare the mashed potatoes.
  18. Quarter the potatoes and add to a pot.
  19. Cover the potatoes with water.
  20. Cover the pot and bring to boil.
  21. Turn to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  22. Use a fork to test for done-ness (fork should easily pierce through the potatoes).
  23. Strain, saving 1/3 cup of the potato water.
  24. Add bouillon cube to water.  Mix well.
  25. Add milk, salt and pepper.
  26. Pour mixture over potatoes and mash well.
  27.  If too thick, add 1 T water at a time until you reach desired consistency.
  28. Serve stew over mashed potatoes. 

Tips:

Serve with remaining wine.  Delicious!

Fennel Garlic Chicken Breast (adapted from Food and Wine)

  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 t fennel
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1/4 t crushed red pepper
  • sea salt
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 extra large chicken breast cut in half or 4 smaller breasts
  1. With a mortar and pestle, grind the garlic, fennel seeds, oregano, red pepper and salt into a thick paste.
  2. Add the olive oil.   
  3. Make three gentle, diagonal slices on the top of each breast.
  4. Rub 1/4 of paste into each breast, rubbing into each of the cuts.
  5. Sear each breast over medium-high heat (no longer than 1 minute each side).
  6. Cook, covered, for 4 minutes. 
  7. Turn and cook, covered for 4 minutes. 
  8. Best served hot with Rosemary Roasted Potatoes and a green veggie. 

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

  • 1 bag of baby red potatoes
  • 1 T rosemary
  • ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
  • 2 T olive oil
  1. Quarter red potatoes.
  2. Place potatoes in glass baking dish.
  3. Pour oil over potatoes to coat (may need to mix).
  4. Sprinkle rosemary, salt and pepper evenly over potatoes.
  5. Place in 450 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Beer Battered Tilapia (adapted from Eating Well)

  1. In a small bowl, combine cumin, salt, pepper, beer and flour.
  2. Whisk until mixed well.
  3. Coat each piece of fish in the batter.
  4. Heat oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat.
  5. Place fish in pan and cook 4 minutes per side (fish will start to flake when done).
  6. Serve over Seeds of Change Quinoa and Brown Rice topped with Mango Salsa

Mango Salsa (adapted from Eating Well)

  • 1 ripe mango, peeled
  • 1/3 cup sliced red onion
  • 2 T fresh lime juice
  • 1.5 T rice vinegar
  • 1/2 T fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup cucumber, peeled and diced
  1. Cut mango into small cubes (need help?)
  2. Add mango, red onion, and cucumber to a small dish.
  3. Add vinegar and lime juice.
  4. Season with cilantro.
  5. Cover and place in fridge for 30 minute.
  6. Eat with tortilla chips or over fish. 

Note: All recipes posted above serve 4-5 people. 

We’ve had many great meals in and some great meals out in the past few weeks.

Are we spoiled?  Maybe just a bit.

You really can’t ask for much more than healthy, hearty food shared with great friends, drinks, laughter, and the occasional dirty joke (maybe a bit too occasional around here).

Enjoy diving into these summery recipes and be on the lookout for some more gluten free meals in the near future!

Chardonnay Way

I’m not a white wine drinker.  I’m just not.  I prefer the rich, robust flavors of Merlots and Cabernets to the sweeter, drier tastes of whites.  With that said, I do have to compliment JL Giguiere of Dunningan Hills for today’s wonderful white wine.  Check it out:

 

Dunnigan Hills: Match Book

Type: Chardonnay

Vintage: 2009

First thoughts: smells fruity and sweet. Not what we were expecting!

The flavor sits in the front of the mouth for a bit.

Almost syrupy.

Tastes of apricot.

Final thoughts: Sweet, but not too sweet.

Overload of fruit flavors.  Hard to detect what you’re tasting.

Satisfying, but not an immediate “buy-again” bottle.  One of the better white’s we’ve had, though.

So, if you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive bottle of wine to accompany the Tilapia with Mango Salsa you’re having for dinner, this bottle is a perfect match.  If you’re looking for a wine to savor and appreciate, try looking elsewhere first.

Until next time, godetevi il vostro vino!

Water Worries

The thunder and lightning rolled in around 2am last night.  The booming rumbles of thunder shook the house and startled me awake.  The flashes of lightning filled the sky with a blue haze.  On and on it went for over an hour.  7:30 am and it’s back.  The thunder, the lightning, the rain.  Then back again at 9…and 10…  I love thunderstorms.  No, really, I do.  The thunderous booms, the bright streaks of light, the ting-ting-ting of the pouring rain on the roof – it’s exciting and beautiful, wrapped in one package.  But today?  I’m not such a fan.  Today, the storm decided to play quite a nasty trick on us.  I’m thinking the storm plotted like this: “Ha ha ha”, he thought, “May 29th?  Sounds like a day of trickery to me!  What can I do… Aha!  Water…they can stand to be dirty, stinky, messy kids for a day or two, right? I can’t wait to see how this one plays out!” 

Yeah, not so funny Mr. Lightning.  Not so funny at all.  The pile of meat stained dishes from last night?  Sitting on the counter, unable to be washed.  The heaping pile of clothes that need washing?  No way, not happening today.  The toilets that need flushing?  Guess we’ll be taking our bathroom business elsewhere (though Brandon G. suggests we all just stick our bums out the window… ’cause, you know, the neighbors will really appreciate that view). 

No running water really is a tedious event.  Until today, I never realized how often I turned on the faucet – brushing teeth, washing hands, cooking, filling the Keurig, watering plants, drinking, and the list goes on. 

So, with today’s shortage of water (and the 88 degree temps and high humidity), I’m going to hold off on baking.  We may or may not be having fennel garlic roasted chicken breast with rosemary and thyme roasted fingerlings tonight… be ready for that update in the near future.  

Stay safe in the storms!

 

Bogle Blunder

Happy Hump Day!  I FINALLY remembered my wine for Wednesday. I know, you’re all so excited, right?  Ha. There is wine, but there is still no camera.  So, as soon as I can connect my camera to my computer, I’ll update with a label pic.  Until then, you’ll just have to deal (I’ve spoken one too many “I’m sorry” ‘s already this week, so…I’m being blunt, and I’m not sorry.  But, really, I am :/ ).

Today’s delicious wine:

Bogle Vineyards

Type: Cabernet Sauvignon

Vintage: 2009

Dustin and I are big fans of Bogle’s 2007 Merlot and Cabernet.  BIG fans.  So, unable to find a 2007, we opted for the 2009, and a Cabernet rather than a Merlot.  We were not impressed.  The high alcohol content didn’t match the medium/light-bodied feel.  The wine was overly acidic and tasted overwhelmingly of plum.

First thoughts: vinegary and tart. Umm…I think I’ll take another sip.

Lacking mouthfeel.  Light to medium body.  Unexpected, in a not-so-good way.

Final thoughts: Not a great wine.  Next time, I’ll spend the extra on a 2007 if it’s available.  If not, I’ll opt for a different wine.

Keep in mind, this is the 2009 Cabernet, not the Merlot.  I’ve had the ’09 Merlot and have only good memories.  Maybe I dived into that bottle a little too much to remember its true qualities… that’s another wine for another Wednesday.

A sneak peak into next week: A Wonderful White

Be. Excited.

Until then, godetevi il vostro vino!

Update

A quick update:

My page has changed around again.  I know.  Forgive me?  You’ll just have to bear with me… I’m still new to this blogging thing.  I’m slowly figuring out the basics of html coding and the finer details of WordPress, but after today, things are beginning to look how I want them to.  I do apologize, though, for the many theme changes and broken links.  We should be all set for a little while now. 

What a relief. 

Be excited for Wednesday Wines! I WILL be posting tomorrow…I promise.  

Also, be on the look-out for a new pork recipe coming soon.  I’m thinking Hawaiian Pork, yum!

Peace,

The Tootsaroni