Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pecan-Crusted Dijon Salmon


I've got another great recipe I wanted to share, so I hope y'all don't mind two recipes in a row...ok, good.

When I plan out our dinner menu each week, one constant in the rotation is salmon. This superfish is extremely high in Omega-3s, along with providing many other nutritional benefits, which is why I try and serve it so often. However since it does have a fairly strong fishy flavor, my challenge is always trying to find different ways to prepare it as Cameron someone gets really tired of having salmon. every. single. week.

That's why I was thrilled to come across this recipe over at Allrecipes.com, as it's a really tasty and easy way to cook salmon. I made a few minor changes to the recipe and I also scaled it down to serve two people instead of four. Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
  • 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped pecans (depending on how pecan-y you want it)
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 2 (4 ounce) fillets salmon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).               

    In a small bowl, stir together butter, mustard, and honey. Set aside. In another bowl, mix together bread crumbs, pecans, and dill.               

    Brush each salmon fillet lightly with honey mustard mixture, and sprinkle the tops of the fillets with the bread crumb mixture.

    Bake salmon 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until it flakes easily with a fork. Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with a wedge of lemon (optional).  

    *Recipe Source: Baked Dijon Salmon, Allrecipes.com            


    I didn't get a chance to take photos while making this recipe (mainly because I was hungry and didn't want to take the time!), but the recipe is very simple and straightforward. I thought it was very flavorful and the pecans give it some nice texture. Give it a try and let me know what you think! xoxo

    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Banana Bread

    One of my major pet peeves is buying food, not using it in time, having it go bad, and basically throwing money in the garbage. However, my exception to this rule is bananas because when they start to spoil it gives me the perfect excuse to make banana bread!


    Last week I had a few bananas that were starting to turn brown, so I used them to whip up a loaf of my favorite banana bread, and I wanted to share the recipe because it's one of my favorites. It's fairly simple, yet it seems to come out moist and delicious every time I make it. Here's what you'll need:


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • Now I suppose you could also put some chopped nuts in the mix, but since I personally dislike nuts in my baked goods, I prefer the recipe as is. Here's what you'll need to do:

    Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.

    Cream the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

    In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Mix in the milk and cinnamon. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

    Add the banana mixture to the creamed mixture and stir until combined. Add dry ingredients, mixing just until flour disappears. It should looks something like this:


    Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove bread from pan, invert onto rack and cool completely before slicing. Perfect for savoring with a cup of coffee...enjoy! :)


    (Also, mine came out a tiny bit darker then I'd have liked...don't judge, it was still delish!)


    *Recipe Source: M.S. Milliken & S. Feniger, c.1996 via FoodNetwork.com

    I ♥ Running...(and I have a new job?)

    (Source)
    Ok, so that first part of the post title is a lie, and the second part is true. I wouldn't say I love running. But there are things that I like about it, so that's what motivates me to keep coming back to it after periods away. One of those motivators is that my new job makes it very convenient for me to fit it in my schedule...that's right, I have another new job!

    If you've been reading my blog, you know my hubby's career has us moving around the country right now, and so while we're in Colorado, I decided that it would be best to pursue a few different part-time opportunties rather then just dive back in to another full-time job. I feel like I've got a million different ideas in my head of things I'm interested in or would like to pursue for a potential career. However, in the meantime I've had these part-time projects fall in to my lap, so that's what I'm doing for the time being. I am still working at the travel store two days a week, but my new job is working with another company in Boulder that manufactures instrumentation for solar panels. Sounds riveting right? I know, not really (at all). However, they need some additional sales and marketing support for the next few months, and the things they need help on are extremely similar to what I did for the biotech company I worked for back in Ann Arbor, Michigan. So I'm going to be working with them the other three days out of the week that I'm not at the travel store. Aka I'm back to working full-time...which is a good thing for me...for right now...because as much as I love starting at Lola, that pays me $0/hr, and I'd really rather be out doing something than just sitting at home!

    So while I won't bore you with the details of what I'm doing at work, what's great about my new company is that they are very accepting of their employees need to stay active, and it's totally acceptable to workout during your lunch hour. The office sits right near a bunch of beautiful running trails, and so I've gone running (or running/walking...it's actually really hot in Colorado this week!) at lunch every day this week (well, I haven't gone today yet but I'm going to)!  It's great to get up and move around in the middle of the day, and there's even a shower in the bathroom at the office which makes it super convenient. I still haven't joined a gym here in Colorado and I've been doing a combination of yoga, weights and light cardio at my apartment gym, hiking, and running (very sporadically) to stay active. However, I've decided that it's time to change things up and make running a bigger part my routine for the next few months. I'm still planning on continuing to cross-train with other activities, however, I'd really like to consistently run at least 3 days a week.

    In order to stick to this fall commitment, I decided to sign up for a race! Woo! Earlier this week I signed up for the Longmont Turkey Trot 10K, which takes place in mid-November. I'd ultimately like to do a half-marathon or marathon one day, however, I know that right now I just don't have the time. I thought that a 10K would be a good distance to start with to challenge myself (the farthest I've ever raced has been a 5K), but not get too overwhelmed. So I'm announcing it to you, all my friends in the blogosphere, in order to hold myself accountable and I'm actually really excited about having a goal to train for!

    I plan on hopefully writing some running related posts in the weeks to come, and I'll be sure to keep y'all updated on my progress. I hope everyone is having a great Wednesday, and stayed tuned for a yummy recipe coming up later today :)

    Tuesday, September 27, 2011

    Home is...

    ...your parents buying you candy corn because they knows it's your favorite and then eating so much of it that you think you're going to throw up. (I do it every year, that stuff is disgustingly addictive/I have no self control)


    ...reminiscing with my college girlfriends (and Tyler...haha).



    ...maize and blue.


    ...Saturday afternoon in the Big House.





    ...cheering on our Wolverines.



    ...Hail to the Victors!


    ...the spot where we got engaged 3 years ago (seriously cannot believe it's been that long!)


    ...crisp fall mornings at the cider mill aka the one of the best things about fall in Michigan :)







    ...delicious cider & donuts.


    ...eating way too many sweets...in addition to the aforementioned candy corn and donuts.


    ...getting to visit with one my besties and her bf.



    ...and of course spending time with my wonderful family! :)




    That was pretty much our weekend in Michigan in a nutshell...it was a great visit, but as always, too short! Since we couldn't bring our camera into Michigan Stadium (no cameras with detachable lenses allowed, booo), we just left it at home and so all these pics were taken from my cell phone (hence their just ok quality). This weekend was a perfect way to officially kick-off fall, and I'm definitely in full-on autumn mode now! (Eating your body weight in candy corn will do that to you) xoxo

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    In the Pink and GREEN

    Happy Monday everyone! Hope y'all had a fabulous weekend :) I'm currently at the airport in Michigan getting ready to head back to Colorado. Cam and I flew in for the weekend to spend time with my family and go to a Michigan football game (another win for Big Blue, yay!) and we had a GREAT weekend. I'll definitely have photos to share later this week, but before I do that I wanted to get around to putting up a post about something that we did LAST weekend...(because I meant to put it up Friday, but ran out of time!)

    Last Sunday, Cam and I attended an event in Fort Collins, CO called The Sustainable Living Fair. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but it ended up being fairly interesting and inspiring. For those of you new to my blog, part of the reason that I named it what I did was because in addition to chronicling my baking, traveling, shopping, etc., I also wanted to try to attempt to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. When Cam and I first got married, this was actually an issue that caused a surprising amount of friction between us. He's from Oregon and wanted everything we bought/did to be as environmentally responsible as possible...and it's not that I don't, it's just that I'm from the Midwest and a lot of it was just a new way of thinking to me so I responded with resentment and we had a lot of squabbles over little household issues. But I decided that rather than just fight everything he was proposing, I should try to educate myself a little bit more and embrace some of these green ways, and I was hoping to use this blog to help document that journey.



    Cut to now--we live in Colorado where EVERYONE is super eco-conscious, and I've become much more aware of how many more sustainable choices are available if you're willing to look. However, the blog is definitely a lot more "Pink" than "Green" as I rarely talk about these issues as baking, shopping, and beauty products tend to be more at the front of my mind. However, I decided that today would be the perfect time to touch on it, and it's a topic I'm hoping to talk about more frequently in the weeks to come.


    So back to the Sustainable Living Fair...this sign basically sums up what the event was about:


    There were a lot of different vendor booths that centered around these topics, so everything from solar panel manufacturers to wildlife refuges to yoga studios. It was very interesting to walk around and see all of the different companies and organizations that are truly interested in putting this idea of sustainability into practice. A picture is worth a thousand words, so here's a better idea of what the event was like:

    Preferred method of transportation to get to the fair
    The event was powered by a variety of renewable energy sources including solar power!
    There were a variety of hands-on workshops, such as this one on straw bale construction. Straw bale construction is a great way to provide insulation for a home using a renewable material.
    Speaking of homes, this is a Yurt. It's a type of dwelling that people have lived in for hundreds of years around the world, but today you can purchase a more modern version that offers you a shelter with an extremely light carbon footprint. You can check out Colorado Yurt Company for lots of great info about this unique type of housing!
    There was a company there that retrofits old cars and motorcyles with batteries to make them completely electric.
    Cam loved that obviously...
    Cute alpacas
    This breastfeeding tent made me chuckle
    Some of the many booths--notice the Chevy Volt in the left hand corner--yay!

    
    Two of the big FoCo breweries, New Belgium and Odell, participated in the event as well :)
    In addition to the booths at the fair, they had a different speakers and performances going on as well. We were able to hear Shannon Hayes, one of the keynote speakers, give her speech and it was actually very interesting. While I don't really know a ton about her (so I can't claim to endorse all her views), I really enjoyed the speech that she gave and agreed with a lot of what she had to say. Apparently she has written a book called Radical Homemakers, so a lot of her talk centered around what that idea means. She discussed how the Industrial Revolution really put this separation between "producers" and "consumers" and created this idea that the physical work of producing something was better off abandoned in favor of an office job where you can get a paycheck and buy things made by someone else. She talked about our rich history of domesticity in the United States where the home was not simply a woman's domain, but rather a sphere men and women contributed together producing things their family needed. She said that's really the reason that the American Revolution and how when colonists didn't need British goods to survive anymore they were able to declare their independence. She talked about how the Founding Fathers, while great thinkers and statesmen, could produce something whether they were silversmiths, farmers, or whatever, they all had hands on skills in addition to developed minds. She kind of led up to the fact that one reason everyone is so freaked out about the economy and jobs right now is that the majority of people in our generation really need their paychecks to survive because they don't have any idea how to grow food, raise animals, or possess any other types of survival skills. I realize this sounds a little extreme, but she really wasn't a total nut, and a lot of what she said made good sense. She expressed that she understands that it doesn't make sense for everyone to quit their job and farm (nor would that be a good idea), she was just trying to explain some of the great benefits that can be gained from freeing ourselves from the stress of an overly consumerist culture. Food for thought. Here are some of the photos from her talk:



    Overall, it was an thought-provoking afternoon and I'm hoping that I can continue to find was to make my life (and blog!) a little bit greener :)

    Alrighty, I'm about to board my plane back to Colorado, then it's straight to work, and then we get to go pick up our pup! As much as I love to travel and see my family, I am always so excited to see Lola when I get back...Have a great Monday everyone! xoxo

    Thursday, September 22, 2011

    Book Review: Secret Daughter (SO good!)


    I have a seriously AMAZING read to share with y'all, perfect for curling up on the couch with a cup of tea (or glass of wine...just sayin') and just losing yourself in the story. The book is called Secret Daughter and it's written by Shilpi Somaya Gowda; I heard about it over on one of my most favorite blogs Eat Live Run (the lovely Jenna does tons of book reviews and she highly recommended this one) and I was very intrigued by the description. The story follows two families; one lives in India and they give a baby girl up for adoption, while the other family lives in San Francisco and they adopt the baby. Much of the story takes place in India, and it was fascinating reading about how different it is from the United States. I love books like this where two story lines weave together and the author does a fantastic job switching back and forth to keep you engaged. I think what I loved most about the story is that it had really wonderful character development; everyone is very complex and real, and I found my feelings towards certain characters surprisingly shift throughout the story. I feel like this is a book that is easy reading like a chick lit beach novel, but it's definitely a little heavier in terms of the subject matter in a good way. I'd highly recommend it! :)

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