Sunday, 19 October 2014

Will Run For Smoky Butternut Squash Bisque

As a rule I find it pretty hard to get excited about pureed vegetables especially butternut squash.  Peeling the squash and then roasting is way more work than I am willing to invest for squash soup.  Who knew that you could just cut the squash in half, roast it and then throw it in the blender?  Imagine.

Smoky Butternut Squash Bisque 
(or blender squash soup)

1 medium to large butternut squash
4-5 cups vegetable stock
1 cooking onion (or 2-3 leeks)
1 T butter ( coconut oil works too)
dash liquid hickory smoke
1/2-1 C canned white beans or chickpeas

Cut your squash in half and roast at 425 degrees for approximately 1 hr.  That's it. Just cut it in half and place it on a baking stone.  No cursing the squash as you try to peel it and cube it.  In the mean time heat 1 T of butter in a frying pan, add 1 chopped cooking onion and saute until really brown and crispy (the more brown and crisp the more flavourful your soup will be).  Spoon your cooked squash into your blender (minus the seeds and skin obviously), add vegetable stock, and browned onion.  Blend on high  until smooth.  Add several drops of hickory smoke (note: a little goes a LONG way!  My favourite way to ruin a pot of soup is to pour way too much liquid smoke directly into the pot until it tastes like a piece of charcoal) and blend some more.  If you want some added protein add canned white beans or chickpeas and puree a little longer.  If you are feeling fancy add some grilled cheese croutons and/or coconut bacon.   

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Will Cycle for Clipless Peddles & Collard Salad With Creamy Avocado Dressing, Beets, and Toasted Walnuts

"Big girl" peddles (or clipless peddles as some silly cyclists like to call them) scare me.  I should mention that I've just mastered (and by mastered I really mean riding Mary Poppins style at a snail's pace and occasionally changing gears) riding my road bike.  I have always wondered why anyone would want to careen down a hill with their feet stuck to their bike (or drive slowly on a flat, straight, road with no traffic for that matter).

After two years of being a ridiculously slow cyclist I decided it was time to give clipless peddles a try.  Plus everyone in our spandex bike gang (from ages 30 to 67) that I cycle with have clipless peddles.  So after listening to some advice at the bike shop (don't stop peddling!), watching countless youtube videos, and getting a pep talk or two I headed out to the lawn with my bike (pretty sure my neighbours think that I am crazy).  Naturally I fell when I was moving at a speed of about zero kilometres and my left foot wouldn't unclip from my peddle.  There I was spandex clad, lying on my lawn attached to my bike.  Awesome.

I left my regular peddles at the bike shop so I really had no choice but to figure it out especially since I had a cycling date with a friend the next morning.  After some more lawn practice I graduated to the road without incident and survived cycling at our local cycling track (despite the idiots people who think that a cycling track is a great place to bring their unleashed dogs).

In the end I would have to say that it was totally worth the bruised ego.  Clipless peddles are actually kind of fun and based on my first ride they make it much easier to cycle up hill and require less effort than my ordinary peddles.  Am I any faster?  That's yet to be seen.

What does all this have to do with collards or creamy avocado dressing?  Collard party after your first clipless ride?

Collard Salad With Creamy Avocado Dressing, Beets, &  Toasted Walnuts
(serves 2-4)

1 bunch collards stems removed torn into bite sized pieces
  1/2 C toasted walnuts
1 small beet (thinly sliced.  I used the mandolin)
1 small green apple (thinly sliced)
1/4 C crumbled feta (optional)
1-3 T hemp hearts (optional)

(1-1 1/4 C)
2 small ripe  avocados mashed
1 tsp maple syrup
1 T white balsamic vinegar
1 T lime juice
3 T Vega Antioxidant Oil Blend  ( or use olive oil)

You can combine dressing ingredients in a blender or if you are like me and like to avoid hauling out kitchen gadgets simply mash the avocado in a small bowl. Add maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, lime juice and oil.  Mash until smooth.

This salad is best served immediately after it is prepared (not that I don't hoard it and eat it for days).

fancy shoes

Friday, 11 July 2014

Chickpea Coconut Milk Curry

curry in a hurry

Even though I have been falling in love with triathlon all over again (sprint distance versus half-iron distance kind of does that for me) I needed the motivation fairy to pay me a visit today.  It was my lucky day as she did indeed show up with her workout gear sneakily incorporated into her business casual attire ( I love this about her). 

Really good friends show up on your doorstep when you need them.  They drag you out to the lake at 6 am even though swimming is their least favourite sport and you swim far too close to them because you are terrified of just about everything in the lake (as an aside my wetsuit cord no longer sends me into hysterics when I feel it brush up against me in the water.  I feel like this is progress).  They save you from lake monsters (a.k.a turtles, ducks, geese, weeds, shadows).  They run with you even though they have 117 great reasons why you should bike or swim or drink coffee instead.  

This chickpea coconut curry recipe is kind of like a really good friend.  You can whip it up in less than 20 minutes when you need to eat right now.  You can add cubed white or sweet potatoes, vegetables such as green beans or peas, etc. depending on what you can rustle up in your cupboards.

The recipe serves 4 or in my case the recipe serves me breakfast, lunch, supper, and pre-workout snack (maybe not my best idea yet).  Enjoy!

Chickpea Coconut Milk Curry

(serves 4)


1 T olive oil
1/2 large sweet onion diced
1 1/2 inch ginger nub minced
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 tsp cilantro and lemongrass paste 
14 oz of crushed tomatoes
1 5.6 oz can of full fat coconut milk
1-2 T mild curry paste (I used Patak's brand)
1 can chickpeas rinsed and drained (nobody likes bean slime)

how to

In a large frying pan warm 1 T of olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and saute until translucent (about 5 minutes).  Add garlic and ginger and saute for 1-2 minutes longer.  Add coconut milk and crushed tomatoes.  Stir until combined.  Add cilantro, lemongrass and curry paste.  Simmer on low for approximately five minutes.  Add chickpeas.  Serve over rice.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Will Run For Roasted Vegetable, Smashed Avocado & Mascarpone Sandwich

Eat more fancy sandwiches.

We have been loving life over here for the last couple of weeks.
Happiness is....

We have also been loving anything that is quick and easy and doesn't really require a recipe.  Roast your vegetables, add some cheese & avocado, spread them over your favourite type of bread add your favourite drink and you are all set.

Roasted Vegetable, Smashed Avocado & Mascarpone Sandwich

(serves 2-3)


1 baguette
1 red pepper thinly sliced
1 yellow pepper thinly sliced
1-2 C fresh mushrooms thinly sliced
1/2 sweet onion thinly sliced
1 sweet potato peeled & thinly sliced
1 large beet peeled & thinly sliced
1 avocado smashed
2-3 T olive oil
*mascarpone cheese
cilantro (optional)
hot sauce (optional)
pickled radishes (optional)

Thinly slice all vegetables (I used my mandoline for the sweet potato & beet).  Toss vegetables with olive oil and place on baking stone.  Bake at 450 for approximately 30 minutes stirring every 10 minutes.  While waiting mash the avocado & mix with fresh cilantro if you wish.  Spread the mascarpone & avocado on your baguette, top with roasted vegetables, and garnish with hot sauce and pickled radishes.

* It is worth splurging for the mascarpone cheese.  If you were thinking of substituting cream cheese you might want to ask yourself if you would choose homemade belgium waffles topped with whip cream and fresh fruit or if you would choose Ego waffles.  It's kind of the same thing.

Yes. Please.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Will Run For Goat Cheese & Pecan Stuffed Pears

I remember when running 5K seemed like a treat.  A short run.  A rest day.   Easy peasy, lemon squeezy (I hang out with 8 year olds all day. Give me a break).

  Somewhere between that time and finishing my first half-ironman, suddenly losing my mom, surviving what seemed like 8 months of winter and adding two new dogs to our family 5K began to require more motivation that I had most days. 

5K still feels like quite the feat some days but lucky for me I have some friends who have some motivation to spare (or at least they are willing to fake it) and I have a four dog relay team who is more than happy to take turns running with me(I'm convinced that running with all four at the same time would lead to certain death.  At least at this point). 

6K Relay Team

Meet Lenore (bulldog).  Technically we rescued her from the pound.  Really she rescued us.  She likes to wear running t-shirts, hang out in the bathtub when nobody is looking and much to our chagrin she occasionally likes to stand on the kitchen table.  She also likes to launch herself in front of you when running.  2K is her distance of choice.

Ms. Lenore formerly Miss Piggy

Meet Hank (black bouvier).  Hank is the ideal running partner.  He gladly runs along side of you at just the right speed...until he sees something scary then it's every woman for themselves.

Poor hungry Hank.

Meet Jackson (German Shepherd).  Jackson is my inheritance dog.  He loves sports detection, agility, and playing fetch.  Jackson begins each run like he is chasing a cat.  If you are looking for a buddy to do a tempo run with he is your boy.  If not, hold on tight!

Hank Jackson Brown
Then there is Jeb (Blond Bouvier often mistaken for a Doodle).  Running isn't really Jeb's thing unless it is on his terms (like most things in his life).  He likes to pretend like his legs are broken for most of the run until he thinks we are close to home.  Then he likes to gallop.  He also likes to tug at his leash and pretend he is a bucking bronco for the first five minutes of every run.

Tired boy
Goat Cheese & Pecan Stuffed Pears

Post run snack.
(serves 1)


1 pear (cored)
2 T light goat cheese
1T pecans (chopped)
white balsamic vinegar (optional)

Core pear (totally worth investing in an apple corer). Slice into four sections.  Divide goat cheese amongst four slices.  Press chopped pecans into goat cheese.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar if you are feeling adventurous.

Enjoy four tired dogs laying at your feet. 

Best Friends Forever

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Will Run For Pomegranate, Kale & Quinoa Salad

pomegranate, kale & quinoa salad.

Lessons that I've learned this week.  Don't casually tell people that you have a "quivery liver".  They become alarmed.  Similarly, don't tell people that you are having liver salad.  They become disgusted (unless they are my grandmother and think liver and onions are just the greatest thing).

  After a trip to the emergency room a few weeks ago and some blood work it seems that my liver isn't quite itself.  My doctor isn't quite sure why.  So until my next doctor's appointment I decided to self diagnose (with the help of google): "quivery liver". Treatment: eat lots of kale and other liver friendly foods such as beets, blueberries, etc..

Even if you aren't a kale lover this salad is worth a try because who doesn't love blueberries, pomegranate, pepitas, hemp hearts, beets, balsamic vinegar & maple syrup.  Yum!

(serves 4-6 kale lovers)

1 bunch dinosaur kale (chopped into small pieces...think Edward Scissor Hands)
1/2 C chopped fresh parsley
2 small beets shredded
1 C fresh blueberries
1 1/2 C pomegranate seeds
2 C cooked red and white quinoa (any colour will do)
1/4 C toasted pepitas
2 T hemp hearts

Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. 


1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C white balsamic vinegar
1T maple syrup

Whisk all dressing ingredients together and drizzle over kale salad.  The longer the salad sits the more delicious it becomes. 

Cuddle break for Lenore & Jeb

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Will Run For Mrs. Kirk's Spice Layer Cake

Spice Cake

I am not a big fan of winter.  I live in Northern Ontario.  This is a problem. 

 It shouldn't be a surprise that our winters are long, cold, and full of snow (and I curse the people who complain about this even though I am one of them.  I am a jerk.)  But sometimes I can't help but take it personally.  Doesn't the universe know that day after day of indoor recess wears on a person?  Doesn't she know that four dogs who haven't gone for a walk in days is a little much to handle (even if one is named Lenore and is the cutest bulldogge that you ever did see)?

So what do you when you have had enough of winter and it's Friday night and your report cards were due on Wednesday and you haven't even started writing them?  You bake a 5 layer cake.  Your Granny's mother's cake.

Spice Cake

Two 6 inch pans (or alternatively use two 8 inch pans and adjust cooking time)

Prepare pans by greasing and then lining with waxed paper.  Preheat oven to 350 F.

2 1/4 C unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
* sift all dry ingredients together then add spices.

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp dried ginger
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice

Cream 2/3C butter
Beat in 1 3/4C white sugar
 Add three eggs and
1 tsp vanilla bean paste until mixture is light and fluffy.

Add 1 1/3 C milk to creamed mixture and then add wet ingredients to dry.  

Pour approximately 2C of batter in each pan (this will fill 2 1/2 six inch cake pans).  Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until cake springs up when touched.  Allow cake to cool thoroughly before icing.

Vanilla Butter Frosting

3 C powdered sugar
1/3 C butter (softened)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/8 tsp cinnamon
2-3 T milk

Mix sugar, cinnamon and butter.  Stir in vanilla and milk.  Mix until a smooth spreadable consistency is reached.  Line cake plate with wax paper.  Place first layer of cake top down (in theory this will keep you from having a weird dome shaped theory).  Start icing from the inside out always making sure to have plenty of icing on your spatula otherwise you'll be fighting with crumbs.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar if you wish.  Let it sit and then tackle taking the wax paper off of the plate.

* I made 1 1/2 batches of the icing recipe for the 5 layer cake but it makes more than enough icing for a double layer cake.

Enjoy in the middle of February with someone you love.

lovely layers
How I feel about winter