There have been many crickets chirping on this blog since I last posted, we have lots of catching up to do in the coming year.
But for now, I’m just gonna leave this here because, well, this Mulled Jalapeno Wine thing has become a THING! Which is honestly quite thrilling for me because it all started as a little Crystal recipe I made because it sounded good to me on a crisp Fall day in 2014. I was probably deep into the one-year-old chasing and three-year-old sassing phase. What kind of winemaker’s wife would I be if I didn’t use that experience to craft a warm cocktail recipe we could some day turn into a product itself? A lazy one!
So fast-forward to present day and here you have it folks – the Mulled Jalapeno Wine that started in our kitchen and is now selling out at the Saturday markets faster than I can make it.
There’s cinnamon, there’s clove, there’s star anise (it’s completely ok if you have no idea what that last item is). There’s apple cider, there’s dry white wine, and there’s – you guessed it – jalapeno wine. Stir a spoonful of honey in there and call it a season, friends. I hope yours is served warm with minimal whining from your in-laws…
The me who is now dodging footballs thrown by a four-year-old, making school lunches for a first grader, keeping up with clients in the studio and diligently organizing the chaos involved with opening a tasting room. (Remember how I mentioned we have some catching up to do?) Let’s do that soon…
(Psst – If you’re local you can find us and this mulled wine situation at the Indoor Farmer’s Market at 8th & Fulton in downtown Boise every Saturday until Dec. 23rd [9am – 2pm], as well as at the Capital City Holiday Market on the Grove every Saturday until Dec. 16th [10:30am – 2:30pm].)
“I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know where I’ve been.”
Pretty much, and I’m completely sober.
Oh, summer. You and your childish dreams of sitting in the sun all day, your optimistic adventures and restful face looking at me like I’m a traitor. “Spend more time with me,” you say. Truth is, you’re not loyal enough for me. You come in like a knight on a wine truck and captivate me with stories of your past. Then you’re gone, gone, gone. And I’m left here disinfecting the kiddie pool and questioning why I ever thought you’d stick around in the first place.
Am I right or am I right? Here we go, August. Here we go, kindergarten. Here we go, carnies at the state fair. Here we go, jalapeno pepper harvest and the procuring of grape blocks in the vineyards. Cheers to this month and all the transition in our veins. I’m back on the blog and celebrating with an installment of “The Tuesday Tank!”
~We don’t need more time, we need a damn compound.
The kids are at grandma’s house this week. I have four days to get “everything” done I need to get done. BALONEY! I will not get it all done. My winemaker and I will probably not get to go to a movie or see friends we rarely see. Why? Because this: You Don’t Need More Free Time.
So, parents, let us stop feeding ourselves the lie that we’d get more done/see our friends/family more if we weren’t parents. And non-parents, you’re totally guilty of your equivalent lies. There’s a reason compounds exist and perhaps those people have it all figured out. Or perhaps we should just keep the wine rack stocked and continue on…
~’Tis the season for youth sports and Red 40 food coloring!
I’m all about all things in moderation. I’m also all about maybe not having to hear “Mom I pooped green!” If you have a child in sports you may be interested in making your own hydration solution. If so, read how to make Homemade Gatorade Concentrate. Or maybe you love green poop, hell if I know. Who am I to give a child limits?
~Hello, my name is Crystal and I put snail mucus on my face.
Korean skin care is kind of a thing and it’s kind of addicting. As someone who isn’t exactly old and isn’t exactly 20-something (unless ACDC comes on….ohhhh watch OUT world!), I’m definitely into skin care these days and probably for the rest of the days. I’m also into knowing what’s in the stuff that goes on my face. Enter: Here’s How to Find ‘Safe’ and ‘Natural’ Korean Beauty Products.
Psst: Secure yourself a sheet mask and wear it like you just don’t care.
~Someone stole my book idea. No really.
I’ve always wanted to write a book about the different paths our lives could take if we made just one decision differently. The genius Laura Barnett beat me to it, rats! Guess that’s what happens when you don’t actually ever write a book. The Versions of Us is currently open on my Kindle and I’m digging the three different versions of this story. Now…I wonder what turn my life would have taken if my winemaker hadn’t fixed my wine bottle opener when we were just beginning to date…
~I hate shopping. Please somebody, give me the highlights.
Say what you want about Trader Joe’s, there are some sweet finds there. Every three months or so I stock up on a few frozen items just to have on-hand for those crazy evenings when you have no time to prep a meal but you also have no desire to eat out. This list of 10 Things I Buy from Trader Joe’s for No-Cook Dinners was supposed to find you and me. See also my favorite quick-cooking steel cut oats from Trader Joe’s, listed in a previous “Tuesday Tank” installment here.
~I know you probably know how to cook your fruits and vegetables but Yours Truly just did this in the oven for the first time and you’re gonna hear about it.
Roasted tomatoes should be a food group. Typically we grill tomatoes in the summer or eat them raw (or on cucumber/tomato sandwiches) but I wanted that quasi-crispy, slightly-sweet taste you can only get from a roasted tomato. Turns out all I needed was to squeeze some serious seeds to get it. This recipe is perfection, even on a Monday night. Especially on a Monday night.
Thanks for playing with me, happy Tuesday-trudging!
Christmas shopping: Check. Workout: Check. Workout other people: Check. Ship wine to wonderful customers: Check. Drink wine in my pajamas while wrapping presents: Check. Share new cocktail recipe: Check!
This is the stuff that matters, friends: Cocktails and wine. And personal hygiene.
My winemaker and I wanted to come up with a new Jalapeno Wine cocktail recipe to share in time for cheers’ing the New Year. Last weekend a star was born! For now I’m calling it a Jalapeno Wine & Ginger Cocktail but I’m still searching for clever names. It’s very similar to a margarita made with ginger ale…if that margarita also were to incorporate Jalapeno Wine (which ours usually do around here, see this recipe on the website). A Potter Wines Ginger Margarita may make more sense but then it would lack the Jalapeno Wine kick-in-the-attention-span I want people to receive when reading/saying it. Folks, tip your mixologist well the next time you’re at a bar. For they know some of life’s biggest secrets like how to adequately name a cocktail.
I love the brightness of this drink. It’s got the right amount of spice and tequila, not too much sweetness and the ginger ale makes it fizzy and fun. You could probably also use ginger beer and get a similar result. We tried a local ginger cider the second time around and while it was also good, I preferred mine made with ginger ale to capture the Jalapeno Wine just right and deliver it to my taste buds in a way that made them say “Let’s keep doing this, team.”
In other news, the good people over at Chomps Snack Sticks sent me some samples of their 100% grass fed beef sticks (because protein gets kind of boring and I also asked nicely for them). I have that review for you at the end of this post so stay tuned if you’re a cocktail/wine lover who likes beef to go with your buzz. Or maybe just a high-protein snack to go with your New Year’s resolution.
Lime wedge and/or slice of jalapeno for garnish (optional)
(Optional: Chill two glasses in freezer 5-10 minutes ahead of time. We used martini glasses because we live recklessly and sometimes drink our margaritas in a martini glass.)
Place a fair amount of ice in a shaker. Add all ingredients and roll in your hand to mix. My winemaker shook it very briefly for me because he knows I’m odd and I loathe carbonation. I recommend you DON’T shake it up unless you too get puffy like a seagull on Alka-Seltzer when you drink carbonated beverages.
Strain into glasses.
If you’d like you can add ice. We found adding ice only dilutes the brightness of the drink, hence why we instead chill our glasses ahead of time and drank sans-rocks.
Happy New Year!
Chomp Snack Sticks Review
Here’s the thing with me: I believe in eating a high-protein diet (for most people, this is beneficial as well as a tried-and-true method for keeping pounds off). But if I’m being honest? Borrrringggg. I’m constantly changing up my protein sources because let’s face it – I’m a carb and cheese girl. So I have to get creative on how I get my protein in. Yes, protein powder helps. Which leads me back to above-mentioned snooze drill and the fact that I’m not going to recommend to all my clients that they shell out more money by buying protein powder around the clock. You can always find ways to eat more protein – so I hit up the people at Chomp.
It’s not like I’m a big beef stick fanatic but when I’m on the road, especially with my kids, I get super annoyed at all the gross food options I’m faced with. Same goes when we’re working a wine event and it’s 4-5 hours before we can eat. So usually my go-to is a pepperoni stick or jerky. Which means it’s great protein-wise but pathetic processed-wise. And the last time I “treated” all of us to a round of all-natural, store-bought jerky in the car (which I found at Target), I vowed to never do it again unless I was depressed that I hadn’t seen my gag reflex kick in for a while.
Chomp sent me their snack sticks in three different flavors: Original, Hoppin’ Jalapeno (uh, clearly they know their demographic), and Crankin’ Cran. Here’s the skinny:
Tasty. I pretty much inhaled the Original between clients at the studio and all thumbs pointed up. I think that’s the first time I’ve had a beef stick that didn’t break my teeth. Wayyyy better than that junk they sell at Jackson’s.
Nutritionally sound. These are the nutrition facts and list of ingredients. It’s pretty much like finding out there’s pirate treasure buried in your back yard.
Niche market. While I’m not a Paleo or Whole30 follower, I can appreciate where these guys are coming from. Kudos to them for diving into a market that needed some realistic options.
Grab and go, my friends. Grab and go.
Crisis aversion. Your 2 ½ year old is beginning to use his powers for evil because it’s been two minutes since he ate something. Lucky for you you’ve got a Chomps Snack Stick in your bag. Well done, parent. Proceed to curse at whomever coordinates traffic light patterns.
Whaaat?! There aren’t any sugars in here. There AREN’T ANY SUGARS! Perhaps other food manufacturers will catch on and we can all move on with our lives without added sugars in every product we consume. That’d be a Christmas miracle!
Price. Have you purchased a stick of (questionable) beef or jerky lately? A financial planner passes out every time a sale is made. And forget about turkey jerky. I purchased a bag for $6.99 once and there were three lousy pieces inside. No I mean it, they were really, really lousy. Chomps Snack Sticks are actually more reasonably priced considering you get more for your buck. A financial planner somewhere just got their wings.
Flavors. Um, Crankin’ Cran? Who does that to a beef stick?! And who pulls it off?! These guys. And the Hoppin’ Jalapeno flavor is a winner with the jalapeno-obsessed over here. What’s even better is these flavors don’t taste like fake beef with fake flavoring mixed in. They taste like…real food. Insanity.
Post workout snack. I’m usually ravenous after a workout and if I’m exercising at the studio it means I don’t have time for an entire meal before my next client. Which leads us back to that whole grab-and-go thing I mentioned above.
Spousal agreement. Even the hubby liked these. I asked him to sample the Hoppin’ Jalapeno since…well, it’s obvious seeing as he’s the Jalapeno Winemaker, isn’t it? “That’s good. It’s a lot better than any others I’ve tried. I’d give it a 4.5 out of 5.” (That means it’s pretty dang good.) “But there’s no jalapeno in this.” Which means there is definitely jalapeno in it but his taste buds are completely immune at this point.
That sodium thing. There is a little bit of added salt, likely for preservation purposes. Still, this beats the entire salt flat you’ll find in something like a Slim Jim. And if you’re on the road, sitting for hours in the car, we all know how much fun extra sodium adds to that experience.
Price. Notice I mentioned price as a Pro above. While these are definitely more reasonably priced than other natural options out there (and you do get more for your buck nutritionally), they’re still an extra cost for protein. With that said, if you find yourself grabbing protein bars or shakes anyway, I think this makes sense cost-wise as another option. Or if you find yourself over-eating (or under-eating) because you never eat enough protein to begin with, these are definitely worth the money.
If you’re intrigued and want to try them for yourself, go get ‘em at gochomps.com!
(This review was powered by BrandBacker, but all opinions and sarcasm are my own.)
“Hey self, how about we wrap up Month Three with a weekend in wine country?”
–“Yeah, that sounds more like it. Wait, will we still see results doing that?”
“Nope! But it’ll make us even more focused in Month Four.”
And that is how Yours Truly transitioned between Month Three and Month Four. If you remember from Month One, I am actually a month ahead of you on the plan, in order to be sure it’s going to work give you my honest approach. And honestly, the weekend in wine country was worth it. I’m not going to downplay it: The host at our bed and breakfast cooked up the scones of all scones, making carbs cease to exist in my serotonin-induced coma. I really was not ashamed – the food in Walla Walla was fresh, of practical proportions and everywhere we went menus boasted adorable words like “Our menu changes with the seasons and availability.” – Whitehouse Crawford. Go there. Tonight.
But on that following Monday morning there existed a more familiar reality and I was pinched awake from my red wine cloud by the reminder on my phone chiming: “Begin Get Fit for Maui: Month Four.” Gonna need some coffee.
But dang, those scones and that wine…
Let’s back up a bit though, because before all that there was Month Three in which I began running again after my little forced hiatus. Month Three is possibly the most crucial of the four because it is in Month Three that our loyalty to our body gets tested most. Sure, we can handle two months of lifestyle changes but can we handle three months of giving our bodies consistent, well-rounded exercise, nourishment and fuel that won’t make us sink to the deep end of the “I tried” pool? More importantly, can we then end Month Three with enough gusto to face Month Four? Yeah, we can. Because between goals is that swim meet called life we must participate in. So this month we take any set-backs we might have had in Month One and Two and let Month Three kick them out of the lap pool. For we are past the doggie paddling stage.
First and foremost: Keep up with the last two months’ tips – most importantly keep logging your food, watch your portion sizes, stop eating two hours before bed, continue to do more core work and keep lifting heavier. We’re going to get a bit more technical with these specific things in the next two months.
Get Fit in 4: Month Three
*Disclaimer: Please remember I’m giving you my plan for myself, which means you may have to tweak a few things if you’re already doing them/they don’t apply/you have an alternate method. I’ll give suggestions for options where I think they might be necessary but otherwise try to focus on keeping true to yourself and finding areas you can improve on that are similar to what I’m tackling in this guide. Also, this is meant to escalate in baby steps, meaning each month will become more focused, particularly the last month where I’ll be in small-detail mode. Oof!*
Chill out on the breads.
For me, this little rule isn’t so much about gluten-free or even the calories. It’s about the fact that my body feels heavy when I eat more bread than I’m used to eating or even just when I eat certain types of bread in any quantity. There are all kinds of theories about this out there and very valid ones at that (simply Google “bread and inflammation” and you’ll see what I mean). Without getting deep into the science of it right now I’m going to simply recommend that if you find your stomach instantly balloons after eating bread then…don’t. Or simply chill out on your consumption of it. I love carbs (see above scone rant) and as my last meal I would request the best breads and cheeses and vino be brought before me for my immediate consumption. But I don’t love the tired, weighed-down, inflamed feeling I sometimes get afterwards. Again, it varies depending on the bread and maybe it is a gluten thing, but I digress. I don’t believe in cutting out certain foods completely unless a person has an actual allergy or intolerance, mostly because personally I don’t do well with being told I cannot have something (Youngest Child Syndrome). So I limit myself instead and I’m encouraging you to do the same this month. This also applies to crackers and chips of all kinds. Unless they are homemade apple chips. In which case don’t mind me raiding your pantry…
Eat more cleansing foods.
This is not me telling you to put yourself on a cleanse. You likely won’t see that suggestion on this blog. I find the fastest and most efficient way to nourish myself while ensuring my system doesn’t feel bogged down is by consuming cleansing foods regularly. Luckily we’re in the perfect season for naturally cleansing produce right now: Tomatoes, all kinds of squash, apples, beets, carrots, cranberries, and Swiss chard. Others available all year round (at least in grocery stores) are avocados, lemons, berries and garlic. Now, whether you get your cleansing foods in by juicing/blending them or throwing them together in a hearty soup or other recipe, it’s all beneficial. Thanks to the chilly evenings that are only getting chillier, the soup’s on at my house. Most recently we devoured the below cleansing soup, but here’s a link to some more delicious, cleansing soups we put in regular rotation all year round. Also, eating these items raw or a few of them together in a salad is a great idea.
Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple Soup Recipe
3 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks (about 8 cups)
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 apples, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper
4 cups low sodium, organic chicken broth
½ tsp. curry powder (I actually used 1/4 tsp. paprika and 1/4 tsp. cayenne in lieu of curry powder, it gave the soup a kick of heat!)
Preheat oven to 425.
Divide squash, onions and apples in two rimmed baking sheets.
Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil over each tray of fruit and veggies and seasons with salt and pepper. Gently toss all the ingredients together until they all have a light coating of olive oil and seasonings.
Roast for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Once the ingredients cool to room temperature, put them in the blender (one tray at a time) and add two cups of chicken broth and ¼ tsp. curry powder or other seasonings. Blend for 30-60 seconds or until the soup is rich and creamy.
Pour into a large pot and repeat with the second tray. Listen to your kids scold you for being too loud. Warm the soup over a medium-high heat until heated through.
Adjust the seasonings and enjoy!
Makes 6 cups (4-6 servings)
Introduce interval training into your workout regimen.
If you’ve stuck to your guns and have been getting in more cardio these past couple months, now’s the time to shake it up again. I want you to introduce interval training into your sweat sessions. Interval training can be adapted for all kinds of exercise but generally speaking:
If you are walking/jogging/running/biking/rowing/using the elliptical – Begin pushing yourself faster for a set amount of time, say 2 minutes. Slow it back down to normal pace for 60 seconds. Repeat that combo until you’ve reached the end of your workout session. Each week, increase your faster intervals by time (try 3 minutes instead of 2). You can play with both the faster and slower interval lengths as much as you’d like but be sure to make it challenging every time. If speed isn’t your thing, you can also use the incline option for your harder interval bouts.
Another alternative: You can break your session up into segments – 5 minutes of walking followed by 5 minutes of jogging followed by 60 seconds of sprinting followed by 5 minutes of walking again, for example.
Remember how back in Month One you began logging your food? If you’re using an app such as My Fitness Pal or any food entry program that allows you to track your macronutrients (carbs/fat/protein), start paying attention to your protein intake. More specifically, make protein 30% of your diet. To put this another way, 30% of your daily calories should come from protein. This will be different for everyone depending on gender and goals, but for the intent of this post series I’m guiding you to hit that 30% mark. This means more chicken, turkey, fish, lean red meat if you’re a fan, eggs, Greek yogurt, etc. I currently aim to get 150 grams of protein every day. I don’t always hit that mark, but that’s not so much my concern as it is watching to be sure I’m getting enough protein to help recover, restore and rebuild muscle as well as to feel full longer. As far as the rest of my calories go, I aim for 40% to come from carbohydrates and 30% to come from fat. My Fitness Pal is super helpful to keep me on track…as long as I’m diligent about logging everything!
Believe me, I’m no angel when it comes to regularly logging my food but I consider it one of the top five most important things you can do to see progress. Remember the last time you conveniently didn’t count the half cookie you ate because your kid didn’t want it anymore? Been there.
That’s it for Month Three, but as you can see I think it’s enough to keep you on your toes. Comment below with how you’re doing, what helps you the most, or what you think is the most challenging about sticking with this whole situation!
I don’t know about you but when things get chaotic I turn to food. Not so much the eating of it, but definitely the making of it. I think we all have certain rituals that comfort us and mine seems to be concocting recipes. Specifically breakfast recipes.
Oh, I know what you’re thinking. You thought my comfort ritual was drinking wine. Well, that too.
While I’m not the world’s most enthusiastic morning person, I’ve learned to embrace the earliness and enjoy it for all that it stands for – a new day, a new start, no phone calls, no talking, hot coffee, and the calm before the “MomMomMomMomMom!” storm. So it’s only fitting that my favorite meal of the day be breakfast, since I truly believe that first nosh sets us all up for how our bodies run themselves the rest of the day. Yet even I get bored with breakfast, which is basically what happened here. Nutritional boredom + chaos of life = new recipes. It’s what I do!
The first recipe was inspired by busy mornings. The ones where we find ourselves rushing out the door 10 minutes late again and realizing we haven’t eaten yet. If you have all these ingredients ready you can throw this green smoothie together in a snap, pour it into a sealable drink container and blow that lemonade stand. (Ha, get it? We make jalapeno wine lemonade? Alright, nevermind.)
The second recipe was inspired by the farmers’ market we’re at every Saturday. Gathering up our produce and various other items from the farmers themselves every week makes me even more stoked about food. However you don’t need a farmers’ market to pull this one off. It’s about as easy as licking the wine drops off the bottle. But that’s still wayyyy more fun. Still, you’re gonna enjoy this one.
Here’s what we’re dealing with:
Blueberry Banana Coconut Green Smoothie
1/2 cup blueberries
1 banana (I prefer them frozen, as pictured above. You can freeze the entire banana with the peel on, nuke it for 15 seconds and then pull the peel off, or you can peel the banana and freeze it in slices.)
1 cup your choice of milk
Handful of spinach OR some basil, either fresh or frozen in cubes (I found mine at Trader Joe’s). If using fresh basil, all you need is a few leaves.
1 scoop vanilla protein powder OR 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt + 1 Tbsp honey (While it is convenient, I don’t use protein powder regularly so a container lasts me up to 6 months. I often use Greek yogurt if I have a little more time to spare.)
1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
3-4 ice cubes
Throw everything, except the coconut oil and honey if using, in a blender. 15 seconds into blending, add the coconut oil and/or honey and immediately blend for 30 more seconds. This keeps the coconut oil and/or honey from hardening back up with the ice cubes.
Spinach and Mushroom Scramble
(Makes about 2 servings)
3 large eggs or 6 egg whites, or any combination you prefer (I used 3 duck eggs, which are much larger than chicken eggs.)
Big handful (about 1 1/2 cups) fresh spinach
Your favorite mushrooms, about 3-5, sliced
Green onion, 1 or 2, chopped (optional)
1 Tbsp milk or water
1/4 cup of your favorite shredded cheese, or crumbled goat cheese (I’ve used both shredded mozzarella and fresh goat cheese in this recipe and I don’t have a favorite – they are both delicious.)
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp butter or cooking spray
In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, saute the spinach and mushrooms together in either butter or cooking spray. Stir occasionally for 4 to 5 minutes.
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs (or whites or combo of the two) and milk or water with a small amount of salt and pepper. Stir in the green onion.
Once the spinach is wilted and the mushrooms are lightly browned, pour the egg mixture into the pan.
Let the eggs do their thing for about 20 seconds, then begin scrambling once the edges start to set.
Using a spatula, push cooked portions of egg toward the middle of the pan, allowing the uncooked egg to flow out to the hot surface. When the eggs are almost completely set, sprinkle cheese over the top. Cover the pan and turn off the heat.
When cheese is melted, you eat!
My job is done here, the rest of your day is up to you and your best judgment. Godspeed!
Today marks a blogging first for me – we have a guest poster! I’ve decided we should all extend the “guest post” idea to our daily lives. I’d like a guest cook, a guest housekeeper and a guest bill-payer, please? Email me if interested…
Until then: Michelle at WineDineDIY is here with a delicious recipe that may not be trainer approved but it IS winemaker approved. It sounds pretty incredible and I can’t wait to try it. So….soup’s on!
Jalapeno Wine Infused Potato Soup
I’m being scandalous today! Yep, I’m posting a sinfully rich recipe on an otherwise healthy blog. Sorry Crystal, it HAD to be done because… butter.
Get a large pot, spray with cooking oil (I like PAM) and line it with the strips of bacon. Get ’em crispy on medium high heat. Set aside. Once it’s cool, crumble.
Meanwhile: Dice the potatoes, onion, carrot and celery.
Okay, let’s cook!
Step One: After having prepared the bacon, reserve a small amount of bacon grease in the pot, reduce heat to medium, and add the diced potatoes and veggies (onion, celery, garlic and carrot) and stir the veggies in the grease. I know, I know.
Add the entire bottle of Jalapeno Wine! Oh, yes I did!
Bring to a gentle boil and stir occasionally as the wine won’t be enough to cover the potato and veggie medley. The wine will boil down in about 15 minutes.
Step Two: Add chicken broth just enough to barely cover taters and veggies. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes (contents should be tender). Turn heat to low.
Step Three: In a separate medium pan melt the butter over medium heat, whisk in flour, whisk in milk and half and half and keep whisking until thick and creamy. Add to large pot with potatoes and veggies and stir.
NOTE: This is a super thick soup. If you prefer to thin it a bit, just add an additional cup of milk and another cup of FF half and half when you are whisking in the milk to the butter and flour.
Step Four: Add salt, pepper and red wine vinegar and bacon. Stir.
Optional: Fully load your soup by stirring in sour cream and cheese.
Finally: Add chives to garnish before serving.
I think we can all agree that this is worth being a little bit naughty for! Moderation, right?
I’m one of those people who gives homemade, healthy and practical gifts to clients, friends and family at Christmas time (or wine, when all else fails). For a few years I made this sugared cranberry recipe because people loved it so much the first time around. Then in 2013 I decided to change it up and I gave away homemade vanilla extract in little jars (turns out vanilla extract is super easy to make yourself – I no longer buy it in the store). This last year I found a granola recipe I really enjoyed, so I mixed up a couple batches and got out the mason jars. The result: Everyone loved it so much I’ve been sharing the recipe for the past two months. It only seems appropriate that I finally get to posting it on the blog.
For me this recipe is a hit because of the addition of pepitas (pumpkin seeds), the use of a small amount of pure maple syrup and dried cherries. You could easily leave the pepitas out if you’re not a fan and use other dried fruits if you aren’t down with cherries. Just keep in mind the nutritionals will vary depending on the sugar content of your dried fruit of choice. Also, the original recipe (which I found here, over at Real Simple) calls for using canola as your oil. I made it once this way but the second time I used coconut oil just to experiment. Both were delicious! So use whichever oil you’re most comfortable with nutritionally.
[Side note: Canola oil and coconut oil are very similar as far as calories are concerned. Where they differ is in the type of fats. Canola oil consists of monounsaturated and polyunsatured fats (the good stuff), whereas coconut oil consists of mostly saturated fat. Before you throw out the idea of coconut oil, however, keep in mind the saturated fat is the medium chain variety, which means in a nut shell (ha!) that there are a whole host of benefits involved. For more info on medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil, check out this resource.]
2 tablespoons canola or coconut oil (calories are almost identical in both oils)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dried cherries (or other dried fruit – nutritionals given below include cherries)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the oats, almonds, coconut and pepitas with the maple syrup, oil and salt. Bake, tossing once, until golden and crisp – 25 to 30 minutes. Add the dried fruit and toss to combine. Let cool.
Nutritionals per serving (based on a 1-cup serving, which is probably 3x’s how much you’ll actually eat if you’re using this as a snack, over yogurt, etc.): 319 calories, 12.6g total fat (3.4g saturated, when using canola oil), 102mg sodium, 44.4g carbohydrates, 5.1g fiber, 14.5g sugar, 7.7g protein
The more things change, the more things stay the same. Case in point: Fitness profession set aside, I still love me some carbs now and then! Mostly in the form of chocolate. But I have a few exceptions to that rule. This time of year is no different although I’ve definitely replaced my cookie obsession with other things, like sugared cranberries. I mean what’s not to love? You start with the good ol’ fashion cranberry, steep it in sugar water, roll it around in more sugar and you’ve got a tart-and-sweet treat without too much guilt! Okay I don’t feel guilty even a little bit, actually. Even my winemaker requests these every year. So without further salivating, here’s my sugared cranberries recipe, as adopted by me from Cooking Light magazine in 2003.
Heads-up: These require at least 8 hours of refrigeration before you finish them off. I always hate when I don’t read the recipe through and figure this kind of information out after-the-fact. Makes for an angry Trainer Mama!
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
2 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup superfine sugar
Combine granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring mixture until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer; remove from heat. (Do not boil or the cranberries may pop when added. A few of mine always pop even still, so I just throw those out or eat them!)
Stir in cranberries; pour mixture into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
Drain cranberries in a colander over a bowl, reserving steeping liquid, if desired. (I always do this in order to make another batch later – you can simply heat it back up. Or…make cocktails with this festive sugar water you now contain in your possession!)
Place superfine sugar in a shallow dish. Add the cranberries, rolling to coat with sugar. Spread sugared cranberries in a single layer on a baking sheet; let stand at room temperature 1 hour or until dry.
Note: The steeping liquid clings to the berries and helps the sugar adhere. Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to a week. But seriously, if this lasts longer than a few days in your house you should probably just give them to me.
I think it’s safe to say we’re all in detox mode this week. I rarely admit this, but I’m toning down my lush factor after my liver approached me to ask “who the hell do you think we are?” on Sunday evening after 4 nights of wine-a-palooza. So I’m back to my one glass/night max. But that’s not to say the Thanksgiving weekend wasn’t a total blast. We had our Red Friday Open House (get it? red wine? okay, I tried) the day after Thanksgiving where the Mulled Jalapeno Wine was a big hit. (I’ve been asked by a few of you to post the recipe, so see that below!) Then the next morning was Small Business Saturday at The Boise Farmer’s Market. Our schedule was jam-packed with equal parts business and fun evenings spent with family and friends. Sponsored by Lots’o Wine.
First, the event recap:
Check out my super-classy and chic signage.
At least one day you can all say that you remember us before we hit it rich, making our own student council signs and stuff. I saddled up with a nice bottle of Cabernet while drawing up this gem. Apparently a tannic, dry Cab goes really well with the biggest permanent black Sharpie a person can find.
We spent the morning of the event prepping and making sure we didn’t get in one another’s way. I seem to stink at that game. Nevertheless, we had a really great showing and met some new faces. We’re always thrilled when newbies stop by and aren’t turned off by our rugged headquarters. Most wine lovers in the area are really cool about the whole start-up scenario and can remember when many of the local wineries started small and were based out of commercial garages. We’re grateful for that attitude and love getting to meet other winos like-minded individuals who love wine and supporting small businesses! We’re lucky to live in the community we live in and have the support system we do (including really resourceful family members who know how to do things like hook up a sound system in an old garage and decorate flower pots with weird things I buy because in my head it should look pretty).
Von made Chipotle Jalapeno Wine pulled pork (amazing!) and my sister-in-law Amy made Chipotle Jalapeno Cookies for folks to snack on . As we started to wrap up the night we poured ourselves a glass of our 2012 Syrah that we were sampling that evening, which hasn’t officially been released yet because it’s been aging in the bottle. I love how every time we taste it, it gets even better. Why can’t leftovers be that way?
Later that night after we gave the kiddos a bath and they had gone to bed, we sat at our kitchen table with my parents and my mom and I shared a bottle of Rodney Strong Cabernet. Or at least that’s what I’m told. The next day Von asked me if I enjoyed the bottle of wine my mom and I had polished off and I looked at him like he was crazy. I mean, of course I remember drinking wine! And also, I don’t remember drinking all that wine…
But as all great Potter Wines events go: We came, we drank, we went to bed.
Now about this Mulled Jalapeno Wine biz:
Some of you have emailed me for the recipe and rightly so, as it is one fun way to ring in winter! If you use apple cider like I do, it won’t be overly sweet and I prefer it that way. You can make it sweeter if you want by adding honey until you’re satisfied, or use apple juice instead of cider. If you’re still in tailgating mode as many people around here were last weekend, this will be a big crowd pleaser! Or serve this at your holiday party to spice things up a notch.
Cheers to happy holidays, lots of vino and really, really good workouts to keep us honest!
It’s no secret I love this time of year for a lot of reasons. But perhaps one of the biggest reasons is the food. I like the baking, the roasting, the perfect-fall-day grilling, the simmering soups. (If food were fashion – which, I think, it is – soup would be IN right now.) “But you’re a personal trainer,” you say, “how is it you love food so much?” Food is WHY I’m a personal trainer! My inner chubster had to figure out a way to eat healthy and be fit and still enjoy baking and cooking stuff. Lots of decadent-but-light, hearty-but-healthy, filling-but-nourishing, downright delicious stuff. So now that I’ve set the tone for this post, it’s appropriate that I introduce you to my favorite fall soup recipes…
Now, you’ll notice all but one of these is from the same chef/baker blog and that’s because she’s legit. Everything I’ve ever made from Joy the Baker has turned out glorious, even with me messing with it to make it a little healthier if need be. I pretty much have a cooking crush on this woman. Sprinkles and all (I hate sprinkles but she makes them seem cool).
My other cooking affair is with Eating Wellmagazine. The hubby and I have probably made about 3,508 recipes out of the publication and maybe didn’t like one of them. Actually, I have made 3,508 recipes because the hubs is one of those home chefs who knows what he’s doing and therefore doesn’t need to follow a recipe to make things taste lovely. They say you marry your opposite and I sure as $#*! did.
So those are the two sources for these soups – which I’m linking to so you can see the original recipes – but note my slight changes to each, below. These changes were a result of one of 3 things:
I didn’t have what the recipe called for, so I substituted or just omitted.
I wanted to make the recipe healthier/lighter.
I love putting jalapeno wine in soups and I happen to have a TON on-hand. I may know the owners or something.
With that, in no particular order because I find each of these equally amazing, I bring you my Fall Soup Recipe Roundup!
This is our absolute most-favorite tomato soup. We make it about eight times a year and it’s delicious every time. You can find the original recipe here.
We often use fresh tomatoes, instead of canned, if we have them. In the winter we obviously used canned and doing either works terrific.
Seriously fall-appropriate. One tip: Do not expect your kids to eat this. I went into it thinking they would both love it as they do the tomato soup, however this is a bit spicy. On the bright side: More for you!
We didn’t have garam masala nor could I find it at the local grocery store and I was too lazy to go elsewhere, so I subbed it out for 1/2 tbsp. of cayenne pepper and a dash of cinnamon (wingin’ it!).
We omitted the heavy cream.
I ate mine with crumbled goat cheese on top because I’ll use any excuse to eat goat cheese.
Carrot Jalapeno Soup
This one really surprised us. It’s fantastic! Joy the Baker titles it “Vegan Carrot Jalapeno Soup” but with my variation I couldn’t justifiably call it vegan. Plus I don’t care. If you do, follow her recipe to the letter here.
Instead of jalapenos, we added about 1/2 cup of Chipotle Jalapeno Wine at the end when pureeing. You could also do this at Step 3 along with the chicken stock to make sure the alcohol is cooked out.
Again, I ate mine with goat cheese. Any excuse, like I said.
Roasted Cauliflower Soup
I mentioned how the carrot soup surprised us? This one blew my expectations away. I can’t wait to make it again. There were a lot of things we didn’t have, see what I subbed out below, and it was still delicious. Joy the Baker’s original recipe (here) called for cumin so I’m looking forward to using that next time.
We omitted cumin seeds and curry powder and used celery seed instead (1/2 to 1 tsp).
I decided to use black pepper instead of crushed red pepper flakes so our kids could eat it.
We only had 1/2 onion instead of a whole one.
We combined 3 1/2 cups chicken stock and 1/2 cup Mild Jalapeno Wine.
Devour and enjoy!
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