Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Gluten Free Fig Coconut Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies

In the midst of the revelry of the "International Food Bloggers Conference" I managed to leave my Nikon camera behind on a lonesome cocktail table.  It's the camera that my husband surprised me with for Christmas. The camera that I planned to use for a digital photography class in September that my parents gifted me for my birthday.  The camera that had a "big" photographic story on it for a guest post that I have been working on for weeks for a little (ha!) website you may have heard of called "AllRecipes".

It's hard to believe that so much hinged on a "thing".  A "thing" that happens to be the center of both my hobby and passion.  I feel as lost without my camera as I did when my smart phone decided to take a swim in a hotel pool a few years ago! That darn phone slipped from my hands, bounced on the pool floor and fell right into the chlorine-filled water.

My smart phone had plans that didn't include me.  Kinda like the camera. Apparently my camera didn't want to leave the Conference or Portland.  Thankfully, not every sad story has a bad ending. Double Tree housekeeping called today.  An anonymous person turned my beloved camera in & it will be mailed to my home. This experience renews my faith in our communities. There are great people out there doing amazing and anonymous things for perfect strangers. I'm now tasked with paying it forward. Over and over again.

As I brainstorm anonymous good deeds, I'm going to create a gluten free recipe for my sister and brother in law that I can enter into the Made In Nature "Fall for Figs" recipe contest.  While I was busily leaving my prized possessions behind, my sister and brother in law were kind enough to take my kids to Ross Lake Resort.

I've created a super yummy, low sugar, low fat, gluten free drop breakfast cookie. I used a cookie scoop for portion control, because, after all, who needs an enormous cookie for breakfast?

Here's what you need to pay it forward:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup Unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup Made in Nature organic dried figs, diced into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cup Oat Meal
  • 1 cup Almond Meal
  • 1/2 cup Chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Coconut flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/3 cup Blue Agave
  • Cookie scoop for near perfect shaped cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl, mix oat meal, almond meal, coconut, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt.

In an electric mixer, add butter, eggs and agave. Mix for a few minutes. Add dry ingredients and mix again.  Toss in the chocolate chips and figs. Mix for about 15 seconds.

Use a cookie scoop and place cookies about half an inch apart on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 13 minutes.

Remove and place on a cooling rack.

Once completely cooled wrap in wax paper and tie with a ribbon for an easy grab-and-go meal!

                    What has a perfect stranger done for you?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Wicked Good Red Snapper Baked in Parchment Paper

I'm not quite done pinching myself. Really. It still feels like this past weekend was a dream. The International Food Bloggers Conference in Portland, Oregon was a smashing success.

It all began a day before the conference. I was fortunate enough to be invited to a private event at the lovely Barhyte home in Lake Oswego. Our limo/bus arrived with chilled bubbly and lots of good cheer and enthusiasm. It certainly set the stage for quite an evening of delicious Saucy Mama food, pleasant conversation & blossoming friendships.

Our evening concluded with an incredibly generous gift basket containing Saucy Mama gourmet mustard, fine horseradish sauce, marinades, wing sauce, artisan jewelry, Noble Pig wine, handmade Clothespin Cards, Sauvie Island whole bean coffee, a handsewn apron and so much more!

Thorton Wilder is quoted as saying "We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures". Thank you to each person at Barhyte who played a role in treating me to an unforgettable evening. Your generosity inspired this original recipe; "Wicked Good Baked Red Snapper in Parchment Paper".

  • 1 1/2 pounds of Red Snapper or other white fish
  • 1 cup of frozen spinach. (Double the quantity if you are using fresh spinach)
  • 3 carrots, peeled, cut into  1.5" thin stips
  • 6 mushrooms sliced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow onion thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Saucy Mama's Cracked Pepper Marinade
  • 2 long sheets of parchment paper
  • Salt to taste
  • Serve with your choice of pasta, rice, couscous and so on

Layer 2 long sheets of parchment paper on top of each other on a baking sheet.  Place onion in the center on the parchment paper and begin layering with the remaining veggies & fish. Pour marinade over the meal.  Fold the top and sides of the parchment paper as if you are wrapping a gift (except don't tuck your extra sides under, you'll want to fold those on top so that the marinade remains in the packet).

Bake on 425 for 13-16 minutes, depending on the thickness of your filet.

Pour delicious sauce over your starch choice.

Serves 4 people

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Heather's Story: A Cancer Fighter's Quest to Ease the Fear of the Illness

Good morning friends, I'm packing bags for the trip to Portland in preparation for my 2nd Foodie Conference of the year (International Food Bloggers Conference) and I'm delighted to introduce you to Heather. She graciously offered to share her story. Thanks Heather!

You Have Cancer

There is no good time to receive a cancer diagnosis, but mine was especially heartbreaking. I received the devastating news just three and a half months after giving birth to my beautiful baby, and I was enjoying the many wonders of life as a new mom. It was surprising to learn that I was suffering from malignant pleural mesothelioma, which is generally caused by exposure to asbestos.

The first question everyone asks is how I was exposed to a banned substance, but the surprising truth is that asbestos has not been banned. The second question people ask is where my exposure came from. The answer lies in the unfortunate occurrence of secondary exposure. My father had a job in construction, and his daily work consisted of drywall taping, mudding and sanding. When he came home from work, his clothing and car were a haven for dust that was filled with millions of microscopic asbestos fibers.

I was diagnosed with mesothelioma at the age of 36. The Mayo clinic had only heard of one other mesothelioma patient this young. In the beginning, most patients were older men who worked in trade vocations. They were generally plumbers, electricians and mechanics. Some worked in heating, and some had worked in the military where they were exposed on ships. There were also women diagnosed who had worked at schools in buildings that were filled with asbestos.

Unfortunately, my case was just the start of an alarming trend in secondary exposure. A large number of wives began getting sick, possibly from doing their husbands laundry. They handled clothing that was caked with asbestos, and would usually shake the excess dust out of the clothes before putting them in the washing machine. Unsuspecting children were exposed when they hugged their dads who had just come home from a day at work installing insulation. Dads and their children were unaware of the dangers in this seemingly harmless dust.

Mesothelioma is now plaguing a new generation of victims. There are an ever-increasing number of young people receiving this dreaded diagnosis. Children who went to school with asbestos dust swirling around them are suffering from this unforgiving cancer. Children who played in the millions of attics across America that were contaminated with asbestos from vermiculite insulation are also suffering from this unrelenting disease.

This dreaded cancer is afflicting men and women from their late 20’s to early 30’s. These young people should have their whole lives ahead of them. They are getting married, having children and starting new jobs when the devastating diagnosis brings their world down around them. The focus shifts from their hopes for the future to beating mesothelioma and surviving to see the future. They want to see their children grow up, and they want to grow old with their loved ones.

There is good news. Successful research has created amazing advances allowing for successful treatment of this disease. The outlook has turned from bleak to hopeful. People of all ages are surviving, which gives hope to everyone involved.

My cancer diagnosis was devastating, but with new breakthroughs, many people suffering from mesothelioma are hopeful that they will be among the growing number of mesothelioma survivors.

Some people may wonder why I take the time to share my experiences. My goal is to bring awareness about mesothelioma. Without public awareness, there is a feeling of despair among newly diagnosed individuals. I am telling my story to help ease the fear of this illness and bring hope for recovery. I know that my efforts are not in vain, and that makes my mission, although difficult at times, worthwhile.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Whole Wheat Penne Pasta with Salami, Mozzarella, Capers, Red Peppers

"I'm not wearing this dress to look pretty. It's effing hot outside and I didn't want to wear any pants".

As the blanket of heat covers us this week I'm modifying the way I dress and eat.  I can't seem to manage to wear anything but dresses.  Dresses will always remind me of my own youth and observing my mom back in 80's.  She had the most amazing variety of rayon and polyester dresses and jumpsuits.  I didn't really understand why she looked "so pretty" every day.  I was happy to wear shorts, flip flops and a t-shirt in those days.  

Now I get it. It's a survival mechanism! A way to keep calm and cool. It's almost as if the dress is a metaphor for the proper behavior we should have in spite of the record breaking heat. Wearing a dress not only keeps me feeling cooler, it forces me to cross my legs while sitting down!

Another way I'm keepin' cool is to give up oven cooking. Lately, I've been blogging a lot about salads.  Today is no exception. This is a hearty, healthy and quick pasta salad that is great for a pot luck, lunch or dinner.

  • 12 ounces Whole Wheat Penne Pasta
  • 2 Red Peppers, cored and sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons Capers
  • 1 Red Pepper Flaked Mozzarella Salami Log, Sliced & Diced (Sold in a 3 variety pack at Costco)
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Cook pasta according to directions. Toss all ingredients well and add a bit more olive oil if desired. Serve chilled.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Brown Rice Salad with Cojita,Tomatoes, Radishes, Lime and Cilantro

There's nothing like dragging out your birthday for as long as possible. If you're battling the crow's feet and extra pounds that age so carelessly throws your way, I recommend laughing back and celebrating anyway.  My birthday was this week & I managed to pull off a 4 day celebration.  We're talking Fair day with the Demo Derby, lake party in the summer heat, hosting friends and family open house style, dinner with the girls, swimming with my kids and the finale of Kirc's tender BBQ ribs.

 I don't think that it could get any better than this week. I'm thankful, truly, for everyone who played a part (and enabled me) to celebrate my birthday this year. It's been good fun and quite frankly I'm trying to figure out a way to keep the party going.....

Beyond my celebratory ways I did a lil' cooking.  Please enjoy another healthy salad choice to add to your pot luck repertoire:

  • 4 cups Lundberg brown rice. (uncooked)
  • 4 thinly sliced radishes
  • 1 small can green chiles
  • 1/2 bunch chopped cilantro
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 carton of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/3 pound crumbled cotija cheese
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • Juice of one lime
  • Zest of one lime
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook rice according to directions. Mix all ingredients and toss to coat.

Serves a crowd for a potluck with leftovers.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Quick Southwest Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

It's not fall yet and we've found ourselves involved in a massive yard clean-up event. All those pesky cedars who thought they could find a home next to our sidewalk or're outta here! Maples, you're gone too. The lanky branches and holey green leaves attacked by the caterpillars need to go. We mean business around here.

 The problem is tree removal & shrub trimming is a bit like trimming your own bangs.  It starts looking beautiful and you can't stop.  "If I keep going it will look gorgeous", then suddenly, your wet bangs dry and it looks like you have a large paintbrush on your forehead. Well the same goes for tree removal. The large space where trees and shrubs once lived now house "stump town". What can I say, it's a work in progress!

Any proper work party must have good food. Today we enjoyed a hearty vegetarian pasta. Well, I didn't exactly call my husband in the house from yard work waving the vegetarian flag.  Yeah, I can be a little sneaky when it comes to food.  As we sat down to eat I watched him closely.  Using his fork he pushed the beans & corn aside. He pushed the peppers aside too. His search for protein was for naught, yet he didn't say a word.  I took that as a good sign.

Here's what you'll need:


  • 12 ounces whole wheat pasta
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1/2 12 ounce bag of frozen cord
  • Half a jar of roasted red peppers

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
  • 1 lime with peel
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • Salt and pepper
  • A Juicer

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain pasta.  Heat frozen corn in microwave for 2 minutes.  Toss pasta, drained black beans and corn in a large bowl.

Place whole lime, garlic cloves and cilantro in the juicer. Remove and add cumin, salt, pepper, and honey. Mix well, otherwise you'll see layers like this:

  Toss in your pasta, mix and serve.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Blueberry Lemon Mint Iced Green Tea

Day 43 of Insanity offered us a 47 minute workout entailing Max Cardio Conditioning. Here's some of what we conquered today:

  1. Switch Kicks
  2. High Knees
  3. Floor Hops
  4. Jumping Jacks with arms up
  5. Heisman
  6. One-Two-Three
  7. High Low Jab with Squat
  8. Football Runs
  9. Basketball Shots
  10. Diamond Jumps
  11. In and Out Push Up Jacks
  12. Suicide Jumps
  13. Ski Abs
  14. Squat Twist
  15. Over the River Hops
  16. Attack
  17. Power Knee
  18. Ski Down Hooks
  19. Plank Punches
  20. Squat Speed Bag

 I'm sooo happy to share that I lost another pound. This means that I have 9 more to go. Not that I'm counting or anything. Well who's kidding who, of course I'm counting. I was starting to feel like I plateaued. Hubby and I discussed a possible 2-3 day vegetable cleanse.  Thankfully, I'm taking that option off the table.

Some of our struggle with modifying our diet has been the lack of beverage options. I discovered a version of this recipe at Brooklyn Galley and have modified it to fit our dietary standards. I also changed the cooking method by using a juicer for the berries and lemon rather than a strainer.  It's a perfect choice with the seasonally fresh blueberries & mint that can be found everywhere!

How to:

  • 4 cups fresh blueberries (we picked at a farm for $1.75 pound)
  • Lemon Juice (One)
  • 3/4 cup fresh mint
  • Green tea (4 bags)
  • 7 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of Agave (use a bit more if you like your beverages sweet)
Boil water and add tea bags. Let steep for about 5 minutes. Add whole leaf mint and agave.  Simmer on low for 5 minutes. 

Place blueberries and peeled lemon in a juicer. 

 Pour the blueberry lemon mixture into the tea mix. Stir then remove mint and tea bags.  Allow tea to cool on the stove for 30 minutes then place in a pitcher in your fridge.

Serve on ice and garnish with a lemon slice or mint sprigs

What's your biggest challenge when you modify your diet? 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Northwest Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

  "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are"
           ~Theodore Roosevelt

Our beloved cat, Pudge, erroneously named by the shelter where we found him, warms our hearts and home (most of the time). He snuggles into our laps, sleeps on our heads, purrs in our ears & is tender with our other domesticated animal pet, Patches the guinea pig.

 The thing is, he's also a hunter. He hides in the shrubs to hunt baby bunnies, he climbs trees to track down birds, he enjoys the ordinary mouse and appreciates the sport of chasing and capturing a vole.

He's a proud cat and dare I say, has a bit of an ego. He leaves his leftover conquests on our 3 doorsteps and even sneaks them in the house.  Little does he know, we aren't proud of his efforts. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful he's running, chasing, & climbing. Staying fit and healthy is what we are all about around here.  But killing as a sport is sad, particularly when we discover an injured animal. What then?  If the injury looks recoverable we send it back to the wild and hope the animal finds a safe haven.  If the injury looks life threatning I suppose some folks may assist in the demise out of compassion. Problem is neither my husband or myself have that ability.

We're quite a pair. I think the only way either one of us could hurt an animal is if our life depended on it.  Otherwise, we are left squeamish at family crabbing trips & in social circles discussing hunting. "Backing" the crab while it's still alive, can't do it. No way. No how.  Cook those babies and I'm in for the crab feed, but the prep work is all you!

Shooting at targets...heck yeah! That's fun. Let's go to the range. Shooting animals? Not gonna happen.

So what do we do when an injured baby bird lands on the door step? Call the local Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. If you are located in or near Whatcom County the number to call is #360-966-8845. Click here to view the Northwest Wildlife Rehabilitation Center website.  There is no charge to bring an animal to them. They operate on donations only without receiving city or government funding.

The kind folks at the Northwest Wildlife Rehabilitation Center were professional and sincere. They assigned our little bird a number so that in a day or two we could get an update.  Unfortunately the little one didn't make it.

Here's the nest our kids made the baby bird before the trip to the Rehabilitation Center. Rest in Peace baby bird.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sucia Island State Park Part 2

We've been back on the mainland for a week but Sucia Island is still on our mind.  It isn't just the beautiful scenery, the family bonding or those amazing barbequed oysters.  I think one of the magical things that Sucia offers is an easy going island pace.  It's almost like time slows down long enough for you to really feel the sand between your toes, smell the salty scent of ocean air & hear the noisy oystercatcher.

Beyond the quiet and still mornings, we carved out time for the important matters like family connections, our daily Insanity workout and hobbies like Boggle.

We rented the group site with adirondack for 3 nights. The total cost was $130.  Reservations are made by calling Washington State Parks.  The shelter is handy for inclement weather.  This site is our favorite as it offers beach and ocean views.

Yup, that's me up there jumping in the sand on Sucia. Working out on the beach on Sucia was a treat! Thanks to the support of my husband & friends,  Insanity has helped me shed 7 pounds.   I feel a lot healthier and more energetic.  I still have work to do as you can see.  10 more pounds to go!

Did you miss my first post about Sucia?  Here's the link:

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sucia Island Family Camping & Boating

Sucia Island State Park is located in the San Juan Islands north of Orcas Island. A mere 564 acres, according to Wikipeida, Named by Spanish Captain Elisa in the late 1700's, Sucia means dirty or foul in Spanish.  The name is attributed to the submerged reefs and dangerous rocks along the islands shoreline. Despite the name, Sucia is consistantly ranked as one of the top boating destinations in the world.

Part of the island was acquired by The Washington State Parks and Rec Commisssion in the 50's. The remainder of the island was eyed by developers wanting to create vacation lots. In the 60's The Recreational Boaters Club purchased the remaining land from the developers for $25,000 and donated it to the State Parks for use as a Marine Park. Our family is thankful! Our annual Sucia camping and boating trip is the highlight of our summer.

The beauty and terrain are unmatched, offering an isthmus of east and west ocean beach access in a matter of steps. Hiking beyond sandstone cliffs, discovering the sweet scent of ripe blackberries, taking a dip in the cool ocean waters & kayaking in the bay. 

What else can you do on an island offering just running water? Besides leaving most electronics at home and turning off our mobile phones, we build campfires, play bocce ball, football, have airsoft wars (with bio degradable pellets) & of course we eat.

Jerry's famous oysters & Mom's amazing bloody mary's.

Hobo pack. Dash of olive oil, buffalo sausage, kale, red onion, sweet potato, garlic scapes, green onion, salt and pepper

Hobo pack. Dash of olive oil, broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, kale & garlic scapes.

Bocce Ball

Blogger isn't allowing me to add additional photos. Tomorrow I will share our campsite details and more.