Friday, September 30, 2016

Our Colorado Tradition: Roasted Green Chile

In keeping up with Colorado tradition, right before the arrival of autumn, we cook up a huge batch of green chile. Green chiles can be found roasted at the farmer's market or right outside of Whole Foods throughout the peak of the season. The green chile becomes the showcase of many meals, either straight up with tortillas or the compliment to endless recipes. We always freeze a few quarts of chile so it can warm up many meals through out the winter.

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the dish 
  • 1 (14-ounce) package chicken breakfast sausage 
  • 2 small bunches dark leafy greens (about 3/4 pound), such as kale, collards or spinach, stems and tough ribs removed, leaves roughly chopped 
  • 2 cups reduced-fat (2%) milk 
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt 
  • 8 eggs 
  • 6 (7- to 8-inch) whole wheat tortillas 
  • 2 cups (about 1/2 pound) grated Monterey Jack cheese 
  • 2 (4-ounce) cans diced mild green chiles, or 2 to 4 fresh mild Hatch chiles, roasted*, peeled, seeded and chopped

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook, breaking it up into small pieces, until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and return the skillet to medium heat. Add greens, cover and cook, tossing occasionally, until just wilted, 4 to 6 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together milk, salt and eggs. Oil a 9x13-inch casserole dish and cover the bottom with 2 tortillas. Top with 1/3 of the cheese and then scatter 1/2 of the greens, sausage and chiles over the top. Pour over 1/3 of the egg mixture and then repeat layering. Top with remaining 2 tortillas and cheese, and pour over remaining egg mixture. Press down firmly to submerge all of the ingredients. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Uncover and bake until strata is puffed, golden brown and cooked through, about 50 minutes. Set aside for 10 minutes and then serve.
*To roast Hatch chile peppers, cook on the stovetop, under a broiler, or on a grill until charred and blistered all over. Place blackened peppers in a paper bag, close it up and let the peppers steam for about 10 minutes. Wearing gloves, scrape skins off and run chiles under cool water to remove the skins. Seed and chop chiles, then taste and determine heat level, adding more or less according to your taste.

Disclaimer, I was compensated by Whole Foods Market as a WFM Ambassador for this post. Content is purely at my discretion. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

It's Almost The Peak Of Heirloom Tomato Season

Oh my, nothing really compares to vegetables in August and September. In particular, early autumn brings the peak of heirloom tomatoes. I adore heirlooms and find they should be showcased and the center of the dish that is being created. We've also taken a liking for Burrata this summer, so I mixed the two to create a lovely side salad. It's recommended to purchase them and enjoy within a couple of days and always store them at room temperature.

Here are a few of our favorite varieties!
  • Cherokee Purple. This very large, beefsteak variety is purple or very dark red. It’s deeply flavored and rich with a firm, dense texture. Slice these tomatoes thickly and serve with brined cheeses such as feta or with a sweet drizzle of honey.
  • Marvel Stripe. This large, beefsteak variety is yellow with interior blush. It’s mild, sweet and fruity with low acidity. These tomatoes are juicy and soft and are wonderful for gazpacho, paired with balsamic vinegar as a tomato relish or with earthy clothbound cheddar cheese.
  • Brandywine. This is another large, beefsteak variety, however these tomatoes are pink or yellow and sweet with low acidity. They are perfect for sandwiches, used as the base of a fresh summer salad or paired with the creamy saltiness of Parmigiano Reggiano.
  • Evergreen. This is a medium to large, beefsteak variety. They stay green when ripe and are mild and sweet. Make tomato preserves, a sandwich with triple crème Brie and baguette or bread and fry slices for fried green tomatoes.
  • Black Prince. This is a medium-sized, round globe variety that’s purple or very dark red. It’s deep and sweetly flavored with a firm texture. Sprinkle wedges with vinaigrette and fresh herbs for a simple treat; pair with Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue to match the tomato’s sweetness.
  • Sun Gold. This small, cherry variety is dark yellow or almost orange. These tomatoes are tangy-sweet and perfect for an anytime snack, tossing into quick salads, baking on pizzas and flatbreads and pairing with Parrano cheese.
  • Black Cherry. This small, cherry variety is purple or dark red, very sweet and highly flavored. They’re great in salads, roasting whole, baking into focaccia and pairing with Monterey Jack for a cream-of-tomato soup flavor combination.
Heirloom tomatoes, Burrata, fresh basil, drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper! Voile! 

Whole Foods Market favorite recipes:

Disclaimer, I was compensated by Whole Foods Market as a WFM Ambassador for this post. Content is purely at my discretion. 

    Sunday, July 24, 2016

    Physical Vs. Chemical Sunscreens

    It's the peak of summer and we all know the sun can be intense and hot, so it's important to protect our skin. The majority of us just want to focus on slicing watermelon, making a batch of fresh lemonade, and how in the world do I get all the sand off of my feet before getting back in the car... I've forgotten the sunscreen many times on our outings, then I find myself running into the store only to be completely overwhelmed by all the options in front of me. My go to sunscreen resource is the Environmental Working Group's Guide To Sunscreen, but if you don't want to be doing ingredient research right in the aisle of the store a really quick tip is to think, do I want a physical sunscreen or a chemical based sunscreen?

    Physical Vs. Chemical Sunscreens

    Physical sunscreens reflect the sun's rays with ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, there is no waiting for it to kick in it works on contact as it is a physical barrier. Physical sunscreens often leave a white glow on our skin, we've grown accustomed to this! Chemical sunscreens (conventional brands, the spray you smell even 20 feet away from someone at the pool when they are applying it) work by seeping into your skin and they absorb the sun's rays. Chemical sunscreens are recommended to apply 20 minutes before sun exposure. Chemical sunscreens have been linked to toxicity in aquatic life and endocrine disruption in our bodies.

    I choose physical sunscreens for my family, of course if there is no other choice, I always choose to protect our skin with a chemical sunscreen over no protection. My go to brand choices are Badger, California Baby, and Garden Goddess. Over the years we have just honed in on what works best for our sensitive skin. I also recommend keeping an eye out for the Whole Foods Market Premium Body Care seal. The standards Whole Foods Market has adopted prohibits chemical based active ingredients and they also screen for particle size, so they do not contain any nano-particles. I greatly appreciate the work Whole Foods does to maximize my confidence when buying safe skin care products.

    Disclaimer, I was compensated by Whole Foods Market as a WFM Ambassador for this post. Content is purely at my discretion. 

    Wednesday, July 13, 2016

    Cancelled Flight, Check

    Right now, I'm not doing laundry or haphazardly packing for my trip tomorrow. A few hours ago, I cancelled my flight to New York. I've never cancelled a flight before, a check in my first time for everything column. You may be thinking two trips to NY in a month after not visiting in 4 years? I know right, don't worry I'm thinking the same. My dad was scheduled to have surgery this week, but it's been postponed. There's so much more to the story, but now isn't the time.

    Shortly after the credit appeared in my account, my mind began instantly wandering off about all the places I could travel to before I go back to work in August. How about California? Yes, please. We've spent the last three summers traveling to California and well, it feels like something is missing not dipping my toes in the Pacific Ocean. Travel daydreams are fun, but alas my airline credit is reserved for a trip to it's original intended destination, New York. I'm quite possibly too practical, but couldn't possibly imagine cancelling another flight so please, someone book me a ticket to California stat.

    Monday, July 4, 2016

    The First 25 Miles In Vasque Skywalk GTXs

    On Mother's Day a clunky wrapped box was placed on my lap in bed. It felt a bit too heavy for shoes, but I wasn't anticipating a new dish set, so my curiosity was instantly piqued. Alas, the reissued Vasque Skywalk GTXs I had been swooning over for months now were inside, they weigh in just under 3lbs for the pair. The Skywalks were really popular in the mid-90s when I was living in the Adirondacks and just the sight of them takes me back. I could not wait to get them on and out on the trails!

    First I think it's important to share, I hike in Brooks running shoes. I have a light weight pair I love in the summer for hikes shorter than 7 miles and I own a worn out pair of Scarpa low cut approach shoes. I haven't owned proper hiking boots in years. When I put on the Skywalks they were as expected pretty STIFF, but not uncomfortable. I booted up and set out for my first hike, which turned out to be about 4 miles. I had a tiny hot spot on my right heel, mainly due to lacing adjustments, but overall I was happy with how my feet felt when I got home. The major adjustment for me on the trail was the height of the sole, I have to be more conscious of lifting up my feet. The trails I hike are rocky, so rocks that really stick out sometimes catch the sole of my boot. The ankle support has proven to be a major plus to me and I am almost embarrassed that I have spent so many years just hiking in sneakers.

    At this moment in time, I've put about 25 miles into my boots in less than 2 weeks. The boots are still firm, I have developed one blister, but nothing that even irritates me when I am out on the trail. The Gortex construction does make your feet heat up in the summer and also makes taking them off even sweeter. I look forward to hundreds and maybe if I'm lucky, thousands of miles on the trails in these boots. Oh the places we'll go.


    If you want more details on the technical aspects of the boot, check out the Vasque site. This is not a sponsored post, I'm just a happy customer.

    Thursday, June 30, 2016

    It's Summertime, Throw Some Stone Fruit On The Grill!

    During the summer, we naturally get into a more relaxing dinner groove. I love filling bowls on the table with fresh produce, a protein, and a grain which allows us to mix and match whatever we are feeling for the night. Of course now that stone fruit season is ramping up, I love the idea of including it in our dinner. To switch it up from our regular grab and go fruit, I've started grilling peaches and plums. While we have chicken going on one side of the grill, I toss on the stone fruit and voile, it becomes a lovely addition and typically the first to go at dinnertime. As expected there are stone fruit options aplenty at Whole Foods Market!

    If you've never grilled stone fruit before, check out the short video by Whole Foods Market to pick up some tips:


    Disclaimer, I was compensated by Whole Foods Market as a WFM Ambassador for this post. Content is purely at my discretion. 

    Monday, May 30, 2016

    Curtains Wide Open

    By chance a few months ago, we fell asleep with the curtains open to the west facing window in our bedroom. Since it was winter, the light just seemed to naturally drape itself into our space, waking me in the most pleasant way. A few days turned into a few weeks and now it's been months since we've closed the curtains. My daily alarm is sunlight, even with the earlier sunrise times, I've stayed true to how it makes me feel. 

    Some mornings there's a pink sunrise reflecting off the mountains, some mornings it's grey and overcast, some mornings there is a full moon just hanging about to dip behind the Rockies, some mornings there is snow falling from the sky even though the calendar says May. But it's every morning I feel grateful I have a little slice of nature gracing me before I begin my day. 

    I started taking photos in the morning, crappy photos but they make me smile 

    Thursday, April 28, 2016

    What's Tasting Best Right Now? Rhubarb!

    When I check the calendar, my mind instantly runs to all things Spring. Bulbs blooming, asparagus, rhubarb, mud on the trails. Looking out my window tells a much different story! Snow is in the forecast through the weekend bringing us right into May. Oh Colorado, your weather never bores me.

    While sunshine filled 70 degree days leave us wanting to be outside all day long, I have a feeling this weekend we'll be inside baking, crafting, and laying low. I picked up some rhubarb at Whole Foods Market and I think a pie is in order. See the recipe below or by clicking here to create a shopping list!

    • Orange Pie Pastry
    • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour, more for rolling out the dough 
    • 1 teaspoon salt 
    • Grated zest from 2 organic oranges, reserve 1 teaspoon 
    • 10 tablespoons (1 stick + 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, diced and chilled 
    • 1 organic orange, juiced, about 5 tablespoons, more if needed 
    • 2 tablespoons milk 

    • Rhubarb Filling
    • 1 1/2 cup sugar 
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour 
    • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest leftover from pastry 
    • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice 
    • 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 
    • 3 eggs, lightly beaten 
    • 1 pound fresh rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch slices (about 4 cups) 
    First, make the pie pastry. Set aside 1 teaspoon of the grated orange zest for use in the filling. Place flour, salt and remaining orange zest in the bowl of a food processor and pulse briefly to combine, or combine by hand in a large bowl. Add butter and pulse until the butter and flour are combined and the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. Alternatively, cut butter into flour using two table knives. Add orange juice and pulse just until the dough begins to come together. If dough is dry, add another tablespoon or two of juice or water. Remove dough from processor and gather dough into a flattened disc. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

    Preheat the oven to 400°F. Make filling by whisking sugar, flour, zest, orange juice, nutmeg and eggs together until blended completely. Fold in rhubarb and set aside.

    Remove pastry from the refrigerator. Divide dough in half. Roll out one half of the dough and use it to line a 9-inch pie plate. Arrange the pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet. Spoon rhubarb filling into pie shell. Roll out the second half of the dough. Cut into 12 (3/4-inch-wide) strips and form a lattice top over the filling by arranging six of the strips across the top of the pie, spacing them evenly apart. Weave remaining strips through the original strips in the opposite direction. Press strips to edge to seal. Crimp or flute the edges. Brush crust gently with milk. 

    Bake pie for 50 to 60 minutes or until pastry is golden brown, rhubarb juices are bubbling and pie filling is lightly browned and set. If crust browns too quickly, cover the edge with foil. Let cool completely before cutting. 
    Nutritional Info: 
    Per Serving: Serving size: About 1/8 pie440 calories (140 from fat), 16g total fat, 9gsaturated fat, 115mg cholesterol, 320mg sodium, 67g carbohydrates, (2 g dietary fiber, 37gsugar), 7g protein.

    Disclaimer, I was compensated by Whole Foods Market as a WFM Ambassador for this post. Content is purely at my discretion. 

    Friday, March 18, 2016

    Whole Foods Market Beauty Bag Release Day!

    After I gave up my monthly subscription service with a beauty bag company, I fell in love with the Beauty Bag Whole Foods Market has been releasing as an alternative. I found many of the more commercial brand subscriptions filled the bags with products that just didn't agree with my personal philosophies on skincare or my skin itself (lots of harsh ingredients). But I no longer feel left out thanks to Whole Foods Market.

    The limited edition beauty bag comes out today, March 18 for $15 while supplies last. It's an $80 value and an amazing deal, a great opportunity to try out products without having to buy a full sized product to see if you like them.

    The bag contains:
    ·         Dr. Hauschka® Soothing Cleansing Milk .34 oz
    ·         Derma e® Purifying 2-in-1 Charcoal Mask .5 oz
    ·         Acure Pore Minimizing Facial Scrub 1 oz
    ·         Trilogy Rosehip Oil Antioxidant +  ml
    ·         MyChelle® Perfect C Serum .17 oz
    ·         Burt’s Bees® Sunset Cruise Lip Stick .12 oz
    ·         Weleda Skin Food .34 oz

    I must admit the RijiGreen bag which all the products come in is one of my favorite things, I carry them in my purse and use them year round. The company is dedicated to ending poverty and slavery, the bags are made by survivors of human trafficking.

    To top off the excitement of the beauty bag, if you fall for a product, all facial care is on sale 25% March 18-20 and it's beauty week, where you'll find sales through out the entire Whole Body department.

    Disclaimer, I was compensated by Whole Foods Market as a WFM Ambassador for this post. Content is purely at my discretion. 

    Saturday, February 27, 2016

    Oscar Party Nosh

    The 88th Academy Awards ceremony honoring the best of Hollywood of 2015 airs on Sunday, February 28! My favorite display of Hollywood grandeur is always the Oscars, there's no topping it. When I gather with a group of friends, I like to make my day as easy as possible so I can fully enjoy the show. Here are some tips from Whole Foods Market to create a fun evening without breaking the budget:

    Create a display like a craft service pro! Small plates and appetizers, finger foods like Sriracha chicken wontons or premade meatballs (look for Nature's Rancher). I like to offer lots of protein to balance out the other fun treats on the table. I love the ease of creating a charcuterie plate and it always looks so lovely.

    Keep them entertained! I love the idea of having a blind wine tasting.  Simply choose 3 varietals from Criterions roster to serve as the standard, and pair it against a popular bottle of the same variety (for a total of 6 bottles). Cover them both with paper bags and have guests compare. For extra points, create an awards ballot of your own to choose a winning wine.

    Switch it up with citrus! Citrus is in season right now, so grab a bag of clementines to create a centerpiece and also allow for your guests to snack on them, a double duty centerpiece and treat! Have lemon and lime wedges cut and ready to go for water to create a more festive feeling to your entertaining. 

    Disclaimer, I was compensated by Whole Foods Market as a WFM Ambassador for this post. Content is purely at my discretion. 

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016

    Whole Foods Market's Healthy Trends For 2016

    Whole Foods Market has identified Healthy Trends for 2016 which ranges from exploring seasonal produce (think of all the varieties of apples or even sweet potatoes), biodynamic farming which is a holistic approach to organic farming, plant based desserts and unexpected foods, like yogurt! Meat trends including antibiotic free animal farming which WFM has championed since the 80's, meat with less processing and additives, and higher protein snack bars that incorporate animal protein into them (I am a huge EPIC bar fan).

    My favorite trend that Whole Foods named for 2016 is the culture craze, fermented foods and probiotics! We love probiotics in our house and look for alternative ways to keep them on our plate without the default yogurt. Having a few local companies that produce cultured foods such as sauerkraut and beets make my job much easier. Remember they are living foods, so be sure to keep them refrigerated! If you haven't tried them yet, I highly recommend them. Just look at the beautiful variety below:

    Disclaimer, I was compensated by Whole Foods Market as a WFM Ambassador for this post! Content including photos is purely at my discretion. 

    Friday, January 1, 2016

    The Joy of December 26th

    A pattern has officially developed during the year's end and the start of the new year. Everything ramps up to Christmas, a flurry of overbooked activity to accompany my general grumpiness, and then come December 26th the dust settles and zen sets in. It's in the zen I find us submersed in family time, home cooked meals and baking constantly coming from our kitchen, board games earning their rotation, and extra time spent at home just hanging out. For me, I start reading voraciously, having completed a 454 page book in a day, pulling out my sketchbook, mending some items, deep cleaning, and being inspired. I also wanted to pull out my knitting bin and see what project I can whip up. I want to keep on taking to the trails even in the cold wind and snow, considering it's not going to be tank top weather for months. The last week of break has become one of my favorite weeks of the year. I've been thinking of ways to draw out my renewed sense of self because I really don't want it to end. So this post is my little commitment to keep it going, to not let the hustle and bustle of ballet rehearsal, gymnastics, orchestra, work, and school gobble up what feeds me and makes me content. Wish me luck!

    Monday, December 14, 2015

    Oh Christmas Tree, Oh...

    We are recovering from the whirlwind that is known as The Nutcracker. Both girls were cast in this year's performance (yeah, throw confetti), but with that comes some give and take. Every year I have this romantic notion of securing a Forest Service Permit to go hike into the woods and chop down a tree. I imagine us taking hours to find the most lovely imperfect tree to grace our house.

    But the reality is, we were picking up dinner at our neighborhood Whole Foods Market, and boom there were trees. The girls had ballet buns in their hair and leotards under their down jackets, when we said, sure pick one out! Squees followed when we said yes. Before we knew it, we had chosen a Nordman Fir and up on our car it went! This year, I've decided after we get the lights put on, the girls will carry on the tradition of placing the ornaments. Win, win.

    Disclaimer, I was compensated by Whole Foods Market as a WFM Ambassador for this post! Content including photos is purely at my discretion. 

    Monday, November 30, 2015

    The Place I Live

    There is snow on the ground and a blustery wind fills the air. The weather change seems sudden and hard, but I know a few days of sunshine will be warming things up (or so I keep telling myself). The wintery conditions don't bother me. I am well equipped with warm base layers, scarves, wool sweaters, fleece lined hats, knee high socks, and the appropriate climate to be rocking Ugg boots. Because somedays on my drive to work (I see this, below) and feel so fortunate I live in such a beautiful place.

    and that concludes 30 days of NaBloPoMo, thank you for joining me and allowing me to fill up your inbox this month.