Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Wow! Is it really already 5pm?  I have just a few minutes to push this post out and then I'm off to a very fun dinner!  So where shall we begin?
Dinner last night was an old favorite: Grilled Tofu with Blackberry Peach Salsa.  Only instead of the salsa, I used a cup of the frozen fruit I had (Very Berry Cherry from Trader Joe's), let it thaw, added 2 tbsp Salsa Verde and a squirt of lime juice and it was just as good.  On the side we enjoyed grits and Crispy Kale Chips
It has been too long since we have had kale chips.  They are so wonderful, you must try them now!

I was in the kitchen all day yesterday!  I made a new loaf of bread, some gluten free muffins, dinner for Marsha, and of course dinner for us.  It was a hot day in the kitchen, but trust me when I say it was all divine!  So for dessert last night I had a sample of some of the goods.
(Recipes soon!)

This morning I woke up and prepared for a hot and sweaty run with a bowl of hot oats.  Makes sense, right?
Sometimes my love for oatmeal wins out over the heat of the day.  I enjoyed this bowl mixed with applesauce.  It makes it light and fluffy.  Yum!

I wish I could share a photo of you post-run.  It was a hot-mess.  But I will save us both and just tell you about it.  At 8:30 this morning it was already pushing the upper 80's and although we chose a trail, it was still hot enough to pour sweat.  We found ourselves sprinting between the shady patches, through the sun spots.  After 5 miles of hilly, hotness we made our way to the stadium for some bleachers!  Yes, we did. 

I finally made it home around 10:30, showered and dressed and by 11 I was already ready for lunch.
Nothing would suffice but a tall smoothie!  Mixed together: 2 cups kale, 3 orange juice ice cubes, 1 banana, 1 packet frozen mango puree from Trader Joe's, about 1/4 cup frozen Very Berry Cherry mix from Trader Joe's and a few splashes of Almond Milk. 

On the side I enjoyed a slice of bread with a little Sunflower Seed Butter.

Of course it wasn't long before I was hungry again and so I had this for a snack.  It isn't exactly a whole-food produce option, but when I give you the recipe later you will understand why it is certainly a fine exception.
I spent the better part of my dad messing with my Mac Mail and setting up my new email addresses for work.  Today was a productive day for Girls on the Run.  I haven't even read a single blog all day.  This never happens! 

Now I am once again hungry, and excited for my dinner party tonight.  I am hosting a Celebration Dinner for all the Girls on the Run board members and race committee members at a local sushi restaurant.  We have had an amazing season and I can't wait to see all of my GOTR friends one more time before summer is here! 

Have a great day!

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Marsha Challenge Week 2

A quick review on how The Marsha Challenge is working (for me...I will have to get Marsha to write a guest post soon!)

Overall, I am loving the motivation and the challenge.  There is no way I could have plowed through that treadmill workout today if I had a choice.  But I knew I needed to push Marsha and so I had to push myself.  I have to set a good example, right?  I made it through last week accomplishing all of the fitness goals that I set forth for Marsha.  I had to make sure that it was doable.  Here they are once again:

  • Cardio 4-5 days per week with a minimum of 120 minutes total
  • Strength 2-3 days a week (taking a Pilates class or yoga class for 3rd strength if desired)
  • Stretch 2-3 days a week for 20-30 minutes (also stretching after workouts)
  • Rest 1-2 days a week
The only thing I missed was the stretching.  I did make it to a yoga class, and stretched a little after each workout, but I need to get better at remembering to stretch more often.


As part of the challenge, I have been preparing whole-foods, vegan meals for Marsha and her family.  These are the dishes I have prepared for her thus far:

Sloppy Joe's
Quinoa Black Bean Burgers with Roasted corn and sweet potatoes

I have also made these recipes for the family for snacks and extras:

Veggie Spring Rolls
The New Not-tella
Whole Wheat Oatmeal Loaf
Almond Butter Treats made with peanut butter instead of almond butter and honey instead of brown rice syrup

I love that I am getting to test out some of my favorite recipes on others!  Especially on children, to see how well received they are.  So far I have only received raving reviews!  

Food Rules:

If you remember, I set several guidelines in place for Marsha and asked her to choose 5 additional rules from Michael Pollan's Food Rules.  Because I am a trooper, I decided to take this food challenge with her and have been attempting to follow these guidelines as well:

  • 2 servings of fruits or veggies with every meal
  • Pre-packaged foods must have 5 ingredients or less
  • Ingredients should easily be readable by her children
  • Avoid any package foods that list some form of sugar as one of the top 3 ingredients
  • Avoid all refined sugars, eating only natural forms including agave, honey, 100% maple syrup (no high-fructose corn syrup and no artificial sweeteners) stevia is fine to use.
  • No deep-fried anything
  • No fast food
My additional 5 guidelines that I chose include:
  1. Limit your snacks to unprocessed plant foods
  2. Eat your colors
  3. Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself
  4. Stop eating before you are full
  5. Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored
  6. Do all your eating at a table (not my desk)
 So the big question...how am I doing? 

Well, let's just call Week 1 a learning experiment!  It was interesting to see what foods I revert too without a second thought about the ingredients.  Cereal is definitely one of those foods.  I love eating cereal as a snack throughout the day, but it doesn't exactly follow the snack rule (limit snacks to unprocessed plant foods).  Also, most cereals have sugar listed as the second or third ingredient and have more than 5 ingredients. 

So I have had to rethink my snacks this week, relying on fresh fruits to pull me through the afternoon.  Since the weather has been so hot it hasn't been too difficult.  The rules that are most difficult for me to follow are the mental ones: eat only when you are hungry and stop eating when you are full.  I have had to tune into my body for cues when to eat, rather than the clock.  I like feeling liberated from a schedule, but ultimately my mind tells me it is time to eat way before my stomach does.  And I hate to leave any plate unclean, so I tend to stuff myself.  I am going to have to watch portion control a bit closer. 

This week I am starting fresh.  I have noted my mistakes from last week.  I have realized what sorts of things trigger overeating, and which guidelines are hardest to follow.  I have made a thorough inventory of the foods in my house and know which ones fit the new guidelines and which don't.  With the exception of my beloved Almond Milk I am going to try for 100% this week. 

Breakfast and Lunch were already very successful today:
In the smoothie...1/2 banana, 2 cups spinach, 1 packet frozen mango puree from Trader Joe's, ~1/2 cup Very Cherry Berry Blend from Trader Joe's and a splash of Almond Milk.
And lunch was a fresh arugula salad with shredded carrots, sunflower seeds, dried apricots and a leftover Black Bean Quinoa Burger with a little salsa verde on top (from Trader Joe's, 5 whole-food ingredients).  Mmmm!

Overall, I would say I am having a great time with this challenge and I appreciate how it has made me rethink my eating.  Some assume all vegans are exceptionally healthy, but I'm afraid even we get trapped into the processed food market.  Especially when it comes to faux meats and cheeses!  Focusing on whole foods is a much better way to fuel your body!

Summertime=Corona Time!

You will excuse my absence yesterday.  I was busy working...
I figured you wouldn't mind...considering how you got 4 blog posts for the price of 1 on Saturday!  And yes, Ikea was considered work yesterday!  I am pricing shelves for my poor, overwhelmed garage.  I am also looking for some new office furniture to make my space more efficient.  Oh the joys of summer work!

After Saturday night's BBQ with friends, we didn't have any big plans for last night.  In fact, we haven't any plans for tonight either.  It sure doesn't feel like a holiday weekend around here.  Especially since Forbes is at school today (snow make up day), boo!

We didn't let our lack of plans get in the way of celebrating this weekend, however.  So after my grueling day in the office (aka, Ikea's office furniture section), I came home with a treat for hubby and me.
We fired up the grill for just the two of us and made my favorite veggie burgers!
Served on a whole grain roll, topped with arugula and organic ketchup.
On the side we served grilled corn on the cob and Brussels sprouts.  We left the corn in its husks and set it right on the grill for about 20 minutes.  At the same time, we sliced the sprouts in half, wrapped in tin foil with a pat of Earth Balance butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
After about 15 minutes of cooking, we added the veggie burgers to the grill (omit the baking step and just grill for 3-5 minutes on either side), and in less than 30 minutes we had a feast!
Dinner was delicious.  I'm glad we grilled because it is H.O.T. around here lately and we still haven't turned on the AC.  When dinner was finished, it only took us just a few seconds to figure out how to spend the rest of our evening...somewhere cool and dark.  There aren't any caves close by, so we opted for a movie instead.
This was Laugh-Out-Loud funny!  Our favorite part was the airplane scene!  I'm sure many of you have seen this movie by now and I would love to hear what your favorite scene was as well!  This was great humor, not so dirty like some of the other comedies out there, but full of wit and hilarity!

We were up so late last night, that I was seriously dragging this morning.  But I had an appointment with Marsha and I couldn't miss it.  So I pushed through a grueling strength session and interval workout on the treadmill.  Check it out:

The Marsha Challenge Strength Workout 2

Front and Side Crunches on Bosu Ball
Deadlift with Front and Lateral Raise (8 lb)
Squat and Curl (12 lbs)
Cable Press and Flye
Step up Lunge with Overhead Press (8 lb)
Back extension on Bosu ball

We did 15 reps of each move for 3 sets

Treadmill Interval 


1.0 incline

0-5 min                     3.0 speed
5-10                           3.5
10-12                         5.5
12-16                         3.5
16-18                         5.5
18-22                         3.5
22-24                         5.8
24-28                         3.5
28-30                         5.8
30-35                         3.5
35-40                         3.0


5 minute warm-up fast walking pace at 1.0 incline

1 minute 4.5
1 minute 5.5
1 minute 5.8
1 minute 3.5
Repeat 5 times

5 minute cool-down walking pace

It was exceptionally warm in the gym today and I was exceptionally sweaty at the end of our workout.  I just came home and slammed a Green Monster and now I really need to get some real work done.  Not the kind that involves shopping.  Boo!  Have a great Memorial Day and I hope you are at least enjoying the day off work! 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

VF Features

Sometimes I feel like the dorky blogger, you know.  I'm the one typing away on a Friday night, or sitting inside on a sunny Saturday.  I promise, I am not as lame as I seem.  It's just that I have this really cool job that allows me to play outside in the sun every other day of the week.  Also, I don't just use Fridays and Saturdays for socializing...much of my weeknights are spent eating dinner out with friends and sipping wine.  So you will excuse me as I make my third post on this gorgeous Saturday...and know that I haven't spent all day inside on the computer.  In fact, I even got out for a run with friends this morning and made it to the farmer's market!
But since this is my third post for the day I will make this short and sweet!  Here's a recap of what's been happening on VeganFaith this week!


Sunday: 1000m swim (with the hubby!)
Monday: lift and 45 minute run/walk
Tuesday: Pilates and 30 minute stationary bike (lazy girl's cardio)
Wednesday: Yoga
Thursday: rest (aka shots in the arm)
Friday: Ashley's HIIT workout (check out The Marsha Challenge HIIT for beginners)
Saturday: 5 mile run

Overall I feel really great about my workouts this week.  Helping Marsha through The Marsha Challenge has really inspired me and motivated me to get active again and clean up my diet!  This morning I even got out for a long run and it felt amazing!  I am so happy to be back in the swing of things and am feeling great about myself this week!


I haven't really bared my soul to you this week...that is until just a few short hours ago.  That was the first time I truly realized I'm a writer.  You see, blogging has never felt like writing before.  It has always felt natural, and fun...and I thought writing was supposed to be dreadful.  But when I experienced a little disappointment earlier today, the only thing I could think to do was write it all down.  Now some may say that I should keep a private journal, and not share so personally on my website.  However, this website represents my life.  The ups and the downs.  And it is just more meaningful to know that someone will be reading your words, encouraging you, praying for you...and it is nice to add photos to your stories!  So just a little while ago I shared with you how I feel about living in North Carolina vs. Missouri and while I didn't talk about God in the post, know that the Spirit was truly present in my emotions and my thoughts at that time.  I put my faith in God and know that He will comfort me and guide me. 


Where do we begin?  We have had an amazing week on VeganFaith!  I have featured so many wonderful recipes and I really hope that you enjoy them all.  But for this feature, I lead you to my Memorial Day recipes one last time!  If you decide to prepare one of these please email me and let me know how you enjoyed the recipe!


Hop on over to Foodie Fresh today and check her out!  She is so adorable and even let me write for her today!  I guess that makes 4 posts on a Saturday instead of 3.  A little excessive?

Africa is amazing, Typhoid fever is not!

Guess what?  Forbes and I received news that an anonymous donor has stepped forth and with that last donation we are FULLY FUNDED FOR OUR MISSION TRIP!  Wow!  I feel so amazing and blessed and I can't believe that in just 3 more weeks we are going to Africa!  Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we prepare for our trip.  And although we are already fully funded, we have the ability to bring extra funds with us and donate to the mission while we are there!  So we are still accepting donations.  In the coming weeks, I hope to share more information about the mission we are supporting, but the real news will come while we are there and when we return.  I won't know the extent of our work until we are actually doing it!  Stay tuned!

And have a great weekend!  Now I am off to play in the sun for said BBQ we are attending this evening.  Remember these awesome treats? 
Don't you wish you could be at this party too?

Missouri vs. North Carolina

Do you know what it feels like to be detached from your family?  Maybe to feel like you don't belong, or even on some days, like family doesn't really even exist?  Who are these people that live thousands of miles away from me, and who I feel the need to call regularly and who I will always love unconditionally? 

These are the people I spent the first 18 years of my life with.  Day in and day out, and yet in the last 9 or 10 years, I see them only on occasion.  Now a-days I am lucky if I see them once a year.  Family is a funny thing.  At least mine is. 

Moving first to Wisconsin, and then later to North Carolina was never a difficult decision for me.  Many would consider their families and toil over the thought of living so far away.  Perhaps I was self-centered, or maybe I just knew they would always be there, but it never occurred to me what moving away from home would do to the relationship I have with my parents and my sisters and brother.  So of course, my pain is no fault of theirs, only my own. 

I absolutely love my life in North Carolina and I feel so blessed to be here.  My husband and I are incredibly happy, we have an amazing church family, fantastic jobs, our friends here are first class.  I love my home, my gym, my running trails, my community.  All these are things I never really had in Missouri.  Overall my quality of life is wonderful in North Carolina, and I always consider Missouri and wonder if I could ever find all of this back there.

Of course, that would make the assumption that a quality life is possible without your family.  And is it really?  What am I missing out on that I am unaware of day to day? 

How about seeing my amazing nephew grow up?
He went from that to this in what felt like overnight!
Now he is a stunning young man who is getting ready to enter kindergarten in the fall!
I've even missed watching my little brother grow up!  I never got to see him go to prom or leave for college.
I didn't even get a chance to see his first dorm room, or attend a football game where he was part of the marching band.  In fact, I just realized that I didn't even attend his high school graduation.  And along that same note, I didn't attend my little sister's college graduation!

My little sister and I used to be inseparable.  When I moved to Wisconsin- and even more so when I left for a permanent move to North Carolina, I lost my best friend.
We lost that spark that used to exist between us.  The inside jokes, the laughs, the cries.  I don't even know her husband well, and prior to their wedding had only met him a handful of times.

But that's not all, my parents can probably count on their hands the number of times they've seen my husband.  Just the other day it was mentioned to me by a family member how she doesn't really feel like she knows him well.  How can this be?  How can the person who I spend every single day with not be well known to my other family, those I used to spend ever single day with?  How is this fair?

One of my biggest sorrows is my relationship with my older sister.  Since college we have never been super close, and now would be an amazing time to have her more in my life.  She is married and has a child, and she could be a close confidant.  Unfortunately, when I moved our lives couldn't have been more dissimilar and so we had little in common.  Our lack of relationship then, has translated into a lack of relationship now.
And then there are my parents.  The ones I am probably furthest from at this point in my life.  When I was asked to produce a photo of my dad the other day (so he could be named "Larry of the Day" for a local guitar shop in town all I could find was this one...
Of course this is an amazing photo and very classic of my dad.  The problem is that this is the last photo I have probably taken of my dad and it exists from over 5 years ago!  He is probably the one I talk to on the phone the most.  But despite our frequent conversations, there is still a gap and it wrenches my heart.  Every time the family gets together and they think to call me to tell me how I am missed, in only hurts worse.

My mom and I have been distant for some time and this is the one family relationship that hurts the most to think about.  I miss her, and I badly want to have a strong mother-daughter relationship and we are at a loss.  The distance doesn't aid us.  My mom is a strong woman and I could learn a lot from her about compassion and strength and yet we find it hard to communicate regularly.
Sometimes it is that way.  Easier not to call, not to think, not to feel.  If I miss them, then I hurt.  I see a photo like the one below and that is the image I have in my mind:
Them sitting there, arms crossed, looking at me, as if I'm the outsider and I don't fit into their mold.  I chose this.  I moved.  And now I don't feel like I belong anymore.  They don't make me feel this way; when we do talk and see each other they are excited and fill me in on their lives.  But because I am not there, I make myself feel this way. 

What is the answer?  Continue living in North Carolina, missing my family badly, wishing we still had that family bond? 
Of course, time doesn't stand still at home...and things are not the same.  This photo above is from one of the last times I saw my family altogether.  We will just call this BD...before divorce.  I hear that all of them still get together at times, but would it ever be like this?  Would we be able to sit on the couch and all be happy?  Were we even all happy then, or just smiling for a photo-op?  Who knows?

Why am I divulging this information today?  Well this morning I started to get excited about an upcoming opportunity to fly home to see my family.  Unfortunately it was met with less enthusiasm than I anticipated.  And now that I am truly considering it, I wonder if going home is really what I want as well.  It seems the longer I wait to return for a visit, the harder it becomes.  For me and for them.  I understand that I caught them off guard this morning, and I do understand that they would really love to see me, and that they love me.  So maybe it is just me now...wondering if going home would be harder than its worth.  It would require me to miss them again, to miss all the special events I haven't been home for.  To try to fit into their mold, and possibly fail.  I would also have to accept that my parents are getting a divorce and be faced with it head on. Something I'm not eager to pursue.

Maybe staying in North Carolina is just easier. 

Memorial Day Recipe Gazpacho

I am currently eating a large bowl of fresh Gazpacho in honor of the 5 miles I just ran and my guest post over at Foodie Fresh!  Hop on over to check it out...this is the last recipe in my series of Memorial Day BBQ and Picnic ideas, and I have saved the best for last!  Check it out, and thanks Kelly for letting me guest post for you today!  Have a fun trip!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Raspberry Ice Cream Cupcakes

After all those savory Memorial Day BBQ and Picnic ideas, it is about time for something a little bit sweeter.  Enter the most fantastic dessert I think I have ever made...and it was sooo easy!
These Ice Cream Cupcakes are a gem and you must try them now!  The ingredient list is pretty short and simple, and they take no time to whip together.  Forbes and I are attending a Memorial Day BBQ tomorrow and these will be my contribution.  Aren't you jealous of those attending?!

Raspberry Ice Cream Cupcakes

~12 chocolate sandwich cookies (enough for 2 cups cookie crumbs)
2 tbsp Earth Balance
1/2 cup Raspberry Jam + a little for topping
2 pints Coconut Milk Ice Cream (I used one vanilla, one chocolate), softened (or other non-dairy ice cream)
18 fresh raspberries

In food processor, chop chocolate sandwich cookies (I used Newman's Own) into a fine crumb.  Add 2 tbsp melted butter and mix until cookies resemble fine sand.  Spoon 1 tablespoon into the bottom of each cupcake paper (about 18).

Preheat oven to 350* and bake cookie "crust" for 10 minutes.  Cool completely.

In medium bowl, mix each flavor softened ice cream with 1/4 cup raspberry jam using a hand mixer.  You can combine until all mixed, or just swirled.  I used a chocolate and a vanilla ice cream for two different options, but you could do all one flavor if you prefer. 

Once cookie crust is cooled, spoon ice cream mixture evenly amongst all cupcake papers, approximately 2-3 tablespoons.  Freeze for 1 hour or overnight.

Before serving, top with a teaspoon of raspberry jam and a fresh raspberry.
And now, please excuse the photo shoot...

How are you feeling now...would you like an ice cream cupcake?  Seriously, so easy you must go make these now!  Enjoy!

Just another Friday!

Six shots in the arm calls for a special treat!  Forbes and I were so sore and lethargic after all those immunizations yesterday so we did what any normal person would do...go grocery shopping!  Grocery stores are my haven, and we had a Trader Joe's gift card to use up! 

First we stopped off at Healthy Home Market for some bulk items.  And for this root beer.  I am seriously addicted to Uncle Scott's, although it doesn't exactly fit into The Martha Challenge.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and this was a desperate time.  It was just the pick-me-up we required, and although it didn't fit into the guidelines, it is pretty darn good for a soda.  Ingredients: water, organic sugar, vanilla, cinnamon oil, caramel, wood extract (weird), licorice root, anise oil, and natural gum arabic.  It does not contain milk, egg, fish, shellfish, wheat, soy, gluten or caffeine.  Not so bad, right?

Before we left for our date grocery trip, I threw ingredients for bread in my bread maker.  The timing was perfect.  As we arrived home, a hot and fresh loaf was awaiting us!

Almost Whole Grain Bread

1 cup +1/4 cup bread flour
2 cups spelt flour
2 TBSP vital wheat gluten
2 TSP instant yeast
1 TBSP Sunflower Seeds
1 TSP sugar
1 TSP salt
1 flax egg
1 cup warm water
2 TBSP oil

In bread maker pan, pour warm water and stir in sugar.  Sprinkle yeast on top and let sit 5 minutes to activate.

In small bowl, mix together flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax meal mixed with 3 tbsp water) and let sit about 5 minutes to firm

In medium bowl whisk together flours, wheat gluten, sunflower seeds, sugar and salt.  (You can skip this step since we are using a bread maker here...I'm just weird and like to do it anyway). 

Measure oil into bread pan and pour flour mixture in.  Set your breadmaker to normal setting for 1.5 lb loaf and light crust.

The result is the most amazing sandwich bread I have ever made!  It was light and fluffy but with a wonderful crumb and delicious flavor!  I love this bread so much! 
Forbes and I each ate a slice straight out of the bread maker.  Warm and succulent!  Shmeared with butter Earth Balance and it was just perfect.  Oh I love my bread maker and this loaf!  So much I had to have it for breakfast!
I knew I had a big workout ahead of me this morning, so I went with my old breakfast staple from back when I was running marathons and crazy stuff like that!  Only instead of the peanut butter, I opted for a spread of the Not-tella.  I made a new version last night for Marsha, and this one involves no sugar, only agave and applesauce.  It should still be considered a treat, but a much healthier one!

The New Not-tella

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup Organic Apple Sauce (no sugar added)
1/2 cup Agave
1 heaping TBSP Peanut Butter (all natural, only peanuts)
water, only if needed

In food processor, combine all ingredients and process until smooth.  Add water 1 tbsp at a time until it reaches desired consistency.  Refrigerate.

After my satisfying breakfast, I met up with Marsha for another workout.  This time I revamped Ashley's High Intensity Interval Workout that I did last week to work for Marsha.  While she did this new version, I amped up my workout by increasing my speeds over last week's!

Marsha's High Intensity Interval Workout
beginner/intermediate intervals

10 minute warm-up on the treadmill @ 4.0

2 minutes treadmill (speed):
     1 minute 4.0 (1.0 incline)
     1 minute 5.5-5.9 (1.0 incline)

pushups/plank for 2 minutes

2 minutes treadmill (hills):
     1 minute 3.0 incline, 4.0 pace
     1 minute 6.0 incline, 4.0 pace

tricep dips for 2 minutes

2 minute treadmill speed

alternate lunges with overhead press (10 lbs)

2 minute treadmill hills

plie squat with bicep curls (12 lbs)

2 minute treadmill speed

Dead lift, alternating front and lateral raise (8 lbs)

For further descriptions of this workout please comment or email.  

Disclaimer: I am not a certified personal trainer and do not have a background in physiology.  I created this workout based on past experience.  Please use your own judgment and use at your own risk.

I had meetings all morning in Statesville after my workout with Marsha today, so I showered at the gym and busied with work.  By the time I made it home after 1pm, I was famished.  So I whipped together this ultra-large salad that totally hit the spot.
All of the food in this house has been very Mexican-inspired lately.  I find that when I'm surviving on pantry staples in between grocery store trips, it is usually the Mexican-esque ingredients that are left: frozen corn, black beans, tomatoe sauce, etc. 

Well I am off to make a delicious dessert for a BBQ I am attending tomorrow...so stay tuned for another Memorial Day Recipe!  Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Memorial Day Recipe Orzo Pasta Salad

Today, I am sharing with you one of my favorite picnic-style salads.  It is such a wonderful mix of all the things I love in life and is fresh and delicious!  Enjoy!
This pasta salad is inspired by the orzo salad at Signe's Bakery in Hilton Head Island.  On our way out of town, Forbes and I stopped by Signe's to pick up a few different things for a picnic mid-roadtrip.  This was by far the main attraction of our picnic, and will be at your Memorial Day gathering!

Orzo Pasta Salad

2 cups cooked orzo pasta (follow package instructions)
1 can mandarin oranges, drained (juice reserved)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup dried cranberries (Craisins)
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped (white and light green parts only)
1/2 cup almond slices 
juice from Mandarin oranges (no more than 2 tbsp)

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 garlic clove

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and rinse under cool water.

While cooking, whisk together juice from mandarin oranges, olive oil, vinegar, sugar and garlic.

Toss rinsed orzo with oranges, cranberries, cilantro, green onions, and almond slices.  Stir in dressing.  Chill for up to 2 days (flavors will come together more as it sits) and serve.

This is a great make-ahead item and will keep for several days!  If it dries out in the fridge, toss in a little extra vinegar and oil to bring it back to life.