Monday, September 27, 2010


A long time ago, long before I discovered running, I had another obsession love.

I was never a great tennis player, but I enjoyed playing and that's what matters the most, right? The sound of a new can of tennis balls being opened, hearing the ball as it hits the sweet spot of my racquet, watching as a ball zips just past the top of the net...LOVE.

Jamie was so kind to bring my trusty racquet when he flew out here over Labor Day and I finally busted it out this weekend. This racquet and I go way back. 15 years ago (15?! For real?!) my mom let me take tennis lessons and I was hooked. My racquet has been with me since day one and has seen me through some pretty sweet shots as well as some teen angsty/un-sportsmanshipy moments. Note that the picture cuts of the top of the frame...many a paint chip was left on high school tennis courts. Sorry buddy, I won't beat you up anymore.

Selin and I met up late Sunday to work up a little bit of an appetite before we started on this week's mystery box dinner. It's been awhile since I last hit a ball around and boy was it frustrating trying to get back into things. I also started feeling really old. I used to be able to run and dive for shots like no one's, not so much ;)

After about a half hour of hitting, we headed back to check out the contents of this week's mystery box and plan dinner. It was like a mini Iron Chef episode haha. In this week's box: Genovese basil, Fino Verde Basil, peppers, cherry tomatoes, Early Girl tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, kale, dates and wax beans.

We brainstormed for a bit and settled on making a Kabocha Squash and Kale Risotto with a Beet and Fennel Salad. Best part about this list only had 5 items on it. FIVE! And that included wine.

Kabocha Squash and Kale Risotto
1.5 c arborio rice
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1.5 c kale, chopped
1/2 kabocha squash, chopped
1/2 onion, minced
6 c chicken broth, warmed
1/4 c parmesan, shredded

Heat butter and olive oil in a large saucepan. Saute onion for 1 minute. Add squash and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add kale and cook covered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in rice and cook for 1 minute, making sure all grains are coated. Pour in 2 cups of chicken broth and cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring frequently. Pour in 1 cup of broth and cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring frequently. Continue until all 6 cups of broth are used.

Season lightly with salt and pepper and stir in parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Beet and Fennel Salad
3-4 beets, roasted and sliced
1 bulb fennel, shaved
handful wax beans, blanched and sliced
white balsamic vinegar
sheep's milk feta

Combine in a bowl and serve chilled.

Fabulous Sunday night dinner!

I woke up this morning with a very strange urge to bust out the tennis racquet again. Since I knew it would be too hot to run (and by too hot, I mean like barely 80 degrees. I'm a baby.) I packed my racquet and clothes for a post-work workout. I took note of the ball wall yesterday and was determined to put in at least 30 minutes of hitting and running time.

Um, I was surprisingly sweaty and it felt SOOO good. It's been a long time since I've done a non-running sweat sesh! To close out the evening, I hiked up my hills instead of bussing home and watched as the sun set on this wonderfully clear evening!

Tonight's dinner was an experiment with quinoa pasta. Eh.

Quinoa Pasta Salad
1 package quinoa pasta shells, cooked
1/2 english cucumber, sliced into discs and quartered
2 Early Girl tomatoes, chopped
1 green pepper, diced
8 peppadew peppers, chopped
2 links chicken sausage, cooked, sliced into discs and halved
3 tbsp basil, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp champagne vinegar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1.5 tbsp olive oil

Whisk basil, garlic, vinegars, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.

Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl and slowly pour in dressing to coat everything. Chill for 10-15 minutes before serving.

I was disappointed with this quinoa pasta thing. I love quinoa. I love corn. Both are in these little gluten free nuggets! I think they have a weird texture that I'm just not feeling. I paid close attention to them so they wouldn't overcook (the package says in big bold letters 'DO NOT OVERCOOK') and I think they're still too hard. They're funky. Blech.

I'd totally sub in regular pasta or even brown rice pasta next time because the rest of this salad ROCKS. The garlic and basil dressing AND the piquant peppadews were AWESOME. Yuuummy.

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