[Get Away] Clear Lake

It’s Friday! But I’m bringing it back to last weekend when we took a mini get away to Clear Lake. We stayed at our friend’s Lauren’s parents lake house for a weekend of sun, swimming, food, and fun. (rhyme)

This is our second trip up to Clear Lake this summer, with significantly better weather this time (although, I didn’t mind a cozy weekend at the lake a few weeks ago either). Lauren, her boyfriend, Ian, Mike and I left on Friday evening after a quick dinner at BierHaus. The lake is only a ~3 hour drive from Mountain View and we were lucky not to hit any traffic. We arrived at the house around 10:30pm and after quickly catching up with Lauren’s parents, retired to our room for the night. Lauren and her family are gracious hosts and let Mike and I stay in the other master bedroom the house has, complete with en-suite bathroom, a king size bed, and access to the deck with a beautiful view of the lake. I sleep like a royalty every time we go!

On Saturday we had a quick breakfast of bagels, melon, coffee, tea, and booch before taking the boat out on the water. Mike and Ian did a bit of wakeboarding and Lauren water skied. I stayed on the boat and was the Flag Girl; which means anytime someone is in the water and they aren’t being pulled by the boat, the flag has to be in the air to signal to other boats one of our people is in the water, watch out.

Sounds easy enough but there were a few times when I was too absorbed in watching that I forgot to hold up the flag when someone went down. Luckily, Deb (Lauren’s mom) is a pro and would remind me every time.


After a while out on the lake, we headed back to the house. We grabbed an array of tubes and one particularly giant swan and hit the lake again; jumping off the dock and chilling out but avoiding the seaweed (lakeweed?) at.all.costs.

Starving after all of our activity we headed inside for a nom lunch. Deb put out a delicious spread of shrimp, chicken wings, avocado, local tomatoes, bread, and black bean and sausage soup. I wish I’d snapped a picture but hunger took priority.

We let our food digest and then it was back out on the boat. This time, for tubbing! Lauren and I were scared to go with our S.O.s, in fear that they would think it was funny to push us off, so we insisted on going together. The boys went first and it was pretty funny seeing how small the tube looked under these 2 grown men.

Lauren and I were next and, omg, what an adventure! We basically just screamed the entire time, hoping not to drift out of the wake; where there are rollers that either send you flying or catching air and slamming back down on the tube. It sounds aggressive but it was fun! After we each went individually, Lauren’s dad expertly driving the boat each round.

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Wearing goggles to protect my contactsūüėõ


We watched the sunset with glasses of wine and bottles of beer on the deck. Then had a delicious dinner of fish tacos and black beans. Dinner was later and I didn’t stay up much for much longer after, exhausted from all of the time spent in the sun and water.

The next morning we got up early and took the boat to breakfast. I wish I could commute everywhere by boat! There’s something v meditative about being surrounded by water.

Breakfast was delish but the service was soo slow. Like, they didn’t charge us for our drinks it was that slow. Oh, well. We packed up and headed back right when we got back. Making record time on the way home too.

Smashed Pea Bruschetta

Have you ever made a recipe that made you want to throw a party just to make it again for all of your friends? That’s what happen to me with this smashed pea bruschetta. Seriously nom and so easy.

Each bite was a perfect combination of creamy (I’m looking at you, ricotta) and crunchy (toasted sourdough, whatsup); not to mention¬†those¬†powerhouse peas (so many vitamins and minerals!) and bits of basil really bringing out the flavor.

This recipe is going into the favorites box, y’all! I love that it is versatile¬†too. It can be a simple, light, delicious¬†dinner on a hot summer night or a lovely start to a dinner party with friends. You can also pair it with grilled shrimp or a big, giant salad for a more hearty meal (or soup in the winter). The¬†ingredients are few but the options are plenty. Double win.

Note: I served this with a side of sautéed spinach and mushrooms to stay in line with my 3 meals in 15 ingredients.

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Smashed Pea Bruschetta

Prep time: 10 minutes* ‚Äď Cook time: 5minutes ‚Äď Servings: 2

*I used frozen peas and defrosted them in the refrigerator the night before

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup peas
  • 1/2 ricotta
  • 5 – 6 basil leaves, chopped finely
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced (optional)
  • 4 slices¬†sourdough bread
  • S&P to taste

Directions: 

  • While bread is toasting….
  • Smash peas! I used the¬†pestle (from our mortar) to smash them
  • Add ricotta, chopped basil, and S&P
  • Scoop onto toasted bread and top with sliced tomatoes
  • Serve

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#vegvibes

Pea and Parmesan Farro

Have you cooked with farro before? They sell it at Trader Joe’s and it’s great when you want to mix things up.

Farro has a slightly nutty taste and a chewy consistency, almost like gnocchi. I make it with vegetable broth to add more flavor and learned by trail and error not to follow the instructions on the little blue bag (more on that below).

Basically farro is yummy, cheap, and versatile. I made this dish with peas and a side of roasted vegetables, all that came from my list of 15 ingredients! (If you prep and cut your vegetables before, the prep time for this one is basically non-existent. All about that!)

There were plenty of leftovers which can be paired with toast (also on the list) for another easy meal.

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Pea and Parmesan Farro

Prep time: 0 – 5 minutes¬†‚Äď Cook time: 15 – 20 minutes ‚Äď Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 package farro
  • 1 box vegetable broth
  • 1 cup peas (I used frozen)
  • Optional: veggies to roast as a side

Directions: 

  • The bag of farro instructs you to cook the grain like rice, covered and simmering in boiling water. I like to use veg broth because it give it more flavor. I still simmer it but leave the pot without a lid so the steam can evaporate. It you don’t want to do this method, feel free to go by the insturctions listed on the package ūüôā
  • When the farro has absorbed all of the broth (~20 minutes), I added my cup of frozen peas and have it a good stir to heat the peas through
  • Plate and top with parm
  • Re. a side, while my farro was simmering, I roasted zucchini and mushrooms, which gave us enough farro for leftovers! Refrigerate to reheat and serve with sourdough toast – on the list of 15 ingredients! – for another quick weeknight meal

 

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#vegvibes

Summer Style Zucchini Lasagna

When I think of lasagna, a few memories rush to¬†mind…

I remember¬†visiting my grandparents on winter breaks and opening their freezer to boxes of Stouffer’s Lasagna. In between breaks from playing Barbies and Briarberry bears (did anyone else play with these?!) I would tear open a red cardboard box and pop that plastic try of noodles, cheese, and marinara sauce in the microwave. A few minutes later, BAM, piping hot lasagna waiting for me to eat before blissfully going back to playing make believe.

I also remember Mike picking me up in the first few months of us dating for dinner in North Beach, the Italian district in San Francisco. We went to a cozy little restaurant¬†and sat at a table for two by the window. I¬†ordered the lasagna and probably broke some dating “rule” by finishing every last bite. Who can resist melty cheese and carbohydrates? Not this girl.

Lastly, I distinctly remember the first time I made my own lasagna and packed it with as many veggies as I could. Carrots in the sauce! Spinach in the ricotta! (Arguably healthier than the Stouffer’s and North Beach variety.) Bless Mike for eating my cooking without complaint!

My point is, I love me some good layered lasagna! But it’s a dish that screams WINTER. I wanted to lighten it up for the warmer months and knew replacing the noddles with lighter zucchini would do the trick!

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pro tip: let a paper towel absorb the water in your zucchini before baking



Summer Style Zucchini Lasagna

Prep time: 20 minutes¬†‚Äď Cook time: 40 minutes ‚Äď Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 3 – 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 – 7 small zucchini sliced in long thin pieces*
  • 4 – 5 small ripe JUICY tomatoes (if you can’t find any, a strained can of fire-roasted tomatoes will do
  • 1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup roughly chopped spinach
  • 3/4 cup ricotta¬†cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

* Important step: after you slice the zucchini, place the stripes on paper towels for ~20 minutes to absorb some of the water *

Directions:

  • Saut√© the minced garlic in olive oil until fragrant
  • ¬†Add mushrooms and tomatoes (getting all of the seeds and juice in there to give it more of a sauce consistency)
  • While your sauce is cooking, add chopped spinach to ricotta and mix well
  • After mushrooms and tomatoes are cooked, spread a thin layer on the bottom of a pan (I used a small enough one for two but the size will depend on how much you’re making)
  • Layer zucchini slices on top of sauce and then the spinach and ricotta cheese mixture
  • Top with mushrooms and tomatoes
  • Repeat 3/4 times, depending on how many zucchini you have
  • Top with parmesan cheese
  • Bake at 350 for 40 minutes

#vegvibes

3 meals, 15 ingredients

I live by meal planning. In my opinion, it is the most useful resource for eating well. Meal planning can help you eat healthier and save money. Winning.

There are a lot of meal services out there today, like Blue Apron and HelloFresh, but I’m sticking by doing my own meal planning and grocery shopping. I know it’s not feasible for everyone but if you can meal plan, shop, and prep yourself, you will be creating less waste – which is important for our globe’s health.

I’ve been planning weekday dinners for so long now, I have my system down pat (you can read about it here) but I wanted to post something that could help others who have never planned a weekly dinner menu.

I think starting with a simple base of ingredients is helpful. I’ve created 3 NOM meals with just 15 ingredients. Literally everything you need for these dinners is included below. How simple is that?!

I purchased mostly everything at my local Trader Joe’s but there aren’t really any specific ingredients that can’t be found another grocery store. And odds are, you’ll probably have a few things in your kitchen already.

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Not photographed: sourdough bread and frozen peas

I bought enough for 2 people for 3 unique meals + one “leftovers meal.” If you’re flyin’ solo or have a bigger household, you’ll have to adjust the quantities.

Now, without further ado, your shopping list:

  1. Loaf of sourdough bread (or something else crusty and good for toast)
  2. Garlic (to mince)
  3. Bag of spinach
  4. Package of zucchini (2-3 big zucs or 7-8 small ones)
  5. Peas (I bought frozen)
  6. Box of mushrooms (about one cup)
  7. 8 Р10 small tomatoes
  8.  Small bag of farro (mine had 8.8 ounces in it)
  9. Veg broth
  10. One container ricotta cheese
  11. One container parmesan cheese (I got big hunks of it)
  12. Olive oil
  13. Lemons
  14. Salt & pepper
  15. Basil

Below are the 3 recipes I made with the above 15 ingredients. Check back soon for all of the recipes. ūüôā


Nom #1

Summer Style Zucchini Lasagna and toast 

A lighter twist on the traditional comforting lasagna. This recipe is packed with veggies so it doesn’t call for much cheese. The noodles are replaced¬†with zucchini. Additionally, I didn’t use a jarred sauce to save on sodium intake. Talk about a great summer dish!

Nom #2

Pea and Parmesan Farro with side of roasted veg

This recipe is quick and satisfying! Plus, it makes a lot so half of it can be saved and used for another meal. It looks and tastes fancier than it is; with the nutty farro and decadent parmesan, plus the peas give it a nice splash of green.

Nom #3

Smashed Pea Bruschetta with sautéed spinach and mushrooms

This dish! All of the nom and flavor and perfection. The flavors burst. It’s creamy with a perfect crunch. It is probably my favorite creation. And, bonus points, it’s easy-peasy (pun intended).


Meeting Jillian Michaels

One of my favorite perks about working at Google is this thing called Talks at Google¬†(you can check out the YouTube channel here to see all of the guests) because you get to see and hear from a lot of interesting people. Authors, chefs, celebs, scientists, politicians – you name it – come to Google to give a talk about an array of topics. Most notably, I’ve met Conrad Anker,¬†Kathy Griffin¬†and today, Jillian Michaels!

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The Talk was recorded and will be on YouTube in a few weeks but I wanted to quickly recap it here on my blog. Jillian was surprisingly funny, shorter than I expected, and swore a lot (which I like in a lady!).

She talked about diets, fitness, her life, and shared a few Biggest Loser stories. My biggest take away was her emphasis on eating well and eating clean. (I know, I know, preaching to the choir…) She stressed 2 rules; 1. eat real food (no chemicals or artificial ingredients!) and 2. don’t overeat.

Uh, secret to life-happiness, much?

It was refreshing not to have one particular diet preached about. Her words were something along the lines of “your diet is like your religion, it’s a personal choice. Buddhist? Great! Vegan? Awesome! Paleo? Fantastic!

I read somewhere that people can get so defensive about their diet and how they eat because it is literally an extension of life. No food? No life. I think we all want to believe that we are making the best choices for our bodies –¬†and our lives –¬†so, when someone questions the food choices we make, it hits close to home.

Jillian was basically like, eat real food but not too much of it, and you’re golden.

Your body. Your choice. Your religion.

Ahem, sister.

When asked about working out, she told us the most effective workout is “the workout you actually do.” Again, it was refreshing at how transparent and real she was. She did mention avoiding repetitive workouts because our bodies adapt to stress but, aside from that, she wasn’t there trying to sell us on her methods of working out. Instead, she just stressed the importance of simply moving.

Which brings me to how funny/weird it was hearing her voice and not associating it with doing more jumping jacks… I’ve owned her 30 Day Shred workout DVD for years and still occasionally pop it in if I need a quick, good workout.

Jillian also talked about if you can figure out your why, it makes the how a lot easier. She mentioned it in the terms of working out, as in, if your why is to live a long life for your kids (…or to be in good shape before you have babies like mine is;) your how –¬†being active, going to the gym, etc. – is going to be easier.

I think establishing your why to make your how easier can be applied in many instances and is a powerful perspective shift.

The last tidbit I will write about is a funny story she told about what she says to her kids when they want crap food. If her kids ask for something like an Otterpop (which are loaded with artificial food colors), she explains to them that eating it would be similar to eating one of their markers with sugar sprinkled on top. Genius!

I think breaking down why a¬†food isn’t good for kids (would you eat a marker??) is a great way to explain how some foods should be avoided. …Do you see what I did there?

ūüėČ

 

Friday Favorites

theSkimm

Have you heard of this email newsletter? It’s amazing and literally life changing. A friend told me about it during the U.S. election but I never got around to signing up for it. Huge mistake! I’ve since jumped¬†on the bandwagon and happily enjoy my morning coffee while skimming theSkimm. It’s an easy, digestible way to read about what’s happening around the world. Plus, it was started and run by 2 females. Love that.

If you aren’t signed up yet, please use the following URL to do so: http://www.theskimm.com/?r=1fc5ccbc

Weekend Get Aways

Last weekend Mike and I spent some time at Squaw, our favorite place to escape to (read about other trips here, here, and here). It was the epitome of a relaxing weekend. We slept in on Saturday morning before walking to lunch. The weather was perfect for a long walk (before a large pizza!). After lunch we spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool. Again, perfect weather for dipping between the pool and hot tub (wine in hand).

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We did a quick happy hour in the resort’s lobby and nibbled on our favorite cheese, Humboldt Fog, before getting massages. Then we went to Six Peaks for a fancy, yummy dinner.

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Cocktails and cheese

On Sunday we woke up early for a last dip in the pool. We left right after check out and met my dad at the Auburn Alehouse. It was such a good weekend. I barley took any pictures, left tons of texts unread, and just enjoyed my time unplugging and relaxing with Mike.

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Pastries by the pool!

It makes me think a no-phone vacation might be the new way to go…

Sparkling lemon h20

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I picked up these bad boys on a whim at Trader Joe’s and love them! They are literally just sparkling water and lemon juice. No added nuthin’! They’re great to have after dinner if you’re still wanting a little something more sans sugar, cals, or alcohol.

POPSUGAR fitness YouTube videos

I love YouTube and how easy it has made working out! You can find hundreds of good, FREE classes to do in the comforts of your own home. I tried this¬†Muffin-Top-Melter¬†class¬†a few weeks ago and worked muscles I didn’t even know I had.

I also really like Yoga with Adriene, Bad Yogi, and Jessica Smith TV

Stone fruit

Nom nom. What’s better than stone fruit season? I’ve always loved peaches¬†and nectarines and any fruit with a “stone” in the middle, really. ¬†Lucky for me, there are brimming bowls at work. I’ve been eating one a day and I’m not complaining about it.

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