Half-Yearly Favorites

Since it’s now over half-way through the year, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite things as of late (both food and non-food related).

Here’s 5 things that might just make your life a little better, like they did mine….

1) Fage Greek Yogurt with Fruit (pronounced Fa-yeh!)

This stuff is unreal, it is so good. I have to have it every morning. I mean it. If I don’t, the whole day is out of whack. It’s got the protein to get you going and keep you full, it’s slightly sweet, and just plain good.

They sell the variety pack at Costco and it’s the best price around. I usually buy 2- 12 packs at a time…. I told you, I have to have it!

2) Vitamins… the gummy variety. (Vitafusion brand)

I have never been so calcium filled in my life. These gummies are so good, you will swear you are eating candy.

They have the multi-vitamin version as well. Obviously, I eat those too. They have 10-30 calories for 2… I just pretend its zero. But in all seriousness, I read a news article just recently that discussed the absorption ratios between the vitamin varieties. With vitamins in pill form absorption is about 10-20% and Gummy vitamins are close to 50%! ( I don’t know if this is exact science but you can digest it better and what’s more… no upset stomach!)

It just so happens, I also get them at Costco*, even though I have seen them around at other stores, their price can’t be beat.

* This is not a Costco endorsed blog post, I swear.

3) Morning Quiet Time and Bible Study

MUST also involve a nice hot mug of coffee…

After my Bible study ended in May, I knew I needed something else to help me keep my routine of being in the Word daily. My aunt recommended Charles Stanley’s In Touch magazine. It’s a monthly magazine that has short daily readings with commentary and one longer 15-20 minute study AND it’s free. Just go to the In Touch website and sign up. (You will get the occasional mailing asking for donations, but it’s worth it.)

4) Amazon Mp3 store

Recently I was looking to buy a few albums online and remembered my mom had given me an Mp3 CD from Amazon so I thought I’d check out what they had before purchasing on iTunes. I am so glad I did. There are daily deals and I found most of what I was looking for priced at around $5… and that’s the whole CD!

…And I was looking on Friday and the daily deal was Justin Bieber – Believe for $1.99. You’re darn right I bought it… I just can’t shake this fever… Bieber Fever.

The best part, once you launch the download, it automatically goes into your iTunes. Bam.

Here’s some of what I’m loving to listen to at the moment:

Luke Bryan – Drunk on You – Tailgates & Tanlines – It’s my unofficial-official song and album of summer. (or is it official-unofficial? You know what I mean.)

Blind Pilot – Keep You Right – We Are the Tide- This is a recent addition, it’s a little Indie and I can’t take credit for ‘discovering’ them but this Portland based group just makes good music. It is the perfect background music during a mundane day at work.

Florence and the Machine – the entire Ceremonials album – If you ever have the chance to see her live, you have to go. It may just be one of the best concerts I have ever been to. I didn’t think this was possible but she sounds even better live than on CD.

Josh Abbott Band – Some good ol’ Texas country, enough said. Oh and he has some amazing duets from all of his albums including Good Night for Dancing and Oh, Tonight.

One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful – It’s my guilty pleasure. Let’s leave it at that.

5) Shhhhooooooeeeessss (aka: Kicks, Sneaks, etc.)

Back in the early 00’s, I had a shoe obsession. It died out a little as I started running more and more and found it more and more difficult to find shoes that were comfortable. Well… it’s back.

I got 2 pairs of these Nike Free 5.0 at the Nordstrom anniversary sale (the other pair is purple). It feels like I’m wearing slippers.  The first wear for these bad boys was at the Florence and the Machine concert and I could have danced all night.

The sale goes through August 5th.* Just in case your interested.

*This is also NOT a paid Nordstrom advertisement.

Can’t wait to see what the last half of the year brings!

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Hiking and Almond Granola

After living in the Seattle area for 2 years… I finally ventured to hike the infamous Mt. Si on Saturday! I went with a co-worker turned friend and another great friend and frequent hiking partner-in-crime/sweat.

4 miles up and 3,150 ft. of elevation gain gets you this. Well not this exactly… take the three of us out and that’s what you get.

We booked it up the mountain, climbing the first 4 miles in an hour and 40 minutes. Yeah that’s right, all 3,150 feet elevation gain. The average time up is about 2.5 hours. Let’s just say, no one passed us.

Talk about timing, we got up to the top and had a view of Mt. Rainier for about 5 minutes and then the clouds rolled in.  (You can see it just faintly). The panting, “let’s uh talk uh later uh because uh I can’t uh breathe” moments, and unreal amounts of sweat (so sexy) were worth it.

The 4 miles down, we took a more stroll-like pace, laughing and chatting. I’d imagine the people going up were probably extremely perturbed at those “happy laughing girls.” We’re ladies… get it straight.

“Hey, you guys look at those pretty berries.”

“Oh, oh, and those moss-covered trees are so cool! I’ve got to take a picture.” It’s all about appreciating the flora and fauna, folks. AND I’m so turning into my mother, she’s never seen a rock that didn’t catch her eye.

What better to do after 8 miles? Make granola, duh.

If I had thought this through a little more, I would have made granola in time for a pre-hike breakfast but hindsight’s always 20-20, as long as I’ve got my contacts in.

Start with the dry goods. Oats, coconut, raisins, almonds, wheat germ (not pictured, I forgot about it until step 3), cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg and a dash of ginger.

Add in the wet. Agave nectar and canola oil.

Mix the dry and the wet ingredients all together. Is it weird that I thought this tasted good? Post-hike delusion maybe?

Spread it on a lined baking sheet in one thin layer and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until golden in color.

Serve with your favorite yogurt, by itself, or some nice cold milk.

Raisin Almond Granola

This is a combination and tweaking of multiple recipes so I could get what I really liked. 🙂

2 c. Rolled Oats (not quick cooking)

1 c. Slivered Almonds

1 c. Raisins

1/2 c. Wheat Germ

1 tsp. Cinnamon

Dash Nutmeg and Ginger (about 1/8 tsp. each)

1/2 c. Agave Nectar

1/3 c. Canola Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, combine all of the dry ingredients. Add add the oil and agave and mix to combine. Make sure everything is well coated with the oil and agave mixture.

Spread in one thin layer onto a parchment (or foil) lined backing sheet and place in the oven. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until golden, mixing and turning 2-3 times during the cooking process.

Let cool and store in an airtight container for up to week.

Pizza Partay!

The other day, May 26th to be exact was my birthday.

It’s a holiday weekend. Coincidentally, my birthday falls on or around Memorial Day every year… that’s the OTHER holiday of the weekend. It makes it a very convenient weekend for a quick trek home.

The first night there… I got quite the surprise when my cousin and her husband surprised me from Texas!

The morning of my birthday, I got my hair cut for the first time 9 months! The afternoon of my birthday, we went for a nice hike around Liberty Lake. Nothing like an 8.5 mile hike to make you feel 25. AND I did the whole thing without a hair-tie!

The night of my birthday, we had CAKE and other delicious food, insignificant in comparison. My request to my mother was very specific, a Rosauers (local grocery store with scratch bakery) white cake, white buttercream icing, with white and blue flowers ALL over. Rosauers homemade buttercream is a game changer. Your life will be forever changed and you’ll just want more buttercream. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure you can make a great cake from scratch on your own but it ain’t no Rosauers cake.

I have come to terms that I get a little obsessive about my sweets, it’s genetic…blame my mother.

Besides the cake… all weekend we ate real good, including personal sized pizzas from the grill.

At the Turner household, we spare no expense (calorie). The pizza toppings including some of my favorites: Mushrooms, Zucchini, Olives (Green, Kalamata, and Black), Jalepenos, Artichokes, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Pesto and CHEESE.

The dough recipe is simple. Find yourself a Trader Joe’s and pick up a couple bags of whole wheat pizza dough. That’s it!

The hardest part is dividing it up evenly into 4-6 pieces (depending on how big you want your pizza) and then letting it rise at room temp. for 20 minutes. Why is waiting always the hardest part?!?

Once it has risen, start to work it into the shape you desire. It’s likely it won’t come out perfectly round… don’t stress, it all adds to the “rustic” effect.

After adding all the toppings… transfer it to the grill (I spaced getting a picture). This part can be tricky, at least that is what my dad said. I’m too afraid of making someones perfect circle a giant blob, so I “passed the buck” and just watched.  Tip: Make sure to flour the bottom of the dough to transfer from plate to grill more easily. Using a paper plate will help it slide off easier too!

15-20 minutes later on the grill-turned-pizza-oven (see details below) and the wait is finally over!

Easy, delicious, fun for a group, and perfect for a summer night on the patio.

Here’s how to do it…

Grilled Personal Pizzas

Servings: Makes 8 large personal sized or 12 small/medium sized.

Ingredients:

2 packages prepared whole wheat pizza dough (Trader Joe’s is fantastic)

Toppings of your choice. See list above and/or add the following:

  • Marinara/Pizza Sauce if Pesto isn’t your thing.
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Mini Turkey Pepperoni and Canadian Bacon are great additions if you are a meat lover.

8 bricks

Foil

Directions:

Prepare the pizza dough according to package cutting into the desired number of pieces, up to the point of baking.

Add the sauce and toppings, putting the cheese last to seal it all in once it bakes.

Prepare the grill. Wrap the bricks completely in foil and place on the grill rack. (My family just has a stack of bricks that stay wrapped). Fire up the grill and close the lid to heat the brick and make an oven-like atmosphere. You’re looking for a temperature of 350 degrees or so. If its hotter, it will just take less time to cook.

Gently and quickly transfer the prepared pizza to the grill bricks. Close the grill quickly after the transfer to limit the amount of heat lost.  Cook for 15-20 minutes or until pizza is crisp but not burnt.

Remove from the grill, slice, and enjoy!