Maybe Some Rice Noodle Salad For Dinner Tonight?

Maybe allergies are kicking my butt. I woke up yesterday with my ears completely clogged and everything sounded like I was underwater. I generally just didn’t feel great. So after I got home from picking up the 12 year old from school and it was time to make dinner, I was thankful I had planned on making this simple Rice Noodle Salad With Cucumber, Peanuts, and Basil. It took about 20 minutes from start to finish and there was absolutely no cooking involved. If you’re lucky, you have a kid that likes to cook and will make the dressing for you while you sit comfortably. This would make for a perfect summertime supper when it’s just too hot to turn on the stove. The recipe also fits with our Meatless Monday plans, which I would say we adhere to about 90% of the time. Going meatless once a week can reduce your risk of preventable diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce our carbon footprint. Plus, it’s generally cheaper to make a meatless meal. Win/win!

Asian Noodle Salad Meatless Monday

The original recipe came from Redbook Magazine but I made some changes to the recipe and adapted it, so here’s my version:

Rice Noodle Salad With Cucumber, Peanuts, and Basil

THE SALAD:

6 oz pad thai rice noodles

1/4 medium purple cabbage

1/2 sliced english cucumber

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

4 scallions, white and green parts sliced

1/2-1 cup fresh basil and cilantro, chopped

1 cup chopped peanuts, cashews or almonds

Sesame seeds

THE DRESSING:

1/4 cup lime juice (I love buying Santa Cruz organic bottled lime juice. It’s just so much easier)

3 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

2 tsp soy sauce

2 tsp honey

1/2 tsp garlic powder

HOW TO:

Pour hot water over noodles to cover and let sit for about 5 minutes, until softened. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, cut all the veggies up into thin slices, place the nuts in a baggie and whack them with a rolling pin to “chop”, and whisk together the dressing ingredients. Assemble the salads, drizzle dressing over the top, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. ENJOY!

NOTE: If you want more protein in your salad, it would be very easy to add rotisserie chicken, tofu, shrimp or any leftover meat you have. Maybe it’ll become a new family favorite.

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Maybe I Need To Make Rosa Parks’ Peanut Butter Pancakes

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Weekend Cocktails! The Cucumber Sangria

weekend-cocktails

The most astute readers of this blog will notice that this week’s Friday Cocktails feature is actually being posted on a Saturday. Gasp. Occasionally these things happen and I like to think that it keeps everyone on their toes.

But wait, there’s more! My very good friend (and ultra savvy fellow cocktail admirer) Catherine graciously agreed to write a guest post this week. It’s my first guest post! Catherine and I are equally ardent in our appreciation of a well-crafted cocktail. So when she texted me the other day telling me about a delicious new recipe she tried, I asked if she would write about it.  Read on for Catherine’s review of Cucumber Sangria:

I love reading the Cultivate Wellness Friday Cocktails series, and I have thoroughly enjoyed trying most of them.  (In fact, the most recent entry in that series — the Aviation — has changed my cocktail life.  It is a perfect, extraordinarily delicious cocktail.)  That is why, when I made the Cucumber Sangria I’m about to tell you about, I immediately texted Melanie to tell her that I thought it would be perfect for Friday Cocktails.  And I am thrilled to share it as a guest today at Cultivate Wellness.  Thank you for having me!  
This sangria is refreshing and the combination of the cool, fresh, grassy flavor of the cucumber and the sweetness of the honeydew is truly delightful.  The sangria also is not overly boozy, and since we were serving it on a weeknight for my sister’s birthday celebration, this was a perfect mix for us.  I love that the sangria uses seasonal produce, and I happened to have almost all of the ingredients on hand — cucumber and mint from our garden, and melon from our CSA.  I am sure that the sugary ripeness of the melon, which was perfectly in season, contributed to the success of the cocktail.  So, without further ado, here is the recipe for the Cucumber Sangria (click to link to the original recipe, featured in Better Homes & Gardens).
Enjoy your weekend! Cheers!
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Friday Cocktails: The Aviation

 

Aviation_cherry_(6127689536)

It’s Friday, and I’ve missed a couple weeks of Friday Cocktails but I am making it up with a whammy of a cocktail that I’ve recently fallen in love with. The Aviator was presented to me last Sunday evening and upon the first sip I knew it would be a keeper.

To back up a bit, I was given a bottle of Luxardo maraschino liqueur for my birthday by my neighbors because I love all things cherry.  Lest you think this is some neon-red concoction full of artificial everything, you should know that maraschino liqueur is a clear liqueur made from special maraschino cherries that has been produced by Luxardo (first in convents in Croatia, then in Italy) since the early 1800’s.  It’s got a fantastic flavor profile and while it is sweet, it’s not cloyingly so.

Since that fateful gift, I have sought out any cocktail I could find that features my new favorite liqueur. I looked at a cocktail menu last Sunday and there it was: The Aviator.  I love the bright flavor from the fresh squeezed lemons. I love the crispiness of the gin. And I love the sweetness from the maraschino liqueur. My  husband, who doesn’t love sweet drinks, thought it was really nice.

I am planning on making this for friends over the long holiday weekend and will look forward to hearing what they think.

One note: some versions of the Aviation include Crème de Violette to make it blue like the sky. I haven’t tried that version, and since I love the Aviation the way I tried it, I think i’ll keep it that way.

So, here it is. Buckle up, this is a strong cocktail that is best sipped! 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 ounces gin
  • 3/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • Maraschino cherry (optional)

METHOD:

Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice.

Shake, and strain into a cocktail glass. I like to pour it over an ice ball so that it stays nice and cold.

Garnish with a cherry if desired.

NOTE: I have not been compensated for mentioning Luxardo in my post. I simply really enjoy the product!

You might also like:

Friday Cocktails: The Caipirinha!

Friday Cocktails: The Great Gatsby

Friday Cocktails: The French Pear

Friday Cocktails! The Hot-As-Heck Margarita

Friday Cocktails

If you live in the U.S. chances are you’ve endured one of the hottest weeks in a very long time.  Here in the north, we’ve had 115 degree heat indexes with dew points that make it nearly unbearable. I grew up in Phoenix, when 115 degrees was par for the course. But when you add oppressive humidity it becomes an entirely different ball of (melted) wax.

On days like today I feel like we all deserve a fun drink recipe to help usher in the weekend.  Today I’m featuring Hot-As-Heck Margarita recipe to accompany our equally hot weather. It is said that spicy foods actually cool you down internally by stimulating the heat receptors in your mouth, which enhance circulation and in turn causes you to sweat. So, you know, drink up.

*Disclaimer: you actually need to drink a lot of non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated drinks to stay hydrated when it’s hot.  Be smart!

Margarita

HOT-AS-HECK MARGARITA

Ingredients

Method:

  1. Pour enough salt onto a small, shallow plate to cover the surface. Use a wedge of lime to wet the rim of two margarita glasses.
  2. Fill glasses with ice.
  3. Pour the tequila, triple sec, lime juice, agave nectar or maple syrup, and jalapeno into a cocktail shaker over ice. Cover, and shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker has frosted. Strain into the prepared glasses, and garnish with lime wedges to serve.

Happy Weekend!

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Friday Cocktails: The French Pear

Friday Cocktails: The Great Gatsby

Weekend Cocktails! Brandy Old Fashioned

 

Midweek Mashup

MIDWEEK MASHUP

AHHH, Summer.  Those endless, lazy days when you have all the time in the world to cook and bake and harvest the vegetables you’ve lovingly grown in your backyard….

Vegetable_Cart_in_Guntur

HAHAHAHAHA.  Why do I always think this is what summer will be?  When it’s January and 20 below and I need something to help get me through those frigid dark days of winter, this is the image that sustains me. But, let’s be honest. It’s TOTAL BULLCRAP!

Summer is busy and frenetic and essentially consists of me shuttling my 11 year old to and fro. In Minnesota the weather is warm for only a short time, so we also cram as much outdoor activity as we can. Which means the house is messy and the chores don’t get done and there’s constantly flip flops and sunscreen scattered everywhere. And now for some inexplicable reason we have a problem with flies. Also, my tomatoes aren’t growing well and the dill never even came up and I can’t even get my geraniums to stay alive. But, you know, SUMMER. So anyway…families still need to eat.

That’s why I like these strategies for putting dinner on the table in a shorter amount of time.  Because everyone’s busy!

You now what else falls off during the summer?  My workouts. Sure, I golf a ton (I always walk and carry my bag, so there’s that). I’ve been getting to barre about once a week as well. But there’s no routine and it can’t be counted on. I’ve done this 7 Minute Workout by the New York Times in the past and love it. It’s challenging and works my whole body. It’s perfect for anywhere, including when you travel. Knock it out once a day and you’ll feel stronger in no time.

And finally, here is my all time favorite summer recipe for Caprese Pasta. I make it once a week and it’s so easy. When tomatoes and basil are in season, it is so fresh and delicious. Everyone likes it and it’s easy to throw together at the last minute.

Enjoy the rest of your week! As always, please leave a comment and share this post if you like what you read!

 

Friday Cocktails: The French Pear

Friday Cocktails

 

It’s nearly the weekend!  Woohoo!  And if you live in the United States, it also most likely means a nice long holiday weekend for you.  You’ll need some cocktail recipes up your sleeve for the long weekend, don’t you think?  Sure, cold beer is nice, but nothing is better than an well crafted cocktail, in my opinion.

Last night we went out for drinks to celebrate birthdays with our neighbors.  We call each other “Framily” because we are family in many ways.  We have kids around the same age, we help each other out, and we love to spend time together.  Three of us have birthdays around this time, so typically we celebrate together.  I like to say I am halfway to 84.  Makes me laugh every time. I’m so funny melancholy.

Last night we walked to one of our favorite restaurants that features great cocktails.  My friend Catherine and I both ordered a French Pear. This one had a bit of a twist in that it also featured ginger. Catherine thought the drink tasted like “a Jolly Rancher in a glass”.  I love a sweet martini and had the urge to gulp it down, but now that I’m halfway to 84 I decided to behave like a grown up and sipped it instead.

I do agree with Catherine that it could have been a bit less sweet, and in doing that it would probably taste a bit brighter.  The ginger could have been more prominent, too.  A bit of a spicy bite from  more ginger would have offset the sweetness.

Overall I give it a 7/10.  We followed the French Pear with a good, solid dirty gin martini.

If you want to try the French Pear yourself, here’s how.

FRENCH PEAR MARTINI

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 ounces pear flavored vodka
  • 1/2 ounce ginger liqueur
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • Lemon twist, for garnish

METHOD:

  1. Place all ingredients except the twist into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously to mix.
  2. Strain into martini glass and add a lemon twist garnish.

 

Have a great weekend!  Keep it safe!

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Friday Cocktails: The Great Gatsby

Cocktails! Prickly Pear Margaritas

Weekend Cocktails!

Midweek Mashup

 

 

 

 

 

Midweek Mashup

MIDWEEK MASHUP

Happy Thursday!  I hope you are having a fantastic week.  And, if you aren’t, I hope you find a little bit of happiness here at Cultivate Wellness.

I plan on writing a longer, more thorough blog post about my recent experience being interviewed on our local NPR station, but in the meantime I wanted to post the link so you can listen for yourself.  Remember that post I wrote about the horrible swimsuit spread in Discovery Girls magazine?   It created quite a bit of discussion, including with the host of our morning news show on Minnesota Public Radio.   She decided to dedicate an entire show to the topic of body shaming in young girls, and asked to interview me.  You can listen to the entire show here.  I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts on it and keep the discussion going, so please share and comment!

Speaking of people struggling with body image issues, I read this piece, entitled Fat Dad: The Coffee and Cigarette Diet recently in Well section of The New York Times and it touched my heart.  I thought it was lovingly written.  So often we talk about women and body image, but it’s a good reminder that men struggle with this issue too.

Do you love potato salad as much as I do?  I love it in all forms: with celery, with egg, with mayo, with vinegar.  Dill, parsley, scallions, mint.  It’s *all* good in my book.  Here’s a healthy, delicious looking red, white and blue potato salad just in time for Independence Day.

Have a great rest of your week, whatever you have planned!

As always, I’d be so grateful if you shared my blog with people you think would like it, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, via email, or word of mouth (or all!).

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Last week’s Midweek Mashup

Bikini Body

Potato, Carrot and Leek Soup