United States of Motherhood

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ladies Days: I want a Vagina Cake! Celebrating Your New Moon!



Ahem...there might have been a tradition of my parents take us out to dinner when we "became women." Yep, all five girls in our household.

Horrifying.

This takes it to a new level of awesome-ly awkward! My teen daughter is lucky I didn't see this two years ago...

Bwahahahah!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Reduce Reuse Recycle in the Garden: Hydrangea Branches at Stakes





It's official: I am so crunchy! Heh! 

Reduce, reuse recycle? Check!!

I trimmed back a huge amount of dead hydrangea wood last fall. At the last minute, I took it out of the garden bin and put it aside for a bonfire. 

For the record, dry hydrangea branches?  Spectacularly hot and fast fires for s'mores in the outside fireplace. 

Anyhoo, today I needed to stake my 40+ tomatoes and I had none of those painted green stakes I usually use in the garden shed. 

Then I had an a-ha  moment!

 Duh! Why am I paying for and putting painted sticks in my #organic tomatoes root system when I can reuse what I have?!

 So here are my tomatoes now staked with hydrangea twigs and branches. We now have a smaller pile to burn, but the tomatoes will be sooo worth it! 

That was my tip of the day-any tips for me?

Macy's Culinary Council Great American Grilling Guru Semi-Finals With Tom Douglas #GrillingGuru #Seattle @CulinaryCouncil @Macys @TomDouglasCo




My husband (and fellow culinary aficionado) were pretty fortunate this week-end to get invited on a sunny, almost summer Seattle day to cover a fun outdoor grilling event. Local celebrity chef Tom Douglas with soon-to-be FIFTEEN  fantastic restaurants under his belt, super fresh and quality ingredients, and watching amateur talent take off?



I am sooo in.  This is where I always squee I love my job because I do. Then they let me taste their dishes and interview the gurus? Heaven!

Picture this...

Three home cooks given the finest of prawns, ribs, and produce and chosen to do their grilling best for 1 hour...and oh yeah, Iron Chef Champion Tom Douglas is your judge.  Gulp! No pressure.

Yes, these three regional contestants went head-to-head for a spot in "The Sizzle Down" on 6/28 in New York City with the winner given 10k and a trip to the 2015 Macy's 4th of July fireworks. The final competition will be judged by Johnny Luzzini and Todd English.

You Tube sensation Jack Scalfani (California) was chosen to cook his Mama's Best Beef Short Ribs.  Margee Berry (Washington) whipped up her Smokin' Hot Summer Wood Planked Shrimp Tacos with Seared Slaw.  Finally Edwina Gadsby (Idaho) put forth her Grilled Sweet Chili Salmon Noodle Salad.


Luckily Tom had cooked up some of his own grilled favorites, so we had some bites while we salivated over the cooks grilling. He also gave tips like all protein should be grilled at room temperature for best results. Toss in on the counter instead of keeping it in the fridge before you grill.  I knew this about steak, but would have never thought to leave out shrimp and fish the 15-30 minutes he recommended. He also reminded us food safety guidelines gave a 4 hour window, so this is plenty of time to safely cook.

While the cooks grilled, we answered trivia about the original wooden escalators in the first Macy's still existing, the last float in the parade (It's Santa!) for Tom's Dahlia Bakery cookbook with his world famous coconut cream pie recipe and a Macy's Grill set and... drooled as the scent of salmon and shrimp and ribs wafted by...

It was down to the wire until the end, but the winner was Edwina!  Tom loved how delicately she cooked her salmon with a perfect pink translucent center.

Then it was time for me to taste!!


Third place went to Margee.  Her planked shrimp--or gulf prawns to be exact--were perfection. Smoky, delicate, but with some heat. Wood planks are awesome, people. Honestly alone I think they competed and might have edged out Tom's prawns.  Really good.  So delicious.  The mistake?  She cut up the prawns which Tom did not like and I agree.  She said she was used to cooking with smaller shrimp and wanted smaller bites in her tacos.

People, respect the protein.  The mouth ecstasy  of gorgeous gulf prawns is the pop as you bite into their meatiness and juices are released.  Second mistake?  She combined a delicious grilled avocado with ton of mayo and the creaminess mixed in with seared corn on a hot day overwhelmed the shrimp entirely.  Tom took two bites and I did too just to find the overwhelmed cut-up shrimp.

But again, her shrimp on their own?  Perfection.  Perhaps a more basic grilled avocado salad  paired with those prawns would have given her the edge.


Second place was close, but went to Jack. The short ribs?  Amazing. A perfect combo of tangy, smoky and sweet. Given the time, he babied his ribs to spot-on medium rare and continued to keep them moist and glazed until time ran out.  Tender. Juicy. Jack was also by far one of the most gracious cooks I have met. He repeated many time how grateful for all he's been given and happy in life.

His ribs were great, and a complementary side like a grilled corn salad or citrusy green salad might have helped secure him the spot. Maybe the mean and onion was a little too simple for Tom.


Finally, Edwina came with her bright, flavorful noodle salad with a perfectly cooked salmon.  The right combo of yummy protein AND a perfectly paired side to complement.  Tom wanted  a little contrasting sauce on the salmon rather than the same sauce as the salad.  I agree.  Still her skills grilling the perfect salmon paired with a refreshing salad made all the ingredients shine. Honestly didn't think I'd want a room temp noodle salad, but the zing of cilantro, citrus, and mint really popped. I found her salmon fine, but honestly it didn't shine.  Maybe because it had been sitting there for a while.

Best of all worlds?  My perfect grill plate would be Margee's wood planked prawns, a scoop of grilled avocado in a salad, one of Jack's meaty ribs, and Edwina's bright noodle salad topped with Tom's salmon.

Yes, I want it all!




That, my friends is what grilling is all about.  No fancy potions.  Just fresh, clean quality ingredients with the addition of fire! Today, certainly made me want to fire up the grill. Thanks Macy's Culinary Council for sponsoring the event.

Stay tuned...I might be able to throw up the recipes for you to judge in later posts. In the meantime, want to win the Sizzle ShowDown cookbook? Leave a comment below.



 I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere has provided me with compensation for this post about Macy’s Culinary Council. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

2014 Seattle Rock 'N' Roll Marathon Here WE Come!! #Seattle #RNRSEA @RunRocknRoll




Woot!  It's official.  To celebrate our first no-so-wittle kid graduating from high school, we will be running a half marathon as a family.  

Everyone is registered!

Yes, CG and I as well as my 17 year old son, 14 year old daughter, and 12 year old baby boy.

We have about three weeks to count down. Sure, some families celebrate with ice cream and pizza.  

We will celebrate with pain, people!


Ha, seriously?  I am super excited.  I may not be fast, but I know I can finish it. 

Thirty-five pounds ago before crossfitting and eating paleo, my couch potato self would get out of breath walking around the block! I would outright laugh at running even one mile, much less 13! Things have indeed changed!

I got this.  More importantly?  The Raines family's got this!

Want to know more? The Rock 'N' Roll Marathon series can be found nationwide and internationally.  I counted over 30 cities! Likely there's one near you. 

In the meantime, ready to sign up now?  Use my discount code "SCOUTSHONOR"  valid for $10 off any half or full marathon until June 15th, 2014.  


Want to watch and take it all in for a bit? 


Follow me on Twitter @scoutshonor and on Instagram @unitedstatesofmotherhood . 
Then  on Twitter and Instagram, look for @RunRocknRoll and the hashtag  #RNRSEA .


We got this!! Join me!




Disclosure: I was provided free entry, merchandise and products as compensation for this post and future posts.  I approached this company for this partnership because I had heard glowing reports of their events.  As always I only review and cover products and events I love or want to try out and review them honestly. Love it or hate it, you'll hear about it. 


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Paleo BLT Salad Recipe With a Sriracha Twist: What's for Lunch! #Paleo #BLT #Bacon





People unfamiliar to the Caveman Diet always shudder when they think of the Paleo lifestyle? No bread, grains, or cheese? What?! They think it is a diet of deprivation when in fact some of the guilty pleasures become healthy choices.  Bacon? Sure! Avocado? Daily please! When you realize you can have a grilled flank steak covered with a bright, flavor-packed chimichurri every night with a healthy plate of greens and mashed sweet potatoes? And lose weight and drop your cholesterol in my case? Suddenly you don't miss the empty calories and sugar-laden slices of pizza, ice cream, Twinkies, and pasta. It's just a shift in perspective.  For me, eating is still a pleasure. 


Best yet, if I want to have a BLT, I can have one...sans bread!  Thirty-five pounds lost without counting one calorie later?  Yep!  Worth it!



BLTS Salad Recipe (Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Sriracha)

Ingredients

  • 4 Cups Greens of Your Choice*
  • 8 Thick Slices of Uncured Bacon**
  • 1 tsp. Bacon Drippings (reserved from cooked bacon)
  • 2 sliced Roma Tomato
  • 2 tsp Sriracha***
  • 2 tbsp Avocado Oil


Optional: a Couple Slices of Avocado

Directions


Pan fry bacon on medium-high in heavy skillet for 7-8 minutes or until desired crispness is achieved. I like mine a perfect blend of crispy and chewy. 


Slice tomato into thick juicy slices. Add salad to two serving bowl. Top with tomato then bacon. 



In separate bowl, whisk together Sriracha and avocado oil. Add 1/2 tsp bacon dripping to bowl. Whisk again. (Pro-tip: Save the rest of drippings in bowl for later and refrigerate).  



Drizzle  salad with spicy salty goodness I call spicy bacon dressing.  Enjoy!

Serves two.  Perfect for a lunch with my hubs! 


Can you believe with FOUR thick slices of bacon in a huge salad, you will be at less than 400 calories?  Mine came out to 365 calories to be exact--not that I ever count calories, but this time I did it for you! Believe me...you'll be full and satiated. Fat is good, people! Sugar, refined carbs, and processed are not.


Recipe Notes on My Paleo Decisions and Ingredients:


*Earthbound Farms 1 cup organic spring mix (baby lettuces, mizuna, baby spinach, arugula, frisee, radicchio) &1 cup organic Power Blend (baby kale, chard, and spinach). Both available and at GREAT prices at Costco!!


**Fletcher's Dry Cured Bacon which is technically not totally clean and has some sugar, but is the cleanest and best tasting for what our family of five's grocery budget allows.  If you are super strict, you can get Applegate at Whole Food, but it's also super pricey.  We stick with a more commonsense Paleo approach of the cleanest and most affordable we can find. Again great price at Costco!!



***Sriracha--or at least the commercial kind--is not strict Paleo since it does have a minute amount of sugar and some preservatives.  You can opt to make your own or follow again my commonsense Paleo approach of not sweating the small stuff and looking at the overall picture.  If you obsess over every label like I did when I started, it becomes a hard to sustain diet.  I hate the word "DIET." Every time I went on a diet?  I FAILED.  When you make it a lifestyle and don't have to count calories or worry about every label is when it becomes easy. Pounds will float off.  Sure read labels at first then decide the level of strictness your mind and your budget can afford.  


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