The Fantastic Friday Five is a (new!) weekly series featuring odds and ends from my everyday life – food, running, gardening, and more!
Sooooo here we go! I’m trying out a weekly feature in addition to recipe posts, because sometimes there are things I want to share that don’t necessarily merit a full post. I’m hoping this also kickstarts me into more regular posting, on any topic. Enjoy!
#1: Beet bundt cake for girls’ night
Photo by juice jam & joy (see original post here) – We ate the cake before taking a picture of it… mine had mini choco chips on top… :)
A good girlfriend of mine had some of us ladies over to her apartment last weekend for a relaxed hangout with wine and an array or tasty (and mostly healthy!) snacks. I hate to go to a get-together empty-handed, even though my friend said to just bring ourselves and a drink of choice, so I considered making a healthy-ish dessert to complement the hostess’ snacks. As fate would have it, THIS POST for Chocolate Beet Cake from juice jam & joy came across my feed… PERFECT! I made it with brown rice flour and honey, and although a teensy bit gritty (from the rice flour), it was DELICIOUS. It was a huge hit with the ladies, including some avowed beet haters. Several even took some home with them at the end of the evening! Second to the fact that some of my farmers’ market beets made it into this cake, my favorite part was the super easy peanut butter icing. It is definitely going to find its way onto more sweet treats in the future!
#2: Hosting Easter brunch
We had Travis’ parents over for brunch on Sunday, and it was a lovely time! I have a large, loud family, and our gatherings are always chaotic with children underfoot, so hanging out with 3 other adults was kind of weird, but welcome nonetheless. :) Now that we have a house (we bought it last October), we’ve been doing a lot more hosting, which I LOVE, but since I’m not very experienced, every event has been an improvement on the last. I come from a long line of last-minute, late-for-everything people (or maybe it’s just my mom, since my grandma seems pretty darned on top of things for turning 90 the Sunday before Easter! Happy birthday again, Mama!), so until VERY recently my hosting has included frantic preparation of the meal while I should be mingling with guests.
Not this time. (Well, minus the part where I was putting the finishing touches on the dressing for the salad when Trav’s parents showed up and Travis was in the shower so I had to greet them with garlic-covered hands……..) I planned an egg-free and gluten-free meal for my future in-laws as they, like us, don’t eat meat, and I know Travis’ mom avoids eggs and wheat for other reasons. I made a tofu quiche (find the recipe on Savvy Vegetarian‘s site here! – only slightly altered for preferred veggies and with a g/f crust) the night before and then popped it in the oven when they arrived, and I also had potatoes cut, spiced, and ready to roast in the oven as well. Finally, I had a beet, orange, and avocado salad (from the magazine of my local grocery chain – it was absolutely delicious as well as beautiful, made with farm-fresh golden and pink/white pinwheel beets and a blood orange!) waiting to be tossed in its dressing. I actually got to enjoy our company and also partake in the pre-meal snacks (veggies and hummus, FTW) that I laid out. I could get used to this kind of hosting.
My niece does ballet and they did their annual kid-friendly show the day before Easter (it was a Flat Stanley production – so cute and fun!), so it was a lovely excuse to see my in-state family. Also, my niece had turned 10 the day before, and her brother turned 12 earlier that week – birthdays all around in late March for us! Their dad, Nathan, and their mom, my sister Beth, were there, as well as my sister Shondra and her 5-year old son, my mom, and Nathan’s mom. Travis met all of us (minus Nathan’s mom) out for lunch afterward at our new favorite Indian restaurant (if you live in the Portland ME area, try out The Dancing Elephant in downtown Westbrook – super tasty food and great selection!). It was a GORGEOUS day, and Beth convinced me and Travis to join her, Nathan, and the kids for some Dairy Queen after… it had been a while. We had such a fun time laughing it up and being silly with my awesome niece and nephew. Seriously, my stomach hurt from laughing (or maybe that was our mint oreo blizzard mutinying?).
#4: Running in the rain
I’ve been less than motivated lately (to say the least) to get out and run, but I’ve been trying REALLY HARD to bring my running stuff to work and make myself run on the roads and trails there (because I find it much harder when I get home and just want to relax). So I dragged myself into my gear on Monday after a long day at work (I teach Spanish at two different elementary schools – about 500 students in all – so my days are jam-packed and often draining), and I had just barely convinced myself again that I really needed to run NOW, not drive home first, when I realized that it had just started to rain. Great. I threw on my running cap on top of my ear band and grabbed my bags to bring out to the car. As soon as the drizzle hit my face, I couldn’t wait to drop my stuff and pound the pavement. There’s something about the rain, and the smell of its cautious beginnings on an early spring day, that just gets me. Playing soccer in the rain was always a favorite for me too! I had a GREAT run, even after a week away, and even with some moderate hills – the rain energized me to power through and do it with a smile. The. Best.
Ok, so this isn’t really a “fantastic” thing this week, but whatever, I can break my own non-existent rules. :) I used to think deer were beautiful and majestic creatures… until I moved to the “country”, where our 3.5 acres of land (mostly woods) is part of a protected game preserve. I now see them for the filthy, foliage-eating jerks that they are. And we don’t even have the garden in the ground yet. I foresee a frustrating, never-ending struggle with these white-tailed, “see if I care that these buds I’m eating are part of your landscaping” Bambis. Seriously, they hardly even pretend to be scared anymore when I charge at them from the deck. Bastards.
And on that note… I hope you have a fun-filled week, with plenty of healthy, mindful, and enjoyable cooking, eating, running, gardening, living……….. you get the picture. :)