Fennel and Leeks

Fennel and Leeks

Monday, May 30, 2011

Risotto with Taleggio Cheese and Bacon

I was going through magazines from 2010 this morning to see if there were particular reasons I kept random issues of Sunset and Martha Stewart Living. I was quickly reminded that the October 2010 issue of Sunset had so many recipes I was interested in cooking that I was tearing out about every fifth page. This Risotto with Taleggio Cheese and Bacon recipe is the first of many from the October issue of Sunset Magazine that will land on our dinner table. Now that I am over my risotto skepticism, it has opened a whole new world and thank goodness it has, because this particular dish is quite spectacular. I would eat it every day and twice on Tuesday if given the opportunity.

I know I sound like a broken record, but bacon really does make everything taste better. Also, I had never eaten Taleggio cheese and it was wonderful. The consistency reminded me of brie but I actually preferred the flavor to brie. It melted beautifully and added a rich creaminess to an already creamy dish. Please try this recipe if you like rice and/or risotto. I promise you will not be disappointed. Be warned that it is easy for two people to finish the risotto even though the recipe says it serves four. :) Oh, and I forgot to mention that the beautiful chives were from my garden.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
4 slices (6 oz.) thick slice bacon
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups reduced-sodium beef broth, warmed (I used chicken broth since we don't eat beef)
1/2 cup Taleggio cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp each kosher salt and pepper
2 Tbsp chopped chives

Warm oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and bacon and cook, stirring often, until starting to brown. Add rice to pan and stir to coat in oil. Pour in wine and cook until evaporated, about 3 minutes. Mix 2 cups hot water into broth and stir into rice in 1/2-cup increments (let each absorb before adding next). Stir, adding more hot water if needed, until rice is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and quickly stir in cheeses, salt and pepper. Top with sprinkle of chives. Serves 4.

Viva il risotto!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Week Twenty-One Recap

This week I chose to prepare simple yet diverse recipes. The Turkey Sandwich with Hoisin Mayonnaise was the star of the week. It was delicious, easy to prepare and healthy. I will definitely make this sandwich in the future. The recipe for Orecchiette with Mixed Greens and Goat Cheese was good but it didn't end up being one of my favorites. I am quite sure now that I don't prefer sun-dried tomatoes and unfortunately, this recipe didn't end up keeping well in the refrigerator. Finally, the smoothie was a tasty and healthy way to start the day but it was a bit too sweet for me. I will keep making my own smoothie concoctions and when I stumble across a good one, I will post the recipe. Here is this week's recap:

Turkey Sandwich with Hoisin Mayonnaise
Real Simple Magazine, May 2011

Orecchiette with Mixed Greens and Goat Cheese
"Everyday Pasta" by Giada De Laurentiis
Page 137

Berry Flax Seed Smoothie

Berry Flax Seed Smoothie

I am a big fan of flax seed. The reason I like flax seed so much is that it packs a ton of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart, and lignans, which fight cancer and improve brain function. Flax seed is also full of fiber so you can get a large part of the daily fiber recommendation just by incorporating flax into your diet. I use ground flax seed or flax seed oil because they are in a form that our bodies can easily break down. Whole flax seeds are not digestible so buying them in ground or oil form is a great way to go.

One of my favorite ways to get flax seed is by incorporating it into smoothies. I tend to create my own smoothie combinations based on the vegetables and fruits that are hanging out in my refrigerator. The ingredient combinations in these smoothies range anywhere from kale, strawberries, banana, carrots and flax oil to peaches, apples, spinach, wheat germ and yogurt. You never know what type of smoothie you are going to get at my house! This morning, I decided to get organized about it so I found this smoothie recipe online.

1 banana
2 cups berries (frozen or fresh)
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
3 Tbsp ground flax seed

Add all ingredients to blender, starting with juice and flax seed. Blend until smooth and creamy and serve immediately. Serves 2.

This smoothie was tasty but it was a little bit on the sweet side for me. I don't usually incorporate juice into my smoothies so I think I am accustomed to fruit acting as the sweetener. As a rule, I much prefer savory to sweet for breakfast so my sweet gauge for breakfast food may not be the norm. I learned something quite interesting when I was reading the pre-cursor to this recipe. I did not know that the darker the berry, the more antioxidants. It makes perfect sense once I think about it because blueberries are one of the most antioxidant rich foods you can eat. Anyway, this is a great piece of information to file away moving forward. I was also reminded that strawberries are a good source of vitamin C.

A few side notes; I used organic strawberries and blueberries, Simply Orange Grove-Style orange juice and Nancy's natural non-fat vanilla yogurt.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Orecchiette with Mixed Greens and Goat Cheese

It was feeling like a pasta kind of day but since I have been in the swing of spring (gardening, taking walks outside, etc.), I decided to prepare a pasta recipe that is more on the fresh and light side of the spectrum. Orecchiette with Mixed Greens and Goat Cheese ended up being my spring inspired pasta dish of choice. The recipe is as follows:

1 pound orecchiette (small, disk-shaped pasta)
8 ounces Mediterranean-style mixed salad greens
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
3 ounces (about 1/3 cup) crumbled fresh goat cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving one cup of pasta water. Toss to combine and wilt the greens. Add sun-dried tomatoes, cheeses, salt and pepper. Toss to combine, adding remaining 1/2 cup pasta water if necessary.

I must say, I am pleasantly surprised with the end result. I actually don't really like sun-dried tomatoes so I usually avoid them. I went out on a limb when I chose this recipe by deciding to give sun-dried tomatoes another chance. The recipe was intriguing to me because it didn't seem like several of the ingredients should work together. Mixed Mediterranean style greens and sun-dried tomatoes seemed like an odd pairing to me. I knew the fresh goat cheese would be lovely with mixed greens but I thought the sun-dried tomatoes might overpower the greens. I also wasn't sure that goat cheese and parmesan would compliment each other. It is good to be wrong sometimes. Wait, maybe I shouldn't admit that in writing. :) I can honestly say that I enjoyed eating my bowl of pasta but I still can't proclaim to be a fan of sun-dried tomatoes. I would rather eat fresh tomatoes on any given day.

The ingredients in this recipe did end up going together quite well and the end result was both satisfying and reminiscent of spring. This would be a nice dish to prepare for a dinner party or potluck; especially if you like sun-dried tomatoes. It is supposed to keep well in the refrigerator (which is a good thing because this recipe makes a boatload of pasta) so I will be eating it for lunch tomorrow and Friday. Works for me! Anytime I don't have to prepare lunch or dinner the following day, I am a happy camper. A quick side note; I used a high quality pasta by an Italian company out of Abruzzi, Italy. I'm sure the pasta would still be good with a more mainstream orecchiette but I do believe using a high quality pasta elevated the dish.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Turkey Sandwich with Hoisin Mayonnaise

Photo Courtesy of Brad Lovejoy

I found this recipe in Real Simple Magazine and immediately knew I had to make it. The recipe appealed to me on several levels. Of course a sandwich is easier to prepare than many of the recipes I choose so this was a definite plus. The real benefit however, is that I have loved Hoisin Sauce since I was a teenager when my mom introduced me to Mu Shu Pork. She loved Mu Shu so every time we went out for Chinese food, we ordered the dish. If you haven't eaten Mu Shu, I highly recommend it. The meat is shredded, prepared in Hoisin, which is a plum sauce, and then served with thin pancake-like wrappers. Delicious!

For this recipe, I purchased freshly carved turkey from Metropolitan Market. The recipe calls for sliced roasted turkey but my instincts told me that freshly carved turkey would elevate the final result. I served the sandwiches on ciabatta buns, freshly baked by one of our local favorites, Macrina Bakery. Before I offer further comment, I will share the recipe.

1/2 cucumber
1 small carrot
1/4 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
1 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
2 sandwich rolls
8 ounces sliced roasted turkey
1/4 cup mint leaves
1 scallion
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Using a vegetable peeler, cut 1/2 cucumber and 1 small carrot into long, think strips. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup reduced fat mayonnaise and 1 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce. Dividing evenly, spread 2 split sandwich rolls with mayonnaise mixture and fill with 4 ounces sliced roasted turkey, 1/4 cup mint leaves, 1 thinly sliced scallion, cucumber and carrot. Season with 1/4 tsp kosher salt. Serves 2.

This sandwich is so good! The flavors are restrained enough not to overwhelm but tasty enough to hit the palate perfectly. The only change I made was to use Canola mayonnaise instead of regular reduced fat mayo, which I don't think affected the flavor. I highly recommend using freshly carved turkey and high quality fresh sandwich rolls. These two ingredients definitely made the sandwiches special. The only change I would make is to add 2 tablespoons of Hoisin to the mayonnaise instead of 1 tablespoon. Other than this, the sandwich was just about perfect. I will add this recipe to my sandwich repertoire for sure.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Week Twenty Recap

This was another fun and successful week of cooking. Three recipes that I would prepare again; although I am still on the search for the perfect quinoa burger recipe. I didn't prepare a second quinoa burger this week, as I mentioned I might, so it is definitely on the menu for next week. Stay tuned!

Quinoa Burger

Root Vegetable Fries

Pan-Roasted Halibut with Toasted Bread-Crumb Salad and Green Lentils
"Seattle Kitchen" by Tom Douglas
Pages 101-102

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pan-Roasted Halibut with Toasted Bread-Crumb Salad and Green Lentils

Photo Courtesy of Brad Lovejoy

Boy did I earn my chef's hat with this recipe! It took a ton of preparation but the end result was beautiful comfort food. I mentioned in a prior entry that Brad and I met Tom Douglas at a Northwest Fisheries cooking event. I purchased a copy of his cookbook while we were at the event with intention to cook several of his seafood dishes. This was my first Tom Douglas recipe and although I had high expectations, it exceeded them by leaps and bounds. Let me first share the recipe and I will then pen my thoughts. This is an involved recipe so stick with me.

For Green Lentils:
1 cup dried French green lentils, picked over and rinsed
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup finely diced carrots
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1/4 cup finely diced celery
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 tsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp chopped fresh sage
1 tsp copped fresh rosemary
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
3 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For toasted bread-crumb salad:
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup coarse bread crumbs (instructions follow)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbsp chopped lemon zest
Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

To finish the dish:
Olive oil for pan-roasting
1 1/2 pounds halibut fillets, cut into 4 portions
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make dried bread crumbs:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Use European-style white bread and don't remove crusts. Slice bread 1/2 inch thick and place in single layer on ungreased baking sheet. Put baking sheet in oven and bake until bread feels dried in center, about 40 minutes. Turn bread over from time to time to make sure it dries evenly. Allow to cool and place in food processor. Pulse to make coarse bread crumbs. Dried bread crumbs will keep for a few weeks in a jar.

Lemon Vinaigrette:
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp minced shallots
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In small bowl, combine lemon juice and shallots. Slowly whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. This can be made ahead and covered in refrigerator.

Now on to the recipe....... To prepare lentils, bring pot of salted water to boil. Add lentils, reduce heat to simmer and cook until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and set aside. Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium-high heat, add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add carrots, onion and celery and cook, stirring for another 2 minutes. Add lentils, chicken stock and chopped herbs. Bring to boil. Add butter, stirring until emulsified and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

To make bread-crumb salad, heat oil over medium-high heat in a saute pan, then add bread crumbs and pan fry until golden and crunchy, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to cool. In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, chopped parsley, parsley leaves and lemon zest. Reserve 1 Tbsp of lemon vinaigrette for drizzling over fish later and combine remaining vinaigrette with bread crumbs.

To pan-roast halibut, heat large saute pan over high heat with a few tablespoons of olive oil until almost smoking. Season fish with salt and pepper and sear until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and finish cooking, about 2 minutes.

Ladle lentils into 4 wide, shallow bowls. Place fish in center of each bowl, drizzle with vinaigrette and top with bread-crumb salad.

Okay, now I can catch my breath. I told you this recipe was involved. I really did earn my chef's hat, didn't I? Good thing the dish was true perfection. The halibut was seasoned simply and cooked perfectly, the lentils were so good that I would make this part of the dish alone for dinner and the bread crumbs added the perfect amount of acidity and crunchiness. Olivia loved the halibut and Brad thought the whole dish was delicious. I was really proud of myself for executing the dish because it was one of the more complicated recipes I have prepared. Tom Douglas inscribed the front of my cookbook with "Kiersten, rock the kitchen!" and if I dare say so, that is just what I did. To top it off, isn't the final result gorgeous? Thank you for the great recipe, Tom!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Quinoa Burger and Root Vegetable Fries

Photo Courtesy of Brad Lovejoy

I once again chose to prepare two recipes for one dinner. Brad has been requesting that I make quinoa burgers for the past few months so I decided to honor his request. A West Seattle restaurant called Porterhouse offers a quinoa burger that Brad loves so I knew that finding a recipe that he likes equally was going to be difficult. I am now officially on a mission to find a recipe for the perfect quinoa burger.

My second recipe was root vegetable fries. I was reading the newest issue of Oprah Magazine last night and one of the articles mentioned the idea of root vegetable fries in place of potato fries. I happen to really like root vegetables, especially sweet potatoes so I decided to look online for a recipe. I found a recipe that interested me on the Whole Food website so I went for it.

Quinoa Burger:
1 1/2 cups quinoa, cooked
2 whole eggs
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp prepared mustard
3 Tbsp tomato sauce
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp low sodium soy sauce (I used fish sauce)
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (regular bread crumbs work as well)
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick canola spray or use parchment paper. Mix all ingredients in mixing bowl and drop into 6 separate mounds on baking sheet. Form into patties using a spoon. Bake for 25 minutes, turn over and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Pretty simple, right?

I enjoyed the flavor of the burgers quite a lot. The mustard and worcestershire sauce were the strongest flavors, which is what Brad didn't love about the burgers. He said he would prefer not to have mustard in the burgers; even though he likes yellow mustard. I was considering leaving the red pepper flakes out of the recipe,then decided to add them and then forgot to add them. Could Olivia riding laps around the kitchen on her tricycle have possibly distracted me? Brad and I both think the red pepper flakes would have been a great addition to the burgers. To make a short story long :), I like the burgers a lot, Brad liked them enough but not a lot. Needless to say, I am still on the search for a quinoa burger that Brad will love. You may even see another quinoa burger version later this week.

Root Vegetable Fries:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into thick strips
3/4 pound rutabaga, peeled and cut into thick strips
3/4 pound carrots, peeled and cut into thick strips
(sweet potatoes, celery root and turnips work as well)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Gently toss root vegetables in olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange in single layer on two baking sheets. Whole Foods recommends arranging vegetables roughly in groups since cooking times can vary. Bake, turning often, until golden brown (40 to 60 minutes). Transfer to platter and serve.

I halved this recipe and used rutabaga, carrots, sweet potatoes and turnips. My initial plan was to use parsnips instead of turnips because I have never tasted parsnips, but they were out of season. I liked all of the vegetables I used but the sweet potatoes and carrots were my favorites. I would eat root vegetable fries frequently if it was up to me but Brad's general feeling about the fries was that they would be okay once in a while. He just doesn't think they are nearly as good as potato fries. Then again, there aren't very many foods as delicious as french fries. We love fries at our house but we rarely eat them because of the fat content. Why must so many types of good food contain copious amounts of fat? Thus is life.........

On a side note, the lettuce we ate with our burgers was my first lettuce harvest from my garden. As you can see in the photo below, the lettuce is beautiful. My potatoes are starting to come up as well. Fun, fun, fun!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Week Nineteen Recap

I may have saved all three recipes until the last two days of the week but I got them done. Phew! One was a bit of a flop and the other two were fantastic but I will take 2 out of 3 any week of the year. I am also including the White Bean Dip With Rosemary Olive Oil from week seventeen in this recap. I always want to make sure to give credit where credit is due for each recipe. See you next week!

Kale, Sweet Potato and White Bean Soup
"Clean Start" by Terry Walters
Page 26

Jicama Slaw
"Clean Start" by Terry Walters
Page 56

Chipotle Shrimp Tacos With Avocado Salsa Verde

White Bean Dip With Rosemary Olive Oil

Chipotle Shrimp Tacos With Avocado Salsa Verde and Jicama Slaw

Photos Courtesy of Dave McCoy Photography

We had a fantastic dinner tonight! I needed to knock down two recipes today to finish off the week strong and I did just that. I knew I wanted to make a Jicama Slaw recipe from my "Clean Start" cookbook and I thought shrimp tacos would be really good with the slaw. I went to my trusty Google and found a recipe for Chipotle Shrimp Tacos With Avocado Salsa Verde from the Food Network. We all know I love my Food Network so finding this recipe on their website was quite fitting.

Jicama Slaw Ingredients:
3 cups peeled and coarsely grated jicama
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp minced fresh mint
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp lime juice
zest of 1 lime
1/4 tsp salt

In medium mixing bowl combine jicama, cilantro and mint. In separate bowl, whisk together ginger, lemon juice, lime juice, zest and salt. Pour over slaw, toss to combine and serve. Serves 4. Can be used as salsa with corn chips, a topping for sliced heirloom tomatoes, gazpacho or bloody Marys.

Taco Ingredients

Avocado Salsa:

  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 jalapeno, quartered, seeds optional
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 4 medium tomatillos, (about 8 ounces) husked, rinsed, and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 Hass avocado, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle or blended chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound medium shrimp (about 20), peeled and deveined
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 8 sprigs cilantro for garnish
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges


Put the onion, jalapeno, and garlic in a food processor and finely chop. Add the tomatillos, avocado, and salt and pulse until chopped but still chunky. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cilantro.

Heat a stovetop or outdoor grill to medium-high. Mix the olive oil, chipotle or chili powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Grill the shrimp until translucent, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side.

Grill tortillas, until slightly charred and pliable, about 20 seconds per side. (Alternatively, wrap in a damp paper towel and heat in a microwave.) Spoon sauce on the tortilla, then top with about 2 or 3 shrimp and a sprig of cilantro. Serve 2 tacos per person, with a lime wedge on the side.

(Copyright 2005 Television Food Network, G.P. All rights reserved.)

I would make this dinner once every month if I didn't have 12 new recipes per month to prepare. The chipotle spice on the shrimp along with the acidity from the lime creates a perfect balance. I used 2 avocados in the salsa instead of 1/2 avocado because the salsa tasted a bit oniony to me. Adding the extra avocado made the tacos creamier and it calmed the strong onion flavor. I learned a trick for charring tortillas about 20 years ago and it works great every time. I place tortillas directly on the burner on medium-high heat and hold it there for 10-15 seconds per side. My tortillas always turn out to have just the right amount of char and the temperature is perfect.

The Jicama Slaw was also really good. I would describe the texture and flavor as refreshing and light. It was the perfect side for the tacos. Dave McCoy put the slaw directly on his taco and said it was delicious. To finish making a well-rounded meal, I served grilled pineapple rings, black beans and blue corn chips. Natalie loved the addition of blue corn chips because she was able to dip them in the slaw and avocado salsa. Not a bad night of eating at the Lovejoys for sure!

Friday, May 13, 2011

From Flip-Flop to Flop

It may have been inevitable that my first post-vacation cooking endeavor was a flop. I can say however, that my heart was in the right place. I was trying to choose a healthy recipe to get our eating back on track. I'm sure you will agree with me that we all let down our guard a bit while on vacation so we eat differently than we eat at home. This vacation was no exception. There are so many unique and delicious food choices and beverages on Maui and we decided to enjoy both while there. Needless to say, we need to get back to our normal way of eating. For this reason, I decided to choose a recipe from my "Clean Start" cookbook that uses organic, low-fat, nutrient-rich ingredients.

The recipe I chose is Kale, Sweet Potato and White Bean Soup. It's not that the recipe itself is bad, it's just that we didn't love the final result. I would make a few changes in the ratio of ingredients and I would also add a bit of color to make the soup more visually interesting if I decided to cook it again. I will comment further on both of these changes after I provide the recipe:

1 small yellow onion, diced
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 stalks celery, diced
1 large sweet potato, diced
3 cups cooked great northern or navy beans, rinsed
3 Tbsp mirin
1 bunch kale, chopped
vegetable stock
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
pinch of ground nutmeg
Gomasio or toasted seasame seeds

In large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, saute onion and ginger in olive oil until soft (about 3 minutes). Add celery, sweet potato, beans and mirin and stir. Add kale and enough stock to cover all ingredients by an inch. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes to allow potatoes to cook through and allow flavor to develop. Season to taste with nutmeg, sea salt and pepper and serve topped with gomasio or toasted sesame seeds. Serves 4.

The first change I would make regarding ingredient ratios is to double the amount of sweet potato and halve the quantity of kale. The second change I would make is to add one more cup of beans. I would also use less stock to produce a heartier final result. I actually snapped a few photos of the soup but decided not to post a photo because to be honest, the soup is monochromatic. I tend to prefer dishes that provide some visual interest so I think I would either add a diced carrot or a diced red or yellow bell pepper to the recipe. I am a fan of Gomasio, which is a mixture of toasted sesame seeds and sea salt, so I may look for another recipe that utilizes Gomasio.

All in all, this was a good way to re-enter my cooking project after my 2-week hiatus. It wasn't our favorite dish ever but this cookbook has not yet let me down so I will let this one slide. :)

Back In The Seattle Saddle

Back from Maui and missing the sunshine! We were fortunate to have perfect weather for 9 days out of 14 and the other 5 were still good as far as Seattle standards are concerned. We had a fabulous time golfing, playing tennis, eating out, taking walks, swimming, building sand castles, going to the Maui Aquarium, watching wind surfers in Paiia, visiting Surfing Goat Dairy Farm, the list goes on and on. I didn't feel the least bit bad about deciding not to cook while I was there but I have definitely needed a swift kick in the rear to get back in the kitchen this week. Total lack of discipline for 2 weeks breeds additional lack of discipline. What can I say? Ends up I am super good at relaxing. :)

I actually cooked a meal tonight, which I will write about in my next entry, but I want to share a few vacation photos before I journey back to cooking talk. We took many photos of our favorite blonde subject matter and the following are a few for starters. I will definitely post additional photos in future entries as we download them from multiple cameras. Also included below are a few scenery photos as eye candy. Enjoy!