potluck recipe

4th of July

I was a little apprehensive about the 4th of July this year. I was worried about how Bella would deal with the fireworks. Our street kind of shuts down and the neighbor puts on quite a show. We all get together, have a kind of impromptu potluck, Michael and I invite friends over…In the past when I just had the kitties, I’d check on them periodically throughout the evening when the fireworks started, they were clearly disturbed by the loud noises but didn’t seem too freaked out.

But Bella? I knew she’d be freaked out. She got pretty agitated in a thunder storm we had in the winter–not too bad but agitated enough. And the fireworks show was going to be right in front of our house essentially.

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I looked online to find some tips on how to take care of pets during the fireworks show and I also talked to our dog walker. She had some great tips. She suggested Rescue Remedy, to put a few drops in Bella’s water, as it’s a natural relaxer. She said to turn on all the TVs and radios to try and drown out the noise. She said Benadryl can be good too. Bella already takes Benadryl on occasion when her allergies start flaring up (per her vet) so I planned on doing that too.

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My poor baby. 🙁 I guess it’s pretty common for pets to run away on the 4th of July because they are scared and somehow get outside and run off. We were having friends over for a BBQ and the fireworks so I put the cats in a room with the litterbox, food and water and shut the door just to be sure they couldn’t get out.

We had 7 people over for a BBQ. Bella was outside with us all working on her social skills! There were a lot of people over and that made Bella a little freaked out but once she got treats and pets and they threw the ball for her she was good. Michael grilled up hot dogs and one friend brought a delicious baked bean dish, another brought a Moroccan sweet potato salad and there was also an amazing potato salad (it was so good!). Everything tasted great. I made a quinoa salad that turned out well, too:

Red Quinoa and Carrot Salad with Currants, Chickpeas and Cashews

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Category: 4th Of July, BBQ, calories, cats, Dinner, Dogs, food, Food Memories, Food update, Friends, Grilling, Holiday Foods, Holidays, Low Calorie Recipes, recipes, Weekend Update

Servings: 6 servings

From: http://www.floatingkitchen.net/red-quinoa-and-carrot-salad-with-currants-chickpeas-and-cashews/

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup red quinoa
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (from 1-2 carrots)
  • 1 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup currants
  • 1/2 cup cashews (I used roasted and salted cashews)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (use the REAL stuff, Grade B if you have it)
  • 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. Cook the quinoa. Combine the quinoa and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce the temperature to maintain a simmer. Simmer for 15-18 minutes, covered, until all the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat and let the quinoa stand covered for 5 minutes. Then fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.
  2. Transfer the cooled quinoa to a medium bowl. Add the shredded carrots, chickpeas and currants. Toss gently to combine.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the quinoa salad, tossing gently to combine and tasting as you go. Stir in the cashews. Top with the chopped parsley and serve. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 1-2 days.

Notes

Notes: If you don't have red quinoa, any color will do! The leftovers are delicious, but the cashews do lose their crunch. If you want to maintain that crunch, divide the cashews and stir them into individual servings as you eat your way through the salad. If you don't have currants, raisins or dried cranberries would be a great here. And agave could be used in place of the maple syrup.

Nutrition Facts

Red Quinoa and Carrot Salad with Currants, Chickpeas and Cashews

Serves

Amount Per Serving
Calories 321
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0
Saturated Fat 0
Trans Fat
Cholesterol 0
Sodium 0
Total Carbohydrate 0
Dietary Fiber 0
Sugars
Protein
Vitamin A Vitamin C
Calcium Iron

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

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I didn’t have parsley so added some chopped green onion and I really liked that addition. I think chopped celery would be really nice in this salad, too. When I make it again I’d probably skip making the carrots into ribbons and just chop them into small pieces. That would be easier to eat. (The quinoa salad was even better the next day for lunch.)

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Michael got these ridiculously large hot dogs from Costco–like bigger than the actual hot dog buns–but they were a hit and tasted great after being grilled. I’m not a huge hot dog fan but there is something tasty about a grilled hot dog that has a little crisp to it.

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We hung out for a bit drinking beer and finishing up dinner and then the fireworks started. I gave Bella a little Peanut-Butter-Benadryl treat and put her in her crate in the bedroom with her blanket. I turned on the TV and the radio and shut the door. I checked on her a few times during the evening and unfortunately the Benadryl didn’t put her to sleep. She was kind of wired and her eyes were really big but she didn’t seem too scared, so that was good. Our poor neighbor’s dog was another story. He was shivering and crying in their house. 🙁

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We set up our camping chairs in the neighbor’s driveway and they started the show. I’m not really sure what was happening here–it was kind of like the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. One of the neighbor’s friends did laps around the island holding a lit sparkler, running while everyone encouraged him, until it fizzled out. It was pretty hilarious. The kids did their fireworks first.

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The neighbor turned on properly patriotic hair metal and then the teenagers did their fireworks. The neighbor stepped in a few times to do some REAL fireworks and then we all called it good a little earlier this year. The fireworks were gone by 10:30 and while there were still some going off in other neighborhoods nearby, it was mostly done. It was more low-key this year, which was fine because I had been worried about Bella and I was also getting sleepy from the 2 beers I’d had that night. God when did we get so old?

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After everyone left I took Bella outside to do her business and Michael sat with her for a bit outside. She was overly excited and kind of spazzy but didn’t seem scared so that’s good! All in all she did great on the holiday. I slept like a rock and thankfully wasn’t hungover for Boot Camp the next morning. 🙂

Picnic in the Park

Saturday morning I had a decent workout in the gym (and it was nice that I got there early before it was too crowded) but unfortunately pulled a muscle in my back. That was a bummer but at least it wasn’t so bad that it prevented me from having a really awesome day with friends.

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We’d planned on doing something like this for awhile and finally did it. Michael and I met our friends Erika and Charles at Kelley Pointe Park for a picnic lunch and to hang out in the sun. The day was overcast, gray and a little drizzly but it promised to clear up by the time we met them at the park in the afternoon. I wouldn’t say that I planned well for our outing  (shorts and a tank top and flip flops would have been better). Sunscreen and more water would have been ideal, too.

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I’ve never been to Kelley Pointe Park but it’s the park on Marine Drive right on the river that Michael and I have tried to bike to many times. Something always happened to keep was from making it there–getting lost, flat tires, etc. I am so glad we finally got to discover this gem in the city!! It’s a HUGE park with so much room for big groups of people. There are a bunch of different picnic areas, bathrooms (nice) and views of Mount Hood, downtown Portland and the water.

The four of us sat at a nice picnic table next to the sandy beach and Columbia River and ate a picnic lunch. Michael and I brought sandwiches from the New Seasons Deli and I made a killer quinoa salad to share.

Asian Quinoa Salad

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Category: fitness, food, Food update, Friends, Low Calorie Recipes, Memories, pasta, Portland, Portland activities, Portland Restaurants, Potluck, recipes, salads, Summer, sunny day, Weekend Update

Servings: Serves 4

From: http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/asian-quinoa-salad/

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped red cabbage
  • 1 cup shelled and cooked edamame
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • For the dressing:
  • 1/4 cup lite soy sauce or tamari sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Add water, quinoa, and salt to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
  2. Place the quinoa in a large bowl and add the cabbage, edamame, red pepper, carrots, and cucumber. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, green onions, cilantro, sesame seeds, ginger, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
  4. Pour the dressing over the quinoa salad and stir to combine.
  5. Note-Make sure you use tamari for a gluten-free salad, not all soy sauce is gluten-free. This salad is good served at room temperature or chilled.

Nutrition Facts

Asian Quinoa Salad

Serves

Amount Per Serving
Calories 215 (not counting dressing)
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0
Saturated Fat 0
Trans Fat
Cholesterol 0
Sodium 0
Total Carbohydrate 0
Dietary Fiber 0
Sugars
Protein
Vitamin A Vitamin C
Calcium Iron

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

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I loved the flavors and the crunchiness of the salad. Erika made a pasta salad and brought some fresh watermelon to share and they had Subway sandwiches. I was famished by the time we got settled in and ate! I had half a roast beef sandwich and lots of salad.

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It was so much fun having a picnic potluck lunch! The food was delicious and healthy and we definitely needed the nutrients for the rest of our outing.

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After lunch we packed up the food and walked down the path to a large, open grassy field to play bocce ball. I bought a set at the store on sale recently and was so happy to be able to try it out! It had been a good decade since I’d played bocce ball but it wasn’t too hard to pick back up. I also had a badminton set but we never actually got to that.

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Michael and I were on a team and Charles and Erika were a team and we actually did pretty well! It was neck and neck for awhile. The bocce ball was so much fun! I just wished I’d packed more water, maybe a hat and some sunscreen! I was baking.

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And guess what? I’m not too shabby at bocce!! I actually won a few rounds! We played for maybe two hours, stopped part way for a beverage break and to sit in the shade, then we packed everything up and went down to the beach.

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I had no idea there was a sandy beach in Portland!!! Wow! It was a happening place, too. There were tons of people but it wasn’t overcrowded. There were kids in life vests swimming and building sandcastles, some fly fishermen and tons of boaters.

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There were a lot of party boats, too. Lots of people on a boat with loud music as they sped by the shore. It was very cool. Again, I need to make some friends with boaters….Michael and Charles played some horseshoe while Erika and I just chilled in the shade on a blanket and enjoyed the hot, sunny day. It was so nice I didn’t want to leave but I knew it was time. I desperately needed water and to get out of the sun. Next time I will be more prepared.

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I’m going back here VERY SOON!!! So much fun!! What a fantastic weekend. On Sunday morning I changed up the routine and Michael and I went out to breakfast before I went swimming. I had a soon-to-expire Groupon for Grand Central and realized it was an awesome place to get breakfast!

The place was practically empty, there weren’t long lines and long waits for tables and the food was GREAT! The restaurant and bar just happened to be attached to a bowling alley (too funny).

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Michael got the breakfast tacos (they were made with corn tortillas) and I got an eggs benedict. It was made with artichokes and spinach and was fantastic! I never order that kind of breakfast and was glad I splurged and gave it a try. The hashbrowns were the best I’ve ever eaten–which is weird because I’m not really a fan of hashbrowns and usually ask for fruit on the side instead. It was so much food I ate half the eggs benedict and half of the potatoes. I’m totally going back to this place!