Goat Cheese & Dill Potato Salad

My salivary glands can’t even handle the title of this blog post.

Goat cheese?  I’d eat it everyday, given an unlimited supply of goats and people to milk them and turn that into cheese.  Wait a minute–I live in America!  I think I already have this!  Why don’t I eat goat cheese everyday, then?  I should.  Mmmm goat cheese.

And dill?  I only grow a ton of it in my garden and I’m always looking for ways to use it up.

This was a recent experiment–a savory, delicious experiment which I must share.  And this was so timely of me, given that we have embarked upon BBQ-and-picnic weather and everyone can use a new dish to try or share with your friends and family–don’t be the lame-o who brings the same old, tired, uncreative mustard-based store-bought potato salad to your next potluck!

The dressing here is based on fat-free yogurt, olive oil and goat cheese–I understand that this may seem non-traditional to some of you, so hold your judgment and disdain until I can explain some things at the bottom under “Helpful Hints”.

 

Ingredients:

  • a half dozen or so red potatoes, washed and quartered
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled goat cheese (eyeball it–it doesn’t have to be exactly 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup of plain, fat-free yogurt (eyeball it, this time with your other eyeball)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, grated (I used a micro plane, seen in the above photo)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 bunch of radishes, thinly sliced and then halved (half moons)
  • fresh dill, chopped–about 1 cup, or the entire contents of the clamshell you buy in the produce department
  • 4-5 green onions, sliced

 

Steps:

  1. Cover the potatoes with water, using a large pot.  Add some salt.  Bring to a boil.
  2. While potatoes cook, whisk together your dressing ingredients: goat cheese, yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, grated garlic, and salt & pepper to taste.
  3. Remove and drain the potatoes when fork-tender, about 15 minutes.
  4. Return potatoes to the hot pot, add the white wine vinegar.
  5. Add the sliced radishes and fresh dill to the warm potatoes.  Cover with the dressing and give it a mix until the spuds are evenly coated.
  6. Walk away, put on leather motorcycle jacket, light up an e-cig and reflect on how cool you are because nobody else at the neighbor’s BBQ will bring anything as delicious as what you just made.

 

Helpful hints:

  • You can serve this potato salad warm or cold.  I prefer warm, because I like to be accused of being difficult.
  • This dish is pretty vegetarian-friendly.  If wanted to “beef” it up a little, you could add bacon crumbles or diced ham cubes.
  • This recipe calls for plain, fat-free yogurt instead of mayo.  It’s not that I’m some kind of animal or un-American, but mayo really creeps me out (raw egg yolks, you guys!) and plus is responsible for literally millions of incidents of food poisoning (I literally just made up that number).  Don’t worry, though–as long as you use plain yogurt (i.e. not vanilla) the tangy-ness won’t bother you.  Also, feel free to use plain Greek yogurt if you like all that protein.  The texture won’t matter in the end, so as long as you buy plain yogurt you’ll be in good shape.
  • Regarding the crumbled goat cheese, all of us smarties with Costco memberships will be pleased–they sell logs of Kirkland brand goat cheese cheaper than anywhere else (around $6, in the cheeses aisle).
  • You could swap white wine for the white wine vinegar if you don’t usually keep that on hand–and you only need a splash, so get your wine glasses ready while you make this dish!
  • If you don’t own a micro plane, consider buying one ($10-15, scroll up and click the Amazon link to your right and add one to your cart).  I used it for grating garlic in this case, but it’s also good for grating fresh ginger or cinnamon sticks and for zesting.  It only comes out of the drawer once or twice a month, but it’s inexpensive and handy to have.

Any thoughts or more ideas on this recipe?  Leave them in the comments, please!

dill radishes

 

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Cassandra can be found on Twitter @aclevergirl.  Learn more about her family’s unique challenges and why they have hope for a cure for Spinal Muscular Atrophy at byrdsforacure.org.

Everalbum

The innovative folks at Everalbum approached us with the news that their app for iOS has been released and I am loving it!  It’s the most intuitive and advanced way to edit, organize, and share my photos that I’ve used yet, and once I tried it out I knew that it was something I wanted to share with you here.

Everalbum

 

Everalbum is free in the iTunes app store (Android coming soon) and allows me to store 2,500 photos from my camera roll up to “the cloud” at Everalbum, for free.  When I’m ready, I can upgrade to the premium membership so that I can store 50,000 photos in the cloud for just $7.99 per month.  For the cost of one glass of wine a month at that hipster pizza joint I like so much, I can safely delete the pics from my camera roll and access them from my laptop, iPad and iPhone if I want to because they’re all on Everalbum.  This feature is a biggie for me–right after my daughter’s Make-A-Wish experience, I had to perform a “master reset” because my phone locked up.  The tech on the other end of the line didn’t tell me that doing this would delete all of my photos, and I lost some precious photos when that happened.  I so wish they’d been backed up somewhere, but I literally did not have the opportunity!  This was about an hour afterward and I didn’t know that I was about to lose them all.  Ugh.  That still makes me feel sick.

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Friends don’t let friends run out of photo storage space.  Everalbum is your friend.

The default privacy settings for every photo and album is strict–I am the only person who can view my photos unless I specifically choose to share it/them with someone, which is a relief for me.  When I want to share a photo with my sister, I click “share” and select her name from my contacts list and poof–she has it.  My sister is often stuck in a chair somewhere nursing one of her twins, so now she could flip through her Everalbum albums and choose which dozen photos she wants just me and our mom to see and which ones she wants to post directly to Facebook or Twitter via the Everalbum app on the iPhone she always has with her.  And we can edit a photo within Everalbum using all the same editing tools found in any photo software: adding filters, frames, crop, add stickers, adjust focus, sharpness and correct red`eye before I share it.


enchiladas
Believe me, these seafood enchiladas needed no enhancements–but if I wanted to I could do it very easily.
(I’d probably make the scallops look bigger.)

 

My albums are organized by date, and the user interface is beautiful.  My photos are backed up from my camera roll directly to my Everalbum account, so I don’t have to remember to do it myself later.  And if you’re like me and always take about five shots of the same image so that you can go back later to save the clearest/best photo and delete the rest, removing a photo from an album is quick and easy.

You will want to check out this app before the kids are all out of school and summer getaways begin, so that you can take the photos and Everalbum does all the work!

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And I was free to enjoy a baseball game with the twins while Everalbum backed up all my photos for me.

 I was compensated by Everalbum to review their product here, and it is genuinely a great app.  It’s a powerful tool for backing up and organizing your pics, it’s very fast, it’s secure, it’s free and it’s pretty–it’s like my antithesis.

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Cassandra can be found on Twitter @aclevergirl.  Learn more about her family’s unique challenges and why they have hope for a cure for Spinal Muscular Atrophy at byrdsforacure.org.

I’m Feeling a Little Icy about “Frozen”

 By the time I saw the movie “Frozen”, I had been hearing for weeks about how it was the best Disney Princess movie yet.  The movie was so well done, and everyone seemed to rave that finally the princesses save themselves instead of depending on a dashing prince. But when I left the theater after finally seeing the movie I was uncomfortable.  I didn’t feel satisfied.  That’s the movie that everyone I knew was raving about?  Eh.  As a story, it was entertaining but I took issue with too much of it.  I’ve kept quiet about it until now and I wasn’t going to say anything, but we’ve served some time in the children’s hospital lately and this movie is running on a loop.  After watching it roughly a dozen times last week I just couldn’t take it anymore.  Let’s get this storm raging on, shall we?

Okay–I wouldn’t go that far.

How exactly did Elsa come into her freezing powers?  She inherited them genetically, but when the king and queen brought the unconscious Anna to the troll he suggested that there’s another more sinister way but it was never elaborated upon.  Was that half-explanation necessary?  Am I missing something?  I found this a weak plot point, but let’s move on.The girls’ parents then tragically perish while away from their daughters.  Elsa retreats to her bedroom suite for ten years, mourning and lamenting the loss of her parents and also of her special powers.  “No it’s cool, we’ll just let the girl martyr herself and shut herself off from the entire world while she obsesses about her flaws and responsibilities and there’s no need to mentor her or otherwise monitor or ensure her mental and emotional health since her parents just died and left their ten year old and her younger sister in charge of the entire kingdom.”  That pisses me off to no end.  The implication that her parents had no backup plan–no Vice President to take charge and not even a Mary Poppins to care for their progeny–seems out-of-this-world irresponsible.  Gah.


She’d be on those girls like cheap plastic flowers on a macramé  hat.

 

And let’s talk about the sexualization of this female protagonist–as Elsa sings “that perfect girl is gone!” up on that snowy mountain, her modest gown and cape transition into a shimmery, off-the-shoulder, clingy gown with a side slit that goes all the way up to here as she sashays her way toward the camera with her sexy long hair flowing behind her.  She went from a tortured, chaste young adult to an unapologetic Jessica Rabbit with the power to kill.  She went from spending her days protecting others from her unpredictable ability to harm them by locking herself away to effectively saying “screw you people, I don’t care and I don’t want to hear about your problems.  Now maybe this snow monster I just made will chase you and kill you since I failed to kill you myself”.  Huh?  I’m still looking for the lesson in all this.


I’m not buying what she’s selling.

 

Elsa sure seemed in control of her ability to murder innocents when she first arrived at the top of that mountain, making sparkles and frost with a few flicks of her wrist.  It’s too bad she had to endanger everyone’s lives with uncontrollable ice daggers a few minutes earlier when she could have just made some chilly little poofs of prettiness.  She ran away from that problem and didn’t have to be accountable for her actions or even empathetic to the discomfort and inconvenience of a sudden and bitterly cold winter on her town.  In fact, she lacked empathy all around.  Elsa grew up obsessed with the negative aspects of her special gift and then when she was finally pushed, she couldn’t hack it and decided to abandon her sister and her frozen kingdom in favor of living alone as a martyr.  Am I the only one conflicted about Elsa as a role model?  As a parent I found her character disappointing–I mean, the character of this character.  Her character lacked character and integrity.  That’s how I felt when I left the theater and it’s how I feel each of the three times per day that one of my kids is watching this movie at home. (Sigh. At least three times.)

Not to mention NO YOU CANNOT MARRY A MAN YOU JUST MET.  What is this girl thinking??  She’s not thinking.  Anna has been abandoned by her parental units and ignored by her older sister, left to her own devices.  And what happens when the sheltered, smoking hot daughter is cast off into the world with zero guidance?  Well, in this case she was ready to cast aside all common sense and marry the first loser she finds, vulnerable to the influence of this handsome, selfish man who ultimately not only breaks her heart but also tries to kill her.  Anna lives in a fantasy land where everything and everyone are there purely for her delight and she lacks any sense of reality.  Her naivete is adorable until it’s not.  In the real world you don’t even kiss someone you just met five minutes ago, much less finish each others’ sandwiches and then marry them.  I’ve had more meaningful relationships with the mouth-breather sitting next to me on an airplane than Anna and Hans ever had.  It’s not adorable or endearing to completely commit yourself to someone you don’t know–it’s not a good idea at all, and it’s obnoxious to the rest of us.  I don’t want my kids to look up to Anna or emulate her, either.

You got on a boat with that sociopath?  Do the names Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood mean anything to you?

 

That leaves us with just two characters to hope my children will find inspiration from:  Kristoff and Olaf.  Kristoff is a realist, a hard worker, has is act together, does right by others and is willing to help those in need.  Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.  Those are all traits I try to instill in my kids.  And Olaf, well, he’s just adorable.  If he could just keep his face and his limbs from falling off, he’d be someone to look up to, too.  Everyone needs a little humor in their lives.  And “some people are worth melting for” might be my favorite line of all.  Yes, as long as you’re not a naive teenager and he’s not an evil jerk-face whose last name you don’t even know, some people are indeed worth melting for.

Get yourself together, Olaf.

 

Okay so yes, in the end the sisters saved each other.  Let’s ignore the fact that they wouldn’t be their situation at all if either of them had a healthier sense of self esteem or operated logically on any level.  The good guys eventually win, the scenes and colours are beautiful, the soundtrack is great.  I don’t mind if my children want to watch the movie (again. And again. And again.), but you know I’m standing over their shoulders pointing out most of what I just pointed out in my above rant.  Yeah, I’ll rain on that parade as long as there are lessons to be learned.

Let it go, indeed.

This better not be a thing, you guys.

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Cassandra can be found on Twitter @aclevergirl.  Learn more about her family’s unique challenges and why they have hope for a cure for Spinal Muscular Atrophy at byrdsforacure.org.

Water Park Woes: A Wet Tale of a Water Slide and My iPhone

Picture this:  It’s a hot, sunny mid-summer day in Phoenix.  I dropped about a hundred bucks on admission tickets to the local water park so that my child and I could eat five dollar popcorn and drink seven dollar sodas while we wait in lines for forty-five minutes each–behind neck tattoos and women with very ambitious bathing suit fashion–in order to experience a ninety second trip down a water slide.

It costs seven bucks to rent a locker there for the day, but I perfected the art of not needing a locker: put sunblock on at home, bring old beach towels which you wouldn’t cry if they were stolen, and bring a plastic baggie with your phone, car key and cash inside of another plastic baggie (to prevent any water from getting in).

That was a great plan, until that ninety second water slide thrust me so furiously into the pool at the end that my bag escaped from my hands and submerged completely.  My cash got wet, but it dried.  My car key became wet, but it still worked.  My phone, though.  My phone never fully recovered.

I have bitter memories of that day and swore off water parks and beaches because of that experience.

And then yesterday I noticed this on SkyMall:  a waterproof phone case with a strap and lanyard.

BE STILL MY HEART!  And just in time for summer!  $59 is much cheaper than the replacement cost for my iPhone!

Waterproof case for iPhone
Waterproof case for Samsung

 

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I do not have personal experience with this product (yet) and have not been compensated for this post.  I just think some of you folks would appreciate such an innovative product to make your lives easier this summer.  Happy Water Parking!

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Cassandra can be found on Twitter @aclevergirl.  Learn more about her family’s unique challenges and why they have hope for a cure for Spinal Muscular Atrophy at byrdsforacure.org.

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Happy National Drink Wine Day!

national-drink-wine-day-someecards
Did you miss National Drink Wine Day earlier this week?  That’s okay–you can make up for it today.  Go ahead now and don’t even feel bad about it.  This is a judgment-free zone.

Speaking of wine, Kelly and I recently enjoyed a Sonoma wine tasting here in Phoenix hosted by The Wine Road.  The venue–the popular wedding site and locally famous Wrigley Mansion–is a romantic and historic landmark which neither of us had visited before, despite both of us being Phoenix natives!  The home is palatial and sophisticated with beautiful gardens and an even better view of the entire city.  A must-see for anyone who lives here.

It was wonderful to meet and talk with so many wineries from Sonoma County.  Coincidentally, over the years I’ve become a fan of nearly any red wine from the Russian River and Alexander Valleys, and I was happy to learn more about the other regions in northern Sonoma County from all the knowledgeable winemakers who attended this tasting.  It goes without saying that  this area of the country gets some great weather, and the tasty wine and  the photo slideshows which many brought with them sold us that we need a trip to Sonoma and soon!

sonoma_county_map

Two wineries caught our attention and for two different reasons.  Alexander Valley Vineyards in Healdsburg makes many great wines, but their Sin Zin is not only delicious but also something that we can buy here in Arizona.

tn_AVV_Sin_Zin_2011_front_label

The other winery of which we became big fans is Carol Shelton Wines in Santa Rosa.  Not only does Carol own the winery and make the wine, she traveled to Phoenix and poured it herself!  We liked several Zins that she makes from a few different regions in California, but she suggested we try a chilled rosé.  Kelly and I both heavily favor zin, cab, and malbec but we humoured her–and she was right!  Her Rendezvous Rosé was crisp and fruity and begs to be enjoyed by the pool on a warm day.  We loved it.  She was so nice to chat with, and her enthusiasm was contagious.  I hope we can visit again one day!CAROL-SHELTON-WINES-4-13-1024x687

We wrapped up the evening enjoying appetizers and chatting with the Dry Creek Inn.  The resort looks so tranquil and scenic and now I really want to make a trip up there.
best-western-plus-dry-creek-inn-courtyard

Seriously, how good does a trip like this sound?!  A quick flight up the coast for a relaxing long weekend enjoying the scenery and the wine?  Yes, please.  I visited WineRoad.com and appreciated that it’s easy to use and has up-to-date information.  It seems like a decent resource if we ever do get plan a trip there.

Cheers, everyone!

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All opinions are our own and we were not compensated for this post.
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Cassandra can be found on Twitter @aclevergirl.  Learn more about her family’s unique challenges and why they have hope for a cure for Spinal Muscular Atrophy at byrdsforacure.org.

More Ninja Fun: Homemade Chili Garlic Sauce

I like to eat spicy things.  Almost nothing is too spicy for me.  When I go to Buffalo Wild Wings, I order the Mango Habanero wings.  When I go to the hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant, I shock the owners when I order my dish extra spicy (I must not look like an “extra spicy” kind of person).  When I make salsa at home, I use habaneros or ghost peppers.

It was obvious that when I saw the recipe for Homemade Chili Garlic Sauce in the Ninja Ultima Blender Inspiration Guide I had to try it.  The original recipe puts Serrano red chilis (stemmed, quartered), 4 cloves of garlic, 1/2 tsp Kosher salt, 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar and 1 1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar all in the single serve tumbler with the bladed lid, docked to the Ninja Ultima Blender and on pulse until you’ve reached the desired consistency, then simmer on the stove for 6 minutes.

The adaptations I made:

I couldn’t find red Serrano chilis anywhere here!  I used red Fresno peppers, which are larger but still pack a lot of heat (in the form of capsaicin, not a handgun).

I couldn’t find rice wine vinegar, so I checked the Internet and it seems as though rice vinegar may be used in place of rice wine vinegar.  I already had rice vinegar, so I just kept my fingers crossed that the Internet wasn’t lying to me and hoped for the best.

Lastly, I added a lot more garlic than the recipe suggested, and I used less brown sugar.  I wish I wouldn’t have skimped on this part, because I think the full amount of brown sugar would disguise the bit of bitter aftertaste.  So don’t try to save calories by skimping on the sugar.

Chili Sauce ingredients Chili Sauce blending Chili Sauce simmering

I plan to use this sauce when I make Thai chicken lettuce cups, or mix it with cream cheese for a chip dip or mix it with Ranch dressing to use when I want something to dip my pizza slice in.  The consistency and versatility reminds me a lot of sriracha sauce, which means you can use it on anything.  Sriracha is even in the yogurt shop near me, as a topping!  I like spicy, but even I’m not crazy enough to ruin frozen yogurt with sriracha.

So, enjoy!  If you have more recipes for something spicy, or something you use your Ninja blender for, post it in the comments below!

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I was compensated for this post but all views are my own, as usual.

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Cassandra can be found on Twitter @aclevergirl.  Learn more about her family’s unique challenges and why they have hope for a cure for muscular dystrophy at byrdsforacure.org.

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