Hiking with Marlboro Man

mountains2Marlboro Man and I went on a hike up the mountain when we were in Vail last week. I took this same hike last summer, only it was with my sister-in-law Missy and our kids. You can read about it here. I pretty much thought I would die on the mountain.

Hiking up the mountain with Marlboro Man this summer was much, much different. Here’s why:

1. Last summer, while hiking with Missy and the kids, we did not have enough water. We planned badly, and were out of water with a good hour to spare. I was gravely traumatized by this, so this year, I wasn’t going to make that same mistake. As Marlboro Man and I were planning our hike, I drove the point home that we must take sufficient water with us. So I went to a shop and bought a backpack that we could use to cart our hydration around. Then, while Marlboro Man looked at a map of the trail, I offered to go buy the water bottles and asked him how many we should get. In my mind, I was thinking somewhere in the realm of seventy.

Of course, he started with an opening bid of two.

To which I screamed “No! We’ll die!”

Then he said, “Okay…three?”

To which I screamed my fears of dying again.

I finally bidded him up to six bottles of water against his better judgment, but since he didn’t specify the size, I went ahead and grabbed the large bottles (the kind with the squirt nozzle) to ensure that, in fact, we would not become dehydrated. They were heavy, though, so I insisted on carrying the backpack myself. Then, twenty steps into the trail, I had to hand it over to Marlboro Man because I was winded.

Marlboro Man is SUCH a lucky guy.

IMG_96782. Last summer, while hiking with Missy and the kids, I got to call the shots about when and how often I stopped, and how long I stopped at a time. If Missy and the kids were ahead of me, I didn’t care; I’d sit and rest to my heart’s content. But this year, with only my spouse as my hiking companion, I felt immense pressure not to stop often even though everything in my body told me I was too old and hectic for this trail. Part of that pressure is that Marlboro Man doesn’t stop. He doesn’t stop, ever. And the other part is that I get somewhat competitive with Marlboro Man in these situations and I wanted to keep up with his agricultural butt. Here is a photo he took of me during one of .8 stops he allowed on our hike.


3. Last summer, while hiking with Missy and the kids, we didn’t care one bit about whether other hikers passed us. Because we had to stop and rest a lot, we were passed by a lot of hikers. This summer, however, being passed was not an option. At least it wasn’t an option for Marlboro Man. And since we are one flesh, it was not an option for me, either. Except the thing is, I don’t care if other hikers pass me. In my wildest dreams, such a thing would never bother me, irk me, annoy me, or threaten the essence of my being.

Marlboro Man, on the other hand, acted as if the hikers behind us were terrifying, scary monsters that we must hurry to outrun, because if the monsters caught up to us, they would eat us and, in the process, take Marlboro Man’s manhood.

IMG_9674-1Look at him go!

4. Last summer, while hiking with Missy and the kids, I ate an enormous burger and waffle fries when we finally reached the top.

This summer…well, I ate an enormous burger and waffle fries when we finally reached the top.

Some things never change.

I have two more photos to share.

IMG_9702This is a photo of Marlboro Man. Except you can’t see him because I have slowed down and dropped way behind. But he’s in there somewhere.

IMG_9714Wasn’t there a horror movie once where the person in the movie found a picture of herself with a sharp ray of light going through her body just before she met her demise?

Never mind. Don’t answer that.


Grilled Chicken Souvlaki

Grilled Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki Sauce

Of all the great meals that I had on my vacation in Greece a few years ago perhaps the most memorable one was the chicken gyros from a small shop in Plaka. The shop was so small that it was really just a window in the street where you ordered and then you got to eat while walking down the street. The gyro was easily the best that I have ever had! What stood out about the chicken gyros was that there was roasted red peppers layered in amongst the chicken.

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Grilled Chicken Souvlaki Salad with Creamy Feta and Dill Dressing

Grilled Chicken Souvlaki Salad with Creamy Feta and Dill Dressing

Not too long ago I was making one of my favourite summer salads, this grilled chicken souvlaki salad, and I figured that I would take the opportunity to update the photos for the recipe which I originally posted back in 2012! It's really hard to beat a salad with grilled meat for a nice, tasty and light summer meal, especially when that grilled meat is chicken souvlaki with its summery lemon, garlic and oregano flavours! This salad is super easy to make where you just need to marinate the chicken in it's simple marinade, skewer it up, grill it, serve it over a tasty greek style salad and top it all off with a tasty dressing! For the dressing I sometimes go with a tzatziki sauce but more often these days I have been enjoying a creamy feta and dill dressing which is just perfect for this salad! Everything in this salad works so well together from the juicy tomatoes to the crunchy cucumbers, salty olives, tangy onions, creamy dressing and of course the grilled chicken souvlaki! If you are looking for a nice, light and tasty meal this summer, look no further than this grilled chicken souvlaki salad with creamy feta and dill dressing!

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tomato and fried provolone sandwich

tomato and fried provolone sandwich

Last November, I finally got my chicken noodle soup exactly the way I always wanted it but when I brought it to the table, I couldn’t eat it. This happens sometimes. Sometimes I just spend too much time working on a dish and I’m rather sick of it by the time we eat it, in only the way that a person with first world problems can be. I chalked it up to that. I did not chalk it up to the pregnancy I’d found out about approximately 15 minutes prior, because my mother never had morning sickness with either me or my sister, I never had morning sickness with my son, and certainly didn’t think it was going to happen because of a 16 day-old rapidly dividing and already beloved cluster of cells.

what you'll need

The next night, the leftovers, wasn’t much better. How had I ever liked something so revolting? “Slippery noodles… soft chickeny bits of celery… sweet supple carrots… everything buttery and swaddling and rich…” I tried to explain to my husband who cracked up at how I could make even the most delicious things sound like a shortcut to the vomitorium. The problem was, my son went nuts for it. Every day he came home from school and hopefully asked “Are we having chicken noodle soup for dinner?” and every day, was crushed to hear the word no. My husband finally took pity on him a couple weeks later and made it from my recipe. I hid in the bedroom until the smell was gone. And so it went for the next 38 dreary weeks. Food was uninteresting or downright terrible. I was gloomy because I never realized how much my motivation here is driven by hunger and a now-elusive appetite. I wondered if it would always be this way.

masterful bread slicing skills

… Read the rest of tomato and fried provolone sandwich on smittenkitchen.com

© smitten kitchen 2006-2012. |
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Creamy Feta and Dill Dressing

Creamy Feta and Dill Dressing

Looking for a new salad dressing? How about this creamy feta and dill dressing? This dressing gets it's creaminess from a combination of greek yogurt and milk so it's nice and light and healthy. It's packed full of tasty crumbled feta and fresh dill for the main flavours and it has a hit of lemon juice for some extra tanginess. This creamy feta and dill dressing goes perfectly on Mediterranean themed salads, basic salads and cucumber salads and no matter what salad you use it on, it won't be boring!

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Strawberry Cucumber Salad

Strawberry Cucumber Salad – drizzled with balsamic glaze, an easy, light summer salad.

This easy light summer salad, made with cucumbers, strawberries, almonds and fresh herbs is great alongside grilled chicken, fish or for a light lunch you can double the serving and add some goat cheese to the mix or serve it over quinoa for more protein.

I'm love using balsamic glaze over salads, it's not just pretty it's sweet and tangy and there's no need for oil. Delallo makes the best one I've tried, but I've also seen the glaze at Trader Joes. If you don't have it, you can certainly drizzle the salad with regular balsamic, although it won't be as pretty.

Click Here To See The Full Recipe…

Cedar Plank Spice-Rubbed Salmon

Cedar Plank Spice-Rubbed Salmon – topped with brown sugar and spices
I'm excited to share this guest post from my friend Jackie from CAFE, Celiac and Allergy Friendly Epicurian (A great source for gluten-free recipes!). A wonderful salmon dish made on a cedar plank topped with a brown sugar spice rub. If you follow me on Snapchat (username Skinnytaste), you probably saw me making this on the grill last week. I've included both my grilling method as well as Jackie's oven method. Please welcome her…
I went to a friend’s house for dinner and they served a dish that ultimately inspired me to write this recipe. Besides the presentation being absolutely beautiful, the cedar plank salmon was so flaky and perfectly cooked. I couldn’t wait to try my own version at home.
I didn’t have grill-safe cedar planks on hand but I did have an oven-safe one. Either method works perfectly well. If you are grilling, just be sure to remember to soak the plank for about an hour and a half beforehand. 
The brown sugar contrast nicely with the salt and pepper in the Montréal steak seasoning and the paprika adds beautiful color in addition to great flavor. The combination of the cedar and the spice rub transform sometimes-simple salmon into one hot number!
Cedar Plank Spice-Rubbed Salmon – topped with brown sugar and spices

Click Here To See The Full Recipe…

Bacon Wrapped Guacamole Stuffed Chicken

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Weber Grills Canada. All opinions are 100% mine.

Bacon Wrapped Guacamole Stuffed Chicken

It's time to pull your grills out and celebrate summer by making these bacon wrapped guacamole stuffed chicken breasts! I took two of my favourite foods, bacon and avocado and combined them into a tasty dinner that is just begging to be grilled! Although this recipe might look a little challenging with the stuffing and the wrapping, it's actually pretty easy! You start off by pounding the chicken breasts until they are about 1/4 inch thick with a meat mallet (I have used a rolling pin to do this) and then you just place the guacamole on top of one side and roll it up. You can either wrap the bacon around the chicken one slice at a time to ensure a single layer of bacon or you can just lay a few strips of bacon out, place the chicken on one end and wrap it all up in one go. The essential thing about this recipe is to get the bacon nice and crispy and this is easy on the grill but if you are stuck indoors you can either pan fry the wrapped chicken and then place it in the oven or you can cook it in the oven and then turn the oven up to broil. No matter how you do it this bacon wrapped guacamole stuffed chicken is sure to be the talk of the town!

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Back from the Mountains

mountainsWe’re back on the ranch after our family trip to Colorado, and I feel renewed, refreshed, regenerated, reacquainted, reawakened, rebuilt, renovated, and remarkably rested. Part of that is due to the mountain air, part of it is due to the altitude sending my body into high-efficiency mode, part of it is due to the moments of quiet reflection I had on the mountain (in between my gasping breaths)…but most of it is because it was so blessedly wonderful to have concentrated family time after the busy summer we’ve all had, and before Alex leaves for college in three weeks, three days, nineteen hours, and fourteen minutes.

Give or take ten years.

I’ve got to wade through the photos and the memories of the trip and will share more about it this week, but just a preview:

* Marlboro Man made me hike up and down the mountain on the same day. It was wonderful and terrible.

* I ate the biggest burger of my life in between those two life events. It was wonderful and wonderful.

* I ate my weight in gelato during the course of our vacation. *Burp*

* Marlboro Man made me zip-line across a canyon. It was wonderful and terrible and terrible and terrible. But mostly wonderful.

* But mostly terrible.

Thank you for bearing with me during last week! I’ll post more details as the week goes on. Meanwhile, after the hike up and down the hill, the biggest burger of my life, the gelato incident(s), and the zip-lining, here are some more upcoming events:

* Alex leaves for college the third week in August. (Waaaaah!)

* My new website launches the end of August. (Yay!)

* My product line launches in September. (Swoon!)

* My new cookbook comes out in October. (I’m taking a little tour and I’ll post it soon!)

As for today, I’m throwing in a load of vacation laundry, eating a piece of Strawberry Pretzel Pie for breakfast, then taking Alex to the city to buy toiletries for college, of all things.

And I’m going to savor each and every bar of soap.

Gluten-free Recipes

Gluten-free Recipes

One of the most commonly requested features on Closet Cooking these days has been gluten-free recipes and an easy way of accessing them. As it turns out, I have quite a few recipes that are gluten-free, more than 700, and there are even more that can easily be made gluten-free! I have spent the last few weeks labelling/tagging/categorizing and pinning all of my gluten-free recipes so that they can be more easily found and used! While I was going through all of the gluten-free recipes I took the opportunity to roundup the 50 most popular ones, which you can find below, and it is a tasty collection recipes! That's enough rambling, on to the gluten free recipes!

You can access the gluten-free recipes by:

With full photos by published date:

All Gluten-free Recipes

Gluten-free Mains

Gluten-free Sides

Gluten-free Appetizers

Gluten-free Breakfasts

Gluten-free Salads

Gluten-free Soups

Alphabetically by name: Gluten-free Recipes

Gluten-free Recipes Pinboard

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