Will Run for Crawfish: The Louisiana Blue Crab Run

Louisiana Blue Crab Run in Kenner, LA| southernbeets

Louisiana Blue Crab Run

Last weekend I spent the morning running along Lake Ponchartrain as part of the Louisiana Blue Crab Run.  This fun run was held in Kenner, Louisiana (a few miles north of the New Orleans international airport), and it was the coordinators’ third year putting on the event.  The mission of the event is to bring awareness to the Louisiana wetlands.

The event entry included all-you-can-eat crawfish, which was the primary draw for me.  That, and having a chance to run in a new venue.  The group was small (under 100 participants), and it had apparently decreased since last year’s run across the lake on the north shore.  There were a couple of big runs in New Orleans the same day, which may have drawn some runners away from this event.  The coordinators expected a lot more people, which meant there was no shortage of crawfish!  I ate about 5 pounds myself, and they were delicious.  As far as race runs go, this one was noncompetitive and relaxed.  There were no timing chips, and some people started late due to an early official start (I was one of them).  They did have awards for top runners, as well as last place.  The course was hot (in the 80’s, and it didn’t start until mid-morning) and shade-free, which was tough on this lady from the rainy city.  But overall, the awesome crawfish and relaxing time spent in the waterfront park made the run worth it.  In future years, I’d probably go for a run on my own earlier in the morning, but pay to come enjoy the crawfish boil for lunch.

Louisiana Blue Crab Run in Kenner, LA| southernbeets

Louisiana Blue Crab Run

Louisiana Blue Crab Run in Kenner, LA| southernbeets

Lunch provided at the Louisiana Blue Crab Run

Have you ran in any super fun races lately?  Or had a run with something delicious to eat afterwards?  I’m always looking for recommendations!

Saturday Happiness Inspiration: 8 Things You Can Do This Weekend to Smile

Happiness Inspirations for the Weekend| southernbeets

Seward Park in Seattle.

It’s the weekend!  And better yet, it’s a 3-day weekend for most of us, which means there’s plenty of opportunities to fit some happiness boosters into your weekend.  Greatist shared a list of 25 science-backed ways to feel happier, and I wanted to share my favorites.

1.  Spend time outside.  Even 15 minutes in the sun helps boost mood, and you’ll get even more benefits  if you do something active.

2.  Exercise.  This doesn’t have to be going to the gym.  Find an activity you love to do, or something you can spend time with people you love.  Even going for a walk around the neighborhood releases endorphins.

3.  Sleep in.  Getting enough Zzzzs helps restore the brain, and helps you manage stressors more effectively.

4.  Knock out a small project (or a big one).  Procrastination decreases happiness, and a sense of accomplish increases it.  Find something manageable so you can have the satisfaction of finishing it.

5.  Buy produce from the farmers’ market, then eat it.  Nutrients, especially from fruits and vegetables, can contribute to how we feel.

6.  Try something new.  Take a class or try a new sport with a friend.  Learning a new skill can help increase confidence and self-satisfaction.

7.  Practice gratitude.  People that purposefully acknowledge what they’re grateful for are tend to be happier.  Here is an easy gratitude exercise I posted a couple of weeks ago that’s almost as easy as counting to “3.”

8.  Connect with someone.  Positive relationships and connecting with others can help boost mood.  Grab a cup of coffee, go for a walk, or invite some friends over to make brunch.

I’m thinking I can definitely try some of these out this weekend.  What do you think?

Happy World Turtle Day!

Happy World Turtle Day! | southernbeets

Sea turtles in Poipu, Kauai.

Happy World Turtle Day!  It’s been celebrated on May 23 of each year since 2000.  It’s sponsored by American Tortoise Rescue and brings awareness to how we can help preserve the populations of these gentle guys.  TedEd has a video here that shows the journey of the sea turtle from egg to adulthood, and how difficult it is for sea turtles to survive long enough to create more baby sea turtles.  Sea turtles are one of my favorite animals.  Spotting them swimming along the shoreline seemed to be my sole mission last time I went to Hawaii, and I hope they’re around to enjoy for many generations to come.  The Sea Turtle Conservancy has many suggestions to help our sea turtles, and I thought I’d share a few:

  1. Recycle and buy sustainable products.  Ocean debris (like plastic bags, balloons, netting, and containers) looks like food, and turtles try to eat it.  There’s several “garbage patches” in the ocean, with some as large as Texas.  National Geographic discusses this growing problem in more detail here.
  2. Try walking, biking, carpooling, or taking public transportation.  Replacing some or all of your commutes with something that uses less gasoline can help reduce our overall use, and therefore decrease demand for drilling in marine areas.
  3. Haul out what you haul in to the beach.  Leftovers can attract raccoons and other animals that pray on sea turtles and their eggs.
  4. Use biodegradable lawn and garden produces to reduce the amount of toxins that make it to our water supplies.
  5. Enjoy turtles (and other endangered animals) from a distance.  As tempting as it can be to approach these gentle giants, many animals are easily scared away from nesting and resting grounds.

 

My Quick and Easy Thai Curry Recipe

My Quick and Easy Thai Curry Recipe | southernbeets

Chicken and Bell Pepper Panang Curry

I love curry dishes, and it’s usually what I order when I’m out for Thai food (pumpkin red curry is my fave!).  I found myself craving vegetables swimming in spicy coconut sauce, so I started browsing online for a recipe until I found one.  When I finally did, I couldn’t believe how simple it was (it’s more than boiling water, but really, it’s easy!).  It’s my new 20-minute weeknight dinner.  It only requires a few ingredients, and I can keep a stock of some of them in my pantry and refrigerator.

My Quick and Easy Thai Curry Recipe | southernbeets

Keep curry paste and coconut milk on hand.

I got my recipe for Thai curry from Rachel Cooks Thai, and I used a recipe for Panang Curry with Beef as a general guideline for meat and veggie curry dishes.  As for ingredients, you can buy curry paste and coconut milk at most Asian markets.  There’s different types of curry pastes:  green, yellow, panang, and massaman are a few.  They come in resealable plastic containers and are stored in the refrigerator after opening.  I also use an onion, a pound of protein (shrimp, boneless skinless chicken breasts, or beef for stir-fry), and some vegetables (a few bell peppers or a couple of heads of broccoli, or a couple of small eggplants).  If you’re able to find some Thai basil or lime leaves, that’s a bonus!

Here’s my basic curry recipe:

  • 1 can (13.5-15 oz.) coconut milk (if you use low-fat, it will turn out watery)
  • 2-3 Tbls. curry paste
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced into strips (rather than chopping or dicing)
  • 1 lb. cubed meat or peeled shrimp
  • 3-4 cups vegetables, cubed or cut into strips
  • 4-6 large kaffir lime or Thai basil leaves, sliced thin
  1. Add curry paste to a pan heated up to med-high.  Scoop the cream (the thick stuff at the top of the can) of the coconut milk into a pan and stir until well combined.
  2. Add onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until onion begins to soften.
  3. If using meat, add meat and cook until outside is browned (inside will still be pink).
  4. Add vegetables and stir well, so curry paste coats the outside.  Cook 5 minutes or until vegetables start to soften.
  5. Add remaining coconut milk and leaves (optional) and bring to a boil.  If you’re using shrimp, add them now and cook through until they curl and are no longer translucent (adding them at the end keeps them from being overcooked).
  6. Serve once coconut milk is heated and meat/shrimp are cooked through.

Serve with cooked rice, roasted sweet or golden potatoes, or your favorite noodles.  I’ve used zucchini noodles (“zoodles”) in place of rice and they were delicious because the zoodles absorb the coconut milk and curry flavors.

Below, I used a pound of shrimp, a large peeled eggplant, a large handful of baby arugula, and green curry paste.

My Quick and Easy Thai Curry Recipe | southernbeets

Shrimp and Eggplant Green Curry

If you give this a try, let me know how it turns out!  And do you have a favorite Thai or curry recipe?  I’d love to try it!  Comment below, or send me a tweet (@southernbeets).

Recipe Roundup: Sweet & Savory Beets

Recipe Roundup: Sweet and Savory Beets| southernbeets

Golden Beet Salad

Earlier, I posted my simple method for roasting beets without making a mess.  I love eating them with a little bit of olive oil, lemon juice, and sea salt, but sometimes I like to dress them up.  When I’m dining out, I see them featured most often in salads.  But their versatility and brilliant color make them an unsuspecting star in main dishes and desserts.  Here are some beautiful food blogs that feature beets at their best.

  1. Love & Lemon’s Roasted Beet Pear, & Walnut Salad.   Pears and beets pair well together (no pun intended) since they’re both ‘meaty’ in texture and mild in flavor.  Feta and walnuts round out this balanced salad with a honey walnut vinaigrette.  If you want a heartier salad, this recipe has quinoa as an optional add-in.
  2. Baked Bree’s Roasted Beet and Orange Salad.  The mild and slightly sweet flavors of roasted beets show off the sweet and tart flavors of citrus.  You can use a mix of red and golden beets to make this a colorful salad for summer.  The parsley adds some contrast in color, which could easily be substituted with microgreens.
  3. Delicious Shots’ Homemade Beet Pasta.  Ingredients are often used in pasta to add color (such as spinach, squid ink, or pumpkin).  Adding roasted beets to pasta produces a beautiful red pasta.
  4. Minimalist Baker’s Fudgy Vegan Beet Cupcakes.  This is a one-bowl dessert (yay for fewer dishes to clean!), and the beets add to the rich dark color.  The author PROMISES they taste delicious and chocolate-y, and not a thing like beets.
  5. Joy the Baker’s Chocolate Beet Cake with Beet Cream Cheese Frosting.  I absolutely love what beets do for the frosting of this beautiful cake.  The layers have a deep chocolate color, and the frosting is dark pink.  This not-too-sweet recipe may become my favorite chocolate cake for the lovely coloring alone.
  6. Design Love Fest’s Citrus Shortbread with Beet Glaze.  These hand-dipped cookies are simple and beautiful, and I’m going to keep them in mind for Valentine’s Day.
Recipe Roundup: Sweet and Savory Beets| southernbeets

Whole Roasted Beet Salad

Do you have a favorite recipe that features beets?  Please share by commenting below, or send me a tweet (@southernbeets)!

Easter on Bourbon Street

New Orleans knows how to celebrate, so this year I spent Easter weekend in The Big Easy.  I ran in the Crescent City Classic, one of the country’s largest 10k races that is held the Saturday before Easter every year.  The race was a beautiful tour by foot through the French Quarter and City Park, but it was also a great way to work up an appetite for Easter brunch.

There are three parades through the French Quarter on Easter Sunday, so I started my day with the Historic French Quarter Easter Parade.  The parade started at Antoine’s (and from what I’ve read, it used to start at Arnaud’s) and was made up of women dressed in their Easter finest, which includes those fabulous hats.   Rather than use floats, the women traveled in the back of convertibles and carriages drawn by mules.  While they made their way to church at Saint Louis Cathedral, I made my way to brunch.

Easter on Bourbon Street| southernbeets

Dressed in their Easter Best in the Historic French Quarter Easter Day Parade

Easter Parade in the French Quarter

Easter Parade in the French Quarter

There are a few places in the French Quarter for a classy creole Easter Sunday jazz brunch (reservations are always recommended).  I chose Arnaud’s because I love the food and service, and because it’s along the parade route of the second parade of the day.  I started out with a mimosa made with fresh orange juice, then savored oysters, filet, and my favorite dessert in the world, Strawberries Arnaud.  As with all of their jazz brunches, there was a jazz trio taking requests around the dining room.  And on this day, the Easter Bunny was handing out sweet treats to everyone.

Easter in the French Quarter

Easter Brunch at Arnaud’s

Arnaud’s also has a Mardi Gras museum upstairs that’s free to enter (just as the hostess).  On the way to the collection of ball gowns, you’ll see a collection of Easter hats from past historic parades to your right.

After brunch, I walked outside to Bourbon Street just in time to catch the Chris Owens French Quarter Easter Parade.  It’s full of floats, entertaining acts, and plenty of bead throws.  And like the official Mardi Gras parades, this is a family-friendly event, so only hands were being raised for beads (tourist tip: flashing is frowned upon by the locals and grounds for arrest despite what you’ve seen on tv!).

Easter in the French Quarter

The Chris Owens French Quarter Easter Parade

Easter in the French Quarter

The Chris Owens French Quarter Easter Parade

There was also a Gay Easter Parade in the afternoon on Easter Sunday that I heard is fantastic, but I was ready for an Easter nap by that time.  Overall, I thought New Orleans was a great place to celebrate the holiday weekend.  You can get more information here to plan next year’s Easter adventure.

Recipe Roundup: Celebrate Spring with Strawberries

I love this time of year for cooking.  Farmer’s markets are starting to fill up with fresh produce, and I start doing more of my shopping here than at the grocery store.  It’s the height of strawberry season (hooray!), so I thought I’d share some of my favorite strawberry recipes.

1.  The Pioneer Woman’s Chocolate Strawberry Nutella Cake.  It’s a chocolate buttermilk cake topped with Nutella (genius!), whipped cream, and a pile of strawberries.  The recipe is fairly simple (no folding in egg whites), and The Pioneer Woman has a series of beautiful photos that illustrate how to assemble it.

2.  I Am Baker’s Red Velvet Sugar Cookie Shortcake.  I love red velvet, sugar cookies, and strawberry shortcake, and this is some trifecta of a dessert.  The author provides a link to her favorite sugar cookie recipe, or feel free to use your own.

3.  Kitchen Konfidence’s Strawberry Rhubarb Chia Cups.  If you’re looking for a healthier treat, this dessert packs all the strawberry sweetness plus the benefits of chai seeds.  It’s also a perfect excuse to eat dessert for breakfast.

4.  David Lebovitz’s Strawberry Rhubarb Compote.  If you haven’t checked out David’s food + Paris blog yet, head on over and let the drooling begin.  I’ve never been disappointed by anything I’ve made from his blog.

5.  spontaneous tomato’s Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb Tart.  This reminds me of a grown-up version of the strawberry rhubarb dessert my mom made for me as a kid.  Not only is this tart beautiful, but it incorporates browned butter (if you haven’t tried using it for baking yet, get ready for your life to change).

Any other favorite strawberry recipes to share?  Comment below, or hit me up on twitter (@southernbeets).  I still have time to try out a few more before the season is over.

My Favorite Strawberry Recipes| southernbeets

My Lunar New Year-Themed Shortcake from the Year of the Snake