As I get ready for my next snowboard trip, I have been reminiscing of the trip I took last season. Most people are familiar with the legendary largest ski resort in Canada also known as Whistler Blackcomb but have you heard of the 2nd largest? I didn’t at the time.. Maybe that was just me? Regardless, Sun Peaks resort is a world class ski resort that brings a unique experience that competes with Whistler.  

Honestly, I cannot compare the two resorts as far as ski conditions because I have only been to Whistler in the summer to ride the mountain bike park. So please take my comparisons lightly. My goal is to go to Whistler next winter season when we’re expected to have better conditions than the unpredictable El Niño pattern we’re experiencing now.

Although I haven’t yet experienced the snow in Whistler, I think I can expect the quality of snow to be much like the PNW region where I live. The snow at Sun Peaks was much dryer and lighter than I was familiar with, maybe because it seems like less humid and colder climate. My coldest day there dropped to -14° Celsius. Factor in the wind chill and it was bone chilling cold at times. One of my favorite lifts was the Burfield express which crosses a wide-open terrain and reaches the highest peak of the resort. If they could make that a covered lift to block the wind, that would be great (Lumbergh’s Voice). The Burfield lift gave access to some of my favorite runs with deep powder, I spent a lot of time on that side of the resort.

Back in Time Trail

Not only was the condition of the snow great but also the accessibility of so many amazing trails. The condo we rented was on the side of the village near Mt Morrisey. The main village is located on side of Mt Tod. There aren’t as many as runs on Mt Morrisey, but it is less crowded and just as much fun to be had. We found you can take the “back in time” trail to get back over to Mt Tod by reaching the Burfield base area. It’s slightly difficult taking the back in time trail on a snowboard at first because of some flat spots, but just get as much speed as possible and you shouldn’t have much trouble. Pro-tip, don’t follow your buddy who thinks they found a “short-cut” through some residential areas to get back to the Mt Tod side. Most likely they don’t know where they’re going and you’ll end up having to hike a couple miles back to the main village. Maybe you get lucky and catch a ride on a shuttle or passer by but if not, it’s not fun. After a couple of my buddy’s “short-cuts” I stopped following him and said “smell ya later dude”. That decision paid off more than once.

Stepping out the condo to start boarding

The condo we booked was located about ½ mile from the village and paid about $120 USD per night. It was a nice 2 BD, 2BA condo with a full kitchen, laundry, hot tub and underground parking. Located perfectly in a quiet neighborhood with views of the ski lifts from the balcony.

The village is not as large as Whistler, but has everything you need. Plenty of shopping, restaurants, bars, grocery and liquor stores. On the first day we got supplies from the supermarket in the village to save money on breakfast and snacks. Other times we just hit up some of the restaurants such as Oya a Japanese restaurant and Mantles restaurant and lounge. These were probably my favorite places we ate otherwise you can’t go wrong with any of the pizza restaurants.

Bento lunch at Oya

It seemed like the night life wasn’t as abundant as Whistler’s, not necessarily a bad thing if you’re not into that, but I like to party. Overall Sun Peaks has more of a quiet family getaway vibe. It’s perfect if you are looking for a less crowded relaxed experience.

Shot from the drive through Bellingham Wa

I can say for sure the drive to Whistler is far more scenic than it is to and from Sun Peaks. This is not a deal breaker by any means but the drive to and from Whistler is breath-taking at times, it’s hard to beat. Driving to Sun Peaks is just mostly highway views of the mountains, a mostly standard experience of driving to most ski resorts.

Overall Sun Peaks was a great snowboard trip. It definitely sets the bar high as far as value for the amazing accommodations and experiences to be had. I look forward to going back in the future after knocking a couple other ski trips off my list.

View from Mantles Restaurant and Lounge

Congee is another one of those meals that can be easily made with some leftover ingredients. In fact, I don’t recommend making this if you don’t have some leftover rice already in the fridge, it just works better. Traditionally congee is made with white rice, but I used brown rice because it is what I usually eat at home. However, I wouldn’t get carried away and use just any kind of rice because a short grain type of rice is going to work best. Congee is best during cold weather months and when you are not feeling well. It will cure the common cold.

Ingredients

2 cp Cooked Brown Rice (cooled preferably leftover)

1 qt Low Sodium Chicken Stock

2 cp water

1 small yellow Onion diced

2 clove garlic chopped

½ Roasted Chicken (cooled and shredded)

¼ cp Maggi

Salt and Pepper to taste

Green onions sliced

Sesame oil

Instructions 

  1. In a pot on medium heat, add onions, garlic and  sauté until translucent and fragrant.
  2. Add rice, chicken stock and stir to combine. Set pot on a low simmer and stir every 15 minutes for approximately 1 hr.
  3. Add water, chicken, Maggi and season lightly with salt and pepper. Continue to simmer and stir every 15 minutes for another 30-45 minutes.
  4. When rice is bloomed and the congee looks rich and silky almost like soupy oatmeal consistency then it is ready. Add seasoning of salt (or more Maggi) and pepper to taste as necessary and serve while hot.
  5. Garnish with scallions, sesame oil and drizzle of soy sauce or Maggi. Serve and enjoy.

Sometimes when I’m scrounging through the odd pairing of ingredients in my house, I come up with weird sounding recipes that surprising turn out well. That’s how this one came recipe came about. I had tofu, mixed greens, red onion and I almost always have ingredients to make a balsamic vinaigrette. The only thing I felt this dish was lacking was tomatoes. Either way, this was delicious and I would definitely make it again.

Ingredients

Blackened Seasoned Tofu

1 Firm Tofu 15 oz package

1 Tbsp Cayenne

1 Tbsp Paprika

1 Tbsp Black Pepper

1 tsp salt

Balsamic Salad

½ Red Onion Sliced Thin

1 Clove minced garlic

1 tsp Dijon Mustard

1 Tbsp Honey

¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar

¾ cup olive oil

2 Cups prepared Mixed Salad Greens

Caramelized Red Onion

  1. Slice ½ of a red onion thinly
  2. Add oil to a med-high heat pan then add onions
  3. Continue to cook and stir red onions until translucent with a caramelized texture, then set aside.

Blackened Tofu

  1. Cut firm tofu into 1” x 4” blocks and dry on paper towels
  2. Mix together Paprika, Cayenne, Black Pepper and Salt.
  3. Spread blackened seasoning on all sides of the tofu until completely covered.
  4. Put olive oil in a hot skillet med-high heat and carefully sear tofu until both sides are darkly browned.
  5. Set aside on paper towel when done

Balsamic Vinaigrette

  1. Add minced garlic, honey, mustard and balsamic to a mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while mixing vigorously to emulsify the vinaigrette.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Assemble

  1. Add caramelized onions to balsamic vinaigrette and mix together to coat.
  2. Add mixed greens toss together with dressing, taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  3. On a plate, carefully place greens on the bottom, then onions then place blackened tofu on top.
  4. Serve and enjoy….

With the ever growing amount of Ramen restaurants in the Seattle area, Ramen Danbo is my new favorite. They have locations in Vancouver BC, Capitol Hill Seattle and coming soon to Brooklyn NY. Even though they are expanding their footprint and it doesn’t seem like an exclusive restaurant, it also proves they’re doing ramen right.

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Ramen Danbo Capitol Hill Seattle WA

I love the flavors of Ramen Danbo’s broth, chashu and noodles combines. You will not get served an over-cooked egg here, you can sense their attention to detail they take when making their ramen. Nothing turns me off more than when I get served a hard-boiled egg with my ramen.

The only thing I find unfortunate with Ramen Danbo compared to other ramen restaurants is how they charge you to customize your ramen if you want the extras to get it the way you want it. Obviously this can get pricey the more you add-on.

I had the Miso Rekka Ramen with soft-boiled egg, nori and kikurage (Pictured above). You also choose the noodle thickness, firmness and type of broth. Even with the added charges I left Ramen Danbo happy because I got everything just the way I wanted and everything tasted great. If you are ever near one of their locations give them a try, you won’t be disappointed. Keep in mind, they do not take table reservations, this is a very-much first come, first serve style of dining.

http://ramendanbo.com/

Depending on where you live, you might notice fresh juice and Acai bowl shops are becoming more popular. Although, finding a good one isn’t always that easy. My favorite shop that I’ve tried so far, happens to be a 5-minute drive from my home.

HB Beverage Co. started up as a food truck then moved into their brick and mortar shop off NE 124th ST. in Kirkland WA after they gained some popularity. I’ll admit, I never got the chance to try them when they were in the food truck, I would drive by them daily on the way to work and see the line of people getting their juice and bowl fix. I was actually on a date with this girl who was gushing about how much she loved them (maybe the date might have gone better if I just took her there) then I decided to give it a try. Like most of my dates, it didn’t work out, but I did fall in love with HB beverage co. I was almost going once a week in the summer because it’s so good on a hot day but don’t get me wrong, they’re great in the colder months too.

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My favorites are the Acai and Dragon Bowl, sometimes add peanut butter. Another favorite is the ginger, cayenne, turmeric, lemon shot. One shot will wake you right up and tastes great.

They also have seasonal items like the Yam-Yam bowl (Pictured Left) with sweet potato, banana, cashew-cream which I was skeptical of, but it was amazing.

If you’re in the area for breakfast, lunch or snack, give them a try.

 

 

HB Beverage Co

 

Pineapple, Mango, Ginger and Blueberry, Strawberry

Start by completing your 1st step of making your Kombucha 7+ day process. Once the kombucha is ready to bottle, prepare your flavorings. I always keep bags of frozen mixed fruit (usually with strawberry, mango, pineapple and blueberries) that I use to make protein shakes in the morning. Since I already have them in the freezer, it’s convenient to start the 2nd fermentation for kombucha.  I also make sure to buy fresh ginger root at least a day before I’m ready to bottle.

Using spoon, peel ginger root. Then chop ginger into bite size pieces and put in a blender. Add ¼ cup frozen mango and pineapple. Fill about halfway up the fruit with water (approx. ¼ cup), add 1 tsp vanilla extract and 2 Tbsp of organic sugar then blend together. If you have a ninja or nutria-bullet style smaller blender, I find those work best.

For the next flavor take ¼ cup frozen strawberries and ¼ cup blueberry and put in a blender. Add cold water until about halfway up the side of the fruit to help blend with 2 Tbsp of organic sugar. Blend well and taste if the sweetness is to your liking then adjust if necessary.

Spoon each mix about 1 inch in each of the bottles. This should yield about 3 bottles of each flavor in 18oz bottles. Or if you have larger grolsch style bottles, do 1 each. Fill the bottles with your kombucha and let ferment 2-3 days burping the air each day so you do not have any explosions or loss of product when you are ready to drink.

IMG_6798.jpgYou can drink as is, or strain. I prefer to strain because it is easier to drink and the flavor for me is just better. Enjoy…

When I do meal prep I try to plan on having at least one different protein in the mix to change it up. Although the sides are the same in this prep, having a different flavored protein keeps things interesting enough that I typically won’t get tired of eating the same thing as quickly. That being said, I did eventually get bored of eating the same thing after day 4. Unfortunately, I will be back to the drawing board to make the meal prep more diverse. I suggest freezing some of the ingredients for later, which I regret I didn’t do. I try to avoid freezing what I cook because I think the food becomes bland when it’s frozen then re-heated. I think this is one of the reasons you see such high sodium content in frozen foods. If you are cooking for 2 people, this is probably the perfect amount.

The key to putting this large prep together requires timing and having all your “mise en place” ready to go. The order in which you prep and cook everything will save you time and energy so you’ll feel like cooking every week is not such a chore. Plan ahead and think about what takes longest to cook and start there and work your way down to the quick cooking ingredients. I began cooking  the potatoes, rice and vegetables, then finished the proteins.

Altogether with prep and cleanup, the total cook time took me about 3 hours. Don’t feel discouraged if it takes you longer, with practice you will get faster.

Ingredients

5 ea. 4 oz Pork Chops

2 ea. 8oz Chicken Breasts

8oz. Shrimp

2 ea. Cauliflower heads

3 ea. Bell Peppers (1 Red, 1 Yellow and 1 Orange)

1 ea. Yellow Onion

1 Large bag Kale chopped

2 cups Brown Rice

3 ea. Sweet Potatoes

1 ea. Head of Garlic

2 Tbsp Red Chili Flakes

1/4 cp White wine

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp un-salted butter

Directions

Brown Rice

Rinse brown rice under water until the water rinses mostly clear.

Add cold water until it covers the knuckles on your hand when it’s placed on top of the rice.

Start rice in cooker and turn on to cook.

Once the rice is done, let it cool till room temp or put in fridge to cool quickly.

Tip: Start cooking the rice early in the morning or mid-day so you can come back to it when it’s ready.

Sweet Potatoes

Pre-heat your oven to 425°

Scrub clean sweet potatoes in cold water (3 ea. For this prep).

Dry then rub potatoes with olive oil and season with S&P.

Wrap the potatoes in foil and cook in oven 45 minutes or until tender.

When done, cool to room temp then roll-cut into bite size pieces.

Roasted Cauliflower

While sweet potatoes are cooking, chop 5 cloves of garlic and put in large bowl.

Rinse and chop cauliflower into bite size pieces.

Add cauliflower to bowl and season with red pepper flakes, S&P then toss with olive oil.

Place on cooking sheet in an even layer and cook for 15-20 minutes. Flip and cook an additional 10 minutes until golden brown.

Let cool till room temp.

Pork Chops

Take 5 ea. 4oz Pork chops put on a plate and seasoned with S&P.

In a pan on med-high heat, drizzle 1 TBSP olive oil and sear all sides of the pork chops until browned.

Place seared chops in a baking pan.

In a small bowl pour 1 can of cream of mushroom soup with ½ can of water and whisk together. Once combined, spoon the soup over each pork chop then poor the rest in the pan.

Place pan in the same 425° oven and cook for 20-30 minutes or until cooked through. Cook time depends on the thickness of your chops. If you want to play it safe use a thermometer until their temp reaches 145°.

Nutrition Info: Per Serving: 210 calories; 8.5  9.6  23.6  65  924 

Peppers and Onions

Cut 1 ea. Yellow onion into slices and begin sautéing slowly on med heat.

Slice 1 ea. Red, Yellow and Orange peppers and de-seed.

Once onions are beginning to become translucent, add peppers to pan,

Continue to cook until onions and peppers become slightly carmelized, then you can remove them from the pan and put them on plate or any other container to cool.

Kale

Place a large pan or preferably a wok on medium heat.

Prepare one bag of wash and rinsed chopped kale by removing the stems. If you prefer the extra fiber, then you can leave the stems on… Extra fiber never heart anybody (don’t quote me on that) I don’t like the taste and you have to cook the kale longer.

Drizzle 1-2 TBSP olive oil in pan then add the kale. Sauté until wilted and stems are cooked through then season with S&P.

Tip: Add a couple TBSP of water to steam especially if you keep the stems on.

Once cooked through about 5-10 minutes, remove kale from pan and let cool room temp.

Chicken Breast

Butterfly 2 large 8oz ea. chicken breasts and season with S&P.

(You can use the same pan used for the onions and peppers after making sure it is wiped clean)

Place a pan on med-high heat, drizzle 1 Tbsp olive oil and sear both sides of the chicken breast until browned then place in the same 425° oven

Cook for 4-5 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Check temp is reaches 160-165° or until juices are clear.

Set aside on plate to let cool.

Shrimp

I used about 8oz frozen shrimp, thawed and peeled.

Set another pan on med-low heat and add 3 cloves of chopped garlic and red chili flake.

Immediately when fragrant, turn pan to med-high add shrimp then season with S&P.

Add tsp lemon juice, ¼ cup white wine then reduce by half.

Once shrimp are in a slight “C” shape and look opaque, then they’re done.

Remove the pan from heat and add 1 Tbsp room temp diced butter then stir or monté to bring sauce together.

Place in another container to cool.

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Assembly

Put out 10 large containers and then when food is cooled to at least room temp get ready to distribute.

Place 1 cup of brown rice into 5 of the containers and 1 cup sweet potatoes in the other 5.

Distribute the sautéed kale, roasted cauliflower, peppers and onions into each of the containers.

Slice and distribute the chicken breast into 4 of the containers then place one pork chop into another 4 containers with mushroom sauce spooned over each chop.

Distribute the garlic shrimp in the remaining 2 containers.

Optional* Sprinkle sliced scallions on top of each dish if you like for a garnish.

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First off, I just want to say what an amazing FREE event this is for everyone in the car and local community. If you love cars as much as I do, then you have to make it a point to wake up early on one sunny Saturday morning during the summer to look at some beautiful machines. I made it to almost every weekend to grab a coffee, walked around and admired the scenery. There’s no better way to start a Saturday in my opinion.

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The Exotics at RTC all started by founders Paul Bunn, Greg James and Jason Stutzman back in 2008 when the gathering would take place in Old Main Street in Bellevue Washington. Logistically that location was not ideal for parking and large gatherings of people, so it’s popularity eventually faded away. That was until two event goers, Tom Nault and Victor Tiscarino planned to resolve those issues by seeking out a new venue and keep the meet going. Long story short, after the two found their ideal location at Redmond Town Center mall, the car meet was reborn.

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If you have a car that you would like to show there, keep in mind the event planners are very selective. The term exotic means the car should be rare, not a daily driver you see on the highway on your way to work. You are not going to find many tuner cars here, but that doesn’t mean that the event is restricted to just Lamborghinis and Ferraris. If you have a car that you are proud of, reach out to the event coordinators to find out if it meets their criteria.

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Exotics at RTC promotes specific event days such as German and Italian specific manufacturers to be on display. If you plan on going, I highly suggest going to one of these special event days because they are typically bigger and show cars within the RTC promenade itself. Also keep in mind the event only happens if there is a minimal chance of rain in the forecast. If you are a local you already probably know to check the forecast, but be sure to also visit their blog before you consider attending. I have a link to exotics at RTC website below, check it out for more details.

https://www.exoticsat.com/

The drive from my home in Kirkland takes about 1 ½ hours to the Mt Pilchuk trailhead. It is a scenic drive through Lake Stevens and Granite falls. Lake Stevens is where the actor Chris Pratt is from if you didn’t already know. My buddy who went hiking with me kept reminding us of this fact for some reason and now it’s stuck in my head. The last 3 miles to the trailhead is mostly dirt road with occasional large potholes. If you have all wheel drive with good ground clearance, this shouldn’t be an issue for you. If you’re driving a car you will have to go slower to avoid some of the large potholes. You can get by fine without all-wheel drive, it just gives you more assurance. In the winter time the trail gets a good amount of snow, so you definitely want all wheel drive available. I recommend picking up a forest pass at the ranger station if you don’t have one. Unless you don’t mind the $5 ticket you will receive for not having one like I did. Woops!

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The hike itself I would so is moderate to difficult. Most of the trail is well kept, has stairs, ladders and rocks to climb which makes it easier. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash. As you get towards the top, it gets more challenging as you have to scramble across rocks to reach the fire look-out spot.

pilchuk firelookout

 

Dogs cannot reach the very top unless you are brave and they are small enough to carry. I would recommend leaving your dog at the bottom where it is much safer. Unfortunately, we were surrounded by clouds so we didn’t get the view we hoped for, but now I am determined to come back on a clear day because you can tell the view would be amazing. Overall, I give this hike a 4.5 out of 5 for how much I enjoyed it.

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We stopped in Granite Falls on the way back for a beer and bite to eat. The place we went is called Buzz Inn Steakhouse. I highly recommend going here if you hungry or thirsty after your hike. It’s nothing fancy but affordable prices, good menu and everything tasted great. You will thank me later.

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$6 Mug of beer at Buzz Inn Steakhouse

Buzz Inn Steakhouse website below:

http://www.buzzinnsteakhouse.com/home.html

If you want additional details of the hike, I shared the WTA website link below. I

https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/mount-pilchuck

Featured Image credit: Norm Buckley

I know I know… Balls am I right? Nothing funnier than offering a family member or friends to try your balls. Who can forget the NPR skit on Saturday Night Live about Schweddy balls? Anyway, I’ll try to spare you some of my child-like humor and tell you about my balls. They are a great snack and if you eat protein bars and stuff like that, it’s a great alternative. I just store them in the fridge or take them with me for a quick snack. People will envy your balls in public as they should. This recipe makes about 15-20 balls depending on size and will typically last for a couple days. You don’t want your balls hanging around more than a week, keep your balls fresh.

Ingredients

1 ½ cp Oats

½ cp vanilla protein powder

1 TBSP Chia Seeds

½ tsp cinnamon

½ cup smooth peanut butter (Natural/Organic just about any nut butter will work)

3 TBSP Honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup chocolate chips cut in half (or try dried fruit cut in small pieces easy to roll into balls)

4 TBSP almond milk (Add more if mix is too dry)

Instructions

  1. Add dry ingredients, oats, protein powder, chia seeds, cinnamon, chocolate chips to mixing bowl.
  2. Add “wet” ingredients, peanut butter, honey, vanilla extract, almond milk.
  3. Mix together with spoon or dampen your hands with water to keep your hands from getting sticky.
  4. Use a small scoop or two tablespoons to measure out balls onto a parchment paper or plate (parchment paper works best because these balls are sticky).

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5. Using your hands, roll balls to uniform ball shape and store in the fridge in an air tight container.

6. The balls can be eaten immediately for all to enjoy.

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