Arugula Salad with Grilled Peaches and Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese

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“Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives.” -Tony Robbins

For a little more than a year I have been changing my life by adopting a healthier diet and exercising more. For years I barely exercised because of time commitments, work, children and any other excuse I could come up with. Then I started to see the negative results of my sedentary life; I was diagnosed with hypertension. With a family history of cardiac disease I decided that was my wake up call.

I started exercising regularly, eating less carbs and bad foods and exercising portion control. I took up cycling, skating, running, power walking and Zumba. I feel 10 years younger and I have more energy than I have had in years. I have a whole new wardrobe that is 2 sizes smaller and more stylish. My doctor tells me to keep up the good work and to wear a helmet when skating.

It has been an amazing year!

My concern is that this past month I have been slowly losing my focus. I can give you lots of excuses why this has happened like work commitments, school, computer problems, bad weather and just plain laziness. They all sound quite logical but the truth is I need to give myself a shake and get back on track.

From now on I plan to get out running more and have started power walking home again. My wonderful bicycle, Victoria, is going to get a workout while I push her along the trails in the hope of beating my own distance record from last season.

Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” Lou Holtz 1937 – American football coach

As I get back on track I will be eating some healthy dinners like this Arugula Salad with Grilled Peaches and Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese. I found the recipe on Eatingwell.com and changed it up by grilling the peaches and changing the dressing. The flavour of the peaches is enhanced by the grill and the honey adds a subtle sweetness to the dressing that works very well with the goat cheese.

My friends say it is the best tasting salad that I have ever made.

Arugula Salad with Grilled Peaches and Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

1/4 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 4-oz. log goat cheese
6 cups baby arugula
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
4 firm peaches, halved and pitted
3 tbsp. honey

Directions:

Place pecans in a frying pan and toast slowly over med-low heat. Chop finely.

Spread out chopped pecans on a cutting board. Season with 1/4 tsp. salt and pepper. Roll goat cheese log in the pecans to coat. Refrigerate the log until firm, if necessary, then cut into ¼ inch slices.

Grill peach halves until slightly soft, about 1-2 minutes per side.

Place arugula in a medium bowl. Whisk oil, vinegar and 1 tbsp. honey in a small bowl. Add to the arugula and toss to coat; season with salt and pepper.

Serve arugula in individual salad plates. Top with grilled peaches and goat cheese rounds and drizzle each salad with 1 tsp. honey.

Recipe adapted from one on EatingWell.com

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Prosciutto, Fig and Arugula Pizza- fit for Angels and Demons

The first time I was in Paris I was reading the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown while I was on the plane to France. When I got to The Louvre I was so excited to hunt for places described in the book while, I was exploring the museum.

The last time I was in Rome I was touring the Vatican and Castel Sant’ Angelo. These two sites are only a few blocks apart and seeing them both in one day is a good way to experience the history of the area. What I did not know when I was seeing these sites, was that I would be seeing them in a movie, soon afterward. The week after I got home the movie Angels and Demons came out on DVD. I was able to revisit so many of the great spots in Rome while watching the movie. It was like reliving my time in Rome through one of Tom Hanks’ adventures.

Rome is a great food city. I love the espresso bars where you stand and have your morning coffee. I love the gelateria where you can go for sweet treats until the wee hours of the morning. I love the panini trucks that will make you delicious toasted sandwiches for lunch. I love the small cafes hosted by families that make you simple, but flavourful bowls of pasta for your dinner. I love the pizzerias in Rome.

I made this pizza recipe in memory of this great city.


Pizza Dough

Makes 1 pound or enough for 4 individual pizzas

Ingredients
3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. sugar
Extra-virgin olive oil

Pizza Topping

Ingredients
6 slices of buffalo mozzarella cheese, ¼ inch thick
½ cup arugula
3 slices prosciutto
3 fresh figs, quartered or 3 dried figs, quartered
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 tbsp. Semolina flour
2 tbsp. honey

Directions
Combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix until just blended, then, add 1 1/3 cups warm water. Mix until the dough comes together, then mix for another minute.
Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, lightly oil the top of the dough, and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot for 8 hours or until risen dough is marshmallowy.
On a lightly floured surface, use a bench scraper or sharp knife to divide into quarters. With lightly floured hands, shape the pieces into balls by cupping the dough and turning it against the floured surface until round and tight.
Transfer the balls to a highly oiled baking sheet or bowls, then, lightly brush the tops with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until tripled in volume, about 1 ½ hours. Use immediately or put a sheet of parchment on top of the dough balls, then cover tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 2 days. When ready to use, remove from the refrigerator and let stand in a warm place for 1 hour.

Place a pizza stone on the lowest rack of the oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Let the stone heat up with the oven.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until it is approximately 9 inches in diameter. Lay on a pizza paddle lightly floured with semolina flour. Add cheese, prosciutto, arugula, figs, salt and pepper.
Slide pizza onto the heated stone and bake on 12- 15 minutes, until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Slide pizza back onto paddle and remove from the oven. Drizzle pizza with honey and serve.

Let pizza stone cool down with the oven to avoid cracking.

Recipe for pizza dough from Home Cooking with Jean-Georges by Jean-Georges Vongerichten