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Fitness Friday

kettlebells

Monday:

I still didn’t sleep well Sunday evening but was determined to get to the gym.  I made myself crawl out of bed and GO. I started my strength program over again at Day 1.  Clean slate and all that.  It went well and I was pleased with the progress.  Bench is a challenge for me and I feel like I was able to get through the weight on that because I had so many days off from working out. Last set was 65lb for 3×5 and it was rough.

Deadlifts felt awesome!  That’s my favorite lift and the one I’m most confident doing, curious to see how that progresses.

I did strength first and did the CrossFit workout after.  The workout had a lot of thrusters in it (50) which I got through but struggled. I hate thrusters and this was even with an empty bar.  Legs were shaky by the end!

Tuesday:

Slept well, finally! But I stayed up later than I wanted watching playoff hockey (GO PENS!). I still got to bed earlish, around 9:15 but my body definitely could have used more sleep.

Crossfit workout today was a doozy, we did:

  • 500m row
  • 80 Jump rope (Or 40 double unders if you can do them)
  • 20 pushups
  • x 4

It doesn’t look like much but as you’re doing it, you realize how challenging it is.  Rowing started getting to me towards the end.  UMPH!

Wednesday:

Today was CrossFit + Strength training.

We worked on Turkish Getups today and our workout consisted of wall balls, lunges, and burpees for 4 rounds.  My legs definitely started feeling tired and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to continue with strength training.  I pushed through though and got my training done.

Today’s session focused on squats, overhead press, and cleans.  I worked up to 90lb squat and my coach helped me with technique.  He recorded me doing a squat and we looked at the mechanics of it and how I can improve it.  I loved this! It made it way more clear to me on the areas that I need to improve with my squat.

Press sucked because my shoulders were already tired from training.  I worked up to 50lb press, 1×2.  I was supposed to do 3×5 but that wasn’t happening today.

Cleans are meh.  I don’t love the clean and am still working on getting that technique down.

I made it! While I might not have knocked them all out of the park, I made it through training and walked away from this feeling good.

ETA: GAH! I realized later as I was scrolling through Instagram and saw my picture that I didn’t do the correct weight amount for my squats. I DID NOT reach a 90lb squat.  That pretty much killed my happy mood and made me cranky for the rest of the day.

Thursday:

Last strength session of the week + Crossfit.  Strength sessions are three days  a week and I try to get mine done before the weekend.  After talking with another student who’s doing strength training and chatting with our coach, we realized that the program we’re on needs a bit of tweaking.  It’s going a little too heavy too quickly and that needs adjusting.

WHEW! I admit when I saw the schedule I was nervous and had moments of, “I need to squat how much?!

So today while I did a strength session I dialed back the weight for the squats and bench. I kept the scheduled amount of weight for the deadlift though because I was confident I could do it (and I did!).

The Crossfit workout today was a partner workout with rowing and kettlebells.

I’m feeling much better about strength training and next week the schedule should be fixed and a little more approachable.  This also erased all the crappy feelings from Wednesday.  Knowing that my program is going to change, not doing the correct weights the day before is not a big deal.

Friday:

I slept like crap and totally missed the 7am class.  Fleeting moments of possibly not getting a workout in today and that wasn’t sitting well. I hustled and hit the 9am class. Mood was instantly better. Fridays are called “F&%$ You Friday” at my gym and our workouts consist of stations.  Today there were five stations, 1 minute at each station rotate through 3 times.

  • Wall balls
  • Sumo Deadlift High Pulls
  • Box Jumps
  • Push Press
  • Row for calories

UMPH  It was hard and challenging.  The recommended weight for the sumo was 55lb kettlebell and the push press was 50lb.  I’m tired as this week was my first full week of Crossfit + Strength. My arms and shoulders are sore. My thighs are sore.  I’m beat.

I could have gone down to a lower weight but I didn’t.  I stuck with the recommended weights and while that made me slower and I didn’t have as high of a score as others, I’m OK with that.

One of the things I’m working on is challenging myself and getting out of my comfort zone.  Sure I could have dialed down the weights and gotten more reps in but if I don’t challenge myself sometimes then I won’t make any progress. It’s not always about the reps or the time, it has to be about pushing yourself as well.

Overall I’m happy with this week. Yes I had some frustrating moments but at the end, it’s not really a big deal. I made it through the full week and added in some additional strength training.  I’m calling that success.

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Fitness Friday

Deadlift Weight

To be fully honest, these posts are mostly for me to write down how my training went for the week and to just get out all the feels.  Maybe you’ll find it interesting or even helpful so I decided to share the nitty gritty of training.

Like with everything some days/weeks are great and others are not.  Training isn’t always puppies and rainbows and with lifting I’m learning a lot about myself, some positive and some negative.  This is my space to work through all of that.

Monday:

Was rough. I didn’t eat well enough on Sunday and didn’t get enough sleep so I was dragging ass during the workouts.  We did a lot of thrusters and had to do 6 rounds of 10 as part of the workout.  I got through 2 rounds with 55lb weights (just barely) and had to drop down to 45lb for the remaining 4 rounds.  Still chasing that 55lb goal.

I also did baseline testing to see where my max weight was with bench press and deadlift.  I got up to 72lb bench but I think my max is closer to 70lb.  And 120lb deadlift.  I also feel like I can do a heavier weight on the deadlift but my hammies were like, “Nope, nope, nope” that day.

Tuesday:

Missed because I didn’t sleep well Monday night and went to bed too late.  BAH!

Wednesday:

First day of extra strength training and it went alright.  As much as I love lifting weights, I do struggle with it as well. It’s a HUGE mental game that I need to get past because sometimes I let the weight get into my head.  My max squat is 95lb and the program had me squatting 85lb 3×5  (3 sets of 5 reps).  I was intimidated.  I did it but it was challenging.

Bench and press are my weakest areas because my shoulders are my weakest body part.  Benching went OK but I wasn’t able to complete 65lb 3×5.  I did it for 3×3 though.  That’s going to be a tough area for me.

Deadlifts went great and I was able to do 105lb for 1×5.

Thursday:

Missed because again I didn’t sleep well the previous evening.  CRANKY.

Friday:

Missed because of lack of sleep.

Basically this week SUCKED.  I’m crabby that I missed three workouts.  This wasn’t a great week and I got frustrated with my workouts and lack of workouts.

Monday I’m starting fresh.  Brand new week and brand new attitude.  I’m going to start my strength session over at Day 1 again and not look back but focus on my goals. It’s time to get serious about my workouts because if I don’t take them seriously then I’m not going to see the results and progress that I want.

Here’s to looking ahead!

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Upping Strength Training

95lb Barbell

 

I have fallen completely in love with lifting heavy things.  This is something that I never thought that I would ever say given that my first run in with lifting and CrossFit wasn’t a positive experience.

I’ve found a welcoming gym environment where I can work on getting in better shape without being rushed or judged.  I started looking at other lifters online via Instagram and had a light bulb moment.  Powerlifting is a thing.  This may not seem like huge news to you but it was to me and it was empowering.

Whenever I saw people compete in lifting events it was either CrossFit, Strong Man, or Olympic Lifting.  I have a love/hate relationship with Oly lifts and I knew right from the beginning that I didn’t want to get into that. Competing in CrossFit or Strong Man doesn’t interest me so I assumed that was that and focusing just on lifting was out of the picture for me.

Then I discovered powerlifting which focuses on three moves; deadlift, squat, and bench press.

I LOVE THOSE.  And I can do those! Holy crap, I want to powerlift!  I started researching that a little more, found a nice online community through Instagram, and talked with my coach about doing more strength training.

I start additional strength training on Monday and I’m super stoked about it!  This program will focus on four areas:

  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Bench Press
  • Press

This will help me work on building strength and then after that program is done I’ll get a more dialed in powerlifting plan.

I’m able to do all of this at my current CrossFit gym and work on strength during open gym after my CrossFit class. Awww yeah!

Today I did baseline testing for squat and press to establish what my max weight is and tomorrow I’ll do bench and deadlift.  Then I start Monday it’s all in with a new training plan.

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Stuffed Chicken Breasts In A Lemon Garlic Wine Sauce

Transitioning from winter to spring in Colorado is always an adventure.  The days will be warm and sunny but the early mornings and evenings are still pretty chilly.  Sometimes we’ll have the occasional snow storm to keep us on our toes.  I wanted to create a meal that was light and fitting for spring but still hearty enough to stand up to those random snow days.

I decided on cream cheese stuffed chicken breasts and made a lovely sauce to go on top using 2014 Cultivar Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc.  The dish came out beautifully!

Stuffed Chicken Breasts with a Lemon Garlic Sauce

Andrea’s Stuffed Chicken Breasts In A Lemon Garlic Wine Sauce

  • 2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 4 oz Herb/Chive Cream Cheese (I used Kite Hill Almond Milk Cream Cheese)
  • 1/2 TBSP Garlic Blend Seasoning* (See note at bottom)
  • 1 TBSP Light Olive Oil or Melted Ghee
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
  • Zest of 1 Small Lemon
  • 1 TBSP Ghee or Butter
  • 2 TBSP Chopped Parsley
  • 1/2 C White Wine
  • Juice of 1/2 a Small Lemon
  • Toothpicks

Preheat oven to 4oo degrees.  Add in 1 TBSP of oil or Melted Ghee to a oven proof skillet, set aside.

Pound out the chicken breasts until they are about 1/2 – 1/4 inch thin. Thin enough to be able to roll them but not so thin that they fall apart.

Sprinkle some of the garlic seasoning blend on each side of the chicken breasts.  Divide the cream cheese into half ( 2 oz portions) and spread 2 oz on one of the chicken breasts.  Roll up the chicken and secure with toothpicks.  Repeat with the other chicken.

Place the stuffed chicken breasts in the skillet and place in the oven.  Cook for about 15 minutes or until cooked all the way through.  Remove the skillet from the oven and place the chicken on plates allowing to rest as you make the sauce.

In the same skillet that you used to cook the chicken, heat over medium heat and add in the ghee or butter.  Then add in the parsley, garlic, and lemon zest.  Stir and cook for 1 minute, then add in the wine.  Allow to simmer for three minutes and then add in the lemon juice.  Cook for an additional minute and then pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.

This makes a good bit of sauce so there will be extra for serving!

* I used Flavor God’s Garlic Lover’s seasoning but you can use any garlic blend you like.  Or you can season simply with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Pan sauces with meats is one of my favorite combinations so I tend to make a good bit of sauce because I like having extra for dipping or drizzling on some greens or broccoli.

The 2014 Cultivar Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc  brought this dish to life. The clean crispness of the wine lightened the decadent cream cheese while the bright citrus notes complimented the lemon and made this dish pop.

This chicken is perfect for those early spring days when it’s starting to be light out longer but the evenings remind us that winter is still there in the background.

If you’d like to try Cultivar Wine , they are offering a special promotion to my readers. Use the code CultivarWineFoodEmbrace when you order and you’ll receive 10 percent off your purchase.

Disclosure: I’m required to disclose a sponsored partnership between our site, Food Embrace, and Cultivar Wine. I have been compensated in exchange for this post in the form of product. All opinions presented are my own. I receive wine from Cultivar Wine as a member of the Cultivar Wine Bloggers group.

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Review: Sun Basket Meal Delivery Service

I was recently contacted by Sun Basket, which is a meal delivery service, to test out their program in exchange for a review.  As I’m currently still learning how to balance life with two jobs, this opportunity came at just the right time.

Meal planning is a big deal when you have two jobs and work weekends (I’ll dive deeper into this in another post) and while I try to have everything set each week, sometimes it doesn’t happen.  I’m not perfect and that’s the reality of life.

This is why I was willing to try Sun Basket and their meals.  I would have a plan, all the ingredients, plus the recipe to put the meals together as soon as I got home from work.  Sun Basket’s philosophy towards food mirrors my own, they focus on organic and sustainable ingredients along with organic and naturally raised meats.  They have several dietary options including Paleo, Vegetarian, and Gluten-Free.  Since I eat a mostly Primal/Paleo diet, I appreciated this attention to detail.

Sun Basket Meal Delivery Service

I signed up for three of their Paleo meals and the box arrived a few days later.  Everything was in it’s own package (for the picture, I double bagged the meat/fish), clearly labeled, and included the recipe cards.  Plus full instructions on how to return the box and shipping materials so they can be recycled and reused.

There was a nice variety of proteins and veggies with each meal.  The meals for that week were:

  • Seared steaks with porcini pan sauce and sauteed chard with sweet potato.
  • Pan-seared salmon with fennel, capers, and olives.
  • Chicken salmoriglio with charred broccolini.

Each meal is pretty substantial in size, easily serving both my husband and myself.  Two portions of protein were included for each meal along with veggies to create a side dish.  The only meal that didn’t have as much of a veggie side was the salmon so we had to supplement that with a side salad.  Not a big deal, that was easy and quick to put together.

What I liked most about these dishes were the creative use of vegetables along with creating pan sauces to go with the proteins.  It gave me some ideas to use for future meals along with introducing in some veggies that I haven’t had much of before, such as fennel and broccolini.

The meals are easy to put together and some of them can be turned into one pot meals, which when you just got off work and it’s late, these are greatly appreciated.

Sun Basket Chicken Salmoriglio with Broccolini

Currently Sun Basket offers free delivery to CA, WA, CO, UT, OR, AZ, NV, and ID.  The price start at $11.49 per meal and as I mentioned, each meal can either feed two people or provide leftovers for the next day.  Honestly, that’s a pretty great deal for meal delivery service.  You can pick a meal plan or create your own by picking individual meals you’d like delivered.

If you’re considering meal delivery service or are interested in learning more, definitely check out Sun Basket and see what they have to offer.  I think you’ll be pleased with the service and quality of the meals.

 

Disclaimer: Sun Basket reached out and offered me meals in exchange for a review. I was not compensated in any other way and all opinions are my own.

 

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Maple Bacon Wrapped Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

I wanted to make a snack that would be the perfect little bite. Something that could go before a meal or be a nice treat after. I had some dates and decided to stuff those with creamy earthy goat cheese then wrap them in savory smokey bacon.  These turned out better than I could have hoped and paired so well with the 2013 Calistoga Cabernet Sauvignon that Cultivar Wine recently sent me.

Cultivar Wine with Stuffed Dates

 

My husband is a HUGE fan of these little dates.  He basically wants them available at all times so he can enjoy a date or two in the evenings. This is very high praise, he doesn’t usually request things to have on hand.

They are super simple to make but give the illusion of being very fancy. Their decadent taste certainly helps support the hype. Perfect for get-togethers and special occasions.  Or just because it’s Tuesday, your choice. No judging from me.

Andrea’s Maple Bacon Wrapped Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

  • 12 Dates, split and pitted (**See Note)
  • 6 Slices of Bacon, cut in half
  • 4 oz Goat Cheese
  • 1 TBSP Maple Syrup
  • 2 tsp Light Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 375 and line a small baking sheet with foil, brush the olive oil all over the foil. Make sure the dates are not cut in half but just split down the middle lengthwise.  Fill each date with some goat cheese (about 1/2 tsp each) and then wrap in bacon. Make sure the seam side is down when you place the dates on the baking sheet.  Continue until all dates are stuffed and wrapped.

Place baking sheet in oven and bake for about 15 minutes. Watch to be sure the bacon doesn’t burn. Right before removing the dates from the oven, brush each date with maple syrup.  Continue to bake for another two minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Serve immediately or can be stored in the fridge in an air tight container.

**I used regular dates but you can use medjool dates if preferred. Those are larger so you may need more goat cheese for the filling.

You can get even fancier and used bourbon barrel aged maple syrup if you like.

I highly recommend making a big batch of these if you will be having them at a gathering because they will go quickly! One batch is perfect for date night but you’ll need more for a bigger crowd.

Since these guys are on the sweeter side I decided to pair them with Cultivar Wine’s 2013 Calistoga Cabernet Sauvignon which worked beautifully.  The black pepper and tobacco notes brought out the smokiness of the bacon and maple syrup while the dryer finish helped balance out the sweetness.  The wine also accentuated the creaminess of the goat cheese and complimented its earthy flavor.

You can also make these dates ahead of time and then gently reheat them at 350 for about 5 minutes before serving.

If you’d like to try Cultivar Wine , they are offering a special promotion to my readers. Use the code CultivarWineFoodEmbrace when you order and you’ll receive 10 percent off your purchase.

Disclosure: I’m required to disclose a sponsored partnership between our site, Food Embrace, and Cultivar Wine. I have been compensated in exchange for this post in the form of product. All opinions presented are my own. I receive wine from Cultivar Wine as a member of the Cultivar Wine Bloggers group. 

 

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My Whole 30 Experience

Mini Squash

Going into the Whole 30, I wasn’t really expecting to learn much of anything.  In fact, I wasn’t expecting anything about myself to change at all regarding food.  We eat really well and already eat a mostly primal diet with a few treats here and there.  I thought I knew everything about myself and the Whole 30 showed me that I was wrong.

I went into this challenge to start the year off by eating super clean and to work on losing the bloat and the few pounds I gained over the last few months. (A beer job means you have to drink beer which means that needs to be balanced out somehow. Lesson learned.)

Spoiler Alert: It worked.  Really well.

But during these 30 days I learned a lot about myself and how food affects so many different things aside from my waistline.  I’m already pretty intuitive when it comes to food and how it makes me feel.  The Whole 30 multiplied that by 100.  I’m in awe and completely inspired.  Here are just a few things that I’m coming away with from doing this challenge:

Take It Black

I mentioned in one of my earlier posts that I’m now drinking my coffee black, this is still the case. I have no desire for any sweetened almond milk added to my coffee.  The craziest I get is adding a little ground spice to the ground beans and brewing for a little extra flavor.

Added Sugar Is Everywhere

It was hard to find things like deli meats and sausages that did not have some form of added sugar to them.  While the amount is small, it is not allowed during the challenge.  This was my biggest frustration because we love sausages and eat them often.  I did find some compliant ones and they were alright.  I don’t want to see another chicken and apple sausage for a very long time though.

Cheese? What Is Cheese?

I was talking with another challenger about missing bacon and she mentioned that she missed cheese. This stopped me dead in my tracks because up until that point I hadn’t even given cheese a second thought. I did not miss it or even thought about it once during this challenge.  WHOA  I had considered myself a lover of cheese yet I completely forgot about it. I’ve had a nibble since the end of the challenge and it was – OK.  Just OK.  I’m currently questioning who I am and the meaning of life at this point.

Yogurt Is In

Yogurt I can handle in small amounts and I’m OK with that.  I do love yogurt and it’s also one of the things I missed during this challenge.  I’m happy to have it back in my life.

Sleep Is Amazing

My sleep, which had been spotty for a while now (and by while, I mean years), has returned to normal. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I can easily fall back asleep.  I’m not restless and I don’t have night sweats (which I get from wheat and alcohol).

Energy

I had plenty of energy and was able to handle working out just fine.  I felt a little tired towards the end of the day but in a natural, I’m-Ready-For-Bed way and not from feeling run down.

Empty Food Is Empty

I’ve had a few snack items, like some chips and they were completely unsatisfying. They didn’t even taste as good as they used to.  It’s completely true that in 1 month you can change your approach, taste, and relationship with food.  I don’t want to reach for junk because it does not satisfy and does not provide my body with anything good.  I’d much rather have real food.

Meal planning and prepping has also become a part of my regular routine.  This has helped so much during the busy work week that I don’t know why I didn’t start this sooner.

Even my husband’s tastes and attitude towards food has changed and for the better.  Aside from a few items added back in we’ll be sticking with a mostly paleo/primal diet.  There were times I got really annoyed and frustrated with this challenge but in the end I’m so glad that we did it.  I walked away learning that much more about food, nutrition, and my own body.

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Whole 30 Week 2 and 3 Recap

Tuna salad in a collard wrap with side salad.

 

I just wrapped up Week 3 of the Whole 30 Challenge.  So far things have been going really well.  The diet isn’t that hard to maintain and while it seems restrictive, the reality is that this challenge is not that hard. Fill your plate with veggies and some protein, that’s the basic concept.  That’s pretty easy when you can simplify it like that.

Things that I’ve learned so far during Week 2 and Week 3:

Prepping Protein Is Important

With my work schedule and busy off days, having protein ready to go for lunch is an important meal prepping step. There were a few times where I didn’t have any ready so carving out time to make some put me behind schedule.  Lesson learned, I need to have lots of protein prepped and in the fridge.

Re-heatable Breakfasts Is Key

Making a large fritatta to have ready for the week is also an important step for my schedule.  I did not make one this week and on the days I worked, having to make breakfast for myself and Scott put me a little behind schedule as well.

Prep Dinner The Night Before

On the days I work, I have to take dinner with me.  Leftovers are the easiest thing for me to pack up and take to work. I need to make sure that the night before I pack up my dinner so that it’s ready to go the next day. If I have to spend time packing it up before I leave for work that cuts into my schedule when I could be doing something else.

The biggest lesson these past two weeks has been to make sure that I meal plan and prep for the coming week.  Otherwise I’m scrambling to get stuff made for meals and that takes away from time I could be spending on other things that need my attention.  For this last week, I fully plan on prepping and planning a great deal this weekend so that the 4th week is successful.

I’ve learned a lot along the way and I’ll be sharing all about that when the challenge is completed.

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Whole 30 Week 1 Recap

Mahi Mahi, green beans, sweet potato

I started doing the #JanuaryWhole30 because I wanted to kickstart my healthy lifestyle right from the beginning this year.  2016 is ALL ABOUT ME.  Last year was supposed to be that way but I got derailed and let things slide. I didn’t really fall off the wagon but I wasn’t being as proactive as I should have been.

This year is going to be different.  I’ve started Crossfit, which I adore.  And along with that it was time to really dial in my nutrition and get on the right track for all the performance goals I have this year.  We eat pretty well but it could be better.  Whole 30 was a way to put the goal into motion.

I’ve been doing strict Whole 30 for a little over a week now.  This is my first official Whole 30 so I’m following the rules to a T. There are things I thought would be challenging and things that I thought would be easy.  So far, my perceptions were way off.

Black Coffee

Normally I take my coffee with a splash of vanilla almond milk.  I thought that switching to black coffee with a little coconut oil would be difficult.  I even thought that I might have to give up coffee for a month.  This was a breeze. I probably won’t even go back to creamer in my coffee after this.  After a week of having coconut oil blended with my coffee, I can now just have my coffee straight up black.  This is HUGE for me.

No Added Sugar

This is HARD. I’m not a sugar junkie and don’t have issues with sugar in items. I don’t even have a sweet tooth. However sugar is in everything! Finding compliant items like sausages is very challenging. Even breakfast sausage has added sugar.  And you can’t add natural sugars to items so no honey in salad dressings.  This would be the part that I find more frustrating. I really miss breakfast sausage. Boo.

Energy and Sleep

Right now I feel amazing. I don’t know if I would consider this the Tiger Blood mode because I’m still pretty tired and worn out come 4pm.  However, I think that’s because of Crossfit and not diet.  Crossfit just wears me out but in a good way.  I’m tired from working hard not because of diet.

Sleep has been amazing! Night time anxiety has gone way down and I’m able to fall asleep a lot easier when I wake up during the night.

Doing the Whole 30 has finally got me into meal planning and prepping habit.  I’ve tried to do a little before but never really embraced it.  Now, on Sundays I prep a bunch of foods for the week and have my meals planned out. This makes life so much easier, and saves so much time during the week.  Especially in the mornings when I can just reheat stuff for breakfast.

I’m not doing this for weightloss but if that is one of the results, I’m not going to complain.  I have already lost a lot of bloat and a few inches which I’m basing on the way I feel and how my clothes fit, not because I weighted or measured myself.  Saving that for the end of the challenge!

So far I’m happy to have started this challenge and am looking forward to seeing how I feel at the end.

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Smoked Salmon and Blue Cheese Ball

This smoked salmon and blue cheese ball is full of bold flavors and pairs perfectly with the 2013 Cultivar Oak Knoll Chardonnay that I received as part of their Cultivar Wine Bloggers.

Smoked Salmon and Blue Cheese Ball

 

During the holidays when I was a kid, one of the things that I looked forward to the most was the cheese ball and salmon ball that my mom made as part of the holiday table.  We only had it once a year and it was glorious.  I liked the cheese ball a lot but the salmon ball was my jam.  It was the only time I enjoyed eating salmon (I’m a grown adult now so things have clearly changed) and I lived for that salmon ball.

My mom was a proper 1960s-70s housewife so of course we had cheese ball when entertaining.  Sometimes jello molds as well but we don’t talk about those.

The cheese ball has died away and I’m not sure why.  Oh sure you may see some store bought concoction with it’s bright orange color and dotted with almonds sitting all alone on a table at a random gathering, but a cheese ball that someone made that’s actually delicious is no where to be found.

I decided to change that this year and created a dressed up version of the salmon ball my mom used to make.  This makes a lot which is perfect if you’re hosting a party or bringing a dish to one.  You can easily cut this recipe in half to create a smaller ball for smaller gatherings.

I used smoked salmon and blue cheese and paired this with 2013 Cultivar Wine Oak Knoll Chardonnay.  The butteriness of this wine balances out the sharp smoke of the salmon and brings out it’s briny bite.  The crisp citrus notes help tone down the blue cheese and helps cut through the creaminess of the spread.

This dish is great for entertaining or just to have as a snack while you binge some Netflix. No judgment here.

Andrea’s Smoked Salmon and Blue Cheese Ball

  • 8 oz Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 C Blue Cheese Crumbles
  • 6 oz Smoked Salmon* (see note at bottom)
  • 2 Green Onions, chopped, both white and green parts
  • 1 TBSP Prepared Horseradish
  • 2 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 TBSP Dried Dill
  • Sliced almonds for garnish
  • Dried cranberries for garnish

Add all ingredients except salmon and green onions, to a food processor and process until smooth.  Remove mixture from processor and add to a bowl.  Add in the salmon and green onion, mix till everything is combined.

Place mixture on some plastic wrap and shape into a ball.  Wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge.  Allow to set up for at least 4 hours before serving.  Best if made the day before.

Carefully remove from wrap and place on a plate.  Stud with sliced almonds and dried cranberries.  Serve with crackers and veggies.  Keeps for 4 days.

*The smoked salmon I used is from the Honey Smoked Fish Company so it’s not the typical thinly sliced looks almost raw smoked salmon that you’re probably used to seeing.  I personally love this kind of smoked salmon and eat it all the time.  If you can’t find this style of smoked salmon you can certainly try using the other version.  You’ll want to chop that up before adding it to the mixture.  I can’t guarantee the outcome though since I haven’t tested that out.

Dried cranberries are a great addition to this recipe so I recommended being generous when adding them at the end.  That punch of sweetness is a lovely pairing with the blue cheese.

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Disclaimer: I’m required to disclose a sponsored partnership between our site, Food Embrace, and Cultivar Wine. I have been compensated in exchange for this post in the form of product or experience. All opinions and recipes presented are my own.