Menu No. 5 // Beetloaf: Dinner with Friends

When it was decided that a few of us would venture out to Santa Fe for the Santa Fe Gran Fondo, we knew that good food and drink would need to be involved — with this group, it always is a big part of some really enjoyable time together. As I flipped through the pages of the Feed Zone Table, the 'Beetloaf' recipe caught my eye, if for nothing more than knowing that beet-loving Bryan 'H8ter' Reid would get a kick out of it. 

"I could hear those knife skills while I was resting my eyes," said Paula.

"I could hear those knife skills while I was resting my eyes," said Paula.

The Beetloaf recipe was similar to most any meatloaf recipe I have ever tried. The main difference was adding a few pounds of shredded red beets to the mixture. Other than that, you have onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, etc. just like any other meatloaf. Time in the oven was all the same as well. 

Don't wear anything white while you are working with the beets. Consider yourself warned.

Don't wear anything white while you are working with the beets. Consider yourself warned.

The always stunning Ms. Felix opening up the vino to breathe.

The always stunning Ms. Felix opening up the vino to breathe.

We decided to pair the Beetloaf with the Grilled Romaine Salad also found in the Feed Zone Table, in addition to a smoked Mozzarella and pasta salad. Did I mention wine, yes also a few bottles of fantastic red wine. 

The beet and beef mixture into the casserole dish then off to the oven.

The beet and beef mixture into the casserole dish then off to the oven.

The consistency of the Beetloaf was just as any other meatloaf I have had. Perhaps even a bit juicier. Some ideas I might like to explore for the next time I prepare this dish, one is to try some mushrooms, perhaps porcini or oyster mushrooms to give added taste and texture. And this dish was made with red beets and I am curious if adding golden beets would throw off the appearance of the final presentation. This dish, with that many beets, does come out, well, quite red. Again, I've warned you.

Give the Beetloaf a try sometime and share with me what you think!

I can't think of a better crew and setting the night before a big century ride! Cheers!

I can't think of a better crew and setting the night before a big century ride! Cheers!

Menu No. 4 // Kalamata Chicken with New Potatoes

This week's dish from The Feed Zone Table was a hearty and warm Kalamata Chicken dish. With the chilly evenings we've had this early spring, it was a perfect entree to prepare with the back door open. What I really like about this recipe is that most items are almost always already on hand in my kitchen with minimal prep or cooking time. Add in a salad and pair with a mellow red blend and you are set. Of course, finishing with a little sweet treat never hurts either, but more on that later. 

Hanging on to my old teachings of chopping first and setting aside for use.

Hanging on to my old teachings of chopping first and setting aside for use.

I love olives. During the heat of the summer, I will snack on these when I am craving salt after getting beat down on the South Ride.

I love olives. During the heat of the summer, I will snack on these when I am craving salt after getting beat down on the South Ride.

Lightly dredging the chicken in flour gives in added depth and a touch of texture.

Lightly dredging the chicken in flour gives in added depth and a touch of texture.

Adding in the potatoes, olives and tomatoes then finished in the oven.

Adding in the potatoes, olives and tomatoes then finished in the oven.

It was still a bit chilly on this early spring evening but dinner was served outside anyways.

It was still a bit chilly on this early spring evening but dinner was served outside anyways.

The recipe was to serve six but I cut it in half with perfect results. 

The recipe was to serve six but I cut it in half with perfect results. 

Simple Roasted Pears for dessert - more on this soon.

Simple Roasted Pears for dessert - more on this soon.

Menu No. 3 // Fritatta: an easy egg dish

This week's menu was all about simple, quick and hearty — and this easy fritatta recipe from Men's Health did the trick. Much like a quiche without the heavy crust, a fritatta requires some chopping, but little fuss. Bonus is that there aren't many pots and pans to clean up after since it's mainly made in one pan, a trusty cast iron pan to be exact. The nice thing about this dish is being able to have it for dinner and again for breakfast a few days later.

This fritatta was a simple mid-week meal that served as a sort of comfort food this week, but would be great for weekend brunch or lunch — or a great meal to make ahead of race day.

This fritatta was a simple mid-week meal that served as a sort of comfort food this week, but would be great for weekend brunch or lunch — or a great meal to make ahead of race day.

You had me at bacon. Saute the bacon ... you can choose whether or not you pour off the grease after!

You had me at bacon. Saute the bacon ... you can choose whether or not you pour off the grease after!

Use as much spinach as you want. Since it cooks down so much, you can add in a lot to get the added benefits of this nutrient-rich leafy green.

Use as much spinach as you want. Since it cooks down so much, you can add in a lot to get the added benefits of this nutrient-rich leafy green.

Keeping the heat at or below medium is critical as not turn burn the eggs.

Keeping the heat at or below medium is critical as not turn burn the eggs.

A pic just as the egg mixture is set just enough to then transfer into the oven.

A pic just as the egg mixture is set just enough to then transfer into the oven.

This recipe can be easily adjusted to suit your own tastes by in ingredients. I chose to throw in some favorite sundried tomatoes, but can also see olives and feta cheese as a great addition.

This recipe can be easily adjusted to suit your own tastes by in ingredients. I chose to throw in some favorite sundried tomatoes, but can also see olives and feta cheese as a great addition.

A quick 10-12 minutes in the oven to finish this dish off.

A quick 10-12 minutes in the oven to finish this dish off.

Out of the oven and time to plate. Next time I will add some fresh mushrooms and feta.

Out of the oven and time to plate. Next time I will add some fresh mushrooms and feta.

Menu No. 2 // Chicken and Chopping

After riding all weekend long I was craving something hearty and even a bit heavy. As I was planning out a menu from the Feed Zone Table, the Rustic Lemon Chicken and Warm German Potato Salad sounded perfect. It is refreshing to see Biju and Allen use a recipe that calls for bone-in chicken. Often, people are hesitant to try recipes that call for the use of bone-in chicken — it may take a bit of work and the use of your fingers at the dinner table, but the reward is incredibly moist and juicy chicken. I have had warm potato salad before, and if you haven't, I encourage you to do so. It is a pleasant surprise to the senses and especially the palate. Here is to another week of great riding and good food!

ON THE MENU:

Rustic Lemon Chicken from the Feed Zone Table

Warm German Potato Salad from the Feed Zone Table

Chop, chop, chop. Along with a trusty (and sharp!) W  üsthof knife, I got a bit of help from my sous chef with some chopping this week. But we didn't chop nearly the amount of fresh herbs the Rustic Lemon Chicken recipe called for, which was 1/2 cup — the dish turned out great, but next time, we'll raid the kitchen herb garden more and keep chopping, the 1/2 cup would've made the recipe that much better.

Chop, chop, chop. Along with a trusty (and sharp!) Wüsthof knife, I got a bit of help from my sous chef with some chopping this week. But we didn't chop nearly the amount of fresh herbs the Rustic Lemon Chicken recipe called for, which was 1/2 cup — the dish turned out great, but next time, we'll raid the kitchen herb garden more and keep chopping, the 1/2 cup would've made the recipe that much better.

Garlic, and plenty of it. Makes the entire house smell magnificent.

Garlic, and plenty of it. Makes the entire house smell magnificent.

Of course, there may have been some drinking involved while cooking. A vodka tonic certainly helped pass the time while doing all that chopping!

Of course, there may have been some drinking involved while cooking. A vodka tonic certainly helped pass the time while doing all that chopping!

Out of the oven, be sure to let the chicken rest before serving. I was at a friend's place for this dinner and used a stoneware dish from The Pampered Chef — not sure if it was the way that stone cooks or if it was because the size of the chicken breasts from Central Market were extra large, but the chicken needed a bit more time in the oven than the recipe suggested.

Out of the oven, be sure to let the chicken rest before serving. I was at a friend's place for this dinner and used a stoneware dish from The Pampered Chef — not sure if it was the way that stone cooks or if it was because the size of the chicken breasts from Central Market were extra large, but the chicken needed a bit more time in the oven than the recipe suggested.

From chopping to mashing with this dinner! These were not mashed potatoes but needed to be smashed, if you will. Then, folding the ingredients to incorporate the flavors of the onions, celery and coarse salt. I think with this recipe you could add a variety of other things to make it even better, from diced pickles or hard-boiled egg whites or even capers.

From chopping to mashing with this dinner! These were not mashed potatoes but needed to be smashed, if you will. Then, folding the ingredients to incorporate the flavors of the onions, celery and coarse salt. I think with this recipe you could add a variety of other things to make it even better, from diced pickles or hard-boiled egg whites or even capers.

A quick homemade dressing for the potato salad. The recipe called for stone-ground mustard, but only had regular dijon on hand — and also used a Champagne vinegar instead of the called-for white vinegar.

A quick homemade dressing for the potato salad. The recipe called for stone-ground mustard, but only had regular dijon on hand — and also used a Champagne vinegar instead of the called-for white vinegar.

Look how beautiful that garlic is now! Added garnish was nice, but my sous chef should've kept chopping and used those fresh herbs in the actual recipe! The recipe also called for red pepper flakes, but since my dinner guests were not fans of spicy, I only sprinkled a few on a couple pieces of chicken. Looking forward to kicking the spice up a notch next time.

Look how beautiful that garlic is now! Added garnish was nice, but my sous chef should've kept chopping and used those fresh herbs in the actual recipe! The recipe also called for red pepper flakes, but since my dinner guests were not fans of spicy, I only sprinkled a few on a couple pieces of chicken. Looking forward to kicking the spice up a notch next time.

Warm Potato Salad was a nice diversion on a classic recipe. Despite Spring-like days that make for idea cycling weather, it's still cooling down at night so the temperature of this salad made for a nice transitional side for this dinner.

Warm Potato Salad was a nice diversion on a classic recipe. Despite Spring-like days that make for idea cycling weather, it's still cooling down at night so the temperature of this salad made for a nice transitional side for this dinner.

Plated. This chicken was baked but my legs were fried after a weekend testing out a Pinarello Dogma F8 with the sweet SRAM eTap system, hitting up the velodrome for some track time on Saturday and then a hard training ride Sunday morning. A hearty meal what just what I needed!

Plated. This chicken was baked but my legs were fried after a weekend testing out a Pinarello Dogma F8 with the sweet SRAM eTap system, hitting up the velodrome for some track time on Saturday and then a hard training ride Sunday morning. A hearty meal what just what I needed!

The recipes in the Feed Zone Table are proving to be easy to follow and don't take too long to make — save the chopping!

The recipes in the Feed Zone Table are proving to be easy to follow and don't take too long to make — save the chopping!

And while the goal of the Feed Zone recipes are to be healthful and provide nutrition to athletes, the recipes make for delicious, hearty dinners to share with guests who don't spend hours on end on a bicycle!

And while the goal of the Feed Zone recipes are to be healthful and provide nutrition to athletes, the recipes make for delicious, hearty dinners to share with guests who don't spend hours on end on a bicycle!

Menu No. 1 // Craving Scallops and Keeping the Menu Simple

One of my favorite things to do is cook dinner, serve a good beer or bottle of wine, open the back patio doors so the dogs can hang out and enjoy a meal with friends and family. The Texas winter this year was short, and nearly non-existent, so I'm already looking forward to warmer weather, longer rides and dinners on a patio in the warm evening air. A bonus is that many of my cycling friends have become my good friends, and this year, I'm hoping to share many meals with them as I work my way through some recipes that deliver great-tasting foods but also serve as food to help fuel us as cyclists. Add in some great music and good conversation that inevitably turns to talk of cycling, and I think some pretty great dinners will be held on my patio this season. Get ready for your invite soon.

Have a recipe for me to try? Want to join me for a dinner? Email me!

FEED ZONE TABLE: Family-Style Meals

Seems that every cyclist I chat to about food has a copy of the Feed Zone in their kitchen. With easy-to-make recipes and some great options for portables, it's always been a go-to cookbook for cyclists. With this latest Feed Zone Table cookbook, the authors focus on meals designed to be served and enjoyed with a table full of friends, family — and teammates, of course. Chef Biju Thomas and Dr. Allen Lim have returned to the kitchen to champion dinner, the most social meal of the day. In their third cookbook, Feed Zone Table, Biju and Allen offer over 100 all-new recipes that nourish life and sport. This book is in stock at Richardson Bike Mart so as soon as the boxes were unpacked, I made sure to snag one for myself.

Science shows it’s not just what we eat that matters; eating together matters, too.

ON THE MENU:

Grilled Romaine with Pancetta, Hard-Boiled Eggs and Dijon Dressing from the Feed Zone Table

Pan-seared scallops with thyme from Men's Health January 2016 issue

The recipe called for grilling the romaine, but my well-seasoned, well-used cast iron pan worked just as well and offered the same smoky flavors. Since this is just a medium-sized pan, I had to trim the lettuce a bit. Looks like I need to add a larger cast iron pan to the cabinet.

The recipe called for grilling the romaine, but my well-seasoned, well-used cast iron pan worked just as well and offered the same smoky flavors. Since this is just a medium-sized pan, I had to trim the lettuce a bit. Looks like I need to add a larger cast iron pan to the cabinet.

The recipe called for a simple dijon mustard dressing recipe. I made this while I was frying the bacon but am sure it could be made ahead of time — the hardboiled eggs are something I keep on hand at all times for a quick snack.

The recipe called for a simple dijon mustard dressing recipe. I made this while I was frying the bacon but am sure it could be made ahead of time — the hardboiled eggs are something I keep on hand at all times for a quick snack.

Picked up a pound of fresh sea scallops from Central Market. For $23 dollars a pound, it was a bit of a splurge but each one was flavorful and tender. With no gas stove in my apartment, I needed to constantly monitor the heat so as to not overcook the scallops.

Picked up a pound of fresh sea scallops from Central Market. For $23 dollars a pound, it was a bit of a splurge but each one was flavorful and tender. With no gas stove in my apartment, I needed to constantly monitor the heat so as to not overcook the scallops.

The cook time on the scallops was short — and it was a good idea to constantly pull the butter and oil from the pan to drizzle over each scallop to ensure flavor. The added lemon thyme sprigs were a nice touch, but didn't offer as much flavor as I'd hoped. Next time, I'll dice some of the thyme leaves to open up the flavor as the scallops cook.

The cook time on the scallops was short — and it was a good idea to constantly pull the butter and oil from the pan to drizzle over each scallop to ensure flavor. The added lemon thyme sprigs were a nice touch, but didn't offer as much flavor as I'd hoped. Next time, I'll dice some of the thyme leaves to open up the flavor as the scallops cook.

Plated. To go along with the family-style idea of the Feed Zone Table, I served the salad on a large cutting board and let my guests eat off the board itself. It was a fun and different way to serve the salad — and hey, I worked hard on that presentation so serving it that way kept it looking cool.

Plated. To go along with the family-style idea of the Feed Zone Table, I served the salad on a large cutting board and let my guests eat off the board itself. It was a fun and different way to serve the salad — and hey, I worked hard on that presentation so serving it that way kept it looking cool.

Paired a Coppola wine with this dinner.

Paired a Coppola wine with this dinner.