California Walnut’s Virtual Dinner Party {& Giveaway}

A few weeks ago I was contacted by California Walnuts, a group I connected with a few years ago when I was more of a healthy living/food blogger.  I have now kind of stepped away from the food blogging, but when they offered me the opportunity to join a virtual dinner party and make a dish with their walnuts from one of 4 amazing chefs, I jumped at the opportunity.


Immediately when I was making my decision on which chef to choose, Aida Mollenkamp stood out to me.  She had a number of recipes that were already gluten free and dairy free friendly, and when I saw the Kale, Apple, Pancetta, and Walnut Salad with Creamy Walnut Dressing I knew I had to make it for the Virtual Dinner Party.

For the most part I followed the recipe above, but I made a few substitutions based on what I had in the house, and what I could find at the local grocery store: (1) I couldn’t find endvies, so I subbed in sunflower sprouts, (2) I didn’t have white wine vinegar, so I subbed in rice vinegar, (3) I couldn’t find pancetta, so I used bacon.  I do wish I could’ve tried it with the endives, since I’ve never had them, but sometimes you have to make do and adjust.


The recipe came together so quickly — the longest portion was the frying of the bacon (which took all of five minutes), and it was a delicious, fairly healthy meal that filled me up.  The only requirement is that you have a food processor for the salad dressing, but if you don’t mind it a little chunky, and more of a ‘spread’ I think a blender might work in a pinch.  And speaking of the creamy walnut dressing, I can’t wait to use on other salads, and possibly even as a dressing for meats!  Soooo good!


Aida Mollenkamp and California Walnuts for the win, that’s for sure!

I am so happy I had the opportunity to join the virtual dinner party — check out some of the other food bloggers who joined Aida’s Virtual Dinner Party here.  It felt great to get back in the kitchen and do some cooking again!  Thanks California Walnuts for this fantastic opportunity!

As a part of the Virtual Dinner Party, and on behalf of California Walnuts, I was also sent TWO copies of Aida Mollenkamp’s recipe book: Keys to the Kitchen.  What does that mean?  That I have ONE copy to giveaway to one of you!

Although I was disappointed the recipe I made wasn’t in the cookbook, I still loved Keys to the Kitchen at first glance.


Its got a great set of recipes, a number of which I’m really excited to make, but one of its greatest aspects I think is the informational and instructional information the first two chapters have.  And it has photos, which is always a bonus in my book.


It gives you great instructions on mastering grocery stores, knife skills, and etc, before diving into the delicious looking recipes.  I mean, if the Kale, Apple, Pancetta and Walnut salad I made says anything about what’s in her cookbook, it should be pretty fabulous.

The Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Aida Mollenkamp’s Keys to the Kitchen.  The giveaway will be open through Friday, March 8 at noon PST, and I will announce the winner later that afternoon, and get the cookbook sent out asap.

How to enter?

You must do one of the following to enter:

(1) Take a look at Aida Mollenkamps’s recipes used for the Virtual Dinner Party and leave a comment on which recipe (from the Winter or Spring menus) you’d like to try.


(2) Leave a comment telling me about your favorite way to eat walnuts (in a recipe, raw, candied…etc).

For an extra entry:

(3) Tweet about the giveaway, and leave a comment back here saying that you did so.  example tweet: “I just entered to win an @aidamollenkamp cookbook from @phdstrides virtual dinner party giveaway″

*California Walnuts provided me with the walnuts for this recipe and the cookbook for the giveaway.  However, all opinions are my own.

Surfer’s Path Race: A Winner

I had meant to do a post recapping my two half marathons the past two weekends, but then the internets decided to eat them…so, I figured.  Let’s just get on with the real business — and what you want to know anyway!  Which lucky runner will be **for sure** joining me at Surfer’s Path on May 20th?


Using, I randomly generated a number between 1-28 (the number of totaly entries between twitter, facebook, and comments).  The lucky number is:

Lucky number 8!  And who was number 8?  Carrie!

Congratulations, girl!  So glad its going to work perfectly for you, and help you train for that full!  Please email me at phdstries (at) gmail (dot) com with your full name, email and I’ll pass it on to the race director so you can get your free half marathon entry!!!  Can’t wait to see you out there!

If you didn’t win, there’s still time to enter!  Hurry over before time runs out!  Or, if you’re in town and you still want to participate, email me at phdstrides (at) gmail (dot) com if you’d like to be a part of the race as a volunteer!  The race committee is looking for course monitors, aid station volunteers and such.  Let me know if you’d like to get involved and help make this inaugural race even better!

Surfer’s Path Race **A Giveaway**

If there’s one thing I rave about to everyone I know about where I live, it’s the running paths along the ocean and the perfect weather climate.


It’s the reason why I jump at the opportunity to run every single race I can afford in town (that and the fact I can sleep in my bed and wake up only 30 minutes pre-race time and still make it to the start line).


Case in point?  In the past year I’ve run 4 races in Santa Cruz, and I have at least four more on the docket before the end of 2012.

As you can imagine, when I heard about a new race coming to town, what did I do?!  Oh, that’s right I signed up for it, immediately.  26.2 with these views?


(Who wouldn’t want to run by this?!)

That being said, I’d love to see at least one of you out there on race day who will join me (on at least half this adventure), which is why I’m offering (courtesy of the Surfer’s Path Race) a FREE ENTRY to this inaugural event!

So, if you’re ready to run 13.1 miles on the beautiful coast of Capitola that runs right by steamer’s lane (home to many world class surfers) or run 26.2 miles that includes running by a surfing sweet spot at Cowell’s Cove and up through Wilder Ranch onto the coastal bluffs, then pay attention below.


If you want win an entry to the inaugural race of the Surfer’s Path Marathon and Capitola Half Marathon on Sunday, May 20, 2012, here’s the deets on how to enter:

There is one required way to enter, and up to two additional entries available.  The winner can choose which race they want to run: Surfer’s Path Marathon or the Capitola Half Marathon.  Here are the rules:

Required Entries:

(1) Follow @RunSurfersPath and Tweet something creative about the race and giveaway, including @RunSurfersPath and a link to this post in your tweet or just tweet “Just entered to with a free entry to @RunSufersPath from @PhDStrides at” and comment back here that you did.

For up to 2 Additional Entries:

(2) Like Surfer’s Path Marathon and Capitola Half Marathon on Facebook, and comment back here that you did.

(3) Leave a comment telling me which race you want to run – and why!

So, that’s up to three chances to win a free race entry!  Entry closes Thursday, April 12, 2012 at midnight PST and the winner will be announced (utilizing a random number generated by Friday the 13th!

***Giveaway includes one free race entry into the Surfer’s Path Marathon or Capitola Half Marathon on May 20th, 2012 only. Offer cannot be redeemed for cash or credit nor can it be rolled over to next year’s event. But don’t let that stop you from entering! ***