Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halfway Through

I showed up to Army 10 on Sunday morning with a vague idea of what my goal time was. My plan was just to stick with Meredith for as long as I could and see what happened from there. When I met her at the race, I asked her what pace we should start at. She replied that she was hoping for 7:30. I choked on my water at that point. I'm sorry what? 7:30? In my head I'm thinking, "I really don't think I can do that." I mean that's faster than my fastest time. She led the way to our corral, and all I remember is passing crowds and crowds of people... getting closer and closer to the big balloons that marked the race start. Seriously there are 30,000 people at this race, what business did I have being this close to the front!!

But when the race began and we clocked our first mile at exactly 7:30, I was feeling good. The next few miles were all under 7:30, and I was still feeling good. Then at mile 4, as I ran through the water stop, a gentleman decided to stop dead in his tracks to sip his water right in front of me. I dodged out of the way, only to slip and completely EAT IT in front of a nice long line of Marines, and hundreds of spectating fans. I glanced down and saw a long trail of blood making its way down my leg. As I hopped up and continued on, I swallowed my humiliation and started to think about how I felt pretty bad-ass running with a bloody knee.

And just then, at about halfway through... I passed a man with no legs. NO LEGS! Running 10 miles. My pride and self-reliance hit me like a freight truck. Just when I was feeling proud of my pace, proud of my determination, proud of my own strength, God quite literally brought me to my knees. I spent the remaining 5 miles counting my blessings. Thank God for those men and women who put their lives in danger every single day so that I can run freely through the streets of Washington, DC today. So that I can read my Bible and talk about it right now, on this blog, to hundreds (or dozens?) of people, and I won't be killed for it.

I finished the race in 1:15. 7:33 splits. It amazed me how when I put my faith and gratitude in the right place, and gave the glory to whom it rightfully belongs, I could do the things I thought were impossible.

Onto dinner, I decided about halfway through making this pizza I would post it, so it's missing a few pictures, but this is worth making. Thanks, Laurie Digges (and Sarah Taylor) for the recipe!!

Caramelized Onion Pizza with Rosemary

Fresh ball of Pizza dough


Olive Oil

Couple sprigs of fresh Rosemary

6 onions (really, 6, because I scoffed at that number and did 3, and I regretted it)

Fresh Mozzarella

Italian Sausage (Had to add this since I cut it short on the onions, but I prefer this pizza straight vegetarian)

First slather some olive oil, garlic, a little salt and some chopped rosemary on your pizza dough. Stick it in a 400 Degree oven for about 15 minutes.

Get the onions started. Can you believe it, I'd never caramelized onions before. So here is what I have to say about that - A WATCHED ONION NEVER CARAMELIZES!! Slice all 6 onions, toss in olive oil in the saute pan, then let them go over medium heat. Let them sit for a while before you toss them. If you toss them too often, they will never caramelize. It will literally take you 30 minutes at least, you've been warned.

Another note, go ahead and get out your stainless cookware for this. Stainless is better for times that you want that browned stuff that sticks to the pan (AKA the "fond," why I know this stuff, I don't know). You want to scrape up those yummy little browned morsels and mix them in with the onions

In the meantime slice your mozz. Handy little trick: use your egg slicer.

See? perfectly, evenly sized slices

How are those onions? Not near done.

Getting closer, and I'm getting impatient! At the end, add in a couple cloves of chopped or pressed garlic and some salt.

I cheated and added a little balsamic to move the caramelizing process along. I was hungry.

Just top the pizza with the beautiful brown caramelized onions, I threw in some already cooked and sliced sweet Italian sausage. Shredded Chicken would be tasty too, but you definitely don't need any meat at all!
Put the mozz slices on top, and throw some more rosemary on there!

Bake about 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Yum.

Cut-N-Seal giveaway ends tomorrow, so go ahead and enter if you haven't already!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Menu Planning Monday

Well Army 10 Miler has come and gone, and the race went awesome. The weather was perfect, I got to run it with my husband and friends, and I surprised myself with my finish time! More on that later in the week, but for now I'm trying to wrap my head around planning for the week.

(Buying basil for this and using tomorrow night too)



Dinner Date at Rangoli

Neighborhood Halloween Party,
bringing some Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins and a dip...
haven't decided yet, so inspire me!

Probably nothing but Candy

What's on the menu this week for you? Anything special for Halloween??

Monday, October 18, 2010

Out of My Comfort Zone

It's really easy to get in a rut. Day after day I run the same boring 4 or 5 mile loop. I use the same key ingredients in different meals over and over. I pick up the same things from the grocery store week after week. It's natural to gravitate toward what's comfortable, and by extension, what is easy.

But it's the hard things, the uncomfortable and new things, that can be the most rewarding if you're willing to try. This weekend I'm running Army 10 Miler. I'm nervous. It's out of my comfort zone right now. It's uncomfortable to try and run fast for that long. There's a big difference between running my fastest for 3 miles and running my fastest for 10 miles. But at the end, it will feel that much more rewarding to know I pushed myself out of my comfort zone.

This Mandarin Salad I made last week was definitely out of my comfort zone. I'm just one of those people that prefers savory over sweet, and the idea of putting fruit in my salad makes me want to gag a little. But this Pampered Chef recipe was requested by someone else for a show, so I had to try it out before I presented it.

I'm SO glad I went out of my box and gave this a try. It was seriously yummy, easy, healthy, and I loved the flavors that would ordinarily NOT be my preference! It was a great combo of sweet and salty and definitely more filling than the average salad! It works well as a main course, but would be perfect to bring as a side dish to parties, with or without the shredded chicken!

Mandarin Pasta Salad

1 bag of baby spinach
1 package of farfalle (cooked and drained)
1 can (11 oz) of Mandarin Oranges
1 to 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1/2 a cucumber
half a red onion
2 carrots
Sliced almonds

Dressing: About 1/3 cup rice vinegar or red wine vinegar, 2ish tbl soy sauce, juice from 1/2 orange (I used 2 clementines, its what I had), about a 1 inch piece of freshly grated ginger (no one will know if you use ground), 1 clove pressed or chopped garlic, 1/4 cup sesame oil, and 1/4 cup olive oil ... because I don't like vegetable oil.

This thing is kinda awesome, the measure, mix n'pour has the ingredients for different kinds of dressings right on the cup. You fill it up to the line, shake it, then seal and refrigerate for a later use! So I mixed all the dressing ingredients in here first.
Add cooked bowtie pasta with the bag of spinach and the chopped/shredded chicken breasts

Julienne some carrot sticks. I have a nifty julienne peeler but you can also use any vegetable peeler for a fast result. You just get thinner slices instead of the "matchstick" pieces you get from julienne-ing. (is that a word?)

Add the carrot on top of thinly sliced red onion, and chopped cucumber

Mix in the mandarin oranges (drained), dressing, and top with the sliced almonds! Simple, light, and delicious. *** vegetarian tip... instead of chicken you could totally toss some cooked and cooled quinoa in here. Bet that would be tasty.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cut-N-Seal Giveaway!

My kids didn't eat sandwiches. It was really annoying. When we'd go to the pool this summer, I'd have to roll 20 ham rolls each with tiny little tooth picks in them, because they wouldn't touch the "witches," like every other kid on earth.

Since they were both in school this year, I knew there was no way I was going to be doing anything but sandwiches for lunch. Sure Superman, if you don't want to eat my Broccoli mini- muffins for dinner, I'll cut you some slack. But you gotta eat Sandwiches.

My neighbor with 4 school-age children swears by Pampered Chef's Cut-N-Seal, so I ordered it this fall. It basically makes your sandwiches like an Uncrustable. It does exactly what the name says, it cuts the sandwich into a circle, then you press and seal the edges. All it took was a little makeover, and now the boys have sandwiches every day, hooray!! I especially love it for egg sandwiches... you can seal the edges so nothing falls out!!

Besides a sandwich, you can use the Cut-N-Seal to make little pizza calzones, with all kinds of trickery inside for kiddos (Superman, did you catch that broccoli in your pizza??), or mini Apple Pies, or French Toast pockets! So many possibilities!

I like to keep it simple, so to enter the contest for a Cut-N-Seal, all you have to do is become a follower (if you aren't already) and leave a comment that you'd like to enter the contest!! Batman will pick a winner this time :) Contest ends Thursday October 28th!



Place on sandwich and "cut" first, like a cookie cutter

Then press the knob and seal the edges!

Nothing's falling out of there!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Kind of Recovery Drinks

Saturday was the ideal day. I woke up to perfect, cool, sunny, blue-sky fall weather, and picked up Kate and Meredith for our 5K race. This was the first race back since having babies for Meredith and I, and we were equal parts excited and nervous about what the morning would hold.

When we talked about a race plan, Meredith said "You know we are going to be overly-excited and go out way too fast the first mile, right?" I brushed that notion aside, but sure enough as we passed the 1st mile marker that morning, the clock read 6:47. Oops. I thought there was no way I could sustain that for the rest of the race. I repeated over and over the verse that always repeats in my head on race days "Those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength, They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary." My strength truly was renewed for the 2nd and 3rd miles, and I couldn't believe it when Meredith, Kate and I all finished in the 21st minute!

After the race Meredith and I set out for a friend's birthday at Breaux Vineyard. Already on a high from a great race, the idyllic views and great companionship only elevated my spirits! That glass of wine was the best darn "recovery drink" I could have asked for yesterday.

Have you ever heard anyone say that chocolate milk is the perfect recovery drink? Well I heard that once, and I held onto it. Because chocolate milk is kind of like a chocolate milkshake, right? And I have an obsession with Chocolate Milkshakes. But they MUST be made the right way. Don't mess around with these ingredients. There are only two, so do it right, or don't do it at all.. Nights after track workouts or a race ...or okay, even nights after I haven't done a dang thing all day, I like to cozy up with one of these...

My Kind of Recovery Drink

Breyers Chocolate Ice Cream

**yes, it HAS to be Breyers. It doesn't have to be chocolate but it has to be Breyers. No, Breyers is not paying me for this. And it can't be low fat either. Come on, if you're going to eat ice cream, then eat ice cream! Breyers has natural ingredients so you can't taste anything artificial-like, real cocoa for the chocolate, and just the right amount of "icyness" for the milkshake. **
1% Organic Milk

The ratio of ice cream to milk is key. First scoop in the ice cream so that its close to the top. Don't pack it down at all! I know it looks like there's a ton of ice cream in here but theres not, I just didn't pack it down at all. Fill the rest with milk. You want more milk than ice cream, so it ends up being more like a really icy cold chocolate milk.

Now just mix it up with the spoon, careful to break up all the clumps. It will take some perfecting to stir it up without spilling, but I've mastered this art.

Prepare to be addicted. It might even make you go run just so you have a reason to make a recovery drink.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Goodbye Tomatoes

Goodbye rip, red, juicy tomato sandwiches. Goodbye fresh salsa. Goodbye corn, goodbye zucchini! I'm sad to see summer foods go, but there are foods to love every season. I got excited when I saw all the butternut and spaghetti squashes out at Trader Joes. It reminded me that Fall is really in full swing now. Then suddenly it hit me, that means the fall racing season has begun as well. You know, that Army 10 miler I signed up forever ago? Which used to seem so so far away? It's in two weeks!

Around this time last year, I found out I was pregnant 2/3 through fall Marathon training. I swore that I would be back out this fall to run another. When I grappled with the decision to sign up this past Spring, my girlfriend Dorothy gave me great, simple advice... WHY? You have the rest of your life to run marathons. She was so right, and I'm so glad I wasn't trying to prove anything to myself this summer by squeezing in long runs after sleepless nights, or trading in valuable and rare family time on Saturdays.

I gave myself the summer off. But when those big old spaghetti squashes stared me down in the grocery store, I realized break-time is coming to an end. Anyone who has ever had a baby knows that the real gestation lasts much longer than 9 months. It takes a while to feel like your old, pre-baby self again. I'm excited to get out there this fall for 5ks (my first is this weekend!), 10ks, and the 10 miler. It makes me feel like some of the old Hungry Mom is back.

Goodbye Summer/Hello Fall Chicken

2 chicken breasts (recipe calls for skin-on, but I think its quicker this way, and makes me feel a little better about all the butter)
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
White wine (about a cup)
half stick butter :)
1/2 lemon (not pictured)
fresh rosemary
Freshly grated parm
Cherry, grape or Roma tomatoes (halve them if you use Roma)
Red onion
1 Spaghetti Squash

If you're making this you have to think ahead a little bit on the timing. You're going to want to roast at 400 degrees both the tomatoes (for 30 min) and the spag squash (for 45 min) first.

Spaghetti Squash goes cut sides down on a cookie sheet (or stone) with 1 cup water, little olive oil, and some balsamic. Oven for 45 minutes to an hour.

Toss the tomatoes and sliced red onions with olive oil, salt, pep, balsamic (no such thing as too much), and fresh rosemary. This part MAKES the dish. I wish I made 5 times this amount. Put it in the 400 degree oven with the squash for 30 minutes. Might want to check it half way through and give it a little stir.

While the squash and tomatoes are roasting, melt a couple tablespoons of butter. Add the sliced chicken and a sprig of rosemary.

Add half a squeezed lemon. It was so hard to take this picture.

And about a cup of wine? I did about a turn of the pan. This picture was a little easier to take. I guess I'm pretty good at multitasking while pouring wine :) When chicken is cooked through, remove it and let the sauce reduce/thicken a bit.

Tomatoes are done! They are SO. GOOD.

TGB was helping me by looking cute and staying quiet.

When the squash is done, let it cool and then scrape out the insides. If you do it in the right direction, then it comes out looking kind of like spaghetti.

I even took some and added tomato sauce to it to give to the boys as "pasta," but it didn't fool Superman. I hope you have better luck.

So add another tablespoon or three of butter, salt, a little rosemary, and some freshly grated parm and mix it up. This part is delicious enough to make and serve as a side dish!!!!!!

Top with the chicken, tomatoes, and pour the reduced wine sauce on top!

Are you running any fall races this year? Which ones?? Go read Mile Posts if you don't already for great great marathon and general race day tips!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

More Party Food

This past weekend I hit up every type of party Suburbia has to offer ... two 30-something Birthday celebrations, Bunco, Football tailgate, Engagement Party, 3 year old's birthday, and a Baptism. All I needed was an invite to a Tupperware party to make my Weekend in Suburbia complete.

Anyway, I was *planning* to bring food to each event, until I had a liiiiiitle too much fun on the first night and ended up scratching every activitiy on Saturday. Oops. In any event, my logic was that instead of making a bunch of different appetizers, I would make one batter bowl-ful of Elina's Chicken Buffalo Bites and then before each party, fill 24 mini-muffin bite sized snacks to bring along. Great idea in theory... and it worked great for the 4/7 parites I made it to.

I love love this recipe because it's so darn tricky. It tastes like you're eating fat football food, but really its 100% greek yogurt (all protein, no fat) and chicken with some spices. Okay and some cheese. Elina doesn't add cheese to hers and she's right, you don't totally need it. But I need it!! I love cheese too much! Add as much or as little as you want and it won't affect the overall taste.

Elina's Buffalo Chicken Bites
(this makes a TON, so halve this for a more modest amount of the bites. BUT keep in mind, whatever's left, you can throw in a dish in the oven and serve as a dip with torn bread or celery sticks. Freezes well too.)

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1/2 cup Red Hot
14 oz 0% Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt
2 handfuls of Shredded Cheddar/Mexican Blend (Elina doesn't do this, but the thought of not makes me sad)
1 package Dry Ranch Seasoning (use a full package no matter how much you make)
Grands Jr. Flaky Layers Biscuits

Just add the yogurt, ranch, hot sauce and cheese in a bowl and mix well.

Put a thin layer of the biscuits into the bottom of each pan and press down.

Chicken 5 minutes in the microwave in my Deep Covered Baker then chopped in 2 seconds with Salad Choppers. I know you're jealous if you had to bake and then two-fork shred your chicken!!

Mix it all together.

Fill each cup, but not so that it goes over the edge. I sprinkled a teeeeensy bit more little cheese on top because it looked yummier.

Bake at 350 for 12 minutes or until golden brown and perfect!