Sunday, August 28, 2011

Taper Time

It’s here, it’s here!  Tapering is both the best and worst time of training.  Half of me is PUMPED about getting a break from intense long runs and workouts.. conveniently, right in time for out first week of school!  The other half of me is wondering if I did all that I could.  Wondering if I gave it my all on every single run that led up to this time.

At the current moment, I’m feeling grateful for the running reprieve this week.  My number one focus is going to be all about sending my first baby boy on a big yellow school bus for the very first time. Tomorrow morning we enter the next chapter of our parenting lives.  The backpack is packed, the camera battery charged, the clothes laid out, forms filled, supplies bought, and (a little regretfully) PTA dues are paid.

Just with marathon tapering, I’m having mixed emotions about this transition onto the next chapter.  Half of me is bursting with excitement for him. The other half has doubts.  Did I do all I could to prepare him for this next phase?  Am I going to be the mom he needs me to be in the coming years when we face bullies, and girlfriends, and being picked last at recess?  Did I savor each and every minute I was blessed to be at home with him?

Time is up on both accounts.  Now its time to sit back, trust in the “training,” and watch the fruits of my labor come to be.

So yes, I’m thankful for the running break this week so I can focus all my energy on my baby.  Here’s to keeping it simple this week.

Simple Grilled Chicken Pesto Packets

Chicken breasts (one per person)
1 tablespoon of pesto per chicken breast
olive oil
any veggies… I chose spinach, onion, and roasted red and yellow pepper from a jar
Aluminum foil
salt and pepper

pour about a tablespoon of olive oil onto a sheet of foil

Add the chicken breast

Take one tablespoon of the pesto

Spread it all over

Top with spinach

The roasted peppers

And the onion

Then wrap it up in the foil loosely so there’s room to steam in there

Grill for about 15 minutes.  

Simple and perfect.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bring it On, Fall.

A few months ago, signing up for a marathon on September 11th seemed like a genius idea.  Two things appealed to me most.  First off, the Allentown marathon is exactly one day before registration opens for Boston.  One. Day.  This is completely reflective of my procrastinating nature.  I like a deadline to really get me working hard (read: stressing out). 

Second, I liked the idea of being done with marathon training in the very early fall.  In years past, I have a memory of being OVER trying to squeeze in long runs into an already jam-packed fall calendar. 

Well, all of that made sense on paper, but the reality of the situation is that the September 11 deadline is quickly barreling toward me and doubt is creeping in.  Am I a crazy person?  Can I qualify for Boston?  Did I train hard enough?  Is it going to be way too hot out?  

I have one 20 miler left on the schedule and then it’s taper time.  I’ve pretty much done as much as I can up until this point, so all I can do now is pray for confidence, and for cooler fall temps in the next two weeks!  

Although it may have been 90 degrees last week, I was willing in fall with this quick and easy stew.  Loved that there was something that everyone in my family would eat out of this meal!  You could EASILY adapt this to crock pot, just throw it all in and let it simmer all day long.

Pintos and Kielbasa

1 package of kielbasa (I used the whole package, but use as much as you want!  I’d double in the crockpot)
1 can of Pinto Beans
1 can of Northern Beans
1 can of Rotel (tomatoes and green chiles)
1 can of tomato sauce
1 can of stewed tomatoes, chopped up
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
couple cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of chili powder
Optional (and recommended) 2 tablespoons of curry powder

Add some olive oil to a skillet and saute the veggies (green pep, onion, garlic)

While that is sauteeing, slice the kielbasa.  My kids LOVE kielbasa (cause its basically a glorified hot dog) so I knew this meal would be a winner.

Stir in all the cans of tomatoey things

Wash and drain the beans

Add them in, bring to a slow boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes or so to let flavors meld.

Season with salt, pepper, and chili powder.

I served it with some bread.  Pretty easy!

After I served the kids their portions I added curry powder because I can’t leave well enough alone, and it was SUCH a crucial addition.  It’s fine without it, if you’re not down with those flavors, but if you want more of a kick try that out!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Holy Guacamole

My first-born baby starts kindergarten in exactly two weeks

Less than one month to go until my Allentown, PA marathon

HOLY GUACAMOLE where has the summer gone?  

I’ve been making guacamole since I was a kid.  Salads and guacamole were always delegated as my job for dinner.  Much preferred over the kid chosen to set the table or do the dishes.  I have very poignant memories of my dad teaching me how to make the perfect guacamole in the summer.  It’s a simple recipe but tried and true.  Only a few weeks left until we bid ado to this summer staple...

2 ripe avocados
half of a small white onion, chopped finely
4 roma tomatoes (I like mine more tomatoey)
1 jalapeno, seeds removed (or not, if you like more heat)
lime juice (crucial)
handful of cilantro
garlic powder and salt

First thing I do is add the lime juice to the bowl.  Half a lime is just the right amount.

Then I cut around the pit of the avocado

Loosen the pit by kind of whacking your knife into it.  Once its firmly in there, twist gently to remove

Like so… then I basically just bang that on the counter top til so it falls off.  I’m sure there’s a better way but I’m a creature of habit.

Scoop put the flesh with a spoon

Dice and add to lime juice

Mash well with a fork or a mix and chop

Add the tomatoes, diced finely

Remove the seeds from the jalapeno and dice finely

Add to guac

Chop the onion finely

Add to guac with chopped cilantro.  Season generously with garlic powder and salt.  I actually prefer garlic powder over fresh garlic for this.  I’m a salt addict so I usually add quite a bit of salt as well. :)

Love these chips from Trader Joes

The most heavenly summer bite

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My Heart is Stuffed

Yesterday I celebrated my 26th birthday.  The past few days have left me feeling so loved, so blessed and so FULL.  It’s an interesting conundrum to be 26, married for 6 years, and a mom of three kids 5 and under.  Some days when I get in a funk, I feel like I don’t fit anywhere.  I feel too young to be “old” and to old to be “young,” so to speak. 

More often than not though, I am blissfully aware of how the unique path that God set out for me resulted in so much more than I could have crafted if I was to design my own life.  I get to dabble in a little bit of everything.  I get to have meaningful relationships with women who are 25 and with women who are 45.  Time has taught me age is much less about your chronological number and much more about the life stage you are at.  Case and point:  The lifeguard who saw me schlepping my three kids, cooler, towels and sunblock into the pool guessed I was turning 32.  The waiter who served my husband and I and some friends a few hours later while we were kid-free, care-free, and dressed like actual 20 year olds guessed I was 23.  Or maybe he wanted a bigger tip.  Anyway, I’ll take the average!

I digress - what made the past few days so incredibly special is how many of my dearest friends took the time out of their VERY busy lives to spend time with me.  As we get older, the gift of time becomes more and more valuable.  Its the only thing that as adults, we seem to have less of.  I’m so grateful for all of you and our special relationships, my heart is truly STUFFED!

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers with Cous Cous

*My beautiful Aunt made these at the beach for 35 people!  Her’s were much better but I tried to replicate as well as I could guess!  I loved how easy they were, thanks Aunt Patty!!**

1 pound of lean ground turkey or beef
4 peppers (I’m loving getting these at the farmers market, they are a STEAL compared to the grocery store.  79 cents a pepper!!)
1 jar of Corn and Black Bean Salsa (here’s where I screwed up, I needed twice this amount pictured)
1 cup of cous cous
shredded cheese for the top

First off slice the tops off the peppers.  Don’t throw those away!  I chopped the top part, sans stem, and saved for dinner for tonight.

Stab holes on the bottom to release steam.  You can boil them here first if you don’t want your peppers to be crunchy but I like mine with a little fresh crunch.  And let’s be real, it’s easier.

Bring a cup of water to a boil in a saucepan.  When its boiling, add cous cous

Remove from heat and let it fluff up

While the water was heating up I browned the ground turkey in a skillet

When it was about cooked through I added the jar of Corn and Black bean salsa.  Since this wasn’t enough liquid and ground turkey is very dry I SHOULD have added a can of Rotel or diced tomatoes or more salsa.  I would suggest that you have about 4 cups of salsa.  I know my Aunt swears by Walmart’s Black Bean Salsa, and says it is the best for this recipe!

I added more corn because I could get the kids to eat it

Add in the cooked cous cous

Toss it around!  How pretty

Stuff those peppers to the brim

Arrange in a baking dish, if I had more salsa I’d probably pour more on top of each one!

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.  At the 20 minute mark, take it out and add cheese to the top.

I added a little hot sauce to the finished product because as I’ve mentioned before, I just can’t leave well enough alone.  These were even better the next day!