bake.sweat.create.

Adventures in the kitchen, in fitness and with glitter!


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Race Recap!

Well I suppose it’s time to check in after my big race in Richmond. It has been nearly two weeks and I my blogging seems to have gone into hibernation like my running has post-race.

I finished! I loved finishing the last .4 miles on a downhill. I loved being done. All in all it was not my best race, but I am proud to have committed to a race so soon after I moved half-way across the country and put myself through a rigorous training plan. I am going to take a few months off from training for a specific race and try to get back to enjoying my morning run, concentrating on scenery and not training plans. My first run post-race I took a spill (bloody palms and elbow) which only cemented this decision for me. I did get a boss medal for finishing!

Sweet fall motif.

Sweet fall motif.

I will race again and so have been replaying it in my head, the training, the race itself and my preparation and have come to a few realizations. First, my mid-week, mid-distance runs need to be faster. During my training for the 2013 IMG NYC Marathon I was training with someone who challenged me on each and every run. We ran at or around an 8-minute mile pace. At first I could only go 4 miles, but as the weeks went by I extended that distance to nearly 8 miles in the meat of my training. These days I am not reaching that pace. Granted Charlottesville’s elevation and elevation-change by run is much different, but I need to challenge myself more on my weekly runs. The weekly interval training was awesome for my base though – highly recommended. Two, I need to take care of my body. I had been feeling rundown in the last several weeks. I passed it off for hard training. Instead, I had blood drawn last week I found out I had dangerously low iron levels and a vitamin-D deficiency. I’m on supplements now and trying to regain some strength and energy. And third, I once did these races for fun and I think my competitive college days are creeping in and instead of enjoyment it has migrated towards obligation. Time to get back to having fun on the pavement.

Since the race I have taken a few casual runs while on Thanksgiving vacation – around the BF’s parents house in No. Va. and across the Brooklyn Bridge while in NYC after Thanksgiving. That’s what I’m talking about, good, scenic running! I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday. Thanks for your support leading into this race!

Now I’ve been cooking and started up with the crafts as the holidays are approaching! Can’t wait to share some of my other activities with y’all soon!

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Fall Flavors

Fall has really taken over Albemarle County. We enjoyed a lovely Sunday drive through the country and took in the colors (along with two wineries!).

What a view!

What a view!

We also picked up some more squash! We got another spaghetti and a butternut squash. On Tuesday, we made this spicy butternut squash, along with some barbecue chicken on the grill. Tonight I was feeling a little more adventurous and wanted to use the remaining squash so I dug out my old recipe book and found a Spicy Chicken and Butternut Squash recipe. It was fairly easy and with the squash at home, I had most everything else and didn’t have to make a special trip to the grocery store. Turmeric was missing from my spice cabinet, but I substituted with some curry powder.

The chicken cooking up in the spice mix and stock.

The chicken cooking up in the spice mix and stock.

The recipe recommend it to be served with some Citrus Couscous, which was a great addition and these roasted almonds smelled awesome.

A handful of almonds roasted before adding the couscous and stock.

A handful of almonds roasted before adding the couscous and stock.

The whole meal took little more than 40 minutes to throw together and was delicious! It was a curry-like sauce that we poured over the citrus couscous and the chicken was nice and moist. Our effort to eat a more balanced diet and a little cleaner is working with yummy recipes like this! (Full recipe below).

Simmering and waiting to be served.

Simmering and waiting to be served.

Full Recipe*:

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), seeded, peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 4 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs, chopped
  • 1 large onion, quartered and sliced
  • 12 dried pitted dates, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup (a large handful) cilantro or flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped

Yields: 4 servings

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Arrange the squash on a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat and roast in the hot oven until tender, about 30 minutes.

While the squash is working, place a large, high-sided skillet over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add the chicken to the pan, season with salt and pepper and cook until golden brown and almost cooked through, 6-7 minutes.

Add the onion, dates, spices, bay leaf and cinnamon stick to the pan, and continue cooking until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the pan and cook for about 1 minute. Add the stock to the pan and bring up to a bubble. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until thickened and dates are plump, 5-6 minutes.

Remove and discard the bay leaf and cinnamon stick from the stew. Stir in the roasted butternut squash. Garnish with the cilantro or parsley.

*I did cut this recipe in half to serve two people and we still had leftovers.


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Embracing A Fall Weekend!

Last weekend was a bye week for the Virginia Cavaliers football team. As they happen the BF’s employer, it was good news for him because it meant he had the weekend off! After I got in a good 10-mile run with an old friend on Saturday morning, we enjoyed the pleasure of watching college football on a Saturday afternoon and he didn’t have to worry about his work, or agonize over the play of the Hoos.

On Sunday we planned to take advantage of our relaxing weekend and go for a hike in the Shenandoah National Park. The park boasts beautiful fall colors this time of year and plenty of hiking trails to explore all year round. We decided on the Jones River/ Doyles Falls trail, it was a 6.5 mile loop, which was a max for me after 10 miles the day before, and a good mix of up and down hill. Unfortunately the weather didn’t exactly cooperate. We drove up to the park in a cloud of fog and saw threatening dark clouds through occasional breaks in the fog. We bundled up in our fleeces as we set out on the trail, determined to do our hike. We were lucky to have a nice canopy of trees for most of the hike, so we didn’t end up too soaked as the rain came down for over half the hike. But we still had fun and the colors did not disappoint!

SNPHike_Trail

Our trail through the woods and welcome canopy from the rain!

One of the three waterfalls we saw on the trail.

One of the three waterfalls
we saw on the trail.

After the hike, we needed to warm up! I was chilled to the bone by the end so we fired up the crockpot when we got home and made some Turkey Chili. The combination of three different types of beans appealed to me and we used three fresh jalapeños we had from the farmers’ market last week.  I did add the corn but used a combination of crushed tomatoes and unseasoned diced tomatoes in place of the tomato sauce to add a different texture to the chili. I cooked up the turkey, onion and spices in a skillet and added that mixture to the beans, corn, etc…, in the crockpot then about four hours later, we were ready to eat. It was the perfect meal for a rain, chilly fall evening and filled the house with a nice, spicy scent.

Hearty, delicious and healthy!

Hearty, delicious and healthy!

I also whipped a little cornbread as a side, which was awesome. I had been in search of a quick, yet delicious recipe and came across this cornbread recipe on Pinterest last week. Definitely another repeat recipe for my recipe box.

Just a bit sweet, not too dense and so delicious!

Just a bit sweet, not too dense and so delicious!

We wrapped up the evening catching a little Sunday night football on TV before heading to bed early to get a good night’s rest for the week. We needed it, we’re off to Canada at the end of the week!

 


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New Running Shoes!

A great day for a runner is the run they take to break in new shoes, or rather the run after they break in new shoes. Today was my first day in a pair of new kicks! I was a loyalist to the Nike Pegasus line for several iterations (25-27) then moved to Asics Gel Cumulus for my first marathon and my latest half-marathon. Earlier this month while in Portland, I was lucky enough to visit the Nike Employee Store. Besides being in heaven, I was looking to pick-up some practical goods. A new pair of running shoes was high on my priority list, as my last pair needed to be cycled out over two months ago! I went back to my old standbys and picked up a pair of Pegasus’ – they are up to 31! And they are bright pink!

Side view!

Side view of the new kicks!

 I have been in a rut lately on my runs so I was hoping a fresh pair of shoes would invigorate me some. I tested them out with a 5.5 mile trek near Lake Mendota this morning. I started off slow and then decided to try and descend my miles. It worked for the first four, and my fourth mile was pretty fast, so I wasn’t able to descend from there but my last 1.5 miles were still at a good pace. I think it was decent fresh start for my shoes and a good omen for my running. My toes didn’t get numb, the shoes had good cushion for my feet and legs and the laces stayed tied! All in all, I am looking forward to run number two in the Pegasus!

Got socks to match too!

Got matching socks too!


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Saturday in the Kitchen!

Today was a Saturday, I was in Madison, and I had no obligations. Woo-hoo! This was my first in Madison since July 4th weekend and I made the most of it! Madison has been saddled with muggy and humid weather for the past couple days but I still seized the day and woke up early for a run around Madison with my favorite running partner. Once we were finished with our quick six, it looked like we’d showered outside! Whew. I dried off and hit the farmers’ market. Madison’s Farmers’ Market is expansive and lush with farm fresh fruits and veggies, breads and cheese, crafts, the list goes on and on! I found lots of goodies there today – corn, cantaloupe, peppers, zucchini, grape tomatoes, carrots, basil, cheese, fresh cinnamon rolls, my mouth is drooling just thinking about everything! 

My haul!

My haul!

Pro tip – I cleaned, sliced and diced all necessary fruits and veggies once I got back from the market to make it easier to eat throughout the week. 

After a nap, I returned to the kitchen to prep dinner. My landlords and friends recently experienced a pretty serious health scare, so another friend and I offered to cook them dinner this evening. Cooking for the house meant finding a low-sodium recipe. We turned to this Fettuccine Alfredo we found on an RD’s blog. It actually turned out awesome! It was obviously not as rich as the indulgence Fettuccine Alfredo usually is, but the base sauce plus a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper was delicious with the whole wheat linguine. We added a spinach salad to the side that rounded out the meal nicely. 

Prior to the meal I whipped up a tasty bruschetta appetizer with the fresh tomatoes and basil from the farmers’ market along with some fresh mozzarella and Tuscan Pane bread from Trader Joe’s. It was soooo good! Had I not been prepping a meal for a group, I may have just eaten the bruschetta for my entire meal! 

Summertime staple!

Summertime staple!

All in all it was an adventurous and exciting day, full of some much needed time in the kitchen. Everything turned out delicious, I may add in an extra run tomorrow just to overindulge in the leftovers! Happy weekend, everyone! 


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#IceBucketChallenge

So we’ve all seen it, EVERYWHERE, and I was nominated yesterday by my dear friend at the HappyWifeHappyLife blog to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I obliged, luckily it was an especially sticky day in Madison.  

Here I go! Brrrrrr!

Here I go! Brrrrrr!

I decided to make a donation to the ALS Association, as well as the Alzheimer’s Foundation. My grandmother had ALS and passed away before I was born and Alzheimer’s is also a cause that is also close to my heart, in honor of my late Poppa Tom.

I appreciate the viral-ness of the the Ice Bucket Challenge and applaud how people have responded and donated.As a marketer, I am in awe of those behind this challenge and the good they have done for Lou Gehrig’s Disease. But I also think people should think freely about where and how they donate their money.  

The bright side is that I got to nominate three other people to similarly dump themselves with ice water. I selected my mom, sister and the BF. They have 24 hours, we’ll see how they do. 

Anybody else participate in the challenge? Come across any hilarious videos of others you know? Good luck if you are nominated! 

 


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Family Outing!

About three years ago my family got together and decided we were going to make an effort to take a few days every summer and rendezvous at a location chosen by one of the five core members of our family. My mother chose the first year and we went to Montana, Flathead Lake to be exact. This summer, it was my dad’s turn, he chose Montana, Glacier National Park in particular. Creative, I know, but there’s nothing like Montana. We spent many a childhood summer nights at Glacier, mostly in Apgar or Fish Creek campgrounds, climbing through trails and trekking up the Going to the Sun highway. This time around we forged a new path and went to the east side of the park to East Glacier. My dad found a great lodge that we stayed in, close to the entrance of the park and easy access to the trails.

Our first hike was an ambitious path up Ptarmigan Tunnel. We went up over 5 miles and through the tunnel, then over to the other side checking out Elizabeth Lake and sky-scraping mountains. It was almost 12 miles round trip! The most exciting part came in the first 1/2 mile. Bear spray in tow, we started out on the trail and ran into a group abruptly stopped, they were spying on a small black bear rummaging through the bushes for food. It was no more than 20-30 feet off the trail and didn’t notice us. We kept our eye out for a mother bear the entire time but luckily didn’t encounter any other bears. After a few pictures we kept on trucking up the mountain, towards the tunnel.

View from the frontside of Ptarmagin Tunnel.

View from the frontside of Ptarmigan Tunnel.

The huckleberry ice cream sure tasted good at the bottom! Huckleberries are an amazing summertime treat in Montana, we even managed to find a patch on our drive home, between four of us we picked over 7 cups in less than 30 minutes, jackpot! We also ran into a traffic jam on our way out of the park, people were gathered on both sides of the road with binoculars and cameras out taking pictures of a giant grizzly bear on the mountain side. It was far away enough not to be threatening, but close enough to see how giant the bear would have been up close. Two bears in two days, Glacier treated us well!

Success at the bottom of the trail!

Success at the bottom of the trail!

Next summer, it’s my brother’s turn to choose… we’re going to Montana.