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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Carbo-Loading

And so it begins! I conquered my last set of intervals yesterday and am now in full rest mode. I had a nice swim this morning and this evening took it easy, doing some stretching and icing. I also had lasagna! The BF and I met at home over lunch and whipped up a couple pans of his homemade lasagna. He has a great recipe that he loves from him mom. We were conveniently making a to-go meal for his co-worker who’s wife recently had a baby and then also a pan for my own enjoyment.

If you know his mother at all, this recipe is fairly healthy. Lean meat, cottage cheese, spinach, mozzarella cheese and I whipped up some homemade sauce to replace store-bought sauce. It came together pretty quickly, we stored the pans in the fridge, and we were back from lunch just a few minutes late.

On the way home I made a special stop at the Market Street Market in downtown Charlottesville. They have the best baguettes in town! They are baked fresh daily and the BF swears they ship the dough down special from NYC. I thought it would be a nice treat for the two of us.

After I got home, I added the last layer of the lasagna and topped it with some cheese – a nice layer of mozzarella and fresh grated parmesan. I popped it in the oven for about 45 minutes, until it was bubbling and the cheese was just browned. I sealed up the second pan, without baking it, and the BF will deliver it to his co-worker tomorrow.

The finished product was awesome and we made some nice garlic bread and salad on the side, our normal staples. We have tons of leftovers, so this may also now be my pre-race meal.

I love racing when it allows me to indulge like this!

I love racing when it allows me to indulge like this!

I’m off to Richmond tomorrow after work to pick-up my race packet and check out the course. A cold front is moving in so my clothing strategy will begin tomorrow as well. Saturday will be here before I know it. Finish out the week strong, y’all!


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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 Shoes!

I rarely have to be persuaded to purchase new shoes, I’m a bit of a fanatic. And I can almost always count on my dear friend Sio, from HappyLifeHappyWife, to help justify my purchase and sometimes even encourage me! That is exactly what she did a couple weeks ago. Toms happen to be a shoe brand we are both are somewhat partial towards, especially when they are on sale. We both keep an our eye on Zulily, as they are known to have flash sales with great prices and a great selection. I have several pairs of the wedges and absolutely live in them during the summer and have a pair flats in good rotation during the fall and spring!

I was on my way to Virginia when I got an email from Sio letting me know Toms were on sale the next day on Zulily. I was in between jobs but I knew I couldn’t resist, especially when I saw the college colors versions were part of the selection!

Perfect for the new job!

Perfect for the new job!

The addition of these UVa colors is just what I “needed” for the new job and the $30 savings wasn’t too shabby either. I decided it was a “Congrats on the new job” present to myself. The trick with Zulily is the ordering process, they order after customers order, so you have to wait for the first shipment and then for your own shipping, which often takes a few weeks. These orange and blue lovelies came in a few days ago so I broke them out last weekend for the football game and am already getting rave reviews. A great shoe for a great deal, I’m pretty pleased with my purchase. Happy shopping!

ta-da!

ta-da!

P.S. According to a deal with the BF, I think I have to find a pair of shoes to ditch in order to bring this pair into the house, but TBD on the outcome of that proposal…


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Catching Up!

I have been on the move! I left my job and moved from Madison, WI back to Charlottesville, VA and took on a new career and new opportunity. It has been quite the whirlwind month but I am finally getting settled into the new job, my old apartment and settling into a workout and cooking routine.

I signed up for a new half-marathon in November, The Anthem Richmond Marathon. I signed up for just the half and broke out a 10-week training program to get ready for it. I’ve been familiarizing myself with some of my old routes around Charlottesville and adapting to running hills again! During my last couple weeks in Madison and my first nearly two weeks in Charlottesville, my workout routine dropped off significantly. With packing and logistics and being between gym memberships took me out of the pool for nearly a month, it has been nice to get back into a routine with work and workouts the last couple weeks.

It has also been amazing to be back in my own kitchen! I have been experimenting with recipes and have enjoyed cooking for two again.

Sweet Potato Corn Cakes

Sweet Potato Corn Cakes

Homemade Pesto Pasta with Greens

Homemade Pesto Pasta with Greens

Southwest Salad with Creamy Cilantro

Southwest Salad with Creamy Cilantro

Ok, so I didn't bake this but I did have a birthday and this ice cream cake was delicious!

Ok, so I didn’t bake this but I did have a birthday and this ice cream cake was delicious!

All recipes will come soon as I get back into the groove of living, working and posting in my new environment. Thanks for being patient! I’m looking for new recipes, would love to hear from you!