Friday, November 29, 2013

Burritos with Chili-Spiced Brussels Sprouts and Refried Beans

One week, I was tired of my typical sandwiches, and wanted something new. I tried this recipe for chili-spiced brussels sprouts, and absolutely loved it. I only wish that I made more! It made enough for 5 lunches - 3 for me and 2 for Joey. We used the recipe as kind of an inspiration, and didn't follow it all that closely.

Burritos with Chili-Spiced Brussels Sprouts, Refried Beans and Queso Fresco
Adapted from Big Girls, Small Kitchen
Yield: 5 large or 10 small servings

1 1/2 lbs brussels sprouts
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
1 can refried beans
8-10 oz queso fresco
10 small/medium sized tortillas

Trim and halve the brussels sprouts, removing the outer layer if it doesn't look good. Slice them thinly, so it all looks shredded.

Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add brussels sprouts and salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until wilted and caramelized. Stir in paprika and chili flakes.

To assemble, cover a tortilla with a damp paper towel and put in the microwave, heat for 10-15 seconds, until warm and pliable. Spread with 2-3 tbsp of refried beans, 2-3 tbsp of brussels sprouts, and 1 oz of cheese. Wrap up carefully, and put on a foil-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the desired number of tortillas (I usually ate one medium and one small for lunch), and heat for ~10 minutes at 350 F. (I would use the ancient toaster oven in my office to heat them up each day).

I forgot to take pictures of the finished product! Check out the original recipe to see some better pictures there. 

Sun-Dried Tomato and Parmesan Sandwich Bread

I have made five loaves of this bread in the past few weeks. It is just so good! The flavor combination is amazing, and the bread is a beautiful color. I've found that the recipe can be doubled pretty easily, but you'll probably have to knead by hand once the dough comes together. It was a bit too much dough for my stand mixer.
If making two loaves, wrap the extra in foil and put in the freezer - the foil holds in the moisture.

Recipe: Sun-Dried Tomato and Parmesan Sandwich Bread
Adapted slightly from Completely Delicious
Yield: 15-16 slices per loaf

10 halves sun-dried tomatoes
Hot water
1/4 cup plain yogurt
3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp herbs de provence
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 package)

Cover sun-dried tomatoes with hot water and let soak for 2 hours. Drain, reserving soaking water.

Combine 1 cup of the tomato water with the yogurt in a small pot, heat until steaming. Stir to combine, and let cool until 120-130 F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add 2 cups of the flour, the salt, sugar, herbs de provence, parmesan cheese, and yeast. Add the yogurt mixture, and use the dough hook to mix well. Add the tomatoes. Add the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, while mixing on medium-low, until the dough clears the bowl. You want the dough to be tacky, but not sticky. Knead for a total of 5-7 minutes, until smooth and elastic.

Put the dough into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled. Gently punch down the dough and knead a few times.

Roll the dough into a rough 7x14 inch rectangle. Starting with a short end, roll up tightly, and pinch the ends closed. Put it, seam-side down, in a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Let rise 30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above the sides of the pan. Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer registers 190-200 F, about 25-30 minutes. Remove loaf from the pan and let cool on a wire cooling rack. Let cool completely before slicing (it slices really well once refrigerated).

Enjoying a delicious egg sandwich on our homemade bread!

Oven-Dried Cinnamon Apple Slices

I've been meaning to try making homemade apple chips forever. I finally gave it a try, and I was really pleased with the results. I wanted chips that were chewy, instead of crispy, so I cut my apples on the thicker side, getting about 10 slices per apple. I chose not to core the apples first, mostly because I don't have something that can remove the core easily without also cutting them into wedges. I used two pink lady apples and two fuji apples, and I think the pink lady apple slices turned out just a little better, but they were both really tasty. I sprinkled on a TON of cinnamon sugar, since I'm a little obsessed with cinnamon. They end up being sweet and tasty snacks, and look really pretty!

Recipe: Oven-Dried Cinnamon Apple Slices
From: Give Recipe

4 apples
3 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp sugar

Preheat oven to 200 F, or as low as your oven will go. (Note: if your oven doesn't go that low, you will have to keep an eye on the apples, since they may take less time to cook.)
Using a sharp knife, or a mandoline, (carefully) slice your apples to your desired thickness, between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick.

Spread the apples out on parchment paper-lined baking sheets, and make sure the slices don't overlap. 


Mix the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl, and sprinkle over the sliced apples.

Bake for 1 hour, then take out of the oven and turn over all of the slices. Sprinkle the other side with the cinnamon sugar. Bake for another hour, then turn off the oven and let the slices cool in the oven. Store in a sealed container at room temperature for a few days.

Cranberry Sauce (spiked with blueberries)

 Joey decided a few weeks ago that he wanted cranberry sauce to put on his sandwiches. I guess he was getting into the Thanksgiving spirit a bit early. I used my fallback recipe, that I've made the past two years in a row. At the last minute, Joey reached into the freezer, opened our bag of blueberries that we picked in June, and grabbed a handful. He threw those into the pot. It made the sauce a really deep reddish purple color, and added a slight complexity to the flavor. It worked really well, and his sandwiches that week were awesome. 

Recipe: Classic Cranberry Sauce (with an added twist)

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4-1/3 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (optional)
Juice and zest from 1 orange
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick

Rinse cranberries in cold water. Combine all ingredients in a medium pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. You want a lot of the berries to burst, and the sauce to thicken.

Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Serve chilled. Keep the cinnamon stick in the container, to keep on flavoring the sauce. Just make sure not to eat it!

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

We have now made this soup not once, but twice. I think it's high time I posted the recipe.
I love love love this soup. Joey does too, amazingly. The flavors come together so well, and the texture is really velvety. It would work well with any winter squash - pumpkin, butternut squash, acorn squash, etc. If you're using pumpkin, make sure to use a pie or sugar pumpkin, and not the regular carving kind - it won't be as flavorful. We used a pie pumpkin that was just under 4 lbs, unpeeled and with the stem.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup
Adapted from these two Alton Brown recipes
Yield: 6-8 servings

1 large winter squash, ~3.5-4.5 lbs, yielding ~6 cups of roasted flesh
Olive oil, salt and pepper
2 tbsp butter
2 large shallots, diced
1 small apple, peeled, cored and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp herbs de provence
4 cups vegetable broth
1-2 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup cream or milk (I usually use almond milk)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Cut your squash in half, and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and stringy pulp. Cut each half into quarters, or other amount of manageable-sized pieces (if that makes any sense at all). Rub the exposed flesh with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put on the baking sheet, and roast for 45-60 minutes, until flesh is soft and can be pierced with a fork, and is starting to caramelize on the edges. Put aside and let cool enough to handle.

In a large stock pot, melt 2 tbsp butter over medium heat. Add shallots and apple, and cook until soft and just starting to brown, about 10 minutes. While cooking, start scraping out the roasted pumpkin from the skin, putting in a separate bowl. Once the shallots and apple are cooked, add garlic, ginger and herbs de provence, and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add vegetable broth, scrape the bottom of the pan to dislodge any browned bits. Add the roasted pumpkin, honey, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Let simmer for another 5-10 minutes.

Take the pot off the heat, and add in the goat cheese. Use an immersion blender, or a regular blender in batches, to puree the soup. I like the immersion blender, since it makes the soup smooth without being completely textureless. Once it's nice and smooth, put it back on the heat, add the cream or half and half, and let simmer until it is all heated through. Taste and add additional salt and pepper, if needed.

Serve hot, with toast or grilled cheese. Top with additional cream or goat cheese, if desired.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Workouts from the last few weeks

So, it may seem like I haven't worked out in forever. In the past week, that is true. However, I did a whole bunch the weeks before that, that I've just been too lazy to post.
(Note - I also haven't posted any of the great food I've made lately, and I promise, it's coming soon!)

I don't feel like putting up a million separate posts, so I'm putting all of the workout posts in one.

If you recall, I left off with the 8 mile run I did on Sunday Nov 3rd. If you did remember, well great, I just wanted a chance to say it again that I ran 8 miles :)

On Monday Nov 4th, I did a strength workout at home. We thought we were going to be rushed - a friend turned 21 that day, and we were supposed to meet at a bar downtown to celebrate at 8. It turned out that the person who was in charge didn't bother to let anyone outside of their small group of friends know where it was going to be held, so we were left waiting in limbo all night. Very much a pain, because I actually put the effort in to put on some makeup! It also turned out that we didn't need to be rushed, at all. I still got a pretty decent workout in.

On Tuesday Nov 5th, I did a treadmill speed interval workout. Since I adjusted a 16 week training plan to fit my schedule for the 5 mile race, I just moved up the last two weeks of the plan to coincide with the race date. I didn't think about the fact that I was skipping many speed interval workouts, and just went straight to this one. Big mistake. I wasn't able to do the workout I have below in its entirety, which is why I have the "lazy girl" version next to that. I still ran 5.5 miles total, can't really complain much about that.

On Wednesday Nov 6th, I did KB with Joey. I think this is going to be a regular thing, doing a KB workout together. He definitely pushes me to work harder than I would by myself, or with one of the girls who I have taught.

On Thursday Nov 7th, I ran outside. Here, I ran into some problems. First, the most minor problem, one of my earbuds wasn't working. Definitely not that big of a deal, but it just made it a little harder to hear the book I was listening to. Second, the most major problem, this was the first time I was running after work, since we turned the clocks back. It was DARK. I didn't think about that while planning the route, and ended up being slightly freaked out during parts of it. A long stretch is down a slightly deserted road, one that gets a decent amount of car traffic, but gets very little pedestrian traffic. The sidewalk just disappeared at one point, and what sidewalk was there was difficult to see under the leaves. I also wasn't wearing any reflective gear, so I was nervous being in the bike lane. Twice, I passed a single person walking toward me, and I was so nervous about being by myself in the dark, that I almost thought they were coming straight at me. I really don't know what I thought they were going to do - knife me?? Sometimes my imagination is a little over dramatic. Then, to make matters worse, I realized that I hadn't heard any updates from Runkeeper in a while. I looked down and saw that it was reading 1.41 miles. I thought that didn't seem right, and looked back down a few seconds later. Still said 1.41 miles. Apparently when I had paused it at a light, even though I did press resume, it had stayed paused. I have no idea what my stats were from the ~0.75 miles it was paused. The whole thing was just incredibly slow, so I guess it doesn't even matter.
You can see in the map above, where the red line doesn't continue. I did about 5.5 miles, not just the 4.77, but I don't know exactly how long it took me to complete, maybe about 57:30.

I was supposed to do a 5 mile run the weekend of Nov 9-10, but ended up not feeling up to it. I did it instead, on Tuesday Nov 12th. I had an appointment in the early afternoon, so I decided to come home early to do the run before it. I really disliked running in the dark, and wanted to avoid that as much as possible. It was COLD! I tried out my new long sleeve running top, and a new pair of long running pants. I loved the shirt, didn't like the pants. The shirt was great, it was lightweight, so I wore it over a tank top. It has thumb holes, which helped keep it further down my hands. The pants were just too big in the waist, and there wasn't a drawstring to tighten them. The run itself went pretty well though, I stayed pretty consistent throughout, and finished in 48:34.
Splits: (average pace, pace in last 1/2 mile)

0.50 5:14 (10:28)
1.00 9:48 (9:48, 9:08) last mile in 9:48
1.50 14:48 (9:52, 10:00)
2.00 19:38 (9:49, 9:40) last mile in 9:50
2.50 24:32 (9:49, 9:48)
3.00 29:17 (9:46, 9:30) last mile in 9:39
3.51 34:05 (9:43, 9:25)
4.00 39:02 (9:45, 10:06) last mile in 9:45
4.50 43:49 (9:44, 9:34)
5.00 48:34 (9:43, 9:30) last mile in 9:32

On Thursday Nov 14th, I did the last run before my 8k race. I did 3 easy miles on the treadmill, followed by walking for 1/4 mile. I wasn't attempting to do anything fast, I just wanted to get in a few more miles, and stretch out my legs a bit. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

8k training: 8 mile run in Charlottesville

I had a pretty great day today! It started out with an extra hour of sleep - thank you Daylight Saving Time! I woke up earlier than planned and just stayed in bed, enjoying the fact that it was too early to need to get up. Once I decided I had been in bed long enough, I put on some running clothes. I got to try out some of the new things I bought last weekend. I got two new pairs of running tights/pants, as well as some seam-free underwear to hopefully get rid of some chafing issues. I tried out the new capris - they were Fila Sport from Kohl's, and really liked them.  I've had problems with their pants in the past, since the waist bands tend to be too big, but I just went a size smaller and they were fine. The underwear also worked perfectly - C9 boyshorts from Target. My only problem was some chafing underneath my arm. Now that it isn't super hot out, I don't sweat as much, which means I've lost some lubrication. The shirt I was wearing (the tech tee I got from the women's 4 miler) has short cap sleeves, and the underneath of my arm was rubbing against the fabric on my side.

The run itself was pretty great. I'm starting to realize that I have a serious kick at the end of all of my runs. I know I've mentioned this before, and that a lot of it is probably because I'm holding back in the beginning. With these long runs, I'm never fully convinced that I can keep running the whole time, so I try to go at just a nice easy pace for a while, then once I get to the point where I think hmm, I can definitely finish this run, I kick it up. I don't know how this will translate to an actual race pace. I'll probably need to start pushing the pace a bit sooner, so I don't need to sprint my last mile (even though I'm apparently capable of that). Well, "sprint." Anything under 9:00 is fast for me.

0.50 5:06 (10:12)
1.00 10:15 (10:15, 10:18) last mile 10:15
1.51 15:31 (10:17, 10:20)
2.01 20:33 (10:13, 10:04) last mile 10:12
2.50 26:00 (10:24, 11:07)
3.00 31:14 (10:25, 10:28) last mile 10:47
3.50 36:32 (10:26, 10:36)
4.00 41:42 (10:26, 10:20) last mile 10:28
4.50 46:44 (10:23, 10:04)
5.00 51:44 (10:21, 10:00) last mile 10:02
5.50 56:44 (10:19, 10:00)
5.99 1:01:33 (10:17, 9:50) last mile 9:55
6.50 1:06:36 (10:15, 9:54)
7.00 1:11:30 (10:13, 9:48) last mile 9:51
7.50 1:15:54 (10:07, 8:48)
8.00 1:20:14 (10:02, 8:40) last mile 8:44
8.01 1:20:20 average pace 10:02/mile

After I got back from the run, I had to eat a quick snack and hop in the shower. We were going out to brunch/lunch with a friend for her birthday. I am so glad I went on a run, since I had an EXTREMELY decadent meal! We went to Bluegrass Grill & Bakery, since I had been meaning to try it out for ages. It's a pretty small place and there is always a long wait. We figured that worst case if we had to wait a while, we would just grab a coffee somewhere else while waiting. We got pretty lucky and only had a few people waiting ahead of us, so it only took 15 minutes until we got a table. Let me tell you - any wait that you have is so worth it! The service was great, the portions were big, and the food was fantastic. I got the Pumpkin King, which was two giant pumpkin pancakes (that tasted like really good pumpkin bread) that sandwiched a thick layer of ginger cream cheese, and were topped with ginger caramel sauce and whipped cream. Oh my god, seriously so good. Since that clearly wasn't going to be enough food, I got a side of home fries. I would seriously recommend working out and getting yourself in a major calorie deficit before eating that, since I'm pretty sure that's the only reason I didn't feel overstuffed and sick after eating (most of) all of that food.

The rest of my day wasn't quite as exciting. I went into lab for a few hours to get some work done - yay, my little experiment worked. I then proceeded to spent the rest of the afternoon/night on the couch, watching lots of tv. Hey, I ran 8 miles this morning! :)

8k training: 3 mile run (plus a great Saturday)

I had a really nice Saturday! While Joey went on a 10 mile run, I did a quick 3 mile run. I haven't done my Saturday short runs in a while, I've mostly just focused on the long runs. I was still pretty sore from the KB workout last Wednesday, and thought this would help loosen me up. I did the same route as usual, but planned it out perfectly (without even meaning to) so I could do 3 miles and then do a few speed sets after that. I didn't go fast at all, not even with the speed sets, but felt a little better about myself for doing it.


I made a delicious breakfast after I got up - sauteed a bunch of onions, peppers and mushrooms, put them on top of two pieces of bread (seriously the best bread ever, recipe coming soon), topped with cheese, and then a fried egg. Joey had a double yolk in one of his eggs!

I had my sandwich open faced. Joey made it into a real sandwich, and loaded it up with extra veggies and sliced tomatoes. He cooked the eggs so they weren't super runny, but still had nice soft spreadable yolks

After we chowed down and had a bunch of coffee, we went to Carter Mountain Orchard to pick apples. Joey's favorite apples are Fuji, and I'm torn between Fuji and Pink Ladies. Pink Ladies are the last to become available, and I always cross my fingers that the Fujis will still be there by then. This time we were in luck, those were two of the three apples that were available to be picked! We picked a staggering 20 lbs of apples! Now I need to come up with lots of ideas for ways to use them. After we picked the apples and paid for them, we spent a few minutes just admiring how beautiful the views were. Charlottesville is just gorgeous this time of year.

After fun at the orchard, we ran some errands (Cville Market, Sam's Club, and DSW for a new pair of shoes for me). That night, we tried out a new brewery. A lot of my runs have included going down Grady to Preston, and I keep noticing that there's a new brewery (Three Notch'd Brewery) only 1/4 mile away from where I live. I said to Joey that we should check it out, and then one of our friends asked if we would want to meet for drinks that night. We suggested we go there, and I'm so glad we did! They had, I believe, 6 beers on tap, and all of them tasted great. I really liked their red ale. What I liked the most, is that they had $5 pints, but they also had $3 half pints. Sometimes I don't want to drink my beer too quickly, and am happier with a smaller pour. I can also try out a couple different beers that way without getting crazy full. We will definitely come back here. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Roasted spaghetti squash and assorted veggies with parmesan cheese

I love spaghetti squash. I definitely don't see it as a pasta substitute, but since I love veggies, that's not what I'm looking for. I like that it has such a different shape and texture than any other vegetable, and it mixes well with other flavors and sauces so well. We usually make spaghetti squash marinara but I was looking for something different this time. Once I made the recipe, I realized that the main thing I did was not use marinara sauce. Joey still wanted that, so he added some into his portion. I really wanted the veggies to shine. I also used parmesan cheese instead of fresh mozzarella, and didn't bake everything twice.

Recipe: Roasted spaghetti squash and assorted veggies with parmesan cheese
Yield: 2-3 large portions

1 large spaghetti squash (or two small)
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
1 large bell pepper
1 large onion
8 oz mushrooms (white or cremini)
1 small head broccoli
1/2 large head cauliflower
salt, pepper and garlic powder
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated (plus more to taste)

Note - use whatever veggies you happen to have on hand! I like this combination, but really, anything would work.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
(Carefully) cut open the spaghetti squash, and scoop out the slimy stringy flesh and seeds.
Rub the open sides with 1 tbsp oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on the baking sheet, and cook until tender, about 1 hour.
Remove from oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.
Turn oven temperature up to 425 F.
Chop the pepper, onion, mushrooms, broccoli and cauliflower into bite-size pieces. For me, this meant strips for the peppers and onion, slices for the mushrooms, and small florets for the broccoli and cauliflower. Lay out on two foil-lined baking sheets, and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Roast for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
Once the spaghetti squash is cool, take a fork to scrape out the flesh. Run the tines of the fork down the squash, from stem end to bottom, creating long strands. Put the squash in a large bowl, and mix in the rest of the cooked veggies. Stir in the parmesan cheese. Add more s&p (and cheese) to taste.

Killer KB Workout

This workout was pretty intense! Especially since Joey joined me for the first and third sets, and really pushed the pace in the first set. Apparently he hadn't planned on coming to the gym that day, but when I told him I had two sets planned, he decided to join me. I've never done a KB workout with him, since he's so much more advanced than I am, and does everything a lot faster. It somehow worked out really well - since he hadn't planned on doing a workout, any pace was good for him. And his natural pace was a bit too fast to me, which just pushed me to work harder than I normally do.

For the second set, he had his own thing that he wanted to do, so I struggled through on my own. I thought we were done after that, but then he had some tabata sets planned. My arms and legs were just DONE, so I decided to do core only tabata sets. Man were they hard. Two days later, EVERYTHING is sore! My quads, glutes, and lower back in particular, really hurt. This was my first time using the 25lb KB since I injured my back. All in all, this was a really great, HARD workout.