Weekend Update

SNL Weekend Update

Everyone is so excited about my weekend

I had a busy and fantastic holiday weekend. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about it.

Started off on Saturday morning with my long run- 7 miles this week- with the Wabash River Run Club. The regular runners said they were taking the river trail “up to the cars” and back. I thought they were talking about a parking lot, but turns out there are actually some old cars on the side of the trail- kinda cool if you like old junk.

trail car trail car 2

 

After my run and a quick shower and some frantic packing, I got in the car to head to a bridal shower/girls weekend for my friend C in Ohio.

ohio

After I was on the road for a while, I realized that in my hurry to get out the door, I had forgotten to change into the sandals I had planned to wear with my dress. I was wearing bright red garden clogs:

clogs

Luckily my friend K let me borrow an extra pair of her shoes so I didn’t look like a clown.

After the shower, we adjourned to K’s farmhouse where we played my favorite game- Cards Against Humanity. Did you know that rather than buying the game for like $25, you can just print it off their website for free? My genius friend M let me in on this fun fact.

Cards against humanity

I had also made a Pinata for C. She told me that her favorite animal was a giraffe, but as it turns out, giraffe pinatas are hard to find. So I had to improvise:

unicorn pinata

UNICORN

 

GIRAFFICORN

GIRAFFICORN

His name was Gilly and he met a violent death at the hands of M. (Sorry this post is not PG). He was filled with plastic wine bottles, candy necklaces, and Lara Bars, because we are old.

We of course had some strawberry margarita jello shots, which were a little too tasty (I actually think someone forgot the tequila):

Strawberry Margarita shots

Strawberry Margarita Shots

Don’t worry though, I came prepared with the antidote for a night of drinking:

pedialyte

I get terrible hangovers, so I don’t drink very often. But when I do, I always chug a big bottle of Pedialyte before I go to bed. I figure if it’s FDA approved for kids with diarrhea, it can’t hurt me. Plus it actually has less sugar and additives than your plain old Gatorade.

On my day off on Monday, Sam & I decided we needed a little adventure, so we drove down to Turkey Run State Park for some day-hiking.

Turkey Run

We were really pleasantly surprised with the park- lots of neat canyons and plenty of trails. We want to go back for canoeing or floating sometime.

turkey run bridge

Hope you enjoyed your Memorial Day weekend as much as we did!

 

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Chicken Baked in Coconut Milk

The other night I made some wonderful baked chicken. I had purchased some beautiful asparagus from the farmers market, and since Sam doesn’t love asparagus, I had to make sure to put it on the side of some really amazing meat. Inspired by this post from the kitchn (one of my favorite cooking blogs) and a love of coconut milk, I went for it.  I actually based my recipe off of this one since I didn’t want to use a whole chicken.

Chicken Baked in Coconut Milk

INGREDIENTS
  • 1/2 a can of light coconut milk (I like Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste, or minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon lemongrass paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 chicken thighs (with skin/bones)
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, sliced into ribbons
INSTRUCTIONS 
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Whisk together all ingredients (except chicken) until well combined.
  3. Arrange chicken skin side up in cast iron skillet or dutch oven.
  4. Pour sauce over chicken, making sure to coat all of it. Sprinkle a bit of extra brown sugar on top of each thigh.
  5. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and pour excess sauce/juices into a small saucepan. Return chicken to oven for an additional 15 minutes.
  6. On the stovetop, heat sauce to a simmer. Add flour and whisk to remove any lumps.
  7. Remove chicken from the oven and top with fresh basil. Serve with extra sauce.

I served mine with the asparagus and a barley pilaf. Everything was great with the sauce. Enjoy!

 

 

Finding a Running Club

Recently I’ve been looking for a running buddy. Running the same old routes by myself day after day gets a little old.  My friend H, who recently moved to a new city, has had great luck finding a friendly and supportive running group to go on training runs and travel to races with. After asking around at a local running store, I found out about the Wabash River Running Club. They host a few yearly races and organize free training runs several days a week.

I was a little intimidated initially, I expected this “official” running club to be full of experienced, elite athletes. I was pretty sure things would end up like this:

puppy stretch

So when I attended a training run on Saturday, I was pleasantly surprised to find a friendly group of mixed abilities. They were so welcoming and I got a bunch of new running technique and route tips! I’m planning to continue to join weekly training runs and attend their events.

Last night, WRRC hosted the first race of it’s Farmer’s Market 5k Series. On the third Wednesday of the month from May-September, you can compete in a timed 5k around Cumberland Park. I’m planning to use these races as speed workouts, and to track my progress leading up to the marathon.

photo 1 (1)

It was VERY muggy last night- one of the hottest days yet this spring. I tried to push myself, and managed an average pace of 8:28, finishing in 26:15. I’m not going to lie- it was a hard run. My heart rate was pretty much the highest it’s ever been, and I felt like I was going faster than I actually was. I have a long way to go if I want to maintain a pace only slightly slower than that for 26 miles in October. Maybe I need to re-adjust my goal times.

Anyways, it was a fun event. I ran behind these two goobers for a good part of the race, so my mind was pleasantly distracted with daydreams of running with my future puppy.

photo 2

Afterwards, I needed some fuel to recover- you know what that means:

photo 4

Extra sprinkles.

Cross Training

My usual workout routine is pretty varied in terms of activities. I’ve hopped on a lot of bandwagons, including:

In the last few years, I’ve mixed running with group fitness classes pretty evenly. But lately, I’ve been concentrating so much on getting my running routine down that I have not been keeping up with other forms of exercise*. I know that I need strong arms and a strong core to increase my running power and to prevent injuries. Right now I can barely do a push-up.

30 Rock

TRUTH

And so I have declared a new Holiday:

CROSS TRAINING TUESDAY

Big Reveal

Big Reveal

Every Tuesday, I’m going to get to the gym after work and take a class or two. Yesterday, for the inagural Cross Training Tuesday, I started with something called “Insanity”. Have you ever heard of Insanity? These classes all have crazy names and I figured it was just another version of the resistance training routines that I’ve attended many times. It’s probably a good thing that I had not heard of Insanity, because if I had I might not have gone. What I learned was that the class is basically 50 solid minutes of jumping:

What the professionals look like

It pretty much killed me. We did star jumps, alternating lunge jumps, criss-cross jumps, push-up jumps, crunch jumps, basically just take any workout move and add a jump. It made me sweaty/tired/hungry like crazy.

Then I decided to treat myself to a nice relaxing yoga session. I haven’t had a good long stretch in a while, so this was quite enjoyable.

I really need a dog.

*Sign you should not be writing a running blog: you spell exercise wrong every time.

 

 

Up at Dawn

I wish I could say that after one good week of committed morning runs, it has become a routine habit. Unfortunately, I am back to hitting the snooze button every morning when my run alarm goes of at 5:20am.

You know what is the best thing about Dawn? The character named Dawn from the Babysitters Club Series. She was crunchy and fashionable and healthy in a super eighties, teased bangs kind of way:

Dawn Schafer

Raise your hand if you actually tried to start a babysitters club when you were eleven years old

But I digress. I’m still working on the morning thing. Rather than jump from waking up at 6:45 to 5:20 all at once, I’m trying to establish a wakeup time 15 minutes earlier each week. Last week I woke up at 6:30, this week 6:15, and so on until eventually I (hopefully) am naturally waking up early enough to run every morning. I need to get my morning runs established before the weather gets too hot to run in the afternoon.

The most helpful piece of advice I’ve received (from the internet) is this- when your alarm goes off:

I’m a pro at talking myself out of things. But if I repeat this mantra in my head “Don’t think, just do. Don’t think, just do. Dontthinkjustdo” before I have time to make excuses, I can occasionally force myself out of bed before I hit the snooze button (or worse, fall into the instagram/buzzfeed vortex).

Obviously I need a little extra motivation… enter breakfast burritos. My first encounter with breakfast burritos was a college tradition…. everyone would go to the Q’Doba in Broad Ripple after a night out at the bars for a giant egg, steak, and queso filled monster of a burrito. Actually, because I was too much of a wuss to have a fake ID, my friend M and I use to ride the drunk bus (totally sober) to Broad Ripple just to go to QDoba. Where we would wait in line with about half of Butler’s student population and talk about who was throwing up in the QDoba bathroom.

a tiny hamster eating a tiny burrito

 

This version is sadly queso-less, in the name of health. I make a big batch and freeze them so that I have something hearty on hand in the morning to keep me full and energized throughout the day, and to sneak in some vegetables early. I put half of them in the freezer at work and half of them at home so I’m covered even if I’m running late.

MOTIVATIONAL MORNING BURRITOS

-1 package of 8-10 large burrito sized tortillas (I used the wheat variety)

-16 oz carton of All Whites egg whites (or sub 10 eggs, beaten)

-Olive Oil cooking spray

-1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/8 inch thick

-1 medium red bell pepper, diced

-1/2 yellow onion, diced

-salt and pepper to taste

-2 cups Gardien Beefless Ground

-1 teaspoon italian seasoning

-crushed red pepper (to taste)

-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray, add entire contents of All Whites carton. Using a spatula, keep stirring every 30 seconds until eggs are just heated through, about 5 minutes. Do not overcook. Transfer scrambled egg whites to a small bowl and set aside.

2. Spray skillet with cooking spray, add beefless ground, italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper. You’ll want to season generously as the stuff is pretty flavorless on its own. Saute until warmed through (stir constantly as it will stick to the pan easily), about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

3. Spray skillet with cooking spray, add zucchini, onion, and bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until onions turn translucent and vegetables begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

4. Arrange Tortillas, eggs, beefless ground, sauteed vegetables, and chedder cheese in an assembly line on your workspace. Add about 2 tablespoons each of eggs, beefless grounds, and vegetables to each burrito. Top with 1 tablespoon of cheddar cheese.

Breakfast Burritos 1
5. Roll tortilla up- first roll halfway, then fold in sides, then finish roll.

Breakfast Burritos 4
6. Wrap each finished burrito in Saran Wrap, wax paper, or tinfoil. Store in plastic bag labeled with date and contents.

Breakfast Burritos 5

To reheat, microwave for 45 seconds, flip, and microwave for an additional 45 seconds. Or if you have time, heat on a dry  skillet for about 2 minutes on each side for a crispy grilled burrito.

Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers with sausage, kale, and feta

Our summer home improvement project is to spruce up our patio.  What was once a slab of concrete between the house and the woods will soon be an inviting place to relax, eat, and entertain.  Our first step toward this aim was to put up strings of cafe lights, and I have to say that just this one little thing has made a huge difference. It turns it into more of a ‘room’ and brings a festive atmosphere.

pepper 4

 

I decided to make a meal to match the European cafe vibes that my patio is giving off. Stuffed peppers have always been a go-to meal for me, though I’ve never made them this way before (inspired by this post). The Greek and Italian ingredients bring the dish to a whole new level. I don’t know if I will ever go back to my plain old rice/sausage/cheese stuffed peppers again.

Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers

  • 1 cup dry bulgur (can sub any other grain- couscous, rice, quinoa, etc)
  • 1 cup chicken or veggie stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 red/orange/yellow bell peppers, cleaned and halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 of a red onion, chopped
  • 3-4 medium cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 lb italian sausage (or 2-3 links with casings removed)
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 6 handfuls baby kale (can sub spinach)
  • 4oz feta cheese, crumbled
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt to taste
  • olive oil
  1. Prepare bulgur according to package, using 1 cup of stock + 1 cup of water for cooking liquid
  2. Cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink, 6-8 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Preheat your oven to broil and lightly oil, salt, and pepper the halved bell peppers and place in a casserole dish. Place under the broiler for a 2-4 minutes, then flip and broil for another 2-4 minutes.  You want them slightly tender, not limp.  Set aside.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F
  5. Heat a large pan over medium and add 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil. Once hot, add the onion and stir occasionally until translucent and soft, about 5-8 minutes.
  6. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and black pepper for 30 seconds until fragrant, then add in the olives, sun-dried tomatoes, sausage, and cooked bulger and stir together.
  7. Add in your baby kale and incorporate until just starting to wilt, another 3-4 minutes.
  8. Add half the feta, lemon juice, and lemon zest, then give it one more stir and taste.  Add more salt if desired.
  9. Lightly pack the bulgur mixture into the pepper halves, filling in any remaining mixture around the peppers in the  dish. Top with remaining feta.
  10. Bake at 400F for 10-15 minutes- until edges are crispy and feta begins to brown.

pepper 3

 

 

Super Crunchy

Recently my mom asked me how I would describe my brother and his wife, who are typical San Franciscans in that they live a fairly “green” lifestyle, aka they were refusing disposable shopping bags before it was the law, and they have seriously considered worm composting despite the fact that they live in a tiny apartment. In my mom’s time they might have been called hippies:

flower power

in the 90s they would have been yuppies:

Yup

They are not quite lame enough (or maybe too lame?) to be hipsters:

yes, a deer can be a hipster

To be fair, relative to anyone in the midwest, the entire population of San Francisco are hipsters.

The term I prefer is crunchy. As described on Urban Dictionary:

“Adjective. Used to describe persons who have adjusted or altered their lifestyle for environmental reasons. Crunchy persons tend to be politically strongly left-leaning and may be additionally but not exclusively categorized as vegetarians, vegans, eco-tarians, conservationists, environmentalists, neo-hippies, tree huggers, nature enthusiasts, etc. Modified derivative of granola.”

Which brings me to the point of this post: I made granola!!  My friend A had a baby this week, and naturally I went straight to work devising a reason to visit her and absorb as much new baby wonderfulness as possible. Granola is one of my favorite DIY gifts. It is easy, fairly inexpensive, and it makes a lot, so after you give a few jars away you still have plenty to enjoy yourself. Plus, who doesn’t love granola?

I am a fan of David Lebovitz’ recipe. It uses unsweetened applesauce to cut down on sugar and oil, and always turns out nice and crunchy, with plenty of nuts and a good roasty flavor.  Here’s how I make it:

  • 5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3 cups chopped nuts (I used 1 cup almonds, 1 cup walnuts, 1 cup pistachios)
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 3/4 cup flaxseeds
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup agave syrup
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon walnut oil
  • 1 cup of dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 300F

1. In a very large bowl, mix together the oats, almonds, sunflower and sesame seeds, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.

2. In a small saucepan, warm the fruit puree with the agave syrup, honey, and oils.

3. Mix the fruit mixture into the dry ingredients until thoroughly dispersed, then divide and spread the mixture evenly on two jelly roll pans (or baking sheets).

4. Bake the granola for about 45 minutes, stirring every ten minutes, until the granola is deep golden brown.

5. Remove from oven, then cool completely.

6. Add dried cranberries and mix.

I usually buy a new pack of pint-sized mason jars to package the granola- this filled 6 pints. The recipe is fairly flexible- use whatever combination of nuts/seeds/oil/dried fruit you have on hand. My favorite way to enjoy it is over plain greek yogurt, or by the handful with a nice cup of tea. This granola is so much better than anything you can buy in the store. Once you go crunchy, you never go back.