Monday, May 30, 2011

A Year Ago...

One year ago I was celebrating Memorial Day on a Mediterranean Cruise with Dave, my brother and my sister-in-law.  It was a trip of a lifetime and I'm so fortunate we were all able to go.  I had never been abroad (one of my biggest regrets is not going abroad in college), so seeing so many places was extremely special to me. We embarked on May 27th 2010, starting in Barcelona, Spain.  We stayed there for a few days before boarding the Ruby Princess cruise.  
 We went to Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Monaco, Cannes, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Naples, Capri, Pompei, Mykonos, Istanbul, Ephesus, Athens and Venice.  And it was amazing.  If you ever get a chance to go on a trip like this I highly recommend it.  We saw so many amazing places in such a short period of time!
Here's a look back...
Barecelona Spain: Highlights: Las Ramblas, La Familia, Park Guell, Guadi...Paella, Sangria...
Monaco and Cannes: Highlights: Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Royal Palace, Old Monaco, Cannes, Red Carpet, Crepes, Mussels, Nutella Crepes...
  Florence and Pisa Italy:  Highlights:  Dante, Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Galileo and the 
Leaning Tower of Pisa

 Rome: Highlights: Visited the ruins of the Forum, Sistine Chapel, Bohemian Quarter... 
 Capri, Sorrento, Pompei and Naples: Highlights: Amalfi Coast in Capri, Cliffs overlooking Bay of Naples in Sorrento, Limoncello. Pompei: Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79AD and buried the city of Pompei.  We visited the fascinating ruins in the once thriving city. And Naples- home of the pizza...oh. and Gelato. At every stop.
 Istanbul, Turkey: Highlights: Visiting the Hagia Sofia, Tokapi Palace and Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar.  Also ate amazing Turkish food...
 Mykonos, Greece: Highlights: BEACH and Greek Salad.  (Tip, there is no lettuce in a real Greek Salad).  AMAZING.  It was a half day excursion so we spent the rest of the day on the boat, hanging out and watching a movie on the roofdeck.
 Athens, Greece: Highlights: Acropolis, The Plaka, The Temple of Olympian Zeus, Old Olympic Stadium, Temple of Poseidon, Ancient Agora, Ancient Corinth. Greek Food!  More Greek Salad, Cheese Pies... etc.

Ephesus, Turkey, Highlights: Walked down the marble road to the ruins of this Roman capital.  We saw the Odeum, the Celsus Library, the Temple of Hadrian, The Fountain of Trajan and the Great Theater.  Food and beer was also amazing.
 Every night we ate dinner around 8pm in the Formal dining hall.  We enjoyed drinks, appetizers, dinner and dessert every night inspired by cuisines from all over the country.  We indulged.  And it was worth it.
 Cruise Life: Highlights: Formal Dinners, Hanging out by the Pool, Eating, Movie Watching, Cruise Games, Drinking and Amazing Sunsets...
And our last port- Venice, Italy. Highlights: St. Mark's Square and Basilica, Grand Canal, Rialto Bridge, Gondola Ride, San Giorgio Church and Italian Food. Amazing.  I loved loved loved Venice!

Did I convince you to book a trip yet? This is a really affordable way of seeing multiple countries in one trip.  It was a life-changing adventure and I'm so happy I was able to enjoy it with my husband and my brother and his wife! Hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane...

Have you ever been on a Mediterranean Cruise? Been to Europe?  What's your favorite place?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tasty Pasta & Mile Cutdowns

I made two of the tastiest pasta dishes this week.  Pasta gets a bad rap and it shouldn't.  If you eat in moderation and use healthier pastas- (I used the multi-colored vegetarian variety) then you shouldn't worry : ) Plus I'm pretty sure it was great fuel for my Speed Workout yesterday.  Want to hear about it?

I did mile-cutdowns.  But not in the traditional way.  I decided to allow myself a .25 mile (400 meter) break in between.  Somehow on my commute into the city, I convinced myself that I wanted to run a sub 7 minute mile so I had that in my head.  I want to get fast in the next month.  I'm not worried about distance.  I'm only worried about speed : ) With a few more 5Ks and 10Ks on the near horizon, I know I need to concentrate on speed workouts if I want to PR.  So here it is:
Warmup- 1 mile 6.0mph (10 min pace)
Mile 1: 7:41
400 walk/jog
Mile 2: 7:14
400 walk/jog
Mile 3: 6:58!!! 
walk/jog slowly until I reached 5 miles in 47 minutes

I'm pretty psyched about this.  Of course, it was on a treadmill so that makes it a bit easier : ) ... But back to the pastas.  They were so tasty that I'm going to go out there and say they are the reason I ran so fast.  Agree?  Maybe not, but you should still make these dishes!

The first dish I made was inspired from Kevin & Amanda's Cajun Shrimp Pasta.  I love this website- Amanda's photos are gorgeous and her recipes are always delicious.  I made this healthier by using 1% milk instead of cream and adding some greens that I had on hand. Which happened to be Kale.  (Shocking, right?)  What made this dish so rich and tasty, was absolutely the Creole Seasoning I bought.  A couple shakes of the bottle gives this dish a whole new meaning.  

Cajun Shrimp Pasta
1/2 container of tricolor (vegetarian) fettuccine pasta
3/4 lb raw shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup 1% milk
1 tsp cajun seasoning (or if you are like me and don't like to measure, a couple shakes)
a couple handfuls of leafy greens (kale, spinach or arugula)
Cook pasta according to package directions. Sprinkle shrimp with salt, pepper, and toss to combine. Sprinkle 1 tbsp flour over the shrimp, and toss to coat the shrimp. Sprinkle 1 more tbsp flour and toss to evenly coat the shrimp. 
Melt butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add the shrimp in a single layer and cook on each side, flipping once, until golden brown, approximately 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to plate. 
Pour in the chicken broth. Cook for about 5 minutes, whisking the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium and pour in milk, whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium heat until bubbly and the sauce starts to thicken the mixture, about 5 minutes. Taste the sauce and add seasonings as desired (salt, pepper, cajun seasonings, etc.) 
Then add in greens (spinach, kale, arugula) until wilted. Add the drained pasta and shrimp to the sauce, and stir to combine. Sprinkle with Parm Cheese.

Pictures do not do this justice.  This was quick and SO YUMMY!
 I cannot wait to make this dish again.  This will most definitely be a staple in my house- I can't wait to make it with chicken and more veggies : )

The next dish I made you can pretty much call it "All my favorite ingredients in one dish" Pasta. Edamame. Kale. Salmon. Avocado.  Red Pepper Flakes.  Have I sold you yet?
Inspired by one of my favorite food bloggers of all time, Cara, this dish is another genius recipe.  The one sad thing is I couldn't find Soba Noodles.  So I used the rest of the pasta from the dish above. Saved me time and money!

People always ask me how I cook so late after such a long day.  Here's my trick. Cheat.  I cooked all the pasta the night before.  Then took half of it and put it in tupperware for this dinner.  So this dinner came together so quickly. The sauce is what gave this dish so much flavor.  Mixing tahini with soy sauce and rice wine vinegar and then "massaging" the kale is what the recipe called for.  Although, I'm still not positive I "massaged" it correctly- mine didn't exactly wilt- but it still tasted flawless!

Massaged Kale and Soba Salad with Salmon, Edamame and Avocado
Adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2011 and Cara's Cravings
12 ounces wild Alaskan salmon fillet
12 ounces coarsely chopped fresh kale
1 tablespoon tahini
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1teaspoon of sugar
pinch of crushed red pepper
6 ounces Japanese-style soba noodles OR pasta of your choice
1/2 cup shelled edamame
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 375.  Place the fish, skin side down, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10-15 minutes,  until fish is just opaque in the center. Whisk together tahini, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sweetener, and crushed red pepper. In a large bowl, pour the mixture over the kale along with a big pinch of salt. Using your hands, work the dressing into the kale for about 5 minutes, until the kale has wilted down.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, and cook the pasta and edamame for 5 minutes. Drain and toss with the kale mixture.
(Oh since I made the pasta the night before, I used edamame that was READY to EAT.  No cooking necessary.)When ready to serve, cut the salmon into large chunks. To assemble, divide the kale-noodle mixture among four serving plates, and top with equal amounts of the diced avocado and salmon.
 Now stop reading this blog and go make these recipes.  No seriously, GO! I'm seriously wishing I had some left at home!

What's your favorite pasta dish?  What do you put in pasta to make it healthier?  I say the more veggies, the better!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tory Row 5K

Yesterday I ran the Tory Row 5K put on by Jayne Karolow, Events and Communications Manager of Tiger and Bears, a restaurant group that represents Miracle of Science, Middlesex Lounge, Audubon Circle, Tory Row and Cambridge, 1. I had a goal in mind for the day but  I haven't run over 5 miles since the Boston Marathon and I've only done a handful or two of runs.  Plus I've only done two speed workouts in the past month!  I did a practice 5K on the treadmill on Tuesday in 24:09 so I thought it was realistic to run the race in the 23s.  However unlike the treadmill, the course was not entirely flat and I wasn't able to reach that goal BUT I'm still happy!  And even more I was able to enjoy the race with my brother, Lauren, Becky and Becky's mom!

  And the start was right next to Lizzy's Ice Cream.  I'll definitely have to check this place out. (Love that this Lizzy spells it like me!)

The race was pretty small so we all started pretty close to the start.
Lauren acted as our official race photographer.  She didn't run because she ran 25+ miles in the Reach the Beach relay on Friday and Saturday.
And... we're off!
I went out the only way I know how to run 5Ks... HARD.  I tried not to look at my Garmin and to really just concentrate on running a fast pace.  There was a turn around at about .50 miles where I could see the leaders and my bro was leading at that point.  I felt pretty good in the first mile- it was fast but I didn't feel dead.
Mile 1: 7:23
Then we hit some hills and I slowed.  I definitely need to work on my second mile in 5Ks.  Around mile 1.5, my speedy friend Seppa passed me.  I set my goal to keep her in my sights.  But with all the tight turns it was hard to do that.  My only regret in this race is that I didn't try to go with Seppa.  Maybe next time?
Mile 2: 8:03
When I saw my pace was above 8, I told myself to toughen up and finish strong.  The last mile was on the same road.  I remember looking down at my watch around (I think) 2.60 and thinking my brother was probably done by then.  Around 2.90, I thought I had a good chance of running in the 23s, but as I turned the corner for the final stretch, I just missed that chance.
Mile 3: 7:52
Mile .14: 6:21 pace
3.13 miles- 24:13- 7:42 pace
Not a PR, but I'm getting closer! Plus, when I set my Goals for 2011 in January, my 5K goal was to break 24:15, so I accomplished that : )

Becky finished shortly after and then we got celebrating.
You know, with 10AM beers.  It's never too early right?
Then we listened to the Awards Ceremony.  My speedy brother ran 18:19:56 which is 5:56 pace.  Yep, he's fast. He won his age group and got this awesome sweatshirt! I tried to steal it, but felt guilty : )
After the race, we headed to Veggie Planet for breakfast.  I got a veggie omelet and it was perfection.  I loved the vibe of the Veggie Planet- health conscious delicious tasting vegetarian food! After brunch, I said goodbye to the On-the-run Family and headed shopping.  I forgot how much I love the basement of Urban Outfitters.  When I was in HS, we used to take the train into Boston to head to the basement to get the "Steals."  Such a good stuff!  And while I waited for Dave to pick me up, I grabbed a mini-cupcake from Sweet.  I felt I deserved it : )

It was a great little Sunday and I loved spending time with my friends and my brother.  Running brings so many people together and brings me so much happiness. I love the sport and I look forward to many more runs/races with my blog friends!!!

Oh, one other thing.  The 5K is hard.  But how awesome is it that its ONLY 3.1 miles?  I can't wait for the next race!

Whats your opinion on the 5K distance?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Wild Caught Salmon

In the last couple weeks I've been on a huge Salmon kick.  Specifically Wild Caught Salmon.  I first saw a recipe on Joanne's blog for Sweet Chipotle Glazed Salmon, I couldn't wait to make it.  Unfortunately, do to bad planning, the can of chipotles in adobo I thought I had in my lazy suzan was not there.  So I improvised.  Have you guys had Red Pepper Jelly?   I wrote about it a couple weeks ago, but its pretty much the best thing in the world.  So I made Red Pepper Jelly glazed Salmon and it was delicious.  I served this along side sweetened quinoa with golden raisins and a tablespoon or two of the Jelly and spicy Kale Chips.
Red Pepper Jelly Glazed Salmon
1/2 cup of Red Pepper Jelly
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 (6-7 oz) wild Atlantic salmon fillets

Preheat oven to 450.   Mix jam, vinegar, and cumin in the bowl.  Season glaze to taste with salt. Coat a small rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray.  Arrange salmon and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.  Spread glaze over each fillet and cook for about 10 minutes. 
 I mean how quick and easy is that? Then the next night I made a recipe inspired by Cara's site for Mango Habernero Salmon. Only I made Mango Jalapeno Salsa.  And it was insanely spicy. But I loved it!

First let me tell you how I made the Mango Jalapeno Salsa.
2 mangoes, peeled and diced
1/2 cup chopped red onion
big pinch of salt
1 jalapeno pepper
juice from 1/2 of a lime 

Preheat oven to 425ºF. Arrange the mangoes, onions, and pepper on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, spray with cooking spray, and toss to combine. Roast for 25 minutes, turning once or twice, until the onions are tender. Place the roasted mango mixture in a food processor with the pepper (start with half of the pepper and add to taste, if desired.) Squeeze the lime juice in and add another big pinch of salt. Pulse to desired consistency.

I used about a quarter of this mixture in the salmon dish I am about to show you.  The rest I used in Shrimp Tacos. I made the mango salsa one night and then had it all ready for the salmon the next night.  Pretty simple!

Mango-Jalapeno Glazed Salmon
2 wild Salmon filets
1/4 quarter cup of mango jalapeno salsa
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Place the salmon filets on the sheet and season with salt and pepper.  Puree the mango salsa with vinegar until smooth.  Season with salt.  Spread over the fish and bake for 10-12 minutes. 
 I served this deliciously glazed salmon with Kale chips (shocking!) and Cauliflower Puree. (I've made the Cauliflower before, see recipe here).
But the caulifower recipe is pretty easy: 
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
3 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 cup shredded mix of mozzarella and gruyere
Instructions: Place cauliflower in a medium shallow pot or pan. Add stock, cover and place pot over high heat. When liquid boils, reduce heat to simmer and cook covered 10 minutes. Remove cover, raise heat to medium high and allow the broth to reduce by half, 2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces and the cheeses and smash the cauliflower with a masher to the same consistency as desired for mashed potatoes. Season the cauliflower with black pepper, a pinch of salt and nutmeg. Then I sprinkled some more cheese on top and baked it for a few minutes.
Oh and if you've seen Kale Chips on my blog and have wanted to make them for yourself, I'm about to show you a really easy way to do it. Have you seen these giant Glory bags of Kale Greens at the grocery store?  Well they are awesome!
 Take a couple handfuls of the greens and throw them on your baking sheet.  Then use a tablespoon or so of olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and use your hands to mix it all around.  Then bake for 15 minutes at 375.  Every oven is different so bake until they start to crisp.  I love my spicy kale chips!
 I probably eat kale 2-3 times a week.  I'm pretty much obsessed with the taste and versatility.  Although I almost ALWAYS use Kale to make Kale Chips, I do sometimes use it in other ways.  Like this delicious dish of Peanuty Braised Kale and Tofu Stew inspired by Cara.
 The day after I made this I was eating the leftovers at lunch and gchatting with Lauren.  I told her she HAD to make this dish.  Lauren is a vegetarian and I thought she would love it.  But then I realized it has chicken broth!!!  Obviously you can make this with vegetarian broth as well. : )
Peanuty Kale and Tofu Stew
inspired by Cara's Spicy West African Braised Kale and Tofu
1b firm tofu, cubed and baked* see below for Cara's no fail way to bake crispy tofu
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 cup of chopped onion
1 small jalapeno pepper
1 teaspoon of chili powder
salt and pepper
2 cups of chicken broth (use veggie broth to keep this vegetarian- I prob used a little more to make it more of a stew)
1/2 cup of peanut butter
2 tablespoons of tomato paste (I use the kind in a tube that you keep in the fridge!)
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
3-4 cups of 1 bunch of kale, thick stems removed, roughly chopped
red pepper flakes (optional)
Heat oil in a large pot and cook the onion and jalapeno over medium heat for about five minutes.  Season with chili powder, salt and pepper and cook for a minute more. Stir in broth, peanut butter, tomato paste and vinegar.  Bring to a boil then add in kale a few handfuls at a time until it wilts down. 

 Cover and reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  If you want it extra spicy, add in a little red pepper flakes! Add tofu in last and then ladle the stew in bowls and enjoy!
*To prepare tofu- preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Spray ceramic glass dish with cooking spray.  Cut the tofu in cubes and place in dish and spray tofu with cooking spray.  Bake for 30 minutes, turning a few times.  
 Words really cannot describe how much flavor this soup has.  It's one of those taste good, feel good about yourself meals!  I loved it! : )

 The theme of the week was clearly spice, kale and salmon.  My favorites : )  Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tempo Tuesday & Workouts...

So my last workout post I talked about how I wanted to up my working out to at least 4 days.  5 if possible. Six when all things workout. Well the one thing I failed to mention in that post is that I have a 12 hour days everyday without working out.  Meaning I leave the house at 7:30am and don't get home until earliest 7pm.  There are days I can sneak out during lunch but those are few and far between.  Often I barely leave my chair during lunch. So on days I have to work late, I know I can't work out.  On days I work out in the morning, I leave at 6:15am and don't get home until 7pm.  Long days make it hard to fit in that workout, especially when I also love to cook!
Needless to say, I had a bad workout week.  It started off solid with a Spinning Class, a Speed Workout and an insane Boot Camp class on Wednesday.  But then I took Thursday and Friday off.  Saturday I ran 5 miles on the Cape and felt pretty good.  Sunday I had grand plans of running but it was down-pouring and I was lazy.  So the workouts looked like this:
Monday May 9: 
Spinning during lunch
Tuesday May 10: 
Speed Workout
Wednesday May 11: 
Boot Camp during lunch- 
Warmup: It starts with a warmup of running, high knees, butt kicks, walking lunges. Then its a 6 exercise circuit for 1 minute each. 
Circuit #1: 
1 min Jump Rope, 1 minute alt side lunge, 1 minute plank, alt leg crunch, 1 minute sumo squat and press with weights, 1 minute mountain climbers, 1 min rest 
Circuit #2: 
1 min rope, 1 minute 90 degree crunch and reverse crunch, 1 minute of spiderman, 1 minute of side lunge with weight, 1 minut of jump squat, 1 minute rest, 
Circuit #3: 
1 minute jump rope, 1 minute reverse lunge, 1 minute rocking plank, 1 minute bicycle crunches, 1 minute bridge, 1 minute skaters, Stretching
***(Oh and how did I remember this?  I asked the teacher if I could take a picture of her list with my phone, I'm sure she thought that was totally normal?!)***
Thursday May 12, Friday May 13: Off
Saturday May 14:
Ran 5 miles outside- 9:15 min pace
Sunday May 15: off

I wish I could say that with my disappointing workouts last week, I started this week with a bang.  But no.  I slept through my alarm Monday and rushed to make it to work by 7:30am.  And then I worked 7:30am-7:30pm.  Such is life.  I vowed today would be my day.

In the next couple weeks I am running 2 5Ks and the Corporate Challenge (3.5 miles).  I want to PR.  I want to run low 23s in the 5K.  My first race is the Tory Row 5K on Sunday.  Will you be there?  
Then I have the Corporate Challenge!  I'm one of the captains of my team and my first order of business was to order Expert Tech T's.  I actually ordered the same shirts we got for the DC National Half Marathon.  I love those shirts and they are only 5 bucks each!!!  They are from Expert Perfomance- check out the site if you are looking for shirts for a race! We just sent them out to get printed and I'm psyched about the shirt and the design.  I'll show you them once their finished : )
After the Corporate Challenge, I'm running the Foxboro 5K for Diabetes, a race I ran a few years ago.

So I have three chances to run fast.  As you know in order to run fast, I have to train fast so off to the treadmill I went this morning.  On tap for today was a tempo of sorts.  One mile warmup, 5K as fast to race pace as possible, 1 mile cooldown.

THE DEETS: Speed Tuesday- 1 mile warmup at 6.0mph 10 min pace, 3.1 miles in 24:09/7:46 pace, Cooldown: .15 walk at 3.0mph, .75 at 6.0. Total= 5 miles at 44:45, 8:57 pace.

Can I tell you this was SO hard for me but it felt good!  I do like that I progressively got faster.  I ran my first mile of the 5K at 8:06 and got faster as I went. It was definitely a challenge for me. One that I really liked!  Bring on the tempos!

Other races I'm signed up for include:
June 11: Mini 10K in NYC with a bunch of awesome blogger buddies

June 26: BAA 10K
August 14: Falmouth Road Race (I am actually looking to see if anyone wants my bib... I forgot I was planning a trip that weekend... leave me a comment if you are interested...)
Oh... and my marathon training begins at the end of June.  Did I mention I'm running another marathon with Becky?  Well, more on that later...

How do you balance work, life and working out?