Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Speed Wednesdays! And Dinners!

Major delays getting into the city today.  I left at my normal time but didn't make it to my treadmill until 7:45am.  This meant I would have to run fast to make it to work.  On the plan was 6X800s with 400 rest.  I ran a warmup mile then got started. Everything at 1.0 incline. 
800: 3:42
400 Rest
800: 3:37
400 Rest
800: 3:32
400 Rest
800: 3:30
400 Rest
800: 3:25
400 Rest
800: 3:19!!! YAY That was 9.0MPH (6:40 Pace)
1/2 Mile Cooldown
6 miles 55 minutes
I took off Monday and Tuesday from working out.  I was sore on Monday and ended up working 7am-8:30pm so I never got around to going to the gym.  Tuesday was another long day so I decided to push off my speed until today.  Tomorrow is the end of Biggest Loser so I plan to run as long as I possibly can before work in the morning to burn off more calories.  Friday I will go to Physical Therapy and Saturday Nancy and I will run long.  Maybe 14-16?

On to food....
Saturday I made Swiss Chard & Sweet Potato Gratin and Homemade Pizza Dough (this is a first for me!)  
The gratin was for dinner on Sunday night and the pizza dough was for later in the week.  I decided to make it Saturday so I didn't have to really worry about cooking after running 20 miles.  The recipe was inspired by Smitten Kitchen (one of the best food blogs out there if you ask me).  I don't even have words for how tasty this gratin was.  It was sweet and hearty and delicious and just yummy!
3 tablespoons of butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 pounds Rainbow Swiss chard, leaves and stems separated and both cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup of skim milk

1 cup of half and half
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons flour
4 medium-large red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick rounds
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of coarsely grated Piave Extra Vecchio cheese (we got this at a specialty cheese store, you can just use Gruyere)

1/2 cup of monterey Jack cheese
Prep greens: Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in a wide 8-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add chard stems, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender but not browned, about 8 minutes. Increase heat to moderately high and add chard leaves by large handfuls, stirring, until all greens are wilted. Season with salt and pepper then transfer greens to a colander to drain well and press out liquid with back of a large spoon.
Make sauce: Combine cream/milk and garlic in small saucepan; bring to simmer; keep warm. Melt two tablespoons butter in a medium heavy saucepan over moderate heat and stir in flour. Cook roux, whisking, one minute, then slowly whisk in warm cream/milk and boil, whisking, one minute. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
Assemble gratin: Preheat oven to 400°F. Spary a 9×13 baking dish. Spread half of sweet potatoes in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, a quarter of the herbs and a 1/4 cup of the cheese. Distribute half of the greens mixture over the cheese, then sprinkle salt, pepper, half the cheese over it. Pour half of bechamel sauce over the first two layers then continue with the remaining sweet potatoes, more salt, pepper, and cheese and then the remaining greens, salt, pepper and herbs. Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the gratin, pressing the vegetables slightly to ensure that they are as submerged as possible. Sprinkle with the last 1/4 cup of monterey jack cheese.
 On Sunday I made  Swiss Chard Wrapped Salmon inspired by Whole Foods to go along with the gratin.

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 small organic orange
1 chipotle in adobo sauce (from a can), finely chopped (seeds removed, if desired)
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 (4-ounce) boneless, skinless fillets farm-raised salmon
2 large organic Swiss chard leaves, trimmed

Instructions: Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease the bottom of a baking dish with 1/2 teaspoon oil; set aside. Zest orange and transfer zest to a small bowl. Peel orange and roughly chop, discarding seeds. Add to bowl with zest along with chipotle, 1/2 teaspoon oil, salt and pepper. Toss gently; set salsa aside. Brush salmon all over with remaining 1 teaspoon oil; season with salt and pepper. Using a fork, mash the rib of each chard leaf to make it more pliable. Arrange each salmon fillet on one of the chard leaves and spoon half the salsa over each. Wrap salmon and salsa in chard leaves, folding in the leaf ends to make 2 packages. Arrange in baking dish, seam-sides down. Bake about 15 minutes and serve. 
 The fruit and the spiciness of the chipotle worked perfectly in this dish.  And I pretty much love all leafy green vegetables and even more love salmon so what could be bad?  I haven't had salmon in awhile and this totally hit the spot.  We ate this Sunday night and it was a perfect after race meal.  Hearty but still healthy.

Monday night I worked until 9pm and ate whatever was around the office. Tuesday I woke up early and made the pizza I had planned.  I wanted to cook dinner BEFORE work because I figured I would work late.  Here is my pizza dough recipe and the pizza.
Basic Pizza Dough - Processor Method Recipe Emeril inspired by
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 1/2  cups white flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
In a small bowl, combine yeast with water, olive oil, salt and stir well to proof. After 5 minutes, transfer to the bowl of a food processor along with flour, salt, and olive oil and process until the dough forms a ball. The dough should be soft but not sticky. If it is too sticky, add a bit more flour and process for another minute. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead dough for 2 to 3 minutes, adding enough additional flour if necessary to form a smooth and elastic dough. Dough should not be sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled 2 or 3 quart bowl and turn to coat dough with oil. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, usually at least 1 hour. 
 And the pizza I made was from Love & Olive Oil: Pear, Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Pizza. 
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 firm-ripe pear, halved, cored, and cut into thin slices
8 very thin prosciutto slices, torn into pieces
3 oz soft mild goat cheese, crumbled or spread (I bought the goat cheese spread)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Heat a splash of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute, stirring frequently, 10 to 12 minutes or until onions are caramel colored and soft. Remove from heat. Roll out dough onto pizza pan and bake crust for 5-7 minutes or until just set, pressing down any large bubbles that might form. Remove from oven and quickly brush crust with olive oil and top with onions, pear, prosciutto, and cheese. Bake pizza until crust is crisp and cheese begins to brown, 15-18 minutes. Transfer pizza to board. Cut into wedges and serve immediately. 

Along with the pizza I made Asparagus and Shitaki Teriyaki Quinoa
1 cup quinoa (1/2 red, 1/2 white)
2 cups water
1/2 tablespoon oil
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms (sliced)
2 tablespoons store-bought teriyaki sauce
1/2 pound asparagus (cut into bite sized pieces )
1 green onion (chopped)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (toasted)

Simmer the quinoa in the water until the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.  Heat the oil in a pan.  Add the shiitake mushrooms and asparagus and saute for a few minutes. Add the teriyaki sauce until it is absorbed, about 1-3 minutes. Mix quinoa with veggies and teriyaki sauce and serve.
 I also made Balsamic Brussel Sprouts with Maple Bacon inspired by Smitten Kitchen
1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pounds medium-sized brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed
Salt and pepper

3 pieces of bacon cut in small dice 
3 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups veal stock, rich chicken or vegetable broth or beef broth, more if needed


Heat butter and remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until foamy. Add brussels sprouts, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sauté, tossing frequently, until lightly browned, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add diced bacon, and sauté, tossing frequently, until sprouts are well browned and softened slightly, and pancetta is crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes more. Reduce heat, add shallots and garlic, and sauté until fragrant, 2 minutes. Increase heat to high, add balsamic vinegar and stock, and cook, tossing frequently, until sprouts are glazed and tender, about 20 minutes; add more stock if needed. Taste, adjusting seasoning if necessary, and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Transfer to a warm serving bowl and scatter panko on top.
 Okay and now before m eyes completely close- tonight I made Chicken Tortilla Casserole inspired by Annie Eats.  This is one of those recipes I've had my eye on for awhile but kept pushing off.  I was really confused about adding tortilla chips and how they would get soggy.  But this actually worked!  This was really really cheesy and delicious.  It tasted like it would be perfect after a really drunken night out or to eat the night before you last weigh in for Biggest Loser.  Oops.  Not my healthiest meal ever but oh well. This is also not the most attractive dish you will see.  Annie made it look pretty but I could not.  It was also 8:30 before we sat down for dinner so I'm not sure I cared.
Chicken Tortilla Casserole
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied into halves (4 halves total)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp. minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1¾ cups chicken broth
5 cups tortilla chips, broken into large pieces
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
4 oz. sharp mexican blend cheese, shredded

Pat the chicken breast halves dry and season with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a 10-12 inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken to the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides (chicken does not need to be fully cooked at this point.)  Transfer to a plate and set aside. Add the remaining oil, shallot, garlic, chipotle, and ¼ teaspoon of salt.  Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the chicken broth, scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and bring to a simmer. Stir in half of the tortilla chips.  Nestle the chicken into the broth and cook over medium-low heat until cooked through, about 10 minutes.  Transfer the cooked chicken pieces to a cutting board and dice when it is cool enough to handle. Return the shredded chicken to the skillet with the tomatoes, ½ cup of the shredded cheddar cheese.  Stir in the other half of the tortilla chips until they are incorporated and moistened.Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and place the pan under the broiler until the cheese is melted and browning, about 2-3 minutes.  

Sometimes, meals taste better then they look.  Trust me on this one. Even in this crazy busy week, I had time to cook. I cannot believe it's only Wednesday.  I'm not cooking again until Saturday for our dinner party with Gretchen and her hubby and Carissa and Ben.  See you then!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Eastern State 20 Miler Recap

I ran the Eastern State 20 Miler this morning with Nancy and a new friend Darin.  There's nothing like getting to know someone then running 20 Miles.  Problem was, we drove up together all the way to Kittery Maine so we had a lot of getting to know-each-other-time before the race even began.  Anyway, this race was supposed to cross three states.  Starting in Kittery, Maine, then New Hampshire and ending in Salisbury, MA.  But some bridge was closed so instead we ended in Hampton Beach, NH.  The race started off and we were all just settling into our pace. Our first mile was slow but then we got into our pace.  I decided to run with my water bottle because after last week, I didn't want to be without water even for a minute.  It was annoying and great at the same time. 

Can you see us at the start?
 No? Me either.
Race Recap Time:
Miles 1-4
(9:34 9:15, 9:13, 9:12)
Nothing really to report on these miles.  We were just running along, enjoying the beautiful ocean views.  Around this time, Nancy mentioned she needed to pee but would wait for a port-a-potty.
 Miles 5-7
(9:00, 9:05, 9:05) 
We stopped at mile 7 for my running partners to use the bathrooms.  I stretched some and drank water.  I wanted to leave my watch running, but I never shut off the auto-pause.  (Anyone know how to shut that off?) I filled up my water bottle here too.  I loved having water with me, but I definitely could here it slooshing around in my tummy.
Miles 8-12
(9:04, 9:12, 9:30, 9:34, 9:40)
Miles 10 on I started feeling pretty terrible.  The wind on this course was insane and being a point-to-point race, we never got the wind at our back.  Speaking of backs, my back was pretty much in excruciating pain at this point.  Okay, maybe that's dramatic (who me) but it was hurting A LOT.  I was wearing two of my tightest sports bras, plus a tank with a built in so it could be that it was too tight OR I really need to strengthen my core.  At this point, I started to feel like I was totally holding Nancy and Darin back but they were so nice to stay with me.
Miles 13-16
(9:57, 9:38, 9:50, 9:51)
Uh oh, things are not going well for Lizzy here.  I started to run behind Nance and Darin and started to think in terms of how much we had left.  The wind picked up more, more water stops and negative lizzy was trying to get into my brain.  I tried really hard to get her away and thought more in terms of 1 more hour, 45 minutes, 5K to run...
Miles 17-18
(9:39, 9:45)
Trudging along. Excited for the finish.  Wanting the wind to stop blowing.  Loving the fact that the last water stop gave out Jelly Beans.  I think I ate 20. At one time.  My teeth were not happy.  Nancy starts talking about how she gave up candy for lent and how she's mad she couldn't make it the final week.  Then she says something like Jesus will understand.  I almost died.  I think we're all losing it at this point.  We turn the corner at Mile 18 onto Hampton Beach boardwalk.  In warm weather, this would be gorgeous (well sorta, Hampton is kinda just like the Jersey Shore...oh c'mon you know you watched).  Unfortunately, turning this corner we ran into the biggest wind of the entire race.  The wind was blowing from the shore sideways into us.  The sand was in my mouth, in my eyes.  I wanted. to. die.  Period.  At this point, I let Nancy and Darin go.  They would stop every 200 feet or so and wait for me which was soooo nice but unfortunately, I coudn't keep up when they would start running again. 
Miles 19-20 and .12
(10:26, 9:54, 8:51)
I officially lost them around mile 19.20 and I just kept trying to move forward while eating sand and passing a few people who decided to walk in the final mile.  I crossed the line in 3:17ish according to their results.  Mrs. Garmin said 3:11:27 (9:31 pace) with the autopause.  My first 20 Miler Ever.  Successful, but I wish I felt better.
 And yes, I was happy to finish, but all I could think is HOLY SH@$#%, on May 2nd I will have to run 6.2 more miles?  Shoot. Me. 
All smiles at the end with the beach in the background. I'm glad I did this race.  But it WAS HARD! My legs and I want to go to bed, but my sheets are still in the dryer.  Booo!!!  Made a great dinner, but will post it later. Have a good week!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

: )

Thursday night I made Polenta Pepporoni Pizza Bake.  It was basically like putting all your pizza toppings on top of sliced pre-cooked polenta.  Pretty simple and I loved it!  I'm really loving Polenta. After I put the polenta bake into the oven, I looked into our almost bare refrigerator and saw some Arugula that was 1 day away from being on it's way out.  I remember seeing Giada make an Arugula soup once, so I quickly looked up the recipe.  Gotta love the internet.  I had all the ingredients needed except yukon-gold potatoes.  I knew that ingredient would make the soup thick and creamy so I improvised and looked around my kitchen.  Low and behold, I found rutabaga.  I had originally bought rutabaga to use it in a Root Vegetable Gratin that I never got around to making.  Never using or tasting rutabaga before, I asked my good friend Google if I could use it in place of potatoes and sure enough I found something that said it a good replacement.  So I diced it up and threw it in!  But before I talk about that recipe.  Let me get you the Pepperoni Polenta Pizza Bake.  This recipe was inspired by Whole Foods.
Nonstick cooking spray
1 (18-ounce) roll precooked polenta, cut into 9 rounds
1 cup marinara sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup sliced roasted red peppers
9 thin slices (about 1 1/2 ounces) pepperoni
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup sliced pepporoncini's
Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange polenta rounds in an even layer in the bottom of the dish. Spoon marinara sauce over the top, then scatter with oregano. Arrange peppers and pepperoni over the sauce, then top with cheese and bake until hot throughout and bubbly, about 35 minutes. Serve hot.
There is polenta under there, I promise.  Okay, moving on to the Creamy Arugula Soup.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 medium rutabaga, peeled and diced
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup chopped, about 2 ounces, assorted lettuce (I used Romaine)
2 cups (2 ounces) arugula or spinach leaves
1/4 cup cream
salt and pepper to taste
In a medium pot warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until tender and starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the rutabega and the stock. Bring the stock to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer, covered, until the potatoes are almost tender, about 20 minutes. Add the arugula and lettuce to the pot and continue simmering, uncovered until the greens are tender, another 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the rutabega and greens to a blender. Pour in enough of the stock to cover the vegetables. Add the cream, salt, and pepper.
*Blend the ingredients together until smooth. Be careful to blend slowly at first with a kitchen towel held tight to the top of the blender lid. Blending hot ingredients can cause the lid to blow off. Pour the blended soup back into the pot with the remaining stock. Stir to combine. Cover and keep warm.
 I of course, garnished with some Kale Chips and served with a side salad. 

Last night, my husband and I went to Haru in the Prudential for some sushi.  It was okay but the service was pretty bad. I went to bed early and woke up early today to plan my grocery shopping and menu for the week.  Yes, I know I'm a dork and I actually look forward to checking out recipes and deciding what to make for the week.  I'm getting ready to leave the house soon, but we just got into "How to Make it in America" on HBO and now can't stop watching!

Here's what I got planned for the Week:
Sunday: Swiss Chard & Sweet Potato Gratin with Swiss Chard Wrapped Salmon
Monday: Pear, Proscuitto & Goat Cheese Pizza with Balsamic Brussel Sprouts
Tuesday: Swiss Chard Pie (maybe this week I will actually make it!)
Wednesday: Quinoa Loaf and Quinoa Salad with Mushrooms & Asparagus
Thursday: OUT after work to celebrate the end of Biggest Loser
Friday: Leftovers

Also, I made a pretty tasty breakfast this morning.  I made a clean-out-the-fridge fritatta which was basically 5 eggs, some skim milk, tomatoes, pepperoni, pepperoncini's, red peppers, green peppers, monterey jack cheese, salt and pepper. Combined these ingredients in a small saute pan, then transferred it to the oven. 
I served this with some toast and butter... My favorite!  Nice little breakfast.
While the oven was still hot, I made another batch of Baked Banana Oatmeal.  
I have to be honest about something.  I REALLY REALLY hate the texture of oatmeal but baked oatmeal, mmmmm.  Here's what I do:
Baked Banana Oatmeal
Combine the dry ingredients:
2 cups rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
(Toppings of your choice, I've used chocolate chips, coconut, heath bar chips...)
Combine the wet ingredients:
1 egg, beat
1 mashed banana
1.5 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp vanilla
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix well.
Spray some cooking spray in a loaf pan then add the mixture and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.
I cut this into individual serving sizes for the week.  I've been eating a piece a day after I workout in the morning.  Speaking of workouts- I went to the gym every morning this week!  And tomorrow I am running the 20 Mile Race!  Eeek!
Monday: Upper Body Lifting Workout
Tuesday: Speed Tuesdays 10X400 starting at 1:50 down to 1:29, 6 miles
Wednesday: 20 Minutes on the Big Step, 5X1Minute intervals running backwards on treadmill at incline of 15
Thursday: 6 Miles Easy
Friday: 4 Mile Tempo (15 Min Easy 6.0MPH, 5 Min at 7.5-8.0, 5min slow, 5 Min at 7.5-8.0, 5min slow)
Saturday (today): off
Sunday: 20 Mile Road Race!
Total Mileage if all goes well: 36 Miles

Off to enjoy my weekend. Will report back on the race!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

And on to Food

Monday night I made a recipe I saw on Elly Says Opa: Chicken, Mushroom, Pea and Stuffing Casserole. I was drawn to this because my husband LOVES peas.  Yes, peas.  They would definitely not be one of my favorite veggies, but he loves loves loves them.  So whenever I see a recipe with peas, I try to make it for him.  This was a tasty casserole.  My only problem is I put some of the bread cubes on the bottom of the casserole and they got kind of soggy.  Maybe thats why Elly says to put them on top.  Oops!
2 Tbsp. butter 
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup strong chicken broth/stock, divided (preferably warm or at room temp)
1/2 cup milk (preferably warm or at room temp)
1/4 cup grated (about 2 oz.) pecorino romano or parmesan cheese
2 Chicken Thighs (maybe 1/2 a pound), chopped into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup frozen peas
1.5 cups cubed, staled bread (I used day old wheat french bread)

1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
scant 1/4 tsp. ground sage
scant 1/4 tsp. ground marjoram

Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly spray a 1.5 – 2 qt casserole dish. Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and add the mushrooms and bay leaf. Cook until the mushrooms are tender and have lost most of their moisture.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in the flour. Cook until the mixture turns a light golden brown.  Slowly add 3/4 cup of chicken broth and the milk.  Whisk out any flour clumps and continue to simmer until the mixture bubbles  slightly and begins to thicken, just coating the back of a spoon.  Stir in the uncooked chicken and the peas, and season to taste with salt and pepper, cook for 15 minutes. Pour the mixture into the caserole dish.  Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the top. Mix the remaining 1/4 cup of broth with the bread cubes and herbs. Place the mixture on top of the chicken mixture (I also put some on the bottom of the baking pan- don't do that.)  Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes.
On the side, I made an abridged version of my Leek Soup.  I had Leeks that were about to go bad, so I made some soup.
 2-3 chopped leeks, white and light green parts only
1 large onion chopped
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 quart chicken stock
bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup milk or cream
Melt butter in a sauce pan, add leeks and onions and saute until clear, add flour and mix, cook till light brown.  Add cold chicken stock slowly.  Using your blender mix the soup together, then add some milk or cream.  Add more salt and pepper if needed.
Then on Wednesday, I made Mediterranean Fish Stew inspired by Closet Cooking.  This was spicy and really tasty.  It was almost like a bouillabaisse but probably took 1/3 of the time. This was also the first time I tried fennel.  Gretchen raves about it all the time but how its described- slight licorice taste, made me quite nervous.  It was seriously perfect in this dish!  And I will definitely make it again and use it in future dishes. 
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion (diced)
4 cloves garlic (chopped)
chili flakes to taste (optional)
1 bulb fennel (sliced)
1 red pepper (cut into bite sized pieces)
1 cup white wine
1 (28 ounce) can diced  tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound fish
(I used Trader Joe's Mixed Seafood Blend)
Heat the oil in the pan. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 6-10 minutes. Add the garlic and chili pepper flakes and saute until fragrant, about a minutes. Add the fennel and red peppers and saute for a few minutes. Add the white wine and simmer for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the seafood and simmer until cooked, about 10 minutes.  Serve in a bowl with some bread so you can scoop up the deliciousness!!  Garnish with Kale (of course)!

I served Eggplant and Kale Chips on the side.  I made the Eggplant Chips pretty similar to how I make Kale Chips.  I sliced it real thin, added EVOO, Salt and Pepper and baked in an extremely hot oven until crisp. I think I could live on these two veggies.  Seriously.
Okay, moving.  Last night, I made Teriyaki Pineapple Portobello Mushroom Burgers.  I found this recipe on Whole Foods.  I changed up some stuff but it was pretty much the same.  This was OKAY.  The pineapple kind of dominated and the teriyaki sauce needed to be more prominent, but it was another nice vegetarian meal.  Dave asked if I was turning him into a vegetarian!
2 (5-inch) portobello mushrooms, stemmed
1/2 (20-ounce) can pineapple rings, juice reserved
1.5 tablespoons soy sauce or wheat-free tamari
1 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/8 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 whole wheat wheat thins, toasted
Green lettuce

Using a small spoon, delicately scoop out and discard the dark brown gills from the underside of each mushroom. Wipe mushrooms gently with a moist paper towel to remove any remaining debris then transfer to a wide, shallow baking dish along with the pineapple rings. Put 3/4 cup of the reserved pineapple juice, soy sauce, sugar, garlic in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. In a small bowl, stir together water and cornstarch then whisk into marinade and boil until thickened, about 1 minute more; set aside. Meanwhile, get a grill pan nice and hot.  Once hot (put your hand over it and see if it feels hot), spray non-stick cooking spray and grill the mushrooms and pineapple, gently flipping until until hot throughout and tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to buns, top with lettuce and serve with teriyaki sauce.
I served this meal with Sauteed Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Fries.  Love extra veggie meals! And that's all!  Tonight I am really excited to make Pepperoni Pizza Polenta Bake.  YUM!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Speed Tuesdays! Yay!

This morning was Speed Tuesday.  I am still pretty sore from my long run Sunday and my upper body is pretty sore from my workout yesterday.  I did the Upper Body portion of the workouts on Meghann's site.  It was intense!  Okay on to today's workout: 9X400 with 400 rest.  But I decided I might as well do 10!
1 mile warmup 6.0MPH, 1.0 Incline (for everything)
400: 1:50
400 Rest
400: 1:46
400 Rest
400: 1:45
400 Rest
400: 1:43
400 Rest
400: 1:41
400 Rest
400: 1:39
400 Rest
400: 1:38
400 Rest
400: 1:37
400 Rest
400: 1:32!!!
400 Rest
400: 1:29!!! YAY!
The rest was spent walk/jogging, writing down my stats and drinking water. 

I felt okay on this run.  Not easy, not impossible.  The last 400 I ran at 10.0 (6min pace) and I could feel my tummy starting to cramp up but as soon as I stopped I felt fine. Plus, I weighed myself when I got into work and I'm down another pound!  Our Biggest Loser competition ends on April 1st and I want to lose about 3 more pounds to be around my goal weight.  My goal was really to get back in shape and I think I've done that. Speaking of that, I signed up for this race this weekend! A 20 Mile Race that starts in Kittery Maine and ends in Salisbury, MA!  This is also my first 20 miler so I'm excited to see how I feel as I get into the core of my training.  After this race, I have an 18 miler planned next weekend and another 20 planned April 10th.  

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Long Run Sunday

What a beautiful weekend!  I hope everyone got to spend it outside!  I stayed at my brothers last night so we could wake up and run this morning.  On the plan was 18 miles.  We were getting ready to go and we contemplated bringing my hand-held water bottle.  We decided we didn't want to carry it for the entire time so Mike said to me, "will you bring a couple bucks so we can stop and get water."  I heard him say this but didn't actually do anything.  We grabbed our sports beans and i took the band from my water bottle (so I could put the store-bought water in it) and off we went.  The run was going quite smooth until about  2 miles in, Mike asked if I grabbed cash.  The answer was no and panic started to form.  Running 10 miles with no water, fine.  Running 18, no way.  We were in Brighton Center and I have a few friends who live in the area so we decided to ring their doorbells.  Problem was it was 8am on a Sunday morning and no one was answering.  Once we realized we had no water bottle to refill and no cash to buy water, we could have turned back to Mike's and get the cash or water but decided against it.  Instead we thought about where we could stop.  I knew Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks will give free tap water (Honey Dew charges- RIDIC) so we just decided to carry on just hoping we'd be able to carry the water once we got it.  Our first stop was 7.5 miles in at the Starbucks on Memorial Drive.  We got the water no problem, and I plugged the water into my hand-held band.  Lets just say we looked absolutely ridiculous carrying this plastic container with a straw while running but it did the trick.  We threw out the water at mile 11 and almost immediately, I wanted more.  We were running on the Charles and it was too bad all the water fountains are closed until May 1st!  We kept trudging along and even with all these setbacks, we were still maintaining a 9:15 pace.  At Mile 13, we stopped at Dunkin' Donuts in Kenmore and got more water and carried this almost until the end.  At Mile 15.5, we were passing Mike's street and Mike decided that was enough running for him.  I carried on, ONLY because I told my blog followers (whoever you are...) that I was going to run 18.  I ended up running 17.  And honestly, I'm just happy to get through it.  It was easy the last two weeks, but this time, I never felt great.  I didn't feel bad physically, it was really a mental thing especially realizing at mile 2 that there were no guarantees for water!  But the one great thing is I felt no pain! 
 17.03 Miles 2:37:54 Minutes Avg Pace: 9:16
Mile 1 : 8:57
Mile 2: 9:04
Mile 3: 9:03
Mile 4: 9:09
Mile 5: 9:10
Mile 6: 9:25
Mile 7: 9:19
Mile 8: 9:06
Mile 9: 9:14
Mile 10: 9:23
Mile 11: 9:21
Mile 12: 9:12
Mile 13: 9:02 (1:59:24 half)
Mile 14: 9:09
Mile 15: 9:20
Mile 16: 9:26
Mile: 17: 10:18 (dying)
I was pretty happy with this!  After the run Mike and I checked out some Open Houses then got some lunch where Courtney (my bff) met up with us!  We went to Athans in Washington Square.  Who knew they had lunch food as well as desserts!  Court and I hung out for awhile and then I went to Whole Foods for my weekly grocery shopping.   
Here is the Weekly Menu:
Sunday: Chicken, Roasted Butternut Squash and Feta Lasagna
Monday: Chicken, Mushroom, Pea & Stuffing Casserole
Tuesday: Root Vegetable Gratin/Quinoa Loaf or Mediterranean Fish Stew
Wednesday: Portobello and Pineapple Veggie Burgers
Thursday: Pizza Polenta Bake
And on to tonight's amazing meal! I made Chicken, Roasted Butternut Squash and Feta Lasagna.  I saw this recipe on Closet Cooking.  No idea how I found this guy, but check him out, he has AMAZing recipes!
Chicken Roasted Butternut Squash and Feta Lasagna
2 cups butternut squash (peeled and cut into bite sized pieces)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion (diced)
1 cup of button mushrooms
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1/2 cup white wine
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon oregano
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups diced chicken thighs
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 cups skim milk
1 cup cream
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup Mexican blend cheese (grated)
1/2 pound lasagna noodles (cooked)
1 cup feta (crumbled)
1/2 cup mozzarella
Toss the butternut squash in the oil along with the salt and pepper to coat. Arrange the butternut squash in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast in a preheated 400F oven until tender, about 20-30 minutes and set aside. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the onions and mushrooms and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine, tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, chicken pieces, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce starts to thicken, about 15-20 minutes. Heat the butter in a saucepan until it is nice and bubbling and it has turned a light golden brown. Mix in the flour and let simmer until it returns to a light golden brown. Mix in the milk and cream, nutmeg and cheese and heat until it thickens. Lightly grease the bottom of lasagna pan. Place a layer of noodles followed by 1/2 of the tomato sauce followed by 1/2 of the feta followed by 1/2 of the butternut squash followed by 1/3 of the bechamel sauce. Repeat a second layer in the same fashion and top with a final layer of noodles, the remaining bechamel sauce and top with the mozzarella. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the top is golden brown and the sides are bubbling, about 30-45 minutes.
This had such amazing flavor!  And I am loving making bechemel sauces and think I'm getting pretty good at it!
On the side, I made Kale Chips.  I talked about Kale Chips with my friends last night and since most of them haven't seen Kale before, I decided to take pictures of every step.  This is what Kale looks like:  Curly Kale that is...
First, you rip the Kale off the core like this:
 Then you spread the Kale across a baking sheet in an even layer. Then you add a tablespoon or so of Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, and Red Pepper Flakes.
Then bake in a hot oven until crispy but not burnt.  I would say 350 for 10 minutes.  I love Kaleeeee Chips- now go make them for yourself!

And now my tired legs and I are going to bed.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cheesy Dinners

The last couple nights I made a lot of cheesy meals....what can I say, I love cheese!
Last night I made two delicious meals!  The first was inspired by Whole Foods.  Did you know you can find tons of recipes on their website??
Kale,  Swiss Chard, Mushroom and Tomatoes over Polenta
1/2 pound sliced portobella mushrooms
Salt and pepper
15 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 bunch kale (about 3/4 pound), stemmed and roughly chopped

1/2 bunch of swiss chard
1 (18-ounce) roll precooked polenta, cut into 8 rounds
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional) 

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in kale, swiss chard and 1/4 cup water, cover, reduce heat to medium low and cook until greens begins to wilt, about 2 minutes. Toss well, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes more. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Arrange polenta in skillet in a single layer (working in batches, if needed) and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides, 5 to 6 minutes total.
Arrange polenta on plates, spoon greens and mushroom mixture over the top, garnish with cheese and serve. 

Dave LOVED this dish and so did I!  This is my first time eating polenta and I loved it.  Dave called it a sponge for flavor. And with the oil-paced sun-dried tomatoes, kale and mushrooms- it had a ton of flavor!
I also made a recipe I saw on Confections of a Foodie Bride
Creamy Orzo with Chicken and Goat Cheese
1 lb orzo
2 chicken breasts cooked, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
6oz log chevre, broken up and crumbled with two forks
Juice from half a lemon (~2 tsp)
4 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup water
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Add orzo, chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, chevre, and lemon juice to a 2.5-3qt baking dish. Bring chicken broth, water, 1 Tbsp butter, salt, and pepper to a boil. Pour into the baking dish, stirring slightly to mix. Bake for 30 minutes. 
 I thought this meal was okay.  I didn't love it, I didn't hate it.  It tasted better for lunch today when I mixed it with the Kale and Swiss Chard mixture.  I love leftovers- especially the next day for lunch.  Speaking of that, I have this new tupperware that I use almost everyday for lunch that I think is the perfect serving size.  Check out my lunch!
Mixture of deliciousness.  Love leftovers.
Tonight we ate leftover orzo and leftover Polenta along with these two cheesy delights I made: Brussels Sprout Gratin with Apple Chicken Sausage & Cheesy Kale/Swiss Chard.  For the gratin, I made a bechamel sauce and had some leftover so I added Kale and Swiss Chard to it along with some pepporoncini's and added that over the leftover Polenta.  The Rainbow Swiss Chard started to turn my Bechemel Sauce red though!
 Brussel Sprout Gratin (inspired by here)
2 pounds brussels sprouts (trimmed, cut in half, core removed)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup cream
salt and pepper to taste
2 chicken sausage apple links, diced
1/4 cup fontina (grated)
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese (grated)
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese (grated)
Steam brussels sprouts in bag and microwave until just tender and set aside. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Mix in the flour and let simmer until it just starts to brown a little. Mix in the milk, cream, salt and pepper and cheeses and heat until it thickens. Mix brussels sprouts and sausage into the bechamel sauce and pour into a baking dish. Mix the bread crumbs and cheeses and sprinkle on top of the brussels sprouts. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until it is bubbling on the sides and golden brown on top, about 15-20 minutes.
Workouts Update: I ran yesterday outside with my friend Kimmy during lunch.  4 miles at 8:50 pace.  Today I took off from working out.  Not on purpose- but I just coudn't get out of bed!  Tomorrow morning I am hoping to run 7-8 miles.  Saturday I am taking off and Sunday I am running with my brother for 18 MILES!
Edited to Add:  Just ran 4 of the hardest miles of my life this morning (Friday) on the treadmill.  My legs were heavy, my stomach hurt and I felt slow.  Maybe I will run a bit tomorrow outside but maybe I will just wait for Long-Run Sunday.  You ready Mikey?

Happy Good Weather Weekend!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Speeed Tuesdays

Today I ran a 6 mile Tempo Run.  Pretty similar to what I did Thursday.  15 minutes of easy running (6.5MPH at 1.0 incline on the treadmill) then 5 minutes hard (7.5MPH at 1.0 incline), 5 minutes easy (6.0 MPH at 1.0 incline) and then repeating 4 times  Felt great! 
 Last night for dinner I made two dinners inspired by Food & Wine.   What I started first was 
Sweet Potato, Chipotle and Apple Soup  (orginal recipe)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus 1 cup for frying
1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 Gala apples—peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 celery rib, thinly sliced crosswise
4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
3/4 of a quart chicken stock or low-sodium broth
2 cups water
1/2 a canned chipotle in adobo sauce, seeded and minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
In a medium soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion, garlic and cook over low heat, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the apples and celery and cook for 5 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and water and bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer over low heat until the fruit and vegetables are very tender, about 45 minutes. Stir in the chipotle. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and return to the pot.
I also made Shrimp Enchiladas with the soup.  This was also inspired by Food & Wine.
Cooking Spray
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
8 6-inch  low- carb flour tortillas
1 2/3 cups drained and rinsed black beans (one 15-ounce can)
1/4 pound Mexican blend cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
2 cups chunky peach salsa 
Cover a baking sheet with paper towels. In a large heavy frying pan, spray cooking spray over moderately high heat. Sprinkle the shrimp with the salt and pepper. Put the shrimp in the pan and cook, stirring, until just done, about 4 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan. In the frying pan, spray more cooking spray over moderately high heat.  Lay the tortillas on a work surface. Cover half of each with the beans. Top with the cheese and then the shrimp and add the salsa. Fold the tortillas in half and spray cooking spray on hot skillet.  Add the enchiladas to the pan and brown then flip. Serve with soup.
I wish this photo looks better but these kinda fell apart. Hey at least they tasted good
Tonight I made 
Pita Pockets with Chicken, Lentils and Hummus
1 cup cooked lentils
1/2 onion, chopped
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup cooked coarse bulgar wheat
1 1/2 teaspoons Sirachi
1 cup of chicken broth
8 pitas
1 chicken breasts, diced
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 head romaine lettuce, shredded
1/2 cup of store-bought garlic hummus
Heat the oven to 350°. In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils, onion, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the chicken broth. Simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes. Stir in the cooked bulgar and continue cooking, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until the lentils and bulgar are heated through. Remove from the heat, stir in the Sricha sauce, and let sit, partially covered, for 5 minutes.  Dice chicken breast and cook over medium high heat until cooked through. Wrap the pitas in aluminum foil and warm them in the oven, about 10 minutes. Cut the top third off of each pita. Spoon 1/4 cup of the lentil mixture into each pita. Divide half the chicken and tomatoes among the pitas and to with hummus. Top with half the lettuce. Repeat. Serve with the remaining hummus. 
 So in general, I wish these photos looked better.  But it was tasty.  I am now on the couch with hot chocolate and fluff. Mmmmm.  Night!