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!


  1. Love the sound of the salmon wrapped in chard! I'm on such a salmon kick - I made two really big filets for my Seder and have been enjoying the leftovers on salad for lunch and I'm not sick of it yet :)

  2. Hi Liz! Thanks for commenting on my blog-- it's amazing how many paths cross like that without us realizing it. gosh that was a tough race! and your first 20-miler, too!! that was me last year (ran it last year and had never run 20 miles before). it's definitely fun and an experience... but tough for sure. this year the wind was something else!!! :) and great job on your speed work, too .