Friday, April 30, 2010


I choose running long before it chose me.  As a child, I played every sport known to man.  But want to know what I was always best at?  Sprinting down the field (most likely without the ball).  When I got to the end of Middle School, we had a track meet vs the other middle school at the High School.  I knew I was fast, but finally a chance to prove I was fast.  My older brother was already a star on the High School team so the High School coaches were looking out for me.  Sure enough, I didn't disappoint winning both the 100 meters and anchoring the winning 4x100 team.  Fast forward 15 years and I went from 100 meters to embarking on my first marathon.

And in those 15 years, running has been my best friend and my enemy. I've run to win, run to finish, run with teammates, run with friends, run through heartbreak, run through conflict, run through love, run with hundreds of people on the treadmill on the track through many states and cities.  I choose to torture myself in the cold and in the heat, through pain and injuries.  I chose this sport. And I love it.
I'm scared to death about Sunday.  I'm scared about my sore throat. My achilles.  The weather. The heat. The course. My stomach.  More than anything I want to finish.  More than anything I want to finish and not be disappointed.

In those 15 years I just fast-forwarded through, I joined my High Schools Indoor and Outdoor Track Teams.  I ran 55 meters, 100 meters, 200 meters, 300 meters, 300 hurdles, 400 meters, 600 meters, 800 meters and even the 1000 meters once or twice.  But distance events? No way.  I was mainly a sprinter and the time I finished in and place I got was always important to me.  I placed in just about every race I ran in High School and when I didn't, I would beg my coach to put me in another, either a relay or something else.  I always needed to place to feel like a "Runner."  But the truth was, I wasn't a great runner.  Put it this way, no college coach was knocking down my door to recruit me.  But I was a reliable and versatile runner and I would do just about anything for my team.  Run the 4x100 back to back with the 400 meters. No problem.  Need me to place second in the 800 to win the meet, you got it.  My races were under 3 minutes of running.  Always.  And now here we are.  About to run 4 hours plus.

Running a marathon was never on my To-Do List.  I was a sprinter, right?  But somewhere in between 5K and half marathon, I decided why not?  Life gets busy and you need something to give you structure and a release and running did all that for me and more.  And pretty quickly, running 1 hour became 2 became 3 and on Sunday it will be 4+.

I trained for this. I AM READY.  I ran 12 runs over 10 Miles.  I ran 11, 13, 10, 13.1, 15, 15, 17, 20, 14, 20 and 16.50.  I'm ready and I will rock this.  Here we go.....

"The body does not want you to do this. As you run, it tells you to stop but the mind must be strong. You always go too far for your body. You must handle the pain with strategy...It is not age; it is not diet. It is the will to succeed."
- Jacqueline Gareau, 1980 Boston Marathon champ

"We are different, in essence, from other men. If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon."
-Emil Zatopek

“Life’s battles don't always go to the strongest or fastest man,
But sooner or later the man who wins is the fellow who thinks he can.”

“Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

"Real athletes run others just play games"

"Pain is only temporary,
Pride is forever"

"In running, it doesn't matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, 'I have finished.' There is a lot of satisfaction in that."
-Fred Lebow, New York City Marathon co-founder  

"Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it's all about."
-PattiSue Plumer, U.S. Olympian    

Sunday May 2nd, I will become a marathoner! 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Food and more Food....

Last week, no idea when, I made Chicken Tostada's.  Basically all I did was crisp up some low-carb wheat wraps with Mexican blend cheese than sauteed some chicken thighs with salt, pepper and chili powder.  After the wraps were crisp, I added the chicken, some diced tomatoes, shredded cabbage and avocado. Yum!
 I also roasted lots of veggies- asparagus, sweet potato, tomatoes, and summer squash.

Also sometime last week, I made one of my more random recipes.  I wanted to do a healthy take on Rice and Beans.  How could I make that dish healthier but also still ridiculously tasty?  How about replacing the rice with Bulger Wheat and smashing these beans into the dish.  Remember this pretty recipe?  Well, it tasted good and sometimes that more important than looks.  I surrounded this dish with kale chips.  I also decided to poach an egg on top.

Big fan of poaching.  Mmmmm....

So yes, that dish was extremely random and not exactly pretty. But the flavor was unreal!
I recreated an unpretty dish last week and tried to make mine look as good as Annie's did.  I made her Chicken Tortilla Casserole again and this time it looked and tasted better than the first.  What can be bad about adding tortilla chips into your dinner? I changed this recipe up a bit by adding a can of tomatoes with chilis and black beans...
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 can of diced tomatoes with green chilis

1 can of black beans
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, and ¼ teaspoon of salt.  Add in tomatoes and drained black beans.   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.  

 On Saturday I ran with the Wellesley group and we did 8.5 miles.  Nancy and I really pushed it the final 2 miles.  After I got home, I planned my weekly menu and went grocery shopping.  Dave had voiced that he missed meat so I made the menu with meat in every dish.  
Weekly Menu for 4/24
Saturday: London Broil with Cauliflower Mash and Sauteed Swiss Chard
Sunday: Southern Comfort Meal: Chicken & Peaches and Corn Cakes with Goat Cheese
Monday: White Bean Chicken Chili (Revamped)
Tuesday: Turkey and Black Bean Burgers with Kale Chips
Wednesday: Chicken Thighs with Leeks and Shitakes
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Pizza Night!
 After I shopped, I met up with BFF Courtney to exchange Bday gifts.  She got me an AMAZING gift! Here is the packaging... when she handed it to me I was intrigued...
 And inside...
 Court loaded up her Shuffle with amazing running music for me to use during my marathon!! She also got me some fuel for the race... and that envelope is a gift certificate for a massage... something I am sure I will need after the race!  Thanks Court, amazing gift!

On to weekend eats.  This is becoming a rather long post... you still with me?
Saturday I made a restaurant quality meal: London Broil with Smashed Cauliflower and Rainbow Swiss Chard inspired by everyone's favorite (not) Rachael Ray.
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
3 cups chicken stock
4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 cup shredded mix of mozzarella and gruyere
Coarse black pepper and salt
1 1/2 pounds shoulder London broil steak, 1 1/2 inches thick
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
6 cups chopped rainbow swiss chard, 1 large bundle
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, eyeball it
1 tablespoon honey
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.
Turn broiler on. Brush meat with Worcestershire (I also used A1 sauce) and season with salt and pepper. Cook London broil on top rack for 6 minutes on each side, for medium rare to medium doneness. (I finished it in a hot skillet for crispy skin)
While steak and cauliflower cook, heat a second large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil, 2 turns of the pan, and add chard and wilt the greens into the pan then season with salt, pepper and a dash of nutmeg, optional. Cook 5 to 7 minutes more, turning frequently with tongs then add vinegar to the pan and a drizzle of honey. Turn to coat the greens, adjust seasoning and transfer to a serving dish.
Remove meat from broiler and let it rest 5 minutes.
Very thinly slice the meat on an angle against the grain (the lines in the meat). The degree to which you can slice thinly slice the meat will determine how tender it is to cut and chew, so make sure the carving knife is sharp – the thinner the better!

This felt like a delicious special occasion dinner.  The only thing that could make this better was getting ice cream at our local ice cream shop after : ) The only thing that could make it worse was the fact that I woke up with a horrible sore throat the next morning. Let's get healthy by the weekend!!!!!
Sunday was a busy day with a baby shower 45 minutes away.  By the time I got home, I got going on dinner.  I made another Rachael recipe (who am I?).  I saw her make Chicken and Peaches on TV and thought it sounded interesting...
Chicken & Peaches
2 tablespoons butter
4 peaches, pitted, thickly sliced or halved
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 shallot, chopped
3/4 cup chicken stock
2/3 cup peach preserves
2 teaspoons hot sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestorshire sauce
Heat a medium skillet with the butter over medium heat. Add the peaches and the juice of 1/2 lemon, and cook until tender and lightly golden, 10 minutes. Turn off the heat. While the peaches cook, heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, a turn of the pan, in a large skillet over medium-high to high heat. Cut the chicken breasts in half across the center of each breast to make 4 equal portions. Add the chicken breasts to the pan and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 12 minutes, then remove to a plate and cover with foil. Drizzle the pan with the remaining extra-virgin olive oil, half a turn of the pan. Add the chopped shallot, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the stock, the preserves, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce and season with black pepper, to taste. Cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes to thicken. Arrange the chicken and peaches on a platter and douse with peach sauce.

On the side, I made Corn Cakes with Goat Cheese.  I wrote this down last week as a recipe I wanted to try making, however, I never wrote down where I saw it.  So I did a google search and settled on this recipe from Epicurious.
2 thick bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons (about) vegetable oil
1 10-ounce package frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup cream
1 large egg
5 ounces soft fresh goat cheese (such as Montrachet), crumbled
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels and drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings from skillet. Add 1 tablespoon oil to drippings in skillet. Add corn and onion; sauté over medium heat until onion is golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Combine cream, egg and 1/4 cup goat cheese in large bowl; whisk to blend. Add cornmeal, baking powder, salt, baking soda and cayenne and mix well. Stir in corn mixture. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, drop batter by generous tablespoonfuls into skillet. Cook until bottom of each corn cake is brown, about 1 minute. Turn corn cakes and cook until second side is brown, about 1 minute. Transfer to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil to skillet as needed.
 And my dish...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Uh oh....

Woke up Sunday morning with a really bad sore throat. It's still there and hurts, a lot.  Running is hard enough without being sick or having injuries.  Keep me in your thoughts that this little whatever is long gone come Sunday.

I have a lot of posting to do on recipes I've cooked and a couple of workouts, but I'm going to conserve all extra energy for Sunday....

please please please sore throat go away... you can come back all you want after May 2nd.a

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Crunch Time

1 Week, two days until the Providence Marathon.  My stomach just started to hurt as I'm typing this.  I'm NERVOUS! But here is what I am going to do.  Run to finish.  Think of it as just another training run.  My goal in this race is to finish and not only finish, but finish with a smile on my face.

So on Tuesday I did the eliptical and stretched a lot.  Yesterday I went to Physcial Therapy.  In case you care, I go to Kennedy Brothers in Downtown Crossing and see Jake Kennedy.  The man is a machine.  I feel like I've already improved so much and I know by going to him I will continue to get healthier and hopefully faster! If you read his bio, it says he's run over 40 marathons including Boston for the last 26 years.  This man knows it all. I asked him what my plan should be for the rest of the week and he told me: "Run 8 miles Thursday fast like faster then marathon pace and then come in Friday (to PT) and run 6 miles Saturday also fast."  He continued to say that if I run at :30seconds to a minute faster than race pace on these runs, come next Sunday, marathon pace will feel easy for say the first 17 miles.  It won't feel like I'm killing myself trying to get through it.  So this morning I did what he said: 8 miles at faster than marathon pace.  The only problem is figuring out what marathon pace is.  My long runs have all been about 9:15-10 minute pace. So I set my goal to run under 9 minutes for this run. To not see one mile above 9 minutes. And I know that sounds slow.  Hell, a year ago, if I ran over 9 minute pace I would think there was something wrong with me.  But running 5 miles and running 15+ is a lot different and somehow in this marathon training, I've become much slower. Which is fine because my goal is to FINISH and that's it. 

First though, it took forever for me to get the satellite on my Garmin.  I decided to run outside in the city and it was hell for it to pick up.  I prob ran at least a .50 mile while waiting and then decided to stop and just wait for it to load.  So below just includes what Mrs. Garmin actually documented : )
So here are my stats:
8.25 miles 1:11:54 8:44 pace
Mile 1: 8:36 
(Feeling okay, forgetting how hard it is to run under 9 minute pace)
Mile 2: 8:52 
(Thinking this sucks... maybe I should do the 6 mile run today...trying to enjoy the Charles on Storrow and not think about running...)
Mile 3: 8:47
(getting sorta easier)
Mile 4: 8:43
(about to cross the Brighton bridge to Memorial Drive, feeling better, it usually takes me four miles to warmup)
Mile 5: 8:44
(in my groove, telling myself only a 5K left, how many times have I run 3 miles!)
Mile 6: 8:36
(feeling real good)
Mile 7: 8:34
(starting to really push it)
Mile 8: 8:59
(ran like entirely up Beacon Hill and lots of traffic + autopause turned off on my watch)
Mile .25: 8:43pace

Overall, I was psyched with this run.  And even more excited for next weekend.  Okay, maybe excited isn't exactly the right word... 

I've cooked some things here and there this week but will post about those recipes another time!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Marathon Monday!!

Last night my family went to my mothers house for an early celebration of my birthday (did I mention my birthday is tomorrow?).  My mom made an amazing dinner starting with Leek & Red Pepper Soup. 
For the main dish, she made my favorite- Stuffed Sole. 
I also made more Zuchinni Noodles.  See my yummy plate!
 The most fun part of the night was having my first cousin's baby come over to celebrate.  
She is just starting to walk and is sooo adorable!  I love spending time with Michele (my cuz) and Baby Zoe!

Michele's birthday is Wednesday so we were able to celebrate together.  The hubs got me my signature Cookie Cake!  I love Cookie Cake!
 I stayed at my brothers house last night so we could wake up and run early before the Marathon started.  Mike and I have been running on the course before the race starts the last couple years.  Last year we ran in Natick and this year we ran from Brookline to Newton to Chestnut Hill to Brighton and back to Brookline.  If your familiar with these areas and know the course, this means we ran the insane hills in Newton.  I would definitely have to say the worst hill is the definitely the first.  Its like 3 quarters of a mile long.  Heartbreak is steep, but short.  It was fun running on the course way before any other runners and it was nice seeing everyone set up (water stations etc.)  I finally was able to turn off the Auto-Pause so these stats include any stopping.  We stopped three times and the mile paces will reflect that.
16.50 Miles 2:38:51 9:38 pace
Mile 1: 8:45
Mile 2: 9:25
Mile 3: 9:15
Mile 4: 9:09
Mile 5: 10:07 
(trying to get gum out)
Mile 6: 9:49 
(running on trails- I always run slower on trails cuz I'm afraid I'm going to trip)
Mile 7: 9:16
Mile 8: 9:18
Mile 9: 9:13
Mile 10: 9:36
Mile 11: 10:39 
(stopped to buy water at a concession stand in between Newton Hills)
Mile 12: 9:18
Mile 13: 10:10 
Mile 14: 10:52 
(Stopped to refill water bottle at Dunkin' Donuts)
Mile 15: 9:26
Mile 16: 9:40
Mile .50: 9:46
No pain to report in my achilles.  The only thing that hurts is my back. We made it back in just enough to get ready so we could go out an watch the race.  Here is Mikey (my bro) preparing for the leaders!
Men's Leaders:
I took a ton of pictures and had a really great day.  It was perfect running weather!  I think I'm feeling more ready for my race in two weeks.  I seriously love the Boston Marathon and it totally motivated me.  I think I've missed it twice in my life and I just love seeing so many amazing runners! Congrats everyone who ran!!!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Whole lot of Nothing

This weekend has been pretty relaxing.  I've had a pretty calm and uneventful weekend.  I was going to do my long run on Saturday but it was supposed to rain so I pushed it back to today.  Unfortunately, I slept horribly last night (literally woke up every hour) so I decided to push back again.  Tomorrow is the Boston Marathon and my brother and I planned on running tomorrow anyway (we always run on the marathon route before the race starts each year), so now I will just do my long run tomorrow.  16-18 miles on the agenda.  
Backtrack to the week in workouts: Tuesday I had a great speed workout.  Wednesday I did the Big Step and Thursday I tried to go for a nice leisurely run.  I had pain in my heel on my right side and just overall wasn't in the mood.  Ran 4 miles.  For the rest of the day, I kept getting muscle cramps on my left achilles.  I started getting real nervous.  Went into Physical Therapy Friday night and my Physical Therapist didn't think there was anything too serious.  He told me to wait until Sunday to run.  Last night I couldn't sleep because I think I'm really nervous about this marathon.  My two 20 milers were really really hard.  I'm scared I'm going to finish in like 5 and a half hours.  I know I need to not worry about my time, but track was a huge part of my life and its hard for me to just forget about my pace/time.  The plan for the marathon is to go out and run the first 6 miles with Dave then run 15-17 with Mike and have Dave help me get through the end.  The course isn't closed off and is on a lot of main roads so Mike and Dave will switch off riding there bike and my mom will follow me in the car.  I am really excited to just say I've run a marathon and I'm looking forward to that!

Alright moving on to more exciting things... like food!  Last night I made this recipe I found while checking out the Trader Joe's Website: Spinach Quinoa Quiche.
2 Cups Quinoa, cooked (1/2 cup uncooked white, 1/2 cup uncooked red)
3 TBSP Basil Pesto (I made my own 2 cups basil/argula, 1/2 cup pine nuts, salt, pepper, 1/2 cup parm, EVOO)
1 C Gruyere, grated
1/2 Cup Trader Joe's Spinach Dip
4 Eggs, beaten
1/2 Cup milk
1/4 Cup Roasted Red Peppers
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a small bowl add the 2 cups of cooked Quinoa, 1/2 cup of Gruyere, grated and 3 TBSP of Basil Pesto. Mix well and press into the bottom and along the sides of a 9" pie plate to form a "crust". 

Place in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes to set the crust. Remove and set aside. In a small bowl add the 4 beaten eggs, 1/2 cup of milk , 1/2 cup of Spinach Dip, 1/4 Cup of the Fire Roasted Red Peppers, drained, and Salt and Pepper to taste. Mix all ingredients well and pour into the prepared crust. 
Place the Quiche into the 350 degree oven for 45 minutes, then add the remaining 1/2 Cup of grated Cave Aged Gruyere Cheese to top of Quiche and return to oven for another 20 minutes. Place a a knife into center of Quiche, then remove it . If the knife is clean the Quiche is done ! Let it sit for 10 minutes before cutting it into slices.

I thought this was a really interesting new twist on a quiche.  Who needs the fatty pie crust or puff pastry when you can use quinoa!! My favorite grain of all time!!! I served two pieces of the pie with roasted brocolli and an arugula salad.  Perfect dinner!
We are getting ready to leave for my birthday dinner at my mothers (my birthday is Tuesday).  My mom made my favorite dishes- Leek Soup and Stuffed Sole!  Plus Dave searched around and got me a Cookie Cake!  I've had a cookie cake pretty much every year for my birthday for as long as I can remember.  Can't wait!  Sleeping at my brothers tonight, long-run first thing in the AM, then watching Marathon Monday! Good Luck runners!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Meet my new (borrowed) friend: The Spiralizer.  Gretchen let me borrow this and at first it was VERY annoying but once we got spiralizing, it was totally worth it.  And by "We" I mean Dave.  Now usually I don't like Dave to help me with dinner, but I tried this thing out last nite and had very little success getting it to work.  My hubs is a "I can fix anything," "I can figure out anything type of guy" so I thought he would have no problem.  Unfortunately at 7:45pm being hungry and tired, this was the last thing he wanted to do.  He tried to give up, but I made him keep going, knowing eventually these zucchini's were going to turn into noodles.  I just knew it was going to work.  10 minutes later and three zucchini down, we had noodles and I was able to make  
Zucchini Pesto Noodles with Shrimp and Goat Cheese from Cara's Cravings.

1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves minced garlic
1lb precooked shrimp, from Trader Joe's (deveined and tails off)
freshly ground salt & pepper
14oz can diced tomatoes
pinch of crushed red pepper
3 medium zuchinni's, spiralized (did I make up that word?)
3 oz goat cheese

Home-made Pesto (2 handfuls of basil and argula mix, 1/8 cup of pine nuts, 1/8 cup of parm cheese, 1/4 cup of EVOO)
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onions and saute for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the shrimp and garlic. Cook the shrimp for about 1 minute on each side, until just warmed and cooked through. Remove the shrimp from the pan. Add the tomatoes, crushed red pepper, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and saute over medium heat until slightly softened, about 3 minutes, then add the shrimp and heat through, about 1-2 minutes more then mix through the pesto. Serve with crumbled goat cheese.

I still can't get over HOW GOOD this dish was.  I know I say a lot of dishes are good, but this was nice and light and filling at the same time.  I did go back for seconds and maybe even thirds but I was still able to put a scoop aside for lunch tomorrow.  Already can't wait to eat it again! Make this people!  And thank Cara for another awesome recipe!

Backtrack to workouts.  Monday I went to Physical Therapy.  Tuesday I did a speed workout on the treadmill.  I was going to do 400s but decided I wanted to do something longer so I did the 1600 1200 800 400 400 workout. 
1.40 Mile Warmup (switched treadmills at the .40 mark since my favorite opened up next to me - I know I'm crazy)
1600: 7:26
1200: 5:40
800: 3:35
400: 1:34
400: 1:35
.60 Cooldown
6 Miles 56 Minutes
Incline of 1.0, Warmup and Cooldown at 6.0MPH, Walk/Jog 3.0-5.5 quarter mile in between each.

Today I did 30 minutes on the BIG Step and 15 on the Arc Trainer.  Both are machines I don't normally use.  Both kicked my butt!

Top Chef, nite!

*Sidenote- my friend Anne, after years of blog-stalking, has finally started her own blog!  Anne is hysterical so please click her name and check it out!

Monday, April 12, 2010

65th Bday, Steak Two Ways

Saturday was my father-in-laws 65th Birthday Party.  We celebrated at Jimmy's Steer House.  This place had AMAZING food. Up above is the birthday boy and the family and then myself and my sis Natalia.  For dinner, I ordered the teriyaki steak tips and the crabmeat pie.  It also came with Sweet Potato fries.  I only ate about two pieces of the steak and saved the rest for another meal (see below).
Cheers to the birthday boy! My hubby, Dave (standing), gave an amazing speech!
Sunday was spent resting and cooking.  I decided to make Butternut Squash Lasagna to bring to our friends Kerry and Jonathan's house for Sunday dinner.  They just moved into a new house and I wanted to give them a house-warming dinner.  Here's a step by step of how to make this meal!
Layer One: No-Boil Lasagna Noodles:
Layer Two: Two Cans of Diced Tomatoes, Swiss Chard, Onions, 1/2 Cup of Wine simmered together for 20 minutes
Layer 3: Feta Cheese
Layer 4: Roasted Butternut Squash Cut into pieces
Layer 5: Bechemel Sauce (4 Tablespoons of butter, melted in hot pan then whisk in flour, 1 cup of skim milk, 1 cup of cream, and 1 cup of cheddar cheese- whisk together until smooth and creamy, add salt and pepper to taste)
Then repeat and the final layer should be noodles, bechemel sauce and more cheese.  Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.  
Tonight I made Cheese-steaks with the leftover steak from Saturday.
I basically just diced the steak, cooked portobello mushrooms and onions until soft, added cheddar cheese to the bread, added the steak and mushroom mixture and broiled it until the cheese melted.  I served the sub with a salad and kale chips (of course!) After a night of a veggie-filled meal on Sunday, I think we ate enough meat tonight to last weeks.  Speed workout in the AM, good night!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Windy 20 Miler...Again

Hello!  Yesterday morning, I woke up at 6am to get ready for my 20 Miler.  I secretly wanted to run 21+ but unfortunately, that did not happen.  My ankle was taped and I was ready to go.  I drove to my brother's apartment and ran the first 5 miles by myself.  I ran from his house to the BC Reservoir (see picture stolen from here below). The loop is a mile 1.5 long.
I love running around the reservoir and I wanted to run it three times before I met up with Mike.  However, the winds were INSANE.  On one half of the loop, I would be running 8:30 pace and on the other half I was up to 10 minutes.  I also had to pee really bad.  And I was negative.  Was my calf/ankle in too much pain?  Should I stop? Is my left calf hurting now?  
Miles 1-4
(8:55, 9:11, 9:19, 9:20)
After I ran to Dunkin' and used the bathroom, I was at 4.5 miles and my brother was planning to meet me in 8 minutes.  Knowing the reservoir was 1.5 miles, I knew I didn't have time to run another loop, so I just ran up and down Beacon until I found Mike!  Once we met up, I started to feel better and more positive.
Miles 5-8
(9:19, 9:16, 9:03, 9:34)
But Mike wasn't in the mood to run and we were both kinda questioning why we were out there.  Why couldn't I just be a walker? Ya know, why can't I just go walk the river without needing to run?  Those people look so happy.  The one thing I will say is that the river was beautiful and the Memorial Drive side going towards the city was against the wind.  But we could see just looking at the water that the wind was going to be INSANE on the other side.
Miles 9-12
(9:12, 9:27, 9:15, 9:20)
We stopped at Mile 10 at Starbucks to refill my water bottle.  Mile 12, I stopped to get some rocks out of my shoe.  
Mile 13-16
(9:07, 9:28, 9:26, 10:24)
Mile 13 I felt fine.  Mile 14, I felt okay.  Mile 15 is when we got on the other side of the river and wham!  Holy WIND!  I seriously wanted to die by mile 16.   I read that there were winds of 30mph!  Also around Mile 16, we decided to get off the river and run along Back Bay area on Beacon Street.  Things didn't go much better there either.
Mile 17-20
(10:13, 10:27, 10:34, 10:18)
Stopped at Mile 17 at another Dunkin' to fill water.  At mile 18, I told Mike to leave me.  I wanted to push through alone with my iPod.  I finished 20 FRIGIN miles and again it was hard.  I'm going to blame the wind. I ran 14 miles last week easily when there was no wind so I know I can do it.  Next week I am going to run 18, then 12, then race.  I have no goals for this race other than to finish.  I just want to FINALLY be able to say I've run one!  Even if I am SLOW.
I tried to turn off the autopause on my watch but I was unsuccessful.  So I finished in 3:11 + add 8 minutes of paused time.  Yep, slow.  But hey, I ran 20 miles!  For a 400 meter runner, that's not too bad.  Last night we had Dave's father's 65th birthday and I am going to post those pictures and food I just cooked tomorrow.  Happy Sunday everyone!

Friday, April 9, 2010

This Week in Food...

Monday night I made a combination of two Mac N Cheeses I saw on Annie-Eats: Shrimp, Feta Mac N Cheese and Mushroom Mac N Cheese. Here is my take.
Shrimp, Mushroom and Three Cheese Mac N Cheese
1 lb. pasta shapes, I used fusili
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
1 lb. cremini (baby bella mushrooms), roughly chopped
1 shallot, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 lb. raw shrimp (31-40 ct.), peeled and deveined, cut in half (if desired)
Zest of 1 lemon, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cups skim milk

1 cup half and half
6 oz. (1½ cups) shredded Gruyere cheese, divided
6 oz. (1½ cups) shredded white cheddar cheese, divided

1/4 cup of feta cheese
½ cup panko breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Grease a 9 x 13″ baking dish.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook the pasta according to the package directions, just until al dente.  Drain the pasta, return to the pot, and set aside. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat.  Add the chopped mushrooms and shallots to the pan and sauté until the mushrooms are tender and almost all of the liquid has evaporated from the pan, about 5-7 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and sauté about 1 minute more, just until fragrant.  Add chopped shrimp and saute for a few more minutes. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine a handful of the feta, a pinch of the lemon zest, the panko, 2 teaspoons of the parsley and 1 tablespoon of the butter, melted.  Toss with a fork to combine; set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat.  Once the butter is completely melted, whisk in the flour to form a paste.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until golden.  Whisk in the milk/cream and cook the mixture, stirring frequently, until the mixture simmers and begins to thicken.  Once the mixture has thickened, remove from the heat.  Whisk in the shredded Gruyere and cheddar cheeses until completely melted and smooth. Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked pasta.  Add the mushroom, shrimp and shallot mixture to the pot as well.  Toss well to thoroughly combine.  Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and feta cheese evenly over the pasta in the baking dish. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until browned and bubbly.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
I served this dish with Kale, obvi!

Next up, on Tuesday I made Spinach & Cheese Strata... this is from Annie-Eats.
Wednesday night I had planned on just eating leftover Strata and a salad but I saw in the fridge that I had some pre-cooked polenta (I keep it in the fridge so it's more firm when I go to slice it).  I also saw I still had some pepperoni and Mexican blend cheese left so I decided to make a Mexican Polenta Casserole.  This is definitely one of my more random creations.
Mexican Polenta Casserole
Precooked Polenta cut in 1/2 inch thick rounds
1 Can of Rotel Diced Tomatoes with Chilis
1/2 Bottle of Tomato Sauce (Classico)
1 Can of Black Beans
1 Cup of Mexican Blend Shredded Cheese
16 Pepporoni Slices
Add some cooking spray to a hot skillet and add the sliced polenta cooking for four minutes on each side.  Once done, move to a plate.  Add tomatoes and tomato sauce to the pan and add the black bean to hit through and blend together. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.  Layer the bottom with Polenta (about 8 slices). Then layer with the bean/tomato mixtures.  Sprinkle the cheese on top and layer with 8 pepperoni slices then repeat.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

This was FILLING.  It was fun to make a traditional Italian dish, Mexican!

Next up on Thursday night, I decided to make Fish Tacos with Taco Flavored Quinoa. 
I love LOVE fish tacos and I had some Cod to cook plus some whole wheat wraps left in the fridge. I used the technique Cara from Cara's Cravings told me about- putting the wraps on the grates in the oven until they shape into tacos!  Genius Cara, perfect way to make HEALTHY taco shells and not the pre-packaged gross ones!

Fish Tacos
1 pound of cod fillets, chopped into small pieces
1 Package El Paso Taco Seasoning Mix (or create your own)
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
Half Zuchinni, Diced
Half, Summer Squash, Diced
1 Cup frozen Sweet Corn
1/2 Cup of frozen okra
1/2 Red Pepper Diced
1 Cup of Romaine Lettuce
1/4 Cup of Mayonnaise
1 Chipotle in Adobo Sauce, Diced small
4 Whole Wheat Wraps (I used Josephs Low Carb) (I made them into taco shells by putting on grates in oven and cooking for 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven)
Marinate Fish, 1/2 Taco Seasoning and Lemon Juice together for 15 minutes.  Heat oven to 350.  Heat large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add fish and saute for 8 minutes until cooked through.  Remove from heat.  Add the corn, okra, zuchinni, squash, and red pepper with some vegetable oil.  Saute for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, cook the tortillas over grates in oven to form taco shells.  Should take 15 minutes tops.  Take them out when they start to brown and are firm but not too hard.  Mix chipotle and mayonaisse together for the sauce.  Then start the layering process. Grab your taco shell, spoon some sauce, add some romaine lettuce, vegetable mixture and cod and enjoy!
 Next up I made Zuchchini and Corn Taco Quinoa Salad inspired by Closet Kitchen.
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/2 batch taco seasoning
1/2 cup of sweet frozen corn 
1 cup zucchini (diced)
1 cup summer squash diced
1/2 cup red pepper
1/2 cup frozen okra
1 tablespoon oil
1 lime (juice)
salt and pepper to taste
(I used half of the vegetable mixture from the tacos in this recipe)
 Simmer the quinoa in the water along with the taco seasoning until the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Cook the vegetables in large hot skillet. Once cooked through, add in the quinoa and mix together. Mix the oil, lime juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Toss the salad in the dressing.
Update on running.  I've had achilles/calf problems all week and went to Physical Therapy twice.  My Physical Therapist said my injury is a good one to have and isn't too worried about me.  I have another 20 Miler on the schedule for tomorrow.  My right ankle/achilles is taped and I am hopefully going to be ready to run.  So I'm off to bed!  Wish me luck on the last long, long run of my training.  Bring it on Providence!