Tuesday, November 29, 2011

State Park Walk/Jog/Hikes

First, thank you so much for everyones feedback on my running post.  I realize now how important it is for me to do what's best for ME and the baby.  And if running isn't part of that equation then that's okay.  But walking and being active will be! PS- My other form of exercise lately has been playing the Wii.  Have you ever boxed on Wii Sports?  Now that is a workout!

Anyway, Saturday, Dave and I decided to walk/hike all the way around the State Park closest to our house.  In all the years we've been going to this park, we've never made it the whole way.  Saturday was our day!  We had such a blast exploring and discovering new sights and both of us can't wait to get back out there.
While we were walking our first trail, we hit a crossroads; go the way we always go or try a different route.  Choosing the different route made all the difference.  We found this amazing gravel path that was flat and easy to jog on.  On our walks/hikes, anytime I find a flat part, I run.  Dave always jokes "There she goes!"
And off I went.

For a very short while. 
Once we reached the end of the gravel path, we hit this....
We continued around the lake until I found a perfect spot to take a Baby Bump Shot of Week 17.
I still don't feel like I have a "baby" bump yet.  I just kind of feel big all over.  But I'm really trying to change my mindset and embrace it.  I'm growing the belly because I have a baby inside of me after all!  

An hour into our walk/jog/hike, we stopped for some snacks and water.  This rock is now Dave's favorite spot.
And we eventually made it to the dam which is the path we are most familiar with.
As we were walking back to our car, I captured these gorgeous photos...
 I'm lucky I live in a place where beautiful trails and paths are a short distance away. These walks mean the world to me and I feel very thankful that I can still enjoy them.  As I've written before, the power of "place" is very important to me and this walk/jog/hike made me feel so much better about my inability to run like a used to.  What's important to me now is just getting out there whether it be outside or the gym.  Trying to stay active during this pregnancy is the goal for my remaining 23 weeks!

Do you have a go-to path or trail that you love?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of all time.  I love planning my menu, grocery shopping, prepping, cooking and seeing my families smiling faces while eating a delicious meal.  Thursday was our fifth year hosting Thanksgiving.  It's crazy how fast FIVE years goes by.  I can't believe we've been in our house that long!  Dave and I are lucky that from day 1, our two families combined.  We don't run around from house to house on important holidays and we get spend the day with all the people we love.  Although I wish we did have bigger families or extended family lived closer, I do love that we have an intimate dinner of eight including both sides of the family.  Of course, we cooked like we were having about 20!  But leftovers are a good thing, right?
I'm also happy to report that prepping and cooking this year was DRAMA FREE!  I stayed relaxed and calm throughout the cooking process and really tried to go with the flow... if something didn't work out the way I hoped, I didn't get bent out of shape about it, I just moved on.  I will tell you I made WAY too many sides and it really seemed like the options were endless!

My appetizer menu changed quite a bit from what I posted the other day.  Instead, I made a savory Pumpkin Pesto Cheesecake inspired by Julia.
Made with eggs and cottage cheese, the recipe really interested me because I love cooking with Cottage cheese. I think its a great way to add protein and lower fat!  I used store-bought fresh Basil Tomato Pesto from Whole Foods and a few tablespoons of Pumpkin Puree from a can.  I also used Ritz cracker crumbs as the crust instead of breadcrumbs and I made the whole thing in an 8 inch cake pan, instead of 4 inch.  It was a huge hit!  I'll be blogging about this recipe later on!
My other appetizers were cheese and crackers and hummus and pretzel crisps.  Easy peasy, stress free.

My mom made our first course: Leek Soup.  I've tried making this recipe myself, but it never comes out as good as my moms.  I think the reason is because there really is NO recipe.  My mom cooks as she goes and this soup is my favorite!
I'm going to write another post about brining and roasting a turkey because Dave and I have become quite the expert over the years.  We love brining our turkey for at least 20 hours.  We think the turkey becomes so moist!  We also use a flavored butter on the bird itself.  Originally I made an amazing Chipotle Maple Butter and I LOVED it, but was worried it was a little too much for my families tastes. (Don't worry though, I used it later in the best GRAVY ever!) SOooo, I decided to make an herb butter instead.  The herb butter was made in the food processor - I combined a stick of butter with a bunch of fresh herbs, salt, pepper, and paprika then we rubbed it over the turkey.  And voila!
 5 hours ish in the oven and our turkey was done! And once it rested, Dave got slicing!
 19 Pound bird= way too much food for 8 people! 
Alright now let me give you a run down of the sides.
 Brown Sugar Glazed Baby Carrots and Peas.
 Hearty Winter Green Saute with Pomegranates and Pancetta.
 Cranberry Sauce with Orange Zest.
 Sausage Herb Stuffing
 Smoky Scalloped Potatoes
 Mashed Potato and Kale Cakes
 Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta and Pomegranates
 Chipotle Maple Butter Gravy (OMG! So GOOD!)
 Natalia was ready to dig in!
Dave's insane plate of food.. 
And he ate it all!  Pretty impressive stuff! 
 My delicious plate of food : )
After dinner, we rested for awhile and played lots of Wii.  
And then we finally ate dessert as well.  I feel awful, I forgot to take any pictures of dessert other than what I made!  My mother-in-law made Pumpkin and Apple Pie AND Chocolate Chip Blondies.  Everything was delicious.  I made Pumpkin S'more Bars.  And yes, they were as good as they sound!
I'll get all the recipes up on a Google Doc early next week for you guys to enjoy.  I'm also going to do separate posts of the dishes I feel were standouts.  

Overall it was such a wonderful day with family and I have a lot to be Thankful for.
Including the 3 babies coming in 2012!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Recipes of what I made listed here: Thanksgiving 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

On Running...

I'm about to write a post on the things you're not supposed to say while pregnant.  But I feel the need to voice my opinion so I'm venting.  I'm 16 weeks pregnant and I weigh more now then I've ever weighed in my life.  I've already put on somewhere around 11 pounds. I feel large and I'm not even obviously showing yet. But it's not the weight gain that bothers me so much, I know thats par with the course.  What really bothers me is that I can't run.

I shouldn't be that surprised that running is so difficult for me, but somehow I am.  My running in 2011 has been less than spectacular.  I ran great January-March even setting a new PR in the Half. Then I ran Boston on very little training and after it took me awhile to get focused again.  In June I set PRs in both the 5K and 10K. I thought I was back!
Why don't I look that happy while running anymore?
Then I ran one of the worst races of my life at the end of June.  I mentally and physically gave up by the second mile. After that, I don't know what happened.  I tried to get my focus back in mid-July but I think it was a little too late.  I ran two half marathons in August that I was in no shape to run and my times reflected that.  And then a few weeks after my half in Freeport Maine with Lindsay and Theodora, I found out I was pregnant. Truthfully, I knew in my heart I was pregnant when I ran that last half marathon.

So, basically, I wasn't in the best of shape BEFORE I was pregnant.  Then I got pregnant and I've had a really hard time having an active pregnancy.  I wake up with massive headaches everyday and sometimes the only cure is throwing up.  When I was training, I did most of my workouts in the morning.  But with how awful I feel in the AM, that was out of the question.  In the first month of my pregnancy, I was scared to run at all.  I could feel weird stretches and cramps in my stomach and I didn't want to risk anything while my baby was developing.  Then when I was ready to start running again, my body was not.

I probably workout about 3X a week.  Every time I put on workout clothes, I set out to run only to be disappointed by what my body is capable of.  Pretty much every time I go to the gym or run outside, I want to run a 5K as fast as I can, and that time is usually around 40 minutes with walking breaks.  You see, I'll start off running, I'll feel okay.  Then I need to walk, so I walk a quarter mile or a half mile and then try to run again.  And that cycle continues until I've hit 3.1.  I know something is better than nothing, but I generally get off the treadmill feeling more depressed then refreshed. Am I just weak mentally? Am I imagining that this is too hard?  Why can't I push myself?  These are the questions I've been struggling with.

It doesn't help when I read other pregnancy blogs where women were still racing and PRing in their second trimester.  Now, I'm not the type of person that compares myself to others.  I get jealous easily but I try not to judge myself against others, but it's not easy.

All my life, in order to maintain my weight, I've had to run.  I know gaining weight is healthy for my baby, but it does seem like I'm gaining it at an aggressive speed.  Working out and running has always kept me sane and without that rush of adrenaline, I feel a bit lost.

But in order to turn this already depressing post into something positive, I'll leave you with this thought.  My mom has really been helping me a lot through all of this.  Her biggest message is to let my body do what it needs to do while pregnant and just use it as EXTRA motivation to lose the excess weight after the baby comes.  Because to me the most important thing is having a healthy baby.

If walk-running is what my body needs for now, that is what I will do.  I am fortunate to live so close to many state parks and reservoirs because views like this have been keeping me positive. And of course I love going on these walks with my husband as well.
I hope I'll be able to run for a two or three mile length of time at some point in my pregnancy without walking breaks, but if that doesn't happen it just means I'll have more motivation come May.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Day Menu

Hello Everyone!  I'm back! I went on a vacation to the Dominican to celebrate Dave's buddy Jay's Wedding. Now I'm back with a pretty bad head cold.  I had just a bronchitis-like-cough before the trip but that has turned into a full blown runny nose and sinus infection.  And lucky me I can't take anything!  But enough of the complaining- here's some photos from our trip.
Alright, now to the task at hand.  It's Friday, which means we have exactly 6 days until my favorite holiday in the world: Thanksgiving!!!!

Dave and I have hosted Thanksgiving for the past four years.  This will be our 5th year hosting at our house and I love every minute of it!  The key to a successful Thanksgiving is PLANNING AHEAD and ACCEPTING HELP.  Delegate dishes to guests. Oh and the fact that my husband takes care of the Turkey helps a ton as well.  

In 2009, we had 14 people- my extended Nebraska family was here and I loved every second of it. Click here for a recap of Thanksgiving 2009.

In 2010, we had 8 people- just our immediate family. 
Click here for a recap of Thanksgiving 2010. 

And this year I will be hosting 8 people plus three babies in the womb! (Woah, that was weird to write!) I'm linking to either the recipes that inspired the menu or my own recipes on the blog. Or if I can't find them online, I'll tell you the magazine I found them in.  I'm the type of home chef that cooks a lot of things up on the fly so this is all subject to change next week!

2011 Thanksgiving Day Menu

Sweet Potato Avocado Salsa (Everyday Food)
Cheese, Hummus and Crackers

First Course:
Leek Soup (Mom)

Main Dish:
Brined Turkey with Chipotle Maple Butter
Maple Butter Gravy (Food Network Magazine)

Side Dishes:
(same recipe as last year only with pomegranates instead of dried cranberries)
Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Butternut Squash (Mom)
without the apples and cranberries (Mom)
from 2009 on the blog (Mom)
Roasted Potatoes (Mother-in-law)
Cranberry Mold (Mother-in-law)

Apple Pie (Mother-in-law)
Pumpkin Pie (Mother-in-law)
Coconut Macaroons

So that's the menu! I can't wait to celebrate with my family next week.

What are you making for Thanksgiving?

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Eleven is the best number in the world.  I'm into saying things are the best in the world since I just told you NY was the best marathon in the world too.  Maybe a bit dramatic of a description?  Maybe.  But I don't think so.

I've loved the number 11 for as long as I an remember.  Which is funny because I hate all other odd numbers.  11 for me is just perfect!  And when I saw the date 11•11•11 on the calendar I knew I had to take the day off to celebrate, because this date will not come around again in my lifetime.

But before I go on and on about my love affair with the number 11, November 11th is Veterans Day, an annual holiday that honors military veterans. It is the anniversary signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. So I just want to take this opportunity to honor and Thank all the Veterans out there.  Our world would not be the same without you.

A special thanks to my Papa who served in World War II.

My papa at war, hanging my nana's picture up.  This makes me cry every time.
Now because 11•11•11 is a date that I will only see once in my life, my husband and I planned out ELEVEN fun things to do with each other.  Unfortunately, I can't always do everything as planned.  My unplanned sickness caused me to stay up half the night and ended up keeping me in bed most of the day.

These things happen and right now my health is more important then the 11 fun things we had planned.  We still did a few of the 11 things...
Like rake the leaves!
(the fun part was supposed to be jumping in the leaves, which they were too wet to do ... tear)
And go on a hike in our town!
But mainly there was a lot of resting... here's hoping my sickness goes away!

Do you have a favorite number? Did you make a wish at 11:11 on 11.11.11?? (You still can!)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Butternut Squash Enchiladas

First, I want to say thank you so much on all the well-wishes about our pregnancy!  We really couldn't be more excited.

Second, congrats to everyone who ran the New York Marathon!  I spent a bunch of hours watching past years marathons on Universal Sports Saturday night and then I watched the entire marathon Sunday morning while tracking my friends and following on twitter.  It really is such an inspirational race.  I loved listening to the announcers talk about why this marathon is the greatest in the world.  Because it REALLY is : ) It was so great that it motivated me to get out there and run/walk with my husband in our town's state park.
Oh look, another baby bump photo!

Now it's time to talk about something that I love but haven't made a lot of lately: FOOD!
I have a confession to make.  I consider myself a food blogger.  But not in the traditional sense.  You see, I wish I could spend more time on my photos and wish I could do all my blog cooking on SaturDAY when the light is best, but it's not feasible for me.  I food blog because I love to cook.  But I cook mainly so we have something to eat. If it works out to be something I like, you guys get to see it, which happens almost every time I cook regardless if the photo is the best.

You see, I work 45 hours a week plus have an hour commute each way.  I menu plan on the weekends and hope for the best to make the meals I planned on.  But when and how is not always perfectly aligned.  Sometimes I cook two meals on Monday so I don't have to worry about dinner on a Tuesday.  Sometimes I have to work late and dinner is eggs and a bagel (with my pregnant belly, this has happened more times then I care to admit.)  Sometimes I'm not in the mood for something I planned on and I completely change dinner on the fly.  And sometimes I'm inspired by another meal I saw throughout the day.

So, what's my point?

Well these Butternut Squash Enchiladas are some of the best things I've had in awhile, even if they didn't photograph the best. But this is my FOOD blog and it's not only a blog about recipes {and running}, but its real meals that we eat.  It's a real blog that shows that you can swap things out when you don't have a certain ingredient.  I grocery shop once per week and if I find a recipe after I grocery shop and menu plan, I improvise.  Because that's what cooking is about.

For instance, these enchiladas call for a can of black beans.  I thought I had them in my lazy susan.  I only had pinto.  Pinto will do! This recipe called for Cream Cheese.  I recently impulsively bought the Philly Cooking Creme and love the flavor impact it provides. This recipe also called for roasted butternut squash.  I didn't have the time, so I used frozen pureed squash that I heated in the microwave.
As I said before, my life, like my cooking is about improvising and making good with what you have.

So without further introduction, here is a recipe I am insanely proud of and it can also be meat-free!
Butternut Squash Enchiladas
Inspired by The Savage Feast
•1 Butternut Squash boiled or roasted then pureed, about 2-3 cups OR you can cheat like I did and use frozen pureed squash from the frozen veggie aisle 
•6 ounces cream cheese OR 3 ounces of Phili Savory Garlic Cooking Creme mixed with 3 ounces of Whipped Cream Cheese
•3 teaspoons of Taco Seasoning Mix
•1 small can of green chilis
•15 ounce can of black beans (or whatever beans you got, I had pinto)
•6 large Flour Tortillas
•1-2 cups shredded/grated cheddar cheese (I used a Mexican blend, pre-shredded)
•2½-3 cups enchilada sauce (I use medium heat, but I like spice)
•2 links of bulk sausage, cooked (I had this in the fridge and wanted to use it up, you can easily make this a vegetarian meal!)
Preheat the oven to 375°F and spray a rectangular glass baking dish. In a bowl, mix the squash and cream cheese until completely blended. Add the spices, chiles, and beans and mix well. Holding the tortilla like a taco, place a generous amount of filling in it. Roll it into a tube and place seam side down in the baking dish. Add a bit of cheese. Repeat with the remaining tortillas until your filling is used up. 

Spoon the enchilada sauce on top and make sure you get it down in between the enchiladas and all
around the edges. 
Get sauce on all the tortilla surfaces so that they don't dry out when they're baking. Then sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for 30-40 minutes until they're bubbly and the cheese has browned. 
Then enjoy!
What's your go-to cheat to get dinner on the table quicker?