May Madness

I can’t believe that this month is coming to a close.  It has been such a fun and exciting few weeks filled with races, biking, BBQ, family, food, and friends.  If it weren’t for the 80 degree weather, I wouldn’t believe that June was right around the corner.  My game plan was to put together an elaborate May Recap for my goals this month, sharing some of my favorite recipes and posts.  However, I spent last night packing for this weekend’s trip to NY, then sat down to play on my computer when it overeheated and shut down.  Considering it was late and I was exhausted, I left my computer to rest and headed up to bed myself.


I am still planning on doing a May Madness Recap, but it will have to wait until I am back in town next month.  Because this morning, I had last minute packing to do.  Let’s be honest, packing for a weekend trip is not so bad, but because I am traveling with my parents (who live much closer to work then I do), I am staying there tonight and Monday night and I made a running date with some friends after work, so once you count in my lunch bag, I have at least 9 separate bags that need to make it to my car this morning.  Yes, that takes me more than one trip (and it’s drizzling…yuck!).   On top of that, I took my new shoes for break in run #2 this morning before the rain, a 3 miler leaving me no time to put together my May Madness post.  Sorry guys!




I can tell you that I started this month with some back pain and a BONK, leaving me time to ponder my summer racing schedule.  But a few weeks later, I am pain free and feeling stronger, both mentally and physically.  After a refreshing trip to NY to visit my family this weekend, I know that I will be in the perfect place to revisit May’s goals and decide what the rest of this summer will hold.


What are your goals for June???

Note: LWYD is on vacation Smile  I’ll be back next week with adventures to share although I’m not sure anything can top our funny Florida afternoon.  If you haven’t seen this…it’s pretty funny!  Be warned…I may attempt a post from my phone (how 2012 of me!), but success is not guaranteed.  Have a great weekend!

Boozy Banana Bread

I told you that I saw this bread in my future


And not because I’m a psychic, but because I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I saw it on My Baking Addiction.  If you are a reader of my blog, it is fairly obvious that I love me some banana bread. 




And this is not just any banana bread…




It uses rum to create a super moist texture.  Although the recipe calls for dark rum, I used Bacardi because we had few sips left in the house.




The coconut adds a unique flavor, and I was actually inspired to add some to my Coconut Ginger Zucchini Bread.




I decided to make 4 mini loaves so I would have some for me and others to share.




I brought one for my mom and brother to eat before Bike the Drive.  Banana bread is fantastic pre-biking fuel!




And I saved two for our Memorial Day BBQ, where this bread was really popular! 




Everyone loved it!  One person suggested turning it into banana bread french toast, which sounded amazing.  But when I woke up the next morning, there was no banana bread left for breakfast.  Next time!!!





Run-Coconut Banana Bread

From My Baking Addiction



2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup light brown sugar, slightly packed

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 tablespoons dark rum

2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas (about 4-5 bananas)

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.

2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a large bowl, with an electric hand mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy; about 2 minutes. Add in the eggs, vanilla, rum, and bananas mixing until fully incorporated.

3. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, add the flour mixture into the banana mixture, stirring until just incorporated. Fold in coconut flakes. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack.


– For a plain loaf of banana bread, simply omit the rum and coconut.

– This bread does wonderfully with all types of add-ins such as walnuts, pecans, chocolate chips, etc.

– The flavor of the banana bread will intensify if allowed to sit overnight.

– To store, wrap the cooled bread in a layer of plastic wrap, followed by a layer of foil. Bread will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.

-If using mini loaf pans, bake bread for ~30 minutes instead of the full hour.

Quick and Easy Empanadas?!

When I knew that we were having a Memorial Day fiesta, I got to work on my menu.  Because I knew this weekend would be busy with the Soldier Field 10 Miler and Bike the Drive, I wanted some easy and tasty foods that went along with our Mexican theme.  However, the BOY had a different idea.  On Thursday night, he decided that we needed to have empanadas at our BBQ.  Empanadas???


I don’t typically eat them and I have NO IDEA how to make them.  When I mentioned this to a coworker on Friday, she found me this recipe for Quick and Easy Empanadas.  After an exciting and exhausting morning of biking and shopping, I finally made it back to our house at 2PM.  This left me 2 hours to get cleaned up and finish prepping for the BBQ.  This would have been fine except that I had these crazy empanadas to make. 


The outside breading is easy enough if you use premade refrigerated biscuits.




I initially tried to flatten them out with my hands, but ended up pulling out my rolling pin.


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I used the recipe as a guide, but adapted some of the measurements based on what was available in our house and what I had the patience to go searching for.  I ended up stirring together the corn, cheese, salsa, onion, and garlic in a big bowl.




I made the first batch of empanadas without meat.  Immediately, I was having trouble closing the biscuit!




With time running out, I was slightly frustrated, but I kept moving along until I had 8 empanadas.  I baked them for about 15 minutes until the edges were brown and toasty.


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Yikes!  These do not look like empanadas!  Although the warm, gooey inside tasted fantastic!




I stirred in some browned fajita meat for batch #2.  I was able to learn a few things from my first attempt to help this second round go more smoothly.  I rolled out my dough much thinner and used less filling.  This made it easier for me to pinch the sides together sealing in the filling.  The dough was still too thick (note to the reader…dough will expand when baking so roll it extremely thin…even thinner than you think you should).  But, they looked much better than the first try.





I don’t know that my empanadas were exactly what the BOY had in mind, especially when I saw these beautiful pastries at Whole Foods the next day.




I have a little ways to go when it comes to the looks of my final product.





When guests arrived, I told them that they would have to just pull some of the extra dough off of the empanadas because there was not enough filling inside.  When everyone started raving about the filling, I pulled the leftovers out of the tupperware that I had stashed in the fridge.  Everyone loved it as a dip and dug right in.  My plan was to use the leftovers with cream cheese as a warm appetizer, but when it was time to clean up, there was barely any left.  I guess that is a success!


For dinner the next night, we pulled out a variety of delicious leftovers.  I created this salad complete with everything that we had leftover in one bowl. It was incredible.  The BOY used the empanada filling as a salsa on his fajitas.  Yummy! 




I’m sharing this recipe because I think with a little more time and TLC, these empanadas can be great. But if you don’t have time and patience to make them, you can use this filling as a dip or salsa.  Or…spread a layer of softened cream cheese (and refried beans if you want) on the bottom of an oven proof dish, top with the filling (recipe below), and biscuits if desired.  Then bake until the top is brown and the inside is warm and bubbly.




Quick and Easy Empanadas (or cheese, tomato and corn dip)



1 lb ground beef (optional)

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1 (15 ounce) can fresh cut corn, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup chopped onion

8 ounces grated cheddar cheese

1 cup salsa (I recommend a black bean salsa)

2 (16 ounce) cans large refrigerated biscuits



    Brown the ground beef in a frying pan adding the salt and pepper just before done.

    Let the beef cool.

    In a large bowl mix the corn, onions, cheese, and salsa, then add the cooled beef mixing carefully so not to break up all the cheese.

    Roll the biscuits out flat to about 2-1/2 times their size.  (I found it easier to make more of an oval shape).

    Place approximately 1/3 cup filling on one side of the center of the circle lengthwise.

    Fold the dough over the filling like a turn over and crimp the edges like a pie crust. Be careful not to tear the dough, and to seal the edges completely or your filling will come out! depending on how much filling is used will determine how many biscuits you will use.

    Place on slightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 till lightly browned (about 15 minutes).



    ***Note: I would suggest layering cream cheese, filling, and pastry as described above and making it into a dip!

    OPTIONS: These turnovers would be easy to fill with sauce and cheese for pizza puffs or fruit, cinnamon and sugar for dessert empanadas.

    2 Miler

    With a weekend as active as this one, it would have been okay to take the day off from exercise today and sleep in.  However, these shoes were calling my name. 




    Not literally calling my name, but these beautiful new runners were just quietly hanging out in their box waiting to get outside and hit the pavement. 




    The salesman at the running store suggested breaking into this shoes lightly, starting with low miles and alternating them with another pair of shoes.  With the 10 Miler on Saturday, I didn’t have time this past week for low miles, so this morning was my first chance. 




    Plus, it was a gorgeous spring day (the kind that makes you want to call in sick and play outside all day).




    So, I worked out an compromise…I would do an Active Recovery!  This way I could sleep in before getting up and running a short 2 mile run in my new shoes.  I didn’t know exactly what to expect from a light weight shoe as I have been wearing the same Brooks Adrenaline style for 8 years!  I definitely felt a difference wearing a lighter shoe (this is 8.3 oz compared with the Adrenaline which is 9.4 oz).  Although my legs were tired and not so fast, I could tell that they shoes were fast.  They had a strong spring to them, which made them feel like they’d be more efficient on a longer run.  The Pure Cadence is the more supportive of the Brooks Pure Project line and therefore a great place to start.  I took a little time to stretch out my tight calves after my run and enjoy the beautiful day.




    And then headed inside for breakfast.  In honor of our Fiesta weekend, I made a simple egg wrap with avocado.  Crazy though…we are all out of salsa which I LOVE on my eggs.  If I had more time, I thought about making a Mexican style breakfast pizza, but this wrap totally hit the spot!




    We still have a few things leftover from this weekend’s BBQ which I took for lunch today.  One thing was this salad from Allyson Kramer’s book Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats. 




    I thought that Wendi’s Black Eyed Pea Salad (picture on the cover) would be a healthy salad to support our Mexican themed BBQ.  Per the book, this salad is potluck friendly and I was able to throw together the salad ingredients on Saturday.  I used canned corn and black eyed peas along with a frozen bag of steamed rice for ease, but you could always use fresher ingredients if you wanted.  I also omitted the jalapeno.  Why…you ask?  Because I forgot that I had two in the fridge. 





    On Saturday, I was able to whisk together my salad dressing, add it to the salad to chill a few hours before serving.





    I will tell you that I LOVED this combination of textures and flavors even before adding the dressing.  The celery adds the right amount of crunch and the corn creates a little bit of sweetness.  With whole grain brown rice, this salad is very filling and can be eaten as a side or a meal of its own.  Today, I had it atop leafy greens with a few multigrain tortilla chips sprinkled across the top.




    I did feel that there was a little too much dressing for this fresh tasting salad.  Now, this could have been because of my lack of detail when measuring out salad ingredients, but the next time I make this, I will go lighter on the dressing. 


    On another note, I find this cookbook to be jam packed with bright and colorful pictures.  The recipes are creative and many of them are practical.  They give you measurements in cups and in grams which I always like for easy measuring on my food scale.  You don’t have to eat gluten-free or vegan to appreciate the recipes!  However, if you are baking gluten-free (like with any gluten-free cookbook), you will need to have some unique and different flours on hand. 


    This salad recipe is a good find and a compliment to any BBQ!



    Wendi’s Zesty Black Eyed Pea Salad

    From Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats by Allyson Kramer


    For Salad:

    2 1/2 cups cooked black eyed peas (I used one can rinsed and drained)

    2 cups cooked brown rice

    2 cups thinly sliced celery

    1 3/4 cups cooked sweet corn (I used one can rinsed and drained)

    1 cup diced red bell pepper

    1/2 cup chopped cliantro

    1 tbsp minced jalapeno (remove seeds if you want less heat)

    1/2 cup chopped scallions


    For Dressing:

    1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

    1 tsp cumin

    1 1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning

    3 cloves garlic, minced

    2 tbs sugar or agave nectar

    1 tsp black pepper

    1/2 cup olive oil

    1 1/2 tsp sea salt


    To Make the Salad:

    Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl and chill until cold, at least 1 hour.


    To Make the Dressing:

    In separate smaller bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients.


    Toss salad with dressing until well combined.  Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours to let the flavors meld.  Serve cold or at room temperature.



    ***Note: I would consider using half of the agave and less olive oil for a lighter dressing.

    You can prepare the salad up to two days in advance and store in the fridge.  Just toss before serving.

    Every Year It Gets Hotter

    This is what our friends said to us when they arrived yesterday for our third annual Memorial Day BBQ. Since we were hosting two BBQ’s in row, we thought it would be fun to change things up a bit with a themed event.  And this lunch inspired us make fajitas!  We had a lot of leftover limes, which was a good place to start.




    After my run on Saturday morning, the BOY and I headed out to the Mexican grocery store for supplies.










    The BOY prepped the meat with fajita seasoning and lime and let it marinate overnight.


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    Meanwhile, I got to work on some white wine sangria.  Here is an easy recipe for this classic summer drink.  Trust me, you will want to memorize this one!

    Combine a bottle of white wine with 1 cup of fruit juice.


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    Add in some fresh fruit.  I recommend berries, peaches, and oranges.


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    Stir well and refrigerate over night.




    Just before serving, stir in 1/2 cup of sparking water, sprite, or gingerale.


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    I LOVE sangria, and this crisp and refreshing drink was a big hit at the BBQ.


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    I also made a pitcher of margarita with this mix that I picked up at Trader Joe’s, but the sangria was much more popular.


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    Here are a few other fresh, fruity, and fun summer drinks…


    Hungry Girl Sangria

    Sunny White Sangria

    Fresh Cherry Mojito

    Strawberry Coconut Margaritas

    Peach Mango Pineapple White Sangria


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    We served salsas, guacamole, and bean dip as appetizers.  The BOY also insisted on empanadas, which is a story for a whole another blog post…


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    For sides, we served red beans and rice (from a box mix) and black eyed pea salad from this cookbook (recipe to come!).


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    Despite the 90 degree weather, we we did spend some time sitting around outside.  The BOY was worried that nobody would want to brave the heat, but we did.  The sad news was that we lost the plugs for our baby pool (often used for soaking our feet on hot summer days), so we didn’t have any thing to cool us off.  That is where the beer and sangria came in : )




    For dinner, w set up a DIY fajita bar with beef, chicken, veggies, and all of the fixings.  One of our friends made a delicious guacamole and everyone dug right in.  I know I’ve said it before, but the BOY is a true grill master!








    By the time dinner was over, it had started to cool off and we were happy to sit out back and hang out, playing with the kids.  We had a nice variety of desserts.  I made banana bread and cookies (more recipes to come).  One friend made a frozen peanut butter chocolate chip pie and the other friend showed up with everyone’s favorite Slutty Brownies!.




    I also made Fruit Salsa, served with cinnamon sugar pita chips.


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    Even though the sun was blazing and the humidity was thick, our Fiesta Memorial Day BBQ was a huge success!!!  The BOY even commented that he would love to do another one again soon.


    I will post the new recipes throughout the week, but first I have to go heat up some leftovers for dinner tonight.

    Check out last year’s Memorial Day menu for more summer BBQ ideas!

    Bike the Drive 2012 {By Mom}

    I know that I mentioned it before, but I LOVE our tradition of doing Bike the Drive.  This was our third year riding down Lake Shore together.  It’s not just the phenomenal views or the chance to spend time catching up on life that make this event so special, but the friendly biking community is second to none and the support from the city of Chicago is incredible!  It’s amazing after last year’s freezing cold ride (my memories are of my fingers turning blue) that we even signed up again this year, but what can I say, we are a family of optimists.  BTW, it is so fun to be able to look back at last year’s story and pictures!


    My bike chauffer (the BOY) loaded up my bike Saturday night and I headed over to my parents.  We were up super early to reload bikes onto my Mom’s car and hit the road to meet up with my brother in Lakeview.




    My mom sent an email to her friend describing our day’s activities and I was so happy to hear that she volunteered it as a Guest Post for my blog.  She is such an amazing writer and combined with my pictures, we were really able to capture the spirit of the day.  I’m already excited for the Bike the Drive 2013!!!



    we had an amazing day..

    jen arrived at our house sat night in a blitz of energy… we woke up very early and started our day with coffee/tea and carbs.. rasin bran for me and a cereal mix with banana for her…



    the drive to david is about 40 minutes, the highway was empty… except for cars with bikes! Yikes, our energy and excitement grew as we got closer to the city…




    we call David when we get off the highway, he wakes up and offers coffee in a groggy voice.. we of course are way too jazzed for anymore coffee..



    bikes off the car and tethered to a tree and up we go to david’s to get on our gear.. and exchange stuff… jen baked a banana coconut bread for david, I had fresh cherries and a coffee mug for him and he has fresh grown herbs for us!

    Takes awhile to get all of this organized, shoes, helmets, gloves, sunglasses, sunscreen, supplies for the trip.. who has energy bars, nuts, dried fruit, water? should we go to the bathroom again?



    david’s bike is chained to the floor of his storage room, he heads down and we head out to untether our bikes… time passes, where is david? fiddling with his bike computer.. mine doesn’t work and I didn’t have time to go to the bike store so oh well, david has been fiddling for two days with his… and Jen… of course hers is prepped and working just fine!  I ask her if she has matched her socks to her outfit on purpose and of course she has.

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    we head off from davids to lake shore drive… about 2 miles

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    other bikers joining in as we get closer.. up the ramp and onto 10 lanes of closed lake shore drive… the ride begins

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    It was a crystal clear morning… bit of a breeze off the lake… cool to start and heating up as the ride progressed


    imagine thousands, literally thousands of bike riders who have paid $40 for the privilege of riding up and down the lake shore… old, young, families, fancy bikes, old bikes, bikes for 2 or 3, home made bikes, people are really into the ‘outfit’, tshirts… pants covered in steins of beer… cheerful greetings, shout outs… and david’s favorite overheard conversation by a couple of older women…

    hill ahead, gear down

    gearing down

    move right

    into the AARP lane!





    we have less miles on our bikes this year prior to the ride, so we don’t know exactly how the ride will go… Jen is in fabulous shape, ran the soldier field 10 miler the day before… I am really strong and pumped… and off we go..

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    It will be my first bike ride clipped into my bike and my goal is to not fall off… I fall off alot, cause if you forget that you are actually attached to your bike and attempt to stop, you tip over…




    This is our third annual bike the drive ride.. and the kids were just as excited as I was to be back!


    This is the first year that we ride most of the distance together… down the lakeshore we go, all the way to the museum campus where we stop and gather free supplies, bars, bananas, apples, and cheeseits for dad (who is home in his chair and very happy!)

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    there is plenty of people to watch as we rest and refuel…

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    back up the lakeshore we go… the ride is 15 miles each way, we got on at 7am and the ride closes at 10, there are little hills and one major hill… I see the difference in my strengh as I make it to the top of the hill with gears left on my bike!..



    we came on the drive at the north end, but not the very top, so I exit where we started and head to starbucks for a refreshment and some really good sunday morning people watching… the kids finish strong with the last 8 mile loop, swing by to pick me up and home we go… 27 miles for me and 33 for the kids…


    a good morning and it is not yet 10am!



    jen and I get cleaned up, have a quick bite to eat because there is shopping to do

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    and spend nearly the next two hours in our new favorite store, athleta…. first one in chicago, only 11 in the country… started in pennsylvania and then partnered with gap for expansion capital… WOW… work out wear and fabulous day wear.. logo, ‘POWER TO THE SHE’ and how fun that it is literally around the corner from David… he passes us at athleta on his way to the beach…




    several shopping bags later, Jen and I head back to the burbs, bar b q for her and gardening for me… look for my exceptionally cute skirt and capris when you see me next..



    heading to hot yoga with jen… feeling strong, no pain, no stiffness… love it!




    Thank you Mom for sharing the day!

    For the Fun of It!

    I am a creature of habit!  The night before a race, dinner is pasta and the morning of a race, breakfast is almost always black tea and Trader Joe’s frozen oatmeal (the easiest when you have to wake up so early) with bananas and chia seeds.






    This morning’s race looked like a recipe for disaster…

    -Despite waking up at 5AM, we were running late from the start.




    -I spilled tea all over myself as I walked out the door.

    -The BOY’s car didn’t have any gas.

    -We got stuck in crazy amounts of traffic!


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    -I arrived at my start corral 10 minutes after it was supposed to be closed.

    -Which means I wasn’t able to meet up with my friend.

    -I didn’t have any time to use the port-o-potties.

    -Black clouds and lightening were close behind us.

    -So I didn’t take my cell phone which made it challenging to find the BOY after the race.






    Yet despite everything, I stayed relatively calm!  Because this morning’s run was just for the fun of it!!!

    Here I am…so close, yet so far away : )




    The soldier field 10 miler is one of my favorite Chicago races. It is well organized and well supported.  It is a nice flat course and even though there are thousands of people running, the lake shore path has plenty of space.  The parking at Soldier Field is free and it is typically easy to find your family after the race.  They are happy because there are plenty of seats and bathrooms while they wait.  And most importantly…who doesn’t want to hang out on the 50 yard line at Soldier Field?!




    Despite arriving later for this race than I would have liked, I made it to Corral 3 and luckily, they were pretty relaxed about closing down the corrals.  While I was looking for my friend, I heard someone calling my name.  It was a friend from grad school, who I was happy to see and hang out with before the start of the race.  Meanwhile, I told the BOY to take tons of pictures while he waited for me!


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    Today’s goal was to finish the race without BONKING like I did a few weeks ago and to enjoy myself!!!  The race began and I took off heading for the mile 1 port-a-potty.  There was no line once I got there and I was happy to finally begin my race feeling good.  I maintained a 8:00 minute/mile pace for the first 5 miles and felt strong throughout.  When we turned the corner before the halfway point, the wind hit us smack in the face.  Luckily, the rain seemed to be holding and it was actually PERFECT running weather.  My favorite part of this race was heading north back to soldier field along the Lake Shore path with the view of the sky line on the left and the heavy waves crashing along the lake shore to your right.  At this point, I wished I had my phone to take a picture!  This made the back half of my race go quick, and I was excited to enter the stadium feeling good.


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    When I made it the field, I sprinted towards the finish!


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    Although I couldn’t see him, the BOY said that he saw me finish on the Jumbo-Tron.  So cool!!!




    I was so turned around that I thought he was on the other side of the stadium.  Ooops!  I was hoping he would be able to get my picture on the field.  It took me some time to find my way out of the runner’s area and back out to the stadium, and when I did, I was still on the other side.  I had to borrow someone’s phone in order to finally find my way to the correct 35 yard line where we were supposed to meet.


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    It was fun to get a few pictures in the stadium since I didn’t have enough time to take some photos before the race.  It has been 3 years since I’ve run Soldier Field and the race was just as much fun as I remember!  It is possibly going to be my new Memorial Day weekend tradition!  Anyone interested in joining me???


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    2009                                                                      2012


    Although I didn’t beat my impressive 2009 time (which wasn’t really the goal), I had a strong race and enjoyed every minute of it.  Even with a bathroom break, I was pleased with my results…


    Age: 30 Gender: F




    Chip Time


    Overall Place

    1934 / 12845

    Gender Place

    491 / 7319

    Division Place

    111 / 1659



    5M Split




    And according to my watch (without the bathroom break), I finished in 1:21:06 with a 40:00 minute 5 mile split.  After the race, the BOY and I ran a few errands in preparation for tomorrow’s BBQ before heading out for a celebratory lunch and beer at the local pub.


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    Because the world is so small and fun, I saw a woman in a race shirt as I walked in.  We started talking and it turns out that she lives a few blocks away from us.  I may have found myself a new running buddy!  We came home and crashed!  We were up super early this morning and I need to save some energy for tomorrow’s Bike the Drive!



    What Memorial Day races are you doing this weekend???

    Pasta for Dinner

    You know what this means…




    Tomorrow is race day!




    Rewind to Thursday…I was able to get in another run in my new shoes before work.




    They are super comfortable, and I am excited to take them out for the 10 miler tomorrow.  I am just hoping that it doesn’t rain!




    After my run, I packed up the Chocolate Covered Cake Batter Popcorn to bring to work.  It was WAY TOO addicting to keep around the house!  One thing that I learned is that you have to wait for everything to cool before packaging or you will end up with soggy popcorn.  It still tastes great, but you lose that popcorn crunch!




    The popcorn was delicious, but I needed something healthier to fuel my race tomorrow.

    I was craving my typical pre-race pasta with olive oil.  I picked up some veggies at Costco on my way home from work, and the BOY threw them on the grill with some shrimp.




    He used our new Herbs de Provence olive oil on the veggies which was fantastic!




    I tossed in some grilled shrimp…




    And whole wheat pasta




    I drizzled on a little olive oil and a sprinkle of aged parmesan cheese.


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    Dinner was incredible!  Even the BOY was raving about how good it was (he had the same thing, but with regular pasta).  He did such an amazing job seasoning the veggies and the Herbs de Provence is our new favorite olive oil.  If pasta always tasted this good, I would make it more often!




    Now that I am loaded up with carbs, I am off to bed early.  The race starts at 7AM, so we will be up before the sun!

    Wish me luck!  Not that I need it…tomorrow’s race is ALL ABOUT FUN!



    Chocolate Covered Cake Batter Popcorn

    I took one of my new pairs of running shoes out for a test drive yesterday morning. 

    I was happy to get in a run because I am planning on wearing them for the Soldier Field 10 miler this weekend!  They did great on a 5.5 steady run.  I’m looking forward to getting my feet into my Pure Cadence shoes next week after the race.




    There has been a whole lot of cake batter going on around here lately (which probably explains why my pants have been feeling a little snug).  This evening as I was leaving work, a coworker handed me a container of yellow cake batter.  Kind of random, I know, but everyone knows that I love to bake and she had used it for a project with a few of her kids.  I promised to do something fun with it before returning tomorrow because let’s be honest…you can’t really let cake batter go to waste.




    Although my first thoughts were to dive head first into the batter or drink it with a straw, luckily I had the entire commute home to ponder what I was going to do with it…




    I came up with a few fun and creative ideas using ingredients that I have on hand, but as I was getting closer to home, I remembered seeing this recipe for Red Velvet Popcorn on Cookies & Cups.  If you know me, then you know that I LOVE popcorn and I have been wanting an excuse to smother it in chocolate and cake!


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    I didn’t have any white chocolate in the house (also a problem!), but I did have a full package of chocolate almond bark.




    Which I discovered tastes amazing when poured over air popped popcorn!


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    Because I had so much popcorn, I divided it up into two batches.  For the first batch (using half of the almond bark), I smothered the popcorn in chocolate and then spread it out over parchment paper before drizzling it with crumbled cake and sprinkles.  Fair warning…this is a messy project but totally worth it when you get to lick off your fingers in the end!


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    For the second batch, I coated the popcorn in chocolate, then stirred in the cake and sprinkles before laying it out the counter to harden.


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    I found the second way to be much easier, which is why I used that for the directions below.  However, both ways produced the most scrumptious blend of sweet tasty popcorn that I have ever had!




    I did not wait for the chocolate to harden before stealing a bite (or six).  Make that seven…




    It reminds me of that amazing chocolate covered popcorn that comes in the holiday baskets…only better…because this one includes CAKE!!!




    I seriously can not keep my fingers away from the counter where I have two heaps of chocolate covered goodness.  Although in my no so well-lit pictures, it might look more like fuzzy popcorn with sprinkles, this dessert is truly delicious!  Trust me…I just went and tried another bite : )




    Yikes!!!  I will definitely be taking my running shoes out for another morning jog tomorrow before work!  I just hope I can fall asleep after eating all that sugar!



    Craving more Cake Batter?  May I suggest indulging in…


    Cake Batter Bark

    Cake Batter Blondies

    Cake Batter Puppy Chow

    Cake Batter Truffles

    FunFetti Fudge (this recipe is on my To Do list)

    Chocolate Covered Cake Batter Popcorn

    Inspired by Cookies & Cups



    10 cups air popped popcorn

    20 ounces chocolate or candy coating (like almond bark)

    1 yellow cake mix, baked according to directions (for easy cake bake, I recommend THIS adaptation using applesauce)




    Bake cake mix according to directions.  Let cook slightly before crumbling with your hands.

    Melt chocolate in microwave or double broiler.  Pour over popcorn and stir to coat.  Stir in crumbled cake batter (I used almost the entire cake!) and sprinkles, stirring until combined.

    Spread popcorn in single layer over parchment paper to cool and harden.  Add more sprinkles and cake if desired.

    Store in air tight container.  This won’t last in your house very long…it’s just that good!

    Cookie Cake

    I have been inspired by other bloggers who are using their whoopie pie pans creatively.  So when the BOY told me he wasn’t a big fan of whoopie pies, but I wanted to make something fun for our BBQ, I decided on a cookie cake.




    And not just any cookie cake…a Double Chocolate Chip (white and milk) Double Layered Cookie Cake.




    With fudge frosting in the middle!




    It’s okay…take a moment to wipe the drool off the side of your mouth before continuing with this post.

    For the cookie recipe, I used another adorable cookbook by Elinor Klivans.




    I followed her recipe for Chock-Full of Chocolate Chip Cookies exactly.




    Except that instead of 4 cups of chips, I added in 1 1/2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate and 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips.


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    Man, I LOVE chocolate chip cookie dough!!!  Don’t you???


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    The dough fit perfectly into the two big whoopie pie pans.


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    And it was definitely FULL of chips!!!




    In the pan, the dough baked into two beautiful huge deep dish cookies!  They were crisp along the outside and soft and gooey in the middle.  The perfect looking cookie!





    There was a whole lotta of baking going on on this weekend!




    I let the cookies cool over night before spreading rich chocolate fudge frosting over one cookie and topping it with another cookie.


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    The cake was busting at the seams with frosting!





    I cut the cake up in slices like a pie, but was too busy eating and talking to take any pictures.  And sadly (but not surprisingly), there were not any leftovers!




    Below is the recipe for the cookies, but I would highly recommend creating a Double Chocolate Chip Double Layer Cookie Cake instead!



    Chock-full of Chocolate Chip Cookies
    Source: The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook

    1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
    1 tsp. baking soda
    ½ tsp. salt
    ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    ½ cup packed light brown sugar
    6 Tbsp. granulated sugar
    1 large egg
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    4 cups (24-ounces) semisweet chocolate chips


    1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
    2. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
    3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until smoothly blended, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until blended, about 1 minute. The mixture may look slightly curdled. On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just until it is incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
    4. Use a Tablespoon to drop heaping spoonfuls of dough (about 3 level Tablespoons each) onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies 3 inches apart.
    5. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the edges are lightly browned and the centers are golden, about 15 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 10 minutes. The cookies will flatten slightly as they cool. Use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
    6. The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

    Makes: 27 cookies (big ones)