A Shake Out Run and Throwback Thursday

It looked like a Halloween kind of day today.

Which means that I would have loved to stay in bed.  And with my adorable kitten curled up in my arms, I did end up staying in bed a little too long this morning.  When I finally decided that I was going to brave the drizzle, there was another gust of rain.

 

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When I took this picture, I couldn’t believe that the leaves have changed color again.  In the end, the rain stopped and I was able to run a slow 3ish miles on a warm, humid morning.  It was meant to be a shake out run before Saturday’s 8 Mile Hustle, but in reality it was a pretty labored run with sore calves and glutes from Tuesday’s strength workout.  I swear I did 500 dead lifts with at least 500 pounds on the bar.  Or at least it felt that way!  We’ll just have to see what happens on Saturday.  Luckily, I have no expectations for the run except to have fun!

 

I didn’t have too much planned for Halloween today, except work!

So I thought a Throwback Thursday of Halloween’s past would be fitting!

 

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Halloween 2012 Costume

 

Halloween 2012 AH MAZE ING Pumpkin Dip!

 

Halloween 2011 Sugar Cookies

 

Halloween working at a Children’s Hospital

 

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And of course a throwback photo of me and a Jack-o-Lantern from the early 80’s!

 

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How did you celebrate Halloween?

 

Chili Pulled Pork

This pork comes with a ringing endorsement from the BOY.  On my way home from work last night, I called him and he tried to get off the phone quickly.  He said that he was eating dinner (the pork) and I think he said it was incredible, but it was hard to tell while he was chewing.  Then he raved about the flavor before hanging up to finish his dinner!

 

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I don’t eat pork often, but I do like pulled pork on occasion.  I have never made a dry rubbed pork before.  When I saw this on Everyday Maven, I thought I’d give it a try. 

 

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When we opened the pork, it had a lot more fat than I realized.  I tried to cut it off with a knife, but it wouldn’t budge.  Luckily, the BOY came in with his brand new knife and removed it with one quick swipe.

 

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I placed my marinated pork in the fridge for a few hours and then thought about when I was going to make the pork.  It takes about 10 hours and the plan was Monday night dinner.  What I ended up doing was putting the meat in the crockpot Sunday night and then cooking it overnight.

 

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I was a little worried with so little liquid that the pork would be dry, but we woke up Monday morning to a delicious smelling house.  My second fear was that Cooper was going to wiggle his little nose into the crockpot overnight, but he seems to have left it alone.

 

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Yesterday morning, I shred the pork, which was so tender that it came apart with just the tongs picking it up.  I placed it in the fridge so it’d be ready for dinner.  The BOY had a pork sandwich on Hawaiian bread and I made a pork taco with shredded cabbage and salsa.  It was great!  So many possibilities…

 

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The BOY is still raving about this pork (he had it again for leftovers tonight). 

 

Even after last week’s pain and torture, I went back to see my trainer this morning.  The verdict…I still hate the anaerobic zone and I’m pretty sure it hates me too.  I also may have pulled an ab muscle, but I’m not sure how.

 

A Running Update…

Yesterday morning, I went for a run.  There were two things driving me to get out the door.  Number one is this upcoming 8 mile ‘race’.  I use the term lightly with the additional air quotes because I’m not planning on racing it as much as I am running it.  Number two, these beautiful fall mornings.  The weather is PERFECT for running, the scenes along the path gorgeous, and yesterday I saw a huge male deer along the side of the path.  We had a major stare down but he didn’t move.  I couldn’t believe I didn’t have my camera.  It was such a majestic site.  I ran 5 miles yesterday and am planning on another 4 on Thursday, taking Friday off, and then having a happy and successful 8 mile run, no time goal in mind on Saturday.  Like I said before, this is just an attempt to delay the end of race season a little bit longer.

 

 

Are you racing this weekend?

Do you like pulled pork?

 

 

Slow Cooker Chili Pulled Pork

From Everyday Maven

 

Ingredients

4½ lb pork butt

2 Tablespoons chili powder

1 Tablespoon kosher salt

1½ teaspoons ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground oregano

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

pinch ground cloves

½ cup stock or broth

1 bay leaf

 

Directions

Combine all of the seasoning in a bowl.  Using your hands, spread the rub around the pork.

Place in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.

Then place your pork along with the stock (I used chicken) and bay leaf in your crockpot and set on low (8-10 hours).

Cook and leave it alone for set time.  Then shred with two forks or it should just fall apart.  You can drain the liquid or I let the pork soak up the liquid and flavor.

Use for a sandwich or tacos!

Cookie Month Cookie #3 {Chocolate Chip Sandwich Bars}

I’ve had these bars (another Pinterest find) on my mind for a few weeks, so I made sure I had soft butter and plenty of time to make them this weekend.

 

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They are a creative twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie and they support kids cancer!  What more does one need?

Although I don’t actually own the book, Cookies for Kids Cancer, it is certainly one I am familiar with and something I have given as a gift.  They just released their second cookbook, and I absolutely love the ‘Be a Good Cookie’ spatula!

 

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These sandwich bars come together with rich, gooey fudge tucked between two layers of soft chocolate chip cookie!

 

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When adding the last layer of crumbled cookie dough, I would suggest adding in some walnuts, decorations, or any other flavors.

 

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It was a little challenging to spread out the bottom layer of cookie dough.  So I’ll share the tip that worked for me…spray your clean hands with cookie spray.  This will help you move the dough around in order cover the bottom of the pan.  I should say that I have had a problem filling this pan before, so it may just be that my pan is too big.

 

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The BOY came snooping around shortly after I pulled the pan out of the oven.  It was obvious that the fudge was gooey and the cookies still warm.

 

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He stuck is finger right into the fudge for a first taste.

 

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The trick to cutting these bars is that they have to cool down first.  The BOY barely let them settle before he was begging for a real bite.

 

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So I cut him a huge bar and of course had a taste for myself.

 

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I’ll tell you what worked for me was cutting all of the bars with my bash and chop and then freezing them over night.

 

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These cookies are quite possibly my new favorite cookie!  And when I shared them with some coworkers today, they agreed!  The combination of rich fudge with everyone’s favorite classic cookie is memorable!  Luckily, I have a few left in the freezer : )

 

Although I only made three cookies for cookie month (I had planned on four), I definitely saved the best for last!

Have a great week!

 

Cookie Month Cookie #1 Pumpkin Spice

Cookie Month Cookie #2 Sugar Cookies

 

 

What is your favorite Cookie?

Share some links!

 

 

Gooey Chocolate Chip Sandwich Bars

Recipe from Recipe Girl

Original Recipe from Best Bake Sale Cookbook

Ingredients

 

GOOEY CHOCOLATE FILLING:

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

COOKIES:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated white sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned rolled oats

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper, allowing enough overhang on the long side to lift the bars from the pan.

Prepare the gooey chocolate filling: Place the chocolate chips and condensed milk in a small saucepan over the lowest possible heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the chocolate has melted and the mixture has thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, add vanilla, and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Prepare the cookie dough: Place the butter and sugars in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Beat well. Whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add to the butter mixture. Beat until everything is well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Prepare the bars: Using half of the batch of cookie dough, place dollops into the prepared pan and press down lightly to even it out. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the dough and then add small dollops of the remaining dough on top. Don’t worry if the dollops don’t completely cover the chocolate mixture. Just spread it together as much as you can, and let some chocolate peek through.

Bake until lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside to cool completely, then cut into 32 bars.

Freeze well.

Greek Night on the Grill

It was a sunny and gorgeous Sunday!

I dragged the BOY out of the house for some errands, finishing up at the last day of the farmer’s market (so sad!) before going to the grocery store.  For dinner tonight, I had plans for a Greek night, but the BOY changed it to Mediterranean night.  I didn’t mind too much since it was essentially the same menu.

 

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He made kabobs for himself for dinner.

 

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And I whipped a marinate from Kayln’s Kitchen for Greek Chicken.  The BOY’s birthday is coming up and he has really wanted a nice chef’s knife.  The knife situation in our house is embarrassing.  We had big plans to go looking next week, but he found one he liked at Sur La Table today, so we got if for him along with this adorable new cutting board.

 

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It is seriously amazing!  We have never owned a knife life this!

 

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After marinating for a few hours, the BOY threw the meat on the grill, and I roasted broccoli in the oven with olive oil and sea salt.

 

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I had planned on eating my chicken with brown rice, but wasn’t really that hungry when it came time for dinner, so I had sweet potato and broccoli instead.

 

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This chicken was nice and juicy and perfectly flavored.  I’m sure the BOY will be hanging up his BBQ tongs soon, so I will definitely be saving this recipe for spring.

 

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It’s not even 8:30pm and I can barely keep my eyes open.

Looks like I’m not the only one!

I will definitely need to rest up for another busy week ahead!

 

 

Meal Planning 10/27/13

Sunday: Mediterranean Night

     Kofte Kabobs for the BOY

     Very Greek Grilled Chicken for Me!

 

Monday: Slow Cooker Chili Rubbed Pulled Pork

 

Tuesday: Leftovers

 

Wednesday: Baked Coconut Shrimp

 

Thursday: TBD

 

Breakfast: The Best Pumpkin Bread EVER!

Lunch: Poblano Turkey Sausage Chili

Adapted slightly to a crockpot version using ground turkey instead of sausage.

 

 

I’m sure by now you are sensing a theme to our meal planning.  I fear by the time we get the hang of this, our schedules will change and it will be back to square one in January!

 

 

Very Greek Grilled Chicken

From Kalyns Kitchen

 

Ingredients

Two large chicken breasts, diced

 

Marinade:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1/2 tsp fresh lemon zest

1/2 tsp Greek seasoning (like Cavender’s)

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp mystery red Mediterranean spice*

*I bought this in the Shuk and can’t remember what it’s called.

 

Directions

Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl and stir well.

Pour chicken and marinade into a sealable plastic bag, mix,  and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours (or overnight).

Hand marinated chicken to your boyfriend/husband to grill.

Grill over a grate at 425 degrees for about 12-15 minutes.

I’m sure you can also make this in the oven, but since the BOY offered to grill, I took him up on that.

Eat over rice and veggies or tucked into a pita pocket with hummus and tahini.

I Made Pumpkin Bread Instead

Yup…that means I didn’t go to yoga this morning.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE yoga, especially at my studio.  But my body is exhausted (and still sore) and their Hot Yoga class is REALLY hard!  And the Yin style classes are at 8am or 6pm, neither which worked into my schedule today, so I…well, made pumpkin bread instead!

 

We didn’t set an alarm this morning, but Cooper’s internal breakfast alarm can be counted on.  At least he waited until after 7am today!  The BOY and I took our time getting moving, but Cooper missed the slow Sunday start memo and was bouncing around waiting for food.  It may sound like I am talking about a dog here, but he is just a bouncy and continuously hungry kitten.

 

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Maybe they won’t see me here and I can spring into the water when it turns on…

 

So you may have noticed that I am yet to make anything pumpkin this fall!  Or maybe you haven’t noticed, but it’s true, and with the end of October approaching, it is time for that to change.  I went straight to my Everything Pumpkin board on Pinterest and started making the first bread recipe that I saw (not surprisingly, there is more than one pumpkin bread recipe on the board).

 

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Meanwhile, I made myself a Green Smoothie.  In an attempt to assess my current eating habits, I’ve been keeping track of what I’ve been eating this past week.  One obvious note…there are not nearly enough veggies in my diet.  So I picked up some spinach at Costco yesterday because that is easy to mix with everything.

 

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I started with my typical smoothie base of spinach, banana, and almond milk.  I added in some Chia seeds and then went looking for something to build in some flavor.  I had no frozen fruit, but did find the ginormous bag of cranberries that I also bought at Costco yesterday.  I rinsed them off and threw in about a cup.  Then 2 handfuls of ice cubes.

 

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I went in for a taste test and my smoothie was AWESOME!  I couldn’t believe how good it was.  In retrospect I should have added some cucumber as well, but I didn’t notice I had any until after I was half way done.  As you can tell, veggies just haven’t been on my radar recently.  I scrambled up some eggies to go with my smoothie and waited patiently for the bread while the house filled with the smells of the season.  I tried to get the BOY talking about this week’s meal plan, but we didn’t get much further than tonight’s dinner.

 

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We let the bread cool, only enough to remove it from the pan, before slicing off an end.

 

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This pumpkin bread is scrumptious!  I love how the crust is crunchy and sweet while the inside stays moist and full of flavor!  You should definitely add it to your pumpkin board and probably your Sunday as well!

 

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The Best Pumpkin Bread Recipe Ever by Recipe Girl

 

 

Just in case you are looking to spend your Sunday making pumpkin bread instead,

here are a few other recipes to try…

Pumpkin Banana Bread

Paleo Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin Pear Bread

Maple Pumpkin Spice Bread

Pumpkin Molasses Muffins

 

All of which pair well with a refreshing green smoothie!

 

 

Spinach and Cranberry Smoothie

 

Ingredients

1 cup almond milk

1 large heap of spinach

1 banana, sliced

2 Tbsp ground flax or chia

1 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen)

Ice

 

Directions

Combine milk, spinach, and banana in your blender and chop until spinach is broken down and everything begins to mix together.  Add flax or chia and cranberries and mix on high until well combined.  Add in ice and blend until desired consistency is reached.  Enjoy!

 

 

Did you make anything pumpkin yet?

What ideas should I add to my Pinterest Pumpkin board?

Post Marathon Training and Plans

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There are no post marathon blues in this house.  Mostly this is because I was already thinking about and planning for ‘What’s Next?’ during my taper.  The taper drives a lot of us runners crazy, and so I used my extra time to think about what I wanted to do after the marathon.  Top on my list…strength training!

 

So I enlisted the help of an expert.  A new (to me but seasoned and skilled) personal trainer who works with athletes to improve strength and speed. 

My main goals are to…

1. Improve my core and glute strength for running

2. Lose some fat

3. Tone my arms and back (my brother is getting married next summer and the bridesmaids’ dresses are most likely strapless…enough said!)

 

I took an entire week off from activity after the marathon before lacing up my sneakers this past Monday.  Tuesday was my first session with the trainer.  We did some strength and flexibility exercises and then he took me into my anaerobic zone…a place that my body seems to hate.  I’m wondering if this is typical of slow and steady runners like myself.  By Wednesday (my day off), I was back to walking down the stairs backwards.  I was sore from head to toe minus my neck and calves.  Luckily, my coworkers are used to seeing me moving slowly after the marathon and didn’t notice too much.  Thursday after work, it was back for training session number 2.  Knowing that I was still sore from session 1, he took it easy on me but made sure to fry out my arms and back (toned arms, here I come!).  As is the tradition, we ended with 6 long sprints.  I am working on my sprinting form but right now, it’s not pretty!  Friday, I was sore again but much more so in my arms.  I knew I needed to keep moving to avoid stiffening up so I went for a beautiful 5 mile jog.  It felt like I was running with cement on my feet and I certainly didn’t look like a sub 4 marathoner, but it felt wonderful to be outside on a gorgeous fall day running without the clock.

 

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Last night, I crashed hard into bed as if I was still in full marathon training mode.  This morning, I was still a bit sore, but ready for another run.  I did 6 miles at a slow but comfortable pace which ended up averaging just under 9:30 minute miles.  Afterwards, I went straight for the foam roll while Cooper played with my toes.  Did you know you can foam roll your triceps?  It’s not easy (or attractive) but was necessary after Thursdays arm workout.

 

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Next weekend, I am running the Hot Cider Hustle 8 Miler and although I have no time expectations (this is just for fun because I wasn’t ready for my season to be over after the marathon), I want to feel strong and enjoy the day.  For that reason, I’m planning on a few more easy mid range runs next week and just 1 training session early in the week.  Hoping that will allow me to recover by Saturday.  I’m also hoping to make it to a yoga class tomorrow, but it’s possible after this week, I may not want to set a Sunday morning alarm.

 

So…my winter game plan (and goal) is at least 2 days a week strength training and getting back to weekly yoga.  Next up on my wellness agenda…focusing on a clean eating plan with plenty of protein to help me feel (and look) stronger.

 

 

Do you change up your fitness routine for winter?

What’s up next for you?

If you live some place warm where this is not necessary…I’m jealous!

Cookie Month Cookie #2 {Sugar Cookies}

I’ve been holding out on you guys but not on purpose!  It’s a timing thing…

 

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See I baked these cookies before the marathon, along with a batch of Puffy Pumpkin Spice Honey Cookies.

 

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And then life happened, and I never posted the recipe.

 

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Which is a total bummer because they might be the best soft sugar cookies I’ve ever tasted.

 

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So you should taste them!

 

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And then share them with the people that you like (and that you want to like you too).

 

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These cookies froze beautifully, which makes them top on my holiday baking list.

 

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I know I’ve been slacking on cookie month, but I’ve already got my next recipe picked out, so I’m setting aside some baking time this weekend for sure.

 

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Chewy Sugar Cookies

From Whipped

 

Ingredients

3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened but not meltingly soft
2 tbs. vegetable shortening, preferably trans fat free, softened
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 large egg
1 Tbs. light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 drops almond extract
2 cups plus 2 Tbs. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda

 

Preparation

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment or Silpats.

In a large bowl beat the sugar, butter, shortening, and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg, corn syrup, vanilla, and almond extract and mix on low speed ( just to combine); then beat at medium speed for a total of 1 minute.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and baking soda to combine; then add to the mixer. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds, just to combine. Scrape down the bowl and then mix on medium-low speed for another 30 seconds to mix the dough uniformly.

Gently roll the dough into 1-oz. balls (about 1 heaping Tbs. each). Roll the balls in sanding sugar (or I just used regular white sugar). Arrange at least 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake one sheet at a time until the edges are golden and the tops are cracked but not completely set, 13 to 15 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for at least 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

These cookies freeze well.

 

Notes:

I subbed in oil for shortening since I didn’t have any and just left out the corn syrup for the same reason.  I couldn’t even tell something was missing!