Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Race Recap: Westfield 5 Mile Turkey Trot

On Saturday, I ran the Westfield Turkey Trot 5-miler for the third time, managed to not freeze, and scored a PR!

Since I wasn’t a runner growing up, even though my hometown puts on quite a few road races, I didn’t start participating in them until I was 23. I remember being envious of the people that did run, but I was busy doing lap after lap in a pool with a coach who could somehow build you up, knock you down, make you laugh, and make you cry all in one fell swoop. But I digress…

Even though this is a “turkey trot” it doesn’t take place until the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Thankfully the weather was slightly warmer than it was on Thursday, and with a start time of 11:15am I was in much better shape than anyone who ran a turkey trot on Thanksgiving. But don’t be fooled – I was still freezing before the race. I left my parent’s house about an hour before the start, and stayed in the car until 15 minutes before gun time. My mom was kind enough to walk with me to the starting line, so I was able to shed my extra layers (a pair of pants, a track jacket, and my dad’s fleece) right before starting.

First lap in the park!

First lap in the park!

While there aren’t any corrals or pace groups, they did have signs for approximate paces by the start line, so people could (in theory) line up accordingly. I happened to be standing right where they marked 7 minute miles, and decided not to move. An older gentleman jokingly said, “I don’t think all of these people in front of us are going to run 6 minute miles…” to which I replied, “they won’t.” I used to get annoyed at the people who just wanted to be up front, but I’ve learned to just not care. Most people that don’t belong up front are out of the way quickly enough, and 5 miles is plenty of time to not have to worry about weaving much. The race starts with a loop in the park to get you just over a mile before heading out onto residential roads (that I know like the back of my hand) for 3-ish miles before coming back into the park for the last half mile. It’s a pretty flat course (except for a slight incline in the park), and the roads are wide enough that it never really feels crowded. Basically, it’s a very PR friendly course.

I'm always the one calling out to people cheering for me. Am I that hard to spot?

I’m always the one calling out to people cheering for me. Am I that hard to spot?

I didn’t really have a plan going into the race, and my only goal was to beat last years’ time (37:34). I figured if I was able to throw down a 7:20 for my first mile and hang on, that would be good enough. My first mile was a 7:20 (by miracle more than by perfect execution), but it felt too easy. I didn’t want to push the pace too much, but knew I was capable of a lot more. So the next mile, I clocked a 7:16. During the third mile I saw my good friend’s boyfriend who was running, and we chatted and ran together for about a quarter mile before I decided it was time to try and pick up the pace a little more. I ran the third mile in 7:13, and in the process, beat my current 5k PR. I couldn’t help but laugh, since the exact same thing happened to me when I ran the race last year. I know I’m capable of a lot more as a runner, but seem to never be able to get my shit together long enough to actually make it happen. By this point I knew unless I had an accident, a PR was likely; I just had to fight through the last 2 miles. Mile 4 came quickly in 7:07, and I passed a few high school girls who looked like they were moments from tripping one another in an effort to make it to the finish first. The last quarter mile of the race is downhill, so I knew to push it enough the first three quarters and the hill would carry me home. I don’t know how, but I managed to clock a 6:56 for the last mile, and get passed by those two high school girls throwing elbows in the process. My official finish time was 35:58, a 7:11 average. Miraculously my watch had me only one second slower and one tenth of a mile further – talk about exceptional tangent work!

With all this Vitamin C I better not get sick.

With all this Vitamin C I better not get sick.

As it turns out, my time was good enough for second place in my age group (22nd female overall). This was by far the highest I’ve ever finished at this particular race (Westfield seems to have a lot of graduates that come back to race that are speedy), and I got a cute little scarecrow and a box of Emergen-C (?!) for my efforts. My cat has already tried to eat the scarecrow multiple times.

Buds since '98 (at least)

Buds since ’97 (with my dad creeping in the background)

After I finished I met up with my good friend Kir, who is so speedy she could run laps around me. She doesn’t like to brag, but let’s just say that her marathon pace is significantly faster than the pace I ran the 5 miler. We’ve known each other since middle school when we were both avid swimmers. It never ceases to amaze me that I somehow went from being a swimmer (a sprinter, no less) to a distance runner. The thought of racing for more than a minute in the pool used to elicit whines and eye rolls from me; yet here I am running for hours at a time. Go figure.

This was an awesome way to finish up 2013 in terms of running – I managed to somehow PR every distance I raced except for the 4 mile and marathon distances… But I’ll be coming for them (big time) in 2014!

Did you Turkey Trot this past week/weekend? 
Do you like Holiday-themed races?

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What Vegetarians Eat: Thanksgiving Edition

A lot of times when people find out you’re vegetarian, you get questions like, “So, um, what do you eat?” “Well do you at least eat chicken? Fish?” as well as the always funny jokes about only eating lettuce. And when it comes to the holidays, it can be tricky navigating the buffet table when the main focus of holiday get togethers is food, and often times, they’re meat-based.

Last year I made it easy on myself (read: I was lazy) since it was my first Thanksgiving as an official vegetarian, and I opted to only eat the side dishes. This was easy, because like many, the side dishes are my favorite part. I had stuffing (made with veggie sausage), green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, maple glazed Brussels sprouts, corn and peas, mashed turnips, creamed pearl onions, and cranberry sauce. That’s obviously a lot of food, and I was more than satisfied without having a “main” on my plate. This will likely continue to be my approach for holiday events at a friend or family member’s house, but I’ve decided to get a little more creative this year.

No turkey here! I certainly don't miss cleaning & stuffing it...

No turkey here! I certainly don’t miss cleaning & stuffing it…

When dreaming up my Thanksgiving menu, I decided it was time to try a turkey alternative. No, I’m not talking about a tofurkey – I wanted to make something homemade! While I’ve opted to have a “main dish” this year, that doesn’t mean I plan to skimp on the sides; they are my favorite part! And since meal planning is something I really enjoy doing, I figured I would share with you all what I plan on serving for my Vegetarian Thanksgiving! That way, if you’re scrounging around for a last minute side dish idea maybe one of these will spark your interest, or, you can always save them for next year.

2013 Vegetarian Thanksgiving Menu
Seitan Roast – recipe found here

Brussels Sprout Mac ‘n Cheese – recipe found here
Veggie Stuffing – my recipe found here
Peas & Corn
Mashed Potatoes
Apple & Cranberry Crumble

I’m going to be so full, and I’ll have leftovers for days. It’s going to rule.

What’s your favorite side dish? 

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Leftoverpalooza

Thanksgiving this year was the very first time in my 26 years that I didn’t have turkey. While I was convinced the temptation would be too much and I’d cave as the bird was being carved, I managed to stay true to my new vegetarian lifestyle! I even went so far as to make my very own stuffing. The stuffing that is always made includes sausage, so I subbed the meat version for some veggie sausage, and couldn’t even tell the difference. Matter of fact, my co-workers didn’t notice either, and voted me to a 2nd place tie during our office Thanksgiving on Tuesday.

Whether you eat meat or not, I thought it would be helpful to round-up some left0ver ideas. I’m not usually one for “round-up” posts, as I find they’re boring and repetitive… but once in awhile I find one that I appreciate. Of course, in preparation for Thanksgiving there were a ton – recipe ideas, decoration tips, workouts to help you beat the bulge, etc. But what about once the guests are gone?! If you’ve ever hosted Thanksgiving, you know that aside from hosting, figuring out what to do with all the leftovers can be just as daunting of a task. I’ve hosted quite a few times, so there are a few recipes I’d like to share with you to help you clear out the fridge!

First up: Thanksgiving Leftover Casserole

The great thing about this “recipe” is that you can really use whatever you have on hand. It reminds me of the infamous Thanksgiving dinner sandwich, except in casserole form. You can pile it all into a baking dish, set it in the oven, and you have yourself a hodgepodge of Thanksgiving dinner all in one happy dish. This would even be good without the turkey!

Next is Turkey Noodle Soup!

As the weather is getting cooler (kind of), who doesn’t like a good soup? Of course you could take the time to use the turkey carcass to make a soup, but after slaving in the kitchen for hours on Thanksgiving, who wants to be bothered? This is a quick and easy soup, again using ingredients you already have on hand. Pair this with some leftover dinner rolls and you’ve got yourself a solid meal!

And finally, Crunch Turkey Quesadilla .

No round-up of recipes from me would be complete without something involving a tortilla of sorts. While I don’t have a picture since it was from early in my blogging days when I didn’t understand the importance of text + pictures, I promise it’s delicious. I think cranberry sauce would be an excellent “salsa!”

So, there you have it… three of my favorite post-Thanksgiving recipes. There are so many great things you can make from leftovers, and I’m sure I will discover more this year. I hope everyone had a great day with family and friends, and if you’re shopping today, are staying sane. I’m laying low today and Turkey Trotting on Saturday!

Don’t forget to enter my Under Armour giveaway! You have until Monday 11/26.

Do you have any favorite post-Thanksgiving recipes?
Did you (or will you) turkey trot over the holiday? How’d it go?

 

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Modifications

On Monday, I stayed home from work like almost everyone in the Northeast due to Sandy. Even though I was working from home, I made sure to make dinner early (I’m talking before noon) just in case the power went out as the storm approached later in the day (the oven is electric). I had Namely Marley’s Lentil Sloppy Joe’s on the menu, and since there were purple turnips in our Fresh Box, I thought I’d roast them as a side dish. I was able to make the sloppy joe’s no problem, so a few hours later I turned on the oven so it could pre-heat for the turnips.

Almost immediately I heard a crackling that sounded like something was burning. To my horror I looked through the oven’s window and saw bright white light… the makings of a fire. I immediately turned off the oven and blew out the flames, and stared in disbelief. Of course I was immediately annoyed that my oven would have the nerve to break during a storm, and wasn’t sure what to make instead. Since I love when my mom makes mashed turnips for Thanksgiving, I figured I’d attempt to put my own spin on them. This version is vegan, but it would be just as good with regular milk!

I can’t have a post about a recipe I made during Sandy without speaking of the storm itself. Thankfully, my townhouse kept power during the entire storm (though it did come and go a few times). It seemed like everyone around me (including my parents) lost power, and are still in the dark. I’m surrounded by the Raritan River, but thankfully am a little higher up. So, while everything around me seems to flood and lose power often, this is the third major storm I’ve weathered here and have made it out okay. Though, being surrounded by such damage means I can’t really get anywhere – but I’m okay with that. I’m keeping everyone in my thoughts and prayers, and sending a big thank you to everyone keeping us safe (police, fire fighters, nurses, doctors, EMT, etc.)!

But back the turnips. If you’re not a coconut fan, you can definitely use some EarthBalance (or if you aren’t vegan, regular butter). The coconut adds some extra flavor notes that I enjoyed, but I know of plenty of people who are not coconut fans, so butter will work just fine!

Vegan Mashed Turnips
– makes 3 cups –

Ingredients:
3 turnips, cubed
2 tsp coconut oil
1-2 Tbsp almond/soy/coconut milk (I used unsweetend)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Boil the cubed turnips for about 25 minutes, or until they are tender and can easily be pierced with a fork. 
2. Drain the turnips and return them to the pot. Add in the coconut oil, milk of choice, and spices. Using a manual masher (I have a great double masher from Crate & Barrel) or hand mixer on low, mix everything together to your preferred consistency  (I like to leave a little chunk). 

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Baking Bonanza

I set out to bake something at least once a week during the month of November.

With four weeks in a month, that means I should have made at the very least, four things (what can I say, I’m a math genius). I started the month off with Fauxreos and Funfetti Fudge for our work Halloween celebration, and then didn’t do anything the following weekend as it was jam packed with a family wedding and a 20 mile (attempted) run. I came back with a vengeance the following weekend and made the exceptionally delicious Funfetti Cheesecake Bites, but that was where things had ended. The second to last weekend in November was consumed by the Philadelphia Marathon, and obviously last weekend was Thanksgiving fun. I know, I’m a discrace for not even contributing a pie to my own Thanksgiving feast.

But before you shake your heads in disappointment, I’ll have you know I made up for it the very last week of the month! Thanks to feeling like I was hit with a ton of bricks on Sunday  night into Monday morning, I stayed home from work and did as much work as I could from my bed. By the afternoon I was feeling a bit better, so I ventured to the kitchen and decided to make some white chocolate chip cookies. Going off of the base vegan recipe I used when making regular chocolate chip cookies, I simply substituted milk for white chocolate.

Even though I didn’t contribute pie to my own Thanksgiving (my mom made apple and a friend made pumpkin), I did try my hand at pecan pie later in the week. This is actually one of my favorite pies, and I fell in love with it one year when my Aunt made a chocolate pecan pie. This particular recipe is a bit different, though, because there aren’t any pecans! I found the recipe over at Sugar Crafter, and was intrigued. This would be a perfect pie for anyone with a nut allergy. I wasn’t sure if it would actually taste like the pecan pie I love so much, but since the base was pretty much the same, the pretzels were an excellent replacement. Next time, I may top it off with some chocolate ganache to snazz it up a bit.

Even though November is over, I’m planning on continuing to bake. I have my sights set on this chocolate pumpkin pie. It’ll be my last-stitch effort to squeeze out any fall flavors left before finally giving in to winter flavors. We also have our annual Festivus party coming up, which will of course involve lots of treats!

Next on the project list for the month of December is to try and run at least 4 times a week. Since this past week was our first week back running, and December started on Thursday, I didn’t get in 4 runs, but rather 3. With the Goofy Challenge in Disney only about a month away, I need to get in as much running as my little legs will allow!

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More Leftovers, More Creativity

An 18.5 pound turkey for 8 people will leave you with a lot of leftovers. So much, in fact, that my fiancé has had a turkey sandwich for lunch every day so far this week, and we’ve had turkey incorporated in each dinner as well. I like turkey, don’t get me wrong, but I wouldn’t mind not eating it again for awhile.

Even though my fiancé would be happy with just heating up a Thanksgiving leftovers plate night after night, that just won’t cut it for me. Sure, I love mashed potatoes and stuffing and all that good stuff, but for me, it needs to be jazzed up after 3+ days of consumption. So, I decided to make what I’m calling Thanksgiving Leftover Casserole on Tuesday, and Turkey Noodle Soup on Wednesday. Since everything was already prepared it was a matter of assembling the ingredients and warming them up – score!

The Thanksgiving Leftover Casserole was pretty awesome. I usually don’t like when my food gets really combined on my plate, but for whatever reason, I encourage the comingling of flavors on my plate during Thanksgiving. This casserole did just that; it was a big blob of deliciousness and let’s be honest, your food doesn’t always have to be pretty. Of course the ingredients you use and the measurements will depend on what you have available and what you want to use, so you can simply use the recipe below as a guide! I’d be interested to hear the combinations anyone else comes up with.

Thanksgiving Leftover Casserole

Ingredients:
Sliced Turkey
Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Mashed Turnips (or other Thanksgiving sides)
Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a 9×9 greased baking dish, layer stuffing, turkey, turnips, mashed potatoes, and cheddar cheese.
3. Continue to do so until you’ve used what you have left, or however much you want to use.
4. Bake about 20 – 25 minutes, until all layers are warmed and cheese is melted.

I had planned on making a few different things throughout the week, but due to the plethora of Turkey, it wasn’t until Thursday that we actually ate something that wasn’t completely turkey based, but instead was simply an addition. On Wednesday, though, as I mentioned we had Turkey Noodle Soup. The inspiration came from The Runner’s Kitchen, who posted her own version of the soup earlier in the week. Aside from the leftover turkey, I simply added some diced celery and onion, and the only pasta that would seemingly work, spaghetti (that I broke in half) into chicken broth. I’ve been making quite a few soups lately, and they all start with either a chicken or vegetable broth base. They’ve all been super flavorful, and really easy (I’m talking 10 or less ingredients that you simply throw in the pot and wait about 30 minutes).

So if you still have turkey left over, even after making a quesadilla, a casserole, and having it for lunch, try this soup to finish it off!

Turkey Noodle Soup

Ingredients:
½ box noodle pasta (any will do – egg noodle, spaghetti, fettuccine)
1 can low sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup water
1 cup sliced and shredded turkey
½ yellow onion
2 celery stalks
1/2 cup corn

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
Salt
Pepper
Red pepper flakes

Directions:
1. Bring separate pot of water to a boil, cook pasta about 5 minutes (it’ll finish cooking in the soup)
2. While pasta is cooking, chop onion and celery, and sauté till almost translucent (about 5 minutes)
3. Warm chicken broth over medium heat in large pot, adding pasta, celery and onion, followed by turkey and seasonings (salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, etc.). Heat for about 20 minutes, enjoy with some crackers!

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Leftovers: Crunchy Turkey Quesadilla

With the massive amounts of turkey left over (three Tupperware containers full, to be exact), I knew getting creative was necessary. Originally I was planning to make a simple turkey and cheese quesadilla on Sunday night, but decided to take it a step further. For anyone that’s ever been to Taco Bell, you know about the “Crunch Wrap Supreme,” which is folded over into itself in the middle, and has a nice crunch in addition to your typical quesadilla/burrito ingredients. I actually came across the original recipe from Hungry Girl awhile back, and decided to make it my own this time around.

In addition to the turkey and shredded pepper jack cheese (yum!) I sautéed some yellow onion with a chipotle in adobo. Once the onion was sautéed and the turkey was warm enough, I piled it into the middle of the tortilla, topping it with cheese, shredded lettuce, sour cream, and a few pieces of corn tortilla chips. You then have to get your fold-on, folding from the outside in, making about 4-5 folds. You then just throw it on a pan (that you’ve already sprayed, of course) so the tortilla becomes golden brown, and each of the sides you’ve folded stick to one another. The entire meal took about 15 minutes to prepare, and when paired with a salad was perfect for dinner!

Prior to our lovely Sunday night dinner, after our 8 mile run, fiancé and I each devoured an ice cream float. During the entire second half of the run, all I could think about was food. Jamba Juice, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, milkshakes, etc. So on the very last leg of our run I announced my plan (albeit out of breath) – “I’m making an ice cream float!” to which my fiancé loudly responded “Oh $*%! Yes!” and immediately followed it with a “That was kind of loud… SORRY!” to anyone listening. As soon as we got inside I scooped some leftover ice cream into plastic cups, and topped it off with some soda left over from Thanksgiving. Oh it was heaven. My stomach didn’t appreciate it much later, and would have rather enjoyed a piece of bread and water, but sometimes you just have to go with your gut. Maybe next Saturday’s 10 miler will be followed up similarly.

Crunchy Turkey Quesadilla
– Serves 1 –
[Adapted from HungryGirl]

Ingredients:
1 flour tortilla (warmed about 10 seconds in the microwave)
½ cup shredded cheese
½ cup shredded cooked turkey
¼ onion
¼ cup shredded lettuce (iceberg works nicely for crunch)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 chipotle in adobo
1 Tbsp sour cream
2-3 corn tortilla chips

Directions:
1. Sautee onion in oil until almost translucent, add chipotle and turkey when almost done just to warm.
2. Once cooked, add onion and turkey mixture to middle of tortilla, topping with cheese, lettuce, sour cream, and tortilla chips.
3. Fold tortilla inwards towards the middle, in about 4-5 sections.
4. Spray and re-heat skillet on medium heat, and add the quesadilla folded side down, cooking until slightly golden brown (about 2 minutes), flip and cook other side until also golden brown. Serve immediately.

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Our Second Thanksgiving

This was the second year in a row that my fiancé and I decided to host Thanksgiving for both our families. We figured it was the easiest way to make sure we could see everyone, and also avoid the whole traveling thing. Plus, since I like cooking, I certainly don’t mind! Last year I enlisted the help of my mom to prepare the turkey and stuffing the day before. This year, though, I decided to be a big girl and do it all on my own.

Our menu was as follows:
– Bruschetta
– Cheese & crackers
– Shrimp Cocktail
– Turkey
– Stuffing with sausage, onion, and celery
– Broccoli casserole
– Cornbread
– Mashed Potatoes
– Mashed Turnips
– Corn
– Cranberry sauce
– Pumpkin Pie
– Apple Pie

Our original plan was to have everyone over around 2pm, with a 3pm eat time. Well, I underestimated the time Ralph (what we named our Turkey – last year it was Charlie) took to cook, so we didn’t eat until about 4:30/5pm. Since we had plenty to munch on and a plethora of beers and wine to chose from, no one seemed to mind. Everything was absolutely delicious, but without the help of both my mom and my fiancé’s mom, it would have been much more stressful.

On Wednesday night we took the time to clean and prepare Ralph, and also make the stuffing. Our turkey was 18.5lbs, so in order to make the stuffing with some left over, I did the following:

Semi-homemade Stuffing
– enough to fill an 18+ lb turkey –

Ingredients:
2 bags Arnold’s herb seasoned cubed dry stuffing

1 onion
3 stalks of celery
1 roll of pork sausage
water (according to Arnold package)
butter (according to Arnold package)

Directions:
1. Chop onions and celery, sautée until almost translucent with about 1 tbsp of butter. Then add sausage, cook until browned.
2. Slowly add stuffing mix, butter, and water, combining along the way until moist and all combined (about 15-20 minutes).
3. If making day-of, once cooled, stuff turkey. If making ahead of time, set in refrigerator until cooled, then stuff accordingly.

I also made the broccoli casserole ahead of time, with the exception of the crust. This recipe actually came from a co-worker who made it during our company Thanksgiving a week earlier. It was so simple and delicious, I thought it would be a nice trade for the typical green bean casserole (though I love that as well). It isn’t the healthiest, but boy is it good.

Broccoli Casserole
– Serves 8-10 –

Ingredients:
1 package Velveta
4 boxes of frozen chopped broccoli (or 2 bags)
40 Salteen crackers (non-salted)
1 stick of butter

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Cook broccoli according to package, saving water when done.
4. Melt 3/4 stick of butter (reserve remaining 1/4 stick for topping)
5. In sauce pot, melt cheese with already melted butter, adding 1/2 cup of leftover broccoli water. Stir constantly until melted.
6. Pour cheese mixture over broccoli, mixing well, add to greased casserole dish.
7. Crumble crackers, melt remaining butter in small sauce pan, adding crumbled crackers. Sauté until butter has coated crackers – be sure not to burn. Sprinkle on top of casserole.
8. Bake 30 minutes, let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Thursday morning involved last minute cleaning, and general preparations. We had to make sure the cheese and crackers (with Hormel pepperoni!) was out, our Magic Hat, Dogfish Head, and Saranac beers were cool, and our Cupcake Vineyards wine was ready to go.

My fiancé’s mom was kind enough to make us her amazing bruschetta (it has huge chunks of tomato and garlic – yum!). She also prepared a huge shrimp cocktail, corn, made delicious corn bread, and gave us the ingredients for making mashed potatoes. My mom took care of her favorites – mashed turnips and delicious cranberry sauce. She also made an apple and pumpkin pie, which at quick glance looked store-bought! We certainly ate well on Thursday, that’s for sure.

Friday evening was Thanksgiving round 2 at my parent’s house. Any year that my family doesn’t have Thanksgiving at home, my mom insists on making her own turkey with all the fixings so she can have leftovers herself. So, we headed over to assist in the devouring of their “measly” 12 pound turkey. After having a Thanksgiving dinner two days in a row, I was unsure how I’d manage to finish the 5 mile Turkey Trot I was signed up for on Saturday.

While it was beautiful outside when looking out the window, gusty winds and a cool temperature made standing around pre-race no fun. Since the race started at 11am, I was thankful the sun was shining. However, I didn’t hand over my jacket until the last possible moment. Unlike your typical Turkey Trots, this particular race was a 5-miler in my hometown that both starts and ends at a nearby park. Once we got started I didn’t mind the cold, but there were points where the wind was blowing directly in my face, making it difficult to breathe. I’ve found that the hardest part about cold weather running, for me, is breathing through all the mucus (gross, I know). I spent a decent part of this race trying to prevent myself from choking. At any rate, I finished in 39:40, a solid 7:56 minute/mile pace (fastest race pace ever!) and was 6th in my age group, 43rd woman, and 206 overall! There were a total of 843 runners. My wonderful fiancé came in 3rd in his age group, 46th man, and 53rd overall. A friend of mine from high school also ran, who is super fast (hello 3:08 marathon!) and was the 2nd female overall, and of course the winner of our age group! Afterwards we rewarded ourselves with bagels, and had Thai for dinner – an overall successful day!

I think it’s safe to say my mini-four day vacation was a complete success. We finished everything off on Sunday with another chilly 8-miler, and some leftover turkey and cheese quesadillas. I’m looking forward to whipping up some interesting recipes with the leftovers throughout the week!

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Pie for dinner

Sometimes I wonder if I think at all before I set out to do something. If I did, though, I’d probably wind up second guessing myself and missing out on a lot of things. After a stressful weekend of moving and unpacking, you’d think I would schedule the following week’s meals to be easy and straight forward, and probably not time consuming. Yet I seem to almost always skip over the process portion of the recipes, and pick them solely based on ingredients (and a picture too, of course).

Yesterday started off bright, well rather dark, and early. The fiancé and I were up at 5:30a and out the door by 5:45a to do our first pre-work run. Now that we’re a bit closer to the office we have more time to get ready in morning, so by waking up about an hour early, we’ll be able to get in anywhere from 4-6 miles, depending on our pace. We did 4.22 at about a 9:15 pace – I wound up getting a serious case of runner’s trots about a mile in, and spent the next two miles struggling, so it was slow and steady. At the same time though, it’s also the longest run I’ve done since the dreaded injury, so I’m more than okay with it.

After work and voting, it was time to start on the first of two long and involved recipes for the week. I went with the “Not Your Grandma’s Sweet Potato Pie” recipe, which jumped out at me due to the Southwestern styled ingredients (pobalano peppers, cumin, etc.). I can’t remember where it was linked, but this recipe comes from Grist. Since sweet potatoes were involved, they first needed to be softened. I decided to take a short cut and microwave them instead of waiting up to an hour for them to roast in the oven. When getting ready to put all the ingredients into the crust, I came to the realization that I don’t have a rolling pin. Seriously?! I need to get one of them! It amazes me how much I’m lacking in the kitchen in terms of tools and utensils, but I still manage to make almost everything I want.

It was really good – it was completely worth the effort and time involved. Even though I’ve never made a traditional sweet potato pie, I would make this one again and again as it’s a great twist on a classic. Having left-overs is also a huge plus. I’m sure a lot of guests at a Thanksgiving dinner or brunch would be thoroughlly impressed (especially if they’re vegetarian and skipping the turkey)!

While everything was in the oven I had the opportunity to get some homework done. If we hadn’t ran in the morning, there definitely wouldn’t have been enough time for this dinner, voting, and homework. I’m going to miss the longer days come this weekend, even if it means not waking up in complete darkness. But in the end it looks like morning runs have their benefits!

Hopefully I’ll get to do some baking this weekend. I’m thinking either cupcakes or brownies with Halloween candy inside. We have an entire bowl of candy left over from Sunday since we had two trick-or-treaters. Maybe it was because I was prancing around the house like this?

Power tools aside, I highly recommend making this bad boy!

Not Your Grandma’s Sweet Potato Pie
– Serves 4-6 –

Ingredients:
9-inch uncooked pie crust, rolled into a 10-inch diameter circle and refrigerated (I used pre-made)
3 medium sweet potatoes
3 to 4 medium poblano or Anaheim peppers (or substitute 1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotle peppers)
4 whole shallots or 2 small white onions, quartered
1/2 cup Mexican crema, or sour cream
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
a pinch of Mexican oregano
a pinch of cumin seeds
salt and pepper
wedge of lime

Directions:
1. Wash the sweet potatoes well, pat dry, and prick with a fork several times. Place on a baking pan with the shallots or onions. Drizzle the shallots or onions with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Roast at 400 degrees F until the sweet potatoes are very tender and beginning to caramelize. If the onions begin to burn before the sweet potatoes are done, remove them from the baking tray and set aside.
3. Cool cooked sweet potatoes completely.
4. When cool, slip the skins off the sweet potatoes and cut into rough 2-inch chunks. (This step can be done up to several days in advance.)
5. If you have a gas stove, roast the poblano peppers over direct flame until blistered and blackened all over. Otherwise, you can broil them until they begin to blister. Place in a paper bag or wrap in foil and set aside to cool. When cool, rub most of the charred skin off the peppers, deseed them, and — with your fingers, if your peppers aren’t of the hot variety — tear the peppers into strips. Set aside.
6. When your vegetables are cool, remove your pie crust from the refrigerator. Roll out and be sure to patch any holes. Drape your circle of dough over your rolling pin and transfer to a pizza pan or baking sheet if not already on one.
7. Spread the bottom of the crust with the crema or sour cream, leaving a 2-inch border around the outside of the crust.
8. Next, spread the sweet potato chunks, the onions or shallots and the pepper strips over the crema. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cumin, oregano, the cilantro and the green onions.
9. Fold the edge of the dough up over the top of the filling, pleating the dough as you work your way around the circle. Place the tart in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to firm up while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
10. Bake the tart for 45 minutes or until the crust is dark golden brown. Remove from the oven, squeeze the lime wedge over the filling and allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

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Filed under Recipe, Running, Vegetarian/Vegan

Thanksgiving Round up!

I’m not really sure what we were thinking, but my boyfriend and I
decided we would host Thanksgiving this year. Being it our first
official holiday together, we figured in order to avoid the hassle of
figuring out who is going where, we would make everyone come to us.

Now, in August this seemed like a great idea. As it got closer though,
we realized we might have been in a little over our heads. But we also
knew it was time to suck it up and deal.

We started the prep last Saturday, by picking up our 18 pound turkey,
along with the ingredients for stuffing, gravy, and green bean
casserole. Since the turkey was frozen, we let it defrost until
Wednesday.

On Wednesday, I was able to gut and properly clean the turkey, while
fondly naming him Chaaahlie. I also made the stuffing, which was just
some chopped onion and celery mixed with Pepperidge Farm’s season
cubed bread and mild sausage. After that was done, it was time to
relax for the next day.

We woke up early on Thanksgiving to pop Chaahlie in the oven; that bad
boy took six hours!! We had both our families over, so they each
brought sides; mashed potatoes, turnips, cranberry sauce, breaded
artichokes, corn, rolls, and I made the green bean casserole. We
started with some shrimp cocktail, bruschetta and salad. From there we
loaded our plates and chowed down! Everything was absolutely
delicious! I stuffed my one plate, while my miraculously thin
boyfriend had three plates!

After we put ourselves in a food coma and watched some football we
moved on to dessert; pumpkin bread, coconut custard pie, apple pie,
and pumpkin pie.

I can’t get over how seamless the entire day was. I truly couldn’t
have asked for a better Thanksgiving! I’m proud of us both, and glad
we didn’t wind up backing out. This is a yearly tradition I could get
behind!

Now to lace up my sneakers and get running. All this food isn’t going
to work itself off!

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Filed under Home Cooking