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Hungry Heart: August 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Soup and Speed Work

I had a delightfully girly evening last night.
Jerry worked late again last night, so I decided on a dinner that I would love, and he would not love. (Don't worry, he ate lasagna for the 3rd day in a row and was perfectly happy).

It all started with a veggie burger.

This one a homemade one that I had in the freezer from a few months ago. I fried it until it was golden on both sides, and let let it cook 10 minutes in the oven at 350.

On top of my burger I had curry squash soup (homemade, that I also pulled out of my freezer).

I topped it with two big scoops of Greek yogurt.
And half a Heidelberg Ciabatta roll.

I haven't had soup in months, and this was so good. I loved the cool yogurt with the spicy curry. And digging for the burger at the bottom. But dunking the bread was the best part!

Sadie kept me company while I ate. If you look closely you can actually see the drool.

She must like curry more than Jerry does.

I also spotted this as I ate. It must have known I was having a Fall-ish meal.

After a little shopping, I ended my evening wandering around Barnes and Noble. I treated myself to a new magazine and a Caramel Macchiato.

Dessert, only 140 calories for the tall nonfat :)
I then proceeded to spend an hour browsing in the cookbook section. So proud for not buying one.

Yesterday's run was a sort of speed workout. I jogged a mile to the local track, and then I ran hard for 100 meters, and recovered for 100 meters. I basically ran the straightaways and jogged the turns. My cool down was the mile jog back home. I did 2.98 miles in 30 minutes.
Jerry explained that speed work is important, because it increases your leg turnover.
In other words, your legs will never move faster unless you occasionally force them to.
I only did a mile of track work, but my legs are sore this morning! Today is a rest day and I only have two miles on Thursday. My legs could use the break.

Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Elevated Heart Rate

As the half marathon is getting closer (less than 4 weeks!) I am now running 4 days a week. On yesterday's run I tested out the heart rate monitor that came with my GPS watch.

All you do is wet the sensors, and hook the band around your chest. (I wore it right under my sports bra). It is obviously not made for petite women, and I had to wear it on the smallest size.
I was surprised that I didn't really notice it while running. It didn't slip or move at all. 
4.2 miles in 42:24
Mile 1- 10:29
Mile 2- 10:17
Mile 3- 9:59
Mile 4- 9:43
Overall pace of 10:05.
Average heart rate: 152 beats per minute.
I had no idea what the heart rate meant until I read this handy article. I was working out at about 70% of my max heart rate, in the "aerobic zone".

By the time I showered, I was ready to inhale the vegetable lasagna I made on Sunday. Jerry was hosting a workshop at Hamilton until 9pm, so I ate solo.

Lasagna is less of a recipe and more a method. You basically layer sauce, pasta, and filling until you reach the top of the pan.

Steps to Building a Perfect Lasagna:

A layer of sauce on the bottom to prevent noodles from sticking
A layer of noodles
A layer of filling, then ricotta, then sauce
Another layer of noodles, followed by more filling/ricotta/sauce
Add a last layer of noodles to the top, then cover with remaining sauce and grated mozzarella
Bake 50 minutes, covered at 350
The veggies I used were a large zucchini, a small eggplant, 3 ears of corn, and one yellow onion. I sauteed them in olive oil, salt and pepper, and let them cool before building my lasagna.
The cheese layer was 16 oz of ricotta with one egg, 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, and chopped fresh parsley.
For the Gorgonzola bechamel, I didn't follow a recipe or even keep track of measurements. Woops.
Worst blogger ever.
But I did find this recipe from Mario Batali for bechamel that is pretty much exactly what I did.
I used skim milk for my sauce. I only used a pinch of nutmeg, as well as a pinch of cayenne pepper. When I took the sauce off the heat I melted in (approximately) 2/3 cup of crumbled cheese.
Lasagna is a versatile meal, since you can use any filling you want. Any combination of meat/cheese/veggies will work.

This was a nice contrast to the meaty lasagna we had on Sunday. The bechamel tasted rich, but the veggies kept it tasting fresh and light. (Don't worry, I am under no illusions that any lasagna can be considered a light meal). I'm pretty sure if I had been wearing my heart rate monitor, there would have been a spike in my heart rate while I was eating this lasagna.
What is your favorite lasagna filling?

Some of you have expressed an interest in what I eat for lunch. So this week I am photographing all my lunches. People at work think I am crazy.
I'll put them in post and discuss some healthy work/school lunch options next week.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Lasagna Two Ways

What is a better rainy Sunday dinner than lasagna?

Maybe two lasagnas?

I spent hours yesterday making these beauties. The first was made with sausage, ricotta, and tomato sauce. The second is vegetables, ricotta, and a Gorgonzola bechamel.

Jerry has been busy at work with the new semester starting, and had to go in yesterday to make sure everything was set for classes on Monday. I stayed home and cooked, cleaned, and did laundry. I rocked my pink floral apron all day. I felt so domestic.

We usually alternate having dinner with our parents on Sundays. But it was nice to stay at home, which is something we rarely ever do.

Since it was Sunday, I skipped our usual eating-on-TV-trays routine.

We had salad, garlic bread, and a Sauvignon Blanc on the side.
It was so hard deciding which lasagna to eat! I decided to go with the 'traditional' one, and save the veggie one for dinner tonight. No surprise that Jerry also went with the sausage.

This tasted wonderful, even though I am not a huge Italian sausage fan. I used homemade pasta that I had in my freezer from the last time I made pasta. I love the texture of the homemade pasta. It was nice and light, and let the other flavors shine through.
My only complaint about the dinner was that the lasagna came out a little watery. It didn't affect the taste at all, it just didn't look very pretty. This has happened both times I have used homemade pasta. I wonder if that could be the culprit? Was the part skim ricotta too watery? Maybe I should bake it uncovered as opposed to covered?

Lasagna is more of a method than a recipe. And while it is a little time consuming, it is certainly not difficult. Plus, these will feed us for a week. Lasagna is a leftover I never get tired of eating.

What did you cook while waiting out Irene?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Feeling the Burn

My hamstrings hurt. My feet hurt. And I may lose (another) toe nail.

But I made it 8.5 miles today.

I fueled my run with a small banana, peanut butter, and half a cup of coffee.

I also took a Gu halfway through my run. The Strawberry-Banana flavor gets two thumbs up.

8.52 miles in 1:28:32

I am loving my new running visor. I don't sweat profusely when I run. Except from my head. My pony tail always ends up soaking wet. The visor does a great job of keeping sweat (and sun) out of my eyes.

A 10:23 overall pace. I ran negative splits, starting with an 11:04, and ending with a 10:01. I never really mean to run negative splits, it kind of just happens. After about 6 miles my legs go on autopilot. They just sort of keep moving, and I can't really make them go faster or slower.  Its a very strange feeling, like my legs aren't connected to my upper body. They almost feel numb? Weird.

I rewarded myself with grilled pizza for lunch. It had ricotta, arugula, and grilled eggplant.

I stole a small piece of Jerry's BBQ chicken pizza.  He ran 20 miles at a 7:38 pace this morning. He said it felt slow. Seriously.

Jerry volunteered to cook at our church festival tonight. I might just walk around and take some photos. And hit up the beer tent with my Dad, of course.

I hope everyone is surviving Irene!!!

Do you use an energy gel when you run?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Riding High

Good Morning!
Yesterday afternoon I had to bring Sadie to the vet. She was due for a check-up and needed a shot. I just told her she was going for a ride. She loves riding in the car. 

Weeee! Where are we going?!
I can't believe you didn't tell me I was getting a shot

Afterward, I went for my run. I was only going for 3 miles and wanted to take Sadie with me, but she does not behave well on the leash for me. Ok, ok, its just that she runs much faster and would end up dragging me around the neighborhood.

I felt pretty good on my run and ended up finishing with a 9:45 pace.

Mile 1- 10:16
Mile 2- 9:53
Mile 3- 9:08

I've made a couple of recipe this week that need a little work before I post them. Like Wednesday's shredded beef tacos and cole slaw.

The taco seasoning was missing something, and the whole thing fell apart while I was eating it. I guess its back to the drawing board.

Last night's dinner was quick, and satisfying.
I put 2 pounds of chicken thighs in my slow cooker. I added a cup of beer, a cup of BBQ sauce, a 14oz can of drained diced tomatoes, and a chopped onion. I added salt, pepper, some garlic cloves and a few jalapenos and let it cook on low while I was at work all day.
When it was done I removed the chicken and onions. The chicken was nice and tender and shredded very easily. Then I added more BBQ sauce.

BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwich

I put some crumbled blue cheese on the bottom, more BBQ sauce, and leftover cole slaw on top.
My only mistake with this sandwich was that I didn't eat it right away. It turned into a soggy mess. Make sure you use a nice hard roll for this sandwich.

After dinner I met Clare at the Balkan for a drink. It was a wonderful evening for sitting outside and enjoying a glass of wine.

a Malbec

We also shared a delicious Caprese salad. We discussed "serious" things, like our favorite baby names and how much we love House Hunters. It was great to chat with Clare before she moves to NYC. She starts her job at the Metropolitan Museum of Art next week.
Good luck, Clare!

Enjoy your Friday, Friends!

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Looking on the Bright Side

If you are anything like me, (or every other person I know), sometimes you have a bad day.Yesterday was one of those days.
But lately, I've been trying to add more positivity to my life. Negative thoughts only make things worse. Wallowing in self pity is not a productive past time. I want to be one of those 'the glass is half full' people.

So I am moving past my bad day.

Which is easy when you have a wonderful family to cheer you up.
And a husband who can make you feel better with just a look.
And a coonhound who crawls into your bed at 4am because there is a thunderstorm. And proceeds to sleep on you.

It is so easy to dwell on all the difficult, unfair, crappy things that life hands you. But there is always a bright side. A silver lining. Sometimes you just have to look really hard for it.

If you are like me, adorable dog photos will always cheer you up. Here are a few of last night's dinner guest:

Seamus, world's cutest dog

Turn one negative thought in to a positive one today. And have a HAPPY day!

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Crab Cakes and GPS

It was a beautiful day for a run yesterday! I wish my legs felt the same way. They felt a little heavy all through the run. I should add a better stretching routine post run.
They warmed up a little after a couple miles, but overall the run felt labored.

Mile 1- 10:31
Mile 2- 10:01
Mile 3- 9:47
Mile 4- 9:46
4.04 miles, 40:30, 10:01 overall pace.

After my run Jess and Jeremy came over for dinner. What's better than good company and crab cakes?

The pasta salad was one of my summertime favorites, Tri-Colore Orzo. The beans were from the in-law's garden. The wine was Lucas Vineyards Cayuga White. It is my go-to wine whenever we can't decide what to drink. It is a semi-dry and went especially nice with the spicy Chipotle Dip on the crab cakes.

Baked Crab Cakes
  • 1 pound crab meat, checked for shells (I used claw meat)
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbls olive oil
  • 1 1/2  tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 Tbls Dijon mustard
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 Tbls mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbls plain yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Mix Old Bay through hot sauce in a bowl. Saute pepper, celery, and onion in olive oil until soft. Allow to cool slightly. Mix vegetables with crab. Mix in the sauce, and then the bread crumbs. Refrigerate mixture at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400. Shape cold mixture into 8 cakes and place on cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.
If you want crispy crab cakes, turn them once while baking. I am always afraid they will fall apart, so I turned on the broiler to crisp the tops.

If you want even crispier crab cakes, fry them!

These came out great, and I cleaned my plate. I loved that most of the flavor comes from the crab. I hate crab cakes with tons of fillers. I ended up being a little too full, which is a feeling I hate. But the 2nd crab cake was worth it.

The package I have been anxiously waiting for arrived yesterday! I am the proud owner of my very own Garmin Forerunner 405 GPS watch!

I no longer have to run with my iPhone on my arm. Or wait to run when Jerry isn't using his 405. I got the pretty green color so we can tell them apart. Plus I got a great deal on Amazon Lightning a few weeks ago.
I love that this watch tells you your total time, splits, and pace. I got the model with the heart rate monitor, too. It also auto uploads your workout when it gets in range of your computer. So convenient!
Can't wait to test it out!

Have you ever used a GPS watch while you run?

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Holding on to Summer

I love fall. It's my favorite season. Crisp air, over-sized sweaters, anything pumpkin flavored.
And while the 50 degree temperatures this morning were a nice change, I don't think I am quite ready to let go of summer. I could use a few more weeks of tank tops and flip flops. Plus I like to look out the kitchen window and see this:

Summer is also my excuse to eat pizza every week. Are you getting sick of grilled pizza? Clearly, I am not.

I've been loving the whole wheat crust lately. So crispy!
These pizzas had sauce, cheese, arugula, grilled vegetables, and more cheese. The eggplant was the best!
Jerry has upped his mileage to 60 miles per week for his marathon training. I find sneaking extra cheese into his dinner is a good way to make sure he is getting enough calories. I used an entire 8oz block of mozzarella on two pizzas.
We also had lunch at Dinosaur BBQ, so I am sure neither of us were at a shortage of calories yesterday. Their pulled pork is worth every calorie!

I'm taking advantage of the cool morning by making a steamy bowl of oatmeal for breakfast.
This afternoon I am running 3 miles with Mom.
And an online purchase I have been anxiously awaiting is supposed to arrive today!!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tried and True

I've been in a baking funk lately. I know summer is not prime time for baking, but it seems like nothing I have been making has come out quite right. So finally, I turned to a trusted source: Mom's zucchini bread recipe. It never lets me down, and tastes like my childhood.

Zucchini Bread
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup shortening or butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (optional)
Beat the shortening and sugar. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients, then stir in zucchini. Pour into 2 loaf pans that are generously buttered and floured. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes.
Do not bake for more than 50 minutes, even if it doesn't look done. Trust me.

Jerry has already claimed one loaf for his office, and the other he has been eating for breakfast.

I claimed a different dessert for my breakfast.
Mama Pea's Almond Joy Bars.
This recipe is in her book, Peas and Thank You, Simple Meatless Meals the Whole Family Will Love. It is a bar cookie with oats, almonds, coconut, and chocolate chips. Upon reading the recipe, I had to try these immediately.

They ended up being less like a cookie, and more like a very chewy granola bar. So dense and delicious. The genius of these is that the fat comes from almond butter. They taste so decadent, but have good fats and are high in fiber. I have been addicted to coconut lately, and will definitely be making these again.
These treats are vegan, and therefore do not contain an egg. Next time I make them I am going to add an egg and see if the result is more like a cookie and less like a gooey granola bar. 
They would be a perfect substitute for a granola bar in a kids (or your own) lunch box.

After eating a gigantic Almond Joy Bar and one too many of my brother's homemade onion rings yesterday, my dinner was ruined.
Rojo Rings
I ended up eating this for dinner.

At least it wasn't ice cream.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mussels and Miles

Last night Jerry and I had a wonderful dinner at Ancora with my high school friend Clare. Clare is in the process of moving from Atlanta to New York City and is home in Utica for a little while. I always have so much fun when she visits, and appreciate that she always squeezes in some time to hang out when she is in town.
The food and conversation last night were wonderful.

Arugula beet salad with goat cheese and red onion
P.E.I. Mussels with tomatoes and chorizo
Marques De Riscal Rueda Blanco 2010
My dinner was very good. The salad was a nice blend of flavors; acidic from the balsamic, earthy from the beets, and creamy from the goat cheese. The mussels had onion, tomato, chorizo sausage, in a delicious broth. I was hoping to like the chorizo a little more, but the broth more than made up for it. I refrained from drinking it from the bowl, although Clare said she wouldn't blame me. Instead I soaked it up with some bread.

I was wishing I had eaten a few more carbs with dinner last night, since my plan was to run 7 miles. It turned out not to be a factor.

I ran 7.4 miles in just under 1:11 minutes, for a 9:34 pace. That is pretty much the fastest I have ever run. I actually meant to run slower, but I wear my iPhone on my arm while I run, and I couldn't really see my pace.

I headed out on the canal path, where it was just me and a few chipmunks for the first few miles. I saw Jerry (out on an 18 mile run) around mile 4. He gave me some water from his water belt, which was much needed.

My legs felt pretty tired by the end of the run. I like to finish my long runs feeling like I have a little bit left in the tank. It makes me feel better mentally when I add on mileage on the following week.

My total mileage for the week was 13.4 miles. Next week I am aiming for 15.

I'm off to enjoy my Saturday!