Category Archives: Recipes

Easter Dinner Success!

Living in NYC and away from our family can be tough sometimes when it comes to planning for holidays. We understandably can’t make it home for every holiday. We try to go upstate as much as possible, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. When Hubby and I started signing up for 2012 NYRR races this year, we completely forgot to check what weekend Easter was going to on. So, we signed up for the Scotland run and didn’t realize it was on Easter weekend until a few weeks before it. We decided that maybe this year we would spend Easter weekend in NYC. Sometimes it’s also nice not to have travel on a holiday weekend with all the masses and crazy drivers.

This meant that the domestic and traditional side of me decided I needed to plan a nice holiday dinner. Yes, it was only the two of us. Yes, there was no particular need to go all out. But my inner Betty Crocker had some plans of her own.

After church and some spring cleaning on Sunday, I set to work to make a respectable Easter dinner. I decided earlier in the week to make ham – note that I’d never made it before. If you’ve made ham then clearly you know this was the easiest part of my meal. I don’t know what I was expecting or why I had built up in my head that this was going to be an undertaking, but it was not. I bought a ham at the store, took the plastic wrapping off, added 1/2 cup of water to a pan, put the ham on the pan, covered it with foil, and cooked it in the oven for an hour. Boom – ham done. Simple as that. I even bought a pre-cut ham, which made the whole process even easier.  

Next up on my list was scalloped potatoes. This was kind of a process. I would say my prep time took about 30 minutes for all the slicing and dicing of the potatoes and onions. Here is the recipe:

Au Gratin Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 4 russet potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 onion, sliced into rings
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Butter a 1 quart casserole dish.
Layer 1/2 of the potatoes into bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Top with the onion slices, and add the remaining potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a medium-size saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Mix in the flour and salt, and stir constantly with a whisk for one minute. Stir in milk. Cook until mixture has thickened. Stir in cheese all at once, and continue stirring until melted, about 30 to 60 seconds. Pour cheese over the potatoes, and cover the dish with aluminum foil.  Bake 1 1/2 hours in the preheated oven.

The end result? A total success! This recipe made a LOT of potatoes. We’ve pretty much been eating them all week. Along with the potatoes, I baked some asparagus. I placed the asparagus in glass pan, covered it with butter, parmesan cheese, garlic powder and onion powder, then put some foil over the pan and popped it in the over for about 30 mins. And here’s my plate:

I also threw together a tossed salad for us and enjoyed some wine. And we even used our diningroom and ate at a proper table. I know that probably sounds weird to a lot of people, but I feel like most NYCers will get it. I think that a lot of city people, with small spaces, tend to eat in their livingroom areas for the most part. A lot of NYC apts don’t even have a diningroom. And although we have one, we RARELY use it and I don’t really know why. I mean, it looks really nice and inviting, right….

So we had a very proper Easter dinner in the diningroom and everything. How fancy. And lastly we had some delicious oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

How was your Easter? Did you travel to visit family? Stay at home? Host a dinner?

And now we’re into the next week already, which is Week 12 of marathon training. This is a cut back week for me and I’m really liking it so far. I ran 6 miles on Monday night and then managed to drag myself out of bed on Tuesday morning for a quick 4 miles. I’m hoping the rainy drizzle will end by later today so I can squeeze in 7 miles after work.

It’s so strange for me to think that last year at this time I was getting ready for the Boston Marathon. It does NOT feel like it was a full year ago. What an amazing race. Of course, with the new, ridiculously hard standards, I’ll never make it back there again. So I will just relish the memories!

Who out there is running the Boston Marathon this year? Good luck to all you runners!!

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Week 11, 20 Mile Run, Scotland Run and Veggie Casserole

Wow – that might be my longest, most boring title ever. But it’s a pretty accurate depiction of my past few weeks.  There’s been a lot going on over the past two weeks and I’m going to try to cram it all in this post. Hubby and I just finished up week 11 of marathon training and it was a tough one.  Here is a snapshot of the planned week vs. the actual week for running (err slightly different):

 

So I ended up hitting 40 miles, but it was NOT exactly the way I had planned it. The top white row is what I actually ran: 4 miles on Monday, 8 on Tuesday, 5 on Thursday, 3 on Friday and 20 on Saturday. But that was not at all how I planned the week out. Oh well – in my mind all that matters is the total weekly mileage and the long run. 

Speaking of Saturday’s 20 mile run…

Scotland Run & 20 Miler

I headed over to Central Park for the Scotland Run (10k) a little bit earlier than normal so I could squeeze in about 4 miles before the start of the race. Then I found my corral and a few seconds later Bill found me and we started the race together. There were more than 11,000 people signed up for the race, but I think only about 7,500 finished the race. Either way – it was a lot of people which equaled a lot of weaving around. Awesome.

My first mile was understandably tough because of the amount of people around me. I ran it in about 7:53. I tried to pick it up on mile two and managed to push it a little bit despite the rolling hills, running mile 1-2 around 7:25.  I ran mile 2-3 in 7:19. Mile 3-4 was especially tough because of Harlem Hill. It was a rough climb up that hill and my legs were feeling pretty tired after my somewhat high-mileage past weeks. Finally reaching the top of that hill felt amazing. Then miles 4-5 and 5-6 were just okay. My overall splits were:

After I finished and found Bill, we stuck around for the raffle drawing. I don’t normally do this when I have to run more mileage, but last weekend when we stuck around after the Colon Cancer Challenge, we won theater tickets! Nice. Unfortunately, this week the crowd was much bigger and we didn’t win a darn thing. After that, we dragged ourselves back onto the Central Park outer loop to run 10 more miles. Ohh yeah – it does sound like fun doesn’t it? And…it…was…tough. Taking that long break did not help and the last 10 miles of my 20 mile run were pretty painful. I made the mistake of eating too much post-race food and had a stomach ache pretty much the whole time. All in all, it was kind of a grueling 20 mile run, but at the same, a pretty good race. I actually ran a personal best 10k time – the official NYRR time was: 47:40.

So that was yesterday and Hubby and I spent the rest of the day recovering. He ran 18 miles in total and had a high mileage week as well. And now today is Easter and I am in full on Easter dinner mode. I am making my first official Easter dinner at home and I feel super grown up. But that will be my next post.

For now, I will leave you with a delicious recipe that I made last Sunday – a veggie casserole that supplied me with lots of lunch leftovers.

Veggie Casserole

It was modified from this recipe: Zucchini Herb Casserole
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/zucchini-herb-casserole/detail.aspx
Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice
  •  1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds zucchini, cubed
  • 1/2 cup of green peppers
  • 1/2 cup of mushrooms
  • 1 cup sliced green onions
  •  2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 cups seeded, chopped or canned tomatoes
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided

Directions
Combine the rice and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes, until rice is tender.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a shallow 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.  Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and cook the zucchini, green onions, and garlic 5 minutes, or until tender. Season with garlic salt, basil, paprika, and oregano. Mix in the cooked rice, tomatoes, and 1 cup cheese. Continue to cook and stir until heated through. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Bake uncovered 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

——

If you are looking for an easy, filling meal to help fuel your training, you should definitely give this one a shot. And that’s all for week 11 of marathon training. I can’t believe I’m already at my 20 milers. I have a scale back week this week which means a lovely easy 12 mile run next weekend, which I am VERY much looking forward to. And then it’s on to the next 20 miler. 🙂

What about you – are you a fan of marathon training plans that scale back in mileage every few weeks? I follow Hal Higdon’s plans and love that he gives those little breaks. I find my body always needs it.

2012 Spring Marathon Training Week Two

So, the second week of spring marathon training is OVER! I just finished my long run for the week and it felt great. But before we get to that, I left off in the middle of my kind of tough week.

The rest of the week was pretty busy, but I managed to get my runs in. It’s fun to have Hubby running throughout the week too. And he does most of his runs after work at night, so I’ve started giving that a try here and there as well. On Wednesday night I ran 4 miles along the East River, and then on Thursday I ran 3 miles in the same area.

Wednesday night’s dinner was some leftover veggies mixed with rice and grilled chicken.

Dessert was some fruit…

Thursday night after my run I finished up the veggie lasagna leftover from earlier in the week. I love leftovers, it makes dinner so easy. I do know people who get freaked out by leftover or “used food.” How do you feel about them? And what’s your favorite leftover recipe?

Friday FINALLY arrived and it was a jam-packed day. I was thrilled to get home to relax a bit. We ordered pizza, and I may or may not have snacked on a cadbury egg and some sweettart hearts. :-/

So you can imagine that my gluttony on Friday night did not make for a great feeling start to Saturday. I was feeling a little bloated with carb overload and sugar. But I knew that I had a long run on the schedule and that I would probably feel a little better after it. So I dragged myself out of bed, ate my oatmeal and had some water and coffee, and then geared up for my long run.

I had 11 miles on my plan for the day, so I headed to Central Park to join all the other runners. It was pretty nice out – around 45 degrees – and I was pretty comfortable. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel as sluggish and heavy as I thought I would. I didn’t check my Garmin at all during the run, I just ran whatever felt right.

A few miles into the run, I decided to shoot for 12 miles today. I also decided to run two smaller loops in the park – cutting off Harlem Hill – giving myself a little break.

Other than my nose running non-stop the whole time, I felt really great and strong. I ended up running 12.5 miles and here are my splits:

Not too bad! And as expected, I feel SO much better now. It was like I got rid of all the excess sugar and carb calories and cleansed my system. But lesson learned for the next long run to not overdo it with bad food the night before.

What is your go-to pre-long-run food?

I’m usually pretty good about keep my long run dinner pretty clean – either having pasta or a rice dish. I don’t think pizza is the right fuel for me. Of course, the candy didn’t help either.

Total mileage for the week: 28.15 miles

With my long run done, the rest of the day will be fun. We are meeting up with my sister-in-law and her husband, and our niece and her husband to gallivant around NYC a bit and get some dinner. Should be fun!!

Lastly, I will leave you a lovely Mr. Murphy photo. He hasn’t been on the blog in a while. Here he is having a relaxing night at home…

Hope you have a great Saturday!

 

Mid-Week: The Good, The Bad, The Sweets

Hello Wednesday. I wish you were Friday. So far, this week has been one of those really never-ending weeks. I’m actually glad I’m back in training mode because it’s keeping me sane.

The Bad
Besides having some residual head cold symptoms lingering, it just seems like every day there is another new issue to contend with or another frustration. My motto this week has kind of been two steps forward and eight steps back. And for a control freak like me, that is tough to handle.

The Good: Training on Track
But, I’m trying to focus on the positives. One being that I ran on Monday and Tuesday. Monday I logged 3.5 miles at the gym and Tuesday, I got my butt out of bed in the morning for a brisk 5-mile run. So far, I am on track for my mileage this week.

The Good: Delicious Dinner
Also on Monday, I made a delicious dinner after my run. I baked some tilapia, topped it with butter and lemon, and then sprinkled with dill, cilantro and garlic powder.

Our side dish was a vegetable medley. My colleague brought in some fresh kale from his garden, so that’s what inspired the dish. Along with kale, I added zucchini, potatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, and a few grape tomatoes. It was very filling and delicious. 

The Good: Balade
Ok – so another positive was getting together with a friend last night for dinner and finding a new hidden gem. My friend Katie and I love exploring new ethnic, eclectic cuisines. We used to have a monthly date where we would try new and different restaurants. I think we kind of forgot about that tradition when we joined our book club.

But last night took us back to exploration. We ended up around Union Square and then walked a little south and east. We would up at: Balade – a Lebanese pitza and grill.

The waiter was super nice and helped us with our pronunciation and meal selection. We chose to share a bunch of small plates and it was the perfect amount of food.  We started with some hummus that had a light touch of lemon and was really good.

Then we had the Sambousik: “decadent pastry pockets filled with seasoned ground beef and toasted pine nuts.”  Along with the Grilled Halloumi Cheese: “grilled, sizzling hot cypriot cheese slices served with tomatoes and cucumber.” 

And last we had the Fatayir with Spinach and Feta (my favorite): “mini-pies stuffed with chopped spinach and feta cheese.”  

Unfortunately, I completely forgot to take photos. It’s taking a little time to get back into the swing of things, but I’m working on it.

I guess, upon reflection, although my week has been kind of tough, it’s also had some high points. It’s all about balancing the good with the bad. I’m hoping that my little head cold will work its way out of my system today when I sweat it out at the gym and then eat a healthy dinner.

The Sweets: Sugar, Sugar
I guess I might as well also admit another bad point of my week have been my intense sugar cravings. I don’t know why they are so out of control, but with Valentine’s day candy and cadbury eggs showing up, I’ve found myself veering off my course and making unplanned stops at CVS and 7-Eleven to stock-up on totally unnecessary and unhealthy sweets. It’s my weak spot and I’m totally failing.

My new plan is to allow myself just a hint of the sugar I am craving tonight. I bought those ever-so-delicious-and-addicting sweettart hearts, and I am only allowing myself to eat five mini hearts tonight after a healthy dinner. I will give moderation a shot, and if that fails, I might have to just throw them out.

What about you (if anyone is reading) – how do you squelch temptations? Can you have them in the house or do you have to get rid of them? Can you practice moderation?

 

 

 

 

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Oh What a Productive Sunday

Happy Sunday all! I wish the weekend wasn’t over already. It really flew by. Hubby and I both got our long runs in yesterday, I got a hair cut, and then we went to dinner and a movie.

We tried out a new place about a block away from our house called Felice 83. It’s a new wine bar located in a very tiny space. I felt kind of cramped right away when we sat down. I hate feeling like I can’t really have a conversation with my husband when we’re at a restaurant because the people next to us are basically eating with us.

I got over the tight quarters and checked out the menu. There were some pretty interesting selections on the menu, and I finally settled on the quinoa dish. Hubby and I started off by sharing a salad (overpriced at $15), and we each had a glass of Cabernet. The negative was that, for a wine bar, our glasses of wine were very small. And at $8 and $15 a glass, we were expecting a decent-sized goblet. Not so.

The salad was very good, and my quinoa was delicious. I tried some of Hubby’s dish and it was good too. Overall, I’ll say the place is decent. It offers organic and local selections, so I guess I can see why the prices may be a bit more. However, I think we will be trying some other local places before we go back to this one again.

After dinner, we went to see Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

(Source)

I was a little hesitant about this movie because I knew it would be tough subject. But it wasn’t focused solely on 9/11 – it was really more of a close look at a family who lost a father/husband in one of the buildings. The boy in the movie was so good. He was pretty amazing. It was a very emotional and heart-wrenching movie, and I probably cried for most of it. But I certainly wasn’t the only one – I heard people all around me sniffling too. It was a good movie, but you have to be prepared for it, and in the right frame of mind to watch it.

Sunday
So after our busy Saturday, one might think Sunday would be a relaxed day. Not so. Before I got down to business, I fueled up with a delicious french toast breakfast.

With both of us in training now, we have more stinking (literally) laundry than ever before. It was overflowing and I knew it was going to be a big project. Four loads of laundry (up and down five flights of stairs about 20 times), and it was all finally gone.  So now we can start our second week of training off with clean clothes and an empty laundry basket.

The rest of my Sunday was filled with cleaning, running errands, and then making a delicious veggie lasagna.

Here is the recipe:

Vegetable Lasagna (6 servings)

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/2 chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 3/4 of a bottle of tomato basil pasta sauce
  • 1 (15 oz.) carton of part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 6 hot cooked lasagna noodles (halved)
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I used skim)

Pre-heat the over to 374 degrees. Cook the noodles and then saute the mushrooms through the red onion for 5 minutes. Then add the sauce and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Then spray an 8-inch square baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Line the bottom with 1/2 cup of the tomato mixture, then lay 4 noodles on top. On top of the noodles place 1/2 of the ricotta cheese and then 1 cup of the tomato mixture on top of it. Repeat the layers and end with noodles. Then put the last remaining tomato mixture in a thin layer over the noodles and sprinkle it with mozzarella cheese.

Then bake it covered for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake it for another 20 minutes. Then take it out and let it cool for about 10 minutes.

This is the second time I made this lasagna and it has come out really well both time. And I now have lunch for about four days this week. I love leftovers!

Okay – time to watch the rest of the SAG Awards and head to bed. Week two of training starts tomorrow!

How was your weekend? Anyone training for a spring marathon too?! What races?

A Weekend of Fun…And Not a Photo to Show

Happy Tuesday – hope you all had a nice weekend. I had a fabulous time seeing some great college friends, but not a second of it was caught on camera. We either didn’t have a camera or didn’t think to snap a shot. So now I will artfully describe for you what my weekend entailed and hopefully my wordy description will cut it.

Saturday morning I woke up a little late and was only able to squeeze in a 5-mile run before I had to head out. I had hoped for more, but took what I could get done.

On Saturday afternoon, I headed to Connecticut to my friend’s father’s house for a delightful little BBQ. At said BBQ, we had: chicken, burgers, veggies, burger, corn on the cob, and fruit salad. If that doesn’t scream good-0ld fashioned BBQ, I don’t know what does. It was perfection.

We spent the rest of the day hanging out and catching up, watching an adorable baby gurgle and laugh – you know, all the important stuff.

Alas, the day ended and it was time to think about dinner. Anyone who knows me well knows that this is pretty much how my day is split up: When is the next meal, where will it be, what will I eat and so on. Food rules my life. We headed to my other friend Kim’s house to pick her and determine where to go for dinner.

We hit up Butterfield 8 (yes, there is one in NYC) for a casual dinner  and spent the rest of the evening chatting and catching up.

Sunday I headed home and did laundry, cleaned, etc. for the rest of the day. I finished the evening by baking some delicious Banana Bread. I only remembered to take a “before” photo though.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 1 c. mashed ripe bananas (3 medium or 2 large)
  • 1/2 c. agave nectar
  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • A pinch of sea salt (1/16 tsp.)

Directions:

  1. Coat an 8x4x2-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Mash bananas and set aside. In a medium bowl combine whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and sea salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl combine egg whites, banana, agave nectar, and oil. Once mixed well, add flour mixture all at one time to banana mixture. Stir until moistened. The batter should be lumpy. Spoon mixture into pan.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 to 50 minutes. Test doneness by inserting a wooden toothpick near the center of the bread. The toothpick should come out clean.
  4. Cool in pan on a wire rack for approximately 10 minutes. Remove bread from pan and cool completely on the wire rack.

My weekend ended with Trueblood of course! I thought this week’s episode was REALLY good. And now all of  a sudden its Tuesday evening already!

Sunday Football and Food

So this post is a little bit late, but here it is anyway. Sunday was an uber productive day for me. After the race on Saturday, I pretty much just vegged. So Sunday was go time.

I started the day with a nice breakfast….

Then I cleaned the apartment from top to bottom while jamming out to the music channel (Party station). I finished cleaning in decent time, so then I thought I’d try bringing our laundry to the laundry mat. Usually Hubby brings the giant bag over because there’s so much laundry between the two of us, I can barely carry it. But I only packed the essential stuff to wash and waddled myself over there with our giant bag.

I was feeling pretty darn proud of myself as I loaded the clothes into the washers. However, the feeling quickly turned to utter embarrassment when I realized the machine to refill the wash card only accepted cash and I only had my credit card. I stood for a moment contemplating my options and then reluctantly took all our clothes out of the washers, repacked the bag and trudged back home. At first I was just embarrassed and then it quickly turned to annoyance and then anger at myself and the laundry mat. I huffed and puffed around the apartment and cursed our broken dryer in the basement. Then I cursed the guy who was supposed to get it fixed. And finally I decided I needed to go for a run.

I threw on some warm running clothes and headed out in the 20-degree weather. And you know what, within the first half mile I felt better. I was releasing my tension and anger and working through the issue as I ran. I ran a short three miles along the East River and headed home. And when I entered our apartment, it was like I was a new person.

Do you ever use running as a source of therapy or stress relief?

So instead of pouting, I ran out to the store to get a few things I needed to make dinner. Hubby was away for the weekend and requested “something snacky” for dinner. We had planned to watch the Steelers vs. Jets game at night because Hubby is a HUGE Steelers fan.

So I made a veggie platter to snack on, along with some tostitoes and salsa.

And then I made a Broccoli and Cheese Soup adapted from this Cooking Light recipe.

Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Total: 33 minutes
Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 1/3 cups)

Ingredients
1  cup  chopped onion
2  garlic cloves, minced
3  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1  (16-ounce) package broccoli florets
2 1/2  cups  2% reduced-fat  skim milk
1/3  cup  all-purpose flour  wheat flour
1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
8  ounces  light processed cheese, cubed

Preparation
Heat a large nonstick saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; saute 3 minutes or until tender. Add broth and broccoli. Bring broccoli mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; cook 10 minutes.

Combine milk and flour, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add milk mixture to broccoli mixture. Cook 5 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Stir in pepper. Remove from heat; add cheese, stirring until cheese melts.

It’s not the lightest soup ever, but it was delicious! I won’t make that everyday, but on a cold winter night, it was just perfect.

And while eating dinner, we watched the Steelers kick butt and secure their spot in the Superbowl!