26 October 2011

Pumpkin Muffins

pumpkin muffins

On Sunday, which is the perfect day for baking in my not so humble opinion, I had a craving for pumpkin muffins. Conveniently, I had some pumpkin in the fridge that was beginning to mold. What? I let pumpkin rot? I realize that the general impression you get from food bloggers is that pumpkin is akin to gold. While I do like pumpkin, I don't want to have unhealthy relations with it, nor do I want to bathe in the stuff. Really, it's one of the least tasty squashes out there. Have you eaten a spoonful of the puree? Did you have a reaction to it like a baby being forced to eat green pea puree? Perhaps it would taste better if I made puree from sugar pumpkins, but so far I stand firm in my opinion. Butternut and acorn squash both taste better. The only reason people have a creepy lovefest with it is because they saturate it with sugar, spices, and butter, of which I wholeheartedly approve.

Thus, it was beginning to mold.

pumpkin muffins

I had bookmarked a pumpkin muffin recipe from Muffin Top a long time ago. Despite the relative ease, I hadn't gotten around to making them. Shame on me. The picture of the bright orange and the gorgeous crown captivated me. These were going to be good.

pumpkin muffins

Here is the sugar mixed with the spices. I used a little more than 1 teaspoon of various spices like cinnamon, allspice, fresh nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. I think I used too much, because the end result was a dull brown instead of a vibrant orange. In the Muffin Top recipe, she states that she accidentally used an entire 15 ounce can of pumpkin, so maybe that helped with the color.

pumpkin muffins

Quick breads are great because you just combine the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients separately, then mix them both together until a few streaks of flour remain.

pumpkin muffins

The tops are sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, which gives them a nice crunch and extra spicy flavor.

pumpkin muffins

Twenty-five to thirty minutes later, your kitchen smells like fall and you can dive right into a muffin or three. I was disappointed that mine weren't orange, so I'll have to figure out what went wrong there. But the flavor was amazing, and the muffins were so tender. I'm definitely going to make these again, though I'll add cranberries and pepita seeds next time.

If you made it this far into the post, here is the link to the recipe again so you don't have to scroll up.

24 October 2011

60 Degrees.

The weather can't seem to make up its mind, but I'll take it. Pretty soon, I'll be doing nothing but complaining about the cold and wind. It made for a decent run today, too. Last week, I completed my scheduled 17 miles. I did alright with my two longer runs (and by "longer" I am talking about a mere 4.5 miles), though Sunday's run was challenging because I didn't eat that much prior to going out. Oops.

I worked out a pseudo schedule for the next 13 weeks, working up to 25 miles. It might seem a bit overly cautious to take 13 weeks to work up to 25, though I think taking my time will be better than jumping ahead of myself. Here's what I'm planning on for the next 4 weeks:

total: 18total: 18total: 19total: 19

I don't know why it skipped down that far. Basically, I'm increasing in .5 to 1 mile increments, and I'm moving around the half miles to get longer distances. I feel that this will help me as I increase the duration of the runs without tiring out, and I'll feel more comfortable running more overall. Eventually, I'll be running 5 days a week, but 4 is working out well for now.

As for today, I pushed the pace a little because I seemed to be feeling it. This isn't really a great thing to do, but I'll run more slowly on Wednesday.

4.06 mi 37.44 09:17 pace

Mile 1 - 9:51:
I'm starting to feel more comfortable running again. During the first two weeks, I felt a little awkward and like I lost my running legs. I'm slowly getting back to where I was, which is a good sign. This is such a great time to be running because the temperature and weather caters to wusses like myself.

Mile 2 - 9:19:
Around here I kind of didn't know why I was running so fast. I didn't feel out of breath, but I figured I should have slowed down. However, since this is my shortest run this week, it worked out better this way.

Mile 3 - 9:07:
I purposely kept this mile above 8 so that I didn't stress myself out too much.

Mile 4 - 8:57:
Overall, this run pleases me. Next time, though, I'm going to try a more formal speed work approach, one that won't be as stressful as running 3 miles at a quick pace. I'm not really looking to do much speed stuff, though I don't want to run everything at the same pace. Maybe I'll throw in a few strides so that I pick the pace up just a bit.

Hope you guys are having a good start to your week.

Pork, Broccoli, and Green Bean Stir Fry

Pork, Broccoli, and Green Bean Stir Fry

Remember the dead raccoon I mentioned? Luckily for you, it's still on the road and not in this stir fry.

Pork, Broccoli, and Green Bean Stir Fry

Instead, I used pork. A lot of pork. It might have been two to three pounds, maybe four. I simply sliced some sort of pork roast into tiny slivers (well, I tried to, anyway). Marinating the meat helps flavor it and keeps it tender after cooking. To do this, I whisked corn starch, sesame oil, oyster sauce, and white pepper into egg whites and tossed it with the pork.

Also in the stir fry is farm fresh broccoli, really great green beans, and aromatics like onion, garlic, and ginger. The sauce is simply water, oyster sauce, corn starch, sesame oil, a pinch of salt and a little brown sugar, sriracha, and rice wine vinegar.

Pork, Broccoli, and Green Bean Stir Fry

Farm fresh. The broccoli was sweet, crisp, and full of flavor. The green beans were from the local store, but purchased from local farmers.

Pork, Broccoli, and Green Bean Stir Fry

Since stir fry is prepared over high heat (which is why a nonstick wok is the dumbest creation of all time), all your ingredients need to be assembled and placed close at hand. There is also a procedure:

1. Aromatics - First, you stir fry the aromatic ingredients, like the onion, garlic, and ginger.

2. Vegetables - Next, I add the vegetables, stir frying for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. My goal is to see a nice char on the vegetables.

3. Steaming (if the vegetables need it) - The vegetables won't be cooked thoroughly, and you don't want to continue stir frying or else they'll burn. To cook them, add 1/2 cup water and cover, allowing the steam to cook the vegetables completely. Toss it out into a large bowl, then cook the other vegetables the same way.

4. Meat - The meat is cooked until it's no longer pink. I cooked it in batches because there was so much meat.

5. Sauce -

Pork, Broccoli, and Green Bean Stir Fry

After all the components are tossed together, they're added back to the wok along with the sauce. Once it comes to a boil it will begin to thicken. I let it boil for 30 seconds, then took the wok off the burner, letting the residual heat continue thickening the sauce.

I should also note that every process get salted just a little. This helps to flavor each portion. Add just a pinch so you don't over salt the stir fry. I like to keep a container of kosher salt mixed with white pepper for this.

That's how you make a stir fry. It's a very easy dinner to put together involving just a little prep and cooking. You can play around with vegetable and meat combinations, or use tofu instead. The sauce can be changed depending on what flavorings you add to it. So stay in and stir fry at home!

Print This Recipe

Pork, Broccoli, and Green Bean Stir Fry
Recipe by Christina Provo

Serves 5-6

Ingredients -

2-3 pounds pork roast, sliced thinly into 2-inch pieces
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons corn starch
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup oyster sauce
2 teaspoons corn starch
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons sriracha
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of ground white pepper
1 large onion, chopped into 1-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
2-inch knob of ginger, peeled and julienned
1 head broccoli, broken into florets with 1/2 inch stem
3/4 pound green beans, trimmed, and left whole or broken in half
Vegetable oil or light olive oil
Rice, for serving

Directions -
  1. Place the pork in a medium bowl. Whisk together the egg whites, cornstarch oyster sauce, sesame oil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Pour over the pork and toss until combined. Allow the pork to marinade for 15 minutes.

  2. In 2 cup measuring cup, combine the water through the white pepper, whisking to dissolve the corn starch. Set aside.

  3. Divide the onion, garlic, and ginger in half. Place a large bowl near the stove - this is where you'll put the ingredients that you've finished stir frying. Gather the remaining ingredients and place them nearby. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok over high heat. When smoking, add half of the onion, garlic, and ginger. Stir fry for 30 seconds, stirring with a metal spatula constantly. Add broccoli and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes, or until broccoli begins to char. Pour in 1/3 cup of water; cover, and steam for 1-2 minutes or until broccoli is bright green and tender when poked with a fork. Remove to bowl.

  4. Repeat this process with the remaining onions, garlic, ginger, and green beans, adding more oil before stir frying.

  5. Pour 2 tablespoons oil into the wok. Add half of the pork and let cook, without moving, for 30 seconds. Begin to stir fry, tossing the pork until no longer pink, about 1-2 minutes. Remove to the bowl, and repeat with the remaining pork. Toss everything in the bowl together.

  6. Place the vegetables and pork back into the wok. Whisk the sauce and pour it in. Let it come to a boil and cook for 30 seconds, tossing the mixture. Turn off the heat and let the sauce bubble for 30 more seconds. Remove wok from heat. Serve stir fry with rice.


21 October 2011

Unintentional Speedwork and Roadkill

I wasn't looking forward to my run on Wednesday at all. If you live in the midwest, you would know that it had been raining all day, was cold, and windy. If you know me, you know that I hate running in the rain, I hate the cold, and the wind makes me want to punt dogs. Turns out, though, that I ran better than I would have expected. I didn't get to add on an extra .5 because of time constraints, but I had two more days to make it up. I finished the day with this: 4.05 mi - 00:36 - 08:54 pace

You see, when it's excessively cold or the conditions are just terrible, I unconsciously decided I need to run faster so I finish sooner. The good part this time is that although I started off at a much faster pace than usual, I managed to maintain the effort, speeding up during the subsequent miles, and I didn't feel all too bad at all. Sweet.

Today, I got my "long" run in, running 4.55 miles. I kept the pace slow because that's what I need to do, and I also have a habit of getting ahead of myself after one good run. Also, I ran past a freshly killed raccoon, so be on the lookout for some stew recipes.

4.55 mi - 44:37 - 09:48 pace

Mile 1: 10:01 -

I forgot to take my iron today. I'm just typing this out here now so I remember to take it after posting. It has nothing to do with this mile.

Mile 2: 9:55 -

After each mile, I end up speeding up, slowing down to maintain an even pace, then trying to speed up just a little so I don't go too slow. Am I the only one who does this?

Mile 3: 9:54 -

During this mile, it became very obvious that I overdressed. It was 50°, but I expected it to be colder. Because that's how I am. Fortunately, I wasn't all that overdressed, so I wasn't dying. I also felt pretty good, though for some reason I seem to tire out trying to run a slow pace. I'm weird.

Mile 4: 9:43 -

I sped up a little. I forgot my sunglasses and I was running into the sunlight.

Mile .55: 5:05 -

This was run at a 9:14 pace. I felt alright, though I still seem to be too tired for this pace. I'm hoping that's just because this is my 3rd week back and I'm not where I used to be. Then again, I can't remember the last time a 9xx pace felt easy, even when my race pace was in the high 7s.

It's going to be in the sixties next week. I am overcome with joy.

Frozen Creme Brulee Drink

Frozen Creme Brulee

Foodbuzz Tastemaker sent me this pretty nifty Tervis tumbler. It's shatter-proof, and it keeps your cold beverages cold and hot beverages hot. I drop stuff a lot accidentally, so this is the type of cup I need!

We were asked to show a drink in our tumblers. I couldn't think of anything hot I really wanted to do, so I came up with the idea of frozen creme brulee. What is creme brulee? It's a baked vanilla custard topped with a layer of sugar caramelized by a torch! Don't get too excited -- flame torches aren't required this time. Instead, I show you how to make a very easy caramel sauce. Cool?


To begin, I prepared my custard a day in advance because it needs to be chilled before using. This custard won't resemble the consistency of a pudding becuse that would be disgusting to drink. It needs to be thin and pourable because it will thicken once blended with ice. Think of it almost like an egg nog, though more runny.

If you've never made custard before, fear not. All you do is whisk egg yolks with sugar until light in color and thick and ribbony in texture.
Milk is heated over medium heat with a cinnamon stick for flavor. I used 1% milk because that's all I had, and I wouldn't recommend going any lower than that. You need the fat to help thicken the custard. Whole milk and 2% are best.
After the milk has heated to 160°, one cup of the hot milk is slowly whisked into the egg yolks. This tempers the eggs, preventing the mixture from curdling when added to the saucepan. The tempered eggs get whisked into the rest of the milk and the entire mixture cooks for about 5 minutes, just until thickened. Make sure you whisk constantly! Finally, it gets strained to remove any bits that have been curdled.

Simple enough? Let's continue on to the caramel sauce.

I used to have trouble caramelizing sugar. I used to have trouble making custards, both of which I was able to learn when I joined the Daring Bakers a long time ago. Trial and error, folks, and if I can do it, so can you.

I mention the Daring Bakers because I'm using the caramel sauce from one of the recipes I made with them when I was a member. It's simple to do and practically fool-proof.

caramel sauce

The two most popular ways to make caramel is the straight method, meaning you heat sugar in a saucepan, or the water method where you mix water with sugar. The latter is what we're doing today and will make the process much easier.

First, combine the water and sugar in a stainless steel saucepan over high heat. You can use any type of pan you have, but a stainless steel pans allows you to accurately judge the color of the caramel. Otherwise, you can spoon a little of the caramel onto wax or parchment paper to determine the color.
Caramel goes fast, so don't go anywhere! Once the sugar begins to bubble, it turns colors in a matter of minutes. First, it'll be a jaundice yellow. Once it develops a dark amber color, you very carefully whisk in more water to stop the cooking process. The original recipe says to pour the water through a whole in a sheet of foil because it splatters, though I just stood as far back as I could. Once the water is poured in, continue to whisk until smooth. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the caramel feels tacky. It'll continue thickening as it cools, so you don't want it too thick before you take it off the heat.

Pour it into a container and let it cool completely. That was easy, wasn't it!

When both components are ready, one cup of the custard is blended with one cup of ice. Pour it into your glass, then spoon 2 tablespoons of caramel on top. It tastes great when it's all mixed together!

Frozen Creme Brulee

Print this recipe

Frozen Creme Brulee Drink
Caramel sauce recipe by Shuna Fish Lydon

Serves 4-5

Custard ingredients -

4 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
pinch of kosher salt
4 cups milk
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Caramel ingredients -

1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water

1/2 cup water, for "stopping"

Directions -
  1. Prepare the custard: Pour milk into a saucepan over medium heat. Add the cinnamon stick, and heat to 160°. In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and salt until color is light lemony, and the mixture forms ribbons when it falls from a whisk, about 1-2 minutes (I just used a whisk and arm power).

  2. When the milk reaches temperature, remove cinnamon stick. Slowly whisk in 1 cup of hot milk into the egg yolks to temper. Pour the tempered egg yolks into the saucepan and reduce heat slightly. Whisk for 3 minutes. Strain custard into a container. Add vanilla extract and stir. Let cool completely at room temperature, then cover and chill overnight.

  3. Prepare the caramel sauce: In a small, stainless steel saucepan with tall sides, mix sugar and 1/4 cup water until mixture feels like wet sand. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly, and the sugar turns dark amber in color.

  4. When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water through a piece of foil with a smallish hole in the center. Caramel will jump and sputter about, and the foil keeps it from getting on surfaces and on you.

  5. Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.} My note: It doesn't need to be as sticky as honey because it will thicken upon standing, but it should feel slightly tacky. Cool completely.

  6. Prepare drinks: Pour 1 cup chilled custard into a blender, followed by 1 cup of ice. Cover, and blend until combined. Pour into a tall glass and top with 2 tablespoons caramel sauce. Enjoy!


20 October 2011

Newman's Own Pizza Baked Pasta

Newman's Own Pizza Baked Pasta

The holidays are coming upon us quickly. This usually means despair, gloom, a loss of money, and nothing to eat because you're too tired to cook. Despair not, my friends! Today's recipe, brought to you by Newman's Own and Foodbuzz Tastemaker, is a simple dish to prepare that tastes like you've been slaving away all day.

Newman's Own Pizza Baked Pasta

Newman's Own Pizza Baked Pasta combines the goodness of pizza, like tomato sauce, cheese, and pepperoni with the ingredients of lasagna, like that creamy, cheesy layer made with pureed cottage cheese, eggs, and Italian cheese. You don't have to worry about any layering since it's all stirred together. It's also quick to assemble. Just stop at the grocery store, pick up a jar of Newman's Own pasta sauce, pepperoni, and fresh mozzarella balls and you're halfway there.

For this recipe, I used Newman's Own Cabernet Marinara sauce. The flavor of the wine heightens the taste, and lends complexity to an otherwise standard dish. The fresh mozzarella perline, tiny balls of fresh mozzarella, boost the cheesiness of the sauce. Pepperoni is everyone's favorite, and it's a standard ingredient when I make pizza baked pasta. You can really add anything you want to the mix, like spinach, mushrooms, Italian sausage, olives, etc.

Another helpful tip is that it can be prepped ahead of time, stored in the fridge directly in the baking dish. Make sure your baking dish can be transferred straight from cold to hot, otherwise place the baking dish in the oven as it comes up to the correct temperature.

Foodbuzz supplied me with Newman's Own products and a FlipCam to create a recipe video. In the video, I summarize the recipe directions. Take a look at the kitchen of the Running Foodie, then go out and make some pasta!

Recipe after jump.

Print this recipe

Newman's Own Pizza Baked Pasta
Recipe by Christina Provo

A delicious baked pasta recipe using Newman's Own Cabernet Marinara Sauce.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
Serves: 6-10

Ingredients -

16 ounces dry rigatoni
1 jar Newman's Own Cabernet Marinara Sauce
1 cup cottage cheese, pureed
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup Italian blend cheese
pinch of pepper
8 ounces fresh perline mozzarella balls
5 ounces mini pepperoni, or chopped regular pepperoni
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions -
  1. Preheat oven to 350 °. Spray a 12x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Cook pasta in boiling, salted water for 5 minutes; drain.

  2. While the pasta cooks, whisk the cottage cheese, eggs, Italian blend cheese, and pepper together in a large bowl. Stir in Newman's Own Cabernet Marinara Sauce.

  3. Add the drained pasta to the bowl and stir to combine with sauce. Gently mix in the fresh mozzarella balls and mini pepperoni. Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

  4. After 20 minutes, remove foil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Replace foil and continue cooking for another 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!


17 October 2011

Weekly Running Summary

Yesterday wrapped up another week of running. It went smoothly, for the most part, and I got in 16.5 miles. The .5 was due to an unintended longer run because I misjudged the route distance.

Usually, I don't wear my my heart rate monitor. I had some trouble with rather high heart rates earlier this summer, which I thought was due to the heat and stuff. So I wore it yesterday, and kept an average pace of 10:03 for 4 miles. What was odd is that it climbed up to 177 during the third and fourth mile. A ten minute mile pace should be relatively easy for me, so I don't know what to make of it.

This week, I plan to add .5 miles to two of my runs, and I'll run those at a ten minute pace. The other two runs can be a little faster, like today's run ended up being. I'm just gradually increasing distance to hopefully get up to 25ish by December. If this week goes alright, I'll add another half mile on to one of the longer runs, and keep everything else the same.

For today's run, it was a little windy. That's what happens when you tear down trees for cornfields, one of the midwest's finest achievement. If you can't tell, I hate the midwest.


4.10, 40:07

Mile 1 - 10.19:

Sometimes, the first mile feels decent. Other times, it takes me a while to feel like I'm moving fluidly. Today was one of those other times.

Mile 2 - 9:52:

I slowly sped up. My breathing started feeling a little labored, and I was developing a side stitch.

Mile 3 - 9:34:

The wind was against me, and I kind of wanted to get it over with, so I didn't fight the pace as I sped up. The side stitch was in full swing by 2.5. I continued breathing deeply and it seemed t help.

Mile 4 - 9:23:

I sped up quite a bit this mile. It felt alright, but I wasn't feeling very comfortable because I'm not used to running fast anymore (not that 9s were ever fast for me, but it's all relative).

A promising start to the week that ended with a slightly bloodied toenail. I am enjoying a cup of hot tea with lemon, since windy runs usually make me feel queasy. Tomorrow is a rest day and though I run on Wednesday, I likely won't update with another running post until Friday.

Hope you guys are off to a great week!

Liege Waffles

Liege Waffles

A very long time ago, I bought a box of pearl sugar at a local gourmet store. I had made Liege waffles once before, but that time I just used granulated sugar. Only now did I get around to making them.

Liege Waffles

What is a Liege waffle, you ask, and why do you need special sugar? I will tell you that a Liege waffle, popular street vendor fare in Belgium and other countries, is a type of enriched yeast waffle made with butter, eggs, and milk. How these differ from standard waffles is the pearl sugar, which is mixed in after the dough has risen. This technique keeps the sugar from combining with the dough, which it would if it was added earlier. As the waffles cook, the sugar exposed to the hot iron is caramelized, while the rest of the sugar remains whole, lending sugary crunch to the waffle.

Liege Waffles

So I found myself, on a rainy, dreary Sunday, putting together the dough for Liege waffles. I used the recipe from the back of the box. It was a little vague, so I used my own technique (not one I actually created), and the only modifications made were to use a stick less butter and add lemon zest.

After the yeast is proofed in lukewarm milk, it is added to the flour along with beaten eggs. The mixture was really shaggy and wasn't smooth, but once I kneaded in the softened butter, the texture changed dramatically. Once all the butter was kneaded and the dough came together, I stopped and let it rise for a brief 30 minutes. I probably didn't knead it for 10 minutes, though I didn't feel it was necessary in this instance.

Liege Waffles

Once the dough has risen, the pearl sugar is kneaded in. The recipe called for the entire bag, but I felt that ended up being a little excessive. I had a bit of difficulty getting the sugar thoroughly mixed because there was so much of it. Next time, I would try it with just half a bag and see if it yielded good results.

When the sugar is mixed in, the dough gets portioned into 3 ounce pieces. I got exactly 13 dough balls out of this batch. There is no second rising, so now is the time to heat up the waffle iron while you do this.

Liege Waffles

Now. My waffle iron is a very basic, nonstick machine. It has no brownness setting or timer, save for the green light that turns on and off when a waffle is supposedly done. Because of this, I timed the waffles manually, cooking them for 4-5 minutes before removing them to a wire rack. You don't want to overcook the waffles, lest the sugar cool to be rock hard. At the same time, you want the inside of the waffles to cook. To note, I didn't close the waffle iron completely to allow for the waffles to expand. I was able to barely latch the hinge without letting it flap open.

Did that even make any sense?

Liege Waffles

And there you have it. With these waffles, you don't need syrup. However, they'd be good with hot fudge, ice cream, jam, or whipped cream. I really liked them, and they're a lovely treat.

The only downside is the cleanup. I wet a double layer of paper towels and put it inside the waffle iron, closing down. This released some of the sticky, caramelized sugar. After that, I ironed bread slices, which seemed to work better than the paper towels. Since it wasn't quite cleaned, I let it cool completely (after unplugging the machine) and got to work wiping between the grates. Now I remember why it took me so long to make them.

Print this recipe

Liege Waffles
Recipe by Lars' Own, modified by myself

Makes 12-13 waffles

Ingredients -

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Grated zest of one lemon
3/4 cup lukewarm milk
2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast (I used instant)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 stick unsalted, softened butter, diced into half inch pieces
1 bag Lars' Own Belgian Pearl Sugar (I would probably use less next time)

Directions -
  1. Whisk together the flour, salt, and lemon zest in a large bowl. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the milk and let proof for 5 minutes, or until the yeast is bubbly. Add the yeast mixture and the eggs to the flour, mixing with your hand until a shaggy dough forms. Working with half of the butter, knead it into the dough. The dough might fall apart before it comes back together. Once a cohesive dough is formed, repeat the process with the remaining butter. Knead for 1 minute. Cover with a damp cotton dish towel or plastic wrap; let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

  2. Preheat waffle iron. Add Belgian Pearl Sugar, kneading just until combined. Portion dough into 3 ounce balls and place on a baking sheet. When waffle iron has heated, cook the waffles for 4-5 minutes. Carefully remove from the iron and place on a wire rack to cool slightly before eating (the caramelized sugar will be very hot).

Serving Suggestions
In Belgium, sugar waffles are eaten at any time of the day - breakfast, coffee breaks, or dessert. Sugar waffles taste great and remain crispy either cold or warm. Serve plain or drizzle with warm melted chocolate or caramel. Also try them with a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy!


14 October 2011

Marzetti Simply Dressed Salad Dressing

Marzetti Simply Dressed

I usually make my own salad dressings. It's easier to control what goes in it, and you can adjust the flavors to your own preference. When I saw that Marzetti Simply Dressed salad dressings were being offered to review by Foodbuzz Tastemaker, I decided to give it a try. The reason why I was curious was because Simply Dressed is all natural, made with real cheese, extra virgin olive oil, and no additives (save for xanthan gum and cultured whey).

The flavor is really tasty, without an overwhelming, heavy blue cheese. The texture is thick, but not too globby. Mixing this dressing with roasted garlic would make it taste even better. They have a decent selection of flavors, like Greek Feta, Champagne, and Ginger Sesame, so if you're ever in need of a natural, flavorful store bought dressing, Marzetti is a good brand to try.

Layered salad with Marzetti Simply Dressed

I made a simple layered salad that I topped with the dressing for dinner last night. Two different lettuces were chopped and layered with sliced bell peppers, chopped chicken, black olives, and then the dressing. The salad was covered and refrigerated for an hour.

Marzetti Simply Dressed

I'm not entirely sure what the point of a layered salad is since it all gets tossed together, but I think it's made in such a way so that the lettuce stays crisp while the ingredients are chilled. Usually, the lettuce starts to wilt once it's coated in dressing, though that usually only happens at room temperature. It's nice to be able to make a salad in advance.

Giveaway Winners

Hope everyone is enjoying their Friday! Since it's Friday, I'm picking the winners for the two giveaways I held.

First up is for the Yoplait Frozen Smoothie & Prize Pack giveaway. The winner, chosen by Random.org, is:
positiveregard, 06 October, 2011 18:15

I've been on an orange smoothie kick lately thanks to my visit to a local apple & pumpkin orchard. Frozen mango, pumpkin puree, cinnamon and soy protein powder!


The winner for the Larabar giveaway is:
Sarah, 12 October, 2011 21:36

most of the time i run first thing in the morning and don't eat, but before a long run i like a small bowl of oatmeal (i can't eat alot, so i just eat some gus/fruit chews during the run) or toast.

Congratulations to you, too! Winners, please email your shipping info to christina@runningfoodie.com so I can get your prizes out to you.

12 October 2011

This Evening's Run and A Larabar Giveaway

Thanks for your comments on Monday's post. It's easy to forget that running ruts are just that -- a rut that eventually goes away. It doesn't help when all of your running has been a rut, but I'm sure that's partly my own fault. Setting a tiny goal should help keep my focus, and eventually I'll figure one out. Any thoughts?

Day two of my week of 4 milers ended with success. I felt a tiny bit weird the first half mile, but settled into a nice rhythm ('rhythm' is an awkward word). My pace averaged out to 9:50 minute miles, which is just fine since I'm keeping an even intensity. I always speed up the last mile, but not to a sprint pace.


1. 10:13
(Remember what I said about the first mile being slow? Well, it's slow. There were also dogs that jumped out at me, so I had to stand there for a few seconds to let them know who was boss before continuing on.)

2. 9:51
(I didn't just jump to a pace 20 seconds under my first split. Most of that happened gradually after the 1.5 mark. I also started getting some side stitches, so I made sure to focus on breathing deeply.)

3. 9:41
(I may have been getting a little tired at this point, but I always do.)

4. 9:25
(There was a downhill, the hill I ran up during the first mile. I also sped up a little by shortening my stride, but I didn't feel like I was forcing it. The dogs were inside this time, except for Fluffy, who I gently nudged with my foot on Monday. Because I win.)

Post run.

Then I came home and drank a smoothie.

Larabar Giveaway

I have a giveaway for you folks. I contacted the Larabar people and inquired about a review. They also offered to give 6 bars away to my readers. You've all heard about these, so I'm not going to explain the concept except to say it's like eating dried fruit and nuts, without all the chewing. The bars are flavored with natural ingredients, like unsweetened coconut and extra virgin coconut oil. I ate the coconut cream pie and declared it my favorite. The coconut flavor shone through and it reminded me of scooping the white layer of coconut from the can of coconut milk. They're not sticky or excessively chewy, and they're the perfect pre-run snack. I like that they're about 200 calories because that seems to keep me filled without being too much.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment and let me know what you like to eat before working out. I'll pick the winner on Friday. (US residents only, please.)

Larabar Giveaway

Nubs of coconut chunks!

Peet's Coffee and Chocolate Crepes with Caramelized Banana Sauce

Peets Coffee + Chocolate Banana Crepes

Here in South Bend, IN, it was a big deal when a very well known coffee chain (rhymes with "sucks") first rolled into town. The city rejoiced with jubilant glee when an equally well known doughnut chain showed up next. Basically, unless a popular chain feels it can make it in South Bend, we don't get it (South Bend -- also rhymes with "sucks"). This means we don't get some of the smaller chains, like Peet's Coffee. I've heard great things about them, but the only time I experienced their coffee for myself was at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. I dug it. So when Foodbuzz Tastemakers offered up some Peet's Coffee to review, my heart skipped.

Peets Coffee + Chocolate Banana Crepes

Peet's has unveiled two new medium roast coffees. I typically go for a dark, deep roast, though because I pretty much can't tolerate coffee anymore, I figured a lighter roast would be easier for me to drink. And to actually finish a cup.

The two roasts are a Café Domingo, a blend of Central and South American coffees, described by Peet's as a medium roast cup with hints of toffee and clean crisp finish, and Café Solano, a blend of African, Indo-Pacific, and South American coffees that is lively and aromatic. Peet's experts describe it as a world blend with floral notes and a subtle fruit essence for a lively, yet rounded cup.

Peets Coffee + Chocolate Banana Crepes

Peet's and Foodbuzz asked us to pair the coffee with a breakfast/brunch or dessert dish. What I came up with was a dark chocolate crepe with a caramelized banana sauce for a filling. Think of all the flavors going on here - the cocoa in the crepes, the caramelized blend of butter, brown sugar, and a splash of whole milk, then the tropical banana. I feel that both the coffees would be excellent when paired with this dish, though I chose to try it with the Café Domingo. I wanted a coffee that didn't have as many flavor undertones so it compliment the dish without competing with the flavors.

For a medium roast, I really enjoyed my cup of Peet's. It didn't have a watered down taste, but at the same time wasn't as strong as a dark roast. It was full of flavor and easy to drink without any bitterness. Just the impression I was left of with Peet's from my one lone experience way back when.

Peets Coffee + Chocolate Banana Crepes

Foodbuzz gave me some coupons for $2 off a bag of Peet's medium roast to pass around, so I will mail a coupon to the first five people who email me at christina@runningfoodie.com with shipping info.

Peets Coffee + Chocolate Banana Crepes

So, about them crepes. I adapted my favorite crepe recipe from my mom's Joy of Cooking, very old edition. We make it for birthdays, and the recipe is simple to whip together. Unlike other recipes, there is no fat in these crepes. I don't really think it needs any.

To modify the recipe, I replaced some flour for dark cocoa powder. At first, I thought I made a mistake by using so much cocoa, so to compensate for the rather intense taste I added a few tablespoons more sugar. It ended up working out well.

Peets Coffee + Chocolate Banana Crepes

The highlight of this dish turned out to be the caramelized banana sauce. I didn't follow any recipe, I just added some butter to the skillet. When it melted and turned a little brown, I stirred in brown sugar.

Peets Coffee + Chocolate Banana Crepes
Peets Coffee + Chocolate Banana Crepes

Banana slices are added with a pinch of kosher salt. The mixture is left to bubble away for a few minutes, then I removed it from the heat, added a splash of milk, and mashed the bananas into the sauce. It was amazing.

Peets Coffee + Chocolate Banana Crepes

Folks, these were some serious crepes, filled with a serious sauce. I can't rave about this more than I already am. Usually, I eat crepes filled with jam, and they're good. But the flavors in this banana sauce were so complex, yet simple that it took the crepes to a whole other level.

Peets Coffee + Chocolate Banana Crepes

I'm not going to leave the crepe recipe here. Perhaps another post will be dedicated to crepes, but I will leave you with the caramel banana sauce. Use it with your favorite crepe recipe, or use it to top waffles. Or straight from a spoon. I don't judge.

Peets Coffee + Chocolate Banana Crepes

Print this recipe

Caramelized Banana Sauce
Recipe by Christina Provo

Ingredients -

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 firm, ripe bananas, sliced
Pinch of kosher salt
1 tablespoon whole milk or whipping cream

Directions -
  1. In a skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Once it melts, watch it carefully until it just begins to brown. Stir in the brown sugar. Add the sliced bananas and salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until a spoon leaves a trace in the sauce and the bananas have softened. Remove from heat.

  2. Stir in milk or cream. Coarsely mash the bananas to blend into the sauce. Serve, or lick straight from the skillet.


10 October 2011

Runnin' Talk

I haven't talked about running in a while. In fact, I don't think I've mentioned it in the past 6 months. That's because this is the worst year of running ever. I got burnt out towards the end of last year, went into the winter dreading the elements, and got off to a slow start this year. I seemed to have breathing issues not related to pace, asthma, or allergies. This could be an iron deficiency symptom, but I don't know for sure. (Yes, I do take an iron supplement - I've always been on the low side when I have had blood work in the past.)

My other problem has been the heat and humidity. If the temperature is over 75° and the humidity is over 50%, I struggle on even a simple 2 miler. Most of my runs have ended in disgrace, having to stop and walk after 1 - 1.5 miles of slowly trudging along. It went alright when I got out early, like around 6 am, though I didn't keep that up.

So, for much of the year, for every week I ran I ended up taking an unintentional week off, which hasn't helped me at all any. I didn't have much focus since I decided not to train or enter any races, and was left to my own whims. This made it very easy to slack off. In retrospect, I should have made up some sort of running schedule, but I didn't see the point of it at the time. On the upside, I found a total of .25¢ this summer.

Now that the weather is cooling down and the humidity has tempered, I'm having a somewhat easier time getting back into a rhythm. Last week, I ran a measly 16 miles. I ran four 4 milers, though I added walking breaks after 2 miles. Each subsequent run, I would add another half mile of running and decrease one of the ralking portions. I kept my pace slow so as not to tire myself out. This week, I'm not going to increase the distance at all, though I'm going to try and run each run through without walking, keeping the pace slow. Hopefully it'll go alright and I won't meet with any major disaster.

I'll try and make a better attempt to blog about it, though it's not really going to be helpful or informative. I figure complaining about it on here is better than subjecting anyone to it in person, so feel free to ignore me.

07 October 2011

Pumpkin Spice Granola with Crisco Imported Olive OIl

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Fall is all about pumpkin. You'll see it in breads, pies, drinks, and more. You've probably also seen it in oatmeal. I can't do that, because it still tastes a little raw that way, but it does give baked goods a great flavor. So, I created a batch of pumpkin oatmeal. This granola is packed full of oat clusters, nuts, pepita seeds, and dried fruit, and will be the highlight of your breakfast.

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Since the granola I make has oil, I used Crisco Imported Light Tasting Olive Oil instead of vegetable oil. I received these bottles from the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, only they arrived a month after the deadline to post a recipe. However, being grateful for still having received them, I wanted to use the products in a recipe. Olive oil has many benefits, and by using it in granola you have an even healthier start to the day.

Pumpkin Spice Granola

The light tasting olive oil is neutral in flavor, making it perfect for baked goods. A too pronounced olive taste, like from extra virgin, just wouldn't pair well with the sweet flavors here.

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Along with the olive oil, brown sugar, honey, pumpkin puree and egg whites are mixed to create the glaze that coats the oats. Following the recipe I made for my Holy Grail Granola, vanilla extract and baking soda were stirred after removing the mixture from the heat.

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Like with my other recipe, I used a combination of old fashioned oatmeal and coarsely ground oatmeal, since I didn't have quick oats. The finer oats help create the clusters. Wheat bran was added to give it more nutrition, and can be substituted with wheat germ or flax seed meal. For crunch, I chopped up walnuts and tossed in raw pepita seeds. The green color adds nice pop alongside the dried cranberries that are added later.

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Since you can't have pumpkin without spices (well, you can, but it wouldn't be the pumpkin we all know and love), cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and cloves are stirred into the oats. It smelled great then, but it smelled even better as it baked!

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Stir in the liquids and watch as clumps of oats begin to form while mixing it all together. After its baked and cooled, the oatmeal crisps up. Dried cranberries are stirred in at the very end. This would also be tasty with dried cherries or blueberries, too.

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Now that's my kind of pumpkin oatmeal.

Print this recipe

Pumpkin Spice Granola
Recipe by Christina Provo

A delicious autumnal granola flavored with pumpkin and spices

Yields many 1/2 cup servings

Ingredients -

3 cups old fashioned oatmeal
2 cups quick oats (or old fashioned oats, coarsely ground)
1/2 cup wheat bran or germ
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raw pepita seeds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1/2 cup light olive oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
12 ounces dried cranberries

Directions -
  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Lightly coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the oatmeal, wheat bran, nuts and seeds; stir in the spices until dry ingredients are evenly coated.

  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the brown sugar, honey, pumpkin puree, and oil until combined. Cook just until mixture begins to simmer, and brown sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; stir in the vanilla and baking soda.

  3. Pour wet ingredients into the bowl with the oats. Using a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir until the oats are thoroughly coated. Pour out onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or until granola is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely. When granola has cooled, mix in the dried cranberries.


06 October 2011

Yoplait Smoothie Review + Prize Pack Giveaway

Yoplait Smoothie Review + Prize Pack Giveaway

Everyone loves smoothies. Well, almost everyone. I like to drink them after a run, or on any day that's overwhelmingly hot and humid. They are refreshing, and better than eating fruit and yogurt alone. There is also so many ways to make them.

You've probably seen Yoplait yogurts. Unbeknownst to me, Yoplait also offers frozen smoothie packets. Each packet contains enough fruit for 2 servings and delivers 50% of the recommended daily value of calcium. Thanks to MyBlogSpark and Yoplait, I received a coupon to try the smoothies for myself. I was supposed to review the new Chocolate+Banana flavor, but I wasn't able to locate it at the store. Each pack retails for $3.59 and can be found at in the frozen fruit aisle in your grocery store.

Yoplait Smoothie Review + Prize Pack Giveaway

Since chocolate+banana wasn't available, I got the Blueberry+Pomegranate. The packet contains mostly blueberries, and pomegranate juice concentrate-flavored yogurt cubes. Each drink totals out to around 150 calories per 8 ounces when made with skim milk, but I used whole because skim milk is disgusting. It came out really thick this way, so I had to add a little more milk.

Yoplait Smoothie Review + Prize Pack Giveaway

The smoothie was good, but tasted a little on the sweet side. I was surprised, since the nutrition label stated that each serving has 12 grams of sugar. That's really not bad at all for a commercial smoothie. Perhaps it was the whole milk? Who knows. The texture was good, but separates when left to stand for a little. Flavor-wise, though, it was good and didn't just taste like blueberries.

If you'd like to try Yoplait Smoothies out, you can print a coupon out for $1 off.

Giveaway Info

Yoplait Smoothie Review + Prize Pack Giveaway

Along with a coupon to try out the smoothie, Yoplait has provided a pretty cool prize pack! If you're looking to rest up before the holiday season, this pack will really help you out. Along with a reusable Yoplait Smoothie tumbler, you will get a VIP coupon for a sample of Yoplait Chocolate Banana Smoothie, a neck pillow, and a lavender eye mask.

Yoplait Smoothie Review + Prize Pack Giveaway

I think I'm going wear the eye mask (which smells great, and lavender supposedly helps you relax - perfect for dealing with morons this upcoming holiday season!) as a headband, and if I come across someone I want to ignore, I'll pull the mask down over my eyes and tell them that nobody's home. Good idea, right?!

So if you'd like to get your own prize pack, here's how:
  • Comment on this post and tell me what your favorite smoothie is, or when you like to drink them

  • Tweet: "@yoplaitsmoothie +Prize Pack Giveaway on She Runs, She Eats http://bit.ly/nMQPUt ". Leave a comment here to let me know you Tweeted

  • Like Yoplait Smoothie on Facebook and leave a comment on their wall saying you were referred by me (include this link: http://bit.ly/nMQPUt). Comment again to let me know

  • Like She Runs, She Eats on Facebook. Comment again to let me know.

Four separate entries to increase your chance to win! Giveaway ends Friday, October 14 at noon, and is open to US residents only.

Good luck!
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