Saturday, December 28, 2013

Blogger Holiday Gift Exchange

Hello all!

I hope you've been enjoying the holiday season. I've been busy spending time with family and friends, not to mention beginning my Bachelor's degree program at Johnson and Wales - lots of work! But I wanted to share with you just a little of my holiday fun.

This year, I participated in a Blogger Holiday Gift Exchange hosted by Michelle from A Healthy Mrs., and it was a lot of fun. I received an awesome gift from Steffani at With Love from the Vine - an ebelskiver pan and mix, and some delicious pomegranate jelly!

I was so excited to have one of these pans, I've always eyed them and thought that those little pancake puffs must be so fun! I can now say that they are, indeed, lots of fun.



I followed the directions on this ebelskiver mix and they turned out to be so delicious! They're crispy on the outside and fluffy and eggy on the inside; and divine with pomegranate jelly, as Steffani suggested. I know they're a traditional Danish holiday treat, but I thought maybe they'd get along with all of our Swedish Christmas decorations as well. :)


A big thank you to Steffani for this gift! I am so excited to keep experimenting with delicious ebelskivers.

If I don't pop back in before Tuesday, have a fantastic rest of 2013! And thank you, as always for reading my blog; it's been such a fun year of food exploration.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Vegan Pumpkin Pudding

Less than two weeks until Thanksgiving! Hooray!

If you need an awesome dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan pumpkin dessert that tastes like heaven...you need to make this pudding. And if you want to make it into a pumpkin pie, just add another tablespoon of cornstarch and pour it into a pre-baked pie crust before letting it set in the fridge.

Vegan Pumpkin Pudding

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 2/3 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions:
  1. In a pot, whisk together the pumpkin, brown sugar, cornstarch, and pumpkin pie spice. Slowly whisk in the almond milk.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until very thick, whisking constantly.
  3. Divide into four ramekins or small bowls, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.




 
 
 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Simple Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

I have a super simple recipe to share with you today: roasted potatoes. It's really more of a method than a recipe, since you don't necessarily need to measure (and since I don't really know how many potatoes I used), but it's a great method, nonetheless.

I dug my teeny tiny potatoes out of the fingerling potato bin at the farmers' market, but I know that Trader Joe's sells them as well. If you can't find potatoes just tiny enough, halve some small ones or dice up larger Yukon gold potatoes. Just know that you'll really miss the pop of teeny tiny potato skins surrounding a creamy, tender center. Yum.

Simple Rosemary Roasted Potatoes


Ingredients:
  • about 1.5 lbs baby potatoes (guesstimation)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped (about 1 teaspoon)
  • quick drizzle of olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with foil, parchment paper, or a silicon baking mat.
  2. Toss all ingredients in a bowl, then spread in a single layer on the prepared sheet pan.
  3. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the onions are caramelized and the potatoes are tender and browned. Season with more salt and pepper if needed.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Rosemary Raisin Pecan Crisps

During the holidays, I become obsessed with beautiful, rustic cheese plates. And my favorite accompaniment to those cheeses? These crisp crackers, especially the rosemary raisin pecan ones. They're awesomely delicious and aren't loaded with ingredients I can't pronounce. So what's the problem? They're about $7 a box at Whole Foods. Yeah. So I took matters into my own hands and created the perfect replication of these crunchy, crispy, earthy, nutty, addictive crackers!

Rosemary Raisin Pecan Crisps


Ingredients:
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk (dairy or non-dairy, I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1/4 cup sucanat or light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring just until combined. Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan.
  3. Bake for about 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, then remove the loaf from the pan.
  4. Wrap the cooled loaf in plastic wrap or place in a tightly sealed plastic bag and freeze for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight (this makes it easier to slice thinly).
  5. With a sharp serrated knife, cut the loaf in half lengthwise, then slice as thin as you can crosswise. 
  6. Lay the slices in a single layer on parchment paper-lined baking sheets, and bake in a 350 degree F oven for 15 minutes. Then flip and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until deep golden brown and crispy. Keep in mind that they will crisp up a little as they cool, so don't bake them until they're so crispy that they're burnt!



The progression of a perfect bite: rosemary raisin pecan crisp, goat cheese, cranberry apple butter, pepitas and chopped pecans.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Celery Root and Apple Soup



Happy November!

Now that it's November, it's officially socially acceptable to start planning a Thanksgiving menu and taste-testing holiday recipes, right? My goal is to create a whole bunch of Thanksgiving-friendly recipes this month, mostly side dishes or appetizers, because that's where you can get really creative! And I'm sure my heart will desire loads of holiday baked goods, so don't be surprised if pumpkin pops up again (and again, and again).

Here's one soup that would make a fantastic start to your Thanksgiving meal: Celery Root and Apple Soup. If you've never worked with celery root (aka celeriac), it can be a little intimidating. But once you get past the knotty-looking exterior, it's just like working with a peeled potato. To peel the celery root I used a peeler near the top, where the skin is a little smoother, and a paring knife near the bottom, where things get messy. Celery root has a fresh celery and fennel flavor with the texture of a turnip/potato/root vegetable, making it great for pureed soups or adding to mashed potatoes for a different take. You can also eat it raw--in class the other day we made a salad with julienned celery root and apples; that's where the flavor inspiration came from with this soup!
celeriac

Celery Root and Apple Soup

(Not sure why this picture looks so blurry--click on it for a clearer view!)
Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 fist-sized celery root bulbs, peeled and diced
  • 3 medium apples, peeled and diced (I used Macintosh)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped ginger
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock or broth
  • about 1 cup milk (dairy or nondairy)
  • salt, pepper, and ground nutmeg to taste
  • chopped apples, walnuts, sage, and black pepper for garnishing
Directions:
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, saute the onion in the olive oil for about 5 minutes, until translucent.
  2. Add the celery root, apples, and ginger; saute 5 more minutes.
  3. Add the sage and stock or broth, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.
  4. Once at a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes or until the celery root and apples are tender.
  5. Puree the soup in a blender, then stir as much or as little milk as you'd like. Keep in mind that the soup will thicken as it cools, so if you're planning on serving it the next day, wait and stir in the milk as you reheat it.


I seem to do this thing where I post a recipe and then spontaneously talk about running afterwards, so I may as well keep up with that format now...

In this week's running news...I ran the Marine Corps Marathon last Sunday! I use the word "ran" very lightly here, because I walked a good 1/3 of the race, but I finished nonetheless. 

 I won't go through the race mile by mile, because after mile 10 it would be a lot of "do I really have __ many miles left?!!) and after mile 20 it would be a lot of "@#$% my legs WON'T move," so I'll spare you the grueling details and focus on the exciting stuff. Like these parachuting Marines at the starting area! All those little tiny dots are parachuters, and they all pulled out huge American flags before they landed--so incredible!

Me at mile 20! I caught a second wind between miles 16 and 20, so I was looking great right here. Then it went downhill (NOT literally) from there.


And Finally, the finish! I don't know who had the idea of sneaking in an uphill finish, but it was not fun. After getting my bling and downing several cups of free watermelon, I was smiling again.


Thanks mom and dad for cheering me on! I loved seeing you and this awesome sign so many times, I don't think I could have done it otherwise!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Simple, Healthy, Awesome Pumpkin Bread

The title pretty much sums this one up. It's simple--no streusel toppings, mix-ins, or glazes (though feel free to add your own). It's healthy--100% whole wheat, minimal sugar. It's awesome (as in amazingly delicious, moist, spicy, and comforting).

The bread needs no more words!

Simple, Healthy, Awesome Pumpkin Bread


Ingredients:
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup milk (dairy or nondairy; I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 2/3 cup sucanat or light brown sugar
  • 1 whole egg + 2 egg whites (or just use 2 whole eggs)
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Directions:
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, milk, sucanat or sugar, and eggs.
  3. Add in the remaining ingredients and whisk just until combined.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  5. Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and allow to cool on a wire rack. Or gobble it up while it's still warm.


Okay, maybe a few more words can be said about the bread... Words like "it's even more awesome with homemade ginger cranberry apple butter." Yeah, that should do it. 

Ginger Cranberry Apple Butter


Ingredients:
  • about 2 1/2 cups diced apples (no need to peel them; I used Macintosh)
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons sucanat or light brown sugar (or even maple syrup)
  • 1 tablespoon peeled, chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/3 cup apple juice or apple cider
Directions:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium pot, cook over high heat until the apple juice is rapidly boiling.
  2. Reduce to medium heat, cover, and cook for 5-10 minutes, until all of the cranberries are popped and the apples are tender.
  3. Transfer the sauce to a blender and blend until smooth. 
  4. Pour the sauce back into the pot and cook over medium-low heat until it's thickened as much as you'd like. Mine was the consistency of jam or preserves. Make sure you stir frequently to prevent burning.

Marine Corps Marathon update: ONE WEEK! I ran 3 miles on the treadmill yesterday with no ankle pain, but my ankle is a little sore today...not really a good sign. Right now, I'm hoping I can bang out the marathon with plenty of walking breaks and be able to continue training for the Dopey Challenge in January without too long of a setback. Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Butternut Squash Risotto

What's more comforting than creamy risotto with roasted, sweet butternut squash? Nothing.

I'm so glad I received a request for a recipe for butternut squash risotto, because it's really exactly what I want to eat all season long, and now I have a go-to recipe for it!

I made this risotto with short-grain brown rice for its whole grain goodness, but also because it's nuttier, chewier, and heartier than white rice, which I think makes for an even more satisfying dish.

Butternut Squash Risotto


Ingredients:
  • 1/2 a medium butternut squash (I used just the neck), cut in 1/2-3/4 inch cubes
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups short grain brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • ground nutmeg
  • olive oil cooking spray
Directions:
  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil, then spray with cooking spray.
  2. Spread the butternut squash cubes on the baking sheet, spray evenly with cooking spray, then sprinkle with paprika, cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 30 minutes, until browned on the edges and soft.
  3. Meanwhile, place rice in a medium pot and fill the pot half-way with water (no need to measure). Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain (but do not rinse) the rice.
  4. In a large, shallow pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Add the rice and stir until any excess liquid from the rice has cooked off.
  5. Add the vegetable stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until the liquid is absorbed after each addition. Once you have added all 3 cups of stock, you should be left with a creamy, loose rice that is fully cooked.
  6. Stir in the fresh sage, salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste, and the roasted butternut squash.
Notes:
  • Short-grain brown rice can be found in most supermarkets, and can easily be bought fairly inexpensively in the bulk section at stores like Whole Foods. If you don't want to use brown rice, you can substitute regular Arborio rice, and just skip the step where you parboil the rice.
  • Speaking of parboiling the rice, I did that to cut the cooking time. Normally, brown rice takes about twice as long as white rice to cook, so making risotto would be a pain in the neck. Parboiling the rice didn't affect the creamy texture but cut out a huge chunk of time!
  • When you drain the rice after parboiling, do not rinse it! This will remove the starch from the outside of the grains, and that's what we need to make creamy risotto.
  • If you bought a whole butternut squash, like me, here's my suggestion for using it in this recipe: Cut the squash across where the neck ends and the bulb starts. The neck is solid and can be cubed easily after being peeled. However, the bulb holds all the seeds and is a pain to cube. So I cut the bulb in half vertically, scooped out the seeds with a spoon, and roasted the halves cut-side up alongside the cubes to make "bowls". The bowls need to bake for an hour, so just put them back in the oven for another 30 minutes after removing the cubes.
  • Don't leave out the nutmeg. Just don't.
  • Traditionally, risotto is finished by stirring a pat of cold butter in at the end to make it richer and improve the texture. I didn't do it, but if you're making this for a special occasion--go ahead and stir it in. You probably won't regret it.
Enjoy the holiday weekend and keep the requests coming!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Waffles

With October comes awesome fall weather that makes me crave all things pumpkin and spiced for breakfast with hot coffee. Enter these pumpkin spice waffles. They will definitely be a staple in my book for fall weekend breakfasts and I already can't wait to make them again so I can freeze them and stick them in the toaster before class!

Pumpkin Spice Waffles
 Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
  • 3 tablespoons hot water
  • 6 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons sucanat or brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Directions:
  1. In a small bowl, mix the flaxseed meal and hot water. Set aside to thicken.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the sucanat, pumpkin pie spice, flour, and baking powder.
  3. Stir the pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, almond milk, and flaxseed mixture into the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.
  4. Heat a waffle iron on high heat, spray well with cooking spray, then drop a large spoonful of batter onto the iron and cook until deep golden brown.
  5. Make sure you spray the waffle iron well between each waffle or they will stick. Trust me.
 
 
Make these ASAP, and then go for a run for me, since I'll be on the sidelines for a little bit. I attempted a 20 mile run with Team in Training as my last long run before tapering for the Marine Corps Marathon and made it a whopping 6 miles before having to drop out. My ankle started aching around mile 4 and had turned into a sharp, stinging, crippling pain by mile 6. No fun.
 
I'm still really bummed about today, since I was so excited to get in another long run and be super prepared for the marathon in a few weeks. But things like this happen, I guess, so I'm working on wrapping up my pity party and doing everything I can to get healthy so I can get back out there!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Hey, I warned you to be prepared for an overload of squash now that fall is upon us, so you can't say you didn't see this one coming!

I used up another butternut squash that I bought at Whole Foods last weekend (they were 50 cents a pound!) in this super velvety, spicy, and comforting soup. I'd been day-dreaming up this soup during class all week, and I'm happy to say that it exceeded my expectations for a filling fall meal. I added red lentils to the soup to bump up the protein and fiber content so that it stuck with me a little longer without changing the gorgeous color of the butternut squash. I garnished the soup with plain greek yogurt, green onions, and butternut squash seeds that I tossed in curry powder, cumin, salt, and pepper, and roasted at 400 F until golden brown.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup


Ingredients:

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced (you can usually find pre-peeled and diced butternut squash in the produce section this time of year)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy alternative)
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • salt and pepper


Directions:

  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. 
  2. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Saute until the onion is translucent, 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add the butternut squash, curry powder, and cumin. Cook for a minute or so, until the spices are fragrant.
  4. Stir in the lentils and vegetable broth. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce to low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the lentils and squash are tender.
  5. Blend the soup until smooth in a blender, in batches if needed. Stir in the milk and lime juice, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

As for news these days, I've got some pretty exciting stuff to share. I've just been accepted into the Bachelor's of Science Degree program in Culinary Nutrition! That means that I will be awarded with my Associate's Degree in Culinary Arts at the end of November and will start work towards my Bachelor's in December. I'm super excited! My first classes for next term:
Lifespan Nutrition
Intro to General and Organic Chemistry
Medical Food Service Management
Vegetarian Cuisine (culinary lab)

It should be a difficult course load, but fun to finally study what I'm really here for; I'm definitely up for the challenge!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Happy Autumn!

Writing this post has been kind of like when you are talking to someone for a while but still don't know their name. The longer you wait to ask them their name, the more awkward it is...yet you still really want to know their name. The longer I waited to write a new post, the more awkward I felt it would be to just post a recipe out of the blue; but at the same time, I really wanted to get back at it. In solution, I'm just going to pretend like it hasn't been 3 months since I posted anything and get on with welcoming you to my new and improved blog!

Notice the new design? I like it a lot better, and hopefully you do too! I love sharing recipes, but I also want to start talking a little more about running, since it's my other real passion. Hopefully now that I've ripped off that band-aid and just written a darn post already, I'll be more inclined to keep it up. So once again, I'm asking for requests! I seriously love requests...want a gluten free cake recipe? weeknight dinner ideas? something to do with all those apples you picked? Let me know! I've added a "Contact Me" form on the sidebar, feel free to send me an email there or comment below and tell me what you want to see.

Anyways, now that it's officially Autumn (yay!) I assume the right to post recipes for anything and everything made with pumpkin and butternut squash. Starting.....NOW.

Roasted Butternut Squash Hummus
 

This dip is great with whole wheat pita bread. It's rich, flavorful, smooth, and slightly sweet with a spicy fall kick. I topped mine with olive oil and toasted butternut squash seeds (rinse them and toss with the same spices that are in the hummus, roast at 400 F for 5-10 minutes) and it was awesome.

Ingredients:
  • about 3 cups cubed, peeled butternut squash (~1/2 a medium squash, although it's easy to find pre-cubed or peeled butternut squash in the produce section these days)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • juice from 1 lemon
Directions:
  1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
  2. Toss the cubed butternut squash with the olive oil, cumin, paprika, red pepper, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt and pepper on the baking sheet, then roast for 30 minutes.
  3. Add the roasted butternut squash to a blender or food processor with the remaining ingredients, blend until smooth. Season with more salt and pepper, to taste, then serve!
 
 
And in terms of running news...
 
I'm currently training for the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) on October 27th! I'm super excited to run another marathon in DC, and with a new flatter course, this should be a good one. Since starting school again, I've been running with the Team in Training (TNT) Rhode Island group on Sundays for my long runs. It's such a huge motivator to have running company and coaches who spend their entire Sunday morning driving in 3-mile intervals to give you water stops along the way. Major thanks to the awesomeness that is TNT.
 
This weekend I did 20 miles with my new running friend, who's training for the Chicago Marathon in a few weeks! Man, it was brutal...but I made it through with some (long) water breaks and lots of positivity and encouragement. I know it would have been even rougher without a buddy; 20 miles is just a really long way to go. Next week I'm stepping down to 12 miles, then it's back up to 20 miles again the following week before I taper my mileage in preparation for the race. This is the first time I've done two 20 milers before a race (in the past I've done a single 20 mile run 3 weeks before the marathon), so I'm curious to see how well I do at MCM.
 
After MCM, I'm continuing my training in preparation for the Dopey Challenge at the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January. The Dopey Challenge involves completing a 5k race on Thursday, 10k on Friday, half marathon on Saturday, and full marathon on Sunday, totaling 48.6 miles over 4 days. Ouch. I guess that's why they call it Dopey, huh? Once again, I am raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) through TNT, and would greatly appreciate anything you can give! LLS has been key in funding research and development of new treatments for blood cancers, as well as providing resources to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families (like mine). If you'd like to donate, you can visit my fundraising page, http://pages.teamintraining.org/vtnt/wdw14/jackiep. Thank you for your support (and for hanging in with me through that dry spell of blog posts)!


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Marathon Running and Carb Loading

In the midst of my summer internship at Global Gourmet Catering in San Francisco (which has me waking up between 2 and 4 in the morning every day), I somehow managed to find time to sleep in until 4:30 am on a Sunday and run my second marathon! 26.2 miles through hilly San Francisco on an incredibly gorgeous day, and I can check the San Francisco Marathon off my race wishlist!


The race actually went by pretty quickly, well at least the first 22 miles...

We started off on the perfectly flat Embarcadero by the Bay Bridge, then continued along the water past several piers, up over a huge hill at Fort Mason (miles 1&2), then a steep downhill into the Marina.

From there, we kept it flat running along Crissy Field (miles 3&4) before an enormous climb from sea level up to the Golden Gate Bridge (mile 5).



Over the bridge and back (the fastest 3.5 miles of the race, miles 6-9), then through some rolling hills to Golden Gate Park (miles 10-13).

We looped and swerved all throughout Golden Gate Park in some much-appreciated shade for miles 13 to 18, then were plopped out right onto Haight street (next to my newly discovered favorite Whole Foods!).

We followed Haight street pretty much clear across town, with plenty of quad-bursting uphills and knee-buckling downhills, but at least we had the lovely scenery of Tibetan Gift Corners (whose popularity still perplex me), tarot card readers, and drug paraphernalia shops...in true San Francisco fashion.

By mile 22 we were on the other side of town, where it's mostly flat. In fact it probably seems completely flat unless you've just run 22 miles. Then it seems mountainous. I struggled my way through the slight inclines and declines, waved hello to Global Gourmet as I passed it, and somehow managed to keep up with the 4:55 pace group that I so desperately wanted to beat.

Mile 24 held the last water and aid station, so I knew the race was coming to a close. However, those were the longest 2.2 miles of my life! I passed the 4:55 pace group at the aid station and made it my goal to stay ahead of them for the last 2 miles. I allowed myself to walk as I needed it as long as I stayed ahead of them, which would mean staying ahead of my previous time!

As I finally passed the mile 25 marker, suddenly one mile seemed like the longest distance ever. How could I possibly go one more mile?! But I shuffled, jogged, walked, and pretty much crawled to stay in front of the pace group and eventually made it to mile 26, where I saw my cousin and uncle cheering me on.

The last .2 miles flew by as I could finally set my sight on the finish line. I ran as fast as I could to the finish, which was probably comparable to a turtle, but hey--I got there!

I crossed the finish line, stumbled to the volunteers handing out medals, got my picture taken, loaded my arms with food, and met up with my family.

 
Overall, I had a fantastic time and would do it again in a heartbeat (Of course I say that now, once it's over and done with. Ask me at mile 25 and I'd say NEVER AGAIN).

But before I leave to go foam roll, stretch, and ice my incredibly sore and stiff legs, let's not forget about what powered me through those taxing 26.2 miles--some pretty awesome scones!

I really loved these scones for breakfast the day before and a few hours before the race, and they even got a thumbs up from my health-food-hating grandpa! Now that's saying something. Feel free to personalize them with whatever mix-ins you have around, just know that they're best right after they come out of the oven, pretty good the day after, but a little dry after that (yes, I ate them three days in a row...).

Dried Fruit and Nut Scones
Ingredients:
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup chopped dried fruit (I used a mix of cherries, apricots, golden raisins, and dark raisins)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used a mix of pecans, almonds, and walnuts)
1 tablespoon chopped crystallized ginger
2 tablespoons cold butter
3/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup skim milk
coarse sugar, for sprinkling on top

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (oats through crystallized ginger).
3. Add the butter, crumbling with your fingers until there are no large chunks of butter visible.
4. Stir in the yogurt and milk, folding until the dry ingredients are moistened and a ball of dough forms.
5. Scoop the dough into 1/4 cup mounds or separate into 12 even pieces. Place them evenly on the baking sheet (they don't spread too much), then sprinkle the tops with a little coarse sugar.
6. Bake for about 20 minutes, until set and golden brown. Serve immediately.

 


 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cooking at Home

I'm back from Providence! It's nice to be at home, in the kitchen, cooking up whatever my heart desires. I certainly had a great time at school and am already missing many of my classmates and chefs, but I really do love cooking in my own kitchen, on my own terms. So...to start off my summer of fantastic cooking (and hopefully plenty of recipe posting), I have two recipes to share that I made for my family and a few friends recently!

Sautéed Swiss Chard with Raisins and Almonds
 
At the farmer's market last weekend I found some gorgeous rainbow swiss chard (that I wish I took a picture of!) and immediately remembered about a combination I've been wanting to try for a while--sautéed greens with raisins and nuts of some sort. This seemed like the perfect opportunity, so I grabbed the swiss chard, sautéed some onions, apples, and raisins, and ended up with a delicious side dish. All the sweet ingredients, as well as the sharpness from vinegar, help to cut some of the bitterness from the dark greens. Feel free to substitute any greens for the chard, and get creative with different dried fruits and nuts.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
1 large granny smith apple, finely diced
1/3 cup raisins
1 large bunch rainbow swiss chard, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup toasted, sliced almonds
salt and pepper

Directions:
1. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
2. Add the onion and sauté until golden brown and caramelized, about 10 minutes.
3. Add the apple and raisins and continue to sauté until the apple is cooked and lightly caramelized.
4. Add the swiss chard and toss until wilted. I used tongs to turn the swiss chard, continuing until it was all wilted.
5. Stir in the vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Remove from the heat and top with sliced almonds just before serving.


Poached Apricots with Vanilla and Cardamom
 
Another thing I've been wanting to try: poached apricots! I'm not sure how I get these ideas of recipes I want to create, but poached apricots have just been sounding really good to me for a while. If you prefer the skins off, you can either peel the fresh apricots with a sharp peeler or you can score an X in the bottom of them and boil them for just about 15-20 seconds. Then the skin should peel off easily with a knife. I left the skins on simply because it was easier, but I'll probably try peeling them first next time. Either way, these apricots made a great light dessert served hot or cold over frozen yogurt.

Ingredients:
1 lb fresh apricots, peeled if desired, halved & pitted
1/4 cup apricot jam
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
toasted, sliced almonds for topping

Directions:
1. Combine the apricot jam, water, extracts, and cardamom in a large, shallow saucepan over medium-high heat.
2. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and add the apricots in a single layer, cut side down.
3. Cover the pan and cook for 7-10 minutes, until the apricots are fork-tender.
4. Serve immediately or chill and serve cold over frozen yogurt, regular yogurt, French toast, pancakes, etc. with the toasted almonds.

 
 
I'm excited to be back in the kitchen again. Keep checking in for more of my creations and for internship and San Francisco updates throughout the summer!

Monday, April 22, 2013

On Life.

I'm sure by now you have read a million accounts of the Boston events last week. I don't want to harp on the past, but I don't think I can move on without expressing my condolences to the victims and families of those affected by the bombings and aftermath last week. All of last week's events have really pushed me to take a step back and be grateful for my life. None of us are safe from these unexpected tragedies, but we can't live in fear of "what if." All we can do is make a conscious effort to appreciate the good things in life and make the world a little bit of a better place through kindness, positivity, and passion.

Another thing Boston has me thinking about is what it means to me to be a runner. I was actually in Boston the day before the marathon, exactly where the first bomb went off. I can't even begin to explain the extraordinary sense of excitement and togetherness in the air on Sunday. To me, that sense of community is one of the most gratifying things about being a runner. It doesn't matter how fast you are; If you run, you're a runner. There is an immense amount of support and kindness within the running community. I think that was expressed very clearly last Monday, and I have experienced it endlessly when I wave to another smiling runner out on the streets, wander through a race expo, or share the exhilarating struggle of a race.

While running the past few days, I've let my mind wander through the happenings in Boston multiple times. It's allowed me to come to terms with what's happened and has made me truly proud to feel a part of the family of runners that's stayed so strong since last Monday.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Lemon Yogurt Cake and Great News

While in San Francisco over spring break, I made this amazing lemon cake for dessert one night with my grandparents and cousins. It was finished immediately, which disappointed my leftover-loving grandpa, but I guess it's a good sign when the plate is licked clean!

I wish I had gotten a picture of the cut cake, since texture was so perfect, but it was gone before I got the chance! The cake was perfectly fluffy, but moist, and not too sweet thanks to the tangy lemon. I served it with strawberries and blackberries soaked in a little sugar and lemon zest. Amazing.

Lemon Yogurt Cake
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
zest of 2 lemons
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
3/4 cup skim milk

Glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice (more or less as needed to reach desired consistency)
lemon zest, for garnish

Directions:
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, lemon zest, and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
4. Add in half of the flour mixture, then beat on low speed to combine. Add the yogurt and milk, beat to combine, then finally beat in the remaining flour mixture.
5. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
6. Meanwhile, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice to form the glaze.
7. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes on a wire rack, then remove the cake from the pan and allow it to cool completely before drizzling/spreading on the glaze and garnishing with lemon zest.
 

 
 
Now, onto great news! Last weekend, I finished my first full marathon! It was truly an amazing experience and I couldn't be more proud. I finished ahead of my 5 hour goal at 4 hours, 55 minutes, and 11 seconds. I never really "hit the wall," surprisingly, but I'm not complaining. I cruised through the first 23 miles with a comfortable pace, alternating running 4 miles and walking 1 so I didn't burn out. Then, I somehow gathered the strength to really just crank out the last 3 miles and was nearly sprinting to the finish line. Maybe that means I could have gone faster in the beginning, but I was much happier having some energy at the end than I would have been if I used up all of my energy in the beginning.After completing a feat like that, anything really seems possible (except for running right now, since some sort of foot injury followed the race)! 
 



 
 
And to follow that story...I have an internship for this summer! I'll be working at Global Gourmet Catering in San Francisco. It seems like a great company and they work completely with local, sustainable foods to cater events from 20 people to 20,000 people, so I'll be getting a great variety of experiences!