Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Funday is Back!

It's that time again...Friday Funday!  I hope that everyone had a great week and is looking forward to the weekend.  I will be out of town next week, so I won't be posting.  Have a great weekend and 4th of July!

So True: I always go into Target expecting to come out with at least 5 more things than I planned on leaving with.

Happy 4th of July Treat: Yummy and festive treat to bring to a 4th of July party.

And Drinks: It's not a 4th of July party without something to drink!

Silly Faces: Just a little preview of the funnier side of Olympic diving.

YUM: Who wants to make me right now!?

Just Drop Me Off: I wouldn't ind floating away on that bed.

Strawberry Donuts: The donut craze just got even better!

This is the life:

True Statement: It's why I shower every day!

If you ever have a Friday Funday post idea/suggestion let me know! Suggestions always welcomed :)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Different Type of Cupcake

I have been using pinterest to keep track of my recipes recently, so my cookbooks and recipe binder have become somewhat neglected.  I decided to revisit my cookbooks and recipes the other day and found a recipe for mini meatloaf muffins that my mom had given me a while ago.  My mom often send me recipes she sees or has tried and think I will enjoy.  I decided it was time to finally give it a try!

These "muffins" use ground turkey breast and lots of chopped up veggies.  According to the recipe, each muffin has about 142 calories and the recipe makes 9 muffins total.  Obviously, I halved the recipe because I did not need 9 muffins for myself.  Turns out, even with halving the recipe I made 6 decent sized muffins.  The recipe also called for using ketchup, but I was craving BBQ sauce so I used that instead.

They tasted delicious and were super easy to make! The muffins were extremely moist and perfectly cooked.  When I took them out of the muffin pan, I was surprised at how well they stayed together.  Making meatloaf muffins made me feel like I was taking something retro and making it cool and up to date (yea...I just admitted that).  And with the 4th of July coming up, meatloaf screams America!

I'm going to give you the recipe with the changes that I made to it.  Just remember, you can use ketchup or BBQ sauce and you can easily double the recipe if cooking for a crowd.

Mini Meatloaf Muffins
1/4 cup diced onion
1.5 cup bagged broccoli slaw (chopped)
2/3 pound ground turkey breast
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
2 egg whites (or 1/4 cup liquid egg)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbl BBQ sauce

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix together all of the ingredients.
3. Line or spray muffin pan.  Distribute mixture into muffin tins. (I used 6 muffins but depending on the size you could use more or less). 
4. This step is OPTIONAL.  Spread the top of each muffin with 1 tsp of BBQ (I'm a dipper so I skipped this step and reserved extra BBQ sauce for dipping).
5. Bake for 30-35 minutes.  Muffins will become firm and lightly brown on the edges.

I had 2 muffins and roasted a veggie mix from Trader Joes (asparagus, mushrooms, and red onion) for a complete, filling meal.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Time to Relax

Part of my training schedule includes a rest or off day.  The schedule is structured so that I have 1 rest day a week.  Since I have my long runs scheduled for Saturday, I have my rest day on Sunday.  Also, I want to have one day off on the weekend so that I can go out with my friends and not worry about fitting in the gym the next day.  

Rest days are just as important as the other days of training.  But why?  According to Runner's World Magazine, rest days serve 3 main functions.  They prevent overuse injuries, prevent mental burnout, and restores glycogen.  The first two are easier to understand than the third.  Simply put, your body stores up glycogen and delivers it to your muscles while you run.  Once your glycogen is used up, it feels as though your body has "hit a wall" and moving (let alone running) because a burden.  Rest days allows your glycogen levels to replenish allowing your body to keep moving.

Even though it is important to take advantage of rest days, it is important to not just sit around and do nothing on these days.

Just like your mind needs to be continuously stimulated, so does your body.  Personally, I get bored and antsy when I just sit around and do nothing.  It is especially hard once your body is used to constant movement.  On my rest days I always go for a walk.  Living in a city that is easily walk-able makes this extremely easy!  For those who don't, use your rest day as also your errands day.  For example walk around the grocery store or park your car a little farther from the entrance.  Make sure to stay active.  It'll make you and your boy feel better and more ready for the workouts ahead.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Lucky Morning and Gorgeous Day

Today started off great!  I got a ride to work today and parked right next to the best spot ever.  Too bad someone else got there first.

For those who don't know, 919 was the address for the house I lived in my senior year of college.  Oh the memories!  It was a long day of meetings at work, but at least the morning started off with a happy walk down memory lane.

I brought the peach bars to work today and they were a hit!  One of my co-workers said it was "like heaven" and he went back for a 3rd and 4th helping.  I would definitely, call that a successful recipe!

Since I was working at my downtown office today, I took full advantage of the beautiful weather and walked home from work.  Today it was only 80 degrees and the perfect weather for my 1.5 mile walk.  Walking home was a great way to unwind from my long day of sitting in meetings.

Once I got home, I started prepping my dinner.  Tonight, I was making Yucatan Shrimp Cocktail Salad.

The recipe was full of awesome, crisp veggies (exactly what I was craving)!  The veggies included (going clockwise) tomatoes, cucumber, scallions, celery, and poblano pepper.

As usual, I didn't completely follow the recipe.  The recipe can be found here.  The changes I made:

1. I halved the dressing and amount of shrimp, so that there were 2 servings instead of 4.  Perfect for leftovers tomorrow!

2. I didn't measure the amount of vegetables.  When it comes to vegetables, I don't think you can have too many.  I put in as many as I wanted (definitely lots of tomatoes because they are my favorite) so that it was a complete and filling meal.

3. I used a poblano chili instead of a Anaheim chili.  I only did this because they did not have an Anaheim chili at my store and the man said it was a good substitute.

It was the perfect light, refreshing, summery meal!  Lucky for me, I enjoyed it sitting on my balcony.  A great end to a good day!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Millions of peaches, peaches for me

This weekend rounded out my first week of half marathon training.  On Saturday, I did a 5 mile run along the lakefront.  I woke up early so that I got done with my run before the heat started.  To be honest, I don't really mind waking up early on Saturday because I'm actually up early anyway.  For some reason, I just don't sleep in anymore (far from my college days where the name on my mailbox was "Sleeping Fink").

The weather was gorgeous, barely a cloud in the sky, and so many other people were out running and biking along the trail.  I guess that I was a little too excited about my run because my first mile was over a minute faster than my typical pace.  Thank goodness for the Run Keeper App (see summary in this post incase you missed it before) or else I would have never been able to finish at that pace!  I ended up finishing the run at my goal pace.  Let's hope I keep it up for the rest of training!

As usual, I ended my run at the farmer's market.  There is so much more fruit and vegetables compared to the first week it opened!  I obviously got myself apples and flowers, but two other things caught my eye.  Cherries and peaches!  I was so excited to see they were now in season.  I probably ate half my bag of cherries on my walk home (not sure if this is a benefit or downside of stopping at the farmers market post run).

I had a special recipe in mind for the peaches...brown butter peach crumble bars.  I found the recipe for these bars at How Sweet Eats.  This blog always has incredible recipes and I especially love her desserts.  She always has unique, fun ideas that I would not have thought of.  Not to mention all her her recipes are indulgent and everyone I have attempted to make is absolutely delicious!

The bars did not fail to disappoint!  They were basically like eating a peach cobbler in a bar form (and you can never go wrong with peach cobbler).  The peaches made the bars perfectly juicy.  When you make these, and I say when not if because you would be an idiot not to make them, aim to cook them so that the edges are slightly browned and crispy.  The middle will still be soft, gooey, and amazing!

Just look at that peachy goodness!  Unfortunately, Ricky was not working this weekend to give his seal of approval.  However, I can confirm that these are incredible and you MUST make them ASAP!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Funday!

I decided to try and start something new with my blog.  One of my favorite blogs, Iowa Girl Eats (definitely check her out), has Friday Favorites.  It is basically awesome pictures, quotes, recipes, DIY projects, etc she has seen throughout the week.  I love this idea and look forward to it on her blog every Friday.  I talked to her and decided to bring it over to Sweet Tooth Runner.  I'm calling it Friday Funday!  So, today will kick off the first official Friday Funday of the blog.  If you ever come across something you think would be good for Friday Funday send it to me and I'll check it out!

Chocolate Filled Strawberries: A fun twist on chocolate covered strawberries.

So true! This is what I think as I walk down the street every day.

Mosaic Staircase: This gorgeous staircase is in San Fransisco.  Truly stunning!

Candy Thief: This guy definitely surpasses my love for chocolate and peanut butter. (no picture because this article is ridiculous enough on it's own)

How To Cut a Mango: Mangoes are in season, but they are always tricky to cut.  Check this out for mess free cutting.

Liquid Awesome: The picture says it all.

Riesling Strawberry Slushie: The perfect summertime drink.

Work Harder: Ways to burn more calories and make yourself work harder during your workout.  My favorite is #3.

Mug Cakes: I love this idea! Easy for a one serving, quick, yummy dessert!  The one shown below is peanut butter chocolate, but there are so many other yummy flavors!

Diving Dogs: Awesome! These dogs are experiencing pure joy.

Magnolia Bakery Banana Pudding: So good! And now you can make it at home.

And this last one to start your weekend off right! I can't remember where I found it, but it was too cute not to include:

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summery Salad

I got this in the mail:

It's my new Starbucks gold card with my name on it and everything!  It's amazing and sad at the same time.  Amazing because now I can get lots of Starbucks perks.  Sad because I didn't realize how often I was actually going to Starbucks.  Oh point in stopping now that I'm being rewarded for going!

Yesterday was the official first day of summer and I am definitely feeling it!  It is hot! I seriously do not remember it being this hot last summer.  No one wants to be standing over the stove and turning the oven on during those hot days.  When the summer heat starts, I crave fresh and light dinners.  I love having salads and try to mix up what I put in it to add more variety to what can otherwise be a boring dinner.

This salad combines fresh fruit and vegetables to make a delicious and refreshing salad.  The salad includes blueberries, corn, cucumber, red onion, jalapeno, and cilantro.  I found the recipe here.

When I first saw this recipe, I noticed that it made 6 serving.  I was hesitant to make it because that's a lot of food when living on your own!  When cooking for 1, leftovers are always an issue.  Who wants to eat the same meal every night for a week.  For me, there are five key things I do to solve this problem:
1. Halve it.  Most recipes are easy to halve.  Sometimes it's a pain when buying certain items (like canned items) but I'd rather throw out some leftover corn than eat the same thing all week.
2. Freeze leftovers.  This is especially good for soup and casserole type of dishes.
3. Variation.  Change one or two things each night while using the same recipe/ingredients.
4. Skip a night.  Just because you have leftovers from one night doesn't mean you have to eat them right away. Wait a night or two before having your leftovers so that you don't get bored of the same thing two nights in a row.
5. Bag it. Take leftovers for lunch.

For this salad, I halved the original recipe.  I then tried to do something different with the salad each night I ate it.  One thing I kept consistent is that with each variation I put the salad over lettuce and added a protein to make it a more complete and filling meal.

Variation 1: I used the dressing from the recipe and added jalapeno chicken sausage from Trader Joe's for protein.  To cook it, just cut it into pieces and cook in a skillet over medium heat.

The dressing from the recipe was really good!  I love anything with a lime flavor and the honey helped to offset the spicy flavor from the jalapeno.

Variation 2: I changed the dressing to a balsamic glaze. It added a sweetness to off set the jalapeno flavor.  For protein, I used the shrimp.

Variation 3: I actually brought it to work for lunch instead of eating it for dinner. I used the dressing from the recipe and added the jalapeno sausage for protein.

Overall, I thought the salad was great!  Sometimes, cooking for one can be difficult.  But with some variations and creative thinking the same meal and ingredients can become something different.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"This is awesome!"

After last week's muffin fail, I was on a mission to bake something awesome for this week.  And I did!

Chocolate Banana Bread with Peanut Butter Chips.  It is the perfect flavor combination.  I mean, who can resist chocolate, peanut butter, and banana?  It's like a match made in heaven!

Honestly, I chose this recipe because I had all of the ingredients at home (except for the peanut butter chips).  Usually, when I cook or bake, I try to look at the ingredients I already have and find a recipe that uses those ingredients.  Why go out buying tons of new things when you have perfectly yummy ingredients to use at home!  I had some bananas that were ripe and I hadn't eaten yet (I was over ambitious with my banana buying the other week) and had leftover cocoa powder from the nutella brownies.  The recipe was basically begging me to make it!

I found the recipe on pinterest and made it with a couple alterations.  Here is the original recipe.  The changes I made include:

1. I had 2 mini loaf pans instead of 2 regular sized loaf pans, so I halved the recipe.
2. Instead of sour cream, I used Greek yogurt.  Once again, I did this because I already had Greek yogurt in my fridge.
3. Instead of marshmallow bits, I used peanut butter chips (I did this for no reason other than I was craving peanut butter).

Here is the recipe with my alterations:

Chocolate Banana Bread with Peanut Butter Chips
6 tbl softened butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large ripe bananas (the riper the sweeter/better)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
peanut butter chips (I don't measure this. Just put in as many as you like.)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray mini loaf tins with Pam.
2. Cream sugar and butter in medium bowl.  Mix in egg, Greek yogurt, and vanilla.
3. Mash bananas and add to mixture.
4. Stir in flour, cocoa powder, salt, and peanut butter chips.
5. Pour into and divide between two pans.  Bake for about 40 minutes.
6. Enjoy!

And who could forget...Rikki's verdict?
"Wow Fink! This is awesome!"

Monday, June 18, 2012

Let the Training Begin!

Today starts off my 12 week half marathon training.  I have officially signed up for the Chicago Half Marathon on September 9th.  I was choosing between that one and the Chicago Rock 'n Roll Half, which is on July 22d.  I have done both and each has its benefits and disadvantages.  I ultimately chose the Chicago Half for three main reasons:

1. The course starts on the south side of Chicago and goes north along Lake Shore Drive and loops back to the start.  The Rock 'n Roll Half goes through the city and along the lakefront where I usually do my training runs.  I don't like running through the city, so I like that the Chicago Half is along the lake the entire course.  Also having the Chicago Half in an area that I do not ever run in provides me with a change of scenery for the run.

2. September is a better time of the year to run than in July.  Obviously, September in Chicago is not as hot as it is in July.  I don't mind running when it's hot out (especially since the run starts early in the morning), but I would obviously prefer to run during a time that there a possibility of cooler weather.

3. September 9th is close to my birthday which is September 17th.  I love having completed something big right before my birthday.  It gives me such a sense of accomplishment and gets me excited for the year to come.

My favorite training schedule to follow is from Hal Higdon.  Higdon is a runner and a writer.  As a runner, he ran in eight U.S. Olympic Trials and won four World Masters Championships.  As a writer, he has written 34 books and has contributed to Runner's World magazine more than any other writer.  Higdon has 5 levels for his half marathon training schedules: novice I, novice II, intermediate, advanced, and walk.  In the past, I used the novice II training plan.  Since I have a goal time, I am going to use the intermediate training plan this year (it has speed work training incorporated into the schedule to help improve your time).

I was always told to "finish your run strong".  That being said...this is my inspiration for finishing all of my long runs.  I promise to find the energy in myself to end running this way when I run the half.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Perfect Fit

For the past couple years, I have had knee pains when I run and it has only gotten worse.  A couple of times, I tried taking time off from running and slowly building back up.  I also bought a band to put around my knee.  However, the pain always came back.

I have had the same type of running shoes for years and decided that the shoes may be my problem, so I went to Fleet Feet.  Fleet Feet is an awesome running store located across the United States.  They sell athletic clothes, SHOES, and put on/support races in various cities.  In Chicago, they also have weekly runs and have water stations along the lakefront for summer time runners.

The man that helped me was so knowledgeable and friendly.  I described to him the pain that I was having.  He immediately told me I have been running in the wrong shoes for my feet and identified my pain as patellar tendonitis.  Patellar tendonitis is basically a pain and inflammation in the knee cap.  Not only did he help me get new running shoes, but he also showed me how to stretch and use the foam roller in order to best relieve the pain.

I have run a couple times since getting the new shoes and learning my new stretching.  While I still have some irritation in my knee, I can say that it is getting better.  I start my half marathon training next week (more of that to come later on) so hopefully the new shoes will help me to kick some butt during my training and the race.

Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Farmer's Market Find: Success?

For some reason, I woke up at the crack of dawn this past Saturday.  I decided to take advantage of having a full morning and went for a long run that ended at the farmer's market.  The amount of produce and stands have definitely increased in the past few weeks.  There were tons of apples, strawberries, cherries, flowers, and more to choose from!  I visited my regular stand to get some apples and then found a new stand for flowers.  They offered to build me a bouquet for whatever price I was willing to pay.  It turned out beautiful.  I even had several people stop me as I walked home to ask me where I got my flowers.

Last summer, I saw rhubarb at the farmers market.  I had never had, let alone used, rhubarb before.  I was feeling adventurous and decided to buy some and see what I could do.  Rhubarb grows in stalks, so it looks like red celery.  It is actually a vegetable, not a fruit like it is commonly thought to be, but is commonly used in pies and other desserts.  I looked up a couple different recipes and decided to make rhubarb cinnamon muffins.

Overall, I would say is it was a semi-success.  The actual muffin base turned out really good.  It was a good basic, healthy muffin base that can be used for a variety of different recipes.  Unfortunately, this muffin base did not work well with the rhubarb.  Rhubarb has a slightly bitter taste which did not work well with this muffin base.  Next time, I would either add brown sugar to the muffin mix or add in another sweeter fruit (like strawberries) in addition to the rhubarb.  Or who knows...maybe I'm just not a huge rhubarb fan.

Before being baked

Ready from the oven (at least they looked pretty)

Not everyone agreed with my uncertain feelings about these muffins.  I brought them to work and everyone there complimented them and finished them off!  Just goes to show two things:
1. You will not think every recipe you try is a success, but try anyway.
2. Just because you don't like it, doesn't mean someone else won't too.

To be honest, I'm not going to share the full recipe because I don't really think it is worth sharing.  Even though it failed I'm glad that I tried to do something different and new. Who knows, maybe I will perfect it another day.  I promise to make a yummy treat next week to make up for this "failure" :(