Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes

Want to know what’s special about these cupcakes???

Well for one, they are my first batch that were ordered and SOLD! EEEEEK!!!!

Susan ordered them for her Niece’s graduation party, along with a bunch of candy cups to contribute to my fundraising goal!

So, confession: I was ridiculously nervous about this! Sure, I love to bake and share my recipes, and invite people over to help me not inhale 7 servings of my food enjoy my food with me, but am I really good enough for someone to pay for it??? I honestly still don’t even really consider myself a cook, or a baker, or much of anything, other than someone with a sweet tooth the size of Canada. This was a big and scary step! The good news? They came back to rave reviews!!

Everyone I know goes crazy over chocolate covered strawberries. Me? I don’t like strawberries. Not a bit. However, my taste tester said they were delicious, soft and fluffy with the perfect strawberry flavor. The perfect strawberry flavor for me would be not, but I kind of liked that because it meant I consumed way less batter during the process. The frosting…well that’s an other story. It’s my favorite.

You know what else? I took all of these photos myself! Check out my rude husband taking all the credit with his signature ;) To be fair, he did help me get everything set up, but then it was all me! I’m learning, and I’m really enjoying getting better at the photography!

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes

yield approx 2 dozen

For the cupcakes:
adapted from Eat Live Run

  • 3 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • dash salt
  • 1 1/3 cups pureed fresh strawberries (from about 2 cups whole strawberries—puree in a blender until smooth)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • zest from one large lemon
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 3/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute (or 3 more egg whites)
  • 4 egg whites
For the Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
barely adapted from How Sweet It Is
  • 3 x 8 oz blocks reduced fat cream cheese (you could also use fat free, I just had red fat on hand)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 1/2 oz grain sweetened chocolate chips, melted and cooled
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • sprinkles for topping (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 cupcake tins, and spray with nonstick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together pureed strawberries, lemon zest, milk and vanilla. Also set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat together applesauce, sugar and egg substitute. Add egg whites one at a time, beating after each, until combined. Alternate between adding the dry ingredients and the wet strawberry ingredients to the sugar mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
  5. Evenly divide batter between prepared cupcake tins (I used a cookie scoop). Bake for 25-27 minutes or until golden, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer immediately to wire racks to cool completely.
  6. Meanwhile, in a large bowl , beat cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Add vanilla extract.
  7. Add in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating on low speed, followed by cocoa powder.
  8. Increase to medium speed and add melted chocolate. Beat until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl often.
  9. Frost completely cooled cupcakes, then top with sprinkles if desired.

 

Thai Peanut Turkey Burgers

So I’ve been really mad that it’s summer time. Lots of whining and complaining about the heat, and how it affects my running, and blah blah blah. But I forgot how much I LOVE some things about summer! Like burgers!

And swimming!

Tuesday evening, Jason came over with my dog niece and nephew, and we seriously had the best time playing around outside with the puppies. They got so hyped up about the pool!

Nico and Winston have a love connection. They will play for hours on end.

Every time Jason was in the pool and would make eye contact with Nico, she would immediately go crazy and start barking, and then all the other dogs would start going crazy too.

Clementine is hiding under the chair. She wants to play, but she’s scared. It’s hard to be a Clementine.

Anyway, before all the fun dog playing, there were seriously amazing, delicious burgers.

Made with extra lean ground turkey, and homemade Thai peanut sauce.

Savory and spicy, with just a hint of sweetness.

Have I ever mentioned how much I also love Thai food? Give me some take out Chicken Pad Thai with extra cilantro, and I am a happy girl. I used to eat it all the time because someone told me Thai food was healthy once. Now, I figure out my own ways to use the flavors that are actually healthy, and not 7 servings of noodles ;)

Also, if you are one of those people who loves a beef burger, and thinks turkey burger are dry and gross (ahem…Steve), try these turkey burgers. I haven’t always loved the ones I’ve made at home (why do they never seem to turn out like the one at Zin Burger??), but I absolutely freaking love these. Like I can’t wait to make them every day for the rest of the summer my life kind of love.

Thai Peanut Turkey Burgers

yield 5 servings

  • 20 oz ground turkey breast
  • 1 tbs egg substitute
  • 1/2 cup diced onion + more for topping
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper + more for topping
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro + more for topping
  • 1 tbs peanut butter
  • 1 tbs Better’n Peanut Butter (or pb2, or more regular peanut butter)
  • 1 tbs reduced sodium soy sauce (use gluten-free is applicable)
  • 1 1/2-2 tsp chili paste
  • 1 tbs fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2-1 tbs Sriracha
  • 5 100% whole grain hamburger buns (whole wheat, brown rice, etc.), toasted
  • crushed peanuts, sliced scallions, and bean sprouts for topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat grill. In a large bowl, combine ground turkey breast, egg substitute, onion, bell pepper, and cilantro. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine peanut butter, Better’n Peanut Butter, soy sauce, chili paste, lime juice, and honey. Pour 2 tsp of sauce mixture into turkey mixture, and set the rest aside.
  3. Thoroughly combine turkey mixture and sauce (I recommend getting in there with your hands!), and form into 5 even patties. Press lightly in the center of each patty with your thumb, so they are slightly thicker on the edges to ensure even cooking.
  4. Send your husband outside to Grill until cooked throughout (approx 5 minutes per side). Meanwhile, add Greek yogurt and Sriracha to leftover peanut sauce, and mix until well combined.
  5. Place cooked patties on toasted wheat buns, then top with yogurt peanut sauce, crushed peanuts, sliced scallions, bean sprouts, and extra onions, bell peppers and cilantro.

Work It Out 5/21-5/27

So maybe I didn’t hit 100 miles this week (or anything close to it), but my workouts, specifically my runs this week have been some of the best ever! I had my first date with the track, I ran a new PDR, and I took full advantage of most likely the last of the gorgeous weather we’ll be seeing for a while. Here’s how I worked it out this week:

Monday: Rest. After 7 straight days of working out, I was more than ready to take the day off. It was fantastic.

Tuesday: 4ish mile run. I met up with Stacey for a short, easy paced run. We started a little late in the morning, and it was already really warm, so we ended up just walking the last half-ish mile, but it was nice to get to hang out and get a short run in.

Wednesday: Track–8×400’s @ 5k pace & 1 mi @ HMGP. What does that even mean??? I *think* I’m figuring it out. Kind of. Wednesday was my first day at the track. I met Susan and the rest of the group at 5:30am, we did a little over a mile warm up lap, then 8×400’s–400 meters (.25 mi) at 5k pace with 200 meter (.125 mi) rests in between, then a mile at 1/2 marathon goal pace. I kept the 400’s between 8-8:10 min/mi, and my goal pace mile clocked in at 8:48! I love the track. Like really, really love it. I was so intimidated, and I stayed away for so long, but right now I am wishing it was Tuesday night so that tomorrow could be track day. I cannot wait.

Thursday: Off. I planned to go to spin, but had a ton of baking to do (so many candy cups, and cupcakes being sold–yes!!), and it was just one of those days where I knew my time needed to be spent differently, and that’s okay.

Friday: 800 yd swim. I swam!! YAY!! This was only my second swimming work out, and my first one solo. I went twice as far as I did the first time, and it felt great to be in the water! I’d really like to take some lessons, and kind of figure out what I’m doing!

Saturday: Long Run–15.16 miles!! Okay, so my PDR (personal distance record) was 15.01, so it’s not like I went much further, but I don’t even care. It is the farthest I have ever run, and it was a freaking fantastic run! The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and we started off early at 5:30. Before we started, Susan asked how long people were planning to go, and of course not a single other person was even planning on running double digits (they’re almost all running San Diego next weekend), and here I was saying I was planning on 15. Oy. I planned to run with Stacey for as far as she wanted to go, and then go back out to run the rest solo. Near the end of my run with Stacey (almost to mile 8), Doug came up and introduced himself, and asked if I was still going to go back out for more miles. He told me he’d be willing to do a few with me, and I was beyond grateful. Well, he ended up running the entire 2nd half of my run with me, and pushed me the whole way through! He’s run tons of marathons (including Boston….*sigh*), and he had really great advice. He talked to me about my breathing, training, etc. Towards the end, he started adding some pick ups, and then pushed me to finish mile 15 in 9:40! Then, the last .16 happened at an average pace of 8:03. Ummm, who am I??? 15.16 miles at an average pace of 10:19. When I finally looked through my garmin and saw my pace, I started to cry a little. I am finally starting to see some improvement from this training cycle. I’ve been working really hard, and it is amazing to finally see it pay off. At the end of the run Doug told Susan that I had the mind of a marathoner. I think it’s more that I’m stubborn, and prideful, but having the mind of a marathoner sounds a lot better to me ;)

Sunday: 4 mile bike ride. Yeah….that’s it. My legs felt like they had been run over my a truck. And if you’ve been around me at all this weekend, that is probably the 9,984,985th time you’ve heard me say that. Sorry, I whine.

How did you work it out this week?? Have you set any new personal records lately, or surprised yourself with your progress? Tell me your awesome things too!!!

White Chocolate Nutella Crunch Cups

Remember these? And these? Well, as part of my Chances for Children fundraising, I am selling homemade candy cups. They’re actually doing pretty well, and people seem to be loving them! I’ll gradually be putting up all of the recipes on here, but if you’re anxious in the meantime, you could purchase some for your very own ;)

These cups are silky and chocolatey with the perfect crunch in the center.

I don’t know about you, but as soon as I hear the word “Nutella” I am pretty much shoving the food in my mouth before you can get the rest of the title out. Lord help me if someone ever offers me something gross like Nutella Sock Lint. That could be bad.

Do you know there are people out there that have actually never experienced this chocolate hazelnut amazingness? For you people, I am sad, and I also I want to feed you Nutella with a spoon. Is that weird?

Wait, do you mean to tell me you don’t like to be fed new foods by strangers on the internet whom you’ve never met in person? That just sounds silly. I think it’s time for an intervention. Or a Nutellavention. Okay, that wasn’t funny at all. I’m really sorry. Let’s look at more pictures of delicious candy cups, because clearly that is my strength, and not clever wit.

 

White Chocolate Nutella Crunch Cups

yield 24-30 cups

  • 2 10 oz bags all natural white chocolate chips
  • 1 scant tbsp coconut oil
  • approx 1/2 cup Nutella (or other chocolate hazelnut butter)
  • approx 1/2 cup crisp brown rice cereal

Directions:

  1. Line 24 mini muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, melt white chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave in 20 second intervals, stirring after each, until melted.
  3. Spoon enough chocolate to cover the bottom of each baking cup. Add 1-2 tsp Nutella, followed by 1 tsp brown rice cereal. Top filling with white chocolate until Nutella is completely covered and top is smooth.
  4. Freeze to set. Keep in freezer or fridge.

**It’s too hot here in Phoenix to send these through the mail, but if you’re local, and you would like to contribute, or you just really like chocolate cups, I’m selling them for $1 a piece. And, really, how often do you get to use dessert as a tax write off? ;)

Ari + Track, A Love Story

Why, oh why was I so intimidated by the track for so long??? It is so wonderful!! This morning, I joined coach Susan and her group (including a couple people from my NYC team) for my first track workout! Wednesday has been my speed work day anyway, and I was grateful for the opportunity to go run with a group, and have a coach telling me what to do, rather than a computer program. I am a little over my smart coach plan for Seattle, but that’s an other story.

My alarm went off at 4:25 am, and I was out the door by 5 to meet at 5:30. We did a 1 mile warm up from our meeting spot over to the track, and I was kind of a nervous wreck. I was totally intimidated, and sure that everyone was going to be running 6 min miles, and I was going to be the lame-o in the back. However, everyone was really nice, and as it turned out, once you get on the track, it’s impossible to tell where anyone else is at anyway. Plus, honestly, who has time while doing their own speed work to worry about anyone else? It’s just silly to think that anyone there is going to be judging you.

We did some running drills that I have never done before, and I looked pretty ridiculous, but only slightly embarrassed about it, haha. Then Susan announced that we were doing 8x400s @ our 5K pace with 200 meter recoveries, then 1 mile @ half marathon goal pace. Okay, so as it turns out, I’m pretty unsure of what my 5K pace should actually be. My pace for South Mountain averaged 8:52, so I was guessing around 8:45. Well, I paused my garmin during the rests because I didn’t have a chance to set the intervals up before we started, and my first 4 averaged an 8:00 min pace. Probably a little too fast, but definitely enough to make me feel like 8:45 was most likely too slow. The next 4 averaged 8:12, with a total average for all 400s of 8:07. Then I ran my HMGP mile @ 8:48.

Who am I??? It didn’t feel easy, but it didn’t feel as tough as I was expecting. I still don’t know about doing a whole half marathon at a sub 9 pace, but it was a little bit of a confidence boost! The time flew by, and I didn’t even end up using my music. I was nervous because no one else brought any music, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through the workout without it, but the constant changes kept my mind busy, and I didn’t feel bored at ALL, and even my heavy breathing didn’t freak me out.

So, the thing is, I’m totally head over heels for the track. And I don’t think after NYC I will ever want to train without a group ever again. I feel so totally spoiled by the whole situation already, but I’m just trying to soak it up to it’s fullest while I can!

On my way home, Devon tweeted me about our plank promise that I had totally been lame and forgotten about, so the second I got home, I turned on the TV to distract me, and got my plank on!

Gosh Ari, stop cheating, and get your butt down!

You see, ever since Ali completed her 5 min plank challenge, I’ve been determined to do the same, and Devon is super amazing and working on her planking too, so we’re keeping each other accountable. Clearly, she’s doing a much better job at the accountability part than I am ;) My first try, I held it for 2 minutes, last week (try #2) was 2:20, and today…

Whhooooot! Okay, now I desperately need a shower.

Track: Love or hate?