Loaded Butternut Mac & Cheese

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You know what I love about macaroni and cheese?

 

I mean aside from the fact that the combination of carbs and cheese  is pretty much the most amazing thing on earth.

I love that there are so many options.

This mac & cheese….ooooooomg. It’s filled with center cut bacon, caramelized onions, and crispy sweet apples for the most amazing and surprising flavor combination. I wish I could tell you it was my idea. It totally wasn’t. I took it from this awesome lady, and changed a few things around.

Steve claims to not like butternut squash, but he definitely helped himself to seconds of this dish! The thing about adding butternut squash/pumpkin/sweet potato to mac + cheese, is that is just adds some creaminess, fullness and a hint of sweetness. You can use less cheese, but still get a thick, creamy, cheesy sauce that feels like you are breaking every diet rule you’ve ever followed.

I love how all of the textures come together in this dish too. Creamy, silky cheese sauce with crunchy bacon, crispy apples and perfectly tender onions. Opposing flavors and textures = my favorite thing ever. This dish has both. Excellent.

Drrrrroooooool.

 

Loaded Butternut Mac & Cheese

yield 6 servings

adapted from Butternut Squash Mac n’ Cheese with Bacon, Caramelized Onions, and Apples

  • 2 cups dry whole grain pasta (brown rice, whole wheat, etc.–I had rotini on hand, but macaroni or penne also hold cheesey sauce really well)
  • 1 cup butternut squash puree (I steamed chopped butternut squash and pureed it with my immersion blender, but you could buy canned, or even better, roast it first!)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 oz low fat cream cheese
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded 75% reduced fat cheddar cheese + extra for topping
  • 1 tablespoon light whipped butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 large crispy apple, chopped
  • 4 slices center cut bacon, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onions, cover and cook on low-medium low for 30 min, tossing occasionally. When fully cooked, remove from pan and set aside.
  2. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. In a large skillet over medium heat, whisk together butternut squash, wine, milk, and cream cheese. When combined, add in salt, then stir in cooked pasta.
  3. Add onions and apples to the pasta. Stir to combine and add a dash more milk if needed.
  4. Stir in cheddar cheese, then transfer to a n 8×8 cooking dish. Top with cooked bacon and a small handful of extra cheese. Broil for 2-3 minutes until the top browns slightly. Serve immediately.

 

Hawaiian Macadamia Butter Cookies

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Sometimes you make a cookie that you just don’t want to share with anyone.

 

Well, if you’re Heather, that is every cookie. I’m sorry Heather, but I will never stop teasing you no matter how good you get at sharing. My friend Heather used to have a sharing problem. She’s worked on it, and recently shared some amazing food with me in Seattle. I was so proud of her. My mom also has a sharing problem. If you ask for a bite of her ice cream, she goes all food aggression and practically growls at you like Clementine. Basically, that was me with these cookies.

Every once in a while, a recipe just turns out so perfect that you can’t wait to make it for every event for the rest of your life, and make double because half of it will never even make it out the front door.

I was really inspired by all of the food in Hawaii. I came home with a full out list. Some people relax on vacation. I wrote lists. And you know what, awesome things came out of it. I like lists.

So let’s discuss these magical cookies, shall we? They have every single food I loved in Hawaii: macadamia nuts, coconut and banana. Also, they have white chocolate, because how could you have those foods and NOT include white chocolate?! That sounds like a terrible idea. When I was little, I used to eat mass amounts of solid white chocolate. It was my favorite. I also don’t ever remember being a single digit size in elementary school. I’m sure there’s no correlation….

Not only are these babies stuffed with all good things that exist in the world, they are the perfect texture. It’s like they were made with real butter! Okay, so I will never stop believing that fat substitutes are awesome for baking, and that baked goods made with applesauce are still seriously delicious. However, they do not taste like butter. These do. I think it’s something about the oil/fat content of the macadamia butter. It works perfectly, and I love it so much more than a peanut butter cookie.

Soft, gooey and perfectly balanced. These are a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

Make these cookies. Make them today. And tomorrow. And next week. Trust me.

 

 

Hawaiian Macadamia Butter Cookies

yield approx 1.5 dozen

  • 1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • dash salt
  • 1 medium extra ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 cup Roasted Macadamia Butter
  • 3/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut (I found unsweetened low fat, but regular unsweetened is fine too)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the banana, macadamia butter and sugars. Beat until smooth. Add the egg substitute and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Fold in white chocolate chips and coconut.
  3. Using a small cookie scoop, drop dough onto lined cookie sheet. Use an extra piece of sprayed parchment paper to slightly flatten each dough ball.
  4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until just golden. Do not overbake. Let cookies stand on sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

AFC Half Marathon Race Recap

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….Of sorts…

Really, I want to talk about what I learned during this race, because it was a whole lot. I went in with high expectations. Before my surgery in the spring, I had been training with one goal in mind: a sub 2:00 half marathon. I chose Seattle, I found a training plan, and I was working my butt off. In the middle of all that, I signed up for New York and started working with a coach for the first time. I knew that New York was the big far off goal, but Seattle was still my focus. Then I found out I needed surgery, and I was sidelined for almost 3 weeks. My first full run back after that was the day I would have been running RnR Seattle. I set my sights on AFC and decided it was going to be my race.

This was the same time our NYC training plan officially started, and it quickly became my focus. I almost forgot about AFC and my “big plans” until I got home. Then I didn’t really taper the way I normally would. In fact, I had my highest mileage running week ever. I had slowed way down on my training runs since arriving back in Phoenix and was starting to feel really doubtful about my abilities to meet my goal in this race. But then we went to San Diego and I remembered how much I wanted it and I posted all sorts of crap on facebook about how I was trying to break 2 hours, and I put all this pressure on myself to make other people proud.

Meanwhile, I tried to forget that on Saturday morning at 8am (the same time I’d be running the next day), I was hot just sitting outside. I tried to assure myself that since it was less hot than Phoenix, obviously I’d feel fantastic. Well, at 7am Sunday morning at the start line it was already nearing 80* with 70% humidity, and I thought “Well, I certainly wouldn’t want to be wearing any more clothing right now.” Most of my other races I started out freezing at the starting line, and that’s how I like it. I don’t do well in the heat, and I’ve always been a big freaking baby temperature sensitive.

I went out strong in the race, and was determined to do what I’d set out to do, regardless of any challenges. I started off with Stacey, ran the first 2 miles just over goal pace. They were hilly, but I still felt okay. I got into a groove at mile 3, then mile 4 started with a super awesome downhill. I lost Stacey near the beginning of it, and just tried to let it be fast without pushing too hard and overdoing it. I ran mile 4 in 7:58. It was my favorite. It was also my first sub 8 mile in a race ever. Miles 5-7 were right on track, but at the end of mile 6 we turned a corner, and all of the sudden the sun was just so strong, and all I could feel was heat, and it felt like it was a million degrees out. My body felt totally overheated, and the idea of even finishing seemed impossible.

From there it was pretty much just a crash and burn. I had killed my 10k PR, then finished the first half in less than an hour, and still managed to blow up so far above my previous PR that it was kind of embarrassing. Once I realized (around mile 9) that I had no hope left of even a PR, I backed off, and just tried to get through it. I didn’t 100% give up, but I lost most of my drive, and took way more walking breaks than were actually necessary. I finished in 2:12, which isn’t my worst, but isn’t anywhere near my best either.

I may or may not have cried in the car afterwards. I’m a little dramatic. I get it. And I know that it just wasn’t the right time, but it still sucks when you put your goals out there for the world to see, and then don’t meet them, ya know?  But I learned so so much. Let’s make a list of all the things I learned.

  • I should have one running related goal at a time. Maybe some people can have LOTS, but for me, if my goal is my first full marathon, I need to not worry about half marathon PRs. I’m going to run a full freaking marathon 13 months after beginning my running journey. I’m building up my mileage, and working harder than I ever have. It’s okay if I’m not where I want to be with other distances right at the moment. I’m working towards something bigger.
  • It’s okay to adjust your goals on race day. That doesn’t mean you’re giving up. Sometimes circumstances happen that are beyond your control, and some days you just don’t have it in you the way you imagined you would. It’s okay to step back and make some adjustments. If I don’t allow myself some flexibility, I will undoubtedly end up disappointed many more times.
  • Pacing is hard. Did I go out too fast? There was a downhill, and I had a goal, and the answer from me would still be I don’t think so. I blew up, but I still think under the right circumstances I could have done it, and I don’t think starting slower would have changed how I felt at the end. But seriously people, what do I know? Maybe if I had shuffled along at the beginning, I would have won the race (hahaha I’m so funny). I still really don’t get pacing.
  • I enjoyed racing so much more when I had no expectations. I haven’t really loved a race since The Lost Dutchman, and I went into that race with zero expectations. I wanted to not run it slower than PF Chang’s, and I took 9 minutes off my time on a more challenging course. I still don’t know how it happened, but my guesses would be a fast running partner and low expectations. I’ve had one run since them (my 10 mile time trial) where my brain was in the right place. Running is mental, but not just in the way that your mind tells you it hurts and to quit, but in the way that your mind focuses on the wrong things and convinces you that you can’t do it. I’d like to work on this.
  • Maybe I should be more particular about what goals I put out there for the world to see. Or maybe not? Maybe I should just learn to be okay with occasionally falling short. Maybe I need a reminder that the people in my life want me to succeed, and are not in fact waiting for me to fail so they can laugh at me. I’m not in 7th grade anymore, and although I have a strong argument that this may have been the case then, it certainly isn’t now.
  • Finishing is always an accomplishment. Does any runner actually believe that? I’d like to. I’m working on it. I think I used to.

In conclusion, I ran slow (garmin said I averaged 9:58), I had a temper tantrum, and I’ve mostly gotten over it. Now I’m trying to seem all smart like I know things. To prove I didn’t lay down on the side of the road and give up like I wanted to, here’s a couple of pictures of me pretending I didn’t hate life at the end.

Thank you Steve for making up for my crappy race by getting pictures with both of my feet off the ground, and my legs not looking fat or manly. I appreciate it ;)

AFC Weekend in San Diego

Me, Coach Susan & Stacey.

Last weekend, I set out for San Diego with Steve and Stacey for the AFC half marathon. It was a super short trip. We left Friday afternoon after work and were there for a total of maybe 40 hours. We still managed to have a pretty awesome and relaxing Saturday, though. We had a delicious breakfast in Hillcrest at Snooze.

We were able to sit outside and enjoy a little bit of nice weather (the rest of the trip was hot–lame), and pet some super cute puppies. San Diego is super dog friendly. I wish Phoenix was more like that. Anyway, the food at Snooze was amaaaaaazing. I pretty much wanted to order the entire menu, but I settled on an egg white omelete with tons of veggies and goat cheese.

It’s funny because I really tried to be healthy, but then I dug into that omelete and it was pretty much exploding with goat cheese. I tried to pretend for a little while that I was going to scrape most of the cheese to the side, but who am I kidding??? Goat cheese is pretty much my favorite food on earth and this omelete was ridiculously good. I also snagged a bite of Stacey’s oatmeal which was also delicious.

And Steve ended up with this monster

Because clearly food is best when it’s the size of your head.

After breakfast, we walked around Hillcrest for a bit before heading to the race expo.

LOOK!!! WE’RE RUNNING!!!

The expo looked huge on first glance, but ended up being not super exciting. I did buy a new bic band, and for the first time I found one that stays on my head! It’s a thicker one, so I think having more felt is good for my awkward shaped head ;) We ended up browsing the expo for about an hour, then heading out to Coronado Beach.

Check out my awesome tan line. Super cute. It’s in the shape of sports bras/running tanks. Shocking, right?

After the beach, we went back to the hotel for a bit before meeting Coach Susan and some of our teammates for dinner. You know what I don’t understand? The whole pre-race pasta party concept. You go to an Italian restaurant where you are served lame white carbs that do you no good by race time the next day. I’d rather do a pre-race loaf of seedy multi grain bread party. Everyone gets their own loaf, and you don’t have to slice it. You just get a huge side of fancy vinegars and herbs to dip it into. That is something I can get on board with. Anyway, apparently the rest of the world doesn’t share my sentiment, so we ate Italian food. It was alright. I don’t love Italian food these days.

The company was great though! I got to know a few of my teammates a little better (there were a few of us that went), and it was cool to be part of a group. I’ve never done a race while having a coach before. Susan gave us all presents that totally made me all emotional!

Best.Coach.Ever. It’s the small things :)

Me, Coach Susan & Stacey.

The rest of the weekend was spent running, and driving and eating cupcakes. That was my favorite part, obviously. The cupcakes, not the running or driving. Those things were not super fun. Back with more details on the running part soon.

NYC Marathon Training Week 10

Week 10–half way there! This was a huge week. We had our team fundraiser with a big silent auction, and I spent most of the week freaking out over preparing for it. Good thing I had a little lot of help from my friends! The event actually ended up going really well for me , and I am happy to say that once everything is entered in, I should be about half way to my goal! That means there’s still a lot of work to do, but I am starting to feel more confident that I can do this. All of it.

This week was tough for me. I don’t know what it is, but the day after a half marathon I always feel terrible. It doesn’t matter if I’ve done well, or if I’m frustrated with my time, I just feel completely wiped physically and emotionally. The emotional exhaustion just seemed to carry through the week. I honestly can’t be surprised. Most nights I don’t get home until after 9, and then I need time to wind down before I can fall asleep, and then I wake up between 4-5am most days, and it’s just not enough sleep. For the first time, I started to feel like the time commitment of my training was a burden, and I know I don’t *actually* feel that way, but between work, fundraising, training, and trying to not completely suck at being a wife/family member/friend, I just felt like something had to give. I’m hopefully with the stress of the auction behind me, this week will be better. Also, I have an incredibly supportive coach and teammates that are doing everything they can to help me reach my goal.

This week felt like the transition into real marathon training, if that makes sense? For the last 10 months, I’ve been perpetually training for multiple half marathons, and now I don’t have anything scheduled until NYC. Our long runs are getting longer (14 miles this week), and the entire commitment of a full marathon is slowly starting to sink in. It’s tough and it’s presenting unexpected challenges, but I like it. I didn’t sign up for a walk in the park. I signed up to challenge myself, and stretch my abilities in ways I never dreamed were possible.

So, all that said, here’s how it went this week:

Monday–12 mi bike ride. Nice and easy recovery ride with Nicole to get my muscles loosened up post AFC.

Tuesday–Linda’s Spin. Perfection, as always.

Wednesday–Speed work: 8 x 1min. Warm up, 1 min intervals @  6:58, 7:12, 7:21, 7:24, 7:25, 7:17, 7:11, 7:00. My legs were definitely still a little tired, but not too bad.

Thursday–6 mi run. Okay, so I kind of suck at the whole do 2 miles slow then the next 4 at moderate effort thing. I’m really good at the slow part, but then I just slowwwwwwlllllyyyy get faster each mile. I don’t really think that’s the point, but with the heat, I’m still trying to base it on effort. I don’t have it totally figured out yet. I ran with Nicole (who is awesome and slows down from her speedy ways to stick with me) and averaged just over a 10 min pace. I feel like I need to work a little harder on these.

Friday–12 mi bike ride. Ugghhh, this day was annoying. I rode in the 10 min of pouring rain, got picked up by Nicole just as it stopped, then we went back out to ride, but everything was muddy and gross. Ended up cutting it shorter than normal, but as always the company and breakfast/coffee parts were awesome :)

Saturday–14 mi run. Okay, so Friday was the team fundraiser, and I didn’t get home til well after 10. I tried to go straight to bed, but I was all wound up from the evening and it took me forever to fall asleep. I ended up getting between 4-5 hours of sleep, waking up at 4am, and almost convincing myself to go back to bed and just skip the run. It felt impossible, and I knew I had 4 hours of teaching to do right after that I wasn’t quite sure how I’d make it through. I’m not gonna lie, the run was tough, and the rest of the morning was too. However, tough is not impossible, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I didn’t feel great, and it wasn’t my best, but I also didn’t feel horrible, and it wasn’t my worst. I ran with Stacey the entire time, and we ran with Jo a lot which was super helpful, because when you run with someone you don’t know as well, there is more pressure to keep going, haha. I ended up finishing in about 2:26 with a 10:24 average pace. I got some serious runners high and decided that there was nothing in the world I couldn’t accomplish. Then I was so tired that I missed my exit going to the studio, and then stopped at a green light. I was a little weird all day long, but no one really seemed to mind ;)

Sunday–10 mi bike ride. Snail speed. Rode with my perfect husband. He has been so awesome, I could write an entire post about how I’m the luckiest woman alive.

So there you have it friends. Half way through marathon training. Also, I’m working on convincing my mom to come out to NYC to watch me cross the finish line, because at 27 years old, I still haven’t grown out of needing my parents approval when I accomplish things. Okay, let’s be honest, I still haven’t grown out of needing the entire world’s approval, because I thrive on positive reinforcement. ;)

 

The Casserole Queens

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Oh friends, I am more than a little behind, but this is too good not to discuss! Two weeks ago, Nicole invited me to attend the Hungry Cocktail Event. If you’re like me and watch the Food Network nonstop enjoy watching food/cooking shows, you will love Hungry! It’s a new youtube launch of food and cooking shows that you can watch on your own time with new and interesting content.

As soon as Nicole and I arrived, I food geeked out a little.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The event was held at Elements, a swanky Phoenix restaurant that overlooks Camelback mountain. The party was smaller than I expected, and we quickly made our way to a private room near the back. I felt fancy ;) We grabbed some delicious hors d’oeuvres. I might have just had to google how to spell hors d’oeurves. That’s how unfancy I am.

   

Before we knew it, we were chatting it up with The Casserole Queens!

These ladies are a couple of the stars from the Hungry network. I couldn’t get over how nice they were! They were funny, inviting, and just so friendly! I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t dreamed of having my own cooking show (I mean I’m a theatre kid who loves food–it’s like the ultimate!), and these ladies have actually done it. They seemed so appreciative of their support and recognition. It just made me love them more!

Soon we headed into a separate dining hall where we watched a preview of the Hungry channel and learned about the process of bringing food programming to the internet. We also had an opportunity to speak with chef Beau McMillan (Iron Chef, and Elements exec. chef).

After the demonstration, it was time for dinner. Beau cooked us the most incredible meal! Full of so many things I would hardly ever eat under “normal” circumstances, and loved every bit of!

Yup. That’s a pig. And Beau in all his pig cooking glory. I would have thought seeing all the skin on it would freak me out, but I actually thought it was COOL! Maybe I’m weird?

The Casserole Queens also thought it was cool. Obviously.

Shrimp + grits

Okay, so I thought I hated grits, but these were AMAZING. Seriously. Probably my favorite thing I ate all night. They were southwest flavored with a slight kick. I must find a way to recreate these for myself! I also really loved the Casserole Queens’ recipe for Spice Mac & Cheese.

I got a little of everything.

Nicole and I were lucky enough to sit with Crystal at dinner, and hear a little bit about the journey her and Sandy took to developing their own cooking show. After we ate, we got to speak to Sandy more as well. These ladies were just so down to earth, and it was so great to hear about their experiences, and meet some other people who love food as much as I do!

Big thanks to Nicole for taking me with her! Check out her recap as well!

 

Spread Thin

I did not wake up in a good mood today. I don’t think it’s because I had a bad race yesterday. I tried to change it. I went on a bike ride with Nicole. I made a game plan for the day. I knew I was going to be tired, and I knew I didn’t feel like the best version of myself, but I also knew I had to push through it. Then I checked my email, got upset over something that shouldn’t have upset me, went to make breakfast, and it was like everything built up and hit me all at once.

The truth is, I haven’t felt like myself since I got back to Phoenix. I came home from Hawaii, and jumped into work the next day. I know that I had a week vacation that I spent in Hawaii, and I should have come back feeling all relaxed and ready to go, but I didn’t. I came back after 2 months away, and felt totally unprepared for my life–starting work, raising money, choosing material, and even spending time with friends and family. I feel like I jumped right back into a big puddle of expectations, and expected myself to stay afloat, but I just keep sinking. That was dramatic. I’m not drowning, but I’m just not myself.

Every time I start to feel overwhelmed, my immediate response is to beat myself up for not being better at dealing with it. I have friends that pile way more onto their plate (seemingly) than I do, and they still manage to be totally awesome, and pick me up when I feel down (Molly and Emily, I’m looking at you). I beat myself up for not being more like them, which is totally counterproductive and silly. Why would I want to be like someone else (no matter how awesome they are) when I can be like me? Silly.

Somehow, however, I managed to take a step back and look at what I’m doing–the big picture. In the last year, I have consistently stacked shows on with overlaps and no breaks. This is AWESOME! I LOVE that I’m getting work and I LOVE my job. So so so much. I have been so thrilled and honored to have opportunities, that if I’m offered a choreography or directing opportunity, I snatch it up without hesitation. It’s so good to have work in my field. The thing is, I shouldn’t have taken on 2 shows (1 that I’m directing and choreographing) at the same time as my marathon. I’m sure some people can do this, but some people also don’t work 6 other jobs while trying to raise $5000. I know I can do all of these things, but I don’t know that I should. Just like I tacked on an out of town race this last weekend because I wanted so badly to PR that it didn’t matter that I’d only been home for 2 weeks and was behind on everything. I always end up thinking I’m superwoman and can do everything, and then I spread myself too thin, and end up feeling like I’m failing at everything.

I don’t mean this post to sound whiney, or debbie downer. I know things will get better, and I know that I’m still learning a lot about balance. For the first time in my life, I have something that I’m passionate about beyond theatre, and the reality is it’s a challenge to balance cooking and running into this mix of theatre jobs that I have. I keep saying I want to focus on just working one or two places so I can give more of myself and my focus, but then I keep saying yes to every offer I get, all while I sign up for extra races because “I really want to, and I know I can make it work!” News flash self: You can do anything, but not everything. I’ve heard that quote before, and it always resonated with me. An over achiever working in a competitive field, with a running obsession filled with probably way too much self competition and comparison to others.

I’ve got a lot to learn, but I’m excited to learn it. I’m excited to find the day where I have achieved balance, and not because a 9-5 schedule gave it to me, but because I have created it for myself. I can’t wait for the day where I value my own worth so much that I can turn things down, and know more opportunities will come; when I can feel purposeful without an overflowing schedule filled with people to please. I know it will happen, and I know I am getting closer. I just need to be patient, breathe, and find a way back to that best version of me that I’ve been missing lately.

 

NYC Marathon Training Week 9

Oy. Yesterday was not the best day, but you know what? It finished a whole lot better than it started. It’s amazing–if you just ask for help, usually people are happy to do it! Heather, Nicole and Tara are being rock stars helping me out to get ready for the fundraiser. Emily and Lauran talked me down, and reminded me that I don’t suck at life. I got lots of love from my best friend Bethany, and then my amazing husband….GAHHHH, I LOVE HIM. He cleaned the house. He knows me. He gets it. He knew exactly what I needed from him, and he agreed to help me with my baking for the fundraiser on Friday. Everything will work out. I just have to get through this week of auditions and silent auction planning!

So about this whole marathon training thing…. One day its going to be over and I’m actually gonna have to run the thing. That day used to seem so far away, but its going to be here before I know it. Sometimes I think I prefer the training to the actual race. There’s less pressure, and so many opportunities to hit new paces and mileage. I’m so excited for the week we do 16 miles because it will be my first time really tackling a new distance since February. That was my favorite thing about training for PF Chang’s–every week I was setting new records for myself, and it definitely motivated me to keep at it.

I was a little emotional about my running this week. Pick your jaws up off the floor, people. I know me being emotional is totally shocking and out of character, but please keep it together ;) Here’s a look at how it went down.

Monday: 6 mi run with Nicole. This was supposed to be 2 miles easy, then 4 moderate. It ended up being a start realllllllly slow, then get faster every mile. Close enough, right? It was hot, and by the end I was at my normal moderate pace, but it took me a while to get there. Ended up with an average pace of 10:14–not quite where I’d like to be, but I’m trying to learn to go by effort rather than numbers when it comes to running in the heat. Nicole and I did see a really gorgeous sunrise, though which made everything kinda worth it!


Tuesday: Linda’s spin. 20.5 miles in 55 min. I love spin. Christina even joined me last week, and she’s coming down again today. I love spinning with friends!

Wednesday: Track. 1.2 mi warm up, 4x400s @ 8:17, 8:16, 8:16, 8:10, 1mi @ HMGP @ 8:54. I ended up with 4.36 mi in about 41 min (9:17 average). I felt like my paces were spot on, but then I was the very last person left on the track. I ran 2 entire laps with no one else. It was embarrassing and frustrating. I know it’s because most of my team was not racing, and did their mile time trial, and that’s faster obviously, but it just kinda put me in a bad place mentally about it. I hate feeling like I’m the worst, slowest, etc. Coach Susan gave me a pep talk about not comparing myself to others–something that could still use some work.

Thursday: Recovery run. Ran with Nicole again. I love having running friends so close by, and I’m so happy we’ve been able to work out in the mornings so often lately! I came up with this brilliant plan for Nicole to do her mile time trial while I recovery ran. We warmed up together, I met her at the end of her mile after I continued on at my slow recovery pace, and then she was able to cool down while I kept shuffling along my tired legs. I ended up with 3.32 mi in 35 min. Nicole killed her mile. She is Speedy Gonzales.
Friday: 19 mile bike ride. BBFF cross training day! Bike + breakfast + coffee = the reason I love Friday mornings.

Saturday: Rest. 

Sunday: AFC Half Marathon. Full recap coming soon. Spoiler alert: it was hot and I met none of my goals I’m working on being Zen about it. Here’s an other sunrise picture. This was probably the best part about this race.

So this week was kind of a roller coaster. That’s okay. It’s  long training plan, and not every week is going to be perfect. I just keep reminding myself of when I did my 10 mile time trial, and it was the most perfect run ever of life. It reminds me that I’m capable of having kick ass runs that not only meet my goals, but feel great too. Onward.

PS: Yesterday I officially signed up online, then received my travel info from marathon tours. Talk about things getting real!

Crab Fried Quinoa with Spicy Peanut Sauce

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I used to hate Thai food. Well, I thought I hated Thai food. I used to have this thing where I was sure I hated anything I’d never tried that wasn’t a type of cheese or brownie.

One day when I was just starting to branch out in my eating habits, I got coerced into going to a Thai restaurant. Someone once told me that Thai food was healthy, and at that point in my life, that was all it took to make me believe it. I just just barely begun my weight loss journey, and I just assumed everyone knew more than me. Plus they don’t use cheese, so clearly it’s healthy, right?

I tried Chicken Pad Thai and never looked back. It was love at first bite, and I’ve been totally hooked on Thai food ever since! In fact, one of my best friendships is pretty much based off of a mutual love for Thai food. And Seinfeld. Have I ever talked about my love for Seinfeld???? It’s an intense burning love bordering on obsession. I’ve seen every episode at least 10 times, and I own the entire series on DVD. I can recognize a Seinfeld quote at any time, and if I find out you share my love, I immediately consider you my best friend.

Things I love: Seinfeld, Thai food, puppies, peanut butter, cilantro, glitter, polka dots, running skirts, the color green. Now you know the way to my heart. Now if only they made polka-dotted glitter puppies that like to watch Seinfeld while eating Thai food, peanut butter, and cilantro while wearing green running skirts, my life would be made. Okay, that was weird. Let’s talk about the food.

Ohhhhhh my gosh, THE FOOD. The quinoa works as a perfect rice substitute, but you could also use brown rice. I can’t cook rice. I mess it up every.single.time. It’s so annoying. No matter what I do, it turns out crunchy. It’s like I’m missing the rice gene or something. Luckily, I CAN cook quinoa, and it’s so easy. Rice–who needs it???

Not me. Not this dish. So there.

I got the fancy dish and chopsticks in Hawaii, and I knew I needed to make something awesome to put in/eat with them. My last day at CGST, I ate quinoa with peanut sauce on top, and I was basically in heaven. My mind started racing almost immediately “WHAT CAN I MAKE??? MUST HAVE MORE QUINOA AND PEANUT SAUCE!!!!” Oh peanut sauce. I just want to put this stuff on every meal I ever eat for the rest of my life.

This dish was surprisingly easy, and as soon as I took my first bite, I started wondering where it had been all of my life. I’m not always the best about leftovers. If I’m not 100% IN LOVE with the dish, leftovers often sit around in my fridge while I make salads for lunch and try new recipes for dinner. This lasted about 48 hours. Do you ever get sad when your food is gone? Please tell me that’s not weird….

Crab Fried Quinoa with Spicy Peanut Sauce

yield 6 servings

For the Crab Fried Quinoa:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 tbs canola oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 tbs reduced sodium soy sauce
  • pinch ground ginger
  • 1/2 lb crab meat (I used imitation–it’s super inexpensive and still delicious)
  • extra cilantro for topping (optional)

For the Spicy Peanut Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (I used chunky)
  • 3 tbs unsweetened almond or coconut milk
  • 2-3 tbs reduced sodium soy sauce (use gluten-free if applicable)
  • 2 tbs fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbs red chili paste
  • handful fresh cilantro,finely chopped

Directions:

  1. Cook quinoa to package instructions.
  2. While quinoa is cooking, prepare the sauce by warming peanut butter and milk in a medium microwave safe bowl for 10-15 seconds. Whisk in all remaining sauce ingredients and set aside.
  3. In a large wok pan over medium heat, sautee garlic and onion in canola oil until golden and fragrant–about 5 minutes. Add eggs stirring constantly to scramble. When eggs have reached scrambled egg consistency, add remaining vegetables, soy sauce and ginger. Cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Add cooked quinoa and crab meat. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, tossing constantly to combine.
  5. Serve topped with spicy peanut sauce and cilantro.

Maui Part 2 (Hike Maui)

Painted Eucalyptus  AKA "Tourist Tree" because they turn red and peel. Haha. Great joke, Maui.

Want to know what my very favorite part of my honeymoon was???

LOOK AT ME!!!!! I SWAM TO THE WATERFALL IN FREEZING COLD OPEN WATER!!!! I’M BRAVE!!!!

The all day hike. DUH. Shocking, right? ;) Well, the hiking part wasn’t all day. We did 2 hikes that totaled about 5 miles, so that was actually a pretty short amount the day, but the whole activity including the drive to Hana was all day. 6am-7:30pm of awesomeness.

If you’ve ever been to Maui, you’ve probably heard people talk about “The Road to Hana”. You don’t actually go to Hana, you do The Road to Hana. The road that includes 600 “hair pin turns” and 54 1 lane bridges. That’s why lots of people pay someone to drive them around. That didn’t interest me. I have a husband that gets zero driver anxiety. If I need to get somewhere, I bat my eyelashes and look cute (works every time). However, when I discovered we could do The Road to Hana, and participate in the most challenging hike the Hike Maui brochure offered, I was sold.

Most people spend their time in Maui on the west side of the Island. That’s where places like Lahaina are, and where people do all the touristy things. However, the east side of the island is like a completely different world! The west side looks kind of deserty. When you enter the east side, it’s like being transported into the most gorgeous tropical rainforest! Our guide Randy was incredibly knowledgeable, and in just the drive, I learned so much!

Painted Eucalyptus AKA “Tourist Tree” because they turn red and peel. Haha. Great joke, Maui.

WAVES!! I love the ocean. I’ve always found it to be the most calming, peaceful place.

For our first stop, we put on WATER SHOES!!! What??? We were told to get ready to hike through some mud! I wasn’t quite sure what I had gotten myself into, but I put on my shoes, and sucked it up. Actually, getting muddy was FUN. I used to be all “Wahhh I don’t like to get dirty” and annoying, but I’m branching out, people! The muddy hike was short and steep. It took us to a beautiful waterfall (see the top pic). Everyone started getting in the water and swimming across to it, but I was scared. It was cold. I couldn’t touch the bottom. I’ve never swam across open water (yes, in 27 years–I’m a wimp). Finally, I got the heck out of my own way, and swam to the waterfall, and it was AWESOME!!! I definitely would have regretted it if I’d skipped out.

Our next stop was the famous black sand beach! Soooo cool!

Finally we arrived on the east side of Haleakala, and began our longer hike.

These are the trees they used in Lost to hide from the smoke monster.

This is my I Made It To The Top I’m A Warrior face. I make it often. I like it because there’s no double chin. Randy got me with only 1 chin in every picture. I like that guy.

If you ever find yourself in Maui, I HIGHLY suggest hitting up Hike Maui, requesting Randy, and doing the all day thing. If I were to go back, I would even pay to do it a second time!

 

Roasted Macadamia Butter

No, my big plans aren't eating it with a spoon. I wish.

I don’t like pineapple. I don’t like the way it looks; I don’t like the way it smells; I don’t like how it’s all spiky and uninviting. As soon as we checked into our hotel/condo in Maui, we were handed a pineapple. Almost all of the drinks contain pineapple juice, and everything you order comes with a pineapple wedge! Steve loves them, so this was pretty much his dream come true. I, however, wanted to only eat coconut and macadamia nuts the entire trip. Oh, and fish. SO MUCH FISH. Anyway, we were given some macadamia nuts on one of our activities, and I was reminded just how delicious they are, and clearly that meant I needed to turn them into butter.

Have you ever seen macadamia butter at the store??? I have not, and I ask you: why not? I don’t get it. If every nut can be made into nut butter, why is the rest of the universe not as obsessed with this idea as I am??? I mean, it’s SO EASY. You just dump some nuts into a food processor

Look at all my red Kitchenaid appliances. They match. They are a happy Kitchenaid family. I love them like my children.

Turn it on

Whisper sweet nothings Stand impatiently in the kitchen for what seems like an hour, but is probably about 4-5 minutes, sighing a lot waiting for it to be done. Then, before you know it, you have this:

In fact, the macadamia nuts worked better than any other nut I’ve used so far. I didn’t have to add any oil, and it turned out the perfect drippy texture.

In fact, depending on your taste, you could make it with just the nuts, and no added ingredients. I like a little more flavor in mine, so I added a little raw turbinado sugar and some extra sea salt.

I put some on my rice cake before my long run on Saturday and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I kind of wanted to take the entire jar and pour it into my mouth, then go into a deep and peaceful food coma. That sounded much better than running at 4am. I settled for a little extra on my rice cake, and called it a day. Besides, I have big plans for this stuff. BIG PLANS.

No, my big plans aren’t eating it with a spoon. I wish.

Macadamia Butter

yield 1/2 pint

  • 1 1/2 cups salted roasted macadamia nuts
  • 1 tsp turbinado sugar
  • pinch sea salt (optional, depending on taste)

Directions:

  1. Pour all ingredients into your food processor, and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Transfer to half pint jar and store in refrigerator.

**Note: You may store at room temperature, but macadamias are a very oily nut. Keep refrigerated for best texture, or if keeping for more than 2 weeks.

 

Maui Part 1

We spent the extra $20 a day and got a stupid touristy red convertible. Totally worth it.

I didn’t say much about my honeymoon. I’ve mostly been waiting for pictures, but truth be told, there’s not a whole lot to say. It was AWESOME. I loved almost every second. Instead, I just wanted to show you some of the highlights :)

We spent the extra $20 a day and got a stupid touristy red convertible. Totally worth it.

Napili Bay

I have an ice cream problem.

My favorite. On our sunset dinner cruise.

DOLPHINS!!!! Near Lanai, on our snorkeling trip.

On top of the clouds @ Haleakala

More to come, as well as lots of Hawaii inspired recipes. I took notes….on my honeymoon. Don’t judge me.