hearty oatmeals & the big race

May 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Yes it’s true, I have been training for a marathon for the past five months and now can officially say, I finished! I feel incredibly accomplished and yet a bit sad that it’s over. Don’t get me wrong, the aches, soreness and constant need for a heating pad will not be missed, but the runner in me loved a lot of those long run miles and training has always been a little side passion of mine.

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I think a lot of peoples’ Memorial Day weekends were cold and rainy like ours. We were in Vermont for the long weekend and got nothing but heavy, constant rain with temperatures hovering in the low 40s all weekend. There was even snow! Yes, snow in the mountains. The ski resorts reopened and offered free skiing to anyone who wanted to enjoy fresh powder in late May. It was a crazy weather weekend and nothing that we had trained for. Luckily with tremendous support from our families and friends, my boyfriend and I were able to check a bucket list item off. We simply could not have done it without them. They stood in the rain and cold all morning, cheered and hollered every time we passed them on the course, and hugged us, all wet, sweaty and covered in mud at the finish line, with the proudest of grins. So I have to say thank you to all of them once again. Thank you for putting up with our strict eating habits and early bedtimes. Thank you for all the good wishes and congratulatory hugs. Thank you for dealing with us over the past few months with all of our complaints and excuses while we ran and ran and ran.

I also must thank Ross, who pushed me, struggled with me and made me believe that we could do this. I now know we can do anything together.

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It’s a funny feeling completing something so big. I was so incredibly happy that day. Like most things you look forward to, the anticipation was nerve wrecking and exciting, but the actual event flew by. If you can believe it, four hours of running in the cold rain felt like 30 minutes. I was done before I even knew what I had achieved. And now that it’s over, it is a bit sad. I may never run a marathon again, and even if I do, I will never be able to run my FIRST marathon again. I can not be too sad though, because we could not have asked for a better race. We just wanted to finish, but secretly, we wanted to finish under 4 hours. We finished in 3 hours and 53 minutes. Who knew seven minutes could make you feel so fabulous.

And so with all this talk about running it only seems appropriate to share some of my go to running food. We ate a lot of oatmeal over the past few months in preparation and I wanted to share a few hearty ones. There is just enough to these recipes that they keep you full but nothing too crazy that will upset your stomach, in case you want to go for a little run yourself.

Blackberry & Yogurt Oatmeal
Serves 1

1 tablespoon slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon agave nectar
cinnamon, for sprinkling
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1/3 cup fresh blackberries

In a small sauté pan, toast the almonds over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from pan and let cool.

In a small bowl combine oats, milk, chia seeds, agave and a few sprinkles of cinnamon. Place bowl in the microwave and heat for 1 minute. Stir and heat for another 30 seconds. (The oats and milk will puff up quite high in the bowl, this is a good thing. Overflowing is not.)

Top the cooked oatmeal with yogurt, toasted almonds and blackberries.

Blueberry & Almond Crumble Oatmeal
Serves 1

1 tablespoon slivered almonds, toasted
3 to 4 large prunes
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
cinnamon, for sprinkling
1/3 cup fresh blueberries

In a small sauté pan, toast the almonds over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from pan and let cool.

In a food processor combine toasted almonds and prunes. Pulse until tiny pieces form.

In a small bowl combine oats, milk and a few sprinkles of cinnamon. Place bowl in the microwave and heat for 1 minute. Stir and heat for another 30 seconds.

Top cooked oatmeal with the almond and prune crumble and cover with lots of fresh blueberries.

roasted red pepper & goat cheese salad

May 24, 2013 § 1 Comment

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Ever since I decided that meat just wasn’t for me, everyone has been telling me to get the salad. Out to lunch with girlfriends, “Oh, just get the salad”. Over for dinner at a friends house, “Oh, here are two salads I made for you, and there’s some asparagus too.” I love vegetables, I really do, but I don’t love them when they are the only things on my plate. And ever since everyone started telling me to just get the salad, I have rebelled against it.

I’ll order the grilled cheese instead and hate it. I’ll get a roasted veggie wrap and just pick at it. It wasn’t until recently that I gave in and said, “Fine, I’ll get the salad”. And you know what, it was just perfect. I really do love salads when they have crisp greens, fresh flavors, and are hearty enough that I don’t need another meal an hour later. I have learned my lesson though too. Don’t get the salad at the tiny diner filled with iceberg lettuce, one tomato and wilted cucumber slices. Don’t order the salad at a bar, smothered in creamy Caesar dressing and croutons you can barely crunch into. These are not the salads I speak of. And I have learned that at these places I should stick with my guns and not order the salad! But I have also released some tensions towards people telling me I must get the salad. In a cute café, yes I do want the salad. At a nice dinner, as a starter, yes the salad would be just fine. At times, yes, I still become my stubborn self and say no, I can eat more than a salad and get the sandwich I don’t really want. And I regret it as soon as the food arrives.

One particular salad I’ve fallen in love with, is originally from a Vermont café. When I was in my teens and young 20s, my college years, my mom would swoop me downtown every chance she could get. You would find us at one of two places, Mirabelles or New Moon. It was our girl talk time, away from other family members, just the two of us, catching up the way only a mother and daughter can. There were iced coffees with too much sugar, plenty of macaroons dipped in chocolate, and a salad we just couldn’t get enough of.

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Whenever we found our way to New Moon we would get the house salad loaded with mixed greens, roasted red peppers, goat cheese and toasted pine nuts. Unfortunately, over the years as I moved away from Vermont and my mom and I find ourselves with less and less time to sit in cafes together, our beloved salad changed as well. It’s no longer rich with goat cheese and simple flavors; it has all this other stuff in it now. And neither of us seem to want to order the new house salad on the menu.

I still have the fond memories of sipping our coffees, eating this salad and gossiping away, but now the memory has translated to home. Since we can’t get it out, I make it and my mom make it at home all the time, usually when we are in each others company. I’m happy to say we will most likely be making it together this Memorial Day weekend.

Serves 2
Recipe inspired by New Moon

mixed greens
1 red pepper, roasted, peeled and sliced
pine nuts, toasted
goat cheese

3 tablespoons balsamic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
pinch of salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the whole red pepper on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes on the top shelf of the oven. Flip the pepper over and roast for another 20 minutes. Pepper is done when all sides are slightly charred. Remove from the oven and place pepper in a plastic bag, seal tightly. Allow to cool in the fridge. Once cooled, peel off all the skin and remove seeds. Slice thinly.

Whisk all dressing ingredients together. In a large bowl toss mixed greens, roasted red pepper and dressing. Sprinkle salad with pine nuts and use a fork to scrape small chunks of goat cheese on top. Serve immediately.

whole wheat waffles

May 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Sunday mornings are one of my favorite times of the week. We usually try to sleep in, I try and make a bigger breakfast, and we take our time with the Sunday paper. It’s one of the most peaceful times. I really love the quiet in the morning; when you can sip your coffee slowly, eat seconds if you want to and have nothing to rush off to. Every Sunday when we are home, we indulge ourselves in this tradition.

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It’s also a fun time for me in the kitchen. I’m usually – no, always – the first one up, which gives me some extra time to cook. We eat a lot of waffles, pancakes and French toast on Sundays. If I’m feeling extra ambitious I’ll make muffins, scones or some kind of bread. It’s the only time we really indulge in breakfast and it’s a nice change up from the week’s routine of English muffins and cereal.

This past Sunday was all about waffles. I have had trouble with my waffle iron in the past, it’s probably at least five years old and over time I feel like it’s been losing its power. I had been struggling to get any crunch on my waffles and was starting to not make them at all. Soggy waffles are not a happy start to the day. Come to find out, it wasn’t my waffle iron but rather the waffle batter I was using and maybe a bit of impatience on my part. I have made this new batter a few times now with great success. I also leave the batter in a bit longer than ever before to get that extra golden crunch.

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The other great part about this recipe is the toppings. I have started to put Greek yogurt on almost everything. The combination is creamy and sweet and makes the waffles feel so indulgent. It is the perfect Sunday morning treat.

Serves 2 (Makes 3 large waffles)
Inspired by The FauxMartha

Batter:
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
cooking spray

Toppings:
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/3 cup berries
maple syrup, for drizzling

Heat up a waffle iron.

In a small bowl mix together the liquid ingredients: egg, milk, orange juice, vanilla and vegetable oil. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients: flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and whisk until combined.

Once the waffle iron is heated, spray with a touch of oil. Pour in a heaping amount of batter. Our machine needs about 1/2 cup, but it will all depend on the size of your machine. (I find it’s best to go small on the first test. When you overflow the batter, it becomes quite a mess to clean up!) Cook the batter until golden brown and crispy, again this will depend on your machine but it takes mine about 4-5 minutes.

Top each waffle with a bit of Greek yogurt and load on the berries. Then drizzle just a dab of maple syrup on each. Enjoy immediately while the waffle is still warm.

cranberry, almond & goat cheese salad

May 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Everyone should have a couple go to salads, ones that are easy to throw together but still pack lots of flavor. These types of salads will come in handy all the time when you can’t be bothered to think of something new to make for lunch or as a nice dinner addition. You’ll end up making them all the time, so pick good ones.

I have two salads that I love and make all the time, each one only has three main ingredients and can be tossed together in less than 10 minutes. I may treat these salads as fallback recipes, since I have made them so many times, but I am always surprised by how tasty they are. The combination of flavors never seems to get old.

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What’s great about this salad is you have a bunch of possible substitutions; you can use spinach in place of the mixed greens and roasted beets in place of the dried cranberries (you just need something sweet). That’s what’s so nice about salads, the combinations of ingredients are endless, and this is a simple base to play with.

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mixed greens
slivered almonds, toasted
dried cranberries
goat cheese

balsamic vinegar (more acidic than sweet)*
good olive oil

In a large bowl toss mixed greens with balsamic and olive oil. Top the salad with toasted almonds and dried cranberries. Using a fork scrape small chunks of goat cheese over the salad. Serve immediately.

*You need less dressing than you think. You want to be able to really taste the other ingredients, so just a touch of olive oil and balsamic will do the trick!

decadent hot fudge

May 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

HotFudge

My chocolate love has no limits, it spreads beyond traditional cookies and chocolate covered anything. So, when I came across this recipe for peppermint hot fudge during the holidays this past year I fell in love. I adore mint with chocolate. It’s one of those combinations that will never get old. I mean who doesn’t like a Junior Mint? I hold it up to the same prestigious standard as peanut butter and chocolate.

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What I love about this recipe and post is that the food was packagable and, therefore, sharable. I really love the idea of giving food as a gift. Buying cute jars, making labels and using bright ribbon is right up my alley. I still struggle with actually doing this though. Timing is everything with homemade gifts and during the holidays I find myself doing so much cooking that I loose track of food gifts. But a girl can hope right?

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So if I couldn’t make hot fudge as a gift I would make it for myself. The only thing I didn’t like about this recipe was the first two ingredients, heavy cream and corn syrup. I don’t like to use ingredients that I don’t typically keep in my house. I used to follow recipes religiously. I would go out and buy that one ingredient that you needed only 1/2 teaspoon of that cost $10 for the tiniest jar. Now that jar still sits in my cupboard 9/10th of the way full, with no telling when it will get used again. And so I’ve stopped buying ingredients that I know I won’t use again.

Heavy cream is something I rarely buy. I might pick it up during the holidays to make a nice whipped cream but otherwise I find it unnecessary. However, I always have milk in the house, and that’s my go to replacement. I don’t think I have ever bought corn syrup before, I think more on principle then anything else. There are just some items I don’t think are worth putting in recipes. Usually when I stumble on a recipe with these types of ingredients I pass it over. But this hot fudge looked too tasty to pass up, so I improvised and made some substitutions.

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I had never actually made hot fudge before my first attempt a few months ago. Yes, I was a Hershey’s jar girl. I mean it’s right next to the ice cream aisle in the market. When I made this hot fudge though it was so easy and still so decadent and I loved that it was freshly warmed to pour right over ice cream. And I even had a cute jar to keep it in. So today I share with you a classic hot fudge recipe to be served over mint ice cream! The only requirement is that it has to be eaten in two weeks. It won’t keep longer than that!

Makes about 1 cup
Inspired by Smitten Kitchen

1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract*

In a small pot, heat milk, cocoa, and sugar over medium-low heat. Once warmed, add the chocolate chips, butter and vanilla. Turn heat up to medium and cook until it starts to bubble, stirring occasionally. Once it begins to bubble, cook for an additional 3 minutes, stirring constantly. This is where all the thickness will come from.

Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before serving. Keep in the fridge and reheat when needed.

*This is where you can mix up your flavors a bit by adjusting the extract. Try an almond or peppermint extract for flavor variety.

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