Thursday, November 28, 2013

40 Minute Treadmill Workout.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope this finds you enjoying wonderful family and/or friend time with those you love. I am lucky and grateful this week to get to spend time with almost my entire extended family and my husband's immediate family as well.

Here is a quick treadmill run to get back into the fitness routine tomorrow with a descending speed workout. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Winter Running Challenge - Week 5.

Chicago had its first 'sticking' snow yesterday. It was really pretty and festive, but I forgot how unpleasant it is to walk on icy sidewalks and streets. It's time to invest in shoes with better tracking!

Anyways. We are now half-way done with the Winter Running Challenge! It's hard to believe Christmas is less than one month away.

I should be at 50 miles this week, but I'm missing about ~8 miles on my total. Hoping to make up for that over the next few weeks.

The weekly update:

Winter Running Challenge Log: Week 5
Tuesday: Sculpt class
Wednesday: Ran 4 miles {treadmill}
Thursday: Ran 3.2 miles {outside}
Friday: Ran 2 miles {outside}
Monday: Ran 4.8 miles {treadmill}
= 14 miles
Week 4 total = 0 miles
Week 3 total = 14 miles
Week 2 total = 11.35 miles
Week 1 total= 3.1 miles
42.45 miles ~ 42.45% to goal

Monday, November 25, 2013

Door County Cherry Cobbler.

This weekend we attended an annual "friendsgiving" dinner and I made a tart cherry dessert - this is by no means a healthy dessert given the amount of butter and sugar involved. But cherries are good for you, right? Eating cherries like this is worth every extra minute on the treadmill to me!

The consistency of this dessert is closer to cake than a traditional crisp or crumble. I love how pockets of cake are mixed in with huge bites of cherries.

You can use frozen cherries from the grocery store for this, I recommend tart or sour cherries if you can find them. I used frozen tart cherries that I picked fresh back in August. I was in Door County {Wisconsin} with my husband's family and we found a 'pick your own cherry' orchard, Falcon Orchard. We happened to be there on one of the last days cherries were ripe for picking, and the orchard only charged 75 cents per pound. I could have stayed all day!

We picked 20 pounds, and spent many hours later that weekend pitting each individual cherry. I still have {most} of these frozen cherries in my freezer. I'm hoping to make as many cherry recipes as possible over the holidays to share the love.

Door County Cherry Cobbler
Serves 10-12.

Cherry base:
1.5 pounds frozen tart cherries
3 Tablespoons white sugar
3 Tablespoons white flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 and 3/4 cups white flour
1 and 1/2 cups white sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt

Brown butter:
7 Tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla

Step 1 - Mix the cherry base.
  • Stir the sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt with frozen cherries. Layer evenly in a 13-9 baking dish.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Step 2 - Mix the dough and combine with the cherry base.
  • Whisk the eggs. Place the dough ingredients in a bowl and create a dough with your hands. The dough is ready once all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. It will be very sticky, but don't worry - it's supposed to be. 
  • Incorporate the dough with the cherries.
Step 3 - Brown the butter.
  • Heat butter on low in a saucepan. Once it is almost completely melted, turn the heat up to medium-low and stir occasionally until the butter turns a light brown color.
  • Pour the browned butter over the cherry + dough mixture in the baking dish.
Step 4 - Bake!
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes. The dessert is done when the top turns light brown. Let the cobbler rest for 15 minutes before serving.
{Adapted from theKitchn's Tart Cherry Crumble}

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Italian Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf.

I have a new favorite recipe that I am so excited to share! I planned to make my usual {and favorite} BBQ honey turkey meatloaf this week. But I have leftover Kerrygold Irish White Cheddar Cheese to use {goodness it is delicious - my first purchase and will not be the last}.

I figured out how to incorporate this cheese into a healthy recipe using the extra lean ground turkey already purchased. I also love quinoa and am always trying to think of how to use it in an unusual way. Try out this recipe over the weekend as a healthy, pre-holiday dinner!

Italian Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf
Serves 4.

1 and 1/4 pounds extra lean ground turkey
1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
2/3 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup dry quinoa
1 egg
1 cup marinara sauce {for dipping or drizzling!}
2 garlic cloves
1/2 bag {3 ounces} spinach
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Black pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste

How to:

Step 1 - Cook the quinoa.
  • Rinse dry quinoa thoroughly with water. I like to use a mesh colander and rinse the quinoa through it at least twice. More details about cooking quinoa can be found HERE, from leaf + grain.
  • Bring rinsed quinoa and chicken broth to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes {until water has dissolved}.
Step 2 - Saute the spinach.
  • While the quinoa is cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Chop the garlic cloves and heat olive oil in a pan on medium. Saute the garlic it just starts to turn brown, then turn down the heat to low and add the spinach, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir occasionally until the spinach is fully wilted. I ended up adding spinach in two batches because there was so much!
Step 3 - Mix the meatloaf.
  • Place the raw turkey into a large bowl and whisk the egg. Pour the egg onto the meat and add the shredded cheese, sauteed spinach, and quinoa. Don't over-mix as this will result in a 'tough' meatloaf. I like to mix with my hands just until the ingredients are combined.
Step 4 - Bake!
  • Bake for one hour in a greased loaf pan, or form into a log on a greased cookie sheet. The meatloaf is finished cooking when the internal temperature reaches 160+ degrees.

I used my favorite marinara sauce instead of making a "real" sauce. We use jars when possible here!

{Adapted from's Turkey and Quinoa Meatloaf}

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Winter Running Challenge - Week 4.

It's the end of week four of the Winter Running Challenge, and I have a lot to make up for over the next seven days! I decided to post this challenge to keep me honest on a weekly basis. Today that means sharing that I ran zero miles during week four... oops.

I have an excuse though - my husband and I spent a long weekend in Savannah, GA and Charleston, SC and attended a beautiful family wedding. I had all the best intentions of running while on vacation. I brought my favorite running clothes and shoved running shoes into my carry-on. Alas, it didn't happen and I wasted a lot of suitcase space. We were too busy eating all the southern things, including pecan pie and too many pralines. I came home with a Southern cookbook and two pounds of dry grits that I am SO excited to use. More on that later.

This week I will be eating all the vegetables and running to make up for those missing ten miles! Here goes the weekly update:

Winter Running Challenge Log: Week 4
Tuesday: Sculpt class
Thursday - Monday: Vacation...
= 0 miles
Week 3 total = 14 miles
Week 2 total = 11.35 miles
Week 1 total= 3.1 miles
28.45 miles ~ 28.45% to goal

Monday, November 18, 2013

Southwest Stuffed White Acorn Squash.

I have a goal of using more of what is in season when cooking, and this is the perfect time of year to use as much winter squash as possible. Last month I picked up my first "white" or "gold" acorn squash at the grocery store, and it's my favorite kind to cook with so far.

Making this recipe was the third time in just a few weeks that I have stuffed a white acorn squash with various things. The white version of acorn squash tastes a bit more mild and less sweet than the dark green acorn variety, making it easy to pair with any combination of fillings.

Southwest Stuffed White Acorn Squash
Serves 4, one-half squash each.

2 white acorn squash
2 cups spinach
1 cup white rice
3/4 cup smokey cheddar cheese
1/2 pound ground turkey
1/2 cup black beans
1/2 cup sweet corn
3 Tablespoons salsa
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1/2 an avocado
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper, to taste

How to:

1) Cut the white acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Rub a small amount of olive oil on each half (about 1/2 teaspoon each). Season with salt and pepper. Roast for ~30 minutes at 375 degrees. The squash is done when you can easily stick a fork in.

2) While the squash is roasting, cook your rice in your preferred way {I used a rice cooker}. Saute and brown the ground turkey, breaking it up into smaller pieces as it cooks. While the turkey is cooking, heat the black beans, corn, and salsa on low in a saucepan. Once the turkey is almost finished, mix in the spinach and cover the saucepan to wilt it.

3) Stir the cooked rice with butter and cilantro. Mix in the black beans / corn / salsa and stuff the squash halves. Top each squash half with a few tablespoons of cheese. Bake in the oven again at 375 for 5 minutes to melt the cheese. Top with avocado slices and eat!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Farro & Pear Roasted Chickpea Salad.

I have been trying to think of a way to use farro and pears in a warm, seasonally appropriate salad. There have been so many great re-pins for fall recipes on Pinterest lately! The combination that keeps coming up again and again is maple. The sweet syrup - I don't use it often enough.

My wonderful sister-in-law has a successful blog {Make the Best of Everything} and she posted a recipe for maple and peanut butter roasted chickpeas last week. That idea combined with my love of roasting all vegetables brought this together:

Farro & Pear Roasted Chickpea Salad with Maple Vinaigrette
Serves 2, with leftovers.

1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup farro
2 cups spinach
1 can chickpeas
1 cup quartered brussel sprouts
3 teaspoons maple syrup {I used Grade A}
1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup dried cherries
1 pear
2 Tablespoons goat cheese
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

Step 1 - Cook farro.
  • Bring 1 cup chicken broth and 1/2 cup farro to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  • When most of the liquid has been absorbed, add 2 cups of spinach and stir until wilted.
Step 2 - Roast the chickpeas and brussel sprouts while the farro is simmering.
  • Toss 1 can chickpeas with 2 teaspoons maple syrup and a dash of salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees on a cookie sheet, making sure the chickpeas are evenly spread.
  • Toss 1 cup quartered brussel sprouts with 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.
Step 4 - Prepare the Mix-ins and Dressing.
  • Cut the pear into small cubes, and set aside 1/3 cup dried cherries and 2 Tablespoons goat cheese.
  • For the dressing, whisk the following:
    • 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard 
    • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
    • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
    • Dash of salt and pepper
Step 5 - Mix and Serve.
  • Mix the farro and spinach combination with the roasted brussel sprouts, chickpeas, and dried cherries. Top with dressing and stir.
  • Top each plate with 1 Tablespoon goat cheese and pear chunks. Devour!
{Adapted from Martha Stewart's Fall Salad with Maple Vinaigrette}

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Winter Running Challenge - Week 3.

Today is the end of week three of the Winter Running Challenge - I am almost back on track, just 1.5 miles shy of where I should be going into week four.

Winter Running Challenge Log: Week 3
Tuesday: Ran 4.4 miles {treadmill}
Thursday: Ran 2.6 miles {treadmill}
Saturday: Ran 3 miles
Sunday: Ran 4 miles
= 14 miles
Week 2 total = 11.35 miles
Week 1 total= 3.1 miles
28.45 miles ~ 28.45% to goal

I also want to share a new recipe for a green smoothie that I whipped up this past weekend. I love the green color it turned - I kept adding spinach while blending because it wasn't quite 'green' enough! Delicious.

Green Strawberry Smoothie
2+ cups spinach
2 Tablespoons PB2 {still obsessed}
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup almond milk {I used original, non-sweetened}
1 Chobani yogurt {I used apricot, but strawberry would be soo good here!}

Monday, November 11, 2013

45 Minute Treadmill Run.

Happy Monday y'all!

I can say "y'all" this one time because my husband and I are leaving for vacation later this week, a long weekend trip to the south to attend a family wedding. I am so excited to eat delicious southern food and soak up new surroundings for a few days!

On the fitness front, I am trying to work up my speed on the treadmill this month. This workout sets a very modest pace increase, but I love that the constant changes in time and speed made this workout go by quickly. My goal is to get to the point where I can run intervals easily at 6.0 and above. I'm hoping to squeeze in this run again before we leave on our trip.

I have also been looking for articles about running intervals - this seems like the best way to try increasing my speed on the treadmill. Here are a few interesting links:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Roasted Cauliflower & Rutabega Soup.

I got married in June, and one of my {our!} favorite wedding gifts is a beautiful blue Le Creuset dutch oven. I am in soup research mode only because I want to use this beautiful pot. Good thing it's the perfect time of year!

We are also still trying to use up CSA vegetables, which turned this particular version into a rutabega soup with a few carrots thrown in for good measure. This is a very earthy and hearty soup recipe, and could easily be made vegan by leaving out the cheese and using vegetable broth.

Roasted Cauliflower & Rutabega Soup
1 and 1/4 heads cauliflower
1 rutabega
1 yellow onion
1 shallot
2 carrots
4 celery stalks
4 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup smoked cheddar cheese
4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons thyme
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon rosemary
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Salt, to taste

How to:
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Chop the cauliflower florets and peel and chop the rutabega. Dice the garlic, and mix it with the chopped cauliflower and rutabega. Toss with 1 Tablespoon olive oil and season with black pepper and salt. Roast for 25 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  2. While the vegetables are roasting, finely chop the onion, shallot, celery, and carrots. Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a dutch oven or large soup pot over medium heat. Saute the onion, shallot, celery and carrots until soft, about 10 minutes.
  3. Pour the chicken broth into your soup pot. When the vegetables are done roasting, carefully pour them into the dutch oven and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer on low for 25 minutes {with the lid on}.
  4. Use an immersion {or regular} blender to puree the soup after it's done simmering and the vegetables are soft. After the soup is pureed, stir in the grated cheese until smooth. 
The colorful mixture will look something like this while simmering:

{Adapted from Roasted Cauliflower & Cheddar Soup by two peas & their pod}

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes for Two.

I cook for two on a daily basis, which can be hard sometimes. I try to reduce recipes because we don't want multiple containers of leftovers hanging around, but my attempts to cut the quantity of ingredients doesn't always work out!

Happily this recipe was easy to make for two, and only left me with leftover canned black beans and sweet corn which I froze and can always re-make into something delicious. This is a great and satisfying vegetarian dinner that comes together quickly once your potatoes are baked!

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes for Two
2 sweet potatoes
2/3 cup 2% cheddar cheese, plus 1 Tablespoon
1/3 cup black beans
1/3 cup sweet corn
2 Tablespoons salsa
2 Tablespoons cilantro {chopped}
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper and salt, to taste

How to:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Rub the sweet potatoes with olive oil and place on a baking sheet on top of aluminum foil. Make sure to stick each potato with a fork a few times before baking. 
  2. Roast the sweet potatoes for 40-50 minutes {depending on their size}. The sweet potatoes are done when you can easily stick in a fork.
  3. While the potatoes are roasting, heat the black beans, corn, and salsa on low and sprinkle with black pepper and salt.
  4. When the sweet potatoes are done roasting, carefully scoop out the inside of each, leaving the outer shell intact. Mash the sweet potato insides in a bowl and add the black beans, corn, and salsa mixture, and the cheese. 
  5. Re-fill the sweet potato shells with the potato mix and sprinkle with the extra Tablespoon of cheese. Bake again in the oven for 5 minutes.
  6. Top the stuffed potatoes with 1 Tablespoon cilantro each and enjoy!

{Adapted from Twice-Baked Southwestern Sweet Potatoes by haute apple pie}

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Winter Running Challenge - Week 2.

Today is the end of week two of the Winter Running Challenge - this week went much better! I am still behind from the runs I missed during the first week, but I am planning to catch up in week three.

The weather has been warmer here, in the upper 50's, which makes me really happy to do runs outside. I am traveling for work at the end of this week so I'm hoping to squeeze in a hotel treadmill workout or two to keep me on track.

Winter Running Challenge Log: Week 2
Tuesday: Sculpt class
Wednesday: Ran 3.55 miles
Friday: Ran 3.2 miles
Sunday: Ran 4.6 miles
Week 2 total = 11.35 miles
Week 1 total= 3.1 miles
14.45 miles ~ 14.45% to goal

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Baked BBQ Honey Turkey Meatballs.

Yesterday morning I picked up my first 'red cup' of the season from Starbucks after a coffee fail at home. I love when the red cup comes back every year! It makes me think of holiday activities, cozy winter days, Christmas... 

I know, it's too early. I promise I'm not a person who starts listening to holiday music on November 3rd.

Anyways. Last week I made a healthy version of baked meatballs, something I had never done before. I did not like meat of any kind when I was a child, especially meatloaf. I still don't care for beef or pork and don't eat either very often. However, my husband and I do cook a lot with lean ground turkey and chicken. We have a favorite recipe for bbq meatloaf that I sub with ground turkey {link below} and I thought it would be fun to try meatballs instead. It worked!

Baked BBQ Honey Turkey Meatballs
1 pound 99% lean ground turkey
1/2 cup barbeque sauce
1/2 cup bread crumbs {I used garlic & herb flavored}
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tablespoon spicy brown mustard
1 Tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes

How to:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, use your hands to mix all of the ingredients together, just until evenly distributed. 
  2. Shape the mixture into balls and place on a baking sheet. I formed 22 meatballs about 1-inch in diameter.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes. If you want a nice 'crust' on both sides of the meatball, use a spatula to flip them over halfway through baking. 
  4.  Serve with more BBQ sauce for dipping!
For the barbeque sauce, I used a mix of my favorite Sweet Baby Ray's original as well as their sweet and spicy sauce.

{Adapted from a favorite recipe for Honey Barbecue Meatloaf from Can You Stay for Dinner?}