Tuesday, May 25, 2010

humidity is a killer!

Today was deemed a "work from home" day, so I was able to make myself lunch with my last bit of chicken.  I chose a chicken, vegetable, and dumpling soup (recipe #26).  Let me just say, I LOVE dumplings!  My boyfriend's mom makes a very delicious chicken and dumpling recipe, and every time she makes it it's like heaven.  They are pretty easy too - just Bisquick and milk!  The soup was easy to make and pretty tasty, and filled me up for my run with M today.  (I have a picture - just haven't had a chance to upload it)

I think I'm learning as I get more into running that the weather can make a huge difference!  It was ridiculously humid today, and it definitely slowed me down.  We stuck with 1 minute walking and 5 minutes running today.  My last run was 3.66 miles for 42 minutes at an 11:30 pace.  today was 3.8 miles for 48 minutes at a 12:37 pace!  Blah.  The first half of the run, I could definitely tell I was moving slow, but I just couldn't get myself to go any faster.  M has been going faster on her own too, so I know we both are perfectly capable!  I was curious if we really did speed up halfway through, so I broke down the pace for the first 24 minutes vs. the second 24: we started out with a 12:59 pace and then ended with a 12:18 pace - definitely improved, but still not very fast!  In addition to the ridiculous humidity, I also wonder if being with M and chatting during our runs keeps me from pushing myself to go faster.  I think next time we run together (which won't be for almost two weeks!) I'll have to concentrate a little bit more on pushing the pace and see if we do any better.

I'm leaving town tomorrow, so I don't know how frequently I'll be posting!  But to keep myself accountable, I'll let you know that I plan on running three times while I'm gone (I'll be back late at night Sunday June 6th): Thursday, then either Sunday or Tuesday, and again either Friday or Saturday.  I also hope to cook at three meals while I'm gone for friends and family.

Alright - I'm out - have a good Memorial Day, blog world!  

Monday, May 24, 2010

recipe #25!?!

At Target today, I couldn't help but pick up one of my favorite prepared dishes there: Black Bean Couscous!  I think I'm going to have to try to recreate this at home.  Basically, it's black beans, corn, red pepper, green pepper, couscous, onion, olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, salt, pepper, garlic, cumin powder, and some other stuff.  Can't be too hard right?

Given that I'm headed out of town on Wednesday and I have a ton of leftover lasagna, I decided that this week I will use my last bit of chicken to cook two meals and eat leftovers for the rest of this week.  Just a warning: the cooking is going to sparse for the next two weeks!  I'm going on vacation until June 6th, and it's unclear how many opportunities I will have to cook.  But no worries - because I WILL be keeping up with running.

Tonight, I made a Barb-B-Q Chicken Bake.  I forgot to spray the bottom of the pan first... so of course the crust part stuck to the pan.  Oops.  Other than that, this recipe was pretty good, and very easy.  I don't particularly love the barbeque sauce I bought - so when I run out I'll have to try some other kind.  It wasn't very pretty, but here goes:
Can you believe this was my 25th recipe?  And I have 321 days to go.  I'm glad I got started with more than 300 days, as I think summer travels are going to slow me down quite a bit.  Only one more new recipe this week!  I'm realizing that I need to stop making chicken recipes so frequently... I'm going to finish off the chicken by September and be forced to live a chicken-free existence if I'm not careful!  So, when I get back from vacation I'll have to start diversifying.

Tomorrow, M and I are running - rain or shine - so cross your fingers / hope for / pray for the rain to stop so that we can enjoy our run!  Either way we have to go: if we want to run 10 miles in only 321 days, we are going to have to learn to run in rain, shine, warmth, and cold weather.  More no that tomorrow :-)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

my oven does not like broiling.

This morning, I managed to wake up and go to spin class.  Go me!  It was nice to be back at spinning, and it was a teacher I'd never had before - she was pretty good!  I'm not too sore (yet) from spin, but I feel like I got a good work out.  I definitely am going to try to keep going to spin class once (or maybe if I'm feeling crazy, twice!) a week while I become more into running.  I get bored with the same type of exercise, so I think it's  good to continue to mix it up.

After spin class, I was starving, so I made tuna with three-herb pesto.  The tuna was supposed to be broiled, and I once again set my fire alarm off approximately 11 times while I broiled.  I have heard that you are supposed to leave your oven slightly ajar when broiling if you have an electric oven - and I'm wondering if this would help.  Also, the recipe said to broil for 8-10 minutes, but after just 5 my tuna was definitely done, and maybe even slightly more well done than I like it - any more and it would have been a tragedy.  I'm not sure if this is because of the broiler, the recipe, or both.  The three-herb pesto I made to go with it was DELICIOUS!  It calls for all fresh herbs, of which I had none, so I can only imagine how even more delicious it would have been had the herbs been fresh.
Sidenote: I'm basically obsessed with pesto, and very excited to finally know how to make it at home.  Anyway, later today I made Roasted Vegetable Lasagna for a barbeque I'm going to this afternoon/evening.  The recipe turned out to be a little more time-intensive than I had thought.  Also, while making it, I was trying to switch around pots in order to make room on the stove.. and I broke my tea kettle :-( :-( :-(  My beautiful red tea kettle is probably my most favorite kitchen item.  I will be replacing it immediately.  Other than that, making the lasagna wasn't terrible dramatic - just time intensive.  First of all, lasagna noodles are big, so you have to boil water in the largest pot you own in order to cook them... and then drain the water from that pot to get your noodles.  I also had to cut up a crapload of vegetables - including two onions, but I'm proud to say I didn't shed a tear.
The lasagna went over well - I only got compliments!  The only downside is, I have somewhere between one third and one half of it left... meaning, I have a ton of leftovers!  But it was quite delicious, in my opinion, so I can't  complain too much!

Sidenote: at the barbeque today, there was the MOST TERRIFYING STORM EVER.  Mostly because, I kid you not, the lightning seemed so close to us I could have sworn it struck in L's back yard.  Eek!

Friday, May 21, 2010

italian deliciousness

Despite my intense pain from running on Tuesday, by Thursday my  feet were feeling fine!  I had planned to have my next run on Saturday morning, but it's going to rain, so I decided to go this afternoon.  It was a little more humid than it has been lately, but not too hot.  I planned to a 48 minute workout: 8 reps of 1 minute walking / 5 minute running, but by about rep 6 my foot was starting to hurt.  I didn't want to chance getting injured, so after my 7th interval (42 min total) I decided to call it quits and just walk back to cool down.  By the time I got back I felt mostly better, although now I'm a bit sore.  I did pretty well today!  For the 42 minutes, my overall pace was 11:29, so I think my running pace was about 11 minute miles - a little faster than Tuesday!  Woohoo!  I went 3.66 miles total (and then walked back, but didn't time it or anything this time).  M will be back in town soon, so hopefully we can go running together Monday.

I REALLY need to get back into other forms of exercise.  While I am really enjoying running, I need to do more than just run 2x (or, soon to be 3x) a week.  So, I'm going to spin class tomorrow morning.  I *love* spinning, so as long as I can motivate myself to get up and moving in the morning, it should be great!

 Tonight for dinner I made ITALIAN DELICIOUSNESS, aka chicken panzanella.  Chicken, cheese, tomatoes, Italian flavoring, and Italian style croutons... lots of my favorite ingredients.  I was totally craving something with marinara/tomato sauce too, so this was perfect:
Definitely hit the spot and eased my marinara craving.  Woohoo!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

crusing through the recipes: #19, 20, and 21!

Bright and early this morning, I had to go recruit a patient at the hospital, but after that I decided it was a good day to work from home take a nap and be lazy.  Since I "worked from home" I had plenty of time to cook, though!  For lunch, I made Spinach and Chicken Skillet.  I have to say... it was nothing special.  It wasn't bad, but I just wasn't super impressed.  It was a pretty basic and easy recipe, and I think it needed extra spices or herbs or SOMETHING to make it interesting.
Then, I decided to cook up what I'll be having for lunch for the next 2-ish day: Tuna Twist Casserole.  TBD how delicious it is.  But, it was pretty simple - and was definitely the type of thing I used to throw together for myself (although my version was egg noodles, pasta, cream of mushroom soup, and peas).  It said to top it with croutons, which was a little strange, but whatever.  I bought these Italian-style croutons and Kroeger and tried a few as I placed them on the casserole... DELICIOUS!
Lastly, for dinner I made Baked Oregano Chicken.  Let me say, I think I like baking chicken.  And/or I am better at baking chicken than I am at cooking it on the stove top.  It turns out much juicier and more tender.  I realized at the last minute that I had nothing to eat with this, so I made spaghetti noodles and put some Alfredo sauce and veggies in with them.  I think in the future, it would be better to serve with pasta and marinara sauce... this chicken was very reminiscent of Chicken Parmesan, one of my favorites!
After watching The Real Housewives of New Jersey, I have decided that I really want to purchase Skinny Italian, Teresa Giudice's book.  I am pretty in love with Italian food, and the book sounds fabulous.  Alas, I have 279 recipes left to make in the next 325 days, so I will probably hold off on that purchase.

Finally, I want to tell you all (all = about 1 person I think, but that's ok) that I think I have discovered that I like onions.  Not raw onions, which I kind of hate... but a few recent recipes have called for white or red onions chopped up and cooked on a skillet.  I used to detest onions in every form, other than onion rings which are the JAM.  But now I'm learning that so long as the onion is cooked, it's pretty tasty.  This is hilarious to my parents, because as a young child (circa age 3) I apparently enjoyed eating raw onions the way most people eat apples.  Then, by the time I was 8 or so, I refused to eat anything with even a hint of onion.  So anyway - cheers to finding new foods that I enjoy as part of this process!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

leftovers, leg pain & lamb

For lunch today, I had leftover Cheesy Italian Chicken Pie.  After it being quite bland when I originally served it, I decided to top it with a spoonful of alfredo sauce, a little bit more cheese, and tons of herbs and spices: garlic, cilantro, basil, and parsley.  I must say, this was MUCH improved.  So, whenever I get around to making it again, I will definitely have to increase the spices in the batter and add spices to the crust batter as well.  Woohoo for improving meals!

Despite having not worked out since Thursday, and having stretched/rested/iced, I woke up this morning and felt like every part of my legs/feet were in pain.  When I have PMS, I often get pains in my legs, so I think that was the cause of this morning's pain.  All I could think was "how am I going to run today... this is going to suck!"  Luckily, after stretching a ton this morning, taking some Advil and walking around the hospital (where I am currently working) my leg pain started to dissipate.  As much as I liked M's last playlist, I wanted to listen to my own music today, so I made a sweet playlist for my IPod and just kept it low enough that I could still hear my watch beep to tell me when it was time to start running/walking.  I decided to ramp it up and do 1 min walking, 5 min running, since the 4:30 wasn't feeling too aerobically challenging.  I started out fine for the first two reps.  Towards the end of the second rep, I was tempted to stop and stretch... but I normally stop and stretch halfway through, so I pushed through.  Finally at the halfway point (4 reps, so, 24 minutes, and 1.84 miles in) I stopped and stretched.  WOW was my first thought.  My right ankle was so tight.  When I tried to bend my right foot back towards my shin to stretch my calf/etc., it just felt so tight... my foot just did not want to move.  I think I probably took a solid 5 minutes sitting on the stone wall to stretch and pondered if I could push through.  Finally I took a deep breath and started up again.  After only two more reps, I was in pain again.  At the start of the 2nd run, some Maroon 5 song came on which I normally enjoy during work outs, and I just kept thinking ISN'T THIS OVER YET? ... but it was not.  So, after that rep (rep 6, 36 minutes in, now at 2.83 miles) I stopped to stretch again.  I can barely pull my right toe back to stretch out my ankle.  I'm almost positive I'm done now... no way I can keep running.  But I'm on the far side of east campus, so I decide I have to try!  I stand up and wonder if my ankle is swollen... it kind of looks that way.  I walk for about 30 seconds before my watch beeps again and start running.  Luckily for me, one of my favorite songs ever comes on.  Oh K'Naan.  He's rapping about surviving a war in Somalia... but as far as I was concerned he was rapping about me pushing through and finishing this run.  (For those of you who don't listen to the song: the chorus/main line that repeats is "Never let them see my down smile while I'm bleeding."  And yes, I have eclectic music tastes - Maroon 5 and K'Naan on the same mix).

With the new song as incentive to push through my run, I fail to hear my watch let me know that my 5 minutes have passed and I can have my 60 second walking break.  So I don't take it - I just run through my jam.  Then I hear it beep again to tell me to start running, and I decide to just run through the next 5 minutes (which started off with Paramore and then went into a Lupe Fiasco song, in case you were curious.  Also on this mix: The Kooks, Brett Dennen, Spoon, MGMT, and Parker House & Theory.  Eclectic, I told you.)  So anyway, I pushed through my last two reps and ran a solid 11 minutes - and it felt AWESOME! I had finished up the second loop on the East Campus track by then, as well as my 8 reps for a total of 48 minutes, so I decided to cool down and walk back to my car.  I timed my walk back to try to get a feel for my walking pace, which was 15:52.  Using that as a guesstimate for the rest of my 60 second walking stints, I think my mile pace when I was running was almost exactly 12 minutes.  Not too fast, but that's ok.  I also remembered where I started and stopped my 11 minute run, and calculated that I ran a mile in that time!  So basically, I ran that mile in 11 minutes  (woohoo energy form K'Naan) but averaged about 12:20 the rest of the run.  (Overall, I ran 41 minutes, walked 17 minutes, and went 4.5 miles, for an overall average of 12.9 minute miles).

Alright, that was probably more than you ever wanted to know about any single run I went on.  But I was proud of myself for pushing through despite some pain (we'll see how good of a decision that was tomorrow) and for running 11 minutes without stopping!  ... even though my right ankle is a little swollen on top... we'll see how it is tomorrow after lots of ice :-)

For dinner tonight, I cooked Honey-Mint Lamb Chops, and my friend L brought rice and peapods.  I was pretty terrified, since I had never made lamb before... in fact, I'm not sure I had ever HAD lamb before.  So, my first mistake: the recipe said to broil it 3-5 inches from heat.  I, for some reason, thought that the heat came from the bottom part of the oven, so I put the lamb in on the bottom rack, 3-5 inches from the bottom of the oven.  When I went to turn the lamb over and pour the sauce onto it, L kindly informed me that when you broil, the heat comes form the top, so the lamb ought to be all the way on the top rack, 3-5 inches BELOW the heat.  Right.  So, now that we have that cleared up, onto the cooking of the lamb!  Luckily, L has had lamb multiple times, so when she read that it should be cooked "12-14 minutes for medium" she knew to tell me that "medium" is probably a little more well-done than we/she enjoyed.  Thank goodness for this girl.  I managed to figure out how to broil, and only broil the lamb for a total of 10 minutes... and it turns out AWESOME!  So, SO delicious, as was the rice and peapods.
First is a picture of the lamb and peapods - L dribbled the juice over it fantastically!  Then, I wanted to show you how perfectly cooked my lamb was, so we also have a picture looking at the meet after I've cut into it.  YUM!  I hope ya'll enjoyed this super long post, haha.

Monday, May 17, 2010

#17: my first attempt at making tuna

Today I did my grocery shopping in the torrential downpour - yikes!  I was going to try and go to the gym as well, but it was just raining far too much to bother.  Oh well.  Tomorrow is supposed to be nice: a little cloud, a little sun, no rain, and a high of 70!  PERFECT weather for running - I'm so pumped!  My chicken at lunch today was ok - the flavor was good, but it was dry... again.  Oops.  Tonight for dinner I made Orange and Dill Pan-Seared Tuna.  This was my first time ever cooking tuna steaks, so I was a little nervous.  It turned out pretty good, but I probably should have cooked it a little longer than I did.  Luckily, just-barely-cooked tuna is still delicious.  I served it with broccoli, sauteed red onion, and a sweet potato with a little fat-free sour cream:
As you can see, I almost forgot to take a picture, so I had actually already started eating it.  Oops.  I was on the phone while I cooked dinner - which probably contributed to the imperfect cooking time and almost forgetting to take a photo!  Anyway, the tuna tasted quite good, but I couldn't really taste and dill and the orange flavor wasn't that strong - I think because of the way it was cooked.  The tuna was cooked, then removed from the pan, and then red onions, dill, and orange juice were cooked together and poured over the tuna.  So the sauce was fairly runny and it wasn't really cooked into the tuna.  Still yummy, though!  Tomorrow I'm cooking for another friend, L.... and making something I've literally never made before.  I don't even recall ever EATING it before.  Should be interesting!

Also, my very sweet boyfriend got me this awesome apron from his trip to New Orleans.  Very good buy, since I tend to spill crap on myself every time I set foot in the kitchen.  I also got an adorable blue New Orleans music mug, which I drank coffee from this morning:
Hooray for presents, and for a decently cooked tuna.  I have one more tuna steak recipe for later this week - perhaps I can cook that one a bit better :-)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

recipes galore!

Hello everyone!  So, Friday's lunch of sesame chicken was delicious - I would make it again in a heartbeat.  Friday night and Saturday for lunch, I ate out, so no cooking.  Friday I went to a department dinner catered by Foster's.  Saturday, after lounging at the pool, I headed to Twisted Noodle, which I had never been to before.  It was very delicous Thai food!  All I could think about was... can I use my fish sauce and make more Thai food soon?  There's a recipe for Scallop Pad Thai in my cookbook, and I will definitely be trying it soon!

Saturday after lunch, I picked up my boyfriend from the airport.  Later on, I made him Chicken and Ravioli Carbonara for dinner (#14):
 I can't believe how easy Carbonara sauce is!  It was a pretty easy recipe to execute, and I give it 4 stars - something I will definitely make again (especially for my boyfriend - he doesn't eat many vegetables, so this recipe was a perfect thing to serve him)!  Then, today for lunch, I cooked Cheesy Italian Chicken Pie (#15).  The first thing that I found strange about the recipe is that you don't really make a bottom crust - you spoon the filling into the pie pot, and then just pour the batter for the pie crust over it.  So it doesn't have a very sturdy bottom.  Other than that, the recipe was fairly easy to make.
It turned out... ok.  It wasn't like it was bad by any means, just bland.  I was surprised that it was bland given how much oregano/garlic/etc. was in it.  It also tasted a little bit eggy.  I think next time I cook this recipe (which, I realize won't be for a long time since I have a few hundred others to try first) I need to put the spices in the filling as well as the batter.  I also need to use less egg - although I'm not sure how that would affect the crust.  Hmm.  Things to ponder over the next year I suppose.  Lastly, you serve it (and cook it) with tomato sauce, and I think a more flavored marinara sauce would work better.  Basically, I just need to ramp up the Italian flavors.  Otherwise - the consistency, etc. was quite good.

Lastly, since I had one piece of chicken left in my fridge, I decided I ought to make lunch for tomorrow.  I chose Chicken with Thyme and Mixed Vegetables (#16).  The recipe suggests using a bag of frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, or other combination.  Welll... I had frozen broccoli, so that's all I put in it.  I will eat this tomorrow along with a baked potato - I'll let you know how it tastes!
Now, it's time to clean my apartment and watch some Family Guy.  Tomorrow, if weather permits, I'm going for a run.  It's supposed to rain all day, and I'm not sure how I feel about a 45 minute long run by myself, so I might push it to Tuesday.   This week, I think I am taking my first step away from chicken/salmon and attempting something out of my comfort zone.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

just kidding: meal #13.

so i wasn't planning to cook tonight, but i also had nothing to pack for lunch tomorrow, and i didn't want to eat hospital food.  whipped together meal #13 from the "under 30 minutes" chapter, and am so excited for lunch tomorrow:
SESAME CHICKEN.  I'm pretty pumped about this one, I'll let you know how it turns out.  (By the way, my broiled salmon with orange-mustard glaze was quite good.  3.5 stars).  Bed time for this chica!

just running, no cooking.

Today was stressful, and my officemate gave me leftover pizza - so I did not make any food.  However, in order to de-stress and burn calories from the pizza, I did go running! M  made another playlist, and now we are up to 1 minute walking / 4:30 running.  In order to make sure I stretch and don't injure myself, in the middle I took a break to stretch and walk a few extra minutes, and then at the end I had about 7 minutes of walking to do before I got back to my building.  So, I was walking/running for a total of 53 minutes: 36 minutes running, 17 walking, and a total of 4.24 miles!  Depending on how fast I was walking (15-20 min miles walking? Who really knows!), my run pace was somewhere between 10:30 and 11:30, which is a bit faster than I've been going - woohoo!  It's kind of funny how my energy comes and goes throughout the run - I could feel myself get bursts of energy and pick up the pace for a few minutes, and then suddenly I would hit a wall and barely be able to put one foot in front of the other!

Mentally and aerobically, I actually really wanted to run more when I was done.  I almost decided to find a way to lengthen my run a little bit, but I was in some pain.  I think I have trouble deciphering the difference between pain and soreness - or whether I should push through the pain or stop to avoid injury.  My Achilles' get really tight while I run, and the past few runs my left heel in particularly starts hurting.  I have been icing every night, and I think that helps... but it still seems like some muscle or tendon is always sore/hurting.  Now that I'm not running, my left Achilles' and heel are both fine, but my right ankle hurts, as does my right quad.  When I stretch, my arches and Achilles feel really tight... it's like I can never get enough of stretching my calf, but it kind of hurts to stretch it too! Oh and.. my shins have kind of been hurting this week again.  Sigh.

Any bloggers out there have thoughts or suggestions?  I'm hoping to run again on Saturday or Sunday, depending on how I feel and the weather... we'll see!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

recipe #12: chicken enchiladas

I was dying all week to try this out, and wow, it hit the spot.  It calls for green chile salsa, which I have never bought before (though I've had in restaurants or other places) - so yummy.  I got El Pinto brand, right from Kroeger, and it was fantastic! (No - no one pays me to have opinions about food.  But if you know someone who would like to, I could use the cash.)  I will definitely be buying this salsa again!! Here's how they looked:
Totally hit the spot.  I give the taste of the food 5 stars, but the recipe 4 stars (Can I do that?) because I made half the amount of enchiladas with the entire amount of sauce, and still felt like it would have been better had their been more sauce - I wasn't able to fully cover all the enchiladas when they were baking.  More cheese would be good too, but then again, I'm obsessed with  cheese.

Also whipped together a quick version of texas caviar today (mishmash of many recipes, not from the Betty Crocker book) for a friend's birthday party tonight - but it's not pretty enough to be photo worthy :-)

recipe #11

Tonight, I made Feta-Topped Chicken for one of my friends and I.  It's supposed to have tomatoes on top - but she doesn't like tomatoes, and this picture is of her plate.  I swear I'm going to eat something other than rice one of these days.  I bought a sweet potato and a baked potato.  Oh well:
I'm sure she'll comment and tell you -but I say yum!  The chicken was the best cooked chicken I've made so far - it was super juicy!  Yay for broiling things!  Funny, my smoke detector was CONVINCED I was burning something, as it kept going off - but no way, this chicken was juicy and in no way shape or form overcooked.  Note to self: always broil chicken.  I am giving the recipe 3 1/2 stars (yup, I'm busting out half stars now), because the chicken was cooked to perfection, but I didn't find it particularly flavorful or fantabulous - just yummy and basic.  Definitely something I'll make again since the prep was super simple, though!

Not much else to comment on, but I have found some new blogs to follow, and you can see the 5 most recently updated ones on the right hand side of your screen - so go check out what some of my real life friends are doing, and what some impressive people I randomly found online are doing (dress blog = so impressive to me).

Monday, May 10, 2010


Tonight for dinner, I made Thai Chicken with Basil.  It includes something called Fish Sauce, which I had never heard of - apparently it's a staple in Thai cooking.  I was a little weary - what is this fish sauce? It's made with anchovies?  But, OH MY GOD IT'S THE BEST THING EVER.  This chicken was phenomenal.  I'm sure the other spices/ingredients (e.g. garlic, jalapeno chilies, etc.) contributed to the deliciousness.  But, seriously... I am legitimately sad when I got to my last bite.  I'm also sad that I can't make it every night this week, as I have other recipes to try if I want to stay on track.  Oh, here's a photo of THE BEST CHICKEN EVER:
Anyway, while I was making this, I got to thinking... maybe I should rate the recipes as I cook them.  Of course, my inability to correctly cook food might have a huge bearing on how delicious it is.  But I could do like, 5 stars for "delicious", 4 stars for "quite yummy", 3 stars for "tastes good", 2 stars for "not memorable", and 1 star for "never again."  Thoughts, readers?

After I made dinner, I prepared lunch for the next two days - leftover  chicken one day, and broiled salmon with orange-mustard glaze the other day.  I'm excited about the salmon, the glaze looks yummy!  (and, it's my 10th recipe made - woohoo!)
So, I'll have to let you know how that turns out after I eat it (probably on Wednesday).  Tomorrow, I'm cooking dinner for my friend (and reader!) A, so if she writes in to comment she can let you know her opinion too!

Lastly, I went running with M today around West Campus.  First of all, it was BEAUTIFUL - it's been on the hot side lately (85-90 and humid), and today it was just around 70 and not humid - perfect running weather!  We decided to push ourselves and increase our intervals to 1 min. walking / 4 min. running, and I'm so glad we did!  It was a little challenging, especially towards the end, but in general I didn't feel that worn out doing 4 minutes of running.  I definitely think that the weather made running easier, thought.  So, we went about 3.7 miles, which is an overall pace of 12:10 pace.  So, I think we were running somewhat faster - somewhere between 10:12 and 11:12 minute miles when we were running.  I think sometime soon we are going to go to the track and time ourselves running so that we get a better sense of what our running pace is.  M is out of town for the next week-ish, so I'll have to run alone the next few times, eek!

Alright, really quick, star ratings for my first 9 recipes:
1.  Honey-Glazed Chicken - 2 stars
2. Gingered Chicken and Fruit Salad - 3 stars
3.  Orange and Ginger Glazed Chicken - 2 stars
4.  Chicken and Fresh Berry Salad - 3 stars
5.  Citrus Salmon - 3 stars
6.  Cowboy BBQ Chicken Pizza - 5 stars
7.  Cheesy Chicken Skillet Dinner - 4 stars
8.  Summer Garden Stir-Fry Chicken - 4 stars
9.  Thai Chicken with Basil - 5 stars

Any other suggestions on things to add to the blog would be much appreciated! :-)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

loving the skillet meals!

Today I overslept majorly, due to setting my alarm incorrectly, oops!  So, it wasn't as productive of a day as I had hoped, but I still went grocery shopping, cooked dinner, and made lunch for tomorrow, which means I have recipes to share.  Both meals came from the Savory Skillet Meals chapter.  For dinner, I made Cheesy Chicken Skillet Dinner.  I am pretty much obsessed with cheese, so this hit the spot.  Also, I learned how to perfectly melt cheese.  I am a big microwaver, and I never manage to get cheese melted (like, on top of rice or chicken or something) quite right in the microwave.  For this recipe, the last step was to top the chicken and veggies with cheese on the skillet, and cover for a few minutes until the cheese has melted.  All I can say is YUM.
 I served the skillet over brown rice (shocker) and had it for dinner.  Delicious.  Then, I knew I needed to make something for lunch tomorrow.  So, I made Summer Garden Chicken Stir-Fry.  I wish I had made 4 times the amount I did (instead of just one serving for lunch) because I had a bite of the sauce with veggies, and I am pumped for lunch tomorrow!  I love Chinese/Asian flavors, and the flavor in this is awesome.  I also learned that adding cornstarch thickens sauce and makes it the perfect consistency.
I forgot to take a picture of this while it was still on the skillet, so it's already in my tupperware container for tomorrow, oops!  Yay for being excited for lunch this week.  Tomorrow I'm going running with M - hopefully I won't be sore at all.  Last night my shins were a little sore and my calves felt tight, but I iced last night and will ice again tonight.  It's not going to be all that hot tomorrow - high of only 72! So, I'm excited to run in good weather :-)

8 recipes down, 292 to go, 336 days until the race!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Cowboy BBQ Chicken Pizza & Running!

Today, I made my boyfriend and I Cowboy BBQ Chicken Pizza for lunch!  He got me a baking stone for Christmas, so this was a chance to not only use his gift, but try a new recipe!  It was DELICIOUS.  The crust is so light and tasty, the bbq chicken (which was store bought, but whatever, that's what the recipe said to do) was tasty, and I love, and I mean LOVE, cheese!  The only problem is, the crust kind of stuck to the pizza stone!  So it was challenging it get the pizza off the stone and onto our plates.  But we did alright.  Plus, once it was cooled it was a lot easier to get it off the stone.  I'm not quite sure why it stuck - I put some flour on the stone before i put the pizza crust down.  Anyway, it came out well for the first attempt and we both thought it was delicious! I'm having leftovers of it for dinner :-)  Sorry the picture is blurry - I snapped it real quick as we were about to dig in!
Note to my local readers: I now feel like I MUST perfect this pizza crust.  So if you are interested in eating pizza - I have 3 vegetarian and 2 chicken recipes! 

Later this afternoon, M and I went for a run around East Campus.  We did 1 minute walking / 3 minute running intervals for 44 minutes - go us!  We made it around the track twice, for a total of 3.4 miles, which means that our average pace was just under 13 minutes miles.  I never know how slow we walk during our 1 minute walks, so I have a hard time guessing how fast our running pace is.  We definitely don't keep a brisk walking pace, so it's got to be closer to 17-20 minute miles I would guess?  Anyway, if we were walking 16 minute miles, that would mean we were running on average 12 minute miles, but if we were walking 20 minute miles, we would have been averaging right around 10:30 minute miles.  I'm pretty happy with that - we don't have time goals yet, we just want to actually get ourselves running.  We are going again on Monday, so I'm trying to ice/stretch a lot between now and then!  After running, we went swing dancing, so my muscles are definitely exhausted.  Time to pop in a movie and head to bed early :-)

Fried Mac and Cheese Squares!

So for a friend's end-of-the-semester party, I decided to make Fried Mac & Cheese Squares.  Note: this is not from Betty Crocker's healthy recipe book.  I made them once  before and they were a big hit.  Basically, you make mac and cheese as normal, and then put it into a shallow pan to refrigerate.  Then, you cut up the mac and cheese into bit size pieces:

And then freeze.  When you are ready to make the Mac and Cheese, get a deep frying pan and put about 3 inches of oil in it (I use vegetable oil); heat (to about 350 degrees).  Take each ball, dip it in flour, then dip it in egg, then dip it in bread crumbs:

Then, place the mac and cheese balls in the oil and fry for about 3 minutes:
Mmmm, frying!  Haha.  Then, it's best to serve them hot.  Sometimes I eat them plain, sometimes I like to dip them in marinara sauce.  Your choice!

Yum!  The party was a ton of fun, and I think everyone enjoyed the mac and cheese.  I also made some gluten-free (Amy's makes a brand) and some lactose-free/gluten-free for my friends with dietary restrictions.  Fried food for everyone!!  I have to post about the lunch I made today as well as my run, but I'll have to do that later!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Citrus Salmon

Tonight, I made citrus salmon.  I forgot how freaking delicious salmon is! YUM!  The salmon was cooked perfectly in my opinion, and I had brown rice and veggies as my sides (shocker, I know, but it's easy):

I only wish I had more of it, haha - but it was super easy to make.  I got prepackaged fillets, so i just had to put the seasonings on and pop it in the oven.  I think in the past, I have never known what to season my food, other than salt, haha.  If I'm making italian, I have a good idea of what to do, but otherwise I don't know!  I'm hoping that as I cook through this book, I'll get a sense of what spices/seasonings go well together and what they go well on!

Today for lunch I enjoyed the salad I made last night.  I have to say, even though it wasn't bad, I'm sick of lettuce!  The fruits, nuts, cheese, and dressing were great, but I don't want anymore salad!  I have some to take for tomorrow, but next week I'm taking a break from salad for sure.  I found a place I can microwave food in the hospital, so now I can bring things that need to be heated up instead of sticking to salads and sandwiches.  And, in a few weeks, I hopefully will be done with my study and not have to be in the hospital all day - back to my lab, where I definitely have a fridge/freezer/microwave :-)

Stay tuned for FRIED MAC AND CHEESE tomorrow.  Yum!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

salads with fruit make me happy.

Today, I had originally planned to cook dinner and make lunch for tomorrow, but I was enticed into spending Cinco de Mayo at a bar with some classmates, and can't bring myself to refrain from eating dinner with them!  But no fear, because I still had to make lunch for tomorrow/Friday.  Today I made Chicken and Fresh Berry Salad:
It's got raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and feta on top.  It called for just "vinaigrette dressing" - and in my fridge I had Balsamic Vinaigrette and Raspberry Vinaigrette, so for Thursday's lunch I'm having the Raspberry - and maybe Friday I'll try the Balsamic?  It looks so yummy, I am really excited for lunch tomorrow!  And the mixed greens (also from Monday's Kroeger trip) look good!

Question for anyone out in blogland.  I have been taking my lunches in gladware containers the past two days, and  both days it leaks out a little, causing stuff to get sticky.  Not cool when I'm traipsing around the hospital all day!  Maybe my gladware stuff is just too old - but does anyone know of specific types of plastic wear I can get that won't leak out in my backpack?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

running AND meal #3!

Today, M and I tried out the Al Buehler Trail.  A few months ago, when Susan was visiting, she went for a run on this trail and blogged about how hilly it was.  Well, I'm here to confirm - it is VERY hilly!  My Achilles' was definitely killing me whenever we had to go uphill - so much so that 35 minutes in we had to stop running for a while - in fact I thought I needed to stop running for the whole day, but we decided to walk for a while and after 15 minutes I felt up for a bit more running, so we did intervals for the last 5-7 minutes.  In total, we went about 3.7 miles over the course of 55ish minutes, so that's an average pace of 15.4 minute miles.  Given how much walking we were doing and the pain I was in, I feel fine with that!  It's weird how my Achilles' hurt so much more when I run up hills than when I run flat or downhill - is that normal?  I think it's because it's stretching the tendon out more?  I wonder if there is anything I can change about my form or whatever to alleviate that... thoughts, anyone?  Anyway, we've definitely run places with hills before, but the Al Buehler Trail hills are a new level of hilliness that I'm not quite ready for!  I also went into the day still feeling sort of sore, so that didn't help.  We probably won't return to that trail for a little while - but it's SO nice, and in the shade, so maybe when I'm pain free and a bit stronger we can try it again :-)  The OTHER strange part was, after my 15 minute walk break, I had significantly less pain while running all the way to the end... maybe I just need to be pushing through more when I'm in pain?  Or maybe the longer break allowed my tendons to calm down a bit and be ready for more?

For those of you who were dying to know, M used a program called Audacity to make the play list where she mixed in songs with a recording of her voice, telling us when to start walking or start running!  The funny thing is - I had NO IDEA it was HER voice telling me to walk or run... she sounded very different on the recording.

Anyway, I need to be better about stretching over the next few days in order to make sure I'm not in any pain for our next run - which is tentatively scheduled for Friday, but might get pushed to Saturday afternoon depending on pain levels / other factors.  For the time we did walk/run today, we did 1 minute walks and 2:30 minute runs - and aerobically felt pretty good (especially when there were no hills), so next time we are upping it to 1 minute walking, 3 minutes running!  If we keep upping our intervals of running by 1 minute each week, until we get to 1 minute walking and 10 minutes running, we should be in good shape to run a full mile without stopping to walk by the end of June.  The first week of July tentatively begins our 5k training, which starts of with 1.5 miles of running.  So, I'm feeling pretty good about that!

Alright - onto food!  The salad I made for lunch today was delicious, other than the spinach which was eh.  I think I discovered a new love for pecans, so that's exciting!  Then, tonight I made Orange- and Ginger- Glazed Chicken, which I had with steamed broccoli and (leftover) brown rice:

The glaze was deeelicious, although it was almost TOO sweet, and I probably didn't put enough ginger in it.  I have never cooked with ginger before, so I'm not sure how it would have tasted with more/less.  Oh well!!  It was still good, and I put some of the sauce over the broccoli as well to spice it up!  YUM!  I also bought some mac and cheese today (including gluten-free, lactose-free mac and cheese for my friend who is allergic to both, yikes) so that on Friday, I can make FRIED MAC AND CHEESE.  Doesn't exactly fit in with my healthy living plan, but I made it once for friends in the fall and they've been begging for more ever since!  One of my friends is having an end-of-semester party Friday, so I'm going to make and bring some delicious fried treats.  Yay for my favorite things (that I shouldn't eat): fried food and food with cheese, haha.

Alright - that's all for today - thanks for your comments so far!  3 meals down, 297 to go, and 341 days to do it :-)

Monday, May 3, 2010

cooking, day number 1!

I've just finished up dinner!  Tonight I made Honey-Glazed Chicken  Breasts from the cookbook, and supplemented the chicken with a small side salad of spinach and almonds and some brown rice.  The chicken turned out pretty good - a little bit dry, but the flavor was great!  I think it was dry because the recipe was for 6 chicken breasts and I was only cooking 2, so I should have taken it out earlier.

Along with cooking dinner today, I made Gingered Chicken and Fruit Salad to take for lunch the next two days.  Things I learned while making this salad: (1) NEVER AGAIN will I buy salad stuff from Kroeger, the spinach is not appetizing whatsoever!!  (2) Mangos are hard to cut.  I realized I'd never bought or prepared a mango before.  So that was... a little challenging, haha.  But, hopefully it tastes delicious despite the iffy spinach. (From now on, I know Target produce is pretty good, or if I have to, I can go to Harris Teeter or Whole Foods).

So, 2 meals down, 298 to go, 342 days to get it done!  Tomorrow I'm running with M and then cooking another delicious dish for dinner (which I will probably have with leftover brown rice and some sort of vegetable side).  Now, it's time to get some work done!


I'm such a nerd - at 11pm tonight I logged into amazon.com to see where my cookbook was, and sure enough, I find out that it's in my mailbox.  (I'm not good at checking the mail every day.)  So, I went and got it and started looking through it!  It's got 10 sections: 1) center of the plate, 2) savory skillet meals, 3) casseroles and pot pies, 4) meatless main dishes, 5) sandwiches, salads, and pizzas, 6) soups, stews, and chilies, 7) slow cooker suppers, 8) grilling good and easy, 9) 30 minutes or less, and 10) cooking for two. Now, I thought about buying a whole cookbook that was "cooking for one"/"cooking for  two" since I live alone, but instead I'm just going to halve recipes when I need to and have leftovers!  So, of course I've been up for the last 2ish hours planning out what I'm going to make this week!  Between now and Saturday lunch time, I am planning to make 7 recipes: 4 dinners and 3 lunches.  Two of the lunches I will make in the evenings and pack to take for the day, and one I am going to make on Saturday for lunch, when my boyfriend will be visiting!

I'm not going to reveal to you what I plan to make - I'll save that for post-cooking.  But, I have my grocery list made and I'm super excited - so excited that i stayed up 2 hours later than I meant to and had to write about it!  YAY!