Thursday, July 29, 2010

seafood on the grill

Lemon Shrimp with Squash: Dinner Saturday July 24, 2010
Saturday night, I made the girls (M&K) and I Lemon Shrimp with Squash.  I love shrimp… and I looove summer squash.  Particularly summer squash straight from the garden!  Here's a before picture:
The first negative: I don’t own a “grill wok” so I had to do these as packets instead of in the wok.  The second negative: it was getting close to dinner time before I realized that you were supposed to marinade the shrimp and veggies first… so there was no marinating.  Instead, the marinade (lemon juice and honey, basically) just went into the grill packets.  The biggest downside here was that I didn’t do a good job of mixing the lemon juice and honey and getting the veggies and shrimp coated, so we had a few bites that tasted like lemon juice, a few bites that tasted like honey, and very few that tasted like the mixture.  Other than that, this recipe turned out well.  For the bites that did have the honey-lemon combo, I loved it and definitely think I’d use it as a marinade in the future!  I thought the shrimp might have been slightly overcooked, but K and M disagreed… always good to please my diners, haha.  The biggest plus to the recipe was probably the plethora of veggies!  Good thing Scott made himself steak, as he would have liked almost nothing that went into this (he likes shrimp, but only a few, maybe as an appetizer).
The only thing I regret about this recipe was the lack of rosemary I had – I am not particularly familiar with what rosemary tastes like, and I wish I had been able to use it to see what it was like in the marinade.  Next time!

Halibut and Summer Squash Packets: Dinner Sunday July 25, 2010
Sunday night, the girls and I were slated to have halibut and summer squash packets.  However, as I have mentioned in the past, halibut doesn’t really exist.  Haddock was on sale, so, haddock is what we got!  I had never eaten haddock before, and I feel like it was just okay in terms of fish.  I much prefer tilapia or cod.  It probably would be better in a stew or casserole or something like that.  So, while the haddock was mediocre, I’d say the recipe and flavors overall were good.  This recipe was pretty similar to the shrimp recipe – lots of vegetables cut up with some herbs and lemon juice in a packet.  It definitely could have used more salt/seasoning, but that was kind of my fault.  I was supposed to have basil, lemon-pepper seasoning, and season salt… and instead I had basil, salt, and pepper.  And probably not enough salt or pepper.  But, the girls and I enjoyed it quite a bit, and I love how easy it is to make foil packets and throw them on the grill!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

burgers burgers burgers

One recipe per post is going to take me way too long to get caught up on blogging, so today I will showcase all the burgers I made over the long weekend (long as in, we had visitors for an extended weekend).  Four burgers, three days... ready, go!

Grilled Turkey Burgers with Garlicky Mayonnaise: Lunch Friday, July 23, 2010
Friday for lunch, I made Scott and I Grilled Turkey Burgers with Garlicky Mayonnaise.  This was my first attempt at burgers, and I kind of made a mess.  I used too much egg and not enough oats, and ended up with a gloppy mess of burger that definitely would not hold together.  I also left out the onion, since I didn’t have one and he doesn’t like them.
Instead of putting the burgers straight on the grill, I had to put some foil down on the grill first.  Good thing I did, because one of them definitely fell completely apart.  Oops.  I also made way to much of the garlicky mayonnaise… so both Scott and I had it completely smothered on our burgers and buns.  Guess that doesn’t really promote him eating healthily… oh well.
Scott always toasts the buns on the grill – which is definitely the way to go.  Almost all bread in this earth is better just a little bit toasted, no?

Grilled Veggie Burgers: Dinner Friday, July 23, 2010
M showed up Thursday evening, and is a vegetarian who is currently also gluten-free.  I wanted to make her a few things this weekend, so I went in search of gluten-free veggie burgers.  I came up with gluten-free salmon burgers, and figured that was close enough.  I used my fresh and delicious green beans and snow peas that I picked earlier in the week and cut up some red bell pepper as well.  I had no mushrooms, so they got left out.  I had normal barbecue sauce, but not honey-mustard flavored, so I combined my normal babecue sauce with some mustard and honey for the glaze/marinade.
 Unfortunately, someone must have messed with the grill and turned the grill on before turning the gas on, or something, because it was just not heating up well at ALL for us.  After 15 or 20 minutes, the salmon burgers were still cold in the center.  So, we had to move our grilled packets onto stones next to the camp fire. 
It's hard to see, but on the right side you might be able to make out foil packets sitting on the rocks.  Yup, that's how my dinner was cooked.  Finally after what felt like an hour of cooking, they were warm enough to eat!  These turned out well, and I particularly enjoyed the flavoring of the barbecue sauce I had put together, although it didn’t have much honey flavor.

Greek Turkey Burgers with Yogurt Sauce: Lunch Saturday, July 24, 2010
On Saturday, I made Greek Turkey Burgers with Yogurt Sauce for lunch for Scott, a friend of ours (K), and myself.  So, remember that delicious grilled balsamic beef salad I made earlier in the week?  With cucumber?  I completely forgot that I needed cucumber to make yogurt sauce for this recipe, and as a result my yogurt sauce was just yogurt and red onion.  Except I didn’t have plain yogurt either, and I didn’t want to buy a huge tub of plain yogurt… so I substituted sour cream.  Why don’t they make 8 oz containers of plain yogurt?  Oh well.  
I think the sauce turned out just fine this way, and Scott ate it even with red onion bits in it.  He’ll eat veggies if it’s too difficult for him to pick them out, haha.  Otherwise, these turkey burgers turned out pretty well.  They weren’t as much of a gloppy mess as the ones I made Friday, but I still cooked them on top of foil to be safe.  They stayed together well, thanks to grill master Scott.  I should say at this point that while I did all of the food prep for all of the burgers I made this weekend, Scott was mostly in charge at the grill, making sure I didn’t over- or under-cook burgers and flipping them when necessary.
Anyway, I enjoyed the burgers as did Scott and K.  I must admit, though, I’m just generally not that big of a ground turkey fan.  I know it’s leaner/healthier than ground beef, but ground beef just tastes so much better.

Blue cheese burgers: Lunch Sunday, July 25, 2010
Sunday for lunch, K, Scott, and I had blue cheese burgers, with ground beef.  Hooray for ground beef!  Once again, I cooked these on the grill on top of foil, and thank goodness, because some of them fell apart.  I guess I am just not a burger master yet. 
I had to use ground red pepper instead of red pepper sauce and normal mustard instead of ground mustard, but I think it turned out ok.  In terms of taste, I thought these burgers were pretty good!  K agreed; Scott liked them but doesn’t particularly like blue cheese so that was a drawback for him.  Other than that, I have mostly just accepted that I have a lot more to learn in terms of consistency and getting burgers to hold together well.  At least they still turn out juicy and tasty:

So, there you have it  - 4 burgers in 3 days... yum!  Stay tuned for my pescatarian-friendly meals.

I also RAN today.  Yes, I was supposed to run yesterday, and I didn't feel like it.  So I went today.  I woke up at 8 but went back to sleep on the hammock until 10, so it was pretty warm by the time I actually went running.  I ran with the ipod, and I'm starting to think that I was completely wrong about running faster without music.  Sure - music can serve as a distraction from running, but it can also be a huge motivator and help me to push myself even more.  And push, today, I did!  Usually the first few minutes of my runs are a struggle - I'm feeling groggy, my muscles aren't warm, etc.  Not today!  I knew from the first step I took that I was going fast and feeling good.  To be fair, the path I was running starts on a slight downhill, which helps me to get going.  But when I got to the flatter section, my speedy pace continued!  I know about where the one mile mark is on the course.  When I got right around one mile or a bit past it, I glanced at my watch and was pleasantly surprised to see that it read 9:42!  That's super speedy for me.  I also realized around that moment that I was flipping exhausted and had the obnoxious hill coming up soon.  Luckily, one of my favorite K'Naan songs came on to get me to push through the hill, although I did seriously contemplate stopping to walk for a bit!  I made it up the hill and around the corner to where I think is about 1.4 miles and found out that even with the hill, I wasn't slowing down much - my average pace after the hill was 9:53!  I was definitely exhausted but forced myself to keep going, knowing I only had about 5-6 minutes left of running.  Unfortunately, a bit before I got to the point in the road where I would normally turn around I ran into construction that was completely blocking my path.  So, I had to turn around and cut my run short just a littleb bit... I ended up running 1.85 miles instead of 2.0.  My end pace was almost exactly 10 minute miles, which I'm super happy with.
I've only got one more run up here in the north before I have to head back to the terrible heat I've been hearing about.  I might try to switch it up and go a bit further to savor my last low-humidity run for the next month or two!
Looking back on this morning's run, I think that having gotten up and lounged around for a while might have helped me to run faster.  I ate breakfast and drank water, gave myself time to digest, and gave both my brain and my muscles time to wake up.  I have a feeling some (if not all) of those things helped me to go faster and feel better (at least for the first half of my run, the second half I was TIRED).  I'm still trying to figure out what the ideal time of day is to run, how much to eat before, how much time I should give myself to digest between eating and running, etc.  Any tips, thoughts, or suggestions would be much appreciated!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Grilled Balsamic Beef Salad

So, I have cooked way too much food in the past 6 days to put it all in one long post.  Instead, I'll be bringing it to you bit by bit.  Post #1: Grilled Balsamic Beef Salad: Dinner Thursday July 22, 2010

On Thursday, I got to use some of my fresh produce to make Scott and I dinner.  We had Grilled Balsamic Beef Salad.  At the grocery store, I found a ton of steaks on sale, so I was obviously drawn towards the cheap stuff.  I realized I pretty much know nothing about what parts of steaks are the good parts and whatnot… basically I only know to avoid fatty looking meat.  So, I bought shoulder because it was on sale ridiculously cheap.
The marinade/salad dressing was delicious!  I had to improvise a little, but the combo of balsamic vinaigrette and Italian dressing mix was a great one.  Also, since I was feeding Mr. Picky Eater, I left out tomatoes and mushrooms and added in cucumber, since I had a fresh one from the garden.  The unfortunate part was that I bought croutons and then totally forgot to use them!  I also forgot to top the salad with any cheese.  Cooking with the RV / grill / etc. is a lot of improvising – which leads to a lot of forgetting and substituting.  So it goes.

Given the abundance of lettuce and cucumber from the garden, I made this recipe again on today (Tuesday the 27th) for dinner.  This time I remembered the mozzarella cheese and the croutons, but again left out the tomato and mushroom for Scott’s benefit.  It was just as delicious as it was the first time, if not more so!  I thoroughly enjoy balsamic vinegar and things of that flavor… yum yum yum  Here's a picture of it from tonight:

runs with M.

hello blog followers!  sorry i've been MIA for so long - we had a busy weekend with about 10-15 friends coming to camp out with us.  tons of fun, but not much time for blogging.  M was among those friends, and we got to run twice over the weekend, on friday and sunday.  sunday, my other friend K joined us as well.

we did the same route for both runs - AKA the route that avoids hills as much as possible.  on friday when it was the two of us, we finished the 2 miles in 20:16, so a 10:08 pace.  i was pretty happy with that!  the run didn't feel too terribly hard, but i was definitely tired after.  we went again sunday, and managed to cut our time down to 19:58.  yay for sub-10 minute paces, if only by a second!  we definitely sped up significantly for the last 2 minutes.  i knew we were close to the end so i wanted to push myself as hard as i could without burning out.  it was a good run, but it felt a lot harder - probably mostly because it was hotter out, but maybe also because we were going somewhat faster.  i definitely got into the lake the second we were done to cool off, and it felt amazing.

M has noticed that the first 5 minutes of any run is the hardest.  i agree, but unfortunately i'm not sure i feel that the next 15 minutes are all that much better.  i guess i still don't feel like "i am a runner" yet, if that makes sense.  i'll run, and i usually feel good afterward, but it's only for a few rare moments during the run where i'm actually feeling good or positive about the whole thing!  for other runners out there: what is your experience like, and how was it when you first started running?  when did you finally "feel like a runner"? when, if ever, did you start to really enjoy your runs?

lots of food posts coming, as i cooked 6 recipes this weekend - get excited!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

fresh is best!

As promised, here are shots of my delicious fresh herbs & vegetables, courtesy of Scott's aunt.  When we went over for dinner on Monday evening, she let me pick out whatever I wanted to bring back.  As in literally pick things out of her garden and put them into a bag to take home.. can't get fresher than that!  Here's my stash:
Yum!  We've got so many fresh goodies.  First, we have lots of different herbs:
Including thyme, basil, and oregano.. they smell soo delicious!  Then we have some lettuce, which will be in tonight's dinner:
A delicious cucumber, which will also go into the salad, and summer squash which we'll save for some of this weekend's recipes:
Fresh green beans are up next.  Have you ever eaten a green bean straight from the leaves of it's plant?  Best way to enjoy them!  Scott agrees - he ate quite a few with me!
Look how plump some of those guys are! Mm mmm good!  And speaking of plump, we have some very plump and tasty peas as well!
I enjoyed these peas at lunch today, and attempted to get some action shots... sorry they are blurry, they are from my phone!
Like our red table cloth for the picnic table? Hehe.  Anyway, these suckers were delicious!  I'm so grateful that Scott's aunt donated all this produce to us for the week.  I hardly had to get anything fresh from the grocery store - just basic things here and there.  I'm so excited to one day have a garden of my own, with herbs and veggies and who knows what else!  I'll definitely have to get her expertise, or rather, her son's expertise - he knows so much about how to rotate crops and take care of various plants/veggies... hence her amazing garden.  Here's one last photo of my stash all laid out for you:
 Delicious, right?  I've got lots of cooking for this weekend, and a run with M tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

does halibut exist?

We slept in a ton this morning.  The whole, “wake up with the sun” thing is not going well.  To our credit, we were out for a birthday celebration and didn’t get back until after 10pm, so we didn’t get in bed until 11:30 or so… and I love my 8 hours.  I suppose no one is surprised, since Scott and I are known to be the best at sleeping in among all of our friends.  Alas, I crawled out of bed at 8:45 and was hitting the road for my run by 9:08am.  Not too shabby for vacation, right?

I ran the same path as Monday, just without the walk break in the middle.  Since I slept in, I figured I ought to have my Nutra Grain bar (strawberry, yum) and bottle of water before I headed out, so I took my time getting ready.  I also decided I was in the mood for music this morning, so I made a quick playlist of Death Cab for a Cutie, The Dudes, and K’Naan before heading out.

I had an almost-scare about 1/4th of the way into the run, though.  I was running down the road when a medium-large animal runs into the middle of the road about 25 yards in front of me.  At first I can’t tell what it is – a baby moose? (Hey, there are moose here!  It was a legitimate concern!)  A small deer?  Oh, no, a dog.  Running right at me.  I love dogs – not afraid of them whatsoever… but when a large bull dog is running straight towards you, and you have no idea if its wild or just out of his yard, it’s mildly frightening.  I almost did a U Turn and sprinted away right then and there.  Luckily it’s owner was in the house up on the hill to my right and called out to me, saying it was his dog and the dog was harmless.  So, I continued my run and the dog joined me for part of it (about 30 seconds I think) before it got tired and went back to his yard.  Fun times.  The rest of my run was way less eventful.

I’m really starting to think I’ve measured the distance incorrectly, because I went pretty fast!  I mean, I was pushing myself as much as I thought I could, but it just didn’t seem like my pace was really as quick as my watch would say.  I clocked my 2 miles in at 20:48, so a 10:24 pace.  Hopefully I really am just getting better at running and as a result, am able to run sub-11 minute miles without dying… who knows.  Either way, it was a good start to our official 8k training program (we are using Hal Higdon’s 8k training program for beginners) and I’m looking forward to my next two 2 mile runs on Friday and Sunday!

By now you are probably wondering what this post title is about.  Well, I went grocery shopping today and I had picked out a delicious grilled halibut recipe to make for M and my other friend K this weekend.  I got to the grocery store – which has a pretty extensive seafood department (plus we are only 20 minutes from the coast) only to find NO halibut.  This wouldn’t be quite as ridiculous, except that this is the THIRD time I’ve searched for halibut to no avail.  I tried once at home and went to three different places… no dice.  Remember when I made shrimp and scallop jambalaya for friends?  The original plan was to do a halibut recipe, but after 2 grocery stores I gave up (and that was 20 minutes from a rather large bay).  I’m starting to wonder, does halibut exist?  If so, where the heck can you get it?  And why is Betty Crocker offering up simple recipes with ingredients that are impossible to find?  Alas, haddock was on special at the grocery stores and I don’t think I’ve ever had haddock, so I’m substituting it for halibut.  I’ll let you know how that turns out after the weekend.

I know I promised pictures of fresh vegetables from Scott’s aunt’s garden today – but it’s pouring rain right now!  So instead I'll leave you with a photo of the sunset from Sunday evening.  It was so pink and beautiful!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

how do people continually think of good subject lines for their blogs?

.... because I'm drawing a blank!  And with no food to share, I have no recipe titles.  Just a running update.

Usually, Saturdays are long runs.  But we were super busy and in no area I could run on Saturday, so I planned to run Sunday.  Sunday, I was just simply not in the mood to go for a run, so I talked myself into delaying it until Monday.  Besides, I thought, if I run Tues/Thurs/Sat this week, I can run with M only once (she's coming to visit me!), but if I run Wed/Fri/Sun, we get two runs together!  Way better, right?

So Monday morning I groggily set off for a run.  I knew from the first steps that this would in no way be a "long" run.  It was, however, my last run before our "official" 8k training starts (not that we have an 8k picked out to run... details, details), so it was my last chance to walk during any part of my run without being a cheater.  I set off in the direction opposite of those pesky hills, and made it about 10 minutes before I was dying to stop.  So I took a breather, stretched, and then forced myself to go for another 10 minutes - including part of a hill but not the worst of it, and onto my favorite road to run down in this area - lots of shade, good view of the lake, and cute cottages.  Some of the cottages are under construction, too, so it's fun seeing how they progres over time!

Anyway, my run ended up taking 20:21, and I made it 2.04 miles!  Pretty quick pace for me (just under 10 minutes), which is crazy!  I don't understand how my pace varies so much.  Sure, I paused my watch and took a quick breath - but I also didn't walk forward in that minute or two, I just stretched.  Yet, last week, I ran a solid 4 minutes / mile SLOWER.  Crazy... and confusing.  Maybe USATF doesn't know the roads around here very well or something, haha.

So, I haven't gotten any cooking done since lunch Friday.  We took the RV in for service, expecting to get it back Saturday... but instead we got it back tonight (Tuesday).  With no fridge/freezer, microwave, stove, or oven... I wasn't sure what I could even make.  Lucky boyfriend got to eat out almost every meal and have all sorts of unhealthy stuff!  But no fear, because the RV is back and I am going grocery shopping tomorrow (although I probably won't cook until Thursday).  I'm SUPER excited about food this week, because Scott's aunt graciously gave us some delicious fresh-picked vegetables and herbs from her garden yesterday.  I'll have to photograph them and post pictures in the light tomorrow so you can see.  But oh man, there's nothing like eating a green been right from the leaves of the plant... yum!

Tomorrow I have to run two miles without stopping... and hopefully bright and early in the morning.  Eek.  BUT I'm looking forward to two runs with M on Friday and Sunday, and so far the weather forecast is looking great - highs in the mid 70s, lows in the mid 60s.  Keep your fingers crossed for me :-)

Friday, July 16, 2010

grilled lunch

I had two pieces of chicken left to use before we headed out for the weekend, so I grilled lunch today!  I made Grilled Honey-Mustard Chicken Sandwiches.  I'm getting much more confident in my grilling skills.  I even toasted the bread for the sandwiches:
Although two of the pieces were a little darker than I personally would have liked.  The sauce was delicious - honey and dijon mustard, a perfect combo of sweet and spicy.  Final product:
Scott gives this a rating of "great" but suggested that I might want to cut the chicken into strips after cooking it next time.  As you can see this made a monster-sized sandwiches - and perhaps smaller pieces of chicken would have been useful.

For real this time - happy weekend!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

cheesy chicken yum!

It took me a while to get moving this morning, but I drank a bottle of water while I knitted one row on my scarf before heading out for a run around 7:15/7:30 this morning.  I only had to go 1.5 miles today, and in my mind I thought I would probably walk for 5 or so minutes after the 1.5 and then keep going… but that did not happen.  The last 4 minutes of my run were up a sizable hill (the same one that started my Tuesday morning run, just starting a little further down on the hill, giving me further to go).  I was just trying to push through… and I totally lost steam.  I actually had to stop and catch my breath for about 5 seconds before I got to the top of the hill (and the 1.5 mile mark).  In terms of speed, I didn’t do as terrible as Tuesday: I averaged 11:11 miles.  Not very quick but I’ll take it!  I was completely spent after the run though, so I walked for about 5 minutes and then collapsed.  I spent the rest of the day painting and swimming, so it’s not like I was being a lazy bum!

My shins hurt quite a bit by mid afternoon – probably a combo of the runs and being on my feet all day?  I massaged them a bit and I think they are less tender than they were.  It wasn’t painful while I was running (or at least not too bad) and it doesn’t hurt to walk around – only hurts to the touch.  As long as it’s only that way, I figure there’s no harm in pushing on!  Any suggestions for stretches/etc. to deal with shin pain?

Tonight for dinner I made Cheddar-Stuffed Chicken Breasts on the grill.  Except, I could not for the life of me figure out how to get the cheese stuffed into the chicken breasts and on the grill, without letting the cheese fall out and create a mess.  How do you get a chicken breast to roll up and stay that way?  It is beyond me.  So, i just melted the cheese on top.  Meh.  Scott says they were cooked to perfection again, and told me that I am free to make this for him again any time.  Shocker: he likes chicken with melted cheese.  Haha.  We didn’t have them with salsa or sour cream, because (wait for it…) he doesn’t like either, and I didn’t feel like opening it just for me.  (I might open it later to have some chips and salsa as a snack, yum!).
Won’t have any runs or meals to report on Friday or Saturday, we are headed (slightly) south for a few things – should be back Saturday night so I can do my “long” run and cook on Sunday!  Happy (almost) weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

what IS fennel?

I woke up this morning to the sound of pouring rain, and decided there was no good reason to get out of bed at 6:20am just to sit inside the RV.  Unfortunately, what I intended to be another 1.5 hours of sleep turned into another 4 hours of sleep.  But, at least by 10:30 the rain had stopped and I was able to get some work done by the lake.  I did not, however, end up going for any sort of aerobic swim.  Instead, I spent 4 hours painting – which I totally think should count as exercise.  Either way, I’m worn out!

Tonight for dinner I made Lemon Chicken with Grilled Fennel and Onion.  I had never bought fennel before… or even seen fennel before (although I think I’ve used fennel seeds).  My initial thought at the grocery store was, “what am I going to do with this!?” and when I pulled it out of the fridge today, I felt pretty much the same.  Alas, I chopped up the bulb into slices as the recipe said.
 I made Scott try a piece of raw fennel with me, and neither of us were huge fans.  I don’t like licorice, and he hates vegetables / all healthy food.  I didn’t think it was bad, just… weird.  I crossed my fingers that between the marinade and the grilling, it would taste better.
 pre-grilling shot
The marinade called for grated lemon peel, but we have one tiny mini fridge in this RV and a limited budget for ourselves.  Knowing that I had no other use for the lemon, I determined that I would just use the lemon juice and nix the lemon peel.  Writing this now, I realize that I could have bought a lemon, used the peel and squeezed it for the juice, and that would have worked.  Hind sight is 20/20.  Anyway, I also didn’t have a brush or brush-like utensil, so after I marinated the chicken I had no way to continually brush the marinade over the chicken.  The result of these two things in combination was that the recipe was not very lemon-flavored.  Definitely would up the lemon flavor next time – more lemon juice in the marinade, actually using lemon peel, etc.
Other than the lack of lemon-y flavor, this turned out great!  I am becoming a grill MASTER, as Scott told me the chicken was cooked “perfectly.”  I was reminded how much I love the taste of grilled onions, and discovered that I also like grilled fennel quite a bit.  Scott does not like grilled fennel… he thinks it tastes “weird.”  Oh well.
Finished product! YUM!
Tomorrow I have a 1.5 mile run, and I’m praying that I can run a bit faster than Tuesday!  The weather right now is mild, so hopefully it will also be mild in 10 hours when I run!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

slowest run ever :-/

This morning I was not eager to get out of bed at 6:20am, but the construction workers here start at 7… so I reluctantly rolled out of bed and into my running shoes around 6:50.

Yes, for those of you who have known me for quite some time – we are getting up every morning between 6 and 6:30.  The boyfriend wants to learn to wake up with the sun and go to bed early – which makes sense for his upcoming trip and even for here at the lake.  The RV isn’t a terribly exciting place to hang out in the evening.

So, off to run it was!  The course I mapped out started with an uphill, so it was a slow start but it definitely woke me up.  What I didn’t realize was that this hill wouldn’t be my only of the morning.  As soon as I turned the corner, I found another hill.  Not super long or anything, but fairly steep.  Ugh.  I picked this course because I knew that the majority of the road was downhill!  Apparently only after climbing a few hills first… oh well.

Anyway, I set out to do two miles, and I only vaguely recalled from the course I charted online where the 1 mile mark was.  Time felt like it was going by ridiculously slowly, but I was definitely trying to push myself to run at least a reasonable pace.  When I thought I was close to a mile, I glanced down at my watch, and it read 14:08.  I thought to myself, that can’t be right!  I must be way more than half done with this run.  But as I pondered how far I had left to go, I knew I had only made it halfway.  What the heck?!?  Am I really running a 14 minute mile pace?  That’s way slower than even my hard days in the ridiculous heat and humidity back home.  This morning was humid, and probably in the 70s, but it wasn’t anywhere near as severe as some of the weather I’d run in earlier this summer.

So, I did my best to pick up my pace without burning myself out for the remainder of the run.  But I think someone must’ve put lead in my legs overnight, because when I reached 2 miles, my watch read 28:15.  W. T. F.  I was not a happy camper.  But I guess that’s just how it goes some days.  Thursday will be better – I hope.

I did spend a few minutes pondering what might be making me go so much slower than normal.  This morning and on Sunday morning, I didn’t eat anything before I went.  I wasn’t really hungry, and I didn’t feel like I was exhausted / had no fuel left to push through.  I am generally not hungry in the morning, so I felt fine about not eating (plus, if I run at 6:45, how early would I have to eat to have the food digested before running?).  To those of you who run in the morning: do you eat beforehand?  If so, how long beforehand, and what do you eat?

Anyway, enough about my ridiculously slow running… I finally got to cook again today!  For now, we have the grill and a microwave, but no stove.  So, today I made Sweet and Sour Chicken Packets.  Yum!  I have recently discovered that I do, in fact, like pineapple, which made this recipe way more exciting than it might have been.  Here’s a before picture of the packets:
 And the grill I'll be using for the rest of the month:
Yay grill!  Anyway, the recipe included bell pepper and onion, but for my picky eater boyfriend I only put a few teeny tiny pieces of each into his packet for flavoring.  Here's the finished product, ready to eat (my plate, more veggies):
Natural lighting is so much better for pictures!  The chicken took longer than I expected,  but luckily I have a master griller as a boyfriend, so he helped cook it to perfection.  He agreed with me that recipe turned out quite well, but he wasn't crazy about pineapple with sweet and sour chicken... he's so plain-Jane!  He must've mostly liked it, though, because he cleared his plate, except of course for:
Oh well – you can’t win ‘em all!  (And yes, I ate those few bites of peppers myself).  Tomorrow has some rain and thunderstorms in the forecast, so I’m not sure whether or not I’ll be able to go for a swim and do my yoga… but it should clear up by the evening, so I definitely should be able to grill some dinner!  Now, I’m off to work on my latest project: teaching myself to KNIT!

Monday, July 12, 2010

welcome to paradise.

This morning, I woke up in one of my favorite places.  The sun was shining, there was a light breeze, and the temperature was perfect.  It was 6:40am, but that's ok - when you live in an RV, you wake up with the sun and go to sleep with the moon.  I've definitely been groggy all day, but it'll get better.

Since I ran yesterday, I headed down to the dock to do some yoga (taken from this month's Women's Health... funny enough, this yoga sequence is actually part of a Nissan ad, but whatever), followed by some swimming.  Swimming is tiring!  Mostly because I'm not very good at it, and I didn't have goggles so I was keeping my head above water.  Alas, I know how far I went today and on Wednesday, I'm going to try to go twice as far.  ya know, to move my cardio swim time from 5 minutes to 10 minutes.  Haha.

I was planning to cook dinner tonight, but unfortunately we got so busy with errands that we didn't have a chance to come back here and eat dinner before we visited with some family.

Since the blog has been lacking pictures as of late, I wanted to share with you some photos from the weekend:

Meatball sub at the best sub shop around town

Consumed on the beach, of course.

Running and cooking tomorrow, I promise.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

bayside running!

The boyfriend and I traveled up north this weekend for his ten year high school reunion!  We've been staying with one of his good friends from high school, and I'm absolutely loving this town.  We've had delicious food for every meal, and this morning I got to go on a run this morning down to the ocean!  Okay, technically it was the bay, but it's connected to the ocean.  And there was a lighthouse, and it was gorgeous!  Lots of runners, walkers, bikers, and even rollerbladers were out and about!

The route this morning was fantastic - but the actual run, well, it was rough.  From the first step, I was feeling sluggish.  No speedy gonzalez here today!  I made it almost 2 miles - 1.9 to be exact.  I meant to run 2 miles exactly, but I think I got it in my head that 2 miles was at a certain intersection instead of slightly beyond it.  So, my pace was 11:30 miles... not fast at all, but at least I went!  I blame the weather.  It was 80 degrees and 75% humidity when I went.  Not as bad as the weather has been at home, but given that I am nearly 800 miles north of home, you'd think it would be cooler!  Apparently the entire country is feeling the heat wave.

After I finished my (almost) 2 miles, I walked the next half mile to cool down and stretch.  As I got near the house we are staying at, I decided I could sprint the last quarter of a mile home.  It's hard to know exactly what my pace was then, but it was somewhere close to a 9 minute mile, and it felt great!

Today we head even further north and inland, where we'll be spending the rest of the month.  Lots of good runs around the lake in my future, as well as some delicious home-grilled meals!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

speedy gonzalez?

I ran!  Woohoo!

Upon taking my first steps, my shins hurt, so that's not good.  But I was only slated to run 1.75 miles today (although with no breaks - yikes), so I figured I should just push through.  The bank I ran past informed me that it was 98 degrees.  Holy crap!  I was running a route I had never done before, so I left my ipod at home.  As much as I love listening to music, I like to be more aware when running new routes.  I also think I might run a little faster without music, maybe because I am focusing more on my running and less on the tunes?

I was supposed to go 1.75 miles - out and back - but I got confused about where my turn around point was, and I actually ended up only going 1.64.  By the time I got home I was gasping for air and covered in sweat.  And no wonder, because I finished my run in 16:48!  That's 10:14 min/mile pace!  Way faster than I usually go.  I definitely think that running without my ipod and focusing on trying to keep up the pace helps.  I also think that despite the 98 degree weather - the very low 36% humidity helped me out quite a bit!

Although my shins hurt and this was a short run, I'm feeling super encouraged about (a) going at ALL in this heat and (b) going so FAST!  I'm excited to spend the next few weeks in a low-humidity and slightly cooler climate, building up my mileage and focusing on my speed.  I don't have any goals of running faster than 10 minute miles, but now that I know I can do 10:14 I might try to push myself to keep my pace under 11 on my shorter runs!

I'll be on mini hiatus from the blog - but don't worry, I'll be running and planning some delicious grilled meals in the near future :-)

trashy tv tuesdays: episode 3

This past week, I tuned in for the first episode of Huge, ABC Family's new drama about kids at fat camp.  Not sure how I feel about this show.  Best line: "I'm not scared, I just think everything you stand for is crap.  No offense."  Wow.  Also, "I've only been off sugar for 3 hours and I already feel like defacing public property."  The last few minutes was really cute and funny, with the girls whispering in bed.  I guess I feel like I can't make up my mind about this show unless I watch a few more episodes - I'm not sure what it's message really is yet?  Both main characters are overweight.  Both seem to have unhealthy approaches to handling their weight loss.... we'll have to wait and see what develops.

The City was all sorts of DRAMA this past week with Roxy and Whitney.  But I just don't think that it's a great idea to have your best friend, your roommate, and your quasi-business partner slash coworker all be wrapped into one - it's bound to cause drama!  Preview saaaays... Roxy moves out.  Shocker.  I have to say, I was loving this show earlier in the year, and it's taking a turn for the booooring.  Then, tonight's episode... Olivia is back to being super bitch to Whitney, and the Roxy/Whitney drama is NOT improving.  Oh man - I can't believe she moved out so fast.  Oh well.  I'll still say that the entertainment value of this show has severely declined this season.

In other TV news, Entourage season 6 came out on DVD recently, so on Sunday my boyfriend went and picked it up.  We watched it from start to finish in one sitting.  Yes, we are a bit obsessive.  I just have to say, it was so freaking good.  Season 5 was kind of a let down - there was so much stress and drama and I was not excited about it.  This season was the perfect mix of character development and story line along with hilarious and ridiculous stuff.  I'm so pumped to watch season 7... in a year, haha.

Now onto the main event: The Bachelorette.  Now that she's down to the top 5, things are getting tough - although I think something is off about Frank (and the previews make that seem likely), she definitely has a great connection with him, so keeping him around makes sense.  She has awesome chemistry with Roberto, and the chemistry with Kirk is also good.  She and Chris definitely needed to develop more of the romance side of their relationship - but I think that's completely feasible, so whatever.  Ty, as I've said before, is perhaps too much of a Southern traditional man for her.  So, what a shock when she sent him home!  Except, it kind of WAS a shock, because last week's previews totally made it look like Ty was in Tahiti with her... but maybe he's not?  Or, will she bring him back after the Frank drama goes down?  Who knows!  All I can say is that when she gave Chris the first rose, I practically screamed.  After their awesome date I was feeling so stressed - how could he go home after that?  Also, I have to say, I think things with Kirk are about to go downhill fast... as much as their first kiss was full of passion, this week's date seemed lacking.  I'm calling it now: Chris and Roberto will be the last two left.  SUPER excited to see the families next week, especially seeing Chris's place in Cape Cod and seeing what Roberto's family is like!

Hopefully tomorrow I'll have a running post for you - but no more cooking til next week!  Tonight we had amazing Thai food cooked by my friend's mom; tomorrow is a party for my boyfriend's last day of work, and Thursday we take off for vacation!  I won't be settled in a place I can go grocery shopping and cook until Monday, so no more recipes until then.  I really hope to run tomorrow and once this weekend, but it was 104 degrees here today - yikes - and even now (at midnight) tells me it feels like 88, so I'm not sure I'll be able to handle it!  Wish me luck!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

grilling for the holiday!

Happy 4th of July!  Last night we went out with friends, and my night ended with the most gigantic, delicious, and greasy slice of pizza ever.  Hello, JUMBO SLICE!
Yum!  After that crazy night, I definitely wanted some 'real' food today. So, to celebrate the 4th, we hosted a barbecue, and with access to the grill and friends to try my cooking, I made two salmon dishes!  We also made my boyfriend's family's recipe of Macaroni Salad, which I absolutely love.  First, you dice up all sorts of goodies:
Lots and lots of chopping involved with this dish.  In fact, over the years I think this recipe is what has made me into an expert chopper!
Finished product!  Not for vegans, vegetarians, or anyone with gluten or lactose intolerances, haha.  Onto the salmon recipes!  First, I made Dilled Salmon and Vegetable Packets.  I like the grill packet recipes, because you can just toss them on the grill and not worry about making a mess.  The only downside is that it's harder to know when they are done.
I haven't made anything with dill before, and it was great!  Also, the sugar snap peas were quite tasty - thanks Susan for figuring out how to take the strings out!  (She came to visit me for the weekend!)  The next salmon recipe was Salmon with Spring Veggies.
Look at those yummy veggies on the grill!  The flavor was delicious, even though I had to improvise with some of the spices.  I have never roasted veggies on the grill before, so I was a little worried when the pepper turned black.  However, I learned that peppers always do that and they turned out great - the pepper was actually kind of sweet!

I accidentally forgot to serve this dish with the buttery sauce - oops!  I have some leftover salmon, so I will have to try it out with the sauce later!

On the running front - I meant to go Saturday morning and failed, and then thought I'd go this morning, but early mornings runs do not mix with late nights out!  I hopefully will get a chance to go running tomorrow, or at the very latest, Tuesday morning.  This upcoming week is kind of crazy, so my #1 goal is to run at least twice - but the cooking might not happen as frequently.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

(Fake) Crab Cooking!

I cooked today!  Woohoo!  After my run I was exhausted, which quickly turned to starving.  I had one package of imitation of crab meat and two recipes to tackle.  I figured one would be "early lunch" at 11am and the other could be "late lunch" at 3pm, which is perfect since the first was 220 calories and the second was 290.  Now I am full enough to last til dinner tonight!

Recipe #1 was a Crab and Broccoli Stir Fry... and that's really all it was.  Very basic recipe.  Oil, veggies, garlic, and crab in a pan, and you're done!  I didn't have and plain broccoli left so I used a broccoli, cauliflower and carrot mix.  I don't think I liked the carrots being in there.  Oh well.  Also, I added some soy sauce to this recipe after a few bites, because I was hoping for an Asian flavored dish and the only  flavor was the imitation crab meat.
Recipe #2 was Creamy Crab au Gratin.  My half and half just expired, which I thought would be ok, but it looked kind of gross when I opened it, so I opted for milk.  I was a little worried about how this would affect the consistency of the dish, but it turned out pefectly!  I really liked this recipe - it's very hearty!  It's a great dish for when you want something creamy/fatty but don't want to actually have a ton of cream and fat (it has 12g fat total, 6g saturated fat).  My only gripe with this recipe is that I don't think the celery tasted very good with it.  Maybe I needed to chop it up even smaller, but every time I took a bite with celery, my reaction was" that doesn't belong in here!"  Other than that, it was great.  I was surprised that there was no cheese in this recipe, and I was tempted to just add some in for fun.  But if I'm going to be reviewing these recipes, I feel that I should at least TRY to make them as written before I go changing them around.   It was definitely delicious without the cheese, but I think adding some would have also been just fine.
(Note: you cook the recipe with bread crumbs on top, but I mixed it up after I took it out of the oven in order to photograph it!).
What is your opinion of imitation crab meat?  I grew up eating it a lot (not sure why my parents always cooked with it) so I think that's part of why I like it, although you can't beat real crab!  Imitation crab meat has a distinctly different taste than real crab, and I think it totally depends on the recipe and what you are expecting to eat whether or not the fake stuff works.  For these recipes, it was fine, but for something like crab cakes, no way!

last run with M (for a while)

This morning I had my last run with M for a while, and the weather was (relatively speaking) amaaazing:
Partly7 am
Partly Cloudy
78% humidity

That's 10-15 degrees cooler than our recent runs, and just a liiitle bit less humid than we are used to.  Last night I was so pumped about the weather - but let me tell you, the humidity was still a killer!  We did our normal loop of 2 minutes walking, 8 minutes running, for 30 minutes total.  I guess I thought it was going to feel easier today, and it just didn't!  We did go slightly faster - 11:50 min/mile overall average (estimated 11:00 running) vs. 12:30 overall average (estimated 11:30 running) the last time we ran this loop.  I guess shaving 30 seconds off your mile time is pretty decent, but I definitely felt like I was running SLOWLY most of the time.

Anyway, I'm bummed that I won't have my running buddy for a while - it'll be about 3 weeks before I get to run with her again... but where I'm going is less humid, so that's a bonus!  I don't mind running alone / with my ipod, but I'll miss our morning conversations and her encouragement when I really want to give up! :-)

I've been awful with cooking!  I have some sweet recipes in store for lunch today, but I never really made a meal plan for this week or went grocery shopping.  I'm heading out of town tomorrow, so I just kept not wanting to bring more food into my house!  But don't you worry, I'll have plenty of opportunities to cook, blog and run from my various  vacation destinations! :-)

Today begins FREE AGENCY.  Professional basketball is definitely not my favorite sport (NFL first, NCAA Basketball second., then NBA is about tied with MLB), but this Lebron hype has me on the edge of my seat!  Where will he go!?!? Haha.  I have no clue, really, but I'm going to say either he either goes to New York or stays in Cleveland.  Although this morning's Sports Center says that Miami is pushing much harder than anyone expected.  We'll see!