Monday, January 30, 2012

20-mile Run

Mike and I are training for a marathon.

I forget who I've told at this point, so we'll just start with that. I decided I wanted to run a marathon - my first marathon, as in 26.2 miles - shortly before Thanksgiving of last year. I decided that starting my training after Thanksgiving would be good if I planned to run the Austin Marathon on February 19th of this year. Mike jumped on board and, to be honest, I may not have kept with it had it not been for him doing it with me.

We've done amazingly well! We've found new running routes around town and each week we add on more milage. This past weekend we reached a real milestone - our longest training run: 20 miles. We've been planning out our 20 mile run for some time now. We knew we wanted to run to the Blue Star Brewery south of downtown and meet some friends there so they could haul our tired butts home. We knew we'd have to eat and rest properly before hand.

On Saturday evening, Ellie and Geoff had us and others over for a belated Chinese New Year Celebration. We had noodles, dumplings, and chicken wings.

We left around 10:30pm (after pavlova dessert, of course!) I had washed the sheets that day, so we tucked ourselves into the clean sheets around 11pm and set our alarms.

The morning of the run, I woke up a few minutes before my alarm. The birds were chirping. I had a huge bowl of cereal before putting on my "marathon" clothes. (The list of clothes that won't rub you raw gets really short really fast during marathon training!) My GPS watch was fully-charged and ready to measure the longest distance I'd ever run. We walked over to Geoff and Ellie's house to drop off a bag of clean clothes for them to bring to us at lunch.

The sun was shining and the air was cool. We were ready!

The first part of our run was sort of dull. I feel like I've run through Alamo Heights a million times in the last 3 months. Ugh! Once we got to the river at Pearl Brewery I was energized again. I LOVE running by the river! It makes me giddy to think about living in a city that has miles of path along a river in the middle of a bustling metropolis! By the time we got up to street level we were just blocks from the Alamo. It was like running while on vacation. We're rarely downtown, especially on a Sunday morning. We swung by the Alamo and grabbed a picture, just like the tourists!
The guy who took our picture would have laughed if he had known we live about 10 minutes away!
We arrived at the Blue Star Brewery with 10 miles still to go so we headed back north up the river and ran through the beautiful, serene King William area before arriving at the Riverwalk (I call it the Riverwalk with a capital "R" because that whole path is called the Riverwalk).
We took a picture with us in front of this, but our faces are too dark and you can't see the cute umbrellas well.
Running back south, past the brewery, there is a nice path but very little to look at. It sort of reminded me of Oklahoma. There were water fountains and shelters along the way. Mike and I took some gel blocks (like fruit snacks) with us and stopped to "fuel up" twice. Having water along the route was invaluable - another benefit to the Riverwalk!

Finally we returned to Blue Star (after passing it 3 or 4 times!) for lunch. Ellie and Geoff were there and we all grabbed a big table on the patio. Shortly after, Clarissa, Justin, Kristin, Onae, Thomas and Tater (Thomas and Onae's dog) showed up. We all had a delicious lunch in the South Texas sun.

Thank you all for meeting us for lunch and supporting us!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Feeding Friendship: Ultimate Lemon Bars

Another evil-cackle-inspring dish!

This round of Feeding Friendship involved Winter Citrus!

After a bit of searching and thinking, all of a sudden I had a thought: Lemon Bars!

And then I couldn't stop thinking about Lemon Bars.....

I (re)discovered the Epicurious app the other night on the couch while I had one arm weighed down by a cat and my legs were propped up on a sleeping husband. (What else can one do besides change the channel or play with one's phone?) I like this app because it has reviews. A lot of the recipe blogs I follow have comments sections that are chalk full of "This sounds great!" and "Can't wait to try it!" But Epicurious has actual reviews from people who have made it. This recipe for Lemon Bars had a rating of 4 "forks"(out of 4) and excellent reviews.

Boy were they right.

Here's how ya do it:

Shortbread Base
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold)
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 
  • 1 1/4 cups bleached all-purpose flour (dip and sweep method) 

Lemon Curd Topping

  • 4 large egg yolks 
  • 3/4 cup sugar 
  • 3 fluid ounces (use a liquid measuring cup) lemon juice, freshly squeezed (about 2 1/2 large lemons) 
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened) 
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest (finely grated) 
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar for dusting 

For the Shortbread Base:
1) Preheat the oven to 325

2) Combine the powdered and granulated sugars in a medium bow. Either with an electronic mixer, a food processor or by hand, cut the butter into the sugar mixture.

3) Mix in the flour until a nice dough has formed.

4) Press the dough into a foil-lined 8x8 metal baking pan and poke holes in it with a fork.

5) Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned and the top is pale golden (do not brown). When removing the shortbread from the oven, lower the temperature of the oven to 300 degrees.

For the Lemon Curd Topping:
1) In a saucepan, beat the eggs and sugar until well-blended. Stir in lemon juice, butter and salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for about 6 minutes, until thickened and resembling hollandaise sauce, which thickly coats a wooden spoon but is still liquid enough to pour. (A candy thermometer will read 196°F.) 
2) Pour the lemon/egg mixture into a medium bowl. Mix in the lemon zest.
3) Pour on to shortbread base.
4) Bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes. Then let the lemon bars cool completely on a wire rack and then refrigerate for 30 minutes.
5) Remove the lemon bars from the pan using the foil. Carefully separate the foil from the curd. Cut into whatever size you see fit (Fourths? Hey I'm not here to judge...) Using a sifter, sprinkle powdered sugar onto lemon bars. 

6) Attempt not to eat them all in one day! GOOD LUCK! 

****Special thanks to Ellie for lending me her camera and Mike for taking action shots!****

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Feeding Friendship: Fettucine Alfredo (w/Greek Yogurt)

I chose Greek Yogurt as this round's ingredient! I have a go-to Fettuccine Alfredo recipe from Runner's World and chef Rocco DiSpirito. I have one of Rocco's cook books (Eat This, Now!) and I have yet to make anything delicious out of it (black bean brownies? yuck-o!), but this dish is delicious - and healthy!

So Mike got a new book, Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, which goes over several common foods that are cheaper/tastier if made at home. One of those is Greek Yogurt. So, this week, Mike made me some Greek Yogurt to be used in my Feeding Friendship dish!!

We picked up A LOT of produce at the Farmer's Market over the weekend so I added some veggies to this recipe, but I've prepared it without several times and it's just as good. Adding chicken would be yummy, too!

8 ounces of whole-wheat fettuccine
1 tablespoon butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Pinch of ground nutmeg
3/4 cup low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3/4 Greek Yogurt (any percentage will work, I've used 0% no problem!)
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: one cup of chopped raw or frozen veggies (I used carrots, broccoli, kale and mushrooms)

1) Cook fettuccine according to package directions

2) While pasta cooks, melt butter in large nonstick saute pan over medium heat. Add garlic (and veggies if using) and cook two minutes.

3) Combine chicken broth, cornstarch and nutmeg in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth and pour into the sauce pan. Raise the heat and bring sauce to a simmer, whisking occasionally.

4) Whisk in 1/2 cup of the cheese until melted. Remove pan from heat.

5) Whisk in yogurt until smooth.

6) Drain fettuccine noodles and toss with Alfredo sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Top pasta with remaining cheese.

Serves 4