Saturday, March 31, 2012

Adventures in Training #5 - March Recap & April Goals

Another month down and I feel pretty good. I wanted to end this month with a really great workout but with an unplanned trip to the doctors office with a son with two pink eyes, sinus infection and an ear infection it just didn't happen. I think April is going to be the month that I will need to kick up the workouts. I got my bike this past week so I will be able to start that, as well as adding more running. My plan is to try (as work allows) to go to the gym everyday at lunch, not just to swim but also use the treadmill. I also need to start being better about working out on the weekend. I have been struggling to balance everything going on and I am sure it won't really get much easier but I am going to have to try.

My new inspirational quote:

My April goals: continue swimming 2-3x week and focusing on longer continuous lengths, run/walk 1-2x week, bike 1-2x week not really to focus on distance yet but to just feel more comfortable on it.

Notes from March:

3/2 - 20 min, about 20 laps. I need to figure out a way to keep track of laps/distance. I tend to stop counting then I lose count. On a side note, decided today to add running to the mix this month.

3/5 - 20 min, 20 laps. Did a full length with no breath! I have been pushing myself more, it feels good. I'm not gaining speed but that is ok. I can tell me breathing is getting stronger.

3/7 - Well I went to the Y today, but it was closed because of no power. Really threw off my day! So I did some light aerobic activities.

3/8 - did 20 min of insanity! Felt great!

3/12 - 20 laps, I did some drills in which you drag your finger tips along the water, I really had to focus on it. My shoulders burned. You wouldn't think it would be that different.

3/14 - went running after work. (if you want to call it that) because this was my first "run" of the season, it was mostly brisk walking. About 1.75 miles in 30 minutes.

3/16 - just some light cardio today, took the day off with my husband. Whatever I did burn I am sure the wine had it come back.

3/17 - took a "hike" with my son and friends. More like a stroll through the woods. We we're out for probably 2 hours or so.

3/19 - had a great swim! 22 laps, about 20 mins. Totally grossed out in the locker room, can't let that affect my training.

3/21 - today was a run day, my partner wasn't able to make it and because it was gloomy I decided to go to the Y instead. Spent 20 minutes on the treadmill at 4.5-5 mph (13-12 min mile) and 15 on the elliptical type thing. It is more fun outside.

3/23 - 700 m in 25 min. PB. Instead of counting laps I focused on swimming 100 meters with a 30 second break between each 100. It felt great!

(I need to start doing more on the weekends!)

3/26 - 750 meters, 25 mins. A little better than last Friday. I am hoping for 800 on Friday.

3/28 - was supposed to run but it didn't happen so, I did Insanity Cardio Abs without the cardio. Still a good workout. (it's 3/30 and my abs still hurt!)

3/29 - light cardio, about 20 mins worth.

3/30 - 700 m, 20 min. Pushed a little harder today, rested every 200 meters, 30 seconds.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Meatless Monday: Cauliflower & Mushroom Pasta

Lately when it comes to meatless meals I lean towards pasta dishes, I am sure it do to the fact my husband will usually at least try anything was pasta. This week was no different.

When I went grocery shopping I had it in my head I wanted to use cauliflower but didn't really know what I wanted to make, I also picked up baby portabella mushrooms because they looked good. I have been trying to get my husband to eat cauliflower for a while but he never will, I must say it gets frustrating! You can't not like something if you have never tried it (or if it has been more than twenty years, there's a statute of limitations on everything.) Anyway...

I would really like to make more family meatless meals but because of my husbands eating habits I fund it difficult. Unlike him I do not need to eat meat at every meal. I have gotten him to try and like new things so one step at a time. And by the way...he tried and liked this pasta dish. He didn't know what was in and he said he liked it! So yay!

Onto the pasta...

1 medium head of cauliflower
2 tbsp olive oil, split
1/2 pound mushrooms
1/2 large onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 box of pasta, I used rigatoni
Grated parmesan, optional

Heat oven to 350 degrees and bring a pot of water to boil.

Chop/break the cauliflower into bite size pieces. Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in oven for about 20 mins until tender.

Meanwhile, slice the mushrooms and onion and mince the garlic. Sauté in the remaining olive oil until the onions are just translucent. Add pasta to boiling water.

Remove the cauliflower from the oven and add to the mushrooms, add the vegetable broth. Toss all together and simmer until pasta is cooked. Add the pasta to the vegetables. Serve with parmesan cheese.

Baked version with Parmesan cheese through out.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream

We tend to always have ice cream in our house...always.  Over the summer my father-in-law gave us our own ice cream maker, our own hot pink ice cream maker! So I decided that I was going to make a super chocolate ice cream to go along with the Super Chocolate Cake for my husbands birthday but...time got away from me so that didn't happen.  I happened to have egg yolks left over from the marshmallow fluff, so I needed to make the ice cream before the yolks turned.  And there is no reason why you can't make homemade ice cream in the middle of the week.

I looked around to find a basic starter so I could then tweak it and what I came up with was this:

5 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 pint of whole chocolate milk
1/2 heavy cream
1 cup dark chocolate chips

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate with the milk and cream.  While the chocolate is melting, beat the yolks and sugar until the yolks become bright yellow.  Once the chocolate is melted and mixed with the milk, slowly add about a cup of the hot mix to the egg yolks.  Pour the egg mixture in to the remainder of the milk mix and stir until combined.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

My Hot Pink Deni
Pour the custard mixture into your ice cream maker, per your ice cream makers instructions.  Mine churned for about 25 mins. I then added crushed heath bars and the remainder of the dark chocolate chips roughly chopped. It was the consistency of soft serve, for a more frozen ice cream freeze overnight.

We froze it overnight (after spoonfuls of tasting).  It was a struggle to wait, trust me, I really wanted to just scoop some into a cone and chow down. 

The wait was worth it, a super rich chocolate ice cream!  And I must say, it was made even better by the crushed heath bar. 

Kid Approved!!

Now that I have my first ice cream under my belt, I can't wait to experiment with different flavors.  Chocolate is always a go to and I can eat it everyday but now...I will take it to a new level.  I also want to try some dairy free versions.  I can't wait!


Friday, March 16, 2012

Super Chocolate Cake with a Homemade Fluff Icing

Today is my husbands birthday, and for some reason (he said it was because of his mother) I always thought his favorite type of cake was Angel Food...and was prepared to make him a from scratch Angel Food cake.  Well, I was wrong.  He told me his favorite type of cake would be a chocolate cake with chocolate chips, something super chocolaty and the frosting should be a whipped cream frosting or a marshmallow frosting.  So I am not one to argue chocolate, I reevaluated and planned to make something extra chocolaty with a marshmallow icing.  The results, well...awesome!  For the icing I was originally going to use my recipe for marshmallows and pipe it on top in little peaks, but right when I was getting ready to make it he seemed disappointed and wanted something more like an icing.  So once again, and last minute, I changed up my plan. 

The marshmallow icing makes about 6 cups, that is a lot of icing.  (So far it seems to be storing well in an airtight container at room temperature.)  When I started to coat the cake, it spread on the cake, off the stand, and on to the table.  I was getting really worried.  Worried that there would be nothing left between the layers and nothing left on top, I was even concerned that the top layer was going to slide off.  So I put the top on my cake board and hoped for the best!  In the photo above you can see it is still oozing, by the time we took the cover off there was at least 3/4 of an inch of fluff around the base.  But some how there was still plenty of fluff in the middle and on top, and it still tasted AWESOME!!

Super Chocolate Cake
(inspired by Hershey's "Especially Dark" Chocolate Cake)

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups cocoa powder (Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
1-10 oz. bag of dark chocolate morsels
Homemade Marshmallow Fluff Icing
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla; beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Stir in chocolate morsels.  Pour into prepared pans.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or wooden pick comes out clean.  Cool, cover with marshmallow fluff icing.

Marshmallow Fluff Icing
(inspired by Food & Wine's Marshmallow Icing)

5 large egg whites
1 2/3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cold water
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
Pinch of cream of tartar

Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide saucepan. In a large stainless steel bowl, whisk the egg whites with the sugar, water and corn syrup until blended. Set the bowl over the saucepan and whisk the whites until the sugar is completely melted, 4 to 5 minutes. Rub some of the mixture between your fingers to be sure it's not gritty.

Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the cream of tartar to the whites. Using a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites at medium speed for 1 minute to break them up. Gradually increase the speed to high and beat until the icing is fluffy, firm and no longer warm to the touch, about 10 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Use right away or put in a covered container and leave at room temperature.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mexican Chocolate Cake

If you have tried my Mexican Hot Chocolate, this recipe is basically the hot chocolate in cake form. Delish! 

Mexican Chocolate Cake
adapted from Mario Bosquez's Mexican Chocolate Cake from Martha Stewart
1 stick butter
1/2 cup oil
4 tablespoons cocoa (I used Hersey's Special Dark cocoa)
1 cup water
2 cups unsifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup sour milk (buttermilk)
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine butter, oil, cocoa, and water in sauce pan. Heat until cocoa is melted.
Combine flour, baking soda, sugar, milk, eggs, cinnamon, cayenne and vanilla in a large bowl. Combine with first mixture. (Sidenote: add just a small amount to the flour mixture first to temper the eggs so they don't scramble.)
Pour into a prepared bundt pan, (or you can use a 13 x 9 pan, but will need to adjust the length of time) bake for about 30 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

Let cool and dust with powdered sugar.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Antojitos: Mexican Pork Tarts

If you know me...I am fascinated, obsessed, in love (you can get the picture) with Mexican Cuisine. I find any excuse to try something new, and this weekend was no different.  Even though the out come was not quite how I expected, these tarts were still good when eaten fresh and warm. 

I had some friends over to shop for Thirty-one bags, and decided to make some savory Mexican snacks, antojitos.  For the tarts I combined ideas from different blogs, and Better Homes and Gardens Ultimate Mexican magazine. I made the tarts, shredded the meat, and mixed the bean mixture the night before.  I assembled the tarts about an hour before and put in the oven to keep warm (which in turn slightly dried out the tarts, so I don't recommend it.)

On to the recipe...

 For the Tart Shells:

 2 cups masa harina
1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used Monterey jack and cheddar)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup shortening (lard would be great)
1 egg yolk
1 cup warm water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl, set aside. Using a stand mixer, beat the shortening and yolk until light and fluffy. Alternately add the masa mixture and the warm water. Beat until a soft dough forms, if it seems too dry you can add more water, 1 tsp at a time.

Shape the dough into about 32 balls, using a tablespoon of dough per ball.  I pressed the dough balls in the bottom of a greased muffin tin. You could free form and bake on a greased baking sheet. Bake, uncovered for about 15 minutes until the dough it set and slightly brown.  If you make the tarts ahead of time, store in an airtight container at room temperature.

For the Filling:

1 can of refried black beans
1/4 cup of your favorite salsa
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1 small Jalapeno. diced
1 package of Trader Joe's Traditional Carnitas (or you can make your own, this was my short cut.)
Queso Fresco

In a medium bowl, mix the beans, salsa, lime and jalapeno (you will have some extra, so you can half if you want or use for nachos!) Heat slightly until just warm, the microwave works great. Set aside. Prepare the pork as directed on the package and shred. 

Take one of the tart shells and add a spoonful of the bean mixture, top with some pork and sprinkle with the queso. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wordless Wednesdays

Ok,  I saw this on another blog and thought it would be neat. Each Wednesday I will post a photo of something inspiring, pretty, yummy or just a photo, I will probably add captions just for descriptions sake.  So here is to the start of Wordless Wednesday's!

From my favorite Mexican Restaurant, Holy Frijoles  

Monday, March 5, 2012

Recycled Crayon Disks

If you have kids, you have crayons. If you have crayons, you have little pieces of broken crayons.

My son and I sat at his desk and sorted though his crayons and took out all the broken ones.  I remember doing this with my mom when I was little and thought it was so cool making my own crayons.  Now I know you can now go to the store and buy a Crayola Crayon Maker, but I don't have one so we are doing it how I remember!  I had/have a silicone muffin pan (and frankly I hate using it, it never seemed clean and just seemed like more of a hassle) so...I decided that it would be perfect for crayon making.  The mini muffin pan would probably be even better but I only have the regular so that is what we used.


We made adding the broken crayons to the pan like a game of sorts.  We separated them in to color categories, depending on the amount of broken pieces you could expand the categories. We had dark colors, reds and oranges, greens and blues, and yellows with white.  For some reason there were more broken yellows.  

Once they were all in the pan, I sent my son to play and I put the pan in the oven.  It was set at 350 degrees and only heated for about 10 minutes.  You just need to leave the pan in until the crayons are just melted.  Set aside to cool and harden.  Then I got my son and we took the "new" crayons out of the pan.  He first tried to take a bite of one, a little misunderstanding on his part...but I showed him and they were added with the other crayons.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Peacock Feather Earrings

If you follow me on Pinterest, then you may have seen my pin regarding Peacock Feather earrings.  The original post was by Simply Allis. So while having a craft day with a friend and neighbor, I decided to give them a shot.  I had and still have a bunch of peacock feathers that my mom gave me a long time ago, seriously it was probably sometime in high school, how they have lasted this long one only knows. (I am sure the age of the feathers is why the long strands look a little battered.)  I debated on trimming the feathers but as you can see I didn't.

What I used; peacock feathers, earring hooks, crimps, thread, modge podge (love that stuff!), thin jewelry wire.  I started by cutting and trimming the feather so I had a nice shape, then I stripped a little of the feathers off the quill leaving about an inch. (Sorry I don't have pictures showing the process.) I took the wire and threaded it through the earring hook so that about an inch of the wire hung from the hook, (it should be folded in half looking like two pieces hanging.) Take a crimp and slide the wires through it, but do not crimp yet!  Take the feather and carefully put the quill between the wire and in the crimp. Using pliers, crimp until snug.  I then took blue thread and dipped in modge podge, and wrapped the quill and wires.  Hang to dry. There you go.

I recently cut my hair, and think I like the way they looked with longer hair better but, that is ok I will wear them any way!

Original earrings from Simply Allis
And FYI...I could pull them off!