Month: December 2013

Hectic Holiday

I know I’ve been remiss in posting- blame it on the 70+ hour work weeks that December has brought! No empty promises about when regular posting will resume (but hopefully soon!), just a quick post to wish you all a very happy holiday! I hope you are staying safe and warm and enjoying quality time with friends, family and fantastically adorable pets 🙂

(tell me those sweatshirts are not the cutest!)

Awwww (ginger)snap!

Earlier this season I stumbled across the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and I was more than intrigued. Not only would I have a reason to bake an insane amount of cookies but I’d also receive three dozen at my doorstep and donate money to a great cause. It took me about .5 seconds to decide that this was something I needed to do.

When it came to deciding what kind of cookie to bake it took me even less time! Not a week before I learned about the swap K. and I had picked up a bag of gingersnaps from our local Lucky’s Market. Gingersnaps are easily in my top 5 cookies (probably battling with snickerdoodles for #1, honestly) and I was so excited to see that they were part of the weekly specials that I just snatched up a bag without double checking the label. I was horrified to discover that the cookies I was oh so excited about contained trans fat! I’m not a perfectly clean eater by any means but I do have lines drawn and trans fat is something that crosses the line. The cookies went directly into the trash and my holiday cheer was knocked down a notch. This cookie swap was the perfect opportunity for me to finally get my holiday gingersnaps.

I perused the internet for a few different recipes and decided to work with this one from Smitten Kitchen (who adapted it from Cook’s Illustrated and assorted other sources). I made only minor changes, as a good gingersnap recipe is hard to improve upon.

I would like to note that this recipe is crazy easy and it makes an awesome amount of cookies (over 4 dozen!) at a time. You can also freeze the dough to save for later if you don’t need to have 4 dozen delicious cookies in your home at once.

2 1/4 C. Whole Wheat Flour
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
3 1/4 t. ground ginger
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. allspice
1/4 t. ground white pepper
2 sticks unsalted butter (at room temp)
1/2 C. granulated sugar
1/2 C. dark brown sugar
1 large egg 
3/8 C. molasses
1 t. grated fresh ginger

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices. In a separate bowl (or stand mixer, food processor, etc) cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add egg, molasses and fresh ginger and process until well mixed. Sift in the dry ingredients and mix by hand to combine. 

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill. An hour or two should be substantial. I left mine in overnight so I actually let it sit at room temperature for just a bit before working with it. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll the dough into ~1-inch balls [If you do not plan on baking all the cookies at once, I still recommend forming them into balls before freezing], place the balls on a well-greased cookie sheet at least an inch apart, as the cookies will spread. Bake 12-15 minutes depending on desired “snappiness”- I baked mine for 13 and achieved a flexible cookie with crispy edges.

When (not if) I make these again I plan to add 1/2 t. cardamom and increase the fresh ginger from 1 t. to 2 t., but even without those changes these cookies were a huge success! 

Happy baking!

A little too motivated

Last night I was determined to workout this morning. I left a game night with friends early, was in bed by my too-early bedtime, stashed my clothes on my bathroom shelf and fell asleep much quicker than usual. At just about a quarter to 6 my first alarm went off and I was raring to go. As I lay in bed savoring the last few minutes of warmth I decided that I should probably check the forecast and was greeted with this: 

So I threw on an extra layer for the walk to the car (because obviously it was a gym day) and opened my front door to see a solid 3+ inches of snow and completely uncleared roads. This would have been a great time to turn around and go back to bed but I powered through. Thirty minutes later I had completed the four mile drive to my gym and saw this text from K. “It was not worth driving in this to go workout. Text me when you get there so I can go back to sleep”. He was probably right, ha. I put in an hour (40 minutes on the treadmill, 20 actually doing some strength training- yay!) and then trekked my way back home. Despite the inches of snow, terrible roads and too long drive I am glad that I went because as they say the only workout you’ll regret is the one you didn’t do.

The biggest disappointment of my morning was starting to make breakfast and discovering I was out of eggs. Since there was literally no chance of me going BACK out to the store I settled for toast, hot pepper jelly + cottage cheese (yes, on top of the toast). Not too shabby, actually.

I’m having a hard time accepting that winter is basically here- don’t even get me started on the fact that Christmas is just TWO WEEKS away. I’m not ready! We barely have decorations up and I’ve only made one batch of delicious Christmas cookies. So much to do, so little time.

Any winter time traditions that you are looking forward to this month? I’m trying to get over my intense hatred for cold + snow and find some fun things that can only be done in winter- send some suggestions my way!

A very orange dinner

I was feeling a little overenthusiastic when it came to making dinner last night. As I was picking up ingredients and putting together a plan in my head I didn’t calculate that it would lead to three burners + the oven being used all at the same time. Oops. Just a typical Thursday meal!

On the menu:
– mashed sweet potatoes w/ sauteed kale, arugula + baby spinach
– tikka masala tofu
– roasted heirloom carrots

I also didn’t realize that the resulting meal, although delicious and nutritious, would be very orange.

Eh, oh well.

Post dinner was spent decorating the tree and hanging our stockings. A little (creepy) sneak preview of our in-progress Winter Wonderland:

Today my city is freaking out about the incoming snowstorm. Schools are closed despite there not even being any snow on the ground yet! Blows my mind. Back in my day we’d have to walk to school in a foot of snow, uphill both ways. Or something like that. Hopefully this snowstorm is being blown out of proportion because I’d really prefer to kick off my long run weekends outdoors (I must not train for an entire marathon on a treadmill. I must not train for an entire marathon on a treadmill).

Anyone else covered in snow or currently living in fear of the impending doom?

Good job me!

I’d just like to publicly pat myself on the back for finally making it to the gym BEFORE work. It’s been a long time since that has happened. During the summer/early fall I got into a habit of running after work instead but not that it is basically pitch black when I leave the office (and I haven’t yet acquired a headlamp or any reflective gear) if I hit snooze too many times I’m not able to get a run in at all. This morning I set my alarm for the comical time of 5:42a and after almost an hour of wasting time (I seriously have NO IDEA what I was doing, but I blame Charlotte for being extra cuddly this morning) I was finally out the door. As I walked to my car I realized that it was still 60 degrees and I should probably run outside but I had already mentally planned on going to the gym and I just couldn’t deal with changing my plans at that point because my brain wasn’t working yet. I was very sad to see that my usual Boy Meets World episodes had been replaced by That 70’s Show, but I dealt with the disappointment and settled in for about 4 miles on the ‘mill. I wanted to run something between easy and speed work so I did a progression run:

5 min warm-up
10 minutes easy
10 minutes increasing 1mph each minute
1 minute recover at easy pace
8 minutes increasing 1mph each minute
2 minutes increasing 1mph each 30 seconds
5 minute cool-down

I maxed out at around 8mph and that’s pretty fast for me. My legs were like lead at the end.

Breakfast was 1 egg + 1 egg white, 1c. baby spinach/arugula mix, toast + hot pepper jelly

Post-run I was feeling a mix of accomplished and discouraged. Good job me for getting to the gym but the reality is that I’m still a bit out of shape and out of my normal routine. What that says to me is that I desperately need to get back to a training plan- it just works better for me.

With a potential marathon date of 5/4, a 20-week training plan would be set to begin on 12/16, which is way sooner than I even realized! That gives me a measly 11 days to continue to focus on base building, which is really no time at all. My goals for the next two weeks are just to get back into a habit of running 4 days a week and working some cross training back in. I plan on starting my weekend long run tradition this weekend with a completely unimpressive distance of 5 miles (since the first “long run” of my training plan is 7). It’s crazy how fast Marathon Training: Round 2 has sneaked up on me!

And in completely unrelated news, we picked out our Christmas tree last night! This is K.’s first EVER real live Christmas tree and I was just so excited to go hunting for it. Nothing says Christmas tree shopping like a 60 degree day in December 🙂

Terrible picture, no decorations yet. Still so pretty!

Seriously the best part of my morning was coming back from the gym and being overwhelmed by the scent of pine- no scented candle can recreate the actual smell of a Christmas tree!

Sorry, I’m not sorry.

I would apologize for yet another extended blog-absence, but since I was spending time with family, I can’t say I’m sorry.

And with a view like this how can I say I would have rather been staring at a computer screen?

Our little Thanksgiving vacation was truly perfect- a chance to disconnect from electronics and just share some quality time with my favorite people. The icing on the cake was our Thanksgiving meal- curried sweet potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts + carrots, vegetarian stuffing, pumpkin tiramisu and so much more. I’ll dedicate some future posts to a few of the recipes we made because they are definitely worth sharing.

Unfortunately our journey back to reality was a bit bumpy and I feel like I’ve been playing catch up with sleep and having a hard time easing back into every day life. This morning was finally a bit more normal and made even better by this:

While on a mission for some Silk Nog, my favorite seasonal beverage, I spied this little beauty. I imagined that it would be delicious on its own but would be put to even better use when steamed and mixed with espresso. And oh boy was I right!

Breakfast of champions. Eggs on toast with hot pepper jelly and a pumpkin spice soy latte. If that won’t help the post-vacation blues then nothing will!

Question for the masses (because I know my reader base is HUGE): how do we feel about holiday runs? I have been debating signing up for a 5K, preferably on New Year’s day. I like the idea of starting the 2014 off on the right foot, so to speak, but I find the pricing of these things to be outrageous. I know that I could very easily wake up nice and early on January 1st and run 3.1 miles on my own but something about an organized race just seems a bit more exciting. I’ll also admit that part of my desire to fork over the cash is to kind of force myself to keep it in check- no overindulging on NYE and no excuses when my alarm goes off the next morning (even though this race does boast a very sleep-in friendly 11a start time) because I wouldn’t want that money to go to waste. 

Is it wrong to use the external motivation or should I just run with it (bad pun intended) and do what I need to do to help guarantee a good start to 2014?