Love the run

Since I’ve been in a lull in terms of my racing schedule, I’ve had the opportunity to really enjoy running for what it is. While it can be a struggle some days, once I finally drag myself outside I always end the run happy. I haven’t been running tons of miles each week (topping at about 30), but I’ve definitely been speeding up, and enjoying myself more. I tend to go through phases where I am absolutely in love with running one minute, and then the next I question my ability to continue training for races. Right now I’m embracing the love moment!

I picked up a pair of Brooks Green Silence early this week, and took them out for a test run. They’re more on the minimalist side, but aren’t as minimal as the Vibram Five Fingers I have. I actually took those out for a 1.25 mile jaunt last weekend, and am excited to slowly incorporate them back into my running as it’s been 2 years since the last time I ran in them. I’m really happy with the Green Silence, and plan to rotate them in with my Ghosts for shorter runs until my legs get stronger, since I definitely felt my calves screaming by the end of my 3.5 miles on Wednesday. Brooks’ “Run Happy” mantra certainly applies to me.

Look at those laces!
Look at those laces!

In terms of my near-future running plans, I’m looking forward to a 10 mile race on March 25th (an automatic PR since I’ve never raced that distance!), and then a half marathon April 22nd. From there, I’m not really sure what my plans are (maybe another half or two?), aside from the annual summer 5k’s, and then the Chicago Marathon in October!

My running has been fueled by some good eats, of course. On Wednesday I decided to give Healthy Happy Life’s Easy Sweet Potato Burgers a try, and they were awesome. The only change I made to the recipe was subbing tahini for almond butter (just because I didn’t have any tahini), and I also threw in a teaspoon of chili powder. The recipe made six decent sized burgers, so I’ve been enjoying the leftovers!

Waffle Fries
Waffle Fries

Even though there was a mashed sweet potato in the burger, I couldn’t help but have some fries. Conveniently, the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program sent me a coupon to sample an Alexia Foods product. I’ve had a few of the different french fries they offer, and was immediately drawn to their waffle fries (my favorite). I find that oftentimes the heating instructions on frozen potato products aren’t sufficient – I wind up having to babysit the fries because when the timer goes off, they are still mush, but after that they can go from mush to burnt in a matter of seconds. These fries were easy, though. I popped them in for the suggested 25-30 minutes, and they were good enough at 25 for my liking, and perfect at 30 minutes for my husband (he likes them on the crunchier side). Paired with the veggie burger, we had ourselves a simple but delicious meal. I absolutely plan on trying some of their other flavors, because I wanted to grab multiple bags while I was in the frozen aisle!

I’ve got some big plans for the weekend in terms of running and food – I mean, what else is there?! I’m looking forward to some running, eating, and of course, lesson planning. It’s hard to believe I’m already half way through my student teaching.

Master Marinade

As a member of Foodbuzz and an eager Tastemaker, I was excited to receive a bottle of KC Masterpiece’s Hot Buffalo Marinade. Having just made buffalo tofu tacos, I wasn’t sure exactly what to whip up with the delicious sauce. I remembered back to my buffalo chicken pizza fail, and wanted to do something more than just grill up some marinated chicken. Enter the buffalo chicken calzone!

One of my very first posts here on the blog was about buffalo chicken pizza, so it’s clear I really enjoy it. I was hoping that by putting it in calzone form, I would have more success than my attempt at recreating the pizza. There are a few reasons for my thinking, mostly dealing with the fact that I could add copious amounts of cheese. My husband loathes blue cheese, though, so it’s always tricky when a recipe calls for that or Gorgonzola (since they taste somewhat similar). Instead of trying to add just a bit and hide the flavor, I omitted it completely this time, and replaced it with feta. I realize the tastes are different, but the consistency is somewhat the same, and feta is creamy when melted.

This was definitely a win. As I was putting it together, my husband insisted that it was more of a stromboli than a calzone, but it looked delicious regardless. I’m not one for technicalities, so I’ll stick to calling it a calzone. But either way, it was delicious. A perfect reward for making it through a Monday.

Buffalo Chicken Calzone
– Serves 2 –

1 package pre-made pizza dough (I used Wegmans whole wheat)
1 can diced chicken
3 Tbsp KC Masterpiece Buffalo Marinade
2 Tbsp ranch dressing
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup feta, crumbled

1. Marinade chicken with buffalo sauce for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
3. Roll out dough, and layer one half first with cheese, then onion and celery, and finally chicken.
4. Spread the ranch on the other half and around the edges. Fold that half over the first, and curl the edges to keep it closed.
5. Bake for 25 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Serve with additional buffalo and ranch for dipping! 

Running for food

Since a solid 75% of what I think about is food related, it’s no surprise that food consumes my thoughts while I run. Ususally during long runs I dream about smoothies, milkshakes, or iced coffee, while on shorter runs during the week I think about my upcoming dinner. Take Thursday night, Cinco de Mayo, for example. In addition to thinking about the nachos I was planning to make all day, those thoughts followed me throughout my run. There were even points where I thought about picking up the pace just so I could finish and get dinner sooner. Totally normal, right?

When I realized it was already May and that Cinco de Mayo was rapidly approaching, I wanted to make something that had a little Mexican flavor, but wasn’t totally typical. I know, nachos are probably in the top 5 of things that come to mind when you hear Mexican food. But I decided to do things a little differently to give them my own twist. For starters, I took some Chi-Chi’s tortillas that had been sent to me with the mole sauce, and used those as my “chips.” I also used crumbled Chiptole Gardenburger instead of your typical chili or ground beef. Aside from that the toppings were typical; refried beans (with chipotles!), diced red onion, diced tomato, shredded lettuce, jalapeno, cheese, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.

When I received my fun little Cinco de Mayo package of mole sauce and tortillas, I also received some La Victoria salsa. I saved it until Thursday and finally got to give it a try. I also received a few Tostito’s dip packets from the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, and got to put one of the guacamole mix packets to good use. I’m always wary about seasoning packets that claim to bring about authentic guacamole flavors, just because it’s hard to replace the fresh onion, lime juice, ciliantro, etc., but Tostitos does a pretty good job! This is a perfect mix to have on hand just in case you don’t have the other ingredients available to make completely fresh guacamole.

This meal really hit the spot. Of course, it would be great at a party or get together as well. YUM.

Veggie Nachos 

 Baked tortillas (see recipe below)
1 Chipotle Gardenburger, crumbled
1 cup refried beans 
1 small tomato, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
2 Tbsp cilantro, diced
1 cup shredded cheese
1/4 cup salsa
1/4 cup guacamole 
1/4 cup sour cream / Greek yogurt 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Layer baked tortilla chips in a lightly greased 9-inch pie  dish
3. Add refried beans, followed by onion, jalapeno, tomato, and cilantro topping off with cheese 
4. Bake for 10 minutes, serve with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream

Baked Tortillas

5 burrito sized tortillas
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Cut tortillas in half, and in half again, and again to make 8 triangles 
3. Layer on a sprayed baking sheet, and lightly top with olive oil and salt
4. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden and crispy 

*Of course you know the opinions stated here on my blog are completely my own. While I received some products (tortillas, salsa, and mole) from Hormel and the seasoning packets from Foodbuzz’s Tastemaker program, I was not required to write a positive review about them – they were good (in my opinion) and deserved a shout-out!

Product Love

I don’t really do product reviews unless I’m given a product to try for that sole purpose. However, sometimes I find something really yummy, fun, useful, or just worth sharing. In this case, I really just feel the need to share some of the new things I’ve tried in the past few weeks that I’ve really enjoyed.

First, I had the opportunity to try Nature’s Pride Hearty Wheat with Flax bread, courtesy of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program. By opting in I was sent a loaf and a few kaiser rolls to enjoy. It just so happened that I was planning to make sandwiches that week, so it wound up being very convenient! My fiancé has been requesting his sandwiches on this bread recently, so he’s definitely a fan! Since the slices are on the bigger side, I’ve made quite a few open-faced “grilled cheese” sandwiches of sorts. A perfect afternoon snack!

I also made a trip to Trader Joe’s where I picked up my first loaf of Ezekiel Bread. Yes, it’s been a carb heavy few weeks! So many blogs that I read seem to all enjoy some Ezekiel bread with a form of nut butter on top of it pre-run, and also just through the course of other meals. Since I had never heard of the bread until recently, I decided to check it out. I grabbed the Ezekiel 4:9 bread, and eagerly made a peanut butter, almond butter, and jelly sandwich with it. YUM! I’m a big fan of super grainy breads, so this was right up my alley. I know it’s an acquired texture/taste for some, but I really enjoy it; I remember back in the day when my mom would get fresh bread and make sandwiches from it as a treat, I always requested the uber-grained breads. Even though the slices are smaller than typical sandwich bread, it’s still really filling because of all the grains. I’ve been savoring this loaf – I don’t want it to end!

Look at that grainy goodness!

Finally, after seeing so many tweets and blog posts about the Chobani lemon flavor, I just had to pick some up for myself! I was unsure as to just how lemon flavored the yogurt would be, as I enjoy lemon to an extent, but find that it can easily be overpowering. I mixed in some golden flaxseed for a little texture, and it was absolutely delicious! I absolutely love Greek yogurt, and Chobani is definitely my favorite brand (as I’ve read is also the favorite of quite a few other people!). I was always a big vanilla fan, and also the plain to replace sour cream, but I think I might have found a new favorite flavor! I can’t wait to get back to the grocery store for more.

I have a ton of other favorite foods / products that I find myself buying each week, but these three are the newest additions to my rotation. I think I’m going to start a weekly post of some favorites of mine, and since I’m always discovering new things, I doubt I’ll run out!

Question: What are some of your favorite foodie products?

Product Review: Ghiradelli Luxe Chocolates

Like I mentioned a few weeks ago, blogging rules. Specifically, food blogging. As a Featured Publisher and member of the Tastemaker program on Foodbuzz, I get to try yummy things every so often. A few weeks ago, I got a sample pack containing three flavors of Ghiradelli’s new luxe line of chocolates.

I’m a huge chocolate fan, so I jumped at the offer for a sample. I’m not big on candy, but I’ll never turn down chocolate. I especially won’t turn it down when there’s nuts involved. The three pieces I received were milk, hazelnut, and almond. Even though they were just little squares of chocolate, being the good fiancée that I am, I shared.

I was least excited about the milk chocolate, and most excited for the hazelnut. I’m a serious fan of hazelnuts, and it’s my go-to coffee flavor. I like almonds, too, but wasn’t expecting anything special, as a lot of chocolates have an almond variation. While milk chocolate is the most common, I always gravitate to dark – milk is just average in my eyes. So I started with my least favorite, and it was a great start. I knew that even if it didn’t get any better, it was at least pretty darn good! As I continued on to almond, the flavor grew. For both the almond and hazelnut, there was actually a lot of nut in the chocolate. Usually, the additional flavor is minuscule, but Ghiradelli didn’t hold back. Of course, hazelnut wound up being my favorite, but it barely won out over almond. While savoring each square, I began dreaming up recipes where these chocolates could be melted down and combined into pure deliciousness.

After sharing with my fiancé, I was disappointed there wasn’t more. The chocolate is super rich and creamy, in a simply decadent way. It definitely earned it’s “luxe” name. I’m looking forward to getting some to enjoy as a treat every so often!

Pyrex Goodies!

Since I’m a featured publisher on Foodbuzz, I get lots of fun e-mails about contests, giveaways, and things of that nature. Naturally, I enter any and all that I can because let’s be honest, who doesn’t like free stuff?!

A few weeks ago I entered a Pyrex giveaway, which I won thanks to being recently engaged/married. I’m kind of in the middle of both of those actually, as we just passed our -1 year anniversary Friday! That’s right, 9.10.11 is less than a year away now – I can’t believe it!

I was able to pick three products from a list of about 8 that I thought would be best used in our kitchen. So, I went with measuring cups, a pie dish, and a new spatula/scraper. While we do already have each of those three things, they are definitely on their way out. When I moved in with my fiancé, he already had most things needed in a kitchen, since he had already been living in the apartment for a few years. However, as with most things, time hasn’t been the kindest. We actually have a set of measuring spoons that has the tablespoon literally hanging on by a thread (of plastic). I have no idea how it hasn’t snapped with all the baking and measuring I do, but it’s still hanging on. So as you can imagine, slowly replacing most kitchenware is on our to-do list – good thing we can add it all to our registry!

I’m really looking forward to putting these new kitchen tools to use, as I’ve always been a big Pyrex fan. I’ll probably be using the measuring cups and spatula/scraper first. I’ll let you know how it goes!