Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dirt Inspires Women's Trail Half Marathon Race Recap

It's a long one, so strap yourselves in!

Pre-Race
My pre-race prep started around 5pm on Saturday night when I laid out all the stuff I would need for the race...



...and then packed it up to take to my in-laws'. I went back and forth for weeks about sleeping in my own bed on Saturday night and waking up early to drive over the hill to Santa Cruz on Sunday morning, or sleeping in a strange bed on Saturday night but being able to have a more leisurely Sunday morning before the race. I went with strange bed/leisurely morning in the end.

The race was scheduled to start at 8:30 and I needed to pick up my bib number and timing chip, so I set my alarm for 6am. When I woke up, I immediately drank two glasses of water and had my normal pre-run breakfast of 2 pieces of whole wheat toast with almond butter and banana and half a cup of coffee.

At around 7:40 Brian drove me to Aptos Park where I picked up my race packet and milled around feeling nervous!


Fortunately, it wasn't a very big race (only about 300 runners) and everyone was SUPER friendly. There were a lot of A) first-time 1/2 marathon runners or B) first-time trail runners. I was both! I'm an overachiever.


Race
They postponed the start a few minutes because the line for the port-o-potties was super long. When we finally got going,  everyone cheered and the announcer kept saying (rather ominously!) "13.1 miles! 13.1 miles!"

I didn't wear my Nike+ for this run because I knew it would distract me, so what follows is a rough estimate of how the race went for me.

Miles 0-2
The first two miles were pretty standard. We immediately climbed a huge hill out of Aptos Park to get into the state park, but then the elevation flattened out. The weather was perfect - a little chilly, but not uncomfortable. I settled into around a 9:30min/mi pace. I did not go into this race with any sort of goal for my time, but figured I could probably run 13 miles in 2 hours (since my last 10-mile run clocked in at about 1 hour, 30 mins).

Miles 3-5
Mile 3 was relatively unremarkable. First of several creek crossings, which was fun. At mile 4 I stopped for a minute and ate a few Honey Stingers and we crossed another creek. I was feeling great! One volunteer said, "You signed up for this because you can do this!" as we ran by her, which was encouraging and energizing!

And then we started climbing... And climbing... And climbing... Around mile 5, I realized that there was no way I was going to finish under 2 hours. There were some sections that were so steep it was almost impossible to run and other sections so narrow that even if you wanted to run, you couldn't pass the woman in front of you. I had a hard time breathing for a while in here, because my pace was so irregular and I could just never catch my breath. And we just kept going up, and up, and up...

Miles 6-8
Still.... climbing.... And then suddenly, around maybe 6.5 or 7 miles, a HUGE downhill section, so steep in some parts that you had to walk or you would tumble down head over heels. It felt great to not be huffing and puffing up the hill, but it did not feel great to be pounding down the hill on my sore knee.

When we got to the end of the downhill, another very friendly volunteer informed us we were over halfway done! Normally, this would thrill me. Instead, I almost started crying because I could not imagine running another 6.5 miles with my knee hurting so badly. I readjusted my knee brace and soldiered on.

Miles 9 -13
One word: Brutal. My knee was killing me. I had a few more Honey Stingers at mile 9. At mile 10 I stopped to adjust my knee brace again and a volunteer asked if I was OK. She said that she had planned to do this run, but begged out at the last minute due to her own knee injury. I sort of laughed and said, "Well, this is my first half, so I didn't want to wimp out!" She looked at me like I was crazy and said, "Wow. My first half was much flatter than this! This is a really tough course!"

No kidding.

Usually when I have a mile or two left in a long run, I just suck it up and run it out. No point in walking, you're almost done! Not this time. I wanted to run so badly but literally had a hard time doing so (and I tend to run through a lot of pain). I did a lot of run-walk-run in the last two miles, praying all the while that I hadn't done any serious damage to my knee.

As I came out of the state park and headed back down the hill into Aptos Park, I picked up the pace and passed a few runners (I was determined to beat somebody! And it feels great to finish strong, even if you've had a tough run). I heard Brian call my name as I entered the chute and then I was done!
  • Final Time: 2:47:30
  • Overall Place: 186/273
  • Age Group (20-29): 34/48
The first place runner finished the course in 1:42:16. She was 40! There was also a 78-year-old woman who ran the course! Pretty incredible.

Post-Race
They had a really celebration in Aptos Park after the race, with lots of yummy snacks from Whole Foods. I had a banana and a muffin and about half of this surprisingly yummy local organic energy drink. It was fizzy!


All in all, this was a really fun race (even though it was super hard). I really liked that it was small and women-only - no one was crazy-competitive or pushy out on the trail and everyone was really encouraging and nice. It was also a Go Green race, and the race organizers did a really great job finding as many ways as possible to reduce waste, encourage carpooling, and promote buying local.

As I was struggling through my last mile, all I could think about (to distract myself from thinking about my knee) was a glass of chocolate milk and a turkey sandwich on whole wheat with avocado. So that's what I ate when I got back to my in-laws' house (after I sat in a bathtub of cold water for a while - I'm not hardcore enough for a real ice bath yet).


So, in conclusion: Was this the easiest way to do my first half marathon? No. Am I confident that I could run a regular (flat) half marathon if I train in a similar way? Yes. Am I planning to? Yes. Once I can walk without a limp again (and yes, I'm going to the doctor).

Monday, August 30, 2010

Stuff and.... Stuff

Work Stuff
Sometimes I look around my classroom and think, "How awesome/weird/hard/fulfilling/frustrating/inspiring is my job?!" Sometimes I think all of those things at once. Today my students designed a logo that incorporated three positive aspects of their life and then wrote a well-organized paragraph explaining each aspect. It was so fun to watch them work and be creative and think about the things in their lives that make them unique.

Relationship Stuff
My friend Cindy (I've known her since elementary school!) just celebrated her 1-year anniversary with her sweet husband, Daniel. She had some incredibly profound things to say about marriage that I think are great for everyone, whether you are married or in a committed relationship or single. Thanks, Cindy!

Half Marathon Stuff
Thanks for all your congratulatory comments on my first half marathon yesterday! I'm still gathering my thoughts and promise a recap within the week. The good news? I told my students today that even though it was so hard, I am planning to do another one!

Food Stuff
For dinner tonight, I made Stuffed Eggplant with steamed green beans from the in-laws' garden. Clearly I'm really running with this "stuff" theme.


It was.... OK. It's missing something, but I'm not sure what it is. I imagine the leftovers will be pretty legit, though. Leftovers always rock. Once I work out the recipe kinks, I'll be sure to post it here.

Tonight I am alternating between reading "Mockingjay," grading vocabulary tests, and watching either last week's Bachelor Pad or Buffy on Netflix. Really, I'm just enjoying sitting for an extended period of time. I don't think I've ever enjoyed sitting as much as I do right now!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Booyah

I did it! And I lived to tell the tale!



Full recap soon! Like, after I take a nap.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Running Foodie Kitchen: Menu Planning

Happy Saturday! I've been working a series of posts about how my kitchen works: menu planning, grocery shopping, pantry and freezer staples, etc. and am excited to share this first post with you!


I know some people turn their noses up at menu planning, but it is 100% imperative for me! I read a lot of food blogs and have cook books on my nightstand, and if I don't plan ahead what I'm going to make, I would never get through all the new recipes that I come across!


I'm also not a "fly by the seat of her pants"-type cook. I use recipes almost all the time and I might have minor kitchen freak outs if I don't have a certain ingredient that a recipe calls for.  If I don't menu plan, the times that I'm out of ingredients happen a lot more frequently.

So, here's how I do it!

Every weekend, usually Sunday morning, I sit down with my coffee and cookbooks in front of my computer and menu plan. This might seem a little "old lady," but, like I said before, it's necessary for me. Menu planning has some other real benefits too:
  1. It saves money! I go to the grocery store once a week with a specific list based on what I am planning to cook. This reduces impulse purchases and encourages me to reduce waste by only buying what we will need for the recipes that week. It also helps me to buy in bulk when possible, which allows me to double some meals and freeze half for later. Finally, it allows me to plan my meals around what I know will be on sale that week or on what we got in our CSA box on Friday.
  2. It saves time! I don't have to run frantically to the grocery store at inconvenient times, trying to find that one last ingredient that I need. I also don't waste time in the evening trying to figure out what the heck we are going to have for dinner. I just pick from one of the recipes I've already decided on (I don't plan day-by-day, I just plan for the week).
  3. It's healthier! On the weekend I have time to look at each meal and make sure that it will be filling and healthful. This helps me avoid last-minute, unhealthy, desperation meals. I also am able to investigate ingredient alternatives to make traditional meals more healthy!
I typically plan for about 4 meals per week and one treat (cookies, granola bars, scones, frozen yogurt, etc). There are only two of us, so inevitably there are leftovers. We eat leftovers for dinner occasionally, but we usually take leftovers to work for lunch. Teachers don't get a full hour for lunch, so buying lunch is out of the question unless you want to eat what the kids eat. We also enjoy eating out, so I typically assume that there will be at least one night a week where I don't need to cook. Finally, we generally enjoy Sunday night dinner at my parents' house. That is also the one night a week that we might eat red meat.


Once I have my recipes picked out, I go through the ingredients list for each one and make my grocery list. I used to just make a handwritten list, but recently I took a page from my mother-in-law and made a "Master Grocery List" which I have been using with a lot of success. I print a blank one each week and put it on the fridge so I can check off things as we run out (this is key!), then I add all of the recipe ingredients that I need when I sit down to menu plan on the weekend. Works for me!

If you'd like a copy of my master list, shoot me an email at meganrose.ellis[at]gmail[dot]com. I'll send you the Word document so you can edit it to your specifications!

Up next - grocery shopping! We don't shop at a traditional grocery store, so it's always an adventure!

Do you menu plan? What is your #1 reason for doing so (or for not)?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Back to School "Snobby Joes"

It's the first Friday of the school year! If we're Facebook friends, you've been subjected to countless status updates about how much I love my job. I try not to talk about work on here, but I will say that this new gig is freaking amazing. I never thought I would like teaching junior high but, although it's still pretty early to tell for sure, I might be a convert. These kids rock.

How cute is my classroom?

Another thing I think I've converted to? AM workouts. I know, it was not that long ago that I begged anyone to explain how in the world you manage to function, let along exercise, before the 6 o'clock hour. However, yesterday when my alarm went off at 5am, I somehow managed to drag myself down to the treadmill and, after 3 miles, felt pretty awesome. I then proceeded to feel pretty awesome all day long, which is saying a lot because by 3pm on Wednesday I felt like I was dying.

To celebrate all these good things, I made an Ellis favorite last night - Snobby Joes.


We can't get enough of these and if you aren't making them regularly, I do not hesitate to say that you are totally missing out. I enjoy mine open-faced on whole wheat toast with yellow mustard, pickles, and heirloom tomatoes from the farm.

We also made some lackluster potato wedges with leftover potatoes from B's first day of school candle eating demo. I really thought I'd be able to find a YouTube video of a science teacher doing this demo, but I came up empty handed. Sorry. It's pretty cool.

My weekend plans include running my first half marathon! No big deal.






Snobby Joes
from Happy Foody

Ingredients
  • 1 cup uncooked lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 1 green pepper, diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1-2 tablespoons wet yellow mustard
  • 4 to 6 kaiser rolls or sesame buns (we just use whole wheat toast or sandwich thins)

Method
  1. Put the lentils in a small sauce pot and pour in 4 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until lentils are soft. Drain and set aside.
  2. About 10 minutes before the lentils are done boiling, preheat a medium soup pot over medium heat. Saute the onion and pepper in the oil for about 7 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and saute a minute more.
  3. Add the cooked lentils, the chili powder, oregano and salt and mix. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Cook for about 10 minutes. Add the maple syrup and mustard and heat through.
  4. Turn the heat off and let sit for about 10 minutes, so that the flavors can meld.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Each Peach

Have you guys heard about this crazy California heat wave? Normally, I am not one to complain about hot weather, but it seriously sucks when you are stuck in a classroom with 30 sweaty 12-year-olds and no AC from 8 to 3.

Just sayin'.

Despite the record-breaking heat, I decided to bake some muffins Wednesday night. It was only 85 degrees in my kitchen, so I thought it probably wouldn't hurt to crank up the oven to 400 degrees at 9pm.

No biggie.

The real reason I went ahead with the baking, though, was because I had bought all these extra peaches to bake peach muffins with and they were ripening at record speed in the heat. I knew I needed to either cook them or eat them all as soon as possible and I didn't think I could eat that many peaches in one sitting.

Enter the Spiced Peach Muffin.


Spiced Peach Muffins
from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 4 peaches, diced (not peeled)
  • granulated sugar
 Method
  1. Combine flour, salt, baking powder, brown sugar, allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon in a large bowl. Stir in eggs, vegetable oil and milk, then gently stir in fruit. 
  2. Grease 16 muffin cups, and heap batter into cups; they'll be very full. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. 
  3. Bake at 400°F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until muffins test done. Makes 16 muffins.

I was short on flour, so I actually halved the recipe, and somehow still ended up with 14 muffins. I know that math doesn't really add up, but it's the truth. Perhaps I didn't heap the batter enough? Anyway, the 14 muffins that I ended up with were a huge hit with the English teachers at my school (and with my husband, of course), so I'll be sure to make these again while peaches are still in season (or, as King Arthur suggests, with blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries. Yum!).

Do you consider yourself a cook or a baker? Do you think there's a difference?
I consider myself a cook who occasionally bakes. I don't really like baked goods much, but B loves them and they are fun to share. I get nervous with the precision of baking though. I'm always afraid I'll "mismeasure" something or end up forgetting a crucial ingredient (like the time I forgot to add sugar to my mom's birthday cake when I was 10.).






PS - As of today, the heat wave has broken! I am a happier camper.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Catch My Breath

First week of school? Freak CA heat wave? No AC in my classroom? I am alive, but just barely.

I've spent every afternoon this week on the couch with a splitting headache, alternating between napping and eating everything in sight. This happens to me every year during the first week of school, but it always catches me by surprise and makes me think that maybe I'm dying. I'm not, but it's still a rough week.

I'll be back once I catch my breath. I have some fun stuff in store!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Grown Up Hot Pockets

Did you eat Hot Pockets when you were a kid? We always had them in the house, but my brother was the primary consumer. My husband, unsurprisingly, loves convenience food like PopTarts, boxed granola bars, and (of course) Hot Pockets. But to be honest, Hot Pockets kind of gross me out.
[Source - getjustin]
I mean, if this print is to be believed, I do not want those things in my body! I mean, HELLO, imitation mozzarella cheese? Artificial butter flavor? Corn syrup solids?? It gives me the willies.

[Source - ScienceBlogs. This picture comes from a really interesting article about the physics of Hot Pockets, if you're into that sort of thing which, again, my husband totally is]
You know what doesn't give me the willies? Homemade pizza. Even better? Homemade calzones. Even better? Tiny homemade calzones that are basically Hot Pockets! I am a genius. Your husbands will worship the ground you walk on (as if they don't already!). You can thank me later.

Of course, what's great about this is that it's not so much a recipe as a jumping off point. You can put anything in these, including artichoke hearts and mushrooms and olives, which is totally next on my list. These are for my husband to take to work and eat for lunch, so I opted for meat.


Grown Up Hot Pockets
Ingredients
  • 1 batch of thin crust pizza dough (or store bought)
  • 1T olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4" Italian sausage meat (I used turkey)
  • 1 jar pizza or marinara sauce
  • shredded mozzarella 
  • 2-3 basil leaves, torn
Method
  1. Preheat oven and pizza stone (if using) to 400 degrees.
  2. Saute onion, bell pepper, and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add sausage meat and cook until no longer pink. 
  3. Add marinara sauce and let simmer until slightly thickened.
  4. Meanwhile, divide pizza dough into four equal pieces and shape into rounds on one piece of parchment paper (or on a baking sheet)
  5. When sauce is done, place ~1 cup of sauce on each dough round
  6. Top with cheese and a few pieces of basil
  7. Fold pizza dough over on itself so it forms a pocket. Pinch the edges together. Put a tiny slit in the top for ventilation.
  8. Slide parchment paper onto pizza stone/place baking sheet in the oven.
  9. Cook for 20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

They might ooze a little out of the slit you made at the top, depending on how full you stuffed them.

This sauce actually makes about twice as much as you need for the amount of dough, so you could:
  1. Half the sauce recipe  
  2. Make 2 batches of pizza dough (this will make 8 hot pockets, but you could freeze them)
  3. Or, do what I do and freeze the excess sauce for a night that you don't feel like cooking. Either whip up a batch of pizza dough (it seriously takes 10 minutes max), or buy some at TJ's, or just use the sauce on top of pasta! I am all about keeping extra sauces/fillings/etc in the freezer so my husband can't pull the "We don't have anything to eat! Let's get tacos at Taqueria Superior!" card.



This is my favorite jarred marinara, by the way. Check out that ingredient list! No corn syrup solids there!



What is your favorite childhood food (that you probably don't eat anymore)?
I loved Nestle Drumstick Sundae Cones when I was a kid. And Cookies 'n Cream ice cream. Strangely, I seem to have grown out of my sweet tooth now that I'm adult.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Last Gasp of Summer

Oh, hey blog-world. Remember me? I'm that girl who runs and talks about food and complains about being tired a lot. I'm still alive. Just doing a lot of lesson planning and eating mostly toast with almond butter (which I made, so that has to count for something!).

This was officially the last weekend of summer and it flew. Friday evening started with a (late) CSA delivery!

Lettuce, broccoli, (tons of) plums, pears, cucumbers, red and green bell peppers.

The plums are already gone. They were like candy!

Then, I met two of my favorite girlies in Willow Glen for a Ladies' Night Out cooking class at Cucina Bambini (they do adult classes, too)!


We had a blast! Teresa (in the white tank) brought a bottle of wine and we giggled and gossiped and made four super-simple and delicious appetizers: Prosciutto Blue Cheese Wraps, Avocado Eggrolls, Sausage Wonton Cups, and Sesame Shrimp. Teresa is a vegetarian and Melissa (in the black T) is lactose intolerant, so we made a lot of changes (and I got to eat a lot of extra meat and cheese - I'm not complaining) and the staff at Cucina Bambini were super helpful and accommodating. A fun and inexpensive cooking class (that encourages drinking wine)? I will definitely be back!


On Saturday morning, I met my mom for a Back to School manicure/pedicure. It's always nice to get pampered before the kiddos show up! In the afternoon, Brian and I had tickets to the San Jose Earthquakes/LA Galaxy soccer match!


The "first kick" was delivered by this sweet little 6-year-old whose cancer recently went into remission!


I kind of expected LA to cream us, but we won! It was kind of a miracle, because I think LA had a lot more chances, but our keeper, Jon Busch, had an incredible game! Plus, our new "big name" player from Brazil, Geovanni, even played for the last 15 minutes! It was very exciting!

How cute are these tiny little soccer players that entertained us during half? Remind of you anything?


I have spent today cleaning our apartment (finally!) and trying to get organized for the crazy upcoming week. I can't believe my race is in one week! In fact, at this time next week, I will be done with my first half marathon! I had a not-so-great last long run this morning, but I'm still feeling confident! I just want to finish!

How are you enjoying these last few weeks of summer?






Friday, August 20, 2010

Almost Awesome

My classroom, while still a work in progress, is nearly complete. It is almost awesome.

After a few good night's sleep (okay, and daily naps for a week), I am starting to feel like a human being again. That is to say, I feel almost awesome.

I'm excited to meet my students and teach something new this year, which makes the end of summer almost awesome.

Our apartment.... OK, I'm not going to lie. Our apartment is not even close to being remotely awesome looking right now, unless awesome = tornado zone.

And these berry scuffins? Definitely almost awesome and after a few more tweaks, recipe-posting worthy.


I'm taking a "Ladies' Night Out" cooking class tonight with my girlfriends! Definitely awesome.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Greeeeeens!

That's what I think every other Thursday night, as I anticipate the arrival of our CSA box on Friday morning.

I always try not to peek at the Farm Fresh to You website, so I'll be surprised when the box arrives, but I was the kid who tore the house apart looking for presents the week before Christmas, so I'll let you take a guess at how well that works out for me (tomorrow's box looks good).

**Remember, Farm Fresh to You delivers to a TON of locations in Northern California! If you're interested in getting a delivery (totally customizable, get it every week, every other week, once a month, etc) sign up here, use coupon code 6164 to get $$ off your first box, and mention Megan Ellis.**

Despite my sheer exhaustion, I managed to drag my butt outside for a run when I got home from work this afternoon. I only had 3 miles scheduled (which I have been putting off since Tuesday) and I told myself that if I couldn't manage to run 3 measly miles, I should be ashamed of myself. I'm not going to lie, sometimes I have to guilt myself into a workout. Nothing wrong with that.

I'm too lazy to pull out the iPod, so here are some rough run stats:
  • Total Distance: 3mi
  • Total Time: ~26min
  • Average Pace: 8:55min/mi
Also, I'm happy to report that I'm blogging from the couch on my beautiful new Macbook. That I got for free. For my job. Teaching 11-year-olds. Being a teacher totally rocks.

Fancy French Food

Even though I've been totally exhausted the last few days, I've still managed to do a lot of cooking. I've read in several places that the idea that coming home from work and chopping veggies relaxes people is a big cooking myth, but I honestly do find it really relaxing and often look forward to it on my drive home!

This recipe though, is best for one of those days when you don't want a ton of prep and then you want to take a nap before dinner (like me!). I bought a copy of Fresh Flavor Fast at a Scholastic Books warehouse sale earlier this summer and it is packed with great recipes (250+!).

I saw this recipe for Pan Bangat and was immediately intrigued. I love a good pressed sandwich. I was hoping pan bagnat meant something really fancy in French, but it actually just means "wet bread." Gross.  Fortunately, it's really delicious so I'm willing to overlook it's not-so-savory name.

Pan Bagnat
from Everyday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast 

Ingredients
  • 1 rustic round bread loaf
  • 3T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2T white wine vinegar
  • 1T Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cans oil packed tuna, drained
  • 1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3T store-bought tapenade
  • 1c fresh basil leaves
  • 2 large, hard boiled eggs, sliced
Method
  1. Split bread in half horizontally. Tear out and discard most of the soft interior from each half.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, and mustard, season with S&P
  3. Transfer 2T of this dressing to a small bowl and toss with the tuna. Toss cucumber and onion in remaining dressing.
  4. Spread tapenade on bottom half of bread. Arrange basil, then eggs on top, season with S&P. Layer with tuna, then cucumber and onion mixture. Replace top bread half.
  5. Wrap sandwich tightly in plastic and place on a baking sheet; place another baking sheet on top. Weight with a heavy skilled or canned goods. Let stand at least 1 hour at room temperature (or refrigerate overnight). To serve, cut into wedges.
B was concerned when he came home and saw this:



But was delighted to eat this. It's like a ni├žoise salad on bread!


He also ate the leftovers and said they were even better the second day. I envision this in heavy rotation on our meal plan!

Do you find food prep relaxing too? 
I actually think a lot of foodies do, otherwise why would we bother to cook such elaborate meals on the (relatively) day-to-day? If I didn't legitimately enjoy prepping for dinner, we would totally be eating frozen ravioli every night of the week! Am I right?

All I Wanna Do...

...is SLEEP.

I have a confession.

I have not gone running since my 9-mile dress rehearsal run on Sunday. I was supposed to run on Tuesday, but I was exhausted when I came home from my classroom so I said I would do my run on Wednesday morning. I overslept and said I would run that afternoon. I came home and fell asleep on the couch for over an hour and was so groggy when I woke up that I just said, screw it.

I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me until Brian gently reminded me that, "You know... it's that... time." Ah yes, that time. I hate using "that time of the month" as an excuse for anything because I hate it when my students do that ("I can't take my vocab quiz because I have cramps." WHAT?!), but maybe running 9 miles on the first day of my period and then working for 10+ hours moving furniture and writing curriculum for three days in a row after a summer of sleeping in and laying out by the pool was a little much?

I kind of feel like this... but all day long.


Anyway, I took my sheer exhaustion as an excuse to make a comfort food dinner - pasta with meat sauce. Except not really.

Zucchini Pasta with Mushroom & Gypsy Pepper Ragout
inspired by FBB

Ingredients
  • 2-3 zucchini
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 4-5 small gypsy peppers (or 1 bell pepper), chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carton of mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 cups tomatoes (I used canned because I'm exhausted)
  • 1T olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Method
  1. Saute the onions in a little bit of olive oil over medium heat for about 10 minutes (until they are nice and soft). Don't cook them too high or they will burn.
  2. Add the garlic and gypsy peppers.
  3. Add the mushrooms once the onions and peppers are soft. Stir to combine.
  4. When the mushrooms are wilted and most of the excess moisture is gone, add the tomatoes.
  5. Stir all of the ingredients to combine and let simmer over medium heat for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. While the sauce is cooking, use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin from your zucchinis. 
  7. Then, use the same peeler to create ribbons of zucchini flesh by running the peeler down the length of the zucchini. Turn the zucchini 90 degrees after each ribbon so you are peeling evenly on all sides.
  8. Stop peeling once the seeds are exposed.
  9. Quickly saute the zucchini "pasta" in olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Don't cook these for more than 2-3 minutes - you just want to take the raw "edge" off.
  10. Top with sauce and Parmesan cheese.

I always forget how awesome zucchini pasta is. And this sauce? I die. I could eat this every single day. Fortunately, I made enough to feed a small army.

What is your favorite "comfort food?"

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Oh Wow

As if I don't have enough going on this week! Got two exciting emails today:
  1. I've been selected as a FoodBuzz Featured Publisher!
  2. My OpenSky shop is ready to be set up!
While I'm super excited about both of these projects, it's going to mean tweaking the blog layout and dealing with a few other issues, which is probably just going to have to wait until the weekend. I realized as I was driving home today that all I had consumed all day was several cups of coffee, an apple, and about 1/2 cup of trail mix. Work is hard! And the kids aren't even here yet!

Remembering to breathe,