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Friday, January 29, 2016

Run Food!

I have enjoyed running for several years now.  I get really excited about and competitive in 5k's.  For a long time, 5k length has been my longest distance.  A couple months ago, a friend encouraged me to consider a half marathon....Mercedes Half. At first I thought, "No way! I could never run that far!"  But lying in bed that night, I started thinking about it.  The next day, I added two miles to my usual three and took it from there.  Several runner friends recommended Hal Higdon's website for training schedules.  I've been going by it slightly obsessively and now I am up to 12 miles! I never thought I would say that!

In my experience with this so far, I am hungry!  All. The. Time.  When one is running a lot and training other muscles, one starts to think she can eat anything.  This might be okay for a while.  But then it catches up with you in your run performance.  I have seen the importance of proper nutrition whilst training for a half marathon!

So how about a few recipes to ensure appropriate nutrition during training?

Kale Salad with Sweet and Savory Ingredients

Fresh Kale (rinsed well)
Chopped Red Onion
Something Sweet (Apples or Raisins)
Something Savory (Bacon or Prosciutto)
Crumbly White Cheese (Feta or Goat Cheese)
Nuts (Almonds or Walnuts)
Whatever dressing you like.  I like to make my own Garlicky Vinaigrette:
My Favorite Dressing Recipe:
1 cup Olive Oil
1 clove minced Garlic
1 teaspoon Red Wine Vinegar
a splash of Lemon Juice
salt and pepper to taste

Loaded Sweet Potato

This recipe is really up to you depending on what you like.
This is how I did mine:
Cook the potato in the microwave until soft on the inside.  Sauté a huge handful of fresh Spinach until tender.  Open the potato and top with the Spinach, rinsed and drained Black Beans, Corn and Cheddar Cheese.  This makes it sort of a Southwest style potato that would probably be tasty with Salsa and Sour Cream.
Another way I did one was: Prosciutto, Feta Cheese and Savory Sweet Corn Relish.  That might sound weird, but it was quite tasty!

Bacon Brussels Sprout Parmesan Pasta

A friend of mine found this recipe in a magazine and cooked it for me one night.  It is hearty and so simple and delicious!  I don't go by a recipe when I make it now.  I like to add way more ingredients than the original recipe called for anyway!  This recipe is probably my favorite way to carb-load before a long run.  I never knew before but yes, carb-loading while training is a thing...and it really helps!

1 box Bucatini Pasta (I love this kind because they are hollow spaghetti-like noodles)
1 bag fresh Brussels Sprouts (cut into quarters)
6 -8 strips Bacon
1 package Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup other White Cheese (Mozzarella or White Cheddar)
about 1/2 cup preserved Pasta Water
salt and pepper to taste
Crushed Red Pepper for topping
1. Cook the pasta by the instructions on the package.  When done, drain and drizzle with Olive Oil so noodles don't stick together. 
2. While the pasta is boiling, cook the Bacon over medium heat until crispy.  When it is done, transfer to a plate and set aside, leaving the grease in the pan.  After it cools a bit, crumble into small pieces.
3.  Add the Brussels Sprouts and cook until tender and starting to brown, tossing every few minutes.
4. Mix all ingredients in the large pot you boiled the noodles in.  Pour the pasta water as needed to help combine and moisten ingredients.  
5. Serve while hot and top with Crushed Red Pepper Flakes.

Yes, it is important to eat nutritious and filling foods while running frequently and for ever increasing distances.  The occasional Cheeseburger and Fries are part of training too! least in my opinion. Ha!  

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Real Italian Night

Wow, I have really been out of touch with my blog for the past few months.  I missed you! Nice to see you again.  It was just that the holidays were so busy!  I wanted to write about holiday food and celebrations, but the chance to sit down and type just never happened.  So here I am, finishing a post that I started back in September, when I went to visit friends who were just off a trip to Italy.  Here we go...

My dear friends, Courtney and Charlie had the amazing opportunity to attend a cooking class in Tuscany.  You know I was all over that!  I got them to share with me, the lessons from the class.  I also insisted we cook one of the recipes they learned on!

Homemade Ravioli Pasta with Cheese Filling
and Brown Butter Sage Sauce

It was coincidental that our task for the night was to make our own pasta.  I watched the episode of the Netflix show, "Chef's Table", that was about Massimo Bottura.  He is an Italian chef, obviously.  He is shown making his own pasta.  He talks about watching his grandmother make it, as a child.  I found that show so interesting and inspiring.  I had been looking for an occasion to attempt pasta-making.

When making your own pasta, you start by forming a bowl out of the flour and beating the eggs inside of the bowl.  This way, the flour gradually gets incorporated into the eggs.  And yes, we just did this right on the (clean) countertop.
That looks like some exciting egg incorporation! Ha!
Once the dough was ready, we ran it through a pasta press.  It was fun!  Something about the process is just rewarding.
It's ready to place the filling, cover with another strip of dough, and cut into raviolis. 
Here are the finished raviolis, ready to cook.

And finally, here's the recipe...straight from a Tuscan cooking school!  You're welcome! 

 Was there an original recipe for Real Italian night? might ask.  Well yes.  I did create one.  For a side dish, I couldn't decide if I wanted to do Bruschetta and Crostini or Caprese Salad.  So I didn't decide, I did both!

Capre-schetta with Crostini
3-4 Roma Tomatoes
Fresh Mozzarella Cheese (as much as you want)
Handful of Fresh Basil
2-3 tablespoons Olive Oil
Splash of Balsamic Vinegar
Sea Salt to taste
Red Pepper Flakes to taste
Juice of half a Lemon
1 Baguette
Butter or Olive Oil to spread on the bread
Chop the Tomatoes, Cheese and Basil and toss together in a bowl with the Olive Oil, Vinegar and next three ingredients.  Set aside to allow flavors to blend.  Slice the baguette into thin slices.  Spread with butter or Olive Oil and toast under a low broiler until golden.  Flip and brown the other side.  This won't take long, so just stay nearby.

So if you're looking for a unique dinner party idea, this is a great one!  Get your friends in on the fun and make your own pasta!  You will feel so accomplished and so...Italian!