Thursday, March 31, 2016

Easy Applesauce Cake

Do you ever make recipes that call for tiny bits of ingredients you normally wouldn't use? I recently found myself with a bunch of applesauce, which is something I don't especially like eating plain. But I didn't want it to go to waste so I decided to research recipes that use applesauce. 

In the end I decided to make an Applesauce Cake! I used bits and pieces from a few recipes to create my own so I was a little nervous about how it might turn out. However, it ended up having a great consistency and was super flavorful. I definitely recommend giving this one a try, especially if you have applesauce to use up!

Easy Applesauce Cake

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted + extra for greasing the loaf pan
1 cup sugar
1 cup unsweetened applesauce, room temperature
1 tsp pure almond extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp pure almond extract
1-2 Tbsp water

For topping:
2 Tbsp sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan with unsalted butter and set aside. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar. Mix in applesauce followed by the almond extract. In a separate mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add to the butter/sugar/applesauce mixture and mix til combined. 

Add mixture to the prepared loaf pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow the cake to cool 5-10 minutes before removing from the pan and setting on a wire rack. 

While the cake is cooling, make the glaze by stirring the almond extract into the confectioners sugar. Add the water a drop at a time until the glaze is the right consistency. 

Spread the glaze over the cake then top with the sliced almonds. Allow glaze to harden, then slice the cake and serve! 

Note: I recommend only slicing the amount you plan on eating - leaving the remaining cake in loaf form will help keep it from drying out. 

Tell me: What's your favorite way to use applesauce?

- ST

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Dreaming of Summer + This Week's Training Plan

This is my confession for the week: I've already started wearing sandals even though it's only March ;)

It started when I was having mega back issues and couldn't bend over to tie my shoes. So on warmer days (50ish+) I started wearing sandals since they were so much easier to put on than normal shoes. After getting a taste of wearing sandals, I wasn't about to look back! Pretty much every day that the temps have reached 50, I've worn a pair of sandals. Clearly I can't wait for the summer days ahead.

My back has recovered even more in the past week and is feeling really good this week. I've been doing so well that my PT at Body Mechanics said I can move down to 1 PT appointment a week. So lots of progress! As a result, I get to add a little more to the training load this week:

Monday: 5 glue miles w/strides + YC3
Tuesday: 8 mile workout, inc. 400s, 800s + 1.5 mile strength interval
Wednesday: 4 recovery miles
Thursday: 5 glue miles w/strides + PT
Friday: 8 mile run, inc. 45-second pickups
Saturday: 4 glue miles
Sunday: Rest Day

Total: 34 miles

Although I didn't include it in the plan, I also intend on doing core work every day, including planks, hip lifts and my PT homework. One thing I'm super excited about this week is being able to add a group exercise class back into my workout mix. Since YC3 is lower impact it's a great way to get back into things, and hopefully I'll be able to add back my favorite Y-Fuse and Y-Blitz within the next few weeks.

These past few weeks I've been a bit lazy with food prep. I've chopped up veggies and fruit but that's about it. So I've had to rely on eating things like Trader Joe's frozen meals and - gasp - Lean Cuisines. This past weekend I got my act together and did a bit of food prep so my fridge is well stocked with veggies, fruits, quinoa, beans, etc. Here's a sample food day for this week:

Breakfast: Oatmeal (1/3 cup oatmeal, 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk + 1/2 cup strawberries + dash of cinnamon) + Plain, Non-fat Kefir
Snack: 6oz Greek Yogurt + Raw Veggies
Lunch: Burrito Bowl (quinoa, black beans, zucchini, salsa, queso fresco, black olives) + 1 Banana
Snack: 3 cups popcorn
Dinner: Chicken Pesto Spaghetti Squash (grilled chicken + pesto sauce + spaghetti squash + shaved Parmesan cheese) + Spinach Salad (spinach + cucumber + pepper + clementine orange)

So things are looking up this week! And it's a good thing since my next race is less than two weeks away. It's called the First Call 5k, which I find pretty appropriate since it will be my first race in 2016 and my first race since getting injured in January. It may not be a fast race for me but I plan on putting forth the best effort I have for the day just to see where I'm at right now.

And to wrap up today's post, here are a few things that made this past week great:

A new book - It's back to nonfiction for a bit with my newest book. This one should be an interesting read! 

Ordering new running clothes - Now that I'm finally feeling more like myself again, I decided to treat myself to a few new items. Coming my way are Oiselle Lori Shorts in Denim, a Oiselle Roga Visor and two Nike tanks!

Easter lunch - I love getting together with my family and our holiday meals are always a delicious time. This year's Easter meal included ham, lamb, scalloped potatoes, roasted carrots, peas, salad and buttermilk biscuits. 

I promise I also ate plenty of veggies ;)

My questions for you:
  • What's on your training plan this week? 
  • What's the last book you read? Why or why wouldn't you recommend it?
  • What running/workout gear are you loving right now?
  • What do you love most about summer?
Fingers crossed the temps hit 60 soon! 

- ST

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Blueberry Crumb Cake

With Easter just a few days away, it seems like the perfect time to share the recipe for my favorite Blueberry Crumb Cake. This delicious cake is sure to be a hit at your holiday gathering whether served plain - or with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream!

It's also a perfect recipe for those of you who are intimidated by baking. It's super simple to follow - just make sure you don't squish your blueberries when adding to the batter and that your crumb topping is chilled before baking!

Blueberry Crumb Cake
Recipe from Martha Stewart

For the struesel topping:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

For the cake:
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened + more for pan
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp allspice
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9x9 square baking pan. To prepare the struesel, stir together the flour, brown sugar and salt in a large bowl. Using your hands, cut in the butter until large crumbs form. Chill the struesel mixture until ready to use.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and allspice. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately until just combined. The batter will be very stiff. In a large bowl, toss the blueberries with a bit of flour, then hand mix the blueberries into the batter. Spoon into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the cake with the struesel mixture then bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Tell me: What are you serving for Easter brunch?

- ST

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A PT Miracle + This Week's Training

It's really amazing what a difference just one week can make. Last week Tuesday, I experienced one of my worst days since injuring my back. Non-stop pain all day that radiated into my hips/pelvis area. Not even taking ibuprofen helped. Obviously running was out of the question. But then things took a turn for the better after a dry needling session during my physical therapy appointment on Wednesday. And after a second dry needling session on Friday, I was feeling better than I have in weeks. The PTs at Body Mechanics are miracle workers!

So I'm thinking a full week of training may be possible this week. Modified, of course. I don't want to make the mistake of trying to do too much too soon especially since I'm still not back to 100 percent. But I'm at least feeling good enough to plan a few runs. And I'm tentatively putting Y-Core in the plan. I'll also do core work on my own throughout the week even though I didn't make note of it in my training plan.

Monday: 4-5 glue miles + PT
Tuesday: 7 mile workout, inc. 2min 5k pace segments 

Wednesday: 5-6 recovery miles + Y-Core?
Thursday: 4-5 glue miles + PT
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: 8-10 mile run
Saturday: 4-5 recovery miles 

Total: 32-36 miles

As much as I've enjoyed cooking and baking up a storm these past few weeks, this week is back to my usual diet. I'm finally feeling motivated again to eat healthier and actually fuel my training. Here's a sample food day for this week:

Breakfast: Breakfast burrito (1 tortilla, 2 eggs scrambled, 1/8 cup shredded cheese, 2 Tbsp salsa)
Snack: Greek yogurt + Raw vegetables
Lunch: TJ Beans, Greens & Grains + Banana
Snack: 3 cups air-popped popcorn
Dinner: Salmon Salad (Baked salmon, spinach, chopped red pepper, sliced cucumber, 2 Tbsp vinaigrette dressing) + 1 cup blueberries

So the road to recovery continues but I finally feel like progress has been made. Sadly I was unable to race last weekend's Luck of the Irish 10k but I tentatively have another race on my calendar for mid-April, the First Call 5k. I will consider it a huge win if I can get to the start - and finish - line of this one. It's only three weeks away so we'll see how things feel then. If I feel I can put forth a decent effort without risking a setback in recovery, I'll race!

Once again, I'll end this post on a positive note with a few things that made last week wonderful:

My Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio 5k award arrived! Isn't it a beauty? This one was a complete surprise since I didn't realize awards were given for the 5k race. Getting this award made me feel extra motivated to get back in 5k racing shape. I want to run fast again!

I indulged in one final Shamrock Shake for the season. Mom and I decided to get large shakes to go out with a bang ;)

I read the latest book in the Shopaholic series. This one was just as fun and lighthearted as the other books in the series. It was such an easy read and just the thing to take my mind off all the back issues earlier in the week!

Mom and I dropped by the Wisconsin Humane Society to donate supplies. We also visited the kitties and pups although most of the kitties were not around while we were there. I guess that just means we'll have to go back soon ;)

My questions for you:
  • How is your training going? Are you on-track to meet your spring race goals?
  • What's on your diet plan this week?
  • What made last week wonderful for you?

- ST

Monday, March 21, 2016

Pistachio Pasta

Pasta and pistachios. I don't know why I didn't think of this combo sooner. I recently had a bit of a pasta craving but I wasn't in the mood for a tomato or cream sauce. I also happened to have a bag of pistachios on hand so I decided why not make a pesto-like pistachio sauce?  It was a total dinner win :)

Pistachio Pasta
Serves 6
1lb pasta of choice (I used buccatini)
1 cup pistachios, shells removed (measure nuts without shells)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup half & half
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Salt & Pepper 

For serving:
Pistachios, shells removed and toasted
Parmesan cheese, shaved
Parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pistachios on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 5-10 minutes or until the nuts are fragrant. Remove from oven and set aside. 

In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain pasta and set aside in a large mixing bowl. 

While the pasta is cooking, add the toasted pistachios and butter to a food processor and pulse until well combined. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while the food processor is blending. Remove mixture from food processor and place in a medium bowl. Stir in the half & half, Parmesan cheese and garlic powder. Salt and pepper to taste.

Add the pistachio mixture to the pasta and toss to combine. When the pasta strands are evenly coated, plate up your servings and sprinkle each with toasted pistachios, Parmesan cheese and parsley. 

Today I'm linking up with Deborah (Confessions of a Mother Runner) and Sarah (A Whisk and Two Wands) for Meatless Monday. Visit one or both of their sites for more delicious vegetarian recipes! 

Tell me: What is your favorite way to eat pistachios?

- ST

Friday, March 18, 2016

Friday Faves: Current Loves & Obsessions

TGIF Friends! This week's Friday Five theme is Favorites so I decided to write about my current running & fitness loves & obsessions.

A special thanks to the DC Trifecta Bloggers (Courtney from Eat Pray Run DC, Mar from Mar on the Run, and Cynthia from You Signed Up For What?!) for hosting this link up! Make sure you check out their blogs as well!

Oiselle Holepunch Distance Shorts - My all-time favorite shorts are Oiselle Distance Shorts. They provide the best fit no matter the distance and I love all the extra pocket space for carrying essentials like keys, ID, a gel, etc. I have these shorts in virtually every color and wear them every day. So I'm thrilled to see there is a new variation available. The Midnight color is fantastic and I can already tell these shorts will be a new favorite in 2016.

Lululemon Salute the Sun Singlet II - This is my newest running tank and I love the way it fits! It's super lightweight with a flattering fit and the slit in the back adds a little style. Although it was made for yoga, I think it's perfect for running! 

Power Crunch Protein Energy Bars- After a long run or tough workout, it's important to refuel. Chocolate milk is still a favorite of mine, but lately I've been indulging in Power Crunch Protein Energy Bars. I received a sample bar at last year's Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio expo and liked it so much I bought a bunch when I found them at Trader Joe's. My favorite flavor is French Vanilla Creme - it kind of reminds me of those brightly colored wafer cookies I sometimes ate as a kid!

Nike Running Anti Blister Lightweight Low Cut Tab Socks - How's that for a tongue twister? In all seriousness, these socks are awesome. They are super thin which means there's less fabric to bunch up in your shoes. Also they are snug fitting which means they stay in place further reducing the risk of uncomfortable rubbing on your foot. And the price can't be beat - $10 for a pair of running socks is a bargain :)

Run WI T-shirt - I bought this t-shirt at Performance Running Outfitters a few weeks ago and it's already a favorite. It's super soft and hits at the hip and comes in several pretty colors - I chose turquoise :) A must-have for any Wisconsin runner! 

That's it for the week! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Let's catch up again soon. 

Tell me: What are your current loves & obsessions?

- ST

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A PT Update!

Since we last talked running, I've had four physical therapy appointments in the span of just one week. It feels good to finally feel like I'm doing something to help my back recover.

The place I'm going for PT is Body Mechanics, which is conveniently located less than a mile from where I live and also from where I work. It was highly recommended to me by several runners who I greatly trust so I felt really good about making an appointment with them. I felt it was important to work with someone who understands runners because the last thing I wanted was someone who would tell me that I can't run for XX weeks. Although I can't run the way I did before my injury, I'm still trying to at least maintain some semblance of fitness so that when I'm able to train hard again I'll be in a better position to do so. 

The first few days of PT I got off easy and didn't really have any at-home exercises to do besides a cat/cow type exercise and massaging/stretching my lower back through my abdomen area. I also started sleeping with a pillow pushed up against my sit bones. 

Starting this week I have more at-home exercises to do. In addition to the ones from last week, I'm doing a core strengthening exercise as well as one that will hopefully help re-align my back.

During yesterday's appointment we tried dry needling, which seemed to really help! If you've never had dry needling, it is the oddest sensation. It doesn't hurt when the needle goes in, but after a few seconds you feel peculiar twinges - almost like a vibration - going through the area. And it hurts! But pain is temporary and it's nothing as bad as the back pain I've felt on some days. The best thing is that I instantly felt more mobile than I've felt in quite awhile so I think it was a success. My PT explained it usually takes a few sessions for the best results. Since I feel like the first session went well I'm looking forward to seeing how I feel after the next few. 

As for training, I've been really listening to my body and if it tells me I need to take a rest day, I do it without question. So I haven't been getting in my usual 6 days of running per week but I've averaged around 30 miles per week, which I think is decent for an injured runner. I've been able to do this by really backing off pace when necessary. For example, I've noticed faster strides irritate my back so I've stopped doing them. Unfortunately gym work is out of the question right now but I've been using the time I would normally spend at the gym to work on my PT exercises.

Being an injured runner requires a lot of faith and belief that things will get better. I've become a bit soft these past two months - gaining 5-8 pounds will do that to you! - but I'm trusting that I'll recover and be back to my usual tough training self soon. Focus on the positive and push the doubts aside!

Tell me: How do you stay positive when training isn't going your way? Also, have you tried dry needling? If so, what was your experience?

- ST

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Lightened-Up Shepherd's Pie

With St. Patty's Day right around the corner, I thought I'd share my recipe for Lightened-Up Shepherd's Pie. It's a perfect way to celebrate the holiday while still keeping things pretty healthy. And although this one is lighter on calories and fat, it's definitely not light on flavor. The rosemary and thyme add a nice savory flavor to the meat and veggies and the mashed potatoes on top are a nice creamy complement! 

Lightened-Up Shepherd's Pie
Serves 8

1 1/2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 cup chicken broth, unsalted
1/2 cup milk (I used 2 percent)
2 Tbsp plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp butter
Salt & Pepper to taste

1 lb ground beef (I used 93 percent lean)
1 small onion, small diced
2 carrots, small diced
2 stalks celery, small diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini, small diced
16 oz frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn, green beans)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup beef broth, unsalted
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 tsp paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add the potatoes to a large pot and fill with water until potatoes are covered. Cook on medium heat until potatoes are cooked through and can be easily pierced with a fork. Drain water from the pot, then mash potatoes. Stir in chicken broth, milk, Greek yogurt and butter and mix until your potatoes are a smooth, creamy consistency. Salt & pepper to taste.

In another large pot, brown ground beef with the onions, celery, carrots and garlic over medium heat. When the beef is cooked through and no longer pink, drain off excess fat then add the zucchini and mixed vegetables and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Next, add the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary and thyme. Allow flavors to combine for 2-3 minutes, then stir in the flour, followed by the beef broth. Cook for another 3-5 minutes to allow the mixture to thicken. Salt & pepper to taste.

Pour beef mixture into a 9x13 pan and top with the mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika, then cover with aluminum foil. Bake 30-35 minutes.

Tell me: Are you doing anything to celebrate St. Patty's Day?

- ST

Friday, March 11, 2016

Friday Five: My Perfect Milwaukee Food Day

Happy Friday!

This week's Friday Five theme is Food & Drink so I decided to create a post featuring the five places in MKE I'd eat at in a perfect food day. Although I think it would be impossible to eat this much food in one day, a girl can dream! ;)  

A special thanks to the DC Trifecta Bloggers (Courtney from Eat Pray Run DC, Mar from Mar on the Run, and Cynthia from You Signed Up For What?!) for hosting this link up! Make sure you check out their blogs as well!

Breakfast: Cafe at the Pfister
This restaurant is so comfy despite being in Milwaukee's grand and historic Pfister Hotel. I come here for brunch fairly often and have ordered a number of things on the menu. However, my recent favorite is the biscuits and gravy. I love the warm buttermilk biscuits that are smothered with sausage gravy served with hash browns and two eggs any style (I always get overeasy). And the best way to wash it down is with a large mug of coffee (two Splendas, a splash of cream). 

Lunch: Cempazuchi
I've been to this place dozens of times over the years, and I usually order the exact same thing every time: a cup of sopa Azteca and black bean tostadas, hold the onions. The soup has a bit of a kick that's perfect on a chilly day. The tostadas are so fresh and, unlike a lot of Mexican restaurants, not the least bit greasy. 

Afternoon Snack: Kopp's Custard
I love Kopp's Custard - it totally takes me back to summers as a kid. Vanilla custard served in a cone was a favorite then and still is today. Although now I'm also a fan of mint chip and butter pecan!

Dinner: Maxie's Southern
Everything at Maxie's is sooo good. Every meal starts with a basket of the restaurant's delicious sweet cornbread. As an appetizer, I like sharing a basket of sweet potato fries or a plate of the fried green tomatoes or fried pickles. For my meal, I order the pulled pork plate with the corn and arugula salad and mac & cheese. Maxie's mac & cheese is so amazing that I sometimes order a plate of it as my main course. It's super creamy and rich and has a delicious breadcrumb topping - simply the best!

This pic does not do this meal justice - bad lighting!

Dessert: Honeypie
Three words: Pistachio Chocolate Pie. I tried this pie for the first time about a year ago and it was a mega swoon moment. It was so decadent that I had to take most of the piece of pie with me in a to-go container. Since Honeypie rotates its daily pies there's no guarantee this particular pie will be available, however you really can't go wrong with any of the restaurant's homemade pies!

Tell me: Have you tried any of the restaurants I listed? Where would you eat during your perfect food day?

- ST 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Easy Enchiladas

Lately, my go-to dinner is enchiladas. My version includes corn or whole wheat tortillas loaded up with lean protein and veggies and topped with a super flavorful Contija cheese. This recipe is so healthy and simple to assemble that I've even made it for a night-before-a-long-run meal.

Since I constantly vary the meat, beans and veggies that I use, no batch turns out the same. And that's really the best part - you can mix and match ingredients to suit your exact preferences - or in my case, use what I happen to have on hand! A few of my favorite combos include:

  • Shredded chicken + Black beans + Red Pepper + Corn
  • Shredded pork + Zucchini + Spinach + Corn
  • Black beans + Roasted potatoes + Red pepper
Shredded pork + Zucchini + Corn + Spinach

So without ado, here's the recipe for the easiest enchiladas you'll ever make!

Easy Enchiladas
Serves 4

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups veggies of choice, small diced or grated
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup cooked shredded meat or beans of choice
1 tsp cumin
8 small tortillas, corn or flour
1.5 cups enchilada sauce of choice
2oz Contija cheese, crumbled

For serving:
1 avocado, thinly sliced and sprinkled with salt
Cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Smooth a thin layer of enchilada sauce (about 2 Tbsp) in the bottom of a 11x7 casserole dish. 

In a large, deep-sided skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add veggies and garlic and cook until softened - about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the meat or beans (or a combo of the two!) and cumin and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. 

Divide the meat and veggie mixture between the 8 tortillas and roll up. Place in the prepared casserole dish and top with enchilada sauce followed by the Contija cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving. Top each serving with avocado slices and cilantro!

Tell me: What meat/bean/veggie combo will you use to make your easy enchiladas?

- ST

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

One Day At A Time

So last week didn't go exactly as planned. Within a few hours of posting last week's training schedule my back injury decided to rear its ugly head. I still attempted to do my workout that evening, but after constant pain and discomfort during my warmup miles I knew I was done for the day. And then I had to take Wednesday off because things still felt pretty bad. 

But by Thursday things were feeling okay again and I decided I felt good enough to attempt Tuesday's workout again. And this time I got through it just fine. I hit my paces and Coach Matt and I agreed it was a total success, especially since we both thought after Tuesday we'd have to scrap the workout completely. 

My takeaway after last week is that I need to take things a day at a time. I'll still have my weekly plan from Coach Matt but sometimes we may need to move stuff around a bit. I'm letting go of a lot of expectations and all of my timelines. While I'd love to write PR Attempt next to races on my calendar, right now it's better to think about successfully getting through today's run. And then tomorrow, tomorrow's run. 

Here is this week's tentative training plan:

Monday: 5 glue miles w/strides
Tuesday: 7 mile workout, inc. 3 sets of 800, 400, 800, faster each set
Wednesday: 5 recovery miles
Thursday: 6 glue miles w/strides + PT!
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: 9 mile run
Sunday: 5 recovery miles

Total: 37 miles

On a positive note, I have my first physical therapy appointment this week! Several runner friends recommended the person I am going to see so I'm excited and very hopeful things will start getting better soon!

As I did last week, I'll end this post with a few things that made last week wonderful:

I had the most delicious breakfast on Sunday - biscuits & gravy, hashbrowns and overeasy eggs at Cafe at the Pfister. This meal was a total calorie splurge but totally worth it. 

Eddie can now be referred to as 'Hot Dog Eddie'. My cousin, Pam, gave him a hot dog coat and it is so adorable. I think Eddie even likes it as he purred and purred while he wore it for a bit over the weekend. 

My Rock 'n' Roll race discount is now available! If you're running a Rock 'n' Roll race this year, check it out - after all, the more you save on each race, the more races you can run each year ;) 

My good friend, Alysha, gave me Katie Lee's latest cookbook, Endless Summer. This is a gorgeous book with beautiful pictures and fantastic recipes. I can't wait to try some - or all - of the recipes in the book. And I also can't wait for summer!

My questions for you:
  • Have you seen a PT? If so, what was your experience?
  • What made last week wonderful for you?

- ST

Friday, March 4, 2016

Five Races I Can't Wait to Run in 2016

So what's a semi-injured runner to do with her spare time? That's easy - dream about all the upcoming races this year!

I have about a dozen races on my calendar for 2016 but decided to focus this post on the ones I'm looking forward to the most. Some I do every year but a few are ones that I'll run for the first time. Knowing I have so many fun races this year makes me extra determined to get completely healed up!

This week, I'm linking up with the Friday Five. A special thanks to the DC Trifecta Bloggers (Courtney from Eat Pray Run DC, Mar from Mar on the Run, and Cynthia from You Signed Up For What?!) for hosting this link up! Make sure you check out their blogs as well!


Nicolet Bay 5k - This will be my third year doing this race. I love how even though it's a small, low-key event, the organization is top notch. The course is flat and fast and runs through Door County's beautiful Peninsula Park. This year I'm turning the race into a mini getaway weekend and am planning to stay an extra day to enjoy the sights, restaurants and all the cute little shops. 

2nd Female at last year's race!

Bellin 10k - For a few years now, Bellin 10k has been on my list of races. I've heard wonderful things about the event and love that it's a super large race that attracts international talent. I have no illusions of getting even an age group prize at this one. My only goal is to run fast and chase down my 10k PR. And I think I'll have a good chance at doing it since I'll be surrounded by tons of supremely fast runners!

Rock 'n' Roll Chicago 10k - I absolutely love Chicago, which means I really love racing in Chicago! This race is always challenge due to the often hot & humid mid-July weather, but it's still a fun one. It's not every day you get to run the streets of downtown Chicago. Also, the energy at Rock 'n' Roll races can't be beat. They are major events will thousands of runners, huge expos, on-course entertainment, gorgeous medals - the whole nine yards. And after the race I love shopping and eating my way through the city!

Race for the Bacon 5k - Running + Bacon - what's not to love?? This is another smaller event that runs through a local park. It's a pretty fast course, but the best part of the event is the bacon!! There is a Bacon Station midway through the race that runners can opt to run by to snatch a piece of bacon to eat midrace. I did this last year and nearly choked but this year I'm going to do so much better ;) There is also an awesome Bacon Bash at the finish, which features tons of bacon treats. All the motivation I need to run a bit faster during that last quarter mile of the race! 

Rock 'n' Roll Montreal 5k - This will be my first trip to Canada and my first time doing a race outside the US! I can't wait to see what it's like racing in a different country - I hear a lot of people don't speak English! - and, of course, experiencing a new place. If anyone has been to Montreal and has suggestions for places to see or where to dine, let me know!

Bonus: Milwaukee Running Festival 5k - Even though this is the Friday Five, I had to sneak this one in here. Last year was the inaugural Milwaukee Running Festival and the 5k race was awesome. I loved the course - it ran through Lakeshore Park which is one of my favorite places to run! This year I figure it might be my best opportunity for a 5k PR, depending on how training goes leading up to the race!

Tell me: What race(s) are you looking forward to the most this year?

- ST

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Taco Stuffed Shells 2.0

Lately, I've been on a Mexican/Southwest/Southern cooking streak so I decided it was time to revisit an old recipe for Taco Stuffed Shells. The original recipe is from the Plain Chicken blog and is super delish but very high in calories and fat. Okay for an indulgence for not so great for an everyday meal. 
In my recipe makeover, I decided to replace half the ground beef with black beans, corn and zucchini. I also omitted the cheese in the filling and cut the cheese topping in half. Sliced olives and chopped cilantro add so much flavor you won't even miss the extra cheese!

Pre-olive sprinkling!

Taco Stuffed Shells 2.0
Serves 6-8

24 jumbo pasta shells
1/2 pound lean ground beef (I use 93 percent lean)
1 zucchini, grated
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup corn
1 can diced green chiles
3-4 Tbsp taco seasoning (I use Penzey's Bold Taco Seasoning)
1/4 cup water
1.5 cups enchilada sauce
1 cup Mexican blend cheese, shredded (I use 2 percent)
Black olives, sliced, for serving
Cilantro, chopped, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot, bring water to a boil then add the jumbo pasta shells. While still slightly undercooked, drain the shells and set aside. You want the pasta slightly undercooked so the shells are easier to stuff and so they don't become mushy and overdone while baking.

In a large, deep-side skillet, brown and crumble ground beef. Add the grated zucchini and cook another 2-3 minutes or until the zucchini is softened. Mix in the black beans, corn and green chiles, then add the taco seasoning and water. Simmer over medium heat for another 2-3 minutes or until the mixture is thickened and warmed through. 

Add a thin layer of enchilada sauce to the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish. Stuff each pasta shell with the ground beef mixture and place in the casserole dish. Top shells with the remaining enchilada sauce and sprinkle with the shredded cheese. 

Cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and melted. Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes. When plating, top each serving with sliced olives and chopped cilantro. 

Tell me: What is your favorite taco topping?

- ST