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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cheddar pecan crisps

Sorry for the lack of updates - took a week + break from running to repair the shin splints.  After my attempt at running every day I needed to step back and rethink the plan.  And I am glad I did because I am feeling much better. 

 BUT- I am planning on going for a run tomorrow in true Holiday fashion.   Thursday's Turkey Trot  five miler.  I run it every year and I am especially excited about this years tradition after giving the sneakers some time off.  Nothing like some time off to heal the body and the brain.

With Thanksgiving tomorrow and all of the holiday parties just around the corner,  I wanted to share a delicious treat that makes a great appetizer for that holiday party.   I had these at a dinner party last year and demanded the recipe the following day.

Simple unique and absolutely delicious:  cheddar cayenne pecan crisps.
Simple recipe, few ingredients...... cheesy nutty cracker with a kick.

They are best served warm out of the oven.  This recipe makes a bunch and while it looks like a lot, it will go quick.  I promise.  

Despite the bland picture, take my word for how good these are.  So much yum


  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 oz Cheddar, coarsely grated (2 cups)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.

    Beat together butter and Cheddar in a bowl with an electric mixer until smooth, then beat in remaining ingredients.
    Roll rounded teaspoons of dough into balls and arrange 3 inches apart on buttered baking sheets. Flatten each ball into a 1 1/2-inch disk and bake in batches in middle of oven until golden, 15 to 18 minutes.

    Wednesday, November 20, 2013

    Peanut Butter Thumbprint Cookies

    If I had to pick one recipe that gets me in the holiday spirit,
    It just may have to be this one. 

     Peanut Butter Thumb Print Cookies.  

    I know you are probably a little confused... you can make these treats all year round, 
    nothing in them really screams CHRISTMAS.   
    Well, for me they do. 

    I have fond memories of making these with my sister and my mom when I was little.  You know, back when your mother was your superhero, not the lady who calls you a hundred times a week to lecture you on all of the things you do wrong.   Sorry mom, love ya anyway...

    I remember sitting on the counter, rolling the dough in my tiny hands, rolling them in sugar, and placing them on the cookie sheet.  I also remember spending forever unwrapping hersey kisses, probably because half of them went directly into my pie hole mouth.  

    These cookies are really easy to make, and really easy (and fun) to do with kids.  
    The recipe is simple, kids love to roll out the dough into little balls, roll them around in the sugar, press the dough to make "thumbprints", and they only take 8-10 minutes to cook, perfect for impatient bakers like my self.  
    And of course, they are absolutely delicious?

    Did I also mention they make great gifts?  
    Peanut butter cookies and chocolates... what's not to love?

    Do you need more convincing?

    No, I didn't think so.  

    I have seen a few different variations, some you press your thumb into the dough ball and then cook, filling it with chocolate.   Others, (and the one I used)  requires you to bake the little dough balls and press the hershey kisses into them right when they come out of the oven.  Easy Peasy. 

    I followed Betty Crocker's Recipe below. 


    cup granulated sugar
    cup packed brown sugar
    cup creamy peanut butter
    cup butter or margarine, softened
    cup shortening
    1 1/2
    cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
    teaspoon baking soda
    teaspoon baking powder
    Granulated sugar
    dozen milk chocolate stars or candy-coated chocolate-covered peanuts


    • 1Heat oven to 375ºF. Stir together 1/2 cup granulated sugar, the brown sugar, peanut butter, butter, shortening and egg. Stir in flour, baking soda and baking powder.
    • 2Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in granulated sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
    • 3Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are light brown. Immediately press 1 chocolate star firmly in each cookie; cool on wire rack.
    1 Serving
    Calories from Fat
    55 ),
    Total Fat
    6 g
    (Saturated Fat
    2 g,
    5 mg
    70 mg
    Total Carbohydrate
    13 g
    (Dietary Fiber
    1 g
    2 g

    % Daily Value*:
    Vitamin A
    Vitamin C

    1 Starch; 1 Fat; 
    *Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

    Tuesday, November 19, 2013

    Mino running shoe mile tracker

    After my trial of "run every day last week", I thought I would share the results.

    Monday:  5
    Tuesday:  3
    Wednesday:  3
    Thursday:  2.5
    Friday:   3 
    Saturday:  Shin Splints
    Sunday:  Shin Splints

    Okay, so maybe running every day doesn't agree with me.  Maybe this plan doesn't fit all that well with these shins and my running "needs".  Maybe I need to rethink this a little bit.  I was a little worried that something like running every day might bring on a former injury such as shinsplints or tendinitis, but that is why I kept my mileage low all week.  

    Saturday I helped my sister move and I think all of those trips up and down her stairs only made the matters worse.  Saturday night I felt the familiar stabbing sensation in my shins and grabbed some ice and advil.  I took Saturday, Sunday, and Monday off of running in an attempt to not make matters worse. 

    Maybe my new goal will be to do something active every day, with a set number of running days a week.  I was thinking run 4-5 days a week but do something active every day, which is easy for me.  Walk the dog, ride the horses, something active every day that will give the shins a break and serve as cross training.

    But the biggest reason for my shin splints?  I purchased my shoes in April and I am quite positive I have reached their max.  I bought a pair of inserts that alert me when the life span of a shoe is over, problem is I have to wait to buy a new pair to use them.  It is called the Mino.

    If you are a runner, this will be the best $15 you ever spend.  

    mino web 1

    Instructions from their website  Click here to visit their site and buy yours
    1. Insert the mino™ into a NEW SHOE under the sock liner
    2. Run…keep running…the mino is tracking your shoe’s use
    3. Lift the sock liner once a month or so and check if the RED light is lit
    4. If the RED light is lit, time for new shoes

    It is that easy.  And that affordable.  Time for a new pair of kicks and to insert my Mino's! 

    Thursday, November 14, 2013

    Fish Taco Friday

    TGIF. Looking for something fun for dinner tonight ? Fish tacos is the answer.

    Any flaky white fish, tortillas, and whatever fixings you way. What could be easier?

    Oh and a cold margarita wouldn't hurt because hey, it's Friday!

    See you all Monday for a running recap I

    Lets go streaking

    Good morning from the (not so) lovely city of Bridgeport Connecticut. 35° today feels like a heat wave compared to yesterday's 26° with wind (felt like 19°) .

    I have been managing to sneak in a run every day this week (so far). Granted, it's only Thursday.

    Monday, Olive and I went out for a 5 mile run around Old Lyme with a few hills. Tuesday Olive and I went out for a really slow and cold 3 miles around flat old Saybrook. Wednesday I snuck in 3 flat miles with some speed work/ intervals before meeting my friends out for a drink and my family for dinner. I am feeling a hill workout today.

    I have been trying to really up my "running game" to try to get a head start for the holidays. Few extra miles now to make up with the few extra pies later. "Beat the bulge". Catchy, isn't it?

    This concept got me thinking. Why wait until January for the self loathing and extra pounds on the scale. Why not try to get in better shape now instead of raising my fork and the white flag?

    When I opened up the December 2013 issue of Runner's World, I was convinced. I read the article about "streaking", a holiday running streak (link below).

    "Stay fit and motivated during the busy (and calorie-filled) holiday season by pledging to run at least one mile every day, Thanksgiving through New Year's".

    Discipline and a routine throughout the chaotic holiday season. Sounds like something I could really use.

    I have never been a run everyday sort of person- so I have been using this week as a test drive, running every day and see how these old legs respond. So far so good- a little sore but not crippled. Always a good sign.

    So my question now is: anyone else want to beat the bulge? Or do some holiday "streaking"? Strength (and motivation) in numbers- who is with me? Let me know if you want to commit to the holiday streak with me.

    It's going to be fun (most of the time....)

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

    Baked butternut squash fries

    Well, it is officially winter here in Connecticut.  Temperature in the 20s and our first snow yesterday.  - Tuesday evening, I braved the cold (despite my brain trying to convince me to stay inside... maybe even pour a hot toddy) and went out for an easy flat three mile run.  I even pulled out the yoga mat and did some lunges squats sit ups stretches and other mat work. Still chilled from a long day outside and a windy run.

    After that all I wanted was something hot and homey.  And then I passed a burger and fry place and fought with myself to keep driving. 

    I love french fries.   
    They are my favorite food. Well.. potato anything really.  But especially french fries.  I am always looking for new ways to "re invent" the french fry into a healthier version.  I bake them, I use sweet potatoes, I roast carrots.   Today, I found a fry imposter.... a delicious veggie in disguise.

    Butternut Squash

    I am always looking for a vegetable that can "stand up" to the potato as far as texture and crispyness goes.  Zucchini fries failed me in this category.  I took a butternut squash, de seeded and peeled it, and cut it into big thick strips.

    I decided it would be a good idea to make them LOOK like french fries.  Low and behold the crinkle cutter.  This also gave the fries lots of edges to crisp up in the oven. 

    After I had cut all of my fries, I tossed them into a bowl with salt, pepper, and a few random seasonings I found in the cupboard.   Spray your foil with non stick cooking spray.  

    Cook these beauts at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, flip, and cook for twenty minutes longer.
    Serve with ketchup and enjoy! 

    They taste just like sweet potato fries.
    A delicious way to fool the mind and eat more squash without putting it in a soup :) 

    PER SERVING (entire recipe): 204 calories, <1g fat, 258mg sodium, 
    53g carbs, 9g fiber, 10g sugars, 4g protein -- PointsPlus® value 0*

    Monday, November 11, 2013

    Martha's Basic Pancake Recipe

    Pancakes are for (breakfast) lovers.  
    And weekends. On this snowy November Tuesday morning i am dreaming of fluffy pancakes a big breakfast and my cozy bed.  

    Sunday mornings I crave big homey breakfasts.  French toast, eggs benedict, home fries, and pancakes.  This weekend I wanted to make some traditional delectable pancakes.  No bisquick, no mix, just a simple recipe from Mrs. Stewart.  (Fairly sure she is still married and yes I looked it up).  

    You already have all of the ingredients, I am sure of it. 
    And the recipe is easy.
    Easy as Sunday morning. 

    Hardest part is deciding what toppings to use.  
    Nothing says Sunday like banana pancakes in my books
    Half a banana, chocolate chips, and walnuts.
    Chunky Monkey of the pancake world.
    If you don't know what chunky monkey is we can't be friends.
    It's just the best Ben and Jerry's ice cream of all time. 

    Directions are simple
    Combine wet ingredients in one bowl
    Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl
    Mix wet and dry together and do not over mix
    Add a little bit of butter to a pan over medium heat
    Pour batter, add toppings, and flip once the batter begins to bubble

    Pretty little hot cakes.
    This recipe made 5 big pancakes and reheated well for breakfast the next day.  
    Pair with a hot cup of joe (Dunkin Donuts hazelnut) and you are ready to start your Sunday.  

    A kick ass week

    It is Monday and I am patting myself on the back for a kick ass week in the running department.

    Saturday:  8 Miles with Jill and Olive  9:58 average
    Tuesday:  5 miles with Jill and Olive   ? average
    Thursday: 3 miles in the rain with Olive 8:30 average
    Saturday:  8.25 miles (4 with Olive)  9:35 average

    I stuck to all of my scheduled runs, rain or shine, cold or warm, and increased my time throughout the week.  Saturdays 8 mile was much faster than the last 8 miler, and much hillier.  Feels so good to see some change.

    Saturday's 8.25 felt great.  And to be honest, I meant to make it a 10 mile run, but ran out of time before my riding lesson. 

     First world problems..... 

      Before my run I made my favorite pre-long-run breakfast.

    An english muffin with peanut butter, nutella and bananas with a yogurt on the side. 
     I also made an All Pro Science Protein shake to enjoy after my run.  

    Breakfast and dessert all in one... no complaints here. 

    Oh and a coffee.  Pre long run early morning coffees are essential.  
    You runners all know what I am talking about...

    Once breakfast was done, I had to figure out what to wear.  It was in the 30s, windy, and really cold at 9 when I went out for my run.  I decided on Moving Comfort capris, long sleeve tech shirt, some obnoxiously large non running sunglasses, and decided it was time to break out my LuLu Lemon reflective winter running coat (best gift I have ever received  - the prices are a little steep but once you run in some quality gear you realize it is worth every penny- especially if someone else bought it).  I also threw on my camel back with water and two Nuun Tabs, turned on my Garmin, and put my audio book on- Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosney (great book about the Haulocaust and roundup in France).  

    Olive and I set out for an 8 mile loop around town.  Most of the route had sidewalks or atleast a large side of the road area to run on.  Olive had her reflective vest on and I had my reflective coat on and we always run against traffic.  Safety first!

    I planned my route so I could drop Olive off at Thatcher's house around mile 4.5 and did the last four alone. 
    It was also nice to have a bathroom stop and a few kleenex.  Please note my poor torn pocket- Last year Olive decided to eat through my pocket to get the Gu in there.  Thanks Olive....

    At around mile six I was feeling a little sluggish so I pulled out one of my stridebox goodies:  Stinger Chocolate waffle.  It was pretty tasty ( a little dry so I was glad I had water ) but it really gave me an energy boost.  I cranked through the last two miles no problem.  

    I felt good, and could have done the whole ten, but I had an 11 o clock riding lesson I could not be late for.  8.25 will just have to do for now.  9:35 pace and the last few miles were super hilly on Sill Lane, I will take it. 


    After a wonderful riding lesson with Bradley, I went home for a quick lunch.  
    Turkey sandwich with a side of triscuits and hummus.  And lots of water.  

    After my run I took a shower, and headed to the spa.  I  had an old gift card to use up, and an achey body from work, so I made a reservation for a 5:30 massage where I lost my professional massage virginity.  50 minute sweedish massage and it was heaven.  I really wished she dug into my back a little harder.  She agreed my muscles were really tight and non responsive (?)  but I will admit I would have been content with a 50 minute foot rub for these tired feet- indeed my favorite part.

      Next time I go back I am definitely going to go for the deep tissue massage.  

    Did everyone meet their running goals last week?
    And anyone ever had a deep tissue massage?
      I heard it can be quite painful?

    Friday, November 8, 2013

    No Excuses - 3 wet and cold miles.

    I love to make excuses.

    And boy am I good at it. 

    It's hot, it's cold, I'm hungry, I'm tired my foot hurts, I had a long day.   On and on and on.  Today it was  "its wet and cold and raining-  FREE PASS".  

    I was going to let a little (well, a lot) of precipitation throw off my schedule and excuse me from running. As soon as I had committed (committed to bailing on my run) I saw a pack of runners go by.  My high school track coach and former team mate included in this pack of dedicated runners . .  They were out there in the pouring rain, in a little group, pounding pavement.  No excuses. They looked cold and wet- but no excuses they were out there.   So started the motivation train. 

    I saw this group in the rain and laced up my sneakers.  I went out for my run hoping I would have the same effect on someone else, seeing me out there with my dog, in the rain, in the cold, in the wind, logging miles. 


    First mile I set off quick, second mile I recovered, and third mile I found some hills for an overall average of 8:31 pace.  Not too shabby.  Getting out there is never easy, but it felt good to jump into a hot shower and make some dinner.
    Motivation deserves a celebration.
    It's going to be a pizza night baby.

    They say you aren't a dog, and to not reward yourself with food.  But I love my dog, and we think alike.  Food is very motivating for Olive and Katie's alike.  A runners high and a mushroom bacon spinach onion pizza is worth some soggy newtons.  Any day of the week. 

    Stop making excuses and get out there and run-  You will thank me later. 

    Thursday, November 7, 2013

    Safety First! 5 miles and 6 safety tips


    As if the cold doesn't suck enough, the solar system is giving us the middle finger with shorter days and a whole lot of dark.    The clocks going back an hour has a few perks... that extra hour of sleep Saturday night and who doesn't love waking up to SUNSHINE.   There is something so depressing about getting up before the sun.    However as runners with busy schedules we pay dearly, it is now dark at 4:45.  That means a lot of us dedicated runners are going to spend a lot of time in the dark.

    Time to start thinking about night running and being safe.

    Tuesday, I met Jill at her house at 5:30 for a schedule five miles around Old Saybrook.  We were chatting about night running and how important it is to make smarter and better choices when it comes to running after hours.  Jill and I chose to run in Old Saybrook for its bounty of sidewalks and street lights. I also brought over some reflective vests that I grabbed from the work supply.  Jill grabbed a light and we headed out with the dog for five miles on the sidewalk of Saybrook. 

    While I was running, I thought about night running,
    and how now would be a great time to share some safety tips for running in the dark. 

    So..... It's time for the Safety Six-

    * Six Tips * for night running and being a Safer Runner
    1.  Always Always Always wear a reflective vest.   Stores and running gear companies are making it really easy these days and even make a lot of "built in reflective" clothes- reflective stripes on pants, sneakers, and even jackets.  The more the merrier and I always try to encourage the full on reflective vest over whatever you are wearing.  During my first Ragnar safety briefing, they showed us two posters.  One of a runner at night with no reflective gear, and one with. 
    Above is a poster of a runner at 150' with no gear.

     Here is the poster of a runner at 150' with reflective gear and what looks like a head lamp or tail light.  Which runner would you rather be?

    The good news, is not all reflective vests are made for 300 pound construction workers.  
    Or look like dresses.    Just the freebies I found.  If all else fails Jill can use this one as a dress for next years sexy constructor worker costume... You're welcome.

    They come in all shapes (and sizes) so don't worry if you can't pull the cheap version off as well as Jill.   Free is for me so I chose the above version offered by my father from his work.  The version below is a little less invasive and a little more stylish. You can find them online, in walmart, or in your local running store (make this your first choice).
    2.  Lights-  Head lamps, tail lights, go nuts!  I have both because they were both required for night runners during the Ragnar Relay.  Head lamps let cars know I am there and allow me to see where I am going and therefore not fall on my face on the uneven sidewalk.  The tail light on the blinking mode is perfect for the cars I can't see behind me.  It's the cars I can't see that make me nervous.  I have replayed the same image over and over again during my runs... me dramatically flinging myself over the guard rail because I am paying attention and an oncoming car isn't.
    Luckily, this is still fantasy and I hope it never becomes a reality.  Not sure my instincts and reflexes are as sharp as they used to be. 
    I forgot my head lamp but Jill had a solution and whipped up this great tool during Tuesday's 5 miler. 
    It was a light, and a whistle, and a stabby defense stick all in one.

     I am going to order a few of these.
    Stocking stuffers anyone? 
    3.  Bring a friend., or two!  It is always safer to go out at night with a friend.  I brought two.   It is also easier to see a mob of runners in reflective gear than just one.   I went out with Jill and Olive.  Olive the four legged runner was wearing her neon vest and reflective harness so she could also be very visible to traffic.   And being a young female out in dark poorly lit neighborhoods after dark, there is something really reassuring about having a dog with you. 
    4.  Change up your routes-  Never get in a routine.  This goes for day time running as well.  There are a lot of weirdos out there.  Aint that the truth.  I make sure to switch up my routine, times, and routes constantly.  You never want someone to know your running schedule, where you will be, and when, and alone.  Especially at night.  Use different routes, and at different times of the day/night.
    5.  If there is a sidewalk- use it.  So many runners hate the sidewalks.  I understand there are lots of un even surfaces, and trip hazards, but you have to pick your battles.  I will take a crack in the sidewalk over a distracted driver in the road any day.
    Be who ever you want by daylight, but at night-  Make the switch.
    6.   Carry identification with you-  Road ID bracelets make this easy.  It is on my Christmas list this year and every walker biker and runner should wear one.  If something ever happened to you, it is really important for medics to know who you are, not just a Jane Doe.  My father had a kidney transplant and wears a special necklace to let paramedics know of his special condition.  In case he was ever in an accident and couldn't speak,  the necklace speaks for him.  There are many drugs he cannot take due to his condition and anti rejection medicines.  If something ever happened to you on a run, it is vital that the parametics can ID you incase you are not conscious. 
    For under 20 bucks-  we can all afford to be a little safer. 
    And look- reflective!
    I hope you found this post useful, and I hope even more that you all take the extra steps to be a safe(er) runner.   A few extra steps makes sure you get home safe to snuggle your pup and enjoy your runners high.