Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Grilled Brats, Potatoes with Veggies and Black Bean Salad

I'm so happy to have my grill master back!!! I think we'll be grilling all week since neither of us grilled in the past two months. We have to make up for lost time! Sunday night, we though about doing a little surf and turf with grilled shrimp and steak, but it just seemed more like low key kind of night, so we decided to keep it simple with grilled brats and veggies!

We got a very cool gift from my in-laws called a grill wok. It's a very handy piece of equipment for the grill! It has a removable handle so that you can close the grill on the pan and let your food get the full smoky flavor. You can grill all sorts of things with it! We've stuck to potatoes and veggies so far, but I'm sure we could do shrimp and other small items that you might worry would fall into the grill. We've had great luck with our veggie combinations - they always seems to turn out well! Last night, we did potatoes with red peppers and onions seasoned with a little olive oil, garlic, Italian seasoning and salt and pepper.

Alongside the brats and grilled veggies, I decided to serve a bean salad because I wanted something light and flavorful, but full of protein and fiber to help refuel after my long training runs this weekend. This bean salad was out of this world delicious and I'm pretty sure it will be gone by tonight and I'll have to make a double batch to get through the week! I adapted the recipe for what I had on hand, and it was perfect in my opinion!

Black Bean Salad
Adapted from Food Network

Prep time: 10 minutes, plus cooling time

1 can black beans, drained
1 can cannelli beans, drained
1 (15 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup diced green onion
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
3 tablespoons honey
Season with salt, pepper and cumin to taste

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and cool until ready to serve (refrigerate for one hour or pop in the freezer for 15 minutes like I did :) ).

Homemade Toaster Strudel and Mini Egg Pies

I had a special breakfast planned for Bryan's first Saturday back at home. We love to make a big breakfast and have lazy Saturday mornings every now and then, and this was sure to be one of them!

We made some egg pies with our mini pie maker (one of the best gifts ever!) out of eggs, baby bella mushrooms, spinach, onion, a little cream and cheese. All we have to do is mix the ingredients, fill the pie doughs and pop them in the pie maker for about 8 minutes! They are so delicious!

To go with the savory egg pies, I decided I wanted something sweet. I recently saw a blog post with homemade toaster strudels and they sounded like a perfect side to the egg pies. I never grew up with toaster strudels in the house, but I remember enjoying them at friends houses the morning after sleepovers or for afternoon snacks. I remember they were so delicious and there was never enough toaster strudel to satisfy my appetite for them. That's where these homemade toaster strudels come in. They are bigger and better than the Pillsbury boxed version! All you do is take a pastry sheet, cut it into 4 strips, top it with some jam that was thickened with corn starch, fold over and crimp the edges together and pop in the oven for about 10 minutes, and voila, the best breakfast dessert one could ask for! The only downside is that we used homemade frosting that didn't get very thick, so you can't really see it in the photo. It ended up being more like a glaze, but went perfectly with the strudel.

Homemade Toaster Strudel
adapted from 1 Cup Awesome

Prep time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4 pastries

1/2 cup blueberry or strawberry jam (we used blueberry!)
1/2 tablespoon corn starch mixed with 1/2 tablespoon cold water
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 to 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a small saucepan, bring the jam and cornstarch mixture to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook stirring for 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

Lay 1 sheet of pastry on a board and cut it into 4 equal strips.

Put a heaping teaspoon of cooled jam in the middle of the upper part of the dough and fold over the bottom part. Seal the edges with a bit of water and crimp with a fork.

Arrange the pastries on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until golden about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the pastries from oven and allow them to cool completely.

In a small bowl, add the powdered sugar and whisk in, 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice at a time, to make a thick icing consistency. Drizzle the icing over the pastries. Allow the icing to set for about 15 minutes before eating.

To see a step by step guide, click here.

Sushi Wabi

I welcomed Bryan home last Friday, after he spent two months doing away clinical rotations for medical school. It's so nice to finally have him back! For his homecoming, I brought back the infamous frozen chocolate peanut butter pie! It was just as good as the first time!

The pie served a second purpose as well. On Saturday, we had plans with friends celebrating one of their birthdays, and knowing Bryan and I couldn't (and shouldn't) eat the whole thing by ourselves, we brought it along for dessert and it got rave reviews by all!

Saturday night's plans involved going to Sushi Wabi with the group. I had been craving sushi and was happy to finally satisfy the intense craving. I think Bryan and I chose a great variety in our rolls, and we were really happy with the choices. They were so incredibly delicious! We ordered the Godzilla: tempura shrimp, avocado, orange tobikko, cream cheese, masago, mayo, green onion, chili sauce, tempura crumbs, eel sauce, wasabi mayo and sesame, the Spider: soft-shell crab, cucumber, masago, mayo, pepper vinegar sauce and sesamie, and the Spicy Shrimp: boiled shrimp, green onion, chili oil, red tobikko, masago, mayo and sesame.

It was so fun to hang out with a great group of friends celebrating a birthday, a homecoming, taking boards, and beginning an exciting new school year!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon 2011

This morning I ran my second half marathon ever - the Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon! It was a very fun race and I was so happy to see my friends Jessica and Mae along the course! The weather was great too - partly cloudy skies and around 70 degrees! It even rained lightly on us during the race, which felt really good!

Unfortunately, this year, I'm not able to document the race with photos. Last year, Bryan rode his bicycle around the course and took photos of me and the course. But he's in Cleveland at the moment, so you're stuck with my review in words :)

The first mile was very fast and fun. The next 4 were hard for me. I ended up getting a massive stomach cramp (I never get those!!!), but was able to run through it. Before I knew it, I was at mile 7 and feeling much better! I tried to keep a decent pace through another major stomach cramp around mile 8 and sooner than I thought mile 10 was upon me! I pushed it hard to the end and felt good! My goal was to finish in under 2 hours, but unfortunately, I finished just over that. My full marathon training has been focusing on distance rather than speed, so I didn't feel like I could push myself to the max the entire race and keep the pace the whole time. I guess I was mentally running a marathon race and should have been focusing more on speed. I am very proud of myself for knocking about 20 minutes off of my time in this very race last year. That's major progress! Overall, the race was very fun and the course was awesome!

Now, I'm sitting on the couch drinking Gatorade and water with my compression socks on and massaging my quads with my running stick - and eating my favorite post-race snack... Lays sour cream and onion potato chips. And I don't feel bad about it at all!

Pre-Half Marathon Dinner: Pasta with Salsa di Noci

I love having a savory pasta dish the night before a race! I've actually cooked a very similar meal prior to another race (you can view the recipe I generally followed here), and I thought I'd do something similar with what I had on hand. I didn't have my usual Pappardelle Pasta that I love prior to races, but I did have some whole wheat bow tie pasta made with tomato and spinach. Salsa di noci basically means walnut sauce, and and to make it, I toasted the walnuts in butter and garlic until the garlic is lightly browned and the walnuts are heated thoroughly. Then I removed the contents from heat and added the mascarpone cheese until it melted. I mixed in the cooked noodles and topped with grated parmesan cheese and freshly cracked black pepper. It was awesome! Next time I think I might add some mushrooms! Served with a large salad full of veggies (not pictured because I ate it too fast!) it was a perfect pre-race dinner.