Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dr.'s Orders

After 18 weeks of  training, I am no longer able to run the Twin Cities Marathon :( Over the last 6 weeks, roughly, I have developed a stress fracture in my left foot. Despite my proper tapering, it was still getting worse in the last few weeks, which prompted me to go see an orthopedic physician. The stress fracture is located in my navicular bone seen here:

While I'm very disappointed because I was very excited to run the race. However, I am also very proud of myself. I fully completed my training for my first marathon ever, and I really enjoyed it! I know that my legs could carry me through the race no problem (if my foot wasn't injured) and I'm very proud of my thorough training. I was running very well and consistently and could have predicted a good finish time, give or take 5 minutes. It is not a good idea to run, especially a race, if you have a stress fracture. It can get much worse and even cause permanent damage if it is not caught early enough and allowed to heal completely. For my foot to heal, I have to wear a walking boot/cast for a few weeks and there's no running allowed. I was very surprised to find no pain while walking with the boot on! I guess I'd really been doing a good job of walking and running through the pain these past few weeks.

I do hope to use this time in the next few weeks to start some strength training and weight lifting that I had planned on adding to my workouts after the marathon. I'll start by focusing on my upper body and core, and adding my legs into the workouts if my foot can handle the pressure.

Until then, this is my lifestyle.

I am still able to do day-to-day activities with the boot, but I need to focus on resting my foot as much as I can, and I try to take it easy in the evenings. It is hard for me to sit and relax when there are things to be done! Luckily, I have a wonderful husband who is very helpful and doesn't let me get up if I don't have to. He's even taking care of things in the house and making dinner for me, even though he is very busy studying for Step 2 of his medical school board exams!

We are still planning on going to Minneapolis this weekend for some planned events and festivities, and we'll definitely be cheering on some friends and the other runners running the race!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Girl & the Goat, take 2 - A random act of kindness

Some of you may remember the first time that Bryan and I had the opportunity to eat at Girl & the Goat, one of the most popular restaurants in Chicago right now. That was definitely a night to remember! Our second date at Girl & the Goat is also a night to remember. I guess we have some major luck when it comes to this place :)

After our first experience, I decided that I should put in reservations to go again in the future. So last March, I was able to make reservations for Monday, September 19th. That's how popular this place is!! When I ended up needing to take the GRE on Tuesday the 20th, I decided to keep the reservation, thinking that it would be a nice little relaxing date night and take the night off before the test. It's definitely a date with a story to tell!

Girl & the Goat has small plates to share that are of three categories: vegetable, fish and meat. We started with their famous bread that is flavored with butter to taste like soup! It was beer bread with beer cheese butter and garlic butter. We ordered two vegetable dishes: the chickpea fritters with eggplant tomatillo caponata and mozzarella, and the infamous sauteed green beans with fish sauce vinaigrette and cashews. For fish, we ordered the seared tuna with lamb sausage, grilled blueberries and pepitas. For our meat dish, we decided to stay away from the multiple tongue options, and ordered grilled pork ribs with tomatillo mushroom slaw and grilled scallion vinaigrette. They were brought out gradually and enjoyed thoroughly! All of the dishes were so incredibly delicious! I can't wait to get back there and try more of the food! I just can't say enough how good it is!!!

Alright, so you thought the food was the best part. Close. Towards the end of our dinner, our waiter informed us that the couple sitting next to us (actually, it was quite a close proximity because the restaurant was packed!) who had just left had paid for our meal! We were so flabbergasted, we didn't even know what to do! The waiter said he'd be back with dessert menus and left the table side. Bryan happened to see a glimpse of the gentleman out of the window and ran outside to thank him and exclaim our awe. The man, who I think would have liked to escape faster, just wished us both the best of luck. We were thinking back over the course of our meal - we did have a few conversations with the couple. We introduced ourselves and explained what we do. We eyed each others dishes when they came out, and when asked, we gave them a suggestion of a location for them to enjoy a drink later. But nothing out of the ordinary!!!

The waiter came back with dessert menus and stated that not only did the gentleman pay for our meal, but he left a sizable cushion and that we needed to order a couple desserts and have a couple more drinks each. We were just stunned! Not only that, but we were so full we didn't even think we could even share one dessert! We just couldn't handle it, and felt bad, so we told the waiter that we'd share one dessert and a desert wine. He came back with two desserts and two different drinks, "because they're good, and we should just enjoy it!" The menu changes so frequently, I can't even look up what we had. One was a chocolatey delight with brown sugar cake and the other was a warm blueberry delicious explosion of goodness. We probably sat there an hour longer than we should have just enjoying ourselves and the fun evening.

Bryan found out that the gentleman's name was Joel and we have him to thank for our wonderful date night. I don't think there is any better way to thank him than to pay it forward in the future... when we can hopefully afford it!

Grilled Shrimp

When Bryan's parents were visiting us a few weeks ago, we cooked a dinner for them of grilled shrimp and steak! It was so delicious that we ate those shrimpies up before I could snap a photo. We just decided that we'd have to make them again very soon! Luckily, shrimp went on sale at a nearby grocery store, so Bryan picked some up over the weekend. We marinated the shrimp in olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and cajun seasoning (more than you think you need!) for about 10-15 minutes while we got a salad ready for a quick and light dinner. We skewered the shrimp and grilled them for 2 minutes on each side, and they were cooked perfectly! They were so delicious!

This recipe is so easy, fast, healthy and satisfying! If you have the shrimp on hand, it's a quick meal that can be enjoyed at anytime, whether fancy or casual. You could also un-skewer the shrimp after grilling them and serve them as appetizers!

Beef Stroganoff

Last week I had the biggest craving for beef stroganoff. I swear, nothing was going to satisfy my craving, so I decided this was a good time to learn how to make it!! It actually isn't very hard, but it does require a few steps, and about an hour of simmer time. I'm sure it could be done in a crock pot, but I didn't have time the day I made it.

This dish was so good! We've been eating the leftovers for a few days and I just can't get enough of it! There is something about beef, mushrooms and a wine reduction sauce that screams comfort food! This dish is a wonderful fall dish that will please just about anyone!

I actually used sour cream and added cream cheese for the sauce, which was so decadent!

Beef Stroganoff
Adapted from All Recipes

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour


2 pounds beef chuck roast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 ounces butter
1 medium sized yellow onion
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed beef broth
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup cream cheese
1/3 cup white wine
salt and ground black pepper to taste


Remove any fat and gristle from the roast and cut into strips 1/2 inch thick by 2 inches long. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of both salt and pepper. 

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and brown the beef strips. Remove the beef strips and set on a plate. Add the onions to the beef drippings and cook slowly for 3 to 5 minutes, then add the beef strips back to the pan.

Stir the flour into the broth prior to adding to the pan. Pour in beef broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and stir in mustard. Cover and simmer for 1 hour or until the meat is tender. 

Five minutes before serving, stir in the mushrooms, sour cream, cream cheese and white wine. Heat briefly then salt and pepper to taste.   

Eggs Benedict

Who doesn't love eggs benedict? My husband almost always orders them at restaurants if we got out for brunch, which is nice for me because I always get a bite! We've been wanting to make them at home for quite a while, but have been scared of the egg poaching part. I'd been meaning to buy those little silicone cups that you can poach eggs in, but I kept forgetting. The other day we saw them at World Market and decided to give them a try. They worked pretty well, actually. Our one complaint was that their instructions said not to spray them with non-stick spray or butter them and that the egg will slide right out. Well, it didn't, so we had to use some careful scooping skills so as not to crack the yolk! On round two, we buttered them with a small amount of melted butter, and it worked much better. Regardless, the eggs benedict dish turned out very well! I used whole wheat sandwich thins because I don't really like english muffins (I know, weird, right?), topped with sauteed spinach and garlic, topped with turkey bacon, topped with the poached egg, topped with homemade hollandaise sauce! It was so incredibly delicious and perfect for a cozy fall day!

Homemade Hollandaise Sauce
Adapted from All Recipes


3 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 dash hot sauce
1/2 cup butter


In a blender, combine the egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice and hot sauce. Cover, and blend for about 5 seconds. 

Place the butter in a glass measuring cup. Heat butter in the microwave for about 1 minute, or until completely melted and hot. Set the blender on high speed, and pour the butter into the egg yolk mixture in a thin stream. It should thicken almost immediately. Keep the sauce warm until serving by placing the blender container in a pan of hot tap water.  

Crock Pot Chicken Chili

Once fall came into full swing and we got super busy, the crock pot came right out. And let me tell you, I was so excited! I love making crock pot creations, and this one was new to me. Can you believe that I'd never had chicken chili? I guess I've always been more of a red meat chili kind of girl. This dish turned out great and we had leftovers for a week! There are a few different ways of serving it, and when you're eating it often, it's nice to change it up a bit. Each time, I topped it with salsa, sour cream and shredded cheese and served it over rice, in a tortilla or just plain! Simple, cheap, and delicious!

Crock Pot Chicken Chili
Adapted from Skinny Taste

1 onion, chopped
1 16-oz can black beans
1 16-oz can kidney beans
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
10 oz package frozen corn kernels
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes w/chilies
1 packet taco seasoning
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
24 oz (3-4) boneless skinless chicken breasts
chili peppers, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)


Combine beans, onion, chili peppers, corn, tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder and taco seasoning in a slow cooker. Place chicken on top and cover. Cook on low for 9-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. Top with fresh cilantro if you wish. Also try it with low fat cheese and sour cream. 

Wendella Boat Tour

I took a little hiatus from blogging as my life got pretty hectic for a while! Marathon training really ramped up with 20 mile runs on the weekends and 8 or 10 mile runs during the week. Finally, I'm in taper mode, so my long runs are not as long. The marathon is a week from this Sunday and I'm getting excited! I'm taking an online nutrition class that is proving to be much more time consuming than I originally thought it would be. However, I am enjoying it a lot!! Another hiccup in the mix was that I had to study for and take the GRE. I started studying lightly in August, but intensified my studies in September. I'm very glad to have that over with!!!

Have no fear, I'll catch you up on everything! First up, we went on a Wendella Boat Tour with Bryan's parents when they were in town a couple weeks ago! We've lived in Chicago for 3 years now, but we had never taken the opportunity to go on one of these boat tours! I'm so glad we did! It was very informative, and we got to see some great views!! Our tour guide was well experienced, quite witty and pretty interesting. We chose to do the combined river and lake tour to get some great views of the Chicago skyline too!

Trump Tower

Marina City (aka Corn Cobs)

Willis (Sears) Tower

Navy Pier

Hancock Building/River North

Chicago Skyline

The boat tour was very fun and I highly recommend it!!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

I had a craving for quinoa last week and decided I’d try out a recipe that I saw recently for quinoa stuffed bell peppers! This recipe is easy to throw together, and I was able to get a lot of things done during the simmer phase and the bake phase. Yay for productive evenings! The best part is that I had lots of leftovers! I kept the recipe for the quinoa the same, but only used 2 bell peppers for Bryan and myself, with the intent of keeping leftover quinoa as filling for another night! You could also reserve some of the quinoa as filling in an enchilada or burrito!

This recipe turned out great! We added salsa on top of our peppers because it just seemed like it needed a bit of a twist and kick. Perfection!

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers
Adapted from Sweet Pea's Kitchen

Makes: 8 servings

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 8-oz. package mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced very thin
  • 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Pepper Jack cheese (we used cheddar because it was on hand)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 large red bell peppers, halved lengthwise, ribs removed

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook 5 minutes, or until soft. Add cumin and garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in mushrooms and drained tomatoes. Cook 5 minutes, or until most of liquid has evaporated.
Stir in quinoa and vegetable broth. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender. Remove from heat and stir in black beans, corn and 1 cup cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour reserved liquid from tomatoes in bottom of baking dish.
Fill each bell pepper half with heaping 3/4-cup quinoa mixture, and place in baking dish. Cover with foil, and bake 40 minutes. Uncover, and sprinkle each pepper with 1 tablespoon of remaining cheese. Bake 15 minutes more, or until tops of stuffed peppers are browned. Let stand 5 minutes. Transfer stuffed peppers to serving plates, and drizzle each with pan juices before serving.