Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guest Post from running foodie =)

I'm sure many of you have heard people say they've never regretted a workout.  No?  Just me?  Oookay...  Well, that's how I felt tonight.  I left work with every intention of hitting the gym, but when I sat down on the train to head home, I lost all desire I had to exercise.  It was crisp and breezy in town but the wind was nowhere to be found when I got home.  I really didn't want to work out at the gym and I knew I had to do some sort of physical activity.  I decided since it was the perfect fall night I would go for a short run.

I've not run at night alone in my 'hood because I've always been worried about the lack of proper lighting and activity - Cars, people waiting in the bushes to abduct me.  I headed out with the intention of just going for a mile since I didn't really know what to expect.  I felt pretty safe since I'd left my iPod at home i safety first!  I was wearing pants that have reflectors on them and I was rockin' these kicks:

My special shoes

But, I really didn't know how many people would be out or what the lighting would be like.  I made it out onto a fairly main street and was happy to see a lot of cars and even other runners!  I really enjoyed running in the beautiful fall evening.  I ended up running two miles and I didn't regret my workout!  ;)

Here are some helpful safety tips for running at night (or early morning):
Be seen!  Wear reflective gear
Leave the iPod at home.  If you need music to run, wear only one ear bud...  This is assuming you wear ear buds!  :)
Bring your cell phone
Map out your route ahead of time so you know where you're going
If possible, tell a friend or family member you're going out for a run  Better yet, run with a buddy!  They can help you up when you trip on the sidewalk and go ass over teakettle go flying three feet ahead!  (true story!)

Do you like to run at night?
Do you stick to the main roads where there are plenty of people and lots of lighting?
Do you have any suggestions for running at night or in the early morning?

I was so hungry when I got home from work and I wanted something fast and delicious.  While stretching, I took a mental inventory of what was in my fridge and I had leftover roasted pork with harvest veggies.  I had already eaten this as leftovers a couple of times this week so I decided to turn the leftover veggies into a soup!  I also paired the soup with a grilled cheddar and apple sandwich.  It was a great meal with yummy fall flavors.  Below is the "recipe" for the soup.  I use quotes as I don't know the exact amounts and had to sort of fudge the numbers.

Roasted Harvest Vegetable Soup

Olive oil
About 3 cups of roasted veggies (butternut squash, fingerling potatoes and Brussels sprouts)
1/4 cup sweet potato puree
1/3 large onion, diced
3/4 of an apple, peeled and chopped
15 oz or so of chicken broth
1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 - 2 t ground ginger
Sprinkle of cinnamon
1 T maple syrup
salt & pepper

Preheat a medium saucepan and add enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan.  Add the onion and cook for about five minutes.  While the onion cooks, cut up the roasted veggies if needed.  Add the veggies, the apple and the puree to the onions and stir to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for another 3 - 5 minutes then add the broth.  Stir to combine.  Add ginger, cinnamon, syrup and if necessary, salt and pepper.

This is where it gets fun!  :)  If you have one, take an immersion blender and blend until smooth.  If you don't have one, a food processor or blender will work, but you may need to do it in batches.  If using a blender or processor, be sure to cover the opening with a towel to let out some of the steam while you're pureeing the soup.  Once the soup is completely smooth, add in yogurt to add a bit of creaminess.  Sour cream, half & half or marscapone would work well too.  Let simmer for a few minutes and taste for seasoning.  Add any additional spices if necessary.

Grilled Cheddar and Apple Sandwich

Olive oil
2 slices of Ezekiel bread
3 slices cheddar cheese (I used Sargento reduced fat)
1/4 gala apple, thinly sliced
1 - 2 t Dijon mustard

Heat the oven to 350 and heat a small skillet lightly coated with olive oil on medium heat.  Spread one side of both slices of bread with the mustard.  Once the skillet is warm add one slice of bread (mustard side up).  Top the bread with a slice of cheese and half the apples.  Add another slice of cheese then the rest of the apples.  Top with the last slice of cheese and the other slice of bread (mustard side down).  Drizzle a small amount of oil on top of the sandwich.  Cook on medium for a few minutes until brown and the cheese begins to melt.  Flip the sandwich and cook a bit longer.  Place the skillet in the oven to finish cooking, about five minutes.  I like to finish cooking the sandwich in the oven to ensure it gets heated through.  This paired well with the roasted veggie soup.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cabernet Cranberry Sauce

Autumn is in full swing and so is my baking and cooking!  Pumpkin and apples seem to get all the attention in the fall when it comes to baking, but there is one flavor I feel gets overlooked - Cranberry!  Cranberry is a crisp, tart flavor which I really enjoy.  It pairs very well with both pumpkin and apple too!  I found a bag of cranberries when I was cleaning out my freezer today and decided to make a batch of cranberry sauce.

As I was gathering the necessary ingredients for the cranberry sauce, I spotted an opened bottle of cabernet sauvignon on my counter.  I had made a bourbon cranberry sauce last year and I thought the cabernet would add a nice flavor - I was right!  Also, if you're a fan of whole berry cranberry sauce, then this is the one for you.

Cabernet Cranberry Sauce

1 12 oz bag of cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup sugar
Scant 1 cup water
A couple glugs of cabernet sauvignon (about 1/4 cup)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Zest from lemon (about 4 - 5 big pieces)

Add all the ingredients to a medium saucepan and cook on medium until the berries begin to pop and the liquid begins to boil.  Continue to boil for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Let cool completely before serving.  I left the zest in while the sauce cooled and I'll just remove the pieces as I serve it.  The sauce will thicken as it cools.  Please note, this is not a jellied cranberry sauce, so this will not set completely.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Hi there!  It's know it's been a while since I've posted.  I've been busy baking and cooking up a storm using the delicious flavors of fall as inspiration - Pumpkin snickerdoodles, cabernet cranberry sauce and roast pork loin with harvest veggies.  What's that link you ask?  Oh, it's my newest blog - running foodie.  I created a blog that incorporates my love for food and fitness.  Don't worry!  I'll still whip up indulgent decadent dishes like my chocolate peppermint cake and blue cheese stuffed buffalo turkey burgers but I am also trying out healthier versions of my favorite recipes.  I thought I would write about the healthier options on running foodie while keeping the more indulgent recipes here.

Now onto more important things - Cookies!

I remember when I was younger, my sister Emily and I decided to start a cookie company - Auntie Em's Cookies.  We specialized in snickerdoodles - Yummy little buttery bites with spicy hints cinnamon and sugar.  I think we were able to get a few orders, but if memory serves my correctly, my mom ended up baking the cookies and Emily and I still ended up keeping the proceeds!  I thought of our little adventure when I discovered this recipe on Annie's Eats.

These pumpkin delights are a nice twist on the standard snickerdoodle.  The pumpkin taste is not overpowering which is why I think I like them.  I am a big fan of pumpkin, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the pumpkin flavor so subtle.  This is an easy recipe to follow and many of you may already have all the ingredients on hand.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Yield: about 3-4 dozen cookies
For the cookies:
3¾ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
For the coating:
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
Dash of allspice
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Whisk to blend and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Blend in the pumpkin puree.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until incorporated.  With the mixer on low speed add in the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.  Cover and chill the dough for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.  Combine the sugar and spices for the coating in a bowl and mix to blend.  Scoop the dough (about 2½ tablespoons) and roll into a ball.  Coat the dough ball in the sugar-spice mixture and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining dough to fill the sheets, spacing the dough balls 2-3 inches apart.  Dip the bottom of a flat, heavy-bottomed drinking glass in water, then in the sugar-spice mixture, and use the bottom to flatten the dough balls slightly.  Recoat the bottom of the glass in the sugar-spice mixture as needed.
Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until just set and baked through.  Let cool on the baking sheets about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Repeat with the remaining dough.  Store in an airtight container.