Hits & Misses

An obscene amount of food has been coming out of my kitchen as of late. There’s been quite a few of “need to make this again” meals, some “ehh, it’s definitely missing something” items, and a “let’s not repeat this” breakfast.

Among the winners were the Banana Walnut Muffins

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Dark Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (same recipe as the muffins, with chocolate chips instead of walnuts)

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Grilled Pesto Chicken with Tomato & Mozz

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Potato Leek Soup

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Sweet & Fiery Pork Tenderloin with Mango Salsa

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Then there were the recipes that were just missing something: Baby Red Potato Salad and Creamy Cilantro Tomatillo Dressing.

And then there were the muffins that we didn’t even finish, Mixed Berry Whole Wheat Muffins.

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I had high hopes for them but they refused to separate themselves from the muffin cups. The batter was really thick and baked up incredibly dense. I ate three or four but ended up tossing them mid-week.

Up this week:


Gazpacho

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2 red bell peppers
1 large red onion
4 tomatoes (on the vine, plum, campari – your choice)
1 large cucumber, seeded
1 jalapeno, seeded
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup of olive oil
3 cups of tomato juice
1/2 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper

I’d recommend making this recipe with a larger food processor than I have. It’s definitely doable, but you’ll be able to finish in less batches with a 7 or 9-cup rather than the Mini-Prep.

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Roughly chop each of the vegetables separately, combining in a large bowl. Then add the garlic, olive oil, vinegar, tomato juice and S&P. If you like your food with a little extra kick, swap out the tomato juice for my secret ingredient:

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Yup, bloody mary mix. Same consistency as tomato juice but MUCH more flavor.

Mix all ingredients together, adding additional S&P if needed.

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Garnish with a dollop of fat free greek yogurt and a few slices of avocado.

Back on track

A couple months ago Brad and I decided that after our wounds healed from the Spartan Sprint we would allow P90X to kick our ass for, well, 90 days starting May 28th.

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Days of picking up Sonic on the way home or ordering a pizza for dinner are over. Our eating habits have been completely revamped. Saturday mornings are now spent meal planning and making a detailed grocery list.

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The combination of list-making and shopping only the perimeter of the store allows us to knock our grocery shopping out in less than 30 minutes, even on a busy Saturday morning.

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Sunday mornings are spent cooking for the week, which allows me to avoid picking up a single pot or pan on a weekday. (HUGE fan of this!)

I’ll get into meal planning in another post, but for now here’s what’s set to come out of my kitchen today:

It’s a bit of work for a Sunday morning, but you know what? If it grants me a cooking-free week, I will gladly slave away in the kitchen for a few hours on the last day of the weekend with the CMT Top 20 Countdown blaring in the background. Also, our one cheat meal for the week is on Sunday so after I’m done playing chef I am rewarded with a crisp glass of wine and someone else cooking for me.

Last week our cheat meal was at the Alamo Drafthouse while seeing Snow White & the Huntsmen. Delicious food was consumed, including fried pickles, fresh baked-to-order chocolate chip cookies with vanilla ice cream, and multiple adult beverages. Cheat meal, INDEED!

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Todays destination?

Brick House Tavern and Tap

And I have my heart set on some delicious carbs:

Brick House Pretzels

Brick House Tavern + Tap

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The Brick House Tavern + Tap is quickly turning into our favorite restaurant. It’s located right next to the local Mexican hot-spot Chuy’s, which means the parking lot is always SLAMMED. Luckily when Chuy’s is on a 35-45 minute wait, Brick House is still pretty empty. We’ve been a few times now around 6pm on Friday night and had no problem sitting down at a table right away.

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The wine list is a little sparse for my liking but their beer selection more than makes up for it:

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AND they have beer bongs. Yes, I’m not kidding.

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We contemplate trying a new appetizer every time (there’s so many!) …

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… but somehow always default back to their buttery soft pretzels with a trio of dipping sauces:

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Oh look at that, I still ordered a glass of wine anyway. Shocking.

Anyway, back to those phenomenal pretzels

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So. Damn. Tasty. I’m a sucker for a good soft pretzel.

This particular time I ordered the Steak + Eggs: filet mignon, two eggs any style (I went over-easy), crispy potatoes (sub french fries) & buttered texas toast

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I was thoroughly enjoying my dinner, until I took a bite of Brad’s Drunken Chops:

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Wow. Incredible. And HUGE!

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Once I sampled his dinner, I quickly lost interest in my own. The pork chops were perfectly cooked and the whiskey glaze went extremely well with them. Tip: ask for an extra side of glaze for dipping – you won’t regret it!

Unless I was in the mood for steak I probably wouldn’t order the Steak + Eggs again. There are SO many other options worth checking out.

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I’d also highly recommend the kobe, one of the best burgers I’ve ever had:

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and their Chicken + Waffles, simple yet delicious

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And for the Happy Hour lover, you can get your drink on early or late – with the added bonus of discounted apps!

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It’s definitely a restaurant worth checking out. Don’t be discouraged by the parking lot situation – Chuy’s takes most of the business. The food at Brick House is fantastic and the service always excellent.

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Eleven Things

11 random things about myself:

1. I don’t like lasagna. I like each of the ingredients individually, but together? No thank you.

2. I hated dogs my entire life, until I moved in with my boyfriend and fell in love with his. Now, ours 🙂

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3. I don’t like flowers.

4. I despised country music up until last year. Now? I add it to running playlists.

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5. I’m obsessed with pens. Sharpie Pens are my #1, closely followed by Pentel EnerGels and Pilot G-2s. And I keep these in my purse at all times. Yes, all of them. Nerd alert.

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6. I keep a bottle of Sriracha, chili infused olive oil, and container of crushed red pepper flakes in my desk at work.

7. I’m TERRIBLE at public speaking.

8. I once ate an entire extra, extra large pizza at Pete & Elda’s to get a free t-shirt.

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9. I don’t drink milk. If it would be acceptable to put water on my cereal, I would.

10. I’m obsessed with scarves.

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11. I think Valentine’s Day is the dumbest holiday ever. To quote my Facebook status from last year: Flowers? Candy? Waste of money. Valentines Day? Not a real holiday. Suckers. We don’t celebrate fake holidays in this house.

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Candice’s Questions

1. What is your biggest and/or hardest goal for 2012? 5:15 marathon. Um, that’s ONE HOUR off my previous marathon time. Lofty goal I’d say.

2. Vegetarian or Meat-eater? Baconlover. Carbivore. Okay fine, meat-eater. Although I did go vegetarian from 2009-2010.

3. Would you rather write something down with pen/paper or on a computer/cell phone, etc? I do both because I’m an organizational freak. One note goes in my planner, one in GCal or GTasks.

4. Dog or cat person? dog.

5. What is your favorite season and why? Fall. That’s when all the good races are 🙂 AND it’s not 100 degrees everyday here in Texas

6. If you could live anywhere other than the place you currently live, where would you live? San Diego

7. Do you prefer Facebook over Twitter or vice versa? Twitter over Facebook. 140 characters really forces people to keep it short & sweet. I like.

8. What is the longest run/race/workout you have ever done? 26.2 miles

9. If you could only read one book over and over, which one would it be? Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster

10. What is the biggest risk you have ever taken? I left my job and all of my friends in Florida behind to move to Austin for a BOY. I’m a silly girl…

11. What motivated you to start blogging? running. It began as a way for my best friend and I to document race recaps & review wines, and slowly grew from there.

Thanks for tagging me, Candice! I’m not going to follow the rules because generally I prefer to break them. Therefore, I won’t be tagging anyone. BUT! I do have a question for all of you…

What was the highlight of your weekend?

Scenes from the Weekend

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Friday

We whipped up breakfast tacos for dinner, as well as a full pot of coffee.

Best laid plans.

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The handle decided it despised the pot and removed itself from the situation. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen mid-wash or while it was empty. Noooo, it happened with a piping hot pot of coffee. Handle snapped off and the pot smashed against the countertop, sending shards of glass to the floor to swim in a pool of coffee.

So sad.

RIP Mr. Coffee, it was a glorious two years.

Saturday

The Christmas decorations finally made their way down from the attic. Once I got to unpacking them, it was clear the coffee pot wasn’t the only casualty of the weekend.

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For those keeping score: Austin Extreme Summer Heatwave 1, Melissa’s Entire Collection of Christmas Candles 0

Again, so sad.

An emergency trip to the mall was necessary.

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Brad cleaned up the old candle holders so I could add the tealights

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Crisis averted!

Saturday Night

I decided it would be a brilliant idea to peel forty (no exaggeration) cloves of garlic to make this recipe, a variation of Ina Garten’s. The dish was 100% without a doubt worth the effort.

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The chicken was served with creamy polenta, based off of this gem I found from the Pioneer Woman. Rather than goat cheese I stirred in a couple tablespoons of Philly Italian Cheese & Herb Cooking Crème.

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Heavenly.

Sunday

I had one more fire to put out.

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You see that? That’s what Target looks like before all of the crazies come out to play. Shop early in the morning and you will add years to your life!

Wanna take a guess what I went for?

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No, not a new coffeemaker…

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Just a new pot! Thank you Target (and Mom!), you just saved our Sunday.

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All is right in the world again.

What’s your favorite coffee (or tea) flavor?

Finishing Strong

Oh hey December, where did you come from? Seriously, this year FLEW by!

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With the end of 2011 looming on the horizon, I need to set some goals to finish out the year on a high note.

1. MOVE 5x per week. Run 3x, Spin/Elliptical 2x – NO EXCUSES!

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2. Attend Thursday night yoga. I used to take this class every week. It was the perfect way to unwind from the work week. Savasana clears my mind and relaxes me.

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3. Drink more H2O. In the summer I have no problem drinking 72 ounces of water per day. Once the temperature dips in the fall/winter, I struggle to stay hydrated. I’d much rather drink a hot cup of {dehydrating caffeine} coffee.

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4. Limit caffeine consumption. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to quit coffee but I certainly would like to decrease the amount I drink. I’m going to start swapping out my weekday morning cup of joe for a chamomile or green tea. Coffee will be reserved for a weekend treat.

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5. Get adequate sleep This goes hand in hand with number 3. The more coffee I consume, the worse off I am when it comes time to hit the hay. Tossing and turning for over an hour before falling asleep just isn’t working for me. Less caffeine = better sleep quality.

6. Eat breakfast regularly I easily lose track of time in the morning at work and before I know it lunch is rolling around. I need to make a habit of walking into work and eating right away. I’m going to set a recurring appointment in Outlook as a reminder.

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7. Take my vitamins. Need I say more?

8. Set aside more time for writing. I’ve been working on my novel quite a bit lately and would like to keep that up. In the month of November I hit publish on fifteen blog posts, and would like to hit at least that many in December as well.

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9. Surround myself with POSITIVE people.

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10. Enjoy the holiday season. This will be the first Christmas Brad and I actually spend together. Crazy, right? Unfortunately neither of us will be able to see our families this year, but at least we will have each other 🙂

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All photos via Pinterest

Have you set any goals for the month of December?

2011 Thundercloud Subs Turkey Trot Race Recap

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Yet another humid fall morning greeted us on Thanksgiving as we made our way downtown for the 21st Annual Thundercloud Subs Turkey Trot. Brad and I have ran this race together every year since I moved to Austin.

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Last year’s race was fairly unorganized so I was pleasantly surprised to see actual corrals this year. In a race with 19,000 runners and 5-mile timed/5-mile untimed/1-mile walk options, corrals are definitely necessary.

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The timed runners pay a slightly higher registration fee than untimed, so their corrals were first and are organized by pace. Directly behind them are the untimed runners, also organized by pace. The walkers line up behind the untimed runners, and start 15 minutes after the runners to eliminate congestion.

We had the blue bibs for timed runners

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so we made our way to the 10 to 11 min. mile corral up front on the S. First Street bridge.

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It wasn’t long before thousands of runners were lined up behind us

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Shortly after the singing of the National Anthem, runners took to the streets of Austin.

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Race organizers changed up the route this year, and decided it would be a fun idea to incorporate a few hills right in the beginning.

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We ran north on Lavaca, and then made a left onto 15th Street, also known as Enfield.

If you’ve been reading this blog for more than a few months, you may recognize Enfield from my Austin 1/2 Marathon race recap.

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This monstrosity came around mile 11-12 of the half marathon:

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While we didn’t have to run up that particular hill during the Turkey Trot, we did have to run up a different one to get to the top, and then try not to fall on our faces as we came flying down the other side. Immediately after we hit the bottom we went right back up another hill, climbing steadily for half a mile.

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I’ll be incorporating some serious hill training for Austin 2012 so it doesn’t kick my ass like 2011’s race.

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Just after mile 2, Brad grabbed my arm and told me to continue on without him. The hills had done a number on his quads/knees and didn’t want to hold me back from finishing fast. As he slowed to a walk, I slowed right down with him.

I wasn’t about to finish the race solo; this was our annual tradition! He committed to running the downhills and straightaways as long as we could walk the uphills. I happily agreed. Brad isn’t a runner so I was thankful he was even keeping up with me to begin with.

So we ran here:

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and walked here:

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and ran here:

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You get the idea.

The great thing about the Turkey Trot is it doesn’t start until 9:30am so there’s no need to wake up at the crack of dawn. The bad thing is, the sun is already up and out in full force by the time you cross the starting mat. It was now after 10am and you can see in this skyline photo that the humidity was still thick.

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We each ran with a water bottle filled with Nuun so we didn’t need to deal with the overcrowded water stops. Although, they appeared to be pretty efficient and well-stocked.

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The back half of the race was pretty much the same as last year’s, heading east on Cesar Chavez…

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…back over the South First Street bridge…

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…and finishing on Riverside Drive across from the Palmer Event Center.

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After crossing the finish line in 57:06, we grabbed a couple bottles of water and went back to the car. We stretched for 5-10 minutes in the parking lot before heading home to start cooking our Thanksgiving feast..

Another successful Turkey Trot in the books!

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Our post-run Thanksgiving Day meals:

First Course

Spinach Dip – Butternut Squash Soup with Smoked Sausage & Wild Rice –Baked Brie with Blackberry Jam

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Main Course

Oven Roasted Turkey – Mascarpone & Garlic Mashed Potatoes – Baked Sweet Potatoes – Bacon Jalapeno Cornbread Stuffing – Cranberry Sauce

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Dessert

Pumpkin Pie with Homemade Cinnamon Whipped Cream

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8 & Eggs

While this week was a cutback week, I still had 14 on the schedule. I’m racing a 10k on Sunday, so I figured the least I could do would be to log 14 total for the weekend.

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Carly and I headed out at 7am for our 8 mile run. We practically danced our way onto that trail, celebrating the crisp 60 degree temperature. 60!! It was a bit of a shock at first, but once we starting running we completely embraced it. It was so nice to finally run in something other than a sauna!

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The run was effortless, the miles ticked away quickly, and we were done before we knew it.

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Cheetahs run Texas

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Post-run we were ravenous, so we headed to the happiest place on earth for supplies.

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Eggs Benedict, here we come!

But not before we got a little caffeine in our system

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We were tempted by the new Salted Caramel Mocha coffee, and decided to indulge. So incredibly worth it – delicious.

Back home we got to work on our breakfast feast:

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And the finished product:

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Absolutely what we needed.

It was a great morning, and spent the remainder of the day resting up for our first race of the season. We both have our sights set on new PRs!