Sunday, March 29, 2015

What's Cookin'

This week it was all Indian fare in the kitchen!  I didn't even do it on purpose.  Since I'll be out of town most of the week for a conference, I figured I didn't really need to make 2 main dishes, so I decided I would just make the second of the three tikka masala recipes I found.  I made the first one here.  I took notice, after I made the decision to cook just that dish today, that I only had 1 serving of my favorite Indian rice left in the freezer, so of course I needed to make another batch of that!  THEN...as if this wasn't enough, I went out to eat Indian food last night with my awesome friend Neetu (who is from northern India and knows so much about my favorite foods!!!).  The restaurant we were going to go to appears to be permanently closed, so we had to do a Google search and see what we could find.  We found Madras Pavillion just a couple miles away and went there.  Neetu felt bad because as soon as we got there, it was obvious that this was a strictly vegetarian only fare restaurant.  Neetu is a vegetarian by birth and religion, but she honestly didn't know this was a vegetarian only location.  She offered to find another restaurant that had meat, but I insisted that it wasn't a problem and I'm sure there was something I would like, just without meat.  I have said before that some of my favorite dishes just happen to be vegetarian and/or vegan.  She went over the menu with me and we finally decided that I would get the North Indian Thali.  It's basically a round tray about the size of a large pizza with many small dishes set on it.  Each little dish has basically a sample of a different food.  There were potatoes, channa (chickpeas), okra, eggplant, biryani, vegetable yogurt, a couple other ones I don't remember, and then there was the gajar halwa.  OMG.  This dish is basically a dessert.  It's shredded sweet carrots.  So, I of course, had to look up a recipe and try and make it myself.  And that's what I did.

BEEF TIKKA MASALA #2

Ingredients:
• 2 lbs stew beef, cubed
• 5 cloves garlic, minced
• 4 ts grated ginger root
• 4 tsp ground turmeric
• 2 tsp garam masala
• 2 tsp ground coriander
• 2 tsp ground cumin
• 1.5 cups non-fat plain yogurt
•  1 tbsp sea salt
• 3 tbsp ghee
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1/4 cup no salt added tomato paste
• 2 tsp ground cardamom
• 2 14oz cans no salt added diced tomatoes
• 2 cups heavy whipping cream

Directions:
• combine garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, and cumin in a small bowl.  whisk yogurt, salt and half of spice mixture in a medium bowl.  add beef and turn to coat. 
• heat ghee in a large non-stick pan over medium heat.  add onion, tomato paste, and cardamom and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste has darkened and onion is soft, about 5 minutes.  add remaining half of spice mixture and cook, stirring often, until bottom of pan beings to brown, about 4 minutes.
• add tomatoes with juices.  bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, until sauce thickens, 8-10 minutes.
• add cream.  simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 30-40 minutes.
• meanwhile, preheat broiler.  line a baking sheet with foil.  spread the beef coated with the yogurt-spice mixture evenly on sheet.  broil about 8 minutes.
• add beef to sauce, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beef is cooked through, 8-10 minutes.  serve with my Indian rice.

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GAJAR HALWA (INDIAN SWEET CARROTS)

Ingredients:
• 2.5 cups grated carrots
• 2.5 cups unsweetened plain almond milk
• 1/3 cup fat free sweetened condensed milk
• 4 tbsp truvia
• 3 tsp ground cardamom
• 3 tbs chopped unsalted cashews
• 1/8 cup chopped pistachios
• 1/4 cup raisins
• 2.5 tbsp ghee

Directions:
• wash, peel and grate the carrots.
• mix the almond milk and grated carrot together in a pan and simmer, stirring occasionally.
• after 15-20 minutes, add cardamom and stir. 
• when the mixture has started to thicken, add truvia and ghee, stirring occasionally.
• when the mixture has almost dried, add the condensed milk, raisins and nuts.  continue stirring and cook for 2-3 minutes.

**traditionally served hot or warm.
**stays good in the refrigerator for 3-4 days (but you know me, I'll be freezing my extra portions).

Friday, March 27, 2015

Alamo Half Marathon Race Report


As I usually do, I’m going to start with the expo day.  For starters, I got a late start because I signed up for an overtime shift on the night shift Friday night, so I was asleep until noon on Saturday.  I got up, packed everything per the list I had typed up while working overtime and then hit the road.  I got to San Antonio right before 3pm.  My navigation system, because I had it set on “shortest distance” took me on a nice tour of western San Antonio.  I had to wait until 3 to check into my hotel (nope, not a fancy hotel, a semi-ghetto Motel 6 trying to be fancy or whatever).  After I got checked in and dropped my stuff off in the room I made my way to the expo site.  I park and walk into La Villita where the expo was being held only to find not an expo.  What?  It says all over their website and in the participant emails they sent out that packet pickup was at the expo and not that it was JUST a packet pickup.  To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.  And to be even weirder about their packet pickup, it was on the second floor of a building and I saw no elevator so how were the handicapped runners/walkers and wheelchair participants supposed to pick up their packets???  Bad form in my opinion.

That said, packet pickup was super easy.  They had a list posted outside the door with everyone’s names and bib numbers.  You look up your bib number, write it on your waiver, sign your waiver and then take it inside and exchange it for your bib.  Then you go to the next table and get your shirt.  I like the shirt.  Some people were disappointed because the related 5K and 10K Donut Dashes had super cute shirts with donuts on them.  The half shirt had a sketch like picture of the front of the Alamo and I thought it was very nice.
Then, the next table over had mini duffels with the half marathon logo on them and they also gave you one of those oval stickers that are so popular right now that had an outline of the Alamo with “13.1” on it. 
I love the bag.  This is a nice change from all the drawstring backpacks that most races seem to be favoring handing out these days.  Don’t get me wrong, I like those bags, they do come in quite handy, but I’ve got like 6 of them now…I really don’t need any more.  Haha.

I got back to my car and texted my new friend Jennifer.  She’s followed my Facebook fan page for this blog for a while and we’ve talked a lot and had planned on meeting up while I was in San Antonio for this race because she lives in the area.  We met up in the Pearl district.  The Pearl Brewery was once in this area and, while the building is still there, it closed down 15-something years ago.
There is a good selection of restaurants in this area, which is why she had me meet her there.  We started with the Italian restaurant but it was only 5 and they didn’t open until 6.  Then we went to the steakhouse and their prices were super pricey so we went to the somewhat fancy Mexican place right across the walkway and they were also pricey.  Then we went to Cure, they specialize in pork dishes.  They weren’t pricey, but the food looked a little “different” and not so much like something you should be trying for the first time the night before a half marathon, and the portions were most likely small and wouldn’t fill us up.  So, off to the BBQ place we went, only to be turned away because they were “already sold out” even though their dining area wasn’t even half full.  Whatever.  Burgers it was.  We went to Sam’s Burger Joint and the burger was amazing.  So was the vanilla milk shake.  And the fries.  And the onion rings.  I was stuffed.
A couple of Jennifer’s friends ended showing up in Sam’s while we were there so we moved to a bigger table and started talking like all 4 of us had been friends for a while.  It was really nice.  We talked and talked for about an hour and then decided to go to Big Hops, a craft beer bar.  A lot of the people were really fancy with their beer drinking (I’m not saying this in a bad way…it was seriously impressive how much they all knew about beer).  Jennifer and I went up to order her a beer and see if they’d give me a taster or two, which they did.  Really, they just gave me one taster and that was all I needed to know that I really liked the Karbach Weekend Warrior.

Around 8:30pm I had to run to the bathroom.  Oh no.  No bueno.  I was having some serious GI issues.  Thankfully, though, we were already about to call it a night since Jennifer and I had to be up early for the race in the morning.  I drove back to my hotel, so ready to go to bed and sleep.  I was so tired.  I got back to the hotel and laid out my “flat me” and took the requisite picture to post to Instagram.

I laid down and went to sleep…only to wake up like 45 minutes later to run to the bathroom again.   Great.  That went on ALL. NIGHT. LONG.  The night took forever and I slept so poorly.  But, I got up and got ready and headed to the start area, where I dozed in my car until it was time to head to the start line and take my selfie with the Alamo.
After taking my selfie with the Alamo, I went in search of my friend Jennifer.  I had hoped to find her when I was in front of the Alamo so we could get a pic of us together with the Alamo in the background, but, alas I found her toward the back of the crowd at the start line.  We wished each other luck and then the cannon went off, we all sung the national anthem (it’s already an emotional song for me…even more so when I’m singing it as I couldn’t keep from tearing up so I just ended up mouthing the words instead) and then we were off!  About 1/3 mile in, I noticed that my Polar wasn’t doing the finish time estimation and discovered that it hadn’t acquired satellite signal prior to the start.  Great.  I tried and tried to get it to acquire signal for the next half mile, but finally gave up and just put it back in regular activity tracker mode. 

The very first part of this course is a loop that causes you to recross the start line.  They had a guy standing there directing you to recross it and he was saying over and over again “you are going the right way.”  Haha.  That’s good, because I know I was confused about what was going on.  The only time I’ve recrossed a start line, they didn’t direct us to actually run over the timing mats again, they diverted us around the side of the timing mat area so as to not mess up our tracking.  This leads me to believe that once the last walker/runner crossed the timing pad for the first time that they shut the pad off.

I was feeling pretty good for being kind of tired due to my poor sleep the night before.  My mile times were on the slower-for-me side for a half marathon distance.  I was running around 11 min/mi.  Just a few miles in and I realized that I needed to make a pit stop.  Uh oh.  All the port-a-potties had huge lines, so I kept passing them up.  I finally HAD to stop at the relay point (basically the halfway mark).  There was 2 port-a-potties and only one guy in line.  And guess what?  I KNEW HIM!!!  He was an Austin Police officer.  I walked up behind him and noticed the flag tattoos on the backs of his calves and said to myself “hey, I know those tattoos” and then he turned around and it was exactly who I thought it was!  He was running with a friend.  After using the port-a-potty, I continued on my way.

The turnaround to start heading back toward the finish line was on the University of the Incarnate Word campus.  Very nice attractive buildings and a tidy campus.  There was a tower the courtyard we ran through that had stained glass at the top.  Very pretty.  Too bad there weren’t any students out supporting the runners as we ran through their campus like when I ran the San Antonio RNR back in 2013 and we ran through Trinity College’s campus.  But, I don’t think UIW has dorms, so that might be why there were no students out supporting us.

There was one spot, coming and going, where we had to cross a street under construction and it was just the packed clay or whatever goes under the asphalt and it had rained the 2 days before the race so it was super muddy.  Thankfully, the race people put down tracts of cheap carpeting for us to run across so it was just a little soft and you had to watch your foot placement so as not to twist an ankle, but at least we didn’t ruin our nice running shoes!

After we crossed the muddy street on the way back toward the finish area, I realized I needed another port-a-potty.  Thankfully, I remembered that there was one about a half mile before we crossed muddy street on the way out so I didn’t have to wait long to stop.  There was NO LINE!  YAY!  Then I found out why…no TP.  Ugh.  Thankfully, there was a TP wrapper in one that wasn’t too…well…rough.  There was no way I was going to make it to the next port-a-potty which probably wasn’t until the finish line.

The last 3 miles were really rough for me.  I felt miserable.  I have never wanted a run or a race to end more than I wanted this one to end.  It was nothing wrong with the race or the route/course.  That was all great.  Well, the water tasted horrible, but other than that, it was all great and I really do want to do this race again.  I tried to put on a happy face for the cameras when I saw them.  But as soon as I was out of camera sight, I know my face went back to straight up miserable.

The medal is great!  Most medals are silvertoned or maybe even goldtoned, but this one is coppertoned!!!  I love copper!
I was super excited when I found out that they were setting all race photos up for free download!  I love races that do free downloadable race photos!!!











Monday, March 23, 2015

What's Cookin'

This week, I was out of town for most of the weekend, but had today (Monday) off from work because my parents were in town.  They did have to move on to my uncle's house a couple hours drive north of me for dinner plans.  This gave me time to do some dishes and some cooking.  I decided to do 2 main dishes and a snack this week.

Let's start with the snack.

BROCCOLI CHEDDAR QUINOA BITES

Ingredients:
• 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
• 1.5 cups water (or vegetable broth or chicken broth...note, the nutrition info I am providing is for low sodium chicken broth)
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten
• 2 cups finely diced broccoli florets
• 1 cup finely diced yellow onion
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1.5 cup 2% shredded cheddar cheese
• 1/2 tsp paprika
• crushed red pepper to taste (optional)

Directions:
• in a medium sauce pan, combine quinoa and water (or broth) and cook to package directions.  let cool.
• in a large bowl, combine cooled quinoa, eggs, broccoli, onion, garlic, cheese and paprika.
• preheat oven to 350°.  spray muffin tins with cooking spray (or use silicon muffin cups)
• fill muffin cups of quinoa mixture.  bake for 15-20 minutes, or until edges turn golden brown.  remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes and then gently remove from muffin cups to cool completely.  (you will notice in the picture I did not cook this in muffin cups...because I only own 8 silicon muffin cups right now and this recipe would have needed a lot more and I didn't feel like doing 3 batches so I just baked the whole thing in an oven safe dish and will just cut into my 8 servings)
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BAKED CHICKEN ENCHILADAS

Ingredients:
• 3 cups chopped chicken
• 2 cups shredded 2% Mexican blend cheese
• 1/2 cup light sour cream
• 1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles
• 8 whole wheat tortillas (as I have posted in previous recipes, I use Santa Fe Tortilla Company whole wheat tortillas)

For sauce:
• 1 can green chile enchilada sauce
• 1 (8 oz) container light sour cream

Directions:
• stir together the first 4 ingredients and spoon evenly into each tortillas and roll up.
• arrange in a 9x13 inch baking dish.
• bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
• stir together the enchilada sauce and sour cream for the sauce and pour over the enchiladas in the baking dish.

Optional Toppings: diced tomatoes, chopped avocado, chopped green onions, sliced ripe olives, chopped cilantro.  (none of these are included in the nutritional info I am providing)

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CROCKPOT TURKEY CHILI

Ingredients:
• 1.25 lb ground 93% lean turkey
• 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1 yellow onion, minced
• 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1.5 cups frozen corn kernels
• 1 can Rotel no salt added diced tomatoes & green chiles
• 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
• 8 oz can no salt added tomato sauce
• 1 can low sodium kidney beans
• 1 tsp cumin
• 1/2 tsp chili powder
• 1/2 tsp paprika
• 1/2 tsp sea salt

Directions:
• heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the turkey and cook until browned and no longer pink; place into the slow cooker.
• add the oil to the skillet and saute the onion, garlic and bell pepper over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes.
• spoon over turkey into the slow cooker and stir in corn, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and spices and mix until well blended.  pour chicken broth into the crockpot.
• cover and cook on HIGH for 5 hours or LOW for 7 hours.

Optional Toppings: diced avocado, light sour cream, reduced fat shredded cheese, baked tortilla chips.  (none of these are included in the nutritional info I am providing)

Friend Making Monday: Food

I'm sorry to say, but this will be my last Friend Making Monday.  Why?  Because there is only one person who mostly participates every single Monday and one other person that participates every now and then.  If there was more participation, then I would continue to do it.  But, there's not, so I'm just going to try and focus more on my blog itself and on sharing my journey and efforts and with sharing the recipes I'm cooking up most every Sunday.  So, if you're one of the 2 people that participate, I'm sorry but I have to stop but I do genuinely thank you for your participation.

Food

1. What is your favorite food dish?
Beef fajitas

2. What is your favorite food type (Italian, Mexican, etc)?
Indian food, by far

3. What is your favorite snack?
I have a few go-to’s and standards that I eat…honeycrisp apples, Greek yogurt, a small salad

4. What do you usually eat for breakfast?
A high fiber cereal with almond milk and a couple scrambled eggs with sea salt

5. Do you eat your veggies?  What are your favorites?
I do.  I love veggies.  Weird as it might be, I think I’m going to have to say that brussels sprouts are my favorite.

6. What is your favorite junk food/guilty pleasure?
Taco bell and taco cabana.

7. Do you cook most/all of your own food?
I try to.  I save a lot of money if I cook most of my own food…obviously eating out is way more expensive (duh).  Also, really, I enjoy food a lot more if it’s homemade.  And, I love cooking, so yea.

8. Are you vegetarian or vegan?  If not, have you ever considered or tried it?
No, but I did do a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet years ago and never felt deprived of anything.

9. If you eat meat, do you eat red meat, and if you do, how do you like it cooked?
Yes, I love me a good steak and I prefer it medium-rare.  But, I’m also cool with rare and medium and maybe medium-well.  But definitely not well done.

10. Is there a food or a dish that you have always wanted to try and is there a reason you haven’t tried it yet?
Not that I can think of.  Most of the foods I’ve wanted to try (Indian, Ethiopian, and whatnot) I’ve already tried.  And I make Indian food on my own all the time.

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