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Preview: She Runs, She Eats

the Running Foodie

Updated: 2018-03-13T20:17:07.413-04:00


summertime, and the runnin's easy


Summer is basically the best time of the year. Sure, it gets hot and humid, but the SUN is out, flowers bloom, and everything is green for a while. After a particularly difficult winter, where I basically became a shut-in and was generally unmotivated to do anything but the absolute essentials (and I can't say I did that very well), I plan to maximize every free moment I have this summer by taking advantage of all the things I've been wanting to do, and things I keep saying I want to do but never did. I plan to get out on some day hikes when I'm not working, climb as often as time allows, drink tea on the back porch in the evening, and other fun, summery stuff. Most importantly, for me, I intend to run through the summer.At some point in the distant past, running fell out of favor. I would train, get injured, rest, lose motivation, and attempt to restart, eventually becoming unmotivated in a sad cycle always ending with an extended break (in my delusional thinking, I always referred to it as a "break" from which I would eventually return, rather than honestly proclaiming, "Look, I stopped running because it just sucks right now."). If you ask me what I do, I'll tell you that I climb. Running and racing just isn't at the forefront of my life anymore, and I'm okay with it.It's okay, because I realized I was trying to force myself to make running the prevalent activity in my life. Even before I took up climbing, I slowly became more interested in hiking over racing. Yet, I still tried to spark that running bug as if I had to mark up my calendar with goal races. I guess it was also a major part of this blog, too. Now, however, running is the outlet I need to keep my focus.When I say I became a shut-in, I am saying that I only left the house to run errands, work, and attend classes. I was lethargic, unmotivated, and seasonally depressed. In retrospect, I needed to make myself move - something more than the biweekly indoor gym sessions that consisted of the majority of my exercise. On the rare winter Sunday I ventured to the Gunks to climb, I was a much happier person (despite the 5:30 AM wake-up). I needed to be outdoors.Anyway, I don't expect life to get any easier. I realize my life isn't really difficult, and it certainly doesn't appear so on the surface, but there are factors making it difficult for me that are not going to disappear and that most people will never see. What I need is to keep moving - out of the house and my comfort zone.This is where running returns. As per usual, I began my Annual Summer Running Season. This time, though, it's not for a race, mileage, or time. It's to get myself into a healthy routine. It's so that even when I'm not hiking, which will never be a daily occurrence (:sadface:), I am still reaping the benefits of the fresh air and sun. I put some tunes on my Shuffle and head out for a few miles.I am fortunate that I get to live in an awesome part of New Jersey, and over the course of the summer, I plan to use running to explore my neighborhood. I live pretty close to an awesome stretch of paved bike path, but I don't plan to only run there. I like looking at the houses and their landscaping, the flowers, and the people. It's a suburban hike, if you will. Will I never run a race again? I can't say that. In spite of my laziness and tendency to take things easy, I do enjoy a challenge. Climbing has made me stronger than running ever has (I can do five pull-ups using my fingers!). I feel like running will complement it, as well as other aspects of my life. Really though, running is an activity that has eluded me for some time now that I would like to get back. Summer running isn't easy; yet, it feels easier for me because it's the time of year I want to be outside the most. It's the season that makes me the happiest, and I intend to fully enjoy it. [...]

Rocket Fuel Granola


 This is some special granola, folks. Eating a bowl of Rocket Fuel Granola has the potential to provide you with the energy to tackle your toughest workouts, hardest adventures, and hectic days! Perhaps that's partly hyperbole. During that backpacking trip, where I thought a solid breakfast each  morning was a good idea, I carried four pounds of granola on my back like a newbie. This seems like a terrible idea, especially since we didn't need two four-ounce bags of granola per person, per day, but on the days we ate it, we felt like we could hike for miles. This granola has sticking power, a claim to which I can personally attest. I've asked myself if I would bring it on future trips, and the answer is yes, only less of it. Rocket Fuel Granola is not just good for hiking, though. Alex often eats it to fuel for his long runs, and we take it to the crag for a day of rock climbing. Unlike oatmeal, I can eat a bowl of this stuff for breakfast and not feel hungry until lunch, or even longer. Granola has long been my favorite breakfast cereal since I can't remember when. Most versions aren't even really healthy, save for the oats, because of its density, but I tend to favor it for its heartiness. Store-bought granola pales in comparison.I first made this recipe the way it was intended, in bar form, using a recipe from Disgustingly Good. It's an incredibly simple recipe that lends itself to countless variations depending on your mood.The main ingredients are old fashioned oats and condensed milk. The add-ins, nuts, dried fruit, and additional sweetener, can be changed up. Mix the oats and nuts together in a large bowl. These are the only dry ingredients that get baked. I toss the cooked granola with the dried fruit and delicate dry goods to avoid drying out the fruit and hiding the other stuff.Like the unsweetened flake coconut. Coconut in granola is my favorite, and I would suggest that you avoid sweetened coconut at all costs. Bob's Red Mill has decently priced flakes, and Whole Foods has a store brand. The coconut gets toasted separately.To the dry ingredients, you'll add a can of sweetened condensed milk and two tablespoons of honey, maple syrup, or molasses, depending on what you have or the flavor you prefer. You're probably wondering if this makes a difference, and it does, especially the molasses.The mixture is going to be a sticky mess. Turn out on a large parchment-lined baking for simple clean-up.When it's done, after about 25-30 minutes, the granola should be evenly toasted. At this point, you'll mix all your stuff together. And that's about it. Like I said, it's the simplest granola recipe I've made that yields perfect results each time. Unlike some other recipes I have on this site, which are still good, I turn to this one first. It travels well, and lasts a while. Eat it by hand or with a spoon. Rocket Fuel Granolaby Christine Provo Recipe adapted from Disgustingly Good Print this recipe  6081256Ingredients 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats2 cups raw pepita seeds or nuts of choice (coarsely chop whole nuts)1-2 cups currants or other dried fruit2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk2 tablespoons molasses or maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)1/2 teaspoon kosher saltInstructions1 - Preheat oven to 350°F. When heated, place coconut on a large baking sheet at toast just until pieces turn golden brown, about 5 minutes or so. Watch carefully and toss for even cooking. It is not necessary for each flake to be golden. Remove from baking sheet and set aside.2 - Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss together the oats, pepita seeds (or other nut), and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pour in condensed milk and molasses, stirring until oats and nuts are evenly coated. Turn out onto prepared baking sheet in an even layer.3 - Bake granola for 15 minutes. Toss with a spatula to break up clumps and to promote even baking. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes, or until granola is evenly golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes before t[...]

lemon bars and life updates


Last we spoke, I had completed my first multi-day backpacking trip. I had hoped that it would light the blogging fire I let go out, but it didn't have such an effect. I still wasn't baking very often, and ran even less. Truth be told, I was, and still am, feeling incredibly stressed out with school and the hells of retail. As the stress built up, I slowly backed away from activities I once found pleasurable. When pleasurable activities became challenging, I tossed them into the pile of stress that accumulated in the corner and disengaged. Eventually, all I had left was that big ol' pile of stress with nothing left to counter it. Despite the good things that had (and are happening) in my life, it felt as if I had been handed a giant pile of lemons with instructions to figure it out on my own. I chose to wallow. What I've learned about myself over the years is that I am an expert wallow-er, and if left to my own devices, could probably turn it into a full-time gig. I needed something productive, something with no expectations, to counter my negativity. So, what to do when you have lemons? Turn it into something sweet.Somehow, these feelings led me back to my blog and the realization that I never truly invested in it. For a while, I had been unsatisfied with many aspects of it, and rather than confronting those issues and comprising a plan of action, I wallowed, waiting until something magical came along to fix it. Naturally, that never happened, and the blog got tossed aside. So, here I am, in the simplest manner possible, turning what was once a negative into a positive, starting off fresh with a new blog look. I'm looking forward to sharing my thoughts and recipes with you in this space again, beginning with one of my top-ten favorite desserts.Lemon bars are, to me, one of the greatest treats of all time. When made properly, the smooth center boasts a tangy lemony flavor cut through by the sweet layer of confectioners' sugar and crisp shortbread crust. It's the epitome of a spring-time dessert. I can't remember the first time I ate one, but I can remember the first time I ate one after a long absence, and it was divine. In a small cafe in Indiana on a trip home to visit my family, sipping lattes and taking bite after bite of a lemon bar. It's not a dessert you see very often anymore, unfortunately. I altered an Ina Garten recipe in the manner in which most of us do - substituting large eggs for extra large eggs. I also reduced the sugar to allow the tanginess of the lemons to stand out. So, to any of you who find yourself struggling, I hope you are also reacquaint yourself with an activity that brings you pleasure - one that keeps you moving in the right direction.  Here's to not wallowing, and here's to turning the lemons in our lives into good things. See you soon! Print this recipeLemon BarsRecipe adapted from Ina GartenIngredients -Crust -1 cup salted butter, room temperature1/2 cup granulated sugar2 cups bleached all-purpose flour1/4 teaspoon kosher saltFilling -1 cup bleached all-purpose flour1/4 teaspoon kosher salt1 1/2 cup sugar6 large eggs, room temperature1 cup fresh lemon juice (may substitute bottled)Grated lemon zest from however many lemons neededconfectioners' sugarDirections -1 - Line a 13x9" baking dish with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on both long sides. Cream the butter and sugar together, just until combined. Add the flour and salt, beating just until combined into butter mixture. Dot mixture evenly along bottom of baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and press into an even layer. Chill in fridge as you preheat the oven to 350°F.2 - Bake chilled crust until lightly browned, 15-20 minutes. As it bakes, prepare the filling.3 - Whisk flour, salt, and sugar together in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk in eggs, lemon juice, and lemon zest until mixture is smooth and a little frothy. Pour over warm crust. Bake for an additional 25-35 minutes, or until filling is just set. The toothpick test may not come out clean, but the fillin[...]

That Backpacking Trip Through Shenandoah


 Living in Indiana for so long, I yearned to experience the wonder of the trail. I had just assumed I would take to hiking, despite the lack of trails in Indiana. What I liked was the idea of trail life, of testing your limits, and the independent nature of the thru-hiker. A thru-hiker I am not, though now that I've gotten my boots broken in on legit trails, I can make the claim that I am a hiker. Day hiking soon became too easy. After experiencing the Smokies for the first time in 2015, I knew I wanted to try backpacking.Over spring break of this year, I went with Alex on my first overnight backpacking trip to the Smokies. I had a great time, and the clear skies and warmish temperatures, unusual for the Smokies in springtime, made for a good experience. Since then, I wanted to tackle a more challenging trip - isn't that how it always goes?We planned a four-day excursion through Shenandoah on the Appalachian Trail. Though after a tiring summer spent at school, I wasn't confident that I would enjoy it, especially considering we'd be heading out during the very worst of summer weather - heat, humidity, and bugs galore! The only other option was to stay home and do things we normally do, and that would be a letdown.Our route began at Wildcat Ridge Trail, ending at Skyland. We planned to cover the distance in four or five days on the AT, heading out on Thursday. We actually meant to start at the Riprap trail junction, but I accidentally drove past it on Skyline Drive, ending up two miles south at the Wildcat junction. Big Mistake #1.Our first day was a 13-ish mile hike into Loft Mountain Campground, starting just before noon, ending at 6:30 PM.This is Blackrock summit, as is the first picture up above. Because my iPhone is always short on storage, I was stingy when taking pictures. Unfortunately, I didn't take one of the awesome boulder structure that I believe was the actual summit area.We detoured to Blackrock Hut a few hours in to filter water. These water stops took half an hour each, since we would pump first and finish with the Steripen for good measure. At the hut, we saw a trail log with a mention of our NOBO AT thru-hiker friend with whom we had hiked 11 miles in New York last week.We made the ridiculous uphill .2 mile trek back to the AT, where a group of other backpackers warned us about some bear cubs up ahead. We ended up seeing one of those cubs, noshing on blackberries (we're assuming), giving us the "Yeah so?" look from a safe distance. Once it ran off the trail, we walked by, clacking our hiking sticks together, requesting safe passage aloud for good measure. By the time we made it to the campground, checked in, and got to our reserved campsite, we had just enough time to trek to the campstore for dinner provisions - my new favorite soda, Dr. Wham, and ham to boost our elbow pasta with chicken bouillon broth dinner. The humidity was ridiculous and we needed the sodium boost. We also got to shower.If you ever want to experience luxury on the AT, Shenandoah is one way to do it. You can stay at every campground and get a shower if you so desire, if the fees for the campsite and shower are worth it to you. If you've really got the dough, you can hike lodge to lodge. Having a layout that's spread out, Loft Campground was a pain on foot. For example, the walk from our campsite to the showers/camp store was at least a half mile one way; yet, we enjoyed this campsite the most of the three sites where we stayed. The Loft sites ($15/night; $1.75/5.25 minute shower) were spacious and offered a good amount of privacy. Big Meadows is the most popular and pricey, coming it at $20 for a campsite and $1.75 for a 5.25 minute shower. Lewis Mountain Campground is the smallest, quick to fill up, but $15 for a site, $1 for a 5 minute shower, and easy to get around on foot, with the bonus of a real bathroom for a shower.That's the MSR Hubba Hubba NX tent. Very cozy for two people, lightweight, durable, and easy to set up. Alex is basically a ma[...]

Adventures in New Paltz, New York


Slowly, but surely, I am creating favorite places in and around New Jersey, and New Paltz, New York, is one those favorites. It all started with a trip to Minnewaska State Park shortly after moving here. We took a hike to the lake, swam, and finished with a harrowing mountain biking adventure back down that was only harrowing to me. That excursion ended with a meal at the fantastic Turkish restaurant in the little city of New Paltz. Nowadays when Alex and I go, we start with a hike/run -- I hike up, he runs up a different route, and of course I try to beat him to the top. At the top, we like to enjoy Pellegrinos, relishing in the sweet-tart beverage after hauling ourselves up. This time, instead of stopping at Millbrook Mountain, we continued on to Gertrude's Nose, a route we hadn't taken before. There are some steep uphills, but nothing rough enough to make us call it quits. The very first picture of this post is from the top of Gertrude's. If you're going to hike in this park, take some extra water and food and get your entry fee's worth by hiking this route. It was really enjoyable and the views are plentiful. Bring a towel and dip your feet in the lake on the way back, too.Once we're finished hiking, we make our way to Jenkins-Luekin Orchards for local fruit. Last week, we picked up a half bushel of yellow plums, and boy those are good. They're like little balls of fruit juice with a bit of flesh thrown in for good measure, the kind you must eat with a large bib or over the sink. Even Saffron enjoyed them -- he would stick his dirty paw into the box, hook his claw into a plum, and drag it out and onto the floor. We swiftly put an end to his game once we found out the plums were the source of his late night yowling. An entire fruit bin filled with plums remain.Peaches were the fruit of choice for this trip. Somehow, we managed to fit most of the half bushel in the fridge, and I'll use a few in a pie today. Although the grocery store advertises "local fruit", the peaches and plums we've purchased there never taste as rich and country-ish as the ones bought right from the source. Maybe it's the shipping method that causes fruit to lose its flavor or that it is picked before it's ripened. Either way, it's not as satisfying as any of the fruit we have purchased at Jenkins-Luekin, and I'm lucky it's available for me. We'll be back in the fall for apples and cider when I need a breather from studying.Alex and I love small coffee shops with well-made espresso beverages. We have a few options closer to home we visit on the weekends, and it's nice to find equally as good places for a post-hike latte. Mudd Puddle Coffee is nestled between little restaurants and shops in a small shop district in New Paltz, off of the main street, . There was quite the crowd on Saturday, and the drinks were made a more hastily than usual, but the taste was not sacrificed. Typically, we'll just go in for lattes (with freshly ground nutmeg sprinkled on top -- you have got to try this!), though we were famished after our hike and opted to split a BLT. It was an incredible sandwich, and that's not just the hunger talking. Could have used more B, a sentiment I always have whenever I order a BLT. The L and T were very good and super fresh. Mmm, I can still taste it. Going to have to add BLTs to the menu.New Paltz is a home away from home, even though I've never lived here so it doesn't really make any sense. I briefly considered transferring to SUNY New Paltz just to be closer to this area, but that makes even less sense. Probably just the hunger talking. In any case, we have a great time when we come through here for the day. I like traditions. I like making them, and I'm sad when old traditions fall by the wayside, no matter the reason. I'm more than happy that New Paltz is one of my new traditions, hopefully for many years to come.Now, gotta go make that peach pie![...]

Morning Glory Muffins


Good morning, folks. Today, I will be hiking through Minnewaska State Park, fueled by morning glory muffins. I had this recipe on my mind all week and eventually got around to baking them yesterday morning. My mom would often make a similar muffin with shredded carrots, apples, and ground flax seed, only I forgot to ask her for the recipe. Until I get it, I settled on a recipe for the original morning glory muffins, found from Earthbound Farm. I dig the tropical inclusion of pineapple and coconut paired with spicy cinnamon. I wish I realized beforehand I didn't have enough pecans, because a crunchier bite would have made the muffins even better.

Truth be told, the reason I put it off is because I loathe grating cups and cups of veggies/fruit. Procrastination at its finest!

My biggest pet peeve about muffins are squatty, hockey puck things, usually resulting from underfilled cups. When the recipe says to "fill to the brim", you best be filling those cups to the brim. Mine were filled just under the brim because I can't read real well.

You should make these muffins. Alex, who isn't a muffin man, enjoyed two of them. My writing club group did, too. From this batch, I got twenty-two muffins -- enough for eating now, and some left over to freeze for later.

I insist you start your morning off right by getting up immediately and baking these glorious muffins. They'll come in handy for fueling your weekend adventures. I'll see you when I get back from my hike!

The Great Food Blog Cookie Swap 2014


Since the end of The Great Food Blog Cookie Swap in 2013, I've looked forward to the event all year! What better way to get in the spirit of the season than by baking cookies for your fellow food bloggers? With sponsors like Oxo and Dixie Sugar matching up to $3000 in donations for Cookies for Kids' Cancer, we're also baking for more than just ourselves. Many thanks to Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen for continuing to host this event.They also threw in a few treats for us, as well! The Oxo decorating kit looks especially awesome, and I can't wait to try it out. This year, I went with a recipe I've made before, but have never blogged about. It's a shortbread type of cookie flavored with orange zest and toasted pecans that isn't too sweet or crumbly, and would hold up well during shipping. The dough comes together easily and isn't difficult to roll and cut out. If you've ever heard of the Archway Christmas Nougat cookie, that's what these are like, only this recipe is called 'Christmas Angel Cookies'. Last year, I didn't do too well with the packaging. I made up for it by purchasing these cute Christmas tins from the dollar store, lining the interiors with decorative paper purchased from the craft store. I sent these out to Jennifer from Honey and Birch, Sheryl from Lady Behind the Curtain, and Melissa from The Baked Equation. I heard back from two of them and they both enjoyed the cookies! I received Butter Almond Cookies from What Micky Eats, which were incredibly good and had an amazing texture. My other cookie elf was Becky from The Cookie Rookie, who sent Mint Chocolate Brussels Cookies that reminded me of milano cookies, only better.If you're interested in participating next year, subscribe to receive notifications. Print this recipeChristmas Angel CookiesWhile I was unable to locate the source where I originally found the recipe, I was able to find a copy of it hereIngredients -1 1/2 cups vegetable shortening3 cups powdered sugarfinely grated zest of 1 orange1 1/2 tsp. salt2 tsp. vanilla2 cups flour2 cups roasted pecans, finely choppedDirections -Preheat oven to 325°F (300°F for convection ovens).In an electric mixer, cream the shortening, powdered sugar, and orange zest for 3 minutes, scraping down the sides from time to time. Add the salt and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Using the mixer’s paddle attachment, mix in the chopped pecans. Add the flour, and mix just until it is thoroughly combined with the other ingredients.On a well-floured surface, with a well-floured rolling pin, roll out the dough 1/4” thick. Using a 1 1/2” round cookie cutter, cut out the cookies and place 1/2” apart on a cookie sheet.Bake 8 minutes, being careful not to let the cookies brown (they should still be white when you remove them from the oven). Transfer to racks and let the cookies cool completely. Store Christmas Nougat Cookies in an airtight container.[...]

pie talk.


This is it! Are you ready? With less than a week until Thanksgiving, our menus are pretty much planned by now. You don't need me telling you what to make, though I'm gonna link to the few seasonally appropriate pie recipes from this here blog, and a few from other blogs that look tasty, just in case. Mostly, I thought it would be fun to talk pie -- your go-to dough, a comprehensive breakdown on dough 101, and filling types. There are many ways to make a pie and most result in deliciousness. I'm forever perfecting my skills and learn from these kinds of discussions. What I'm going to do here is go over a few areas I've struggled with, and the ways I've learned to fix them. I'll also list actual expert advice, because we all need that.Up first, pie dough.Over on Serious Eats, the superhero managing culinary director, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, has a series called The Food Lab, wherein he breaks down a recipe to the most minutest of details to give you the best possible version of that recipe. (He has an excellent pho tutorial, but I'll reserve that for another time.) He has a very comprehensive post about pie dough, which is very apropos for the holiday season. He covers everything from the best type of fat to use, how to blend it into the flour, how much water is needed, and whether or not you need to add vodka. He advocates weighing the flour, which I've never done. I mentioned the other day on my Facebook page that I have yet start weighing ingredients, but it's something I need to begin doing if I want to improve my baking. Take a look at his post!The fat. Do you use butter, shortening, or a combination of both? I do the latter, a la Julia Child. Occasionally, I will make the all-butter pastry dough, but I prefer a butter-shortening dough. It's easier to work and doesn't shrink back as much as an all-butter dough, and it gets super flaky. I follow a recipe I found a couple years ago from How To Eat A Cupcake, only I use all all-purpose flour and removed the baking powder, as I found it caused the dough to puff out of shape.On the King Arthur Flour blog, Flourish, there is a detailed post about different types of crust, including the vodka crust. It explained to me why my butter crusts never maintained the perfect crimped edging after baking -- it's just going to expand and puff (and possibly shrink) more than a butter-shortening crust. I have a dough exception. I came across a recipe on Chez Pim for The One Pie Dough to Rule Them All, an all-butter dough using a rolling and folding technique. It also has a different manner of incorporating the butter into the flour compared to most recipes. The flour gets dumped onto the counter, the slabs of butter get tossed into the flour mound, and you work it in with a pastry scraper and the heel of your hand. A minimum amount of water is added to just bring the dough together. After that, the dough is folded and turned. This is similar to a fraisage, a technique used to create superior flakiness. At first, it might seem contrary to every piece of advice you've ever learned about pie dough for ABSOLUTELY NOT OVERWORKING THE DOUGH UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE. I understand! But trust me and trust the recipe when we tell you that it's going to be fine. I would advise waiting to test this out for when it doesn't matter. Banking on the fraisage techniqe, I have a tendency to add too much water to my dough to make life easier. I either add too much and it gets a little soggy, or I add too little and it's difficult to roll out. The middle ground is to give the dough a gentle fraisage to further incorporate the dough after adding just enough water to make it come together. Filling.When it comes to Thanksgiving, I tend to stick apple pies and pecan pies. I enjoy a good pumpkin, but it's not my favorite. I've had good success with both pecan and pumpkin, though I've struggled with apple. The filling would never co[...]

Pumpkin Pie


The wind is howling and leaves are swirling through the air. It is definitely autumn here in New Jersey, and not a moment too soon. For whatever reason, I feel very comfortable in weather like this, even when I'm not outside in it. Now that things like sugar pumpkins, apples, and cider are in season, I've been trying to get as much out of it as I can. This weekend, Alex and I took a short trip up to New Paltz to pick up a half bushel of Ida Red apples, apple cider, and cider doughnuts from Jenkins-Lueken Orchards, and some New York maple syrup from Oliverea Schoolhouse Maple at the farmer's market! We drove up to an outlook to take in the view before we left. We'll be busy working our way through all that the next few weeks!I also made a pumpkin pie this weekend, as you can see. I've made and blogged about this recipe before, though those pictures never did justice to the Tigger-Proof Pumpkin Pie. I have been meaning to update it for a while, because it's a pie you all really need to make. Typically, I use canned pumpkin. This time, I roasted a sugar pumpkin and pureed the pulp (not a difficult feat at all). Boy, I'll tell you, it tastes even better than I remembered, and it's all because of the fresh pumpkin puree. I don't mind using canned at all for things like muffins and breads, but when it's in a dessert where the filling is in the forefront, taking a little extra time to prep your own puree takes it to a whole other level. I ended up with extra puree that I'll likely use for muffins, if I can't think of a better pumpkin dessert. (There is a pumpkin yeast bread from Baking with Julia I've been eying for a while now.)Pro tip: After pureeing pumpkin, place in a fine mesh sieve to allow the excess liquid to drain.The ingredients for this pie consist of the pumpkin puree (fresh or canned), spices (a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves), eggs, and three types of sugar: sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, and white sugar. Anyone who knows anything about the 100 Acre Woods knows that condensed milk is one of the main food groups, second only to honey. Not shown is the blind-baked pie crust. Whisk filling together. Pour into prepared pie crust and bake. What you see here is a mighty fine piece of pumpkin pie. The filling is smooth and custardy, the crust is perfectly browned on the bottom, and now I get to enjoy some pie for the next couple of days while listening to the howling wind outside.Print this recipeTigger-Proof Pumpkin PieFrom The Little Big Book of Pooh by Monique Peterson(Personal notes: I used a different dough recipe that is actually quite similar to this recipe - chill before rolling, chill before baking - and I opted to pre-bake the crust for 15 minutes)For crust -1 1/3 cup flour1 tablespoon granulated sugar1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter1/4 cup vegetable shortening2 tablespoons ice waterFor pie -1 1/2 cups cooked or canned pumpkin1/4 cup brown sugar1/2 cup granulated sugar1 1/2 cups condensed milk1/4 teaspoon coarse salt1 teaspoon cinnamon1 teaspoon ground ginger1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg1/4 teaspoon ground cloves2 eggsDirections -Preheat oven to 425°F.To make crust, sift together dry ingredients. Using pastry blender or processor, cut in shortening and butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle water over dough and mix with fork until pastry is moist enough to form into a ball.Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a 14" round circle. Transfer and press into 9" pie pan. Trim overhand and crimp edges. Chill in freezer for 15 minutes.To make the pumpkin filling, whisk all the pie ingredients together in a large bowl until blended. Pour into the prepared crust.Bake for 10 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 40-50 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.Serve with whipped cream![...]

Pumpkin Muffins


Hey, so it's now autumn! Except some days, I don't believe it, especially yesterday, when it was still fairly hot out. Is this Indian summer? Whatever it is, it hasn't stopped me from making dinner soups like they're going out of season, or sipping on hot tea after dinner. I've also busted out the pumpkin puree so that I can share with you my favorite pumpkin muffin recipe. I found this particular recipe from Muffin Top, who got it from Gourmet magazine. Do you remember that magazine? It was great and I'm still sad it's gone. The bright orange color of the muffins lured me in and I wasn't disappointed. This recipe is super simple and makes tall, moist muffins, not those squatty little pucks that drive me crazy. Best of all, you use the entire can of pumpkin puree so you don't have to store 1/4 cup of puree, only to have it rot in the depths of the fridge before you remember that it's there. The recipe's direction for mixing the batter is a bit weird, so I simplified it by mixing the dry (flour, spices, leavening, salt) and wet (pumpkin, eggs, oil, sugar, vanilla extract) ingredients separately. I also use my own combination of spices instead of a generic pumpkin pie blend. I like that I can decide to use more cinnamon one day, then turn around and make the next batch more gingery. In total, I use two-three teaspoons, not just one. One teaspoon isn't enough. And with a teaspoon of vanilla extract for added depth. You can leave the sugar as is, or you can decrease to 3/4 cup like I did this last batch. The recipe is included in this post to make the modifications clearer. Dear readers, I can't go another post without addressing this Extra Fancy (ooh la la) Vietnamese cinnamon from Penzey's spices. I was first introduced to it by a friend, Bob, who sent me a Penzey's spice gift box. This cinnamon is very spicy and strong; Penzey's recommends reducing the cinnamon in a recipe by a third if using this kind. I like to think that it justifies the price that way, though if you love cinnamon, go all out! Next, fold the dry ingredients into the wet, then divide evenly into twelve muffin cups. Exactly twelve muffin cups. You can fill the cups up just about all the way without causing a disaster, I promise. Sprinkle the tops with cinnamon sugar (and add pumpkin seeds, if you wish), then bake. Now, I have a secret to share with you. These pictures, while mostly accurate, are a lie -- I forgot to add the oil. Although I noticed that there wasn't quite as much batter as there normally is, I didn't realize my mistake until after I had stuck the trays into the oven (I blame Gilmore Girls). I expected a disaster, and wasn't disappointed. While still edible, this batch just isn't as soft and tender as it normally is. The tops are more craggy than usual and the crumb suffers. I would absolutely not recommend skipping the oil. Please. Here is what the muffins should actually look like if made properly. I promise, I know what I'm doing, most of the time.Despite the error, the flavor was still there. Not bad for a mostly fat-free baked good! (I can't believe I said that.) I hope you enjoy these as much as I have! Print this recipePumpkin MuffinsThe Running Foodie version, adapted from Gourmet November 2006, adapted from the American ClubMakes 1 dozenIngredients -1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour1 tsp baking powder1/2 tsp baking soda1/2 tsp salt2-3 teaspoons spices, using any of the following: cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, fresh nutmeg1 15-ounce canned solid-pack pumpkin 1/3 cup vegetable oil2 large eggs1 teaspoon vanilla extract3/4 - 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus an additional 1 tablespoon granulate sugar1 teaspoon cinnamonAdditional: Pumpkin seedsDirections -Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven toe 350°. Put paper or foil liners into 12 muffin cups.Whisk together flour, baking powder[...]

It's Still Summer


You've probably heard that pumpkin spice lattes are already available at Starbucks, and maybe you even know someone who already got one, and maybe even that person suggested that the lattes signify the start of autumn. Well, folks, it's still summer, and I'm not yet ready for it to be autumn. Considering that the high is still over 75° most days, I am right. If you don't want to take my word for it, autumn doesn't officially begin until late-September here in the Northern Hemisphere. Although I've continued ordering (hot) lattes at Starbucks all throughout summer, those lattes were not seasonal flavors. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. So, in defense of summer, I present you with these Pink Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies from Martha Stewart. The bright flavor is perfectly summer with a balance of sweet and tart. Although winter is the season for citrus fruits, citrus is a flavor I tend to associate with summer, such as pitchers of freshly squeezed lemonade and lime cookies with confectioners' sugar coating. This recipe have been on my radar for a while, actually, but procrastination is my number one hobby. Finally, I get to cross them off my list! Both the cookie and the buttercream contain grapefruit juice and zest. While this makes the cookie flavorful, the juice might be the reason the dough came out softer than sugar cookie dough should be, making rolling and cutting circles difficult. Despite baking the dough straight from the freezer, the cookies didn't hold shape in the oven. It also browned a little more than I would have liked, and I suspect that has to do with the oven temperature not being accurate. What would I do to remedy the soft dough? I might add more flour next time, or decrease the egg yolks from two to one. I don't want to reduce the grapefruit juice since that's what gives the cookie its flavor.Pro tip: Wax paper is useless for rolling out sticky cookie dough.Mmm, buttercream! The fresh grapefruit juice really helps cut the cloying sweetness of the confectioners' sugar-based buttercream. Tinting it pink is optional.The texture of the cookies improves the longer its stored, going from crunchy to soft. Then again, maybe they're supposed to be crunchy. Not entirely sure, but either way, the cookies are delicious. I don't mean to sound Grinchy about the upcoming season. I'm looking forward to some things pumpkin, crunchy leaves in orange, red, and brown colors, crisp, cool temperatures, and apple cider. But since I don't work in advertising, I'm not going to rush it. When the time comes, I will have my celebratory pumpkin latte... If Starbucks hasn't already run out of syrup by then. [...]

I come bearing pie.


Well, hello. It has certainly been a while, unfortunately. I'm not going to get into all the specifics of what lead to my hiatus (because who reads this blog, anyway?), but, among other things, I wasn't satisfied with the direction I had taken the blog. If you noticed the increase in sponsored posts, I apologize. Although I tried to keep them relevant, I felt like I was unable to seamlessly integrate those posts to fit with the normal content. I could have worked on that and continued earning enough to pay for a few small bills, like the blog hosting, Flickr account, and cell phone bill, but the requirements rose while the profits dropped and I didn't feel like the work I would have put into it was worth it. At that point, I had begun despising blogging. The aforementioned was a small part of it; another part of it was that I felt as if the community that once drew me in seemed to have lost its path, but it was really was just me losing my way. I won't be eliminating product reviews or sponsored posts altogether, but it's not going to be nearly as often. It's just not what I want this space to be about. So, I offer up pie, because that is what this blog is about. Not much of baking has been going on around here, either, making it almost impossible to find anything to blog about (I'm not even going to get into running right now.) I really do want to get back into the kitchen and bake/cook/blog more because it's a skill I enjoy developing and it's pretty much one of my biggest hobbies. I hope to utilize my subscription to Bon Appetit more than I currently do, as well. Have you heard of MasterChef? That show is also my inspiration. MasterChef is probably my favorite cooking competition show and I've always thought it would be amazing to have the skills necessary to audition. My skills aren't that refined, but maybe one day it will be.I've made this maple pecan tart around four times total, learning something new each time. The first time, I learned that I did not like the crust in the recipe; it's more of a cookie-shortbread crust than an actual pastry crust. For the filling, I toasted the pecans and browned the butter, two simple changes that I felt made the pie even better than it would have been otherwise.The second time, I used David Lebovtiz' tart dough that is prepared in the oven and pressed into the pan. It would have worked out well if I had doubled the recipe. As is, the bottom was too thin and the filling leaked through, causing the filling to seep through and caramelize, making the finished tart impossible to neatly serve. But, I used Georgia pecans a friend sent to me as a gift, so the memories of that tart are associated with good things. The third time, I made an all-butter dough using a folding technique found on Chez Pim. I LOVED this dough. It's so easy to work with, and I actually did notice a difference. I was even asked if I used puff pastry instead of pie dough, that's how flaky it was. Instead of a tart pan, I baked it in a pie dish, and there ended up being a thicker layer of sugary, eggy filling compared to the tart version.The fourth time, I baked it in a tart pan again and the crust (using the same dough) didn't thoroughly bake, since I forgot to compensate for the pan being on a baking sheet by moving the oven rack down.In this incredibly too close-up picture, you might be able to see the visible layers beginning to form. Had it been thoroughly cooked, like the edges of the crust in the first picture, this crust would have been perfect. But the filling was good. What I especially like is that it isn't too sweet given the fact that it has three different types of sweetener (brown sugar, maple syrup, dark corn syrup). It's all balanced here. The recipe itself is incredibly consistent, and I didn't have[...]

Reebok Skyscape Review


I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Reebok. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating. #sponsored #skyscrapeHey guys! I had this great opportunity to test out some new shoes you may have heard about (Miranda Kerr commercial, anyone?), the Reebok Skyscape. It was perfect timing, since I had been looking for casual shoes that are comfortable and was going out of town to play spectator at a marathon Alex ran. That meant I would be on my feet for around three hours. I was intrigued by the selling points of the shoe: Reebok Skyscape is considered to be an everyday shoe perfect for active and casual occasions, featuring 360 degrees of foam comfort packed into a stylish silhouette that can be paired with a variety of outfits. The Skyscape upper is crafted using the same manufacturing techniques and processes as molded foam bras, but with materials optimized for the stresses and strains placed on the feet. The material is a seamless, 2-way stretch to comfortably envelop the foot, while allowing for natural foot movement and breathability. The sole resembles cloud-like pillows for cushioning, comfort, and flexibility. The Skyscape comes in a broad range of colors.It definitely sounds like a great shoe! Of course, I'm ever the skeptic, and nothing compares to user experience. I ordered my shoes, size 9, from Kohl's (currently on sale for $60!) and eagerly waited for them to arrive. Upon opening the box, I was a blown away by how pink they were, even though I knew based on pictures that these shoes would be bright. To me, the color isn't obnoxious, though, and it adds a burst of color to my otherwise monotone wardrobe. Another selling point of these shoes is that they can be easily washed in the washing machine, so I'm not too concerned about stains. In fact, because I'm me, I got a stain on them, which I just scrubbed out with soap and a washcloth. At some point, I'll try washing them and see what happens. Weighing in at just five ounces, these shoes are very lightweight, making them easy to pack or just to walk around in all day. Being so light, I wondered if it would really provide enough support to back up their claims. Immediately after slipping them on, I was blown away by the cushioning. I was making dinner at the time and didn't want to take them off. Unfortunately, I can no longer wear them as house slippers since I've worn them outside, so perhaps I need to channel my inner Mr. Rogers and buy a pair for indoor use. I haven't really had the opportunity to style them with any fun outfits yet, but the bright pink did give my spectating outfit a little more pop. Pretty basic outfit. I didn't wear any socks, yet I didn't notice my feet becoming sweaty or stinky at all. There was minimal discomfort with the tongue of the shoe sliding to the side and rubbing the top of my foot, but after adjusting it was fine. As for the shoe itself, it fit really well, and very glove-like. After walking and being on my feet for a couple hours, my feet and legs did not feel nearly as sore the next day compared to when I wore other shoes that were not as cushioned. I'm also pleased to report that these did not scrape the back of my heel. From a purely vanity point of view, I am happy with how these look for a casual sneaker. Because I absolutely do not wear athletic sneakers with jeans, I tend to stick with flats, loafers, or casual sneakers that don't look clunky. I'm very happy with how these look with jeans. So, if you're in the market for a similar style of shoe, go and try these on, at the very least. (I also shared a review on[...]

Relieving Pain with Well at Walgreens


I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for #CollectiveBias and its client. All health related suggestions and opinions expressed in this post are all my ownThe temperature is warming up and many of us are becoming more active. We're primarily focused on what we want to accomplish, not on injuries and pain. For myself, I often overlook the latter two, forgetting to stock up on supplies for relieving pain until I need them. Thankfully, the Well At Walgreens brand is here to help. I hopped on over to the River Road Walgreens to pick up supplies for a running-themed wellness kit. These are items I have found myself using most often through my years of running.Bandages in various sizes. I use these for any scrapes I get from tripping, or to cover small areas that chafedNail polish, for covering black toenailsReusable ice pack - in the past, I used a bulky ice pack, but I've since seen the value in a gel pack that conforms to the shape of the body surface. What I like about this one is that it can be used hot as well as cold, an comes with a large strap to secure the pack in place.Antibiotic ointment for those scrapesPain reliever - my go-to is a pain reliever with caffeine but that's not always optimal if I'm running later in the day. Find one that best suits your needs and keep in mind the side effects.Moleskin - this is great to cover up and provide extra padding for blisters. I used to use medicated blister pads, but it wouldn't stay on very well and would always start to fall off before it did its job. Now, I just drain and cover if it needs it.I organize the items by storing them in a plastic box marked "first aid" that I keep in the closet. This way, I won't have to search for what I need. When traveling to races, I often forget to pack these items because I'm an airhead who doesn't make lists. Solution: Buy a small bag and keep it filled with a few of each. When packing, just grab the bag from the closet and toss in suitcase. More efficient, better organized, and less likely to forget things I'll need. I can even toss this in my race bag in case I need something after a local race. What's in your first aid running kit? width="560" height="315" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>As for the quality of Well at Walgreens products, I've always found them to be as good as name brand counterparts (yes, I've used them before this campaign!). I feel better going out of my way to purchase these products because of the Walgreens Way to Well Commitment. Through December 31, 2014, 1¢ from the purchase of every Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness product (up to $3 million annually), will support bringing preventative wellness services to local communities through the Walgreens Way to Well Commitment®. A long time ago, at my local Walgreens, they had a health day providing cholesterol screening and other such services, which was nice to have access to. Keep that in mind when stocking up on health and wellness supplies!#WellAtWalgreens[...]

Mrs. T's Pierogies Chorizo Nachos


I participated in a campaign on behalf of Millennial Central for Mrs. T’s Pierogies. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.Happy Friday! If you're planning a get-together with friends this weekend, I have a great recipe idea for you using Mrs. T's Pierogies. My first post was all about reviewing them for the first time and included a very simple recipe to serve as a side dish. Today's recipe is more of an appetizer, though it can be eaten as an actual meal, too. It's nachos, who wouldn't want to eat nachos as a meal? Anyway, this is perfect for get-together with friends, like for a potluck-style sporting event (March Madness, anyone?) or movie night. It features potato and cheddar pierogies, Mexican blend cheese and queso fresco, chorizo, and pickled peppers. Gather: 1 box Mrs. T's Pierogies Potato and Cheddar2 chorizo sausage links 1 cup Mexican-blend shredded cheese (absolutely NOT taco-seasoned cheese)1/4 cup crumbled queso frescopickled pepper slices2 green onions, sliced thinly on the bias chopped fresh cilantro, to tasteLine a small baking sheet with foil, because who wants to bother with a mess during a gathering with friends? Bake the pierogies according to package directions.While the pierogies bake, heat a small skillet over medium heat. Remove casings of chorizo and crumble into heated skillet. Cook thoroughly, about 5 minutes. Drain from fat and set aside. Gather cheeses, cilantro, and green onion. Not pictures, pickled pepper slices. After the pierogies finish baking, sprinkle with 3/4 cup shredded cheese. Add chorizo, then remaining shredded cheese. Top with queso fresco and green onions. Pop back in the oven for 5-7 minutes, just until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from oven and top with pickled pepper and cilantro.Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a meal. The potato and cheddar pierogies worked out great for this recipe. Obviously, these are not chips, so you'll have to use a fork to eat these "nachos". But it tasted great and is an easy recipe to put together. Try it out for your next get-together with friends! Be sure to check out Mrs. T's Pierogies on Facebook and Twitter. [...]

Back to Running and Spartan Race Giveaway **Giveaway is closed**


Yet again, all has been quiet on the running front around here. It's taken me a while to get back in the groove. Actually, it's taken me quite a while to build up any motivation to train, or even just run. Finally, three weeks ago, I decided that if it didn't happen then, it would just get easier to slack off (and I felt so judged after those "body at rest tend to stay at rest" commercials). I timed it just right, as I got to run during the recent warm spell. Also, I registered for the Sunburst Half Marathon (previous race reports can be found in the RR tab) and my younger brother will be running the 5k.

The first week was rough, as you could imagine. My pace was just under eleven minute miles, but my goal was to run at least four times a week however slowly I needed to go to complete four miles. This "plan" has worked well for me in the past (when I've slacked off and needed to quickly get back to it) and hopefully will continue to do so. After the first couple runs, though, my body started adjusting, even remembering what my old slow pace was. I'm not quite back to my usual nine minute mile slow pace, but after another two weeks I think I'll be alright. If all goes well, I'll get a 20-mile week after Sunday's run, which will be most encouraging.

My goal for this half marathon is to train to complete. It would be ridiculous to make this a goal race. I'll likely legitimately train for a half marathon in the fall and use that as a goal race, with maybe a 10k or two thrown in between.

So be on the lookout for biweekly running updates. I'll include a weekly training update on Mondays, aka rest days, and a mid-week running thoughts post on Wednesday or Thursday.

About that giveaway. Although I've never participated in a Spartan Race myself, I figured some of you guys have and would appreciate an entry giveaway. I was informed about the upcoming Spartan Races in Miami, Atlanta, Charlotte, North Carolina, and was asked to share that information with you. If you're in any of cities and are interested in registering, click the link to receive 15% off.

To enter the giveaway, comment below and tell me about your running or workout plans - are you training for a race? Going on a big hike? Whatever you're doing, I want to hear about it. I will pick the winner on Friday and email you the code for one free entry to any Spartan Race.

**Winner has been chosen!**

Congrats to Ben Keil!

Recipe: Potato Leek Soup with Chorizo


This potato soup is a "recipe" I've made a few times during the colder months. By recipe, I mean that I added ingredients until it looked right and had the consistency I was after. Eventually, I wrote an actual recipe out so that I could post it here. Potato soup is my favorite cold weather soup of all time. It's starchy, thick, and comforting. My mom used to make a baked potato cheeseburger soup that I was my first potato soup love. For this soup, I was inspired by a potato soup from Once Upon A Tart I tried a long, long time ago. Their soup featured Yukon gold potatoes pureed with roasted garlic, and even though it was 80° the day I tried it, it was so memorable. You can add roasted garlic to this soup, which I did once, but I didn't include that step so as to make it easier. What I love about this recipe is how easy and quick it is to make. Unlike many traditional potato soups, this one doesn't contain much milk. You could probably leave it out, if you really wanted to, though it adds a creaminess that chicken broth alone doesn't provide. The ingredient list is simple - Yukon gold potatoes (my favorite kind of potato), leeks, garlic, carrots, and chorizo. First, the chorizo is chopped and sauteed in a dutch oven. Cooking the chorizo first gives the soup more flavor, since it's not cooked with the soup. If I'm not using chorizo, I add bacon grease. Or not, if you're vegetarianizing the recipe.Next, the leeks, carrot, and garlic are sauteed for a couple of minutes.The potatoes are chopped into a large dice so that it cooks quickly and is easier to puree. Add the potatoes to the leeks and saute a few more minutes. Chicken broth is poured on top, brought to a boil, and reduced to a simmer. It takes about 25-30 minutes for the potatoes to cook. To puree the soup, the easiest way is to use an immersion blender; if you don't have one, a food processor or blender will work. If you want to leave it a little chunky, remove a cup or two of the potatoes before blending. Pro tip: You probably shouldn't use an immersion blender in a ceramic-enameled dutch oven.After pureeing the soup, warm milk is stirred. Besides the creamy consistency, it also smooths out the flavors. Pro tip: I've seen soup recipes that add the milk before pureeing. DO NOT DO THIS, or you'll end up with a soup latte - soup topped with milk foam. Top each bowl with some chorizo and paprika and you've got dinner! I love this soup so much, I think I'm going to make it tonight, maybe with some cheese. Alongside Irish soda bread. It's such a great basic recipe you can easily modify by using different ingredients. Leftovers (if there are any) might need to be thinned with additional liquid, since it thickens considerably when refrigerated. If you make this recipe, let me know how you liked it and if you have any comments about the recipe. Post any modifications you make, too!Print this recipePotato Leek Soup with ChorizoRecipe by Christina ProvoServes 4Ingredients -2 tablespoons olive oil1 package chorizo, about 11 ounces, chopped1 cup chopped leeks, rinsed thoroughly1/3 cup peeled and chopped carrots 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced4 cups Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped into small cubes 4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth1 bay leaf3/4 cup whole milk, warmed (you can use any percentage of milk as long as it's not skim, but the consistency will probably be thinner)Kosher salt and black pepperPaprikaDirections -Heat a tablespoon oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add chorizo and cook for 5-7 minutes until browned. Remove using a slotted spoon and set aside. If necessary, add up to a tablespoon of the remaining oil. Saut[...]

Get Your Morning Energy with Honey Bunches of Oats


This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Honey Bunches of Oats for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.Cereal is sort of my guilty pleasure breakfast treat, as I don't often buy pre-made breakfast meals. Honey Bunches of Oats was one of my favorite childhood cereals (honey? bunches of oats? Yes, to both!) and I jumped at the opportunity to try the newest cereal in the HBOats line, Honey Bunches of Oats Morning Energy.Available in two tasty flavors, Cinnamon Crunch and Chocolaty Almond Crunch, Honey Bunches of Oats Morning Energy makes it easy to get in a nutritious and fulfilling breakfast that tastes good. Each serving of HBOats Morning Energy contains 6 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar as well as delivering more than 2/3 of your day's whole grain.Honey Bunches of Oats Morning Energy Chocolatey Almond Crunch includes chocolatey morsels, almonds, and cocoa-y clusters of puffed rice. I liked it, though I don't know that I'd want the taste of chocolate for breakfast every day as I generally have to be in a mood to enjoy the taste of chocolate.My favorite was the Honey Bunches of Oats Morning Energy Cinnamon crunch, made with sweet, crunchy cinnamon clusters. This flavor is more to my liking and morning palate. I absolutely love cinnamon, and I favor cereals with that flavor.Another important requirement I have for cereals, beside nutritional content and taste, is the crunchy to soggy ratio. I would say that this cereal doesn't stand up to milk as long as others, but the crunchy clusters keep it in balance.As far as nutritional content is concerned, HBOats Morning Energy would be a good compromise between parents and kids. It contains enough good news on the nutrition front while appealing to most kids' palates. Even for your adult self, it's a good cereal to add to your collection (because I assume most adults have a Seinfeldian cereal collection - I currently have four in my rotation). If you want to learn more about this cereal, visit Honey Bunches of Oats Morning Energy on Facebook and on Twitter.[...]

Review: Mrs. T's Pierogies


 I participated in a campaign on behalf of Millennial Central for Mrs. T’s Pierogies. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating. Ever since my Pittsburgh friend told me about a local delicacy called "pierogi pizza", pierogi have been floating around in my mind. When the opportunity to join this campaign was made available, I opted in since it was obviously my calling.Despite making most things I eat from scratch, I do like to keep tasty and easy to prepare foods on hand for lazy evenings, post-run snacks, and spur of the moment get-togethers. Mrs. T's frozen pierogies are right up my alley in that regard. I picked up a few different flavors that stood out to me, and those were potato & onion, potato, spinach, & feta, and potato & 5 cheese blend made with whole grain. The pierogi are made with a whipped potato filling consisting of dehydrated potatoes and various flavoring. In the two flavors I tried, the fillings were pureed. I'm not sure if this is typically how pierogi are made or not. Each box contains twelve pierogies, serving 4 people. If you prepare the pierogi in addition to a meal, just three per person might be enough. I cooked up six for myself. I didn't like that there wasn't a resealable liner in the box for any remaining pierogi, but putting them in small freezer bags is easier to store anyway. There are five different ways to prepare the frozen pierogi, boil, fry, bake, saute, or "grill" in a grill pan. I chose to saute it because, more butter. It takes just eight minutes to prepare this way, and the pierogi get a nicely browned, crispy shell. After they were done, I sauteed panko breadcrumbs until golden brown and sprinkled it over the pierogi, topping with fresh parsley. This would be a good way to prepare the pierogi, alongside a dip, for a friendly gathering. They looked good, but did they taste good? I thought so. The flavors in the two varieties I tried (potato & onion and potato & 5 cheese blend) weren't as pronounces as I expected, though that's not a con in any way. I couldn't really tell the 5 cheese had whole grain in it at all. Overall, I'm a fan. I look forward to working my way through the remaining pierogi in the freezer. To connect with Mrs. T's Pierogies, visit Facebook and Twitter. [...]

Easy Valentine's Dinner with Buitoni and Nestle


I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser.Valentine's Day is just 13 days away. Although it's not a priority holiday for me, it is still nice to plan a delicious dinner and remind your special someone (boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/parents/siblings/friends) that you care about them. Sometimes I go all out, creating themed desserts, other times I keep it simple and fun. If you're new to cooking, or don't have much time to spend on dinner, I'm going to show you how to create a fun and delicious meals with Buitoni and Nestle products.I went to the Garfield, NJ, Walmart Supercenter to purchase Buitoni Sauces and the Nestle Tres Leches baking kit. For whatever reason, the Buitoni fresh pastas and sauces are located at the front of the store, by produce, which I walked right by on my way in. Picture me wandering the store like a goof wondering why I couldn't find any Buitoni products. Anyway, eventually I found them and got the Alfredo sauce and a package of sweet Italian sausage tortelloni. The tres leches kits were found on the special baking display in the middle of the aisle, by the baking aisle. For the pasta, I immediately knew I wanted to recreate a "drooling gnocchi" type of dish, only with the tortelloni. For drooling gnocchi, pasta is coated in a rich sauce made from butter, heavy cream, chicken broth, Parmesan cheese, and more cheese sprinkled on top. Alfredo sauce is practically all that, cutting down the bulk of the work. 1. Preheat oven to 450°. In a saucepan large enough to hold the cooked pasta, warm the Alfredo sauce over low heat. In another pot, cook pasta in boiling water for 7 minutes. Drain and toss in Alfredo sauce. 2. Transfer pasta to a greased 9" baking dish. Sprinkle with 1 cup Italian blend shredded cheese. 3. Bake for 15 minutes, until top is browned and sauce is bubbling. 4. Let cook for 5 minutes before serving. Serve alongside a simple spinach salad. The finish dish tasted incredible. The sauce didn't need any extra seasoning, and I thought the pasta was delicious. The tres leches cake kit makes a difficult cake simple. All the components (besides fresh ingredients) needed are provided in the kit. Combine the cake mix with eggs and oil, beating until smooth. Lick beaters. Pour into prepared cake pan and bake. As cake bakes, combine the condensed and evaporated milk with whole milk. I reduced the amount of whole milk from 1 cup to 1/4 cup. After cake has baked and cooled briefly, poke surface with fork. Pour milk mixture over cake and let stand until cake absorbs all the milk. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours. I ran into a little trouble removing the cake from the pan. I wasn't thinking or else I'd have lined the pan with parchment. Oh well. After a little effort (banging on pan), the cake eventually loosened and came out, though not in one piece. No matter, as the whipped cream hid my mistake. While the cake alone is tasty, it needed an extra Valentine's Day pizazz, so I made a simple strawberry sauce. All you have to do is puree 1 cup thawed frozen sliced strawberries until smooth, pouring mixture through a sieve to remove any seeds. Add a dollop or two onto the plate.Looks delicious, doesn't it? It was! The cake was very moist. I've never made a tres leches cake, if you can believe that, and this has inspired me to make a completely homemade one in the future. But for now, this cake mix is pretty tasty and easy. That's all it takes to cr[...]

Duane Reade Fresh Food for The Big Game


I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser.The big game is right around the corner, and that probably means many of you are creating a fantastic menu of gameday snacks. I know I did it one year, complete with themed desserts, complicated appetizers, and all that. But what if you're not in the mood to go all out, and you still want good food? If you live in NYC, the answer is DeLish Fresh Food from Duane Reade.DeLish Fresh Food is prepared (you guessed it!) fresh and delivered daily to many Duane Reade stores throughout NYC. The line ranges from savory entrees, soups, sandwiches, sushi, dips, and even dessert. I've had the opportunity to taste from the line last year, and the food definitely had that vibrant flavor that freshly made food often does. 'DeLish' was the appropriate name to pick, I think. I visited the 1350 Broadway Duane Reade to see what was available and was pleased to find many dishes that are similar to what I would have prepared for a big game menu. I picked up the Triple Cheese Mac & Cheese, noodles in a Gruyere, Parmesan, and Swiss cheese sauce, Chicken Fajiita Panini, a very delicious chicken sandwich with a southwestern flair, Homemade Olive Tapenade with Baked Pita Chips, a pureed olive dip, and a mini Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake for dessert. In retrospect, I should have picked up two mac & cheeses and cheesecakes.I nibbled on the food as I dished it (pro tip: remove the plastic cover before microwaving the mac & cheese) and upon my first taste of my selection, my taste buds rejoiced. I added a few carrots to be healthy. It goes well with the tapenade, too. My favorite was the chicken fajita panini. The chicken filling was very, very good, wasn't too moist (nobody likes soggy bread) and had an excellent flavor. Unlike many chicken salad-type sandwiches, the chicken here wasn't coated in a mayonnaise-based dressing. I found that very refreshing. Or, maybe my favorite was the tapenade, since I LOVE olives. It's tough to say. And as a certain famous football player once said, you gotta have tapenade for the big game. Mac & Cheese is just the perfect comfort food for this time of year, making it a winner. Well, the cheese makes it a winner. This dish features a trio of cheeses and is not your typical cheddar cheese pasta dish. I enjoyed it.For dessert, I got the aforementioned mini raspberry swirl cheesecake (I promise that's not a fingerprint). There were a few other flavors, too, like a cappuccino, a flavor I would normally choose if the raspberry hadn't spoken to my soul. I should have picked up two of these because they are SO GOOD. I was thinking it would be a nice little treat to split, but that was a very silly idea. You have to understand that cheesecake isn't my go-to dessert. It's often heavy and dense, as cheesecake is by nature. Maybe I had a change of heart, I don't know, but I thoroughly enjoyed how this tasted and the raspberry was a great flavor. I'm going to have to recreate this. The #DRFresh line works for every occasion, really, not just the big game. For example, lunch. Or when you don't feel like making dinner, or are hanging out with friends. I don't really need a reason, to be honest, I just need to have a craving for tasty food. Check it out if you're in NYC. #CollectiveBias[...]

Crisp Salted Oatmeal Chocolate Cookies


Did you get hit by even more snow? The weather feels very bipolar this season, with the temperatures ranging from the 50s to the single digits. The only way I know to make sense of it all is to schedule hair appointments and bake cookies. Smitten Kitchen has a delicious oatmeal cookie recipe (from Cook's Illustrated) that isn't spiced and doesn't contain raisins. I switched the white chocolate with dark chocolate to balance the sweetness. Dark chocolate contrasts well with the salted aspect, too.

You're supposed to use whole oats -- all I had was quick oats. I don't know if this affected the finished cookie at all, I just know it tastes great. Many people who tried this cookie had an issue with the dough spreading. Mine seemed to spread more than it was supposed to as well, though it wasn't lacy thin.

The dough contains a bit of brown sugar, mostly white. Since I didn't have any fancy salt to sprinkle on top, I added a teaspoon of kosher salt to the dough. It tastes fantastic.

I got a cold last Friday, and these cookies are the only thing keeping me going (slight exaggeration). The dough tastes incredible, and the cookie is even better. I baked them up crispy, like the recipe says, though there's a bit of chew left in the center.

Am I the only one who's somewhat "scared" to try new cookie recipes? When I want a cookie, I tend to make a recipe I know I like that will satisfy the craving. No, this isn't the most dramatic recipe to take a risk on, it's just that I take my cookie cravings seriously. Orange zest would play well with the flavors, even though the fruit-chocolate combo is cliche.

Anyway, there is not much left to say. Try these cookies and you won't be disappointed.

Review: Simple Truth from Kroger


I was given these products from BzzAgent on behalf of Kroger. I was not otherwise compensated, and all opinions are my own.Kroger has a new line of natural products, some of which are organic, called Simple Truth. With over 100 new items to choose from, ranging from meat to dairy to cereals, almost all your bases are covered with this line (and if you click on the link, up to $10 worth of coupons are available to load onto your shopper's card). The site lists the 101 artificial ingredients that are not present in Simple Truth products, as well as information on the organic line and meats and poultry. BzzAgent sent me some of the products available in the Simple Truth line to taste and review, and I happily munched away. I tried the Simple Truth Mixed Berry Granola first, because I love granola. This isn't a traditional granola, though, as it is made of whole grain wheat clusters, not oats. The kernels are crunchy and lightly sweetened. The one con is that there aren't many pieces of dried fruit, and the pieces that are in the cereal aren't very large. It's delicious, otherwise. I judge a granola by its clusters and there were enough of those to give this cereal a passing grade. Containing 200 calories, 4 grams of fiber, 2.5 grams of fat, and 16 grams of sugar per serving, this isn't as dense as oat-based granola tends to be. I tend to keep at least one snack-type food on hand for when I'm peckish, but not hungry enough for a full meal. Or for when I'm ravenous and will grab the first thing I see. I love popcorn and make it on the stove, so I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the Simple Truth Organic Popcorn, but it ended up being pretty tasty, even for a low-sodium product. The kernels were large and crunchy and didn't taste stale like day old popcorn. It wasn't greasy and I didn't feel like I had just licked a salt lick after finishing a couple handfuls. While it was tasty, it was a bit plain for a snack, and if I got this again I'd try the white cheddar flavor. There is no picture of the Simple Truth Blackberry Blueberry-flavored Electrolyte Water - that would have been a pretty boring picture. This was probably my least favorite product. I liked that it contained electrolytes and would be great for summer training, though to me it tasted like flat sparkling water. I kept expecting something after tasting the initial hint of flavor, but nothing was there to back it up. It's possible that I just don't like flavored, flat water. The flavor wasn't bad, I just wanted more as a drinking water. I wouldn't buy this just to drink, though like I said previously, it would come in handy for exercising in hot weather.Have you tried anything from this line before? Let me know what you think. I have a couple coupons to give away, just email me with your address if you want one and I'll mail it to you.[...]

Oatworks Race to Fitness with Luca Forgeois


Oatworks gave me samples of their product to review, though I was not compensated in any other way. I was invited to attend the event but was not compensated for it. All opinions are my own.On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending Race to Fitness, an event hosted by Oatworks and 24 Hour Fitness featuring 18-year old race car driver Luca Forgeois. Luca has been racing towards his dreams of becoming a professional race car driver after he raced go-karts for the first time at the age of thirteen. He is also an advocate for ADHD awareness and research, having worked to overcome ADHD in his personal life since he was young. Working with CHADD, he was able to get his education back on track when he wasn't able to get the support for his condition through public school. I appreciated that he shared his story with us and talked about how he works to overcome ADHD and not let it stand in the way if his goals. Before attending the event, I read this article from the Wall Street Journal . It gives some insider details on what it takes to become a professional race car driver and I though it was a really good read. Luca's ultimate goal is to be the youngest race car driver to win Le Mans, and I hope he's able to accomplish it. The event was held at the 24 Hour Fitness on Fifth Avenue in NYC. Muscle Maker Grill catered the event, providing delicious wraps and salads. Being new to the city, I'm not familiar with good places to eat when I'm there, and now I have a new place to stop when I want food that is quick and healthy.Shortly after the event started, TRX demonstrations were held. TRX is a 'suspension training' that was born in the Navy SEALS (according to the TRX website) that mostly works by a tool that leverages gravity and your own body weight, allowing you to perform a variety of exercises, developing your core stability, strength, balance, flexibility simultaneously. At first it seems easy, but it's really not (and I'm rather out of shape right now), and my core area still hurts. If I had access to the gym, I would pick this up because I enjoyed it.Afterwards, Luca Forgeois and Oatworks CEO, David Peters, spoke. Luca spoke about ADHD and how it affected his education, how he has worked to overcome it, his workouts, and his aspirations as a professional race car driver. David Peters talked about Oatworks and what the drink is all about. Oatworks is drink containing beta glucan (soluble fiber) from oats combined with fruits to create a delicious, portable smoothie. The soluble fiber forms a vicious gel that entraps nutrients, slows down digestion, and delays absorption of glucose to help prevent sugar highs and the inevitable crashes. On top of all that, soluble fiber may help lower cholesterol. Oatworks smoothies contain no added sugar (other than what occurs naturally in fruit), is vegan, gluten, GMO, and dairy free and is kosher. The smoothies contain 3 mg of fiber (2 of which are soluble fiber) per bottle, which is the fiber equivalent of 2 bowls of oatmeal. Personally, while I really enjoy the consistency and flavor of Oatworks, I've noticed that I sometimes become bloated and insanely full after drinking it (remember, soluble fiber slows down digestion and all that, so it doesn't pass through as quickly as insoluble fiber does). Because of that, I definitely won't be drinking these before a workout, but maybe in between meals or when I miss a meal. So far, Oatworks is only available in NYC (use the[...]

Homemade: How To Make Flour Tortillas


Lately, I've been perfecting my flour tortilla skills. I started off with an Allrecipes recipe, though I didn't like the ingredient proportions and started changing it up. After many a trial and error, I achieved a recipe with the proportions I liked that made 4 large tortillas (or 6 smaller tortillas, depending on preference). I also learned what the dough should look like, how it should feel, and what doesn't work. Also, I've managed to expedite the process, meaning I can roll out a tortilla as one is cooking in the skillet. Since homemade tortillas are incredibly better than store bought, which a somewhat chewy and soft texture. The taste just can't be beat! I want to share this skill with you so that you can try it for yourself. (Warning: This is a very picture heavy, step-by-step post. Scroll down to the end to see the recipe.)1. Start by whisking flour with baking powder and salt, then cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse sand. Unlike pastry dough, you don't really want large, pea size pieces of fat.2. Stir in hot water. Hot water seems to be the traditional method, though many recipes use warm water. If you're following the recipe in this post, use hot water. 3. Using a fork, stir until a shaggy ball of dough forms. Many recipes will suggest adding the water little by little, but I like to err on the side of a softer dough, since rolling out a dry dough is difficult. 4. Using your hands, add up to 4 tablespoons flour until a soft dough forms. Gently "knead" for about 1 minute. It should no longer be sticky, but will remain a little tacky. Dust both sides with flour, place in bowl, and cover. Let rest for 20 minutes. Other recipes tell you to knead the dough longer, and I will experiment with this more later on. 5. After the dough has rested, place on a floured surface and divide into 4 pieces (or 6 pieces if you want smaller tortillas) for large tortillas. Gently shape into balls using the side of your hand and your fingertips to "pull" the dough from the sides to the bottom, cupping the ball and turning with your hand. This maneuver should also "pinch" the seam on the bottom together. Sprinkle with dough and return to bowl. Cover the pieces that aren't being used. 6. Don't be afraid to use flour. Dust the surface and rolling pin with flour, and keep a small mound off to the side. To keep the dough from sticking, I gave it two rolls, one on the top edge and one on the right diagonal. Then I lifted the dough and turned it counterclockwise to the side that I hadn't rolled yet and repeated the process until the desired size was reached, dusting with flour as needed.I learned that (duh) you don't want to roll the dough out to the size of the skillet, otherwise it won't fit, whereas an inch or two smaller than the skillet works perfectly.6.5. Stop to play with your cat when he decides he finally needs affection when you're busy.7. Normally, the skillet would be heated over a higher, hotter heat, but that doesn't give you room for error. Preheating the skillet over medium heat (or a tad higher) while rolling out the dough gives it time to heat thoroughly. When you place the dough in the skillet, it should immediately start to bubble. If not, raise the heat a little. Cook for about 15-30 second before flipping.The underside should have golden brown spots. If the heat is too high, the tortilla will brown too much and won't be as pliable after cooling. This side doesn[...]