Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tux and Pucks!

Well, the hubster and I are off to close out 2011 in a stylish way....a battle of the sexes combo of hockey (manly) along with dressing up (the wifely concession, Ill call it).  Tux and pucks, here we come!
My dress.....(apparently, you CAN wear bridesmaid's gowns twice)
 Hubster's striped....and yes, with a blue vest and yellow tie!
The tix.....(thanks to my Buffalo Santa Elf!)
Last 8 mile run in the books, now it's time to get snazzy...out to dinner, then to the game!  What are your plans for the evening? Have a wonderful New Year's Eve....let's send out 2011 with a bang and move on to the best year yet....2012!

Friday, December 30, 2011

2012...ready or not, here it comes!

Wow, is there really only one day left in 2011?  It seems that the year has flown by!  The good, the bad, the ugly....2011 was a pretty epic year, but to level with you....I'm ready for 2012.  There's something cathartic about a new year that I embrace....even though its likely that my "resolutions" will fizzle out before January is over, it's fun to make them and see what happens!  (and also realize that now they are on the Internets, thus I am more accountable....muahaha)
Without further Ado....2012....Bring it on!

2012 Rezzies

Mind:  Learn how to destress-make yoga a 2x a week priority, journaling before bed so that I can get a decent night's sleep and "put my worries away:.

Body:  This one has two parts.  
Staying active - I look forward to exploring new frontiers (trail racing!) and planning a run centered season for 2012 (giving tri's a break this year!)
Eating-my huge one.  I'm pretty fit, but have some bad habits when it comes to my sweet tooth.  I'm going to try intuitive eating, which I think might help with my mindless snacking habit.  This one's a biggie, and I know that I need some sort of plan with steps rather than a broad goal.  This is my January focus.

Soul- Trying to find balance here.  Spending more time with friends (Ironman will kill your social life), re-connecting with some long lost family members, and then two the biggies close to home:  Spending more QT with the hubster (weekly date nights) and also more QT with myself.  Sound weird?  It's not.  I'm a major introvert, so time with me is super important for my sanity.  I assume yoga will go hand in hand with this!

And of course, I have some numeric/black and white goals (for fun!)

1.  Run 4 half marathons, preferably one trail.
2.  Fit back into my skinny jeans (i gained 5 pounds this year)
3.  Beat my 5k PR (22:45)
4.  Read the Hunger Games trilogy
5.  Learn conversational Spanish (equivalent of 101!)
6.  Plant a veggie garden

I'm sure there are more, but I think that's a good start!  Oh...speaking of goals, the hubster and i DID finish our 100 mile treadmill goal a few days ago- 46 miles for me, 54 for him.  I'm sure there's a new goal coming up next month!

What are your resolutions or goals for 2012?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Superlatives

One more post related to 2011....then it's time to look forward :-)  Promise.  Now that I've figured out that I've been to Africa....let's look at the journey!

Best of 2011 (according to me, of course!)

Chesepeakeman/Ironman 2011- Swampin' and an HOUR PR!
National Marathon: 30 minute marathon PR!
Unity Half Marathon:  New PR...10 seconds off breaking 1:50!

Bright Spots:

The Yummiest:
Butternut Squash Fries (simple, but easily one of my faves)

Most Informative:
How to Play for Less: (Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3) (Part 4)

I've learned so much this year and had so much fun blogging about it...
here's to more fun and better blogging in 2012!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011- A Numerical Perspective

Well, now that we've gone through that whole Christmas Roadshow, eaten our weight in cookies (oh, that was just me?  My bad.) and had our fill of presents, heavy dinners, and Aunt Edna's tsk tsk'ing, it's time to move along to the last steps of 2011-New Year's Rockin' Eve!  What's on your agenda, anything exciting?
The Hubster and I are going out, for once :-)  We usually host the party if there is one, but this year we're headed out to Buffalo for Tuxs and Pucks- a Sabres game where the guys dress up in Tuxes and the girls in cocktail dresses.  Sweet! It seems the perfect balance-violent hockey paired with elegant evening wear, no?  All I can say is that whoever thought of this one is a marketing genius-makes both the guys and girls happy :-)
Moving on....
Well, as NYE approaches, it's time to look back at 2011 before framing 2012.  Let's start with the easy stuff....numbers!

2011 by the Numbers

1.  Running Races - 2 half marathons, 1 full marathon, 1 ten miler, 1 5 miler, 1 4.4 miler
2.  Triathlons:  1 Sprint, 1 Olympic, 1 Half Ironman, 1 Full Ironman
3.  Duathlons:  1 Formula 1 Du (my birthday!)

Number of PRs: 4.  Super proud of PRing massively in both the Ironman and Marathon.  Need to work on the HIM distance....I love it immensely, but right now it does not love me back.  Hey, life would get boring if there weren't ways to improve :-)

Y'all know I race to in, I love training.  Tons.  I do enjoy racing, but it's not a carrot to keep me active.  Working out is a stress reliever for me.  Now, if only chocolate and peanut butter weren't the same things.... AHEM.  Miles.
Miles Swum: 253 (and some change, but we'll round down)
Miles Biked:  4500 (as of today....might throw a few more in :-))
Miles Run:  1026 (wowza)
Treadmill Miles:  46 (walked)

All in all, aside from cross training (yoga, kickboxing strength), I traveled  5825 miles this year with my own engine power.  In terms of relativity....that's further than the distance between Rochester. NY and Cairo, Egypt (5610 miles).  Yikes.  Or, for US purposes.....the distance to Florida and back.  3 times. It's also nearly as far as I've driven my car this year (6400 miles).
Wow.  I need to get a life.  Wonder what I can do next year?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Picture Perfect Christmas

They say it all!

I hope your holiday was as wonderful as ours.  
Merry to the last few days of 2011!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Santa came!

Time for.....
Italian Sauce, Sausage pie, and moooore cookies!
And fun, love, and togetherness :-)
But first....a lil somethin' somethin' to get us started....
Christmas Breakfast :-)  
I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday....back tomorrow with all the goodies. 
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia!

Or, as the Polish say, "Merry Christmas"!  
Today is all about the Polish tradition. (Well, this afternoon/evening).  The hubster and I got the house  ready for tomorrow (we host), got our workouts in, watched the Panthers Kitties WIN! and then headed out to start out traditional Polish Celebration.
The meal:  Cream of Mushroom Soup, Coleslaw, Pierogies, Tilapia, Root veggies, tater fries.  It all has to do with what foods used to be available in Poland during the winter, and in Catholic Tradition, is meat free.
First, we start with the Oplatek, or, blessed bread.  My cousin Karen (our matriarch!) says a prayer, and each person takes a piece and shares bits of it with other family members, wishing good blessings.
Then, we feast!

Post dinner, the tradition is....Christmas cookies!  But first, we must eat prunes.  Someone tells me it's tradition.  I'm not buying.  But it's fun to kid about who got more prunes and who will actually admit to being able to choke them down.  No prunes= no cookies.  It's the rule!
Then...the good stuff!!
Bellies full and hearts full of family love, we then head off to Midnight Mass at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church.  The service is a mix of English and Polish service, and is just beautiful.  Bedtime- 2a.m.  After all, Santa can't come if we aren't asleep!
Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Polish Prep

Every year on Christmas Eve, the hubster and I congregate with my maternal grandmother's family and enjoy a traditional Polish Christmas Eve feast.  What is that?  Cream of Mushroom Soup, Tilapia, Homemade pierogie, roasted potatoes, roasted carrots, coleslaw, and cookies for dessert (well, after the obligatory prunes.  But that's another story).  I suppose, like any other nationality, it's an acquired taste.  Then, full of good homemade food, we venture to Midnight Mass with my uncle and listen to the Polish Christmas Carols.  It's tradition.  And a tradition I love.
My cousin Karen is kind enough to not only host a dozen of us every year, but she makes most of the meal from scratch, including the pierogies.  A few years ago, I decided to learn how and joined her the day before Christmas Eve to learn...and now, a glass bottle of wine among two cousins and pierogie making the day before Christmas Eve is another tradition I love.
 First you make the dough....
 Then you cut out the pierogie shapes (and make sure you have wine!)
 Then you roll out each circle, fill with cheese/potato mixture, and form a pierogie!
(with wine, again)
 Perfect little dough guys
 Boil them in water....
 And make a massive pierogie with the leftovers!  (To be boiled...then rebaked tomorrow!)
Then try to convince your Polish Mom to modernize it with bacon. 
(Yep, she'll gave.  All traditions start somewhere, right? :-P)

Do you have any fun family pre-holiday cooking/baking traditions?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sugar Coma

...and I'm done.  No more cookies!  Well, unless I make the Italian pizzelles.  But that's just frosting on the cake.  Hardee har. Moving on.
Last night, I finished off the holiday baking with 3 more kinds of cookies:

1.  Peanut Butter Thumbprints
     1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. peanut butter
1 egg
1 1/4 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
In large bowl, combine sugar, brown sugar, butter and peanut butter. Beat in egg. Add in flour, baking soda and powder and salt. Roll into balls.Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.  Wash your hands.  Place your thumb in the middle of each cookie to make a dent!  Cool for 30 minutes, dollop strawberry jam in the center of each.  Makes 3 dozen PBJs.....yum.  I feel like I'm 5 again!

Cookie # 2....Snickerdoodles with a Twist!

Once again, we start with basic sugar cookie dough....but add in 3/4 c cinnamon chips!  Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (1 tbsp cinnamon and 1/4 c sugar mixed) while still warm.  Let cool on wire racks.  Makes 4 dozen.

Last but not least....meringues!!  I have a love affair with these babies (yeah, the hubster is used to my shenanigans).  They are light, airy, sweet, and somewhat sinless at 22 calories each....yup, you heard right.  Not by any means a health food, but somewhat better than a piece of fudge.  Wait, fudge?  I should make some....ahem.  Okay, sorry about that.  Back to MERINGUES.  Now, you want to make these babies at the end of your baking spree....not only do they need a low temp oven and hella long to bake, but you actually want to turn the oven off halfway through baking.  These are often called "forgotten" cookies, because you SHOULD NEVER open the oven to check them...and because they take so long, you might forget you made them!  (Don't worry.  I didn't).

Airy Meringues
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
Dash Salt
1 tsp. Vanilla
4 egg whites, room temp.
1 tsp cinnamon
Note-these are possible without an electric mixer, but so much easier with!!  Beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form (should look foamy....about 3 minutes on high).  Add in sugars, salt, vanilla and cinnamon a little bit at a time, beat on high for about 6 minutes or until glossy peaks form (see above for "glossy peak" picture.  Turn the oven on to 250.....drop by teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets (you'll need 4!) and bake for 50 minutes.  Turn the oven OFF.  Keep the cookies in the oven as it cools, for at least an hour.  NO PEEKING!  Makes about 5 dozen cookies (you might want to half the recipe if you don't have enough sheets...these need to bake all in one batch.)  Yummy.

Ok, I surrender.  I'm done.  Cookie overload.  Now....onto Mama TFB's to help her bake.  But I'm battling the sugar coma and running there.  11.78 miles on foot buys me at least that many cookies.  Ready, set....go!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Color of the Season

Well, one of 'em, anyways!  I'm back to my cookie monster ways....who needs more sugar?  No one?  Fine.  Who wants more sugar?  Yup, that's what I thought.  Lets DO IT!
Cookie #1: Red Velvet cookies!  Confession.  These are somewhat of a cheat.  I saw the recipe online (nope, not my own) and it even called for cheaters cookie mix...though I tweaked it to fit what I had on hand!  Ah well.  See, I don't like Red Velvet cake, but Mama TFB adores it, so I made these for her.  The hubster gave them two thumbs up.  (I cram food in his mouth quite a bit :-P)

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz)  sugar cookie mix
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1 tablespoon red food color
1 egg
1 cup cream cheese frosting
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Mix together first 6 ingredients until smooth dough forms.  Drop by spoonfuls on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 9-11 minutes at 375.  Let cool on wire racks for at least 30 minutes.  Grind nuts (I have a cool grinder but the ole rolling pin to a zip lock bag works).  Frost.  sprinkle with nuts.  Heaven.
Cookie #2....Almond Crescents!  These are Uncle Alan's faves, and, let's face it, he's a pretty cool guy, so we're gonna give him the cookies he likes!  These guys are pretty simple.  Take your basic sugar cookie recipe, add in 1/2 cup cornstarch, and  one cup ground almonds. Roll  dough into one inch logs, shape into crescents.  Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.  Let cool completely, dust with confectioner's sugar.  Makes about 5 dozen.

Yum, yum yum!  And since my toosh spent 2 hours on the trainer this morning watching White Christmas, guess who's gonna "sample" these babies to make sure they are safe to serve?  (hint-it's not the hubster). 

One more day of cookies then its partay time!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Were you good this year?

Have you been a good good boy/girl this year?  Well, don't ask me.....ask Santa! Yesterday, the hubster got a video from.....SANTA himself!  Woah.
Don't believe me?  Check it out for yourself!  I found this on Meghann's blog yesterday, and then proceeded to waste an hour of my life sending out videos ahem, I mean, talking to Santa about the good little boys and girls that surround me.  Wanna make someone laugh?  (yourself included) Go for it!  Santa told Greg that he was such a good boy for farting less and that his wife appreciated it.....bahahahaha.  A plus rating from my house :-)
Santa also let's you know if you'll get what you asked for (you can keep it a surprise if you don't want it ruined....of course, a good PR is always a solid gift :-D)  Give it a try!

Better let the guy in the red suit know what you want, cause you never know what you might get otherwise....
Have a great night!  More cookies up- Red Velvet and Almond Crescents....YUM!

Monday, December 19, 2011

6 dollar meal!

We are officially on sweets hiatus for one day.  Sugar high, my foot....though my mouth loves every second of Christmas, my tummy (and pants) digress sometimes.  So, we bring you this public service announcement....
Thank you. knew there was more.  If you hail from western New York,( and now PA and VA and spreading!) you know of the monstrosity that is Wegmans.  If you are a visitor, you know Pittsford Wegmans, the godfather of all grocery stores in WNY.  Seriously, it's a tourist attraction.  Ask Alec Baldwin.  Ahem.  For all you non locals, Wegmans is a grocery store that has (duh) groceries, Chinese food, subs, bulk bins, organic food, pastries, and a hot bar (I'm probably missing more).  There are several dozen stores in Rochester, and the age old joke is that people go there for entertainment on a Friday night.  I'm not that hard up.  But they do have a cool concept on their hot bar called "6 dollar meals"-a main course and two sides for 6 bucks, served hot and fresh.  The good stuff, too.  Like Chicken French, Eggplant parm, lasagna, etc.  My Uncle swears by this stuff, and the few times I've had it, it's been pretty good!  But who has time to go to weggies amidst all the cookies flying around my kitchen?  Not me!  Let's check out the fridge and my pantry for insight.....voila-veggie lasagna, made for 6 dollars total (via bargain shopping, of course!)

Veggie Lasagna

1 bunch kale ($.67)
8 oz shredded mozzarella (clearance find, $1.00)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes ($.99)
1 container Philly Cream spread with Italian seasonings ($1.00, clearance)
6 slices turkey bacon ($.75 clearance (no joke)
1 tbsp garlic, minced ($.50)
1 onion, diced ($.25)
 = $6.45

Mix cream cheese spread and 6 oz of cheese in a bowl.  In a pan, saute onion, garlic and kale until soft.  Pan fry bacon until semi cooked, drain on paper towels.  In a 9 x 11 pan, spread in layers - tomatoes, noodles, cheese mixture, veggies.  Repeat x 2.  after the final layer of noodles, add on bacon, more sauce, and remaining 2 oz of cheese.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 1 hour.  remove foil and bake 10 more minutes, then broil for 5 to brown cheese.  Serves 4 hungry dudes (or dudettes).

The finished product?
No pictures.  The hubster did a face plant in the lasagna before I could get a shot. 
Or I am a bad blogger and I forgot.
You decide which.
Back to our regularly scheduled cookies tomorrow :-D
Night friends!