Friday, March 30, 2012

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cinnamon Rolls

As of late I've been whining, and pouting, and stomping my feet that I've been in a cooking/baking funk. In a big way. So when Cindy from Once Upon a Loaf asked if I would be interested in participating in their Project PB&J, I hesitated.

Basically, Project PB&J is a sandwich and baked goods competition just in time for National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day on April 2nd. First, I think it's awesome that there is a PB&J day. And second, how on earth do people find out about these things?? I'm pretty sure I'm 99% out-of-the-loop on these details.

Long story short, I decided that forcing me out of my comfort zone by requiring an original recipe would be the swift kick in the pants I needed to get back in the kitchen. So, yes, I decided to go for the gusto and submit these babies for Project PB&J. While I'm debating whether or not it actually worked, I think I might just go back for some seconds on these rolls. Or maybe thirds.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from: my Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

1 cup warm 1 % milk (105-115 degrees F)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 1/2 cups bread flour

1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup peanut butter, slightly melted

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup strawberry jam (or jelly, any flavor works)
3 tablespoons 1% milk

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the milk, yeast, and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, or until the top of the mixture is foamy. Mix in the eggs, melted butter, salt, and remaining sugar. Slowly add in the flour, one cup at a time, until a soft dough forms. If using a stand mixer, switch out the paddle attachment for the dough hook, add any remaining flour, and knead on medium speed for 6-8 minutes. Otherwise, turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, add any remaining flour, and knead for 8-10 minutes, or until dough is slightly tacky and elastic.

Coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Shape the dough into a ball, then transfer to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place bowl in a warm, draft-free area and let dough rise until doubled, 1-2 hours.

While the dough is rising, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; set aside. Once the dough has doubled in size, turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Punch down, then let cover and rest for 10 minutes.

Roll dough out into a 16 x 21 inch rectangle. Spread 1/3 cup peanut butter evenly across the dough leaving a 1/4-inch margin on the shorter sides. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon mixture evenly across the butter. Starting from a short side, roll dough up, pressing the final 1/4-inch margin of dough gently into the roll to seal. Cut dough with a serrated knife into 12 slices. Coat a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Transfer the rolls to the pan. Cover pan with a towel and let the rolls rise until they have about doubled, 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake rolls for 15 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. Transfer pan to a baking rack to cool.

Meanwhile, beat milk and jam together until smooth. Slowly stir in the powdered sugar until fully incorporated. Drizzle glaze over warm rolls.

Serves: 12

Honestly, I was a bit on the worried side when thinking about how the cinnamon roll and PB&J flavors would mesh together. Ha, silly me. Cinnamon fits in with PB&J like it was meant to be there. No stopping to think, hey, what's going on here? upon first bite.

This recipe is a spin-off of my earlier Cinnabon clone cinnamon rolls, which were adapted from I used homemade strawberry jam, but I actually think the traditional Smuckers or other maybe-not-so-"real" jams might bring a tad more flavor to the party.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 145g
Amount per serving
Calories 451Calories from fat 92
% Daily Value
Total Fat 10.2g16%
Saturated Fat 4.4g22%
Cholesterol 46mg15%
Sodium 289mg12%
Total Carbs 82.2g27%
Fiber 2.5g10%
Sugars 32.0g
Protein 8.8g
Vitamin A 5%Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 7%Iron 15%

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Broccoli Rabe & Provolone Grinders

Now usually, I'm not a huge sandwich for dinner kind of person. I mean, sure, I've stopped my fair share of times at Quiznos or Subway for dinner, but most of the time I tend to think sandwich = lunch.

Every once in a while though... I change my mind. Or maybe I get in a sandwich mood and am just far too lazy to put that much work into my lunch. I'm only creative when it comes to dinner. True story.

But for some reason these grinders caught my eye. Maybe it was because they were chalk full of veggies and no meat? Definitely unprecedented in this house. As far and sandwiches go anyways.

Broccoli Rabe and Provolone Grinders
Adapted from: Bon Appetit, February 2012

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, undrained
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

4-5 pounds broccoli rabe (rapini), ends trimmed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil
20 cloves garlic (1 head), thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 6-8" French Rolls, cut in half lengthwise
8 slices Provolone cheese
1 red jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm 3 tablespoons oil. Add garlic and 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes to pan; cook 4 minutes, or until garlic is golden and fragrant. Stir in beans with liquid. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook 10 minutes, or until liquid thickens. Transfer to a food processor, adding 3 tablespoons oil. Process until smooth. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Cook broccoli rabe, 1 bunch at a time for 2 minutes, transferring to a baking sheet to cool, allowing water to return to a boil between batches. Once cool, squeeze dry and coarsely chop.

Drain pot and wipe out with a dry paper towel. Place back on stove and lower heat to medium. Add 1/4 cup oil, garlic, red pepper flakes; cook 2-3 minutes, or until garlic is golden and fragrant. Add broccoli rabe, cooking 4-5 minutes, or until stem pieces are just turning tender. Stir in lemon juice. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Transfer mixture to a rimmed baking sheet and let cool.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Open rolls and arrange face up on two baking sheets. Drizzle with olive oil. Spread bean puree on the bottom half of each roll, top with a slice of cheese, then chile slices. Toast rolls, 7-10 minutes, rotating pans after 5 minutes. Divide broccoli rabe evenly among rolls, slice, & serve.

Serves: 8

Man, for a sandwich, it's kind of a bit of work. You can definitely break it down into making the puree and blanching the broccoli rabe beforehand and storing it in the fridge... but I mean, really? For a sandwich? That's kind of overkill.

While it was tasty, I'm not sure I'd revisit this another time. I like my sandwiches quick and easy.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 470g
Amount per serving
Calories 835Calories from fat 260
% Daily Value
Total Fat 28.9g44%
Saturated Fat 7.2g36%
Cholesterol 29mg10%
Sodium 1368mg57%
Total Carbs 112.3g37%
Fiber 15.7g63%
Sugars 5.7g
Protein 39.7g
Vitamin A 196%Vitamin C 228%
Calcium 57%Iron 48%

Monday, March 26, 2012

Half Marathon Training: Week #11

Oh my goodness! I can't believe week 11 has already flown by and now it's on to the final week! The week overall turned out much better than expected, though there were definitely hiccups along the way.

Sunday: Rest

Monday: 5 mile run
While still not an awesome run, and there was still a bit of prodding to get myself not to cut it short, it was definitely an improvement from last week.

Tuesday: 10 x 400m speed work
After getting my legs properly warmed up during the first few 400's, the remaining one kind of flew by and I felt like I could have added on one or two more. Definitely surprising after the way I've been feeling the past few weeks.

Wednesday: 3.4 mile run

Thursday: Rest
Seeing as we had a full weekend scheduled and the weather was supposed to be crappy on Saturday, we bumped our long run up a day. Bye bye 50 minute tempo run.

Friday: 8 mile run
Annnnnd then the whole "great week of training" took a sharp nosedive. Right around mile 3. Right when I totally regretted not bringing my hydration belt because, oh I've done this mileage before without water and was fine even though it's at least 30 degrees hotter. Maybe 40. That was a brilliant maneuver.

And to think. I was actually feeling good in the beginning. But by mile 3 I was getting thirsty in that 85 degree heat. I ignored it the best I could, chowing down on some shot blocks around the 4-5 mile mark, borrowing some water from my running buddy to wash them down. I wanted to chug the entire bottle. (But I didn't.)

I hit mile 6 and I knew I couldn't keep the pace up. I stole a few more sips of water before slowing my pace down a bit. Mile 7 just proved to be even worse -- I could feel my mouth was ridiculously sticky from the shot blocks and my lips felt like they were beyond dry. Kind of gross actually. I knew I wasn't going to make 10 miles. I decided to make myself hit at least 8 before calling it quits.

Right about the turnaround point halfway through mile 7 my body just started shutting down. I felt like I was moving through molasses and had to fight really hard to keep from walking. How on earth I ended that final mile with a 9:30 pace I will never know. Needless to say, I took down a TON of water after shuffling my way back to the car.

Saturday: Rest

Can I just reiterate the fact I can't believe that the half is almost here? I'm a little on the nervous side (especially since by training has been lacking the past few weeks), yet a little on the relieved side. I'm definitely ready to get the show on the road and see how it turns out. Guess I'll find out in a few days!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Slow Cooker Tomato Soup

If there was one meal I could feed to Adam every day that he would never complain about, it would be grilled cheese and tomato soup. So much so that I've started stockpiling those red and white cans of tomato soup in the pantry for when one of "those days" rolls around. Right next to the blue box blues.

Yes, even my pantry has it's own dirty little secrets.

Like most things, the homemade version is way better than store-bought. However, also like most homemade things -- this takes a bit longer than the open-can-dump-in-bowl-place-in-microwave store-bought variety. Even in the slow cooker form.

BUT, if you're actually craving tomato soup and not just pulling it out of thin air as a last minute dinner option, then making it yourself is really the way to go. Trust.

Campbell's doesn't give you the option to leave things slightly chunky or ridiculously smooth. It doesn't have the extra nuance from the bay leaves, cayenne pepper, and sherry. And it most certainly doesn't have that lovely extra bit of creaminess, even if you use milk instead of water. It.just.doesn't.

But this does. And it's fantastic. Which is why you should really hope for a rainy day soon. I mean, if you really need that excuse and all.

Slow Cooker Tomato Soup
Adapted from: Pass the Sushi

2 tablespoons butter
3 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained and juices reserved
2 cups onion, diced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 dried bay leaves
1/2 cup light cream
2 teaspoons cooking sherry
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter. Stir in tomatoes (without juice), onion, sugar, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Cook until tomatoes become lightly browned and dry, 8-10 minutes. Whisk in flour and cook for an additional minute. Slowly pour in 1 cup chicken broth, whisking constantly. Pour tomato mixture into a slow cooker (with no plastic liner).

Add the remaining chicken broth, reserved tomato juice, and bay leaves, stirring to combine. Cover and cook on low, 4-6 hours.

Remove bay leaves and lower heat to "warm". Puree soup in the slow cooker with an immersion blender until smooth (or transfer in batches to a regular blender, then return to slow cooker). Add the cream, sherry, and cayenne and still until fully combined. Add additional chicken broth if soup is too thick.

Serves: 6

The only thing I forgot to do when making this was to throw in the rind from some Parmesan cheese to add another layer of flavor in this soup. Dang it. Next time. And according to the hubby, there will most definitely be a next time. If you happen to make this (which why isn't it on your to-make list already?), try it out for me and let me know how that goes. Just make sure to pull out any remaining rind before pureeing away.

Oh, and happy day -- the homemade version is actually lower in calories and sodium than the Healthy Request canned version (1 cup vs. 1 cup). A little more saturated fat, but I think taste totally trumps that in this case.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 388g
Amount per serving
Calories 144Calories from fat 67
% Daily Value
Total Fat 7.5g12%
Saturated Fat 4.5g22%
Cholesterol 21mg7%
Sodium 275mg11%
Total Carbs 17.0g6%
Fiber 3.5g14%
Sugars 8.9g
Protein 3.9g
Vitamin A 41%Vitamin C 50%
Calcium 5%Iron 8%

Monday, March 19, 2012

Half Marathon Training: Week #10

The last couple weeks I've mentioned that my training has started to take a nose-dive. Not exactly in effort (okay, maybe a little) but mostly in performance and "feeling". As in, I've been feeling tired, tight, and run down. Unfortunately, Week #10 didn't show any improvement on that front, and actually, got worse.

Sunday: Rest

Monday: 45 minute 30 minute tempo run
Knowing that I was "short a day" in my training this week, I decided to forgo my easy beginning of the week run and jump straight into my speed work to ensure that it was going to happen this week.

So, off to the gym I went. And by "went", I mean dragging-the-hubby-because-he-really-did-not-want-to-go. I should have just stayed home.

First off, it was about 1,000 degrees in the gym. There are two incredibly huge ceiling fans which were turning at about 1 revolution per minute. Not helpful. And it doesn't help that I'm usually "that sweaty kid" to begin with. But this time, it was just out of control.

Who wants to use the treadmill next?

The run actually started out okay, but about the time I hit the 20 minute or so mark, something was off. My stomach was starting to act all crampy and by the 25 minute mark it was turning into random shooting pains. This isn't the first time this has happened, but usually I'm outside and just slow down to a jog and push through. Yeah, doesn't really work when you're trying to do speed work. At the 28 minute mark it got to the point I had to slow to a walk crawl in hopes that the pain would go away and I could resume my workout. 6 minutes later, I gave my tempo run one more shot -- cranking it back up to speed. Which lasted a whopping 2 minutes before it all came back and I decided to call it quits for the day.

And that was just the start of my week.

Tuesday: 7 x 400m hill work
Since the weather was absolutely gorgeous, and I didn't actually do all my speed work the day before, I decided to bump up my hill work out a day to make sure it got done.

It actually wasn't too horribly bad until I hit hill #4. I'm pretty sure I was moving as slow as molasses in January, and had no motivation to go any faster, much less finish. Somehow, I talked myself into making it the rest of the way up by reminding myself that I only had 2 hills left (not counting the one I would walk) and it was my last hill workout before the race.

I've come to the conclusion that I need to find a new hill. I didn't think it was possible, but it's just too steep. Most programs recommend running at your 5k or 10k pace up the hill during the workout... yeah right. Not on this beast. On the bright side, I have 51 million other hills to choose from around here. :)

Wednesday: 5 mile run
I was tired, and wanted to quit most of the way, but luckily I ran into a friend heading into the final 1.5 miles which gave me a quick break to stop and chat. It was such a nice relief (especially since it was about halfway up my 1 mile climb portion).

Thursday: Indoor Soccer Game + Strength

Friday: 14 mile 10.5 mile run
Since I had a birthday party and was traveling this weekend, I ended up moving my long run up a day. The original plan was sneaking in a 14-miler before my taper, but it just wasn't meant to be. We started off a little faster than normal, but it felt like we were absolutely flying. And not in a good way.

Once we hit about mile 7, I knew I wasn't going to be able to keep up the pace for another 7. I wasn't even sure I could go for another 7. I started coming up with every excuse in the book to shorten my run, and not much else to motivate me to keep going. My legs were tired. I was dehydrated from not drinking enough throughout the week. My hydration belt was annoying the crap out of me. I already ran 13 miles the week before. Blah, blah, blah.

Suffice to say I talked myself out of 14, but I compromised with myself making sure I ran at least 10 before calling it quits. It was probably for the good in the end as I was starting to feel some of the same issues from Monday creeping back up and I'm not sure I would have been able to actually make it another 3.5 if that kicked in full force.

Saturday: Rest

Despite the numerous set-backs and feeling like crap for several of my runs, I did make it through the week. Only TWO MORE to go! I have officially ran my farthest long run, so it should be downhill from here. I can always hope that these next two weeks go much smoother than the past 3, but who knows what's going to happen.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A St. Patty's Day Feast

Ah, St. Patty's Day. One of my favorite adopted holidays.

I didn't always celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Well, minus the occasional wearing green and a mention in passing at school. Then I went to college.

Apparently St. Patrick is the Patron Saint of Engineers, so, yeah. We had a 10 day-long party which involved things like the Greenest Person, lots of shillelaghs and walking sticks seen around campus -- mostly involved in "killing" little plastic snakes, painting the street green, oh, and the best yet, 2 days off from class. Just for St. Patrick's Day. I

Needless to say, I will always have a soft spot for St. Patty's Day. I'm not usually a huge let's-celebrate-every-holiday! person (ahem, Valentine's Day), but for this, I make an exception.

You should put this down for your menu Saturday night. The stew works perfectly -- simmering away for 2 hours, giving you ample time to become preoccupied with other things, such as how fast you really have to drink that Irish Car Bomb before it curdles. Or just make the cupcakes instead so there's no rush on the intake.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Half Marathon Training: Week #9

As much as I wanted this week to be a 180 turnaround from last week, it just... simply.wasn't. It was more of an extension of the same tiredness and lack of motivation -- all the more reason I'm glad I chose a half marathon instead of a full to train for right now.

Sunday: Rest

Monday: 5 mile easy run

Tuesday: 9 x 400 speed work + Strength
Unfortunately, I had the same issue getting started with my speed work as last time. The first couple sets my legs felt tired and stiff and fairly uncooperative. Luckily, I made it to the halfway point before I started getting too antsy, which made counting down the sets a little more bearable.

It didn't help that I decided to eat an apple right before we left for the gym either. Apples and I do not have a very good relationship when it comes to pre-workout food. I end up with something along the lines of heartburn, but not quite. I keep telling myself that apples = bad (before a workout), now I need to start listening to my own advice.
Therefore, eating an apple before a run =
Let's take a closer look, shall we?
It's settled. No more apples before working out. For real this time.

Wednesday: 3.4 mile run
Definitely feeling the speed work from the day before.

Thursday: Indoor Soccer Game + Strength
I originally had a tempo run planned for today on top of my soccer game, but my body was honestly just dragging. Okay, and the fact that it was raining might have been an extra deterrent, but that's beside the point. Knowing that I was making a large (2.5 mile) jump in my long run this weekend kind of just sealed the deal for me -- I was simply going to rest and not go overboard with the training like last week. Even though it was kind of killing me inside that I wasn't going to get in one of my "key" workouts.

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 13 mile run
I really wasn't sure what to expect out of myself going into the run today. My hamstrings were tight (which has been pretty par for the course the past couple weeks), and the first few miles I felt sluggish and not in my "running rhythm". Not quite as bad as the previous week, but still, not how I'd like to be feeling.

I also added on a new friend this week for the run --
I decided to try out a hydration belt for the half. Last time I bought one (while training for a full marathon), it only had one bottle and bounced around like there was no tomorrow. Let's just say that one went back right away. I did kind of fuss around with the placement of the belt -- on the hips? or on the waist? I ended up going for the waist although it still puts pressure on my stomach which wasn't too noticeable until the end of our run. The hip placement felt better, except the bottles still bounced like crazy and felt like it was messing with my gait a bit.

Oh!Oh! And... the iMapMyRun app and I are no longer on speaking terms after this long run. I used to love this app since it had voice feedback, and it automatically updated my workouts online and I could go back through and see my pace at various parts of my run. Well.
Seriously? I mean, we're not even close here. It wasn't even just one random point off in the wrong spot like it usually is, the entire run was messed up. I'm tired of having to go back in and fix almost, and it's no longer reliable to depend on to make sure I'm running the correct distance. Heaven forbid I switch up the route mid-run and I haven't mapped it out ahead of time. It's time to move on.

So anyways. This week. A little two step shuffle of the workouts is in order since I need to get in my long run on Friday (rather than Sat). Hopefully, hopefully, my legs are feeling a little more fresh this week.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper & Pesto Risotto

I would like to know where pesto has been my entire life. Because it surely never existed to my knowledge prior to 3 years ago. What a sad little life I've led.

I have yet to have pesto in a dish where it didn't make it fabulous. On top of gnocchi, pasta, sandwiches, pizza, and shock! gasp! [insert horror face]! -- veggies. Okay, maybe not chocolate. That might be where I draw the line. But that still leaves a huge area of food left to be explored with the addition of pesto.

Let's start with risotto. Because it's comfort food. Because risotto and pesto both grew up in the same neighborhood, so they ought to get along (right?). Oh, and my favorite, because I can. (Well, that doesn't always mean I should, but in this case, absolutely.)

I suggest you get out there and put some pesto in your food. Specifically this risotto. Like yesterday.

Roasted Red Pepper & Pesto Risotto
Adapted from: Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker

5 cups fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
2 ounces goat cheese
1 cup grated Asiago cheese
1 (12 ounce) jar roasted red peppers, diced
1/2 cup basil pesto
2 ounces fresh baby spinach

Bring broth to a boil in medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low; cover saucepan.

Heat olive oil in a wide medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots; cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in rice, and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add 1 1/2 cups warm broth. Boil gently until broth is absorbed, stirring frequently. Add another 1 cup broth; stir until broth is absorbed. Add remaining 2 1/2 cups broth, 1/2 cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is tender and creamy, about 25 minutes. Add goat cheese, asiago cheese, roasted red pepper, and pesto, stirring until the cheese is completely melted. Toss in spinach and stir until fully combined and wilted. Transfer to bowl to serve.

Serves: 6

I think one of the best things about risotto, is that you can throw anything in it, and it will still be good. You could easily change out the spinach for broccoli, asparagus, or some other healthy creature or even add some form of protein such as shrimp or chicken and BAM! it's still good. Switch out the goat cheese for feta or/and the asiago for Parm or Romano? Still good.

Now, if only I didn't want to eat the entire pan in one sitting...

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 343g
Amount per serving
Calories 349Calories from fat 123
% Daily Value
Total Fat 13.7g21%
Saturated Fat 6.4g32%
Cholesterol 27mg9%
Sodium 884mg37%
Total Carbs 43.3g14%
Fiber 2.3g9%
Sugars 2.8g
Protein 12.6g
Vitamin A 62%Vitamin C 168%
Calcium 25%Iron 9%

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Individual King Cakes

Um, yeah, I DO know that Fat Tuesday was last week. I'm just slow. Okay? Don't hate.

And I might have gotten coerced into making these for hubby's work. Even though we don't celebrate Lent. Although Adam definitely doesn't mind it -- he loves him a good fish fry on Friday.

Since these were kind of a spur of the moment (and oh-by-the-way, I know it's after dinner, but can you make this for tomorrow?) type of thing, I of course didn't have the right topping decor handy. So I sent the hubby to the store and he came back with, well, not the right sprinkles. To be fair, it was all they had, and it was too late to go elsewhere, so these little cakes didn't turn out overdosed in Mardi Gras glory. (AKA smothered and covered in purple, green, & yellow.) It happens.

Individual King Cakes
Adapted from: &

1 cup 1% milk
1/4 cup butter
4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 (8 ounce) packages reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1 egg
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons 1% milk

In a small saucepan, scald milk. Add 1/4 cup butter and stir. Set aside and let come to room temperature.

In the large work bowl of a mixer, combine the yeast, warm water, and 1 tablespoon sugar. Let stand for 10 minutes, or until the top is foamy. Stir in eggs. Beat in 1/2 cup sugar less 1 tablespoon, kosher salt, and nutmeg. Slowly add in flour, 1 cup at a time until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead for 8-10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic, then form into a ball.

Coat a large bowl with non-stick spray, and place the ball of dough in the bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and set bowl in a warm, draft-free spot until dough has doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

While dough is rising, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the egg, 3/4 cup sugar, and vanilla, mixing until creamy.

Once dough has risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and punch down. Divide dough in half. Separate each half of dough into 8 balls. Roll each dough ball out, one at a time, into a 1/4-inch thick square. Cover remaining dough with a towel. Place 2 tablespoons of filling into the center of the square. Fold dough over filling and seal well, so no filling is exposed. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cover with a towel. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Let buns rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake rolls for 30 minutes. Push a plastic food-safe baby doll into the bottom of one roll.

Meanwhile, whisk together the powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 2 tablespoons milk. Drizzle over each roll and top with sprinkles (traditional Mardi Gras colors are green, purple, and yellow).

Serves: 16

Many commenters on the original recipe claimed that this version "tastes just like the real thing!" Which of course means make-me-now. The actual "cake" itself was perfect for a breakfast sweet roll, although I have to admit I wasn't a fan of the nutmeg in it. I know you New Orleaners out there are clutching your pearls at the thought, but... I'm going to play my "I'm not from there" card on this one, slowly back out of the room, and run away before you can chase me with pitchforks.

As for the filling. Eh, not a fan. Even though there was only one egg in it, I kept thinking how eggy it tasted. But, that is an easy fix. Or switch to another type of filling, such as brown sugar and pecans or something of that nature.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 357g
Amount per serving
Calories 585Calories from fat 304
% Daily Value
Total Fat 33.8g52%
Saturated Fat 20.3g102%
Cholesterol 103mg34%
Sodium 1063mg44%
Total Carbs 47.2g16%
Fiber 3.2g13%
Sugars 2.4g
Protein 26.1g
Vitamin A 36%Vitamin C 25%
Calcium 39%Iron 28%

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Half Marathon Training: Week #8

Coming off my "racing high" from last week, I had pretty high expectations for this week. However, apparently I suck at arranging my runs to hit my intended distance (whether ahead of time or on the fly) and ended up short on a couple. Frustrating as that is, it honestly ended up being only about 1/2 mile short total, so I can't be too awful mad about it.

Sunday: Rest

Monday: 4.4 mile easy run
I felt surprisingly good for only two days post-race. A little bit on the tired side, but that was to be expected.

Tuesday: 4 mile easy run
I originally had this run scheduled for Wednesday, but I had the rare opportunity to go for a run with one of my friends at a different park, so of course I jumped on it. Can I just say how impressed I am with her still running at 25 weeks pregnant? Of course it involved one pee stop (which is to be expected), but seriously? I just hope I can have that kind of motivation and willpower when I'm pregnant.

Wednesday: 6 x 400m hill workout + Strength
I went back and forth all morning debating which speed work to do on Wednesday after waking up to heavy rain. Surprisingly, things cleared up by the early afternoon and the temps hit the mid 60s so that made the choice easy. Outside to the hill I went.

I trudged up and down that dang hill 5 times at a run then once more at a walk. By the time I made it outside it was about that time of day when the kiddies were getting dropped off by the buses from school and I had to run by the crossing guard 20 million times. I know exactly what she was thinking, too:

I might just have to agree with her.

Thursday: 40 minute tempo run
I was a little worried about this run as I was still hearing about the previous day's hill workout from my hamstrings and glutes. But I was determined to get both my hard workouts in this week, so I drug the hubby to the gym (totally against his will) and pushed through. I started out with an easier 9:13 pace for the first 5 minutes, dropping to 9:05 for the next 5, gradually building to a 7:54 pace by 32:30, then dropping back to 9:05/9:13 for the final 5 minutes.

Friday: 2 Indoor Soccer Games
Um, yeah. So this was supposed to be my "easy" day. 1 game. Until I got a call from the hubby asking if I would be willing to play for another team in an earlier game. In a lower division on the open (no boards) field. Sure. Why not? Then I found out it was against a higher division team. Sweet. So chalk that up for a third hard day in a row.

Saturday: 10.6 mile run
I woke up Saturday morning pretty much exhausted from the past few days. This did not bode well for my planned 12 mile run. As I have a few extra weeks to play with before my half, I knew running a 12 miler wasn't absolutely critical today. I figured I would start the run, then decide how I felt.

Crappy. That's how. At least for the first 6 miles. The majority of our run consists of out and back portions, which doesn't really bother me, except when it's crazy windy out. Which is exactly how it was on Saturday. Going into the wind really started draining me from the get-go, which didn't help the fact that I really just wanted to curl up on the couch and do nothing all day.

I decided at the very least I would aim for 10 miles, tacking on an extra bit right before the turn around about mile 7 for 11 miles if I felt like it. And maybe even add on an additional mile (to make 12) if some miracle happened and I was feeling amazing. Well, I did actually feel strong enough to add on the first bit, but slightly miscalculated the extra distance I was adding and wound up shorting my goal by about 0.4 miles. Oh well.

So, goal for next week? Actually running the right amount of mileage, and not overdosing on speed work!

Gotta say though, I'm pretty happy with how my training over the month of February has panned out. I have to admit, I think the very mild weather we've had has helped a ton!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Who wants a cookie?

For a good cause? Even better!

Head on over to Steph's Bite by Bite bake sale to bid on some fabulous treats to help raise money for Team in Training (Leukemia & Lymphoma society).

You can bid on my amazingly awesome Peanut Butter Oreo Cookies or choose from 30 other items! Bidding starts at $15 and runs through tomorrow morning!


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