Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pardon the Dust

If you are unable to see any of the pictures on the site, don't worry! I am in the process of switching over my hosting site, so things should be up and running sometime tomorrow. Hold tight and keep checking back!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Thin Mint Cookies

Oh. My. Has it been a while. Let's just say my life has exploded over the past few weeks. Between starting the subject recruitment and data collection for my thesis and then finding out that our landlord sold the house we're in (meaning, hey you have a month or so to find a new place!) things have been busy busy.

And busy busy means lots of macaroni and cheese and fast food for dinner. Blech. But we're not here to talk about dinner today. Today, we focus on cookies. Because cookies make everything better. (Maybe not perfect, but definitely better.)

Girl Scout cookie season is over. And I missed it. Much like I have the past few years. I totally need a reminder for these things. Maybe it's a good thing I don't know about when these sales occur though. I can go through an entire sleeve of Thin Mints in one sitting without even batting an eye. True story.

While debating what to serve for dessert for a baby shower I was hosting with a friend, we decided to go Girl Scout themed since the mom-to-be loves her some Samoas. But we couldn't just be happy with Samoas-flavored fudge -- we wanted variety, and because we have a problem with making too much food. But really, who doesn't love Thin Mints? If you don't, well, that's just information you need to keep to yourself.

Thin Mint Cookies
Adapted from: my Katrina's Kitchen

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

14 ounces mint-flavored dark chocolate candy melts

The the large bowl of a mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, mixing on low until just combined. Increase the mixer speed and continue to cream until well blended. Stir in the vanilla, salt, and both cocoa powders. Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time until fully incorporated. Mixture may be on the crumbly side.

Turn dough out onto a clean work surface, kneading together until smooth. Separate dough into 2 portions, flattening each into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking pans with parchment paper and set aside.

Remove one of the chilled dough disks from the fridge. Lightly dust counter with flour and roll dough out to about 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out cookies and transfer to a prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough until baking pan is full. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

While cookies are baking, prepare chocolate coating. Heat the chocolate melts in a small bowl according to package instructions. Stir every 20-30 seconds until chocolate becomes smooth. Dip each cooled cookie in the chocolate face down, then flip right-side up and remove from bowl, shaking any excess chocolate off (a fork works great here). Place on a wax paper covered baking sheet to set. Once the sheet is full place in fridge for about a 1/2 hour to finish setting the chocolate.

Makes: about 3 dozen cookies (serving size: 1 cookie)

Even though these took a little while to make, and even though I have a severe dislike for dipping things, I might have to concede that it was totally worth it. The cookies had just the right amount of firmness and the chocolate coating provided just the right amount of mint flavor. I dare say these might actually be better than the original. Except for the fact that the originals only involve me opening the package to eat them... but I digress.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 29g
Amount per serving
Calories 135Calories from fat 80
% Daily Value
Total Fat 8.9g14%
Saturated Fat 6.3g31%
Cholesterol 14mg5%
Sodium 90mg4%
Total Carbs 15.1g5%
Fiber 1.4g6%
Sugars 8.8g
Protein 1.6g
Vitamin A 3%Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 1%Iron 6%

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Riverside Genesis 10k Race Recap

Oh. Hi there.

Pardon the lull in posting this past week. I may or may not have been waterparkin' it up with these two little goobers.

But, but, when I got back from my week-long hiatus, I had a 10k race facing me. (We won't even get into the ridiculously hot and tiny workout room at the hotel or the parents who brought their children in to play around on the machines.) I had kind of taken it easy in the two weeks between my half and this race, and I was a little on the nervous side that I had lost some of my speed and endurance.

Going into the race, I set three goals for myself:

Goal #1:  48:00 (7:43 min/mi)
Goal #2:  46:00 (7:24 min/mi)
Goal #3:  Top 5 in Age Group

McMillian "Goal": 48:55 (7:52 min/mi)

Even though I was feeling slightly under-prepared, the day of the race came, and the weather was slightly chilly, but still great. I had specifically picked out this race based on the fact it was almost completely flat and ran along the river giving a nice scenic view. Perfect for a nice fast race.

Unlike my previous two races, Adam and my parents were going to participating with me (in the 5k) which was kind of a nice change. We arrived at the race nice and early (around 8:00am for a 9:00am start) in order to pick up our race bibs and chips and hop in the port-a-potty before the line got too ridiculously long (which it did).

Soon enough, though, it was time to head to the start. Adam and I wiggled our way in closer to the start than usual (keying off my start from my half). Once the gun went off (or when they shouted "go!") we soon found we probably could have started even farther up.

After the usual bob & weave for the first half mile, I kind of fell in pace with the other runners around me, while Adam took off. I came through the 1 mile around 7:33 - right about where I wanted. I'm not exactly positive what compelled me to speed up like crazy during mile 2, but I knew after seeing 6:43 on the clock I had to slow down. My stomach was starting to act up a bit and I was terrified of getting horrible cramps. Another girl was running about my pace, just ahead of me, and I told myself to just keep up with her.

Miles 3 and 4 came in right under 8:00 minutes each, and I had pulled up next to the girl and we continued to run together up until the very end of the race. Luckily, my stomach cramps went away somewhere between mile 3 and 4, which was a huge sigh of relief.

We picked up the pace in mile 5, coming through in 7:39, but I could tell I wasn't going to be able to hang on to the pace for much longer. Somehow I managed to keep up with her for the remaining mile, despite feeling like I was losing my endurance, and fast.

I wasn't able to see the finish until I was well within a quarter mile, which made judging when to start my "kick" a little difficult. Not that there was much of one anyway. But I gave what I had left and crossed the line with a chip time of


I may have missed hitting goal #2, but I was more concerned with beating goal #1 since it was faster than I was expecting to be able to go.

As for goal #3. See, chip timing is a funny thing. I was super excited to find out when they posted the results by clock time that I had finished 3rd in my age group (out of 66). However, it wasn't until they were announcing the awards that a girl who started and finished behind me actually beat me by 1 stinking second, putting me into 4th. As bummed as I was that I wouldn't be taking home a medal, I'm still thrilled that I ended up in the top 5.

What I was even more excited about, is that I unofficially smashed my previous 5k post-college PR. I came through mile 3 at 22:10, and adding roughly another minute for the 0.1 puts me at 23:10 -- an entire minute faster than my previous PR of 24:09 from back in October. And that rivals some of my times from running cross-country in high school. Woot!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Spicy Chicken Quesadillas

While the majority of food popping up in my reader as of late has been very Easter oriented, I am headed in the other direction.

Quick. Simple.



Okay, I don't even know if that's "the other direction", but whatevs. Doesn't matter.

What does matter, is that this is totally a weekday dinner. Nothing fancy to see here. It might not be fancy, but it totally gets the job done. Satisfying. Filling. Easy enough to get you in and out of the kitchen in 20 minutes or less and back to that comfy couch to zone out the rest of the night.

Spicy Chicken Quesadillas
Adapted from: my Cooking Light, January 2012

1 cup shredded cooked boneless skinless chicken breast
1/3 cup medium salsa
1/4 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 1/2 tablespoons pickled jalapeno peppers, chopped
8 (6-inch) flour tortillas
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

In a medium bowl, toss together chicken, salsa, beans, corn, and jalapenos. Spread 4 of the tortillas out on a work surface. Divide chicken mixture evenly between tortillas, spreading to cover. Sprinkle each quesadilla with 1/4 of the cheese. Top with remaining quesadillas.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Spray pan with cooking spray, then add one quesadilla to the pan. Cook for 1 minute on each side, or until golden brown. Transfer quesadilla to a plate and repeat with remaining 3 quesadillas.

Coat pan with cooking spray. Add 1 quesadilla to pan; cook 1 minute on each side or until golden. Remove from pan, and repeat with remaining quesadillas.

Serves: 4

For a quick and easy dinner, this was pretty tasty. I'm not going to lie here, it might not have been the downright tastiest quesadillas ever, but for the simplicity, I'd definitely make these again.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 133g
Amount per serving
Calories 281Calories from fat 109
% Daily Value
Total Fat 12.1g19%
Saturated Fat 6.3g31%
Cholesterol 56mg19%
Sodium 362mg15%
Total Carbs 21.7g7%
Fiber 3.7g15%
Sugars 1.6g
Protein 21.4g
Vitamin A 6%Vitamin C 1%
Calcium 25%Iron 9%

Monday, April 2, 2012

Half Marathon Training: Week #12 and 1/2 Marathon Race Recap

And it's race week! Or, well, was.

Sunday: Rest

Monday: 4 mile run
Kicked the week off right with a nice easy run. I didn't really push myself, just went with how I felt and ended up dropping about 30 seconds on my overall pace, which has slowly been creeping up as of late. Definitely refreshing to see heading into my race week.

Tuesday: 30 minute tempo run
Maybe it was purely psychological, knowing I was doing a shorter tempo run, but the run felt actually pretty easy and just flew by even though I held my "peak" pace for longer than I have been in previous runs.

Wednesday: 3.4 mile run
Surprisingly, a third good run in a row. Same principle as Monday -- just go with the flow -- and again, my pace dropped. Woot!

Thursday: Indoor Soccer Game

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 1/2 Marathon RACE RECAP
Of course, the previous couple weeks and days leading up to the race were unseasonably warm but the actual day of the race rolled around showing up with mid- to low-40s temps. I was actually happy that the temps were a little on the lower side, as it made my decision regarding my hydration belt much easier.

My previous two long runs with my belt had proved to been annoying and distracting, not something I particularly wanted during my race. BUT I am horrible at drinking out of cups while running... so it's a bit of a toss up for me. Since the weather was cooler, I was willing to take the risk of running without the belt and drink from a cup instead. (It also may have helped that was what I did for my 10 mile race a few weeks earlier.)

That decided, 6:00 rolled around nice and early Saturday morning. After some oatmeal and a few minutes to wake up, we were out the door by 6:40, picked up my running buddy (who was running the 30k version of the race) by 7:05, and were at the race around 7:30 or so. We made a straight beeline for the porta potties to help prevent any mid-race stops. (And a good thing we did -- the line got crazy long!)

10 minutes to race time we said our good-byes and wished each other luck (the 30k had a separate start and start time than the 1/2, 8.1mi, and 5k). I wandered down to my start to scope out where I should hop in. And then I remembered they actually had pace groups for this race.

Quick recap: I set three goals for myself for this race. One I knew for sure I could hit and still be okay with the time, a second one that would be more of a challenge and would really push me, and a third that is more like a pipe dream which would be awesome to hit, but mostly likely won't happen.

Goal #1:  2:00:00 (9:09 min/mi)
Goal #2:  1:55:00 (8:46 min/mi)
Goal #3:  1:50:00 (8:23 min/mi)

McMillian "Goal": 1:51:38 (8:32 min/mi)

Seeing as I came through my 10 mile race at a 8:24 min/mi pace, I figured these sounded like pretty decent goals. (To be clear - I've never raced a 1/2 before, but I have had "official splits" taken in longer races, with my best 1/2 time coming in at 2:05:32.)

Anyhoo, about those pace groups. I had completely forgotten this race had them. However, they only had them in 10:00 increments, so it was either go with the 1:50 group, the 2:00 group, or head out on my own as usual. I opted to switch up my tactics at the last minute and shuffle in next to the 1:50 group. Not that I had any hopes up keeping up with them the entire time, but at least I would start out at a decent pace and not too crazy fast.

A few minutes later, we were off. The first mile of any race is pretty crazy. Lots of bobbing and weaving. But for once, I actually lined up in the right spot and didn't have to dip and dodge any walkers or shufflers. Well, at least until the nice little 1/4 mile 7% grade hill about a 1/2 mile or so in. But I kept an eye on that 1:50 sign darting in and out of view and tried to keep up. Back down the other side and around a few more twists and turns and we crossed the mats after the first 5k in 25:28. The remaining 10 miles were the exact same as my 10 mile race (only in reverse) which involved two 5 mile loops.

I was feeling really great through mile 4, and actually started pulling away from the pace group sometime during mile 5. It then became my goal to stay ahead of the group for the remainder of the race (or at the very least keep up with it if they caught back up to me). I grabbed some water around mile 6, and as expected, ended up with half of it all over my face, but I did manage a few sips before tossing it aside.

8.1 miles came and went in 1:07:22, and I was starting to second guess my pace a bit. I slowed down to take a few sips of water right after crossing the mats, and I somehow managed to mess my pacing up. I ended up right behind two runners who seemed to be going at a decent clip, until I hit mile 9 in 9:29 and realized why it felt so nice.

Awkward side wave to the hubby going through the 8.1 mile mark

That pace refocused me and I just knew the pace group had to be right behind me at that point. Halfway through mile 10 I could hear them, motivating me to cut a minute off my pace. By the time I hit mile 10 I was really starting to feel my legs and starting to regret just going with how I felt in the first half of the race. But I knew I only had a 5k left, and surely I could hold the pace for 3 more miles.

So I pushed, and pushed, but by the time I hit the last turn into the final 1/2 mile, the pacer from the 1:50 group had caught me (though I'm not sure where the rest of the group went -- and looking at my splits, he had to have sped up as well). He wished me luck as I decided to give one last push, telling myself I had to get the last mile in under 8:00.

By the time I came around the final curve to the finish, I was running on empty. There wasn't going to be any crazy little sprint to the finish that I love to do. I'm not even sure I sped up at all. But I gave it everything I had left -- I saw that clock: 1:48:something. Seriously? Seriously? I was going to do it. I was going to break 1:50. I was going to beat Goal #3.

After crossing the line, taking down lots of water, and cheering on my running buddy as he finished out his race, they posted the official results. Chip time:


It's official. I beat Goal #3. The "impossible" goal. With a pace of 8:18 min/mi. I think it's pretty safe to say I was ecstatic.

Here's the breakdown according to my watch:
Mile 1 -  8:51
Mile 2 -  7:53
Mile 3 -  7:51
Mile 4 -  9:07
Mile 5 -  8:27
Mile 6 -  7:26
Mile 7 -  8:29
Mile 8 -  8:22
Mile 9 -  9:29
Mile 10 -  8:31
Mile 11 -  7:25
Mile 12 -  8:12
Mile 13 -  7:55
Mile 13.1 -  0:47

Um, yeah. Kind of all over the place, even with the pacer. But, I'm still pretty stoked that all but 2 miles were under my McMillan race pace of 8:32.

*Note: I'll update with more pics if/when they become available.

Up next? A 10k in 2 weeks. Rounding out my "race distances I haven't completed" goal for 2012.


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