It’s that time again… half marathon time. I ran my first half marathon almost exactly a year ago at the Cellcom Half. I still remember how horrible it was. It was hot. Way too hot. I am still, to this day, thankful for all the residents who had their sprinklers out, to all the volunteers who had endless cups of water and Gatorade, and to myself for wearing a water belt.
I’m hoping this year will be cooler. The forecast for Sunday went from sunny to thunderstorms and it’s currently at partly cloudy with a high of 76°F. I have my fingers and toes crossed that it stays that way.
My second half (Honky Tonk Half) was no better. I ran it too soon after my first full and ended up with a stress fracture in my right foot. I am so thankful that my sister was willing to push all of her hard training aside and walk by my side for the last 6 miles. The best part of not being able to run? We were able to get awesome pictures like this:
Photo taken by: TRC Photo
Note the lack of sweat and the smiles on our faces. Now compare that to my typical race photo where I look like this (in the pink tank):
(It just so happens that this photo was taken during Cellcom last year. SO HOT!)
So, here goes half #3. I’m still not quite sure why I get so worked up before a race. I go through this before every.single.race regardless of the distance. I get angry at myself for not training hard enough, not running fast enough, for having such a sensitive stomach, and for getting injured so frequently. It’s almost like my body is telling me “STOP RUNNING”, but I refuse to. I’m 100% certain that running is the only reason I’m still (somewhat) sane.
I’m mentally preparing myself this time by picking up my race packet tonight, and then going out for dinner and drinks at Hinterland. Saturday I’ll relax with some yoga, gardening, laying out my clothes, and making sure my watch and iPod are fully charged.
I’m trying to keep in mind that I’ve logged my miles by running dutifully 3 or 4 days a week. This year I actually cross trained with yoga 2 – 3 days a week, biking, and weights. My training calendar has the proof that I am ready. Now I just need to make myself believe it.
So, here goes nothing!
Posted in Run | Tagged running | 4 Comments »
I rarely crave cake. When I do, it’s usually one of two types: a white cake with a strawberry filling or a chocolate cake with nuts.
So German chocolate cupcakes? They totally hit the spot.
These bad boys were a two day project for me. It all started on Sunday night after a long, long day. I baked the cupcakes and decided that I was simply too exhausted to deal with them any more. I let them cool, scooped them out of the pans, and covered them before collapsing in bed.
On Monday morning, I got ready for work as fast as I could and whipped together the chocolate ganache and coconut-pecan filling for the cupcakes. After cooking them, I scooped them into bowls and let them hang out for the day while I went to work. After a crazy day at work, I finally got around to decorating and photographing them. Phew!
A few lessons I learned along the way:
- These cupcakes are fragile. I almost threw them all away after I spent what seemed like a million hours carefully removing them from the cupcake pans. I’ll probably opt to use cupcake liners in the future, even though it won’t look as nice.
- Splitting this into a 2-day project was smart. The cupcakes were still very moist the next day (and for days after).
- These are delicious (and dangerous to have around). How good are they? Well, I took the cupcakes that I failed to remove in one piece and layered them in a ramekin with the filling and ganache to create a little German chocolate cake parfait of sorts. I couldn’t bear to throw any of the goodness away.
- The recipe from the box can be trusted!
- German chocolate cupcakes >> German chocolate cake
German Chocolate Cupcakes
adapted from Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate Box, makes 30 cupcakes
for the cupcakes:
1 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 ounces German chocolate
1/2 cup water
4 egg whites
4 egg yolks
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
for the coconut-pecan filling:
5 egg yolks
12 ounces evaporated milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup butter
2 1/2 cups unsweetened flake coconut
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
for the chocolate ganache:
12 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 pint whipping cream
To make the cupcakes:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease cupcake pans and set aside.
- Mix together milk and lemon juice in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Heat chocolate and water in a large bowl for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until chocolate is melted.
- In a medium bowl, beat egg whites with a mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form.
- In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt.
- In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each. Mix in melted chocolate and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture alternately with the milk, beating well after each addition.
- Gently fold in egg whites until well combined.
- Fill prepared cupcake pan no more than half full. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Immediately run a small spatula along the edges of the cupcakes to loosen. Allow to cool in the pan 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the coconut-pecan filling:
- Beat egg yolks, milk, and vanilla in a large saucepan with a whisk until well combined. Add sugar and butter and cook over medium heat for 12 minutes or until mixture has thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Stir in coconut and pecans until well combined. Let cool to room temperature before use.
To make the chocolate ganache:
- Place chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring cream to a boil. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate. Stir until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Let cool to room temperature before use.
To assemble the cupcakes:
- Carefully cut cupcakes in half horizontally. Spread a spoonful of coconut-pecan filling onto the bottom half. Place the top of the cupcake on and spread more coconut-pecan filling on top. Place the chocolate ganache into a piping bag fit with a medium or large star tip. Pipe ganache onto the top of the cupcake and garnish with a pecan, if desired.
Posted in Food | Tagged cake, chocolate, coconut, cupcakes, dessert | Leave a Comment »
I’ve got a storm of baked goods comin’ your way. I would apologize for not posting healthier foods or main dishes, but I’m really not sorry. If you want someone to blame, you can start with Mothers’ Day. And then birthdays. Because all those occasions require baked goods. And when they all fall within a few days of each other… well, I end up pumping out a lot of goodies from my tiny kitchen.
I’ll start off with a lightened up lemon yogurt cake. I loved how light and spring-y this cake was. I’ve mentioned in the past how much I love lemons and their tartness. The next time I make this cake I will bump up the zest to 3 lemons and I’ll consider using a lemon-flavored Greek yogurt as well. I may double the glaze as well – I couldn’t get enough of that stuff! My sister liked it so much that she ate the top off a slice of the cake, leaving behind a sad naked slice. Rude
Lightened Up Lemon Yogurt Cake
adapted from Ina Garten
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8.5″ loaf pan with butter. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter and flour the pan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large bowl, beat together yogurt, 1 cup sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir gently to combine. Mix in canola oil until combined.
- Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake in preheated oven for 45 – 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Meanwhile, combine remaining 1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup lemon juice in a small pan. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
- When cake is done, let cool in pan for 10 minutes before placing on a wire rack over a sheet pan . Using a toothpick, pierce top of cake several times. Pour lemon-sugar syrup over warm cake. Allow cake to cool completely.
- To make the glaze: in a small bowl combine lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth. Pour over cake.
Posted in Food | Tagged cake, dessert, fruit, lemon, quick and easy | 3 Comments »
There’s something about a perfect burger that just screams “summer”! Even though it’s only spring, and even though it’s been a fairly cold spring so far, this burger made everything a-okay. I forgot for a few hours that summer was still forever away. Mike and I enjoyed these burgers with some grilled asparagus, grilled potato wedges, and of course, some fresh whisky sours.
Whiskey BBQ Burgers with Caramelized Onions & Cheddar
for the whiskey barbecue sauce:
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup bourbon
for the caramelized onions:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1 teaspoon brown sugar
for the burgers:
1 pound ground beef
salt and pepper
4 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
4 kaiser rolls, lightly toasted
- To make the whiskey barbecue sauce: combine all barbecue sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes, or until thick.
- To caramelize the onions: heat olive oil and butter in a medium pan over medium-low heat. Add in onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add in brown sugar and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are caramelized and soft, another 10 – 15 minutes.
- To make the burgers: shape beef into 4 even patties. Make a depression in the middle of each patty with your thumb. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a grill to high heat and cook burgers until slightly charred and browned on one side. Flip and cook burgers on second side until browned and slightly charged. Top with sliced cheddar cheese during last minute of cooking.
- To assemble burgers: place a patty onto the bottom of roll. Slather with barbecue sauce and top with a heaping spoonful of caramelized onions. Top with other side of the roll and serve immediately.
Posted in Food | Tagged beef, cheese, grill, main dish, meat | Leave a Comment »
There are two liquors I love – gin and whisky. Gin has been a favorite since my college years. I could almost always be found with a cup of gin and something in my hand. That lead to my nickname Ginni Li, a twist off my maiden name of Jenni Li. My love for whisky didn’t start until I had a whisky sour in Mexico on our honeymoon. One sour led to two… to three… Basically it was a drink an hour for the entire duration of our week-long honeymoon.
This particular version of the drink changed my view on whisky sours. Never again will a bar-made whisky sour of Kessler and sour mix taste good. I’m kind of upset that I made these because it’s ruined all other whisky sours to me. Nothing will ever match up to the deliciousness of this drink. Ever.
Fresh Whisky Sours
from Ina Garten
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup whiskey
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- Combine sugar with 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and chill.
- Combine whiskey, lemon juice, lime juice, and 2/3 cup of the sugar syrup in a cocktail shaker. Place 3 – 4 cubes of ice into shaker and shake for 15 seconds. Pour into glasses. Garnish with maraschino cherries and serve cold.
Posted in Food | Tagged drink, quick and easy | 3 Comments »
I love burritos. I especially love the as-big-as-your-face abominations from Qdoba and Chipotle. If I spend a day with my college friends, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll find us at either a Qdoba or Chipotle at some point during the day. After all, we can’t live on beer and whiskey alone. But apparently beer, whiskey, and burritos = well rounded diet.
Some habits die hard. It’s been 3 years since we graduated, but our drinking and eating patterns during our weekends together are essentially the same. The only difference is now instead of drinking Milwaukee’s Best Light, we drink something a little classier like Miller High Life .
Anyway, back to the burritos. Up until now, I’ve never had a baked burrito. Baking these until they developed a perfectly crunchy outside brought the burrito to a whole new level. I ate one and died of happiness. So I ate another. I instantly regretted it, but it was just so… good. So learn from my mistake – eat only one. They are very, very filling.
Beef and Bean Baked Burritos with Creamy Poblano Sauce
adapted from Elly Says Opa
for the burritos:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, diced
1 pound 93% lean ground beef
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn kernels
1/4 cup beef broth
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 1/4 teaspoon Mexican chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
8 large whole wheat tortillas
olive oil cooking spray
for the creamy poblano sauce:
1 poblano pepper, roasted and chopped (see step 2)
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
3/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
- To roast the poblano for the sauce: place inside a medium baking dish. Bake in preheated oven and turn every 6 – 8 minutes until skin is blistered on all sides, about 25 minutes total. Place in a clean kitchen towel and wrap up. Let cool slightly and rub the skin off the pepper with the towel. Remove the stem, seeds, and ribs.
- To make the burritos: heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until they begin to soften, about 3 – 5 minutes. Add in ground beef and cook and stir to break up the meat. Cook until well browned. Add in garlic and tomato paste and stir well to combine.
- Add in black beans, beef broth, cumin , oregano, chili powder, cayenne, brown sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
- To assemble the burritos: place 2 – 4 tablespoons of cheese at the end of a tortilla and spoon in some of the beef mixture over the cheese. Fold the left and right sides of the tortilla in and then roll the tortilla up, starting from the end closest to you. Place seam-side down on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Spray tops of burritos with cooking spray. Bake in preheated oven until lightly browned and crispy, about 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce: melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in chopped roasted poblano and jalapenos. Sprinkle in the flour and stir to combine. Cook, stirring frequently, until flour is lightly browned, about 1 – 2 minutes. Whisk in chicken broth, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Let cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in Greek yogurt and cilantro. Serve over baked burritos.
Posted in Food | Tagged beef, cheese, main dish, meat, onion | Leave a Comment »
I had no idea something as simple as a s’more could be so good. I’ll be honest – s’mores have never been that good to me. When we go camping, I usually pass on making them for a few reasons: 1) I’m not patient enough to toast the marshmallow ~perfectly~, 2) the effort put into making them was too much for me, 3) they just didn’t taste that good. I was much happier just skewering a marshmallow, torching it, and then popping the burnt morsel into my mouth.
All that said, I couldn’t wait to share this with you. So imagine my horror when I started typing on my laptop only to find out that my space, N and B keys don’t work. I started copy/pasting those letters and wrote out a couple sentences when it hit me – type it on my iPad! Duh. It’s still slower than typing on a keyboard, but a lot faster than having to paste in all my Bs, Ns, and spaces.
So, why is this s’mores recipe so good? I think it’s the addition of the grilled banana. Or maybe it’s the fact that all I had to do to make them was stand by the grill. I will admit that I spent about 90% of my 11 mile run on Sunday thinking about these bad boys. I told Mike that every mile I ran = 1 s’more. (Note: I didn’t end up eating 11 s’mores yesterday… but I kind of wish I had). So, here you go. Enjoy this supremely gooey, delicious mess.
Grilled Banana S’mores
1 medium ripe banana
1 teaspoon brown sugar
4 graham crackers, halved
1 .5 ounce bar of milk chocolate, broken into 4 pieces
4 large marshmallows
- Heat grill to medium.
- Lay banana flat. Cut a slit down length of banana. Sprinkle brown sugar into the opening. Grill banana for 5 minutes, or until brown sugar is bubbling. Remove from grill and let cool slightly. Peel and slice into 1/2 inch pieces.
- Lay graham crackers down on grill. Top 4 crackers with chocolate and 4 crackers with marshmallows. Cover grill and cook until chocolate is melted and marshmallows are softened.
- Place sliced bananas on chocolate and place marshmallow cracker on top. Serve immediately.
Posted in Food | Tagged chocolate, dessert, grill, quick and easy | 6 Comments »