12.28.2012

20 Things I'm Thankful For

Hope everyone is having a lovely holiday season! I am back from my little vacation in Florida where I got to surprise my mom for her birthday and spend some good quality time with family in the warm Florida weather.

I'm still trying to stick with the Elf for Health Challenge. It was tough keeping up with it while I was away, but now I am back and yesterday's challenge inspired me: Pick 20 Things to be Thankful For.

I have to be honest, I was a bit crabby on Christmas Day. I was alone for the day and feeling a little down since everyone I knew was celebrating with their friends and families. But I went to a Christmas Yoga class at CorePower in Berkeley and it helped put things in perceptive for me. Our focus was on abundance. It made me realize that it didn't matter that I was by myself for the day because I have such an enormous amount of love and joy in my life. That is the number one thing I am thankful for today.

Here are my 20 things I am grateful for from 2012...


12.13.2012

Elf for Health Challenge!

Remember when I was talking about what we can do during the holidays to stay healthy?

That giant roll of cookie dough may still be calling my name...

I will not eat it, I will not eat it...maybe a little?

No!

Anyway, I did something. I joined the Elf for Health Challenge!

And as Barney Stinson would say:
What is this challenge you ask? You can read all about it here, but the cliff notes version is that its a 6 week challenge that began around Thanksgiving and goes until New Years with several different rounds. I missed the first round, but got in for the 2nd! (They have a 3rd round coming up, so there is still time to join in.) Basically you receive an "Elf" and you email/facebook/tweet back and forth throughout the week to support each other through your holiday health goals. There are challenges assigned everyday - its fun. Its different. You should do it.

Meet my elf by the way. She loves running and eating. I like her already.

Today's challenge was to buy coffee for a stranger or something to that effect. I rarely buy coffee during the week, so I made some green smoothies this morning for breakfast and brought one in for my friend/co-worker, Jen. She was so happy and surprised!
Yummy green breakfast!

Wish me luck! I'll keep you posted on how I do on Facebook/Twitter if you follow us (which you should be already).

Cheers,

Erica

12.08.2012

Everything But The Kitchen Sink Granola

Maybe I should just blog about breakfast foods from now on. I can't get enough of them. Maybe it's because they mostly involve of carbs. Whatever. I'm perfectly content with carbs. 

But honestly, I fell in love with this granola! It's officially addictive and I can't stop making it. 

Last year, I made this honey almond granola, and thought I did a pretty good job. Until this bad boy came along. It has a more flavor to it and, with the millet, it is more crunchy than my previous batch. Chris sampled some the other night and said "that's too good to be healthy." 

The best thing, like all homemade granola, you can add whatever you want to customize it. I pretty much threw everything I had in the pantry in my batch (hence the name "Everything But The Kitchen Sink Granola"). And, like always, its cheaper than buying granola at the grocery store. I still don't understand how people can charge $8.00 for a bag of this stuff!

I always start by taking all the ingredients out so I can see everything.
All the dry goods. 
All the wet ingredients.
Pretty chopped almonds
Make the wet mix and combined all the dry goods. 
Mixed them all together and spread them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
(this helps the grains not stick to the pan, and makes clean up super easy)
Toss the oats a few times so they cook evenly
When they are done cooking, add all the dried fruits and pepita seeds and toss to combine. 


Everything but the Kitchen Sink Granola
Adapted from Oh She Glows and Bon Appetite  
Wet Ingredients:
3 tablespoons of honey
1 tablespoon of agave nectar
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
4 tablespoons of applesauce (or one small 113g container's worth)
2 tablespoons of almond butter
1/4 cup of brown sugar

Dry Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups of old fashion oats
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1/2 chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup millet
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoons salt
pinch of nutmeg

Add Ins:
1/2 cup pepita seeds
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 regular raisins
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
Dried coconut

Preheat your oven to 300*. In a medium sauce pan, add all the wet ingredients and stir together over medium heat until melted and well combined. Cook to a simmer for about 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, combine all your dry goods in a bowl. When your wet ingredients are all ready, pour it into the bowl with the dry good and mix well so everything is covered. Spread the mix onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cook for a total of 30 minutes - check on it every 10 minutes mix it up to make sure it all cooks evenly. If you'd like to add the coconut, add it in the oven during the last 5 minutes so it doesn't burn. When its all golden and delicious looking, it's done!

After its cooled for a bit, stir in your add-ins. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. 

Serve it with some yogurt, in some almond milk, or just by the handful. 



I am actually about to make a new batch of this tonight...mmm!

Happy Breakfast!

Erica

12.07.2012

Cook! Soups Review!

Back in October, during the Food Buzz Festival, I met the folks from Cook! Cook! provides healthy detox diet meals and delivers them to your door. I honestly didn't know that when I met them; I thought they only did soups! All their stuff is gluten-free, dairy free, natural, fresh, and low-glycemic. They do the detox diets meals at several levels, but if you aren't into that, you can also find some items in the stores here in the Bay Area. They had an amazing zucchini soup to sample at the FB Fest that left me wanting more. And to top it all off, they were kind enough to send me some samples to try.  I just finished my last soup the other day! These soups are really healthy so they've helped me keep on track during the holiday season when all I truly want to eat is a roll of cookie dough. Plus they are a great way to pack in the veggies and fill out up before you go out and do your holiday shopping.

By the way, is anyone having else having trouble not eating that roll of cookie dough? The days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s can be a rough road. Yes, holidays are joyous and I love the family/friend time I get during this time of the year, but we end up eating enough food for what feels like at least 6 months. We aren’t going into hibernation people – why do we need that much food? Well, because it so yummy, of course, and it’s the holidays, and, and, and…. 

There was myth that the average person gains 7-10lbs during the holiday season. I couldn’t find anything out there that supported this, but I did find that most America’s gain about a pound during the holidays. Which doesn’t sound bad right? It turns out most people don’t lose that weight – causing it to build up over the years.

So what can we do? We can be mindful of what we are putting in our bodies. Make conscious decisions…do I really need that extra piece of pie? Sometimes, yes. Most times, no. 

What else can you do? You can join different communities to help motivate healthy choices like the Elf for Health Challenge or the Runner’s World Run Streak (which my friend Laura is kicking butt at) or the Little Black Dress Challenge. There are a ton of Holiday Health Challenges out there – do a search.

Plus, Eat breakfast. Take snacks with you shopping so you don’t pig out in the food court. Drink water. Lots of water - save that wine for later...

I’m doing a little combo of all of these...we shall see how it goes. 

Anyway, speaking of healthy foods, back to those lovely soups. Cook! sent me their Zucchini, Tomato, and Thai Green Curry to taste. I got them and they were all packaged up in little freezer boxes so they stayed cool. I finally finished my last soup and they did not disappoint. Each is 1.5 servings worth, but I just ate the whole thing. Whoops. 

First, I tried the Thai Green Curry and it was packed full of veggies and had such a great flavor. It literally had chunks of cauliflower and eggplant all over the pIace and wish I hadn’t eaten the whole thing at one time so I could have more the next day. I think it would be great served over some rice or quinoa too (why I didn’t think of that before I don’t know).

Second up, Tomato. Honestly, this wasn't my favorite. It's not as creamy as I usually enjoy my tomato soups. I added a little spicy jack cheese for some zest and paired it with a bean burrito. Filled me up for a nice lunch.


Last, was the Zucchini Soup. I was honestly a little nervous when I first tried this at the fest, but turned out I actually liked it a lot. You can have this one hot or cold. I've only had it warm, but I feel like it would be really refreshing on a warm summer day. Like a gazpacho twist. I paired this was a simple salad.

The winner for me was the Thai Green Curry. I'll get that again for sure. Thanks, again to Cook! for sending me some of their great soups. If you want to check out more about Eat! and there detox diets or other foods they offer check them out at http://www.cooksf.com, find them on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/CookSF or read about what they are doing on their blog at http://blog.cooksf.com/


Erica


11.25.2012

My Thanksgiving Roundup


It's been a busy week! My lovely parents came into town on Wednesday evening and we've been going non-stop for most of the week. I haven't seen them since last Thanksgiving (yes, a full year. I know...I'm a bad daughter)! But what can I say, we just moved across the country, I don't have much vacation time and you know...life happens. Needless to say, its been too long.

So this week we've had a lot of catching up to do, and a whole lot of eating.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. You wake up, eat a decent breakfast, start cooking, open wine super early (I actually waited until about 11:45am), cook some more, drink some more, add some cheesy appetizer, a little more wine and FEAST!

Here's my run down...
My favorite veggie on Thanksgiving. I saute them in olive oil then add lemon and salt. Yumm.

This is a pre-dinner nap. 

My first ever homemade stuffing - made from homemade bread with fresh rosemary, sage, and parsley. Turned out to be the highlight of my dinner.

The pre-roasted carrots.
Tossed with olive oil, lemon, honey with salt, pepper, and cayenne.  Roast at 400 for about 30 minutes or until they are tender and beginning to brown and caramelize.
Learned this one from Strudel by the way.

Mom and I cooking. I have tickle her to make sure we smile in photographs. 

Starting the b-sprouts. 

Turkeyyyy!
We did a brine that started the night before. One of Alton Brown's that consisted of salt, sugar and water.
I will never, not brine my future turkeys.  

Fresh. Bread. 

Dad mashing the potatoes.
His one job. 


The end result. 

Football.

Brussels, Green Beans, and Roasted Sweet Potatoes.
Sides are my favorite. I like a lot of them. 

The spread. Dinner is served.

My plate. First serving.

Then...food coma and maybe a board game.

Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Erica

11.20.2012

Pizza Pizza

Don't worry! This isn't an add for Little Cesar's, although I must admit, a couple of times I took advantage of their $5 "Hot and Ready" deal in grad school, and regretted it every.single.time.

So let's talk about good pizza!  Tonight we're going to Joe Squared to enjoy their Tuesday night special...buy 2 beers and get a free 10'' cheese pizza. Um, yes please! A couple of weeks ago (work has been super busy with registration and the last day to withdraw...college talk! and so I haven't had time to post, or cook real food much.) I was inspired by this recipe for a butternut squash pizza and the fact that I had 3 butternut squashes from my CSA. Minor detail.

Butternut Squash Pizza
Inspired by a recipe from Alexandra's Kitchen
Yield = one 12-inch pizza
1 Trader Joe's pizza dough
1 butternut squash (I think we only used half of one)
olive oil
kosher salt
2 cloves garlic
Fresh mozzerella
Fresh goat cheese
1 tomato
Thyme
Habeneros


1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Remove the skin: Slice the top of the squash about 1/2-inch under the stem to create a flat edge. Repeat with the other end. Cut crosswise through the squash just above the bulb — cutting the squash into two pieces makes the peeling process easier. Stand the squash (whichever piece you want to peel first) upright and, being careful not to slice off your fingers, run your knife down the sides of the squash removing the peel along the way. Repeat with bulb portion if desired. After peeling the bulb portion, cut it in half, scoop out seeds and discard. Cut the peeled squash crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices. I used a mandoline, which saves time and creates uniform pieces, but using a knife works just fine, too. PS. Who knew butternut squash was so hard to cut?!



2. Place the slices of squash on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, season with kosher salt to taste, toss to coat, redistribute onto sheet in one layer and place in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until fork tender. You can also use this time to pre-bake your dough!



3. Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the garlic and add it to about 1/4 cup of olive oil. After prebaking the dough, brush dough with the garlic olive oil. (I made two different halves to accomodate Dan and I's tastes)Place slices of mozzerella and/or crumles of goat cheese over the garlic oil. Sprinkle with thyme to taste. Top with baked squash, tomato, and habanero slices. Bake until done. We like our pizza almost burned so our baking time was much longer than suggested :)


Enjoy! My half had the mozz, butternut squash, and tomatoes. Dan's half had goat cheese, butternut squash, tomatoes, and habeneros.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

-Abbie

11.09.2012

Spicy Ginger Apple Toddy

It's toddy time!


That's right folks, it's the time of year to drink hot boozy beverages. The booze warms you up and so does the drink. It's a win-win really.

And today, the weather turned chilly! Over the past few weeks it has been sunny and in the 70s and 80s, so I knew the weather would change sooner or later. It seems weird for me to think that now, 55 degrees is "freezing" outside. When I lived in Denver, we were ecstatic when/if it even reached 55 degrees on some days. I guess I adjusted nicely.

Anyway, onto the toddy. Mmm...freshly grated ginger, apple cider, a bit of lemon and most importantly, bourbon.



Since the summer, I've been trying my dardest to drink more liquor. I did pretty well with vodka and tequila, so now the time has come to try some more lady like liquors. Like bourborn.


I don't know why I think bourbon makes me feel like a lady, but it does. And I like it.

Right now, I've just been making cocktails with it. I had an Old Fashioned at the Food Blogger's Festival and that was hearty. Maybe one day I'll be able to be super classy and drink it on the rocks. I have to ease my way into this thing.

I feel like toddy's are a very fun way to get into a fall mood. This is my first attempt at one and I've grown quite fond of it.

Spicy Ginger Apple Toddy
Makes 1 serving
1 cup of apple cider
1 tsp of freshly grated ginger (about an inch peeled)
1 ounce of your favorite bourbon (2 tbsps)
1 lemon slice
1 cinnamon stick for garnish (cause its fun)
Honey to add a touch of sweetness (optional)

Add the cider and ginger to a small sauce pan. Heat over med-high until it just barely comes to a simmer. Remove from the heat and let the ginger seep for 3-5 minutes. Add bourbon and transfer to your favorite mug. If you don't like bits of ginger, feel free to use a fine mesh strainer. Personally, I really like ginger so I keep it - it adds more of a kick as it sits in the cup. Add the lemon and the cinnamon stick. Find a fireplace to sit and enjoy.

Happy Fall and Cheers,

Erica

P.S. Thanksgiving is in 2 weeks - whatt...?!

Oh! And P.P.S
Caroline! You won the Nature Box giveaway! Email us and I'll send you the details. Congrats!

11.03.2012

Nature Box Giveaway!


Happy November everyone! Now that October and Halloween are over, my pumpkins are carved and now molded, and my belly busted from a load of freshly popped popcorn and homemade dark chocolate raisins – I can move forward with life. And a diet.


had to share the pumpkins...



Air-popped Popcorn - so good!

With Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner;  the season of giving has started – and we have our first giveaway!! Exciting right?!
We are giving away a NatureBox!
I got to visit with the folks at NatureBox at their booth during the Food Blogger’s Festival a few weeks ago and just loved this concept.

I think it’s perfect for folks with a busy, healthy lifestyle. And, let's be honest - if you know me, you know I love snacks and I love getting things in the mail.


When I got a sample box in at the Festival, I was super excited because I didn't have to go grocery shopping that weekend - bonus!

This week I've been into dipping the dried apricots into sunflower butter. You get the sweetness of the fruit and the saltiness of the sunflower - it has been a good pre-run snack this week.

So, onto the giveaway. Here's what you need to do:

All you have to do is enter a comment below telling us about your favorite snack!

You can get a bonus entry if you:
Like us and Nature Box on Facebook
Follow @AbbieandErica and @Nature Box on Twitter

We will pick a name on November 9th and NatureBox will send you their November box full of 15-20 servings of snack across 5-6 types. What's in the box will be a surprise, but you can check out past boxes here. Keep in mind, they can't substitute items or specialize orders at this time. 

Yay for snacks! 

Erica

10.26.2012

Pumpkin Doughnuts with Brown Butter Glaze

When Abbie was here, we chatted a bit about food (I lie. We chatted a lot about food). One topic we discussed was doughnuts and if you need a doughnut pan to make them. After that, I was craving doughnuts. And since my dad likes to frequently point out, there are no Dunkin’ Donuts within 1,000 miles of my house, so, I decided to start recipe finding to make my own.


Plus, my Dad will be here in November, and I figured I could get some practice in so I can make him a fresh batch.
Anyway, back to Abbie and I's conversation and the great doughnut pan debate we had. 
The truth it, I hate buying “uni” gadgets. I feel like a doughnut pan is totally a uni-tasker gadget. But, as Abbie pointed out, a muffin pan is kind of a uni-tasker. A waffle iron is too. So, to save myself the hassle of frying, I decided to go for it.

10.21.2012

Foodbuzz Blogger Festival Recap!


Abbie and I started this blog back in July of last year. Since 2006, when we moved away from each other, we started regularly texting and emailing back and forth our favorite foods, style sites, running articles and anything else we thought was interesting. Our in-boxes were overflowing, and one day I said to her “We should totally do this.” She said to me, "what?" My simple reply was "start a blog." And so we did.

We don't take things too seriously on the blog, but for me, its gotten to be part of my life. Its a way to vent, share, laugh, and take my mind away from the day to day grind. Then, my friend Morgan came to visit.

About a year ago, around this time, Morgan called me and said, “Hey, I'm going to be in San Francisco for a food blogging festival, let's get a drink.” I was supper excited and remember saying to myself “What? Food Bloggers have a festival? That's crazy....crazy awesome!” I met up with Morgan and her co-blogger Tiffany while they were in town, heard all about their blog, Strudel and Streusel, and they shared their experiences of that year's event. Instantly, I was hooked. I really wanted to be part of this community and go to this awesome event next year.

I went home that night and looked into this FoodBuzz thing

Fast forward to present day and this weekend in particular...my first Food Blogger's Festival!

10.19.2012

Abbie and Erica Take San Francisco!


Reunited and it feels soooooo gooood!


Sing it with me now...

Ahhh, the joys of friendship. So Abbie and I started this little bloggy blog a little over a year ago to help us keep in touch with each other, share our adventures, and our food. So far, it has worked. But seriously, two full years had gone by and we hadn't seen each other. That was my wedding, and I barely got to spend much time with her or anyone else for that matter. That's crap. In November, I convinced her to put her name into the Nike Women's Marathon lottery and the New York Marathon lottery, hoping we would get into one race and have a good excuse to hang out with each other. April came around and we both got a surprise (yet terrifying) email saying we got into NWM12! Along with excitement to make plans to see her, came nerves for training for the another marathon. I did the half last year, so I knew what was ahead of me - at least 13.1 miles of it. Akk!

So Abbie booked her plane ticket and we trained for several months. Which brought us to this weekend...
Our first photo together in 2 years.

Abbie's plane didn't get into San Francisco until 1:30AM Friday morning.
Philz was necessary.
It was necessary either way. 
At the Expo!

Giant wall at Nike Town - find out names!
Abbie found hers.

Semi-Stalking some Olympians.

Yep, that's me in the background. Creeping around Kara Goucher and Shalene Flanagan
(Photo courtesy of NWM12)
I guess this guy does this for a living.
He wrote a poem for Abbie's manfriend. 

the goods.

And we found a used book store in the Mission.
Dog Eared Books. $70 later...yes, I am ashamed. 

We were so tired after our first day, we came  back to the house and had our own happy hour. 

Its around 10:30am and we just found out Heretic won GOLD at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.
So we celebrated - it's carb loading.

Fresh Bagels. That's how I host.
Bagels and Beer makes a balanced breakfast.

Packing up the gear and getting ready for the run.

Grilled cheese on the way..Cowgirl Creamery

Marathon Morning with 25,000 other people.

Mike, Me, and Hugh. 

Post race burgers and 2 baskets of Frings at Pearl's. Go there.

We found a great bar with tons of local beer.
Amsterdam Cafe.

Day after breakfast. One of everything please.
And we ate it all.
at Taylor Street Coffee Shop. 

Cable Car ride. We couldn't walk, it was well deserved.


Irish Coffee.

She wanted to put her feet in the Bay. It was a bit chilly.





Abbie, thank you for coming. If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be running today. You stuck with me back in Tallahassee when I could only run 1 minute at a time, and now I'm running marathons and I owe it to you. Miss you already and I'll see ya next year on the east coast!

Cheers,

Erica



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