9.28.2012

The New Addition to the Family.

My husband is the BEST! I came home Thursday after work, when I walked in the door, he told me he got me a little love gift. He specifically said it was "nothing big." He said, "its over there, on the chair." I look, its a new CAMERA!! 

It was actually a very early birthday present. Chris doesn't normally read the blog, but I guess he saw a photo and noticed they weren't all that great. All I have to say is, thank goodness I don't have to use my phone any more. 

Onto my new toy. First, it needs as name, as do all my new fun things...remember how we named Lucy?? Second, I really don't know how to use it yet, but I wanted to share my first 24 hours of it with you it and all it's glory.

Breakfast: Whole Wheat Banana Waffle, with Coconut Whipped Cream and Coffee

and a side of fruit

Bailey. Love.

Another cup of coffee

Then we make peach butter!! The house smelled so good...

I had to run a bunch of errands in the Berkeley Area...
so my first stop was Philz

The results of my "errands." Which included Crate and Barrel, Ikea, Athleta, and the Berkeley Bowl

It was my first time at the Berkeley Bowl and I was in bulk bin heaven!
jasmine rice, pumpkin seeds, baking sode, mustard seeds, cumin, sesame seeds, and some rigatoni. Random. Awesome.

An after "errand" snack. Which is my fav right now.
Dates with peanut butter.

Sunset on a walk with Bailey

Glen Cove, my back yard.


Bailey on our walk



Cocktail hour catching up on "New Girl"

Yes, I will be one of those people taking their camera everywhere, documenting everything and everyone. It's gonna be awesome. Deal. 

Now, what's for dinner? Because I have to go take a photo of it :)

Cheers!

Erica

9.23.2012

Late Season Grilled Veggie Sandwich

Happy Fall! Yesterday was the Autumn Equinox and my favorite time of year has begun. Yay for crisp weather, cute boots, lots of scarves, roasted root veggies and soups!

So, I grew up in Florida and we didn't have seasons expect for the hot and dry season and the hot and rainy season. When I lived in Denver, I soaked it all up and couldn't get enough of all the fall colors and pumpkin lattes.

Here in Northern California, we get more of a fall season than in Florida, but its nothing compared to Colorado. Actually here, its hottest in September and October. The weather probably won't change for a little while, but the leaves are shifting colors - which makes things pretty!

So, onto this sandwich. Hurry and make this before it starts to get too dark too early and cold outside. I am still trying to get the most out of our grill while I can. And there should be a few more weeks left of summer veggies at the farmer's market, so stock up and make this. Of course, if you have a grill pan, or live in Florida - you an do this year round!

This is one of my all time favorite throw together dinners that frequently happens on Friday nights when I don't feel like cooking or when I have an abundance of produce that I need to use. You can switch up the veggies any way you like and I always make extra for leftovers for a quick lunch the next day. It's also a great Meatless Monday option.

Grilled Veggie Sandwich
Makes 4 Servings
1 small eggplant, cut and sliced in rounds
1 small onion, sliced
2 red peppers, de-seeded/de-veined and cut in half
1 yellow squash, sliced lengthwise
1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
shredded mozzarella cheese
pesto
fresh arugula or spinach
1 fresh loaf of crusty bread - like a baguette
Gather the goods
Slice it all up
Heat your grill over medium high. Either cover the grill with tin foil, or oil the grates down so your veggies don't stick. If everything fits on the grill, great - you're lucky you have a big fun grill. With mine, I had to do in batches. Brush all the veggies with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Start cooking the peppers, eggplant, and onions first as they tend to take the longest, gradually add on the squash and zucchini, and cook the tomatoes last. Start taking things off the grill when they have nice grill marks, maybe with a little char and they've softened.

Start the grilling
Beautifully charred
When the veggie are just about done, cut the bread down the middle and lower the heat to low. Toast the bread on the grill - make sure you watch it carefully so it doesn't burn. This can happen very quickly!

Toast your bread
Take the bread off the grill and assemble your sandwich. This is how I like it...
Spread the pesto on the bread and top with a little cheese and arugula.

Pesto time!
Start stacking the veggies, I usually start with the peppers and eggplant, move up to the squashes, add the onions then the tomato.



There you have it. A grilled veggie sandwich.



Looks good right? Wait to to take a bite. Pair this with a nice green salad and a glass of wine and you got yourself a quick easy dinner.

Cheers!

Erica

9.11.2012

The Week Ahead and Hard-Baked Eggs

Another week has passed and I've been anxiously awaiting this week in particular. Its Ragnar week!!

What the heck is Ragnar you say? Well, let me tell you. Ragnar is an overnight running relay race. We have a team of 12 people and each runs 3 legs. The legs of the race vary in difficulty and distance, from 3-8 miles. It last 2 days and 1 night and teams run across 200 miles starting from San Francisco and ending in Calistoga. We eat, sleep and get to stink up a giant van together. Should be amazing!

My dear blogging and running friend, Laura, suggested I join her team when someone dropped and I jumped at the chance. I don't know any one else but her, it should proved to be great experience.

I've been mentally preparing for the past week. Here's what it will all look like:

Starting Friday morning I am meeting with my van mates at 5:00AM in Oakland. We head to San Francisco where we do a safety briefing and get ready to start. I get to start off our team (I don't know how I got this lucky). My first leg is a short distance (4 miles) and I get to run over the Golden Gate Bridge! Like I said...lucky! After that, I jump in the van with the rest of the crew while another runner starts leg 2. We go until leg 6 (Van 2 runners take over from there) and we get a break. At that point, we will get lunch, maybe relax a bit then get ready for our second tour around 6pm. This is going to be a longer one. We start this time in Petaluma and my stretch is 5.7 miles. This leg is labeled "Hard." Let's hope I do ok. We go through the same sequence of runners and run until about 1:00AM. Laura has the last let and she has to run at night. I've heard the stories about people getting lost...ek! I said I would run with her, but let's face, I may be too tired at that point. But, I'd want someone to run with me if I was at night - coffee will be my best friend this weekend.

We get another break at this point and get to eat/rest/possibly sleep. There are designated outdoor sleeping areas and people sleep in the vans. Who knows where I'll end up.

We start back up Saturday morning and my 3rd and last leg is labeled "very difficult." I have no idea how they rate these runs, which scares me. This leg is 8.3 miles through Napa. I am fairly confident I'll be close to dead at this point. But it's my last one, so I can hang in there.

Then the rest of our runners go and Van 2 runners get to finish off the race. We should be done by 4:00PM-ish on Saturday. Post race festivities include free wine from Mumm! Whohhoo...perks of wine country being the end point.

(Started packing on Sunday...)
sunscreen, bug spray, fuel belt, head lamp, fresh wipes, Hammer Gels, Cytomax, Garmin

So what I have been doing to prepare? Since I've been training for Nike, the miles have been in the bag. But the running several times a day, that isn't. I have however, been doing 2 workouts a day for a few months. I've been waking up at 5:45am and doing Jillian Michael's 20-minute workout or Biggest Loser Yoga then running in the afternoon. I am hoping that pattern will be good enough training. Who knows. I've come to expect nothing!

Since I've been getting up and working out, I've had to adjust my morning meal a bit. I've been trying to meal plan for the week more, and this includes breakfast. Lately, each Sunday, I make my breakfast for the week. This is the easiest breakfast I've ever made and it has proven to be helpful when I have a wardrobe  malfunction, or Bailey takes longer than usual on our morning walks.

Ok here we go...Hard-Baked Eggs.
Yeah, yeah, I know, why don't I just boil them? Its so easy right, well, let me tell you why.

I hated hard boiled eggs as a kid. In fact, I never even ate them, because I couldn't get past the smell! My mom would make potato salad or egg salad and the house would smell like poo. Why would I want to eat something that smelled like poo? Then I started running and found out eggs are like a wonderful drug when it goes to post-run or workout food. They are full of protein, help with inflammation, they keep you full longer, and not to mention, they pretty tasty.

So why baked instead of boiling? When I started warming up the idea of eggs in the morning, I knew scrambling would take too long for me, but the smell of the boiling eggs makes me sick. Then I saw idea on The Kitchn and couldn't resist trying. After I saw that, I did some research and found it was supposed to reduce the smell, make it easier to peel, and makes the egg creamer. Plus you can stick them in the oven and walk away while they bake. I am a multi-tasker, so this was a good option for me. Then each morning, I grab 2 eggs and a piece of fruit and I am out the door. Give them a try, its worth a shot.

Oven Cooked Hard-Baked Eggs
by Alton Brown via the Kitchn
What you need:
1 dozen eggs
a muffin pan
bowl of cold water for a post baking dunk.

Preheat the oven to 325*. Place the eggs in a muffin tin and place the tin on the middle rack in the oven. Set the timer for 25 minutes. When they are done, let them set for about 5 minutes and then place in a cold water bath until they are cooled. Store in the fridge for up to a week.
You can place the eggs direction on the racks if you don't have the pan, but the pan helps when them not moving around and its easier to get them in and out of the oven.

**Note, the fresher the egg, the harder to peel.**
What do you like to eat for a post run or post morning workout?
What tricks do you use to keep yourself motivated to get up in the morning?

Wish me luck for Ragnar! I'll report back next week, given I don't get lost somewhere in wine country!

Cheers,

Erica

9.05.2012

My First Cake.

Seriously, I know I keep saying this, but how has summer gone by so fast?! Dang! I am however, excited for the fall season with crisper weather, apples, spices, soups, and cute boots, but I know I will be longing for those sunny summer nights that are flying by. At least in the Bay Area it stays warm and dry here for a few more months. Score one.

So, I’ve been MIA from blogging a bit. I haven't been sitting around eating cake and watching movies, although, that sounds amazing. I have been pretty busy in the kitchen. I’ve been selling the heck out of jams, salted caramel sauces, and pestos to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
This kale pesto for example - delightful on an egg sandwich.

I've been doing all this while training for a 200 mile relay race that over 2 days/1 night next week (Ragnar), my marathon that is a measly 5 weeks, and a half marathon in November. Needless to say training takes up a big portion of my time. When I’m not running and training for all my upcoming events, I am staying up late, cleaning jars, filling them, labeling them, and getting them all pretty…it’s a lot of work! So taking photos of my food adventures have taken a bit of a back seat. But its all totally worth it! I hope to share some recipes soon for my jar creations…like that kale pesto!

In the misdts of all the craziness, I got to check something off my summer bucket list recently – Yes, I am still working on it. I still have a few weeks left!

I made my first cake! Yes, I feel like it is weird and crazy that I've never made a cake from scratch before. Cupcakes, got that. Cheese cake, done. Brownies, old news. But a cake from scratch - never. The good thing about this cake was that it was a birthday cake too. Even better right?! A Birthday Pound Cake. Chris’s Birthday Pound Cake to be exact! I've made it again since his birthday. I messed up a bit the first time and didn't check the oven temp. Rookie mistake. I just flipped on the oven to pre-heat not even thinking to check the temp again before I stuck the cake in there. It was just a little over done on the crust. We still ate it though. The inside was good!

A traditional Pound Cake has a pound of each flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. The recipe I used tweaked that idea a bit and it came out super duper good. I probably gained a pound each piece I ate though. Chris ate more…he can gain the weight for me, because he’s a boy and all. But seriously, you need this cake in your life. Treat yourself. And lick the bowl.

This cake is so delicious on its, own, but works well topped with a bit of some salted caramel sauce, or fresh raspberries and strawberries. It didn’t take long to make, and it’s easy because you just through all the ingredients in a bowl and mix it up.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt


1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly butter and flour your favorite bundt pan.
2. Place the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl and beat with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. I used the stand mixer, but a hand mixer will work too. Add the sugar, increase the speed to high, and beat until light and airy, at least five minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the vanilla, almond, then the flour and salt all at once. Beat just until incorporated.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and shake a bit to even it all out.
4. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

5.  Let the cake cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan and let it cool completely. Serve at room temperature.

Enjoy!

Erica
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