Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pumpkins in Vegas

As you're reading this, I should be on a plane to Vegas to join my sweet Business Man there. I may or may not be just a bit nervous about the whole flying on a plane, laying over, flying on another plane, and then catching a shuttle bus to the hotel thing. I'm sure I will survive. I'll pop in with at least a picture to celebrate my arrival. ;-)


Well, it is Thursday, which means it's time for another pumpkin recipe. You sick of these yet? I hope not... because it's still a good long while 'til Thanksgiving. (Not that I'm counting or anything. Thanksgiving is just our next big 'break' at school. Only 39 school days away! Haha.)

Sundays are "fun breakfast" day in our house. Basically, the only day of the week I actually make something for breakfast. (Other than pouring a bowl of cereal or some good ole' maple & brown sugar instant oats.) It usually goes down like this: I go for a run, rush through the end of my run in fear of not having time to bake before church, come into house and immediately start baking in my running clothes. Case in point:

Flour splattered all over running clothes. Typical.
If it's not obvious that my favorite breakfast treats are scones, I'll just tell you now. My favorite breakfast treats are scones. Given a choice between a muffin, donut, sweet roll, or scone, I'll always choose the scone. (As long as it's not old & dried out. Yuck.)

So, I made pumpkin scones! I found this recipe over at Sweet Pea's Kitchen, who has a TON of awesome-looking pumpkin recipes. Which are definitely bookmarked for the weeks to come.

They're moist, light, and fluffy just as a scone should be. And coated with two glazes! A sweet vanilla glaze which is topped with a spiced glaze. That's what really put these over the top. Next time, I plan on adding some chopped pecans. And there will be a next time, for sure.

Pumpkin Scones

  • For the scones
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • ½ cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
    • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
    • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
    • ½ cup canned pumpkin
    • 3 tablespoons half-and-half
    • 1 large egg
  • For the powdered sugar glaze
    • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
    • 2 tablespoons milk
  • For the spiced glaze
    • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
    • 2 tablespoons milk
    • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 pinch ground cloves
    • 1 pinch ground ginger


Preheat oven to 425*F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment.

In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices. Add the butter pieces and cut in using your fingers or two knives until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with the butter pieces no large than small pieces.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, half-and-half, and egg. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and form the dough into a ball. Pat the dough out onto a lightly floured surface into a circle about 1-inch thick. Using a knife, cut into 8 equal wedges. Place wedges onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 14-16 minutes until light brown.

Meanwhile, prepare glazes. For powdered sugar glaze, mix the powdered sugar and milk together until smooth. For spiced glaze, combine all ingredients until smooth.

When scones are cool, drizzle with powdered sugar glaze. Let sit for a few minutes to firm up. Then, drizzle with spiced glaze. Enjoy!

Source: slightly adapted from Sweet Pea's Kitchen

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Color Purple

So... teaching at a high school can get pretty interesting. I will admit, there is never a dull moment. But sometimes even the teachers up the ante to make it even more fun.

Case in point: The Purple Competition

Another teacher & I absolutely love the color purple for clothes-wearing. Well, and accessories. (Noting in my head... purple purse, purple shoes, purple necklaces, even a purple blackberry. A phone's an accessory, right?)

So, we decided to do a competition, a Purple-Off. To see who could wear the most purple outfits in a row without repeating a shirt or bottom. The only rule - no purchasing new purple clothes. 

What was at stake? A $20 gift card to the winner's favorite clothing store. And it must be used to buy another purple piece of clothing. 

It took a few days for the kids to catch on, but they got really into it once they did. "How many more purple shirts do you have??" " You can borrow one of my purple shirts!" (Thanks, but no thanks.)

I ended up lasting 2 full weeks before throwing in the towel. I ran out of clothes after day 7 and then was left to scrounge my Business Man's closet & got some clothes from one of my friends. It still wasn't enough. My competitor has a serious purple clothes addiction! No joke.

Here was the line-up. (And remember, I am not a fashion blogger. At all.)

Probably my favorite outfit of the two weeks.

Getting a little sick of purple by this point.

This one was a stretch- purple stripes on the tank. My competition let it slide.

My Business Man's shirt. I thought I pulled this one off pretty well.

Are we done yet?? I'm so sick of purple!

Day 10.
So yes, I lost. I admit defeat. To be honest, I still had a couple more purple shirts from my friend but I am so over purple. I knew I wouldn't have had enough to outlast my competition. But it was fun for a few weeks. ;-)


In other news, my Business Man & I are heading to VEGAS this weekend! He's got a work conference and I get to tag along free of charge.  What are the must-see sites? Where should we eat at? 

Hope everyone's weeks are off to a good start!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cheers to the freakin' weekend...

Or cheers to the freak of a person who thought the best way to kick off her weekend was to run her 14-mile long run after school. On the treadmill. 

I actually quite enjoyed it. Haven't run on the treadmill and watched TV for a long time. Also I had a few secrets up my sleeve for a great run.

SUGAR! In the form of cupcakes and jelly beans.

I made cupcakes for one of my geometry classes because they earned a certain class average on their first unit test last week, and I definitely indulged with them this afternoon. 

There is a chunk of cookie dough in the middle.
I also had some sport beans on the run because I really need to practice taking in fuel. I pretty much never eat/drink anything on runs 2 hours or less. Which is not good. Because I feel should probably have something during this half-marathon since I'm gunning for a PR and all. 

So I tried out the sport beans today. They were fine. I forgot my water bottle so I had to choke them down, but they sure tasted good. I think one pack will fit in my little shorts pocket just perfectly.

After my run, I rushed home because it's Friday night! I had a hot date with my Business Man. We ended up with dinner at Panera and then to the mall to use up some coupons. Because you always save money when you shop with coupons.

The post-run/didn't do anything to myself except wash the stink-off look.

Thanks to grandma for the free panty coupon at Vicky's. I only had to encounter one student's awkward stares as I walked through the mall with this bag.

And we might have also ended up at Dairy Queen. Who, me? Two desserts in one day? Ain't no thang. 

Pumpkin pie blizzard. The only blizzard I will eat with vanilla ice cream. Which meant we actually went to the Dairy Queen closest to our house (that doesn't serve chocolate ice cream).
Question: What do you take for long run fuel? Any long runs/races this weekend?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Today... Pumpkin Lasagna!

It's that day again... Thursday! Which means it is time for another pumpkin recipe. Which  makes my heart happy.

The past two weeks, I've been all about the sweet side of pumpkin. But today... I bring you over to the savory side with Pumpkin Lasagna! This recipe is one of my absolute favorites to make in the fall.

There's quite a backstory to how this recipe came to be. In the fall semester of my senior year of college, about 2 years ago, the student life program held a campus-wide Iron Chef competition. Can you say right up my alley? I had to enter.

The contest was structured so that we were competing in teams of four - and four of us cross country girls quickly joined together to form a team. And by 'form a team', I mean we all wrote our names down on the paper and I took charge. Pretty typical.

Anyways... the contest was a bit different that the Iron Chef TV show. We were given two secret ingredients, and 24 hours to come up with our dish. I was all sorts of nervous & excited about what the ingredients were gonna be.

Drumroll please.......................................... chicken & cheese. CHICKEN & CHEESE?! Not exotic. Not difficult to work with. Not even interesting in the least. They gave us cheddar cheese, but told us we could use whatever cheese we wanted.

So, the options were basically limitless. Pasta? Stir fry? Casserole? Stuffed? Grilled? Baked? Roasted? Soup? Salad? Sandwich? Seriously. I knew it would take something different to wow the judging panel. (Different is good.)

Circa 2009, making pumpkin lasagna for the first time.
So I started researching. I came across a pumpkin pasta bake recipe on Taste of Home, and thought about how it could be adapted to include chicken, and of course, cheese. And I knew it would be perfect. The perfect dish to serve in the crisp cool days of fall. Different enough to stand out from the rest... familiar enough to appeal to all taste buds.

And so... we came (fashionably late because we had cross country practice), we competed, and we CONQUERED! Oh yeah, 1st place out of 15 teams for our Pumpkin Lasagna. And the best part? The grand prize of $75 gift card to The Cheesecake Factory. The perfect reward for winning the GC Iron Chef.

Now if prize-winning doesn't say much (because winning the Iron Chef at a small po-dunk college in southern IL definitely says a lot, hehe)... I will tell you myself that this recipe is fabulous. 

Instead of a red meat sauce, there's a pumpkin-sage cream sauce that is just perfect. Not too rich, not too light, not too pumpkin-y. (Pumpkin-y? Yes, it's a word.)

Sauteeing like a pro.
The layers are stuffed with sauteed mushrooms & onions, tender chicken pieces, and three types of cheese, ricotta, mozzarella, & parmesan.

And the most fun part of lasagna? The layers!


Here's the line-up:
Ingredients for success. 
Sauce in the bottom.
Then noodles.
More sauce.
Ricotta cheese. 
Mozzarella & Parmesan.
Rinse and repeat.

And there you have it! A delicious twist on an old stand-by. You won't be disappointed!

Pumpkin Lasagna

  • ½ lb. fresh mushrooms
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • ½ tsp. salt, divided
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced
  • 15 oz. canned pumpkin
  • ½ cup half-and-half
  • 1 tsp. dried sage
  • dash pepper
  • 8 oven-ready lasagna noodles
  • cup low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese


In a small skillet, melt the butter. Saute the mushrooms, onion, and 1/4 tsp. salt in butter until tender; remove from pan. Place chicken in same pan; saute until brown on all sides and cooked through. Combine chicken with mushrooms and onion mixture.

To make pumpkin sauce, combine pumpkin with half-and-half. Stir in sage, pepper, and remaining salt.

In a greased 9x9-inch pan, spread a thin layer of pumpkin sauce. Top with a layer of noodles. (You might have to break them to make them fit.) Top noodles with another layer of pumpkin sauce. Top with half the mushroom/onion/chicken mixture, 1/2 cup ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Repeat layers. Top with remaining noodles, sauce, and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.

Cover and bake at 375*F for 45 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-15 minutes longer until cheese has melted and browned. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.


Our Iron Chef WINNING recipe!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mile Repeats & Super Stuffed Spuds

Oh yeah, mile repeats on the schedule for today.

I didn't have any pics of me running today so here's an old picture of me stretching with a kiddie running group we led in college. I'll have to blog about that sometime. 
I've done this workout a couple times already this training cycle, but only done 3x1-mile. Today I cranked it up to 4! I brought my running clothes with me and hit the track after school this afternoon. Coincidentally right when the marching band was practicing. At least I had accountability with my students watching?

The plan was to do 4-5x1-mile with 1/2 mile jogs. I am still adjusting to the whole jog recovery thing - in college, we always had standing recovery. Jog recovery makes you tired! 

Today was a little rough, very humid and BUGGY! I didn't have my camera, but my chest was plastered with bugs. Along with a bug in my eye and a bug stuck in my teeth, which was oh-so-kindly pointed out by one of my students/cross country runners. Gross.

I hoped to hit anywhere between 6:24-6:28 with these repeats. Here's how it went down:

  • Mile 1 - 6:24
  • Mile 2 - 6:25
  • Mile 3 - 6:23
  • Mile 4 - 6:25
Pretty smooth & steady! Very consistent. But I was totally wiped after. No way was I doing a fifth one. I totaled 8 miles for the day.

When I got home, it was time to make dinner. I was hangry. The plan was to make twice-baked potatoes. But those take forever! Bake potatoes? Then bake them again? Ahhh... meet my friend the microwave.

Microwave-baked potatoes in less than 10 minutes. I threw them in the microwave, hopped in the shower, and they were ready by the time I got out!

First, I scooped out the flesh and placed it in a bowl.

Naked potatoes!

Potato flesh. Appetizing.
I added plain Greek yogurt (for protein! and that yummy sour cream flavor), milk, garlic, salt & pepper. Oh and a small pat of butter. I tried mashing with my spoon, but it wasn't doing the trick, so I whipped out my secret weapon.

Why yes, I still wear track t-shirts from high school. Don't you?

Blend away for creamy & smooth mashed potatoes.

But I wasn't done yet. Now it's time for the good stuff. Bacon. Cheese.

Does anybody else microwave their bacon? So easy! And no splatters.

The good stuff.

All mixed up!
I used 3 slices of crumbled bacon and about 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese. I saved a bit to sprinkle over the top, too.

Re-fill your naked potatoes, top with more cheese & bacon, and bake at 425*F about 12-15 minutes until roasty toasty!

This meal was delicious. Crispy & smooth and cheesy. Very cheesy. Not good for the lactose-sensitive people. The only thing missing was a big ole' steak. But my Business Man didn't complain.

It was a gorgeous night and we ate outside. Halfway through the meal my Business Man got up and found this weird nut looking thing and threw it toward me. It landed right by my feet.

Will you soothe my aching feet?
And that's when I realized it would be perfect for rolling out my arches. 

Why certainly!
And that, my friends, is why I'm weird. Using unknown round nut-thingies found in the yard to roll out my arches. Perhaps I should invest in a tennis ball.

Monday, September 19, 2011

You know it's a good day when...

...when you're bored on a Monday night and one of your BFF's calls you up asking if you want to go to Pete's ice cream.

Um... do I ever not want to go to Pete's ice cream?

Oh, how I will miss seeing this glowing sign during the winter months.

And so sad, they are closing in 11 days "for the season." And then the Dairy King and Dairy Queen's will soon follow. And we will go through the deep dark months of November, December, January, and February with no ice cream. Well, besides ice cream from the freezer case.

That would be an Oreo-Cookie Dough avalanche with chocolate ice cream. So. Good.
Since it was a bit rainy we got our ice cream to go and ate at our place. So great to catch up after a busy last couple weeks.

And now it's time for a Weekly Rundown!

YAY running!
Last week was a 'cut-back' week in training, since I'd had three 50+ mile weeks in a row. Plus I wanted to be rested for the 10km race on Saturday!

I planned on getting a 10-mile long run in, but that didn't really happen. But I got 8.5 in on Saturday so that's good enough! 

Weekly Rundown (September 12-18, 2011)
Goals: 40-45 miles, 10-mile long run, 10km race

Monday: 6.4 miles easy (7:50 avg)
Tuesday: 6.6 miles easy (7:44 avg)
Wednesday: am - 6.1 miles, hills (8:14 avg)
                          pm - 3.5 miles w/ XC (8:59 avg)
Thursday: Off
Friday: 6.5 miles easy (7:54 avg)
Saturday: 10km race - 40:53 (6:35 avg); 8.6 miles total
Sunday: 6.2 miles recovery (8:11 avg)
Total: 43.9 miles

Next week's goals:
  • 45-50 miles
  • 14-15 mile long run
  • 4-5x1-mile repeats @ 6:30 w/ 1/2 mile jog recovery 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Morton Pumpkin Classic 10km 2011

Despite my less than stellar dinner choices last night, this morning's race went off without a hitch!

Yes, I lined up in the "sprint" category. Not sure I was really sprinting, but I'll take it.
The weather was perfect - 50's, little to no wind. I was a little bummed by the "rain" I heard when I woke up, but turns out that was just my parents' pond. No rain. Happy day!

My mom & I headed over around 6:45am for a 7:30am start. She walked/ran the 2-mile portion of the race.

After a quick restroom trip, I got my 10 minute warm-up in, did some leg swings and was ready to go! 

Looking all sorts of awkward waiting for the race to start.
I had never really "raced" a 10km, so I wasn't sure what to expect. My friend Alissa raced the 10km in track, and she always said that first 3 miles are so so easy and then all of a sudden you feel like death. Super.

I went out with the goal of hitting 6:45-6:50 miles, shooting for sub-42:00.

That didn't really happen, but I ran super-even splits, which never happens for me. I am the queen of slowing way down. And I didn't, yay!

Here's my splits:

  • Mile 1 - 6:30, yikes, this is closer to my 5km pace! But this feels way easy. 
  • Mile 2 - 6:37, settling in, still feeling good.
  • Mile 3 - 6:40
  • Mile 4 - 6:39, man I'm really holding this pace. I'm impressed with myself.
  • Mile 5 - 6:37, starting to burn a bit.
  • Mile 6.2 - 7:50 (6:31 avg), I DID IT! And yes the last mile felt like death. But it was ok.
Total time - 40:53, 6:35 avg pace.

Look for me right under the speed limit sign. And funny story - I went to high school with the guy right in front of me; we didn't even realize we were that close to each other in the race.
Needless to say I was very happy. And the even splits! I have never run that even, and even I speeding up at the end. I was so excited.

Momma did awesome as well, sprinting to the finish.

Go, Momma, go!

So after a quick cool-down, we were ready for the real fun of the morning: the pumpkin treats! They have a super-awesome pumpkin pancake breakfast, but the line was literally about 4 blocks long. Insane. We settled for some pumpkin donuts instead.

2 dozen rings of pure delicousness. Don't worry - we picked up a dozen for my great-aunt & uncle. Not all for us.

While waiting for the awards ceremony to start, I chose quite the inopportune time to ask for a post-race pic with my Business Man.

"Come on, can't you see I just want to eat my donut in peace?"

"First you wake me up at 6:30am on a Saturday, and now this."

Finally happy and ready to smile. :)
Mom enjoyed her donut, too. With Maggie's hawkeyes staring her down.

"Can't you just perhaps, drop it?"

And of course I got in on the action, too. So good!

Once our bellies were full, it was time for the awards ceremony. Turns out I was 3rd female overall, and 2nd in my age group (20-34) and won $20! Woot woot. Now if only Nike would come sign me for a contract, I'd really be rolling in the dough.

Next on the hunt was some pumpkin coffee, or even better, a PSL. We headed to the downtown coffee shop with high hopes.

But the line was forever long. So we moseyed over to our next stop of the morning, Great Harvest Bread Co.

We picked up some bread & sweet treats, and there went my $20 racing prize. But so worth it!

And, they had a little coffee shop inside, and were serving PSL's! Double win.

And a quick stop at the local farm for some pumpkins, we came back to my parents'. 

New fashion look? 

Pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins!

After a visit with my great-aunt & uncle this morning, and my Business Man's family this afternoon, we're off to a 40th anniversary celebration tonight! Busy, busy, but so good to see everyone! :)

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