Kelly the Culinarian: October 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween 2012!

From the angriest bumble bee you'll ever meet.
This is his warning look.  As in, Momma, take this crap off of me or you will not live to regret it.
As for me, I was a bag of coal for Halloween. I like mixing my holidays. Thanks, Jenny, for making my costume! I'll be wearing it again in December for a race.
And now, I'm enjoying some Halloween wine.  Have a good one!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cooking with Kelly: Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash Recipe

Can you believe that despite my love of all things fall, this is the first year I've really gotten into squash? I've been eating acorn and butternut squash since it came into season. I can't believe I missed the memo on this.

When we went to Whole Paycheck recently, Tim found some roasted butternut squash that he liked and we bought it, but I realized I could make it at home fairly easily. Here's our home-made version.

Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash Recipe
1 butternut squash, seeds removed and peeled, then chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup canola oil
2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 Tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, spices, salt and pepper. Add the butternut squash and toss to coat.  This might take some work, depending on how big of a bowl you use.

Pour the squash out into a single layer onto two baking sheets, leaving plenty of space between the pieces. Air flow is what creates browning, so give it some room to breathe.

Bake for 10 minutes, then turn all the pieces over and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes, or until the pieces are cooked through but not soft.  Add additional salt, if desired.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Quidditch Tournament 2012

It's that time of year again: My sister hosted her annual Quidditch tournament!  And what a difference a year makes: when my family and I went to this tournament last year, I wore a sun dress and thought I'd die of heat stroke. This year, I spent much of the time in my dad's truck to stay warm, despite wearing boots, leggings, a sweater, jacket, scarf and gloves.

My very organized sister, Katie, drove the boat on this tournament, organizing and reorganizing an intramural sport that universities from Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio attended. She found out last week that she would have to change the venue and start over again at a different field slightly off campus.  It's across the street from this '50s-era complex where some smart cookies must study:

Anyhow, the tournament went really well.  My view for the day:

Yes, these dogs are dressed as referees. Or, as their sweaters said, "Ruff-erees." I'm sure they're still more competent than the NFL replacement refs.
My dad got a great shirt at the tournament. It says "Brooms Up, Hammer Down." Clever, clever.
And my mom made me some birthday brownies.  Love.
My sister doing her professional thing:
And awards, handmade by my multi-talented sister.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Perspective on This Year

On my birthday, I tend to get nostalgic and like to think about what I've accomplished since my last birthday. This past year has been pretty amazing.  In just a single year, I have managed to:
Run my first half marathon (thanks, Rachael!).
Then run two more (the HeatBreaker Indoor Half and Zooma Half).
Then worked my way up to a 60-mile ride. In a tutu. With two-bite brownies and cocktails.
Belle and I also conquered my first triathlon, placing first in my age group.
I snagged another first-place age group finish at the Karhu 5K.
And completed my first marathon. It was tough, but I did it.
Another first? Our first Valentine's Day at White Castle. Strange, but true.
I also saw lots of great things, travel wise. Tim and I traveled to the Dells and North Carolina. I also made work trips to New York, China and South Korea.

What does the next year hold? Time will tell, but I'm looking forward to another rocking year.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me

Today's my birthday. Thanks, mom, for not giving up after 24 hours of labor.  I really appreciate it.

Last week, Tim was so excited about my gift that he couldn't wait.  I opened it when I got back from my girls' weekend Sunday. Tim (and Napoleon) got me a Kindle FireHD.  It's super sweet! I can watch all sorts of movies and TV shows for free with our Amazon Prime account, as well as borrow books for free.  My social media and bookish nerdy sides are showing, I'm aware. But it's an awesome gift because I would have never bought it for myself.

Last night, I got a mysterious package.
What in the world could it be? When I get excited, Napoleon gets excited.  Yorkshire terriers' ears are supposed to stick up, but his don't, so when he's excited, his ears stick back.
Kim got me arm warmers! I raved about the pair I borrowed from Kelly for the Zooma Great Lakes Half and said I needed to get myself a set. In fact, this very pair was in my Amazon cart, waiting to be purchased and sent to my sweaty little runner arms.
Doing his best McKayla Maroney Is Not Impressed impression as it is not pumpkin or chicken
I'm really touched by this that she not only remembered my birthday, but was listening when I was babbling about the race.  The card she wrote me was really sweet, too. I love this part of birthdays: presents and sentiments.  And arm warmers and Kindles.
I'll have more to say about my birthday later ... until then, happy Friday!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1. MacKenna came over earlier this week to carve pumpkin and enjoy all things fall. We had pumpkin ale from Trader Joe's, taffy apples, pumpkin spice pretzel (oh em gee yummy), pumpkin popcorn much and pumpkin cookies. I won't say that I'm sick of pumpkin, as that would never happen, but I may need to slow down my consumption just a touch. I did submit my pumpkin to Fake Meats' Halloween contest, and you should, too.
2. We got a family photo taken last night. I had a Groupon deal and have been bugging Tim for a family photo for a while. It's part of my 2012 goals to send out Christmas cards this year. The place regularly photographs dogs and asked me to bring a muzzle for Napoleon, after I told them he's a nine-pound yorkie. Yeah, not gonna happen. Many babies are born bigger than that, and I didn't see any kiddos with muzzles.
My dog in a tote bag
3. I'm knee-deep in planning my 2013 race schedule.  I'd really like to do a spring half, a mid-summer 70.3 triathlon and a late-fall marathon.  Too  much?  I love to run and I love to race, but if there's anything I learned from Zooma, it's that racing is a lot more fun when you're prepared and feel like you're going to PR.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

And the winners are ....

Jessica, samke23, Kelly @ Running Kellometers, the other Jessica and Irina! Congratulations on winning a free jar of the Classico pasta or pizza sauce of your choice.
E-mail me your name and mailing address by Friday, Oct. 26 to receive your voucher. If I don't hear from you by then, I'll have to pick another winner.

Now I'm off for a fun family photo!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Party in the USA

For once in my life, I possessed the party house and was popular. High school dream = achieved.

I found a super cute house for me, my friends and a few Chicago Running Bloggers on The pictures on the Internet didn't do it justice. For less than one night a nearby resort, we shared a home for the weekend. Because we all brought food, it turned out to be a very cheap girls weekend.
Race morning with the ladies:
One of the friends we made at the house:
He's a little wooden, but very welcoming.

The house had an awesome screened in patio, which I wish it was a bit warmer so we could take advantage.
We did, however, take advantage of the built-in fire pit.
The key to a roaring fire? A giveaway towel soaked in lighter fluid, with a little more lighter fluid.

And a look at some of our homemade meals. Erin cooked up pizzas Saturday night.  She also made this awesome vegan French toast casserole Sunday morning. My contributions included vegan banana muffins and crock pot steel cut oats.
We also had a great time playing games, talking running and talking shop ... aka, blogging, SEO, Twitter and our favorite memes.

We tweeted each other ... a lot.
And practiced our Gangnam Style routine. I swear, only Sierra could make this routine look hot. Can you believe that despite working in social media and traveling to Korea recently, this weekend was the first time I saw this glorious video? I live under a rock ....
This was a lovely weekend away that I really enjoyed. The house was beautiful, the company was lovely, the food was amazing and the price was right. Despite that little interlude Saturday morning that including charging up Wisconsin's Mount Everest, I had a great time.  I really hope we have the chance to do something like this again. There's nothing quite like conversations over a bonfire and a glass of wine.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Race Report: Zooma Great Lakes Half Marathon

This marks my third half marathon in one year, and it occurred almost exactly one year after Rachael and I traveled to Kentucky for the Big Hit Half Marathon. This was also my slowest half to date. I could make lots of excuses, but I think I'll just say that I have a lot to work on this winter.
Let's back up to Friday. Kelly and Maggie picked me up and we went off to our rental house in Fontana, Wisconsin. At the house, we met up with a ton of other Chicago Running Bloggers and friends, including Erin, Kim, Sierra, Amy, Emily, Kayla and Marcia. Jackie, Katie and Jenny also joined in on the fun Friday and Bobbi joined us Saturday, along with my coworker, Emily, who I ran a 5K with earlier this summer. I'm missing people, and I'm sorry. Please comment and leave me your blog!

We wandered over to the Abbey for packet pick up, which was about one mile away from our super awesome vacation home.

Packet pick up was painless, except that they didn't give me a shirt the first time around.  There were a few vendors there and we won a bit of swag.

We also stopped by a bike demonstration where Another Mother Runner and SkinnyRunner were hanging out.  I wish I was as cool as them .... or as fast as Sara Hall, who made an appearance the next day.
Back at the house, Erin made us an awesome pre-race dinner.  Bloggers: we know how to eat.
Saturday morning, we rolled out of the party house at 6 a.m. to head to the Abbey to take a shuttle at 6:30.  We hung around in the lobby to keep warm (and Kelly let me borrow some arm warmers, too). And I finally got to meet Run with Jess, who lives in the town where I went to college. Small world!

We decided to wear matching compression socks, which turned out to be a great idea. Any time I was bored on the course, I just looked for someone in identical socks to talk to.

After a shuttle that seemed really long ...

We ended up at the start line.  It was gorgeous with the sun just rising, but there were not enough port-o-potties. There were 400 women and seven toilets. Not enough, race peeps.
Once we were off, the actual running wasn't nearly as fun as hanging out at the party house.  I was doing OK for the first three or four miles, then I just started to lose steam.  My heart rate was really high and the downhills were trashing my knees.  My right leg felt like a rag doll's leg and like it might collapse under me.  It was the weirdest sensation. I was reduced to run/walking and watching countless people breeze by me. It was hard to deal with. However, my favorite sign on the whole course, which I should have taken a photo of, said "If it was easy, your husband would do it." Ha!

The course was straight up gorgeous, passing some super posh houses and beautiful fall foliage. Around mile 10, we went right past the finish line, which was also really disheartening, because the worst was yet to come. Around mile 11, we encountered a massive hill.  The hills Kim and I ran were nothing in comparison. I questioned my own sanity several times and I knew I was unprepared. And fat. And slow.

The end couldn't come soon enough for me. Volunteers handed you a finisher's necklace, a bottle of water and bananas.
Oddly, there were no bagels, pretzels or snacks. Instead, we got a little box lunch, coffee and wine.  Lots of wine.  They were out of champagne by the time I bellied up to the bar, though.
Thankfully, no one in our house came up short on the food. You know you're hanging out with runners when there are five sleeves of bagels, two bunches of bananas and three types of peanut butter in the kitchen.
Here are some of us, post finish:
The post-race party had the same vendors as the night before, along with a live band and a bunch of fire pits, which was a nice touch on such a blustery day.  My friend, Jackie, had her first sub-two half on this super challenging course, and Sierra got a new PR, so I shouldn't complaint about my 2:14 finish. It's my own fault for not picking the veggies over the candy for the past few months.
Compression, candy and veggies ... a perfect summary of the weekend
I have another post planned about our rental house, the eats and photos, but let's stick with talking about the race this time (EDITED: Here's more info about the party house!)

Finish time: 2:14:36

Cost: $85 if you registered early, up to $105

Pros: Scenic course, finisher's necklace, fun post-race party, celebrity blogger/runner appearances, vegetarian food options, well-run shuttle system, small runner field, female-owned race venture, great ladies getaway feel

Cons: Super hilly course, not an easy to get to destination, not a ton of freebies or post-race food options, not enough port-o-potties, pricey race, shirts weren't long enough for the taller ladies, the finisher's necklace is difficult to get Napoleon to model

Would I run it again?: Only to hang out with the Chicago Runner Bloggers and friends. I had a great weekend, but more because of the company than the race itself.  The course was probably too challenging for my current fitness level, and I would have preferred a medal to a necklace.