Kelly the Culinarian: February 2016

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. Blogging has given me a great deal many things - a career, a community, a voice. And this week, it's given me a car. Not just any car. A fully loaded, silly nice Chevy Suburban to try out on the town. I feel like Oprah (except I'm not being driven around). This thing has wifi, a heated steering wheel, two DVD players and my seat vibrates when I get too close to hitting anything. Going back to my old truck is going to be a little sad.

2. I finally got around to making the January RawSpiceBar recipes this weekend. It was Egyptian themed and super delicious. One evolution of this company that I love is there are alternative recipes on the website. I wasn't feeling like making a whole fish, so I went with the lentil stew option. The salad was the real star of this meal. I'm definitely adding roasted carrots to my salads in the future.

3. While there's snow on the ground, I'm already thinking about warmer days and long bike rides. I usually like to snack on real food on the bike rather than liquids or gels, so I'm pretty psyched that Luna sent me their new, reduced-sugar formula of peppermint chocolate bars. These are going to be so tasty a few hours into a training ride!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Training Tuesday ... on a Wednesday

I was just so excited about my brunch baguette recipe that I totally skipped over details on how my training for Circular Logic is going.

On the upside, I did get in a long run when it was beautiful outside in Chicago. It was so nice, in fact, that I got a bit of a sunburn. The plan called for 12 miles, I had hoped to do 18, and I settled at 15. Still worth celebrating, though, because I was feeling OK and like I could have kept going. So I celebrated with all you can eat sushi and zero regrets.

Zero regrets. ZERO.
As for Sunday, I slept in and babied my sore muscles, but not for long. I found a new source of turbo trainer bike rides on YouTube and tackled a tough 60-minute ride. It included standing efforts, which I skipped because on my wimpy trainer couldn't handle that sort of jostling. There's nothing more defeating than falling off a stationary bike trainer, so I'd rather not.

I've done two indoor runs since, at five and six miles. Related: anyone else super disappointed in the six-episode special of The X-Files? I bought the season on Vudu, since I don't have cable, and thought it was a waste of $10. Some things are just better left unsaid.

I haven't been to the pool in a hot minute. I've been sick and have been advised to avoid germy places, and I think my gym is a hotbed of bacterial activity. But, I miss swimming. And I've yet to wear my super ugly swimsuit. Since my immune system seems to be back to fighting shape (I hope), I'm weighing the risks of going against the risks of losing this training time.

In terms of running, an 18 miler is on the schedule this weekend. Here's hoping this catastrophic blizzard they're predicting isn't as bad as everyone says it will be.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Cooking with Kelly: Baguette Brunch Boats Recipe

Brunch is a magical meal that breaks down all boundaries. It somehow makes it acceptable to eat across the dining spectrum while also imbibing before noon. Winning all around.
My friends at Cabot Creamery recently sent me a care package, and who am I to ever turn down cheese.

I've been looking at upping my brunch game for a while, so it was time to get creative. What I like about this recipe is you can make everything in advance, then assemble it on brunch morning and throw it into the oven, then await your guests and rounds of praises while sipping your mimosa. It looks impressive coming out of the oven, and warms up great the next day (if you have any leftovers).

I'm planning on making this again, but doubling the stuffing part and using two rustic loaves instead of one baguette. Follow me on Instagram to see how it goes.

Baguette Brunch Boats Recipe

1 small onion, diced
Half a package of your favorite bacon
1/4 teaspoon diced garlic
5 eggs
1/3 cup milk
Half of a block of Cabot Seriously sharp, grated
2 green onions, sliced

Start by cooking the bacon in whatever way you prefer. I like to broil it on low for 10 minutes to make sure it's crispy. While that's baking, cook the onions and garlic for 5 minutes or until softened.

Allow the bacon to drain and the onions to cool. Whisk the eggs and milk together, then add the cooled onions, chopped bacon and shredded cheese.

Next, extract the guts from the bread. The easiest way to do this is to use a pairing knife to slice the bread, then scoop it out with your fingers. Be careful not to pierce the bottom of the bread.

You can do everything up until this step the night before. Spoon the egg stuffing into the bread valley and place on a lined baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until the eggs are no longer jiggly and the bread is toasted.

To serve, slice into manageable pieces and serve with sriracha and extra cheese. Enjoy!

Friday, February 19, 2016

2016 Naperville Chocolate Walk

Chocolate is basically the reason I run. I love all forms of chocolate - white, dark, super dark, milk. And in all forms, be it cake, donut, ice cream or cocoa. I do not discriminate. Asking me to choose my favorite is like asking a mom to choose her favorite child. I saw the Naperville Chocolate Walk benefiting Youth 360 on Facebook and hoped it was my kind of (chocolate-flavored) tea. Luckily, recently uprooted and now suburban-dwelling Rachael agreed to be my Galetine's Day date for this delicious adventure.

She purchased our tickets for $25 a piece, so my opinions are definitely my own. The short version: this event is worth every penny. The samples are generous, the concept is novel and the cause is great.

Here's what I love, beyond the obvious: The shops you visit during the walk are mostly independently owned small businesses you wouldn't necessarily stop in on a whim. I've haunted Naperville many a time and never stepped foot in at least 50 percent of the shops we visited on the walk. It's a great way to learn what's in your back yard while support both local businesses and a local charity.

The $25 fee covers all the many, many samples you pick up from 25+ participating establishments. It's not a race or competition, you can take as long as you'd like to meander around downtown, but you only get one sample per place. Believe me, that's plenty. It was a great mix of items to eat while participating and things to take home. We enjoyed countless little cups of amazingly decadent and velvety hot chocolate topped with cool and fluffy fresh whipped cream and double-churned dark chocolate ice cream, or ice cream topped with locally made hot fudge. All participants were also supplied with a cookie tin and bag to bring home truffles, cookies, cupcakes and chocolate bars.

I definitely went home full and took a few more days to work through the rest of the tin. I fell in love in the process - this triple chocolate cookie was life changing. It's super thick and chewy and I could taste hints of salt, too. I'm not sorry I finished it. We also picked up a dark chocolate bar with nerds inside, which was a surprisingly delicious combination.
I'm already committed for next year. See you then!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. I got myself some new kicks! I've gone through two pairs of Asics Nimbus running shoes in the past year, so why mess with success. Plus, they're purple. So I had to have them. I've put far too many miles on the pairs I have and these were the cheapest, so it was meant to be, clearly.

2. Taco Tuesday is a thing in my home, simply because it's easy, delicious an inexpensive. After my last VoxBox, I decided to try these taco meat pouches Hormel offers. They make chicken, beef crumbles or beef shreds. It's kind of a pricey proposition at $4 for less than a pound, but it makes tacos only slightly more complicated than ordering Taco Bell, so it was a nice treat.

 3. I'm more convinced than ever that my dog will do anything for a treat. He sat and stared for a solid hour because popcorn was on the ground and this.close to being available to him. When I get to the end of a loaf of bread or it starts to go bad, I toss it into the woods adjacent to my house for the little animals to survive the winter on. Napoleon got in a fight with a fat squirrel yesterday for some slightly moldy garlic naan. I recognize I did this, but it's still ridiculous.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Training Tuesday

My treadmill is rapidly becoming my best friend. For better or worse, I've found it more convenient to run in place for 2+ hours than to put on a ton of clothes, drive to a place to run, battle the elements and drive home. Convenient, but not easier.

There are a few benefits to logging 16 miles on a treadmill that you may not have thought about. First, there's no prep work. Just jump on and go. It's climate controlled, so you don't have to worry about apparel, and because you stay in one place, you don't have to think about carrying your water or nutrition. And the bathroom is always close. Plus, you can binge watch 3.5 episodes of your favorite cringe-worthy television completely guilt free (right now I'm watching Helix). Finally, my particular model of treadmill doesn't shut off at an hour, so I can just set it and go, go, go.

I'm mostly running with a few bike trainer sessions presently. I decided against going to the gym to swim for a while because I was feeling under the weather and germy gym was not the place for me. It's a shame, I just bought a clearance swimsuit so ugly it's sort of cute from a value bin at a tri store in the suburbs. It hasn't been to the pool yet, but I'm looking forward to seeing how different a legit athletic suit is compared to the Costco suits I affectionately call mommy suits. They're conservative enough for a water park, which means the leg holes cover more than I need, but they get the job done for $20.

My weather app informs me it's going to be in the 50s this weekend, which is a sign I need to run long if I ever saw one. My plan calls for 13 miles, but one does not squander weather like this. I plan to skip ahead a week and go 18 because when the weather gods are smiling, my feet are shuffling. Bonus: I've got a fresh pair of running shoes on their way to me right now. And they're purple.

It's going to be a great week.

Monday, February 15, 2016

First Look for Charity 2016 at the Chicago Auto Show

Every year, I marvel at the First Look for Charity of the Chicago Auto Show. This event is spectacular -  a less crowded, more leisurely view of the auto show enjoy in black-tie apparel over drinks and bites, all while raising more than $2.5 million for 18 local charities. This year was record-setting event, with donations topping $2.8 million. My tickets were complimentary but my opinions were all my own.

I find the people watching at this gala as enjoyable as the cars, because it's interesting what people wear to a black-tie event. Dudes are pretty straight-forward: wear a tux or you'll get turned away. Women is far less clear. I got a lot of compliments on my dress, both on Instagram at in person. It's from Ross, in case you're curious, and is now my de facto black-tie apparel.

I got my hair done this year, which I figure was my splurge since I didn't stay at the event hotel this year. Future FLFC goers, learn from my mistake. The event negotiates a really great rate at the attached Hyatt McCormick Place. If you've already invested on the tickets, go the extra mile and get the room. Thank me later.

My plan of attack was simple this year - I did the Jeep test drive last year, so opted to make a beeline towards the super car gallery. Sadly, when I showed up, they wouldn't let me in for whatever reason. I came back later and was admitted, so that was mildly annoying. Instead, I went over to the Goose Island booth before checking out the Maseratis. Those are some damn beautiful machines.

Since this is a food blog, let's talk about the food. The best thing I ate was a sushi platter from Union next to the Rand McNally booth. The sweet potato sushi was amazing with the wasabi sauce it was served on.

There were so many delicious mac and cheese combos, and this caprese salad was superb.

There were also drinks a plenty - cocktails, beer, champagne and wine were all on tap. I loved trying the signature cocktails and got inspired for future dinner parties.

I also wondered if I could tackle Ironman Wisconsin on this, which I found in the VW display. I've got strong legs, what do you think? 

You know they know how to throw a good party when there is a slipper guy. Cadillac hands out slippers for weary feet throughout the show. I wore some new shoes that I loved but they definitely need to get broken in, so these were a welcome addition to my apparel at the end of the evening.

A special thanks to the Chicago Auto Show for inviting me to this fabulous event!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. I went to a C2E2 Mardi Gras party last weekend at Level 257 in Schaumburg. I've seen the building from the highway many times and was eager to check it out. It's like a nerdier Pinstripes, offering bowling, vintage video games and modern favorites. Because it was hosted by C2E2, the whole thing gave me major goals for my next Halloween costume. I mean, there was a guy with a fully functioning Ironman costume. I just can't compete with my cloud costume.

2. In an effort to kick my cold once and for all, I'm uping my sleep game this week. I've been trying to get to bed by 9:30 and have been sleeping fairly soundly, thanks to a humidifier and being generally tired from running. This is far cry from my intense bouts with insomnia, and for that I am very grateful.

3. The Chicago Auto Show charity preview is tomorrow night! Follow me in Instagram where I'll be sharing all the shenanigans using #FLFC16. I've already made a plan of attack: I'm going straight for the supercars, followed up with a visit to the Goose Island kiosk and oogling some Maseratis I'd never buy. It doesn't hurt to dream big.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Remember when I broke my rib?

Lab report about my broken rib
I mentioned in passing last year that I was super sick at the end of October and thought I screwed up my rib. The long version of the story was I had been coughing violently for a few days, enough that I couldn't sleep at night and my coworkers were leaving cough drops on my desk. But I felt fine enough to run. So on a Friday afternoon, I set out for a run around my office park during lunch. I remember it was cold and windy, which already made my breathing labored. I got just over two miles away from my office, just over a small bridge when I coughed and felt a crunch in my right side. It hurt bad enough when I ran that I wondered if I would make it back to my office. I considered flagging down a police officer. I didn't, and I got back to my office, defeated and in pain.

In the days following, my side ached and I joked, "Remember how I broke my rib?"

Turns out, I did.

I had an unrelated chest X-ray this week and the first thing the nurse asked me was if I'd ever broken a rib. I said no, then said, unless it's right here, I thought I broke this one in November.

It lined up perfectly with the questionable calcification on my right side.

My latest running injury was a broken rib, earned on this fateful four-mile run (which I someone still completed at an 8:25 pace?).
The run in question

That also means I ran a half marathon two days after.

Can I get some sort of bad ass badge now?

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Training Tuesday

The timer resets after 100, btw
What a whirlwind week! I can happily say I've completed my longest treadmill run to date: 12 almost unbroken miles with my shows and my box fan keeping me company. It wasn't really that bad - I slowed it down to a comfortable pace and just settled in. I did have to break at 10.4 to hit the bathroom briefly, but I got right back at it. I would have kept going to complete a half marathon, just because that sounds more badass, but I had to get moving to make an appointment, which was the reason I did the treadmill in the first place.

As for the other disciplines, it wasn't a very regimented week. I didn't get in a second swim, but I did run almost every day of varying lengths. Since my focus is my April 2 marathon, I'm OK with that. I did bike twice, each with fairly steady speeds and time in the saddle.
As for this week, I'm a little under the weather, again, so we'll see what I'm able to accomplish. At the very least, I plan on a long run on Sunday to balance out whatever inactivity I need to beat this damn cold.

Happy training!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. I'm now LA Fitness famous. Or infamous. I managed to not just leave an item at the gym, but my entire swim bag containing paddles, a pull buoy, a kick board, goggles, swim cap and waterproof MP3 player. Plus my swimsuit. Then, I proceeded to not notice for a week. When I showed up to claim it, the guy behind the counter told me he knew the exact bag I described. I really need to put my name on it.
Basically, all of this
2. I'm definitely springing for the TSA Precheck. I filled out the application while I waited in the most ridiculous security line ever on my way back from Orlando. Not to mention, I almost missed my Orlando flight after waiting in the security line for 90 minutes. With the amount of time I spend in airports for work and pleasure, $85 for five years is well worth the investment.

3. Next week is the First Look for Charity! I just bought a fancy new dress for the event and am looking forward to eating my heart out. New goal: Eat ice cream in an even fancier car than I did last year.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Win it Wednesday: Corner Bakery Cafe Gift Card

I mentioned last week about my renewed interest in healthy eating and my little trip to The Corner Bakery. I've been a fan of the place since grad school. When I lived in Washington, D.C., there was a Corner Bakery on the ground floor of the National Press Club building that I would get lunch at some times. When you don't have a kitchen and are living alone, picking up a salad is about the closest thing to healthy eating I could muster.

I was contacted by their PR peeps because they're highlighting some of the cafe's favorites. I love the chopped cafe salad because I get quite a few of the tasty treats like bacon and chicken and blue cheese without blowing my calories for the day. Another surprisingly good for you option is the Anaheim scrambler, which I learned they serve all day. Without the breakfast potatoes, which aren't available after breakfast hours anyhow, it's a well-rounded option all day.

If you'd like to try some of the cafe's favorite entrees, I've got a deal for you. I have $15 in gift cards for one lucky ready. To win, just comment with your Corner Bakery favorite. On Feb. 11, I use to select one winner. Good luck!

Update: This contest is closed! The winner is Alyssa.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Training Tuesday

There's nothing I love more than the feeling of a long run done. Not just miles, but more miles than you've run in longer than you can remember. Spent, accomplished, cold, hungry. It's one of the paradoxes of running that you can feel so hallowed out by a run and yet so very fulfilled.

That's how I felt Sunday. I did four loops around Fermi lab, replicating in a small way what I'll experience during Circular Logic. It's been longer than I care to admit that I ran 15 miles, and damn did it feel good. I was tired, but nothing hurt. I don't know if I could've gone further.

As for the other two sports, I feel like I'm making progress. I did a swim practice last week with someone who actually knows what they're talking about and got a few pointers on things I can improve upon. I feel like it's worth the time and money to meet with a swim coach this spring before I get too far into training to see what I can fix now to potentially improve my swimming this summer. I also recognize there's only so much work I can do on my swim stroke. Eventually, I need to get out into open water and practice continuous swimming in race-like conditions. It's the different between treadmill runs and trails.

I'm spending more time on my bike, and my butt sure feels it. I've been looking into options for a full tune up for Suzie Slice and I think I'll opt for a Groupon buy. My goal is to be outside riding in April, get the bike all ready for the season and jump into distance rides by mid-May. There was a ride last year around that time that I missed out on because of a conflict, so I'd love to be able to tackle it this year.

Yet this week: Treadmill tempo run, one distance swim, one drill swim and one turbo trainer ride before the long run. Time to get it done!

Monday, February 1, 2016