Kelly the Culinarian: October 2016

Monday, October 31, 2016

Cooking with Kelly: Easy Pasta Bake Recipe

Dinners these days seem a bit like a dash to the finish line. Between home work and work and working out and everything else, it takes quite the tango to sit down and enjoy dinner together. Plus, I'm dealing with some very distinct food preferences. It's hard to get enough protein when carbs are all the rage in my house. So when DeGustaBox sent me this protein-packed pasta, I went to work on an easy weeknight dinner that every member of our family enjoyed.

A word on the sauce scenario: You can use 56 ounces of any type of pasta sauce you enjoy. I had some vodka sauce leftover, which I added to a giant Costco jar of marinara pasta. This made it creamy, but not mushy. I added turkey, but you can use a meat sauce instead for an even easier process.

Easy Pasta Bake Recipe
1 pound ground meat (I used turkey), cooked and drained
1 box Barilla protein pasta
56 ounces pasta sauce
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 pint cherry tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 nonstick pan with olive oil. Combine all ingredients except the tomatoes and mix to combine. Pour into the pan and top with tomatoes. Bake for 35 minutes or until pasta is cooked. Cook for five minutes before serving.

Friday, October 28, 2016

A Dinner at Trattoria Gianni

Oh what a night! We've been ridiculously busy, but it's nice to get out of the house in some nice clothes to have conversation with other adults. We were recently invited to enjoy the dinner menu at Trattoria Gianni, a restaurant with a nearly 30-year history located right across the street from the Steppenwolf Theater. It's a traditional Italian eatery featuring homemade pastas and a menu of recipes made the Old World way. It's cute inside, with exposed brick and a very regal feel.
In addition to wine and homemade bread, we started with appetizers.

Aricini Siciliani

Polenta ai Funghi di Bosco 
The Aricini Sicilianim might be my favorite of the evening. It was saffron risotto balls fried and rolled in homemade sauce. It was crunchy and creamy and totally droolworthy.

Onto the salad course!

The burrata cheese on top the bruschetta was amazing. It had little chunks of garlic in the cheese and was topped with a savory pesto sauce. I had to pace myself because the pasta course was upon us and that's what we were all here for.


Our waiter told us their take on gnocci, in the bottom left photo, is most often referred to as "little pillows of heaven," by their regular customers.

By the time we got to the entree course, I was losing steam. But believe me, I will do anything for my readers. So when these plates came around, I rallied for the team.

The salmon was so good our table ordered a second. It was perfectly done and the capers really finished off the dish beautifully.

By the time I got to dessert, I was eating gingerly. I was full full full, but I have another stomach for sweets so we were all good.

I diligently tried a bit of each, and I must say that the tiramisu was so amazing. Worth every damn calorie, easily.

Huge thank you to Blast! Marketing for the invite, and Trattoria Gianni for the hospitality.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. Happy birthday to me! I had an awesome introduction into the world of being 32. We saw Hamilton last night in honor of my big day, and I have to say, it's worth all the hype and every penny of the price of admission. We already listened to the soundtrack on the way home and are shopping for more tickets. If you have the opportunity, just go. It's unlike any other theatrical experience out there.

2. I know it was only a coincidence that my latest Cabot Creamery shipment arrived on my birthday, but it sure did feel festive. I got all the Greek yogurt we can't get locally, and am looking forward to whipping up so. many. smoothies!

3.  I finally took Napoleon to a new groomer near our new home, and I'm pleased with the results. It's a local business and the people are very sweet. And I think he looks pretty handsome afterwards, too.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Training Tuesday: Welcome to the Off Season

Post Ironman, I kept working out to look fly for the wedding. Then I sat on a beach at had pina coladas and jerk chicken every day, and it's hard to push myself to give a damn right now.
But the next season of races is right around the corner, always.

So train I will, workout I must. This off season, we're focusing on cutting weight and building strength. Not necessarily muscles, because that's not what you need for endurance sports, but instead, building functional agility and strength for triathlon. The goal here is to get leaner and faster for the 2017 season. I'm already signed up for Ironman Wisconsin, and will do my annual Circular Logic Marathon. I know for both events, I can do much better than last year. We also recently acquired a rowing machine and I'm over the moon about the training potential of being able to row a couple thousand yards whenever time allows. I plan to be a menace in the water next year with this help. So here's what I'm doing until I kick off marathon training:
  • One long run a week
  • One hour-long trainer bike ride a week
  • Three sessions of body-weight training a week (with rowing as a warm up)
  • One 5,000-meter row a week for time
Here's to sore muscles and gains, bro.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Happy Halloween!

It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks - buying a house, selling a house, renovating a house, completing the Ironman, getting married. We've been busy, to say the least. But I feel like we're leveling out and adjusting. The first measure of this was busting out the Halloween decor.

Halloween is my favorite holiday. It's right around my birthday and is a blantant celebration of free food, specifically candy. You also get to dress up as anything or anyone you want for a night, no matter how outlandish. It's permission to be a sugar-high kid.

With that in mind, I think our new house requires more decoration. I've never had a yard to decorate before, so I think we need for more stuff that glows and moves and stuff. I at least need some lights, right?

A huge thanks to GiftsForYouNow for the personalized goodies to hammer home the punchline here - we're home. In OUR home.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. I know I'm Internet famous and all, but it's jarring to find your face on marketing stuff, like this Groupon offer. Does this mean I get in for free?

2. My mom got us this lovely wedding present - it's so perfect for our new house. We found a spot for it and it already looks like it's been here forever.

3. Related: I've been shopping Ironman tattoos and love this one. I'm a fan of arrows and this is simple and classy. My concern is how it will age, since it's all straight lines.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

I'm back!

And adjusting begrudgingly to a life without instant access to the beach and pina coladas. It's a cruel reality. Hold on tight, I've got all sorts of recaps brewing, but alas, I need to tackle my mountain of out-of-office e-mails first. Stay tuned ...

Saturday, October 8, 2016

To my Stepkids on my Wedding Day

Life is a strange journey that never plays out exactly as you planned. I never thought I'd be a parent. Then again, I never thought I'd be an Ironman finisher, let alone do it twice and make marathons a lifestyle. But here we are.

Today I'm making lots of promises in taking my vows. I'm not just becoming a wife today, but also a stepmom. I've earned a life I never dreamed possible. One of mutual love and understanding and respect in which I've grown into a person I really like, and spend my time with some pretty rad people.

The smallest of these people are donning some squeal-worthy adorable outfits to join us at the altar as we start our new life together. Here's what I want them to remember, more than the cake and the barbecue and dressing up and the fake petals I'm sure will haunt the corners of our house for generations to come:

Dear Z,
Today is a big day. It's when we all get the same last name and become a family. I'm promising to be a part of this and to love your dad, you and your brother forever. I didn't get to see your first steps, but I can't wait to be a part of your future firsts. As the years go on, remember your dad loved you first. He was your father before he was my husband, but we're so grateful that life brought us all together.
I will love you always - family forever,

Friday, October 7, 2016

Marathons and Marriages

Happy marathon eve to all my running buddies! While I've run the Chicago Marathon (unofficially), I won't be hitting the pavement tomorrow morning at an ungodly hour. Instead, it's early to bed for me for a whole other reason. Tomorrow I start my new life as a new wife.

And I cannot wait.

In many ways, it's not unlike the marathon. It's been months of work getting here. It's been a long journey requiring dedication.

I'll be working a hell of a lot less tomorrow, though. There's make up and hair, set up and getting ready, but it's mostly just fun stuff for me tomorrow. There will be zero black toe nails, salt sticks, Gu packets, chafing or exhaustion, I can tell you that much. But there will be just as much joy, love and accomplishment.

Best of luck to my marathoning friends. First or 500th, it's an amazing experience. Enjoy your post-race beer, shower and nap, and think of me walking down the aisle around that time.

See you on the other side!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. I got my first no-chip manicure and I'm really impressed, but also doubtful it will last two weeks. I'm pretty accident prone, type a lot and work on my bike, so we'll see how this goes in the real-world. I'll be the judge of if this truly is chip free.

2. This is Napoleon watching the VP debates. He is rapt, and terrified.

3. Speaking of terrified, I was sitting in my car, minding my own business, when I noticed this monstrosity crawling between my lemonade and make up bag. What is this, and why does it exist?

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Why the Internet is Still a Cesspool for Women

Because when you're feeling fly and post a selfie on Instagram:

You get texts from people you've never seen before. And you decide to fight back. And this happens:

Send me your wife? So the rules of the internet are: hide your face or brace yourself for creepers, because if you're cute, you owe it to them. I especially like this person, who did not follow me nor has ever interacted with me before, wanted me to go away after he didn't get the results he was after.

And this is just the Internet - these people exist in real life, too. These are the same people who believe women are asking for it or shouldn't dress a certain way if they don't want to be treated poorly (but careful, don't dress too frumpy, either, or you won't be taken seriously).

So this post is dedicated to all those people. The guy on the subway when I lived in DC who followed me from seat to seat. The one who couldn't make eye contact with me when I gave a presentation at a conference. Or that one who mansplained to me about how to Internet, shortly after I won social media person of the year. Or the guy at the forest preserve who followed me to my truck when I wouldn't give him my phone number after a run.

Here's to you.

(Side note: Go google "women in business meme" to try and find an image to go with this post, and you'll see exactly what the Internet thinks about women.)