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RSBC 2014 Week 4 Round-Up: February With a Cherry on Top

For some reason I was expecting a little more fanfare with the end of February. You know, 32 degrees or something. But it was not to be. It’s a good thing we took matters into our own hands and added a little bit of summer to spur us on through what I certainly hope are winter’s death throes, right? A good thing we tossed some cherries at the snow and cold? Just to show them what they’ll be missing out on in a few months?

But even though we had to use most of our energy to stay warm, we were able to spare a little for brainpower this February, were we not? We did learn something? Something about just how much we can take . . . and when to stop complaining and get back to the business of life? Am I right? At least that is what I learned: I can’t be bothered with the weather, I’ve got an 8-miler to run. Life, for better or worse, doesn’t freeze even if my fingers do.

We also learned that cherries are a little bit harder to find in February than at other times of the year. And maybe a little trickier to work with. Kara has a delicious sounding scone recipe to share, which, unfortunately, was not a hit with the kiddos. (I’d eat them Kara! All of them!) But she did hit a home run with the Ironman, finishing up the last couple of miles as February was turning to March.

(Which, as previously noted, did not mean winter-turning-to-spring. *sigh*)

karascherries

 

Once again, I’ll add more round-up-ish-ness as it arrives in my inbox!

UPDATE: Rachel finished the half-Ironman option of the challenge. Way to go, Friend!

RSBC Week 4: Honey with a Cherry on Top

Perhaps I should have chosen a more accessible, more seasonal challenge ingredient. Then, perhaps, I would not have been scrounging around for cherries of any kind: fresh, frozen, dried, canned. But alas! Apparently all I could think of was that cherries would make the winter better. And, actually, I hold to that thinking. Cherries would make the winter better. It’s a shame that you can’t find them when you want them most.

My apologies to those of you who were, like me, running around the grocery aisles looking for an acceptable form of cherries. (I hope you did not, however, cover as many miles as I did on foot this month, as 164 running miles is entirely too many — unless you are training for a big race.)

And if you did cover that much ground, let me make it up to you with this delicious kale salad recipe: kale with dried cherries, toasted pecans, sliced radishes, crumbled goat cheese, and a delicious homemade honey-mustard vinegarette. It has become a favorite of ours since I first made it six or so months ago — and a favorite of everyone I’ve served it to (which is not a small number).

(Also, send me your week 4 RSBC-ing and I’ll post the round-up early next week. lizzie (at) motherrunner (dot) com.)

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Kale Salad with Cherries and Honey-Mustard Vinegarette from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

I’m not going to tell you exactly how much of what to add to your salad. Salads like this, I believe, are really a matter of personal preference. But I am going tell you that you can use whatever nuts/fruits/etc. you love. I’ve made it with dried cherries/pecans/goat cheese/radishes as it does in the original recipe and it was so good. I’ve also made it with pistachios and nectarines, with candied pecans and soy-spiced pecans, feta cheese and muenster cheese and been equally happy with the result.

For the salad:
A bunch of kale, washed, dried, and sliced into ribbons or bite-sized pieces.
A handful (give or take) of toasted pecans
A handful (give or take) of dried cherries
A few radishes, sliced thin
Some goat cheese, chilled and crumbled

For the dressing:
3 T. olive oil
1 1/2 T. white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. honey
1 T. dijon mustard
salt a pepper to taste

Toss salad ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour over salad. Toss to combine, then let sit for 20 or so minutes to allow the dressing to tenderize the kale.

RSBC Week 3: Squash That Chocolate Craving

I feel a little bit like I cheated on this week’s cooking challenge. It’s a silly thing, really, but I bought butternut squash that had already been peeled, seeded and chopped. Does that disqualify me? For some reason, I feel like the “honest” thing to do in the RSBC Challenge is took cook with the whole-est of whole ingredients. And this butternut squash was in pieces when I bought it. Forgive me, please.

As penance, I submit to you my offering for the week. Please do not confuse it with a health food, even if there is a shocking lack of butter. It is a cake. A butternut squash cake, rolled around a cushion of whipped chocolate ganache. It is both tasty and delicious. More so than I expected and I expect a lot from my baked goods.

In other news I, well, ran a lot this week. I didn’t think I’d be able to since Manchild was out of school and I’d have to wake up early to go running. But, as luck would have it, it’s much easier to get out of bed at 6:00am when there is a small person kicking you in the face and you’re not getting any sleep anyway. Credit goes to Little Miss for the fact that I ran every day this week and am currently — including this morning’s 19+ miler — sitting on 143 miles for the month. So, yeah. Ironman completed!

But there’s still next week’s cooking challenge! And the challenge ingredients are . . . honey and cherries. Two of my favorite things. I hope it’s a fun way to end this year’s RSBC challenge!

Now that the business is all out of the way, let’s get to the pleasure. Here’s the butternut squash roll cake recipe. Make it and love it.

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Butternut-Chocolate Roll Cake adapted from *sigh* The Food Network

For the cake:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup butternut squash puree (I steamed my butternut squash until tender and then put it in the blender)

powdered sugar

For the filling:

1 cup heavy cream

8 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

sprinkle of salt

splash of vanilla extract

 

Prep an 11×17 pan by buttering it, lining it with parchment paper, and then buttering the parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 375.

Prep a clean kitchen towel by sprinkling it generously with powdered sugar. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In a large bowl or the bowl of a mixer, mix the eggs and sugar at high speed until thick and pale yellow — a couple of minutes. Add in the squash puree and beat until blended. Gradually add the flour mixture and stir until combined. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until the cake springs back when touched, about 12 minutes. Turn the cake out onto the powder dish towel, peal off the parchment paper, and roll the cakeup tightly, starting from the short end. Place the rolled up cake on a cooling rack to cool completely.

While that is cooling, make the ganache: Place the chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Heat the cream until it just begins to bubble around the edges. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and stir until the chocolate is all melted and it is smooth. Stir in the salt and vanilla, then let cool completely — first to room temperature, then in the fridge.

To assemble the cake, use a hand-mixer to whip the ganache until light and fluffy. Unroll the cake and spread the ganache evenly over the entire cake. Then roll it back up. You *may* want to let it chill in the fridge for a couple of hours after that. Or you may just want to slice off a piece and eat it, which was what we did. We didn’t regret it. Not even a little bit.

RSBC 2014 Week 2 Roundup: Carrot-tops and Gingers

As promised, the round up for Week 2 of the Run Swim Bike Cook Challenge. Although I don’t know if I can really call it a “roundup” if I only have one other competitor to report on. Can I? Well tough. I’m doing it anyway. Here’s the roundup of one:

Our good friend Kara Wheeler submitted a delicious sounding carrot-ginger soup which, also happens to be a “secret” family recipe. It’s for sure on my list. She’s also killing it in the Run-Swim-Bike portion of the competition with 16.5 miles running, 1.3 in the pool, and 70.3 on the bike.

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Way to go Kara!

I’ll update with additional information — including week 3’s challenge ingredients — as it comes!

UPDATE: The culinary challenge of the week is squash + chocolate. I think I can get behind that. :)

UPDATE 2: Justin and Brianna submitted an absolutely mouthwatering recipe for carrot-ginger scones. Check it out!20140219-215644.jpg Definitely something to try.

UPDATE 3: My good friend Rachel has submitted her carrot-ginger goodness, as well as her mileage. Rachel is training for a triathlon in May (which I’m totally jealous of), so she’s getting some good training in this month. Last week she ran 4 miles, swam 600 meters, and did a yoga workout as well. Oh, and she cooked up some Thai Orange Chicken. Mmmmm.

thaiorangechickenI’m having a little dinner envy in addition to triathlon envy.

RSBC Week 2: Don’t You Carrot (and Ginger) All About Your Body?

I’m going to go ahead and be grateful that my annual bout of the flu hit relatively early in the month, and that it appears to be relatively mild. A day or so of achy-ness, a mild fever, some coughing. (Little Miss is slightly worse off that I am, but not so badly off that she can’t continue in her paper-shredding, table-climbing ways.)

It does, unfortunately, mean that I missed a couple of days of running. Boo. My total mileage for the first half of the month: 73.6. And even though I’m more than half way to my 140.6 Ironman goal, I’m feeling a little behind. I also got a little bored with my normal running route and did this one day instead:

runngingmap

I may sound a little bit like an overachiever here, but I didn’t do all the cooking/baking I wanted to do. Yes, I did make a carrot/ginger dish for dinner this week. But I wanted to make some carrot-ginger muffins as well, and instead of doing that, I took 7 hours worth of naps in two days. Time well-spent, no doubt, but still. The carrot-ginger muffins didn’t get made. Yet. Maybe next week.

This dish is actually a quick-and-easy family favorite. Soba noodles. Sauce. Stir-fried veggies. Squish asked for seconds, and the next day when I served myself a bowl of leftovers, he and Little Miss begged for me to share and I ended up having to get myself something else for lunch because they didn’t leave any for me. :/

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And all you do is cook your package of soba noodles according to package directions, and while that is happening make the sauce (from Eat Live Run) by blending these ingredients in your blender until smooth:

1/2 cup tahini

1/4 cup canola oil

about 1/2 cup hot water

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

2 tsp fresh minced ginger (I used at least a tablespoon

1 tsp minced garlic

When that is done and your noodles are drained and rinsed, heat some oil in a skillet. Peel and cut up some carrots and sugar snap peas (and/or any other vegetables you want) and toss them in the skillet (I added some chopped fresh ginger as well) and sprinkle with some salt. Cook until slightly tender — 5-7 minutes, probably. Then pile some noodles on your plate, top it with the veggies, and drizzle some sauce on top. You should have plenty of sauce left over to dip vegetables in or as a salad dressing for the next week or so. You’re welcome.

Don’t forget to send me your week 2 tragedies and triumphs! I’ll post them here, along with Christy’s week 3 cooking-combo challenge, next Monday.

RSBC 2014 Week 1: Get Yourself an Egg and Beet It!

So, beet greens. And eggs. I thought I could probably do something with that. And I did. Something that looked like this:
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This is how I did it: First, I cooked some quinoa. Then I took a few beets (3), peeled and chopped them into 1/2 inch dice and a couple (2) sweet potatoes and did the same. I tossed them together with some olive oil and and salt. Spread them on a baking sheet, slide it into a 425 degree oven, and let the heat have its way with them for about 30 minutes — until the beets were soft enough that a fork went right in.

While the veggies were roasting, I cleaned the greens and stacked them up so I could cut them to ribbons with minimal effort. I heated some olive oil in a skillet and added some pressed garlic (if you don’t have a garlic press, let me recommend investing in one), and after the garlic sizzled for a minute or so, I added the beet greens. It only took a minute or two (during which I added a light sprinkling of salt) for the greens to wilt a bit after which I took them out and put them on a plate.

I cracked some eggs into the hot skillet and let them sit, undisturbed, for a few minutes until the whites appeared to be set (but the yolks were definitely still runny). Then I turned off the heat.

To serve, I tossed the greens and veggies together. Then I spooned some quinoa on our plates and scooped the veggies/greens on top. An egg went on top of that. And it was, in all honesty, absolutely delicious. I had no idea about beet greens. But now I do and I will repent of all those times I just tossed them. Plus roasted veggies . . . people, they just all taste good. All of them.

So that’s what I cooked. I also ran 39.4 miles. Even though there was snow and ice piled up all over. And even though I had to push a fully loaded double-stroller through it. This marathon isn’t going to train for itself, so I’m going to have to do it. But, as you can see, there are perks to running in the winter. Such beauty that I would have missed if I’d stayed in.
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My goal, of course, is to run all 140.6 miles of the Ironman, and with nearly 40 miles in the first week, I think I’m in good position to achieve the goal, but it is still early. Anything could happen! If you want to join in but you’re feeling like it is too late, remember the half-Ironman option that is new this year. You can totally do 70 miles in 3 weeks.

For week 2, your cooking challenge is to combine two delicious roots: ginger and carrots. Send me your updates so I can post them next week. (You should be sending weeks 1 and 3 to Christy at christy.spackman at gmail dot com.)

Happy Ironmanning!

RSBC 2014!!

20140201-211058.jpgFebruary is here! You know what that means … Run! Swim! Bike! Cook! Christy and I are excited to get started and hope you are too.

Quick re-cap: Ironman meets Ironchef during the month of February. That’s 4 cooking challenges and 140.6 miles.

More details on Christy’s blog! (This week’s cooking challenge: beet greens with eggs. Soooo good.)

And more from me next week.

RSBC Week 4 Roundup: Drinks with a Dash of Cinnamon

Cinnamon. Such a warm flavor. So comforting. So tasty. I thought it would be nice to end this year’s RSBC with the taste of cinnamon on our tongues to warm us from the inside out.

Of course, then I made a cold drink, which, though tasty, isn’t something I’m going to brew up on a day a snowstorm is scheduled to shower us with love, er, hate, er SNOW.

But Stephanie seemed to have the right idea. She brewed us up something warm and exotic to warm our chilly fingers and transport us to the Arabian deserts, which sounds pretty darn good right about now.
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Stephanie’s recipe is the only one I’ve received (so far!). And not only did she kill it in the cooking challenge, she also ran 30 miles this month and biked 9. I’m pretty impressed with Stephanie’s showing, especially considering she lives in Utah, which, I’m led to believe, has been a bitterly cold sheet of ice for much of the winter. Rock on, Stephanie. Rock on.

I’ll post additional recipes as I get them. I know Christy has one to share, but she’s been traveling and may need some extra time.

Otherwise, this concludes the 2013 RSBC Challenge! Another February conquered! Another Spring (or almost Spring) off on the right foot. Thanks again to Christy for letting me co-host. It’s been a pleasure.

ps My first post is up on Babble.com! Check it out and tell me how you power up for parenthood.

RSBC Week 4: Strawberry Horchata

First, if you’re holding your breath waiting for my first post on Babble.com tomorrow, you’re going to have to wait a little longer. I won’t be posting until next Wednesday. Just so you know.

Second, if you are participating in the RSBC, please e-mail me your cinnamon drink posts by Tuesday at midnight so I can post them on Wednesday! Thanks.

Third, way back a million (or maybe just 8) years ago, Micah and I were experimenting in the kitchen. We decided to make horchata. For some reason (or maybe no reason) we didn’t trust the recipes we found online, and in an effort to improve it, one thing lead to another and pretty soon we were cooking our cinnamon-sugar-rice milk mixture on the stove. We ended up with horchata pudding. This was not the way it was supposed to go.

I’m pretty sure one or the other of us ended up in convulsions of laughter on the kitchen floor at the unexpected turn of events. But the funnier thing was how tasty this “horchata pudding” was. I think we tossed some in a blender with some milk and ice cream and made a horchata shake, which, as you might imagine, was amazing. (Ice cream and a blender seems to be the solution to a lot of our “problems.”)

 

I had forgotten all about that particular incident in our life as newlyweds until after I issued the challenge last week. But once I did remember, I knew that I had to give horchata another chance. It may have bested us the first time, but that’s no reason to give up.

This time I looked around a little bit more and found a recipe I was sure would be a hit: it had strawberries, almonds, cinnamon. What could go wrong?

To be fair, it tasted pretty good. Everyone drank it just fine. But I didn’t follow the directions as closely as I should have, and it ended up being a little thick. And maybe I should have tried to master the basic horchata before getting all fancy with the berries.

So while this is a good recipe, I don’t think it’s the recipe. Horchata has bested me yet again.

horchata

Strawberry Horchata (adapted from DamnDelicious):

6 tablespoon white rice

1 1/4 cups raw almonds

2 cinnamon sticks, plus more for garnish

3 strips lime zest

Pinch of nutmeg

1/3 cup sugar

4-5 frozen strawberries

Cinnamon, for garnish

In a medium bowl, whisk together white rice, almonds, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, lime zest and 2 1/2 cups hot water; let stand overnight.

Put mixture in a blender and blend until smooth. Add 2 cups water and the strawberries and blend again until thoroughly combined; strain through cheesecloth or fine sieve. Stir in the sugar.

Stir horchata well before serving. Serve, garnished with cinnamon sticks and sprinkle of ground cinnamon, if desired.

RSBC Week 3: Sage and Garlic Mashed Potatoes + Week 4 Challenge

Christy said we could do any meal, any dish with our sage-two-ways challenge. I chose to do no meal in particular. Instead of preparing a breakfast or lunch or dinner or dessert or snack, I just whipped together a pot of mashed potatoes in the middle of the morning for no specific time and no specific purpose. (Except, of course, to be eaten eventually.) This is because sometimes life happens in such a way that you have to do things when you have a minute, and sometimes that minute is when the baby is napping, the pre-schooler is at pre-school, and the Manchild is doing his math worksheet at the table.

But the recipe encourages forward thinking: “Mashed potatoes can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered,” it says. So you say a prayer of thanks and stick that bowl of potatoes in the fridge for later.

This is my way of saying that while I have completed the cooking challenge for the week, nobody has tasted it. Except for the couple of forkfuls I had to make sure it was actually edible. Which it is. Most definitely. The yogurt adds a delightful tang to this sage-y, garlicky, fluffy take on mashed potatoes. And, as you know, I’m always up for delight. It’s one of my favorite things.

Now, before we move on to the recipe, let me remind you that we are to the last week of February. (That’s your cue for another prayer of thanks: we’re almost there! The end is in sight!) And that means we only have one more cooking challenge. Since Christy decided to get all fancy with the spices (er, herbs), I’m going to follow suit (only mine is actually a spice and not an herb): The week 4 challenge is cinnamon. In a drink. So that we can toast the end of the cold and the beginning of the warming season. (I tell myself every day that it is the last cold day and the thermostat’s only going up from here. It keeps me going, even if it’s a blatant falsehood.)

(And, in case you’re wondering, I’ve run 105 miles so far this month. I’m right on track to complete my goal of 140.6 miles.)

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Sage and Garlic Mashed Potatoes adapted from Epicurious.com

For potatoes:

1-2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, minced or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage, crumbled
4 russet potatoes (about 2 pounds)
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

For fried sage leaves:

olive oil for frying
12 whole fresh sage leaves
coarse salt for sprinkling

Make the potatoes: Peel potatoes and quarter. In a large saucepan cover potatoes by 1 inch with salted cold water and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Reserve about 1/3 cup cooking liquid and drain potatoes. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the olive oil in a small sauce pan. Add garlic and simmer until golden. Stir in sage and remove pan from heat. Set aside.

After you’ve drained the potatoes, let them cool slightly, then force through a ricer, the medium disk of a food mill, the large holes on a box grater, or mash them with your potato masher (so many options!!!)  into a bowl. Stir in the yogurt, butter, sage-garlick oil, enough reserved liquid to reach desired consistency, and salt and pepper to taste.

Make fried sage leaves: In a small skillet heat 1/8 inch oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and fry sage leaves, 1 at a time, about 3 seconds, until crisp, transferring with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle sage leaves with coarse salt.

If you don’t serve the potatoes immediately, transfer them potatoes to an ovenproof serving dish. When ready to serve, heat the oven to 350 and bake, uncovered, until heated through (15-20 minutes). Top with fried sage leaves.

Mashed potatoes may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

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