Thursday, June 27, 2013

Foodie Friday: Shells Stuffed with Butternut Squash and Spinach

This past week I tried out a new recipe. My husband and I don't eat a lot of meat. It's not because we don't like it, just over the years we've slowly cut back and it's worked out pretty well (on our overall health and budget). We'll eat a meat dish maybe once or twice a week, so I like to try out new meat-less recipes for variety.

Shells Stuffed with Butternut Squash and Spinach 

It's a take on stuffed shells/manicotti or essentially lasagna in a different form. 

1 1/4 lb butternut squash
10oz baby spinach
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 fresh red chili (I didn't have this)
1 sprig of fresh rosemary (I used dried)
3 sprigs of fresh oregano (I used dried)
24-30 jumbo pasta shells
24oz diced tomatoes
2/3 cup ricotta
2 oz parmesan cheese

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Boil water and prepare pasta shells according to the package.

For the butternut squash filling, peel and cube the squash into 1" pieces. Heat a pan to medium and fry one garlic clove until slightly golden. Add the squash cubes and ~1/4 cup of water. Cover and steam for about 20 minutes or until squash is soft. Add rosemary and a little salt and pepper. 

For the spinach, heat a pan to medium and fry the other clove of garlic until just golden. Add the spinach and cook until it's all wilted. Set aside and drain. Use a pair of kitchen shears to cut through the spinach so it's easier to stuff into the shells.

In the now empty spinach pan, pour in the diced tomatoes and ~1/2 cup of water. Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. I also added some italian seasoning. Pour the sauce into a 9x13" baking dish.

Season the ricotta with salt and pepper. I also used italian seasoning.
Stuff the pasta shells. I used a spoon to spread some of the ricotta inside the shell. Then spoon in some butternut squash filling and some spinach filling. Nestle the stuffed shells into the tomato sauce. 

I had extra ricotta, so I threw that on top as well. I spooned some of the tomato sauce over the shells so they wouldn't just be sitting on the tomatoes. 

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes.

Grate on some parmesan and pop it back into the oven for another 7-10 minutes without the foil until the parmesan is melted.


It was very pretty, but a bit bland. Next time I'll add more seasoning and probably use a jar of marinara sauce instead of the plain diced tomatoes. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Training Tuesday: Procrastination

Pretty much how my running went...

This past week I really did not plan ahead. I kept pushing off my Tuesday run until Thursday when I could either run or skip it entirely this week. I also knew I had my back to back run to do sometime over the weekend, but I wasn't sure where I'd fit it in because I had to work Saturday morning (I usually do my long run on Sunday). Turns out I didn't have to be at work until 8:30am, so I squeezed in 3 miles instead of the 4 I had planned. 
On Sunday, Dearest and I went for our usual long run. We ended up running 10 miles (I had planned for 9), but it balances out the previous day's run. Although I had run back-to-back-to-back-to-back, I still had a great run on Sunday. I ran my fastest 10k and 15k. :) I got my 10k under 1:05, but my goal for June is to run it under an hour. I have one chance left next weekend, but it may turn into a 2013 goal. :/ 

Weekly Recap
Tues: slept in and skipped the run
Wed: rest
Thurs: 2 mile run
Fri: 1 mile run
Sat: 3 mile run
Sun: 10 mile run (fastest 10k & 15k)
Mon: rest

In other news, there's about 66 days until my trip to Disneyland, which means I can start making priority seating ressies soon!
My favorite post-race victory meal (no reservations required). You just have to wait until 11am when they open. We may or may not have been the first ones there... ;)

The best breakfast in Disneyland is at the Carnation Cafe. As the only table service breakfast inside the park, pricing is similar to the other counter service restaurants, but the food is 10 times better. Without a reservation, the wait can be pretty long. On past trips, we have eaten there every morning. 
1st Anniversary breakfast at the Carnation Cafe

You can start making your dining reservations 60 days in advance. It is more priority seating in that it bumps you up to the top of the waiting list You may still have to wait 5-10 minutes. You can call 714-781-DINE (3463) from 7am-9pm Pacific time, 7 days a week. 

How was your week? Do you procrastinate and then pay for it later? Do you have a favorite "must eat" at a Disney park? 

Friday, June 21, 2013

T-10 Weeks!

I cant believe that in just 10 short weeks I'll be getting ready for my first part of running during the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend! This will be my third half marathon and actually third Disneyland half marathon- apparently I stick with what I like! ;) I'm mixing things up this year by taking on the Dumbo Double Dare challenge by running the inaugural 10k the day before.

I feel like it was just yesterday that I was planning out my 20 week training schedule. 
I can't believe that I'm half way through it! This does make me nervous though. I feel like my running is good enough where I can finish both events, but I am hoping for a big PR on my half marathon time.
My previous time to beat is 2 hrs 23 mins. My goal is to finish the half in under 2:20, my stretch goal is to finish under 2:15. My husband is also running with me. He can run circles around me (he literally does when we train together), but he stays with me for our Disneyland races. He paced me to my 5k PR and I'm hoping he can do the same for this half. :)

We're taking on the 10k as a fun run. In the two times we have run the Disneyland half, we have never stopped at any of the official photo ops. We have some pictures on Main Street, one in Angel's Stadium and a few blurry shots in between, but nothing with characters.
Blurry Dumbos in the background!

Our plan is to stop for as many photo ops as possible. We are also dressing up for the run. It's still a toss up between C3PO & R2D2 or Princess Leia & Han Solo. I'm aiming for the former, but I'm having a hard time finding mens gold workout clothes for C3P0. Go figure, huh?  

Foodie Friday: Boysenberry Pie

Welcome to my first Foodie Friday post! Thank you to Jen at Hello Fitness... We Meet Again for the inspiration! :) I wont lie, I definitely enjoy food. Eating it especially. One of my best stress relievers is baking. 

Dearest's favorite kind of pie is boysenberry pie. Boysenberries are pretty hard to find though. I haven't been able to find them frozen and have only been able to find them fresh at a one place. There's a pick-your-self ranch about 30 minutes south of us that offers boysenberries and for the past couple years, Dearest and I have picked berries and made pies. The season only lasts 3-4 weeks, so we make it a point to go when it starts. This past weekend, one of my good friends came to visit and we took her on her first berry picking adventure. 
It was a gorgeous day! 

We started hopping rows to find better berries. 

Dearest and my friend comparing the quality of berries.

We took home our goods and got ready to turn them into pies! It was about $13 for 6 pounds of berries. 

Here's my Boysenberry Pie Recipe: 

(makes about 10 cupcake sized pies or one 9" pie)
1 cup Crisco shortening
2 & 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup cold water

-mix flour, sugar and salt. 
-use a pastry cutter to mix in the shortening until crumbly
-mix with a fork and add just enough water until the dough sticks together and forms a ball
-roll out the dough
Cut the circles about twice as wide as the cupcake openings and line with the pie crust.

Cut circles for the tops or plenty of shapes to act as tops. 

Boysenberry Pie Filling
(for a 9" pie)
5 cups of fresh boysenberries, washed and patted dry 
1/2 cup - 3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
pinch of nutmeg
3 tbsp quick cooking instant tapioca
pie dough: enough for bottom and top crusts

-preheat oven to 400 degrees
-wash and pat dry the fresh berries
-mix berries with sugar, lemon juice, nutmeg and tapioca
-let sit for 30 minutes
-pour into uncooked pie crust, top with crust and pinch edges to seal
-cut slits in top crust for ventilation
-bake for 15-17 minutes until edges are golden brown for mini pies (for a 9" pie, bake 30 mins, then lightly cover top crust with foil and bake another 20 mins)

Wash and pat dry berries.

Mix ingredients and let sit for 30 mins. 

Fill mini pies with berry filling.

Get creative with your tops! 

Don't forget to leave steam vents for baking. 

Bake mini pies for 15-17 minutes. Allow pies to cool (about 15 minutes). 
Twist pies a bit to free them from the muffin tin. You should be able to pull them out easily. 

Voila! Mini pies!

I bake a lot of them and pop them in the freezer for easy to heat desserts later on. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Training Tuesday: Double Digits

This past week flew by! Between the excitement of the Princess half marathon and Glass Slipper Challenge registration opening and discovering some revealing info regarding a Tinker Bell 10k (see my post about it here), there hasn't been a dull moment this week.
Also this weekend, one of my very good friends came to visit. We went berry picking and made some mini pies from scratch. It was great to hang out with her and relax. 
Training Recap
Tues: 1.5 miles
Wed: 1 mile
Thurs: rest
Fri: 1.5 miles
Sat: rest
Sun: 10 miles
Mon: push ups, sit ups

My training went pretty well this week. While I'm not so pleased with my short weekday runs (they really should be at least 2 miles each, not 1 mile), I stuck to my long run distance of 10 miles.
Pretty sure my thoughts towards the end weren't this positive. 

Getting into the double digits was also one of my goals for June. Yay! This past run was actually only the 6th time I've run 10 miles or further. Ever. Considering I started training over 2 years ago and have completed 2 half marathons, I was kind of surprised! I ended up getting a cramp in my side around mile 8, but still had to get back to the car and didn't feel like walking the 2 miles back, so I ran it. I also think the cushion in my shoes are shot, so I'll be breaking out my new pair soon. :) 

Father's Day was nice- I was able to see my dad and we celebrated with the extended family by going out to dinner. 

How was your week? Did you do anything fun over the weekend?  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tinker Bell 10k Confirmed?

I'm pretty sure Active just confirmed the addition of a 10k to the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend. Either that, or they just plan to sell pins for a 10k. ;) 

NEW INFO: It seems Runner's World is thinking the same thing as Active about a 10k distance being offered. 

And yes, this is what I do when I'm procrastinating about running. I suppose if I'm planning to sign up for all these races, I really ought to get out there and train, huh? ;) 

3rd Wedding Anniversary!

Today is our 3rd wedding anniversary. I can't believe it's been three years already! The time really does fly by. 

Dearest may not make grand romantic gestures, but it's the little things he does, like make me coffee every morning or pick up my favorite foods when I'm feeling down, that make me fall in love with him every day. 
He went as far as suggesting that we go to Disneyland instead of our recent vineyard trip, even though we're going in 3 months anyway and it was his birthday (he's not the biggest fan of Disney, but goes because he likes to see me happy). I declined, which he later told me he knew I would do, which is why he asked. lol.  

Anyway, here's a quick look back:
Probably my favorite photo of the day. 

The gazebo was so beautiful at night.

My brother took this one on the sly.

How awesome is this?!

Yes, we had Mickey Antenna balls as our cake topper. 

Not entirely sure what I was doing, but I'm sure I was having fun. 

Fist bump after the kiss. ;) 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Training Tuesday: In a Funk

My motto all week.

This past week I was in a serious funk. I think it had to do with working 6 days straight right after getting back from vacation. Stress at work has been through the roof. The short of it is that I'm trying to do 2 other peoples' jobs while still maintaining my own duties. Still, as rough as it is, I am very grateful to have a job, a decent one at that. I'm just struggling with the transition. Thankfully, we're making some changes for the better, so I hope that will alleviate some of the craziness. 
Back to my running: I've been so stressed out that running, which usually helps to clear my head, was just making me more stressed out. I would get about a mile out and worry that I would be late for work if I didn't turn back immediately. Hence all my pathetic 1 mile runs. ;) Though ironically I ran one of my fastest miles on Thursday. 

Weekly Recap
Tues: rest
Wed: 1 mile run
Thurs: 1 mile run 
Fri: 1.2 mile run
Sat: rest
Sun: 8.8 mile run
Mon: rest

According to my Dumbo Training Plan (can't believe I'm halfway through!), Sunday's long run was supposed to be 9 miles. I was determined to go the full distance. The hubby has agreed to run my long runs with me, which really helps. We parked so that we could run out to our usual cliff side path and back- to total exactly 9 miles. At mile 4, I got a cramp in my side. I really wanted to finish running, but we opted to at least turn around, so we would be closer to the car if need be. Around mile 6, we were both slowing down (darn cramp!), so we walked and talked for a few minutes. I think we both realized this was the first chance in a week to have some quality time together! We picked up running again and as much as I wanted to make it 9 miles, I just couldn't do it. 

But I do feel a lot more optimistic this week. The last time I ran this far was at last year's Disneyland half. I think that's why I was so determined to finish. I know if I stick to my long run schedule on my training plan that I'll be more than ready for Dumbo in August/September. I feel like I've come a long way since 2011 when my longest run was just 8 miles before running the DL half. :) 

My first mile at my first half. 
I don't know why am I running in cotton yoga pants and a cotton t-shirt!

How was your week? Do you ever reflect on your running? 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Relay for Life: In Honor of my Grandparents

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to participate in my local Relay for Life to benefit the American Cancer Society. The Relay for Life is a 24-hour event where participants walk to raise funds. During the evening, they light Luminaria, paper bags decorated in memory of those lost or in celebration of survivors. 
It's so moving to see all the Luminaria lit up.

Personally, I have been touched by cancer in many ways, but the two people closest to me that I have lost are my Grandpa and Grandma (from opposite sides of my family). I made one in memory of both of them.

My Grandma passed away when I was just a few years old. While I do not remember her, I always carry a piece of her with me. My wedding set is her wedding set that she used to wear. It's a constant reminder to me to cherish each day together. 

My Grandpa passed away when I was 8-9, I think. I remember bits and pieces, but I know that personality wise, I have some of him. I have the same dry humor that my dad has and my Grandpa also had. :) 

I really enjoyed being able to participate. I usually register for my runDisney events on my own, but next year I'd like to run at least one race for a charity. 
Me with the Luminaria I made

Have you participated in any events supporting cancer research? Would you run with a charity? 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wine Country Recap

My husband and I took a quick getaway to wine country before we both committed to a workaholic summer. Our one objective: do nothing. We stayed at a lovely vineyard that had a Bed & Breakfast as well. 

Our private entrance to our room. Love the quaint home-y touches. 

We spent most of our time reading and relaxing on the porch... 

eating yummy cheese and wine...

looking out at this gorgeous view.

Breakfast was a scrumptious picnic among the grape vines. 

Just a sample of their wine... 

Before dinner one night.

A view from the top of the hill overlooking the vineyard. 

We had such a great time enjoying the warm weather and doing nothing. We will definitely be back to this B&B- I highly recommend it to anyone who's looking to spend some time in Central CA's wine country. :)