Friday, August 29, 2014

Foodie Friday: Thai Crunch Salad

Thai Crunch Salad

Have you ever been to California Pizza Kitchen? Ever tried their salads? They have one of my all time favorites. Even better that you can get it all over the country! (If you're going to Disneyland by way of SNA/John Wayne Orange County airport, they have one in the airport.) I've been craving a good salad, so I went on the hunt for a copycat recipe. Supposedly this is the official one from the cookbook you can buy at their restaurants.

The salad has crisp cabbage with vegetables, peanuts, and crispy wontons and rice sticks. It's tossed in a lime-cilantro dressing and drizzled with a Thai peanut sauce. At CPK, you can get it with/without avocado and chicken. 

The recipe has 3 parts to it- the lime-cilantro dressing, the peanut dressing, and the salad components. I made the dressings first, then let them chill in the fridge while I chopped the salad.

Lime Cilantro Dressing (makes 1 cup)

1/4 small red bell pepper, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small bunch cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons white vinegar [I used rice vinegar because it's what I had]
1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup [I didn't have this, so I omitted it]
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 

Place bell pepper and cilantro leaves in the work bowl of a food processor, then add remaining ingredients except for olive oil. Process until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds. 
With food processor on, add olive oil in a thin stream and continue processing for 1 minute after all the oil has been added; there should be no oil on the surface. Store covered in refrigerator for up to 1 week (whisk before using). 

It's a lot of ingredients, but well worth the effort.

In the food processor- super easy way to make homemade dressing!

Thai Peanut Dressing (makes ½ a cup)

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon (scant) cayenne pepper [I used ground ancho chili pepper, wasn't as spicy]
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon canola oil [omitted due to preferred consistency]

Whisk together peanut butter, vinegar, honey, water and soy sauce. Stir in sugar, salt, cayenne and red pepper flakes. Add oil and continue whisking until smooth. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to five days. Bring to room temperature and whisk before using. 

Easily whisked together. I used crunchy peanut butter. :)

Thai Crunch Salad
 (serves 4)

1 head Napa cabbage, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 small head red cabbage, cored and chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and julienned
2 bunches scallions (green onions), thinly sliced (white and pale green parts only)
1 large English (hothouse) cucumber, peeled, cored and julienned
1 large bunch cilantro, chopped
2 cups cooked shelled edamame (soybeans)

*Note: I used regular cabbage and romaine lettuce because it's what I had on hand. I recommend using napa cabbage and you can add in romaine or iceberg lettuce. I also used a pre-cut stir fry bag of broccoli, carrots, and snow peas. I used a regular cucumber, and forgot to add the extra cilantro and edamame. I also included the rest of the red bell pepper from the lime cilantro dressing.

2 cups roasted peanuts
4 cups fried wonton strips, found near the salad dressings/croutons
2 cups crisp rice sticks [omitted because I didn't have time to fry them]
2 ripe Hass avocados, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch dice [optional, but I always include!]
1/2 cup Thai peanut dressing
1 cup lime-cilantro dressing

Place cabbages, carrots, scallions, cucumber, cilantro, edamame and peanuts in very large mixing bowl and toss to mix. 
Pour lime-cilantro dressing into bowl and toss to mix thoroughly. Gently toss in fried wonton strips. Divide salad among four, very large, chilled serving plates and top with crisp rice sticks. 
Sprinkle crisp rice sticks over top of each salad, then use a squeeze bottle or syrup dispenser to drizzle Thai peanut dressing over rice sticks. 
If serving the salads with avocado, distribute over the salads. Serve immediately.

*Note: you don't have to put the salad together in this order. I threw the veggies in a bowl, poured the dressings on it (less of the peanut one) and added my toppings. 

Chopped salad components. You can really tweak this to any kind of veggies you enjoy.

Thai Crunch Salad!

It was a very tasty salad, and one I'll definitely be making again- with the ingredients that I forgot to add. The lime cilantro dressing was pretty thin (probably the lack of corn syrup) and the peanut one lacked any spice (probably because I didn't have the right pepper). I'd still eat it the way I made it, but I'd be even more delicious with the correct ingredients.

Do you have a favorite copycat recipe from a restaurant?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WDW Marathon 2015 Training Plan

The WDW Marathon is just about 20 weeks away (when did that happen?!), which means I really need to finalize my training plan! I've been avoiding a training plan for awhile, mostly because I'm in denial that I'm actually going to attempt a marathon, let alone possibly complete it. 

I looked at a few different training plans- the official runDisney/Jeff Galloway plan and Hal Higdon's novice 1 &2 plans. A few things I noticed- Galloway's plan goes all the way up to 26 miles, whereas Higdon's only goes up to 20. Galloway's plan has pretty low mileage on weekdays/alternating weekends, but Higdon's has consistently higher mileage, hitting double digits on weekends and even a 10 mile weekday run. 

I also took into consideration my other race plans. I have the Wine & Dine half and the Avengers half on consecutive weekend about 10 weeks before the marathon.

Last, but certainly not least, I thought about my own running habits. My regular running schedule consists of short weekday runs and a longer weekend run.

The Plan...
I essentially took Higdon's weekend long run plan and added Galloway's weekday running with a little boost. 

- Longest run is 22 miles: A lot of folks recommended training up to 20 miles max. I'm the kind of person who likes to be able to tell myself "you've done this before, you can do it again." I'd like to have that card in my back pocket if I need it, but I also know running 26 miles can lead to injury.

- Weekday mileage: The Higdon plan looked fantastic to me, except for the longer weekday runs. There's a 10 mile weekday run a few days before running 20 miles (40 miles total that week)! I know I won't have the motivation, so I cut the weekdays back.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Tips? 
Do you have a training plan for the WDW Marathon?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Training Tuesday

Training for:

I hope I'm not jinxing myself here and I'm just going to say it, but last week was a pretty good running week. While I didn't get in as many miles as I had planned, I still ran 5 days.

Tues: 1 mile
Wed: 2 miles
Thurs: 4 miles
Fri: rest
Sat: 8.5 miles
Sun: rest
Mon: 2 miles

My weekdays weren't so great. I've learned by the suggestion of many (though trying I'm trying to ignore it) that if I want to have any hope of a decent pleasant run, I need to get out there early. At sunrise, it's already 80 degrees, but it tends to be the sun beating down on me that gets me, rather than just the heat. 

Saturday, we woke up early and got to our running spot about an hour after sunrise. There were a lot more runners (the smart ones, eh?) on the path already. I took a different path this time, which was both a curse and a blessing.

I got to see this view. If it wasn't so dang hot, this long straight path would have been great for sprints!

I only carry a smaller handheld water bottle with me because there are so many water fountains along the path. When I realized I only had a couple sips of water left, I went on the hunt for a water fountain. I thought I had seen one pretty close, in the opposite direction, but I decided to go for it anyway. Only there was no water fountain! Oh the humanity! I headed back and found water, but the excursion added some unnecessary mileage. 

The downside to running around a lake...

I discovered that 4 miles is right around when I find my happy pace. I think at that point, the heat gets to my brain and I start running on auto-pilot. Haha. :)

How was your week? Do you fall into your rhythm after so many miles?

Monday, August 25, 2014

{repost} Disneyland Half Marathon Packing List

In honor of the folks attending this weekend's Disneyland Half Marathon events, I thought I'd repost my packing list from last year. Can't wait to read about everyones' experiences! :) 

*Originally posted on August 8th, 2013*

As part of my race/vacation preparation, I compile a packing list. I start months in advance and add to it as I remember things. Why such a detailed list? Let me tell you a funny story...

Our first runDisney trip, my husband forgot his fuel belt. Thank goodness for the expo! Our second race we were traveling separately and I was leaving a few days before him. As a precaution, I took all of his running gear with me, so he wouldn't have to remember as much (and if I forgot something, he could grab it). Pretty sure the TSA guy gave me the side eye when he saw I had men's size 12 shoes in my bag. Haha. Anyway, a good list *should* help me not forget anything, right?

With 3 weeks before I need to have my bags packed and ready, I've already started packing and putting things aside for the trip. 

For runDisney trips, my list is broken down into 4 main parts: running stuff, regular clothes, toiletries, and Disney/misc items. I'll just share the running and Disney portions of my list as I'm sure you can handle the rest. :) 

Running Clothes
- shoes
- tops (tank top & short sleeve, just in case)
- bottoms
- socks
- sports bras
- arm sleeves
- running costumes and accessories
- compression sleeves/tights/socks for recovery
- cheap blanket/sweatshirt for before the race, but to toss after it starts

* If you are participating in the Dumbo Double Dare, don't forget to pack two of everything! Shoes, too, if you can. You never know what might happen on your first leg of the challenge (puddles, water station mishaps, Grizzly River Run, etc).

Other Running Items
- running waivers (you can print them at the expo, but that means less time for shopping) 
- fuel belts
- Garmin or other pacing device & charger
sports bra iphone holder (for me)
- iphone arm band (for my husband)
- ear buds
- safety pins (just in case your race packet doesn't have them/they get lost)
- travel kleenex (never know about those port-o-potties...)- hair ties/bobby pins
- sunscreen & Chapstick
- deodorant
- sunglasses/hat/visor
- Motrin/aspirin 
- band aids for blisters
- KT Tape/brace/stability item, if you need it
- foam roller/tennis ball, etc for stretching
- Road ID
- pace chart
- proof-of-time from a more recent race if you want to change corrals (this will not apply to any 2014 races as proof of time requirements have changed)

- breakfast items (raisin English muffins, peanut butter & bananas)
- race fuel (I use Clif Shot Bloks)
- hydration drinks (Gatorade, Powerade, Nuun, etc)
- recovery food for post race

Misc & Disney Items 
- travel documents (flight/hotel confirmations, park tickets, gift cards, etc)
- Disney Visa (if you have one)
- chargers (phone & camera)
- camera
Disneyland Shirt Tote Bag (for the expo)
- Ear hats/other Disney attire you like to wear at the parks

Packing Tips:

When I fly, I try to get away with taking just a carry on bag. It can be a pain when you have to go through security, but if you've got everything organized and ready to go (like your bag of 3oz or smaller liquid items packed in an easily accessible place), it can be a breeze.

I'll be packing all of my stuff into my new Vera Bradley bag. Can't wait to take it on its inaugural trip to Disneyland. :) 
-In the event that TSA feels the need to search my bag, I'd prefer that my "unmentionables" weren't being manhandled and tossed about. I have a little fabric pouch, but you can keep them all together in a Ziploc bag.

-When packing your running clothes, lay our your entire outfit (including fuel belts!), just like you would the night before race day, to ensure you have everything. 

-Since I'm going the "carry-on only" route, my running shoes will be in my bag, too. You can keep them off your clean clothes with a shopping or grocery bag. I have another zippered pouch (can you tell I got bored one day?).

-If you are flying, pack your essential running gear in your carry-on. It may be a pain to lug around, but you will be thanking your lucky stars if your luggage gets lost. Don't want to break in brand new shoes/clothes on race day. :)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Avengers Half Marathon Race Course

The amazing Patty over at My No-Guilt Life shared the Avengers Half Marathon race course this morning. She has the inside scoop on tons of runDisney info! I hope it's okay to share this over here, Patty. :) Here's the race course from USATF, but check out Patty's blog for more info like race medals and shirts! 

It's different from both the Tinkerbell Half and the Disneyland Half, which will be nice to mix it up. At first I was disappointed by the lack of time in the parks (just 3 miles, 4 if you include the backside of Cars Land), but then I realized we're going through Angels Stadium! 

What do you think of the course? Anything you're excited for?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What's Been Happening Lately

This week seems to have flown by! I've been keeping busy with housework and other odd work jobs, so that's a plus. 

My husband and I had the lovely pleasure of having dinner with Lauren from Lauren's Glass Slipper and her hubby, Robert! Such a great time. I met her for just a few moments at the Tinkerbell Half and I'm so glad we got this chance. But I'm bummed we didn't get a picture! Next time! :)

Saturday, I found my new place to do my long runs! It's the great lake near our house with an amazing bike/pedestrian path. It's 9 miles around the whole lake, but I just did an out-and-back to get me to 6.5 miles.

There are beautiful lakeside houses to gawk at. Coming from California, you just don't see houses this big. Or at least this many. I'd want one of these on a vineyard somewhere. ;)

I did some shopping for home decor. I also discovered Hobby Lobby. That place is HUGE!
A bit of Cars Land for the home?

I got this for our kitchen. I'm sure many of you agree with this. :)

I also experienced my first Texas rain/thunderstorm. I've never seen rain come down this hard in the summer. And it was still like 95 degrees!

I've gotten down a rough training plan for the WDW Marathon that I'll be posting soon. I'm not too confident about it, so I'll definitely be needing some input! :)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Running Shoe Travel Bag

A while back I posted about a zippered bag I made for my running shoes. Between traveling for races, vacations, or even just to see family, I was tired of throwing my shoes in a plastic bag to protect my other clothes. So I made a cute reusable solution- a shoe bag!

I used cotton to let the shoes breathe, as well as a zipper for easy closure. And it's machine washable!

Friends who have seen my bag really liked the idea (after they got over the fact that I sewed a bag for my dirty shoes), so I decided to start selling them in my Etsy store.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Review: Erin Condren Life Planner '14-'15

I recently purchased an Erin Condren Life Planner to help keep my busy schedule in order. Between my regular work (though that's currently on hiatus), two side jobs, planning Disney trips, and preparing for multiple big moves over the next few months, I've got a lot I'm trying to juggle. I'm a big fan of paper planners. I know it's "old fashioned," but there's just something I like about having it on a page in front of me. Plus I still get full functionality of my phone. 

I bit the bullet and bought an Erin Condren Life Planner. Or rather thinned out my wallet. These planners are expensive. Was it worth it? Read on to find out!

**Interested in ordering your own life planner? Use this link to get $10 off!**

*Typical obligatory disclaimer: I was not compensated for this review. I purchased the planner on my own accord and all thoughts are my own. :)

First off, the Erin Condren folks know that appearance is everything- check out how pretty the box is! (The pink sticky note is just covering my address.)

When you open it up, it comes packaged like a gift with tissue paper and fun little extras.

There are many cover options you can choose from. I chose one of the classic covers in the Fleur Feliz design. I also chose one that they already had, but you can customize it in any color scheme, font, etc. The covers are also removable, so if you order extras, you can swap them in and out during the year. Not to fear, the covers wont come off unless you're really trying to take it off.

The planner comes with a two-page monthly layout. These months have the tabs on the side so they're easy to access. I like that it's a two-page layout- a lot more space to jot things down.
My November has since filled up- Disney World for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and then Disneyland for the Avengers 5k & Half! :)

After each of the month tabs comes the weekly layouts. The days start on Monday and go left to right. I know a lot of other planners go from top to bottom and from the left page to the right. This different layout allows for the morning/day/night spaces. 

It was a little hard to get used to at first, but I really enjoy it. I can easily see my days plans (be it errands to run during the day or dinner plans at night. Plus I'm not locked into a specific time, like other planners that have the hours of the day listed.
At the bottom of the weekly layout, there are 4 little lines that you can use for anything. I use this for my exercise/running. On one of the Sunday lines, I have a my weekly countdown for the marathon I'm training for in January. I use the other lines to record my weight, how many miles I'm supposed to run for my training plan, how many miles I actually ran, and a little bit about the run (my pace, if it was good, slow, hot, etc).

Each month has a different color scheme to fit the time of year, but it's not overpowering. October has a fall brown/orange theme, December has a deep green, February is pink, April is purple.

Note: There are two options for ordering- you can order a 12 month planner or an 18 month planner for $5 more. The 12 month planner goes from January-December of 2015, so if you don't want to wait until January to use it, get the 18 month. Kudos if you have the willpower to wait, I certainly didn't. ;)

After all the months/weeks, there are lined and blank pages for notes. I've used some of mine for my Disney planning/budgets.

Even the blank pages have pretty designs! If you like this particular design, they have a cover with it.

The planner also comes with stickers. Who doesn't like stickers?
A page of birthday stickers.

A second page of pre-printed things. Personally, I probably won't use many of these. I cut my hair maybe once or twice a year, don't go to concerts, and I do my own mani/pedis. 

Two sheets of blank ones are included. I've used mine for races, weddings, airplane flights, etc. They are also removable!

Behind the stickers is a double-sided pocket. It comes with a small booklet to keep contacts and birthdays/important dates. That way when you move to your next planner, you don't have to write it all down again.

Finally at the end, there is a clear plastic pouch to store things. It has a zipper closure, almost like a ziploc bag. I use it to keep post-its, business cards, etc. It came with a few cute gift labels.

These planners start at $50, more if you order accessories, etc.

So, was it worth it? YES!

After tax, shipping, and the extra $5 for the 18 month planner, it comes out to about $4/month.
That's well worth it, IMO, for a planner that can hold my bills, coupons, notes, etc and that's cute and colorful. It also inspires me to stay organized.
I've been using it a big retroactively to jot down things I've done or events that have happened. It also doubles as my fitness journal, so I can track my running progress. I've also seen people use theirs to plan out their blog posts/ideas.

If you like having a paper planner or you're considering trying one out, I give this one two thumbs up. :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Training Tuesday: Acclimating to Hot Weather

Sadly, running has been at the bottom of my priority list for the past month. It's been at the forefront of my mind, as in I know I really NEED to run, but it just hasn't happened. Now that I'm all moved and mostly unpacked and settled in, I have the time and energy to hit the pavement. 

Friday was my first time running since moving to Dallas. It actually wasn't my first time running here in general because I did a nice 3 mile run with my husband when I came to visit back in April. Last time wasn't so bad. The weather was in the 70s when we ran, but I remember the humidity. This time was a whole other story. 

That "feels like" 99 degrees was no joke. It was mostly the humidity that slowed me down. I'm used to a cold crisp ocean breeze instead of the thick hot air. It was nice to not be freezing, but I can tell it's going to take a while to adjust to this heat.

It was a beautiful run and my slow pace gave me ample time to enjoy the view. A nice perk- I figured out that one loop around the lakes/ponds is one mile. There's a longer loop around some of the apartment complex that's three miles.

We have about 21 weeks until the WDW Marathon (eeekk!), so this week I really need to set up a training plan!

Do you have any tricks or tips to adapting to running in warmer weather?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Enjoying the Texas Life

Now that I've spent about a week in Dallas, it's starting to feel more like home instead of just a weekend trip. I thought I'd be super bored with nothing to do since I don't have a 9-5 job, but I've been keeping busy. 

I've been embracing the housewife life and going grocery shopping. Our Whole Foods has a wine/cheese/beer bar in it!
I can see it now...
Husband: "What were you doing at Whole Foods for 4 hours?"
Me: "Oh, you know... Grocery shopping..."

Spending time at the pool...

We went to a lake. The water was wonderful and not freezing like the Pacific Ocean.

We saw a double feature at the Drive-In Theater (Ninja Turtles & Hercules- both pretty bad). We took a truck and made a comfy area in the bed of the truck. A fun experience!

And in true Texan fashion, we went two stepping!
Honestly, it was not what I expected. First, it's darkly lit, like a club. Second, the music is so loud, my insides are still vibrating from the sound. Third, it's super fun! It was my first time ever two stepping, so I wasn't great, but I had a blast. Every once in a while, they'll give the live band a break and play more club-like music. They shot confetti in the air and played this song (the good part is about 24 secs in, pardon the language). A nice intro if you ask me. ;)

Have you ever been to Texas? Did you like it?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Greetings from my new home: Texas!

I'm blogging from my new home in Texas! We survived the move and crazy 30 hr drive! I'm about halfway unpacked, but the rest of it will have to wait for later this week. 

I had anticipated embarking on the drive on Saturday, since my husband was flying in from Texas on Friday night. But he had different plans and surprised me Wednesday evening at work! I'll save his surprise for another post. ;) 

The 30 Hour Drive...
We ended up leaving on Friday afternoon, around 3pm. 

Car all packed and ready to go. Bikes strapped to the back. Roof Bag (i.e. a giant duffle bag) strapped to the top of the car. I wasn't so sure about this Roof Bag holding up since I don't have a roof rack and unfortunately we had to pack it full of my clothes. Like all my clothes except for shoes and my nicer dresses. I was keeping an eye on it incessantly during the entire trip. Happy to say it stayed on!

Central California

Arizona sunrise

Somewhere in New Mexico

Where are the signs for Radiator Springs?

We stopped for lunch at this yummy salad place, Vinaigrette, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Highly recommended if you find yourself in the area!

YAY! We made it! With 6 more hours to drive...

Texan sunset.

Oh, yes, we stopped for Chick-fil-A on the way home. Pretty tasty!

We arrived in Dallas moments before midnight. So happy to be home!

We did the drive from Santa Cruz, CA to Dallas, TX in about 30 hours. We drove non-stop, aside from a few meals and to stretch, etc. My husband drove the bulk of the trip and I'm amazed he was able to stay awake. He did this same drive just 6 months ago when he moved out to Dallas and he swore he would never do it again. Oops... The things we do for love? 

It will definitely be interesting living together again. I can already tell we've developed our own habits living separately for 6 months. But we're both just glad to be back together. :)