Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Dinner For a Tiny Crowd

Happy Thanksgiving Eve my friends!

I'm spending the week at home in Atlanta and it's much easier to do school work when I have a dog cuddled at my feet, a pantry full of snacks and a fireplace around the corner. Am I the only person who gets so excited about access to a new pantry? Probably...

While we're gearing up for the "true" Thanksgiving feast tomorrow, I thought I'd share a mini Thanksgiving feast that Torsten and I concocted last weekend. It's become a bit of a tradition to make a Thanksgiving meal for the two of us before we head home to our respective families, and this year's dinner was particularly yummy (though, I have to warn you, not so photogenic).

If you happen to be cooking for a smaller crowd this Thanksgiving, I highly recommend this menu! Full disclosure, we didn't begin cooking until 6:15pm and we had licked our plates clean by 9pm! That's my kind of feast.

Let me give you the play by play!

6:15pm: Oh geez, it's already so late! We better get started on dinner. But first, wine. This Pinot Noir is a new wine at Trader Joe's (for the low price of $6.99).

6:30pm: No more dilly-dallying! I start chopping the veggies and Torsten takes on the valiant task of cleaning-out the chicken (blech) for Ina Garten's Perfect Roast Chicken (all hail the queen!).

6:45pm: I prep the easiest appetizer in the world: Baked Brie with Honey and Almonds. I toasted some thin baguette slices in the oven for a few minutes to go alongside the brie. I omitted the almonds because I was too hungry to slice them.

7-8pm: The Roast Chicken smell is filling my tiny apartment with Thanksgiving vibes. Brie + wine + old Thanksgiving episodes of Friends and New Girl (of note: A Marathoner's Guide to the Friend's Thanksgiving Episodes).

8pm: "Salad" time! We made Cooking Light's Roasted Balsamic Radicchio with Pancetta and Walnuts. It looks awful, tasted delicious. 

8:30pm: Do the mashed potato! I made the simplest mashed potatoes (I even left the skins on and used a whisk to mash!) with skim milk and a little bit of butter, salt and pepper.

8:45pm: Dinnertime! The best part about Ina's chicken is that you roast the vegetables alongside it. Easy peasy (though, there are no peas in this dish - thank goodness).

9:30pm: Dessert! The cutest sugar cookies from Suarez Bakery in Charlotte. I must say, these tasted like cardboard and I only ate a nibble. Isn't that always the case with pretty sugar cookies??

 So there you have it! Low maintenance Thanksgiving-ish feast for two. With leftovers galore!

I will leave you with this awesome inflatable currently blowing away in my neighborhood. 

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving filled with good food, family, fresh air and football (alliteration!).

What's your favorite part of Thanksgiving?? (I won't judge if you say pie and not family).

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Recipe: Baked Honey & Banana Oatmeal

The mornings in these parts are getting chillier and I'm still stubbornly refusing to turn on the heat in my apartment yet [student budget cheapskate]. I'm also procrastinating studying for my Anatomy & Physiology test tomorrow morning.

So, naturally, I decided to try my hand at my first batch of baked oatmeal! Full disclosure: I also baked cookies last night and will be making pumpkin chocolate chip bars this afternoon for Torsten's office bake-off (don't tell! If anyone asks, *he* made them).

I loosely adapted this recipe from Kath Eats, my go-to lady when it comes to all things oatmeal.

I was highly skeptical of baked oatmeal for many years. I was worried it would be dry or flavorless or blah. But those fears were all for naught - this stuff is delicious! I promise I wouldn't share something with you that was dry, flavorless and blah. That would be mean!

I highly recommend this recipe for chilly mornings and busy weeks. I'm planning to reheat the leftovers for breakfast this week. I've heard that baked oatmeal is great brain fuel for memorizing muscles and nerves.

Recipe: Baked Honey & Banana Oatmeal
Serves: 4
Adapted from Kath Eats Real Food


2 cups rolled oatmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
1 large ripe banana, mashed
1 egg, beat
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup skim milk
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar


1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray 8x8 pan with cooking spray.

2.) Mix oatmeal, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cranberries  in a large bowl.

3.) Whisk together banana, egg, vanilla, milk and honey.

4.) Stir the ingredients from #3 into those from #2. Mix well!

5.) Pour into the greased pan.

6.) Bake for 25 minutes.

7.) Sprinkle brown sugar on top and broil for 3 minutes until bubbly and delicious smelling.

8.) Eat! I topped mine with Trader Joe's salted almond butter and more cranberries and it Hit. The. Spot.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Race Recap: Thunder Road Half-Marathon!

What. A. Weekend.

It's one of those Mondays where I could really go for another weekend (but really, that's every Monday). My parents were in town for the weekend and we had a great time exploring Charlotte, eating lots of yummy food and walking up a storm.

But, I digress. I also ran the Thunder Road half-marathon this weekend! After 12 weeks of following Hal Higdon's Intermediate training plan (with speed work galore) the moment had arrived!

As you can see, I take Hal very seriously (neurotically?). It's as if he watches over my running shoes and tisks-tisks if I miss a speed workout or tempo run. Although I certainly didn't do every run Hal asked for, I did do most! I think I've decided that 4 runs a week is more than enough for me, so Hal's suggestion for a 5th run went down the drain towards the end of training. Sorry Hal! I did keep up with strength training and foam rolling *much* more this time around, which I think helped immensely in preventing injuries and making me speedier-ish.

Friday night involved Pure Pizza and a Birdsong beer, as promised. The temperatures Saturday morning were a tad chilly (around 37 degrees at start time) so I bundled up. After my trusty pre-race breakfast of toast, Justin's almond butter, a banana and coffee, it was time to get the show on the road.

After getting dropped off at the start, I somehow, totally unintentionally (I promise!) walked straight into the VIP runner section in BB&T ballpark. I was all "wow how awesome is it that all runners get to use ACTUAL toilets before the race!" and "geez how neat is it that we get to hangout inside the ballpark before the start!" I strolled around all pleased as punch until I left the ballpark and saw large signs for "VIP ENTRANCE ONLY" at the ballpark entrance. Whoops! But also - HA! Great success.

The race started promptly at 7:30am which my chilly and anxious self appreciated. I must say at the get-go, that this is a *hilly* course. I had heard rumors to this effect, but I'm not quite sure I was aware that it is really and truly ALL hills. So yes, this means that you go up and you get to go down the hills. But there was very little by way of "flat" on the course. Let's just say that it kept things varied and interesting, shall we?

See what I mean?!

It was a beautiful morning for a race, and the crowd support for most of the course was awesome. I saw a ton of signs that said "Keep Pounding" --> the Panthers rally cry. My slightly tired and running delirious self was highly irritated that no one thought to make a sign that said "Keep Pounding... the pavement!" 

In an effort to keep this from being a novella, I'll sum-up the miles as follows:

Mile 1: Feeling great! Patting myself on the back for making a stellar playlist. Forgot to start my GPS, grrr! Start my GPS.

Mile 2: I keep a look-out for my parents and Torsten. There they are! They have cowbells!

Mile 3: Oh, this is uphill. Still feeling strong!

Mile 4: Oh, another uphill. Billy Joel's "My Life" comes on and I'm groovin.

Mile 5: Oooo a pretty neighborhood! Which house should I live in...


Mile 7: YES it's time for my Honey Stinger gummies! Man, it's hard to eat while running. How am I still maintaining this 8:36 pace?

Mile 8: Hey! This is my running route! Home turf now!

Mile 9: The most brutal hill up E. Morehead St. Unfortunately, we drove this road on the way to the start and I knew it was coming. Much heavy breathing ensues.

Mile 10: HOW am I still running at an 8:36 pace?? I'm tired! [Between you and me, I may have said "ohh I'm tired" aloud at this point.]

Mile 11: Ok, almost there! I can do this!

Mile 12: STILL almost there. I would have killed for more crowds at this point.

Mile 13: Time to sprint! Immediately followed by the realization that I'd started sprinting too early. BUT THEN, two young whippersnappers (they were probably actually just my age) decided to sneak up on me and my *competitive drive engaged*.  I left them in the dust! Read: I beat them by about 2 inches.

FINISH!! Official time --> 1:52:37. 

Time for:

All in all, I loved running this half-marathon in my new city. It's a beautiful course and the crowd support and bands along the route are great. I'm really happy with my time (though I missed a PR by 3 seconds -- I blame the selfie I took at Mile 6). I'm also excited to not be training for a half-marathon anymore! I see some delightful 5Ks and relaxation in my future.

What did you do this weekend?! What's your favorite race course of all time?

Friday, November 13, 2015

Charlotte: Foxcroft Wine Co. Dilworth

I, myself, am tremendously excited about this weekend. My parents are driving up from Atlanta today and I'll be toeing the line for the Thunder Road Half-Marathon bright and early tomorrow morning! To top it all off, we have reservations at Kindred on Saturday for some much needed post-13.1 and spectating refueling.

Like the good RD-to-be that I am (read: I just really love food), I've been fueling all week for race day. The highlight of all of this fueling came last night when Torsten and I tried the brand spankin new Foxcroft Wine Co. in Dilworth!

While Foxcroft has another location in the South part of Charlotte that I've wanted to try for ages, this location is much more convenient. And good thing, because it's AWESOME.

Spotted: a charming patio with twinkly lights! Will be stellar in the warmer seasons. Not a great photo (hey, I was hungry and thirsty and in a rush to get inside!) but you get the idea.

This window is like the adult version of the windows at FAO Schwartz or a candy store. All the wine!

Foxcroft was lively on a Thursday but we arrived at 6:30 pm (the early setting sun has my whole "wait until a trendy time to eat" thing go down the gutter) and had no wait. There were, however, many people waiting from about 7-8.

You can either order wine off the menu OR you can browse the walls and walls of bottles for a wine to uncork. It's a $10 corking fee *unless* you spend over $30 so naturally we found a Pinot Noir (from my beloved Willamette Valley in Oregon!) for $31.99. 

We honestly could have ordered everything on the menu, but after much deliberation decided on the Ricotta with olive oil and olives and toast (they have a more eloquent name for it that has slipped my mind), the truffle fries (because obviously), an amazing Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, soy sauce and chili dish, and the lamb sliders. All were delicious.

I'm so excited to have a place like this nearby! 

So that was my Thursday evening! Tonight will include some pizza and my traditional pre-half marathon beer (carbs and hydration). Send some speedy vibes my way in the morning! Looks like it's going to be a chilly one...

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Charlotte: Your Mom's Donuts

A very dreary Sunday morning called for a foodie adventure. [Side note: Do I sound like a broken record with the dreary thing?]

Your Mom's Donuts has been on my radar for a few months now, but the 20 minute drive had dissuaded me from making the trek. I want to go back in time and give my former, oh so naive, self a big shake. What was I waiting for?! I missed valuable donut eating months of my life!!!

If you haven't already figured it out (catch up!), Your Mom's Donuts is absolutely delectable. This is why the phrase "everything in moderation" was invented - so future RDs like yours truly can indulge in mouth-watering- dense-but-also-light-and-airy donuts without any regrets.

The donut shop is buried in a strip mall and very unassuming - be careful not to miss it!

They use all locally-sourced and organic   ingredients. They also serve local Pure Intentions coffee. Swoon.

We ordered a half-dozen of these bad boys but (oh so unfortunately) could only manage 3.75 donuts between the two of us. 

The line-up: Cinnamon Sugar (my #1), Vanilla glazed (TBD), Blackberry with Lemon (So sweet! So tart!), Honey Glaze with Orange, Sugar and graham (TBD), Salted Caramel (literally hot out of the fryer and with flecks of sea salt on top - I MEAN!), and Apple Pie with Apple Cider Glaze (runner-up donut. Caused many groans and exclamations).

We will definitely be back to Your Mom's Donuts. Flavors change every week!

After our donut fest we checked out McAlpine Creek Greenway Park for a nice long walk. Super cool park with tons of trails and lakes. Pairs nicely with the post-donut sugar coma.

What's the best donut you've ever had?!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Recipe: Sunday Crock Pot Roast

It has been a rainy and dreary Sunday here in Charlotte. What better way to pass the afternoon than with some crock pot/pot roast action? 

This was my first attempt at a pot roast and I deem it a great success. My apartment smelled like a cozy bistro all day, it was relatively inexpensive to whip up, I have leftovers for days AND it was delicious. 

It's just not very photogenic. Don't let that sway you! 

Crock Pot Roast (see what I did there??)


2 lb chuck roast
1 cup sliced mushrooms
5 large carrots - roughly chopped
2 yellow onions - quartered
2 cups beef stock
1 cup red wine (cheap!)
Salt & Pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil


Heat olive oil on medium high in a large skillet. Salt and pepper up the roast and then sear both sides in the pan for 3 minutes on each side.

Transfer the roast to the crock pot. Dump in the chopped onions, carrots, shrooms, herbs, stock and wine. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook on high for 4-5 hours.

I served the roast-magic with smashed potatoes and red wine. There is a lot of liquid with this roast and I'm hoping to have it as a stew like thing for dinner tomorrow. Bring on the rain!

Hope you enjoy!