29 July 2012

My First Road Race

In grade school having to run the mile was the WORST THING EVER.

How could I POSSIBLY run a mile?!  7 LAPS AROUND THE ISLAND at St. Paul's - that was SOOOO much to run!  I absolutely dreaded it and was lucky if I finished under 15 minutes!

Besides those terrible days I would avoid running at all cost (hence why my high school sports included swimming and tennis).

I dabbled in running a little bit a few years ago - back when I was trying to get in shape for my wedding.  Unfortunately that hobby died immediately after the big day!

After having 2 kids in 2 years I was desperate to get active.  My cousin Sara mentioned signing up to run the Bix and I thought it would be the perfect motivation to be sure I stayed focused.  The Bix is a 7 mile race here in the Quad Cities - and not what you'd consider an easy run.  Big hills and winding streets. Might as well set a big goal, right?!

Well, this past weekend was the race.  I had been running as much as I could - about 12 miles a week.

My goal was to average 10 minute miles - or 70 minutes.

I am happy to report that:

a) I survived!
b) I beat my goal (just barely)!  My official time was 1 hour, 9 minutes, 43 seconds

The best thing is that I've actually started to LOVE running (who would have thought?!).  So I'm setting my goals even higher and contemplating a half marathon next!  Yikes!!!!!

23 July 2012

Lasagna Roll-ups

Lasagna is the ultimate comfort food.  Noodles, meat and cheese... can't get much better than that!  I'd seen the idea of lasagna roll ups floating around on Pinterest and knew I wanted to try it someday.

My least favorite part of lasagna is leftovers.  When I move it from the pan to the tupperware container it gets all mushed together.  I end up basically tearing the lasagna apart trying to get it out to re-warm it. (Maybe I'm the only one with this issue?)

Anyways.... I had to try this roll up idea. 

You can use any basic lasagna recipe.  Everyone seems to have a slightly different variation.  The recipe I use is called "Easy Lasagna" (I am not a fan of ricotta cheese, so I prefer this recipe):

1 lb ground beef, browned
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1/2 onion, chopped
1 box lasagna noodles (I used oven-ready noodles)
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
 1 cup cheddar cheese

Brown ground beef and onion in skillet.  While browning, boil water and soften lasagna noodles.  Add about 80% of the spaghetti sauce to the beef.  When noodles are soft enough to roll up (they do not have to be fully cooked) drain water and lay noodles on a cutting board or flat surface.  Add a thin layer of the meat mixture and both types of cheese, roll up and insert into well of brownie pan (IT'S A PERFECT FIT!) You could also use a 9x13 baker - just place the roll ups right next to each other.  Continue this process to use all ingredients (I made 10 roll ups).  Pour the remaining sauce over each lasagna roll up and sprinkle with cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes.

Easy lasagna ready to serve!  No cutting necessary! :)

13 July 2012

Mmm Mmm Brownies

The other day I was craving something chocolatey after dinner.  I needed brownies - ASAP!

I always have a brownie mix or two in my pantry, so I was shocked to see that I was out.

Now desperate for brownies, I did a quick Google search and opened the first recipe I found: Mmm Mmm Brownies!  Sounded easy enough.  Maybe I can have those brownies after all...!

Let me tell ya, these were some quick, awesome brownies!  Definitely lived up to their name.  Almost more cake-like (which is the way I like them!) and I am so thankful for the Pampered Chef brownie pan which not only makes them perfectly sized but also ensures each piece has the outer edges we all love!  I topped the brownies with some whipped milk chocolate frosting (out of the can) and mini chocolate chips, for fun.

Mariah loved them, too.  She even asked if she could take one to her room and eat it there.  Since she has a little table in her room I said sure, why not?!  When she came out of her room moments later with chocolate smeared on her face (including her forehead) I got a little nervous.  I quickly made my way to her room to find a big chocolate smear on her freshly cleaned sheets and pillow case.  New rule: No food in the bedroom! :)

Mmm Mmm Brownies!  Make em!

09 July 2012

Chipotle Black Bean Burgers & a Big Girl Bed!

Most days I think I could be a vegetarian.  I could totally live on peanut butter and cheese (NO, not together!).  

But really... who needs meat??

Then I came across this bean burger - I thought WOW, that looks SO yummy.  I really DON'T need meat.

I couldn't wait to make them!

Mike was NOT so enthusiastic.  He's a MEAT guy - through and through.   Give him a huge steak and a Blue Moon and he's good to go.

Oh well... I didn't care.  I was going to make them anyways and prove to him that a bean burger can be just as good as a real burger! :)

My review: I LOVED them.  I could easily have them once a week.  They had A LOT of flavor.  My only complaint was their texture... it was slightly mushy.  But I kind of expected that, so it didn't bother me too much! :)

Mike's review: It was NOT a burger in his book.  MEAT PLEASE! :)

Oh well.  We can agree to disagree on this one.  But my suggestion is that this recipe is worth a try!  It was quick and easy, and a heck of a lot cheaper than ground beef!

Visit Iowa Girl Eats for the step by step process for making em!

Oh, and Mariah decided to grow up a couple years this weekend.  

Not only does she get herself dressed, use the potty (most of the time!) and talk a mile a minute, she also SLEEPS IN A BIG GIRL BED!  Anyone who knows me knows that this was a HUGE fear of mine.  How could we possibly contain our crazy girl without a crib?

But, this girl I tell ya, she shocks us at every turn.

Just to give you an idea....


TEETH COMING IN: Took it like a champ.  I think we were up maybe 2 nights with a cranky, teething baby!

BREAKING THE BOTTLE: Around one year we starting thinking about the fact that we'd have to break her from the bottle.  Before we'd even attempted she decided one day she didn't want it anymore.  That was that!

DITCHING THE PACIFIER: We were TERRIFIED to take away her pacifier.... at 18 months we lost our last one.  She was upset for her first nap without it, and after that had no care in the world that it was missing.

CRIB TO BIG GIRL BED:  No big deal. Tried it on a whim at 26 months old - slept from 8 pm until 8 am her first night! 

05 July 2012

Peach Crumble

Last weekend we went to the Farmer's Market (YAY! I get to cross something off my list!!).  I've been there a couple times with my mom, but never really made it part of my normal routine.  Mike had never been before.  On our way there he told me that it was probably a waste of time to see a "couple" vendors.  Boy, was he in for a shock when we got there and he realized it was an entire village of vendors!

With $30 in our pockets we set off to find some yummy stuff, crossing our fingers that the kids would happily ride in the double stroller.

After loading up on fresh veggies (tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, peppers), we stopped by a vendor with tons of fruit.  I was immediately drawn to the peaches - they looked SO good.  I'm not even much of a peach fan, but these looked too good to pass up!  I bought 8 of them.  Now WHAT was I going to do with 8 peaches?!

After eating a couple of them fresh out of the fridge, I decided I needed a plan to use up the rest before they went bad.

A few minutes into a google search for a peach dessert, I came upon this recipe for Peach Crumble.  Sounded easy enough and I had *most* of the ingredients already.  I'm not super in love with fruit desserts (I feel like it can't be dessert unless there's chocolate involved).   But Mike prefers fruit-based desserts, so I thought I would do this for him!  

Little did I know that I would enjoy it just as much (if not more) than him!

SO much flavor and perfectly sweet with the fresh peaches.  YUM!

Peach Crumble Dessert
(adapted from Taste of Home)

Prep: 15 minutes
Bake: 35-40 minutes

6 cups sliced, peeled ripe peaches
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled

Place peaches in a greased baking dish (9x11).  In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour lime juice and cinnamon; sprinkle over the peaches.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg.  Stir in egg until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle over the peaches.  Pour butter over top
Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Yield: 10-12 servings