Thursday, November 29, 2012

Soup's On: Pumpkin Chicken Chowder

This recipe is adapted from a recipe that my friend Becky used when we went Trick-or-Treating. I say adapted because I helped her put it together, and I make it from memory. My friends, Becky and Jodi, and I took our kids out Trick-or-Treating this year together. It was windy and bitterly cold. Really, what do I expect? Most the girls' costumes are cold even if you are standing inside. My girlios all wanted to be fairies, princesses or some other form of magic royalty with no sleeves. I couldn't talk them into being a bear or an eskimo. The soup was lovely to have when we got back, and the adults even got a chance to sit around and talk like adults. It was such a nice time.

This is a gluten free crockpot soup. I cooked two chicken breasts which came out to 12 oz. The original recipe calls for red pepper. However, red peppers were three times the price of green, and I went with the green pepper. I also used brown rice so it takes a little longer in the crock pot and makes the soup thicker.

Pumpkin Chicken Chowder:

Pumpkin chicken chowder ingredients
1 can (14.5) pumpkin
3 cans chicken broth
8 oz cooked chicken, cubed
1 onion chopped
1 red pepper chopped
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup rice
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Put all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. Enjoy!

Seriously, this soup is so good. I can't wait until lunch for leftovers :)

Soup's On: RW Clam Chowder

Crock pot soup! This recipe is from the February 2010 Runner's World. It's a low fat but still creamy clam chowder. It's very light and gluten free. The first time I made it we didn't have any fat-free evaporated milk so I put in two cups of 2 % milk.

Low preparation. Yummy tummy.
Slow-Cooked Clam Chowder:

1 onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 8-oz cans of clams
1 8-oz bottle of clam juice
2 tsp garlic, minced
3 russet potatoes, cubed into bite-size pieces
1 12-oz can fat-free evaporated milk

In a skillet, saute the onions and celery in the olive oil. Transfer to a slow cooker and add other ingredients except canned milk. Cover and cook on high for three hours (or low for six hours). During the last hour add the milk. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with hearty whole-grain bread. Makes four servings.

Calories per serving: 385 Carbs: 56g Protein: 28g Fat: 5g Zinc: 36% DV

I confess I've served it without the whole grain bread, and it's still delicious. I don't drain the clams. They just get dumped right in. I'm not a big fan of potatoes, but my husband is. This is a recipe makes us both happy and full. Instead of putting the milk in the crock for the last hour, I'd suggest putting it in at the end. The girlios have trouble with the curdled look.

Wicked cup of chowda'

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Thanksgiving Weekend Run Around

I'm spoiled Thanksgiving weekend. My parents host. I don't cook, and I don't clean. It's been this way for a few years, and I love it. My dad is a fantastic cook, like bring your drawstring pants good. My stepmom is a fabulous hostess. Everyone is home, and I get a chance run when the sun is out. Having a cold and a heinous lingering cough the week before worried me a little. My daughter and I were doing her first 2-miler race on Thanksgiving. Now looking back, I posted big miles.

My eldest daughter and I did the Kenosha Mayor's Turkey Day Run. Actually, a lot of family members did the race: my nephew, my nieces, my stepmom, my stepsister and her family. There were plenty of family spectators too. My daughter was pretty nervous, and my nephew's wife said the best thing to my daughter before we started. She said, "I'm already proud of you." My daughter ran the 2-miler in 23:18, with an 11:38 mm. She stopped 3 times to catch her breath. When her lungs catch up to her legs, she will be unstoppable. I (and everybody else) was so proud of her. She said she was tired, but she was willing to do it again.

She rocked it!

Before the race, I went on a long run with Bobbi and Kate. My schedule has prohibited me from running with people lately so it was awesome to catch up with them. My cough was almost gone, and I really needed the run. They both were cooking that day so we were out at 6 am. For the record, there is no one out at 6 am Thanksgiving morning. It was almost post-apocalyptic out on the roads. We met up with other members of the running club at 7 am and ran 7 miles total.

Bobbi, Kate and Me

The temperature dropped 30+ degrees from Thursday to Friday. I don't like shopping on a regular day so Black Friday is a great day for me to sleep in. It was windy enough that Seamus wanted to cuddle, but I decided to get out and do a few. Yes, that's a doggie drool spot. That may have been my motivator. It was a windy 7 miles. Sometimes I felt like I wasn't moving, and sometimes I felt shoved.

My snuggle buddy

On Saturday I met up with Carrie. I haven't talked to her in a while, and I thought 10 miles would be a great time to catch up. When we met at 9, she had set up her Christmas tree, had coffee and eaten. I had rolled out of bed and grabbed a granola bar. We ran the Des Plaines River Trail, which runs for 20+ miles along and around the river. She said that a potty would be good. I said, "Let's go north because it's prettier." She assured me that there was a potty 4 or 5 miles up. The potty going south is less than 3 miles away. In fact, the potty was 6.5 miles north from our start. Oops. We called our run "The Potty Half Marathon." We did complete 13.1 miles. It was an awesome time with Carrie, and she doesn't mind when I periodically complain about how tired I am, loudly.

We made it to the potty!

Sunday morning was cold but peaceful. I decided to sleep in and do my run in the afternoon when it was above freezing. Actually I went out after church, the Bears game, the tree trimming and making a boat load of soup. I got a chance to see the sun set and the lights people had put up in the neighborhood. There are a lot of nice displays. 7.5 miles. I'm getting closer to my 1000 mile goal for the year.

I hope your weekend, like mine, was filled with an attitude of gratitude.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Soup's On: Pasta Fagioli

As the weather gets colder, I crave a warm bowl of soup. If I feel sick, I instinctively make chicken soup. Last week I tried two new soup recipes. I love soup. People ask me for my recipes somewhat regularly so I have decided to put them on the blog. I posted the my Curry Butternut Squash soup recipe back in March. That's a great winter soup too. We were blessed early on in our marriage to get a stand up freezer. This time of year I like filling it with soup so other days I don't have to cook. I also like crock pot soups where I throw the ingredients in and let it go. My husband will make biscuits, or I'll will make bread in the bread maker. An easy cooking day that is comforting too.

Last week my eldest daughter asked if I could make the soup that makes her nose run. Pasta Fagioli. I make this recipe once a year, and I double batch it. A single batch is huge. A double batch is gigantic. I freeze it leaving out the noodles. When I reheat it I make the noodles at the same time and then combine them. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. This year I had a helper to cut, pour and measure. She's souper.

Pasta Fagioli Soup:

This is for a double batch, but add two more spaghetti sauce cans I forgot.
1 lb ground beef
1 lb Italian sausage
4-5 celery stalks diced
3 carrots julienned
4 cans of diced tomatoes
6 cans beef stock
2 large cans of spaghetti sauce
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can light red kidney beans
5 tsp parsley
3 tsp oregano
2.5 tsp pepper
1 to 1.5 tsp Tabasco sauce
8 oz pasta shells

Brown beef and sausage. Drain. Add celery, carrots and cook for 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, stock, spaghetti sauce, seasonings. Cook about 45 minutes. Rinse beans and add. Add pasta shells and cook until tender.

Just enough room for the beans.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Goodwill Jeans

I'm a thrift store diva. My favorite skirt from when I was a kid was purchased at a thrift store with my mom. It was ankle length, pink and white with flowers and lace. There was a little rip in the lace, and Mom fixed it. I've been a thrift store lover ever since. And it's a sweet memory of my mom as well.

They opened a Goodwill down the street from me. Sometimes the car just veers there. I get some incredible buys there like name brand running clothes, books and small appliances. Here's me in my new-to-me Levis. I also got a Moving Comfort running jacket. Both were 5$ a piece.

I'd rather giggle than model.

There are a few reasons I prefer to buy jeans from the thrift store. One, I'm a tree hugger. Keeping another item out of a landfill is important to me. If the clothes have more life left in them, let them be used rather than dumped. Recycle it. Pass it on.

Jeans at the thrift store are already broken in. They don't need to be stretched or softened. It's already done.

As a woman, the thrift store, especially the Goodwill, reminds me that people come in all shapes and sized. I equate pant shopping to painful dental work. Like many women, I am not often pleased with my shape. When I go to a store and there are one or two styles, I'm easily discouraged. I feel fat, my butt's too big or my thighs are too wide. Crappy self-talk. At the Goodwill there are racks and racks of 8s and 10s. That's where I reside. I have to look at both sizes because the jeans are all sized differently. Some 10s I can barely get my leg in, and some 8s are way too big. Thrift store jean shopping is fabulous on my self-esteem. Women come in all shapes and sizes, and you can see all the possiblilities there in one place, at the thrift store. It makes pants shopping a lot easier.

And it's cheap. Enough said.

I've made a few changes to my blog cover. Thought I'd change it up. Let me know what you think. Follow me here or on my new facebook page.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

This is a test...This is only a test...

I'm between tests. I just finished a differential equation exam that really tested me. I can't tell how it went. In a day I'll be taking my math exam to be endorsed as a math teacher in Illinois. Honestly, I was more anxious about the dif eq exam than for the next one, but I still have anxiety.

Anxiety. It's stressful. I don't like what it does to me. I've had a bad relationship with anxiety for a long time. Clinically and thankfully, it isn't disabling. However, it augments my IBS and aggravates my TMJ. It makes me grumpy and impatient.

I know it's a waste of my time and energy. As I meditate on nobler things and verses, I think I can get it out of my mind, but I can't seem to get it out of my body. It gets hold of my temper and my intestinal system. Sometimes, it breaks up my sleep.


Anxiety, let's break up. It's not me; it's you.

I know. You'll be back.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Pusher, the Pacer and the Monumentally Bad Small Talk Maker in Indy

I'm sick of the car. However, this past weekend was not about me. It was about my niece, Christy. She ran her first half marathon (insert cheering and whistling here) at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon (IMM). In short, she rocked it. For the long version, read below.

Right now in my life, I've been in need of help more than I can offer it. People have served me more than I've served them. It's been very humbling. This weekend, I wanted to be helpful. I wanted to serve. Running is so selfish for me. My runs are my me time. I'm not fast, though I am competitive, particularly with myself. I put that all aside. It was Christy's first half marathon. The IMM is a big race, twice as large as the race I had run two weeks earlier. Seasoned runners and newbies get nervous at a big race. I gave suggestions to Christy about when to go to the expo (Thursday rather than Friday), what to wear (wicking layers) and what time to leave (before 6). Trying not to sound so know-it-all-ish, the info was received well and appreciated.

Christy and I before the race

We left just before 6 to get down to the race, which started at 8. It took about 40 minutes to get down to the start. It's hard to explain the hurry up and wait of race beginnings. Our timing was perfect. We parked at the farthest lot from the start, which was the closest lot to the finish. It was shivery cold outside. I forgot to pack an extra sweatshirt in my gear bag. Oops. On our way to gear check we found a line of open portas. Score!

In front of gear check as I was stooping down to grab something from my bag, and the race director asked us if we wanted to be interviewed. Umm. Sure. We did not realise that it was a live television interview with Fox 59. Very exciting. Most newbie half-marathoners don't get to do that! If I do get my hands on the clip, you will understand why I don't leave messages without scripting them first.
Good Morning Indianapolis!
Before the start, we got in a second potty stop and lined up. It was a beautiful sunrise and a great start. The first few miles went really well. She wanted to keep under a 12 minute mile. I started my timer on my watch as we crossed the start. Christy kept the pace, and I tried not to push. The IMM is a nice flat course. I reminded Christy to look up, pointing out shops, the guy in costume, and the pretty trees. I made a habit of saying what mile we were at every time a mile marker came in view and congratulating her on her accomplishment.

At mile 5 she was doing great. She was high-fiving, thanking the volunteers and looking good. At one point she mentioned, she could keep this pace for a long time. That was a signal to me. I have found that when that thought crosses my mind I get tired in a mile or two. I watched for signs of fatigue in Christy. We crossed the 10k mark around 1:10 and kept on. Since it was cold, and we both had a lot of water that morning, we kept an eye out for an open porta with no lines. That didn't happen until mile 10. Even then we had to wait a little while.

Shortly after we had a gel at mile 7, Christy told me to talk to her until mile 10 when we would walk for a little. I'm not a great small talker. I'm terrible at it. I babble, don't get me wrong, but I like to be the one throwing the questions out there. We had been talking since 6 am, and I had a particularly boring week. I got nothing. I threw out some random boring stuff from my week, and then started pointing out things I saw. Her face was getting tight, and there were signs of fatigue.

Christy ran cross country in high school. It was obvious on the course that she had done races before. She's got a competitive spirit. She did not complain. She did not give up. I repeatedly asked her how she was doing. Is this okay? How's the pace? She was either silent or said okay. As her weariness grew more evident, I was impressed by her perseverance. She could have stopped or let up at any time. She didn't.

At mile 10 we walked a little bit. She said the race was hardest for her from 10 to 12, and it looked like it. Christy dug in and kept pace. As a race gets longer it's very easy to feel the same while pace gradually decreases. It takes work and energy to keep the same pace. Those miles were pretty quiet as her jaw tightened, I was out of conversation, and we kept passing people.

There were a few people on the course who particularly impressed me. One was an older woman wearing some loud pants and kicking our butts. Another were two couples. Three of them were taking turns pushing a man in a running stroller. They were sharing the load, running the race and helping the man experience the race when he couldn't run it. And they were having a ball. What great friends and companions to have.

There were a variety of smells on the race too: cinnamon rolls, sewage, meat, fried something, and a long long stretch of exhaust due to the cars backed up by the marathon. That was bad for both of us. Nauseating. We were so glad for fresh air.

At mile 12, I told Christy that we were looking good for a 2:35 finish. As soon as I said that she took off. Apparently she wanted to finish sooner. We passed a lot of people, and for the most part kept  up the faster pace. When we saw the finish line just after mile 13, she sprinted. I am not a sprinter. I tried to keep up with her, but she beat me to the finish by a second with a 2:33:37 as her new half marathon PR. (For the record, she did her 11 miler in 2:27.) She rocked it, and she's still taking to me.  I was so glad I could help.

Christy, the Capital, heavy medal, and me

On the way to the car, she did almost hit me for saying that I could do a few more miles.