Cold Nights. Hot Curry.

I’ve always loved Thai food, but never really knew how to make. Whole30 changed a lot of that for me, and one of the recipes that really has become a staple is red curry with chicken. I’ve mashed together a few different recipes to make what has become my quick weeknight dish.

A few notes about this:

  • You can really use whatever vegetables you have in your fridge. I use some combination of carrots, bell peppers, broccoli, sweet potato, and butternut squash typically. Or all of them. I usually use all of them.
  • Any protein will work well here. I prefer shrimp or chicken myself.
  • You can use light or regular coconut milk, or a combination thereof.
  • Use the curry paste of your preference, just read your labels! I like Thai Kitchen brand.
  • I like to serve this over cauliflower rice sauteed with curry powder, but regular rice or even quinoa works just as well. You can make your own cauliflower rice, but many stores now sell it premade (I get mine, fresh or frozen, from Trader Joe’s).
  • This is Whole30 compliant!

Red Curry with Chicken and Vegetables

This is a double recipe, and the vegetable amounts are adjustable. This size gets us about 6 servings, so we’ll have a couple days of leftovers.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
  • 1lb chicken (breasts or thighs), cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1.5 cups sweet potatoes, cubed and softened
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce (I like Red Boat)
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • Cauliflower rice (optional)

Instructions:

  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet or dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil.
  2. When hot, add chicken to the pan and cook until no longer pink.
  3. Move chicken to a plate and set aside.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon coconut oil to the pan, along with the red onion.
  5. Saute the onion for 2-3 minutes, until it begins to soften and become translucent.
  6. Once the onion is softened, add the chicken to the pot, along with the curry paste.
  7. Mix together and saute for about 2 minutes.
  8. Add in all remaining veggies, the coconut milk, and the fish sauce. Mix well.
  9. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  10. Once the vegetables are soft, it’s ready to go!

 

 

This is All About Pie

This post is about pie. Glorious, glorious pie that I baked for Thanksgiving. And I suppose I should mention that Joe and I also ran a turkey trot on Thanksgiving! My husband does not love running – he prefers his cardio with chlorine and most of his workouts with free weights. But he laced up for his first official 5k for Thanksgiving (and for me!). It was cold. It was windy. It was through a cemetery, which I’ve only ever done for Halloween runs, so that was different. But it was fun! I love starting out a day dedicated to gluttony with a brisk run.

And now, let’s get to the real heroes of this post: pumpkin pie and chocolate cream pie. Now, I’m normally pretty traditional when it comes to holiday pies. I’ll do a pumpkin and an apple, because isn’t that what people want? But I decided to mix it up this year with chocolate cream pie, and it was a hit.

Pie #1: The Great Pumpkin Pie

The pumpkin pie recipe I’ve done before. It’s become a much-requested classic and has garnered praise like, “the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever had.” So hats off to this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I also used her pie crust recipe for both the pumpkin and chocolate cream pie.

Ingredients:

Sugared Cranberries

  • 1 cup (120g) fresh cranberries1
  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (240ml) water

Pumpkin Pie

  • Homemade pie crust (full recipe makes 2 crusts: 1 for bottom, 1 for leaf decor)
  • one 15oz can (about 2 cups; 450g) pumpkin puree2
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/4 cups (250g) packed light or dark brown sugar (I prefer dark here)
  • 1 Tablespoon (15g) cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger3
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg3
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves3
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) milk (I use 1% – any is fine)
  • egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon milk

Directions:

  1. For the cranberries: Place cranberries in a large bowl; set aside. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup of sugar and the water to a boil and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Pour sugar syrup over the cranberries and stir. Let the cranberries sit at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight (ideal). You’ll notice the sugar syrup is quite thick after this amount of time. Drain the cranberries from the syrup and pour 1 cup of sugar on top. Toss the cranberries, coating them all the way around. Pour the sugared cranberries on a parchment paper or silicone baking mat-lined baking sheet and let them dry for at least 2 hours.
  2. Make the pie crust through step 5 according to my directions, tips, and pictures. Or use store-bought.
  3. For the pumpkin pie filling: Whisk the pumpkin, 3 eggs, and brown sugar together until combined. Add the cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, pepper, cream, and milk. Vigorously whisk until everything is combined. Filling will be a little thick.
  4. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  5. Roll out the chilled pie crust: Remove 1 disc of pie dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch circle. Make sure to turn the dough about a quarter turn after every few rolls. Carefully place the dough into a 9-inch pie dish. Tuck it in with your fingers, making sure it is smooth. With a small and sharp knife, trim the extra overhang of crust and discard. Crimp the edges with your fingers, if desired. Brush edges lightly with egg wash mixture. Using pie weights, pre-bake the crust for 10 minutes.
  6. Pour pumpkin pie filling into the warm pre-baked crust. Only fill the crust about 3/4 of the way up. (Use extra to make mini pies with leftover pie dough scraps if you’d like.) Bake the pie until the center is almost set, about 55-60 minutes give or take. A small part of the center will be wobbly – that’s ok. After 25 minutes of baking, be sure to cover the edges of the crust with aluminum foil or use a pie crust shield to prevent the edges from getting too brown. Check for doneness at minute 50, and then 55, and then 60, etc.
  7. Once done, transfer the pie to a wire rack and allow to cool completely for at least 3 hours. Decorate with sugared cranberries and pie crust leaves (see note). You’ll definitely have leftover cranberries – they’re tasty for snacking. Serve pie with whipped cream if desired. Cover leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

If you need a pumpkin pie recipe, use this one. Seriously. My husband, who claims not to like pumpkin pie, ate multiple slices. There was also enough left over to make some super cute mini pies in a muffin tin so I could sample them beforehand.

Pie #2: Chocolate Cream Pie

I love King Arthur Flour recipes. They never steer me wrong, and I have become the biggest King Arthur Flour fan girl (friends and family have still not heard the end of it from when KAF commented on one of my Instagram posts). So for a pie I’ve never made before, there was really nowhere else to turn for a recipe. So here it is.

Ingredients

Filling

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional; for richer chocolate flavor*
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream, divided
  • 2 cups milk

Topping

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

*I did not have this, so I didn’t use it.

Instructions

  1. Filling
    Place the chopped chocolate, butter, and vanilla extract in a 2-quart mixing bowl; set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan away from heat, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, espresso powder, and salt. Whisk in 1/4 cup of cold heavy cream until the mixture is smooth, with no lumps. Repeat with another 1/4 cup of the cream. Whisk in the egg yolks.
  3. Place the saucepan over medium heat, and gradually whisk in the remaining cream and milk.
  4. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly as the mixture thickens; boil for 1 minute.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture over the reserved chocolate and butter.
  6. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  7. Pass the filling through a strainer into a bowl to remove any lumps.
  8. Place plastic wrap or buttered parchment paper on the surface to prevent a skin from forming, and chill thoroughly.

Topping

  1. Place the heavy cream in a chilled mixing bowl.
  2. Whip until the whisk begins to leave tracks in the bowl.
  3. Add the sugar and vanilla and whip until the cream holds a medium peak.

Assembly

  1. Transfer the cooled filling to the cooled, baked pie crust. Level the top with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula.
  2. Spoon or pipe the whipped cream on top.
  3. Chill the pie until ready to serve.

The Off Season + Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup

Here it is. I’m past my goal races for Fall. I don’t completely know what next year’s race calendar looks like yet.

And here’s the thing: when I don’t have a training plan to follow, I’m absolute garbage at consistency. Somehow time spent running will dwindle down to almost nothing, I’ll grow lazy with cross training, and before I know it I’ve lost all my fitness and I’m having a bit of a struggle concealing the spare tire that’s begun to take up residence around my middle.

I’ve looked at Hal Higdon’s Winter Training Plan, and thought I might peruse some on Runner’s World. I have this great plan that I’m going to run, and also incorporate yoga and strength training and spinning. Really go into next season with a good base. Realistically…well, we’ll see.

In other news, it’s Fall! I made soup! I’ve actually made so much soup lately that my husband is forgetting what it’s like to chew solid food.

Last night, I made this Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup, adapted from Damn Delicious.

I followed the recipe pretty closely, but made some minor tweaks:

  • I swapped out the chicken brother for low sodium vegetable from Trader Joe’s. I usually make my own broth, but didn’t have any thawed. TJ’s Vegetable brother is an easy one to pick up from the store that doesn’t have a laundry list of hidden ingredients like sugar and soy.
  • I 86’d the celery in favor of more carrots
  • I used avocado oil (my newest love) in place of the olive oil
  • I added in closer to 1.5lbs of chicken

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3/4 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper, to taste. Add chicken to the stockpot and cook until golden, about 2-3 minutes; set aside.
  2. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the stockpot. Add garlic, onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Whisk in chicken stock, bay leaves and 1 cup water; bring to a boil. Stir in orzo, rosemary and chicken; reduce heat and simmer until orzo is tender, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and parsley; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. Serve immediately.

When You Have to Sit Out Your Goal Race

Like many runners, this past Spring I plotted my Fall racing season. My training would culminate in a trifecta in October and November: Market to Market Relay Race, followed by my A-race of the Kansas City Marathon, then a recovery fun-run of the Good Life Halfsy.

That kind of happened. In August, I felt a twinge in my IT band during a training run. pool.jpgIt felt a little hinky at spin class. I babied it a little. Apparently not enough. During a 17-mile training run, at about mile 7, a little before the turnaround point on my out and back route, it started to hurt. Like, really hurt. I should have stopped. I should have called my husband to come get me. I should have immediately gone home and iced it. But I’m a stubborn runner. Did I do any of that? No. I decided to push through, to see if it felt better (it did), so I chalked it up to a fluke.  That was a Sunday. Monday was a rest day. Tuesday I rose before dawn for a 4-miler. No go.

So, I rested. And I foam rolled. And I did lots of spin class. Still no running. I went to the doctor who shockingly said, “you have IT band syndrome. You should rest and foam roll and ice until it’s better.”

So I did. I joined the gym so I could also swim and weight train and sweat it out on the elliptical. And then I had to make a choice. At this point, I was well into September, and the October 15 race day was fast approaching. So I had to decline it. I found another bird who wanted to run it, and transferred my entry to her. I cancelled our hotel reservations. I made the mental switch from “in marathon training cycle” to “let’s see if I can make it through the other races I’d planned on.”

m2m.jpgAnd I suppose I should be happy that I did. I managed Market to Market with no pain, though I took one of the shorter legs. And I did the Halfsy pretty much completely untrained, while fighting off the tail end of a sinus infection.

So for next year, I’m going to plan on another fall marathon. I entered the lottery for Chicago. If I don’t get in there, I may do Twin Cities. Mostly, September and October were kind of crappy months in a lot of ways. I’m glad to be moving past them, into the holidays and cheer and our second anniversary and some good old-fashioned frigid weather running.

How to Build a Runner

What now seems like many years ago, but has in fact only been eight or so, I took up running. My reasons weren’t uncommon: on the heels of a bad breakup I needed a way tomarathon_number burn off some of the anxiety, the angst, a way to kill all of the time I suddenly seemed to have.

So I dusted off one of the few sports bras I bought in high school for a short stint on the track & field team, scraped together some poor-college-student dollars and bought a pair of sneakers from Target, and took myself to the park next to my apartment that had a running path.

This was the summer of 2008. I was still a smoker – a pack a day! That stuns me now. I did eat relatively decently, or at least what I thought was decent then. I recall rotini pasta and store-bought pesto being a staple, along with a deep and abiding love for breakfast cereal. Rarely with milk, often straight out of the box.

I knew nothing about running. I only knew that it seemed to me that it was a way to burn energy, to get out of my own head, to quiet those little voices that were telling me that I was unlovable, that I was gaining weight, that no one would want me.

And lo and behold, it helped. As you can imagine, on a pack a day I wasn’t exactly winning races. My running was more of a slow jog mixed with a lot of walking. But I made some friends at the law firm where I was working as a legal assistant who were also runners, and that next April they talked me into a 5k. It took me 37 minutes and 34 seconds but I did it. I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of a cotton tshirt than the one I got for that. I was a runner! I’d completed a 5k!

believeAnd it grew from there. I quit smoking in May 2009, a rough couple of months that involved the nicotine patch and a lot of tootsie roll pops. I went to my local running store to get fitting for shoes that didn’t make my knees hurt. In August, I ran a local race called the Tour de Pain, a two-day series that included a Friday night, 4 mile beach run, a Saturday morning 5k, and a Saturday evening 1-miler. When I tried to get out of bed Sunday morning I almost fell over, my muscles were so tight and sore. I was hooked.

From there were more 5ks, until March 2010 when I ran the Gate River Run, the country’s largest 15k. From there came triathlons and half marathons, followed by a full marathon, The Donna, in February 2011.

Since then, I’ve run another full marathon, trained for one before getting sidelined by injury, completed a 70.3 triathlon, and generally stayed active. While my tri days are behind me, running has stayed as a constant. Just as it did in the very beginning, it helps quell my anxiety, clears my head, and makes me feel good about myself.

#Whole30 Week 1 In the Books

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First week is in the books. And I have to say – it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I ate relatively healthy, prior to embarking on this endeavor. I did a fair amount of meal planning and prep, too. I will say that Whole30 takes it to a whole new level. But in a good way.

I found myself less stressed out during the week when it came to having time for both exercise and making dinner in the evening. With so many portions of dinner prepped over the weekend, whipping up some zoodles for me/noodles for him to go with my pre-made sauce and meat balls, or throwing together the makings for tacos quickly was easy.

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Friday Night Rowing Happy Hour

Feeling better on top of all of this helped even more. I’m sleeping mostly through the night, which for me is a not-so-minor miracle. I have more energy because of that. I hit the predicted bloat this weekend, but it’s a little better today. It may have also come on the heels of my need to eat all the things. Which I also did. Whole30 compliant, but I still got some volume in there (needless to say, the sweet potatoes I roasted to last the week will need to be redone).

All of this isn’t to say that I didn’t have challenges. We had family dinner last night, and the hoagie rolls filled with French dip looked amazing (I came prepared with leftover zoodles and red sauce), and everyone’s post-dinner sipping bourbon smelled divine. But I just kept reminding myself how good I’ll feel when this challenge is done. How proud of myself I’ll be for accomplishing it. How good I feel now. And that kept me right on track.

Fitness Accomplishments: I only took one break last week, and that was Saturday. And that wasn’t really a “rest” day. We took the dog on an almost three mile walk, I spent many hours meal-prepping, grocery shopping, house cleaning and floor scrubbing. And…drum roll: yesterday I went out for a 4-mile run that felt so good it turned into 5.5. THEN we went on another two mile walk with Trafford. I’m feeling fit!

 

Day 4 of Whole30: This Feels Almost Too Easy

I’m a little bit into the morning of Day 4. I expected to feel…worse. The Whole30 team does a great job of prepping you for what to expect, so I was bracing myself for a few days of detoxing from the vast amounts of sugar and carbs I consumed on family vacation. And truly, I felt a little fatigued the first couple days. My workout Tuesday evening wasn’t great – I hadn’t done a great job of balancing meals.

But yesterday was awesome. And in general, I haven’t felt bloated, I’ve felt satiated by my meals, but not overly stuffed, even though I’m worried I’m eating too much!

I had a terrific run last night, even though it was on the treadmill. Overall, I just feel good. I’m in a great mental state – and currently can’t see why anyone would eat any other way. Am I becoming an early Paleo adopter?