Mike just turned 31, and the celebration lasted days. Pizza one day, cake another, and on day 3, the Vitamix arrived.
Ellie was almost as excited about it as he was.
If I’d had this when I made this soup, I definitely would have pureed it, but since I was feeling exceptionally lazy (and was still without this amazing blender), I just left it chunky. I think it would be great either way. It’s incredibly simple with just a few ingredients, and with a thick piece of crusty bread and a simple salad, dinner is done!
Red Lentil and Carrot Soup
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp harissa
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 5 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 1/2 cups red lentils
- 8 cups vegetable broth
- salt to taste
- yogurt and cilantro for garnish
- Heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions and carrots. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the harissa and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in the lentils and broth and simmer, partially covered, for about 40 minutes (lentils will pretty much disintegrate).
- Salt to taste, then puree if desired.
- Serve with yogurt and cilantro.
(adapted from BBC Good Food)
I really, really appreciate weekends, and this last one was the best one we’ve had in a while. Dinner with good friends on Friday, a beautiful run in Alameda on Saturday…
followed by beer on a patio in Hayes Valley with my favorite college roommate.
A new half marathon PR on Sunday was followed by coffee with my 2 favorites.
We’ve now reached that point in the year when some people are doing entirely too many things with pumpkin. I’m one of those people, and I don’t really plan on changing that any time soon. I feel like just about everything that one can do with pumpkin has been done before, and I know making coffee cake with it isn’t exactly earth-shattering and new. But my whole family loved this coffee cake (and of course I drank a pumpkin spice latte on the side), so if you’re still craving more pumpkin, here you go!
I cut the topping recipe in half because although I usually can’t get enough, here it was just too much, especially when combined with the filling in the middle.
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 3 large eggs
- 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup plain yogurt
- 1 cup pumpkin
- 1/4 cup milk
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Grease and flour a 13x9" baking pan.
- Whisk the dry ingredients for the topping together in a medium bowl. Add the butter and rub between your fingers (or use a pastry cutter) until it resembles wet sand. Set aside.
- To make the filling, whisk together all filling ingredients.
- To make the cake, cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and add the sugars. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time, mixing well and scraping down the bowl after each addition.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, pumpkin, and milk (don't worry if it's lumpy).
- Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix on low. Scrape down the bowl and add half the pumpkin mixture. Continue alternating until all ingredients are just combined.
- Spread half the batter into the pan, top with the filling, then add the remaining batter and carefully spread it over the filling.
- Sprinkle the topping evenly over the top.
- Bake for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let rest 15-20 minutes before serving.
This was a really hard race for me, from start to finish. But I’m absolutely THRILLED with my shiny new half marathon PR, so I’ll try and tone down the complaints.
The weather could not have been better: It was 58 and foggy for the entire race! After going out to fast and completely falling apart at the SFM half, I was determined to not make that mistake again. 7:35-7:40 pace has felt pretty comfortable lately, so I decided to try and start in that range and see how I felt.
How I felt was honestly pretty crappy. The course makes about 2345 turns through the endless suburbs, which made for kind of boring scenery. There were a few rolling hills in the first few miles, but other than that it was pretty much flat. My legs felt fine, but I was breathing pretty hard and felt like my heart rate was too high.
At mile 2 I tried to get water, but the volunteer turned away to grab another cup at the last second so I ended up having to wait until mile 6 to drink. I kept going back and forth between feeling pretty dead and defeated and getting little bursts of energy that never seemed to last more than about half a mile. Around mile 9, I felt like I needed Gu, so I had half of one, but my stomach wasn’t feeling too awesome so I threw the other half away. Miles 9-11 were on a long, straight stretch of bike path and I tried to pick it up a little bit but it felt like I was running into a headwind (I wasn’t). Around mile 11, the half marathon joined up with the 5K, which normally spells total disaster, but they had specific lanes for each race and people pretty much stayed where they were supposed to.
I finally saw the 13 mile marker with the finish line in the distance. A few people flew past me but I didn’t have much of a kick at all. I crossed the line in 1:38:36, a PR by over a minute.
Even though this race was pretty unpleasant (OK, more than that. It was downright painful most of the time) from start to finish, I’m proud of myself for not giving up, mentally checking out, and slowing down. I was glancing at my watch and trying to do the math to see if I’d PR for most of the second half, and I knew it would be close, which is a lot less fun than those rare but awesome runs where you realize you can slow down to 10 minute miles and still PR.
I was 17th female, which earned me a Top 50 shirt, and the McMillan Pace Calculator says that I can run a 3:27:30 marathon. So, all things considered, this race was actually pretty awesome, in spite of (or maybe, weirdly, because of) how hard it felt.
This week was pretty much perfect as far as training goes.
I made these muffins on Saturday and ate 2 as fuel before my long run Sunday morning, and it was the best long run I’ve gone on in WEEKS! The recipe came from Dorie Greenspan, the baker genius.
Mon – 6 miles
Tues – 1800 meter swim. I was hoping for at least 2000 but got a HORRIBLE headache at about 1500 and just didn’t last much longer. Main set was 8 x 100 and man was it sloooow. Also did tons of drills.
Weds – 11.2 miles. Planned on 10, but my Garmin was dead so I headed out and mapped it when I got home
Thurs -AM: 6 miles (treadmill); PM: 4 miles (with the stroller)
Fri – Rest, glorious rest
Sat – 5 miles VERY easy (9:18 min/mile)
Sun – 17 miles (8:30 min/mile; last 2 miles were 7:36 and 7:42). Started out with 5 miles with my dad, then ran by home to drop him off and pick up Mike, who ran the last 12 with me. I felt great the entire run, which seems like it never happens!
TOTAL: 49 miles
It’s FALL! Last week started with 100+ degree temperatures and ended in the 70s. Running has been significantly more enjoyable, and the sky has been pretty, too.
Ellie has a new obsession: refrigerator letters. I don’t even know how many hours she’s spent moving them from the freezer door to the fridge door and back.
Dinner around here lately has been a rotation of chili, giant quinoa salads, and anything else I can think of to use up pantry odds and ends. It’s been awhile since I’ve felt even remotely creative in the kitchen, but the other day Mike suggested vegetable sandwiches for dinner and this is what I came up with. Sauteed swiss chard and onion, roasted portobellos, and swiss cheese on a baguette (stone-ground mustard optional), toasted in the oven.
Of course there were some nutritional yeast kale chips on the side!
Chard, Portobello, and Swiss Cheese Sandwiches
- olive oil
- 2 portabello mushrooms, stemmed and sliced horizontally
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 cups chopped swiss chard
- 4 slices swiss cheese
- 1 baguette
- Preheat the oven to 375 F.
- Drizzle the portobellos with a little olive oil (1-2 tbsp) and bake for about 20 minutes, or until tender.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet and sautee onion until soft (about 6 minutes). Add the chard and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
- Cut the baguette lengthwise in quarters, and split in half lengthwise. Top the bottom halves of bread with swiss cheese, chard, and portobello. Place the top half on top, set on a baking sheet, and bake until warmed through, 5-7 minutes.
I knew this week wouldn’t go as written, and I’m okay with that. And since the majority of my runs were spent staring at the news at the gym, I’ll just include another picture from the camping trip.
So ridiculously beautiful. I want to go back now.
Tuesday: 8 (treadmill. blah.)
Wednesday: 5 miles (treadmill) in the morning, 4 miles (with the stroller) in the evening
Thursday: planned on cross training but was absolutely exhausted and it just didn’t happen, so more REST
Friday: 8.5 (treadmill) in the morning, and 4.5 (with the stroller) in the evening.
Saturday and Sunday: no running. A little bit of hiking, but that doesn’t count.
Measly mileage: 30
Time to get back to quality workouts!
This weekend was intense. And in tents. (Sorry, I had to)
Three teachers and a bunch of parents took about 35 sixth graders camping at Mt. Lassen and it was exhausting but so much fun. I hadn’t camped since 2008 so it was really nice to sleep outside again under beautiful jeffrey pines.
We were only gone 36 hours but we packed a lot into that time, and the highlight was a hike to Bumpass Hell, where there are pots of boiling mud. The entire place reeks of sulfur and it was hot and shade-less, but so cool to see.
I made these cookies to take along on the trip and was grateful to have them in the car, on the trail, and around the campfire (yeah, I kinda ate too many cookies this weekend). It’s a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe, but uses coconut butter (NOT coconut oil!), sweetened shredded coconut, and milk chocolate chips.
Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1 stick butter (4 ounces), softened
- 1/2 cup coconut butter
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1 cup (7 ounces) brown sugar
- ½ cup (3.5 ounces) white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2¼ cups (11.25 ounces) bread flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups (12 ounces) milkchocolate chips
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone mats.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butters and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated, then mix in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour, baking soda, and salt, mixing just until incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips and coconut.
- Drop the dough in 2-Tbsp balls onto the baking sheets.
- Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, until they are slightly browned around the edges and do not look wet on top, 8-12 minutes.
- Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
(adapted from The Way The Cookie Crumbles)
Ugh. We are officially into that time of year that I can’t possibly have dinner made while it’s still light out.
I didn’t meal plan this week because I never really found the motivation. Instead I just stocked up on produce and decided to wing it with what was in the pantry (a bunch of different beans and grains).
This was a dinner I threw together after my second run of the day, and it was great because there really wasn’t too much active time. After I pick Ellie up from daycare, she pretty much wants ALL of my attention so long and involved cooking projects don’t really mesh with that. I just had to chop up some stuff and put it in the oven, and the salad was very quick to assemble.
I sometimes feel weird about buying fake meat, but we really only eat it every other week or so, and it’s perfect for quick and easy dinners. Plus, Field Roast is freaking delicious and they’re not even paying me to say that.
I made the nutritional yeast kale chips again and we gave a couple to Ellie.
One bite, one loud “MmMMMM!!” and then she immediately pointed to the plate for more. There’s not much this kid doesn’t eat (and I know that will probably change in the next year or two, so we’re embracing it while it lasts).
She also wanted most of the goat cheese off the salad.
Although I usually don’t buy packaged salad greens (too much plastic), I picked some up this week and I kind of love how convenient they are. I can’t let this become a habit, though, because honestly, washing, tearing, and spinning a head of lettuce really isn’t that intense.
So all this rambling leads us to dinner:
- Potatoes, diced and tossed with olive oil, rosemary, and salt and baked at 400 F until tender.
- Field roast sausages, cooked for a couple minutes on each side in a skillet
- Salad with greens, goat cheese, diced cucumber, and cherry tomatoes, with super simple balsamic dressing: 3 T olive oil, 2 T balsamic, 1 T maple syrup, and 1/4 tsp mustard.
- Kale chips with nutritional yeast
view from my long run in Alameda
I felt really good about this week. I think only running 4 days a week (and cross training 2 days a week) is really helping keep my legs from feeling totally dead.
Monday – REST
Tuesday – was supposed to be 11 miles, but it turned into 12 when I discovered the path I usually take was closed for repaving. Thanks to the map on my phone I found my way home on the streets. I felt so good at the end that I ran the last 3 miles in 7:34, 7:34, and 7:29!
Wednesday – 45 minute spin…on the trainer, watching Jon Stewart.
Thursday – 8 miles with 4 at Lactate Threshold pace. Ran one mile to the gym and hopped on the treadmill, one mile warm-up, 4 miles at 7:08 min/mile, one mile cool down on the treadmill, then one mile home.
Friday – 45 minutes Vinyasa yoga. I did a video from here and it was awesome. I hadn’t done yoga in months, but Teri’s post inspired me to do it again
Saturday – 6 miles easy (9:00/mile) with the whole family. Mike and I eached pushed the stroller 3 miles.
Sunday – 15.1 miles (8:49 pace) A nice, relaxed long run with my dad around Alameda
Total: 41 miles
Although I miss my old students like crazy, I’m getting to know my new kids (it takes a little longer when you only see them every other day) and they are pretty awesome. One of my sixth graders is an origami pro and made me a mouse.
The temperature finally started to drop and it’s amazing how much more enjoyable afternoon runs are when it’s under 90 degrees.
12 glorious miles on Tuesday evening! I was feeling kind of burnt out on running, but as soon as my training plan started, I got super motivated and the last two weeks have been amazing. 4 miles after work felt endless a couple weeks ago (possibly partly because of the heat), but now I can do 2 or 3 times that without issue. I’m sure my motivation will start to wane around week 7 or 8, but for now, I’m stoked.
This dinner is not particularly attractive, but it’s simple and filling, and I need to mention the kale chips. Kale with lots of olive oil, spread on a baking sheet, sprinkled with nutritional yeast, and baked at 375 til crispy. Eternal thanks to Daily Garnish for the idea… I’ll never eat plain kale chips again.
So basically you mix up some beans and mushrooms in homemade barbecue sauce. You can eat it on toast, or over grains, but I highly recommend kale chips on the side!
Barbecue Beans with Mushrooms
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 ounces brown button mushrooms, quartered
- 3 cups (or about 2 15-oz cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained)
- 1 15-oz can tomato puree
- 1 1/2 tbsp yellow mustard
- 2 tbsp molasses
- 1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- honey (optional), to taste
- Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium, and add the mushrooms, onions and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Cook over low, covered, for 15 minutes, then taste and add adjust salt and add honey if you like your barbecue sweeter.