Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

We started off Thanksgiving Day by getting up early and heading downtown for the Turkey Trot! I did the 5K, I still do not feel ready to do an 8 mile race.

It was so crowded-- 35,000 participants not including the people (like my family) who just came for moral support. I wanted to take the DART rail downtown so that we wouldn't have to deal with parking. That was a big FAIL. As usual, DART was not prepared to deal with crowds. You would think that when you have a big event downtown and it is being advertised to take the rail downtown that DART might actually be ready. Nope. We went to the park and ride at Mockingbird Station at about 7:45 (race started at 9) because the trains were on a Sunday schedule. Meaning, there would only be two trains going downtown between 7:45 and 9:00. When we got there, we couldn't even purchase a ticket, all the machines were broken. Fail. Then we decide to go down to the platform anyway. Hey, if an official was going to stop us (which they didn't), we tried to buy a ticket! The train pulled up and (big suprise!) it was completely packed. So we gave up and drove downtown.

Guess what? Parking downtown was fine, traffic was not especially bad and there were plenty of lots with spaces available.

I found the starting line and joined the throngs of trotters. It was PACKED, we were squished together like sardines. Nobody could even start running until way past the starting line. I was so annoyed about the crowd. I know it's a family race and I shouldn't try to PR, but I had it in my head I wanted to finish in under 30 minutes, darn it! It was actually fun running downtown, people had set up along the way and there were a couple of live bands.

And to my suprise, I did PR! I finished in 29:37, I was so suprised! You can check out pictures here.
Afterwards, I went to our designated meeting spot to wait for my family. I waited and waited. Finally, I went back to the finish line and there they were, they hadn't even seen me finish! We got some free yogurt and granola, then headed out of downtown to get on with the Thanksgiving celebration.

Michael and I went to McKinney and ate with his side of the family. We had a blast, we ate delicious food and drank lots of champagne. It is just not a Baker holiday without champagne! We had so much fun visiting, but as usual, I did not have my camera with me. I hope I can get some pictures from somebody!

I am so thankful to have my health, my husband and my wonderful family! Thanksgiving is a great chance to reflect on how blessed we are.

I hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving. The holiday season is fully under way at work and I survived Black Friday weekend. Christmas is just around the corner and I can't wait!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wish List Wednesday: Thanksgiving Edition!

Happy early Thanksgiving! What are you looking forward to tomorrow?

My first wish is to make my goal time at the Turkey Trot 5K! We shall see.

I am looking forward to some of my favorite Thanksgiving foods!

Roast turkey breast (this is last year's turkey made by my godfather Chad, who is an amazing chef).

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Sweet potatoes! Must have marshmallows.

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Fresh steamed green beans. No casserole for me, thank you. My godmother makes them perfectly, with lemon and butter.

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And the piece de resistance...chocolate pecan pie. My friend Monika gave me this recipe several years ago and it was an instant hit. I just took this one out of the oven. (Sorry it's a little blurry, I don't have a fancy camera like the food bloggers!)

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Butternut Squash Lasagna

I love lasagna and thought this would be a healthier alternative, plus the addition of butternut squash would be great for fall. I thought it turned out pretty good! The recipe is actually for two lasagnas, I should have halved it. But now I have one in my freezer!

Yield: 2 lasagnas, 6 servings per pan

Cooking spray
3 cups chopped onion
10 cup fresh spinach
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded sharp provolone cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1 (15-ounce) carton part-skim ricotta cheese
1 (15-ounce) carton fat-free ricotta cheese
3 cups diced peeled butternut squash
6 cups Smoky Marinara
12 oven-ready lasagna noodles (such as Barilla)
1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add spinach; sauté 1 1/2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Combine provolone, parsley, salt, pepper, eggs, and ricotta cheeses in a large bowl.

Place squash in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and cook on high 5 minutes or until tender.

Coat the bottom and sides of 2 (8-inch-square) baking dishes with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup Smoky Marinara in the bottom of one prepared dish. Arrange 2 noodles over sauce; spread 1 cup cheese mixture over noodles. Arrange 1 1/2 cups squash over cheese mixture; spread 3/4 cup sauce over squash.

Arrange 2 noodles over sauce; spread 1 cup cheese mixture over the noodles. Arrange 1 1/2 cups onion mixture over cheese mixture; spread 3/4 cup sauce over spinach mixture.

Arrange 2 noodles over sauce; spread 1 cup Smoky Marinara evenly over noodles. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan. Repeat procedure with remaining ingredients in remaining pan. Cover each pan with foil.

Bake at 375° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes.

To freeze unbaked lasagna: Prepare through Step 6. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing to remove as much air as possible. Wrap with heavy-duty foil. Store in freezer for up to 2 months.

To prepare frozen unbaked lasagna: Thaw completely in refrigerator (about 24 hours). Preheat oven to 375º. Remove foil; reserve foil. Remove plastic wrap; discard wrap. Cover lasagna with reserved foil; bake at 375º for 1 hour. Uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Nutritional Information
Calories:254 (30% from fat)
Fat:8.5g (sat 4.5g,mono 2.2g,poly 0.3g)
Barbara Seelig Brown, Cooking Light, MARCH 2003

Changes I made:

- I used part-skim mozzarella instead of sharp provolone. (Whole Foods had a suprisingly small selection of provolone).

- I used all part-skim ricotta instead of fat-free. (As Ted Allen says, fat free cheese is the polyester of food).

- I used premade marinara (Muir Glen Organic) instead of making the smoky marinara recipe.

Things I will do differently next time:

- I either won't use no-boil noodles or I will put more marinara across the top. The top layer of noodles turned out a little crunchy.

- I will use less onion, several bites were too "oniony" for my taste. I will probably add more spinach, too.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wish List Wednesday: Bottoms up!

Here are a few things I have been craving this week!

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I normally only like fresh brewed iced tea, but I tried True Brew on a coworker's advice and it is really good! I like my tea unsweetened and I love their black tea as well as the white tea. They also have some flavored, sweetened and green varieties.

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When fall hits, I love to get a latte from Starbucks! I especially love the cinnamon dolce latte and the gingerbread latte. I very rarely splurge on coffee out but I like to treat myself to Starbucks while Christmas shopping.

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When we went to dinner at Toulouse with some friends a couple weeks ago and I got a Pink Planet cocktail. It was so delicious and girly! Champagne, strawberry liqueur, strawberry puree and garnished (of course!) with a strawberry. (Note: I found this photo online, but it is pretty much what they look like.)

What are some of your favorite drinks?

Monday, November 2, 2009

'Tis the Season!

It officially feels like fall! With gaining an hour for Daylight Savings, I feel well rested and I have also been enjoying this gorgeous weather. I have built a little onto my usual running route and I hope to keep building on to my distance.

I am getting excited about the upcoming holiday season! Of course, it has already felt like the holidays at work. We have had our Christmas shop up since the end of September and I have been interviewing for our seasonal help nonstop. This is the time of year that will make or break us as far as sales and I want this to be the best year ever! I also have my own Christmas shopping on my mind, I already am making a mental list.

We already have plans for Thanksgiving with Michael's family and I am so happy that I am participating in the Turkey Trot this year! I am doing the 5K, not the 8 mile race, but it is amazing to me that a year ago I never would have thought I could participate in a race. This will be my fourth 5K this year, next year I hope to be able to build up to a 10K!

I am also participating in a Holiday Season fitness challenge, started by my buddy Kelsey. I think it is a great idea, I am already having fun keeping track of my points!

I know we won't get a chance to see everybody we want to see, but know that we wish everyone a healthy and happy holiday season!