On My Mind: August Edition

1. OMG there’s only two super long runs left until the marathon! Where did August go? Granted, I have to run 12 miles today (because that’s not long at all… who am I?) and then 18 and 20 the next two weekends, but after that I begin tapering for the BIG DAY (Oct. 12). How can that be? I feel like I’m getting there physically, but I’m not sure I’m mentally ready for this!

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2. After the marathon, I’m hoping to take some time off and travel somewhere warm. I don’t want to sight see; I just want to lay on the beach, eat/drink whatever my heart desires and not set an alarm for an entire week! I’m lucky enough to have a job with a decent PTO allotment and a boss that encourages me to take it, but I feel like there’s been a lot of chatter lately about how Americans don’t use their vacation time, which is just plain stupid. I especially liked Gawker’s take:

That job don’t love you. That job is not your friend. That job is not looking out for you. That job is a machine in which you are a cog. That job has no human feelings. That job is interested only in sucking you for every last ounce of labor that you are physically capable of producing before you pass out. It is not the job’s fault; it is in the job’s nature. Therefore it is up to you to look out for yourself. You gotta love yourself in this world. Take that time off. Nobody else is going to take it for you. Take it. Take it all.

Touché, Gawker. Touché. Now where should I go? Suggestions?

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3. Um, so I woke up today and decided that I hate my bathroom. I hate the stupid black and white checkered floor, I REALLY hate the old-school mirror/light combo, I hate the cheap over-the-toliet storage cabinet, I hate the color of the green accents. OK, I can really only do something about that last one (maybe two), but I’ve decided it’s time to revisit this space. It’s pretty much been the same since I moved in two years ago so… Here. we. go.

Opening Ceremony And 'Birdman' - Premiere - 71st Venice Film Festival

4. I’m really excited to get my hair cut tonight. I have not had many good hair days lately. The truth is I was on a medication for awhile that started to make my hair fall out! It was awful. And it still kind of is because now I have all these new hairs sticking out like a baby bird. But I’m hoping my stylist can work some magic. I’m thinking I should cut a couple inches off to help the little hairs “catch up” to the longer ones faster, and I think I’m going to use Emma Stone’s new do as inspiration. I kind of have a girl crush on Emma. She was hilarious in the Lip Sync Battle with Jimmy Fallon.

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5. I’ve totally been slacking in the cooking department. I got the new stove/oven weeks ago, and I think I’ve only used it once—to warm up leftover pizza. That’s just sad. But now that my grad class is over (and I’m taking the fall off), I might be able to get back in the kitchen. First recipe I want to tackle? Spicy beer shrimp sounds pretty damn good. Or maybe jalapeño cheddar scones. Guess I’m all about the heat right now!

(Images: 1. National Geographic, 3. The Gloss, 4. Chocolate Moosey)

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Foodie Friday: Spicy Black Bean Soup

How do we feel about soups when it’s warm out? I think I’m OK with it as long as it isn’t super heavy. And this, my friend, is not. It might not look like much, but I swear it’s surprisingly light and fresh—and it’s even better the next day!
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With work and class now, anything that I can do in an extra 10 minutes in the morning to help dinner get to the table—er, the coffee table—faster is a big help. I chopped the veggies for this in the morning and just stored them in Tupperware until I was ready to put everything together. I can definitely see this becoming a staple because it’s easy, tasty and makes a ton. Plus, it’s healthy!

 

Spicy Black Bean Soup
(serves 4-6)

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into thin rounds (or 1.5 cups of shredded carrots)
6 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
4 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon+ red pepper flakes
4 (15-ounce) cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about one small lime)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Optional garnishes: diced avocado, tortilla chips, rice, etc.

DSC00610Instructions

1. In a medium/large pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. When warm (about 2 minutes), add the onions, celery and carrots and a sprinkle of salt. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the vegetable are soft, about 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Stir in the garlic, cumin and red pepper flakes, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in the beans and broth, and bring to a simmer. Lower heat slightly, and cook until the broth is flavorful and the beans are very tender, about 30 minutes.

3. Puree about 4 cups of the soup in a blender until smooth (I DO NOT recommend doing this in a Magic Bullet or similar machine because there’s no where for the steam to escape). Return the pureed soup to the pot, and stir in the cilantro and lime juice. Salt and pepper to taste, and top with garnishes. Enjoy!DSC00623Recipe adapted from Cookie + Kate

Foodie Friday: Spicy Shrimp and Roasted Asparagus Pasta

I love pasta. Just noodles with store-bought marinara or butter. Or even plain, cold ones. Boring I know, but I’ve always loved it and probably always will.

But my metabolism isn’t exactly what it used to be, and I’m starting to learn that a bowl of plain ‘ol pasta for dinner probably isn’t the best idea… There’s no way I’m giving it up completely though. (The horror!) Luckily, I found something just as good, if not better—and some omega 3 and antioxidants even sneak in:

DSC00097Spicy Shrimp and Roasted Asparagus Pasta
(serves 3-4)

1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (thawed if need be)
1 tablespoon + 1/3 cup olive oil
1 bundle fresh asparagus
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2  1/2 cups of your favorite pasta noodles

DSC00081In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, parmesan, garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce and red pepper flakes (add more if you like extra heat). Put the shrimp and marinade in a large Ziplock, seal bag and shake to coat. Place it in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

In the meantime, snap the ends off the asparagus and throw them out. Cut the spears into 1-inch pieces (or smaller if you prefer). Place the asparagus on a baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper to your taste. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and set baking sheet aside.

DSC00093Next, bring water to a boil in a large pot and cook noodles al dente. When you put your pasta in the water, also put your asparagus in the oven. Both should take about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add your shrimp and marinade mixture, and cook shrimp until pink (about 2 minutes per side). Do not over cook! As soon as the shrimp is finished, add drained pasta and the asparagus into the skillet and toss to coat. Then it’s ready to serve. Enjoy!

DSC00096 (Inspired by Food & Wine and How Sweet Eats)

Foodie Friday: Sausage and Tortellini Skillet

Between settling in at the new job and having some pretty epic fails (see lentil soup) in the kitchen as of late, I haven’t put up any Foodie Fridays the past few weeks. I’m back, but with a disclaimer: This isn’t so much a recipe as common sense.

Sometimes I look around at Pinterest and find a million awesome dinner ideas, but then I look at the ingredient list and think about how I’ll be eating dinner at 10 pm (which I do a lot of the time anyway) by the time I get home from work, go to the grocery, get the million and one ingredients, prep, chop, dice, saute, boil, sear and whatever else it takes to get the dish on the table.

So if you’re in the same boat as me, then this one is for you. One pan. Six ingredients. Zero measuring. Thirty minutes tops. No prep time and very little clean-up. You’re welcome.

IMG_4238_e What you’ll need:

Olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of your skillet)

Smoked sausage (just a hint: turkey sausage tastes very similar to the real deal)

Diced garlic (again, the amount is up to you)

Pasta sauce (I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s garlic pasta sauce)

Pre-made tortellinis (try mushroom or spinach to reduce cheese overload)

Cheese (your choice, I used some mozz and some parm)

Optional ingredients: onions, red pepper, red pepper flakes, spinach, etc.

Make it happen:

1. Slice your sausage into bite-size pieces.

2. Heat the olive oil in your skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and continue to stir until all pieces are well browned, about 5-7 minutes. (It’ll smell freaking awesome. Resist the urge to steal some out of the pan.) This is where you’d also be cooking your onions or red pepper if you chose to add them.

3. Add garlic and stir. (Careful not to burn the garlic, only takes about 30 seconds to brown.)

4. Add the pasta sauce and tortellinis (and red pepper flakes and/or spinach, if you want), and stir until combined.

5. Once the sauce is bubbling, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until tortellini are tender.

6. Lift lid and stir. Then add cheese to the top, and replace the lid. Continue to simmer for about 3-5 minutes until the cheese is melted.

7. Dig in!

Adapted from Kevin & Amanda

IMG_4239_E(Images: These are terrible. My apologies. It’d been a rough day, and I was too lazy to get out the real camera. It tastes good though, I swear!)