Archive for November, 2011

It’s almost Christmas time, and I am elbow deep in chocolates and cookie dough! I thought I would share the fun with all of you, and do 12 days of Christmas cookie posts. If I start now, and give you a recipe everyday (yup- for 12 days), you can decide if something strikes your fancy and still have enough time to make them before Christmas…or on Christmas Eve (for all you last minute bakers!).
Some will be easy, some will take a little more effort, but I can guarantee that all of them will be yummy and a tasty addition to your cookie trays!

So, join me (please!) as we start with our 1st cookie tomorrow!

Nut balls

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Shut up and Run had a wonderful post today (she also provided the above picture). The message was one that I just felt I needed to pass along. Most of us have heard of Random Acts of Kindness…doing something nice and unexpected for someone, without needing or expecting thanks.

I think sometimes we (I) need reminded of this. This time of year we get so busy, that the little things fall to the side. A smile, saying Thank You, holding the door open for someone.

Here is the list that SUAR used, including some of the following ideas…

1.Write a note of appreciation to your mailperson (or give them cookies, like I do!)
2. Compliment a stranger sincerely
3. Write a thank you note to someone
4. Give a lottery ticket to a stranger
5.  Send a card to someone in the military overseas
6. Start up a conversation with a co-worker you don’t know
7. Drop off a toy or game at a hospital
8. Drop off a toy or game at a homeless shelter
9. At the post office, leave some extra stamps at the stamp machine
10. Open the phone book, pick a name, and send them something (movie tickets, thank you card, etc.) anonymously
11. Invite someone who is alone, over for dinner
12. Make a cd of your favorite songs and give to a friend
13. Put a quarter in a parking meter that has expired
14. Send someone an animated greeting card on the internet
15.  If you know someone who is having a hard time financially, pop a $5, $10, or $20 in an envelope, disguise your writing or type the envelope, and mail it to them.

Do you have any suggestions to add to this list? Do you have a story to share that you have done something nice for someone, or that something nice was done to/for you- if so, please share.

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Have you ever made homemade applesauce? No? It’s easy, and Fall is the perfect time to make it. All the wonderful apples that are in season! If you have a farmer’s market or an apple orchard in your area, I highly recommend visiting them and picking up some apples.

That’s what I did the other day! I am lucky to have West Orchard’s in my area. The market has been open since the 60’s (!), and is now run by Todd and his wife Ame. It’s a great place to get fresh fruits and vegetables. Note: maybe I’m a little biased, as I worked there as a teenager, picking strawberries for the market.

Anyways, while I was in there getting apples for pies (Golden Delicious and Jonagold), I picked up a couple zucchini for my dinner, and I wandered over to the bags of “seconds” apples. Seconds are slightly bruised, but in no way inedible. Ame walked by and asked if I had any questions and I told her I wanted to make applesauce- what would she recommend. She told me the Melrose is a sweet apple that is great for eating as-is, but it also holds up well for baking (or applesauce). I took her advice and bought a bag (1/2 peck). I’m glad I asked! I peeled an apple (I can’t eat the peel- of any apple) and really enjoyed the taste. Sweet and juicy!

Making applesauce is very easy. I added sugar to mine (as Nick likes sweet applesauce), however, if you like the sweetness of whatever apples you are using, you can totally do without the sugar. For the liquid, I added apple cider, but you could just add water (or apple juice). One more note, I made mine in a large saucepan on the stove-top, but this would work really well in a slow cooker.

Homemade applesauce
Makes: 13 cups
Prep time: 30 minutes    Cooktime: 1 1/2 – 2 hours

5 pounds peeled, cored, and cubed apples
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups apple cider (can also use apple juice or water), divided
3 tablespoons cinnamon

In a large saucepan, combine apples, sugar, and cinnamon. Stir till the cinnamon and sugar coat most of the apples. Pour over 2 cups of apple cider. Place pan over medium heat and let cook till the apples get soft- about 1 1/2 hours…stirring every 10-15 minutes. Note: I held back 1/2 cup of the apple cider until the apples started breaking down and then added it in- you might not need the extra 1/2 cup depending on how much liquid your apples give off. Once your apples are soft, you can mash them with a potato masher or an immersion blender, to the consistency you like. Remove from heat and let cool. Portion into containers and enjoy!

Apples, sugar, and cinnamon

Almost there!

All done!

Made with love, not calories!

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Weekly Running Recap

 I love this picture- so get used to seeing it on my weekly running updates!

So, this week started off with a whimper. The best of intentions quickly go out the window when I am short on time. I had a lot of baking to do, plus I had a busy week at work (why are short work weeks always busier?). Sadly, no running happened Monday thru Wednesday. After sleeping in on Thursday (hey, I was up at 2am Wednesday morning- I needed to sleep in), I was able to get a run in. The rest of the week went ok. With Christmas coming, that means a lot more hours spent baking- I really need to make a better effort to exercise.

Sunday: Rest
Monday:  30 minute treadmill run
Tuesday: 30 minute treadmill incline walk
Wednesday:  30 minute treadmill sprint workout
Thursday: 20 minute run…outside!
Friday: 30 minute run…outside
Saturday: 1 hour 30 minute treadmill run/walk (4:1)

Race schedule 2012:
So, I have been talking about looking for a half marathon in late February or March. I found one in Kentucky. But, last year, they had 140 runners.  Nothing against smaller races-I just am not fast enough to feel comfortable in that small of a race. I’m going to keep looking.

Question(s) of the day: Race sizes- do you prefer a small or large participant field? And why?

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Nut Rolls

This is the time of year that we bring out certain recipes. Recipes that we only seem to make once a year. Why is that? Is it tradition? It’s not like we wouldn’t gladly eat these same things throughout the year.

Whatever the reason, I too have recipes that I only seem to bring out around the holidays. Nut rolls are one of them.

My mom loves nut rolls, and usually this is an item she purchases from a vendor at craft shows. One year, she either didn’t go to the craft show, or the vendor wasn’t there (I can’t remember), so she didn’t get any nut rolls. So I decided I would make them. There is yeast in the dough- and I like playing with yeast. There are nuts in the filling- and I like nuts (keep it clean people!). So I adapted this recipe and now every year, around Thanksgiving, you will find me making nut rolls!

Nut Rolls
Makes 4 rolls

4 3/4 cup flour, divided
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 cup milk
1 packet active dry yeast

1 pound walnuts
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla

To make the dough: In a small bowl dissolve yeast with warm water. Set aside for 5 minutes. In a medium-sized saucepan, scald milk and remove from heat. Add butter and sugar, stir till butter is melted. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and salt. Add in the yeast. Add in 2 1/4 cups flour- but don’t stir yet. Pour in the milk mixture and then stir everything together. This is a very wet dough. Set aside in a warm place for 1 hour to rise (I keep my house cool, so I place the bowl in a bathroom with a heater on).

While the dough is resting, in a food processor, place the walnuts and pulse to a fine consistency. Remove from food processor and place into a large mixing bowl. Add in eggs, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Stir till combined.
In a small saucepan, scald milk. Remove from heat and add butter- stir until melted.  Once melted, add to walnut mixture and stir until everything is incorporated. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep your baking pans. *Note- I use (2) 13 x 9 pans, lined with foil (see picture below), and sprayed them with cooking spray.

Once dough has risen, stir in remaining 2 1/2 cups flour. On a flat work surface, dust liberally with flour and dump out your dough. Knead the dough for a few minutes- adding flour if necessary. Separate into 4 equal pieces. Set 3 pieces aside and with the remaining piece, roll out until 1/8 inch thick. Spread on 1/4 th of the walnut mixture- leaving about 1/4 inch all along the edges. Fold the sides in 1/2 inch, then starting with the edge closest to you, fold the dough up. Place the nut roll, seam side down, into the prepared pan, and repeat with the remaining 3 pieces of dough. Brush the tops with 1 beaten egg and 1 teaspoon water. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool before cutting.

Dough mixture- before rising

Dough mixture- after rising

Starting to fold

Prepared pan

Rolls with an egg wash- ready for baking


Made with love, not calories!

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Ok, the Apple Cider Cinnamon Raisin bread made 2 loaves. There are just 2 of us in this house. That means we are going to have bread go bad if I don’t do something with it. A couple of things come to mind. French toast- this bread would be really yummy for that, but I’ll have to try that another time. Cause I’m thinking bread pudding. When is the right time to eat bread pudding? Dessert? Breakfast?

Oh well- I’ll leave that question up for debate!

Seen as how I am still on the apple cider kick (just bought another gallon yesterday!), I wanted to add a little more apple cider flavor to the bread pudding. So I added apple cider to the custard mixture. Along with the apple cider bread- this is a sweet treat without being too sweet.

Apple Cider Bread Pudding
Makes a 13×9 pan

1 loaf apple cider cinnamon raisin bread, cubed (or 8 cups stale bread)
1 cup raisins
4 large eggs
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups half and half (or milk works just fine)
1 cup apple cider

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 13×9 pan (I line mine with aluminum foil, then grease the foil).
In a large bowl, mix together bread and raisins. Set aside.  In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add in the half and half and apple cider. Whisk till combined. Pour egg mixture over the bread and raisins. Stir well to get all the bread moist. Pour into the prepared pan and let rest for 15 minutes. Gently push bread down into the custard mixture. Bake 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let rest for 10-15 minutes.

You can enjoy this as is, or top it with maple syrup or powdered sugar- if serving for breakfast. If serving for dessert, a dollop of vanilla or cinnamon ice cream would be great. I ate mine with leftover caramel sauce and a spoonful of Cool-Whip (cause I’m cool like that!).

Question of the day: Is bread pudding best eaten for breakfast or dessert?

Made with love, not calories!

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On the treadmill again!

I’m running again! It’s been awhile and it feels good to be back at it.

On October 5th, my doctor put a stop to my running. That was a bummer, as I was scheduled to run my 5th half-marathon (of the year), the following weekend. For 4 weeks I did nothing. I ate bad-for-me food (think HoHo’s) and did not exercise. I think I was feeling sorry for myself. Crabby pants and bad attitude.

Then, with a few magic words “Everything looks ok”, the sunshine came out and the bad attitude took a hike.

So, I have decided I am going to post weekly updates/recaps (whatever you I want to call them). When you read these, please keep in mind the following things: 1) I am slow…and I’m ok with that. 2) I am in no way an expert on fitness. I have no training. My knowledge is only from what I have read and things that have or have not worked for me. 3) If you are thinking of starting a fitness regimen, please consult your doctor (I know you have heard this before).

That said…here’s what this week looked like:

Sunday…1 hour treadmill run/walk
Monday… 30 minute treadmill incline walk
Wednesday… 30 minute treadmill run
Thursday…30 minute treadmill sprint workout
Saturday…1 hour 30 minute treadmill run/walk
Sunday (planned)…rest

I have noticed that after not running for a few weeks, while my body feels good (no soreness the next day), I struggle with my breathing. So for the first couple weeks, I will stick to a run/walk plan. Ease my way back into it.

Races for 2012:

So far, I am signed up for the Cleveland Rite-Aid half marathon in May. I ran the race this year for the 1st time, and PR’d at 2:29:18! I’m hoping to beat that time.
I am also signed up to run the Rock-N-Roll half marathon in Chicago in July.

I’m still toying with wanting to run a half in February or March. I’ve been eyeballing a half in Kentucky in March.   We’ll see.

Question: Look at the post title. Substitute one word and what song do you have?

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