Monday, March 28, 2011

Carrot Cake (my fav!)

Although the weather is totally NOT Spring like, I was craving one of my favorite desserts ever...Carrot Cake. I always think of this dessert around Easter time, although I could eat it anytime! My Mom was coming to our house for dinner this past weekend and she has a love for carrot cake too, so that's what I made for dessert. My newest edition of Cooking Light had a Carrot Cake recipe so that is where this came from. I made a few changes and will incorporate them to the recipe below. Make this ASAP...holy yum!

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
2 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
2 cups grated carrot
1 cup granulated sugar
6 T. butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. low-fat buttermilk
1/2 c. raisins
Cooking spray

8 oz. low-fat cream cheese, softened
2 T. butter, softened
1/2 vanilla extract
1/8 t. salt
3 cups powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. To prepare cake, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour, 2 t. baking powder, ground cinnamon, and 1/4 t. salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add 2 cups grated carrot, tossing to combine.
3. Place granulated sugar, brown sugar, and 6 T. butter in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in 1 t. vanilla. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in raisins. Spread batter into a 13x9-inch metal baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 28 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake completely on a wire rack.
4. To prepare frosting, place softened cream cheese and next 4 ingredients (through 1/8 t. salt) in a medium bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at medium speed until combined (don't overbeat). Spread frosting evenly over top of cake.

Yield: 20 servings

Thai Curry Vegetable and Tofu Soup

I had a craving for tofu...I know right, weird? Yes, I get odd cravings. But this soup was oh so good and reminded me that I should cook with tofu more often!!!! Even the hubs liked it! Score!!! This recipe was super easy and sooo delicious. I got the original recipe from my newest edition of Real Simple, but made a few changes that I will post below. Enjoy!


1/2 T. Curry powder
1 t. grated fresh ginger (or minced ginger works great, too)
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1, 14-oz. can light coconut milk
1/2 lb. shitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
4 carrots, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise
14 oz. extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into cubes
4 oz. snow peas
2 T. fresh lime juice
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves
Asian chili garlic sauce, for serving
Brown Rice


-Cook Brown Rice.
-Place the curry powder and ginger in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the broth, coconut milk, and 1 t. salt and bring to a boil.
-Add the mushrooms, green beans, and carrots to the saucepan and simmer until just tender, about 5-8 minutes. Add the tofu and snow peas and simmer until the snow peas are bright green, about 1 minute more.
-Stir in the lime juice. S
-Place brown rice in bowl, pour soup over rice, sprinkle with the basil and serve with the chili garlic sauce.

Serves: 4

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies

Alert: These cookies are highly addictive!


1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 stick margarine, softened (I use butter)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup quick or regular oats
6 ounces (1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat sugars, margarine, peanut butter,
vanilla and egg with wooden spoon til creamy and well-blended. Mix in
flour, baking powder, salt and oats. Stir in Chocolate chips.

Drop by spoonful onto cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until
light golden brown. Cool 1 minute before removing to wax paper (or cooling rack)
to finish cooling.

Race Recap below...

Check out my half-marathon race recap post below on 3/23!

Friday, March 25, 2011


I found a new recipe for Shrimp and Grits this week and decided to make it last night. Epic fail. I should have known...the recipe was from Woman's Day, had few ingredients and not much of a sauce (like a typical shrimp and grits). But, I wanted the "quick and easy" shrimp and grits and have had a craving for it. It was definetly edible, yet not blog worthy. The recipe was just too bland for our taste. We have tons of leftovers so I am thinking of making a tomato cream sauce and then pouring that over the rest. I think this will really kick up the flavor and help out this poor dish.

I have made Shrimp and Grits in the past and it was been great. I'm just crazy and always up for the adventure to try new recipes. Here's saying though that not every recipe I make is simply delicious! Most of them are...but as in life, sometimes things don't go as planned.

*Do you have a favorite Shrimp and Grits recipe?! If so, please share!

...I am taking a night off from cooking and going to eat with some friends and the hubs to a new (for us) restaurant, Sette in Richmond. I'm excited, it gets good reviews! I will be cooking Saturday and Sunday, so be on the lookout for more yummy (hopefully not more cooking fails) recipes. Happy weekend :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

1/2 Marathon Recap

As many of you know, I ran my first half-marathon on Sunday in Virginia Beach. VA Beach holds the Shamrock 8K, Half Marathon and Full Marathon every year in March. There were 22,000 runners...needless to say, TONS of was crazy, but they did a great job of keeping everything organized and in control.

I am a personal trainer and have a love for everything exercise, yet have never mastered a marathon, nor a half-marathon. I still don't think that I have a desire to do a full marathon, but the half was just great. It was the perfect distance to train for (without having to spend multiple hours of your day to train) and throughout the run I never felt like I was "dying" (I hear this often from marathoners). The hubs and I make our goals at the beginning of every new year, and to run a half-marathon was one of mine. I am excited to have checked it off my goal list!


I learned SO much more than I ever imagined for training for this run. Most importantly, it is SO important to slowly build up your mileage. If you increase your mileage too quickly, you can easily get hurt. Also very important is stretching. Most of us don't take time when exercising to stretch properly. This is HUGE and is important for not injuring yourself. I believe that it is also crucial that you don't run every day. Make sure to have your rest days, cross training days, and strength training days. Of course, eating well plays a big role into good runs, too. Provide your body with enough protein, veggies, fruit and whole grains. After a long run, fuel your body with a snack such as a banana, half bagel with peanut butter or a smoothie. This helps your body recover since your muscles have been deleted of nutrients. "Nutrition plays a critical role in the marathon training process. Even with the perfect training schedule, runners will fail to perform well during their runs if they are not fueling and refueling properly." (Livestrong)

This is the original training schedule I used from here. I did make a few changes though to fit with my work and out of town schedule. Overall, I followed it closely. Unfortunately I never got up to 12 miles (like I was supposed to). The most I ran in this training was 9 miles. I was a little worried about this, but I was just fine. While training, I also incorporated speed work into my runs. I know this really helped strengthen my legs and enhanced my endurance.


The hubs and I met a good Clemson friend of mine (Caroline) and her fiance in VA Beach. Caroline and I decided to run the half together (we signed up last year). We all had a big Italian dinner early on Saturday evening. My meal consisted of lots of water to drink and whole wheat (so excited when restaurants have wheat pasta!) pasta with a garlic red sauce and grilled chicken. Pretty simple, carb/protein loading meal...exactly what I wanted. I didn't want to have anything too greasy or creamy that would make my stomach say 'ouch' before the big run. The four of us stayed in the same hotel, so after dinner we came back to the hotel and all hung out for a little (I sipped on Gatorade...pumping in those fluids!). Around 9:00 pm I headed to our room, had a couple chocolate chip/peanut butter cookies (recipe to come soon!) and got ready for bed. I spent about 15 minutes stretching my legs which I know helped my run on Sunday. I then laid out all of my running gear and hit the sack. Unfortunately, I did not sleep well at all. It was a combination of the anxiety of the race and a hotel bed.

My phone alarm went off at 5:00 am Sunday morning. Time to do this! I took a quick shower to help wake myself up. I then ate a cinnamon/raisin bagel with peanut butter. I made coffee, yet only had a couple sips. I also drank more water. The husband woke up, and we headed down to the lobby of the hotel to meet Caroline and her fiance. The race started at 7:00 am, yet with the TONS of people running, we had to get there early. Thankfully the guys dropped us off very near the start of the race. It was dark, cold and WINDY outside. Ugh...we seriously PAID to run 13.1 miles?? That was what was going through me and Caroline's heads as we neared the starting line. We were jealous of the guys sitting in the warm, heated car! The hubs gave me a great pep-talk before I left that I keep replaying in my head while running. He told me that I could do this and that the faster I ran, the faster the race would be finish. I kept telling myself that over and over and over. I can DO this! I's just's not like I'm jumping through hoops for 2 hours! C'mon!

At 7:00 am, the gun-shot went off to start. I thankfully had my headphones on and listened to great music while running. This was my lifesaver...running to the beat kept my legs happy. I felt great throughout the whole race...when I got to mile 10, I said "wow---this is farthest I have EVER run before, whoopwhoop!" In my training I had only gotten up to 9 miles, so I was worried how the last few miles of the race would go. I took a strawberry/banana "Gu" at mile 7 and then I took a half of one at mile 11. The Gu gave me the extra sugar and carbs to keep my legs going and to push through those last few miles. There were also many water and Gatorade stations along the run...I would grab a Gatorade and keep pushing. Never once to stop walking! Gatorade splashed all over my face as I drank it while running...but who cares, as long as some went it! Once I could see the finish line I started sprinting...I wanted to get the best time possible and I was sooo close. I did one last big push to the end...and ahhhhh...the angels were singing...I DID IT! Right after the finish line we were handed a metal, long-sleeve t-shirt, banana, pretzels, cookies, waters, etc. I immediately ate the banana and guzzled the water. The hubs and I had planned to meet at the finish line but there were TONS of people, I thought...oh my, how in the WORLD am I going to find him? Thankfully he saw me (and was routing for me!) cross the finish line. I was so immersed in my tunes, that I didn't hear him yelling. He eventually found me soon after. We took pictures and all that fun stuff. It was soooo cold though and the wind was kicking. I was ready to take a shower and head on home. It was only around 9:30 am Sunday morning and I did all and more I wanted to accomplish for the day. Ahh, what a GREAT feeling. :) Daniel and I headed back to the hotel, we quickly showered...I did some more good stretching (have I mentioned how important this is???) and then got in the car to head home. We stopped at Q-Barbeque (our fav barbeque EVER) on the way home for lunch. This was fun and tasted that much better after running 13.1 miles that morning.

When we got home that Sunday, I unpacked and then sat outside in the nice weather for a little watching the hubs do some yard work. I then came inside to have some couch time and ended taking a little nap. I RARELY take naps, but my body was needing it. We cooked taco's for dinner, then I turned in early. On Monday my quads were a little sore, but not too bad. I know that the stretching was one of the key reasons I wasn't too sore. I also have this thing called a tiger tail...if you are a runner and don't have this, go get one now. They are great! I used this after all my long runs. Of course, I took it easy with the exercise on Monday. My body needed rest, but it also needed to move. It is very good for marathoners (and half-marathoners) to take a long walk the day after their long run. This helps to stretch sore muscles and keep them from getting stiff. I took the pups on a 40 minute walk and it felt great.

My half-marathon time was 2 hours flat...that is a 9:16 minute mile. I am VERY pleased with this time for my first half. I would love to run another half! It really was such a fun run, perfect distance and a great feeling of accomplishment. For my next half, I'd like to get under 2 hours.........

*If you have any questions on running, training, or whatever...please don't hesitate to ask!

Oh, a new website I just discovered Ontri, creates FREE training plans based on your race distance, level and date of your event. Check it out if you are interested in running a race. Another great website for runners is Dailymile. Here you can track your workouts, map your routes, etc. Two GREAT websites!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Jack Daniel's Pork Tenderloin

Jack Daniel's???? Wha' you say?? Yes, that's right. Beautiful Spring weather calls for lots of grilling out! Ahh, I love it. We had two pork tenderloins that needed to be used, so decided to toss them on the grill. My best friend's Mom, Anita, sent me her "go-to" pork tenderloin marinade. I have had this before and loved it, so decided that's what we'd do. I let the pork marinade in the "sauce" overnight to let it soak up as many flavors as possible. Daniel put them on the grill and voila! Thank you, Anita...enjoy everyone. (You could put this marinade on just about anything)

1/2 cup Jack Daniel's
1 cup of pineapple juice (or one of the small cans that comes in a convenience pack of 6)
2 T. of brown sugar

*I served the tenderloin with fresh corn on the cob (yayyy glad this is back in season!), brown rice and a mixture of stir fried mushrooms and broccoli...perfection :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patty's Day Cupcakes

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I didn't have an Irish meal planned for dinner, yet I had to make something festive. With the ingredients on hand, I whipped up some vanilla cupcakes with green icing. Easy, quick, and festive! I planned on dying the vanilla batter green, but totally forgot to add the food coloring, oops! Instead, I added the coloring in the icing. Use this recipe if you are in need for quick & delicious cupcakes...add any color frosting and decorations...viola!


1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk (I used skim milk)


-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or line a muffin pan with paper liners.
-In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
-Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well.
-Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
-Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cupcakes are done when it springs back to the touch.

Makes 12 cupcakes

May the luck o'the Irish be with you!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Sometimes it's the simplest recipes that taste the best. You know those nights when you come home from work and think, "oh no...what am I going to make for dinner?" You are tired from waking up way before the crack of dawn (literally), working all day, fitting in a work out, working more, then need to make dinner for you and your family. phew. You need something QUICK to make as everyone is hungry, so whatever you're making needs to take 2.5 seconds from start to finish. What do days like this call for? EGG-IN-A-HOLE! Growing up, my Dad would make these and I have fond memories of them. I was never a huge egg eater when I was young, but somehow this satisfied my palate. I think it's even better now that I'm sometimes, breakfast is just good for dinner. This recipe is simple, yet so comforting, healthy, cheap and EASY. I used white/wheat bread that we had on hand tonight...would have been better with thicker bread, yet this still did the trick. I rarely buy anything but 100% whole wheat, but decided to change things up this week. To top it off, I used a farm-fresh egg...straight from the farm. Doesn't get much better than that, folks!


1 slice pf your favorite kind of bread
1/2 Tablespoon butter
1 whole egg
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste


-With a biscuit cutter (or the rim of a glass or knife), press/cut a hole in the center of the slice of bread.
-Next, heat a skillet over medium-low heat and melt the butter in it. When the butter is all spread out, place the piece of bread in the skillet and crack the egg straight into the center of hole.
-Cook for at least 30 seconds or so before attempting to move the bread or things could get messy. Sprinkle the egg with salt and pepper to taste. After about a minute, flip it over with a spatula and salt and pepper the other side. (Don't be too nervous about flipping it over, it should hold just fine)
-Now move the whole piece of toast around the skillet, soaking up all of the glorious butter. Let it cook until the yolk feels, to the touch, still soft without feeling over-jiggly. Here’s the key: golden brown toast, white (not brown/burned) whites, soft unbroken yolk.
-Make sure and throw in the circle of bread that you cut out into the skillet. Push this around in the butter as well...yum!


An egg-in-a-hole is also called other names such as: Toad Hole, Private Eyes, Bird's Egg Nest, etc. What do you call this?

Richmond is for (food) Lovers

My blog made the "Eating Richmond" website! Check it out! On this website many various blogs about eating are featured. If you just discovered my blog, I hope you enjoy it. I will try to post new recipes as often as possible. Thanks again for reading...please become a follower!

*Picture is of my husband and I celebrating our first anniversary (last year) and about to cut into out wedding cake! Holding up a "1" because we are going to take a picture of each anniversary with the number and put our pictures in frames on a wall. A great idea we got from family friends who have been married 40 years! It's great to see the changes throughout the years...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Leek, Mushroom, Sausage & Pesto Pizza

One of my best friends, Martha, came to Richmond Friday evening to stay with Daniel and I before we left together Saturday morning for Baltimore to celebrate Charlotte's bachelorette. Although we got back late Thursday night from skiing, and I had to turn back around and leave early Saturday morning for Baltimore, I knew I wanted to make a home cooked meal Friday evening for the three of us. What to make? Thanks to my sweet mother and father in law, I wanted to use the great cast iron skillet they gave me for Christmas. I have complied a few recipes that call for a cast iron skillet, and I finally tried one out for Friday's dinner. Man oh man, do I love it! After another 9 mile run I was craving pizza for our Friday night's dinner. Low and behold came this recipe. I have never cooked with Leeks before, yet they were delicious and I will def. do it again soon. I forgot to take a picture, so I took a picture of the magazine page in which I found the recipe. (Woman's Day) I made a few changes to the recipe so here is my version below:

Leek, Mushroom, Sausage & Pesto Pizza
Serves: 4

4 oz. mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 small leek (white and green parts only), halved crosswise and lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 T. olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1 lb. pizza dough (if you are near a Trader Joe's-get their whole wheat dough!)
4 T. Pesto
4 oz. Fresh Goat Cheese, crumbled
Low-fat Sausage (one packet, sliced)

1. Heat oven to 425. In a large bowl, toss the mushrooms, leeks, oil, 1/4 t. salt and 1/8 t. pepper.
2. Shape the pizza dough into a 12-inch round and place in the bottom and slightly up the sides of a large cast-iron skillet.
3. Spread the pesto over the dough, leaving a 1/4 inch border. Top with the vegetables, then the sausage, and sprinkle with the goat cheese. Bake until golden brown, 30-35 minutes.

For dessert...we had this cherry "cobbler" that I have now made a few times and is always a hit. I don't have a picture for you, but it is STUPID easy and so delicious.

In a crock pot add:

2 cans of low-sugar cherry pie filling
1 box of yellow cake mix
3/4 of a stick of butter
1 cup of walnuts

Pour both cans of pie filling into crock pot and spread out along the bottom. (In a separate bowl), melt the butter in a bowl and then pour it over the cake mix and mix it up. Pour the cake/butter mix over the pie filling and spread it out. Spread 1 cup of walnuts on top of cake mix. Cook for about 3 hours on low. Serve on top of ice cream or with low-fat whipped cream on top.

(side note- when you mix the butter and cake mix together, it's going to be lumpy and not at all completely mixed up)

I heart Spring!

Horray for 73 degree weather! Spring is my most favorite time of the year. I love to decorate for Spring/Easter almost as much as I love decorating for Christmas. I probably get this from my Mom as she is the same way. She collects bunny's, and I've begun to do the same. Thanks to Susie, Steve, Elise and my Mom whom helped with the purchase of a few of these fabulous decorations! On the branches in the dining room, the eggs say "Happy Easter" although it's hard to tell from this picture (love this, Elise!) I hope these pictures put you in the Spring mood.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Shrimp "fajitas"

It was a beautiful 65 degree day here in Richmond and after a lovely 8 mile run, I was craving something light, yet filling for dinner. I stumbled upon one of my friends blogs and last night she had posted a recipe that was just what I was looking for! I got fresh shrimp from a seafood market nearby, and it was so good. If you are wanting to go out to eat at a Mexican restaurant soon, don't do it...stay at home and make this! It is full of healthy ingredients, VERY little sodium (compared to eating out), the flavors are abundant, and it takes very little time to make. Enjoy!

Shrimp fajitas
Serves 4

1 med. red onion, sliced thin
1 large red pepper, sliced thin
1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
1 1/2 T. chili powder
1 T. paprika
1 T. cumin
salt and pepper
juice of 1 lime
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro
1 avocado, diced
plain, nonfat greek yogurt for garnish
1 can black beans, heated through on stove
Brown Rice

Preheat a grill pan over med-high heat. Spray with cooking spray then add peppers, onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10 - 15 minutes stirring often to prevent burning.

Meanwhile, combine chili powder, paprika, cumin and salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add shrimp and toss to coat.

After peppers and onions are softened and browned, remove from pan and place on a platter. Add shrimp to pan. Cook for 1 - 1/2 minutes per side until opaque and pink. Add onions and peppers back to pan as well as the lime juice and cilantro. Mix well.

Pour mixture out onto same platter used for peppers and onions previously. To plate, place brown rice on plate, spoon black beans onto plate and cover with a good helping of the shrimp fajitas. Top with diced avocado, a dollop of greek yogurt, a fresh squeeze of lime juice and a little more cilantro.

...Off to watch "Eat, Pray, Love!" Have you seen the movie or read the book? I have read the book, and liked it...well it wasn't great, but it wasn't horrible. I hear the movie isn't very good, but I'm going to give it a try. Here's to hoping I don't fall asleep halfway through...that is wishful thinking for this lady who's body shuts down at 10 pm......