Saturday, October 31, 2009

Chicken Enchiladas and Mexican Rice

Halloween night turned into Mexican night at our house. I made chicken Enchiladas and Mexican Rice. These two recipes I've made several times so they are tried and true.

The chicken enchilada recipe comes from Rachael Ray. Its pretty easy and always comes out great.

Instead of pouching the chicken on the stove top like the recipe calls for, I add the chicken, chicken broth, oregano, bay leaves and onion to my crockpot and cook on low for 6 hours. I've done it both ways and find the crockpot to be more convenient and the chicken shreds easier. I just remove the breasts with a slotted spoon, add some of the cooking liquid and follow the rest of the directions.

Chicken Enchiladas

8 soft corn tortillas (I used flour)


3 cups chicken broth

4 pieces boneless skinless chicken breast, 6 to 8 ounces

1 bay leaf, fresh or dried

2 sprigs fresh oregano

1 small onion, quartered

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon chili powder, 1/3 palm full

1 teaspoon ground cumin



2 cups tomato sauce

2 teaspoons hot cayenne pepper sauce, several drops

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 2 pinches

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 1/2 cups Monterey Jack shredded cheese, available on dairy aisle

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Wrap corn tortillas in foil and warm in the oven. Bring broth to a boil in a saute pan. Set chicken into broth with bay and oregano and onion. Return to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Poach chicken in broth 10 minutes. Remove chicken breasts to a bowl and shred with 2 forks. Add 1/2 cup of cooking liquid and tomato paste,spices and salt and work through the chicken using the forks.

Combine all sauce ingredients and heat through, keeping warm until needed.Remove tortillas from oven and switch broiler on high.Pile chicken mixture into warm corn tortillas and roll. Line casserole baking dish with enchiladas, seam side down. Pour hot tomato sauce over the chicken enchiladas and top with cheese. Place in enchiladas in hot oven 6 inches from broiler and broil 5 minutes to melt cheese and set enchiladas. Serve.

Chicken in the crockpot

Chicken after it was shredded

Ready for the oven

This Mexican Rice recipe comes from my friend Allison. She had a Mexican dinner party at her house and made this rice. It is so tasty so I started using it myself.

Mexican Rice

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup uncooked white rice

1 onion, chopped

1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

2 cups chicken stock

1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles

2 teaspoons chili powder, or to taste 1 teaspoon salt

Heat oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Saute rice, onion, and bell pepper until rice is browned and onions are tender. Stir in stock and tomatoes. Season with chili powder and salt. Cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until rice is cooked and liquid is absorbed.

Homemade Salsa

For my Mexican dinner tonight, I decided it would be fun to attempt making my own fresh salsa. I was really surprised at how easy it was and how good it turned out!!

I got the recipe from Here is a link to the Original Recipe

Fresh Tomato Salsa


3 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup finely diced onion
5 serrano chiles, finely chopped (I used a poblano pepper instead)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lime juice


In a medium bowl, stir together tomatoes, onion, chili peppers, cilantro, salt, and lime juice. Chill for one hour in the refrigerator before serving.

I used my food processor to chop all the veggies and then smoothed out the salsa in the blender at the end. Yum!!!

Here is the Salsa served with Allison's homemade guac and homemade chips!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


My friend Allison told me she made meatloaf over the weekend so of course I've been craving it ever since! I do not have a "go to" recipe so I asked her what she uses. She told me she uses the Lipton Onion Soup mix recipe and glazed the meatloaf with 1/4 cup ketchup mixed with 2 tbs brown sugar. I decided to give it a try!

Lipton Superior Meatloaf

1 envelope Lipton® Recipe Secrets® Onion Soup Mix
2 lbs. ground beef
3/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
2 eggs
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup ketchup

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Combine all ingredients in large bowl.
2. Shape into loaf in 13 x 9-inch baking or roasting pan.
3. Bake uncovered 1 hour or until done. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

The only thing I added to the recipe was about 1/2 cup defrosted frozen spinach.

Cecily was a little unsure about mixing it by hand

But she loved "painting" the glaze on!

All ready for the oven

An hour later, its ready to eat! It was SO good. Very moist and tasty. I'll be making it this way again for sure!

New Jersey Marathon Race Report

This post was written back in May, after I completed the New Jersey Marathon. I wanted to include it in my blog since it was the biggest moment in my running life so far. Enjoy!

Short Version - I ran the NJ Marathon yesterday with the northern NJ chapter of Team in Training. I finished with a garmin time of 5:37:45 (official times not posted yet) and am beyond thrilled. Despite the rain I ran even stronger than I could have possibly imagined. If anyone is considering an event with TNT, do it!! What an amazing experience! I took the advice that I will only run my first marathon once, so even when I was hurting and soaked from the rain, I made a point to take it all in and enjoy every second.

Long Version - Saturday morning my family (Me, Zach, Cecily, my parents, sister and in laws) headed down to Long Branch around noon to go to to the expo, pick up my bib and race pack, have lunch and just shop around. The expo was small, but nice and the shopping area in Long Branch is really pretty. I got to see where the start and finish would be, got a new bondi band, had a yummy lunch and start getting nervous and excited.
Me outside the expo

Me, Zach and Cecily on the boardwalk

That night we went to the Team in Training pasta party which was fun and inspirational. Here is the whole Northern NJ Team. My teammates and coaches were all amazing

When we got back to the hotel after the pasta party around 9:00, I got all my stuff ready for the morning and went to sleep. I tossed and turned a bit but felt like a got a decent amount of sleep. My alarm went off at 4:00, I got right up and ready to go.

I met my team in the lobby at 5:00, and we were on our way to the start at 5:30. We were able to hang out in the host hotel right next to the start line until about 7:20 so we could stay warm and dry. This worked out well for bathroom stops. It was a 7:30 start which was delayed almost a half hour because of an accident that caused even more traffic than anticipated. When I made it to the starting line I found my family right away. They took some pictures and gave me some last minute advice (my dad is a 6 time marathoner).

Here I am with my training partner Kathy and TNT teammate Martha

Back of my singlet honoring all the people in my life effected by cancer. They were my inspiration

The start

Then we were off! For the first 5 miles I felt good but was worried that I wasnt getting into a good groove. Kathy and I had a plan to walk through most water stops and make sure our splits were consistantly between 12 and 12:30. We wanted to avoid getting caught up and going out to fast. My hip was feeling tight (It band related) so we made a porta potty stop at mile 4, I stretched a bit and felt fine afterwards. I saw my family at mile 6 which was a great boost.
Still going strong at mile 6

By mile 8 I finally found my groove. I was cruising along at a steady pace and Kathy was feeling good as well. We passed through some gorgeous neighborhoods in Long Branch and some not so gorgeous ones. By mile 12 we were up on the boardwalk next to the ocean cruising towards the halfway mark. We saw one of our TNT coaches who ran with us for awhile. Then I saw Zach who told me the rest of my cheering section was right after the halfway mark. It was tough seeing the halfers finish, but seeing my family kept me in good spirits. We downed some pretzels that they handed us and kept on going. I remembered the advice a trainer at my gym told me which was when you start the loop again (NJ marathon is a double loop) just focus on making it to mile 14 so you dont get caught up in seeing others finish the half.

Kathy and I at the halfway point

The 2nd half started off fine and then Kathy started having a lot of pain in her knees. We walked through a water station around 15.5 and she couldnt start back up. She stopped at the porta potty and told me to keep on going. It pained me to leave her (we did all our training runs together) but I knew I had to keep going. By 17 it started to pour rain (it had been drizziling up until this point) and I was starting to get discouraged. Once I hit the 18 mile mark I was lonely, soaked and scared because I was heading into uncharted territory. This was definitely "the wall" for me, although it was way more mental than physical. I knew my family would be around mile 19 so I focused on seeing them again.

When I did I cried my eyes out but kept on going. I kept on running through 20, than 21, still feeling sorry for myself. At 21 I saw a TNT coach from another Chapter who pointed out that the 5:30 pacer wasnt too far ahead of me. 5:30 was my dream time so I felt so great hearing that and started to feel better. Between 21 and 22 I was running opposite people coming in on mile 23 and 24. I saw a friend of mine I didnt even know was running that day and another friend that I did. SO great to see familiar faces!!! By 23 I was walking on and off but only for a minute or two at a time. I was impressed at how much I was running and was still keeping my pace. I felt pretty good even though I was soaking wet and tired. My biggest annoyance at this point was that my running skirt was SO wet that it was slipping. I spent the last few miles of the race pulling it up.

At mile 24 I found one of my coaches who ran with me until mile 25, and than handed me off to 2 more coaches. Having them to run during the home stretch was priceless. I got on the boardwalk, passed the mile 26 marker and could see the finish line. I was crying and running strong. They were telling me how proud they were of me. I knew I had made it under 5:40. I took off fast (but not too fast, I didnt want to puke!) and ran to the finish. I saw Zach on the other side and my family screaming, yelling and crying. I did it!! What an unbelievable feeling. I bawled my eyes out. Got my medal and finisher's hat.
Almost there
I did it!

Once I got into dry clothes I waited for Kathy to come in. She was well over 1/2 hour behind me. Poor thing was in so much pain and walked almost 10 miles to the finish. Such determination! I was so proud of her.

After going back to the hotel, taking and ice bath and the longest hot shower Ive ever taken in my life, we headed to the TNT victory party.

Kathy and I, we clean up well!

Such an amazing experience. I still cant believe I can officially say I am a marathoner. I would definitely do the NJ marathon again, it was a nice course and easy for my family to be able to see my 4 times during the race. I loved training and running with Team in Training. I wouldnt have wanted to do it any other way. The on course support with all the purple singets was awesome. I raised over $3600 for a great cause, met incredible people, and had the experience of a lifetime.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Creamy Corn Soup

This afternoon I made a new soup recipe. This Corn Soup (recipe from my friend Brenna) caught by eye because of the roasted red peppers, one of my husband's favorite ingredients. Plus I wanted an excuse to use my new hand blender :D

Corn Soup

Serves 6

2 red peppers
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3-4 cups corn niblets, thawed if frozen
3 cups chicken stock
2/3 cup light cream
(I used fat free evap milk and a dash of heavy cream)
salt and ground black pepper

Dry-fry the peppers in a griddle over medium heat, turning them frequently until the skins are blistered all over. Place them in a strong plastic bag and tie the top to keep the steam in. set aside for 20 minutes, then remove the peppers from the bag and peel off the skin. (Cook’s tip: Look for roasted red peppers in jars. These come ready-skinned and are useful in all sorts of recipes. Used here, they make a quick soup even speedier.)

Cut the peppers in half and scoop out the seeds and cores. Set one aside. Cut the other into ½-inch dice.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and sauté over low heat for about 10 minutes, until it is translucent and soft. Stir in the diced pepper and corn and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat.

Spoon the contents of the pan into a food processor, pour in the chicken stock and process until almost smooth (I used a blender because it is a lot of liquid). This processing can be done in batches if necessary.

Return the soup to the pan and reheat it. Stir in the cream, with salt and pepper to taste. Core, seed and cut the reserved pepper into thin stirs and add half of these to the pan. Serve the soup in heated bowls, garnished with the remaining pepper strips.

The soup came out very thick and creamy. I added about a Tbs of chopped fresh rosemary, I think it was a really good addition. I plan on reheating tonight in the crockpot for dinner and serving with bread. YUM!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Marine Corps Marathon 10k Race Report

This weekend Zach and I took the trip down to Washington DC to run the Marine corps Marathon 10k. The Marine Corps Marathon is on my list of full marathons I want to run one day(my father ran it 4 times), so when I heard they were having a 10k at the same time, I registered the both of us on a whim. I am so glad I did!

We left Saturday morning and drove 4+ hours down, arriving at the Expo mid afternoon. We got our race packets and did some shopping (tried not to buy too much)!

View of the expo:

Saturday night we had a nice dinner and a few beers and then headed back to the hotel to get a good nights sleep.

Our stuff all ready to go:

We got up at 5am on Sunday morning and got ready for the race. The start of the 10k was at the National Mall with view of the Washington Monument. The weather was perfect, sunny and a crisp 50 degrees.

And we're off!

The race went great. Zach and I ran a steady 11 min mile the whole way, speeding up during the last mile (10:40). The finish was amazing, there were marines lining the streets giving us high fives. It gave me the chills. I was thrilled that we finished in 1:09:33, almost 5 whole minutes faster than my previous 10k PR.
With my medal!

I can't wait to fun the full marathon on DC one day. It was a great experience, I was actually jealous of the people still running the full when we were driving away!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pasta with Eggs and Bacon

This recipe was on the Today show the other day. My father in law thought it looked interesting and sent me the link. I decided to give it a try, I needed a quick and easy dinner for my daughter and me. I cut the recipe in half and made a few adjustments.

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pasta pot
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces slab or thick-cut bacon, cut in 1/2 -inch pieces
5 large eggs
1 batch (1 1/2 pounds) fresh cavatelli (recipe below) or 1 pound dried pasta (I used spaghetti)
2 cups shredded Fontina Val d’Aosta (I substituted an Italian blend of cheeses)


Fill the large pot with salted water (at least 6 quarts water with 1 tablespoon salt), and heat to a boil.

Pour the olive oil into the skillet, and set it over medium-high heat. Drop in the butter, let it melt, then scatter in the bacon pieces. Cook the bacon, stirring and tossing the pieces, for 5 minutes or so, until they’re crisp and caramelized. (If the bacon rendered lots of fat, you can pour off half the fat in the pan.)

Beat the eggs and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl until well blended.

When the water is at a rolling boil, drop in the cavatelli, stir, and return the water to a boil. Cook the cavatelli 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. Lift them from the pot, drain briefly and spill them into the skillet.

Over medium heat, toss the cavatelli with the bacon pieces, coating the pasta with the oil, butter and bacon fat, too. Pour the beaten eggs all over the pasta, stirring and tumbling them together; keep scraping the coagulating egg from the sides and bottom of the pan, and incorporate it in with the wet eggs. Cook for a minute or two, just until all the egg is lightly cooked and custardy and evenly scrambled into the cavatelli.

Turn off the heat, scatter the shredded Fontina over the eggs and pasta, and toss thoroughly to blend in the cheese as it melts.

Serve immediately.

Cecily loved it and ate an entire bowl, not bad for my picky girl. I, on the other hand, wasn't super impressed. The flavor was kind of bland, it was definitely lacking something. That being said, I think I would try this again, maybe using the fontina cheese that it called for and adding some other flavors. I have a great Rachael Ray recipe for Carbonara so maybe I am just spoiled by that one!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

I am not much of a baker, but I do like to make a few things, especially this time of year. I have been known for some big baking mishaps, so I have to make sure I pay extra close attention to detail!

Today I read through several blogs looking for a pumpkin bread recipe to try. I have one that I have used in the past which is good, but tends to be a bit heavy. I found this recipe in Food alla Puttanesca and loved that it was a lighter version.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
source: Cooking Light


2 cups sugar
2 cups canned pumpkin
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup fat-free vanilla pudding (I used fat-free vanilla yogurt)
4 large egg whites
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350°.Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.
Combine flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, stirring just until moist.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Spoon batter into 2 (8 x 4-inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack, and remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

The bread came out very tasty and super moist. I will definitely be using this recipe again!

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Since I am also making pumpkin bread today, I decided to warm myself up with a homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte. I had saved the link to a crockpot version from A Year of Slow Cooking and have been dying to try it.

I cut the ingredients in half since it was only for me, and made it on the stove top instead of the crockpot. It worked out great! Here is the Original Recipe

1 cup milk (I used skim)
1 T canned pumpkin
1 T white sugar (I used Splenda)
1 T vanilla
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I didn't measure, just sprinkled until I felt it was plenty)
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee

Add all ingredients into a small pot on low heat. Whisk together until warmed through. Garnish with whipped cream.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Orange Ginger Salad Dressing (take 2)

This is my second attempt to recreate this dressing that my husband gets at a lunch place by his office. While it came out better this time, its still not right. Anyone want to tell me whats missing?

Thanks to my good friend Allison (who knows WAY more about cooking than I do!) I now know that Sesame Oil cannot be used as the main oil for dressing. This time I used about a 1/3 cup of olive oil, 1/3 cup fresh orange juice, 1 tsp of Sesame oil, orange zest, ground ginger and about 2 tsp of sugar.
Little hands eager to get zesting

Cecily helping me juice the orange

Even if I end up not using it, it was a fun activity for us this afternoon!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Crockpot Chicken and Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

I have been hearing good things about making a whole chicken in the crockpot, so I decided to give it a try today. I use my crockpot a lot, but this is something I have never done before.

First, I sprayed the crockpot with cooking spray. Then I made 4 small balls of aluminum foil. This is a tip I got on the Nest. Apparently it is best to sit the chicken on top of these foil balls so it isn't sitting directly in the crockpot. I don't argue with Nestie experts!

I removed the giblets from the inside of the chicken and washed it. I stuffed the chicken with a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, 1/2 of a lemon, and onion and a few cloves of garlic. After placing the chicken in the crockpot, I squeezed the other 1/2 of lemon on the chicken and then sprinkled it with salt and pepper. Then the spices - I used paprika and Mrs Dash Garlic and Herb. I use this combo when roasting chicken (suggested by my friend Leslie) and it is so delicious. Lastly I sprinkled some fresh chopped rosemary on top.

I added some carrots, celery and onion around the chicken, popped the top on and dinner will be ready in about 8 hours! I love slow cooking!

I decided to make a salad and some roasted potatoes on the side. I tossed the potatoes in olive oil, salt and pepper and some fresh chopped rosemary. 450 for about 45 minutes.

For the salad, I cut up one romaine heart, added some carrots and croutons. For the dressing, I decided to try to duplicate one that my husband gets at a lunch place by work. He brought some home and it was delicious. I am using sesame oil, the juice of an orange, the zest from the orange, soy sauce, sugar and ground ginger. Well, the dressing turned into a total FAIL, so I we'll be using bottled Asian Sesame dressing instead!

The chicken came out great in the crockpot. I will definitely be doing that again!

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