Pinning and Planning – December 30

After a month of trying not to overindulge, I feel like it was a losing battle.  I feel so bloated, globby and lumpy much like the Lumpy Space Princess from Adventiure Time.  “Oh my glob!  Don’t be hating on my lumps!”   

But I truly hate the lumpiness.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been unable to run for two weeks due to a nasty chest cold and I’ve not been able to burn the extra unhealthy calories. 

Well, the party is over!  The sweets and globiness have got to go!  It’s time to get back on the healthy track again; time to cut back on the carbs and attempt to eat better again.

A commitment to healthy eating again starts on Day 1 with our traditional New Year’s meal, a pot of lentil soup.  This tradition was passed onto my mom by her best friend.  Supposedly, lentil represent coins and with a bit of green such as spinach, it brings a promise of wealth in the new year.  Also in the way of tradition, we eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight, a Spanish custom that promises a month of good fortune with each grape.  Hey, I’ll take all the good luck I can get!

And thankfully, Publix still has lots of wonderful veggies, fish and legumes on sale to help with the healthy and wealthy part of our resolutions and commitments.  Saving pennies means keeping pennies in my pocket while keeping the calories and carbs off my plate.

S – Lamb Curry (still lots of leftovers in the freezer from Christmas)

M – Lentil and Spinach Soup with Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Salad

T – Sweet Potato Crusted Tilapia with Fingerling Roasted Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

W – Skinnytaste’s Chicken Rollatini Stuffed with Zucchini and Mozzarella with Mashed Cauliflower

Th – Stacked Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas

F – Dinner out

Here’s to lots of luck, health, wealth and good fortune to you and yours in 2013!

What things are you cooking up this week?  Are you eating less carbs too?  Link up and share the delicious dishes you are pinning and planning to serve this week.

Plan your menu for the week and if you have some favorite food pins, add those too. Then, link up and share your post. If you’re not on Pinterest, send me an email and I’ll send you an invite.



Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Leeky, Creamy Chicken and Dumpling Soup

PhotobucketWhen I planned this week’s menu, I was craving this soup. Maybe with all the icky, sick germs in my house, my body needed the immune-building homemade penicillin that chicken soup always seems to provide.

I first found this ridiculous easy recipe in Rachel Ray Every Day, but over the years, I’ve tweaked it a bit by finding a way to reduce the fat without losing all the creaminess.  I also use less gnocchi than the original recipe.

It’s been a while since I last made it, but one taste and I remembered how much I love it and it’s always a hit with the family too.

With the nasty cold weather expected this weekend, bundle up and stay warm and then get this soup started for dinner tonight.  With this soup, you can prepare it ahead of time and then throw the gnocchi in just before you serve it.  The leftovers reheat and freeze nicely too, so you’ll have it for another cold, winter day.

Leeky, Creamy Chicken and Dumpling Soup
(Adapted from Rachel Ray)

Ingredients
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 leeks, white and tender green parts split lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
5 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup non-fat milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound chicken tenders, cut into small chunks
1 package gnocchi
1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
3 Tbsp dry sherry
¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Directions
In a Dutch oven or soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the leeks, celery and bay leaf and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the cream and milk, lower the heat and simmer until the soup bubbles at the edges.

Add cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste.  Add the chicken and gnocchi and cook for 5 minutes.  Stir in the parsley and sherry.  Serve hot.

Makes  4-6 servings.

Thanks for joining our weekly Friday Food Fight! Can’t wait to see what everyone is flinging this week!

While here, don’t forget to toss some cookies at The Ultimate Virtual Christmas Cookie Swap!



*Also submitted at*

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Leftover Cranberry Sauce Muffins

PhotobucketI’m going to do it.  I’m just going to come right out and shame my mother in front to of the whole blogosphere.

See, on Thanksgiving, my mom prefers the nasty cranberry jelly from the can.  We grew up with the condiment on our Thanksgiving table.

When Allan cooked our first Thanksgiving meal with my family, he made cranberry sauce from scratch.  My mom tried it and could stomach it.  She missed her perfectly cylinder-shaped cranberry sauce.  Every Thanksgiving since then, my mom has brought her own cranberry sauce in the can.

That, my friends, is a true story.

This year when my mom and I were discussing the Thanksgiving menu over the phone, I told her that Allan would be making his own cranberry sauce and I asked her if she would be bringing the can again.

“Of course, because I like it.”

“Mom, you know that stuff is horrible and bad for you right?  Have you ever read the ingredients?  I bet there aren’t even real cranberries in it.”

“Wait.  I’ll read it to you,” she replied as she searched for the can in her pantry.  “Here we go,” she said as she proceeds to read the label.  “Oh wow.  The first ingredient is corn syrup.”

“See, mom.  I told you that stuff is horrible.  You should eat cranberry sauce with real cranberries.”

“But I don’t like the taste.  It’s too tart.”

“That’s because you’re tasting real cranberries and there’s no corn syrup masking the flavor.”

“You’re probably right.  All right I’ll try Allan’s but tell him to not go crazy with the ginger and I’m bringing my own can again.”

I relayed the order to Iron Chef Allan and just as we promised, Allan made a more palatable, no ginger added cranberry sauce for my mom.

This was the first year she didn’t bring the can.  I was so proud of her and even more so when she ate some real cranberry sauce.

However, we had TONS of cranberry sauce leftover.

So, I had this brilliant idea to use the leftover cranberry sauce in muffins.  My kids love muffins and the cranberry sauce would definitely not be left sitting in my fridge.

They came out incredible!   These Leftover Cranberry Sauce Muffins are by no means low-fat, but after eating 2000 calories in one sitting the day before, I don’t think a few more fat grams (actually 13 grams) would matter.

Ok, so maybe it does matter.  You could try substituting the eggs with a couple of egg whites, applesauce or plain non-fat yogurt to lighten up the recipe, but I can’t guarantee the results, because these little fluffy fattening muffins were delicious.  They are a new day after Thanksgiving tradition for us along this the Day-After Turkey Soup.

By the way, this is the last week I’m sharing uses for leftover Thanksgiving food.  Promise.

Leftover Cranberry Sauce Muffins

Ingredients
3 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
2 cups cranberry sauce

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly grease a muffin pan or line with paper liners.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In a standing electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one.  Add vanilla and sour cream and mix until well incorporated.

On a low setting, add dry ingredients in three parts until batter is smooth.

Remove bowl from mixer.  Gently fold in cranberry sauce.

Using a small ladle, fill muffin cups about 2/3 full.  Bake for 18-24 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool in pan for five minutes.  After five minutes, remove muffins from pan and continue cooling on a rack.

Thanks for joining our weekly Friday Food Fight! Can’t wait to see what everyone is flinging this week! 


Don’t forgot to toss your cookies here!

*Also submitted at*

Sweet Tooth Friday

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Random Thoughts about a Dirty Girl, Feeling like Alice, a New Challenge and Track Tuesday

It seems people like reading about me being dirty my mud run recaps.  After reading my Pretty Muddy recap, Dirty Girl Mud Run approached me and a few other Tampa Bay Bloggers to race and review how Dirty Girl does a mud run.

Of course, I jumped on the chance to do it and the TBB girls and I already picked our team name: Mud Bloggin’.  But, I have to admit. I’m a little nervous about this one.  I know.  I know.  I said that about the last one, however, I’m not scared of the mud, you see.  That ain’t nothing.  (Spoken like a Dirty Girl gone pro-mud runner.)  I’m nervous about my heels and my reoccurring plantar fasciitis flare-ups.

Dirty Girl Mud Run happens in Tampa on February 9th.  That’s less than a month after the Disney Marathon and a week after the Best Damn Race 10K.  It also happens to be two weeks before my second marathon in Ft. Lauderdale.

Now you see why I’m nervous.  That’s a heavy race load in one month.  The upside: The money I saved on registering for this race can be used to buy a new pair of shoes just for mud runs (because the girlie mud runs seem to be my thing).

And there’s another bonus to choosing to do a Dirty Girl Mud Run.  Much like Pretty Muddy, I can choose not to do certain obstacles.  I can give my plantar fasciitis feet a pass.  And that my friends, is how Run DMT plans to be a Dirty Girl.

If you want to join me in the Dirty Girl Mud Run, all Run DMT readers that register will receive 20% off with the code FLBLOGGUESTThis code also works for the Jacksonville and Miami events too.

Anyone who registers for the Miami, Jacksonville or Tampa Dirty Girl Mud Run between Dec. 5th and Dec. 24th 11:59pm will automatically be entered to win a gym membership of her choice valued up to $500.

Speaking of obstacles, my running partners, Chrissy and Daffodil, prepared a good one for me this weekend.  During our 18 mile run, we took a shortcut to the trail, a worn path parted through shrubs with a slight incline.  I felt like Alice following the White Rabbit as we slipped through the rabbit hole trying not to break an ankle.  It’s all part of my mud run training.

RabbitHoleCollage

For this week’s 18, we ran through Chrissy’s neighborhood and on the trail and it was a welcomed change.  After we finished Chrissy, had a fabulous runner’s tailgate for us.  Apparently, I’ve set the standard.

These 18 miles were much better than the last and I shaved 9 minutes off my last 18 miler.  Plus, I felt great!  We kept a nice steady pace around 10:15-10:30, walked occasionally and my heels didn’t bother me one bit. Isn’t that awesome?!

Sun, 12/2
18.1 miles
Time 3:21: 22
Ave Pace 11:07
Max Pace 8:30

Last week was a perfect running week for me and I believe there are two reasons for the lack of pain.  Every time I ran, I wore the Feetures! PF sleeves which I still LOVE.  Last week, I also ran A LOT.  I ran all the miles necessary to meet hit a comfortable, no strain 18 miles.  For me, the key is to run 4-5 times a week and my mid-week should be half the distance of my long run.

My feet are all better and now my Garmin is giving me grief.  Some is wrong with the charging base and it doesn’t always charge properly.  I swear I did ten miles on Wednesday, but my Garmin died around 5.2 miles.  I just doubled the total.

Wed, 11/28
10 miles
Time 1:39:18
(Garmin died at 5.2 – 54:59)
Ave Pace 10:34
Max Pace 8:41

Thurs, 11/29
5 miles
Time 49:51
Ave Pace 9:58
Max Pace 8:20

On my rest days (Friday and Saturday), I finished off the #Thanks4Planks challenge and on December 1, we unwrapped a new challenge: #fitgift.  Basically, you do something every day during December.  You can read more about it and join the December fitness challenge here.

Today is Track Tuesday which means speedwork.  Here’s how my sprints unfolded today.

1 mile
9:55

Lap 1 – 0.25
Time 1:48

Ave Pace 7:15

Lap 2 – 0.25
Time 1:54.48
Ave Pace 7:39

Lap 3 – 0.25
Time 1:54.15
Ave Pace 7:34

Lap 4 – 0.25
Time 1:56.95
Ave Pace 7:46

1.1 mile
Time 10:34
Ave Pace 9:37

The rest of the week will be light running week as I have the Holiday Half on Sunday.  Friday and Saturday will be rest days, but I’ll do something to keep up with #fitgift challenge.

What’s you running plans for the week?  Got some sprints to share?  What other work-outs are you doing?

I am excited to announce a new Track Tuesday co-host!  Meghan of runMeganrun will be joining me on the track for weekly speedwork.  The “rules” are still the same, so link up and play along with us.

To join our Track Tuesday linky party, do your speed work (at least 4 quarter mile sprints) on Tuesday or any day you that works best for you, blog about your times and remember to add our cool Track Tuesday button to your post.  Then, link up your post at either runMeganrun or Run DMT to share Track Tuesday Speed Work Sessions.  To show support for our other virtual running partners on the Track Tuesday Team, be sure to visit the other blogs listed in the linky party.  Give them a virtual high-five and leave some comment love too.



*Also linking up at*

Stacy

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Music Monday: It Feels Like Christmas

Even before the calendar flipped to December, my family and I were already all sparklejollytwinklejingley for Christmas during Thanksgiving.  Thanks to the Straz Center, my family and I experienced the joy and magic of Christmas a little early with the help of our favorite elf and star of Elf The Musical, Buddy.

And speaking of elves, a funny little Elf on the Shelf found a home in our tree on the first day of December.

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I know what you’re thinking. I swore I would never buy one because I said these elves symbolize everything that is wrong with Christmas, not to mention how incredible creepy, clown-like, Chuckie-wannabe these elves are.   Therefore, this holiday I’ll be eating humble pie instead of Christmas pie which is best served cold because this little North Pole transplant likes the cold.  Don’t judge me because there will be more photos like these.

Giggles went for a joyride.

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The next he snapped some photos of the tree.

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On Friday evening, we visited Christmas Town more than once.  My family and I once again experienced the wonder of Christmas with the help of Busch Garden’s Christmas Town.  The wondrous icy sensation of Snow World melted our hearts, but the truly heart-stopping, good cheer happened for me at Cheetah Hunt.  Nothing beats humming and singing a happy Christmas tune just before you’re catapulted into the atmosphere at high speed.

Santa baby, slip a sable under the tree, for me
I’ve been an awful good girl
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney to…..NIGHAAAAAAAAAA!  OH MY GOD!

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However, while stopping Snow World at Busch Garden’s Christmas Town, we witnessed a travesty.  As my girls and I waited patiently in line to play in the snow, we watched two pre-teen boys beat the living ice cubes out of Frosty the Snowman.  The bad boys ripped off Frosty’s broomstick arms and beat him repeatedly until his head broke off.  As Frosty’s poor decapitated head lay helplessly on the ground, his attackers ripped off his carrot nose and violently stabbed him in the neck with his own nose.

I couldn’t believe the horrible scene unfolding in front of us.  “For love of God!  Stop beating Frosty!  All he ever wanted to do was wish everyone a ‘Happy Birthday’.”  Then, my girls chimed in to shout at the cruel children.  “Leave Frosty alone!”

Good Lord.  I can never look at a snowman the same way.  It will take years to heal from this and just when I finally could look at clowns and dolls without cringing.  And while we’re compiling a list of creepy creature, add living statue angels to the list.

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Then, my girls and I enjoyed one more Christmas moment when we visited the Tampa Theater for The Muppet Christmas Carol.  I had never seen the movie before so the film was a first for all of us.  Michael Caine played the perfect Scrooge.

Stay tuned for more posts to follow about each of these wonderful Christmas events!

Does it feels like Christmas or does the thought of Christmas having you cringing?  Are you in the Christmas mood yet or are you a Scrooge? 

What Christmas music is moving you this season?



Visit Xmas Dolly and Jade Louise Designs for more Music Monday.

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

December Fitness Challenge: The Gift of Fitness

GiftofFitness_DecChallengeI racked my brain trying to come up with a reasonable and decent, worthwhile fitness challenge for December.

With a marathon next month, I didn’t want the challenge to be anything to strenuous.  I couldn’t take the chance of hurting myself, but I also needed to keep focused and something to prevent me from eating stacks of Christmas cookies.

I didn’t want to do something we’ve already done, such as burpees, planks, push-ups, yoga or  ab exercises even though I could use a push for a six-pack again.  Besides, even after all those burpees, some people still hate burpees, but oddly people love planks.

Then, it dawned on me.  Why not offer a fitness challenge that incorporates a little of everything?  Let my readers decide what they want to do, but keep encouraging them to do it.

So, my loyal Run DMT readers, I give to you “The Gift of Fitness”.  The December fitness challenge is simply a reminder to do something, anything every day.  By doing something every day, we’ll help battle the holiday bulge and kick those extra Christmas calories to the curb.

Anything goes!  Run, walk, plank, core exercises, swim, run, bike or burpee your way through December!  Pick whatever fitness keeps you on track with your fitness goals and do it.

I’m really excited about this fitness challenge and doubly excited because I’m co-hosting it with a truly inspirational and fitness junkie, Jenny of MetamorFit.  Her transformation into a fitness junkie is an incredible story and journey and she’s the perfect co-host because she already does some kind of fitness every day.

If you’re ready to give yourself the Gift of Fitness this December, join us by adding your blog title and url and/or your Twitter handle and url to the linky party below.  Then, follow @denisermt and @JennyMetamorfit on Twitter.  Use the hashtag #fitgift.

Spread the word by regifting our fitness challenge.  Share #fitgift with your readers and followers.  Blog about it and add the button to your sidebar.  Tweet it too.  “I’m giving myself the Gift of Fitness this December with @denisermt and @JennyMetamorFit. #fitgift”

Thanks for playing along and good luck!  Happy holidays!

GiftofFitness_DecChallenge


Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Day-After Turkey Soup

PhotobucketMy MIL makes a mean leftover turkey soup.  When only the skeletal remains of a once beloved bird were left standing on Thanksgiving, I longed for my MIL’s homemade Scottish penicillin.

It baffles me that my husband, having been raised by a lineage of great cooks, lacks an appreciation for soup made from a turkey carcass.  He just doesn’t like it.  Or maybe he only likes it when he makes it.

Bingo.

This Thanksgiving, we got to the vegetable root of the matter when I begged Iron Chef Allan to make leftover turkey soup.  (Secret ingredient: turkey carcass.)  He accepted the challenge and found a recipe from the Food Network that he could stomach.  The recipe calls for leftover vegetables, such as brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes and green beans although he used roasted root vegetables (turnips, parsnips, celery root, pearl onions and carrots).

The soup simmered for most of Black Friday and the whole house smelled fabulous.  No bones about it.  The final product was spectacular and the best part, it was Iron Chef Allan approved.

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Day-After Turkey Soup
(Borrowed from Food Network)

Ingredients
2 quarts chicken broth
1 turkey carcass, all meat removed
1 onion, halved, plus 1 onion, minced
1 carrot, halved lengthwise, plus 1 carrot, minced
1 whole stalk celery, plus 1 more stalk, minced
2 bay leaves
3 cups dark turkey meat
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
3 cups leftover cooked Thanksgiving side vegetables
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves

Directions
Put chicken broth, turkey carcass, onion halves, carrot halves, 1 celery stalk and 1 bay leaf in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer about 1 ½ hours. Finely dice the remaining onion, carrot and celery and reserve.

Dice the turkey meat. Make sure meat pieces are no larger than the size of a soup spoon. (If preparing soup the next day, be sure to store leftover turkey meat in an airtight container before placing it in the refrigerator, top with 1 or 2 ladles full of broth to keep meat moist.)

Before straining broth, remove large bones and carcass with tongs. Strain the broth through a sieve, covered with wet cheese cloth. Discard the solids. Transfer broth to a bowl set in a bath of ice water, which will cool the broth quickly and help keep it fresher longer. This can be done the night before and stored in the refrigerator until the next day.

In a large soup pot, heat garlic cloves in the olive oil. Allow to brown slightly and add minced carrots, celery, and onion. Sweat over medium-low heat until softened, about 7 or 8 minutes.

Dice the leftover vegetables.  Add the chopped sage to the soup pot along with the turkey broth and the remaining bay leaf. Bring to a simmer. When simmering, add diced leftover vegetables and diced turkey meat to the soup. Bring it back up to a simmer. Turn the heat off and cover. Allow to sit and steam for 5 to 7 minutes.

Let simmer for 5 more minutes.  Serve over rice or with drop biscuits.

Thanks for joining our weekly Friday Food Fight! Can’t wait to see what everyone is flinging this week! Remember to visit our Thanksgiving food blog hop too!



*Also submitted at*

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+