Tuesday, January 31, 2012

5k minus 1 week

Well, less than 1 week until the 5k. Ack!!! It's this sunday. superbowl sunday. Since the race starts at 8:00am, we should be done running by 8:45, which means we'll definitely be home in time to watch the superbowl (and have a huge breakfast after the race).

So I realize I keep flip flopping on this issue, but sometimes I really enjoy running outside and sometimes I get really intimidated. Like REALLY intimidated. I always feel like I can't run as much when I am running outdoors vs when I am on the treadmill. I don't know if it's the whole uphill downhill thing, or the fact that I can't control my pace. Half the time I run outside and I feel like crap afterwards because I feel like I've barely run or I didn't run as hard as I could have. The other half of the time, I end up feeling great and loving life. Who knows.

Also, sometimes the sky just looks so crazy.

Monday, January 23, 2012

wasabi ginger mashed potatoes

Two potato posts in a row! It's winter. it's appropriate to carbo load...to keep warm obviously.

We have wasabi ginger mashed potatoes EVERY THANKSGIVING. It's a tradition. Sometimes we have both wasabi potatoes and normal mashed potatoes! (I'll save my normal mashed potato recipe for another day...which is also delicious. it involves sour cream AND cream cheese).

So for all you skeptics out there, try it, it's worth it...I promise. And it's not as weird as you think.

Wasabi Ginger Mashed Potatoes
4 large russet potatoes, cubed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 small onions, diced
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons stonewall kitchen wasabi mustard (this is the only kind i use. very important! and it's from maine!)
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed (do you really need to use a whole stick of butter? probably not)
salt and pepper to taste
2 scallions, chopped for garnish

Place cubed potatoes in a large pot. Fill with water to just cover the potatoes. Turn heat on and allow potatoes to simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the water from the potatoes and mash (with your handy dandy potato masher!)

Heat a saute pan on medium high heat. Add oil. Heat for one additional minute. Sweat the onions and ginger until the onions become translucent, about 7 minutes.

Add cream. Do not allow the cream to boil, but make sure it is hot. Add the Stonewall Kitchen Wasabi Mustard and mix thoroughly. Add the butter, and stir until melted.

Pour cream mixture into mashed potatoes and mix thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with scallions.

Where to find Stonewall Kitchen Wasabi Mustard? I normally stock up on Stonewall Kitchen products whenever I go to Maine. There are stores in Portland, York, and Camden. For those of you in the Boston area, I have found this specific mustard at Russo's Market in Watertown. I know that Whole Foods, Roche Bros, and Sur La Table carry Stonewall Kitchen products; however, I do not know if they specifically have wasabi mustard. And you can always order online.

Also, try the wild maine blueberry jam. They use the little blueberries (you know, the sweeter and tastier kind).

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

smashed roasted marble potatoes + garlic confit

My go-to recipe for potatoes consists of cutting little potatoes in half and tossing them with olive oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper and throwing it in the oven for awhile. So I've decided to branch out and I actually used a recipe for once. I stole this one from Thomas Keller's ad hoc at home cookbook. I got the cookbook for Christmas, so I'm sure I'll be posting more recipes from it soon! (including a delicious roast chicken made in a le creuset dutch oven)

Before and After

Smashed Roasted Marble Potatoes (from ad hoc at home)
2 1/4 pounds marble potatoes, washed and dried
1/4 cup canola oil (i used olive oil)
4 thyme sprigs + a few sprigs for garnish
Kosher salt
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
8 cloves Garlic Confit, or to taste (see recipe below)
2 tablespoons minced chives
Fleur de sel (let's be really honest here, we probably don't need this)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Toss the potatoes with oil to coat, the thyme, and salt to taste in a large bowl.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large ovenproof frying pan. Spread the potatoes in the pan, transfer to the oven, and roast for 15-30 minutes (depending on potato size) until the potatoes are completely tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife.

Drain the potatoes, discard the thyme sprigs, and transfer the hot potatoes to a bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, the garlic confit, and chives and, using the back of a fork (or...a potato masher!!!!), smash the potatoes to combine them with the other ingredients. Serve garnished with thyme sprigs and a sprinkling of flour de sel.

Note: potato mashers? so much cooler than you think they are. definitely a worthwhile investment.

Garlic Confit and Oil
1 cup peeled garlic cloves
2 cups canola oil (lets be real honest again, you don't have to measure anything in this recipe)

Cut off and discard the root ends of the garlic cloves. Put the cloves in a small saucepan and add enough oil to cover them by about 1 inch - none of the garlic cloves should be poking through the oil.

Set the saucepan over medium-low heat. The garlic should cook gently: very small bubbles will come up through the oil, but the bubbles should not break the surface; adjust the heat as necessary. Cook the garlic for about 40 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until the cloves are completely tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the garlic to cool in the oil.

Refrigerate the garlic in a covered container, submerged in the oil, for up to 1 week.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

easy pumpkin muffins

Confession: like many people, I love muffin tops! (or muffies as they call them at Panera Bread). I plan on getting a muffin top tray very, very soon. Until then, regular muffins will have to do. These pumpkin muffins are super easy to make (and not as super sweet as the Trader Joes packaged pumpkin mix). Definitely worth it to make them from scratch! Trust me on this one.

(I can't remember where I got this recipe from...sorry)

Pumpkin Muffins
Makes 12 muffins...and probably even more muffin tops!

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 15 ounce can of pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (Another confession: I always use twice as much pumpkin pie spice as I am supposed to. So when I made these, I probably used at least 2 teaspoons. You can also do so at your own risk)
1 1/4 cups + 1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon (Again, I definitely probably used at least 2 teaspoons of cinnamon because I love it!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put liners in muffin cups.

Whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, 1 1/4 cups sugar, baking soda, and salt until smooth. Then whisk in flour until just combined (be careful not to whisk too much).

In another bowl, stir together cinnamon and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Divide batter into muffin cups, then sprinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar mixture (Confession #3: I may have sprinkled even more pumpkin pie spice here).

Bake until puffed and golden brown. A wooden pick inserted into the center of a muffin should come out clean - about 25 to 30 minutes.

Let cool and then eat.

Final confession: I stock up on canned pumpkin when its on sale in the fall and winter so I can eat these year round (including over the summer when I first made them).

Sunday, January 8, 2012

saratoga town loop

I take back everything I said about running outside. It's AWESOME! Challenging, but awesome.

So I was getting a bit tired of the gym (and it's been really crowded lately) and since it was a sunny 66 degree day in the south bay, I thought it might be a nice change to go for a run outside. I decided to start at my house and run the saratoga town loop, which (for those of you familiar with the area) loops around the high school, Saratoga Avenue, through downtown Saratoga, and back down Saratoga-Sunnyvale (and for those of you unfamiliar with the area that probably made no sense). I mapped my run and it ended up being about 3.5 miles.

Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures b/c I didn't take my phone and instead used my first generation iPod shuffle (you know, the white, candy stick one that also has a lanyard so you can wear it around your neck like a necklace. it's old school, but it does the job).

One of the things I struggled with was running up and down hill because I'm so used to running on the treadmill with no change in elevation. I'm sure with practice it will get easier. I also had difficulty controlling my pace in that I had no clue how fast I was running. I have no idea how to deal with this problem. Finally, I was afraid a car would run me over on Saratoga Avenue.

Despite these challenges, running outside was FUN! I loved the change in scenery and running past the little shops and restaurants in downtown Saratoga. And it's nice to breathe fresh air for a change. Weather permitting, I'm going to try to do an outdoor run every saturday and sunday. Wooo!

Friday, January 6, 2012

san francisco 5k

It's official, I finally registered for my very first road race! It's the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco 5k. It's on February 5th (about a month away) and runs through Golden Gate Park. There's a half marathon on the same day that starts and ends at the same place in the park, but it also goes down the Great Highway (one of my favoritist roads) by the ocean, but I am so not there yet!.

I am really excited, but also very nervous. I've been really busy this past week, so I haven't gotten a chance to hit the gym, but I am going to go tonight! So far I've just been working on trying to run a 5k straight through on the treadmill, but I am going to start working on running at an incline, as well as running outside.

My goals for this race:
1. Finish (seems simple enough, but no guarantees)
2. Run the whole thing (again, no guarantees)
3. Try to finish in 36 minutes

Also, for those of you unfamiliar with Golden Gate Park, there is a bison in there, maybe 2. This has been confirmed because one day I went looking for it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

homemade marshmallows

Over the weekend, my friend and I made homemade marshmallows. This recipe was taken from Gourmet (1998). They are sugary, bouncy, and not that hard to make! Also, sorry these photos aren't the best (some are quite dark...my camera phone doesn't have flash). BUT the good news is that I actually remembered to take photos.

about 1 cup confectioners sugar
3 1/2 envelopes (= 2 tablespoons + 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites (or you can substitute reconstituted egg whites)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Oil bottom and sides of a 13 by 9 inch baking pan and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners sugar.

In bowl of standing electric mixer (or just a large bowl), sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water and let stand to soften.

In a saucepan or pot, cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, 1/2 cup of water, an dealt over low heat, stirring with a wooden, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers over 240 degrees (about 12 minutes). Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.

With a standing or hand held mixture, beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about 6 minutes if using standing mixer or about 10 minutes if using hand held mixture.

In a large bowl with cleaned beaters, beat egg whites until they just hold stiff peaks.

Beat whites and vanilla into sugar mixture until just combined. Pour mixture into a baking pan (do not worry if you don't get it all in the pan. it gets too sticky and messy if you try to scrape off every last bit). Sift 1/4 cup confectioners sugar evenly over top. Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least 3 ours, and up to 1 day.

Run thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. lifting up 1 corner of inverted pan, loosen marshmallow and let drop onto cutting board. With a large knife, trim edges of marshmallow and cut them into roughly 1 inch cubes. Sift remaining confectioners sugar into a large bowl and add marshmallows in batches, tossing evenly to coat.

Also, I found out kitchen aid mixers are AWESOME. I used to think they were excessive in that I don't really need to use a mixer that often and my hand mixer works fine, but after using one, I've decide that I need one...really bad.