I’m Silly

Just two (ok, 2 and a half) weeks until the muddy season starts up again! And I’m not talking about when the last bit of snow finally melts- that better come much sooner. Like when I get home from work today sooner.

I’ll be trying out the Tough Mudder again. This time in the Poconos. It’s a tad bit closer and, well, I don’t have to go to NJ. I’ve got a great team going and am anticipating a really good time. I’m in much better shape than last time and I have no silly notions of inflicting burpee penalties on myself. I’m going to go into this like a Mudder, not a Spartan. Fun is the main goal. Well, that and finishing without having to go to an orthopedist shortly thereafter, which was the end result of my first Tough Mudder.

For nostalgia’s sake, I went back and read that post from my first Tough Mudder. Then, I read the very next post. It was very silly. I was very silly.

I shall quote myself:

I never thought of myself as a runner. I’m an OCR junkie, sure. But a runner? No freaking way. I hate running. Running is just a way to get from one obstacle to the next.

Runners are those psycho people who wake up at 3am to go for a 5-mile jog before breakfast.  They wear short shorts and windbreakers. Their race bibs stay clean and can be neatly arranged on cute little display.

See? I’m so funny.

So friggin’ much has changed in 17 months.

I am definitely a runner. A slow-as-molasses-in-winter runner, but a runner nonetheless. I run as often as I can and even head to the dreaded treadmill when necessary. I even run when there are *GASP* no obstacles at all!

I am still an OCR junkie, but I’m losing my Spartan ways faster than Queen Gorgo can stab a corrupt politician. Or rather, Spartan Race is losing its Spartan ways and I just don’t feel like hanging around and watching it fall. I still go out of my way to run through mud puddles and find smaller, fun OCRs.

I still am not crazy enough to wake up at 3am to go for a run before work. You want me to get up early, run, come back, shower, get the kiddo ready, and then drive my ass an hour and half to get to work by 8? Nope. Nope. Nope. I know there are people that do- hooray for them and all that- but it’s not for me.

I do not wear short shorts, although I did try to purchase short shorts. Luckily, I tried them on first and decided that the world did not need to see that. For that matter, I didn’t really need to see that.

I also still do not wear windbreakers. The swish-swish sound would drive me batshit crazy. (Did you know that spell-check does not consider batshit a word? Hmm.. Let me try bat-shit. Yep bat-shit is a word.) I do, however, have a jacket specifically for running. And gloves for running. Odd, I don’t need nor want gloves in the muck when others want them, but running out on the road when the weather drops below 40? Gloves, please.

AND I have a whole bunch of neat, clean, totally still readable bibs. And they are on a display. Actually, on multiple displays.

I promise there are some neat and clean ones underneath the funked up, dirty, crumpled ones.

 

Last year, I did 6 OCRs but 8 road races. Add in the 7 virtual road races and I did twice as many runs as obstacle courses. 8 out of the 13 races I’ve done and/or registered for for 2014 are road or trail runs. What is going on? Am I cleaning up my act, so to speak?

Has anyone else out there started as a mud runner and ended up going the clean shorts and running shoes route?

 

FoodDay Friday – Fails

This week, Jay went and cooked up all the dinners for the week on Monday. It was pretty much all done before I got home from work. Two of them were, in fact, from Pinterest recipes, but I missed the most of the making, so I have no clue what went down regarding these experiments.

What I do know is that I got an email from Pinterest last night saying that my account was locked! The horror! They say they noticed strange activity on my account and that pins were pinned and  boards were created that didn’t seem typical of me. A change-of-password later I was scouring through my boards checking to see if any evidence of the weirdness remained. Nothing was out of the ordinary, but I did get some giggles looking at things that I pinned that I thought would be brilliant but ended up being not-so-much-with-the-good.

First up, are these adorable little cupcake toppers. I was asked to try these for a baby shower.

Pinned onto my Sweet Inspiration board

I’m pretty damned crafty and have fairly decent knife skills, but these were just not in the cards for me. I’m fairly certain that they aren’t in the cards for anyone who isn’t a professional food stylist. Cutting up pieces of jelly fruit candies may seem easy-peasy when read on the computer screen, but actually taking blade to goo is another story. And the little chocolate chip eyes? That part looked like something out of a SyFy movie- one of those foreign ones where the English is dubbed in and there are little children giggling in corners while cuddling blood-soaked plush bunnies.

This one seems like a little slice of brilliant deliciousness:

Egg baked in an Avocado. Pinned from Noms-of-the-not-so-healthy-variety board. Don’t know why I did that. It seems healthy enough.

The recipe just says to pop out the pit and crack the egg into the void. I don’t know if I had unnaturally small avocados or if the eggs the recipe writer was referring to were quail eggs. The egg did not even remotely fit and I ended up with egg yolk baked in an avocado and a baking sheet covered in egg white goo. For me, it wasn’t all that bad though, since I despise the whites anyway.

 

The cake portion of this pin was awesome:

Pinned onto my Sweet Inspiration board.

I usually don’t abide by recipes that ask for boxed cake mix, but sometimes, in a pinch, they are a godsend. They are not a godsend when the frosting technique fails and you end up having to quickly make up some frosting from scratch and hope to all things holy and unholy that you still have some powdered sugar in the house. The recipe says to pop some marshmallows onto the top of the partially baked cupcakes and let them melt/toast onto the cakes. What actually happened was that I put the marshmallows on and they rolled off into the bottom of the oven. On the upside, my house smelled like s’mores for days to come.

And then there’s this one:

Cauliflower pizza crust.  Pinned to Healthy Noms for when we were trying to be Paleo.

This turned our really well… if I was trying to make a super-tasty cauliflower mash for a shepherd’s pie-type dish. It’s not the fault of the recipe. It’s the fault of the girl who always follows recipes asking someone who doesn’t use recipes to make the recipe. You see, the recipe instructs you to cook a whole cauliflower but then only use half of it for making the pizza crust. The whole thing went into the ‘dough’ instead. Obviously, this does not bode well for the final product.

Well, there you are. Our kitchen isn’t always sunshine, rainbows, and the scent of toasted cumin. Sometimes it’s defeat, spilled eggs, and the scent of burning marshmallows.

Stay tuned for next week when I attempt to make cookies with the “help” of a 3-year-old!

Operation Firebomb

Remember the time when I replaced a dead snail, only to find out that the dead snail was not, in fact, dead? And then when I found out that baby snails can survive just about anything? They are seriously like little shell-enclosed zombies. They just keep coming and coming and coming no matter how many of them I get rid of. Every morning, I’d go into X’s room and it was a game of how many snails I could count before he’d actually get his butt out of bed. Mind you, nearly every day, Jay or I would be pulling snails out of the tank and flushing them down the Express Funeral Services depository in the bathroom. Last week, I counted 17. Then 25. Then 30.

Four fish. Thirty snails? The odds were not in the fishes’ favor. Decisions were made and this weekend was labeled as Operation Firebomb. If the snails were going to spread (and reanimate) just like zombies, I was going to treat them as such. What does the government do in many a fictional zombie outbreak situation? Firebomb the city. They did it to London in 28 Weeks Later. They did it in New Orleans in Left 4 Dead 2. I was going to do it in X’s room.

Not having access to a miniature B-17 with matching incendiaries, I had to modify the military tactic for use in a 5 gallon fishtank.

First, the fish were evacuated and re-homed in temporary housing. I know, I know, usually the government doesn’t care and if you don’t evacuate on your own, you get torched just like the infected, but I’m giving these guys a shot. The temporary housing situation is doubling as a quarantine facility to make sure there are no snail eggs on their bodies or in the water itself.

Next, the aquarium decor was removed, inspected for snails and eggs, scrubbed with a scouring pad, and then placed in a pot of boiling water. If anyone cares to know, it turns out that aquarium decor does not like this. One fake plant was destroyed and the pirate hat separated from the pirate skull. All wars have casualties, I suppose.

Then I removed the filter system and the bag. There were at least a half dozen snails IN THE FILTER. The little plastic frame that holds the filter bags was chucked into the boiling water, too, along with the non-electrical portions of the filter system. The electrical piece was scrubbed to death.

I dumped all the gravel and threw it the hell away. It was the nice natural-looking stuff. Natural-looking meant natural-looking snails could be all stealthy and avoid my and Jay’s mollusk-removal process. It had to go. I watched another dozen or more snails spill out with the rocks.

Out of shear curiosity, I collected every snail I could during this whole process. There were a lot that I couldn’t- the ones in the filter bag, mixed in with the gravel, some that poured out with some of the water, and others that I found at the bottom of the pot after the boiling. The following image is my collection of X’s “baby ‘nails”:

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Every. Single. Dot in there is a snail.

We don’t feed the snails. The ‘adult’ snails were removed weeks ago. We had been removing snails on the daily. Yet still, there were all these snails in the tank. Forget cockroaches. Snails are going to inherit the Earth when we are gone.

Back to the cleansing. The tank itself was scrubbed with the scouring pad and rinsed with the most scalding hot water I could handle.

In with some brand spanking new, baboon-ass red gravel. Little black snails should show up like a beacon on those for quick identification and removal. The surviving pieces of decor and the filter system, complete with a fresh filter bag and charcoal, went in. Fresh water, water conditioner, and probiotics completed the Operation.

The fish are still displaced and the tank is sitting for 24 hours to cycle the water. Hopefully, this will also serve as another time period to see if any more little baby snails are going to hatch from their apparently indestructible eggs.

If this slash-and-burn technique of snail removal doesn’t work, I’m just going to give up. I’ll get the fish their own separate tank and just start a new experiment of just how many snails will live in 5 gallons of water. And then start doing some serious scientific testing of whatever it is that makes these gastropods so damned tough. I’m pretty sure I could market it for something.

Friday FoodDay – Ready-to-go Recipes

My husband is a chef and I just love to eat, so ninety-nine times out of a hundred we end up tweaking or completely changing recipes.

For today’s Friday FoodDay, I’ll  share 2 of the very rare no-need-to-change-because-it’s-perfect-already recipe finds. One of them is a healthy, protein-packed dinner that we make at least twice a month. The other is a truly decadent calorie-fest that should only be reserved for special occasions or really bad days. I’ll let you figure out which is which.

The first is a Black Bean and Corn Chili that was originally pinned from Living Well Spending Less.

Pinned to my Healthy Noms board  (hint, hint)

When it says that it is a 30 minute recipe, it isn’t kidding. This is a super-quick recipe that is great for weeknights. Unlike other quick chili recipes, this one actually tastes like a chili that’s been simmering away for hours. Another plus is that it’s made pretty much entirely with stuff that you can keep around the house indefinitely, so it is always there when it’s time to make dinner.

Our family is definitely a bunch of meat-eaters, so when the recipe gives the option of ‘vegetarian crumbles’ or ground beef, we go the ground beef route. We’ve also gone the ground chicken and ground turkey route for an even healthier option. One day I may even try to make it with the vegetarian crumbles and see if the carnivores notice the difference. We’ve also done it with a few different brands of salsa verde and one that we tried was definitely superior to all others- although Herdez worked out well, too. Of course, now that I’m trying to search the interwebs to find the name, it is pretending it doesn’t exist. I promise I will go storm into ShopRite on my way home and find the name of that salsa, because it was sooooo delish in this recipe.

To be replaced with nummy salsa verde at some point.

The next recipe doesn’t have a picture (and I forgot to take one) so it is not up on Pinterest. Honestly, it doesn’t need a pic. It needs 3 words to hook you:

Beer

Cheese

Bacon

Do I really need to say anything else?

The recipe is Black and Tan Irish Mac and Cheddar from the Food Network recipe vaults and it was sent to me by my friend and Donald Duck Sister (that’s a WHOLE ‘nother post,) Jeannine, in response to my post about the Gruyere and Bacon mac n’ cheese. I saved this recipe to make for St. Patrick’s Day, but then I ended up making Irish Car Bombs instead, and couldn’t sacrifice my oven away for making actual food. I’m pretty sure we ended up having Italian Sunday pasta at my Mom’s house instead. Real Irish-like.

Given the ingredients of 2 kinds of beer and 2 kinds of cheese plus bacon and pasta, I really don’t think I need to explain how evilly delicious this is. It is a little time consuming and you dirty a lot of pots and pans, but it is sooo worth it. Oh and make sure that you use a really big pot for cooking the pasta. If you look at the recipe, you’ll see that you actually cook the pasta IN beer. Beer is bubbly. Boiling water is bubbly. Pasta makes it more bubbly. Bubbly³ has a potential for a very messy kitchen. After eating the entire casserole dish of this pasta (and you will want to,) you will NOT be in the mood to clean that up. You’ve been warned.

 

Sleepy Hollow Half Marathon

Although we each had done a half marathon, Jay and I had yet to do one together. We remedied this problem last Saturday at the Sleepy Hollow Half marathon! Here’s the day in pictures:20140322_090459

 

I picked up our race packets at the Westchester Road Runner store. I shouldn’t say packets, actually. We got big reusable shopping bags filled with coupons and samples and pens… plus Road Runner gave 20% off to everyone picking up their bibs! So straight to the start line we went.

 

photo 1

requisite pre-race sneaker/bib shot

The fire department had their giganto American flag out, which Xavier refers to as a Pop-Pop flag (my dad is a Vietnam vet and almost always has a flag on his shirt) and salutes whenever sees one.

20140322_090947We peeped out the finish line and I promised I would return.

20140322_091226The race started and we shot straight up a m*****f****** hill, because it’s Sleepy Hollow and it is a very hilly area and for some godawful reason I didn’t think about that when I registered for this thing.

After the first (or second, or twelfth, or whatevereth…) gigantic hill , thing got weird. Could have been exhaustion-induced hallucinations or maybe just the race organizers trying to make us smile after nearly killing us.

20140322_10083020140322_112241

 

Then I realized that I absolutely positively could not get hurt or have to be swept off the course because there is just something about a headless horseman on an ambulance that is just a bit disconcerting. 20140322_113110

 

 

Lots of races promise music along the course, but how many have an actual band! Pretty cool!20140322_114309

Jay took a picture of this crazy artwork, 20140322_120854

but I don’t remember it all that well because there was a dog in a car that was passing us. It was cheering us on with its howling and I was busy howling back at him.

Even though, my knee started really hurting me by the last 3 miles and I had to walk (a lot,)we still finished at a run.  Jay seems to forget that I’m only 5 feet tall and has a tendency to practically lift me off my feet at finish lines.

shhmm2014finishD-531Rivertown Runners, who organizes this event, took so many finish line pictures. I never get finish line pictures so this was really cool. All of the photos were put up on Shutterfly and were totally free to download- Awesome!

shhmm2014finishD-535

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Then I took the most awesome selfie ever while capture my PR. Shaved 10 minutes off my Disney World half time! Not bad for having not trained properly AT ALL.

photo 2

Then I ran (hobbled quite slowly) away to the car for the ride home. Kept my Al1ve Magnetics calf sleeves on cuz I knew the calf crampies were just going to get worse sitting in the car for an hour and change.

 

photo 3

 

Quick stop at Cracker Barrel to grab some post-race indulgences while still in sweat-soaked race gear. Country fried steaks, macaroni and cheese, and hash brown casserole were well-deserved. Root beer is way tastier than an actual post-race beer as far as I am concerned. (Jay- I’m sure you’ll be kicking me out of the house for saying that. When you pack my bags and leave them in the front yard, please be kind and leave them on the dry patches of grass. Thanks)photo 4

And in true Dirt & Frosting fashion, I did not rest after the race. I baked lots and lots of cupcakes for a friend’s birthday party/Hudson Valley SPCA* supply drive. Mmmm… Peanut Butter and chocolate…photo 5  The End.

 

 

 

*As a terrible coda to the day, the HVSPCA that the supply drive was for caught on fire early Sunday morning. 2 Dogs perished and 5 suffered burns and smoke inhalation. If you would like to help, please click here.

Friday FoodDay – Asian Turkey Meatballs

1. I suck at this blog writing thing. My goal has always been to write at least 2 posts a week. We all see how well that has gone. Stupid work keeping me busy.

2. It’s Pi Day and I am not talking about PIE? WTF? I was considering making a pizza pie tonight for dinner and having that be my FoodDay item, buuuut the hubs has his very first marathon tomorrow and I’ve got to help him get his gear and stuff together. I’ll be ordering in pizza tonight and calling it Pi. Sue me.

Instead, I will show you how we got a 3 year old to eat mass quantities of vegetables:

It was done with a recipe that I pinned from skinnytaste.com for Asian Turkey Meatballs with Lime Sesame Dipping Sauce.

Pinned it: skinnytaste’s Asian Turkey Meatballs

Jay and I followed this recipe pretty much to the letter, but with extra garlic and a metric ton of veggies that had gone through the food processor. I think we probably added about an extra turkey-volume worth of ground up carrots, broccoli, and whatever other veg we had sitting in the fridge begging to be eaten. Drizzle the whole shebang with the dipping sauce, and voila- healthy noms.

Spaghetti and VeggieMeatballs

Now I’m all about swapping out carbs for pretend-carbs, but the “zoodles” that she suggests were just never going to fly with X. Instead, I opted for some veggie spaghetti. So not only did X’s plate have VeggieMeatballs, but he also had spinach and whatnot IN the pasta! Sweet!

So did the hidden veggies work? What do you think?

I eatin’ like Cookie Monster. Nom nom nom.

Friday FoodDay – Gruyere & Bacon

I’m a Pinterest junkie. What woman isn’t these days, though, right? I’ve pinned over a thousand random things and have even tested pins for two of the Pintester‘s Pintester Movements.

The weird thing is that I think my husband is becoming a Pintester by proxy. He doesn’t pin or even have a Pinterest account, but recently I have been forking over my pinned recipes for him to re-create for me.  So in the interest of public service, I will share how these pinned recipes go and any tweaks that Chef/hubby Jay makes so that you can make your pinned nommy noms even nommier.

The first installment of this shall be the test of Gruyere Bacon Mac and Cheese that was originally pinned from damndelicious.net.

From my Noms of the Not So Healthy Variety board.

Seriously, how on Earth was I supposed to say no to this? And given that X was going through an “I’m not going to eat anything” period, any food, no matter how unhealthy, was better than no food.

I’m not going to sit here and re-type the recipe for you, because you can just go to the link above to find it, but I will tell you the changes we made.

  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni Used a whole box of macaroni
  • 6 slices Jones Dairy Farm Sliced Bacon probaby used a whole package of bacon because I don’t remember having half a package left in the fridge, diced
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream because that was all  I had. Added in 2 cups or so of whole milk since I was doubling the recipe
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced not going to put a number on this. We used a LOT because that’s how my family rolls.
  • 1 tablespoon of those little tiny packages of chopped fresh thyme leaves sprigs so that we could take the thyme out after it flavored the milk. Can’t let green in X’s food.
  • 1 1/4 3? cups shredded gruyere cheese
  • 1/4 1/2 cup grated Parmesan Pecorino Romano because Parmesan tastes gross.

We did add in a tablespoon or so of flour after making the cheese sauce because it was just flat out refusing to thicken up. Probably because I used milk instead of all the heavy cream. My bad.

We also decided to bake it off in the oven to make it extra delicious. Jay poured it all into a casserole dish, sprinkled the top with breadcrumbs and a drizzle of olive oil, and put it in a 350°F oven until it was golden-brown and delicious (Time = 1 episode of Bubble Guppies or 20ish minutes)

Voila! Cheesy Bacony goodness!

Voila! Cheesy Bacony goodness!

It was soooo good! Gruyere and bacon were just meant to be together. I mean cheddar is great and all, but but I love all the cheeses and it’s just unfair to leave all the bacon and macaroni to the yellow stuff.

Dinner time!

As you can see, I even pulled out the good china for this dinner. Yep, Dixie’s best.

X ate his whole dinner plus a little more that night. Awesome. Even more awesome was having the leftovers for dinner the next night. While the microwave re-heating did cause the cheese to separate out a little bit, it was still really tasty. All those flavors just got amped up from sitting in the fridge. This will definitely be made again.