Easter Eats

I didn’t set the kitchen on fire making Easter dinner tonight — a success indeed.

I invited my sister Maggie and her husband Scott over for pork tenderloin. Only problem was, I had never made pork tenderloin before.

So I found a slow cooker recipe (great for a ‘slow’ cook like me). It’s hard to mess up when all you have to do is plop a piece of meat in a pot for 6 hours.

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Photo credit: Mike Martin

I followed this recipe (Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin) and then made some oasted red potatoes and cut up some strawberries. Maggie brought over a delicious green bean casserole.

For dessert, I made chocolate chip cookies. But I WISH I had made this:

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It’s called a pizookie. I had not heard of this until today, while reading another blog. It’s a giant cookie, served slightly undercooked and fresh out of the oven, with vanilla ice cream on top.

I promise, if I am blessed to receive a round baking dish for our wedding, I will make one for everyone who comes over.

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A New Use for Old Bread

Growing up, my favorite breakfast food to order at a restaurant was French Toast. This recipe from Betty Crocker makes it taste just like I remember — thick, sweet and cinnamon-y.

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It’s the perfect way to use bread that’s several days old and not fresh enough for sandwiches. You just dip it in the Bisquick mix, toast it on the stove for a couple minutes, and voila!

I made 10 slices. Mike had three, I had seven. 😀

Chi Town Half Marathon Recap

I think the mac and cheese did the trick for pre-race fuel — I set a new personal record at the Chi Town Half Marathon this morning of 1:38:11.

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I was so nervous for this race, especially when the weather forecast looked so bleak. All day Saturday I was not myself, full of nerves over whether I could still beat 1 hour, 40 minutes in bad conditions.

Luckily, it never snowed and the wind was manageable.

But the magic ingredient that got me to my PR was the pacing teams. I positioned myself right behind Paul, a pacer who was running a 7:38 pace and finishing in 1:40. I knew if I could stay with him, I could pull away in the last mile and break 1:40.

But by mile 4, I had pulled ahead of Paul’s pacing group by about 30 feet, though apprehensively. I felt pretty strong, but worried I was picking up the pace too soon and I’d run out of gas in a few miles.

Then I saw my amazing fiancé and my sister cheering for me! Maggie even made a sign. I tried to look like I was having a grand old time.

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Seeing them gave me a big confidence boost and I decided to keep trucking and trust I had enough endurance to stay ahead of the pacing group.

I remembered what Mike had told me last night. “You’ve done the training. You are capable, you know you can do this.”

We ran into the wind for the next 4 miles. It was the hardest part of the race. I held on, thanks to some Kelly Clarkson tunes and a fellow runner named Ron, who was “taking it easy” for the race and running at about my pace.

I kept him within eyesight and tucked behind him when the wind really picked up. I feared Paul’s pacing group would catch up and pass me, and I’d see my goal time slip away. So I kept pushing.

At Mile 9, we turned back south, running towards the finish with the wind at our back. That made a huge difference. I knew we were getting close.

When I hit mile 12, my time was 1:30, giving me 10 minutes to cover the last mile and still get under 1:40. I saw Mike and Maggie again and gave it everything I had, though it felt like I was moving in slow motion.

Feet across the finish.

BEST FEELING EVER.

And now, I rest.

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Pass the Pasta

Looks like I might be running the Chi Town Half Marathon on Sunday in the snow and wind. Why oh why, Chicago?

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But I can’t stay home. I spent a significant portion of my reporter paycheck on this race — $65.

Plus, I’ve been diligently carbo-loading. (My favorite part of race week.)

For example:

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This is homemade mac-and-cheese I made for dinner tonight. I think I went a little overboard on the portion size.

I found the recipe on Let’s Dish, and it’s so easy and so delicious. The bread crumbs took it to a whole new level. Anyone who likes cheese and pasta and not always eating the healthiest foods must try this.

Here’s hoping it fuels me to that finish line…

Cake Disaster

I had such high hopes for my double-decker funfetti cake. I’d make it just like Mom’s — two perfectly round and risen cakes stacked on top of each other and coated in frosting.

And then this happened.

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The other cake looked slightly better, but not by much. They both got stuck in their pans (even though I greased!). I extracted them and tried to piece them back together, but it was hopeless.

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#tearsinthekitchen #notbettycrocker

But you know, frosting works wonders. I stacked the sad little cakes on top of each other, and used the frosting like glue.

A little lopsided, but she’ll do.

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I made the cake for my roommate Kim’s birthday party, and once I put some candles in it, I don’t think she noticed its flaws.

Plus, she had lots of bigger things going on. Like a HUGE surprise visit from our friend Molly from St. Louis!

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Showered with Love

Last weekend was just magical. Our first bridal shower was about so much more than new kitchen gadgets and table linens. It seemed everyone there — parents, cousins, friends, aunts, uncles, siblings — truly shared in our excitement.

I tried to seal the whole night to memory. The hugs, the faces, the sounds of a house full of people celebrating.

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Don’t get me wrong, we were really excited to receive amazing gifts, like this beautiful serving set from my cousins John and Caroline!

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Each couple asked us a question before we opened their gift.

“How did you meet?” (A combination of Twitter, a massive snowstorm and The Linebacker Lounge)

“When did you know he was The One?” (I really butchered this one because I started to cry about three words into my first sentence)

“What names are you planning for your kids?” (Yikes!)

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I hope experiences like Saturday night stay in our memory for many years ahead, as we face life side by side.

With all that support, I know we can handle whatever lies ahead of us.

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What really makes a wedding ‘perfect’

“If you’re planning your wedding right now, please just close the magazine. Log out of Pinterest. And look at the person you want to grow old with. Remind yourself of why you’re doing this. And really CELEBRATE when that day comes. Don’t stress about your shoes or your cake or your flowers. Don’t stress about anything. When it’s all over, you will be married, and surrounded by the people who know you and love you most in the whole wide world.

I promise: that is the Perfect Wedding.

— Anna Almasy, award-winning wedding photographer. Read her full post on what really matters at your wedding here.

 

Treadmill Brain

imageTonight I ran 10 miles on the treadmill (half-marathon is in three weeks!) They say running indoors requires “mental toughness,” but here’s how my brain handled it:

Mile 1: I’ll start nice and slow, no reason to make this harder than it needs to be. Maybe I’ll just do two miles instead of 10.

Mile 2: Legs feel OK. This isn’t so bad. Get in cruise control mode and find something to watch on TV.

Mile 3: But I never feel like I’m in cruise control and there’s nothing to watch on television. Why is that guy on the treadmill in front of me being such a show-off on level 11? #annoying

Mile 4: Time for water. Grab bottle. Spill all over myself trying to run and drink at the same time. I think I cut my lip on the lid, is it bleeding?

Mile 5: halfway there MK. Blast some Kesha and run like you’re going to die young.

Mile 6: Finally something decent to watch, Access Hollywood examining Justin Bieber’s birthday celebrations.

Mile 7: my feet hurt and I’m bored. At least Mr. Show-Off gave up on trying to qualify for the Olympics on his treadmill.

Mile 8: I wonder how many dumplings are left in the freezer. I think there’s a frozen pizza in there too. Dinner dinner dinner.

Mile 9: I hope Larry isn’t peeing in his crate right now because I’m taking forever to get home.

Mile 10: holy moly I made it to 10. Where’s the applause? And why on earth did I just do this?