Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Crave Wednesday: Parmesan Crusted Zucchini Fries

There was only one thing left to do to prepare for Halloween, and we had purposely saved it until last -pumpkin carving!

One year we made the mistake of doing this too early and it resulted in moldy, decomposing jack o'lanterns by the time Halloween rolled around.  Which might be the look you're going for, but it's not for us.  So we save it for the weekend before.

Trash bags taped to the floor, Nightmare Before Christmas on television, we were ready to go.

Thatkid has never been a fan of the scooping out of the pumpkins, but my Oppo-baby couldn't wait to get in there and clean his out.

Both kids got a little carving help from us, but they were the creative directors and project managers.  Thatkid wanted a Frankenstein monster.

Thatbaby wanted a "pumpkin patch" face with a grumpy mouth.  And he added his own special touch by coloring it after.

Thatboy and I waited until the kids went to bed to carve ours.

But there's more! We had such a good time at the pumpkin carving contest last year that we did it again this year. 

Once again we let the kids control the design and Thatkid wanted something related to Dia de los Muertos.  He decided on a skeleton horse.

This year we convinced our friends to join us, and they also put the kid in charge of design.  Their finished spider!

Last year there were very few entries and we made it into the top 6.  This year? There were a lot more pumpkins.

Our little horse, all lit up.

I was pretty surprised when we made it into the top 3.  And when they announced the winners, I was sure we came in third, but nope.  We won first prize!

It was a great start to our Halloween-ing.  And it made me so happy.  I love pumpkins so much.  Even now that Halloween is over, we've got pumpkins on our stoops.  And I have a mini pumpkin farm as our table centerpiece.  But it's really not just pumpkins,  I have a thing for squash.  I may not use all varieties for decorating, but I'm always happy to consume them.  This week's meal plan alone includes pumpkin french toast, butternut squash salad, and parmesean crusted zucchini fries.  It's one of those foods that's filling, tasty, and feels healthy.  Even when you coat it in cheese and bake it until it's crisp!

Parmesan Crusted Zucchini Fries (from Cooking Light)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup panko
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp basil
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 small zucchini
1/2 cup tomato basil sauce

  1. Preheat oven to 450. Combine Cheese, panko, garlic powder, basil, and cayenne in a shallow bowl.
  2. Place egg in a separate shallow bowl.
  3. Trim ends from zucchini and cut in half crosswise.  Quarter each zucchini in half lengthwise to make 24 zucchini sticks.
  4. Dip zucchini in egg, dredge in panko mixture, pressing to coat.
  5. Place zucchini on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Coat tops of zucchini with cooking spray.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Serve with pasta sauce.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Sunday Runday: Vista Beer Half Marathon

When I first heard of the Vista Beer Half Marathon I was intrigued. I like beer, Vista isn't too far away, and there's something fun about inaugural halfs.  After the Vista Strawberry Run I was sold.  The race was so well run, and the beer garden at the end was the best I'd ever been to.  I figured the half would be the same, but bigger!

Now, the thing about inaugural races is they usually are a bit of a mess. A lot of logistics to work out, so expectations on the part of the runners needs to be low.  And with that in mind, I'm going to keep this review as constructive as possible, because although the race was a disaster, I think it has promise.

Before the race began, the first signs of trouble began.  There was no information anywhere about hydration, which is worrisome on it's own, but even moreso given the fact the race was taking place during a serious heat wave. I logged onto the event's facebook page where there were several questions regarding whether there would be water stops along the route, with no answer.  The morning of the race I packed as much as I could carry on me comfortably, unsure as to whether anything was going to be provided.

The morning of the race is also where I picked up my bib and hoodie.  One of the perks people were excited about with this race was the promise of a hoodie.  Most races give t-shirts, but few give sweatshirts and they are in high demand.  Except "hoodie" didn't take on its usual meeting and in this case just meant a t-shirt with a hood.  Which further solidified my belief that you should run races for the race, not the stuff you're going to get.

So let's talk about the race.  It was a small and informal start line. Although not as small as the planners anticipated given that there were only 3 portapotties.  Right before we started, it was announced that the medals hadn't made it on time.  We were really running this one for the glory.  This race was almost the opposite of the Strawberry Run, which meant that trail I loved at the end of the 10k was where we started with this race.

My gps alerted me that I had run a mile just a smidge before the first mile marker.  Which isn't all that strange or unusual, but it ended up being a big deal as those little bits continued to add up until I was almost a full mile ahead.

It's probably not good from a psychological standpoint, but I had pretty much decided this was going to be a miserable half for me. The course was hard.  Both the Craft Classic half marathon and the Vista Beer  half marathon had courses that ran by local breweries, and there must be some correlation between hills and hops, because both courses are incredibly hilly.   I knew that going in, and just figured I'd sit back and run it, without worrying about time.  Especially since my training was ridiculously subpar.

At mile 9, the impact of the hills became evident when my IT band decided it was done.  This was especially bad because although my tracker had me at 9 miles, I had just passed the 8 mile marker. Which meant I had 5 more miles to go.  I'd been keeping a fairly consistent pace, but I dropped it down.  I told myself if I could make it to 13 miles, I'd walk that last mile in.

But with all the hills, I ended up walking a lot more than just the last mile.   Especially the long hill down to the trail, which I had to walk down backwards.

Right before the finish, Thatkid was waiting for me, he ran me in, joined shortly after by Thatbaby.  We crossed the finish and I headed right to the medic tent, who told me there was nothing they could do or give me to help with my injury. 

So I headed to the beer.

The beer was one of my main draws for this race.  I was a little disappointed that only 5 breweries were present when there were so many more at the Strawberry Run, which wasn't beer themed. But I was excited that they were giving us a wristband which would allow us a taster from each brewery.  Except the organizers had vastly underestimated the amount of beer drinkers and the breweries did not bring enough beer.  By the time I got to the tents, only 2 of the 5 breweries still had any beer!

I wasn't terribly disappointed by the misleading "hoodie" or lack of medal, but after running a  long hard course, on a race centered around beer, I was frustrated by the lack of medical assistance and beer! The good news is, most of my complaints about the race are easy fixes (minus the challenging course, but really, I'm not complaining about that, I knew about it going in!) so hopefully next year's race will have all the kinks ironed out!

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Crave Wednesday: Grilled Stuffed Jalapenos

I hope you all had a great Halloween, I know we did.  But really, we've been celebrating all month.  I think we got more use out of our costumes this year than any year prior.

We started out with our annual trip to Legoland for Brick or Treat.  This year Thatbaby wanted to be a kitty cat.  So I got him a cat costume. Then he wanted to be superman, then ironman, then a host of other things.  I finally convinced him to wear his car costume if I dressed up like a cat too.


Thatkid was easier this year.  He wanted to be a vampire for a while, and didn't change his mind.

And Thatboy was very eager to join him in the costume theme.

We also met up with the Ks who joined us in the costume contest!

The next weekend we tried  a new experience - The Haunted Aquarium!

It wasn't really haunted.  Just filled with fun Halloween activities.

Like the slime lab, where Thatkid made his own slime while Thatbaby felt all the slimey things.

There were Halloween decorations galore.

Even in the tanks!

There were also stations throughout to learn about various ocean animals and phenomena, like squid or bioflouresence.

For Thatbaby the highlight was the band. He spent a lot of the evening singing and boogie-ing down.

And interviewing his family members about their costumes.

It was another great Halloween adventure.  We have been less adventurous with food lately.  Maybe it's like that saying "lucky in life, unlucky in cards," if you're getting your adventures in outside the kitchen, you won't be getting them in the kitchen?  These adventures have us eating out more than we usually do.  Which usually involves foods I don't make at home often, or ever.  But that doesn't have to be the case.  Like the night we grabbed dinner and ended up making a meal of  jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese and bacon, drizzled with a bourbon maple reduction. I never make stuffed jalapenos at home.  But I was inspired. These grilled jalapenos aren't as unhealthy as the fried variety, and possibly more flavorful.  In addition to the cream cheese and bacon, these also have cheddar, making then extra cheesy.  Meal worthy.  An adventure.

Grilled Stuffed Jalapenos (from Cooking Light)
2 center cut bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup fat free cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup minced green onions
juice of 1/2 lime
1 garlic clove, minced
14 jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp chopped tomatoes

  1. Preheat grill. Combine bacon, cheese, green onions, lime juice, garlic, and salt to taste.
  2. Divide cheese mixture among pepper halves.  Place peppers on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Cover and grill 8 minutes or until bottoms of peppers are charred and cheese mixture is lightly browned.
  3. Place on a serving tray and sprinkle with cilantro and tomato.