Saturday, October 29, 2011

Glass Jars-My latest obsession

Over the past few months, I've been checking out every TJ Maxx and Home Goods  store I see to search for these glass jars.  I love the way they look and I'm not crazy about keeping food in plastic containers.  My "set" certainly is not all matchy-matchy but I love them anyways.  I use them for my baking staples (flours, sugar, chocolate chips), in my pantry and in my fridge...they are so versatile!  I started with one or two and, as you can see, my collection has grown!  What are your kitchen must-haves?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Father and Son complete Iron Man

Have you seen this video?  A father and son complete the Ironman, it is truly amazing and so inspiring and is worth a few minutes to watch!  

A Son asked his father, "Dad, will you take part in a marathon with me?" The father who, despite having a heart condition, says "Yes". They went on to complete the marathon together. Father and son went on to join other marathons. The father always saying "Yes" to his son's request of going through the race together. One day, the son asked his fater, "Dad, let's join the Ironman together."

To which, his father said "Yes".

For those who don't know, Ironman is the toughest triathlon ever. The race encompasses three endurance events of a 2.4 mile (3.86 kilometer) ocean swim, followed by a 112 mile (180.2 kilometer) bike ride and ending with a 26.2 mile (42.195 kilometer) marathon along the coast of the Big Island.

Father and son went on to complete the race together!

Thanks Brittany for sharing!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

ipad Cover-Take 2

A few months ago, I made an ipad cover for my Mom, you can check that one out here.  She loved it but wanted one that she could use WITH the screen cover on it.  The green one provided a snug fit and left now room for the screen cover. It's taken me a while but I've finally had the time to make another one for her.  (I apologize for the wonky photos, my camera wasn't available so I used my new iphone....clearly, I have a lot to learn about taking photos with it!)

I didn't use a pattern and just used our ipad as the template.  One of Mom's favorite colors is purple so when I saw this fabric, I thought she would love it.  I added a ruched section in the middle for a fun detail.  I used fusible fleece to give it some padding and a soft purple flannel for the interior.

Front cover, work in progress
Closure detail, button and elastic loop
Final product, our ipad and cover!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Race Recap-Columbus Marathon and 1/2 Marathon

  Last Sunday, Chris and I both participated in a local event, the Nationwide Columbus Marathon and 1/2 Marathon!  I'm asked Chris to give his perspective on running the full but wanted to just post a quick update.  You can read about his decision to run this race here, which I think he was regretting when I caught up with him at mile 20. 

I thought the weather was perfect for the race, cool (about 50 degrees) and cloudy.  We started in the middle of the pack due to our estimated times and we ran together for the first 1/2 mile or so  (I knew ahead of time that Chris didn't want to stick with me until the finish line for the half, something about me messing up his pacing...) and then we each got into our own groove.  I've done this race a couple of other years and the biggest notice for me is how much its grown, I've never seen the course so full of participants.  I think it's great that the community is embracing the event and getting fit but from a selfish perspective, I liked it better with fewer runners.  The course was so full around mile 3 that I almost stepped on a dead squirrel that I couldn't see due to the runners in front of me...that would have been so gross.

Sonya's Time- 1/2 Marathon with 2:05:49 for an overall pace of 9:36 per mile.

Chris' Time- Marathon with 4:48:57 for an overall pace of 11:02 per mile.

Chris and I, after the race
Our fan club, Mom and Dad K.
BIG thanks to Mom and Dad K. for all of their support (driving us around, cheering for us and the kind words)

Recovery time with the puppies

Browned Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Butter Cream Frosting

Over the weekend, Chris and I attended our 10 year class reunion.  We were only able to stay for a few hours  because of the marathon the next morning but had so much fun catching up with our classmates and seeing what everyone is up to these days.  I decided to make something that was perfect for fall and these cupcakes where the perfect treat.  Here's the original recipe, check out the beautiful photos!  

Yield:  About 25 cupcakes
3/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. allspice
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream

  • If making pumpkin puree (remember that pumpkin I got at the farmers market with the butternut squash and apples??), split sugar pumpkin and remove seeds.  Place halves on baking sheet and cover with foil.  Cook at 350 for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until tender.  Scrape pumpkin out of skin and puree.  I added a bit of water to thin it out.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake tins with papers.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns golden brown. Pour the browned butter into a small bowl and let stand until cool but not solidified.  I didn't have that kind of time and put mine in the freezer to chill for a few minutes.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt and allspice.  Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk 1 ½ cups of pumpkin puree with the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and sour cream until well combined.  Stir in the flour mixture until just combined.  Whisk in the browned butter until well blended.
  • Divide batter between cupcake liners.  Fill them about half full.
  • Bake cupcakes for 20-25 minutes, or until they spring back when pressed in the middle.

Cinnamon Frosting:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • In a medium saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and heavy cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 20 minutes.
  • Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. (NOTE: Do not leave unattended like I WILL end up with butter cream frosting whipping out of the bowl and all over your kitchen...I speak from experience.)  Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; beat until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and cinnamon and continue mixing until combined.
See the white specs, that's frosting...ALL OVER THE KITCHEN!
These are a perfect fall treat, give them a try!  (and the frosting is AMAZING!)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A look back...

Tomorrow, Chris and I are both participating in the 32nd Anniversary Nationwide Insurance Columbus Marathon and 1/2 Marathon!  He's doing the full (!!!) and I'm doing the 1/2.  You can read about Chris' decision to run the full marathon here.  The last time I ran this race was in 2009 and my time was 2 Hours, 3 minutes and 10 seconds.  Not sure if I'll beat that time but I know that I'll enjoy the race :)  Since we are now really close to the race, I thought I would share some photos of other races we've completed, in no particular order:

Brittany and Sonya, Sprint Tri 2010

Kelly and Sonya, Columbus Marathon 2007

Sonya, Brittany and Chris, CBus 10 Miler April 2011

My friend Kelly, Virginia Beach 1/2M (we ran it together in 2008)
Chris and I cheering Kelly on :)
Sonya, 1/2 Marathon 2007 while training for the full M
Erica, Lea and Sonya, Myrtle Beach 1/2M (Erica did the full)

I've really enjoyed all of these races (well Virgina Beach can be really a HOT race but good friends make up for it) and the memories I've made with friends and family :)  We've made several of these races mini-vacations with friends which as been so fun!

And who could forget the Ruckus Run that ended with a broken hand?!?! July 2011
I often get the question "Why do I run" and honestly, I used to hate running.  But once I started running consistently after college and got into a routine, I loved it.  I usually run early in the mornings (5 or 6am) and love the quiet peaceful time to myself before the world wakes up.  I use my running time as time to pray, mediate, be grateful for all the blessings in my life, plan my day, work through problems, ect.  All in all, for me, it's great thinking time!  After the race is done, I'm sure I'll move to some different activities for a while (yoga and spinning) but I know that eventually I'll come back to running.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cream Cheese Apple Pie With Oatmeal Pecan Stresuel Topping

A few weeks ago, Chris and I stopped at a farmers market to pick up a few things (so far I've made butternut squash risotto and have plans for the pumpkin and acorn squash):

  In addition to getting these fall treats, I also bought a bag of locally grown Jonathan apples for snacking and for pie making.


I made this pie for a dinner with family this weekend and oh my goodness, it was really yummy.  It's a cross between cheese cake and apple pie, delicious!

From the kitchen of Kim Landhuis of DeWitt, Michigan  1st Place in 2010 Michigan’s Best Apple Pie Contest.  Find her recipe here.

Pie crust (I used store-bought that you roll into the pie pan)

4 large apples, peeled and sliced (I used Jonathan)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (reserve 6 tablespoons)
4 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened (I used reduced fat)
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla

½ cup unbleached flour
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup oatmeal
¾ cup chopped pecans
½ cup (1 stick) hard butter

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Place crust onto a 9-inch pie pan.  Flute the edge.  Use a fork to prick crust before baking for 12 minutes.  Remove and place on rack.  Reduce oven to 375 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, over medium heat, stir and cook apple, sugar, melted butter, flour and cinnamon for 15 minutes (IMPORTANT, continue to stir the mixture.  I didn't and we had some burnt apples that I had to separate out).  Spoon mixture over pie crust.

Beat cream cheese, the remaining sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth and pour on top of apples.  Fold the cream cheese into apple mixture.  Bake for 25 minutes or until filling is set.  Cover the edge with aluminum foil.

Meanwhile, mix flour, brown sugar, oatmeal and pecans together.  Cut butter in dry mixture into pea-size morsels.  Sprinkle this mixture on cream cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes more or until golden brown.  Remove the foil the last 5 minutes of baking.  Cool completely on wire rack and then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Raspberry Truffle Brownies

My sister-in-law Danielle loves all things chocolate and raspberry so when I was doing a little blog reading and came across this recipe, I knew I HAD to share it with her :)  Danielle is currently 30 weeks pregnant with the first babies in the family (that's right, babies, as in twins!) and is currently enjoying life from her sofa (due to doctor's orders, aka, bed rest).  Since she's not able to be up and about in the kitchen, I decided to make them for her and, to be honest, I wanted one of these brownies.  I had a few recipe modifications (mainly because I was reading the recipe on my phone while shopping for ingredients and read a few things wrong on the tiny screen...oops!)  These brownies are super chocolaty and really rich and delicious...a must try.
 Don't these look amazing!?!?!
 Close up of the raspberries that were pressed into the brownie batter

If you want step by step photos, check out the original recipe here!

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Ghiradelli Dark and Raspberry Filled Bars (3.5oz each)
1 cup fresh raspberries
Raspberry Ice Cream-I used a black raspberry chocolate chip, it's what my store had available. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease 9x13" pan.

In a medium saucepan melt the butter over low-medium heat. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat and stir until the mixture is smooth and shiny, a minute or so. Transfer the sugar mixture to a mixing bowl. Stir in the cocoa, baking powder, salt, and vanilla extract.

Add in the eggs and stir until smooth. Add the flour and stir until flour disappears.

Spoon the 1/2 batter into prepared pan.  Break chocolate bars into squares and place evenly on batter.  Then cover with remaining brownie batter (the batter was thick so I used a spoon to dollop onto the chocolate squares and spread to cover).  Place raspberries on top of the brownie batter, gently pressing into batter.

Bake the brownies for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and cool.

Serve with ice cream and enjoy :)  All in all, this brownie recipe is amazing and I can think of many flavor combos that could be created using the Ghiradelli bars (chocolate mint combo with mint ice cream, yes please!)  If you try any flavor combination's, let me know how they turn out! 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Butternut Squash Risotto

A few weeks ago, Chris and I had dinner out at one of our local favorites, Marcella's, to celebrate his sister Brittany's birthday.  We both ordered a variety of risotto and mine was better (really it was, we both agreed.)  So as I was out on my 11 mile run yesterday (1/2 marathon in less than 2 weeks!) I kept thinking about the butternut squash risotto I ordered and decided to try making it at home.  I found a recipe online and here is my slightly edited version:

2 cups cubed butternut squash (peel squash to start)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, minced
1 cup  rice
4 cups hot chicken stock
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Place squash cubes into a saucepan. Add water, cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until tender, then drain, and mash in a bowl with a fork.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook and stir for 2 minutes until the onion begins to soften, then stir in the rice.

Continue cooking and stirring until the rice is glossy from the butter, and the onion begins to brown on the edges, about 5 minutes more.

Pour in 1/3 cup stock (the recipe called for white wine, we didn't have any); cook, stirring constantly, until it has evaporated. 

Stir in the mashed squash and 1/3 of the hot chicken stock; reduce heat to medium. Cook and stir until the chicken stock has been absorbed by the rice, 5 to 7 minutes. 

Add half of the remaining chicken stock, and continue stirring until it has been absorbed. Finally, pour in the remaining stock, and continue stirring until the risotto is creamy (and I apologize poor photo quality, I know but there was steam).

Finish by stirring in the Parmesan cheese, and seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.  

We served the risotto with Tilapia fillets:

 Risotto isn't nearly as scary to make as I thought it was  I will be on the lookout for more variations in the future.  Let me know if you have any recipes to try!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Crock Pot Chicken Burritos

We use the crock pot about once a week here when I'm in classes, it's so nice to come home to dinner that's basically made itself.  I found a recipe last week that was super simple and had to give it a try.  I'll tell you what I added but I think the recipe can be made with whatever you've got on hand and will still be delicious.

I started by adding diced banana peppers (3) and green peppers (2) from our garden, frozen chicken breast (4), salsa (1 quart) that my parents and I canned last year, and a diced onion (1) to the crock pot around 7:30am on low: 

 And it looked like this:

And around noon we added frozen corn (2 cups), black beans (2 cans), precooked rice (1 cup that I had in the freezer):

Around 5pm, I pulled out the chicken breast and shredded them and then tossed them back in.  Then I seasoned to taste with salt, pepper and a dash of chili powder and cumin.  We decided it looked like an awesome nacho topping so that's what we had for dinner, yum! 

This "recipe" made A LOT of filling so we also had it in wraps this week and I've got a couple of pans of burritos in the freezer for future meals.  Let me know if you come up with any tasty alternatives and enjoy!

Taco Seasoning

Here's an easy (and delicious) recipe for homemade taco seasoning that Chris found here.  It's a great way to control the sodium content in our meals!  

Mix together:

1 T Chili Powder
1 t Cumin
1/4 t Onion Powder
1/4 t Garlic Powder
1/2 t Oragano
1/2 t Paprika
1 t Salt
1/2 t Pepper

This recipe makes enough for 1 pound of meat.  Let me know what you think!