February 28, 2011

To "fly" or not to "fly"...

13.1 miles

That is the question I'm posing to myself after this past weekend's training group run. I accomplished my longest run ever, like ever in my life, 7.5 miles. It's been a tough two weekends with the groups runs - 6.8 miles of Cincy hills and 7.5 miles of bridges and downtown streets. Despite my nerves, I made it through both runs and felt pretty strong after Saturday's 7.5 miler. So strong that while enjoying breakfast with my friends, my ears perked up when one of them told me that you can participate in both the Cincinnati Flying Pig 4-person Relay Run and the Half Marathon. So, after some research that's where I am today - seriously considering runing 13.1 miles through downtown Cincy and some of my favorite neighborhoods the first weekend of May.

When I started this running journey less than a year ago, I never thought I'd be thinking of taking on such a chalellenge. Once I finsihed the Thanksgiving Day 10k run, I did feel that one day I want to tackle a half marathon, I just never thought it would be this soon - less than a year after I started running. But my energy is up, the excitement is all around me, and I feel like there's no time like the present. I'm already half way through the training with the group, so if I want to continue running with them on the weekends, then I'll be uping my miles b/c they're all training for the half - so why not just go ahead and do it - check it off my life's to do list. If I do it, the race falls 11 days before my 32nd birthday and what better gift to give myself - pride and accomplishment on completing my first half marathon, sounds like a pretty great b-day gift to me!

Thoughts - advice - words of wisdom - I'm ready to hear it all. Have you done a half marathon? If so, what's something you wish you'd known before your race? Let me hear it blogger friends!

February 23, 2011

Gina's Turkey Chili Taco Soup

I threw together a big pot of this soup on Sunday and it got two thumbs up from our house, so I thought you might enjoy the recipe for your home. This Turkey Chili Taco Soup comes from Gina's Skinny Taste website, which is a new favorite of mine. I did make one change to the recipe below, I cut out the refried beans and used a half can of great northern beans instead of kidney beans. This change clearly indicates that I'm not a bean girl, but it was a huge step for me to use any beans at all, so the smaller white great northern beans are a good choice for me as I try to expand my horizons into the work of legumes!

Here's the recipe:
  • 1.3 lbs 99% lean ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 10 oz can rotel tomatoes with green chilies
  • 15 oz canned or frozen corn, drained
  • 15 oz kidney beans, drained
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 16 oz fat free refried beans
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 2 1/2 cups fat free low sodium chicken broth
In a large pot, brown turkey on medium heat, breaking up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. When cooked through, add onions and pepper and cook 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes, corn, beans, tomato sauce, refried beans, taco seasoning and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and simmer about 10-15 minutes.

Serve with a few baked tortilla chips and your favorite toppings such as low fat sour cream, jalapeƱos, reduced fat cheese, chopped scallions, onions, or chopped fresh cilantro. Freeze leftovers in individual portions for future meals.

I did make some homemade baked tortilla strips for this dish - it was so simple. Take a few flour tortillas and brush each side with some vegetable oil. Stack them and cut them into strips. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes, flipping at the half way point. Just keep your eye on them so they don't burn and they're a great addition to put on this soup with some shredded chedder cheese. Enjoy!

February 21, 2011

A Family is Like a Football Team

Today I'm going to share a post from a new blogger on the blogging scene. Some of you may have noticed I've added a few new sites to the list of websites I often browse. One of those sites, Communicate Support Inspire, is written by my Mom and I thought I'd share one of her recent blog posts that I enjoyed - perhaps you might find these words applying to your family too.

A Family is Like a Football Team

My Mom typed this up for me many years ago, when I was raising three young children. It's been on my refrigerator ever since!

"A family can be a lot like a football team. Everyone has a different assignment, and if one does it well, and works well with everyone else on the team, the family can have a winning season, and some even a championship season."

If you don't learn to cooperate well with each other, everyone else on the team will suffer. A winning season makes everyone happy.

Your folks, and the rest of the family, deserve to be happy. Give each other a chance. You're not going to stop loving each other just because we all have other people in our lives. It doesn't work that way. The members of a football team change every year, but when we all pull together, we can still have that winning season."

As I read this article so many years later, it still rings true to me! Our family has changed a lot! Our kids are grown and gone, living their adult lives; three of our four parents are gone now; and our "football team" is certainly heading into another season of changes! But that doesn't mean we love each other any less. Our "football team" is still playing strong, why, it's even growing - with a daughter and son-in-law now - and we're all still headed for that winning season!

May your "team" always be strong, too --Best always, Carole

February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Whether you love or hate this often called "hallmark" holiday, there are a few fun ideas out there for celebrating the love we share with our friends and family. My favorite way to spend Valentine's Day is cooking dinner and watching a movie with my hubby. We celebrated this past weekend and made JJ's mom's lasagna and watch The Social Network, which was a pretty good movie. Here are a few things I think would make for a fun way to celebrate, if you're into celebrating Valentine's Day:
How about a heart shaped pizza from Papa John's for your sweetie? According to their website, they sold over 60,000 of these during last year's promotion, so Papa is on board again this year to deliver this fun dinner idea. If pizza's not your thing, then what about this...
Take your sweetie out to dinner at White Castle...yep, I said White Castle. Doing this tonight would have required some advanced planning though because believe it or not the restaurant often sells out for available spots for their dinner service on Valentine's Day. For the past 20 years, White Castle staffers have been playing up on the fun and offering up table side service at each booth, which is cover with linen table cloths and adorned with fresh flowers. You must love the sliders to make this your valentine's day choice, but it seems like a fun way to spend the evening. Don't want anything to do with food to display the way you celebrate this day...
Then you can never go wrong with good old fashion flowers! I got this beautiful red rose today when I walked into work. This really made me smile and was a great way to start the day. A very nice co-worker from the morning show shift went out on his lunch break, picked up a bouquet of roses and passed one out to all the ladies to celebrate Valentine's Day - now how cool is that - it certainly lifted many people spirits and got the day started off right in my book!

So, however you celebrate Valentine's Day (or don't celebrate), enjoy today - share a laugh with a friend, tell your loved ones how much they mean to you and pass on some positive energy to others, because it's the cool thing to do!

February 02, 2011

Meatless Meals #2

Guess who went and stole my idea....Oprah...that's right, I said it. "Lady O" owes me some money I tell ya, because it was just two weeks ago that I posted about wanting to start cooking more Meatless Meals for dinner in our house. And wouldn't you know, what was yesterday's Oprah show about - going vegan - and she talked about having Meatless Monday's at her Harpo studios in Chicago. I'm telling you, girrrllllll owes me some money for copyright issues, don'tcha think?!!?

If you didn't see the show and have any interest in this hot button topic, then I highly suggest you check it out. Here's a link to her website with more about the show. There's an interesting segments where correspondent Lisa Ling visits a slaughterhouse. While this segment might be hard for some to watch, it was the first time I recall seeing or hearing about the details on how cows are treated at the feed lots, transferred to slaughterhouses and put through the process of becoming packaged meat.

Now on to another recipe that I whipped up last night. This is what I call cooking without a plan. I pulled out some veggies from the fridge and we had some cooked thin spaghetti noodles. So here's my take on another meatless meal:
Chop up some fresh broccoli, onion, tomatoes and flat leaf parsley. Heat some olive oil in a medium size saute pan and add the broccoli with some garlic. Once that is cooked, set aside and to the same pan add the chopped onion, tomatoes, and parsley. Squeeze some lemon juice over that mixture and saute for a few minutes. If you so desire (which I did), add in a little white wine too. After the onion mixture softens, add the broccoli back into the pan and toss in some cooked spaghetti noodles. I let all this cook together for a few minutes and below is a picture of the finished product. It was pretty good and the lemon juice gave it a very fresh flavor, which made me think that this would be a great meal to eat during the summer months. You could easily add grilled chicken this dish to satisfy the taste buds of the carnivores in your life too. Enjoy - and don't forget to post any meatless meals you and your family enjoy in the comments section - Thanks!