Saturday, September 29, 2012

Amica 19.7 Boston

Location: Carver, MA
Distance: Sprint (.5mi s, 16.1mi b, 3.1mi r)
Time: 7:30am
Weather: 55deg, sunny
Total Participants: 104

Alternate Title: The race that almost didn't happen. I don't think I could've scripted it any better- a turnaround due to forgotten sunglasses, almost running out of gas, driving around the park looking for the start/parking... there were definitely a few moments that I didn't think we'd make it to the race!

Things were a blur as we picked up our packets, navigated the parking lot, got our bikes and set up in transition.  I was on auto-pilot, grabbing only the important stuff out of my bag.  I don't really know how it all happened in time, but we made it down to the water just as they were about to sing the national anthem.

I was glad to put on my wetsuit with the morning chill still in the air.  With such a small race, there were just two waves- the men went off first, and then the women.  After the men were in the water, I was glad to put my feet in the warm water and thought that this would be the warmest I'd be all day!  The swim was marked with one buoy on the way out and one for the turnaround, so a slight triangle.  I was a little bit off course on the way out, but think I held a good line on the way back despite the blinding sun.  Out of the water in 13:20, I got an extra boost seeing my parents who had made the trip to watch!

I debated adding another layer before heading out on the bike, but decided against it and was glad for the sun.  My feet got a little chilly towards the second half of the ride, but luckily they didn't go numb.  I spent some time leapfrogging with a few other ladies, and had some trouble with my rear derailer (derailleur?), but I felt pretty good for the ride.

The bike course stayed entirely within Myles Standish State Forest, including its rolling hills and imperfectly paved roads.  It's a good thing we weren't dealing with traffic; the sides of the roads were sandy and a little beat up.  There weren't any huge climbs, but there wasn't much flat road either.  At least it kept it interesting ;)  A solid ride at 54:28 (~18mph), I was ready to run!

Up we go!

As with the bike course, the run through the park took us up and over some rolling hills.  It starts right out of transition- you head right up a nice hill.  My lungs hadn't adjusted to the cooler temperatures yet, so I struggling a bit with my breathing but tried to focus on keeping my legs moving.  I ended up passing the few women who I had juggled position with on the bike, and before I knew it I was flying down that same hill we started out on.  Yes, it felt that fast, I was a little worried at one point I wasn't going to keep up with my legs :-P

Finishing strong!

I crossed the finish line feeling strong and very pleased with my performance.  A little cheering and some food later, I checked out the official times and after double and triple checking, realized that I was first in my AG!  (Ok, second.  But the woman who finished ahead of me was a pro who won the whole race...  so she doesn't count, right?  sort of!).

Clock Time: 1:37:59
AG 2/10
Overall 40/101

Thanks Mom (and Dad)!

As with the other Amica 19.7 race I've done, it's very well organized and marked (minus the whole finding the start once you get into the park) and the volunteers were great.

Couldn't have asked for a better end to the season :)  Having the people who mean so much to me there was the icing on the cake.  Until next year...

ps- thanks to kelly (a local triathlete who was spectating for some of the pictures above)!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Apple BBQ Sauce

When the nights start getting a bit cooler and I start reaching for a jacket in the morning as I leave for work, I usually get really excited.  Fall is one of my favorites, with the milder temperatures, changing colors on the trees...  and apples!  This year I've been a bit hesitant to embrace fall, holding the last of the peaches, tomatoes and corn tight.  Until now.

Thanks to Natasha & Laz, apples are the star of this month's makeover!  As I slowly came around to fall produce and started consuming honeycrisps daily, I started thinking about the challenge.  And thinking.  And drawing blanks.  While I do like to mix things up when it comes to apples, they're usually baked.  Exhibit A: an apple pie with a rosemary crust & gruyere crumble and Exhibit B: an apple pie with a gingersnap crust and bacon crumble.  Even this chilled apple soup is not to be missed.  This time I went savory.

apple bbq sauce, herbed turkey meatballs, cheddar

This time, I made an apple BBQ sauce to accompany some herbed turkey meatballs.  The results were pretty fantastic, and I can't wait to use my leftover sauce!

Apple BBQ Sauce
adapted from the Leftover Queen & Food In My Beard
Yield:  ~2c

1T extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced/pressed
3 apples, peeled, cored & roughly chopped (I used 2 cortland and 1 granny smith)
4 roma tomatoes, cored & diced
1/4c maple syrup
1/4c molasses
1/4c + 1T cider vinegar
2T lemon juice
2T ketchup
1T tomato paste
1T worcestershire sauce
1 chipotle in adobo
1/2t salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1t coriander
2t cumin
1t smoked paprika
1t mustard powder

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add onions and saute a few minutes, until they become translucent.  Add the garlic and apples, and stir well.  Continue to cook over medium heat ~5min.  Add the remaining ingredients, stir well and cover.  Simmer for 20-30min, until apples have softened and flavors have had time to marry.  Carefully transfer to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth (could also use a hand blender).  Taste and adjust seasonings, perhaps it might need a little more salt, a kick of some hot sauce, or a little more acid/sugar.

I served this with herbed turkey meatballs and a slice of cheddar, but it would also be fantastic on some pork.

How would you use this apple BBQ sauce?  I have 1c left and need some more ideas!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Peach Shortcake

Would you guys like to join a party today?  What are we celebrating?  Well, Megan of Delicious Dishings is getting married!  That sounds like quite a good reason to celebrate, don't you think?  Jen had the foresight to organize a virtual bridal shower for her, so we have quite the lineup of desserts for the occasion!

I went seasonal with my contribution, a brown sugar shortcake with bourbon peaches and coconut whipped cream.  Or peach shortcake.  No matter how long (or short) the name, this is a great way to enjoy fresh peaches :)  Bourbon and peaches are a natural pairing... kinda like Megan and Jeff!

Brown Sugar Shortcake w/Bourbon Peaches and Coconut Whipped Cream
adapted from the NYTimes
Serves 6-8

A few things to make this go smoothly:  refrigerate the coconut milk at least overnight to help separate the coconut cream.  The peaches can either be prepared ahead (just warm before serving), or while the shortcake is baking.

For the shortcake:
230g flour (I've used white whole wheat or a mix of white whole wheat, cake and oat)
55g dark brown sugar
15g arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
15g baking powder
5g fine sea salt
3.5oz (100g) cold coconut spread (or 7T butter)
1/2c coconut milk (or buttermilk or heavy cream)
1 egg, well beaten

For the peaches:
1T water
3T bourbon (I used some infused with vanilla beans)
25g dark brown sugar
4c sliced peaches (~1 1/2lbs)

For the whipped cream:
2 cans full fat coconut milk
3t evaporated cane juice (or granulated sugar)
1t vanilla extract
pinch of fine sea salt

Preheat the oven to 375deg.  Place a mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer.

In a medium bowl, weigh out flour, sugar, arrowroot, baking powder, sea salt and ground flaxseed* if using.  Mix well, then cut in cold fat (coconut spread or butter) using your fingers, 2 knives, or a pastry cutter.  When the mixture resembles pebbles, add in 2T milk and egg and mix until a soft batter forms.  If the mixture is still pretty dry, add a little more milk until you get a soft batter.

On a lightly floured surface, knead dough a few times until it holds together (I may or may not have done this right in the bowl...).  Divide into two pieces- one a little larger than the other.  Starting with the larger piece, flatten the dough to a 1/2" thick round and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet (I use a baking stone).  Flatten the smaller piece of dough into a smaller 1/2" thick round and place on top of the larger one.  Bake in a preheated oven for 15-20min, or until the shortcake is starting to brown.

While the shortcake is baking, prepare the peaches and whipped cream.  Place a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add water, bourbon and sugar and cook until sugar dissolves.  Stir the mixture and add the peaches.  Gently stir the mixture and cook a few minutes until the peaches have warmed through and released some juice.  Turn off the heat.

Remove the bowl/beaters from the freezer and coconut milk from the fridge.  Carefully open the coconut milk and remove the solidified cream at the top of both cans into the cold bowl, being careful not to get any of the liquid below.  Add the sugar, vanilla and salt and beat on low speed until bubbles start to form, ~30sec.  Increase the speed and beat until the cream thickens and soft peaks form, ~2min.  Refrigerate until the shortcake is cooked.

To assemble, cut off the top of the shortcake (made from the smaller portion of dough) using a serrated knife.  Top with peaches and their juices, followed by the coconut cream and then the smaller circle of shortcake.  Serve with bourbon, if desired, or perhaps a cold glass of milk.

Check out the rest of the goodies at the shower here!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Stuffed Poblanos

I love grocery shopping in with a car.  Hopefully I'll never carry another watermelon [and got knows what else] 10 blocks back to my apartment.  (Happened more than once in Philly)

This meal was inspired by a recent trip to my new farmers market, where we picked up some delicious corn, poblanos and grass fed beef, to go along with 20lbs of field tomatoes.  After cooking up a double batch of tomato jam (which is now award-winning!), I got to work on these peppers.  The filling is deliciously spiced with a little heat from the poblanos...  a phenomenal dinner, especially when paired with some tomato crisp.

Stuffed Poblanos
adapted from Choosy Beggars
Serves 6

1T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 sweet or red onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1lb grass-fed ground beef
1 1/2T tomato paste
1t chili powder
3/4t cumin powder
1T dried mexican oregano
dash of dried cinnamon (mine was no more than 1/8t)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 ears of corn, kernels removed
~4oz farmers cheese (Cotija, queso fresco, or even goat cheese would work)
6 poblano peppers
1/2c shredded Cheddar or Jack cheese for topping, if desired (I was out)

Preheat the oven to 425deg.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until translucent, but not browning.  Stir in the garlic and cook for a minute or two, until fragrant.  Crumble in the ground beef and use a spatula to break up the meat as it cooks.  Once everything is nicely browned, you might need to drain off some fat.  Add in tomato paste and spices, stir until well coated.  If the cheese you are using is salty, be sure to use a light hand when seasoning the beef here- you can add more later if you need!  Mix well and let the beef mingle with the spices for a few minutes.  Add the corn and cook 3-4 min.  Remove from the heat and transfer mixture to a large bowl.  Crumble in the cheese and stir to combine.

Prepare your peppers for stuffing by cutting them to a 'T'.  Cut along the top stem-end of the pepper about halfway around.  From the center of that, cut down the length of a pepper.  Carve out the seeds with a knife or spoon.  Stuff the meat mixture into the peppers and transfer them to baking pan or casserole dish.  Bake for ~20min, until they're blistered and soft.  If you'd like, you can top them off with a bit more cheese- just sprinkle them with cheddar/jack and return to the oven for another few minutes, until cheese has melted.

What would you have made with poblanos, corn and ground beef?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tomato Crisp

Earlier this summer I happened upon a grow box full of basil, thyme, parsley, arugula and a solitary tomato plant.  Its previous home in lab left a bit to be desired and I didn't expect too much when I brought it to my apartment.

Little did I know...

that all it needed was to be outside!  It has been going gangbusters since, the arugula flourished, and the basil and thyme have continued to be strong producers.  The tomato plant has now survived two moves and I have my mom was nice enough to jerry-rig some supports for the towering plant.

This dish has been on my mind since last summer, and I knew that once I had enough of my tomatoes I was going to make it!!  A week's worth of collecting tomatoes from the plant, plus some golden cherry tomatoes from the farmers market for a little variety, and you've got yourself a winning side dish folks.

Tomato Crisp
adapted from Joanne & Martha
serves 6

While the tomatoes are definitely a little sweet, the acidity of the grape tomatoes here helps keep in on the savory side.  The parmesan and olive oil in the crisp topping help add a savory note as well.

For the filling:
1T extra virgin olive oil
1T unsalted butter
2 small yellow onions (I used 1 yellow & 1 sweet), thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1t chopped fresh thyme
2 1/4lb cherry tomatoes
2 1/4T white whole wheat flour (or AP)
1/4t red pepper flakes
1t kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

For the crisp topping:
3/4c whole wheat panko breadcrumbs (could use fresh)
3/4c rolled oats
1/4c chopped walnuts (or any other nut)
1/4-1/2c finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
1T melted butter
2T extra virgin olive oil

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and butter.  Once melted, add the onions and stir to coat.  After cooking 2-3min, lower the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are nicely caramelized.  Add in the garlic and thyme and cook until another minute or two, until fragrant.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 and spray a 9" square baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes with the flour, spices and cooled caramelized onions.  Pour into the prepared baking dish.

In a smaller bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, oats, walnuts and cheese.  Add a dash of salt (kept it light-handed due to the cheese) and a few grinds of black pepper and mix well.  Pour in melted butter and olive oil and mix until well combined.  If the mixture looks too dry, add a little more olive oil.  Sprinkle the topping mixture on top of the tomatoes and bake in a preheated oven for 45-50min, until it is nice and bubbly and the topping has started to brown.  Serve warm or room temperature.

Seriously, don't you want to dig right in?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Cranberry Olympic 2012

Location:  Lakeville, MA
Distance:  Olympic (.9mi s, 26.2mi b, 6.2mi r)
Time:  Scheduled at 8, delayed due to fog
Weather:  cool in the early morning, mid-hi 70s during the race
Total participants:  643

I hope you forgive me for back-to-back race reports for races that were almost two months apart ;)  The summer's been a bit crazy, and I'm not even sure how it's September!  Fewer pictures here, as I went down to the race myself.  I did have a few friends racing/cheering that day, so it was fun to spot them a couple of times along the course!

Going off in the third wave meant I didn't have too much time to wait once the fog had lifted. The wave was quite sizable, so I stayed towards the front as we entered the water so as not to get stuck like last time.  Lots of hands and feet for pretty much the whole swim, I even swam over someone for the first time!  (Just her legs- I'm guessing one of us was going in the wrong direction...)  I managed to keep a tight line to each buoy, so tight that I actually swam into a buoy on the way back!  In addition to the blinding sun once you were heading back to shore, the lake got quite shallow.  Luckily I didn't hit the ground and exited the water feeling strong at 26:46.  Super pleased with the swim!!  While the water was definitely warm, I never felt hot in my  full-sleeve wetsuit so I was definitely glad I wore it.

T1: 3:10  I tried to be efficient, but there is some room for improvement!

When I did the sprint course two years ago, I remember nothing about the bike course.  People said it was nice, through cranberry bogs and all, so this year I was determined to take a look around!  Add in some gorgeous weather, and the bike course was indeed quite enjoyable.  That is, until around mile 20, when my hip flexors and adductors started getting tight.  After this it felt like I was pushing as hard as I could and yet slowing down.  There were some rolling hills, but nothing to write home about.  Off the bike in 1:27:35 (18mph), it wasn't quite the time I was hoping for, but solid nonetheless.

T2: 1:39

heading out on the run
Definitely glad to be off the bike, I wasn't quite sure about the run due to my tight hips.  There was a good amount of shade on the course which definitely helped with the rising temperatures and bright sun.  I felt alright out of T2 and even started to feel good by mile 4.  However things the tightness in my hips/legs didn't go away and although I needed some more nutrition, my stomach was having none of it.  The was one hill on the course, about mile 5 if I remember correctly.  Try as I might to just keep running (one mile at a time was my mantra that day), I ended up walking twice for short stints around mile 5.  After the hill I managed to keep going and finish strong once we got back in the park for a 55:27 run (8:57min/mile).

finish line in sight!

Clock Time:  2:54:36
AG  17/47
Overall  312/643

I finished with mixed feelings on this race- a great swim and an 11min PR for an olympic-distance tri is definitely something I'm proud of (different course, but still).  I gave it all I had that day, I just know I've got a better race in me.  I'll see you next year, Cranberry Oly!
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