Sunday Cooking – Sriracha Bacon Cheeseball

I love sharing pictures of my Colorado adventures but this weekend’s adventures weren’t too picture worthy. I ran a St. Patrick’s Day 5k, the last race in the City Park Winter Running Series… meaning my next race is the Horsetooth Half Marathon next month! After the race, I went to a local park and enjoyed some sunshine. The rest of the weekend was spent at home, relaxing… aka I read an entire book (The Neon Lawyer – my monthly free Amazon Prime read) and am itching to start another one.

On to the real purpose of this post – I hate going to potluck-type parties and taking a majority of my dish home because no one ate it. I recently discovered this “Epic Sriracha and Bacon-Coated Cheese Ball” and it is the dish that has no leftovers! Who doesn’t love sriracha and bacon?!? The cheeseball is super easy to make but a little time consuming as the sriracha chips take about an hour and a half to get all dry and crunchy in the oven. So don’t try to throw this thing together before running out the door! Sriracha Bacon Cheeseball

I recently made this for a weeknight get together. I put the cheeseball together the night before, made the sriracha chips, and then put the sriracha chips and bacon in a baggie in the fridge. Before I went to the party, I rolled the cheeseball in the sriracha and bacon then ran out the door. I think the sriracha chips would get gooey if they were on the cheeseball in the fridge.

Mmmmm SO GOOD! You will not be able to stop eating it!

Sunday Cooking – S’more Pizza

We finally had a few days without snow in Denver! After a February that broke snow records, I could barely contain myself and needed to do something outside. A hike in at Elk Meadow in Evergreen was purrrfect. I got my 10,000 steps in for the day (I am such a tech nerd with my Fitbit) and saw some awesome sights.

Elk Meadow

I was hoping to see some elk while hiking but wasn’t that lucky. BUT as I was driving away from the parking lot, I saw a group of them crossing the highway!

elk on road

And then… I needed to eat back all of the calories I burnt while hiking! I made S’mores Pizza that I found on Pinterest earlier in the week and could not get out of my head.

Yeast doing it's thing Brown sugar, warm water, and yeast doing its thing. It smelled like a milk stout beer. I may be spending too much time in local breweries…Pizza dough

I don’t have a mixer so mixing and kneading this dough by hand was quite the task. The recipe called for graham flour, which I could not find anywhere – I went to Whole Foods and then called both Trader Joe’s and Sprouts but no luck. I am 95% sure that I saw it at Hy-Vee when I lived in Iowa, just another reason why I love Hy-Vee. I substituted regular flour for the graham flour and it turned out just as tasty!

S'more Pizza

My finished pizza! I used chocolate chunks, marshmallows, and smashed graham crackers for my toppings. Next time I will probably use a chocolate sauce instead of the chocolate chunks or melt the chocolate and spread it on the pizza like a sauce. I don’t like marshmallow crème or else that would have been perfect! This was just was good the second day and I am looking forward to making it again :)

Sunday Cooking – Almond Butter Blondies

As usual, it has been quite some time since my last post. I always tell myself that I am going to get back into this blogging thing and then something comes up. This weekend it was this spectacular view…

Estes Park Snow Shoe Adventure

I went on a snowshoe adventure at Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park. We went off the trail and had quite the adventure. I was a little disappointed when my Fitbit told me I had only taken about 2,500 steps in 90 minutes because it felt like 3 times that many!

Ok, enough excuses on why I haven’t been blogging lately and back to the real deal… PaleOMG’s Almond Butter Blondies. I love a sweet treat but I have also been trying to eat healthier lately and the two usually don’t go together… enter the Almond Butter Blondie. There is absolutely NO FLOUR in this recipe and it calls for coconut sugar. I haven’t done much research on coconut sugar but it has to be better than those other sugar replacements that come in little pink, blue, or green packets.

I am not against using flour and I am not big into this gluten free trend that seems to be happening lately. My opinion that is unless one has been diagnosed with a real allergy (such as celiac disease), there is no real reason to completely cut gluten and/or wheat out of the diet. I do think we Americans eat too much gluten/wheat in our morning bagel, lunchtime sandwich, and dinnertime pasta so maybe cutting back on gluten/grains would be a healthy choice. But cutting them out completely? Ain’t no body got time for that! And living in Colorado there are breweries on every corner, I would not want to miss out on that yumminess!

Back to the blondies…. I halved the recipe because almond butter is expensive and I wasn’t sure how they would turn out. That was a mistake because they were AMAZING!

Ingredients

Almond butter, coconut sugar (it wasn’t too pricy at Trader Joe’s), and honey are the main ingredients.

Raw BlondiesThey looked a little questionable once I got all of the ingredients mixed but they turned looked great after baking!

Blondies in the oven

Head on over to PaleOMG for the recipe, you will not be disappointed!

Sunday Cooking – Spaghetti Squash Casserole and Whopper Cake

We are having an Italian themed potluck at work tomorrow, which will also be a surprise party for a coworker who has been with one of our teams for 40 YEARS! I can only imagine the changes she has seen in those 40 years, between technology, league rules, accounting policy, and ownership.

Two of my coworkers are gluten free due to Celiac’s so I wanted to make something they could enjoy since most of the food brought in will be pasta I found this recipe on Pinterest for spaghetti squash casserole. I switched it up a bit by dicing the tomatoes and cooking for a few minutes on the stovetop. Then I threw all of the ingredients minus the cheese in the crockpot. I will plug the crockpot in when I get to work in the morning and top with cheese about an hour before lunch.

One of my coworkers keeps a candy jar on her desk, which I may dip my hand into on a daily basis. After Halloween everyone brought in candy that they didn’t want at home and we quickly found out that no one likes Whoppers! That is a gallon zip lock full of Whoopers!!

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I decided I was going to find a way to use some of the Whoppers for the potluck and came across this recipe, also on Pinterest. It was super easy to make and I hope it is all gone by the end of the day tomorrow!

2014 Chicago Marathon

It has been quite some time (ok, ok more like 5 months) since I wrote a blog post. My summer was full of traveling, running, and working – leaving little time for myself it felt like.   More on all of that later though.

One of my “30 Under 30″ is to run a half marathon. I decided last summer that doing the Colorado Tough Mudder checked that one of the list. This spring I got a little crazy and decided that it was time to actually do a half marathon. THEN I was talked into doing a full marathon… the Chicago Marathon. I decided to do a charity partnership with American Cancer Society’s Team DetermiNATION. The charity partnership meant that I had to raise at least $1,900 to run the marathon. I decided to raise that goal to $2,620 – $100 for each mile in the marathon.

I found a training plan and was kicking that plan’s booty for about 6 weeks. And then it all went downhill… I was going into work early, staying late, and working weekends (WOOF!). I barely had time for fun things and running got put on the back burner. Before I knew it, the marathon was two weeks away!

After raising about $2,500, I couldn’t back out of the marathon. I knew I would need some extra motivation so I came up with a list of 26 people I know who have fought cancer, some of those people won their battle and some of them are walking within me. Through them, I knew I would find the strength I needed to complete the marathon.

Why I Run

I wasn’t feeling super confident leading up to the marathon. Liberty Mutual offered Facebook postings at certain distances and I made it so only about 5 people could see those postings because I knew my times wouldn’t be as good as I originally hoped for. BUT after I started running, I knew I should have made those postings public. Who cares if my times aren’t the fastest? I raised a decent amount of money for the American Cancer Society and that is what really matters to me.

marathon time

6 hours and 22 minutes of constantly pushing on. The first 10 miles were a breeze. Then my  hips started hurting and I had to walk. For the next 16.2 miles, I tried to force myself to run. A few times I was able to but I couldn’t keep running. At about 4 hours and 50 minutes, I wanted to cry and give up. BUT I made it to the finish line and got my medal!!

Marathon medal

I am already thinking about when my next 5k, 10k, and half marathon will be. But if you ever hear me say “I am thinking about signing up for a full marathon” again, please slap me silly.

Sunday Cooking – Roasted Butternut Squash

I love a good Sunday meal prep, it makes me feel a lot better about the upcoming week when I go to sleep on Sunday night. Some weeks Sunday meal prep means I went to the grocery store and have stuff to make for the week. While other weeks it means I actually prepped some stuff so making dinner during the week will be easier and I have some snackies ready to grab for work in the mornings.

This week’s meal prep included roasting a butternut squash, cooking some quinoa, making some homemade enchilada sauce, and blending up three smoothies (with a little lemon/lime juice and frozen in individual zip lock baggies).

I honestly didn’t know making roasted butternut squash was so much work – peeling it, then cutting it into cubes was a lot more time intensive then I expected. I will appreciate anything I eat in the future with roasted squash a LOT more after today.

DSC_1172 DSC_1173

I peeled the squash and cut it into 1/2 inch cubes. I also added an onion for extra flavor. I tossed it all in some olive oil, salt, and pepper, then baked for an hour-ish at 350.

With the stuff I prepped today I will be making the following recipes this week:

Roasted Pumpkin and Smoked Blue Cheese Lasagna from Naturally Ella – I will be subbing roasted butternut squash because my grocery store didn’t have pumpkins

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas from Skinnytaste

Quinoa and Spinach Stuffed Tomatoes from Diethood

The lasagna and enchiladas are new recipes. I love finding new recipes to try (helllllo Pinterest) because I can easily get stuck in a rut of eating the same things over and over again… which leads to me binging on unhealthy foods!

Give – American Cancer Society

On October 12, 2014, I will be running the Chicago Marathon. My goal for this fall was to run a half marathon and for some reason I decided a full was a better idea. Go big or go home, right?!? I partnered with the American Cancer Society and set a lofty goal for myself of raising  $100 for every mile (yep, $2,620)!!! To start of my fundraising, I donated $26.20 to the American Cancer Society. I hate to beg for donations but if you would consider donating on my behalf, I would greatly appreciate it! You can also search for me on the  DetermiNation website.

Here is a little bit from my DetermiNation page…”It’s up to us to change the course of cancer – and I believe in the work the American Cancer Society is doing to save lives. Every day, they’re helping people stay well and get well, they’re funding and conducting research to find cures, and they’re rallying communities to join them in fighting back. More than 11 million Americans who have a history of cancer will celebrate another birthday this year.

I chose to partner with American Cancer Society for two reasons – to honor a loved one and my involvement with Dance Marathon. My Aunt Debbie lost her battle in 2003 and that was my first real experience with cancer. Then in college I became involved with Dance Marathon and was touched by every child I met and every story I heard. I will be running those 26.2 miles for my aunt and all of the kids who touched my heart through Dance Marathon, especially those that are forever dancing in our hearts. ”

For more information on the American Cancer Society, please see their website at www.cancer.org.

Short Hair, Don’t Care

One of my goals for my 26th year was to donate my hair for the 4th time. I had been going back and forth on this goal for some time as I loved my long hair. I had decided that I was going to keep my long hair for a little bit longer… and then I saw this video in which 3 year-old Emily explains why she cut her hair. Holy smokes. I knew I had to donate my hair NOW.

My awesome friend Sam cut and highlighted my hair for me and I absolutely love it. I donated my pony to Pantene Beautiful Lengths and have not regretted it once.

hair comparisonThis was my fourth time donating my hair, with my first donation on my 16th birthday. I have been asked if I will donate my hair again and I cannot imagine NOT doing it again. Growing my hair is something easy for me to do and I know it helps make some woman’s life a little better during a very hard time.

4 donations

Give – YESS Duck Derby

Along with slacking on writing blog posts, I have been slacking on my weekly donations. To make up for it, this week I donated $25 to the YESS Duck Derby to “adopt” six ducks. I first heard of YESS (Youth Emergency Services & Shelter) when I was working in Des Moines as my company volunteered with them occasionally. It never worked out with my schedule to volunteer but all of my coworkers loved those volunteer days.

From YESS’s website, here is a little blurb about what they do: “YESS is a private nonprofit organization serving children and their families in Central Iowa…YESS is a safety net of services, providing healing and hope in times of crisis. As the largest youth shelter and the only crisis nursery of its kind in the state of Iowa, YESS serves over 1,000 children each year – newborn to age 17 – providing emergency shelter, crisis intervention, and counseling services in an effort to heal families and change lives. YESS’ range of services meet the physical, mental, and social health needs of children and teens, creating an environment where families can thrive.”

Two years ago when I was living in Des Moines, I attended the Duck Derby and loved every second of it. 38,000 ducks were dumped into the pond at Jordan Creek Town Center and it was so much fun to watch the ducks “race” to the finish line. This year’s derby is May 3rd at 2 pm, if you are in the Des Moines area I would recommend checking it out!

ducks2 Ducks

Sunday Cooking – Homemade Tomato Soup

Every week I tell myself I am going to be more consistent with my blogging… then before I know it the week is over and I didn’t write a single post. One of these weeks I will get back on track!

I had been craving grilled cheese and tomato soup like no other but didn’t want Campbell’s (my fav!) because of all the ingredients. I looked on Pinterest and found a recipe that looked easy so I decided to give it a try! The recipe is from The Tart Tart and can be found here.  I “diced” all of my veggies in the food processor – it is quick and makes them super small so they cook up quickly. I also added a couple handfuls of broccoli slaw because I love sneaking in extra veggies.

Tomato SoupThe soup was a lot of work as I don’t have an immersion blender but it was super tasty! Opening a can of Campbell’s would have been much easier and quicker but I felt like the time and effort was worth it for a clean and healthy dinner!