Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Pizza : My new go-to meal

I tend to do a bunch of cooking on the weekend so that I can eat leftovers all week on the nights that I don't have time to cook (or am too hungry to wait for something to cook).  The problem with making a big vat of stew or something is that it gets boring to eat the same thing every night.  I tend to eat the exact same thing for breakfast and lunch every day, because it easier for my schedule to keep them consistent, so I like to have variety for dinner.

I don't make pizza very often because the dough is time consuming.  It only very recently occurred to me that I could make a batch of pizza dough, keep it in the fridge, and break off chunks each time I want to make a pizza!  It is now my favorite thing to do for dinner.  I can change up the toppings each night, so it doesn't quite seem like I am eating the same thing.  And I don't quite eat pizza every  night, some nights I have done pasta instead.

The pizza dough recipe I used to use always came out very bread-y.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't quite what I imagine when I think of pizza.  A few weeks ago, I decided to try a new recipe to see if I could find one I liked better.  I loved the first one I tried, and now I am sticking with it.  It comes out much thinner than my previous crust, and has just the right balance of chewiness and crunch.

Pizza Dough
3 tsp yeast
garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 c water (110 degrees)
2 tbsp olive oil
3-4 c flour

spread very thin, add toppings, bake at 450 for 15 minutes

I use my stand mixer to mix the dough, it is so much simpler and cleaner than mixing in a bowl.  The dough hook brings the dough together so nicely and it is easy to tell when to stop adding flour.  Once the dough has lost most of its stickiness, I transfer it to a silpat mat and knead it with a bit more flour, for just a few minutes.  Then I grease a bowl, put in the dough, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise for an hour or two.  When I punch it down, I remove a chunk for my dinner, and put the rest in an airtight container in the fridge.  I can get 4-5 pizzas out of each batch of dough.  Each pizza comes out a bit smaller than my pizza pan.  

I often bake some chicken breasts and cook some ground beef early in the week, both are great pizza toppings and can be combined with any vegetable toppings.

Here are some of the pizzas I have eaten in the past week:
These all happen to have chicken and mushroom...but I have also made pizzas with ground beef!

chicken, mushroom, carrot, basil

chicken, mushroom, bok choy

chicken, mushroom, broccoli

In addition to changing up the toppings, I also change up the sauce.  Sometimes I don't even add a sauce.  Sometimes I use sun-dried tomato alfredo, sometimes red sauce, sometimes pesto.

Monday, January 26, 2015

A great week of 6+ mile runs...and then our water got shut off

I was really proud of myself for sticking to my 6 mile minimum all week!  I hope that I am able to make this a habit.  I know that there will be days when I just don't have time for 6, and I need to be able to run shorter on those days rather than not run at all, but I don't want to skimp on the runs without a valid time constraint.  Saturday's run was rough, a friend and I went to the Greenbrier to run, thinking it would be easy.  There is a road running through the property that is almost 3 miles one way, gently rolling.  We figured since it was flat compared to Lewisburg, it would be easy.  We ended up really struggling to maintain a decent pace.  I don't know if it was the wind (which was brutal at times) or the fact that we were each worn out from previous workouts, or if we just hadn't fueled properly, but we did so bad compared to what we expected, we now need to go do it again and redeem ourselves.

I took Sunday off because my body was clearly tired and begging me to take a break. I was thinking about trying that run again today, but then this happened.  No one is supposed to have running water right now, and we don't really know when we will get it back.  My water just happens to still be running, but it is only a matter of time before the pipes are empty, so I can't rely on it for anything like the shower I desperate need.  Look like I will be taking a couple of days off, because if I need a shower without running, I will definitely need a shower after running.  Maybe this water-enforced time off will let the bruise on top of my foot finally heal... There was a wrinkle in the tongue of my shoe during one run 2 weeks ago, and I am having a lot of trouble getting the bruise to heal!  I get these bruises every now and then, they are super annoying!

Jan 19-25
M : 6.6
T :  6.8
R : 6.2
F : 6
Sa : 6.3 w/DD
total : 31.9 miles

On Wednesday, it was 50+ degrees and I needed a day off from running, so I went out to the barn to visit Pony and play with my camera. 

On Friday night, I needed something to do with my hand while I watched Netflix, so I finally got around to snazzing up the camera strap on my second camera.  I'd been meaning to get to it for awhile, and I'm glad I finally did!  Now both of my cameras have pretty straps!
The perfect use for some of my ribbon.  I still have a LOT of ribbon, I'm going to need to come up with some more projects to use it up.  It's been sitting in a drawer for years...

Oh, and schools are closed because of the whole water-crisis thing...so I find myself with a lot of time on my hands today. Suddenly everything I want to do involves a need for water...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Things were going so well and then...

...my super-human immune system had a temporary system failure.  I won't say that I had the flu...but I do believe I was fighting the flu.  No fever/vomiting/any of that nastiness, but I did have a nasty sore throat and was achy all over.  And there were a few flashes of nausea that luckily came and went quickly.  I was in the middle of an incredible running streak, but I had to derail it in order to spend lots of time in bed so that my immune system could fight off the plague.  I had a hint of a sore throat Wednesday night, ignored it, felt ok Thursday morning, went to work, and went into a rapid decline.  I just barely made it through my classes and left as soon as they were over.  Friday was a teacher work day, and I was encouraged to stay home and get better.  So I spent all day Friday in bed.  Was in bed by 7:15 on Thursday night, and spent all but 2 of the next 24 hours lying there.  Napping, reading, netflix-ing, letting my immune system do its job.  First sick day I have taken in 3 or 4 years.  Felt pretty good by Friday night, but the sore throat was still coming and going.  Eventually, I realized that heartburn was aggravating it and bringing it back every time it was almost better.  So I have been super careful with meals ever since and that seems to be doing the trick.  Now, I feel like a head cold may be setting in, but I'm hoping it's just a touch of allergies from being at the barn yesterday...either way, I took today's run easy just in case.

Before my running got derailed, I had run 10 days in a row, taken 2 days off, and then gotten right back into mileage.  Trying to increase my minimum mileage fro 4.5 to 6.  Was doing great until I had to rest and then had to take today back down to 4.5 rather than risk making myself sick again.

Shorter runs in the week of Jan 5-11 were due to extremely cold weather, I couldn't keep circulation in my hands for any longer than 3 miles.

Jan 5-11
M : 4.5
T : 8.3
W : 3.1
R :  3.1
Su : 9.8
total : 28.8 miles

Jan 12-18
M : 7
T : 6.3
W : 6.4
Su : 4.5
total 24.2

Was sad to miss out on running in 50 degree weather on Saturday this week, but knew that rest was more important, so I took advantage of the opportunity to go spend some time with Pony.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Sweet Potato Pierogies

Last year, we had our first snow day on December 10th and our second on January 7th.  This year, January 7th brought us our first snow day.  I woke up to a 1 hour delay because of the frigid temperatures, with a final decision to be made by 8:00.  8:00 went by and there was no word, so I figured I had better hurry up and get ready so I could get my car cleared and thawed in time to get to school for my early-arrival duty.  Then, hooray, the call came at 8:05, right before I started throwing on layers of warm school clothing.  So I happily stayed in sweats and curled up on the couch with a book for awhile.  And then I went for a run.  I was supposed to take today off, because I ran the last 8 days in a row, but I couldn't take a day off when it meant sitting on the couch all day.

After my run it was time to play in the kitchen, because I'm pretty sure that kitchen adventures are a snow-day staple.  My oven is out-of-order until Friday or Monday, so baking wasn't an option.  (I turned it on the other day, and several minutes later noticed fireworks going off inside it.  Turns out the heating element snapped in half...)  I had a sweet potato on the shelf that needed to be dealt with, so I decided sweet potato pierogies would be a delicious, fun, time-consuming project.

Pasta Dough
I used this recipe for the pasta dough, but I made everything smaller and used 2 eggs.  
And I added garlic powder, and skipped the cornmeal.

1 sweet potato, boiled and mashed with a spoonful of sour cream and a bit of butter
1/4 sweet onion, chopped and sauteed with 2 cloves minced garlic

The final product, boiled, lightly fried, surrounded by shaved carrots 
and drizzled with a ginger cream sauce.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Pepperoni Rolls

...are apparently a food-staple in West Virginia.  I don't really consider pepperoni to be "food," but I had some in my fridge after hosting a faculty pizza party, and I didn't want to just throw it away.  So why not jump on the WV bandwagon and make some pepperoni rolls?  There seems to be controversy over whether or not there should be cheese in them, but I have also been left with a surplus of mozzarella cheese, which is another thing I am not in the habit of using, so I decided to at least use up some of it.

6 days in a row, plus 60 degrees and a bike ride!

The best part of a running slump is when you get a break from it, or when you break out of it entirely.  (too soon to tell which).  I took Monday off this week because Holly and I went to Roanoke, but I ran every single other day of the week.  Three of those runs were at 7:26 pace, which meant I was actually running/enjoying the run, instead of just dragging myself around.  Even better, four of the runs were longer than 5 miles, and two of them were longer than 6 miles.  It's been almost a month since the last time I had a run longer than 5.5 miles.  And the last time I ran 6 days in a row was in September 2013! (Yes, I am obsessed with numbers)  I am so happy that my last day of Christmas vacation involved so many successful runs.

Today it was 60 degrees out, so I had to take the opportunity to cross train, since it doesn't happen too often.  The ride started out feeling really good, but then the wind picked up and it got not-so-fun.  The last 2 miles or so of the ride were brutal, it took every ounce of strength I had not to get pushed backwards.  Good workout, I suppose.  I cut my ride short and ended it around 15 miles, then went for a 3 mile run.  Would have run further, but my legs were dead after the ride.

This week's runs:
T : 6.1
W : 0.9, 5 
(forgot my inhaler the first time, had to circle around and start over)
R: 4.5
F:  6.3
Sa : 5.3
Su : 3.1
total : 31.2 miles

15.3 mile bike ride