Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Daschund

Merry Christmas 

Hope your holiday is as festive as ours!

xoxo,
Laura & Comet

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

Stop it.  My life has changed with these cookies.

I'm going to a cookie exchange tonight and have been researching the best version of this cookie.  I think I found it.

These are not set-your-mouth-on-fire cookies, though the chipotle lingers a bit in the back of your throat and you taste its smokey pepperiness.  These really do taste like Mexican hot chocolate and might be just the best chocolate cookie ever. I'm not kidding.  They were so fast to make too, make some right now!!!


Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

Adapted from ladolcivita.blogspot.com

Ingredients:
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
½ teaspoon ground chipotle chile, divided
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ¾ cups sugar, divided
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400F. Line two or three baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats, or use non-stick pans.

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and ¼ teaspoon ground chipotle chile.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 ½ cups sugar on medium speed until pale and fluff, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add vanilla and beat to combine. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, beat to combine.

3. In a small bowl, combine remaining ¼ cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and ¼ teaspoon ground chipotle. Using a cookie scooper form tablespoons of dough into balls. Lightly flatten the dough then press the tops into the cinnamon sugar mixture.

4. Place on prepared baking sheets, spacing 3 inches apart. Bake until cookies are set in center and begin to crack, about 5-10 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes before transferring cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

L's Tips:
*The cookies came out perfectly in 5 mins in my oven.
(the original recipe says to keep them in 10 mins, I guess my oven was hotter or my cookies were smaller because they completely burned!)
*I used McCormick Chipotle Chile Pepper
*I was able to work continuously on the cookies using three pans: one would bake, another would cool, and I would prep the next batch of cookies on in the last.
*Next time I will use decorating sugar in the cinnamon sugar mixture for some extra sparkle!
*The original recipe said this mix yielded 3 dozen cookies.  Using the cookie scooper I made 5 1/2 dozen, one of which I burned :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Christmas Break To-Do List

Paper and bows from Target

1. Read all of the magazines I subscribe to (and those I buy on impulse)
2. Finish reading Everything is Illuminated
3. Perfect my vacation breakfast of soft boiled eggs (yesterday the yolks were semi-successful, today the shell put up a fight)
4. Find the perfect Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies recipe (this one or this one?)
5. Reintroduce myself to the gym, particularly the elliptical machine and bike
6. Become BFFs with Mari Winsor again (we met up after breakfast this morning and I remembered why I like her so much)
7. Sing carols
8. Buy white round toe pumps
9. And maybe a few new dresses
10. Drink hot chocolate and watch my favorite holiday movies

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cute Jewelry for Runners

I think I learned of Endure through a sidebar ad on Facebook.  I'm loving the tortoise and the hair necklace and earrings, as well as their girly twist on the track & field symbol.



Sunday, December 12, 2010

Running Outfit | 43-46 Degrees

TJ Maxx
Avia White Hooded Front Zip Jacket, $19.99 (compared at $34.99)

Blue Jockey Seamless Racerback Tank, $10.00 (compared at $26)



Academy
Nike Tempo Track Women's Running Shorts, $24.00 (compared at $28)

Sugar Land Finish Line Sports 30K

Remember that day I ran 18.6 miles?  My knees will remember for quite a while, promise!

This was the final race in the Warm Up Series leading up to the Houston Marathon.  I have never run more than 13 miles before so I've been very nervous about this part of my training, but I'm so thankful for these races.  Would you rather run 18 miles on your own or do it with a thousand people, volunteers, and supporters? 

The weather was perfect to run in, about mid 40s and it rose to the low 50s.  There were about 1400 runners out there.  I felt great for the first 15 miles, but then my arches starting hurting, followed by my knees.  I averaged about a 10:23 pace up until that point and then I slowed to 11:00, then 11:30...I think I was at around 12 min miles the last 2.6 miles of the race.  Those last couple of miles were really painful and I was getting discouraged.  However, I kept telling myself to be proud of the fact that I was still moving, that I've never ran that far before, and that it would all be over soon!

The race started at Sugar Land Town Square (outdoor mall) and then headed toward a very fancy neighborhood.  We ran a loop three times through their hood before heading back to the mall.
Pros about this race:
  • Cute medal (snowflake) and long sleeve tech shirt
  • Tons of volunteers along the route handing out water, cheering you on and shouting pace times
  • Great way to knock out an 18 mile run
Cons about this race:
  • All racers shared 2 lanes.  It made for some congestion at the beginning, especially for the crazy fast runners
  • There could have been a bit more entertainment since headphones weren't permitted. A few people had their windows rolled down in their cars and were playing music, but I think there were only two
  • After party was not so great.  Efficient because they handed you bag of snacks, but they only had sodas and cups of water available after.  There were some bananas too.  I don't care about the food as much as I would have LOVED Muscle Milk or something after.
Still, I'm pretty happy with the race and I definitely encourage people training for the Houston Marathon to take advantage of the Warm Up Series.

Running Outfit | 50 Degrees

My race day outfit from last weeeknd's La Porte By the Bay Half Marathon.  It was about 50 degrees and windy, but once we started moving I was comfortable in this outfit.

Running Outfit | 50 Degrees

Monday, December 6, 2010

La Porte By the Bay Half Marathon - Recap

This past Sunday was the inaugural La Porte By the Bay Half Marathon here in my hometown.  I was really excited to participate because #1 There aren't too many races held in LP, and #2 we would be running over the Fred Hartman Bridge.

The race organizers were really great and we received lots of fun goodies (Adidas long-sleeved tech shirts, screen printed gloves and hats!)  It was a chilly morning here in Texas which equaled perfect race weather!
All photos taken by Carmen B.

The race started at Sylvan Beach and ran behind the high school to the newly renovated Five Points intersection of downtown.  Old LP received lots of damage from Hurricane Ike and running through the town was a great way to see how people have rebuilt.  Next, we jumped up on 255 (the freeway) and headed up the bridge and against a strong and chilly north wind.  While bridge runs kill the reward is sooo sweet when you get to fly down them! Once at the bottom we turned around, headed back up, and the race ended at Five Points.

The after party was great and had an abundance of tasty treats and cold beverages, but all I wanted wanted was a cup of red beans and rice.  Hello!  Perfect post-run treat and it was so warm!  They also had chicken soup--both homemade.  Too good!

Now, I've been running with my ear buds in my ears the past few races, but haven't been turning on my iPod.  I think it's just a security blanket.  I also forgot my watch and there was no one at the mile markers shouting out the time.  I wasn't sure how I was going to do time-wise.  A few accomplishments:

1. I ran non-stop up the bridge both times
2. I ran non-stop through the whole race (except for the quick swig of water)--a first for me!
Since I didn't have my watch I had no idea about the time or my pace, but as I got close to the finish I saw that I was going to PR by about 20 mins!  I screamed to my friends who were at the finish waiting for me and the announcer heard and gave me a shout out.  So exciting!!!!
All photos taken by Carmen B.
It was a really special race, not only because I got a PR or because it was in my hometown, but because my speed racer running buddies were there, too, and we've known each other since high school.  I love that we were able to come "home" and run this race together. 
All photos taken by Carmen B.
Amazing race, great organizers, a bridge challenge and awesome swag--I can't wait to run it again next year!


Friday, November 26, 2010

Vosges Chocolate


A trip to NY is never complete without a visit to Vosges.  After an unexpectedly long day waiting to see the Statue of Liberty  we headed north to SOHO. 

I bought some Bacon Caramel Toffee, a Day of the Dead Tequila Caramel Skull, and a box of Mini Dark Exotic Candy Bars.  I was a bit disappointed because I wanted the regular complete exotic candy bars, not just dark chocolate, and grabbed these by accident. Oh well.  I'm happy to finally try the Creole bar (dark choc + chicory)

I also bought an individual Naga and Black Pearl truffle for immediate consumption.  Sadly the flavors weren't as strong as I've had in the past.

The highlight has definitely been the toffee, and I think up next for me to try are the Caramel Marshmallows.  Yum!

Be sure to check out Vosges owner Katrina's blog, Peace Love & Chocolate.  She's always posting the most delicious chocolate pairings.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

7 Miles of Thanks

I now know why they have Turkey Trots before you eat. I thought I ate really well today but clearly I didn’t wait long enough to digest it all before I ran. I was in some serious stomach pain for most of my run today.

My family was in a healthful mood this Thanksgiving and we did a great job of bring lots of veggies to eat. The menu: Turkey & dressing (obvs), cranberry salsa, roasted root veggies, chipotle mashed sweet potatoes, wheat rolls, fruit salad, garlic broccoli, and cheese broccoli casserole. Gots to have the casserole.

Pumpkin pie always tastes better to me the next day :)

Again, I’m thankful for my Brooks shoes. I thought it was going to rain so I put my old Motos on and was immediately in pain from the heaviness and how restrictive they now feel. I was forced to run the first 3.5 mi loop in them. When I switched I felt like I was running on clouds.

I’m also thankful for my family who love me unconditionally and daily exhibit generosity. They straight up passed a pumpkin pie over the fence to the neighbors.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cranberry Salsa

My friend S sent me this holiday salsa recipe this afternoon, which she got from her mother-in-law (who makes tasty dishes!)  I love knowing that S is sharing this dish with her friends across the sea in Bahrain and I'm serving it up stateside in Houston.  I'm thankful for college roommates who are still your besties 10 years later.

As per her mother-in-law's instructions:

1 pkg fresh Cranberries - rinsed and chopped
1 cup Cilantro
1/2 cup Sugar (don't reduce - you need it to counter the tartness of the berries)***
1 bunch (4 or 5) Green Onions
1 or 2 fresh Jalapenos
Juice from 1 Lime (about 2 tbsp.)
1 tbsp. Olive Oil
Chop all ingredients, mix and chill for at least 2 hours to blend flavors.

I put everything in my tiny food processor, except the onions which had to be sliced (green onions in the food processor = slimy mess = kitchen fail)

It made enough to be divided into two Tupperware containers, which is perfect for the two Thanksgiving dinners I'll be attending.  I'll serve it with tortilla chips.


***I thought this salsa was tasty but super sweet!  I ended up using it as cranberry sauce.  I suggest starting with 1 tbsp of sugar and adding to your likeness.

OPI Texas Collection!

It's too good to be true!  You know I screamed when I saw this announcement via Facebook (Thank you, Houston Press!)

The Texas Collection will be coming Spring of 2011.  


Here's what we have to look forward to:

Too Hot Pink to Hold 'Em
Do You Think I'm Tex-y
Houston We Have a Purple
Suzi Loves Cowboys
I Vant to Be A-Lone Star
It's Totally Fort Worth It
Austin-tatious Turquoise
Don't Mess With OPI
Y'all Come back Ya Hear?
Guy Meets Gal-veston
Big Hair...Big Nails
San Tan-tonio 

Best idea ever from OPI!  I can't wait to try them.

A Photo Shoot in Central Park

Left to right: My travel/running buddy, me, and my Southern-NYC friends Katie & Robert
Apparently the weather changed from brrr to perfect the weekend I went to New York.  A sweater and light jacket was all that you needed and we spent most of the weekend outside walking, dining, site seeing or shopping.

On Saturday after a delicious brunch, which included rosemary grits (stop it, you know I'm on a grits kick right now), we headed down to Central Park where my friend's friend Ari snapped a few photos of us.  I am so thankful to have some amazing photos of some of my most precious friends. 

Ari takes incredible pictures which you can see here on her blog or here at her website.  Thank you, Ari!





Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Runner's Wish List

We are a wish list family.  Make a list, check it twice, and give plenty of options.  My mother and aunt are amazing hunter/gathers when it comes to shopping.

Here are a few running items I'm wanting.  I'm also looking for colored capri tights.  Anyone know where I can find some?? 

And yes I did put down my sizes and include hyperlinks so I can just forward this to them :) 



Brooks LSD Lite Jacket in a Medium

ATHLETA Reflective WorkitOUT Tight in Medium PETITE


Garmin Forerunner® 305

Nike Free Run+ Women's Running Shoe in sz 8


Vibram Bikala's in this pink or grey, I'm not sure what size

What running gear are you wishing for?

coffee + biscotti

I don't think I drink that much coffee, but when I traveled to Turkey and realized they only served fake Nescafe and went through jet + a caffeine withdrawal I realized I need my cup of joe every day.  Worst detox ever.

I have a stash of instant coffees at work and I make my cup every morning.  I sip it as I teach my first two classes and my students know to help me keep tabs on my travel mug since I have a tendency to set things down around the room (like my coffee, or my keys, or the the remote, or pretty much anything else) and am a hot mess without my coffee.  I am thankful for sweet kiddos who keep me in line.


While having a week off of work is a luxury I do have to say I miss a few aspects of my routine.  I went out and bought some coffee packs today and found a low cal version of my favorite sweet treat:
Stabucks VIA Ready Brew & Nonni's Decadence Biscotti
Only 100 calories! And chocolate biscotti to boot! Where have you been all of my life Nonni?  New favorite!

I enjoyed my midday coffee break, and the daschund enjoyed his midday nap.

Thanksgiving Break is hard work!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Break Book Club

I am thankful for...

A whole week off :)  I have very little on my to do list for the week.  I want to get a little planning for work done, get in all of my runs and a round or so of yoga, and tackle my latest read:


And I mean, I couldn't resist these...


What are you reading these days?

Footsies Love

I recently had to break down and go get a pedicure.  I know, I know, tough life.  I had been trying to hold off until after all of my races because my feet are rough.  Between running and wearing my fair share of heels to work my feet have taken a beating.  But I decided pretty holiday toes were in order and that if they could work a miracle on my soles then I could manage the up keep for the next couple of months.

Let's just say she had to go to work on my patitas and at one point I swear she doused them in some sort of acidic gel.  Shame!

On the bright side, I got to check out the entire OPI Designer Series line--love them all!  I went with DS Extravagance:
http://opi.com/


I also have been slathering my soles with this fantastic creme from BeautiControl.  It smells super minty.  I slip on some socks and then drift off to sleep.

Detoxifying Foot Creme


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Shoe Review: Brooks Launch

Brooks Launch, $90

So confession: I'm training for a race right now.  A big race.  I've been hesitate to talk much about it because quite frankly I've been terrified since receiving confirmation that I made the lottery, but I am training.  The goal is to finish.  Ner-vous.

That being said, I bought some new shoes a month or so ago and love them.  I went to Luke's Locker and tested a bunch of shoes one Sunday, while wearing a dress.  The shoes specialist assured me he's seen stranger.  My requirements were something lightweight since my Nike Motos were starting to feel very heavy.  I decided on the Brooks despite the bright blue color (You know it was hard for me to buy these knowing there were no other color choices).

I have loved the Launches.  The have made long runs so much easier and my knees and ankles have not bothered me nearly as much during my long runs.

Just stick with the turkey


Student: Miss, did you know that there's such thing as a duck inside of a chicken...
Me: Yes--
Student: ...inside of a turkey...
Me: Yes--
Student: ...inside of a cow...
Me: No.

I often share a lot of student quotes on FB.  I thought I would take time to share them here as well.  They are ridiculous and make every day memorable.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mesa Grill New York

My buddy that I went to New York is a major foodie.  We both obsessively watch shows like Top Chef and The Next Iron Chef and really any show that comes on Food Network.  He had never been to New York and the only thing that was on his must-do list was visit a Bobby Flay restaurant.

We were going to go to Bar Americain, but the menu = lots of meaty proteins and that didn't seem very appealing to me.  He said he was fine going to Mesa Grill instead even though he had been to the Vegas one.  EVERYTHING on the Mesa Grill menu looked amazing.

We made reservations for Friday and the earliest they could take us was 9:45 PM. How New York.  We arrived 5 mins early but had to wait 45 mins to be seated.  How New York.

We took our seats upstairs and were ready.  Clearly we had been looking at the menu all day.

We were parched, so we started with a Cactus Pear Margarita and a Coney Island Albino Python
The Cactus Pear Margarita was refreshing, smooth, and had a kick!
Up next, appetizers:

BLUE CORN PANCAKE
with Barbecued Duck
+ Habanero Chile-Star Anise Sauce
Not my favorite because I'm not a fan of duck and it was a very small portion (three bites).  I let him devour this.

ROUGH CUT TUNA NACHOS
with Mango-Habanero Hot Sauce
+ Avocado Crema
AMAZING!  If you go to Mesa Grill you must order the Tuna Nachos!  Probably the best tuna I've ever had, it melted in my mouth.  The sauces were also delicious and soooo Bobby Flay.
.
Located at the top of the photo is what I ordered for dinner:
CORNMEAL CRUSTED CHILE RELLENO
filled with Roasted Eggplant, Manchego Cheese
with Sweet Red Pepper Sauce + Balsamic Vinegar and a Pumpkin Tamale
with Allspice Butter
At the bottom of the photo:
PAN ROASTED VENISON
with Cranberries
+ Pumpkin Tamale with Allspice Butter

Stop it.  I was the winner.  The Chile Relleno was spicy but it was oozing with delicious cheese and the cornmeal crust was perfect.  However, the real highlight was the pumpkin tamale.  I will be looking for the recipe to make for Thanksgiving. 

Yes, You had to roll us out.  It was fantastic, and I was so happy to finally have a good experience at a Celebrity Chef's restaurant.  I recommend the margarita, tuna nachos, and pumpkin tamale.

Mesa Grill
www.mesagrill.com/newyorkcity/
102 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10011
(212) 807-7400