April 30, 2012

Menu Monday

We’re back!  We made it home from Nashvegas late last night and are hoping to hobble through work today...and I do mean hobble.

There will be a full race recap coming tomorrow, but until then, here is our menu plan for the week:

At the World Famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge – Nashville, TN

M:  Baked Ziti

T:  BBQ Chicken Pizza

W: Steak Salad

Th:  Chicken and Broccoli Braid w/ Applesauce

F:  Sweet and Sour Pork Loin w/ Green Bean Cous Cous

Sa:  Ham and Cheese Quiche w/ Yogurt Parfaits

Su:  Cuban Sandwiches w/ 1905 Salad

Have a great week!

April 29, 2012



As you are reading this, we are probably on the road somewhere outside of Nashville, and hopefully we are able to walk.  Yesterday we ran the St. Jude Country Music Marathon (26.2 miles) and are driving home all day today with plans of hobbling through work tomorrow.  Eek.

There will be a full race recap coming in the next couple of days, but until then I wanted to give you a delicious recipe technique that is perfect for a Sunday Supper and can be used with many different types of meats and fillings. I introduce to you:

S t u f f e d Pork Chops




This was my first time trying this technique and I must say I liked it a lot.  The stuffing helped keep the pork moist (I hate that word) and added lots of great flavor.


Here’s how:

Start with thick cut, bone in pork chops.  Make a slit along the side of the pork chop and continue slicing inwards until you have a “pocket” for the stuffing. 

Add your stuffing of choice (mine always includes onions, celery and mushrooms) and brown in a pan over medium high heat until browned on both sides*. 

*The pork will not be cooked through at this point.



Place pork chops in a shallow baking dish.  You will see in the picture below that I had extra stuffing, so I used that as a “bed” underneath the pork in the dish. If there is not extra stuffing, no worries, just place on the bottom of a greased baking dish.

Top with a can of Cream of Mushroom Soup – I used the reduced fat version and diluted it with a little white wine that I had on hand in the fridge.  It did gave the sauce a nice depth of flavor, but is not necessary.



Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes or until the internal temperature of the pork chops is between 160 and 170 degrees and the juices run clear.  Cooking time may be decreased a bit if not baking on top of stuffing.



Simple.  Easy.  Absolutely divine.  Enjoy!

April 28, 2012

It’s official.



We are official Marathoners.  Success wasn’t easy to come by, but it now feels sweet ....  and hurts just a little bit. 

Post race recap coming soon!



If you want to win something, run 100 meters.  If you want to experience something, run a marathon.”

-Emil Zatopek











Here goes nothin’!

See you after the race…

April 27, 2012

Gentleman Jack


After leaving Orlando following dinner Wednesday night and driving straight through, we arrived in Lynchburg, TN around 5am yesterday morning.  We rested a bit in the car and then started our “Tour de Whisky” before heading to our final destination of Nashville. 

Here are the highlights:




Lynchburg, containing one stoplight, is a quaint little town with lots of character.  It’s nickname, “The wettest little dry county” rings true even though it is home to the Jack Daniel’s Distillery and has been since 1866.





We started the day off right with breakfast at the Iron Kettle.  We definitely had “tourist” written all over us, but the locals loved hearing where we were from and why we were there.  They were very friendly and welcomed us with open arms.  We were the youngest people by about 50 years and they loved it.

My ham and cheese omelet with homemade biscuits was dee-lish and everybody else raved about their meals as well – we were ravenous.




The distillery, which is about a 1 minute drive from the town square opened at 9am.  We were there with the other early birds and were lucky enough to get the first tour of the day, which is always free to the public.




We learned tons of “Whisky History” and loved taking in the mountain air.




Jasper “Jack” Newton Daniel was only 5’2” and apparently quite the ladies man.  He died at the age of 61 a bachelor, and it’s said that there are two chairs placed by his grave to comfort the many local ladies who mourned his passing.









JD’s famous quote.



The distillery tour was very informative and enlightening.  They explained every step of the process and added a bit of humor along the way starting with the Rickyard.

After seven generations after Mr. Jack passed away, the distillery still mellows their whiskey the same way.

According to the website, the reason is simple:

It imparts a distinctive smoothness folks have come to expect from Jack Daniel's. Charcoal Mellowing makes Jack Daniel's what it is – a Tennessee Whiskey and not a Bourbon. It refines our whiskey's rich flavor even before we fully mature it in barrels of our own making. Yes, it's a painstaking process that demands extra attention and makes our whiskey a bit more costly to craft. But Mr. Jack wouldn't have it any other way. Neither would we. (source)




Every drop of whiskey starts in a new barrel, as none of the barrels are reused and are made on site by certified coopers.  There are no other JD distilleries in the world and every bottle is produced and aged in Lynchburg.  It’s pretty amazing when you think about it, especially when it takes 4-7 years for maturation.  Crazy.




According to their website, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey is made with cool, pure, iron-free cave spring water from right here in the Hollow.

This water flows year-round at 800 gallons per minute at a constant temperature of 56° and is virtually iron free. It’s the reason why the Distillery was located in this spot originally – and why it’s remained there ever since. Just outside the cave you’ll find a statue of Jack Daniel. The man himself, standing guard over this prized spring. (source)

The cave was beautiful and has never gone dry in the history of the distillery.



Mr. Jack and the gang.




Our tour guide, Jesse James (yes I’m serious), is an official JD taste tester and left us with some important information:

Experience determines maturity. It’s what a whiskey experiences while inside the barrel and not simply how long it’s been there that gives it the rich color, character, and taste that we call mature.

Mellowing our whiskey through ten feet of sugar maple charcoal, crafting our own barrels, and placement in the barrelhouse—each contributes to how our whiskey matures.

Age by itself isn’t a reliable measure of a whiskey’s quality and character. Which is why our tasters tell us when the whiskey is ready. We judge its quality the same way you do – with a sip.  (source)




After the tour, we headed back to the Lynchburg General store for some souvenirs (koozies and ornaments) before hitting the road for “Nashvegas”. 


Happy Friday!

April 26, 2012



There have been many times during our training runs that I have quoted this guy:



I generally start our runs with the Forrest voice saying, “I WAS RUN-NING!”.  It always makes me laugh.


Marathon training has been fun, tough, hilarious, tiring and a tremendous time commitment, but it has been one of the most rewarding experiences that I have ever had.  To even think that we started 4 1/2 months ago looking at our schedule and thinking, “What in the heck are we doing?” all the way to right now currently en route to Nashville to run 26.2. 


I know people do this sort of thing everyday, but to me, today, it is a big deal.  I’m ready to take these legs for a spin and see what they can do!


Things I’ve learned while training:


1.  Runs are never fun in the morning. 


However they are a lot cooler than afternoon runs and make cat naps a lot more appropriate after work.


2.  My body didn’t so much change, but my mindset was definitely transformed.



Endurance running is so much more of a mental competition!  Embrace it and you will feel like you can do anything, anywhere, anytime.   It is so empowering.

--Please excuse the glazed over looks in many of the pictures above.  Most of them were taken at 4am – you get the picture.


3.  Having a running partner is so much better than running solo.  They know exactly what you are feeling, are there to push you when you need it (and vice versa) and it is safer (that one’s for you mom). 

It helps if they aren’t bad to look at either Winking smile.



I’m so excited that Mike and I get to experience this accomplishment together!


4.  Celebrate each and every milestone.  They all count!




5.  Above all – HAVE FUNIf it’s not fun, it’s not worth it. 


See you in Nashville!!!

April 25, 2012

Checking it Twice

I am a list maker.  I make lists of lists.  Most times it is overkill, but when it comes to packing, for me, it is a must.  I often times feel like Santa Clause, making my list and checking it twice (or three or four times), but the last thing I want is to be unprepared. 

As we were packing last night for our trip to Nashville (we leave tonight, yay!) I thought I would share my packing method(s) with you.  The most important part is the prep work, after that, packing is a breeze.


Here are my suggestions for pre-packing:
  • Step 1:  Make a generic packing list template or copy one online.  Minimized example below, click here for printable version.
Essentials: DO NOT FORGET




Cardigans/Long Sleeve/Sweaters:








  • Step 2:  Personalize your template and categorize it according to your needs.  You can customize this easily from trip to trip, but the necessities should always stay on your template (deodorant, pajamas, toothbrush, etc) so they are always there.

Running Essentials: DO NOT FORGET
Ÿ        Running Shoes (New Balance)
Ÿ        Socks
Ÿ        Sports Bra/Singlet
Ÿ        Running Shorts
Ÿ        Long Sleeve Throw Away Shirt
Ÿ        Visor (Mike)
Ÿ        Watches
Ÿ        After Race Bag – change of clothes
Ÿ        Bras (straps and strapless)
Ÿ        Underwear
Ÿ        Socks
Ÿ        Pajamas
Ÿ        Bathing suit
Ÿ        Scarves
Ÿ        Belts
Ÿ        Watch
Ÿ        Earrings
Ÿ        Wedding Ring
Cardigans/Long sleeve/Sweaters:
Ÿ        Shampoo/conditioner
Ÿ        Hair gel/ hair spray
Ÿ        Body wash/face wash
Ÿ        Tooth brush/tooth paste
Ÿ        Deodorant
Ÿ        Hair Bands/Clips
Ÿ        Band-Aids
Ÿ        Perfume
Ÿ        Make-up + lip balm
Ÿ        Aleve (bottle)
Ÿ        Vitamins
Ÿ        Q-tips
Ÿ        Contacts (Mike)
Ÿ        Vaseline/Powder/Icy Hot
Ÿ        Garbage Bag

Ÿ        Camera
Ÿ        Laptop
Ÿ        iPad w/ ear buds
Ÿ        Chargers: camera/iPad+phone/laptop
Ÿ        Pillow
Ÿ        Koozies
Ÿ        Hand Sanitizer
Ÿ        Prescription Medications
Ÿ        Sunglasses
Ÿ        Playing cards
Ÿ        Safety Pins (for race bib)
Ÿ        Ice Packs

Ÿ        Cowboy Boots
Ÿ        Flip Flops
Ÿ        Fila Running Jacket
Ÿ        DL
Ÿ        Credit/Debit Cards
Ÿ        Insurance cards
Ÿ        Race Confirmation Sheet
Ÿ        Hotel Confirmation
Ÿ        Gel Energy Supplements
Ÿ        Snacks/Prerace Items
Ÿ        Recovery Drinks
Ÿ        Water/Sports Drinks/Propel
Ÿ        Luna Bars
Ÿ        Portable Nut Butters

  • Step 3: Loosely plan your days so you will know what types of clothes to pack when it comes time.  Example:  How many days and nights will you be visiting your destination? What types of activities will you be participating in?  What is the weather going to be?  Will you need boots, sneakers, or flip flops?   

  • Step 4:  Print out any important documents needed for your trip (confirmation printouts, flight information, hotel directions, etc) and put in a manila envelope or folder and put it directly into your suitcase or carry-on as soon as you begin the packing process.


All of this list making and template customization might sound silly, but it will save tons of time in the long run.  I did this for the first time before we went to Europe for 12 days with only backpacks and it helped so much!    (Click here for my Europe Packing List)


  • Empty or make room on your SD card in your camera so you are ready to take as many pictures as you want!  There's nothing worse than having to delete them manually.
  • If going on a road trip, be sure to invest in a phone car charger.  It is worth the piece of mind to know that you will have a charged phone whenever you need it.
  • Take only the necessary shoes - they take up the most space in your suitcase and don't forget to count the ones you are wearing on your travel day!


  • When traveling to nice weather locations, take cardigans instead of jackets for cool nighttime temps.  Again, this will save you space in your suitcase!
  • Leave expensive jewelry at home.
  • Make your wardrobe last longer.  Pack different colored solid shirts (I love short sleeved v-necks) that can be worn alone or with a cardigan and mixed and matched with different bottoms for additional wearability.
  • Scarves are great travel accessories.  Adding a scarf is a great way to give an outfit a bit of a twist, adds warmth on a chilly night and can even double as a pillow in a pinch.
  • Always pack snacks for those "in a pinch" moments when your schedule gets out of whack.

  • IMG_6141

    And my #1 rule for packing?



    Happy packing!!!

    April 24, 2012



    Today’s post is all about the ABC’s.

    Atlanta Bread Company.


    (Atlanta Bread has since gotten a new logo, but this is the one I remember.)


    After I graduated from Rollins, I moved back home to Gainesville for a couple of years.  While living at home with my mom, we had a tradition of eating at Atlanta Bread Company after fun, random trips to Target. 

    At that time Gainesville didn’t have a Panera and ABC was the closest thing to it (since then, G’ville has gotten a Panera and ABC has closed).

    One night, I remember trying a bite of my mom’s Chargrilled Chicken Pesto Panini Sandwich and loving it.  I had never tasted Pesto before and was hooked.  From that moment on, that was my menu choice every time we ate there.  It was deelish.



    Ingredients listed on the menu are as follows:  Chargrilled Chicken tossed in Basil Pesto with Havarti Cheese and Tomatoes grilled on Focaccia.


    The original, as delicious as it was, I remember to be a little greasy.  I don’t know if it was the cheese or focaccia or too much pesto, but there were always oily marks left on the paper basket liner.

    Well, in my ultimate quest to make yummy classics just as tasty as the originals only healthier, here is my recreation how-to and ingredient swaps: 

    • whole wheat flatbread instead of focaccia
    • reduced fat feta and mozzarella instead of Havarti 
    • smaller amount of pesto mixed into the chicken instead of layered on top in mounds

    I must say, my new version tasted JUST LIKE I remembered and it definitely took me on a stroll down memory lane.  Enjoy!


    Grocery Lane’s

    Chicken Pesto Panini






    Here’s how:

    1.  Sauté or grill two chicken cutlets until done (I like to use cutlets in this recipe for the simple fact that they cook faster than breasts).  If sautéing in a pan, use 1T of olive oil to prevent sticking.  Chop into small pieces.

    Add the chicken back into the pan and then add about 2-3 T of store bought (or homemade) basil pesto along with 1/3 C drained petit diced canned tomatoes.  I saved the rest of the canned tomatoes for a later meal.  Waste not want not!



    2.  Mix all of the ingredients together to combine in a warm pan (low heat).



    3.  Add desired amount of reduced fat feta cheese.  I added about 3 T, or 1/4 C.



    4.  Instead of using focaccia, I used my new favorite flatbread (mentioned in this post) and even found it in whole wheat.  Score!

    I followed the package instructions, drizzled with water and heated for a few minutes in a 350 degree oven to make the flatbread warm, flexible and easier to fold over to make the panini.  After warmed, sprinkle a little bit of reduced fat mozzarella to help stick the two sides together.



    5.  Add half of the filling on one side of each panini and fold over.



    6.  Press in a heated panini maker until cheese is melted.  If you don’t have a panini press, or griddler, heat a dry sauté pan and top with a smaller pan.  Weigh it down with canned goods for extra weight to get the “pressed” affect (see below).



    (Photo source above)


    7.  Enjoy!