Sunday, October 6, 2013

Our Favorite Fall Desserts

Below you will find 2 of our favorite Fall desserts.  These 2 recipes we entered into a Fall Baking contest and both recipes took home the top prize!

The first one I've blogged about before, but I love this recipe for Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Since I'm trying to reduce our wheat consumption, I used rice flour in this recipe and the cookies were just as delicious (no one even knew).

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies inspired from the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
1 egg, beaten
½ cup butter softened
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
Combine in large bowl.
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
Combine in a separate, small bowl and blend into liquid mixture
1 cup finely shredded zucchini
12 oz chocolate chips
Stir these into other ingredients, mix well. Drop by spoonful onto greased baking sheet, and flatten with the back of a spoon. Bake at 350°, 10 to 15 minutes.

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies

Lastly, Greta and I entered this Pumpkin Spice Roll into the Cable Fall Fest and took home a pretty sweet top prize!

Ingredients - PUMPKIN ROLL - inspired by an old Libby's recipe

  • CAKE
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup real pumpkin
  • 1 cup pecans (we like to crisp our pecans first)
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar


oven to 375° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar.

COMBINE flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts.

BAKE for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. (If using a dark-colored pan, begin checking at 11 minutes.) Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.

cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Re roll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

COOKING TIP:Be sure to put enough powdered sugar on the towel when rolling up the cake so it will not stick.

Pumpkin Roll

Now is the time to start drying herbs too so today I started with basil.  Basil is pretty wet, so the best way to dry basil is to place it in a paper bag, and place it in the fridge standing upright.  I did this last year too and I had amazing dried basil to cook with all year.

Basil - hanging out in the fridge this week

My flowers are also still amazing which is pretty incredible for this time of year. 
 This year I planted most of our hanging baskets myself and they were just as beautiful as the ones I purchased pre-filled.  I also picked more Zinnia's and Dahlia's from the garden tonight too.

My Window Boxes - Still Beautiful in October
Most of our week and weekend was filled with Homecoming activities and I'm a little worn out from it all.

What did you do this weekend?  What is your favorite Fall dessert recipe?

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Ups and Downs of September

Since I was slow to blog in September, I decided to summarize the month in pictures.

My birthday was quiet but the biggest and best surprise of all was my Grandma's recipe boxes AND Grandma's recipes from my Aunt Paula - what a wonderful surprise.

My Grandma's Recipe Boxes
Notice the first recipe is "Pigeon Church Lefse" - YUM!

The first day of school was really rough for everyone.  Here's the actual pictures which I never dared to share on Facebook when everyone else's kids looked so dang happy.

Graham's first day of high school - no chance he'd smile for me

Mom, no pictures today please
Notice, no picture of Gus - he was the one who would've smiled for me!

In their defense, the kids were moving into a new school and I know for a fact they were nervous. 

But, by the 3rd day of school we got everything figured out again:

The 3 G's - ready for school!

Graham started the football season off with a bang and did a FANTASTIC job on offense and defense and we LOVED watching him play.

Then he broke his arm playing football and will be in a cast until mid-December.

We went camping at Twin Lakes Campground in Drummond (OMG, beautiful) and had a great time except our tent collapsed during a rain storm one night and we had to head home in the middle of the night.  Good thing we were close to home.

Our tent collapsed as we were trying to sleep.  Too funny.

My cousin and I saw the ABSOLUTELY amazing band the Indigo Girls at the Big Tent.  There's something magical about Big Top Chautaqua in Bayfield and I can't wait to go back next year.  And the Indigo Girls just rocked the house.  AMAZING!!!

Erinn and I pre-concert - catching up by Lake Superior
I'm so lucky to have such an awesome cousin!

I finished my first marathon!!!!  Read about my marathon here.

26.2 - done!

Gus won a hula hoop contest at Fall Fest in Hayward.

Hula Hoop winner!  We do not even own a hula hoop but we'll have to get one!!

Greta won a baking contest at the Cable Fall Fest (more on that next week).

Greta with her prizes for winning the baking contest

Plus we did a ton of canning, cooking, gardening and went to many Varsity Football games (Greta cheered one night).  My favorite recipe for September:    Zucchini Crust Pizza.   And now we are ready for Fall!!!

What's your favorite part of Fall?

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Zuchinni Crust Pizza

I've tried a lot of recipes over the last month with my in-season veggies from my garden, but as I mentioned earlier - my marathon focus (story here...) prevented me from actually taking a picture and blogging.  But, one recipe that was my absolute favorite:  Zucchini Crust Pizza.

I read the book Wheat Belly over the last month and it really convinced me that I need to reduce my wheat / gluten consumption so I'm always looking for gluten free recipes and this one fit the bill.  I tweaked it to fit the ingredients I had on hand.

Here it goes:

  • 2 cups zucchini, finely grated, lightly packed
  • ½-3/4 cup rice flour (or regular flour)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil (or vegetable)
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt

  1. Place the grated zucchini in a strainer.
  2. Sprinkle the zucchini with some salt, toss it to disperse.
  3. Place the strainer over a large bowl, and let the zucchini drain for about 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  5. Place the grated zucchini into a dry dish towel, and wring the towel over the sink until the water from the zucchini is squeezed out.
  6. Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl.
  7. Add flour as needed to make a dough (not too wet, not too dry).
  8. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, spread the zucchini mix out into an oval shape. I use a fork to do this, and I press it down to compact it as well.
  9. Place the pan on the bottom rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  1. Remove the crust.
  2. Turn the oven up to 500 degrees.
  3. Top the pizza with sauce and cheese, vegetables (I used artichokes and olives)
  4. Place the pan back into the oven on the bottom rack and bake for 3-4 minutes. Again, place the pan on the top rack for about 2 minutes.
  5. Remove and let cool for 5-10 minutes to let everything set.

Zucchini Crust Pizza - baked on my Grandma's pan

This picture does not do this recipe justice but I have to tell you we LOVED it!!!  And, it's a good way to get rid of that extra zucchini.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, September 27, 2013

My First Marathon - Check

I can finally check a marathon off my bucket list (woohoo!).   I did not just complete any marathon, but a SUPER hilly challenging course unlike any other called the American Birkebeiner Train Run.  The elevation is equivalent to climbing the Empire State Building 3 times in 26.2 miles - yup there's some crazy-steep hills!!

This race meant so much to me for so many reasons.  I was never athletic in high school or college and up until 5 years ago, I had never run before.  I'm 43, work full-time with 3 busy kids and I certainly do not have the body shape of your typical marathoner.  But, I took the risk, signed up, trained and I did it.  Now, if I can run a marathon I believe that anything is possible and I'll never underestimate myself again.

Here's my tips on how to meet your fitness goal:

1.  Schedule it:   if you have you it written in your schedule you have a better chance of not filling your time with other stuff.  And don't fool yourself, your physical health is extremely important and you need to take care of yourself. 

I prefer to workout first thing in the morning before my day gets filled up with other stuff AND I do not want to give myself a lot of time to think about that 20 mile run.  If you get up, meet your partners, and get to it you are more likely to make it happen.  On one of our 18 milers we met for the car drop off around 4:30 a.m.  Yes, it kinda' sucked but we got it done.

2.  Partner up:  meeting up with friends to exercise makes your time more enjoyable, you are accountable to show up, and it's the best free therapy you could ever ask for.  Also, my running friends were so supportive and also gave me the best tips from nutrition, sports bras to shoes.  Luckily my friend Stacey agreed to take on this crazy challenge with me (even though she's much faster it worked well to train together).

Stacey and me pre-marathon!

3.  Sign up:  by signing up a race you are committed to figure out a training plan.  Having friends to sign up for something similar also helps. 

4.  Switch things up:  living in Wisconsin means I have 4 glorious seasons and I change my workout schedule 4 times a year.  For this marathon, I only ran 3 times a week and the other 3 days I biked, swam or participated in yoga.  For me, running 3 times a week seems to be the magic number.  Last year I ran more and ended up with an injury.   Of course you have to do what works for you.

And here's what I learned from my marathon training:

1.  Perseverance!!!  Seriously, I almost quite training for the marathon after a bad 11 mile run and then a bad 13 mile run.   My friend Colleen paced me on the next 14 mile run and I found success - I felt great!  Had I quit after those 2 bad runs I never would have met my goal of being a Birkie Warrior.

2.  Focus:  While I usually have my eye on some sort of a goal, I have never experienced focus like I experienced for this marathon.  The marathon seemed to be all I could think about. The Sunday after the race I literally felt like I woke up from a dream / nap.  I looked around and realized so many areas I had let slide because my focus had been so laser sharp.  I had paid the mortgage and electricity, fed my kids and made sure they had clean underwear - BUT that's about it!  Everything else I had really let slide (including my blog)..  Let's just say I have a lot of make-up work to do BUT IT WAS WORTH IT!

3.  Pacing works:  For the Birkie Trail Marathon they have some tight cut off times in place, and I had a lot of anxiety about making the cut.  So, the morning before the race I wrote down the times I needed to safely make the cut-off points (i.e. - mile 3 - 8:35 am, mile 5 - 9:07 am, etc.).  Not only did this ease my anxiety, but as I reached each 2 mile spot on track or ahead of schedule I gave myself an internal high five.  Plus it was a great distraction. 

My Pacing Arms - thanks for Amy Rowley for taking the pic!

4.  I have so much to be grateful for:   I'm mostly grateful for all of my Ski and Tea sisters that stuck around to see me finish.  My marathon was slow and I had many of my ski and tea sisters that completed other races that day and they either met me on the trail or cheered me in at the end.  Chad had to work and I had to get a babysitter for my kids so I didn't expect to see anyone at the finish but instead I had running friends who cheered me through the finish line.  Dang, I'm blessed and I'm so grateful to those of you that cheered me on that day or sent me energy from afar.

So, what's your goal?  After my marathon experience, I really believe that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

Have a great weekend!!


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Training For My First Marathon

My personal bucket list has included running a marathon, and since I'm not get any younger I signed up (along with my friend Stacey).  I've been training for this event for MONTHS but I did not dare post because when I started training I wasn't sure physically I'd be able to run 26.2 hilly miles.  But less than a month away, I'm fairly confident I can do it.  And let me tell you, I'm a citizen athlete and this is a really big freaking deal for me.

Found this on Facebook and found it quite appropriate

Below you will find a sample of my weekly training plan, but what I've found is that running 3 days a week and biking or yoga the other days has left me feeling physically better than I have in a long time (don't want to gooch myself - but I'm feeling fantastic unless there's heat involved). 

I'm no expert but here's MY TRAINING LESSONS:

1.  Hydration

What I've learned this year is that I need to drink 10 glasses of water the day before my long run, and by drinking Gatorade or Nun during my run I feel properly hydrated.  If I start with a hydration deficit, I've learned that the run will be difficult or impossible.  Before my long runs I also eat 1 tablespoon of chia seeds which helps maintain blood sugar and helps maintain hydration.

2.  Eating

Sharkies Organic Chewies works best for me during a long run and I eat after the first hour and every 1/2 hour thereafter and this works great for me.

3.  Running with friends

Without the support of my running friends this race would not be possible.  Running friends have tagged along with me on these long runs, shuttled cars, brought extra water so I wouldn't have to carry so much, provided encouragement and their support has been invaluable.  Having company when you are out there running a trail for hours is absolutely critical for my success.  Usually by about mile 10 I'm not very talkative so I'm probably not the best company but I'm forever grateful (you know who you are).

4.  Sign up

I've said this before, but once you sign up for a race you are committed to follow a training plan - trust me, this works.   Luckily, my friend Stacey signed up for the race too so we've been following the same plan.   

5.  Anything is possible

My Spring workout schedule was very strange for me this year.  Normally, I transition from the Birkie ski race right into running and biking, but we had snow into May this year so I didn't start running until the 3rd week in May.  When I started running, I had to stop and walk during a 5 mile flat run with friends.  Thursday, I ran an 18 miler on the hilly Birkie trail.  Goes to show you, that if you follow a training plan anything is possible.  Honestly, up until recently I've said, "I could never run a marathon" and really believed it - but here I am!!

6.  Marathon training takes a lot of time

On the days of my long run, I can't help but feel a little guilty because the entire day is pretty much a "me day".  I'll spend hours running and many days when I get home I'm not exactly energetic.  I purposely have NOTHING planned the days of my long runs, because mentally when I'm running long I like to know that I have the freedom to go home and nap if I need to.   Mentally this is an important part of the process for me.

7.  Running in the heat is hard

Out of all my long runs, I've had 2 really ugly runs.  Both of them included high heat, humidity and massive amount of bugs.  On those 2 days, I seriously questioned whether or not I could run a marathon but on both of those days the humidity was at 90% and apparently that's a problem for me.  Lesson learned.  My 1 hour run today at 77 degrees was almost harder than my 18 mile run on Thursday at 45 degrees.  Isn't that crazy? 

8.  Hills

As I've mentioned before, the Birkie trail is a very hilly course but one thing that has helped me has been to keep my head up by looking up the hill (your head weighs 10 pounds), keep your butt in (pelvis up), and swing your arms completely parallel to your body.  Once I get tired, the super steep hills start feeling like I'm leg pressing 130 pounds and my thighs burn but by keeping my head up, swinging my arms and tilting my pelvis in it helps a bit.  Sounds fun, huh?


Sunday:  Run 6 - 7 miles
Monday:  Yoga - 1 hour
Tuesday:  Rest
Wednesday:  Run 20 miles (Gravel Pit to Telemark on the Birkie)
Thursday:  Rest
Friday:  Run 8 miles
Saturday:  Bike for 1 1/2 hours

Other than Wednesday, the plan is not really that bad and I've worked up to the long runs over the past few months.  Trust me, if I can do this anyone can. 

Thanks Honest Tea for the great reminder

Physically this will be challenging, but my biggest anxiety lies in the cut-off times.  Unfortunately, the cut-off times mean I'm going to have to hustle.  And, I've been telling myself if by chance I don't make the cut-offs, I know that I've followed the training plan and given it my best effort.   Hopefully I'll have a successful MARATHON post in less than a month!

And on a another note, I took the kids to Chicago to do all the touristy things you do in Chicago and we had the best time ever.  Once we got back, I asked the kids the highlights:  Gustaf said he loved the subway, Greta loved to watch the fashions, and Graham loved the Shedd Aquarium.  Chad had to work so he missed it this time, but we hope to get back soon.  We stayed at the amazing Silversmith Hotel in downtown because I found a screaming deal from Groupon.  


Have you taken a summer vacation yet?  What lessons have learned this training season?

Thanks for reading!