I <3 Pinterest But ….

But it’s not right for everyone.

It pains me to say that – but it really isn’t perfect for every company.  I know, I know – I’ve said it a million times how much I love Pinterest, how excited I am that I get to use it every day at work for clients, how I use it to find and share great recipes, and how awesome it is that I’ve even been interviewed, and quoted, on the topic in Crain’s.

So how do you know when NOT to use Pinterest? That could be a whole other blog post – or even a blog post series – but here’s a great infograph I found today that lays it out nicely – enjoy! (click on image to view original source and make it larger)

Chicken Marinara with Spinach and Mozzarella

I call my mom pretty much every day on my walk home from work. We talk about how our days went, what’s new with family, and of course, what we’re having for dinner. I love hearing what my mom is making – she’s usually just finished cooking when I’m walking home – and it often inspires me to cook up something similar.

Last week my mom mentioned she was cooking a dish I have always loved – chicken marinara with spinach and mozzarella. She makes a huge portion of it for her and my dad and they eat it as leftovers the next day. I happened to have a whole bag of spinach on hand and had planned to make a spring spinach salad, but when the weather turned cold again (brr!) I was yearning for something comforting. And this was perfect! Even B – the vegetable hater – ended up eating his with the spinach.

Chicken Marinara with Spinach and Mozzarella

Here’s what you need (serves 4):

  • 1 bag of spinach (serves 3)
  • 1/4 c flour + salt and pepper
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts (or 8 chicken tenderloins)
  • 3-5 tbs butter (hey i said it was comfort food!)
  • 1 c tomato sauce (I just make my own)
  • 4 slices mozzarella cheese

Here’s what you do:

  • First, cook the spinach. Spray a pan with Pam and cook spinach. As the spinach starts to wilt, add 1 tbs of butter and salt/pepper to flavor and soften the spinach.  After wilted, remove from heat and set aside.
  • While the spinach is cooking, pound chicken breasts until they are 1/2 – 1 inch thickness (if you’re using tenderloins, you can skip this step)
  • Coat chicken in the flour / salt / pepper combo thoroughly.
  • In a large pan that will hold all the chicken breasts, plus some extra space, melt the rest of the butter. Cook the chicken until they are brown on each side. You can add additional butter (or oil) to the pan if needed.
  • After the chicken is browned, top with the spinach. Then, top each chicken/spinach with a slice of mozzarella.
  • Pour the tomato sauce onto the pan, around each piece of chicken (not on TOP of the chicken). Cook on medium heat and then reduce to a simmer while the cheese melts.

Enjoy the cheesy/saucy goodness. If that isn’t comfort food for a chilly spring night, I don’t know what is!

I made mine with extra spinach and served with spinach and zucchini fries. B got pasta as well.

TUNES-day Tuesday

Instead of Wordless Wednesday, what about a Tunes-day Tuesday for this week?

Here’s a sampling of some of the songs I’ve been listening to this week. It’s pretty pop-y for some reason. Enjoy!

Karmin! Love this group, and enjoy a lot of their covers. Here’s a new-ish one:

My favorite new FUN song right now: (yes, I have concert tickets for when they come in June!)

Neon Trees. Such a good song, despite being in a commercial 🙂

The Wanted. The video is cheesy so I beg you not to watch  more than the first five seconds… instead enjoy the sound.

And just because – Young Homie:

Zucchini Fries

This weekend, B and I did something we hardly ever do – we hit the grocery store and picked up supplies to make a homemade dinner every single night this week. every night but Friday night. each of the 3 nights B and I will be home together this week. The plans? Chicken marinara with mozzarella and spinach, Moroccan-style chicken with chickpeas and zucchini, and eggs with hamsteak. But of course this morning I remembered that B and I are hitting a movie on Thursday (Movie #3 of 4 on our list to see as part of the Cleveland International Film Festival!) shortly after our work/training run and likely won’t have time to cook – so that leaves us with 2 nights of meals.

Knowing the zucchini wouldn’t stay until next week I decided to use it tonight anyway and make some zucchini fries! These are a delicious way to enjoy some healthy “fried” food and also get some extra veggies in.

Zucchini Fries

Here’s what you need (serves 2-3):

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • ¼ c panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ c Italian style breadcrumbs
  • ¼ c grated parmesan or romano cheese
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ c Egg Beaters

Here’s what you do:

  • Slice the zucchini into thin, fry-like strips. I find it easiest to cut the zucchini in half lengthwise, then in half the other way and cut each portion into smaller portions. The thinner the fries, the crispier and less zucchini-like they taste.
  • Mix the dry ingredients – panko breadcrumbs, Italian flavored breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic and onion powders.
  • Prepare a baking sheet with foil. Spray foil with Pam or any other olive-oil type spray.
  • Make the fries! Take each strip and coat thoroughly in the Egg Beaters. After coated in Egg Beaters, place in the dry ingredient mixture. Shake it up to coat evenly. After coated, place onto the prepared baking sheet. Do this with each strip.
  • Bake in a 425 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, flipping about halfway through to evenly brown.

Enjoy! I like serving my fries with homemade tomato sauce and sometimes add some red pepper flakes for some extra heat in the sauce.

Marathon Training: Week Ten Recap

And just like that, ten weeks of Cleveland marathon training is done. As B would say “Wowwowweewaa!”

This week’s training called for Tuesday: 3. Wednesday: 7. Thursday: 4. Saturday: 15, for a total of 29 miles. I stuck to the mileage this week but switched up the days slightly due to traveling for work, again.

Monday: 4.28– Knew I was due to travel this week for work so running on Thursday after my car trip would probably not happen. I happened to feel pretty good on Monday morning, so opted to do my 4-miler before work.  It was foggy and warm out – warm enough to wear shorts at 6 a.m.!

Tuesday: 3.17 – Slept in and ran with B after work. The weather was still in the 70s when we made it out of the apartment at 7 p.m. and it my first night of the season wearing a tank top with shorts. Love the feeling of having my arms free when running!

Wednesday6.91 – SO close to 7! I’m trying not to beat myself up for not completely finishing the run – I had mapped out a 7 miler, I swear, but I was half asleep and have to give myself credit for even waking up at 5 to go for a long-ish run, so I probably made the wrong turn. Had a happy hour scheduled for after work so I knew if I was going to get out and do a good run I’d have to do it before work. And despite not quite getting to the full 7 miles, I did it!

Thursday and Friday: Off! Had completed my pre-long run mileage by Thursday and Friday. Thursday involved a work trip, meaning I had to be in Toledo by 9 and spent almost all day there. Friday was just rest and then a post-work Fish Fry!

Saturday: 15 From this point on, nearly every long run we do will be my longest run yet! This weekend’s run wasn’t bad – the weather was in the 60s but cool, and I ended up doing a hilly 15-miler on the eastside with B, Mary and our friend Dave. Mary and Dave stayed out front, while I kept pace with B who was struggling with all the hills. We did stop and walk for a few minutes when B needed to get water Gu, etc. but we finished the full 15 miles and nearly collapsed. My legs felt SO heavy after the run, but at least I wasn’t feeling sick to my stomach like B!

15-miler elevation - steady uphill for first 3 and then again 8-11 miles

Weekly Total: 29. Yahooo! What a great week, mileage-wise. This week I’m looking forward to hitting 30 miles and 16 on our long run – just about ten short of the marathon!

Question for you – how do you stay motivated and not bored out of your mind on your long runs? My biggest issue with our 15 miler was boredom! Even though it was a new route and new scenery for me (we don’t usually run on the eastside), after the 10 mile point (our final water/Gu break) I was just SO bored at some points I wanted to scream! I tried to think of games to play while we were running, but nothing really worked. Since I was running with B, I didn’t bring my headphones but I’m seriously considering it for next time.


Weekend Recap: St. Patrick’s Day Edition

St. Patrick’s Day 2012 has come and gone and it was a success! What do I mean by a success?

  1. The weather was awesome. Sunny and 70s in March? Short sleeves and a skirt? Success.
  2. Downtown was crazy and I mean crazy. Reports said that there were 500,000 people downtown for the parade and other festivities, which is more than even LIVE in Cleveland proper!
  3. Some bad decisions were made – but all to be expected and we all survived.

See? A success!

Saturday morning B and I hit the streets and got started early – no, not with what everyone else was doing, but with running. B, Mary and I went for our 10 miler around 9 a.m., knowing that we were expecting B’s family and some of our friends over for beer and cupcakes (yes, beer and cupcakes) before the parade. We finished our run around 11 a.m. and I already had 5 text messages and 6 missed calls. B’s family had gotten in from Columbus early! Yipes. We rushed back to the apartment and were greeted by B’s Aunt Marie (aforementioned in the Atlantic City weekend post), Uncle Dan and cousin Pete, along with his mom, who had dropped off his brother at the parade (it was his last year marching with Ignatius’ band). Downtown was already a mad house – as we approached our apartment we could see that East 4th was completely full of people and Cadillac Ranch had people smooshed all the way up to the fence. Thank goodness we had our own apartment, and deck, to hang out on!

Ali stopped by too!

Pre-parade, the cupcakes (St. Patrick’s Day themed – Murphy’s Chocolate Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Ganache & Bailey’s Buttercream Frosting) and beverages were a success! B’s niece and nephew even couldn’t get enough of the cakes.

Yum, cupcakes!

We went out to watch the parade around 2, knowing that B’s brother would be crossing our paths soon. Getting to the parade reminded me of an episode of Walking Dead – except with drunk people. It was insane just trying to get to the area where we could even see the parade.

 After the parade was over, we went back to our apartment to meet up with some more people for some more cupcakes and beer, and then headed down to the Flat Iron where we feasted on corned beef and experienced some live Irish music and more Irish beers. We hung out for a little while and then walked back home. Yup, walked home. I love warm days and living downtown!

Tower City, lit up green, on our walk home

Sunday we probably did what most other Clevelanders did – pretty much nothing. After going out for breakfast and Mass, we hit up the store for some groceries (without beer and cupcakes, our fridge was suddenly very empty!) and then sat ourselves down in front of the TV to catch up on 3 weeks of DVR watching. Lazy? Yes. But there’s something so rewarding about hitting delete after watching your shows and seeing the DVR go from 73% to barely 20%. A great end to a great weekend.

Marathon Training: Week Nine Recap

Week nine of Cleveland marathon training is done. It was a relatively light week and we had our last “short” long run for the weekend (we had 10 scheduled).

Anyway, this week called for Tuesday: 3. Wednesday: 7. Thursday: 4. Saturday: 10, for a total of 24 miles. I stuck to the mileage this week but not to the day.

Monday: 4– Was due for a rest day, but after passing out early Sunday night (super tired from Petefest) and knowing I was going to be out of town early on Thursday for work, decided to get my run in early in the week.

Tuesday: 3.17 – B and I hit the streets after work. I forgot my inserts (well, maybe on purpose … I’m still scared of wearing them after the pain they caused last week) but was able to wear shorts in the 50 degree weather. AND it stayed light for the duration of the run! What a great night.

Wednesday: 7– Set the alarm extra early for this pre-work 7 miler. I managed to get out for a run AND pick up Starbucks for B on my way back. I wish all mornings were this successful!Thurs/Fri: none – Thursday I was out the door at 6 – and not for a run, but for a work daytrip. I knew I’d be exhausted when I got home, and sure enough, I was.

Perks of running before sunrise - beautiful Tower City in the morning

Saturday:10– Another seasonably warm morning! It was St. Patrick’s Day, and B and I were due to have people over before the parade (I love living downtown!) so B, Mary and I hit the Towpath for a 10 miler beforehand. It was so much warmer than I’m used to and took me 6 miles to get into my groove.

Weekly Total: 24.
Not a bad week … but I’m nervous thinking about the coming week – we have 15 scheduled for this Saturday — the longest miles I’ve ever run! Since I’ve only ever run a half before, from here on out, everything I run will be longer than anything I’ve ever completed.
No running photos this week – so I leave you with my green, St. Patrick’s Day nails:

Green and sparkly nails for St. Patrick's Day

Murphy’s Chocolate Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Ganache & Bailey’s Buttercream Frosting

Two weeks ago, I got an email from my bff Jane. All that it said, was, “Have you made these yet? http://www.wearenotmartha.com/2011/03/chocolate-stout-cupcakes-with-irish-whiskey-filling-and-baileys-frosting/

they look AMAZING.”

I clicked on the link. Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Filling and Bailey’s Frosting? Oh my goodness. No – I had not made these. But now I was on a mission to make them for St. Patrick’s Day!

SO this afternoon, I did it. No, I didn’t do the recipe exactly (I didn’t have Irish Whiskey. Woops! AND Brian’s drink of choice is Murphy’s, not Guinness)- but they still came out wonderful!

Murphy’s Chocolate Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Ganache and Bailey’s Buttercream Frosting

(adapted from We Are Not Martha and Brown Eyed Baker)

Here’s what you need:

For the Murphy’s cupcakes:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 cup Murphy’s Irish Stout
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream

For the dark chocolate ganache:

  • 1.5 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream OR milk
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. Bailey’s Irish cream

For the Bailey’s buttercream frosting:

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ cup Bailey’s Irish cream

Here’s what you do:

For the cupcakes:

  • Heat the butter and Murphy’s in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once butter is melted, add cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and cool.
  •  In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In your mixer, beat eggs with sour cream. Add the cooled beer-butter-cocoa mixture and fold in with a spatula. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed – don’t overmix.
  • Pour batter into a muffin pan, prepared with cupcake liners. Bake, at 350 degrees, until done, about 17-20 minutes. Cool.

For the ganache filling:

  • Place chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl.
  • Warm the cream in a small saucepan until simmering, then pour it over the chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Add the butter and Bailey’s and stir until smooth.
  • Set aside until it is cool/thickened.

Cut out a portion from the center of the cupcake to insert filling. I used the cone method (GREAT how-to, here) but the other recipes, above, core the cupcake. You could use a piping bag to fill the cupcakes; I used a small spoon to insert the filling.

For the frosting:

  • Beat butter until fluffy.
  • Slowly add in powdered sugar.
  • Mix in the Bailey’s.
  • Frost the cupcakes and adorn with green sugar or other festive decorations!