Meatless Monday: Vegetarian “Fried Rice”

Since giving up meat for Lent another year in a row, I’ve actually had very little chance to play around with vegetarian recipes this year. It’s been 3 weeks, and due to a busy work schedule, B and I have been living on leftovers, Chipotle, Flaming Ice Cube and other takeouts. As much as I love all of those – I’m getting tired of it and can’t wait until returning to normalcy and eating home again!

Anyway, on one of the few nights we were home, I realized we pretty much had all the ingredients to make a Quinoa Fried Rice recipe I had seen online. So while B was busy going for a run (I had worked out in the morning), I got busy, threw together my usual stir fry ingredients with a few extras (including eggs and quinoa) and voila – there you have it – vegetarian (well I guess technically it’s ovo-vegetarian) “fried rice.” This made about 4 servings – I had mine as a main meal and B had his with a side of some chicken that I made in the same sauce.

vegetarian fried rice with quinoa - i crashed the web

Vegetarian “Fried Rice” (with quinoa and egg)

Here’s what you need:

  • Pam or other cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 egg, beaten, with 1 egg white
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce, divided
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 head broccoli, chopped into florets
  • 1/2 eggplant, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup asparagus, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (I used 2 cups so our portions had more veggies than quinoa – if you prefer a higher ratio of quinoa to veggies, aim for 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • Sriracha sauce, for serving

Here’s what you do:

  1. Spray a small skillet with Pam or other cooking spray and turn into medium to medium-low heat. Add beaten eggs and cook for about 2 minutes per side, flipping once. Let cool, then dice into small pieces. Reserve.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion. Cook, stirring often, until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add mushrooms, broccoli, eggplant and about half of the soy sauce (2 tablespoons).Cook, continuing to stir, for about another 5-6 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
  4. Add asparagus and carrots. Cook for another 2-3 minutes so vegetables cook through and absorb flavor.
  5. Add cooked (YES you must cook the quinoa first!) quinoa. Cook, stirring constantly, until heated through, about 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add freshly grated ginger and remaining soy sauce. Toss gently to combine and cook, stirring so it doesn’t burn, for about 3 more minutes.
  7. Stir in green onions and chopped eggs and serve. Drizzle Sriracha on top for added color and kick.
    vegetarian fried rice with quinoa - i crashed the web

    almost done!

    vegetarian fried rice with quinoa - i crashed the web

    ready to be eaten!

Another year, another amazing Cleveland International Film Festival

As I share each year, I LOVE the Cleveland International Film Festival. I love the crowds at Tower City, the people-watching, the food, and of course the films.

This year, for various reasons (aka extremely busy schedules) B and I only had time to fit in 2 films at the festival. We opted for two pick-me-ups, or at least humorous/happy films (so often we see somewhat upsetting or more educational movies when we go to film festivalst) which proved to be a good choice. The films were both different from one another yet both absolutely incredible, however, so I wanted to share some info about them with you in case you have an opportunity to see them! AND since the festival is not over (it ends the 30th) so you have some time to catch some films yourself!

Hopeless Hopeful (La Espera Desespera)

The film opens when Jorge, a pretty ordinary guy, learns that his wife Lisa is in need of a life-saving heart surgery – and a surgery he can by no means afford. Yes, I said we saw humorous/happy films – and I promise you this movie is just that. Because Jorge decides to go about getting the money in a somewhat funny way – robbing a bank. Check out the trailer:

 

This movie is playing TONIGHT so you should definitely go see it if you haven’t been to the festival already.

The Ballad of Shovels and Rope

This movie follows the story of Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, husband and wife duo that formed the band Shovels and Rope. I had never heard of the band – but I guess they’re pretty well known in the Americana music circle – so it was fun watch where they came from, how they started playing with one another and watch them put together an album.  Oh yeah, and the music was good too!

 

Some questions for you:

  • Do you watch independent or foreign films? Any favorites? One of my favorites still from a past festival was Primos. Such a fun, humorous Spanish-language film!
  • Subtitles or dubbing for foreign films? Subtitles all the way! I much prefer to listen to the natural language. But it makes it hard to multitask during a movie.
  • What was the last movie you saw?
  • What are you looking forward to this weekend?
  • Clevelanders- have you been to CIFF yet? Which movies have you seen?

 

Another weekend in NY

Living in Ohio, sometimes it seems like my home, NY is just too far away. It’s too far for a weekend trip by car (it’s hard to rationalize 15 hours in the car for a day or two trip), and planes aren’t always the most affordable options. Luckily, for various reasons (some not-so-lucky), I’ve gotten a chance to go home and see my family quite a few times the past few months. And that includes this past weekend! A few people from my agency were being recognized, as well as a client I work on, and I was lucky enough to attend a formal event in New York City for the awards ceremony and celebration.

After the awards ceremony, I was lucky enough to spend some time in the city with my brother, and then some time upstate with my parents. It will be at least a month until I see them next – and probably the last time I visit my brother at his school before he graduates (I can’t believe my brother is graduating college this year!).

Some scenes from a great weekend:

Jennifer and I (our client was up for an award) at the program

Jennifer and I (our client was up for an award) at the program

Awards beginning!

hanging around Columbia the next day

hanging around Columbia the next day

SO impressed with how clean my brother's dorm was!

SO impressed with how clean my brother’s dorm was!

view from the top of his dorm

view from the top of his dorm

pre-dinner drinks at the top of the Standard Hotel with my brother

pre-dinner drinks at the top of the Standard Hotel with my brother

view from the top of the Standard

view from the top of the Standard

Dinner with Greg. We waited outside this Indian Restaurant for 30 minutes and then were allowed into a scene with TONS of holiday and pepper lights.

Dinner with Greg. We waited outside this Indian Restaurant for 30 minutes and then were allowed into a scene with TONS of holiday and pepper lights.

And free ice cream for your "birthday"

And free ice cream for your “birthday”

Also took the train up to Albany and got some great views

Also took the train up to Albany and got some great views

And of course, as most weekends at home do, there was also a little baking

And of course, as most weekends at home do, there was also a little baking

tomato mozz

and of course, some GREAT meals

It’s always so hard to leave – but after a great weekend with food and family, and one of my favorite cities, who can really complain? Here’s to a great week!

Chicago Get Lucky Half Marathon Race Recap (part 2)

In case you’re ever in Chicago during St. Patrick’s weekend and looking to celebrate with a fun race, then check out the Chicago Get Lucky Half Marathon. You’ll enjoy some free beer, lots of green and a pretty good start to your St. Patrick’s celebrations.

Here are a few thoughts on the race overall:

The good:

The swag: the sweatshirts we got in our race packets were pretty cute and not super cheap looking, as often happens when anything but a tech shirt is given out. The medals were fun, and even the race chips were branded with the Get Lucky logo.

post race swag- sweatshirt, medal and beer!

post race swag- sweatshirt, medal and beer!

The after race: It was pretty organized, and after you crossed the finish line people were handing out bags of bagels, bananas and yogurts. This helped the big slowdown that happens when you cross the finish line and people are struggling to pick out their banana, bagel, etc.  It was also easy to get our bags from the bag drop – no long lines and the people working the bag drop were super friendly. AND we got a free beer at the end!

The race course: It was a pretty flat course, with only a few minor hills here and there. For miles 2-5 you can see varying views of the Chicago skyline, which was nice, and I love running along water. Water+cityscape=some of my favorite types of runs.

The pacers: I ran near the 2 hour pacers on and off throughout the race and really enjoyed their company. By the time I started running with them I was too tired to make conversation, but they were fun, conversational, had water to share, and so on. They had no idea – because again, I was too tired to talk – but they saved me for miles 10-12.

The time: Since B and I didn’t get in town until around 10:30 p.m. and didn’t end up going to bed until after 11 p.m., I was really grateful for a later-than-typically half marathon start – 9 a.m. Also, we were going to be taking the train to the race start and didn’t know how long it would take to get to the train, so with a 9 a.m. race start we wanted to be on the 7:40ish train.  If the race had started at 7 or 7:30, getting up for a 5:40 train would have been miserable.

What could be improved upon:

Course location: B and I checked out the 2013 race course a few times before deciding that we would run and also choosing our hotel. We booked a hotel about a mile from the race start, planning to take a taxi or jog to the race start – and then leisurely walk home, catching the St. Patrick’s Day parade which was nearby our hotel as well. Anyway, they changed the race course this year and didn’t announce it until about 2 weeks before the race – and it was not near where we were staying at all. It was outside of downtown, starting south of downtown at Jackson Park and ran about 5 miles toward downtown and then back around to Jackson Park. So not only were we not running downtown, but we weren’t able to walk to or from the race. AND this meant there were very few people cheering us on along the course – sure, a few people had been standing around waiting for their friends but since we were on just a running/walking path outside the city, there really weren’t any crowds or cheering sections.

Course conditions: As we all know, winter has not been so kind to us in the Midwest and northeast this year. The race was on a trail that was along the river and some parts were covered in snow, or ice, or mud, or all three. Some parts were narrow and had runners going two ways – which meant that you’d have to jump of the trail into the mud or ice, or literally stop as another runner passed you. A little TLC to the race course could have prevented this.

Course markers: The course markers were a little off throughout the race – even the pacers were making note of how “wow that was a short mile.” And some were off – we ran miles 1, 2, 3, 4, and then 6. It was pretty awesome. Until we realized that the 5 mile marker had just been swapped with the 7 mile marker. Woops. Oh, and nowhere along the course did they have any time markers. If I hadn’t been running with B for the first 10 or so miles, and then with the pacers, I would have had no idea how fast we were going. A sign, or someone with a stop watch would have been appreciated.

Water/GU stops: The first – and only – GU stop was at mile 1. Yes – mile 1. Had I had known, I would have gotten some, but of course I didn’t want any at mile 1. Had it been anywhere after mile 5, I would have loved it.

The chip timing: There was something wrong with my chip, in that it activated before I even started the race and crossed the starting line. B and I started about halfway back from the race start with the 9 min/mile group and ran basically hand in hand – and we didn’t cross the starting line until about 1:50. But when I checked my time, it said that my clock time and chip time were the same – and I started at 0:00. I checked B’s time and his chip time was 1:51 faster than his clock time (which makes sense) and it said he started at 1:51. Anyway, let’s just pretend then that I ran 1:51 min faster than the “clock” time says – okay?

So there you have it – my first sub-2 hour half marathon is in the books! I can check that off my list finally. Hope everyone has had a good start to racing season!

just after crossing the finish line - B, me and his sister Katie

just after crossing the finish line – B, me and his sister Katie

Chicago Get Lucky Half Marathon Race Recap (part 1)

Last weekend, B and I ran the Chicago Get Lucky Half Marathon. Overall it was a decent race, a pretty flat course and pretty well run. AND it was the first half marathon I’ve run in under 2 hours – my time was 1:57:31. But it wasn’t easy. Here are my first 10 splits:

These are times from B's watch - he and I ran together for about 10 miles.

These are times from B’s watch – he and I ran together for about 10 miles.

I’ll give some overall feedback on the race course and logistics tomorrow, but today, since I’m sure you were wondering, here’s what was going through my mind:

Mile 1: Wow, this is fast. But B is leading the way and has a GPS timer so we must be on pace. My feet feel funny.

there I am at the start in the yellow and vest!

there I am at the start in the yellow and vest!

Mile 2: Wow that WAS fast. 8-something per mile? But at least my feet feel better. Taking two days off from running was a good idea. Was that a GU stop? Darnit, should’ve taken some for later.

Mile 3: We passed the 2-hour pacers! Woohoo! Just gotta keep this up. Maybe my body is finally getting used to running outside again.

Mile 4: I wonder where the turnaround is. If it’s at the halfway point, then I’m more than halfway to the halfway point. Yay! Is B running faster again?

Mile 5: Why are we turning around now? Why does B keep running faster? I can’t keep this up for 7 more miles. Or is it 8 more miles? And why did the sign say 6 miles? Have we run 6 miles?

Mile 6: If I had run the 7k I’d be more than done right now. I really wish B would slow down. Or at least just let me run alone. He keeps running ahead of me and then motioning me to speed up. I’m running as fast as I can!

Mile 7: Just gotta keep ahead of those pacers. I need water. I need Gu. I can’t believe I missed the last water stop. It’s SO HOT. Wearing 2 shirts and a vest was a bad idea. Why won’t B slow down?

Mile 8: Thank goodness B slowed down to share his hammergel with me. But I’m SO HOT. Still. And why do those pacers keep getting closer and closer? How does B keep feeling so good? I can barely talk. Or think. Just gotta keep this up.

Mile 9: I am dying. I was so excited to run a sub-2 hour half marathon, but I went out too hard. Thank goodness I didn’t blog about running a sub-2 hour. Or did I? I can’t remember who I told. I wonder if I had gone out slower .. then I wouldn’t feel so awful right now. Why does B keep slowing down and then running ahead of me? It’s so annoying. Can’t he just leave me be?

Mile 10: Though I can barely talk, I finally convinced B to leave me. Now just gotta stay ahead of the pacers. Just gotta keep ahead of the pacers. Oh. Or just behind the pacers. They started ahead of us, so if I finish just behind them I’m sure to get a sub-2 hour time. I need water. How is my right hand so big? I swear my right hand has swollen up to the size of my face. It’s huge. If I’m careful, can I take my phone out of my pocket and take a picture? Nobody is going to believe me that my hand is this big. That would take too much effort. It’s so hot. Oh wait, we’re turning  and now facing the wind. Brr! Maybe my hand will get cold and shrink down. But now I’m running into the wind. Which is harder, right?

just behind the pacers

just behind the pacers (picture from B’s sister in law who had run the 7k – thanks Katie!)

Mile 11: Where. Are. We. Going? Why is everyone passing me? How has there been no water stop recently? Why are we passing the entrance to the finish? What did that guy say? One more loop until we’re done? Why is there even a loop? Why are people running toward me? There’s no room on the path for both of us!

Mile 12: Where is B? Where are the pacers? I wonder if I can just slow down and enjoy this last mile. But what if I’m close? At least this can be a PR. Just. Keep. Going. Now I’m running toward people. There’s no room on this tiny path for traffic going both ways! Splash. Yipes. Almost slid into that ice pit.

Mile 13: Oh that girl is not passing me. I got this. Oh my god I can see the finish line! And the timer! And it says 1:59! Ah! And I know I started at 1:50. Omgomgomgomgomg. I’m running under the finish!! Let me look up and get the worst race finish photo ever.

[insert worst race finish photo ever … what you didn’t actually think I’d let you see that, did you?]

St. Patrick’s Weekend in Chicago AND Meeting a Running Goal!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Growing up in an Italian and Jewish household in upstate NY, I admittedly didn’t really know much about St. Patrick’s Day. I never wore green (and remember being confused about why everyone it seemed in my elementary school was), and didn’t try corned beef and cabbage until I was way into my 20. That being said, living in Boston and then Cleveland, both two very Irish cities that wholeheartedly embrace the holiday- and marrying into an Irish family- I’ve learned to embrace the holiday and enjoy everything about the celebration. Including the color green.

Anyway, this year, B and I had decided to check out the St. Patrick’s weekend celebrations in a city I heard knew how to party – as well as get in a half marathon – the Get Lucky Chicago Half Marathon (full recap coming soon).

It was an AWESOME weekend. For a few reasons:

1. I love Chicago and it was so fun to see the city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations – including the river turning green!

2. We were lucky enough to spend the weekend and celebrate with a few of B’s siblings – his sister Mary drove in from Cleveland, and his sister Katie (her boyfriend lives in Chicago) and his brother John (who goes to school in Chicago) – and B’s cousin Tom who was in town visiting a friend.

3. I MET MY HALF MARATHON GOAL!!!

Yes, that’s right – I finally got a sub-two hour half marathon, coming in at 1:57:32. It’s been my goal to get this done for a while, and I really didn’t think that I’d make it this race. I hadn’t done enough outdoor runs thanks to the wonderful winter we’d been having – and the ones that I had done had been far from as speedy as I’d been running this summer. Like 30 seconds – 1 minute/slower per mile slow – oof!

Anyway, I’ll post more about the race later, but here are some highlights from a gorgeous green weekend. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

We started Saturday off at the Get Lucky Half Marathon and 7k. There were 3 of us doing the half – B, his brother John and I – and 3 doing the 7k – his sister Katie, her boyfriend David and David’s dad.

B and me in a pre-race photo

B and me in a pre-race photo

After the race, we enjoyed our free beer and some sunny (but chilly) weather.

And then made it back downtown, cleaned up, and checked out the river. It was SO GREEN!

B and the water

B and the water

GREEN water!

GREEN water!

And of course we made time for some deep dish pizza! Giordanos FTW. We met up with B’s cousin, Tom and his friend and feasted. I gave up meat for Lent so while B and the rest of the guys were eating the pepperoni and sausage pizza, I got the veggie feast. It was amazing.

the guys' meaty pizza

the guys’ meaty pizza

Decked out in green and awaiting our pizza. Doesn't the race sweatshirt that B's wearing look awesome?

Decked out in green and awaiting our pizza. Doesn’t the race sweatshirt that B’s wearing look awesome?

Not photographed, but also fun: some shopping downtown, eating a delicious meal at a place called Naf Naf (it’s like Chipotle for Middle Eastern food … aka amazing!), and of course some St. Patrick’s drinks.

Some questions for you:

  • Have you ever been to Chicago for St. Patrick’s Day?
  • Have you taken a weekend trip for a race before? I have been wanting to do this for a while. Go to a new city, run a Saturday half marathon, and then spend the rest of the Saturday and Sunday just siteseeing.
  • When is your next race?
  • What are your St. Patrick’s Day plans?

Scenes from A “Do Nothing” Weekend

We all have those weekends. Those weekends when someone asks you what you’re doing and you’re SO happy to say, “Nothing!” Or maybe you’re not happy. But I was happy to be able to say that about last weekend. After a few weeks of traveling, and looking at my calendar and realizing that I’m traveling likely every weekend through April 19th, I was looking forward to a weekend of doing nothing. And boy, was it a GREAT do nothing weekend.

Here are some of the highlights:

Friday night included dinner at one of my favorite places, the Flaming Ice Cube. I love their vegan, carbolicious food before a long run! B and I split the Buffalo “chicken” dip, and I got the kalebouli wrap. I could eat kalebouli every single day and be happy.

velpicstitch20140307_210151

Saturday started early with a 12 mile run with B and his sister. Despite not getting the pace we wanted (B was shooting for 9 min/miles for the whole time) I felt pretty good the entire time. Perhaps the key to feeling good is running slower? Mary kept on going for 15 total miles – I was very happy to be done with 12. And I think my body was too – after our run for a few hours I had some shooting pain down my back right side – from my glutes to just above my calf. Thank goodness it went away!

IMG_20140308_110816

Post-run, B and I picked up some supplies at the West Side Market for meals for this week. I won’t be able to shop there until the end of April, so I took advantage of the opportunity to get tons of food – probably too much. I’ll be eating spaghetti squash, eggplant and butternut squash for a few days 🙂

Love the fresh produce!

Love the fresh produce!

Did I mention we also got lunch at the Souper Market (LOVE their bread and Mulligatawny) and shared a giant Apple Fritter from the West Side Market?

seriously, these are the BEST apple fritters

seriously, these are the BEST apple fritters

After the market, B and I decided to get coffee and tea. Well, coffee for him (Rising Star) and tea (from the new Hingetown Tea Revival shop) for me. I LOVED my ginger turmuric infused tea. And how cute is the shop?

After our Ohio City escapades, B and I decided to do some outlet shopping. I actually didn’t end up with anything (surprise! I’m saving money for our upcoming vacation) but B left with 2 new suits that actually fit him. I didn’t realize how big the suits he’d been wearing were on him until he tried on the new suits. WOW – what a difference! I can’t wait until he wears them 🙂 If he lets me I’ll post a photo because they looked really good.

And the night included a few drinks out and then a lazy evening of watching Game of Thrones (and I didn’t fall asleep during the episode!), homemade pizza, and wine.

20140308_204934

Sunday I ended up having to work most of the day so I spent the day at a coffee shop before meeting B’s family for dinner. Today is B’s mom’s birthday (Happy birthday!) so we celebrated Sunday evening with more pizza, more wine and other Italian food.

Food, family and a good run. That’s what I call a pretty good “do nothing” weekend – don’t you?

I know it’s already Wednesday. But how was your weekend? Do you enjoy “do nothing” weekends? Do you already have plans for this weekend?