Out of Whack

Friday, May 31, 2013

Transitioning from working out three days a week to working out six days a week has been a little challenging.  I woke up this morning cranky, exhausted, and incredibly sore.  And that's after foam rolling for a good ten minutes last night and having the good fortune of sleeping through the night without the usual interruption of King getting up on the bed, getting off the bed, or just pacing the floors for the hell of it at 3:00 am.

And I'm ravenous.  I'm talking give me a cheeseburger and some french fries and a side of hot dog from Five Guys.  Maybe a milk shake.  The kind of hungry that will convince you to throw all ideas of eating healthy out the window.  So far, I haven't gone off the deep end.  This morning I settled for two boiled eggs, Ezekiel toast, and about a cup of Black Bean Hummus with celery for breakfast.   Admittedly a strange breakfast combination, but it kept me from stopping at Hardee's for a Smoked Sausage Biscuit.  By the way, have your heard those radio commercials??  I have not actually tried this smoked sausage biscuit, but that damn man rambling on about the snap of the sausage, the gooey cheese and the buttery biscuit using so many adjectives that I can literally taste that dang biscuit while putting my face on in the morning must be stopped. He is evil.  

My will power only goes so far.  

Today's Workout:

1.   Warm up

2.  Sled Drags:  2 trips
     - 70 lbs x 50 yards

Sled Drags
 3.  Ab Circuit:  1 set
      - Plank 1 minute (and stare down)
      - Ab wheel x 15
      - Leg raises with hip lift x 15
      - Rever modified hyperextensions x 12
      - Landmines x 15 per side
      - Kettle bell carry 35 lbs x 50 yards (switching hands half way)

Plank (and a staring contest/growling contest with King)
Ab Wheel

Reverse Hyper (not any easier today I'm afraid)
4.  Deadlifts:          
      - 1st set:  75 lbs x 15
      - 2nd set:  85 lbs x 12
      - 3rd set:  95 lbs x 10
      - 4th set:  105 lbs x 8

Funny thing - I made a snarky comment to Scott about the "puniness" of the weight before starting this set.  I ate my words after finishing the high rep range.  It was definitely a challenge. 

And this is the result of objecting to the angle of the camera mid-lift - "Don't get my face")
 5.  Circuit:  4 sets, alternating, less than a minute rest between sets        
       - Overhead Press:
           1st set:  35 lbs x 15
           2nd set:  40 lbs x 12
           3rd set:  45 lbs x 10
           4th set:  50 lbs x 8
      - Pull ups
           1st set x 15
           2nd set x 12
           3rd set x 10
           4th set x 8

I accidentally deleted the overhead press and pull up pictures, but you get the idea. 

Have a great weekend!

BBQ Chicken Pizza Stuffed Chicken

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I discovered the wonders of BBQ Chicken Pizza when I was about 10 years old. 

If my memory serves me correctly, I devoured my first slice (or it may have been the whole dang pie) of BBQ Chicken Pizza while dining at Spinnaker's Restaurant, a chain of restaurants that housed themselves in  shopping malls in the early 90s, with this particular one being located in the Inlet Square Mall.  I was instantly hooked.   

In fact, I'm pretty sure I refused to eat any other pizza combination for about a ten year stretch. BBQ Chicken Pizza or nothing for my younger self. 

And you can bet with my dad and that diva attitude, I got nothing on several occasions. 

But can you really blame me?  What's not to love about this creative pizza combination?  Tangy barbecue sauce combined with gooey, smokey Gouda cheese, char grilled chicken breast and red onions topped with fresh cilantro. 
My 32-year-old-self facing summertime will tell you exactly what's not to love - carbs.  As in that whole "pizza" part of the BBQ Chicken Pizza.

No worries.  Problem solved. I created a BBQ Chicken Pizza, sans pizza.  I simply stuffed all of those amazing pizza toppings inside the chicken breast and threw it on the grill.  I promise you won't even miss the pizza part. 

That is unless you have experienced BBQ Chicken Pizza on a really crispy yet doughy crust fresh out of a wood fire oven from somewhere like Wolfgang Puck's Pizza Bar. Then you probably will miss the pizza part. In which case, I don't know what to tell you - I never claimed to be a miracle worker.

Oh, and I learned a valuable lesson.  Gouda does not melt well on top of chicken on the grill.  It actually chars, turns black and hardens.  Who knew?  Good thing I overdid it on the cheese in the stuffing. 

BBQ Chicken Pizza Stuffed Chicken
Serves:  4
Prep Time:  30 minutes
Cook Time:  10 minutes
Total Time:  40 minutes

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
8 ounces of smoked Gouda cheese, shredded
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 red onion, halved and sliced
1 cup of Barbecue Sauce (I used, and worship, Sweet Baby Rays)
Salt and Pepper for seasoning

For Brine:
2 cups of water
2 tablespoons of salt (I use Kosher salt)
1 teaspoon of thyme
2 teaspoons of garlic powder

In a gallon size plastic bag, add water, salt, thyme and garlic powder.  Mix well and add chicken.  Allow chicken to soak for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, shred cheese, chop cilantro and onion, and preheat grill to high heat.  Using a grill pan (or skewer the onions to prevent them from falling through grates), grill onions for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove onions and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Mix onions, Gouda cheese, chopped cilantro (reserving a few pinches for garnish) and 1/2 cup of barbecue sauce in a bowl.  Remove chicken from brine.  Butterfly chicken and pound to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness with flat side of a mallet (video tutorial by Martha here).   Divide cheese, cilantro and onion stuffing among the chicken breasts.  Roll up chicken breasts and secure with a tooth pick(s) to hold stuffing in while grilling.  Grill over high heat until cooked to 165 degrees, about 5-8 minutes per side.  Slather chicken with barbecue sauce during the last 3-5 minutes of cooking.  Serve immediately.

Embracing Crazy Notions

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Yesterday I finished my last scheduled run in the first week of the "0 to 5k" App (personally, I think I deserve some sort of reward).  The "runs", which are really half run/half walks at this point, are still enjoyable and relatively easy.  My mom has joined me on every run, and even showed up on Monday morning despite my many texts informing her and my sis-in-law that there would be no pre-dawn workouts on my day off.  When she realized the house was still completely dark and Scott and I were still snoozing, she was forced to go it alone. To our credit, King and I were not complete lazy asses on our day off - we went for a walk/jog later that morning at the more reasonable hour of 10:00 am.

Instagram Evidence
I know it's all in my head, but I feel like I can already see small changes in my definition as a result of the added cardio.  Whether it's in my head or not, it's definitely helping me stay motivated to get up to run before sunrise on the days I'm not lifting, so I have decided to embrace this crazy notion.

Today's workout: 

1. Warm up

2.  Sled drags - 2 trips
     - 45 lbs x 50 yards
     - 90 lbs x 50 yards

3.  Ab Circuit:  1 set 
     - Ab wheel x 12
     - Plank x 1 minute
     - Leg Raise with hip lift x 12
     - Modified reverse hyper extension x 12
     - Landmines x 12 per side
     - Kettle bell carry 35 lbs x 50 yards

Ab Wheel
Leg Raise with Hip Lift
Reverse Modified Hyper Extension
Anyone out there looking to lift their rear bit (let's be honest, who isn't), incorporate this exercise into your routine.  This move was killer - literally.  The burn you feel in the upper glutes is acute, severe and a clear indication of the potential results. 

Land Mines
4.  Squat and Bench Press Circuit:  4 sets, alternating, less than a minute rest between sets
      - Squats:
           1st set:  55 lbs x 15
           2nd set:  65 lbs x 12
           3rd set:  75 lbs x 10
           4th set:  85 lbs x 8
      - Bench Press
           1st set:  50 lbs x 15
           2nd set:  55 lbs x 12
           3rd set:  60 lbs x 10
           4th set:  65 lbs x 8

Squats (more guaranteed rear shaping)
Bench Press
5.  Circuit:  4 sets of each, alternating 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest
      - TRX rows
      - Reverse alternating lunges

TRX Rows
Reverse Alternating Lunges

Chipotle Black Bean Hummus

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I'm a snacker.

The chances of me making it between meals without a bite of something are zero.  Even the thought of a snackless day makes my stomach grumble.  Having accepted this weakness of mine, I try to always have snacks on hand that are healthy to tide me over until the next meal. 

For the longest time, I was buying the Black Bean Hummus by Eat Well Enjoy Life, which is really delicious.  However, because my taste buds prefer a little less sweet, and little more spice and cumin, and also because I like to put my cooking skills to the test whenever possible, I decided to create my own black bean hummus.

I started with the ingredients listed on the Eat Well Enjoy Life label, subtracted a few (i.e. corn, pecans, soy sauce, potassium sorbate (of course)), and added a few of my own (i.e. green pepper, cumin, cilantro), and came up with this.  It may not be the prettiest snack to serve to guests, but I can promise you the bowl will be scraped clean within minutes.  Lucky for you, it takes only ten minutes to whip up another batch.

It just so happens that this would be the perfect appetizer to serve with the Chicken and Kale Enchiladas Verde.

Chipotle Black Bean Hummus
Makes:  3 cups
Total Time:  10 minutes

2 cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup of cilantro, packed
1 green bell pepper chopped
1 lime, juiced 
2 chipotle peppers in adobo (for mild, I add more chipotles and/or sauce to kick it up)
1 teaspoon of adobo sauce
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon honey

Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend/process for about one minute.  Top with chopped tomatoes, more cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheese or serve plain with chips, cut veggies, pita bread, or whatever your little heart desires for dipping.  I prefer tortilla chips, but usually reach for the celery sticks for the sake of my waistline.  Store in fridge for up to a week.

Weekly Menu 5.26.13 - 6.1.13 and Weekly Wrap-up

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Weekly Menu:

Sunday: Grilled Romaine Salads Topped with Grilled Shrimp, Point Reyes Blue Cheese and Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe here)

Monday:  Burgers with Sauteed Mushrooms, Arugula and Dijon Aioli from How Sweet It Is (recipe here)

Tuesday:  Rosemary and Balsamic Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Broccoli (recipe here) - I have been using this marinade is from Williams Sonoma for years and it is simply amazing.

Wednesday: Pesto Chicken Sandwiches from Williams Sonoma Blog (recipe here)

Thursday: Scallops with Edamame Succostash - I found this recipe from Coastal Living via Pinterest, which looks very similar to my succotash.  I'm looking forward to trying it with Scallops and possibly finding tips to improve my succotash.  

Friday:  Fish Tacos

Saturday: Date Night

Weekly Wrap-up:

Plank grilling (again) on Sunday.

Whipping some Greek Yogurt Banana Bread (one chocolate, one strawberry) on Monday.

Out to dinner on the inlet on Tuesday.

Grilling pizzas on Wednesday.

Surviving (and enjoying) my first run on Thursday.

Sipping a Paloma on Friday.

Thoroughly enjoying this view on Saturday.

Not Half Bad

Friday, May 24, 2013

So first things first, I have to tell you my first day of the "0 to 5k" App challenge really wasn't half bad.  In fact, it was actually rather enjoyable.  My mom was staying at the beach this week, so she decided to join me (which required me to switch up the play list - but I didn't mind a bit because I find working out much more enjoyable with company).  We headed out at 6:00 am and chose a route along the waterfront in Murrells Inlet.  The morning air was cool and we had the sleepy inlet to ourselves with the exception of a group of elderly men drinking their morning coffee and shooting the breeze on the docks.   It was  honestly the perfect start to my day.
I'm looking forward to tomorrow morning's run, and I'm thinking I may take this guy with me.

"I won't suffer in silence woman"
Also, my friend Katherine recently moved to the inlet for the foreseeable future, and she has agreed to start running with me in the mornings.  Nothing like running partners to hold you accountable!

Today's Workout: 

1. Sled Drags:  3 trips
       - 95 lbs x 50 yards

2.  Ab Circuit
      - Ab wheel x 15
      - Knee raises x 20
      - Turkish get-ups 40 lbs bag x 3 per side

Ab Wheel
Knee Raises
Turkish Get-Ups
In control...
Keeping it together...
WTH happened?

3.  Circuit: 4 sets, alternating, less than a minute rest between sets
      - Dead lifts:
           1st set:  90 lbs x 15
           2nd set:  110 lbs x 12
           3rd set:  130 lbs x 8
           4th set:  150 lbs x 5
      - Overhead Press
           1st set:  45 lbs x 15
           2nd set:  50 lbs x 12
           3rd set:  55 lbs x 8
           4th set:  60 lbs x 5
     - Band Assisted Pull-ups
           1st set:   x 15
           2nd set:  x 12
           3rd set:   x 8
           4th set:  x 5

Overhead Press
I hope you all have a fabulous and safe Memorial Day weekend!  Our office is closing at 3:00, giving me an early start to a weekend full of lots of cooking, a workout or two, good times with friends and family, and a little R&R in the sun.  

Chicken and Kale Enchiladas Verde with a Avocado, Cilantro & Lime Yogurt Sauce

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What is it about warm weather that makes me crave Mexican food?

Well, I guess I should say makes me crave ice cold Coronas with a tangy lime, blood orange Margaritas with extra salt, or a fizzy Palomas.  But a girls gotta eat (especially if said girl is imbibing tequila), and Mexican food pairs so well with Mexican cocktails.  When in Mexico.... or when in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina with a margarita in hand dreaming of being in Mexico, on a beach, with a tan.  Which brings me to this recipe.  You follow?

Good, 'cause this recipe does not disappoint.  It is the result of numerous attempts on my part to create the perfect enchiladas verde recipe.

I started with a canned enchilada sauce.  As you can imagine, that left a lot to be desired.  In addition to the strikes for the inclusion all of the impossible to pronounce ingredients, it also had a bitter metallic like taste.  No thanks.  

I then went on to the Frontera line of Mexican Everyday's Green Enchilada sauce.  This sauce is actually very tasty and contains no preservatives or impossible to pronounce ingredients.  I would certainly recommend this for a "quick fix", with the qualification that I am confident that you can make an even tastier sauce at home.

Which is exactly what I decided to do.  And after watching how simple verde sauce is to throw together on a cooking show (I think it was one of the Triple D episodes - I LOVE that show), I set out to make my own.  The result is a tangy, citrusy tomatillo sauce with a hint of smokiness from the char and the perfect amount of bite.  I'm pretty sure I ate about a bowl of this in spoonful "tastes" before it ever made its way onto the enchiladas.  

If I had happened to have tortilla chips on hand, this recipe would not exist for me to write about - the sauce would have been devoured.  I have plans to make this again in the future to serve as a dip.

And, as far as Mexican food goes, these enchiladas are pretty dang healthy.  They have kale for pete's sake.  In case you haven't heard, kale is the current celebrity of the "super food" category.  But don't let its uber fad-like popularity turn you off; kale is actually really tasty and it is in fact really good for you. Win-win.

And when I say they are healthy, let me qualify that by saying that they are healthy until you proceed to dump a mountain of cheese on top like I did.  In which case I'd argue its still healthy(ish), only with a few more fat grams.   If you want to avoid those delicious cheesy fat grams, I reckon you could omit the cheese.  Although I do not recommend it.  Enchiladas without cheese would be like eating spaghetti without the sauce, french fries without ketchup (or mayo if you're into that kind of thing) or (gasp) a BLT without the bacon.  

It's just wrong. Ten kinds of wrong.

And because it's healthy, you can use all those calories you saved to enjoy that Corona, Margarita or Paloma.  You earned it.

And with that kind of logic, it shouldn't be too hard for you to figure out why this non-runner has started running. 

Chicken and Kale Enchiladas Verde with a Avocado, Cilantro & Lime Yogurt Sauce
Serves:  4
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time:  30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

2 pounds of tomatillos (about 6), husked and washed
2 Anaheim peppers, seeded and halved
2 jalapenos, seeded and halved
1/2 yellow onion, quartered
4 coves of garlic, peel on
1 lime
1/2 cup of green onion, diced
1 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons of cumin
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of coconut oil

Yogurt Sauce
1/2 cup of Greek yogurt
1 avocado, diced
1 lime
5 tablespoons of Corona*
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro

10 corn tortillas
8 chicken thighs 
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped fine
1 red pepper, seed and chopped
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 bunch of kale, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 tablespoons of cumin
1 teaspoon of chili poweder
2 teaspoons of salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil


For Chicken:  Fill a large pot with chicken, cover with water and add garlic powder.   Bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes until cooked through.  Drain chicken and allow to cool.    Remove chicken from bone and shred.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add one tablespoon of olive oil and add kale.  Mix well, cover and allow to cook for 5 minutes.  Once kale has cooked down, drain into a colander.  Reheat pan over medium high heat, add onions and cook 5-10 minutes until soft.  Add minced garlic, red pepper and jalapeno and cook for another 4 minutes.  Add kale and diced tomatoes and cook for an additional minute.  Add tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, and salt and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.   

For Yogurt Sauce: In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients for yogurt sauce and blend until smooth, about a minute.  Store in fridge until enchiladas are ready. 

For Enchilada Sauce:   Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Arrange whole tomatillos, quartered onion, and peppers (cut side down) on a baking sheet brushed with coconut oil. Roast for 10 minute until tops of peppers and tomatillos are black. Allow to cool for a few minutes.  In a food processor or blender, add roasted tomatillos, peppers, onion and garlic (remove peel), juice of one lime, cilantro, green onion, cumin and salt and blend until combined but still a little chunky.

To assemble enchiladas, preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Pour enough verde sauce in bottom of a 9x12 or 8x8 casserole dish to cover bottom.  One by one, fill corn tortillas with chicken filling, roll up enchiladas, and arrange in casserole dish.  Top with remaining verde sauce and cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Serve with boozy yogurt sauce. 

Tip:  To save time, you can boil chicken the day before and refrigerate until time to cook.  You can also make the tomatillo sauce the day before, and even double or triple to freeze and use at a later date.  Also, I doubled the recipe and used 8x8 pans so that I have several frozen enchilada dinners in the freezer.

*So about the addition of the Corona to the yogurt sauce.  I happened to be drinking the Corona, and the yogurt sauce needed to be thinned a bit, so why not with Corona.  This should tell you a lot about my thought process.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

So tomorrow morning marks the beginning of my most recent attempt to become a runner (Yes, I've tried this many a time before, and yes, I sucked at it every time.  What's the definition of insanity again?) 

I'm scared. 

As with most people, music is a significant motivator in my workouts - it helps get me moving and keep me moving.   So I created this playlist to use in collaboration with the "0 to 5K" App I downloaded the other day.  Hopefully, these jams will pump me up and motivate me to run straight through that 5k on the first day.  

Yeah right, I'm just hoping they help me survive.  Wish me luck!

Today's workout:

1. Sled Drags
      - 70 lbs x 50 yards
      - 95 lbs x 50 yards
      - 120 lbs x 50 yards

Pretty sure 120 lbs is a record for me... sure as hell felt like one.
Not to be outdone by a girl, he races ahead.
2. Ab Circuit
      - Ab wheel x 15
      - L sit-ups x 20
      - Hammer hits 8 lbs hammer x 20 per side

Ab Wheel and His Highness Stealing the Frame
L Sit-ups
3. Circuit:  4 sets, alternating, less than a minute rest between sets
      - Bench Press:
           1st set:  55 lbs x 15
           2nd set:  60 lbs x 12
           3rd set:  65 lbs x 8
           4th Set:  70 lbs x 5
      - Chest supported row  20 lbs x 15
      - Kettle bell swings 35 lbs x 20 (over head)

Bench Press
Chest Supported Row
4.  Circuit:  2 sets, less than a minute rest between sets
     - Walking lunges x 10 per leg
     - Tricep Extensions 10 lbs + resistance band x 10
     - Alternating Curls 20 lbs x 10

Walking Lunges (aka Butt Lifters)
Tricep Extensions with Resistance Band (and a little sniffing inspection)
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