Saturday, May 29, 2010

There goes that idea...

Yeah, um so much for posting during the week and catching up on my overflowing Google Reader! As usual, I've got quite a massive and random post for you guys. Hopefully these will disappear once I get settled in my new home!

Let's see...I left you with Lost and mattress shopping. Exciting stuff. Tuesday night's run was super quick. Instead of the usual out and back route by the water, our run took us through the Presidio for a not so flat, not so hilly change of pace. My tummy got a bit grumpy with me so instead of pushing it up the Fort Mason hill for the last mile, I cut my run short to a mere 3 miles. Eh, sometimes it happens. Of course the bathrooms were locked by the time we got back. D'oh!

I wasn't about to miss the weekly group dinner, so I hoofed it over to Let's Be Frank on Steiner for some hot dogs. I like a good hot dog every now and then...I've become pretty picky lately, though. Rumor has it these were pretty legit dogs, plus I think there was a 20% off special? Who knows.

Just a couple storefronts down from Askew Grill, Let's Be Frank is an itty bitty, brightly colored shop that has a very distinct and delicious hot smell just wafting from it. YUM. I was concerned that we wouldn't fit (seating is limited to a couple tables outside and some bench seating inside - did I mention it was a little misty out?) I was torn between the "Hot" Dog (spicy family-farmed pork sausage) and the "Not" Dog (vegetarian Italian-style sausage) since someone mentioned the veggie dogs were pretty good. I ended up going with my gut and getting the "Hot" Dog...with Devil Sauce.
I need a jar of Devil Sauce in my life. So I expected a spicy relish of some sort, maybe a chunky sauce reminiscent of chili? Not at all. This sauce is AMAZING. It wasn't painfully spicy (especially on my spicy dawg) and there was a surprising curry-ish flavor. Or at least that's what I thought it tasted like. Can't wait to grab a bottle to experiment with!

Wednesday night was a huge night for me since I picked up my apartment keys!! YAY! I wandered around the new neighborhood for a bit until Selin met me for dinner and we decided sushi was a must. Where did we go? Sushi Groove. We drove on Hyde Street and saw a ton of cute bistro-y places and I thought the street was cute in general. Apparently Sushi Groove has legit sushi, so naturally that's where we ended up.

We split a few fun rolls:
Mermaid's Tail (spicy scallops wrapped with crispy shrimp tempura inside and avocado, cucumber aioli and wasabi infused tobiko), Gilligan (spicy tuna and cucumber inside, layers of bonito outside and finished with ginger, scallions and ponzu), Kamikaze Roll (salmon, avocado, scallions and tobiko), and a Wayne's World Roll (yellowtail, salmon, spicy sauce and cucumber rolled inside out with tobiko and scallions). Also added to the list were a couple pieces of the Tuna Caliente Nigiri (tuna diced with ginger, garlic, tobiko, jalapeno and soy).
Everything was fantastic...except for the Gilligan and I think it's because I expected bonito flakes. I've never had bonito before and it's a very fishy tasting fish. Kinda up there with mackerel. It wasn't terrible, just really not my thing. The Tuna Caliente was super caliente! I loved the flavors going on in it and I thought it would be great as a maki roll!

We didn't get out of dinner until about 10 (they were super slammed and gave us some edamame for free as we waited - yay!) and then we trekked over to the apartment so Selin could check out the new digs (slash advise on layout). Tastebuds satisfied and belly full, we headed back home and I passed the f out. SO exhausted.

I passed on my Thursday run (tsk, tsk!) to be productive and head to Bed Bath & Beyond for a few essentials and seal the deal on my mattress. WOO! I thought it was worthy of an excused absence, don't you? For dinner, I got a little experimental since I had lentils and tofu leftover from previous meals. I present to you Spiced Lentils with Tofu!
Not exactly the most photogenic dish, but it was pretty tasty in my opinion. A good effort considering what I had to work with!

Spiced Lentils with Tofu
1/2 package cooked lentils
1/2 block high protein tofu, diced
1/4 onion thinly sliced
1 tbsp garam masala
1/3 c spinach
1/3 c chicken broth
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sriracha sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp grated ginger

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add tofu and brown for about 5 minutes. Add onion and cook until onion starts to turn translucent. Add garam masala, salt, garlic powder and sriracha. Cook for 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and lentils and cook for another 4-5 minutes before stirring in spinach and ginger. Cook for another 3-5 minutes and serve.

This made just enough for dinner and lunch the next day. Again, I wish I had some other spices to play with, but not bad for what I used!

Friday night's pre-long run meal was...wait for it...
PUPUSAS! Of course. This time they were from the original La Santaneca and they were GLORIOUS. Made my evening!

I popped out of bed around 7am this morning to do an early run with a friend from the running group. We both needed to be places late this morning so we agreed to meet up at 8 to knock out our 7 mile route. SO great to chat while running again! We knocked out a super easy 7 miles in 1:15 with a hill and no tourists (thank god). It felt so good to get everything done before 9:30 :)

I was starving by the time I got back and it was a good thing since we had plans for bottomless sangria brunch at Don Pisto's! When we got there everyone was already set up with some chips and guac and 2 generous pitchers of sangria. Delicious and somewhat fizzy sangria. It went down very nicely :\

To fill my empty belly, I had some Huevos Rancheros
Not too large or too small a portion, I polished this puppy off in no time. Doused in some hot sauce, those eggs and cheese and beans and mmmmmm. Hit the spot. Did I mention the perfectly sunny side up egg and bits of avocado?? YUM. I kinda wish there was a 3rd one instead of potatoes on the that so wrong? haha.

I had to skip out of brunch early since my mattress arrived early. So much for delivering within a set window. Jeebus. For some reason I'm hungry again. Surprise. Welcome back, bottomless pit summer. I'll probably post more this weekend. Lots of fun stuff going on! How are you guys celebrating the long weekend?? Hope you're eating well!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Time to catch up!

Jeebus. It's been awhile! Ever get those weekends that just completely slip away from you? I've been meaning to post for the past few days, but each time I ended up being too tired or in no mood to sit at the computer. Sometimes it just happens...and when it does, you guys get one of these ginormous posts!

I believe I left y'all hanging as I went on my first Sunset Run last week. First of all, this whole getting to a run at 6:30pm on a weeknight is a little harder than I thought. I sampled some of these since I had empty afternoon belly syndrome
and booked it to the Marina Green, getting there just in time to check my bag and pick up my shirt. The Honey Stinger Chews were actually pretty good and didn't give me any tummy issues. Hurrah!

Thankfully there was a raffle planned for before the run (yours truly didn't win anything) so we had a few minutes to get settled before we were off. It was a spectacular evening for a run - slightly warm with a bit of a breeze...paired with a gorgeous sunset along the water. We ran out to Hopper's Hands and back to log in little over 5 miles.

50 minutes later, I found myself back at our starting point with the DJ blasting some fun music and some fun snackies for everyone:
For some reason the popchips screamed my name. Pretty sure I needed salt.

Once the sun went down, the temperature dropped fast and I wasn't dressed appropriately in my capris and fleece. I grabbed a bagel and shivered a few blocks to the bus stop. Once I got home, dinner was an o so random selection of grape tomatoes and snap peas with Trader Joe's Edamame Hummus. What can I say? I was craving crispy, fresh veggies!
The hummus was ok...nothing to write home about. I didn't love it, didn't hate it, but I probably won't buy it again.

Half day Friday sort of happened this week and I made sure to pack a snack just in case I didn't get out on time. In my bag went this Luna Dulce de Leche bar:
SO glad I threw that in there. I was pretty busy so I didn't leave until close to 3 and no lunch for me! Badbadbad!

Eventually dinnertime rolled around and we headed over to Henry's Hunan in Noe Valley. Do I really need to tell you the first thing that came to our table?? TWO MEAT PIES hahhaa. Don't judge. There were 5 of us! I was SO excited for meat pies...the wonderfully salty, meaty filling with the crisp and refreshing lettuce and crispy, fried goodness that is the flour tortilla. AAAHHHH.

We learned our lesson from last time and split 3 other dishes family style. First up was the Spicy Curry Chow Mein with Chicken:
It reminded me of Singapore Noodles, but with fatter, squishier noodles. It also packed quite a punch!

Once our mouths were nice and warmed up, the Shredded Beef with Bell Peppers arrived:
Also a fire in the mouth dish...which was then followed by the spiciest (or maybe it just seemed like it after all eating everything else) dish of the night: Hot Prawns with Green Beans. Yeah, at this point, I forgot to whip out the phone to take a picture.

Everything was delicious and filling, but definitely saltier than I usually like. Let's just say I woke up to get water at least 3 times that night. In fact, I was a little concerned about my run the next morning. Oops.

Saturday morning was sunny, breezy (noticing a trend?) and a comfortable 50ish degrees. I hauled my butt out of bed and out of the apartment by 9am and once again, BARELY made it to the run on time...damn you bus schedule!! We did a quick warm up and then set off on our first 'long run' of the training season. I was scheduled for a 6 miler, but told myself I'd decide at the turn around point whether or not I was going to drop it down to 5. I felt surprisingly good the whole time so 6 miles it was!

I learned a few lessons that day...
  1. 50 degrees is only cold when you're not running
  2. 50 degree weather gear = capris, tshirt, thin pullover
  3. I'm bound to get lost even when I pay attention to the course description
  4. hitting start on your watch is always a good thing to do, especially if you're trying to time yourself
Yep, I forgot to hit start on my watch so I have absolutely no idea how fast I went. I know it felt like an easy run and afterward I was chatting with a couple girls and we figured it must have been done at 10 minute pace. Not too shabby for the first long run back!

I had to scoot out quickly to get some stuff taken care of at the new apartment (yay!) before heading out on a touristy excursion with a friend. Yeah...this starting at 9:30am on a Saturday is cramping my weekend schedule. Maybe it'll force me to run faster so I can get more done? HA.

After a long hot shower, I met up with a friend at Pier 39. Neither of us had ever been before, so it seemed like an appropriate Saturday afternoon activity...until we both realized we don't deal well with crowds. D'oh! We ended up doing a quick walk through, popping into the not so crowded stores and trying not to get blown away while watching sea lions
Um, it smelled all sorts of unpleasant over there. I have no idea why anyone would want to stand as close as those people were standing. Clearly we had a good view from above. Talk about a pile of lazy pinnipeds (you like how I just busted out a word from elementary school science class?? haha).

Friend and I moseyed toward Fisherman's Wharf in hopes that we'd find a crab stand. Friend mentioned she remembered standing and eating whole crabs before so we were on a mission. A little while later...TA DA!
We found the crab stand street! For $12.95/lb, the vendors pick out a decent sized crab for you and the guy behind the counter starts whacking it apart. A little bit of melted butter, a crapton of lemon slices, some cocktail sauce, and voila!
Commence first Dungeness crab experience.

Now I've mentioned that my very first whole crab experience was in Maryland, yes? We remember I'm an East coast girl, correct? Ok. So the dungeness's a big crab compared to the trusty blue crab. That's the first thing I notice. Second thing is that the claws actually have meat in them. Hey now!

As I snacked on my first piece of Dungeness crab meat, I immediately took note of the texture. This had a texture similar to a King crab (?). I guess you could say it was meatier? Then I noticed that the meat was a little sweeter than a good ol' Maryland blue crab. It was strangely delicious AND super easy to eat! Am I a convert? Not just yet, but I'm very excited to learn how California does crabs :)

With Sunday came a delicious birthday barbecue in Burlingame followed by dinner at home for the Lost finale (sniffle, sniffle). Selin was itching to use her new indoor grill, so we ended up making some Thai Inspired Grilled Beef Skewers with a Papaya Mango Noodle Salad. Nice and tropical for the last Lost episode EVER. Are any of you Lost fans? Thoughts on the finale? I felt a little gipped, but I'll accept it as an ending. I've never followed a tv series for that long before...SIX YEARS!

Thai Inspired Grilled Beef Skewers
1.2 lbs flank or skirt steak, pounded thin
1/4 c ponzu
1/4 c soy sauce
juice of 2 limes
1 tsp chili garlic paste
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp ginger, grated

Lay steak flat in a large rectangular glass dish. Whisk together ponzu, soy sauce, lime juice, chili garlic paste, brown sugar, oil, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper. pour over steak to coat and let marinate for 25 minutes. Flip steak over and let marinate for another 15-20 minutes.

Cut into large pieces and return to marinade for another 20 minutes. Skewer pieces and grill for 5-7 minutes on each side. Serve over rice, greens or noodle salad.

Papaya Mango Noodle Salad
1 papaya, slightly unripe, julienned
1 mango, slightly unripe, julienned
1/3 c carrots, julienned
1/3 c cucumber, julienned
1 package mung bean noodles, rehydrated
1/4 c mint, chopped
2 tbsp scallions, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp water
juice of one lime
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 tbsp chili garlic paste
1/4 tsp salad oil
pinch salt

Combine noodles, papaya, mango, scallion, mint, carrots and cucumber in a bowl. Set aside.

Whisk together sugar, water, lime, fish sauce, chili garlic paste, oil and salt. Pour over noodles and toppings. Stir and let sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes.

The beef was fantastic in my opinion. I'm so glad it had time to soak up all the tart/sweet/spicy flavors. In hindsight, I think I'd redo the noodle salad with rice noodles. I think they'd hold the dressing a little better. Ah well, you cook and you learn, right? Right.

Tonight, after some intense mattress shopping (who knew it was such a process??), I made it home with the intent to make something reminiscent of Chana Masala. I grabbed a package of Garam Masala, some brown rice (TJ's was out of the frozen Jasmine rice I want to try), tomato and onion. I was convinced I packed some curry powder and turmeric when I moved, but no such luck finding them :(

Instead I made do with what was in the kitchen and hoped it turned out okay. Enter Indian Spiced Chickpeas with Mango and Spinach.

Indian Spiced Chickpeas with Mango and Spinach
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 c baby spinach leaves
1 tbsp cilantro
1.5 tbsp garam masala
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
1 mango, chopped

Heat butter and olive oil in a small pot. Saute onion until translucent. Add garlic, garam masala and cayenne. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato, chickpeas, spinach, cilantro and mango.
Lower heat to medium low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I really wish I had those extra spices to give this dish a little more flavor. Overall, it wasn't too bad...just missing something. I think that's why I ended up adding the mango. I was stumped and stared at the extra mango sitting on the counter! Mango is surprisingly good w/chickpeas and garam masala!

Of course, whenever I have something really savory and spicy, I crave something sweet. Lucky me, I grabbed a package of Fat Free Fig Newtons yesterday
Yeah, that's right. Fat free. There are very few foods I prefer in fat-free/low-fat form. Fig Newtons are one of them mostly because of the cake texture (and no, I don't want to know why it's firmer than the regular ones). Milk is another thing I prefer in fat-free form. What about you?

Ok, as usual it's getting late and I need to be up early tomorrow. Seriously need to stop sleeping at midnight! Hope everyone is having a great start to their week!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

One run at a time

Hey all! Meant to post last night, but I was too tired to type. Why? Last night was my first training run of the season! Hooray :)

So we met at the Marina Green and set off on our runs. My run was 4 miles...that ended with a friendly little hill (remember this one?)
Yeah...I think I'm going to have to start making friends with hills. I am happy to report that despite that little speed bump, I was able to knock out those 4 miles in just over 38 minutes...and felt good! Woo!! I'm FINALLY getting some speed back :)

Afterward I totally braved the akwardness and went to the group dinner at Askew Grill in the Marina.
It was a quick walk from the Marina Green and sort of near my bus stop. I teeter tottered b/c it was totally out of my comfort zone, but I knew I really should mingle. So I did. And I'm glad I did.

I was a little overwhelmed by the menu, but finally settled on a Cilantro Lime Chicken Skewer (roma tomatoes, red onions and coconut cilantro jasmine rice - not really sure where that rice was?) with the Chop Salad (mixed greens, mango, tomato, onion, cilantro, celery, carrots, candied almonds, green onion, parmesan, honey lime vinaigrette). No picture, had to reserve battery power on the phone.

It was the perfect amount of food once it actually got to the table. In all fairness, I will say that we kinda bombarded the folks at the restaurant when like 20 or so hungry runners came storming in. I like to think the service is a little faster on any other given day? The skewer I picked went perfectly with the salad...I was a little worried at first with the celery (I usually don't put celery in my salad), but it was a really nice crunch and clean flavor. I'd totally get it again!

I passed on our second Alpha Bar attempt tonight, partly because I thought it was next week and partly because I wanted to rest up for tomorrow night. What's going on tomorrow night? My first Sunset Run! Yes, I'm excited about a 5 mile non competitive run. Whatever, it was $10 and all of that goes to a charity (this week it's L'Athletique d'Haiti). Plus we get a nifty shirt and it's a fun run. Can't wait.

So for dinner tonight, I wanted some ruffage in salad form, but then my tastebuds started craving a grain of some sort. I ended up combining the two and making a Mustardy Brown Rice Salad
I think there are some shortcuts that can be made, but I ended up taking the long approach :\

Mustardy Brown Rice Salad
1 package Trader Joe's Organic Frozen Brown Rice
2 tbsp chives, chopped
2 roasted piquillo peppers, chopped
1 c mache
1/4 c arugula
1/4 c candied almonds (see below)
2 tbsp dijon mustard vinaigrette (see below)
1/2 block tofu, baked and sliced

Microwave brown rice according to directions, empty into a bowl with chives, arugula and mache to cool. Add peppers, almonds and vinaigrette, toss and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes.
Add tofu slices last, mix once more and serve immediately with a sprinkle of almonds.

Candied Almonds
1/2 c sliced almonds
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp butter, melted
pinch cayenne
pinch garlic powder

Preheat oven to 450. Combine ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Spread out on cookie sheet and bake for 3-5 minutes, making sure almonds do not burn. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
juice of one lemon
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp olive oil

Whisk all ingredients together.

Dinner hit the spot! The only thing I'd change about it is maybe throw in a little something sweet...maybe a couple mango pieces? I thought it was a great blend of grain, crunch, ruffage and tang. This will definitely make a repeat appearance :)

K. I'm turning in now. I'm all caught up on Lost (last night's episode - WTF?!) and I've got an extra early day of work tomorrow. Will definitely let you know how the run goes. Nitey :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

The aftermath...

You knew it was coming. There's no denying this weekend was full of not so healthy eats. It happens and I pay for it afterward. Dinner on Saturday consisted of a variety of Trader Joe's Pizzas (my fave was a cornmeal crust one) and a massive salad with miso dressing. All delicious and comforting, but not the healthiest of dinners.

After a Sunday of beverages a plenty and not so healthy snackums (goat gouda, salami, bread, baked cheese snacks, hot dogs), I needed some ruffage. Big time. Today was a little chilly and gloomy so a crisp salad wasn't going to cut it.

For lunch I actually wanted a sammich - pretty rare, so I gave into the craving. Selin had mentioned that a Potbelly-esque place was near my office so I gave it a shot. The Toaster Oven on Spear smelled exactly like Potbelly, but looked a bit fancier. Another slight difference - NO CHICKEN SALAD! Sadness :(

I went with the Tuna Salad on Wheat, no cheese, with L/T/O and hot peppers
Upon first glance, the Toaster Oven sammich looked very similar to the Potbelly sammich...down to the bag. Here's the breakdown of my lunchtime adventure:
  1. Hot peppers weren't as oily as the Potbelly ones. Two thumbs up.
  2. The onion was cut a little too large for my taste - in fact I think I'm still tasting the onion right now.
  3. Something was off with the bread...I can't figure out if there was too much of it or if it wasn't toasted enough.
  4. I don't think I like tuna salad unless I make it myself.
Final verdict: It's no Potbelly and that makes me sad. I'd give The Toaster Oven another shot, maybe test out the meatball sammich before totally squashing it.

Dinner was where all the ruffage came into play. Brown Rice Lentil Bowl with Broccolini and Arugula
This is my lazy attempt at a responsible dinner.

Brown Rice Lentil Bowl with Broccolini and Arugula
1 package Trader Joe's Frozen Organic Brown Rice, prepared according to directions
2 slices canadian bacon
1/2 package Trader Joe's Steamed Ready-to-Eat Lentils
1 tbsp olive oil
1 c arugula
1 c broccolini (cut into 1 inch pieces)
1/4 c chicken broth
1 tsp chili garlic paste

Heat olive oil in a small frying pan. Saute canadian bacon over medium high heat until it starts to brown. Add lentils and cook for 5 minutes. Add arugula and allow greens to wilt. Add broccolini, chili garlic paste and chicken broth, stir and cover for 2 - 3 minutes.

Serve immediately over brown rice.

I know it's kinda boring, but it was simple and exactly what I needed. Do you like to return to simple flavored dishes from time to time?

Now that was interesting...

So guys...I had my very first Bay to Breakers experience this weekend. Apparently it's a must see/do in the city. Originally I planned to run the 12k tour of the city, but changed my mind after I saw the registration fees and learned a little more about the race.

For those of you not familiar with the famous footrace, I think my coworker put it best - "it's sort of like our Christmas and Halloween rolled into one day."

The race attracts serious runners as well as serious partiers and apparently it's THE place to be on a Sunday morning in May.

A group of us planned to set up shop in Alamo Square Park (you may know it as the Full House park haha) at 8am with some yummy adult beverages and snacks. It was a little chilly and cloudy, but ended up being a pretty decent day! We claimed some space right at the top of the super steep Hayes hill so we had a view of all the runners/walkers/drinkers as they began their descent.
It was pretty tame at first as we saw the serious runners pass by and they were followed by the quasi-serious runners that had a few nudies scattered about. O yes, did I forget to mention this race is known for the naked runners? Can't be comfortable. We watched with some calimochos in hand...ah college memories:
Eventually the partiers made their way up the hill and there were tons of costumes and ridiculous antics, like this dude over here:
Yep, he's dancing on a bus hut. It got a little more scandalous as the day went on and instead of taking pictures, I really just stared with my mouth open.

Then the random floats came by (lots of pics here), including this one:
Conveniently rolled by in the late morning, triggering the belly to scream 'I'm haawwnngry!' Oh, did I mention there was beer pong on the sidewalk and no one batted an eye? What is my new city?! I love it!

Eventually we made our way through this crowd
and snacked on some hot dogs and hung out with friends before making the trek home...where we promptly vegged out with some Pineapple Express and King of Thai Noodle. Ridiculously unproductive and irresponsible Sunday, but you know what? Sometimes you just need one of those days.