Monday, July 5, 2010

Road Tripping in CT Volume 1

One of my favorite things to do is to take mini road trips around my state to explore new places or visit old favorites. I took advantage of the long holiday weekend to visit an old favorite, the amazing patisserie and chocolatier, Belgique! The shop is located on Bridge Street in the town of Kent. I first found this shop a few years back through my wonderful sister, Sugar Bear. Belgique is a good hour or more drive from where I live but trust me it's worth it. I just love the adorable little yellow building with the red awning. The second you walk through the door you are greeted with the most wonderful aroma of chocolate. The chocolate is made in the traditional Belgian style, contains all natural ingredients, and best of all is 100% preservative free! Because of this the shop owner will politely tell you to consume the chocolates within two weeks. I just nod and smile because they'd never last that long at my house!
Here's a snap shot of the goodies I picked up. Of the ones I tried so far my favorites are a white chocolate seashell with a coffee buttercream filling and a dark chocolate cup filled with vanilla buttercream. I actually think I moaned with pleasure when eating the vanilla one (blush)! The shop also has a case with some delicious looking chocolate cakes, fruit tarts, and pastries. Their iced chocolate drink is rumored to be out of this world. I have yet to try it so I can't weigh in on this one. Although just say the word and I will happily go back and taste test it for you.
Another thing I love about quaint little shops like Belgique is that they tend to pay careful attention to the details. The box my chocolates came packed in is absolutely adorable and tied ever so lovingly with a black ribbon printed with Belgique in gold. So if you live in Connecticut or ever find yourself visiting, I definitely recommend checking out Belgique!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mushroom Pizza with a Surprise

When I saw this recipe for Mushroom Pizza on the Food Network show, Ask Aida, I just knew I wanted to give it a try. I was really curious about the idea of putting a fried egg on top of the pizza. The verdict? Aida knows her pizza...because it was delicious. Here is the recipe below. I tweaked a couple of the ingredients in an attempt to make it a bit healthier and I will tell you what I did as I type.

Herb Roasted Mushrooms with Fried Egg

1 1/4 lbs. button or cremini mushrooms (I used baby bellas cause I thought they would be tastier)
1/4 cup olive oil
4 sprigs rosemary
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 (1 lb.) store bought pizza crust (I bought a whole wheat one...yum!)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
8 oz. ricotta (I used part skim)
1 large egg

Heat oven to 450 degrees F and arrange rack in the middle.

Combine mushrooms, 3 tablespoons oil, and rosemary on a baking sheet. Season with salt and black pepper and toss to coat. Place in oven and roast until mushrooms are shrunken and browned. About 20 minutes. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and toss to coat. This smells great by the way and would probably be delicious all on it's own!

Scatter half the Parmesan on the pizza. Discard rosemary and arrange mushrooms on the top. Distribute the ricotta across the top and drizzle with the remaining Parmesan and a little extra olive oil. Bake until the crust is browned and the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a small frying pan over medium heat, and add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add egg and fry until set, bubbly, and brown on the edges. Carefully add remaining 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and cook until the vinegar is reduced and syrupy. When I added the vinegar to the pan things got a little smoky. Make sure to turn the fan on above your stove. I didn't at first and my smoke detector got a bit angry!

Place egg on top of pizza, drizzle balsamic reduction over pizza and enjoy!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Childlike Motivation

Thanks to everyone for their happy vacation wishes. Aruba was such a beautiful and relaxing place. Everyday was bright sunny and in the 90's. I am someone that thrives in such weather so when I came home to two days of overcast unseasonably cool weather it was a bit of a let down. I found myself starting to contact the PADS (Post Aruba Depression Syndrome) that the pilot had joked about on the flight home. I need to snap out of this I told myself and so I laced up my running shoes and hit the pavement. The crummy weather and the week of indulgence while away wasn't doing much to motivate my run and so I decided I needed to figure out a quick remedy. The best solution I could think of was to run somewhere I've never run before and so I veered off my usual neighborhood route and soon found myself near the entrance to my elementary school. "How fun will it be to do a lap around my old school!" I thought and I was so right! It was great to run through the school yard and reminisce about my friends and teachers. As I ran past the playground and saw the swings, I remembered how they were always my favorite. I also remembered the feeling of flight and weightlessness they always provide... a feeling that is awfully similar to the feeling I get on a great run. After I completed my lap, I ran home with a big smile on my face! It's amazing how a little change of scenery can change not only your mood but also your athletic performance. Photo from

Later that day, I decided I needed to hit the grocery store and stock up on some of the fruits and veggies that I neglected a little on vacation. Boy oh boy was I surprised and excited to see that cherries were back for the season! Cherries are my absolute favorite fruit and it's always a bummer that they are only available for such a short time every year. It was then that I realized I had found two positives in a day that started out dark and gray. Maybe life in New England ain't so bad afterall!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thank yous, Internet Problems and a Caribbean Escape!

Hi Everyone! I just wanted to take a moment to thank all my old friends, new friends, and family that have been checking out my blog and offering encouragement and support. I truly appreciate it. A very special thank you to my sissy, Sugar Bear, for posting about my blog on her blog. She is always saying how she has met some really great people in Blog Land and I got to experience that last week when some of you stopped by and welcomed me with such kind words. If I haven't already stopped by your blog, trust that I will be doing so soon. I also want to apologize because I wanted to write this post sooner but have been experiencing Internet problems for the last several days. Turns out the jack my router was plugged into shorted out. Whoops...a techie challenged person like me needs several days to realize this.

Also I wanted to say this will be my last post for a week or so as I will be leaving for Aruba in a couple days! A special shout out to my college buddy Mo Mo for asking me! SHU-Box forever! :-)

Anyway, I look forward to writing more when I get back and reading the posts of my new Blog Land buddies. Ya'll take care till then!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Peanut, peanut butter!

My late Grandfather had a very dominant strand of the Peanut Butter Lover gene and I inherited it so you can imagine my excitement when I came across a homemade peanut butter cups recipe in Alicia Silverstone's book "The Kind Diet." I was also intrigued by the concept of a vegan version of a favorite guilty pleasure. If you find yourself equally intrigued then give it a try...the results will not disappoint!

Some see empty paper cups...I see the promise of what's to come! Any who, here's what you need to fill these with peanut buttery goodness.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Makes 12
1/2 cup soy butter
3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter (preferably unsweetened and unsalted)
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 10 squares)
1/4 cup maple sugar
1 cup grain-sweetened, nondairy chocolate chips
1/4 cup soy, rice, or nut milk
1/4 cup chopped pecans, almonds, or peanuts
Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs, and maple sugar and mix well. (You will also want to inhale deeply at this point as the peanut butter mixture smells amazing!)
Remove the mixture from the heat. Evenly divide the mixture, approximately 2 tablespoons per cup, among the muffin cups.

Combine the chocolate and milk in another pan. Stir over medium heat until the chocolate has melted. (One thing I noticed is the texture of the grain-sweetened chocolate was not as smooth when melted as regular chocolate.)

Spoon the chocolate evenly over the peanut butter mixture. Top with chopped nuts. Place in the refrigerator to set for at least 2 hours before serving.

Here is what my finished peanut butter cups looked like. I kept mine stored in the refrigerator and also stuck some in the freezer for a later date (they held up just fine). One thing I recommend is to take the peanut butter cups out of the refrigerator for about half an hour or so before eating them. I think you taste the flavors better if they are more room temperature then straight from the frig cold. No matter how you serve them though...enjoy!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mantras for Our Dreams

I believe that a personal mantra can help you through many, many challenges in life, athletic or otherwise, which is why I want to share mine with you today. First, here's the back story behind it. I am definitely a person that lives with their head in the clouds at times. Often when I daydream I think of myself going for a run at some fantastic location. Vermont country roads at the peak of autumn, along the rim of the Grand Canyon, along the wine trail in Napa...

...but my absolute favorite dream run would have to be through the Pyramids of Egypt. I just think they are so amazingly beautiful that just thinking of running there gives me a freeing feeling. Two years ago I began training for my first half-marathon and needed some help getting through those longer runs. So I would picture myself in Egypt in my mind and say to myself, "Won't stop until I touch the Sphinx." mantra was born. Repeating my mantra whenever I feel tired or my mind toys with the idea of stopping always helps to bring me back in my run and keep chugging along to the finish. Using a mantra has helped me to realize that my body is not made of glass and that when I push myself, I can achieve great things. That realization is a powerful thing itself! How have mantras helped you achieve great things?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

On your mark…get set…GO!

After reading blogs for many years and with some gentle encouragement from my sister, Sugar Bear, I have decided it is time to start a blog all my own. I'd like my blog to focus on my two biggest hobbies of running and cooking. I've met some interesting people and made some great friends through my running experiences through the years. These people have taught me that every runner has a unique bag of tricks that powers them through their "I've never felt so amazing" runs and their "My legs are burning and my lungs are full of lead" runs. I'm excited to share some of my tricks with you and hear some of yours as well. I'm also a self proclaimed health nut and I'd love to blog about some of the healthy and nutritious recipes I've come across and the occasional not so healthy recipe (cause life is all about having fun, after all). Thanks for reading and please drop by again sometime!