Archive for September 2011

Hawaiian Flip Flop

September 30th, 2011 — 10:57am

flipI love this Hawaiian flip flop floral arrangement my friends Julie and Matt sent me at work earlier this week to wish me good luck at my upcoming Ironman triathlon. I must admit, I didn’t initially realize it was a flip flop. Took me a while to figure out that piece, but now it seems so obvious. So cool and thoughtful. Thanks, Julie and Matt! You brightened my day!

Comment » | Racing and Training

Sharing the News

September 30th, 2011 — 6:46am

ladies-madison-mini1It’s been great fun to share the big news with family and friends. Everyone has been so excited and has helped affirm what Larry and I have always known—we make a great match! One of my favorite “unveilings” was when I met a few of my running buddies (Krista, Miranda, and Shayla) yesterday morning to fill them in on the news. I will never forget their reaction—all kinds of squeals, screams, and other sound effects ensued upon announcing the news, and continued throughout our run as I shared details. I’m not sure I’ve ever had so much fun on a run before! Krista wrote an amazing blog post yesterday to recap the experience: Start spreading the news. Just not to homeless people. It made me both tear up and laugh out loud. Krista is such a phenomenal writer, and she told the story so perfectly. What a gift!

1 comment » | Racing and Training

My Door County Weekend

September 29th, 2011 — 4:09am


Larry and I went camping in Door County this past weekend. I was excited to get away and spend time together, and enjoy some rest and relaxation before I leave for Ironman next week.


During our drive there Friday night, I was lured in by a sign in front of Scoops Ice Cream Parlor in Chilton advertising a flavor called Mmm…Bacon. Now how could I pass that up?


When we arrived at Peninsula State Park a few hours later, setting up camp was made much easier with our dual head lamps.


It was quite chilly out that night, as Larry demonstrates in this picture. Eventually, we snuggled up in our sleeping bags and tried to get some rest. We woke up in the morning to rain, which continued more or less for the rest of the weekend.


But we didn’t let a little rain spoil our adventures! After breakfast at White Gull Inn, Larry convinced me to head out on a bike ride in the rain through the park. (You may recall Larry and I met almost exactly two years ago during a bike ride.)


The rain continued to fall, so eventually we took shelter under umbrellas.


Our first stop was to Eagle Tower.


There, we climbed several stories of stairs to reach the top of the tower, where we enjoyed breathtaking views of Lake Michigan.


Despite the rain, several others were also out and about enjoying the day. We asked one of them to take our picture. After climbing back down the tower, Larry suggested we try to hike closer to the lake.


Eventually we came upon a nice secluded area overlooking the lake. Larry then put down his umbrella, wrapped his arms around my waist, gazed into my eyes, and began to talk about how he feels when he’s with me and the reasons he loves me. Both of our eyes starting welling up as I realized what was happening. Finally Larry got down on his knee and asked, will you make me the luckiest man in the world and spend the rest of your life with me?


To which I replied, Absolutely!


This made Larry jump for joy!


And together we enjoyed our beautiful moment.


And eventually rode back to our campsite in the rain.


But took a moment along the way to snap a picture of my ring, displayed as it should be, on the handlebar of my bike.


And after lunch, the sun came out for a while. And we kissed.


Then we enjoyed more of Door County.


And caught a beautiful sunset.


That night we called our parents to share the good news. Turns out my parents had known since the previous Sunday, when Larry had visited to ask for their blessing.


We stopped in Brookfield on our way home from Door County to celebrate with my parents. Larry and I had brought back apple cider for a toast.


Then we set off to my Grandma D’s to share the great news.


And then to my Grandma K’s.

So that’s the story of our weekend in Door County. We’re so happy and excited to share the good news with all of you!

9 comments » | Family Fun, Vacation and Travel

Avocado-Mango Salad

September 28th, 2011 — 7:04am

saladThe salad and entree I made for Larry’s birthday dinner were from recipes I found in Rick Bayless’s cookbook Mexican Everyday. I’m yet to find a recipe from Rick Bayless that has been anything but exceptional. The salad I chose was the Avocado-Mango Salad with Fresh (or Blue) Cheese, Bacon, and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds. The flavors, texture, taste, and colors were incredible. I could eat this salad everyday. But I’m sure it tasted even better on a very special day.

Avocado-Mango Salad with Fresh (or Blue) Cheese, Bacon and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds (from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless; serves 4)

4 slices bacon
1/2 cup hulled untoasted pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Fresh hot green chile to taste (large serrano or a small jalapeno), stemmed (optional)
1 tablespoon honey
1 large head Boston/butterhead lettuce (or an equivalent amount of Bibb lettuce), leaves separated
2 large ripe avocados
2 ripe mangoes
A generous 3/4 cup coarsely crumbled Mexican queso fresco or mild blue cheese (Gorgonzola is great)

Arrange the bacon slices between a double layer of paper towels on a microwaveable plate. Microwave on high (100%) for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 minutes, until crispy.

Pour the pumpkin seeds into a small skillet and set over medium heat. Once the first pops, stir constantly until all have popped from flat to round, about 5 minutes. Scoop about one-third of the seeds into a blender jar and add the lime juice. Pour the remainder into a small dish.

Return the skillet to medium heat and measure the oil. Add the garlic and optional chile. Cook, stirring regularly, until the garlic is soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Scrape the oil, garlic and optional chile into the blender. Add the honey and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Process until smooth. Taste and season with more salt if you think necessary. (It should be highly seasoned.)

Divide the lettuce among four dinner plates. Pit the avocados, scoop the flesh from the skin and cut it into slices. Peel the mangoes, then cut the flesh from the pits. Slice to match the avocado pieces. Arrange the avocados and mangoes in the center of the lettuce. Drizzle the dressing over everything, then sprinkle with the cheese and the reserved toasted pumpkin seeds. Crumble the bacon and strew it over the top, and the salad is ready.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Fresh Peach Sangria

September 28th, 2011 — 2:32am

lar31Fresh Peach Sangria
(from Williams-Sonoma The Southwest)

1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups water
1 bottle (3 cups) sparkling white wine, chilled
1/3-1/3 cup peach brandy
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, or to taste
4 cups pitted, peeled, and sliced ripe peaches
2 cups strawberries, stems removed and sliced
1 cup blueberries (optional)
ice cubes
1 bunch fresh mint

To make the simple syrup, in a saucepan over high heat, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil and let boil for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat and let cool. In a large pitcher or punch bowl, combine the simple syrup, wine, brandy, lemon juice, peaches, strawberries, and blueberries, if using. Stir to combine.

Serve in glasses over ice cubes, garnished with a mint sprig.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Madison Mini Race Report

September 26th, 2011 — 9:42am

img_0469I ran the Madison Mini-Marathon at the end of August. Last year was my first time doing the race, and I quickly fell in love with the great course and impressive race organization (not to mention the fantastic race tech tees). The run starts on Langdon Street, weaves through several downtown neighborhoods, and then ends at the Memorial Union Terrace with a live band and free beer.

I went into the race with the mentality of it being a great training opportunity to race a half-marathon on very tired legs. In the week leading up to the mini, I had raced the Minocqua triathlon, endured a grueling mid-week track practice, and raced an Aquathon. And lots of training in between. My legs were tired. But I was still excited for the mini. img_04662

On race morning, I woke up and ran to the start line, which was conveniently located about a mile away. I live downtown, so that’s another thing I love about the Madison Mini—there’s nothing better than rolling out of bed and arriving to the race start by foot. I lined up with my assigned “D” start corral. Within just a few minutes of the scheduled start time, a voice announced over the loudspeaker that a storm was quickly moving in, the race was delayed indefinitely, and everyone needed to immediately take shelter in the Union or a parking garage. I sighed. It didn’t look that bad. I just wanted to get started.

Luckily I ran into my friend Shayla (who was also doing the race), and Larry (my spectator extraordinaire), just a few minutes prior to the race being delayed. Together, we made our way to the Park Street parking garage, where we plopped down on the cement and chatted. We watched as some wicked storms moved through (at that point, I became appreciative of the race organizers’ decision to delay the race). An hour-and-a-half later, a race volunteer announced that the race would begin in 15 minutes. It was a relief—I had just about given up hope to head home for more sleep! ladies-madison-mini

It was still raining and wet for the first few miles of the race, and I was quickly soaked. It was one of those runs when your shoes plop down and splash with each and every step. But it was amazing how quickly the skies cleared and the sun came out. Suddenly, it was a gorgeous day.

I saw Larry at various points throughout the race, including at the entrance of the Arboreum, where I veered off course to give him a kiss. He seemed surprised, since I’m normally so focused and cognizant of every second. A guy running near me turned back, smiled, and said, do you know that guy? I had to laugh. Larry also enjoyed cheering on my friends and running buddies Krista, Miranda, and Shayla (pictured, above). mini

I finished the race in 1:38:12 (7:30/mile pace). It wasn’t a PR, but darn near close. I was very pleased. Definitely a solid effort. Afterward, I sipped a chocolate milk and enjoyed the sunshine on the Union terrace before Larry and I put on our dancing shoes and headed to a friend’s wedding downtown. It was definitely my kind of day.

Comment » | Madtown Lovin', Racing and Training

Tres Leches Flan

September 23rd, 2011 — 9:46am

tresHere’s the first recipe from Larry’s birthday dinner – why not start with dessert? This was my first time attempting flan. I was a little intimidated by the recipe, but it turned out great! I didn’t have a flan pan on hand, so I used a bundt pan with fine results. You really have to be watchful when melting the sugar in the second step (it all happens very quickly and there’s real potential to burn the sugar). But other than that, the recipe was easy and straightforward. This dessert was amazing. So rich and custardy. Definitely plan to make this one again. Post-ironman.

Tres Leches Flan

From Williams-Sonoma The Southwest; serves 8-10

1 can (12 fl oz) evaporated milk
1 can (14 fl oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy (double) cream
pinch of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground canela or 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or other orange-flavored liqueur
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (essence)
2/3 cup sugar
2 whole eggs plus 6 egg yolks

In a saucepan, combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, cream, salt, canela or cinnamon, liqueur, and vanilla and bring just to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

In a small, heavy frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the sugar, without stirring, until it becomes a clear amber syrup, 6-8 minutes. Pour it quickly into a 9 1/2 inch ring mold (5-cup capacity). Holding the mold with potholders, carefully and quickly rotate it to spread the caramelized sugar over the bottom and up the sides, coating evenly. Set aside to cool and set.

Position the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In a small bowl, whisk together the whole eggs and yolks, and then whisk them into the steeped mixture. Pour into the caramel-lined ring mold. Place the mold in a baking pan. Pour hot water into the baking pan to reach three-fourths of the way up the sides of the mold. Bake until the custard is set but still jiggles in the center, about 40 minutes. Transfer the mold to a rack and let cool completely.

To unmold, run a think knife blade around the inside edge of the mold and invert onto a serving plate. The caramel will run down over the edges. Cut into 8-10 portions, transfer to individual plates, and spoon a little of the caramel over each serving.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Feliz Cumpleaños Mi Amor

September 21st, 2011 — 12:40pm

We celebrated Larry’s birthday in late August. There was certainly nothing I could do to top the surprise party he threw for me earlier in the month, but I still wanted to help make it special. Larry has spent time living in Mexico and has a deep appreciation of  Mexican culture and food. So one of the ideas I came up with was to make Larry a Mexican birthday dinner. I found a few great recipes, did my best to translate them into Spanish, and presented Larry with a printed dinner menu the morning of his birthday. He was thrilled. Since we love to cook together, Larry wanted to help. We shopped for ingredients together at the farmers’ market and then worked together to prepare the dishes. The meal was fantastic. I will share the recipes in upcoming posts. I will not, however, share my menu translations—which were horrendous! But it’s the thought that counts, right?!

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Iron Chef Mango Recipes

September 16th, 2011 — 11:25am

dinner-tableThis month’s Iron Chef Mango was a great success. I think my friends were a little apprehensive when I first suggested the ingredient mango. But as they and I quickly discovered, there is a world of options when it comes to mangoes. And the ingredient was timely, too, as apparently its season lasts through Labor Day (our dinner was the day before). So it was sort of like a last hooray for mango. Another thing I learned during our dinner is that none of us knew how to properly cut a mango prior to preparing our mango dishes. So once again, Iron Chef pushed us out of our culinary comfort zones and taught us new skills. I’m proud to say I can now cut a mango. Hooray!

We had quite the smorgasbord of dishes—appetizers, entrees, desserts, and drinks. Larry and I hosted the dinner and contributed three dishes—Mango Salsa, Curried Chicken and Mango Sandwiches, and Tropical Sundaes. They were all good, but my favorite dishes were brought by Jill and Julie. Jill brought a great appetizer, aptly called the “Fruity and Spicy Appetizer.” It was a wonderful combination of curried tortilla chips topped with mango salsa and a dollop of sour cream. They were heavenly. Also delicious was Julie’s mango bread. I couldn’t get enough of the stuff. I hope to whip up a few loaves soon—It’s the perfect accompaniment for morning coffee.

Mango Nut Bread

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
2 cups diced mango
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Sift dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Make a well and add remaining ingredients. Mix until well blended. Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan and let stand 20 minutes. Bake at 350° for about 1 hour, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.

Comment » | Iron Chef Dinners

Iron Chef Mango

September 16th, 2011 — 10:58am

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