Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Tomorrow is Boston’s favorite holiday of the year, aka St. Patty’s! As I mentioned last weekend, I was going to try and make the Chocolate Stout Cookies with Salted Caramel Frosting and Pretzels to bring into my office, since it’s hard to bake during the week while keeping up with my gym regime. It was a process, as the cookies and the caramel frosting were separate components with a lot of different steps and ingredients, but they came out really well and the caramel was to die for! We used the end of our Blue Hills Brewery (a local place) Milk Stout growler that was going flat, and I omitted the salted portion of the caramel topping because I’m not crazy about that combo. I also used unsalted mini pretzels for this reason. They were a hit at work, with one boss telling me they were the best cookies he’d ever had!

In the process of assembling

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The finished product!

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We had Three Bean Chili for dinner that night, except I didn’t have cornmeal so that didn’t happen, and I topped the bowls with plain, nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Protein-rich and delish!

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During the week, I got Dan to come down and join me at the gym one night, but unfortunately, the elliptical is still not a possibility. My knees and hip seem to still be too weak to handle it, and my new running shoes, which I was testing on the treadmill while waiting for Dan, cut into my heels and made them bleed. Dan had to bring me my usual cross-training shoes and he only got to work out for half an hour before I couldn’t take any more and crapped out. Boo. Vegan runner friend joined me for two nights, and during one we did some sort of fitness test to make sure I was warming up correctly while doing my zone training with his heart rate strap, which I’ve borrowed this past week.

My splits came out where they should, pace-wise, but it was tough to go for what ended up being about six miles while staying in my zone. Jogging spikes it a bit high, but I did it to see how long I could go, and I’m getting stronger every day! It hurts less and seems more natural now that I’ve lost some weight. I hit an almost-14 pound weight loss this week and couldn’t be happier! My rock star skinny jeans are fitting better every day and I feel good getting dressed in the morning. Only 11 more pounds and I’ll be back to the weight I was in college! Our 5k is less than two months away and Daylight Savings is helping with light to exercise after work. I’m nervous, but I know if I keep going hard without overdoing it, I can be ready in time. It’s awesome to have supportive, fitness-oriented friends all around, too.

We’re planning hiking for the spring, too! Anyhoo, back to my cooking adventures. We did a tasty Chicken with Spinach and Mushrooms dish, the bell peppers from which ultimately gave me heartburn the next day, but at the time was a treat! I was surprised a recipe from “Real Simple” would be low calorie, but stranger things have happened.

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I also tackled Sopa de Mani (Quinoa Peanut Soup), but left out the bell pepper because we didn’t have any, and added extra baby spinach to bulk it up after this omission. I also used natural almond butter mixed with peanut butter because we didn’t have enough peanut butter on its own.

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I repeated Ambitious Kitchen’s sweet potato/quinoa chili, but halved it, reduced the amount of quinoa significantly, and didn’t make the chipotle topping. So filling and amazing on a cold night after a stressful day!

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Today was a good day of relaxation and my friend Jen visiting. I had a brunch smoothie that was pretty darn good and used up the end of my overripe bananas and my almond milk that was nearing its time, recipe here, and doubled it so Dan could have one, too! I had part of a frozen, sliced banana so I chucked that in with a couple ice cubes to thicken it up. I’ll be making it again!

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That’s when the healthy part of the day ended. I spent the last few days deciding which Irish-themed dessert I would tackle this weekend and landed upon Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Guinness Cake (I like this link better because the original has British units of measure). I had all the ingredients except for the Guinness and sour cream, and it wasn’t fussy to make (it’s a one pot cake, save for the cream cheese frosting). Plus, I never get to use my spring form pan! I ended up not being able to mix it all in the pot, though, because I didn’t use a big enough one, and had to pour it into a bowl to whisk the lumps. It had a few bits here and there once cooked that could have been flour, but you couldn’t taste them!

Waiting for it to cool with a nice beverage!

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Dark and deadly 🙂

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Plus, Jen and I got to use my aprons (and I got to cook in my pajamas, woo hoo! My hair is atrocious because I had it pulled back while slaving to clean the house for company!

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Next weekend we have family visiting, a Bruins game to attend, and Easter is fast-approaching! Have a beer and take it all in tomorrow, and we’ll all be a little Irish for a day (well, Dan and I are Irish every day, but, you know)!

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