Monday, October 31, 2011

A Virtual 5k And Gruel

Tonight I ran Kiley's Virtual Halloween 5k...and I'm so glad I did. After record breaking amounts of candy corn consumption today, I felt pretty lazy and could have easily sat on the couch and called it a day. But since I blogged about it earlier, the guilt set it. FINE! I'll run.

And guess what? Great run. I needed it after yesterday's less-than-spectacular 13 miler. I ran the 3.1 miles in 27:35, for an 8:53 pace.

I realized towards the end of the run that I actually listened to just one song the entire time - That's Not My Name, by the Ting Tings. Clearly still getting the hang of this listening to music while running thing. (Only on the TM, I still can't handle it at all outside).

While I was running my homemade soup was simmering away on the oven. I was so proud of what I THOUGHT would be a healthy, tasty meal. It was certainly healthy. The base was a mix of lentils, barley and split peas:

And then I added a chicken bouillon cube, some leftover roast chicken from last night's dinner, chopped carrots and leftover corn. The final result:

I actually didn't mind the taste, but hubby put it best : "This would be a really good wartime meal." I don't even know how to take that, other than it clearly looks like gruel. What, you don't like grey mush? But it's HEALTHY! 

You win some, you lose some. I made a massive pot of that soup so I'll be eating it for a week, with no help from Tim. He finished his bowl politely, but had three waffles with chocolate sauce for his second course. Boys.

Do you listen to music when you run? Any earbud/headphone recommendations?
Outside, never. I hate fiddling with stuff and always find my headphones slipping out. I have been listening to music lately on the TM though, and I really enjoy it.

Would you eat something that tastes bad because it's healthy?
NO! With the exception of some vitamins which taste horrible, I won't eat anything that tastes bad because it's good for me. I just try to find ways to get the nutrients from something else. Life is too short to eat food you don't enjoy!

Deer, Beer and Chicken

This Halloween I was a domestic goddess. Nope, I didn't dress up in a costume, I just WAS a domestic goddess. (Not the Charlie Sheen type goddess-don't want there to be any confusion) Roasting an entire bird is basically a Thanksgiving only deal, so tackling one on Halloween-eve was pretty impressive, if I do say so myself.

I was actually just a really hungry, sore-legged, just ran 13 miles and can barely hold this 6-pound chicken domestic goddess, but whatever. 

Is it just me or does this look like a tiny baby bird now? I promise, it was 6 pounds, served 4 and there are tons of leftovers. To go with the bird: roasted carrots, sweet potatoes and new potatoes, broccoli, corn and a homemade apple crisp. Except I was too focused on the Halloween beer tasting to take photos of the side dishes. 

Some old favorites and some new ones...I liked everything but the Hoegaarten. Blech. Also, this was my first pumpkin beer - why does it not taste like pumpkin? So disappointing. 

Bonus #752 about living in the boonies: while I made dinner, hubby can go outside and take pictures of the deer drinking water from the pond. Just stunning. 

My legs are a little sore from yesterday's run-13 miles, and my last long run before the marathon (10 days!!!!) It didn't go quite as well as I had hoped. Heavy legs and a slow pace really brought me down. But I'll still make sure to get in my 3.1 miles (5k) today for Kiley's Virtual Halloween 5K! You can walk, run, or swim the distance, but be sure to enter today and try to win some of the great prizes!

Did anyone dress up for Halloween? Unless you bought that "domestic goddess" nonsense. I haven't dressed up in a few years, but I  would really like to run a costume race one year, I think that would be so much fun. 

Do you get trick or treaters where you live?
Ha! Not even close. I wish we did, I would love to see the little kiddos all dressed up. 

Do you have any exercise planned for Halloween?
Yes! Excited to run the Virtual 5k. Go enter!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tying Together Some Unlikely Allies

I bet you can't figure out how to tie together muffins and tampons, can you? I'll give you a minute to think about it. Go ahead.

No? I'm not surprised. This connection is about as tenuous as they come. Today I wanted to mention TWO things that can help make a difference in someone's life--both big and small.

First, there's o.b.'s Share it Forward Campaign, which helps provide kits to women and girls at risk all over the world. (Yep, that's the tampon part.)

Second, today Kari is hosting a blogging bake sale where all the proceeds head to the charity Kisses for Katie. (You guessed it, the muffins.)

My donation to the Bake Sale Fundraiser!

Since both of these things are really fantastic ways to easily show support and do good, I hope you'll excuse the tenuous and awkward connection and let me go with it.

Head to the Bake Sale at Running Ricig today (Sunday) between 10am and 8pm. There are over 30 items up for bid, including cakes, muffins, cookies and bread. I'm contributing some pumpkin muffins with a vanilla/cinnamon/brown sugar glaze that are AMAZING, and I have already spent a few minutes browsing (ok, drooling) over some of the other delicious items. Each "baker" will donate their time, ingredients, and shipping costs, and the purchase price will go entirely to this charity.

Even after that you're still in a charitable mood, please visit o.b.'s mighty small movement. They are dedicated to raising money to give out kits to women and girls in developing countries around the world without basic sanitation and hygiene kits. These kits include things like reusable pads, clean underwear, detergent to wash these items and information on HIV prevention.

Without these basic essentials, many girls are forced to stay home from school during their menstrual cycle. This truly shocked me - no matter how much charities and organizations can help to build the infrastructure of a developing country (schools, roads, etc.) if the girls can't get basic sanitary items they still have to stay home from school.

All you have to do in this case is "like" o.b.'s mighty small movement, and then visit the tab marked "o.b. outreach". By sharing this message on your wall (there is a big pink "click to share" button to make it really easy), the company will donate $1 toward the purchase of these sanitation kits. Their goal is to raise $25,000 - which will equal 10,000 of these kits!

In the time it takes you to scroll through the next blog on Google Reader, you could follow these steps and help make a difference in the life of a young girl. Please, please spend a minute doing so. 

1. "Like" o.b.'s mighty small movement on Facebook
2. Click on the "o.b. outreach" tab
3. Press the button that says"like to share"

You're done! $1 will have been donated to Huru Kits thanks to o.b. just like that. 

I know it's awkward to talk about tampons. Let's be honest, unless you're asking someone discretely for one in an emergency, who talks about them at all? But it is a relevant issue for many girls in developing countries, so it is something that should be addressed. 

Thanks everyone!

"I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of o.b. and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Rocco Dispirito Book Winners and New Shoes, Take 2

I really found it interesting to hear everyone's take on the shoe snob debate. Although my Asics weren't my favorite shoes LOOKS wise, I tried to ignore it for their cheap price tag. But after two runs, they just weren't working. My toes were actually going thanks.

I broke down and headed up to Chattanooga, TN today to buy a pair of the same Brooks I had before. I spoke to an associate there, he had a look at my old shoes, and I left with a new colored pair of the GTS 11s. All is well in the world again!

As if new shoes weren't enough, I also took a walk in the sun, grabbed lunch at Whole Foods and did a little grocery shopping, bought the Office version of Clue at a little antique shop, stopped for frozen yogurt and picked a bunch of new beers to try out tomorrow night. THAT is what I call a successful day. Way more fun than this work nonsense.

Oh-So-Natural Pose by the River

Veggie, shrimp and rice noodle wraps.

Our Halloween Beer Tasters!

There were two winner's for the Rocco Dispirito Book Giveaway! Thanks to Random.Org, I picked Comment #99 and Comment #125! The lucky ladies are:

Congrats! That's Alyssa, from Chocolate is a Life, who may or may not be running a marathon as a training run for an ultra this weekend. Craziness. And Caroline blogs over at Canadian Runner in Exile, and is the sweetest woman - with the cutest children on the planet. Go check them both out! Ladies: send me an email with your shipping info and full names so I can get these books out to you!

What is your take on frozen desserts in cold weather?
I was so torn today. Tim actually asked me three different times, "do you want to get frozen yogurt?" I don't think he believed me each time he said no. As we were driving past the LAST frozen yogurt place on the way home, I decided I needed some, despite the cold weather. Normally though, once winter hits I get ready for baked goods instead!

What is everyone up to for Halloween?
We carved our pumpkin, roasted the seeds and we're having a big roast dinner with our neighbors tomorrow night. But no costumes this year, and I doubt any children will be making the trek down to our house for trick or treating!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Shoe Snobs and Chinese Fake-Out

As some of you saw on my Daily Mile post yesterday, I got some new shoes in the mail. Normally I start jumping up and down when I get new shoes, but these were-gasp! Cheap running shoes. On the whole I think the running community is pretty great, but let's face it...most, if not all of use, are shoe snobs. I'm including myself here, no need to get defensive.

A few months back I ordered a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 11s. They sound like a fighter jet, but they're actually just running shoes. They worked great, I like them, and they come in at OVER $100 bucks. In my house (the one without a TV or curtains) $100 on shoes just can't happen. So I researched similar shoes, looked up what was available on sale at, and wound up with these bad boys:

Asics. They actually have remarkably similar stats to the shoes I wore before, but...they're not as cool. I wore them for a 7 mile run yesterday and it just felt off.  #insignificant problems

I'm still deciding if they're really all that bad, or if I just have my nose so high in the air that it's affecting my gait. We'll see. 

Moving onto to similarly insignificant problems: the ability to get good Chinese food here. Rural Georgia is just not up to par with their selection or ethnic dining. Unless you count Taco Bell and Pizza Hut as Mexican and Italian cuisine. I've been trying to recreate Hong Kong style fried-rice for a while, and yesterday I think I may have finally figured it out. 

Broccoli, onions, garlic, peppers and spring onions
The key? Using jasmine rice that's a day old. Wet rice just doesn't work. I chopped up all the veggies and stir fried them in a wok on high heat, then added in the rice and scrambled the eggs in the side of the pan. Topped off with some flaked tilapia and chopped green (spring) onions. Delicious. 

See those chopsticks? A remnant of my old life. I saw the price tag on a set of them yesterday - $55 Hong Kong Dollars--which is about $8 US. For a pair of chopsticks. I don't get it either. 

Would you buy a cheap, generic brand of shoes that looked ugly if they worked fine for runs?
Meh. Undecided. I guess I'm a little snobby myself, and I'll admit that it's nice to feel like a real "runner" in Brooks. But at the end of the day, I'm cheaper than I am snobby. So generic brand it is. 

Are you a fan of Chinese food? What's your favorite dish?
Yes, love it! Funny story - when I went to college in America there was a big poster up for a social event and it said "GENERAL TSO" on it. I asked my friends who he was, and they never let me live it down. How was I supposed to know it was a food? I used to love lemon fried chicken, and my family would order it every week growing up. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Losing Water Weight and Lucky 7's

I genuinely hope you didn't come here for actual water weight loss tips. If you did, my sincerest apologies. But you definitely don't want to be taking tips on drinking more water and eating less sodium from me after last night. I stumbled upon a great deal at my local theater where on Tuesdays at a certain time, movies are $5, and small drinks AND small popcorns are $1 each. Boom! I'm so there. One of each, please. We saw this little heartbreaker:

This movie is how I lost 3 pounds of salty tears. I'm estimating, but if my eyes were never dry I can only surmise it was a gallon + of lost fluid. Hence the water weight loss. Don't worry, I rehydrated with plenty of diet coke.

Now, I will admit that it doesn't take much to make me cry. A sad movie (ok, fine...a sad commercial) leaves me bawling. But 50/50 really was the grandaddy of all tear jerkers. I would definitely recommend it if you can handle a good cry. 

With all my movie galavanting cutting into workout and work time, I had about 45 minutes to fit in a run yesterday. To get the best use of my time, I devised a plan while I was running my warm-up on the treadmill. We'll call them "Lucky 7's". It makes me feel all cool like I know how to gamble.

Warm-up : 2 Miles easy
Hill Interval: 7% incline, 7mph for 1/4 mile
Cry, walk for a minute to catch your breath, and repeat.
Cool-Down: 1 Mile, Easy

The crying isn't necessary, but it just came naturally for me. I managed five of those hill sprints, and I truly have never felt my cardiovascular system working so hard. Definitely try it, and adjust it for your own speed (i.e. 8mph @ 8 incline for you speedy guys, or 5% incline @5mph if you want to slow it down a little). Of course, you can do the same thing at any big hill on your running path. Just sprint up it for 2 minutes or so, run down (cry?) and repeat.

Do you like sad movies? Favorite one? Anyone else cry at songs/commercials?
I love sad movies. That might sound weird, but if I am in the mood for a good cry I just want to watch a tearjerker. Favorites = Stepmom and A Very Long Engagement. So good! And yes, I cry at certain songs. Big emotional baby over here.

Do you do any hill sprints? Any advice or how it has helped you?
I am used to running hilly areas and trails, but I generally run SLOWER up hills, and never sprint up them. This was a new challenge for me, and I would love to incorporate it every once in a while to my workouts. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Planet Gear Giveaway and Breast Cancer Awareness

If you haven't seen millions of pink ribbons all month long, you must be from somewhere far, far away. Sometimes, I'm ashamed to admit, the ubiquity of them makes me forget what the whole point is. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, so although I'm a little late to the party I am happy to get to tell you about a great way to make a difference. We're all human, so how about this: you can make a difference, help raise awareness about breast cancer, it won't cost you a penny and can even win something out of the whole deal.

Philanthropy at its finest.

If you haven't been to Planet Gear yet, you're missing out. They have incredible daily sales. When I say incredible, I do mean incredible. Seriously steep discounts, on a few brands each day. You have to be a member to shop, but the whole deal is free and definitely worth the 30 seconds it takes to sign up.

As a bonus, Planet Gear is donating $1 to breast cancer awareness for each person that "likes" them on Facebook or signs up for the free membership. Why not do both, and feel doubly good about your effort for the day?

As if they haven't made it easy enough, Planet Gear sweetened the pot by letting two of you win something in return. Up for grabs is a $25 shopping credit to use on anything you want from Planet Gear, and also a sweet pair of sunglasses. There will be two winners, and I'll pick them on November 1st, 2011. Even if you don't want to enter, please like them on Facebook and help raise awareness for Breast Cancer. One click - it couldn't be easier. 

To win, you don't have to like me, follow me, heck, even know who I am. Just tell me in a comment that you either liked Planet Gear on Facebook, or that you signed up for the free membership at Planet Gear. If you're not a follower, or don't have a blog, that's fine. Just leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.

That's it. 

No hoops. 

No jumps. 

Just click "like", it will be a $1 donation, and in a week you might win something. 

Thank you!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekly Workout Recap and a Little Drunk Photo Booth

So I have less than 3 weeks left until the Chickamauaga Battlefield Marathon-my first full ever. Am I scared? You bet. I'm also slightly confused about people complaining about taper. If I'm reading this right, you get to run less and eat carbs. I guess I'm not seeing the major problem yet. Here's the week in numbers:

Monday: 1 hour of Yoga
Tuesday: 8 Mile Run (10x400s)
Wednesday: 7 Mile Run
Thursday: 4 Mile Run
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: 20 Mile Run
Sunday: 4 Mile Run/Walk With Hubby

So, total mileage for the week - 43 miles. Total strength, core,, just that one yoga video. Whoops.

My head is saying things like Um, remember that little marathon thing you signed up for? Maybe you should run a little. Which means less cross training because I'm lazy and can only handle one thing a day, fitness-wise.

Remember when I drank like 1/2 ounce of beer yesterday and got smashed? Me either. Luckily I had some photographic evidence to jog my memory courtesy of photo booth.

I'm sorry. You can't ever un-see that stuff. 

Luckily a couple of beers gives me an excuse to finish off the last of my Ting-a-Lings, which might sound just a little bit dirty but is actually an amazing chocolate candy. They come in 4 flavors: milk, dark, super dark and peanut butter. 

I have to say they were all pretty tasty, but PB comes in top, of course. Also, the Super Dark were nice but definitely not very sweet, in my opinion. I love that they're a small company (Sp Candies) who make everything "just like Grandma Elsie." I'm totally imagining a cute old lady in a rocker whipping me up some homemade candy. They're gluten-free, organic and made with high quality ingredients. Which makes me feel pretty awesome about myself when I sit next to hubs as he munches his Hershey's. I'm classy and I know it. 

What are your fitness goals for the week?
I think this is the last week to REALLY bust my tush with running before sliding into a calmer two weeks with taper. So my goal is to really give it my all, pushing the pace with speed training and tempo runs.

Do you buy "junk food" with healthy ingredients, or just call it a splurge and move on?
85% of what I eat I try to make healthy meals, with veggies, fruits, protein, etc. So when I eat my "junk" each day, I am fine with it being unhealthy. But I love when a product tastes like a treat but is full of great ingredients--like these candies, Larabars, or Greek yogurts. 

Also: Has everyone entered my giveaway for TWO SIGNED COPIES of Rocco Dispirito's latest book? Please don't make this pretty man sad. 

I received the Sp Candies free but the review is entirely my own.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Running in Pearl iZumi and Drinking with Cocoa Puffs

After yesterday's 20 mile run, I was tempted to lay around in bed until noon. But I also had a brand new outfit to try out courtesy of Pearl iZumi and Outside PR, so I braved the cold weather (hey, 34 degrees is COLD in my book) for an easy 4 mile walk/run with the hubs. I got to try out their Infinity Jacket and Select Tights. First off, I don't have a lot of cold weather running attire. Last winter, I just tossed a hoodie on over my running clothes, and I wasn't that serious about it. Cotton? Sure, whatever.

This time around, I want to find quality pieces that will last me from one winter to the next, and will keep me warm (FINE! And looking good...) for long runs. I tried to take some photos this morning but dang it! It's hard to pose when you're cold!

Here I am telling you how good you'll look in these clothes...ignore the fact that I look like an idiot, please. Maybe I should switch gears and tell you how comfortable they are instead. 

This is really lightweight, and more for wind than for cold. That being said, I was fine in just this and a dri-fit shirt, so it is also pretty warm. There is a great zipper "cover" at the top, so the zipper can't rub against your neck while you're running. There are vent panels under the arms and on the back for those sweaty areas (it happens) and a zippered arm pocket that could hold an iPod, small phone or a couple of Gus and a key. personal favorite...little "fist mitts" inside to keep your hands warm without gloves.

First, these are tight. Yes, they're called tights, but still. They squeeze you in. I have to say, I'm pretty sure they are flattering if you're carrying your weight on your, um...rear. Hubby liked running behind me, that's all I'll say. They are elastic at the back, but not the front, which meant no muffin top. HUGE plus in my book. There's also a small key/gel pocket in the pack. The only thing I didn't like was the zip at the ankle. They came unzipped when I moved the zip up a little, but when it was zipped all the way it looked a little funny. But that's vanity issue, not a comfort issue.

So what's a girl to do after a stressful day of running a grand total of 4 miles, eating her weight in oatmeal cookies and then watching Thor? Simple. Crack open a couple of Sam Adams'.

We keep it classy here in Georgia. Fancy bottled beer. That's right. With super upscale snacks too.

What, you've never had the Cocoa Puffs variation, Brownie Crunch? So you're NOT a 7 year old boy with an obesity problem? Interesting. 

Needless to say, I'm a ridiculous lightweight and three sips in I was tipsy and thought I was an artiste. So I started snapping away at stuff. 

I have this horrible feeling that I'm going to wake up in the morning sober and realize I just took a ton of pictures of bottle caps.

What do you wear for cold weather runs? Any brands to recommend?
I have never really bought any proper cold weather running gear. So far I have just worn shorts and a giant hoodie and hoped for the best. That worked in Hong Kong, but it's definitely not going to cut in here this winter!

Anyone else eat cereal as a snack, rather than a meal?
I haven't had cereal with milk in over a year, but 3 or 4 times a week it becomes a snack for me! Favorites are Frosted Shredded Wheats and Lucky Charms. Except...I'm cheap and buy a giant bag of the generic Lucky Charms, "Magic Stars."

I received both the Infinity Jacket and the Select Tight free from Pearl iZumi and Outside PR, but the opinions and review are my own. Also, I bought my own beer. Just letting you all know.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A 20 Mile Run and an Unexpected Surprise!

I'm not going to beat around the bush-I ran 20 miles today. And that's basically all I plan on doing today. Sure,  I tossed some clothes into the washing machine and if hubs is lucky, I MAY even get up later and put them into the dryer, but no promises.

Another busy Saturday afternoon.

20 miles = 3 hours, 18 minutes. 9:55 pace overall. No matter how slow you go, running for over 3 hours is just hard. I was starting to feel a little achey towards the end of the run. Nearly every mile there was a new "problem"--my right knee, my left hip, my groin, then my shoulder. But hey, it's 20 miles. If it was easy I would be out there every day doing it, right? I fueled with something seasonal today...candy corn! As far as I am concerned, as long as you're eating enough calories during the long run, you can eat whatever doesn't upset your stomach. So candy corn it was. 12 pieces = 100 calories = 1 Gu, but it's cheaper and way more fun to eat. Win win.

Last week, I mentioned that I booked it after the half marathon. I was tired, feeling bad and did not want to stick around to watch someone else get a bunch of trophies. turns out that in my moping I didn't realize I managed to snag 3rd place in my age group! Please, keep in mind...there were 13 people in my age group. Details. Whatever. 

The point is, I got a trophy! I managed to pick it up yesterday afternoon and it is impressive, if I do say so myself. Everyone, pay attention to this next piece of advice: running small races makes you feel freaking incredible. Seriously. Running a 2:01 half in a big race would make you middle of the pack. Small race with 400 entrants? Boom. Third place in your AG. Love it. 

Now I just need to find the fine line between displaying it in a way that makes me look like a pompous ass (dining room table, maybe?) and someplace too secret so no one can accidentally stumble upon it and give me compliments. Oh, this old thing? Gosh, thanks. I forgot I even had that lying around. How silly. 

Who is on team candy corn? Anyone else pick candy as their long run fuel of choice?
I have successfully fueled runs with marshmallows, jellybeans and candy corn. Simple carbohydrates, works. Plus, it's good for me to have something to look forward to every half mile or so on these longer distances when I'm running alone.

Do you brag about races/medals/placing/distance? 
Honestly, I usually have a hard time bragging about running in real life. Plus, most people don't understand or care. To a lot of people, a 45 minute 5k is the same as a sub-3 marathon. Oh, a race? Did you win? So I don't even bother anymore. But on the blog? Brag city. Sorry about that.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Rocco Dispirito Healthy Eating Guide Giveaway--2 Winners!

Ever heard of Rocco Dispirito? Unless you're living under a rock, the answer is probably yes. In the last few years, he's been a repeat guest chef and judge on various seasons of Top Chef, helped Biggest Loser contestants cook healthy meals, starred in season 7 on Dancing With the Stars, and now hosts a Bravo TV show called Rocco's Dinner Party. And then with all of his free time, he's written a few healthy cookbooks too, including Now Eat This!

His new book, entitled Now Eat This! 100 Quick Calorie Cuts At Home/On The Go, is a guide filled with tips and tricks for reducing calories when eating our or dining at home. Whether you're trying to lose weight or not, this is a big help in determining how to find healthy meals and create your own at home. I personally can get on board with this because it's NOT a "get thin fast" deprivation diet. He endorses eating 6 meals a day filled with healthy ingredients. 

Plus, do I need to mention that this man is easy on the eyes? Don't worry hubs, you're still number one but...hello, Rocco! I'm so happy to get to give away not one but TWO SIGNED COPIES of this book! If you can't wait for the contest to end and you want to get your own copy, click here to buy one now. Otherwise, here's how to win your own copy of Now Eat This! 100 Quick Calories Cuts At Home/On The Go, signed by Rocco Dispirito himself: (leave a comment for each entry)

+1: Follow Gourmet Runner, and let me know you do! (Mandatory)
+1: Tell me how you cut extra calories at home or out to eat
+1: Follow Gourmet Runner on Facebook HERE
+1: Follow Rocco on Twitter HERE
+1: Blog, Facebook or Tweet about this giveaway and let me know!

Good luck everyone! I'll pick the winner at midnight on October 28th, 2011. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Baked Panetonne French Toast Recipe & A Chocolate Baking Contest

Let me start this post by saying...I hate fruit cake. That weird, solid block of strong tasting bread is NOT something that means Christmas to me. In fact, I avoid it all costs, and can't remember even getting it near my mouth for years. So liking Panetonne is weird. I mean, isn't it kind of the same thing? Panetonne is basically the Italian version of fruitcake. But surprise, surprise, those freaking Italians have found a way to make it taste less like something your dotty grandma made 12 years ago, and more like angels prepared it at a Milanese bakery and then dropped it off at your local supermarket.

Two Pounds of Panetonne = Heaven

Although traditionally it is just sliced and eaten with a hot drink or a glass of wine, I wanted to spruce it up and create a holiday brunch item. Enter... Baked French Toast Panetonne With Spiced Apples.
Yes, you read that right. Put your tongue back in your mouth, you're drooling all over the keyboard. Here's the recipe for an unbeatable brunch on a cold morning.

Baked French Toast Panetonne With Spiced Apples

1. Slice two apples thinly, and cook them on a medium heat with 1 teaspoon of butter (or light olive oil) 1 tablespoon of honey and a teaspoon of cinnamon. 

2. When apples are soft, place them at the bottom of a baking dish. 

3. Layer slices of Panetonne on top of the baked apples, covering the entire dish.

4. Mix up 2 eggs, 1/4 cup of milk, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Pour this over the entire dish, making sure all of the bread has some moisture. 

5. Bake for 35 minutes, uncovered, at 350 degrees. 

7. Serve warm with Greek yogurt if a breakfast item, or with ice cream or custard for dessert.

The recipe will really only serve two hungry people for breakfast, or maybe 4 for dessert. It can easily be doubled or tripled if you want to make it for a larger crowd. I think it would have been great if I sprinkled on a few extra raisins before baking it as well--next time!

To counteract that little slice of heaven up above, let me switch gears to running for a bit. I may have been a little disappointed over my half on Saturday, but that just means I'll have to work that much harder before the marathon. Here's what I have been up to the last few days:

Sunday = Easy 4 mile run. Less painful that I expected. I was mistaken.

Monday = Crazy sore legs. Whoops. Took off from running and enjoyed an hour of yoga instead.

Tuesday = 10 x 400 intervals at 1:57 (7:48 pace). Surprisingly, this felt...good? 8 miles total.

Wednesday = 7 miles easy. Was supposed to be a quick run but I had music on and just spaced out. Love when that happens!

Proud Wifey Alert!

And now, if you will allow me to brag for a second. Let it be known that I have zero cool hidden talents. What you see is really all you get. So I live vicariously through my husband Tim. He can build anything, fix my computer every time I do something dumb, play guitar like Slash, and sing to make my heart melt. Except he's also humble, and hides just how awesome he is a lot of the time. So here's me bragging for him. He loaded a bunch of music he's been working onto a cool site, and I put a widget on the right hand side of my blog so you can just press play a hear one of my favorite songs. He sings, he plays the instruments, he puts it all together. Don't ask me how, just listen. I won't be held responsible if you can't stop humming it!

Love my sexy rockstar!

I've bragged, now it's your turn. Are you proud of your child, husband, wife, sister or dog for doing something amazing? Tell me about it!

What is the ultimate Christmas breakfast food for you?
Usually breakfast is a blur because we can't open presents until we've eaten (old family rule!) so it's normally a bowl of cereal eaten quickly. But I guess now I'm old enough to branch out, and I like the idea of making this dish as a breakfast tradition for the holidays. 

In the top picture, you can see I have two loaves of Panetonne. I used the one with raisins for this dish, but there is also one with chocolate. Any suggestions for a way to create a great dish using that one? It's basically a rich chocolate bread, so you can't go wrong. Give me your suggestions, and the one I pick to make will win a special prize from me! Just leave your ideas as a comment, and I will pick one this weekend. Thanks!

I received the Bauducco Panetonne for free through the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, but the opinions and recipes are my own.