Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mexican Pizza

Nothing beats a homemade pizza! I probably make one every week. This mexican version is my new favorite.  Because the dough only needs to rest for 10 minutes, this pizza can be ready to eat in 40 minutes which even makes it do-able on a week night. I roll my dough out on parchment paper and then transfer the crust, parchment paper and all to the baking surface to put in the oven.  I use a round pizza stone I got from Pampered Chef.

I like the cornmeal in the crust. It is a great twist to the traditional pizza and nicely compliments the mexican flavors in the topping. 

This pizza doesn't have a traditional pizza sauce, but instead uses diced fire roasted tomatoes. When I didn't have chicken in the house I used taco flavored hamburger meat instead and this was tasty too.  If you like mexican flavors, you want to make this pizza!

Mexican Pizza
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon regular active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal (plus some additional for rolling out the dough)
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced fire roasted tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, diced
1/2 red or orange bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup black beans
1/2 cup corn
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  
In medium bowl, mix half the flour (3/4 cup),  sugar, yeast and salt.  Stir in warm water and oil.  Beat on low speed for about 30 seconds.  Increase to high speed and beat an additional 1 minute.  Stir in 1/3 cup cornmeal and remaining 3/4 cup flour.
On lightly floured surface knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  
Place in lightly greased bowl and cover.  Rest for 10 minutes.
Sprinkle additional cornmeal on parchment paper and roll out dough to create your desired shape. I use a pizza stone.  Transfer dough with parchment paper to baking surface.
Prick dough with fork.
Bake 8-10 minutes or just until edges begin to turn brown.
Remove from oven and top with 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, tomatoes, chicken, black beans, corn, bell pepper and jalapeno cover with remaining shredded cheese.
Bake 6-8 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Sprinkle with green onions and cilantro.

  What is your favorite kind of pizza?
 Are you more of a DiGiorno or delivery pizza eater?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Two for Tuesday

1. I just finished listening to two really good books I want to recommend. I listen to books while running, on my commute to work and sometimes while doing stuff around the house.  I am a big fan of audio books, it helps me to "read" many more books and is very entertaining.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein is narrated by the family dog, Enzo. He shares his perspective of this family's drama.  It was both heartwarming and funny.
The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel

Stories I Only Tell My Friends is written and read by Rob Lowe. It is an autobiography.  I have always had a crush on Rob Lowe so listening to him tell me stories about his life was super, plus he does good impressions of the Hollywood people he interacts with.  We are about the same age, so I could relate to many events/movies he talks about in his book. It was an interesting insight into his experiences. I liked learning about all people he has crossed paths with.
Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography

2. I did not exercise at all last week! That was weird! I had an allergy patch test to find out what is causing me to break out in an itchy rash on my neck, shoulders and arms.I was hoping it would go away, but no such luck. The test lasts a week and during the test you cannot sweat or get your back wet. That meant no working out. For the test, they adhere 50 patches of common allergens to your back and then after a week, see if any have produced a reaction.  

I am coming into contact with something in my daily life that is not agreeing with me.  I have changed the products I use to "unscented", "free and gentle" "natural" and "for sensitive skin only", but it's not going away.
These are 3 of the 5 patches on my back . The red spots are the rash - yuck!
The test revealed that I am allergic to cobalt, nickel, fragrance mix and propylene glycol.

The good news is I now know what to avoid, the bad news is they are common ingredients in everyday products. So as long as I avoid coins, jewelry, keys, paperclips, detergents, cosmetics, creams and lotions I will be just fine. Looks like I  will be cleaning my clothes on a rock.  

I've never been allergic to stuff before, so this is big news. Initially I was overwhelmed by my task to find products that do not contain these items because these ingredients have many pseudonyms that are very technical.  Fortunately, my doctor was able to run a list of products for me that I can use.  It is not a large list, but I am glad I have options.   My new shampoo is now California Baby!

Do you have any allergies?
Do you just suffer through them or have you made changes to your life?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sights of South Dakota

South Dakota was a great place for a destination race!  The race was great and there was enough to do and see in the area. We stayed in the Celebrity Hotel in historic, downtown Deadwood, an old Western town. 
Downtown Deadwood

The lobby of our hotel looks like a casino because it is.  It is filled with movie memorabilia and slot machines. In fact every business had slot machines of some sort. (The Beatles' drum set is right above the front desk/cashier station.) Not shown in the photo are the Wheel of Fortune machines where I won $75!! The hotel didn't look great from the lobby, but the rooms upstairs were very nice with large, marble and granite bathrooms.
Herbie the Love Bug
Our two favorite places in town were the Pump House for coffee and a delicious homemade cinnamon roll...

and the Chubby Chipmunk for truffles and ice cream.
This is the automatic truffle machine for those after hours truffle cravings.

Deadwood sits at the foot hills of the Black Hills. (Named for the dark pine trees that cover the hills, looking black from afar.)  There are many state and national parks nestled around the hills and some natural and man-made sights to see as well.

Our visit to Mt. Rushmore was amazing!  I am having trouble finding the words to describe this monument, it is both breathtaking and inspirational.  Having only seen photos of this in history books, I was awed by the size and grandeur.  It is so large you can see it throughout the Black Hills, long before you get there.  We visited on such a gorgeous day that our photos look the postcards they sell in the gift shop.

Andy, me and my sister Wendy
Rock climber to the left of Jefferson's chin
We walked the mile loop around the monument and paid $5 for the self guided audio tour - it was so worth it.  I learned tons about the history and making of this masterpiece which took 14 years to complete.

Perhaps a less well known monument, but just as incredible is Crazy Horse.  Although started in 1948 this monument is still being constructed. The process has been slow because the memorial has not accepted any federal funds. This monument is much larger than Mt. Rushmore. In fact, all four faces of Mt. Rushmore would fit on the head of Crazy Horse.
Crazy Horse
Those are people you see in the photo because the day we visited was the one day each year (Volksmarch) when you can walk the 6.2 mile loop to climb the memorial.  We did not know about this until we arrived and decided not to walk it because we were running the half the next day. We found out after the race that many runners including marathoners, did the walk, so I felt kind of wimpy after hearing that.

When complete, the carving will look like the model in white. You can see they have a ways to go.

Custer State Park gave us chance to see some natural beauty and some local wildlife.
Needles Highway

This was a tight fit.

This guy and two of his friends were just grazing on the side of the road. They look docile, but signs in the park remind dumb people that buffalo are dangerous and you should not approach them. I'm sure they didn't need the sign until someone got too close.

History came alive for me during this trip. South Dakota was a fabulous destination and I am so glad we picked it. It has pumped me up for some more places to visit!

Do you have a suggestion for a great destination race?
What fun places have you run races in?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Deadwood Half Marathon Race Recap

Downtown Deadwood
We had such a good time on our trip to Deadwood, SD!  My sister, brother-in-law, husband and I traveled there to run a half marathon in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  We did so much during our three day trip, but I will focus on the race in this post.

The packet pickup was easy as the field of runners was 1791.  The entire expo consisted of three vendors and a bar serving Lean Horse, the official race beer. Other than drinking a beer, I picked up a couple 13.1 race stickers for my group, because this would be their first half marathon. 
Race Expo
The goody bag included a tech t-shirt made just for women (I so appreciate not having to settle for a man's t-shirt), a SalonPas pain relief patch, a cold compression wrap, a nut roll, Udderly Smooth lotion and a packet of Magic seasoning blend for beef (This is definitely beef country, so that made sense!) 
We couldn't have asked for a better weekend. The weather was perfect. It was in the low 60s the morning of the race and no humidity. This was welcome weather for the locals too, because it had still been chilly earlier in the week. 

We had to catch a bus to take us to the start of the race at 6:15am. What's great about being so far north is the sunrises much earlier in the morning and it was already daylight by 6 am. The start of the race for the half marathon was 14 miles up the Mickelson Trail, an old rail line, about 4 people wide and covered with crushed rock. We would be running down the trail back into town.   

My sister and I at the start

The four of us before the race
The trail was lined with trees and was a nice shady course, that ran right through the black hills.  The majority of the course was flat or a slight downhill slope, except for mile 7 which was a killer.It was all uphill, not steep, but it just never seemed to flatten out. 

It was an absolutely beautiful trail with fabulous scenery!  I have not run a prettier route!   At the start of the race runners were organized by pace.  Andy and I lined up in 9:30 minute/mile group. This is the first race I have been in where runners were honest about their pace.  I think only three people were in the wrong pace group. That was amazing and helpful since the trail was narrow which made passing more challenging.  

From the start I wanted to keep a 9:15 pace so I could make a PR.  The course felt fast, I started off strong and decided I would go for it. The first six miles felt great and I was loving it. When we hit the uphill mile #7, I slowed down a lot and it tired me out.  Thankfully knowing I was halfway through motivated me. 

My calves began feeling tight around mile 10.  I never experienced that before and don't know if it was the course surface, the hills or the altitude, but ouch!  The last 2 miles were the toughest. It was getting warmer and it seemed like I wasn't getting any closer to the end. I gave it all I had and was thoroughly exhausted at the end. I left it all on that course.  I didn't enjoy it at the time, but I knew I would be glad afterwards.  I finished with a new PR of 2:03:24!  Eight minutes faster than my previous PR. I was psyched!! I don't know if I will ever do better than that, so I am happy to have achieved it. Actually all of us had PRs on this race. How often does that happen?

Andy, who has never run a half before finished 1 second before me.  I have been running for over 3 years and he started training in January.  How can guys do that?  

Avg Pace


Friday, June 10, 2011

Winner of the Performance Fuel Variety Pack

And the winner is....
Sarah S @ runningonwords 

A big thanks to all who entered!!

I love having a giveaway for two reasons.  I like being able to share things that I enjoy with others and I get a chance to discover more excellent blogs! You are a great bunch, I'm so glad you all stopped by! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Heading to Deadwood, South Dakota

Yep, that's right, Deadwood, South Dakota!  Never been and can't wait to see it.  My background on Deadwood comes from the HBO series with the same name. In the 1800s it was a mining town with outlaws, gamblers and gunslingers and is the place where Wild Bill Hickok was killed. 

We are heading there for the Deadwood Mickelson Trail Half Marathon this weekend. 

My sister and her husband will be joining Andy and I for the race and  whatever other festivities we rustle up. (See I'm already talking like a cowgirl)  This will be the first half-marathon for the three of them. We don't all run at the same speed, so I'm not sure if I want to run for a PR or just stay with the group. My competitive side doesn't want to miss an opportunity, but my logical side wonders why can't I just run and not worry about that?  

They have been training using Marathoning for Mortals. (I love that book, it has taught me so much about running and helped me prepare for my first marathon too.) 

My sister and I are both coming from the South so we look forward to the cooler temperatures. Looks like 50 degrees at start time and a high in the 70s for the day.  Couldn't be better!  Let's hope the forecast doesn't change. Haven't decided what I am wearing yet... 

I am looking forward to hanging out in the wild west. 

Wish me luck!!

Don't miss a chance to win a variety pack of performance fuel. (beans, blocks, nuun). 
Contest ends midnight on June 9. Click HERE to enter.