A New Twist

>> Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I did it... I finished my second half marathon. But not without a fight!

This time around was not easy! Not that the first one was a piece of cake, but it felt like it compared to this race. I had a really hard time.

There were a lot of factors going against me this time, including the fact that I had gotten the flu just 3 weeks before race day. Or that it was really windy that day. Or that I was stupid and ran the first seven miles WAY faster than my pace should have allowed. Or that I have a hamstring pull/issue thing going on and I had to stop at a few of the water stations and stretch it out.
I promise these aren't excuses! :) But it did make for an altogether bad run.

On one good note - I beat my time from the last half by 10 minutes! I only wish it had felt good.

Crossing the finish line After the race...yes we look nasty!

You may remember last summer that I posted about some delicious blackberry lemonade. I loved it... it was amazing... it tasted sooo good. And then I made it better.

This time, I made Blackberry Limeade. It is amazing! I have to say even more amazing than the lemonade. It's tart without being too much so. Limes have a great sweetness to them, and the mixture is perfect. So go on, go ahead and make yourself some.

Refreshing Blackberry Limeade (Adapted from Love and Olive Oil):
3/4 cup raw or cane sugar
3 cups water (divided)
2 cups blackberries
3 limes, juiced

In a microwave safe container, combine sugar and 1 cup water. Heat on high for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir until sugar is dissolved. (You can do this on the stove by bringing the water to a boil and dissolving the sugar over medium heat - but microwave method is much quicker!) Set aside and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, juice the lemons, and in a large bowl or pitcher, muddle the blackberries with the lemon juice until very smooshed! :)
Pour in sugar syrup, remaining 2 cups water, and a few ice cubes and stir. I used my awesome Pampered Chef pitcher that has a mixer built in!

Pour over a glass of ice (you can strain the blackberry pulp - my pitcher got most of it, but I liked having a little in there). Garnish with a sprig of mint or lemon!


Must have for Spring!

>> Sunday, May 1, 2011

There's something about spring that makes you want fresh fruit! More than any other time, you just want to eat fresh fruit with everything. Obviously, it's a good season for strawberries and peaches, blackberries and raspberries. But what about fall when apples are in season? Or winter when oranges are? Don't get me wrong.... those fruits are awesome and yummy, but there is nothing like the spring and waiting for fresh, juicy, drip on your chin strawberries to start showing up for half off in the grocery store.

And last weekend was THE weekend for the start of fresh berry season. Easter allowed all of the fresh berry goodness to start!

Easter is always one of the biggest weekends of the year for us, and this year was no exception. Between training for a half marathon and needing to complete a 12-mile run on Saturday morning, having an Easter egg hunt for our community with over 10,000 people showing up at the two sites our church hosted, setting up on Saturday afternoon for our Easter services on Sunday, and then South Bay had 4 services on Sunday. We had 1,099 people in attendance (which is 400 more than any other Sunday we've had!) on Easter Sunday, which was truly amazing!

So, my husband thought I was nuts when I said I wanted to have a few people over for dinner on Sunday night for Easter dinner. But it was perfect! It was just a few of us who didn't have family in town to celebrate with, we all pitched in, and had the most amazing celebration meal to top a busy but wonderful weekend!
Part of my contribution was the fresh strawberry pie. Sweet, creamy with a cream cheese lemon layer, big juicy strawberries mixed in, and a crunchy vanilla sandwich cookie crust. A must for spring!

Here are a few pictures from the weekend. (Click them to zoom in)

We had a contemporary dance during the service that was amazing! Think "So You Think You Can Dance"

Fresh Strawberry Pie (By: The Cooking Vent)
For Crust:
10 ounces vanilla sandwich cookies (such as golden oreos or store brand vanilla cookies)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar

For Filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup cool whip
1 tsp grated lemon zest
6 cups strawberries, hulled
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
a few drops red food coloring, if desired

For crust:
1. In a food processor, crush sandwich cookies. Mix melted butter and sugar together until mixed well. Press into bottom and sides of a 9" pie plate and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool.
For Filling:
2. In the food processor (or hand mixer) combine cream cheese, lemon zest, powdered sugar and cool whip until creamy.

3. Spread cream cheese mixture onto cooled pie crust.

4. In the food processor (or with a fork) crush enough strawberries to equal 1 cup.
In a small saucepan, place the sugar and cornstarch and mix, add in the 1/2 cup water and mashed strawberries gradually (along with the drops of red food coloring if you desire a deeper red color).
Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens and boils. Boil for 1 minute and remove from heat and allow to cool.
5. Cut tops off of the remaining strawberries, and layer them on top of the cream cheese layer in pie plate.
Pour cooled filling over strawberry layer.

Allow to refrigerate at least 3 hours or until filling is set.