Thursday, April 26, 2012

Couch to 5k Progress Over Time

 

I started running in June 2010, working the c25k program. I am still working it (never quit!). Below is the visual representation of my progress, with the program week on the vertical axis and the date on the horizontal axis.

The first drop in fitness represents the injunction of my program following a new job (hired at CSC) and the stress that comes with such a major life change.

The stagnation over early 2011 represents the grief period dealing with my father’s death.

The sudden drop at the end of the summer in 2011 represents the tendonitis injury I suffered by running the Chicago half marathon without adequate condition.

The November 2011 stagnation represents the grief period dealing with my sister’s unexpected death.

The minor blip in progress this spring represents a bout of bronchitis.

I WILL ACCOMPLISH THIS PROGRAM. I WILL NEVER GIVE UP.

I post this to show that the road to fitness for some can be very bumpy. You are not alone. Don’t give up! I encourage you to keep trying and I hope by sharing my tattered running history it will motivate you to persist in your striving toward your fitness goals.

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Chicken Chasseur

 

Chicken Chasseur is a well respected French classic. Shocking then that I’d never tried it in a restaurant nor attempted to make it at home. Until now. I found it to be a much more satisfying “hunters” preparation for bone in poultry (also works well for pheasant or other game poultry) than Chicken Cacciatore. The best part just might be that it is ready in just under an hour, making a great weeknight meal when served alongside a salad and roasted vegetables.

The following recipe is what I used in preparing Chicken Chasseur; it is adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Magazine.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves (10 to 12 ounces each), trimmed of excess fat and skin
  • ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium shallot , minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoons port
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup drained canned diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh marjoram leaves
 
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt and pepper. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add chicken breasts skin side down and cook without moving them until skin is crisp and well browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken pieces and brown on second side, about 5 minutes longer. Place browned chicken skin side up on rimmed baking sheet and place chicken in oven; roast until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer. Transfer chicken pieces to serving platter and tent loosely with foil.

  2. While chicken is roasting, pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pan. Add mushrooms and cook over medium-high heat until mushrooms start to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add shallots; cook until softened, about 1 minute longer.

  3. Remove pan from heat and add port; return pan to medium-high heat and cook for 2 minutes, allowing the alcohol to burn off. Add wine; using wooden spoon, scrape browned bits from pan bottom. Simmer briskly until reduced to glaze, about 3 minutes.

  4. Add broth and tomatoes and simmer over medium-high heat; simmer briskly until liquid, mushrooms, and tomatoes measure 1 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes.

  5. When sauce is properly reduced, whisk in butter, one piece at a time, until melted and incorporated. Add herbs and adjust seasoning with pepper. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Jolene

 

This year has been a whirlwind of activity so far. We’ve carved out several weekends for travel- to Los Angeles, New York City (twice), New Orleans, Barcelona via Paris and Amsterdam. Each trip had a very different feel both because of the variety of scenery/activities and  because each time we traveled with different friends. I will write more on the trips in a later post. Have much to write about the good things going on at work also but that too will have to wait.

This morning’s post is all about Jolene.

This is Jolene (we will call her Lena affectionately).

jolene1

Jolene is a three month old retriever mix (perhaps with Corgi) that we adopted from the same local animal shelter where we found Julia 6 years ago. She has to remain at the shelter while she completes all her pre-adoption tasks this week (shots, medical screening, spaying) and we will be bringing her home to major fanfare on Friday, April 13th.

Hubby and I are both so excited to have a new furry ball of joy to love and look forward to a lifetime (her lifetime) of happy memories ahead. Julia gets to play the big sister dog now and has already assumed a more responsible posture- I can see it in her gait.

Visiting the shelter brought back a flood of memories of Jenna when she was a puppy (we adopted her from a shelter also when she was about Jolene’s size). I miss Jenna so much but I know all that love we still have for her will warm Jolene’s little heart as it does for Julia.

Jonathan, Jennifer, Julia and Jolene. I like the sound of that!