Friday, September 21, 2018

Rolling Into Fall: Mini Pumpkin Pie Bites

You guys. I can't believe it but our renovations--which began in February 2017--are almost DONE.

There are still tiny things left to do. A few light fixtures to choose, an intercom system to install, a few missing cabinet doors, a few places where the paint needs touched up. But the big stuff is done. We have a working kitchen and bathrooms, and a fully completed media room & guest suite/laundry area. (Now...there is no 'media' or anything else, really, in the media room yet, but the ROOM is done.)

We don't really have much furniture yet but that will come. In the mean time, we're getting ready to throw a little shindig in October, where I am letting my love of all things fall run wild. (I know it's kind of #basic to love fall, but...well...sorry not sorry.) In the past few weeks I've been trying stuff out, recipes & cocktails & decor ideas, and I'm getting too excited about it not to share.

Today, let me tell you about my mini pumpkin bites.

I love a good pumpkin pie in the fall, but pies aren't super-conducive to the kind of shindig we're throwing, an all-day, come-and-go affair where folks can grab a few snacks & drinks with minimal dishes & utensils involved. What DOES play well with this sort of thing are finger foods--little snackies that you can just grab and pop into your mouth, or your kid's mouth, without the rigamarole of slicing and serving and how-big-a-piece-do-I-want & finding half-eaten slices of whatever all over the house.

Hence pumpkin bites.

I adapted my recipe from this one, and when I say adapted, all I really changed was the crust. Instead of using regular pie crust, I used puff pastry, which took a little trial and error to get right, but in the end I was pretty happy with the results (as were my co-workers, who are the usual beneficiaries of my baking experiments).

=~*=~*=~*=~*=~*=~*=~*=~*=~*=~*=~*=~*=~*

Ingredients

  • 1 package puff pastry1
  • 1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree2
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg for egg wash
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice3
  • Whipped cream4

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Grease and flour (or use nonstick cooking spray) a mini-muffin pan. Set aside.
  • Roll the puff pastry out on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Because we're using a mini muffin tin, you'll need to roll it out VERY thin; like, I dunno, a couple of millimeters. (The first round, I rolled it out thin but not SUPER thin, and the puff pastry puffed up so much that the mini pies were mostly pastry with a little pumpkin on top. Not terrible but also not what I was going for.)
  • Using a round cookie or biscuit cutter (~3 inches diameter) cut out however many rounds you want. (Since you're rolling it so thin you can probably get a lot.)
  • Carefully press each round into the mini-muffin pan. Use your fingers to round the ends into a pie crust.
  • Brush egg wash from one egg to the top edges of each pie.
  • Beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating each until combined.
  • Add pumpkin puree and beat to combine. Stir in vanilla and pumpkin pie spice.
  • Spoon mixture into each mini pie crust almost up to the top.
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until golden around the edges.
  • Remove from oven and let cool on a cooling rack, or chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Pies will be puffy when they come out of the oven, but will sink back down when cooled.
  • Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with more pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon on top and before serving. I like to pipe the whipped cream onto things all fancy-like with a pastry bag but you do you.
  • Keep refrigerated.

1 Or make your own, which is not hard or time consuming, but also store bought is fine.
2 Not canned pumpkin pie filling; you can use real pumpkin if you have something to do with the rest of it but canned is fine.
3 You can make your own with 3 T ground cinnamon, 2 tsp ground ginger, 2 tsp ground nutmeg, 1½ tsp ground allspice, & 1½ tsp ground cloves.
4 I make my own whipped cream (seriously it's SO FAST and EASY and SO MUCH BETTER and even cheaper than store bought) & you should too.

=~*=~*=~*=~*=~*=~*=~*=~*=~*=~*=~*=~*=~*

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Fall Speedfest: Week 5 of 18 #notracing

When I go on long runs, I get to see windmills. #goldengatepark #oceanbeach
I know my training journals as of late are boring and lame and I am sorry. It's been busy lately & it's all I can do to even pay attention to what my workouts are & note that I did them.

I was supposed to run a 5K this past Sunday & even went online to finally sign up for it last Wednesday. But then I noticed that between the internet service fee & $10 to have my bib mailed (sooooo not driving to Alameda from SF to attend an "expo" for a 5K), it would actually be cheaper to just sign up the morning of, in spite of the fact that the race price would have gone up by $5.

For better or worse, that meant that when I ended up feeling kind of sick & exhausted Saturday night, I was waaaaaay less motivated to still go run it. I laid in bed feeling like I was maybe coming down with something, going back and forth as to whether I should set my alarm for 5:30am & just go suck it up for 20-22 minutes. In the end it just didn't seem worth it (particularly the $55 for a 5K part) & instead I pulled the blankets over my head & opted for some extra sleep.

I didn't feel great in the morning but at least no longer felt like I was getting sick. So instead of a 5K race it was 14 easy miles through Golden Gate Park (as per usual). Ah well; another long run in the bank for RNR San Jose Half, which I kind of keep forgetting I'm running in a couple weeks.

On the other hand, my speed workouts have been pretty decent from a sheer speed standpoint. I am running 200m's faster and with less effort than in the past, if only by a bit. The one real downside of not racing the 5K this past weekend was that I don't have a benchmark for how things were going to compare to RTTEOS. I might run another XC race this weekend, but while those are fun, they're not really great for fitness benchmarks unless you have a mark on the same course to compare it to.

~*~*~ Fall '18 Speedfest: Week 5 of 18 ~*~*~

Grand Total: 43 miles
    * 25 easy
    * 4 speed
    * 14 long

Monday 9/10: Karate.

Tuesday 9/11: 3.5 warm up, 4 x 200m / 200m jog, 2 @ MP/AT pace, 4 x 200m / 200m jog, 3.5 cool down = 11 total.

    Usually I prefer jogging to the track (~3.5 miles), doing my workout, & jogging home. It's an easy way to get a less boring warm-up & cool down in & also boost the slow, easy mileage a bit. It also makes the track workouts feel quicker, since when I get there I can jump right into drills & then the workout, & head home as soon as I'm done.

    I didn't *really* want to do it this day, though, because I was still a bit achey from the XC race & didn't feel like I necessarily needed to pack on the extra mileage. I totally would have just driven to the track and done a 1.5 mile warm-up as prescribed in the workout, except it turned out Don needed the car that day, so barring ridiculous things like taking car service to the track and back (uh, yuck, who wants my sweaty post-speedwork ass in their car) or trying to run 200m's on the local sidewalks (NO), I had to jog it.

    And, it was actually fine. My legs felt sore and heavy so I wasn't sure what I was going to be able to do with 200m's. The magic still seems to be there, though; while I didn't run any effortless 0:40's, I DID run them all in the 0:42-45 range at what felt like a very appropriate (ie not hammering things) effort level. The two AT miles (a little slower than marathon pace) in the middle started out pretty easy but got surprisingly hard towards the end. The 200m's after that were a little harder, but not much. I still ran them all between 0:42-0:45.

Wednesday 9/12: Karate.

Thursday 9/13: 10 easy

Friday 9/14: 8 easy

Saturday 9/15: Rest/football game.

    The game was at 11, but we tailgated after & didn't get home until around 6:30pm. I really hadn't done much all day besides sit around and eat but for some reason when we got home I was absolutely exhausted & fell asleep at 7:30. I woke around 10 feeling really awful & at that moment I decided I was NOT getting up at 5:30am to drive to Alameda & pay $55 for a 5K I hadn't signed up for yet. Not sorry.

Sunday 9/16: 3.1 warm up + 3.1 race! Boring old 14 mile long run.

    Man, my legs were tired on this run. I felt done around mile 8. At one point I thought I had two miles left but it was three and I almost cried because I really wanted to be doing anything else at that moment. But I got through it.

Traveling this next week, so getting in workouts could be....interesting....

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Fall Speedfest: Week 4 of 18

This was a little bit of a weird week, being both a recovery week but also kind-of, sort-of a race week as well. I have to say that the 10K on Sept. 2 trashed my legs more than I'd expected; in the past I feel like I've bounced back from short (ie, not double-digits) races fairly quickly, easily back to easy runs after a day of rest, & feeling fairly normal by the end of the week. Definitely not the case this time, for whatever reason. I was sore and my legs were achey for a few days, actually, and in fact it was serious enough that I skipped my Tuesday easy run for another rest day. Although the XC race wasn't a "real" race, I wanted to be fresh enough to at least enjoy it, and when I didn't feel that's the road I was headed towards, I took rest days on Friday and Saturday as well.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Race Report: PA XC Golden Gate Open 6K

Well, I went back and forth about it, but as last weekend approached, I actually found myself getting kind of excited about playing in the dirt in Golden Gate Park with some really (really, *really*) fast people. Sure, my legs were still heavy and whiney after last weekend's all-out effort 10K, but I really wanted to dip my toe into one of these races & see how I liked it, and I knew I wouldn't get a good chance for a few more weeks. Since I'm super super out of practice in cross country and would be one of the slowest people there, though, there was no pressure to run a certain time or place; all I had to do was show up, run hard, & have fun!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Fall Speedfest, Week 3 of 18: Crazy Race Anxiety Dreams!

Oops, running a bit behind with this week's training journal. It was a race week so pretty low mileage.

But before we get to that, gather round, for it is time for Angela's Anxiety Dream Story Hour. Friday night was just two days before Race to the End of Summer, and what better time for a crazy anxiety race dream.

Apparently, I had realized that through some kind of calendar magic, I somehow had a BQ that made me eligible to run in the 2019 race (I don't), and though I had kind of sworn off marathons for a while, I thought, "Well, you never know what could happen, I might never qualify again, I should take advantage of it! And maybe it won't be an arctic flood of Biblical proportions this time!"

In my dream this all happened like two weeks before the race, so I just kind of showed up, with no particular marathon training under my belt, figuring I can probably always *finish* a marathon, even if it's not particularly fast. Then as I was heading to the Athlete's Village, it occurred to me that sure, I could probably *finish*, but I'd probably fuck up my skin and toenails again and be in serious pain for a week, and then Don would be mad at me because I didn't tell him ("You said you were going to stop breaking yourself!"), and for a moment I considered whether this was really the best choice. But hey, I figured, why have ONE Boston Marathon medal when you can have TWO Boston Marathon medals.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Race Report: Race to the End of Summer 10K 2018

And #fallspeedfest2018 is off and running!

Race to the End of Summer was my first race since Big Sur Marathon over 4 months ago and it felt good to pin on a bib. I'd run this race twice before, in both 2016 and 2017; it's a solid local event, small and low-key but well organized, so it had been on my calendar since last year. I ran it in 2016 as my first tune up for CIM & shocked myself by running just 17 seconds off my PR & snagging 2nd overall & 1st in my age group (it's a small race) after just a few weeks of training (mostly lots of easy jogging) & only three speed workouts. Then last year (during the Bay Area's record-setting heatwave, after two days of moving & a night of basically no sleep) I completely fell apart & ran by far the worst 10K of my life. Clearly I had unfinished business with this race!

This year, as in 2016, I was only a few weeks back into running, almost all slow easy miles, & just three workouts (& oh yeah those eight weeks I took completely off from running after Boston 2 Big Sur). In a way, this took some of the pressure off--this was just my first race of an 18 week #fallspeedfest season, so all I really wanted to do was go in as fresh as possible, run hard, and not wimp out in order to get a baseline for the rest of the fall.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Fall Speedfest, Week 2 of 18: trendy strava ennui + workouts are hard

Happy Monday!
This week was my highest mileage week since Boston training at 48.5 miles. I did ramp things up fairly gradually but still definitely felt the increase towards the end of Sunday's long run--no pain or injuries or anything like that, but definitely some general fatigue in the legs in those last few miles. Which, hey, is the whole point, so.

Happily, this week tapers off a bit for Race to the End of Summer. I know I won't be able to taper for everything I run this fall, but I want to try to use RTTEOS as a kind of fitness gauge, so I'm trying to get there as fresh as possible.

Now. Let's talk about Strava for a moment.

You know how it's kind of trendy to every few months write a paragraph-long post about how Facebook is making you unhappy and ruining the world and you are officially taking a Hiatus "for the foreseeable future" and your "real friends" will know how to contact you?

It seems like recently something similar has begun to happen with Strava (or maybe it isn't new at all & I've just begun to notice it). People will post things about how they've gotten "disillusioned" with it or "just [aren't] motivated" by segment PRs or KOHs or whatever anymore & are just gonna "disconnect" for a while by unlinking their Strava account/running without GPS/running without any watch at all.

Which, hey! You do you. But honestly, how "illusioned" were you with Strava to begin with, and why? Like, what did you expect it to do for your life besides announce your every workout to the world? Creating profound and lasting satisfaction/deep and meaningful inner happiness out of your hobby is a lot to ask of an internet app, guys.