Running Forward

A Christmas to Remember

Normally on Christmas we have around 20 people over at our house for a big dinner, but this year turned out a bit different. We started the morning off late and opened presents at 10:30 in order to let my brother sleep in. Let me just say that this was the first year EVER that my dad was not able to guess all of his gifts. My mom and I were so impressed with ourselves. Once the wrapping paper was cleaned up, we got busy in the kitchen. I really didn’t have too much to make since we only had one family coming over this year. My grandparents made their annual lasagna of course.

I contributed a big chopped salad, some green beans and bok choy, cornbread, and homemade brownies. Let me just say, these brownies were by far the best I’ve ever made.  Chewy, fudgy, and chocolatey. The Addisons arrived around 5:30 and we all sat down to dinner shortly after. We had a blast and I enjoyed having a more intimate Christmas dinner. Everyone was involved in the conversations and we all devoured the delicious food. During dessert our neighbors joined us and we all sat around the Christmas tree and fireplace to share stories. I love when days turn out even better than you could have imagined. So thankful.

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Peppermint Bark

I finally had a free morning today. After making a delicious smoothie and downing two cups of black coffee I ran to the gym for spin class. It flew by today! I’m going to another one tomorrow, so let’s all hope I’ll be able to walk on Christmas day. I also ran a few errands, then had a few extra minutes of time. Of course, I cooked. My mom has been talking about peppermint bark for quite a few days now, so I took it upon myself to whip up a batch. Let me just say, this is one of the easiest things to make. It’s just a level above cereal.

Peppermint Bark

1 bag semisweet chocolate chips

1 bag white chocolate chips

1 pack of candy canes, crushed

First, lay out a large piece of wax paper. Next, melt the semisweet chocolate. I used the microwave, but any method will do. Simply spread the chocolate into a thin layer on the wax paper. Wait for it to dry, then add the melted white chocolate chips on top. Before the chocolate melts, sprinkle the candy cane pieces over the top. Lightly press the pieces into the chocolate to make sure they stick. Then all you have to do is use your self control to let the chocolate dry. Once finished, simply break apart the chocolate and serve in a pretty dish.

Finally, I have two days off! Spin class and Christmas Eve dinner with friends tomorrow!

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Chicken Noodle Soup

My dad makes the best chicken noodle soup in the world and that’s a fact. Over the years I closely watched him work his magic in the kitchen in hopes that I too would one day become a soup master. He came down with a cold this week, which meant yesterday was the perfect time to try out my chicken noodle skills. I arrived home from work, went to the gym, then rushed to the store to get my missing ingredients. Egg noodles. Check. Chicken broth. Check. Chicken. Not quite. I got up to the register and realized that the chicken breast was actually $9. I looked at the wrong price. Oh well. I would still make chicken noodle soup somehow.

Chicken Noodle Soup

5 stalks of celery

4 carrots

poultry seasoning

pepper

large can of chicken stock

3 cups water

egg noodles

barley

already cooked chicken breast (I used leftover chicken from the night before)

parmesan cheese

oregano

Start by browning the chopped carrots and celery in the soup pot with some pepper and poultry seasoning. Once the veggies are soft, add the chicken broth, water, egg noodles, and barley. Let the mixture come up to a slow boil, then lower the heat down to just keep it warm. Chop the leftover chicken and add it to the soup with a few sprinkles of parmesan cheese and oregano. It’s great to make a big batch so that you have the leftovers throughout the week.

I made my eggnog poundcake for work last week and have been wanting to bake something else ever since. So, tonight I tried an almond lime glaciers recipe except I used clementine zest instead of lime zest. Still turned out yummy, and I got a picture too!

 

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Moving Around

I work at a restaurant that’s attached to a pretty well-known toy store. I started out as a hostess and moved on to serving last Christmas break. This past week I finally began working at the dessert bar, which means I get to make delicious sweets all day! Today I spent my time making brownie pops, baking cupcakes, and making ice cream sundaes. Tomorrow’s assignment: making gingerbread houses. As if that wasn’t great enough, my uniform consists of a comfy chef’s coat and a hilarious hat that I call my “hibachi hat”.

Since my restaurant gig is only a college job I’m also trying to gain experience in jobs that actually require my degree. On Monday I made arrangements to meet with the branding team at Turner Classic Movies. I’ve been obsessed with the channel ever since I discovered it in middle school, but had no idea what to expect when visiting. As soon as I pulled up to the gated Turner “campus” I knew it would be a great place. I spent the first part of my visit chatting with a woman from branding about her job and past experience. I always love listening to people tell the story of how they acquired a job they love. Hopefully, I’ll retain the information and get an awesome career too. We met up with one of her coworkers a bit later for lunch and a tour of the studios. I got to see a lot of different sets being used for different shows. Finally, we reached the TCM set where Robert Osbourne does the introductions to all the primetime films. Monday happened to be a filming day, so Robert was there! We visited with the crew during their lunch hour and got to talk with Robert for a bit, who was very friendly. At the end of my visit they sent me off with an armful of TCM goodies. I can’t wait to visit again in the spring.

I got home earlier than I expected, so I quickly got dressed and ran out the door for a yoga class at Atlanta Fitness. I’ve done yoga before, but never at this gym so I didn’t quite know what to expect. The strength moves were tough! I ended up using muscles that haven’t been used since my gymnastics days. I already plan on going again soon. What a perfect Monday!

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Cornbread and Spin Class

Every year during Christmas break I give my running shoes a rest and get a month long membership at my favorite gym, Atlanta Fitness. They have a good deal for students that includes all of the classes. I’ve tried a few different ones, but my favorite is spin class. Usually the music is great and the workout leaves me feeling tired and sore. Even though I plan on running another half marathon in February, my body needs a break from the usually running routine.

On another note, my family had our annual Christmas dinner with my uncle and his wife last night. I had to work for most of the day, so I whipped up some cornbread in the morning before I left. I modified a recipe that I found online and it ended up being the moistest cornbread I’ve ever tasted. Everyone loved it. The salsa monterey jack cheese also gave it a bit of a kick.

Kicked Up Cornbread

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

pinch of salt

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1/2 stick butter, melted

1/2- 3/4 cups shredded salsa monterey jack cheese

Preheat the oven to 400. Mix the dry ingredients together until combined. Add all of the wet ingredients and mix everything together. Pour the batter into a greased dish and bake for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through.

I didn’t even think about taking a picture, but it was definitely delicious. This morning I have a day off of work, but am actually driving down to Turner Classic Movies to meet their advertising team. I love exploring my field!

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Eggnog Pound Cake

My busy holiday schedule has been keeping me from posting as much lately. I’ve been working, going to the gym, and running errands everyday. However, last Saturday I made eggnog poundcake and chocolate pecan biscotti to bring to the neighborhood Christmas party. Both recipes turned out delicious! Here’s the link for the poundcake. It was such a success that I just baked a second one to bring to work tomorrow. The biscotti turned out super crunchy and tasty too. The biscotti recipe is here. I had pecans and chocolate on hand, so I used those instead of the almonds. Just swap out the ingredients according to what you already have in your pantry. Now it’s time for another weekend full of work.

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Manhattan Clam Chowder

I made Manhattan clam chowder last week and have been meaning to post the recipe for a while now. I snapped some pics of it, but they’re on my laptop, which isn’t alive right now. My charger died, so I’m going to exchange it tomorrow. Unfortunately, all my pictures are on that computer, so you’ll have to use your imagination. Let’s begin. Unlike the more familiar New England clam chowder, the Manhattan style is broth based (aka, way more healthier).

one large box chicken broth

two cans diced tomatoes

3 carrots

3 celery ribs

half an onion

two cans minced clams

1 baked potato

2 red potatoes

small can of shoepeg corn

Start by dicing and sauteeing the onion, carrots, and celery with a small pinch of salt and pepper. Once they’re a bit browned, add the diced red potatoes and continue sauteeing until almost tender. Add the chicken broth, tomatoes, clams (including juice), and corn to the pot. Let simmer until vegetables are tender and flavors have melded together. Next, chop up the baked potato and add it to a blender with enough broth to almost cover it. Pulse the blender until the mixture is smooth. Add the potato puree to the soup in order to thicken up the broth and give it more substance. Let it simmer on the stove until you’re ready to serve. I also added various herbs and spices to my soup. It’s delicious and will warm you up on a chilly winter day.

Yesterday I made some desserts for our neighborhood’s Christmas party; eggnog poundcake and chocolate pecan biscotti. I used some already-existing recipes online, so I’ll post those as soon as my laptop can be charged again. Both desserts turned out delicious and were a big hit. Luckily, I get a day off of work tomorrow, so I’ll be able to put together another dinner for the family. Hopefully, I’ll remember to post it in a timely manner this time.

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Dancing, Filming, and Cooking

Wow, these past few days have been crazy. I went to my sorority’s tacky Christmas party on Tuesday night with one of my best guy friends. We danced all night and had so much fun! Yesterday I had the opportunity to intern at a commercial shoot for the TNT. I had no idea what to expect, but knew that I had to be on location at 7:30 am. I set my alarm for 5:30 and made it out the door by 6:45. Throughout the day I helped with small errands, such as buying lightbulbs, moving objects, fetching water, etc. Getting to see the whole filming process was amazing though. Two commercials were shot by the end of the day, and each one required hours to film. The crew took multiple angles of every scene and let the actors improvise in some parts. One of the coolest things about the shoot was that we had to black out all of the windows to make it seem like it was nighttime. It was pretty chaotic, but I managed to snap a few pics. Here’s one of the first commercial. The crew was trying to decide how to set up for the next shot.

We ended up really behind schedule and didn’t finish up shooting until 9:30 pm. We had to clean up the house so that it looked like nothing ever happened, which didn’t end until 11. I finally got home at 11:45 and ran straight to bed. Such a long day, but so worth it. Hopefully, I’ll get to go to some more shoots soon.

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Knees Need a Break Too

Since my half marathon is over and the weather is colder I’ve been cutting back on my running and visiting the gym instead. Today was my first time running since last Sunday and it felt great up until the end. My stupid knee. I just told a friend that I would run a half marathon with her in February, but I’ll have to really take it easy over Christmas break. Looks like I’ll be at the gym most of the time instead of hitting the pavement. Things like this make me wish I had stopped doing gymnastics earlier. Who knows though?

On another subject, only two more days! Just a presentation today and tomorrow, then I’m free to head home on Wednesday morning. I can’t wait for Christmas break to be official!

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A Golden Evening

Man, what a long day. A good day, but still long. I went to the gym first thing this morning and used the elliptical and some ab machines. By the time I showered and ate lunch it was time for me to head into work. Luckily, we were able to watch the big game on the computer in the back area of the store. Business was slow, but I got off at 7. I walked home and immediately turned the TV on to watch the remainder of the game. We lost, but at least we made it all the way to the championship game.

I also got started on dinner by throwing some frozen green beans in the oven to roast and cubing some tofu. I used this method for the tofu this time and it worked pretty well. After the tofu finished cooking, I took sliced up two zucchinis and sauteed them until tender. I added the roasted green beans and tofu then tossed the whole mixture with soy sauce and nutritional yeast. So good! For dessert I baked an apple that I grabbed from the sorority house yesterday. I simply halved it, took out the core, and sprinkled on some cinnamon. I placed them cut-side down in a baking dish and left them in the oven on 350 for about 25 minutes. There was a bit of an explosion, but it still tasted delicious. I’ll definitely be repeating that one.

Now I’m watching It’s a Wonderful Life in the living room with candles and the mini Christmas tree. Also making some sleepytime tea to enhance the coziness. Hopefully tomorrow will turn out just as great.

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