Sunday, March 20, 2011

Virginia is for Lovers

And that is exactly where I've been huddled up during a nice portion of my vacation. I must admit, it was the perfect get away. The cabin we stayed at is so remote and has no cell phone service, internet or cable tv --- can you say heaven? Considering my job requires me to sit at a computer for about 11 hours a day, it was amazing to be hiking trails and playing in the sunlight!!

Below is a pretty pic of my beloved cabin in Virginia.


In addition to hiking trails, fishing, cuddling by the bon fire at night, we brought some fun recipes to try at night. My favorite was the Pizzaiola-Style Flank Steak Pinwheels. It was delicious!!! I must admit that I watched Rachael Ray make this on the Food Network a couple weeks ago and I've been dying to try it for myself! It's actually really easy to make and was enough for two more meals. I took some pictures of the process and final product, which I'll post once I get Justin's camera :)

Ingredients:
* 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
* 1 cup arugula or baby spinach, packed
* 3/4 to 1 pound flank steak
* 1/4 pound spicy Italian salumi, such as Calabrese salami, sliced and finely chopped
* 1 cup shredded sharp provolone cheese
* 1/2 cup shredded pecorino cheese
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling
* 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or finely chopped
* 1 small chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped, optional
* 3 to 4 tablespoons grated onion
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram, scant 1/3 palmful
* 2 tablespoons double-concentrate tomato paste
* 1/2 cup dry white or red wine
* 1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 4 slices good quality Italian or peasant style bread
* Chopped or torn basil, for garnish
* Giardiniera hot pickled vegetable salad, for garnish, optional

Directions:

Preheat the oven with a cooling rack-topped baking sheet on the top shelf of the oven to 425 degrees F. Heat a griddle pan or large cast iron skillet to medium-high heat.

Place the parsley and arugula in a food processor and pulse into a finely chopped mixture.

Prepare the steak by cutting it nearly in half horizontally and spread it open like a book.

Top the meat with the chopped salumi and the chopped greens, then return the food processor bowl (without rinsing) to the base. Top the greens layer with the cheeses, then tightly roll the meat into a long, thin log and tie it up with kitchen string to secure. Season the meat with salt and pepper and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Brown the meat all over in the hot griddle pan, 5 to 6 minutes, and then transfer to the hot rack-topped baking sheet and finish cooking the steak in the oven, 10 to 12 minutes more for medium-rare to medium.

While the meat cooks, in a saucepot over medium-high heat, add the extra-virgin olive oil. Add 1/2 the garlic, chile, onion, and oregano and saute for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste for 30 seconds, and then add the wine. Puree the tomatoes in the food processor and add to the sauce. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer until thickened, 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan with the remaining garlic. Toast the bread and brush liberally with garlic butter.

Slice the steak into thin wheels, discarding string, and arrange on the garlic toasts, topping with sauce and some torn basil. Serve a little pickled giardiniera salad along side in ramekins, as a garnish.

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I highly recommend (I mean HIGHLY recommend) you try the above recipe for yourself! You and your guest(s) will be happy you did.

Since I was living it up on rugged terrain this week, running wasn't a priority for the first time in a while. I had an awesome 5 mile run on Tuesday morning before we left for VA and then used Wednesday and Thursday as cross training days. I use the term "cross training" loosely this week compared to my previously more intense cross training sessions.

My week ended with the following running schedule:
Monday - rest
Tuesday - 5 miles (I think I ran a 9:10 pace, which felt amazing)
Wednesday - cross training (hiking and rowing)
Thursday - cross training (hiking and rowing)
Friday - rest
Saturday - 3 miles (this did not feel good at all)
Sunday - 8 miles (9:37 pace)

Today's 8 mile run felt really good! I was dreading it at first and put it off alllll day until around 6pm and decided it was now or never (I honestly preferred never at the time). I don't normally dread my runs, I look forward to them every time, but after last night's festivities, I was using left over Mich Ultra's in my system as a poor excuse for wanting out on today's run. Since I've been running so frequently, I've made a conscious effort not to drink a casual glass of wine or have those weekend nights that result in sleeping in until noon and being a bump on a log all day. This training has been a real lifestyle change for me and I'm loving it! (note: I was never much of a weekend partier before running, but I did have my fun nights once in a while)

Also, I want to note that my beer of choice is Mich Ultra. It's funny because the sole reason I choose this beer is because Lance Armstrong's commercials show him drinking it after he works out so I figure if he can drink it and stay in shape - so can I! :) I normally don't think Coke or Bud Light commercials make me act on their product, but Mich Ultra has it figured out. Has anybody else fallen for this or similar products? Is it just me?

Last note of the night - CONGRATULATIONS STACEY ON FINISHING YOUR HALF-MARATHON this weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wooooo!!! You go girl!! I'm soooo happy for you!!!

Stacey and I have been on the same training schedule and her half-marathon was this weekend in Wilmington. She has been such a great running buddy and I can't wait to do the Chapel Hill 10 mile race together on April 9th!!

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Sunday evening!!

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