Black & White & Color, Photo Challenge

I am going to break my tradition of never posting pictures of myself today. This was a shot I uploaded to Instagram on a day where I ran without goals. No pace, no distance and no time recorded. Just a path and some good music, and even better weather!

This was one of my last runs in Tucson before heading back to Seattle and I was feeling the future pain of training in the wind, rain and cold!

So which version captures the feeling of freedom of running without limits?

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The color version of the end of my run

or

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The Black and White version

Grab your camera or phone and join Linda from Everyone Else has the best titles and Take the “Black and White and Color” photo challenge!

Black & White & Color, Photo Challenge

Last night we went to a Meet Up Tucson group. The goal was to meet some of our new neighbors and, finally, start getting to know some people locally. We met up with the “off the couch gang” at a Zona 78, an Italian restaurant. I had this raspberry martini (to start!)

It was delicious and the company was great, we really did have a fun time! I got to thinking this morning about using the drink for this challenge, but wanted to take it a little further with some animation, so which do you prefer:

 

 

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The color version of the raspberry martini with bubbles

or

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The black and white version with bubbles

Grab your camera or phone and join Linda from Everyone Else has the best titles and Take the “Black and White and Color” photo challenge!

Black & White & Color, Photo Challenge

Here is my contribution to Linda’s challenge today. I generally take a photo of each sunrise here in Tucson. I am partial to the beautiful colors, but was a little curious how the image would be affected if it were in black and white. Very different pictures!

Grab your camera or phone and join Linda from Everyone Else has the best titles and Take the “Black and White and Color” photo challenge!

 

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Guest in Jest #18 Invisible-No-More

I was honored to be a Guest in Jest on Linda’s blog! If you haven’t done so already, check out her site and consider submitting a story for her to share 🙂

Everyone Else Has the Best Titles

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My name is Dee Dee, and I go by Dtills on WordPress. I started my blog, Invisible-no-more.com because I felt, well, invisible! I had entered that magical time known as “the midlife crisis”, sort of fell into it really, and couldn’t figure out how to begin the painful process of pulling my life together. My youngest had gone off to college, my husband and I were not connecting well and I felt alone and isolated. My blog is a chronicle of those activities, actions and connections formed that have helped me piece together a future that I now feel is hopeful and engaging. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have helped me as I work through this transition!

As for an amusing story, well this was not all that amusing at the time, but with the passage of 23 years, it has taken on…

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Leftover Challenge: Chicken and Orzo Soup

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One of the my favorite things to do for dinner is to roast a whole chicken. That, with some roasted veggies and a nice roll or slice of bread, makes for a satisfying meal that is also fitness friendly! This is actually one of the most requested dinners from my hubby and our two kids.

It is just the two of here in Tucson, so I knew that this nice, big roaster would easily pull double duty the next day. I always choose the largest bird I can find, this one is just over 6 lbs. I pat it dry, stuff the cavity with a lemon, onion and whatever herbs I have that will go bad soon. I tie him up, rub olive oil over the skin and add salt and pepper. This gets popped into a 400-425°F preheated oven for about an hour and a half (until the temp reads 155-160°F). After a 10 minute rest we are ready to carve and eat.

After dinner I spend a few minutes picking the carcass clean! I am looking for about a pound of left over meat to use the next day in the soup. And that is where we start now!

This soup is low in fat so we need some serious flavor help. I find that smoked paprika and red pepper flakes are great flavor additions.

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I am not a fan of regular paprika but the smoked version really adds some depth. White wine adds some much needed acid, and you only need a cup. I detest opening a full bottle of wine for 1 cup, and I don’t want to spend a lot on wine that I am only using for cooking. I have found this wonderful 4 pack of pinot sold in most grocery stores. 1 little bottle is just about 1 cup.

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So no waste and it is not expensive. They sell red wine four packs as well and I keep both on hand for these sorts of recipes. Back to the soup!

Heat 1 tablespoon or so in a 4-6 quart pot and add 1 finely chopped onion. After the onion becomes translucent add the minced garlic, paprika and red pepper flakes, cook for 2-3 minutes longer.

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Now add the acidic ingredients, 4 chopped plum tomatoes and the white wine. A quick word about the tomatoes. I like to core and remove the seeds because they add no actual flavor and too much water to the soup.

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Add the chicken broth and bring the soup to a boil. While the pot is cooking away, prepare your chicken. Chop about 1 pound of cooked chicken into bite sized pieces.

And, rinse and drain 1 15 oz. can of navy beans.

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Now is also a good time to cook the orzo. You may be thinking “why don’t I just dump the orzo into the soup and cook it all together?” The answer is yes, absolutely you could do that! But, unless you are feeding a crowd and will eat the entire pot of soup that day, I would advise against that. The pasta will break down in the presence of the acids and become mushy. Not a texture we enjoy here! Also, if you prepare the orzo separately then people can add as much or as little as they like, depending on their carb needs 🙂

I, sadly, did not have another pot to make the pasta so had to improvise. My deep skillet did the trick! While the orzo is cooking, add the chicken and beans to the soup and continue cooking until the chicken is heated through.

Near the end, add the mushrooms and peas and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. The final addition is the spinach, it only needs to wilt and you want to retain the bright green so add this last before plating.

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And that’s it! Time to serve it up. Add the orzo to the bowl, don’t worry if it is not hot the soup will take care of that.

If the kids don’t like soup, they might like the orzo with a little butter or marinara. You can make as much or as little orzo as your family requires.

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You can use store bought rotisserie chicken for an even faster meal prep.

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I have also made this with both pork and uncooked chicken. Just take a pound of either and cut into 1 inch cubes. Brown the cubes on all sides in the 1 tablespoon of olive oil, you don’t need to cook the meat through as it will continue to cook in the soup. Remove the meat from the pot and set aside, then proceed with the recipe (make sure to scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan when you add the wine and tomatoes, this is great for flavoring the soup!)

My favorite dinner rolls to serve with this are found here.

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Chicken and orzo soup, a great way to transform that chicken from last night!

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Chicken and Orzo Soup

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print
Credit: invisible-no-more.com

Ingredients

-1 Tablespoon Olive oil

-1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

-4 cloves garlic, finely minced

-2 teaspoons smoked paprika

-1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

-4 plum tomatoes, chopped

-1 cup white wine

-4 cups low sodium chicken broth

-1 pound cooked chicken or pork, cut into 1 inch cubes

-1 15oz. can white beans, or navy beans

-4 oz mushrooms, sliced

-6 oz. frozen peas or corn

-2-4 oz. fresh spinach

-1/2 to 1 box Orzo pasta, cooked and drained

 

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion to the pot and cook, stirring often, until just beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add garlic, paprika and crushed red pepper (if using) and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add wine and tomatoes, increase heat to high and stir to scrape up any browned bits.
  4. Add broth and bring to a boil.
  5. Add the cooked chicken and beans and continue cooking until the chicken is heated through. Reduce to a simmer.
  6. Prepare the Orzo as per package instructions, drain and set aside
  7. Add mushrooms and peas (or corn, or both) and stir thoroughly. Add the spinach at the end. Serve over the orzo. 

Half Marathon Training, October Wrap Up!

So here it is, November 7th, and I am just now getting around to posting the results of our last half marathon! I have been a little preoccupied with some other things, but now I am ready to get some closure on this, my fourth half!

I am not going to post our training schedule from October because it was a joke! We did not stick to it at all. We started off ok. October 3rd and 5th went as planned.

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I got my 5 miles in amongst the swirling leaves!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and October 5th was a gorgeous 4 miles on a sunny day!IMG_0087

That’s when the wheels pretty much came off the bus! We fly to Kauai and had a marvelous time, not running! Well, my hubby did manage a 4 mile run but the humidity and hiking knocked me out! So when we returned on the 12th, it was a tough 5 miles for me!

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Even though the run was hard the weather was stunning! Fall had made it’s way into Seattle while we were gone!

 

 

 

Now it was time to log some serious miles if we wanted to get ready for the half! We did 11 miles around Seward Park on a spectacular day! Mount Rainier was out big time 🙂

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It was tough! And with only two weeks to the half, I was getting worried!

I did three shorter runs on the 18th, 20th and 22nd, these would be the last in Seattle, and in the rain, before we hit the road for the 24 hour drive to Tucson.

We were trapped in the car until the 25th. This is when everything became real! We had a total of 5 days to get acclimated to the elevation, heat and hills (so many hills!).

I ran 5 miles on the 25th and 4 more on the 27th-just two days to the half!

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I have never felt so unprepared for a half marathon in my life! Training was not where I wanted it to be, I was not acclimated at all and nutrition? Forget about it! But the day came anyway!

Fortunately the organizer brilliantly had the start before sunrise, at 6:30am. The first 8-8.5 miles went really well. I was happy with the temperature and felt pretty good. Then mile 9 hit, like a brick wall! The temperature started to climb and the oxygen felt like it was gone from the atmosphere. My legs turned to lead, as they often do, and I began a strategy of walking up the hills and running the flats and downhills only. Interestingly, I was not that much slower than my worst time. I ran about the same this time as I did for my first half marathon. I did finish, and that was the goal. How did my hubby do? Only off by two minutes from his current PR!! I hate him-no I don’t-yes I do!

We were both happy to have survived! One of the cool things about the medals was that they linked up to make map of Tucson. Do you remember the 10k we ran last month? That is the medal from the 10k race on the right in the picture above. If you finished the half marathon in October, you received the medal on the left, and when you put them together you get a mountain scene. Kinda cool! We have not seen that before. There was a third medal to make the scene even larger, but that was for a 5k back in August and we were in Seattle at that time.

Since it was Sunday we got home, showered and headed out to celebrate our “victories” by watching the SeaHawks Game!

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Everything turned out great, we can still walk and the Hawks won the game! Now I am running to just enjoy it and really haven’t thought about the next race. It will be number 5 for me, so I want it to be a special location. Any suggestions??

French-Irish Beef Stew, the short version!

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Back in December (almost 1 year ago!) I posted a recipe that I called French-Irish Beef Stew. I explained that the name reflected the marriage of both a traditional French Bourgeon and a hearty Irish stew, full of potatoes and other veggies. We do love that recipe but it requires an overnight step making it a two day process. Don’t get me wrong, the time is totally worth it! But sometimes we want dinner a little faster than that, so this version was born!

I began by dicing five slices of applewood smoked bacon and browning it in a Tablespoon of olive oil in a 6 quart, Dutch oven.

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The bacon was removed from the pan and set aside for later. The beef cubes were dried well with paper towels to facilitate browning. Salt and pepper were added and the beef was seared in the hot oil on all sides. This was done in batches, and in a single layer, to ensure that the beef did not sweat and was able to caramelize properly. This was added to the pan of bacon for later.

The batches take time, but it is a really important step to develop the flavor fully. While the beef was cooking I began prepping the vegetables.

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Two yellow onions were diced, as well as several cloves of garlic

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The carrots were cut into 1 inch pieces, on the bias

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Three Yukon Gold potatoes were diced

When the last batch of beef came out of the pot, the onions, carrots and potatoes were added and cooked for 10-15 minutes until the onions became translucent.

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After that time, the garlic was added and the mixture cooked for another minute or so. Then the beef and bacon were reintroduced to the pot.

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Now comes the good stuff! 1 bottle (750 ml) of red wine was added along with enough beef broth to cover the contents.

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Finally, tomato paste and thyme were stirred into the mixture. The pot was covered and placed into an oven, set at 250°F for 1 hour and a half, or until the veggies and beef were fork tender.

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The next addition was the sautéed mushrooms, which I like to do separately and then add to the stew near the end. You could put them directly into the stew but by preparing them independently it will add another level of flavor.

I happen to have some fancy mushrooms left over from a different recipe. I made “fancy mushroom toast” earlier in the week. If you haven’t had that, I do recommend it!

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Fancy Mushroom Toast, with 5 different types of mushrooms

You could use any type of mushroom for this stew, I just happen to have purchased more than I needed for the toasts! Sauté the mushrooms in a combination of butter and olive oil, until soft and dark brown in color. Reserve for later.

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When the stew is done cooking add the sautéed mushrooms and we like to add frozen peas (the Irish side again). The stew needs to be thickened at this point and I like to use a beurre manié. (so French!)

 

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Combine 2 T of butter with 2 T flour to make a paste. You will be able to add as much or as little as you like to thicken your sauce to your liking.

 

 

Bring the pot to a boil and then lower to a simmer for 15 minutes to make sure the flour taste has cooked off and that the components are heated through.

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Now you are ready plate it up! I added a little chopped parsley and a big spoon.

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Enjoy this one!

French-Irish Stew, the Short Version

  • Servings: 6-10
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

A hearty stew that marries the best of classic, rich French techniques with the earthy notes of an Irish stew.

Credit: Invisible-no-more.com

Ingredients

-4-6 slices applewood bacon, diced (about 8 oz)

-1 Tablespoon olive oil

-2 1/2 pounds good quality chuck beef, cut into 1 inch cubes

-kosher salt

-fresh ground pepper

-2 yellow onions, cut into 1 inch cubes

-1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1 – 1 ½ inch cubes

-1 lb. small Yukon gold potatoes, halved or quartered

-3 – 5 garlic cloves, minced

-1 750ml bottle of red wine

-2 c. beef broth (or enough to cover the meat and veggies)

-1 T tomato paste

-1 t. fresh thyme leaves (or ½ t dried thyme leaves)

-1 T kosher salt

-2 t. fresh ground pepper

 

-4 T room temperature unsalted butter, divided

-2 T all purpose flour

-8 oz. fresh mushrooms, thickly sliced

-1 10oz. package of frozen peas

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven at 250° F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven and brown the bacon over medium heat. Remove the bacon and reserve for later.
  3. Completely dry all the beef cubes with paper towels. Add salt and pepper to taste and sear the beef in the bacon fat in small batches. Do not crowd the pan, take your time and sear all the sides. Remove the beef and store it with the bacon for later.
  4. Add the onions, carrots and potatoes to the pot and allow to brown for 15 to 20 minutes, or until your desired doneness. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  5. Pour the bottle wine over the stew and add enough of the beef broth to cover the meat and vegetables.
  6. Add the tomato paste, thyme, salt and pepper. Add the reserved beef and bacon, and any accumulated juices from the pan into the pot. Bring to a simmer, cover and put into the oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until the vegetables are fork tender.
  7. When the stew is done in the oven place on the stove over medium heat. Combine 2 T of butter with the flour to make a paste. Add the beurre manié in small batches by stirring into the stew, it will begin to thicken immediately. Sauté the mushrooms in the remaining 2T of butter. Add the mushrooms and peas to the stew and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Season to taste.