Ham and Cheese Pasta

Ham and Cheese Pasta is such a simple name – how about Schinkennudeln? Well, that is just the German name for this dish which generally consists of noodles, ham, cheese and sometimes cream or egg. I got this meal idea from What’s Gaby Cooking, I love her website and her Snapchat is my favorite. Most Friday’s you can find her on Snap cooking a meal from her website. She seems fun!

This meal was appealing to me as I made it in one pot, had simple ingredients and seemed like a perfect, hearty, winter meal. I made a huge batch of this and froze leftovers for some upcoming lunches.

If you are like those of us currently in central ND and mostly snowed in under a blizzard, you probably will find you have the ingredients on hand to make this tonight!

hampastapm

Ham and Cheese Pasta via What’s Gaby Cooking, slightly altered

INGREDIENTS

  • 3-4 cups (dry) pasta of your choice (I used whole grain rotini)
  • 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water (reserved from cooking the pasta)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced (I used a red onion)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 9 oz.) diced ham
  • 12 oz. bag of frozen veggies (I used a mix of peas, corn and green beans)
  • ½ cup (heaping) grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup (heaping) grated Colby jack cheese
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, red pepper flakes (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in the same pot on medium heat until warm. Add the onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes until fragrant. Add the chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Stir in the cubed ham and the frozen veggies and toss to combine.
  3. Add in the reserved pasta cooking water and then the pasta and 2 varieties of cheese. Season with salt and pepper, red pepper and lemon juice or zest. Toss to combine and serve as needed.
  4. You can let it cool and portion into servings to freeze for future meals.
    hampasta03

If you are vegetarian, I think this would be great without ham and even more veggies. Enjoy!

Posted in Dinner, Dinner idea, Main Dish, Veggie | Leave a comment

Workout Wear of the Moment

Fitness wear has certainly evolved over the past 20-30 years, hasn’t it? Long gone are the simple t-shirts and shorts we always wore to basketball practice. In addition to those, there is spandex, polyester, Lycra, wicking, technical and performance fabrics and more. Chief among your decision on picking what to wear should be comfort, not what is the “cutest”, most expensive or what others are wearing. I certainly got along fine in my t-shirt and shorts in high school but prefer things a bit differently now.

I’ve gone through a variety of workout clothes. I used to only wear shorts and tanks with built in bras. I still like both of those options but it really depends on what activity I am going to do. If I am biking, shorty shorts are out (hello, chub rub), while running I prefer compression capris and I have finally realized that though my boobs aren’t exactly large, they deserve more support than just a built in bra.

01fitness

What you wear is up to you – there are options galore in styles, colors, fabrics and price points. I wanted to share a few of my faves and why I like them. I should point out that I am seriously cheap. I like to spend money on food, drink and travel but clothes don’t really do it for me. Almost everything I buy is on sale. You won’t find me wearing Under Armor, Nike, Lululemon or other big brand names for the most part (though those are all great brands). I’ve found Old Navy, Kohl’s and JCPenney offerings to be just as suitable for me, personally. I’m sure those brands last a long time but I exercise and sweat a lot. I still have some of these brands I wear that are several years old.

Compression capri, bike shorts and pants

I personally prefer to wear longer shorts or capris when I bike to protect my thighs from the bike seat. I prefer to run in capris or long pants. To be honest, I’ve lost quite a bit of weight and there is a lot of skin out there that jiggles and moves. I like to be sucked in and all in one place. If you feel good, if you feel like you look good, your workout motivation is already half way there.

02fitness

Bonus points to me if they are high rise and/or have an inner pocket for keys or a small snacks. These are Old Navy brand and I recently got these on sale – love them.

Sports bras

Since I am not real gifted in this area, I don’t really require much. Old Navy has great sales on theirs. My favorite though, is a more fitted bra I got at Victoria’s Secret. I have only bought two things there (both workout) and really like them. For running, the more fitted cups and band offer nice support and I love a crossed back. I would say the biggest change recently in workout wear is buying more fitted, more supportive bras. It really makes a world of difference in bounce, chaffing and control – even if you don’t have a large cup size. I seem to kind of be in between sizes so trying on before buying is nice.

This is Victoria’s Secret and you can buy by band and cup size.

Tanks

For whatever reason, I prefer tanks to t-shirts when working out. Lately I have preferred looser fitting tanks that are dry wicking. I do have a few cotton tanks and they are OK also. My favorite tanks lately have come from JC Penney’s. They have great sales and often offer a $10 off coupon regularly.

05fitness

JCP brand Xersion and nothing tight on the bottom for me in this case.

Socks

I prefer thin moisture wicking socks. My favorite right now are these Fila socks from Kohl’s that have a nice lip in the back. I like short socks, but tend to get blisters from time to time on my heels so these are perfect.

06fitness

Kohl’s socks, I have 6 pairs.

Long sleeve t’s

You know in North Dakota you need clothes that are layerable. A few layers as a base can make a huge difference. I have some moisture wicking long sleeve t’s from races I have participated in but am on the lookout for some wind resistant tops currently.

To be determined

I had a goal to run exclusively outdoors from May to October and I made it. I love running outside and just being outside in general. I will not run in the dark when it is icy and slippery, but I will run outside in the cold if the conditions are favorable and in daylight. I will be looking for some more winter weather gear so I can continue running, hiking and biking outside through the winter if I can. I’ve heard the saying exercise is cheaper than therapy. Exercise is most definitely a stress reliever and calming routine for me….but the costs can add up so be sure to look for sales and remember you don’t always have to buy the big name brand item. Any brands I should check out, let me know. I do have a Scheels gift card burning a hole in my pocket! I realize I will probably have to dole out a little more $$ for wind resistant, moisture wicking, thermal, fleece, etc. other keywords for winter running but it is a smart investment and I can obviously use them in other applications for several months in North Dakota.

I wish you and your family and friends the happiest of happy days for Thanksgiving weekend.

Posted in Exercise, Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Healthy Living, Misc | 2 Comments

Pumpkin Cheesecake Oatmeal Cookies Bars

If you are tasked with taking dessert to your Thanksgiving get together, I urge you to take this dish to share. Otherwise it will be at your house tempting you to eat it all!

pmknchkpm

This is perfect for fall with the pumpkin swirl and cinnamon pie spices. You have a nice oatmeal cookie layer, topped with cheesecake, pumpkin butter is swirled in and finally, some more oatmeal cookie crumbled on top. Yes. Please.

I found this recipe online and barely changed it. It’s a keeper! There are a few recipes when I see them they move to the top of the “must cook/bake” list and this was definitely one of them.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Oatmeal Cookie Bars, via Our Best Bites, very slight changes

Ingredients

2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cream or milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1 9-ounce jar pumpkin butter (1 heaping cup, store bought or homemade)
Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13×9 inch baking pan OR line with foil or parchment, letting excess extend over sides of pan; spray foil with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, stir together 2 cups flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, pie spice and baking soda. Add butter, and beat with a mixer until mixture is crumbly. Reserve 1 1/2 cups oat mixture in a small bowl; press remaining oat mixture into bottom of prepared pan.
3. Bake until set and just barely golden, about 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile in the same cleaned large bowl, beat cream cheese, granulated sugar, cream or milk, vanilla and remaining 1 tablespoon flour with a mixer at medium speed until creamy, 2-3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape sides of bowl. Add eggs, one and a time, beating well after each addition. Pour mixture onto prepared crust and spoon pumpkin butter by tablespoonfuls onto cream cheese mixture. Using a knife, swirl mixtures together. Sprinkle reserved oat mixture on top.
5. Bake until top is golden brown, 30-35 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on wire rack. Using excess foil as handles, remove from pan before cutting into small bars. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. You can also freeze these. Thaw in fridge before serving.
pmknchk05
I used my homemade pumpkin butter which I am obsessed with but you could certainly buy some. Look at those perfect layers! Be sure to cut these into small bars, they are quite rich. But since they are small, you should probably have two.
If you don’t make these for Thanksgiving, make them for Christmas or just to have at home. Enjoy!
Posted in Dessert | Leave a comment

Instant Pot Roast Beef and Root Vegetables

There isn’t something much easier to cook than a roast beef. It’s a total comfort meal and reminds me of my childhood. You will find it fairly difficult to screw up a fatty hunk of meat slow-roasted all day in the slow cooker. Today, I am sharing a roast beef prepared with root veggies in the Instant Pot. Of course, you can certainly make this in the slow cooker, dumping everything in at once and cooking all day if you don’t have an Instant Pot. Either way, with the busy holiday season approaching, this is an easy and hearty meal to serve to your family or guests.

iproast44

Cooked in the Instant Pot, this will only take about an hour of time to cook and your house will still smell wonderful. My method is below.

iproast01

Instant Pot Roast Beef and Vegetables, serves 6 generously

  • one beef roast, about 3-4 pounds, trimmed of most visible fat and cut into large hunks
  • 2-3 onions, roughly chopped into quarters
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • Generous seasoning on your roast – I like to add Montreal Steak seasoning, a lot of salt and pepper, garlic powder, onion powder
  • 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp. butter
  • 5-8 full carrots, peeled and cut into large quarters (see above photo)
  • 4-5 medium potatoes cut into large 1-2″ chunks

Instructions

  1. Heat IP on high saute setting. Melt half of the butter and oil in the pot. Throw in onions, garlic and carrots. Saute these until you get a nice char and color on the veggies, about 5-7 minutes. Remove everything to a large plate.
  2. Melt the other half of the butter and oil in the hot pot. Add chunks of meat and brown on all sides until all are sauteed.
  3. Turn off the saute function and add back in your onions and garlic.
  4. Cover pot and set on manual for 45 minutes. Let the IP do its magic.
  5. Once time is up, you can either release the pressure or let it come down on it’s own.
  6. Add in potatoes first around the meat and carrots on top of the potatoes.
  7. Put the cover back on and set on manual for 10 minutes.
  8. Release pressure when done, remove all food to a platter and serve.
  9. At this point, you could use the saute function to make a gravy in the IP if you wish.

Other root veggies would work wonderful here as well if you want to sub anything or add to your dish.

iproast03

I love my Instant Pot and with a little trial and error and Google searching, I have had a lot of success with this gadget. It certainly makes cooking easy! The onions and garlic will basically melt into the Instant Pot after being pressure cooking. I had trouble getting the pieces of roast out as it was totally fall apart tender. If you prefer hunks of onions, keep some back to cook with the root veggies.

iproast02

Enjoy this comfort meal.

Posted in Dessert, Dinner, Main Dish, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This is so corn-y

I write many posts on this blog – from food I cook, bake, eat, races, adventures, beer and more. This one has to do a little more with my personal health. Last summer, I battled issues with my foot, specifically plantar fasciitis. I believe I am (knocking on all wood around me) basically rid of that wretched issue (thanks to some PT, dry needling and so much STRETCHING), I have had some more foot issues this summer. And, you are welcome in advance that I am NOT sharing any photos of my own feet. Ugh.

A few months ago, I thought I felt a familiar tingle of athlete’s foot. The dreaded itch on my feet. I can vaguely remember this feeling from high school when we showered in various gyms after basketball games, flip flops or not, I seemed to get that itch almost every season.

'When we dated, most of his body was athletic. Now he's down to just athlete's foot.'

This dull ache, slight itch never went away so I ignored it. Of course, what else would I do? Pay it attention? No. Eventually it got worse and I kept looking between my 4th and 5th toes to see what could be going on. By the way, it is kind of hard to see between your toes, they are really close together. After a while, I could feel a bump forming. Google to the rescue! I found out I must have a soft corn.

foot-corn-funny-cartoon

Corns are areas of thick skin caused by pressure or friction. They can and usually do cause pain, especially when wearing shoes or walking. Corns have a core that is hard or soft. Soft ones are between your toes and hard corns form on the tops of your toes. Corns form from repeated pressure or friction on an area of skin. The pressure causes the skin to die and form a hard, protective surface. A soft corn occurs the same way, except that when sweat is trapped where it develops, the hard core softens. Corns are not caused by a virus and are not contagious. Repeated pressure from incorrectly fitting footwear may cause corns.

Corns are usually found where toes rub together. A soft corn is found between toes (usually between the fourth and fifth toes and are quite common in females and elderly), while a hard corn is often found over a bony part of a toe (usually on the fifth toe). Males, females, young and old all get corns and many people will get one in their lifetime.

You can tell you have a corn by the way it looks. I did the grave mistake of Googling corn on foot or something like that and looking at Google Images. I am here to tell you do not do that. You will get the worst case examples. But, if you are unsure, some of the images are similar to what I was experiencing.

The corn itself does not hurt, but it did hurt when wearing running shoes and running. Do not squeeze the corn or poke at it, which also hurts.

foot

Again, I took to Dr. Google to see how to treat a corn and got many answers. Most of them state you do not need to see a doctor unless you have severe pain or if you have circulatory problems, especially if you are diabetic. There were several homeopathic options some as simply as soaking your feet in warm water and using a pumice stone. I also saw vinegar to be an option. I tried the vinegar route for about 4 days before my Mother told me to get my butt to the drug store and buy some Dr. Scholl’s pads. I did finally listen to good ol’ Mom when I was tired of smelling like vinegar and my band aid between my toes kept falling off.

At Hazen Drug, I was able to find thin bandages with small medicated discs. They came in a package of 9 for about $5. They fit much more easily and comfortably between my toes. Each application can last for about 2 days and healing should occur in about two weeks. This proved true for me, it took about 9 days and I could tell the corn fell off. It’s so gross but there is no way around it. I continued with the medicated discs until the package was gone. I was sure to clean my feet extra well and use a pumice stone between those toes to slough off any dead skin of which there was kind of a lot.

Throughout my two weeks of medication I continued with all my activities – normal walking, running, cycling and other exercises with no problems. I am just more careful now to check between my toes and use the pumice stone from time to time. So, please learn from me:

  • Always pay attention to any pain on or in your feet
  • Maybe try the easy OTC medication instead of some homemade cure
  • Listen to your Mom, always
  • Don’t let Dr. Google freak you out

Here’s to hoping 2017 is pain free and foot healthy! (I got most of this info directly from WebMD.)

Posted in Exercise, Healthy Living, Misc | 1 Comment

Fargo Mini Marathon, Red River Double, 2016

On Saturday, Oct. 22, my Mom and I participated in the Fargo Mini Marathon doing the Red River Double. OK, that is a lot of words. Here is what the Red River Double is:

The Red River Double is a second 5K that you can participate in after the Mini Marathon, the 10K or the first 5K!  The Red River Double begins at 10:30am and will follow the same course as the first 5K.  When you finish the double – you’ll get some extra swag – with the official RED RIVER DOUBLE MEDAL! Please note – the Red River Double is not chip timed – but a TIME YOURSELF event.

headerfargomini2016

So, no matter which event you wanted to do first, you could do a final 5k after your race. I do believe it was my Mom’s idea to do the double and I agreed. Mom was going to walk the first 5k and I was going to run the 10k. We’d meet up and walk another 5k together.

But, first things first, we had to check in. We did this event last year so we knew it would be easy to check in and get our packet. There was hardly anyone there Friday night and we walked up to the booth immediately and received our race packets.

The 5k started at 8:10 and then 10k at 8:20. We knew from the year before we didn’t have to arrive too early – this is a laid back event. I think we left at about 7:30. Parking was a little tight – the ramp was full and there is a lot of construction downtown taking away street parking. We found a lovely spot at the police station nice and close though. My Dad made his way to the stands and my sister was our official photographer as usual – she does a wonderful job.

 

The routes were slightly different this year due to that construction. My mom and I both agree that the routes were better this year. I don’t know if it was because of the very nice, clear, calm (a bit chilly) day or the leaves were perfectly changing or what but we both had a great event/day. After we finished we got a few pics with our medals. My Mom did amazing with her 5k walk, she is speedy and beats a lot of runners even! I am especially proud of her as she had nasal surgery just two weeks prior and her recovery hasn’t been what she has hoped. Way to push through.

I was happy with my time. I generally go into each event with a time set in my mind depending on how I feel, my prior running and the weather. I was happy to beat the time I had expected in my head. Due to the later time of the year I am a little burnt out on running and haven’t really had much focus on set workouts, I just run and do what I feel like. I am pretty sure it must be one of my better times though so that was a great surprise. I tried my hardest to keep up with a few gals I guessed were around my age. They finished ahead of me, but were good “carrots” for this rabbit. I started out more conservatively than usual and that did pay off for me. My last mile was still weak though, I have a lot to improve upon and I think much of that is mental. Still – very happy with my efforts on this beautiful day. I finished healthy and happy and that is the main goal of every event.

A little side note on those “carrots” – after the race, I pointed out one of the ladies to my sister. My sis said she saw her before the race and she was wearing a Boston Marathon jacket. So I felt pretty good knowing I couldn’t keep up with her, I mean afterall, she was a Boston runner. Then my sis said, but the jacket was from 2006. Harrumph! I’m sure she is still just a SUPER speedy runner, right?!

results

As we were coming towards the finish line, I could see a woman behind me and I felt her coming up on me. Actually, I couldn’t see her, I could see her ponytail bouncing in her shadow that was in front of me. I DID NOT want her to pass me so I kicked it up. My lungs were burning. I did not let her pass me. Once I was back in the Civic Center, a guy came up and asked if he knew our time (I had a GPS watch on) and I told him what I figured we were at. I was so focused on that girl, I didn’t even notice him. Once they posted the results though, I saw we finished at the same time. Kind of funny what you see and don’t see towards the end of a run.

The finish line went through the library parking lot and around the Civic Center. This construction cheerleader was cheering us on – you can see he is even holding a pink pom pom (the 10k was sponsored by Sanford Breast Center) to get us to the finish. We finished just outside the Civic Center and walked into the venue happy to have completed the Red River Double. I had to change tops after my sweaty 10k into dry clothes and by the end of the 5k I ditched my sweatshirt as it was warming up outside. Even the race director remarked how lucky we were to have such a calm day!

Before the double event started the race director asked who had completed the 5k, 10k and half prior and there was a great mix from all three events. Very cool. We were off – some of us running and some of us walking. Mom and I walked and finished just over 45 minutes.

One of my favorite things about this event (besides that it is small) is that you get to run along the Red River through two states (ND and MN) and not a lot of people can say they have done that. The race was very well organized, we loved both our medals we received and the t-shirt. Excellent day indeed!

(I’d also like to mention a HUGE thank you to my place of employment. They offer race reimbursement for three races or up to $200 with certain stipulations. This is an amazing benefit and an excellent way to keep employees motivated.)

Posted in Exercise, Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Healthy Living, Misc | Leave a comment

White Butte, Hiking ND’s highest point

I don’t really know how or why I come up with some of my ideas. I get something in my head and just have to do it I guess? After driving by the sign that says White Butte, highest point in ND several times on my way to Deadwood/Rapid City, SD, I thought why wouldn’t I want to go up there? I’ve lived in this state for 37+ years and can’t say I have been to the highest point? I need to change this. So, we did.

headersarah

After finally finding a Saturday where it worked for us, we traveled the nearly 3 hours south and west to White Butte. My parents, brother and his girlfriend, sister and my aunt and her fiancee was our crazy group.

01entrystophere

This is where you must park and start the walk out to the buttes. The walk to start hiking up the butte is longer than actually ascending the butte itself.

02farmhouse

I loved this charming old farmhouse on the way to the butte. We lucked out with a seriously nice October day – warm sun and a nice breeze.

03upthepath

Naturally, I go to my first place to get my questions answered – Google.com. Here are some fun facts I found by digging around about White Butte, ND, just outside of Amidon in Slope County, southwest North Dakota.

  • White Butte is the highest natural point in N.D. at an elevation of 3,506’ above sea level
  • A butte is an isolated hill with steep sides and a small, flat top and means small hill
  • There are three hills in ND known as White Butte
  • The buttes near White Butte have a white chalky color from clay in the local rocks and soil
  • White Butte is part of the Chalky Hills
  • White Butte is the only one of the 50 state highpoints classified as a butte
  • White Butte is in Slope County, an area larger than Rhode Island, but is the least populous county in ND
  • White Butte itself is not white, but grassland in color
  • White Butte is the 30th highest state summit of the U.S. Highpoints (this was the most shocking fact to me since we consider our state to be fairly flat; I think Florida is the lowest highpoint)
  • Many people from all states and other countries climb White Butte as part of completing all 50 state highpoints

06mushroomrock

  • White Butte is located on private land. It is courteous to leave money for the landowners granting access to the highpoint. You do not have to contact the owners (Mr. and Mrs. Dennis) for specific permission but if you have questions, call during reasonable hours
  • Black Butte is nearby (5 miles away) and is the 2nd highest point at 3,465’ high. It is said that Black Butte is 41’ lower but offers better scenic views.
  • You can easily find a sign pointing to White Butte from US Hwy 85 (between Belfield and just a few miles north of Amidon) from there, use your vehicle to mark 5 miles until you reach a gravel road where you turn right (south) for 1.2 miles where you must park and start walking
  • There are not public facilities nearby, bring your own water, snacks and try to use the restroom in Belfield before continuing on – Amidon does have a bar but it doesn’t open until 2 p.m. MT

07whichway

  • Be prepared for weather – the buttes become very slippery in rain or snow. If it is windy, it’ll be windier at the top; if it is calm, it will still likely be windy at the top
  • There are worn paths leading you up to the summit and around other buttes
  • The hike is fairly easy and took us about 90 minutes including time to stop for photos and exploring; you could likely do this in half the time if you hustle
  • There is a memorial marker at the top of the summit for the former property owner, Lawrence Buzalsky. I don’t know if he is buried there, had his ashes laid there or it is just a marker
  • There is a summit log book in a box, be sure to sign it and check out those who came before you
  • There is a huge nail marking the highest point in ND so you know you made it and are on the correct butte
  • White Butte rises about 500’ from the surrounding land
  • It is rumored there are rattlesnakes in the area. We visited in fall and didn’t see any – just be careful and if you see one, walk the other way and do not bother them

Even though the hike is fairly quick, it was fun to check this off of our bucket list as a family. I didn’t get a photo, but there was another longer, skinnier box at the top of the summit. If you opened it there were different momentos people had left behind – a decorative turtle, some cards, Chapstick and more. I wish I knew the story behind all of the items.

These are a couple shots looking out from the high point. Stunning, really. I would love to be here at sunrise, sunset or after spring when it is more green. I felt like a bird!

17sisters

My aunt (on the left) and Mom are big into NDSU football so they had to bring their flag to the summit and get a photo together. Go Bison!

22thegirls

Here I am with my aunt and Mom. You can see it is quite windy and sunny. We wore bright colors since this was pheasant season opener weekend. We saw many hunters out and about – you can’t be too careful. As always, pick up after yourself and leave the butte in as good of condition as or better than when you arrived.

siblingsoct2016

Afterwards, we went into Dickinson to Players Bar & Grill for a family meal. Here I am – middle sister (literally and figuratively) between my big brother and little sister. Love these two.

I can’t wait to go on another adventure. What’s next? Hmmm?

Posted in Exercise, Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Healthy Living, Misc | 1 Comment