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Archive for June, 2018

I am always on a lookout for pesto. I love how you can use any type of a nut or seed along with any type of greens to whirl together amazing sauces. Check out a previous post about the different pesto that I have made… Pesto Galore.

While browsing the smitten kitchen site, I came across the pasta with roasted carrots and sunflower seed dressing. It sounded delicious and easy. I asked Julia if she wanted to help me make it and she enthusiastically said yes.

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The dish is easy to make… you add the roasted seeds, a handful of greens, some lemon zest, some garlic, salt, pepper, and some Parmesan cheese in a food processor and whirl it until it comes together. You then place the concoction into a bowl and then you add some olive oil and lemon juice and mix until it becomes a pesto/dressing.

For the carrots, you just trim, peel, and coat them with some olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast them until they are soft and somewhat charred. Once roasted, you cut the carrots any way that you wish (she mentions the size of the pasta that you are using).

Finally, you mix everything together into the boiled pasta.

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I have no idea why, but I did not pay close attention to the title and the actual ingredient list (hmm… distracted much!), but I thought that it required roasted pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds… same thing! I have made the dish 3 times already and not once did I use sunflower seeds. Ha! Nevertheless, I love the dish even with the pumpkin seeds. I will have to use sunflower seeds next time to see how it compares. But this is the beauty of a pesto… any seed/nut works!

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The dressing/pesto was a bit dry so I did add some pasta water to thin it, which made it easier to mix in with the pasta. I tend not use a lot of oil, so I always reserve some pasta water whenever I make pesto.

For the greens, I have used kale, lettuce (Boston, mixed greens, romaine), spinach… whatever I had on hand. All of them worked! Of course each probably added their own flavor, but not enough to not work in the dish.

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The end result after adding the olive oil and lemon juice.

The recipe requires some garlic, but I am not a big fan of raw garlic. On a recent trip to the market, I found some garlic scapes. I love garlic scapes, especially roasted or grilled. Adding the roasted scapes to the pesto was great!

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I have no idea (again!) why I have never roasted whole carrots. Aside from setting off my fire alarm each time I roasted them (my oven must be telling me that it needs a bath), they are so easy to make and no chopping required. They taste like candy! I am never chopping them ever again! I have not tried grilling whole carrots before… I am going to try that next time, in an effort to not set off my fire alarm.

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For the pasta, I have used ravioli (Julia’s favorite!), penne, and farfalle and all worked great! Deb mentions a few other possibilities in the recipe list, but I feel like any pasta that allows the pesto to coat works.

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If you are looking for a quick, easy, and delicious pasta, give this one a try! It even tastes good cold.

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Last year I came across this really cool photo (7th in the gallery) of a person running on a trail in the middle of these super tall trees. The photo won a contest, which did not surprise me. “Whoa… that is so pretty!! I want to run there!”, I said to myself. I knew that the trail was local, but I had no idea where it was. I asked one of my running friends, but he was not helpful.

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This past winter, I decided to check out the cross country skiing trails at Cumming Nature Center. I have not been there in a super long time… in fact, the only thing that I remember about it was the one time when Joel and I were riding in the area and somehow we got lost and ended up at the Center. We went inside to ask for directions (it was pre-smart phones) and the woman at the desk looked worried, a bit more than we were, since we were way off course. We did find our way back to the car… with a few more miles than we intended.

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As I was making my way to the main trail, I was in awe… it was the trail with the super tall trees! The skiing was fantastic! I loved the woodsy trails and views. I ended up going back two more times.

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While chatting with the director, he mentioned that they were planning a trail race and festival in June. I was super excited since I loved cross country skiing there. I signed up when the registration opened.

I kept watching the forecast all week prior to the race day. It was a super hot week… in the upper 80s at times. A chance of thunderstorms kept popping up and going away for race day. The chance of rain went away, which was great. But the temperature dropped into the upper 50s, which was a bummer since it was so much warmer the days leading up to the race. My legs do better in warmer temperatures.

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My friend Sara ran the race too… it was her first trail race!

During the pre-race meeting, we were told that it down poured pretty much all night and that the trails were muddy. I was not too happy about that… I do not like running in deep mud. A few people were super excited… I do not understand the attraction. Why do folks like running in deep mud so much?!? It ruins the trail, you can fall in it, you are covered in mud, and your shoes and socks are super drenched in mud. I do not get it!!

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I have learned to start a race in the front in order not to get stuck in a bottleneck. As soon as we were told to go, I went. The run was ok. The trails were not my favorite, I must admit… 90% of the race was in a deep mud that was covered with tall grass, which made it difficult to see where your foot was landing. We also ran up this hill that seemed never ending and we also bushwhacked through the woods, which was a nice change. Unfortunately, the constant foot changes ended up bothering my knee.

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I was pretty much on my own for the majority of the race. Around mile 4, a woman passed me. She looked comfortable and strong. I was a little bummed since she was the first female to pass.

Since my knee was bothering me, I slowed down and even stopped at times. I tried to stretch and massage the muscles around the knee. Then another woman passed me. I was even more bummed! I was so upset at my knee. I tried to stay with her but she was going too fast and my knee was screaming at me. “Grr… it is what it is.” I thought. I just kept running and walking at times. Finally, the terrain did change a bit so my knee was not bothering me as much. Then another woman came behind me. I knew her from my yoga class, so we started chatting about the race and we shared the same feeling… the terrain was not a favorite.

I really did not want her to pass me too. I knew that I was going to be in 4th place if she did. So I took off. I had no clue where I was pretty much the entire race, but I ran over a bridge and it finally looked familiar. I realized that I was not too far from the finish. Then I found myself among the super tall trees. I also saw Joel and Julia towards the end of the stretch cheering for me. I was so happy to see them! As I ran past them, Julia shouted “Mommy you are the third female to finish!”. “Hooray!”, I responded.

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Photo courtesy of Ironwood Adventure Works.

I did it! I finished 3rd overall in the female group, which included 33 women. I also placed 12th overall out of 51 runners. I ended up with 6.1 miles with a 11:37 average pace. I have been running that pace for 4 miles, trying not to overwork my knee too much, so I was happy to see that I was able to sustain that, despite the rough terrain and longer miles. I was super proud of myself!

The race also included a small festival among the tall trees, which was great! It included 4 breweries, a kombucha place, a juice place, and a food place. Julia played with lots of kids and then hung out at a table where she learned how to make hops DNA. She had a super fun time!

Joel and I and a couple of friends had some super good food and a bunch of beer. A fantastic way to finish a race!

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