This week we stacked Costco's orange chicken against Trader Joe's orange chicken and came away with a clear winner, my husband learned a life changing rice cooking technique, I made some awesome enchilada sauce, and I ran a 10k.
Monday and Friday: protein breakfast smoothie
Tuesday and Thursday: breakfast burrito
Wednesday: breakfast at work. Eggs, bacon, potatoes and a smidge of french toast casserole.
Saturday: pre race breakfast of Trader Joe's cereal bar x2 and string cheese
Sunday: If you know anything about my husband, you know that he claims that he doesn't cook in spite of mountains of evidence to the contrary. Exhibit #9,999,999: he makes a batch of waffles every weekend. Most of the time I want something savory for breakfast, but as soon as I heard the sizzle of batter on the waffle iron, I started drooling and offered to cook up some bacon in exchange for waffles.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: Gimme Some Oven's Korean Steak Kabobs over noodles. To reheat a meal like this, I warm up the noodles and veggies for a minute to get them hot, and then add the steak and just heat it for 30 seconds so that it's warm but not overnuked.
Friday: I brought a lunch but set it aside for work catering. Fancy mac and cheese, BBQ jakefruit, coleslaw, and a pumpkin cheesecake bar. I regret nothing.
Saturday: Post race California Pizza Kitchen Margarita Flatbread.
Monday (family meal): Costco's orange chicken. There are two things we need to talk about here:
- Costco orange chicken vs Trader Joe's orange chicken. Both are good, but Costco wins.
- Trader Joe = one package is too small/two packages are too much for a family of four
- Costco = each box has two packages, and one package is 6.5 servings. Translation: each package is dinner for four with two servings for leftovers
- Price: both are cheap, but Costco is a bit cheaper. Savings increase due to appropriate package size.
- Quality: Costco is the clear winner. The chicken bites are meatier and tender. Leftovers are much better with Costco vs Trader Joe's.
- Taste: hubs and stepson #2 both felt that the Costco sauce is less spicy than Trader Joe's. Stepson #1 and I are equally happy with both.
- The rice. My husband is deeply traumatized by cooking rice. In the dark days after his divorce he was doing most of the child care and struggled with any meal that took more than 2 minutes to get on the table. Rice made his list as something that took to long to cook, so he started buying instant rice. But he was foiled again when he got an off-brand of instant rice pilaf that the boys hated so much that to this day anytime we have rice they give us the third degree about where it came from. I swear, they truly believe we have a pantry full of the stuff that we are going to spring on them some day when they let their guard down. Anyway, this Monday he got home before me so he started dinner. He made the rice first and it sat on the stove for quite a while before he put the chicken in. When I cleaned up the kitchen, I was shocked that the rice hadn't stuck to the pan at all. I demanded to know his secret. It turns out that he had looked up how to cook rice and the site that he looked at had specifically said not to stir the rice during cooking. Hmm, I thought, this is just a fluke, there's no way that stirring has any effect on the finished product. Read on to tonight's dinner to see what happened when I tried his technique....
Wednesday (date night): leftover beef stew casserole
Thursday (fend for yourself night): I had a really light dinner of the last of the orange chicken.
Friday (camp night/sick night): It's boy scout camp weekend, but stepson #2 came down with a cold this week and by Friday it was clear that he had passed it on to my husband. Hubs and stepson #1 had lasagna and then my husband drove stepson #1 to camp and hung out for a while. When I got home, I let stepson #2 choose our dinner.
Saturday (mix and match dinners): while I went out and ran a 10k, hubs and stepson #2 followed doctor's orders and burrowed in on the couch all day. We all wanted different things for dinner. I really wanted spinach artichoke pasta, hubs really wanted chicken parm, and stepson #2 really wanted chicken nuggets. And I decided why compromise? I made a full batch of the spinach artichoke pasta for myself, quickie chicken parm for hubs (frozen breaded chicken breast), and nuggets for the kiddo.
Sunday: I know what you're thinking. Boy scout camp weekend = tacos because it's stepson #1's favorite meal and we want to celebrate him coming back alive (or have good food on hand to console ourselves with if he didn't come back). But stepson #1 was in charge of cooking at camp so they already had tacos.
fajitas it was! With cilantro lime rice on the side. Even thought it went against every principle that I had, I didn't stir the rice at all until the end when it was time to fold in the cilantro and lime juice. And guys, it works!!! Fluffy rice + minimal pan cleanup.
(Real life disclosure: the last time we had fajitas, the kids loved them. Tonight fajtas are on the meh list.)
We've got fajitas for dinners, and I brought back an old favorite for my lunchbox: sweet potato, corn, and black bean enchiladas. My changes to the recipe: I always double it, add cilantro and lime juice, and I put the red pepper into the filling instead of using it as a garnish, and green sauce instead of red.
I've said before that I don't really see the point of home made enchilada sauce vs canned - the taste is the same and canned sauce isn't wildly expensive, but I may have to walk that back. I made Gimme some oven's green sauce and oooh it is good. I used two jalapenos with seeds to get the heat up and sure enough it's spicy, but there's a really good flavor behind it. I actually think it might be a little too spicy, so if I had it to do all over again, I would just use one jalapeno with seeds. But check back in with me next week after I've had it for a full meal instead of just a taste.
Monday: weights and 3 mile treadmill run.
Tuesday: 5 mile treadmill run.
Thursday: 4 mile treadmill run (tapering down for Saturday's race)
Friday: off to rest up for the race.
Saturday: 10k and I have conflicted feelings about it.
My official time was 1:08:14 and technically it's a PR. My last 10k was 1:08:44.
My goal was to run a 10:30 pace, which I think I could have done except that two things worked against me. First is my strategy of pacing myself with other runners - I pick people who I think are fast but not too fast and run at their pace. No sooner did I pick a partner than that person would start walking. So next race it's time to start pacing myself. The second thing is that this race was a 5k/10k run walk...the last two miles of the course were logjammed with 5k walkers. So whomp whomp there.
Because of the walkers, I probably won't run this particular race again, but it was a gorgeous fall day and it was in a cool part of town (partly on our marathon course and partly on a really cool urban park/riverfront that I had no idea existed), and the swag was on point. A long sleeved hoodie that's light but seriously windproof, the race medal is magnetic (I wouldn't have thought to check but that's what I have stepkids for), and a small pumpkin. The hoodie is mine, the medal and pumpkin went to the kids.
What's next for running
I think I'm done racing for the year. I'm going to continue to increase my distance. And guys, you heard it here first: I am going to run a half marathon next May.
All along I've said that I wasn't going to try to run a half until I could get my speed up to under a 2 hour finish. Based on my current race times, it will take me 2.5 hours to run a half. But...something is calling me. I had a really vivid dream this week that I ran a half in 2:15 and was telling everyone that huh that was amazing because all of the race calculators said 2:30. Before this year I was never able to run more than six miles at a time, and now a 10 mile run is feeling pretty good. Dear half, it's on.
(Top secret long term running plans: next September I will finish my first marathon, the one I've been running in a relay for the past four years. The September after that, which is September 2020...assuming that my body likes running as much as it does now and that I'll be able to run longer distances...I'm going to run the full marathon. But shhh...it's a secret).
(from the treadmill): How to Get Away with Murder, Call the Midwife
(from the couch on my own): caught up on Manifest and I'm very nearly done with my Fred and Ginger rewatch.
(from the couch with hubs and stepson #2): MST3K and Mad Movies. Neither my husband or stepson #2 wanted to be sick, but I think they both enjoyed their day on the couch together.
Her Every Fear