Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Illy Issimo Coffee and the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon

Recently,we received three different types of Illy Issimo coffee to sample. Both Tavo and I tried all three--we also gave samples to his 17 year old nephew, my Italian coworker and a few of our early 30's aged friends.

Overall verdict? Everyone loved them.

Tavo and I rarely purchase prepared coffee because of the price and, for me, because they often have so many calories. The Illy Caffe' (Italian espresso style coffee drink) only has 50 calories, and this was what I liked best, as did Maria, my Italian coworker. She actually went to the nearby health food store and told them they needed to start stocking this! We both like that the ingredients are just coffee and sugar, and that its a nice small size, yet the perfect amount of coffee.

Aaron, Gustavo's nephew, preferred the Latte. He is a big fan of energy drinks and usually gets the Monster Coffee Flavored kind. He said the Illy had a better coffee flavor, though price and size were his biggest sways. Thank you very much Illy!

The other cool thing that happened recently was the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon! My friend, Dona, and I decided to do this way back in July, to keep us running and training through the summer months. The weather was perfect, the water warm, and the race was FLAT! I actually got my best time ever--2:10:43. Very good for me :) Here are some photos, courtesy of

(and a little photo to showcase my lack of MS Paint steez)
Clock time was 2:11:12, my chip time was 2:10:43. Hooray!

We make 13.1 miles look like a cakewalk, huh?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Road Trip: Last Day + Chickpeas and tomatoes with flatbread

We rolled into Houston, Texas right at dinner time on the last full day of our roadtrip to visit Gustavo's sister, Yolanda, her husband, Alejandro, their four girls and the (crazy) sweet puppy! We did take one more day after that to drive to Atlanta, but as we just deadheaded it, I'm not counting it as a vacation day ;)

We got there on Friday night, and it was that perfect collision of teenagers, preteens, little girls performing skits and can we turn down that volume? Here is Alejandro, turning down the volume--or perhaps turning it up--might have been a good song :) any myself, playing with a camera.

Yollie, Alejandro and I talking...

Imaginary Guacamole with the mortar and pestle!

hmmm, we may have consumed a few modelos...

Here we are, trying to take a group photo:

All right, enough with that! A great time with the family--our biggest regret is that we didn't stake out a few days in Houston. Alejandro has an amazing ceviche recipe that I covet. We will be back ;)

In the meantime, here's a quick pantry staple recipe that I have grown fond of while procrastinating on the grocery trip ;) First, pull out your leftover pizza dough, ball it up, and let it rise for 30 minutes. (what? some people don't make a big batch of pizza dough every weekend? blasphemy!)

Meanwhile, cook down an onion until caramelized. Add 2 small cloves garlic, jalapeƱos, 3T. sofrito (I have some store bought for use in a pinch, but homemade freezes well...) can of whole tomaotes broken up, and one can of garbanzos, rinsed. Cook on medium low until bread is finished. A good herb to add would be parsley--I added lemon basil and I'm still on the fence with that decision.

Press your pizza dough into rough 6" rounds, on greased pan. Preheat oven to top temp or preheat cast iron skillet. I did the oven because I wanted to sit on the porch and enjoy the mild autumn temps.

Baked at 500 for 6 minutes, then browned under broiler:

Serve--Ideally I think you would use fresh parsley and squeeze a bit of lemon on it. If none of that is available, its still pretty decent.

I went to Michigan last weekend and totally left my camera charging in the kitchen. BAD! At any rate, I'm headed there again in December and won't make the same mistake.

Next weekend? Myrtle Beach Half Marathon--broken toe or not, I'm running this as fast as I can :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010 Mushroom Challenge! Lobster Mushroom and Brie Pizza

Okay--so this was way, way more difficult than I thought it would be. You know how many recipes I tried? Too many! I'm only going to show you my faves ;)

Here is the situation: Justin, from, wrote us to join a dried mushroom recipe challenge, and sent us a pile of mushrooms. Now, I love, love, love mushrooms. So I had to try all these different mushrooms in different recipes. Look at what he sent us. (how cool!!)

So, I tried quite a few, but both Tavo and I liked the pizza best. Here's the dough, recipe follows:

We soaked the lobster mushrooms (a few trumpets to throw in omelets in the morning and save all the water for broth) in warm water for an hour or so (would have been fine for 20 minutes, but we had friends come by for a maybe 2 hours?)
Brie and pepperoncini for a bit of salt

All together now--we just used plain crushed tomatoes for sauce

A taste of honey is *better* than none at all... (Sorry Smokey Robinson!)

Recipe: Brie, Lobster Mushroom and Pepperoncini Pizza


1 1/4 c. water
1 T. olive oil
1 t. kosher salt
1 T. sugar
2 c. white flour (I use White Lily)
1 c. wheat flour (I use King Arthur)
2 t. rapid rise yeast (I use Fleischmann's)

Put in bread machine to dough cycle or mix traditionally.

When done, pull your section out and let rise. Throw the rest in a tupperware in the fridge with a bit of olive oil. When you want to use the next batch for pizza, just pull out that section of the dough and let it rest at room temp for 20 minutes or so, then toss or stretch it.

Preheat oven to 500. Chop your hydrated mushrooms and brie. Open a can of crushed tomatoes. If you have some fresh or dried basil, this is good too. Spread dough with toppings, keeping it fairly light. Bake in oven for 10 minutes and serve!

Kansas City introduced me to honey on pizza. There are honey bears on all the tables of a now defunct pizza place in Westport. Joe's pizza, (the back part of Kelly's Westport Inn) still has the honey. Oh man, its so good. Especially when you are using savory toppings and a very minimal sauce like we are. Regular "pizza sauce" you buy in the store has corn syrup, preservatives, tons of sodium and unnecessary ingredients. Just used canned crushed tomatoes--anything that has one ingredient is usually better. I like Kroger, because their store brand has a no salt version, but any will do.

Tell me about a taste of honey...

Recipes that didn't make the cut? Roasted Vegetable and Porcini/Chanterelle Mushroom Soup with Barley
I think I blended it too much.

Not bad, not my fave. I need to rework recipe before posting...this was just a bit bland.

This, actually, I loved. It was just too boring ;) Black Beans and Porcini with Brown Rice.
Cook down an onion until translucent; add cumin, ginger, paprika and cayenne. Add a drained and rinsed can of beans, half can of water, and dried porcinis. Cook down for 45 minutes on low, adding liquid as needed. I like mine a bit dry, but that is personal preference.

Meanwhile, throw 1 cup of brown rice, 1-2 boullion cubes, dollop of oil and 2 cups water into rice maker or saucepan. Cook down for 45 minutes.

Mix. Eat. Add hot sauce ;)

I used the leftover beans for nachos. That was also tasty, but not noteworthy.

This next dish was the actual worst I made--but with a better basic recipe, I really think it could be the best. I made a corn chowder and put chantarelle mushrooms in, black trumpet garnish.

My soup was again too....mushy. And thick--but that's an easy fix. Overall, I needed more texture. So, it gets last place.

Overall, though, I really wish to thank for the opportunity to try their mushrooms and have a lot of fun :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Second to last day...and the art!! Wow.

As we headed back East from the Grand Canyon, our minds were completely blown by all these wheat pastes. All right--all of you from our gorgeous SouthWest...who is this guy? He / She is phenomenal. I don't even want to taint it with words.

We found most of this art within a hundred miles or so from here: head reaches the bottom of the window. These are truly awesome.

(my favorite)

Some food, too. Tacos Los Altos in Flagstaff, AZ. Holy cow. For a tiny little taco shop off the interstate, this was fantastic! No web address, but please visit it if you're headed down US 66.

Fish tacos...
Barbacoa--Tavo said it was off the chain.

Hey, you can sleep in a wigwam.

We hit a storm while heading east...

We spent the night in El Paso. Ready to drive across Texas to meet Tavo's sister in Houston.
(unrelated--wow!! They are pulling up the first Chilean miner!)