Friday, August 30, 2013

Foodie Friday – Beef Pasta Bake

I am having a great time in California so far (and I’ve been here less than 12 hours by the time this posts!) Today’s Foodie Friday is a guest post by one of my local BRF’s (Best Running Friends), Jill!!
I love to cook and bake, but I don't always have plenty of time. I'm a mom to a very active 4yo daughter, and it wasn't long after she turned 1yo that I realized everything had to be stream lined. I like to be efficient and have the least bit of dishes to wash after I'm finished. When I was introduced to the "Don't Panic Dinner's in the Freezer" books I was thrilled.

If you're not familiar with these cook books, they offer delicious recipes you can make in bulk quantities to freeze and have on hand later. All the complication is removed! You don't have to do any math for doubling/tripling measurements. There are explanations on how to freeze your meals and how long to keep meals frozen. These recipes are great if both husband and wife work full-time leaving minimal time for dinner preparation and great for families, so cooking can be done in advance leaving more quality family time. I have made a few of my favorite recipes enough to tweak them from the original.

This Beef Pasta Bake has become one of my favorites to make. It is an easy recipe to multiply so I can make a lot at once and it stacks nicely in my freezer. It is my "go to" meal when I want to deliver a meal to a family transitioning to a new baby or such. Honestly, this would be something great to make ahead in bulk and be a staple to throw into your menu planning every other week. When I deliver it to a new or new again mom, I tell them it's similar to a Stouffer's Lasagna except that it's homemade and you can personalize it a bit to your preference (examples: possibly organic vegetables or whole grain pasta). Since all the ingredients are listed in different quantities, you can also take advantage of bulk shopping at Costco or Sam's Club.


I always start out chopping the vegetables. Onion first, so it can start to sauté in a bit of olive oil with the garlic. Depending on your preference, I think you can go heavy or light on the onion or garlic (we usually are heavier on the garlic).
I add the ground beef to the onion/garlic pan and cook until the beef is no longer pink. I usually by the leaner ground beef so I have less fat to drain off. As the ground beef cooks, I have some time to chop up the green pepper and start the pasta.
Once your ground meat is fully cooked, you'll want to drain off all the excess fat. Return the ground meat mixture to your original pan then add the spaghetti sauce and garlic salt - let it all simmer for at least 10 minutes. If time is a bit tight, I have paused here and put the entire cooled mixture into the refrigerator overnight. (If you do decide to split up your cooking days, chop your bell pepper and cook the pasta on the following day.)
I pay close attention to the bowtie pasta as it cooks, as I like to keep them al dente (slightly under cooked because they will cook more when they bake). As soon as they are ready I'll strain the pasta and stir in some olive oil so it doesn't end up a sticky mess. (I round up when it comes to the pasta, I do not measure it but will round up based on how the pasta is sold. The recipe calls for 2 cups uncooked bowtie pasta which is 16oz if you're preparing the basic recipe.)

In a separate bowl, combine the cream cheese and milk and microwave for 1-2min. Personally, I love to use Pampered Chef's small micro cooker for this.  While the recipe only calls for 6oz of cream cheese, it is sold in 8oz blocks, so I use the entire 8oz when I prepare this recipe. Since I usual make the X3 recipe, I will microwave in three rounds so the cream cheese and milk can heat evenly then I'll pour into a larger bowl to then combine with sour cream and Parmesan cheese. Once all your cheesy mixture is well combined, add the green pepper in.
There are options when it comes to the green pepper. First, you can mix in the chopped green pepper as the recipe suggests. Second, you can leave out the green pepper. Or third, you can sauté the chopped green pepper in some olive oil before combining it with the cheesy mixture. This is completely up to you and your family!

I use disposable aluminum 8x8 pans since this is my go-to delivery meal for other families. I don’t have to worry about getting my Pyrex dishes back and the family doesn't have to worry about clean-up. Whether disposable or not, spoon the cheesy mixture into the bottom of your casserole dish. I use a smaller ladle for this so I can make sure to get an equal amount of cheesiness to each pan. Once all the cheesy mixture is evenly distributed, I'll do the same with the bowtie pasta making sure to evenly cover. I'll then use a larger ladle to cover the pasta with the meat sauce. Top off with a generous sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese (this is also not something I measure).
FF8 FF9 FF10 FF11
As you can see, if you make the X3 recipe amounts you'll end up with SIX 8x8 pans. This Beef Pasta Bake is delicious and while this recipe is a bit labor intensive with a good bit of clean up, it is completely worth it for the amount of food I can prepare at one time. I cover each aluminum pan with foil, then slide into a gallon Ziploc bag (label the bag using a Sharpie while it's still empty with the name of the meal and the date so you don't forget what's in your freezer or how long it's been in there).
When you're ready to cook your Beef Pasta Bake, you have two options. You can let the frozen Beef Pasta Bake thaw overnight in the refrigerator before cooking at 350 for 25-30 minutes, covered. Uncover and bake for 5-10 more minutes, until bubbly. If you're busy and frazzled like me, you can also toss it straight into the oven completely frozen! I drop the oven temperature to 300 and bake the frozen Beef Pasta Bake covered for 60-90 minutes - think "low and slow". 

I hope you'll consider adding this recipe to your menu planning, it might just become your favorite "go to" meal on busy days as the temperatures start to drop over the next month or so. Let me know what you think!
Thanks so much for guest posting on my blog, Jill!!  I will definitely be giving this a try!
Jill is training for runDisney’s inaugural Dopey Challenge.  If you haven’t heard about it, it’s 48.6 miles over 4 days!  She’s also raising money for St. Jude’s.  Check out her blog and other social media outlets!

Blog: MRScrashmattb thinks aloud
Twitter: @MRScrashmattb
Instagram: mrscrashmattb
Pinterest: MRScrashmattb

Tomorrow morning is the first half to completing the Dumbo Double Dare….the Disneyland 10k!  Make sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as I will be updating along the course!

Until next time,
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Thursday, August 29, 2013

It's Finally Time!!

The day has finally come...tonight I leave for California for the Disneyland half marathon weekend to complete the inaugural Dumbo Double Dare Challenge!!

Needless to say, it's hard to focus at work today.  I'm so ready to head to the airport with my BRF Brandi and her mom.  My bags are packed and I'm ready to go!

Make sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all weekend as I will be posting pictures and updates throughout our trip.

Foodie Friday is still on for tomorrow so make sure you check back for a yummy guest post from another BRF, Jill!

Until next time,


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

SLS3 Compression Socks Review

Disclaimer: I was contacted by SLS and asked to review the product and write a review.  I was not compensated and all opinions are my own.
You guys know that I love my compression socks – both during my runs as well as afterward for recovery.  So when I was contacted by SLS3 Compression Socks to review their compression socks, I happily accepted.
A little about the company and how they got started from their website -
With years of swimming and triathlon under our belts along with academic backgrounds in business, sports physiology, nutrition, and a passion to pass on what we learned and know how to do best we founded our business for triathlon race apparel and compression gear.  In the beginning we only made a suit, short, top and one kind of compression socks. The reasons were: that's what you need to do a triathlon, and we didn't have more money. Those 4 items though were made with great care, attention to detail, German precision and a hefty dose of passion for the sport.
Now, they’ve expanded to include more accessories that can be used by triathletes, including swim caps, visors, and arm and leg sleeves.
They have some super cute items specifically for females.  I was sent a pair of their “hibiscus” butterfly compression socks (they also come in azure blue and violet).
SLS3    SLS2
I couldn’t wait to try them out, so I wore them on my long run that weekend.  They felt nice and tight on my calves and I had minimal pain during my run!  They were also snug on my feet but not overly tight, and they kept my feet dry throughout my run.  I think I ordered a size too big because they were a little long, coming up into the crease of my knees.  Because of this, I don’t know that I would run in them again, but definitely wear them for recovery.  These will also be great to wear on long plane rides to keep the swelling down.
SLS socks
If your new to compression, it has wonderful benefits to athletes.  They can help decrease soreness after a workout and increase blood circulation.  Diabetics often wear compression socks (although maybe not nearly as cute!) to help prevent blood clots and blood from pooling in their ankles.  This is another reason they are great for long plane rides.
Sebastian and Sylvie take pride in their products and listen to their customers to ensure you get the best of the best.  The majority of their products are made in the USA, and they strive to keep their carbon footprints as small as possible.
You can check out their products for yourself at SLS3.
Do you like to wear compression socks/sleeves during and/or after workouts?  Do they help you?
Until next time,
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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dumbo Double Dare Costume Reveal!

I’m finally done with my costumes and ready to show them to you guys!

If you didn’t already know, I absolutely LOVE college football, and the season happens to start on the day of the Disneyland 10k.  Since I’ll be on the west coast in USC country, I’ve gotta represent my team back on the east coast, the Georgia Bulldogs! (Photo bomb by Guinness)
DL 10k outfit2
This is more of a themed outfit than a costume, and I have a few extras I’ll have on, but nonetheless, I’ll be saying “Goooooo Dawgs!”  I also plan to try and catch some of the game against Clemson at the ESPN Zone at Downtown Disney Saturday night.  An advantage of being on the west coast is that even though the game starts at 8 p.m  EST, that’s 5 p.m. PST, so I can still get in bed early for my 3:00 a.m. wake up call!

I went to Hawai’i back in February and had a fantastic time (sometimes I wish we lived on the west coast so it was a little cheaper to travel there!).  This is where I got my inspiration for my half marathon costume-
DL half costume    stitch
I will be Lilo from “Lilo and Stitch”!  This is the outfit that she wore toward the end of the movie when she and Stitch were hula dancing (yeah…so not wearing just a red bra).

If you’re there and you see me before, during, or after the race, please stop and say hi!!
I look forward to seeing some of you there!

Do you like dressing up for races?  If you’re going to Disneyland and running, what’s your costume?

Until next time,

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Weekly Workouts – August 19-25


I am so excited about leavin’ on a jet plane and heading to California to party with friends, both old and new, during the Disneyland half marathon weekend!!


I’ve been tapering, so this week’s workouts were pretty light…maybe even too light…. :

Monday – rest
Tuesday – stretch and foam roll
Wednesday – took Guinness for a 1 mile walk
Thursday – rest
Friday – walked 1.36 with the family
Saturday – rest (watched the hubby play in a paintball tournament
Sunday – stretched and foam rolled

I’ll probably get in more stretching, foam rolling, and possibly a short run or walk in this week along with packing and triple checking that I have everything I need.  I leave Thursday after work to head to the airport!

Today I’m featured over on Just Me and My Running Shoes, so be sure to go over and check out this awesome blog that my fellow Dumbo runner, Karen, writes (make sure to follow her, too!)

How did your weekly workouts go?  What do you do to taper for a race?

Until next time,

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Foodie Friday – Poppy seed Chicken

I apologize for not having a Foodie Friday post last week…the hubby was out of town and I don’t cook a lot of “meals” for just me.  I ended up making this for dinner Friday night but we were in bed early so I didn’t get it posted.

This is another recipe from my mom’s cookbook she gave me.  I was feeling like some comfort food and this is super easy to make with very few ingredients, so I chose to make it for dinner.


  • 3 cups chopped, cooked chicken
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup (I used 98% fat free)
  • 8 oz sour cream (I used light, could also use Greek yogurt)
  • 1/4 stick margarine, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed Ritz crackers
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds


You could either buy a rotisserie chicken from your local grocery deli or cook the chicken yourself.  I cooked the chicken on a grill pan, then used my food processor to shred the chicken.

Mix together the sour cream and cream of chicken soup.  I also added some garlic powder and black pepper to the mixture.
Spray a casserole dish and layer the ingredients, placing the chicken on the bottom and then the soup/sour cream mixture on top.

Next, combine the margarine, cracker crumbs, and poppy seeds in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over the top of the casserole.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until it’s hot and bubbly.  I served this over egg noodles and with green beans on the side.


I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

I hope everyone has a great weekend.  J has a paintball tournament tomorrow so I’m going to cheer him and his team on.  Sunday I’m going to get a short run in…I can’t believe that at this time next weekend I will be at DISNEYLAND!!!!!!

Until next time,

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pretty Muddy Atlanta!

I’m so excited to be an ambassador for the Pretty Muddy Atlanta race!  This will be a fun filled day with my good friend, Z.  This will be her first mud run and I’m determined to make it as much fun as possible.
Last week Pretty Muddy announced the location of the Atlanta Race – Bouckaert Farms
Bouckaert Farms is located about 15 miles south of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.  This is actually where we had to park for Warrior Dash back in April.  It’s a beautiful piece of land and I’m looking forward to getting it all muddy!

Pretty Muddy Atlanta is on Saturday, October 12th.  There are still spots left so consider joining myself and Z!  Check out their website here
pretty muddyHave you participated in a Pretty Muddy race before?

Until next time,

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Packing List for Disneyland Half Weekend

I am so incredibly excited that we are finally in the single digit countdown!!  It seems like only yesterday that I even signed up for the races!

Now that we’re getting down to the wire, I’ve begun making my packing list.  I have never had to pack to run two races before, so I want to make sure I have plenty of time to get everything together and make sure I’m not leaving anything out! 
dumbo packing
My Disneyland organized chaos :)

So I present to you – my packing list!

For the races

  • 2 pair running shoes (in case it rains)
  • 4 pair compression socks
  • 2 pair compression sleeves
  • 2 sports bras
  • 10k outfit
  • half outfit
  • sunscreen
  • water bottle
  • knee brace
  • KT Tape
  • Ziploc bags (for ice)
  • sunglasses (I’ve heard the sun is a killer)
  • poncho
  • fuel for race (still deciding on specifics)
  • Gold Bond Friction (like Body glide)
  • Nuun
  • SpiBelt
  • energybits
  • plenty of ponytail holders
  • Garmin and charger
  • armband
  • Handana
  • Biofreeze
  • compression pants (to wear the night before the half)
  • Road ID
  • waiver
  • Princess drawstring backpack (to make bag check a little easier)
  • Princess medal (for Coast to Coast photo ops!)
  • portable phone charger

So that’s what I’ve come up with so far!  This list doesn’t include my “normal” clothes…I’m more concerned about leaving any running related items behind.  If you have anything to add please let me know!

Get excited, kids…it’s almost here!

Until next time,

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Weekly Workouts – August 12-18

I stuck with my training plan and ran every day that I was supposed to this week.  Wahoo!!

dumbo training 813

Well…at least since last November (that one was 10:45).  I was so excited to see this number, as you can probably tell by the cheese ball smile on my face.  It feels good to know that my one mile runs are getting progressively faster.  Now if I can just tie those into my training and races I would be golden.  After the mile run I took Guinness out for a mile walk, so two miles done.

dumbo training 815
My legs felt like I was running with concrete blocks as shoes during this run.  Was happy that I kept my pace under a 12:00 minute mile though.  Pretty humid run.

dumbo training 817
This was day one of my back to back runs – the last back to backs I have before the Dumbo Double Dare!  I can’t believe that it’s almost here!  The weather was absolutely perfect.  I didn’t have to worry about getting up early to beat the heat, and there was a nice breeze and overcast sky.  I was shooting at finishing in an hour, so I wasn’t too far off.  I also ran into a coworker and her husband who were also getting a training run in.  It was nice to stop and chat for a few.

dumbo training 818
I had plans to run all 10 miles on a new to me section of the greenway.  Once I started, I noticed that this part of the trail didn’t have quite as many people on it.  I didn’t feel unsafe – just less comfortable running somewhere new alone.  So I decided to get 4.5 miles in at this trail, and then do the remaining 5.5 miles on the trail nearest to me.  As I was driving home, the sky looked pretty nasty, so I decided to run between my neighborhood and the one next to it to get the last few miles.  My legs were pretty tired as they have not run this much in 2 days before.  Between the two runs, my total time was 2:23, so it wasn’t horrible.  After my shower I spent the rest of the day in my Pro Compression socks.

Total weekly miles – 19
Total monthly miles – 28

This will definitely be my highest mileage month!  I’ve started my taper for Dumbo and while the numbers will go down, I’m going to keep my body moving.  Just 10 days until I leave!!

How did your training go this week?  What race(s) are you training for?

Until next time,

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Weekly Workouts : Aug 5-11

Last week during my Weekly Workouts post, I confessed that I hadn’t run at all the previous week, and made a commitment to run every day this week.

Well….I honored my promise!


I finally decided to take my new Brooks out for a run.  Since I’m planning on wearing them for the Dumbo Double Dare in a couple of weeks (eek!!) I figured I needed to take them out and get them broken in.  I also wore a new pair of shorts.  I’ve been running in compression shorts but decided to give some actual running shorts a try.  They weren’t too bad..just need to tone down my thighs a bit :)
RS day 1


Two miles around the neighborhood.  A bit of a slower pace but this will be more like how I’ll be running at Disneyland so I wasn’t too terribly disappointed.  Oh, and I forgot to charge my Garmin so I had to run with the Nike+ app instead.
RS day 2


Another quick mile around the neighborhood.  A little slower than my last mile run but not too bad!
RS day 3


Found this fun app that tells you what the humidity is in your area.  It was a little muggy out there!  Photo bomb courtesy of Guinness :)
RS day 4


Yesterday I got my TeamrunDisney shirt in the mail, so I HAD to take it out on a test run.  I also tried out another pair of running shorts (not too bad).  I finally remembered to put the Garmin on the charger and was able to run with it again.  My brother was coming to visit for the weekend so I wanted to get the run out of the way as soon as possible.  My reward was sushi for dinner!
RS day 5     sushi


I had a super busy day planned, so I woke up early and got my run out of the way.  I even managed to shave a little over a second off my mile run earlier this week!  After my run, I went to watch my friend Sharon compete in a Crossfit competition (She took home 2nd place!).  RS day 6
Then my brother and I went to play disc golf.  It was a tough course (according to him) and we ended up cutting it short at 6 holes because a storm was rolling in.  We chilled at home and then went to dinner with the hubby and a work group he was entertaining.  After dinner, my brother and I went to the Light up the Night run to watch two of my best running buds in a race!
LUTN run 
Doesn’t Brandi’s costume rock?!?!  She took home first place!  Ramona also won 2nd place in her age group!  Super proud to call these awesome ladies my friends.


I woke up not feeling too well so I lounged most of the day.  I made dinner and before eating, decided I needed to get out and do my run.  My shins have been bothering me since they’re not used to me running every single day, and it was thundering so I settled on another quick mile and decided to bring Guinness along.  He did okay but still needs some work.  I did take off 8 seconds from my best mile time for the week, so I was super excited about that!!
RS day 7

Total miles – 9

It was fun pushing myself on the one mile runs…hopefully these will help my speed and I’ll be able to take off even more time from my runs.  Today will definitely be a rest day, and then tomorrow I’ll be back to my Dumbo training…not too much longer now!

How do you get faster?  Have you done a run streak before?

Until next time,

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