Saturday, April 30, 2011

Lunch in Paris

I'm breaking the pattern of the Parents in Miami series, because I've been wanting to review Lunch in Paris.  But Day 3, the last day with my parents, will be posted soon once I finish editing pictures.  :)

I've always had an appreciation for French things-- food, art, fashion and books.  When I first heard about Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard, I was instantly intrigued.  Here was a memoir about Bard's life in Paris and the story of how she met her husband, including her own recipes sprinkled throughout the book.

The recipes do sound quite delicious and relatively simple and I am anxious to try her apricot ladyfinger dessert, made in a saucepan.  I enjoyed her descriptions of going to her local market and struggling over her French produce vocabulary.  It was interesting right after devouring French Women Don't Get Fat and then diving into this one Bard too writes about the "French Woman Diet."  She observes her mother-in-law's eating habits that actually echo Guiliano's quite similarly-- her not snacking between meals and small portions.

While it is a pretty light read, I just couldn't get into it.  I really wanted to like it but about halfway through, I realized that I really didn't like the book all that much.  I found myself not really emotionally invested in the character and author, Bard.  The way she writes about her mother and her overall attitude is a little condescending, especially towards her own American heritage.

I was actually a little bored while reading it, which surprised me.  I had been looking forward to reading this book for some time now.  I believe that memoirs should tell some kind of story, some type of transformation.  But with Bard's, I just kept waiting for something to change, for some kind of point to be made but the book just went on and on, ending without any sort of resolution.  Not that everyone has to have some huge accomplishment in their life, but if there's no marked change then what's the point of recounting a superficial story?

Friday, April 29, 2011

My parents in Miami-- Day 2

While Israel was at work on Tuesday, I took my parents out to a few places-- the first being Publix, where I spent an hour just showing my mom all of the Cuban and other Latin products (including palomilla steak).  My mom ended up buying some guava paste for her and a friend back in Kansas.  Afterwards, we stopped at Vicky Bakery for some Cuban pastries and café con leche.

We also went to a few stores and this was my first time driving my new car, without my husband there with me.  Although I've driven several times here, Israel does the majority of the driving when we go somewhere together.  I'm actually fine with that because drivers here are craaazy!  As I drove my parents around, it felt like I was learning how to drive all over again.  I had people tailing me and cutting in front of me with hardly any distance between our cars, which is pretty much the standard around here.  It's going to take me a while before I can get used to this stressful way of driving.  You definitely have to be on your guard at all times!

My parents and I spent the rest of the afternoon going for a swim in the pool at their hotel, which was pretty relaxing.  It's been getting a lot more hot here so the cool water was very refreshing.  Plus we had the whole pool to ourselves the entire time!

Later, while my dad decided to take a nap, my mom and I went out and did some more shopping.  It was nice to just have a some girl time with my mom.  She's seriously one of my best friends and I miss just doing stuff like this together.

For dinner, we went over to my mother-in-law's apartment for some authentic Cuban food prepared by her boyfriend Tony.  We ate shrimp with a tomato-based sauce, tostones (fried plantains) and rice (of course!).

I can't help but think of My Big Fat Greek Wedding every time my parents get together with my in-laws.  I love it though because here are two different cultures and two different languages coming together because of a union formed by Israel and me.  There are lots of translations going on between my parents and Bertha.  I feel like this night I talked more with my mother-in-law without a translator more than I ever have.  I also helped translate for my parents!  And Jorge even noticed that my Spanish has gotten a lot better.

We watched a novela (Spanish soap opera) while we were talking after dinner.  I had so much fun at their house and even though my parents and Bertha can't communicate directly at this point with each other, I can see a mutual love and appreciation, which is pretty awesome.  :)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My parents in Miami-- Day 1

My parents have been in Miami with us since Monday night and they just left this morning.  I can't express how much those few days were such a blessing to me.  I haven't seen them since Christmas, so it was just refreshing to spend some time with them.  And this time, the goodbye wasn't so bad since we will be visiting Topeka in early June.  :)

My parents mainly came to drive down my sister's old car she gave to me to use, but it was also the perfect opportunity to stay a few days.

On Monday night, I had dinner ready when Israel and my parents got here-- a spinach salad with cucumber, tomato and feta and Spaghetti Pie (which I need to write up the recipe for sometime in the future).  It was a bit of a shock to see my parents outside our apartment since the last time they were here was back in September.  We took everything over to my parents' hotel where we ate dinner picnic style in their room.  For dessert, I wanted to surprise my chocoholic mom with these brownies.  They are seriously goooood.

After sufficiently stuffing ourselves, we all enjoyed a little evening stroll down by the water.  My parents were pretty exhausted after driving all day so we called it an early night.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Thoughts on Easter

For as long as I can remember, my parents, sisters, my grandparents on my mom's side and Aunt Lavina and Uncle John got together every Easter.  Of course when we were younger, my sisters (and Uncle John) hunted for eggs the others had planted in our back yard.  Sometimes, we never even found a few eggs until several years later.

Homemade sandwiches, creamy strawberry marshmallow jello, bread and butter pickles, and carrots usually filled our table each year.  Lunch was usually followed by a foot race-- always Renae, Bekah and me racing against Uncle John down the block until our short legs gave out.  I have such fond memories of this day.  :)

This was taken one Easter (I think I was 6 or 7) with Lavina, Renae and our baby bunnies.  I'm the one in the obnoxious hot pink leotard (?) and pink jellies.  Oh, how I loved those jellies.  I think my impeccable fashion sense is obvious here.  ;)

The other day I was feeling a little bummed, because this will be the first Easter I'll be away from my family in Kansas (and Indiana).  I was talking to my husband about this when he lovingly reminded me that the most important thing about Easter is recognizing Christ's sacrifice.  And he's completely right.  It's easy to get down when I'm missing my family a lot, but it's important to remember today is the day we celebrate Christ's resurrection.

This really was a miracle and one that was witnessed by many.  I can't imagine how surprised Mary Magdalene must have been to see her crucified Savior alive again and talking to her.  Or the disciples who touched the scars on Jesus' hands and feet.  How surreal that must have been.  I'm thankful for the most caring and loving Father who sacrificed his own Son that we would have life again, to those who accept Him and believe in Him, that His creation could be united with Him forever.

"But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed."  -Isaiah 53:5

I hope you spend today with your loved ones carrying on old traditions or creating new ones, remembering and recognizing the most important man in the history of the world and the sacrifice He made.

Happy Easter!  :)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Homemade White Chocolate Peanut Butter

I think I've got a serious addiction.  I'm not sure my husband will ever understand why I love peanut butter so much (he didn't grow up with it, so he hasn't acquired a taste for it... yet).  But I could eat it on almost anything-- toast, yogurt, oatmeal, with chocolate, etc.  So naturally, when I saw this on How Sweet Eats, I had to try and make this myself.  

Seriously, make this now!  I promise you'll love it.  :)  

Homemade White Chocolate Peanut Butter*
Makes about 3/4 cup

1 1/2 c. Dry, Salted Roasted Peanuts
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 1/2 T. Canola Oil
1/2 c. White Chocolate Chips

Add peanuts to a food processor and blend until a thick nut butter forms.  Stream in oil and vanilla with the processor on, continuing to run it until the mixture is smooth (this could take anywhere from 2-4 minutes).  Add more oil if needed, but in small increments.  Turn off processor, and melt white chocolate over double boiler or in the microwave.  Add melted chocolate, turn processor back on and blend until smooth.  

Store in the fridge for up to three weeks.

*This only makes about 3/4 of a cup, but I did add a little bit more to make mine last just a bit longer.  You can always double this recipe so you can have a nice full jar!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

French Women Don't Get Fat

I've read two French-themed books just in the last week!  I love reading but I often through reading spurts. This happens when I read something I really enjoyed and got really into, and then it's almost like I'm too afraid to start a new book to see if this one will be just as good.  I haven't really read anything that I really enjoyed since The Forgotten Garden.

However, I had been reading about different books online, and in the same week my husband surprised me by bringing two on my list home from the library!  There's nothing like a man who brings you your favorite flowers AND books.  :)  The perfect man.  I plan on reviewing both books (French Women Don't Get Fat and Lunch in Paris) this week.

I had first heard about Mireille Guiliano's French Women Don't Get Fat sometime in Spanish class two years ago, but didn't have a big interest in reading it.  I had heard mention of it now more recently and it piqued my interest since I've come to love cooking.  This was the book I spent three hours reading at Barnes and Noble last weekend.

Not even halfway through the book, I journaled about it for two pages and the book was resonating with me already.  This book is not a memoir per se, but Guiliano does share her own experience of gaining weight as a foreign exchange student in America and the process of changing back to her French eating habits when she returned.  Although the French eat three meals a day and usually a full-course meal at one of those times, they don't seem to struggle with their weight as much as Americans.  And if you notice their considerably smaller portion sizes, you would understand why.

Something I really loved reading in the book was Guiliano's way of describing how much the French value food and their meal time-- that they see it as a pause in the day, a time to spend with friends and family (and they're not on their cell phones or hurrying through the whole meal).  They eat on real plates and it's one of the most anticipated moments of the day.  It's not a rushed experience nor is it a time to eat in front of the TV and ignore the pleasure experienced by your taste buds.  It's a time to savor each bite.

I could really relate to Guiliano's view on American diets.  People want a quick fix, so they go on these strict and often dangerous diets but they get so bored with the food they're eating, they often times quit.  A friend of mine was on a pretty radical diet, only eating vegetables and yogurt and using a few brain techniques to trick her brain into thinking she wasn't hungry.  She ended up losing almost 20 pounds in a very short amount of time.  But she soon grew tired of eating the same food every day and missing out on her favorites and she ended up quitting the diet and gained most of the weight back.

I've tried different diets myself, and haven't really stuck with any of them.  The only one that really works is exercise and eating a little less.  I really think the key in losing weight is eating three meals a day, a fuller meal at lunch and a lighter one at dinner.  And it really is all about the portion control.  You can still partake in rich foods, but in a limited quantity, with quality ingredients that will leave you satisfied and not reaching for more.

Something I don't quite agree with Guiliano on is her attitude towards exercise. She writes that you don't see a lot of women running and sweating inside a gym and they just don't care to do so.  But instead, they walk more and climb seven floors rather than take the elevator.  I can understand that and would gladly do that if America had a better transportation system.  But unless you live in New York or D.C., most places just aren't set up to be walking cities.  There's no way you can get around Miami just by walking or even riding your bike without being run over or cursed on the street.

Plus, intense cardio exercise is a great way to jump start your weight loss.  When my weight was at an all time high the spring of my sophomore year in college, I did start eating less but it took a lot longer for the weight to come off until I started going to the gym.  Biking is probably the best way to lose weight without injuring yourself.

Wow, I have gone off on a rant on this review!  Sorry for being all over the place.  Oh well... I thoroughly enjoyed this book... and it's great and... you should read it!  It even includes some authentic French recipes.  Mainly, what Guiliano is saying is that French women don't get fat because while they respect their bodies, they also fully enjoy what they eat and still remain slim.  I'll leave you with this quote:

"French women don't skip meals or substitute slimming shakes for them.  They have two or three courses at lunch and then another three (sometimes four) at dinner.  And with wine.  How do they do it? Well, that's a story.  That's the story.  One hint:  They eat with their heads, and they do not leave the table feeling stuffed or guilty."  

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cubans Like to Party

Yesterday we celebrated this little guy's birthday:

Yeah, he's pretty darn cute.  :)  The party was held at a park I've never been to before and there was loud music, baseball, a bouncy castle, Julio the Clown, tons of food and cupcakes, and lots and lots of Cubans.  Everyone mainly gathered inside the shelter house, which was a nice relief from the scorching hot sun.  And in true tropical fashion, there was a rather intense rain that hit in the late afternoon which lasted for about an hour before the sun came out again.

The stereotype for a lot of Hispanic parties is that the whole family is invited... and that means the whole family-- your cousins, your third cousins, your third cousin's receptionist, your great aunt's dog, etc.  Yesterday, I found that stereotype to be pretty accurate.  It still feels strange to be the minority here, basically the only person whose native language is English and isn't fluent in Spanish.  I've never heard so many people speaking Spanish together all in one place (except for Guatemala or Peru)... including the clown who only spoke in Spanish.  This was a bit surreal.

But it was a pretty good time, despite the immediate family being two hours late (also a very Cuban thing).  The music was so loud the entire time so I was ready for some nice reading time when we got home last night.  :)

Christopher already taking the initiative at age 2.

What a little flirt!

With my BFF and niece Giselle

With my favorite Cuban

The bouncy castle was a huge hit, especially when it was pouring rain and the boys wanted to get soaking wet

There was sooo much food, but this is just a sampling of some Arroz Imperial, which is basically just yellow rice with shredded chicken and cheese.  So tasty!

My mother-in-law Bertha and her boyfriend Tony

Chris was actually reaching for me and shouting "Tia! Tia!" through the ropes

But I think he was enjoying himself just fine :)

Julio the Clown making his rounds

A true tropical party!

Sweet Shot Day


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Running on a Soufflé

Yesterday was delightful.  We slept in late (well, 10:30 for me and a little later for Israel) and had a nice leisurely breakfast.  We then headed over to Barnes and Noble and read for three whole hours!  It was bliss.  I also packed a little lunch for us to eat there (I know, tacky, but whatever- it saves money)-- a tomato and spinach sandwich on a piece of wheat bread with a mustard/hummus spread for me, and a turkey sandwich for Israel.

I'm so glad I married someone who loves to read as much as I do.  Really, fellow readers are hard to find.  I haven't really read a good book in a long time, but lately I've read Black Heels to Tractor Wheels (Pioneer Woman's book about meeting her husband, a very entertaining and light read!) and am currently reading French Women Don't Get Fat, which I am loving.

Later, I made dinner and randomly decided to make chocolate soufflés in my convection oven. That thing has no limits!  This was my first attempt at any kind of soufflé and it really wasn't as hard as people make it out to be.  I used a darker chocolate, but I think next time I'll try a little lighter one.  They turned out pretty well!  I served them with some homemade vanilla whipped cream.  I'll post a recipe soon for these.  :)

This morning my stomach was hurting from too much soufflé and cream and I felt like a zombie, due to not getting enough sleep.  But I decided to go for my run anyways and even though it rained on me a little, I ended up running 4 miles!  I have now beat my record!  I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but that's the furthest I've ever run in my whole life.  I hope I can continue to get better.  My legs weren't even hurting at the end.  

Tomorrow is Christopher's birthday party, which is going to be a pretty big event!  Lots of Cubans in one place, food, probably dancing... pretty standard stuff.  I'm going to be making lots of Oreo Truffles tonight to bring to the party.  

Also, there are some changes on the blog!  I added a "Recipes" and "Life in the 305" tab to get a little better organized and just for easy blog browsing. Hope you enjoy them, and I'll be constantly updating those sections, so please keep checking back.  :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Easy Homemade Naan Bread

I have avoided making any non-quick breads that would require me to knead and roll out bread dough due to lack of a countertop to do so.  But after reading about this bread on Mommy Cooks and seeing how easy it looked, I had to try it.  I even created my own countertop using a cutting board on top of half of the dish rack.  

I have to be honest and confess that I tried to alter the recipe and use both regular flour and whole wheat flour, but it ended up being a sticky mess that I had to throw away and start over.  So take my word, and just go by the recipe.  ;)  This bread really does come together pretty quickly and doesn't require any special equipment or rising time.

Easy Homemade Naan Bread:
4 to 6 Servings

1 c. Flour, heaping
2 tsp. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 c. Milk
2 T. Olive Oil

Sift the dry ingredients first-- the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into a bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix together the oil and milk.  

Make a well in the middle of the flour bowl, and pour in the milk mixture.  Slowly incorporate the flour into the oil until a dough bowl forms.  Knead the dough for about 6 to 8 minutes until dough is soft and smooth.  Add more flour is the dough is sticky (I ended up adding at least 1/4 c. more) until you have the right consistency.

Grab a chunk of dough off the ball, throw some flour on your counter and roll it out nice and thin.  Fun fact:  I got a rolling pin for our wedding, but didn't take it back with me because I didn't think I would be making pies or bread here... little did I know.  I used a bottle of vinegar instead, which didn't allow me to roll the dough really thin, but I like it a little chunkier anyways. :)

Heat a large saute pan on high heat and once the pan is very hot, throw your rolled out dough into the pan.  Cook for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.  Repeat with the rest of your dough.

This was the first one I made and I nibbled on it as I was making the rest of the batch.  Then I served it up with a small salad with hummus.  These were plain, but you could easily spice it up with a little garlic or hummus (which tasted amazing!).  

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Beating the Heat

Good morning!  Or afternoon, almost.

I was so sleepy when I woke up this morning with Israel around 7:45... this is what happens when you go to bed at 1.  We're working on getting to bed earlier.  This week every time we turn out the light and I try to sleep, I end up laying awake for an hour or two just letting my mind run.  I'm so jealous of my husband who can just shut off his brain and be asleep in ten minutes or less.  Last night I tried to turn off all the thoughts in my head and just focus on sleep, and it definitely worked.

After Israel left for work, I debated with myself whether or not to get out of bed and go running or have a lazy morning and read/eat breakfast, etc. until it was too hot to go running.  I made up my mind to get out and run because I didn't want to brave the 86 degrees + crazy humidity later.  I'm so glad I went.

I'm on Week 8 of Podrunner now, just two more weeks to go and then I'll have completed the whole thing.  This week I'll be running 3 miles every day (or at least three days on this program this week).  Since I went early enough and beat the heat, I felt more energized and like I could go even further than I did.  I haven't run this much in my life and I am loving it.

When I got home from my run, I was dripping with sweat and just stood in front of the A/C for a couple minutes.  Sweating never felt so good.  I had a nice breakfast of Greek yogurt with peanut butter and bran flakes and a piece of toast with mashed banana on top.

Since I'm nearing the end of my first Podrunner program, I've been thinking about running in a 5K.  I probably should have looked up races before this, but I don't know if there's anything coming up in the Miami area.  I just learned that Podrunner has another training interval program, this time leading up to a 10K.  I definitely want to train for that once I have finished this one!

On another note, my parents are coming for a visit soon and bringing me my sister's old car!  First of all, I'm really excited to see them both!  I haven't seen my parents since Christmas, and that is much too long.    It will be really nice to spend a few days with them and just catch up on life.  That car is seriously such a blessing from God.  I'm so, so thankful for it.  And it seems weird to say this, but having a car again really will change my life.  Getting a job will be a lot easier, so I'm stepping up the job search once the car arrives.  Also, just doing simple things like going to the store when I need something is now possible... I can cure my cabin fever and just get out of the house.  I'm so looking forward to this!  I'll never take a car for granted again.  :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Trip to Whole Foods

The hubby and I went to Whole Foods last weekend, because I was wanting such things as White Chocolate Peanut Butter.  Is there anything more wonderful-sounding than that?  Seriously.  I'm not a vegan, nor do I think I could ever rule out butter, eggs or milk from my diet entirely, but I do sometimes prefer the healthy, organic stuff over highly processed items at most grocery stores.  This place has some pretty amazing stuff.  I was really impressed by the variety of produce and it all looked so clean and fresh, which was really nice to see.

When we got to the nut butter section, I just had to take a moment.  I don't know how I've gone so long without even hearing about different kinds of peanut butter.  We were there for about an hour, but I could have stayed so much longer and probably eaten about everything in the store (almost).

We didn't end up buying this.  We just thought it was pretty funny that Israel, the chosen one, was holding the chosen beer.

David's Salt. Heh, heh.  Right after I snapped this, a man came up to us and asked me if I had permission to take this country's picture.  He then proceeded to ask Israel if he knew what black people looked like. When Israel replied, "Well, they have dark skin," the man just said, "You're Jewish and you don't even know what black people look like."  As we excused ourselves and walked away, the man creepily whispered under his breath, "Don't forget about the beautiful black people."  It was a (funny) strange moment for sure.

Here are some of the goods we brought home:

This brand of hummus or hommos?  was Buy 1, Get 1 Free!  

Strangely addicting.  I couldn't help but think of my oldest sister who gets a thrill out of such interesting combinations.

Clif Bars will forever make me think of Ireland.  

This baby has 23 grams of Protein just in one serving!

So French right now.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Best Burger in Miami

There's an episode of How I Met Your Mother called "The Best Burger in New York."  In this episode, Marshall claims that he had the best hamburger in the world his first week in New York, but he forgot where the burger joint is located.  The rest of the episode is about the whole group looking for this magical place.  He describes his perfect burger:

"Just a burger?  Just a burger?  Robin, it's so much more than 'just a burger...' It's a patty of ground beef so exquisite, swirling in your mouth, breaking apart, and combining again in a fugue of sweets and savor so delightful..."

I can relate to Marshall's passion for such a burger.  I don't know about you, but just salt-and-pepper seasoning doesn't do it for me.  I love intense, bold flavors and a juicy burger you can sink your teeth into and remember its strong taste hours later just by thinking about it.  I once had the most amazing, flavorful burger of my life in Portland, Maine with my travel companion Tricia at a pub called Gritty's.  It was the summer of 2008, and we had just taken our momentous roadtrip across the country from Kansas to Maine.

We were walking down the streets of Portland, hungry but with no real agenda in mind for any specific place.  We stumbled upon this place and both ordered the lamb burger with feta and fresh mint.

My tastebuds were thanking me the rest of the day... and the rest of the year.

Tricia and I came back the next year to the same place and ordered the same burger, but it didn't taste the same and we couldn't ever figure out what it was.  Sometimes you only get those once-in-a-lifetime moments, and that's okay with me.

It's the company and good conversations that make the experience enjoyable!

I decided to try and re-create this wonderful burger at home.  Israel and I went to Publix, and I was pumped to make my first ever lamb burger, although pretty sure I had never seen ground lamb before, nor ever looked for it.  I scanned the lamb meat section, finding nothing resembling the ground texture, and even asked the butcher if they had any.  But unfortunately, Publix isn't cool enough yet to carry ground lamb.  :(

So I opted for lean ground beef instead.  But next time, I will not stop until I find lamb!  Here is my spin of the best burger in Maine:

The Best Burger in Miami:
Makes 4 patties

1 lb. Lean Ground Beef
1 Whole Egg, lightly beaten
1 T. Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper
2 tsp. Garlic Salt
2 T. Olive Oil (for frying)
1/2 c. large onion
4 Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns
2 T. Feta Cheese
Optional Garnishes:  Lettuce, Tomato Slices, Extra Feta, Mayo

Mix ground beef, egg, Worchestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and garlic salt; mix with your hands and form into 4 medium-sized patties.

Heat olive oil on a large skillet over medium-heat and cook patties for about 5-7 minutes per side, or until meat is cooked through.  Add onions to skillet and cook them with patties until translucent.

Serve on toasted buns with Feta and extra garnishes.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bite

Hello.  My name is Elena and I'm a chocoholic.

I am truly my mother's daughter.  When my mom said no to chocolate on some odd days, she would hold a brownie up to her nose and say, "I only need to smell it."  While I inherited my mom's sweet tooth, I did not inherit her self-control.  It's hard to go through a whole day without any chocolate or at least something sweet when I'm trying to be a good girl.  I came up with this little invention to satisfy my chocolate cravings by indulging just a little bit.

It's just a few bites so it won't undo your whole diet, and it tastes like a no-bake cookie in a bowl!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bite:

1 T. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 T. Creamy Peanut Butter
1 T.  Non-fat Milk
2 T. Oats

Optional Add-in's:

Flax seed
1 tsp. sugar

Add first three ingredients to small bowl or custard cup.  Heat in microwave at 30-second intervals until chocolate is melted.  Stir together until well-blended and then add in the oats.  

Eat right out of the bowl with a spoon and enjoy your small chocolate indulgence!  

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Day of Good Eats

I think it's official-- I'm a foodie.  While I definitely appreciated food before, my taste buds have become insatiable and more "refined," if you will, since I got married and became the chef of the household.  This morning I ran with Podrunner for about 3 miles, and then did a little more running on my own.  My knee was killing me the other day, so I rested a couple of days and started stretching and doing more leg exercises.  It felt so effortless on my run this morning-- my legs weren't hurting at all and I felt like I could run another mile or two if it weren't for the intense heat.

I worked up a good appetite so I went home and made myself a nice breakfast:  Greek yogurt with a dallop of white chocolate peanut butter, bran flakes and frozen blueberries.  I love a variety of textures in my food.  And I don't think I can go a day without peanut butter.  I adore the stuff!

For lunch I made myself a spinach salad with tomato, cucumber, gorgonzola and lemon juice.  I also had a little bit of Garlic Lovers hummus with Parmesan Garlic and Herb pita chips.  Oh, and the rest of my panini sandwich from last night.  Oh my.  It was quite a spread.

Can we just have a pause for reflection on the gorgonzola?  I don't think I've had it before, but we stocked up on a bunch of cheeses at the grocery store and this was one I've been wanting to try.  It's my new favorite.

Since it's our 7 month anniversary today, Israel told me he was going to take me to dinner somewhere but would not give me the location.  He likes to play this game, and I can usually get a tiny clue out of him but not this time.  Instead I was completely surprised and he took me to Caffe Italia, a cute Italian place on Calle Ocho.  We both ordered a glass of wine, garlic rolls, the classic Spaghetti and Meatballs for him, and Chicken Piccata for me.

And of course, we split the Tiramisu for dessert.  It was a wonderful ending to a delicious day.