Archive | November, 2013

Homemade Crockpot Applesauce

21 Nov

We’re fortunate enough to have two apple tress in the backyard, a Courtland tree and a Honey Gold tree. The first year I moved in, the trees didn’t produce any apples, so I originally thought they were too young. But after talking to the people at our local greenhouse, they said it wasn’t uncommon for young trees to have apples one year, and none the next year. They also gave us some great tips about using something to help strengthen the roots, since apple tree roots don’t grow very deep, and different sprays we could use to keep bugs away.

This year, the apple trees delivered! We had so many apples, we almost ran out of room to store them. The Courtland apples ripen first, and I was ambitious enough to make an apple pie, and we saved the rest for eating. The flavor was so delicious! Crisp and the right amount of tartness. The Honey Gold tree ripens second, usually about 2-4 weeks later, and by this time, I do not want to make another pie or even a crisp! We both love applesauce but hate how the store bought stuff has so much sugar added in, we decided to try making our own at home.

Our bounty of apples

Our bounty of apples

Our schedule has not lightened up at all recently, I think in the last 2 weeks we’ve had something going on after work every night of the week! I knew we wouldn’t have time at home to make the applesauce on the stove top so I decided to try it in the crockpot. Except for all the prep work of peeling and cutting up the apples, it was so simple!

Crockpot Applesauce
14 medium apples (I filled the crockpot very close to the top)
1 strip of lemon peel
1 tsp lemon juice
cinnamon stick
8 tsp brown sugar
2/3 c sugar

1. Peel, core and chop up the apples, add to the crockpot
2. Add sugar, lemon peel, lemon juice and cinnamon stick. I broke the cinnamon stick in half, hoping it would help increase the flavor

All the ingredients in the crock pot ready to go!

All the ingredients in the crock pot ready to go!

3. Stir all the ingredients together
4. Cook on low for 6 hours (I did this on a work day, and after the 6 hours my crockpot turned to warm and stayed on until I got home from work. The apples did not burn or start sticking to the sides which was a relief!)
5. Remove the cinnamon stick and lemon peel.
6. Mash or blend the apples to the consistency of your choice. I was able to use a potato masher to get a very smooth apple sauce, the apples fell apart perfectly.
7. Can and process as you would normally. I used a hot water bath, otherwise you could keep it in the fridge if you plan on eating it relatively quickly, or freeze it to enjoy later on.

The crockpot applesauce turned out great. The little bit of sugar was perfect to make it just a little bit sweeter, but still let the flavor of the apples come through. We were a little disappointed that we only got 3 pint sized cans though. We were both hoping for more!  I’d absolutely make homemade applesauce in a crock pot again, it was nice to throw it all together and forget it! Now we see how long we can wait before we open the first can!

Nike Women’s Half-Marathon 2013

6 Nov

Two weekends ago my 15 weeks of half-marathon training finally paid off! I completed my second Nike Women’s Half-Marathon in San Francisco and I could not be happier with how it went.

This will always be one of my favorite races. Not only is it put on by Nike (I love their stuff), but it’s in San Francisco (one of my favorite cities) and it helps benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). I first heard about it a few years ago, and it was easy to motivate me to train and run 13.1 miles! At the finish line you are greeted by San Francisco’s finest firemen dressed sharply in tuxedos, and instead of handing you a finishers medal, they hand you a custom Tiffany & Co. sterling sliver necklace!

The race is so popular Nike actually limits the number of people that can participate. So, there are two ways you can sign up. 1) Join Team in Training and fundraise for LLS or 2) Enter the lottery and hope your name is picked to be one of the 30,000 people that are running. When I ran in 2011, I entered the lottery by myself and luckily got picked! My mom and I made a long weekend out of it and had a blast. After telling a few of my girlfriends and fellow runners about it, they got excited and were interesting in trying to get in for 2012. We signed up as a team, and sadly, did not get picked. So we decided to give it another try this year, signed up as a team again called the MinneSNOWta Sexy Striders, and anxiously waited for mid-June when Nike was conducting the lottery. The nice part about signing up as a team, if someone on the team is picked, the entire team gets in! We hoped that would help our chances. A few of us were texting back and forth the day of the lottery, checking to see if anyone had gotten the e-mail that said we were in. One of the girls got her email that morning and we all knew we were going to San Fran in October!

Nike put together a pretty neat app which included information about the race, the course map, and a training program depending on how you wanted to do (finish or Personal Record (PR.)) Since I ran it before, I decided I wanted to PR and beat my time from 2011 of 2:28. I’m not going to lie, those 15 weeks of training got tough. There were plenty of early Saturday or Sunday morning long training runs, waking up at 5am to get my run in for the day, and days my legs were dead tired. It was addicting in a way though, checking to see what my workout was for the next day, and seeing if my time improved over my last run. I actually started to get faster and I’m a believer in tempo runs now, they are not just pointless intervals like I used to think.

My mom was probably just as excited as I was about getting into the run, so we planned a girls weekend. My mom and sister both flew into San Fran and we met up at the airport a couple of days before the run. We checked out the expo to get my race packet, try out some free food and score some free samples from Paul Mitchell and Neutrogena. Nike also puts the names of all the runners on display at their San Fran store, so we had to stop and take a pic. The atmosphere was so energetic it was contagious. Everyone was excited to be there and ready for the race.

At the NWM Expo 2013

At the NWM Expo 2013

Since the race was on Sunday, we spent Saturday doing a little sightseeing. Not too much walking was my only rule. So we checked out the farmer’s market at the Ferry Building, did a little shopping and met up with the rest of the team who flew in for dinner that night.

Spending time at the Ferry Building and Farmer's Market

Spending time at the Ferry Building and Farmer’s Market

Sunday, race day! Of course I was nervous, I get nervous before every race! A few of us met up at the start line and actually stuck together for most of the race. Let me tell you, running with people you know and chatting makes it go by so much quicker and is much more fun! I used to think I would rather run alone, just me and my thoughts, but chatting and encouraging each other throughout the course made it much easier! Now I know everyone thinks if you’re running in San Francisco you’re running up the steep hills. Not true! The first 5 miles or so is flat, you run through downtown and along the Embarcadero. These miles went by quickly and at mile 5 we thought that we could totally take on a full marathon some day.  Miles 6-10 you’re up in the Presidio, so yeah it’s hilly in there, but mile 10 makes it all worth it when you hang a left and see the beach and ocean just open up in front of you. We kept joking about how the hills were nothing compared to the hills on the trails we ran at home.  Miles 11-13 you run through Golden Gate Park and take in all the scenery. I kind of hit my wall around mile 11 thinking that I still had 2 more miles to go and how tired I was getting. But, a few of the girls were nearby and actually picked up the pace a little. They helped me get over the wall and find the energy to kick it into the finish.  I love the entire route because you get to see San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, and be right by the ocean. It’s challenging, but definitely worth it.

2013 NWM Course Map

2013 NWM Course Map

I finished in 2:17, 11 minutes faster than my previous time and that is now my new PR! I was so happy with my time and felt great! My legs were tired, and I was thirsty but I earned that finisher’s t-shirt and necklace! Of course we had to take a picture with the handsome fireman too.

Finishers!

Finishers!

My mom and my sister were a fantastic cheering section! They made their own t-shirts to wear and signs to hold up on the course. We saw them around mile 4 and again at the finish line. I was so glad they were both able to come out and cheer me on! It was a fun girls weekend. After the race and a hot shower, I wanted one thing, a gigantic Ghirardelli ice cream sundae!

At the finish line with my awesome cheering section

At the finish line with my awesome cheering section!

We all flew back home on Monday, and my mom was already asking where my next destination race will be. So I’m taking suggestions! Let me know if you’ve done a destination race that you really enjoyed. So far the Disney Princess Half-Marathon, the Honolulu Marathon and Athens Marathon are on the list!