Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Just when you thought the Halloween treats were over, then BAM! :) I promise to go back to just cooking soon. Seriously.

I don't buy Halloween treats for my almost 4 year old son. I never have. He gets more than enough from "trick or treating." I do bake for him though. This year I made a little something new and simple since we already had our Halloween party.

Black velvet cupcakes! Have you heard of them? Red velvet for Valentines and black velvet for Halloween. It makes sense. And black is SPOOKY! Instead of the icing in the recipe, I used my favorite cream cheese icing. For the eyes, I used black sesame seeds. My original idea of using chocolate chips would have been too big. Poppy seeds would have been too small. Luckily, I had black sesame seeds at home as well :) It's good to be well equipped people. By the way, it took me longer to place those eyes on than it took to pipe the icing on the cupcakes. The more I bake and decorate, the more I appreciate the little details.

Ghost black velvet cupcakes.

This year's pumpkin carvings: Darth Maul & Ironman.

Monday, October 22, 2012

My First Halloween Party Table

I have been swooning over dessert and party tables for years now. They are incredibly charming, well designed, feature amazing looking food and look terribly professional. I'm none of those things by the way but I do like to pretend I am :) Yesterday, I put together my first Halloween party table. It's actually my first all themed party table. It was for a mini gathering with just my sister and her family so I didn't feature a crazy amount of food. Holidays like Halloween and Christmas are good occasions to put together party tables because so much of the decorations are already available for purchase. A lot of the stuff I was using came straight from Dollarama. The garland was $1. The tin pumpkin container was $1. The table cloth, the napkins, and even some of the candy were just $1 each.

I made Halloween themed cupcakes, mummy dogs, apple teeth, spiced cookies, and salsa. The spiced cookies and salsa (totally awesome, which I may blog about soon!) were made beforehand but the rest were made just a few hours before the party. I cut pumpkins shapes out of my pineapple as well but forgot about them until the end so they weren't photographed :( Oops. To style the table a bit more, I scattered around candy in mini Halloween themed muffin cups. Tortilla chips were served inside a pumpkin baking tin I barely use anymore. It was nice to be able to use it for serving and decoration instead. When everything was laid out, it looked rather cool. For a "dollar" party table display, that is :)

Mummy dogs: Bake half a hot dog wrapped in strips of crescent roll dough & dot with mustard.

Cupcake with bats cut out of chocolate fondant. Eye cupcakes uses red royal icing & eye gummies.

Apple teeth: sliced apples with slivered almonds.

Spooky fingers: Spiced cookies with almonds attached using a bit of royal icing.

We hosted our Halloween party a week early this year since my sister and her family are leaving for Hawaii this week. It also turns out that too many parties are planned the week before Halloween so it's nearly impossible for us to organize one and have all the people we want to attend. After having this party early, I am beginning to think that this is the best idea ever! Not only are people more likely available for an early Halloween party, but there are also plenty of Halloween supplies out there if you need them. The extra bonus for me is that I get to blog about it before Halloween for those who want to take some of my ideas for their party :) Let's also not forget that we have lots of leftover goodies like cupcakes so we get to enjoy those right away! Win. I think this may be the start of many early holiday parties for me :)

My silly little M&M. (Costume only $3 at Dollarama! :)

Friday, October 12, 2012

S'more Cookies Using Marshmallow Fondant

Today my son and I made some fun Halloween cookies. I actually wanted to make s'mores from scratch but homemade marshmallows seemed like a pain to make at the time and I didn't want to use store bought marshmallows since I couldn't customize the shapes. One day I will make my own marshmallows (I promise!) but today I was having a lazy day. Instead, I decided to use fondant. I had all these loose scraps of fondant I made awhile ago sitting around in the fridge and this was the perfect chance to use them up. My fondant was made from marshmallows after all so it seemed like a fitting idea to use them for s'mores. Simple enough, right?

For those who are not familiar with s'mores, they are basically graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows all eaten together. It's common to melt the marshmallows over a campfire, stick a piece of chocolate inside and sandwich the thing between graham crackers. Yum! Now you get the idea :)

Here's what you'll need to create this fun and sweet treat for Halloween:

I made my graham crackers and shaped them into some fun pumpkin and bat shapes. While the cookies were being baked and cooled, I used the same Halloween cookie cutters to cut shapes out of the fondant. The finished fondant shapes were laid on parchment paper so that they could easily be removed. I melted chocolate in the microwave and then brushed melted chocolate over top of a cookie. I then immediately placed the matching piece of marshmallow fondant over top of the melted chocolate. You'll need to do each cookie one by one or you may risk the chocolate hardening on you. Just saying :)

For the darker pieces, I used store bought Satin Ice chocolate fondant.

Now fondant is sweeter than marshmallow but this version uses just a thin piece of marshmallow fondant so it's actually not that sweet overall. Typically, S'mores would use big chunks of marshmallows. We didn't miss the big marshmallows though. We like marshmallows too but when we bit into this cookie, it just tasted YUM. It's a good thing I didn't half the recipe! :)

Who doesn't want to play with edible playdough??? :)

My finished cookies.

My almost 4 year old's cookies :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Thanksgiving Turkey and Marathon Medal Cookies

The Victoria Marathon occurs on every Thanksgiving weekend. This past weekend was Thanksgiving in Canada so we took the ferry over to Victoria for the race. The temperature soared to 23C on race day, which was unusually warm for this time of year. It was a bit hot for running. My husband and I finished the race with personal best times but we both admitted that it was really hard. Really rough and painful for me actually :( 42 km is a super long run! Even a super long walk. It was just Thanksgiving so I would like to say that I am very thankful the race is over!

I knew I would be preoccupied with the marathon so sadly this year I did not have the time to organize and cook for Thanksgiving :( I didn't want to miss out on all the cooking and baking fun so I did make cookies with my almost 4 year old son last week, just before heading over to Victoria. I think he enjoys cookie decorating as much as I do :) He was so proud of his work. I think he did an amazing job! He said he wanted to pick the nicest one and give it to his best friend at daycare. He wanted his friend to have it since his friend plays with him all the time. When his dad came home from work that day, he ran to show off his cookies. It was so cute :)

Hard at work.

Cookie decoration by my almost 4 year old.

The turkey wing is messed up, due to my laziness. Oops.


As for my Thanksgiving turkey cookies, I sort of messed up but in the end they were still "gift-able." I do love the turkey cookie cutter from Williams-Sonoma though. My marathon medal cookies looked even worst but I had a feeling they would be hard to do since writing on small cookies is hard to do. Especially with such dark color combinations. Hopefully people will get the idea. The organizers for the Victoria Marathon liked them enough to feature the cookies on their Facebook page, which was really nice of them :) I really should have done a better job. Lol.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Our Menu Plan the Week Before the Marathon

Carbo-loading is in full swing! We've started off the week by eating more or less what we normally eat with emphasis on fiber-rich foods, protein, and complex carbohydrates. Near the end of the week, we'll be eating more carbohydrates, less fiber, omitting sweet and fattening foods (i.e cake, cookies etc.), drinking more, and trying to not overeat :) We'll also stay away from hard to digest foods such as raw veggies and red meat. I will also be making my usual granola at the end of the week, like I normally do for long runs. Plus, we're going to eat beets! Not the morning of the race but at least the night before since it's suppose to do wonders for increasing blood flow and is great for endurance. We ate beets during training before and it didn't have any negative effects at least. It's not a good idea to try anything new in the diet within three days of the race. Also important is that carb-loading needs to start 2-3 days before the race so eating pasta only the night before is not going to do it :)

Red curry with coconut milk/oil, fish, green veggies & pasta

Pistou soup - our tried/tested carb-rich meal. Making this tomorrow!

Lots of food rich in fiber, carbohydrates, protein

Here is a quick look at our menu plan for the week leading up to our marathon race:

Sunday King crab (it was our moon festival feast!). Brown/white rice/quinoa mix served with 4 dishes: sherry/honey chicken, tofu with pork/tomato sauce, you choy, and eggplant. Treat: cookies, fruit.
Monday Leftovers from Sunday. Treat: moon cake, fruit.
Tuesday Pasta with coconut curried fish, broccoli, green beans, zucchini, yellow peppers, and tomatoes. Fruit.
Wednesday Leftovers from Tuesday plus pistou soup. Fruit.
Thursday Leftovers from Wednesday. Fruit.
Friday Beet salad and pasta with simple tomato sauce. Fruit.
Saturday Leftovers from Friday. Fruit.

Husband & I running in the half-marathon in Victoria 2005
The morning of the race, we will be eating something light 2-3 hours before the race. My husband, who is also running the marathon with me, will have a bagel and some fruit. He has tested this breakfast out many times already. As for me, I will have my usual granola bar and half a banana two hours before. We will also drink a full glass of water.

During the race, I will drink at least a bit of something at every water station even when I'm not too thirsty. I sweat a lot and need to! Lol. Keep in mind, water also helps release the glycogen in your muscles and that's where your fuel will come from. Don't worry; you won't need to pee really during the race. Near the end, you won't feel much either than pain anyway. Ha, ha! But seriously, I'm the type that pees three times within an hour or so of drinking a cup of coffee so trust me! Having said that, there is no need to over hydrate and be uncomfortable during the race :) When food is handed out, I will grab some of that. If it's stuff I haven't tried before, I will just skip it.

April of 2003, I ran my first marathon in Paris. I learned a lot from it and the above content is a bit of a quick summary of the article I wrote during that time. I had to revisit that article because I actually forgot a lot of stuff. Also, there is new research and information coming up all the time. I know what more or less works for me so I'm sticking to my trusted training and fueling plan. My husband's plan is slightly different. For instance, he likes to take coffee before runs to boost his performance. Your plan will be different too. Plan ahead and rest well. Most importantly during the race, start SLOW! Conserve as much energy as possible so that you don't hit the wall for the last 10 km. Because that really is no fun if you do.

5 more sleeps until the Victoria marathon!!!! Wish me LOTS of luck. Good luck to all the runners taking part in this weekend's race in Victoria! See you there :)
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