Marinated Chicken Alla Griglia

Several people in my Saturday morning long run group are starting to gear up for the Marine Corps Marathon at the end of October. I’m still pretty sure I never want to run a marathon but I do enjoy doing a bit higher mileage to a point. Two weeks ago, four of us gathered bright and early for a hilly and hot 13 mile run. I already had a mile and a half under my belt by the time I met up with my running buddies which made that run a total of 14.5 miles for me, the longest run of 2012. While I was really happy to get into some longer long runs, I wasn’t very smart running wise that week. I had added a mile or two to my usual  Tuesday and Thursday tempo runs, and therefore ended the week having run a little over 47 miles. Due to a little vacation the previous week, I had only run 27 miles and my highest mileage week prior to that was 43 miles. Needless to say my legs weren’t quite ready for that 47 mile week. Despite taking an ice bath and massaging my legs after the long run, I still went through the next day feeling more sluggish than usual and my legs felt like someone had tied 15 pound weights to my quads.

In hopes of putting some pep into my step, both literally and figuratively, I pored through my cookbooks in search of a comforting and protein filled Sunday dinner. Although I thought I had settled on the most perfect to roast chicken several years ago and would never want to make roast chicken any other way, I couldn’t stop coming back to Andrew Carmellini’s Marinated Chicken Alla Griglia in Urban Italian. I really liked the idea of marinating the chicken in a roasted garlic puree, various herbs, and a dash of dried red pepper flakes for some added kick. And despite the amount of time needed to marinate the chicken, the recipe didn’t really seem too complicated or time-consuming. For sides I took Andrew Carmellini up on his suggestion and served the chicken with Zucchini Bagna Calda and Potatoes Girarrosto-Style.

When everything came together, I had one of the best meals I have made in quite a while. After marinating for only five hours, the chicken was juicy and flavorful. The skin was crisp and I really loved the mix of garlic and herbs with a bit of tang from the rice vinegar and spice from the red pepper flakes. I may have found a new favorite roast chicken.

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An Addition to the Core Routine

Four days a week, I hit the gym after work to do some light strength training and stretching. Tuesdays and Thursdays I focus on my lower body while Mondays and Tuesdays are a bit easier with just some general strength work. The one constant is finishing each gym session with some serious core work.

Last week, I saw this video of a great core exercise done by two lady marathoners who will be representing the U.S. in the Summer Olympics in London (starts on Friday!) The series of movements while planking on a swiss ball doesn’t seem too complicated or hard but I tried it and it was tough! Some days I need a break midway through all the moves, but if I’m lucky, on good days I can do it straight through and even come back for an encore. Although this simple exercise hurts so good, I’m glad to be able to incorporate it into my core routine. Check it out!

Rigatoni with Sausage, Onion, and Fennel

If you Google Ziti with Sausage, Onion, and Fennel you would probably find dozens of recipes for this dish, none of them exactly the same. My version of this dish started with a recipe I came across in the Washington Post way back in 2006 published for the Season 6 premier of a little show called the Sopranos. The recipe in the Post was adapted from the Silver Spoon and over the years I adapted that recipe to my own taste (i.e. more spice). This simple pasta dish has become a staple weekday dinner for me, especially when I am super busy at work. It took me awhile but now I can make this meal in under 30 minutes. I’ve also been known to whip it up on the fly when traveling and without access to my myriad of recipes.

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Seafood Risotto

I first made this seafood risotto several years ago for my friend Shelley. Her then boyfriend (now husband) Tom was in town and I had the two of them over for dinner. Despite the fact that Shelley is a vegetarian, I decided to roast a large piece of meat. Being that I am not a complete monster, I found this simple seafood risotto from Cooking Light that I thought Shelley would enjoy. Plus it was easy enough to make while the roast did its thing in the oven. Needless to say, the side entrée outshone the roast that was supposed to be the centerpiece of the meal. I can’t even remember what meaty animal I served that evening, but I do remember the creaminess and comfort of the risotto, with bites of shrimp, scallops, and tomatoes.

These days, I make the risotto a few times a year, mostly on Fridays because it does not reheat well for lunch the next day and also because it is great fuel for my Saturday long runs. The key to this risotto is the use of clam juice which adds a rich seafood taste to the cooking broth. The mere two tablespoons of cream (or half and half) makes the risotto seem more decadent than it is. The original recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of butter but I normally use olive oil instead to make the dish more responsible. This recipe serves two, but can be doubled if you’d like. If you want to increase the ratio of seafood to rice, you will also have to decrease the amount of chicken broth or else the risotto will turn out too runny.

Malaysian-style Chicken With Garlic and Lemongrass

Whoa! What the heck happened? There I was blogging along, documenting a life of running, eating, drinking, and sleeping and then life took over and blogging came to a halt. I guess taking the running, eating, and drinking to a new level cuts into the sleeping and the blogging.

I was reminded earlier this week by Major Janine Garner in the middle of a five mile tempo that she and others are waiting for updates on the old blog. As I huffed and puffed through the run, I promised her that REDS would indeed return, and with a vengeance.

I made this Malaysian-style Chicken with Garlic and Lemongrass way back in March(!). Every now and again, I feel the weight of all the feasting and search for healthy meal ideas, preferably those that do not involve giving up a lot of flavor. Instead of pork shoulder, short ribs, and beef, it’s fish, chicken, and vegetables. During a recent streak of health conscious eating, I dug into my e-mail archives and found a recipe sent to me by Tasting Table for chicken thighs packed with tons of flavors including tons of ginger, garlic, and lemongrass. The recipe requires a bit of advanced prep work but was completely worth it.

I put together the marinade in the morning and let the chicken marinate in the fridge while I went to work. When I got home later that evening I made some rice and went to work searing the chicken and putting it in the oven. The chicken turned out delicious and I figured it would also be great grilled if/when the weather cooperates.

Malaysian-style Chicken with Garlic and Lemongrass (adapted from Tasting Table)


½ cup canola oil
4 stalks lemongrass, tough outer layer removed and stalk finely chopped
16 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
Four-inch piece fresh ginger, scraped and finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 tablespoons sambal chile paste
¼ cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Juice of ½ lime
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

Four 6-ounce bone-in skin-on chicken breasts
kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper


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Twice-Cooked Five-Spice Lamb with Red Chile & Day Drinking

Back in the days of braising weather, the routine would be that I did the meat braising before Emily arrived an hour or so before serving time. Then Emily prepped and made the side dish, while I made drinks for us to sip on while cooking. For the evening of lamb shanks 2.0, Emily came over to braise with me which left us about two hours with nothing to do while the lamb simmered away. Together with roommate Alex we decided to grab a few drinks at The Passenger, Alex and my favorite bar of all time and, conveniently enough, the bar that is closest to our apartment. We set the stove top to low, prayed that the apartment wouldn’t blow up while we were away, and made the early evening trek to the Passenger.

I took advantage of the light crowd and the early drinking hour and ordered a Corpse Reviver #2, a tart gin based drink with equal parts cointreau, lillet blanc, lemon juice and a dash of absinthe. After the first round of drinks, the three of us felt a little hungry so we asked for an order of beef jerky with our second round. I love gin and all but my heart belongs to whiskey so I asked for a manhattan made with Jefferson’s Rye. Beef jerky and a manhattan, a pairing after my own heart.

After two rounds, we called it quits and headed back to the apartment to finish making our meal. We were happy to find the apartment just as we left it, except it smelled even more aromatic from the braising lamb shanks. Alex and Emily got to work making stir-fried baby bok choy with shitake mushrooms while I made fried rice to soak up the sauce of the lamb shanks. Soon enough, we were ready to plow into our meals. Our efforts, both sober and not as sober, produced one of the best Sunday dinners of 2012 to date.

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Cod with Tomato and Mushroom Wine Sauce

Several Fridays ago, I had resigned myself to a fairly low key evening. It was the Friday before the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler and I wanted to rest up for the big race. That week, I had come across a recipe in the Washington Post’s food section for Cod with Tomato and Mushroom Wine Sauce that really caught my eye. As it was still Lent at the time, I was super excited to find a meatless and healthy meal that was tasty to boot. I e-mailed roommate Alex to let her know I would be making this for dinner in case she wanted to partake as well and she suggested I serve the fish with some quinoa we had in the apartment. What started out as a healthy Friday dinner turned into a very healthy Friday dinner.

I have always enjoyed a good mushroom and wine sauce, and there is even one I pair with chicken thighs. The addition of tomatoes gave the sauce more depth and texture. As for the fish, the mildness of the cod really lent itself well to the tomato and mushroom wine sauce. The sauce didn’t overwhelm the fish and vice versa. With many ingredients, the dish might sound complicated but overall was really easy to put together.  To complete a funfilled Friday night, Emily stopped by after getting her bangs trimmed and ended up staying for dinner. Along with roommate Alex, we opened a bottle of wine, ate dinner, and settled onto the couch to watch Crazy, Stupid Love a not completely terrible romcom.

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