Friday Food : Quick and Easy Pasta Carbonara

This is by far one of my favorite recipes. Honestly, it SHOCKS me I haven’t shared it yet. It’s super quick to make and I can change it up to give it a little variety. In the past, I’ve added different veggies, included chicken or tuna, made it with or without the bacon, sometimes using different shapes of pasta (today I used 1/2 boxes of two kinds of leftover pasta), and today I also made it without the milk and cheese.  Instead I included a little SPICE (red pepper flakes). Find your own combination of sweet and spicy, creamy or thick and make sure you watch your portions!

Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara

What you need:

  • 6 oz turkey bacon
  • 1 box (14.5 oz whole wheat pasta)
  • 32 oz chicken stock
  • 10 oz frozen green peas
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • optional: red pepper flakes, grated Parmesan cheese, an additional cup or so of milk, cream or evaporated milk

Directions:

Prepare bacon according to package. When cooled enough cut/dice into small pieces

In a large skillet over medium heat, combine the pasta and chicken stock. Cover and allow to simmer for 12-15 minutes

Add peas, cream cheese and bacon. Also add any desired spices, milk or Parmesan cheese. Stir and allow everything to blend

Makes approximately (12) 1-cup servings. 

Race Report : Spring TRAINing 5 Miler

Over the weekend I took part in the 2014 Western Reserve Racing, Spring TRAINing 5 miler. There was also a 10 mile option. From what I found online this event has existed in some form for at least a year or two prior to 2014.  However this was the first year it was organized by WRR. One of the key aspects of this event is how runners are attempting to “beat the train”. We all began in Howe Meadow of the Cuyhaoga Valley National Park (CVNP). From there we ran along the local Towpath (a “trail” which is a mix of gravel and limestone and generally flat. A favorite of cyclists and families in the warmer months.

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Runners trying to “beat the train”. Photo taken from the train on the way back.

After 5 miles we reached Lock 29 (locks were the things for boats back in the day to help them travel along the canal). At Lock 29 there is a collection of restaurants and local parking. The race began at 10:10 SHARP and the train was set to arrive at Lock 29 at 11:00. If you could finish in under 50 minutes, you beat the train!!! And were handsomely rewarded with a special medal. All registered runners received a coffee mug and the first 300 registered also received a green or orange cinch sack. 10 mile runners turned around at Lock 29 and ran back for a second attempt at “winning”. Guess what though? They had to keep like an 8 minute pace to “win”. IMPRESSIVE!

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Runners at Lock 29. Waiting for a comfortable ride back to their cars.

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For my personal experience: I hesitated to sign up because of the winter we’re still having this spring, but a few friends finally convinced me (along with a discount code) so I jumped in with both feet. Or something. I decided I could use the mileage and opted for the 10 mile distance. The day before the race I went to packet pick up, which was super quick and easy and I LOVE early pick up because then I leave my bib in the car and if (when) I’m running late it’s one less thing to worry about in the morning. Race morning itself arrived and I was greeted by texts from friends saying it was “too cold” and they were skipping. Disappointed I grabbed some hashbrown-egg casserole breakfast and plopped down on the couch.

It wasn’t long though before I reminded myself of all the months I HAD to sit out, all the months I CRIED over sitting out. Now I was willingly sitting out, because it was a little cold? NO! I rushed and readied myself and headed out the door. The race offered a special “early start” for slow runners and walkers. If I was going solo I was certainly going to be slow and steady. The slowbies started at 9:40, I was parking at 9:40. Ooops. Off across the field and down the road I ran to catch up. I fell into pace with a wonderful woman named Amanda and we shared our adventure. She tore her meniscus about 7 months earlier, I sympathized based on my previous injury. We kept a reasonable pace (13 minute miles) and I must admit it was nice to just get away from daily stress and run. To see the snow covered Towpath and nature and listen to the birds.

Compliments of Steve Pierce Photography. http://stevepiercephotography.zenfolio.com/

Amanda and I are in the back near the bridge, behind the guy in blue shorts. Photo compliments of Steve Pierce Photography. http://stevepiercephotography.zenfolio.com/

The first 2 miles were solid, then we took about 30 seconds (if that) breaks at each mile and the two water stops. Despite knowing we would never beat the train, it was pulling into the station (about 10 minutes early) as we were arriving. I took off sprinting down the final hill and toward the mats. Hey, who says I can’t get caught up in the spirit anyway?

When all was said and done I wasn’t feeling very well. Maybe it was my breakfast? Maybe it was something else? At any rate I wasn’t about to walk back 5 miles feeling cold and with massive stomach issues. I checked myself out after the 5 miles and rode the train back to Howe Meadow.

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Overall this was a really great event. The course was nice, the theme was unique and a coffee cup was a lot more useful than another shirt. Results were sent THE SAME DAY and when I didn’t see my name, someone was in touch with me within a few hours and it was resolved before I could finish my Sunday TV shows queue.

My suggestions/comments? 1) I know it’s hard to control, but the train arrive about 10 minutes too early. It can be hard enough to be a 10 minute pace, but beating an 8 minute pace is even more difficult. More people should believe they have a chance to “beat the train”. 2) Offer two types of medals (maybe this isn’t cost effective though). Especially with the 10 mile option offer two. One for “I beat the train” and one for “10 mile finisher”. I think more people will be drawn to do the longer distance if you give a little more bling. If you can afford it, do the same for the 5 milers. 3) Ask the photographer to be careful to get everyone in a picture? I found a series where Amanda and I are in the back of a pack. The next 3-4 pictures are of a guy in blue shorts. The people before us had their own shots, the people behind us did, but there are no shots up close of the two of us. I was very heartbroken by this since clearly there was the ability to capture us in at least 1 nice picture.

I have no comments about the “after party” since I did not attend, but I heard great things about it. From what I understand there was pasta and pizza and frozen yogurt! Yum! Well maybe not in the snow (haha). Thanks for a good event guys, I’m planning to be back next year.

Adventures in Owning a Car

This past week has been a total headache when it comes to my car. Last Monday, as I was headed back from Columbus after my work meeting, my check engine light came on (again). I may have mentioned back when I went to Kentucky for the weekend how it came on then too (ya know 2 weeks after the deer tried to total my car?) and it seemed to be solved with replacing my gas cap? Well, I became concerned maybe it only comes on after long distance driving (I went to and came back from Columbus on the same day, the week before it was broken up by a few days). So instead of meeting my friends at the Y I headed into the dealership for a service quote.

Stock image of my SUV

Stock image of my SUV

While there I learned the issue was with my transmission, but details were unknown and the guy who did the transmission work only worked M-F until 5 PM. Of course. Soooo we plotted and rearranged stuff (we being me) and I showed up on Thursday to drop her off, pick up a rental and head home. They’d work on mine Friday then I’d head back Friday after work to pick it up. Simple, right?

Until Monday night when my car alarm started going off for NO REASON. It went off from 130 AM until 230 AM. needless to say I learned you could shut things off through my bedroom window and I also did not actually sleep the rest of the morning/night. Ugg. The next day I was almost functional at work, before heading back to the dealership to accuse them of doing something wrong. They replaced a rubber piece in my hood for less than $2 and said a sensor wasn’t connecting.

Some of you may be asking why I didn’t go out and mess with the fuse or battery. GREAT QUESTION. That’s because about 2 weeks ago a girl about my age was murdered a street away from me. I can see the backyard from my front porch. The crime was still unsolved at this point in time so there was no way in hell I was going outside alone to be distracted by my car. I’d rather be alive and sleepy thank you very much. Of course I eventually realized I could call the police for non-emergency escort or something, but by that time it finally stopped.

Which brings us to Friday. I was headed to my early afternoon meeting (I skipped lunch because I was supposed to be home very early by going to this meeting). On my way there I received THE PHONE CALL. Essentially my transmission needed to be replaced, also my tired were bad, brakes were bad and whole laundry list of other items. Really? Are you kidding me?

I couldn’t quite negotiate over the phone and since the precious transmission guy was only there until 5 I headed to the dealership and took some personal time. I spent the next 5 years test driving cars and crunching numbers to decide if it would be better to buy a new car or fix mine. It was going to be well over $4000 to fix everything. The thing isn’t worth that anymore.

Well, luckily my car was still safe to drive, and they didn’t have anything in stock I wanted so I headed home. Now the issue with the transmission isn’t a functional problem, I could drive it the rest of its life with this issue. HOWEVER. It will cause the check engine light to come on and you won’t pass ECheck in Ohio if it is on, which I’m due for this year in July. THIS is why I was thinking of simply buying another car.

I called one of my best friends who told me her car did the same thing and the trick she learned about maintaining it. I Googled her suggestion and found out with the new test procedures it wouldn’t work. I decided to try anyway. On Saturday, after my gym routines, I headed to ECheck. The woman in front of me actually received a little lecture for doing what my friend suggested I do. Busted. Somehow luck was on my side though, and I PASSED. I FREAKING PASSED. Which means I’m good for another 2 years! I don’t have to replace my transmission OR get a new car! I then headed over to get new tires, where I negotiated like a pro and ended up saving nearly $300 from the dealer’s quote and saved $100 off this place’s original quote.

Next week it is the brakes, then we will save and work on things like my coolant flush and tune up. I just hit 120,000 miles baby! I don’t mind paying for routine maintenance. It comes with the territory.

What really upset me is how this all looks like the dealer was screwing me over. I’ve gone there for over 6 years. They have NEVER told me there was an issue when there wasn’t. And any repair quote they have given me (I called around) was on par with local pricing. It truly upsets me this happened. I don’t know if they’re under new mangament or something, but it’s really sad they would either 1) LIE or 2) hike up their prices that much!

Anyway…that’s been my week. Very stressful, but a very happy ending. So….thanks for letting me share. How’s your week been? Do you ever get stressed over your cars? Is your car your baby?

Ps. I wrote this in one sitting, so please forgive any typos…off to work! XOXO