The Feeling

I spent the majority of the end of 2013 running.

I set the lofty goal of running my third half marathon after nearly giving up my running habit.

I started seriously running again one day in October of 2013, realizing how much I’d lost in speed. But also how much I’d gained in so many other aspects of my life.

Weekends were spent juggling work and school and then going out for a long run–the solitude and distance often making me feel as though I might go crazy.

In December I visited home and continued my running up the ridiculously steep hills of northeast Tennessee. The temperatures were often less than desirable, but there was the thrill of running in a new place.

And then the day came in January. I drove to Phoenix and ran my third half marathon, somehow slashing my projected time by 30 minutes.

I didn’t PR and that wasn’t even my expectation. I simply crossed the finish line with The Feeling.

The Feeling? In high school, I was in colorguard and winterguard. For the 97% of you that have no idea what that means, we were the girls (and occasional boys) that spun flags, rifles, and sabers during the marching band show in the fall. In the spring season we also performed our own show at various competitions.

During my freshman year of high school marching band, we kicked ass. We placed first and best in show in nearly every competition. For the first time ever, we were invited to go to USSBA National Championships in Maryland. We fundraised thousands of dollars in the span of two weeks, performing shows, appearing in the newspaper, and on our local news channel.

Side Note: The quality of this video is lacking, but it’s from 2006.

I remember walking out onto the field that day. We were in the Baltimore Ravens stadium (huge was an incredible understatement compared to our high school football field). Thousand of adoring band parents, friends, and marching band junkies sat in the seats cheering us on. We played and spun our hearts out, and a feeling of absolute bliss and perfection came over me. It was as though I was filled with thousands of butterflies, all taking flight. I had goose bumps over my entire body as I moved through the familiar motions. The adrenaline coursed through my veins and I felt like I was flying.

I remember thinking there is nothing better than this moment.

Two years later, I went to WGI World Championships with my winterguard. The vibe was different because winterguard is an indoor sport, unlike colorguard. But the same feeling filled my body as I did my solo, all eyes on me.

In case you’re interested, I’m on the left most side in the very beginning and the first one out with the flag around 1:30.

That is how I felt when I crossed that finish line nearly two weeks ago. It didn’t matter that I didn’t PR. It didn’t matter that I added almost 30 minutes to my fastest time. It didn’t matter that I was hot and sweaty and had terrible chafing (too much?).

I felt The Feeling once again, and that was all that mattered.

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Chocolate Pecan Pie

It is hard to believe that 2013 is coming to a close.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

It has been a challenging, exciting, crazy, tiring, adventurous year for me (as is probably evident by the LACK of posting on the blog).

There was that one time I went to Italy and ate pasta because it’s Italy. Then I went Barcelona and ate paella because it is the food of the gods. Then I went to London and ate nothing because, let’s be honest, it’s London. Then I went Amsterdam and ate Argentinean food, because everyone thinks of Argentina when they think of Amsterdam, obviously.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

I went to Las Vegas and saw The Killers and Imagine Dragons. Mind blown (and mind subsequently left in Vegas).

I cliff jumped, lifted weights, and forgot to floss.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

I played pool with my best friend, had the most perfect day ever eating tapas in Spain, and learned to crochet.

I laughed and laughed and laughed.

But…

Chocolate Pecan Pie

I also got a job and began working like a crazy person.

I sacrificed my time for certain things and missed out on opportunities.

I cried.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Friendships suffered, some ended, but others began.

And you know what?

I made it out alive with only a few scratches, gorgeous red lipstick, and some killer nude platform pumps.

I don’t quite know what my plan is for 2014. Frankly, I don’t even know what my plan is for next week. But, I’m looking forward to whatever the future may bring. Happy New Year All!

Chocolate Pecan Pie

As a side note: The blog content might change a bit to reflect my changing mind, so hopefully that won’t bother anyone too much. I still plan to post recipes, but I hope to add more non-food related content. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

One Year Ago: Caesar Salad

Two Years Ago: Dark Chocolate Saltine Crack(er) Toffee and Yellow Split Pea Sweet Potato Soup

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Makes 1 pie (8 servings)

This pie is perfect for chocolate and nut lovers. Pecan pie is one of my favorite classic pies and the chocolate takes it over the top. If you’re feeling really crazy, pour in a little bourbon. I used a store bought pie shell because I didn’t have time to make a crust. If you have the time, you should try to make a homemade crust! Share with friends, or not. 

Ingredients

3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup corn syrup (I used light, the original recipe calls for dark)
3 tablespoons bourbon liquor (optional)
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
3/4 cup dark chocolate morsels (or milk, if you prefer)
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell (either store bought or homemade)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, beat the three eggs until combined. Mix in the sugar, flour, vanilla, corn syrup, and bourbon (if using). Add butter slowly, mixing while incorporating into the pie mixture (to avoid cooking the eggs). Add pecans and chocolate.
2. Pour mixture into unbaked pie shell. Place on a sheet tray and bake for 50 to 60 minutes until golden brown and fragrant.

Storage Store in plastic wrap or cake stand at room temperature for 5 days. I did not freeze my pie; however, I’m assuming that it would freeze well for up to one month in an airtight containter. If you try it, let me know.

Recipe adapted from The Food Network

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Chocolate Pecan Pie Cookies

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I. Cannot. Believe. This. Pie. Is. Vegan.

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This is an excellent summer classic. Plus, if you buy a pre-made crust, there is not baking required!

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Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

I’d like to tell you about one of my favorite toys. I should mention that it shouldn’t matter that I’m in my 20s and that I still have favorite toys.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

When I was a tiny tot, no more than ten years old, I came down with strep throat.

My mom took me to Toys-R-Us (which was a treat since I felt awful and could only eat ice cubes) and bought me an Easy Bake Oven.

I was enchanted.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

It seemed like the coolest toy known to… well, me.

Soon I was “baking” up a storm. I’d make vanilla cake and chocolate cake and cookies too! I’d made it to Iron Chef status (in my mind).

Over the years my Easy Bake Oven was stowed away with all the Legos and Barbies, but my love for cooking never waned.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Recently, on a trip to Toys-R-Us (which in short is a completely ridiculous story of me trying to dress a stuffed polar bear with massive paws in baby clothes while expectant mothers gawked), I saw the section of Easy Bake Ovens filled to the brim with cake mixes and icings and all sorts of treats for the youngest of bakers.

And let me tell you, my Easy Bake circa 1998 is the Ford Pinto to these Cadillacs of 2013. And the cake and dessert mixes now actually look, dare I say, delicious.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

I did NOT make these muffins in an Easy Bake Oven (in case you were curious), but seeing the display in the store reminded me of how far I’ve come with baking. I’ve made mousses and cakes and pies and cookies and yeast breads. And, at the same time, I’ve failed hard (gluten-free/vegan chocolate loaf… UGH).

These muffins, though, are another one of those successes. They are insanely easy and delightful. I prepared the batter in minutes and was eating muffins in a half hour. At 11 P.M. Although that has nothing to do with this story.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Last Year: Thousand Seed Banana Fig Muffins and Crock Pot Applesauce

Two Years Ago: Roasted Portobello Mushroom Burgers and Apple Cinnamon Muffins with Flaxseed and Walnuts

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

These muffins are moist and sweet. They have the slightest tartness from the lemon and a tiny crunch from the plentiful poppyseeds. If you’re a fan of lemon poppyseed muffins, I definitely recommend them! Also, I did not make a glaze with these muffins, but feel free to make one if you’d like!

**The original recipe called for sour cream, I used lemon flavored greek yogurt. Either way, you’re more than welcome to use sour cream or try using greek yogurt like in my muffins.**

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon (about 2-3 tablespoons)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup greek yogurt**
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds (or less or more depending on preference)

Method

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups.

2. In a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of lemon strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the greek yogurt (or sour cream), eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and melted butter together until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough – a few lumps are better than over mixing the batter. Stir in the poppy seeds. Divide the batter evenly among the muffins cups.

3. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

Storage Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to one month.

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

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Looking for more Cooking College Chick? Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest! You can also subscribe on the upper right hand bar to receive email updates! Happy Cooking!!!