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Pinning and Planning – March 2 {Dinner Menu}

Mardi Gras is in the air!  That means our dinner menu will be full of tasty Mardi Gras meals.  Since hubby is traveling out of town again this week, I plan to keep the Mardi Gras festivities and foods easy and simple.

 Pinning and Planning – March 2 {Dinner Menu}

Allan will make a huge pot of gumbo that will last us all week. I may even need to freeze some of it.  Instead of the usual maple syrup cornbread that we serve with the gumbo, I’m serving a King Cake for a different sweet for the heat. It’s something special we do once a year for the kids and they love finding the little plastic baby inside the cake.  I found all these fun, simple King Cake recipes on Pinterest, but Betty Crocker’s Quick King Cake sounds like a winner to me.

Tuesday Day is Fat Tuesday also known as Pancake Day in our house.   Can you guess what will be on the menu morning and night on Tuesday?

 Pinning and Planning – March 2 {Dinner Menu}

In addition to all the fun NOLA foods on the menu this week, we’ll also make something with mushrooms because my oldest daughter, Allana has been craving them lately.  A mushroom craving typically means a lack of potassium, iron, selenium or Vitamin D. Since Allana eats a lot of yogurt and drinks plenty of milk, I’m sure it’s not a lack of Vitamin D, however, she doesn’t like bananas. She hates them. Hopefully, a bit of mushroom stroganoff on the menu for Meatless Monday will fix that vitamin deficiency and craving real fast.

Here’s our dinner menu for the week:

S – Chicken AndouilleSausage Gumbo and King Cake for dessert

Meatless Monday – Mushroom Stroganoff

Fat Tuesday/Pancake Day – Iron Chef Allan’s Perfect Pancakes

W – Perfect Shrimp Po’ Boys

Th – Pasta with Asparagus

F – Pizza

What’s on your dinner menu this week?   Are you serving up anything special for Mardi Gras? What recipes are you pinning and planning?

PinningPlanning RunDMT Pinning and Planning – March 2 {Dinner Menu}


Chicken Sausage Gumbo

HorrorFFF 1 Chicken Sausage GumboYou know you’re a foodie when you plan themed meals around holidays, observances and any and all ethnic festivals.  This past weekend was no exception.  Some celebrate Fat Tuesday.  Others flip over Pancake Day.  In this house, we do both.

It’s fun to throw some new meals in the mix and for Fat Tuesday (which we celebrated on Presidents’ Day), I wanted some true New Orleans style gumbo.  So, of course I turned to Pinterest and shared its wonderful world with Iron Chef Allan.  Better than a Google search, within seconds I had hundreds of visually appealing recipes.

gumbo1 Chicken Sausage Gumbo

As we read the different versions, we both agreed that Kaela of Local Kitchen’s Chicken Sausage Gumbo looked and sounded best.

local kitchen gumbo1 Chicken Sausage Gumbo

However, making a roux was definitely out of my cooking comfort zone, but I knew Iron Chef Allan could handle the challenge.  Boy, did my man ever deliver!

In her recipe write-up, Kaela explains the importance of okra in the recipe if not for anything but authenticity, however, Iron Chef Allan is not an okra lover.  And really, is anyone?   Although I was willing to give okra infused gumbo a go, Allan was not and since he was preparing the dish, the okra got eighty-sixed.

But sometimes you don’t miss what you don’t know, because my man made some crazy good gumbo!   This had to be the best tasting gumbo outside of New Orleans, even if he did omit the okra.

And of course to wash it down, only an Abita beer would do.  The sweetness of an Abita’s Purple Haze is the perfect complement to this savory and oh so spicy dish.

 Chicken Sausage Gumbo

For dessert, we had king cake which was store-bought.  (Hey, only one new recipe challenge at a time!) Next time, maybe I’ll try my hand at this interesting bread machine king cake recipe.

On second thought, being President’s Day and all, cherry pie may have been a better choice for dessert.  Nah, the king cake was a perfect finish to our NOLA meal.  I cannot tell a lie.

Do you like to plan themed meals that revolve around holidays, observances or ethnic celebrations?

Thanks for joining our weekly Friday Food Fight! Can’t wait to see what everyone is flinging this week!

 Chicken Sausage Gumbo

 Chicken Sausage Gumbo

Chicken & Sausage Gumbo

(adapted from Local Kitchen)


1 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken meat, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 lb Andouille sausage

2 Tbsp canola oil

For the roux

1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1/3 cup vegetable oil

4 cups chicken stock

1 large onion, diced

3 ribs celery, with leaves if possible, sliced

2 bell peppers, any color, diced

1-bunch scallions, white & light green parts sliced

6 – 8 cloves, peeled & minced

1 red jalapeno, with seeds & ribs, minced

½ lb okra, sliced

3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

2 tsp Cajun seasoning (a mix of paprika, salt, celery, sugar, garlic, black pepper, onion, oregano, red pepper, caraway, dill, turmeric, cumin, bay, mace, cardamom, basil, marjoram, rosemary, and thyme)

1 tsp sea salt

½ tsp cayenne pepper

½ tsp celery salt

½ tsp dried basil

½ tsp dried oregano

¼ tsp dried thyme

1 dried bay leaf

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Brown meat. In a large skillet, brown the sausages over medium-high heat in canola oil. Remove sausage to a clean plate. Liberally sprinkle chicken pieces with salt, pepper and Cajun spice. Brown lightly in the sausage grease (add oil if needed), without crowding the pan; cook in batches if necessary. Do not cook all the way through; remove to the sausage plate when lightly browned on the outside. Strain sausage grease into a clean bowl.

Make roux. In a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, cook the flour and canola oil (using any leftover sausage grease as part of the oil) over medium to medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until roux becomes smooth, silky and a deep chocolate brown, about 30 minutes (or longer at lower heat). Monitor the roux carefully as you stir: if you smell the flour burning, lower the heat; if you see black flecks in the roux, it is burnt, throw it out and start over. When the roux reaches the right color, add the onion, bell pepper and celery to the roux, turn off the heat, and keep stirring until the roux cools down.

Assemble and cook the gumbo.  Add stock, meat (with any juices accumulated on the plate), white & pale green scallions, garlic, jalapeno and spices to the roux and vegetables.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered for about 45 minutes.  Add the okra and cook for another 30 minutes, partially covered.  Add fresh parsley (add any seafood now if using).  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Remove cover and simmer an additional 15 minutes or longer to thicken the sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings one more time.

Serve hot over rice.  Garnish with parsley and sliced scallions.

Serves 12.

*Also shared at*

finer things friday Chicken Sausage Gumbo171206 Chicken Sausage Gumbofriday food150 Chicken Sausage GumboFoodie Friday Chicken Sausage Gumbo6746499035 5d041655e4 Chicken Sausage Gumbo6265501356 0ebaa16968 m Chicken Sausage Gumbo

pinterest 500x150 Chicken Sausage Gumbo

Perfect Pancakes

HorrorFFF 1 Perfect PancakesAlthough Tuesday was Pancake Day (Fat Tuesday), I decided to share my pancake pictures for our Friday Food Fight.


Iron Chef Allan makes perfect golden brown pancakes every time.  They’re light and fluffy, not dense and thick like the kind from a pancake mix, which happens to be the fancy concrete pancakes I made for my girls’ classes on Tuesday.


 Perfect Pancakes


But, I smothered those lead weights with enough syrup or powder sugar and lemon juice (a British Pancake Day tradition) so no one was the wiser.  I think.


 Perfect Pancakes


Over the years, Allan has mastered and fine-tuned his pancake recipe.  His pancakes are so perfect that it has ruined us from enjoying in any restaurant even when they are free.


We flip over Iron Chef Allan’s perfect pancakes every time.


 Perfect Pancakes


Iron Chef Allan’s Perfect Pancake Recipe


1 ½ cups King Arthur White or White Wheat Flour (180 g)

3 Tbsp Sugar

2 tsp Baking powder

¼ tsp Baking soda

1 tsp Salt

2 eggs

½ cup Sour cream (secret ingredient to prevent stiffening)

1 cup Milk (skim or 2%)

3 Tbsp Melted butter or canola oil

1 tsp Vanilla



Set griddle to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients.  Then, in a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients.  Combine wet and dry ingredients in the large bowl with as few stirs as possible.  Let batter rest for 5 minutes.  Pour ¼ cup of batter onto a lightly greased griddle.  Flip when batter is bubbly and still wet.  Cook for approximately one minute more.  Serve with maple syrup.


Now link up and see what If I Could Escape and Gone Bananas are serving for this week’s Friday Food Fight.


 Perfect Pancakes


*Also submitted at*

finer things friday Perfect Pancakesfoodrenegadefist 150 Perfect Pancakes5263950032 675bc25ce0 m Perfect Pancakes

Random Thoughts about Races, Pounds and Pounding Down the Pancakes

Today is Pancake Day, also known as Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday, and my family celebrates the occasion by eating stacks of pancakes all day long.


For years now, I’ve visited the girls’ classes to cook pancakes and afterwards, we read and write pancake stories and partake in other pancake related activities.


But this week, I’m eating pancakes twice and I fear I may resemble a round golden brown shape and not the silver dollar kind, either.  After the Pasco Challenge on Saturday, the local IHOP is serving pancakes to all the participants and their families, which makes running 13.1 miles totally worth the effort.


On the subject of breakfast foods, I keep forgetting to eat breakfast in the morning, which is such a bad habit.  Don’t you hate it when people say they “forget to eat”?  As much as I love food, it’s hard to believe that I would ever miss a meal, but I get caught up in other things in the morning instead of sitting down to eat something.  I know that’s the worst thing to do when trying to lose weight and yet, for the past week, I keep skipping breakfast.  Then at lunch time, I’m starving and lightheaded from not eating which is the WORST.  But today is a new day and I PROMISE to eat breakfast today.  But then, it will be easy to remember to eat today because after all, it’s PANCAKE DAY!


Eating or not eating, I lost 4 pounds last week.  Thanks to the Gasparilla Half Marathon, I’m sure.  I doubt this week’s loss will be as monumental with all the pancakes I’ll be putting away.


As for my attempt to complete four half marathons, I’ve decided to stick my tongue at my friend, John with just 3 half marathon which is 39.3 and close enough to 40 miles.  But like my friend, Chrissy, said, I can always add in a couple 5K races which will put me over 40 miles before my 40th birthday.


After researching how to train for multiple half marathons, the internet running experts advised against it.  With each half marathon, I need at least a week to recover from the race.  With races back to back, like a half marathon March 12 and another on March 20, I would spend the week between races resting instead of easing back into running and while resting, I would be missing out on good work-outs.  That is EXACTLY what happened last week!  I only ran once and it is only 3 miles and not a very good 3 mile run at that.  Lots of walking.


3 Miles

Time 37:55

Ave Pace 12:13

Max Pace 9:30


And now, because I have another half marathon this Saturday, I am supposed to rest before the race which means another week of little to no running followed by another rest week post-race.  So the experts seem to be correct.  With races back to back, I am missing out of days of good runs due to resting pre-race and post race.


Therefore, I’ve decided to not run in the Florida Beach Halfathon, as much as I really wanted to because the course looks spectacular.  Instead, I’ll be getting back into a regular running routine again to train for the Iron Girl Half and I’ll be saving $70 in the meantime.  And I’m o.k. with that.  After all, I need beer money for St. Patrick’s Day next week.


Proudly submitted at The Un Mom’s Random Tuesday Thoughts, because when I blog about my runs, it’s usually pretty random.


 Random Thoughts about Races, Pounds and Pounding Down the Pancakes


The Sweetness of Pancake Day

I first flipped over Pancake Day (Shrove Thuesday) as a student teacher interning in England when my housemates shared this tasty tradition with me. Although English pancakes are more flat like crêpes and topped with lemon juice and sugar, it didn’t prevent me from partaking in the feast.


When I met my Scottish hubbie, it only seemed natural to continue with the Pancake Day fun year after year.  However, we modified the British tradition slightly with American-style pancakes and syrup.


During my teaching career, I shared Pancake Day with my students.  I stuffed them with fluffy flapjacks as they wrote flavorful essays to demonstrate their knowledge and enthusiasm of the day.


When I became a mom, I hosted Pancake Day play dates for our mommy friends and their children. After moving to our new neighborhood in 2006, we introduced Pancake Day to our Moms on the Go friends the following year and of course, they flipped over the fun too.  We read stories while eating pancakes and even held pancake relays in the true spirit of the day.


Now, every year my children look forward to eating pancakes all day long with their friends on Pancake Day.


But, I simply savor every sweet morsel and memory this day has always served.


pancakeday2007 The Sweetness of Pancake Day


sevenclownbutton The Sweetness of Pancake Day


poodle4 The Sweetness of Pancake Day


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