Archive for November, 2010

November 24th, 2010

Dark Chocolate Candy Cane Fudge

Like it or not the holidays are upon us! Only 5.5 weeks left ’til Christmas my friends!

This year, not surprisingly, I’ve decided to bake. But unlike other years, I’ve started early! I realized how few weeks were left and pretty soon they’ll start getting filled up with holiday affairs and I’d find myself scrambling to get everything done so I actually started early!

Last weekend I decided to make one of my more famous goodies: FUDGE! My fudge isn’t the creamy kind of fudge, it’s the crazy sugary don’t-feed-to-children type fudge. My Dad says it’s “old fashioned” fudge.

Yup, I have to admit that Christmas is the time when any sugar morals go out the window. I can’t help it. There is nothing nutritionally redeeming about this recipe! But everything in moderation, especially sugar and I have trained myself to keep out of the goodies when they’re packed into containers because then I know it’s for other people and that means hands off!

This year I decided to try something different with my fudge and it worked out perfectly! AND, for the first time EVER, I’m sharing my recipe with you because, well, I love ya’s!


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Dark Chocolate Candy Cane Fudge

  • 1c of salted butter
  • 3/4c evaporated milk
  • 2oz dark chocolate squares
  • 3c yellow brown sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 3c icing sugar
  • 6 candy canes, crushed

9×13 baking dish, lined with parchment paper

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Step 1: Add butter, milk, chocolate and brown sugar to a sauce pot and turn heat onto medium. Stir occasionally to make sure everything melts and doesn’t burn.


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Step 2: While your mixture is melting on the stove, unwrap the plastic on the candy canes and wrap the canes in some parchment paper, making sure the ends are tucked under. Take a rolling pin and beat the ever livin’ begeezus out of the candy canes. They don’t have to be beaten until it’s all powdered, have a mix of powder and tiny chunks of candy cane for texture. Set aside.


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Step 3: Once mixture is at a frothy, roiling boil wait for six minutes (don’t ask me why, just do it) then add the vanilla and slowly add the icing sugar, about 1/4c at a time while mixing furiously (think of it as toning your arms). You want to make sure everything is mixed very well but don’t stop as this stuff settles very quickly.

Step 4: Once the icing sugar is mixed thoroughly, immediately pour into baking dish and smooth into the corners. The parchment paper will help the fudge to not stick and allows you to pull the entire block of fudge out easily.

Step 5: Sprinkle crushed candy cane all over the surface (you’ll have noticed that the top of the fudge may have already begun to set) of the fudge and set aside to cool.

Step 6: About a half hour later take a knife and do a cut test. If you can slice the fudge with minimal breakage proceed to cut the rest of the fudge into pieces (1×1″ pieces or less, this stuff will rot your teeth instantly). You do NOT want to wait until the fudge is completely cooled as your blocks will be super hard to cut and just break apart but if it’s still too warm your fudge will just stick to the knife and get all over the place.


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Done! Easy, eh?! Everyone always thinks fudge is so difficult but it’s probably the easiest thing in the world!

The great thing about this recipe is how versatile it is. You can take the chocolate and candy canes out for a simple vanilla fudge, you can mix up your extracts for different flavours (I’ve used mint, maple, rum and even khalua). Halve the butter and add a a half cup of peanut butter plus 2oz of chocolate for amazing peanut butter and chocolate fudge! You name it! Just experiment! I’m going to make two more flavours by the time I’m done, I’m thinking chocolate orange may be one of them!

November 17th, 2010

Elliptical Vs. Treadmill: What’s The Deal?!

I have to admit, my running has decreased exponentially since my half. I don’t want running to become a chore so I had planned to decrease my running a bit to focus on cross-training and get the last bit of weight off. This has caused some major Runners Guilt even though it’s of my own choice. Whereas I was running 3x a week, I’m now down to one maybe two days. Of course, I had planned to run 2-3 days a week but it just hasn’t been happening. Where’s the guilt coming from?! I’ve realized that it’s not the decrease in days, it’s the decrease in mileage. I spent half of 2010 increasing my mileage to run my half and now? I haven’t done more than 10k since and although I know that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my half mileage, I had wanted to keep between 10-15k my base and the fact that this is not happening is making me moan and groan.

But that stops today, my friends! I sat down and realized a couple of things:

  • I’m CHOOSING not to run my long runs on the weekend so no complaining if it’s my own fault!
  • I spent the better half of 2010 focusing ONLY on running and nothing else. No cross training, no weight loss, nothing. My brain is fried from running and that’s okay!
  • I struggle with cross-training and I know it but cross-training will help me to prevent injury when I train for races. Cross-training is important and many, many, MANY runners take time off of running in the winter to do just that. They strengthen other parts of their bodies so they can become better runners when racing season starts up again.
  • It’s been less than two months since my half which means that’s been less than two months since my decrease in running. Erm. That’s not really a long time. It’s not like it’s been four months or something, I’m not going to lose my running fitness and I’ll be strong enough that when I do build my mileage back up again, it won’t take as long.
  • Last year I went back to running 3x a week come December, I AM a winter runner.

In other words, I’m blowing this all out of proportion! Decreasing my running doesn’t make me any less of a runner just as being injured and not being ABLE to run doesn’t make the injured person any less of a runner so I need to shut the heck up and be nice to myself!

With that said, I’ve been using the elliptical a LOT. I never used to be a fan of the elliptical, I thought it was just a sorry excuse for a treadmill but Alan prefers it and I’m not going to be picky about any sort of home gym equipment (especially when I’m not paying for it)! So I’ve been learning to love it and I figured I’d pass along the love to you! And please keep in mind that I am NOT a professional so take this all with a grain of salt!


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What the heck is an elliptical anyway?!

An elliptical (also called a cross-trainer) is machine created in the ’90’s by Larry D. Miller that is used to simulate walking or running but without all the strain on the joints.

There are three types of ellipticals, the rear drive, the centre drive and the front drive referring to where the motor is located (for instance, mine, as shown in the above picture, is a “rear drive” because the motor – where that big circle is – is located in the back of the machine).

What’s the difference between an elliptical and a treadmill?

Both an elliptical and a treadmill were designed for people to walk or run on. The obvious difference is that the elliptical was designed to do those two activities with minimal stress on the body’s joints whereas the treadmill allows you the convenience of walk or running without having to go outside, it also offers more impact which helps to strengthen your bones.

The other difference is that the treadmill focuses more on the lower body making it a perfect training tool for those who are training for races but when the weather makes it impossible to walk or run outdoors. The elliptical, on the other hand, with the addition of stationary AND movable handles, offers more of a full body workout. In fact, what I didn’t know before was that, depending on how you use the elliptical, you can work out a LOT of different muscles that you can’t on the treadmill. With a forward motion you work your calves and quads, pedalling backwards focuses on your hamstrings and butt. Pushing on the handles focuses on your chest and pulling on the handles works your upper back. Finally, taking your hands off the handles completely, you work your core! How awesome is that?!

What are the similarities between the elliptical and the treadmill?

The obvious answer is that both simulate walking or jogging without using up a large amount of space or having to go outside.

Also, you can choose your speed and incline/resistance to simulate hills. Most of the newer machines also allow you to choose a pre-programmed workout, sort of like your own personal trainer.

The other similarity is a critical one. They both burn the same amount of calories in the same period of time even though most people report not feeling like they’re working as hard on the elliptical.

So, what’s better?!

It depends on what your goals are. If you’re looking for an indoor option to your running/walking then go with the treadmill as you can still train for races using the treadmill (albeit with slight differences). If you’re looking for an efficient full-body cardiovascular machine or are looking for something that eases your joints, the elliptical is the way to go.

Or, you can use the elliptical as a great cross-training machine (hence the name “Cross Trainer”) to aide in your running/walking.

If you have an elliptical and are looking for some great workouts, FitSugar offers a ton of amazing workouts including full body, speed and hill workouts. I’ve used several of these that I’ll copy out and sit on the display for easy access and work up a great sweat!


References

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-an-elliptical-trainer.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elliptical_trainer
http://exercise.about.com/cs/exercisegear/a/treadelliptical.htm
http://www.suite101.com/content/should-you-chose-an-elliptical-trainer-or-a-treadmill-for-cardio-a309554
http://www.fitsugar.com/Beginning-Elliptical-Workout-7136874


What about you? Do you use an elliptical? Which do you prefer? The elliptical or the treadmill?

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