Cranberries! Martha Stewart! Pumpkin! Oh my.

There’s nothing like afterwork plans to make the week a little brighter! On Tuesday, I got my butt out of bed to run some pre-dawn miles with my girl, Kelly. I finished 8 miles, all before the sun came up. Oh heyyyy 7am sunrise.

My early wake-up was rewarded after work – I had plans to attend a cocktail party with another lady friend. The event was sponsored by Ocean Spray cranberries and featured Martha Stewart as the guest of honor. Wheee! I really wanted to gush about how much I love her macaroni and cheese recipe, but I didn’t get the opportunity for any one-on-one chatting. Martha, if you ever stumble upon this blog – I <3 you!!!

Anyway, the event was held at the super swank 620 Fifth Avenue rooftop lounge. I had lots of fun taking glamour shots in front of St. Patrick’s Cathdral-

….and sipping cranberry themed cocktails!

I enjoy cranberries and blueberries all year round, but they are especially appealing in Autumn. My favorite way to enjoy them? In sweet & salty nantucket cookies. Yum!

(Love that anorak jacket Martha!)

After some introductions and presentations about Ocean Spray cranberries, we sampled some passed appetizers. Martha Stewart’s ingenius pumpkin swirl brownies (!!!) were on the menu. Once I tried one for myself (ok…2), I knew I had to make them ASAP.

I think they came out pretty well! Yum, yum, yum.

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

Adapted from Martha Stewart.com

Ingredients:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2  cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup full-fat greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9″x 13″ baking pan.
  • Melt chocolate and butter together in the microwave on medium power for 1 1/2 minutes. Stir and microwave for 20 second intervals until smooth, stirring between each interval.
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in another bowl and use an electric mixer to beat until fluffy and well combined.  Beat in flour mixture.
  • Divide batter between two medium bowls. Stir chocolate mixture into one bowl and  stir in pumpkin, yogurt, cinnamon, and nutmeg into the other. Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan smoothing top with a rubber spatula. Top with half of pumpkin batter. Repeat layers – pumpkin should be your final layer.
  • With a small butter knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect.
  • Bake for about 25 minutes, depending on oven. Cool in pan, on a wire rack. Makes 18 thick, delicious brownies!
  • Week one of the taper is going well – I ended up doing a double today. 4 1/2 miles in the morning, 3 miles in the evening. The double was mostly due to time constraints a.k.a. I had to be at work early and didn’t have time to run more than 40 minutes this a.m. I have a beastly tempo workout on tap for Thursday (4 miles at marathon pace, 4 miles at half marathon pace) – so stay tuned for the gory details.

    Thanks for all the great feedback on my last post! I have plans to write a “gear” post soon i.e. a ramble about running shoes, watches, and sports bras. In the meantime, I thought I’d talk a little about how I balance my running and social life.

    I’m fortunate in that my roommate (hey Alma!) is a runner. Did you know that we actually met during a half-marathon?? Having a live-in running buddy makes heading out the door for an early morning run MUCH easier. Plus – we get to chat and gossip for 45 minutes or so. It’s a win-win situation! Besides my roommate, many of my other friends are also runners. Our lives revolve around track workouts, spectating races, running shoe sales, and post-long run brunches. Going to bed early on a Friday night never seems like a sacrifice if I know I’m going to meet my running friends for a 10-miler the next morning!

    But I DO have girlfriends that don’t run. I think the most important thing is to let people know how important running is to you. They might peer pressure you the first time you skip the bars in favor of an early bedtime, but eventually they’ll realize that you sometimes need to put running at the top of your priority list. And if you can get your non-running friends excited about your races – even better! My mom and sister know very little about marathons, but they’re pysched to come spectate on November 7th. Why? They know how important it is to me. And we’re going to make a day out of it – fun brunch plans, a post-race celebration, etc.

    But what if you still want to enjoy being a 20-something while training for a marathon? I doubt Runner’s World is going to condone excessive drinking anytime soon, but a few too many beers is not necessarily the end of the world. Last June, I stayed out till 2am and indulged in a little bit too much A LOT of wine and cake. And you know what? I ran a 10k PR the next day!! I’m not sure I would recommend this pre-race strategy, but I think it’s the overall picture that counts, not one night or one meal. If you’re regularly eating well, getting 7 ish hours of sleep, and drinking in moderation (i.e. one glass of wine a night vs. 3) – a late night isn’t necessarily going to kill you. And sometimes I make compromises. I recently went to a Friday night concert knowing full well that my long run the next day wasn’t going to be stellar. But as my wise friend Sarah says “Not all runs can be awesome”. I guess my point is – pick your battles. If a run or race is really  important to you, behave yourself. (You better believe I will be tucked into bed at 10pm the night before the marathon). But you’re only young once, so don’t resign yourself to Grandma bedtimes and herbal tea if you feel the itch to cut loose.

    Happy running, friends.

    • You are a great “voice of reason” here with regard to the social life balancing act. Also, I will mention again how envious I am of your running-roommate situation. That sounds pretty freaking awesome. Nearly as awesome as pumpkin swirl brownies, jaysus-mary-and-joseph I just endured paroxysms of desire for those things after seeing the picture.

    • K

      I definitely agree that those brownies look out of this world…

      While I’m not a 20-something anymore (sigh…just switched age groups a few months ago), I think your social-running balance strategy is a great one! Sometimes running is the priority, but running can’t be everything…
      There must be something about too much wine and cake, not enough sleep, and 10K PRs- my sister did the same thing.

    • dear megan,
      how do you get invited to these snazzy, big corporation-sponsored events? 😉 with MARTHA?! can i be your date next time? i’m cute and can make small talk and people like me. that’s enough, right? 😉

      seriously though, i never got to respond to your previous blog post, but i too am loving your blog more and more with each post – i love this balance, as you’ve done here, of life, food and running. what makes this blog great is it’s not all about running, but it still gets into detail about training, race strategy, etc. so you’re legit in runningland but also a REAL person, and that comes through in your writing very clearly. so, um, a+ for this grading term 🙂

      i’ve always struggled with the running + life balance because most of my friends aren’t runners, and don’t understand why i’d want to to turn in early. also for awhile my social life was more important to me – i’d rather be out late having fun with friends than heading in early so i’d be feeling great for a morning run, but that was just where my priorities were (speaking of, i have a funny story about LBM to tell you in person!). i know that now i would KILL to have running regularly and healthily back in my life and would probably head in earlier more often than ever if i could have it back 🙁 alas, things are different right now, but as you wrote before, running in your life is a process – it ebbs and flows and sometimes is more important than others.

      why did i write an essay as a comment? running on the brain? hmmm.

    • OMG – I love martha stewart.

      Those brownies look delicious – I love craisins especially in salads. So delicious and sweet.

    • yum brownies. those are going on the list of things i need to bake while i’m in a baking mood!

      and yum cranberries. they’re sooooooo good and popular right now. but it’s new england so duh hahahah

    • Hey Megan!

      Do you have any tips for running during the winter? I’m still a newbie – just started running in May, and just ran my first half marathon a couple weeks ago. I’m running another half in couple weeks. I live in the Boston area, so it’s already starting to get dark and cold. And, I have a toddler at home, so my only available times to run are 5am or 8pm. I really want to keep running throughout the winter, but I’m worried that the cold, darkness, and eventually the snow (ugh) will make it difficult (both logistically and motivation-wise). I’d love any tips you have.

      Thanks!

    • I wish my hubby liked running. All of m y friends HATE running and the local running groups only meet while I’m at work. So, I only run by myself. It gets boring sometimes, but it’s really my only alone time. It can be nice.

    • I love cranberries!! I’ve found that a bunch of my friends have actually started running more since I’ve been running half marathons and marathons. They get motivated by me (and my best friend) talking about our races and training. So they have started running more 5ks. It’s nice when we can all run a 5k race together on a weekend and then hang out after.

    • Hi Megan!

    • Martha! How fun. True story: Martha’s brother and his wife are regular customers at my family’s Italian restaurant in my hometown, where they live 🙂

      Also a true story: I made brownies with pumpkin last weekend and they didn’t turn our nearly as delicious as yours look.

      And I’ll be honest, I have trouble balancing the social aspenct of my life. Too often it gets overpowered by school, work, running, etc. but for now, I’m ok with it. Your post did remind me though, that I should try to cut loose more often 🙂

    • I love pumpkin flavored anything! You can’t beat it! :)I just wish the flavor was readily available year round.

    • Thank you for addressing the running/social life balance issue! I agree that it’s important to let people know that you’re running for reasons other than to be in shape, that it’s a true passion of yours. This post also made me realize that I could probably use to make more running friends! People I can run with on the weekends and go to races with would be really nice. Doing more 10ks and such would be a good starting point I think!

    • Zoe

      Thank you for this post. It’s so hard to balance running, school and friends. I’m very much looking for running friends, especially for those Saturday morning long runs. Any good ideas on how to meet them?

    • I love the cranberries in the jar idea! They are so pretty!

    • You are pretty lucky that many of your friends are runners too. I run with my mom but mostly by myself. It’s always a treat to run together and catch up.

    • Amy

      99% sure I just saw you and your CPTC buddies running in the Park. Hope you had a great run … it was such great weather this evening!

    • O-M-G! I think I have a new baking project for this weekend. I <3 anything pumpkin and those brownies look incredible!

      I also am trying to take a similar approach to life-running balance. It's hard not to let it consume your life. You're lucky to have so many runner buddies here in NYC, that's one thing I definitely miss about running in college: all my friends were runners and totally "got" it!

    • I have to say, one of the best things I did to balance running and not-running is starting a running blog. I can yap about running all I want on the blog, communicate with people who understand/care what I am talking about, and then LEAVE IT ALONE when I go out with other friends. Of course, this doesn’t help the needing-extra-sleep thing, but I’ve always turned into a pumpkin at midnight, so my friends are pretty accustomed to that.

    • I’m sorry I haven’t commented in a while but it’s so great to read your training is going so well! I had to whip up a dessert for a last-minute Shabbat dinner last night and I decided to make a gluten-free update of this recipe. The whole pan disappeared within 10 minutes (and no, not just by me). Great tip!

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