Disney Princess Half Marathon Tips

The Disney Princess Half Marathon registration opened up on July 15th to all of us that are not annual passholders or have DVC. The struggle was real. Active.com was slammed with people attempting to register. I was lucky and it took about a half hour, while others waited an hour or longer. There was a lot of refreshing, freaking out when payment screens went blank and for myself (and possibly others) feelings of relief when that email saying I was registered came minutes later.

Are you planning to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon? Check out these tips! #princesshalf

The Glass Slipper Challenge was full in under 2 hours and the half marathon and 10k were full in around 6. I can say for myself  I was thankful that I did not wait to register like my husband suggested. For whatever the reason may be Disney races have been selling out and selling out fast. We are not talking about in days but in hours here.  Could be because the secret is out and everyone is learning how awesome their races are. They are definitely my favorite after running other half marathons. I have yet to run a half marathon where on the course other runners are so friendly and encouraging. Then there is the awesome course support and the support after the race is awesome as well. In addition to all of this you can stop and have your picture taken with your favorite Disney characters. Seriously what is there not to like! Thankfully for those that still would like to run but were not able to register there are options available. You can still enter with charities and some trip planners have entries available.

So if this is your first time running the Princess Half Marathon I am going to guess that you are full of questions. I know I was. I searched and searched for info but to my surprise it was not easy to find. I want to help all of y’all out though. I’m going to answer some popular questions the best that I can and if you have a question. Let me know and I will add it and answer it.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Tips

Is Race Retreat worth the money?

This is what your $120 for Race Retreat gets you:

  • Climate Control
  • Private bag check,
  • “Private” port-a-potties
  • Changing area
  • Padded streching area
  • Character Meet and Greets
  • Self Treat Medical Station/ First Aid
  • Pre race food- Bagels and Fruit
  • Post race food- Hot Breakfast and fruit and champagne or mimosas
  • Post race, commemorative towel, flip flops or comfy socks
  • Massages (self pay)
  • Kid area with bean bag chairs and Disney movies on TV
  • Live result area TV streaming finish

Race Retreat is one of those things that everyone has to decide is this something I need for my Disney Princess experience. You could also think of it as how pampered do I need to be? Although the climate control  sounds lovely I just couldn’t make myself pay for it. If you choose to skip it yes, you will be left to be outside in the elements and that could mean, it is hot or cold or just right. There are areas by the stage for character meet and greets pre-race. There just are longer lines. They offer lounge chairs or you could sit on the ground. Last year I saw people bring dollar store pool floaties to sit on. The lines for the porta potties aren’t really that bad. They keep moving. I was in line no more than 15 minutes. The only problem I had was the porta potties do not have lights so I had to use the flashlight on my phone. Gear check was quick and easy, no lines and it is done by your last name. Post race there are medical tents and a self pay massage tent. Last year it was $1 a minute but it was cash only. As for the food element I am very simple when it comes to my pre-race fuel and being gluten free bagels and fruit  won’t work for me. Post race, i’m ok with my food box, I usually can’t eat for a couple hours after a long run. Plus in the post race area there is food and alcohol available for purchase.

Race Retreat is $120

Pasta in the Park 

There are mixed feelings about Pasta in the Park. You are given admission into Epcot (at 6pm) and you can ride a few rides while you are there so that is a plus.  It is also said there are some great character meet and greets another plus. The food some like it and others don’t. It is served buffet style and there are several choices. A common complaint is the time. When you have to be up at 2:30am to run a half you want to get to bed and try to get some rest. Going to Pasta in the park and staying to get everything you paid for (this includes special seating for Illuminations fireworks show) can lead to a late night. Personally this is something I skip. I eat a gluten free diet so I would be limited to what I can eat plus I like to try to go to bed early the night before.

**note** Disney is awesome about special diets and they can be contacted to see if any accommodations are being made for special diets.

Pasta in the Park is $54 for adults, $30 for children, children 3 and under are free

Breakfast

The Princess breakfast is another option that is hit and miss with other princesses and their families. I haven’t talked to many people who loved it or said it was worth it. In fact many people suggest making reservations at your favorite restaurant for breakfast instead. Complaint’s have ranged from the food being just ok to there being long lines for the character meet and greets.

Breakfast is $39adult $26 child

 

ChEAR Squad

There are many places along the half marathon route that non runners can see runners for the half marathon to include Main Street at the Magic Kingdom and the Finish Line area. Disney does offer what they call ChEAR Squad that has reserved viewing areas  for those who purchase Gold or Platinum and other perks. For instance the platinum ChEAR Squad includes Race Retreat and that gives non runners a place to hang out if the weather is really hot or cold. There is reserved seating in front of the castle in the Magic Kingdom that has a nice view. There have been mixed views on the finished line seating. It is first come first serve.  Another plus depending on the package you choose (silver- platinum) are different souvenirs (typically a t-shirt and blanket but it may include other things) or Cheer Squad Gear. For ChEAR Squad this is something that you need to discuss with those that are coming with you and what they want. For instance, if you are choosing the Race Retreat  you may want to get the platinum chEAR Squad to enjoy your after half marathon breakfast together.

ChEAR Squad Packages:

Bronze -
Complementary
Silver -
$39.00
Gold -
$65.00 – Disney Princess Half Marathon
Platinum -
$120.00 – Disney Princess Half Marathon

 

Where to Stay

One of the biggest questions is where should you stay. This race is so large  that even locals stay on property and after my experience with the Rock N Roll Raleigh I don’t blame them. I highly suggest stay on Disney Property (to include Shades of Green). With the Disney Princess Half Marathon all resorts are host resorts. That means all resorts have race day transportation and not just that but transportation to the Expo also. Disney has resorts at all prices too and from time to time offer various different specials. Last year I stayed at the Caribbean Beach resort and it was great. Although I had rented  car to drive to Orlando there was no need for me to drive it around and that saved me some money. Disney has a great transportation system that you are able to utilize to go all over the Disney property. I went to Downtown Disney and the restaurants and gift shops at my resort. You do have to wait on buses and depending on your resort you may have several stops.
I have to add in that Magic Bands are pretty cool. You have your room key on your wrist so you don’t need to worry about where you are going to stash your room key especially if you don’t check your bag.
Everyone has their own favorite resort so I won’t suggest one over another but will say if you want to stay at a particular resort I suggest that you book your room early. The longer you wait the fewer resorts that will have availability.
If you choose to stay off Disney property remember to leave with more than enough time to get to the parks on race day.

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Are you planning to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon? Check out these tips! #princesshalf

To wear a costume or to not wear a question

I remember last year spending a ton of time worried about the costume question. I decided on wearing one, I wanted to dress like Cinderella. I pinned different outfits on Pinterest. Then I started to get worried about what running 13.1 miles in a costume would be like but on the other hand I didn’t want to be the only person not in a costume. I decided on making my own sparkle skirt but I waited too long to make it. I waited until February and at that point I couldn’t find the correct color fabric to make my skirt. It was too late to order fabric or skirt. I planned to go with my DIY Sweaty band and blue shirt and either capris or shorts. I debated buying a spark skirt at the expo but I decided against it. I didn’t want to wear something new on race day. I was perfectly fine in what I was wearing too! Not everyone wears a costume or even just a sparkle skirt.  There is a large variety of running outfits on race day. There is a variety of costumes, sparkle skirts, princess colored clothes, matching shirts and outfits to their favorite running clothes. Where what you want and what is comfortable for you! Wearing something 13.1miles and chaffing isn’t fun so if you choose to wear a costume test your run day outfit out before the big day.

 

Corrals

When signing up for the half marathon you were asked for a time you expected to finish and if you had a finish time for another 10k or half marathon. For corral placement  they are looking for that official time otherwise you will be placed in one of the last corrals. I highly suggest running at least a 10k  before December 1st and submitting a time for corral placement. Submitting a time and hopefully being placed in a higher corral will give you a bit of extra time for the race when it comes to taking a break for photos. You need to be able to run/walk a 16 minute mile including any stops if you are in the last corral. If you cannot maintain that there is a good possibility that you could be swept.

Are you planning to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon? Check out these tips! #princesshalf

 

Injuries, Pregnancy Etc.

It happens sometimes and there is nothing you can do to prevent it. Something comes up and you are no longer able to run the half marathon. Unfortunately you cannot get a refund but you can defer your entry  for a fee until the following year.

Bib/Packet Pick up

Bib Pick up is on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Expo. There is no race day bib pick up. Pick up is pretty simple. In the weeks prior to the half marathon you will be emailed your waiver form. If you forget your waiver don’t worry! There are computers set up so you can print it out at the expo. If you cannot make it to pick up your race packet you can no longer have someone pick up race packets on your behalf.

Are you planning to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon? Check out these tips! #princesshalf

Expo

The expo for Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend is huge. Even saying it is huge is an understatement. It is a runners dream. Everything you could possibly want for running can be found. If you forgot your gels, you can most likely find the type you use here. Same for GPS’s, compression socks and more. They also have a great Run Disney area but I will add things sell out fast. I didn’t get to the Expo until Saturday last year and 13.1 car magnets/stickers and the t-shirt I wanted to buy my husband were sold out.  Last year you could go to the KT tape booth and get taped, for free. Yes there was a line but it wasn’t too bad. In addition to KT tape there were all sorts of free goodies being handed out. Jeff Galloway can also be spotted near the Run Disney tent at times. Plus they give great lectures.

Are you planning to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon? Check out these tips! #princesshalf

Dooney And Burke Purses

Are you a purse person? Every year there is a special Dooney and Burke purse that is sold at Disney Princess Half Marathon. To help with some of the craziness of the Expo these purses can be pre-ordered. Yes, you get a preview of what the purses look like ahead of time. Keep a look out for the email.

New Balance Shoes

New Balance makes a few pair of commemorative shoes for the half marathon that are well sought after every year. After all who wouldn’t want running shoes with Cinderella on them? Last year they used a Virtual Queue system for those interested in buying the shoes. If you are interested keep an eye on your emails for how they will be doing the shoes this year.

Water and Fuel on the Course

Another question that is often asked is if you should carry your own water or rely on what RunDisney provides. This is a personal choice some carry there own and others rely on what is on the course. There are several water and gatorade stops along the half marathon route so have no fear of not being able to get water if you need it. I train with a fuel belt with water and Nunn and that is what i’m used too so I choose to wear my fuel belt during the half’s I have run. It is what i’m used to and it is what works for me. As for fuel on the course they offer Cliff gels around mile 8-9. When it comes to gels and nutrition try different types and find what works for you. There is nothing worse than trying a gel and it doesn’t agree with you. That is something no one wants to deal with on race day. I prefer Gu’s especially the Salted Caramel ones but there are all different types of gels and other fuel choices available. Some people skip the fancy fuel and go with things like pretzels, raisins or even honey packets.

Balloon Ladies

There is something that strikes fear into slower runners at Disney races, the Balloon Ladies! Yes they actually have balloons and if your pace is slower than their 16minute mile you will be picked up and not allowed to finish. These ladies are volunteers and are in the last corral and are the last people to cross the start line. Once they cross the start that is when the 16minute mile starts. They are rumored to be very friendly so don’t be scared of them but if you see them coming you may want to pick up your pace.

Character Meet and Greets

One of the great things about Disney races are the character meet and greets along the half marathon route. The Princess half marathon has several great characters that will be out including some that are rarely seen such as the villains. Bring a small camera or use your phones’s camera to catch these memories. Since I was running alone I had no issues having a cast member take a picture for me when I asked. Marathon Photo is also at some stops as well as sprinkled all over the race route.  Just remember the clock doesn’t stop because you did, watch your time at character stops.

Are you planning to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon? Check out these tips! #princesshalf

 

Florida Hills

Huh, Florida Hills? Growing up in Florida I learned hills are few and far between. Florida is pretty flat. Florida does have plenty of overpasses and during the princess half you get to go up and over them toward the end of the half as you return to Epcot. To help motivate you the green toy soldier is out there to umm, motivate you . Don’t forget hills when you train if you can.

Training and Nutrition

I am only going to briefly touch on nutrition and training. This is a subject that needs to be personalized to each person as what works for one person may not work for another. While some people have done this race with little training and lived to tell about it. The road to success starts with training and to stick to your training. Many people use couch to 5k to get them started and Galloway has a good program for running and walking, Galloway also has free training schedules on Rundisney, there are also tons on Pinterest and runners world. I will suggest to train for more than 13.1 miles with whatever training program that you do choose. The reason for this is simple. On race day you walk from the parking area to the pre race area and then you walk about another mile from pre race to the corrals. This walking is awesome to help warm you up for your run. In addition to all the walking you do to get to the start during the race any weaving you do will add up and in the end you rack up more miles than 13.1.

As for nutrition how well you fuel your body will help you when it comes time to run. When you fuel up on junk you can feel it. I know when i’ve tried to run after eating junk I always felt sluggish and heavy.

Final Thoughts

Disney Princess is a fun and supportive race. Women you have never met before will be there to say an encouraging word or just sing a silly song. On race day remember your training, you have seven months of training ahead, make them count. Disney races are typically not races to plan to PR but it can happen. I know first hand, I PR’ed last year. It just made my race day more magical. The biggest thing I can tell you is to take it all in and have fun while you are out there!

Are you planning to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon? Check out these tips! #princesshalf

 

 

 

****disclaimer***** I was NOT compensated for this post. All opinions are my own****

 

 

Gluten Free Rotini with a Charred Green Onion Pesto, Toasted Cashews and Cranberries

Something I really like is making pesto out of not your typical pesto ingredients. Pesto does not need to have a Basil and Pine Nut base. For Instance, I have a wonderful Spinach and Pecan Pesto I make every now and then. When I found out I was working with Barilla this month and saw some of their recipes, their Charred Green Onion Pesto stood out. An added plus to this recipe is that it called for their Gluten Free pasta that I had finally found in a local grocery store. Alike some other pastas I had tried it was a corn and rice pasta that is GMO free. I have been on the search for a good gluten free pasta and I think I may have found my new go-to pasta. Best part about the pasta is my family wasn’t asking is this gluten free.

The pesto was very easy to make and was surprisingly tasty. I love it when recipes comes together like that! You simply roast your green onions in the oven for 10 minutes, then let them cool and once cool you through into the food processor. Add some cashews, parmesan cheese, a couple ice cubes, a tad bit of water and olive oil and pulse a bit more and voila! You have pesto! Toss with your rotini and some soaked dried cranberries and you have your pasta dish. It would be great with some grilled chicken breast also. Try it for yourself and let me know what you think!

Gluten Free Rotini with a Charred Green Onion Pesto, Toasted Cashews and Cranberries

Gluten Free Rotini with a Charred Green Onion Pesto, Toasted Cashews and Cranberries

from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (12 ounce) box Barilla® Gluten Free Rotini
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
  • ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup hot water

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F and bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Place cranberries in bowl of hot water to soak.
  3. Toss the green onions with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a sheet tray and roast in the oven until lightly charred, about 10 minutes. Remove the onions from the oven and let them cool down.
  4. In a blender combine the onions, cashews and Parmigiano cheese, pulse for 5 seconds.
  5. Slowly drizzle in the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the ice cubes and puree. Remove the pesto from the blender and place in a large bowl.
  6. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Drain cranberries.
  7. Add the cooking liquid, pasta and drained cranberries to the pesto, then stir to combine.

Gluten Free Rotini with a Charred Green Onion Pesto, Toasted Cashews and Cranberries

5 Tips for Avoiding Volunteer Burnout

Just a year ago my life and what was my normal changed. The Army had decided it was time for our family to move and we had started making our way to our new duty station, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Fort Bragg wasn’t a new destination for us. It is where we started our families’ journey in military life. I knew what to expect for the most part. I had bloomed when I was planted at Fort Bragg before and I was sure it would be no problem to do it again. PCSing always brings with it all sorts of unique challenges and new adventures and even though we had spent 7 years at Fort Bragg several years prior I need to start over and bloom where I was being planted once again.

It didn’t take long to unpack and once I had it was back to what I had always done, volunteering. I jumped back in wasting no time at all. I stopped in a Blue Star Families, Books on Bases event  and lent a hand and offered my help for future events. Soon there after I volunteered with the USO at a Jack Daniels Salute to the Troops care package event with country singer and former 82nd Airborne soldier, Craig Morgan and EJ Snyder possibly best known from Naked and Afraid  one person over from me.

Volunteer Burnout (Craig Morgan) | Country Girl GourmetI applied for volunteer jobs online through Army Community Service, became an Operation Homefront volunteer again… well at least according to email correspondence I was one. I also told my children’s teachers if they needed volunteers I was more than happy to lend a hand.  I even became a Family Readiness Group  volunteer once again. Once my kids were back in school I suddenly found myself with “extra” time I once spent working on one of my varied volunteering jobs.

I spent my mornings job hunting and working on my blog and other Allrecipes activities. I started work on a family cookbook. I could go run without a worry. It was during one of my half marathon training runs I came to the realization that not volunteering may be just what I needed. In all honesty sometimes it takes time to realize things and I realized I had fallen victim to one of the things I always tried to fight against. I had Volunteer Burnout.

It is with no real surprise it happened. I have volunteered in some way or form since high school from planting trees in the community to tutoring middle school students. Once I married my husband  and became part of the Army family community I started volunteering with his companies Family Readiness Group(FRG). Well, back then it was called a Family Support Group. It was while my husband was on recruiting duty that my volunteering went to a new level. I was a FRG leader, I was always at my kid’s school helping with something and I had started advocating for military families. I was constantly busy doing something, helping out. I just did and did some more, I felt horrible saying NO.  Volunteering just became what I did and continued to do when we moved to the Fort Bliss area. I was always sure to say thank you to my volunteers and was always concerned that I was asking too much of them but I never did the same for myself.  I was the FRG leader running a 5k and answering my phone to help a fellow spouse. Yes, I did that.  Her questions were not emergencies and were something that could wait 20 minutes until I was done. I did this too many times to count. Blame my type A personality, the wanting of things to be perfect and the people pleaser in myself I put my volunteer responsibilities above my personal needs.

I did this for years, yes years. Becoming yet another victim of volunteer burnout ultimately was no surprise. Don’t get me wrong I loved and still do enjoy volunteering. It is something that I will never completely stop doing. Now I will just do things a little differently. I will put myself first and make sure I have time for myself. Over the last year I have been getting back to what makes myself me and have found myself less stressed out. Others have even noted how I even seem to be happier. A wonderful comment but it has me wondering how I must have appeared before, yikes! While this change was forced upon me it has made me a better person. I still volunteer but I am a much happier volunteer now and keep a few tips in mind.

5 Tips to Avoid Volunteer Burnout | Country Girl Gourmet

 

5 Tips for Avoiding Volunteer Burnout

1. Schedule your volunteer time.   When taking on a volunteer job most give you a description of the expected hours per week that are expected. Yes, sometimes you will need to spend more hours than expected while others less. A huge things you can do for yourself is set hours you are “on the clock”. Do you have an email account associated with your volunteer job? Stop checking it all the time! Have set hours that you set aside for responding to emails. As a volunteer you are not expected to work nonstop. That is not good for you. You need your breaks. Remember your time is valuable!

2. Take Care of Yourself. Get enough sleep. Eat healthy foods instead of junk food. Exercise regularly. Take time for you and your hobbies.  Go on vacation and leave your volunteer work at home. Be sure to make time to relax and unwind. You may think you don’t need a break but take one anyways.

3. Learn how to say NO with grace.  When I was joking that when I moved my email was going to be sexybooty69 to avoid being contacted it should have been a sign that I was on burnout road.  If you are coming up with ideas in your head about how to avoid volunteering instead of just saying NO you may be on the road to burnout. Saying NO isn’t a bad thing, it can be difficult especially when you feel like you are letting someone down. Over committing and spreading yourself too thin can have an adverse effect on your volunteering efforts and you. Volunteering is good but moderation is key. Remember, they don’t give a special award for being a volunteer martyr.

4. Ask for Help. For some asking for help is hard. I have friends that know if i’m asking for help I must need it because i’m one of those that rarely asks for help. I will try to be Superwoman and do it all myself. Being Superwoman can leave you more stressed. You don’t have to do it all yourself though. Delegate, ask for help. Give your volunteers more responsibility. Just remember, if they say no or seem hesitant, don’t push them to do something they don’t want to. Remember they are volunteering like you and like you the best volunteers are typically more prone to burnout.  Good volunteers are hard to find so like it is important to take care of yourself it’s important to make sure they take care of themselves also.

5. Don’t Worry, Be Happy. This for the control freaks out there. Stop worrying about things you cannot control. This is a HARD one but mastering this skill will help you. Yes, asking for help can lead to interesting situations sometimes but what will be, will be and it will be ok. If there is one thing I have learned in my years as a military spouse it has been to adapt and overcome. Things may not turn out exactly the way you hoped but in most cases things will be ok and if not it is a valuable learning experience.

 

These tips aren’t fool proof , just good suggestions from someone who has been to burned out. What do you do to avoid Volunteer Burnout?

 

 

10 Uses for Reynolds Foil

This month with Allrecipes we are working with Reynolds Foil a product that I use just about every day in my kitchen. It is also a product that goes way beyond just covering dishes and wrapping up leftovers. Reynolds Foil is perfect for using when you are having a BBQ. You can use it for every part of your meal from preparation,cooking and clean up! Today I want to share 10 of my favorite tips for using Reynolds Foil to make your next BBQ a knock out! As a added bonus I am throwing in a salmon recipe that my husband and second son really love.

10 Uses for Reynolds Foil | Country Girl Gourmet

 

1. Keep food from sticking

Are you making BBQ Chicken or Fish? Hate how it sticks to the grates on your grill? When grilling line your grill with Reynolds foil to help prevent sticking. Just poke a few holes in the foil to drain juices.

2. Keep food from falling into grill grates

Want to grill some shrimp or veggies but you don’t have any kabob skewers or a grill basket? Just use foil! It will keep your food from falling through your grill grates. I’ve even known people that use this method to make bacon on their grill for bacon cheeseburgers!

3. Individual Foil Packets

There are so many things you can make in foil packets. The possibilities are endless and delicious! Foil packets are simple and easy to make too. All you need to do is, place food on the center of two layers of foil Next top with your desired seasonings and oil. Finally bring the two long sides together, fold foil over the food. Fold over three or more times. Fold and crimp remaining sides and then grill as directed. Then clean up is easy peasy. Check out the recipe I have below for Salmon. I have issues making fish but with foil packets I can make it easily for my husband and son.

4. Keep Food Warm

If you need to keep food warm until serving time cover with some Reynolds Foil until serving time. The foil is also perfect for wrapping meats that need to rest before serving like brisket.

5. Easy Clean Up

Line baking pans and cookie sheets with aluminum foil to cut your cleanup later. This tip is perfect for times where you are making a bunch of burgers to grill. Just cover a tray with foil and discard once the burgers are on the grill. Your serving tray will still be clean for your cooked burgers.

6. Grill Scrubbers

Want to use your grill but it is a dirty mess? Use Aluminum Foil to clean your grill without chemicals. Just ball up a piece of foil and use tongs to clean the grill grates.

7. Make-shift Funnel

Want to transfer your favorite condiments into a different container for your BBQ but you don’t have a funnel? Make one with Reynolds foil! All you need to do is take a piece of foil and make it a cone shape with an opening at the pointy end. Secure it with a piece of tape and then you are ready to pour and transfer your favorite condiments.

8. Sharpen Scissors

Need to cut something and your kitchen scissors are dull? Fold a sheet of foil several times and cut through it with a pair of dull scissors to sharpen the blades

9. Pie Crust Protector

Making a classic apple pie for dessert for your BBQ? Another favorite  Reynolds Foil use of mine is the pie crust protector.  To prevent burnt pie crust edges, crimp foil around the edges prior to placing the pie in the oven.

10. Clean Baked on Food off Baking dishes

BBQ time is over and it’s time to clean up, Reynold

]s can help you there also! Use Reynolds Foil to scrub off baked on food instead of using steel wool. If you have food stuck to your baking dish or frying pan, wad a clean piece of foil into a ball, then use it with few drops of dishwashing liquid to scrub glass cookware clean.

Now here is the Salmon recipe I was talking about above. When I was a kid I had food poisoning from fish and since I have not been able to eat or really cook seafood but with foil packets I was able to easily make this for my husband and son. They loved the salmon this way!

Grilled Salmon Greek Pitas | Country Girl Gourmet

Grilled Salmon Greek Pitas

recipe from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (1 pound) fresh or frozen skinless salmon fillet
  •  1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  •  1 tablespoon olive oil
  •  1/4 teaspoon salt
  •  1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  •  1 lemon, thinly sliced6 Greek pita flatbreads
  • 2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup fresh cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 (5.3 ounce) container plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill weed

Directions

  1. Thaw fish if frozen. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Preheat grill to medium-high.
  2. Tear off an 18×18-inch sheet of Reynolds Wrap® Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil. Place onion in the center of the sheet. Top with salmon. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and black pepper. Top with lemon slices. Bring up foil sides. Double-fold top and ends to seal packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside.
  3. Stack flatbreads; wrap tightly in heavy duty aluminum foil.
  4. Grill salmon packet over medium-high heat in covered grill 12 to 14 minutes or until fish begins to flake when tested with a fork and vegetables are tender.
  5. Add the flatbread packet to the grill for the last 5 minutes of cooking to warm through, turning once. Remove all from grill.
  6. Open packets carefully by cutting along top folds with a sharp knife, allowing steam to escape. Then open top of foil. Discard lemon slices. Use two forks to pull the salmon apart into chunks.
  7. Assemble pita sandwiches by topping with the salmon, onions, lettuce, and tomatoes. Fold in half to serve. In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, basil, and dill. Serve over pita sandwiches.

Grilled Salmon Greek Pitas | Country Girl Gourmet

 

 

Looking for more great Reynolds recipes? Check out their webpage.

10 Uses for Reynolds Foil | Country Girl Gourmet

 

 

 

Cinnamon Vanilla Granola (Gluten Free)

I have been gluten free for 6 months now and one thing I have learned to do is read label well. There is often gluten in things that you wouldn’t think would have gluten. Many times it is easier to make your favorite store-bought foods so you can know exactly what is in what you are eating with the added bonus of it tasting better.   Granola is now on my list of foods to make myself instead of buy. I have wanted to make granola for a while now and it falls into the category of some are gluten free while other’s aren’t. It is also one of the foods I look at when I am grocery shopping but always put back saying I can make this at home. I am so glad that I finally made it. It is easy to make and taste even better. My family loved it too! We ate it plain and in yogurt parfaits with some fresh local blue berries I picked up at Gillis Hill Road Produce.

Cinnamon Vanilla Granola

Cinnamon Vanilla Granola

adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients
3 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups quick oats
1 cup chopped pecans (or sliced almonds or sunflower seeds)
1/2 cup ground flax meal
1 cup maple syrup, you can use less if desired but may have less clumping
2 tablespoons Mazola® Corn Oil
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
4 teaspoons ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup dried cranberries (or raisins or other dried fruit)

*note* Use real Maple Syrup not “pancake syrup” such as Log Cabin or Aunt Jemima.

Directions

  1. Combine old fashioned oats, quick oats, pecans and wheat germ in a large bowl. Combine maple syrup, oil, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl. Pour over oat mixture, stirring to coat. Spread mixture evenly on greased baking sheet.
  2. Bake at 300 degrees F for 50 to 60 minutes, stirring once midway through baking minutes, until oats are toasted.
  3. Remove from oven and stir in dried fruit. Cool in pan on wire rack. Store in airtight container.
  4. Serving suggestion: To make yogurt parfaits, layer 6 ounces vanilla yogurt, 1/2 cup mixed fresh or frozen fruit and 1/4 cup granola.

Inaugural Rock N Roll Raleigh Recap

I did it again! I ran another Half Marathon! So 2 Half Marathons for 2014 so far and my third half  all together. This time I ran the Inaugural Rock N Roll Raleigh Half Marathon.  I had heard good things about the Rock N Roll races and how some considered them better than the Run Disney races. This half marathon was my Christmas present from my husband. So after taking a few days off after the Disney Princess Half I was straight back into training mode.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

 

The Rock N Roll Marathon and Half had a expo on Friday, April 11 and Saturday April 12. I ended up going Saturday and brought my younger 2 with me.
Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

Ballon creations greeted us at the entrance of the expo and people were lined up taking their pictures with them. It was a short trip down the escalator  to the expo floor that we entered by walking under Rock n Roll Raleigh in balloons.

Packet pickup was quick and easy. You first picked up your number and walked around to where the shirts were. Also in this area were people handing out your gear check bag. There were no goodies or treats which was disappointing.

Before walking into the next area I was handed a coupon for Marathonfoto and some Starbucks via.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

The next area was a combined area where you could buy race memorabilia and Brooks stuff. Brooks also had their Run Happy Island set up. I got my “passport” and I won a t-shirt. If I had completed all 3 activities I could have won a bag too but my kids were ready to go after doing their kids scavenger hunt and winning frisbees.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

We walked around the floor. I bought some bigger water bottles for my fuel belt that I know I will need as the temps and humidity rise this summer. Compared to Disney this expo was small and really didn’t offer anything I was really excited to see or really want to buy.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

I spent the night at my parents, set my alarms and went to bed. The race was  to start at 7 and you needed your car parked by 6 so I planned to get to downtown Raleigh by 5:30am. My plan did not work as expected though. I should have been pulling into a parking garage at 5:30am but I was stuck in traffic. It took me over an hour to go a half mile. I began seeing more people walking on the side of the road. Even in the car in front of me the driver got out and left for the race and the passenger took over the driving. I was really worried if I was going to make it. Raleigh police eventually shut down the road to one lane and that helped some. I made it to where I was suppose to turn right just as they closed the road for the race. I had to turn left. If I had brought $10 cash there was a lot I could have  used but at the expo we were told the parking would be free so I didn’t bring any cash. So I drove on. Now I use to live in Raleigh, for decent segments of my life.  I even use to work off Wade avenue but it has been 15 years since I have lived and driven in downtown Raleigh. I sadly didn’t remember all the back ways and Siri is of no help in these cases. After driving my second circle around I somehow got lucky and found my way to the 5th floor of a parking garage with not even 5 minutes to the start. No time for any pre race rituals. I just grabbed my things and went.
Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

It was after the race I found out that race officials were post updates on the Rock N Roll Marathon Twitter. The race had been delayed by 10 minutes. I can only hope everyone who was trying to get to the race made it! There was an awfully long line of cars behind me that were also waiting.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

I ran/walked about a block or so and found my corral. These corrals were not as strict as Disney’s. they were open and anyone could go to whatever corral they wanted. No one was making sure people were in the proper corral. This made for some bobbing and weaving around people as the race started.
Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

I was just happy to be in the corral getting ready to run. While waiting I talked to a few ladies around me that were very kind. This was a huge difference when compared to the Disney race. I ran that race alone as well and not a single person said a word to me. This one was everyone saying good luck to each other and just talking to each other in general. Even if it was to complain about the horrible traffic.


Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet The race started and as the corrals would go we made our way around the block to the start. There were plenty of port potties and you could easily jump out of line and go if needed. Heck you could have grabbed a hot dog off the cart on the corner if you were hungry.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

Before I knew it we were off. It was a tough course with a ton of hills and more up hill than downhill. At least it seemed that way. For the first 6 miles I stayed ahead of the 2:45 pace group but someone throwing water on me and the hills slowed me down that mile and I wasn’t able to catch back up to them. I really don’t remember the hills in Raleigh being so steep but they are. I did it though, I finished! Under 3 hours and setting a PR for myself.  Mad at myself for losing the pacer but it was a tough race. In the end finishing matters, not your time.
The course support was just as it was stated it was going to be despite the warm temps and 94% humidity (according to my Garmin). Thankfully I wore my fuel belt but I ended up refilling it at the 10 mile stop. The stops offered cold water and yellow gatorade at each stop and Gu around mile 8. They had flavors other than the ones they said they would be handing out. I got lucky and was given my favorite, Salted Caramel.
The bands along the course weren’t the best and some were better than others. The absolute best was the marching band playing atop a bridge. The worst was a female singer around maybe mile 6 and her tired, slow song. I enjoyed the bystanders that set up and played music more than the bands.  Thankfully I was running with my iPhone and using the one ear piece.
I do have to say the bystanders at the race were great! We were running on Palm Sunday and I was even blessed by a priest as I ran by a church.  There was even a couple who had just gotten married and many great signs and for those who like it, a lot of cowbell. More cowbell than I have ever heard during a race.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

I finished strong and running. Knowing I had PR’ed added to the moment and I felt pretty awesome. After I finished we were given our medals and then a cold wet rag which was awesome. Next they were handing out bottles of water, gatorade and chocolate milk. My hands were full! A little further I found food. First there were Power bars but having never tried them I asked if they were gluten free and they didn’t know so I skipped them. Along with the cookies and pizza, again I couldn’t get a clear answer on if they had any that were gluten free. I was then offered a banana  which I passed up thinking I would just grab something from a food truck.
I was starting to cramp a bit in my calves  so I decided it would be best to find my car and go before I completely cramped up.
I was skipping the free cup of Michelob Ultra  (again it isn’t Gluten free) and concert by New Politics. I had never really heard of them anyways.
Overall except for the traffic problems it was a pretty good race. I am interested in maybe trying another Rock n Roll Race. I am just not sure I want to brave another half in Raleigh with it’s killer hills.
Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

So here are my race “goodies”.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmetand we can’t forget my well earned medal!

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

 

6 ingredient Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Sausage

This month with Allrecipes  we are working with one of my favorite brands, Johnsonville Sausage. Right now they have a great sweepstakes going on that centers on “Easy Weeknight Dinners with Six ingredients.” They want all of you awesome Pinterest users to find recipes that you would be made better with their awesome sausage products. All you need to do is pin any recipe with 6 or fewer ingredients, tag it with the hashtag phrase #6IngredientsOrLess with #JohnsonvilleSausage, then register the pin URL(s)  HERE for a chance to win an awesome Simply Calphalon skillet. Sounds easy huh? Well it is! Unfortunately for me but good for you I cannot enter the contest but I was challenged to find a recipe to remake and make. I remade Allrecipes Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Cubed Ham subbing Italian sausage for the cubed ham. I wanted a recipe that would work with my gluten free diet and wasn’t the traditional italian fair that most associate with italian sausage. This recipe fit the bill and my family loved it! Then again what is there not to love about Johnsonville sausage, mashed potatoes and cheese!

What would you make with Johnsonville Sausage with 6 ingredients or less?

 

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Italian Sausage | Country Girl Gourmet

 

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes and Italian Sausage

adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 5 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound  italian sausage, browned and grease drained (I used ground but sliced links would work well also)

Directions

Place potatoes into a large pot and cover with salted water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain. Transfer potatoes to a bowl; add butter, garlic powder, and parsley. Mash with a potato masher. Stir in Cheddar cheese and sausage.

Johnsonville Amazing Muffin Cups

Easter is almost here! Although it is later this year how can it be that it is time for Easter already? I know many people who are having their oh crap moments and wondering what are they going to do for the day.  From putting together Easter baskets to planning Easter Brunch and dinner. This year I can say I am thankful for Johnsonville Sausage.  If you have read some of my other social media postings  then you may already know that my family loves Johnsonville Sausage. It is seriously some awesome sausage.  Well, I have discovered yet again another Johnsonville recipe that my family loves and it is perfect for Easter brunch! Johnsonville’s Amazing Muffin Cups are the perfect addition to any Easter brunch. They have a base of hash browns that are topped with sausage, cheese, red pepper, green onions and eggs. Sounds pretty good, huh?  Add some fresh fruit and you are all set to go with an amazing Easter brunch.

Amazing Muffin Cups | Country Girl Gourmet

 

Amazing Muffin Cups

from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 12 links Johnsonville® Original breakfast sausage
  • 3 cups frozen country style shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups shredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • chopped fresh chives or green onion

Directions

  1. Prepare sausage according to package directions. cool slightly and cut into 1/2-inch pieces; set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine hash browns, butter, salt and pepper; divide evenly into 12 greased muffin cups. Press mixture onto sides and bottom of muffin cups.
  3. Bake at 400F for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven, divide sausage pieces into muffin cups.
  4. In a bowl, combine eggs, cheese and bell pepper. Spoon mixture evenly into muffin cups. Sprinkle with chives or onion. Return to oven, bake 13-15 minutes or until set. Serve.

Amazing Muffin Cups | Country Girl Gourmet

Homemade Carpet Cleaner

 Last week in the early hours of the morning my husband was getting ready for work and accidentally spilled his coffee. He did put a towel on it and soak it up some but he didn’t have time to clean it properly. When I came down later that morning I saw the towel and spill and planned to clean it up as soon as I got the kids all on the bus to school. It became one of those days where things just were not going as planned and when the kids got home the spot was still there and remained there until today. With 4 kids and 3 dogs messes are not uncommon and I have a little green machine to spot treat as well as a full size steam cleaner. We have light colored carpet that I have grown to hate because it is a dirt magnet so cleaning carpets happens on a semi regular basis around here. The only problem is I have yet to find a cleaning solution that works well. I have used different store-bought solutions hoping each one was better than the next but I never found one that got my carpets really clean. I then started trying different DIY solutions that I found by Googling or by Pinterest.  Want to know what happened when I put solutions with dawn dish soap in my carpet cleaner? Bubble-geddon, that is what. It was a combo of bubbles coming out of the machine and dumping the dirty water container because it wasn’t full of dirty water but soap bubbles. While it took longer my carpet was cleaner than when using the different store- bought solutions but I wasn’t thrilled with the results. Back to the internet I went searching for a solution. While searching for a solution I repeatedly read that soap leaves behind residue that attracts dirt! My journey then became how to clean my carpet without detergent. What I found were different combinations of borax, oxyclean, hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar, fabric softener, baking soda and hot water. So I experimented and found a combination that worked well and is now my go-to                              Homemade Carpet Cleaner.

After cleaning up an almost week old black coffee stain with ease I knew this was the homemade carpet cleaner for me!

Homemade Carpet Cleaner | Country Girl Gourmet

Homemade Carpet Cleaner

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Baking Soda
  • 1/2 cup Hydrogen Peroxide (3%, This is what you find at the drugstore/Walmart/Target,etc.)
  • 1 cup White Vinegar
  • Hot Water

Directions

  1. In the clean water tank of your carpet cleaner add baking soda, peroxide and vinegar. Add hot tap water to the fill line. After closing tank gently shake to make sure your your solution is thoroughly mixed.
  2. Pretreat stains as needed and follow your carpet cleaner’s instructions for cleaning.

Happy Cleaning!

Simple Savory Pork Roast

Some of the best things in life are simple. This goes for food too. There is just something about when simple ingredients combine creating something that is just spectacular.My favorite pork roast recipe falls into this category. It is delicious and simple but fancy enough for a special meal. It would be perfect for  Easter dinner, Sunday dinner or just a Tuesday night. Try it for yourself and see how wonderful simple can be.

Simple Savory Pork Roast | Country Girl Gourmet

Simple Savory Pork Roast

adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
  • 2 garlic cloves,minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 3 pounds boneless pork loin roast
  • approx 2TB olive oil

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a resealable plastic bag, mix rosemary, garlic, salt, thyme, and pepper. Place pork roast that has been drizzled with olive oil in the bag, seal, and toss until thoroughly coated. Place pork roast in a medium baking dish that has been drizzled with olive oil.

3.Cook pork roast covered for 45 minutes and then uncovered for 15 minutes.The pork roast is done when the internal temperature is 145 degrees for medium  or 160 for well done. It is ok for pork to be a bit pink.

Check out THIS chart for helpful pork cooking times.