I had a busy day on Saturday.
We hosted a birthday party for my mom in the evening, which involved making 6 homemade pizzas, plus some chocolate syrup to serve with the ice cream and these brownies, which I had made on Friday. My Aunt Bonnie brought an amazing salad with spinach, strawberries, candied pecans, feta cheese, and a fabulous dressing.....and Anna pitched in with a fruit platter of orange slices and grapes.
We dined well.
It was nice to end the day with such a lovely time...since the morning was......well, challenging.
A couple of months ago, I got the urge to sign up for a 5K. I have never been a runner or even enjoyed running remotely. I played basketball and volleyball in high school and tolerated the running those required because I loved the sports, but I truly always hated running.
The realization hit me a few years ago that people who are really runners are never overweight. They always look great - and they usually are just super healthy people. I figured that if I started running occasionally, it would be a good variation from the exercise DVDs I was accustomed to doing. We bought a used treadmill from Grant's brother and I used that exclusively. Very convenient in any weather and I could pop in a video for the kids to keep them busy. I still disliked running but I did like making progress.
Pregnancies took a big toll on me and I ended up with some recurring knee issues, so my running was never as consistent or my achievements as quick as I wanted.
Then we moved and my exercise routine went out the window for a few months while we were settling in and dealing with various illnesses. Finally, I started back up my twice a week runs on the treadmill and worked up to running 3 miles in 30 minutes. I decided that I would be much more motivated to keep running if I signed up for a real race. I thought that early May would be perfect timing - not too cold, not too hot...you know, because I wasn't used to running outside and didn't want to deal with any extreme elements.
My sister Anna signed up with me - so we could race together.
I started training outside about 4 weeks ago, running on a paved trail near our house. I quickly discovered that running outside is significantly harder than the treadmill.....wind resistance and hills and all that. But race day was soon approaching and I had to get those runs in - at least three a week.
Last Wednesday, we had 80° weather. Friday, there was an inch of snow on the ground when we got up.
Saturday, the big race day, we had a lovely 35° morning, with a wind chill a few degrees colder. Oh, and we can't forget the snow. The constant, light drizzle we had on the drive over there turned to huge snowflakes that soaked into our clothes and pelted us in the eyes while we ran. Seriously. This is Arkansas on May 4th, not North Dakota.
My face nearly froze off. I couldn't even talk for minutes after the race because my lips were so numb. But we finished, with a grand time of 30:37. Anna could have finished faster.....she stuck with me as I walked up part of the looooonnnngggg hill near the end of the route. I actually ran the route a minute and a half faster a few days earlier (you know, back in normal spring weather), but running in winter conditions was entirely new to me. I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to cold.
So on to the brownies. Mom didn't want the usual cake for her birthday - she requested this specific recipe, which she got from a friend years ago. I have no idea where the original is from.
They're rich, chewy, and super easy to make, and a great ending to a 5K day....or pretty much any day.
Oh yeah, and they're killer with some vanilla ice cream and homemade chocolate syrup.
1 German Chocolate Cake Mix (I used Duncan Hines)
2/3 cup butter, melted
1 (5 oz ) can evaporated milk, divided use
14 oz bag caramels
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 2 cups)
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350°.
Unwrap caramels, place in a medium sauce pan and add 1/4 cup evaporated milk. Set aside.
Mix cake mix, melted butter, and remaining milk (by hand, using a fork) in a bowl.
Spread 1/2 of dough mixture in a lightly greased 13 x 9" pan. It will look like you won't be able to cover the bottom of the pan, but just press it in thinly.
Bake 10-12 minutes and remove from oven. Let cool a little - slightly warm to touch.
While dough is baking, melt caramels and 1/4 cup evaporated milk on the stovetop. (Alternately, you can melt them in a bowl in the microwave on low for 2-3 min - stir and check consistency - repeat for 2-3 minutes on low until smooth).
Pour melted caramel sauce on top of baked dough. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and pecans.
Drop remaining dough by teaspoons full on top. It probably won't completely cover the top.
Bake until the cake portion is dry (15-20 minutes).
Cool and serve.