Thursday, May 30, 2013

It is official - I am running the 2013 ING New York City Marathon

WOW......

The ING New York City Marathon is a very prestigious event. One that only allows a certain amount of runners to enter on time (I will never be that runner) while offering a lottery to other participants in 3 categories - 1) NY residents 2) US residents 3) International residents. All lottery participants are selected via random.org. As one could imagine, many get denied. One night, after a few too many glasses of wine, I entered said lottery. From the moment I entered, I had a crazy feeling that I would get in. I just knew deep down inside that the NYC Marathon was in my future. Yesterday the lottery took place and I stressed all day. As of 5:00pm, my email was empty and no financial transactions occurred. I was sad....

At 5:30pm as I was sitting on my couch, I received text from Chase Bank: A $255.00 debit card transaction to NEW YORK ROAD RUNNER on 05/29/2013 5:32:22 PM EDT exceeded your $125.00 set Alert limit. (I get alerts on anything over $125 to make me feel guilty about spending money).

I screamed, I jumped, I scared the crap out of my cat, who is still hiding in my closet. I, Megan Michelle Wood, am running the 2013 ING New York City Marathon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Holy Crow......Here's the fun part - this prestigious event will be my first full marathon. I am a girl that dreams big - what can I say. 

My training for the Dopey Challenge was to kick off in July but I am going to start this weekend. This will put me perfectly on track to run the full marathon on November 3rd. Check out the ING New York City Marathon Course below - I see many visits to my hometown of Daytona Beach to do bridge runs over the next few months. 

I'M RUNNING THE NEW YORK CITY MARATHON!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

2013 New York Marathon - the suspense is killing me

UPDATE - I AM IN! This girl is running the NYC Marathon!!!!
I want to run this ↑
On April 24, my friend Darlynn called me on her way home from an event she attended. We were a few days away from going on her Bacherlorette weekend in Savannah. I had a few glasses of wine in me and  casually mentioned that the New York Marathon lottery started that day. Within 10 minutes, I found myself logging into NYRR.org and entering the lottery for the 2013 ING New York City Marathon. Never in my life would I think those words would come out of my mouth.
Fast forward 5 suspenseful weeks later. Today is the day for the lottery selection. I have been sitting in suspense since I woke up this morning and stalking ING New York Marathon's Facebook Page. I had insomnia last night and checked my email non-stop. I learned this morning that the lottery kicks off at 12pm. My friend Shannon also entered the lottery and we were joking about how often we are checking our email accounts today. Every single time I get a text, my heart skips a beat. Thanks Chase for your text alerts of anything charged over $125. Is that stopping me from checking my email every 10 seconds? No.

How much longer can this go on, it's nearly 4pm? I am driving myself insane. Why not drive myself even crazier and play some more Candy Crush to try and beat this stupid board which is the demise of me? At least I am not the only one who is finding this new found addiction taking over my life. Check out this post from Bell on Wheels for a good laugh.

Cross your fingers that I post again with some good news!

Ybor City's Samurai Blue Sushi & Sake Bar

Living in Ybor City has it's benefits. One of the best things about being located two blocks from 7th Ave. is the ability to multiple restaurants and not have to worry about driving home. I am frequently asked what my favorite restaurant in Ybor is and honestly, the answer changes on my mood. We have so many great restaurants that I cannot choose just one.

Three summers ago, when Gabe decided to attend USF for his Masters, I joined him to check out the city. Prior to that trip, the only times I had been to Tampa was going to Busch Gardens or a Bucs game. On our way back to Daytona, we stopped in Ybor City to grab dinner. Craving sushi, we ended up at Samurai Blue Sushi & Sake Bar. I would have never imagined that a year later, we would be Ybor City residents, still frequenting Samurai Blue, a gorgeous restaurant with high brick ceilings, located in the historic Centro Ybor.
We always order 2-3 rolls, accompanied by Crab Rangoons. I have never had a bad meal at Samurai Blue and we love bringing out of town guests here. The sushi is always amazing and beautifully presented. I strongly encourage a date night here, followed by a movie or a visit to the Ybor Wine Bar. Here are some of our favorite items from my favorite sushi bar!

Volcano Roll: There is tuna inside of this Volcano Roll! Topped with slices of avocado and Conch. While I find the conch a little chewy for my personal taste, overall this is a delicious roll and one of the items we frequently order.   

Hawaiian Roll: This is the perfect roll to a new sushi eater. While I prefer raw rolls, the Hawaiian Roll is one of the best tempura based rolls I have ever had. Tempura shrimp, mango, coconut, cream cheese and asparagus, topped with macadamia nuts. Yes Please!

Lobster Roll: If you are in the mood for an amazing roll - order the Lobster Roll. Inside sits tuna and crab and on top is delicious tempura Lobster. This is one of our favorites if we are in the mood for some tempura. 

Tokoyo Roll: I am borrowing this photo from my friend Leslie (www.leslie-floyd.com) as mine was too dark and grainy. Tuna and Yellowtail in one roll. Hello Lover!

Crab Rangoons: We never start a meal at Samurai Blue without an order of crispy and delicious crab rangoons. Hand down the best I have ever had in my life. Made with Lump Crab, Cream Cheese & Chives in a Crispy Wonton Wrapper, you cannot go wrong.
Cakebread Chardonnay by the glass!! Yes, you heard me correct. It is very rare to find a restaurant who serves my favorite Chardonnay by the glass. Priced right too. I never go to Samurai Blue without getting a glass of my favorite "juice".

Samurai Blue at Centro Ybor on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ryan Wells Foundation - Evening with the Chefs

Last week, I had the honor of attending the 8th annual Ryan Wells Foundation Evening with the Chefs, voted Best Culinary Event 2011 & 2012 by Tampa Bay Magazine. There was no question as to why this event took away that honor the past two years. This night celebrates the life of Ryan Wells and showcases Pinellas Counties top restaurants and chefs. The Ryan Wells Foundation fulfills the dreams of young high school students aspiring to become chefs as Ryan Wells had planned. Since its formation in 2005, The foundation has awarded 82 scholarships to Pinellas County students amounting to over $424,000. Twelve students were awarded culinary scholarships the night of the event:
2013 Scholarship recipients 
We entered the Sheraton Sand Key Resort and were greeted by student chefs passing hors d’oeuvres which they prepared. Meanwhile, there were two live student cooking demonstrations. The room was full of attendees bidding on silent auction items, everything from vacations to sports memorabilia.

Live Cooking Demonstrations
Passed hors d'oeurves
After enjoying a few appetizers along with wine and cocktails, we found our way to the dining area where nine executive Chefs were preparing amazing dishes for the crowd to enjoy. We found a table closest to the dessert area where I had to practice self control.  William Dean Chocolates had a table full of their handmade artisan treats along with a macaroon table including my favorite, a Salted Caramel macaroons...Swoon! Some of the students hand painted the chocolates which we absolutely enjoyed. William Dean Chocolates on Urbanspoon
Macaroon Tree
Various Desserts by William Dean Chocolates
The entrees of the evening were amazing. Each chef had student chefs assisting them. One of my favorites of the evening was from Café Ponte, a Short Rib and Sous Vide Heart of Rib Eye, Mustard Pomme Puree, Red Wine Salsify, Cognac Truffle Sauce. It was simply amazing and reminds me that I need to make another visit to Café Ponte soon. Cafe Ponte on Urbanspoon
Cafe Ponte
Up next was a dish that was almost too beautiful to eat, but I am glad I did. Guppy’s on the Beach presented us with Petite Lamb Chop with Mustard and Herb Crust, Mint Studded Spring Pea Puree, Port Reduction Seared Sea Scallop, Crispy Asiago White Polenta, Wild Mushroom Cream, Duck Bacon Guppy's on the Beach on Urbanspoon
Guppy's
Rusty’s Bistro at Sheraton Sand Key Resort made an Argentinian Shrimp Skewer with Warm Tri-color Potato-corn Salad and Chimichurri sauce. The chimichurri sauce was perfect!! Rusty's Bistro at Sheraton Sand Key Resort on Urbanspoon
Rusty's Bistro
Island Way Grill had amazing flavor with their Pan Seared Fresh Catch with Orange-Ginger Reduction, Crab Basmati Rice drizzled with Cilantro Oil Island Way Grill on Urbanspoon


Another stand out dish of the night was from Parkshore Grill who made a Niman Ranch Porchetta with Organic Garden Salad Parkshore Grill on Urbanspoon
Parkshore Grill
Palm Court Italian Grill at TradeWinds Resort made a beautiful Braised Beef Agnolotti topped with a seared Sea Scallop, Veal Jus, Garlic Truffle Emulsion, Rosemary Oil Palm Court Italian Grill on Urbanspoon


Mystic Fish presented us with a Seared Ground Lamb & Beef Rubbed with Greek Spice, Cucumber Yogurt, Sautéed Peppers and Onion, Wood Grilled Octopus with Grape Tomatoes, Lemon, Olives, Micro Greens Mystic Fish Seafood Grill on Urbanspoon

Finally, Caretta on the Gulf at Sandpearl Resort made a stunning Lady Liberty Genoise Baton, Chocolate Marquis, Praline Crunch Caretta on the Gulf on Urbanspoon



This was a perfect night. We enjoyed amazing food from top restaurants in Pinellas County while witnessing 12 aspiring chefs dream come true by being rewarded with a culinary scholorship. I applaud the Ryan Wells Foundation and encourage anyone in the Bay area to attend this event next year. It's a great opportunity to dine at various restaurants who are showcasing some of their top entrees while helping out an amazing foundation. Click here to learn more about the Ryan Wells Foundation and how you can help out.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Skinny Pineapple Slaw for #SundaySupper Picnic

One of the things I love most about Memorial Day is having cookouts and picnics. This weeks Picnic themed Sunday Supper is hosted by Katy from Happy Baking Days. We have an amazing lineup of options for you to bring to your Memorial Day cookout tomorrow!

As long as I can remember, my Mom has always made a healthy and fruity version of coleslaw. I love it and could eat it for days. We never have a get together during the summer without a big bowl of this on the the table. The great thing about this recipe is you can improvise. Add baby shrimp for a seafood twist or give it an asian flair with the addition of ginger and cilantro, the options are endless. I like to use flavored Greek Yogurt in place of mayonnaise. Pineapple and Lime work very well and it is a much healthier option.

For the Apples, Carrots and Cabbage, I use my Food Processor slicer disk to get equal consistency and size of my slaw. I top the slaw with carrot zest for a little color. If your slaw is too tart, you can add more pineapple juice. If it is too sweet, you can add more apple cider vinegar.

Pineapple Cole Slaw
(Serves 8-10)
6 cups shredded cabbage
1 carrot, shredded
1/3 cup Flavored or Plain Greek Yogurt
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon celery salt
½ cup fresh pineapple, diced plus reserved pineapple juice
1 cup apples - any variety
2 key limes (or 1 lime) juiced
2 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
¼ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Cilantro or parsley garnish (optional)

In a food processor with the slicer blade, shred the cabbage, apples and carrots, place in a large bowl with a lid. In a separate bowl, whisk the yogurt, vinegar, celery salt. Pour mixture over cabbage mixture and toss together. Add pineapple, lime juice and sugar and salt, toss thoroughly to mix well. Add pineapple juice to taste.

Check out what the rest of the #SundaySupper team is making for their Memorial Day Picnics!

Salads and Slaws:

Sandwiches and Mains:

Desserts:

Drinks:

You can join us tonight at 7:00pm EST for our #SundaySupper twitter chat, where we will be sharing picnic recipes and tips. To join in, just follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, and remember to include it in your tweets. You can also check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more delicious recipes and photos.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Grilled Corn with Goat Cheese, Ogio Pinot Grigio

Corn on the cob is a summer staple. There is nothing better in my mind that a grilled caramelized ear of corn and it would be the perfect side item to your Memorial Day BBQ. I used goat cheese as the topping for my grilled corn on the cob but you can also make Grilled Corn Cojita, the traditional method of this recipe.  Both are a delicious topper to sweet corn.

This recipe is for 6 ears of grilled corn - do not remove the husks
Pre-Heat your grill to medium

Carefully peel back the husks to remove as much silk as you can. Pull the husks back up and soak for 30 minutes.
Wrap the soaked corn with a 1" wide piece of aluminum foil around the center to keep the husks intact while grilling.

Grill your corn for 40 minutes - 10 minutes each side, rotate 4 times.

While your corn is grilling, make your topping, mix in a bowl and store in the fridge until your ready to use it.:
6 tablespoons plain non fat Greek yogurt
1-2 medium garlic clove, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cayanne pepper or red pepper

Topping for after grilling:
3/4 cup of Crumbled Goat Cheese
1 lime, cut into 6 wedges

After removing your corn from the grill, pull back your corn husks to use as a handle while eating. Use a pastry brush to evenly spread out the mixture onto the corn pieces. Top with crumbled goat cheese and sprinkle with lime juice right before eating.

This is a very versatile side dish and would go excellent with pretty much anything. We kept a Mexican themed dinner and had Lime Cilantro chicken with mango salsa. I did not take a photo due to the fact the marinade turned my chicken green! It was delicious though.

The sweetness and heat of our meal paired perfect with a bottle of OGIO Pinot Grigio. It's a medium-bodied Pinot Grigio that pairs well with fresh seafood and white meats. It's a rare wine which compliments Mexican, Thai, and other spicy ethnic foods, which is why it was a home run with our dinner! OGIO Pinot Grigio is crafted from only the finest grapes harvested in Italy’s delle Venezie region, primarily in the flatlands along the Adriatic coast northeast of Venice. Dating back to the early 1900’s, the third-generation winery is still family owned and embraces both longstanding Italian winemaking tradition and modern winemaking techniques.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Running Cross Fit? #livewithfire

So I have ran 5 half marathons in less than 6 months. In 2003, I was an avid Yogi and was a substitute instructor a few times (how was that 10 years ago?). I am not cocky with fitness but I feel that I can do any challenge presented to me. I push myself to limits I never thought were possible........
Then I was introduced to a personal trainer named Jimmy Meyers, owner of Art of Strength in Tampa. One who in a mere thirty minutes, pushed me past what I thought was my physical limit. Maybe I drank too much wine the night before.

This is an embarrassing post due to my photos but I feel I have to share the real me, not the one who is photo shopped to look pretty - this is me in a bad form and unbalanced.

I entered the studio decked out in my matching Reebok Gear; Zig Carbon sneakers, Yoga Long Bra Top (built in bra - score!) and PWR Legging. I love every aspect of my Reebok apparel. My leggings were long enough for my 5'10" frame. The long bra top was perfect for my physique. Not to mention, the shoes - I have been stopped 10+ times on the street about those shoes. They are so cute!!!!!!!!!

Never in a million years did I think I would be posting a photo of me with ropes - yet here I am. I HATE ROPES. Keep in mind, this was my first attempt at anything like this - so my formation may not be spot on but I am a first timer - DON'T JUDGE!



To say Jimmy kicked my butt is an understatement. I hurt for days after my small 30 minute introductory at Art of Strength. I have no idea how you cross fitters do it but I have a new admiration for all of you. Jimmy explained the importance of where I need to focus my training on over the next 8 months for my upcoming Dopey Challenge. It's so much more than distance running - I need to include equal amounts of strength and core training. 

Speaking of core -- apparently mine is non-existent. I got up on this contraption thinking I could easily do this elevated lunge, to only fall multiple times - Jimmy caught one photo in action. I look like a ninja turtle in action. Cowabunga dude! 

After every slip, I got better. I finally got into a formation which held for a matter of seconds. Looking at the photos, it doesn't look any better than my ninja turtle pose, but hey - I did it and that is all that matters
I strongly encourage any runner to seek out someone like Jimmy for training. I will surely be back multiple times to get geared up for Dopey. If you are located in Tampa, Art of Strength is located at 13740 McCormick Drive, Tampa, FL 33626. Jimmy has trained a high caliber of athlete which you can read about here.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar’s Small Plates, Big Pours Returns

Last year, Flemings Prime Steakhouse launched my ideal dining experience - small plates and big pours. For $24.95, you can pick between 7 amazing dishes, paired with one of Flemings seven premium 9oz Big Pours, each carefully selected by our Director of Wine, Maeve Pesquera, to guarantee the perfect pairings.

Tampa's lineup is as follows:
Sliced Filet Mignon - Merlot, Esk Valley
Colossal Shrimp Skewers - Pinot Gris, Villa Wolfe
New Zeland Petite Lamp Chops - Petite Sirah, Parducci
Braised Short Ribs of Beef - Cabernet, B.R. Cohn
Seared Ahi Tuna - Pinot Nior, A to Z Wineworks
New Bedford Scallops - Savignon Blanc, Hanna
Flemings Lobster Tempura - Chardonnay, Fransiscan Estate

As much as I love food, I don't have a huge appetite so the small plate, big pour is an ideal dinner for me. I can get a large glass of wine with a perfectly portioned plate of amazing food. Before I start my review of this amazing dinner, I have to state the photos below are all propriety rights of Flemings as my laptop has once again ruined my memory card with all of my personal photos of this dinner. If any computer specialist can help me, please email me....this is my second memory card and the second laptop this has happened to within 3 months.

For our Small Plates and Big Pours Dinner, I opted for the Seared Ahi Tuna, paired with Pinot Noir (A to Z Wineworks, Oregon). My tuna was cooked to perfection with a spicy rub. It was paired with a vegetable slaw salad. It was delicious and I would absolutely come back and order this again. I have dined at Flemings multiple times. Aside from two events there, this was my first time personally ordering a seafood dish at Flemings. I couldn't be happier for my ordering decision.
Gabe ordered the Sliced Filet Mignon paired with Merlot, (Esk Valley, Gimblett Gravels, New Zealand).  The Filet was atop a mushroom risotto cake and had a delicious spicy drizzle. Gabe talked about this dish the entire way home and I have to see if I can bribe Flemings chef for the spicy reduction recipe.
 My friend Rachel (Runners Tales)  opted for the Tempura Lobster with a soy ginger sauce paired with Chardonnay (Franciscan Estate, Napa Valley). First - this dish was 100% larger than anyone at the table was expecting. Second - it was beyond delicious. The ginger soy sauce was a perfect companion and is well worth a second or third or fourth visit to Flemings for Small Plates, Big Pours.....
And finally, last but not least - my friend Leslie (Dash of Les) ordered the Braised Short Ribs of Beef paired with Cabernet (B.R. Cohn, Silver Label, North Coast). I love a good short rib and this was exactly that.
Overall, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar’s Small Plates is the perfect excuse for a cheap date night or a fun girls night out. I strongly encourage you to check it out while it's here.


While you are at Flemings, make sure you take a peek at Fleming’s WiNEPAD™, a program created just for Flemings. If you ever find yourself in a "what glass/bottle of wine should I order" predicament, Flemings has created a fix for that. You can easily navigate the restaurant’s extensive wine list (at your table or at the bar)  and tell the WiNEPAD what you want to eat - it will then suggest wines. Or you can play "Spin the Bottle" which will do just that - randomly suggest a bottle of wine to your table. The application was developed by National Wine Director Maeve Pesquera, and the brand’s National IT Training Coordinator Craig Sheppard. Pretty genius if I do say so myself.

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon