Happy Cinco de Mayo, which turns out, is NOT Mexico’s Independence Day, rather it’s a holiday/excuse for binging on chips & guac, being hungover at work on Seis de Mayo, and spending too much time thinking up bad taco puns (see above)! I love holidays that we totally ignore the real purpose of and instead focus on the finer things in life – the food and drinks. Holidays like 4th of July, Thanksgiving, or most Jewish holidays. One of my favorite sayings accurately sums up about 99% of all Jewish holidays:
They tried to kill us, we won, LETS EAT! –-Ye Old Jewish Wives
On that note, I have a recipe that I LOVE that my mom always used to make for my family while I was growing up. It’s super easy, super delish, and goes very well with margaritas (which my mom did NOT make for the family while I was growing up).
Chicken Taco Casserole
1 pound ground chicken
a few cloves of garlic
1 small green pepper
1 small tomato
1 cup water
1 jar of taco sauce (whatever spiciness you like)
1 small can diced green chiles
1 can black olives
1 package taco seasoning
1 package of 12 taco shells
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In large pan, cook ground chicken, onion, garlic, green peppers, and tomato until the chicken is no longer pink. Add the water, taco sauce, green chiles, olives, and taco seasoning. Continue to cook for a few minutes.
Spray a baking dish. Crunch up 6 of the taco shells and add to dish. Cover the taco shells with half of the meat mixture, then layer on half of the cheese. Crunch up the other 6 taco shells and layer this on top, followed by the remaining meat mixture and remaining cheese. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
A Few Things to Note:
This is a delicious comfort food that EVERYONE will love, I dare you to find someone who doesn’t.
When I’m trying to be healthier (definitely not Cinco de Mayo), I use about half of the amount of cheese (don’t worry, its still delish), and throw way more vegetables in along with the green peppers and tomatoes.
You can adjust to your preferred level of spiciness by using the hot variety of taco sauce or adding jalepenos.
I first became interested in doing the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia for the same reason I sign up for any race.. for the free stuff you get at the end. One of my best friends, Caroline, has her mom’s Broad Street Run t-shirt from 1987 and it is the coziest tee you’ve ever had the pleasure of snuggling up in, so I was super excited to get my own BSR shirt, already dreaming of all the great naps I could take in it. When I got my race packet on Friday night, it turned out to not be quite as soft and cozy, but give it 28 more years of TLC and I’m sure it will have the same nap-inducing effect that Car’s has.
Sunday started with a 4:50 AM wake up call from the couch of my other best friend Caroline’s place (two best friends named Caroline, confusing right?). The weather was straight miserable outside, but since Caroline and her fiancé Phil had never run in a race before, they denied my pleas to skip the race and head straight to the bar instead. In addition to it being her first race, it was also Caroline’s birthday! What a way to start off your 27th year!
After some coffee and oatmeal, we were out of the house by 5:30 to make the 45 minute drive to Philadelphia. Unfortunately there’s no parking near the start of the race, so we parked at the sports complex (where the Eagles, Phillies, and Flyers play) and took a 30 minute subway ride to the start of the race. The subway was packed with other runners wrapped in ponchos, raincoats, and trashbags (the weather report was calling for rain ALL day!!). Luckily I had two ponchos and two raincoats in my car (freak accident, I swear I am never THAT prepared), so Caroline and I were all set to tackle the 10 miles in the rain….
We ended up standing out in the rain for almost TWO hours before our corral crossed the starting line, so we were all cold, soaked, and pretty miserable. Caroline was a total champ for doing this on her birthday… you don’t know how many times I casually suggested we skip the race and get mimosas instead (already suggested it twice in this post!)
When we finally started running, I have to admit, I was in a pretty lousy mood, as I hate being cold and wet and was wondering why in the hell I doing this to myself. My toes were numb and my shoes were soggy, and my teeth were chattering for the first two miles. However, after those first two miles, I started to warm up, feeling was coming back in my toes and fingers, and I started to get into my groove… I’m going to give credit to the super bumpin’ playlist I had made while lying on the couch the night before.
The race ended up FLYING by. The first five miles were packed with people, so I spent the whole time dodging around other runners, which took my mind off the fact that I was running and before I knew it, I was over half way finished with the race. I realized I still had tons of energy left, so I decided to pick up my pace for the last five miles. After you pass by City Hall (around mile 5-6), Broad Street widens (BROAD street– I get it now!!) into three lanes in both directions, and has a sizable median that divides the two directions of traffic. The whole street is closed down for the race, and most runners run on the actual street itself, on either side of the median. Not this girl, though. I ran straight down the median, which only a few other runners were on, which felt awesome and freeing, running amongst 40,000 other runners but still having the space all to myself. (Thinking back, maybe we weren’t supposed to be on the median? Oops…) It was still pouring rain, but at this point I didn’t mind it at all, and barely even noticed it.
Before I knew it, I was passing the stadiums (where we parked) and less than a mile away from The Navy Yard, where the finish was. It was the most crowded finish line I’ve ever seen at a race. Usually I have freedom to pick up the pace the last quarter mile, but I ended up spending the last straight away in a similar fashion to the first five miles… weaving in and out of other runners trying to find some space.
I crossed the finish line and was handed a foil wrap, my medal, and a Philly-themed bag of snacks… including a huge soft pretzel, which I clearly devoured instantly (#runhungry). My final time was 1:25 (8:30 pace), which was exactly what I was aiming for! I had said I was aiming for “below 1:30”, which every runner knows you have your goal pace that you say out loud, and then your OTHER goal pace, which you keep to yourself.
It took about 2 minutes post-pretzel-devouring to remember I was soaked, freezing, and had just thrown away my poncho in a post-race runner’s high. I made the half mile walk back to the car, met up with my boyfriend Gitis, and wandered around for WAY too long in the rain trying to find the car. We finally found it and I got inside, blasted the heat, changed into some dry clothes, and waited for the call from Caroline that she was finished – “I need a leg transplant” – before we headed off to celebrate Caroline’s birthday at brunch with a few (many) well deserved mimosas (straight champagne)!