Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Holidays Incoming!

That's honestly what I feel like "Duck and cover! The holidays are coming!" I love this time of year, with all the family gatherings, community events, and Halloween. Halloween is my all time favorite holiday!! Pics to come of my decorations, and my little Pixie as a raccoon!
But between my totally, completely, mind blowing-ly awesome Visalus Challenge (I've lost 10 pounds, thank you very much!!), keeping up with an active toddler, and trying to keep the rest of my life going, I spend just enough time at home to get 6-7 hours of sleep at night. That's about it! I get the chance to cook a few nights a week, thank goodness, and here's what I've cooked recently!

I made my Paleo Veggie Pasta, which is in my archive.
I also managed to cook up some
Mexican Beer Chicken
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. coconut flour
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 3"x3" sections (I was able to
      slice mine in half short ways and have it be about perfect)
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and minced
3/4 C. light colored beer
In bowl combine ingredients cumin through flour. Rub chicken on both sides with this spice mixture and set aside for 10-15 minutes.
Heat oil and butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and saute until golden on both sides, about 5-6 minutes per side (you may have to do this in batches). Set aside on a clean plate as you finish.
Use paper towels to soak up any extra oil in the skillet. Return chicken to pan, and add garlic, jalapeno, and beer.
Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for about 15 minutes, checking every 5 minutes, and turning to coat chicken evenly in sauce. At the end, it should look like a glaze.

I served mine with mashed white beans. But this is good with sweet potato fries, Spanish rice, or sauteed veggies.

Summer Veggie Tian
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 medium yellow onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
1 medium sweet potato
1 medium tomato
1 tsp dried thyme
to taste salt & pepper
1 C shredded Italian cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Finely dice the onion and mince the garlic. Saute both in a skillet with olive oil until softened (about five minutes).
While the onion and garlic are sauteing, thinly slice the rest of the vegetables.
Spray the inside of an 8×8 square or round baking dish with non-stick spray. Spread the softened onion and garlic in the bottom of the dish. Place the thinly sliced vegetables in the baking dish vertically, in an alternating pattern. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and thyme.
Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, top with cheese and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.

Paleo Biscuits and Gravy
6 large egg whites
1/4 C coconut flour
3/4 C blanched almond flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
dash of salt

1 lb. ground pork  

2 tsp salt  
1 tsp pepper  
2 tsp fresh sage leaves, finely chopped  
1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped  
1/4 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped  
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper

Sausage recipe
1 Tbsp almond flour
1 Tbsp. arrowroot powder
1 can coconut milk
2 tsp sage
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cayenne
1/2 C chicken stock (as needed)

In bowl, whisk egg whites until they are very frothy.
In separate bowl mix two flours and baking powder, and then with a knife cut in the coconut oil and salt. Your mixture will be crumbly.
Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Remove flour mix from fridge, and gently fold in egg whites, stirring to combine.
Spoon batter onto a greased baking sheet.
Bake 12-15 minutes, or until golden

Saute sausage in large skillet until completely cooked (sometimes I add a little bacon). 
Remove sausage from pan, saving about 2 Tbsp of drippings in the pan. 
Add almond flour and arrowroot powder to pan and whisk with fat over medium-low heat until a paste is formed.
Pour in about 1/4 of the coconut milk, the sage, paprika and cayenne. Increase to medium heat and stir often, making sure to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom.
Add remaining milk and bring to simmer.
Add sausage back in and continue to simmer, stirring often, until gravy reaches desired consistency. If gravy becomes to thick, thin with small amounts of stock.
Pour over biscuits.

Honestly...I don't know anyone who can make biscuits and gravy look "pretty" haha!

Went to my mama's house this Sunday for dinner, and I volunteered to make dinner there. Mom made a very nice Pesto over Zucchini and Mushrooms, and I made:

Goat Cheese Spinach Quinoa
1/4 cup quinoa
3 tablespoons olive oil 
2 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/3 cup grated goat gouda cheese

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the quinoa, and cook until the quinoa is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain in a mesh strainer, and rinse until cold; set aside. 
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, stir in the sunflower seeds, and cook until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. 
Stir in the garlic, and cook until the garlic softens and the aroma mellows, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cooled quinoa and spinach; cook and stir until the quinoa is hot, and the spinach has wilted. Stir in the lemon juice, and all but a pinch of the cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted. 
Serve sprinkled with the remaining cheese.

Sadly, Tuesday morning I started to feel a cold coming on. Just in time for my hubby to leave on a business trip for 4 days, and leave me alone with our healthy, rambunctious 2 year old!! So I decided I needed plentiful spicy foods to "burn it out"!! And spicy foods can come in so many varieties!
So that night I went the Mexican spicy route with
Mini Pepper Nachos
courtesy of one of my fav blogs: Closet Cooking
  • 2/3 cup black beans
  • 2/3 cup pico de gallo or your favourite salsa (I used my homemade salsa, which you can find in my 
  •       archive)
  • 1 medium avocado, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound mini peppers, halved and seeded
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup green onions or cilantro
Mix the black beans, pico de gallo and avocado and season with salt and pepper.
Arrange the peppers on a baking sheet, fill with the filling, sprinkle on the cheese and broil until the cheese has melted, about 2-4 minutes.
Serve garnished with green onions or cilantro.

Then last night I decided to go the spicy Indian route!!
Crockpot Indian Chola
2 cups of chickpeas soaked overnight (this is about 1 1/2 cans if you're using canned)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, minced
1 red bell pepper, minced
2 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
1-inch piece ginger, minced
1 14 oz can of coconut milk
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp curry powder
1.5 tsp mustard seeds (you can use ground mustard if you like, but only use half the amount)
2 tsp salt
Blend all the ingredients but chickpeas in a food processor or a blender until liquid. Wash and drain chickpeas, place them in crockpot, pour the blended mixture over and cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 4-5 (unless you have a nuclear crockpot like mine, in which case the Warm setting for 8-9 hours is sufficient. Low would cook it too much).
Serve warm with Naan.

A note on it is not Paleo, and rarely gluten free. However, I have tried making my own of both versions, and they just don't taste as good as traditional naan....use at your discretion.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Resigned Acceptance

That is the stage I have entered. I am just going to have to accept that I cannot blog every day like I used to. At least not at this current point in time. I just have way too much happening all the time to sit down for 20-30 minutes every day and write. So....if the posts are sporadic, I apologize, but they will be loaded with tasty items! :-)

For any of you readers who are involved backstage in theater productions, please forgive my misuse of this term...but last week was a "Hell Week" for me. Not in the least related to Hell Week in a theater...but I cannot really describe it any other way. Lots of (bad) personal stuff happening, and it was my poor baby Pixie's 3rd week of being sick!! First she was diagnosed with bronchitis; by the next week she hadn't improved, so I took her back, and she was diagnosed with a sinus infection and given Amoxicillin. The next week she was still being sent home from "school" with fevers of 103.2-104.6. So obviously the doctor and I had a very serious conversation (and pretty frustrated on my part). They did 2 strep tests, because Pixie's throat was quite red and swollen, but those came back negative. They determined that she picked up something else viral in addition to bronchitis and a sinus infection, and gave her a stronger antibiotic. So far that seems to be taking care of whatever was making her sick...but some of the diapers.....~shudders~ I won't even put you through that...
So....lots of frantic activity, and having to cuddle a clingy baby approximately every second, and I didn't get to cook a whole ton of food. But....I did manage to make a few meals so here they are!

Paleo Chicken and Creamed Spinach
1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 C almond or coconut flour
1/2 tsp tarragon
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt

1 lb frozen spinach
3/4 C coconut milk
3 cloves fresh garlic
1/2 tsp coconut flour
2 tsp EVOO
1 shallot, minced
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix all chicken ingredients, except the breasts, in a large ziploc bag.
Add in chicken , and toss to coat thoroughly.
Heat large oven proof skillet over medium-high heat, add in olive oil and heat until oil is smoking slightly.
Shake excess flour off chicken, and gently place in heated skillet. 
Sear 4-5 minutes each side, until nicely browned. 
Finish chicken in oven 10-12 minutes until cooked through.

Thaw spinach completely in colander, and squeeze out any remaining liquid by hand.
Heat small saucepan over medium heat; add coconut milk and 2 cloves of the garlic, pressed through a garlic press.
Whisk in the coconut flour, and stir until mixture is simmering slightly. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, and add shallot, remaining garlic, and paprika.
Cook until shallot is translucent, but be careful not to burn it.
Add spinach and coconut cream sauce, and simmer until everything is heated through.

I made my Cheeseburger Casserole one evening, and that is in my archive. So go look that one up again, it's always good!

Also made a ginormous batch of Chocolate Chili! I tweaked a few flavors to my preference from last time, but the recipe is also in the archive. Biggest batch of chili I've ever made haha.

Artichoke Dip Casserole
1 lb. chicken, cooked as you like (I had thighs that I breaded with almond flour and baked), cut into bite size pieces
16 oz. Gluten-free rotini pasta
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove excess liquid
1 1/2 C milk
2 14oz cans of quartered artichoke hearts
16oz prepared artichoke (or spinach artichoke) dip (I used a GF one from Trader Joe's)
1 8oz package of light cream cheese (plain or flavored, I used garden vegetable)
1 C. shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook pasta to al dente.
In large saucepan heat milk, but do not allow to boil. Stir in artichoke dip, until fully mixed and warm. 
Add 1 can of artichoke hearts and mix in. Then add cream cheese in tablespoon size dollops, a few at a time, until they are melted. Continue this process for all cream cheese.
Stir in spinach, and remaining artichoke hearts.
Stir in cooked chicken, and heat through.
Add sauce to drained pasta, then spread mix into a greased 9x13 baking dish.
Top with mozzarella cheese, and bake 15-20 minutes, until cheese is slightly golden.

Paleo Cheesy Grits with Homemade Paelo Breakfast Sausage and Eggs
4 C. riced cauliflower
1C. almond meal (not almond flour)
3 C. chicken or vegetable broth
1 C. shredded cheese of choice (I simply used cheddar)
salt and pepper

1 lb. ground pork
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
1/4 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper

4 large eggs

Combine riced cauliflower, almond meal, and chicken broth in large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until "grits" are thickened.
In meantime mix sausage ingredients, and form into round patties. Cook through, should be nicely browned on both sides.
Add cheese to grits, and mix until fully melted. Roughly chop sausage patties and mix into grits as well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cook eggs as desired, I prefer over medium with runny yolks.
Spoon grits into bowls, top with fried eggs. Mmmmmmmm.

And tonight's meal is not Paleo lol. Sometimes I have to go a little out of my Paleo box to keep Hubby happy. And since this recipe is freakin awesome (!!) I considered it justified.

Baked Gnocchi
1 lb store-bought gnocchi
8 oz bacon, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp smoked paprika
14oz can chopped (or diced) tomatoes
1Tbsp tomato paste
handful cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tsp sweetener of choice, I use Truvia
2-3 Tbsp Greek yogurt
large handful fresh parsley, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
3.5 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
In the meantime, in a large, hot frying pan, fry the bacon until starting to crisp with most of the fat rendered.
Pour off most of the fat then add the garlic and smoked paprika and fry for 30 seconds.
Add all of the tomatoes and the Truvia and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the yogurt, parsley and salt and pepper.
Cook the gnocchi in the salted water until it starts floating to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the sauce.
Transfer the gnocchi and sauce to an oven-proof dish and top with the sliced mozzarella.
Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes until the mozzarella is melted and golden.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Note: You can also use individual oven proof ramekins to bake each person has their own!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bad, Bad Blogger

Once again several days have attacked me at once, and I am very behind on this blog!
When did my schedule get so full? WHY did it get so full?! I kid you not, our evenings have been full of doing things, and getting home at 9 at night, rushing the baby into bed, and then passing out ourselves. *If* we've eaten dinner it has been Chick-Fil-A salads and wraps (hey...its probably the healthiest fast food), or whatever in the fridge hasn't grown a full head of hair yet. Plus, I was out of town a couple of days, so had to squeeze in grocery shopping during the week too! Whew....I'm loving my Challenge shakes, because if it weren't for them, I wouldn't have the energy to make it through! Haha.

Well, as I said, we have been able to actually be home a few nights, and Hubby is often all for relaxing and eating leftovers. But I (possibly because there's a smidge of insanity in there somewhere) absolutely have to cook some nights! I love cooking, I actually find it therapeutic, and it helps calm and center me. Plus, Hubby always thinks it was delicious. I apologize that there are no pictures for these. Hubby didn't prematurely eat the meal, the pics didn't get lost....I just completely spaced out taking any!! My bad.
I bring to you:

Chicken Parmesan Sliders (Makes 12)
12 ( 2 oz) square ciabatta rolls, toasted (I ate just the sliders, not on buns)
2 lbs. ground chicken breast
2 C. marinara sauce, divided
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 C. part-skim shredded mozzarella
¼ C. Parmesan cheese, grated

Combine chicken with 1 C. marinara, thyme, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Form into 12 small burgers.
Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray. Cook burgers most of the way through on first side. Flip and cook another few minutes, until starting to feel firm. Top with mozzarella, reduce heat, cover until cheese melts.
Toast ciabatta rolls in an oven heated to 350 degrees (or on a medium heat grill). Cut rolls open, place burgers on each roll, top with remaining marinara and Parmesan cheese.

Then I was still on an Italian kick apparently, because I wanted lasagna. I love lasagna. In my opinion you just cannot go wrong with pasta, spicy sausage, and copious amounts of gooey melted cheese. Which is why I am still a bit (though not as much as before) of a fatass :-) Plus...lasagna takes *forever* to cook! And I don't have that kind of time, nor patience when I am starving at the end of a long day. to make this quick, easy, and a little healthier.....

Skillet Lasagna
1 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 C mushrooms, chopped (I had some beautiful portabellas from the farmer's market, so mine was a bit more mushroom-y than average)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. spicy Italian sausage, ground
2 (14.5 oz) cans Italian diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 C tomato sauce
3 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 C skim ricotta cheese
1/2 C part skim mozzarella cheese
3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
About 6 oz lasagna noodles, broken into thirds & fully cooked (I used Gluten Free noodles from Tinkyada)
2 Tbsp parsley (dried or fresh)

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sausage and cook until browned. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook about one minute. 
Add in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil, salt and pepper. Cook mixture until it thickens up a bit, around 5 minutes.
Add noodles to skillet and stir into the mixture well. Add scoops of ricotta cheese over the noodles; add in mozzarella and Parmesan. Stir in parsley.  Cook about 2 more minutes, or until mixture is thick.
Serve immediately with additional basil or parsley.

Note: When you've added the cheeses and stirred to combine, you could pop this in the oven for a few minutes to crisp up the top if you so desired!

Stuffed Zucchini
2 large zucchinis (or 1 gargantuan zucchini like mine)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Italian Sausage (casings removed), I like mine hot!
1 small onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
2 Tbsp tomatoes (diced)
1/2 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp basil (chopped)
1/2 C mozzarella (grated)
1/4 C parmigiano reggiano (grated)

Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the middle.
Chop the zucchini that was scooped out and set aside.
Heat the oil in a pan.
Add the sausage and brown.
Add the onion and saute until tender.
Add the garlic and saute until fragrant.
Add the wine and deglaze the bottom of the pan.

Add the chopped zucchini, tomato, oregano, salt and pepper and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Remove from the heat and stir in the basil.
Let the stuffing cool.
Mix in half of the cheese.
Stuff the zucchinis with the stuffing and top with the remaining cheese.
Bake in a preheated 400F oven until the zucchinis are tender and the cheese is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Zucchini Feta Balls/Patties
4 C zucchini, grated and squeezed
1/2 C of feta, crumbled
1 splash ouzo (optional)
2 clove garlic, chopped
4 green onions, sliced
1 handful herbs (such as mint, dill and parsley), chopped
2 egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste
~1 C flour (I used whole wheat)
~3/4 C ground flax meal (or breadcrumbs if you must)
oil for frying

Mix the zucchini, feta, ouzo, garlic, green onion, herbs and egg and season with salt and pepper.
Mix in enough flour and breadcrumbs that you can work with the mixture to form balls.
Form the mixture into balls and dust in flour.
Fry in oil until golden brown and set aside to cool.
Top with a drizzle of plain Greek yogurt.

Even my picky Pixie ate these!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Get it Together

This has become my mantra over the past two weeks. I'm given three last minute projects....get it together. I have to clean my whole house in under 3 days....get it together. I'm going to be constantly organizing friends and family into 90 day weight-loss and fitness challenges....get it together! :-D
Add into the mix that Pixie was a little sick over the weekend, I need to pack for us all to have a weekend out of town this coming weekend, and our own 90 day challenge....GET IT TOGETHER! <Insert slightly insane laughter here>

And yet...I still have had time to cook a couple things! I'm just that badass (and starving after all the go go going). And I only forgot to take pictures of one of our meals....that's an improvement over no pictures last post. Sorry...I'm getting it together! Maybe I need to take Gingko, or use that brain training website; my memory could use a boost.

This was last night's meal, and while good, there are some changes I would make if I did this again in the future: The chicken was a little bland for me personally. I would probably incorporate some finely chopped mint into the flour mix next time. And definitely more lemon zest on top of the breasts!
The couscous is really great with just a little butter and a smidgeon of cheese mixed into it. The cheese gives it just a little bit of salt, and the butter makes it taste creamy...perfect with such simple chicken.

Lemon Mint Chicken with Couscous
4 skinless chicken breasts, or 8 skinless thighs
Zest and juice of 1 lemon (I would probably zest 2)
1/3 C. Garbanzo flour
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cayenne
4 Tbsp EVOO
2 Tbsp light brown sugar (I used coconut palm sugar as a substitute)
1 lemon, sliced thin
1 C. low sodium chicken broth
1 sprig fresh mint for each piece of chicken

2 C. couscous, prepared as you like.

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 9x13" baking dish with non-stick spray.
Place flour, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne (and chopped mint if you wanna try my experiment) in a gallon ziploc bag.
Drizzle chicken with lemon juice, and place in ziploc bag with flour mix. Toss gently to coat chicken evenly.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-hi heat. Add chicken pieces (in batches if necessary), and sear until golden brown on both sides - about 5 minutes each side. As the chicken browns, arrange it in a single layer in the baking dish.
Sprinkle chicken in dish with lemon zest and brown sugar. Place a slice of lemon on each piece, then pour the broth over. Place one mint spring on each piece of chicken.
Place in the center of the oven and bake 40 minutes, uncovered; juices should run clear. Discard mint sprigs.
Serve over couscous.

Tonight I went to the red meat spectrum. I was reading recently about comfort, or traditional, foods; and how nowadays they are overlooked because the original recipes were pretty well loaded with fat and other tricksy ingredients. In some cases that is true, in others it is just that people don't have (or no longer make) time for proper preparation. One thing I love about cooking is that you can do whatever the heck you want. Whether or not it works out at all is an entirely different matter...but anywho...
I love taking a traditional dish, that may have been 1800 calories per serving at some point, and making it better for you; while maintaining good flavor of course. I make a killer Shepherd's Pie with lamb, and mashed cauliflower on top (instead of potatoes). I'll be sure to post that recipe come fall haha.
Did anyone ever eat TV dinners as a kid? The ones with the penguin on them, and the rock hard brownie that you thought was delicious? We rarely did (my dad being a chef and all); but if my parents went out, or I maybe got to eat at a friends' house, I would get to try these. I am still a firm believer that you can't go wrong with cheese enchiladas...but some of the others weren't/aren't bad either. One of those is Salisbury Steak. I think TV dinners may actually have turned a lot of people off Salisbury Steak, because it can get dry, and somewhat brick-esque in the microwave....but if made right, it is one of the tastiest, simple, traditional dishes out there. Also I am told that kids love if I have leftovers Pixie is getting an experimental lunch tomorrow mwahahahahahaaaaaa! If nothing else I can feed her the mashed cauliflower I'm serving with it...since she loves mashed potatoes so much.

Salisbury Steak
1 1/2 lb. ground beef chuck (I use 96% lean)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 C. ground flax seed (or you can use bread crumbs if you get scared by flax)
1/4 C. minced onion
1 tsp salt
Dash of ground allspice
1 10 oz. can condensed Golden Mushroom soup (Yes you have to use it. I hate using canned soups, but for this it me!)
1/3 C water (I mixed this about half and half with red wine)
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350.
In a bowl, combine meat, egg, flax, onion, salt, allspice, and 1/4 C of the soup. Shape into oval patties (any size you like is fine really), and arrange in a single layer in a shallow baking dish or roasting pan.
Place in oven and bake 30 minutes, spooning off the fat, or soaking it up as it cooks.
I used this time to prepare my mashed cauliflower (which you can find in my archive), but you can prep whatever side you feel like having.
In a small bowl, whisk together remaining soup, water (and wine), and some pepper. Pour over the patties, and return them to the oven for 10 minutes more.
Plate your patties with your side. Spoon the sauce over the patties and serve hot!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Disorganized Chaos

"Wait..." You're thinking to yourself, "Isn't the saying 'organized chaos?'" Yes...yes that is the popular saying. But that does not relate to my life currently at all. I am definitely in the midst of disorganized chaos. I feel like I have been going and going and going non-stop since last week. I have even woken myself up in the middle of the night twitching like I'm ready to go, and all tangled in my blankets (Hubby doesn't appreciate that particular behavior, I can tell you). Then my brain says "Oh good, you're awake! Let me kick myself into overdrive and remind you of the bajillion things you need to be doing!" F***  I am far too lazy a person to be kept awake in the middle of the night....really isn't my thing.

But what, you may ask, is causing such a disturbance in my much needed beauty sleep? Well.... work has been pretty busy. Keeping up with projects, planning office events, trying to squeeze in that hour workout every day at lunch, and keep pace with my ever-more-active toddler.

The workouts themselves are no joke either. I am up to 2.5 miles in 45 minutes on "cardio" days. And according to my beloved calorie/fitness tracking website, I am burning upwards of 900 calories in an hour on "circuit" days.
To that end...Hubby and I have decided to start a 90 day weight-loss and fitness challenge! Yes...I think I could be insane, but that really is beside the point. The point of this challenge, is to become part of a community that supports the desire to lose weight, get (or stay) fit, and improve overall health. I am SO SO SO excited about this challenge! I have been raving about it to everyone I know (and those I may not, like you beloved readers here). Part of the raving could be due in part to the humongous energy boost I have received in the 10 days I have been drinking Visalus shakes for the challenge! They are seriously amazing (and taste like cake batter ice could you not love that?!?), and I have way more energy to get me through the day because of them!
This is working really well with my healthy eating habits as well!
If YOU think you might want to join my "team" in this (and hopefully many more) challenge, you can!! Distance does not matter, we have an online community, and you can set whatever goals, drink however many shakes, and go as hard core as you want! You can see info on the challenge here:
It has my seal of approval for sure!

Back to that healthy eating thing I mentioned....due to the recent chaos of life, I haven't posted much...but I have been cooking! And I swear I took pictures. I remember taking pictures!! But now I cannot find them. I don't know where they disappeared to. So sorry :-(

Here's what my family and I have been noshing:

I kinda played around with a Middle Eastern Butter Chicken, and a made-up Garlic Chicken...and what I got was:

Super Garlic Butter Chicken (in the crockpot, woot!)
1 Tbsp garam masala seasoning
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne
3 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, sliced very thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
2 1/2 lb chicken (I used boneless skinless thighs), cut into small fist sized pieces
40 whole cloves of peeled garlic

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the minced garlic, tomato paste and spices, and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly to prevent burning. The spices will be fragrant. Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes and stir well.
Place onions on the bottom of crockpot in fairly even layer. Place chicken pieces on top, and scatter whole garlic cloves on top of that.
Pour sauce over whole thing.
Cook on low 7-8 hours, stirring if needed to prevent sticking.
Just before serving, stir in salt and black pepper to taste

Serve over couscous, rice noodles, or a veggie stir fry. Top with a light drizzle of plain yogurt.

Mozzarella Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
3 Tbsp butter
1 clove garlic
3/4 C. dry white wine
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, cut into 8 slices
4 springs fresh basil
salt and black pepper to taste

Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and whole garlic clove. 
Saute until chicken is golden on both sides, and almost cooked through (3-5 min each side). Remove chicken to a plate and keep warm.
Add wine to hot pan, stirring to reduce a little. Bring to a low boil for 1-2 minutes.
Add chicken back to pan and cook one more minute. Flip chicken to other side, and place 2 slices of mozzarella and a basil sprig on each breast. Discard the garlic. Cover and remove from heat. let stand 5 minutes to allow chicken to fully cook, and cheese to melt.
Plate chicken, and serve with some of the pan sauce over it.

Broccoli Salad (yes I eat this as a meal)
2 heads broccoli, chopped into florets
1 C. Craisins
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 medium red onion, chopped small
8 oz. cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
1 1/2 C. plain Greek yogurt
3 Tbsp vinegar
1/4 C. Truvia (or sugar if you must)
salt and black pepper

In a small bowl combine yogurt, vinegar, Truvia, salt and pepper. Set aside.
In large bowl, combine broccoli, Craisins, bacon, onion and cheese.
Pour dressing over the top and mix thoroughly.
Best served cold.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Again...not a real word. I am aware, I promise. But sometimes made-up words just describe your life better, haha!
If you couldn't tell, my life has been hectic! Summer always involves many get-togethers, barbeques, and in my family's case birthdays. Very little of this involves me cooking things, let alone eating my own creations. And I still have to try to be good when eating elsewhere. Its very tiring!

In an effort to relax, I treated my mama to a spa weekend this last weekend. She'll be 55 this month (sorry Ma)! And she'd never treat herself to anything so I must do it for her. We each had a detoxifying jacuzzi bath, a seaweed body treatment, massages, facials, and a hot stone sinus treatment. And that was just Saturday...phew! Sunday we were up bright and early for manicures and pedicures. Should have been super relaxed and rested by Sunday afternoon right? Sadly, no. For one, when you've become accustomed to sleeping next to a man-shaped space heater (AKA Hubby) for 9 years, it is very difficult to sleep in a large King bed all by yourself. And second, it took us 3 hours, THREE HOURS, to go approximately 30 miles from Breckenridge to Idaho Springs Sunday afternoon. We were a little tense by the time we cleared that hurdle. And it meant that I got to sit down for all of 20 minutes when I got home, before I had to whisk off to Hubby's back to back soccer games. By the time we got home, got Pixie bathed and into bed, ate, and had our own shower, it was 11:30 PM! How did that even happen?! So now...all this week I have felt that I am playing sleep catch-up. Not a great feeling.

Anywho....I have managed to cook a couple of times this week, and I think you'll like it!!

Monday night I experimented, and came up with a Quesadilla Casserole. It was quick, easy, and cheap to buy ingredients for!! If you are feeling lazy, or don't care about Paleo, you can substitute the homemade tortillas for regular store-bought ones.

Quesadilla Casserole
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried minced garlic
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
16 oz tomato sauce
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (4 1/2 oz) green chilies, undrained
6 tortillas (in my Archive...or the lazy way as noted above)
2 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese

Brown beef and onion in a large skillet on medium-high. Add tomato sauce, beans, and green chilies.  Mix well.  
Stir in all of the spices except the red pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat low and simmer 5 minutes.  Add red pepper to taste if desired.
Spread 1/2 cup of the beef mixture on bottom of 9x13 pan (sprayed with non-stick spray). Top with 3 of the tortillas, overlapping as needed.  Layer with 1/2 of the remaining beef mixture and 1/2 of the cheese.  Repeat with remaining tortillas, beef and cheese. 
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until heated through.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


Then tonight, I made an old favorite - that was once an experiment itself. I call it Cheesy Stuffed Chicken. It is not always the prettiest thing, but it tastes so so good...and you can tweak it all sorts of ways too!

Cheesy Stuffed Chicken
2 chicken breasts (or 1 breast per person)
8 oz. flavored cream cheese of choice (I used Garden Vegetable)
1 1/2 cup fresh spinach, loosely packed
1/2 medium white onion, thinly sliced
1/3 C. milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Slit chicken down the middle longways, making a pocket. Careful not to cut all the way through.
In a medium oven-proof skillet, over medium heat, cook chicken until about half done, 5-6 minutes each side (depending on thickness).
In the meantime, heat milk in a pot over medium-low heat. When warm, add the cream cheese in pieces, letting each bit melt before adding another. Once all cheese is melted in, add spinach and onion and cook, until spinach is sufficiantly wilted. Make sure veggies are mixed in really well.
Separate 2/3 of this cheese sauce from the rest. Stuff into chicken breasts.
Return chicken to pan, and place in oven to cook the remainder of the way; again, about 5-6 minutes each side.
When chicken is fully cooked, place on plate and top with 1/2 remaining cheese sauce.
I serve with steamed veggies of choice (whatever I have hanging around), maybe topped with more of the sauce.

FYI...really zoomed in pics is what you get when Hubby takes

Thursday, August 1, 2013

It is Summer!

So why the bloody hell am I getting sick?!
Seriously...this year has been just terrible as far as illnesses. I have been sick more in the past 7 months, than in the past 4 years....its ridiculous! I think Pixie, and all her snotty nosed little friends at school are the culprits. They're cute kids, but are just little germ factories.
So....I have been sick for about 5 days now. I mean, curl up in the smallest ball physically possible, so you can hopefully avoid coughing up your lungs sick. Living off of soup, and crackers, and gatorade sick. Pixie started it, and is almost fully recovered; good news is that today I feel a bit more human myself. Drugs help...I've just discovered Mucinex, its delightful.
You have my apologies for not posting during that time, but what I did cook was simple; and I didn't feel like putting forth the effort (mostly because it requires being in an upright position) to put posts together. I am making up for that today.

Below you will find 2 recipes for things I made while I was sick.
Then tonight, I was looking for simplicity again, so I've done a simple frittata. I love to make these because a) they're super duper easy, b) you can toss whatever you want on there, and c) they're really pretty healthy!
I tossed some olives, tomato, onion and feta on mine. Hubby got beef and cheddar on his.

Chicken Alambre

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 ounces 1/3-inch-diced slab bacon
12 ounces fresh chorizo, (do not get the "loose" chorizo, it is much greasier)
12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into strips
2 red bell peppers, cut into strips
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
8 ounces Oaxaca cheese or mozzarella cheese, torn

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Remove chorizo from casings and crumble into pan, add the bacon and cook over high heat, stirring, until browned in spots, 5 minutes. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, until cooked through. Add the peppers and onion and cook until softened. Scatter the cheese on top and stir until it just starts to melt, then serve.
Serve with tortillas, avocado, cilantro, salsa and lime wedges.


Ratatouille Tart

2 frozen pie crusts
1 1/2 medium zucchini (and/or yellow squash)
1 medium sweet potato
3 medium tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp onion powder
8 oz. cream cheese
3 large eggs
salt and pepper
1/2 C. shredded colby or cheddar cheese


Pre-bake crusts empty according to package directions.
In the meantime, slice zucchini, sweet potato, and tomatoes into very thin slices (I used a mandolin). Drain tomatoes on paper towels as long as possible (you want to remove as much liquid as you can).
Saute zucchini and sweet potato in a skillet over medium heat, until just starting to soften, about 5 minutes.
Mix veggies, garlic, eggs and spices in a large bowl. Mix cream cheese in in pieces (I used a block of cream cheese and cut it into chunks).
Pour this into pie crusts and bake at 400 degrees 15 minutes.
Top with shredded cheddar cheese and return to oven an additional 20- 25 minutes.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hash it Out

We have discussed my love of breakfast. Most days I grab a smoothie, or some fruit on my way out the door; but on weekends I try to indulge a little and make something. Usually involving eggs, I love eggs for breakfast! Breakfast is also my favorite meal to eat out; I can get eggs Benedict, or french toast, or other things I wouldn't normally make at home. So breakfast for dinner is often a good option.
One of my favorite breakfasts has always been corned beef hash with fried eggs; the really well done ones with perfectly runny yolks that ooze all over the hash. My father had the talent of always getting his corned beef hash to crisp, and his egg yolks to run, I am still practising those...I'm seriously drooling right now.
Anyway...I have a recipe for corned beef hash in my archive here, but that's not what I am making tonight. No, I decided that hash could really be made out of any meat (or meat substitute products, I suppose, if you're into that sort of thing). I bet a southwestern chicken hash would be tasty, or a BBQ pork hash....but I digress (ha....I've always loved that term). Tonight I am making a beef and bacon hash. 
Hubby got all excited thinking I'd put a pot roast in the crockpot for tonight, and was very deflated when I told him that wasn't what the rump was for. Don't worry though, he perked right up again when I told him the final plan. Which, again, is beef and bacon hash. We're being good and Paleo tonight, mixing in some carrots, celery, garlic and zucchini (home garden grown!); as well as beef and bacon (duh). The bacon I'm using is also fresh. We got lucky at a local farmers market, and it hasn't been processed! I'm excited to try it. Obviously I also served mine with eggs on top, that I did manage to get runny (although not near as perfect as Dad's I'm afraid). 
This would make excellent breakfast leftovers just as I've served it here, or as a breakfast burrito, or on toast, or however else you like it really!

Beef and Bacon Hash
6 C beef broth
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 (2 lb) rump roast
2 large carrots, peeled and halved

2 stalks celery, halved
3 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped
2 C. Veggies of choice
1 large onion, peeled and medium diced, separated
4 slices bacon
2 eggs per person, for serving (optional)

Add the beef broth to the crock pot (I say 6 cups, but really you want the crockpot to be full to the point of your ingredients being fully submerged), and then stir in the onion powder, celery salt, salt and pepper.
Add the roast, veggies, & 1/2 diced onion to the crock pot and set it to LOW. Allow the roast and vegetables to cook in the crock pot for 6 hours, or until tender.
Remove the cooked roast and vegetables from the crock pot and dice everything into bite-sized pieces. Combine the mixture with the remaining diced white onion.
Saute the bacon in a large skillet, reserving the drippings. Set the cooked bacon aside.
Add the hash mixture to the skillet containing the bacon grease and and fry the hash until crispy, about 10 minutes. Chop up the bacon and add it to the skillet, tossing to combine.
If desired, fry 2 eggs per person in a separate pan and serve the hash topped with the fried eggs.

Without eggs:
Cal: 2021    Fat: 115    Cholesterol: 480    Sodium: 3313    Carbs: 31.25    Fiber: 7.3    Sugar: 12    Protein: 191.7

If you ask Hubby, he'd say this is 2 servings, but he's skinny, and bottomless, so we'll disregard him in this case.
I say this is about 4-6 servings depending on how hungry you are! So for one (of 4) servings:
Cal: 505.25    Fat: 28.75    Chol: 120    Sodium: 828.25    Carbs: 7.8    Fiber: 1.8    Sugar: 3    Protein: 48

Don't forget to add the "cost" of eggs if you choose to include them. 
This can be high on the calories; but is great for the "heavy duty workout" days.