Posted in Food, Menu Planning, Recipe

Crunchy garlic chicken

image

The other night, Jeff and I tried out a new recipe from Jamie Oliver. This crunchy garlic chicken recipe was great!! We got the idea from pinterest and served it with baked potatoes and honey crisp apples.

image

The breading has just the right mix of flavors… Butter, parsley, lemon, salt and pepper.  When lightly fried, it tastes absolutely decadent.  Go make it. 🙂

Posted in Counseling, Food, Life + Living, Menu Planning, New Food, Recipe, Weight Watchers

Menu Monday: Saffron

The cool thing about seeking counseling is that it doesn’t make you weird.  To prove it, I’m going to write a very NORMAL entry.  Well, aside from Saffron… a spice that is valued in tiny quantities, but dangerous in abundance.  This week, Jeff and I expanded our spicy horizons to include threads of Saffron.  We’ve been talking a lot about things that make us happy, things we enjoy doing as a couple.  One of the things that we really enjoy (time permitting) is cooking together.  While making the menu this weekend, I came across a recipe for “Spanish Chickpea, Tomato, and Kale Stew.”  Interesting.. I thought..

  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads

Oop.. this recipe is out.. Saffron.  Who just has saffron sitting around in their pantry? *scoff*

  • 2 tsp EVOO
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1 bell pepper (chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)Wonder how much saffron costs.. I’ve got most of the rest of these ingredients.. 
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh oregano
    I’ve got dried..I’m sure that’ll do.. 
  • 1 tbsp smoked or regular paprika
  • 4 cups chopped fresh kale
    HUZZAH! Finally a way to use that bunch that we bought “for smoothies” that’s about to wilt in the crisper drawer…
  • 1/4 cup sherry
    One for you, one for me *glug*  Wait, what is sherry?  Do they sell that at the grocery store?  I’m probably going to have to go to the liquor store.. ugh. OOh! Maybe I can buy some vodka at the same time.  Maybe this recipe isn’t such a lost cause…
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

So yeah, reading through the recipe I waffled a couple times on whether we could actually pull this recipe off.  I’d LOVE to show you a picture of our masterpiece all pretty in our matte black bowls… but guess who forgot to go to the liquor store?  Ha. Guess that means we can’t re-enact any scenes from My Drunk Kitchen (Pizza, unlike old coca-cola is best served flat!)

Anyway.. after mulling over the stew recipe (combine saffron + water, set aside, heat onions and bell pepper in the oil until onions start to soften, then stir in all seasonings including saffron-water, add kale and cook, stirring constantly, until either you or the kale are wilted.  Add sherry–to the stew, not your mouth, and cook until almost all the liquid is gone.  Add everything else and bring to a boil.  Cover, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes.)  The actual recipe in all of its lovely entirety can be found in the Weight Watchers Points Plus Power Foods Cookbook: 200 Simple & Satisfying Recipes book, on page 188. Copyright Weight Watchers International, Inc. 2011.

The rest of our menu is pretty straight forward with nothing nearly as exotic as saffron stew.  It’s got things like salmon, spaghetti, and meatloaf on it.. The good news, though, is that I was able to organize my cupboard in my quest for recipe ingredients.  Isn’t it pretty?

Yeah.. it’s probably wrecked by the time you’re reading this… >_>

Posted in Food, Recipe

Fall is here! It’s apple time! (mini apple pie recipe)

 

It’s officially fall in Minnesota, and what better way to kick off the season than to go to the apple orchard?  My niece called me this morning and got my bum out of bed for a last-minute invite to the orchard.  Mine and my sisters’ misters couldn’t come, so it was just a girls day down on the farm.

 

I had never been to an orchard before (to the best of my knowledge) so it was quite a fun experience to buy our little bags and then go pick apples fresh off the trees.  Honestly, I’ve been drawing apple trees wrong the whole time.  They do not have tall trunks and bushy tops with apples dotted along the outside.  These apple trees had short trunks with sprawling limbs that nearly (and sometimes *did*) reach the ground.

With my haul, I decided to make mini apple pies for Jeff and I.  The types of apples we got to pick were “Haralson” which were small and kind of tart.  They were zippy!  My opinion of Haralson is that they are good for baking, but need a little help from sweeteners (white or brown sugar), but they would be good for snacking on with some honey or melted caramel. Mmm!

The best part about tagging along is that I got to tell my niece one of my favorite clean jokes:  What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple?  … Finding half-a-worm in your apple!

hehe!

 

Megan’s Healthy Apple Pie:

Crust:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup milk

Filling:
Apples
Cinnamon
Sugar
Butter

Mix together flour, oil, and milk with a fork until it starts to hold together in little balls/crumbles–don’t over-work it!  Use your hands to form it into 2, 3, 4–however many crusts you would like.  Roll out between sheets of wax paper. Use a cutter of appropriate size to form mini crusts or just use a regular sized pie tin.  Make sure you have enough crust to cover your pie.

If you are making mini pies, dice the apples so that you can fit quite a bit into each cup.  If you are making a regular pie, slice however you like.

“Season” with cinnamon and sugar to taste.  Top apples with a small pat of butter… maybe 1/2 teaspoon per mini pie.  Use a couple teaspoons of butter for a full-sized pie. Just eyeball it, it’s just to keep things moist and provide that hint-of-butter taste.

Top with the remaining crust(s), brush with a little bit of butter (just enough to glaze the top of the crust) and sprinkle with more cinnamon.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Serve with ice cream (vanilla bean or caramel would be superb!) and enjoy!

Posted in College, Fitness, Food, Gaming, Life + Living, Recipe

Colorado n stuff

[Life in general]

image

I’ve been meaning to write, but there always seems to be something that comes up *cough*GW2*cough*.

Well, now I’m at my friend’s house, four states away from home. Everyone is sleeping, so I’m going to write.

Continue reading “Colorado n stuff”

Posted in Fitness, Food, Life + Living, Recipe, Strength Training

I-i-i-i Work Out

 

So, now that vacation is over and I’m climbing out of my funk, I’ve got a new routine that I’m establishing.  This is going to be another one of those short posts because I’m writing it as I’m sippin on a smoothie when I should really be heading out the door instead.  I’ve got, oh, 10 minutes maximum.  Here goes:

Monday/Wednesday/Friday: Wake 5:45, make breakfast/lunch, leave by 6:30. Strength routine at the gym until about 8:15.  Work until 5:30, then it’s home to cook dinner by 7.  After dinner, go for a 30 minute walk/play racquetball.  Then, from 7:30 on, lollygag–er, I mean, study, work on my blog, and generally have free time until bed at 9. I give myself leeway to read until 9:30pm, at which point I’m generally nodding off anyway.

Tuesday: Wake 5:45, make breakfast/lunch, leave by 6:30. Physical therapy (for my back. Finally. After almost 3 months) until 7:30am. Go for a morning walk/jog/bike for 30 minutes. Work on blog/browse the internet until 9am. Then the rest of my schedule is the same as M/W/F.

Thursday: Wake 5:45 just to stay in the routine.  Make breakfast/lunch and watch My Little Pony until it’s time to go to work.  Work. Then evening is the same as M/W/F.

Saturdays and Sundays are not nearly as structured except to say that there will be at least 8 hours of studying and at least 3 hours devoted to menu planning and grocery shopping, an hour to working out (on Saturday) and 30 minutes cardio on Sunday.

My workouts have gotten pretty darn good, too.  My personal trainer really listens to me and I think we’re going along at a good pace.  My strength training routine has an “A” day and a “B” day that alternate.  My “A” Day looks like this:

Warm Up: Bird Dog, Adductor Mobility, Hip Flexor Mobility, Wall Slides, Ankle Mobility
Abs: Plank 1 minute; rest 30 seconds; Plank 1 minute [When I asked for more ab work, she said that if I’m doing the movements right, everything involves abs]
Strength: Squats (30lb DB); Chest Press (20lb DB); Static Lunges (10lb DB); Cable Cross-over Pull-Downs (25.7); Glute Bridges with a Bench (18lb Bar); TRX Rows; X-Band Walk

And that’s what I’m up for this morning. So there we go.  There’s the old me that would struggle with cuddles vs. muscles  and then there’s me: ready and rarin’ to go.

Blueberry Shake: 

2 Tbls (Plain, non-fat) Yogurt

1/4 Cup Blueberries

1 (medium) Banana

2 Rounded scoops protein complete (meal replacement) powder

splash of milk

(smoothie button until blended)

Ice cubes

(Icy drink button until blended)

Eat right away and rinse of all components before protein turns to glue.  🙂

Posted in Food, Life + Living, New Food, Recipe

Tuna Stuffed Shells (Recipe)

Hey guess what!

If you guessed that my computer crashed, you would be correct.  The signs have been there for a little while now, but we just don’t have it in the budget to go and get a new hard drive at the moment.  I had to bring my work laptop home in order to finish my homework for my business class, but so far, so good.  I passed the first half of the final with 100% and some kind remarks from the instructor.

Not long after my computer crashed, the monitor for Jeff’s computer decided to go on strike… so, we took the working parts of my computer and used them to replace the broken parts of Jeff’s computer and voila! We’re back in business.

It’s a good thing too, because now I can share this idea with you.  I kept coming across ideas on Pinterest.com for stuffed shells recipes, but it has been entirely too hot to turn on the stove.  Instead, Jeff and I decided to make a summer version of Tuna Stuffed Shells.  It’s super cheap, quick, and easy:

Summer Tuna Stuffed Shells:

Ingredients:
Jumbo Shells
Starkist Chunk Light tuna in water (drained)
Alfredo sauce with bell pepper
Onion
Celery
Garlic powder
Pepper

The amount of each ingredient really depends on your taste preference and how many people you’re feeding.  Jeff and I wanted about 4 shells each plus some extra so we started by boiling half a box of the shells.  While that was happening, I took a mixing bowl and combined 4 regular-sized cans of tuna with about 2 tablespoons of alfredo, 1/4 cup each of onion and celery, and sprinkled garlic powder on top.  Stir it up and set aside. Heat the remainder of the alfredo sauce in a small sauce pan until it’s bubbly–about 5 minutes or so.

When the noodles are cooked, strain them and then place on waxed paper to cool.  Jeff worked on that part while I sliced up an orange bell pepper to go on the side.  When you’re ready, stuff the cool tuna mixture into the shells and spoon alfredo sauce over top.  Sprinkle with pepper (optional, but a really nice addition), and garnish with a side of orange bell pepper.

Posted in Food, Life + Living, Menu Planning, Recipe

Menu Monday – no wait..

Guess what happens when you spend your whole weekend celebrating birthdays:

You fail to make a menu for Monday.  Or go grocery shopping.  Or you know, any of the usual weekend activities.

I had a great weekend hanging out with Jeff, putzing with puzzles, going to a wedding fair, throwing a birthday bash for my niece… We even cleaned house and managed to do some laundry!  We utterly failed, though, to ponder this week’s eats or to make a menu.  Tonight’s dinner was a sad affair… I called Jeff on my way home and he listed off things that we had in the fridge: mixed fruits, left over veggie tray, bell peppers, cucumbers, sweet corn…  And in the freezer: mixed veg, shrimp, chocolate chips, froyo.

Hm.

We didn’t even have a bagged meal to fall back on and we didn’t want to get fast food, so we  just assembled the basics – a ‘meat’, a side, and a veggie:

throw-together-meal-shrimp-corn-bbq-sauce

Yep.  Tonight’s dinner was a handful of shrimp and two ears of corn.  I figure one served as a side and the other as a veggie =P

The shrimp was actually really good.  If you’re ever in a pinch and you’ve got pre-cooked frozen shrimp, it’s really easy to make it tasty:

Quick Shrimp:

  • pre-cooked, frozen shrimp
  • butter
  • minced garlic
  • lime juice

1) Thaw shrimp per package instructions–best to run it under cold water. Pull off the tails while you’re at it.

2) Put 1 Tbls of butter and 1 (heaping) Tbls of minced garlic (ours was the jarred variety tonight) into a frying pan

3) Add the thawed shrimp and cook just a couple minutes until heated through–they will start to curl smaller, but you don’t want to *over* cook shrimp, then it just gets rubbery.

Serve with some of the garlic butter if desired, sprinkle some lime juice over the top.  BBQ Sauce is optional, but if you go for it–Sweet Baby Ray’s is awesome.

The corn was just corn, but my grandma taught me the trick to getting a good ear of sweetcorn–take your fingernail and press it against a kernel until it bursts.  If it pops like over-inflated bubble wrap and squirts juice at you, you’re good!  If it just deflates, try another ear.

Posted in Food, Recipe

BLT+C=Happy Me

Tonight’s menu called for “Grilled Chicken Sandwiches.”  It was going to be ho-hum until I got it in my mind that bacon goes awesome with chicken and so does tomato.  While Jeff and I were at the grocery store on Monday, I bought a pound of center-cut bacon (tried to get some with minimal fat, but, c’mon, it’s bacon…)  I also picked up 1 beef-steak tomato so that we could have it on our sandwiches.

It was after assembly that I realized that we basically had BLT’s + Chicken.  It doesn’t matter, though, what you call it–I call it delicious dinner.

BLT+C

This recipe can be scaled based on the number of people it is intended to serve.  Basically just cook chicken, cook bacon, assemble on a sandwich with your favorite fixings.  More direction given below:

  • Mrs. Dash Italian Seasoning (to taste)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • Center-cut Bacon
  • Beef Steak Tomato
  • Lettuce
  • Sargento Colby Pepper Jack Cheese
  • Miracle Whip
  • Silver Spring Beer n’ Brat Horseradish Mustard
  • Pepperidge Farm Dark German Wheat Bread

If the chicken breasts that you bought are anything like the ones that I bought, you can easily cut them in half and still have a good-sized portion (4-5oz).  I bought a pack of 5 chicken breasts on sale for $5 and got 10 servings out of it.  We have definitely got more than enough to last us for a while.

After adjusting the portions of your chicken, go ahead and start cooking it.  I used a covered skillet on the stove-top over medium heat, but if you like to grill–tis the season!

Go for it.  Speaking of seasonings–season the top of the chicken before you cover it and then let it cook for about 5-8 minutes per side. I cook mine until the juices run clear and the center is no longer pink, but if you’re the “just so!” kind of chef, cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.  The length of time needed will vary depending on the size of your chicken breasts.

While your chicken is getting started, fry up the bacon.  Be careful to watch for grease splatter–that stuff hurts!  If you prefer, there are methods of cooking bacon in the oven or in the microwave, but I didn’t go that route.

While you are waiting for the bacon and chicken to cook, slice the beef steak tomato and ready leaves of lettuce!  We used this dark wheat bread that is hearty and soft at the same time.  Check it out: Pepperidge Farm Dark German Wheat Bread

Spread with a little bit of miracle whip, some spicy mustard, lettuce, tomato, cheese…. then bacon and chicken!  Serve with summer fruit on the side.

——————————————————————————————-

Here’s the daily summary from http://www.myfitnesspal.com:

Posted in Food, New Food, Recipe, Wedding Planning

I dream’t of a s’more…

When I was growing up, one of my very favorite things to do was to go camping and to roast marshmallows. And of course, to squash those marshmallows between chocolate and graham crackers. And, once finished in marveling at my masterpiece, my next favorite thing to do would be to bite into the s’more so that chips of graham cracker fell by the wayside, marshmallow stuck to my cheeks and chocolate melted onto my tongue. Oh to be a kid again.

When I got my first apartment, I figured out that if you microwave a marshmallow for about 10 seconds, it gets gooey and you can make make-shift s’mores.
In my 3rd apartment, my roomies knew how to grill and I figured out that s’mores made over charcoal are distinctly different than s’mores made over a campfire.
Propane is not an option.
Neither, really, is making them over a gas range.

I love s’mores so much that I was trying to think of a way to incorporate them into our WEDDING for goodness sake!

This weekend, I was having a few people over and I wanted to serve s’mores for dessert. I didn’t want to take the time to microwave marshmallows in front of my guests, because something about that just felt unrefined. As I went to sleep thinking on it, there came to me a glorious idea–S’mores in a muffin tin!

ha!

In my dream, I just crumbled graham crackers into the bottom of the cups and then put a marshmallow and chocolate on top.

In the cruel light of day, that did not work, but I had a dream! It must be pursued!

I found a recipe for a graham cracker crust online and that did the trick for me… I topped THAT with a marshmallow and a milk-chocolate saddle, then gave it a graham cracker crust hat. I baked at 350 for 25 minutes. Somewhere between the idea and the end result, the marshmallow disappeared, but the final product was still a scrumptious offering. The next time I try these, I may have to tweak the recipe a bit. When I find one that works better, I will definitely share it with you:

S’mores in a Muffin Tin

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1-2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 tsp baking powder

marshmallows

chocolate bars

Instructions:

1) Set the Marshmallow and the Chocolate aside for now, we’ll come back to that.

2) Cream together butter and both kinds of sugar

3) beat in egg & vanilla (NOTE: you can do this with a fork, but a mixer would probably be easier)

4) In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.

5) Mix the dry and the wet ingredients until you have a well-combined crumbly crust.

6) Prepare the muffin pan with cooking spray so that the cups don’t stick.  Don’t use muffin paper.

7) Take some dough and roll a ball about 1″ or so in diameter and then press into the bottom of each muffin cup

8) Put 1 marshmallow (regular sized) and 1/4 Chocolate Bar (if you’re using Hershey’s, it’s about 3 small rectangles worth) in each muffin cup.

9) Top each one with a graham cracker “hat” (play patty-cake with the dough-ball to flatten it out just like the bottom crust

10) Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, or until the crust firms up.  The cups remove easily once they are cooled.

Posted in Food, Menu Planning, New Food, Recipe, Weight Watchers

Orange Chicken

Yeeeaaaahhh… My version of orange chicken turned out almost nothing like the picture that I pinned on my pinterest foodies board.  When I was at the grocery store, a friend in need called and I missed out on a couple of ingredients such as the  sesame seeds, red pepper flakes and scallions.  We made due with what we had, though, and it turned out pretty wicked (in a good way).

After going through this process, I would say that there are some things to be desired in the recipe, as far as instructions go.  Here is how the recipe was published on laaloosh:

Orange Chicken Recipe

Ingredients:
1 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2-inch strips
2 cup cooked white rice, kept hot
Rind of a small orange sliced into thin strips
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
3/4 cup canned chicken broth, reduced-sodium
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp peanut oil
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 medium scallions, chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or 1 dried chili pepper, minced
1 tbsp sesame seeds

**For added nutritional value, substitute the white rice with brown rice

Directions:
In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, broth, sugar, cornstarch, ginger, and vinegar, then set aside.
In a large skillet, heat peanut oil on medium-high heat. Add orange rinds, scallions, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for about 2 minutes. Add in the chicken and cook for approximately 6 minutes, or until chicken is golden brown.
Now mix in the sauce and let simmer until the chicken is cooked all the way through and the sauce starts to get thick, this should take approximately 3-4 minutes. On a plate, serve chicken and sauce over rice and garnish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds

Serving size = 1 cup of chicken and 1/2 cup of rice

Here is what I learned by doing:

– Cook the rice according to package directions.  Then strain the rice because there’s still too much liquid when it’s done.

– Use an itty bit more oil.  It was pretty well gone before the chicken even got there.

– Dice the orange rind if you intend to eat it.

– On that note, add a little bit more sugar to the sauce recipe so that it caramelizes a little more.

– Dried chives are not the same as fresh scallions.

– Rice vinegar, though, is a good substitute for white wine vinegar.

– Use the pulp from the orange that you chopped up in a fresh house salad to serve alongside your chicken:

All in all, this recipe has got lots of potential, but we just need to refine the way that we cooked it a little and actually use all of the ingredients called for 🙂 We will probably make this again.  1 serving has 6 points on a popular weight loss program.