Sunday, July 20, 2014

Menu 7/20 - 7/24

I make no guarantees that any recipes will be shared with you this week. It's going to be another one of those crazy busy hectic weeks where all I want to do is sleep. Today we're having a goodbye party for Calvin who is moving back home. I spent all day yesterday making food because I got a really late start on cooking and baking.

I sat down at 8 with the intent to blog something for this week when my neck seized up and along came a migraine. I still need to run to Ikea and make a few more things and with people here for the majority of the day, I have no idea if I'll have the energy or time to get anything posted.

This week my coworker is on vacation. We usually just scrape by each week with her and I working at least 45 hours. I have no idea what this week is going to be like work-wise.

Because of that, dinners are going to be simple. The meals for this week are all coming from the freezer since I realized we had way too much stuff in there that was quickly approaching the eat or toss mark.

Sunday: party leftovers

Monday: Stromboli 

Tuesday: Indonesian pork, baked potatoes, green beans 

Wednesday: pot roast

Thursday: sausages and peppers 

For breakfast this week I'm having a baked oatmeal with peaches and for lunch, ABT's (avocado, bacon and tomato) in a wrap.

Bread, and most grains in general, still make me feel like crap but I needed something that didn't need to be prepared this weekend since I don't have any time. Next week I'm going to work on continuing to clean out the freezer, and I think after the concert (August 2nd) I'm going to do another Whole30. I've had too much unhealthy stuff recently and I'm positive this is why I have a migraine and feel so terrible. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Improv Challenge: Peanut Popcorn Squares

Last month I made my recipe for the Improv Challenge at the last minute and just never had a chance to get it blogged before the posting day. I had grand intentions of making my recipe for this month right away, so even if I couldn't get the recipe typed up right away, I'd have extra time.

That never works out. I made this last Sunday and didn't even get in the fridge to chill until 2 hours before the sun was going down, giving me a very limited window to actually get a decent photograph.

On the Betty Crocker website, these are called Caramel Peanut Popcorn Squares which is just confusing to me. Just because I used butter and corn syrup along with the peanut butter chips to melt, doesn't mean it became caramel...

Peanut Popcorn Squares
Source: Betty Crocker
Servings: 24
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    • 16.5 oz. roll refrigerated sugar (or peanut butter) cookies 
    • 3 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
    • 3 oz. bag popcorn, popped and unpopped kernels removed
    • 1 cup salted, dry-roasted peanuts
    • 10 oz. peanut butter chips
    • 2/3 cup light corn syrup 
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 1 cup chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Unroll the cookie dough into the baking dish and press into an even layer.
3. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until golden.
4. Sprinkle the marshmallows evenly on top and bake for another 3 minutes or until the marshmallows have fluffed up. Meanwhile, combine the peanut butter chips with the corn syrup and butter and microwave in 30 second intervals until smooth.
5. Put the popcorn and peanuts in a large bowl and once the peanut butter chips are fully melted, pour over the popcorn and stir with a spatula quickly to distribute.
6. Spread the peanut butter popcorn mixture on top of the marshmallows and press down with a spatula.
7. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave until smooth. Drizzle over the popcorn. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before refrigerating until chilled, at least 1 hour.
8. Cut into 24 squares.

Honestly, this was a lot of cookie base for me and I could have easily went with using half of the cookies to press into a thinner layer. But this was still a really tasty treat. I'm usually a popcorn purist and was impressed that I liked this.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Bacon and Sweet Potato Chili

I know 'chili' is not something you necessarily think of to eat in the summer months, but the guacamole, cilantro and red onion gave this a much lighter feel than I had expected. 

I found this recipe on the Stalkerville website when I was doing the Whole30. It was the first time I had made chili without beans in almost a decade. When I was younger and my mom would make chili for dinner, I would wait until the chili cooled, pick out all of the beans and then reheat it in the microwave so it was warm enough to eat. 

For the most part my mom was only making chili for her and I, so I have no idea why she just didn't add it in to her dish after the chili had cooked. It would have saved me a lot of trouble. ;) Somewhere in my early 20's, probably the time that I started the Abs Diet cooking, I decided I was going to like beans and ate them in chili ever since. You definitely do not miss them in this recipe though. 

Bacon and Sweet Potato Chili
Source: A Calculated Whisk
Servings: 8
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    • 6 slices bacon
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 2 large sweet potatoes, diced
    • 1 lb. ground beef
    • 1 lb. ground pork
    • 1 tbsp. chili powder
    • 1 tsp. cumin
    • 1 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp. oregano
    • pinch of cayenne
    • pinch of cinnamon
    • salt and pepper 
    • 1+ cups water
    • for serving:
    • guacamole or avocado slices
    • lime wedges
    • diced red onion
    • fresh cilantro, chopped
1. Cook the bacon in a Dutch Oven over medium high heat until crispy. Remove from the Dutch Oven and place on a paper towel to drain. Discard bacon grease, reserving two tablespoons, divided.
2. Return 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease to the Dutch Oven and add the onion and sweet potato. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
3. Add the remaining tablespoon of bacon grease to the oven along with the ground beef and ground pork. Crumble with a wooden spoon and cook until the meats are browned. Drain any remaining grease. Add the spices, 1 cup of water and return the sweet potatoes and onions to the Dutch Oven. Stir until combined and reduce the heat to low.
4. Cook for 1 hour or until the sweet potatoes are tender. Add additional water if the chili looks dry.
5. Crumble the bacon and stir into the dish.
6. Serve the chili topped with guacamole or avocado slices, fresh lime wedges, diced red onion and freshly chopped cilantro. 

This was one of the first Whole30 recipes I made and I'm so glad it turned out so well. I loved this dish and while I was hesitant I would miss cheese on top, I can gladly report that I did not at all. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Weekly Menu 7/13 - 7/17

Half way through July already! This summer needs to slow right on down. I still have flash backs of that terrible winter we endured and I am in NO mood to have that repeated again this year. The lack of humidity we've experienced has been pretty awesome though. It's always fun when you can go outside and still feel like you can breathe, not like you went underwater.

I'm in full force of the summer recipes for this week.

Sunday: grilled pork, zucchini and tomatoes, baked sweet potatoes

Monday: jerk chicken, pineapple salsa, corn on the cob 

Tuesday: pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, fries

Wednesday: crock pot chili 

Thursday: bbq chicken nachos

For breakfast this week I'm having white cheddar and dijon baked eggs, which just sounds fabulous and for lunch, a grilled cantelope salad.

My mission to clean out the apartment of things we don't use has led me to the kitchen (finally) and I believe I have convinced Tom that new dishes are in order. We bought two stoneware sets to make a 8 piece setting. Problem is, we don't use the coffee mugs or the bowls from it. And we rarely even use the salad plates from it. And it's dark colored, meaning its hard to use for blogging. So I'm off to a few stores this morning to see if I can find any replacements.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Ouri's Fruit, a Juice Cleanse: A Review

I've had this partially typed up forever but never had a chance to actually share this with you. It's been over a month now since I completed the juice cleanse, but I still wanted you to know how it went, especially since this was so different than my first cleanse. 

Somewhere in the middle of my Whole30 experience, I decided that I wanted to end the experience with another three day juice cleanse. I had positive results on my first one and I figured after eating a diet that lends itself to prepping for a juice cleanse, there was no better time to start one.

I did have to amend the Whole30 and make it a Whole28 in order to not be on my final day of the juice cleanse while on vacation.

I began researching different companies that sold juice cleanses, initially looking for one that was local to me, thinking I could save money on shipping. I found that even local processors charge just as much as those across the country and weren't nearly as convenient so I quickly abandoned that idea.

I looked on Amazon, figuring if the company was part of Prime, I could get a discount on the shipping at least. That's where I found Ouri's Fruit, which is located in New York. I was immediately impressed that I could order on Thursday and have my juice delivered on Saturday. I also found that it was $10 cheaper to order directly through their website than it was to order through Amazon.

Ouri's Fruit uses cold-pressed organic juices, which is something I wanted. If you're drinking the pure juice from a vegetable, I just feel better going the organic route. (Says the person who rarely buys organic) The next selling point to me was they offered three different types of cleanses, all 3 day. One for beginners, one for those who have juiced before and one for the hard core juicers.

The beginner juice included a juice with beets so for that mere fact alone, I immediately upgraded myself to the next level. Which wasn't wrong, exactly, I don't think I'm an experienced juicer, but I had done a juice before.

This is called the Believer Cleanse and the one I chose to do. I started on Monday June 2nd. As with all juices, you should rid yourself of dairy, alcohol and sugar before starting the cleanse. Ouri's also suggested meat products, but since I came home starving the night before starting the cleanse I opted not to follow that one and had pulled pork for dinner.

Each morning I had warm water with lemon juice and then when I got hungry I had my first juice. The six juices are as follows:

Sweet Greens: apple, cucumber, celery, green kale, swiss chard, romaine, spinach, lemon, ginger. 

Pineapple Apple Mint: pineapple, apple, mint

Detox Greens: apple, cucumber, celery, wheat-grass, dandelion, watercress, wild arugula, lemon, ginger 

Spicy Lemonade: lemons, cayenne pepper, organic agave nectar

Sweet Greens: (see above)

Almond Milk: spring water, almonds, dates, vanilla, cinnamon 

Day 1: I felt pretty confident going into this, like I knew what to expect. The Sweet Greens was tastier than I expected. Pineapple Apple Mint was by far my favorite. Detox Greens was a bit earthier but still pretty easy to drink. I had been craving lemonade but found that lemonade with cayenne is no joke. It took me almost an hour to drink this one. I drank the second Sweet Greens earlier than I wanted to and should have waited. I felt uncomfortably full for an hour or so. The almond milk was delicious and very dessert like.

I quickly had to get used to having to pee every 45 minutes but that was really the worst part. The spicy lemonade did give me a bit of an upset something but nothing serious, just uncomfortable feeling. I had Tom make his own dinner, but looked at images of food online and didn't have any desire to eat actual food. I think its because I'm keeping so busy.

Day 2: I had a doctor's appointment at 8:30 am so I opted to have my first juice after that, which was a little after 9 am. I was hungry for the second and third ones but then got so busy at work I missed my usual time for the fourth juice and didn't start it until 4:30 pm. I had the 5th juice with me and was worried about it getting to warm in the car on the way home, so I started it around 5:45 and felt stuffed for hours. I didn't put nearly enough time in between juices 4 and 5. I had my final juice a little after 8 PM.

I don't know if its because of doing this following the Whole30 or if the second juice cleanse is easier than the first, but I've had no food cravings at all. I even made Tom dinner and had no interest in even smelling it. (It was tacos, in case you are wondering)

Day 3: I woke up with an upset stomach that remained kind of gurgly all day, but nothing too bad. I didn't have that "oh god is this over yet" feeling at all, like I did last time. I spaced the juices out to be every 3 hours or so and finished them around 8 PM again. I could easily have done this for another two days or so with no issues. My coworkers lunch smelled delicious, as did dinner but I had no interest in eating foods. Chewing, a little bit, but it wasn't that constant-can't-get-out-of-my-brain like it was with the first cleanse.

I'd really like to do this again.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Asparagus and Sugar Snap Pea Salad

To go along with our Spicy Cilantro Grilled Chicken, I opted to make this asparagus and sugar snap pea salad. My aunt, uncle and Shannon all really like asparagus so it was nice to finally be able to cook it for more than just me.

We left the grocery list at home when we went to the store and the only thing I ended up forgetting was the spring onions. I'm sure they would have added a nice touch to this salad, but it was still delicious without it.

I am usually not a fan of cold asparagus so we opted to serve this closer to room temperature than chilled. You could easily serve it chilled if cold asparagus is your thing.

Asparagus and Sugar Snap Pea Salad
Source: The Slim Palate Paleo Cookbook
Servings: 4-6
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    • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
    • 6 oz. sugar snap peas, trimmed
    • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
    • 1/3 cup olive oil 
    • salt and pepper to taste
1. Steam the asparagus and sugar snap peas for 4-5 minutes or until tender.
2. Quickly transfer the vegetable to an ice bath to stop the cooking, then drain. (To serve cold, allow vegetables to sit in the ice bath until fully chilled.)
3. In a medium bowl, toss together the asparagus, sugar snap peas, lemon zest and juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

I could have easily had this as an entree it was so delicious! I usually don't make salads when it's just going to be me eating them, but this is something I can see myself making over and over again.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Spicy Cilantro Grilled Chicken

A few weeks ago my friend Shannon and I went to visit my aunt and uncle at their house in Delaware. Every time we go down there I end up cooking dinner one night, even if my aunt protests that I'm on vacation. I keep reminding her that cooking is relaxing to me and I absolutely love getting to feed new people, so it is never a chore to cook while I'm there.

My aunts birthday is June 28th but we decided to celebrate a week early since we were there. I had her choose what I should make for dinner and I was thrilled that she picked this recipe. I'd had my eye on it forever and wasn't sure it was something Tom was going to like so I hadn't made it yet.

The marinade and extra sauce turned out to be really similar to a gremolata which I've made before and Tom liked so I think it's safe for me to try this recipe at home.

Spicy Cilantro Grilled Chicken
Source: Pink Parsley, adapted from Southern Living April 2013
Servings: 4
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    • 2 bunches of cilantro
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • (up to) 4 jalapenos, seeded and ribs removed
    • 1 tsp. kosher salt
    • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
    • juice of 1 lime 
    • 2/3 cup canola oil 
    • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs 
    • lime wedges for serving 
1. Combine cilantro, garlic, jalapenos, salt, pepper and lime juice together in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until chopped. Add in canola oil, 2 tablespoons at a time until it reaches a smooth, wet consistency.
2. Measure out 1/4 cup of the marinade and reserve in a dish for later.
3. Place the chicken in a large bowl or sealable bag, pour the marinade on top and toss to coat completely. Allow to marinate for 15 minutes in the refrigerator.
4. Preheat a grill to medium high heat, brushing the grates with oil. Grill chicken breasts for 6-8 minutes per side or until cooked through. (Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the chicken breast/thigh.)
5. Cover with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving, topping with the remaining marinade.

I could have reserved a cup of the marinade and just ate it on everything we had for dinner that night. It was delicious! I've made the chicken again, at home, using the Griddler instead of the grill outside and it still turns out really tasty. This recipe is a definite winner in my book and something I plan on making over and over again!

Josie said it's her go-to meal for the summer and I can easily see why. I think it may just be mine as well! 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Fruit and Brownie Kebabs

I know it's too late for you to make these for the Fourth of July, but they're just patriotic enough that you could serve them for Labor Day, hang on to them until the next Memorial day, or because they just scream all of the best things about summer, make them any time of the year.

I had a small cookout on Independence Day, only 6 people and we grilled the food at the grills next to the pool. I was surprised the pool wasn't packed with people, but it seems like my neighbors enjoy going away for the holiday weekends. I'm not complaining at all, more grills and more pool space for me!

Anyway, I made these for the cookout since they are simple to make and easy to transport, plus I figured they could hold up in the summer sun for a few hours. There really isn't even a recipe here, which makes me feel silly sharing it with you, but here goes.

Fruit and Brownie Kebabs
Inspired by Pinterest Picture
Servings: 12-16
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    • 1 pint strawberries, hulled
    • 1 cup blueberries
    • 1 bag marshmallows
    • 9x13 pan cooked brownies (boxed or homemade) 
    • skewers
1. Cut the brownies into equal sized pieces.
2. Arrange the fruit, brownies and marshmallows on the skewers as desired. I opted for a red, white blue, brownie routine, but it's entirely up to you.

The number of skewers vary on how much you put onto each one and how much fruit you have. You could easily leave no space on the skewers and just keep loading them up, I opted to leave a bit of space. I had about 1/3 of a 9x13 pan left of brownies which we ate over the next few days.

We gobbled these up pretty quickly and everyone thought they were adorable!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Overnight Greek Yogurt and Chia Seed Parfait

A month or so ago, I made a recipe that called for two tablespoons of chia seeds. I debated on just omitting them from the recipe, mainly because they were $8 for a bag, but decided to suck it up and find other uses for them.

Chia seeds seem to be the new foodie trend. Everyone is putting them in recipes and like usual, I am more than way behind on the times. :)

For the Secret Recipe Club this month, I was assigned to A Fit and Spicy Life, which is written by Melissa. I really like her tagline which is "A lot of cooking, a little wine & workouts to keep it all in line." While I don't keep up on the workouts part as much as I should, I at least make an attempt and I've decided that justifies the food and wine.

Anyway, I was going through Melissa's recipes and the word "Chia" jumped out at me. Side note: please tell me I'm not the only one who sees the word chia and immediately starts singing the 90's commercial tune. Cha-cha-cha-Chia! No? Well, whatever.

Remembering those chia seeds hanging out in the pantry, I knew I needed to look no further to choose a recipe.

Overnight Greek Yogurt and Chia Seed Parfait
Source: A Fit and Spicy Life
Servings: 4
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    • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt 
    • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
    • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • pinch of salt 
    • 1/4 cup chia seeds
    • 1 cup mixed berries (fresh or frozen)

1. Combine the Greek yogurt, almond milk, maple syrup, vanilla and salt together in a bowl. Stir well to combine, then stir in the chia seeds.
2. Let sit for 30 minutes. The mixture will become very thick.
3. Divide into 4 containers, top with berries, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Being the impatient person that I am, I refrigerated this for a couple of hours before trying one of them. Yum! I'll be completely honest with you, I don't have a clue what chia seeds do for you and I'm too lazy to look it up, but this works wonderfully as a tasty recipe that allows me to use up the rest of that bag of seeds! 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Weekly Menu 7/6 - 7/10

I swear to you on my Kitchenaid that I really am going to post recipes this week. I even have some of them partially written right now! I'm not getting my butt off this computer chair until I have at least 10 recipes blogged, I promise.

How did it get to be July? I can't even comprehend that summer is halfway over. This makes me incredibly sad. I haven't even been to my mom's pool yet! However, with no real plans for the holiday I did spend every day of this three day weekend at the pool. And you should be proud of me, I opted to come back before 3 PM today just so I could work on recipes before it got too late.

The other big thing I accomplished this weekend was cleaning out 99% of the apartment. I still have to really go through the kitchen, but I'm going to save that for another weekend. Would you believe I have 7 13-gallon trash bags full of clothing and shoes to donate. That's kinda disturbing. But I can actually find things in my dresser and side of the closet now, so I'm happy. I also found that I fit into 4 pairs of my old jeans. I was close to fitting into another 3 pairs but opted to donate them because if I do lose enough weight to be back in my old size, I want to celebrate by buying new clothes.

Remind me of this when it happens and I'm complaining that I still can't find any pants that fit. ;)

Famous last words, but it appears to be a nice normal week at work so I'm very excited to get home at a reasonable hour and be able to make dinner again. I feel so thrown off from my usual routine by not cooking. It's really weird. So, this is what I'm making this week:

Sunday: spicy-cilantro grilled chicken with corn on the cob and cucumber salad

Monday: prosciutto wrapped pork, baked potatoes and green beans 

Tuesday: bahn mi burgers, beans, coleslaw 

Wednesday: chili 

Thursday: blueberry waffles with fruit and bacon 

For breakfast I'm having a peach raspberry crumble with vanilla yogurt and lunch will be jalapeno-cheddar chicken meatballs with cucumber salad.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Weekly Menu 6/29 - 7/3

In case you were wondering, I didn't fall off the face of the earth. I've just been so extremely busy lately that I haven't had time to do any of the fun stuff I like to do, like blogging. Hell, I've barely had time to even cook in the last two weeks.

To be honest, it absolutely kills me that I get a little more than three months out of the year where I still have great lighting to photograph dinner and now I don't even get that option anymore. I haven't been getting home early enough to cook, or if I do, dinner isn't done until the sun has started to set. 

The good news is we really don't have anything else planned for the rest of the summer so I'm going to try to cook and bake as much as possible on the weekends to try to get back into a decent swing of things. 

I've mentioned before that I'm very much a creature of habit right? Well, this being unable to make dinner and not baking anything for a month has really thrown me for a loop and I feel like I don't even know where anything is in my own kitchen. On top of everything else going on this weekend, I'm planning to reorganize the pantry and cabinets so I can reacquaint myself with everything. All while watching Cooking Channel or Food Network because I haven't done that in ages either. 

So, um, what's been going on? I'm super, super busy at work and with an hour commute each way I just have no interest in doing anything when I get home. Honestly even the thought of heating up dinner or washing a load of clothes makes me want to cry in exhaustion. If you're friends/following me on Facebook or Twitter, you'll know that I had multiple nights with wine for dinner and even one night where I had wine, popcorn and a cupcake. That's a balanced meal, right?

The good news is, at least, that I've managed to keep off all of the weight I lost while doing the Whole30.  The bad news is, I haven't lost anymore. I blame this on cheese. It's the one thing I have no control over right now. You could easily sit me in front of a 5 pound cheese plate and I'd eat the entire thing. I've got to work on curbing this habit.

Anyway, here is what's planned for dinners this week:

Sunday - spicy Thai curry mussels

Monday - prosciutto wrapped pork, cantelope and bell pepper salsa, fries

Tuesday - basil coconut chicken, Thai basil salad

Wednesday - chimmichurri flank steak, corn on the cob, tomato salad 

Thursday - pancakes, bacon, fruit 

For breakfast I'm going to make another frittata and lunch will be a stir fry. If I get to spend as much time in the kitchen as I'm hoping to this weekend, I'm going to make brownies, muffins, and a parfait. Fingers crossed I have enough time! I'm almost out of recipes to share with you! 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Whole30: A Review

You knew this was coming right? I can't do something and not share my thoughts on it with you. I know the first thing people look for when coming here, so I'll share that first.

Weight Loss: 
I did 28 days of the Whole30. The last 2 days were part of a 3 day juice cleanse. On the last day I ate food, I was down 5.7 pounds. After the juice cleanse, I was down another 2.6 pounds.

Weight wise, this really isn't much compared to what most people lose. I've said on here a million times I have a terrible metabolism that refuses to do anything I ask of her, so I think this is part of it.

I did not measure myself before starting, only took my weight, however my stomach feels and looks flatter (I've had a few people, including Tom who sees me every day) comment, so I'm taking their word on it. Since this is the main area I wanted to lose weight, I'm happy about it.

Other Changes:
I did not get any migraines or break outs during the Whole30. This was quite interesting to realize. I really, really hope they aren't caused by dairy because I really would like that in my diet again.

I did not feel the great increase in energy a lot of people talk about either, but I can say that generally for the last month I've had a bit more energy than usual and I've felt like I've been more pleasant. This could be related to other things (summer, mainly) but I'm going to say it has to do with my eating habits.

Going Forward:
Before I started this, my coworker told me about people who live an 80/20 lifestyle where they have two days (typically the weekend) where they eat what they please and then they stick to the stricter paleo lifestyle during the week. I believe I am going this route, but not necessarily that the weekends will be my 2 days off. I'm sure there will be some weeks where it's more of a 70/30 but I figure as long as I don't go below/above that, I can continue to maintain this for the long run.

Reintroducing Foods:

Dairy: I'm still thinking about a soft serve twist cone like my life depends on it. I cannot wait until I can have one. I also really, really want a burger with cheese. I've never been a big cow's milk fan, so I'm going to stick with the almond and coconut milk varieties just out of preference.

Carbs: This is another hard one. I feel like for the most part, bread and pasta can be a take it or leave it aspect of my life, but then I think about pretzels and oatmeal and I know I need to figure out how to control this throughout the week. I've decided I'm sticking to the whole grain and whole wheat varieties whenever possible and I'll still probably opt to have my burgers without buns for the foreseeable future.

Alcohol: I've never been a big drinker so this has by far been the easiest thing to give up. However, I have 4 events this month alone that I'll probably have a drink. It's poor timing on the part of ending this, but I figure if I drink 4 times this month, it's probably more than I'll drink in the next 6 months combined, so it will all even out at the end.

Legumes: Also incredibly easy for me to give up. I rarely eat beans as it is. I prefer to use them for pie weights. Since it's not something we eat commonly, I'll probably still cook with them, especially when making a chili that Tom likes, but when making one specifically for me, I have no interest in adding beans.

Sugar: I think this is equally as hard as dairy. I have a sweet tooth, I can't deny it. I think I'm just going to work on better portion control and making sure to eat as many natural sugars as possible and still limit those. I read that some people try to limit all their sugars to before noon. That I can handle, hopefully. I've decided I'm going to make my own tea and just buy the stuff from the store with fake sugar when absolutely necessary. Coffee creamer is another hard one, I'm going to have to figure something out here because while I don't miss coffee, I know I'm going to want coffee and none of the creamers are good for you.

Soy: This is another take it or leave it for me. I was perfectly fine with using the coconut aminos in stir fry dishes, although I will admit that I wasn't impressed with using it as a marinade. It gave the chicken a gray color which was just really hard to eat. I know we're eventually going to order Chinese food and I'm not going to order from the bland steamed rice, no seasonings menu. So I think this is just something I'm going to keep an eye out on.

The biggest surprise to me was reading labels. Participating in a Whole30 really opens your eyes to what they put in the foods you eat. I typically think of myself as a person who has a decent amount of knowledge of what to eat and what not to eat. I know how to eat healthy, whether I choose to do so for every meal. There are some items where I would not expect a long list of ingredients and I was disturbed to find them. Canned tuna, for example, can have up to 7 ingredients. Tuna, water (or oil) and salt is all I expected. I'm not sure that choosing organic items really fits into our long-term budget, but I am definitely going to be more aware of label reading to see if there aren't better alternatives to what we are currently choosing. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Minion Cupcakes

This past Saturday we celebrated the birthday of my friends daughter. Kenzie turned 10 back at the end of May, but her party was held on June 14th. It was minion themed so of course I volunteered to make minion cupcakes.

These adorable little buggers had been staring at me on Pinterest forever now and I finally had an excuse to make them. Once I finished them, Tom immediately said that he was jealous he didn't get minions for his birthday.

Knowing how busy I was going to be, at that kids wouldn't even notice the difference between boxed and homemade, I opted to go for the prepared route. You could easily make your favorite chocolate or vanilla cupcake from scratch, as well as making an icing and tinting it blue.

Minion Cupcakes
Source: various images on Pinterest
Servings: 24 cupcakes
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1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.
2. Add cake mix, eggs, water and oil to a bowl or stand mixer and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes or until no lumps remain.
3. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake pans, filling each one about 3/4 of the way full.
4. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
5. Transfer to a wire rack to allow to cool completely.
6. Spread the blue raspberry frosting on top of the cooled cupcakes. Use about 1 1/2 tablespoons of frosting per cupcake.
7. Create the minions by slicing each Twinkie in half. Dab a spot of decorating gel on the back of each candy eye. Place on the Twinkie. Use the remaining gel to draw the minion "goggles" and a smile. Repeat on remaining minions.
8. Press each minion down into the frosting on the cupcake. Gently press 1-3 chocolate sprinkles into the top of the Twinkie creating minion hair.

Aren't these just incredibly adorable? I need an excuse to make them again, they're just too cute! 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Weekly Menu 6/15 - 6/18

Hello there, my wonderful readers. Did you miss me? For as much as I am a procrastinator, I actually love being really busy because it forces me to make lists, set timelines and goals for myself and feel that incredible sense of satisfaction when everything is completed.

However, I realized that I have only done this when either my personal or my work life was incredibly busy, not when both were at the same time. Yet the worlds collided last week and both were incredibly busy, hence me falling off the blogosphere last week.

We went to visit Tom's parents at the beach last weekend. I had Friday as a vacation day. In order to return to work Monday and not be buried until 6 feet of work to do, I opted to work a 12 hour day on Thursday. Then Sunday night, instead of blogging, I opted to go to bed at a reasonable hour to make up for the fact that I'd be getting to work before 7 am on Monday.

I came in early and left late every day last week. This week is going to be even worse because I'm off on Friday again because I'm going to the beach for a girl's weekend with my friend Shannon. It's the same weekend as a music festival in DE so we're leaving Thursday night. Which means I can only come in early AND work late Monday through Wednesday.

Work is busy right now because our biggest customer has a buying trip next month and we need to get all of our items entered into their system. There have also been meetings with new customers, which are going very well but that also creates more work. And then there's the little issue that without all of these new things coming along, it still takes us all week to complete our daily work. So busy is an understatement. :)

I've already committed to not getting home before 9 PM this week, which is why instead of relaxing and planning out better recipes to share with you, I opted to make dinner for the next couple of days. This way I have the choice of either taking it to work and eating it, or coming home and already having it prepared.

Tom chose the menu for this week.

Sunday - Pork in Queso Flameado Sauce with corn on the cob

Monday - Roasted chicken with caramelized tomatoes and herbs, corn on the cob, green beans 

Tuesday - bison pineapple chili 

Wednesday - leftovers

To be completely honest, I'm beginning to reach that breaking point of being so busy and so overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done. I've already decided that the last weekend of June, because we have nothing scheduled, we're going through and deep cleaning everything. Even though my cousin comes and cleans on a weekly basis, we still need to scrub cat snot off the baseboards (don't ask), clean the inside of the oven (any volunteers? I'll pay you) and I want to go through everything we own and throw away what we don't want. We've renewed our lease for the second time and I know there are things in this apartment we've used maybe once since moving in.

Wish me luck to make it through these next 4 days? 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Watermelon and Mint Salad

I initially thought we would go to my mom's house for Memorial Day weekend, but she told me toward the end of last week that she wasn't sure if they would have the pool ready in time. I had a lot to do on Saturday and wanted to keep this weekend as low key as possible, I opted to just hang out at the apartment complex pool.

But that wasn't before I began thinking of different recipes I could bring to my mom's house that I could eat. I know there would be sugar and carbs there to tempt me and I wanted to counteract that as best I could.

One thing that will always be synonymous with holiday weekends at the pool is watermelon. I could easily eat an entire seedless watermelon by myself. (I have a thing for fruit, if you hadn't noticed.) I also have a mint plant growing out of control in my sunroom. Seriously, I pluck off the leaves and the next day they are back again. I could make a lot of mojitos with all the mint we have!

Watermelon and Mint Salad
Source: Cookaholic Wife creation
Servings: 4
Printer Friendly

    • 1/4 seedless watermelon
    • 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
    • 1 tbsp. strawberry balsamic vinegar 
1. Toss all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Keep chilled.

It doesn't get much easier than that, does it?