Category Archives: food

March Meal Plan – Part 1

Last week I talked about our new Paleo diet and today I’m going to share with you a couple of weeks of meals. Twice a month I’ll give you a couple of weeks of meals so you can follow along with what we’re fixing. If something is super tasty, I’ll share the recipe and specifics. Also, some of the recipes are from cookbooks that I own or that I’ve borrowed from the library. I’ll do my best to provide links and sources for everything.

Week 1

Sunday – Beef Brisket in Espresso Bean BBQ Sauce (The Paleo Slow Cooker) with roasted green beans and mashed cauliflower (like mashed potatoes, but with cauliflower!)

Monday – Leftovers

Tuesday - Damn Fine Chicken with roasted broccoli and fruit

Wednesday – Ash Wednesday – fasting/no meal planned

Thursday – Bacon Apple Smothered Pork with a salad

Friday, Saturday – Out of town, no meals planned

 

Week 2

Sunday – Fiery Jalapeño Burgers with Sweet Potato “Buns” and salad (we used ground beef instead of bison – it was SUPER delicious with the sweet potato “buns”)

Monday – Curried Chicken Wings (The Paleo Slow Cooker)  with fruit

Tuesday – Korean Beef Wrapped Asparagus with baked sweet potatoes and strawberries

Wednesday – Chicken Bacon Mushroom Quiche with fruit (I made this without the mushrooms)

Thursday – Leftovers

Friday – Asian Orange Pan Seared Scallops (Practical Paleo) with a salad

Saturday – Sweet and Sour Meatballs with mashed cauliflower and Mustard Roasted Asparagus (Primal Cravings)

If you want specific recipes that I aren’t online, just let me know and I’ll send you the recipe!

I’m attempting to make scallops tonight for the first time. I’m not a big fan of seafood, but it’s Lent and I can’t just pop a cheese pizza in the oven! So, one of my goals this Lent is to branch out into the world of seafood on Fridays. I’m a little scared, but I’m trying to keep an open mind! Wish me luck!

Happy Friday!

We’ve Gone Paleo

Over the past few months, Matt and I have switched over to the Paleo diet. Have you heard of it? If you haven’t, you’re not alone. Most people we’ve talked to about it haven’t heard of it and think we’re crazy for trying it.  The basic idea of the Paleo diet is to avoid all grains, dairy, and legumes, along with refined sugars, processed foods, and starches. So, if we can’t eat bread, dairy, rice, or beans, what do we eat? The answer is simple in theory, but more difficult in practice – lean meats, vegetables, nuts/seeds, and fruit. Easy, right? We’ve had great success with sticking to this diet at home, even though it takes a bit more planning and effort than the traditional American diet. I am still planning out my meals, either weekly or monthly, depending on how much time I have. The planning allows us to have complete control over everything we eat at home. We always have healthy snacks and filling meals. But, the difficulty lies in eating out or in someone else’s home. While we are pretty dedicated and convicted about this new way of eating, that does NOT mean that we don’t miss bread. Or rice. Or sweet treats. So, we’ve chosen to stick to this diet about 90% at home and then we give ourselves a little leeway when are not eating at home. We still try to make smart decisions about our food, but we indulge a little. That’s what has made it possible for us to remain committed. We can’t beat ourselves up or feel guilty about eating non-Paleo food occasionally, as long as we are sticking with the plan the majority of the time.

So, why are we doing this crazy diet? For us, the most simple reason is that it was recommended by the physician I see. He also eats Paleo and knows personally and professionally that the health benefits of eliminating grains, dairy, and legumes are huge. After being on the diet for a few days, I could already notice a change in my energy levels. And I can definitely tell that my body does not work as properly when I eat the “avoided” foods. Especially pizza. Yikes.

Anywho, I know this sounds like a giant push for a diet that sounds like a fad. But, we’ve decided to stick with it and you all know I love talking about food on the blog. So, my food posts will be a bit different from here on out. No more pasta dishes or homemade bread.  I do want to share with you the recipe resources that I have found helpful. I want to share our meal plans and the ups and downs of this journey. So, please stick with us, and maybe even give cauliflower rice a try. What do you think?

So, next week, I’ll share our meal plan for March. Until then, check out my two go-to sources for online recipes:

Nom Nom Paleo:

 

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Against All Grain:

 

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Have a great weekend!

As Seen on Pinterest : Food

I’ve professed my love for Pinterest many times on this blog, so it’ll be no surprise to you that I devoted a week or so to making mostly Pinterest meals.  I knew going into this that a great photograph can make anything look tasty. So, I chose my meals carefully, based more on the ingredients versus the delectable photos.  Here’s what I chose:

I made these for Super Bowl Sunday. I used whole wheat tortillas which were a little bigger than those in the Pinterest picture, so instead of taquitos they were more like…well, tacos. I made a large batch and froze some of them. Right out of the oven, these bad boys were delicious. Crispy and creamy. Just good. But, I reheated a frozen one the other day and it tasted a bit like cardboard. So, maybe just eat them fresh? Here’s a picture of a couple of my big taquito creations:

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These were really interesting and actually pretty good. It was neat to have the egg and the bread so intertwined. My only issue was with actually getting the egg to stay in the boat. I guess I didn’t have enough of a lip on one of the boats because the egg mixture just poured right over the edge. So, if you make this, just make sure your boat is not too shallow. Here’s what mine looked like (obviously my bread isn’t as fancy as that in the above picture, but it still tasted good!):

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I love crockpot recipes as much as the next gal because of their convenience and usual tastiness.  I don’t think I prefer jambalaya in the crockpot, though. The sausage was mushy and the chicken was dry. It just wasn’t as good as other jambalaya recipes I’ve made. Bummer.

Yum. This was soo good. It tasted like a meal from a restaurant. We grilled the chicken instead of cooking it in a skillet and I used Jerk seasoning instead of Cajun because it’s just what I had on hand! Oh, and Buitoni pasta was Buy One Get One Free at Publix, so the pasta was fresh instead of dried. All contributing factors the the awesomeness of this dish.

This recipe was actually for quesadillas, but I didn’t want to mess with that, so I just put the meat, cheese, and sauce into a tortilla. It was ok. I would have like some rice or something else in the tortilla besides just a bunch of meat. So, just ok.

 

I thought this was pretty good. But,  there definitely was not enough sauce.  I actually added a bit more and it didn’t look nearly as saucy as the picture on Pinterest. And Matt doesn’t like spicy pasta, so this wasn’t his favorite. Good, but not good enough to repeat.

 

Overall it was a fun week of new recipes. We found a few keeper recipes, so I’m going to deem this a successful Pinterest experiment!

Turkey, Football, and Aprons

Matt and I had a busy Thanksgiving weekend, as usual. We kicked off the holiday weekend with a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner with some friends followed by a boat ride down. That’s right, we enjoyed a Thanksgiving with temperatures warm enough for a boat right. While this does seem like a perk of Florida, the warm weather makes it almost impossible to get into the holiday spirit. I keep stepping outside expecting it to be cold. I wonder how many years in Florida it will take for me to adjust?

Anyway, Matt and I had great plans to stand in line at Target at midnight to score some Black Friday deals. But, when we arrived at Target at 11pm and we saw that the line was already wrapped around three sides of the store, we left. While it may seem like we just gave up, Matt decided that we had a better chance with the online deals, also starting at midnight, than with the 1000+ people in line at our little Target.

The next morning, we headed over to Tampa to watch our UofL boys play USF.

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Now, traditionally, we always lose this game when we are in Tampa. So, Matt and I went into the game expecting to watch a good game, but probably not a win for Louisville. But, our boys delivered. It was a glorious win, made even more special because we broke a long running streak of losing at USF.

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The win felt good, but so did seeing hundreds of UofL fans in Florida. I felt a strong sense of comradery with everyone wearing red and black. And once we felt that there might be a chance to win this game, our fans went wild and stayed standing for almost the whole last quarter of the game. It was a great way to spend a Friday morning.

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One the way back from Tampa on Saturday, we stopped at IKEA. Even though I had a purpose, that store is always so overwhelming.  I got a few items for the office/sewing room. Once everything’s up and organized, I’ll share some pictures with you.  It’s coming along nicely.

The rest of the weekend was spent sewing, sewing, and then some more sewing. While the pressure from the impending craft fairs is off, I am still working to fill the Etsy shop and to prepare for the next fair (which I haven’t signed up for!).

I added some new items to the shop, particularly aprons, some with a Christmas-y theme. Here are some shots of the new stuff:

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You can see more information and pictures in the shop.

Overall, our Thanksgiving weekend was probably one of the best since we’ve been in Florida.  Since we are always away from our families on Thanksgiving, it makes us extra thankful for our dear friends here in Florida who take us in and treat us like family on these holidays away. Times like these also make us truly thankful for our amazing families and the precious time we spend with them.

How was your Thanksgiving weekend?

Going Unprocessed

A few months ago we started the Cookbook Challenge, vowing to cook through the cookbooks on our shelf. We had a great start with Jamie Oliver, but as the months and cookbooks went on, I started to not be as thrilled with the recipes. You see, Jamie opened a door for me. The door to lots of fresh food. And while all that butter the Pioneer Woman encouraged us to use tasted good, it just wasn’t as good as all the vegetables we had gotten used to with Jamie.  And then we watched a few food documentaries, including this one:

And then I found this blog.

This blog is what it says. One family went 100 days without processed foods and haven’t turned back. She discusses their choices and methods and what she learned about processed foods.

I was inspired.  So, we’ve some big changes in what we buy/cook/eat. Here’s what we’re doing now:

1. No more processed food. While this seems like it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, it sorta is for us. We didn’t eat tons of processed foods, but since we both work, processed foods can be a huge convenience when it comes to getting dinner on the table quickly and having easy-to-grab snacks available. Since I am committed to this change and didn’t want to be persuaded by what was in the pantry, I rounded up all the unopened processed foods and we donated them to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul at our church.

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And you know what? I haven’t missed them. Until I can figure out how to make wheat pasta, we are cutting our pasta intake way down and making our own sauce.   Instead of grabbing a Nutri-Grain bar, we grab an orange.  Pretty good trade, right?

2. This also means moving away from processed grains like white flour and white rice. This one has been a little tougher than it sounds. It’s almost impossible to find 100% whole wheat bread in the grocery (most wheat bread has white flour in it because white flour is lighter and makes the bread fluffier and less dense).  I do have a bread machine, but I don’t have 3 hours after work to make bread and I haven’t gotten the hang of freezing bread from the bread machine yet. So, we’ve cut back our bread consumption. And, guess what, we haven’t missed it. Occasionally I’ll get a loaf from the Publix bakery, but it’s a treat.

One of the best things to come out of giving up white wheat has been the discovery of homemade wheat tortillas.

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It started when I went to the grocery and couldn’t find tortillas that weren’t overly processed. So, I decided to take the plunge and give these a try. They were totally worth it. These are the most delicious tortillas we have ever had. They are a bit tricky to make at first, but once you get into the swing of making them, they are easy. You can also make a bunch and freeze them for later!

3. No high fructose corn sugar.

This definitely goes along with our no processed foods promise, but high fructose corn sugar is in everything! So, we’re checking labels for the packaged items we do buy (ketchup, applesauce, etc) to make sure that the sneaky ingredient doesn’t make its way into our home.  This also means no soda or sugary drinks, but we cut those bad boys out years ago.

4. Eat at home more often. Before this change, we ate at home 5-6 nights out of the week which means we were out on the town a couple of nights. And our town doesn’t have really great options for dining out. We live in a place that loves chain restaurants.  So, instead of driving a bit to get to something local, we usually hit up Outback or something similar.  Now we plan to eat out once every few weeks. Eating at home is not only cheaper and healthier, but it guarantees that we will have lunch leftovers for the next day.  And when we do eat out, we opt for a local restaurant, which usually tastes better than the chains anyway.

And when we cook we don’t use any already made ingredients like cream of anything soup, croutons, taco seasoning, etc.  We’re trying to increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables that end up on our table and not have the focus of the meal be a big slab of meat.

5. Buy local fruits and vegetables, organic if possible.

This one is a bit hard for us. We don’t have great local farmer’s markets around. My friend, Paola, and I have been on the hunt for local farmer’s markets, but it’s been a tough search. Most of our farmer’s markets sell fruit from all over the world at a cheaper price than the grocery. The solution has been to grow as much as we can in our own yards and keep looking.

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So, that’s it! We’ve been at this for about three weeks and we can already notice changes in the way we look at processed foods. I have discovered that the more you learn, the less you want to know because it’s hard to keep eating food laden with high fructose corn syrup and preservatives once you know how horrible they are for us.  The key to this whole process is to check labels. Because, obviously, the only way to have control over what you eat is to know what is in your food.

And to answer your question, yes, I guess we have become hippy-ish. And watch out, we’re composting now and starting to collect rain water!

http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2010/05/26/recipe-whole-wheat-tortillas/

Homemade Pumpkin Ice Cream

Yes, we made pumpkin ice cream. Fall has officially started and I am totally in the fall mood. I want to plan all kinds of soups and stews for dinner and drink coffee and eat pumpkin products. Unfortunately, it’s still 90 degrees here. This is the hardest part of the year for me. All my friends and family up north are bundling up and drinking warm drinks. I’m wearing tank tops and flip flops, baking in the Florida fall. Alas, it is a burden we Floridians must bear.

In order to force fall into our home, we made pumpkin ice cream. Matt got an ice cream maker for his birthday and we’ve only used in once. I came across a recipe for homemade pumpkin ice cream and I knew we had to try it.

Here’s an aerial view of our ice cream maker hard at work.

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Matt can’t be too far from it. You know, just in case it needs his taste testing skills.

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And, at last, fresh pumpkin ice cream with a spot of coffee.

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It was very pumpkin-y and delicious and fall-y.  Now if only we can get the dang weather to cooperate.

Better Homes and Gardens : Week 1

At long last, I finally have some recipe reviews to share with you. We’re cooking from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook in July and August. It’s a big cookbook, so I decided to spread it out over 2 months.  Oh, and I decided to just post pictures of the finished product this month instead of the collage style. If anyone really misses the collage, let me know, but I decided I needed a break from all those pictures! Here’s what we’ve been cooking:

Baked Cavatelli

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This was what it seemed : baked pasta with sausage. We love pasta at our house, so it’s hard to go wrong with pasta with red sauce. While this wasn’t really anything spectacular, it was pretty good.

Matt: 4.25

Katie : 4.25

Scrambled Egg Pizza

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I was a little worried about this recipe. It was so different than anything we’ve ever had or thought to make. The dough was thawed out frozen bread dough. The recipe actually called for wheat dough, but Publix didn’t have frozen wheat dough, so I just went for white bread. So, in case you can’t tell from the photos, the pizza consisted of a crust, monterey jack cheese, scrambled eggs, crumbled bacon, green peppers, and a bit more cheese. And you know what, it wasn’t that bad. I’m not sure we’ll ever make it again, but it was a fun dinner to make!

Matt : 4.25

Katie : 4


Spaghetti Pie

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This was another strange recipe. For this “pie”, the pasta was the pie crust and the meat sauce was the filling. My biggest complaint with this recipe was that the spaghetti got a little hard when it baked since there wasn’t a lot of sauce to keep it moist.  Since we have some high standards for pasta, we probably won’t be making this one again.

Matt : 4.0

Katie: 4.0

Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches

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This is what it seems. Sausage topped with sauteed peppers and onions. Since I’m not a big fan of lots of peppers and onions, this wasn’t my favorite meal. Matt, however, loved this dinner.

Matt : 5.0

Katie : 3.5

Five Spice Chicken Kabobs

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Kabobs are always fun, especially when pineapple is involved. Since we don’t have a real grill, I cooked these in our panini press, and they turned out just fine. Again, it was nothing spectacular, but it wasn’t bad.

Matt : 4.25

Katie : 4.0

Tortellini with Rosemary Tomato Sauce

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Yet another pasta dish! This recipe was super simple and I got to use rosemary from our garden. While I usually love tortellini dishes, I wasn’t impressed by this. The sauce was homemade, but it was a bit too chunky for my liking.

Matt : 4.5

Katie : 3.75

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of the gumbo. It was a crockpot meal that I made the night before and I just forgot to take pictures when we actually ate this meal. While it didn’t hold a candle to real gumbo, it was still pretty tasty.

Matt : 4.25

Katie : 4.25

Well, that’s the first round of recipes from the new cookbook. While I haven’t really been blown away yet, I haven’t been disappointed. To me, this cookbook seems like it’s just about the basics of cooking. Most of the recipes are fairly simple and quick to cook. I think we’ll into more exciting recipes in a few weeks, but I haven’t been too impressed yet!

Happy Friday!

Cookbook Challenge : July/August

July’s almost halfway over and I’m just now getting to our next cookbook! It’s been a crazy first half of a month for us with holidays and visitors and going home for a wedding. Also, I think the extreme Florida heat is affecting my ability to do, well, anything.  Anyway, I’ve decided that our next cookbook will be a biggie, the Better Homes and Gardens binder cookbook.

I got this cookbook as a wedding shower gift. I have cooked from it occasionally, but I have mostly kept it on the shelf as a reference book for conversions or substitutions or when I can’t find any other recipe for gingerbread cookies.  It’s a huge cookbook, so I’ve decided to make it span July and August.  The hardest part so far has been going through the whole books and picking out recipes.

I hope you’re having a great week! Stay tuned later this week for a wrap up of this week’s cooking!

Cookbook Giveaway : The Pioneer Woman Cooks

June has come to a close and so has my copy of the Pioneer Woman Cooks.  And you know what, we were happily surprised by this cookbook. I don’t know if there were any recipes that we really didn’t like.  I love it when that happens! As part of this Cookbook Challenge experience, I have decided to give away a copy of each cookbook I cook from. So, today’s the day. See the details below for how to enter!

  • PRIZE: The Pioneer Woman Cooks
  • TO ENTER: Comment on this post with the words, “I LOVE COWS!”
  • GIVEAWAY CLOSES: Sunday, July 3rd at 8pm EST
  • NUMBER OF WINNERS: One
  • PRIZE SHIPS: The United States and Canada
  • EXTRA STUFF: One entry per e-mail address is permitted. The winners will be selected using random.org and announced on Monday. Good luck!

The Pioneer Woman Cooks : Week 4

July 1st has arrived. Not only does this mean daily thunderstorms in Florida and lots of mosquitoes, it also means the closing of another cookbook.  It was a pretty good week, if I do say so myself. Here’s the last recap of the Pioneer Woman Cooks:

Comfort Meatballs

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I was a little nervous about these because the last time I made meatballs they didn’t turn out so hot.  But, I gave it a go anyway. These turned out to be pretty tasty. Of course, meatballs are a fairly messy meal to make, and the PW has the extra step of browning them before you bake them. I also made twice baked potatoes from her cookbook. Those babies were good!  Overall, it was a very good meal. The leftovers were really tasty too!

Matt :4.75

Katie:4.25

Edna Mae’s Sourcream Pancakes

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I don’t think I’ve ever made pancakes from scratch. Actually, to be honest, I don’t think I’ve made pancakes, ever.  My dad is the pancake maker in the family. We always have them on Christmas morning.  Anywho, I think the pancake flip is a learned skill and I don’t quite have it down.  The recipe was very straight forward, but the hard part was in the execution. I managed a batch of pancake looking discs, but Dad wouldn’t have been proud. They turned out much thinner than I expected.  And, strangely, the recipe didn’t make enough pancakes. I should have increased the recipe a smidgen so Matt could have eaten 6-8 pancakes instead of 4 (they were small pancakes, people!).   I think they tasted pretty good. Matt thought they were alright.

Matt :4

Katie : 4.25

Meatloaf

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Meatloaf conjures up all kinds of bad imagery for me. I guess I don’t have any good thoughts about meatloaf because I didn’t have meatloaf until my adult years and by that time, I just couldn’t appreciate a big loaf of beef.  But, alas, Matt loves meatloaf. So, because I love Matt, I will submit myself to squishing raw meat with my bare hands and then proceeding to eat the baked version of said meat.  This version was better than Jamie’s, but I still just couldn’t really enjoy it. The sauce for the topping was pretty good, but otherwise…eh, it was ok. Matt liked it, though.

Matt: 5

Katie : 3.75

Roast Beef Tenderloin

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I was a little concerned about this recipe. Beef tenderloin is expensive, folks. I knew that I might be able to find a smaller version of a whole beef tenderloin, so that’s the hope I held onto as I perused the meat section of Publix. But, no dice. They didn’t even have a whole beef tenderloin. So, I settled for the next best thing, Filet Mignon, which is just sliced beef tenderloin.  I also opted for smaller cuts so the $16.99/lb price wouldn’t shock my budget too much. Now, the PW calls for bacon grease. Who keeps bacon grease around these days, besides her, I guess? We don’t have bacon that often. And even if we did, I couldn’t force myself to keep the grease. Yuck. Anyway, I left out the bacon grease in the recipe and it turned out just fine. Actually better than fine. It was delicious. Maybe it was just the high grade cut of meat. Whichever, this was one tasty meal. I also made PW’s Creamy Rosemary Potatoes as a side. They were pretty good, but I don’t think I’ll make them again. Too much cream. Here’s the rating:

Matt : 5

Katie : 4.75

That’s it! It was a pretty good month of recipes! I’ll be giving away one of her cookbooks this afternoon, so don’t forget to check back! Happy Friday!