Posted in Blog, Family, Holidays & Birthday, Self

“Don’t Go Overboard”…

…from your mouth to God’s ears.  Apparently November makes people crazy with the stressors of the holidays, and apparently I am no exception to this rule.  I tried to brush off Thanksgiving this year, simply because I just don’t feel much like hosting, cooking, cleaning or eating anything except perhaps some Chinese take out.  After declaring my boycott of our typical traditional Thanksgiving, I was “strongly encouraged” to cook dinner and invite the normals.

Sooo here I sit here trying to pull together a menu of foods that I don’t like – all so I won’t be inclined to eat “all the carbs” since that’s what I’ve been doing for the past couple weeks – non stop.  I’ve had the blah’s and I’m sure it’s the fault of the weather and the impending holidays.  Thing is, I’m not a holiday hater at all, in fact I love Thanksgiving and Christmas, like a lot!  But…I am a do it all kinda person (read control freak) and I’m tired.  I’d rather focus my energies somewhere else.  A trip perhaps, a family vacation – a relaxing Alaskan cruise, a red eye flight to Bermuda, a leisurely drive to South Dakota – all scream YES?  I really don’t want to put a lot of effort into the holidays because really…who cares?  It’s all been taken for granted for years and who am I to believe I haven’t created monsters out of the people that do enjoy these seasonal traditions?  Packing on the over-indulgence repeatedly only to have it repeated a couple times a year – with again, more indifference to the day – seems kinda mind-numbingly ridiculous to keep putting myself through this considering I’m not sure what my “pay off” is.

I surely don’t care about gifts, I don’t care about working constantly to make sure the house is perfect and all the lights on the tree are placed correctly, I don’t care what people think about me, my home, my traditions or lack thereof.  I care about spending time with my family, having fun and making memories.  I just wonder if finally I’m completely brainwashed on one the two schools of thought; 1.) That Christmas is pretty much a thing of the past since religion is a dying belief and not to mention WAY over commercialized for it to be anything good or  2.) Christmas is THE holiday, the ONLY holiday!  Go crazy!  Start in July – the over planning, over indulging, over feeding, over spending!!  Jesus is the reason for the season!!  I lean towards 2, but it’s simply not effective for me any longer, at least not the way I’ve done it in the past.  It simply does not garner what I am in search of.

The girls are in their teens now, so the magic of Christmas is not what it used to be.  The joy and excitement of Christmas morning is lost on “more sleep” and snapchat streaks.  As of this very moment, I’m leaning toward one tree instead of three, a small dinner for the four of us and simple minimalistic gifts.  As my best friend’s words ring in my ear concerning my now revised Thanksgiving plans, “…don’t go overboard…”.  I’m going to try to heed her advice and simply chose to do what matters.

Wish me luck, as I am really no different than the other millions of sheep, I too become caught up.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this year I can focus on the things that ultimately do matter and truly enjoy the holidays.

xoxo

 

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Posted in Around Town, Food

Living on the Edge

I’m not a follower – at all.  Never cared to be and still don’t.  I don’t follow trends, I don’t form the same “popular” opinions many do, I have my own way of interpreting things and I’m ok with that.  Never been one to run with the popular, trendy or even the up and coming.  I’m more into the tried and true group.  I like to take my time forming my opinions, preferably once all the kinks have been worked out and the initial popularity was waned.  Let’s take Aldi for example.  The first time I ever went to Aldi’s was about 8 years ago when I moved to Indiana and let’s just say I wasn’t impressed.  In 8 years, I’ve only been to Aldi’s a handful of times and truthfully I’m still not yet “that” impressed, but I’m working on it.

I went grocery shopping at Aldi’s a couple weeks ago and I made a long searched for discovery!

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Frozen, wild caught ahi tuna steaks!  I have hunted and searched and looked for frozen tuna or salmon that I can eat raw for a few years now and low and behold, I finally found it – on the bottom shelf of a freezer in our local Aldi’s!  Who woulda thunk?

I drive out of my way to buy a container or two of the Spicy & Mild Tuna Poke from Fresh Thyme, our local organic market.  It’s expensive so I don’t shop there too often but I love their poke for a quick, delicious, good for me lunch.  But since I found the ahi at Aldi’s and grabbed 3 bags of it, I can now make my own!

Here was my first experience making my own Ahi Tuna Poke (pronounced poh-kay not poke).

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Ahi Tuna Poke

2 T. soy sauce
1 t. rice vinegar
1 t. sesame oil
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
12 oz. ahi tuna, cut into cubes
1-2 spring onions, sliced thin
1-2 T. sweet yellow onion, diced small
2 T. Mae Ploy Sweet “Chilli” Sauce

 

Cut tuna into chunks and slice and dice onions.  Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and allow to sit in refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes for flavors to meld (although I couldn’t wait that long!).  The original recipe calls for 1 t. of sesame seeds but I omitted them from my recipe as they do add calories.

I thought this was “almost” as good as Fresh Thyme’s poke.  I think if I had let it sit for a while and the flavors blend, it would have been just as good, but I’ll be making it again soon so I’ll try to remember to report back any changes and discoveries!  If you enjoy tuna poke as much as I do.  I think this recipe is very good!  Give it a shot!

xoxo

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Posted in Food

Fooducate Yourself

Yesterday my daughter job shadowed a cardiothorasic surgeon at our local hospital.  Since I had to drop her off at o’dark thirty, I thought I’d take the opportunity of the early morning and hit the Walmart across town before the crowds hit.  It’s WAY better than our Walmart and ours is much newer?!  Go figure.

I love to grocery shop.  Especially since I started down the road of exploration to eating a healthier and more colorful diet.  Although I’m a list maker, I tend to not adhere to exactly what’s on my list.  I’m a shopper – I like to check out the new stuff, price compare, read labels, mozey up and down each aisle so I don’t miss anything, and ultimately buy things I’ve never heard of or ever tried before.  Usually the better half grocery shops with me so I don’t do that as much as I’d like, but yeterday I spent 3 hours spending a chunk of the kids college fund!

One of the apps that I’ve found that is a huge benefit to me as someone trying to eat healthier and cleaner is Fooducate.  I absolutely love it!  It has all the nutritional info, what’s good and bad about the product, a bar code reader, message boards, you can enter your foods that you’ve eaten, you can follow foods and even sign up for their newsletter which is truly informative.  It’s where I go to find the better-for-you alternatives to the foods that I love but also know that aren’t good for me.  In many cases, it’s been a godsend!

Using Fooducate, I discovered all of the cake mixes and pre-boxed items that we eat are full of GMO’s, slowly I’ve been trying to eradicate those from my diet.  Easier said than done when sometimes you just want something quick and you’re used to using these boxed products.  I use Jiffy corn bread mix, Bisquick, Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker cake mixes, etc. and every one of them that I scanned have questionable ingredients and GMO’s.  That’s really NOT a good thing when trying to eat better.  And not that we eat this stuff that often, but still, when we do want a cake or a biscuit or a pancake, why should it be laden with additives and chemicals??

Of course we love waffles around here – and pancakes.  I use Kodiak Cakes, Flapjack and Waffle Mix.  It’s non-GMO which is perfect, but just in case we run out I found this recipe and thought I’d whip some up to give it a shot.

Bisquick Substitute found online

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (you can use other flours as well)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon shortening, vegetable oil, or melted butter 

Sift together flour, baking powder & salt.  Cut shortening/oil/butter by using a grater, a pastry blender or two knives, into dry ingredients until it’s well combined and the mixture rolls into small balls.  Store in fridge for 4 months in an airtight container.  One cup of substitute equals one cup of Bisquick.

Bisquick Substitute found on Fooducate

1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. all purpose flour
3 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2 T. oil of your choice

Mix ingredients and store in fridge for 4 months in airtight container!

Here are some of my findings from yesterday, I LOVE those Beech Nut bars!

Have a great Wednesday everyone!

xoxo

Posted in Family, Food, Holidays & Birthday

Flu Shot Season

Ahhhh, here we are – mid October; a break from school when it seems it just started, winter clothes shopping and a visit to the med clinic for the dreaded annual flu shot.  I know, I know, it sounds like a blast.  My kids bitch at me because I have a tendency to schedule such “unfun” things on what should be “fun” days.  My oldest daughter constantly reminds me that in the past I scheduled a couple of her dental visits on her birthday.  With all her crabbing, you would have thought I’d FORGOTTEN it was her birthday altogether, but no, it was just a day that was convenient and that I could remember!

Yesterday, I told everyone to get up and get movin’, we were heading out…for flu shots.  They were anything but thrilled, but thankfully we got it done.  It’s not the most fun I’ve ever had, but hey, I hear it’s better than the flu!

We had had the better half’s family over for a birthday get together on Saturday.  Since we have so many October birthday’s, I considered making birthday cakes for everyone, but instead I decided to go with cupcakes and an apple crisp.  I didn’t really ask how everyone felt about the cupcakes, but personally, I loved them!  These “not too sweet” pumpkin cupcakes with Kahlua cream cheese frosting hit the spot!

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Look deep into my eyes…lol

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Kahlua Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 12 (although I made 19 with this recipe)

Cupcake:
1 c. pumpkin puree
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1 large egg
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1/3 c. milk
3 T. vegetable oil
2 T. applesauce
1/2 c. walnuts (optional)

Frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 c. butter, room temperature
2 T. Kahlua
2 c. confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 400*. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In another large bowl, whisk the egg, brown and white sugar together until smooth. Stir in milk, oil, applesauce, pumpkin and walnuts, just until combined. Don’t over mix. Fill a cupcake pan with batter 2/3’s full.

Bake in oven for 16-20 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and Kahlua together using an electric mixer. Gradually add in confectioners sugar until smooth and creamy. Frost cupcakes, serve and enjoy!

Making 12:
342 per cupcake (eek)

Making 19:
Cal: 216
Fat: 8g.
Carb: 35g.
Pro: 2g

These were more adult than kid and really fit this time of year.  It goes without saying that I love Kahlua, but if you don’t the taste can be a little strong.  I’d half it or omit it all together if you’re not a fan.  If you give them a try, let me know what you think!

xoxo

Posted in Food

See Food?! Eat It!!

The photo does NOT do this dish justice.  I should have taken a photo of this in the pan before serving, but I forgot!

Greek Shrimp with Tomatoes & Feta

1 T. Ghee
3 shallots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (use less if you are heat-sensitive)
1 tablespoon honey
1-1/2 pounds extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 ounces feta cheese
3/4 teaspoon dried oreganoPreheat oven to 400°F; place one oven rack in the middle position and another about 5 inches from the broiler.Heat the ghee in an oven-proof skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Do not brown.
Add the tomatoes with their juices, salt, pepper, cumin, red pepper flakes, and honey. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, 15 to 20 minutes.

Turn off the heat and arrange the shrimp over the tomato sauce in an even layer. Crumble the feta over the shrimp, and then sprinkle with the oregano. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the shrimp are pink and just cooked (the cooking time will depend on the size of the shrimp).

Turn on the broiler. Using an oven mitt, carefully transfer the pan to the higher oven rack and broil for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the feta is golden brown in spots. Using an oven mitt, remove the pan from the oven (and immediately place the oven mitt or a dishtowel over the handle of the pan because it’s very easy to forget that it is burning hot). Let the shrimp rest for 5 minutes and serve.

I served this dish with garlic bread & noodles, but would have been great with some plain crusty bread and a Greek salad! My whole family devoured it! And they NEVER all like the same thing!

Cal: 252
Fat: 13g.
Carbs: 15g.
Pro: 29g.

 

Posted in Food

Crock Pot Ranch Chicken Tacos

Made these Friday night and they were delicious, the chicken was just fall apart yummy!  Although I made tacos with the chicken, you could do anything; pizzas, salads, sandwiches, you name it!  Next time I’m making extra, it was just that good!

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Crock Pot Ranch Chicken Tacos

(adapted from Eat-Drink-Love.com)

6 chicken breasts
1 medium onion
1 32 oz. container low sodium chicken broth
2 packages taco seasoning
2 packages ranch seasoning mix*
Taco shells
Toppings: lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, black olives, onions, avocado, salsa, sour cream

Pour and stir seasonings in crock pot with broth.  Add chopped onion & chicken to the pot and cook on low 6-8 hours, the longer you cook it, the more tender it is and I like my meat fork tender!

Remove the chicken from crock pot and pull apart the meat with 2 forks.  Add chicken back to the liquid and remove meat with tongs or slotted spoon when ready to serve!

Place meat in taco shells, add desired toppings and enjoy!

*Handy tip: if you don’t have ranch seasoning mix, add some ranch dressing to the taco when done!