Thursday, January 31, 2013

What Are You Going to Season That With? Uhhh, Bacon!!! Duh!

It has been an incredibly long and trying week and it is only Thursday! I feel like I'm pushing my body right over the limit physically in the gym and mentally at work. And gearing up for running 10 miles, when I currently don't even run 1 at a time which is emotionally draining every single day. Did I mention I'm running a tough mudder in May? Luckily I've had some awesome support in that department, thanks Ellen and Dahlia! So the point I'm trying to get at is that I am not creating anything for you guys this week since all my energy is going into my work and workouts! I am really sorry! But that doesn't mean I'm going to leave you high and dry.

I downloaded a great App called Fast Paleo a while ago and I regularly search that for good dinner ideas. This week I made something I found on there that was posted by eileenio. It is a bacon stuffed chicken breast. Well, the decision to make that was easy enough: Did someone say bacon!?!?!? Aaaand the only thing I needed to buy for it was carrots! Imagine that! I did modify the amount of the ingredients some, but it's still the same ingredients as the original. And it's unbelievably easy!

Here's the breakdown:

2 chicken breasts
2 large carrots
3/4 to 1 small onion
1.5 cups pecans
1lb center cut bacon

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Cut each chicken breast in half horizontally to make two thin breasts/cutlets. Then cover the chicken with a gallon size Ziploc bag and pound out the pieces. Most people use a kitchen mallet, I used a hammer! You say tomato, I say tomaaaato! Anyway, get them pretty thin. Then put everything else, but the bacon, in a food processor and pulse until it is almost paste consistency. Put the "stuffing" lengthwise down the middle of each chicken piece and wrap the sides of the chicken around it. Then wrap the whole darn thing with bacon. This should take about 2-3 pieces of bacon per chicken. Place the happy meats on an oven rack on a baking sheet so that the fat from the bacon will drip off the food and onto the pan. Bake for 35 minutes. Then place the chicken under the broiler until brown/crisp on both sides (this means flip them over). I then patted off the cooked chicken on paper towel just to get rid of any extra grease.

I served this with a green salad and roasted brussel sprouts. It was a really great meal, mostly because of the bacon, but the filling was really really yummy too. In fact, I took the left over filling, added an egg, dry sage and fresh time and baked it in muffin tins. That was really yummy too!

Well, I know it's not my own creation, but it definitely wasn't disappointing! Now I guess I need to get my butt outside for a run!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

West Coast BLT Po' Boy

When I was a kid we did very little eating out. We didn't have elaborate meals every night, but we just didn't go out because there was no time or someone was tired. To be fair to all of us that work hard and have a million things going on, my mom didn't work until I was about 15 so feeding us was important to her. Again, however, it wasn't always roasts and big meals that took all day to prepare. In fact, we ate sandwiches pretty regularly. Sometimes it was because there was leftover picnic ham from a bigger meal and sometimes it was just a good old BLT! I'm not sure if you folks know how I feel about bacon, so I'll clear it up! Bacon makes EVERYTHING better. I used to feel guilty about eating it, but I've gotten over that. In my opinion a small amount of bacon is better for me than an english muffin or bowl of pasta, so I'm over beating myself up about eating it. And frankly, I don't mess with turkey bacon. It's not bacon, it's just not. You will not change my mind on that. So I had a hankerin for some bacon and a mess of leftover frozen shrimp. That's when I decided I would make a cross between a BLT and a Po' Boy. What came of it was something truly delicious but super simple! Josh and I were in bacon euphoria!

West Coast BLT Po'Boy

Here's the breakdown:

About 1lb raw shrimp, tail off
3/4 lb center cut bacon
Campari tomatoes, sliced
Romaine lettuce
Old Bay 
Coconut oil spray
1 avocado
2 Tbsp Paleo Mayo
*If you're not paleo, just use regular
2 Tbsp finely diced onion
Meyer lemon juice
*Regular lemons are fine, but Meyer lemons are in season and I adore them
garlic powder
cayenne pepper

Fry or bake your bacon until crispy. Pat off the cooked bacon with a paper towel and chop it up into large bits. While the bacon is cooking start the avocado sauce. Put one ripe avocado and the mayo in a mini food processor. Blend it until it's completely smooth. Add 1/2 a Meyer lemon's juice and blend again. Transfer that to a bowl and add onion, a sprinkle of garlic powder, s&p and a small small amount of cayenne pepper. Put plastic wrap on the surface of the sauce and store in the refrigerator until you need it. Not for days mind you, the avocado will start to oxidize and turn brown. Then make sure your shrimp are thawed completely and dried off with no tail. I like when I get good grill marks on them and that won't happen if they're a bit damp. Sprinkle them with a generous amount of Old Bay seasoning. Get your grill screaming hot. I did this on my indoor grill and I actually liked it better especially since I didn't have to put them on skewers.  Spray your grill with coconut oil spray and put the shrimp on. Flip them over about 3 minutes into cooking if you're doing it on the indoor grill. If you're skewered them and are grilling outside you'll need less time. I used Romaine lettuce as my vessel for everything. So on the lettuce, I stacked up the tomatoes, sauce, shrimp and bacon bits and wrapped them up! Josh put his on a bun, but honestly even if I did eat wheat, I wouldn't have this time because all the flavors popped and I think the bread would have outweighed a really delicious mix of flavors. He did love it though, so I don't know.

This was a light meal that was creamy, spicy, salty, smokey and fresh all at the same time. I highly recommend you try this one and even if you eat wheat, try it without, I think you'll be happy you did.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Go Go Go!!!!

It was going to be a hectic week. Two night meetings, two late evening workouts and one super early bootcamp, a walk through the new condo, plus getting ready to head to Vermont. So on Sunday, despite the fact that my entire body hurt, I knew I needed to get food ready for the week. When I say my whole body hurt, I am not exaggerating. On Saturday sweet Jackie from the gym and I took a gymnastics class. Let me remind you that I am 30 and that equals to 13 years out of practice. I thought that because I'm so much stronger and in better shape than ever before that it wouldn't be a problem. This makes me laugh at how wrong I was as I sit here typing! It may have felt ok at the time, but as each hour passed various parts of my body started to get sore. By mid day I was in pain head to toe. Good pain, but pain nonetheless. What I will say, is that gymnastics is a little like riding a bike and according to the instructor "muscle memory is an amazing thing". True dat sista love! In fact, during the open gym portion, round off handsprings came very easily and I managed to get the courage up to try standing tucks with her spotting of course. Gymnastics is half ability and half mental. So even though my old lady body was totally cooked on Sunday from it, I'm giving myself a huge pat on the back! Anyway back to cooking. I knew mornings were going to be rough for me this week since I'd be out late working and back up early. And you know I don't go without a pretty full breakfast, so I decided to pre-make some sausage balls that I could reheat in the mornings for quick breakfast. They weren't really breakfast sausage, but I don't really care if it's actual breakfast food at breakfast time. They turned out great and were super easy.

Here's the breakdown:

1 lb sweet italian sausage
1/2 - 3/4 cup dried cherries
1/2 medium union, diced small
2 ribs celery, diced small
1/2 cup almond flour
1 egg
1 tsp dried parsley
1/8 tsp Cardamom 
Coconut oil

In a skillet over medium-lowish heat sauté onions and celery in coconut oil. You won't need much oil. Stir them until they are soft. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees or if your oven runs hot like mine does, bring it down 25 degrees. Throw everything (minus oil) into a bowl. Then roll the mix into golf ball size or a bit smaller balls. Just make sure they're somewhat uniform in size so they cook in the same time. Ya don't want raw sausage ball! Ick! Bake these little beauts for about 25-25 minutes. You'll want to flip them over about half way through.

It absolutely astounds me how good these are! Josh was VERY SKEPTICAL when I added cardamom, but I think it worked perfectly with the cherries. Another successful risk! This recipe makes a bunch of them so just store them in your fridge, pop in the microwave for 1 minute and keep moving, just like I have done so far this week! Total lifesaver!


Thursday, January 3, 2013

NO to the PACKAGE!!!

Last Thursday I was completely worn out from cooking at home. I normally cook 3 sometimes 4 days in a row before I'm too tired and we either go out or Josh cooks something (don't laugh). So after cooking on Sunday night, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and last Wednesday, I was not exactly happy about cooking again last Thursday night. However, I had an itty bitty dress for New Year's Eve planned and I've been working too hard in the gym to be eating out three days before getting into it! But dinner absolutely had to be easy or my crank was really going to get out of control. So I grabbed a red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion and a carton of baby bello mushrooms for Mexican stir fry aka Fajitas. I had chicken breast thawed; now to just find the seasoning for it. I started shifting through the maze that is my spice cabinet and pulled out one of those Taco Seasoning packets by Old El Paso (Betty Crocker). I ALMOST mindlessly threw it in my food, but for some fabulous reason thought to check the ingredient list. You'll be interested to learn what I found....

Maltodextrin, salt, chili pepper, onion powder, spice, monosodium glutamate, corn starch, yellow corn flour, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, silicon dioxide, natural flavor, ethoxyquin.                 

Let's break this down real quick: 
Maltodextrin = Sugar derived from starch

Monosodium Glutamate....MSG yeah MSG

Corn Starch...Do we really need to add starch to our diets? I'm trying to get rid of it in mine!

Yellow Corn Flour...Again with the grain starch! Remember, this is seasoning....

Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil = Trans Fat

Silicon Dioxide...Long Story Short, Google it, I cannot even begin to completely comprehend this chemical compound

Ethoxyquin = Preservative

I think you see the point I'm trying to make. These are things I neither want, nor need in my body. But I do love some taco/fajita flavor. So I took the good things out of this little packet and what I got was terrific and worked the same way!

Meags' Taco Seasoning

1 Tbsp chili powder
1.5 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cumin

The dinner I made with this was delish and I apologize for not having a picture.....I was staaaahvin and again, remember the crank! 

Healthier Taco Seasoned Fajitas

2 chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
1 carton baby bellow mushrooms, sliced
Meags' Taco Seasoning
*Most of it, not the whole batch
Coconut oil
Splash of water

In one pan heat 1 Tbsp coconut oil over high and cook chicken strips through. In a separate pan heat 1 Tbsp coconut oil over high and cook all the veggies until softened, but not limp. Strain out the juice from the chicken and add to the veggies. Sprinkle most of the taco seasoning over the chicken veggie mix and stir well. Add a splash of water and stir/toss around until it's not cakey, more of a suace.....kind of. If you need to keep adding a little water at a time, no problem. I served this just with an itty bit of sour cream and pico de gallo on top. No tortillas, no starch! Woooo! It was so so so yummy and I'm feeling great aobut not having eaten all that random stuff in the packet! 

Try this out, might even do really well for dip!.......hmmmmm Maybe a future blog in the making!