Stuffed Acorn Squash

I have made a decision, probably to your benefit, to stop making up “clever” (using that word lightly) titles for my posts and instead just calling them what the recipes are! Hello??!!! What a crazy idea! So, to that point – today’s post is a recipe for Stuffed Acorn Squash – yum. But more on that in a minute.

I want to fill you all in on my plan for the next month. R and I are starting a 30 day challenge at a hot yoga studio on Sunday. That means, you guessed it, 30 straight days of classes. We must just like 30 day challenges… ANYWAY, we are planning on going to the evening class so that R and I can go together. But this got me thinking about something else, something WAY more important – DINNER! I began trying to brainstorm how I would juggle getting dinner ready or coming up with recipes R would want to make on the days I worked and what kind of meals would still be good by the time we got home. Then, a lightbulb went off… CROCK POT. I have been finding so many delicious paleo crock pot recipes lately and I figured what better way to try them all out then start yet another challenge! The 30 day crock pot challenge! The rules are simple – I am going to make 3-4 crock pot recipes per week (all of our weekday meals, using leftovers sometimes!) starting next week until Thanksgiving! I hope you all have your crock pots cleaned and ready to go!

I got started a little early with the crock pot recipes because I was dying to try this one out (and we bought an acorn squash at the pumpkin patch last weekend!). It definitely fell under my three favorite categories: quick, simple and delicious! You can also get creative with this – switch up the filling, add different ingredients and/or spices, make it your own! I got this recipe from My Paleo CrockPot and I am going to give you a heads up now…I plan on using her website for A LOT of my crock pot meals this month. I mean CHECK OUT HER RECIPE INDEX???? They all sound amazing!

Stuffed Acorn Squash – Crock Pot

I used all the same ingredients/spices that the recipe called for – except raisins, I subbed those out for craisins, which R and I prefer. (so good!) The instructions are simple: chop the onion and apple.

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Combine with browned meat and cook until onions/apples are done. Remove from heat and add craisins.

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Cut squash in half and remove insides.

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Place in crock pot and fill with meat mixture. Pour 1/4 cup of water on the bottom of the crock pot.

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Let cook on low heat for 4 hours and then enjoy!!

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Pumpkin Time…Again

Hello hello!

As promised, I did take a little hiatus from posting – merely because I made absolutely nothing new last week. Like at all. Last week was purely focused on getting R and I back into our routine of working out (running mostly) and eating clean since we had a race to get ready for! (Side note – what were we thinking signing up for a race the weekend AFTER we binge ate/drank? We are still trying to figure that out ourselves…) I am happy to report though that R and I both finished our races (mine being the 5k and R’s being the half marathon) under our goal times! Yay for us!

If you would have told me 3 months ago that I would be able to make my legs run for 3 miles without stopping I would have laughed in your face and then lay down because the thought of it would have made me tired. I realize that plenty of people run 5k’s on the reg, but that just was never me – nor did I ever see it being me. But I did it! And that has opened my eyes to the fact that if you push yourself, even just a little bit, every day towards being a better person – whether that is better physically or emotionally, you WILL get there. I promise.

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I may have mentioned this before but R has been training for a marathon that he is going to be running in February up in Birch Bay, Washington. After the race this past weekend, R and I started talking about the possibility of me running in the half marathon the same day as the marathon in WA. Can I do it? Is it physically possible for me to run 13.1 miles? Guess I won’t know until I try! I found a running plan from Fitness Magazine that helps beginning runners work for 10 weeks with the end goal being a half marathon race. Lucky for me, I have 18 weeks – even longer to get prepared!

ANYWAY, onto some food – PUMPKIN food!

Race day was QUITE chilly, so nothing sounded better to us than some nice warm Pumpkin Soup upon our arrival home. We stole this recipe from my mom (who got it sent to her from someone at the school she works at…so not credit to us for this one!) – she made it for us when we were home and we loved it.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion (medium sized)
  • 3-4 ribs chopped celery
  • 1 chopped red pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce (Franks or Sriacha)
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 29oz can pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie mix, just canned pumpkin)
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg

Instructions

  1. heat oil in a large sauce pot
  2. add onion, celery, pepper, salt and bay leaf. cook 6-7 min
  3. stir in hot sauce, seasoning – heat 1 min
  4. whisk in broth until boiling reduce heat
  5. whisk in pumpkin and simmer 10 min.
  6. stir in nutmeg and let simmer until ready to serve

Our most recent kitchen purchase was an immersion blender, so we decided to puree the soup and all the veggies in it. The taste was still fantastic – but I was not a huge fan of the texture. So my suggestion is to just leave it as is – that is how we ate it and we were home and I liked it a lot more that way. Guess I will just have to find a new use for our immersion blender – oops!

We also went to the pumpkin patch this weekend so that we could get our CARVIN’ ON! R also wanted to try making pumpkin seeds – so that we did.

image-86They are super easy to make – we tried three different versions.

  1. Seasoned salt (Johnny’s)
  2. Sea salt
  3. Cinnamon and sugar (house favorite…obviously)

All you have to do is wash the seeds well, toss them with olive oil and whatever seasonings you prefer, roast them in a 375 degree oven for approximately 10 minutes (or until they are no longer soft).

We carved/painted our pumpkins last night too – now I just need to get some candles and I will post a pic of our masterpieces. Get excited!

I am trying a new crock pot recipe tonight – stuffed acorn squash, recipe will follow…I promise!

Living Solo

Last week I was left all by my lonesome. R had some meetings for work in DSM (where his company is headquartered) and it happened to work out that the meetings were scheduled the week that we were already going home for our friend’s wedding. So anyway, R left on Monday and I spent the week seeing what it would be like to live by myself. (Wasn’t TOO bad, but I missed R and having him listen to all my stupid nonsense all day…lucky him!) I think the hardest part of my week was figuring out how I was going to eat the random things we had left in the fridge/freezer – no worries there though, I managed it!

I made a few different things and ate them for lunch and dinner throughout the week. Simple recipes (because I didn’t feel like making insane creations for just me to enjoy) that were quick and painless, especially important because I was working this week as well.
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#1: Chicken Sausage Bake
This is one we have done before, but we are always adding and swapping out ingredients so that we can avoid a trip to the store (and not be wasteful and use the things we have!). This time I used a yellow pepper, green pepper, sweet potato and chicken sausage. The key to this one is chopping the sweet potatoes a little smaller than the other things because they take a bit longer to cook. It wasdelicious and even better the next day!

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#2: Stir Fry
Another repeat recipe – but one that can be changed by using different veggies. I took the simplest route possible and used a bag of frozen veggies, chicken and a can of pineapple. Threw in some coconut amines and a little bit of almond butter…DONE-ZO!

I want to pause a minute and discuss two things that are so extremely frustrating to me, both of which I happened to experience on Tuesday. I was out running some errands to make sure I had everything ready to go for my flight on Thursday (speaking of, I am sitting at the gate waiting for my flight right now…all hail airport wifi!) and I had a few clothing items I wanted to get. I had two specifics in mind: maroon skinny jeans and an army green jacket. I see both of those items literally everywhere on Pinterest and in magazines, so I thought it would be a good time to find some. UMMMM NOPE!!! Literally not ONE store I went to had either item. I mean don’t worry, I found other things to buy…but my annoyance comes from the fact that it never fails, anytime that I KNOW what I want to purchase those items miraculously disappear from any clothing racks. The search for the maroon pants and the jacket continues… Item number two, which coincidentally happened WHILE experiencing number one, PICKING THE ONE DYSFUNCTIONAL CART. Can we just take one for the team Target and take the cart out of commission? I usually don’t even realize it isn’t working correctly until I am at the point of no return (meaning: I am too lazy to walk back to the front of the store). So I suffered through it, painfully, while perusing through the racks of overpriced Target clothing. Talk about a bummer. Do either of these things really urk you? Is there something else on your most annoying list? Do tell so that I don’t feel like an irrational freak.

Now that I have completed that rant…our weekend in DSM was FANTASTIC. So many wonderful faces of friends and family, so many things to celebrate, and SO MUCH food and alcohol. (That last one was more like a negative as the weekend went on…) To say we went a little “balls to the walls” this weekend would be an understatement…but I would not take back a minute of it. You don’t realize how much you miss something that you haven’t had in awhile until you get a taste of it (turned out to be the case with both hanging out with friends/family AND scratch cupcakes…oops!) We were supposed to head back to Portland this morning, but as luck would have it our flight was cancelled so we won’t be getting back until tomorrow. No harm, no foul – another night with the parents is just what the doctor ordered for my sore throat!
Before I forget…Check out the in-flight snacks I brought along on the trip! I checked the ingredients carefully on both things to make sure that they were paleo approved. The Larabars were delish and while the pineapple was pretty sweet, it had a nice crunch to it too!
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This week is BACK TO BUSINESS for R and I though – but I am not going to promise too many intriguing recipes. With our return delayed, I am not sure how much extra time I will have to get creative. We have a race coming up this weekend though (perfect timing…) so running and HEALTHY meals are on the agenda.

Pumpkin Season

Hello, Hello!

I am kicking myself for not posting this recipe sooner – but now that we are almost to the weekend again (hump day in a few hours – hallelujah!!!!!) maybe you will get the chance to try it out! Anyway, last weekend R and I made a batch of Paleo Pumpkin pancakes. And if you have been craving pumpkin like I have since the weather started to cool down and the leaves began changing colors…well you’re in luck because these babies do the trick! (Trick being curb your pumpkin cravings) These were easy to make and it was a nice change of pace from eggs for us.

Per usual, our eyes became bigger than our stomachs and we decided we needed to QUADRUPLE the recipe. I am going to save us some embarrassment and explain that the recipe said it made 4 pancakes – we were thinking that we could just make 4 for each of us for both Saturday and Sunday at once. What we came to find was that our batter turned out VERY almond buttery (not necessarily a bad thing), and we had SO much extra batter. In conclusion – next time we will not be doing that, haha. I may even add a bit more pumpkin than almond butter to see how they turn out that way! (Crazy, I know!!!!)

This recipe was found via Pinterest (did you figure out that I like Pinterest yet?) and it is from Courtney’s Craftin & Cookin. I had never been to her site before, but I have already bookmarked it because not only does she have some great Paleo recipes, she also has the cutest crafts. (Currently I am diggin’ her Halloween mason jars – too great.) Back to the recipe, it only calls for a few ingredients and all you have to do is mix them together and start the cooking!

Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes

photo-15We ate ours with some turkey sausage (disclaimer – we did not eat all of those sausages in the pan, most of them…but not all) and splurged on some all-natural maple syrup. Technically speaking, 100% natural maple syrup is considered paleo – so it really isn’t cheating, but not something we want to be eating on the regular. (It is also pretty expensive to buy anything ALL natural I am learning…) Can’t wait to make these again!

Off to bed, only one more day between me and IOWA!

“Fried” Chicken

Happy Sunday!

I hope you have all had a relaxing (or exciting) weekend – whichever it is you prefer! Our weekend was a little bit of both, we watched the Iowa game yesterday (boo for losing) and then enjoyed the evening at the Governor’s Hotel in downtown Portland for R’s end of the fiscal year party. We met some really great people, who were gracious enough to invite us to sit with them, and ironically enough they were all originally from Iowa. If that’s not an icebreaker, I don’t know what is! We enjoyed some great food and a few glasses of wine (7 and 7’s for R). Incase you were wondering, yesterday was our cheat day – but all in all, we weren’t too bad. I did indulge in a delicious piece of focaccia bread and some mashed potatoes, while the rest of our meal was salad, chicken and vegetables. It was a nice night out and I really enjoyed meeting some of R’s co-workers. (Bonus for me: I may have even lined up a few more nanny gigs AND got invited to a girls’ night!)

Anyway, it was nice to get dressed up and spend an evening out. While we were getting ready to leave though, I did start thinking about how it is that some couples get so many great pictures of themselves. I have a friend, well I guess an acquaintance now, but a friend on social media nonetheless who has the most ADORABLE pictures of her and her husband during activities that they do (i.e. dinners, outings, date nights, etc…) I mean GREAT pictures. but it leaves me wondering, do they have a professional photographer walking around with them? Or do they just ask people to take photos for them? I would assume it’s the latter and maybe I just need to get over it and start asking people to snap photos of R and I…but I just feel funny doing that most of the time. Last night for example, I don’t think R and I have both dressed up that much since a wedding we went to last June, so it would have been REALLY nice to get a good photo. However, I was a big chicken and didn’t want to ask anyone. I guess I will just have to suffice with the photo I took in the mirror of myself before we left so I could show my friend J and my mom what my dress looked like… I’ll try harder next time.

ONTO THE FOOD! I have been seeing a lot of recipes flying around for paleo “fried” chicken, which seems more to me like breaded chicken but you can be the judge. I figured now that we were not doing the Whole30 anymore, it would be a good time to try – as most recipes require almond flour, which is something we couldn’t eat on the Whole30 program. I will note, that while I didn’t come up with this recipe on my own – I used a LARGE variety of tips and tricks from various locations, so I am just going to put what I did. Feel free to check out some other recipes and tweak it to your liking! (It’s more fun that way)

Paleo “Fried” Chicken

  • photo-81 lb of chicken tenders (I used chicken breasts and just cut them into tender size)
  • 1 cup dijon mustard
  • 2 T water
  • Salt/Pepper
  • 1 cup almond meal/flour (whichever you have on hand – we used meal)
  • 2 T Penzey’s Shallot Pepper seasoning (this could be left out, but I had some on hand and wanted to use it!)
  • 2 T ground red pepper
  • Olive oil for frying

First, create your two dredging bowls. #1: mustard, water, salt/pepper to taste. #2: almond meal, shallot pepper seasoning, red pepper, salt/pepper to taste. Cut chicken if needed (removing any visible fat as well.) Cover the bottom of a frying pan with a thin layer of olive oil and heat to medium. Once the pan is heated thoroughly, begin to bread your chicken by placing it in the mustard mixture first, then into the dry mixture. Place in the frying pan and let cook for 3-5 minutes on each side. The chicken should have a nice golden brown crisped exterior once done. (I am also a little neurotic about cooking chicken and making sure it is done, so I cut a little slit in the middle of each piece before removing it to make sure it’s cooked all the way through.) If you notice that a lot of your flour mixture fell off into the pan and is starting to burn, just wash out the pan and start again (with olive oil and reheating it). Serve with veggies of your choice! We chose roasted tomatoes and asparagus – yum.

*Recipe note: if you don’t like mustard – try a different recipe. This one definitely has a mustardy taste thanks to our dijon dredge, which I loved, but I realize may not be for everyone. I saw a lot of other recipes just use a traditional egg dredge instead, which would work nicely too.

R told me this is a recipe he wants to keep repeating, so I think to keep things interesting we will change it up a little next time. I will be sure to report how that goes! I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend, I will be pretending to watch RedZone with R, when in reality I am scouring Pinterest for dream wedding ideas, new home decor, wishing for a new wardrobe or getting inspiration for our next meal. All very productive in my book.

Life After the Whole30

Where does the time go? That really is the question. I feel like I could use a few more days during the week and then a few extra on the weekend, is that too much to ask?! I also want to note that I did indeed attempt to post on Tuesday…I got all the way through it, pictures and all, but when I

So…what has been going on here in Portlandia? Last weekend (our first-non Whole30 weekend) we spent celebrating R’s birthday! His actual birthday is on the 12th, but since we will be in DSM at one of our good friend’s wedding I figured we should do something before we went home. And if you know me at all, you know I LOVE birthday’s, so any reason to extend one is good with me! Thursday night we went to see Jake Owen and Jason Aldean in concert at an outdoor amphitheater in Washington. It was a great night and we indulged in a few beers AND some kettle corn. Then on Saturday we woke up early and made crepes from a recipe R got from his mom – we had a few mishaps in the preparation (neither of us had made crepes before) but they ended up tasting DELICIOUS. I will say though, that my body is definitely used to eating balanced meals (think: protein, veggies and fruit) because within an hour or so after eating my stomach was already growling…whoops. After breakfast we got ready for our couple’s massage, which was great (minus the stomach growling previously mentioned). We spent the afternoon watching the Iowa game (YAY FOR ANOTHER HAWKEYE WIN!) and I prepared another round of pulled pork in the crock pot. (The recipe will be given later in this post) We enjoyed a yummy meal of pulled pork, creamed corn and acorn squash before heading to see the new movie Rush. Overall, it was a great weekend and I was so happy to spend some quality time with R out and about.

One thing that made me feel pretty good after our cheat days was that my body felt not so good. That may sound strange, but it was relieving to know that my body was slightly “rejecting” the sugary items that I once used to feed it frequently. For me, that was the moment I knew that I really had made a change in my body and not just physically. Of course, this is not to say that it is going to stop me from splurging every once and a while – but I liked the fact that by Sunday I was more than ready to get back to our normal eating routine. (I had worried that I would never be able to get back into it…)

The pulled pork we made on Saturday was really good – both R and I liked it a lot, which is a good thing because I made enough for about 3 meals for each of us. (You think I would have learned after the last pulled pork night…) This recipe was way easier than the last one (BBQ pulled pork) that I made, mainly because there is no sauce – just a dry rub. The recipe is from Primal Bites – as with most of the sites I find ideas from, this is a great place to get inspired so check it out!

photo-7Crock Pot Pulled Pork

Click on the link ^ for instructions!

Ingredients needed:

  • 2-3 lbs. pork shoulder (picnic, butt or the entire shoulder)
  • 1 onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp ground Cumin
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • juices of 1 lemon and 1 lime

As you can see, we ate the pork the NEXT night with broccoli and butternut squash. I was ecstatic when we were shopping at Costco the other day and came across a 3 lb container of peeled and chopped butternut squash, and for a reasonable price! Here is how I prepared it (stupid easy):

Butternut Squash:

  • 1 butternut squash – peeled and chopped
  • 2-3 T of olive oil
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1 T nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix squash in a bowl with the olive oil and seasoning to make sure it is fully coated. Arrange squash on a baking sheet that is lined with foil. Bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on your oven) until the squash can be pierced fully with a fork. Remove and serve!

So that’s that…now I feel like I am all caught up. Well, mostly. I have two new recipes that I want to share ASAP, but I don’t want to drag this post any longer. But, I hope you are all having a wonderful week and enjoying some fall weather…I already have Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes on the menu for this weekend…get excited!