Honey Mustard Chicken

Can you say SUN?!?! That’s what I saw when I first opened my eyes this morning! (Okay not first, the first time it was dark when R was leaving for work – the second time the sun was actually up.) After a full week of cloudy, rainy weather it was quite the nice surprise! I think that will be the great thing about having a rainy winter season – I will appreciate the sun much, MUCH more when it decides to peak out. Unlike when I was in Arizona and all we wanted was a day that was not 85 and sunny so we could just sit around on the couch and not feel bad about it – ha!

R’s family is officially on their way here! And since today is my day off this week I am working on getting the apartment ready for visitors (i.e. laundry, vacuuming, actual cleaning…that sort of thing!) plus trying to get any errands done I need to before we head off to Seattle on Friday. R and I were going over all of our plans for the week, and MAN do we have a lot planned. It is going to be so great! I am also hoping (more like praying) that if I can keep up with my running that it will off-put some (keyword: some) of the eating I will be DEFINITELY doing. I mean…it’s THANKSGIVING!

So I mentioned this recipe like a million weeks ago it seems like, and I have FINALLY caught up with all the other things I needed to share. I think you will all be very excited about this one. I know that most of the recipes I have tried on here I label as easy and quick – and they are. But there is a significant difference between easy and stupid easy. This honey mustard chicken falls under the stupid easy category. And the best part? No one who eats it will be able to tell!

This recipe (titled originally Holy Yum Chicken and I understand why!) is originally from Table for Two. This blog is great, especially for people who are looking for recipes other than just paleo. A lot of recipes (from this blog and others) can be altered to follow paleo guidelines – it’s just about being creative! With that being said, this honey mustard chicken is actually COMPLETELY 100% paleo without any substitutions. Awesome!

Honey Mustard Chicken – I made a few slight changes based on things I had in the apartment, so check out the original link to see how it was initially made AND to see why you should follow the instructions

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 – 2 pounds boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. arrowroot powder (or any thickening agent)
  • 2 tsp. chives for garnishing

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 8×8″ oven-proof pan with 2 layers of tin foil.
  2. In small bowl, whisk together Dijon mustard, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper.
  3. Place the chicken breasts (pound to the same thickness if needed) in the foil layered pan then pour the mixture on top of it. Turn the chicken around in the sauce to make sure it gets all coated.
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and let chicken sit for 5 minutes then transfer to a plate. Do NOT discard the liquid.
  6. Immediately after plating chicken, whisk in the 1 tbsp. of arrowroot into the liquid in the pan. You’ll create a nice, thick sauce to drizzle over your chicken.
  7. Sprinkle chives on top before serving.

I am going to try and post another recipe before the weekend – but then I will be on hiatus until probably after Thanksgiving! Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday – and seriously, make this chicken!

 

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Buffalo Chicken Soup

Well, well…Sunday has arrived, yet again.

During my college years, which by the way seems like yesterday, Sunday was my least favorite day of the week. There were two main reasons that played into this: I had to start getting myself prepared to be a real person for 5 straight days (school and work) AND any visitors that we had in town were usually preparing to leave (always a bummer). As I’ve gotten older and slightly more mature (sometimes this is a debatable topic…) I have come to L-O-V-E Sundays. Especially Sundays when I don’t have a gosh darn thing to do. I can leisurely do whatever random chores need to get done around the apartment, sit around and plan our meals/food prep (which I enjoy more than most people I think), and in general just unwind before getting back into the swing of things on Monday. Do I miss my crazy weekends with my girlfriends – most of which consisted of multiple sleepovers and not leaving each other’s  sides for a minimum of 48 hours? Of course I do! More than I can even say! But…I like this new relationship I’ve developed with Sundays, they really just aren’t that bad!

As promised, there was a decent amount of food and beer that was had this weekend. All of which was not Paleo. Shun me if you must – BUT, as I have said before, my life does not revolve around Paleo. There are too many great foods and beverages out there for me to ignore. With that being said, we had some QUALITY craft brews this weekend – there is no way I can even tell you my favorite because I probably tried at least 35 (that is not a joke). We also tried a new breakfast place that was featured on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (if you haven’t watched this show yet, please do it) – it’s called Pine State Biscuits. I have never been a huge biscuits and gravy person, but MY GOD – they had the best biscuits I have ever put in my mouth. I was in a food coma for a good 2 hours after, but it was well worth it.

We did make a trip to the coast yesterday, regardless of our hungover state, to check out the scenery. It was raining pretty hard when we first got there, but once that let up the sky started letting some sunlight through the clouds and it really made for some gorgeous pictures. We only stayed for a couple of hours, but definitely plan on making another trip out there for a weekend.

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Today we are back on the grind – I ran my longest run to date this afternoon, which was 5 miles. Still have a little ways to go before I am going to be comfortable about the half marathon in February, but I feel like I am at a good place for the 10k on New Years! Progress is slow sometimes, but it’s a really great sense of accomplishment to see that my body is continuing to push itself a little further each time. (Even if I did eat bread AND beer this weekend, haha!)

As this weather is continuing to cool down, I find myself craving soup and I have been wanting to try new recipes instead of going with the same ol’ chicken and vegetables. Where do you think I went while on this recipe search? If you guessed Pinterest you are RIGHT ON! I had seen recipes for Buffalo Chicken Soup floating around and I knew that it required you to puree cauliflower for some of the thickness and now that I had a trusty immersion blender in my kitchen army, I figured I better try it out! The recipe itself is very simple – the only thing I would mention is to make sure that your cauliflower is cooked enough. A few of my pieces didn’t blend and while it wasn’t the end of the world, it did surprise R who didn’t even know there was cauliflower in the soup at all haha.

Buffalo Chicken Soup – original recipe is from Paleoaholic

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped
  • 4 Organic chicken breast
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp Organic raw honey
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 1 cup Franks red hots sauce
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 Tbsp fresh parsley
  • 1/2 Tbsp chives
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried dill
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Instructions:

  1. Using a large stock pot, add 6 cups of water and 2 cups of chicken broth, cauliflower and chicken breast.
  2. Bring to a boil and reduce heat.
  3. Once chicken is cooked remove and set aside.
  4. Add coconut milk, chicken stock, spices, honey, and franks red hot sauce.
  5. Use a stick blender and puree.
  6. Shred the chicken with a fork and add to the pot.
  7. Chop the celery and onion and add to the pot
  8. Stir in the parsley, chives and cilantro and simmer for 20 min.
  9. Serve and Enjoy!

The picture below shows the cauliflower (and there is chicken breasts underneath it) cooking in the water/broth mixture. And then the finished product! This is a perfect meal to make ahead of time and let simmer for awhile, the flavors all combine really nicely.

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A Little Bit of Randomness

Thursday! You know what the means…it’s practically the weekend! Any big plans? We have another visitor coming in tonight – R’s friend from high school. I am super excited, as I have only met him once and it was over a year ago! We have some fun things planned – most of which involve food and booze…whoops! Hopefully I will have some good stories and pictures to share by Sunday.

Anyway, the past week has been hectic – and and I don’t feel like things are going to be slowing down any time soon, so I better get used to it! In the midst of all the craziness R and I have been cooking up some random things throughout the week. No rhyme or reason really – just had some things in the fridge that we didn’t want to go bad! Sometimes that’s how the best things are created, am I right?

Now – I was never a huge fan of deviled eggs growing up. Mostly because I hated mayonnaise so I thought anything that could be associated with it was gross. (Very mature thought process) Over the years though, I have learned to love hardboiled eggs as an easy snack or addition to a salad. I saw a recipe (that might be an overstatement) on Pinterest that suggested using an avocado instead of mayo to make the deviled eggs “Paleo friendly”. It was not bad I’ll tell ya that!

Avocado Deviled Eggs:

  • 6-7 Hard boiled eggs
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 1 T garlic powder
  • 1 T cayenne pepper
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t black pepper

Mix all the ingredients (besides the eggs) in a food processor. Carefully peel and cut the eggs in half, remove the yolk and add to the food processor – blend again until all ingredients are combined. Spoon the mixture back into the eggs and VIOLA!

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Crock Pot Pumpkin Butter

Disclaimer: I know you are probably pumpkined out by this point – BUT this, is a great way to use up leftover pumpkin puree for a sweet treat that you can enjoy (basically guilt free) with apples, bananas, muffins, the list goes on. And just like with pumpkin puree – you can freeze this stuff and just thaw it out when you’re ready to use it. I had some with apples this week, but I am freezing the rest for a french toast bake next weekend when R’s family is here. (Again…not exactly Paleo, but you gotta splurge sometimes!!!

Instead of typing out the recipe – go check it out at Baked Bree’s site. I copied it exactly.

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Looking for a quick dinner? I’ve got one for ya! Slice up some chicken sausage (the one below is italian flavored – found at…you guessed it, Costco!) Throw them into a crock pot with a jar of your favorite clean and paleo friendly tomato sauce – OR – 1 can of tomato sauce, 1 can of diced tomatoes, some chopped red onion, garlic powder, and italian seasoning. Let cook on high for at least an hour (the sausage is already cooked – so you are really just wanting to heat them up and let them soak in the flavor from the sauce). Peel up some zucchinis using your handy dandy julienne peeler! If you don’t have one yet, just buy it! Either sautee or boil the zucchini – either way only takes about 3-5 minutes. And serve! Pretty nice meal for something that takes all of 10 minutes to prepare!

photo 3-15That’s all my randomness for now! I have a good soup recipe coming your way – and mustard chicken that is to die for! But, until then – enjoy your day!

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Friday, Friday, it’s finally Friday!

This week, more than usual, has seemed to fly by. Between nannying, conference calls with CSC website developers and running errands/doing chores, well…I just can’t believe the weekend is here already! Not that I am complaining. In other WONDERFUL news, R and I just found out that we are getting more visitors! Two sets of friends, two different weekends in January – we are certainly going to be starting off 2014 right! But before I can even begin to start planning for those trips, I need to turn my focus to the next couple of weekends. R’s friend will be arriving next Thursday for the weekend and then the following Thursday his family gets here for Thanksgiving! We will be going up to Seattle for a couple of days when R’s family first gets here – which I am SO looking forward too since we have yet to make it up there. Is it embarrassing to say that I am already thinking about Thanksgiving dinner, too? I mean really…it’s one of the best days of the year. I am trying to scour the internet and my cook books for a delicious paleo treat I can make and bring for everyone – but I need time to test it so that I don’t make a fool of myself! Hope I can find something. 🙂

I know that I have been overwhelming you with crock pot recipes – so I decided to hold off on one for today and instead give you a pretty easy weeknight meal. I am going to give a disclaimer right now though – we DID eat cheese with this. Hold the gasps…we used about 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, which I had bought when the boys were all in town. I wanted to get rid of it, so obviously we had to it – no chance I was just tossing it! The more I read into Paleo though, the more I see some people incorporating certain “no-no” foods every now and then. I think this says a lot about people who try and follow the Paleo lifestyle. If your body can physically handle (and by that I mean digest) a little cheese here and there – then select the best possible kind (ingredients and process) and enjoy! For R and I – we haven’t experienced too much trouble, or at least more than we would have expected, when we add foods such as dairy or grains back into our diet. So for us, we just avoid eating them for health benefits – but it doesn’t harm us if we do choose to eat them. Long story short…WE ATE CHEESE, OKAY?!?

This Spaghetti Squash Casserole was found on Pinterest. It really is such a god send and I think I would die if my boards got deleted…okay, maybe a little dramatic – but really. All my ideas for crafts, recipes, dream wedding, home decorating, dream wardrobe, the list goes on. Back to the recipe – when I made it, I browned the meat in one pan, cooked the veggies in another and roasted the squash in yet another. That led to too many dishes. I would suggest browning the meat, then adding the veggies to cook in that same pan. (Yes I realize this only saves you one pan…but it makes a difference.) I also left out the egg, because quite frankly it just weirded me out – but it would have been used to take place of the cheese as a binding ingredient. Other than that – I followed the recipe exactly. It was DELICIOUS. (Even the leftovers!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 handfuls spinach, finely diced
  • 20 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tbsp. EVOO

Process: (I am adding my modifications – if you want to see the original, click the link above!)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds. Place cut side up on a baking sheet, and bake for 25 minutes.
  2. While squash is baking, brown ground beef over medium high heat, when it is almost completed add all the prepared veggies (except spinach) w/ garlic and EVOO. Add seasonings. When the onions are almost translucent, add the spinach and cook until wilted.
  3. Once squash is done, remove from oven and shred the meat of the squash with a fork. Add to pan with sautéed veggies and meat. Mix together thoroughly.
  4. Pour mixture inside a 9 x 9 baking dish, sprinkle with cheese and cook at 400 F for 15 minutes.

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I forgot to take a picture after we took it out of the oven – whoops! It looked pretty darn similar to the last picture, but with melted cheese. So, so yummy. Enjoy!

Orange Chicken (Crock Pot Recipe – surprise surprise!)

As I mentioned in previous posts – I am WAY behind on sharing my recent recipes. I think the culprit for this is that I have just been making TOO MANY AWESOME NEW MEALS! (Yes, that is me tooting my own horn) We have been on a kick lately of trying some different things out in the kitchen and I am not hating it. I am also trying to be more regular with my posts (for all my fans – HA HA.) so having some great recipes to share helps.

Have you caught onto the fact yet that I love cooking things in a crock pot? If you haven’t, this must be the first post you’re reading. (And in that case, WELCOME!) But for anyone who has read really even just one post knows I’ve got a thing for the ol’ crock pot. This recipe was originally supposed to be made with chicken thighs – but (per usual) we only had chicken breasts in the freezer. The end product looks a bit different, but it was still SUPER tasty. I am planning on purchasing chicken thighs (bone in) from Costco on my next trip though – they are cheaper than chicken breasts – so I will definitely be trying this again with the proper ingredients just for kicks!

Alright, let’s get the recipe train moving! Obviously we have established my crock pot love, so when I found the My Paleo CrockPot blog I was ecstatic – to say the least. You may remember this blog from the stuffed acorn squash recipe and mark my words…you will be seeing more recipes from Sarah again.

As I mentioned, my meal did not end up looking like the one in the blog – but I like to put my own spin on things, ya know? Also, a little recipe tidbit…I would suggest actually grating the ginger (as suggested) otherwise you might bite into a full piece of it thinking it is chicken. Not that I know from experience or anything…

Orange Chicken – Crock Pot

Modifications:

  • Used red pepper flakes instead of red chili paste
  • Used apple cider vinegar instead of rice vinegar (which is “technically” not paleo, or so I’ve read)
  • Cooked the chicken for probably about 9-10 hours (one of the days we forgot about it when we were working…) this was definitely too long for the chicken and it was a little drier than I would have liked – go with what the recipe says

I was able to make this marinade in about 6 and 1/2 minutes AND it was at 5 in the morning so I was slower than usual. My point…QUICK prep time.

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Crock Pot Chicken Fajita Soup

I am going to start this post by telling you the most EXCITING THING!!!!! I officially bought R and I a new crock pot!! My enthusiasm is not a joke and I hope I am relaying properly through text, but I am so happy. Even more so because I bought it for 30 bucks!!!! (I think I have used up all the exclamation points allowed in one blog post on those last three sentences..oh well) The main reason I am as excited as I am for this is because the days when we typically use the crock pot, R and I are both working. This means that since I leave earlier than R, he has to turn on the crock pot when he leaves between 6:45-7. Also, since I get home later than him on those days, he has to turn it off – but typically he doesn’t get home until around 5. If you can’t figure out that math, that is a minimum of 10 hours for the food to be cooking! Some recipes may call for that amount of time (on a low setting of course) but the majority of the ones that I have been using with fresh (not frozen) meat only need 4-6. What are we left with? Overcooked food! Granted – it has still been delicious, but I can’t wait to repeat some of the recipes I have done recently with the PROPER time settings! Anyway, some of you may think this is the dumbest thing to be excited over and that’s okay. But some of you may not, and I want those of you who understand to come hang out with me and we can cook things in our crock pots.

I also stopped into Trader Joe’s today – my first time in about a year and a half. But, the other day R and I were driving and we noticed one not too far from our exit on the highway so I figured today would be a good day to check it out. I needed just a couple of random items for meals this week that I didn’t want to buy in bulk at Costco – cauliflower, jalapeños, and coconut milk. In comparison to the Whole Foods we have here, TJs is much smaller, but MY GOD do I love it. First off, I do not feel as though I am being watched in every aisle by someone who just knows I don’t have a clue where to look for almond flour. Secondly, since it is smaller it is so much more manageable. Every time I am in WF I walk up and down every aisle about 4 times before I actually find the one item (unsweetened applesauce) that I am looking for. Third, their food is GREAT quality at a GREAT price – perfect for a poor person like me trying to eat as healthy and clean as possible. Sure some of their packaged items have a bunch of “yucky” ingredients – but helllllllo, so does WF and every other food store out there. Just got to make sure you are checking the labels! And if your cart gets in the way of 20 different people, just apologize and find another spot where you will inconvenience new people.

Trader Joe’s items purchased today: coconut cream (I thought it said milk for some reason…but it will work), banana chips (no additives), almond milk (for smoothies), coconut oil (for everything, literally), jalapeños (recipe forthcoming), cauliflower (again, recipe to come), unsweetened applesauce (snacky), and frozen mangoes (snack OR smoothies… so versatile). I probably should have taken a picture of everything to make that whole listing process a little easier…ya live, ya learn.

Recipe time! This one is a good one, I’m tellin’ ya. The recipe I used was from a blog called From Pasta to Paleo, which I found through Pinterest (who would have guessed!). It seemed pretty straight forward, but I knew I would be making my own adjustments to it. Check out her recipe and then you can note what I changed for ours. I guarantee you will not be disappointed, especially when it seems like the only good thing to do on a chilly night is cuddle up in a blanket with some soup – so why not make it mexican style?!

Recipe Changes

  • Main thing – I changed the name because I threw in about 3 T of fajita seasoning and didn’t make the paleo tortillas, so fajita soup it is!
  • Used 2 cans of diced tomatoes instead of the Rotel (didn’t have any on hand)
  • Used chicken broth – not stock, did NOT use the 2 c hot water
  • Cooked everything in the…CROCK POT! Just chop veggies, trim chicken and place over the veggies, add the diced tomatoes and spices, stir well, cover and cook on low for approx 5-6 hours, when chicken is done you will be able to shred it easily (I took it out of the crock pot and shredded it then put in back in with the soup)

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Seriously…doesn’t that look awesome? It was. End of story. And that is some roasted butternut squash you see on the side there. Thumbs up for this meal!

Pumpkin, Pumpkin and More Pumpkin

Happy Sunday!

I hope your weekend has been as enjoyable as mine has been! (Enjoyable in this sentence = relaxing and awesome) I think weekends with nothing are the agenda are way underrated. The weather has still been great here – a little colder but sun still shining! I will take it as long as I can. We are getting ready to go kayaking today actually, should be interesting with the temp high being 50 degrees.. but I will try and take some pictures! One thing I did accomplish this weekend…watching all 3 Mighty Ducks movies! I have never (somehow) seen any of them before – they were great! Emilio Esteves is just a real stud.

As you might be able to gather from the title…I have some more pumpkin recipes to share! My hope is that you are not sick of them yet, because I bought a Costco size case of pumpkin and I have to figure out what to do with them! (I was a little overzealous at the time.) One of my all time favorite pumpkin recipes is a pumpkin bread that my mom makes every year. The recipe makes two loaves and it is usually a struggle for us to keep them around longer than a weekend – they are just SO good. The bread is moist with just the perfect amount of pumpkin flavor. The downside to this bread is the amount of oil, flour and sugar the recipe calls for. So I set out to find a Paleo recipe that included ingredients I had in the apartment already. (Because I am lazy and cheap, mostly) I came across a recipe at Danielle Walker’s blog Against All Grain. I have been following Against All Grain on instagram since I started Paleo, and her recipes are a little more intricate than some other’s I have seen – but everything looks AMAZING. I followed her pumpkin bread recipe – the one with coconut flour instead of arrowroot flour – exactly, so check it out!

Here are the pictures of my experience:

Combine all ingredients as instructed.

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After Cooking – make sure you allow it to set and cool before serving!

photo 3-11 The bread was really good! I won’t lie though, it didn’t taste much like the pumpkin bread I have come to know and love – but we did like it a lot, warmed it up the next day even for breakfast as a nice little side with our eggs and vegetable juice. I think one of the main things I have come to realize after making a few “replica” recipes is that they aren’t going to taste EXACTLY the same, that’s just unrealistic. But I feel so much better after eating the Paleo versions of things AND I don’t feel as guilty when I indulge a little more than I should. 🙂

Another thing I tried recently was making my own pumpkin puree. I read about it on the Pioneer Woman‘s blog and thought – that doesn’t look TOO hard! (I probably should have chosen to either just make all my own OR buy the Costco package because now I just have WAY too much…) Anyway – after going through the whole process, it wasn’t that hard but I think I appreciate the convenience of pumpkin puree in a can. Especially if you can buy an organic brand with no additives. But if you are feeling adventurous one day or want to prove to your family you can make a pumpkin recipe by scratch – give this pumpkin puree recipe a try!

Make sure you buy PIE pumpkins – they are the smaller ones and are the best for baking (or so I have read…) Prepare them by cutting off the tops, cutting in half, scooping out the insides (you can use the pumpkin seeds recipe for those!) and then cut into wedges.

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Place on a baking sheet and cook at 375 degrees for 35-45 minutes.

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Pumpkin should be able to be pierced through the skin with a fork easily when done.

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Wait for the pumpkin pieces to cool and remove the skins (this process is kind of annoying) and put all the pumpkin “meat” into a large bowl. When done with all pieces, either put pieces a few at a time in a high speed blender or food processor OR mash by hand with a potato masher (that’s what I did).  Place in freezer safe ziploc bags and you’re good to go! Just thaw when you need to use them.

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I haven’t tried a recipe yet using it – but I am hoping that it tastes even better than regular pumpkin! I think we may have some more pumpkin pancakes in our future…

There are some other new recipes I made last week that I am waiting to share – crock pot galore! So keep checking back!