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!

Crock Pot Hawaiian Chicken

Does anyone else feel like it is absolutely INSANE that it is November 1st already? I mean really, Thanksgiving is a few short weeks away – then Christmas – then the best holiday of the year…MY BIRTHDAY. I realize I am getting ahead of myself, but c’mon – it seems like yesterday that I was packing up my stuff in Phoenix to begin the trek up the coast. In reality though that was 4 months ago. NUTS.

Well, I hope you all have been enjoying the fall season – I know I have! I am not trying to brag (well, yeah I kind of am…) but it has been beyond gorgeous here in Portland. I couldn’t have asked for better fall weather – crisp in the morning, warm from the sun in the afternoon, and just a light little chill in the evening. Now that I re-read that sentence…is the word crisp correct? I feel like that is a saying but I am questioning it right now. For the time being I am going to roll with it. Back to the weather, as with most great things…they come to an end. I took a look at the 10 day forecast for our area and it seems that we are heading right into the rainy season. I think I can take it, really how bad can it be? (I should probably re-read this specific post about two months in when all I want is a little sunshine during my day!) I guess we will just have to take it one day at a time and for now I am still going to head out for a run today and enjoy the 55 degree sun made even better with the colored leaves going up and down every street. (I feel like I just painted a pretty nice picture there…so who wants to come visit?!)

Anyway, I have some news – R and I decided that we were going to wait until after Thanksgiving to start our 30 day hot yoga challenge. The reason being, quite simply, that we were hungover on Sunday and I still felt like crap on Monday SO by that point we would be missing more days (with visitors coming in and out the next month) and we wanted to get the bang for our buck. Not to worry though!!! I am still going to be going HAM on the crock pot this month. I have just found too many good recipes NOT to share them with you. I am even on planning on making the splurge ($40 whole bucks) on a crock pot with a timer so that I don’t keep having to overcook the chicken since no one is home to turn it off! More on that when I buy it though…

What I REALLY wanted to tell you about is the Hawaiian Chicken I made the other night! Seriously, STUPID easy. I am learning to use the word easy more sparingly and when it is actually appropriate – and this is the PERFECT use. 3 ingredients. In the crock pot. Done. Yep, those were the instructions.

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Crock Pot Hawaiian Chicken

  • 1 lb of chicken (that was 2 chicken breasts for us, because Costco is crazy and their chicken is huge)
  • 2-3 cups of salsa (pick your fav!)
  • 1 large can of pineapple (we used chunks, but I personally think crushed would work better)

Toss everything into the crockpot, cover and let cook on low for 5-6 hours. The chicken should shred REAL easily and you can use it in SO many different things. As you can see, we made lettuce wraps – but you could do a yummy salad, cauliflower rice bowls, or even use in enchiladas or quesadillas if you aren’t following strict paleo. OMG or stuffed peppers. I think I am going to make it again this weekend just so I can try that.

Basically, if you need something CHEAP, QUICK, and painfully EASY – this is it!!!!!!! Enjoy! Oh yeah, and have a fabulous weekend 🙂

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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