Monday, January 30, 2017

Smashed Potatoes

I have made these a couple of times and they are always so good. Light in fluffy in the inside and crisp on the outside. They pair really well with a steak. I made them on Saturday to cheer Ryan up from his broken toe situation he has going on. Always a fan of tiny little fingerling potatoes you can use those or baby reds work well too.

What you need~
3 cups of potatoes cleaned
Olive oil
Nature's Seasoning

Start by putting potatoes in a pot and filling with water to just cover them. Season the water with salt. Put on high heat on a burner until fork tender. Drain potatoes and place on a baking sheet that has lightly been coated with olive oil. Using a fork smash the potatoes flat and brush with olive oil. Season the potatoes and place in an oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes until crisp.

Smashed and ready for the oven.

These are so delicious and not that difficult to do. Buttery and fluffy in the inside but crisp on the outside.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Healthy Hamburger Helper

GASP. It is possible. When I first actually made this I had no intention of making hamburger helper at all honestly. When Ryan ate it though he said that is exactly what it tasted like to him. You know what I am referencing that childhood classic that came in a box. All you had to add was milk and meat?
Anyway this turned out great and was like 1,000 times more healthy.

What you need~
1 spaghetti squash
1 pound of pork sausage
Half a head of purple cabbage (diced)
Natures seasoning
Olive oil
Worchester sauce

I started by cutting the squash in half which was slightly hard to do. I need a bigger knife! Then I removed all the seeds. Put some olive oil on the halves and seasoned it with Natures Seasoning. Place on a baking sheet. I baked it for about 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees. While this was happening I had two pans warming up on the stove. The sausage was browned in one and seasoned with Natures Seasoning and Worchester. The cabbage was cooked in the other with a small amount of water and Worchester. I then removed the squash and removed it from the skin carefully with tongs and a fork. I added the squash and cooked down cabbage to the sausage pan. Mix it all really well and serve. It was tasty and I will be making it again really soon. Next time I think I will make two squash too. The more squash the better.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Chicken Chili

Warm and spicy. My favorite things. After the Packer loss on Sunday this was a great way to recover. The complex flavors I was able to bring out in a crockpot chili were impressive. This is a really healthy but flavor packed chili.

What you need~
2 large chicken breasts
4 cups of chicken broth
1 chicken bouillon cube
3 cans of great northern beans (rinsed)
1 can of chilis in adobo sauce
1 head of cilantro
1 yellow onion (diced)
3 cloves of garlic (diced)
2 cans of tomatoes with green chili mixed in
1 package of frozen spinach
1 green pepper (chopped)
Cumin to taste
Taco seasoning to taste
Mrs. Dash to taste

Cheese, crackers and guacamole for toppings.

Blend 1 can of the great northern beans in the food processor with the cilantro and chili's in adobo sauce. Add the paste to the crockpot with all of the above things.

Let this all cook down into happiness for about 6 hours. Before serving shred the chicken and place back in the pot. Top with cheese, crackers, guacamole or even sour cream.

It is rich and warms you right up. If you need to take the spice down try only adding a half a can of the chili's in adobo sauce. I will for sure be making this again. It was a big hit.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Marinated Chicken

Let's make something simple and tasty!
I always like making chicken. This recipe can be used for chicken breast, wings, thighs it is good for everything.

What you need~
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp pepper
3 tbsp olive oil

 Combine all items in a freezer bag. I did two chicken breasts so one gallon size
was big enough. You may need more depending on how much marinade and chicken you are making. Add the chicken to the marinade at least an hour before cooking and no longer than 24 hours. If you go past 24 hours the lemon juice will start to break down the chicken and it gets slimy and gross.

Before you bake, grill or fry in a pan remove from bag and throw away leftover marinade. Do NOT baste the chicken with the leftovers you can get sick from that. I used BBQ sauce at the end of baking mine at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. I will start basting them with the BBQ sauce after about 15 minutes of baking. I do a thin layer of the sauce each time to build it up a bit.

This makes for a really delicious chicken that is not at all dried out.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Travel Adventures: Chicago

Always a good time. Chicago is an adventure no matter what but you add some awesome friends and it is unforgettable. Ryan, Chad, Katelyn and I ventured down planning on going to the Blackhawks and WILD game. Tickets were crazy expensive $100 for standing room. We passed on that but still managed to have a great time.

Saturday before going to Chicago we had a blast at the roller derby in Appleton. How intense those games are. Add in some drinks and laughs it was the perfect night.

First let me take a selfie. Waiting for the train with Ryan. Thank goodness for Katelyn. She was a great guide around town.

After checking into our hotel we took the red line out to where the United Center is. Since tickets for the game were outrageous we hung out with the staff of Billy Goats, ate some cheap/good burgers and watched the Packer game finish. We may have converted some of the staff into Packer fans. We are all screaming and panicking at the bar while the staff ate. It was hilarious and strangely perfect. LOOK at how excited we are after the Packer game finished!

 After this we traveled on the train out to see Katelyn's brother Dan. Dan introduced Ryan to Popeye's chicken. I inhaled that crunchy goodness so no pictures.  Pictured is the strong gin and tonic I had at a dive bar we went to.

We stopped into Lou Malnati's Pizzeria for lunch on Monday. Katelyn used to work here so it was fun to get her idea on what to order. Ryan and I shared a classic deep dish. We got a small and still had leftovers. You have to stop here if you go to Chicago.

Last stop was at K1 which is a go kart race track inside.  These are fast electric go karts. You get 14 laps for about $20. It was a bit intense but actually super thrilling and cool. Everyone had a good time before we headed back home.

Sometimes random quick trips like this are the best to refuel your soul. Good laughs with friends and exploring always make a good time.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Baking Bacon

I mean everyone loves it and if you use it in a cooking competition I would have to call you a cheater. I learned this a couple years ago and it is the only way I cook bacon now because I can cook an entire pound at once with little chance of burning myself.

What you need~
1 pound of bacon
Aluminum foil
Sheet pan

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Using the aluminum foil cover the sheet pan completely. Arrange your bacon on the sheet. It is okay if you have to overlap some of the pieces they will shrink down while baking. Bake until done to your likeness. I like mine extra crispy so usually 10-15 minutes or a little longer. I have tried cooking the bacon on a rack in the oven and if it does not cook in it's own fat it gets dried out. Remove from oven and place bacon on a plate covered with paper towel to remove some of the grease. I would let your sheet pan sit for a bit to let the oil cool before throwing out the aluminum foil.


Have to have a BLT!

Let this dry up and cool before throwing out. 
 I hope you try this out especially if you are trying to cook for a large family or friends. It makes cooking the bacon and clean up easy.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Monday, January 9, 2017

How To Season Food

Let's figure this out together! I know that my biggest thing that I get snobby about at restaurants is bland food. It has taken me years to come to terms with getting seasoning my food right. It is not an exact science I sometimes still make a mess of a meal. It is more rare now though. I want to give you solid tips for how to make your meals a success.

Spices can last a while and buying the ones you use the most in bulk is recommended. I like the Tone's brand pictured for the common spices I use all the time. I only wish I could get Nature's Seasoning in giant tubs.

A bowl of chili seasoning is the bomb!
If you do not feel comfortable mixing spices it is okay to buy pre-mixes. I have a couple things I do not mix up myself and instead buy. Cajun, curry, lemon pepper and taco seasoning are good examples.

I bought the large Cajun one pictured from SAM's Club.

When trying to figure out what best seasonings to pair together stick with other like minded spices. Pairing Italian spices together such as fennel, onion/garlic powder, oregano and thyme all work well together. There are plenty of spice charts out on the internet that can get you started.

Here are my favorite seasonings to have paired up.

Italian mix: Garlic/onion powder, oregano, fennel, thyme, Mrs. Dash, salt.

This is good for spaghetti and lasagna. Fennel has been a game changer for me and I really love it. I will sometimes omit the fennel if I am making soup and use the others left.

Curry mix:
Curry powder, Gram masala and everglades seasoning. Everyglades can be subbed out with Mrs. Dash or Nature's seasoning too. This makes a good base for curry and also sometimes I put it on roasted veggies or mashed veggies. I have even used it in  a frittata once.

Grilled smoke mix:
Applewood rub and smoke paprika.

This is perfection on roasted veggies in the winter months when you cannot grill. Tasty on burgers and red meat too.

Now a couple of friendly seasoning reminders:
  • Anytime anything is added to your pan you need to season that ingredient.
  • Taste your food as you go as well. This way you can find a happy balance of flavor.
  • Pictures in the above smoked paprika you can often buy small seasoning containers to try out a spice and see if you like it or not before buying a ton of it.

I hope this is helpful to you. You can really transform basic meals and side dishes with spices. One you get into the world of seasoning you will not want to go back to boring basic meals. A little salt and pepper goes a long way too.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Thursday, January 5, 2017

New Years Resolutions 2017

Yey! We all made it another year on this third rock from the sun. Something to be proud of for sure. Last year I gave some really great tips for keeping resolutions. This year I want to focus on the one thing about resolutions and changing our lives that we all struggle with the most. Motivation. It should not be a scary word or concept but it is the number one thing people ask me about constantly. I get a lot of "how do you keep motivated to go to class every week or eat healthy all the time?"

The Merriam-Webster dictionary says:
Motivation is a motivating force, stimulus, or influence.

I will be using exercise and healthy eating as examples this year because HEY that is what I have experience in.

In the beginning I would slack some days. I am not perfect. At the time it was July when I started trying to become healthy. It was hot, I was obese, I lacked energy and I would get sore from limited activities like walking. There was a thousand reasons working against me that I could not nor should not continue. This is the first week and you will feel this shortly if you have started to try to fit exercise into your life. So how does one continue to feel motivated and that all this pain and discomfort is worth it?

I started doing multiple types of activities and workouts to keep me interested in working out. Walking was boring and so was the treadmill. I promise if I would have stuck doing that I would have lost motivation to keep at it. Instead I started Zumba, I tried yoga, I started biking, I did water aerobics, tried kickboxing, went hiking and canoeing. Being challenged in a fun way was a big motivator for me.

In the beginning weight lose was a huge motivator but then as I started to see the pounds drop and get closer to my goal weight I realized that what I was doing was making me stronger and healthier. I have a string of health issues (COPD and I am bi-polar for example) exercise has helped me manage these better. My lungs can take in more air in a better way which helps my COPD. With my bi-polar disorder the exercise helps calm my restless brain. I am not saying that I am "cured" of anything but being in a fit state has helped with my management of my issues. So living a healthy life forever became my biggest motivator and is still to this day almost three years later.

When I started this journey I actually started counting all of my calories first before even getting into exercise. I used an app call loseit to track everything I put in my mouth. After a while I started to be able to mentally count what I was eating and I still do this to this day. I had to start fueling my work outs and that caused me to focus in on what I was eating and putting in my body. With calorie counting you can eat whatever the heck you want as long as you stay under your goal. My goal was 1,500 calories for my weight loss goal per day. After weight loss it is around 2,000. So what does this have to do with motivation you ask? I am not motivated to be the healthiest and most fit I can be now. If I ate pizza before working out that would be to heavy and my zumba class would suck. If I ate a smoothie of banana, almond milk and peanut butter I could go hard and not be scared of getting sick.

I know this is a wall of text to read but I really want to try to set you all up for success if I can. I find that helping people make changes is best fulfilled by leading with example. I have for sure seen those around me make positive changes based off of what I was doing. Prime example is my mom Lisa. She goes to water aerobics with me now and it is so FUN! Her and I trade healthy tips and she is doing so well.

You can do this. If you feel motivation waning change what you are doing. Do not give up, change it up!

Best of wishes in this new year with whatever resolutions you do.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Creamy Corn

Pre-cheese mix
Tasty! I know people dislike the idea of cream corn. It is usually out of a can and gross. Not this recipe. Perfect for a party it is easy to make too. I made this for a Christmas gathering and it was a huge hit.

What you need~
4.5 cups of corn
8 ounces of cream cheese
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup green onions
2 TBSP Parsley
2/3 cup sweet peppers
1/2 cup red onion
8 slices of bacon

Start by cooking bacon and dicing small. Set aside for later. Dice peppers, onions and parsley finely. Put red onion and peppers in the crockpot. Add your corn, cream cheese and milk. Heat on high for an hour. Before serving add the bacon, parsley and green onions.

It turns into creamy heaven. I actually talked people into eating it that swore up and down they hated creamed corn. This is an upscale version I swear it.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

PS: It is a new year which means a new look for the blog. I really love the change in the look.