Fab February Finds

Two posts in one day‚ĶI better be careful or you might get used to this ūüôā

We have both been travelling a lot with work over the last couple of weeks, so haven’t been eating too many at home meals. ¬†But we had a few big hits that I had to share‚Ķ

Hearty Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash & Quinoa Рall I can say about this one is YUM, YUM, YUM.  The squash added sweetness, thickness and texture, the chicken was extremely tender, and the quinoa was the perfect touch.  I sent leftovers home with a friend and she was also a SUPER fan of this one.  I firmly recommend you make this tonight!

Squash Prepped & Ready to Go

Squash Prepped & Ready to Go

The last couple of times that I have used butternut squash, I bought the prepped squash from Costco but have found that it has a weird texture and taste.  This time, I bought a whole squash and prepped it myself…now, I realize that this may seem intimidating, but I managed to get er done in about 10 minutes, and with all 10 fingers in tact.  Victory!  And a welcome change from my typical style haha.  The verdict?  Prepped squash = $5.50, whole squash = $3.50 and 10 minutes of your time…your choice.

Vegetable Steamer - A Great Investment

Vegetable Steamer – A Great Investment

**Side Note Рthis thing is AMAZING for making hard boiled eggs…perfect every time!!

Poaching the Chicken

Poaching the Chicken

Have I Mentioned That I Love This Soup?

Have I Mentioned That I Love This Soup?

Ta-Da!!  The Finished Product

Ta-Da!! The Finished Product

Black Bean & Quinoa Burgers Рthese were another HUGE hit in our house.  A little bit of spice (I only used 1 chipotle pepper, but will bump it up to 2 the next time), and all kinds of nice.  I saved a few of the beans and added them whole (rather than mashing them all) for a bit of texture.  Next time I will probably add some shredded zucchini and/or carrots to bump up the veggie factor and add some moisture, but they were REALLY good.

Deeelicious!

Deeelicious!

The recipe made 6 good sized burgers (about 1/2 cup each), so this is another keeper recipe for quick, freezer friendly meals that make Monday nights just a little less hectic. ¬†We didn’t make the greek yogurt, mustard & honey sauce‚Ķbut served them with greek yogurt ranch (plain yogurt + ranch dressing powder), sliced avocado and easy peasy kale chips.

Dinner is Served

Dinner is Served

But with success comes failure‚Ķit does in my kitchen anyway. ¬†I attempted to make these Sweet Potato Crisps¬†to accompany a mushroom & zucchini frittata and fried deer sausage. ¬†Thinking that I could save some time, I used my food processor to shred the potatoes…well, this was definitely not one of my top 10 best ideas. ¬†The shred was too thick, so the potatoes didn’t cook and we ended up with raw potato mounds. ¬†I think a finer shred, either with a microplane or the other processor shredding plate, would have resulted in crispier, cooked potatoes.

Sweet Potato Fail

Sweet Potato Fail

What’s on the menu this week you ask?

Sunday РGrilled Lemon Chicken and Roasted Carrot & Beet Salad w/Feta

Monday РGreek Salad w/Quinoa & Marinated Chick Peas … I am kind of winging this one, but am using Greek Pasta Salad and Cucumber & Tomato Salad w/Marinated Garbanzo Beans as inspiration

Tuesday – Grilled Shrimp with Salad

Wednesday РBlack Bean & Quinoa Burgers 

Thursday – Chipotle Chicken Lettuce Wraps

What are you guys eating this week? ¬†Anything worth sharing? ¬†I would love to see some pictures! ¬†As usual, I will try to post some reviews next weekend‚Ķor in a few weeks, whenever…

Chow for Now,

Red

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January Recap

Hi Friends!

Sorry for the lack of posting, lots has been going over the last few weeks.  I thought I would throw out a quick January Recap on a few meals we had last month, some keepers and some not so much.

Vietnamese Style Lettuce Cups¬†– these were a big hit! ¬†Salty, sweet, crunch from the veggies, and it’s all wrapped up in a crisp butter lettuce leaf. ¬†Lettuce wraps are awesome because you can fill them with so many things‚Ķtaco meat, tuna salad, quinoa & beans‚Ķor in this case, yummy Asian flavoured ground pork. ¬†The sauce recipe makes a LOT, so you could easily half it and have enough for leftovers. ¬†Definitely a keeper.

Prepped & Ready to Go

Prepped & Ready to Go

Ta-Da!!  Delicious Set Up

Ta-Da!! Delicious Set Up

Cauliflower Steaks with Spinach Gratin¬†– holy F, this was a top ten Meatless Monday meal for sure! ¬†I have seen cauliflower steaks on Pinterest before but wasn’t 100% sold. ¬†These sold me. ¬†The roasted cauliflower has great texture and a bit of sweetness, the creamy and salty spinach cheese sauce was a-m-a-z-i-n-g. ¬†Make this NOW.

Cauliflower "Steaks"

Roasted Cauliflower “Steaks”

Cheese & Spinach.  Yum.  That is All.

Cheese + Spinach = YUM

SO Good!!

SO Good!!

Turkey Zucchini Meatballs Рthese were an awesome find.  They have great flavour, the zucchini adds moisture and the recipe makes a ton, so I was able to freeze them and had 2 quick and easy weekday meals before going to get my ass kicked by the trainer.

Easy, Delicious Meatballs

Easy, Delicious Meatballs

Thai Red Curry Butternut Squash Soup – unfortunately this came with mixed reviews. ¬†The first attempt was so f-ing spicy that we couldn’t eat it and the second time, I burnt the squash so it had a really bitter taste. ¬†But I encourage you to try it, because the flavour profile really should work! ¬†Coconut milk, red curry paste, sweet squash‚Ķit should have worked!

Thai Red Curry Butternut Squash Soup

Thai Red Curry Butternut Squash Soup

Korean Flank Steak¬†– the marinade in this recipe was pretty good, but I have decided that I don’t like working with flank steak, so I probably won’t make it again. ¬†I just find that the steak is really touchy when it comes to cooking it perfectly, and when it’s overcooked it’s really not good. ¬†But the marinade itself was yum and if you like flank steak, this one is worth a try!

Roasted Tomato and Zucchini Frittata¬†– I freaking love frittatas‚Ķcan’t say enough good things about them. ¬†Quick, easy, and a great way to cram a ton of vegetables into one meal along with the protein filled goodness of the incredible, edible egg.

Frittata!

I Heart Frittata!

Shrimp and Broccoli¬†– another keeper! ¬†Throw the ingredients on a cookie sheet and roast, how hard could that be? ¬†Throw in a bowl with some soy sauce and rice or quinoa and you’ve got dinner. ¬†Done.

Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal Рif you are a regular reader, or follow me on Pinterest, you will know that this has become a weekly regular in our house.  Tastes like candy but is full of real, good for you ingredients, and it is super easy to throw together and bake on Sunday.  This feeds us for the entire week, 9-10 servings in total, and I just throw it in the microwave and eat with a splash of cream.  Make this NOW!!

Baked Breakfast Awesomeness

Baked Breakfast Awesomeness

I encourage you to try some of these and let me know what you think. ¬†I’ll be back with a few February finds (say that quickly 10 times) that I am sure you will love.

Chow for Now,

Red

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Holding Steady…

Hey Friends,

We are in week 3 of January, kick off month to a healthier me. ¬†That’s the plan anyway. ¬†So far I have hired a personal trainer and joined a kickboxing class, which is like SO fun. ¬†I’ve never really punched anything and it is such good therapy! ¬†And a kick ass workout. ¬†And the whole diet thing? ¬†I would give myself a 7/10. ¬†Sometimes, when the sun is shining in January and you’ve just endured a month of freezing cold and snow‚Ķyou just gotta have a cheeseburger and a beer. ¬†Am I right?

Here’s a recap of last week’s menu…

Monday –¬†Bison Meatloaf,¬†Grilled Zucchini with Lemon Salt¬†and¬†Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin

Tuesday –¬†Red Thai Curry Butternut Squash

Wednesday –¬†Korean Flank Steak,¬†Spicy Sichuan Style Green Beans¬†and¬†Veggie Load Fried Quinoa

Thursday –¬†Turkey & Zucchini Meatballs

And here’s how it actually went down…

Monday I had a 24 hour flu.  Like kick your ass, keep you in the bathroom all night kinda flu.  Good times.  But I did manage to get my ass off the couch in the afternoon and make Red Thai Curry Butternut Squash Soup.

Mmm Soup

Mmm Soup

Topped of with a dollop of greek yogurt, fresh parsley and pumpkin seeds, it was pretty good.  I had already roasted the squash on Sunday afternoon so it was a super easy meal for a Monday.

Sunday Prep for Easy Weekday Meals

Sunday Prep for Easy Weekday Meals

It had a bit of an odd flavour, but I’m not sure if it’s because I used frozen onions (I chop a whole bunch and then freeze them in individual portions for easy use) or it if was because I may have burnt the squash a little bit. ¬†So it wasn’t a 100% success, but it was pretty good. ¬†The soup had an especially silky and delicious texture thanks to this bad boy…

Best. Blender. Ever.

Best. Blender. Ever.

Behold, the Blendtec. ¬†A friend of mine bought me this for my 30th birthday. ¬†I won’t lie, secretly at first I was like “A blender? Weird.” ¬†But I did not understand the awesomeness that was the Blendtec. ¬†Check out this Will It Blend?¬†video to see what I mean. ¬†No BD, that’s just an iPad being pulverized into powder. ¬†This thing makes amazingly smooth smoothies, milkshakes, soups and veggie juices. ¬†To be honest, I like my juicer better for making juices, but it works. ¬†The Blendtec easily blends from totally frozen and has all kinds of pre-programmed items like the aforementioned soups and smoothies, as well as milkshakes, sauces, nut butters etc. ¬†It’s a huge hit and I love you JC for buying it for me. ¬†(PS – I am not being paid to sing Blendtec’s praises. ¬†It’s just awesome and I like to share info on what I’m using in my kitchen.)

Anyway, back to the food…

Tuesday¬†I made the¬†Korean Flank Steak¬†with steamed basmati rice and green beans. ¬†The sauce was delicious but I’m finding that I don’t like working with flank steak. ¬†I find it really hard to cook, because it’s either totally rare in the middle or overcooked and like leather when you try to eat it. ¬†Frustrating. ¬†So I have one piece left (I buy one at Costco and cut it in half) and then I’m not sure that I will use it again.

Wednesday the man had the same flu that I had on Monday, so I was cooking for one. ¬†I pan fried salmon with some lemon and steak spice and made a quick spinach salad. ¬†Read: salad = lettuce. ¬†This time I even got fancy and added roasted pumpkin seeds. ¬†It’s not much, but it’s an easy serving of vegetables. ¬†I also whipped some greek yogurt with sriracha to make a spicy dip for the salmon.

Salmon & Spinach "Salad"

Salmon & Spinach “Salad”

Thursday we had Turkey & Zucchini Meatballs served over roasted spaghetti squash tossed with parmesan and S&P.  I made these meatballs a few weeks ago and had them in the freezer ready to go.  Defrost, reheat…wallah!  Dinner made easy.  They were delish.  I cooked the squash whole for the first time and found that the middle was harder to scoop out than when you cut it in half before you cook it.  On the plus side, it was definitely much easier to cut in half after it was cooked!  Safety first.  Not like cutting myself is an unlikely scenario, right?

Balls. Turkey balls.

Balls. Turkey balls.

So, this week is another busy week. ¬†It’s actually been a busy first few weeks of 2014. ¬†But it’s a good busy and it’s kind of fun. Anyone else feeling like that? ¬†I kick box during my lunch break on Mondays and Fridays, see my new trainer Tuesday and Thursday nights and play soccer on Wednesdays. ¬†Phew! ¬†So we are trying to keep things healthy, quick and easy. (That’s what she said.) ¬†Sunday I prepped bags of veggies and dip and made hard boiled eggs in my food steamer (awesome method, by the way) for easy lunch items. ¬†I also cut up and marinated pork for dinner on Tuesday.

Last night was taco night.  But bison tacos, in lettuce wraps.

Bison Taco Lettuce Wraps

Bison Taco Lettuce Wraps

And tonight was buffalo chicken wraps and kale chips.  I had a bit of cheddar, greek yogurt ranch (I stir up a bit of the ranch dip powder with non-fat plain greek yogurt), spinach, and avocado.  I know the wrap looks huge, but I actually ripped off most of the excess once the photo was done.

Buffalo Chicken Wrap & Kale Chips

Buffalo Chicken Wrap & Kale Chips

I’ve been breaking up and cleaning the kale on Sunday and storing it in a ziploc with a papertowel. ¬†As long as I make sure to spin it really dry, it seems to keep better and makes it super easy to throw a hand full into a smoothie or salad, ¬†or roast up a quick tray of kale chips.

*My kale chip recipe isn’t really a recipe. ¬†I just mist them lightly with oil, toss with salt and pepper and bake for 10 minutes at 300 degrees. ¬†Flip and roast another 5-10 minutes and enjoy! ¬†Watch them the last few minutes, they burn easily and are kinda bitter if you do. ¬†You can customize these in so many ways‚Ķparmesan cheese, sriracha, hot sauce, chili powder, garlic powder‚Ķwhatever you have, whatever you feel like. ¬†They are SO good, and perfect guilt free snacking.

The lineup for the rest of the week is…

Tuesday – Hoisin Pork with Rice Noodles¬†– this was my original pinspiration. ¬†I’m not sure what I’m going to do with this yet, but I have pork tenderloin cut up and marinating in stir fry sauce and hoisin so we’ll make something work.

Wednesday – Garlic Shrimp Spaghetti

Thursday – Cauliflower Steaks with Spinach Gratin

What is everyone else eating? ¬†Are you sticking to those New Years revolutions? ¬†I’d love to hear what your resolution was and how you stay motivated.

Chow for Now,

Red

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Lets Start Again, Shall We?

Well, to say that I have neglected my blog duties this summer is an understatement.  With 3 slo-pitch teams and a handful of camping trips, vacations and ball tournaments, meal planning and blogging has definitely taken a backseat.  Like, the way back seat.

But now it’s September…back to life, back to reality. ¬†There’s something about the week after Labor Day that always feels like a reset, like the time to switch gears and get back to eating better, working out more, etc. ¬†I’ve set myself some small goals and I’m hoping that by sharing them with the inter-web, they’ll have more weight:

  1. Shop and meal plan for 2 weeks at a time
  2. Prep as much as I can for each week’s breakfasts, lunches and dinners on Sunday
  3. Keep a food journal and move everyday
  4. Eat breakfast everyday
  5. Don’t throw out produce or leftovers

Sounds easy enough right? ¬†We shall see. ¬†I’ve been super inspired by my friend Josie’s weight loss journey and am going to make a conscious effort to stick to my own. ¬†I can’t promise that you will get weekly posts, but I am going to try really hard.

So, in the spirit of the September reset, I did a Costco and Co-op run and spent about $250 on meat and produce.  Now, I realize that that is a lot of money, but the meat should easily last us 3 months and with my Tupperware FridgeSmarts, the produce will last a good two weeks.  Did I mention that I have a minor Tupperware addiction?  So, what did I get for $250?  Lots.

  • Chicken breasts
  • Chicken thighs
  • Chicken Italian sausages
  • Pork tenderloin
  • Frozen salmon
  • Frozen Haddock
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Portobello Mushrooms
  • Golden Beets
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

And after 6 hours of washing, cutting, packing and cooking, here’s my haul:

Organized Chaos

Organized Chaos

How Do You Like My Meat?

How Do You Like My Meat?


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Nice right? There is definitely something to be said about 6 hours of prep work to make my life easier through the week. ¬†I also have veggies prepped for Monday and Tuesday’s dinners. ¬†I made¬†baked oatmeal for breakfast and for lunches, I cut up and bagged veggies, made dip (add ranch dressing powder to plain Greek yogurt), boiled eggs and packed up leftover Minestrone soup. ¬†With lots of items packed and ready, I just have to grab and go in the morning.

Banana and Berry Baked Oatmeal

Banana and Berry Baked Oatmeal

Veggies for Beef & Broccoli

Veggies for Beef & Broccoli


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Okay, enough talking…let’s get down to the food story. ¬†Here are this week’s meals, follow me on Pinterest for lots (and lots) of recipe inspiration.

I love soup…it’s such an easy meal in a bowl and always makes lots, so it also serves as lunch for a few days and I can freeze half the batch for another week. ¬†I also had flank steak and salmon in the freezer that needed to be used up and I like the roasted chicken and vegetables recipe because it’s easy to throw it all in one dish and bake.

I will be back next Sunday with an update on how the week’s menu turned out and what’s on the agenda for next week.

Chow For Now,

Red

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Wild Rose Party

Not that party! It’s a Wild Rose Cleanse party. I am prepping up a storm today getting ready to start the Wild Rose Cleanse on Wednesday. Not that I was going to leave the house today anyway…this is the view from my kitchen window. It was 12 degrees on Friday…

Welcome to Calgary

Welcome to Calgary

For anyone who has not tried the cleanse, it is basically a combination of a super clean diet and a pill regimen designed to clean out your system. We all know what I mean by “clean out your system”…this will be worse for some than others. I tend not to eat a whole lot of crap anyway, so it doesn’t effect me too harshly but I do know people who have said that the cleanse makes their bodies angry. Like, real angry. So there is your warning…you will poop. A lot. But that is the point…

*Disclaimer – I am in no way, shape or form trained in anything related to medicine or nutrition and in no way qualified to tell you what to eat. I just know how the cleanse makes me feel and what the pamphlet says it does for you.*

This is not a cleanse where you starve yourself and drink crazy things like lemon juice and cayenne pepper. You can still eat meat, fish, healthy grains like brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, barley etc., domestic fruit and pretty much any vegetable you want. You can not eat dairy (causes excess mucous production), flour (forms a glue-like paste in your intestines), peanuts (they contain naturally occurring yeasts and molds), tropical fruit (too much sugar) or any fermented foods (because you are trying to eliminate yeast). Oh and NO BOOZE. Boom. This will be by far the hardest part for me. That is sad. Hello, my name is Stephanie and I may or may not be a borderline alcoholic.

Fridge Full of Healthy Deliciousness

Fridge Full of Healthy Deliciousness

Aaanyway…for more information on the cleanse, visit their website. Here is our 12 day cleanse meal-plan, which will start on Wednesday March 6th so that we finish the day before our weight loss challenge weigh-in. Many of the recipes will need to be altered to follow the cleanse rules, but they are a good roadmap.

Breakfast will likely consist of oatmeal & berries and for lunches it will be a whole lot of veggies & hummus, tuna or salmon salad, hard boiled eggs, leftovers and salads. You are also supposed to limit your coffee intake and drink it black, so I will be switching to green tea for the next 2 weeks because black tea is fermented (and therefore not allowed) and black coffee is gross. Period.

What’s on your menu this week? Is anybody else cleansing? Check me out on Pinterest for these recipes and more.

Wish me luck!!

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Planning & Shopping

Meal planning seems like a total hassle, and sometimes it is, but most of the time it turns out that a few hours of effort on the weekend results in free hours during the week…after a long day at work…and the commute home on Calgary transit.

I will start off by saying that I am a food nerd. It is constantly on my brain. I sign out cookbooks from the library, buy food magazines and now, with the explosion of our dear friend Pinterest, it seems that inspiration is never far away. Since starting my account in December 2012, I have managed to pin around 750-800 recipes, so it’s obviously time to stop pinning and start cooking. I tend to use recipes more as inspiration than an actual list of instructions, but I still like to have them. Lots of them. If you have not yet discovered Pinterest, you must. Immediately.

*Side note – did you know that a Calgary public library card costs only $12 and they have everything from books to blu-rays and DVDs to magazines to CDs? If you are busy (read: lazy) like me, you can even go to their website, put items on hold and have them delivered to your closest branch. Saves you time & the hassle of your branch not having a copy of the book you want. Like I said, I am a nerd. http://www.calgarypubliclibrary.com

Now that you know what you want to eat, it’s time to start the plan. Do a quick inventory of what is in your fridge and needs to be used up and check what is on sale at your grocery store. I plan for at least one meatless meal, a couple of seafood and a meat or chicken and I try to mix up my “genres”…like a pasta dish, Asian or Mexican dish etc. I also plan meals that are a bit more labor intensive for Sunday and meals that have items that can be prepped ahead (ie. cut up veggies, marinate meat, cook rice or quinoa etc.) for A Case Of The Mondays. I tend to make larger meals on Sunday so that I have leftovers that can be used up in a different dish on Tuesday or Wednesday.

For the planning itself, there are a ton of apps, website etc. that can help. I do a rough, rough draft on paper and then use the¬†Pepperplate app for planning and making a shopping list. Pepperplate has become my 2nd best friend (behind the other big P, obviously). It is a recipe box, a menu planner and a grocery list, all in one little app. There are a ton of websites that Pepperplate is linked to that you can import recipes from (copy the URL, paste into Import Recipe). Once you find a recipe, it can be added to your menu planner and the ingredients can be added to your shopping list. You can also write your own recipes or just use the planner and shopping list if you save your recipes elsewhere (like…on Pinterest). Easy Peasy. This is just what works for me…please, use whatever method works for you.

On to the shopping. I don’t coupon (yet), I just check the flyers from our local grocery stores and head for the place that has at least a few things on sale that I already know I need. In a perfect world, I would have some sort of price tracking system that tells me where to shop. Baby steps. I tend to default to Superstore if there is nothing that stands out in the flyers…groceries AND clothes in one store? Yes please. But that’s just personal preference, shop where you want.¬†I looove grocery shopping. If you don’t like it, give me your list and your wallet and I will do it for you. Seriously. I was¬†buying produce at Costco but have realized that it is impossible to get through the exit at that place without at least $150 worth of stuff in your cart. Impossible. Even when you think you are going to be sneaky and not take a cart, you just end up walking around trying to balance a dozen items in your arms. Needless to say, that gets pricey. So I have vowed to shop at regular grocery stores as much as possible and limit Costco trips to once every couple of months.

So, there you go. Now you have recipes and a plan and a list. So go forth, plan and shop.

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The First of Many…I Hope

Pinterest. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Pinterest. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

It has been suggested that I should start a blog about my cooking adventures. I am not at all trained and not at all Martha Stewart, I just like food. ¬†I have recently become obsessed with Pinterest (I know I’m not the only one) and decided that instead of just pinning, I should¬†cook.

First, this is in no way promoted, sponsored or paid for by Pinterest or anyone else. I am just hooked on Pinterest and like to cook. Second, I can not take credit for the idea of “stop pinning and start doing”. I saw it on a blog. Sherry (from Young House Love) and her friend Katie (from Bower Power) – ya, we’re on a first name basis – decided to host their own Pinterest challenge, but with DIY stuff and crafts. ¬†I am not crafty but I do like to cook.

*Side Note: do you read Young House Love? Sherry and John are awesome. They are DIY masters.¬†Bower Power rocks too, but I don’t get to read it as much because the pictures don’t show up at work and I do most of my reading at work (ha). Just for like 10 minutes, while I put on my shoes and eat my breakfast…swear. YHL and MODG blog (also, amazing) are the 2 that I read religiously. I went back and read MODG from the beginning, she is hilarious.

Back to The Point. Every week I will pin our planned meals on my “What’s For Dinner” Pinterest board and throughout the week I will try to let you know how each meal went. I don’t know anything about dieting or nutrition, I am just trying to eat “healthier” which to me means more fruits and veggies, less crap and hopefully some really yummy food.¬†This is 100% my first attempt at a blog, so there will be hiccups. Please bear with me and hopefully it turns out to be as easy as the internet tells me it is.

Hop on over to Pinterest.com to get started. Or download the App. Go. You won’t regret it. Please follow me on Pinterest and we’ll start turning those pins into something delicious.

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