Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A New Kind of New Year's Resolution

On Saturday, it will be March.  By that time, most of the people that made New Year's resolutions have long broken and abandoned them.  The odds are against any one who makes them anyway since change is hard and takes a while for a new behavior to become a habit.  Life gets in the way and sooner or later, most people fall back in the same routine, more than likely feeling like a failure that they couldn't do the one thing different they wanted to do this year.

Sound familiar?  This happens to me almost every year.  In reflecting why my New Year's resolutions don't stick, it's more than like because my list of things I want to do differently usually looks something like this...

No mom, I didn't start smoking and you and I both know I call you...but you get the point.  Our resolutions turn into more of a shopping list than one or two attainable goals.  No wonder we give up.  We set ourselves up to fail.

Now, ideally, I would like my attitude about resolutions to look something like this...

Unfortunately, I've never had that good of an opinion about myself.  That's when it hit me.  My resolution for this year...

"Do something about it or stop bitching about it."

This can go for anything in my life that I don't like.  Too often I find that instead of taking an active role in fixing the things I'm unhappy with, may they be physical or otherwise, I complain more that I try and change them.  And that's what I want to change this year.

I'll be honest, it hasn't been the easiest journey so far.  I brought back more than a few extra pounds from France...thanks to all that wine, cheese and yummy bread...so I knew I wanted to get my diet back in shape and loose some weight.  I thought what better way to jump start this than to complete another Whole30?  I'd done it before, so what would be so hard about doing it again?  Until the hubs and I had our first date night in months and I wanted a drink...or two...and my dad turned 60 and I wanted to eat the cake I made him.  Call it lack of will power, but life events combined with the fact that I just started a new job as an Assistant Pastry Chef...and the Whole30 just wasn't going to work for me right now.

THIS time, instead of getting discouraged and completely throwing in the towel, I decided to take a step back and reevaluated how I was going to approach the "diet" aspect of loosing some weight.  I'm starting small this time and working up from there, beginning with making Paleo dinners for the whole family.  Last night I made this yummy recipe for roasted chicken:

This was everything I love in a recipe...one pan, quick prep, healthy and oh so yummy!  It's Whole30 compliant and flexible to change up to use what you have on hand.  Give it a try, I know it will be a hit!

Crispy Roast Chicken and Vegetables adapted from Stuff I Make My Husband

1 whole chicken (cut into 8 or 10 pieces...if you feel like it, throw some water over the bones, add a little salt and pepper, put it on low heat for 10-12 hours and you have homemade stock!)
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 T dried rosemary
2 T dried oregano
2 T dried thyme
1 bunch asparagus; trimmed to 2 inch lengths
10 oz box frozen artichoke hearts; thawed
1 red bell pepper; cut into chunks

*Recipe note: If you look at the recipe, you see some of the veggies I used are different.  Here's where this recipe is great.  You can put any vegetable in you have on hand...which could help lower the monthly grocery bill (Yep...another goal...)

1 - Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2 - In a bowl, combine olive oil and herbs.
3 - Toss the veggies in the olive mixture.  Remove from the oil and line the bottom of a roasting pan with them.  I had a disposable one on hand which made clean up even easier!
4 - Arrange the chicken pieces, skin side up, on top of the veggies.  Pour the olive oil mixture over the chicken.  Cover with alluminum foil and cook for 45 minutes.
5 - Remove the foil and cook for an additional 15 minute.  Turn oven up to broil for the last 2-3 minutes to really get the skin crispy. 

So here's my new start for my New Year's resolution.  Along with starting my new job, I've also agreed to supply healthy treats for the hubs to take to doctor's offices to help drum up some business for the pharmacy.  We've also talked about me doing a blog once a week focusing on a dietary concern or healthy meal to post on the pharmacy Facebook page.  Lots of new things coming up!

What are your major health or dietary concerns?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Do You Want To Build A Snowman?

DISCLAIMER:  I am a southerner!  Born.  Bred.  Lived here all my life.  Although I welcome readers from all areas of the country...and world...I want no fun being made by all the northerners out there.  After all, when the temps rise above 80 and you freak out about the heat, we southerners don't call you sissies for not being able to handle it correctly.  So here is my take on our snow storm from last week.  No judgement here :)

"Snowmagedon" as I heard many Facebook friends refer to it, began on Tuesday, February 11.  Although it was by no means the end of the world, almost a foot of snow fell on the lovely city of Charlotte before the sun went down on Thursday.  Our city, the largest in the state, has only four snow plows and NO way of really handling this kind of snow.  In all my years living in NC, I've never seen it snow so hard for so long.  It really did shut down the city and had me wishing that I had gone to the grocery store with the rest of the crazies to clear out the milk and bread aisle...both of which we ran out of!

The little one was in heaven!  She spent the first day "shoveling" our back yard and Thursday we built a snowman.  She was quite surprised at the amount of snow on the ground and how she would sink when she jumped in the snow.  I know I'm biased, but she's pretty much the most adorable girl in the world!

After time in the cold, all I wanted for lunch was the same thing my mom always made on snow days growing up...grilled cheese and tomato soup.  Here's were I had to get creative.  The grilled cheese was handled, although this would be the last of our bread.  But we had no actual tomato soup.  I dug through the cabinets and came up with the following in which to put a concoction together...

Random ingredients to make my soup with.  After all, my first chef in culinary school would say that soup is nothing but liquid with stuff in it.  So here's the best at a recipe for you (note my lovely measurements for this one!)

Tossed Together Tomato Soup

1 can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 jar tomato basil spaghetti sauce
3-4 c chicken broth; the more you put the thinner it will be
3-4 shakes across the pot of each of the following: shredded Parmesan
; thyme; rosemary; oregano; garlic salt and pepper

Looks like this in the pot
Throw it all in and stir it up
Heat it through and serve with a toasty grilled cheese

Perfect end to a perfect day!

A Sweet 60th Surprise!

This year is a big one for birthdays!  Both my parents and the hubs parents turn 60 this year.  About a week and a half before my dad's birthday, my mom called to ask what I thought we should do.  "Have a party!"  I suggested...and we were off to pull off a surprise party...in about 12 days.

For those of you who have met or know my dad, you know getting something by him is no small task.  For those of you who don't know him, he's very smart, extremely curious and is known to figure out presents simply by looking at the box...sometimes even if it's camouflaged.  Pulling off a surprise party wouldn't be easy.  His birthday fell the Tuesday before Valentine's Day, so we set the day for the Saturday before.  Mom told him I would be coming into town to cook him a birthday dinner, a friend of him took him boat shopping in Raleigh for the day, which got him out of the house and with the hubs acting as my sous chef for the day, we pulled off all the food for the party!  When the moment of truth came, we (all 50 or so of us) waited patiently to see if Mr. Detective would really be surprised...

...and he REALLY WAS!!  I was pretty amazed that we pulled the whole thing off without him expecting anything.  My dad is a big golfer so I named the food with golf terms and made him a golf cake, vanilla with Bailey's ganache on the top and carrot cake (his favorite) on the bottom.

Thanks to Pinterest, I also had the idea to print off pictures of dad through the years in the shape of a "60".  I think it turned out pretty awesome!

A fun time was had by all!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Not Your Average Shrimp and Grits

I'm a southern girl.  Born and bred.  One of my favorite southern meals is shrimp and grits.  Between being out of the country for almost four months and hitting up the paleo diet before we left, I hadn't made shrimp and grits in a loooong time.  My craving hit, I was determined to make it for dinner and then I looked in the freezer.  NO SHRIMP!  I had everything else I needed but the shrimp.  So what does one do when you have a craving for something specific but don't want to brave the cold to go to the grocery store...improvise!  So here is my new play on shrimp and grits....

Italian Sausage and Grits!  It would actually work out perfect.  We had a huge pack of Italian sausage in the freezer and the hubs has been requesting that I try out making paella sometime soon.  So I used half the sausage for this and bagged the rest to save for paella later in the week.  I still missed the shrimp, but this was a good, yummy and (best of all) quick alternate!  Everyone cleared their plates!  Try it out sometime and let me know what you think!

Italian Sausage and Grits - Serves 4 (adapted from Baked Polenta from Spoon, Fork, Bacon)

1 lb Italian sausage; casings removed
1/2 red onion; diced
4 garlic cloves; minced
4 oz cremini mushrooms; cleaned and sliced
2 T thyme; minced
1/4 c chicken or beef broth
4 1/2 c water
1 1/2 c yellow cornmeal
3 T unsalted butter
6 oz goat cheese; crumbled
3 T parmesan; grated
salt and pepper

1 - Heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Brown the sausage.  Remove from the pan reserving the drippings in the pan.
2 - Add red onion and garlic to the skillet.  Cook until transparent.  Add the mushrooms.  Cook until slightly softened.  Add thyme and broth.  Reduce heat to medium and cook until slightly reduced, 5-10 minutes.
3 - Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a pot.  Whisk in yellow cornmeal in a slow stream.  Reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened (about 5 minutes).
4 - Add butter and cheeses to the pot and stir until melted.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5 - Return sausage to the skillet and heat through.  Serve sausage mixture over polenta.

What's on your plate for the big game?  See what was on mine soon...