Pre-schooler troubles, a Salmon Recipe and a Crockpot Recipe

I can’t believe it’s already Monday, and Hadley has to go back to school. Back to our daily routines and all, which I am actually looking forward to. When I was explaining to my mom how Hadley has been acting a little off lately, like sleeping a lot, overly grumpy, having an attitude towards Brent and I, she said it was probably the post-holiday blues. I’ve never even heard of that so I brushed it off, but then I googled it, which I often do, and learned that preschoolers (and I’m sure kids in general) have a very hard time after Christmas is over. All the anticipation, the parties, the decorations, the yummy food and treats, the presents… And once it is over, we go back to our day to day lives pretty easily, where as they don’t understand why everything magical just stopped so suddenly. I didn’t even realize that she might see it that way so I asked her if she was sad that Christmas was over, which she was. One of the articles I read mentioned some questions to ask to help them understand and for us to explain that we still have lots of things to look forward to. So I asked her most of them and we talked on the couch for a bit today while Truett napped, and the rest of the day went pretty well. She is a creature of habit, so I think getting back into the routine of school will be a big help for her.

As far as our weekend, it was pretty great, and there was some really wonderful food mixed in too. My mom came in on Friday for the weekend, which is always a blast. Friday night Brent made Blackened Salmon with Blue Cheese Sauce for dinner. I was a little concerned at first, but there were over a hundred five star reviews for this recipe online, so I went with it. Fish and Blue cheese just never crossed my mind as a good combination before. Let me tell you, I was so wrong. It is probably my new favorite way to eat salmon, and I will want this at least once a month. It was so easy too!

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Blacked Salmon with Blue Cheese Sauce
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil, for frying
4 (6-ounce) portions skinless and boneless salmon fillets

Blue Cheese Sauce:
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup blue cheese crumbles

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small bowl, combine the Italian seasoning, black pepper, paprika, salt, and cayenne. Season each piece of fish with the rub.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter and oil. Once the butter has melted, add the fish and cook about 2 minutes per side.

Transfer the whole pan to the oven and cook for another 4 to 6 minutes.

For the sauce:
Place the white wine into a medium saucepan and reduce by half. Add the heavy cream and allow to reduce. Add the blue cheese and whisk until smooth. Serve on top of the salmon.

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I served this with just roasted vegetables tossed in a little EVOO, salt and pepper.

Saturday morning Brent and I got up and went to the gym, and we took Truett so Hadley and my mom could have some girl time. I ran 6.5 miles and burned 750 calories. After nap time for the kids and bumming around the house most of the day, we got ready for our long awaited date night. My mom kept the kids and Brent took me to Boulevard Steakhouse, a place we have wanted to try for a long time. It definitely did not disappoint. The ambiance was perfect, and the service was fantastic. I don’t think there is an adjective that could describe the food. It was beyond delicious. Our appetizer was a spicy calamari with blue cheese dressing – so good. We split a 16oz filet mignon with Oscar topping for our entree. Which means it has asparagus, lump crab meat, and hollandaise on top. I don’t like hollandaise so that was not on my half. Our sides, served family style, were button mushrooms creamed spinach. I had an extra dirty martini with queen stuffed olives (blue cheese inside) and I’m almost positive that it is the best martini I’ve had to date. Normally we wouldn’t order dessert, but we couldn’t pass up the Bananas Boulevard. There would be a picture of it, but Brent dove in so quickly I couldn’t get one! It was a puff pastry, charred on top, with a scoop of Haagan Daaz Dulce de Leche ice cream, and roasted bananas all covered in caramel. You couldn’t pass that up either and you know it!!

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Then we met up with another couple for a couple of glasses of wine at a wine bar we love in downtown Edmond, Vin Dolce.
Sunday morning we were up and getting ready for church, so we put a pork tenderloin in the crockpot to be ready when we got home. Church was amazing, if I haven’t said that enough, we love our church. He started a new series today on “living the story you want to tell”. Making decisions now that can have a huge impact on your life later. What can we do to better serve God so that the story of our lives is the one He wants it to be? And one God would be proud of? If you want to watch the sermon, it’s online here, at http://www.lifechurch.tv/watch called My Story.

We had a 24oz pork tenderloin that I picked up the other day, one of those that is already marinated in the package. It takes so much effort out of it, i love it. So this one was lemon garlic, and in the crock pot we out a quarter cup of white wine, a few sliced garlic cloves, a little chicken stock, and some salt and pepper. Set it on low for 4 hours. When we walked in the door after church the whole house smelled so good! I grabbed a head of cauliflower and steamed it, then put it in our Magic Bullet with a spoonful of sour cream and blended it smooth. I had to do this three times to get all of the cauliflower done, and then I stirred in some salt and pepper, mozzarella cheese, and a little garlic powder. It was fluffy and light and looked just like mashed potatoes. I also put some greens on to boil because let’s face it, they go with everything. It was the best (healthiest) comfort food I’ve had in a long time, and it was a very easy meal to throw together in about 20 minutes, once the tenderloin is done.

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Then it came time for my mom to leave, which I hated, so afterwards we threw on our jackets and grabbed to dogs leash and headed for the park in our neighborhood.

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We had a lot of fun chasing each other, and our crazy dog, Mox, went swimming in the pond that was frozen yesterday morning! For dinner we all had leftover this and that, picked up all the toys and cleaned the playroom, gave the kids baths, and they were in bed by 8. Hadley had every single reason to get up that she could think of, so it was probably 8:45 by the time we told her to seriously go to sleep! I snuggled up on the couch with my hubby and watched “The Incredible Dr. Pol” on The National Geographic channel, which I am continually amazed by. As a previous vet tech, watching a 75 year old man who is so on top of his game and so busy is very interesting. I love the cases and the solutions, besides the fact that he is pretty funny.

Now it’s time to get the Hadley to school, Truett and I to the gym, and then some bathroom cleaning (yay?) and getting dinner started. Tonight: Zucchini Lasagna!

Do/did your kids ever have the blues after the holidays?

Do you use your crockpot a lot?

Skinny Artichoke Chicken, An Addicting Salad and Dessert!

Dinner last night turned out pretty amazing, even if I did “toast” the cheese instead of just melt it. Hadley ate all of hers, Truett ate all of the toppings and left the chicken (he’s going through a phase), and Brent convinced himself that one serving was enough. He did have two bowls of salad though.

This dinner was super easy and filling, so here is what I did. Take two chicken breasts and cut them in half horizontally. This makes cooking time faster and your portion smaller, without actually feeling smaller. I put them on a baking sheet lined with non-stick foil (I hate doing dishes) and spread about 2 Tablespoons of Artichoke Bruschetta on each one. The original recipe called for pesto, which the tube I had has 110 calories per 2 Tablespoons. This bruschetta has 30 calories per 2 Tablespoons. After they were covered up with bruschetta, I put them in the oven for 15 minutes on 400. Pulled them out, layered sliced Roma tomatoes on top and smothered them in shredded mozzarella, about as much as would stay on. Sprinkled with grated Parmesan and put back in the oven. Here is where it gets tricky. Both kids were running through the kitchen, Brent came through the back door, the dog was in the middle of it all and I totally left them in there too long. I just meant to melt the cheese, but it turned a little golden. Fortunately, we like it that way. If you don’t, pay more attention to your oven than what’s happening in your kitchen!

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I also made a salad that my friend Claire turned me on to. It is so good. She brought it for Christmas and I have already made it twice since then. It is actually the dressing that does it for me. The salad is mixed greens, feta, dried cranberries, and walnuts or candied walnuts. When you coat them in butter and sugar, salt and pepper, the walnuts are so sweet and spicy I could eat bowls of them without anything else. Tonight we had them plain, but I think I will try coating them in Splenda, salt, and pepper next time, to see how that tastes. So that’s the main salad. The dressing requires a little more effort, but if I can make it with both kids and the dog hovering under me, asking what each ingredient is and why and who named it that, you have a pretty good shot at getting it right.

In the food processor, pour in:
1/2 c Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 c EVOO
1/2 c chopped red onion
4 cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp granulated Splenda
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 c fresh parsley sprigs

Blend everything in a food processor or blender. Thanks Claire!! You might notice I get a lot of recipes and tricks from her. She’s pretty great.

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Easy right? You will be so addicted to this it’s crazy. You might notice in my picture that you can’t see any of the other toppings. I am an over-dressinger, and yes, that is a word. Now last night I thought I had run out of red wine vinegar so I used tarragon vinegar and it was also very delicious. Later Brent found the Red Wine vinegar behind a canister on the top shelf. I am short and can’t even reach up there, I just pretend like everything on that shelf is lost and use other things.

After dinner I grabbed my food processor again and whipped up this yummy dessert that I saw online. I doubled it so I could have more tonight. This recipe is for 1 serving.

1/2 c cottage cheese
1 Tbsp sugar free cheesecake jello mix
1 packet Splenda or Truvia
Splash of almond milk

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Blend til it’s smooth! It is a quick protein packed, low calorie, low carb treat that you can eat and not feel bad about. I am a cheesecake lover, so this was great for me. I even cut up some fresh strawberries and had them with it. We also have some sugar free butterscotch jello mix I thought about trying it with as well.

So with a little effort, I made a delicious, super healthy meal that everyone ate. I spent maybe 45 minutes in the kitchen from prepping to sitting down at the table, and dessert took about 2 minutes.

Tonight I think we are having Salmon with roasted broccoli and whole grain brown rice. Not sure what the salmon will have on it yet, I’ll be doing some Pinterest research while I’m at the salon getting my hair done. Have a great day today!

Do you have a friend that you get lots of tips and tricks from?

What is your favorite “healthy” dessert?

Party Food and a Healthy Dinner. Not together, of course.

This weekend was so perfect. It started Thursday with Hadley’s Christmas program at preschool. For weeks we have been asking her what songs she was singing so we could practice them. We named about 4, and I didn’t think she was singing 4, but we sang them all 24 hours a day. Thursday comes and she lets me curl her hair and puts on her Christmas dress. We arrive and drop her off with her classmates and head into the auditorium to find a seat. Out come 50 of the cutest 3 year olds, and they take their places. Music starts. “What song is this? We didn’t practice this one!” Away in a Manger. The next one was Jingle Bells, we sang it a million times. She did great! Then Joy to the World, didn’t practice. We Wish You a Merry Christmas? No, not that one either. Thank goodness we did practice Rudolph, Santa Clause is Coming to Town, and Zacchaeus. Haha.

Friday night when we watched ‘Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer’ and ‘Yes, Virgina’ with Hadley. Then Saturday morning we woke up and met some of our friends and their kids at our favorite diner for breakfast, Katie’s Country Griddle. I always get the same thing: the Which Came First omelet. It is 2 eggs, diced chicken, tomatoes, green onion, and cream cheese. It is so good! I never thought about putting cream cheese in my omelet, but it is now my favorite ingredient. They also have the most amazing coffee.

After breakfast we drove to downtown Oklahoma City to the Devon building. This is where my husband works, and his friend, whose family we were with. Each Saturday in December, Devon puts on ‘Saturdays with Santa’. There are activities and crafts, plus Santa and Mrs. Claus are there. The building is decorated so perfect, with massive decorations like ornaments and pinecones that are bright and beautiful.

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We saw Santa and Mrs. Claus, and Hadley, who has never sat on Santa’s lap before, did and smiled! It may have been the candy canes we were feeding her and bribing her with, but it worked! And not only that, but Truett followed her lead. I couldn’t believe I got a smile out of both of them! Each year we take a family picture with Santa too.

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We ran around outside for awhile and let them get some energy out before we headed home for lunch and naps.

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Saturday night we had a little get together of neighbors and a few close friends, and it was great. Everyone brought something delicious, and we hung out and then played Charades with Christmas Carol titles. In a room of adults who have had a few glasses of Christmas Punch, trying to act out some of these was hilarious! I highly recommend this if you have a party to go to any time in the next week or so. The girls team won, by the way. We rocked it.

For the food, I of course searched Pinterest, and decided on Red Velvet Cheesecake Dip. It was so easy and delicious, as you would imagine. Brent made seared Asparagus with a Béarnaise sauce, one of my favorite appetizers. There was bacon wrapped water chestnuts, sausage balls, spinach artichoke dip, a fruit tray and a sausage and cheese tray. Also red velvet mini cupcakes and Mint Chocolate Bark.

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Here is the recipe I used.

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My friend Claire made this and Brent and I still were eating on it today. It is so addicting.

Sunday we went to church, I definitely wanted to hear a positive message after the tragedy in Connecticut last week. How devastating. I honestly cannot fathom what those families are going through, and every time I think about it I cry. I have been really emotional about it, and all we can do is keep praying. For everyone involved and for our society as a whole. Pray that God wraps those families in his arms and comforts them, and that we as Christians pull together and support those who need it. Even from Oklahoma or anywhere else, our prayers can make a difference in any place. Just keep praying.

For dinner Brent made Venison Backstrap with Roasted Cauliflower and Carrots. It was SO good. Melt in your mouth good. Nothing tastes better than venison wrapped in bacon and drizzled with a little EVOO, straight off the grill. I like venison because it is a little gamier than beef, which I know also deters some people from eating it. It is so lean that many times you have to wrap it in bacon so it doesn’t dry out while cooking. The flavor is amazing and I appreciate that it was a wild animal, totally organic and taken by my husband to provide for our family. There is nothing healthier than that.

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Have you watched the Elf on the Shelf movie yet? It was really cute, Hadley loved it and we’ve already watched it 3 times. Here is what Holly got into last night. Just sticking to one of the four major food groups!

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Have a great day today! It’s almost Christmas!!

Two Easy, Hearty, and Healthy Meals

Yesterday was my Mom’s birthday!! What an amazing woman she is and she has definitely taught me how to thrive even when you think you are going under. I always remember bits of advice she has told me over the years, especially when it comes to motherhood and marriage. I’m sure those will come out on here as time passes, but if I sat here and wrote even just the most recent ones I would be writing for days. We talk at least once a day, usually a few times, and do FaceTime at least a few times a week with the kids. She’s my best friend for sure, and not only do I get the best friend aspect, but I get the advice and comfort of my Mom. I know how lucky I am to have this, not everyone has this kind of relationship with their mother. She is such a good Nana to all 6 of her grandkids, and Hadley asks to call her at least once a day. Can’t say enough about her! This is us at her Engagement Party 2 weeks ago.

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I took Hadley to school yesterday and ran a couple of errands, and ended up at the clinic I worked at, which is a usual occurrence. I get my fix of clients, patients, and medical drama. Plus I get to see my friends and get a little adult conversation. On a lucky day we grab lunch or order sushi, but there was too much going on for that today. Truett and I picked up Brent’s Christmas present, and came home to eat lunch.

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Do you like greens? I love greens. My family has made greens for Sunday dinner or any other excuse for as long as I can remember. Fresh are definitely better, but I found these once when the store was out of fresh greens. I always keep them in the cabinet now. They are delicious and so healthy. One serving is a half of a cup. It has 45 calories, 6 carbs, and 5 grams of fiber per serving. That means it has 1 net carb per serving, because you subtract the fiber from the total carbs. Basically I could eat an entire giant can and not feel bad about it at all. So I cut up a couple of venison ‘snack sticks’ (from the deer in our freezer), which are like mini summer sausages with big chunks of cheese and jalapeño in them, and put them on a cup of greens. Heated it up and oh man, it was goodness. Spicy and so yummy.

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I played with the dog for a while as Truett kicked a ball around the yard and climbed on little plastic chairs. He has really been into climbing lately, and today he stood up on one and let go, fell off ad landed face first in the grass. He was pretty mad, but just got a little scrape. Good thing we are going to see Santa on Saturday and it is next to his eye!

After we picked up Hadley we came home and played hard. I decided to get all the veggies cut up for dinner because I was making a spin off of a Pesto Pasta dish my Mom taught me. Normally, I use bowtie pasta, Italian sausage, and yummy veggies. Toss it all in pesto and serve it hot. It’s really good, but when I started trying to make all my meals lighter but just as delicious, I had to cut out a few ingredients. So I used Turkey Italian sausage, and just cut out the pasta. Instead of steaming the fresh veggies, I roasted them with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Cauliflower, tomatoes, zucchini, canned artichoke hearts and black olives were my choices for tonight. I put the olives on only for the last couple of minutes so they didn’t dry up.

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I roasted them at 400 until they were golden on top, like 20 minutes. I cooked the sausage in a pan, though it would have been great grilled too. Sliced it and put everything in a big bowl and then poured pesto on it and tossed it around. To be honest, this is also good with a marinara sauce, or anything really. I like the saltiness of the pesto. I was concerned about everyone else eating it, because Brent is a pasta lover, and Hadley is going through a phase about what she will and won’t eat. Doesn’t change what I cook, she can eat it or be hungry, so its a good thing she is a good eater. To my surprise, they all ate it up. Even Truett, who had two bowlfuls. Seconds for that kid will never surprise me. This was an easy, hearty meal that you can change to suit your taste. Use the vegetables your family will eat and a sauce they will eat. It is a great dinner for any time of the year, but I thought it was really nice for a cold winter night.

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And Brent really liked it. He has come a long way from when I met him about what he eats. I don’t take all the credit, I just think he has become more aware of how he feels when he eats certain things. When we are being good and eating right, we have more energy, are in better moods, and just all around feel good. When I eat something I shouldn’t, something heavy or greasy, I feel awful. Then I start to think about how I must have felt like that all the time before, and just that everyone else did too! Food has a huge impact on how we feel as well as feel about ourselves. The ingredients in the food make our bodies do certain things, like feel tired or more energized. Also the way they break down impacts us. Eating junk like fast food or lots of pasta and sugar makes your blood sugar spike and crash, making you have mood swings and bursts of energy. These can make you bloated so you don’t feel like you look your best, or make your skin oily soyou break out, which impacts your self esteem. Emotional eating is another vicious cycle, which is the category I fell into. Eating cleaner food, vegetables, meat, dairy, healthy carbs, whole grains, etc. can make you feel amazing. It cleans out your digestive system and your body uses almost every nutrient in these foods. You don’t need to eat fries or ice cream, but you want to. Try an alternative and see how you feel. I bet if you switched out one food you eat regularly for one healthier version, not only would it taste as good, you would feel better physically too. Like use vegetables instead of pasta, or try the cauliflower pizza crust. Or the low carb pancakes. Make zucchini chips instead of Potato chips. These are all so good! And if I have a pizza fanatic who will eat cauliflower pizza and hasn’t ordered from the place on the corner in months, then it must be good.

Crockpot Chicken Tacos for a Cold Night!

Happy Monday! I know they usually aren’t happy, but we can try right? And just think- only two weeks until Christmas Eve!! That may be scary to some of you, but I am done shopping! All my presents are wrapped and under the tree. This is the first time that this has ever happened, so if I mention it a few more times, forgive me.

My weekend was great, busy, but nice. Friday we went to dinner at our favorite Mexican food place, grabbed a Starbucks Skinny Salted Caramel Macchiato, and drove the kids around looking at Christmas lights. Brent said at one point, “We are so blessed. I cannot think of a better way to spend my Friday night.” Let me tell you why this means so much to me. Not only because my husband would rather hang out with me and our two little ones on a Friday night when he could be doing anything else, but because I have many friends who don’t have what I have. I have plenty of friends who also have amazing husbands, but lets be honest, I’m biased. I so appreciate not only how he enjoys being with us, but that he tells us he enjoys it. Also, and I’m sure everyone can agree with me here, before we were married, the last thing we wanted to do on a Friday night was look at Christmas lights or be with a three and one year old. Now it’s all we want to do – most days. Saturday I went to the gym and did my cardio and then met a girlfriend for lunch with the kids. Brent and her husband were out hunting deer and pheasant, but didn’t bring anything home. They did have a good time and got to know each other better, so it was a successful trip for sure. Then the kids took their naps and I wrapped all the presents, and Brent came home. We played hard and had a yummy salad for dinner. Yesterday we went to church, and we go to LifeChurch. It is always amazing, but the music this week was exceptional and the series is on viewing God the way children do. It makes you remember all the amazing things you thought about God when you were little, how literally you took everything the bible says, and realizing we don’t think that way anymore, but should. All of the messages are online, here. We ran some errands, went to Starbucks again (we are addicts and we know it), and came home in time for a fantastic dinner, Crockpot Chicken Tacos. The kids got hot chocolate, and this was Truett’s first time to ever have it so he finished it all without taking the cup out of his mouth, as well as Hadley’s first time to get her own ‘real’ Starbucks cup. She thought she was hot stuff after that!

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I got this recipe from my sister-in-law, Brandi. She made if for 4th of July last summer and we make it all the time now. I haven’t changed anything, except that I don’t eat mine in tortillas. I either use big leafy lettuce leaves to make tacos or I make it into taco soup! It is low calorie and low carb!

Ingredients:
4-5 chicken breasts
1 packet chicken taco seasoning
1 can green chiles
1 can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 box chicken stock

Directions:
Put everything in the crockpot and turn it on high for 4-5 hours. Shred the chicken with forks right before serving and put it back in the crockpot. Seriously, it’s that easy.

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For toppings we had cheese, sour cream, salsa, and black beans. I put a few jalapeños on mine tonight too. I made it into soup for me, so I basically just added more broth to my bowl. Perfect meal for a cold wintery night! Plus everyone in my family loves it. I have a big Tupperware full of leftovers and will be eating on this all week.

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This week is a busy one. Monday and Wednesday Hadley has preschool, Brent has finals this week, Hadley has her school Christmas program, we have to go see Santa, and did I mention we are having a little get together on Saturday? So I’m also planning that. But I LOVE to plan a party, so that is no trouble.

Our elf tried to sneak in my cookie jar over the weekend too. Sneaky Holly!

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Homemade Stockings and Kabobs for Dinner

Yesterday was a much better day and I got a lot accomplished. I found Brent’s christmas present and I have to go pick it up, but the problem will be hiding it. So I’m still working on that. He had class until 10, so I made the kids a frozen pizza for dinner and they devoured it. Those Totino’s party pizzas arent as bad as some of the others, and they are great when I need something easy. We played hard and the kids went to bed right on time.

So I whipped out my sewing machine with intentions to finish the stockings that I had started last year. A year ago, when I had a newborn, I thought I could easily make 4 matching stockings while learning how to be a stay at home mom. We see how well that worked out when they sat uncuffed for a year in the closet. So I bought a bunch of different ribbons and got to work making different cuffs for each of us. Lets just say it took me a few minutes to remember how to turn the machine on. Then getting the matching thread on the bobbin… I had to google it. Basically it took me almost an hour to get to the point I could actually sew a stitch onto these stinking stockings. By this time Brent was home, so much for him walking in to say, “Babe! They look great!” Instead he came in while I was cussing out my sewing machine, which I learned from google – is one of the simplest to use. Thanks for boosting my confidence google.

But I got them done! I even used more than one color of thread! Let me explain to you that this is the first sewing project I have ever completed alone, and without calling or using FaceTime with my mom or my friend Claire. Who’s awesome? This girl.

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I need to iron them, but im pretty proud of them! They are made of burlap, and then I used an old bedsheet in a tan color as the lining. I was going to stencil our names on them, but I found these super cute initial ornaments at hobby lobby, and I think I will use those instead. Ill post pictures after I pick them up.

Last night our elf was as tired as I was so she curled up in one of my cookie boxes with a cloth napkin. She must have had a long trip to the North Pole!

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For dinner tonight I’m making kabobs, a staple in our house. I remember this being my favorite meal growing up, and my dad used this yummy teryaki glaze and we ate them with Wild Grain rice. So good. However, I’ve lightened them up a bit.

Start with a steak you like, I usually use sirloin, and cut it into inch and a half cubes or so. Use whatever veggies you like, we use cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, and zucchini. Sometimes I put pineapple chunks on there too. Cut the veggies to bite size pieces and skewer alternating meat and veggies. I drizzle a littlw EVOO on them and then sprinkle cavenders greek seasoning over everything and grill! Its so so good. I dont serve them with rice anymore either, I just eat as many veggies as I can!

Do you have a staple meal from your childhood that you have changed to be healthier for your family?

Are you working on any projects this holiday season?

Skinny Pumpkin Bread and Surgery

I have a really hard time finding a few minutes here and there to work on my blog, so I’m looking forward to being home again and making it what I want it to be.

Last night I was trying to burn off a little anxiety as well as prepare breakfast ahead of time, because this morning was an early one. My husband is having a minor outpatient surgery, which will be fixing his Rhynophyma that he has lived with for over 10 years. It’s is a cosmetic procedure, but it is will be doing more than just correcting this medical problem. It will definitely rebuild his confidence, and I can’t imagine my husband anymore handsome or perfect, but I’ll take it!

And my mom is coming tonight, I’m excited! And I saw her last weekend, but she gets to stay for 4 days! I can’t wait!!

So I was at the store picking up diapers and I grabbed a box of pumpkin bread and a can of pumpkin because I’ve heard that you can substitute it for oil and eggs in some recipes. What better to try canned pumpkin in than pumpkin bread? As far as I’m concerned, you can’t put enough pumpkin in anything.

Mix the dry mix, 1/2 cup and 3 Tablespoons of the pumpkin, and 1 cup of water until smooth, then bake according to the directions on the back. Basically I read that for each egg you substitute 1/4 cup of pumpkin and for oil it is an even exchange.

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Per serving, and there are 12, this bread has 127 calories and 1.5 grams of fat. Has 40 carbs, but 8 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein per serving as well.

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Please excuse my pictures, it was 5:30 this morning and I hadn’t had enough coffee yet.

The bread turned out more than amazing. Dense and so so moist, definitely does not taste low calorie. It tastes just like pumpkin pie. Brent couldn’t eat anything this morning so he made me describe it to him, haha. He kept talking about how wonderful it smelled, and the whole house smelled that way. You may be adding carbohydrates to this recipe, but you are also adding fiber and protein, because if you made the recipe by the box, it would have 170 calories per serving, 1.5 grams of fat, 27 carbs, 1 gram of fiber and 2 grams of protein.

Our amazing friend Kelly was at our house at 5:30 this morning to stay with the kids so i could take Brent to the hospital. She is so wonderful! We could not have a better group of people who love our kids and are willing to help us out. I am so lucky to have these people on my life since our family lives far away. When we moved here over 3 years ago, I was really struggling with being away from my family. And I still do, but not as much, only because we have made such strong bonds with our group of friends, that we consider them just like our family. We spend holidays together and weekends, date nights, you name it. We share babysitters and watch each others kids so we can have time alone with our spouses. What is that quote about friends, “Friends are the family we get to choose for ourselves”. It has taken us quite a while to build our circle of friends and I’m so glad it has. I have friends from work who are some of my best friends, our neighbors are definitely the most amazing neighbors you could ever ask for. I will outgrow my house and someone will have to physically remove me before I ever leave our cul-de-sac. And through work or other friends I have met some of the most wonderful people who I love spending time with. I remember crying to Brent a couple of years ago about how I didn’t have anyone here in Oklahoma and how badly I missed my life back in Texas, all I wanted was to move home and be with my family and friends. I’m so glad he said no, and we stayed here. And not only for the people we have met, but for the family we have become.

Cauliflower Pizza!

Yesterday at lunch Brent was having a salad and said, “This salad is not as good as I wanted it to be.” I asked why, and he replied, “Because I want pizza.” So that’s what was for dinner.

I found this recipe on Pinterest over the summer, and have made it many times since. My kids eat it, my husband eats it, it totally satisfies our pizza cravings with 1/3 or the calories and almost zero carbs depending on what toppings you use. Hope you enjoy it as much as we have!!

First you take the head of cauliflower and ‘rice’ it. Put it in the blender, food processor, or I like to do it with a cheese grater over a bowl. Rice the whole head and put it a microwave safe container and microwave for about 7 minutes. Don’t add any water, the cauliflower has enough naturally that it will just steam itself.

Once it is cooked, scoop it out, one measuring cup at a time. For each cup of cooked cauliflower, you will add one egg and one cup of shredded mozzarella cheese. Then put in some Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Enough to where it starts to smell good.

Mix it all up really well, and then pour it out onto your baking sheet lined with parchment paper. This is the secret to the pizza. Parchment paper. Not wax paper, I have made that mistake. Don’t just put it on the pan either, the cheese glues to it and it doesn’t cook evenly. Trust me – parchment paper. A double batch (2 cups cauliflower, 2 cups of cheese and 2 eggs) makes 2 pizza rounds, about 10 inches across. Basically like a personal pizza. This is enough for my family of 4, and I will have leftovers.

Press it out onto the baking sheet until it is like 1/3 inch thick. Or as thin as you want it, but it has to hold together, so don’t spread it too thin. Put it in an oven heated to 425, for 20 minutes. Then start checking it because you don’t want it to burn but you want it to be golden brown on top. I cook both crusts at the same time for about 25 minutes. You could even use it from this point as garlic bread or cheese bread, it tastes awesome with or without toppings!

Pull them out and put on whatever toppings you like. Brent likes cheese and pepperoni.

I like pesto, ricotta cheese, fresh mozzarella, Italian sausage, and basil on top. So so good!

Put it back in the oven with the broiler on high, and broil until the cheese is melty and the toppings are heated through.

Pull it out and slice it up!

Crust – whole – 350 calories, 5 carbs
– slice (8) – 44 calories, < 1 carb

My toppings – 138 calories per slice and 2 carbs per slice.
Brent’s toppings – 122 calories and and 1 carb per slice.

The average slice of pepperoni pizza from your favorite pizza place has 330 calories and 45 carbs!!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

These turned out to be the best version of these cookies I have made yet. And I make them a few different ways every year, but from now on, I am sticking with these. They were big, soft, and super fluffy. I am getting tons of requests for the recipe so here it is!

1 Cup of Canned Pumpkin (or one 15oz can)

1 Cup white sugar

1/2 Cup vegetable oil

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp milk

1 tbsp vanilla extract

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Combine pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, and egg. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, ground and salt. Dissolve the baking soda with the milk and stir in. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Add vanilla, chocolate chips and even nuts if you want to!

Drop by spoonful on to cookie sheet lined with wax paper or parchment paper, and bake at 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes or until lightly brown and firm.