Whole 30 Week 3 – It’s all downhill from here

So we made it through a weekend in Syracuse, complete with three large meals with extended family – and desserts at each!  If you’ve ever been to the Cheesecake Factory and seen their chocolate tower cake – my dad bought an entire cake of that for dessert the first night, and then when the 12 or so people only ate 1/3 of it, he brings it to the other family gathering the next night…and then there was still about half of the cake left and told us we could take some home and freeze it (we declined).  But we did get to eat some good steak and crab legs, and see a lot of family members and friends and meet some babies that were born in June!  It was a busy but great trip, as most of our visits home are 🙂

So we’re back in DC and into the second half of our whole30.   Here’s a look at what we had this week, as well as links to recipes:

Breakfasts: mostly eggs, and some more of that homemade turkey sausage I shared from last week.  When we’re running late we have lara bars to grab n go and I’ve been hard-boiling some eggs in advance to have those ready to go too.

Lunches – mostly leftovers.

Snacks – bananas, almonds, pistacchios, Trader Joe’s ‘Just Mango’, lara bars (they have a list of approved ones here), apples with almond butter, and remnants of the beef jerky Matt made a couple weeks ago and  we had a few of these delicious energy bars left from the batch Matt made last week so that continued to be a treat 🙂

Dinners – Last Sunday we were at a BBQ with Matt’s family and brough out own homemade spiedie sauce (bc all the bottled ones have sugar and/or MSG…which is no bueno on the whole30).  I’ve actually had the marinade recipe for a long time and have meaned to try it out but never had any marjoram, but thanks to our Penzey’s trip a couple weeks ago we have some and will probably go homemade from now on. It was delicious! For those of you not from upstate NY – spiedies are bite sized chunks of chicken, marinated a specific way, and then grilled, usually on skewers.  They’re also meant to be eaten kind of as a sandwhich on thin sliced italian bread, but obivously we can’t do that on the whole30.  Either way, it’s amazing.

On Monday we were travelling all day so when we got home we just made a quick hash for dinner (red peppers, onions, sweet potatoes, home made turkey sausage, and topped with a fried egg).

Tuesday we had a taco bar for our small group (we did provide the group with cheese and tortillas…and then made them take the leftover cheese with them, because we don’t trust ourselves).  In order to be compliant we made our own taco seasoning (if you use that recipe and don’t like spicy, cut down on the cayenne.  Even Matt admitted it was quite spicy).

Wednesday we had salmon and asparagus, because we stopped by Whole Foods on Monday (I know, twice in a month…who are we?) and the wild sockeye salmon was still on sale for $8.99/lb!

Thursday we had zoodles with Moroccan meat sauce.  We did not make the meatball ingredients into balls, it was a weeknight and who has time for that?!  But feel free to do that.  Or short cut it like us and it’s still just as delicious!

This weekend modified (olive oil instead of veggie oil) this tandoori chicken recipe, and made it with breasts instead of thighs.

We also just made sausages (we went to whole foods, a third time (!) for these compliant ones) and peppers and onions for a quick and delicious dinner this weekend.

Today we modified this chicken with lemon sauce recipe to be compliant.  We picked it up when we were at Penzey’s a couple weeks ago as it goes with one of their spice blends (which is an optional ingredient if you don’t have it, we used it to season the chicken).  This was seriously delicious, will definitely make it again.

Day 21 is in the books and now it’s on to our last full week of this!  We’re mostly having a “favorites week” of our fave recipes from the whole30, looking forward to it!

IMG_6434Sausages with peppers and onions

IMG_6413Baked salmon and asparagus

IMG_6409Turkey sausage and sweet potato hash

IMG_6415Zoodles with Morroccan meat sauce

IMG_6425Saturday breakfast

IMG_6426Tandoori chicken with pineapple relish

IMG_6348Homemade spiedie sauce

IMG_6451Chicken w/ lemon sauce and green beans

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Fettuccine with Sausage & Kale

Happy Wednesday!

Life update – I started the new position at work this week.  Right now I’m doing more training and learning and it’s really great.  I also travelled to New York (near Westchester) today for a presentation about Investing.  Every day this week I’ve had a ‘pinch me, this is now my job!’ moment.  It’s great.  There are some obstacles to overcome, like the fact that the new office is very different from the old one and I can’t even figure out how to print stuff right now.  But the fact that I can walk outside of this office and be in downtown DC, and walk home from work outweigh that.  I did walk home from work on Monday.  It’s like 3.5 miles, but I’m in a step challenge and needed the steps.  It gets dark really early these days…

This new recipe is another quick and easy one.  Since I flew to and from New York today I needed something quick to make when I got home.  It’s pretty good, and since it’s quick and doesn’t require a ton of ingredients, we’ll be adding it to our rotation for sure.

Fettuccine with Sausage & Kale

Serves: 6+

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fettuccine
  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausage*, removed from casing
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 large bunch kale, trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus extra for topping

Directions:

  1. In large pot of boiling, salted water, cook pasta until al dente; drain.
  2. In large skillet, cook sausage over medium-low until browned, about 7 minutes. Drain fat if desired.
  3. Add 1/2 cup water and cream; simmer until reduced by half, about 7 minutes. Add 1-2 Tbsp olive oil if you drained the sausage fat.  If you didn’t drain the fat, no olive oil should be needed. Add cheese and mix until melted.  If it doesn’t seem very sauce-like add a little more oil and parmesan.
  4. Add kale; toss until wilted.
  5. Remove from heat; toss with pasta.
  6. Sprinkle with parmesan and enjoy.

*Make sure you use spicy Italian Sausage, even if you don’t think you like spicy things.  It give the dish a majority of its flavor.  Also, it’s not that spicy once the dish all comes together, and my tolerance for spice is very low!

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Quick Souvlaki Sandwiches

Since I’m a little behind on the recipe posting, we’re doing two in a row this week! (with two more to follow for recipes we’re making this week…)

Another 5 Ingredient meal from everyday with Rachel Ray, plus a few ingredients that we added.  Matt made these last week when I was running late getting home (and the pic below is the text message I received letting me I know I better hurry up before I missed out).  Another quick, delicious, and inexpensive meal, in other words, a keeper!

Quick Souvlaki Sandwiches

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, pounded 1/2-inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, halved and sliced
  • 4 pita breads, warmed
  • 8 ounces store-bought tzatziki
  • Optional: Cucumbers, lettuce and peppers for additional veggies, Middle Eastern seasoning mix for seasoning

Directions:

  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper and/or Middle Eastern seasoning, heat oil over medium-high.
  2. Add chicken; cook, turning once, until cooked through, 8 minutes. Transfer to cutting board and let rest.
  3. Increase heat to high. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until charred, 2 minutes.
  4. Slice chicken. Top pitas with tzatziki, chicken and onions (and other veggies). Fold over and enjoy!IMG_2632

5 Ingredient Squash & Sausage Pasta

I swear our lives will slow down eventually…in just under two months.  This past weekend we were in St. Louis, MO and Springfield, IL for my friend Allison’s wedding.  It was a blast!  We flew into St. Louis early on Friday morning and spent the day exploring there.  Caught lunch with one of my coworkers who is in the St. Louis office, and hung out with our friend Brian for the rest of the day.  After dinner we had just a little 1.5 hr drive up to Springfield.  That went super fast compared to the 8-12 hours road trips we started the month with.  I’ve only been to Springfield once before and boy did I forget how much that town loves Lincoln…

Saturday was an absolute blast, such a nice ceremony and fun reception.  My friends Rachel and Kara made the trip down from Milwaukee, completing the fun.

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Due to the crazy business of our lives, actually caring about our budgets (thanks, Dave Ramsey…) and a free Everyday with Rachel Ray Subscription that I scored with my most recent Fabletics order, we’re moving to easier (yet still delicious) recipes.  One of the recent issues had a whole slew of really delicious looking 5 ingredient recipes, so we’ll be testing those bad boys out over the next weeks/months.  Quick, easy, and cheap, that’s my kind of meal!  Here’s the first of many –

Squash & Sausage Pasta (recipe from here)

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed*
  • 1/2 pound summer squash, quartered lengthwise then sliced
  • 5 ounces goat cheese
  • 12 ounces farfalle pasta
  • 3 tablespoons torn mint leaves
  • Optional: herbs and red pepper flakes for seasoning

Directions:

  1. Cook Pasta, being sure to save ¾ cup of the pasta water
  2. In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium-high heat, until browned and crumbled (about 7 minutes)
  3. Transfer Sausage to a plate
  4. Add squash to the same skillet and cook on medium-high, stirring often (about 4 minutes). Season with salt, pepper, and other desired herbs.
  5. In the pot used to cook the pasta, stir in the pasta with the cheese and the reserved pasta water. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Top pasta with sausage, squash, and mint leaves. Enjoy!

*We used Trader Joe’s sweet italian chicken sausages for our version.  It was still pretty delicious but we decided that we’d go with regular sausage next time – more flavor.

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Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Happy Tuesday, friends!  Hope everyone’s week is swell.  We just had a solid evening with our new small group – “new” meaning the old one split into two due to size and due to schedules the Tuesday one works best for us, so there are some of the same people, but we’ve added a bunch of people so it’s basically new.  We’ve been discussing the current sermon series at church, Money Matters.  It’s just been really encouraging and motivating to go through these with our group.  I’m really excited to see where God takes us out of this series. And if you need a podcast to listen to I HIGHLY recommend listening to these.  The ones on 6/7 and 6/14 from Aaron and the one on 6/21 from Matthew.

We tried out this new ice crem recipe this weekend and it’s 100% a keeper.  If you don’t have an ice cream maker and you love ice cream as much as I do, I’d recommend the investment.  We don’t have anything super fancy, it’s this one.  Pretty sure we got a rebate gift card for buying that during Sur la Table’s ice cream event last year.  Basically if it’s above your price range it’ll probably go on sale or have some sort of deal attached to it in the future.

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Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream (Recipe from here)

Makes: About 1 Quart

Ingredients:

For the cookie dough:

  • 5 tbsp. salted butter, melted (or unsalted butter plus ¼ tsp. salt)
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ – ½ cup flour
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips (I used mini chips)

For the ice cream:

  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (semisweet or bittersweet)

Directions:

  1. To make the cookie dough, stir together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until smooth. Mix in the flour, then the vanilla and chocolate chips.  Add extra four if needed to get desired consistency.  Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm.
  1. To make the ice cream, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Continue heating, stirring often, until the butter is a deep golden brown color, being careful not to burn it.
  1. Whisk in the heavy cream and heat until simmering.
  1. Meanwhile in a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and the egg yolks until pale and fluffy.
  1. Once the cream mixture is warm, add a small amount to the bowl with the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Slowly whisk in the rest of the cream.  Mix in the salt.
  1. Return the egg-cream mixture to the saucepan and heat until just slightly thickened, and the temperature reads 170-175˚ F on an instant-read thermometer.
  1. Immediately remove the mixture from the heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Stir in the vanilla extract and the whole milk.  Cover and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.
  1. Once the mixture is chilled, freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  1. Chop the disk of cookie dough into small chunks. As soon as the mixture is done churning, transfer to a bowl or airtight container and stir in the chocolate chips and the chunks of cookie dough.  Store in the freezer until firm.

Week 49 – Enchilada Sauce and Chicken Enchiladas

Happy Sunday everyone!  It’s our first anniversary and we’re loving life and having a relaxing day together.  I’ve decided a few things since we’ve made it about a year on here (I know it’s only week 49, not 52…we got started a little late due to honeymoon and vacations):

  1. I’m going to stop keeping the posts numbered by week
  2. I will no longer post recipes that we don’t like/won’t make again.  At least not the actual recipes.  I may post a pic and give you all a link, since some peoples’ taste buds are difference, but since we’re out of the one new recipe a week year I’m no longer posting sub-par recipes to get “credit” for trying a new recipe that week.
  3. I’m going to post as we make things (hopefully).  So no more posts with multiple recipes anymore (unless they go together, like this week).

First things, first.  Our anniversary was wonderful!  I got Matt a cookbook that I made with all the recipes from the year in it.  I’d been saving them all on my computer, and then in May when I went to looking into how to pull this together I stumbled across blurb.  They have premade templates and stuff so I just had to get all the recipes into the program, and formatted, then I threw in some pictures and finalized it.  Sounds a lot less time consuming than it was… but the result is super worth it!  The book is really great quality stuff, and having our own pictures in it is amazing.  Next time you’re at our place ask me to see this and you’ll be my favorite person.  There is also an option to order your own copy on blurb (crazy) but this thing wasn’t cheap, includes pictures of the two of us, and one of the first pages includes a sappy note from me to Matt so that’s not a real option for our book…but if you make your own it sure is!

IMG_5029IMG_5030IMG_5031For Matt’s gift to me he planned a whole (relaxing) day for just the two of us.  Just what we needed in the midst of me studying like a mad woman.  We actually started the celebrations when class got out yesterday (I had CFP review class Wed-Sat from 8AM -6PM, a great use of 3 vacation days…).  I gave Matt his cookbook a night early (because it’s easy to keep a secret when I’m distracting in CFP review class all day, but once it ended, at 4:45 Saturday, there was no hope for me).  Then Matt started making fancy drinks from his anniversary drinks menu (the cucumber press is new for him and amazing and pictured below) and we ate a delicious dinner (the enchiladas) and watched some TV to close out the night.  The weather is making a lot of his options today on the afternoon itinerary look not appealing, so we’re hanging out inside.  We’ll finish off the night with dinner at le Diplomate (we had to get this reservation like 3 weeks ago…craziness!) and then it’s back to real life tomorrow 😦

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The Cucumber Press.  With freshly made cucumber juice and whatever other stuff this recipe told him to do.IMG_5037Lunchtime picnic on the balcony.  I love how much trouble he went to to make this look perfectly adorable for me 🙂

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Matt made us fancy itineraries and menus for the day

So this recipe is quite delicious.  In Matt’s anniversary cookbook I explained that the bad recipes that we didn’t like were in it, but at the end of the book and not in the table of contents.  They’re in the book getting credit for being made, but that’s about it.  So when he had his first bite of recipe he exclaimed that we need to put it in the front of the book (which is impossible, because it’s a hard bound book), because he loved it so much.  He also asked when we’re making it again.  So there’s that.  Enchiladas aren’t something I’d ever order when out to eat (hello, fajitas!) but I’m pretty excited to make these again soon.  I recommend making this homemade enchilada sauce if you have the time, it was pretty amazing.  We would have made a double or triple batch and frozen it (as suggested) but we ran out of chili powder.

Red Enchilada Sauce (recipe from here)

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose or gluten-free flour
  • 2-4 Tbsp. chili powder (*not cayenne!)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and stir together over the heat for one minute.
  1. Stir in the remaining seasonings (chili powder through oregano). Then gradually add in the stock, whisking constantly to remove lumps. Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes until thick.
  1. Use immediately or refrigerate in an air-tight container for up to two weeks.

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Chicken Enchiladas (Recipe from here)

Makes: 4+ servings*

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small white onion, peeled and diced
  • 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced into small 1/2-inch pieces (*or see substitution below for using pre-cooked shredded chicken)*
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles*
  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans or lentils, rinsed and drained*
  • 8 large flour tortillas*
  • 3 cups Mexican-blend shredded cheese*
  • 1 batch red enchilada sauce, or 1 can store-bought enchilada sauce
  • optional: 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

*We made a smaller batch in a smaller than 9×13 pyrex pan so we used 2 chicken breasts, less beans, 8 small/medium sized corn tortillas, less cheese, and about 1/2 cup Trader Joe’s green Hatch Valley Salsa instead of green chiles.  This made enough fr the two of us, plus 2 servings of leftovers (2 enchiladas per serving).

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare your enchilada sauce, if making homemade.
  1. In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add diced chicken (if uncooked)* and green chiles, and season with salt and pepper.  Saute for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  1. To assemble the enchiladas, set up an assembly line including: tortillas, enchilada sauce, beans, chicken mixture, and cheese. Lay out a tortilla, and spread two tablespoons of sauce over the surface of the tortilla. Add beans in a line down the middle of the tortilla, then add in a spoonful of the chicken mixture, then sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese. Roll up tortilla and place in a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.  Then spread the remaining enchilada sauce on top of the tortillas, and sprinkle on the remaining shredded cheese.
  1. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately, garnished with chopped fresh cilantro if desired.

*If you are using pre-cooked chicken, just leave it out of the saute and cook the onion and green chiles for 1 additional minute (instead of 6-8). Once you remove the onion and green chiles from the heat, stir in the chicken (which should be shredded or chopped into bite-sized pieces).

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Week 48 – Summer Salad

Time continues to fly by which brings me to you with late posts…again.  Woops!  Also, at first I thought I lost count of the weeks (and that my CPA license should therefore be revoked, because what accountant can’t count?), but even though the post for this coming week will be week 49, yet our anniversary is Sunday, I realized this didn’t start til Mid-July last year.  Phew.  And btw, get excited for the next post, because I get to share with you my anniversary gift for Matt and I’m so stinking excited!! It has been a hard thing to keep secret…just 3 more days!

This weekend was great – we drove up to NY for a friend’s wedding and stopped near Binghamton to hang out at my aunt’s house with some of my dearest cousins and their little ones, and my parents and Amanda came down too!  It was great to spend some time with family.  Then we drove over to Delhi, NY to the house Matt’s friends rented for the weekend.  What did people do before airbnb?  It’s so great that we can go anywhere (hello…Delhi, NY) and rent a house that sleeps 10 people so we can all hang out all weekend.  Anyway, the wedding was adorable and the whole weekend was a lot of fun, a much needed break from my straight days of studying.

I recently purchased Shauna Niequist’s new book – a 365 Day devotional.  Not only is it great because I just love everything she writes, but it has recipes sprinkled throughout!  So we tried one of them this week and, just like her other recipes, it did not disappoint.

Summer Salad:

Servings: 6 (as a side)

Ingredients*:

  • 3 Ears of Corn, cut from the ears, raw
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 2 peppers (red, yellow, or orange)
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 bunch fresh dill
  • 1/2 bunch fresh basil (we used parsley…accidentally, but it was still good!)
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

* The original recipe was double of all these amounts, but since we’re only two people we cut it in half

Directions:

Combine all ingredients and adjust the herbs, salt, and pepper to taste.  Let sit for several hours before serving, it gets better the longer it sits.  Keeps for at least 3 days.

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