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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Whole Life Challenge: The Beginning

Dear blog friends, as you may or may not know, I decided to participate in the Whole Life Challenge which started September 19th. Click on the link to learn more about this whole challenge thing!

My dear friend created a team and we have a great group of ladies striving to make some improvements in each of our lives while supporting each other. I have really enjoyed the challenge so far while also reconnecting with great friends! There are different levels for you to choose from; I am doing the KickStarter. My idea is to reflect on how things are going so potential newbies might know what to expect.

I plan to do a few blog posts titled "The Beginning," "The Middle" and the "The Final Results." So stay tuned!!

The posts will be about how I'm feeling, what I'm craving and the aspects that are most challenging (and anything else I decide to throw in the mix).

I myself am a newbie to the challenge, so here is my experience thus far!

First up: Feeling

This picture mostly sums up how I felt the first week. For Day 1 I was at a football tailgate and game so I just basically threw everything out the window. When I did finally start...I will say days 2-3 did feel like a food hangover. I think my body was detoxing from carbs, bread, complex sugars, etc. and I did not feel that great. Particularly in the mornings I did not feel good. Most likely due to the fact that I am used to a Fresca or Diet Coke every morning. Otherwise I enjoyed getting back to exercising regularly and stretching is something you think might not make a difference, but it does. It feels really good.


Craving: crackers, chips, cheese, sodas, sandwiches, fast food (not often and mostly Chik-fil-A)

I REALLY love salty snacks, so giving those up is HARD for me. Also, I enjoy my carbonated beverages. I know they are bad for you, so in the end this is a healthy move and I can do it! As for the chips...I could really go for some Miss Vickie's Salt and Vinegar RIGHT NOW!

Not to worry! We are allowed to have popcorn, so I've been eating Skinny Pop popcorn (you can find at the grocery store) as a snack alternative. I really like it.
 Image result for skinny pop


Well, I've already talked about the food, so I'll leave that alone. Other challenges for me so far include drinking the amount of water to get the hydration point. I don't know why this is a struggle, but I feel like I have to force myself to guzzle water. I hope that gets better as we move along.

Second main challenge for me is the exercise. I tend to be a wee bit lazy when it comes to this, so I really need motivation and some variety. I guess it's time to explore some classes or online workouts etc.

That's it for now! Like I said, I'm really enjoying it so far (oh yeah, and I'm down a few pounds so that doesn't hurt either)! Check it out and maybe you'll want to join the next challenge!

Now where did I leave my daily one glass of wine?

big bang theory animated GIF

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Gwen's Tailgate Chili

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Football season!!! Our household gets EXTREMELY excited about this time of year. And I love to make some yummy tailgate/football goodies! Enjoy.

Gwen's Tailgate Chili

1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 cans chili beans
2 cans Rotel
1 can low sodium beef broth*
2-3 tbls. chili powder
dash pepper
2 tbls. low sodium soy sauce
2 tbls. worcestershire sauce
diced green onions (topping, optional)
shredded cheeses (topping, optional)
sour cream (topping, optional)

*You will want to eyeball the beef broth depending on how "soupy" you like your chili. I used about half of the can.

Brown the ground beef and drain off excess fat. In a large dutch oven combine all the ingredients (except for the toppings). Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer and cover for about 30 minutes. Check and stir the chili intermittently so it doesn't burn on the bottom. Adjust any seasonings if you need to and serve up with your favorite chili toppings! This is so great and I bet you'll enjoy the leftovers too! Go. Team. Go.

Notes: The way I make it is a little on the spicy side, so always check your spices. You can also add some homemade cornbread on top! NOM NOM

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Cheesy Black Bean Chicken Enchiladas

I've made this recipe a few times and it always goes over great! If you want a tasty Mexi dish, try this one!!

Cheesy Black Bean Chicken Enchiladas

1/2 jar salsa
~1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" chunks
1 can no salt added black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
1 4 oz. can green chiles
2 garlic cloves, minced
5-6 flour tortillas
shredded cheese
dash olive oil

Drizzle a little olive oil in a large skillet and brown the chicken chunks. Add the onion and jalapeno and sweat for about 5 minutes. Add in the salsa, black beans, green chiles and garlic. Let this combine for about 10 minutes over medium heat. Take a few heaping spoonfuls and place in the middle of a flour tortilla and roll it up and place seam side down in a sprayed casserole dish. Repeat until there is no filling remaining. Top the enchiladas with shredded cheese. Bake in the oven at 400 for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and everything is nice and warm. Serve immediately with your favorite Mexi toppings. Enjoy!

Favorite garnishes:
jarred (or fresh) jalapenos
sour cream

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Easy Rice

A really easy side dish that I served with the roasted chicken from the last post. Most of the ingredients we keep on hand, so I can whip this up without a fuss.

Easy Rice

1 cup uncooked long grain rice
1 3/4 cup unsalted chicken broth
1 can Rotel, undrained (Hot version, if you like the heat)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbls. vegetable oil
1 tsp. oregano
3/4 onion, diced
cilantro or parsley for a garnish
*optional: pinch of turmeric

In a large pot over medium heat, add the oil and let in heat up. Add the diced onions, uncooked rice and garlic. Stir constantly for about 5-7 minutes or until the onions are softened and the rice is very lightly browned. Add the remaining ingredients (besides the garnish), bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer for about the 20-25 minutes. Check/stir a few times to make sure it's not sticking to the bottom. Add turmeric close to the end of cooking time. Fluff the rice before serving and add garnish.

Notes: Makes plenty and reheats well. Super easy side dish and went great with the roasted chicken! Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ina's Roasted Chicken

This is a Barefoot Contessa recipe I found online. Some of y'all might not be huge fans of Ina Garten, but most of her food is pretty darn delicious, even if you don't care for her personality. With that being said, I desperately needed a recipe to cook a whole chicken and this roasted chicken turned out great! Enjoy! (For the ultimate experience, you should probably make this recipe in a button down shirt, after you gather the herbs/vegetables from your East Hampton garden and have a meaningless chat with Jeffrey. Then, and only then, could you explain the importance of a "really good" olive oil.)

Ina's Roasted Chicken

1 whole chicken, gibblets removed
1 head of garlic, cut horizontally
1 lemon, halved
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tbls. unsalted butter, melted
baby carrots
1 onion, rough chop
1 bulb of fennel, rough chop
large bundle of fresh thyme
olive oil

In a dutch oven or a roasting pan, layer in the vegetables, drizzle with olive oil and liberally salt and pepper. On top, arrange approximately 20 sprigs of fresh thyme.

Rinse the bird and stuff with the garlic and lemon halves. Pat it dry and season outside with salt and pepper. Use kitchen twine to tie the legs together if necessary (I didn't do this step and it was fine.) Place the chicken on top of the vegetables in the cookware breast side up. Drizzle the butter on top of the chicken. Use any leftover thyme to dress the inside or top of the chicken and more salt and pepper if needed.

Roast in the oven (uncovered) at 425 F for 90-110 minutes. Check the meat to be sure it is cooked all the way through. When it is done, juices will run clear. (You can see in the photo where I cut the leg.)

Notes: Although this takes a good while to cook in the oven, you really don't have to do anything to it while it's cooking. You could watch TV, take a shower, nap, whatever. It's low maintenance once it's cooking. It will also smell amazing in your kitchen. The chicken turned out beautifully and the vegetables were nice and tender. You could easily add or substitute more vegetables or even potatoes.

This was my first time roasting a whole chicken and I give it an A!! Try it! (Maybe I should just go ahead and buy a long button down shirt...)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

One Pot Wonder Spicy Sausage Pasta

Yes, yes I gave into all the hype about these one pot wonder meals. Let me be the first to say, I was not disappointed. This was easy and quite (surprisingly) delicious. So grab your favorite pot or large pan and give this a try!

One Pot Wonder- Spicy Sausage Pasta

16 oz. favorite spicy sausage, sliced (our fav. is Conecuh sausage)
8 oz. favorite pasta (used penne)
1 can no-salt diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

This is so easy, it will blow your mind. Ha!

Brown the sausage and sweat the onions in your pot over medium heat until onions are softened. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute. Then add the remaining ingredients into the pot. Simmer and stir until the pasta is done and the sauce is thickened (about 20 minutes). That's it! So simple!

Garnish with a little green onion, if desired.

Notes: Great meal! We both enjoyed it and the leftovers! You could easily substitute a different protein if you're not into sausage. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mirror Art DIY

I saw an idea on Pinterest about this project and took myself down to the Hobby Lobby to search for some goodies with a friend. I was looking for something relatively inexpensive to spruce up some of our painfully bare walls. This mirror art project seemed to fit the ticket.

This project was simple and only slightly time-consuming, so that's a major plus in my book.

What you will need (and approximate cost breakdown):

small mirror ($4.99)
lots of wood skewers ($1.99/100 to a pack)
hot glue + gun (already owned)
spray paint (~$4)
picture hanger (~$3 for a small package)
Gorilla glue (previously purchased)

Total cost ended up being somewhere between $16 and $20

Here are a few photos during the project:

starting to hot glue the skewers to the back of the mirror

finished with attaching the skewers

spray painting outside

What do y'all think?

I'm sure there will be more DIY home projects to come! If you have any good ideas or links to fun wall art/decor, please feel free to share!!