Friday, June 9, 2017

Basil Walnut Pesto

Having a summer garden has always been a favorite of mine! I remember the first time I saw my grandmother cook purple pole beans and when she put them in the boiling water they turned bright green!  After that I believed that everything that came out of the garden was magic!
Every year I plant cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and a copious amount of herbs!  Basil is always one of my favorites as I truly believe the smell of summer comes from this delicious herb.  Here is a little different spin on an old favorite!

Basil Walnut Pesto
original recipe from Once Upon a Chef 

2 cups gently packed fresh basil leaves
2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/3 cup walnuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, best quality such as Lucini or Colavita

Place the walnuts and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until coarsely chopped, about 10 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper and process until mixture resembles a paste, about 1 minute. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly blended. Add the Parmesan and process a minute more. Use pesto immediately or store in a tightly sealed jar or air-tight plastic container, covered with a thin layer of olive oil (this seals out the air and prevents the pesto from oxidizing, which would turn it an ugly brown color). It will keep in the refrigerator for about a week. (If you're planning on freezing it, omit the cheese and stir it in once you defrost it.
Pin It!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Peach Bruschetta with goat cheese, basil and infused honey

Every year I eagerly await the peaches brought to town from The Peach Truck.  As soon as I see their signs around town I scour Pinterest for peach recipes....There are so many ways to enjoy these tasty treats...grilled and served with vanilla ice cream, sliced in a salad with red onions and mint, canned for jams and jellies, or, like I tried this weekend, as bruschetta!

I totally forgot the honey part because I was so excited about the goat cheese and peaches so just know, if you don't have time or don't like honey, this is just as delicious without it as I am sure it is with it!

Peach Bruschetta with goat cheese, basil and infused honey 
as adapted from Feasting at Home Blog Recipe  

1 baguette, sliced at a diagonal into ½ inch thick slices 
Olive oil for brushing bruschetta 
4 oz herbed goat cheese (I used garlic and dill but that is just because it was in the fridge already)
4 oz cream cheese 
¼ teaspoon salt 
¼ teaspoon cracked pepper 
3 ripe peaches­ sliced into wedges 
10­-15 basil leaves  cut into ribbons 
honey (to infuse, see note) 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice baguette into ½ inch slices at a diagonal. Brush both sides with olive oil and place on a sheet pan in a 400 F oven for 15 minutes, or until crisp. Or alternately, grill on a bbq. Set aside. 

Place cream cheese and goat cheese in a bowl and either warm in a microwave until just barley soft enough to combine easily with a fork.  Mix with a fork until smooth. Set aside. 

Assemble: Spread a little goat cheese mixture on each bruschetta and top with a peach wedge. Garnish with a few basil ribbons, then drizzle with honey, and sprinkle with cracked pepper. 

Note: To infuse honey, place a cup or so of honey in a small pot on the stove, add a few sprigs of rosemary ( or thyme, sage, or lavender) and warm on medium heat. Once it comes to a gentle simmer, add a couple teaspoons of water, gently stir, turn heat off and let the herbs marinate in the honey, at room temp for a few hours, or overnight. Place in a squeezy bottle. Once cooled, if honey seems to thick, rewarm and stir in little more water.
Pin It!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Creamy Garlic Butter Tuscan Shrimp

This time of year I will take any opportunity to eat out on the porch before the summer nights make it too warm and then bugs make it too uninviting.  I recently had some friends over for dinner and we made this quick and easy dish.  We paired it with a side of french bread for dipping and a few bottles of the white wine for sipping!


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pint cherry tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 pound (500 g) shrimp (or prawns) ­­ tails on or off
1 yellow onion, diced
½ cup white wine
1¾ cups milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 cups baby spinach leaves
⅔ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoons of water (optional)
2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Slice cherry tomatoes in half lengthwise.  Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.  Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes.  Set aside.  

Heat a large skillet over medium­ high heat. Melt the butter and add in the garlic and fry until fragrant (about one minute). Add in the shrimp and fry two minutes on each side, until just cooked through and pink. Transfer to a bowl; set aside.

Fry the onion in the butter remaining in the skillet. Pour in the white wine, and allow to reduce slightly. Add the tomatoes and fry for 1­2 minutes to release their flavors. 

Reduce heat to low­-medium heat, add the milk and bring to a gentle simmer, while stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.

Add in the tomatoes and spinach leaves and allow to wilt in the sauce, and add in the parmesan cheese. Allow sauce to simmer for a further minute until cheese melts through the sauce. (For a thicker sauce, add the milk/cornstarch mixture to the centre of the pan, and continue to simmer while quickly stirring the mixture through until the sauce thickens.)

Add the shrimp back into the pan; sprinkle with the herbs and parsley, and stir through.

Serve over pasta, rice or steamed vegetables.

Pin It!

Monday, February 20, 2017

One Skillet Chicken with Garlicky Mushroom Cream Sauce

The post #Whole30 world has been so interesting!  I look at everything with a critical eye determining how I can make a recipe Whole30 compliant...what can I substitute? Do any of the ingredients contain sugar?  How did I get brainwashed so quickly?

It is a constant monologue that goes through my mind daily!

With that in mind I was hosting Sunday Dinner this week and was THRILLED when I found a recipe everyone wanted to try, made a few substitutions and VOILA! we had a fantastic meal!  Everyone was raving about it and couldn't believe we had snuck another Whole30 compliant meal by them!

One Skillet Chicken with Garlicky Mushroom Cream Sauce

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
salt and pepper
3 cup chicken broth
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon dried thyme
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 cup finely diced red onions
1/4 cup ghee
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 can coconut milk
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (or basil)

Using a mallet, pound down the chicken breasts/thighs into ½ inch thickness. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper on both sides of the chicken.

In a small bowl, combine the chicken broth, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and dried thyme.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in an oven-safe skillet over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and allow to brown for 3-4 minutes stirring as required to brown both sides. Remove the mushrooms to a plate (use one large enough to remove chicken as well).

Heat the remaining oil on medium high heat. Add the chicken and allow to brown on both sides for 2-3 minutes per side. Don’t worry if the chicken isn’t cooked completely, we’ll finish it in the oven. Remove the chicken to plate.

Reduce the flame to medium, add the shallots to the skillet along with the chicken broth mixture. Using a whisk, scrape the bottom of the pan so all the brown bits are loosened. Let sauce reduce for about 8-10 minutes.

When the sauce has thickened, remove from the flame, add the ghee and whisk until it melts completely. With the skillet off the flame add the sherry, coconut milk and mushrooms, and whisk to combine. Place the skillet back over the flame for just 30 seconds, do not allow the sauce to boil. Remove from heat, add the chicken back into the pan and drizzle the sauce over the chicken. Place the skillet in the oven for 10 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked through. Top with chopped parsley or basil and serve warm.
Pin It!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Culinary Experience for the Ages

If your family is anything like ours, when someone's birthday rolls around it is a sheer test of creativity to find something fun and different that the celebrated individual has 1) mentioned they want and more importantly 2) not already purchased it for themselves.

In the age of Amazon Now and 24 hour delivery, our family has found that the gift of an experience is so much more fun than another year of the gift card and sweater vest!

When my dads birthday rolled around the day before Thanksgiving this year we were all in a quandary trying to figure out what he might need when the idea came to my brother that an experiential gift would be something my father would enjoy so much more than anything we could purchase at a store.

This is where our dear friend, and culinary mastermind, Chris Cunningham comes into the picture!  He and his wife Sam have been friends of ours for years and we have loved picking Chris' brain over the years about a better way to cook paella, or what his favorite seasonal veggies he is using in his kitchen, or basically anything that pertains to cooking....typically over a beer while sitting around the pool.

Sam mentioned to us a while back that Chris has been doing private parties in people's homes where he will come and cook a three-course meal in the comfort of ones own home.  This was exactly the type of experience we were looking for for dad's birthday and it couldn't have been more perfect!
On an unseasonably warm day in February, Chris went to work on a meal consisting of seared scallops on top of a quinoa bellini with crushed pistachios, pickled raisins, avocado sauce all topped with the most decadent caviar (a first for many in my family...or at least for me!)
followed by beef tenderloin with sautéed brocollini, root au gratin consisting of celery root, sweet potatoes and turnips, all topped with a porcini truffle hollandaise and crispy fried onions. Are you drooling yet?  Because I am!
To complete this delicious meal, we were served a decadent chocolate tart with fresh berries and homemade whipped cream.  Absolutely amazing!
Entertainment and puppies to top out the night!
Pin It!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

#Whole30 Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

What I have found in week 2 of the #Whole30....It gets easier every day! I have found more and more recipes that are just as delicious Whole30 compliant as they were before when I cooked them with all kinds of "interesting" ingredients.

Of course I still look at a loaf of bread like it is my first born and dream of pasta dancing through my mind but of course that is normal...right...right, guys???

Well even is a recipe that I have loved and excited to find ways to make sure I don't break the rules...I am a rule follower after all!

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 bunch green onions thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 stalks lemongrass, chopped
1 jalapeno seeded and finely chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 (15 oz.) can mushrooms, drained and rinsed
1 (13.5 oz.) can coconut milk
2 teaspoons Red Boat fish sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
slipped fresh cilantro
lime wedges

Melt the coconut oil over medium-low heat. 
 Add green onions, garlic, ginger, lemongrass and jalapenos. 
Cook, stirring constantly so as not to burn the garlic or ginger, for 2 minutes. Raise the heat to medium stir in the broth, mushrooms, coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice, and salt. 
Add the chicken and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is no longer pink and the internal temperature registers 165 degrees, about 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the soup and let it rest for 2 minutes. 
 Use two forks to shred the chicken into chunks, then return the chicken to the soup. 
Serve the soup with lime wedges and cilantro.
Pin It!

#Whole30 Spaghetti and Zoodles

One of my greatest hesitations when I started #Whole30 was the lack of comfort food I would be able to have.  I kind of figured everything I liked to eat was strictly off limits.  Thankfully that was one of the many misconceptions I had about the reality that is the #Whole30.

For Sunday dinner this week we had a mix of #Whole30 doers and some who had the luxury of eating pasta so we decided to do something my nephew loves and since it was his birthday, it was a MUST.

With images of Lady and the Tramp kissing by way of a very long spaghetti noodle I give you one of my favorite meals we have had so far (of course our noodles were substituted with zoodles but I still thoroughly enjoyed it)!

Marinara Sauce

1 Can (28 oz.) Crushed Tomatoes (For a chunkier sauce, use Diced Tomatoes- or fresh if in season!)
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (can substitute with Coconut or Avocado Oil)
1 Medium Onion, diced
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 tsp. Salt, coarse
1/2 tsp. Ground Pepper
1 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley, chopped (or 1/2 tsp. dried Parsley)
1 Tbsp. Fresh Oregano, chopped (or 1/2 tsp. dried Oregano)
1 Tbsp. Fresh Basil, chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon dried Basil)
1 Bay Leaf (optional if you want a milder taste)

Meat Marinara Sauce* To make this sauce into a meat marinara sauce, you'll also need the following:1- 8oz. can Crushed Tomatoes (set aside for the end)
1/2 medium Onion, chopped
1/2 lb. lean Grass-fed Beef
1/2 lb. lean Turkey Sausage
2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
2 tsp. dried Basil
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper
*optional: 1/8 cup dry red wine

In a large skillet, heat the oil (olive, coconut or avocado) over medium heat. Add the onion and saute appx. 5 minutes, stirring very frequently, until onion is soft and translucent.  Add the salt, pepper, and mined garlic and saute for another 3-5 minutes. The onions should be carmelized and sweetened at this point.  Then add the can of tomatoes, parsley, oregano, basil and bay leaf. Simmer, covered, on low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Once sauce has cooked, remove the bay leaf. Then stir in the sugar (skip this step for Whole30 compliance).  Taste the sauce and add more spices as needed. I usually throw in more fresh basil after the sauce has cooked. *(For a spicier sauce you can increase the black pepper, or for a real kick add red pepper flakes... but beware it only takes a few red pepper flakes to make it hot!!)
Cooking the MeatIn another large skillet, saute onion until translucent. Add the beef and turkey sausage.  Once meat is browned, add minced garlic cloves and cook a few more minutes.  Add the seasonings/spices and cook until meat is fully cooked.  Scrape meat mixture into the Marinara Sauce.
Deglaze meat pan by adding a little bit (~1/4 Cup) water to the pan, lifting up the juices and flavors cooked into the pan. Pour this mixture into the marinara sauce.  Add the 8oz. can of tomato sauce.
Taste it! Add more salt, pepper, seasoning if needed.
*optional: Add 1/8 cup. dark red wine for a richer taste.

If you like to prep meals ahead of time, this sauce is perfect to make and freeze!
Pin It!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

#Whole30 Homemade Ranch

Y'all...this is a game changer!

To say that I like ranch is like saying Romeo kinda thought Juliet was cute. It is a true love affair, am obsession of epic proportion. Don't believe me? When I go to a restaurant and order something with ranch I first ask the server if the ranch is Hidden Valley. If there answer is yes, then I ask "is it the kind already in the bottle or is it the dry pack you make yourself? " If I get a look of puzzlement I then ask for a sample. If they say it is in the bottle, I ask to see the other salad dressing on the menu. If they say it is the kind they make on their own I ask "do you use buttermilk or sour cream" get the point...I don't like disappointment ESPECIALLY when it comes to condiments!

Sooooooooo as my bestie Matt said in this #Whole30 process...I miss dipping things...I miss using a healthy carrot as a simple carrier to get more ranch in my mouth. I miss chicken wings doused in this delectable goodness! I needed it back in my life! 

Alas my friends, I have found the perfect, and #whole30 compliant, recipe for homemade ranch....I will go so far as to even say that I will make this as my ranch of choice even after the #Whole30 is over!

Homemade Ranch

1 cup homemade mayo (recipe follows)
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1-2 tsp dried chives
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp coconut milk or almond milk (more if you want it runnier)
The juice of one lemon
In a medium bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients.  Mix the dry ingredients with the mayo and add the vinegar, coconut milk and lemon juice.  Best if left in the fridge overnight to settle.  

#Whole30 Homemade Mayonnaise

1 large whole egg, preferably pasture raised
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp dijon mustard
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup light tasting olive oil

In a tall container, add the egg, lemon juice, mustard, salt, and lastly the olive oil.  

Put your immersion blender down to the bottom of the container before turning on. Then set it to high and blend for about 30 seconds before slowly lifting it to the surface of the mixture, and blend another 20 seconds or so or until completely creamy.
Pin It!

Weekend Prep for #Whole30 Week 2

What have I learned in the first almost complete week of #Whole30 (on day six so stop splitting hairs)?

1) Evidently a hefty glass of wine before bed does not help me get a great nights sleep!  Since starting the whole30 I have slept like the dead but what is even more interesting is that this previously early-to-bed-kinda-girl is not even tired until almost midnight....UNHEARD OF for me!  Best part?  I hardly wake up during the night and wake up ready to go in the morning.  I used to wake up around 1 or 3 every morning and many times wouldn't be able to go back to sleep leaving me a zombie the next day completely dependent on coffee to make it through.

2) My energy level is INSANE!  I recently went to a friends birthday party and came home around 8ish thinking I would relax on the couch working on a project.  Instead, I saw something in the kitchen I wanted to finish which turned into my entire spice cabinet being emptied out, scrubbed clean (because there was a massive balsamic vinegar debacle....I don't want to talk about it), all like spices combined and placed back in an organized manner.  Oh, and as it turns out 90% of the sauces (mainly barbecue sauces and marinades) had enormous amounts of sugar in them so they won a lovely trip to the trash!

2b) Said cleaning extravaganza worked its way into my tupperware and storage container cabinet where I realized every sock that was lost in the dryer recreated itself into a mismatched tupperware lid in my cabinet.  Those won the same prize as the sugar infested marinades!  This led me to the peculiar realization that I had an abnormally small number of mason jars which are my main modes of food storage.  This seemed odd because like any normal southern woman, I have more canning materials than I could ever use.  So naturally I put "mason jars" on my grocery list.  Then it hit me....I said to myself, "Ruthie, you have an ENTIRE stand up freezer in your garage that you have to push and pray will stay closed whenever adding something to it." So I shimmied my ass on down there and realized more than half of the food in there should have been thrown out months (ahem, years) ago which led to the great freezer clean out of 2017.

3) I now have plenty of storage containers for my food!

All of that to say, I prepared a couple of recipes for my meals this week and made it to the grocery store before everyone in Nashville realized it was actually snowing outside and they might never eat again unless they depleted the grocery store of everything from bread and milk, to food coloring and spam.  

I wanted to make meals that I could grab and go so that as my days always differ at work my meals could remain consistent and healthy.  Naturally I started with soup...super easy to pack with lots of yummy nutrients and just as simple to take on the run with me during the week.

I made this Turkey, Kale and Cauliflower soup and put half in the fridge for the week and the other half in the freezer for me to clean out in 3 years.

Note: Should you ever want to stretch a soup recipe, specifically one that has a bunch of vegetables included in the recipe, just add minced cauliflower....sweet JESUS I have never seen anything beside the waste line of my pants at Thanksgiving stretch so far in all my life!

Second, I saw a recipe for chicken salad that I wanted to try but then I thought to myself, "Self, you have a delicious chicken salad recipe....what in it isn't compliant with the #Whole30?" Then it dawned on me....nothing....not really?  I have long time been a Hellman's Mayo loving lady but when I looked at the recipe and realized that if I made my own mayo we would be back in business!

Great find of Week 2?  Homemade MAYO!!

Here is the recipe, and I might add, I like it better with homemade mayo as opposed to using store bought, Hellman's or no.
Chicken Salad
4 chicken breast, bone-in, skin on
Celery, divided
Onion, quartered
Carrots, coarsely chopped
1 lemon, sliced
bay leaves
salt to taste
garlic powder
Homemade Mayo*
juice of half of a lemon

In a large pot, cover chicken breasts in water.  Cut the leafy tops off the celery and add to the water.  Add onions, carrots, lemon, bay leaves, garlic powder, salt, and peppercorns.  I typically don't measure the amounts of the spices but if you feel you need amounts I would do 2 tablespoons of each spice and 2 bay leaves.  Bring everything to a rolling boil and cook that way for 30 to 40 minutes or until the chicken is done.  Remove the pot from the heat and allow the chicken to stand in the broth for at least another 30 minutes to prevent the chicken from drying out.  

Remove the chicken from the bone and shred or chop to the size which you prefer.  Some people like their chicken salad chunkier than others.  Add mayonnaise to desired consistency.  Add the juice of 1 lemon juice.  At this point you can add sliced grapes, walnuts, sliced granny smith apples, and/or celery.  I typically only add diced celery but that is a personal preference.
#Whole30 Homemade Mayonnaise
1 large whole egg, preferably pasture raised
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp dijon mustard
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup light tasting olive oil

In a tall container, add the egg, lemon juice, mustard, salt, and 
lastly the olive oil

Put your immersion blender down to the bottom of the container before turning on. Then set it to high and blend for about 30 seconds before slowly lifting it to the surface of the mixture, and blend another 20 seconds or so or until completely creamy.
Pin It!

Turkey, Kale and Cauliflower Soup

In preparation for my first FULL week on the Whole30 I have made my list of meals, gone to the store, and started getting ready for the week.  For the first time in its whole life, my fridge is stocked with more fruits, veggies and meats as opposed to beer, cheese and, well, more cheese!

Since my schedule is always up in the air, things I can take on the run with me and heat up are most effective and convenient so I thought I would start the week with a huge pot of soup so I could have that for lunch or dinner throughout the week.  I am also working on chicken salad, avocado egg salad, and lettuce wraps but we have to start somewhere so here 'tis!

Turkey, Kale and Cauliflower Soup
as adapted from Paleo Leap

1 lb. ground turkey
1 shallot, chopped
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, sliced
1 bell pepper, cut into pieces
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 (15 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
5 cups chicken stock
1 ½ cup cauliflower, minced (I did this in the food processor)
4 cups kale, ribs removed, leaves coarsely chopped
2 T. Italian Seasoning
2 tbsp. coconut oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan placed over a medium-high heat.
Add the shallots, garlic, celery, carrots, cauliflower, and bell pepper.

Cook until the vegetables are slightly soft (8 to 10 minutes), stirring frequently.
Add the turkey to the vegetables and cook until the meat is cooked through (6 to 8 minutes).

Add the chicken stock, diced and crushed tomatoes, italian seasoning and 
season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bring the soup to a boil. Stir in the kale, reduce the heat to low, and let it simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
Pin It!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Days 3 & 4 of #Whole30

Week 1 - Days 3 and 4

So to be completely honest, and I had massive amounts of hesitation and anxiety about how successful I would be at this, it hasn't been that bad!  I know I am only 4 days in so maybe check back in this time next week and I will be scratching at the walls for a block of cheese BUT today all is good!

So what have I learned in the first few days?  Prep is EVERYTHING!  Whether is is cooking a few chicken breasts to have in the fridge to throw on a salad or having the produce in the house to make a healthy all comes down to the prep work!

So here are two of my favorite recipes we have tried in the past two days:

Loaded "Nachos"

2 Idaho potatos
4 ripe avocados
1/2 cup Trader Joe's Salsa Verde
Ground Chicken
Cherry tomatoes, halved
half a bunch of cilantro, chopped

Brown the ground chicken in a heavy skillet.  Add 2 tablespoons of the taco seasoning (or to taste) and 2/3 cup of water.  Allow the chicken to simmer and cook down all of the liquids, thus absorbing all of the seasonings.

While the chicken is cooking, slice the potatoes as thin as possible.  Spray a cookie sheet with olive oil cooking spray and place the potato slices on the sheet.  Brush with olive oil or use the cooking spray again and just spray the tops of the potatoes.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and place under the broiler.  I always have to keep a close eye on things when I am broiling them so don't step away.  You want to make sure they are good and brown on top.  Once you have reached the desired readiness, remove the potatoes from the oven. flip them over, sprinkle with salt and place them back under the broiled.

Mix 4 avocados with salsa verde and cilantro.  

Once the potatoes are done, place a layer on a plate, top with guacamole and chicken, then repeat until all ingredients are used up! We topped our with salsa but you can really add any ingredients you want at this point!

Braised Chicken Thighs with Garlic, Lemon and Olives

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
12 garlic cloves 
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced (about 4 cups) 
1 lemon, thinly sliced, seeds discarded 
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, plus more for garnish 
1 cup mixed Greek olives
Juice of 1 lemon 

Remove the chicken from the fridge 20 minutes before cooking to remove the chill. Preheat the oven to 350°. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. 

In a large ovenproof pan or Dutch oven large enough to hold all the thighs in a single layer, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken, skin-side down, and sear until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic cloves to the pan and flip the thighs over. Cook until the garlic is fragrant and has gotten a little brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the chicken and garlic from the pan and set aside. 

With the pan still hot, add the onions, lemon slices and oregano, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onions have wilted and the brown bits on the bottom of the pan have loosened, 6 to 8 minutes. Nestle the thighs skin-side up in the onion mixture and add the garlic and the olives. Pour the lemon juice over the chicken and transfer the pan to the oven. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Scatter fresh oregano over it before serving.
Pin It!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Day Two #Whole30

In my quest to figure out all of the tricks and secrets to being successful on this reset I have consulted anyone and everyone willing to share their stories with me!  Some great advice I received was to keep a food got it!  THIS is my food journal!

Day Two....

....same as the first, can't get better so it's gotta get worse!

Not really but that popped into my head so I thought I would share.

Breakfast was still two hard boiled eggs with salt and pepper but in all honesty, I am not really a breakfast person as I don't seem to get hungry until around 10:00 am so I thought I would have something quick and easy before heading off to work.

Today I had tuna fish for lunch!  To make it a little more interesting, combined the tuna with an entire smashed avocado, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers.  It was a delicious meal and kept me full for hours...until the dreaded "after school snack" time rolled around.

Today was a little harder as all I could think about was crackers, chips, cheese slices....all my usual go-to's when it comes to snack time.  I shoved some almonds and cashews in my mouth, drank about a gallon and a half of water throughout the day and went straight to my sister-in-laws house to commiserate but stay strong!

The interesting part was it was then that I started to feel a great deal of anxiety...not because I couldn't snack but because I started thinking about everything I wanted to eat that I couldn't have!  Oh the DRAMA!  

Then I realized this is 30 days Ruthie....30 freaking days!  There is no one saying I can't have cheese dip for the rest of my life, just not right now.

I calmed down.

DINNER was amazing!!!  Working off of our meal plan we created on we made the following and even the kiddos liked it!

Balsamic and Basil Marinated Steak 
with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto 

Steak Marinade
1 lb skirt steak (any steak)
1⁄4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp avocado or olive oil
1⁄4 cup fresh chopped basil (or 1 tbsp dried basil)
1 tbsp fresh minced garlic (or 1 tsp garlic powder0
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto
1⁄2 cup fresh basil packed
1⁄2 cup roasted red peppers
1⁄4 cup pine nuts (we didn't have these so we used raw pistachios)
1⁄4 cup olive oil
1 large garlic clove
1⁄2 tsp salt
1⁄2 tsp pepper

Marinate steak in gallon sized plastic bag or Tupperware overnight or a minimum of 4 hours.  Pan sear steak in ghee or grill until cooked to your preference.  While steak is cooking, prepare pesto.  Add all pesto ingredients to food processor and pulse until combined into a pesto texture.

Serve pesto on top of cooked steak.

Crispy Salt and Vinegar Smashed Potatoes
4 servings

2 pounds mixed baby potatoes (Yukon Gold, red, etc.)
1 Tablespoon kosher salt, plus addt’l for sprinkling
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Add potatoes and 1 Tbsp. kosher salt to a medium saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Drain and return potatoes to saucepan. Add butter and gently toss to coat. Transfer potatoes to prepared baking sheet, spreading them out in a single layer. Using a heavy mug or glass, smash each potato to about 1/2-inch thickness.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove potatoes from oven and turn each with a spatula. Drizzle with olive oil and continue baking for 20 minutes more.

Once baked, sprinkle with vinegar, chopped chives, salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Pin It!

Day One #Whole30

First day down and not so bad....

I had two hard boiled eggs for breakfast sprinkled with a little salt and pepper then an arugula salad with shredded chicken, toasted almonds, avocado, and a dressing I made from home with extra virgin olive oil, dijon mustard and a fresh squeezed lemon.
I don't have a picture of my lunch because I was at work but I really liked how pretty this 
picture was so now you get to enjoy it too, m'kay!

All and all my day was off to a successful start!  Then it was time for my "after school snack"...all my life I have gotten hungry around 3:00 pm and had a snack.  Think that is a bad habit I need to break...umm I am going to take YES for 1,000, Alex!

So raw almonds and cashews it was!  
I love them both so this was really no sacrifice but is it sustainable? 
We shall see!

Then on to dinner....I wanted to make something that I would eat as leftovers for other meals later in the week and since I am not the best at taking advantage of leftovers, I decided soup was going to be on the menu.  We found this recipe and I have had it for 3 meals already and I am not tired of it at all!

Beach Body Meals: Paleo Portuguese Kale Soup
Serving: 8

1 tbsp. olive oil
2-3 large leeks chopped, using white and light-green parts only
1 large yellow onion chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
12 oz. ground turkey
6 oz. sausage (any flavor or kind) broken into smaller pieces
1 bunch kale torn and stemmed
1 32 oz. can diced tomatoes
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Note: To ensure you get pure sausage with no additives or sugar, you might want to get the butcher to do it for you.  Also, make sure that the diced tomatoes and broth have no sugar in them as well.

In a large stockpot, heat olive oil and add in leeks and onions. Saute until soft. Crush garlic into the pot and stir to slightly brown, 1-3 minutes.  Add turkey meat and sausage (if using), stirring until browned and adding a 1/2 cup of broth, if needed so as not to burn.  When meat is cooked through, add in canned tomatoes, broth, salt and pepper. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.

Five minutes before serving, stir in the kale to wilt.
Pin It!

And so it begins....Whole30

I always had this image in my mind of sitting down after the holidays by a crackling fire beneath a fluffy blanket reflecting on the wonderful times spent with family and friends with a calm smile on my face and cheerful memories in my head.

In reality, I am sitting on my couch sprawled out in exhaustion like I have just been chased by a pack of wild animals just happy to have survived!  Don't get me wrong, time spent with family and friends was incredible and I loved every minute of it....I also loved every cocktail, every happy hour, every "let's start mimosas before 10:00 am" kinda days....oh and I didn't miss a table with sweet treats and salty delectables either!

With all of that having been said, I am writing this post in elastic waist pants and a hoodie because that is about all that fits me these days!

So what to do?  I have made resolutions, started diets on January 2 (because who really starts with a hangover on January 1?), and promised myself I will work out every morning before work....or at least 3 days a week!  We all know how that story ends so I wasn't going to do that again.  Yes, I want to treat my body better in the future, I want to be full of energy that has nothing to do with caffeine or sleeping pills and I want to be more aware of what I consume.

Start the big band music and roll out the Whole30!  This is not a detox or is a RESET!  The idea is to take your body back to the basics.  From the Whole30 Programs:

Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it. Are your energy levels inconsistent or non-existent? Do you have aches and pains that can’t be explained by over-use or injury? Are you having a hard time losing weight no matter how hard you try? Do you have some sort of condition (like skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies or fertility issues) that medication hasn’t helped? These symptoms may be directly related to the foods you eat – even the “healthy” stuff. So how do you know if (and how) these foods are affecting you?
Strip them from your diet completely. Cut out all the psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the “reset” button with your metabolism, systemic inflammation, and the downstream effects of the food choices you’ve been making. Learn once and for all how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day to day life, and your long term health.

It seemed a bit intimidating, giving up sugars, grains, anything processed and wait for it....ALCOHOL!

This was going to be a rough January!  To prepare myself I gathered some friends so we can suffer together to feel better...that makes sense, right?  I did a bunch of research and consulted friends who had done it in the past.  I created a Pinterest board that I could use to compile recipes I want to try and cleaned out my pantry and fridge of anything I wasn't supposed to have.

In all honesty, it wasn't that bad and once I figured out there is way more that I can eat I wasn't so overwhelmed.  Here are some of the resources that helped me the most!

#Whole30: Giving up Sugar, Alcohol, and Grains

My Whole30 Pinterest Board (this is an amazing resource to help with meal planning)

So over the next 4 weeks I will be sharing recipes I have tried, snacks that will in some way help me not crave Triscuits and cheese, and any other helpful tips or hints I can find to help me succeed in this positive RESET!

Wish me luck!
Pin It!