Here's My Answer

Skillet Shepherd’s Pie

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Last weekend I made shepherd’s pie and it turned out to be one of the best things I may have ever made.  It was so good that I kind of want to make it again.  And again.  And then again.

I have officially made shepherd’s pie twice in my life.  The first time was a few years ago and it was quite a failure.  Well.  It wasn’t BAD.  I just remember being very disappointed with it.  And I think at some point I had to run to the grocery in the middle of making it because I wasn’t following a recipe and realized at the last minute that I needed something urgently.  That sounds like something I would do.

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I found a recipe on Pinterest that makes shepherd’s pie in a cast iron skillet which is a little bit quicker and requires only about one less pan.  But you know what?  One pan is one pan and if I have a say, I will always vote for the method using less dishes.  It ended up working perfectly and I can promise you that I will forever make shepherd’s pie in my cast iron skillet.  It’s so silly to cook the filling in a pan and then transfer it to a baking dish when you can just cook it all in a pan that can go in the oven.  I don’t know… it’s just genius and everyone should just listen to me and do it.

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As for the actual shepherd’s pie.  Wow.  It was delicious.  I tweaked the recipe a little to make it easier and I really just didn’t think some of it was super necessary, like adding an egg to the mashed potatoes and I wanted peas in mine… little things like that.  I think what really made it so good was the A1 sauce I decided to throw in there at the end.  I have a feeling that’s not a normal ingredient to go into shepherd’s pie, considering I haven’t seen it used in any of the recipes I looked up, but believe me when I tell you, adding A1 sauce brings it to the next level.  You get an extra kick of salty-sweet-tanginess that you really just can’t get from anything else.  We even added more once we dished it all up for dinner!

There’s just no way you can go wrong with this dish.  Meat and potatoes.  Isn’t that every guy’s dream?  It’s a little time consuming to make since you have to the filling and the mashed potatoes to go on top, but I can promise you, it’s worth all the work.  It’ll feed you and another person two dinners and a lunch and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be wishing for more after every bite!

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Skillet Shepherd’s Pie 
Adapted from Laura’s Sweet Spot
Makes 6 servings (it fed Brad and I two dinners and a lunch)

1 pound ground beef
2-3 pounds of russet potatoes, cut into chunks (you can peel them but I prefer the skins on)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1/2-1 whole cup milk (just depending on how thick you want your mashed potatoes)
Butter (to go into your mashed potatoes.  Dare I say I used a whole stick of butter in mine??)
1/2 onion finely shopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 medium sized carrots, peeled and sliced
1 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2-4 tablespoons of A1 sauce (start off with a little and taste as you go)
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Ok- put the potatoes into a large pot and put enough water to cover the potatoes by about an inch. Add a hefty pinch of salt and bring to a boil.  Reduce to medium heat and allow to simmer until potatoes are soft, about 15-20 minutes depending on the size of your potato chunks.  Drain.  Mash the potatoes either with a masher or with a hand mixer.  Add the milk a little at a time along with the butter until you get a desired texture and taste.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside when finished.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Once hot, add the onions and carrots.  Once they start to soften, add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add the ground beef and cook until browned, drain any leftover fat.  Mix in the tomato paste and then slowly add the beef broth, worcestershire sauce and A1 sauce.  Again, add a little of the A1 sauce at a time making sure to not add too much for your liking.  Bring to a boil.  Add thyme and peas and simmer for about 5 minutes.  To thicken the sauce, pull a couple spoonfuls of the sauce and mix with the cornstarch to create a thin paste.  Stir into the meat and veggies mixture.  Allow to simmer for another 5-7 minutes until sauce is nice and thick (you might have to add more cornstarch).  Spoon the mashed potatoes onto the top of the meat and spread around evenly.  Place in the oven, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.  It’s already hot so it doesn’t have to go in there for very long.  You can flip the broiler on to just brown the tops of the potatoes, but I wanted to bake it for a little while.

Remove from oven carefully (the sauce seeps up from under the potatoes) and let it sit for a couple minutes.  Spoon into bowls and enjoy!!

How I Plan Meals

IMG_0889(This photo has absolutely nothing to do with this post.  I just think it’s really funny and needed a photo to put at the top, so this is it.  It’s from our rehearsal, obviously, and it’s a very “Beth and Brad” photo.  I’m a crazed mess and he is calm and collected.  It’s why we work so well.)

Quite frequently I get asked questions regarding how I plan meals.  How often do I go to the grocery store?  What day do I go to the grocery store?  Do I plan meals in advance?  How many meals do I plan at a time?  How do I decide what meals to make?  Do I have a budget?

You know… questions like that.  But when I give them my answer I always expect them to say “oh yea, that’s how I do it” or “yea, I go to the grocery store on that day too” or  “I definitely plan my meals ahead”.  But apparently, I surprise people with my answers.  And, in turn, that surprises me.  I pretty much just assumed I used a system that everyone uses but I guess that’s not really the case.  So… I figured I might as well write a post about it.

Now, I TRY to only go to the grocery store once a week.  It usually ends up being twice a week though.  There’s always a last minute thing I need that I forgot or something like I couldn’t buy salmon on a Sunday and eat it on Thursday or most likely it’ll have something to do with Saturday night dinners.  While grocery stores are definitely on my way home from work, I try to avoid doing pretty much anything after work.  Mostly because I just really like to get home as soon as I am done working.  That being said… I do end up doing my major grocery trip on Mondays more than I would prefer.  But really, I prefer to do it on Sunday mornings.  I like to go on Sunday mornings for a few reasons.  The main one is that it’s soooo much less crowded.  I hate going to busy grocery stores and having to wait in lines.  It’s the worst.  But another reason why I like to go on Sundays is because Brad has the opportunity to go with me.  I very much get into a zone when I am at the store, I have a list prepared and I am pretty much on a mission.  So he usually ends up just following me with the cart.  However, I enjoy his company and I think it’s fun to do together.  It’s also really nice to have someone there to give me an opinion rather than me asking myself and debating out loud while other fellow shoppers wonder if I have split personality disorder.  (Sadly- I really do talk to myself like that)  There are weeks of course that I have to go on Mondays.  Which sucks, but whatever.  I stop on my way home from work, in my dirty icing and paint covered pants, my hair a mess and glitter all over every inch of my body.  It’s a lovely sight.

The grocery store I go to most often is Kroger.  Kroger and Publix are the main grocery stores down here.  I like Publix (they have fresh pizza dough that I buy all.the.time.) however, I believe they are expensive.  With my Kroger card, I save anywhere from $5-$20 in one trip.  But also, I use the fuel points to get gas in my car (hello extra 10 cents a gallon!).  We have really nice Krogers down here anyway.  Especially in our town.  We literally have the nicest Krogers I’ve been in.  And they have a really great “natural food” section, which we have discovered has a lot of the same stuff as Whole Foods, only muuuuuch cheaper.

Another store I shop at is actually Costco.  Oh and Sam’s Club too.  I absolutely LOVE buying in bulk.  Since we do live a little further out, it’s really not fun if you realize you forgot to buy a can of chicken broth or if you decide you need another can of beans in that chili or need some rice for the sick dog (yea, that happened this week).  We are really lucky and have a huge garage that has a  little cut out/extra room deal that was meant to be a pantry.  It’s nice and cool down there and the heavy duty shelves we had in Indy fit perfectly.  It’s literally like a mini grocery store down there and I love it.  I do have lots of things I’d like to add down there, but that will all happen eventually.  Here’s a list of things that I buy in bulk and have found to be extremely handy:
Chicken Broth
Canned Diced Tomatoes
Canned Tomato Paste
Canned Tomato Sauce
Brown Rice
Quinoa
Oatmeal (always old fashioned rolled oats, never the quick ones.  You can do so much more with them)
Canned Beans (any kind Costco has, I grab)
Canned Corn
Rotel
Canned Fruit
Canned Green Beans
Ramen Noodles (I have an asian noodle recipe that I absolutely adore that uses just the noodles)
Salsa (Both a kind to eat with chips and Pace Salsa to cook with)
Ketchup
Peanut Butter
Potatoes
Onions
Spices (right now I just have cinnamon, chili powder and peppercorn, but I would eventually like to have many many more)
Cholula Hot Sauce
A1 sauce
Kosher Salt
An extra bag of dog food (it’s always a good idea to have this, especially if there is some horrible weather that will leave you stranded at home for a few days.  Can’t forget about the furry kids!)

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Obviously, that’s not all on the shelves right now.  But most of that was at one point.  You can’t buy all of that at once or you’ll end up spending $1,000 real quick.  But it’s good stuff to eventually have on hand.

In addition to our basement pantry, I like to buy freezer items.  Since my last trip to Costco was at least a month ago, we’ve eaten a lot that I had in there, so the photo below is a horrible example.  But I’ll tell you what was once in there:
Ground Beef
Chicken Breasts
Frozen Mixed Veggies (perfect for a quick soup or just a plain side dish)
Mixed Stir Fry Veggies (it almost feels silly to use the fresh vegetables now in stir fry just because the frozen mix is soooo much easier)

Items that are not purchased in bulk but I like to have in there anyway:
Hash Browns of some sort
Ice Cream (no explanation needed)
Margaritas (again, no explanation needed)
Sometimes I have frozen fish, like tilapia or cod.  Just for something quick to make.
Mojito Cheaters (this is a really good one.  In an ice cube tray squeeze a bunch of fresh lime juice and tear up maybe 7-10 mint leaves.  Top off with water freeze and then put in a freezer ziploc bag.  These are really good to put in your water when you want some flavor and always good to put in some rum, soda water and a little sugar for a SUPER easy mojito!)
Currently I have a few frozen burritos in there that I made a few weeks ago out of Mexican rice, salsa, beans and a little cheese.  They are awesome for lunches!
I also like to make frozen breakfast burritos or breakfast sandwiches.  Usually made with eggs, cheese and sausage.  I love having frozen breakfast stuff… makes the mornings sooo much easier.

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Hmmm I think that’s it for the freezer.  But it’s all basically things that are really nice to have in case you need a last minute meal… and then some extras.  I really love being so prepared!  It just makes life so much easier!  And!  It makes grocery store trips so much less expensive!  I’ve never actually calculated out how much money we save by buying things in bulk, but we have to save SOME money, right?

Ok- so now you know where I like to shop and what I like to keep in the house.  Next up- planning the meals!

I do this pretty much every Sunday morning.  I get up, eat some breakfast and sit on the couch and get to work.  Every single week, before I start researching, I ask Brad “is there anything you really want for dinner this week?”.  Sometimes he can list off 4 meals, sometimes he lists off zero.  But that is always my first priority.  Gotta keep my man’s belly happy!  Once he gives me his input, I think about if there is anything I really want for dinner that week.  Then I decide if this is a week we need a good amount of leftovers or not (the bank account decides that) and then once I determine what types of meals I need to make (lots of leftovers or not lots of leftovers, Brad’s picks and my picks) I start researching recipes.  I usually check on the food blogs that I follow and see if they have done anything super interesting that week, and then I head over to Pinterest to look at my “Dinner” board.  It’s hard for me to tell you exactly what I do because well, 1) I don’t really pay attention and 2) it varies.  But for the most part, that’s what I do.  I write all the days down on our new super cool chalkboard wall in our kitchen and start planning what meal is on what day.  Once all of that is figured out, then I make my grocery list!

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My grocery list is laid out how my mom used to do it.  I think anyway.  It’s laid out sort of in order of how the store is laid out.  In the top left corner is all the fresh produce because that’s always where you go in first.  Then below that is deli stuff, like deli cheese, deli meat, fancier mozzarella (not in block form)… stuff like that.  Then, right below that is meat… chicken, beef, bacon, breakfast sausage… all of it.  Then in the bottom left corner is all your “in the middle of the grocery store” stuff.  Like canned stuff, cereals, crackers, seasonings, baking stuff… you get what I’m saying.  I try to keep that part of the list super small since they say you should shop on the perimeter of the store for healthier food.  In the top right corner is dairy and other refrigerated stuff, like milk, eggs, sour cream, rolls of biscuits, block cheese…. And then lastly, in the bottom right corner is freezer stuff.  I think that’s pretty straight forward.

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I have always made my grocery list that way and always will.  And I have always planned my meals that way and again, always will.  I’ve never been a fan of having to go day to day trying to figure out what to eat for dinner and then having to go to the store everyday.  It’s not my thing.  I am such a homebody that I really just want to be home as much as possible.  And too- while I do love to go to the grocery store, I just don’t love it enough to go multiple times a week.   Plus, it makes life so much easier and a little less stressful if you are prepared for the week.  Anything can come up at any point of the day and it’s nice to know that at least you have everything you need and know exactly what you are making for dinner that night.  Sometimes we change stuff, sometimes we don’t follow the plan, but I think 90% of the time we do.  I mean, geez, I put so much effort into it, might as well!

I don’t know if this has been helpful at all for anyone, maybe it’s at least been an interesting read.  Now you don’t have to spend your days wondering how I do all of this because I am sure you were so worried.  But, whatever.  It’s interesting and really… I just get asked so much that I figure it’s going to be on SOMEONE’S mind!  So… that’s that.  Hopefully next week I’ll have some actual food to post about.  Who knows though… I haven’t made my list yet!  Ha.  Ok- I’m done.

Hoppin John

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Well ya’ll…. I think I’m back.

Maybe.

After a 7 month hiatus (can I even call it a hiatus??) I’ve been getting the itch to start blogging again.  But who knows, I could write this post and then take another 7 months off.  Let’s hope that’s not the case though. . .   

Originally, I took a break because, let’s be honest, we were living in a horrible tiny apartment with a horrible tiny kitchen that I hated to be in every second… both the kitchen and the apartment.  There was nothing even remotely inspiring about that kitchen and for that, I blame my hiatus.  Also…. sometimes I really wonder how many people even read this thing, but after looking at the numbers today, apparently people DO read this!  So… no time like the present!

Some things have definitely changed since my last post.  Brad and I bought a house in November and moved in the weekend before Thanksgiving.  It’s an absolute dream come true.  We now live about an hour south of Nashville in a small town called Columbia.  They have a day called “Mule Day”.  Yea, we live in a country town that has a day devoted to mules and it’s sort of the greatest thing ever.  Our house sits on just under 2 acres of wooded land.  It feels more out in the middle of nowhere than it actually is, which is perfect for us.  It’s super quiet, we only have a few neighbors and on any given night, we can see more stars than you could ever imagine.  We are slowly but surely making our home, well… our home.  We built a fence in the backyard (yea, you read that right, we BUILT one), we’ve gotten most of our stuff unpacked and settled into position, and just yesterday and the day before, we painted the dining room and living room and finally got to hang up our wedding photo collage that we have missed so dearly.  This weekend we plan to tackle painting the kitchen which I am beyond excited about and over the next few weeks, we hope to get all the other rooms painted.  

Yes, we’ve been very busy.  But that’s how we like it!

The holidays were nice but very chaotic for us.  We had pretty much the same schedule we always do around the holidays, but this year it just felt more crazy because of the whole driving 5 hours thing.  We were so glad we got to see all of our family.  Unfortunately, Indianapolis didn’t get any snow while we were up there, so we have yet to see snow this winter.  But that’s probably a good thing, I’m just missing it.  

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For New Years this year, I decided I wanted to approach the menu a little differently than I have in the past.  See, we didn’t have the best luck in 2013, what with having to move unexpectedly among a list of other things, so I was determined to do everything I could to bring us some better luck with 2014.  So I made Hoppin John!  It’s a southern thing I guess.  But it has black eye peas and collard greens which are both supposed to bring you good luck in the new year.  Also, I heard something somewhere about it being good to eat things in the shape of circles, so I made donuts the next day.  Or maybe I just wanted to make donuts, who knows.  Anyway, I had never made Hoppin John or ate it for that matter, so I was really going out on a limb.  I got on Pinterest and searched for Hoppin John recipes and settled on a combination of a few different ones.  One was to be made in a crockpot with sausage links, which I didn’t want to do either of and the other I didn’t feel had enough to it.  So I combined the two to make, what I think, was a really freaking good Hoppin John!

It’s got a little kick to it from the jalapeno and the can of Rotel.  But if you wanted to, I’m sure you could skip the jalapeno and sub regular diced tomatoes for the Rotel.  But really- the spiciness makes it for me.  However, I am a lover of all things spicy, so I have a biased opinion.  Either way, it’s served over rice (I went with brown rice to make it a little healthier) and a couple dashes of your favorite hot sauce.  I know it’s past New Years, but I am pretty sure this is a recipe I’ll make again any time of the year!

Happy New Year!  I hope 2014 is a great year for everyone!

Hoppin John
Makes 4-6 servings
Adapted from This Mama Cooks and Holley Grainger 

2 slices of bacon, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can of Rotel Original Recipe
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
About 2 cups of collard greens, ribs removed, roughly chopped 
2 cans of black eye peas, drained and rinsed
1 cup uncooked rice
Salt
Hot Sauce

Cook the rice according to directions on package.  When done, set aside.

In a large pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until a little bit crispy.  Add the onion and jalapeno and saute until soft.  Add the tomato paste and Rotel and stir until the tomato paste is mixed in.  Add the black eye peas and chicken broth.  Stir.  Then add the collard greens.  I didn’t measure how much I used, I just sort of eyeballed it.  When it looked like there was enough in there, I was done.  Simmer on the stove for about 15 minutes until it starts to thicken.  

Spoon the rice onto a plate and pour the black eye pea mixture over it.  Serve with hot sauce if desired.

That’s it!!  I forgot to tell you how easy it is!!

Crazy Easy Vegan Orange Julius

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Holy cow you guys.  I’ve been working on another post but keep forgetting to finish it.  Then I made this delicious beverage and realized I had to stop everything I was doing to post about it.

I stumbled upon this recipe while wasting time on The Berry and knew as soon as I saw it I needed to try it this week.  I don’t know if any of you have had an Orange Julius, but they are pretty good.  But this is actually better.  Not only is it vegan, but it’s freaking healthy!  And it’s super easy!  This is what you do:

Throw a frozen banana, the juice 2 oranges, a splash of vanilla extract and some ice in a blender and blend it.

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Yea.  That’s it.  I had to make some changes though, as our we got rid of our old blender and I gave back the one we were borrowing to my mom, so currently we only have an immersion blender.  It works really well, except not on frozen stuff.  So I didn’t freeze the banana all the way and I added hardly any ice.  And it was still so good.

This is perfect for breakfast, a morning snack, an afternoon snack and even dessert!  I think I’m going to start freezing some bananas and buying oranges from Sam’s Club so I can make these all.the.time.

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Vegan Orange Julius
From Girl Makes Food 
Makes one small serving (I wish I doubled it!)

1 frozen banana
2 oranges, juiced
splash of vanilla extract
1 cup of ice (or less)

Combine everything in a blender until smooth.  And enjoy!

I’m Back!

Hi!  I decided that after a good 3 1/2 months off from blogging I might start back up again.  A lot has happened in those last 3 1/2 months so I will try to catch you up on some of it and maybe you’ll understand why it’s been so long since I have blogged. . .

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… oh wait, no, that’s Star Wars.

Ok, sorry.  I couldn’t help myself.  Let’s start with the most important things first.  Brad has a completely new job in a completely new city.  We now live in Nashville, TN.  Yep.  We are Volunteers now instead of Hoosiers.  Let’s be honest though, I never called myself a Hoosier b/c Hoosiers are people that go to Indiana University and I most certainly DID NOT GO TO IU.  I would say I was an Indiana-an.  I loved living in Indiana.  We were certain it was the greatest city for us and that it was a great fit.  However, things happen and plans change and we landed in a tiny one bedroom apartment in Nashville.  We sold our house in record timing (well, we agreed on an offer within a week of putting it on the market anyway), packed up everything we own and moved it 4 1/2 hours south to Tennessee.  Half of our house is in storage and the other half is shoved somewhere in this apartment.

We have learned though that Nashville is actually a SUPER cool city and believe it or not, Nashville is a totally foodie city.  Never would have thought it.  There are a million things to do here and a million places to eat.  It’s turned out to be a pretty great move, minus that fact that all of our family lives in Indy still.  It’s ok though, phones and FaceTime are miracle workers!

So I figured, while I’m unemployed and don’t have much to do expect for look for jobs during the day, I might as well start blogging again.  This way I’ll at least feel like I talk to someone other than the dogs and Brad.  Let me go through the recent happenings that I have documented with my iPhone.  Photos are always nice.

photo 1_3_2_2I went with Brad to Nashville for his job interview.

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Cash had his 1 year birthday and Etta had her 4 year anniversary with us.  So naturally I made them a doggie cake and wrote on it with peanut butter.  We also took them to a park and they cuddled in Etta’s bed.

photo 1_3_2Brad accepted the offer for his new job and we put the house on the market.  That was a weird day for sure.

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We went back to Nashville to check out apartments and ate at a crazy good cafe called Fido.  Yum.

photo 4_3_2Then I turned 26.  That was pretty fun.  My mom made me a brownie, chocolate pudding and whipped cream trifle.

photo 1_3We went out for Brad’s brother’s birthday where I got accidentally drunk and ended the night with an Irish Car Bomb that I actually didn’t drink much of.

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We went to opening night for the Indianapolis Indian’s and then went the next night too.

photo 3_3We got Cash a backpack so now he and Etta match.

photo 1We saw somehow scored almost front row seats for Joe Rogan.

photo 2Brad helped me pack.  I made a point to be crazy organized and it totally paid off.

photo 3We moved Brad down to Nashville where he lived in the apartment with 2 lawn chairs, a tv, an air mattress and a trunk for two weeks.  Total bachelor pad.

photo 4I drove home with both dogs, who decided the front seat was the best spot for the two of them to be the whole 4 1/2 hours.

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We went to Nashville, IN for Brad’s mom’s birthday and spent 4 hours trying to build a fire using a bow drill kit.  We ended up having to give up.  They built a massive fire though!

photo 3_3_2_2_2I packed some more.

photo 4_3_2_2_2Picked up the giant U-Haul.

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I went to the Taylor Swift concert with the most bestest friend ever.  And damn near lost my voice from singing and screaming so loudly.

photo 3_2_2_2Then we moved.  And I took photos of our empty house.

photo 4_2_2_2And we took photos in front of the house.

photo 1_2_2_2_2And in the back of the house.

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We moved all of our things into a one bedroom apartment (we had lots of help of course!).

photo 1_2_2Cash watched Nashville with me one day.  He liked it a lot.  It’s a pretty freaking good show.

photo 4_2_2_2_2The dogs got muddy at the dog park.

photo 2_2_2I’ve been doing a lot of cuddling with the dogs.

photo 4_2_2I made fresh margaritas.

photo 3_2_2I also got my first pair of cowboy boots that I want to wear all day everyday.

photo 1_2I made my first carnitas.  They were crazy good. I served them with a guacamole salad.  (the carnitas were a cross between this recipe and this one)

photo 2_2Cash decided he wanted to chew on one of my old tshirts and was carrying it around like Linus with his blanket.  But then he shredded it to pieces so we had to throw it away.  (it’s a blurry photo but you get the idea!)

photo 4_2I was asked to make a birthday cake for a coworker of Brad’s.  I thoroughly enjoyed that!  It was chocolate cake with cream cheese icing and buttercream for the decorations.

photo 1_2_2_2_2_2We’ve eaten some of the best food ever.  All I ever want to eat is BBQ so that’s been a change.  We did find the best pizza place we have ever eaten.  It’s also the coolest place we have ever eaten at too.

photo 2_2_2_2_2_2The dogs have become very close throughout this whole move.

photo 3_2_2_2_2_2And today I made chocolate/chocolate chip cookies.

There’s definitely more that we have done but that’s all stuff I have actual photos for.

So my plans for this blog now is to keep everyone up to date with what’s going on in our lives in Nashville.  With not working, I have been doing a LOT of baking to keep myself occupied so I do plan on posting recipes still, but my hope is that I will start writing more and sometimes it might have absolutely nothing to do with food.  We’ll see what happens.

This weekend should be interesting.  It’s our first weekend back in Indy since we both moved.  But we won’t be there long.  We’re doing Tough Mudder on Saturday in a suburb of Chicago.  And we’ll be busy doing last minute stuff at the house so it will be ready for the closing.

Anyway, that’s that.  I’m sorry it’s been so long.  It’s been a quick, stressful and crazy past few months!

Oh- by the way.  Some of these photos are from my Instagram.  Feel free to check that out.  I am a little addicted and love posting on there!

Burrito Bowls

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Ok ok ok… I’m sorry I’ve been a little M.I.A. lately.  I’ve been a little preoccupied with the usual stuff… Basically with life in general.  I can’t really remember what has happened in the last 10 days, but I’m sure there have been things… I hope there have been things anyway.  How lame would that be if I didn’t accomplish anything in the last 10 days??

Meh… it’s January so therefore it’s ok to not really accomplish much.  I’ve been working a lot, we’ve been trying to maintain a consistent workout schedule, we’ve been busy with friends and family, I have found a new obsession with Pinterest (I am so behind on what’s cool these days) and I’ve been very consumed by this whole “try to continue to eat ‘cleanly’ and not go out to eat hardly ever” thing.  There have been days that it’s been a challenge, but we have majorly cut back our eating out and it definitely shows in our bank account.  It’s amazing how much money you can save just from something so simple!

Oh… I know what I’ve been doing for the last few days… (I just remembered this) I’ve been addictively (did I make that word up?) watching Sons of Anarchy and this just in… Breaking Bad.  Good god… the things I have been missing in my life!  Well, I’ve always been a Sons of Anarchy fan but I started watching it at like the end of the second season so I decided to start from the beginning.  Brad and I only just started watching Breaking Bad on like Friday night (it’s now Tuesday) and we’ve watched the whole first season.  Which, hold on!  The first season is only 7 episodes so don’t get your undies in a bunch!  However, I am literally so obsessed and uncontrollably addicted that it’s all I think about.  A television show.  It’s pathetic.  I know.  You don’t have to tell me.  And I can’t wait to watch more tonight.

Ok… now that you are all fully aware of my television addictions and strange desires to watch shows about cooking meth and cancer and motorcycles and guns and high school science teachers and violence and …

Oh god.  I’m doing it again.  AH!

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Ok.  Moving on.

Let’s see.  We made these little burrito bowls like the day after we decided to stop doing CLEAN.  It definitely fits in the CLEAN program and it’s also SUPER easy so I have a feeling we will be making this many more times.  Oh!  It’s also pretty cheap too!  All you need is rice, 2 cans of beans and two avocados, a lime and cilantro!  I mean, I didn’t keep track of how much it cost, but I’m sure it’s under $15 and fed us for two lunches!  You do also need some seasoning, but I would hope everyone has garlic powder and cumin on hand.  We always have a bag of brown rice in the pantry too, so for us, it was even cheaper!

This would also be a perfect meal to use leftover rice for.  I know that whenever we make rice, for maybe stir fry or something like that, we always have a buttload leftover (wait, did I just write “buttload”?  Why yes, yes I did) and we usually end up throwing at least some of it away.  This is the perfect answer to that never ending problem!  Even if you have a little bit leftover, say like a cup’s worth, you can still pop open a can of beans and pour it on top and dollop some guac on there too and you’ll have a great lunch!  If you wanted to get really crazy, you could even wrap all of it up in a tortilla, but then it wouldn’t be considered a CLEAN recipe.  Whatever you choose, I think you’ll really enjoy this dish!

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Burrito Bowls
Serves 4

1 cup uncooked brown rice (this should make 3 cups of cooked rice)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinse
Garlic powder
Ground Cumin
Chili Powder (optional)
2 avocados
Juice of 1 lime
Handful of cilantro, roughly copped

Cook the brown rice according to the package directions.  While the rice is cooking, make your guacamole.  Mash the two avocados in a bowl.  Poor in the lime juice and chopped cilantro.  Mix together.  When the rice is done cooking, poor some in a bowl and top with beans.  Sprinkle the garlic powder, cumin and chili powder over top, along with salt if desired.  Then plop a couple spoons of guacamole on top and go to town!

Getting CLEAN… Ok… We’re Clean Enough

IMG_1113This baby sea turtle has nothing to do with this post.  I just like it and it’s cute and it’s from our honeymoon so I just decided to put it in.  I also thought I needed a photo somewhere in this post.  Ok… that is all.

We have officially stopped doing CLEAN.  Sort of.

Some may say that we quit, some may say we gave up, some may ask “what was the point?” and some may wonder how we could have gotten anything out of it already.  I get it, that’s fine.  But actually, we didn’t quit.  We didn’t give up.  There was a point.  And believe it or not… we did get something out of it.

After one full week of a pre-cleanse and 4 full days of the actual cleanse, Brad and I decided to end it.  Partially because we were hungry, partially because we had cravings but mostly because we got what we wanted out of it.

I’ll have you know I am 5’2″ tall.  I am almost 26 and depending on the day I was topping out at 130 pounds.  (Yes, I totally just confessed my weight on the internet and I am totally ok with it)  I have a small frame but yet was somehow able to pack on a lot of weight over the last few months.  130 pounds for a girl my age and my height isn’t really “ideal”.  I looked it up on like 5 different websites.  130 is at the high end of what I should be, on the verge, of well… “you’re getting close to not being an ideal weight so get your shit together”.  We set out to do this whole CLEAN thing to get healthy and an added bonus would be to lose weight.

Which we did.  We lost a lot of weight.  I lost almost 8 pounds (I weighed myself when we began this and I was 128.6 and I’m now at 121).  For someone my size, 8 pounds is a lot in one and a half weeks.  We were dropping weight in a mostly healthy-ish way because we cut everything you could possibly think of as unhealthy out of our diet.  We were living on mostly fruits and veggies and a little bit of protein everyday.  We felt hungry… which we understood was part of the whole thing.  But we wanted to start training for Tough Mudder and when you train for Tough Mudder, you shouldn’t be slacking on what you eat.  And that was our biggest problem.

Training for Tough Mudder requires a lot of running.  And a lot of weight training.  And I was finding myself so completely exhausted and worn out only a couple minutes in to our workouts that I was secretly worrying.  I felt weak when I was working out.  Nothing about me felt strong.   Like lifting a 10 pound weight was doing to do more damage than good!  While I felt pretty good throughout the day, minus the cravings and dislike of some of the food we were eating, I didn’t feel good while I was doing what was really important… working out.

And so we made the call.  No more.  We needed to start eating “real food”.

And by “real food” I mean carbs and protein… and tomatoes and peppers and a lot of the things that we felt were important for us to eat with such a rigorous workout routine.  We needed more protein in one day and not the kind of protein you get from the nasty protein shakes we bought (ugh… don’t ever buy vegan protein shakes, you’ll regret it).  We needed to be allowed to eat a solid meal for dinner every once and awhile…  I will say that some of the meals were very filling.  And it’s not like we were depriving ourselves of food or starving ourselves or anything like that.  But the book acknowledges that if you are an athlete training for something, you should almost double your food, juice and smoothie intake or hold off and wait to do CLEAN when you aren’t training.

We also stopped because we truly got what we wanted out of it.  It was an awakening.  We saw how badly we had been eating and what we had been doing to ourselves by not eating as well as we thought.  We most certainly do not plan to go back to our old ways.  We want to continue having juices and smoothies for breakfast and we really want to work on cutting a lot of dairy out of our diet.  We want to eat a lot more meals that are from the CLEAN diet but we want to also be able to eat a damn tomato!  And a jalapeno!  Ain’t nothin’ wrong with jalapenos!

All kidding aside… I learned a lot.  And we both really felt the effects almost immediately.  Some meals we would eat before all of this felt like they just sat in our stomachs for days.  Whereas with CLEAN you felt light and you felt like the food wasn’t trapped in your body while your body tried to figure out what to do with it.  I did (do) feel more awake.  I found myself not craving coffee in the morning for the caffeine.  And let me say… I used to HATE coffee until I started having to get up at 3 in the morning.  Then I started to love coffee.  But I didn’t want it.  I still took naps when I got home some days, but I didn’t take naps because I felt like I was going to die if I didn’t.  I took naps because it just felt right to take them.  I just felt good all around.  And it was nice.  But I just knew that it wasn’t working out as well as I hoped.

So you know what we did?  We went out to eat on Thursday night.  We went to a Mexican restaurant and ate chips and salsa and queso and we shared a margarita and we ate steak tacos and taco salads.  And get this… the next morning we got up at 7 (well, Brad woke me up at 7) and did a full Tough Mudder workout and ran 4 miles in the 20 degree frozen weather and honestly… never felt better.  See!?  Proof!!  There’s no way we could have done that while we were doing CLEAN.  Just… no way.

And there you have it.  That is why we stopped doing CLEAN.

But like I said, we don’t plan to go back to our old ways.  I LOVE drinking homemade juices in the morning for breakfast.  It’s my favorite part of CLEAN.  I want to continue to do that.  We want to continue to have 12 hours between dinner and breakfast.  And we want to try to use a lot of the CLEAN recipes for lunches and dinner.  Oh and I really want to make sure that I eat healthy snacks like apples, carrots and sugar snap peas.  We are also going to limit ourselves to eating out only like once every 10 days.  That includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.  So we better make it worth it!

See!?  We learned a lot and we are really determined to change our ways and keep them that way.  I still have some CLEAN recipes to share that I promise I will actually get to.  I just wanted to make sure to write this post (even though I’m writing it later than I wanted to) and explain why we stopped.

Ok… I’m done now.  I have to go start dinner.  byebye!


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