After looking through my vacation photos I decided to split them into 3 categories for this post. Kyle and I crammed a lot of good food, drinks, and sightseeing into our vacation but we were also able to relax and not rush through anything so it was a perfect combo of planned stuff and just going with the flow. Asheville was a neat town and pretty small. We were able to see most of the city in 2 days and then spent the rest of the time checking out the other sights outside of the downtown area. I doubt we'd vacation there again to see the city but I wouldn't mind stopping back to stay in a cabin in the mountains and grab a meal or two in town since the food was amazing.
My favorite foods lately have been cheese and chocolate (well I always love chocolate) so Kyle and I decided to have a fun fondue night and celebrate a year of dating! We looked up lots of recipes and decided to do a cheese one with a beer base and then just find yummy cheese at a local shop based on suggestions. It turned out really yummy and we dipped some steak, tater tots, and veggies in it. Then we moved on to chocolate fondue next and kept with the alcohol theme mixing dark chocolate with cream and Kahlua. In this one we dipped strawberries, pineapples, and pound cake. We definitely fell into a food coma after all the food. We enjoyed all of it and now want to do more and experiment with different cheeses and chocolate!
I had a super fun and full Valentine's Day/President's Day weekend in the middle of February. I roadtripped up to Pittsburgh to hang with Kyle on Friday the 14th and then we headed to Columbus for the rest of the weekend. We had tickets to the George Strait concert with my friends on Saturday and then spent part of Sunday meeting up with my family for food and then some exploring. It was such a fun weekend even with a few bumps (hotel room not ready) and it still being snowy and super cold. I could go on and on about the whole weekend but I think my photos will tell the story better!
I tend to get bored/overwhelmed off and on with cooking from all the prep, grocery shopping, meal planning, etc especially with my work schedule right now. So I try to mix things up between making easy go to foods and then finding new ones. This past week I was inspired by some Pinterest finds, magazine clippings, and groceries that needed to be used before they went bad. So here are a few new recipes and I loved all of them, they will definitely be filed to be made again.
So with winter feeling like it's lasting forever I am constantly in the mood for "comfort" food but I also don't want to gain a bajillion pounds before spring/summer if they come this year. Therefore I'm trying to be more creative with some meals and whenever if I see a recipe that combines some of my favorites (mac & cheese) along with something healthy (brussels sprouts and spinach) I jump on it! So here is a new recipe I recently tried.
First off not the best picture....and I didn't take any while making it so it will have to do for now. I found this recipe on one of the blogs I read Carrots 'n' Cake - Lightened Up Mac and Cheese and I looove love love any type of mac and cheese but this one intrigued me because it called for Brussels sprouts and spinach plus it used some Greek yogurt for the cheese sauce. I recently had some pretty yummy Brussels sprouts over the holidays so I decided to buy some and see if I continue to enjoy them since I was never a fan before.
I followed the recipe pretty closely with a few modifications:
- I used fresh spinach and added to the cheese sauce once it was done cooking
- I used full fat Greek yogurt (mmm)
- I roasted the Brussels sprouts in the oven with some olive oil and salt and pepper so they would have that yummy roastedness flavor and then I just put them in my food processor for a few pulses to shred them before adding to the macaroni, cheese, and spinach mixture
So the verdict after tasting the finished product was a win! I was pretty surprised by how much I liked this recipe (but it still is pasta and cheese and can't go too wrong with that combo). I will be making again for sure and I'm thinking Brussels sprouts may become a normal veggie now for me hmmm never would've thought that!
For Christmas I received a partner brunch cooking class from Kyle and this past weekend was the set date! I've never done a cooking class before so I was super excited and even more so since it was cooking brunch mmmm! It was at Crate Cooking School in Pittsburgh. There was 5 items on the menu so we split into groups to tackle each recipe. Kyle and I made the cheddar scone "sliders" and the cocktails, and at the end everyone cooked their own French omelet. After all the cooking we had a full meal of all the items and we were stuffed from all the good food but can't wait to make some of the recipes again. I included the two items we made below!
1 sugar cube
2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
1 ounce brandy
1 maraschino cherry
superfine sugar and maraschino syrup for glass rim
Moisten the outer rim of a champagne flute with maraschino cherry syrup and coat with super fine sugar.
Place the sugar cube in the bottom of the flute and saturate with a few dashes of bitters.
Add the brandy and when ready to serve fill the glass with champagne and garnish with a cherry.
Cheddar Scone Sliders with Ham and Honey Mustard Butter
4 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1.5 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
6 ounces coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
Cut butter into small bits and with pastry blender blend into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
With a fork stir in cheddar.
Add milk and cream, stirring until just combined.
Transfer mixture to a floured surface and with floured hands knead until it forms a dough.
Roll out dough to 1/2 inch thick and cut out 2 inch round scones.
Arrange on baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes until pale golden.
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
3 tablespoons coarse-grained mustard
3 tablespoons honey
Mix all ingredients together.
Assemble by splitting the scones, spread with the honey-mustard butter, and add ham slices. Enjoy!
21 day sugar detox = DONE!
It was a pretty good week, I ended up making some repeat recipes because I knew I liked them and wasn't feeling super creative in the kitchen or testing many new recipes. So I had more chicken buffalo egg muffins (added broccoli for some veggies) and I made the shepherd's pie again and had that all week. I also explored a little baking and made some carrot banana muffins. They turned out pretty good but didn't keep well after a couple days so I'll have to work on that next time. I think they would be better with a little bit of sweetener but not much and I liked using coconut flour. I found that and unsweetened coconut flakes at a "normal" grocery store and that made my day since it can be hard to find and I love coconut!
Near the end of the week I had major cravings for wine (surprise surprise...) it's funny that I wanted that more than chocolate but that might be because I was prepared for no "sugar" but never thought about it including other things like just a glass of wine. I also really really wanted pizza! But I ended up satisfying that by making a cauliflower pizza on day 21 to finish out the challenge. I did this instead of post challenge so I wouldn't order a super carby/unhealthy pizza and binge on it afterwards. Now its time to figure out where to go from here eating wise but first here are a few pics from the final week of the challenge.
WEEK TWO DONE!
Broccoli & herb egg muffins
Smoky chicken tortilla-less soup
Carrots and tomatoes with guacamole
Celery sticks with almond butter and cinnamon
Smoothies for meals
Still would love some wine!
Anything Else //
I continued with the crazy amount of cooking, feels like I'm spending a lot of time in the kitchen but is worth it when I have food for the week ready and lots of options so I don't get bored. I have however incorporated easier meals like salads, wraps, and smoothies and they all make me happy!
I also branched out and had a few meals out to eat so that was interesting picking out food that I thought would fit into the program. I think I did pretty good with, salads, gumbo (minus the rice), and an omelet.
Next Week Thoughts //
I'm going into the final week really excited but also thinking about what I will do when the "challenge" is over. I'll mull it over and elaborate next week on my thoughts.
WEEK ONE DONE!
Buffalo chicken egg muffins
Parsnip and bacon stuffed chicken thighs
Balsamic-braised beef with sweet potato
Carrots and tomatoes with guacamole
Water (lots and lots like normal for me though)
Not too many of these, near the end of the week I really really really wanted to have a glass of wine but I abstained because I want to do as well as possible in this challenge.
Anything Else //
All of the meal planning became a little overwhelming especially the thought of it for the next week to have to start it all over again. Also cooking has taken up a lot of extra time with how my work schedule is I have to cook everything Monday or Tuesday so I don't starve the rest of the week. By the weekend I was a little tired of everything also out of most meals and kind of sick of eggs.
Next Week Thoughts //
I want to do some things simpler, like adding back my morning smoothie (I miss them!) and there are a few recipes which I tried one at the end of the week, I just need to buy some green tipped bananas to make them. I also will probably do some easier salads and just throw everything in it together or make some simple "sandwiches" with lettuce, other veggies, and lunch meat. I'm looking forward to week 2 and loving how I'm feeling being off sugar and processed stuff, but also will enjoy some sweets and treats once I'm done!