Category Archives: Cooking

Exciting News! Plus 2 recipes

Like I said the other day, I have a piece of exciting news to share; however, I’m going to make you wait for it!


Before I get to my news, I want to share a little bit more about how I’m feeling on my diet/cleanse. It truly is quite remarkable how much better I feel now that I’m eating more veggies and protein. The thing is, I didn’t know that I was feeling bad

I would get a little bloated at times, especially after eating anything processed or just having a large meal. But the bloating had really died down since I stopped eating wheat (almost a year ago). I still had acne issues every once in awhile, but my face is a whole lot clearer than it used to be. And then there were still times that I’d get mighty cranky, usually after eating processed foods.

During the first few days, I was a little cranky, but that was more because I was mourning the fact that I couldn’t eat potatoes or rice or pasta or fruit! It wasn’t because of the food I was eating. Once I got into the groove of things with the diet and I started experimenting with new recipes, I’ve found myself to have loads of energy and I’m super happy 🙂

Plus, I don’t have any type of cravings whatsoever. Sure I look for something sweet every now and then, but I don’t have to have it all the time. And now, even when I eat something that isn’t technically sweet, it actually tastes sweet to me! Take for instance that just five days into the diet, I made mashed potatoes with milk for my honey and some friends. Naturally I had to taste them to make sure I had enough salt and butter in them. I was shocked to find that they actually tasted sweet to me! Crazy how the overly sweetened foods out there today fool our tastebuds into thinking nothing can be sweet without added sugar.

Doing this candida diet and researching more about the Paleo diet (in an effort to find new recipes), a whole new world of nutrition and healthy eating has opened up to me. I have found so many new blogs and loads of information on what our bodies actually need to be healthy that I don’t have enough time to read it all! It’s amazing to think how much society tries to dictate to us what is healthy instead of us listening to our bodies to decide if that __________(fill in overly processed food here) is what we need.

I’ve been keeping a daily log of everything I’ve been eating and how I feel throughout the day. I’ve been surprised to find that fatty ground beef puts me to sleep, lots of broccoli makes me bloat a little, and eating eggs every morning for breakfast is keeping me nice and full, and energized! Even if you don’t do a diet/cleanse of this type, it really is a great idea to keep track of what you eat and how it makes you feel. You can learn a whole lot about how much food affects you by doing this.

Okay, enough of that talk, onto some fabulous new recipes!

Creamy Spinach and Garlic Coconut Sauce (Makes about a cup)

A milk-free take on Alfredo sauce! 

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup canned full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup grated parm
  • dash of onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Italian seasoning to taste
  • handful of spinach, chopped

1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant.

2. Add the coconut milk and stir to incorporate garlic.

3. Add the seasonings, followed by the parm cheese. Whisk to incorporate. Let simmer for a few minutes, taste and add additional seasonings if need be.

4. Remove pot from heat. Chop your spinach and add, stir to incorporate.

5. Put lid on pot and let the spinach cook a little before serving.

6. Pour over chicken and veggies or stir the chicken into the sauce and then serve.

This was my first time ever tasting or using coconut milk and I’m pretty sure I could have drank it straight out of the can! The creaminess of the coconut milk, along with a touch of sweetness it adds, is reminiscent of cow’s cream so it has the same mouthfeel, but there’s also the added hint of coconut flavor. Look for more recipes using coconut milk in the near future 🙂

Vanilla Almond Milk (makes 4 cups)

A creamy and flavorful alternative to cow’s milk. Perfect for mixing with vanilla protein powder!

  • 2 cups raw almonds*
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • stevia to taste

1. Place the two cups of raw almonds in a bowl that has a lid. Add enough water to cover the nuts and put lid on. Place in fridge and let soak overnight or for at least 8 hours.

2. Rinse and drain the almonds when you’re ready to make the milk.

3. Add the soaked almonds to a blender** followed by the four cups of water.

4. Puree the heck out of it! I did mine for at least a minute if not more. It will become quite frothy.

5. Now you need to strain out the almond bits, so there are two ways you can go about doing that. You can pour the milk mixture over a cheesecloth into a bowl and squeeze the milk out. Or you can use a fine mesh strainer and press the milk out with a spatula, which is what I did.

6. After straining out as much milk as possible, pour it back into the blender, and then pour again through the strainer or cheesecloth. I found that I got a lot of extra almond bits by doing this a few times. Plus, it makes a much smoother final product.

7. After you’re done straining it, stir in the vanilla and stevia (I did half of one small packet of Sweet Leaf). Store in mason jars or other airtight containers in the fridge. Shake before drinking. Should stay fresh in the fridge for 2 or 3 days.

*You can use blanched almonds for less leftover almond meal, or you can use the ones with the skin on. I used almonds with the skin on and it turned out fine.

**I tried to make this in my food processor at first, but it was too much liquid. I ended up using my Kitchenaid blender on the liquefy setting and it worked great.

Save the leftover almond puree and roast in the oven at 250 degrees for awhile. It makes great almond meal to use in baked goods!

I just bought almond milk for the first time the other day because I wanted something to replace the cow’s milk I’m not able to drink right now. I got the unsweetened vanilla and it is delicious! However, it has added vitamins, plus other junk to thicken it up. I just don’t think it agreed with me because I was immediately bloated after drinking it. Therefore, I decided to try making my own, which turned out to be quite easy. A little time consuming, but not difficult. I probably won’t be making it weekly, but I could see me making it every once in awhile.


And now for the exciting news…

I finally got a car!!!!

If you don’t remember, I got into a car accident back in September and totaled my car. We were going to wait a few more months and try to save a little more money to buy me a car, but my honey’s principal offered a deal we couldn’t refuse!

It’s a Corolla and it’s super cute 🙂 It’s quite a bit smaller than an Accord (which I’ve had three of) so that’s going to take some getting used to. But, it’s practically brand new and is going to get excellent gas mileage!!! I only got 23 mpg the other day in my little brother’s V6 Accord, which is terrible especially since gas is now $3.55…Luckily I found someone to carpool with to work a few days a week. It has saved me so much already!

The only bad thing…my honey brought it home on Thursday and then left on Friday for Colorado! We haven’t even gotten the title yet, so we haven’t gotten tags and we haven’t gotten insurance on it. It might another week once my honey gets back before I can start driving it 😦 Oh well! It’s fun to look at in the driveway for right now!


What a week + new recipe

I haven’t been this glad it’s Friday in a long time! It has been such a crazy week for both me and my honey. We have both had something every evening after work, and it is just exhausting.

Lucky for me, I’m taking today off! Unfortunately, my honey can’t do the same and he is the one who really needs a break.

He will get a break soon enough though because Christmas vacation starts next Wednesday! We will both have 13 whole days away from work!!!! We are definitely counting down the days 🙂

Tomorrow we are traveling down to Radford to see my brother-in-law graduate from college. It’ll be fun to go back there because my honey and I met there! We’ve only been back once since I graduated with my Master’s in 2008 and that was for our one-year wedding anniversary in June 2010.

As for today, I have a ton of things planned, but I highly doubt I will get to all of them. The main few things I need to work on are:

  • decorating our Christmas tree (we have lights on it, but no ornaments!)
  • making our Christmas card (this is our third Christmas since we got married and we still haven’t done a card!)
  • clean off the kitchen table
  • do some laundry
  • pack for our trip tomorrow
  • possibly bake some sugar cookies with homemade frosting…still developing the recipes, but I’m so excited and will definitely share!
  • work out (I plan to do a little more wood splitting in addition to my run!)


I’m excited to share this recipe today because I used to think it was impossible to make this at home. After my chiropractor suggested it to me last winter when my honey was sick, I tried it and have never gone back to the canned stuff!!

There’s a reason people eat chicken soup when they are sick: it is incredibly good for you! This is mainly from the broth, and like most things, homemade is best! For a really in-depth look at why homemade broth is so good for you, check out this article by Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats (I HIGHLY recommend this book! I refer to it, and healthy fats, in this post).

Homemade Chicken Soup with Rice (Makes 10-12 servings)

  • one 3-5 lb whole chicken (organic if possible)
  • 3 or 4 quarts of water (enough to just barely cover the chicken)
  • 2 large carrots
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1 medium onion
  • salt
  • pepper
  • dried parsley
  • dried thyme
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice

1. Fill large stockpot (I use an 8-qt) with water. Turn heat on high.

2. Rinse off chicken and remove any innards. Place chicken (with skin still on) in the water and let come to a boil. Let it boil for 20 minutes.

3. While chicken is boiling, dice up the carrots, celery and onion. Add veggies to pot and stir around.

4. Add seasonings to your liking. Go heavy on the salt and parsley and taste before adding any more. Go light on the thyme because it is pretty strong.

5. Let everything simmer for about 20 more minutes or until everything is tender.

6. Turn off the heat and remove chicken from pot onto a large cutting board. Remove as much meat as you can with a knife and a fork. Shred the chicken to desired size pieces. Return the meat to the pot.

7. Add the cooked rice to the pot and stir around.

8. Serve hot with your favorite gluten-free crackers.

This recipe makes a lot of soup! After you put the leftovers in containers, put the chicken carcass back into the stockpot to make some broth. Following Sally Fallon’s recipe, add some more carrots, celery and onions, plus a little vinegar. Then pour in enough water to cover everything and bring to a boil. Let simmer for a few hours.

You can freeze this broth and use it in other recipes and soups. It’s much cheaper than buying broth from the store because you get one chicken soup recipe, plus lots of broth for under $10! I’ll sometimes not make the soup from the chicken, but instead use this method to cook my chicken to shred for other recipes. Then I will use the carcass to make the broth. It’s a win-win all around!

Have you ever made your own broth?

My favorite throw-together meal

When I am short on time in the evenings, this is my favorite recipe for a complete meal. You can make some of the ingredients ahead of time, or you can make everything all at once.

Rice, chicken and veggies (Makes 4 servings)

A warm, filling and comforting meal for the cold weather.

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cups liquid, I used chicken stock and water
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice
  • 2 cups diced, cooked chicken
  • veggies of choice, but I recommend broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • prepared sauce of your choice, I used a thai peanut sauce

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan.

2. Add the diced onion and the rice. Stir to coat with butter and let ‘fry’ for a minute, stirring constantly.

3. Add the liquid and cover with a lid. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30-45 minutes or until rice is done.

4. Once rice is finished cooking, steam your veggies.

5. In a small saute pan, melt a little coconut oil.

6. Add the rice and saute for a few minutes, then add the veggies and chicken. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

7. Drizzle with desired amount of sauce and stir to coat. Cook until everything is warmed through.

8. Serve to your hungry honey 🙂

Last night, I cooked some extra chicken so I would have it ready for tonight. If I had been thinking (and not cooking a totally different meal!) I would have made the rice last night too. You could also make a big batch of rice on the weekend to save you lots of time with this recipe. This recipe could be done so many different ways with lots of different sauce/seasoning variations. I actually like garlic salt and freshly grated Parmesan cheese on mine. Find what works for you and enjoy!
Off to snuggle on the couch with my honey and a warm mug of hot chocolate with kahlua 🙂

Two Recipe Tuesday Trainer

It’s been nice taking one thing off of my plate for the past week by not blogging, but I sure do miss the interaction with all of you wonderful friends! It’s good to be back!

Last week, my honey bought me a cookbook at his school’s bookfair, and I was inspired by it to make one of today’s recipes. The other recipe is really not much of a recipe, but rather just some good ingredients thrown together on a whim.

Shepherd’s Pie (Makes 6 servings)

This delicious all-in-one meal can be made ahead of time, or prepped in steps like I did. It can also be customized to include whatever veggies you have on hand.

  • 2 tbsp butter or oil
  • 1/4 small onion, diced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 cup beef broth
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • a few drops of Texas Pete
  • a pinch of garlic salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 lb white potatoes
  • butter, salt and milk, as much as desired
  • 1/2 lb green beans, cut in half
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • cheddar cheese

1. Heat a medium skillet and melt butter or oil.

2. Add the onions and saute until translucent.

3. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Drain any excess fat and return to pan.

4. Add the broth, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Texas Pete, garlic salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Let cook until it thickens up a bit.

5. Make mashed potatoes using the white potatoes, butter, salt and milk. Add any additional spices you’d like to jazz it up a bit!

6. Steam the green beans and diced carrots until just barely tender (they will cook more in the oven, so you don’t want them to get too cooked). You could also use broccoli, corn, peas or other veggies you have on hand.

7. Preheat the oven to 400*.

8. Layer the ingredients in a baking pan starting with the ground beef. Add the veggies on top, followed by the mashed potatoes.

9. Sprinkle generously with cheese and bake until the cheese is melty and bubbly!

I made this recipe in parts over a few days. One night I chopped the veggies and put them in the fridge. Another night I made the ground beef (I made a double batch and used the other half of it in chili). The night I actually baked the casserole, I made the mashed potatoes. This was super tasty and very filling. The leftovers were perfect to pack in lunches!


I had my first ever garden this year (I plan to share about my bounty later this week!), and although it didn’t go as well as I hoped, I still ended up being able to eat a lot of veggies from my own front yard. The one veggie I learned I can’t screw up is the bell pepper. We planted a few red pepper plants, but only one pepper made it to the red stage. The rest of them were used when they were still green. We also had jalapenos that grew abundantly.

To be completely honest, I don’t like peppers! Why did we plant peppers then? Well, we were just given a bunch of seedlings for lots of different veggies in May and I didn’t ask many questions. Fortunately, my honey loves pretty much anything, so he was happy to eat the peppers.

When I was running low on creative dinner ideas last week, I whipped this up and to my surprise, he absolutely LOVED it!

Chicken with garden peppers (Makes 1 serving)

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 green bell peppers, cut into thin strips
  • 1 jalapeno, cut into thin strips
  • 1/4 onion sliced into thin strips
  • 2 boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup brown rice, cooked

1. Heat a skillet and melt the butter and oil.

2. Add the peppers and onions and saute until semi-soft.

3. In the same pan, sear the chicken thighs on each side. Then leave in the pan until no longer pink in the middle. (I covered my skillet with the lid and turned off the heat.)

4. Serve over the brown rice.

Seriously, my honey loved this super quick and easy meal! I have made it three times now and he still isn’t sick of it. I just picked about 6 more green bell peppers, so he should expect it a few more times before next week 🙂


Once again, it is Tuesday, so pop on over to Lindsay’s place to check out this week’s Tuesday Trainer- Yoga edition!

I’m super pumped about this week because I love doing Yoga. I don’t formally practice it, but I enjoy doing the poses each morning to stretch, and lots of times before bed to relax me and get ready for sleep. I submitted a few videos, so check them out!

Please note that my videos were shot in our bedroom (which I had to pick up before shooting because I didn’t want you all to know think that I was a slob :)). The reason I had to do it in our bedroom was because of this:

That’s right. My puppy got out of his house (we think my honey’s grandma forgot to lock it when she so kindly came over and let him out on Monday!) and destroyed our basement. He chewed through two rolls of paper towels, tore up some magazines, ate almost an entire bag of treats (luckily they were super healthy! Unfortunately, they were super expensive!), tore apart two of my resistance bands, AND chewed off the handles of my only jump rope!!!!

My honey sent me this picture from his phone with the message “crap.” Needless to say, I couldn’t do my workout in my workout space, so I headed up to our bedroom.

I hope you enjoy the Yoga workout this week!!

Day off

I’m taking the day off tomorrow and couldn’t be more excited! Last week I spent most of Saturday at work, and then had to work late on Monday night. Luckily I get to take that extra time and make it into a whole day off.

My plan is to be in the kitchen as much as possible and to also work on my recipe page for the blog. I’ll be making a new cookie recipe tomorrow and will hopefully share it if it turns out okay!

I’ll also be making a dish for a big event on Saturday. My honey’s family has been doing an Apple Butter Festival for years and years. It is truly my favorite time of the year and when the weather is nice, it is my favorite day of the year 🙂

This is where it is held…my honey’s aunt and uncle’s farm about 10 miles down the road from us in our small town.

I can’t wait!

Day off

While I was in the shower yesterday, I decided that I needed a day off. I have been going nonstop since the beginning of August and just haven’t felt like I’ve had a break. Even though I had the house to myself Tuesday and Wednesday evening, I still wasn’t able to get all the things on my list done. Thus, I needed a whole day in the house by myself in order to check those things off!

So when I got into work yesterday, I called my boss and told her of my need for a day. She totally understood because she’s been going nonstop right along with me all month.

Yay! Now I’ve got a 3 day weekend! It would be nice if it were a 4 day weekend, but alas, I must continue to labor on Labor Day.

So, what is the first thing most people do on their day off? Sleep in.

Not this girl!


I woke up to flashes of lightning and the crack of thunder around 4:15am. Immediately I put my sleeping mask on in hopes of falling back asleep because it looked like there was a strobe light on outside our bedroom windows. However, no dice. I tossed and turned and then the rain came. It rained harder than I have ever heard it rain before! I was too lazy to get up out of bed to check it out though. Again, I tossed and turned and couldn’t quite fall back asleep.

I finally got up at 5:45am (which actually is sleeping in for me!) to let the dog out. It was still sprinkling and definitely still lightning and thundering. My poor pup was scared! He actually growled at the lightning one time. Yeah, like that’s going to make it go away, Titan!

I then made my honey breakfast. On my day off, why did I do this? Because I’m an awesome wife. I also packed his lunch…who knows what he would have eaten at school! I sent my honey out the door with a kiss and the dog was put back in his house, so I took me a nap. I didn’t quite fall back asleep, but it felt good to just lay down for another hour or so.

My list had grown over the week of things that I needed to do, so I set out about checking things off that list.

I found an awesome app earlier in the week for my Mac called Wunderlist. What’s nice is it also has a web app so I can also use it from work and it will sync automatically. It’s a place for me to keep my to-do lists and I can easily organize them into different categories, like work and home.


This thing is amazing! Once you check a task off, it will move to the bottom and have a big line through it. That way you can see what all you’ve accomplished for the day. I used to keep to-do lists in Evernote. While I absolutely love Evernote for being able to keep track of recipes and to keep a daily food journal, it isn’t the greatest for lists. I highly recommend both apps if you have a Mac or a smartphone.

Anyways, let’s review what I’ve gotten done today:

  • 3 loads of laundry
  • 1 load of dishes
  • Made dishwasher detergent
  • Shaved my legs (this was quite an accomplishment seeing as how it had been at least a week…)
  • Plucked my eyebrows (who knows when the last time that happened!)
  • Took the nail polish off my toenails
  • Peeled and sliced peaches for smoothies, oatmeal and cobblers 🙂
  • Made Larabars
  • Ate lots of granola bars
  • Took Titan to the vet- he weighs 75lbs which is less than we thought!
  • Made a list of meals I can make with ingredients I have on hand
  • Made a workout plan for the weekend
  • Did an Insanity cardio workout- it was insane and I’ll be feeling it tomorrow
  • Did some e-mails
  • Read some blogs
  • Posted about my day

I would say I was quite productive today! I still have things on my list, but I’ll have time this weekend to do them.

Now, I’m heading to the county fair! My honey is working in the Ruritan stand selling less than healthy food. It is pretty spectacular tasting and the fries are from potatoes grown in our town, but this gal is eating some Cheesy Mexican Rice Casserole at home beforehand.

I might cave in and get some of the ice cream they have there though… 🙂

Do you have a county fair where you live? 

Family Reunion- part 2

First off, I haven’t quite started my detox yet…we had a cookout at work and I couldn’t resist! For dinner though, we had some leftovers from Saturday night, so I had more chicken, tater salad and pasta salad (recipes to come tomorrow!!).

Onto the weekend! In case you didn’t know, cooking for 25 people requires just a little bit of work! Although the recipes I made were pretty easy, it still took awhile to do it all. Luckily on Friday, my mom brought two of my dad’s cousins to our house and they helped chop veggies which cut my work in half! I also prepped the cheesy rice and broccoli bake on Friday evening and just had to bake it on Saturday. I was able to whip up the two salads in just a few hours (peeling hard-boiled eggs takes longer than you think!), so I headed to the pool once I was in a good place. I left the kitchen a mess though, so I knew I couldn’t stay too long.

Living out in the country, there aren’t any pools around so I take advantage when I can. It was so awesome to hang out with my mom, sister-in-law and niece, plus a few other family members.

Who wouldn’t enjoy time at the pool with this adorable little girl?!?! 🙂

Okay, enough baby pictures. Okay, not really, there will be more 🙂

After pool time, I headed home to help my honey get the house ready for the family. Luckily he’s so wonderful and he had already picked up the extra tables and chairs we needed. I quickly showered, did a massive amount of dishes, then got all of the food out and ready.

The guy who barbecued the chicken had arrived around 3:30pm to set up and get started. He makes the chicken on site and uses his own sauce and spices to season it. If I hadn’t been so rushed to get everything else set up, I definitely would have taken some pictures!

Because I like to be sustainable, I decided against using paper plates and silverware; therefore, I needed some dishes. As I might have mentioned before, my in-laws live a mile away. They are out of town right now, so I knew they wouldn’t need their copious amount of dishes. Since I only have a 6-place setting of my own, I ran up there and grabbed their pretty red and black plates to set our tables with. (Thanks, Nancy!!)

After getting all of that set up, people started arriving!

Blue-eyed blonde haired babes 🙂

A proud great-grandad!

I was playing hostess, so I didn’t get to snap pictures of people milling about and eating, but I did manage to capture some after we were done eating. One of our family members is a preacher, so he led a little service for us as he does every year.

This one was extra special because he said a few words about Ally. He had all four generations of my family get up there to say a prayer over her. How awesome that we had four generations there?!

Grandad and Grandmother (my dad's parents), my dad, Nick, Jessi and Ally, and my momma!

After that, we had a little entertainment courtesy of my brothers. My little brother played “Carnac the Magnificent” and my older brother played his assistant (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’re not alone! This was definitely better understood by the older crowd!).

So basically ‘Carnac’ would take an envelope and guess what was in it. They were silly sayings and most of them got a good laugh!

My mom wrote most of the ‘jokes’ and it was all pretty funny! We had a great time laughing together!

We all hung out for a little longer after the ‘show’ was over. We were able to give a tour of our house and answer lots of questions about it. Finally people made their way out around 10:30pm. My honey and I were pooped, but I felt good because all of the plates, cups and silverware were in the dishwasher! The rest of the kitchen was a mess, but at least I didn’t have to worry about all that!

All in all it was quite the success! All 25 people had enough food and we even ended up with a little bit of leftovers 🙂 Off to enjoy them now!!

Part 3 of the reunion to come on Wednesday! Beautiful pictures of our hike will be shared.

What fun games do you play with your family?