Homemade Frozen Chicken Burritos

Hold the phones, people. I am posting a RECIPE!!

Back when this blog was born, I was pretty much posting at least one recipe a week, with very few posts dedicated to fitness and even FEWER dedicated to running any distance further than 2 miles. Oh how things have changed

To tell you the truth, when I started blogging, I was working a job that wasn’t extremely demanding time or energy-wise, and I actually had enough spare time some days to write or read blogs at work, or at least browse Pinterest for recipe ideas. I was also living at home with my parents in those early blogging days, where I had access to a much better stocked kitchen.

So when I got home from work, I was stoked to test out the recipes I had seen that day, or experiment with whatever I had in the kitchen.

However, as I’ve expressed before, lately all I have the strength or ambition to muster up for dinner when I get home is a plate of cheese and crackers with some green stuff (sometimes) and a glass of wine. Continue reading

Meatless Monday: Curry Chickpea Patties

Hey y’all! Hope you had a great weekend!

I have a serious case of the Mondays today…like we’re talkin hit the snooze button 4 times, get out of bed, take a shower, then get back into bed until the last possible second kind of case of the Mondays.

Before I send you guys off to my delicious recipe, I’ll share a couple of quick photos from the weekend – it was a great one!

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I kicked Saturday off with a long FAST run that was cut short – I was running late [no pun intended, har har!] for ultimate frisbee practice and really had to pee, so instead of running home I just stopped at Yvette’s place and we shot over to practice frisbee with our team!

Later that evening, Kristin and I represented Team America at the Beer Olympics! I didn’t do great at most any of the events, but it was still a fun time — I think our Chuck Norris trucker hats at least gave us spirit points!

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If Saturday was about sports, Sunday was about FOOD! Scott hosted brunch and Yvette found a recipe for French toast roll ups (stuffed with strawberries and Nutella) that was a Pinterest win!

Then I grabbed a Lyft to my parents’ neighborhood to see Alex, who was in town from NYC. We all BBQ’ed and he made me a bacon-wrapped hot dog. Score! Also, Mike & I had a photoshoot because we realized that our hair is currently the same length. #twinsies!

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ANYWAY, after a weekend of lots of activity, but also lots of indulgence, I always crave healthy clean eats to get my system re-energized. That’s why I’m bringing you a Meatless Monday post today!

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These curry chickpea patties are SO flavorful, and they’re healthy to boot! Lots of protein and fiber in these guys. Plus the leftovers are perfect for reheating and bringing for lunch — see above 😉

However, to get the recipe, you’ll have to shoot over to Becky’s blog, where I’m guest posting today!

Do you bring your lunch to work? What’s your favorite tip for avoiding eating out?

 

Mango-Macadamia Granola Bars

So it’s no secret that since I’ve started eating “healthy” – or whatever – I’ve become a breakfast eater.

My breakfast game was at its all time peak during my couple of months of unemployment late last year when I got to make breakfast at home every morning. Toast, eggs, cheese and salsa, yessssss #allthethings

HOWEVER, that’s unfortunately not the norm. I usually eat Greek yogurt and a little somethin’ somethin’ on the side. What that somethin’ somethin’ entails changes from week to week… I have made skinny muffins. I’ve made protein muffins. I love muesli…and I even made muesli bars.

For this week’s What I Ate Wednesday, I’m sharing what I’ve been eating for breakfast lately:

The past few weeks, I’ve been eating homemade granola bars!

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You’ll notice that, unlike my other breakfast muffins and bars, there is no “skinny” or “protein” in the title of this recipe.

That’s not to say they aren’t healthy! Made primarily of oats, uncooked quinoa, and flaxseed, they’re leaps and bounds better than any processed bar you’ll find in the supermarket. Plus they have a LOT less added sugar (only 3 tbsp of honey for the entire batch!).

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But they’ve also got a fair amount of nut butter…and chocolate.

The point of these granola bars isn’t that they’re low cal, or fat free. It’s that they are full of nutrient dense foods that are good for you, and some healthy fats that make them DELICIOUS.

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Plus, mango + macadamia nuts + coconut = tropical summer vacation. Am I right?

Mango-Macadamia Granola Bars
adapted from Cooking Light’s Cranberry-Pistachio Energy Bars
makes 9 bars

1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup quinoa, uncooked
1/4 cup dried mango, chopped
1/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded or flaked
1/4 cup flaxseed meal (or just grind up flaxseed!)
1 oz chocolate (chips or chunks)
1/4 cup almond butter or peanut butter
3 tbsp honey
1/2 tbsp coconut oil

Note: This is an extremely flexible recipe. I’ve also made it with pepitas and dried cranberries. Use whatever kind of dried fruit, nuts, nut butter, or oil you want!

Preheat oven to 350* F. Arrange oats and uncooked quinoa on a baking sheet and bake until slightly toasted and starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, combine mango, macadamia nuts, coconut, chocolate and flaxseed meal. Once cooled, add oats and quinoa.

In a stovepot, mix nut butter, honey, and coconut oil. Heat to a boil, whisking constantly. Boil for 1 minute and add to oat/nut/coconut mixture. Add to a greased 8×8 inch pan and bake at 350*F for 12 minutes, or until starting to brown.

Let cool before cutting into 9 squares. Eat at room temperature or cooled…the squares will keep for 1 week in the fridge!

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What is your breakfast go-to?

Healthy Grocery Shopping on a Budget

New Years Resolutions…Such a divisive topic. Around the first of the year in 2013, I set myself a few Fitness Goals for the year and checked in occasionally (see my last check-in in September here) to see how I was doing. Having a blog and stating my “resolutions” publicly for the internet to see definitely made me more likely to hold myself accountable.

If you read my About Me, you’ll see that I call myself a 20-something on a budget. When I wrote that, I basically figured that since I didn’t make much money, and didn’t spend a ton each month, I considered myself to be living “on a budget”.

Welp, it may not have been before, but that’s about to become literal, folks.

Next week, I start a paid internship, and although it is exactly the job duties and experience that I’m looking for, it pays a little less than I’m used to making. 1/3 less, to be exact…and teetering close to California’s minimum wage. So instead of fitness goals, I’m resolving to establish a monthly budget for myself – and actually follow it!

Because I don’t own a car, I don’t have to worry about a lot of the costs associated with a vehicle, like gas/insurance/parking/repairs. Our rent is on the pricey side for Midtown Sacramento, but my roommate and I are pretty frugal when it comes to utilities and internet bills.

The budget about which I am going to have to be more wise from here on out is my food budget. (OK, and no more shopping sprees on my Macy’s Credit Card…)

I constantly hear that eating healthy is not only more time consuming, but also more expensive than just relying on fast food or pre-packaged/processed meals. I’m here to prove that while the first half might be true, it is absolutely doable to eat healthy on a budget! Here is the monthly food budget that I’ve established for myself:

foodbudgetMy average monthly food spending in 2013 (including groceries, bars, and restaurants) was about $425, with almost 1/4 of that being spent in bars each month. (Thanks, dodgeball)

I’m hoping to spend $15/week at the Farmer’s Market and $15/week at the grocery store. I rarely spend more than $20 at the Farmer’s Market, and the only times I’ve gotten close were when I’ve bought flowers (#TreatYoSelf!). If I do most of my shopping at Grocery Outlet and use coupons at Safeway, that will be plenty. An extra bit of miscellaneous spending money in case I run out of anything during the week or want to treat myself to a bottle of wine or nail polish from CVS will provide a safety net. (again…#TreatYoSelf)

Going out is another area where I can save a lot of money. I will be limiting myself to $10/week at the dodgeball bar (which is actually almost 3 drinks + tip!) that I frequent twice a week, and $10/week to spend on other evening activities, such as other bars, movies, ice skating, etc.

Finally, I am limiting myself to $20/week in eating out expenses. This is actually a generous allowance, since I don’t eat out often.

You’ll notice there’s not a lot of extra money allowed for alcohol. That was no accident…I’m just trying to follow through on improving my lifestyle for maximum Half Marathon success!

Now…for this week’s groceries.

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Before I go into what I bought, let me tell you what I already had in my fridge & pantry. I was pretty low on perishable goods, since we were gone to Oregon for 4 days.

ALREADY HAD:

1/2 bunch kale
1/2 head broccoli
tub of farmer’s market salsa
pasta
onions
quinoa
old fashioned oats
candy/chocolate/etc leftover from christmas
half a dozen protein bars
chocolate peanut butter spread
crackers
a few wedges of Laughing Cow cream cheese
frozen tilapia filets
frozen fruit
most other pantry staples (garlic, ginger, oil, vinegar, butter, etc)

Here’s what I bought:

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How epic is that 2 lb bucket of hummus for just $2.58?! Thank youuuu Grocery Outlet! Unfortunately it expired yesterday, lol, so I’ve gotta eat it fast!

Since I have enough bread and beans to last me for a couple of weeks, next week I’ll probably stock up on tortillas and almond milk instead. It’s all about divvying up the staples between grocery trips!

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And to finish, here are some ideas of meals I will be eating with these groceries and what I already had:

Breakfast

Toast with hummus or Laughing Cow wedges or chocolate PB
Eggs and cheese (with or without toast)
Breakfast nachos
Oatmeal with frozen fruit
Toast with eggs

Lunch

Stir fry (brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower) and toast
Salsa, eggs & stir fry veggies
Grilled cheese sandwich

Snacks

Protein shakes with frozen fruit
Chips and salsa
Hummus and chips/crackers
Cheese and crackers

Dinner

Tilapia with sauteed greens
Cauliflower soup
Black bean soup
Moar stir fry (it’s my fave)
Roasted acorn squash stew

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Now if I could just tackle the whole “it takes too long to cook and eat healthy” part… Looks like I am going to get back into the Sunday Food Prep routine come next week!

Would you be able to live on $30/week for groceries? (Assuming you’d only be shopping for yourself)

I already asked this yesterday, but how do you keep track of your budget? I downloaded Pocket Expense to use for now, but have heard good things about Mint as well.

What I Ate Wednesday – Breakfast Edition

Happy Wednesday! We’re almost over the hump! Although these days the days and weeks are all starting to blend together for me, especially with last week’s holiday. Read on to find out why, and to find out how it inspired today’s What I Ate Wednesday post 🙂

Continue reading

What I Ate Wednesday – Breakfast Edition

Happy Wednesday! We’re almost over the hump! Although these days the days and weeks are all starting to blend together for me, especially with last week’s holiday. Read on to find out why, and to find out how it inspired today’s What I Ate Wednesday post 🙂

Continue reading

Monday Night Football Feast — Week 4

OK, bear with me here friends, I know we’re going back in time a little bit. We did just finish Week 11 of the NFL season, after all.

However, I promised more updates on our MNF Feasts, and a separate post on what I made for New Orleans week. So here we are!

Sadly, since our epic Italian/New York feast I have missed a few weeks, but I’m back at it tonight so I decided now was a better time than any to share another example of a dish I’ve brought to the table!

On the 4th week of Monday Night Football, the New Orleans Saints took on the Miami Dolphins in New Orleans… And I took on BEIGNETS!

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I felt pretty confident about making the dough for beignets, since I use yeast when I make my pizza dough, and I’ve made sweet yeasty creations before (OMGGGG I can’t wait to make Braided Lemon Bread again)… So bringing the dough together was pretty simple.

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Where it differed was in two ways: first of all, I rolled out the dough and cut it into rectangle-ish squares. There was a little bit of trial and error with this when it came to cooking them because some required more/less time in the oil…but all in all it went okay.

The other reason why I was out of my comfort zone with these guys is because beignets are deep fried! I don’t think I had ever deep fried anything before making these. I pan fry stuff occasionally…but was fairly certain that I would need a trip to the burn unit of the ER after attempting these puppies, especially with my tendency to injure myself 😉

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Well, since this was almost 2 months ago and I haven’t shared any stories of 3rd degree burns…I think you all know it went fine! It took a couple of batches of 2-3 beignets to get the timing and done-ness right (we didn’t have a thermometer for the oil), but after a few tries I finally got it down and, after a heavy handed sprinkle of powdered sugar, they were delicious!

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Along with Dave’s gumbo dishes, this made for one of my favorite Monday Night Football meals yet!

Although tonight for the New England at Carolina game, we chowed down on pulled pork and jalapeno coleslaw sandwiches, fried mac n’ cheese, and chocolate lava cake. At least I know I’ll have my winter coat this November through January in the form of an added 5 pounds 😉

Beignets
based on Anne Burrell’s recipe
yields about 2 dozen beignets

3/4 cup lukewarm water
1(.25-ounce) packet active dry yeast
1/2 cup, plus 1 teaspoon sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup evaporated milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 to 6 cups peanut or other neutrally-flavored oil, for frying
Powdered sugar, for dusting
In a measuring cup combine the water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Let sit until the yeast gets frothy and smells yeasty.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and pinch salt. In another bowl, combine the egg yolks, evaporated milk, melted butter, and vanilla. Add the yeast mixture and whisk to combine well.

Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and place on the stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Once the ingredients are well combined, knead 5 minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover, and place in a warm area for 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

In a wide, deep pot, heat the oil to 350 degrees F. Set up a paper towel-lined sheet tray to land the beignets when they come out of the oil.

Remove the dough from the bowl and lightly knead on a floured work surface. Cut the dough into 2-inch squares.

Working in batches so as to not crowd the oil, fry the dough squares until they are puffy and golden brown. Remove from the oil, make a pit stop on the paper towels and immediately dust with powdered sugar.

Serve hot!

Spinach & Artichoke Stuffed Chicken Breast

CHICKEN. It’s what’s for dinner! 99% of the time.

Amiright?

Chicken was always a staple of our household growing up. Pretty much most weeknight meals at our home consisted of either chicken or pasta. When I started taking an interest in cooking, I soon realized that while chicken is one of the most readily available and easy to cook ingredients out there, it’s easy to fall into a chicken rut.

Don’t take it out on the chicken, Rachael. It’s not its fault it’s boring to eat!

There’s only so many things you can add to a chicken breast before you get sick of it. So you have to start getting creative…

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A little while back, I blogged about La Terra Fina dips and how much my roomie and I LOVED THEM.

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The Chunky Artichoke & Jalapeno was definitely my favorite of the two. It has mild chilies in it that go PERFECTLY with the cream cheese-based spread. Add in artichokes and I’m in heaven.

While I decided that the Chunky Artichoke & Jalapeno was my favorite to go at with chips or veggies, the Spinach Artichoke & Parmesan screamed RECIPE to me.  It’s a bit more smooth than the Artichoke & Jalapeno, and is delicious heated up. And thus this recipe was born.

Delicious dips + boring chicken –> miracle recipe!

Though La Terra Fina’s dips are all made of natural ingredients, are gluten free, and include no trans fat, they don’t claim to be “low-fat” or “light” or any of that nonsense.

So to keep this entree on the healthier side, I used a trick I often do when cooking chicken breasts, which is: to butterfly them and split them in half. One serving of chicken breast is 4 oz (about 140 calories)…Most chicken breasts that you buy in the store come in at nearly twice that size. Unless you’re a body builder, you probably don’t need that much protein in one sitting! Butterflying your chicken breasts makes them a healthier portion size…plus, your chicken will cook faster! With the space you save on your plate, you can load up the rest of your plate with more veggies, salad, whole grains…whatever is your jam.

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PLUS, butterflying your chicken breast makes it much easier to wrap around some delicious spinach & artichoke dip 😉 How bad can that be?

INAAAAAAA. How’d you get in there?!

Spinach & Artichoke Stuffed Chicken Breast
makes 2 small servings

1 large chicken breast, butterflied & split into 2 separate pieces
2 tbsp La Terra Fina Spinach Artichoke & Parmesan Dip (or your preferred dip)
~1/4 cup breadcrumbs
salt & pepper
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. After cutting your chicken width-wise down the length of the side of the breast and splitting into two thinly sliced pieces, season with salt and pepper. Place about 1 tablespoon of dip on the chicken breast, closer to the base of the breast. Carefully roll the chicken over the filling, using a toothpick or skewer to keep the ends closed.

Sprinkle/cover/roll chicken breast in breadcrumbs (If you want, you can coat the chicken in egg wash first, but I found it wasn’t necessary) and place on a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until done. Watch out for dip oozing out of the sides 🙂

Disclaimer: La Terra Fina provided me with dips to review/taste/develop recipes. All opinions, however, are my own!

Monday Night Football Feast – Week 7

Hey everyone! I am finally bringing you a post (potentially a series of posts) that I’ve been wanting to share for a long time now!

As many of you who follow my Instagram feed know, every week my friend Dave (HI DAVE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!) hosts Monday Night Football at his house and cooks a meal typical of whatever city is hosting that night’s game. This tradition of his isn’t new – he’s been doing it for a few years now — I’m just new to the friend group. Actually, the moment I showed up Week 1 with Beer Mac n’ Cheese in hand was probably the moment they decided I was allowed to come back haha.

Anyway, instead of kicking in a few bucks for the food, I’ve used the MNF tradition as an excuse/inspiration to challenge myself to make creative dishes to share. Here’s a few of the themes we’ve had so far and what I’ve brought:

Week 1: at Washington. Good ol’ American hamburgers & freshly cut/deep fried French fries (Dave’s contribution) and Beer Mac n’ Cheese from yours truly (one of my Cooking Bucket List items!!)

Week 2: At Cincinnati. David made breakfast pizzas with a base of Goetta, (a sausage native to Cincinnati) topped with scrambled eggs & spinach

Week 4: At New Orleans. Dave made traditional gumbo (left) and gumbo z’herbes (right), and I made and fried BEIGNETS! Those beignets might actually get their own separate post one of these Mondays.

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Week 5: at Atlanta. I actually couldn’t make it that week, but I had already made loaded mashed potatoes to go with Dave’s fried chicken and collard greens, and Landai’s peach cobbler. These guys were loaded with bacon, chives, and cheddar cheese. YUM.

Now, for week 7

We spent all day in the kitchen yesterday (seriously my happy place) preparing an Italian feast for tonight’s game, which is hosted by the New York Giants. My game plan was to make tomato sauce from scratch and two different kinds of gnocchi, and Dave prepped stuff for Caesar salad, garlic bread, and meatballs. Tonight he’ll also be cooking up minestrone soup, and grilled lamb. Needless to say…….we’re gonna have a lot of food.

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First up was the sauce! For 2 kinds of gnocchi, I decided to make 2 kinds of sauces. The first was a tomato sauce (from scratch! See my recipe here) with onions, peppers, and mild Italian sausage.

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This was probably the most time consuming item of the day. I forgot how long it takes to peel and de-seed tomatoes! It’s totally therapeutic, though.

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This is the best picture I got of my meat sauce. Saaarrrrrrry.

Next up was the gnocchi – I got regular Russet potatoes (to pair with the tomato sauce) as well as a few sweet potatoes (with which I’m hoping to pair with a mushroom cream sauce) and went to town.

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Dave actually had a ricer, which was a total luxury. The last time I made gnocchi, I used a hand grater! Here’s the riced Russet potatoes with the cooked sweet potato.

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Next it was time for the sweet potato. I think I over-cooked them, because it was a lot harder to gather the sweet potato into a dough. We decided to forgo the typical gnocchi ridges for those ones since they were too delicate, but I thought the ridges looked awesome on the regular potato gnocchi!

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And voila! Into the freezer they went, and out they came a day later!

Here’s how they looked after cooking….they were a little mushy because they thawed a bit too much before I could get them into the boiling water. But they were still delicious!

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Here’s some of the other food:

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Ravioli with Nicole’s family recipe meat sauce

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Nicole’s meat sauce with Dave’s minestrone soup stew in the back.

What’s your favorite Football Food?

Do you have any fun cooking traditions you do with friends? MNF meals, “family” dinners, etc?