Chinese Beef with Broccoli

SubstandardFullSizeRender

Well, my bracket is #(*$(*%$.  Anyone else’s?  Full disclosure, I had Syracuse going down after their second game, and am now going down for it.  All of my ‘Cuse friends are hardcore-shaming me for “not believing,” but come on.  Really?  Did we REALLY see this coming?!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool and all, but I never fill out my brackets due to personal ties.  I grew up in Syracuse (for the most part), and I’m awesome, but that doesn’t exactly equate to the basketball team going all the way.  I went to Tennessee, and L-O-V-E the Vols, but they are horrific on the court.  I made my peace with that long ago.  I am super competitive, and when it comes to winning a bracket or showing that I am a true fan, I’m going with the teams that have the better track records.

That being said, thanks a lot, Kansas.

So, since the big weekend’s coming up, there’s a good chance we are going to either eat out or order in.  One of my all-time favorite to-go meals is Chinese beef with broccoli.  It’s so flavorful and filling, and it’s not fried, so I don’t feel too icky; however, it’s still pan-seared in a ton of oil, so it’s not exactly health-conscious.  My solution:  make your own!  I made this when I was craving some take-out, and it did not disappoint. Make sure you use a decent cut of beef, so your dish will be tender.  Enjoy with a side of brown rice.  Your fortune:  You will not feel bloated and sluggish. Continue reading

Quinoa Bowl with Goat Cheese and Avocado

IT’S HERE.  THIRTY.  3-0.

the jury is still out on how I feel about leaving my 20’s, but I’m working overtime to stay positive.  Anyway, on my birthday last year, I unveiled the list I created several years ago entitled, “To Do by 30!”  Let’s take a gander once more:   Continue reading

Quick Chicken Salad with Avocado

FullSizeRender

In my last entry, which felt like a century ago, I talked about my recent life reflections, and how I am attempting to prioritize my life. I came up w 3 categories: the must haves, the nice to haves, and the let it goes.  I spent some time discussing the let it goes in my life, and so far am happy with the list.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been doing a lot more reflecting (or cooking) because I’ve been so consumed w my job lately (both the work itself as well as the incessant worry of it). When you suffer from OCD, you perseverate like whoa:  if something is pressing on me, it consumes my thoughts to pretty much a debilitating measure.  In short, I’ve been a hoot to be around.
Which brings me to my next category: the must haves. My non-negotiables. Some of these will inspire some radical changes, which I am terrified about, but will be very welcome and necessary:

  • my overall health:  I know I mentioned in the “let it goes” that having the perfect body is not necessary; however, being healthy is a must.  Most notably, needing to get my stress levels under control, finding time to exercise regularly again, and focusing on making good foods a priority, regardless of convenience.
  •   sleep:  related to the first point, I am finally taking measures to get more sleep, and under healthy conditions.  I have suffered from chronic insomnia for almost 16 years.  That’s about long enough, right?
  • desire to start a family: Yeah, I know, my egg timer is ticking.  I know I’m not married, I live alone, and love my selfish lifestyle. So unless they have found a way for my awful cat and I to…. I don’t want to even finish that sentence. But you know where I’m going.
  •  being less stressed:  this isn’t a chance for me to gripe about my work or workplace (not my style); it’s a wake up call to alter the approach to my work. Attitude, confidence, strength.
  • returning to positive:  recently, a former coworker spoke to me about how positive I always was about everything, and I felt… ashamed. I know exactly what she’s talking about:  I would pride myself on how I could stay positive about everything, look at the bright side, never get knocked down.  I feel like that person is a memory, and I need to get her back.

And of course, cooking more!  I know that this isn’t exactly cooking, but it was all I had time for, and it was absolutely delicious.  I could eat this every day 🙂  Give this a try on your super busy nights for a healthy lunch tomorrow!  I used a rotisserie chicken and it was soon good.  Enjoy!   image1


Materials:

  • cutting board
  • knife
  • bowl
  • spoon

Ingredients:

  • rotisserie chicken (or left over chicken)
  • 1 avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 1 T mayo (I use olive oil mayo)
  • Pinch of lemon juice (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Chop chicken into small shreds.
  2. Place chicken, avocado, and mayo in bowl, Mix well.IMG_6181
  3. Season with lemon juice (optional), salt, and pepper.FullSizeRender
  4. Enjoy on a wrap, crackers, bread, or alone!FullSizeRender

Quick Chicken Salad with Avocado

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 5 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

FullSizeRenderMaterials:

  • cutting board
  • knife
  • bowl
  • spoon

Ingredients:

  • rotisserie chicken (or left over chicken)
  • 1 avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 1 T mayo (I use olive oil mayo)
  • Pinch of lemon juice (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Chop chicken into small shreds.
  2. Place chicken, avocado, and mayo in bowl, Mix well.
  3. Season with lemon juice (optional), salt, and pepper.
  4. Enjoy on a wrap, crackers, bread, or alone!

Balsamic-Honey Chicken

Analyzing and prioritizing.  I feel like that’s the theme of my life lately.  With my birthday looming around the corner, I am thinking about what is truly important to me right now, where my heart truly lies, what I should be pursuing, spending my energy on, etc.

The problem is, I have very little energy to even devote to this. By the end of the work day I find myself so spent, so utterly drained, that just the idea of making lists, researching ideas for improving myself, possible next chapters in my life, all the wonderfully nerdy things I love to do on a weekday evening is too much for my fried brain these days.  So that’s one priority I have:  more sleep.  A lot more sleep.

I’m also beginning to come to terms with wishes and wants from life vs the reality of life.  I’m not talking a million-dollar home with Chris Hemsworth raising pompskys.  I’m talking a few things I wished I could do before 30, and the reality of that actually happening.  Example:  I very much want to go sky-diving before my 30th birthday.  It’s not a big deal, lots of people have done this.  But I have a few weeks left, I’m busy, it’s cold, and I have no one to experience that with right now.  Excuses?  Yep, but I can live with that.

As far as goal-setting goes, that is a project that, when my energy and time are both more aligned, I am excited to take on.  Basically, the plan is to apply everything I have learned about my life experiences, my lack of experiences, and my realistic wishes and wants and sketch out some plans.  What else would I be doing at night besides talking to my cat and wishing I didn’t eat those last few bites?

This recipe was such a good find:  it’s one of those recipes that you can throw together using pantry ingredients, such as balsamic vinegar, Italian dressing, and honey.  It sounds weird, but it was just incredible!  Light, full of flavor, and it makes great left-overs!

Materials:

  • large pot with lid
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • wooden spoon
  • cooking oil (I used coconut oil for this one!)

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into inch-thick strips
  • 1/2 c cherry tomatoes
  • 2 T honey
  • 1/4 c Italian dressing
  • 1/2 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T red pepper flakes
  • 1 T garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • green beans, prepared

Directions:

  1. Heat about a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add cherry tomatoes and garlic to pan with a little water.  Cover and simmer for about 3 minutes.FullSizeRender
  3. Remove tomatoes from pan and set aside.IMG_6053
  4. Add more oil to pan.  Add chicken, red pepper, salt, pepper, and sauté for about 8 minutes on one side.IMG_6054
  5. Flip chicken.
  6. In a measuring cup, mix balsamic vinegar, Italian dressing, and honey, and pour over chicken.
  7. Continue to simmer chicken until cooked through.
  8. Add tomatoes and green beans to pan and gently stir to avoid crushing tomatoes.  FullSizeRender
  9. Enjoy!
    FullSizeRender

Balsamic-Honey Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Materials:

  • large pot with lid
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • wooden spoon
  • cooking oil (I used coconut oil for this one!)

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into inch-thick strips
  • 1/2 c cherry tomatoes
  • 2 T honey
  • 1/4 c Italian dressing
  • 1/2 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T red pepper flakes
  • 1 T garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • green beans, prepared

Directions:

  1. Heat about a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add cherry tomatoes and garlic to pan with a little water.  Cover and simmer for about 3 minutes.
  3. Remove tomatoes from pan and set aside.
  4. Add more oil to pan.  Add chicken, red pepper, salt, pepper and sauté for about 8 minutes on one side.
  5. Flip chicken.
  6. In a measuring cup, mix balsamic vinegar, Italian dressing, and honey, and pour over chicken.
  7. Continue to simmer chicken until cooked through.
  8. Add tomatoes and green beans to pan and gently stir to avoid crushing tomatoes.
  9. Enjoy!

Easy Mushroom Broth Bowl

Never live with regret.

That’s something that’s been ingrained in me since I was in junior high:  no regrets.  It’s led to some dumb decisions, a lot of YOLO moments, plenty of scars and stretch marks.  Looking back, jumping off that bridge wasn’t a smart idea.  Eating that entire cake myself was a mistake.  But overall, it’s been a blessing, and something I would and could never change.

When I look back at my life now, there’s plenty of face-palm moments, but very little anything I actually, truly regret. Our choices shape who we are, including our mistakes.  We learn from them, we grow from them.  As I continue to age (7 weeks until 30 now!), I want to look back at my life feeling proud.  Feeling accomplished.  Feeling like I lived it.

That’s what makes me so annoyed sometimes about others who don’t get this.  Assuming that you live a full life and aren’t taken suddenly (which makes this whole thing even worse), are you going to look back and say:  Boy, I wish I spent more time in front of the TV?  Who uses their last moments thinking if only I exercised less and sat around more?  Who looks back on their life of monotony with a satisfied smile, glad that they never saw the world, had an adventure, tried new things?  Perhaps the worst of all, who could ever be thankful that they were cold and unwelcoming to others (especially “Christians,”  but that’s a soapbox speech for a different day)?

I encourage… no, I URGE you, to live.  Live your life.  Try new things.  Love more.  Be a better person.  Be able to look back on your life with no regrets.

Okay, now that you’re feeling warm inside spiritually, warm your insides physically.  This is the simplest, yet perfect fall food.  Good for the soul.  Enjoy 🙂

Materials:

  • small pot with lid (for rice)
  • large pot/pan (for sauteing)
  • wooden spoon/spatula
  • knife and cutting board

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium-sized mushrooms, sliced (I used baby portabella)
  • 1 shallot
  • 1.5 cup beef broth
  • 1 c instant brown rice

Directions:

  1. In a small pot, cook rice according to directions.
  2. Thinly slice shallot.   IMG_5816
  3. In a large pot or pan (I used my Dutch oven, because it cooks evenly), heat a small amount of broth or oil.
  4. Toss shallots into large pot and cook for about 3 minutes.  Toss in mushrooms and broth.  IMG_5817
  5. Cook mushrooms, shallots, and broth for about 6 minutes, or until instant brown rice is done (mine took 10 minutes).
  6. Serve by placing rice into bowls, and pouring broth mixture over the rice. IMG_5822
  7. Enjoy!

Easy Mushroom Broth Bowl

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Materials:

IMG_5822

  • small pot with lid (for rice)
  • large pot/pan (for sauteing)
  • wooden spoon/spatula
  • knife and cutting board

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium-sized mushrooms, sliced (I used baby portabella)
  • 1 shallot
  • 1.5 cup beef broth
  • 1 c instant brown rice

Directions:

  1. In a small pot, cook rice according to directions.
  2. Thinly slice shallot.
  3. In a large pot or pan (I used my Dutch oven, because it cooks evenly), heat a small amount of broth or oil.
  4. Toss shallots into large pot and cook for about 3 minutes.  Toss in mushrooms and broth.
  5. Cook mushrooms, shallots, and broth for about 6 minutes, or until instant brown rice is done (mine took 10 minutes).
  6. Serve by placing rice into bowls, and pouring broth mixture over the rice.
  7. Enjoy!

3-Ingredient Tilapia

So… hi there.  Yeah, I’m still here.  Still dangling (God, I hate that word) from the armpit hair of life, holding my breath to avoid the stench of the hideousness that surrounds us.  Yeah, it’s been that kind of week.  Hence the reason why I have not been writing.  Or cooking.  Or cleaning.  Or bathing.

Okay, I’m not that gross, but it has been a rough run on my end.  Coming back from a vacation is always rough,  but I have had a TON on my plate to deal with in virtually every pillar of life.  Let’s take a look at the walking disaster that is me:

  • physical self – I sprained my wrist and banged up both knees falling, because I suck at walking
  • family and friends- who doesn’t have difficult situations going on with their loved ones, emirite?
  • work- ohemgee this week…. nuf said.  I can’t even.
  • dating and relationships- actually, this one’s pretty steady, but given the other three crumbling, you can see how I can be less than pleasant to cuddle up to.

I was at my breaking point.  So many small things built up to one explosive mess within myself and all I could do was spin.  Then, I caught a cold.  I thought I would officially spiral into a full-on depression, but it actually is helping me get over all of the little annoyances.  I even cooked myself something, which always makes me feel better and more useful.  I have to remember that:  when I’m feeling awful, cook.

Since I knew my workouts would suffer, I wanted to make something low-cal.  I reached into the freezer for some frozen tilapia, and made a super simple, wholesome baked fish.  Well on my way to recovery.

Materials:

  • oven-proof dish
  • measuring spoon
  • spatula
  • cooking spray

Ingredients:

  • 2-4 tilapia filets, thawed (depending on how hungry you are!)
  • 1 T garlic, minced
  • Old Bay to taste
  • dash of lemon juice, for serving (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray your oven-proof dish with cooking spray.
  3. Place your filets in the dish. IMG_5707
  4.  Season with garlic and Old Bay.IMG_5708
  5. Cook for about 5 minutes per side, until flaky and no longer opaque. IMG_5709
  6. Enjoy with a dash of lemon across the top before serving!IMG_5711

recipe title=”3-Ingredient Tilapia” servings=”2″ time=”10 minutes” difficulty=”easy”]

Materials:

IMG_5711

  • oven-proof dish
  • measuring spoon
  • spatula
  • cooking spray

Ingredients:

  • 2-4 tilapia filets, thawed (depending on how hungry you are!)
  • 1 T garlic, minced
  • Old Bay to taste
  • dash of lemon juice, for serving (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray your oven-proof dish with cooking spray.
  3. Place your filets in the dish.  Season with garlic and Old Bay.
  4. Cook for about 5 minutes per side, until flaky and no longer opaque.
  5. Enjoy with a dash of lemon across the top before serving!

[/recipe]

Zoodles

Food swap trends.  They are everywhere.  Cauliflower “rice,”  no-nut butters, facon (fake bacon… I draw the line there).  Whether it’s food allergies or diet fads, food swaps are constantly bombarding my newsfeed.  Did you hear about the new yada yayda?  It tastes just like real blah blah blah, but with 1/4 of the calories.  Yup, and does it really taste just like the real thing?  Not a chance.  But, I will never discourage folks from eating better, especially when they are making clean food swaps.

So, that brings us to zoodles.  Zoodles are simply zucchini that are cut into thin strips and cooked, to mimic noodles.  Is this an equal swap for pasta?  No freakin way.  Coming from someone who LOVES her wheat corkscrews, zoodles cannot replace the thick, wholesome, starchy goodness of real noodles.

That being said, they are easy to make, and can be swapped in place of noodles for a delicious, but different, alternative.  I wanted to experiment with this trend (don’t knock it before you try it, right?), so I whipped up a batch and served it with some store-bought vodka sauce I had in the pantry.  The result?  Really, really good!  I would totally make these again, especially when I need to cut down on the carbs.  The biggest downside is that you’ll need equipment for this one:  either a spiralizer (which I do not have, but they are very cool!), or a mandolin (which I used).  If you’re craving noodles, do yourself a favor and eat some pasta; however, if you’re open to some veggie variety, give these a go!

Materials:

  • spiralizer, mandolin, or grater that can cut zucchini into long, thin strips
  • pot or saute pan
  • tongs, spatula, or wooden spoon

Ingredients:

  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp garlic (minced)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Carefully shred zucchini into long, thin strips using mechanism of choice.FullSizeRender (9)FullSizeRender (10)
  2. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Toss zucchini, garlic, salt, and pepper into the pan.  Saute for at least 5 minutes, until tender.FullSizeRender (11)
  4. Enjoy on its own, with parmesan cheese, or with your favorite sauce!

FullSizeRender (12)


Zoodles

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 15 min
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Materials:

FullSizeRender (12)

  • spiralizer, mandolin, or grater that can cut zucchini into long, thin strips
  • pot or saute pan
  • tongs, spatula, or wooden spoon

Ingredients:

  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp garlic (minced)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Carefully shred zucchini into long, thin strips using mechanism of choice.
  2. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Toss zucchini, garlic, salt, and pepper into the pan.  Saute for at least 5 minutes, until tender.
    1. Enjoy on its own, with parmesan cheese, or with your favorite sauce!