Yet Another Life Update and Meal Prep

Well here we are.  The end of 2017.  I have written one blog post this year.  ONE.  For shame.

I did not intend to stop writing in this blog.  A combination of being crazy busy and probably a little writer’s block has brought me to this point.  But this blog is alive and well!

It’s been quite a year!  We’re still getting settled into our house.

A new nephew was born!

I passed the CRPS exam.

*There’s really not a very exciting photo to add here so we’ll skip that part*

My bestie got married!

The hubs and I celebrated one year of marriage.  Time sure does fly!

We celebrated by taking our Golden Retriever up to Arkansas for her family reunion.  You read that right.  HER family reunion.  We had a blast playing with all the other Goldens and getting to see some of her babies.

We also spent a few days in Eureka Springs which is a place my husband and I love.  Our Golden, not so much.  Everything was old, rickety, narrow, and haunted.  The poor thing had a hard time.

The following weekend we stayed at the hotel where we got married.  We opened the Wine Box from our Wine Box Ceremony which was super special.  We placed two cards and a box of wine in the box during our wedding ceremony.  We drank the wine and read the cards on our anniversary.  We then replaced them with a new bottle of wine and two new cards to enjoy next year!  It was so sweet to read the words of two people who were hours from getting married and enjoy them a year later.

Top Tier, Wine, Wine Box, and Cards from Our Wedding Day

We were treated like royalty in the restaurant and had the most delicious dinner.

Then we went back to our room to brave the defrosted top tier of our wedding cake.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be!  I even took a few videos of the experience.

Disclaimer: We had just finished the Wine Box Ceremony wine. Every last drop.

I was very excited about having lemon raspberry cake at our wedding but I didn’t see it being served anywhere and no one recalled eating it.  It was supposed to be in our second tier.  The baker said that she would make the top tier “baker’s choice” so we could be surprised a year later.  Imagine my surprise when it turned out that our lemon raspberry cake was living in our freezer the whole time.

Last week I took THE MOST extra holiday photos at the JC Penney Portrait Studio with my coworkers. We had the best time and I was losing it in about 90% of the photos.

This has been a super exciting year.  I am looking forward to seeing what 2018 will bring!

I will say that I need to shed some of this honeymoon weight.  Yikes.  I know the Freshman Fifteen exists…  but they need some sort of saying for the weight you gain during your first year of marriage.  First Year Fifteen?  Honeymoon Heft?  No matter what you call it, the struggle is real.

I’ve been doing personal training for the better part of the year, but my diet hasn’t exactly been the greatest.  I am definitely stronger and have more definition, but I am not quite seeing it on the scale.  I realize that the number on the scale is muscle, too.

Weight Watchers recently changed up their program to the Freestyle program.  You get fewer points each day, but they have added more zero point foods like chicken breast, eggs, beans, and turkey.  This is great for days where you have healthy food on hand, but harder on days where you just want to spend your points eating Laffy Taffy’s.  This is a real thing for me.

I’ve decided that I wanted to try to make my lunches more exciting.  Well, more exciting than a Lean Cuisine.  I come home for lunch most days and I am pretty good about not grabbing food while I’m out since that limits my time at home.  I usually heat up a Lean Cuisine or if I am feeling really fancy, a frozen meal from Trader Joe’s.

I’ve decided to consult the Pinterest gods and meal prep on the Sundays where I have the time to devote to it.  Y’all, it’s a lot of work.  Not only am I preparing healthy lunches for the hubs and I, but I am preparing dinners for the week as well.  This month has been super busy with holiday-related events.  I found that we were pretty good about eating in on the week where I already had food prepared as opposed to the weeks where I didn’t.  We spent a lot of money eating out and making bad decisions.  Looking at you, Taco Bueno.

(But also have you had Taco Bueno?  OMG.)

In order to make meal prep super fun and somewhat bearable, I bought these containers from Amazon.  They also come with super adorable little sauce cups.  This made me happier than it reasonably should have.  The containers are dishwasher safe, microwave safe, BPA free, gluten free… I don’t know, I feel like they spent a lot of time and energy selling you on qualities these containers don’t have.  Behold, the longest item name ever.

Meal Prep Containers 3 Compartment [14 Pack] & Leak Proof 1oz Sauce Cups. Microwave & Dishwasher Safe, BPA Free, Bento Lunch Box Food Containers (Alive Green)

That’s a mouthful.  I also would be curious to know how they came up with the name “Alive Green”.

In any case, I have found a few recipes that I like!  I wanted to share them with you below.

Greek Chicken Bowls from EasyPeazyMeals.com

Ingredients

Greek Chicken
    • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 3 Tbs garlic, minced (Note, adjust to preference)
    • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
    • 1 Tbs red wine vinegar
    • 1 Tbs dried oregano
    • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cucumber Salad
    • 2 English cucumbers, peeled and sliced
    • 1/3 cup lemon juice
    • 2 Tbs olive oil
    • 1 Tbs red wine vinegar
    • 1/2 Tbs minced garlic
    • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
Tzatziki Sauce
    • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
    • 1 English cucumber, finely diced
    • 1 Tbs minced garlic
    • 1/2 Tbs dill weed, or 1 Tbs fresh dill, chopped fine
    • 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
    • 1 tsp lemon zest
    • 1/2 tsp chopped fresh mint (optional)
    • Salt and pepper to taste
The Rest
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup red onion slices

Instructions

  1. In a large plastic zip bag, combine olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, oregano, greek yogurts and salt and pepper. Massage to mix.
  2. Add chicken into the bag.
  3. Massage to make sure chicken is full covered and marinate for at least 20 minutes, up to 12 hours.
  4. Drain the chicken from the marinade, discarding the marinade.
  5. In a skillet, heat some olive oil over medium-high heat.
  6. Add chicken when it is hot, and cook, flipping part way through. Cook approximately 3-4 minutes per side. Cooking time depends on thickness and size of the chicken. Cook until internal temp is 165 degrees.
  7. Remove from pan, and let cool.
  8. Once cool, cut into bite sized pieces. Just make sure you let it cool, or all the juice will run out.
  9. Meanwhile, make cucumber salad by chunking the cucumbers, and tossing in a bowl with the lemon juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, and oregano. Set aside
  10. Make tzatziki sauce by combining the Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic, dill weed, lemon juice, lemon zest in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper. And add mint (optional)
  11. Refrigerate while assembling your bowls.
  12. Cook brown rice according to package directions. When finished cooking, divide between meal prep containers, 1/2 cup in each container, halve cherry tomatoes, and mix with red onion slices. Divide amongst the bowls.

This was delicious and super filling!  I ended up reheating the chicken and brown rice and just mixing it all together with the salad and tzatziki sauce.  The only other thing I would suggest adding is some feta cheese!

Beef & Broccoli from Life Made Sweeter

INGREDIENTS

  • 10 – 12 ounces (about 3/4 lb) flank steak or sirloin, trimmed of fat, very thinly sliced against the grain
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • water, for blanching broccoli (omit if not blanching)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 3 1/2 cups of broccoli florets (about 1 head)
  • For the beef marinade:1 teaspoon cornstarch
    • 1 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce or Tamara
    • 1/4 teaspoon dark soy sauce 
    • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
    • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • For the sauce1 1/2 tablespoons oyster flavored sauce
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce or tamari
    • 1/4 teaspoon dark soy sauce (optional but recommended)
    • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, or 1 teaspoon raw honey (I used imitation honey)
    • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon Mirin Chinese cooking wine or Dry Sherry 
    • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
    • salt and black pepper, to taste
    • 1/3 cup cold water or sodium free chicken broth for extra flavor (plus more as needed to thin out the sauce

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Marinate the beef: In a medium bowl, mix together all of the ingredients for the marinade. Add the beef slices and stir until coated. Set aside for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile blanch the broccoli: (skip if not blanching) In a large non-stick saute pan or wok on high heat, bring the water to a boil. Add the broccoli florets and cook for about 30 seconds. Drain and immediately rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
  3. Make the sauce: Combine all the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. Heat cooking oil over high heat, for about 2 minutes – using the same non-stick pan or wok you used for your broccoli. The pan needs to be hot enough that you start seeing a little bit of smoke rising.
  5. Quickly add the beef to the smoking pan and spread the pieces out to a single layer allowing them to sear and brown. Add the garlic and continue cooking until the meat is no longer pink (about 1-2 minutes making sure not to over cook). Pour in the sauce, stirring constantly, until the sauce boils and thickens – about 30 seconds. Add more water if needed to thin out sauce. Quickly stir in the the broccoli and toss everything together to coat well. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped green onions if desired. Serve hot over rice or noodles.

I’ve made this one a couple times now and it’s delightful!  It will definitely help satisfy a Chinese takeout craving!

Turkey Meatloaf

INGREDIENTS
1 lb 93/7 Ground Turkey (I used the 99/1 Turkey)
1 Large Egg
1/2 Cup Green Onions, chopped
1/2 Cup Onions, chopped
1/3 Cup BBQ sauce or ketchup
1/4 Cup Oat Flour or Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs
2 Tbsp Garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp Olive Oil or Coconut Oil
1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme
1 Tsp Black Pepper
1 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tsp Salt
Cooking Spray
Optional: 2 Trinidad Pimento Peppers, chopped (a variety of Capsicum chinense) (I didn’t add these because the market was a madhouse and I was being lazy)

METHOD
1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Heat oil in skillet on medium heat.  Add green onions, onions and pimento peppers; sautee for about 5 minutes.  Add thyme and garlic; cook for about 1 minute.  Place cooked vegetables in a large bowl and let cool.
3. Add ground turkey, oat flour (or bread crumbs), egg, 1 tbsp of BBQ sauce/ketchup, salt, pepper flakes and black pepper to vegetable mixture and mix well.
4. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray; add meat mixture to baking sheet and form into a loaf.  Evenly cover loaf with remaining BBQ sauce/ketchup.
5. Bake for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature is 160 F.  Let meatloaf cool for at least 5 minutes before cutting into 5 equally sized slices.

Creamed Cauliflower

INGREDIENTS
8 Cups Cauliflower florets (about 2 medium heads of cauliflower)
1/2 Cup Yellow Onions, diced
2 Tbsp Garlic, diced
1 Tbsp Fat Free Greek Yogurt (I used about 1/3 cup)
1 Tbsp Parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tsp Honey (I used imitation honey)
1/2 Tsp Pepper Flakes
Salt & Black Pepper to taste

METHOD
1. Prepare steamer; steam cauliflower for 12 minutes until tender.  Set aside cauliflower.
2. While cauliflower is steaming, heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic; cook for about 5-10 minutes until fragrant and onions are translucent.
3. Combine cooked cauliflower, garlic and onions in blender or food processor; pulse/blend mixture until smooth.  If you do not have an appropriate blender or food processor, try using a masher or fork to mash and whip the cauliflower.
4. Transfer creamed mixture to a large bowl; stir in greek yogurt, honey, pepper flakes, parsley, salt and black pepper.

Y’all… this recipe was LIT.  I don’t even know if I have the authority to use this term at the age of 31 nor do I believe I have even used it properly, but if there was a time to be awkward and use it, it would be for this recipe.

This recipe doth be lit.” – My Husband

OMG, this was so good.  I grew up having meatloaf and mashed potatoes as my comfort food and this really hit the spot.

I also snuck about a tablespoon of butter into the cauliflower because how bad can a tablespoon of butter across four servings really be.

I didn’t see the instructions for the green beans so I improvised.  I steamed them in the microwave for about 3 minutes.  Then I tossed them in some olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper and sautéed them on the stove over mediums heat until they seemed roasty.  A very technical term.

I’ll keep you posted as I come across more recipes I like.  I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend!

Thanks for stopping by!  See y’all next time…

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