Tag Archives: food

Thanksgiving 2013

30 Nov

This year I have countless of things to be thankful for…..but honestly I try to make being thankful a habit that I practice all year, and not just on Thanksgiving! This allows me to focus on the more important matter at hand:food.


This year was awesome!!!! Although I didn’t get to fulfill my dream of hosting a full Thanksgiving dinner in our new home (I’m sure I will someday) I did prepare a couple of dishes for dinner at my in-laws. I bought Danielle Walker’s (author of Against All Grain) e-book Thankful on a whim the other week and decided to try out a few of her recipes. I’ve made a couple of her Paleo treats before and I was a fan. Normally I pick out a few recipes from different places to try, but I knew I wanted to make green bean casserole…and then I saw the Paleo pecan pie and made the decision to try that as well. I’ve never made pecan pie…or even eaten it for that matter. It was a hit! I am planning on making it again for Christmas, but I’ll have to increase the amount of filling and decrease the amount of crust. There seemed to be a lot of crust for the amount of filling that was made. But the flavor was amazing!!!


Rolling out the dough was kind of hard- the almond flour makes it really crumbly. But it worked out!

I also made her green bean casserole, sans the mushrooms and onions to cater to everyone’s tastes. It was also a recipe I’ll make again.


We weren’t planning on it, but I also tried the recipe for homemade cranberry sauce. I have never had the canned cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving….it never looked appetizing to me. This recipe was simple enough. Although we agreed it could have used more sweetener than it called for. I was fine with it since I am used to unsweetened desserts.


The turkey was literally the best turkey I’ve ever eaten!!!! I don’t know what my MIL did but it was so juicy. My plate: turkey, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and cranberry sauce. I went back for seconds, obvi. And pecan pie for dessert.



And….it looked a lot more like Christmas than Thanksgiving over here. Winter is coming early. Wonderful….


Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. I feel like a bad blogger as I have been neglecting the blog world since I’ve been on vacation. I promise I’ll get back on track this week!

What was your favorite thing on your Thanksgiving plate?

Oven Roasted Romanesco

11 Nov

I  love when I see a new, interesting vegetable in the grocery store. I also consider it perfectly normal to drive to a town 40 minutes away so I can go to Wegmans (a fancy foodie grocery store in Upstate New York). So this Saturday, right when I entered the paradise that is Wegmans I saw a veggie I’ve been dying to try but have never seen in the grocery store I regularly go to: Romanesco. Heard of it?


It’s kind of a weird cross between broccoli and cauliflower. It just looks cool, so that means I had to get it. And I thought I’d share with you directions for roasting romanesco if it scares you! The cashier was stumped. This regularly happens to me with vegetables I buy. Things like spaghetti squash, plantains, kale…no matter what it is I feel like once a week I get a weird look and a “Um what is this?” from the grocery cashier. Does that happen to you? Moving on…

I decided to treat it just like I would cauliflower or broccoli- roast it! I love roasting veggies…. it brings such rich flavor and I can add whatever spices or fat I want.

For the romanesco,  I just cut it up like I would a regular cauliflower or broccoli and placed in a large roasting pan.


I poured over the top of it about 1/4 cup of coconut oil. You could use olive oil, butter, lard, etc.

I sprinkled with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Then I roasted them in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes or until they got that nice golden brown roasted color on the top.


Yum! The taste was more like cauliflower with an almost lemony tang to it. You should definitely try roasting romanesco if you see it at your grocery store!

What weird vegetables do you love to eat?

What things stump your cashier?

Have you ever been to Wegmans?

Grocery series part II: What to buy organic

20 Jun

In part I of my grocery series I talked about some of the groceries I regularly buy. I’m very conscious if what I put in my body, but I don’t buy everything organic, we’re on a budget! And organic doesn’t necessarily always mean better.

I prioritize when deciding what to buy organic. First are my non-negotiables:


Ever since informing myself about industrial farming, I choose not to support the practice and buy meat from the grocery store. As said before, we buy grass fed meat and chicken from a farm whenever we can. Sometimes I buy the whole circle chicken from Tops when it’s on sale.


We picked up this chicken today..it was KILLED TODAY! How’s that for fresh? Yes, we paid for the freshness too. But I just think about what I’m supporting and it’s alright. I don’t buy it that often. Like I said I settle for the natural raised at Tops a lot.

Organic or grass fed meat is pricey but in my eyes worth it. I’m not going to get into the disgustingness of industrial farming. If you’re interested the book Omnivore’s Dilemma is a good place to start. Besides, I save money other ways (more on that next in the series).

I also don’t really buy dairy for myself. I buy organic whole milk when it’s on sale or I have a coupon for Austin. I rarely get yogurt anymore since I follow a mostly Paleo diet. Everyone loves their Chobes…..but it can add up! Eggs are a must. I know $3.50 seems like a lot but I think about it like this: where else can you get four servings of protein for 3.50?

Next for the always organic is lettuce and greens like kale. They are easily contaminated.

Tier two includes fruits and veggies I may not regularly buy but try to get organic when I can

buy organic most of the time

If I feel like it’s too much and/or they don’t have it available organic,I’ll make a decision. Either get the regular or just find a different recipe.

And that’s pretty much it. Anything else,including anything on the ‘clean 15’ list I get conventional. Unless it’s cheaper/the same amount. Whole 9 has a nice little list I like to follow.

As you can see I don’t buy a whole lot organic. There have been a number of conflicting studies regarding organic and whether or not it’s even better for you, so I don’t sweat it. And no I don’t need to spend 7.00 on organic toilet paper to wipe my behind with or organic shampoo or any of that mess. Priorities!! I know for a FACT though the practices that go on in order to produce industrial meat so I’m willing to prioritize the money. Next post I will talk about saving money on organic/local food.

What makes you cave?

15 Jun

I am probably going to be able to count the nice, perfect sunny days on one hand this summer (AUGUST 2nd BEING ONE OF THEM). So later today I will be taking advantage of the sun. This ‘live it up while you can’ attitude got me thinking about things in terms of food (of course).


I (and probably many of you) have attempted “food challenges” or “diets”- whatever you want to call them, that tell you to eat a specified diet for so many days. When I try to do this I always start the week off great, aaaaand then the weekend comes.


This happened when I was doing the Whole 30 challenge. I am so good all week and then the weekend comes and something will come up. In my head will be a constant battle between two forces.

“But you feel so great being good all week” ,“It’s really not that hard to just say  no” ,“Wine isn’t going anywhere…it will be around next month too”


“Why are you even doing this? You’re skinny enough”, “YOLO”, “How often do you get to see ______________, just get what you want”, “There’s no reason you can’t enjoy yourself”

Usually, the second set of voices wins. And I end up regretting it. Usually I get back on track the next day and everything is fine. But I do suffer physical effects of indulging like bloating, sick stomach and more cravings.


Enjoying myself at Red Lobster ^^

It got me coming to the conclusion that social events and being social is the only thing that makes me ‘cave’. If it’s a Tuesday night and Austin is sitting next to me eating peanut butter fudge ice cream- I could care less. I will be perfectly content with my Carrot Cake Pudding. It’s not even an option to cheat. At all.


Seriously, go make this^^

But if it’s a Friday night and some friends ask us to a bar, I’d really rather just enjoy myself instead of sitting cooped up on my couch by myself because I can’t drink or whatever. I’ve also had a lot of wedding related functions, and I find myself saying that I need to fully enjoy these moments and not obsess over food.

And I think I just have to come to terms with that, and not feel guilty. This is what works for me- staying super strict during the week in order to enjoy myself on weekends. In my mind it’s worth it. I’d rather enjoy myself then obsess, worry and stress over not eating/drinking this or that.  My question is this- what makes YOU cave- is it stress? Emotions? Just seeing the food? Or is it a social issue like mine?

That being said- I’ll probably be enjoying some cocktails on one of the only nice days we’ve had this summer!

Grocery Series Part I: What’s in my cart?

9 Jun

I’ve decided to do a short blog series regarding my grocery shopping and food purchasing habits for anyone interested. For anyone who’s not interested….#sorrynotsorry.

This is what works for me…..remember everyone’s different. I want to start off by giving a glimpse into my typical grocery cart on Sundays. Now I say typical but I will put a disclaimer out that it was a lighter week in terms of things purchased.I still had some things left over from last week’s trip. Austin and I just went shopping Tuesday….I was pushed back a day from the previous week because of Memorial Day, so usually I would buy more than what’s here. Also, next week starts my CSA membership!!! But nonetheless I thought it would still be helpful.

The first stop was Aldi’s. Not the best for quality but it’s cheap! For those of you that don’t know…Aldi’s is a discount grocery store that sells off brands. Sometimes I get produce and snacks for Austin there but I don’t buy meat or dairy there.

Then I went to tops to pick up the rest.

Here’s the loot:



Veggies and fruit:

Baby spinach
Sweet potatoes
Green apples


Organic milk: I don’t really use this, but Austin likes whole milk. Dairy is one if the things I TRY to buy organic when possible. But I don’t really eat that much dairy. More on that in the next segment on groceries!


I am trying out this new spice blend for curries!


The brand of coconut milk I buy! No added sulfites


Canned salmon…I’ve never tried this ! I am going to make Practical Paleo’s salmon cakes with it.


It was cheaper than frozen salmon.
Chicken.. Tops had it on sale. No it’s not pastured but at least it’s antibiotic free. Vegetarian fed means nothing.













You may notice I’m lacking in other proteins…that’s because yesterday Austin and I took a drive out to the farm to pick up 10 lbs of grass fed ground beef. I also got pastured eggs at the farmer’s market yesterday. I already talked about eating local in a previous post…I’ll go into more detail in the next post of the series about organic.

Nuts- going to try and make almond milk, cashews for Austin to snack
Corn chips- NOT for me
Tomato sauce

So I spent $25 at Aldi’s and $30 at tops. Not too bad. But I spent $66 on the meat yesterday. That meat will prob last almost two months.

Normally I spend about $80 a week not including the meat. I’m not going to cut corners on what I put in my body. Normally I get more fruit, but I’m trying an experiment to see how I feel when cutting back on fruit. Can’t wait for the CSA next week!

There you have it! Next week: what to buy organic

What staples do you get every week? 

Intuitive Eating, Intermittent Fasting, and Wine

14 May

Did I lure you in with the title? I’ll start with the wine.

Sunday on the way home I finally got Austin to stop at many of the wineries in the Finger Lakes of NY that we pass by every time we drive through yet never stop. It makes me sad. So I changed that Sunday.

First stop: Fox Run Winery in Geneva, NY.

It was beautiful- but looks can be deceiving. It was a mere 45 degrees that day…..the flowers were beautiful though.



That’s Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes of NY. Here’s a map if you’re unsure where that is:


(Taken from Wikipedia)

There are over 100 wineries in this region. Riesling, my favorite white wine, is becoming a specialty of this region.

wineries 4


We tasted five wines there and ended up going with a Dry Riesling, which had a peachy, citrus-y zing at the end. Can’t wait to break into it.

fox run

Then we went to a winery  on Keuka Lake. I personally haven’t been to any on that lake so I was excited. It was called Keuka Springs.

wineries 2


Beautiful Views of Keuka Lake.

Again, we tasted about fine wines. I went with a Riesling/Vidal blend called Celebrate. When it comes to wines, I generally enjoy white wine that is JUST in the middle- not too sweet and not too dry. I’ve tried to dapple in reds but I haven’t really found one I like. It’s funny because I used to like really really sweet wines and I think my taste buds evolved because now I can’t have more than a couple sips of the sweet stuff.


Well that’s all for wine. I wanted to get some bloggers’ opinions on two topics I’ve been looking at on other blogs and researching. One being this thing called intuitive eating. In a nutshell- it’s eating when/what you feel like. Not according to some schedule, not according to what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’- just eating. Sounds easy. Not for me. Over the past year and a half I have developed what I call ‘abnormal eating’. For awhile I had a strict schedule where I ate every three hours…etc. I’m not concerned about what I eat so much as my constant worrying and obsessing over what I eat. I don’t want to be this way. I want to JUST EAT! To eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. WHY is it so hard?? It’s something I’m struggling with and trying to research if trying intuitive eating is right for me. On the other hand I don’t want to go crazy and just eat whatever I want all the time because I want to maintain my weight…but is that already too much thinking??? See???!??! Ugh!

sweet potato burgers

I generally eat healthy dinners like this- green beans and burgers with acorn squash patties.


Sometimes I have one of these if I feel like it…..

I want my body to recognize when it is hungry and when it is full. So I can stop obsessing and then eating too much on ‘cheat’ days and feeling guilty about it. I was looking up different ways to reset hunger cues and I came across intermittent fasting. This is basically when you fast for a long period of time and then have an ‘eating window’ in which you eat the same number of calories as you would if you ate all day. Not sure the logistics behind it but it came up as a way to reset our bodies’ natural hunger cues. For example many follow the 16/8 rule. Fast for 16 hours then have an 8 hour eating period. So if the last thing you ate was at 8 PM, you wouldn’t eat again until 12 pm the next day.

For me, all this means is skipping breakfast. Sounds easy enough….


Lettuce cups for dinner!!

Except when I skip breakfast I turn in to an angry beast and shove my face when I get home. So it might not be the best solution for me long term. I don’t know how people do it. Besides- I love breakfast!

Anyway, all this research isn’t doing much for my goal of putting less of an emphasis on food and not over thinking it. For now I’m just going with the flow and trying to eat clean. I’ll have to read more into it to figure out what to do, I was just hoping for your thoughts on either topic and wanted to get other blogger advice?

Do you constantly stress and worry about food?

Have you heard of either Intuitive Eating or Intermittent Fasting? What are your thoughts?

Olive a Sudden Oils

6 Feb

A very busy week has kept me absent from the blog world lately. My list of topics keeps growing- but one of the things I’m most excited to write about was the shipment of specialty oils I received from a friend in the mail this Monday.

My best friend lives in Palm Desert, California and works at this specialty olive oil shop, called Olive A Sudden (get it…heh). She always brags about what awesome stuff they have and gave me a few samples when she was home this summer which I’ve been using. But she reaaaaallllly hooked me up and enhanced my life greatly this week when she sent me a package about 13 new flavors to experiment with. Being a food geek, I am way too excited than I ought to be about oil and vinegar. You’re probably thinking like “great, why do I need flavored olive oil and vinegar?” But there are so many amazing possibilities that this stuff can add to my recipes! I can’t wait to try them all!


First, she sent me three that I personally requested. A garlic infused olive oil (since I tend to dump a decent amount of garlic into everything I make), a regular olive oil and one called harissa- which is just a super spicy oil that gives your food a kick of heat. I’m definitely a fan.



I plan to put the spicy one on things like pizza, sautéed veggies….or basically anything I want to be spicy.

Then I received two packets of small samples- more olive oils and some balsamic vinegars.


I have been using this in my salad dressing.


Drizzled this one on my pizza dough.


I am super excited about this one:


Then there’s the balsamic vinegars. Can’t wait to try them as marinades and even desserts!



I drizzled the dark chocolate over my frozen banana treat the other night….omg.

Other ones she sent were blueberry balsamic vinegar (pancakes?!??!), Blenheim Apricot white balsamic vinegar, Cranberry Pear white balsamic vinegar, and Blood Orange infused oil. Imagine the possibilities!!!! I will keep you updated on what recipes I use these in. Yes- I am way too excited about oil.


The stash.

By the way, I am not getting paid to sling this stuff or anything, but you should really check out their website!!!! Olive a Sudden

Which one would you most like to try? And does anyone have any suggestions on what I could possibly use some of these in?? I’d love to hear it!

Wedding Buffet Tasting

1 Jan

I’ve been thinking about doing this wedding post for awhile now! Finally it’s 2013 and I can really start wedding planning. According to everyone I’ve ever talked to, it’s the most stressful thing in the world. But so far I’ve loved every minute. I can imagine handing over the final check may be a bit stressful Disappointed smile


This past Saturday, I braved the blizzard-like conditions in Central New York to venture to our wedding venue city for food tasting for our wedding buffet. Yes- we’re having a buffet for many reasons including price, convenience, and timing. Don’t judge- k thanks.

It was almost a disaster, as the aforementioned blizzard conditions caused a delay in my travel.


The venue is about 45 minutes from my hometown all of which is highway driving. The steady snow made the roads rather slick and as I was driving along a tractor trailer that had just passed me jackknifed over an icy bridge. This was literally three cars in front of me. I almost watched the thing fall over the bridge. Thank God, no one was hurt and my vehicle and I stayed safe. Ugh. I HATE winter.


This open bridge where the truck hit the guardrail was causing me a bit of anxiety. Fun times!

Any how, finally traffic got moving again and slowly but surely I made it to the restaurant.

We were able to pick up to seven entrees to taste. The buffet for our wedding needs to include 1 chicken, 1 pasta and 1 seafood dish. It also includes a carved meat like roast beef or prime rib, but for obvious reasons we weren’t able to taste that meat as they were not going to make an entire rib roast for our party of 6 (my parents and my in laws joined us).

The seven entrees we chose were:

Filet of Sole with Crabmeat stuffing

Peppercorn Crusted Tilapia

Garlic Lemon Herb Chicken dusted with Seasoned Flour, Sauteed to a Golden Brown

Steak Au Poive (Beef) – Twin medallions of sirloin, sauteed with cognac, shallots, cream and peppercorns

Chicken Paupiette (Chicken) – With prosciutto ham, spinach, pepper jack cheese, roasted red pepper and finished with a creamy herb sauce

Ravioli ala Vodka (Pasta) – Jumbo cheese raviolis, vodka sauce and julienne vegetables

Penne Provencal (Pasta) – Roasted tomato, mushrooms, spinach, Italian herbs & olis, cheese and penne pasta

We also got to taste the potatoes and green beans, a salad with crumbly bleu cheese, roasted red peppers, candied walnuts and caramelized onions, and yummy cheese topped rolls.

wedding dinner

Only picture I took. I’m sorry, I’ll become a better blogger in the new year I hope. It is rather obnoxious to keep whipping out my phone at a fancy dinner. From top left: vodka ravioli, green beans, chicken paupiette, penne provencal and lemon chicken.

My favorites were the ravioli (still dreaming about it) and the lemon chicken. And the salad!


Not the best picture of us, I know, but again, I was lacking in pictures. Sorry!

After all was said and done we chose:

Ravioli a la Vodka

Garlic Lemon Herb Chicken

Peppercorn Crusted Tilapia

So if you’re coming to my wedding you can look forward to that. If not, you can look at my picture and imagine eating it. Sorry. Hope everyone is having a lovely New Year’s Day….back to work tomorrow….grin.

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

9 Dec

I knew I wanted to make a pasta dish tonight, and I had some lonely jumbo shells sitting in my pantry so I knew this recipe would be it. This recipe for stuffed shells is based off of this one from Skinnytaste, but I was missing some of the ingredients and I wanted to make it a little healthier so I could have more shells per servingWinking smile


Spinach Stuffed Shells

Serves: 2 Prep Time: 30 mins Cook Time: 40 mins

10-15 jumbo pasta shells

1 1/2 cups of part-skim ricotta cheese

1/2 cup fat free cottage cheese

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

1 egg

5 cups fresh baby spinach

2 tbsp (2 cloves) garlic

1 32 oz can of diced tomatoes (or crushed)

1 onion, chopped

1 tbsp Italian seasoning (basil, marjoram, oregano)

1  tsp garlic powder

1 tsp siracha (optional)

salt & pepper

coconut or olive oil

First, prep your ingredients by chopping your onion and garlic. Put a pot of water on to boil when ready cook the shells to al dente.

Put two sauté pans on the stove, crank to low-med heat and add your coconut/olive oil. (Depending on how good you are at multitasking, you may want to do one pan at a time….I did).

Add garlic to both pans and cook until fragrant. In one pan, add your baby spinach. In the other, add your onion and cook until translucent, about 4 mins.


Cook spinach in one pan until wilted, about 3-4 minutes. Take off heat.

Pre-heat oven to 375.

Add your tomatoes to the sauté pan with your onions and garlic. Break up the tomatoes with a spoon and add all of your spices: Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt & pepper to taste, and siracha (if you like a kick!). Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 15 minutes. ****You could obviously use canned spaghetti sauce for this, but I prefer making my own. It’s so easy and I like the fresh taste.


Sauce with all the spices added

While the sauce is simmering, prep your shell filling. Place all of the cheeses and the egg in a medium bowl with the cooked, wilted spinach/garlic mixture. Add a dash of salt, pepper and garlic powder. Stir!


Ready to mix up


All mixed up

Stuff your shells with the filling and place in an oven safe baking dish with 1/4 cup of the cooked tomato sauce for a base. Cover the stuffed shells with more sauce, cover it with foil and then bake for 35-40 mins.


Ready for the oven



Finished Product

Coconut Peanut Butter Pancakes

19 Nov



Happy Monday! Since I’m on vacation this week, the posts will mostly consist of non-teaching related stuff. But be prepared for some recipes as I get ready to cook my first Thanksgiving dinner later in the week. I know I’m on vacation but I am really trying to stay on track as far as food and exercise. It is hard. It’s hard to get out of that ‘I’m on vacation…screw it’ mentality. And family and friends are sometimes no help. Sorry!

This weekend I was excited I got to go browse in my local Natur-Tyme organic food grocery store. I was like a kid in a candy store! All of the cool alternative baking ingredients that I read about in blogs were right there! I left with some of my favorite new ingredients ‘PB2’ (the greatest thing on earth…if you haven’t tried it….GOOGLE IT NOW), and some coconut flour to try with some of the Paleo and pancake recipes I’ve been meaning to make.




This morning I got right to work to make a coconut flour pancake recipe…since I’m obsessed with them. I got this recipe from Dashing Dish, one of my favorite recipe blogs, but modified it a little because I wanted to make it a smaller serving.


Coconut Peanut Butter Pancakes

Makes 3-4 medium pancakes / Cook Time including prep: 15 minutes

3 tbsp coconut flour

1 1/2 tbsp peanut flour (PB2)

1/4 tsp baking powder

2 -3 tsp sugar or sweetener of choice (I don’t need my pancakes very sweet, but if you do you might want to add more)

4 egg whites

1/8-1/4 cup of water



Mix all ingredients besides water. Then add enough water to make a batter-like consistency. The original recipe said that it would be a lumpy thicker style batter. Cook until browned on one side and bubbly on the top, then flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes. I topped mine with 1/2 a banana and some pancake syrup. Yum!


How do you stay on track while on vacation? Or is it no-holds barred? I’d love to hear some thoughts!


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