From The Kitchen

I’m always a little behind with my cooking magazines. I get 4 or 5 a month, and it takes a little time to read them, decide which recipes will be a good fit for our family, and if anything needs to be subbed out to accommodate being GF & DF.

As a result I’m just now trying some of the recipes from the June Rachael Ray Magazine. Once again I’m finding tons of good stuff in her magazine. Most of my go to, 30 min, yummy meals are from Rachael Ray!

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I spilled too much Cotija Cheese on mine and was too hungry to make a fresh salad just for a photo.

I’m loving this Chorizo & Chicken Taco Salad from the June issue. It’s also on her site if you want to check it out: Chorizo & Chicken Taco Salad with Chipotle Dressing

I pretty much followed the recipe without any changes. For the dressing there is an option between acacia, honey, or agave syrup and I used honey. In the salad I forgot to add the green olives, so I don’t know how they add or take away from the salad.

I really love this recipe because you get rotisserie chicken, shred it up and cook some chorizo, which cooks really fast, so dinner is ready so fast, super easy, and accommodates individual taste if you let each person build their own salad.

Rather than toss it all together I tossed the lettuce and dressing together, and then left all the other ingredients separate so Mark and Sky could pick and choose what they want. For example I left the jalapeno’s, onion, and chorizo off of Sky’s salad and gave her extra chicken instead.

This is a great summer recipe and pairs well with a crisp, chilled white wine or margaritas.

 

From The Kitchen

Last weekend we hosted Christmas/dinner with friends, and while I love to cook I sometimes have a hard time deciding what to make for a large crowd. I want something festive, somewhat easy (I don’t want to be in the kitchen for hours and miss the party), really good, adult and kid friendly, and budget friendly. With the potential for 15 people attending, including kiddos, it took me a couple of weeks to find something I was happy with.

Originally I was going to go with tacos, quick, easy, and everyone can bring something to chip in, but that doesn’t make me think Christmas (it’s on for Cinco de Mayo though!). After going through my recipe collection I came across an old favorite that fit all of my criteria!

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Cranberry Pork Tenderloin! It’s so yummy, and looks like Christmas with the cranberry sauce served with it. Plus pork is less expensive than beef, so it’s a win all the way around!

Cranberry Pork Tenderloin

Serves 4 Time about 50 min

2 tbsp olive oil, divided

1 Pork Tenderloin (about 1 lb)

1/2 tsp each kosher salt and pepper

1 small red onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce

2 tsp minced fresh rosemary leaves

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

-Preheat oven to 350. In a large frying pan, heat 1 tsp oil, over med-high heat. season pork with salt and pepper; brown lightly all over, about 5 min.

-Transfer pork to a foil-lined 9×13 baking pan. Add remaining 1 tbsp oil to frying pan, reduce heat to medium, and add onion. Cook, stirring often, until softened, 3 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, then pour in chicken broth, cranberry sauce, rosemary, and vinegar. Cook 2 minutes.

-Pour hot cranberry sauce over pork and bake, uncovered, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of meat registers 160, about 20 minutes. Let pork rest 10 minutes, then slice and serve with sauce.

I got this recipe from Sunset Magazine’s wine club. I seriously miss that wine club, because they send you a recipe to go with each bottle of wine you get. I highly recommend it for those that love wine and cooking! Once I’m back to working FT that’s one of the first extra’s I want to add back to our life!

I used a 5.6 lb pork loin, and added 15 min to the baking time. After that I started checking the temp with a meat thermometer until it hit 160…I want to say it was close to 60 min. I forget. Trust the thermometer and it will turn out beautifully!

One thing I’ve learned about cooking for gatherings is pick something that can be prepped/cooked ahead of time 100%, grill it, or pick something that spends the majority of it’s cooking time in the oven…that way you will be part of the party rather than in the kitchen the whole time!

 

Whole 30 – What I Learned

Ok, now that we are finally done I feel like I can share some lessons learned, and a more accurate opinion of my/our Whole 30 experience.

First let me say, it did work for us, and I learned a lot! I still don’t approve of drastic eating plans like this, mostly because it’s nearly impossible to maintain full time, but it served it’s purpose.

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Whole 30 approved cookbooks.

Things I Learned:

-I ended up finding more foods that are a problem for me than Mark did. I kinda thought I was just along to be supportive, but ended up finding out a few things that I have had to cut out, or drastically reduce my intake. Dairy and Soy being two of those things. Anything like pasta or bread is not great either, even if it’s gluten free.

-I felt/feel 75% better eating this way than I did before. So much so that we are pretty much Whole 30 full time. Of course we take time to have wine a few times a week, enjoy Holiday food/treats, use real bacon & hot dogs rather than crazy expensive Whole 30 approved options. But, for the most part, like 85%-90% of the time it’s pretty much Whole 30 eating for us. I feel us being uninvited to friend’s for dinner now. 😉

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I drank a lot of pickle juice! 

-Realizing it’s my health, my body, and my responsibility, and I won’t be apologizing for being “difficult” with my food choices, nor will I eat something just to be polite if I know it will make me feel like crap. It’s just not worth it. So if we do still manage to be invited over for dinner, and spaghetti is on the menu, I will be volunteering to bring a big old protein packed salad and eating that instead.

-Save your pickle juice. There are not a lot of drink options on this plan, for me anyway (some of the approved options I don’t like at all), so it was plain old water 98% of the time, and plain tea the rest. I craved having different flavors and resorted to shot’s of pickle juice when I was really desperate. Ultra runners do it, so I figured it can’t be all bad. It helped get through the rough days when boring old water was just not cutting it.

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-Capers, sun-dried tomatoes, olives (all different kinds)  all add some flavor to salads, sandwiches, and eggs. Get them at Costco to save money, and stock up because you will fly through them. I was putting capers on everything!

-Find some approved dressing/sauces you can use. Yes, you can make your own, but when you are cooking as much as this requires anything that comes pre-made is a life (and time) saver! Read the label though! Tessemae’s is listed in Whole 30 as an approved company, but some of the dressings have soy in them, and soy is a no, no.

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-Invest in a few Whole 30 approved/friendly cookbooks. Variety is important, and as someone who likes to cook I need to have recipes to go through and meal plan with, it’s what makes me happy! So, having 3 extra books plus the Whole 30 book, made a world of difference for me!

-A good cast iron pan is almost a must given all the meat being cooked. I got mine about half way through, and it changed the game for sure! Perfectly browned meat every single time!

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-Habits are hard to break, and may be more about the ritual of the habit than the substance itself. Guys, I gave up coffee long before we did Whole 30. What’s the first thing I did once we were officially done, went and got a Starbucks Holiday latte. I just can’t kick it 100%. It’s not the smell, or taste even. It’s the idea of having a cup of coffee in my hand while I enjoy my 1 to 2 hours of kid free time in the morning. Or, going to the coffee shop to read my book & have coffee when I finish errands early and have 30 extra minutes before picking Sky up from school.

I’m a big window shopper, I see ideas online for home decor, craft projects, fashion and then I go window shop discount retailers/thrift stores to see if I can pull it off without impacting our budget. I don’t purchase much, but I love strolling through isles, coffee in hand…not even drinking it though…just holding the cup gives me the feeling of relaxed me time. A mini vacation away from it all if you will.

So, coffee marketing has totally worked on me. Since dairy is now an issue I can only handle it about once every 3 to 4 days. My goal is 2 coffees a week, at the most, and for those to be at home. I still have my Starbucks card, with money on it, but I’m saving that for those days when I truly need an escape, and am going to ditch the to do list and sit and read for a couple hours during school, or to meet a friend and catch up. That happens maybe once every other month. Makes it a true treat.

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-Wine, oh how I love thee. It’s so nice to have wine back in our life. Seriously we were without alcohol of any kind for almost 2 months. So now I can have like one glass and be totally loopy. I like that wine is something a little more special now, and we only have it 1 or 2 nights a week, usually planned to go with a specific meal.

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-It’s longer than 30 days FYI! By the time we finished the reintroduction phase it was closer to 2 1/2 months for us. Re-intro took a long time though because it left me in particular feeling pretty bad. One day of re-intro then two days back on plan, that yo-yo cycle left my body and mind feeling strung out. There were several times we went back on plan for 4 or 5 days just to even back out.

I question the whole re-intro process a bit anyway. If you give something up for 30 days (or in this case a lot of somethings) and then all of a sudden have a day of eating that thing, it’s sort of bound to make you feel cruddy even if you don’t have a true allergy, or reaction to it. Just my opinion.

We ended up re-intro’ing a few things more than once, just to verify how it made us feel because we sort of felt like one day of eating after not having it for so long was not a true indication of how our body reacts to it. Soy was something we tried multiple times, and found that high levels of it is no good. But a bit of soy sauce with sushi not a problem. It’s still something we are limiting, but at least we can still have the sushi we love!

-The biggest win for me was figuring out what to fuel with during longer runs. I struggled with running on Whole 30, it’s hard to take in the carbs needed to run double digit miles, and I was training for a 10 mile trail run, and hated every second of the training. But, race day came, and I had a bag with nuts and dried blueberries, and you know I felt pretty amazing during that trail race. Fruit and nuts, it’s where it’s at for me. If nothing else I feel like I solved the in-run fuel issue I’ve been dealing with for 2 years now, so that’s a win!

-They say you will feel so good by the end of it that you wont want to to go off plan. It’s true. By day 26 we felt pretty amazing, and I was really reluctant to start reintroducing anything into our diet. After going through the angry stage, the no energy stage, and finally getting the hang of it and feeling great…no way did I want to ditch it. 🙂 I drug my feet on re-intro a bit because of that.

At the end of the day I think Whole 30 can serve a purpose, and be a good tool. But really do your homework, commit to the plan for the entire time, realizing that with re-intro you are looking at months not just 30 days.

The upside for us is way less sugar in our food, less mindless snacking, and really enjoying the times we do decide to spurge on something. I have a new appreciation for food, and awareness of what I’m eating & feeding my family.

 

 

 

Crawfish Festival – Food Adventure in Portland

We made a quick trip down to Portland for the weekend to enjoy some crawfish! Mark spent summers, and time in college, in Mississippi, and has always talked about the yummy crawfish you can pick up at any corner market or gas station.

We just don’t have that up here in WA, so when he found out about a crawfish festival going on near Portland we decided to hit up our friends Lesley and Trevor for a fun filled weekend!

Can I just say, the food scene down there is pretty spectacular. I so badly want to do some food tours through the city and eat my way from one end to the other!

While the crawfish were good Mark says he’ll pass on attending the festival again. Not as good as they do them in the South I guess.

 Sky tried the crawfish, but decided she liked the corn and potato better. 

What I did care for a lot was the food at Por Que No Taqueria. Everything from the Margarita (so refreshing and so much flavor, but not overwhelming) to the chorizo street tacos (easily the best I’ve ever had) was really, really good. I was too busy eating and drinking to take pics.

Get there early though as the line is long (down the street) and you can’t get a table until you have an order number. We were there at 11 am and waited in a line outside the door before ordering, and it was just getting longer and longer. Totally worth it! I recommend the Ceviche, Chorizo Taco, and Mark says try the Calamari Taco.

We managed to fit in a neighborhood festival and parade, swimming at the community pool, and my first every barre class. For a busy, yet fun weekend!

 She was so happy that there was candy!

If barre class is your thing, or you just want to try it, and are in Portland I highly recommend the Pearl District barre3 studio! It felt a whole lot like a decadent spa, but with sweat, shaking muscles, and a really tough workout. So much fun, so much work, and so sore two days later. Running tonight will be interesting. 
It was a little like going back in time. Lesley and I took pilates classes togethr years ago, like before kiddo’s, weddings etc, and it was so much fun to have my workout partner back for a barre class. So glad we got to sneak off and do that before the drive home. 
What’s the strangest food you’ve eaten?
Not that crawfish are all that strange, just not common in our area.