Meal Prep Help

I always feel really accomplished when I set myself up for a successful and less stressful week. Meal prepping has been all the rage for a while and there's tons of articles out there to help you, sometimes it gets overwhelming.

The past four weeks have been whirlwind crazy and I’m still four weeks away from having a “normal” week, i.e. nights where I’m home before 8:00 something at night. I’ve definitely been relying on my Sunday’s to prepare my food needs for work and for home, not unsurprisingly since a lot of people do it! While it can take a bit of time and elbow grease, I have to say, it’s been an absolute lifesaver!

Five Favorite All Week Meals

  1. Soup’s Up! I’m a huge fan of soup when I’m in the throws of a busy week like a show week. I’ll make a huge pot and fill up several containers for lunches and boom! I’ve got lunch for every day that week. Just a sleeve of crackers or some fresh french bread and I’m good. Throw a side salad with it or a half a sandwich and the meals seems fresh and new on day four.

    My personal favorite soup recipe is the Spicy Chicken Soup from Real Girl’s Kitchen and yes, that is Haylie Duff’s cookbook. No judgement, she’s got some pretty good ones!

  2. BBQ Pulled Pork Take 2. OK, so it’s easy to throw some pulled pork together, 1 can of soda and a bottle of BBQ sauce, large crockpot on low for 8 hours and ta-da! A great meal is ready for you! You can put it on a bun or on a baked potato or just eat on it’s own with a salad or delicious sautéed veggies.

    Here’s a new one though, slap some of that BBQ between to tortillas, add some cheese, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice and you’ve got yourself some delicious BBQ quesadillas.

  3. White Chicken Chili for days! I wish I could take credit for this, but good ol’ Pinterest to the rescue. Here is THE best white chicken chili and I promise you won’t get sick of this one! Add tortilla chips or pair with a light green salad to stretch it out and shake it up.

  4. Tray Bakes for the win! Roast up a few chicken breasts in the oven with a separate tray of your favorite veggies and that’s an easy full meal with tons of nutrition packed in. I like to use brussel sprouts, asparagus or zucchini with sweet potatoes or purple potatoes and a bit of chopped onion. A little olive oil and some sea salt and you’re good to go. Other spices are fine, but I like the simple flavor come out through the roasting.

  5. Muffins, man. I know, bad pun, but still funny. I whipped up a batch of Oatmeal Apple Cinnamon Muffins since I was hankering something delicious warm and fall flavored. Definite success although this particular recipe calls for a pretty good amount of sugar. I’m wondering if I could pair that down or trade out with a different type of sugar. Either way, I’ve got delicious breakfast muffins to pair with scrambled eggs and some fresh fruit.

The trick is to make it all at once and divvy everything up, a plate or bowl for each day of the week. I cart all these bowls to work and leave them in my office fridge prepped and ready to heat up. I’m a leftovers fan so this type of eating isn’t too tricky for me and if you’re looking for something other than a frozen meal for lunch or another sandwich, these might perk up your meals for the week!

Happy meal prepping, y’all!

 The Real Girls Spicy Chicken Soup.

The Real Girls Spicy Chicken Soup.

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I Don't Think You're Ready for this Jelly

OK, maybe you are! My family's Jalapeño Jelly recipe is outstanding and by far one of my favorite jellies to have on hand! 

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We used this jelly as favors at our wedding, gifting people with little jars to take home, but my mother has actually been making this stuff since my sister was a tot. Traditionally this is something we make around Christmas time and I started whipping it up to bring as gifts to family when we come to town. There's nothing like bringing a basket of noshes to share with everyone. I'll have to share our Christmas basket later this year, but let's stay focused on the jelly, shall we?

 Just FYI, I highly recommend using gloves or plastic bags to cover your hands while you chop peppers! 

Just FYI, I highly recommend using gloves or plastic bags to cover your hands while you chop peppers! 

Between all four of our jalapeño plants, we produced quite a crop this year. We couldn't make that much salsa so the next big idea was to start canning jalapeño jelly early! We got right down to it making four total batches and I still have jalapeños to spare! Good grief! 

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Check out the recipe here if you want to give it a try--just remember, you're working with hot peppers so don't rub your eyes! 

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Jalapeno Jelly

¾ cup ground green bell pepper (about 1 large)

¼ - ½ cup ground fresh jalapeno pepper (about 7-10 medium peppers)* SEE NOTE BELOW

1 cup cider vinegar

5 cups white sugar

1 (6 oz.) bottle liquid fruit pectin ( 2  3oz. pouches)

Green food coloring

Combine peppers, vinegar and sugar in a large saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and cool 1 minute.  Add pectin and a few (4-6) drops of green food coloring. Stir gently.  Pour into hot sterilized jars, wipe the inner edges clean, seal, and cool.  Makes five 6oz. jars or four 8oz. jars. 

* Handle the jalapenos carefully!! Use gloves or a plastic bag on each hand when cutting the peppers. Cut off the stems, slice the peppers in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds with the tip of a knife and discard them. The pepper oils will burn your skin, so be sure to discard the gloves carefully and wash your hands thoroughly after handling. Don’t rub your eyes! If you do get the oils on your skin, soothe the burning by soaking your hands in milk or washing your hands with shampoo to remove the oil.

 Deliciousness in a jar! 

Deliciousness in a jar! 

We love Jalapeno Jelly served over cream cheese on Triscuits.  It’s also good on roast beef or brisket sandwiched on a roll.

You can't go wrong with this stuff and you also don't have to wait until Christmas to make it! 

What's your favorite jam or jelly? Got a favorite recipe to make? Share it in the comments! 

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Drive Me Bananas

I have a banana bread--nay, more like banana cake recipe that I have been head over heels in love with now for a couple of months. You could say it drives me wil....bananas! See what I did there? I know, pretty corny. 

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What's really ridiculous is this bread! I am. TELLING YOU! You have to try it.  In Joanna Gaines' new cookbook, Magnolia Table, she has an after school banana bread recipe that is ahmazing. And yes, I added an "ah" because it is in fact that wonderful. 

I've made this recipe four times now. And I'm not sorry about. I'm not even a little ashamed. I will probably continue to make it another eight or ten times before the year is up, that's how much I love it.

I think you would, too, which is why you should go buy the book. Seriously. Do it. It's worth it just to have this banana bread recipe. And add chocolate chips if you're feeling really crazy--they definitely add to the sweetness. 

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And this is how it disappears so darn fast, one little bite at a time.  Truly though, it's so totally worth it! 

Happy Monday, y'all! 

What are some of your favorite recipes these days?

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Summer Fruit Crisp

I stumbled into a really, really delicious dessert last week. I had a box of strawberries, raspberries, and some ripe white peaches left over in the fridge and I wondered how all of them would taste together in a sweet little crumble mixture. The answer: excellent! 

I haven't gone back to try it again, but it worked out well the first time sooo...might as well share! There's no time like the present, right? Plus, I can always come back and tweak the recipe a bit. Try it out and let me know how you liked it! 

Summer Fruit Crisp

 

FRUIT BASE

  • 4 ripe white peaches sliced
  • 1 1/2 - 2  cups of strawberries hulled and sliced
  • 1 cup of raspberries 
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla

TOPPING

  • 6 tablespoons of room temp butter cut into small pieces(if using unsalted, add a pinch of salt to the mix)
  • 1 cup of oats 
  • 3/4 cup of brown sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  1. Pre-heat over to 375. 
  2. Grease deep dish pie plate or 9" casserole dish with butter
  3. Toss fruit with sugar, arrowroot, vanilla, and lemon juice to coat well. Add to greased dish and set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix all dry topping ingredients together. Then use a pie cutter to cut the butter into the mix until ingredients are well mixed and small clumps have formed. (NOTE: This makes a ton of crisp topping). 
  5. Top the fruit base with the topping mixture, spreading evenly. If it seems like a lot of crisp, hold some back or if you're really feeling it, dump it all on, baby! 
  6. Bake crisp for about 25-30 minutes until fruit is bubbling and crisp is golden brown. If you find the fruit is definitely bubbling and crisp is cooked but not golden, broil the top for about 1-2 minutes and it will finish the job beautifully. (NOTE: I placed a sheet of foil underneath the plate incase fruit bubbled over.) 
  7. Let sit for a few minutes before diving in! 

This was first go round so there are a few wonky notes, like broiling the last minute to get the crisp toasty. I know adjustments need to be made, but I enjoyed getting messy with a successful experiment in the kitchen! 

You can pair the crisp with vanilla ice cream, Blue Bell is always my preference. Or you can have it in the morning with plain, coconut or vanilla yogurt and some natural peanut butter drizzled on. It's actually a pretty wonderful way to start the day. 

Give it a try and tell me how you like it in the comments below! 

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What's In Blue Blazes: Shrimp Etouffee

My sister calls me up a couple weeks ago and says, "I've got it! I know a series you can start on your blog!" I'm thinking, okay, this could be interesting! Hit me!

She then tells me she's named her new Le Creuset Blue Blazes and she thinks it would be hilarious to post about all the dishes I make in my own blue Le Creuset calling it "What In Blue Blazes!" We laugh about it for a bit, but then she stops laughing and says, "No, I'm serious. It would be awesome."  A few days later she starts a shared photo album with the same title and uploads all her blue dishes so far. I mean, this lady really IS serious. 

So Big Sister, this is for you! The very first installment of...

What's In Blue Blazes! 

It's Mardi Gras tomorrow! Heeeyyy! Time to get our Cajun on and ladies and (maybe a few) gentlemen, I am proud to say I have real Cajun roots I'm tapping into for the day! My mom's side of the family is from South Louisiana and we can go generations back all the way to Acadia. I don't think we can get any more authentic than that, folks. 

So, in the spirit of this fat Tuesday celebration, I've got a simple shrimp etouffee to share! Mom passed this one to me, but the recipe was submitted to our '93 family reunion cookbook by her cousin, Lisa. Just to give you a little background, Lisa was a neat lady. She was a teacher--y'all, I come from a family of teachers so when I say it's in my blood, it really is. She taught English and art and of course, was an artist herself. She raised chickens and loved bird watching, but most of all she loved her family. 

Sadly Lisa passed away almost two years ago and while I did not get to know Lisa very well, I do remember her driving her parents, my great Aunt Lou and Uncle Jeff to my wedding. I remember seeing her cut up the floor and laugh and have a wonderful time with the family. Those memories mean so much. 

What's wonderful about food and recipes is that they can call to mind the people we knew, people we love, people we miss. So while I might not have many memories with Lisa, I have this recipe and it always calls her to mind. To me, it will always be Cousin Lisa's Shrimp Etouffee. Without further ado, here it is: 


Cousin Lisa's Shrimp Etouffee

  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 can of Rotel 
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Parsley (1 cup)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom soupt
  • Peeled, deveined shrimp

Sauté butter, onions, bell pepper, celery, Rotel and garlic. Let it all cook slowly for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Add lemon juice and parsley then stir and add the can of mushroom soup--mix all well! Add shrimp and cook until pink, just about 15 minutes. Or you can use cooked shrimp, just add and heat through at the end. 

Makes 6-8 servings. 


I serve it up over  rice and mais, yeah, you've got yourself a good meal! It's really easy, incredibly delicious and sure to be a hit with a crowd! 

Any Cajun food lovers out there?What are you favorite Mardi Gras meals?

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PB and Hey!

Well, I'm trying really hard to reduce my sugar intake these days. Note I didn't say quit sugar, I'm only human, folks. I'm trying really, really hard to make those treats take place only when I really, really want one. And when I have one, they have to be three things: really enjoyable, delicious, and something I can savor and enjoy. 

Last week I had a hankering for something sweet . Nothing in particular, just something tasty, soft, warm, like a cookie or a cupcake. Problem is if you whip up a batch you have leftovers...I know it's probably hard to see this issue there, but trust me, having temptation in this is house right now is not helpful to all the work I'm doing right now! 

So I opted for a quick easy mug cake. There's a million recipes out there and some are super easy and some a little more complicated. Lucky for me, I found a PEANUT BUTTER one that I kept tweaking to make perfect for moi! 

It's the same type of recipe I do for my peanut butter cookies except it's just one mug of peanut butter goodness. Can't beat that, really. So without further ado, I give you...

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The Peanut Butter & Hey Mug Cake

For every peanut butter loving person whose needing a sugar fix without any lingering tempting morsels in the kitchen.  

3 tbls of peanut butter

1 egg

1-1/2 tbls of sugar

1/4 tsp of vanilla

1 tbls of chocolate chips

In a tall mug, mix the PB, egg, sugar and vanilla really well. Just beat it...(beat it)...beat it....(beat it)...

Toss the chips in and mix up. You want to make sure that egg gets beat in there really well so you don't have scrambled egg hidden in your cake. I know, that'd would ruin the whole experience right there. 

Throw a few chocolate chips on top and the option of a little sugar sprinkle, too. Pop into the microwave for 1:00 - 1:15. You want to make sure the bottom part is done so check with fork down the side or a long cake tester. Always better to check at the minute mark first! 

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If you ask me, I think it's delicious. The cake isn't overly sugary but it still hits the spot for something with some sweet. I also feel like it's made for peanut butter lovers like myself. Like I mentioned before, this recipe is so close to the recipe I use for PB cookies which is more than likely why I love it. It's just the cookie in cake form. What's not to love?

Easy recipe + peanut butter + cake result = Happy Life

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Got a favorite quick sugar fix? What's your go-to dessert? 

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One Fine (Meal Planned) Day

Getting back into the swing of things can be tricky at the start of the year. We're trying to begin fresh, implement all our great changes, form new habits, and do what we need to get our minds and body back after the holidays. 

Of course, you'd think that by now, two  weeks into the new year, we'd probably be hitting those changes more easily. For my brain, I need some things on hand to make choices a little easier for me while I'm trying to nail down the new stuff and get work rolling again. Most of the time I'm thinking along the lines of food and meals. What are easy things I can do that does require too much brain power? 

Well, here ya go! Breakfast, lunch, and dinners! Keeping it simple, keeping it clean, and keeping it delicious! 

Breakfast: Peanut Butter Banana Toast

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Who doesn't love PB toast for breakfast? This is a classic quick on-the-go breakfast for me. To make it stick to my ribs a little longer, I add a half banana for some fruit, chia seeds to fill me up and a little honey to sweeten it out! 

Lunch: Tuna Salad Sandwich

My mom taught me this one and it's by far my favorite--it's actually how I learned to like tuna. I've been serving up half this recipe on a toasted piece of ezekiel bread with spinach for lunch. Because one can of tuna makes a decent amount of salad, I just saved myself from making lunch the next day. Win! 

Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup

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Soup's on! I always have soup stuff on hand. It's really not something you have to overthink and I honestly don't think there's anything as comforting as a big bowl of soup. I keep a bag of carrots, onions, and celery chopped in the freezer for rainy days, a box of broth in the pantry at all times, and there's ALWAYS chicken breasts in my house. 

Saute your veggies first in a little olive oil, add your cooked chicken--you can cook your chicken before or use leftover roasted chicken--add spices, bring to a boil and add in the pasta. Or heck! Add it all in a let it simmer to ready!

Whatever spices sound good to you is the way to go. I usually do salt, pepper, garlic, and some red pepper. I'm heavy handed on the black pepper and garlic and sometimes I put in cilantro and jalapeno for a spicy flavor! 

*The link for another favorite chicken noodle soup is at the bottom of the post! 

If I'm really in the mood for a comfort meal, I'll whip up a batch on Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies to enjoy after dinner. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, like a hot chocolate chip cookie. Oh my word. It's making my mouth water just to think about it! 

I might have to make some of those cookies tonight....help me get to Saturday...

I'm nearly to the end of this first week back! Hallelujah! I've got big plans for the weekend, too, ya'll--hot bath with a bath bomb, pretty magazines, a puzzle with man, and probably a glass of wine...or two. Gotta rest and recover for next week! 

Happy Thursday, ya'll! 

What are your plans for Friday night? 

 

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Christmas Scramble

Happy Friday, y'all!

Our Christmas show opened last night and it was just as festive and wonderful as it always is! So festive in fact I got a little inspired with my breakfast today. It's definitely Christmas themed. I'm not complaining though. 'Tis the season! 

I'm trying to get through all my grading a little at a time so next week isn't too crazy. I'm really looking forward to wrapping up this fall and getting a little break before spring starts. The break never seems long enough but thank goodness I get a break at all!  

Speaking of which, my break time is almost up--time to start grading again! 

Yeah, just ignore that burned toast. This is what happened when you don't thaw the frozen ezekiel bread first before popping it in the toaster. Live and learn, am I right? 

Christmas Scramble

  • 1 Tbs of olive oil 
  • 1 Tbs of diced onions
  • 2-4 Chopped asparagus (depending on your love for asparagus) 
  • 1 Tbs of chopped red bell pepper
  • 2-3 Sliced cherry tomatoes
  • 6-8 spinach leaves 
  • 1/4 tsp of minced garlic
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Dash of red pepper flakes

Heat oil in small skillet on medium heat. Add onions, peppers, and asparagus to pan stirring occasionally. Add dash of salt and pepper. When veggies begin to soften, add spinach, tomatoes and garlic, stirring occasionally until spinach leaves are wilted. 

Take two eggs, gently beat in separate bowl and then add to mixture. Add your dash of red pepper if you like a little heat. Gently fold veggies into beaten eggs and watch until eggs are cooked to preference. 

Serve up your plate and add some toast, OJ, and maybe a little coffee, too! Enjoy! 

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Here's to a good start to our Friday! 

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New Cookbooks, Yes Please!

Do you ever have a moment when you feel, "whoa. I am one person in a sea of people?" Yeah, I get that on Instagram sometimes when I'm flipping through and I realize just how many people there are in the world. That and whenever I travel to NYC. 

In any case, as overwhelming as Instagram can feel sometimes, I do love the fact that following some of my favorite people can lead me to new favorites. Do you feel an example coming up? 'Cause here it is! 

Love the Bobby Bones Show, if you're a country music fan, and I follow Amy on IG quite a bit. Her personality is fun and I enjoy following her stories about health, fitness, and of course, her ongoing adoption process. A few weeks ago she posted about Laura Lea Balanced and I was completely fascinated. 

Basically she's a holistic chef living in Nashville and her stories consist of her displaying her meals throughout the day, what's in them and yeah, you basically watch her sample food, too. And I love it. I know, a little weird, but I'm fascinated by her choices and what she puts together. So after following for a couple weeks, I finally tried a few of her recipes and really enjoyed them--except for a grilled chicken marinade that I blame on my use of greek yogurt...should have just used regular ol' plain yogurt...

Bought her book and it just came in--eek! I'm totally geeking out! I spent time reading that sucker the last couple nights and drooling over the pictures. It's simple ingredients and I can't wait to dive in!

Best of all, she offers tons of choices to make things as you need them. Paleo, vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, whatever. I tried a pecan date loaf bread with white flour (Shocking! People still use white flour? Yep--this girl does) instead of buckwheat and it still turned out delicious! It's nice to find something that offers wiggle room depending on what you're wanting AND she promotes listening to your BODY more than anything else. I like that concept so much and I've found that it's been incredibly helpful to get me back on track these last couple weeks. If you're interested, check her out here, Laura Lea Balanced

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I've spent the last maybe three years trying new ingredients and taking time to figure out how to make healthier choices that are sustainable for me. It's a work in progress. Seriously. Chik-fil-a is still my favorite fast food trick and I can't always convince myself to make the right choices 100% of the time or (les be honest here) 50% of the time, but that's part of this journey, right? 

If you haven't tried things like tahini, tamari, tumeric or even kale, start small. I tried to change my entire diet for a four week challenge at the beginning of my search and I'm pretty sure that was the worst thing I could have done. You might find yourself crying in front of a closed Marble Slabe, just for example...Cutting yourself off cold turkey from all your regular choices just doesn't work so be smart, introduce things a little at a time and keep trying until you find what works for you--there's tons of options out there (Pinterest, anyone?) so don't give up. 

One last little thing, I learned a great new way to eat yogurt in the morning: add a scoop of almond butter or peanut butter to it! AH! GAME CHANGER!

Seriously, try this: 

1/4 cup of blueberries

1/2 - 3/4 cup of yogurt

2-3 Tbl spn of granola

1 Tbl spn of almond/peanut butter

1/4 - 1/2 tsp of chia seeds

You can thank me in the comment section. Just kidding, but really, you should try this! 

Happy weekend, y'all! 

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Sugar, Butter, Flour

The year was 2007, I was home for a bit of the summer and there in the newspaper was a black and white advertisement for the newest Keri Russell movie, "Waitress." I remember looking up the preview and falling in love with the story, the people, and the pie. As soon as it was out on DVD I bought it watched half a million times. 

It was quirky and sweet and heartbreaking and delicious. To me,  it was a beautiful story, that's right, all baked up in a pie. I loved it. 

When the musical came out, I swooned. I've been dying to go up to NYC to see it and weep into a sweet jar of pie. I've worn out the soundtrack and even set a fun piece to the opening song in my pointe class--yes, pointe. And it was darling! 

At one point I had scoured the internet for Bad Baby Pie, Mermaid Pie and others. I'd spent time reading up on how they developed the recipes including the spaghetti pie which apparently did not turn out too good.

Two weeks ago I happened to see that they had indeed released a pie book inspired by "Waitress" and I nearly fell out of my seat. So for my birthday, my sweet mother ordered it for me.  

Behold, all the beauty and deliciousness one needs is in this book. 

I poured over it when it came in last week and I've already made note of each one I want to make. I'll have to seriously to pace myself here. 

It's a beauty and I'm so excited to start working on these incredibly mouthwatering recipes! If you need me, I'll be in the kitchen drooling. 

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