Loaded Potato Soup
If I am going to try to blog every day for a month, I’m going to start out with what I know. And I KNOW good food. One of my most favorite fall/winter meals is a good loaded potato soup. DisclaImer: this is not healthy. Just hearty and delicious. Last Christmas I received an instant pot, and while the verdict is still out as to whether or not it’s worth the price tag (and more than the price tag- the cabinet space) for my cooking style, it definitely is amazing for soups and potatoes. I am a big advocate for time saving, and love to multi-task. So I use the half stove top/ half instant pot method for this dish.
The good part about this recipe is that it makes 5-6 servings. So it’s good for a small get together, tailgate, or to have leftovers for lunch. I cook the base in a big 8 quart pot. Then I just add the potatoes there. You can do the whole thing in the instant pot, but then you have 10 minutes to waste, have to move a bunch of ingredients around....and this way it’s two birds, one stone.
FYI- I am re-doing this site. Trying to keep things a little more organized. If you are looking for any of the old blog posts with recipes etc....check under -->About-->Archived Blog Posts.
August 19th, 2019
My new BFF- Swerve.
Let's try this again...I just deleted my entire post. Wah. After my diagnosis with gestational diabetes 11 weeks ago, I had to totally change my eating habits. By no means was I a terribly unhealthy eater (no shame in the few handfuls of goldfish game)....but I had to change when I was eating and what type of foods I was putting into my body. I have always preached eating in moderation, and balancing macronutrients. I was not afraid to eat the "healthy carbs", because I know how important those are to fuel a busy and active lifestyle. I know I posted about this before, but it is truly amazing how quickly food can raise blood sugar levels, and how some seemingly healthy foods, even some of these healthy carbs, are off limits. For example, I love green grapes. Nope. No more. They spike my blood sugar. Bananas- no freaking way. Potatoes...yeah right. So if simple fruits and veggies can't work with my diet...no chance I can indulge in my pregnancy cravings such as rice crispy treats...or ice cream....or chocolate chip cookies...or Cadbury mini eggs...I could go on.....
This brings me back to the title of my post...my new BFF Swerve. Swerve is a sugar-like sweetener that can be used in baking low carbohydrate and low sugar snacks and it doesn't raise blood sugar levels. A friend of mine was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a little over a year ago. She totally took her diagnosis by the horns and created an amazing keto-friendly bakery serving all sorts of treats that don't raise blood sugar levels (follow her on Instagram @beyondgrainbakery). She introduced me to Swerve. Swerve can be found in the baking aisle. I found it at Whole Foods and Meijer (I think some Kroger stores sell it as well), and have included the link for Amazon below . This very pregnant lady is super grateful to have a sugar substitute to help curb some of these cravings, and live a little. I wanted to bake something for the 4th of July that would be delicious and that I could share with everyone, and that would not put me into some type of diabetic coma...and that wasn't like a hardboiled egg....because that is just no fun. So I found and tweaked this lemon berry cake recipe....and OMG it is amazing. Like Eric told me he would rather have it for dessert than ice cream from Graeter's. Which is a HUGE compliment if you are from Cincinnati. We will definitely keep it in our recipe wheel for frequent use! So here is what you need:
**Note: I know there are lots of FATS in this ingredient list. I am by no means a keto diet expert, nor do I normally live a keto lifestyle. Eating fat has been extremely mental for me...but I am getting over it.
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Sauced & Spiced.
I really shouldn't run a blog- I swear there are at least 3 month gaps in between every post...but life has been a little busy. Quick update: I am 33 weeks pregnant with baby boy #2 and am constantly chasing after baby boy #1. I just finished up my first year as a high school administrator, oh and we are renovating our house.....you know....just a few things keeping me occupied. To top it off, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes about 9 weeks ago. I am not going to lie. I was SHOCKED. I feel like I am a pretty healthy person. I am still teaching 2-3 group exercise classes a week, and working out 6-7 days a week. I eat a fairly clean diet, and have been lucky that I felt good through both pregnancies to where I could continue to do so even through the early months. It is crazy how pregnancy and the growing babe can really just take over....and there is nothing you can do about it. Which of course, being the control freak I am, drove me crazy. It still is driving me a little bit crazy, but I have adapted. I am taking meds in the evening and injecting myself with insulin. I check my blood sugar after every meal, and keep track of everything I am eating and how my levels change. I get ultrasounds and BPP tests each week to monitor the baby's fetal moment....and also see my OBGYN weekly. It has truly been an eye opening process. The power of FOOD and what we put in our bodies is absolutely amazing. Seeing how fast even a small snack can impact blood sugar is crazy. I have so much more empathy for people who are diabetic, especially the little guys. Dropping low can be super scary....I can't imagine being 8 years old and trying to figure out how to fix it. Or being 8 and wanting a freaking milkshake. Anyways....that being said.....I have gotten a little more creative with meals. I am packing in the protein and restricting carbohydrates even more than normal. BUT I am still super preggo.....so I NEED some flavor in my life. Which is why I am sauced & spiced to the max. The more flavor the better. I found a recipe for a chimichurri sauce on Pinterest, and adapted it to what I had at home. Not going to lie....it was the bomb. I also felt SUPER proud, because I needed fresh basil and was able to go right out to my window boxes and pick some!!!!
Here's the DL on this chimichurri sauce:
It really is a perfect sauce for any summer seafood dish....or even grilled chicken or steak! Definitely bumping to the top of my list of favorites. That is all I have for now. Hopefully this weather will turn around and we will see more of the summer sun! I need some pool days in my life.
Today my littlest man turns 22 months. I can NOT believe how fast the time has gone, and am shocked that he is almost 2 years old! The biggest lesson I have learned since becoming a mommy, is that I am not in charge anymore. Like....I have no say. This little ma`n standing under 3 feet tall totally runs the show. I am exaggerating a little....but it has been a huge adjustment for me. I have always been a workaholic. I would teach at least 7 group exercise classes a week, personal train 3-4 clients....all while working a full time job. After Brady came, that schedule has drastically changed. This year I decided to throw a brand new job into the mix of mommy hood....and BAM! I have major mom guilt. I have to put so many more hours into the work week, and spend lots of my evenings at events or catching up on phone calls and e-mails. I am determined to dedicate the time I am home with my family. Undivided attention to Choo choos, cars and Hulk Smash. I make sure there is a healthy meal on the table for dinner each night, and that no matter what, we sit down together to eat. The one thing I have always promised myself it that I would not let my fitness and workout regimen go. Sure, I am only teaching 3 classes a week now, and personal training has gone out the window....but I want to take care of myself. For ME. I am a huge believer in self care. I know that if I can't take care of myself, I can't help anyone else. I was NEVER a fan of video workouts. I can 100% say I thought working out at home did not work. Mind you, I have an extensive background in health and fitness, and know it can work.....but home workouts had a stigma to me. I started using an online program....and fell in love. Even Eric was skeptical at first. He asked me "why I needed someone else to write my workouts when I was a fitness expert?". I have asked myself that same questions 100,000 times. Here is my answer. It is so nice to just press play. And do it. No stop watch, no counting, no trying to figure out which body group I worked yesterday and what I will have time to do tomorrow. It is there. All of it (even nutrition). I get to totally check out for 30 minutes. Someone telling me what to do. I get to listen to my music and decompress. And it is amazing. So I decided to take my love to the next level and become a coach myself. Why not? I miss more than anything the family of a fitness community. I am ready to pull my family back together and start an amazing journey. Are you ready to do this? Join me! Starting February 11th, I am taking on my first virtual bootcamp group! You get meal plans, workouts, accountability, support and best part (duh) me as your coach! What are you waiting for? Interested? Click the link (I WANT TO LEARN MORE) below for more information!
(pics below for proof)
I am not exaggerating when I say it works. It is worth it and it works. It definitely takes work, and I am fortunate to add lots of variety into my workout routines. I am not a big sharer of progress pictures (because ew look at them....ha. I am not a #selfie fan), but it goes to show that pressing play can be the spark you need to make a change.
Instant Pot Review
I have like 300 other things I really should be doing. Brady is napping. I have 40 unanswered e-mails, laundry in the washing machine, laundry to be put away, dishes in the dishwasher, oh and a paper to write....but I feel like it is very important that I write a review on the instant pot. I have been so up in the air with this thing. A. I think it is extremely intimidating. B. I think the recipes are very misleading. C. Not all instant pots are the same, and there are SO many buttons and SO many settings. Here are my thoughts:
Things I hate:
Things I love:
Overall, I think if you are on the fence, it is worth a try. If I get used to using the crock pot setting, I might be able to ditch the crock pot and clear out some cabinet space. It definitely takes some trial and error....so if that is not your thing, than I would stay away!
Cilantro Lime Rice
Another summer staple: Cilantro lime rice
I probably prepare this dish the most unconventional way ever, but it works...and my family totally digs it.
1 cup of dry rice
1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil
6 cloves (+/-) minced garlic
1/2 white onion chopped
Juice from 2 limes (or more if you need more flavor)
Zest from one lime
Handful of cilantro chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
I buy Trader Joe’s jasmine rice. You get a giant bag for $2.99. I prepare the rice per the instructions on the package. Rice is a buzz kill...because it is not a fast process. I usually make my rice in advance. Just so it’s ready when I actually want to eat dinner. Be prepared for at least 40 minutes of time on this one.
When rice is close to done (let’s say 5-7 minutes left to cook), in a sauce pan heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion and garlic. Let simmer until the garlic is fragrant, and the onions are translucent. Do not burn them. That ruins everything! Add the cooked rice and stir. Sometimes I add a little more olive oil here, depending on how dry the rice is. Next, add the lime juice, lime zest, cilantro, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and allow rice to absorb flavors. I allow this little mixture to combine for about 3 Minutes.
This rice is another perfect summer staple that can be thrown in with so many different meals!
Mango & Strawberry Salsa
While I totally love my job, as the beginning of the school year is looming-I am going to miss the stay at home mom life. I keep telling Eric I just need a really cool computer, and then I will for sure become a famous blogger. Ha. Yeah right. I never even remember to blog. I really want to try though. So...I am hoping to post lots of recipes in the next three weeks, and share some of my favorite summer recipes. The low country boil is definitely on the top of our family’s faves. Next up-strawberry & mango salsa. I really love this recipe mostly because it is soooo easy. But also because it is versatile, and can be used for several meals during the week. I typically make my salsa on a Sunday, so we can eat on it for a few days. I usually start serving it with some type of spicy fish and rice. It works perfectly as a salad dressing for lunches, and is bomb on tacos or nachos.
-Peel and dice mangos (this part is actually no joke. You might have to check out a YouTube video to see how to do it). Also- make sure you find ripe mangos. .
-Dice the strawberries, vegetables and chop cilantro.
-Add all is the ingredients, including the lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
-Cover and refrigerate. (I think it is best when refrigerated for a few hours before served)
We had this tonight with panko crusted tilapia, and cilantro lime rice (will post this recipe next). LOVE on a hot summer night!
I am in utter disbelief that this is already the FIFTH Monday of summer. That makes me cry a little bit. I am not sure where the first half of summer went. I had a little medical scare week one, my grandfather passed week two, and week three was spent vacationing. So I guess that accounts for a little bit of the lost time. Anyways, my summer goal is to blog more (which is always my goal), but more importantly share with you easy and delicious summer meals the ENTIRE family can enjoy. I am talking babies and up....because that is what we are working with over here. This family of three picky eaters can make meals challenging, but of course I always love a good challenge. Even though my schedule is entirely different in the summer, and I have more freedom...I still try to stick to meal planning- not always prepping- on Sundays. I have a general idea of what meals I will be serving throughout the week, what I need for lunches and breakfast, what the plans for the week are, and how to make it all work. The other great thing about most of these meals is that you can totally change them up. Add stuff, take stuff away, make a side that you love...whatever. Make it work for you. So.....here goes nothing: Summer Meal #1 - Low Country Boil.
My husband (as I always mention), doesn't eat meat. To be honest- I don't care for it much either. My son- so far is like his parents. SO....that makes getting enough protein for everyone tricky. Shrimp is ALWAYS a great go to. This meal is prepped quickly, can be done in the oven or on the grill, it requires minimal ingredients, and is healthy.
I loved this especially due to the fact that it took hardly any prep. You can buy pre-husked corn at most grocery stores in the summer, and it is so simple. I served this with my tots- I won't forget my potatoes next time- and a broccoli and kale salad.
Simple, delicious and so summer-y!
So I swear I thought about writing this post like 400 times. But between traveling to Arizona to be in my bestie's wedding, my baby's first birthday party, turning in two giant projects for work, planning and running prom, student congress elections, and teaching 5 fitness classes a week......I have been mildly busy. If you know me in general, you know I love to be busy, but this whole mom thing is a whole new level of busy. I want to make sure I spend 100% of my time with Brady when I am not at work and he is awake....hence the 10:00 PM post (he's fast asleep). I love being with my nugget, and giving him my full attention. Cooking and working out have always been my outlets. When I am stressed, I have to find a way to cope and food and fitness are where it is at. Brady loves to join me in the kitchen, so it has become our nightly ritual to cook yummy dinners together. We are working on Brady's picky palate, but it has led me to lots of experiments (some turning out better than others)...a few of which Brady even enjoys. This quiche was not only insanely good, it was easy, nutritious, and a great prep-ahead meal for a crazy week.
The crust was amazing, totally different, and so simple. I can't wait to try other renditions of this bad boy in the future. I am totally going to sweeten it and make strawberry pie....if it ever actually gets warm.
Here is what you need ingredient wise:
2 cups cooked quinoa (Eric always has a huge pot of quinoa in the fridge, so I lucked out here- shout out to my healthy hubby!!!)
1 large egg beaten
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 bag of spinach
1 cup cooked asparagus chopped
1/2 white onion thinly sliced
1/2 cup "milk" ---> I used pea protein milk and loved it
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1 and 1/2 ounces feta cheese crumbled
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Mix quinoa black pepper and egg.
3. Spray a 9- inch pie pan with non-stick spray, then press the mixture into the pan (just like you would with a normal pie crust).
4. Bake for 20 minutes, and let cool.
1. Heat a pan with one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion and spinach and saute for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine milk, salt, pepper, red pepper, eggs and egg whites.
3. Combine the spinach and onion with the liquid mixture, and add the pre-cooked asparagus (this is a random add-on....but I had cooked asparagus the night before. You can really add any veggies you like), and mozzarella cheese.
4. Pour mixture and spread evenly over the quinoa crust. Top with the feta crumbles.
5. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 35 minutes (honestly I just kept checking the cheese to make sure it looked done). You can even broil the quiche for a few minutes to get a nice brown feta topping.
6. Cool and serve.
This meal was awesome for dinner, but made a really great reheated breakfast too! Like I said before, you can reuse any veggies! The more the merrier! I am now all about easy meals that can be reheated. I used to hate leftovers, until I had a one year old. Now I will pretty much eat dirt, as long as it is easy....and sort of nutritious.
I AM A 30-SOMETHING, FOOD-LOVING, FITNESS-OBSESSED, DIY-ING, WORK-A-HOLIC, MOMMY, DOGGY MOMMY & AND WIFEY.....THAT DECIDED TO SHARE MY LIFE WITH YOU. WELCOME AND ENJOY!