Whole30 Recipe: Jalapeño Popper Chicken Stuffed Baked Potatoes

In my first week of Whole30, I found this recipe for Jalapeño Popper Chicken Stuffed Baked Potatoes by Brittany of @SmithFamilyKitchen and tweaked it a bit to fit what I had in my kitchen. And let me tell you, it was delish and so quick and easy.

My plate looks like a complete mess but it was so good.

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The final product.

My tweaks:

  1. I only used two chicken tenderloins since I was the only one eating it. I seasoned them with sea salt, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and chili powder to keep the flavor.
  2. I don’t have any compliant mayo so I subbed an avocado instead. I spritzed with lime so that way I could have leftovers tomorrow without the avocado being too brown. I had the leftovers the next day on cauliflower rice and lettuce.
  3. I also forgot to get a red onion at the store this week so I just used a white one.
  4. Added Trader Joe’s “Salsa Autentica” as a topping.
  5. I didn’t do this, but I would add more bacon next time. It brought out a good flavor and I love jalapeño poppers. Without the cheese I wanted more bacon!

See below for my step by step meal. I kept the seeds in so it would spice up the dish. I like spicy foods.

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7 tips for a road trip with a newborn (??!)

I am not a fan of long car rides. I don’t like being in a car for that long. It feels like a complete waste of a day and you only get so many days in your life, you know? Anyway, my parents recently moved to Tampa and we decided to go visit them during my maternity leave and for baby girl’s first Christmas. The drive from Louisville, KY to Tampa, FL is about 13 hours without a newborn. I know… WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, KELSEY??

All I can say is that I planned this before baby girl was born & as the days got closer and closer, I dreaded the drive and wished we had bought plane tickets 6 weeks out. I know flying in a plane has its challenges, but I felt that it would have been easier with a shorter time frame. The grass is always greener, right?

Anyway, the drive went smoothly with only a few hiccups. Our baby is such a good girl, she didn’t really complain. Here are my tips:

  1. Have one parent sit in the back with the newborn. In this situation, that parent was me. My husband prefers driving and other drivers don’t cause him road rage like they do me, so this was an easy decision. I sat in the back with baby girl and was there to tend to her needs and try to get her to sleep.
  2. Pack snacks. I packed several snacks to eliminate additional stops for food. We only stopped for food during lunch & dinner. I kept a cooler in the back with me & was able to hand Beau any snacks & Diet Dr. Pepper during the drive.
  3. Let go of all expectations. As much as I tried to do this, I fell short. I really wanted to get there within an hour of the original time amount causing me severe anxiety when we didn’t make that goal. All self-inflicted.
  4. Bottle-feed if possible. This saved us a ton of time, since I could feed baby girl while we were driving. Like I said above, I kept a cooler in the back with me and just kept making bottles in the car when needed. This may not be possible, in which case see tip above.
  5. Stop every two hours (ish). The biggest issue that poor baby girl faced was my fault. She fell asleep after I had fed her two bottles, so I told Beau to go on. We made it four hours without stopping and felt really great about it. That was, until we stopped and we couldn’t get our poor baby to stop crying for about 30 minutes due to trapped gas. You live and you learn. We made a rule to evaluate how baby girl was doing every two hours OR immediately after baby girl finished eating. We also tried to combine stops. For instance, Beau would pump gas and run to the restroom while I burped & changed baby girl. Then I would hand her over to Beau who would continue burping her (we really wanted to prevent that first breakdown from happening again).
  6. Bring a few toys & books. I packed a few toys to hang on baby girl’s carseat to entertain her during the drive and packed a few books to read. I really did not plan on using them. However! When we got stuck in traffic and were not moving at a smooth clip, baby girl got a little fussy. She likes to move! So, I read her a book and it seemed to work to get her calmed down. I only packed two books and two hangers on. After all, she was only 6 weeks old!
  7. Give yourself time. I had built in days for travel when I planned this trip, so if things went to pot completely, we could just stop halfway through and stay at a hotel. It wouldn’t have been ideal, but it gave me peace of mind to have that exit strategy if we needed to take it.

It ended up taking us 16 hours to get there and 14 hours to come back (back is supposed to be 12.5 hrs). Atlanta traffic KILLED us. Thanks a lot, ATL.

Hopefully these tips help you to make a decision on whether you can brave the road trip with a newborn. I’ve heard mixed reactions in regards to taking babies out on the road that early and for so long, but I am only listening to the people who say it will make her a better traveler. Positivity, baby! Let me know any other tips below.

Whole30: Week One

If you follow my Instagram, you would see more real-time about how my Whole30 is going so far. And so far I WANT SUGAR. I cannot imagine how a recovering drug addict feels. This is so much less than that, but when I get in the car to drive five minutes down the road, my mind is going a mile a minute at what places I can stop at to fulfill this craving. I mean, it’s insane. Example of my brain:

*Driving down the road, passing restaurant after restaurant*
“Oh, there’s Chick-fil-a, I could go for some waffle fries. Or a milkshake. They still have peppermint milkshakes, I should have gone before I started this Whole30. Wait, there’s Dairy Queen, a simple cone would be good. It’s kind of cold actually, let’s go to Skyline. Oooh there’s Taco Bell, I could stop there for a taco. Maybe Dominos would do instead, a hot pizza sounds so bomb right now.”

Literally it’s hard for me to carry on a conversation because my mind is thinking of all the food I can’t have. Not to mention, Beau isn’t partaking in the Whole30 and there’s a ton of candy sitting around the house. Hopefully this next week will be better. PLEASE say it will get better.

Collard me impressed

Collard greens remind me of some of my favorite mealtimes as a child. They are in season after the first frost, so I remember enjoying them throughout winter months. My dad is from North Carolina, and my nana loved to cook these veggies for him up all season long.

Most memorably on New Year’s Day, my mom continues the tradition of making black eyed peas, cornbread, collard greens, ham, and “ham rice” as I called it (otherwise known as rice soaked in ham juice). A few of these foods are symbols for prosperity or luck in the coming year:

  • black eyed peas: loose change – you should eat enough so you’ll be rich
  • collards: dollar bills/greenbacks – again, the more you eat, the more money you’ll have
  • cornbread: gold – obviously, symbolizes a pot of gold, but also gold is lucky
  • ham: moving forward/progress – a pig cannot turn it’s head to look behind

I enjoy collards because they are great for you and a break from the “normal” veggies we typically eat further north. They aren’t difficult to prepare.

If you use fresh collards, here’s how to prepare them:

  1. Wash & dry greens thoroughly–if you aren’t careful, there will be some sand or dirt remaining on the leaves.
  2. Lay out the dried leaf on a cutting board and begin slicing out the stem.
  3. Discard stems.
  4. Line up and fold the leaf (images C & D).
  5. Begin chopping into smaller pieces (E).
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A: Slice out the stem
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B: Discard the stem
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C: Just the leaf remains
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D: Line up and fold leaf
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E: Chop into smaller pieces

When slicing them, I didn’t have time to cook them as I wanted to so, I simply sealed up for the next day. Here’s what the bag of slices looked like:

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F: Thickly sliced raw collards

Being the dumb person I am, I forgot to take pics after I made them. But here’s the super top secret recipe handed down from Nana to Mom to me:

  1. Turn the stovetop on a medium heat and place a large pot (usually I use the 1 gallon noodle pot) on top.
  2. Fill with about 1/4 cup of canola/vegetable oil if you’re using a whole head of greens. If not, scale back. There’s no real magic number for the amount of oil to use, typically we just do it to taste. AKA YOU CANNOT MESS THIS UP PEOPLE.
  3. Dump in the raw collard greens, sauté until the leaves shrink up and turn a beautiful emerald color.
  4. Add a teaspoon of pepper and a tablespoon of salt. You can add more salt and pepper to taste, but I like waiting until you can salt your serving yourself.
  5. Add water to cover the greens.
    1. In this step, you can halve the water and add ham juice if you’re preparing with your New Year’s meal, or you can add a beef bullion cube if you’re just making these for kicks not on NYD.
  6. Cover the pot and turn down your heat dial to let simmer for 30-45 minutes. Keep adding water to make sure they are mostly covered.
  7. When ready to serve, have the salt ready. Also a strainer to drain the juice before the greens hit your plate.
  8. If you have any leftover to store, they freeze really well, but DO NOT DISCARD THE JUICE. Keep the collards and the juice together to preserve the flavor.

Mid-December Update

Guys, my little nugget is almost 6 weeks old. The last six weeks have been… well. Life changing to say the least.

We’ve gotten our bearings a little, but not completely. I mean, how can you? How does anyone? The hardest part of having our sweet little newborn is the lack of sleep. Which everyone warns you about. But you don’t fully comprehend how little sleep you get until she’s here and waking you up. Day after day, week after week. Luckily she’s cute.

In other news, I’ve lost my baby weight, however my belly pooch lives on. Oh well. It seems that all my attempts to stay active and eat healthy have paid off. That was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life (my, how easy my life has been). But I’m anxious to get started again. The doc has cleared me for exercise, but I am taking it easy through the holidays. In January, I’ll be starting back slowly to exercise with walking to back to running. I’m hoping my back doesn’t give me trouble. I have also been planning on doing the January Whole30 challenge to get myself weaned off of sugar and back in the healthy mindset.

I’ve planned out several meals for the month, and will be hoping to meal prep for breakfast and lunches on the Saturday or Sunday before the week. It’s going to be tough with the baby but I’m hoping that it will actually make me have more energy on less sleep. Anyone else going to do a Whole30 in January?

Take it easy, have a merry Christmas & a happy new year!

Mismash of Thoughts

Hello hello hello! No baby yet. The last few weeks have been a mixture of trying to get everything done while simultaneously being a complete couch potato. It’s been a mixed bag so far. ANYWAY!

Tomorrow is Halloween, and we’ve got enough candy stocked for any trick-or-treaters who may stop by. We didn’t get any last year that I know of, so we’ll see. Although, now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t think we were home last year. So that would explain the absence of candy-grabbers.

The fall leaves have been changing here, and I am LOVING it. It’s even gotten cold enough for a fire! in our fireplace, the first fire of the season! We lit it up last night while we started watching Stranger Things 2. We’ve only just finished episode two, but I personally think it’s going a little slowly. I’m not going to give up on it. But I think it should’ve picked up by the second episode. The audience is getting slowly back into everyday life in Hawkins. Maybe that’s what they’re trying to say–everyday life in Hawkins IS slow. POINT PROVEN. Will watch more and report back.

Hope you are enjoying the seasons changing… & before you know it, pretty soon it will be time to put my Christmas tree up (mid-November HEHE). Happy Halloween!

Run to your kitchen right now

and make these Levain Bakery copycat cookies by A Bountiful Kitchen.

My husband absolutely loves these cookies. Like, he requests me to make them every week. And so, like the good wife that I am, I oblige (for the most part).

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Beau & me after I make these cookies. (Source.)

I’m torn because they are obviously not healthy. But they are so! chocolatey! And I loooove chocolate.

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Me. Always.

My modifications:

  1. Beau has a nut allergy, so I do not use peanut butter chips. I use dark chocolate chips. I know, I know. So! Chocolatey!
  2. I don’t use the two 10 ounce bags of chips. I just use one 10 ounce bag. I like to think that this makes them a little healthier.
  3. I also make the cookies a lot smaller–about the size of my palm. This yields about 26 total cookies.
  4. Beau likes to put these cookies in the fridge? I have not tried this, but if you do please tell me the appeal. I don’t get it. I like my cookies warm & fresh out the oven.

Let me know how you like them and if they become a staple dessert in your kitchen.