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.
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.
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.
I also forgot to get a red onion at the store this week so I just used a white one.
Added Trader Joe’s “Salsa Autentica” as a topping.
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.
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 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:
Wash & dry greens thoroughly–if you aren’t careful, there will be some sand or dirt remaining on the leaves.
Lay out the dried leaf on a cutting board and begin slicing out the stem.
Line up and fold the leaf (images C & D).
Begin chopping into smaller pieces (E).
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:
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:
Turn the stovetop on a medium heat and place a large pot (usually I use the 1 gallon noodle pot) on top.
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.
Dump in the raw collard greens, sauté until the leaves shrink up and turn a beautiful emerald color.
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.
Add water to cover the greens.
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.
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.
When ready to serve, have the salt ready. Also a strainer to drain the juice before the greens hit your plate.
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.
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!
Dannon has come out with a seasonal treat… Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt. Interesting choice, right? Not EXACTLY the first thing I would think of when craving pumpkin-flavored fall treats. But the intrigue got to me and I bought one.
The result? It wasn’t awful. When I peeled back the lid, the consistency reminded me of cream cheese. It had the hint of a pumpkin pie scent, but the smell wasn’t overpowering. Honestly the first bite was the most pumpkin pie flavory (I’m sure that’s a real word) of the whole carton. I love a good slice of pumpkin pie, it’s smooth, creamy and doesn’t overwhelm you with the flavor of spices. True to it’s name, this yogurt reminded me of pumpkin pie in that way: it did not taste like pumpkin spice. The yogurt was tangy, like most Greek yogurt, and almost had the essence of a pumpkin pie. That being said, I don’t see myself eating more than my trial container. If I were to get it again, I would add cinnamon in, like I usually do to my vanilla Greek yogurt. That would help bring out more of the flavor and lessen the tang.
Any other recommendations for the fall tasting season?
You all know by now that I’m really good ruining recipe execution. I’m really learning how bad I am at following instructions. I’m not a good enough of a chef/baker to improvise. So, let me share with you my lovely story of this fail, just because it’s fun.
So, I have a cast iron skillet I received for our wedding and I have never used it. I put the thought in my pretty little mind that I would season it and make an apple betty. I followed the instructions on the Kitchn’s website to season my skillet. When I pulled it out of the oven, it was completely gross and sticky. I had never seen a skillet like this. I couldn’t figure out what happened, but a Google search led me to this article. Well, it turns out I used way too much vegetable oil and rendered my skillet sticky and basically disgusting to handle. To be fair, the article did not emphasize the importance of LIGHTLY seasoning the pan. As the stubborn girl I am, I decided to keep calm and carry on without fixing the issue.
When making the betty, I decided to follow a few recipes, first one from Allrecipes, and Betty Crocker, figuring she would know about it since she shares a name. The reason I chose two is because I wanted to use some oatmeal for the topping. See below for a step by step failure graphic:
So here’s what I would change about my rendering of this recipe:
Re-seasoning the skillet before starting the recipe.
Peeling the skin of the apples before adding them to the skillet. The texture when biting into them was less than ideal.
Make more topping to fully cover the apples in the skillet.
I would also add some caramel drizzle, that sounds like a delicious addition.
Also it made a ton, which I could never eat so much. I ended up tossing the whole thing because I am not about to waste my calories on something that isn’t deletable. Hope you enjoyed this failure and decided to try something new to make. The best part of failure is learning from your mistakes.