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.

IMG_9698
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.

Advertisements

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).
FullSizeRender(3)
A: Slice out the stem
FullSizeRender(2)
B: Discard the stem
IMG_5641
C: Just the leaf remains
IMG_5646
D: Line up and fold leaf
FullSizeRender
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:

IMG_5648
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.

Pumpkin Pie Yogurt?

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?

 

Apple Betty FAIL

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.

Sometimes we need to be THAT guy

How many of you use Snapchat? I use it all the time to send pictures to my family in Florida of my everyday life. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I love seeing my family easily throughout the day, but don’t get me started on their featured stories, which I HATE. (Okay, you got me started–they’re wildly inappropriate for young kids who have snapchat, and there’s no way to filter them.) Anyway, I use the “memories” feature quite a lot because I like taking pictures of my food and taking pictures of myself working out and being generally “THAT guy” on the regular.

The Snapchat memories feature allows me to do that without being THAT guy. I have a record of my workouts and can look at my accomplishments and feel good WITHOUT annoying everyone. Win/win. It also helps to motivate me to keep up my goals. No, seriously, I use it all the time:

File_000.png

It’s nice to go back over the past week and give myself a pat on the back. “Hey, you did that. You can do it this week too.”

raise roof.gif

Roasting veggies (aka taking the easy way out)

You may have realized that roasting veggies is the easiest thing in the world. If so, you may save time by not reading this post. If you haven’t, this post is for you.

Beau and I have roasted veggies at least twice a week, sometimes three times, since I’m a lazy lopple and do not have a creative bone in my body. But, it’s so good. And so easy! I can’t say no. First, pick two to three veggie combos that you wouldn’t mind eating. My favorite at the moment are Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes.

Chop about a cup-cup and a half of Brussels sprouts and a small sweet potato (or half a large one)  and place it on a foil-covered cookie sheet. Drizzle veggies with olive oil, garlic powder, cumin, pepper, and (LIGHTLY) salt. Mix together & place in an oven in either 350-400 degrees and bake for 25-30 minutes or until light brown, and kind of crispy just the way I like ‘em.

MyFitnessPal

There are things in life that I simply don’t like doing. Taking showers, for one. Doing dishes. Or folding laundry. But what happens if I don’t take care of any one of those items? Things start piling up. Grease on my hair, dishes in the sink, clothes in the hamper. All because I didn’t do something really easy that doesn’t take super long if I would JUST RIP THE BANDAID OFF ALREADY.

That brings me to the topic today. Counting calories. UGH. I used to hate, hate, hate doing this. In fact, I still don’t love it. But if I don’t do it, things start piling up. AKA weight on my body that does not belong there. I’m someone who loves food. I don’t know if you’ve gotten that impression from me, but I’m basically Liz Lemon.

somefood

But, I cannot eat like Liz Lemon and maintain her lithe figure (because that’s not how real life works unfortunately). I’ve found that counting calories works for me for several reasons:

  1. I had counted carbs before and nearly killed everyone due to NO CARBS.
  2. I basically eat what I want and don’t feel guilty.
  3. MyFitnessPal does all the hard work for me.

Counting calories is an absolute necessity for me because during the day while I’m at work, I’m sedentary. When I graduated college and got my first desk job, I continued to eat the same way as when I lived off campus, and walked everywhere because I didn’t have a car. Which manifested in my gaining TWENTY POUNDS. This was not healthy due to my height and previous weight. I didn’t feel confident, I didn’t feel like me. I was also really sluggish and depressed (which is why I didn’t feel like myself). This past summer, I began counting my calories and running, and ended up losing about 10-15 pounds. Over the holidays, I have maintained my weight, which is what I wanted to do, and now, I’m trying to get back to my initial/regular weight from over two years ago. MyFitnessPal is awesome because you can set it to lose weight, maintain, or gain weight. There are a lot of things NOT verified, but you can eyeball close enough.

I love being active, and keeping up my exercise and healthy eating is something I plan to do for my entire life, not just now to lose weight. I’m concerned for my overall health because of family history, not just my appearance.

lemon-doc
NOT ME ANYMORE (ok sometimes aka I just demolished a meal at Chuy’s but it’s okay because I budgeted my calories and worked out today)