“Big Things Mixed Together to Create A Smorgasbord of Deliciousness” AKA Chicken And Mushroom Soup

Yep, you read that right.

“Big things mixed together to create a smorgasbord of deliciousness,” are the words Lance used to describe the dinner I prepared last Friday evening.  It’s not exactly the description I was expecting, but nevertheless, I took it as a compliment!

On the daily, I’m casually and consistently looking through Instagram, Pinterest, and “the Google,” in search of easy, delicious, and paleo/Whole30 recipes. I have bookmarked my favorite food bloggers i.e. ” The Regulars” on my iPhone for easy viewing.  They don’t know it, but we’re pretty good friends as far as I’m concerned and a part of my everyday life 🙂

As I was scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, late last week, this beauty popped up from this food blogger’s Insta page…

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and the rest is history.

Now, you can find her amazing recipe here and follow it exactly if you’d like…she won’t steer you wrong. I, however, in the name of making it “compliant” changed it up a bit. I will say, by making the changes I did, it’s not so “creamy,” but still very delicious and even Lance approved.

Gather your ingredients below and let’s get started!

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Ingredients 

(As listed from her site for Creamy Chicken Mushroom Soup with my adjustments)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 16 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter ghee
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced (I used 8-12 oz bag of Publix’s baby carrots and sliced those)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced (I purchased (2) 2 oz pre-diced packages from Whole Foods)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup half and half, or more, as needed* 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 sprig rosemary I actually, just kind of forgot to add this…oops!

Instructions

(As listed from her site with my adjustments)

  • Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper, to taste. Add chicken to the stockpot and cook until golden, about 2-3 5-6 minutes; set aside.

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  • Melt butter in the stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic, mushrooms, onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 7-8 minutes. Stir in thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute.

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  • Whisk in flour until lightly browned (my coconut flour never actually browned), about 1 minute. Whisk in chicken stock, bay leaf and chicken thighs, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes.

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  • Stir in half and half coconut milk until heated through, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. If the soup is too thick, add more half and half as needed until desired consistency is reached.

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  • Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and rosemary, if desired.

This was delish. It tastes more like a good ole’ homemade chicken soup that your mom would make when you were ill…well, back in those days my mom didn’t actually cook, so canned Campbell’s it was. But it still did the job and it didn’t seem to kill us. So, thanks, Mom, I still love you! 🙂

Given our current cooler temps and rain-filled weather forecast, I’d say it’s a perfect recipe! Make the soup, get in your sweats, and pretend that it’s not getting back into the 70’s again this week.

We warmed it up for lunch the following day and I had it again for lunch today. I have no problems eating leftovers on the regular, and I sort of force Lance to “not mind” eating leftovers on the regular. Just think, if I had a fancy kitchen with two ovens, I could make not only double, but triple, even quadruple a recipe and we could eat it for weeeeeeeeeeks! A girl can dream 🙂

So, what’s on the menu for this week?

Sprouts had their Boneless Beef Chuck Roast on sale for $2.99/lb this weekend, so we got greedy and grabbed three packages and with 1/3, I attempted my first roast. I am not in love with it, but I’m forcing myself to eat it again for dinner tonight. Poor Lance doesn’t know that it’s his duty in life to finish that recipe tonight. So, here’s to second chances with this crockpot roast recipe! (I hear cooking them in the oven is best, but I don’t have an oven safe pot, and I tried cooking it on the stovetop for 3 hours per directions, but ended up having to move it all to a crockpot and finish on high for 3 additional hours.)

While at Sprout’s, I also picked up the ingredients for a Lemon Garlic Chicken Zoodles recipe that I’ll make this week. While I don’t have a spiralizer, I plan on using my julienne peeler until I order this beauty.

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 Depending on how long all of that lasts us, I’ll likely be making another round of the One Sheet Pan Chicken and Veggies dinner from last week because I grabbed a pack of chicken thighs on sale at Sprout’s.

As a bonus this weekend, I also made The Best Ever Paleo Banana Bread. I was a little hesitant and unsure because I assumed it would turn out dry and I would have wasted a lot of ingredients. Ummm…wrong. It’s so flippin’ good! It was SO easy, too! You put your ingredients in a blender (mine is nothing fancy and it worked just fine) and pour into a bread pan to cook. There’s also a Paleo Pumpkin Bread that I got ingredients to make…but since I pretty much ate the entire banana bread pan by myself, I think it’d be wise to wait a bit on that pumpkin recipe! Does that count as self control? (I may or may not have “forgotten” to tell Lance that I made the bread so that I wouldn’t have to share….oh the shame!)

The Food Hangover Remedy {Plus A Deliciously Easy Dinner Recipe!}

It happened.

We’re tired, cranky, bloated, nauseated, feel as though we need to pop an ibuprofen, incredibly thirsty, craving a Jack’s gravy biscuit (OK, not really, but it seemed fitting), and there’s a lingering headache.

No, we didn’t spend our Halloween weekend in a bar…

But we did spend it indulging in candy, sweet potato fries, and ice cream.

 Rewind to a few months ago and the portion sizes of said candy, fries, and ice cream would have been close to my body weight in volume. Fast forward to the present, and over a three day span, I had around five snack sized bags of candy, not an entire plate of sweet potato fries, and a mini sized blizzard that I really didn’t want (Dearest Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Blizzard, you were worth it and don’t let anyone tell you differently. ❤ Mal’s taste buds).

Those treats (or tricks?) themselves are not bad. Indulging in them this weekend was not bad. I did not feel guilty. And I didn’t have regret.

Want a cupcake? Cookie? Candy bar? Candy corn? Chips? Okay, that’s not the end of the world. But, why? Are you tired, stressed, fresh out of an argument and it’s just an impulse decision? Is it simply a habit to eat a salty and/or sweet treat on Halloween or another holiday? Is it a way for you to cover up what you’re actually feeling…not good enough, not pretty, unloved, a bad wife, friend, employee? The food itself is not bad and these feelings themselves are not bad, but when we use that same food as a way to “push under the rug,” our feelings and emotions, choose not to deal with them, let them grow and grow, and keep feeding our stomach instead of our soul…that is when it is unhealthy.

So, wait a few minutes, a couple hours, or even a day, drink some water, and see if you still want it. Figure out why you want it and what you’re expecting to get out of it.

If you still do, have it. If you don’t, congratulations, you don’t have to eat it because it’s there and you have your power back. If you did eat it, how did it make you feel after? How much did you need to eat to be satisfied? OR did you eat the entire Costco sized bag of mixed candy bars??

{Someone made a comment in passing this weekend that stood out to me. God gave us taste buds. If he didn’t want us to enjoy food, he wouldn’t have given us taste buds. Food was not simply given to sustain us but He also gives it to us for our enjoyment. In order to enjoy something, you can not be bound to it in such a way that it produces negative consequences. It should never make you feel like less of a person, or disgusted with yourself, or as a means to find your value as a human being. If anything other than God himself does that on your behalf, you will never measure up. Even if you never touch grains, sugar, soda, and dairy ever again.}

Give yourself a chance to think about the “why’s” of your eating habits.

Personally, for us, it’s simply about how these foods make us feel in regards to our GI system, my skin breakouts, and energy. And because of that…

Needless to say, the game face is back on. Lance and I decided we are going to “Whole30” it for 2 weeks. I realize this is not a Whole30, but that’s not the point of what we’re doing. I do think people are sometimes shocked when they see me indulge in a bite of a brownie, because they say, “What are you doing?! That’s not Whole30! What happened to Whole30?!” It’s like I got caught red handed in a love affair with the brownie bite, and at any moment the Whole30 police sirens will sound and before I know it, I’ll be face down with someone reading me my Whole30 rights while handcuffing my hands behind my back.

And to this I say…

You’re right, it’s not Whole30. But the Whole30 is just that…30. Not Whole365. We did the Whole30. And as of today, we’re doing a bit of a reset and calling it a Whole14.

As I’ve said before, we’ve seen and felt the benefits from following that lifestyle, and 95% of the time that’s how we choose to eat. If nothing else, moments filled with sugar, dairy, and fried goods make me thankful for the way I feel the other 95% and remind me why it’s worth the effort.

Speaking of effort, last week I made an incredibly easy, successful, healthy, and satisfying dinner that I’d love for you to add to your, Five Minute Prep Dinner Menu!

I got the idea from this “One Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken Dinner,” by laughing spatula.

I chose to use

Bone-in skin-on chicken thighs (on sale at Publix)

2 pounds red potatoes (Sprouts)

16 oz bag of baby carrots (Publix)

Less that 2-4 T olive oil

Dried rosemary

Dried garlic

Salt

Pepper

Cutting board

Knife

1 Gallon sized, resealable plastic bag

At the same time, I opted to separately roast a few sweet potatoes using my favorite recipe of coconut oil and salt so that I’d have some for the week.

AFTER all your ingredients are gathered, (feel free to substitute other vegetables, but for simplicity of using one pan to cook at one time, I’d choose similar root vegetables. For example, broccoli will definitely burn if you follow this recipe), preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

WASH and cut your red potatoes. I like mine cut into four parts each.

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ADD cut potatoes and baby carrots into the gallon sized plastic bag.

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ADD in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic, salt, and rosemary to taste (you can always add more once in the baking pan.)

Per usual, like Taylor Swift…shake, shake, shake. 

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Tip: While you are shaking to mix ingredients, leave air in the bag, fold down the resealable portion of bag and hold the folded down portion while shaking. Otherwise, the bag may open, sending your oily vegetables flying…on your freshly mopped floor. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.

ONCE combined, place those veggies on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and start preparing chicken.

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There were four thighs per package, and it came out to around $1 per chicken thigh with TONS of flavor pay off…thank you very much. 

REPEAT the same method for chicken as you did for the vegetables.

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It’s not pretty, but it’s effective! (These plastic bags are from ALDI. I can’t bring myself to use my brand name bags for this method)

PLACE seasoned chicken thighs on top of the veggies placed on baking pan.

COOK in the oven for the recommended 40-50 minutes, (40 minutes for me), and before you know it…

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Dinner is served!

Last week, I made this Tuesday evening and again on Friday evening. Lance and I went to the movies Friday, but didn’t have time to grab dinner before (and let’s be real…movie/dinner dates are SO expensive overpriced these days!), so I packed this up and we ate it in the car 🙂 Fancy, I know.

I had it for lunch today as well, and it’s still just as good.

How we’re getting back to our new normal

Following a splurge weekend, like I said before, we are ready to feel “Whole30-fied” again.

So, on the menu for the week is this new crockpot butternut squash soup that is “crock potting” as we speak. I left out the sage (simply because I didn’t have it), added cinnamon, and subbed canned coconut milk for almond milk. Fingers crossed it’s edible!

I’ve already prepped the walnuts, spices, and de-thawed the pork for this old faithful of a recipe, and I plan on roasting some broccoli with this as well.

As sure as the sun rises and sets, I’ll be making cubed sweet potatoes with coconut oil and salt at some point.

From last week I have a couple more servings of the above chicken thigh recipe and some cooked ground deer meat. Yum!

Sidenote

If you are concerned about the fat of the chicken thighs, don’t be. If you are eating a healthy diet that doesn’t include grains and processed sugar, the healthy fats and their calories are what keep you satiated, full, and also energy filled.

I always say that I’ve eaten more fat from ghee, raw and seasoned nuts, avocados, and oils than I have my entire life. AND guess what????

My jeans fit better than ever. 

Yep!

{Healthy} fat in moderation doesn’t make you fat!

Now, if you’re eating too many almonds or pecans, and having too many spoonfuls of almond butter because “it’s healthy,” so, “I can eat as much as I want,” and using ghee for cooking while still munching on fries, ice cream, chocolates, bars, chips, etc…your jeans won’t fit better…even if the waistband is elastic.

Soooo, there’s that. 

P.S. My sweet, cute, fun, beautiful, and new to being a mom friend, Lexie, posted a blog today with a sweet potato shepherds pie recipe that I can basically guarantee is delicious! And it’s paleo/Whole30 approved 🙂

Salmon Saves The Day (And Quite Possibly Our Marriage)

I don’t know about you, but our marriage doesn’t flourish when we get home late, we’re tired, we’re hungry, and then we realize there is nothing prepared for us to eat. Especially when the days of popping some popcorn for “dinner” are long gone.

In fact, this is a recipe for disaster. Given the recipe of hunger + fatigue, I may or may not turn in to a 2 year old that just realized she’s never getting her pacifier again, she’s expected to pee pee in the potty, AND she was just told that Santa, in fact, is not real.

Say what??? No. Way.

And while Lance is generally graceful in regards to my craziness, when he is hungry, his stomach decides to munch on said grace until it’s given food, and he loses his patience with my shenanigans 🙂 Who could blame him? So, now you have not one, but two recipes for disaster.

Help.

Before having my (two year old, no longer wearing pull-ups, Christmas will never be the same) tantrum, I decide to look in the fridge, AND GUESS WHAT?! Super smart, prepared (***Now 30 year old****yikes!!), Mallory left some salmon in the fridge to be cooked when we got home. Winning! More than just a pretty face people! Now, our marriage, again, is safe 😉 Who needs counseling when you have salmon?

Thank you, Lord, for my husband, our marriage…and now, salmon. Amen.

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Can we talk about how easy this was? I never got hangry, not once.

Salmon

PREHEAT oven to 400 degrees

LINE a baking sheet with parchment paper

DRIZZLE olive oil over pieces of salmon and rub it in

SPRINKLE with salt, pepper, paprika, and turmeric (I’ve been totally obsessed with this lately)

SLICE a lemon thinly and place over salmon

COOK for 10-15 minutes depending on how you like your fish cooked. (I cooked ours 12 minutes)

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It tasted good, I promise.

Now, while salmon is really good, it’d be a LOT better served with a side or two.

No fresh veggies in the fridge…

No sweet potatoes sitting on the counter…

Wait…the freezer! 

A couple months ago at ALDI, I had purchased an “Oriental Medley” of sorts from the frozen section. I checked out the ingredients (with my fingers crossed) and they are approved…sort of. The listed vegetables look great but there’s a packaged sauce also in the bag and it’s filled with unpronounceable ingredients that I’m sure will kill me, and then I won’t even get to enjoy the above salmon. Fail.

But, wait! Luckily, the sauce was contained in a sealed package inside of the bag of veggies, so the vegetables remained unscathed and the bag of poison is now in the trash. Win.

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After dumping the vegetables in the stovetop pan, I spied with my little eye something yellow…

Do you see it?

Look close…

Look to the bottom right… 5 o’clock…

CORN!

Corn is a grain and grains are a Whole30 no-no.

The Trickery! Corn was listed at the VERY bottom of the ingredient list, after the sauce “ingredients” while the other veggies were listed at the beginning.

Did I throw out the whole pan and go to the only open source of groceries…Wal Mart? Of course not! I just started picking out pieces of corn…from the hot pan…with my hands. Way to go, Mal. Way. To. Go.

My fingertips survived, however not unscathed. Good thing I wasn’t looking forward to the corn, because they totally cheat you on the corn quantity. (Now I see why it was listed last) Beware corn lovers!

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Moving on…

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Oriental Vegetable Medley

TURN pan on medium high

ONCE hot place cooking oil in pan and let melt

TRANSFER frozen vegetables into hot pan, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes

REMOVE lid and season with salt, pepper, paprika, and 2 T coconut aminos

STIR, replace lid, and let sit 5 more minutes

REMOVE lid, stir, and remove from pan if they are thoroughly cooked. If not, continue to stir until done.

And then, ladies and gentleman, dinner is served!

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and lunch…

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and then dinner again…

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This took, at the most, 20 minutes from beginning to end and we have eaten off this for daaaaays, which I love! It’s great for breakfast (place salmon over a bed of lettuce and top with a fried egg, perhaps), lunch and dinner.

In my book, this is a win-win situation.

And in the Whole30 book, this is a win-win as well.

So there’s just a bunch of winning!

Why is salmon a must?

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

High Quality Protein

Essential Amino Acids

Vitamin A

Vitamin D

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B

Vitamin E

Omega What?

Omega-3 Fatty Acids 😉

Protect heart health

Reduce risk of sudden death from heart disease

Reduce risk of stroke

Reduce chance of heart disease in Type 2 Diabetes

Essential in infant brain and eye development during pregnancy and infancy

Improve blood lipid patterns

Improve blood vessel function

Improve symptoms of immune and inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, Chrone’s disease and some skin conditions

Reduce the risk of some mental disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and depression

*This and more information on salmon, wild vs farm raised, and additional health benefits can be found here.

Whole30 Recipe Attempt: Stuffed Peppers {A Messy Success}

The path to success is not always neat and pretty.

Sometimes it looks like a vegetable filled bomb exploded in your kitchen and over 3 hours of preparation later, you have a meal! (And are ready to quickly prepare a few more)

If you would have told me a few years ago that I’d enjoy cooking and eating whole foods, I would have laughed while trying to keep the Zaxby’s chicken finger in my mouth. My idea of healthy was drinking a diet Mtn Dew instead of the real deal.

We’ve come a long way! We still have further to go, so below is a recipe straight out of the Whole30 Book. One good decision at a time!


Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:

4 bell peppers

3 T cooking fat

1/4C finely chopped onion

2 cloves garlic (or 1 t garlic powder)

4 kale leaves (I used 1/2 head broccoli)

1 pound ground meat

2 T tomato paste

1/4 t cumin

1/4 t chili powder

1/2 t salt

1/4 black pepper

1 C finely chopped winter squash

Directions

PREHEAT the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a deep baking dish with parchment paper.

WITH a paring knife, slice around the top of each bell pepper and gently pull up on the stem. Discard the seeded core. Place the peppers in the prepared dish. Bake for 10 minutes, until softened. Set aside.

source & source

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MEANWHILE, melt the cooking fat in a large skillet over medium heat and swirl to coat the bottom. When the fat is hot, add the onion and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the kale (Or in my case, broccoli that I pulsed in food processor until finely chopped), and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add the ground meat and cook, breaking up the meat with a spatula or wooden spoon and stirring it into the vegetables, for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Cook until the meat is mostly browned, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in the squash and cook until the squash is slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes.

DIVIDE the meat and squash mixture evenly among the softened bell peppers. Return to oven and bake for 10 minutes, until the peppers look wrinkly and the beef is slightly browned on top.

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Dinner is served!


Lessons Learned

Use a Large skillet. Mine filled up the largest delegated spot on the stove, but it was still overflowing, so mid-way through I swapped to a soup pot.

Carefully and thoroughly read directions. The above mishap could have been because instead of 1 C butternut squash I misread it as 1 whole butternut squash…oops!

Simplicity is your friend not your enemy. I had this going while trying to boil cauliflower for this recipe, cutting up sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts for another, and chopping walnuts and combining spices for another. Needless to say, this is too much.

Have all ingredients prepped and ready prior to beginning. Surely this recommendation wasn’t intended for me. Surely. Well it wasn’t sure was! Let’s just say I stepped right aboard the Hot Mess Express when I skipped this step. Keep your ticket for that train wreck and prep! 🙂