Snowmaggedon and Thin Crust Pizza

Hello Friends!

It’s been way too long since I’ve updated my blog. I’ve been so busy, but that is no excuse! I write to you from my couch right after a delicious and early dinner of the best thin crust pizza. We had a huge snow storm come through this weekend, so what did I do? I cooked, cleaned, and played around on my yoga mat. I’ve been practicing yoga for several years, but just recently I’ve made it a part of my every day life. It feels so good to work towards a goal every day. I feel happier, healthier, and stronger. I’m slowly working towards inversions, starting with the tripod headstand. This past Saturday, we were snowed in, and I was growing restless. I combined pilates, barre, and yoga for an awesome workout and ended with my “almost there” tripod headstand. I’ll get there eventually.

Headstand

This morning I woke up and felt rested and happy. The world was quiet and calm. Jason had to go into work early today, so I slept in and drowsily read my book until I was ready to leave my cocoon of blankets. I decided I should take a peek out the back door and see how badly my car was covered in snow. I knew it was going to bad, but I was NOT prepared for what I saw.

Snow before

I almost started to cry. However, I knew I had to get this done because Jason would be tired and worn out after having gone into work so early. Luckily a very nice man with a plow on his truck cleared away a lot of what you see behind my car. He took pity on me. I had been at it for about 30 minutes and only cleared a small semi-circle. Another nice man stopped by for a couple minutes and helped me shovel, but he eventually took off as well. I was all on my own and after 4 hours, I had it cleared! This is quite possibly the best workout I’ve had in a long time. My body is tired and wrists are sore but my heart is full and I feel quite accomplished.

Snow after

I spent the next hour practicing yoga and easing my sore muscles. Jason came home shortly after and I know he was pleased that he didn’t have to deal with that mess! An easy dinner was on the menu tonight. Red pepper and onion thin crust pizza.

I buy my crusts pre-made. I always chose organic, whole wheat, non-GMO. I topped this delicious thin crust with a bit of marinara sauce, fresh mozzarella, sliced red pepper and onion, and finely grated pepper jack cheese. I baked it in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes and it was perfect. I topped it with a little salt, pepper, and garlic powder before serving.

Red pepper and onion pizza

It was perfect! Crunchy, salty, cheesey, and delicious. This pizza warmed us from the inside out and the red wine surely didn’t hurt either!

I hope you all enjoyed your snow day. xoxo.

 

Cooking Light: Buffalo Chicken Thighs

I found another delicious and budget friendly dinner from Cooking Light that I had to share with you guys. This recipe only costs $2.22 per person. WHAT?! It also only has 318 calories per serving, which is two thighs. And while it may be low on calories it’s definitely not low on flavor. Again, I shopped at Trader Joe’s for more cost savings; however, they did not have any bone-in chicken thighs. I had to get the kosher leg quarters, which is a thigh and a leg. It worked perfectly, but I did have to cook it a little longer.

First, remove all the skin from the chicken. This is a little time consuming but necessary. Then combine flour, salt, garlic powder, and red (cayenne) pepper in a large zip lock bag. Add chicken pieces to the bag one at a time and shake. Make sure every little nook and cranny is coated and then shake off the excess. Discard the flour mixture & bag. Heat olive oil in a large pan and add chicken. Brown on both sides (approximately 5 minutes each side). Transfer chicken to an oven safe dish and bake at 400 (recipe says 375 but I went with 400) degrees. I let mine cook for 45 minutes, even though the recipe only says 8, because the chicken pieces were so big. It was cooked perfectly. When the chicken is done cooking, microwave the butter and hot sauce for 15-30 seconds, until the butter is melted and then drizzle on top of your delicious chicken!

Buffalo Chicken Thighs

YUMMMM. I served this chicken with roasted potatoes. I tossed sliced fingerling potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roasted them in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. I popped them back in the oven for about 5 minutes when the chicken was almost finished cooking to warm them back up. This was my take on healthier bar food, wings & fries! The chicken is deliciously spicy and really tastes just like a fried chicken wing. It was so delicious. The potatoes were cooked perfectly. This chicken would also be fantastic with a side salad topped with creamy ranch or blue cheese. Don’t hesitate. Make these after Thanksgiving!

For some fun Thanksgiving side ideas, see my earlier post on Sweet Potatoes and Brussels! I hope you all have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

xoxo

Cooking Light: Turkey Sausage, Mushroom, and Potato Gratin

Jason and I are in saving mode. We have a February trip in the works for our dear friend’s 30th birthday and we are also saving to buy a house, one day. That being said, I decided that I wanted to look for some budget friendly meals and Cooking Light came to the rescue! This Turkey Sausage, Mushroom, and Potato Gratin was the perfect Sunday dinner and it only costs $2.27 per serving. That is downright economical! I also shopped at Trader Joe’s which also helps your wallet. However, you can’t always find the right ingredients which can be frustrating. They didn’t have spicy Italian turkey sausage, they only had sweet Italian pork sausage, so I had to get creative. The pork sausage added some additional fat, I’m sure, but it ended up tasting delicious. I added quite a lot of red pepper flakes to achieve the spiciness that was missing and it worked perfectly.

First, prep all your ingredients so you really only have to throw everything in the pan. Dice the onion, slice the mushrooms, dice the potato, and shred your cheese. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Remove the casings from the sausage and brown in a large skillet (as the sausage was browning I added the red pepper flakes for some heat). Once the sausage is cooked through remove it from the pan and let it drain on a paper towel. Wipe out the pan and add a tablespoon of butter. Sauté the onion in the butter until soft and fragrant and then add your mushrooms. Cook for about 6 minutes and then add your potatoes. Cook for an additional 4-6 minutes or until the potatoes have browned slightly. They won’t be cooked through which is fine. Add your chicken stock and sausage to the pan and stir to combine. Pour the sausage mixture into a lightly greased casserole dish and top with Swiss cheese. Cover and bake for 30 minutes and then uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes. I let this sit for a couple minutes which I would recommend because it is piping hot! Spoon into a dish and top with fresh thyme.

Turkey Sausage, mushroom, and potato gratin

This dinner was so satisfying and flavorful. The spiciness from the red pepper flakes was a necessary addition since I was using sweet Italian sausage. The mushrooms just soak up all that butter flavor and honestly I just love mushrooms and onions together. The perfect combo. This dinner takes a little while to cook, so I would recommend this for a weekend. I liked it so much that I’m planning to make it for my family the day before Christmas!

Cooking Light: Beer Braised Chicken Thighs

I was searching for a new Sunday dinner recipe and came across this Beer Braised Chicken Thighs recipe from Cooking Light. It was perfect because we have left-over Guinness in our fridge that we will never drink. This turned out pretty delicious, however, I’m not sure what the benefit of the flour is. I think it would have been delicious without that coating. To me it was just a little gummy, but I guess it’s all personal preference. The mushrooms and onions in this dish are TO DIE FOR. I could have eaten a whole plate of just those. And from the picture below, it kind of looks like I did…

Bone-in, skin-less chicken is required for this dish. You don’t want to use skin-on chicken because it will not crisp up. You also want to be sure to use bone-in so it stays tender and delicious. I had to buy bone-in, skin-on and just remove the skin myself. No big deal, just an extra step.

Start by cooking pasta to package directions (we actually used jasmine rice instead of pasta and it was perfection). Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Add flour, thyme, and paprika into a large bag and toss the seasoned chicken thighs in the flour. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and brown the chicken on both sides. (5 minutes on the first side, 3 minutes on the other side). Set chicken aside, it won’t be cooked through. Add mushrooms and onions to the pan and sauté for several minutes. Add worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, beer, and chicken thighs back into the pan. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until fully cooked. Serve on a bed of egg noodles (or jasmine rice). Eat immediately!

Beer Braise Chicken Thighs

I apologize for the mediocre photo. It was dark!

This chicken has so much flavor from the beer, stock, and worcestershire sauce. It’s the perfect combination. The mushrooms soak up the velvety sauce which makes them so rich and comforting. I definitely spent some time prepping this, but it didn’t take too cumbersome. It was nice for a Sunday dinner. Enjoy!

Chili Cheese Mac

Wednesday was Jason’s birthday. We didn’t really do anything too special. I cooked him a tasty and easy dinner and bought some cute mini Baked by Melissa cupcakes. Luckily, he’s pretty easy to please.

Jason and Laura

This Chili Cheese Mac is a perfect dinner to please just about anyone. It’s relatively easy and fast. I’m pretty sure kids would love this, too. It’s basically a homemade version of Hamburger Helper but it tastes so much better and you actually know what you’re eating. No one likes powdered cheese…

Ingredients:
1 lb ground bison
2 tablespoons of butter
¼ cup of flour
1 cup of shredded cheddar and 1 cup of shredded pepper jack (I buy blocks of cheese and shred myself. They use an anti-caking agent in pre-shredded cheese that I try to avoid)
2 cups of whole milk (I’m a believer in whole milk, in moderation)
8 oz. of whole wheat elbow macaroni
1 can of diced fire roasted tomatoes, un-drained
1 teaspoon of chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder and onion powder
½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper and salt

Directions:
Cook pasta to package directions. Brown bison in a large sauce pan. Season with salt and pepper. When the bison is fully cooked add the can of undrained tomatoes. Add all seasoning and stir to combine. Let this mixture cook down until most of the liquid evaporates. While the chili cooks down, start your cheese sauce. This is just a basic cheese sauce that is used in almost every mac and cheese recipe I’ve ever seen. Create a rue by melting your butter in a sauce pan over medium high heat. Whisk in the flour and let the rue come together. Cook for just a couple minutes so you don’t end up with lumps of raw flower. Slowly add your milk while whisking everything together. Let the sauce thicken up slightly and then mix in the cheese. I chose to use pepper jack and cheddar, which is my favorite combination. One the cheese is melted pour over the chili and mix everything together with the macaroni. Voila! Serve immediately.

Chili Cheese Mac

I could literally eat five bowls of this. Luckily it makes a lot. We have some left over for lunch which is always a plus. The pepper jack and cayenne pepper adds a little spicy kick while the cheddar from the cheese sauce brings it all together. The fire roasted tomatoes are a must. Don’t miss out on all that extra flavor by buying regular canned diced tomatoes. This dinner is so comforting and easy to make. It makes a lot for a group (think football?) but is also perfect for leftovers. I’ve never frozen this recipe but I can only imagine that it would re-heat well.

We rounded out this delicious dinner with some mini cupcakes from Baked by Melissa. These are perfect cupcakes. My favorite bakeries are Baked by Melissa, Magnolia, and Georgetown Cupcakes. However, I just love how small these are so you don’t have to feel guilty about a little indulgence.

Baked by Melissa

Enjoy!

Chicken Teriyaki Casserole

This Sunday I decided to try something new and make this Chicken Teriyaki Casserole from Oh Sweet Basil. It turned out pretty well. It wasn’t necessarily my favorite but it was tasty and filling. The only downside is that it took me a total of 1.5 hours start to finish. You make your own fried rice (I didn’t follow her recipe for that) and your own teriyaki sauce, so there are a few moving parts. I would definitely save this dinner for a weekend.

First pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook jasmine rice to package directions. While the rice is cooking, start your sauce. Bring the following ingredients to a boil and cook for 1 minute: low sodium soy sauce, water, brown sugar, honey, ground ginger, sesame oil, and 1 small minced garlic clove. Mix together in a bowl two tablespoons of corn starch and 2 tablespoons of water. Add a teaspoon of the sauce mixture to the corn starch and water and slowly incorporate into the sauce. This will thicken up quickly. Pour ½ the sauce over the chicken (I used boneless skinless chicken thighs) in an oven proof dish. Bake for 30 minutes.

While the chicken is baking, make your fried rice. I came up with this fried rice recipe on the fly and it turned out pretty delicious. Heat 1 tablespoon of sesame oil in a large wok. Scramble one egg in the oil and set aside. Add two tablespoons of vegetable oil to the pan and fry rice for approximately 10 minutes (5 minutes each side – flatten rice in one layer and flip after 5 minutes). If the rice isn’t brown enough or crispy enough for you, keep on cooking! Towards the end add your egg back in. Set rice aside. Steam your stir-fry veggies – I did this in the microwave to save some time and they were perfect. Once the chicken is done cooking, carefully shred in the dish and toss with fried rice and veggies and the rest of the sauce. Pop in the oven for 15 minutes. Serve immediately!

Chicken Teriyaki Casserole

This dinner is super comforting and filling. It’s salty and sweet which is the perfect combination. I also love that you know exactly what is in your sauce because you make it! Jason’s main complaint with this dish was that he didn’t love the vegetable combination I chose. I think I would have had better luck if I stuck with mushrooms and broccoli. Overall it was delicious but it didn’t blow me away. Give it a try and let me know what you think!!

Happy Monday!

Anniversary Dinner: Savory Lemon Butter Chicken

Well, yesterday marked our three year wedding anniversary. I truly married the man of my dreams and I couldn’t be happier. We had an amazing wedding and I absolutely love looking back at the pictures. Our photographer, Jordan Brannock did an outstanding job capturing all the details. We are so lucky to be surrounded by so much love from our family and friends, especially on that day.

Wedding

I wanted to cook something special and new to us, so I pulled together this Savory Lemon Butter Chicken. This dinner really takes minimal effort but the finished product is quite impressive. The keys are to make sure your meat is at room temperature and to resist the temptation to fiddle with the chicken while it’s browning, which is the hardest part.

Ingredients:
3 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter
Several sprigs of chopped fresh Savory (leaves removed – stems discarded)
1 lemon (juice of half the lemon and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest)
Salt and Pepper
Several handfuls of green beans

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Let chicken come to room temperature. Trim off any excess skin or fat. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken. Heat olive oil in a heavy oven proof pan over medium heat. Sear chicken in oil, skin side down for approximately 5 minutes. Do not fiddle with the chicken while it’s searing. You really want to develop a nice crispy crust, no one likes flabby skin. After five minutes flip the chicken and let is sear on the other side for approximately 5 minutes. Carefully pop the uncovered skillet into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes. When your chicken is almost finished cooking steam your green beans in the microwave (simply place in a bowl, cover with saran wrap and microwave for 3 minutes, easy peasy) and start your sauce. Melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter in a small sauce pan and incorporate the lemon juice and zest. Place the green beans on a large platter and once the chicken is done cooking arrange on top of the green beans and drizzle that delicious lemon butter sauce on top. Sprinkle the entire dish with chopped savory.

Savory Lemon Butter Chicken

This.Was.Delicious. The crispy skin is the best part and the lemon butter adds so much flavor. The green beans are a simple but tasty addition. A small side of roasted potatoes would have been nice too but certainly not necessary. The portion size for this dinner was perfect for two people. Jason devoured two chicken thighs, I had one, and we gobbled up all the green beans. There was nothing leftover! I love when that happens. This chicken is so easy but it tastes like you spent hours on it. This is perfect for a dinner party or a weeknight dinner for two.