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Bacon Wrapped Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

8 Jul

I remember being at a work Christmas party about 2 and a half years ago and I was offered bacon wrapped dates. First off, I thought bacon was bad. (I was wrong) Second, I thought dates looked like cockroaches. Ok, so if you squint a little, they sorta DO look like cockroaches. I’ve never eaten a cockroach and have no immediate plans to, but I’m pretty sure dates taste a bazillion times better.

Fast forward 2 and a half years and I know have a full appreciation of bacon wrapped dates. If you’re interested in giving these a shot (and you really should) they’re extremely easy to make at home.

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First step, take some toothpicks and soak them in water. You need one per date. You don’t HAVE to use toothpicks if you don’t have them handy, but it does keep them from falling apart when you flip them during cooking.

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Line a baking sheet with foil

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Grab your dates. I 100% recommend getting pitted dates. This means the hard seed has been removed for you and makes prep a lot easier. They’re usually near the produce section. Each Publix seems to store them in a different area of the produce section, so I often have to ask where they are or just look around a bit.

NOTE: Just because they’re pitted does not mean the pit is always removed. USE CAUTION when eating because occasionally a pit sneaks through.

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Next, if you wish to stuff the dates with something (like goat cheese) slice each of the dates in half. If you’re not stuffing them, you can leave them whole.

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Once the dates are sliced, just grab a spoon and put some goat cheese in the fold.

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The next step is to wrap them in bacon. You don’t want to wrap too much bacon around them because you want a good bacon : date ratio. As a result, before I start, I cut the package of bacon in half with a pair of scissors. This makes the bacon the perfect length.

Take a slice of bacon, wrap it around a date and stab with a toothpick being careful you don’t stab yourself on accident.

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Put the dates in the oven at 350’. Set your alarm for 5 minutes. When your alarm goes off, grab some tongs and carefully flip each date. Put back into the oven again, and set your alarm for 5 minutes. Repeat until the dates look cooked, slightly crispy and not burnt. The ones above are probably spent a few too many minutes in the oven.

When they’re done, let them cool. If you try one right away, be careful because the center will be HOT! To store, put in a tupperware and put in the fridge.

Grilled Avocados

3 Jul

This 4th of July, grill up something new with the usual burger & hot dogs. Grill up an avocado!

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I used to be afraid of avocados. I knew they were high in fat and thought that was bad.

I was wrong.

Avocados are one of the healthiest foods out there. (and certain fats, the kind in avocados, are good for you… but that’s another day another post)

They’re great as guacamole, but they’re even better GRILLED.

First things first, you gotta know how to cut an avocado.

(It’s a bit difficult to take pictures of this by oneself, so bear with me here. )

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First step is to hold the avocado in your left hand (or non-dominant hand). With a good knife (not a regular or steak knife) insert the knife in the center until you come to the seed. Then rotate around the avocado until you’ve cut a full circle around the avocado and seed essentially making two halves of the avocado.

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Grab the avocado with both hands. One hand on one half, one on the other and gently twist. The seed will stick to one side and unstick from the other.

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You end up with one good half and one half with a seed.

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For the avocado that has the seed remaining in it. Place it in the palm of your non-dominant hand. With your knife, slightly wack the knife into the seed. The twist. The seed should pop right out.

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Then you should [hopefully] end up with two good halves.

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Pour a little bit of olive oil in the center and rub it on the outside with your finger. Place the avocado cut-side-down on the grill for about 10-15 minutes until they start to brown and get a crust.

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When cooked, sprinkle with some lime juice and fill the center with some salsa.

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Then, grab a spoon and dig in! If you brace the avocado with one hand, you can slide a spoon between the skin and the avocado slowly loosening it until it’s ready to pop out. Dig in.

CrossFit 904 #julychallenge #nostarch

3 Jul

A few weeks ago I sauntered into the gym and saw this written on the dry erase board…

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Hmm. This is honestly how I typically eat at home. We really haven’t been eating much pasta or bread in quite a while. I think we could successfully accomplish this. The REAL challenge will be…dining out.

I honestly need to rein in my habits when dining out anyways, so this could be perfect timing. This also means no chips, no delicious Taco Lu queso, no tortillas, no melt-in-your-mouth grits from Palm Valley Fish Camp, no bread baskets, no pasta, no flakey Maple Street biscuits… I may not eat starches at home, but I definitely take advantage of them when dining out.

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…but I don’t want to be the one responsible for making Ryan sad.

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So of course I signed up. If you’re curious what I end up eating at home and on-the-go, keep following this page.

 

Monday, July 1

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Nom Nom Paleo Collard Greens with grilled Cajun Seasoned Snapper.

I actually prepped the collards last week when I was cooking another dinner, and they sat in the fridge for about half a week until I was ready to use them for this dinner.

 

Tuesday, July 2

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Sweet potato oven fries with two mini grass fed beef burgers from Black Hog Farm (In case you’re wondering, we are permitted sweet potatoes within reason for this challenge).

 

Wednesday, July 3

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Wednesday was a little tough. Adam’s mom was in town so we headed to my favorite restaurant, Palm Valley Fish Camp, which meant I had to order something WITHOUT grits. Instead, I ordered blackened shrimp with a side of collards and a side of their mixed veggies which was squash, zucchini and onions.

 

Thursday, July 4

Freebie Day

 

Friday, July 5

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Sockeye Salmon with grilled zucchini

 

Saturday, July 6

So I managed to win tickets to my first NASCAR event, the Coke Zero 400 this past Saturday. Not knowing I could bring real food into the event, I was stuck with their concessions. aka a burger that tasted so terrible I had to eat the bun (I really doubt there was any real meat in that thing) and french fries. Boo. I failed.

 

Sunday, July 7

I was crazy hungover so I went mexican. Hangovers crave starch. It was a hopeless battle.

 

Monday, July 8

taco

After a solid night’s sleep, I got my act together and dug myself out of the downward spiral that was a 4 day weekend bender, and managed to make one of the most delicious meals. Just plain ol’ tacos with collard green wraps. Seriously delicious. For the taco seasoning,  I used this mix of spices I had on hand. I just browned the ground beef in a pan. Once cooked, I added the seasoning mix to taste. For the collards, I pulled the leafs off the bunch. Rinsed them and snapped off the bottom white part. (This probably has a name. who knows). Then patted them dry with a paper towel. Then proceeded to stuff my face without guilt.

 

Tuesday, July 9

Thankfully I had leftovers from Monday, so I had a delicious repeat meal with the leftover collard greens from last week. Surprisingly the collard greens were still good.

 

Wednesday, July 10

shrimp

SHRIIIIIIMP! I love shrimp. I also had a mix of roasted broccoli, green peppers and carrots, but already shoved that all in my face before I remembered to snap a photo! You can still see some on the broccoli.

Shrimp is one of the easiest meals I can make. We buy the Seabest Seafood easy peel shrimp. I just pour it frozen in a colander and run a little bit of cold water over it.  When it’s thawed, I peel it. Fun times. I usually do this when I’m cooking dinner earlier in the week or part of Sunday prep. Then I just boil a pot of water, pour the shrimp in and like 1-2 minutes later, the shrimp is done. You know when the shrimp starts curling on itself. Drain the water then just sprinkle the shrimp with Creole seasoning and enjoy!

 

 

 

Could you ever take on a challenge like this? How different would it be from how you’re currently eating? Do you have any favorite #nostarch meals?

Once A Week Meals: Chocolate Chili Tacos, Creamy Garlic Shells, and Cheesy Shepherds Pie

10 Apr

(This meal is from the week of March 18)

Knowing we were going to be out of town the upcoming weekend, I put a little more effort and planning into my weekly meals and actually came up with three meals for the next week and a half. Plus someone (eh hem, Adam) was getting a wee bit bored with just one option to eat the entire week. Do you blame him?

I also want to incorporate more vegetables into our meals, so I made two sides as well. Yeah, I was an overachiever for once. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a good nights rest. I know when we get back next weekend, I’ll be grateful I don’t have to cook, and that’ll make it all worth it.

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Chocolate Chili Tacos

I saw these posted on Meals and Miles, and then realized it pointed to the blog Running to the kitchen. The looked like a tasty spin on regular ol’ tacos so I thought I’d try them. Regular tacos are a really easy meal to make in bulk and save (at least the meat is). Mine actually ended up as burritos instead of just tacos because the taco shells were so huge. I put some plain chobani, shredded cheddar cheese, salsa (from the produce section.. so good), and avocado inside each one.

 

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Creamy Garlic Shells

I saw this on the blog Iowa Girl Eats. I don’t typically make pasta anything at home, but this recipe just called to me. I thought it might be a nice side dish with chicken sometime during the week. I also made her kale to add some veggies to the week which I think could also be paired with the Chocolate Chili Tacos above. The pasta was evilly delicious when it was fresh, but wasn’t something I would make in bulk. The oils separated and it just wasn’t as good later.  Definitely would be a good side dish to bring to a potluck (the same day) though. The kale turned out well too.

 

 

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Cheesy Shepherds Pie

I’d been wanting to try and make a Shepherds Pie recipe but hadn’t really found anything that really called out to me. This creation really just came to me.

I peeled, cut, and boiled some regular baking potatoes.

While those were boiling, I sauteed a package of ground beef with a tablespoon of Worcester sauce.

We had some extra carrots from the Coconut Curry Dish, so while the ground beef was cooking, we peeled and diced the carrots and sauteed them with olive oil to soften them a bit then mixed them in with the ground beef.

When the ground beef/carrots were done, I layered the mixture in the bottom of a casserole dish.

On top of the ground beef mixture, I layered a package of frozen peas.

Then I blended the potatoes with some Kerrygold butter and half a can of Coconut Milk and layered that on top of the peas.

I sprinkled some shredded cheese on top. (ok I was a bit generous here…)

Baked the dish 400′ for 25 minutes. *Whalah*  This was SOOOO surprisingly good and simple.

We will definitely make it again.

 

 

View more  Once A Week Cooking attempts.

If you have a suggestion for something I should try, please email me! 

Once A Week Meals: Publix Aprons Pork Verde

9 Apr

(This meal is from the week of March 10)

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Publix Aprons Pork Verde

You can view the original recipe online at the Publix Aprons website.

This was Adam’s selection for the week (since this was an even week).

Since it involved jalapeno’s, I was really hesitant that it would be too spicy. Boy was I wrong. This was more of a sweet taste than anything spicy.

It was also fun because we got to work with Tomatillo’s which are totally new to both of us. Neither one of us had ever used them before, though I had noticed the ‘green papery tomatoes’ at the store. I also was missing the garlic, because when I pulled my fresh peeled garlic out of the fridge, it was already molding. Booo! I also substituted Olive Oil for the Canola Oil because I think Canola oil is evil. I also used white rice instead of brown because that’s what I already had on hand.

Regardless, the dish turned out great.

We made this in advance, then made a batch of white rice to last a few days.

 

View more  Once A Week Cooking attempts.

If you have a suggestion for something I should try, please email me! 

Once A Week Meals: Crockpot Coconut Chicken Curry

8 Apr

(This meal is from the week of March 3)

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Crockpot Coconut Chicken Curry

After my friend, Tee’s wedding in January, I’ve been wanting to try to make something simple with an Indian flare like Chicken Curry at home. I just happened to be reading through local friend’s blogs, came across this recipe and decided to try it. Here’s the recipe for Crockpot Coconut Chicken Curry.

This turned out ok. I really liked the addition of the coconut. Plus, it was incredibly easy to make. It was a little bland, but maybe that’s just Chicken Curry naturally? What was great was it was completely different from anything I typically make. Change is good.

 

View more  Once A Week Cooking attempts.

If you have a suggestion for something I should try, please email me! 

Once A Week Meals: Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork

5 Apr

(This meal is from the week of February 17)

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Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork

Of course, my obsession with the Pioneer Woman had to include one of her recipes. We had some pork in the freezer and Adam bought me a cast iron skillet for Christmas, so when I saw the recipe for Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork that involved using a cast iron skillet, I knew I had to give it a shot.

Uh, this recipe was de-lish-ous. I preferred to put it on a corn tortilla with some plain Chobani, shredded cheese and guacamole. Seriously, we will be making this again!

FYI, the picture above is pre-shred. For some reason, I forgot to take a picture of it after it was shredded and prepped as a taco. Use your imagination.

 

View more  Once A Week Cooking attempts.

If you have a suggestion for something I should try, please email me! 

Once A Week Meals: Chicken Rollatini with Spinach alla Parmigiana

4 Apr

(This meal is from the week of February 4)

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Chicken Rollatini with Spinach alla Parmigiana

This week I made a batch of Chicken Rollatini with Spinach alla Parmigiana from Skinny Taste which turned out great. It was a bit dry towards the end of the week, but if I’d had more pasta sauce, it would have been fine.

We enjoyed this enough that the following week we made her Chicken Rollatini with Prosciutto and Cheese as well. This was cheezy, but I missed the having a sauce on top.

 

View more  Once A Week Cooking attempts.

If you have a suggestion for something I should try, please email me! 

Once A Week Meals: Breakfast Scramble

2 Apr

Feel free to check out my other Once A Week Cooking attempts on the page I’ve setup. 

 

 

Breakfast

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Breakfast Scramble (aka. How it all began…)

The first thing I really started making in bulk was a breakfast scramble. When starting something “new”, I try to start with one small thing, get that under control, then slowly add more. Doing this, I seem better able to accept changes and adopt them into my lifestyle more easily.

Initially every morning I would cook up three scrambled eggs, a bit of sausage and some diced peppers every day. Knowing I can make a breakfast bake which lasts a few days, I figured I would try to make the breakfast scramble a few days in advance. Success!

As you can see from the picture above, I make enough for Adam and I to eat for a week (around 3 eggs/day/person), plus a tube of breakfast sausage and a publix container of fresh diced peppers.  FYI, READ THE INGREDIENTS ON THAT SAUSAGE. I’ve frustratingly found many brands contain MSG. We are a low sodium household, so we definitely keep an eye out for that.

Once all cooked, I portion it out into plastic containers for an easy grab-and-go breakfast meal.

Check out my other Once A Week Cooking attempts on the page I’ve setup. 

52 in 2013: Pioneer Woman Style (3 of 52)

21 Jan

I’m always late to the trend when it comes to food. Probably because I’m always buried deep in a bowl of queso. I’ve recently become fascinated with The Pioneer Woman. She seems to easily describe dishes that I once thought might be impossible. Plus, who can’t admire a blogger turned TV star?

I decided to try and attempt to create some of her recipes over the next year a la “Julie and Julia” style…only I can’t pull off a recipe every day like she did.  I’m going to stick to 52 in a year. That’s only one per week which is still pretty ambitious. Maybe I should change it to 26? Well, regardless, we’ll see what I get to. Maybe I”ll only complete 4.

 

Meal #1 – Macaroni & Cheese

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The recipe can be found here:
http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/04/macaroni-cheese/

I made this in a pinch for a holiday gathering (so yes, technically this is from 2012). It turned out great. I forgot to take a picture of it, so I borrowed her picture. You’ll have to take my word that the final product looked exactly like hers did above. It also helped clean out a ton of pasta from my pantry that had just been sitting there. It was incredibly easy to make, and I would make it again for another gathering.

 

Meal #2 – Tuscan Bean Soup with Shrimp

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The recipe can be found here:
http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/04/macaroni-cheese/

I got a hankering for some soup the other day. I actually bought all the ingredients and then they sat in the fridge.. and sat.. and sat. Finally I got off my butt and put them all together. This was another really easy recipe. We used some easy-peel frozen Seabest shrimp with this recipe which made it really fast. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, and it still managed to turn out ok. I was out of garlic (it was spoiled) and didn’t have any fresh basil. Regardless, it was tasty and very filling. We enjoyed this for 4 meals in our house. That’s 8 servings! We did make the shrimp portion twice since we’d run out. This is definitely a recipe you could freeze in portions, make shrimp while it thaws and easily add it. Another one we’ll definitely be making again.

Meal #3 – Leftover Turkey Pot Pie

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The recipe can be found here:
http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/11/quick-recipe-leftover-turkey-pot-pie/

Needed something for all those holiday leftovers so I made this. It turned out really great so I decided to make it again only.. I didn’t have any leftovers. Instead, I baked two chicken breasts, cut them into chunks, and used that for the recipe. I made this on Sunday so that we’d have it for leftovers throughout the week. It’s nice to know I won’t have to worry about cooking during the week!

Meal #4 – Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork

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Ooops. This pic is pre-shred. I was looking for a reason to use my cast iron skillet AND the pork in the freezer. When I came across this recipe, I knew it’d be perfect! The hardest part about this recipe? Finding the “Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce”! I walked up and down the ethnic aisle at the grocery store without luck. Finally my 243 time through, the can practically tripped me. It’s weird how I couldn’t find it, and then suddenly there it was right in front of my face. Regardess, this was super easy and turned out great. Adam ate it solo a few times and enjoyed it. I took it a step further mashing up an avocado, warming up some corn tortillas, and shredding cheddar cheese all to make tacos! Yum! Avocado goes GREAT with these flavors. I’d definitely make this dish again.

 

 

 

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