Sweet Potato Hashbrowns

Favorite. New. Food.

Literally.

This is easy, delcious, sweet, salty, healthy, soft, and just perfect. I’ve only ever eaten sweet potatoes in my mom’s Thanksgiving casserole, which is smothered in butter and covered in brown sugar. Of course, I love that, but this option is just as tasty and much better for you! It takes almost no time at all & is a great addition to breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even dessert… and I never recommend a vegetable for dessert!! Get this in your life, now.

Sweet Potato Cuts Sweet Potato Prep Sweet Potato Hashbrowns

Ingredients:

I could eat one potato alone, but it could serve 2-3 no problem as a side.

Sweet Potato

Olive Oil

Sea Salt

Directions:

Wash potato!

Cut into desired size bits. (Generally the smaller you cut them the quicker they will become crispy on the outside.)

Cover them with an oil and sea salt rub.

Lay out evenly on a cooking sheet.

Bake for aobut 15 minutes @ 450 degrees or until desired golden brown!

Quinoa Pilaf

The key to healthy eating that I see with most food or fitness experts is meal planning! Making meals that last throughout the week, knowing exactly how to use the ingredients/researching recipies, or specificially setting aside portions for every meal at the beginning of the week. I’ve never been very good at leftovers, but I’m going to try and make larger portions, only eat what I need, and make it last! After having this box of Quinoa for much too long, I decided it was time to actually attempt cooking it, as this supergrain is full of benefits and is a great protein suppliment for me! New food indimidates me… can you tell?!

Well, it turned out alright! I should’ve treated it like pasta and added salt to the boilng water, but other than that it has a lot of potential! Not quite pasta, but a good substitue! Next round, I want to try this parmesean spinach quinoa!

QuinoaQuinoa CupQuinoa CookedVeggiesQuinoa Dinner

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

Salt

Parmesean Cheese

Directions:

Place 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water in a 1-1/2 quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook until all water is absorbed (about 15 minutes). When done, the grain appears soft abd the germ ring will be visible along the outside edge of the grain. I added frozen vegetables (peas, corn, lima beans, and yellow squash) to the mix for a quick and easy quinoa pilaf. I did not include salt in my mixture, but I would definitely recommend putting a good dump of it into the water while boiling! For a bit of flavor, I added about a tablespoon of parmesean cheese!

Alternate Directions:

To prepare in a rice cooker, simply treat quinoa like rice. add two parts water to one part quinoa, stir, cover, and when the cooker shuts off, the quinoa is done.

To prepare in the microwave, just add two parts water to one part quinoa in a microwave safe bowl. Cover loosely and heat on high for 8 minutes. Stir and let stand for 8-15 minutes. Heat again for additional 2 minutes. Stir and let stand for 1 minute before eating.

For an energy saving method, combine 1 cup water to each 1/2 cup of quinoa in a pan. Bring to a full boil for 5 minutes, then set aside, covered for 15 minutes.

For additional flavor, substitute chicken broth or vegetable stock for the water.

Advocare

I’m embarking on a new challenge… the Advocare 24-Day Challenge! I have a friend who completed the program, saw results and felt so great that she decided to sell Advocare and make it a lifestyle! As I am preparing for our wedding, I really wanted a jump start to get healthy and wedding dress ready. Also, in January, there is a competition for those who lose the most in weight and inches with a $150 prize for each. Sign me up! With the challenge, there are meal replacement drinks or snack bars you can eat, but mainly it focuses on eating right, which has always been the hardest part for me! It gives you a list of approved foods, so I plan to eat two regular meals with controlled portions and ingredients. You’re required to limit sugar, soda, alcohol, candy, friend foods, creamy sauces, corn syrup, etc. Luckily, my palatte has expanded over the last few years, and there is now a lot of food I eat that never used to peak my interest. I still don’t eat much of any meat, so I will have to find substitues for my protein such as lentils, eggs, hummus, nuts, etc.

I’m motivated, nervous, excited, and ready to do my best to tackle this 24-Day Challenge! Each day, I will walk through the products, foods I eat, and physical activity I acomplish as a way to journal my progress and also let you in on the process! I will be as honest as possible (with the good stuff like burps, toots, and you know those “movements” that really shouldn’t be discussed but what someone like me worries about before starting a new diet, vitamins, or suppliments), so forgive me if it’s TMI.

Stay tuned for the details!

The Alabama Buscuit Company

The boy and I ventured to a new breakfast/brunch joint a few weeks ago, The Alabama Buscuit Company. Months ago on my drive home, I saw construction for this new buscuit eatery, and I have eagerly been awaiting its opening day ever since! Go figure D has been excited, too.

AL Biscuit PillowAL Biscuit LightsAL Biscuit ArtAL Biscuit Waiting

We treated ourselves in the industrial, loft-like environment while eating fancy, whole-wheat buscuits early one morning before D left town for two weeks. That’s right, I woke up and showed up at 6:30a.m. because I love him. That’s right, I paid $12 for a mocha and fancy biscuit: goat cheese, melted honey, and pecan goodness! Next time, we’ll be getting biscuits how we like our beer, in flights! 3 for $12 is a no brainer!

Honey, Pecan, Goat Cheese

AL Biscuit Ham/CheeseAL Biscuit Mocha

Happily welcoming this start-up to the Cahaba Heights area, which is dangerously close to my house! It will be a great place to have morning birthday meetups, out of town company, or a fancy treat for your favorite breakfast-lover. I’m sure we’ll be back.  AL Biscuit

Banana Nilla Snacks

So, what do you get when you combine bananas + nilla wafers? Simple deliciousness.

I saw this on Pinterest the other day and was shocked I hadn’t thought of it! Growing up, I ate peanut butter on nilla wafers almost everyday. Then adulthood happened and I branched off into the sophisticated world of PB&J. Well, I’m back to my senses and these little yummies are healthy adult snacks that will make me feel like a kid for a long time to come!

Banana Nill PrepBanana Nilla'sIt’s as easy as 1, 2, 3…

1. Cut banana into small slices.

2. Place banana slices between two nilla wafers.

3. Refridgerate for at least an hour, then eat!

The longer these treats sit, the mushier they become. If you’re one of those who thinks the word “mushy” is like nails on a chalkboard, then eat quickly! They will only last about a week, tops.

For an extra treat add PB or nutella to the mix!

Knowledge Nugget // Snacking

I’ve taken many rides on the weight-loss, healthy eating, get fit train. I can think of plenty reasons (which may sound like excuses to you) for why I am where I am… being tied to a desk from 9:00-5:00, our combination of busy schedules, exhaustion from not being in shape, which leads to more laziness. There it is, full circle! I’ve hit a low. I’m tired of being tired, of not enjoying my closet, of feelin guilty for eating what I know I shouldn’t. And I know I can change that.

I appreciate the lows, the wake up calls where our minds are changed and our desires get in line with our actions.

Along with other things, like waking up early, I am limiting my sweet treats, while also choosing healthy portions & snacks. Using MyFitnessPal makes it incredibly easy to scan the food I eat and keep track of what actually goes in my mouth! At the beginning, I easily become too focused on inputting food information, but I plan to allow this tool to help instead of hinder my process. Make the effot. Input what you can. Let go of what you can not.

As long as you are thinking about the effects of your choices, you’re on the right train.

So, snacking… My favorite! In order to avoid the growing, communal candy drawer at work, D came up with the idea to make trailmix! Individually packed, salty & sweet mid-day treats that are 2/3rd healthy and 1/3rd heck yes! So far, these little snack packs have been filling and just what the diet-doctor ordered!

Peanuts, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, raisins, toasted wheat cereal, pretzel crumbles, semi-sweet morsels, yogurt covered raisins, m&m’s - which alternate between regular and peanut butter…

Trail Mix IngredientsSnack PacksMore snacking and healthy food ideas to come! If you can’t tell by now, we really like food.

Trying to learn to let the food love us back.

Vegetarian Lasagna Roll Ups

Cooking together keeps you together.

Not only is this true for us because we love food, but also it brings us together [real time to just relax], allows us to learn from each other [you bake that in what? you clean up the dishes as you go?!] and create together!  So much goodness can come from a meal together.

This time around, I led more in the kitchen, which seems to happen when I find the reciepe and really want to impress D! We tried a failry simple and typical pasta dish with a twist – - roll ups! They were delicious and kept very easily! D even recommended storing these suckers in the freezer for homeade lean-cuisines! He’s always thinking.

Pictures to get your mouth watering // Recipe below!

BoilingMushroomsSpinachIngredientsLasagna PrepLasagna RollsLasagna Nom

Ingredients: just enough for 10 noodles

  • 1 lb. lasagna noodles
  • 15 oz. ricotta
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella (substituted with a 5-cheese blend)
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • 1 lg. egg
  • 10 oz. frozen spinach
  • 2½ cups marinara and/or alfredo sauce
  • to taste salt and pepper
  • as needed non-stick spray
  • 3 portabella mushrooms (because they make everything better)

Directions:

1. Get a large pot of water boiling with a dash or two of salt. When it comes to a full boil, add the lasagna noodles and cook until al dente (soft but not soggy… about 12-15 minutes). When they are finished cooking, drain in a colander.

2. While the noodles are boiling, prepare the filling. Thaw the package of frozen spinach in the microwave and then squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible. Combine the spinach in a bowl with the cheeses, egg, freshly grated pepper and about ¼ tsp of salt. Mix until well combined. Don’t forget the salt in this mixture! [Rookie mistake.]

3.  When the noodles and filling are ready to go, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a glass casserole dish by spraying with non-stick spray.

4. On a clean surface, lay out a few noodles at a time. Place a few tablespoons of filling on each noodle and spread to cover from edge to edge. The filling does not need to be thick because once the noodle is rolled up, it will be compounded. Make sure to spread it all the way to the edges of the noodles.

5. Roll the noodles up and place in the prepared casserole dish. Repeat until all of your filling is gone (there may be some noodles left over, these are “back ups” in case any of the others rip during assembly). Pour the marinara sauce over the rolled noodles making sure to cover all surfaces. The sauce will keep the noodles hydrated and soft while baking.

6. Cover the dish in foil and bake for 30 minutes. Serve hot or divide into individual portions and refrigerate.

Spaghetti Squash

… is BOSS! I was beyond entertained and fascinated with this vegetable’s innards. While still new to the cooking world and this being my first experience with the yellow mammoth, I was hopeful this process would go smoothly after reading a few how-to’s. Fingers crosssed because D and I had to eat whatever was created as a result of our foodie adventure!

Well, not only was it a piece of cake to bake , but I had so much fun ripping this thing apart! It’s amazing how many small strands make up the entirety of this large veggie. So large we only ate one side! I had leftovers (that were only baked in the oven and shredded) ready to cook up when I wanted! It lasted in the fridge for a few days inside a container.

While this may look like spaghetti and call itself spaghetti, don’t let it fool you. It defniitely has a different texture: more coarse. I’m a full-blooded-pasta-all-the-time-if-I-could kinda girl, so I was worried that would be a deal breaker; although, it’s just the right mixture… soft and squishy with a slight crispy bite. I’m very happy to be branching out, enjoying new foods and making edible things (go emma!), where convenience usually came first.

Get to cooking – - step-by-step pictures & full recipe below!

Prep SqaushPoke holes all over the squash to relesae any tension while baking & allow steam to exit.Open Squash

Once it has baked for one hour, cut it in half with a serrated knife.

Gut SquashScoop out the seeds inside and discard.

Fork SquashTake a fork and scratch the edges to make spaghettis!

Saute Squash

Sauté your portion in butter/olive oil, spices, cheese, and anything else your heart desires!

Eat Squash

Say a little prayer and dig in.

Squash

Ingredients:

1 Spaghetti Squash

Mushrooms

Spices of choice

Olive Oil/Butter

Directions: (for the not so visual learners…)

1. Look for a mature spaghetti squash with a light yellow skin & purchase!

2. Poke holes all over the squash to relieve pressure.

3. Bake for an hour @ 350 degrees and do something productive on top of the productiveness you are already achieving, cooking. (I took this time to clean out my mess of a closet after my recent move!)

4. Cut the squash in half length-wise. If the skin is still tough, bake it a little bit longer.

5. Scoop out all the seeds and junk in the middle area of each side.

6. Take a fork and scrape down the edges of the squash to create spaghetti.

7. Saute what you want in a saucepan with butter or olive oil, spices, & parmesean cheese! I added mushrooms to the mix & included oregano & basil.

8. Pour yourself a glass of wine and dive in!

photo credit :: E – iPhone 4S

Sheppard’s Pie & Smallville

After work on Saturday, we were ready to kick back and enjoy the rest of our “off-day.” Time for some of that number #14!  We decided to cook a meal and watch one of our current favorites, Smallville.

We both watched Smallville before ever meeting one another…. When I was in High School, it was one of my many weeknight viewings, but it has been quite some time since I’ve seen the super Clark Kent in action. As for D, he owns 5 season on DVD. It’s safe to say he’s seen them once, or twice!

With Smallville secured, we went grocery shopping! In hopes of avoiding our regular pasta on pasta on pasta dish, we ventured out into the Sheppard’s Pie world. D craved, E tried! We must forgo the typical loaded-with-meat pie because I’m a “vegetarian”… with a few exceptions. We’ll get into that discussion later, but D is always eager to try non-meat substitutions with me! We just get him a bratwurst or two on the side, and he’s good to go!

Ingredients:
Frozen Mixed Veggies (corn, green beans, carrots, lima beans, whatever your heart desires, etc.)
Sliced Mushrooms
1/2 Red Pepper
Sliver of Onion
1/2 a can of Beef Broth
Mashed Potatoes
Cream Cheese
Shredded Cheese
Biscuits

Directions:

  1. Boil the veggies in water until they are cooked. {follow the bag – the beauty of frozen items!}
  2. Chop & sauté the mushrooms/onion/pepper in olive oil.
  3. Combine the cooked and sautéed veggies into a saucepan and simmer them in some beef broth.
  4. Make the mashed potatoes [instant, baby!] and add as much or as little cream cheese as you want to the mix on low heat.
  5. We cooked it all in a square, glass, brownie dish – layer the bottom with your veggies and cover them with a thick layer of mashed potatoes.
  6. Sprinkle some shredded cheese on top!
  7. Bake for 30-ish minutes on 400 degrees.
  8. Nom!

Nothing too fancy, but man ‘o man, stinking delicious. Feel free to substitute real veggies for the frozen ones. We were hungry…. what can I say!

Mushrooms, Pepper, Onion Mix

Mushrooms, Pepper, Onion Mix

All the veggie goodness!

All the veggie goodness!

Cream Cheese Potatoes

Cream Cheese Potatoes

Voila!

Voila!

photo credit :: E – iPhone 4S

Hello World!

necessities: love & biscuits.

necessities: love & biscuits.

We have a blog, and you are looking at it. Fancy that!

This southern couple has got full heads & hearts ready for filling this space. We’re in the kitchen & cooking it up big, like a hearty Thanksgiving Dinner on the menu. Okay, that’s a little over the top. But, we’re really excited, and  nobody in their right mind isn’t excited about Thanksgiving food!!

E {the organizer} dreams, plans, nit-picks, and impatiently awaits filling these pages with beautiful ideas and memories. D {the curator} supports, creates, masterminds, and eagerly awaits documenting life here.

So, I’d stick around if I were you… we’re having classic yellow cake with chocolate icing for dessert.

P.S. ”Forgive me for what I said when I was hungry.” Words often uttered by D, himself, that I am now connecting with. This is NOT a food blog, but deliciousness will frequent these pages… we like to get our grub on every now and then.