Happy Monday, I hope you had a fabulous weekend! Our weekend was great; we had friends visiting from Chicago. The unusually mild January weather allowed us to go to the zoo on Saturday morning. We also enjoyed brunch out, as well as Saturday night drinks and dinner with a group of friends. Like most weekends with guests, I felt like I was in an eating competition. First off, our friends brought my favorite guilty pleasure from Chicago, Doughnut Vault! We literally devoured the doughnuts with coffee before the zoo. I was in sugar heaven. Then, Saturday night was a fried chicken dinner and all the tasty sides at Old Standard. It never fails that I find myself trying to get back to healthier eating come Monday! Does everyone go through this crazy cycle, or is it just me?!
To start off the week, we’re eating Spaghetti Squash Fritters with Sriracha Mayo from Cooking Light. I’ve been loving spaghetti squash lately because of its versatility. It can be topped off with any sauce, eaten with other veggies, or even with just a little olive oil and parmesan. The fact that I’d never prepared spaghetti squash in fritter form was what drew me to this recipe. Plus, I knew that the sriracha mayo dipping sauce would interest my husband! I’ll be serving the fritters with a big salad, but they would also be great alongside a bowl of soup. I love that these were unique, not difficult to make (although they do take a little time), and that I can cook the spaghetti squash in advance and prepare the rest at another time. I’m certain that spaghetti squash lovers and skeptics would enjoy these fritters!
You know what’s really sad? Not like sad sad, but more just unfortunate? When your favorite lipstick color gets discontinued. Or when you go to Trader Joe’s specifically to buy shredded brussels sprouts, and then they’re fresh out. Or when your neighborhood restaurant with the best turkey chili EVER either goes out of business or changes their recipe. This last “tragedy” has happened to me twice, once in Chicago and now in St. Louis. Isn’t this like lightning striking twice in the same place?! What’s a girl to do?!
I set out on a mission to find a turkey chili recipes that rivals the two now unattainable bowls of chili. What I loved about the restaurants’ chili is the thickness, flavor and uniformity. I prefer my chili to be the same throughout, not having tons of big chunks. Although the recipe that I found is pretty darn amazing, I still haven’t mastered the exact texture that I’m aiming for. However, I’ve started adding an extra step that helps me get close: I put the cooked turkey meat in the food processor. Hear me out here. I know this sounds bizarre, but no matter how long I stand at the stove and try to break up the meat in a pan, I still can’t get the finely and uniform bites that I prefer. So, putting the ground turkey in the food processor and pulsing it just two or three times helps me get what I want out of my chili. Of course, you don’t have to do this extra step, but its completely worth it from my perspective, and I hope you agree!
I’m still mourning the loss of my favorite places to get turkey chili, but until I discover another restaurant that has it down, my version will be serving as a great stand-in.
It’s official: the holidays are over and it’s back to reality! This past week was a lot of fun with New Year’s Eve and my husband’s friend in town. For New Years we stayed in and cooked a feast with our friends. We ate our hearts out, dining on crab legs, flank steak with chimichuri sauce, Caesar salad, roasted brussels sprouts, steak fries, and chocolate lava cake with vanilla gelato for dessert! Needless to say, like most people beginning their New Year’s resolutions today, I’m ready to get back to healthier eating and to get started on my resolutions.
So, on the first Monday of the year, I wanted to start the week right with some good “Meatless Monday” food in the fridge. I made a Warm Farro Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Fontina so I could have a veggie-packed dish that would still satisfy after eating all the rich and heavy food last week. If you’ve never had farro, it is a hearty, nutty grain that is sort of like a cross between barley and rice. This dish combines many of my favorite veggies, and is topped off with balsamic, olive oil and chunks of creamy fontina cheese. The best part is, you can add whatever combination of veggies that sounds good to you. I’m looking forward to having this in my fridge for the next few days.
I hope your year is off to a great start!
Like many people, the week leading up to the new year really gets me thinking about my new year’s resolution(s). In the past I’ve made some resolutions that have stuck, and I’ve made others that haven’t. Back in high school I gave up pop (aka soda), and a few years ago I vowed to give up artificial sweeteners; I’m proud to say, both of these resolutions are still in effect today. As I look to the year ahead, I’m thinking my new year’s resolutions are going to be to drink more water and to (try to) reduce processed foods. The latter one is tough, since occassionally processed foods are needed for convenience purposes, not to mention, sometimes they taste good!
One way I already try to reduce my processed food in take is by making one of my favorite, go-to snacks, rather than buying it packaged. I love granola bars because they’re filling, satisfying, easy to grab on the go, and they’re something I can give to my son. There are so many recipes for granola bars, but when I discovered this simple version of Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Granola Bars, I knew it was a winner. With sweet dates, oatmeal, almonds, almond butter and chocolate chips, this recipe is sure to please almost any palate. Since making this recipe several times, I’ve switched out the almond butter for peanut butter, and I’ve also tried dried blueberries instead of chocolate chips. In addition to changing the nut butters, I’ve also used almond slivers instead of whole almonds when I’m giving this to my son. The best part is that these granola bars can be stored in the freezer for prolonged freshness, and they thaw in only about 15 minutes on the counter!
Before I share the recipe, I wanted to tell you about a great program and special offer that I’ve learned about through my partnership with Cooking Light Magazine. Although I don’t know the exact stats, I’d guess that the majority of people making resolutions focus on health or weight loss, so telling you about the Cooking Light Diet comes at a good time! The CLD is calorie-driven weekly meal plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Through the plan, you’ll receive a meal plan, that is easily customizable, sent to your inbox. You’ll receive sample menus, and if you don’t like something on the menu, easily swap it out by scrolling through the many alternatives that fit within the calorie allotment. If you’re interested in signing up for the Cooking Light Diet, visit CookingLightDiet.com and use coupon code DIETSAVE20 to save 20%.
I wish you all luck with your resolutions and a very happy New Year!
It’s a beautiful day in St. Louis today, and it doesn’t feel at all like Christmas. We’re spending time outside and later going to family’s house for a delicious meal. Whatever your holiday traditions entail, I wish you and your family a Happy Holiday!