Shift Shop Challenge!

Alright, so I wasn’t going to post anything about this until the very end, BUT I am just so happy with my results so far that I just have to say something. As you know I have been working on my post-baby, post-dad dying, mental, physical, and spiritual state. I was exercising, meditating, playing with my babies, taking CBD’s but I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted. (Have mentioned I’m super impatient?) So I gave in and purchased/joined a Beachbody Challenge. It was cheaper than joining a gym and I got a month supply of Skakeology. Shakeology is pricey but oh-so YUMMY and really helps with those sweets cravings, I mean Halloween could have been my undoing but I only had ONE small KitKat. (and only because Layla was so sweet when she offered it to me, it felt mean to say no)

img_1423 The workouts are fast, tough, and push you PAST your limits. You might cry but if you put in the work, you feel absolutely amazing after.

Now meal prep. I dreaded this. I HATE leftovers so the thought of preparing meals ahead of time and reheating them totally DISGUSTS ME!! Beachbody nutrition meal plan wasn’t the case. Protein and veggies are the majority of the meals so I really only pre-grilled some of the meat and pre-chopped veggies. It’s been kinda hard when the Hubs and kids get to eat pizza but not hard enough that I can’t do it. It’s four weeks and the shakes make up for any desserts I may miss.

Did I mention it allows coffee? It does. I gave up sugar in my coffee a long time ago but no creamer has been interesting. I started using stevia. You get used to it.

NOW HERE IS THE IMPORTANT PART OF THIS CHALLENGE! and I repeat it to my girls daily. This program is not about being thin, what the scale says, or who has the best eating habits. It is about how strong I can be. How determined I can be. What my body is able to do even at 33! Yes, I want to fit back into my pre-baby jeans but more importantly I want to feel strong and confident. I haven’t had a SINGLE anxiety attack or uncontrolled grief since I have started this program. I FEEL fantastic. I am already halfway to my goal weight and I have gotten my girls excited about being strong.

I am half way through this 4-week challenge. Am I going to stick with Beachbody once its over? YES!!! I look forward to not eating so strict all the time but I love the workouts that it offers and the easy to follow nutrition plans. I’ll see you in a week and a half with the final results!!

Simple Skillet Lasagna

Okay, Lasagna. I have mixed feeling about you. I grew up with lasagna that contained cottage cheese and shredded cheddar cheese. It was good but as an adult, I never made it or ordered it at a restaurant. Then I discovered ricotta cheese and everything changed!

I love making “roll up” lasagna because it is fun to make and it’s different. That is the same with this Chrissy Teigen’s Simple Skillet Broken Lasagna recipe from her book Cravings: Hungry for More (why haven’t you bought it yet??)

I love this cookbook because it is more Mom user-friendly. Honestly, who wants to spend hours in the kitchen cooking a fancy meal for kids who would rather eat Mac and Cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches all day every day? This book offers more time efficient recipes, so now I only have to be in the kitchen for hours washing baby bottles or when I want to go all out for guests.

The fun part about this Broken Lasagna recipe was breaking the noodles up. I let the girls do it and I am still finding pieces in the kitchen, but their laughter was worth it.

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First, you make the sauce. It does need to simmer for about an hour so I recommend making it ahead of time or just use it when it heats up because you are starving like I did.

It calls for both ground beef and sausage which I just love! It makes the flavoring not as bland when you just use one or the other. I discovered this with meatloaf. Meatloaf with just ground beef is blah, but add spicy Italian sausage and viola! it’s delicious.

The cheese mixture is parmesan, ricotta, and mozzarella. I have to admit that I used a cup less of mozzarella that was called for and it still came out cheezy.

Overall this recipe is easy, even the simmering for an hour, and tasty. The girls loved it and it saved well. I served it the next day at a family function and everyone loved it. So next time you are craving lasagna try this recipe, no more cottage cheese!

Make it and enjoy!

Sauce Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 pound ground beef

3/4 pound ground pork 

1 finely diced onion

9 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup tomato paste

2 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup shredded basil

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

kosher salt and pepper to taste

Lasagna Ingredients:

2 cups ricotta cheese

3 cups shredded mozzarella

3/4 cup finely grated pamigiano-reggiano cheese

1/2 cup basil

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

6 oz no-boil lasagna noodles, broken into pieces. 

Make the Sauce! Heat oil over high heat in a dutch oven or a large heavy bottom skillet. Add beef and pork. Cook unit no longer pink breaking up the meat into tiny pieces. Transfer to a bowl. Keep some fat in skillet and cook onion until tender, about 7 mins. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add tomato paste and cook stirring for 2 minutes. Return meat to skillet along with the tomatoes, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 45 mins.

Mix the cheese! In a large bowl, combine ricotta, mozzarella, parm, basil, salt, and pepper.

Build the lasagna! Spoon 1 cup of the sauce into the bottom of a large (12 in and 2 in deep) ovenproof skillet. Add a layer of noodles, then sauce, then dollops of cheese mixture. repeat layers until skillet is full. Add a final layer of sauce and then dollops of cheese at the very top.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

Put a baking sheet under the skillet to prevent bubbly drips on the bottom of your oven.

Workouts after the Weekend SUCK!

Over the weekend I took a mini road trip to Arizona. Usually, I only take one day off during the weekend but I didn’t this time. I am happy to report that I did eat well and didn’t stop at fast food once! (Although I did get a Chai Tea Latte from Dutch Bros because I missed that place so much). We spent the weekend shopping and lounging by the pool. It was relaxing and rejuvenating.

Monday’s workout SUCKED! it was like all my progress melted away after just two days of being lazy. Honestly, it probably was so hard because it was leg day!! Even though it was hard, afterward I felt great! I am still feeling motivated and I am holding myself accountable.

I think Lydia is proud of me too. She is going to be a yogi one day since she is so interested in my sets.

Monday’s workout of week 3 consisted of 2 circuits, 2X each!

Circuit One:

Jump Squats  15 Reps 

Squats 15 Reps

Walking Lunges  24 Reps, 12 per side

Knee Ups  24 Reps, 12 per side

Circuit Two:

X Jumps  16 Reps, 8 per side

Burpees  10 Reps

Weighted Step Ups  24 Reps, 12 per side

Medicine Ball Squats  15 Reps.

I don’t have a medicine ball or dumbbells, what I do have is a Kettlebell. I use this one.

So far it has worked for all the workouts but I am looking into/saving to get a dumbbell set. So far I am liking this 25 lbs cast iron set.

These workouts are designed to be HIITs so the goal is to get each circuit done in 7 minutes. You will sweat your booty off. Well, I am hoping!

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I follow my workouts with yoga. Today was a restful yoga set of stretching and breathing.

Welcome Baby Lydia!!

So I have been MIA for a while now. I have barely cooked or baked anything decent in over 9 months! BUT my family did welcome a new addition to the family in July. Our sweet Miss Lydia has joined the family.

It has been a crazy summer break but I am looking forward to getting back to a schedule, getting back in shape, and cooking! This time around I will be focusing on cooking healthy and clean eating. Well, I will try to do that anyway. I hear Chrissy Teigen’s new cookbook is coming out next month and if it is anything like Cravings, it will make this resolution very difficult. But here’s hoping!

 

 

The Poached Egg Chronicles

I have been trying to poach an egg since I watched Julie and Julia in 2010. It was hard and I was unsuccessful. I make a wonderful fried egg so I decided to give up the practice but it always nagged me in the back of my head.

It is no secret that I am utterly obsessed with Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings cookbook! Seriously buy it now! She has a recipe called Crab Cakes Benedict that I have been wanting to try so I decided to try a poached egg again AND finally give into to trying Sriracha. Can you believe that in this day and age I have never tried Sriracha?! I have avoided recipes that use it or I have simply just omitted it.

After much tension and a tsp of baking soda in simmering water I successfully poached an egg. It was fantastic! The girls loved it (although to be fair they love eggs in all shapes and forms) and The Hubs enjoyed it as well!

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I went to the store and bought some real crab meat (for $8.25 a pound!), my first bottle of Sriracha, and breadcrumbs. The recipe is simple thanks to my new found skill of poaching eggs.

 

The end result was a perfectly spiced crab cake topped with a delicouly runny egg.

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I did decide to omit the baby arugula and the avocado since The Hubs was already skeptical and nothing scares him more than greens!

The girls loved the eggs and only one liked the crab cakes (she is also the one that requests “crab legs and crab arms” for her special birthday dinner. She’s six).

Now I am off to conquer another Sriracha recipe since I now have a bottle!

 

Irish Beef Stew

Kiss me I’m Irish! Well, about a quarter Irish or so.8T65Egz7c A month ago my dad decided he wanted everyone to come over and bring a homemade soup. Either a favorite recipe or to try a new recipe. I decided to try a new one. I found this Irish Beef Stew recipe and it seemed perfect.

Normally, I’m not a stew fan (in fact, I wasn’t even a soup fan until I moved to Colorado and froze my butt off)  but I know my dad is so I gave it a go. I found this recipe and it seemed easy and flavorful. The highlight was that it was advertised as a great recipe to make ahead and freeze for later use. Perfect!

All the ingredients were pretty basic for a stew. I got lucky with the beef because my local Stater Bros was having an awesome sale.

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2.5 lb beef chuck ,brisket or any other slow cooking beef (no bone)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • Black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves , minced
  • 2 onions , chopped (brown, white or yellow)
  • 6 oz  bacon , speck or pancetta, diced
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 14.9oz can Guinness Beer
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 cups chicken stock/broth 
  • 3 carrots , peeled and cut 
  • 2 large celery stalks, cut
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs thyme

I love when recipes give you different options! I decided to use bacon which turned out to be everyone’s favorite part of the dish. It was what made it stand out. I bought beef chuck and replaced the Guinness with a water/Worcestershire sauce mixture (my dad wasn’t too keen on the beer since he doesn’t drink).

Let me tell you, the house smelled amazing all day! Since I was going to freeze it for a later date it was incredibly hard not to sneak a bowl.

  1. Cut the beef into 2″ chunks. Pat dry then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in a heavy based pot over high heat. Add beef in batches and brown well all over. Remove onto plate. Repeat with remaining beef.
  3. Remove pot from heat to cool slightly and lower heat to medium. If the pot is looking dry, add oil.
  4. Return pot to heat, add garlic and onion. Cook for 3 minutes until softening, then add bacon.
  5. Cook until bacon is browned then add flour. Stir flour into the mixture.
  6. Add Guinness. Mix well (to ensure flour dissolves well) then add remaining ingredients and return beef to the pot (including any juices).
  7. Add enough water so the beef & veggies are almost fully covered.
  8. Cover, bring to simmer then lower heat so it is bubbling gently. Cook for 2 hours – the beef should be pretty tender by now. Remove lid then simmer for a further 30 – 45 minutes or until the beef falls apart at a touch and the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.
  9. Skim fat off the surface.
  10. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes!!

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The only thing I wish we had done differently was serving it with mashed potatoes, I just ran out of time that day. Even reheated it was delicious and a big hit. My dad loved it and had it for dinner again the next day. The only people who weren’t fans were the kids but I’m sure the mashed potatoes would have changed that. I can’t blame them too much since I didn’t like any soup either until a few years ago!

Okay, now go try it! It’s perfect for a chilly fall day.

 

Summer Fun!

Since it has been summertime, we have hardly cooked at all. It has been so hot and humid here in Colorado that we basically have been surviving off popsicles.

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We went on an overnight camping trip and made Chrissy Teigen’s chili, why do I always make chili why we are camping? (the answer is; growing up we always had hot cha cha AKA a Frito pie bar so I just have to make it every single time we go camping) Of course, we had to make s’mores because a camping trip isn’t complete without them!

 

These past couple weeks, I have only made a handful of dinners but I have been sticking with Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook, Cravings,  We made her meatloaf, – which is the BEST meatloaf you could eat- with a side of mashed sweet potatoes. I also made prosciutto wrapped chicken. If you haven’t tried Cravings recipe for prosciutto wrapped chicken, DO IT! It is so good, just do not, under any circumstance, tell your kids -or husband- it has goat cheese in it.

As a fun activity with the girls, we made homemade jam. It was seriously so easy and tasty that I may never buy jam again.

To make it all you need is:

-1 cup sliced strawberries

-3 Tbsp cold water

-2 tsp cornstarch

2 Tbsp sugar

Layla put the strawberries in a saucepan and mashed them with a fork. Lucy, using a small bowl, mixed the cold water and cornstarch, I added the sugar after. We combined them into the saucepan and heated until it started to boil, turned down the heat and cooked for 5 minutes. We had to stir constantly, which for the girls was the hardest part. We put the jam in a fancy bowl and let it chill.

The result was delicious. Lucy had hers with cream cheese, while Layla and I had it with peanut butter.

Try it!