Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday!

It’s Wednesday… time to join in with the What I Ate Wednesday Party over at Peas and Crayons!  I actually missed the party last week when I was at the beach… oops!  This month, the focus is on food, fun, and fitness! 


Here’s a quick peek at what I have been eating… and doing… and I even have 2 quick and easy recipes for you! Let’s get this party started!

Easy Beef and Broccoli

First of all, this week I had fun getting back to swimming.  I actually wanted to go today, but I didn’t make it home in time before the swim teams took over the cold pool. 

July 004

July 005 

Sad face.  But I plan to go tomorrow, as long as it isn’t storming!

This has been a week of great eats, including baked tomatoes (a Pinterest find)


and Sausage-Stuffed Peppers (click for recipe)!


I also made a light and tasty salad that my sister Adrienne invented.


Doesn’t that look great?

It’s very easy to make.

Adrienne’s Lemon-Herb Summer Salad


  • butter lettuce (3 cups or more)
  • mint leaves (about a handful)
  • basil leaves, chopped roughly (about a handful)
  • 1/3 red onion, sliced or chopped thinly
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • EVOO (about 2 Tbsp)
  • salt and pepper


Mix the lettuce, mint, basil, and onion in a bowl.  Mix lemon juice, EVOO, salt, and pepper in a separate (small) bowl.  Pour the lemon-Oil dressing over the salad and serve immediately.

This salad is delicious on a hot day—very refreshing!


And now, I’d like to show you a simple dinner that I created this week using just a few ingredients—but it was a hit!


Easy Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry



This dish was created because I had ground beef in the fridge that had to be used quickly and I was tired of the usual chili, meatballs, and hamburger patties.  I started searching around for beef-and-broccoli recipes, which usually use thin strips of steak, but of course I didn’t have that.  So this easy version was born!


  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 2-3 cups of broccoli florets (I used frozen that I thawed in the microwave)
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced bell pepper (any color—but I used red and green)
  • 3 Tbsp. Low-Sodium Gluten-Free Soy Sauce OR Coconut Aminos
  • splash of Fish Sauce (I used HT Traders)
  • Sesame Seeds


In a large skillet, brown the ground beef with the onions and peppers.  Drain most of the fat when beef is cooked through.  Add broccoli to the skillet.  Add the fish sauce and soy sauce, and stir fry, heating the broccoli.  I like the broccoli to be crisp-tender, which only takes a few minutes.  When everything is cooked, add sesame seeds by sprinkling over the top.  No specific amount here—just however much you like.

Enjoy!  One pot, done in less than 30 minutes, and very hearty!  Yum!


So there you go!  That’s my past few days in a nutshell.  What have you cooked or done this week?  Leave me a comment and tell me! (And if you are a blogger too, remember you can link up to the WIAW Party!  Just click on the button at the top of this post to find out how!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Stuffed Banana Peppers

Confession: Lately it seems like all I am doing in the kitchen is copying others.  The ideas just aren’t flowing.  I’ve adapted recipes… but haven’t been really inventing my own lately. 

But tonight, I actually made something original.

About 2 weeks ago, my father-in-law mentioned that he was growing banana peppers in his garden.  I got immediately excited, because I love all peppers, but then I thought, “What will I do with banana peppers now that I don’t eat sandwiches???”

I got this idea of baking them with meat, and then I got the idea for stuffing them with sausage… and it just sort of evolved from there.  So today I bring you Stuffed Banana Peppers! 



Sausage-Stuffed Banana Peppers

(serves 2-3 people)

Since I have gone to a more Paleo lifestyle, I have missed some of the more comforting Italian foods, like baked spaghetti and lasagna.  I think that is what inspired this meal.  This could probably be varied and turned into stuffed tomatoes, stuffed bell peppers, or stuffed zucchinis.  There are definitely other possibilities! 


  • 5-6 large banana peppers
  • 1 lb. Italian Sausage, casings removed (I used mild but I actually think HOT would be better)
  • chopped yellow onion and bell pepper (I used frozen just because I had some—but if you are using fresh I would say 3/4 of an onion chopped, and 1/2 of a pepper chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or minced
  • 1 Tbsp EVOO
  • 1 14.5 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • fresh or dried basil and oregano
  • shredded parmesan cheese (you can omit this if you are strictly Paleo)


Bring 5-6 cups of salted water to boil.  While you are waiting for the water to boil, cut the tops off the banana peppers and remove the “insides” or seeds.  (I used a spoon to do this.)  When the water boils, drop the peppers in.  Cook for 5 minutes, then remove from the boiling water and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, brown the sausage with 1/2 of the onion (1/4 is reserved for later), the chopped pepper, 1 clove of garlic, basil, and oregano. (Add whatever amounts you like of the herbs.  I start with 1-2 Tbsp chopped if it is fresh or 1/4-1/2 if it is dried.)  When the sausage is browned, and the veggies are tender, you can turn off the heat and set aside. 

Next, prepare the sauce.  In a small saucepan, heat the EVOO until hot.  Add the remaining onion, garlic clove, and herbs.  (Add as much or as little basil and oregano as you like.) Add the can of tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer about 10-15 minutes. 

Assemble the dish.  Stuff the peppers with the sausage mixture*.  Be careful not to rip the peppers, but if you do, it will be ok. 




Lay stuffed peppers in a baking dish.  Once all peppers are stuffed, pour the sauce over the peppers.


Top with parmesan, and bake at 350 until hot and bubbly.

*Note: I had a little extra meat left over that I saved for another meal.  It really depends on how large the peppers are and how many you are stuffing.





This is one of the more complicated dishes I have made, in that I had to get 3 pots dirty and it took longer than 20 minutes.  But it really wasn’t that complicated.  ;)  We thought it was tasty!  If you try it out, let me know what you think!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Post-Vacation Blues and Pinteresting Finds

Yep, I have PVB.  It’s hard to come home to reality after being on vacation. 


Baylee 2





However, I am glad to return to a normal routine and normal eating. 

Even though we do try to eat some healthy meals on vacation, there is always a considerable amount of junk.  On the way home yesterday, I was on Pinterest (a.k.a. Major Time Sucker) and these tomatoes were looking all kinds of delish.  I thought I would make them for lunch today. 


I didn’t have any fresh oregano, so I subbed fresh basil which worked great.  I cut the recipe in half since I was just making them for me. 



These tomatoes were delicious.  I am not sure what I was expecting, but I loved these a lot more than I thought I would.  It was like biting into a fresh and delicious Italian dish but without all the pasta.  I added some tuna salad on the side for a filling lunch.


If you’re looking for an easy and quick vegetable side dish, give these a try.  Here is the recipe.  Plus, with tomatoes being in season, it’s a very economical dish, too!

Also found on Pinterest recently:

Reader Question: What’s the best thing you have found on Pinterest lately?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Beach Eats and Mini Golf

We’re getting ready to enjoy our last day at the beach, before heading home.  (Sad face.)  It’s been such a nice, relaxing week.  It will be hard to return to the real world tomorrow. 

One of the best (and worst) parts of a beach trip is the eating.  (I say “worst” because it’s going to be hard to go back to normal!)  Our family used to eat out a lot at the beach.  However, in recent years, we have begun cooking a lot more.  You already saw that on the Confessions Family’s night, we made D@mn Fine Chicken and Asparagus.  But we’ve had lots of great meals!  Here is a sampling.  (And I may be blogging a little more about a few of these.)

Lots of lettuce wraps


homemade pizza and a summer salad made by Adrienne (I plan on blogging about this soon!)

Sweet Potato, Onion, and Pepper Frittata (made by me—also plan to feature this soon)


Dinner out at Gulfstream: Oysters Rockefeller


and Grouper Francaise


Creek Rolls made by The Crabcake Lady (I think I want to work on a version of these!)


Low Country Boil


As you can see… we have not gone hungry.  We’ve had delicious food every single night.  (Not pictured: Build Your Own Salad Night)  The best part, though, has been sitting down at the table every night and having lots of conversation and laughs. 


Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got one last beach day to enjoy.

Reader Question: What do you eat on vacation?  Do you mostly eat out or cook at home?  What’s your favorite vacation meal?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Beach and D@mn Fine Chicken

Yes, we’re here again.


The beach. 


If you’re getting a déjà-vu feeling, yes, we were just at the beach 2 weeks ago.  But this time we were able to come down with my family ( Mom, Dad, Meredith + David, and Adrienne + Paul) for a few days.  It’s so nice to be back!  I was so excited to be able to bring my new bike to the beach!  Meredith and Adrienne also rented bikes for the week so we could ride together.  It has been fun going on rides in the morning and at night.

My poor little pup, Baylee, had a little accident a few nights ago.  She slipped coming down the steps and tumbled down them.  She hurt her front left leg, but luckily, it isn’t broken.  She’s limping some, but it seems to gradually be getting better.  We took her to the emergency animal hospital and they think it’s just a sprain or bruise.  Poor sweet girl!  She is getting lots of TLC.  For an 11-year-old doggie, she sure gets around fast and this has not slowed her down too much.



Last night, Ryan and I cooked for everyone.  After much consideration, we decided to make Damn Fine Chicken, from Nom Nom PaleoYou can click here to view the recipe


We made very few changes.  I used Harris Teeter’s Fish Sauce, Olive Oil, doubled up on the shallots since we couldn’t find the other type of onions, and did not use Finne’s Seasoning.  We made a double batch of this.  One tray of chicken drumsticks and one tray of chicken thighs.  (With skin and bones.) 


The chicken turned out very juicy and tender!  I will make this again at home because it was pretty simple to make!  It is also VERY economical!  We made 10 chicken thighs and 10 drumsticks and the meat cost $12 total.  These cuts of chicken are always affordable.  I find that chicken with the bone in (while messier) is always more tender, juicy, and flavorful than boneless, skinless chicken breasts. 


We also roasted asparagus and made a salad with some leftover veggies to go with the chicken.  Yum!  Paleo AND Whole30 dinner!


If you are looking for an easy and delicious dinner, give this chicken recipe a try! 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Salsa, Two Ways

You know one thing I love about summer?  Fresh salsa.  For years, I bought the jarred stuff from the aisle in the grocery store that has the International foods.  You know, the kind that doesn’t need to be refrigerated until you open it?  What was I thinking?  How fresh can tomatoes be if they can sit indefinitely on a shelf?! 

Then one day I found that there is a separate salsa section in the grocery store.  Go to the produce section and you will find some fresher salsas.  One I like is Jack’s Special Salsa.  I also like this one kind that is just called “Fresh Salsa.”  I promise, that’s all it says on the jar.  The difference in the fresh salsa vs. the other stuff is unbelieveable. 

Then a few years ago, my mom started making her own salsa, and it is amazing.  This summer, being the new owner of my very own food processor, I decided to give it a whirl.

This recipe is adapted from the way I have seen my mom make it.  Now, if you don’t have a food processor, you could finely dice each ingredient with a knife, or you could use a chopper to dice each ingredient, and then mix it all together at the end.  personally, I throw all the ingredients in the food processor and process them all at once.  That’s just because I am lazy.  But it comes out delicious!



Fresh Summer Salsa


  • 4-5 vine-ripened tomatoes, rough chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, rough chopped
  • 1-2 Jalapeno Peppers or other “hot” peppers, rough chopped*
  • 1 small-medium onion, rough chopped
  • handful of cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves (I just throw them in whole)
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • sea salt and Freshly ground black pepper to taste

* For a milder salsa, you can omit the “hot” peppers.  You can also control the heat by including (or not including) seeds from the peppers.  The seeds add lots of heat!


Throw everything in the processor.  Process until the salsa is the desired consistency.  Pulse to be sure it is mixed well and scrape down sides once during processing.  Store in the fridge for about a week.  If it lasts that long.  ;)

Use this fresh salsa for:


taco salads

on fish

as a dip for celery

as a salad dressing

on burgers

on chicken or chicken sandwiches



Are you wondering about the two ways thing?  Well, I do love salsa 2 ways.  Obviously I love to eat it.  But you all know I am a Zumba instructor.  So I also love salsa dancing!  It is one of my favorite Latin rhythms and I always include a salsa song in every one of my playlists for Zumba classes I teach. 

(Here are a couple of photos from a few classes I have taught or helped with lately.)



So… here’s to Salsa!  Go enjoy either type this week!