What’s For Dinner?

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Well, it’s been 2 weeks since my last What’s For Dinner post, so I thought I’d share some of the meals we’ve had since then! I’ve been doing really well eating better, drinking a gallon of water a day, making it to all of my fitness classes (7 hours last week and 8 hours this week!), staying away from alcohol (for 24 days now!), soda (I went 4 days, then 7, then caved and had one with my pizza last night, but I’m still not drinking them every day like I did this summer, and now that they’re out of the house I might be able to give them up completely again!), and cutting out as much sugar as I can stand (which is probably the hardest part). I can tell that doing all of these things has dramatically decreased my bloating and lethargy, which isn’t something I notice during the summer when I’m sleeping in and being lazy all day, LOL! I gained 7 lbs this summer and then gained 6 lbs over the last couple of weeks while my body was getting adjusted to all the dietary and exercise changes I’ve made! Thankfully, I’ve already dropped those extra 6 lbs that was probably just water weight! I’m not really focusing on losing weight this year, but increasing my muscle tone. As my husband so eloquently stated to me, I need to “build my muscles up so they push through the fat.” Already, I’ve increased my heavy weights to 15 lbs! Last year, my heavy weights were 8 lbs! I upped them to 10 lbs 2 weeks ago, then 12 lbs last week, and upped them again this week since I wasn’t hitting that exhaustion point on some of the exercises. I think a huge part of being able to do that is due to all the supplements, vitamins, and minerals I’m taking, along with eating right (cutting out the alcohol and sugar), drinking plenty of water, and getting 8 hours of sleep each night. I’ve been getting sore, but only a little for a day or two after, not enough to where I have to miss class because I can barely move. I’ve never consistently worked this hard before, so I’m hopeful this is the year I finally reach my goal! Ok, back to the food!

 Cilantro-Lime Chicken and Quinoa with Avocados

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This was one of my favorites over the past couple of weeks! I got the inspiration from a one-pan cilantro-lime chicken with black beans and rice recipe on Pinterest and just subbed quinoa for the rice (although, not in the one pan like the recipe instructed; I cooked the quinoa on the side and added it in). I love rice, but I like the white stuff, so I try to limit it to once a week, if at all, and I made red beans and rice that week, which I have to have with white rice. I added some diced avocado on top because, well, avocado. Need I say more?

One-Pan Creamy Lemon Chicken with Pasta and Asparagus

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love lemon, and cheese, so I knew this dish would be a hit! It was super easy and all of the kids enjoyed it. I use brown rice and quinoa pasta instead of the traditional because gluten makes me bloat like crazy (probably from the Crohn’s and not because of an allergy). I think it tastes the same, but maybe that’s just because I’ve gotten used to it.

Spicy Shrimp, Cauliflower Mash, and Garlic Kale with Bacon

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This recipe caught my eye because of the way they made the cauliflower mash, using white beans and cornmeal! Well, somehow, the only cornmeal I had sitting in my pantry expired four years before I moved into my current house (which I moved into eight years ago!!!), so I had to come up with an alternative. I figured grits have a similar texture, so that’s what I used, and it turned out ahhhmazing!  It’s so much better than your typical cauliflower mash. I also really loved the sautéed kale with garlic and bacon. Of course, my plate didn’t look like this for long! I mixed it all together and it came out similar to shrimp and grits!

Red Beans and Rice

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In case I haven’t told you before, red beans and rice is my all-time favorite dish! My father’s side of the family is from New Orleans, Louisiana, which is where I was born and where I lived til I was 6, so I grew up eating creole dishes like red beans and rice, gumbo, jambalaya, and crawfish ètoufèe. Those are my comfort foods. My hubby’s from Georgia, so his are things like chicken and dumplings, chicken pot pie, mac and cheese, and fried chicken (all of which I also love since I have lived in Georgia 27 years of my life, but they’re just not the same). I can’t get the Blue Runner red beans my Gramma and Mama used to make theirs with (unless I wanna pay $3 a can to have them shipped), but I have found some Camellia dry beans that are really good (for only $2/lb, which makes way more than 2 cans of cooked beans). I just cook the beans in water with salt and bay leaves for a few hours, sauté celery, garlic, and onion in olive oil, add them to the beans, then sauté chopped uncured beef smoked sausage and add them as well and serve it all over white Jasmine rice. Those of us who like a little spice in our foods at Tabasco and Tony Cachere’s.

Chicken Zoodle Caprese

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My hubby actually cooked this one! It was really good, he just should have drained the zoodles a little better. It was just chicken, tomatoes, zoodles, and fresh mozzarella seasoned with oregano and basil. Super easy and delicious! I can’t complain anytime I don’t have to cook!

Sausage and Squash Skillet with Pasta

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The inspiration for this meal came from a Publix recipe, which they have in their ads each week (it’s on Pinterest too!). I love pasta and rice, despite the fact that they’re “processed foods,” so instead of eliminating them altogether, I just limit them to once a week or less. The Publix recipe didn’t have pasta in it. I enjoy pasta with tomato or pesto sauce, but my kids really like it with just butter and garlic. So I threw some sausage and squash in with some buttery garlic pasta, onions, and peppers and called it a meal!

Pork Carnitas Salad

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Pork carnitas is one of the easiest things I make. You just toss a pork loin rubbed with chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, and cinnamon, add a bottle of salsa (I like the chunky organic one from Aldi for less than $2!), and cook for several hours on low til it’s ready to pull apart (see the recipe for “Easy Crockpot Carnitas” for amounts on the seasonings, not the one linked with the “Chipotle Lime Carnitas Salad,” although you’ll still want to check that recipe out for the dressing recipe!). The dry rub really gives the pork an incredible flavor, and the salsa keeps it juicy and gives you some tomatoes with the pork. If you can believe it, I grilled 4 corn cobs to use with this recipe and another one and forgot to put them on the salad (they are still sitting in my fridge!). I also didn’t get enough bell peppers, so by the time I made this recipe, I was out. 🙁 It was pretty plain compared to the one pictured with the recipe, but it was still ridiculously delicious because of the dressing! It was so simple, but sooo good! It was just olive oil, honey, garlic, lime juice, salt, pepper, cumin, and cilantro (I omitted the adobo and chiles because my kids are wimps when it comes to spicy foods and will refuse to touch their food if they can even tell I put pepper on it). It was probably the best dressing I have ever had, let alone made!

Grilled Corn and Kale Cobb Salad

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This was the other meal I made the grilled corn for, only since I cooked it on the night I made this, I actually remembered to use it! LOL! I ended up going way off the reservation on this recipe and turned a simple grilled corn and kale side dish into a family sized Cobb salad with chicken, bacon, eggs, radishes, red onions, tomatoes, avocados, and croutons (omitting the squash and zucchini the recipe called for). I liked the other cilantro-lime dressing so much that I just used that recipe again, even thought they were both pretty similar. I really love kale, but I forgot it’s a little hard to eat uncooked if you don’t chop it real good. That was my family’s only complaint.

Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki

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I’ve probably mention a few several hundred times how much I love Greek food, so I’ll spare you all that, but let me tell you, this was the best tzatziki I’ve ever made! My tomatoes for this recipe went bad before I could use them (I’ve just had bad luck with veggies lately! LOL!), but it was still great without them. It was just Greek yogurt, red onion, cucumbers, feta cheese, oregano, lemon juice, garlic, vinegar, parsley, salt, and pepper (which isn’t exactly what the recipe says, but you know me and following instructions!). The sauce was amazing, but the chicken was great too! I marinated it over night in Greek yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano. It was so juicy and full of flavor after I cooked it in the pan! I wish I would have had the patience and time to make homemade pita bread, because the store bought stuff did not do it justice. I ended up just eating the chicken and the sauce without the bread. I served them with home fries, which the kids loved since I don’t serve fries too often!

Coconut Mango Verde Chicken with Black Beans and Rice

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Caribbean foods are another one of my favorites, so I was really excited to try this sauce made of coconut milk, mangoes, green chiles, brown sugar, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, and cilantro! Aldi just so happened to have canned mangoes on sale, so that’s what I used in the recipe. They were gross. They smelled all can-y and made the sauce taste pretty yucky straight out of my Ninja, but I had hope that once it was combined and cooked with the rest of the food it would be edible. It actually turned out great! Joe Daddy went on and on about how good it was! Next time, I will definitely use fresh mangoes (or at least some of the frozen ones I keep on hand for my smoothies). I added black beans, which weren’t on the recipe, just because I love them and thought they’d go nicely (and of course, I was right!).

Zucchini Lasagna

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Y’all know I love zoodles (which are noodles made from zucchini, in case you’ve been living under a rock ;)), but oddly enough, I never even thought about slicing them long ways for lasagna noodles! Now I love pasta, and there are gluten-free lasagna noodles out there, but I don’t know if I’ll ever make lasagna any other way! It was sooo good! I opted not to cook the zucchini because I was afraid it would get too soft, so it came out a little crunchy, but everyone agreed it was better that way! Next time, I’ll have to add some mushrooms (which I normally put in my lasagna but didn’t put on the grocery list since I made it from the list of ingredients in the recipe)! Ironically, my friend posted that she was making zucchini lasagna roll ups the same night I made this! I need to try those too!

Asian Skillet

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This was the recipe that started my Recipes I Didn’t Love Pinterest Board. I really liked the idea, but none of us cared for the Chinese 5 Spice (which really stinks considering I paid $5 for it!). I’m willing to give it one more try, in another dish. I wanted to keep this recipe around though, because I think it would be really good with different spices.

Crispy Skin Salmon with Potatoes and Asparagus

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This was another recipe that made it onto the “Recipes I Didn’t Love” board. I don’t know why I didn’t realize when I first read it that there was no way I was going to be able to fit enough potatoes, asparagus, and salmon to feed my large brood on one baking sheet, but that wasn’t even the worst part of this recipe. The mustard sauce was awful. It’s pretty much just 2 different mustards and vinegar, so I guess I should have known it wasn’t going to be any good, but I just followed the recipe like an idiot and was very unhappy with the result. I kept this recipe because I do like the idea of a one-pan salmon dinner with mustard sauce. I think I’ll just save it for a night when the kids aren’t around so I only have to feed Joe Daddy and myself. I’ll probably cut all that mustard and vinegar with some olive oil, or look for another mustard sauce recipe to try!

Remember, you can find the inspiration to these meals on my Pinterest Board: Recipes I Love!

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