Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Getting in Shape!

My husband and I are trying to get into shape over here. After gaining tons of weight with my last pregnancy I am more than ready to feel skinny again! Now that my baby is 5 months old it's definitely time. Well guess what? After making changes about 2 months ago we have met with lots of success so far and I would love to share! I am already 25 lbs lighter than I was when I got pregnant. We won't even talk about how many lbs I've lost since having my baby, but let's just say it's a lot! Now I have to start by saying many of these pounds melted away with the simple act of breastfeeding. What a great weight loss program! I love to see my fat rolls turn in to baby fat rolls! But while breastfeeding burns a good 300-500 calories a day, it won't help you lose weight if you eat everything in sight (which sometimes you feel like doing when you are breastfeeding a very hungry baby).

Here in this house we do not believe in magic diets. Yes you may see results by eating only meat or only broccoli or only hot dogs etc, but that's just not how Heavenly Father planned it to be. And not very satisfying either! In our church we believe in the Word of Wisdom. Check out the link if you are interested in what that entails.

My husband and I are more about "lifestyle changes" than quick diets and miracle 5 day work out plans. If it is something that is too hard it will simply not last and any weight that was lost will be regained. Every time.

So what are we doing?

1. Counting Calories. Simply making sure that we don't eat more calories than we expend in a day. What has really really helped us is the My Fitness Pal app on our smartphones. We love it! It calculates how many calories you need based on your weight, height, gender, how physically active you are, and how many pounds a week you want to lose. It even has a barcode scanner so you can scan each new food in without having to search for it or enter it in yourself. Even if you don't want to lose weight it's a good idea to simply record what food you put in your mouth for a day. You may be surprised by either how much you eat, how unhealthy you eat, or how snacky you are all day. *If you are breastfeeding you will need to give yourself at least and extra 300 calories a day, email me if you have questions about how I do this. You do not want to starve your body and stop producing milk for your baby!*

Does counting calories mean we don't go out to eat? NO! Does it mean I can't enjoy my favorite snack of chocolate everyday? NO! We can still eat out, we can still eat sweets. We just have to plan for them. So if we know we are going out to eat that night we just have to eat less calories at breakfast and lunch, as well as exercise to earn more calories for ourselves. We also allow ourselves to go over on our calories periodically to make it easier to keep up our "lifestyle change".

2. Getting more physically active. We are both trying to incorporate more exercise into our daily routine. My husband runs and lifts weights. I can't force myself to do either, nor do I like to drive to the gym. At all! So what do I do? I end up doing exercise videos (I love Lindsay Brin!) and going on long walks with the stroller. I also can't wait for it to warm up a bit so that I can go on bike rides again.

Other than putting planned workouts into our day we are also trying to be more active throughout the day. We both got Fitbits from my parents for Christmas and we love them! I can look at any point in the day and see if I have been too much of a couch potato that day or not. We also love that it gives you goals to reach. Many evenings you can find us climbing up and down our stairs a few extra times to reach our goal of flights climbed in a day. It's also fun to compare and compete a little to see who gets the most steps in a day or who did the most flight of stairs. My husband is smoking me this week by the way.

We both have a few more pounds to lose before reaching our goals, but I am confident that we will get there! If you have any questions please ask me! Also if you have anything that has helped you to make lifestyle changes that last please share, I would love to hear your suggestions and success stories!!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Black Bean Pizza

The other night I decided to make pizza for dinner but I wanted something  a little different than the red sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni pizza that we ALWAYS have over here. When I told my husband I was craving Black Bean pizza he looked at me crazy and said, "That's a pregnancy craving!" and did NOT look too excited about said pizza. In the end he admitted that it was good and different than what he had expected. I think next time we make this we might put more of a Mexican flare to the flavor of the bean mixture by using diced tomatoes with chilies instead of Italian style and add salsa and sour cream on the side.

I have a fail proof, EASY, yummy recipe for pizza dough that I have used for a couple of years now that I will share with you too! Just follow this link.

Black Bean Pizza from Allrecipes

1 can refrigerated pizza crust (or use recipe above, much better!!)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup zucchini, finely chopped
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 oz) can Italian diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese, divided

Press dough into a greased 15in x 10in x 1in baking pan (I just used the pizza pan pictured above). Bake at 425 degrees F for 4-6 minutes or until crust just begins to brown. (I did this step with the homemade crust too, just make sure you poke holes in the crust with a fork before it goes in and brush it with olive oil if desired).

Meanwhile, in a skillet, saute the onion and garlic in oil until tender. Add zucchini; cook and stir for 1 minute. Add the beans and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Boil, uncovered, for 2 minutes; drain. Sprinkle 2/3 cup of cheese over crust (I skipped this step). Top with bean mixture and remaining cheese. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until crust is browned and cheese is melted.


Friday, June 1, 2012

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

This is my "go to" recipe for pizza crust or calzones. The original recipe calls for all white flour but I add some wheat in, so I changed the recipe to reflect that. Either way you have a very yummy, EASY recipe for pizza dough. Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust lightly adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine

1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
1 1/4 oz packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1 tsp white sugar
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups white flour
1 1/2 tsp salt

Place 1 1/2 cups warm water in a medium bowl. Stir in the yeast and sugar and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl combine 2 cups wheat flour, 1 cup white flour, and the salt. Make a well in the center, pour the yeast mixture in and stir with a wooden spoon. Add as much extra white flour as needed to make the dough to form a ball, but still be a little bit sticky.

Transfer to a floured work surface and dust with some of the remaining flour. Knead for 7 to 8 minutes, adding flour a little at a time as needed until the dough is smooth and springy. Wash and dry the bowl, then lightly grease with oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a moist dish towel, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour if your room isn't drafty.

After it's done rising turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. If you like "normal" pizza crust, not too thick or thin, spread it into a 9x13 inch pan. If you like thin crust divide the dough into two and use two 14 inch round pizza pans. Or use whatever pans you have in your house! If you like thick crust use the whole recipe on one round pizza pan. Really, this recipe can be so flexible with pan size and thickness, so find what works for YOU!

Before baking use a fork to poke holes in the crust, and if desired brush lightly with olive oil. Now you can either top your pizza and bake 10-15 minutes at 375 degrees, or pre-bake your crust for about 10 minutes before topping it and put it back in for about 5 minutes until your cheese is bubbly and melted.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ellie's BBQ Pork Chops

My 2 years old daughter and I recently went to "Farm Days" at our local university. She LOVED it. She got to hold a baby chick, pet a lamb, rabbit, and goat; and see all sorts of animals she loves. As I was trying to convince her that yes it really was time to go home we found a table with this on it:

She went crazy over it. "This is my recipe! I'm a make it for dinner." She said this over and over on the way home and was sooo excited to make dinner for us. When she got home and told her daddy about the recipe she told him the baby chick gave it to her. Weeeellll....that wasn't exactly true but close enough in a 2 year old's mind.

So what's a mother to do? We made them! I should mention that Ellie poured all of the ingredients into the bag to marinate them and we told her she made them but, no, I did not let a 2 year old cook them on a hot stove, give me some credit! :)

 They turned out to be pretty yummy. We used Sweet Baby Ray's bbq sauce which made them slightly sweet. The flavor bbq sauce you use will effect the flavor of your pork chops so make sure it's one you like! They turned out great and they were easy so I am sure we will make them again!

Ellie's BBQ Pork Chops
1/4 cup Italian dressing
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
1 tsp chili powder
4 boneless pork chops

Combine first 3 ingredients in a plastic ziploc bag and squish around to mix (a great job for small hands helping in the kitchen). Add pork chops and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Remove pork chops and place on the skillet. Save the remaining sauce for cooking later.

Brown pork chops on each side for about 4 minutes. Pour the saved sauce over pork chops, cover and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Make SURE not to skip the simmering step, as the sauce will not be safe to eat unless it's simmered!

I would love to say that she ate them up but she didn't. She would not touch them at dinner time. Talk about the weird mind of a toddler, because we can always get her to try a new thing and she usually ends up liking it. Hopefully she hadn't misconstrued it in her mind and she thought we were eating baby chicks...because I wouldn't have eaten them either if I thought that!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Whole Wheat Bagels

In our house we love bagels, but we're too cheap to buy them often. So one day I set out to learn how to make them. I have made them several times since and we LOVE them! I usually just leave them plain because we prefer them that way, but this time I dipped some in an "Everything" mixture, and some in poppy seeds. They were all good, but we are plain jane here and will probably just stick to plain in the future. I am a big fan of Allrecipes, and this is another recipe I adapted from that site; orignal can be found here.

In this picture I coated my "Everything" and my Poppy Seed bagels with a tad too much topping, so this picture is a good example of over-coating your bagels ;).

Plain, Everything, Poppy Seed
Whole Wheat Bagels

2 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
3 cups whole wheat flour
3 1/2 cups bread flour OR all purpose flour if you add the gluten below
2 Tbs Wheat Gluten (if you used AP flour, leave off if you used bread flour)
2 Tbs white sugar
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1 Tbs salt

1 Tbs white sugar
Boiling water

In large bowl, dissolve yeast and 2 Tbs sugar in warm water to soften and let proof for about 10 minutes. Add oil, wheat flour, 2 1/2 cups white flour, and salt. Mix thoroughly, adding more white flour as needed until the dough forms a ball and leaves the sides of the bowl.

Turn dough out on floured board and knead, adding small amounts of flour as necessary. Bagel dough should be pretty stiff. Work in as much extra flour as you can comfortably knead. Knead until smooth and elastic, 12-15 minutes.

Roll the dough into a ball, place it in a large oiled bowl, and turn to coat. Cover and let fully rise until an impression made with your finger remains and does not sink into the dough (about an hour).

Punch down and separate into three equal sized balls of dough. Divide each ball into 4 equal pieces. With each small ball of dough make a perfect ball and poke a hole in the center with your finger. Use both hands to gently stretch the hole in the middle of the bagel until it's about 2 inches across. The bagels will puff, making the hole shrink a lot so make the hole bigger than you would think.

Evenly place the bagels on 2 nonstick baking pans or lightly oiled baking sheets. Cover and let stand until puffy, about 20 minutes.

While bagels are rising, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Now fill a large saucepan 2/3 full with water, and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling add 1 Tbs sugar. When ready to cook, drop 2 or 3 bagels at a time into the boiling water. Boil for about 20-30 seconds on each side.

Carefully lift each bagel out with a slotted spoon or skimmer. Drain momentarily on a dish towel. Turn into a dish with topping, if desired (see my topping recipe below). Evenly space bagels on 2 nonstick baking pans or lightly oiled baking sheets.

Bake in a preheated 425 degree F oven until well-browned, about 20 minutes. If desired, turn bagels once after about 10 minutes to evenly brown both sides, though I only did this the first time and found it to really be unnecessary.

Eat immediately or store in a ziploc bag on your counter for up to a week. You can slice and freeze them to have an easy, quick snack to pop into the toaster at anytime!

Here is what I had on hand to make my "Everything" Bagel topping, you can add and substitute ingredients according to taste and what you have in your cupboard!

"Everything" Bagel Topping
1 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp dried minced onion
2 tsp poppy seeds
2 tsp flax seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt (or any large granule salt)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

We tried these for the first time the other night and loved them! I doubled the recipe and froze half of them. See directions below for how to freeze enchiladas without ending up with mushy tortillas. I learned this method from my amazing friend Kim. Thanks Kim! :)
I forgot to take a picture after they were done, but this is right before being popped in the oven
Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas from Food.com

1 lb chicken breast, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 flour tortillas, softened (8 inches each)
1 1/2 cups grated monterey jack cheese or 1 1/2 cups Mexican blend cheese, divided
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 (15 ounce) can chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies

1. In a frying pan, cook chicken and onion together in oil over medium-high heat until chicken is just done. Divide cooked chicken evenly between 8 tortillas; add 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese to each tortilla (I don't measure this, just eyeball it).

2. Roll enchiladas and place seam-side down in 9x13" baking dish that has been lightly sprayed with no-stick cooking spray.

3. Melt butter in a medium saucepan; stir in flour to make a roux; stir and cook until bubbly; gradually whisk in chicken broth then bring to boiling, stirring frequently.

4. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream and green chiles; pour sauce evenly over enchiladas.

5. Top with remaining 3/4 cup cheese and bake at 400 F for 20 minutes until cheese is melted and sauce near edges of baking dish is bubbly.

Enchiladas, sauce, and cheese

Freezer Meal Prep

Line your baking dish with aluminum foil. Follow steps 1-3. Now wrap your chicken-filled tortillas up in the foil. I split mine into two groups of four so they could be stacked into one big ziploc bag.

Pour your sauce into a saved glass jar- old pasta jars work great. If you don't have a jar then let your sauce cool and pour it into a ziploc bag.

Put your remaining cheese into a ziploc bag.

Now take your foil wrapped tortillas, sauce, and cheese and squeeze them into a gallon sized freezer bag. If they don't all fit in one bag then separate them into two bags, just try to keep those bags close to each other in the freezer :).

Make sure to write baking directions on a slip of paper and stick it in the bag, or write the directions right on the bag with a sharpie.

**When you are ready to eat them let the sauce thaw overnight, or thaw in microwave (carefully). Place rolled up tortillas in 9 x 13 baking dish, pour sauce over, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 400 F for about 20 minutes, though if your rolled up tortillas are still frozen you may need to increase the time!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Texas Sheet Cake

Are you SO jealous of my Texas platter? I got it for my wedding -best present ever!

I am from Texas, it's true. Well, I grew up mostly in Texas and some in Colorado, so I can technically claim BOTH states. Oh yes, I do. And I love them both, but Colorado pride is just not as fun as good ole' Texas Pride. I love to sing  Texas pride songs to my husband and he LOVES it!

So I was feeling in a chocolaty-Texas mood so what better than Texas Sheet Cake?!

This was my first time making THIS recipe and it was delicious! If you're a small family like mine you can freeze the leftovers in individual slices wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in freezer bags. This cake is almost as good straight from the freezer (it's chocolate so, yeah). I particularly like the frosting in this recipe, it has just the right "Texas Sheet Cake" flavor if that makes sense at all.

Texas Sheet Cake from Our Best Bites 

½ c. real butter
½ c. shortening
2 1-oz. squares baking chocolate
½ c. buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
2 c. sugar
1 c. water
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla

6 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
½ c. butter (I used salted butter, gives it the flavor I like for this frosting-LB)
2 1-oz. squares baking chocolate
1 lb. powdered sugar
½ c. chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 11 x 17 jelly roll pan (you can also use a 9×13 pan, but you may die of sugar shock–there’s something to be said for spreading the love in this recipe).

2. Combine ½ c. butter, ½ c. shortening, 2 oz. chocolate, and water in a small saucepan. Heat until chocolate is melted.
3. In a separate small bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Set aside.
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, buttermilk, eggs, cinnamon, and vanilla. Combine with chocolate mixture. Add flour mixture and mix very well. Pour into pan and bake 20-25 minutes or until a pick comes out clean. Five minutes before cake is done, make frosting.

Combine milk, chocolate, and butter in a large (or medium-large) saucepan. Heat until bubbles form around the edge. Remove from heat and add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. If desired, add 1 c. nuts (optional, preferably chopped walnuts or pecans). While icing is still warm, pour over cake.

Mmm! Does it make you hungry?!