Tag Archives: Cooking

WIAW – a new schedule

Another day of eats coming your way. Don’t forget to head over to Peas and Crayons to see the entire link up!

Now that we are back from a little vacation in North Carolina and California, it’s time to settle into my new summer schedule. As you may remember, I made a big announcement that I was leaving my job to pursue a Masters in Social Work. I am really thrilled about this next step 🙂 I have a number of tasks for this summer prior to starting school full time. I am supplementing my time prepping for school with a number of exciting side projects that are a bit more “social work-y” (yeah I’m just gonna own that word) in nature. Here’s what my new schedule is like…

Like every good Tuesday, I started the morning with a cardio warm up and an AM session with my trainer. We were both traveling last week so we haven’t worked out together in two weeks! He definitely brought the pain  with a killer lower body workout. I was positively dripping sweat by the end of our session. I headed home to shower and enjoyed a breakfast of iced coffee with 2% milk and overnight oats in a jar! I finally finished my jar of sunflower butter (must get more ASAP I love it) so I made overnight oats with strawberry yogurt, oats, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, and raisins. So delicious and super filling. I had a really busy morning ahead so I didn’t want to get hungry!

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My project kept me out of the house until 2 pm! By the time I got home I was positively famished. I reheated a homemade black bean burger (recipe post coming for these because OMG they were so good) on a toasted english muffin with a slice of gouda cheese. I wanted some veggies on the side so I cut up some celery sticks. As a little treat, I turned three of them into “ants on a log” with peanut butter and golden raisins. I guess the golden raisins make them less ant like but that’s what we had open. They were DELICIOUS.

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I spent the rest of the afternoon working at home and taking a few phone calls. Suddenly I was totally in the mood to workout again! I am definitely enjoying the increased freedom of my new schedule so I decided to attend a 5:30 boot camp class at my gym I had never been able to get to before! Before heading out, I ate a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats with almond milk. Glad I had it because boot camp was amazing and TOUGH. I don’t normally or always workout twice a day, but I love to exercise so I just do what I feel like doing!

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After gym round two, I came back home to work some more until Mike got home from work. We ran out to CVS to pick up some eggs / bread that I needed for our planned dinner. Totally impulse purchased a 99 cent pack of “Red Fish” because I was getting SUPER hungry. They were not as good as the real thing but for 99 cents I wasn’t too upset about it.

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With all the proper supplies in hand, I set to work making a frittata for dinner. I wrote a post about frittatas a while ago with more information. This one included eggs (duh), red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, yellow onion, shredded cheese, salt, pepper, and basil. Topped with some sliced avocado and served with a slice of sourdough toast. This dinner totally hit the spot! If you haven’t tried sliced avocado on your eggs before I highly recommend it!

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After dinner I wasn’t feel super hungry for a snack but I was having a little bit of a sweet craving. I realized I hadn’t had much fruit so I snacked on a gala apple. It was just ok… not the crispest apple ever. But that’s ok 🙂

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Questions for you guys:

  • What are your favorite ingredients to include in a frittata?
  • Favorite fruit? 
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Turn a Shortcut Into a Meal

Before we get into the meat of today’s post I realized yesterday that I missed my one year blogaversary! For snicks… here’s a link to my first post EVER! A lot has changed in the past year. I ran a marathon. I moved to a new apartment. I got engaged to the most wonderful man on the planet. It’s also not been without its challenges. My knee injury flared up again causing me to not run my second marathon. Or even the half marathon. I’ve also been doing some hard work to improve my relationship with food. All in all… the last year has been nothing like I thought it would be. I am so thankful for the friends I have made through this blog and I can’t wait to see what the next year brings for Pennies on the Run!

On a normal week, I cook for two people. But when Mike is traveling for work… it’s just me and the felines. When Mike travels, I not only miss him terribly (we try to face time every night, which is usually me chasing the cats around the apartment trying to get them to “say hi to daddy”. They HATE this game) but I also have a renewed appreciation for how much he does around the apartment! I mean he takes care of the cats, does the laundry, takes out the garbage… and now I have to do all of that myself. Disaster. Sometimes, I like to keep meals really simple by taking an easy shortcut and modifying it to create a great meal. This week I found a box of Annie’s Organic Alfredo Shells & Cheddar in the back of a cabinet (this was in my stocking this Christmas from my future in-laws!) The box says it has 2.5 servings but one serving of this was definitely NOT going to keep me satisfied all night. I decided to amp it up and turn it into a meal.

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To me, one of the best ways to bulk up a meal is to add a ton of veggies. I found 1.5 zucchini and a bag of arugula in the refrigerator. I also had a pack of chicken sausage. Veggies? Check. Protein? Check.

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I sliced up the zucchinis and 2 chicken sausages to saute in a pan with just a little olive oil.

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After they had a few minutes to cook, I added two big handfuls of arugula. When cooking greens with other veggies, always add the greens last. They cook down MUCH faster and you don’t want them to get overcooked.

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After the macaroni and cheese was finished I added everything together and mixed it up. Voila!

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Served in a bowl with a little extra parmesan cheese on top for good measure. By adding all these extra ingredients, I was able to turn this into THREE servings of a very hearty and delicious meal. It made for an excellent lunch the next day at work too.

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Questions for you guys:

  • When was the last time you ate macaroni and cheese from a box? I hadn’t had it in FOREVER.
  • What “shortcuts” to you use to make delicious meals?

Toasted Turkey Meatball Subs

Growing up, one of my favorite memories was making meatballs with my dad. I used to wake up on a weekend morning to the smell of spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove and know it was time to make a huge batch of meatballs! To this day, I’ve never found a meatball that compares (and I’ve tried a lot trust me). I was curious to see if I could apply some of the techniques from those meatballs to a lighter / turkey version. Saturday night I decided to give it a shot (and turn them into some really delicious open face turkey meatball sandwiches). Here’s what you need for the meatballs (recipe is at the bottom!):

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Very unscientific fact right here… it’s better to mix the meat by hand 🙂 Just make sure you remove your rings / jewelry (unless you like having raw meat stuck in the crevices!)

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Many people fry meatballs in a pan on the stove in oil, but we always baked them in the oven. I think they taste a LOT better and they’re not fried in oil… double win!

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My dad is a scientist, so cooking was always fun with him because he would teach us things in the process! You want to make sure your meatballs are equally sized to ensure even cooking. I always wanted to make HUGE ones when I was little but it’s better to keep them on the smaller end. You can really pack them into the cookie sheet though… no risk of spreading here!

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While the meatballs were in the oven, I prepped the ingredients for the sandwiches. We made pizza the night before so I used up the rest of the pizza sauce / mozzarella. I also decided to add a little extra basil to balance the thyme flavor of the meatballs.

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Flip your meatballs over halfway through cooking. They should get that nice brown mark on the bottom (that’s how you know they’re ready to flip!)

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I also sauteed up a bag of kaleidoscope chart with some coconut oil to eat on the side… DELICIOUS and so simple.

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When the meatballs were done I transferred them to another plate and put the oven on broil.

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Prepped and ready for the broiler! Don’t forget about them while they’re in there though. Broiler is a fickle beast so you want to watch them carefully.

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Anddd… VOILA! Perfectly browned cheese with a hefty portion of chard to accompany. These were absolutely amazing so I hope you enjoy 😀

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recipe

Questions for you guys:

– How do you make meatballs??

– What foods were your favorite to cook when you were little?

Spring 2013 To Do List

Creating a seasonal to do list has become on of my favorite things. [You can see my Summer 2012, Fall 2012, and Winter 2012/2013 lists] This is going to be a SUPER busy Spring (as evidenced by the fact that I am not posting my Spring To Do list until April 1st… whoops!) so I wanted to streamline my list this season.

  1. Try two new fitness workouts – I still haven’t tried barre and I have my eye on a couple places in my travels.
  2. Set a new 10K and 5K PR – This is the spring of speed! I’m running a 5K this Friday night and I’ve got a good feeling 🙂
  3. Hike Sugarloaf Mountain – I loved hiking Bull Run Mountain last summer and Great Falls this winter. Want to keep it up!
  4. Travel to Boston – One of my best friends moved up to Boston at the beginning of last summer and I haven’t made it there to visit her yet (SHAME). I am committed to making it happen this Spring.
  5. Cook seafood at home twice – I wrote a post after the FIRST time I cooked fish as home. Haven’t done it much since then (except here I think). Want to try my hand at some new and more creative recipes with seafood.
  6. Do 35 unbroken full push ups – I have totally caught the strength training bug and I’m loving the results I’m seeing already! Between working with my trainer and on my own, I think 35 full unbroken push ups is well within my grasp.
  7. Try two new yoga studiosYou’ve all been following along on my journey to find the perfect yoga studio (Reviews here and here so far) I want to give two more studios a try this Spring. I’m thinking Tranquil Space and one other.
  8. Buy my wedding dress – I’ve not been great about keeping you guys updated on wedding stuff so far (if I was a smarter blogger I would because my page views go WAY up when I write about wedding stuff). I’m having a really hard time settling on exactly what KIND of dress I want to wear at the wedding, and I hate being so indecisive. 
  9. Plan more fun adventures with MikeMike and I were on a really good streak for a while of planning monthly “date nights” (some examples here, here, and here), but we’ve fallen off the wagon a little bit. I want to be more intentional this spring about planning special outings together (just the two of us!)
  10. Read 5 books – I’ve been on a big reading kick recently (Some examples of book reviews here, here, and here). I’ve always been a big reader / book lover, but my reading definitely ebbs and flows at times. I want to keep up my current enthusiasm by reading 5 new books this spring (I just finished Crossed by Allie Condie and I’m halfway through Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Trebole and Elyse Resch!)

And this post needs a picture… so here’s some glamour shots of Fig and Little Mac at the vet (not happy kitties)

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Ricotta Pasta

I.LOVE.PASTA. If I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, it would definitely be pasta (or maybe pizza… close tie). I am especially loving pasta these days since I’m not forcing myself to restrict it anymore! (I’m planning a summation post on my Intuitive Eating challenge later this week with many more details) I used to think pasta was “bad” so when I did “let myself have it” I always completely gorged myself on it. My mind was in that deprivation place of not knowing when I would ever be allowed to have it again. So when I was confronted with pasta… I ate ALL the pasta. Now that I know I can have pasta absolutely any time I want to have pasta, I eat a single serving in a bowl and walk away from the table completely satisfied (ok, ok, maybe one or two more bites as I pack away the leftovers).

Recently, I’ve been finding myself really favoring simple meals. We’re busy during the week so I have less time to cook elaborate dinners. This recipe requires 5 simple ingredients and hits 3 macro nutrients all in one dish (protein, carbs, and vegetables). Here’s what you’ll need (recipe / instructions at the bottom): You could substitute any kind of pasta (I chose brown rice fuscilli – but please remember I am NOT gluten free. I just like this kind a lot), meat (I used ground turkey but beef or chicken would be fine), vegetables (I ❤ brussels sprouts. End of story) and tomato sauce (Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic is delicious and $1.95 – CHA CHING). The secret here is the ricotta (which in my world is pronounced with a G). Mixing it with tomato sauce gives you a slightly “creamy” sauce without a super heavy alfredo. mmmmm…mmm…. good.

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The other best part of this meal is that you can make the entire thing in the time it takes to boil the water / cook the pasta. I also was able to prep chicken noodle soup in the crock pot during this time.

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Mike is an excellent kitchen helper. I cut these brussels into quarters because they were really big.

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Fig kept a watchful eye on the whole process, but he doesn’t like vegetables (BLEH green stuff!)

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After the meat was cooked, I moved it to a bowl and drained MOST of the fat. I left some (about 1 tbsp) in the pan to sautee the brussels.

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For the sauce simply add your sauce and a dollop of ricotta cheese for a smooth and creamy finish.

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Serve with a little extra ricotta if you like (I love cheese… so yes please) and any garnish you like! I used oregano and crushed red pepper.

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For being so quick and simple, this meal was a HUGE hit. Mike loved it.

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And so did Little Mac…

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recipe

Warm Chicken Caesar Sandwiches

One of the things I am loving the most about working through the 21 Intuitive Eating Challenge is rediscovering foods that I had made “off limits” for so long. One of those things? Caesar salad. I NEVER ate it for years because of the dressing, cheese, and croutons. Since I’m working on throwing out all my food rules and eating what I truly crave, I had my first chicken caesar wrap in years last week at work. It was… delicious. Sunday evening, I wanted to cook something warm and homey for dinner. I had a bunch of crap in my refrigerator and no plan. Intuitive eating perfection right there!

Recalling my extremely positive experience with my chicken caesar wrap, I decided to draw on that. I didn’t have lettuce so traditional salad or wraps were out. But I did have a nice amount of other delicious green veggies… so warm chicken caesar sandwiches were born!

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Here’s everything you’ll need (but the recipe with ingredient list is also below!)

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I’ve recently started using Trader Joe’s Olive Oil cooking spray and I’m enjoying it a lot! It’s not the BEST for non-stick properties (eggs particularly stick a little bit, but not terrible). I lightly coated my pan and browned a pack of chicken thighs. Chicken thighs are completely delicious btw. Much more flavorful than breasts so a great addition in simple dishes.

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While my chicken was cooking, I prepped the other pieces. I was getting hungry so trying to be as efficient as possible. I went with zucchini, green pepper, yellow onion, and leeks. I recently discovered leeks and I’ve been using them a lot. They are amazingly fragrant and a nice complement to onions. And of course hearty wheat bread, which we toasted as a sandwich base.

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I removed the chicken from the pan and threw the onions and leeks in first to “sweat down”. I heard that phrase on a cooking show once and I think it’s very accurate.

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For the sauce, I decided to mix a vinaigrette caeser dressing with a dollop of tahini sauce to add some creaminess. They ended up blending together wonderfully!

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And VOILA! served hot and topped with Parmesan cheese (because I don’t think many meals are complete without cheese!)

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Here’s my recipe in case you need it!

Warm Chicken Caesar Sandwiches

Turn Leftovers into Black Bean Soup

I love cooking and overall find it to be the most economical way to eat during the week. I really enjoy undertaking a new recipe, trying a new skill, or spending time experimenting on my own. However, cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day is super daunting and tiring. Therefore, I enjoy an easy short cut just as much as the next person.

Last week, I made my favorite ten minute tacos for dinner one evening. Afterwards, I had several cans and packages open that I hadn’t finished. I was suddenly struck with an idea. What if I could turn these leftovers from tacos into another meal?? Everything is pretty much all ready. In fact, I had this meal prepped and in the crock pot before Mike even finished the dishes from dinner (Yes, my man does the dishes and I love him for that). I put the full recipe at the bottom for your reference 🙂

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You may want to adjust the green chilies and taco seasoning based on your heat preference. I like spicy but at the end of the day I thought this was even a little too hot for me. I might have scaled it back on the chilies and taco seasoning just a little bit.

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I always keep a box of chicken or vegetable stock in my refrigerator. It comes in handy SO often. I used to buy the low sodium version but I found that it was so bland I just ended up adding salt. I’d rather cook with the salt then add it after. I think it tastes better. Very unscientific information courtesy of Christina… you’re welcome.

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This provided several lunches for me and Mike throughout the week. Black bean soup is so hearty and filling, especially in this crappy weather we’ve been having!

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blackbeansouprecipe

Questions for you guys:

– Beans: love ’em or hate ’em? What’s your favorite one??? Personally, I love almost all beans except Red Kidney Beans. Those are really hit or miss for me. Consequently, I don’t love chili. I usually make white bean chili at home… which ROCKS.

– What recipes are you loving this week??

Healthy Office Eats

I feel like a common sentiment is that working in an office makes eating healthy / living healthy harder. I notice a lot of people citing office parties or events as endless temptation of cookies and cake. I seem to work in a relatively healthy work environment… but I do work in the healthcare field (woah my first insight into what I do for a living on POTR) While I think working in an office provides interested and unique challenges, I don’t think it’s impossible to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Today I thought I’d share some healthy office tricks and then some recipe ideas for easy pack and go breakfasts / lunches.

Healthy Office Tips (that work for me… you might be different and that’s ok!)

  • I bring breakfast and lunch to work pretty much every day. It’s cheaper to use groceries to make these meals and I have more control over what is in them. I make dishes like soups, stews, or casseroles that are really easy to pack and reheat. I don’t have time to eat breakfast at home in the mornings (my mornings are streamlined down to the minute to get up, workout, and get out the door in time) so I bring it with me and eat with my coffee at my desk. I have located a couple eating out options near my office that have healthy-ish options that actually taste good. I use those as treats. I can’t eat a salad every day for lunch… kill me.
  • I don’t keep snacks at my desk. I know several coworkers who keep snacks at their desks but not me. Gretchen Rubin talks about the importance of understanding if you’re an abstainer or moderator. In this way, I am an abstainer. It is easier for me to just not have them. If they’re there… I will eat them. I one time took down an entire container of wasabi almonds in two days. It was… gross. I try to make sure I pack a breakfast and lunch that will keep me through the day and either fruit or greek yogurt as a snack.
  • I stay super hydrated. This is lame advice because everyone knows they should drink water. But I find that it seriously curbs my appetite and decreases my urge to snack.
  • I just say no. See above about whether you’re an abstainer or a moderator, but I prefer to pick my splurges. I often walk into the kitchen to find someone has put out cookies or snacks. We always order a cookie / brownie tray for catered meetings. For those situations, I just.say.no. I’m not saying I’ve NEVER eaten a snack someone put in the kitchen or had a cookie at a meeting, because I totally have. But I’d rather save my treats to eat a pizza with Mike or get gelato on the weekend. Something that I’m really craving and really want, not just something that is there.

Work Recipe Ideas:

Breakfast

  • Whole wheat toast with some kind of protein topping (This is a staple for me. I do fat free refried beans, cottage cheese and sliced tomato, sunflower butter and jelly… anything!)
  • Overnight oats (easiest of the easy… I make while I’m cooking dinner and pick them up in the morning)
  • Smoothies (I make mine the night before, keep it in the refrigerator overnight, and when I get back from the gym pop it in the freezer so it lasts on the commute to work. I keep them simple with fruit / veggies, yogurt, almond milk, and protein powder)
  • Frittatas or Egg Bakes (I LOVE eggs but it’s hard to eat them during the week when I’m having breakfast at work. Frittatas and Egg Bakes are super easy to cook ahead of time and reheat at the office)
  • Crockpot Oatmeal (I make a large batch and put it into individual containers with different toppings. Then I just reheat it at the office!

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[Breakfast: Red Pepper and Artichoke Frittata with sliced banana on gorgeous office china]

Lunch

  • Soups (I make soup a lot. Throw it in the crock pot with a ton of veggies and protein and you’re guaranteed to be full all afternoon. The easiest thing in the world to pack and reheat at work too)
  • Salads (If I’m using leftovers from dinner for lunch but there isn’t quite enough to be a standalone meal, I throw everything on top of a big salad to beef it up)
  • Casseroles (Two examples: here and here. I often make casseroles that have 8 servings so between Mike and I we get 4 meals out of it. I space them throughout the week so I don’t get too bored. Mike doesn’t care he could literally eat the exact same thing every day and be happy!)
  • Sandwiches, Wraps, Burritos, Quesadillas (If you’re office has a toaster oven… use that bad boy! I bring fat free refried bean and mexican cheese burritos or black bean and veggie quesadillas all the time. They’re way healthier than pre-made frozen ones… even the kind from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. They’re also SUPER cheap… you’re welcome wallet)

What do you do to stay healthy at the office??

Turkey Meatlo…. uhhhh Burgers!

Call me old fashioned but I love a good Sunday dinner. Especially right now, because Downton Abbey is on Sunday nights! If you follow me on Twitter (sorry Amy) you know I am obsessed with that show and engage in some very excessive live tweeting. They’re not particularly good or funny tweets… but I did get a couple retweets on one particularly snappy tweet haha. VICTORY! Anyways, this Sunday I wanted to make a yummy, comfort food dinner to enjoy before the two hour event at 9. My intention was to make SkinnyTaste turkey meatloaf. I even got all the ingredients out and mixed up the ingredients.

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However, my over was preheating during this time and I turned around to see THIS. Smoke was billowing out of the stove! Initially, I panicked. Nobody wants to be THAT girl that sets off the fire alarm in the building. But then I remembered that the night before, in a completely misguided attempt at domesticity, I had sprayed over cleaner all over the place inside the oven. I was supposed to wipe it out with a wet sponge in the morning. Clearly… I forgot. Moral of this story… don’t clean your oven.

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So the oven was out of commission for dinner. I had to let it cool down completely and wipe it out before we could use it. I was also getting really hungry. Even letting a meatloaf cook for an hour was looking daunting. So I changed gears and turned my meatloaf mixture into turkey burgers. Thankfully my awesome brother bought me this super sweet Cuisinart 5 in 1 griddler for Christmas this year. I intended to use it mostly as a griddle for pancakes but it can also function as a grill(something I have always missed about apartment living)!

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We closed the top for quicker cooking and look at those grill marks! I probably used more onion than I needed some pieces started jumping ship, but that was ok.

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Topped it with some shredded cheese (because burgers without cheese are un-American) and served it with a side of sauteed zucchini and steamed kale with garlic salt. I normally HATE frozen greens like spinach. I think they just do not taste good. But Trader Joe’s Frozen Kale is the jam. If you haven’t tried it… please do. I always keep a bag in the freezer just to have on hand. The greens are still crunchy and full of flavor.

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In addition to believing in Sunday dinner, I also believe in a Downton Abbey treat. This week Mike used our Vitamix to make banana soft serve. If you haven’t made this before, seriously stop what you are doing right now and make it. I am a total ice cream nut. I could eat such massive quantities of it, it’s embarrassing. This recipe is just two frozen bananas processed in the Vitamix (food processors are also apparently great, but we don’t have one). It was just like soft serve ice cream!! Amazingly creamy and delicious. I can’t recommend it enough. I added a scoop of Trader Joe’s Speculoos Crunchy Cookie Butter, because it is a treat after all 🙂

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Crock Pot Overload

I didn’t have a recipe post for you guys last week and I used an old recipe this week, so I thought I would give you a look at what else I’ve been up to in the kitchen the last couple weeks. Julie over at Peanut Butter Fingers is doing a crock pot challenge and I decided to participate! Basically, I’m going to try 10 new crock pot recipes before the end of February, write up a summary post of all the recipes I tried, and link up with her on her site. I’m aiming for about 2 recipes per week so I don’t go on crock pot overload. However, last week we had a lot of social events or nights with easy dinners like pancakes / eggs, so I didn’t have much to show! Crock pot recipes are awesome but they’re kinda lame to highlight on the blog. Like, what am I going to show you? I opened a bunch of cans and packages, dumped them into a pot, turned it on, and went about my life until it was ready to eat. Not exactly a lot of skill involved in that. But I’ll give you a sneak peek prior to my big recap.

My first recipe was this gingered beef and vegetables recipe. It ended up being several days worth of lunches and it was GOOD. I almost always use chicken or vegetable stock when cooking but I need to stop overlooking beef stock. It is SO flavorful and delicious. This was a great “hearty” lunch to take me through after work social events like a concert and a basketball game.

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Saturday was a great day to use the slow cooker for dinner. Sometimes I don’t like to use it during the week b/c all the recipes say to cook for 8 hours on low. It’s always more than 8 hours from when I leave the apt in the morning to when I return in the evening. Sometimes I don’t want to leave it sitting there on “warm” for 2 more hours! Since I was around on Saturday, it was such a nice treat to not have to think too hard about cooking dinner when the time came. I used this recipe for Pasta with Eggplant Sauce. I loved this sauce because it was so thick and hearty with vegetables. It made my portion of high-fiber mini penne look positively massive (see the picture below… YOWZA). I am a pasta eating champion and if left to my own devices could easily put down a ridiculous amount of pasta. By adding lots of vegetables / thickening agents to the sauce, it’s a great way to tame the pasta eating beast within!

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And this Santa Fe Chicken is cooking in the crock pot for dinner AS WE SPEAK! Gonna be some goooooood eatins tonight. I love these kind of crock pot recipes, especially because I can throw the chicken breast in whole and shred it after it’s had 9.5 hours to cook with just a fork. So easy. And also delicious.

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Anyways, as you can see the creativity I can employ with photographing crock pot meals is pretty minimal. So don’t worry, you won’t be seeing a crock pot recipe every week until the end of February. I’ll spice it up for you! But so far… the recipes have been amazing (even if they’re slightly boring to look at). I’m planning on making this Vegetable and Chick Pea curry later this week! Crock pot challenge FOR THE WIN!

Anybody have favorite crock pot recipes they want to share??? I’ve got a lot more meals to make before the end of February and I am taking any and all suggestions 🙂