The Sweetest Thing.

" I feel there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people" ~Van Gogh

Olive & Feta Stuffed Chicken Breast w/ Walnut Panko Crust November 25, 2014

During the warmer months, I eat salad for lunch pretty much everyday. I always start with a bed of spring mix and get creative with the toppings. One of my very favorite combinations of toppings is olives, feta and walnuts with a slightly sweet homemade vinegarette. Unfortunately, as soon as the temperature drops, salad starts making me gaggy and I just can’t eat it.  I had to figure out a way to combine those flavors into winter friendly food. This is what I came up with.  Lean boneless skinless chicken breast stuffed with chopped olives and crumbled feta and coated with a mixture of finely chopped walnuts and panko breadcrumbs.  A drizzle of honey right before serving balances out the saltiness of the filling perfectly. I will definitely be making this again.
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Olive & Feta Stuffed Chicken Breast w/ Walnut Panko Crust

Serves 4

4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast (trimmed)

3/4 c Walnuts- finely chopped

1/2 c Panko bread crumbs (gluten free for me)

3/4 c Olives- roughly chopped

3/4 c Feta cheese- crumbled

2 Eggs- beaten

Olive oil- for drizzling

Freshly ground black pepper- to taste

Honey- for drizzling

 

1. Preheat oven to 375º

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2. Set everything you need up. This is going to take some dishes. Mix the feta and olives together in a small bowl. Beat the eggs in a shallow dish. Combine the finely chopped walnuts, panko and freshly ground black pepper in another shallow dish. Once everything is set up, cut a “pocket” in the chicken. Be careful not to cut all the way through. It should look like this.

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3. Stuff 1/4 of the mixture into the “pocket”. Roll chicken breast in egg and then in walnut mix. Use toothpicks to keep it closed if necessary. Repeat with remaining 3 chicken breasts.

4. Place stuffed chicken breast in 9×13 pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Like this-

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5. Bake for 45 minutes or until chicken is done.

6. Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes. Drizzle with honey when served if desired.

7. Enjoy!

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Meal Plan. November 24, 2014

Filed under: Meal Plan — Jessica @ 6:22 pm
Tags: , ,

Sorry for the late post guys! I didn’t have much time on the computer this weekend and I worked today, so I am just now getting to it. I usually like to do a grocery haul with my meal plan posts, but I didn’t buy much for groceries this week. I think a half gallon of milk was about it. We are ready for some produce but I won’t have time to get to a store until this weekend.

 

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Last week’s meal plan stayed pretty on track. Monday and Tuesday were as planned. Wednesday, we both worked late and had grilled cheese and tomato soup for a quick and comforting dinner on a snowy night and pushed the tacos to Thursday. Friday I had sushi because we didn’t have much in the way of leftovers. Saturday was as planned and Sunday was Crock Pot Chili & Cornbread.

 

This week’s plan~

Monday~ Walnut Crusted, Feta & Olive Stuffed Chicken Breasts (recipe coming soon), Green Beans

Tuesday~ Bacon, Mushroom, Swiss Burgers, Salt & Vinegar Baked Fries

Wednesday~ Homemade Soup from the freezer (I have several kinds in there)

Thursday~ Thanksgiving!!!!!!

Friday~ Homemade Pizza

Saturday~ Leftovers

Sunday~ Pork Chops, Bacon and Butternut Saute (recipe coming soon), Broccoli

 

What’s on your menu this week? What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish?

 

Pancake Party. November 22, 2014

Filed under: Entertaining — Jessica @ 6:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

I love to entertain but often overwhelm myself with elaborate (and expensive) plans and it dulls the fun. I decided I wanted to have a few people over for a simple Sunday brunch last weekend. I have never really considered entertaining on a Sunday before, but it worked out quite perfect for this. My normal cleaning day is Saturday, so the house was already cleaned and there was no extra stress there.  We always have Sunday brunch anyways, so it wasn’t anything out of the normal routine. It was brunch, so our guests left mid afternoon and we still got to enjoy our Sunday at home together. It was the most stress free entertaining I have ever done.

 

*there was more bacon, I just couldn’t make people wait any longer and wanted a picture of everything.

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The night before, I prepped everything I could. I made the oj, chilled the champagne, got the coffee ready and put butter in the butter dish. I put plates, a mason jar with silverware, cups, napkins, syrups, serving dishes and anything else I could out on the counter. The morning of the party, I just had to turn on the coffee pot, cut up the pineapple, mix up the mimosas, put bacon in the oven and cook pancakes.

 

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I kept the menu simple~ pancakes with butter and a variety of syrups, bacon, sausage, fresh fruit, mimosas and coffee. The bacon was cooked in the oven so I didn’t have to tend the sizzling skillet. Pancakes are very easy to make on my electric skillet and I just made a giant pitcher of mimosas, so there was little hands on work while the guests were here.

 

 

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I set up a drink station area with coffee, mimosas, cups, coffee mugs, creamer, sugar and a box of tea & hot chocolate in case someone wanted them. Plates, napkins, silverware, syrups and all of the food went in another area.

 

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This was also the cheapest party I have ever had~ It cost me about $25 to feed 8 people brunch (including champagne)!

 

I will definitely do another low key Sunday gathering of friends. Maybe I will make a bit pot of soup and some fresh bread next time.

 

What is your favorite way to entertain?  Do you keep it low key or go all out? What is your favorite thing to share with guests?

 

Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes w/ Maple Cream Cheese Frosting & Toasted Pecans. November 19, 2014

That’s quite the title, but all of the ingredients  play an equal roll in the deliciousness of these and I didn’t want to leave anything out. I have not really done much gluten free baking from scratch and these are no different. I will get there eventually, but for now I am relying on box mixes and I am okay with that. These are really simple to make and really good. The cake itself is not very sweet, but the frosting makes up for it and the toasted pecans are really just the perfect finish. These would be great to take to Thanksgiving dinner or a nice fall treat for work.

 

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes w/Maple Cream Cheese Frosting & Toasted Pecans

Makes 18 cupcakes

Ingredients~

1 bag/box gluten free vanilla cake mix

1 can pumpkin puree

1 egg

2 Tbls pumpkin pie spice (or a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves)

8 oz cream cheese (softened)

6 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1 cup chopped pecans- toasted

 

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1. Preheat oven to 350º. Line 18 cupcake spots with paper liners.

2. Combine cake mix, pumpkin, egg and pumpkin pie spice and stir until smooth.

3. Divide evenly amongst liners and bake 18-22 minutes.

4. Remove and let cool completely.

5. For frosting, combine softened cream cheese, 3 cups of powdered sugar and maple syrup in stand mixer (or large mixing bowl). Start on low so the powder sugar doesn’t fly everywhere (I always forget). Gradually add remaining sugar until combined. Increase speed incrementally and let it go for about a minute once it gets all the way up. Frost cooled cupcakes. (There will be extra frosting)

6. Toast chopped pecans as desired. I use a dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes and jostle them around every 30 seconds or so. Some people prefer the oven. I have even heard of doing them in the microwave. Once pecans have toasted and cooled, top frosted cupcakes with them.

7. Enjoy!

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Weekly Menu Plan & Grocery Haul November 17, 2014

Filed under: Meal Plan — Jessica @ 6:00 am
Tags: , , ,

I have been a bit of a grocery shopping maniac this month. I am not really sure why, but I have gone significantly over budget and there is no more room for food in our cupboards, refrigerator, two freezers, snack baskets or the baker’s rack counter I use for produce. I did stock up on quite a bit of stuff, so next month I can cut back a little and it will all even out (hopefully). I also bought some things for holiday meals and the Pancake Party I had yesterday (more on that Saturday), so those don’t count against the usual grocery  budget. I am still at about $375 for the month and it is only the 17th! My grocery hauls really will be minimal the next two weeks to say the least.

 

Menu Plan~

Monday ~Baked Coconut Chicken Fingers, Salads

Tuesday ~ Fish Fry, potato salad, carrots & celery (my partner is cooking)

Wednesday ~ Turkey & Black Bean Tacos

Thursday~ Leftovers

Friday ~ Leftovers

Saturday ~ Salmon Patties, sweet potato fries, roasted broccoli

Sunday~ Spinach, Mushroom and Artichoke Lasagna

 

Last week’s menu plan got a little jumbled up- I flip flopped Monday and Tuesday because I wasn’t feeling well Monday and soup was easier than the Sweet & Sour Chicken and Veggie Fried Rice. Thursday we ordered pizza instead of eating leftovers.  Saturday we ordered in again and Sunday ended up being meat loaf, baked potatoes and brussel sprouts. Pretty much only Wednesday and Friday were as planned. It happens. Hoping to stay on track a little better this week.

 

On to the groceries~

This first picture is of things I bought specifically for the Pancake Party I had yesterday.

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Party Groceries~

~ Bacon

~ Bananas

~ OJ (2)

~ Fresh Pineapple

~ Breakfast Sausage (2)

~ Champagne (2) (for mimosas)

~ Gluten free pancake mix for me (Everyone else got my delicious from scratch buttermilk pancakes)

~ Eggs (only 1 of these is for the party, they other is for the house)

 

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Produce~

~ Mushrooms (2) (I usually buy Cremini but these were on sale for $.69 this week)

~ Butternut squash

~ Sweet potatoes

~ Shallots

~ Garlic

~ Green peppers

~ Honey Crisp apples

~ Red potatoes

~ Romaine

 

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Meat/Dairy~

~ Bacon

~ Turkey Italian sausage

~ Ground turkey

~ Boneless center cut pork chops

~ Milk

~ Cottage cheese

~ Ricotta cheese

~ Breakfast sausage

~ Butter

~ Cheese sticks

~ Sliced swiss cheese

~ OJ (the only other cold item that didn’t fit elsewhere)

 

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Bread Products~

~ Tortillas (for my partner)

~ Italian sandwich bread (for my partner)

~ Pie crust

~ Gluten free whole grain bread

 

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Pantry Items~

~ French style green beans (6), Cream of Mushroom soup (4), French Fried Onions- (we were both asked to bring green bean casserole to our family gatherings. I don’t even eat the stuff)

~ Natural peanut butter

~ Miracle Whip

~ Orange ginger stir fry/ dipping sauce

~ Capers

~ BBQ sauce

~ Chicken Stock (4)

~ Beef Broth (2)

~ Taco shells

~ Brown rice

~ Canned mushrooms (2)

~ Brown sugar

~ Gluten Free pasta

~ Spaghetti

 

There you have it. Despite being so sick last week, I am feeling really on top of stuff this week and I am excited about getting back to my normal routine.

 

What is on your menu this week?

 

Sunday Reading. November 16, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 2:38 am

It was another rough week around here. I ended up getting really sick- Bronchitis with early stage pneumonia exasperated by asthma and a sinus infection. It has not been fun. It actually started last week and I pretended I would just get better with rest and lots of healthy food, but I did not. I ended up in the ER Wednesday night because I was having a lot of trouble breathing.  Four hours, two breathing treatments and four prescriptions later, I was on my way home to get better. I am still not 100%, but I do feel much better. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time on the internet this week while home sick. I came across some good stuff and I’m here to share it with you. Grab your coffee, get cozy and enjoy!

Oh, and this happened~

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~ I love to entertain and don’t do it nearly enough. While planning the pancake party I am having today (Sunday), I came across this list of essentials for entertaining at home. Good to know I am prepared.

 

This is so cool. I want to go to the Netherlands just to ride my bike on this path. Magic.

 

~ I was not in the least bit interested or concerned when I heard about the Kim Kardashian photos that hit the internet this week. I am still not concerned about the photos, but I am concerned about the things people are saying about these photos- especially women. This lady summed my thoughts up just about perfectly.

 

~ I’ve always wanted to meditate but have never had much luck in the traditional sense. This article reassured me that my own practices are just as beneficial as a more traditional approach.~ ” Now each morning I sit in my backyard with a cup of coffee and daydream about things that make my heart feel like a balloon. It’s not the meditation I had once anticipated, but it’s made all the difference in my day.”

 

~ “With no offense to the word balance, I feel that that is a word that we have to be careful of lately because I think it’s become another tool in the arsenal that women especially are using against themselves as one more thing they’re not doing right,”. I could not agree more Elizabeth Gilbert.

 

~ I volunteer at our local farmers market and I have seen how great this program is first hand. So happy to see it is a program opening up in more and more areas. It helps get healthy, local food into the hands of people who can’t always afford them and it boosts sales for local farmers. It’s a win win situation.

 

~ Despite living a pretty active and healthy lifestyle, I have always been “overweight”. I have heard all of these judgments/arguments at one time or another. This article really helps put some things in perspective for those who still think “fat shaming” or any kind of “shaming” of another’s body is okay.

 

~ I love Jesus, but I have yet to find a church I am comfortable in. I’m okay with that for the most part, I believe your spiritual journey is your own and absolutely unique for everyone, but I do sometimes long for the fellowship and community that I remember from church as a child. There are lots of great Christians out there, but there are also a lot of terrible people defending hatred and harm in the name of their god. I just can’t get down with that.

 

~ Although I am not sure I could ever really do it, I love the tiny house movement. I have spent countless hours reading and watching videos about it. The idea of only having enough space to have the things you really need appeals to the part of me who spent many summers following bands around the country and living out of a car.

 

~ I love this guy and I am glad to so many people are outraged about his repeated arrests for feeding homeless people. The fact that he chose to continue doing so is one of the many reasons that I am so in love with this world. So many good, kind, loving people out there.

 

~ Whether you agree with him or not, I just can’t understand the level of disrespect people have towards our President. He is not responsible for every single problem ever. Many of the problems we have in this country started long before this Presidency and he has actually done quite a bit of good. There are valid reasons and concerns, but I think a lot of people are just caught up in the “Anti- Obama frenzy” and so few people are even paying attention to the facts anymore.

 

Happy Sunday!

 

Butternut Sqaush & Red Onion Gratin with Fresh Thyme. November 13, 2014

Filed under: Side Dish,Vegetables — Jessica @ 6:00 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Normally, I take a sweeter approach with squash and mash it up with some brown sugar and butter, but this may very well have changed my thinking on that. I actually made something that involved a few of the key ingredients in this for book club a couple of years ago, but kind of forgot about it until this started happening. This was created on a random Monday night, but it would be the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table. It is buttery, cheesy, delicious comfort food at it’s finest.

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Butternut Squash & Red Onion Gratin w/Fresh Thyme

1 butternut squash- seeded, peeled & very thinly sliced

2 Tbls fresh thyme

2 Tbls olive oil

1/2 medium red onion- thinly sliced

4 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese (divided)

1/2 cup panko (I used gluten free)

2 Tbls butter- melted

salt & pepper

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1. Preheat oven to 375º. Prepare squash. I cut mine in half the long way, scoop out the seeds, cut off the bulb part and peel it before slicing it very thin. Prepare 8×8 pan by coating with thin layer of olive oil.

2. Toss squash, red onion, thyme, olive oil, salt & pepper to coat. Add in half of cheese and toss to distribute. Dump into oiled pan.

3.Mix remaining cheese, panko, salt and pepper in small bowl. Spread over the top of squash.

4. Drizzle with melted butter.

5. Cover with foil and bake at 375º for 45 minutes. Remove foil after 25 minutes so the top can brown.

6. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

7. Enjoy!

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