Burning Daylight

Today is the first day of my first vacation since maternity leave. I am hoping to put vacation to good use. Working out, eating better, etc. I have been on a diet (calorie and portion watching) for two weeks. So far so good. Without working out I have still lost five pounds.

We will see how it goes I suppose.

Since my last post, I am down a dress size, so things have still been going well. My daughter is nearly two years old and growing like a weed. She is getting so big its depressing.

Either way, lets get this party started! ♥

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Figuring it out

We finally were able to afford a gym membership with California Family Fitness. We have been going for three weeks, and I have lost 12 pounds.  I am using a handy app on my phone that helps me log all of my calories and exercising.  Of course, watching our diet and portions has helped a lot.  I have cut out the Starbucks (EEEK!) and the Vodka (GASP!).  I am feeling great, and keeping motivated to go even further.  Now to just move forward and keep going in the right direction.

In other news, my daughter has a slight cold.  I am off work the next few days to stay at home and be a mama.  I love it.  I wish I could stay with her every day.  I am sure she would love that too.  I am sure the dog would love to be home with people every day instead of alone with the cat.

I also recently started a second “job” as a Passion Parties independent sales consultant.  This second job is totally fun, and probably shouldn’t even be called a job.  I love it.  I am still building my business, and waiting for the day it can become a full-time job.  I have met so many interesting women, heard great stories, and helped women experience themselves for the first time.  It’s been great.

My life is headed in the right direction, I am just waiting to figure out what my next moves are going to be.  I am praying daily for a sign as to what my next move needs to be.  I am thankful for what we have, and I am excited to see what the future brings for my family.  Now to just keep moving in the right direction.

Meal Replacements

So, I am wondering…..why would one do a meal replacement shake vs just eating healthy. Is it because of convenience? I have a friend spelling a specific brand of meal replacement shakes and I am curious. I have also read recipes for meal replacements that you can make out of regular protein shake powder.

I want to reset my hunger gauge. I am.always hungry even when I eat over 2000 calories in a day. A woman my size should be eating around 1500. What is the best way to do this. I don’t have the willpower to simply ignore my grumbling belly.

Gah!!!

Chicken Soft What?

So today’s experiment in the slow cooker is chicken soft something.  The recipe is for chicken soft taco’s, but I am almost certain my husband will want chicken soft nacho’s.  The recipe is essentially the chicken itself, now what ever you decide to do with the chicken is up to you.  The recipe is simple, and great in a bind.  You don’t even have to defrost the chicken, and there are three easy ingredients.  Throw them all in the slow cooker, and cook on low for six to eight hours.

  • Four FROZEN Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (or approx 1 lb.)
  • 1 14.5 oz Can of Tomato’s (or tomato’s with peppers)
  • 1 Packet of Low Sodium taco seasoning.

Note: I put the can of tomato’s in and a little bit of salsa.  Also, instead of the seasoning packet, I put in some of my own seasonings that I know we like, therefore removing some of the seasonings that I don’t like.  I used paprika, chili powder, and dried onion flakes.

I have made this recipe previously, and it was amazing.  Now I am changing up the seasonings.  I am doing this because ever since I got pregnant, my heart burn doesn’t like too many crazy seasonings and spices.

The thing I like most about this recipe, is it is great in a bind.  I don’t know how many of you have a ton of chicken in the freezer to take out when you want it.  Well, this is the recipe for when you don’t want to risk the chicken de-frosting on time (like today when I remembered to take something out at noon!).  You can toss the frozen chicken in the slow cooker with a can of tomato’s some salsa and seasonings, turn it on, and you have a great meal that looks like it took all day to make.  This chicken can be used, like I said before, in so many different meals, like burritos, enchiladas, nachos, tacos, and change-up the seasonings for even more feasts.

Feel free to suggest seasoning alternative idea’s, and meal ideas for this simple easy main ingredient.  (And low sodium and diet friendly!)

Slow Cooker Parmesan Chicken

This recipe is from the Fix It and Forget It Lightly cook book, and is what I am making tonight for dinner.  The recipe says it makes 8 servings, however while shopping around today, I wasn’t able to find a package of chicken with four or eight chicken breasts, so I got a package with five monster breasts, chopped three in half, froze two, and so essentially I have six pieces of chicken in the slow cooker.  The prep time took about ten minutes, including cleaning up the chicken and chopping off the fat.   The recipe takes about four or four and a half hours to cook, and you should use a larger 4-5 quart slow cooker.

What you will need:

  • 8 Boneless Skinless Chicken breast (Like I said, I couldn’t find this, so I have three really really big chicken breasts cut in half)
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 cup fat-free mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup grated fat-free parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika

First, of course, clean up the chicken, cut off the fat, remove any blood vessels if they are in there (cos that’s just nasty).  Then cover and cook on high for two hours.  (This is where I am now!) Then mix the remaining ingredients and spread over the chicken, then cover and cook on high for two to two and a half more hours.

I like my crock pot because it will cook for the specified time, then keep the product warm.  So I can prepare this meal and have it done and then just keep it warm for a few hours while I am at work.  My theory is, make it on days I am off and my husband works, so that I can still get my errands done, play with the baby, etc and have an amazing meal waiting for him when he get’s home.  alternately, when he is working, I can get the first two hours done, and add the additional ingredients just before I leave for work on a closing day, have the crock pot cook and keep warm after the second two hours, so he can eat when he gets home, and I can eat when I get home.  Since when I close I often don’t get home until after 9pm!  I can make my husband dinner and don’t even have to be home.

Edit: Ok, so it is now 7:45pm, and dinner and dishes are done.  I didn’t take any pictures because, well, it didn’t look too pretty.  It did, however, taste amazing, and I am already looking forward to lunch tomorrow!  I was a little concerned because there is a lot of mayonnaise, but the majority of the ingredients added toward the end, stayed in the slow cooker, and went in the trash.  Someone else may choose to eat the sauce, but we are not big fans of mayo or miracle whip.  Enjoy!!!

Healthy Cooking Doesn’t Cost More

I keep hearing on the news that people on food stamps purchase crappy unhealthy food because it costs too much to eat healthier.  Ok, as one who just went to the grocery store for one meal, I am going to have to go ahead and call “Bull-Shit!” on that argument.  I purchased quite a bit of food, and spent about what one meal for my family at some sort of fast food joint like Taco Bell or Burger King.  The list of stuff I bought:

  • The stuff for just this meal: 
    • 3.73 lbs of Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (Eating Right Chicken Breast Boneless Skinless Extreme Value Pack)
    • A Baguette of Sourdough Bread (We need a side right?!?)
    • A bottle of Cabernet
  • The stuff for this and many meals in the future: 
    • Reduced Fat Mayonnaise (the small bottle)
    • A jar of paprika
    • A jar of dried oregano leaves

Ok, now just so you know, this meal cost me $25 (Not including the bottle of wine, that was $8.99).  The meal will feed us for three nights!  It costs us $20 to get through the drive through.  And now for the kicker…the chicken breasts were not from chickens, I think they were from Godzilla.  I used three of the five chicken breasts, froze the other two, and plan on making slow cooker chicken soft taco’s with them next week!  So really, from the $25, I am getting three meals for two, and then another meal for four (my parents are coming and I plan on making the chicken soft taco’s when they are here.)

Both recipes are from the Fix it and Forget it Lightly cookbook….both take about ten minutes to prepare before work, and at these prices, who needs the drive through?

Gourmet meals with time to spare.

So many evenings, so little time.  So many mom’s and dad’s work full-time and have to come home to spend another hour on a decent meal.  I have been trying to figure out ways to eat healthier, but not spend half my evening at home cooking.  After all, I hate cooking, and I hate cleaning up after it even more.

My solution, the Crock Pot!  I purchased a crock pot recipe book that was a combination of multiple books brought together.  It has everything from beverages to desserts, healthy eating to game day favorites. I am excited because there are several healthy eating recipes that are easy to make.

I was looking at just getting the healthy version of the book, but then I decided, sometimes a girl needs a good comfort food of chili, lasagna  or whatever comfort foods the bigger book had, for not much more money, so I got the full book. We are talking about 1400 slow cooker recipes, anything you can think of, it’s in this book.  I really like how the index is organized, and the Light recipes are clearly labeled and easy to distinguish.  

I will try out the recipes and share them here as I try them, and let you know what I think, any modifications I’ve made, and any tips and tricks I think you might want to know.  After all, recipes are not a law of cooking for the most part, we will all change it up to our own tastes.  Like for one, I am not too big on artificial seasonings, so I will probably exclude them, and try my own flavorings.

Note: I have decided to do this because hey, my most popular posts are all about food and recipes. And since I am not a big cooker, great meals that take minimal prep and baby sitting are just the right recipe for me and my lifestyle. 

Sick Baby = Sick Day

I have a sick baby at home, which means I have a sick day at work!  It is making me want to stay home with her forever.    She is acting totally normal, like her happy little self.  She is coughing quite a bit and sneezing with a runny little nose.  I want to stay home with her forever, because she is my little precious girl, and I want to keep her out of school where she also could have caught something not only this time, but in the future as well.

On a semi-side note, I have been battling postpartum, and it has turned into this feeling of not wanting to leave her.  It is so weird, and a change from my previous feelings of wanting time apart from her.  Now, especially since she is growing so much and so fast, that by leaving her at school, I am going to miss all of her milestones.  It makes me want to be with her every single day, so that I don’t miss any part of her life and her development.  I was so happy yesterday that she rolled over for the first time by herself, and I was home to be with her.  I am so happy I didn’t miss it.  My husband is a little bummed he missed it, but I took some pictures and sent them to him,  so that he could at least share the moment from work.

I don’t know how I would feel if I missed her first steps or her first stab at crawling, just because I had to work in order to keep our debt on a downward trend.  I know I could quit work, but I am working for a few reasons.  So we can keep with somewhat of a lifestyle that we are used to, and so we can pay off our debt quicker.  As much as I want to stay home with her and never return to work, I know the consequences is a much higher debt for a much longer time frame, and I would rather pay that down for another year.

I wish there was a way I could figure out how to make money with my many blogs, or even finish my book and get it published.  My career of choice is one I can easily do from home, the only bad thing is, with the economy in its current state doesn’t provide for the client pool that I would need in order to afford working from home.  For some reason, when the economy tanks, people are not spending as much money on Kitchen and Bath Designers, or Interior Designers for that matter.  So now, I am here, blogging away and not at work.

I am sure I am not alone, I am sure there are other working mom’s who find that paying off debt is vital.  I want to be able to afford to give her things she wants, and needs, and not have to scrape the bottom of the barrel, and raid the couch for change, in order to afford diapers and stuff like that.  If I stayed home, that is all I could do, because we would have to sell my car to pay off some of the alleged debt, and avoid insurance gas and maintenance charges.  As much as I want to stay home with her, I think it will be better for her in the long run for me to work another year…and just hope she keeps doing her little milestones at home!

A Work Look

A look I created for Work.

I created this look for work.  As many of you know, I work for a big box retailer, and so I am on my feet most of the day, and need to be comfortable.  This look is versatile also, you can wear it on a weekend outing, nights out, so many things events.  This is my first look that I have created on Polyvore.com, so expect more to come later on down the road.

Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Brownies

Now, to me, the slow cooker has always been for stews of sorts, as that is all my mom ever really cooked in there.  Sometimes chicken to be shredded for enchiladas, but always dinner.  Now that I have been thoroughly addicted to Pinterest, I am noticing a bunch of dessert recipes pop up, and they have one thing in common, the slow cooker.  Dessert?!?!?!?  From a Slow Cooker?!?!?!?!?!  Now who ever came up with this ingenious idea?

by Martha Stewart

The Ingredients:

  • Non-stick Cooking Spray
  • 1-1/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour (Spooned and leveled)
  • 1/4 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 3/4 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Coarse Salt
  • 1/2 Cup (or 1 Stick) Unsalted Butter, cut into pieces
  • 8 Oz Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 3 Large Eggs, Lightly beaten
  • 1 Cup Walnut Halves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Cup Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips (6 oz)

The Directions: 

  1. Lightly coat a 5-quart slow cooker insert with cooking spray.  Line the bottom with parchment paper and lightly coat with spray.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Place butter and chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted, in 30-second increments, stirring after each.
  4. Add sugar, stir to combine.
  5. Stir in eggs.
  6. Add flour mixture, walnuts, and chocolate chips, and stir just until moistened. (Do not over-mix).
  7. Transfer to slow cooker and smooth top.
  8. Cover and cook on low for 3-1/2 hours.  Uncover and cook for 30 minutes.
  9. Remove insert from slow cooker and run a knife around the edge to loosen the brownies.
  10. Let cool completely in insert on a wire rack (about two hours)
  11. Turn onto a work surface, cut and serve.

This recipe is pretty darn simple, and the best part is, you can have it cooking and run errands at the same time.  Perfect for a busy mom-on-the-go!

Enjoy!