So… I’m back. I got stranded by the Polar Vortex a couple times which was quite the adventure but I’m here now! I thought it would be fun to chronicle the past few weeks in pictures!
2. Playoff game. Really don’t want to discuss it but had a great time with my friends 3. Las Vegas. Enough said. 4. Visit to Chicago. Good food, a touch of nostalgia, and the coldest temperatures I have ever felt in my life.
Still planning the wedding… More on that later!
After the second or third week out of town, Jeff and I were craving a good home cooked meal. When we finally made it back to Kansas City, we vowed to buckle down and get back to eating clean. Below, I have included four of my go to meals. These are the meals I whip up when I’m not really interested in cleaning a bunch of dishes or standing behind to stove for an hour. Jeff loves them, they are low carb, and easily adaptable to whatever you have in your pantry/ fridge.
Oven Roasted Fajitas
I love fajitas. I have come a long way, I used to load them up with cheese and avoid the veggies at all costs. Things have changed a little and I appreciate the sweet sautéed onions, slightly charred bell peppers, and crisp lettuce that accompanies the steak and cheese. Fajitas can be hard to find out here in Kansas City though. To avoid withdrawal, I found a way to create my own version at home. All you do is marinate the meat and throw it in the oven. If I feel like being fancy, I sear it in my cast iron skillet but this is rare. We are talking about quick and easy meals right? I buy my skirt steak from Costco and freeze it in individual servings. This is just what works best for Jeff and I; skirt steak is usually a decent price so this step isn’t necessary.
My preferred marinade is:
2 tablespoons of olive oil (or canola oil)
1 tablespoon of dark chili powder
1 teaspoon of each: salt, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and cumin
I also like to add a dash of sugar and squeeze a little lime over the meat. If a lime is unavailable, use a capful of distilled vinegar. This acts as a tenderizer. Pour this on top of the meat in a glass baking dish and bake for about 26 minutes at 400 degrees (for well done). If you like your meat a little more rare, decrease the cooking time.
I prefer to cook my veggies and meat separate. This is a personal preference and you are welcome to combine them all in the same dish but I do this for two reasons. 1. I use the sautéed veggies in several different recipes so I cook up a bunch and throw them in the fridge. 2. The onions will finish cooking way before the meat and bell peppers and eventually disintegrate. We cook our peppers and onions on the stove while our meat cooks in the oven. Once the meat is cooked, we slice it up and throw it in the skillet with the veggies. Two pans and minimal time spent in the kitchen. In efforts to eat “clean” we served our steak and veggies over brown rice with a little shredded lettuce, cheese, and homemade salsa. Traditional fajitas were the inspiration but the calories can add up quickly. Most flour tortillas pack well over 100 calories each. This way, you can indulge with out any feelings of guilt!
Baked BBQ Chicken Wings
This is more of Jeff’s passion. I will never forget the time Jeff and one of his college roommates put away almost 60 wings by themselves– I was stunned.
Now, Jeff doesn’t indulge like that and opts for the baked version instead of the breaded and fried wings typically offered at restaurants. This recipe comes from one of my Kansas City friends. She brought them over for our watching party one Sunday and I was immediately obsessed. Being a good fiancé, I got the recipe from her and just knew Jeff would love them. Frying wings is such a process whereas baking wings is ridiculously easy. You can use buffalo sauce, barbecue sauce, or even an asian chili sauce and I guarantee they will turn out great. Serve these with a salad or some roasted veggies and you are set.
First, wash and pat the wings dry. Next, you will need to season them with olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, salt, and any general poultry seasoning of your choice. Spray a glass baking dish with cooking spray and broil the wings on high for 10 minutes each side. If you choose to add a sauce, do so after broiling the wings and place them back in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour. Turn them often and baste again if necessary.
Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce
I can’t really take credit for this one. Yes, it’s a go to—but no I don’t make it from scratch. I am yet to perfect marinara sauce, so until then, I doctor up an jar of preservative free, natural flavor only tomato sauce. This is important in this case because canned tomatoes can be laden with unnatural and unnecessary ingredients. My current favorite is the Roasted Garlic Marinara from Trader Joes. I like to add diced onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, and a ¼ C of tomato paste to mine. Oh, and don’t forget a tablespoon of sugar to counter the acidity of the tomato paste. These simple additions will boost the flavor of the sauce and make it taste homemade. I add ground beef or ground turkey and ladle it over roasted spaghetti squash. I know I have posted a similar recipe with meatballs but this one is easier and can be done in half an hour.
Once again, my parents are somewhere laughing at me. While growing up, I wouldn’t eat a pepper if my life depended on it and I used to run my canned sloppy joe mix through the blender until my senior year in college (to avoid the veggies). My how things change… One day, I took a look at the ingredient list on the Manwich Sloppy Joe Mix and noticed high fructose corn syrup was the second ingredient listed. In efforts to eliminate unnecessary additives and sugar, I set out to make my own. I relied on Pinterest recipes and eventually ended up at one my dad sent me a year or so ago.
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Sloppy-Joes-II/Detail.aspx?src=etaf This is the link to the one he sent me. I was apprehensive about the mustard but you really can’t taste it. I added a dash of Worcestershire sauce because I love the flavor. It might not have made a difference but I thought I would give it a try.
I hope that gives you some ideas. I’m going to go eat some leftover spaghetti squash and look for the perfect wedding cake!
Wish me luck,