I’m Really Here! And I’ve Made Buffalo Chicken Wings!

Wow, I haven’t posted since JanuaryUnbelievable! But I have a few good reasons…

We finally moved. In February. We are back in town, not too far from where my fiance works and my children go to school. It has been an amazing transition and a wonderful release of stress. My kids have been doing a lot better with school since we moved, and things seem to have calmed down for me, as far as being an emotional basket-case. I’ve had more time to do other things recently, like go back to school. I will have my degree in a year – finally!

So with this extra time, you would think that I would be able to come up with new recipes and post them, right? Well, that hasn’t exactly happened, if you can’t tell. I’ve been insanely busy with work, and school has taken some time (obviously). But I have had some time to try some new recipes and experiment a little bit. I haven’t really been too focused on experimenting in the kitchen lately; my job and schooling has had to take priority over that lately.

The chicken wing recipe that I have found is really easy. The first time I made it, my family killed the entire pan of chicken wings in about thirty minutes, and I have been getting the industrial-sized packs of chicken wings from Sam’s Club. I haven’t been using the small chicken wings, either. I’ve been getting the big Tyson packs of chicken wings. I have thought about using the smaller chicken wings, but the family really likes the crunchiness of the skin on the bigger chicken wings after I cook them, and I really do, too. Yesterday I made two batches: one that was more crunchy than the other. The crunchier skin won out during the taste test.

I found the sauce at Wal-Mart, which was great since we now have a Wal-Mart about two blocks away from us. Frank’s Redhot Buffalo Sauce is awesome! I was a little concerned about it at first, because it has butter flavoring in it, and I try really hard to stay away from artificial flavorings. But we needed a change in this house because we were eating the same foods over and over again! So we decided to give it a shot and see what happened. And the result was great!

So here is the recipe for the Buffalo Chicken Wings:

1 package of chicken wings (if you use the smaller wings, follow the cooking directions on the bottle of Frank’s)

1 bottle of Frank’s Redhot Buffalo Sauce

1 Ziploc bag to toss the wings

Preheat oven to 425. Place the chicken wings in the Ziploc bag and pour sauce liberally over them. Close the bag and toss the wings to coat with the sauce. Put the sauce-coated wings on a baking sheet and bake for 50 minutes. When there are about 15 minutes left of the cooking time, take the wings out and apply another coat of sauce to them. Place them back in the oven to finish cooking.

Enjoy!

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Fried Tilapia – Skip The W(h)ine If You Want To!

I am in pain. A lot of pain. I have been going to the gym now two or three times a week since my last post, doing my running app and lifting weights. Coming home and doing my squats so that I can have a nice looking backside for the first time in my life. Thursday night it snowed, so I ramped up my running workout and cut the weights out so that I could get home before the roads got too bad. Yesterday I decided to pull out the stops on my workout to make up for it. I also switched from running on the treadmill to running on the elliptical because my ankles were complaining about Thursday’s workout. That elliptical is no joke. I’ve used one before because I prefer not having the high impact on my poor weak ankles, but I’d forgotten just how serious of a workout it was. I was sweating through the very same Couch to 5K workout that I had done on Thursday on the treadmill without breaking a sweat. And it was nice. I may have to continue to use those ellipticals.

So back to the pain. I’m just sore – I haven’t overdone it or pulled anything yet. Although when my ankle started complaining on Friday I got concerned. I haven’t felt my poor ankles complain like that since junior high! But I will tell you – getting back in shape takes commitment because I have been nothing but sore and tired for two weeks now. I’m not complaining, because I have been enjoying the workouts. When I get off work, I swear that I am not going to go to the gym because I am so tired, but by the time I get there I am psyched to start my workout. And I feel like a million bucks when I am done. It has been great to go to the gym and work out all of the stress that I have accumulated. Hopefully I am a much more pleasant person to be around because of it. You’d have to ask everyone else, because I am around myself all the time, and I wouldn’t know.

Another thing that this has allowed me to do is take a look at my priorities. Actually I am not sure that is how I would word it. It may be more like growing a backbone. Any way you word it, I have been trying to identify pieces of my life that I am not happy with and trying to figure out how to change it or make it better. Simplifying. Talking to the people involved and figuring out how to change things. I am not a big talker. I tend to wait until I am about to lose my mind before I say anything. When you are tired and sore, you tend to lose your mind quicker, so talking becomes a priority. People tend to react negatively when you lose your mind.

You must be looking at the title of this post and thinking,”Okay, she has really lost it. Fried stuff? Yeah, that’s what I thought at first, too. I have been fixing tilapia the same way for a long time, and it has gotten really, really old. To the point that I would refuse to fix it. So my wonderful fiancé recommended getting some almond meal and using it on the fish to fry it or bake it. Well, if I am going to use almond meal, I want to fry it. Fried fish is just awesome. Fried anything is awesome! (Can you tell that the workouts are making me extremely hungry as well?) I have been a huge fan of the Whole 30 program, and they recommend not Paleo-fying unhealthy recipes because it could cause bad habits. I am definitely not going to start posting Paleo brownies or cookies because I really do think that would be unfair to my brain, but the fried fish was a much needed, very awesome change. And the clean-up was amazing, too! Almond meal doesn’t get all gummy and nasty in the pan like flour does when you fry it, so the clean-up was not a nightmare like I expected it to be.

I haven’t hit on a spice mixture that I like yet, in amounts that I like. I tend to like my food on the spicy side – I like to taste the flavors – so I am still working on that. In my first batch of fish I used garlic powder, salt, pepper, onion powder, paprika, and red pepper flakes. In fact, this is the recipe that I used for my first batch. I will work on tweaking the amounts or using different spices to suit my tastes, but this recipe was a much welcome change from the way that I have normally been cooking tilapia. I also used coconut oil instead of olive oil because I heard that it works better at higher temperatures, and I hate the smell of olive oil when it gets hot.

Hope you enjoy it! And thanks to Cavemom Chronicles for the inspiration. And to my fiancé, of course!

A New Year – And Remastered Chili

Well, I’m already slacking. I usually get in a year-end reflection before the new year begins, but I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Seriously, I plan on kicking 2013’s butt so I guess I was trying to get a head start. Hopefully this post will make up for it.

I’m not big on resolutions, but I feel like this is the year to make some commitments. After all, I am seriously beginning to connect with the knowledge that I am going to continue to be in bad shape if I don’t exercise, Paleo or not. Plus with what I do at my day job and my side business, I seriously need an outlet of some sort. That was made perfectly clear in 2012.

The reason why I do not like making resolutions is because I do not enjoy feeling like a failure. If I resolve to do something, and then it doesn’t happen, what progress have I really made? If I feel like a failure, how much harder is it going to be to try again later?

So I am just going to say that I am going to try to give CrossFit another shot. A do-over. And I have a buddy to do it with, so that may help me be more successful and not feel so intimidated by the big gym with all the strong people. Maybe I will stick with it for more than a week. Maybe I will hang for two this time! That was a joke – I’d really like to stick with it longer than that. I really want to chronicle the journey as well, and see where my mindset has gone.

On another note, I received my end-of-year summary from WordPress, and it seems that you people really like recipes. In fact, I would almost dare to say that one of the only reasons you visit me is for my food. I was holding out hope that it was for my incredible writing skills or my unbelievable wit, but I’m starting to take the hint. So I will give you what you want. At least today. You know how inconsistent I am when it comes to this blog.

You may remember a few weeks ago when I said that I was retooling the Best Chili Ever recipe, trying to find a way to make the chili without so many tomatoes. When I said that, the chili was actually cooking, and I did not feel right about posting a recipe before I knew what it tasted like.

It was Awesome! So here it is:

The Best Chili Ever: Remastered

2 pounds ground beef
1pound ground pork (or bulk Italian sausage for more flavor)
1.5 pounds stew beef
1 large onion, minced
1 can diced tomatoes and green chilis
2 poblano peppers, minced
4 Anaheim peppers, minced
1 small can Herdez salsa verde
2 cups beef broth
4 cloves garlic, minced
3tbsp ground cumin
3 – 4 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp oregano

Brown the stew meat in a couple of tsp of coconut oil on very high heat. Remove the meat from the pan and put the diced onion into the pan, and cook until opaque. Add the beef broth and let cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the ground beef and pork (or sausage) and cook until the meat is browned. Place all of the meat (including the stew meat), spices, peppers, salsa verde, garlic, and tomatoes and chilies, into a pot and simmer over medium-low heat for no less than three hours. The longer it simmers, the better it tastes!

Paleo Shepards Pie

It has been amazing how much things have changed just in the past month. I am taking a much-needed break from business planning to pursue other interests that I have been neglecting in the process. One of those interests is this blog. I am also trying to be more consistent with my CrossFit workouts. And I have started taking classes in Gracie Jiu Jitsu with my fiance.

Listen to me! I talk a great game, but I promise you – the last CrossFit workout that I did was last weekend, and I was so sore ALL WEEK that I could barely walk. I was lucky to be able to get through my Jiu Jitsu class last night! Actually, it feels great to be active and not sitting on my butt so much. I guess that needs to be the next step in my journey. After a year of cooking and eating Paleo, I am very comfortable with it – even under stress. Getting myself off of the couch is the logical next step.

One thing that I am nervous about is overdoing it. It seems that every time that I start a new exercise program I overdo it and get sick. I did my CrossFit workout last weekend and was super tired and sore all week. I was okay through the week, trying to take it easy so that I could recover. It wasn’t until the end of  the week that I felt like I might be getting sick. In fact, this morning I feel it even more, and I had a Jiu Jitsu class last night. I guess I should just make sure that I get some rest this weekend.

On another note, I developed a Paleo modification of one of my favorite comfort foods: Shepards Pie. And boy, is it good! The only problem that I have had recently with it is getting the ratio of filling to mashed cauliflower correct. I’ve only made it twice so far and I haven’t quite gotten it right either time. But it is so good that I can’t keep from sharing it any more!

Paleo Shepards Pie

1 lb ground beef

One head cauliflower

butter or other oil (for mashed cauliflower)

1 yellow onion, diced

1 bell pepper, any color you want

1 yellow squash, diced

1/2 c mushrooms, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp oregano

salt & pepper to taste

3 bunches of fresh basil (I use the basil in the tube, about a quarter to a half of the tube)

Preheat the oven to 350.

First, chop up the cauliflower and steam it. You don’t want to steam the cauliflower for too long because if it is too wet it will not cover the pie effectively. Keep it firm but not too firm.

Next, cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat. When it is almost browned, add the garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano. When it is completely browned, add the vegetables and the basil and cook until the vegetables are tender. While the vegetables are cooking, mash the cauliflower.

After the vegetables are done cooking, pour the meat and vegetables into a pie plate and spread the mashed cauliflower evenly on top. Place in the oven for 20 minutes. Take it out and enjoy!

Chicken with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Wow, it has been a while! But then again, I told you that it would be. I have been busy trying to get my side business off the ground – so busy, in fact, that I am taking a little break from it to try to clear my head. It has been very great and very rewarding so far!

Luckily, throughout all the craziness, my Paleo lifestyle has remained intact. I always say that this is the easiest “diet” to stick to! It does have its moments, though. I went to my conference last month and did pretty well, except for lunch. I made the best choices that I could – the best choice probably would have been to bring something to have, but I decided not to go that far. It affected me a little bit, and before I was even over the effects of that, I made a couple of really poor choices at Red Robin when I was there for my teenager’s cast party for their production of Romeo and Juliet. I have just in the last 12 hours gotten over that, and that was two weeks ago! I should really know better – I have been an emotional wreck for these last three weeks (when you count the aftermath of the conference). I seriously think that if I ever stopped eating Paleo, the people around me would have something to say about it, simply because I am so crazy when I make the wrong choices.

My teenager seems to agree with me on that front. While she was doing the play, she had a hard time staying Paleo. She told me that she couldn’t wait until the play was over so that she could start eating better. She said that she felt less stressed and less emotional when she was eating Paleo, and she always seemed to be happy. Who would have thought that bread and grains, which are said to release serotonin when you eat them, could have such a negative effect on your mood?

She turned her grandparents on to Paleo when she stayed with them over the summer, and her grandmother went to Costco and bought me a huge supply of extra virgin, organic coconut oil. It has definitely been a change from the cheap stuff that I have been getting because it has a more coconut-y  aroma and flavor. It has taken some getting used to, but it is heavenly. I may have to get a membership to Costco to get some more, because I haven’t seen anything like that at Sam’s.

One of the reasons why I bring up the coconut oil is because it is a key element of this recipe. If you are using the cheap stuff, then you have nothing to worry about. Usually mushroom cream sauce is made with butter and heavy cream, and I have made it many, many times. My fiance loves the stuff. I thought I was out of luck until a lightbulb went off in my head this past week and I realized that I could use coconut oil and coconut milk. However, since I am using really good coconut oil, the mushroom cream sauce comes out tasting a little coconut-y. Not a problem for me, the coconut freak. But some people may be turned off by it. So keep that in mind.

Another thing to keep in mind: I do not know how long to tell you to cook the sauce. When cooking it, the oil and milk will start to meld, and then it will condense and get a little thicker. Beyond that point, the oil and the milk begin to separate again and it actually starts to look quite nasty. I have kind of figured out where that line is, but I can’t give you a set amount of time before that happens. I had to learn about that as I went.

Chicken with Mushroom Cream Sauce

4 or 6 chicken breasts

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

1/2 cup coconut milk

 

Melt the coconut oil over medium heat and then cook the chicken breasts in the oil until they are tender and there is no longer any pink. Make sure you turn them occasionally so that they will brown on both sides.

When the chicken is done cooking, take them out of the pan and add the mushrooms to the remaining oil. Cook and stir them for a few minutes (the longer you cook them, the more mushroom flavor your sauce will have). After the mushrooms are soft, stir in the coconut milk and boil, stirring to mix the brown bits off of the bottom of the skillet. Boil for about three minutes, until thickened. Spoon (or pour!) the sauce and mushrooms over the chicken and enjoy!

Country Style Pork Ribs with Sugar Free Barbecue Rub

I have to admit: I love barbecue. It is something that I have sorely missed since going Paleo. I am in the process of finding a good barbecue sauce recipe for my teenager because she simply adores barbecue sauce. I had my fiance take me to get barbecue over the weekend because he knew of a restaurant that served barbecue without the sauce all over it, and I was really craving barbecue. Pretty much any sauce out there has sugar in it, which makes it off limits for me.

I found this recipe for a sugar free barbecue rub and decided to try it. I found that the rub has way too much salt! I used to use Emeril’s rib rub and used it very liberally on ribs. So the first time I used the barbecue rub I used it just as liberally as I always used the Emeril’s. I almost ruined the chicken that I tried the rub on.

So I decided to modify the recipe for the ribs, because if there is one thing I don’t want, it is ruined ribs. I had used about half of the rub that I had made, and I added the ingredients for another batch, minus the salt. The results were so phenomenal that I decided to share it with everyone.

Country Style Pork Ribs with Barbecue Rub

The rub:

4 tbsp smoked paprika

2 tbsp black pepper

2 tbsp garlic powder

2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp celery seed

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp salt

Coat the pork ribs in olive oil and apply the barbecue rub liberally over the ribs. Let the ribs sit in the rub with the oil in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, put the ribs in a metal baking dish, and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for two hours – and then enjoy!

Changing It Up

Okay, squats are NO JOKE! Especially when you realize that you have been doing them wrong ALL YOUR LIFE.

Thank goodness for CrossFit Winston Salem. I have already gleaned quite a bit of information from their website, including the CrossFit Journal, which has a training guide which includes… The Squat Clinic. I can already tell that this handy gem is going to be invaluable to me as I work on strength, technique, and form on my squats. Because I have none. Definitely no strength. My technique and form? What are those?

So tonight I did my first EPLifeFit workout since whenever I did the last one that I did. I can tell that my form has improved somewhat, just from what I learned from the EPLifeFit site. The information that I got from the training guide was priceless. I actually felt for the first time that I would be able to work up to a squat the correct way. And when my workout was done, I was jelly. My legs, my abs, and my arms were straight jelly. It kind of reminded me of how I felt after my first CrossFit workout. And it was great.

So I went shopping today and got food for the week. I was going to make the pork chili, but I am so scared that I am still burnt out on it. Plus the Wal-Mart that I live near now sucks! They didn’t have any poblano peppers. So I modified that recipe, but I can’t tell you about it until I know whether it came out well or not. I used the ingredients that I ended up getting for the chili that I didn’t make to put together a meatloaf – Southwest style:

2 lbs. ground beef
1 egg
1 yellow onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
2 (4 oz.) cans green chilis
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

So you put all of the ingredients in a bowl, mix it up, and form it into a loaf in a baking dish. Then y bake it at 375 degrees for an hour. Serve it with guacamole and cilantro!