Sunday, November 5, 2017

Chicken, Chicken, Chicken, Sausage (Chicken)

If I don't plan, I fail.

I get lazy.

I make bad choices.

After a long chat at the gym the other day, I decided to do a prep day. For me, being home during the day, prepping isn't always necessary.  That will (hopefully) change soon, so I decided it was time.

Prep Day was Wednesday.  Prep Day doesn't have to be a Sunday or a Monday.  It doesn't matter if you decide on a Thursday to turn your eating habits around.  It's okay if you get a stomach ache on mini Halloween candy on Tuesday night - make Wednesday your prep day.

There is absolutely nothing you can do to change poor choices yesterday.  Don't wallow in your failure, move on.  Nothing good comes from self loathing.  Use that energy to cook!  Use it to prepare.  Use it to enjoy the new day.

I *may* have overbought on the chicken, but it's so versatile.

This time, I made it three ways.

First up:  Crock Pot Hot Chicken

I used 5 chicken breasts and covered them in Chohula hot sauce, covered and cooked on High for an hour and then Low for 3 more hours.

Just break one open and make sure it's cooked.

This gets shredded with a couple of forks.

For lunch today, I had this with zucchini..delicious.

HINT:  Because of the hot sauce and chicken, it reminded me of chicken wing dip...minus the cheese and sour cream.  Let your nose tell you what you are eating!

Second:  Balsamic Chicken

Before cooking, cut up your chicken in bite sized chunks.

I used a dutch oven that can go from stove top to oven.  Doing this purely on the stove top, in a covered pan would work just fine.

So easy...add Balsamic Vinegar to your cut up chicken and cook.

I used D'Avolio's Fig Balsamic.  If you are going to eat healthy - pay the extra buck for the good Balsamic.  You will be amazed at how much better it tastes than a basic vinegar from the grocery store.

I also love the white vinegars from D'Avolio's.  Super great on fish.

Third:  Forward Chicken

This is made exactly like the Balsamic Chicken, but I used Forward! Seasoning from Penzey's Spices.  We have a store here in Buffalo, but they also sell online here.

Forward! is salt free and it's got a great flavor.  It looks like a curry, but is mostly peppers.

Again, paired this with zucchini.

Finally:  Chicken (Sausage)

This is hardly a recipe, more of a compilation.  Wegmans carries a great organic Chicken Sausage.  I paired that sausage with spinach and pre-cooked butternut squash.

Let's talk about Wegmans again...they have butternut squash peeled, de-seeded and chopped for you.  It isn't anymore expensive after you pay for the skin, stem and seeds.  Buy the family pack - it goes fast!  I did cut the pieces a bit smaller and drizzled olive oil and some 21 Seasoning Salute (another great salt-free seasoning from Trader Joe's).  Toss and bake in the oven 400 degrees until you like it.  I like it crisp.

When you add the squash in with the spinach and takes on a sweetness that makes you think you are eating less than healthy.

(I just realized I hate the word 'cheat'.  Cheat Meal.  Sounds so depressing.  You aren't cheating.  There are no rules to your nutrition.  You make the rules.  Don't dwell on yesterday.)

Back to my point about the Chicken Wing Dip...let your nose guide your belly.

One quick thing about the zucchini.  I have always cooked my zucchini first.  It was often wet and slimy after a day or two.  These meals that I made, I measured out my chicken and then added raw, chopped zucchini.  When it comes time to heat up the meal, the zucchini retains a bit of crunch, that makes me happy.  Try it.

Tonight, I'll finish the turkey soup and make taco meat.

After that, I'm going to veg and eat meat!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

El Doggo and the Toad

If you haven't guessed yet, I love my dog.

This goldendoodle is the coolest, kindest, most playful dog around (in my humble opinion).  And sometimes, a bit salty.

If she barks, it's usually because she wants to play.  This play is not limited to people.

She enjoys leaves, squirrels, passersby, empty water bottles, our kind neighbor and toads.

She loves a good toad.

We found one yesterday.

I'm not sure how she expects to play with this poor guy.  It was so frightened and perfectly still.  After I got a couple shots, I had to lead her inside by the collar in hopes of not leaving the toad with a lifetime of toad therapy.

This photo represents Millie wholeheartedly.  Drool and all.
The nose drip is fantastic.  She has licked a frog once, I'm guessing she remembered the unpleasantness.  

Friday, November 3, 2017

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. 

A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Simple Food

I'm getting bored with food.

Food is fuel.  With the fat girl inside, I used to eat to feed my disappointments and sadness.  I would talk myself into bad food.  Quick food. 

Food isn't a reward, it is just the gasoline for the car.

It's hard to keep that focus. 

I've been trying to feed my soul with pretty food.  At least this way, I get the pleasure of interesting flavors and textures.

I found a chicken sausage and sliced it up, with a bit of olive oil.  In an attempt to trick my mind, I cut an apple and added the chopped pieces to my sausage and sauteed it just enough to brown the apple, but not get mushy.  My color was a little bland, so tossed in some spinach (I had cooked broccoli as well, but if you weren't making an additional veggie, increase your spinach) and it was perfect.

The apple gives a sweetness to the sausage and it almost seemed like it was a chopped potato.  It's okay to trick your palate into thinking an apple is a white, starchy potato!

Friday, October 20, 2017

{this moment}

No words, just pictures.  Please add your moments in the comments.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Game Changer

Let's talk about power.

Power, as described by Merriam-Webster is the:
(1) ability to act or produce an effect (2) ability to get extra-base hits (3) capacity for being acted upon or undergoing an effect

Number one.  Okay.

Number two.  Odd...but apropos for our current baseball playoff season.

Number three.  Yes.  This is the power I'm thinking of.

The capacity for being acted upon. 

The first and third definitions are almost at odds with each other.  One holds the power and the other succumbs to the power.

As women, I think we flip flop between these two definitions.  We have the power one day and we succumb to other forces of power the next.  I am forever hopping between the two, daily, if not hourly.

My mind moves to Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump and the power they believe that they hold.  We can't allow bullies to have power upon us.  It is scary how those that feel they are powerful can make others feel powerless.  This is not okay.

If you've read past posts, especially Rain, Coffee and Tissues, you'll know that my path has been questioned recently.   And I'm okay with that.  It's good to be rattled every once in a while.  It's okay to be confused.  It's normal to wonder if what you are doing or your path is the right one.

But, it is not okay to let someone else take your power.  No one can decide your fate as an adult.  Don't let the bully get you down.  They may have brawn, but you own the power to control your own fate.

Surround yourself with friends that will lift you up.  Friends that will remind you that your power is your own and no one can take it.  Bullies may try to change the definition to Number Three, but you must own Number One.

~Ability to act.

~Ability to produce an effect.

Remember who you are.  Change the definition.

I'll be right next to you, reminding you of how powerful you are.

...and the game changed.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sign: Shine On

Sometimes, in life, you may feel like nothing can go right.  Only left.  Or downhill.  Sucker punched, twice.  Sometimes these things are small in nature, but when added onto other struggles, that small 'thing' can be enormous.

And sometimes, you trudge through.  It might be ugly and muddy, but you keep trudging, hoping you are going in the right direction.  Still with trepidation, but trudging nonetheless.

Then, the sign hits. 

My sign hit last night.  This sign was just the encouragement I needed to push me forward, I thought I was doing the right thing, and then this song came into my life.

My husband and I were gratefully invited to attend the WBFO's Buffalo Blue's Bash last evening.  Our generous friends welcomed us to their table to enjoy two great Blue's bands.  Freightrain (Robert "Freightrain" Parker) and Dawn Tyler Watson Band.   The talent in both groups was inspiring.  The best music is the music you feel in your gut.  This was that kind of music.

Back to my sign.  You all know I had a rough week (actually one event last week that I couldn't shake) last week.  I like to think I've moved on, but there is always that lingering sliver of roughness that doesn't quite leave.

These words came from Dawn Tyler Watson at a time I needed them:

I want to give you all some real good news
I want you all to keep your head up
Stay positive
Spread the love
This is a Song about perseverance and positivity
If you are going through any crap right now,
I want to tell you, Shine on.
And though the road is dark and long
Our light will conquer
Shine on
Shine on brothers and sisters
Don’t let the darkness get to you
In this world there is pain and suffering
But you must try to see the love in the moment…

And as I connect the words from her mouth to my story, my friend places her hand on my shoulder and the tears begin to pool and stream down.

When others see your sign, you know it's real.  I'm taking control of this week. No bad days.

Shine on!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Rain, Coffee and Tissues

I don't always have good days.  This happens to be a 'bad' one.  I'm getting frustrated with waiting for things.  I had no idea how long the 'hiring' process normally takes.  This is definitely an eye opener for me.

It's a gloomy, rainy day.  I'm thankful for the rain, just wish we could share it with California.

My workout, albeit with great intentions, was not all that great.  I whined.  I complained.  I struggled.  But I went.  I got in the car and went. Running into a friend on the way in was great, lifted me up a touch.  My gal pals that I workout with, well, not sure I'd want to know life without them.  If you are reading this and need inspiration, come work out with these women.  Insanely inspiring.  Each and every one of us has (at least) one physical injury that we power through no matter what.  If you don't think you can lift something, they will be there talking you through your mental defiance.

Upon coming home.  I screamed.  I cried.  I made some phone calls.  I got an interview.  I watched a little TV while waiting on hold for 18 minutes only for the operator to say 'all operators are busy, please call back later'.  Just what a girl down wants to hear!

Shower with Milk and Honey Epsom salt on the floor of the shower (amazing...Sara), some music (favorite one of the day here) and this coffee.

My dear friend makes me coffee like this at her house.  It's amazing.  You can get this little brew cup here on   My grounds are a Mocha Java from our new Whole Foods.

Cute mug, huh?  I'd be happy to make one for you.  I'll set them up in my etsy shop here in the next couple days, but let me know if you'd be interested.  They have been go-to office and teacher gifts.  Dishwasher safe!

My day is looking better already.  Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 9, 2017


Love this quote.  I needed it this weekend.  Was able to make it pretty on my Silhouette Cameo. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Plantain Vs. Banana

I've always wanted to try plantains.  They look so sad sitting there in the market with very little interest.  What the heck can you do with a plantain?  The banana tastes better and plantains are bland - almost bitter.  Banana is softer and sweeter.  A ripe banana is great for baking, smoothies, and freezing for later.  But the plantain?  Boring.

In true Carrie fashion: Challenge accepted.  The plantain was purchased and the research began.  Three days later the plantain remained on the counter.  It was starting to get a grayish hue to it.  Suck it up, Carrie, make something.  

There are plenty of recipes for fried plantains, but I'm avoiding loads of fry oil and butter.  I found this recipe for fried plantains.  The french fry shape made me think that I could bake the plantain.

I cut the plantain in half, then half again.  The peel is quite hefty, so get in there with your knife and cut the fry pieces, then get your finger between the plantain and the peel.  I was amazed how strong the plantain is.  

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place plantain on paper.  Drizzle olive oil over plantains.  I added quite a bit of cinnamon, perhaps 2 tablespoons, and a twist of Himalayan pink salt.  Toss.

Bake at 375 for 10 minutes, flip plantains, bake another 10 minutes or until they appear crispy and browned.

Once out of the oven, let sit for 8-10 minutes.

They tasted a little dry, but dipped in applesauce...amazeballs.  

What I found so great about the plantain, it is a hearty fruit that kept me feeling full for a good hour after eating it as a snack.  Little Man tried one and thought it was good enough to nod his head 'yes'.  That's the key word for,  "I'd eat this again".

Next time, I'm going to try the avocado dip in the above recipe with Greek yogurt.



  • Plantains are high in fiber content. This makes you feel full for longer period of time, reducing frequent cravings for food. Thereby, in the long run, it can help with weight loss.
  • Plantains are extremely rich  Potassium and Magnesium.
  • Plantains are rich in vitamins, specifically Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin B-6.
  • Even though plantains are rich in starch, they are comparatively very low on the glycemic index scale. Consumption of plantains helps diabetic patients.
  • Plantain prevents gastrointestinal infectious diseases.
  • Plantain chips (with less salt or no salt) have more nutrients than the fresh ones!
  • Plantain takes longer to digest, keeps you full, which benefits diabetic patients and, also for weight loss.

Friday, October 6, 2017

{this moment}

No words, just my favorite photo from the week.  Leave your moment in the comments.  💜💛

Thursday, October 5, 2017

RECIPE: Spaghetti Squash Flat Bread Pizza (Gluten Free)

This is a keeper.

Cauliflower crust seems to be all the rage these days.  Personally, I find it bland and boring.  I'd rather go without.

But...Mr. Spaghetti Squash...he's a good egg.

This isn't a super fast recipe, but it has minimal ingredients, which I appreciate.

If you are super pressed for time, go to your local market and head to the salad bar.  I grabbed a small container and filled with a few things for my flatbread/pizza.  Yes, you can call this pizza and you can eat the whole thing.

This flat bread would work great with a rolled sandwich or dipped in some pasta sauce.  I like to overcook mine so that it gets crispy.

I'm currently eating clean, so I went super veggie on this with a teaspoon of grated Parmesan - mostly for the photo, I normally leave it off totally.  But if you want a pizza, sauce and cheese it up!

Cooking the Squash:
Slice your spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and stringy goop.
Place face down in half inch of water in a baking dish.  Roast in oven at 375 for 30 minutes or so.  I don't set a timer, when I smell it and there are a few brown spots on the skin, it's done.

Draining Squash
Take your fork and scrape out the squash into a bowl.  I often let this rest for an hour or even stick it in the fridge for a day or two.  Squeezing the water out of a hot squash is painful.

When you are ready, put a cheesecloth or dish towel on the counter and place your squash in the center.  Roll the sides over and start twisting the water out of the squash over your sink.  You may have to open up the towel and adjust the squash and repeat.  It always amazes me how much water is in there!

Squash after Draining
Making the Flatbread:
Drained spaghetti squash
2 eggs (if choosing to add cheese to your crust, omit one egg)
Italian seasonings, to taste
Onion powder, to taste

Mix it up with your hands.  It will be the consistency of a thick brownie batter.  Spread mixture on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  You will spread this like you are putting lotion on.  Or like a queen waves her hand in a parade.

Baked flatbread

Bake in 350 oven for approximately 25 minutes. 

Keep an eye on this, it all depends on how much water you got out of the squash. 

When you see it curl a bit on the edges and have some crusty spots, flip it over and put back in the oven for 10 minutes. 

Top with your favorite toppings and put back in the oven for another 7-10 minutes, or till toppings are melted, warmed, crispy...

Please let me know if you try this and how it worked out for you in the comments below. This won't hold up like a Buffalo pizza crust - so get that though out of your head right now.