Eggplant Pizza

Today is Day 8 of my clean eating challenge. I am down 3.6lbs, I can go 30 minutes on my exercise bike at resistance number 3, I am lifting 10lb weights, and I still want to eat everything in sight.

Seriously. I am so freaking hungry like 75% of the time. Not for anything good though, so I guess its not hunger, just cravings. I want pasta, and bread, and anything with gluten and carbs and sugar. But I am standing strong as of now.

We have been pretty busy for the past few days. I took the girls shopping for summer clothes, we did a work out at the park one morning, we did the grocery shopping, etc. etc. This weekend was extra fun because Wonderful Husband got to come home and we took the girls to a spring carnival at the school they will be attending when they are older.

The school is very small, only about 10 rooms total. Their cafeteria is also their gymnasium and auditorium. It was nice to see where the girls will go and meet some of the people and teachers they will be around. We didn’t stay long but Little Darling won some tokens for prizes and got a lollipop. She was happy. Afterwards we ran a few errands and came home so the kids could nap.

Sunday was an awesome day! We went to church in the morning, and then in the afternoon- My dad and I got matching tattoos!

The tattoo parlor that we always go to was having a fundraiser for a local music program called Popshop, they were doing walk in tattoos and the proceeds went to the program. They had about 25 different designs to choose from, all music themed. We went down, there wasn’t any wait, and we got a music note with a heart. It was so fun! Afterwards, we let the girls nap at his house and then we went to the Chinese buffet where I got to try sushi. I actually liked it (despite being terrified of it for years) and ate 4 pieces!

Today we had some catching up to do since we were away most of the weekend. I still had to get the car inspected since we had transferred the registration to West Virginia, we had laundry and dishes and general tidying. Not to mention, there was a smoke alarm in the living room that has been chirping since Friday night.

Took the car in first thing, only took about 30 minutes and $15 for an inspection- score! We came home and pulled in the garage, as I was getting the girls out of the car I noticed it. The BIGGEST spider I have ever seen. Literally, the size of my palm. Perched on the wall by my car door. You can imagine the scene I caused. When I went back later to try and capture and relocate, he ran away. Another sweaty scene of me screaming like a small child. Now it’s somewhere in the garage, hiding, waiting for its revenge I’m sure. And probably breeding. Yuck.

After the spider incident, it was time for the smoke alarm. I got the ladder out, carried it upstairs, set it up, climbed 12 ft in the air (the only time I have hated our vaulted ceilings) and popped the battery out. Climbed down, folded up the ladder, and heard a chirp. What.

After an investigation, I realized it was actually the carbon monoxide detector that was chirping. You know, the one the is plugged into the wall, a foot off the ground. So I climbed back up the ladder, plugged the battery back in the smoke alarm, took the ladder down, carried it to the basement, put it away, and came back upstairs.

Chirp.

You’ve got to be kidding. Both batteries were going in both devices and I hadn’t noticed. Repeat ladder getting, battery popping, cursing. Hopefully the great room doesn’t catch on fire or fill up with poison gas, because we won’t know.

By that time I was exhausted and didn’t even want to think about dinner. Little Darling was begging for pizza all day, so I decided to indulge her. I made eggplant pizzas. They weren’t too bad, pretty similar to zucchini pizzas. Definitely not the same as gooey, delicious, bad-for-you pizza, but pretty ok. And even more than ok when you are on a calorie restricted, clean diet and are craving something cheesy and delicious.

I sliced my eggplant pretty early this morning, around 10am and let it sit, salted, on paper towels all day to try and combat the mushiness I often get when I make zucchini pizzas.

Enjoy!

Eggplant Pizza

1 Eggplant
Pizza Sauce
Mozzarella
Cheddar

  1. Slice your eggplant into 1/2in slices, sprinkle with salt and set on a paper towel for at least 20 minutes. Blot with paper towels to remove excess water.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with oil, lay your eggplant in a single layer and spray the tops with oil.
  3. Bake 20 minutes.
  4. Spoon sauce onto the tops of the eggplant and top with Mozzarella and cheddar (we also did a few with pepperoni)
  5. Bake another 10-15 minutes until cheese is melty.

Enjoy! If I did my calorie counting correctly, you get 4 slices for about 250 calories. I am hoping I can stay strong this week and keep on track with my diet. The work outs are getting much easier, and I don’t dread them as much. The cravings are intense at times, but mostly manageable. Wish me luck!

Maple Mustard

Yes.

This recipe tastes as exactly as amazing as you would think it does.

As I am sitting here, scooping it down by the pretzel-full, I got to thinking that I should probably share this with the world. No need to be greedy (more like I want you to make your own because I ain’t sharin’).

It definitely could use some tweaks and improvements, so I am totally open to tips and tricks.

A few weeks ago, MIL and I took the girls on the Maple Taste and Tour. You drive around to all the local Sugar Camps (places where people tap maple trees and make maple syrup), to learn the different processes everyone uses and taste their specialties. It is really fun, and education. Not to mention, free food. Some camps had maple sugar cookies, maple fudge, kielbasa, beer, popcorn, etc. Only one camp had maple mustard.

It was AMAZING. We bought a jar and had it almost gone within just a few days. Now sugar season is over, and I am in a different state with no hope of buying more. But, I NEED IT. So I had to try and make my own. They made theirs with vinegar, egg yolks, dry mustard, and maple syrup (it was on the label) . I didn’t have access to dry mustard and FIL is constantly preaching about the dangers of raw eggs in food so I decided to play with it and this is what I came up with.

It does not disappoint.

Maple Mustard

2tbsp Spicy Brown Mustard
2tbsp Yellow Mustard
4tbsp Maple syrup
1/4 cup Sour Cream

Whisk together.

Devour like a starving African orphan.

It’s still pretty runny, so I need to find a way to thicken it up without detracting from the flavor which is on point. You can obviously add or subtract any amounts you want. Sometimes the spicy mustard gets a little overpowering and I have to add in a little extra syrup, most of the time I just dump the ingredients in without measuring and taste test until I get it how I like it.

Not only do I dip my pretzels in it, but I also recently used it as a marinade for chicken breasts and they were delicious! I added some garlic and salt/pepper to that recipe. It is so versatile and yummy! Not to mention super easy and keeps in the fridge for quite a while (not that I would know because I eat it all immediately)

I am already thinking that this will probably be in my Christmas baskets this year if I can figure out how to preserve it so it doesn’t need refrigerated.

So, go whip yourself up a batch, grab your closest dippable object, and enjoy!

Well, that didn’t go as planned..

Today has been EXHAUSTING.

Like for real.

Lets take a walk through my day…

We got up, we had breakfast, we got dressed in clothing that doesn’t contain the words “pjs”, “sweat”, or “yoga” (ok, confession, I was wearing leggings. But they were LulaRoe and a fun springy blue flower pattern, so they are basically real pants OK!?). We put a movie on TV and played on the floor. It was a soggy, grey morning, but who cares, we were having fun. It was gonna be a good day.

My phone had been dead when I woke up, which was weird, because it had like 25% when I went to bed, so it should have been fine. Maybe I had a billion notifications on Facebook (or a certain blog that had been recently updated) and it had killed my phone. I plugged it in and went about my day.

Yea. My phone was dead because Wonderful Husband had been trying to get a hold of me for about three hours regarding the DMV, transferring our registrations to WV, and Uhaul receipts we needed to turn in to his employer to get reimbursement.

Whoops.

Soooo, by the time my phone turned on and one of his 6,000 phone calls came through, you can imagine what I heard on the other end of that line.

What ensued, can only be described as complete an utter chaos, or also commonly referred to as a normal day in a house with two under 3.

As I was trying to simultaneously call the bank with our car loan, make a bottle for Little Littles, and explain to Little Darling that I was, in fact, NOT on the phone with daddy, some random old guy shows up at my front door.

Thankfully, old dude was looking for a different house. Easy peasy. Nope, wrong house, k bye.

The bank is drolling on and on about how if the DMV has faxed the paperwork and they haven’t received it there is nothing they can do. Perhaps I could personally fax a request on DMV letterhead, and then wait 2 hours and call back with the date, time, number of pages, and fax number from which the fax had come from and perhaps they could track it down. Then they could fax the title to me, and I could hand deliver it to the DMV.

I can smell poop.

I look over and Little Littles, while still wailing for a bottle, is on all fours and poop is leaking out the top of her diaper, centimeters from her shirt, and mere inches from my brand. New. Rug.

So now I get to argue with The Bank about how I am not doing any of the nonsense they are suggesting, they and the DMV need to handle it or my car will just stay registered in PA forever, while I wrestle a screaming baby to floor and try to change a poopy diaper with one hand. All while Little Darling is still circling me saying “I TALK DADDY??”

I finally completely lost my shit, told The Bank to go to Hell, and hung up. Click. I got the bottle warmed up and ready for Little Littles, we are only about 15 minutes behind schedule for LL’s first nap,  and Little Darling announces she has to go potty.

This is my life.

So we run to the potty and spend 3 minutes fiddling around until I, again, lose my cool and shout GET OFF THE POTTY!

Now Little Darling is laying on the floor pouting, Little Littles has her bottle and is happily eating, and Wonderful Husband is blowing up my phone for the Uhaul receipts that I have, yet again, forgotten to send. I can’t imagine how it slipped my mind.

Little Littles drinks her bottle and goes to sleep. I send the Uhaul receipts. I get a load of laundry going, Little Darling gets a snack, and we head to the basement to clean.

Little Darling is playing in the guest room, getting in and out of the bed and fluffing the covers. I am cleaning the litter box, organizing some items in the pantry, and realizing it was much, much too quiet.

I head over to the guest room and Little Darling is sitting dead silent and still in the bed.

She looks at me and says “potty”

I became a raging lunatic. I ripped her out of the bed and saw the huge wet spot where she had indeed peed on our guest bed.

I spanked her. And then for good measure, I spanked her again. I couldn’t even form a sentence I was so angry. I was screaming words like BED and BATHROOM and JESUS CHRIST over and over again.

I grabbed her hand and half dragged her up the stairs to her bathroom. I forced her into the shower, which was too cold and she started crying. I rinsed her off, gave her a towel, slammed her into bed and told her not to move until I came back.

I could hear the wails echoing as I was stripping the bed, starting a new load of laundry, and cursing whoever thought up potty training. I cleaned up pee prints up the steps and down the hallway. I scrubbed the mattress with vinegar and set up a fan to help it dry.

Wonderful Husband calls to tell me I have sent the wrong part of the receipt (with much more colorful language) and requests I take new pictures and send the correct part.

I have had about as much of this day as I can possibly handle.

I finally went to face my child, who was still half sobbing in her bed. I explained that she is definitely old enough to know better than to pee anywhere but the potty and it was totally unacceptable to pee on the bed. However, I know I was a bit harsh in my reaction and I should have handled it better. We hugged it out and I told her that while I was sorry, she still couldn’t watch tv for the rest of the day, and if she pees on another piece of furniture I will beat her until she can’t see straight. She agreed and asked if we could color at the new table. Yea, really scarred for life. Not.

We spent some time coloring and building with blocks. Little Littles woke up and we had a nice lunch. We re-entered the basement and the girls played happily together while I dragged all the gym equipment into the house from the garage and set up the home gym in one of our spare rooms.

Then it was nap time. Glorious afternoon nap time. When both girls nap at the same time and I get two hours of child-free, mommy time. Today, I collapsed in bed and decided I would take a nap and not even feel guilty.

Little Littles had other plans, of course, and only slept for about 40 minutes.

Since she was up, I decided I would start on some dinner plans. Which is how I came up with this delicious Chicken Spinach One Pot Meal. Easy, full of veggies and protein, and just enough pasta to be a comfort food on a crappy day.

Chicken Spinach One Pot Pasta

3 chicken breasts, cut into pieces
Olive Oil
1 Tomato
1 small Zucchini
4 Garlic Cloves
2 Cups pasta- I used Penne
3.5 Cups water
Salt
Pepper
Basil seasoning-  I used Pampered Chef Sweet Basil
3 Cups chopped Spinach
3oz Cream Cheese
1/2 Cup Milk
Parmesan Cheese

1.In a big pot, heat up some olive oil and add the chicken. Cook until the chicken is about done, no visible pink on the outside

2. Add tomatoes, and garlic. Cook until tomatoes start to get tender.

3. Add water, salt, pepper, and seasonings. Bring to a boil.

4. Add the pasta and cook until pasta is tender, most of your water should be about gone.

5. Add milk, cream cheese and zucchini. Stir and bring to a simmer.

6. Add the spinach and stir well. Keep it simmering and add some Parmesan cheese to taste.

There you go. Easy to make, easy to clean up, and super delicious. Little Darling cleaned her plate, and had seconds. Little Littles ate almost a whole portion by herself.

So. Today was a shitty day. I fought with my husband. I flipped out on my kid. But tomorrow is another day, and I intend to make it great!

 

 

Key Lime Cookies

I have spent a lot of time wondering what I should do with the limes my mom brought me. They are cute little things, and incredibly ripe. But, I don’t have a single lime recipe in my kitchen that calls for actual limes, only lime juice, and even those recipes are few and far between.

Enter Pinterest.

Not sure how the average woman ever survived without Pinterest. Still wondering how my mother survives without Pinterest. I am on it at least 10 times a day looking for information and recipes and helpful tips. It is my life saver.

So I found this Key Lime Cookie recipe.

Ingredients
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, plus 2 cups more for rolling
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ¼ cup fresh key lime juice (regular lime juice is ok)
  • 1 tablespoon key lime zest
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter and 1 cup of sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. On low speed, mix in the egg yolk, lime juice, and zest until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients, mixing on low speed just until combined. The dough will be very crumbly. Using your hands, knead the dough gently until it comes together and forms a ball. Roll the dough into 1″ sized balls and place 1″ apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
  3. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack. While the cookies are still warm, roll them in the reserved 2 cups of powdered sugar, and place back on the baking sheet to cool completely. Sift the remaining powdered sugar over the tops of the cookies. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

The only thing that I would change is the baking time. I had mine in for 20 minutes and the bottoms got burnt. And you really don’t have to use your hand to mix the dough together. In fact, it is really advisable that you do not use your hand, otherwise you just end up with a hand full of dough goo and you have to explain to your husband why there is key lime cookie stuck to your wedding band set.. not good.

I am in love with these cookies though! They were really simple and delicious. I must confess I have been eating them for breakfast with my cup of coffee, and in the evening with a cup of tea, and sometimes at lunch time as dessert… they are just really light and refreshing. And the recipe makes a ton! I will definitely be making these in the future. I am thinking lemon, orange…maybe ever coloring the dough somehow to make them pretty?

Oh my god. Green lime cookies.

Dried Bananas

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My mom and I have been having a wonderful time with our dehydrators. I never knew the satisfaction you could get out simply drying food. It is just so wonderful to know that you are preserving food that would otherwise go to waste and you are going to be able to store it and keep it and eat it in the future instead of throwing it away. When you see a good deal you can snatch up a lot and not have to worry about eating it before it goes bad.

Last week my mom ended up at a grocery store that was having a huge produce sale so she brought me bananas, oranges, and limes. I immediately dehydrated all of the bananas.

IMG_1944

They are freaking delicious. My mother and FIL hated them, but I have been snacking on them regularly and really wish I had more bananas to dry!

I am still working my way through all of the apples we have, I load up the dehydrator almost every night before bed and let it run for about 12 hours, then all I do is take the contents out and put them in bags. It is so easy! and this food is good for, like, ever.

I would definitely say a dehydrator is worth the money, although we didn’t have to pay for ours, it was given to us by Wonderful Husbands parents. Even if we had paid for it ourselves it has more than paid for itself already because I use it almost every night and have saved a ton of money on fruits that otherwise would have been in the trash.

What are some of your favorite dried foods?

 

 

Eggplant Parmesan Casserole

I bought an eggplant last week. I am not sure how this keeps happening, because we are supposed to be on a budget and following strict buying and purchasing rules. But random new fruits and veggies and meats keep ending up in my cart and subsequently back at my house.

This time we ended up with an eggplant.

I didn’t have a freaking clue what to do with an eggplant. But here is a fun story.

When I was in kindergarten, we all had to pick our favorite vegetable and do something with it- make a picture? bring it in? the teacher did something? I have no idea what the end game was- all I know is that we had to pick our favorite vegetable and I picked an eggplant, for no other reason that it was purple. The teacher was stunned and even told my mom that she had never had another student pick an eggplant before because most kids don’t even know what it is. I am not real sure that we ever ate eggplant at home? I don’t have any distinct memories of mom cooking eggplant. She hated cooking, so somehow I doubt it. But I knew what it was, and I knew I would like it. A prophecy obviously.

So here I sit, 24 years old, the proud owner of my own eggplant, and no idea what to do with it. Pinterest here I come..

I found this recipe, and followed it pretty exact. It was incredibly easy, and I will definitely make it in the future. And now that I know how yummy eggplant is, I will be branching out to make more eggplant-y things in the future. As long as Aldi stocks them for $1 a piece that is.

Recipe:

2 cups cooked quinoa
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large eggplant cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
a handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 24oz tomato sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated*
½ cup Romano cheese, grated*

What to do:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Grease an 8×8 pan (I would almost go to a 9×13 because 8×8 was a tight fit
Put the eggplant cubes into a bowl of cold water for about 20 min
Drain and dry the eggplant cubes
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet with garlic, onion, and salt
Add the eggplant and saute for ten minutes or so
Add the tomato sauce and simmer for 20-30 min
Combine Quinoa, pepper, eggplant mix, and 1/2 cup parmesan
Transfer into baking dish and top with remaining cheese
Bake 30 minutes
Top with Basil or Oregano, allow to rest 10 minutes

I made this the night before I had a friend over and after it had cooled I just put it into the fridge. The next day I heated it up in the oven while we fed the kids and then we enjoyed it. It was delicious! In the future I would def add way more eggplant. It tasted very similar to a lasagna. I ran out of shredded parmesan so I ended up using some cheddar. It was still good.

Pretty versatile and easy to make!

Enjoy!