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!

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!

 

 

Chicken Fried Rice

I was feeling really hungry last night for dinner. Since I spent most of the week sick and living on hot tea and saltine crackers I was craving something good and delicious from dinner. What I really wanted was for Wonderful Husband to stop at the Chinese place on the way home and bring home several orders of deep fried grease general tso’s with pork fried rice and crab rangoon. Instead, I decided to make chicken fried rice.

Healthier, cheaper, and arguably easier.

Here’s what I used:
Coconut Oil3 Chicken Breasts
1 onion
1 spoon of garlic
1 bag frozen peas
1.5 sweet potatoes (diced)
1/2 cup soy sauce
4 cups cooked rice

Here’s what I did:
I put some coconut oil in my largest frying pan, put the three chicken breasts into a medium sized pan, and the rice into the microwave. I sauteed the chicken with a little bit of butter and salt and pepper. I put the garlic, onion, peas, and sweet potatoes into the large frying pan with the oil and sauteed them, covered, until the potatoes were tender.

When the chicken was done, I cut it up into little chunks and added it to the frying pan with the veggies. When the rice was done I added it as well. When everything was all mixed up, I dumped in the soy sauce.

This turned out dramatically well. We both ate two platefuls. I would actually have liked it to have had more soy sauce, but it was really good as it was.

I will definitely make this again, and it is totally customize-able with whatever you have on hand. A much better alternative to wasting half a pay check on take out!

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!

Crock Pot Cauliflower Soup

Wonderful Husband has been away, so I have been baking and cooking like a crazy woman. Little Darling either hangs out in the kitchen with me, banging spoons and boxes of macaroni on the floor, or she will hang out in the living room playing with her new walker toy, happily cruising across the room and giggling with delight.

Today I decided I wanted to make another batch of jelly for Christmas gifts. I recently bought some adorable little 4 oz jelly jars with the idea that I could put them into the gift baskets that we give out for the holidays. Homemade jelly and a loaf of homemade bread? That is true love right there guys.

I have a ton of juice in my freezer, I swear my FIL brings another container every time he comes for a visit. He is probably inventing reasons to come visit so he can drop off more juice, not that I mind because jelly making is slowly becoming fun as I slowly learn what the hell I am doing. I pulled out grape juice that he had squeezed himself from grapes he had picked himself. I swear, we should all just move to a big farm house, buy a cow and chickens and we will be incredibly self sufficient.

I got my huge stock pot going on the stove so I could sterilize my jars, and started prepping all of my utensils I would use. Then, for some reason, I remembered the cauliflower.

A few weeks ago, I bought a cauliflower at the store. We used to eat a lot of cauliflower before Little Darling was born, but we don’t really use it much anymore because she can’t really eat it. I have used it in pizzas and sauces and roasted it and I think honestly I bought it with intentions of making it into a pizza but sometimes life just gets ahead of you. Wonderful Husband found it the other night and about had a conniption because it was “completely brown”. Lets just say, we have completely different definitions of “completely”, there were a few brown spots on it from being forgotten in the crisper drawer, but that sucker was still way more than edible. However, I knew I would need to use it soon before it really went bad and I had wasted money *gasp*.

No time like the present. So, while my juice was defrosting and getting ready to become yummy jelly, I was busily chopping up a cauliflower and searching for a frugal recipe to turn it into. I didn’t want to do anything fancy, and I needed something that could freeze because WH was about to be away from a while and I didn’t want to think of eating cauliflower every day until it was all gone. I settled on soup.

There were a bunch of recipes for cauliflower soup, I started with this one, but by the time I was done with it, it was definitely a franken-soup. Delicious, but probably not as healthy as the original recipe.

I made it according to the directions, and it smelled bad and it tasted like water except for an overwhelming pepper taste. I added sour cream and cheddar cheese and subbed coconut oil for the olive oil. I added lots of seasonings because it was pretty bland, and I even stirred in a can of cream of chicken soup. I didn’t spoon out the chunks and puree them, I don’t care that much. I mushed the big pieces with a fork and used my hand powered immersion blender to mix it up and less chunky. After messing and mixing and changing and twisting I am pretty happy with the outcome. I will freeze it and pull it out in the next few months to have a yummy easy dinner.

I almost added some of the leftover ham I had, but decided against it since the ham wasn’t very good I didn’t want it to mess up the soup by being chunky and rubbery *gross*. Next time though, more veggies, probably some corn, and definitely a meat either ham or maybe chicken.

Enjoy!

Ham Pot Pie

The first time I ever had ham pot pie was at my in-laws house. We were gathered around the table and my FIL was busily making what everyone was referring to as “pot pie”. I was expecting the traditional pot pies that you see in the super market freezer aisle, flaky crusts on little individual pies filled with chicken and veggies. Having never been a huge fan of anything on chicken pot pies except for that delicious crust I was trying to decide how I would politely refuse eating.

Imagine my surprise when my FIL sat down a huge bubbling pot of ham and noodles. My eyes lit up, and I knew I belonged with this family.

There is a festival every year in Wonderful Husbands home town and there is always a pot pie booth where you can buy both ham pot pie and chicken pot pie, this year it was cold and rainy and wandering around chomping on the deliciousness got me to thinking why I had never tried to make the dish myself. My MIL had given me the recipe at my bridal shower, but I had never had the nerve to try it. It was so delicious, it must be complicated, and I don’t do complicated.

Then, for some reason, I bought a ham at the grocery store. It was there, I was there, suddenly it was in my cart and we were checking out. I have never made a ham, ever. And to be fair, this was an already cooked, pre-sliced, warm up in the oven ham, so it’s not like I was really making this one either, but I needed to find something to do with it. *light bulb* I can make pot pie!!

Here are the ingredients:
2.5 qt ham broth
2.5 cups Ham
Ham Boullion
5 medium potatoes (chopped)
2 cups flour
2 T shortening
2/3 cup cold meat broth (or water)
*if you want to make chicken pot pie, just swap all the ham for chicken

How To:
Cook Ham until done and cut into pieces
Use broth from the meat, along with water to make 2.5 qts of broth. Use boullion if the taste is too weak.
Bring broth and meat to a boil in a 6qt pot
Mix flour and shortening and then add cold broth, dough will be the texture of pie dough.
Roll dough out on floured surface, make it very thin.
Cut dough into squares
Add the potatoes to the boiling pot
Add the dough to the boiling pot
Stir well, cover, and reduce heat to simmer for 20-25 minutes

The recipe says it serves 6-8 people, this is laughable because I will eat the entire pot in one sitting. Like, I will bite your fingers off if you try to touch my pot pie, its that good.

This is a traditional pie made in a pot, and its delicious. However, I did learn a few things from my adventure with making this recipe..

Use a good ham!

I used the cheap Aldi ham that was precooked and presliced and all that supposed helpful stuff, it was not flaky or flavorful and it really toned down the goodness of this dish. You need a good quality ham to make this work.

If you think the dough is thin enough, you probably need to roll it a little thinner.

I rolled mine out to where I was sure it was paper thin.. nope. Some of those noodles were as thick as pizza crust. I happen to love homemade noodle/dumping/pie dough stuff so that isn’t a problem for me other than it was hard to shove the whole thing in my mouth. But, if I had rolled it thinner, I could have had more noodles.

Now that I know how incredibly easy and affordable this dish is (other than the ham you will probably have everything already on hand) I will definitely be making it way more often. It is so perfect for a cold rainy day or a snowy day. Or a warm day, or a summer day, or any day that ends in “y”.

My next plan is to attempt to freeze this dish and see how that works. If it does, you better believe I will be cleaning out the ham section of the grocery store after every holiday so I can make huge batches of pot pie and stash them in my freezer. Mwahahaha.

Hope you enjoy!

Homemade Lasagna

It has probably been two years since I made a real lasagna. It is always either in the crock pot or the lasagna roll ups, because that is so much easier. This week, however, Wonderful Husband was begging for lasagna. I really don’t know why, other than he found a box of lasagna noodles in the cupboard while he was raiding them one day. He seriously asked four times in one day if we could have lasagna the next day. Who am I to deny lasagna to the hard working husband?

As with most of my recipes, I am constantly on the look out for the best one available. I am normally not satisfied with lasagna because I don’t really like beef and there is never enough cheese for me. Enter the Kraft Better-than-ever cheesy meat lasagna. Can you hear the angels singing? Because I can. I am still sneaking to the fridge to stuff forkfuls of cold, leftover lasagna in my mouth. This will definitely be a repeat in our household. I served it with toasted french bread and homemade bruschetta. It was divine.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 lb. extra-lean ground beef (I used 1lb bc thats how mine is packaged)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
  • 1 jar (24 oz.) spaghetti sauce
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 container (16 oz.) cottage cheese (I used a mixture of cottage cheese and ricotta and it was WAY more than 16oz)
  • 1/4 cup KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 9 lasagna noodles, cooked
  • 1 pkg. (7 oz.) shredded Mozzarella 

Directions:

  • Brown meat with garlic and oregano in large saucepan. Stir in spaghetti sauce; simmer 5 min., stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in tomatoes. Mix egg, cottage cheese and Parmesan until blended.
  • Spread 1/2 cup meat sauce onto bottom of 13×9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Top with layers of 3 noodles, half the cottage cheese mixture, 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1 cup sauce; repeat layers. Top with remaining noodles and sauce; cover.
  • Bake 30 min. or until heated through. Top with remaining mozzarella; bake, uncovered, 5 min. or until melted. Let stand 5 min. before serving.

I will admit that I used more like 24oz of the ricotta/cottage cheese mixture, and I used freshly grated Parmesan instead of the shaker cheese stuff. Really, you can vary this however you want depending on your personal preferences, but it delicious! I would love to try this out with zucchini noodles instead of lasagna noodles, or with ground turkey instead of beef. Oh the healthy options! It almost makes up for the insane amount of cheese.

Enjoy!