Monday, January 27, 2014

Slow Cooked Brown Sugar Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin

Once again, I've been keeping myself busy.  This time, I spent the weekend painting our upstairs guest bathroom, which meant that I didn't have a lot of time to cook.  For me, this is just one reason I think that crock pot meals are the absolute best!  I love that all you have to do is toss the ingredients into the pot and then walk away to do other things, but you'll still always end up with a great meal!

I was excited too, to finally use my crock pot again; mostly because I just discovered these easy clean up liners. 

How did I never know that such a product existed until now?  The liners definitely would have saved me a lot of time and energy scraping the sides of my pot to get it clean.  They really did make cleaning up a snap.  I highly recommend picking up a pack or two for yourself!

Now, back to the recipe.  This pork tenderloin is so easy to prepare and comes out both sweet and delicious.  By the time the pork's finished cooking, the meat's so tender that it literally just falls apart with your fork; meaning no knife is needed to eat it.


Slow Cooked Brown Sugar Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin

2 lb. pork tenderloin
1 tsp. rosemary
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup water
½ cup light brown sugar (could use splenda brown sugar)
1 TBSP. cornstarch
¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar
½ cup water
2 TBSP. reduced sodium soy sauce

In a small dish, mix together the seasonings to form a rub; rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic.

Prepare the slow cooker by placing in the liner, or spraying the sides with a non-stick cooking spray.  Add in ½ cup of water.

Rub the spices over the pork tenderloin, and place it in the slow cooker with the ½ cup of water.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-5. (I cooked mine for a little over 4 hours and it was perfect)

About an hour before the tenderloin is done cooking, prepare the glaze.

In a small sauce pan set over a medium heat, combine the sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, water, and soy sauce.  Let heat up until the ingredients are well combined and the sauce begins to thicken.  DO NOT let it boil; reduce the heat if needed.

Once the sauce thickens, brush it over the tenderloin 2-3 times during the last hour of cooking.

When the tenderloin is done, place it on a baking sheet, spread on a little more glaze and place it in the oven, set to broil.  This will help give the glaze that caramelized texture.  Keep an eye on the tenderloin during this process; it may take 3-5 minutes.  When it’s done, place the pork on a serving tray and pour over the remainder of the glaze.

I almost forgot that I have one more thing to add to today's post......So I decided today that I'm going to drive down to Disney World to visit my sister Shannon for a few days before she gets back on her cruise ship.  Before I go though, I wanted to share with you all the workout calendar I created for February.  I'm sorry that January's calendar never made it up, but feel free to join me this upcoming month!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Stuffed Spinach and Mozzarella Chicken

Well, it's official!  I'm finally able to run outdoors again!!!  (And yes, that statement, without a doubt, earns those 3 exclamation points; I'm that excited about it!)

For me, it's been many agonizing months off.  If you're a runner yourself, you most likely get where I'm coming from.  However, I'm sure that some of you non-runners might be thinking, 'I don't get it, what's the big deal?'  So here it is.....when I go for a run, that's my way to release stress or just escape from everything around me, at least for a little while.  And when I can actually go outside and run (meaning not on the treadmill where people can still get hold of me), I know that it's just me, my music, and the road, and I love that uninterrupted alone time.

Being able to get back to my routine means that I now have two things working for me again when it comes to the "health" area of my life.

1. I'm eating healthy
2. I'm able to workout like I want to and am feeling good

Is it just me, or does anyone else believe that there's something about being able to workout that makes you want to stick to eating healthy?  I know that many of my friends feel the same way, but does anyone else?  If so, here's a quick and healthy recipe that's high in protein and low in carbs.  The best part is, that it's also tasty and delicious!  Feel free to leave out the Italian bread crumbs if you want to (I left them off my pieces of chicken, but put them on Jeff's).

Without the bread crumbs, the nutrition looks something like this: 1 serving=1 piece
Cal: 140  carbs: 4 grams  fat: 5 grams  pro: 16 grams

Stuffed Spinach and Mozzarella Chicken

3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (butterflied to make 6 pieces)
1 cup Italian style bread crumbs (optional)
6 TBSP. grated Parmesan cheese, divided
4-5 oz. fresh baby spinach
1 garlic clove, minced
2-3 tsp. olive oil
½ cup part-skim Ricotta cheese
2 egg whites, beaten
Mozzarella cheese, shredded (just a little on each piece, I used about 1/2 a cup total)
Marinara sauce
Fresh basil, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and spray the bottom of a baking dish with a nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

For the Chicken:
Butterfly the 3 original large pieces of chicken so that you’re now left with 6 thinner pieces.  After that, pound the pieces flatter, so that the surface area expands some more.  Place the bread crumbs and 3 TBSP. of Parmesan cheese into a shallow dish; set aside.  In another shallow dish, whisk together the egg whites.

For the Filling:
Chop the spinach into small pieces and place into a skillet with the olive oil and the garlic.  Sauté the ingredients together, over a medium heat, until the spinach leaves begin to wilt.

In a small bowl, add the ricotta cheese, the remaining Parmesan cheese, and the prepared spinach.  Now, stir the ingredients around until well combined.

To Prepare the Chicken:
Place a piece of chicken onto a flat work surface and add on a spoonful of the ricotta mixture.  Make sure to place it in the center of the chicken piece.  After that step is complete, roll up the chicken so that the edges meet and form a seam.  (A toothpick might be helpful to keep the chicken closed)  Now, dip the chicken in the egg whites and then roll in the bread crumbs.  (Remember, this step is optional.  If you would rather not have the bread crumbs, just skip this step.)  Once the chicken roll is ready, place it into the prepared baking dish and repeat the process with the remaining pieces.  Bake for 25 minutes.

Once the chicken is done baking, meaning that it looks a little brown on the top, and white in the middle, it’s time to remove the dish from the oven.  Add on some marinara sauce and a little mozzarella cheese and then place back into the oven for another 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted.  Once ready, remove from the oven and garnish with a little basil.  Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Pinch of Yum!

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Best of Breakfast: Pancake Egg Sandwich

This post may be a little overdue, but it's definitely worth me going back to. I actually made this recipe for breakfast over the holidays, to serve to my husband and in-laws.  I'd have to say that it was definitely a hit and something I can easily see myself making again; probably very soon.  That way, Jeff can have a decent breakfast during the hectic work week. 

You see, I typically don't get a chance to cook breakfast a lot, and Jeff usually just ends up having Pop Tarts.  The reason for this is because I go to the gym every morning at 5:20, before Jeff gets up, and then he heads into work before I'm home.  We seem to just miss one another on the weekdays.  That's really why I want to make something that Jeff can heat up on his own, and I feel that these breakfast sandwiches would be the perfect, make-ahead and freeze meal.  Once I know for sure how they turn out when frozen, and how long to microwave them, I'll update the post.  Until then, serve fresh and enjoy!

(Hint: Next time, I was going to try to add on a slice or two of Canadian Bacon for a little more protein.  You can never have enough protein!)

The Best of Breakfast: Pancake Egg Sandwich
Printer-Friendly Version

For Pancakes:
2 ½ cups self-rising flour
Dash of salt
2 cups skim milk
2 eggs
¼ cup vegetable/canola oil, or healthy substitute
Butter for skillet

For Eggs:
8 large eggs, or substitute egg whites for healthier version (use more eggs)
1 TBSP. skim milk
4-5 crumbled cooked sausage patties (I use turkey sausage)
¼ tsp. black pepper
Dash of salt

For Assembly:
Canadian Bacon/Bacon
American cheese slices
Maple syrup

For the Pancakes:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.

Combine the milk, oil, and eggs in a small bowl.  I always whisk the eggs together first, and then mix in the other ingredients.  Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the flour and mix together.  It may appear a little lumpy, which is fine.

Heat a nonstick griddle over medium heat, for a few 4-5 minutes.  Once ready, pour ¼ cup of batter (I used my ¼ cup measuring cup) onto the prepared griddle and let cook.  The bottoms of the pancakes should cook in about 2 minutes time but keep an eye on the bubbles that appear, that will help you monitor.  Once ready, flip the pancake over and let the other side cook.  When the pancakes are done cooking, place them on a plate and cover with aluminum foil to help keep them warm until serving (or place them in an oven, preheated to 200 degrees)

For the Eggs:
In a medium bowl, crack and add the eggs.  Now, whisk the eggs together until the whites and yolk are well combined.  Add in the milk, crumbled sausage patties, black pepper, and dash of salt.  Whisk the ingredients around a little more until everything is combined.

Spray a large, non-stick skillet with cooking spray (such as PAM) and preheat it over a medium heat.  Once ready, pour in the egg mixture.  Scramble together until the eggs are cooked through.

To Assemble:
Place a slice of cheese on top of a pancake.  If you plan to add Canadian bacon or regular bacon, add it now.  Next, add on some of the scrambled egg/sausage mixture.  If you would like, feel free to add on another piece of cheese.  Top with a pancake and then add on some maple syrup.

We stuck the prepared sandwich in the microwave for about 15 seconds, just long enough to help the cheese melt a little.

Source: Slightly adapted from Paula Deen

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Samoa Girl Scout Cookies

Oh my gosh, it's already that time of year again!  Time for the Girl Scouts to come out, or recruit their parents, to start selling those delicious little cookies that, I swear, are designed to ruin people's diets.  I usually end up buying a couple of boxes myself, and then give them to my husband; but this year I am no longer at school and therefore don't have any little girls asking me.  Jeff however, has some recruited parents working with him, so he ended up calling me the other day to see if I wanted any boxes.  Right away, my stomach said, "Yes!!!" but my will power kicked in and I ended up telling him "no."

However, that evening, while Jeff was at bowling, his team members issued me a challenge.  They wanted to see if I could bake up a batch of Samoa Girl Scout cookies that tasted just as good, if not better than, the actual boxes they buy.  Now, as most of you know, I'm always up for a good challenge, therefore I think it goes without saying that I gladly accepted.  Sadly, I didn't get to eat any of the cookies myself (completely my choice), but I did end up hearing that they were delicious.  If you choose to make a batch for yourself, you can be the judge.

These cookies were definitely fun to make once, and definitely worth it, but are slightly time consuming.

(Just to clarify.....We still support the Girl Scouts and Jeff actually purchased a few boxes from someone he works with)

Samoa Girl Scout Cookies

Makes about 3 ½ dozen
Shortbread Cookie:
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
½ cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 TBSP. milk (if needed)
½ tsp. vanilla extract

3 cups shredded coconut (toasted)
13-14 oz. good quality caramel chews
3 TBSP. milk
1/8 tsp. salt
10 oz. dark chocolate chips (I like using Hersey’s)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Now, in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Change the mixer to a lower speed and pour in the flour.  After a few seconds add in the vanilla, and milk (but only as needed) until a dough begins to form.  The dough should come together in a ball all on its own.  If you added too much milk, just add a little more flour.  The dough should not feel sticky.

Use your hands and divide the dough into 2 sections.  Roll each section into a ball and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or a silicone baking mat.

Once ready, remove the dough from the refrigerator and take off the plastic wrap.  Next, sandwich the dough between two pieces of parchment paper and roll out until it’s about ¼ inches thick.  Cut the dough using a donut cutter, or two different sized round cookie cutters.  Place the prepared cookies onto the cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or just until the bottoms begin to turn a light golden brown.  While one or two batches are baking, continue to cut more cookies from the dough, re-rolling as needed.

Once the cookies are done baking, let them cool for about a minute on the baking sheet and then transfer them to a wire rack where they will cool completely.

To toast the coconut:
Place the coconut into a large skillet set over a low-medium heat and stir occasionally.  Once the coconut pieces start to turn a little brown you will want to make sure that you continue to stir constantly, as the pieces will toast very quickly.  Once the coconut looks browned, remove from the heat, and pour into a bowl; set aside.

For the caramel:
Place the caramel pieces into a microwave safe bowl with the milk and salt.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, making sure to stop and stir around as needed and to help the caramel melt.  Once the caramel has melted, fold in the toasted coconut using a large spoon or spatula.

To assemble the cookies:
Using a small knife, or spatula, evenly spread the coconut topping over the cooled cookies.  Helpful Hint: If the caramel begins to harden and makes it too difficult to spread onto the cookies, just place the bowl back into the microwave for 10-20 seconds and it will soften it back up.

While the topping on the cookies hardens, melt the chocolate.  I chose to melt mine in a double broiler, on the stove top, but you could always melt it in the microwave.  The nice thing about the double broiler is that the heat from the water (even though I turned the stove off), keep the chocolate soft the whole time.  This meant that I didn't have to keep melting it as I worked.

Once ready, dip the base of the cookie into the chocolate and set aside on a piece of parchment paper to cool.  After all the cookies have been dipped and set aside, pour the remaining chocolate into a piping bag, or Ziplock bag, with the corner cut off, and drizzle the chocolate over the tops of the cookies.  Let cool until the chocolate hardens.  I placed mine in the fridge to speed up this process.

Eat when ready, or store in an airtight container for later consumption.  Enjoy!  

Monday, January 13, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Wonton Cups and Birthdays!

(Please ignore the x-mas napkin)

I can't believe it's already a new week again, what happened to the weekend?  I'm not complaining though, because I honestly like Monday's and this isn't any ordinary Monday either.  It's January 13th, which means it's my older sister Shannon's birthday!  "Happy Birthday Shanny!" 

I really wish I could be with her to help celebrate; but she's been sailing around Hawaii and French Polynesia for the past 30 days (If I sound jealous, I am, which is why I wish I could be there too to help celebrate).  Today also happens to be my friend Brad's birthday, "Happy Birthday Brad!"

On that note, birthdays seem to be popping up everywhere; January is a busy month!  I actually made two birthday cakes over the weekend, for two different parties that were going on.

In addition to baking birthday cakes, I also prepared some buffalo chicken wonton cups to take as a little appetizer to yet another birthday party.  These personalized little cups are always a huge hit and super easy to make!  Enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Wonton Cups
Printer-Friendly Version

Makes about 18 cups
2 large cans chunk chicken
2 blocks 1/3 less fat cream cheese
3 TBSP. Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
½ - 1 cup Franks Red Hot Sauce
1 package wonton shells

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a muffin tin with a nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

In a large skillet, over a medium heat, add in the chunk chicken and breaking apart into bite size pieces and stirring around.  Continue to cook until just warm, 2-4 minutes.  Add in the blocks of cream cheese and stir around, with the chicken, until melted and mixed together.  When ready, pour in the ranch dressing, Frank’s Red Hot sauce, and 1 ½ cups of the cheese.  Stir those ingredients around until the cheese is melted and everything is nicely combined.

To assemble:
Begin by placing a wonton shell into the bottom of each well of the muffin tin.  After that, add on about a TBSP. of the chicken mixture and top with a little cheese.  Next, place over the chicken and cheese another wonton shell, making sure to press it down around the filling (almost so that it looks like a piece of ravioli).  Now, place on top of the wonton another TBSP. of the buffalo chicken mixture and then sprinkle on some more cheese.

When ready, place the tin into the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges of the wonton wrappers start to turn a nice brownish color.

Optional Garnish Ideas:
Blue Cheese or Feta crumbles
A slice of celery

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Zucchini Lasagna

I can't think of anything better to be doing right now than sitting here in my living room, with a warm cup of real Irish coffee (hey, it's Saturday and I've been good), typing my blog post, and listening to the rain outside.  I was so excited when I first woke up this morning because there was an actual thunderstorm going on, with lightening and everything.  It's the type of event that you very rarely see during the beginning of January, but I love a good thunderstorm; my dogs, not so much.

Today's recipe that I'll be sharing is for zucchini lasagna, which is my healthy alternative to regular lasagna, and is it every delicious!  In fact, I found the leftovers to be better than the day I originally made it, mostly because this extra time allowed the flavors to absorb better.  I also got to use my new mandolin slicer that I received as a Christmas gift!  New kitchen gadgets are the best, I just always have the challenge of finding a spot for them.  If you don't already have one yourself, and eat lots of vegetables, definitely look into getting one.  It easily cuts prep time in half and is amazing!

FYI - Zucchinis are kind of small at the grocery stores right now, so you may have to adjust how many you buy in order to make this recipe.  Just use your best judgment.

Zucchini Lasagna
Printer-Friendly Version

1 lb. 99% fat free, lean ground turkey (or ground beef)
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup green bell pepper, chopped
½ a large yellow onion, chopped
2-3 zucchini’s thinly sliced
1 jar (24 oz.) pasta sauce (I used Prego Traditional)
2 Tsp. oregano
½ tsp. basil
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1-2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and spray a 9x13” baking dish with a non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In a large skillet, over medium heat, brown the ground turkey.  Once ready, add in the garlic, green pepper, and onion and let sauté for 3-5 minutes.  

Next, stir in the pasta sauce, oregano, and basil and let the mixture come to a light boil.  Once ready, remove the sauce from the heat, sprinkle in the Parmesan cheese, and stir around.

To assemble:
Place a thin layer of the sauce mixture into the bottom of the baking dish.  Layer zucchinis over the sauce and sprinkle with some mozzarella cheese.  Feel free to sprinkle on some more Parmesan cheese, if you so desire.  After that, just repeat the layers.  Hint: I made sure to save some sauce for the top layer, that way it helped cook the last row of zucchini.

Bake the lasagna for 15 minutes, covered with aluminum foil.  After that, remove the foil, increase the temperature to 350 degrees, and allow it to cook for another 15 minutes.

Source: Adapted from 30 hand made days

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Spinach & White Cheddar Chicken Burger

I know that it's a little late into January already, but according to some, the new year brings resolutions; so ask yourself, are you up to the challenge?  I wouldn't say that I actually made resolutions, so much as set some personal goals for the year 2014.  So far, I've been doing a really good job sticking to them.  However, the goals I set for myself aren't really anything too extravagant (like going to climb Mt. Everest) and that's ok because I usually end up adding to these throughout the year anyway.  Plus, I change my goals a little bit each month.  To me, there always has to be flexibility.

Now, you might find yourself wondering what exactly my goals are.  First off, let me just inform you that I have the type of personality that definitely likes to be challenged and most often it comes when I hear negativity from others.  Typically, that type of thinking motivates me to try even harder.  Oh yeah, you might not know this about me yet, but I like to prove people wrong; especially when it comes to what they think I'm capable of accomplishing.  I may be little, but I'm pretty strong willed.  I truly believe that nothing in life should ever be easy; you should have to constantly work at things to improve otherwise you will stay the same.  Unless of course you are on vacation, then it should always be easy and relaxing.

So here are my goals to start the new year:
1. With everything that goes on in my personal life, I want to challenge myself to find the time to update my blog at least 6-7 times a month, if not more.
2.  Now that I've recovered from my broken pelvis, I want to challenge myself to run at least 4 races this year.  (I know that I'll be able to too, I've already signed up for 1.  My problem though, is that I don't really like running with other people.  I run for enjoyment.)
3.  To eat healthier.  By this statement, I don't mean that I want to go on a diet and try to lose a bunch of weight, but rather make a conscience lifestyle change.  (I'm not saying that I won't slip here and there, no one's perfect, and everyone likes cookies here and there, but I just want to become more aware of what I put into my digestive system and attempt to eat less processed food.)

On that note, I'd like to share today's recipe with you.  Not only are these spinach and white cheddar chicken burgers healthy, but they're absolutely delicious!  I ended up eating a burger and a half, which is unusual for me, but fine.  Each chicken patty is under 200 calories, of course, this depends whether or not you put the burger on a bun and what extra toppings you end up using as garnish.  I ended up eating my burger plain; mostly because I found that there was already enough seasoning within the burger itself.  I'll definitely be making this again soon!  Even the leftovers were delicious!

Spinach & White Cheddar Chicken Burgers
Printer-Friendly Version

1 package (about 1 ¼ lb.) lean ground chicken
2 oz. fresh baby spinach, wilted
¼ - ½ of a small onion
1 garlic clove
2 stalks of a green onion
1 TBSP fresh parsley leaves
1 cup, shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. soy sauce
¼ - ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ - ½ cup panko bread crumbs (start out on the low end and add more if needed)

The first thing that you’ll need to do is wilt your baby spinach leaves.  This is super easy to do, so don’t be intimidated.  In order to wilt the leaves, place your spinach into colander, in a sink, and pour boiling water over them.  Drain well, and then squeeze the leaves out a little, until they appear soft and wilted.

Now, place the onion, green onion, garlic, parsley, and wilted spinach leaves into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until fairly fine looking; be careful not to completely puree.

Next, in a medium to large bowl, add the chicken, the chopped up spinach mixture, and all the remaining ingredients.  Using clean hands, knead everything together until well combined.  This is where you may need to add in more panko bread crumbs, but only if the chicken is not holding together.  (One way to tell if you need more crumbs is if the chicken is sticking to your hands)

Once the mixture is well combined, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with a little olive oil.  Now, form the chicken into patties (it should make 6 depending on the size) and place onto the prepared pan.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and then transfer the baking sheet into the refrigerator for about an hour.  This will allow time for the flavors to set in.

When ready to cook, set the oven to broil and allow the patties to cook for 7-9 minutes on each side.  Garnish as desired and enjoy!

Source: Cookin' With Super Pickle

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Chicken and Lime Avocado Salad

Once again I sadly disappeared for awhile and I'm sorry.

The past two weeks have just been so hectic, yet so much fun at the same time!  Things are finally starting to settle down.  Between traveling, visiting family and friends, being sick with the flu, the excitement of the holidays, eating too much, packing and unpacking, and taking down Christmas decorations, I've been exhausted.  However, I think I've finally recovered and am pretty much back to my usual schedule. 

I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to take a minute or two right now, and share with you a little bit about what I've been up to lately.  If you want to just skip right down to the tasty recipe though, please feel free. 

As I previously mentioned in a post or two, Jeff and I traveled to Michigan over the holidays, and if any of you happen to live up in that region, or have been keeping up with the nation's weather reports, then you already know that the northern states are getting slammed pretty hard with severe weather.  It actually began to go downhill the day we arrived.  Literally, the moment we crossed the state line into Michigan, a huge ice storm began. 

The storm ended up causing us, and thousands of others throughout the state, to actually lose electricity due to all the down power lines that collapsed under the pressure of the ice.  I'm not going to complain about the ice though, because luckily for us we only lost power for about 3-4 hours, whereas some of my other family members and friends lost it for about 4 days!  Overall it was a big mess, and I know it ruined a lot of people's Christmas celebrations.

The weather didn't stop there either, later that week, as we went from Jeff's parent's house, to my grandma's house, and then our friend's house, the temperatures continued to drop and more and more snow started to fall.  The day we decided to head back to North Carolina was probably not the best day to choose from, but I'm glad we did.  Apparently, at least from what I've been seeing and hearing, it's just getting worse and worse up there.  The ride home was miserable too.  Jeff and I both had the flu and we ended up driving through severe snow storms the entire way back.  It was so bad that at some points we couldn't even see the road, or tell if we were on it.  In addition to being sick, and driving through the snow, we passed at least 30 or more cars and semi-trucks that had slid off the road, plus, we encountered quite a few traffic standstills, ugh!  One standstill, which we hit in Ohio, involved me actually putting the car into park, on the expressway, for 2 straight hours.  The journey home, that should have only taken twelve hours, ended up taking about eighteen.  I usually wouldn't have minded, but we were both sick, plus we had our two little dogs with us.

On a brighter note, we are home and had a great time visiting our family and friends! 

I'm also all unpacked, decorations are taken down, laundry is done, and I'm feeling fully healthy again and ready to take on the new year!  I know I haven't posted my workout calendar for January yet, and I'm sorry because I know that some of you take ideas from it.  So far this year I've just been kind of doing whatever comes to mind, mostly because I haven't had the time to sit down and create anything.  I'll do my best to get a calendar made today though and hopefully it will be posted soon; better late than never I always say!

Ok..... enough about my holiday, now it's time to share a delicious and healthy recipe that I made for dinner the other night. 

Lately, I have found so many wonderful looking recipes that I've been wanting to try out, but have been afraid to do so.  This is mostly because, like me, Jeff can be a pretty picky eater, especially when it comes to healthier foods.  Over the holidays though, he informed me that he'd be willing to try out whatever I make; which had me super excited!  I got started on our weekly menu right away.  However, looking back now, I have to admit that this was probably not the best recipe to begin with; especially since I was trying to convince him that healthy meals are delicious.  You see, Jeff is not really, nor has he ever really been a big fan of fruits or vegetables, especially the lesser known ones, and this recipe contains avocados.  Part of me thought that it would be safe though, because he likes guacamole;  I was wrong.  After dinner, Jeff told me that it wasn't a terrible meal, it just wasn't for him.  I on the other hand loved it, and would definitely make it again!  To me, it was a perfect combination of flavors, and everything that I enjoy in one dish!

Chicken and Lime Avocado Salad
Printer-Friendly Version

2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded (size is up to you)
2 medium avocados, diced into bite size pieces
2 TBSP. lime juice, freshly squeezed
¼ cup green onion, finely sliced
½ cup cilantro, finely chopped
2 TBSP. light mayo

(To make the dressing)
In a small bowl, combine the mayo and 1 TBSP. of the freshly squeezed lime juice.  Mix the two ingredients together (it’s really that easy).

After that, place the diced avocados into a medium bowl and add in the remaining 1 TBSP. of the freshly squeezed lime juice and sprinkle on some salt.  Now, gently mix around the avocados until they are evenly coated; set aside.
Place the chicken and green onions into a separate bowl and then add in the dressing.  Once ready, toss the ingredients together until everything is well coated. 
After that, add in the avocado and gently mix around.  Lastly, place in the chopped cilantro and continue to mix around until the salad is just combined.
Serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator!