Eat In Challenge: We Did It!!!

The Eat-In Challenge ends today. I was wishing a little bit for a Starbucks run when Nick went to the hardware store (yes, that is our usual agreement), but I held my composure and endured. We did end up stopping for sushi this past weekend after the race, but since we were allowed one "cheat," we still made it.

Here are some of the tricks and tips we used to keep on track:

  • Make sure that you have easy breakfasts on hand, but breakfasts that still taste good. I stocked up on soy yogurt, had cereal for ohmygoshimrunningsolate mornings, pre-portioned frozen fruit for easy morning smoothies, and had a variety of freeze on the weekend, thaw overnight, bake in the morning items: cinnamon rolls, scones, and bagels.
  • Have a lunch that you want to eat. Most of the days when I would typically have gone out to eat were days when the lunch that was packed from home just wasn't that appetizing. This month, I made sure that I packed something that I really wanted, so I looked forward to lunch and didn't want to run out for a sandwich from Panera. This does involve some planning ahead to make sure you have lunch menu items at home.
  • Make the stuff you are craving at home. Panera has this chicken salad sandwich with grapes and almonds in it - and it is divine. I love it. But since it was eat-in month, when we had a bit of turkey leftover after making stock (yes, we bought another turkey, but that's another post), I made a turkey salad with grapes and almonds. Craving gone.
  • Have a plan. I've been posting our meal plans weekly. We normally come up with this before we grocery shop so that we make sure we have everything we need for our recipes at home. This eliminates having to run to the grocery after work, or worse, while we are making dinner. 'Cuz ya'll know at that point, you start thinking that it would just be easier to pick up dinner instead of the missing ingredient.
  • Stock your pantry. You don't have to go crazy, but if you have a few items that you can use in a pinch to come up with something just in case, it will make it that much easier to stay at home than to go out.
  • Freeze as you go. You are cooking at home, so why not make a few more servings and just freeze them away (even easier: in an oven safe pan for easy reheating). Then on nights when you know you'll be at the office late, or you have yoga class, or whatever that excuse is that makes you want to go out to eat, you can just pull out the freezer meal (preferrably the night before to thaw in the fridge) and reheat. This doesn't work for everything, but baked pastas, soups, chilis, etc. are all great candidates for this technique. We usually make the 6 servings that the typical recipe calls for, eat two for dinner, freeze two for a dinner later, and have two set aside for lunch.
What are some of your tips for making eating at home easy?

Weekend Recap & A Poll

This weekend was such a fun weekend. It was the first weekend this year when Nick and I both were feeling well, but the highlight was the Rolex 24 in Daytona Beach. I never really thought I would get into Nascar or car racing, but it really is such a good time to go watch the races live. I think some of the speed and intensity is lost when it's broadcast on television. Plus, the atmosphere is actually quite nice. It's pretty judgement free, fun and family friendly.

The Rolex race in particular, being a 24 hour race, also offers some fun extras that we certainly took advantage of.

First, we watched the start of the race from the Grandstands. It's basically two races in one since there are prototype cars and GT cars, but they race together on the same track.
Outside the Grandstands

Grandstands from the Infield
Next, we headed to the infield where all the fun was through the tunnel that goes under the track.

Heading into the Infield

Under the track in the tunnel

My first taste of PBR

We checked out team garages, where we saw a sad Ferrari.

We also checked out older winning cars they had on display.


Next we headed to the Chili Cook Off. Our favs: Carolina Catfish and Yes Deer.

Our vote for Sportsmanship

After we stopped to watch a bit of the race, we ended the evening with a ride on the ferris wheel, which gave us a 360 view of the track.

Sunset from the infield

My fav car, #7. He wasn't doing very well.  

Ferris Wheel

View of Grandstands from the Ferris Wheel

Afterwards, we stopped off at the sushi restaurant near our apartment and grabbed a couple rolls and warmed up from the race with some hot sake.

Sunday was a lazy day to catch up with some housework, hang out, prepare some stuff for the week ahead and of couse, watch the NHL All Star game. I hope you all had a great weekend. 

On another note, I have a poll up to see what you all are most interested in when I post. Take a minute to vote! If there is another option not listed that you would prefer, leave it in the comments.

Superbowl Snacking: Jalepeno Poppers

Regardless of the team you root for, football is a great excuse to deep fry something. We whipped these up after overhearing some guys in the supermarket talking about them (thanks grocery store guys!).

Jalepeno Poppers

4 jalepeno peppers
cheddar cheese (we used a goat's milk cheddar), cut into small cubes
1/2 can of beer, preferably a light beer
1 c. all purpose flour

Heat oil in a deep saucepan on the stove over medium high heat. For vegetables, try and get and maintain an oil temperature of 340F.

Prepare the jalepenos. Start by cutting off the stem end and, with a small paring knife, score the edges inside where the seeds are attached. Remove the insides (we used chopsticks to scrape and then pull out the insides).

Once you have opened up the inside of the pepper, stuff the cheese inside. The amount you use depends on the size of your peppers. But make sure they are pretty stuffed.

Pour the beer into a large bowl. Add flour in slowly, whisking, until it is the consistency of pancake batter. One trick is to add an ice cube to the batter. This will make sure you are adding cold batter to the hot oil. This should make it crisp faster and absorb less oil.

Drop into the oil only as many poppers that will submerge and still allow surface area to be flipped. Basically don't overlap a whole bunch in there. It will cause sticking before the batter can crisp and cool the temperature of the oil too much, resulting in mushy, over oily poppers.

Once they are in the oil, keep an eye on them and flip them once the bottoms are a golden color. About 3-4 minutes. Allow the other side to cook until it's golden as well, for a total cooking time of 6-8 minutes. Remove from the oil and place on a plate covered with a paper towel or a cooling rack to cool and to drain any excess oil.

We served this with some super healthy onion rings tossed in some Penzey's Northwood's seasoning and dipped in the same beer batter as the poppers. 

Cinnamon Rolls

My mom makes these cinnamon rolls and they are to die for. I miss them. So I begged and begged and begged her for the recipe and she finally shared it. So I got right to work. Because they are amazing - the crispy caramelized cinnamon sugar filling on the bottoms, the warm gooey cream cheese icing on the top....I almost didn't finish this post because they were calling me into the kitchen...

Lucky for you, I did, because they are delicious. And one of my favorite things is that they can be made ahead of time. Make them the night before, pop them in the refrigerator and you're all set for an easy and delicious breakfast the following morning. Or freeze in small batches to thaw later overnight in the refrigerator and bake for an easy weekday breakfast.
Mom's Cinnamon Buns
1 c. warm milk (or cream)
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/3 c. melted butter
4 1/2 c. bread flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 c. sugar
3 1/2 tsp yeast
1 c. packed brown sugar
2 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/3 c. butter, softened.

Dissolve the yeast in the milk, add the sugar, salt and butter. Add the eggs and mix well and add the flour until it forms a ball. Place into a prepared (butter or oiled) bowl, cover and let rise until it doubles, about an hour.

While the dough is rising, mix the brown sugar, cinnamon and butter with a fork until it is combined into a "paste" - no pockets of butter or cinnamon.

After the dough has doubled in size, put it on a floured surface and let it rest for ten minutes. Then roll the dough to about 16x21 inch rectangle. Drop the cinnamon/brown sugar mixture in small pieces on to the dough. Make sure to coat the dough evenly with pieces of the mixture. I used an offset spatula to spread it around to the edges evenly. Starting at the long side, roll the dough. Cut the roll into 12 pieces and place rolls into a greased 9 x 12 pan*.

At this point, you can cover and let rise until double to bake (about 30 minutes). Or you can cheat and put them in the refrigerator so that you can bake them in the morning. Just take them out and let them come to room temp before you start to bake. Either way, bake them at 400 degrees for about 15-18 minutes.

While they are baking, beat:
3 ounces cream cheese
1/4 c. butter
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt

When rolls are warm, but not too hot, frost with the cream cheese icing.


 * We used a 9" x 9" pan and then had a couple smaller pans to place in the freezer.

This post is linked to the Sunday's at One Food Club hosted by Cocina Diary.

Week 4: Eat In Month

We're almost done with Eat-In Month and we've made it so far! This week will be pretty easy to stay in because as we have been cooking all month, we have been saving small two-serving sizes of some of the meals that we have been making during Eat In Month and freezing them. So this week will be a lot of thawing and reheating, but little cooking. Which is actually easier than running out for dinner. - and provides us with a week to clean out the fridge and freezer.

We did leave Saturday as TBD because we are planning on going to the Rolex 24 Hour Race at the Daytona Speedway, so we may use that as our one legal cheat night and grab something on our way there.

Brunch - Waffles with Fruit
Dinner - Chicken Tikka Marsala, Brown Rice and Broccoli

Breakfast - Bagels with Cream Cheese, Smoothies
Lunch - Turkey Salad Sandwiches
Dinner - Steak Salad (with steak leftovers from our tenderloin roast)

Breakfast - Cereal, Smoothies
Lunch - Slow Cooker Chicken Chili Leftovers
Dinner - Pork Roast, Salad, Roasted Potatoes

Breakfast - Bagels with Cream Cheese, Smoothies
Lunch - Italian Wedding Soup (which Nick made last week when I was a sicky)
Dinner - Fried Chicken, Sweet Potato Fries with Avocado Dipping Sauce

Breakfast - Cereal, Smoothies
Lunch - Pork Roast, Roasted Potatoes
Dinner - Pasta Rustica leftovers, Garlic Bread

Breakfast - Bagels with Cream Cheese, Smoothies
Lunch - Any misc. leftovers still in the fridge
Dinner - Pizza (with any of our leftover veggies)

Breakfast - Eggs, Toast and Bacon
Lunch - Any misc. leftovers
Dinner - TBD

Stay tuned next week to see if we made it and get some of our Eat-In tips!

Saccameno's Linguine with White Clam Sauce

I first had this dish several years ago at a friend's house. Noel (who's mom gave us this recipe) is a great host and cook. I remember saying at the time that I thought the pasta dish was delicious and wouldn't ya know? She ended up giving the recipe to me at my bridal shower. Yay for me - and for you, because now I'm sharing it.

It's a simple recipe, perfect for a weeknight meal when you want to feed your family something delicious but really feel like calling in for delivery*. It's light, flavorful and served with a salad and bread, makes a complete meal that's filling and healthy. It would also be lovely as a side dish.

We ended up making some semolina linguine that night, since it was a special night - our 5 month anniversary.
We don't need much to celebrate, and I really like homemade pasta. We also toasted with a bit of champagne. Like I said, it doesn't take much. :)
Saccameno's Linguine with White Clam Sauce

1 lb linguine
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1/3 c. onion
4 cloves garlic
4 cans chopped clams (juice and clams separated)
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. parsley
1/2 c. finely grated Pecorino Romano
salt and pepper, to taste
In a large skillet or saute pan, melt the butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and garlic and cook until transparent (about 5 minutes). Add in the clam juice, lemon juice, basil and pasley and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Next, add in the clams and cover. Continue to cook over low heat for another 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, uncover and add the cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Once you are satisfied with the flavor, toss in the cooked pasta** and serve, topping with more cheese and parsley if desired.

The prep work is minimal, so it literally comes together in 30 minutes. It definitely will get added to our regular meal rotation.

*Is it weird that I honestly never think of this? Sometimes I do ponder making boxed pasta with canned sauce and calling it a night. But it never, ever occurs to me that I could call someone to deliver dinner.

**I used homemade pasta. To save time, you could use boxed pasta or pre-made homemade pasta. The results of either would still be delicious.

Awkward & Awesome Thursday

So, Sydney, over at The Daybook does this fun thing on Thursdays where she lists Awesome and Awkward things that happen throughout her week. I think it's fun - who doesn't have some awkward moments, and don't you want to sit back and remember the awesome? Here's mine this week:


1. The fact that when I started this post I misspelled awkward (akward!!).
2. Coming home to a slow cooker chili to find out that Nick forgot the beans - and the tomatoes.
3. Lifting a trunk over a couch trying to set a window display and scratching yourself in the face with the trunk.
4. Our amaryllis that has no leaves, but two flower shoots.
5. Still not taking down the twinkly Christmas lights on the porch even though it's coming up on February. Yes, apparently we are those neighbors.
6. Sit down bicycles. Maybe they are comfortable, but they sure do look a little bit funny.
7. Trying to "crumble" the cinnamon/butter paste onto my dough for cinnamon rolls, per my mom's directions, just to make a mess, get it all over my hands, and have Nick look at me, chuckle, and hand me an offset spatula.


1. Spellcheck
2. Nick salvaging the chili - and it was delish!
3. Talking with my family - we totally don't do it enough.
4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
5. Getting up, eating breakfast, showering, and going back to bed to cuddle with a still sleeping husband.
7. The above mentioned cinnamon rolls. Mmm hmmm...

Drunken Crab Legs

This has been our go-to recipe for crab legs for years. We've tried it with several different beers (Sam Adam's Summer Ale being my favorite). It's such an easy meal. When we made this this week, Nick asked if I wanted to do the crab legs that night. I replied that I did, because if we didn't we'd have to make something fancy (fancier = more work in my book). He chuckled.

Drunken Crab Legs

3 bottles premium ale
3 lemons, cut in half
1 head garlic, split
3 lb. crab legs
drawn butter, for serving

Bring the beer, lemons and garlic (topped with a steamer insert) to a boil in a large stock pot. Toss in the crab legs until heated through (we do ours for about 15 minutes). Serve with the butter and a bottle of ale.

This recipe was originally posted on Food