Nov 252015

Yay! Thanksgiving is almost upon us. I am a huge fan of the holiday. It has some of my favorites foods. I love the mashed potatoes, I love stuffing, I love pumpkin pie!

Thanksgiving dinner is a feat in itself. I remember when Michael and I did Our First Bird. We had a bunch of friends over and did thanksgiving at our place. It went well but yeah…it was a lot of work!

Over the years I’ve written a lot of posts about the holiday and how to balance the splurge and still lose weight. You can read some of those old posts here:

Any Way You Slice That Pumpkin Pie

Repost: Why You Don’t Quit for the Holidays

Repost: Setting a Skinny Table



In the past I usually started reigning in the food and alcohol intake after Thanksgiving until Christmas, trying to be balanced and eat in moderation without going overboard. Inevitably I’d gain around 3-5 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s but I’d lose it pretty quickly and easily in the new year. This year feels a little different, obviously. I’m not trying to lose weight, I’m not too worried about gaining a few pounds, and my priorities have shifted a bit.

Instead, I wanted to share some favorite recipes you may want to try at your holiday:


Grandpa’s Atomic Garlic Dip – My grandpa’s famous dip. It’s super garlicky, like prepare-yourself-garlicky, but it’s SO good. It’s a fabulous appetizer to take to your holiday party and goes great with raw veggies.


Buffalo Celery Appetizer  – Another easy appetizer that is low in calories.

Side Dishes

I love me some Brussels Sprouts! I have two favorite recipes I wanted to pass on. The first is a super easy and fast side dish (that we often do with just dinner on a regular night):

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Onions:


This Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad was one I made for a previous Thanksgiving holiday and it was absolutely delicious and a hit. Plus, even people who weren’t fans of Brussels Sprouts, liked this recipe!


Martha Stewart’s Mac n’ Cheese – I don’t know that this is really a “side dish” but it’s an AMAZING recipe and is a must-make for any holiday party Michael and I get invited to. He made it once and now it’s requested. By everyone. It’s seriously that good. This particular recipe is a huge time investment but it’s so worth the effort.


Red Quinoa and Carrot Salad with Currants, Chickpeas and Cashews – This would be a great side dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas. It’s healthy, delicious and goes with everything.


Butternut Squash Cashew Soup – another great option for a side dish or appetizer. Make a small batch and serve it in tiny bowls or even in shot glasses!


Main Dish

If you’re not a fan of turkey, but want to do something similar, check out this recipe that was a fantastic dinner: Crockpot Cranberry Chicken

Another alternative to turkey: Roasted Garlic, Herb and Lemon Cornish Game Hens


We’ve done Cornish Game Hens instead of turkey a few times. On years when we were not getting together with family and doing the big “thing”, this was a nice option because it was MUCH less work, similar to having a turkey, but no massive quantities of leftovers.


Here are few recipes for bread type things:

Apple-Cranberry-Pistachio Bread

Star’s Cornbread – Her cornbread is amazing! Cheesy, moist, spicy…all my favorite things!

Cornbread Stuffing – Okay…for most of my life I was a firm “traditional stuffing” kind of girl…then I had cornbread stuffing and don’t want anything else now! I love cornbread stuffing and have had a few different variations of it and it’s all good…some cashews, some spicy sausage mixed in? Delicious!

Now it’s your turn: what are your favorite alternative recipes for the holidays? Share your links here!

Nov 162015

I’ve noticed lately (like within the last two weeks) that when I work out my heart rate is a bit higher than it’s been thus far. I’m guessing that’s the pregnancy stuff. I had the day off and slept in a little bit, then as I was being lazy in bed, cuddling with Bella and Fat Kitty, I got a wicked Charlie Horse in both calves. The left one subsided quickly, the right one crippled me. OUCH! It hurt so bad. It was like my calf muscle just decided to explode. And I felt the effects of it for the rest of the day and it was honestly sore the next day too! :(

I’d had plans to run at the gym but after the Charlie Horse I decided not to. I did upper body weights instead and then 2 miles on the elliptical. Calories burned:

I got home, it wasn’t raining and it was actually kind of sunny out, so Bella and I took a 1 mile walk to enjoy the weather. I burned another 100+ calories on that walk. Burning a lot lately, without even trying. It’s so odd.

For dinner Michael and I went out on a date night. He was craving pizza (as per usual) and I was craving BBQ. Pregnant lady wins. 😀


We went to Podnah’s! One of my favorites. It was a packed house for a weeknight but we got a table for two right away, thankfully. I got the brisket (my favorite), cornbread and collard greens and mac n’ cheese. (I like the mac n’ cheese at Reverend’s better, though.) Michael got the “meat” plate. LOL It was a sampler plate of the sausage, brisket, pulled pork and ribs. Everything was so good and satisfied my craving!

After dinner we headed to IKEA to check out the baby stuff. We got some essentials, of course:


Then looked at their cribs. We both liked this one:


I liked the drawers on the bottom, I liked that the mattress levels were adjustable and it converted into a toddler bed, too. We’re just in the looking phase right now, but we did end up buying the most important things:


Michael recently sent me a link about how IKEA is transforming kid’s art into stuffed animals for charity. It was SUCH a cute idea! The little green guy on the left was one of those creations and even though it’s kind of derpy looking, it was too cute not to get! The shark was Michael’s impulse buy. The little foxes are going to go nicely with our nursery theme. :)


Fat Kitty was super curious AND freaked out by the shark. Haha!

The next night I tried my hand at making a new recipe I’ve had saved for awhile. Sadly, we haven’t been much into cooking the last few months–making basic meals without trying any new recipes or doing much out of the norm. Part of that was two and a half months of me suffering from morning sickness and no appetite and just eating pasta. Part of it was being busy and tired and just making easy go-to meals (like steak and vegetables, chicken and vegetables, salmon and vegetables, you get the picture).


Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 8 servings

Calories per serving: Around 400 calories



  • 3 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs, fat trimmed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • McCormick Smoked Paprika
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • Pressed garlic
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 lb. red and white small potatoes, in 1-inch chunks
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 2 Tbs. flour
  • 1 1/3 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup white wine (or white grape juice)
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. fresh thyme, finely chopped


  1. In a Ziploc bag, combine about 2 T. smokey paprika, 1 tsp. each of salt and pepper. Mix together and add 4-5 pieces of chicken at a time, lightly shaking. Pull the chicken pieces out and put on a large plate. Repeat the process, adding more spices if needed, until all the chicken has been coated.
  2. In a large heavy frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Repeat the process until all the chicken has been lightly cooked.
  3. Add the garlic and onion to the frying pan, stirring for about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and stir another 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and carrots. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes.
  4. Gently whisk the flour into the wine. Gradually pour into the vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add the chicken stock; stir. Return the chicken to the pan and bring to a boil.
  5. Cover the pan, and reduce the heat to medium-low, simmering until the chicken and vegetables are cooked. Cook for about 30 minutes. Right before serving, stir the chicken and vegetables; add in the thyme. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper. Serve on farro, rice, or quinoa.

I omitted mushrooms, because I hate them. I also didn’t have any carrots so I skipped that. Other than that I followed the recipe pretty closely. It was a spur of the moment attempt at the recipe and I used what I happened to have on hand.


It was pretty easy to make this recipe. After simmering for about 30 minutes the sauce thickened up like a gravy. The gravy tasted really delicious and flavorful. I made some quinoa and topped with all with the chicken/potato/gravy mixture.


I liked the flavors a lot but Michael and I both agreed that the recipe would have been better with the carrots. Next time! I would make this again, but I’d add the carrots and use chicken thighs instead of breasts.