Bacon Egg and Cheese McMuffins

I couldn’t tell you the last time I ordered something from McDonald’s. That is fine with me, because I really want as little to do with it as possibly anyway. Whenever I hear the stories about people leaving a McDonald’s burger out for years and years and the food barley changes in look, it makes me want to eat a fresh green salad, extra veggies please.

I was the princess of 6-piece Chicken McNuggets with sweet and sour sauce when I was a kid. Princess, I tell ya. And then there were the Sausage and Egg McMuffins which were pretty delish, until the McGriddles came along. OMG, sooo good on the tongue. But then I felt like I was going to have a heart attack after eating one. Not so good.

Now that my Mickey-D’s days are past me, I find myself missing those classic breakfast sandwiches. Every once in awhile I’ll make breakfast sandwiches on bread or bagels. After making Biscuits and Gravy this weekend, I was left with some spare biscuits. Perfect for a McDonald’s remake without the guilt…or heart attack.

These add up to about 330 calories, which is about 100 cals less than McDonald’s. This is a little more than I normally like to have for breakfast during the week, but not unreasonable by any means. Plus, you know exactly what you’re eating with these homemade variety, whereas with McDonald’s who knows what you’re putting in your body. Not me. And I don’t really want to know. 
I like making my breakfast sandwiches with egg, cheese and any combination of ham, sausage or bacon. 
Ba-da-da-da-da…I’m lovin’ it! 
Bacon Egg and Cheese McMuffins
(Inspired by McDonald’s)
Makes 2 sandwiches
Ingredients:
2 biscuits
2 slices bacon (or more if desired)
2 eggs
2 ounces cheddar cheese, sliced
Pepper to taste
Directions:
1. Cook bacon according to package directions until crispy. 
2. While bacon is cooking, heat another skillet over medium-low heat. Add eggs to a small bowl and whisk. Pour into heated skillet. Let cook about one minute. Scrap spatula around the edges to loosen egg from the sides. Fold egg mixture in half on top of itself (like an omelet). Continue cooking another minute, flip and cook one more minute. Cut in egg mixture in half. Season with pepper. 
3. Split biscuits in half. Add half of the cooked egg to each biscuit, top with an ounce of the cheese, then bacon. Press down top half of biscuit. Serve immediately.

A Mexican Restaurant Review – Rio Grande

Back to the grind…in more ways than one! I’m starting off this week with an early morning teeth cleaning at the dentist. Ew. Ouch. Does anyone actually like the dentist? I mean, seriously, do dentists even like the dentist? I have to say, I think I have had some fairly decent dentists in my day. They do a decent job of making an uncomfortable experience bearable, but the six months between each visit always seems to go by way too quickly. 

It doesn’t help that I spend so much of my spare time baking and treating my teeth to their fair share of sugar. I really do brush all the time, and have gotten good about flossing too, but my teeth have also had their fair share of cavities. I don’t understand how it happens. I don’t know what more I can do. Hopefully today I will walk away cavity free. 
Was this teeth talk TMI? Sorry. 
Anywhoooo…Saturday night Greg and I made it back to Rio Grande, a Mexican (duh) restaurant nearby. 
For some reason, the margarita wasn’t as good as I remember from the first time we went. But I forgave them and enjoyed my meal anyway.

“Lite” Chicken Taco Salad for me. It was a tortilla shell bowl filled with refried beans, lettuce, tomato, grilled chicken, pepper, and a little fat-free cheese and sour cream. I was happy with my choice.

Greg had the Chicken Fajitas, which are always a winner. 
As I have found with most Mexican restaurants, the service here is fast and friendly. The chips and salsa are great, but I think they could work on the margs. And that’s an important component to a Mexican meal if you ask me.
Rio Grande on Urbanspoon

Sunday Blessings – Finding the Beauty

Wow, is it almost 4 o’clock already? Approaching dinnertime on a Sunday only means one thing…the weekend is almost over! Tear 😦

It’s been a good one and I hate to see it go. I much rather prefer being optimistic than pessimistic though, so here is a pleasant thought as the weekend wraps up:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9

Okay, okay. I know that the end of the weekend is nothing to be “terrified” about. Slightly discouraging maybe, but not terrifying. Regardless, people often complain of having “the case of the Mondays” on that first day back at work and dwell on the fact that it isn’t the weekend anymore. But God promises to be with us wherever we go and whenever we need him (and even when we don’t think we need him).

The start of the week is no different. It may be a time of readjusting to a busy schedule of workouts, office meetings, deadlines, etc., but think of how much harder it would be without God by our sides.

Sometimes we are forced to find the good in time and places we might not imagine possible. Like a car wash. Flowers, like my Valentine’s flowers still hanging on for dear life, are pretty without even trying. But a car wash isn’t something you would call “pretty,” right? 
Greg and I took my car to one of those drive-through washes at the gas station yesterday. I just had to get a picture of the “polish” that was sprayed all over my car. It was so pretty!
I wish it didn’t have to be washed off, although that would make it hard to see…
Anyway, my point is that I was definitely not expecting the five-minute wash to be anything “pretty.” Not that I was dreading it, but getting a car was is more of a chore than anything. Then the colorful spray/polish/whatever it was, came shooting out and I was like a kid in a candy store. 
It really wasn’t a big deal, but I thought it was fun and definitely made the car wash more exciting. 

Whether you are picking flowers or going through a car wash, whether you are enjoying a relaxing weekend or busy at work, God is with you and you can always find beauty in that.

Biscuits and Gravy

Saturday breakfast doesn’t get more Southern than biscuits and sausage gravy.

I never had this while growing up, but it’s not entirely my fault. I would bet to say most restaurants where I grew up didn’t have this on the menu, or maybe I was just too picky to notice. While eating out for breakfast, I probably ordered pancakes 99% of the time without even thinking twice.

Greg on the other hand is almost the opposite. He orders biscuits and gravy all. the. time. (as discussed here and here for example.) So it has definitely grown on me and worked its way into my diet as well.

I picked up the ingredients earlier this week and have been looking forward to making the Southern breakfast staple ever since.

I kept it simple when it came to the biscuits. I could have made them from scratch, but Pillsbury’s flaky biscuits are pretty darn good as it is. They were baked to golden perfection. I was very proud of them.

The gravy turned out a little thicker than I would ideally want, but still tasted amazing. I almost added spices to the gravy while it was cooking, but glad I decided to wait because the sausage itself was hot enough for me! Greg ended up adding hot sauce to his though. 

Just looking at this kindddd of makes me want to go for another run later.

But then I realize that’s just crazy talk. Weekends are meant for indulgent breakfasts anyway. Doughnuts last Saturday, Biscuits and Gravy this Saturday. What should be in line for next Saturday?
Biscuits and Spicy Sausage Gravy

Makes about 6-8 servings*

Ingredients:
8 biscuits (I used Pillsbury’s refrigerated Flaky Biscuits)
1 pound hot sausage roll
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk (I used skim)
Optional-
Pepper to taste
Hot sauce to taste

Directions:
1. Bake biscuits according to package directions, or prepare your own following recipe.
2. While biscuits are baking, heat medium-large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and continuously break-up meat into small crumbles using spatula.
3. When sausage is just about finished cooking, turn heat to low and add flour. Stir to coat. Slowly add milk, continuing to stir until thickened. Add pepper at this time if desired. Remove from heat.
4. Add biscuits to plates and top with desired amount of gravy (about 1/3-1/2 cup per biscuit).

*I halved the recipe for this post.

Roasted Vegetable Medley

With the start of Lent comes the start of meatless Fridays. Dinners like the Crock Pot Parmesan Chicken I shared the other day are going to be missed on Fridays, but that’s not to say dinner still can’t be delicious. Out with the meat, in with the extra veggies!

For me, a good meatless meal must include lots of vegetables to fill me up. Instead of replacing meat with carbs, vegetables add color and plenty of nutrition.

I don’t buy brussel sprouts often, I seem to forget how much I like them. But they are way up there on my list of favorite vegetables. I have already talked about that here, so we don’t have to talk about it again. 

In the past I have stuck to sauteing brussel sprouts (and most other veggies for that matter), but with proper planning for cooking time, roasting is the way to go…as proven by this meal. I roasted a variety of vegetables, added them to a pile of steamed brown rice, then topped the plate with black beans. 

Lots of colors, lots of flavors and lots of vegetarian yumminess. 
Happy Friday!
Roasted Vegetable Medley
Makes 2-3 servings
Ingredients:
4 cups brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
1/2 cup carrots, sliced
1/2 cup sliced onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2. Spread out all vegetables in an even layer on baking sheet. Brush olive oil across vegetables and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use a spatula to gently mix-up vegetables. Cover baking sheet with foil.
3. Roast 40-45 minutes, checking half way through to flip vegetables around. 
4. Remove from heat, add more salt and pepper to taste if needed, and serve immediately. 
Serving suggestion: Add to cooked rice, beans or pasta. 

Crock Pot Parmesan Chicken Pasta

So…I love chicken.

It is so versatile, healthy and just plain delicious. 
The best part about this chicken dish in particular is that it’s cooked in a crock pot. Throw it all in the pot in the morning and come home to hot and ready to eat dinner!
If you’re paranoid like me, you may spend the day at work praying your house isn’t burning down because the crock pot caught on fire. But when you get home and realize it’s perfectly safe and sound, AND the chicken looks like it does in these pictures, you may just jump for joy…literally.

The recipe calls for white wine, so I thought drinking a white wine along with the dish would compliment it well. But I love red wine too much so poured a glass of that as well. I took a sip of the white, but ended up drinking the red while Greg enjoyed the white. Fine with me. 

I really need to start using my crock pot more often. It is just too easy that I really don’t have an excuse not to.
Find the recipe for Jessica’s Crock Pot Parmesan Chicken here.  I halved the recipe and used broccoli as my vegetable of choice. It was the perfect amount for Greg and I, plus a small serving left over for lunch the next day. 
Today my chicken-loving self will have to go without chicken, or any meat for that matter, because of Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. Last year, I gave up meat altogether. It was tough, and I craved burgers more than anything. This year, I’ll be doing something different for Lent so I’ll only be a vegetarian on Fridays. That leaves six other days each week to cook some meaty recipes in the crock pot. I better get cookin’!

Doughnuts, Omelets and Pizza!

Wow. What a weekend. It started off with a quiet Friday night in with a Subway grilled chicken salad for dinner. The excitement really picked up on Saturday morning with these beauties…

After a long morning run, I headed downtown with Greg for the Southeastern Wildlife Expo. His company exhibits at the event and he had to work, so I figured I would tag along to explore my “wild” side, but more importantly do some shopping while I was down there (of course). 
I wasn’t about to miss out on breakfast from Glazed while I was in the area. You may remember my sister and I made our inaugural visit a few months ago and I have been looking forward to going back to try some different flavors. 

I was more than pleasantly surprised by the Strawberry Champagne. I figured it would be good, but didn’t expect it to be GREAT.

Don’t mind me. I’ll just be here expressing my love to the doughnut. Very normal.

Just look at that strawberry filling. It tasted so real and authentic. Glazed only uses natural ingredients and this doughnut is testimony to that. 
I also tried the Sweet Potato doughnut, which was delicious in its own right. I made sure to get some simple doughnut holes for Greg since he doesn’t get into any of the more exciting flavors. (Shhh don’t tell him they are actually called “Chinese 5 Spice” holes. The name might scare him off).
Glazed Gourmet on Urbanspoon
As if a breakfast like this wasn’t good enough for the weekend, Sunday started off just as great. 
After church Greg and I stopped by Triangle Char & Bar for their famous brunch. Locals talk about this place all the time, but we had never been. I knew it was popular, but I was shocked to see the restaurant already more than half-full by the time we arrived at 10:55am, five minutes before they are even scheduled to open!
You really can’t beat $1 mimosas. 

You all know how much I love pancakes, and it was definitely difficult to pass up the Toasted Pecan or Blueberry Pancakes. But I managed to convince myself a more healthful option would be just as good and opted for a vegetable omelet on the specials menu made with asparagus, red pepper, artichoke hearts and goat cheese. I loved that it came with fruit on the side by default; usually fruit is something extra you have to ask for. Greg ate most of the hash browns along with his main dish of Biscuits and Gravy.
The main reason we went to Triangle was because I had a gift card to use, but we will be back to spend money of our own too. The food was good, the mimosas were great and the atmosphere was fun. 
Triangle Char and Bar on Urbanspoon
I’m glad I made a healthy choice for brunch, because dinner was a different story.
The boy and I shared a large pepperoni, pineapple and onion pizza from Mellow Mushroom to make a great end to the weekend. 
Mellow Mushroom (Mt. Pleasant) on Urbanspoon
Now it’s time to get on with the workweek…