Weekend in Orlando

ORLANDO.
Last weekend Greg and I took a road trip to Orlando to visit my sister Brooke and our grandparents. The six hour drive is short enough to make for an easy weekend trip, but long enough that we don’t get to do it nearly enough. Brooke, my “sista hood of the traveling pants,” is my best friend and we always make the most of our time together. 
We started the weekend off on the right foot by taking a group trip to the gym. Brooke shook her booty off in Zumba, something I’ve tried and failed at before, so I hit the treadmill. As boring as treadmills can be sometimes, being in a new environment automatically makes the time fly by more quickly for me. Even if I am just staring out a window.

The rest of the days were spent lounging by the pool, enjoying my grandma’s delicious meals, and visiting SeaWorld. We decided to be adventurous at the Shamu show and sat in the Soak Zone. Soaked just about sums it up!

Our nights consisted of many-a-margarita from our favorite place, Agave Azul. Brooke has become a regular there, probably their favorite customer I would guess, so we always get the hook-up from the bartenders. 

We also grabbed a glass of wine and some flatbreads from Eola Wine Company in Winter Park one night. It was my first time in Winter Park and I loved it. It’s a cute area with lots of shops and restaurants that I would love to try in the future.

As always, the weekend went by a little too fast, but we had a great mini-vacation. Now I’m looking forward to another long weekend ahead, staying in town this time, with the 4th of July on Friday. Fireworksss!
Thank you Brooke, GG and Paw Paw for the hospitality! xoxo
What was the highlight of your weekend?
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{Award-Winning} Spicy Chicken Fiesta & A $250 Gift Card GIVEAWAY!

Welcome to a new week! A weekend with almost no set plans sure can be refreshing and I’m ready to rock this week. 
Like I told you on Friday, I participated in Food Lion’s Frugal Cook-Off and was the co-winner of the competition. My partner Valerie and I created a spicy Mexican meal consisting of seasoned and lightly sauteed chicken breasts with a yogurt sauce, simple rice and red beans, and a vegetable saute of corn, onion and bell pepper. 
Without further ado, here are the recipes for our meal…(hint: you have to scroll all the way to the bottom for the giveaway!)
{Award-Winning} Spicy Chicken Fiesta

Created exclusively for Food Lion’s Frugal Cook-Off Charleston 2014

Makes 4 large servings
Cost of meal: (not including chicken and spices) $12.98

For the Spicy Chicken Breasts
Ingredients:
1 pound chicken breast
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons pepper
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon, additional lemon slices for serving if desired
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped scallions 

Directions:
Add olive oil to a large skillet and heat on stovetop over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, add seasonings to a small or medium bowl and stir to combine. One at a time lay chicken breasts in the bowl to coat evenly with the seasonings. Flip to coat both sides. When oil in skillet is hot, add all chicken breasts in the skillet in an even layer. Cook about 6-8 minutes on medium heat. Turn over and continue cooking another 6-8 minutes or until cooked through. Lightly squeeze half of the lemon over top of the chicken breasts. 

Remove chicken from heat and place on baking sheet. Sprinkle each piece of chicken with about 1/4 cup shredded cheese. Place in oven heated to 300 degrees for 2-4 minutes or until cheese just starts to melt. Remove from oven and serve overtop of rice and beans, along with spicy Greek yogurt (recipes below). Garnish each piece of chicken with about 2 tablespoons of the chopped scallions. 

For the Rice and Beans
Ingredients:
3 cups dry white rice
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoon cayenne pepper

Directions:
Prepare rice on stovetop according to package directions. When almost finished cooking, add kidney beans and seasonings to the pan. Stir well. Cook on low for another 5-6 minutes, until heated through. Remove from heat and serve. 


For the Vegetable Sauté
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 10-ounce bag frozen corn kernels 
1 medium yellow onion, sliced and roughly chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, sliced and roughly chopped
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:
Add olive oil to a large skillet and place on stovetop over medium heat. Once hot, add all ingredients and stir to combine. Stir occasionally while letting cook for 8-10 minutes or until vegetables become tender and start turning brown. Remove from heat and serve. 

For the Spicy Greek Yogurt Sauce
Ingredients:
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well to combine. Serve alongside or on top of Spicy Chicken Breasts. 
*Optional: serve the meal with chopped romaine and a lemon wedge for garnish


GIVEAWAY 


Food Lion was so generous and awarded me with two $250 gift cards! One for me and one for YOU! I very much wanted to put this to the best use. I was thinking for a long time how I could give this gift card to someone who truly needed it. However, I wanted to do something nice for you as well. I ultimately came up with a compromise and decided to do a regular giveaway for you, then pay if forward with the other card. After going through the check-out line with groceries for Greg and I, I handed the card to the person in line behind us so she could use the balance for herself. 

Whoever wins, I hope you will consider doing the same, or using the card in a way that will impact others. However, it is completely up to you how you use it.

Enter the giveaway by doing the actions below: 

**Giveaway ends Sunday, March 2nd at 12:00am**Winner will be announced Monday, March 3rd**

Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off Charleston

This week I was given the honor of participating in Food Lion’s Frugal Cook-Off here in Charleston. Myself along with seven other local bloggers gathered at Charleston Cooks! downtown to cook a meal for four with a randomly assigned partner, using a randomly assigned meat, and only $15 (fake) dollars to shop for our ingredients. We had 45 minutes to cook, but who’s counting. Ha!

First let me tell you how lucky I was to be paired with the ever-so talented Valerie, blogger at LiveFit Journey. Although I had never read her blog before, I looked it up first thing upon getting home that night and was instantly even more inspired than when I was cooking in the kitchen with her. Not only is she extremely fit, she shares her workouts and clean eating tips on her blog, and she has started her own non-profit to fight childhood obesity called Generation Healthy Kids. So amazing! When Valerie said she is originally from Ohio just like me, I knew it was fate.

The other bloggers and I spent the first part of the evening mingling and getting to know each other. It’s always so nice to connect in person with people you normally only get to “see” online. The networking alone could have lasted the whole night. But there was cooking to do!

Each team stepped up to the front of the kitchen one at a time to select their meat. The plates were covered, so we didn’t know what we were choosing. Valerie and I were the last to choose and somehow, by the grace of God, revealed a plate of chicken breasts. The other options were tilapia, pork, and ground turkey. I feel most comfortable cooking with chicken by far, so to say I was relieved is an understatement.

The “pantry” was stocked with produce and Food Lion products including the “My Essentials” brand, one of the many private labels Food Lion carries. I have hardly ever shopped at Food Lion, so I was impressed with the quality of produce and store brand products they offer.

Valerie and I quickly decided on a Mexican theme dish. Tacos wouldn’t work because we didn’t have tortillas available. Instead, we lightly sautéed the chicken breasts after seasoning with a variety of spices and served it over rice and beans. For another side dish, we made a veggie saute with corn, bell pepper and onion. Valerie had the idea to create a healthier “sour cream” with spices stirred into Greek yogurt. #loveitsomuch

After the fastest 45 minutes of my life, we managed to plate a complete, colorful, balanced meal to present to the judges. I seriously felt like I was on Chopped, adding the food and garnishes to the plates while the last few seconds ticked away on the clock.

Everyone’s dishes looked very tasty, especially considering I had worked up a giant appetite from the fast-paced competition. The other meals were Greek Turkey Meatballs, Herb Crusted Pork Chops, and Crispy Greek Tilapia. (I will link up to the recipes when their available.)

The three judges rated each dish on presentation, taste, and most bang-for-your-buck. Then the winners were announced…

Hey, that’s me!

Yup, Valerie and I won!!!!! I may or may not have been on a winner’s high for the next hour…or two. My inner-competitiveness, which doesn’t come out too often, was thrilled and honored to be a part of this competition in the first place. To be part of the winning pair was a great feeling. As much fun as the cooking competition was, the other bloggers and the Food Lion team are really what made the night so wonderful.

Next week I will share the winning recipes with you, along with more pictures and a unique giveaway opportunity.

In the meantime click here to view the teaser video to see us in action. Don’t laugh 🙂

Finally, please take some time to check out these blogs by my fellow competitors! They are all Charlestonians and blog about everything from food and family to crafts and fitness.

Fried Green Pickles by Megan

Charleston Treasures by Lisa

LiveFit Journey by Valerie

Local Goodness by Jessica

Queen of the Food Age by Sydney

The Perks by Katie

Recent Somethings by Shelby

Thank you to Food Lion for the opportunity to be a part of this night, and for all of the goodies including Food Lion gift cards and a grocery bag full of cooking essentials and treats!

#FrugalCookOff


Chicken Fajita Chowder

For someone like myself who lives and breathes by lists and schedules, the past week or two have felt very scattered. I can’t seem to get in a solid routine, but somehow I’m managing just fine. Turns out maybe an unorganized life is good for the soul every now and then.

My blog posting has been off for a couple of days and I’m quickly trying to play catch-up. I feel like I say that all the time, but…real life beats internet life when it’s all said and done. Hashtag sorry I’m not sorry.

My mom and step-dad were in town this past weekend, and I had the day off of work Monday for Presidents’ Day. My days are still thrown off from the long weekend, and with a few after-work events this week, it’s not about to slow down.

One of these events is a cook-off hosted by Food Lion tonight. This experience will be completely new to me and I’m fairly anxious about the whole idea of it. I’m trying not to think or worry too much right now and go with the flow of things when I arrive. I’ll be posting more about that after the competition though. Pray for my cooking skills and knowledge to shine as much as possible!

A lot of the ingredients and rules of the competition are still unknown, but if I get a chance to make this fajita chowder, you can bet I will. I would put money on this any day. 
Between the nutty brown rice, tender vegetables, chunks of chicken and crusty bread for scooping, a bowl of this will leave you, well, wanting another bowl. 
Fun fact – This was the first time I have cooked with chicken since I transitioned to a heavily plant-based diet almost two years ago. In case you’re wondering, I do still eat meat occasionally, but mostly only while eating out if the vegetarian options on a menu don’t appeal to me. I can’t handle meat in as large of portions as normally served though. It just doesn’t sit well with my stomach. A few chunks of chicken throughout these bowls was just enough. 

Chicken Fajita Chowder
(Adapted from Taste of Home, February-March 2011)

Makes about 6 servings

Ingredients:
1/2 pound chicken
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 medium yellow onion
1 jalapeno
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup brown rice
2 cups corn kernels
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
A few strong shakes of Tabasco
1 cup enchilada sauce
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese

Directions:
1. Add olive oil to a large, deep skillet on a stovetop over medium-low heat.
2. Once hot, add chicken, bell peppers, onion and jalapeno. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
3. Add vegetable broth, dry rice, corn, seasonings, hot sauce and enchilada sauce. Bring to a simmer, turn heat to low, cover and cook for about 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add about half of the shredded cheese and gently stir to incorporate. Spoon into serving bowls and top with additional shredded cheese as desired.

Weekend Eats 3-18-13

First things first – Wedding Day is two. months. away. Ah!!!!!! alkfjsdlfjsldfjsdlfjsd!!!!!

Okay, now that I got some excitement out of my system, here’s the tasty food I ate all weekend.

Saturday:

Greg and I met some friends on Sullivan’s Island for (pre) St. Patrick’s Day festivities. After standing around outside in the gorgeous weather for most of the afternoon, our appetites were raging…even more so than I realized. We grabbed dinner from Taco Mamacita, yet another new-to-me restaurant (third one in a week!).

taco mamacita
I had one black bean taco and one blackened mahi taco with Mexican Street Corn on the side. Ummmm….yeah. It was ah-maze-ing. I practically inhaled the tacos. 
Greg had sweet potato fries as his side dish. We ended up splitting our sides, because the fries were sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and I simply could not resist. 

Sunday:
pancakes
Brunch at Triangle. Duh. Blueberry pancakes for me!
Anndddd some coffee.
coffee
I made sure to fit my veggies into the day with a big bowl of shredded brussel sprouts, onion, bell pepper, zucchini and broccoli sauteed in chicken broth for din din. I topped it all off with a little crumbed goat cheese. 
photo 2
What was the tastiest thing you ate this weekend?

Tempeh and Cheese Enchiladas

IMG_6320
Two weekends ago, Greg and I went to New Orleans for our good friends’ wedding. We had an awesome time celebrating – Congrats Lauren and Sam!! Sorry I’m a little late with the shout out 😉
I managed to fit in just about all of the different traditional Creole cuisine like crawfish etouffee, jambalaya, pralines and beignets. Oh yeah, and some king cake!
IMG_6317
Last week I felt like I was playing catch-up in all areas of my life, but I feel much better now that I’m back in the swing of things. Eating well, exercising, spending quality time with Greg and Zoey, planning dates with my girlfriends and not to mention feeling a surge of blogging energy! I haven’t been able to keep to a set schedule for more than two consecutive days since before the holidays so I’m looking forward to buckling down because in less than four months I’ll be getting married myself! The craziness is only going to get crazier.
Cheesy enchiladas are not necessarily helping my future wedding bod, but they’re not too harmful either. These make a great “fake-out” indulgent meal without actually indulging. It’s a comfort food you can feel good about and still not feel guilty eating dessert afterwards (as if we ever feel guilty eating dessert around here).
IMG_6316
I went through few different stages throughout cooking this meal. I want to make sure you know how I felt so you don’t worry if the same thing happens to you…specifically referring to #2:
1. {The thought enters my mind.} Ohhh. Tempeh enchiladas with sauce and cheese?? That sounds really good. 
2. {I add the enchilada sauce and cheese to the tempeh as it’s cooking and begin to stir.} Uh oh. What am I doing? This does not look appetizing. But I’m so hungry and I just want to eatttt. Please, oh please taste better than you look, Ugly Mush Concoction. 
3. {I poke a fork into the mixture for a tiny taste.} Okay so all might not be lost. I think this actually might turn out pretty well.
4.{The enchiladas are plated, photographed and demolished.} Yup. Uh-huh. That was good. Really good. A vegetarian meal Greg liked too? Success!

Moral of the story? Don’t let the looks of the tempeh mixture deceive you. I’m warning you it’s not the prettiest thing, but once it’s wrapped inside the tortillas you won’t even remember how weird it once looked. All you’ll be thinking is how good it tastes on your tongue. 

IMG_6309
If I haven’t scared you off by this point, here’s the recipe!
Tempeh and Cheese Enchiladas 

Makes 4 medium enchiladas 
Ingredients:
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1-8ounce package tempeh, crumbled (easiest way to do this is in a food processor)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 cup canned enchilada sauce, divided
1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese, divided
4 tortillas (I used whole wheat) 
1/3 of a whole green bell pepper, sliced
1/3 of a whole yellow onion, sliced
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a square cooking pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
2. Place olive oil in a large skillet on the stove top and turn to medium heat. Once hot, add crumbled tempeh and cook through while stirring constantly, about 5-7 minutes. Tempeh will become golden brown. Add chili powder, cayenne pepper, pepper, and garlic salt to the pan and stir. Add about 1/3 cup of the enchilada sauce and about 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese. Stir well to evenly distribute all ingredients.
3. Lay out the tortillas in the baking pan. Use a spoon or spatula to place a quarter of the tempeh mixture into each tortilla and roll tightly. Top each with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese. Then top with peppers and onions.
4. Bake 12-15 minutes or until cheese is sizzling and tortillas are golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit about 5-10 minutes to cool before serving.

Weekend in Atlanta

Greg and I left right after work on Friday evening for a weekend adventure in Atlanta. Besides the airport and driving through on my way other places, this has actually been my very first time visiting the city. We were mostly coming for one of Greg’s client’s wedding, but it also gave us a good reason to visit other friends and explore.

I somehow managed to sleep in until after 9am yesterday, something I haven’t done in months. By the time we showered and made breakfast, we headed out for what was a beautiful day. First, we went to the Georgia Aquarium. By the time we left, lunch was calling our names. After a quick search on Urban Spoon, we found Googie Burger, a relatively cheap fast-casual burger spot in the middle of a park. 

Greg got a double Googie Burger with fries and I had the Veg Out Burger (black bean patty and veggies) with a vanilla milkshake.

Can you say, “Yum!”?? This lunch hit the spot. 
Googie Burger on Urbanspoon
After the food, we were refueled and ready for the next tourist attraction- CNN Headquarters. We took a behind the scenes tour of the building and got to see some pretty interesting things. If you are ever in Atlanta and haven’t done so already, I would suggest this tour! Very cool.
Next up it was time for the wedding. It was a quick but beautiful ceremony. I have a different perspective of weddings now that I have my own wedding to plan 🙂 
We grabbed a few light snacks during the casual reception, but were trying to save up for dinner with our friends. We didn’t quite save enough room though and decided to split a quesadilla for dinner from Cinco

We also sucked down some frozen strawberry margaritas. Combined with the chips, salsa and guacamole, this spread was perfect. 
Cinco Mexican Cantina on Urbanspoon
We finished off the night with frozen yogurt. It never gets old!
Today Greg and I face reality and have to deal with some car trouble. We are taking his car to a shop first thing (thankfully we found ONE car repair shop open on a Sunday) and trying to get on the road back to Charleston soon. Pray the flashing lights aren’t indicating anything too serious!
I hope you all are having a great weekend!