Low Carb Love!

The trees are finally blossoming outside my window, and the weather has been perfect for almost a whole week!  Hazel and I have spent a lot of time outside this weekend.  This particular weekend has been long, relaxing, and refreshing.
 The other day, my phone informed me that I had hit capacity in my photo albums.  I told David this, and he was shocked at how many picture I had.  To which I replied, "It isn't normal to take 10-15 pictures of your dog a day?"  To say I'm obsessed with my precious puppy, would be an understatement.  Below is the precious face she made at me that got her an afternoon walk :)
 I've mentioned another obsession of mine of the blog before, and that is any/ALL of Gina's recipes at Skinnytaste!  In fact, I have attempted to pre-order her cookbook, which I'm pretty sure hasn't even started printing yet!  As soon as she posted this recipe for Cauliflower "Fried" Rice, I knew I had to try it!  I did not vary from her recipe at all, and it turned out perfectly!  Below of some pictures of my final product.  Follow the link above for the recipe!
 To me, it tasted just like fried rice.  Now, I do love me some cauliflower, but I thought all of the flavors came together perfectly to hide it's taste.
 I can't wait to try some other "rice" recipes.  This is low carb love at it's finest!
What else do you do with cauliflower?
Have an amazing week!

Making a Home Pt. 1

Home is where the heart is right?  I agree.  Anywhere I'm with family, I'm at home.  However, there is something to be said for making your living space, homey and comfortable.  Ever since Pinterest came to be, I've been pinning my ideas for my future home onto several boards.  Bold bedrooms, kitchens, my personal space, man caves, kids rooms, backyards, porches, playrooms, family rooms-- I mean, you name it and I've pinned it!
We've been apartment living for sometime now.  When we got married, we knew we would be in this apartment for at least 2 years--not knowing where we would really end up after David finished law school.  We have the perfect amount of space for the two of us and Hazel.  And what I've really learned is how to embrace apartment life and make it a home.  Especially in the spaces of an apartment that are often overlooked.
With the fall, spring, and summer seasons rolling by, we have discovered how much we love our porch.  And we have definitely made the most of it.  Last year, while I was away on a trip with my grandma and mom, David surprised me by decorating our porch!  When I got home, he had repainted some of his grandparents rocking chairs, bought a small table, and hanging baskets.  We ate dinner on the porch that night and had the best time.  Over the next two weeks, we bought and painted pots for even more flowers.
Now that the weather is finally nice again, we are back outside.  We got a couple hanging baskets and flowers this weekend.  And we've been outside almost every second since!  It is the perfect place to read, talk, relax, and enjoy Saturday morning breakfasts together.  Plus Hazel really enjoys the outdoor family time :)
What are some ways that you make your house a home?

almond crusted chicken

I can't believe it's been a month since I last posted!  In the last month, tennis season started up, and I got a stomach bug.  It's been very eventful but has also kept me from branching out in the kitchen.  We've been eating lots of rotisserie chickens and frozen veggies lately.  We were both so busy last week, neither of us felt like going out for our standing Friday night date.  So I decided to cook something new!
Whenever we visit my parents, we usually eat at West Cobb Diner.  It popped up after I left high school, but it has become a staple in Kennesaw.  My favorite thing on the menu is Pecan Crusted Porkchops with blueberry chutney.  I always try to get someone at the table to split it with me.  It really got me thinking about using ground nuts as a coating in my cooking.  And as I've mentioned before, my first love is chicken fingers.  So it got me thinking that there had to be a way to combine these two things!
I googled many recipes and eventually pieced together my own.  It turned out to be amazing.  This recipe is 100% EASY!

Almond Crusted Chicken Tenders
Serves 4

2 lb chicken tenders
1 egg white, beaten
1 1/2 cup almonds, crushed/ground
1/2 flax meal
2 tbsp Parmesan, grated (more or less optional)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Preheat your oven at 350.  In a small bowl, beat the egg white.  In another bowl, mix all dry ingredients well.  Take chicken tenders, lightly brush in beaten egg and coat in dry mixture well.  Place them in a glass baking dish, covered in alumnium and sprayed with Pam.

Bake for 40 minutes and enjoy!

Chicken Soup

The weather has definitely messed with me! What about you? Everyone at school (kids and teachers) has been coming down with a nasty flu-like cold.  I thought I had kept myself healthy and free of it, and I was even bragging that I hadn't caught it! Which was probably my mistake!  It hit me like a ton of bricks Wednesday morning.  I have truly done nothing but go to work, coach, and sleep.  I needed this weekend badly!  Fortunately, I have my trusty sidekick to keep me warm as I get some work accomplished!
I have been eating soup for supper since I got sick, and there is truly nothing better than a good chicken soup!  I turned my nose up to it for so long.  My mama would always recommend it at our local La Parillia (only the best Mexican in all of Kennesaw and maybe the world). I finally tried it out around Thanksgiving, and I have never looked back! My life was seriously changed.  Moms are always right aren't they? After I made it the first time, David requested I put it on our regular rotation!  So I must have done something right!
I promise this soup will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  It is perfect for all seasons because of its flavor and warmth!
Chicken Soup

4 cups chicken, shredded
1 large tomato, diced
1 can Hunt's fire roasted tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 cups green onions
1/2 of a zucchini, very thinly sliced
1 tsp garlic
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2-48oz boxes chicken broth, fat free
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 tbsp olive oil
Avocados
Limes
Boil a few chicken breasts for about 20-25 minutes until cooked through.  While the chicken is cooking, warm up the olive oil.  Stir in the green onions and garlic, and sauté for a few minutes.  Then stir in all tomatoes, zucchini, cumin, salt, and pepper and allow them to soften for a few more minutes. Pour chicken broth in and bring to a boil.  Then simmer for 20 minutes.

Once the chicken has finished boiling, shredd it.  Put it in the bottom of the bowls you will be serving.  Then add cilantro and diced avocado to you liking.  Pour soup over the top and ENJOY!!

Cinnamon Nut Bars

Snow Jam 2014 did not affect us the same way it did Atlanta, but we did get about 2 inches of snow that was perfect for playing! It was Hazel's first snow, and she loved it!  So before I get to my newest yummy treat, here are some of my favorite pictures from the Athens, GA version of Snow Jam. 
To say that Hazel loved the snow would be an understatement! At first it was too cold for her to play, but once she warmed up, there was no stopping the fun!  I've been enjoying a couple snow days at home, which has given me the perfect opportunity to try something new! I have spent lots of time on the meal replacement bar isle in the grocery store.  To be honest, no bar is perfect.  They either have too much fat, calories, or sugar.  While many of them claim to be all protein, they have a lot of other things hidden in them.  

My favorite kind of meal replacement/snack bars are nut bars.  To make some of my own, I pulled together every type of nut and seed in my house, tossed them in a bag with some cinnamon and Splenda, and magic happened!  My snack bars turned out so good, David requested I never buy bars from the store again!  These are so easy to make and you can mix up the flavors with new ingredients every time you make them!  Below, I give my recipe and list some alternative ingredients in case you flavor palette is different from mine.

Cinnamon Nut Bars

1 cup crushed roasted almonds, no salt
1 cup roasted peanuts, no salt
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup rolled oats, plain
1/2 cup pecans
2 tbsp cinnamon
2 tbsp Splenda (or your favorite sweetener)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup honey
Dash of vanilla
Optional:
Dried fruit
Chocolate pieces
Sunflower seeds
Walnuts
Macadamia Nuts
Flaked coconut

Preheat your oven to 350.  Mix all the dry ingredients together, then add honey and vanilla.  Mix well with a rubber spatula to ensure the honey and vanilla coat all the ingredients. Once combined, pour the mixture out on parchment paper and firmly press it down to form a large rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Once it has finished baking, take it out of the oven and allow it to cool for at least 30 minutes. The large bar may seem a little soft when it first comes out, but allowing it to cool will make it firm.  Once it has cooled, cut the large bar down the center through the length of the bar. Then, cut each section at 1.5 inch intervals to form individual bars. Each bar should be about 5 x 1.5 inches. Enjoy!

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup (no cream/dairy-free)

It is extremely cold outside, so in my world, that calls for soup.  While I love a good can of soup, I have grown to love making it.  My mama was telling me about an amazing tomato soup she had eaten several nights before, and once she said it, I had to have it.  I wanted to make sure it was truly healthy, meaning no cream!  I also wanted it to be dairy-free.  I came across several different recipes and put something really good together! It tastes even better without the cream!
Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
Makes 8 servings
4 cups roasted cherry tomatoes
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tbsp fresh basil
1 tsp Italian seasoning 
2 cans low sodium diced tomatoes
6 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons garlic salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 sweet onion, diced
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Pepper
Parmesan to top soup

Cover the cherry tomatoes lightly in olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Roast them at 400 for 20-25 minutes.

Heat up about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot.  Once warm, add diced onion and garlic to pot and sauté for 3-4 minutes.  Add in the roasted tomatoes and stir.  Now, add chicken broth, garlic salt, garlic powder, basil, canned tomatoes, and Italian seasoning.  Stir and bring to a boil. 

Once boiling, bring back down to a simmer and cover for 25 minutes.  Using an immersion blender, purée the soup to the consistency of your liking and enjoy!

spinach-cauliflower pizza crust

When David and I starting dating I was convinced he wouldn't like dating me. I didn't like going to the same kind of restaurants he did. David has a much greater appreciation for food than me.  In that time of my life my food groups consisted of chicken nuggets/tenders, mac and cheese, and Lean Cuisines.  Obviously, I was really sophisticated.  Since we've been together, he has convinced me to broadened my horizons.  I have even tried fish and liked it!  

That's why I think he's shocked when I tell him what's for dinner sometimes.  I think he's wondering what happened to his chicken nugget eater.  After we ate spaghetti the other night, I had plenty of leftover marinara.  I thought it would taste so good on pizza.  Once I thought about pizza, I had to have it.  I had seen a very popular pin on Pinterest for mini cauliflower pizzas.  Of course, it called for bread crumbs.  So I decided to get inventive.  And I came up with spinach-cauliflower mini pizzas.
I was facetiming with a friend when my test crust came out.  I showed it to her, and even I was skeptical.  I mean, it didn't really look like typical pizza crust.  But when I tasted it, the flavor and consistency was perfect for pizza!
So without further ado...

Spinach-Cauliflower Mini Pizzas

1 bag frozen cauliflower
1 package frozen chopped spinach
1/2 ground flax seed meal
1 tbsp and 1 tsp chia seeds (optional)
1/4 cup skim milk mozzarella 
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 egg and 1 egg white

Toppings
Marinara
Pesto
Chicken
Turkey pepperoni
Tomato
Basil

Roast cauliflower at 350 for 20-25 minutes, and cook spinach.  Once the spinach is cooked, press the excess water out and set aside.
After the cauliflower is roasted, turn the oven up to 425. In a large bowl, rice the cauliflower and mix in the spinach.  Coat mixture in beaten eggs and then add the rest of the ingredients evenly.  Using either a slipmat or parchment paper, make small balls out of the mixture and flatten them out. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until edges are browned.
Once your crusts have cooked, add your toppings and broil them for about five minutes!  
We tried pesto pizzas with tomato, mozzarella, basil, and chicken.  And also, traditional pepperoni pizzas with marinara and mozzarella!