Friday, May 3, 2019

Shrimp and Avocado Salad


Over the past week has definitely been a busy one. My grandma underwent knee replacement surgery, so the kids and I have been staying with her and helping her recover. She's doing freaking amazing though. I'm so thrilled with how fast she's healing. I keep joking that she's going to be running a marathon in a week because of how fast she's been moving around the house.

My girlfriend Sarah posted a similar recipe for this dish online that showed a video, but of course, I just winged it and made my own, not looking at the recipe and this came out AMAZING!!!!! I of course made enough for a small army, but hey, would you expect anything less coming from me when I cook? Those of you who have eaten at my house know that when I cook it's GO BIG or GO HOME! I love love love entertaining and giving people the gift of good food to nourish their bodies..... this was definitely a good nourishing meal. I probably could've eaten 2 bowls and if you want to be bad, but can totally eat this with chips, but I just ate this as is....

I know. I know. You're waiting for the recipe.... Here it is y'all.... Get ready for it.....

Shrimp and Avocado Salad

Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs large shrimp, peeled, deveined and cut into thirds
  • 1 English cucumber, sliced in quarters
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 4 avocados, cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, minced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 2  tbs. chili powder, divided
  • 1 tbs. cumin, divided
  • 1 tsp. Himalayan salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 4 limes, juiced

Instructions:
In a medium sized bowl, place shrimp, 1 tablespoon of chili powder, 1/2 tablespoon cumin, olive oil, salt and pepper and mix until the seasoning is well incorporated into the shrimp. In a large skillet warm to medium high heat and toss shrimp into pan and cook until no longer translucent.

While shrimp is cooking, place the remaining ingredients to a large bowl except for the avocados (I like to add these last so they don't get too mushy).  When shrimp has finished cooking, cool slightly for 10-15 minutes and add to the bowl. Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste. After you have mixed everything, add in the avocados and give it one more mix and Viola!!!!! Scrumptious, Yummy Salad!!!! 

Feel Free to enjoy this salad as is, or with chips. It's delicious either way. 




Friday, March 1, 2019

Steak Oscar for Two





This dish right here is truly one of my specialties. I love making this dish. If it’s for Jacks Birthday, Valentine’s Day, or just because we want something fancy. Usually I just do the Filet with shrimp or lobster and topped with holandaise and asparagus, but this Valentine’s Day I decided to elevate my recipe a little more and try something new and this is what I came up with. I hope you all enjoy and if you have someone special, try it! 


Steak Oscar for Two

 

Ingredients:

 

For the Steak:

2 Filet Mignon Steaks

1 tbs. Himalayan Salt

3 tbs. fresh cracked black pepper

2 tbs. avocado oil

 

For the Hollandaise:

2 egg yolks

1 stick butter

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Dash of fresh tarragon minced

 

For the Crab Cakes:

1 Dungeness crab shelled, and cartilage removed

1 tbs. fresh lemon juice

1 egg

1 tsp. himilayan salt

1 ½ tsp. cracked black pepper

1 tbs. fresh parsley, finely minced

½ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

½ tsp. Old Bay Seasoning

1 tsp. avocado oil

 

For the Shrimp:

4 Extra Large Shrimp, peeled, deveined, with tails attatched

1 tsp. Himilayan Salt

1 ½ tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp avocado oil

 

For Asparagus:

1 lb. fresh asparagus

¼ cup unsalted butter

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

First things first, preheat oven to 500 with a large cast-iron skillet in the oven. Trust me on this one… Your filet will cook to a perfect Medium Rare every time!!! Trust me on this one!!!! This Alton Brown method is full proof!!!! I never do steak any other way!  While your pan is pre-heating in the oven, you’re going to prep the rest of your ingredients. As well as preheating the oven, you’re going to preheat a small saucepan and fill it halfway with water and turn on medium heat because you want the water boiling by the time it’s time to whip together that beautiful hollandaise sauce. 

 

First, the crab cakes. The crabcakes are so simple. In a small bowl (I usually just crack the crab meat into one bowl and then I do a quick once over with my hands and make sure I didn’t miss any pieces of shell or cartilage cause let’s face it, no one wants to sink their teeth into a hard piece of shell). In the same bowl, add your egg, parmesan, lemon, salt, pepper, and parsley, now gently mix the ingredients together with a fork until the egg and parmesan have blended together well. If your crab mixture seems too wet, add another ¼ cup of parmesan cheese. Scoop two heaping spoonfuls of the crab mixture into your hand and gently form a patty in between your two hands…. Next we’re going to cook this craby goodness….. In a skillet over medium heat, heat the avocado oil and place each crab cake until golden brown on each side, about 5 minutes each.  Set crab cakes aside.

 

Next is the shrimp. In the same pan you cooked the crab cakes in, if you need more oil, add the additional avocado oil, if not, go ahead and omit. Crank that heat up to medium high heat. Lightly toss the shrimp with the paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Grill shrimp on both sides until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes on both sides. 

 

Your next step is that glorious meat. Freshly crack the salt and pepper directly onto a wood cutting board and gently roll the meat on all sides into the seasonings so your meat picks up the seasonings on all sides. Do this with both pieces of Filet Mignon. Let it sit for 10 minutes so it can soak in those seasonings. While the meat is soaking in those seasonings, carefully remove your large cast-iron out of the oven and you’re going to put it on the stove and turn the stove on HIGH heat. You want the pan to be at 500 degree heat on the stove as well. Lightly oil your pan with avocado oil and place the filet’s directly into the pan. Do not walk away. You’re going to want to time this closely 1 minute and 30 seconds on the first side. Flip that meat and cook for another 1 minute and 30 seconds on the other side. Flip again. Place in the oven. Time for 45 seconds and flip your meat one more time and time for 45 seconds. Remove your meat from oven and remove from pan to rest for 10 minutes on a plate or cutting board.

 

While your meat is resting you’re going to cook your asparagus and hollandaise. In a large skillet, melt butter and place your asparagus in pan over medium high heat. The asparagus should take just about as long as the hollandaise takes to whip up.

 

Last but not least, the buttery richness of that beautiful hollandaise. This is where you get an arm workout while you’re cooking. In a metal bowl, place your two egg yolks Next, using a whisk, you’re going to whip those eggs for 30 seconds above the pan with the water, 30 seconds off the pan, 30 seconds above, 30 seconds off. You will see your eggs will start to turn a rich golden yellow color and start to thicken. This is when you add a little bit of the butter and continue to whip 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off, add more butter and continue the 30 seconds on/off method until you’ve added all of the butter, then finish off with the lemon, salt, pepper, and fresh tarragon. 

 

For the assembly, place the filet on the plate first.  Place 5 asparagus spears to the left of the filet. Next drizzle the hollandaise over the filet, top with crab cake, finish by criss-crossing the shrimp on top of the hollandaise and I lightly stuck a piece of parsley in between the two pieces of shrimp for garnish. Next, served to your loved ones and watch them enjoy this lovely meal. 




Wednesday, February 13, 2019

My Love of Books 2019



Books upon Books upon Books...... I use to be one of those who would start a book and then would never finish it and then start another book and never finish it. The only book I had ever read fully through, which is actually surprising because it's a quite long one is Gone with the Wind, which turns out happens to also be my ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOK and ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIE!!!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! I've actually read a handful of times and every time I read it, it captures me, just as it had the very first time I read it, through every page, through every chapter....

So this year,  I decided to try audibles because life with three kids, therapies, appointments, homeschool classes, sports, etc, I'm in the car  A LOT!!!!! So, I decided to give it a go and try some Audible Books, and I love them and the kids love them, so I actually let them pick some books out too. Here are the ones we have read already and I'll keep adding as we go through the year. and if you'd like more info on the books, just let me know.

Please keep in mind some of these are kid books too, but they wanted me to borrow these to listen to the Audible, which they have a new love of listening to audibles in the car as well. Nicholas is super into history.

1. The Life- Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
2. U.S. Constitution by iMinds (Nicholas picked this)
3. Whiskey In my Teacup by Reese Witherspoon
4. You are a Badass by Jen Sincero
5. Enjoy Every Sandwich by Lee Lipsenthal, M.D.
6. Magic Tree House Collection Books  1-8 by Marie Pope Osborne (Kids Pick)
7. Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (Brooklyn's pick)
8. We Love Each Other, But by Dr. Ellen Wachtel
9. Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle (currently reading)
10. Area 51 An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base by Anne Jacobsen (Nicholas' current Pick)



When life gives you lemons.



When life gives you lemons.... and lemons... and more lemons.... and even more.... I should really have opened a lemonade shop.... Sometimes there are things in life that happen.... Sometimes we feel as if we're drowning. Sometimes we feel as if things could not possibly get any worse and then whack something else happens, but hey that's life right... I just have to smile and endure. Endure every obstacle, endure every hardship, endure every small, mediocre or huge thing that may come my way... that may come our way.... My husband and I have built our family together and not everyday has been easy. We may look all sunshine and roses on the surface, but that's the surface, underneath that is the grit.... that true grit that has made us stronger and who we are as a couple. We are unstoppable..... Lemons have truly come our way.... With our children, sometimes with our marriage, with our house, but we smile, we endure, we pray and we look for the brighter days because we know that together as a family, that's all that matters. The kids are going to remember the memories we build for them so we are building freaking OUTSTANDING memories that they will remember forever.... Weekend Pajama days where we build a movie theater in the living room and just relax all day, pop popcorn and just relax....

So with every Lemon that may be thrown our way, we got this.... I really gotta teach the kids to make Lemonade.... LOL

Distance....




Sometimes I distance myself.... to something that feels real, to something that is unknown, to something that is me. I distance myself when I feel lost, I distance myself to escape, I distance myself when I'm crying out.... and when I distance myself I am not my true me.... When I distance myself it's because I need to work on bettering what's going on internally with me, so I seek out personal development... I have grown a true love of audibles.... I think 2019 is my year of Audible books...  I will do another posting about those and update it as the year progresses.... 

I completely shut off from my blog. For a few reasons honestly... A few very personal reasons and some out laziness I guess and focus on other things, but I don't want to get into all that with y'all and bore you with all the details, so let's just say I'm back and I'm ready to accomplish those goals I have. I have a lot of catching up to do to reach my goals, but I know I can do this.  

Just get ready y'all!!! I'm comin' for ya!!! Get ready for the Blog Catch Up!!!! 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Saturday Mornings are for..... WAFFLES!!!!



Saturday Mornings are the best. The days the kids sleep in, the days for morning snuggles, the mornings for morning cartoons together, the mornings for special breakfast requests because we have those extra moments together. Saturday mornings are the moments of endless possibilities. Saturday mornings are when anything is possible... Some Saturdays may be as simple as pancakes or waffles and then there will be some complex Saturdays with some homemade eggs Benedict and you know I can never refuse to put my own little twist on it so we've pretty much tried them all from traditional Benedict's to crab, shrimp, lobster, spinach, asparagus..... oh yea, we're talking about WAFFLES today... Sorry, I get a little carried away when I start thinking about Benedict and what goes into making that buttery succulent Hollandaise sauce... Thinking about it just makes my mouth water.....

So for Waffles... Waffles are always so much fun to make. I have definitely been creative with waffles for my kids, from the traditional Belgian Waffles, to even Pizza Waffles... yes, you heard me right! I have made freaking Pizza Waffles! Those were actually so much fun to make! I had my SIL, bestie and her hubby over for dinner and we decided to do a dinner waffle bar of pizza waffles with Marinara dipping sauce... We got to build our own and we had a crazy amount of toppings. It was so much fun! I may have to try it again and post a recipe here because I think we made them and ate them so fast that none of us even got pictures of them!!! For Shame I tell ya!!!! 

Well, this morning, I wanted to make a waffle that was good and healthier also for the kids and Jack since we're trying to eat better, so I was determined to come up with something and the thing I came up with was freaking amazing. The kids loved them and I don't think we even had any leftovers!!!! 

The best part of waffles is I get the best little helper in the kitchen....


Keto Waffles
Ingredients:
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons butter,  melted
Directions:

Preheat Waffle Iron and adjust temperature to preferred doneness. 

While the waffle iron is warming, place all ingredients, except butter into a high powered blender or food processor and blend on high until all ingredients are incorporated. Add butter and blend again a few more seconds. 

Use cooking spray to lightly grease waffle iron to prevent sticking and place about 1/3 - 1/2 cup of batter to waffle iron and cook until it's browned to your preferred doneness. 

These waffles are perfect and serve warm topped with your favorite syrup. We love our sugar free maple syrup. 



Monday, January 14, 2019

McGriddles.... Low Carb Style

Ok, so I don't know about y'all but I love love love breakfast and everything it entails. Well, after a long week, I knew breakfast was just the answer my hubby needed. Breakfast seems to just bring everything together. If you've had a rough week, make breakfast! If you've had a rough day, make breakfast! Yes, the answer is always, Make Breakfast. So I wanted to try something a little fun. WE love those fast breakfasts on the go, but don't always want all those carby calories, so I wanted to find a low carb way to do it, but something that still tastes good and I came across this... A Low Carb McGriddle, which by the way, I'll be honest, the McDonalds Mcgriddle is actually one of my favorites. That savory with a little sweet... OMG!!!! Party in your mouth!!!!

Jack kept coming into the kitchen as I whipped up this breakfast and I wouldn't spill the secret of what I was making. I didn't want to tell him. I wanted it to be a surprise and a surprise indeed. I watched him as he sunk his teeth into that first bite and he loved it! I still need to perfect my egg. I'm thinking I need a square egg pan like the ole Mickey D's has so I can make a cute square folded one, but the scrambled egg one worked just fine and it still had an amazing taste.

Ingredients

For Pancake "Buns"


  • 1/2 cup sugar free pancake syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup Almond Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp maple extract
  • 10-15 drops liquid stevia

For filling

  • 4 eggs scrambled or fried
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese
  • slices bacon or breakfast sausage, cooked

Instructions

Heat the syrup to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Continue to boil for several minutes until syrup has thickened and reduced by half. 

Pour the syrup onto a parchment lined pan and place in into the freezer for at least 1 hour. 
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and grease a whoopie pie pan. Spray the inside of the rings with non-stick spray. 

Place the remaining ingredients for the buns into a blender and pulse until smooth. Pour evenly into the rings (approximately 2-3 tablespoons per pie mold)

Remove the syrup from the freezer and gently peel the parchment away from the syrup. Break it into small pieces and evenly distribute the pieces into the batter.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until set. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the rings.  




Assemble to sandwiches by topping one pancake bun with one slice of bacon or sausage, one egg and one slice of cheese, then top with a second bun.



Thursday, January 10, 2019

Forever Behind the Badge


It use to seem so natural when Jack would leave for work. I would say a prayer at night and pray for the safety of the officers he's with and all those on duty at night. Tonight was quite different. Two months ago when he took his new position, I was like, "Oh Yay! I'll get him every night now." Unless of course something big happens. Well that night was tonight. 

The kids had just finished eating dinner tonight. Brooklyn had some make-up work to do for school and Nicholas I knew was tired already.  And Jonathan was playing with a Build-A-Bear saying it was my bestie's new baby.... "That's baby Forrest!" he would say and then he would wrap him in his Paw Patrol Blanket and give him a kiss on the head. I just love when he does pretend play... It's so cute. 

It was a little after 8 o'clock when he received the call. There was an officer involved shooting, so Jack was to come in and assist the officers. I had never seen him get ready so fast. With every strap of the kevlar as he put it on, and the rest of his attire. He was rushing to get everything he needed. I, being the wife that I am, I wanted to make sure he would have something to eat just incase because I have no idea how long he will be gone.  I quickly throw together pretty much everything I would put in one of the kids lunches because it's something he doesn't need to keep in a fridge and he will have something to munch on just incase. 

As I kissed him goodbye, all my memories flew back into my heart.... The memories when I would kiss him goodbye every night. The memories and feelings flooded as I just sat at home with the kids. I put Nicholas and Brooklyn to bed and Jonathan wanted some snuggles, so I snuggled him until he passed out. And now he's just sleeping... On Daddy's side of the bed of course! LOL.

As these memories flooded me though, I said a little prayer. As I said goodnight to our babies, I told them to say a prayer as well, for daddy and the other law enforcement officers working tonight.  This was the first time Jack has had to leave so quickly, so they were both concerned, so I tried to explain as best I could to a 6 and 7 year old about what was going on. 

If I said it were easy, I would be lying. I may make it look easy on the surface from the beautiful facebook posts, the happy smiles, the positive quotes, the endless amount of positivity that you see on my cover… In reality, there are very hard moments. Moments where I cry myself to sleep, moments where this man who is one of the strongest I know can somehow endure everything he sees at work and doesn’t shed a tear except for those few instances where he has brought his work home with him. Those times are few and I remember them vividly because I watched the man who is so strong suddenly crumble. 

Jack never likes to bring his work home. He doesn’t want to scare me because he knows I get scared and worry about what goes on while he’s in the line of duty, but I do worry. It’s my job as a wife and I never know what may happen when he walks out that door and I think that’s what scares me the most. 

Some friends never truly understand, but my close close close friends and my family gets it thank goodness. There’s the absence of my wonderful husband at so many holidays, birthdays, get-togethers, but it’s what I signed up for and even though there are absences, he’s doing this job and putting himself in the line of duty everyday so that I am able to stay home with our kids everyday. 

All in all, being a LEO wife life is amazing, it’s challenging, it has it’s ups, it has its downs, but it’s worth it, every second, every minute, every hour of every day…. Because he’s mine…. Each and every day, I walk the LINE……



Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Roasted Red Pepper Chicken


Day 8 of 365:

Today was the kids first day back to school from Winter Break.  I would be lying if I said getting out of bed was super easy this morning. Since we returned from Hawaii, the kids sleep schedule has been a bit off, so last night I wanted to make sire we were all up in time, so I got a little OCD and setup multiple alarms. 6am rolled around this am and it was the ole, "Why are we up this early mom????" for the first 30 minutes. I guess the kids really were enjoying that beauty sleep they had been getting the past 3 weeks. Well, that time is over now kiddos!!! LOL

Thank goodness I had the kids get their clothes ready last night cause getting dressed this morning was super easy and I even had some extra time to do breakfast requests. Brooklyn wanted an over easy egg with a side of apples, Nicholas wanted the homemade granola I made the other day and Jonathan spent the night at my parents last night so he had no requests for me this am and when I swung by this am to drop off the car seats, he was still sleeping, so he got an extra day of beauty rest. 

My dad was so great and was a big help with the kiddos today and pickup for school and helping with Jonathan. Nicholas started his Anatomy class today and he had his first field trip for home school which was to the theater. We saw the new Mary Poppins which was super cute! We loved the movie, minus the numerous bathroom trips, but it never fails when we go to the movies.... multiple bathroom trips. The joy of taking kids to the movies. Nicholas loved his Anatomy class though, and asked if he could go back tomorrow, which I told him he could cause he is going to be taking 3 classes on Wednesdays. He's so excited to be spending some more time at the new Center. His Wednesdays are definitely going to be busy busy busy between school and ABA. 

Today with the field trip, we didn't get done until almost 4:30, and so I went to my parents to relieve my dad. Brooklyn had Brownies tonight so I knew I wouldn't be done running around with the kids until 7:30. Yes, Brownies... and guess what???? Guess what time it is??? It's cookie season!!! Taking Pre-orders stating Friday!!!! 

Since this day was such a crazy day, I didn't have a chance to cook anything. It was leftover day for me, but I didn't want to leave you guys hanging and I wanted to share with you one of my favorite recipes. I made this dish for my bestie on one of our dinner nights. It was one of those recipes that I was just trying out and OMG it was so good!!!! Definitely at the top of my list for good recipes!!!!


Roasted Red Pepper Chicken

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 lb chicken thighs, boneless/skinless
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp pink salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • oz goat cheese
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

ROASTED RED PEPPER SAUCE

  • 4 oz roasted red peppers (in water)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and heat a large skillet to medium high heat.

Add the thighs to a large mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. 

Add coconut oil to the hot skillet and lay the thighs in the skillet. Cook 4-5 minutes on each side.

While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce. Add the roasted red peppers, garlic cloves and olive oil to a blender and pulse until pureed. 

Add heavy cream to the sauce and blend once more.

Once thighs have cooked through most of the way, remove from heat and pour the sauce over the thighs. If desired, flip the thighs over to fully coat them.

Crumble goat cheese on top of the thighs and place in the oven for 10-12 minutes.

Garnish with fresh parsley and serve immediately! I served mine with spiraled butternut squash noodles and asparagus, lightly tossed with browned butter. 

Best stored in an air tight container in the fridge up to 5 days. 







Monday, January 7, 2019

Blackened Shrimp with Spaghetti Squash Alfredo


Day 7 of 365:

I could not agree with this quote more and I just love Ina Garten. I love watching her on show and yes someday, I will be going to The Hamptons, but until that day, I will daydream a bit.... 

Cooking is definitely one of my greatest gifts. I love cooking and love serving my family. No matter how crazy our day may be, I always find myself at almost a place of meditation while I'm in the kitchen cooking. I'm in my own world, in my own thoughts and it just comes natural.... with every stir of a spoon, every chop of a vegetable.... as I bring the tasting spoon first to my nostril to smell the essence of what I'm cooking and then to my mouth to indulge.... and today the indulgence was worth it.... Jack was pleasantly surprised when he got home and I had this meal ready when he walked through the door. And for a man who's pretty picky about vegetables, he devoured his bowl!!!! 

Tonight was a night of savory indulgences.... a night of yumminess, a night to just be with each other and enjoy family dinner together. A day that starts the rest of our week off. It sets the tone for the rest of the week and it went well. The kids ate so much too! Woo hoo!!! 

I know now that this week will just fall into place. Everything will happen the way it's suppose to and whatever the cards may have in store for us.... I'm ready... Ready to give these great gifts of food to the ones I love...

Blackened Shrimp with Spaghetti Squash Alfredo
Ingredients:
  • 1 bag of frozen shrimp, medium size, shelled, deveined, and tails removed
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • butter and olive oil (or cooking oil of your choice)
  • Parmesan cheese (fresh or canned - to top the dish)
  • parsley (fresh or flakes - for garnish - optional)

  • Alfredo Sauce:
1 stick of butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups of cream
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup of fresh grated Parmesan (buy a block and grate your own!)1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper
            Blackening Seasoning (you can use this for fish, chicken, shrimp)
            • 2/3 cup paprika
            • 3 Tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons Lawry's Seasoning salt
            • 4 teaspoons garlic powder
            • 4 teaspoons onion powder
            • 4 teaspoons dried oregano leaves, crushed
            • 4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
            • 2 teaspoons black pepper
            • 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
            • 2 teaspoons gumbo file powder
            Instructions:
            First things first, we need to cook that beautiful Spaghetti squash. One of my favorite methods to cook these babies is in the microwave to knock it out super fast. I take a fork and poke holes all over the squash, then microwave it for 10 min, check it to see if it's fork tender, then microwave it again for an additional 10-15 minutes. I do it it 5 minutes increments after the first 10 minutes. That way you can keep checking on it so you don't overcook it. After you've cooked your spaghetti squash, cut it in half and take a fork to remove the seeds first to toss out, then using for fork, fork it some more... lol get those squash strands nice and looking like spaghetti. It's so gloriously beautiful... If you can't tell already. I love love love spaghetti squash. OK, back to the cooking....
            Meanwhile go ahead and make the Alfredo sauce.  Melt butter on medium heat. Stir in garlic and sauce until fragrant. Add the cream and pepper. Simmer 10-12 minutes stirring constantly (it will burn!) until it begins to thicken. (It won't thicken a lot until it cools a bit) After it has thickened up a bit add in cheese.  Stir well and set aside while you cook the shrimp.  This will give it time to thicken more. 
            Thaw shrimp according to package directions.  Dry them off with a paper towel because frozen shrimp always have excess water left behind.
            Make blackening seasoning and set aside.
            Spread shrimp out on a large platter in a single layer and sprinkle with blackening season on one side.  No need to season the other side, we'll do that after they're in the pan 
            Depending on the size of your pan, you may have to cook the shrimp in batches.  Don't pile them up on top of each other.  They need some breathing room.... 
            Heat over medium/high heat 1/2 butter and half olive oil (a nice combination in my opinion to get that brown on the shrimp) in a very large skillet.
            Now place the seasoned side face DOWN in the pan.  While they are cooking lightly sprinkle the blackening season on the shrimp in the pan.  See, now both sides are covered.  It won't take long to cook - a couple minutes on each side - tails will curl and shrimp will be opaque when done.  Set aside.
            Now simply fill your plate with the desired amount of spaghetti squash (1 cup), top generously with Alfredo sauce, add shrimp, and garnish with a little extra Parmesan cheese and parsley flakes (if desired.)

            Chicken and Ham Chowda Chowda



            Day 6 of 365..... Well, since I missed posting this on Day 6, you're getting a two for one on Day 7!!!! So yesterday, I had no idea what to cook for dinner. It was a rainy Sunday, we were all cold. We had all stayed at grandma's house the night before because the low on Saturday night was in the 30's and the kids would have been freezing. So our wonderful rainy Sunday rolls around, our day to keep holy and my grandma, Brooklyn and I all attend mass together. It was a beautiful mass and since the Day of Epiphany just happened to fall on Sunday, Brooklyn was able to see the reenactment of the Three Kings bringing their gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh to baby Jesus. Brooklyn was so amazed to watch this. She thought it was the coolest thing to see at church and she sure did rub it in her Brother's face that he missed it. He was a little jealous, but we showed him the pictures. 

            After church service, we had lunch at grandmas and then the battle of the upstairs room and toy cleaning went down.... You know, like trying to pull teeth trying to get kids to clean. I seriously feel like they just go upstairs and walk around their toys and move them to a different spot in the room. They were upstairs "Cleaning" for 5 hours and it still wasn't done. Meanwhile, I deep cleaned the kitchen, living room, downstairs bathroom and did 3 loads of laundry... kids I tell ya!!! Gotta love 'em.

            By 5 pm it was time to cook dinner. I had taken out chicken breasts late afternoon, but I still had no clue what I was going to cook for dinner. Chicken... what else do I cook, should I make cauliflower rice? Should I do something fried, baked.... I couldn't think of anything for the longest time and then all of a sudden it hit me as I scrolled through Pinterest looking for some sort of inspiration... I came across a Loaded Potato soup recipe, so I was intrigued on how I could change it up to add this chicken, so I decided to make it a Chowder... Everyone likes that rich creaminess of the chowder and instead of doing the potatoes, I decided to do Cauliflower.... It was amazing. Everybody loved it and now Jack has meal preps for the rest of the week. Yes!!! Win for this mama!!!!

            Chicken and Ham Chowda Chowda
            Ingredients:

          • 6 slices bacon, diced
          • 4 cups bone broth (or veggie broth)
          • 1 head of cauliflower (cut into small pieces) 
          • 1/4 cup cream cheese
          • 1/2 cup diced onion
          • 2 tbsp butter
          • 1 tbsp minced garlic
          • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
          • 2 cups diced ham
          • salt & pepper to taste
          • Parmesan Cheese (for topping)

          • Instructions
            In a large pot, brown bacon over medium head until cooked to desired crispness. Remove bacon from pan, reserving bacon fat. 

            Add the butter and onions to the same pan you cooked the bacon in and saute until clear. Add the minced garlic and saute for an additional minute.

            Add the broth, seasoning and cauliflower to the pot and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender.

            Carefully pour half or more of the mixture into a blender and pulse a few times until creamy. 

            Place back on the heat, and add the cream cheese and about a cup of water or more chicken broth, depending on your consistency preference. Add Chicken and ham and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the cream cheese is melted and blended nicely. 

            Top with crumbled bacon and enjoy! Feel free to add cheese for topping as well, or chopped green onions.