Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Forming New Habits

Feels like it has been quite a while since I have blogged anything about my health and fitness goals. It may seem like I have given up on it all, but that is not the case! I'm still working away on my challenge, just not so intently. ;) Things have picked up, and for some reason it just hasn't worked out to get to the gym with Kyle. He either isn't around with the car to take me when I'm available... or I'm not around to go with him when he has free time. It just hasn't worked, and is a complete bummer.

However, because of the months that I worked so hard at watching what I eat and trying out new ideas, I formed habits that have stayed with me and helped me to keep all of the weight off and lose more! I didn't even realize until recently that I am subconsciously keeping to my healthy lifestyle without even trying! I kept wondering why on earth I wasn't gaining my weight back, because I wasn't getting to the gym. And it's not like I am counting all of my calories...

It's really exciting to see the new habit formed. And it gives me great hope for the future when I get to my goal and want to keep healthy. If I can continue on with these new habits, I think it will be easier to stick with them later on.

I have been keeping pretty busy between my house cleaning jobs, recovering from the respiratory infection, being involved a lot in church events, etc. Time just seems to be getting used up more than I thought it would... for being a stay-at-home wife, I certainly have enough to keep busy with. I love the flexibility of being able to run a part time job on the side, be there for my husband with whatever he needs, be involved with things at church and positions that need to be filled, and also be a help to my parents and siblings whenever they are in need.

So with the schedule and sickness and not keeping to a strict diet and not getting to the gym... I still have managed to lose a total of 14 pounds! Woohoo! Soo excited and encouraged to keep going. I have yet to measure myself again, but I know I have lost over 12 inches since my last measuring about a month ago. So who knows... maybe more.

Also good news: I have a new cleaning job starting Friday! Credit due to Sarah Bowler, who told her friend about me, and is the reason for my other cleaning job as well... word of mouth works! Thanks, Sarah!

I have a few new recipes in the making that I want to post at another time. I am trying out new vegetables in my meal planning that I have never had before and am really wishing I had known about them earlier!

I better close this before it gets too long.

Goodnight all.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fall Photography

My sister and I took a few scenic roads today to get some shots of the foliage. I have been fighting a bad respiratory infection the past few days and am still pretty sick, but I just needed to get out of the house and get some fresh air today. This seemed like my last chance to catch some color on the trees... it is already fading! :( It was a gorgeous day and perfect for catching some of the autumn beauty. 

Click on the images for a better view. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Apricot Chicken Thighs

Hey all. What a beautiful day, huh? This is what I'd call perfect fall weather! Chilly, a little breeze, sunshine... love it! Especially after all those cold, rainy, dreary days. I like an occasional rainy day, but after days of it I've had enough!

Meanwhile, I have been trying out new recipes while being cooped inside for the last few days. I personally am a fan of boneless chicken thighs. They are not only less expensive, but are more flavorful because they are a darker meat. We rarely buy chicken breasts in our house. The thighs and tenders are cheaper and come out far more tender. Anyway, I haven't been able to get to the grocery store this week, but had chicken thighs in my refrigerator that I really needed to use up. I then went to look for an onion so I could start chopping it up along with an apple to make my apple balsamic chicken and...

No onion. I contemplated making it without the onion, but that would just be wrong. Lol! So, I decided to try something new. I checked the fridge (which is running very low on items) and a thought suddenly hit me. I saw a jar of Apricot Jam and a new recipe started to form. Very simple, very quick.

Apricot Chicken Thighs
1 pkg. boneless chicken thighs
1 tsp. minced garlic
3 T apricot jam
olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat and add chicken thighs so they are flat against the pan. Sprinkle minced garlic and salt and pepper (to taste) on top. Cook the chicken for 2 minutes and flip. Add apricot jam and smear over each piece. Add a little extra to the pan so it can simmer into a nice glaze. If the pan seems dry you can add a little chicken broth or water. Continue cooking the chicken over medium heat until it is cooked through and slightly browned, flipping a couple more times if needed. 

And there you have it! Very easy. I don't like to let the brown bits in the pan go to waste, so you can either scrape them out and sprinkle on top of the chicken or de-glaze the pan and add a vegetable to saute with the yummy bits. We had our chicken with parmesan couscous and green beans. I had my husband guess what I used to make the chicken and he couldn't guess. The apricot is very subtle, but very delicious with the chicken. If it passes the husband test, it's certainly a keeper!

I have a couple more "husband approved" recipes in the making, and hope to share them soon!

Enjoy. :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012


I am so happy I was able to get apples this year! We went to George Hill Orchard in Lancaster, MA. This was a little bit ago, but I wanted to post some pictures and share about the processing. I picked two bushels! They were actually drops, but I got 4 huge bags of beautiful apples. At first I wondered if the 4 bags would be enough for all I had planned to do with the apples... but then I got to peeling and coring them, and I knew that it was going to be a long road ahead.

My first project was applesauce. I peeled and cored and peeled and cored and cooked them all down to a yummy, slightly chunky applesauce. I did not use any sweetener, just spices. It was plenty sweet without anything else, and I kind of like the thought of eating applesauce and knowing it is 100% pure apple.

Next, on to apple butter. I don't have a picture of that, but once I get the jars decorated, I will get one up. The apple butter came out really sweet and yummy and is good on toast, biscuits, ice cream, and anything else you can think of! I bought burlap and plaid homespun fabric on sale that I'm going to use to doll up the jars.

Last, I really wanted to make an apple pie filling. I had a link sent to me of this great recipe for canning. I got all excited, because it was really simple and was going to make awesome Christmas gifts. But then I read that I needed this stuff called Ultra Gel to help thicken the sauce for the pie filling. Supposedly corn starch is not safe to use in things that you want to can, so they suggest Ultra Gel, which is a modified corn starch. Well, of course I was not able to find the Ultra Gel in any stores around here, and having it shipped in wasn't going to work since I needed to use up the apples. I ended up getting freezer bags and making a pie filling with corn starch.

The bags of pie filling flatten out and making storing in my tiny freezer manageable. I haven't tried baking with it yet, but we will see how it turns out. It looks, smells, and tastes fabulous, so I'm assuming there won't be any problems.

It took me days to use up all the apples, but it was worth all the time and effort. Canning takes a lot of time, but in the end it is great to look at all the jars of goods you have stocked in your pantry. :) The reason I got drops was because they are considerably cheaper. There's no way I was walking away from that orchard with 2 bushels of apples picked from the tree. I spent $18 on all the apples, and am content with the many ways I was able to use them!

By the way, salt water is the bomb. I'll tell you why. It keeps your sliced apples beautiful while you are peeling and coring. I always thought I needed to use lemon juice, but salt water is awesome for this. 

Balsamic Apple Chicken

So, I am in love with food blogging. I am almost always looking for new recipes to test on my hubby. This has been his absolute favorite and we have it just about every week. Many people (including myself) are looking for quick, easy meals that are delicious and affordable. Here's my own recipe on a yummy, fall meal. 

Start off by chopping an onion and an apple. Both your preference as to what kinds you want to use.

Saute over medium heat in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sauteed apples and onions send a wonderful smell throughout the kitchen. One of my favorites! :)

After a couple minutes, add chicken. Make sure it is flattened out on the pan (I love my cast iron!) so it can sear well. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Flip after 2-3 minutes. 

Drizzle with 2-3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with a little brown sugar and let it simmer. After a few minutes, it will begin to coat the chicken with a yummy, sweet glaze. Flip the chicken and let the other side brown up. I like my chicken nice and golden because it makes it more flavorful, but you can cook it how ever long you want. Just don't overcook or it will be very dry. :-/

I love polenta. I make creamy, cheesy polenta by following the directions on the back and then adding a bit of milk and grated cheese. Make sure you salt the water - else, it will be rather bland.

Choose whatever vegetable side you like. We chose fresh spinach that I cooked down in the same pan I cooked the chicken in. The brown bits in the pan gave the spinach lots of yummy flavor. 

Serve chicken over polenta and don't forget all the caramelized apples and onions to top!

Balsamic Apple Chicken
1 pkg. boneless chicken thighs
1 apple
1/2 of large onion
1 T olive oil
2-3 T balsamic vinegar
1 T brown sugar
salt and pepper for seasoning

Chop onion and apple. Saute over medium heat in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. After a couple minutes, add chicken thighs so they are flat against the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Sear 2-3 minutes and flip. Add balsamic vinegar and brown sugar and simmer down until it makes a glaze. Make sure both sides of the chicken have been coated and are golden brown. Serve over creamy polenta and enjoy!