Protein Packed Twice Baked Potatoes (Vegetarian)

Protein? Without meat? Krystal, c’mon.

Y’all c’mon. In case you have not noticed a lot less meat is being consumed in my tiny household. A couple months ago I started having an odd aversion to chicken(no, I am not pregnant). I’m very in tune with my body and its cravings and dislikes. When I crave eggs I fry up an egg and eat it. So, when chicken became repulsive and I was still traumatized by seafood – vegetarian became much more dominant in my life, and since Kyle can’t cook his as well. I have been participating in meatless Monday for months now and at least 2 other dishes for any given week are also vegetarian. I have been challenged for new recipes that are unique, tasty, and still have an appropriate amount of protein. I have muscle dystrophy (muscle wasting) I need protein in my diet – it’s not negotiable. On average, I try to stay around 60-75g of protein a day.

Greek Yogurt!

If you have not tried subbing out mayo/sour cream with greek yogurt you are missing out. I swear it is good! AND packed with protein! Now, my secret is to still mix in a tiny amount of sour cream or mayo whichever the recipe called for with the greek yogurt because you will get less of that tang. I promise if you get a good quality greek yogurt and put it in a sauce or dip you may be able to tell the difference but it will not be bad! I used a cup of greek yogurt in these bad boys with just a couple tablespoons of sour cream. Delicious!

I ate these for lunch all week. Each HALF is as follows: 15g protein, 10g fat, 15g carbs.

Ingredients – 4 Servings
2 Large Russet Potatoes
1 Cup Greek Yogurt (I use Fage)
2 TBSP Sour Cream
1 TBSP Butter
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1 1/2 Cup Broccoli – chopped finely
1 Cup Spinach – chopped finely
S&P
Garlic Powder

How To

Line a baking pan with foil. Get your oven set to 450 degrees. Poke holes all around your potatoes and pop in the oven for 25 minutes, take them out coat in olive oil and sea salt and bake in for 20 minutes.
All other ingredients go in a large mixing bowl.
When the potatoes are down let them cool……or don’t like me and burn your fingers off. You’ll want to cut them horizontally and scoop out the filling into your bowl with all the goodies. Give everything a quick mash, stir, and then the filling goes back into the potato skins….add some extra cheese and cook for another 10-15 just so your small broccoli florets cook.

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Healthy, fast, and veggie.

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Vegetarian Coconut Curry

I have been making curry for a long time and every time I do I get these weird ass looks from people. Like, are we not in America? I don’t talk shit about your “Chinese” food……even though orange chicken from Panda Express is not authentic, Kyle. I can have any cuisine I want delivered to my door in a matter of minutes. America is a mixing pot of foods, hello! How are there so many people out there AND that I apparently know that have not had curry?! The real question is why have you waited so long to provide a recipe, Krystal?
Fine.

I just recently started using coconut milk. I know I know, vegan/vegetarian friends I am an awful person, but I have now seen the light. Another weird food people seem to be terrified of. You guys, unless you are allergic to coconut like my mother claims to be you must put coconut milk in this recipe or I will not speak to you. Coconut milk is luxurious, smooth, and adds a creamy component you never thought you needed and will never be able to live without. It does NOT make your dish taste like coconut, it does NOT taste like the coconut I guarantee most are familiar with because although Malibu rum is delicious it is not the real flavor of coconut…….Krystal.

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Now, let us discuss curry. “Curry” is a mix of spices made up mainly of: curry leaf, coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, and chili peppers. I made this particular recipe with a yellow curry blend as it is the only blend Raleys sells…….because it’s not spicy and let’s be honest not too out of the norm. Curry comes in all different colors and spice levels though, and even I have yet to venture out and make those on my own. I do order red, yellow, and green curry when me and the other girl at work order Indian/Thai. You can, of course make your own blend, but no thank you for me. The spices in this blend are perfect as there really isn’t too much of any one spice to overpower the others.
Curry is set it and forget it for at LEAST a few hours. It’s stew but 100000 times better. This is an ultimate comfort dish for us and a staple. I make curry of different variations several times a month.

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Please don’t mind my giant tub of pink salt my dad brought me. Yay Costco!

 

Please please PLEASE get out of your comfort zone and make this. When you do post it. Even if you hate it and feed it to your dog…..tell me!

Recipe (Finally)

Ingredients
1 Can of Coconut Milk
4 Tablespoons Curry Powder of your choosing
2 Tablespoons of Kerrygold butter
1 Tablespoon Avocado Oil
1 Medium Yellow Onion
1/2-1 Cup Veggie Stock
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Can of Chickpeas
10-15 Small Golden Potatoes cut in quarters
3 Carrots
Green onions or cilantro, jalapeno, lime, and a runny egg for garnish if you so choose.

Saute your onions and carrots in the butter and avocado oil and once they are golden in color add your garlic to cook for 1-2 minutes. Add your curry powder to really wake up the spices, and then add the entire can of coconut milk to the pan. Mix and get all the goodness off the bottom of the pan. Now, when to add the chickpeas is a personal opinion. I personally like them to simmer for the few hours with the potatoes and carrots, but some people prefer them to maintain their body and then you would want to add them about an hour before serving. Add potatoes, salt and pepper. Because potatoes soak up so much flavor/fluid I added half cup of veggie stock which made the curry initially too thin BUT once this simmers for a few hours it is perfect. Consistency is very similar to a beef stew that has marinated all day. Remember you can add whatever you want to this! I simmer mine on low heat for 4 hours and everything comes out magical.

Serve over rice or even more veggies!

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Wine @ 815

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There are three things I am exceptionally good at in life: cooking, writing, and wine tasting. The struggle with wine tasting (and I use struggle lightly because we all know I still get in my car and go) is that the nearest wine country is about 45 minutes from where I live. Amador County is where I go to giveaway all my money to grapes less fortunate than myself. Napa is about an hour and a half away, and so realistically reaching wine country is not too bad, but then Wine @ 815 moved in 5 minutes from my house. Girl, we are in trouble. Rayann and I did not walk we ran to see what this was all about.

From all stand points Wine @ 815 is genius.

Genius #1 – it is actual wine tasting in Historic Folsom. $5 per flight (5-6 tastings) which is extremely reasonable and tasting fees are waived if a bottle is purchased.

Genius #2 – Marketing. Wine @ 815 consists of 3 wineries: Rempfer Cellars, Fiddletown Cellars, Los Portales. Cross promotion makes me swoon, and these guys are doing it right. All 3 are local as well.

Genius #3 Atmosphere. I really just want to take my laptop and setup shop there while sipping on wine all afternoon, and I might actually get something done(probably not cause I totally love Lia the Tasting Manager). The shop is small but they have kept the floor plan open so the feeling of being in a tiny space never sets in. Dimmed lighting is key, because everyone looks better in dimmed lighting, right?

Genius #4 Make your own cheese board. Okay, so I almost never order cheese boards, because they always consist of cheese I can’t pronounce and I don’t want to look like a fool AND there are more creepy cheeses than anything else. 815 has changed the game, though. They have a tiny fridge filled with a wide variety of cheeses, pickles, olives, crackers, and snacks. You pick what you would like, pay for those items only, and grab a cheeseboard to eat off of. Unique and fun.

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Genius #5 Experience. I am not going to give too much away here, because wine tasting is really something that absolutely has to be experienced in person. I will tell you that I would have been more than happy to stay at 815 all day and chat with Lia. The education provided while tasting is the perfect blend as all highlights about each bottle, awards, and regions are discussed, but not so in depth that you need a full glass of wine just to be able to listen about the next. Having only 3 wineries provides a more in depth discussion for each pour, and each back story is extremely unique. Lia is fun, smart, and you can really tell she has passion for what she does.

The Wine. Have ya’ll just been waiting for me to talk about the wine? Shut up, Krystal and talk about wine. Okay, here is the main thing. Just go there. Seriously. I will tell you the most shocking reason you should take all your friends and go. Wine @ 815 is red. Red. Red. Red, and some more red. They did not have Los Portales in when I visited so I was only able to taste Fiddletown and Rempfer which are both red. Let’s be honest California is red. Krystal (me) is a white girl living in a red state, and I loved every.single.pour, AND bought with REAL money Rempfer Cellars Petite Sirah and my life was forever changed. I have been to Amador more times than I can count and I have NEVER brought home a red. I thought I would be the girl that loves bubbles and German wines forever, but I am very excited to say that my favorites are now changing thanks to 815. I will put the tasting flights below. I am not going to repeat the fun facts about either the wineries themselves or each wine because it is such an amazing experience to hear Lia tell you for yourself. I will be back. I might live there. I may have them on speed dial. Follow them on Facebook!

 

 

Cauliflower Chowder with Crispy Chickpeas

Well, California is currently becoming one with the sea. For years I have been mocked as the unnecessary worrier constantly riddled with anxiety when storms come knocking.

-“We live in California, Krystal we don’t have storms”.

Well, California just pulled some Noah’s Ark bullshit up in here this week. Six days of rain and looking like we may end on the eighth. As always when the end is approaching and my home is about to break into a free floating island I prepare. I went to Barnes & Noble, spent entirely too much money on books to read during the apocalypse, bought yarn so I could crochet myself clothes upon the end of civilization, and made cauliflower chowder. Ready.

My cauliflower chowder is not labeled as healthy, gluten free or any of that crap. The end is near I am damn well eating butter.

Let’s go!

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Ingredients

-3 Heads of Cauliflower – roasted (This step is VERY important, in fact the most important part of the recipe, if you find yourself too lazy to roast the cauliflower save it for another day because you’ve already ruined it.)
-4 Medium Yukon Gold Potatoes
-3 Cloves of Garlic
-1 Yellow Onion
-3 Carrots (peeled)
-3 Stalks of Celery
-3 Cups of Chicken Stock
-1 Cup Half & Half
-3 Tablespoons Butter
-Green Onion
-1 Can of Chickpeas
-3 Tablespoons Avocado/Olive Oil

Recipe

Roast all 3 heads of cauliflower roughly chopped with some love (oil, salt, & pepper) at 400 degrees. I like mine very tan so I keep them in there about 25 minutes.

In a stock pot put diced carrot, celery, potatoes, butter, and oil. You will want these all to be diced roughly the same size for even cooking. Once the potatoes are cooked and onions translucent add the garlic.

Chickpeas! Do not knock it til you try it.
Strain your chickpeas, rinse, and completely dry! Put on a baking sheet with some avocado oil, garlic and chipotle powder, salt and pepper. 450 degree oven 15 minutes later garnish and healthy snack. I eat these all day long.

Now, I have an immersion blender. Yet, I was too lazy to get it down. So, once your veggies in the stock pot are cooked throw them in a blender, add some chicken stock, and blend til the mixture is creamy. Repeat the routine with your cauliflower. Then, throw everything (cauliflower included) into your stock pot, and season, and TASTE. I added salt, pepper, red chili flakes, some Italian seasoning, chipotle powder, garlic powder, and a bay leaf. Feel free to get creative and add whatever may suit your fancy. The chowder is technically done other than adding half & half, but all things are better with time. I let mine simmer for about 2 hours before adding the half & half.

I like cauliflower chowder better than potato soup because there is some texture. This is not a cauliflower soup you can sit on the blender for 10 hours with because of the potatoes, they will release too much starch upon over working them and you will have glue. Trust me I have done it before when Kyle had teeth pulled. Thank you jesus for Vicodin sucker didn’t even notice.

Trust and believe – make this!

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Veggie Mushroom Burger with Roasted Pepper Sauce

Yes, gurl.

I love veggie burgers. I do not care what kind of master cook you are, barbecue master for Jesus – whatever – veggie burgers are ALWAYS more flavorful and juicy than beef. Here come alllll the haters.

Well, make me a juicy delicious beef burger and maybe we can duke it out, but for now I will keep my veggie burgers fried in butter. Thanks.

This recipe was honestly just a lunch I threw together but the roasted pepper mayo was delicious so I figured I would share. I also had a lot of fun blistering peppers on my stove since the BBQ was off limits due to a horrendous storm taking tole on California this weekend. Sharing is caring.

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Oh, and a side coleslaw and mushrooms. Yes.

Recipe for Mayo

1 Cup of Good quality mayo (you could of course make your own, but I was too lazy)
Lemon Zest
Lemon Juice
Roasted Red Bell Pepper  ( I only had yellow, which was a shame as the color contrast would have been beautiful)
Garlic Powder
Chipotle Powder
Salt & Pepper
Avocado or Olive Oil

*Roasting bell peppers is not only easy but my favorite way to eat them….blister them on a grill or your gas range like me, scrape off the charred skin and enjoy!*

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-Now, as always I just throw everything in my blender at one time and pray it turns out, and it did! That easy, and I swear this sauce is the bomb. We ate it on the open face burgers, on the coleslaw and then the next day on our potato and egg hash. Just trust me. What else are you reading this blog for?

I paired the sauce with some shredded cabbage topped with avocado, green onion, and chipotle seasoning. Burgers are Morningstar but go ahead and have your meat patties, fools. Shrooms and cheese.

The “New Me” is already Here – Farewell 2016

I really did not want to be the typical person posting an end of year blog post, but here I am being all typical and shit.

I really only wanted to read today. I am about halfway through Tana French’s The Trespasser and it is beginning to get good. Yet, like 99% of my plans I never seem to follow completely through. I had tea and a pastry for breakfast #newyearnewme and sat at my kitchen table for over a half hour staring into space before I decided to even open the laptop. I still keep writing, sitting back, sighing “this is shit”, and continuing. What do I even have to say?

2016 was not awful to me. Shocker, I know. 2016 was a messy monster for most, but I’ve been battling monsters my entire life. I have looked a lot of fears in the face and so cheers 2016 but 17 may need to step it up. 2016 was my year of letting go, my year of the in-between, and my year of finding a center. I am not going to make any dumb resolutions either. You can choose to start or give up any time of the year do not let the overdose of champagne fool you.

I wrote a post earlier this year about living out the remainder of the year “in-between”. I wrote a book the previous year and it seemed to have stitched some old wounds for me, I wasn’t sure the direction I wanted to head next, I was not really hungry for much of anything, and I somehow someway came to acceptance with that. I had this clarity and it was one of the most beautiful moments of my year if not my life. I don’t always need a plan. I don’t always need to be spreading myself so thin. It is okay to just be living.  So, I lived this year.

I started this blog mainly to keep myself occupied, because we all know I wasn’t too serious about just doing nothing productive. I also absolutely need lists in my life like I need butter or wine. I know they are slowly killing me but they are necessities, dammit. The support for WWB has been overwhelming for me. It took 3 months to post my first article. I am a writer. I am proud of that. I just hate that it took me 25 years to accept my talent and share it. I let that fear go. I have found that people that have been through the most have the most to say. So, here we are blogging and cooking away. A small blog that has branched out to connect me with family, friends, strangers, new business’, new experiences, and most importantly a new outlook on my life.

Cooking, writing, cooking, writing, cooking, writing. If I could hold them both in each hand it’d be a juggle for which I love more. They are my center. I found my center this year. I always knew where those passions were – buried deep in my chest, but I was too busy trying to be successful, I was too occupied trying to prove to everyone around me that the sick girl can do it all. I spent years of my life doing just that. And, you know what? No one cared but me, no one noticed but me, because I may have healed some wounds but the stigma of disease and sick still stalk me like a shadow. I am not healed from those stigmas. Instead of gashed out wounds in my core, though they have shrunk to be like paper cuts between the webbing of my fingers. Sick. Disease. Lemon juice in said cuts. I have made progress because just 6 months ago I would have never let you read that. I would have written it, locked it far away, and hope to God no one ever found it. It’s okay to be hurt, and it is okay to be a work in progress.I never want to be complete. Some of these wounds I will choose to keep.

I still do not have a house, and I still do not know if I’d like to give up my life savings to obtain one just so I can work the rest of my life to pay it off or spend my fortunes on seeing the world. Although, yesterday, I had nothing to do at work at read about deep vein thrombosis and air travel and now I am convinced I am may die on a plane. Who knows? I am happy.

I still do not have a baby. I still do not want a baby. Kyle does not want a baby, because that is always the second question asked “but doesn’t your husband want children?” as if I would sacrifice my body and my decisions for my husband’s happiness. No thank you, sir. Find a new wife. We have our dogs and our little house. We both have a true and meaningful understanding that having one another is what brings us happiness.Not things. Not the American way. Our Life. Our way.

I still only need people in my life that support myself and Kyle. No longer are people allowed to just be blank spaces. Contribute and add something to the many things constantly rotating in our lives or leave. I have left so many people behind this year I feel practically weightless. I suppose as I go into 2017 the thing I feel the most is refreshed. I can breathe for the first time in 16 years.

These were my high points of 2016 and that is how I am going to choose to remember the year by.

Food for Thought 2016

  • Always be reading something
  • Do not eat shrimp
  • Keep all brides drunk
  • Bust your ass at work but leaving everything there after leaving for the day
  • Shop local and shop small business’
  • Have at least 2 dogs…..1 is never enough
  • Support everyone’s dream if they are brave enough to tell it to you
  • You will find the best moments of your life happening when you’re two glasses deep in champagne and eating a grilled sandwich for brunch
  • Butter
  • Mario Kart
  • Laugh until your temples hurt
  • Remember that whatever may ail you, whatever has ailed you speak about it, support research, and share your journey openly – I am not a sick girl, I am not a diseased girl. I am Krystal Renee

Cheers

 

Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup – A Lazy Girl’s Dream (Featured Article)

Article & Photos  – Rayann Benson

I don’t know about you, but I love Fall.  There’s just something about the changing leaves, the approaching holidays and the cooler weather that is a breath of fresh air for me.  Unfortunately, Sacramento has yet to receive the “It’s Fall!” memo, and so we’re still dealing with nearly 80° weather.  Ew.

Nonetheless, I am still celebrating my favorite season by whipping up my favorite comfort foods like soup and chili.  Sacramento weather, you’re not the boss of me!

Last week I pulled my slow cooker out for the season.  If you do not currently own a slow cooker, you are missing out on one of the greatest things to grace a kitchen since the invention of sliced bread.  Although I love to cook, many times during the week I lack motivation with dinner and end up making the same dish over and over and over again.  Nothing wrong with consistency, but that kind of routine definitely starts to wear on you.  My slow cooker is my saving grace for these situations.  Just a little bit of morning planning and I have a flavorful and delicious dinner waiting for me when I’m off work that I barely have to lift a finger for.  A lazy girl’s dream.

I made the decision to make chicken noodle soup while I was making the carrot cake for my niece – gotta find some way not to waste them, right?  Well, funnily enough, I accidentally threw away the leftover carrots during one of my weekly refrigerator purges… hence why the carrots you see in my photo aren’t diced, they’re carrot chips.  I had to make a quick run to the store and grabbed these out of convenience.  But, they do add an interesting texture to the soup?  I know, I know, that’s a stretch.

Chicken noodle soup is one of my favorite soups to make because of how versatile it is. However, it can quickly become a bland meal if not properly seasoned, which is why it’s important to use pungent herbs and spices in the soup.  I honestly eyeball the spices and seasonings I add but for the sake of the recipe have included actual measurements.  Also, I personally choose to have extra veggies in mine to make it heartier, but you can adjust the amount you add to meet your tastes.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients

  • 2lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, frozen *
    • Because it is such a lean meat, I use frozen to keep it from drying out while cooking – you could also use another cut of fresh chicken, such as thighs)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced (1 cup)
  • 6 medium carrots, diced (2 cups)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon-pepper seasoning (preferably Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
    • Be mindful on how much you add – the lemon-pepper seasoning already includes salt and pepper. I omitted adding additional salt, and added ½ teaspoon pepper.
  • 32 ounces low sodium chicken broth
  • 24 ounces unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 cups egg noodles

Directions

Place chicken breasts at bottom of slow cooker and top with celery, carrots, onion and garlic.  Next, add parsley, thyme, basil and lemon-pepper seasonings.  Stir in chicken stock and broth then season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Cover and cook on low heat for 6½ hours.

Remove chicken from slow cooker and shred, using two forks.  Stir shredded chicken and egg noodles back into the slow cooker, then cover and cook for an additional 20-30 minutes (or until egg noodles are tender).  Serve warm, and enjoy!