Clean Eating: A Weekly Meal Plan

Clean Eating: A Weekly Meal Plan

As the world opens back up, I feel like I have been traveling, eating and drinking alcohol so much more than I have for the past 14 months. Although it has been great to see friends and family again and get back to the things we used to do, the recent over-indulgences have left me feeling bloated, tired and achey. To reset myself, I decided to eliminate alcohol, coffee, gluten and processed foods for one week.

One of my all time favorite things in life is a piece of peanut butter toast in the morning. I love sourdough bread, but I decided to swap gluten for protein this week so for breakfast, I alternated between my favorite yogurt bowl: Fage O% Milk Fat yogurt, Kind Granola, cinnamon and local honey and eggs with freshly made salsa.

For lunch I mixed it up by making a smoothie or ordering from Sweet Green or Chipotle and I decided to get the most creative with my dinners for the week. I didn’t realize it, but Will and I normally eat quite a bit of gluten so it was a bit of a challenge to eliminate that for a week of meals. Since I never know what our weekends will bring, I only plan meals Monday through Thursday night, here’s a look at what I made for the week!

The Defined Dish Mushroom Lettuce Cups

Monday Dinner: The Defined Dish Mushroom Lettuce Cups. Will and I absolutely LOVED this recipe. It was so easy to cook (and clean up) and it was surprising filling. I had three and I lost count of how many Will had..maybe seven? I’d highly recommend these if you’re wanting to eat clean or eliminate meat and fish.

Build Your Own Taco Salad Night

Tuesday Dinner: Taco Salad Night! I think this was my favorite meal of the week. For our taco salad, I used chopped romaine lettuce, taco meat (2 lbs. ground beef cooked with half of a diced white onion, salt, pepper, 1 tbsp. chili powder, 1tsp. ground cumin, 1 tsp. oregano), shredded cheese and black olives. Instead of using salad dressing which can be highly processed, I got a freshly made salsa from Central Market and topped the salad with my homemade guacamole (3 avocados, half of a diced white onion, 1 diced jalapeño, 1 tbsp. Maldon salt, 1/2 of a lime squeezed and topped with chopped cilantro.)

We also loved this meal and I served it as a “build your own taco salad” so I got to make mine exactly how I wanted and Will got to do the same for his. Super easy to make, filling and very healthy.

The Defined Dish’s Mongolian Chicken

Wednesday Dinner: The Defined Dish’s Mongolian Chicken with a carrot ginger spring salad. I’ve always loved Mongolian Beef, but had never heard about Mongolian Chicken until I saw it from the Defined Dish. As with all of Alex’s meals, it was amazing and SO easy to clean up…another one of her one pot wonders.

Because Will and I normally have some sort of a starch with our meals, I just made more chicken than I normally would and more salad to make sure we were both full and it worked out perfectly.

Broccoli with Grilled Chicken and homemade Alfredo sauce

Thursday Dinner: Broccoli with grilled chicken and homemade Alfredo sauce. By Thursday, I was ready for some comfort food so rather than making my favorite fettuccine Alfredo, I swapped the noodles for broccoli. I never use store-bought Alfredo sauce and I’m not saying my homemade sauce is light, but it is not heavily processed.

To make the sauce, heat 1/2 stick of butter in a sauté pan over low heat and add in 1 cup of heavy whipping cream–let simmer for five minutes. Slowly whisk in 1 and 1/2 cups of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Finally add in 2 tbsp. chopped Italian Parsley, 2 cloves of chopped garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

By the end of the week, I felt refreshed, my skin looked clear and dewey and I lost three pounds. How have you stayed healthy as life gets back to normal? Leave me a comment and let me know!

XO,

Brit

Weekly Meal Planning

Weekly Meal Planning

Meal planning–which is different than meal prepping, has changed my life completely and has made it better both physically and financially. Rather than cooking all of my meals for the week on Sunday and then putting them into containers to eat throughout the week, I just plan what I’m going to make throughout the week and make a concise grocery list. By being organized about what I’m going to eat and buy, I rarely waste food and save a lot of money.

Every Sunday I meal plan for our family. I start by pulling out my cookbooks to get inspiration for the meals I will cook during the week, then I take a look at what I already have in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer and finally, I make my list. I usually only plan meals Monday-Thursday because by the end of the week I’m tired and want to go out for dinner or we might have plans.

Once I’ve decided on what I’ll be cooking for the week, I make my list and try to organize it by where each item is located in the store. For example, I put all vegetables together, all meats and fish together, etc. By doing this, I can clearly see what I need from each area so I don’t end up at the register and realize I have forgotten the zucchini I need for my meal one night.

Make your list and check it twice! My sister-in-law got me these grocery notecards from Katie & Co. in Houston and I am so in love with them!

I started getting passionate about meal planning when I moved to Houston seven years ago. First and foremost, I had gained 15 lbs. from eating out too much and I was also looking to save money because I pretty much made no money at my first job in Houston, Neiman Marcus. Through meal planning, I actually learned to cook pretty well and it has become a hobby and passion of mine. Meal planning really saved us during the first months of the pandemic because I was able to get creative with what food we did have and make really delicious meals.

I live for the produce section at Central Market…my happy place.

I think it’s essential to have a plan when you go to the store. I don’t have a lot of free time so I don’t want to have to go to the store multiple times a week. By making a well-thought out list, you can save yourself a ton of time and money by not buying things you don’t need or forgetting things you really do need.

Voila! All done with grocery shopping for the week!

The best part of meal planning is that once you’re done with the shopping, all of your hard work is over for the week (in terms of food.) There’s no last-minute stress about what you’re going to make or do for the family because that’s all done…you just have to cook it!

Happy cooking, friends! I hope you all have a happy and healthy week ahead of you!

XO,

Brit

Date Night at Home

Date Night at Home

If you would have asked me a year ago what my favorite thing to do was, I would have instantly answered, “going out to dinner!” I love trying new restaurants and cuisines, but lately, I prefer cooking at home. I’m not sure whether its because of COVID or our new puppy, but I love being at home so our date nights have transitioned from going to our favorite restaurants to cooking at home as a family.

Tonight our menu was inspired by The Defined Dish’s Pan-Roasted Blackened Cajun Chicken. Alex warned us in her stories last night that getting boneless chicken breasts with the skin on might be a challenge, but the butchers at Central Market were happy to help me this morning, they were even excited to know what I was making!

When you’re at your local grocery store or meat market, just ask the butcher for boneless chicken breasts with skin. It’s not really common, but if you ask nicely, they’ll be happy to help.

When I saw Alex posting about this meal last night, I just knew we had to make it. Last year, my husband and I spent some time in the French countryside and ever since, I have such a new appreciation for chicken. The recipe Alex shared was inspired by the Cajun Chicken entree at Le Bilbouquet…one of my all time favorite restaurants. I’ve never had this dish in the restaurant, but I definitely will next time I go!

I paired our dinner tonight with a medium-bodied French red wine. I think the seasoning on the chicken paired so well with this wine!

For our date night, we started off with a little cheese board when Will got home from work. I kept it pretty simple, but used my favorite ingredients. Central Market makes my FAVORITE crackers, the rosemary crostini crackers…they are a game changer so I started out with those, selected a basil pesto goat cheese and a blue cheese, peppered salami and holiday grapes to round out my board. I like to drizzle local honey over my blue cheese because I think it gives it a really nice balance.

A little cheese board for our appetizer

For our salad, I made a version of a childhood favorite. I diced an apple, crumbled some goat cheese, added a dash of salt and pepper and mixed it with butter lettuce and a spring mix. I drizzled Garlic Expressions over it.

For our main entree, I served the pan-roasted chicken with oven frites and my mixed salad.

Pan-Roasted Blackened Cajun Chicken with Oven Frites

by Alex Snodgrass – The Defined Dish

Pan Roasted Blackened Chicken

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 lbs boneless, skin-on chicken breasts about 1 1/4 pounds
  • 1 tablespoon avacado oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine substitute chicken broth plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon arrowroot starch
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or whole 30 use ghee
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Oven Frites

  • 1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes or 2 large potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS 

Pan-Roasted Blackened Cajun Chicken

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • in a small bowl, combine the salt,pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper, paprika, rosemary, and oregano. Set aside.
  • Pat the chicken breasts dry and season the skin side with half the spice mixture.
  • in a medium oven-safe skillet, heat the avocado oil over medium-high heat until just starting to smoke. Carefully lay out the chicken breasts into the hot skillet skin side down. Cook without moving until the skin is deep golden brown and very crisp, about 6 minutes. While cooking season the second side of the chicken with the remaining spice mixture. Carefully flip the chicken breasts and transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake until cooked through, or when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breasts registers 150 degrees, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and set aside, reserving the pan juices in the skillet.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the wine, chicken broth, and arrowroot and whisk until the arrowroot dissolves. Set aside.
  • Pour off all but about 1 teaspoon of the fat from the skillet and place the pan over high heat. Add the garlic along with the wine mixture, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Cook, stirring until the sauce is reduces by two -thirds, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add butter and the lemon and allow the butter to just melt. Stir to combine. Taste the pan sauce and season with more salt and pepper, if desired.
  • Slice the chicken breasts and serve on individual plates. Spoon plenty of pan sauce over the slice chicken and serve with the oven frites.

Oven Frites

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Scrub the potatoes well, then cut them lengthwise into 1/2 inch wide fries.
  • Place the fries in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper until evenly coated.
  • Spread the fries across the prepared baking sheet in a single layer (you may need two baking sheets to ensure they are in a single layer and have plenty of room to crisp up).
  • Bake in the oven until potatoes are golden brown all over and crisp, about 30 minutes (and no, you do not need to toss during the cooking time at all).

This dinner was amazing!! My husband and I both loved it and were pretty impressed with just how good it was. The chicken was full of flavor and moist, the oven frites were excellent ( I roasted mine for about 45 minutes because I like them extra crispy) and we loved the salad!

What are y’all doing for your date nights this week?! Leave me a comment and let me know!!

XO,

Brit

Date Night Inspo: Crab Crakes and Sauvignon Blanc

Date Night Inspo: Crab Crakes and Sauvignon Blanc

Happy Friday, Loves! I don’t know about y’all, but lately date night at home seems more fun to me than going out to dinner. I can pick any wine I want and eat whatever I want all in the comfort of my home…with my hubby and pup too! Tonight, I am making the Defined Dish Cajun Crab Cakes and Remoulade for dinner with asparagus and a big glass of my current favorite white wine, Honig Sauvignon Blanc.

Because they are light and filling at the same time, crab cakes are one of my favorite meals for a hot summer night. These delicious crab cakes not only pack a big punch of flavor, but they are also Whole30 and Paleo-compliant, like most of the amazing recipes Alex creates.

Cajun Crab Cakes and Remoulade recipe excerpted from The Defined Dish: Healthy and Wholesome Weeknight Recipes © 2019 by Alex Snodgrass. 

INGREDIENTS:

FOR THE REMOULADE

¼ cup homemade mayo

1 tablespoon creole or dijon mustard

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (1/2 lemon)

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 green onion (White and green parts), finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon capers, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon Louisiana-style hot sauce

1 teaspoon dill relish, no sugar added

½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

FOR THE CRAB CAKES

16 ounces fresh lump crab meat

½ red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced

2 green onions (White and green parts), thinly sliced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving

2 tablespoons arrowroot starch

4 celery stalks, ends trimmed and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces

1 medium white onion, halved and thinly sliced (2 cups)

3 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced

INSTRUCTIONS

For the Crab Cakes:

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  • In a large bowl, combine the crabmeat, bell pepper, green onions, mayo, cassava flour, salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper, cayenne pepper and thyme. Use a fork to mix until just combined.
  • Using 1/2 cup measuring cup, scoop out crab mixture and, using your hands, form into patties. Set on the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate for about 20 minutes so that they firm up.
  • Pour the almond flour on a plate. Very lightly dredge each chilled crab cake in the flour and tap off any excess flour. You don’t want them caked in flour or they’ll taste dry, just lightly dusted. Return the coated crab cakes to the baking sheet.
  • In a large non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When very hot, but not smoking, carefully arrange the crab cakes in the bottom of the skillet, taking care not to crowd the pan. You will most likely have to do this in batches. Sear the patties until golden brown and slightly crispy, about 3-4 minutes on the first side. Using a sturdy spatula, carefully flip, and continue to cook on the other side for 3 more minutes. Transfer the cooked crab cakes to a wire rack to keep them from getting soggy before serving. Repeat with the remaining crab cakes.
  • Serve with hot remoulade and enjoy.

To Make the Remoulade:

  • In a medium bowl, combine the mayo, mustard, lemon juice, parsley, green onion, garlic, capers, hot sauce, relish. apple cider vinegar, paprika, salt and cayenne pepper. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

What are you cooking up this weekend?! Leave me a comment and let me know!

XO,

Brit

The Defined Dish Black Pepper Chicken

The Defined Dish Black Pepper Chicken

Tonight I am making The Defined Dish Black Pepper Chicken for dinner. This light, asian-inspired dish is a perfect dinner to get your week off to a healthy start.

Black Pepper Chicken recipe excerpted from The Defined Dish: Healthy and Wholesome Weeknight Recipes © 2019 by Alex Snodgrass.

INGREDIENTS:

BLACK PEPPER SAUCE

¼ cup chicken broth

¼ cup coconut aminos

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon fish sauce (Red Boat)

1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper (see note)

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

CHICKEN

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons avocado oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving

2 tablespoons arrowroot starch

4 celery stalks, ends trimmed and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces

1 medium white onion, halved and thinly sliced (2 cups)

3 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS:

MAKE THE BLACK PEPPER SAUCE: In a small bowl, whisk together the broth, coconut aminos, vinegar, fish sauce, black pepper and ground ginger. Set aside until ready to use.

MAKE THE CHICKEN: Place the chicken breasts on a cutting board and cover with parchment paper. Use a meat mallet or the bottom of a skillet to pound the chicken until it is an even ¼ inch thick. Discard the parchment, then cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes.

Place the cubed chicken in a medium bowl with 2 teaspoons of the avocado oil, salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat, then add the arrowroot and toss again.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining ¼ cup avocado oil. When the oil is very hot but not smoking, add the chicken to the skillet in a single layer (you may need to do this in two batches). Cook the chicken until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add the celery and onion to the same skillet and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are slightly tender, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, being careful not to burn, about 1 minute.

Return the chicken to the skillet with the sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the sauce is thick and coats the chicken and vegetables, about 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and season with salt to taste. Serve as is or with cauliflower rice, and top with a sprinkle of pepper.

NOTE: Regular old ground black pepper just doesn’t work in this dish! It’s essential that you use freshly cracked black pepper.

In the cookbook, Alex suggests serving the black pepper chicken over cauliflower rice, but my husband loves white rice so I served mine tonight with Lundberg Farms Jasmine rice. If you want a little more spice, peppers would be a great addition to this dish, but it is really delicious the way it is.

I hope you love this dish! Leave me a comment and let me know what you are cooking tonight!

XO,

Brit

Cinco de Mayo Celebrations at Home

Cinco de Mayo Celebrations at Home

Can you believe Cinco de Mayo is just one week away?! Yes, it does fall on a Tuesday this year so even more reasons for celebrations! I have always loved Cinco de Mayo, not only because of my love of margaritas and queso, but also because it is my dad’s birthday!

Dad enjoying a margarita in San Diego!

Cook Something Fun

This year, my Cinco de Mayo celebrations will be a little bit different than usual. I won’t be celebrating with my dad which is the worst part, but I will be celebrating in his honor at home. A couple of weeks ago I was going through The Defined Dish cookbook and found my new favorite recipe. The Enchiladas con Carne that Alex created are SO good, I truly couldn’t believe I cooked something so good. My husband literally said to me, “this is the best thing you’ve ever made, why do we go out to eat anymore?” It was one of my proudest moments.

The Defined Dish’s Enchiladas con Carne

Needless to say, I cannot wait to make these again!! In addition to serving the enchiladas, I will be making Clayton’s Grapefruit Margaritas and my own little guacamole recipe.

Wear a Cute Outfit

A celebration is not complete without a fun outfit and right now I am loving my Mi Golondrina headband and this amazing “Spicy” clutch by Trina Turk which will be the perfect accessories for a fiesta at home!

Mi Golondrina Headband
Lime Topo Chico with a side of a Spicy Trina Turk Clutch

Spice Up Your Life with Fiesta Decor

Finally, decorating an area of your home with festive fiesta decorations can instantly create a party mood. I found the cutest mini llama pinatas and this balloon fiesta sign on Amazon.  I plan to use leftover llama garland from a previous holiday party to decorate my bar cart along with margarita glasses and all the ingredients necessary to make margaritas all night long!

a fun bar cart is the perfect compliment to any party!

What are your plans for Cinco de Mayo? Leave me a comment below to let me know how you will be celebrating this year!

XO,

Brit

A Taste of Bistro Menil at Home

A Taste of Bistro Menil at Home

I am drawing on the inspiration of one of my favorite lunches to create my dinner tonight. In Houston, tucked away in the lush area between the Museum District and vibrant Montrose neighborhood is the Bistro Menil. In a city that is known for its heavy Tex-Mex and love of meats, Bistro Menil delivers refreshingly light European fare.

One of my absolute favorite things to do in Houston is to spend the day at The Menil Collection. I start with lunch–a glass of sparkling rosé with the bistro Caesar salad with salmon at Bistro Menil for lunch and then hop over to the Menil to see the works of Cy Twombly, Mark Rothko and so many more, and finish off the day by sitting on a blanket in the many green spaces between the iconic museum and the Rothko Chapel.

Picnic at the Menil

Of course I can’t do any of this right now because of Coronavirus restrictions so I am bringing the Menil to my kitchen in Austin tonight. To make the Caesar salad, I am going to use a version of The Defined Dish’s Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad *minus the chicken* and my pan fried salmon recipe.

Pan Fried Salmon with The Defined Dish’s Caesar Pasta Salad

To make the Salmon:

  • 2 (4 oz.) salmon filets
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced

Pat salmon dry and coat with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, when oil is hot, but not smoking, add salmon–skin side up. Season skin with salt and pepper and cook for about six minutes. Flip over and add chicken stock and lemon juice. Serve with with The Defined Dish’s Caesar Pasta Salad and enjoy!

Let me know what you think of this recipe and what you are cooking tonight!

XO,

Brit