Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Miracle Noodle: Hot or Not

Read that label and tell me these Miracle Noodles don't sound like a magical bag of goodness that you don't wanna just run right out and try right this second?! I can't even tell y'all how many posts and articles I've seen online and on social media recently about these infamous Shirataki noodles. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this popular noodle substitute that is taking the low-carb world by storm, let me clue you in! Known for its health benefits for 2000 years in China and Japan, Shirataki is made from the root plant called the Konnyaku Imo. Shiratake is made only from the soluble fiber of the plant, making it extremely low in calories and zero carbs! Miracle? Maybe so. 

Needless to say, the anticipation to try this item was high and I've heard mixed reviews: some people love them and say they are a newfound miracle to the low carb diet world. Some people don't like the texture, some people can't even tell they're not eating a normal noodle, it's really all over the board. That being said, when I saw on Miracle Noodle's Instagram that their products were now being sold in Whole Foods and Sprouts, I knew I had to make a trip to my neighborhood Sprouts to pick up a few bags and experiment! #fortheloveoftheblog

Online, I saw the fettucine noodles, the spinach noodles, ziti noodles and the angel hair but I picked up 2 bags of the angel hair because this pasta-loving girl adores some angel hair. It's always been a favorite over the traditional spaghetti noodles. And side note, I can't even believe I'm saying this but it's been well over a year since I've enjoyed pasta. How is that even possible?! Can I get a "hallelujah"? Christmas miracle, people! 

In preparation for making the noodles, I found myself reaching out to people on Instagram who I knew loved the product to get their tips and tricks on cooking them properly. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, told me it was so incredibly important to rinse them thoroughly and to saute them in a pan for 10-15 minutes to dry them out after boiling them. I also heard that if you saute them after that in a robust, flavorful sauce, the noodles really take on the flavor of the sauce.. thus making them a miracle and magical. Knowing that I had a little more information about the product besides the package's instructions made me feel a little more confident and I followed them exactly. Below, here's what they look like as they're boiling. Surprisingly looking like rice noodles, am I right?

My initial thoughts on the smell of the product were that it smelled 100%, without a shadow of a doubt, no lie like Nikelodeon Gak. Do you remember that stuff? 

Blast from the past! And totally my childhood right there. 

Even my husband agreed that it had the exact same smell without me prompting him. This did not excite me, let me just tell ya! Gak.. noodles.. say it ain't so!

I decided to add my 2 packages of Miracle Noodles to my low carb homemade meat marinara sauce and although I followed the instructions I was given, let me just say that I was sadly less than pleased with the result. It looked like normal noodles, didn't have any sort of funky smell that I was actually anticipating once they were in the sauce, and really, looking at the picture below- doesn't it look like a delicious little bowl of goodness?

The mouth feel for me, personally, was that of rubber bands and because of that, after a few chews, my small bite may or may not have not gone down my throat. And further, there may or may not have been a  Whataburger bunless burger for each of us shortly thereafter for our actual dinner because this wasn't gonna cut it. #noshame

I was, however, super impressed that the smell of the noodles in the package didn't impact the taste at all because they literally tasted like nothing when intermixed with the sauce. My issue was really just the texture. If you're at all funny or picky about textures, know ahead of time that these may not be a favorite. If you don't mind chewing your noodles extra and the slimey-ness isn't something that bothers you, you may really love these. 

I just really can't see myself reaching for a "noodle" that is super chewy and rubber-y when I really, really enjoy zucchini noodles and spaghetti squash versions of pasta. For me, the veggie noodles that I make fresh with my Veggetti are a miracle in themselves and they totally cure any pasta craving I've had for over a year now.. and we enjoy them so much! I've even converted my pasta-loving parents to zucchini noodles and spaghetti squash, which is a huge win in my book. 

Overall, Miracle Noodles were no miracle in my life and I'm gonna have to pass on ever touching, eating, looking at, smelling trying them again but I am so happy that I finally hopped on the bandwagon to try them out! I am really trying to branch out and experiment with different cult favorites and new foods to incorporate in our day to day food routine. I've said it once but I'll say it again- it can be so easy to keep going back to the foods that are easy and that you know you love and can have on your low- carb plan. Or really any plan, for that matter. I will mention that I have seen so many people loving them and transforming them into macaroni, ziti, spaghetti bakes- I've seen it all and they all look incredible. My opinions and thoughts are completely my own and I know that even though I wasn't a fan, some of you will probably try and love them.. and I truly hope that you make them soon and love them more than I did. I wanted to love them so much. SO much! 

Have you tried shirataki noodles? If so, what was your experience? I would love to hear from you!

Happy Wednesday, lovelies! How is tomorrow already Christmas Eve? How is that even possible? Have a wonderful day!


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Roasted Garlic & Cracked Pepper Radishes and Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Have you ever crossed paths with someone who just instantly understood you, "gets" you and you just felt like, "yep! This person gets me. She's a game changer and she just gets my journey, gets it, gets the struggle, gets everything and now she's stuck with me forever"? That's how I felt when I finally got to work alongside a co-worker who advises students at a different campus. I'd met her in passing but hadn't really gotten to actually talk to her. In about 5 minutes, Lisa and I were talking about our weight loss journeys, the struggle of it, but more than that, the more I talked with her about products, food items and restaurants she's loving, the more notes I took on my trusty little sticky notes. There may have been 3 or 4 in a single conversation. If you know me at all, you know I love me a good sticky note pad and I go through them in about a nanosecond.. because of people like Lisa who are constantly changing my life with things to try, places to go, items on Amazon to check out, menus to look into. I'm a copious note taker and not even a little ashamed of it. Ha! 

The more I talked with her- I was lucky enough to work with her a hand full of evenings last month- the more support we offered each other and the more notes I took ferociously on my trusty post its. From the get-go, she just got me. And I, her. So often you come across people freely cramming carbs into their faces and drinking wine and fun, festive little cocktails and they're LOSING weight and their bodies are able to not blow up like mine (bless y'all.. I kinda want to be you).  It's not very often that in my real life I have people outside of my family who really get it. Like, live it. Every day, every meal, every snack, all. the. time. Over and over again. So on those nights when I worked with her, I felt like, for a few hours, it wasn't just me. It wasn't just my husband and I vs. every meal that we can't have. And it was empowering and encouraging and quite honestly, therapeutic, to have someone who just walked up to me, sat down next to me and pretty much told me my own story to my face. And said everything out loud that I've thought quietly to myself. That on top of the fact that she's wickedly sarcastic and a total riot just made me instantly adore her even more. So, Lisa, I know you're reading this.. and you're stuck with me. :)

So, when she asked me if I'd ever roasted radishes because they taste like little new potatoes, my ears perked up and my fingers starting scouring the internet for pictures and recipes. Is this really real life? Could radishes be transformed into potatoes?? And that's when I knew I'd be making a stop to the grocery store to pick up a few bundles of the vegetable I do NOT allow into my fridge. Because, well, it's a salad garnish. A topper. The bite to it is unmistakable and.. ew. I do not, as a rule, get excited about my daily salad. I'm fine with it, I manage it, I work through it, but a salad topper isn't what this blog is all about. Let's keep it real. But roasting them until they turn into magical little potatoes? I can get behind that! And I am now such a HUGE fan. 

This past weekend, I tried my hand at roasting those beloved radishes and what came out of the oven is nothing short of a delicious little Christmas miracle. I wouldn't say that they are truly potato-y because it doesn't have the same fluffiness and starch that a potato would offer.. obviously. But they are about as close to a new potato as I've had in almost a year, and hey.. I'll take it! Make these soon, you will adore them. 

Roasted Garlic & Cracked Pepper Radishes

3 bunches of radishes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt 
2 teaspoons fresh cracked pepper
3 cloves of garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Line baking pan with aluminum foil
Wash and dry all 3 bunches of radishes 
Trim tops of radishes and slice radishes in half 
Place trimmed and sliced radishes on baking pan and drizzle olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic on top and use your hands to evenly distribute and coat 
Place dish in the oven for 20-25 minutes until slightly caramelized, golden and perfectly roasted 
Let radishes cool for 5 minutes and place in a dish to serve, adding additional sat and pepper to taste 

Who knew that the veggie that I avoid 100% of the time I'm in the produce section would end up being chopped and roasted with garlic, salt and pepper in my kitchen? Like I said, Christmas miracle. 

The color on these babies: to die for. 

Trimming the tops and cutting the radishes in half 

Post radish massage of olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper

Oh my word.. fresh out of the oven and they were perfectly tender and smelled incredible 

 I tend to like my roasted veggies reeeeaaally roasted #gobigorgohome 
And these were incredible and such a new household favorite! I served them with a garlic herb roasted chicken and a salad and there wasn't a radish in sight at the end of our meal. 

I'm already having visions of my next little roasted radish adventure that pairs these gorgeous little dudes with the same ingredients but adding lemon juice and a little Parmesan into the mix. I'm under the notion that Parmesan and lemon make anything better. It's just a fact of life, really. 

So, there you have it! I felt a little wild and crazy roasting a veggie that I'd never thought of doing anything with other than ingoring.. and I can't say enough how exciting it was to try something new and different. Because it's so easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to food. It gets so easy to reach for the same foods you know you like, you know are easy, and you know are on plan. 

But sometimes, sometimes.. live a little! And I'm taking my own advice here. They say that variety is the spice of life. Well, those people people probably aren't trying to live each day under 20g of net carbs and probably also don't have a list a mile long of foods they have to avoid and that are everywhere and in almost everything delicious. But I am determined to step out of my comfort zone and try new foods, new recipes and new ways of switching this up.. because I am in this for the long haul. 

This is the rest of my life and every day is a choice and every meal either gets me closer to my goals or further behind. And I've spent too many years being far behind. Wishing to not have this body. Wishing, waiting, hoping and not doing. This year has been a year to squash all of that and I'm all the better because of it. In a food rut I have definitely been a victim of being simply because I know what works for me and what's easy to throw together at the end of the day. This lifestyle does not have to mean boring chicken and broccoli 7 nights a week and sometimes, while I blog and post fun recipes and things to try, that's hard to remember.. especially when life gets busy. Which it most certainly has been! 

I hope that whether it's roasting a radish or taking a step out of your comfort zone in your job or a project.. or going to a new exercise class, that you truly seize the moment and just do it. You have today. This moment. Get out of that rut and just go for it. You've got this. 

What's something new you've been wanting to try? I'd love to hear from y'all. And happy Friday Eve everyone! We're almost to the weekend! 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Christmas Home Tour

Fa la la la la la la la it's my favorite time of year! I don't know about you, but nothing gets me as excited as when it's time to head up to the attic to take down all of our favorite Christmas decorations. Which, this year, happened to be the week of Thanksgiving! You can never start too early. #sorrynotsorry 

Each year, we get a few new items to add to our little Christmas collection and there's nothing I love more than a good ol' fashioned Holiday Bazaar to get unique, handmade items to have around the house that you just can't pick up at your local Pottery Barn or HomeGoods. From ornaments to sparkly everything, I just love it all.

I love seeing blog posts from my favorite bloggers showing their Christmas decorations. And there's nothing I like more than getting ideas and seeing other people's favorite holiday decor. So, to kick off the first Bluebonnets & Bacon Christmas, welcome to our home during the hap-happiest season of all! Kick your shoes off, enjoy a glass of eggnog and come on in. We're so glad you're here. 

This garland just makes my heart happy! It's such a mess to put up every year, but even Ben will say that he loves the finished product when it's all said and done.

Our mantle changes from year to year with different items we add to our collection of Christmas and just overall placement of items that we have, but I'm really feeling this year's set up. Trees, Father Christmas, a snowman hand painted on a gourd.. just perfect!

And gold, silver and sparkly because.. do you know me?

I'm a huge fan of stockings. Don't ask me why. I still hang the same one I've had since I was born on my parent's mantle and being the huge fan of tradition that I am, I insisted on keeping it there. I hate change, what can I say. So, that meant Ben and I had to get stockings that we loved for our first Christmas together. I love these and am not ashamed to say that we found them at Cracker Barrel of all places! Ha! We get a ton of compliments on them every year and they fit in perfectly on our mantle in the new house. 

And.. red and gold sparkly.. because, again, this is me you're talking about..

I decorate our chest-turned-coffee table each season and if you look in any direction in our home at Christmas, you'll find one thing: dishes with ornaments in them. Everywhere. I just can't stop myself. 

We have this guy on the wall by the door to the garage and I love it. He is the reason for the season and it's the perfect reminder to get me in the Christmas spirit every day when I'm coming or going.

Our island gets a little Christmas crazy and I added the poinsettias this year and I love it. I can't see your face if I'm by the sink and you're sitting at the island in front of me, but I love it. Ha. #fortheloveofchristmas

Again, ornaments. Everywhere. But this little Santa painted on a log is my new FAVORITE. He has a snowman friend on the other side of the island and we purchased them both when we were at our family's lakehouse in Virginia back in October at a church holiday bazaar. I may or may not have bought 2 other logs for Fall painted as pumpkins. And I also may or may not have stashed them in my dad's luggage on the way home. He, then, may or may not have gotten stopped by TSA for carrying these painted "weapons" on board an airplane. #worthit

I'm obsessed with them. The old lady who we bought them from went to Europe over Christmas one year and noticed them all over the nightly Christmas markets. So, she came home and decided to try it out and let me tell ya, they were selling like hot cakes! I hope every southern Virginian has their homes stocked with these painted logs because it's just the most perfect idea. If I were at all crafty, I would most assuredly steal the idea. But, I'm not. And I cant.

 Between the kitchen and the living room is this cute little Christmas-y nook. And my sweet little Daisy doing what she does best: photobombing.

This little sleigh is what we put our Christmas cards in. My mom does the same thing with a cute sleigh that she's had forever and what can I say? Old traditions die hard. Or don't die at all in my case.. 

This is one of my favorite new additions to this year's collection. We've been looking the last few years for a countdown to Christmas/Advent and we fell in love with this little Christmas cottage. Looks so cozy and reminds me of our first little rental home in Colorado and the excitement of our first Christmas as a married couple. And the memories in that sweet little house. All things to love. 

Our dining room table is another that changes from year to year. Silver and red got the nod this year and I just re-used placemats that I usually put in the kitchen. I'm all about shopping in my own little store and putting things in different places around the house. Don't be afraid to change it up!

Plaid and reindeer plaid? Check and check! The dollar section at Target was a GEM for giving me these dish towels.

I keep it simple at our kitchen table every year. And I love it that way.

This little winter elf family makes me so insanely happy it's ridiculous. Again, we found this at a local holiday bazaar and saw them and instantly fell in love. To our surprise, the vendor had us pick out our own little elves to make our own little family, added eyelashes and said she'd add names to the bottom of the reclaimed wood if we wanted her to. It was love at first sight with this little elf family, gotta tell ya.. 

The first Christmas we were married my parents gifted us these nutcrackers that are pretty much the perfect depiction of us as a couple of nutcrackers: a hunter and a shopper! Love them.

We have so many people asking about our tree. Because it's magical. With the press of a button, it goes from colored lights to white, which is perfect if you know Ben and I at all. He's Team Color Lights and I've always been on Team White Lights. Anyways, it's 9 feet of amazing and we love it so much. 

But what we love the most about it are the memories that are on the tree. My parents have always given my brother and I a special ornament every Christmas since we were born of things that happened that year. So, when we were married, our first tree had 26 years of special memories and moments in lieu of the pretty, typical ball ornaments of most trees. Ours isn't glamorous by any means but it's special. And putting on our ornaments each year is a sentimental trip down memory lane for both of us as Ben also has a collection of  special ornaments his parents gave him throughout his life. We always get an ornament for trips we take and special vacations each year or special things that have happened during the year and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Our anniversary this year in Florida..

My birthday trip to Seattle with some of our best friends

One of the stops on the European cruise we took for our honeymoon

And my most favorite nativity that we put under our tree. Ben grew up with this nativity under his tree. Knowing that it's a piece of my favorite person's childhood Christmas memories and that it will be in all of our family's precious Christmas memories to come is just so special to us both.

Coming out of our bedroom and going down the hallway is my most favorite walk of the day with this view..

But my most favorite thing of all is who I get to spend all my Christmases with. I'm the luckiest wife in the world to call this guy mine. 

Thanks for stopping by our home at Christmastime! 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Chicken Enchilada Zucchini Boats

Have you seen those ridiculous/insane/delicious/mouthwatering/where-have-they-been-all-my-life Tasty videos circulating your social media feeds recently? Well, they are ALL over my Facebook from friends posting and sharing the most incredible, carb-laden recipes that just literally make my mouth water drool. TMI? So sorry. But it's true! Nearly every time Ben and I see one, we always roll our eyes and say, "where the heck was THIS last year?" or "Really? 45 seconds to make buttery cake or tater tot nachos, are you KIDDING me?" It happens on the daily around here, but if you can't eat it, it gets old after a while. And there are only so many videos involving Oreos I can handle before I must go out and buy all the Oreos. #noshame

So, imagine my surprise when my sweet coworker shared a Tasty video with the most delicious looking and totally on plan "enchiladas"! If there's one food group this Texas girl cannot get enough of, it's TexMex. I adore it. And it's actually the one thing that I can still enjoy (even without the margarita-- even though it is dearly missed) and still stay on plan. From the guacamole to fajitas, I just really love it all and when I initially saw this recipe using zucchini as the vehicle to hold the enchilada ingredients, I was super excited. Zucchini is another one of those vegetables that can turn itself into so much: noodles (zoodles are a favorite in our house), tortillas (recipe to come) and now enchiladas? Mind blown. And they are so inexpensive, so what's not to love?

I've seen different versions of this recipe all over the place and am happy to report that they are all going to be to die for because they're all pretty much the same. I'm excited to switch up ingredients and maybe do ground beef the next time, but then again, why mess with perfection? I made these one chilly Friday night just to try it out- I had 4 zucchinis on hand and all of the ingredients- and Ben and I loved them. We topped them with a little salsa, a little sour cream and a little avocado and they were absolutely heavenly and just what the doctor ordered for a little Mexican dining in the comfort of our own home. 

I also turned my favorite cauliflower rice into Mexican cauliflower rice and that recipe is coming soon! Because you definitely need that in your life.  I will say that they do NOT keep well overnight, so if you plan on making any for leftovers to eat throughout the week, these are a no-go because the water in the zucchini really comes out and makes them incredibly soggy. But I can definitely see these coming in handy in place of Taco Tuesday in your casa soon! 

Chicken Enchilada Zucchini Boats 

4 medium zucchinis 
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow or white onion
3 garlic cloves, minced 
1/2 cup diced bell pepper (any color) 
8 oz cooked, shredded chicken (I used rotisserie chicken because I had it on hand) 
1 tsp cumin 
1/2 tsp dried oregano 
1/2 tsp kosher salt 
1 tsp chili powder
3 tbsp water or chicken broth 
1/2 can red enchilada sauce 
1/2 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese 

1. Preheat the oven to 400. Cut each zucchini lengthwise, then using a spoon to scoop out the flesh, hollow out each zucchini half to create the zucchini boats. Set the boats aside and chop all of the scooped out zucchini flesh into small pieces. 
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper. Saute until the onion has softened and become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the chopped zucchini flesh, salt, cumin, oregano, chili powder, 3 tbsp of enchilada sauce and chicken broth and chicken and stir to mix. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. 
3. Spread 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan sprayed with non-stick spray. Line up all of the hollowed zucchini halves in the pan, then spoon the filling evenly into each zucchini boat. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over top of the zucchini, then sprinkle with shredded cheese. 
4. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes until cheese is melted and the zucchini is tender.
5. Sprinkle with additional chopped cilantro and green onions if desired. 

All the makings of a perfect, low carb Texmex feast!

What I like to call the Texmex Trinity. Beautiful. 

Hollowed out the zucchinis and they are ready for the pan! 

Is it pathetic how much I love the smell of sauted veggies and garlic in a little oil in my kitchen? 

Adding in the flesh of the zucchinis 

And all the rest of the yummy, savory ingredients! The original recipe called for a while can of red enchilada sauce and I opted to use less to get less carbs out of the meal. Just eyeball it until it's perfect. I also added in more chicken because #whynot 

Spooning all of that gloriousness into my boats

And topping with cheese! To say I over-filled them is the understatement of the century but we'll go with it.. 
How perfect do these look right out of the oven? 

Pre-sour cream and avocado and these babies were so delicious and FILLING. I was so impressed. One boat and I was done, so definitely err on the side of less is more so you don't end up with a ton of leftover boats because, as I mentioned, they do not keep well in the fridge. Unless you wanna be that girl thinking you're being the sweetest daughter ever and popping over to your parent's house to bring them a feast of boats the next day.. only to have them be a soggy mess! I may or may not have been that girl..  

But, you guys! You've got to make these soon. It must be the Texas in me but we just can't get enough Mexican food and I'm always so happy to find other recipes that deviate from the typical fajita meat and veggies and tortilla-less tacos because there's only so much excitement I can have over grilled meat and veggies, am I right? I can totally get behind these and am excited to make these for friends soon! 

If you make these glorious little boats, take a picture and share it on my Facebook or Instagram! I love seeing your creations more than you know. And speaking of Facebook, if you don't already follow me on Facebook, make sure to "Like" and Share my page with your friends and family to stay up to date on all things BB&B. 

Happy Wednesday! And to my sweet, hilarious, sarcastic, supportive, encouraging, loving, special and 100% authentic and always keepin' it real momma, I hope you have the best birthday ever! I'm so happy I get to spend the day celebrating you.. WITH you! 

Blogging tips