Friday, March 29, 2013

Crockpot Polynesian Chicken

I feel kind of guilty. While other people have been frolicking on the beach and taking their kids to do all kinds of fun activities this week, my kids have spent their spring break at home watching me do this.

This is what I have collected so far to donate to Goodwill. In a nutshell, I have FOUR children, and I had gotten rid of virtually NONE of their clothes. Sadly, I'm not even close to done. 

In spite of all the heavy labor I've been doing, I've still managed to squeeze in my workouts! In fact, yesterday I did Asylum 1 Vertical Plyo. The good part about spring break is I get to sleep later. The bad part is my kids have been awake everyday before I even started my workout. 

As I was doing Vertical Plyo yesterday, baby girl came down to do it with me. Yay. Just what I wanted in my child-free zone. 

She was actually pretty cute though. She was trying to copy everything I did. And then, at one blessed point during the exercise, she said, "Mommy, you're on the T.V!" 

I said, "Huh?" 'Cause I'm an eloquent speaker like that.

She proceeded to go over to the T.V. and point to one of the very fit and attractive women who was exercising in the Asylum video.

Now I'm not saying I have a favorite child. Because I don't. But if I did have a favorite, in that moment it quite likely would have been baby girl. For the record, I'm fairly certain I looked nothing like the fit and attractive woman in the video. We all know how I actually look when I workout.

Anyway, I decided to pull out the good old crockpot for last night's dinner. You know how I love to get all the work done on the front end of my day. We had Crockpot Polynesian Chicken. It's one of my favorite meals. Here's what you'll need.

First you're going to drain the juice from the pineapple into a small bowl.

I'm aware this totally looks like a bowl of urine. I knew it as soon as I took it. Which is also why I knew it was definitely going on the blog!

Next you'll add the soy sauce, garlic and honey to the juice and whisk to combine.

Finally, add the cornstarch, and stir until well-combined.

Next, put your chicken in the crockpot. I always buy my chicken when it's on sale and freeze it. I also like to go ahead and cube some of the chicken before I freeze it so it's totally ready for a meal like this one. Brilliant, right?!?

 Pour the pineapple over the chicken.

 Then pour your sauce on top. Or have your cute 10-year-old do it so you can take a picture at the same time.

Now you're ready to go! Cook 4 - 5 hours on low. About an hour before you're ready to eat, slice up a bell pepper into thin strips.

Add the bell pepper to the crockpot and let it cook for the last hour. Serve over rice.

So yummy and low calorie!

Crockpot Polynesian Chicken (adapted from Skinny Ms. recipe)
  • 4 chicken breasts, cut into 2" cubes
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 20 oz. can pineapple chunks in natural juice
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp. + cornstarch
~Pour juice from pineapple into small bowl. Add soy sauce, garlic and honey to juice and whisk to combine. Add cornstarch and stir until well-combined. Place chicken in crockpot. Add pineapple chunks. Pour sauce mixture over chicken and cook on low 4 - 5 hours. Add bell pepper for last hour of cooking. Serve over rice.

Question of the Day

How often do you use your crockpot?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning is in full force around here! I have so many baby clothes that I still haven't gotten out of the house; so far I have packed up at least 10 boxes to donate!

It is bittersweet to say goodbye to those tiny outfits. It's cleansing to know I might be saving myself from being showcased on the next episode of Hoarders, but it's also a little sad to know I won't have another baby. Until my 4 kids start screaming simultaneously. Then the sadness kind of goes away.

Since I'm busy cleaning, I decided I shouldn't overwork myself in the cooking department. Last night we had a bunch of leftovers for dinner. I used some of the leftover BBQ chicken from our Walking Dead party to make myself a delicious salad!

This morning (after my Insanity workout!) I had arranged a playdate for the boy, which meant I got to have a visit with my dear friend, Abby. It's our tradition to eat an unhealthy breakfast together, so I had to pull out the cream cheese casserole recipe again. I only eat it like 3 times a year, I swear!

After Abby left it was time to get back to cleaning. Naturally this meant another simple dinner was in order. I whipped up some leftover spaghetti for the rest of the family, but I was craving a pizza pocket! My sister introduced me to this pita bread a couple of months ago. I found it in the bakery section at Walmart.

With only 60 calories, I love these as a substitute for other breads/crusts. I cut it in half, stuff it with sauce, ONE serving of cheese, and any pizza toppings I have on hand. Today that was bell peppers and banana peppers. Then just heat in the microwave for 45 seconds!

So good! And all for about 200 calories! Which was especially good since I had approximately 12,000 calories for breakfast.

Question of the Day

What's your favorite way to use leftovers?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Zombies and My Favorite BBQ Grilled Chicken Recipe

On any given Sunday night that is followed by a Monday where our kids don't have to go to school, you can find us with our friends, Shan and Tim. We have food. We have fellowship. And then we send the kids to the basement to watch a nice, wholesome movie while we adults get our zombie fix.

Last night was no different. Shan had the brilliant idea that we should have a big, country dinner in honor of The Walking Dead. We had grilled and fried chicken tenders, mashed potatoes, green beans, fried squash, cornbread, and apple pie. It was amazing!

I prepared the grilled chicken on Saturday night. I used my favorite recipe for BBQ grilled chicken. You'll need a few ingredients for the marinade.

First, you chop the onion. Then you sautee it in a little bit of oil along with the garlic.

When the onion is tender, you add the rest of the ingredients and let it simmer on the stove for about 20 minutes.

Let the marinade cool for a few minutes. Then place some chicken in a shallow dish and pour most of the marinade over it. Reserve about 1/3 cup to baste the chicken with while it's grilling. Let your chicken soak up all that flavor for a good long while - overnight is best.

Now it's time to grill! This is the part where everybody pats Jeff on the back and tells him what a great job he did preparing the chicken while completely neglecting the work I did on the front end. Ha! I will say, to Jeff's credit, that there was a monsoon happening while he was grilling this chicken yesterday, and he totally took one for the team. It was delicious!

Since this week is spring break (woot!), Jeff and I were able to sleep a little later than usual before getting to our workout. We finally rolled out of bed around 7:30 this morning and headed to the basement for P90X Chest, Shoulders and Triceps routine. This workout is killer for the triceps. We were both feeling it by the end!

The rest of the day is going to be dedicated to spring cleaning. We have some serious work to do!

Jen's BBQ Grilled Chicken
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic (or minced)
  • 1-1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 - 2.5 lbs. chicken tenders or breasts
~Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 5 - 10 min., or until onion is tender. Add ketchup, Worcestershire, vinegar, brown sugar and water. Mix together well. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Set aside, covered, and let cool. 

Place chicken in a shallow, nonporous dish and pour cooled sauce over chicken. Reserve about 1/3 cup of sauce in a separate container for basting. Cover chicken and let marinate in refrigerator at least one hour or overnight. Cover reserved sauce and refrigerate.

Grill over medium high heat, basting occasionally with the reserved sauce.

Question of the Day

What's your guilty pleasure?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sleepover Madness

Last night we hosted a sleepover to celebrate daughter #2's birthday (again). I was seriously so exhausted going into the party (after my poor night's sleep on Thursday) that I didn't know how I was going to make it.

The birthday girl loves the movie Brave, so she wanted a Brave cake for her birthday. But she doesn't really like cake; we settled on a cookie cake instead. Here's what momma came up with.

Once all the little guests arrived, the only things I could hear were shrieks of excitement and every Disney channel song ever made in the last 2 years. Then we had dance contests, and lots of them. Second grade choreography is a thing to behold.

The children feasted on nachos, chicken nuggets, and cheese puffs for dinner. Oh, and we had fruit. Followed by cookie cake and ice cream. It was the picture of health, really.

Jeff had to take the boy to a baseball game while the party was going on. Have I mentioned that baseball is a high maintenance sport? Because it is. So I was on my own with 8 girlies for about 2 hours. Jeff did snap this cute photo of the boy at his game though.

Two of the girls had to leave at 10:00 p.m., so I hung until then. But once the girls had settled down for a movie I went to bed. Jeff stayed up with them until the movie was over (what a guy!). 

I had planned to get up and workout before the girls woke up this morning. I figured when you go to bed at midnight, you sleep until at least 8:00. Right? Wrong. I could hear them waking up while I was tiptoeing around putting on my workout clothes at 6:50. I decided then and there that my workout was going to have to wait. So I worked on breakfast instead.

What kind of breakfast do you serve to follow up a nutritious dinner like the one we provided? Monster  Cookie Pancakes, of course! I won't give the entire recipe away, but I mean how can you go wrong with this?

And here's the finished product. Yes, that is chocolate syrup instead of maple syrup.

After all the guests were gone, I managed to squeeze in a workout. I did Insanity Max Cardio Conditioning and Cardio Abs. It was brutal.

Later this afternoon, I found this.

And then a few minutes later someone else had joined the fun.

The boy probably would have been asleep here too except he was too busy killing a pinata at his cousin's birthday party. Apparently we need to start throwing candy at him instead of balls when he's playing baseball, because he made quick work of the pinata and then came home with this.

So it will be early baths and bedtimes all around here tonight. Once the children are all in bed, I'm pretty sure the hubby is super pumped to watch this with me. 

My man is amazing!

Question of the Day:

Team Edward or Jacob?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Favorite Things Friday

I killed P90X Legs and Back this morning! I really didn't feel like getting out of bed today. It was one of those nights where I let myself fall asleep on the couch then woke up at 3 a.m. and went to bed but couldn't fall asleep for a couple of hours. Why do I let myself do that?!? I am soooo glad I got my workout done though!!!

I decided it was time for another Favorite Things post. This time I left off the pharmaceuticals, but a lot of my favorites still involve food. I've decided that's just who I am.

First up is my favorite, favorite salsa! I love this stuff!!! Seriously, I could eat it by the spoonful. I get it in the produce section at Publix, and I eat with everything from chicken to quesadillas to salads.

Next is my new favorite hummus: Sabra Tuscan Herb. I've eaten hummus that I liked and some that I hated, but this stuff is gold!

If I'm not using bell peppers, these crackers are my go-to item to pair with my hummus. They are so yummy! And at only 130 calories for 16 crackers, they always give me my fix when I need a salty snack.

Another favorite is my crockpot. Who doesn't love a good crockpot meal?!? I think my favorite thing about it is that all the work is on the front end, and when it's time to eat it's there waiting for you. I love getting my dinner prep work done in the morning while some of my many small children are at school, and I am not distracted by homework and after-school snacks.

Finally, I am extremely cold-natured, and as such, I love a good pair of warm and fuzzy socks. You'll find me wearing these babies in every season. Yes, even when it's 100 degrees out, I'm usually sporting my fuzzy socks around the house. Hot, right? Good thing my husband loves me for my mind too.

Question of the Day:

What's one of your favorite things?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

My Peanut Butter and Chocolate Nemesis

Holy sore biceps! I am really feeling yesterday's workout! But it's that good kind of soreness where you know change is happening. I got things started this morning with Insanity Plyometric Cardio Circuit. Here's what I looked like when I was finished (for your viewing pleasure):

I spent the rest of my morning taking care of these cuties.

Afterward, it was time to start making preparations for the birthday sleepover we're hosting tomorrow night. That meant lots of cleaning and this.

Muddy Buddies. These are my peanut butter and chocolate nemesis. I really can't even eat them because the next thing I know I'll have eaten half the bowl. Full disclosure: I had quite a few for lunch today. It only seemed appropriate after yesterday's post on binge eating. And there's protein in the peanut butter, right?

I needed to redeem myself with a healthy dinner. I marinated some chicken all afternoon and cooked it up with some black beans in a skillet. Then I shredded it in my food processor and threw it over a bed of spinach with my favorite salsa. So yummy!

I used the rest of the shredded chicken to make tacos for the hubby and kids.

Question of the Day:

Do you have a food nemesis? 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Time I Almost Ate Poop....

This morning's workout was rough! I did P90X's Back & Biceps, and I don't know if it was my poor eating from yesterday or the fact that I hadn't done this particular workout in a couple of months, but I was struggling!!! When I was finished, I attempted to put my earrings back in. I seriously could not raise my arms to my ears to put them on. I will be feeling it tomorrow!

After my workout, I decided to get caught up on some of my favorite blogs. I was reading this post about binge eating, and it really got me thinking. My sister and I have talked before about how depriving yourself of food can make things that you don't normally eat seem very appetizing.

For example, I don't like the little white powdered donuts that come in a bag at the grocery store. But when I'm counting my calories, and there is half of one left on my kid's plate I suddenly *need* that donut!

Or what about yellow and orange Starbursts? Does anyone actually like those flavors??? Even my kids reject them, but if I find one while rummaging through the "rejected candy" basket in our pantry, I will totally eat it! Why?!?!

I've been so desperate for chocolate that I once nearly ate a piece of poop that had fallen out of my child's diaper unbeknownst to me. I was certain it was a chocolate chip that had inadvertently fallen to the floor when I was baking earlier in the day. Luckily, something told me to take a whiff before I put it in my mouth.

My point is, we need to stop telling ourselves that we cannot eat certain foods. Eliminating your favorite foods from your diet altogether is a sure recipe for a binging disaster! Food is meant to be enjoyed! Eat your favorites on occasion, and don't feel guilty about it! It's probably better to eat that cookie now than to eat a 1-pound bag of peanut butter M&Ms later in your sugar-deprived delirium.

But I digress...

Following my blog reading and subsequent deep thoughts, I went to visit daughter #2 at school to eat lunch with her and bring a cookie cake to celebrate her birthday, which was yesterday (and was the origin of my poor eating reference in paragraph 1).

After lunch, it was time for another Easter egg hunt. This one was at the boy's preschool.

Then it was the usual afternoon rituals: snacks, homework, and dinner preparation. We had spaghetti tonight. Have you tried this new Hidden Veggies spaghetti?

I think it tastes great! The kids don't seem to have noticed any difference between this and their normal noodles. There is ONE serving of vegetables in every TWO servings of pasta. My kids probably eat less than one serving, so they're not even getting half a serving of veggies from the pasta, but at least it's something. Plus, it's a new product and the coupons are plentiful right now.

Question of the day:

Do you ever binge eat?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Asylum Volumes 1 & 2 Review

When I discovered last year that fitness expert Shaun T had created a sequel to Insanity, I knew I had to try it! Insanity the Asylum Volume 1 is a 30-day program designed to train you like a professional athlete. A few months later, Asylum Volume 2 was released, taking the workouts to a whole new level. What I love most about these programs is that they work your mind as well as your body. Focus is key!

The Workouts

Most of the workouts in both volumes of Asylum are between 40 - 60 minutes. Unlike their predecessor, Insanity, Asylum has more focus on resistance training in addition to cardio. It also requires more coordination since many of the exercises are performed using an agility ladder.

Volume 1 introduces you to the agility ladder. You'll learn how to maneuver your feet through the ladder in a variety of drills, as well as doing a fair amount of jumping and some resistance training. You'll need dumbbells for the "Strength" workout, and you also have the option of using a pull-up bar for some of the exercises. Shaun T does provide alternative training for those that can't yet use a pull-up bar or don't have access to one. You can read more about the workouts in Asylum 1 here.

Volume 2 takes the agility ladder a step further with complex drills that will require every bit of your mental and physical focus. This volume incorporates a lot more resistance training than the first. Dumbbells are used in every workout. One of the DVDs also incorporates the pull-up bar. You can read more about the Asylum 2 workouts here.


Volume 1 comes with an agility ladder, jump rope, and strength bands. You'll also want to have some dumbbells or a resistance band, and possibly a pull-up bar.

Volume 2 requires the same equipment as Volume 1, but since it's a sequel, it doesn't provide the ladder, rope or bands. Beachbody assumes you already have those at home.

Who Is This Workout For?

If you are an Insanity graduate looking for the next big challenge, this workout is definitely for you! If you're just in really good shape and want something new and fun to try, this one is for you. I would recommend completing Volume 1 before attempting Volume 2 simply because of the complexity of the agility ladder.

That being said, Asylum 2 isn't for everyone. If you have a history of back/neck or knee problems, this program probably not for you. This workout isn't for beginners either.

My Thoughts

I loved both volumes of Asylum! They were a really fun change of pace for me. Volume 2 definitely incorporates more strength training than Volume 1. That was right up my alley since I love P90X, but if you're not used to doing any strength workouts, those will be a big challenge.

In both programs, the last workout each week is a series of sports contests. Shaun T actually tells you to visualize the competition right on your heels, which really pushed me to work harder. You'll do a whole range of "sports" during these workouts including a 1-mile run, swimming, rock climbing, soccer, football and gymnastics just to name a few. I loved doing this! It made the time fly by and kept the workout fun and exciting.

Here I am doing speed skating!
If you have any questions about Asylum Volume 1 or 2, please feel free to leave them in the comments below or email me at