Saturday, January 28, 2012

Greetings from San Francisco

I know its been a while since I posted anything but last week my computer took a visit to the Geek Squad at Best Buy. Jason left me his Ipad before heading out of town but it still wasn't the same. It's amazing and a little unfortunate how lost I feel without my own personl computer. Anyway,Last night Jason and I arrived in San Francisco to begin our week long trip on the west coast. We are traveling with our friends York and Martine and while we are in San Francisco we are staying with my best friend Jennifer and her fiancé Ian. Our journey begins here then we will make our way to Sonoma to spend some time in the wine country then finishing the week off with some skiing in Tahoe. I had a picture to share with this post but we are now experiencing some technical difficulties with Jason's computer:(. So on that note we are off to get some brunch and explore the city.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Comfort Food

Comfort food is defined as foods that may have a nostalgic or sentimental appeal, often times rich in calories. For those of us who grew up in the south it is also known as "good ole southern cooking (cookin)". Its good, provides a feeling of warmth, and its what I many of us crave this time of year. Although I grew up in the south I am not a southern cook, mostly because I don't know how to cook that way. I have never fried anything and if I have an option of using a low fat or healthier ingredient I will do so. Don't get my wrong I love enjoy comfort food but if I want the real thing I will have to go to my mom's house for that. (Like I did with this meal). With all that being said I made my version of one of my favorite comfort foods last night for dinner, meatloaf. Instead of using ground mystery meatloaf mix  I chose to use organic ground chicken. Here is my twist on a southern classic that we all know and love which even fooled my husband.
Chicken Meatloaf
  • 2 lbs. ground chicken
  • 3/4 cup of old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup of milk (I used almond milk but skim milk would work fine)
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 1 cup diced green pepper
  • 1 egg, 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • salt and pepper
  • Mix the oats with the milk and set aside
  • Mix the remainder of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the oats

  • Place ingredients into a casserole dish and bake on 350 degrees for 1 hour

  • Let the meatloaf sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. 

Served with a side of sauteed onions and brussel sproats
**Not pictured was additional ketchup for the meatloaf :)**

What are some of your favorite comfort foods?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pumpkin Smoothie

I made this smoothie today as a post workout snack and it was delicious. If you like Pumpkin Pie then you will love this! I typically crave smoothies when it is hot outside but after a run on the treadmill this morning it was exactly what I wanted.
Pumpkin Smoothie
  • 1 Banana
  • 1/2 Cup of pumpkin (I used Libby's from the can)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon cinnamom
  • 1 Cup Almond milk
  • 4 ice cubes
- Mix all the ingredients in a blender


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan

This is usually Jason's go to dish whenever we go out for Italian food so he was very excited when he came home tonight and found out we were having it for dinner. Typically eggplant Parmesan is breaded and fried before baking but this is my version of an authentic italian dish without the guilt. I chose to lightly bread the eggplant using whole wheat panko breadcrumbs and skipped the frying part.

  • 2 Eggplants
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 Cups of whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 jar of pasta sauce (I used Traditional Ragu)
  • 2 cups of Low fat mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup of Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • salt and pepper
  • Begin by thinly slicing the eggplant. Sprinkle with salt and allow it to sit for 30 minutes to get rid of any extra moisture. Pat with a paper towel before dipping them in the egg whites.

  • Prepare 2 bowls: one with the egg whites and the other with the breadcrumbs. Dip each eggplant slice into the egg whites then in the breadcrumbs and place on a sprayed cookie sheet. Once each slice has been lightly breaded spray the tops with cooking spray and bake on 425 for 15-20 minutes.

  • In another bowl mix together mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, garlic salt, basil, salt and pepper.
  • Coat the bottom of a baking dish with pasta sauce then add a layer of eggplant on top. Add 1/3 of the cheese mixture and more pasta sauce. Repeat layers until all of the ingredients have been used up, ending with the remaing cheese mixture. Sprinkle additional basil on top.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  • Allow the Eggplant Parmesan to sit for 10 minutes before serving

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lunch at the Market

Jason has the day off today so we decided to go out to eat for lunch, something we very rarely do. Since Reid's has moved to its new location on Selwyn Avenue I have been wanting to go in and check it out. Reid's is a fine foods market with a wonderful wine and beer selection, gourmet foods to go, fresh local produce, a wine bar and a butcher shop. Reid's also offers wine tastings and cooking classes, which I plan to try out in the near future.

While looking around we came across some Gator Sauce

which I ended up buying for my dad. This is his favorite hot sauce that he has only been able to find at the beach. Once we were finished looking around we decided to order a sandwich from the butcher counter. I went with the spinach, grilled portobello and hummus on whole wheat bread with sundried tomato, feta and herb chutney. Jason chose the chicken salad sandwhich on Whole wheat bread.


We were both pleased with our selections and we are looking forward to going back soon to take part in one of their wine tastings. If you live in the Charlotte area and have not been here it is definitely worth your time to go in and check it out.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Chicken Rollatini with Spinach and Goat Cheese

Based on my post so far I may have a major slight obsession with cheese. I certainly have my favorites but I can honestly say that I have not found a single type of cheese that I don't like. So of course while thinking up ingredients to put into the chicken rollatini, cheese was a definite must. I chose to go with goat cheese and spinach since we already had these ingredients on hand. This is a great dish to make for the family or a large crowd. I served the chicken with green beans and brown rice.

  • 3-4 Chicken breast
  • 1 cup of cooked spinach
  • 1 4 oz. container of goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 Cup Panko Bread crumbs
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • salt and pepper
-Flatten the chicken breast with a meat mallet and season with salt and pepper.Evenly seperate the spinach and goat cheese and lay in the center of each breast. Roll the chicken and place seam side down.

-Mix together the olive oil and butter in one bowl and the bread crumbs in a second bowl. Dip the chicken in the olive oil mixture, then in the breadcrumbs to coat, and place seam side down in a sprayed baking dish. Repeat for each chicken breast. Once all the chicken has been rolled and coated with the bread crumbs spray the chicken with cooking spray and bake on 425 for 30-35 minutes. (Cooking time may vary depending on how big the chicken is).

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fajita Unwrapped

Fajita unwrapped is a consistent item in our dinner rotation.  Not only is it easy to make but it is also healthy and delicious. This dish is a spin off of your traditional fajita and a taco salad. Instead of using a tortilla shell it is served on a bed of greens and topped with sauteed onions, peppers and ground turkey meat.

I started off by making homemade tortilla chips to munch on for an appetizer and to serve alongside the salad. I used whole wheat, low carb soft shell wraps from Trader Joe's. After slicing up several of the tortillas I sprayed them with cooking spray and sprinkled them with salt, pepper, and chili powder.
Bake the tortillas in the oven at 400 degrees for 7-10 minutes until they are crisp and start to curl at the edges. They can burn easily so watch them closely after about 5 minutes.

I used  Smoky Mountain Corn Relish to dip the chips in.

Once the ground turkey has been browned add a packet of taco seasoning and water and let it simmer for another 5 minutes or so. As the meat is browning  saute the chopped  up pepper and onion in a separate skillet with a little bit of olive oil and salt and pepper.

After the meat, peppers and onions are done you can begin to make your salad. I like to add shredded cheese and a little bit of ranch dressing (or sour cream )to top it off.
And there you have it. :)

Monday, January 9, 2012


A good friend of mine has encouraged me to add some design ideas/tips into my blog in addition to my other ramblings. I have an undergraduate degree in Interior Design and although I am no longer working in the field it is still something I am very much interested in. Jason and I moved into our house in April of 2010 and it has become my little project to make it "our home".

You would think after living here for almost two years it would be complete by now but that is definitely not the case. Since I decided to go back to school to get my teaching license in elementary education the extra time was something I did not have (until recently because I finished!). Also, buying new furniture, appliances, accessories, etc. can really add up so we decided to put our focus into one room at a time so that we could make it perfect for us.

I love the look and feel that comes from adding antiques and rustic style furniture to the home. For me, rustic details add a charming touch to any home helping to create a warm and inviting space. So you can imagine my excitement when I heard about the Sleepy Poet Antique Mall here in Charlotte. It is 55,000 square feet of antiques/consignments. Luckily, Jason grew up shopping in these kind of places with his mom so I didn't have to beg too hard for him to come along with me. We were looking to find some sort of console table for our living room and just when we were about the give up we found it.

We saw this table at one of the very last booths before calling it a day. It was exactly what we had in mind and it really helped to complete the room.

The picture on the wall is an old vintage map of Paris. Since this is where Jason proposed  to me it has a special meaning behind it. We first saw this picture in a magazine and as much as we LOVED it we could not imagine spending the money that they were asking for it. I ended up searching on  for vintage maps of Paris and found this one. This website also gave us the option of ordering the matte and frame included. This just shows that you can still achieve the same look without spending a ridiculous amount of money.


 I would love to hear some other creative design ideas....

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Weekend Breakfast

At least one morning on most weekends Jason will cook us a big breakfast. It always includes an omelet and grits but other things that make it into the rotation is toast, parfaits or any meat that we may have on hand. As we woke up this morning my first thought was coffee and Jason had food on the brain (We make a good team right?) so we made our way downstairs to see what we could come up with. As he got started on breakfast I began making the coffee and noticed Jason wasn't the only one hungry.

Don't forget about me.

Breakfast ended up being an omelet (2 eggs and 2 eggs whites) with cheese,spinach and sauteed onions, turkey sausage and grits. (And of course a side of Ketchup for the eggs)

It is a beautiful day today so after breakfast Jason headed to the golf course and I went for a run outside. Now that the holidays are over I could settle for weather like this everyday (65 degrees). Forget about winter lets just move on to spring. Apparently I am not the only one loving this weather.

This is her sunbathing spot

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates

I love blue cheese and I have found that you can stuff it into pretty much anything and it will taste amazing. A while back we were having a party and my aunt and uncle gave me the idea of stuffing dates with blue cheese and wrapping them with bacon to serve as an appetizer. I had some dates leftover from last weekend along with some blue cheese so I decided to make Jason and I a little snack before heading out to dinner. Since I didn't have any bacon on hand I did without but I did add a tiny bit of honey to go inside of the dates with the blue cheese. I baked them on 350 for about 10-15 minutes. If you choose to cook these with the bacon then you would need to cook them longer.

The glass of red wine to go with does not disappoint either.
Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bran Muffins

I need to start this post off by sharing with you a little bit about Jason’s mom. Phyllis always had a dream of opening a tea room so in the early 90's she started Chantilly's Tea Room in Gastonia. She had a love for food and cooking and not only was Phyllis an amazing cook but she was a wonderful mother, wife, grandmother and friend who passed away in December of 2009 from cancer. Before she passed away Phyllis and I watched endless hours of Food Network together and I listened as she told me stories of her days at the Tea Room. She took great pleasure in cooking for other people and she has truly been an inspiration to me. Jason and I have acquired many of her recipes, and I hope to one day put a cookbook together in honor of her.
The recipe for the bran muffins mentioned here came from Phyllis and they are incredible. I have made these several times and they have been a hit each time. I made them for one of our weekend trips to the mountains and it was nice to have them as another breakfast option.

** A little Side note- Jason and I love to heat the muffin for a few seconds in the microwave  then add a little butter before eating it (I feel like Paula Deen by saying that). **

This is the type of Bran I used

Bran Muffins
POUR: 1 cup of boiling water over 1 cup 100%Bran and set aside
CREAM: 1/4 cup sugar
               3/4 cup brown sugar
               1 scant cup of cooking oil
               1/2 teaspoon salt
ADD: 2 eggs
          2 cups buttermilk
          2 cups 100% Bran-Let all this stand
SIFT: 2-3/4 cup plain flour with 2 ½ teaspoons of baking soda and add buttermilk mixture. Pour in first mixture of Bran and hot water. Stir together. Add raisins or dates (optional). Grease muffin tins and bake 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Makes 24 muffins. This mixture may be kept in refrigerator and used as needed.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Goals for 2012

Jason and I have been discussing goals that we would like to achieve personally and as a couple for the past week so last night we decided to sit down together and write them down. Here are a few that we came up with:
Join a Church
One of our goals for 2011 was to find a church that we both enjoyed (check) so for 2012 we would like to join the church and get involved with different activities that the church offers.
Mission Work
Jason and I have talked about this on more than one occasion so this is the year we are going to make it happen. There are a lot of local organizations that need help so we would like to find one or more to get involved with.
Jason and I have done pretty well in the past reading a devotional every morning but we have never done it together. While we were doing our premarital counseling our pastor recommended that once a week we should read a devotional together. So that is our goal for this year.
Weekly Date Night
I know that seems like a lot so let me explain. "Date Night" can be as simple as eating dinner at our kitchen table with no TV. This is completely reasonable since we currently eat most of our dinners at the kitchen island with Entertainment Tonight keeping us informed with whats going on in the world while we eat.

Tonight's Dinner
Dinner was Chicken Casserole with vegetables.  A while back while making a basic chicken casserole dish Jason asked if we could add some veggies in which is how this recipe came about. It is a fairly simple recipe and very comforting for a cold winter's night like tonight. This casserole is great served over rice.(I did brown rice).

Chicken Casserole with Vegetables
  • Chicken (You may use a whole chicken or breast. I used 3 breast)
  • 2 Cups of Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing Mix
  • 1 Can Cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 Can Cream of Chicken soup
  • Can of chicken broth (use the water from the boiled chicken)
  • 1 bag of frozen mixed veggies.
Boil chicken then shred. Place the mixed veggies into warm water for a few minutes to unthaw. Mix the chicken, stuffing, mushroom soup, chicken soup, chicken broth and veggies together and place into a casserole dish. I sprinkled a little bit of the stuffing mix on top with salt and pepper.
Bake 350 for 25 minutes.
**Optional Serve over rice**

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


 For me, New Years Eve can be very stressful. I feel that it is the one night of the year that you must go out and do something. This year I was not feeling up for going out to spend a ton of money on overpriced food and drinks and luckily neither were our good friends, Thomas and Emily.  So instead we decided they would come over along with Emily's coworker Stephen, where we ended up having a great dinner, good wine and wonderful company. Plus we saved a ton of money! Emily was in charge of bringing the appetizers so before dinner we feasted on seared tuna (amazingly good), a vegetable tray and a cheese platter. Jason and I were in charge of the meal which consisted of  blue cheese, date and pecan stuffed pork tenderloin, mushroom risotto and roasted asparagus. Unfortunately I was so wrapped up in the festivities New Years Eve I forgot to get a picture of  all of the food but Jason and I had some of it last night for leftovers so I made sure to get a shot.
Stuffed Tenderloin, mushroom risotto, and roasted asparagus.

This morning I woke up around 7:00 and had a cup of coffee, followed by a bowl of oats.
In the mix I have:
  • 1/4 cup Oats
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • sprinkle of bran cereal
  • sprinkle of chia seeds
  • tablespoon of sunflower seed butter from Trader Joe's
I add the oats, milk and yogurt together and let them sit in the refrigerator. After about 30 minutes mix together then add your toppings. This is a great breakfast that you can put together the night before and let your oats sit overnight. Add your toppings and you are out of the door. Its healthy, filling and super easy. When making oats this way I usually eat them cold but you may heat them if you prefer.

I did a 90 minute Hot Vinyasa class this morning that kicked my booty. I began practicing yoga back in March and since then I have become completely obsessed. Not only is yoga good for your body but it is a wonderful stress reliever and it helps us to be mindful and focused on living in the present. If you have never tried yoga I highly recommend you give it a try.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year

Welcome to Key Ingredients!!
My name is Allie and I am 29 years old living in Charlotte, NC with my husband Jason and our Jack Russell Emma.

Starting this blog has been on my mind constantly for the past six months so since we are starting off a new year I figured there was no better time than now to give it a go. I have been reading food and healthy living blogs for the past year and I am completely hooked. For me, food and fitness are key ingredients to living a positive and healthy lifestyle. I have a serious love for food and my hope for the coming year is to complete a cookbook that has been a work in progress for two years now. This blog is part of my motivation so I can share my journey with all of you. I love fitness and my favorite activities for staying in shape are running and yoga. I have completed two triathlons and a half marathon and currently trying to find a fitness goal to strive for in 2012.

In honor of New Years (a day late) I wanted to share with you the wonderful goodness we had yesterday to help us ring in the new year. 

Black Eyed Peas: For good luck
Collards: Good fortune
Pork: Wealth and Prosperity
Cornbread: Happiness
Macaroni and Cheese: because it is good and its my husbands favorite