Candy Steal of Shame

peanut 1Do y’all remember the McDonald’s character, Hamburglar, from the mid 80’s? He was the guy who would “stop at nothing to steal and hoard his favorite McDonald’s products all for himself“? Well friends, that will be me come Halloween night only my name will be Sweetstealer – I will stop at nothing to steal and hoard all of my favorite candy….from my children!!! Every single Trick-or-Treat Eve, I make a promise to my girls that I WILL NOT steal their candy. I really do go into this pact with good intentions, but then they walk into the house with their pumpkin bags filled to the brim.  And y’all, treat bags are no longer filled to the brim with Lemon Heads, Circus Peanuts and Boston Baked Beans  Oh no.  Now people give out Toblerone bars, full size Snickers and Butterfingers. WTH? When I was a kid, my parents would not have touched my jack o’ lantern with a ten foot pole but now, who can resist all the deliciousness? I mean, can you resist a Toblerone bar? ( For those that don’t know, they now come in white chocolate. Just sayin) If you can, I need your guidance, and resistance techniques, so email me directly!  Does anyone else do this or am I all alone on the candy steal of shame? Bloody hell.  It’s probably just me.  I have an idea though, on how to fix this large scale issue (surely it’s not just me). Can we all agree to stop spending $500 a family on Halloween candy.  Can we go back to the ginormous $10 bags that will feed 500 kids?  I mean, it’s ridiculous, right?  When did Halloween go gourmet? I need to take out a loan to buy Halloween candy. And please do not get me started on the houses that give away decorated treat bags full of multiple, full sized, candy bars all glued together to form a pumpkin or vampire or whatever the hell it’s supposed to be.  Pinterest pinning people – you are killing me. You are Martha Stewart fabulous but you are killing me. I can barely get to Harris Teeter in time to purchase the last bag of whatever candy has been ostracized to the deep, deep corner of the candy shelf.   All of us would be much happier ( maybe not the kids) if we could just agree, here and now,  to go back to giving out Lemon Heads, Circus Peanuts and Boston Baked Beans.  Y’all, I just spit out my water.  What is in a circus peanut?  I am cracking up.  OK so maybe not circus peanuts but you get my point. Let’s just take it down a notch so I have a fighting chance to honor my commitment to my children and not gain five pounds in one week? Totally doable, right?  And the kids will eat anything they think is bad for them so they won’t even notice. Are you with me?????? Circus peanuts…..that’s funny.

Tip of the Week Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – READ IT.  This book is so good on so many levels.  At brunch on Sunday, I was trying to remember the title of this book to tell my friends to read it. Y’all, I can’t remember titles of books to save my life.  I am not good with small details – although I guess some would consider the title of a book a big detail – whatever, I’m not good with remembering details.  Any who, I’m trying to recall this title and then my friend starts talking about this book she just finished, for her book club, and she says the title is Where the Crawdads Sing – I about fell out of the booth flapping my arms, so excited.  Y’all – this book.  It’s a murder mystery, but that’s just the side story.  Something about this book just settles in your soul. I want to read it again and I just finished it two nights ago.  I love a good book and I think everyone needs something to help them escape this fast paced life we are all driving these days. This book will slow things down and ground you in a way no other book I’ve read has. So go rent it or buy it or stream it or whatever you need to do.  Just read it!!

Happy, Healthy Eating Friends.

Meal Plan for the week of Halloween ~ 10/28

XO ~ Kelly


Photo Cred ~ Roland Bello

Sunday 10/28 – Classic Coq au Vin – Y’all, coq au vin is one of my all time favorite comfort meals. It’s right up there with lasagna.  I remember the first time I had this dish.  We were on vacation with my fabulous foodie neighbors, Billy & Mandy, in NC.  One of their friends is a chef and he invited us to his house to eat Coq au vin.  The chicken people – the chicken just fell off the bone. I so badly wanted to lick my fingers but somehow I controlled myself.  What I’ve shared here is a “streamlined” version of coq au vin – just less time and effort but still delicious.  You can serve this over rice or mashed potatoes.  I always opt for a mashed potato and I just happen to have the BEST CROCKPOT mashed potato recipe. I found this last year and it’s a Thanksgiving keeper – would be great for this Sunday meal too! Grab your people and plop at the table for this one!!!

Monday 10/29 – Dijon Basil Chicken Salad – I feel like we need a low key cooking week this week.  Or at least, I do.  This chicken salad doesn’t get any easier as you use a rotisserie chicken.  A couple of things – 1. It’s so much better to “pick your chicken” hot (no other way to say this people) – don’t put the chicken into the fridge and then pick it after it’s cold.  SO much more tedious. Pick your chick on Sunday when it’s warm, place into a container, and then it’s ready to roll come Monday.  2. I will not use 1/4 cup of mayo – instead, I will do two tablespoons of greek yogurt to two tablespoons of light mayo.  You can go all greek or all mayo – up to you.  I will live in the middle.  Hubs will put this on sour dough but I’ll toss over lettuce.  You can wrap it too.

Tuesday 10/30 – Quinoa & Shrimp Paella – One of my favs here y’all.  I really love paella but it’s made with rice and not always as healthy.  This is a trimmed down version but still bursting with flavor.  My favorite part is not having to cook the quinoa separately – it cooks within the dish – so one pan here people. I love a one pan weeknight meal.  If you don’t want to spend a fortune on saffron, just sub turmeric but use sparingly – too much will overwhelm the other flavors.

Wednesday 10/31 – Stuffed Pepper Soup (Stovetop or Instant Pot) – Happy Halloween Y’all!! I’m sure most of you are rolling your eyes that I’m even posting a recipe for today, but you have to eat something, right?  Plus, it doesn’t get dark until what, 7:00, so you will have time to cook this easy to toss together soup.  I always have family popping in and out on Halloween so it’s nice to have something bubbly and warm on the stove, just in case they are hungry.  Super quick and filling, this dish is a no brainer!

Thursday 11/1 – Oven Baked Margherita Chicken – How is it November?  I swear it was August like two weeks ago.  I need to start prepping for Turkey Day – ugh.  Well, this here is a no stress, easy peasy, recipe that will fill you up and leave you light and happy.  I have been missing my frozen, Costco, green beans so I’ll dip back into those babies and sauté them up quick and easy!

Friday 11/2 – Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup –  I will be so relieved when we get to Friday of this week.  Work will have been bananas ( two events ), plus Halloween.  I know this makes two crock pot meals this week, but the thought of not having to actually cook on Friday makes me giddy.  Black bean soup has never been one of favorites – until I made THIS black bean soup.  It’s hearty and oh, so creamy.  My husband loves this dish but he totally turned his nose up at the idea of it the first time I made it – until he tried it.  All your peeps will love this one!

I am so incredibly appreciative for all the Instagram love, y’all.  Please keep posting, tagging and sharing.  Your support and feedback means the world!!!


Sous What???!!!

20181013_185509.jpgI promise I will get to my sous vide review but first I have to ask a very serious question. Who has not seen “A Star is Born”and what in God’s name are you waiting for? I saw it this past weekend, with three of my girlfriends, and I can not stop thinking, well singing, about it. I purchased the soundtrack as soon as I left the movie. My daughters are super annoyed because now instead of driving around listening to TSwift it’s all “maybe it’s time to let the old ways die” ( I think those are the right words, but I’m guessing). Can you sense the eye rolls I’m getting? Whatever, it’s worth the whining to listen to B Cooper and Lady G belting those beautiful ballads. So yes, go see it, but I also bring this up to chat about girlfriends. Going out with my gals this past weekend was good for my soul, y’all. I enjoyed every single second of my time with them; eating (had the best panzanella, burrata & bean salad from Crust) drinking and laughing. Why don’t I do this more often? Time and time again I find myself saying no to girlfriend outings because I’m too tired or it’s too hard to find a babysitter or whatever other excuse I come up with. But NO MORE. I learned this past weekend that time spent with girlfriends is the equivalent to a months worth of therapy. ( Apologies to the hubs who is an actual psychologist but it’s true!!) It’s like hitting a reset button. And not to brag or anything but y’all, I have the best, best friends. I have my childhood friends who are my family. They are “Aunts” to my children and have been with me thru every success and failure in my life. I will never have to worry about losing them; if I haven’t peeved them off by now, they aren’t going anywhere! These eight woman are my sisters and I love them beyond words.  And then I have my post kid friends who are one of the greatest surprises and joys of my life. They are the people who keep me sane every single day. I never thought I would find best friends after the age of 30, but man was I wrong. My point to all of the above is to raise awareness on the importance of having female friends. We need these chosen people, in our lives, as they make us better wives, mothers, and all around people. They ground us when we need grounding, cry with us when we need to cry and laugh with us when we so badly need to laugh. To quote Jerry Maguire, female friends are our “Ambassadors of Quan” y’all. So stop reading this post , for just a sec, call your friends and set a date to go see ” A Star is Born” – you will thank me later! P.S. – Bradley Cooper is SO DAMN HOT!! OK, on to the sous vide….

Tip of the Week20181016_175947.jpg My quick sous vide review. OK so I had no idea what a sous vide was, prior to last week, so just in case you do not either, here is a very basic explanation! A sous vide is a gadget you clamp onto a stockpot full of water, OFF of the stove.  You set the temperature, and timer, on the sous vide and it brings the pot of water to that specific temp and stays there.  You then place your food into a Ziploc bag and drop it into the pot of water.  The water “bath” cooks your food evenly and to the perfect temperature.  The SV (sous vide for short as y’all know I love an abbreviation) will not allow you to overcook your food.  It’s pretty genius.  Let’s say you are having a dinner party and serving filet mignon.  Place each steak into a Ziploc with a clove of smashed garlic, little olive oil and some fresh herbs.  Drop those bad boys into the water for 45 minutes and go take a shower. Right before it’s time to eat, sear each steak, on medium/high heat, for about 20 seconds a side and your steaks are perfectly cooked and ready to roll.  Now, is the SV something you are going to use everyday? Probably not. And will it save you oodles of time?  Probably not.  Think of it like a crock pot – less hands on cook time but more actual cook time. Does that make sense?  Should you buy one?  Maybe.  If you can find one for $25 bucks it’s totally worth it.  There are much fancier ones – Joule, Anova, Sansaire – with wifi, but in my humble opinion, not necessary. I’m sure the features are great, but if you are only using this thing once a week, a simple one will do.  Bottom line – a sous vide will turn any mediocre cook into an award winning chef but it won’t save you loads of time.

What What.  Food for the week of 10/21. How is it almost November????

XO ~ Kelly D.

Sunday – Slow Cooker Jambalaya  – One of my Boones Farm friends ( of the original eight) has been begging me to put this recipe on the blog.  I make this a lot during football season as it’s super easy, delicious and serves a crowd.  Since it’s FINALLY dipping into the 70’s here, I feel like now would be a good time to pull this recipe out of my bag o’ tricks. I must REALLY love y’all because this is one I don’t like to share!!!!

Monday – Chile-Lime Fish Taco Bowls This yummy fish recipe does require some prep time. I will make my marinade on Sunday and then plop the fish into said marinade when I get home from work on Monday. No worries if you don’t have hours to marinate the fish – anytime will do. Actually, less time is  better.  The acidity in the marinade will start to cook the fish, if left in too long,  which can give the fish a funny texture.

Tuesday – Mini Meatloaf – I’ll be honest – I’m not a HUGE meatloaf fan and I hate mixing meat with my hands.  It’s always so cold and gooey.  But, this is really easy recipe to whip together and it’s family and waist line friendly.  You can also double the recipe and freeze these in pairs for later.  Great for weeknights.

Wednesday – Pasta with Butternut Sauce, Spicy Sausage and Spinach  – Another fun Kelly fact – squash is so, so on my list of healthy foods but in this recipe it takes on the flavors of the sausage and sage.  Honestly, the squash is the “cream” in this recipe, if that makes sense.  The instructions call for you to dice, boil and blend the squash but here are two shortcuts – 1) buy pre-cut squash or 2) use frozen squash puree.  I will add a little cinnamon here too!! Sometimes low cal dishes don’t have enough flavor but instead of “hating” on them, play around with spices.  You will be amazed at how much a tiny bit of cinnamon takes this from good to great!

Thursday – Grilled Bourbon Chicken – I am always searching for flavor filled, yet simple, chicken recipes.  This is definitely a winner, winner chicken dinner.  Love the flavors in this super easy week night dish.  I’ll serve along side some brown rice!

Friday – Super Lean Turkey Sloppy Joe’s Sloppy Joe’s and meatloaf. What am I doing to you people this week? I must be in a reminiscing phase!! Adult spin on a childhood fav right here.  A little spice and a little tang kick this up a notch.  Perfect for a cool Friday indoors!

Birthday Bike

Life has been bananas these past two weeks, y’all. I survived one of my busiest work weeks of the year – hallelujah – the hubs has been away at a conference, soccer practice, cotillion and we had a tropical storm. There were other things but I honestly cannot remember what they were. I have struggled about what to write this week because my brain is totally mush. No creative sparks flying. Nada. Zilch. So………..oh, we bought a bike for my oldest this week! Her birthday is at the end of October and she’s turning 10. She’ll be two hands old. I can’t believe it. It truly makes my heart ache. My Dad and I picked out her first “big girl” bike FOUR years ago. We went to Mike’s Bikes, on James Island, and bought her what, at the time, looked like the biggest bike on the planet. And now y’all, that bike comes up to her knees. It happens so fast. I didn’t expect the emotions to start flying over her turning 10 but they are. I can’t keep it together. And I am really NOT that mushy of a person. Regan brought home a paper she had to write in school yesterday. The assignment was to pick your favorite body part and use that part to describe yourself. She picked her feet. At first glance, I started cracking up. Who picks feet? But as I read it aloud I burst into tears. Big huge crocodile tears. This line – “My feet, I love my feet. They let me fit inside my mom’s shoes. That makes me feel happy. They also help me to run in the wind as fast as I dream.” OH MY GOD. Even now, tears. Who is this creative, strong, kind and beautiful young lady? And what happened to my baby? When did she become an actual person? She’s growing up, y’all, and there is nothing I can do about it. Right now she adores me (except when Patrick goes out of town and I yell) and wants to be with me. But for how much longer? I know the next ten years will be fabulous as we watch her become the person she is meant to be, but I will always mourn the first ten years when we had her all to ourselves. Again, tears. I need to wrap this up as I’m a puddle so I’ll end by wishing the person who made me a Mom the happiest tenth birthday in the world. She makes me so proud every single day. I love you Reggie.
Tip of the Week – For so long I struggled with what to eat in the mornings. I wish I could say I get up every AM and toss spinach, kale, strawberries, flax, nut butter, protein powder and whatever else is all the rage into my fancy smoothie machine but that’s just hilarious. I have about five minutes to make my lunch and something for bfast before I’m running out the door. Thankfully, I discovered Premier Protein shakes a few years back and I LOVE them. I have a shake around 9 and then I’m good to go until 12. They are really low in sugar, and calories, but satisfying at the same time. Get them at Costco – so much cheaper than at the grocery store. I buy two boxes when I go. The chocolate and caramel flavors are my favs. Oh and put them in the fridge – much better cold!!

Happy, Healthy Eating Friends!

XO – Kelly D.

Meal Plan for the week of 10/14
Sunday – Mrs. Hamby’s Spaghetti – We are heading to my Aunt’s on Sunday to celebrate my Uncle’s bday. She is making spaghetti – the perfect Sunday supper meal. Spaghetti is a big deal in my family. Some of us like thin noodles, some thick. Some of us like meatballs, others just meat sauce. Since this is my blog I’m going to give you my favorite spaghetti recipe – Mrs. Hamby’s All Day Spaghetti. It’s the Secret ingredient – cinnamon. Don’t knock it ’till you try it!!!! A good salad, some garlic bread and you are ready to go to town. Note – I wasn’t able to locate Mrs. Hambys recipe online so I found one that is pretty much identical!!! I’ll upload hers to Pinterest ASAP!!
Monday – Burrito Zoodles : Super easy zoodle recipe here. Honestly, you could go without the zoodles if you didn’t feel like zoodling. Just eat over lettuce or, in a tortilla if you aren’t carb concerned. I will probably use ground turkey instead of ground beef, just to lighten it up a bit more.
Tuesday – One Pan Parmesan Tuscan Chicken – This looks GOOOOOD y’all. I love a creamy dish. Makes you believe you are eating something naughty when in actuality, it’s only 304 calories a serving. Now, I don’t usually have unsweetened almond milk in my fridge. A quick Teeter search found a carton for about $3 – not too pricey. I think I will serve this one over quinoa, which ups the calories, but not by much. And honestly, you don’t need a huge helping of whatever starch you are serving this with – start small – you may surprise yourself!
Wednesday – Spicy Paleo Tuna Salad – I need an easy recipe on Wednesdays to make it thru the week. This tuna salad is almost too easy. I am not a huge kale fan so I will toss my tuna with a mixed lettuce. I don’t hate kale but it always reminds me of eating at Shoney’s when I was a kid. Do y’all remember Shoney’s? They always put a huge piece of kale on your plate and it always looked plastic. Just me? Oh well….
Thursday – Turkey Pumpkin White Bean Chili – It’s been rumored that we will be in the 70’s here in Charleston, by the end of next week, but I’m taking it for true. Don’t turn your nose up at the pumpkin. This recipe is not sweet at all. The pumpkin just adds a creaminess you will LOVE. And it’s a crockpot, or instant pot, recipe so sit back, relax and let the pot do all the work. P.S. – I need to purchase an instant pot..
Friday – Sous Vide Salmon Teriyaki – OK so my neighbor has a sous vide. Have y’all ever heard of such a thing? She raves about this cooking tool. The other day she was in Wal-Mart and three sous vides were on the clearance rack, so she scooped them all up and then sat back and watched the neighbors fight over who got one. I came in last – I was in a meeting while she was texting everyone. BUT, another neighbor felt bad for me so she offered to share her sous vide. So now I am the joint owner of a $25 sous vide – well, not really. I keep forgetting to pay my neighbor!! Sorry Jen. The whole premise is this tool cooks your food at the perfect temperature so you never over cook your dish. If you don’t own a sous vide, just marinate and bake in the oven . I will serve this with asparagus and call it a day!!

Keep posting and following me on Instagram @dinnerwiththeduffys!! I love your comments and pics!!!

Say It Ain’t So!!

First, thank you for all of the love from last week’s post. I received the funniest comments from so many of you! I’m still cracking up. Now, onto this week. On Sunday as I was sitting down to Harris Teeter Home Shop, I opened my freezer to take inventory of what I already had on hand and found it completely empty. Well, not completely – it’s still full of a number of unidentifiable objects. I’d like to think it’s all food but I can’t say for sure. Am I on my own here, or do some of you have similar freezer situations? Don’t tell me if I’m on my own. Any who, I found an empty freezer so off to Costco I went. And what did I find as I rounded the initial Costco corner? CHRISTMAS. The whole season, right there, taking up half of the bloody store. Trees, wreaths, ornaments, candy canes, inflatables and more. Y’all, I got so mad.

christmas at costco

Well, first I panicked. I seriously believe I experienced my first panic attack in Costco this past Sunday. Someone actually ran into the back of me with their cart as I was stalled in the middle of the aisle, mouth agape, just staring up at all the twinkling lights. My mind immediately went to Christmas lists. I started doing a mental rundown of who I need to buy for this year. HOW CRAZY IS THIS??? My husband’s birthday is this coming Sunday, and I haven’t even begun to think about what I will buy him. But seeing all of that red and green sent me down the crazy Christmas rabbit hole. It has to stop. Y’all, I won’t survive. I get that Christmas is the most wonderful season, and I totally agree, but Halloween and Thanksgiving are pretty fabulous too. And more importantly, they allow us to keep our heads in the clouds, for two glorious months, so we don’t have to think about all that we have to do before Dec. 24th! We need the orange and brown holidays to stay sane people!! So, right here and now, I commit to all of you that I will not purchase a single Christmas gift until after I digest all of my turkey and stuffing. I’m going to force myself to ignore all of the sparkly red & green and focus on the neutrals for as long as possible. You should join me – I may even take it a step further and boycott Christmas cards…..stay tuned!!
Tip of the Week: Get the My Fitness Pal app on your phone. It’s a free calorie counter app, and I love it. I am really bad at “guessing” how many calories are in a serving size, so for many years I was eating healthy but still not losing weight. I couldn’t figure it out until I uploaded this guy onto my phone and started plugging in what I was eating. I was shocked. The great thing about My Fitness Pal is most of the recipes I share on the blog are pre-loaded, so all you have to do is enter in your serving size. This helps me to see where I am, calorically, at the end of the day so I know how many glasses of wine, or pieces of my kids Halloween candy, I can have/steal and still make my daily goal. It takes some getting used to – stopping to enter in everything you are putting into your pie hole takes time – but you will get used to it, and it will definitely help you stay on track. My PSA for the week.

Note – A number of you have asked how to find my weekly meal plan once you land on the blog. So, I’m going to place the day of the week in front of the recipe to help clear up any confusion. Hope it helps.
Sunday 10/7 Weekend Braised Beef Ragu with Pappardelle – Today is the hubs bday so I will not be cooking him dinner. I will force him to eat out of the house which is no easy task. BUT, if I was cooking dinner this dish would be it. And, if he sees this blog prior to Sunday, I may be eating my words. Slow cooker is an option here people – perfect for a Sunday supper!
Monday 10/8 – Skinnytaste Pepper Steak – This is one of those child hood meals we were all served because it’s tasty, inexpensive and super easy to throw together. The only difference is this one is low calorie! I will serve with brown rice and call it a day. Short and sweet.
Tuesday 10/9 – Green Curry Salmon – Get excited about this one y’all. SO good and healthy. Packed with flavor. You may have to purchase a few more items than usual for this recipe, but I promise it will be worth it. You don’t need to buy the “red boat” brand fish sauce – any will do. Harris Teeter brand is just fine. This calls for cauliflower rice, but I just can’t bring myself to make cauliflower rice. Some things just shouldn’t be messed with, and rice is kind of one of those for me. I’ll happily grab my bag of basmati to sub.
Wednesday 10/10 – 15 minute Mediterranean Chickpea Stew – I used to think chickpeas would not satisfy my appetite, but I was 100% incorrect. These little boogers are totally filling. Nigella seeds are one of the ingredients – I have to be honest, I had to google nigella seeds, and when I entered “nigella” into my Harris Teeter search box it got angry. I have never heard of such a seed, so I would imagine you can just go without or sub cumin seeds if you have them. I googled that, so it’s for true!!
Thursday 10/11 – Old Bay Shrimp and Sausage Sheet Pan – I’m amazed I have not thought of this before. I LOVE frogmore stew but it’s kind of a pain to cook on a weeknight. Plus, you feel like you should cook enough for 25 people as it’s one of those dishes you serve to a crowd. BUT, not this one. Instead of potatoes and corn you have asparagus and shallots – genius. The Modern Proper does call for you to make a lemon aioli, which I’m certain is delicious, but I will bypass and just eat as is. Too much time and too many calories.
Friday 10/12 – Mediterranean Style Zucchini Casserole – Apologies for all of the Med dishes, but the flavors are on point. Easy, warm dish for a perfect Friday night in. Casserole bakes for 40 minutes, so you have plenty of time to unwind and relax after a long week while the oven does the hard part. Plus you should have leftovers (unless you are feeding my husband) for Saturday lunch. 2 for 1 – I like it like that!!

There you have it.  Meals for the week of 10/7! Healthy, Easy and Delicious!!

Tag and follow along on Instagram – I love seeing your fabulous food pics!!

XO ~ Kelly