Love that Chicken from Popeye's

We are definitely a Popeye's luvin family. We don't always pick up dinner from there but it's definitely a special treat when we do. Everyone loves the biscuits, we always get red beans and rice, and the chicken is perfectly seasoned and has the right amount of crunch. When I saw this Pin for 7Up Biscuits that were supposed to be like the Popeye's Biscuits, I knew I had to try to recreate our favorite meal.

Biscuits from Plain Chicken: I was really excited to try these out. The first time I patted the dough too much and spaced the biscuits too far apart which resulted in flatter than expected biscuits. I could also taste the lemon-lime from the 7up. The second time I made them, I put them close together and tried not to pat them down too much. They came out a bit better, but still with a strong lemon-lime flavor. So the third time I made them, I made sure to pack the cups with the Bisquick, and I dropped them in to the pan instead of patting them and cutting them. I also used room temperature Sierra Mist. The taste was definitely better for me as I didn't taste as much of the lemon-lime. I think I'm going to try these again but with sugar and a club soda or some sort of carbonated water. I'm also going to try patting them again. Even though they turned out well dropping them by the spoonful, they didn't have that smooth top like the Popeye's Biscuits.

Chicken from FromAway: There are a few Popeye's Fried Chicken recipes out there. I chose this one because he marinated the chicken in buttermilk [which makes it moist, like Popeye's]. I also chose this one because it was the spicy version, Mr. Saitek's favorite. I followed the recipe exact. The marinating and the breading of the chicken was great. The chicken was moist and the coating was identical to Popeye's. However it wasn't spicy to me, and I am a weakling when it comes to spice. Even though there was hot sauce in the eggs and cayenne in the flour, I just could not taste the spice. Also it wasn't seasoned like Popeye's which has a bit of salt and probably garlic powder. The next time I make this I am going to season the buttermilk so that it gets in to the chicken, I'm also going to add cayenne to the eggs and up all of the seasonings in the flour. I also used whole chicken wings [tips cut off] instead of a whole chicken. It was what I had and I prefer frying wings instead of pieces of chicken [and crossing your fingers it's cooked all the way and not burning on the outside]. I definitely think this was a great base recipe and if you've never fried chicken before you should try this recipe out.
*Also I did not make the delta sauce, as often as I have had Popeye's I have never had the sauce so I figured I wasn't missing much. Maybe I'll make it another time.

Red Beans & Rice from teasphere: I would just like to say that whoever owns this blog, they are my hero. This recipe is fantastic! I have always had a hard time with red beans [I make black beans like nobody's business] and this recipe is easy and on point. I am pretty sure that Popeye's uses parboiled rice, but it's really not a big deal for me to use white. I am not a fan of parboiled and to have it around just for one recipe isn't economical for me. The first time I made this I didn't smush [how professional] the beans enough. This didn't affect the beans in a bad way, I just didn't think it was as close to Popeye's as it would have been if I had smushed them more. The second time I smushed like a mad woman, I almost pulled out the masher [for potatoes] but I didn't. I did like them more than the first time, but next time I'm going all out! I also added a bit of cumin to them the second time around, I don't think I added enough to affect the taste but I think the beans and rice have a little more wiggle room. They don't have to be EXACTLY like the restaurant's recipe, because they are great on their own and you can adjust spices and beans to rice ratio per your preference. Can't get that at Popeye's!

This meal is a lot cheaper for me to recreate at home than eating out. Not only cheaper but we get more food out of it. Make sure you click the links to get the original recipes and if you have any questions feel free to comment.
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Day 7: C25K Progress

Last Wednesday I started the C25K on Week 3 Day 1. Friday I did Week 3 Day 2 and Monday I moved up to Week 4 Day 1. Today I did W4D2, and it's kicking my ass. I think I started out on the right week, and after a couple of days I didn't feel like it was pushing me hard enough, so I moved in to Week 4 of the program. I have one more day of Week 4 and then move in to Week 5, which ends with a 20 minute jog. I do not think I will be able to make it through a 20 minute run, it's just insane. So when I move in to Week 5, I'm going to see how well I do. If I need to I'll repeat Days 1 & 2 before I take on the 20 minute jog.

Tuesday I did my Tabata Intervals just to get some cardio in. I've mostly been concentrating on the running program but afterwards I do some arm exercises. I haven't really been working on my Glutes, Abs or Back. Now that I'm pretty comfortable in the program I am going to round out my week with some extra cardio as well as add my Glutes, Abs, and Back exercises back in. I really need to invest in some 10 lb. weights because at the moment I use 15's and I can't do certain arm exercises because I don't have the strength yet. But for right now I'm satisfied with what I am able to do.

A lot of my exercises and routines are online or in an app, and I hate stopping what I'm doing to figure out what I'm supposed to do next. When it's on paper it's a lot easier for it to be memorized or glanced at when I need it. So I have my spreadsheet printed out and hung up on the dry erase family calendar [that hasn't been used in 8 months]. Once I figure out all the exercises I'll update and post my workout spreadsheet.

And now to the stats, I'm only going to do pics when I've lost weight in 10 pound increments. So once I lose my first 10, I'll update with new pics.
Starting Weight: 211 pounds
Current Weight: 206 pounds
Goal Weight: 150 pounds
Weight Lost: 4 pounds
Bust: 42.5" [This fluctuates mostly due to what kind of support I'm wearing]
Arm: 13.5"
Waist: 37.5"
Hip: 44"
Thigh: 25"
Compared to last week, there hasn't really been much of a change in regards to my measurements. I did lose 4 pounds, which isn't a lot but considering that I have still been eating sweets and ice cream it's not too shabby either.
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Dash of Salt

I can honestly say that I am pretty comfortable with my cooking and all aspects of the kitchen. There are things that I have yet to master, and some things that I'm still unsure about trying. I could make dinner for a weeks without having to look up recipes and instructions, the meals would be pretty routine, but I could do it. However as much as I feel that I am a creature of habit, I cannot stand when I get stuck in a food rut. I have been trying to make a new recipe at least once a week. Well last week was a MESS.

Wednesday's menu was Pan Seared Tilapia with Avocado Salsa and Zucchini Cakes. I also tossed some leftover whole wheat penne pasta in some butter and parmesan. The best thing about the meal was the leftover pasta. My fish came out too salty, the red onions over-powered the salsa and the zucchini cakes tasted like flour [even though there isn't any in the recipe]. Blech!

Okay so we went forward in to Thursday. I was planning to make Salt & Pepper Chicken, Asian-Style Stir Fried Green Beans, Pork & Ginger Pot Stickers, and white rice. The recipe for the Salt & Pepper chicken called for 3 tablespoons of salt. Now I don't usually measure my spices, unless I'm baking or making a rub or sauce. If I'm seasoning, I use what I feel is the right amount. When I added the 3rd tablespoon of salt I felt it in my bones that I had made a mistake, and I was right. However next time I will just cut down the salt, because it came out pretty tasty otherwise. The Green Beans were horrible, they just did not come out right. My absolute favorite thing at a Chinese buffet is the green beans. Slightly salty and a little greasy...mmmmmm! These however were not what I was hoping for. And then the potstickers. When we were getting groceries Mr. Saitek didn't hear me when I said I needed cabbage and we ended up not having any. So I froze the ground pork and wonton wrappers for use at a later time :(

Friday we were out shopping most of the day for Bee's school clothes. I knew it wasn't going to be a day I felt like cooking. So I asked Mr. Saitek to grill up some burgers. Easy dinner, and I didn't have to cook. Those are my favorite dinners :)

Finally, Saturday was a success!So I made Homemade Pita for the Chicken Gyros with Roasted Red Peppers and a Cucumber Raita. I was going to make the Cumin Lime Chickpeas, but it calls for cilantro and Mr. Saitek despises cilantro. So I just boiled the chickpeas until they were soft, then I drained them. While they sat in the colander I put the pot back on the burner with a couple tablespoons of butter. I sauteed some minced garlic and onions until tender, added the chickpeas and seasoned with Dhal [similar to curry] seasoning and salt. I didn't really care for the flavor of the chicken, too much oregano, but with a little tweaking I'm sure this will be added to the recipe book.

Sunday was frozen pizza and salad since we spent most of the day on the road picking up Ladybug from her Nana's in Tampa. Monday the kids ate the leftover pizza along with the leftover chickpeas. I made Pan Seared Tilapia, Shrimp, Mashed Potatoes, and Asparagus for the adults. That dinner is one of my go-to dinners. I haven't been cooking enough food to fill Mr. Saitek, mainly because I had gotten used to the girls being gone for the summer, and now I have to up the servings. So I made a really hearty meal to get him through the next few days.

Last night, Tuesday, he made dinner again. Chicken Breasts and some rice. I added some french cut green beans and Hawaiian rolls. Pretty good.

I'm pretty sure this week is going to be a routine dinner week, I don't have it in me to eat a bunch of salt again, and with school starting on Monday I want to make sure everything is in order. Cooking new recipes can be frustrating simply because you have to learn what ways to make it unique to your family. Sometimes you need to up the servings to feed 2 adults, 2 kids, and a toddler. Sometimes you cut back on sauce, because your husband doesn't like saucy foods. Or sometimes you just have to trust your gut and not add that last tablespoon of salt.
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Day 1: Fitness Goals

For a little over a month I've been working out. I researched [on Pinterest mostly] for different exercises and such. I figured out what areas I wanted to work on and made a spreadsheet with everything organized [see below]. I did it for the first 2 weeks with no excuses and then week 3 came with a bunch of curveballs. I missed days and doubled up on others, and my eating habits went haywire. People are in the habit of instant gratification or results. When it comes to losing weight and getting fit you HAVE to get out of that mentality. If it took you months or years to look the way you do, it's not going to take days to look amazing. It takes work, determination, self control, and a whole lot of motivation.

The other day I was reading Mama Laughlin's amazing blog and it inspired me to start running for REAL. Not just doing my 200-300 calorie runs, but actually having a goal and building up to it. So I started the C25K [Couch to 5K] program yesterday. Being that I'm a little in shape, emphasis on little, the first day was way easy. Then I saw that I was barely going to hit 200 calories, after being on the treadmill for 30 minutes I knew I had to pump it up. So on the last interval I ran 5 minutes instead of 1 and finished walking on an incline. I finished that run burning 257 calories, woo hoo!

I knew that Week 1 wasn't the right place for me to start, so I read over the weeks and was going to start at Week 2, but the only difference was an additional 30 Seconds on each interval. Knowing that I can run a lap nonstop as well as 5 minutes, I decided to start at Week 3 Day 1. I just completed it today, and I think it was the right place to start. Next week will be a bit of a challenge but I am looking forward to it.

My problem areas include Arms, Abs, Back and Butt. I'm going to continue to lift weights and do exercises to tone up those areas in addition to the running. I'll probably come up with a new spreadsheet since a few of the original exercises are a bit hard for me and I end up skipping them.

My goal weight is 150 pounds. The last time I was that weight or less was right out of high school before Ladybug was born.  I have struggled with body image and weight my entire adolescent and adult life. I was always a tall girl and I have a large frame. I've never been smaller than a size 10. I don't have unrealistic expectations. I know that what I want to look like is going to take time and determination, which I sometimes lack. I'm also a sucker for baked goods. Chocolate, Brownies, Cookies and Cakes are my weakness and I am really going to try to back off from them for a bit. Calorie counting is a pain in the ass, I've done it before. BUT it works because it holds you accountable for what you are putting in to your body. Let's say you burn 300 calories, well guess what, you just did that for nothing after enjoying that nice big chocolate fudge brownie [with nuts]. It sucks, but one day I will be at a maintenance weight and I'll be able to indulge a little more.

So raise your water bottles and toast to the beginning of my weight loss journey!

Beginning Stats:
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 211
Bust: 44"
Arm: 13.5"
Waist: 36 1/4"
Hip: 44"
Thigh: 25"

Mr. Saitek can run laps around me, and I haven't told him I'm starting the program. I'm looking forward to running with him one day and being able to keep up :)

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This is the obligatory first post. I will have an "About Me/Us" page that will describe me and my house a bit better. So I'll keep it short here.

I'm a former blogger who took a break because I was burnt out on blogging and a bit burnt out on life. I went through ups and downs and documented all the gory details. I used to blog about a lot of my personal thoughts and life, but this blog won't be so raw. As much as I don't mind sharing the real and sometimes unlovely bits of my life, I'm not doing that here mainly because I won't have the anonymity. I plan on documenting my life and sharing photos of myself and sometimes the family and I wouldn't want people to know everything about everything. Yes I will be coming from an honest place at all times, yes I will document those unbearable days, but I won't be as open as I used to.

If you want more information on a particular post or even some unbiased and non-judgemental advice, if you are going through something similar, then you can ALWAYS email me. I have my own opinions and beliefs and they don't always mesh with how others feel and think. I think that's okay and this blog is a safe place for people like me. If you can't cope with people who are different from you and feel like placing your judgement on me and my family [blog family included] please do so on your own time and in your own space. I don't tolerate ignorance or any other form of prejudice and disrespect.

Other than that I'm glad you stopped by and I hope you stick around.
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