Catching Katy

Reads, Eats, & Everything Else


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So Long, 2016

2016 is coming to a close and it’s been a bit of a whirlwind year. Like most years, it had some high and lows, but overall I’d say that for me, 2016 has been great. Here are the highlights, in no particular order.

Weddings, babies and graduations, oh my!

I was lucky enough to celebrate a cousin and 4 different friends getting married, 2 of which I was honored to stand along side. Well, that ended  up being standing beside just one, but more on that later. I also had one dear friend have her first baby and one complete her PhD. It brought me such joy to celebrate these people with showers, bachelorettes, parties, and gifts. I wish them all the best of marriages, new families, and new jobs. All of this alone was enough to make 2016 a great one!

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Moving Friends

A good friend moving away is not a good thing for anyone. It’s sad and difficult to come to terms with. But if it has to happen, you might as well make the best of it with a 7 state road trip in a car packed to the ceiling, complete with an overnight stay at a bed and breakfast. Definitely a highlight of the year, albeit a sad long term outcome.

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Disney & Universal

My nephew is 2 ½ and you have to pay for children to get into Disney at age 3, so of course my Disney-loving sister-in-law had to plan a big family trip this year. Best. idea. ever. I didn’t get around to doing a whole post on this trip as the end of the year got away from me, but I feel like a Disney expert now. Although I’m sure I still know nothing compared to people who go all the time. This was my first time there since I was 8. And it was magical. The week after Thanksgiving is a great time to go if you can take time off. And I was really surprised at how much stuff there was for my nephew to do! It was an awesome trip and definitely a highlight of the year.

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Travels

2016 was a year of many travels. In addition to the trips already mentioned, I made it to cities, states, and another country! Locations included two trips to Nashville, TN; multiple trips to Daphne, AL; Denver (plus south of Denver for work); State College, PA; Nicaragua; Austin, TX; Chattanooga, TN; Asheville, NC; McCormick, SC; Orlando, FL; Helen, GA; St. Augustine, FL

So many places, so little time!

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Hospital

The downfall of social media is that all you see is the wonderful, happy pieces of everyone’s life. Although a lot of great things happened this year, it wasn’t all sugar and spice. The night before my friend’s wedding – one I was supposed to be in – I landed myself in the ER, which turned into the ICU, with some kind of infection. And yes, that’s the most diagnosis I ever got. Needless to say, I missed my friend’s wedding and was devastated. It was also a miserable two weeks being in the hospital for 3 ½ days then recovering. But it was made tolerable and I made it out stronger because of my incredible family and friends. It was a reminder of how lucky I am to have the people who are in my life.

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This guy

As incredible as everything was this year,  this guy takes the cake. We met in our condo complex with the dogs out on the lawn [cue the AWs]. Adorable, right? We grabbed dinner and drinks for our first date on a nearby patio and we hit it off. But little did I know how amazing this year would be together. He is kind, funny, thoughtful and caring. He made it through a stay, by my side, in the ER and ICU just 6 months in. I can go on and on about how much I love this guy, but I’ll spare you. He is easily THE highlight of this year and I can’t wait for the year to come.

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Books

I completed my book challenge by 10 books and had some great ones of the 30 I read! I think I’m going to up my challenge to beat my 30 next year.

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I know not everyone had a great year. I am ignoring some major events that happened in our country this year to focus on my little insignificant life. If it wasn’t a great year for you, I hope for everything and more for you in 2017. Happy New Year!

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Here’s to Another Year

I don’t normally do annual posts for my birthday, but this year threw a little curve ball. Just one week ago, instead of standing with my beautiful friend as she married the man of her dreams, I was in the ICU. And it was scary. Medical issues are not a new venture for me, but it’s not something I deal with on a regular basis anymore. My hematologist even bid me farewell just 2 months ago after seeing a hematologist regularly for 20 years.

I’ll spare you all the fun details, but a fever literally came out of nowhere (at the rehearsal dinner of course) and because I don’t have a spleen, my body cannot handle that. This has happened before, about 5 years ago, but I did not end up in the ICU last time. I made a pretty quick recovery, at least from ICU to going home, but just like last time, there was no real diagnosis. Not exactly an easy thing to deal with.

I write all this for the super cheesy but sometimes necessary reminder to not take anything for granted. When I was in need, I had the most amazing people by my side. From my parents who have been through it all for years to two incredible people who could have easily squirmed away. I received an outpouring of love, prayers, well wishes, flowers and coloring books from friends and coworkers. I am a very lucky woman and I am glad I can relax on my birthday (just slightly against my will/ability) and appreciate those who make my life incredible.

Thank you to everyone for all the well wishes this week and birthday wishes today!! Here’s to another year of health, fun, and adventures at 31!

 

 


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Crock Pot Marinara

This was super easy and has a good flavor. You can eat as is, or cook up some protein and add it in at the end! This recipe is good for Whole30 or non-Whole30, just change what you serve it on. For Whole30 I served over zoodles…..and threw in a sweet potato as I do to most meals. And don’t worry….I definitely went back for seconds!

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Crock Pot Marinara Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar (leave out for Whole30)
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • optional protein: ground turkey, ground beef (I used ground turkey)

Directions

Chop the onion and mince garlic (or use pre-minced). Place in bottom of crock pot.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine.

Cook on low for 8 hours.

If adding a protein, cook the meat and season with Italian seasoning when it is close to 8 hours. Once cooked, pour into crock pot and stir to combine. Recover to let finish heating or let it sit on warm for 20-30 minutes.

[modified from Budget Bytes]


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Sticky Shrimp

I was entering my more ‘simple’ week of the Whole30, but had already bought a pound of shrimp and a friend recommended this recipe, which sounded delicious. So I made one last kitchen-time effort to make this for dinner. And honestly, the time it takes is kind of worth it. I don’t buy shrimp a lot, so it was a treat and super delicious. I think every time I want to treat myself to shrimp I will be making this recipe. It’s also very messy, so sorry there are no step-by-step photos – had to protect the phone!

Obviously this would be great served over rice if you’re not limited or in a taco. I had some steamed broccoli and cauliflower, then used my spiralizer to make some sweet potato chips. Just toss in some olive oil, sprinkle with cinnamon and bake!

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Sticky Shrimp

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. large raw shrimp (thawed if previously frozen)
  • 1 1/2 C water
  • 1/4 tsp. each: cumin, coriander, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder
  • 1 pinch dried oregano
  • ~1/4 C tapioca or arrowroot starch (I had arrowroot)
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • Oil for frying (I used coconut; others: avocado or ghee)
  • Chopped cilantro for serving (optional)

Directions

Remove the shells from the shrimp. Combine the shells and water in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil for at least 15 minutes.

Mix the shrimp and seasonings together in a large bowl.

Spread your starch out on a plate. Dredge the shrimp in the starch, shake off excess and set aside. (or I dredged some, fried, dredged more while those fried, etc.)

Heat oil in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat.  When the pan is hot, add the shrimp one at a time. They should loosely fill the pan – do not stack them or let them touch. Let each side brown quickly (~1 minute or less per side). Remove seared shrimp to a plate and set aside.

Strain the shrimp stock into the bowl you used to season the shrimp. Stir to get any stray seasoning. Pour the stock into the same hot skillet.

Boil for a few minutes until reduced by about half. Remove skillet from heat and add the shrimp. Stir the shrimp into the hot liquid. The shrimp will soak up most, if not all, of the liquid.

[from Worth Cooking]


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Zoodles with Cashew Cream Sauce

I think I’ve used more kitchen gadgets in my first 8 days of the Whole30 than I have in the past 6 months. I love it! And this includes some newly purchased gadgets – especially my spiralizer. It will change your life to be able to make “noodles” out of veggies.

This recipe seemed easy enough (though I’m realizing I think I’m choosing the most prep-heavy recipes – more on that in my week 2 recap) and it made me use my new spiralizer! It really was not difficult, just a little time-consuming with lots of chopping, spiralizing (I’m making it a word), and cooking. So although it probably won’t be a regular in my food rotation, it was good!

Simply prep some stuff

Saute some stuff

Add a protein if you want and you’re done! (but not really THAT quickly)

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I just baked a piece of chicken with Mural of Flavor seasoning. If you still haven’t made it to Penzey’s – try to check it out if you have one near you! Or order this spice mix to try because it is very versatile. This can also be used as a side, which I did later in the week with the little bit I had leftover!

 

Zoodles with Cashew Cream Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 8 C raw spirialized zucchini (I think I used about 3 zucchini, but I can’t remember)
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 C cashew butter
  • 1/2 coconut milk (+water to thin out sauce if needed)
  • 2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 C fresh torn cilantro (+extra to garnish)
  • 1/4 C cashews, crushed (+extra to garnish)
  • 2 Tbsp. Ghee or olive oil to saute
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil (optional to drizzle on top)
  • Optional: protein to make it a full meal

Directions:

Before anything else, go ahead and prep: spiral zucchini, chop green onion, crush cashews, and tear cilantro.

Combine cashew butter, coconut milk, rice wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, granulated garlic, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat on low to combine and make a sauce. I ended up adding probably up to 1/2 C water because I thought the sauce was too thick.

While sauce is warming, saute zoodles and green onion in ghee or olive oil. I had to split them between two pans and it took a while. You could do in smaller batches to saute quicker.

Add torn cilantro and chopped cashews to zoodles and saute for 1-2 minutes.

When zoodles are cooked, add sauce to the pan and mix to combine OR portion individually with a dollop of sauce on zoodles. I portioned and dolloped.

Garnish with chopped cashews, cilantro, a drizzle of sesame oil, and red pepper flakes if you want. I drizzled sesame oil but did not garnish with anything else. I thought the sauce had enough kick of red pepper flakes and my “garnish” was my chicken breast!

[from Planks, Love, & Guacamole]


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Beef & Sweet Potato Chili

My first week on the Whole30 has been pretty good! I’ll give a full update but I wanted to share this AMAZING recipe asap. Everyone should make this, whether you’re doing Whole30 or not. Seriously.

I snagged this one from Megoirs (who adapted it from another blogger). It will definitely be a regular in my cooking rotation. I have a couple extra notes, which may help or may not! Happy cooking!

Beef & Sweet Potato Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1lb grass fed ground beef (or ground chicken or turkey)
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced into large chunks*
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp butter or olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsps paprika
  • 1 jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 small cans rotel
  • 8 oz tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • optional: a few tablespoons of hot sauce + extra seasoning to your taste
  • Cilantro for topping**

*my interpretation of large chunks then took an extra hour to cook in the chili. unless you like crunchy potatoes, I recommend small chunks so they will cook quicker. You still may need to cook a little longer than the recommended time.

**I did not use cilantro. Confession: I hate buying fresh herbs because most recipes use just a tiny bit and the rest goes bad. But it can only be even better with the cilantro! 

Directions:

  1. Heat butter or oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, garlic and peppers. Saute over a medium heat for five minutes.
  2. Add the meat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, and sprinkle in the cumin and paprika. Let the meat cook until browned, and then stir in the tomato paste.
  3. Add the rotel, tomatoes, and potato into the pan. Stir well, then slowly add broth. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat. Let it simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add 3/4 of the cilantro and simmer for a further five minutes. Sprinkle in the rest of the cilantro immediately before serving.
not the prettiest pic, but seriously delicious

not the prettiest pic, but seriously delicious


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Record Breaking New Year

I think I started off 2015 pretty well. Not only did some friends and I run a 5K on January 1st, but I started the year completing an event for my 30 before 30 list! The First Day 5K was at Red Brick Brewery (so obviously the brewery was the after race fun) and started at 1pm, so we didn’t even have to set an alarm on new years day!

It was a smaller race – and that made it fun! The route was pretty hilly (as can be expected in Atlanta) but I ran pretty well. So well, in fact, that I placed first in my age group, 10th place overall for the women, and improved my personal 5K record to 25:57 (8:22 pace)!!

It was a great and fun way to start the year. Happy 2015!!

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