Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘feeding my family’

We had a few days of 50 degrees and sunshine, then a few days of 70 degrees and sunshine, and now it’s raining and in the 60s. My allergies are all amped up about the constant temperature flux. It’s super fun to have to make a beeline to the nearest box of Kleenex at any given moment and to have my eyes suddenly start streaming at very inopportune times – trying to check out at the grocery store, having a conversation with Carla’s principal in the school hallway – and to constantly feel as though a sneeze is about to burst out and say hello and by super fun I mean I literally want to cut off my nose to spite my face. I feel very spiteful toward whatever internal mechanism is directing everything in my face to method-act like a faucet.  Probably cutting off my nose would just provide it with more reason to produce tears so I’m going to resist the impulse.

Last night I took a much-needed Benadryl before bed – getting up every five minutes to blow my nose is not restful. It did its job, but I think I took it too late in the evening because I slept through my alarm and have been feeling bleary and underwater all morning. Maybe I am underwater. Maybe that’s why most of my face is damp.

Anyway! Dinners! I am trying to do the bare minimum but also… I think I am being over ambitious. Time will tell.

Dinners for the Week of October 22-30

Note: I got some miniature zucchinis at Trader Joe’s and some green beans and I will roast them up with some onion and throw them in the farro. I am unreasonably excited about this. However, I was excited about it YESTERDAY and then failed to make it and instead made my husband pick up takeout from California Pizza Kitchen so we’ll see if the excitement lasts today.

Note: Another zucchini recipe. Is that too much zucchini for one week? I suppose time will tell. Anyway, we haven’t had this one in a while and it sounds yummy.

Note: Yum.

Note: Is this too much flavor? Are we going to be overwhelmed by all the sauce/spice? Time will tell, which is apparently my motto this week.

Note: Wait a second. A THIRD recipe with zucchini in it? Am I over-zucchini-ing? Why does the word “zucchini” look so ridiculous to me? This is what I ordered from CPK yesterday, and it was fine, but my version is better. (And the CPK version somehow also had regular noodles in it? I thought it would be JUST zucchini noodles. But I was wrong.) My husband doesn’t love this as much as I do, so I’ll make it the night he has a board meeting to attend.

Note: We haven’t had this in ages and it sounds DELICIOUS. I will add bell peppers and NO ZUCCHINI and maybe some onion because I like my curries full of veggies.

  • Chili

Note: Is there any better meal to eat while watching football? I don’t think so.

 

What’s on your menu for this week?

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Changing gears from yesterday: let’s talk about food and the practical concerns of getting meals on the table.

One thing that has become quite the quandary is how to feed my child now that she has more after-school activities.

She’s always done activities, but they were mostly right after school or on the weekend. Now, she has practices and lessons that don’t even START until after five. These are no longer after-school activities, they are now EVENING activities and I don’t like it. (I don’t dislike it enough to remove her from the activities, apparently.) Carla is a child who absolutely NEEDS eleven to twelve of sleep a night, so my husband and I are trying really hard to make sure she is in bed with the lights out no later than 7:30 pm. But when an activity ends at 6:30… how am I supposed to squeeze nourishment into the tiny space between “traveling home from activity” to “bedtime preparations”? It seems impossible.

(Perhaps you are thinking “McDonalds”! I have zero qualms about buying my child a happy meal. I ate fast food probably twice a week as a kid before gymnastics and piano lessons. But Carla does not eat fast food. Or, if she does, it is so rarely I cannot count on it as a reliable food source. Her palate baffles me.)

Options I have explored so far, with varying but mostly discouraging results:

  1. I made a big pile of sun butter and jelly sandwiches that I could freeze and defrost whenever we needed a quick meal. Carla ate one and pronounced it was terrible. Another night, she ate a few bites of a sandwich and refused to eat anymore. And then we lost power for many days and the rest of the sandwiches perished.
  2. Lunchables, accompanied by fruit.
  3. Snack dinner: some combination of pepperoni, cheese, crackers, olives, roasted chickpeas, sugar snap peas, and fruit. This is, I think, the most successful option. But it’s also challenging, because Carla prefers the same things over and over but then grows tired of them and then we are SCREWED.
  4. Bagel with cream cheese, accompanied by some combination of pepperoni, sugar snap peas, cheese, and fruit.

I have also been trying to bulk up Carla’s after-school snacking game. So on a day she has an activity at 5:00, I give her the usual banana right after I pick her up from school and then make her a yogurt and fruit smoothie to eat on the drive to the activity. Hopefully this is providing her with some extra protein and fat and vitamins, in case it’s a night where she only eats a Lunchable.

Over the summer, we were able to eat dinner as a family a lot more frequently than we ever have. But family dinners have gone right out the window since school started, what with Carla’s earlier bedtime and my husband’s work schedule. So that’s a bummer. But I am prioritizing my child’s sleep over everything else right now and I feel good about that. Carla is so busy and learning so much, I really want her to be well-rested so that she can get the most out of everything she’s doing.

The other Kid Activity-Related Issue that’s derailing my meal plans is that I am so flustered by what Carla is going to eat that I keep throwing up my hands and scrapping my own adult dinner plans in favor of Panera or takeout or prepared foods from the grocery store. Which are all fine options, but tend to be less healthy and more expensive than the food I’ve already planned to make. It’s just that I am TIRED by the time Carla is in bed. I am still doing my own thing during the day — a day in which I never seem to have enough hours — but on top of that, I feel like remembering which outfit she needs for that day’s activity or washing outfits for the next day’s activity or making sure we are stocked up on banana and frozen mangoes or rushing to pick her up from school or rushing to get her into her soccer uniform or rushing to get her to swimming on time is taking a lot out of me. And sure, it’s nice that she can come home after school to play for a while before ballet, but then I am driving to and from school and then to and from ballet when it would be much easier to go directly from school to the activity. The chunks of time between school and activity are too short to do anything of substance. I am constantly watching the clock or gathering necessary equipment or preparing snacks or driving or waiting in traffic or urging Carla to don her appropriate gear or prodding her to eat eat eat or brush your teeth or get your jammies on. It’s nonstop until she’s asleep, is what I’m saying. (HOW do you people with multiple children NOT COLLAPSE FROM EXHAUSTION?) This is what it is like to be Mariah Carey’s personal assistant, right? THEN, if I wait until 7:30 to start making dinner, well, we won’t be eating until 8:30 or 9:00 and that’s… later than I like to eat. More relevant is that I am TIRED. I don’t want to be chopping and sauteeing at 7:30. I want dinner to be ready to go. I can accomplish this, of course; it just means more meal prepping on shopping day, which I can totally do if I grit my teeth and just do it.

If you are a parent, you have my fist bump of empathy. If you are a parent of multiple children with (or honestly without) activities, you have my abiding awe and respect. If you’ve figured out the Kid Activity/Dinnertime solution, please let me know.

In the meantime, here’s what I’m planning to make and eat this week:

Dinners for the Week of October 15-21

 Note: I loved this the last time I made it, and, once again, I will make the peanut dressing from Damn Delicious for my husband and the teriyaki dressing from Le Crème de la Crumb for me.

Note: This is an old standby. It’s super easy to make, so my plan is to marinate the salmon and chop/wash the broccoli in advance and then make this on one of the late activity nights – I can shove everything in the oven and let it broil while my husband is reading to Carla.

Note: I plan to make this on another late activity night. It’s a slow cooker option – and, honestly, I need to expand the number of meals I can make in the slow cooker. This way, dinner will be ready to eat as soon as Carla is in bed.

Note: To make this easy, I need to make the yogurt sauce in advance and chop the bell peppers in advance. I can do it.

  • Pizza

Note: I haven’t decided yet if we’ll have traditional pizza or if we’ll do a taco pizza. I am leaning toward the latter, especially considering we are skipping taco night this week. But I will make a game time grocery store time decision on this one.

Note: I’ll probably save this for the weekend, because it’s a new recipe and because it seems somehow “special.” Probably because of the novelty. Also, I like to shop for fish on Saturdays. There is no reason, it’s just how I am.

  • Out

 

 

What’s on your menu for this week, Internet?

Read Full Post »

My current mood is shifting somewhere between “can’t stop cringing about how awful high school was and how immature I was and how desperately sad it was that I actually thought high school was good at the time when upon reflection it clearly was NOT” and “bleak contemplation of the universe’s eventual and wholly unknown end which will lead to Absolute Nothingness, at least for me, and even if I’m lucky enough to miss the end of the universe it will be because I am already dead.”

And I am expected to make dinner, every single night, on top of all that. BLEAK.

Something I don’t think you know, probably because I have failed to tell you, is that Carla rarely eats dinner with me and my husband. RARELY. We are talking once or twice a week if we are lucky. Which means that I am cooking her dinner and then putting her to bed and then cooking dinner for myself and my husband. And she’s SO PICKY, which means that I expend a tremendous amount of energy thinking about how to tempt her to eat new foods and trying to figure out how to schedule the few foods she will eat so that she isn’t getting chicken dinosaurs three nights in a row, or whatever. YES, I feed my child copious amounts of chicken dinosaurs. SHE EATS THEM.

Sorry. I am apparently also feeling a little yelly at the moment.

Where was I? Oh yes. Rehashing high school failures, fretting about the acceleration of dark energy, moping about our endless need to eat.

So, here’s my hastily-thrown-together meal plan for the week which I came up with while sitting outside the grocery store this morning. Oh. We are also having Brand New (Potential) Friends over for dinner on Saturday, which could be contributing to my woe.

Dinners for the Week of February 26-March 5

 Note: The farro salad was so delicious the last time I made it, there’s no way it can possibly live up to expectations. But I’m going to make it anyway. I will roast the green beans and diced onions before adding them to the farro.

  • Tacos

Note: This is one of the few things Carla eats with any regularity. She has also expressed desire to help make the dinner, which should be fun.

Note: This dish was so good when I made it a couple of weeks ago, there’s no way it can possibly be as good this time. I’m really setting myself up for failure this week.

Note: As you may have sensed, I put this on the weekly menu when I am not particularly moved to strain my brain thinking of new, fresh recipes to try. Oh well. It’s an Old Reliable, even if it’s lost most of its excitement factor.

Note: We haven’t had this in a while. I probably won’t eat the chicken, but I can load up with chickpeas.

Note: Yes, basically we are doing exactly the same thing that we did the last time we had guests. My mom suggested my grandmother’s special salmon recipe, which my husband vetoed because fish can be… controversial. I wanted to do Lemon Chicken and My Standard Salad, but my husband is tired of the lemon chicken (which used to be our Go-To Guest Meal) and I am still not eating chicken and plus chili allows me to do everything in advance except serve the actual food. (If I made the lemon chicken, I would have to figure out when to put it in the oven, and then I’d constantly be fussing about whether it was done yet or not. Not really conducive to good conversation.) My husband will be making chocolate chips cookies.

  • Out
  • Leftovers

For Carla, my big plan this week is that I am going to try to get her to eat a hamburger patty; I bought some ground beef for the tacos and one of the chilis, and I am going to steal some to make her a mini burger. She has deigned to eat a meatball recently (just a bite or two, despite meatballs being one of her ENDURING FAVORITES a couple years ago), so I am really hoping I can get her to try the hamburger. Carla eats steak (on occasion), and I spotted two perfect Carla-sized (and Carla-priced) filet mignons at our meat counter today, so I am going to make one for her this week and freeze the other. We have a piece of salmon in the freezer, so I’ll try that one night. She used to eat salmon reliably every week, but when she had a brief bout of stomach flu this winter, it was right after eating salmon… and she’s been avoiding it ever since. (I get it.) I also bought her a tiny container of Hormel chili to try (prediction: she won’t), but I’m guessing I will end up making her chicken dinosaurs when our guests come over. And to round out the Carla Meal Plan, we’ve got tacos, chicken dinosaurs, and probably a “snack dinner” (with a bagel and cream cheese, some pepperoni, some fruit, some grape tomatoes). She gets a side of snap peas, broccoli, or green beans with each dinner, and I usually give her rice or bread, although we are working on eating plain penne. (She was penne at school, but not at home; she eats no other kind of pasta except food-colored spaghetti noodles.) There is also always fruit. Blueberries have been plentiful at our grocery store and delicious, but we also have a lot of apples on hand. So that’s it in this week’s What I Try to Get Carla to Eat. I wish we were having pork chops on a night when we could all eat together; Carla has eaten pork in the past, and I think if we all sat down together she might eat it again. Oh well. There’s always next week, when my family will inevitably require sustenance AGAIN.

Tell me what you’re eating this week, Internet.

Read Full Post »

Just as a general note, if you or anyone you know need a Girl Scout Cookies hook up, Carla is selling cookies between now and February 2. If you don’t know any Girl Scouts and you want cookies, want to donate cookies to U.S. troops, or want to support an Internet child you don’t know, let me know and I will send you a link to her online order form.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Last week reminded me that I enjoy shrimp. In small quantities. So I am going to try not to lean on it too much while I am avoiding chicken. Hence the Zero Shrimp Recipes below.

Also, we didn’t eat all the meals I’d planned (one night, my husband had a surprise – to me, not to him – meeting, so we ate leftovers, and another night we spent all day Going Going Going, so we went out to eat instead), so I’m recycling two:

Note: I think one of the reasons this is a leftover item from last week is that I am scared of the spinach. I don’t particularly like spinach, and I have never cooked it before. But I am getting sick of green beans, zucchini, and broccoli, which we rotate practically every three days.

Follow Up: This was SO GOOD. The cod was lemony and delicious, and super easy to make. I think next time I might even skip the flour, just sprinkle the fish with a little paprika, salt, and pepper, and drizzle it with butter and lemon juice. Very simple but really yummy. I also had a few baby potatoes and a red onion and some mushrooms lying around, so I chopped those up and roasted them with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and some fresh thyme. I was afraid the spinach would be gross, so I wanted to have a backup vegetable. But the spinach was AWESOME. I used this Ina Garten recipe (I love you Ina) and it was so simple and really delicious. All in all, an excellent meal! Definitely will do this again.

Note:  I am also planning to do a homemade tartar sauce for my husband. (I prefer a bit of mayo mixed with sriracha, myself.)

Another thing is that I think maybe I need to be more… honest? is that the word? about how many days per week I am willing/able to cook. Especially when it’s a new-to-me meal.

This week, I am going out one night with my dear friend/mentor. And I think I’m going to give us a second night for leftovers/going out/what have you.

Here’s what’s on the meal plan for the remaining three days:

Note: I don’t think I have ever cooked flank steak. And my husband isn’t a huge fan of asparagus. So this meal could be a big loser, we’ll see. (But it’s NOT CHICKEN.)

Follow Up: This was pretty good! The marinade was easy and tasty and overall this was very simple to make. I was a little wary of using boiled asparagus in the quinoa, so I roasted it, Ina Garten style (a little splash of good olive oil, some salt and pepper, roasted for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven). It also turns out that we were out of quinoa, so I used couscous instead. Honestly, I prefer couscous so it worked out nicely. I think the biggest objection to this meal was the cut of meat, which was a bit fatty. Next time I could try a different cut of meat.

Note: This is a recipe I’ve made before, so I feel fairly comfortable fooling around with it. I am going to swap the chicken for pork tenderloin, and the carrots for parsnips andcarrots andred onions because I don’t really like carrots. Cooked carrots. Raw carrots are A-okay.

Follow Up: This ended up being good… if I scraped the mustard sauce off of the pork. I think in terms of mustardy pork tenderloin, I much prefer this mustard balsamic version from Jo Cooks.

My husband admitted that he does not care for cooked carrots either (a revelation), and Carla tried one — and one parsnip — and agrees that she does not like either. So we will be foregoing the cooked carrots in future

Note: I have some tilapia in the freezer from the last time I made this. So all I have to buy is broccoli and some shallots! Woot! Also, don’t let the “en papillote” thing deter you. This is SO EASY. And very delicious.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoy it when you tell me what YOU are eating this week, so please. Spill the beans. (Or chicken. Or spaghetti. Or whatever it is you’re planning for dinner.)

Read Full Post »

My dad and I used to go out for pizza to this little pizza joint on the edge of town when I was a kid. They had the best pizza. But one day, the pepperoni (my favorite pizza topping) developed this weird smell. No one could smell it but me, and my parents frankly thought I was ridiculous. But to me, anytime I was around pepperoni – there or anywhere – I was overpowered by this sharp unpleasant nearly unendurable scent. The upshot was that I couldn’t eat pepperoni – or pizza – for A Long Dark Time. Years, maybe. So long that the pizza joint got turned over to new owners who transformed it into a rather seedy bar.

I have since come around and pepperoni smells wonderful once again and remains one of my favorite foods. The point is that I am not unfamiliar with being put off by certain foods. It’s happened before with ground beef. Perhaps it has even happened, years ago, with chicken; I can’t remember. But I’m off chicken currently, and it’s cramping my style.

Last week, I ate some leftover chicken paprikas and got a weird piece of chicken in my bite. I tried to keep chewing it, which was a bad plan, and ended up gagging into the sink and washing the rest of my paprikas (a much beloved and comforting food!) down the drain. BOO. And now I am queasy about chicken.

CHICKEN. I cannot stand the thought of it! It makes my face scrunch up and my stomach heave just to write the word on this page! And yet… how will I live without it?!?! Probably 80% of my meals revolve around chicken!

I am not opposed to eating vegetarian-ish things. But my husband needs Meat. I make him a beautiful butternut squash soup and he says, “where’s the protein?” He has gone All In on the Protein At Every Meal deal and I try to live up to my role, in his eyes, as Protein Provider.

We could have a lot of fish. But I like to buy fresh fish (am spoiled) (also my husband is spoiled and swears that any fish not fresh off the fishmonger’s ice tastes fishy) and also fish is expensive. I like to admire the beautiful snow white flesh of the halibut but I am loathe to spend $24 a pound for one dinner. Let alone more than one dinner. No thank you.

We could eat various other meats. But I am going to be honest with you here, I can only eat so much beef. Tacos, yes, maybe once a week (although they are not conducive to my Healthy Eating plans; if I’m going to eat one taco I’m going to eat six and I’m not even joking). Chili, fine. But it’s not a weekly kind of meal. Filet mignon, okay, once in a blue moon (expensive; finicky and oil-splattery to cook). Other cuts… just don’t appeal to me. I’m not a person who enjoys things that are shaped from ground beef – outside of hamburgers, that is. I won’t do loaves or balls sculpted out of meat, no thank you. I mean, I could probably do a pot roast now and again. But that’s a labor intensive affair right there. I am all about the easy meals. Same goes to beef burgundy or beef stew, by the way. Fajitas, but with steak? Meh, but maybe. That’s about it, folks.

This leaves pork. I do enjoy a good pork. Har har. I can do chops and tenderloin just fine. But… I just don’t think I could come up with enough variety. It’s not quite as versatile as that veritable blank canvas of foodstuffs, the boneless skinless chicken breast. I guess we will find out.

(If you are thinking, “Wait a second there… you have named literally three types of meat when there are MANY MORE OPTIONS AVAILABLE TO YOU! Turkey! Duck! Rabbit! Veal! Venison! Buffalo! Ham! Boar! Game hen! Sausage! Lamb! Shellfish!” Well then perhaps you have underestimated my ability to be squeamish about nearly everything on earth.)

(Neither my husband nor I eat tofu or any other plant-based protein substance. I know. We are lame.)

Well, despite all these crazy restrictions, I have managed to scrape together a week of meals that sound pretty appealing. And, most importantly, chicken free.

Dinners for the Week of January 8-January 14

Note: This is a new-to-me recipe but it sounds scrumptious. I haven’t decided if I will make this with beef or shrimp yet. Probably I will end up getting beef for my husband and then I will just eat the veggies.

Follow Up: This recipe was pretty good. I did end up eating it without veggies, and we added a handful of broccoli to the peppers and onions. However… as with most things containing Chinese Five-Spice powder, I found this overpoweringly five-spicy. I knew going in that I find that spice to be a little cloying, so I halved it. But it was still too much. So if I make this in future, I would either not include it at all or put in something like an eighth of a teaspoon or less. Aside from that, this was super easy to put together.

Note: Yes, this is a recipe for chicken. I am going to use pork chops instead. (In actuality, I used pork tenderloin. What? I like to play it fast and loose over here.)

Follow Up: I ended up foregoing the zucchini; instead, I made the tzatziki sauce that went with the recipe and made a quick Greek salad with quinoa, tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion, drizzled with lemon juice, olive oil, and a splash of red wine vinegar.

Note: I’m not sure what to pair with this, as a side… Maybe I will do some black beans? A simple salad? This is going to be a game-time decision, if by game-time I mean the grocery store produce section.

Follow Up: The rub/marinade for this salmon is super yummy. The avocado cream is also yummy. But I don’t know if they are necessary together? The avocado cream felt a little superfluous, and it was so limey that it kind of overpowered the flavor of the fish.

I paired this with a simple salad: mixed greens, quick pickled radishes, green pepper slices, and a sprinkle of roasted sunflower seeds. Then I made this quick lime vinaigrette. The salad was honestly the star of the show. Next time, I might make more salad, slice some avocado, and put the salmon on top. Skip the avocado cream altogether.

Note: This sounds decadent and totally anti-diet, but it has shrimp, which I enjoy for two reasons: 1. They are fairly low-calorie, if that matters to you. 2. I can only eat four or five at a time, which helps with #1 and also ensures I don’t spend a billion dollars on shrimp. The bad thing about shrimp though is the de-veining, which is DISGUSTING. Let’s not even think about it for One More Second or we’ll be down another protein.

Follow up: My grocery store sells shelled, de-veined raw shrimp in a big two-pound bag. I wasn’t in the mood to spend $20 to experiment with shrimp, so I bought some raw shrimp from my fish counter. The fishmonger told me that they are the exact same shrimp from the bag, so it was a good way to test them out. And they were excellent. I rinsed them several times in cold water, just in case they were salty, and they ended up not being salty at all.

This recipe was very good, but pretty labor intensive. I made the cajun seasoning (even though I didn’t have white pepper — whoops) and then I used my immersion blender to puree the sauce so there weren’t any tomato chunks in it. And even though I used the same pot for the sauce that I used to sauté the shrimp and veggies, I still had that plus the pasta pot plus the big bowl I used to keep the cooked shrimp and veggies warm plus lots of measuring devices that I had to wash. It was very tasty. It made a TON of sauce, and I am not sure how it will be as leftovers. We’ll see, I suppose. Next time I would probably try to halve the recipe, and I would make sure to have skim milk on hand (I ended up using whole milk, which is what I had in the fridge).

Note: Sometimes cod is good, sometimes it is bitter. I do not know when or how to determine which kind of cod I will get. Perhaps I will choose an alternative – tilapia is my the chef’s favorite because it is sturdy while still flaky and has the uncanny ability to take on any flavor you apply to it; my husband the dining public prefer more expensive “less fishy” fish.

Note: This marinade is good on chicken, I think it will be just as good slathered on a tenderloin.

Follow Up: I ended up using this marinade on pork chops rather than tenderloin and it was delicious.

Note: I am still kicking myself for not saving the recipe for the first time I made salmon cakes. It did NOT include Old Bay, which neither sounds nor tastes appealing (to me), but it was easy and fairly yummy. I have a sneaking suspicion that I Frakensteined my salmon cakes from multiple recipes, so it can likely never be recreated. Oh well. This version – stripped of the Elderly Docks and parsley – should do.

There you go! A chicken-free week! I plan to get the salmon all at once and then maybe make the salmon cakes and freeze them? Does that sound too ambitious? Perhaps. And then I will get the cod/tilapia/what-have-you on Saturday and make the cod meal that night. The shrimp… well, I’ve heard that frozen shrimp is one of the Great Hidden Deals of the grocery store, so I may attempt to put that to the test. If so, I won’t need to worry about waiting a few days before adding it to a meal.

What are you eating this week, Internet?

Read Full Post »

Internet, I am so sick of all food and have no idea what to cook and yet I STILL feel obligated to feed my family.

Yes, I have been here before. But this rut ravine crevasse feels especially deep and wide and insurmountable.

Let’s list all the things that are contributing to these dark feelings:

  1. My grill is broken, so none of my summery “throw some meat and veg on the grill” options are available to me
  2. My in-laws are here, which means I feel (self-applied, only) extra pressure to cook Things That Are Special
  3. I have still not gotten accustomed to our summer schedule, so I feel off-kilter in general
  4. It’s hot and I don’t have any extra energy for cooking
  5. I used up every last store of Cooking Enthusiasm in June, when I baked two cakes and countless cupcakes and hosted my in-laws for multiple Special Meals

First, I tried to make meal planning more interesting by adding two or three Brand New Recipes to the weekly list of dinners. But that requires research and energy, and I am fresh out of both. Okay, I am not “fresh out” of research. I am fresh out of PATIENCE for research. DESIRE to research. And patience and desire for this line of sentencing.

Next, we have been eating lot of meals outside the home, which takes all the planning and cooking weight off of me. But eating out all the time is expensive and time consuming. And I tend not to make the healthiest choices when I go out to eat (if I’m going to spend money on a meal, it better be tasty and fancier than a SALAD is my line of thinking).

Finally, I have turned to cooking super easy things, like Crockpot BBQ Pork or Tacos or Burritos. But my husband is growing weary of all of those things, and they aren’t really the lightest fare, either. I love to eat foods that are smothered in cheese and sour cream, but there’s only so much of that you can eat before you start to feel like YOU are smothered in cheese and sour cream.

How in the world do you climb out of such a deep and overwhelming food chasm?

Probably what I need most is some fresh ideas. Which is difficult to ask for because a) I have a HUGE list of recipes I haven’t tried and b) I am super picky and so 90% of recipes people suggest never sound that great. Really makes you want to help me, doesn’t it?

What are your go-to meals, when you want something easy and delicious? Bonus points if you would serve it to guests.

(Where does this come from, this need to do Something Special for guests? If a food is good enough to serve to my family, why doesn’t that make it good enough to serve to other people? And yet there are MANY things that my husband and I eat all the time – and LOVE! – that I have never thought twice about serving to others. Some of them are pretty spicy, so maybe that’s part of it… we like a spice level that wouldn’t be comfortable to many other people. Some of them seem… plain, I guess? Like the Crockpot BBQ Pork, which is just a pork tenderloin and an onion dumped into the crock pot with some BBQ sauce [and sriracha]. I usually eat it with a baked potato and some green beans. I LOVE it. But I wouldn’t consider serving it to friends because… I don’t know! It seems too homely somehow? It seems like a B-Team Meal, and when you have people over, it seems like you should be serving them only A-Team foods? It’s too easy to make, and you should put in Real Effort when you entertain? I have no idea. Is this Foods-Suitable-for-Guests thing unique to me and my husband?)

In exchange, I will give you my FAVORITE recipe of late. It is so good. So good that I refrain from making it too often, lest I get sick of it.

(And I cook the chicken in the oven – 425F for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is 165F – so it doesn’t matter that our grill is broken.)

It’s called Honey Chipotle Chicken Bowls from How Sweet Eats but I think of it as a big, delicious salad. I use lots of mixed greens for the base, and I cut some fresh corn and bell peppers and carrots and avocado and add those to the salad. And then I top everything with a mixture of the lime dressing the recipe recommends and a generous drizzle of the cooked marinade from the chicken.  I was really suspicious of putting quinoa on a salad, but it adds a very pleasant texture that I love. We served this to my in-laws recently, and they loved it.

Read Full Post »