Weekly Meal Plan (If There Is One)

I know I keep saying I'm so busy and yada, yada, yada. I am, in fact, busy, and I'm so grateful to have a job, however temporary, that pulls me away from this blog, which is a labor of love.

The meal plan this week is simply getting as much ready for Thanksgiving dinner as I possibly can. Dinner will most likely be trimmings from that cooking or eggs on toast or tuna fish sandwiches.

I'm not expecting to get much cooking done today, as another big thing has dramatically changed my schedule. Mike took me to Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon this weekend for a "surprise" anniversary trip. I use quotation marks because I knew where we were going and what the occasion was, but the real surprise was the place he picked to propose-at an overlook of a series of waterfalls. It couldn't have been more perfect.

Odin's Snow Ballet

Odie's quickly closing in on six months of age, and he is growing up to be a very good puppy. We've learned that one of the secrets to having a happy puppy is lots of playtime. We've also learned that he loves snow. He seems to love everything about it, and it is so much fun to watch him bounding through the snow after his frisbee.

Last weekend, it practically snowed for three days straight. In a lull, we took Odie to a ballpark to really let him loose. He had a fantastic time:

Weekly Meal Plan

I'm in almost over my head - figuratively and literally. I've been working, which really seems to take it out of me, but we're under about two feet of snow right now. (Remind me again why I moved to Utah?) Snow is...not my favorite thing. But Odie loves it. He also loves his new frisbee, and it was a lot of fun to watch him bounding through the snow after it.

I'm only planning four meals this week, because there's a top-secret thing going on this week... 

So this week's meals are super simple, and work mostly with what I already have in the fridge and freezer. I basically only bought broccoli and food for breakfasts and lunches at the store this week. It all starts with ribs...

Meal One: 

Oven-baked BBQ ribs with broccoli and biscuits

Meal Two:

Stir-fry with leftover beef, broccoli, and bell peppers from the freezer. Served over rice.

Meal Three:

Soup with leftover beef.

Meal Four:

I'll be in the kitchen today cooking the ribs, broccoli, biscuits, and rice. Everything else should whip up easily during the week. Happy eating!

What I'm Reading

If you need a good reason to vote next time around...(also, very disappointed about prob 37, even though I don't live in CA)

Fitting for my first major holiday gluten free, but enough with the pumpkins

Still working on this one...

Stop Reading. Go Vote.

I'm on my way to go vote. I hope you are too (or you've already done it). I could say it doesn't matter who you vote for as long as you actually vote, but I'd be lying. It does matter who you vote for. But you have to actually go and do it!

Stop reading! Go vote!

Weekly Meal Plan

As seen a couple of years ago in NYC. Life is also too short to eat "pretty good" food.

These days, I'm all about easy food. But that doesn't mean I've lowered the bar at all. I'm so glad to be working (finally!), and even though it's on a contract basis, meaning I only have a job when they have a project for me to work on, I'm really happy to be doing something. The only downside - if there is one - is that I get home a little bit too tired to whip up a complicated meal. Unless everything's already been done, that is.

So I've been spending most of my day on Sunday puttering away in the kitchen - sauteeing onions, braising meat, peeling carrots, steaming green beans - all in an effort to make my weeknights that much easier. And it works like a dream. Dinner never takes too long, and there are even less dishes to do, so we can get on to enjoying the rest of our evening.

This week is no different. Here's the menu:

  • Soup with beans, sausage and spinach
    • There's no prep needed for this one - I did all the prep work last week. But the prep would be soaking and cooking beans, and sauteeing sausage and onions (and whatever other vegetables you want). I'll just thaw out some broth, throw it all together, simmer, then add the spinach.
  • Chili-mac salad
    • Prep: saute onions and bell peppers, and brown the meat. When I'm feeling super-organized, I'll also shred the cheese, then toss it with some cornstarch (or potato, or tapioca) to keep it from sticking. You could also make the dressing ahead of time and then refrigerate it.
  • Spaghetti
    • This one's super easy. We usually have spaghetti with meat sauce. I make the sauce ahead of time (from scratch), using tomatoes I put up earlier in the summer and about half the meat (before it's been seasoned) from the chili-mac salad.
  • Bouef bourgignon
    • This one takes all day to make. Luckily, I have some in the freezer. Cheating? Maybe. But that's what freezer meals are for, right?

  • Creamy cajun shrimp pasta
    • This one's so quick, there's really not much prep work to do. I just cook some pasta, sear some shrimp in cajun seasoning, and saute roasted bell peppers with some onions, add some cream, and throw it all together.

Food News and Other Things

What a week. My home, Virginia, which typically takes the brunt of many hurricanes, was blissfully spared from this one. (My other home, Central Appalachia, got a blizzard that put a lot of people out of power and water, but the damage was nothing compared to New Jersey and New York.)  We were high and dry the whole time (in our new home, Utah), but we've watched this week's incredible scenes unfold just the same.

Please take the time to donate to the Red Cross. Always a good cause, always tax deductible, and right now  working around the clock to help people devastated by the storm. 

On a lighter note, some interesting things in the news this week:

Celiac might be influenced by the season of birth

My Happiness Project

I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin several weeks ago, and have been planning my own happiness project ever since. It's that kind of book - the kind that you can't put down, that gets you thinking, that's really worth a read.

What is a happiness project? Basically, it's reflecting on what makes you happy, joyful, anxious, and sad, then making concrete resolutions to make yourself more happy and less sad/mad/etc., then following through on those resolutions.  It sounds simple, but if you really want to see some big changes, it takes a lot of work. As Rubin repeats throughout the book, "Happiness doesn't always make you happy."

Comfort Food: Mac and Cheese

I usually try to eat healthy - you know, by eating fruits, veggies, limiting sugar, and all that. But sometimes, you need some good ol' comfort food like Grandma used to make for Sunday dinner. Macaroni and cheese is one of those things for me, and I always prided myself on my ability to whip up amazing macaroni and cheese from scratch.

Then I went gluten-free, and all of that went out the window. When you're living gluten-free, pasta is not pasta is not pasta. There are some types of noodles that work o.k. for some things, and some that work o.k. for others. There are stunningly few types of gluten-free pasta that are actually good. And even fewer that can stand up to boiling, then baking for thirty minutes in the oven. And even fewer that can handle being reheated as leftovers. Maybe I have unreasonable expectations, but I want those comfort food calories to be worth it!