Wednesday, September 29, 2010

.breaking my fear of routine.

For those of you who do not know me, I am not the type of person that thrives with a plan, a schedule or a routine. I am by nature a free spirit who enjoys flying by the seat of my pants, and going wherever the wind takes me. Because of this I have a hard time committing to pre-arranged events or social activities, nor do I begin my day with a 'plan of action' which sometimes means I don't get as much done as I could. There are times that I wish I had more "type A" in me so I could be more responsible, organized and productive... but for the most part I really enjoy the fact that I always have time to talk longer, sleep later, smell the roses, and find joy in the unexpected adventures of the day.
With that said, I am about to commit to a month long routine that I am looking forward to but at the same time fearing a little bit. I actually have been following this "plan" if you will, for the past 2 days (which is an accomplishment in itself), but I did not want to post about it until I was certain that I was going to commit to it! ha! Even writing this I am feeling anxiety creep up in me as I formally put in black and white that I am tied down, I mean, joyfully committed to a month long meal plan starting this week. The plan: Your Four Week Dinner Plan from Real Simple Magazine.

This plan consists of 5 meals per week, each designated to a specific night of the week. These meals vary from vegetarian, to fish, to gourmet, to burgers and chips... a little bit of everything. They have unique, but not obscure ingredients and most of them require 45 minutes or less total time. Most of the meals range from 350 - 650 calories per serving size and so far the recipes have made more than enough food to feed 4 people. I have been cutting the recipes down for two unless we are having people over, and it's been pretty simple to modify. The magazine even gives you a shopping list for each week, and the recipes having you cooking the most perishable things first so no food is going to waste. Staying true to their name, Real Simple has really made a simple, dummy proof plan to good food, and new recipes!

Why you ask might I commit to this plan when I reject so many other life plans or routines? Well, I LOVE to cook! Not bake, COOK! So, committing to a plan of new and tasty recipes where I get to be creative and spend time cooking seemed like a great way to break my fear of routines. Also, I've been in a food rut lately as it is hard to figure out what to cook every night, well this plan figures it out for me... which I surprisingly love. I mean, we'll see if this lasts, but I am really prideful so if it is on my blog I will probably be forced to see this through because of my competitive drive, especially when competing against myself.

All of that to say, every day I will be posting about the meal from the night before. I will give my overall opinion on taste, ease, uniqueness and presentation of the dishes. I will also share Casper's opinion as he and I definitely differ when it comes to certain foods. Each post will include a link to the recipe, a picture of the dish from each night, the calorie count and any tips for making the dish for yourself! Although I will continue to blog about other topics, this series will be a daily installment for the next month.

DISCLAIMER: There are a couple recipes that we will not be doing because of the ingredients. Casper and I CANNOT handle spicy food AT ALL, so there is no point in make recipes where the main point is to enjoy the spice... so we're skipping those and probably having cereal for dinner those nights! :)

.night one. (since I am just now committing to this endeavor)

Roasted Tilapia, Potatoes, and Lemons (click on title for recipe)

Calorie Count per serving: 374 Calories
Taste: Excellent
Ease: Very
Uniqueness: Moderate
Presentation: Moderate (my picture makes it look bad)
Casper's Vote: Amazing!

This recipe was a great way to start the meal plan. I LOVE Tilapia, baby redskins, and lemons. They truly are three of my favorite foods to eat or cook with. The meal turned out amazing, and both Casper and I agreed that it had unique and strong flavor without requiring any obscure ingredients. If you're a lemon lover like myself, this is the dish for you. Roasting the lemons takes away their bite, but keeps the fresh citrus-ness of them (that's not a word, but it fits!). My only suggestion of veering from following the recipe to a "T" would be to boil the redskins until the soften just a little bit, then cut them in half and then follow the recipe from there. This helps the potatoes to roast on the outside but keep a softer texture on the inside. And if you like tougher potatoes, then just follow the recipe and ignore my advice! ENJOY!

.night two.

Penne with Tomatoes, Eggplant, and Mozzarella

Calorie Count per serving: 533 Calories
Taste: Good
Ease: Very
Uniqueness: Very
Presentation: not so cute (my picture makes it look better)
My Vote: Surprisingly Great!
Casper's Vote: Good but not great.

I am not big on making pasta because normally it just feels like empty calories and too many carbs, but this recipe included eggplant and cherry tomatoes in substitution of a sauce, so I was intrigued. It was easy to make, and it made our house smell amazing. The most interesting part about this one is that you sprinkle fresh mint on top of everything when your done which makes all the other flavors pop! I loved that after I ate this I didn't feel heavy like I normally do after pasta; it's tasty and a unique combination of ingredients in a pasta dish. My suggestion for this recipe is to cut the fresh mozzarella up into smaller pieces than the half inch that the recipe recommends. I say this because the large clumps of mozzarella really stuck together as they melted and it made mixing the ingredients with the pasta a little difficult. Other than that, it was wonderful!


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