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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sometimes a week comes together

Rarely, if ever, am I organized.  My house is a mess, my suit is still at the dry cleaner when I need it, and I have absolutely no idea where my keys are, ever.   And, I'm terrible when it comes to meal planning (which is what led to the resurrection of this blog!)   I never know exactly what we are going to eat on any given night -- even though I try to have a few ideas together so I can go shopping for the upcoming week.   But last week was one of those rare gems when a week of cooking (using almost entirely things in the refrigerator, freezer or pantry) comes together.

The week before, on a whim, I bought a bag of eggplants at Costco.  That's right, four little fresh baby eggplants that I had to figure out how to cook.  I scoured Pinterest looking for recipes and ideas, only to decide that a simple ratatouille was the best option.  I also had peppers, onions and zucchini on hand to fill it out.  I did send Justin to the store for a baguette to complete the meal.  

We had about 1-1/2cups of leftovers, so the next day, I threw those in with a can of organic, unsalted roma tomatoes, and ended up with a delicious "special sauce."  I had two eggplants remaining which I turned into an eggplant parmigiana casserole which I served with just a bit of spaghetti.  I made extra spaghetti to send with the remaining special sauce in Oliver's thermos for lunches.  

Wednesday night I decided to try making pinto beans in the crock pot.   I used my handheld emulsifier to turn them into "refried" beans.   Next time I would add a few additional spices to kick it up a notch, but the method is definitely a keeper!   These weren't actually ready to eat on Wednesday, so it was a bit of a free for all.   But, Thursday we put those beans to good use with bean tacos and burritos.  We ate out Friday night, but ate leftovers on Saturday and there were still enough left over for a couple of lunches this week.

All in all, I love it when a lack of plan comes together!


  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 Tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/4 Tsp. Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes (quartered)
  • 1 Tsp. thyme
  • 1 red pepper, stems, seeds and pith removed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, same
  • 2 small  eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • Fresh basil leaves, cut 

Coat a large wide pan with olive oil. Add the onions, season with salt and crushed red pepper and bring the pan to a medium heat. Cook the onions until they are soft and very aromatic but have no color, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, 1/2 cup water, thyme and salt. Cook the tomatoes until they become very pulpy and have broken apart, 15 to 20 minutes.  Add the peppers and cook for 5 minutes. Add the eggplant, and zucchini, season with salt and cook until the squash is soft, 15 to 20 minutes.  Stir in the basil and taste to make sure the seasoning is correct. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Caffeine and Alcohol Withdrawal - with a Mocktail

So, I didn't blog last week.  I started to, but every time I wrote, it turned into a diatribe against the Supreme Court and the Right Wing White Male Establishment.   And, although, I feel incredibly strongly about that topic, and the second class citizenship of female Americans, I decided this wasn't the forum for that.   So, I just didn't write at all.

Then on Thursday, after a trip to the Doctor last week, this week's blog topic started writing itself!  My doctor proscribed a drug that I will need to take for a while, at least six months, that interacts negatively with caffeine and alcohol.

Caffeine can be re-introduced in small amounts depending on my personal reaction.  The effect is like that of combining pseudoephedrine and caffeine.   Now, I took those two drugs together a lot in college because, you know, who needs sleep when your 20?  But, this time the Doctor advised I cut the coffee and do it quick to start the drug.   So, I went cold turkey, or at least, almost cold turkey.  I've had a cup of decaf each morning because coffee is part of my morning ritual.  It does have traces of caffeine, -- but not enough to ward off the withdrawal effects.   The headaches were brutal!   And, the lethargy left me napping (which I don't normally do) in the afternoon Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  On the upside, Saturday afternoon, I re-discovered the Vanilla Ice Blended from Coffee Bean.  I was hoping that the trace of caffeine would help my withdraw headache.  It didn't.   But it was pure deliciousness and I will definitely be back for another one soon.  I think the worst is over - for now.   But, knowing I won't be able to reach for coffee or diet coke when I am feeling tired mid-afternoon is going to be tough!

Alcohol is out completely.  So I am on day four of no wine as well.  In preparation for this hiatus, I drank an entire bottle of champagne by myself on Thursday night.     Since then I avoided it.  Here are the times I wanted to drink something:  during fourth of July BBQ, after getting back from Grand Park via a crowded subway, Saturday afternoon hanging by the pool, Saturday night with dinner, Sunday night for no good reason.   Yep.   And, Oliver hasn't even been bad this weekend!   (Although, I have dealt with the stress of his allergic reaction to a bug bite today so one tonight would have been nice).   Now, I know I sound like an alcoholic, but I don't actually drink every day, although I do drink often.  I like a glass of wine with dinner and/or after Oliver goes to bed.  Giving up wine over a holiday weekend, though?   Maybe not my best idea.

So to get myself through my alcohol withdraw, I decided this was a good week to share a tasty mocktail!  It's super delicious.  This recipe makes two small drinks, but you might want to make more because the kiddos are going to want to drink this one up!   (Another downside to having to give up alcohol -- it was the only food or beverage that I didn't have to share!)


1/4 cup frozen pineapple
1 cup frozen mango
1 1/2 cup light coconut milk

Blend and serve!   I know what your thinking -- that's just a smoothie..... but not if you serve it in a fancy glass!