Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Meal Planning

As is probably abundantly evidently at this point, I'm something of an organizer. I like my home neat, I don't like not knowing, and it's only through spending so much time with my ridiculously wonderfully social husband that I've grown to be remotely accepting of spontaneity.

Don't get me wrong--I love a good adventure. But it takes me a few minutes to adjust to sudden changes in plans.

There's a reason kiddos with autistic tendencies hold my heart. I get 'em.

Anyway, one of the small ways I exert control over my surroundings and keep from my evenings being totally stressful is to meal plan.

I'm a pretty flexible meal-planner. I make a list every week of 4-5 meals, and that's what I shop for. I always have some extra chicken, pasta, red sauce, etc for quick and easy dinners, but my Menu contains all my "goal" meals. I don't plan specific meals for specific nights, but I account for any evening plans and go from there.

This also helps me with my grocery shopping, since I know what meals to buy for. It keeps me on track, and ensures that I have everything on hand. Cuts down on those midweek trips to the store, which I hate not because I spend extra money (I'm actually pretty boss at getting in and out of the store without lots of extras) but because I hate running errands when I really want to be sitting on my couch watching 30 Rock.

Yeah, Tina Fey (My other girl crush).

For instance, this week we attended a fundraiser dinner at Chik-fil-A, and we have a neighborhood dinner on Wednesday, so I only planned three meals for this week: roast chicken with wild rice and spinach, pesto salmon with sweet potato and green beans, and spaghetti with meat sauce.

FYI, I try to keep salad and other veggies on hand to bulk up any meal that needs a boost.

Some of our other favorite meals include:
chicken parmesan
pad thai
roast chicken (whole chickens, or just thighs)
quesadillas with the chicken leftover from the roast
tacos (any kind--shrimp, chicken, beef)
grilled chicken with salad (oh so many variations on this one)
sweet potato soup (with sandwiches, of course)
confetti chicken
breakfast for dinner (brinner)
ritz chicken

What are your favorite (quick and easy or otherwise!) dinners to make? Do you plan ahead or wing it?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Linking You Up

I know, this may be the fourth or fifth time I've sent you to Jen Hatmaker's blog, but she just speaks to me so well.

In this post, she talks about being uninvited to speak at a conference because of her particular leanings on certain topics. Her honesty about doubt. Her transparency regarding her sins. Her position on drinking. (! Are we really still hung up on this?!)

Anyway, I love this post because it's about me. About my generation. About the oncoming slew of young adults who love Jesus, but aren't sure what to think about gay marriage. College&Careers who are pushing to find the balance between an intellectual, thoughtful faith and love that is lived out in service, day by day. Kids who refuse the dogma, the denomination, and long for acceptance.

These are my people. And I say, hallelujah for a woman like Jen who will "gather us" to herself and help us on the way. We need people, we need mamas and fathers and brothers and sisters and children of our own, if we really want to transform this world into a place where the Kingdom of God can be recognized.

Friday, April 12, 2013

How Media is a Powerful Tool

Today I read one of the most bone-chilling, mind-boggling, horrifying stories of my life.

I'm part of a minority trying to bring this story to the light.

This story is the story of Kermit Gosnell, a medical practitioner from my very own Philadelphia. Gosnell ran the Women's Medical Society, a fake clinic that treated women, mostly non-white women of low socioeconomic status. He offered illegal drug prescriptions, as well as abortions.

Full disclosure: I'm pro-life. Simply on a scientific basis, I think that once you can detect a pregnancy, it's a human life and deserves to be protected. I also understand that abortion is a many-faceted topic, and saying "just outlaw it!" glosses over so many issues, and an answer that simplistic will never suffice. We live in a broken system, and many things need to happen in regards to education, prevention, and healthcare before we can really deal effectively with abortion laws.

All that aside, nobody should be able to read Gosnell's story without shuddering. The language is graphic, with details about how this man (and his largely untrained staff) murdered babies aborted at 30 weeks, punctured the organs of the women he treated, and even killed some of his patients. It will (and should) turn your stomach.

And remarkably few people are aware.

This is just as gruesome and horrific as stories like Sandy Hook, Trayvon Martin, and so many other tales of gore and violence. Our media eats this stuff up. Why is no one talking about this? No matter where you stand on abortions, we should all be able to agree that cases like Gosnell should never ever happen. We can use this to dialogue about pro-choice/pro-life laws, we can use this as a jumping-off point to reform and improve women's healthcare, we can take this platform to make sure that medical procedures regulated for the health and safety of everyone.

Help me spread this story. We cannot allow horrors and injustices like this to go unnoticed.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A New Dinner

I've gotten busy really quickly after returning to school, and we have Open House this week, so I'm spending most of my time trying to accomplish all my tasks for home and school. I'll have some shots of my decorated classroom for you guys later this week.

In the meantime, I threw together a dinner last night that was surprisingly delicious, and I wanted to share it!

It took about 20 minutes start to finish, which is my favorite kind.

On Saturday, we made these tilapia tacos (and my "we," I mean me and my best gal Liz, queen of delicious healthy meals).

Photo by FitnessMagazine.com

They were very tasty, but we had some leftover fish. I'd pan-fried the tilapia in chili powder, salt and pepper, and I had dreams of some kind of creamy sauce with the shredded fish over pasta dancing in my head.

Two days and 20 minutes later, I had this delightful concoction.

I adapted a spicy cream sauce recipe from a favorite dish, Confetti Chicken. I shredded the tilapia and tossed it into the sauce at the last minute so it warmed through, and served it over whole-wheat pasta with sauteed spinach.

Here's my adapted cream sauce recipe:

2 tbsp butter
2 1/2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk (I use 1%)
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup parmesan
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour. Whisk until combined, and cook for 1-2 minutes. Pour in the milk and half-and-half and whisk until combined.  Let it simmer for another minute or two, then add the cheese, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir until melty and fragrant.

This is where I shredded the fish and added it to the sauce. It added some nice texture, along with protein, but the fishy flavor was pretty minimal. I had about one filet of tilapia.

Dan was actually pretty enthusiastic about this dinner. It had a nice spicy kick, without being overwhelming. Quick, easy, and delicious!

What's your favorite thing to make when you're strapped for time or energy?