Monday, September 17, 2012

Meal Planning Mondays: my thoughts.

Do you ever feel like you're on an eternal stair master?
Climbing, climbing, climbing...
then more climbing.
And though technically you might be reaching higher places
you find yourself falling into bed at night thinking
each step feels the same
and it's so tiring
and you're not sure how far you're actually getting
you wonder if you're simply
retreating back to the same place every day
and beginning the same climb?

and you're really...really starting to just

When I feel like this I know it is time.
Time for a shake-up, a little reassessment and some major simplification.

Sometimes I think we humans can strive for good....soooooo much good...that we start drowning in the pursuit. And then...hmmm, I guess the good can become quite bad.

Nothing I'm engaged in is particularly awful or monstrously wasteful or unworthy of approval.
But there are days when I find myself barking too much at my children. I'm rigid and humorless to my husband. Tense with anxiety and to-do lists and schedules and all these ideas of what constitutes the "good life".
 I am like a snippy little biotch on a mission. 

I was struck with a few impressions this month:

My children will not care to remember how clean our tub was {or wasn't} , 
or whether the crackers they were fed were organic. 
They will not care about how perfectly coordinated their outfits were. 
They will not care about the craft we worked on that afternoon. 
They will not care about how old our furniture was
or what model car we drove.
They will not care if I finished the laundry by Monday 
or if they arrived to their gymnastics class on time. 

They will however, always remember whether they had a cheerful mother {or not}.
They will always remember if I treated them with kindness and patience {or not}.
They will always remember how well I loved and treated their Dad {or not}.

So with that in mind, 
I'm working on pursuing a little less
and smiling a little more.



Entree/Side/Dessert ideas that celebrate the last tastes of summer.

1. Entree

Sausage Pepper Polenta Bake

  • 5 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • medium yellow onion, halved lengthwise, then cut into thin wedges
  • medium yellow, red, or orange bell pepper, cut lengthwise into thin slices 
  • cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt, freshly ground black pepper, and red chile flakes
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage, sweet or spicy (or 1 lb. Italian sausage links removed from their casings) 
  • tubes (16 oz. each) prepared polenta, sliced into 1/2-in.-thick rounds
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, drained and sliced into 1/4-in.-thick rounds


  1. 1. Preheat broiler to high. Heat 3 tbsp. oil in a 2- to 3-qt. saucepan set over medium heat, then add tomatoes and oregano and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
  2. 2. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, heat 1 tbsp. oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, and chile flakes, and stir to combine. Cover pan, lower heat to medium, and cook until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add sausage, stirring and breaking it into small pieces with a wooden spoon as it firms up, about 5 minutes. Cover pan and cook until vegetables are tender and sausage is cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes more. Add tomato sauce and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. 3. While sauce is cooking, pour remaining 1 1/2 tbsp. oil into a 9- by 13-in. baking pan and tilt to coat bottom. Add polenta slices to pan and turn to coat with oil, then arrange slices lengthwise in 3 slightly overlapping rows. Broil polenta about 4 in. from heating element until golden brown and crispy, 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. 4. Pour sauce over broiled polenta, then arrange mozzarella slices over the top. Broil until cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Recipe adapted from Sunset Mag.

2. Feta and Watermelon, WHO KNEW?!! It's delicious!

Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint

  • 1 (5-pound) watermelon
  • 1 Vidalia or other sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil ( i use 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 6 whole mint sprigs


Cut the flesh from the melon and cut into bite size pieces, removing and discarding the seeds, and set aside. Peel and slice the onion into rings.
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, salt, pepper, and whisk until salt is dissolved. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, a few drops at a time. Add in the chopped mint, taste, and adjust seasonings.
In a large bowl, combine the melon, onion, and feta. Pour the dressing over the melon mixture and toss gently until everything is coated and evenly mixed. Garnish with mint sprigs.

Recipe adapted from Paula Deen.


3. Simple and special.

Ever tried Panna Cotta? 
It's an eggless custard, or as I like to say a really fancy way to name cream Jello.
It's delicious, it's simple, and is sooo good in warm summer months with fresh raspberries, or peaches, or kiwis, or strawberries, or blueberries, or anything your little heart desires thrown in.

Raspberry Panna Cotta.

  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
2 pints raspberries , one to go in the panna cotta and another set aside for garnish sauce

In a saucepan gently heat the cream. Add the sugar and gelatin. Once dissolved add vanilla. Bring the cream to a simmer infusing the flavors for about 10 minutes. Once it thickens pour mixture into 6 ramekins filled with a small handful of berries. Place ramekins onto a tray and then put in the refrigerator to chill and set about 6 hours or overnight. Serve with raspberry coulis and top with a fresh raspberry.
For raspberry coulis
In a food processor puree raspberries. Over a bowl strain puree into a sieve using a rubber spatula discard seeds. Top your chilled panna cotta and serve!

Recipe adapted from Food Network.


Joan said...

Would it be lame if I just said, "AMEN!?"
I need to tell myself these things It is so against my nature to stop caring so much about my list and start caring more about sweet, simple moments.
I know I will regret not doing this more and so thank you, thank you for the much needed reminder.
You are a wise friend.

Jentch said...

Hello Hello Hello. Rachel its me Jentry!!!! K for longest time I thought you never updated your blog for some reason whenever I clicked on link same old post pulled up. I then all the sudden it updates and holy cow!!! You have FOUR GIRLS. K I am living in Carson City now and we have to get together....especially with all our girls. Email me