turkey stew

It took me 12 minutes to get home from work yesterday, and an extra three to change out of my work clothes, wrap myself in a blanket and turn on Gilmore Girls. I allowed myself this leisure because I had gotten up at 5:45 that morning and sleepily went to the gym (which was surprisingly not packed), showered and got dressed and was early for work. The day before I made this turkey stew, so dinner was already prepared = winning. And then today I ignored my alarm and overslept by an hour and half, just making it to work on time.

Balance?

Moving on. Its finally cold here so I feel more justified eating soups and stews, something we eat all the time anyway, but they add a level of comfort to our old and drafty house that is much needed in the colder temps.

Also, did you really make it if you didn’t take a picture of it? Because that’s what happened here. I made a stew and didn’t awkwardly and artfully pose pictures of it for you. But it happened, I promise, and it was really great, and even better the second day. You can substitute the turkey with any meat here, or even use lentils or beans and vegetable broth to make it vegetarian. Its the perfect soup to help you stick to your new years healthy resolutions, especially on days where you get “extra” sleep and forego the gym.

Turkey Stew
serves 6-8

1 pound ground turkey
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
4 large carrots, scrubbed and chopped small
5-6 celery sticks, tops removed, scrubbed and chopped small
6 ounce can of tomato paste
4 cups (more or less) chicken stock
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Goat cheese, to serve
Chips or crusty bread, to serve

In a medium pan, brown the turkey until cooked through, set aside.

In a medium soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, and cook till translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the carrots, then the celery, as you chop them. Cover and cook for another 10 or so minutes, until the carrots are tender/can be pierced with a fork. Add the vinegar, salt and pepper and spices, cook for 1 minute more.

Add the stock (you can also add the turkey, but see the next step first), let simmer for about 20 minutes. At this point, I used my immersion blender to pulse the vegetables, leaving a few chunky pieces, because I like my stews a little smoother and not just chunks of vegetables. Feel free to skip this step. Add the turkey, let simmer for another 15-20 minutes. Its ready to eat now, but the longer it simmers the better the flavors will be. Its even better the next day. Serve garnished with goat cheese and crusty bread or tortilla chips. Enjoy!

labor day weekend / vegetable soup that’s actually good

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This past Labor Day weekend was long and really comfortable. I spent a couple of days with my college girlfriends at the beach. We ate and drank and laid on the sand. There was a baby in our midst and two more on the way. I could almost feel the change in the air: new life, (literally) new people, jobs and careers and locations were all ending and starting between the 10 of us. Even our conversations felt different, we talked about politics and being pregnant and giving birth and buying houses, all kinds of heavy, adult themes that weren’t even considered almost a decade ago when we first met, when our conversations were filled with boys, food, clothes, occasionally school, and whatever else undergrads talk about. I forget, it was so long ago.

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After college when we all got married and transitioned into careers and churches and awkward, quarter life crises that some of us (or maybe just me) are still going through, we met new people and had new relationships that felt awkward and strained at best. Being back with the people who really know me, friends who need no explanation, who were at and in my wedding, and saw me really grow up, felt like a breath of fresh air. Which it literally was, since we were at the beach. Despite all of our personal changes, it was incredibly refreshing to be with people whose friendship with me hasn’t changed.

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cauliflower is not bread / kind of a salad / turkey meatballs

dinner in a bowl : kind of a salad

dinner in a bowl : kind of a salad

There is a genera of people out there who like to substitute cauliflower for certain grains and bread products. Chop cauliflower small enough and pretend its rice or pasta! (it’s not) Or, an even worse travesty, mashing up cauliflower for baking and pretending it’s a pizza crust.

What?! If you have experienced the vast internet expanse that is Pinterest at all or have ever journeyed into the dark land of The Paleo Diet, you have probably been exposed to cauliflower pizza crust. You know what I call cauliflower topped with tomatoes and cheese? A salad. If you’re trying to find ways to cut calories, ok. If you want a salad, eat a salad. But if you want pizza, EAT A DANG PIZZA. Please, don’t mess with the perfection that is a toasty, chewy, delicious yeasted crust and pretend that cauliflower can replace it. It can’t. There is no such thing as ‘diet pizza’. Some things are sacred. Stop trying.
I’m done soapboxing. For now.

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homemade granola

nuts and oats

nuts and oats

At 8:53 last night I started putting together this granola, and by 9:04 it was in the oven. I love this recipe is because it’s so quick: stir, spread, bake. It makes your house smell like cinnamon and nutmeg which reminds me of cooler temps and what it’s like to not melt into a puddle of heat anger every time I walk outside. In case nobody noticed, it was almost cool outside this morning, which means fall is coming and I wont feel like murdering someone every time I leave the house because of how oppressively hot it is, and maybe I’ll stop looking up jobs and houses in colder states.

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weekly menu / prepping

I like a plan. An agenda. A schedule. A timetable. All of these words make me happy. Basically, I feel that way because I like to be in control. I like to know what’s going to happen. I want to know what to plan for and what kind of wardrobe I’m going to need. When I travel, I like to research the restaurants and activities beforehand, to make sure we eat at the most delicious places and see all the cool stuff. I like to know where I’m going, who I’m going with, what time we’re leaving, and oh, you have an itinerary? You shouldn’t have! Welcome to my happy place. Take my schedule away: what’s going on?!? What kind of unit you running around here!?

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Margo’s agenda: take naps.

It’s cool guys, I’m getting help.

I realize that all aspects of life cannot be planned. I haven’t found those aspects yet, but I’m sure they exist. JK guys. Again, I’m getting help. In all reality though, something that we strive to plan for at our house are the meals. This means we can stick to a mostly balanced meal plan and not spend thousands of dollars on take out. Usually on Saturday or Sunday we talk about what we want to eat and look at how much money we have. I make a menu on an index card and then a list of ingredients. And then Aaron does! the! shopping! I’m not sure how I tricked him into going to two different grocery stores and sometimes the farmers market for me, but it works. I still get to choose what we eat and plan the menu, and he gets to exercise some “control” over how much money we spend on food. The love potion I brew must be strong.

Here is what we’re eating this week:

Monday: Spaghetti with meat sauce
Tuesday: Green salads with shredded grilled chicken, croutons, boiled eggs, vinaigrette
Wednesday: Turkey Stew and focaccia
Thursday: Turkey Stew leftovers / Grilled Tuna Salad Sandwiches
Friday: Greek Nachos
Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday are gluten free and have options to be dairy free. If you’re into that.

How to prep for this:
Boil your eggs.
If your meat is frozen, make sure it’s thawed and then brown your beef (spaghetti) and grill your chicken (salads)
Make croutons
Chop veggies for stew
Make mayo for tuna salad
Bake focaccia bread for sandwiches/to serve with stew

Our grocery budget for all this was right at $100 and that includes several things like peanut butter, milk, coffee, granola bars, raisins, etc. that aren’t a part of this list. Meal planning can be hard but it’s definitely worth the time and effort: you know what you’re eating and it helps you stick to a budget. It takes a while to get the hang of it, but honestly, we eat the same things all the time in a rotation. If you have a few meals/recipes that you don’t mind eating frequently, you can use those and it’s not much work to get the hang of things.

You got this!

what we eat this week / if all goes according to plan

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monday’s dinner in bad light

Short, and to the point. Here is what our food life looks like this week, for people who might need some menu inspiration:

Monday: Kale, Quinoa and Chicken Bowls (sautéed kale and garlic, tossed with olive oil, shredded grilled chicken and cooked quinoa, top with hot sauce and parmesan cheese)
Tuesday: Tuna salad + green salads
Wednesday: Cheap and Fancy Mac and Cheese
Thursday: Balsamic glazed chicken and roasted carrots
Friday: Roasted Garlic and Coconut Soup with Focaccia bread (Does anybody know about that coconut soup at Surin of Thailand? This is my attempt to re-create. I’ll let you know how it goes!)
For interested parties, we spent less that $90.00 on food for this week, so file this under budget! Also, M, T, Th meals are gluten free, T&Th are also dairy free. Leave out the cheese and so is Monday.)

How to prep for this (I usually prep on Sundays):

Grill your chicken. I grill mine in olive oil with salt and pepper.
Cook your quinoa. Quinoa cooks just like rice. I use 2 cups of water, 1 cup of quinoa, splash of olive oil and salt.
Make your mayonnaise and then assemble your tuna salad: I add a few spoonful’s of mayo, a little mustard, some pickle relish, and a grated boiled egg
Make sure your salad greens are washed and sorted.
Make your salad dressing. I find a basic combo of olive oil, vinegars and mustard to be a good start. But honestly, we buy lots of this.
Chop the broccoli and carrots for use later this week

The rest I’ll do the day we eat it, but that’s a really good head start if you’re looking to save some time. I work until 5 every day but Friday, so it’s nice to have a few things done so I don’t spend allllll my free time in the kitchen. Cause, you know, gotta live life!

focaccia bread! recipe coming soon!

focaccia bread! recipe coming soon!

mango chicken curry

A lot has changed since I originally published this over 2 years ago. While I appreciate the perspective that this gave me, I do not feel comfortable promoting Whole30 or diet culture. I’m leaving this post because its part of my journey and shows how far I’ve come, which is why I’m not taking the post down. If you would like to discuss more of these thoughts with me, feel free to reach out! Also, this is a really yummy curry recipe, regardless of its origins.

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Recipe at the bottom!

Food: we all need it. It’s one of the needs that all humans have in common. It can bring people together in fellowship, be the centerpiece of a holiday gathering, and sustain the soul and body. Depending on what you eat, it can nourish and heal your body, or slowly poison it. I love food! (hello captain obvious) I love the smells, textures, and tastes. I love the preparation and the fascinating way that what you eat can change you, for the better or worse. Our appetites can be complicated and full of emotion, so it’s an area to tread carefully in. I believe in a balanced diet, but I know that means different things for different people. For me, it means we eat lots of fresh produce, meats, dairy and protein, as well as grains and legumes. I also think that balance does not mean restriction or deprivation, but moderation. I understand that some people feel differently about this, and that’s great! This is me. Because I believe in balance and moderation, I’m super hesitant to jump on paleo/whole30/newest diet bandwagons. Everybody’s body and life and schedules are different, and people need different things. But ultimately, I think everyone needs an eating lifestyle that includes as many fruits and vegetables and happy meats, dairy and proteins as possible, and (this is super important to me) it needs to be enjoyed and savored. Since when does this kind of eating need to labeled and branded? Food for thought. (puns. ugh sorry)

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