Pizza and wine night with crazy good caramelized onions

Pizza and wine night with crazy good caramelized onions

Friday was screaming to be pizza and wine night and that’s exactly what it became. I decided to get fancy and caramelize some onions to put on the pizza and oh-em-gee they were good! I usually prefer fresh veggies on my pizza but the caramlized onions with the hot Italian sausage was so effing good.

Oh yeah and that’s Addie in the background like a ghost trying to get a taste. Crazy dog.

For the caramelized onions, all you do is thinly slice a ton of onions. I used two whole onions and by the time they were done, I had enough for half a pizza. Put some oil down in the pan, put the thinly sliced onions in the pan, put the heat on medium low, and wait. After about 30 minutes you will find caramelized onion goodness.

Seriously Mentally Ill adults need Thanksgiving, too

ImageI work at an outpatient clinic for seriously mentally ill adults (SMI) and today was our annual Thanksgiving lunch for our clients. On this day more than any other day, I felt proud to be a part of this organization. Today was yet another example of how to show people love with food.

There were about 15 turkeys cooked, about 10 trays of stuffing, crock pots full of mashed potatoes, green beans, ham, gravy, bread, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Everything was donated and prepared by staff such as myself. It was a group effort, totally organized, and a huge success! About 100 of our clients and their family members were in attendance.

For some, today was the only Thanksgiving they were going to have. Some people have no family to spend the holiday with. Some people have a very limited income and food stamps making Thanksgiving dinner almost impossible. Others just came to get a free meal and socialize which is sometimes really difficult for people with Agoraphobia or Schizophrenia- Paranoid type. For some people who came, the food we provided may be the only meal they will have today.

When I hear some of my clients’ stories about the daily struggle with symptoms, medications, putting food on the table, of being homeless, of being abused, I have a whole new perspective on what I am grateful for. I am grateful for having life’s basic necessities at my fingertips – heat, electricity, clean running water, and a stable home. I am grateful for my car and the money I have to keep it gas in the tank. I am grateful to be able to go to the store whenever I want to buy food. I am grateful to have healthy relationships and a loving family. I am grateful that I am healthy. I am grateful for a job. I am grateful to have the opportunity to help people lead happier lives.

I have a lot to be grateful for and I only hope that my SMI clients know how much I care. Tomorrow is the big day and I plan on cherishing the time I am going to spend with my family that I am so grateful for.

I encourage everyone to take a moment to recognize something that you are grateful for. There is so much that we take for granted that lots of people just don’t have. These people may be all around you without you knowing it – at the grocery store, at the bank, at the movie theatre, or at the bus stop.

Smile, and give thanks.

 

8 Day Challenge – DONE

I was able to get by with only $20 for food for the last eight days. I barely scraped by but I did it! I was able to use up the food that I already had and actually came up with some tasty meals. I just had to invest some time and creativity.

I learned a few things about my eating and food-buying habits while I was trying to empty out my fridge. Here are a few things that I learned:

1.) I waste a lot of food.

I was almost embarrassed at how much food I ended up throwing away. I had almost a full container of tofu that went bad because it was in the back of my fridge and I forgot about it. I had only used one serving of it for a tofu scramble one day. I also threw away some lettuce that had just gotten too old as well as some snap peas that were a little too brown. All things that I could have used in a meal, I had let go bad and therefore damned them to the compost pile. Sad.

2.) I don’t plan my meals as good as I thought I did.

I love to plan my meals to keep track of my calories and nutrition. I have not been good at planning to minimize waste. A lot of food I had that I did not end up using where items that I bought because I thought I would use them. This past week I got to see the foods that I do tend to reach for on a daily to every-other-day basis. Some of the items I utilized the most where tortillas, black forest ham slices, earth balance, pasta, rice, frozen peas, olives and apples. My organic eggs did not get eaten. Also I surprised myself that a lot of the lettuce that I thought I would use for salad, I did not eat. I learned that if I am going to plan my meals and shopping to minimize waste and to be cost effective, it is going to have to be around the foods I actually eat.

3.) I need to freeze leftovers more often.

I found myself often referring to the freezer for help/inspiration and just about cleaned it out in the process. All I have in there now is some vodka, Greek frozen yogurt, my flour and sugar (we had really bad ants this summer), walnuts, and my chipotle ice cubes (see my post about this). This tells me, I really should utilize the freezer more often. With this new realization, I plan on cooking more beans, more rice, and more pasta dishes and then freezing them for later use.

Last night, since I had some money left over, I splurged and bought all the ingredients for a spaghetti and meatballs dinner including the garlic bread. I was craving it, and it was delicious.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I am not going to plan this week’s meals. I am however going to empty out my entire refrigerator tonight, clean it, and take an inventory. I want to make room for all the leftovers plus I want to start out fresh for next week.

I am a huge fan of composting but at this rate I am going to have more rotten food than soil in my bin. I would love to know what you do to save money on food and minimize food waste.

8-Day $20 Challenge

Image I have over spent my budget on food this month and now I have 8 more days in my credit card billing cycle and only $20 left for food. Do you think it will last? I have some food in my pantry and refrigerator but I am going to have to get really creative. I need to  plan on breakfast for one (me), dinner for two, and lunches for just me. On the weekend, though, I’m not sure how that is going pan out.

I’m at work thinking about what I am going to make for dinner and stressing out a little bit. I do have plenty of rice in the pantry, also a half a box of pasta, some canned beans, tortillas, and dried lentils. I have some tomatoes and romaine lettuce that I bought yesterday. I also bought apples, oranges, and bananas yesterday. I have plenty of condiments and spices, too. As I list what I do have, I realize that there are options there.

Today is day one of the 8-day challenge. I know I will not need to go to the store to buy anything today but I don’t know what will happen in three days.

I have been following some really great blogs about cooking on a budget. I am going to explore and search recipes! Also, if you have any tips please feel free to share them. I thank you in advance!

Let the challenge begin!

Transparency

Before I can post anything else, I feel the need to be completely transparent with myself and whoever might be reading this. I have made no progress in trying to get back in shape. I have gone running once in the past month. My weight continues to fluctuate and I continue to hate shopping for clothes because I am so frustrated with how my body looks now. I have only myself to blame to because I just simply have not put in the effort and I have no excuse. I am such a planner and have great plans but my problem is following through. All I can do is take it one day at a time and blah blah blah…. doesn’t mean anything if I’m not doing a thing about it!

OK. That’s enough ranting. I continue to love my food and drink and that is just a fact of my life. I am on the journey to find a balance because soon I will be starting grad school classes again and I really have to have my routine down by then. Thanks for reading. I feel better already.

The following is my post that never got posted to due technical difficulties on Tuesday:

Oh blog.. I have missed you and am so sorry I have neglected you for this long. Blog friends, I have missed you, too!

First things first, I have to provide an update on the weight-loss thing. I succeeded in losing two pounds last week and noticed a visible difference in my abdomen area looking flatter. Then…. Friday happened. Friday, our team at work had a team lunch and we ordered in pizza. It would have been OK if I just stuck to one slice of cheese pizza but I had two… and a garlic knot…and a small cup of Pepsi… and a sugar cookie. Ugh! I was keeping track of what I ate on my calorie counter website and realized that if I was going to eat anything for dinner, I would have to go for a run right after work.

So that is precisely what I did. As soon as I got home, I changed my clothes and laced up my sneakers and went out for a nice run for about 30 minutes. When I came back, my boyfriend and I decided to go out for some appetizers and drinks. I thought that was perfect because with appetizers I could really control my portions. Well, my boyfriend decided to completly wine and dine me! Like the title of my blog indicates, one of the ways I receive love from others is through food and so he was showing me some major love! We had oysters, salads, entrees, drinks, bread, and ended the meal with Bailey’s. It was sooooo good! While I made good choices as far as what I ate such as spinach salad and grilled trout for the entree, when I tallied up the calories… welp, let’s just say I was 800 over my goal for the day and that is including the calories I burned from running.Yikes!

I ended gaining 4 pounds from that meal. (Sad face) I spent the whole rest of the weekend and up to today trying to lose that wieght again. I feel like I have made no progress at all and quite frankly this has been the cycle every week for months! The madness has got to stop! I have to have a plan for the weekend ready to go. Not sure what the exact plan is going to be at this point but I am working on it. Maybe having friends for drinks and a low cal vegan meal? Do some pumpkin carving and have some healthy snacks?

Going on a run tonight and hoping to blast mucho calories. Wish me luck!

I’m back!

It was a long week last week but ended on a high note of my official acceptance letter to an MSW program. I celebrated by having wine and pizza with my friends. I really enjoyed showing my friend Monica how to make pizza dough and bake a pizza from scratch. It was her first time and when she ate her creation said, “I am never buying a ready made pizza again! This is delicious and was so easy to make!” It was the best compliment ever. I think if I had a choice and money was not an issue, cooking and blogging would be what I would do all day every day. I would do cooking classes out of my house and have dinner parties every week. Unfortunately, money is an issue and so I chose the wonderful world of social work for a career. Thank goodness for blogging so I can share my love for food with whoever wants to receive it. 

I am catching up big time on all my food adventures from the last week. I have some really great photos to share and some yummy food to show you. Love, me.

Saturday Brunch

Image There is something about the smell of coffee brewing, salty potatoes, smokey sausage, and toasted bread the screams brunch! It means no alarm clocks, just sleeping in and getting up to make a fabulous breakfast in your pajamas. This breakfast serves as lunch, too, because it is close enough to noon to serve a dual purpose.

On this sunny Tucson Saturday, I have a craving for scrambled eggs and crispy, salty potatoes. Also on this day, I feel like trying my hand at french toast. I discovered a cool trick on my handy dandy mandolin and added a secret ingredient to the french toast that made the a little ‘drunk.’

Farmers Market Sunday

I just LOVE a farmers market. I love local farming and the pride the farmers have in their product. I love the colors, the sounds, the fresh prickly pear lemonade, and the all the people buy food, who are supporting local farming. I would love to see a shift away from big box grocery stores to more farmers markets some day – it’s better on the environment, it supports local economy, and provides fresher more nutrient dense food. Many of these farmers literally picked their products for the market this morning. Amazing.