Meatless Meals

Having grown up in a blue collar American family, meat is very much a part of my life. Pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Ham and cheese sandwich for lunch. Pork chops and mac and cheese for dinner. That is meat for three meals. It’s one of those things I never really thought about. How much meat I eat. Do I really need meat at three meals? No. Resoundingly no. Do I even need meat at two meals? No, but if you didn’t grow up in a vegetarian household (which I obviously did not) trying to come up with meals that don’t include meat is hard! Yet, this is exactly what I’m trying to do.

I only eat twice a day now because I’m following the 8 hour diet, so that’s one less meal with meat in it. Mainly because its one less meal, but lets not split hairs. But after taking Ethics last fall, and watching Food Inc. (which by the way, if you like food, I don’t suggest watching this video) I’ve decided I need to cut the meat back to once a day as often as I possibly can. I’m not always successful, but at least I’m trying?

I decided to check out Pinterest. Thank God for Pinterest. I looked up vegetarian meals and decided to start a meat free meals board. I tried one of the meals from the only thing I’ve pinned so far last night for supper. It turned out really good – after I made a few tweaks.

The meal I tried was One Pan Caprese Pasta from Yellow Bliss Road.

Yellow Bliss Road Caprese Pasta Dish

This is the picture from Yellow Bliss Road. If WordPress didn’t eat it. She takes pretty pictures. I did not take a picture of my food. I just ate it.

So here is her recipe. The changes I made are in pink.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion
  • 1 cup fresh asparagus cut up.
  • 2 1/2 cups dry pasta
  • 1/2 package of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 5 fresh whole basil leaves (I used dried basil because I was too lazy to go to a second store to find fresh basil.)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh, diced Mozzarella (about 8 oz)
  • 2 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • Chopped basil leaves for garnish (see the above note)

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat a 12 inch skillet or sauté pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft.
  2. Add dry cut asparagus, pasta, sliced tomatoes, fresh whole basil leaves, garlic, water, salt and pepper. Stir together to combine.
  3. Bring pasta mixture to a boil. Continue to cook pasta over medium heat, COVERED (because if you don’t the water evaporates much too quickly. I didn’t cover and I had to add an extra 1/2 cup of water 5 minutes in), stirring often, until pasta is cooked and the liquid is reduced; about ten minutes.
  4. Add halved grape tomatoes and Top evenly with mozzarella cubes and cover the pan so the cheese can melt.
  5. Sprinkle with Balsamic vinegar and chopped basil for garnish

This recipe was very tasty and SOOO filling. Trust me, I did not miss meat. And this was my second meat free meal yesterday. So go me! This recipe is really healthy too. According to Spark People’s Recipe Calculator there’s only 324 calories per serving, which I estimated to be about 1/4 of the recipe. Here’s the full break down.

Nutritional

The only change now if that I hope to have fresh basil on hand the next time I make it.

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Charlotte the Hoover

I’ve trained my dog to pick things up for me. It’s a great trick. I tap at something on the ground with my foot and she picks it up with her mouth and hands it to me. I originally started training her this trick as a form of punishment for tearing up a paper towel. My thought was, “Why should I have to pick that up? I’m not the one who chewed it up.” So, with clicker in one hand and a bunch of treats in the other, we began. She picked up the concept pretty quickly. Getting her to put it in the trash took a little more work. Half the time it landed on the ground next to the container.

I decided to expand this skill to include her toys. She only has about 15 billion of them because I’m an over indulgent pet owner. Just ask my husband. So, we worked on picking up our toys and putting them back in the basket. This one went a little rougher. She’d pick up a toy, put in the basket, take another toy out of the basket. And then another. And then she started dropping them in the trash can…I obviously failed to define the difference in receptacles. Okay. Better to have her hand them to me and I’d put them in the appropriate place.

This worked out great! We progressed from toys to stray socks, or things I dropped. I hardly ever have to bend down any more!

Well, because she’s Charlotte, she has a thing against stuffed animals being stuffed. Particularly if there is a squeaker in it. She’ll create a hole, remove the stuffing, remove the squeaker, remove more stuffing. I’ll rescue the toy, sew it back up and return it to her. Often she commits these murders in her crate, so I don’t see the stuffing at first because it’s not in my line of sight.

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Charlotte in the crate of shame.

Well, one morning last week, I’m sitting in my chair, having my morning coffee and here comes Charlotte with a big old piece of fluff in her mouth. She walks up to me and deposits it in my lap. My eyebrows go up and I say in a surprised voice “good girl!” and I give her a treat. She trots off and moments later, here she comes with another piece of fluff. So I give her another treat. And this continues until all the fluff is picked up.

Now, every morning, while I’m sitting in my chair, here comes Charlotte with a piece of trash. And yes, for every piece of trash she gets a treat. These are hardly big treats. I keep cat treats on hand and she gets one or two depending on the size of the piece of trash. But even this she seemed to figure out. Suddenly she’s picking up three and four pieces at a time and bringing them to me. Of course I reward her with more or bigger treats.

Here’s the truly funny part though. This morning she ran out of fluff and bits of paper to bring to me. So she brought me a feather that had escaped from my down blanket. Then she brought me a hairball one of the cats had hacked up. Now if I could only get her to sweep up all the fur she sheds I could stop cleaning all together!

Is it hypocondria if you’re applying it to your friends?

Ah, abnormal psyc. How do I love thee? With all your…abnormalities. Let me count the ways.

My instructor warned us at the beginning of class that by the end we’d want to diagnose everyone we know. He was also emphatic in explaining that this is a mistake because it takes years and years of clinical study before you’re ready to diagnose a patient. This hasn’t stopped me from making a list in the back of my notebook however of everyone I know who suffers from an abnormal condition. My mother has at least 2. No, I swear she does! I’ve already informed her of the the one. She was grateful to be able to put a name to it. Obviously, I’m on the right path.

But seriously, I should have taken these classes years ago. It’s a bit like going to therapy without someone asking “how does that makes you feel”. I will yell you anyway. I feel the best I have in years! This is most like the person I used to be before I got insecure. And all
for the low low cost of a college degree! I even confronted a woman in the parking lot the other day who stole my space. Then today I got on the phone with Comcast. I lost that battle, but the point was that I went into the battle in the first place. Self discovery truly is good for the soul.

I’m Regressing

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Do you know what the best thing about going back to school is? Eating like I’m 19 again. I swear the only time I come close to a balanced meal any more is when we go to a restaurant. I’m not proud of that, but this is a really great dinner!

I’m not the only one in school right now. My husband is too. He works 2 jobs plus takes 2 classes. That’s where he is right now. Class from 7 to 9:30, so I’m obviously on my own for dinner. Even if he wasn’t in class, though, I’d probably still be on my own. That’s because we’re still following the 8 hour diet and he prefers breakfast and lunch, while I prefer lunch and dinner. This has led to him eating fast food at every meal. I eat fast food or cafeteria food myself for lunch every day, but dinner is often more creative. We’re not really loosing weight, but we’re not gaining it either, and our stomachs have shrunk A TON.

Anyways, back to dinner. Left over Pizza Hut and chocolate chip ice cream. I’ve been hungry for ice cream despite the fact that it’s like 20* outside. And let’s face it, Pizza Hut taste  better the second day. Why is that? It’s really kind of bad when it’s freah, but day old? It’s ‘the bomb’.

Not that I may ever get to eat it. I may not have human children tugging at my sleeve for attention, but I have pets. One of whom did not take kindly to her meow mix and is depositing it in various room of my house. If you don’t own a cat then you can’t begin to understand how quickly you can drop everything at the sound of the first “ack ack ack” right before a hairball or hastily devoured dinner comes back up. You learn to move quickly because they never puke on a hard surface like linoleum. It’s always someplace soft – like your bed – and your trying to get to them before the spew comes up in hopes of moving them to a more appropriate puke zone. There is a very good reason my environmentally minded friends that paper towels will continue to be mass produced and bought and it’s called pets and children. As housemates they can both be kind of disgusting.

Oh well. Now my ice cream is looking like soup. Guess I get to drink it instead.

Self Taught Agility

In all my dog training research I ran across a number of videos describing how to teach your dog things like jumps and belly crawls. Well, without ever trying to teach her anything, I’ve witnessed Charlotte execute flawless jumps over an elevated board next to the driveway while in pursuit of a squirrel. Then tonight, without having ever been shown how, she belly crawled the length of the coffee table -under the coffee table – because she couldn’t get out any other way to chase the cat. Obviously, given the proper motivation, my dog will teach herself any number of difficult teicks. To bad the proper motivation seems to be a live animal that is smaller and quicker than her.

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The New Year is a Blank Slate?

So I started out trying to write something everyday because of a stupid quote on Facebook about each day being a blank page in the book of your life and it being up to you what goes on that page. Inspiring, right? I even joked that it sounded like a challenge. Well, that was where I went wrong. I’m not a particularly competitive person. Turns out you need to be if you’re going to accept a challenge. Otherwise, there is no drive to keep you going.

The quote wasn’t wrong, however. There is definitely a blank something in my life. Turns out it’s mind. Every time I try to come up with a creative idea, my mind goes blank. Which actually does result in a blank page.

Well there you are! I finally fulfilled a new years resolution. Just wasn’t quite what I had in mind.

So instead, maybe I’ll try the picture a day challenge. Is it possible to be so creativily blocked you can’t find a subject for a camera? Not in my house! I have pets and if the rest of the world fails to inspire me, I can always fall back on them. So, here’s a picture I took a couple days ago. I know it wasn’t today, but it’s since the new year so it totally counts. Oh geez. I’m already bending the rules. This will be a disaster! Anyway, without further ado, a frost fog picture from last Wednesday.

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