Wannabe Martha

Still trying to figure out which Martha

Reality Based Menu – Vacation Edition – Week 3

Yes, I know it’s Thursday, but I’ve been super-busy and then tired at night, so no posting until now.

Le Menu

  • Monday – Roasted Chicken Thighs, Green Beans, Rice (for those who eat it), baked potato (me)
  • Tuesday – Pork Tenderloin, Avocado & Grapefruit Salad (I don’t particularly like avocado’s texture, but this was a delicious salad; I had it for lunch the next day with extra grapefruit and some shaved almonds and baby spinach – total yumfest)
  • Wednesday – Steak Bites, Crash Potatoes, Spinach Salad, Crash Potatoes
  • Thursday – Leftovers…..many many leftovers
  • Friday – Beefy Loaded Baked Potatoes, maybe spaghetti squash, probably some kind of salad.
  • Weekend – Not sure and no sense planning for it.

It’s going to be a ridiculously busy weekend and frankly, I’m not looking all that forward to it.  One of my goals is to have an actual day off – you know, not work (no housework, no work-work), just a day to do things I love to do – mess around in my garden, go to the beach, read.  No laundry.  No grocery shopping.  I’m aiming for Sundays, because I rather need that bit of downtime to get myself mentally prepared for Monday – Friday.  Saturday is just another extension of M-F, only that’s house/family related.  So Sunday has to be Downtimeday.  Except it won’t be this weekend.  Le Sigh.

I know you just dying to know how my dietary vacation is progressing.  It’s fabulous, dontcha know!  I wake up starving (!!!!!!!) and eat breakfast now.  Then I’m hungry again midmorning so I eat then too.  Then lunch.  And snack.  And dinner.  And snack again.  I feel good and I’m not exhausted all the time and I’m very seriously thinking about extending this little vacay for a couple more weeks.  Doing a little more research into the science behind the plan and it’s extremely interesting.  Mostly, though, I just like that I feel good and can eat a lot.

I will say this – my cooking has undergone some interesting developments, as well.  Made my own hot Italian sausage the other day and it was so good, I can’t imagine buying it again (there wasn’t any commercially prepared sausage which didn’t have sugar of some form in it); I make clarified butter and my own mayonnaise and I’m making ranch dressing this weekend (I think).  One thing has also become clear – I need to bite the bullet and buy a new food processor.  Was kind of hoping I could just get away with my immersion blender, handheld mixer, and knives, but that’s not happening; so this weekend, need to research a new machine.

So that’s what’s happening with me.  What’s cooking at your place?

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Reality-Based Menu – Vacation Edition – Week 2

Still on time off, diet-wise- and loving every moment of it.

I know that last week I planned out through the weekend, but things were crazypants here, so that was more of a pipedream.  We ate well, of course, but had to take a more flexible approach.  I’m totally good with that.

  • Monday – Burgers, Rutabaga Fries, and Salad
  • Tuesday – Chicken-Zucchini Tots, Roasted Cauliflower
  • Wednesday – Portuguese Fish Stew & Salad
  • Thursday – Roast Chicken (or 40-garlic clove, if I can get Hearth to share her recipe, LOL), Green Beans Amandine, Baby Greens with Green Apple Dressing
  • Friday – Beefy-loaded Baked Potatoes; Steamed Broccoli

I also made Ina Garten’s Roasted Tomato Soup and a huge container of tuna salad, so I’ll be lunching on that most of the week.  The fruit platter is piled high with bananas, Honeycrisp apples, oranges, and pears.  There are lots of crudités in the fridge and I’m making my first-ever attempt at mayonnaise.

I thought I’d take a minute just to muse over some of the things I’ve noticed since taking this approach.  First and foremost, the terrible late afternoon fatigue is nearly gone.  This had me nearly in tears of despair – 1600 and I was nearly comatose; more often than not, a headache accompanied it.  I’ve had much fewer headaches – maybe 1 fairly minor in the last 10 days rather than an every day thing – and this means I’m eating a lot less ibuprophen.  Heartburn is pretty nonexistent, too – and I was waking up several days a week with that terrible burning in my esophagus.

Frankly, I’m delighted.  Have I missed anything?  Sure – I particularly miss milk in my coffee, but that’s just led to a reduction in the amount of coffee I drink.  Occasionally I hear toast with butter and cherry preserves calling me; and Saturday night all I wanted was a big bowl of Pasta Carbonara.  I remind myself I’m on vacation and the cravings go limping back into their hidey-holes.

Oh – and Hearth – bought beets; roasted them (well, attempted to any way) and throwing them in the aforementioned salad with green apple dressing.  Will report on the outcome  🙂   >

So, what’s cooking with every one else?


Reality-Based Menu – Vacation Edition – Week 1

I have officially put myself on vacation – not the typical vacation, but a dietary vacation. You see, I feel terrible all the time; I wake up tired and go to bed tired; I experience intense fatigue throughout the day; my focus and concentration are shot, along with enthusiasm, any sort of creativity; I can’t even enjoy reading because my brain just can’t keep track of what I’ve read. My body hurts – all over. Even walks on my beloved Folly Beach have ceased to be a pleasure and are more pain.

It was time to do something drastic.

Now I’m one of those persons who embrace change with all the enthusiasm of a toddler being put down for a nap. And all it takes are those foul words, “good for you,” and my inner obstinate mule starts kicking and screaming up a storm. But this is different. I’m just not me anymore and I can’t stand it.

So, what exactly is this vacation I’m taking? It’s Whole30™, that’s what.

I’m taking a vacation from the scale (that’s right – no scale for 30 days); no dairy, no grains; no legumes; no sugar of any kind. Well, isn’t that rather faddish of you, Maevey? And didn’t you already try the cavegirl routine and nearly pass out after two weeks just taking a 15-minute stroll through the neighborhood? And didn’t a whole slew of other awful things happen? Why yes, yes all that happened. But I’m not pulling a cavegirl thing. I’m not fasting; not eliminating carbohydrates. I’m not giving up coffee or tea or even juice or salt.

Here’s what I’m eating – lots of pork and fish and chicken and beef and eggs; potatoes (sweet and white); lots of salads; lots of fruit and veggies; olive oil and clarified butter; nuts and olives and pickles and pepperoncini. In short, I’m eating a crap load of tasty goodness.

It’s day three. It’s been tough, but every time a craving hit, I’d tell myself, “yeah, I’m kind of taking a break from that for a couple weeks.” You hear that – I’m taking a break. Not denying myself. Not living in a dietary purgatory. I’m taking a break; relaxing; chilling.

Here’s my menu for the week – and yay me!

  • Stuff I’m eating all day long (breakfast, lunch, etc.): Cauliflower-Watercress Soup; eggs (scrambled and hardboiled); tuna salad (I’m holding off the mayo and binding with my favorite lemon vinaigrette – soooo tasty); huge Honeycrisp apples; some Florida strawberries; oranges; ruby grapefruits.
  • Monday – Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs; Oven Roasted Cauliflower with Paprika; Celery Root & Walnut salad
  • Tuesday – It’s just me and I’m making a frittata with baby spinach and roasted tomatoes
  • Wednesday – Ground beef with onions and garlic (and some hot pepper flakes) over baked potato halves; broccoli
  • Thursday – Roast Pork Tenderloin; Hot Crash Potatoes; Green Beans
  • Friday – Rosemary Beef Skewers with Arugula Salad
  • Saturday – Coconut Curry Shrimp with Cucumber Slaw and Grilled Pineapple Slices
  • Sunday – Whole Roast Chicken, Pan Sauce, Rutabaga Fries; Mashed Potatoes
  • Now tell me, does that sound like deprivation to you? It sounds like heaven to me.

    Is it all easy-peasey-lemon-squeezy? Nope. Last night I got up about a thousand times to pee AND I had the worst sugar cravings. That was hard. But I still kept reminding myself that I was taking some time off from the Milk Duds™ for a couple weeks. Amazing how that works – just taking time off. A great good thing. And the more I frame this as a vacation, the more my head seems to be onboard – and more importantly, the beastly toddler who lives inside me is rather enthused as well.

    I’m not planning to turn this into another Whole30™ site – but the next couple weeks will indeed be reflecting this dietary vacation I’m on – and I’ll be posting a couple recipes just to drive home how delicious this time off can be.

    So, what’s cooking at your house?


    Reality-Based Menu – Out of the Frying Pan & Into the Oven Edition

    Angharad is studying for exams; Iseult runs the sound-board at school and there are activities every night this week.  I’m heading into my super-busy, report-driven week.  All this means that I need food which comes as close to preparing itself as I can – and that means roasting.

    I’m not sure why it took me so long to figure out that the easiest way to cook was to let the oven do the work.  Stove-top is generally extremely hands-on (and let’s not discuss all the pots & pans which will require washing); but you throw some meat in a pan; scatter some vegetables and into the oven it all goes.  I will allow this one caveat – roasting requires more actual cooking time than messing about on the stovetop, so in terms of lights-on to table, it’s not the quickest method at first glance.  But when you factor is the relatively minor prep and clean-up, well, I think it rather tips the scale.  And speaking of scales, roasting is great friend to those of us working on improving our diets.

    • Saturday – Chicken Cacciatore (I make a riff off of Nigella Lawson’s excellent and very easy to put together recipe.  I think it took about 20 minutes of prep and 20 minutes on the stove – which is a respectable timeframe.
    • Sunday – Sandwiches at the end of a busy day
    • Monday – Roast Beef, Horseradish Sauce, roasted baby potatoes & shallots (virtually no prep and no clean up)
    • Tuesday – Girls at their Dads – leftovers for me
    • Wednesday – Baked Bacon-wrapped Cod, Rice, Haricots Vert
    • Thursday – Garlic Roasted Chicken Breasts, Sautéed Broccoli Rabe
    • Friday – Pan Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Shaved Fennel & Celery Salad

    So that’s the plan, subject to change as always.

    What’s cooking at your place?



    Reality-Based Menu – Après Thanksgiving Edition

    Have you finally consumed the last of the leftovers?

    We ended up with last-minute guests, which was wonderful!  And yet the leftovers…..so many many leftovers.  There’s a reason I only cook this food once a year – I may only actually cook it one time, but we seem to eat it endlessly.  Time to move on.

    This week’s menu is deliberately lighter – still every-day easy, but hopefully also a little more “swish” as my mother would say.

    • Monday – Watercress Cauliflower Soup; Crispy Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs; salad
    • Tuesday – Girls at their Dad’s; I have plans
    • Wednesday – Steak Kebabs; Arugula-Cucumber-Scallion Salad
    • Thursday – Ham & Gruyere Omelets; Shaved Fennel, Radish & Apple Salad
    • Friday – Pork Chops; Garlicky Broccoli; Rice (link below)

    I know what you’re thinking:  “Erm…exactly how reality-based is that menu, there, Maevey?  We KNOW what you’re like.”

    True. But here’s the thing.  I actually have most of the ingredients at the house and I kind of need to use them.  Tonight’s chicken is thawing right now; for the soup I’m doing a short-cut and using frozen cauliflower (GASP – Frozen Veggies!!! My Word!); I have canned stock (seriously, when do I have the time to make stock – and I actually like to make it).  The kebabs are super easy:  cubed sirloin; marinated for a few minutes with a lovely rosemary/salt/garlic rub – broiled for about 5 minutes total; the salad takes a grand total of 5 minutes to toss.  The Omelets – frankly, this is the weakest link – there’s more work involved in this meal than the entire rest of the week – we shall see.  Pork Chops, broccoli, rice (do, please, stop over here – this is my favorite way to cook broccoli).

    You see, it’s really not quite that big a deal.  I’m feeling pretty good about, but also am  not going to beat myself up if Chinese Takeout shows up one night.

    I hope everyone had a lovely holiday (feel free to post updates, including any rants if necessary, LOL).

    So, what’s cooking at your place this week?




    Reality-Based Menu – Talking Turkey Edition

    It’s Thanksgiving and I’m not posting a menu because this week, we’re all about Thursday.

    It’s funny how the subject of the meal itself can be rather volatile.  In my house it’s something of a sacrilege to even suggest a deviation from the norm. I casually mentioned that maybe this year we would just roast a turkey breast and forego the wings/legs since there are so few of us – Whoa, Nelly!! Break out the smelling salts!  You’d have thought I’d cancelled Thanksgiving.  Suitably chastised, I bought a 20lb turkey.  And I’m going to make them eat every last bite if it takes until Christmas.

    This is my menu.  It’s vey similar to the one I grew up with, except that my mother added pearl onions to the carrots; we didn’t have green bean casserole; and there was always corn (because my youngest brother would have expired on the spot it we didn’t have it).  I’m not cooking corn because nobody cares.  Iseult, who doesn’t even tolerate dairy particularly well insisted that we much have the carrots (sans onions).

    • Roasted Turkey
    • Stuffing (but I’m baking it in a Bundt pan – no, that doesn’t mean it’s dressing!)
    • Gravy
    • Mashed Potatoes
    • Creamed Carrots
    • Rolls of some kind
    • Green Bean Casserole (super doctored up with cheese and water chestnuts)
    • Pecan Pie (Angarad makes the one from the Silver Palate Cookbook and it’s divine).
    • Chocolate Marshmallow Pie (from the November issue of Food Network Magazine)

    I know you’re reading this over and thinking – there are no sweet potatoes!  There is no cranberry sauce!  What is wrong with these people?  What can I say?  We’re kind of weird and I’m not having any guests who will eat them, so, nope, not on the menu.  OK Maevey, but there’s no Pumpkin Pie for cryin’ out loud!  Heh – that’s how we roll.

    Anyway, I’d like to just take a small moment to wish all my e-friends a very safe and blessed and joy-filled Thanksgiving.

    If you’re up for sharing your Thanksgiving Menu, please do.


    PS – Here’s my tip – the best place to thaw your turkey is in a bathtub filled with cold water.  Seriously.  You have to drain it and refill to keep the water cold, but it really does work.



    Reality-Based Menu – Reluctant Edition

    It was a dark and stormy weekend.  Not the weather.  The world.

    I was a young girl in that city.  And even then, in the 70’s there were threats of terrorism – indeed, it was not uncommon for me to come home from school and see several SWAT-type vans across the street (I lived across from an embassy which was frequently the target of terrorists).  I suppose I’ve always hoped that people grow out of trying to kill one another – unrealistic, yes, but what can I say – I’m sort of Pollyanna-ish that way.

    This week’s menu:

    • Monday – Roasted Chicken Thighs; Cauliflower; Rice Pilaf
    • Tuesday – Girls at their Dad’s – leftovers, I think
    • Wednesday – Shredded Pork, Sesame Broccoli; Lentils
    • Thursday – Leftovers
    • Friday – DIY dinner
    • Weekend – I’ll think of something

    If I have the time, I think I’ll pick up a pear and some dried tart cherries and make a Clafoutis (this one, from Martha Stewart) and watch my favorite movie set in that city (Charade), and have my own little tribute.

    Anyone else up for cooking something French this week?


    There’s a Menu and Not Much Else

    I wish I had more time to post today, but super busy with work and home life; still, am trying to live up to my own promise-to-self that I’ll blog regularly.

     I didn’t get to make the pie Els recommended – my fault – just ran out of time, plus want to try and scale down to a smaller amount.

    Here’s the planned menu for the week. I’ve stopped stressing about whether or not we stick to it, but having a plan means having a shopping list means getting the grocery budget under control.

    •  Monday – The roast pork sliders and Jicama Slaw that did not get made last week.
    • Tuesday – Buffalo chicken wraps
    • Wednesday – Asian Lettuce Wraps (not to self – pick up fish sauce)
    • Thursday – this Roasted Cherry Panzanella Salad – maybe with some grilled chicken
    • Friday – Do Your Own Thing

    So, what’s cooking at your place?

    Unrelated item #1 – school starts in 6 weeks which annoys the living daylights out of me. No school until after Labor Day! Sheesh! Again, Sheesh

    Unrelated item #2 – Hoping to have a Reading Update post soon – maybe even tonight.



    Don’t You People Eat?

    Yes.  Yes, we eat.  But last week I burned my arm really badly Monday night and then the girls hightailed it off to their grandparents mid-week, so the menu business sort of went by the wayside.  Things are better this week.  My arm’s not bandaged any longer and our appetites have returned a bit.

    I know the week’s nearly over, but did want to share a couple things we’ve made and enjoyed – which you might enjoy also.

    Monday – Sautéed chicken  with salad and grilled crookneck squash

    Tuesday – Tacos – um, these Crispy Beef, Cheddar and Pickle Tacos – make them as soon as possible; while you’re at it, head over to Wit & Vinegar and  make large batches of their Taco Seasoning mix – you’ll never buy the stuff again.  It’s worth noting that once you put pickles (and chopped onion – my addition) on your tacos, you don’t ever want anything else on them again.  That’s it – the beef, cheddar, finely chopped pickles and onions.  Nirvana!

    Wednesday  – I’m not sure yet – might prevail on the people who live with me to come up with something.  Angharad makes this killer tomato soup that would be pretty perfect; I think we have all the ingredients, so that’s a definite possibility.

    Thursday – Erm…not sure.  I’m thinking a final attempt at preparing a London Broil.  The last couple I’ve tried have come out slightly tougher than the sole of a boot, so not really feeling the excitement.  On the other hand, I have one in the freezer so might as well get it over and done with.  I came across this recipe which has some seriously good reviews, so maybe it won’t be so bad.  Note to self:  make sure there’s plenty of salad, just in case.

    Friday – Dinner plans – YAY

    But wait – I made this Cucumber Noodles with Peanut Sauce (from Two Peas and Their Pod – super tasty site; I go there pretty much every day!) like 4 times last week.  I know you’re thinking that peanut butter and cucumbers is just too weird of a combination, but let go of your hesitation and try it out.  The sauce is a lighter version of my  “Better Than Ed’s Sauce” and would be tasty on so  many things.  The first time I made it, I used one of my THREE (!!!!!) mandolins – long story, maybe I’ll post about it, but since then I’ve been using this great little julienne tool which is much easier to use and less hazardous on the fingers.  I have this one which came as part of a set with the best ever vegetable peeler you will every own.  Ever.  I bought a set for each of my girls so that they too will never have to be without.  That’s how much I love them.  My girls, I mean.

    Well, that’s it.  So, anything tasty happening at your houses?


    Menu Madness

    I know there haven’t been any menu posts in a while.  I’ve been in something of a blue funk and have wanted to neither cook nor blog.  About anything.  Generally speaking, I’m not one who thinks you can just “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” out of everything, but it’s worth a try in this case as I can’t tell if the situation is self-induced or the result of other factors.  Regardless, a little positive effort never hurt.

    As I mentioned earlier, meals and menu planning have been low voltage these days, but I did spend a little time yesterday thinking about grocery shopping and menu planning and then Angharad and I went out to a couple downtown shops to hunt for local produce (I was not up for all the rigmaroles of the local farmers’ markets – and there are tons of them) which yielded some great tomatoes, zucchini, and peaches.

    Sunday – Pan-seared rosemary/garlic lamb chops; Nectarines with Arugula & Burrata Cheese (I’m going to make mine with fresh mozzarella because I’m too fatigued to hunt down Burrata – so it won’t be quite so delish – oh well…)

    Monday – This absofreakinlutely delicious Lettuce Salad with Hot Beef Dressing.  I know it sounds weird, but trust me – it’s amazing and you’re going to want to make it every night of the week.  I used my very favorite Loriva Roasted Peanut Oil and also added some crushed red pepper flakes.  You definitely need the crunch of romaine, but this time I think I may also add some shredded cabbage.  Good Grief – I’m drooling all over the keyboard just thinking about it.  I also recommend doubling the recipe; the original might feed 2 – and I say “might” with some degree of measure – it would not feed only 2 of this family.

    Tuesday – Pork tenderloin sliders with Jicama Slaw; roasted radishes and baby potatoes.  This slaw is killer and super easy to make.  I use a Memphis BBQ sauce which adds a really lovely sweet note to the whole thing.  I love using the pork tenderloins – which I COOK IN THE MICROWAVE, keeping them tender and juicy; then slice thin, pile on slider buns, drizzle with the BBQ sauce and top with the slaw.  Of course, you could grill your tenderloins – I probably would, too, it I wasn’t the one who had to grill them.

    Wednesday – Sautéed Chicken Paillards with Caprese Tartines – just a fancy way of saying sauté thin sliced chicken breasts in olive oil; serve with open faced tomato-basil-mozzarella-drizzled-with-olive-oil on toasted French bread sandwiches.  Need I say more?

    Thursday – Cold Pasta Salad of spaghetti, olive oil, red pepper flakes, garlic, tomatoes and brie.  Here’s how I make it.  Cook the pasta according to package directions in well-salted water; while the pasta cooks, I warm up some good olive oil; add the red pepper flakes, several cloves of sliced garlic and cook gently until the garlic is soft – and watch that it doesn’t brown.  Once the pasta cooks, I drain it and combine with the olive oil. Refrigerate until cold.  Then before serving, I tear some brie and add some chopped tomatoes.  Sometimes I need to add a little more olive oil – it’s a matter of taste.  Olives are a nice addition as well.  You can eat this hot and it’s excellent that way too.

    Friday – It’s July 4th and I have plans.  My contribution – Strawberry & Peach Shortcakes (I know it’s actually the 3rd….).

    So, that’s the plan for the week.  I’m actually looking forward to either cooking these meals myself, or relaxing while the minions conduct the preparations.  What’s cooking at your place?