Have You Eaten?

My Auntie Ollie would greet everyone with a giant hug, a kiss on the lips, and always the same question: “have you eaten?” It didn’t matter if the answer was yes, you were about to get fed. Homemade baked goods, some form of roasted meat, cheese, nuts, her famous pickles and meatballs, she could pull together a gourmet plate in two minutes flat.

I know that food isn’t actually love, but sometimes it feels an awful lot like it.

I had a bit of an odd day. I woke up and finished reading Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved, which left me feeling discombobulated and a bit raw. It was a well-written book, and I enjoyed it, I just wasn’t expecting to connect so emotionally with the story.

My emotional hangover and the pouring rain set the tone for the day. I started with buttermilk pancakes shaped like Mickey Mouse and dotted with chocolate chips for Grady, followed by a shrimp omelette for Shawn. I spent hours stirring Poppy’s favourite pasta sauce as it simmered away on the stove. I hard-boiled eggs and layered them with bacon and local tomatoes and baby spinach for packed lunches. I washed peaches and blueberries and contemplated picking blackberries before the rain picked up and kept me inside.

Food isn’t love, exactly, but we all need to be fed and there’s something beautiful in the simple act of feeding others.

Meal Plan 09/25/2017 - 09/29/2017

Last week hit me like a ton of bricks and I cried more times than I'd like to admit. I am determined to tackle this week with more preparation, and more intention, in an effort to, I don't know, make it through seven days without sobbing. Dare to dream, right?

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Monday: Slow Cooker Enchilada Quinoa for Meatless Monday. My sister sent me this recipe last week. I'm skeptical but also it took five minutes to throw together so even if it sucks it kind of wins based on convenience and nutritional value. 

Tuesday: Spaghetti! I made a double batch of beef ragu for the freezer so I just need to pull a bag out and defrost it while the pasta cooks. Tuesday is our busiest day this week so I'm feeling extra smug that I've got a nutritious meal prepped and ready to go already. 

Wednesday: Peanut Butter Pork. My slow cooker is getting a workout this week. It must be autumn. I'll serve this with zoodles or maybe some cabbage sauteed with garlic and onions. 

Thursday: Leftovers! 

Friday: Dishevelled Josephs (hat tip to Sarah for making me laugh every time I make Sloppy Joes). If I'm feeling ambitious, I'll make pretzel rolls.

What's on your meal plan this week?

Tortellini Sausage Soup

This soup is hearty and full of veggies. Serve it with crusty bread and it's a full meal soup. The tortellini and sausage make it satisfying and flavourful, while the veggies add a boost of nutrients so no salad is needed (I become firmly Team No Salad once the lovely summer veg is gone).

Ingredients

2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups assorted diced vegetables (I did 1 onion, 3 stalks celery, 3 carrots, and a large handful of green beans)
300g smoked turkey sausage, sliced (I cut mine in half and then did 1/4" slices for half moons)
1 - 796mL can crushed tomatoes
4 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp dried oregano
2 cups water
1 - 350g package tortellini (I used rainbow four cheese)
2 (packed) cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
grated parmesan cheese for serving (optional)

Directions

Heat olive oil in large soup pot over medium-high heat.

Add assorted diced vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and onion is translucent (approximately 7 - 10 minutes).

Add sausage and cook for another minute or two until it starts to brown slightly.

Add tomatoes, stock, oregano, and water and bring to a boil.

Add tortellini, and cook, stirring occasionally, per directions on package (usually 6- 8 minutes). In last minute of cooking, add spinach and parsley.

Top with grated parmesan cheese and serve with crusty bread.

Serves 8.

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How to Make Simple Roast Chicken with Roasted Vegetables

If there's one thing I learned while living in England, it's that Sundays are for roast dinners. Roast chicken is a meal that intimidated me (it felt so grown up!) but once I mastered it, it quickly became a staple in our home. So crank your oven, crack open a bottle of wine (wine is a necessary part of Sunday roast preparation so don't skip it. Look, I don't make the rules, I just follow them,) and get ready to fill your kitchen with feel-good-food smells.

Ingredients

1 onion, peeled and sliced into eighths
4 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 apple, roughly chopped
1 lemon, washed and cut into sixths (leave the skin on! You're going to get lots of beautiful lemony flavour from the skin)
olive oil
salt and pepper
small bunch fresh rosemary (or thyme or other herb of your choice), finely chopped
1 (2 - 2.5kg) roasting chicken
4 - 6 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled

Directions

Preheat oven to 425F.

Mix onion, carrots, squash, apple, and lemon in large roasting pan. Drizzle with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Add rosemary (or your favourite fresh herb), salt, and pepper, and mix well.

Give your chicken a quick rinse and pat dry with paper towel. Place on top of veg in roasting pan. Rub 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil into skin. Place garlic in chicken cavity. Season chicken liberally, inside cavity and out, with salt and pepper.

Roast in preheated oven for 90 minutes, until juices run clear and meat thermometer registers 170F. Baste chicken periodically with cooking juices (I usually do it at 45, 60, and 75 minutes). I also give the veg a bit of a stir whenever I baste the chicken to make sure they're not sticking to the bottom and getting too golden. (Hi, I am my parents. I refuse to call things burnt. Things are just varying stages of golden.)

Remove roasting pan from oven and cover with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 15 minutes. Remove lemons, carve chicken, and serve with roasted veg. In a perfect world, I'd pair this with steamed broccoli or salad to add a green component but real talk: sometimes green things do not find their way to our plates.

Simple Roast Chicken and Veg