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    Just the thoughts and cookings of a software engineer that likes to make foodstuffs from time to time in the bay area of California.
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    January 2020
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Day 7 of the menu plan: Spaghetti Pie

Today was the last day in the week of menu plans. As planned, I made Creamy Spaghetti Pie. I used to make spaghetti pie a bit when I was on Weight Watchers. I thought I’d try again with a meatless version.

Creamy Spaghetti Pie

It didn’t go very well, but tasted alright. I used low-fat cottage cheese instead of ricotta. That was fine. But it was all very runny. And it didn’t fit into my pie pan at all. Not sure what happened to cause all the excess water. I’m sure the leftovers are going to be amazing though.

Instead of serving it with the planned green beans, I served it with a salad so that I could try out a dressing.

Doing a menu plan for the week is nice but I need to focus on it more and read the recipes better. Maybe then I won’t end up cooking till late at night for that evening’s meal. This week is going to be a whirlwind anyway. This weekend is the conference where I present a 40-minute session on marketing to the younger generation. There’s also library board meeting, class, Toastmasters meeting, class team meeting, and more.

Then it calms down a little but not as much as it’ll calm down in December! (Right around the corner. See it? Hi! There it is.)

Exploration about town: Grey Goose Restaurant

I had a dinner meeting. Being a vegetarian before is no different now that I’m back on the wagon: I worry about dinner meetings! I abhor bell pepper. For some reason, most everything I get that is the result of checking the vegetarian box on an RSVP has bell pepper. Why! Why, oh bell pepper, must you vex me so?

Last night was no different. At least, though, I could remove it easily. I believe I amused those at my table.

Vegetarian entree
Grilled Vegetable Napoleon with Roasted Tomato Compote

The dinner was at The Grey Goose Restaurant which was a lovely place. (Gotta love a restaurant with a great website!) The food was delicious, though I didn’t like the pie as much as I thought I would so 3/4 of that was left behind. Oh, and, of course, the surgically removed roasted bell pepper was left with no apologies.

Grilled Vegetable Napoleon with Roasted Tomato Compote had zucchini, yellow squash, portabella mushroom, roasted red pepper, mashed potato, and roasted tomato sauce. The brown drizzle was… balsamic reduction/glaze? Rosemary sprig for garnish. It was hard to pick apart all the flavors. And I’m already feeling a lack of confidence in identifying flavors because I failed so miserably at the lunch on Monday!

Is it a Napoleon cause it is layered? Neat idea filed away into the inspiration box.

Chocolate fudge pie
Chocolate Fudge Pie

Menu Plan Monday

I’ve seen some others doing a menu plan on Monday and thought I’d give it a whirl. This week is pretty busy so there are a few nights off. For more menus, head over to Meal Plan Monday. I have classes on Monday and Wednesday at 6:30.

Monday: Sweet Potato and Kidney Bean Burrito (Froze 99% of them when I cooked them. Not sure how they’ll do from the freezer but we’ll see!)
Tuesday: Out to eat
Wednesday: Taco Soup but leaving out the meat, Bread
Thursday: Lasagna Spirals, Salad, Bread
Friday: C.O.R.N. (Clean Out Refrigerator Night)
Saturday: Out to eat
Sunday: Spaghetti Pie, Green Beans

Eggplant Experiment continues: Stirfry

I tried again to recreate the a side dish I ate a few months ago. I remember the cook saying she nuked it for 20 minutes to get the water out and then some time in the pan. 20 minutes seemed a long time.

I took an eggplant, sliced it into 1/3″ slices, salted, and put in a colander. This process I found in random googling. The salting process is supposed to get the water out. After 45 minutes, I rinsed the slices off and squeezed them as dry as I could. I even put them on a towel to help dry them more. I then chopped it up and added it to a pan that already had onion (1/2 chopped red), garlic (2 cloves) and olive oil (1 Tablespoon) going. I also added some pepper. I sauteed it a bit then covered it over low and cooked for about 10 minutes. I took the lid off and continued for a few minutes more till it was tender.

I served it with warmed pita bread, store-bought hummus, and leftover spaghetti.

Eggplant and spaghetti

I don’t know. It just wasn’t it and I’m not sure how to get it. Maybe she didn’t use onion and garlic? Or maybe the colander trick doesn’t work like I thought? Not sure. It was OK, but I will definitely experiment again.

For the plate: Red

How can I plan a meal for presentation? I don’t see me making little radish roses but I could see nestling in a grape tomato for a splash of red. I’ll list what I’ve found even if I don’t eat it. Tastes change, etc.


photo by mollyali
Can be eaten raw, but are more typically cooked or pickled. [more…]
photo by cursedthing
Blood orange
Raw. Less acidic in flavor than regular oranges. [more…]
photo by bonnieshulman
Raw or cooked. [more…]
photo by mjlaflaca
Cook or it’s too tart. [more…]

Raw or cooked. [more…]
photo by fabiocosta
Raw. [more…]
photo by niznoz
Raw. [more…]
photo by calliope
Pink grapefruit
Raw. [more…]
photo by jenmaiser
Raw or cooked. Hot peppery flavor. [more…]
photo by marko k
Raw or cooked. Sweet, slightly tart.[more…]
photo by funadium
Red apple
Raw or cooked. [more…]
photo by docman
Red bell pepper
Raw or cooked. [more…]
photo by chubbybat
Red chili pepper
Mild to hot. [more…]
photo by princess of llyr
Red currant
Cook or it’s too tart. [more…]
photo by farlane
Red grape
Raw or cooked. [more…]
photo by ethomsen
Red onion
Raw or cooked. [more…]
photo by fortinbras
Red potato
Cooked. [more…]
photo by pipstar
Cooked. [more…]
photo by anushruti
Raw or cooked. [more…]
photo by svenwerk
Raw or cooked. [more…]
Photo by darwinbell
Raw. [more…]

Images are from Flickr Creative Commons-licensed content. Clicking on each image will take you to the photographer’s album.

Saving by menu planning

Image: Daniel Y. Go

I tried The Grocery Game for a $1 trial. Pretty neat idea. If I actually visited the site and did what she said to do, I can definitely see how I’d save in the long run. But I tend to shop at one store, with maybe a quick stop at a couple on the way home if they have a really good deal on meat or produce.

I have a subscription to E-mealz but haven’t really been keeping up with that either. The Walmart menu has prices on it and they say they make up menus based on sales. I get a generic points one.

Finding the circulars online
I usually visit the stores’ sites directly. Also, there’s: Sunday Saver. Unfortunately, some stores don’t list grocery sales in their online ads. For example, Walmart.

Update the price sheet
I have a price sheet in Google docs’ spreadsheet. I input prices that look low to me and keep them categorically.

Date Store Category Item Total weight Units Price Price per Weight unit Price a pound Notes
4/22/2008 Food Lion Meat Chicken breast, frozen 2.5 pound 6.99 2.80 pound

I also have a notes column and an extra column for pound. Like when cans of green beans are on sale, they are X per ounce. I then take the X and multiply it by 16 so I can see price per pound. I do this on frozen meals and canned vegetables mostly.

Before I started this, I thought that those big bags of flash frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts were always a better deal. Nope. Especially now that I’ve learned how to freeze stuff better.

Highlight the good deals
If there’s a great meat deal based on the previous prices, then I stock up a bit. Not too much since I am cooking for one or two max. If there’s a great produce deal, I use that as inspiration.

Farmers’ Markets
I had previous plans Saturday so missed out on the local market but hopefully I can hit it up next weekend. I bought less veggies this last grocery shopping trip because I knew we’ve got lots of local seasonal produce to purchase and use!

This is a major weakness of mine that I hope to improve upon. I clip coupons from the paper when I get it, file them and forget them. I haven’t utilized the plethora of online coupon sites but should. It’s a really kick in the pants when I get home to find that there was a $1 (or more!) coupon for something I just bought. Here’s some great tips on coupons (that I hope to do m’self!): So where can you find the coupons?


I am stressed. Like so stressed that my shoulders have been in pain since this morning. You’ve been there, I know. I won’t list the laundry list of things that got me here. Though, I guess, it boils down to just one thing—me. I got myself here. I agreed to do this, that and the other thing. Y’know? Right. Ok. Must just concentrate on one thing at a time.

Toastmasters tonight at 6:45 p.m. so dinner had to be quick but I—of course—didn’t plan ahead for it. I got into a fight going there so that just helped end a great day. Toastmasters went really well though. I filled in for the secretary and was also in charge of turning people into animals. Found out someone in the group is on WordPress! I ❤ you, WordPress. It’s nice to see others share in the love without my needing to sing your praises.

Waiting till late afternoon to start water is silly. But when I switch from caffeinated beverages to water, I miss the jolt of caffeine. I switched at lunch today but I got more tired than usual by the 3:00 bump.

I took pictures but the USB reader is throwing a tantrum again. I really gotta buy a better one.

Weekly goal status: 1/5 breakfasts and 0/1 lunches brought in from home.

Breakfast (8:45 a.m.)
Hot link, one: 7~
Potatoes, wedges, 1/2 cup: 3~
Diet Dr. Pepper, 24 oz: 0

Lunch (12:15 p.m.)
Another $6 salad. Sigh.

Black olives, romaine lettuce, spinach, corn, rice wine vinegar, tomato, cucumber: 1
Cottage cheese, orange slices, ~5 dried cranberries: 4.5
Water, 24 oz: 0

Kitkat: 10
Water, 24 oz: 0

Cheerios, 2 cups: 3.5
Milk, 1%, 1 cup: 2
Pepsi, Diet, 1 restaurant glass: 0

On the way home, I stopped off at the grocery store and impulsed. I bought on the perimeter of the store. Not sure what I’ll do with it all but since I keep not planning, it’s time to just throw stuff together!

The haul:

  • Cottage cheese, fat-free
  • Light cheese sticks
  • Organic strawberries
  • Organic apples
  • Eggplant
  • Light Laughing Cow cheese
  • Organic Greek Yogurt, fat-free
  • Jello cups, sugar-free
  • I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray
  • Diet Dew cans — yes, this was on the perimeter too!

I have a group meeting tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. so won’t have a lot of time to play in the kitchen. Maybe I’ll just toss together some leftovers before the marathon session.