Busy Life and Simple Meals

I’ve been shirking my blog duties. They may be self-defined, made up duties, but I’ve been shirking them nonetheless. The reason for the shirkage is that I’ve been feeling weirdly busy the last week or so. I leave tomorrow for San Francisco for an undetermined amount of time, so I’ve been packing, running errands, and doing all those things that never seem important until suddenly you’re leaving town. I’ve also been doing some job-related activity, hanging out with my cats (they’re gonna miss me!) and getting in some last minute cooking and baking.

Feeling busy in September is particularly weird this year since this is the time of year when I would be busy with school. Except I’m not going back to school, a fact which I was reminded of when I pulled out my planner and noticed that sometime earlier this year I wrote “Not First Day of School” on September 5th. Oh the wit of a younger less-burdened me.

Because I’ve been feeling slightly busy (but let’s not confuse my activity level with that of someone who, say, has a job), I’ve been making some low-key, easy meals. And you better believe I have a whole stockpile of super easy recipes for when I’m feeling less than inspired. In case you should need some back-to-school inspiration in the easy meal department, these are some of my go to options:

  • Crepes: What’s so great about crepes is you can literally put anything in them, and if you make the batter ahead of time they take all of 5 minutes to make. I use a variation of Alton Brown’s recipe (all milk, throw in some cayenne or curry for savory crepes). This weekend I had crepes with chicken, roasted peppers, spinach and goat cheese one day, and used the leftovers for a lunch of ham and gouda crepes. The options for what you put in them are literally endless, and making crepes a great option for using whatever you have on hand.
  • Stir fry: The other go “use whatever’s in the fridge” option is stir fry. I grew up eating chicken & broccoli stir fry pretty much every week or every other week for at least 10 years. It is to this day one of my favorite meals, and even though it’s incredible easy to make (soy sauce, honey, ginger & garlic) I’m still convinced my mom makes it way better than I ever could. Point is this is such an easy dish to make, and great for using the veggies/meat you have on hand. All you need on the side is a little rice.
  • Pizza: Trader Joe’s pizza dough is a dollar, so naturally it became a staple in our house in college. The best part about making your own pizza is it winds up being super cheap, and the leftovers taste just as good cold as they do warm. Plus, again, you can put on any toppings you happen to have (you sense the trend in my cooking, right?). If you don’t know when you’ll use the dough, just buy some, freeze it, and then take it out the morning of the day think you’ll make it.
  • Kitchen-sink pasta salad: For a long time I’d always have pasta on hand so when I was busy and didn’t know what to make it’d be elbows with butter and cheese. Obviously that got old very quickly, so a better way to use that pasta is to make a “pasta salad.” I put it in quotations because I’m not sure what I made ever resembled traditional pasta salad. But all you need is pasta (tortellini works really well for this) and you can throw in frozen veggies (peas, corn), cooked chicken or ham, celery, peppers, nuts, etc. Then just put a little dressing or olive oil on top and it’s good to go. If you’re more of a purist and want a recipe this tortellini salad became one of my favorites this summer.
  • Brunch: Brunch food (eggs, french toast, bacon) has been scientifically proven to be the best easy dinner ever. Just ask the boyf, who is pretty much only able to cook eggs. Obviously this doesn’t always fall into the category of healthy (I like my bacon with a side of bacon). It does, however, fall into the category of lip smacking heavenly goodness.

So just because you’re too busy to catch up on your favorite TV shows (Revenge, September 30th, it’s on), doesn’t mean you should have to eat frozen food. And if you do eat frozen food it should definitely be from Trader Joe’s ’cause man does Joe make a mean channa masala.

In the spirit of not-back-to-school September changes, I took time this weekend to organize the planner that’s been sitting in a box all summer. Nothing makes me quite as happy as a planner, some to-do lists and a set of nice pens. I also dyed my hair from the blonder color I’d been rocking for the past year in favor of a darker shade. Riveting, I know. Now it’s time to tackle some of those slightly bigger life changes. Ya know, job, apartment. Those little things.

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