Eating and Cooking Are Very Fine Habits

Lunch was every bit as delicious as I hoped it would be and very filling. Now that I’m eating more intuitively, I get full so much quicker than before. When I left work, I had to take off my jacket because it was so warm! I’m not sure what’s up with this weather (probably climate change) but it puts me in such a better mood. It’s supposed to be just as beautiful the next several days–huzzah!

Grocery shopping was a great success. The total for all my St. Patrick’s Day food (plus a few extra food items that we wanted like yogurt, pistachios, coffee, veggie chips, etc) came to about $140. Pretty good, considering it will feed about 15 or more people. Less than $10 a person. I am living on the bottom rung finance-wise, but I always seem to find money for good food, especially when it comes to throwing a party. Those are more important to me than expensive clothes or gadgets. Probably why I’m such a thrifty shopper!

Dave was exhausted from another 50+ hour week at work (in 4 days) and wanted to stay in, but my sister Emily and I were in the mood for dinner out! It’s nice to go out once in awhile after cooking so much. We decided to take baby Aurelia with us and head to Tuscon’s, a Southwest Grill down the street from my apartment that I have never frequented before. I’ve heard mixed reviews about the place which serves Mexican-American cuisine, but my Mom loves it, so I thought it would be worth a shot.

We ordered water to drink. Perusing the menu for something somewhat healthy (and trying to stay away from beef, pork, and chicken), the mango salad caught my eye:

Proclaimed to be a “House Favorite,” the mango salad boasted ‘fresh diced mango and Cajun seasoned fire grilled shrimp tossed with mixed greens, tomato, red onion and cucumber.” I got it with the suggested roasted red pepper dressing on the side.

I was not impressed. The mango were clearly not ‘fresh;’ in fact, I bit into several that were still partially frozen. The shrimp were not very flavorful at all, and the entire portion of greens under my toppings was iceberg lettuce. For a $10 salad, please do not give me iceberg lettuce. I used a tiny bit of the dressing, but I didn’t really care for it either; it tasted just like a bottled dressing, probably with canola oil and high fructose corn syrup.

The salad was merely okay, probably a 6 out of 10. The entire time I was eating it (and I ate the entire salad because I was hungry), I was thinking how much better I could make it at home, starting with grilled, sliced mango. At least it gives me some inspiration! The pros and cons of liking to cook–you are always a critic when eating out, but you always think of how you can improve a dish or replicate it. I also ordered the Southwest Risotto.

This was actually quite good, very creamy and spicy, although enough butter and cheese can make anything taste good. I ate half and gave the other half to Emily. She also ordered the Mango Salad and Cream of Mushroom soup.

I had a spoonful. The soup was good, but nothing better than regular old Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom. All in all, not very impressed. I should have ordered the Blackened Tuna Chipotle Wrap that my Mom loved so much.

When I got home, it was time to start prep work for my St. Patrick’s Day Hoopla tomorrow!

On my list to complete tonight: the shortbread pastry for the Normandy tart, the Tomato, Celery, and Apple Soup, the couscous for the Kilmacmonague meatballs, the tomato sauce for the meatballs, the first part of the baked garlic and onion soup, and the first part of the red cabbage salad.

Tomato, Celery, and Apple Soup simmering…

Pureed, and done!

I sent this home with Em in a pretty holiday jar. All I’ll have to do tomorrow is heat it up. I’ve also finished the couscous, the shortbread pastry, and I’m working on the tomato sauce now. Tonight has mostly consisted of dicing onions and peeling garlic, two of my least favorite tasks. But I love onions and garlic so much that I won’t give them up!

I have a few hours of work left tonight, so back to the kitchen I go! Happy St. Patrick’s Day Eve to all you Irish folks!


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