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Cooking on the Lake

Ever since our move to the Oregon Coast, living on Ten Mile Lake, surrounded in beauty, has really inspired me to start cooking again. Prior to our move, I had become stuck in a rut that often consisted of convenience foods or things that I could put together in a matter of five minutes or less – bean burritos, nachos, pretty much any quick and easy Mexican fare. It was simple to run out and grab a bite to eat or to order in pizza when I didn’t want to spend the five minutes “cooking” something. Living remotely, here on the lake, has reminded me of how fun cooking can be. I am also loving the side effects of cooking at home every night – the healthier meals, the nourishing foods, and not feeling hungry all of the time or craving french fries multiple times per week. I was a french fry aficionado – my mood determined which type of fry I wanted – crinkle fries from Del Taco, skinny fries from McDonald’s (one of the only things I will eat there), soft fries from Wienerschnitzel or fresh, homemade fries from In-N-Out Burger.

One of my favorite things about cooking has become creating a meal plan for the week and then seeing how far I can stretch the groceries beyond the week planned. This last grocery trip lasted two whole weeks, I was so impressed with my ability to be resourceful in the kitchen again. I’m also using my Pinterest boards with food – a first for me, other than baking recipes. We have had some really fantastic meals here on the lake, with only the occasional “loser” – a recipe I won’t make again. Each week, I try to vary the types/origins of food we’ll eat all week. I love Mexican food – it’s my favorite food group – so I tend to naturally make Mexican food more often than anything else. However, with planning the meals for the week, I can stray from what’s instinctual and find some other great choices as well! The best part is that it’s a team effort. Dennis (my sweetie) does the shopping from the list that I make him of the ingredients needed for the week’s meals. I typically choose five recipes for the week to create. Three to four new recipes and one or two recipes we’ve already tried and loved. I also have Dennis get us a few staple ingredients that are quick and easy to cook with for those nights that we end up coming in late off the lake or where we spent the day getting things done on/around the house. This week’s plan has a Mexican dish (of course), a BBQ dish, an English dish, an Asian dish, and an Italian dish. Sounds like a well-rounded week! I also throw in a couple things that I can bake so that we can have a treat here and there – although we certainly aren’t the “dessert after dinner” traditionalists either. These are not in the order they will be created. I don’t really go that far as to choose which meal will be made on which day. I try to use up fresh herbs and veggies sooner so the recipes requiring those typically get cooked up first. I tend to just go with my mood each day. Do I want to get up and get something in the crockpot in the morning, filling the house with delicious aromas and easily enjoying dinner when we’re ready? Or do I want to stop writing and creating early for the day and cook something a little more time-intensive? I love that I can look at the list of meal ideas for the week and go with what sounds good and feels right for each day. Like last week, when I saved Dennis’ new favorite soup – Chicken Tortilla – for the end of the week, after I made the White Chicken Chili. I didn’t want to spoil his taste for everything else with his favorite early on. ha! Something I have learned about myself through my new-found love of cooking again is how much I love garlic. If a recipe calls for two cloves of garlic, I scoff and add six. No amount of garlic is too much in this household. And knowing that garlic is a great source of vitamin C, a natural antibiotic, and a pain reliever, I say bring it on! Here’s the plan (below) and if I can get some nice photos (with the help of tips from my great photographer friend, Cortney), I’ll post those as I make them. I’ve also linked to the recipes I’m going to use – although there may be alterations to the recipes as things progress (especially noted – there will always be extra garlic), I’ll post about those too!

**Note – click on the photo to view the full recipe via the author's site.

Meal One Authentic Mexican Rice & Chili Colorado Burritos

(I have made both of these recipes independently of each other. This is the BEST Mexican rice recipe I have ever made. It is truly restaurant quality. The Chili Colorado is amazing for how easy it is. I think this time I'll add some garlic and onions.)

Meal Two Asian Noodles with Chicken & Pineapple

Meal Three Crock Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches with Sourdough Garlic Bread & side of Garlic Mashed Potatoes

(the garlic bread and mashed potatoes are my own recipe - I'll post them with my notes on the chicken recipe)

Meal Four Fish & Chips (or Hushpuppies)

(I haven’t decided if I’ll make homemade french fries or hushpuppies as the side for this one – but I’ll have ingredients for both. I have made this batter with chicken instead of fish – the fish Dennis picked up was brined in salt and would have been much too salty for dinner. We'll try again this week with a better fish choice because the batter is DELICIOUS. Crunchy and tasty.)

Meal Five Shrimp with Garlic (YUM) & Parsley over pasta

(A delicious addition to pasta is to cook it in chicken or vegetable broth instead of water. Adding a bit of sautéed garlic and olive oil tossed in with the pasta is wonderful too.)

Treats for the week

(sometimes these may or may not get made, depending on our mood and desire for a sweet) Chocolate Chip Cookies

(This is my cookie book. My sister purchased it for me as a gift almost 20 years ago. I cherish this book, not only because I love my sister but also because it has every cookie recipe I could ever want inside!)

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

(This is a long-time favorite recipe. I love this banana bread so much that I no longer make any other banana bread.)

It's going to be a delectable week! I can’t wait to share how the recipes turn out with all of you.

Do you use a meal plan for the week? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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Illustration by Blume Bauer ©

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