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How Living Remotely Changed Our Eating Habits

I never used to make a weekly meal plan until we moved out here to the lake (Ten Mile Lake, Oregon). We live at the very end of a long, winding gravel road that turns into a smaller jeep trail near the end. Popping by our favorite restaurant is not as quick or easy as it used to be. It turns out, that is a good thing! Since we are so remote, I have switched gears and I am loving creating a menu for the week (so that we can procure supplies) and then cooking up mostly new recipes each week with one or two tried and true recipes thrown in. I have found that the love and care that goes into each meal can really make it delicious.

My meal plan is really for more than a week, but I generally pick five dishes I'd like to make and then add a few extra staples to the list to whip up some quick Mexican food or a quick pasta dish, etc. I also pick a dessert or two each week – sometimes I make them, sometimes I don't, it really depends on our mood and if I have time for baking.

I've had some successes and some misses. Thank goodness, they've all been edible so far - except for the fire devil shrimp (remind me to tell you about that one some time, yikes!)

I'm getting excited as I've just finished my list for the week and Dennis is off to town to pick up the groceries. Such a sweetie, that Dennis! I try to make sure that I have foods from different countries each week so that we don't end up eating Mexican food the entire time (my favorite food group). Dennis appreciates this too. Here's what I've got planned to cook up for this week. My mouth is watering already!

I've made the Alfredo pasta portion of this dish before - it's actually called One Pot Creamy Garlic Pasta, but it is almost all of the same ingredients as the Alfredo with the exception of cooking the pasta in chicken broth until the broth cooks down. It makes the pasta delicious! I'll write out the recipe for you to check out and link to it later. I'm really excited to try a "blackened" dish as I've been wanting to make one for some time now but all of the recipes I found called for "blackened seasoning" and I don't have that in the cupboard. I finally got the wise idea today to look up what blackened seasoning is and I've got everything in the cupboard to make it already. Perfect!

So, I'll be making the Aunt Bee's Blackened Chicken and then switching up the Alfredo pasta portion.

This recipe is incredible. The meatballs are the BEST meatballs I've ever had – better than restaurant meatballs. The tomato sauce is light and tart and the perfect pairing with a heavier meat dish. I make a little spaghetti with it and throw it all together. The best part is how good the sauce smells while I'm making it. It makes the entire house smell like an Italian restaurant. I love Martha Stewart and I'm a big fan, but I often don't choose her recipes as they can be too complicated or ingredient heavy, but this one is fairly simple.

I've made the fish & chips before as well. There's a funny story I'll have to write about making chicken bites with this batter two times before finally getting to try it on fish. I switch up the chips portion of this meal all the time. I've made homemade fries, frozen fries deep fried, and mashed potatoes. This time, I wanted to try something new and I was looking for a steak fry. I found the Baked Garlic Parmesan Wedges and said YES PLEASE. Can't wait to try them. They look fairly simple as well with just some time for letting the potatoes soak in ice water added to the cooking time. The Long John Silver's copycat batter is incredible. It's fluffy on the inside, crunchy on the outside. It makes me want to batter all the things!

This one is indulging my inner child. We had some delicious corn dogs at a festival last weekend and it's got me craving them again. I've always wanted to try to make them homemade. I love making homemade cornbread. That delicate and sweet bread is so good. I also love tator tots but the frozen food isle variety can be so bland. I'm excited to make my own and see how they come out. I always assumed I would need a fancy tool or gadget to shred the potatoes but this recipe just calls for a cheese grater. yay!

I really love trying Asian dishes but many of them are ingredient heavy. If I have half or more of the ingredients (spices, sauces, oils, etc), I'll try it out. But if I need all of the items, I usually put the recipe on the back burner. This one doesn't have too many ingredients and it looks absolutely delicious. I love rice as a good staple to have with Asian dishes – although I've had a very hard time getting consistent rice every time without our rice cooker (it died just before we moved). I've had it on my to-do list to find a new one, but until then, I keep trying out new ways to get that perfect rice. If you have a great recipe for making steamed rice without a cooker, I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

Who doesn't love crispy? And I really like making a dish crispy using corn starch vs. flour. It comes out much less heavy and more light and flavorful. The veggie tempura is something I've been dying to make with the Long John Silver's copycat batter (mentioned above) and I'm finally going to try it this week after I stop by the Farmer's Market and pick up some fresh veggies for the venture. I'm thinking some sweet potatoes, zucchini, broccoli (I'm not a fan but Dennis loves it), purple carrots (if they've got some, if not yellow or orange will do), red bell peppers and some yellow squash. Of course, I'll look around also for anything new and interesting that might be good with a little crunch added to the outside – is there anything that isn't good with a little crunch added?

For this meal, I'll also be trying a new recipe for the Thai Sweet & Sour Dipping Sauce (for the Veggie Tempura). I love that sweet and sour sauce at the Thai restaurant and I've had it on my list to try for a long time now. Who knows if this will be "THE" recipe to end all recipes, but it will be a start to see if it will work.

I'm looking forward to trying all of these out this week and writing up a review of them as I go. I've got a few other reviews brewing too, look for those soon!

I'm off to finish tonight's dinner – a standby favorite. Chicken Flautas and Refried Beans. I'll write that recipe up and link back to it too. It comes from years of making it and trial and error.

Do you have a favorite recipe you'd love to share? Post a link in the comments! xoxoxox

A little pink sugar for your mind to rest on - doesn't it look yummy?

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Illustration by Blume Bauer ©

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