Tired Girl Eats

As I discussed in my original "Juice Bitch" post - I have been making fresh veggie/fruit juice and drinking it and liking it.  You can read about the idea of juicing for normal people in that post. 

Today I am going to discuss three things: juicing for Tired Girls, how the heck to use kale,
kale in motion
and my two favorite recipes.

Juicing for Tired Girls - Frankly I don't want to do much of anything except interact with people/animals I like, shop for stuff on ebay, lay in bed and read, and make sure my life has purpose and meaning. Outside of that list a lot of things feel like a chore - and food prep is a major one.  Here I compared making juice for a meal and making an actual meal:

-You do have to shop for veggies and fruit (but you have to shop for some kind of food).  
-You have to rinse and cut up veggies (but you have to do something with other food).  
-You have to rinse off the juicer and clean up the debris (you have clean food prep and dishes also).  

The good news:
-  I barely cut up the fruit and veggies.  I started juicing by cutting up these darling pieces of carrot and apple and now - whatever - just cram it in. Seeds?  No problem.  As long the item fits in the juicer thingy then we are good. 
- The masticating juicer creates juice that doesn't go bad as quickly - so while I have everything out, I will make a lot of juice - a few servings for each of us at least. So it's one prep and a few meals.  Like juice leftovers!

How the heck you use kale - So kale is going to save us all I guess.  How did we survive so long without eating it every meal?? How does a food get popular? I don't know but in the meantime I am in. Kale it is. 
- I juice my kale and then add it stuff all week. (I haven't mastered or tried kale chips or kale in soup, etc - not yet.)
- On the weekend, usually, I buy two clumps of kale from Publix/Wal-Mart/Farmers market. 
- I break kale in to smaller pieces (but not too small - about the length of your smart phone) and place in my salad spinner. 
- I rinse and spin and juice.  While the juicer drips the last bits into the container I break off more kale, rinse and spin and juice more. 
- I juice both bunches - for me it makes about a cup to a cup and half of kale juice. I put the stems and everything in. 
- The kale juice is dense - like ink.  AND it stains - like ink (goodbye cute J Crew shirt I paid almost full price for).  So a little goes a long way. 
kale juice!
For whatever reason I like getting the kale done all together and in advance - then it's easy to pour in to other juice or a smoothie or whatever.  It does have a flavor but is not dominant - in my opinion - I can barely taste when I add it to smoothies - just turns it green. 

My two favorite recipes - I get comfort in ritual. I like knowing exactly how much to put in and what it will taste like. I don't need variety with my juice. I do need to be able to do it in my sleep.  So this is basically all I ever make.  It was originally a recipe to treat endometriosis, but ultimately it is just an anti-inflammatory mixture. No uterus, no problem - still good for you. 

- 1 apple (no peeling, no de-seeding, just chop up)
just waiting to be juiced
- 1/2 red pepper (cut up to fit in juicer tube)
-  about 3-5 carrots depending on size (I get organic - no peeling necessary)
- kale juice or about 5-8 phone size pieces
- slice of ginger ( I get the big root at the store and just slice off a piece the size of a quarter - no peeling - I really like ginger though). 

Grind it through and serve over ice - I like it cold!  
I will add a starfruit for my husband if I have it on hand (which I rarely do - who buys star fruit?? Joe does that's who - he loves that dang starfruit).

My second recipe is really a smoothie - with kale.

- Glob of plain greek yogurt
- Glob of all natural peanut butter
- Some almond milk
- A banana
 - Kale juice

- I use my handheld mixer and drink for breakfast usually.  You could add egg whites too or wheat germ or flax or other fruits. You literally can not taste the kale at all - it is the weirdest thing - I think banana and peanut butter dominate. But the smoothie is bright green.  

Anyone have a simple juice recipe?  I hate 20 ingredients, but I would still read it.  I do not like cucumber in my juice at all - anyone like cucumber juice? Bleh.  Would anyone wear a shirt that says "This Tired Girl is a Juice Bitch." if I made them?  Me neither. 

Original post - http://www.thetiredgirl.com/2014/03/juice-bitch-ii.html
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I was trying to make juice sound interesting so I added "bitch" to the end of it.  
The idea of making fresh vegetable and fruit juice every day is not a very Tired Girl activity at first glance.  But I want the good life, so I have to strive for things dammit.

Joe and I bought a centrifugal juicer years back and used it sometimes.  We loved the actual juice, but the whole process was ridiculous.  The work did not outweigh the juice and there was so much waste.  We sold our juicer in our garage sale and decided to try the masticating juicer instead. We did lots of research (e.g. I read about them on Amazon and Joe watched you tube videos comparing them) and then we headed to the Macy's Labor Day Sale.

This is what ours looks like. It seems to be cheaper on amazon
right now; we got ours super on sale at Macy's. 
I have a lot I can say about this so I will try and streamline it. 

The masticating juicer in short: 
 - requires WAY less clean up
 - is more expensive 
 - the juice produced can be kept for a week in your fridge
- way easier to juice kale
- just better  

The other (centrifugal) juicer is obviously: 
- less expensive
- horrible to clean up (in my Tired Girl opinion), 
- freaks me out with it's super sharp parts 
-  and the juice is only good for that day (for complicated sciencey reasons I won't go in to).

Our new masticating juicer is our new favorite family member. We have been meaning to watch the documentary "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead," but have been too busy living the juicing dream to watch movies (that is a lie).  We are not on a juice diet or a juice fast.  We eat food like normal humans.  This doesn't seem to be a blip for us - something fun to spend our energy on to pretend we are healthy until we get bored with it.  We seem to actually like it. 

Here are a few other things about it:

- I think it requires a smidge of planning - just like any other meal.

This is the centrifugal juicer we had. We had
never heard of the masticating juicer when we
bought this. We liked it at first and bought one
for my parents. The masticating one is much
better for Tired Girls.
- We still eat actual fruits and vegetables, but veggie juice tastes good and it feel likes you just drank a rainbow. We have simply added juice to our diet not replacing it with good eating.
- We still eat junk food - this isn't like a whole life THING - we are still normal people (did I already say this? Dammit we are NORMAL).
- For me it's all about kale - I couldn't sit down and eat two or three cups of kale a day, but I can juice it, mix it with carrot juice and guzzle it down, and get something good in the process.
- I hesitate to say this because it sounds goofballs, but I feel like drinking juice like this makes me feel a teeniny bit less tired.  

In my next juice post (because this one is too long already) I will discuss:

- Juicing for Tired Girls
- My favorite juice recipes
- How the heck to use kale
yum, unless this grosses you out, and then never mind
Original post - http://www.thetiredgirl.com/2014/01/juice-bitch.html
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One of my most showy (and delicious and crazy easy) meals to make is a standing rib roast.  It is a major Tired Girl Bang for your buck and a great meal to cook this time of year for guests or family, etc.  Here's what you do -

This image is from Food Network,
but of course mine looks practically the same. 
1) Save up a bit of money - this cut of meat is pricey.  It's worth it though and in the idea of "which do you have more of: time or money?" this will fall on the side of money.  It equals out in the end because you don't need much else to make this meal special and it takes no time at all.

2) If you don't see the "Standing Rib Roast" in the butcher section of your store you can ask the butcher, but during the holidays they usually go ahead and put these out.  Get as big a one as you can afford - the meat is so good you will glare at your guests in hopes they will leave so you can have more leftovers.

3)  The supplies needed are a roasting pan and a meat thermometer, kosher salt and olive oil.

4) Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and rinse and dry off the roast (it's important to dry it).  Then rub some olive oil all over it and some kosher salt.  Place the meat FAT side up in the roaster and put the meat thermometer in the thickest longest section - so it doesn't hit bone or fat or pop out the other side. I put it on the side and place it in longways and that way I can easily see the temp on the thermometer. 

This image is from Martha Stewart and The Tired Girl's
projects often get mistaken for Martha's handiwork so I feel
totally fine about using her image to describe my meal.
5) Cook in the oven about 26-32 minutes per pound (I plan for about 30 minutes). I sure hope your meat thermometer is working. I cook it until my thermometer registers about 130 degrees - medium rare. I pull it out of the oven, let it sit, and it will continue to cook to about 140 degrees.  I like meat medium rare and this cut is especially delicious with a lot of pink and juice. 

6) Carve it downways (that is probably a word) and don't eat the whole thing before serving.

I use a thermometer like this one
but am thinking of upgrading to digital
I make a horseradish sauce that I love to dip this roast in and it's yummy to put on sandwiches for later (if there is any left - - am I building this up too much?).  My sauce is: a glob of mayonnaise and a smaller glob of prepared horseradish sauce.  Mix it up - yum.

This roast is so good that anything you put with it would be great. French bread and a salad.  Mash potatoes and asparagus.  Just whatever - it's good.  And it feels special.  And it requires hardly any energy. 

Here is a thrilling chart - meat temperatures!! 

Original post - http://www.thetiredgirl.com/2013/12/a-killer-dinner-by-tired-girl.html

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Cooking chicken breasts was something I wanted to be good at (like a lot of things in life) and something I hadn't mastered (also MANY things in life - like ever having cash, making my hair look nice consistently, or picking up my shoes around the house). 

I am sure many of you rock chicken breasts, but for me they always came out tough or under done when baked, and there was no point in grilling them because, for details I won't bore you with, I wasn't good at it.

One day after giving up on becoming a senator or even changing out of my pj's I decided to learn how to grill chicken - and I did.  Now I am a grilling fool and as chicken breasts are better for me than my favorite - chicken thighs - and much better for me than Five Guys, I am sure Joe and I are already healthier.

I have streamlined a couple of these steps because when I often read recipes they use like 27 million pans and bowls and stuff - and I have other interests than washing 4 pans a night.

Here is what  I do -

1) Pull out chicken breasts in the a.m. and leave them wrapped in my sink. I buy the BOX of organic chicken breasts at Publix or Walmart.

Oh chicken in a box - how I love you and don't question the boxness of it all.

2) Once defrosted I lay them on a big cutting board and pound both sides so they are about the same width through out and kind of soften up - this is the messiest part - but worth it. 

This photo is blurry - sorry.

3) Then I clean some dishes somewhere (there is always something to wash) which warms up my tap water and I put some hot water in a glass dish that will hold the breasts.  I sprinkle salt - some, I don't know how much, and I open up 2 Truvia packages of sugar and sprinkle that in, swish it around with my finger and let dissolve. Then I lay the chick breasts in and set the timer on my microwave for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

Chicken bath - what a fascinating photo

4) When they are done soaking I heat up a pan -I have a grill pan that I like, but also is problematic so sometimes I just use my huge skillet.  By the way - I grill many breasts at a time -a post about batch chicken here.

5) The grill needs to be hot - so I put on medium high - with Smart Balance cooking spray and wait for it to get hot.  Then I yank the breasts out, put them in the skillet, set the timer for 4-6 minutes and then flip to the other side for the same time. 

6) I usually pull one off and cut in half to make sure they are cooked through.

Hooray for cooked meat.
7) these chicken breasts turn out evenly cooked, juicy and flavorful - great on their own, on a salad, shredded for tacos (you know I have a taco problem right?), etc.  They are actually good - not rubbery or dry like my chicken breasts in the past.

I wrote a post about "batch cooking"  also - so when you combine this tactic with cooking in bulk, hours and hours are saved and good food is the result. I think I hear harp music.

So I may fail in some areas, but I have conquered the heck out of cooking chicken breasts. As a Tired Girl it's vital to have healthy food ready to go.

What is something you taught yourself how to do?

I would rather eat these than chicken breast by the way, but whatever.

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I have a new strategy to take-on dinner.  I hate to use the word hate, but pretty much hate making dinner. For lots of boring reasons it just does not work for me, BUT obviously dinner is needed.

I had never heard of "batch" cooking ( I am not even positive that is the term), I just knew that often when I cook I double the recipe so I have extra - I wrote about it here.

I recently read a Facebook update from a friend, where she described cooking 10 pounds of ground beef at once and freezing it.  Lighbulb!  I had never contemplated freezing just cooked meat to be used later. You pull your cooked chicken breasts from the freezer, they thaw a few hours, and voila. Meat made, and the other stuff can get thrown together easily.

Not making dinner
I made my friend Della tell me every detail about her multi-pound hamburger cooking and freezing activity, but as you guessed and I didn't - it's pretty self explanatory. 

Hamburger works great as does ground turkey ofcourse, but lately I have embraced the bulk cooking of chicken breasts. I will discuss my chicken breast grilling success soon.

Playing cornhole not making dinner


In the meantime I just wanted to share a Tired Girl idea ripped from a friend's Facebook status that has really transformed dinner for me.

At an art museum not making dinner
When I cook chicken breasts, turkey or ground beef I cook double or triple and freeze. I don't let it hang out long in the freezer, just because I am so excited to know it's in there waiting for me - so I often use it all up fast and then make more - always trying to leave at least one frozen bag of meat in the there for true emergencies. 

ANYWAY - the point is I never thought of it, and someone did, and I took the idea, and my life is easier, and dinner is only hated a few times a week instead of every night.

If you would rather eat cereal for a night and get indoctrinated on "batch cooking" then google it and let your mind get blown. 

Or just do it in little bits like this.  Here are my ideas for using my frozen, cooked meat:

Tacos (my all time favorite recipe)
Taco salad
Taco soup (I have a taco problem)

At Toomer's Corner not making dinner
Chicken on salad -- (this is the main thing I have done so far, since it's summer and the chicken doesn't need to be heated -just shredded or chunked up on to greens - no cooking at all.  Hooray!)
Chicken in veggie pasta
LOTS of soup possibilities
and a bunch more I am too tired to think about.

Any one else have batch cooking ideas or tips? I wanted to name this post "Batch Bitch," but saved it for further down in the post. 

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I buy dinner the day I shop for food. There that's my whole post. 

Here is more though. When I worked away from my home, like a normal person, I would often go grocery shopping after work, when I was pooped.  Some days I'd have a list, because I would have an actual plan of meals, and sometimes I just screeched around corners, tipped food in my cart, and hoped for the best.

Even though it seems counter-intuitive, the days I grocery shop are the same days I also don't cook.  Am I surrounded by defrosted meat and other fresh and perishable items?  Yes.  Am I tired simply from doing two things in one day - working and shopping? Yes. Do I want to unload my food, cook and clean up when I get home?  Heck no. Rotisserie chicken and a bag of salad it is!! Or, sushi from the sushi counter it is!!  Or Publix sub sandwiches it is!!  Or, on days with less self-control, Publix fried chicken it is!! 

I reserve the laziest of meals - cereal, or pick-ups, or whatever - for days when I can't even leave my house for real food.  But on these shopping days, I am at the store already.  I just did awesome by buying healthy and high quality food for my family so I am calling the rest in, and calling it a day.

This idea ranks up there with the intellectual level of "jeans make an outfit."  But either,
 a) you never thought of this and so I helped you or 
 b)  you do this too and now we have each other or 
 c) you would never lower yourself to rotisserie chicken and now you can feel better than me which is awesome.

Here is a list of yummy sounding, medium healthy recipes using rotisserie chicken.   If you pick up one to eat hot and one for another night - these could be fun (as fun as making dinner can be).  
Southern Living Rotisserie Chicken Recipes - 

My two favorite bags of salad - I don't even think they are that healthy and yes they are in a bag. 

Anyone have a favorite prepared meal that you get at the store? 

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I have gained some weight. My secret exercises, six minutes on the treadmill and vacuuming hasn't been enough lately to fight my love of gluten-free brownies, gelato, and sitting around.  Quite simply the clothes I like to wear feel tight.  So I am doing Weight Watchers online.

I  had some success with Weight Watchers in the past and like it enough to try it again.  I like it because if I really want a cinnamon roll or if I am going out to dinner I can account for that in my points throughout the day.  I do not feel too deprived.  I sometimes feel hungry, because I have trained my body to want more than I need, but I don't feel deprived.

I don't have anything too interesting to say about this, but just thought I would share my review of Weight Watchers and weight loss.

When I first signed up I got some kind of 3 months for the price of one or something, but now I pay $18 a month for access to the site and tracking capabilities.

I like being able to put in my exact meals (brands, etc)  and amounts and learn the point value associated with them. I  am often surprised at how many points some foods have or don't have.  The good thing about WW is once you use it enough, you have an idea about how many points certain things are.  So whether you are are consciously using WW that month or not, it does give you a concept.

I don't know if WW is really for Tired Girls as it absolutely takes more energy then I really want to use.  I have to THINK about what I am eating, ADD up stuff in my head, and TRACK on the computer, each meal.  Bleh.  But I believe studies have shown that when people keep a food diary they are healthier and more successful with their weight goals - and obviously all that stupid tracking is a diary of sorts.

It takes me a long time to gain weight. I happily put cinnamon rolls and beer in my mouth and when nothing happens for months I am not inspired to stop and then BAM! I'm 6 pounds up.  Ugh.  So the same goes for the loss - it takes me a long time of being conscious of it to lose anything - sometimes I think how well I have done the last three days and I am sure I will see big results on the scale - ofcourse I do not.  It took me about 3 weeks to lose any weight (according to my temperamental scale, the first time I did it, but I did feel less puffy earlier I guess.)

Oprah says to not weigh yourself for a LONG time (like a month or so) if you are working to lose weight - if you lose weight according to the scale you will possibly feel like you are doing great and slack off a little, if you don't see any weight loss you will get discouraged and slack off a little.  What this says about our psyche I am not sure, but for me, I think she is right. 

The key is to finding what works for you.

So, I am working on WW and some times being good at it and sometimes not, and sometimes pretending like cinnamon rolls don't count for any points, and sometimes accidentally not eating anything much most of the day to save up for an evening event, and then feeling like crap and realizing the point is not to use all your points on one meal and not eat otherwise, but to eat SENSIBLY - oh duh.  
This is not my dog, he belongs to a friend. I like his attitude.

 So Weight Watchers is not perfect, not for everyone and not a lot of fun, but I am trying it.

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My mother-in-law has been gluten free since before it was cool. Eating certain things made her sick, so she didn't do it, and now that there are lots of "gluten free" products we have enjoyed trying some of the items. 

She made these brownies for me and we were both pleased at how delicious they were.  Simply wonderful.  They taste like a homemade, from scratch, brownie - nothing from a mix.  These are not health food in anyway though. They will blow weight watchers points for the day - but they do not have gluten in them, so I figure if I am going to eat something bad for me at least it can not be AS bad.  Maybe I will die slower and later.

My mother-in-law also ices these brownies using the recipe from the Hershey's container - which is also delicious - but I try not to add that extra layer of sugar if I can help it. Maybe for a special occasion or event.

The times when I have had to be on restrictive diets I have tried many of the alernative items at the health food store and healthy sections of Publix and Wal-Mart. There have been a few good finds, but generally speaking I prefer the real thing to the alternative.  I know quinoa will save the world, but I would go hungry  if that was my only option. Bleh.  I tried to do it, but I could not. 

I have added these poorly executed photos to show you -
I sampled these before the photo shoot.

This is a Tired Girl recommended product because it truly tastes good and is ever so slightly better for you, because of the lack of gluten. And this way you don't have to waste time and money wondering about some of these items on your store shelves. 

My Publix carries some Hodgson Mills products (do NOT try the buckwheat pancake mix, unless you like things that taste horrible), but it did not carry these brownies. My local Wal-Mart does carry it, on the baking aisle, in the "healthy/alternative/organic section.

Be aware that with a lack of gluten there is also a lack of them staying fresh.  This wasn't a problem for me as I ate them all in the first two days.  So these brownies would be a good thing to take someplace so they can all get eaten up at once.

If you want to combine something mostly bad for you with something else mostly bad for you I suggest the Talenti line of gelato.  

This combo is especially great if you are going to friends' house for dinner or a party and want to bring a dessert,  OR if you want to sit alone on your couch and pig out.  I like to do both.  

My three favorite flavors are these, but it's like picking which hundred dollar bill you prefer -they are all great.  And also there may be a chance that this gelato is all natural or something, I don't know, who cares. 
Chocolate and peanut butter of course. 

Not generally a big coconut fan, but this is a yes.

Just yes again.

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Foil is your friend, although unfortunately it is not exactly the Earth's friend. I am a friend to the Earth in so many way, but not when it comes to foil.
I just can't quit you, foil. I use it almost every evening for dinner. It allows me to not wash a pan (so I'm saving water right.. right??) I line cookie sheets or brownie style pans to cook items of dinner on. After dinner I will wrap up the leftover meat or items in the foil, stash in the fridge and voila no pan to wash and no plasticware to dirty with leftovers either.

Sometimes the foil is unusable to wrap up food items and so it gets thrown out right away. I do a rain dance (silently) and think of something else to recycle as I chuck it in the trashcan and relish in the possible freedom of my evening.  Original post -
These are home made pizzas on foiled cookie sheets - these pizzas photograph better when they have been

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Cooking dinner sometimes looks like fun, if I accidentally watch the Food Network
(it always makes me hungry though, so I skip it). I love the idea of pouring a glass of wine,
putting on some music and having a movie montage dinner-making session with myself. But
I am tired and usually try to make dinner that uses as few pans as possible. Less pans equals less
clean up which equals more free time in the evening.

Here is my go-to dinner when I just can't handle much:

rectangle or square brownie style pan

foil (i just can't quit you foil)

defrosted chicken breasts or thighs (or whatever I have)

BBQ sauce (I use King's in a little jug from Publix, but I think it's local to Florida)

fresh vegtables ( I buy the kind already cut up– more $ but less time)

brown rice

I use brown rice because my husband LOVES rice and this is at least healthier for us, but
 it takes about 50 minutes on the stove. Rice and I don't get along that well (at all - we
almost hate each other so I haven't mastered the microwave. I cook on the stove. Please
feel free to send me your tired girl tips for brown rice in the microwave. ) I get the rice
started – I have to set the timer for the rice or I will forget.

Turn oven on to 350 degrees. Line the pan with foil, rinse off the chicken and dry
(I use hand towels that I wash, but you could use papertowel) place in pan,
pour the BBQ sauce on breasts and kind of swish the chicken in it - both sides.
Throw it in the oven (even while it's pre-heating).

I rinse off pre-cut brocoli (more expensive, but easy), green beans in the bag,
or asparagus (I cut off the ends) or spinach in the bag, and put in a glass dish
(no plastic in the microwave - no thank you on the cancer).

Timing is important when cooking but we don’t care that much in our house.
If the rice finishes before anything else it sits on the stove with lid on. Once it is done
I scoop some butter into it and then right before I serve it I moosh it all together –
melted butter and rice. When I pull the chicken out I start the veggies in the
microwave – 3 to 4 minutes. The chicken can sit and I can get out plates, etc.

Cleanup is minimal and aside form the inevitable chemicals and sugar in the
BBQ sauce it's a pretty healthy meal and one I can do practically asleep or while
 maneuvering through other projects. Please send me your most tired, go-to recipes
 at tiredgirl.notes@gmail.com
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No knife, no cutting board, no clean up. Years ago my cousin gave
 everyone a hand held cheese slicer for Christmas. We are very particular about how
 our cheese is sliced in our house so it didn’t get much use at first. Then one day I
was trying to slice cucumbers super thin and uniformly for cucumber sandwiches for
a baby shower I was helping with.

I found this cheese slicer in my drawer, and turned it upside down so the curved
area and slicey part faces up (see photos). I ran my cucumber over it a hundred
times at a hundred miles per hour – I was hooked!! It is basically one of those
mandolin slicers but does not require a million parts or much clean up. I cut A LOT
 of things with it – especially for making salads (which I hated in the past because
you had to wash and cut and all of that) – but really I slice tons of stuff. 

I hold whatever item I am cutting over the bowl, dish, pan, etc. and slice away. 
Then rinse off or stick in the utensil section of the dishwasher – hardly any
clean up! I seriously recommend it. I have included some awkward looking photos
 I took and a link to amazon.com if anyone would like to see one better (or better
 yet – buy one and you’ll have less wrinkles, be less tired and spend more time
 doing fun things instead of dishes.)

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Another way that I double up is that I often double recipes
 – especially of soups or casseroles, but even just chicken thighs (my favorite).

I can freeze the other half if appropriate and in a couple of weeks bust this
 “new” old meal out again. I try and cook enough for two nights – even if I
don’t double the recipe. Two nights of chicken, two nights of chili, whatever
it’s a twofer. Two meals and only one night of cooking. My husband is usually
 so pleased that we have a cooked meal and not cereal or something that he is
great with this possibly monotonous eating schedule.

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I try and avoid awkward dish moments at the end of any party or event. I do not like having to look through someone’s cabinets or scour the room for a Ziploc to dump any leftover food into so I can take my pretty tray home with me. I also don't want to leave my tray and take the chance that I will: a) never see my tray again or b) have to call and ask to come pick up my pretty tray – both make me feel icky so I try and skip it.

My goal is to have my food be such a big hit that there are no leftovers and I can just pick up my plate and head home. Regardless though of the over-all popularity of my food I just don’t really want to go there with dishes. I try to only bring foods that can be packaged in a disposable way or buy something cheap and cute that I don’t mind leaving at someone’s house or at an event.

Food brought on disposable items benefit both me and the host (who wants to wash a million dishes that don’t belong to you and then pass them all back out again or have the guilt hang over you that you STILL have Nicole’s plate – aaaaaaahhh - not me). I buy cute paper plates at Marshalls/TJMaxx/Target – one pack of 10 high quality, charmingly decorated, full size plates are about $3.50 and last me awhile (because I don’t actually leave my house if I can help it). When I make a casserole for a family with a new baby I buy the foil casserole tins w/ the lid – bake it and deliver in that– they throw away when they are done – everyone is happy.

Deviled eggs on a pretty paper plate -- preventing an akward moment - I can walk away from any leftover eggs and the plate.

If it’s a really good friend then either you can bring your item in a Ziploc, dig through their cabinets for a pretty bowl to use, or you can bring your own plate and know that when you see them 6 more times that week they will either bring it to you or you don’t mind asking for it. Those are the friends we all want to exclusively have.

If anyone is still awake reading this then I have one last thing to say – when I do have people to my house – that is the time I pull out my pretty stuff or fun chip and dip bowl or tray shaped like a gator (for my husband).

This small thing allows me to spend more time elsewhere - like perfecting another dip to add to my repertoire (I wanted to use that word again!) or sitting on the couch doing nothing.
Original post - http://www.thetiredgirl.com/2012/12/i-try-andavoid-awkward-dish-moments-at.html
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 A-list foods to create with minimal energy are a necessity for this Tired Girl.  I hate go on about this repertoire thing (especially since there are no good synonyms so I just keep using that word), but not only do I have a list of gifts that work for me I also have a list of foods.  These are items I have perfected, can make in my sleep and chances are I have all of the ingredients for - at any given moment.  Here are the categories of fav foods I have to serve or bring (this list is in my in my head so when a pot luck type sign-up sheet is passed around I know exactly what I want to write down):
An easy and yummy dip
A cookie and brownie recipe
A casserole
A yummy salad
Favorite cheese and cracker combo
A favorite fruit to serve or bring
A low maintenance appetizer
I also have a list of go-to items I can purchase that I know are yummy and I am mostly proud to show up with.  These are the reliable items that people are happy to eat when you have run out of time, but have to bring something somewhere – this is the type of  occasion where you have more money than time (http://www.thetiredgirl.com/2012/12/doyou-have-more-money-or-more-time-this.html)   and to make up for the fact that I am bring something store bought I have picked out a decadent or gourmet item that is fun and no one can turn away from.  I want MY food to get eaten all up at any occasion – isn’t there a weird pride in that??  It’s called “empty-plate syndrome” and I have it.  These trustworthy items are easy for me (mostly because I have made them so many times) and typically a big hit. 
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You know what they say about sex and pizza – even when it’s bad it’s still pretty good (true, or not, as a lady I will not discuss sex on a blog). This quote came to mind when my beautiful cousin wrote to me about her favorite Tired Girl “go-to” evening meal. Pizza of course – even when it’s bad – it’s still pretty good. Here are her words:
For a quick dinner, you can never go wrong with pizza. I'm not talking about delivery, nor am I talking about a piece of cardboard that costs $1 in the freezer section. Cristin and I have discovered that you can pretty much put anything on a pizza and have it be amazing. Two wheat tortillas with a little cheese in between, baked for about 5 min is the perfect canvas for your artistic creation. The usual italian theme is a cinch: some spaghetti sauce, typical pizza toppings, cheese, DONE. However, we have discovered that cleaning out the fridge and putting WHATEVER you find on there is quite satisfactory. Leftover taco stuff? Slather on some taco sauce and throw it on there! Even avocado slices taste good on a pizza. Leftover mashed potatoes? Spread it on and top with green onions and some cheese, BOOM-- twice-baked bliss. We were so enthralled by the possibilities that we made an amazing Thanksgiving-esque pizza. We wanted it to be vegan so we made some cashew cream for the sauce (look up cashew cream...you won't regret it) and roasted some butternut squash, onion, raisins, and apple chunks for the topping. We sprinkled on a little nutmeg and some vegan cheese and it was a few slices of heaven. That right there proves that you really can put anything on a pizza. Cristin and I (fellow Tired Girls) have made tortilla pizza our go-to dinner. Within 15 min, you have the ability to put to use your personal creativity, and then eat it.
 I love this Tired Girl idea. I plan to add this pizza meal to my rotation.
At my house, my most sleepy dinner is called “pick-ups”, and basically I tell my husband to pick up and eat whatever he likes – it’s every man and Tired Girl for themselves night – clean out the fridge night – a night where you mingle split pea soup, with a chicken leg, a leftover BBQ rib, and day old brown rice. This pizza idea could focus the fridge cleaning out process and wrap it in cheese.
Anyone else want to share their – I’m so pooped I could cry – dinner?

Original post - http://www.thetiredgirl.com/2013/01/you-know-what-they-say-about-sex-and.html

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I love Taco Soup -- update!! My friend April sent this wonderful idea - a new take on taco soup for those of you master crock potters out there.  I think the chicken would be yummy (chicken absorbs flavors so well) and healthy AND no defrosting (I am terrible at remembering to defrost).  Here are her words about Taco Soup:  

We make this all the time, we love it! Because I'm so lazy, I throw it all in the crock pot in the morning, and throw in one or two frozen chicken breasts in place of the meat and a packet of taco seasoning (easy). And, I don't have to wash a pan until the soup is all gone. It takes me less than 5 min. I haven't tried the ranch, but I'm actually making it Friday, so I might throw that in for fun :). 

I love the crock pot! Sometimes even the idea of browning the meat it exhausting to me. Here is the recipe I use, but you can sort of do whatever with it. I also found that at Wal Mart,( no political statement here please;), you can find a jar of chopped onion for 50 cents, which saves you from even cutting up the onion and messing up a perfectly good clean knife and cutting board. It's on the bottom shelf of the spice aisle, usually hiding. I don't measure spices, just throw in a pack of taco seasoning and again, frozen chicken breasts work just fine.  http://www.millermusingsblog.com/2010/09/crockpot-chicken-tortilla-soup.html

I love Taco Soup. I love it because I want to lick the bowl it’s so good. I love it because it’s mostly good for me. I love it because the ingredients can pretty much always be on hand. I love it because it’s easy. I love it because once I make it we can eat it all week long.  It is – in my Tired Girl world – a five for one.  A five-fer. 

I am going to give the abbreviated recipe (the one I actually use) and then at the bottom I will tell the modifications you can make. I like to make this pretty hot/spicy lately. 

1-2 lbs ground beef or ground turkey or crumbled meat-like tofu
onion powder (too much for this TIred Girl  to cut up an onion)
1 envelope ranch dressing
1 envelope taco seasoning
2 cans rotel (I get the “hot”)
1 can pinto beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can cream style corn
1 large can pureed tomatoes
Cayenne pepper
Some water maybe

Brown the meat (while it’s browning I open all cans),
mix in taco packet and ranch dressing packet and simmer for about 5 minutes (ignore that these things contain MSG – just let it go). 
sprinkle in onion powder (too tired to measure things)
dump in cans – I do not drain – I use the liquid in the cans to create the liquid for the soup
sprinkle in the cayenne (maybe too hot for little one's so consider skipping if serving to kids)
mix it all up
let it cook – low bubble, boil – for a while. Sometimes I cook it right up until I serve it and sometimes I turn it off, put the lid on and just let it sit.  SOMETIMES I cook it the same night I cook another easy dinner - with the plans to serve the soup the next night.  It tastes even better the next day and then I have one night of cooking for a whole week of just reheating.

If I am feeling extra skinny then a dollop of sour cream, some cheese and or taco chips are good on top.  If I am not feeling skinny I just eat it as is and it is still yummy.

I get organic meat and all organic canned beans/veggies – this is how I justify the MSG. I often substitute things in to the soup based on what I have – maybe different kinds of beans, sometimes a can of chickpeas, etc.  Whatever. The actual recipe calls for green pepper ( I don’t like) and canned hominy (I skip that).

I do not wait for cold weather for this – I make it all the time – at least once a month. I borrowed these photos from the internet - I included the link to the other recipes if you are interested in variations.

This is a Tired Girl must-have.  

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And another favorite recipe – Roasted chicken thighs.  When you say something has been “roasted” (not simply cooked) it is immediately BETTER.

Preheat oven to 400, then line a brownie pan with foil (I just can’t quit you foil).  Rinse off 2 packets of chicken thighs (any kind – bone in, bone out, skin on – doesn’t matter).  
I dry them off (important) and place them in lined pan.  
Drizzle olive oil on them and sprinkle kosher salt (any salt will do – I like kosher salt) and then take your hand and rub the olive oil and salt all over all of them – both sides – make sure they are coated.

Wash your hands well and throw those babies in the oven, even if it isn’t heated up yet.  
It probably is better to wait till it’s preheated (probably makes them better or something), but I don’t want to wait so I just put them in.  

Set a timer for 30 minutes (disclaimer: I am terrible with numbers – never remember what temp I cook on or how long – sometimes I make it up as I go each time).  20-30 minutes is a good enough time to check on the thighs, but probably will cook longer - maybe - I don't know!

I start my water to boil for brown rice (I actually do this while I prep the chicken - brown rice takes about 50 minutes) and rinse off pre-cut veggies, put them in a glass dish, sprinkle salt on them and set in the microwave ready to cook when the time comes. 

I neaten up the kitchen, clear off the table and then I can cruise off and look at my mail (ugh!), call a friend, put in a load of laundry, sit there and stare of into space, or shop for fabric online on fabric.com.

The timer will tell me when I have to do something else.  The chicken will probably be done before the brown rice, but it can just sit and cool a bit. Once I pull the chicken out I cook my veggies in the microwave, and start making up plates.  

Clean up is minimal and taste and health are maximum for this one.

Raw chicken is not a great look - should have taken the picture when they were cooked and actually appetizing. 

Original Post - http://www.thetiredgirl.com/2013/02/roasted-chicken-thighs_6.html
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I have not mastered the crockpot, but many of you Tired Girls have.  I peruse the many crockpot recipe options and after way over-thinking it, I pick a recipe to try, work too hard to create it, and then I am disappointed by the taste / effort ratio. 

I want to be better at it though.  I assume there are many wonderful and bad for you recipes that do work – my challenge was to find some that:
1)  have minimal steps and super easy (no pre-cooking of meat or crap like that)
2) taste good
3) not absolutely, terribly, fattening (a medium amount of bad-for-me is okay, but I am not going to work too hard for bad-for-me, as I could just have my husband stop at Five Guys if I want to go the super easy, tasty and fattening route.)

Fellow Tired Girl Vanessa, sent me this recipe that she has made for herself .  I have not tried it, but it genuinely sounds good, easy and healthy.  

Vanessa got  this recipe from this girls website – if you have time check out all her freezer crock pot recipes.  I like the way this girl thinks.  The link to the blog: http://www.ringaroundtherosies.net/  ( I am interested in her 10 meals in 10 minutes section as well – have to read that later).

The recommended recipe from Tired Girl Vanessa:

Cilantro Lime Chicken with black beans and corn 

6 chicken breasts

3 Tbs olive oil

2 limes, juiced

2 cups cilantro

1 large bag of frozen corn (or two smaller bags)

4 minced garlic cloves

1 finely chopped red onion

2 cans of black beans, rinsed

2 tsp cumin or chipotle powder

salt/pepper to taste

Split everything into two containers. shake it up, seal, label and put in the freezer. Instructions for Container: cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours, serve with hot tortillas or tostitos. Dress with sour cream, guacamole, and/or cheese
Cilantro can be an acquired taste so you could easily leave that out and it still sounds like it would be good.  

Please email me your favorite - not too fattening – most Tired Girl crockpot recipes or tips. Do it.  tiredgirl.notes@gmail.com
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Having friends over for dinner usually sounds like fun, a week in advance, and then the day or two before it sounds hard to get everything done and look and feel sparkling* as well.

My husband and I are famous (only to ourselves) for deciding the day of, or the day before, to invite people over for the evening.  We are terribly wonderfuly spontaneous people!! (No we aren't). 

We do not consciously wait till the last minute, so we have an excuse if our yard is weedy, but rather it is at the last minute that we see a possibly clean house, an easy trip to the store and an evening open itself up in front of us to entertain. 

Fellow Tired Girl Christina sent me her words on entertaining.  All very brilliant and Tired Girly.  If you are having guests over anytime here are her words to consider:

-I always serve wine/drinks right away, the more people drink, the better whatever I serve tastes in their mouths. What I lack as a chef, I make up for as bartender.

-If I really have zero time to cook I cut out side items and make up for it with easy appetizer and bread.  My blueprint for a hassle-free dinner is: easy appetizer, bread, salad, protein, easy dessert with coffee.

- Super simple appetizer is a good cheese (maybe a brie or an aged sharp cheese), some crackers and some jam. The more i provide in appetizer, the less I have to worry about with sides dishes.

- Bread can be pretty filling, and easier to prepare than cooking a starch.  I get a baguette from Publix or wherever, slice it up in a basket and pour some olive oil on a plate with Italian seasoning added to the middle of the olive oil pool.  Could not be simpler.  Much faster than baked potatos.

-Dessert  - when I have no time it is a mixture of berries with some whipped cream on top.  Healthy and EASY and FAST.  Or I get a dessert from Publix, no shame in that.

The real message, in my opinion, is that when we have people over to our homes they want to be with US, not watching me mash potatoes while they talk to each other. Less time working and more time with friends, and lots and lots of bread -booze and bread.

*I have borrowed the term sparkling from my friend Ellen - who often asked if I felt "sparkling" at work in the mornings.  Sparkling is a fun way to look and feel especially if it's real. 

Our dinners are usually so casual - I set out dishes and stuff and we do buffet style.

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Me and wine don't get a long.  I know that it's proper grammar to say something like: I don't get a long with wine or something, but I like the way the other sounded better.  Like we have super a tumultuous relationship.

The deal is I like the way wine tastes. I do not like the way wine makes me feel.  So even though it's fun and yummy to cruise around my house with a big old glass of wine, order wine and sound like a know-it all at dinner, and accept a glass of wine at a friends house - I don't do any of these things anymore.

When I drink wine - even one small glass - I feel like crap, will probably cry about something later in the evening, and then will not be able to sleep that night. Quick, sign me up for never doing any of that.  

I have a friend that got a face lift.  When our mutual friend saw her - not knowing she had done this - she said to me - "Have you seen Jane*???" She looks sooo rested." 

I want to not get a face lift (anytime soon anyway) and just look jealous-inducing rested - so even though it is un-cool - I have happily given up wine to be less of a Tired Girl.  

Gin and tonics and I get along great though, so I'm not a total flat tire.

I guess I am not this kind of classy anymore - using the word classy immediately feels like the opposite though -  so I am okay with it.
just fun - 

*my friend's name is not really Jane - her face (lift) looked awesome though - not at all like she had work done - just truly rested, and she's a kind and wonderful person so there's that too to know about her. 

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