I made it through my November Challenge. At the end of 30 days, I prepared a total of 36 “new to me” recipes. I found this challenge to be…well…challenging. I’m busy running a household and raising three teenagers and trying to keep a puppy from demolishing every scrap or paper or piece of plastic he finds.
I knew that I would always need a super simple back-up plan for a recipe on the days when life got in the way…and it did. Soccer season was still in full effect for part of the month and other things come up as they often do.
So I had smoothies fill that void.
I love smoothies so I wasn’t disappointed when I needed them to be my back-up, but I also didn’t want them to consume the majority of the month. In the end, I made 8 smoothie recipes. That is a little over 22% of the total of recipes prepared. I was happy that it fell way below 50% because going into the month, I thought there was a distinct possibility that it could be that high.
As promised, here are the final four recipes that I prepared. I intentionally did not prepare one smoothie. I have linked the recipes to my Pinterest account, which is where I stored them to easily find them on preparation day. I’ll share any substitutions that I made and how I felt about the overall recipe.
On with the remainder of the challenge!
At this point, I was really hunting down recipes that would use items that were in need of use from the fridge. My biggest issue with fresh spices and vegetables is trying to get them all used up before the rot. I am trying to be conscientious of not creating so much food waste. I had fresh spinach that needed to be used. I love spinach and artichoke dip so you’d think that I’d have made it myself prior to this. And after this, I likely will! The only substitution I made was that I had sliced mozzarella and swiss left from the chicken cordon bleu casserole that I had made. I placed it liberally across the top in place of the 1 cup of mozzarella. I knew that since it was being melted, the fact that it wasn’t shredded would not likely be a problem. The dip was amazing! I ate it with some pita chips that I had bought to go with the feta dip, but I bought Tostitos the next day (since they are my preferred chip to dip) to eat the leftovers.
Assessment: Yummy win!
I needed to cook some chicken as well as use more spinach. We eat a lot of chicken so I am always looking for tasty ways to cook it. I had fresh tarragon and oregano and parsley that needed used, so I substituted that in place of the rosemary and thyme. I served it with mashed potatoes. It was so good. I don’t know why I don’t make gravies more often!
Yes, I am still working in that butternut squash. I thought it might be fun to do a dessert. I am a lover of brownies. In fact, as a teen, I would have my mom make me brownies instead of a cake. Miss Sunshine has followed in my footsteps. This recipe was quite frustrating as everything was given in grams. I understand why they did it. Apparently cups in the U.S. and the U.K. are not the same. I am not the type of baker who owns a scale.
The comments said that you could find conversions on google. I could not find one for the puree. At that point it was too late to abandon the project (had I not been doing this challenge, I would have abandoned it). I ended up using a cup of butternut squash puree. There’s a strong possibility that it should have closer to 1/2 cup, but to be honest, by this point I didn’t care. I’m not 100% sure what “plain” flour is, but I used unbleached all-purpose flour. My conversion was 2/3 cup (pre-sifted). I used 1/2 cup (pre-sifted) unsweetened cocoa powder. I did sift the cocoa, flour, cinnamon, and baking powder. Can salt really be sifted? I had poured into the sifter without thinking. It did not sift. I measured the cocoa and flour pre-sifted because that way is less time consuming and I already had doubts about the recipe.
So how was it?
Surprisingly, they tasted fine. A little too dense. I added vanilla ice cream to the top of it. Would I make them again? No.
I had some more chicken to cook and our house is almost never without bacon. All I can say is that these were Ahh…mazing! And so easy too!
Assessment: Total Win!
…and that’s a wrap on this Challenge.
So what did I learn?
I learned that food preparation and meal planning is time consuming. I already knew that, but that was why I was tending to fall back on spaghetti and tacos as my easy fix. I did find quite a few recipes that I will begin to make on a more regular basis. Even a few that were quick, yet added variety instead of always heading to those fall back meals.
Unlike my October Challenge where I am still meditating daily, or even my September Challenge where I am still conscientiously trying to reduce my plastics consumption, this challenge will take a much smaller role moving forward.
I still plan to make “new to me” recipes, but the pressure of it daily made me sometimes choose a recipe that I would not normally make. I feel better on a lower gluten diet and yet there were days that I chose to make pasta or a flour-filled dessert because I needed a new recipe for the day and that was the easiest one to create on that specific day. Had I not been challenging myself, I just would not have made a new recipe that day. There would have been more time to sift through recipes instead of settling.
The other side of that is that the challenge opened my eyes to so many new options and I found recipes that I’ve yet to make. I thought my grocery bill would skyrocket because I was buying so many fresh ingredients and some of the herbs and spices were not cheap. Yet my bill stayed the same, even perhaps slightly lower, and we were eating less processed foods. A win all around.
For me this was an arduous challenge, but one that forced growth.
And growth is the journey that I am on.
Let your light shine!