Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Croque Monsieur

You may have noticed that the sandwich featured above is not real. It is, in fact, a cartoon picture of a sandwich featured in the UK brand T-shirt line, conceptTshirts.

The reason this sandwich is not real is because my (real) sandwich was eaten hastily and with fervor in the middle of a 16-hour work day. Needless to say I worked through lunch over a keyboard and did not have time to spruce up for photographs. Tuesdays are my production day for the newspaper, which is why I originally planned for Tuesday to be leftover spaghetti day instead of a "real" meal day.

In essence, Croque Monsieur is a mix between a ham and cheese sandwich and a grilled cheese sandwich. It's delicious and the ingredients are cheap. The ingredients used for this particular lunch cost me a grand total of $12. However, that was for an entire baguette as well as all the deli ham and cheese. Those ingredients would stretch me to probably three reasonable Croque Monsieurs, so we'll say this meal cost me $4. That price can go up or down depending on the quality of the deli meat and cheese you are purchasing.

I generally like to use both muenster and Swiss cheese on mine, but there are many choices out there. The next time I make one, I will take a photo and swap out the T-shirt design for my own creation.

I also like to use a sliced baguette for mine, and I will often serve it as an open faced sandwich to cut back on all the bread. You can use any type of bread you like, of course, since there are lots of healthy and tasty sliced breads out there.

For my purposes, I did need to plan ahead a bit. I baked it the night before in the oven so that the cheese melted to the proper consistency, and then reheated it in the toaster oven. I've never tried reheating a Croque Monsieur before--it's obviously better fresh, but it wasn't too bad. I imagine it would be worse if you tried reheating in a microwave, because part of what makes this sandwich stand above the rest is its crunch.

It also goes well with french onion soup--yum!


Monday, December 13, 2010

A flimsy (yet tasty!) luncheon launch

Today was the first day of my brown bag project at work--aka the project where I bring a nutritious and delectable lunch with me to work so as to eat healthy and save money. I accomplished both of those things today, but with probably the easiest and least exciting meal possible: leftover spaghetti. Did it taste good? Yes. Did it provide me with much-needed midday carbs? Yes. Did it showcase my culinary prowess, of which there is some, but only a little? No.

Still, it got the job done, and cheaply. I had alternative plans for my "very first meal," but when it came to last night's dinner, Boyfriend Man had something to say about the cook time. He was hungry immediately and preferred pasta to whatever meal would require that he wait an additional twenty minutes. So I shuffled this week's meal plan a bit to accommodate him--which, by the way, is exactly why I didn't publish my meal plan yesterday, for moments such as these which I KNOW will happen.

Where this meal is lacking in originality, it makes up in cost effectiveness. Between the spaghetti noodles and the sauce components, the ingredients for this meal cost a grand total of $6, and since we ate half of it last night and I ate a quarter of it today, that means my lunch was $1.50. Score. Snacks today consisted of almonds, a clementine, and bell pepper slices to complement my grain-filled meal.

There is no preparatory strategy for today. Just reheat, serve, and enjoy. However, when it comes to meal planning strategies overall, I always like to keep noodles and sauces in stock in my kitchen for last-minute situations. It's always nice to have some pasta and garlic bread on hand when you need a quick and easy meal. I generally make sure I have a pasta dish once each week.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

On the Eve of the Challenge

Whelp, there they are... this week's groceries. The first day of my brown bag project begins tomorrow and I had to do my grocery shopping today. That meant planning this week's lunch and dinner menus with preparation and leftovers in mind. It's going to be delicious and scrumdiddlyumptious.

Today was also my first opportunity to deal with the desire to do nothing on a Sunday--something I'm sure I'll battle on more than one occasion in the future. And then there was the blizzard that hit us... no big deal. So I trekked to my car and uncovered it from a foot of snow, thawed my door (yes, it was ACTUALLY frozen shut), and rolled to my local grocery store. I also sacrificed 25 minutes of Nanny McPhee to accomplish said shopping.

I did save my receipt, so I'll attempt to calculate the price value of my lunches, grocery-wise, so I can tell if all this delicious labor is actually saving me money.

Of course, there's still work to be done and prep cooking to do for the week. So until tomorrow, cheers!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Butterbeer: Most Epic of Passes EVER

My friend Stephane and I made butterbeer at work today. It was epic, and it was awesome, and it was awesomely epic. That is all. Now go watch an ABC Family HP marathon.

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Brown Bag Lunches: Pass, Yodel Dog: Fail

Oh brown bag lunches... how you remind me of my childhood. 

In an extremely optimistic attempt to maintain my healthy eating lifestyle without hampering my ability to pay rent, I've decided to bypass purchasing lunches altogether and bring a brown bag lunch with me to work each day. Not only is it extremely expensive to buy lunch downtown each day, it is also hard to keep track of what I'm putting in my face and whether or not my meal has quality ingredients.

I intend to document my progress on a new blog with much less snark and much more honesty. I will still be posting here for those more entertaining/rant-ish posts, but I'll also be posting over there. I will let you know when it is set up--which I intend to do tomorrow. I've decided that documenting the endeavor made more sense on a fresh page dedicated to the daily trials and tribulations of my efforts. And, oh, there will be tribulations. So many tribulations.

For one, a brown bag lunch requires planning ahead. This means waking up earlier to pack it, or fitting those duties into my nighttime routine the day before. It also means adjusting my shopping lists and taking advantage of store sales.

I will take pictures of my finished lunch masterpieces each day, and for the more complicated lunches I may include recipes and video/photo instructions as well.

Happy eating.


Now back to Pass Fail Meter duties....

Yodel Death Dog: Fail

Shame on this canine. Shame, shame...


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Friday, December 3, 2010

Disney Princess Politics: Fail

The new Disney movie Tangled has added a fresh face to the Disney princesses: Rapunzel herself, voiced by Mandy Moore. This got me thinking...

Has anyone ever wondered why Alice is missing? You know, the lovable and carefree wee teenager who stumbles through the rabbit hole in perhaps the most interesting Disney adaptation ever?

She is not what has been dubbed a "Disney Princess," which includes 10 different characters beginning with the first literal princess in 1937: Snow White. That black-haired beauty with the high-pitched trills was followed by Cinderalla in 1950, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) in 1959, Ariel (The Little Mermaid) in 1989, Belle (Beauty and the Beast) in 1991, Jasmine (Aladdin) in 1992, Pocahontas in 1995, Mulan in 1998, Tiana (The Princess and the Frog) in 2009, and Rapunzel (Tangled) in 2010. That means certain characters, including Tinkerbell, Alice, Wendy (Peter Pan) and Megora (Hercules) were deemed unfit to rule, so to speak.

According to the knowledge of Wikipedia, Alice from Alice in Wonderland was excluded for unknown reasons. She is even included in some of the less official Disney Princess appearances alongside the princess crew, but continues to receive the official shaft. I don't think royal heritage or marrying into a royal family is the reason, or at least it shouldn't be now, because Mulan qualifies under neither. My guess is that Alice would screw up the Disney Princess art by being a full head or two shorter than the rest of the long-limb ladies. Interestingly enough, she also is the only Disney heroine to not dabble in romance. Even Tinkerbell has the hots for SOMEONE (sorry Tink, Pan likes Wendy)... but not Alice. That isn't to say the real Disney Princesses don't have real motivations and whatnot, but they all seem to walk a picture perfect line between being independent show stoppers while also attracting and pursuing a man--who in the end is included in the final shot of the movie, smooching the lips off the Disney Princess. The only exception to the kissing rule is Mulan (again), and I have to guess it's because Disney decided to pay some respect to the culture of the characters.

So while I love Disney movies to death and will continue to keep my VHS versions stored behind lock and key, I also continue to believe that there are some real curmudgeons working behind the scenes at that place. But hey, at least they've committed to including more races in the lineup. Of the past five official Disney princesses, four of them were non-white characters. Now all we need is an Eskimo princess and a Latin princess--then our social experiment will be complete!

"Curiouser and curiouser..." -Alice in Wonderland

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