Grocery Shopping

I’m a prideful person. That being said, it takes me awhile to admit that I have a problem, or that I am afraid of something, or that I need help.

I started this blog with the lofty hopes of being able to cook for myself. How many recipes have you seen? Approximately 1. While I have strived at the whole trying-new-foods thing, I have fallen flat on my face at my primary goal: cooking. Recently, I’ve been asking myself why?

Then, the answer hit me: I fear shopping for groceries.

(Photo Cred)

Sounds ridiculous, right? Just saying it out loud makes me a little bit embarrassed. This can’t be a common problem.

Unfortunately, this is not a joke. I picked out dozens of recipes from various cookbooks and online sites that I want to try, but every time the thought of cooking crosses my mind, the feat of grocery shopping for the dish overwhelms to me.

I’ve always lived pretty simply. You can ask my college roommates, my shelf in the pantry was the least full by far. It consisted primarily of pancake mix, granola bars, and two year old lemonade that I refused to throw out. The catch: in college I had a meal plan and access to some of the finest collegiate dining facilities in the country. Have I ever mentioned on here how much I miss college? Because of this, I never taught myself to cook. I never had to. Result: I’ve never had to grocery shop for a meal.

I guess I didn’t take that into account when I started this little blog.

(Photo Cred)

To me, walking into a grocery store is like venturing into a foreign country where I don’t speak the language. As the saying goes, it’s all greek to me. What’s the difference between brands? How do I know what cut of meat to get? I feel like I’ll be wandering around the store aimlessly for hours. This is enough to deter me from cooking. Sound familiar? I do the same thing while trying new foods. Just the thought of trying something new scares me, and that’s enough to make me never do it. How do you think I’ve gone by whole life without eating a single vegetable? Kind of makes me wonder to how many other things in my life I employ this philosophy. Hmmm…

Sorry to get all introspective. Moving on.

Money. I know that organic and “real” food is a bit more expensive than the processed “bad” food. The ultimate American irony, is it not? We’re supposed to eat well, but it costs so much less to eat like crap…and then we all wonder why obesity is such a huge issue. Yes, I have a job. Yes, I can afford it. Yet, my college mentality (read: my I-can-stretch-60-dollars-out-over-a-month mentality) persists. One of my roadblocks to grocery shopping has been this thought, “I’d rather not spend $70 on groceries today, so I might as well not go at all.”

I’m working on ways to overcome this. Peer pressure has seemed to work so far. It’s true that things are less scary when done in groups. So, I would appreciate cooking buddies. [insert shameless plea here :D] But I do know that eventually I will need to overcome this on my own, and that thought is also scary.

What are your grocery shopping tips? Any advice (other than to just suck it up) to help me overcome this fear would be greatly appreciated.

Look Ma’ I’m COOKIN’: Chicken Florentine

The deed is done. The seal has been broken. The first meal has been made. And it was, drum roll please…

PRETTY DARN GOOD!

I mean, I can’t really say I’m surprised considering I recruited the help of my good friend and cooking extraordinaire, Kayleigh, to guide me through my first clueless time in the kitchen. She made sure I didn’t make too much a fool of myself.

Hi Kayleigh!

Really, I wasn’t quite sure how this was going to turn out because I have a knack for messing up recipes. I also wasn’t sure if I would even like the dish because it has SPINACH in it. Yes, hold the phone, yours truly is eating VEGETABLES. The nice part about Chicken Florentine is that the spinach is totally masked with ricotta and parmesan cheeses. It’s like tricking yourself into eating vegetables by convincing yourself that you’re just eating cheese. At least that’s how I rationalized it!

Under Kayleigh’s watchful eye, this recipe turned out to be a success. Today I learned that cooking isn’t like baking in that it isn’t as much of a science, it’s okay if a little more of this and a little less of that gets mixed in. So, we definitely added a few more spoonfuls of garlic in there. Good thing I don’t have a hot date tonight!

Without further ado, here is the recipe:

Chicken Florentine:
Taken from Weight Watchers, adapted by Kayleigh (and Caitlin, sort of)
Cook time: 35-40 min

Ingredients

  • 8 (6 oz) skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 boxes (10 ox/each) frozen chopped spinach – thawed & squeezed dry
  • 1 lb ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt & pepper (for each breast)
  • 2 egg whites, beaten with 2 tbsp water
  • 1 cup seasoned dried bread crumbs (we used panko, but I’d like to try Italian next time)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven. Spray large shallow baking pan with non-stick spray
  2. Pound breasts until 1/2 inch thick
  3. Mix spinach, cheeses, garlic powder, salt & pepper
  4. Spoon mix onto half side of breasts. Fold over and press edges to seal
  5. Dip breasts in egg whites
  6. Coat with 2 tbsp of bread crumbs
  7. Place in pan. Cook until juices are clear

We served ours with a side of bowtie pasta with mushroom alfredo which we doctored up by adding tomatoes, garlic and italian seasoning. Judging from how quickly Kayleigh’s boyfriend, Nate, devoured the whole thing, I’d say it was a success.

So that’s it, the first meal stigma is gone. Now the question is, what should I cook next?

Things I’m Digging: October

1) My North Face Jacket

Sometime last week while I was enjoying the summer-like weather in Hawaii, October and fall sprung up on the East Coast. This week, as temperatures plummeted, I finally got the chance to pull out my dusty, old North Face Jacket which is my most over-worn comfortable jacket of the winter months. I have missed it dearly during the hot, humid summer months and I’m so glad it’s finally made its triumphant return!

2) Chick-fil-a

(source)

If we’re being really specific here (which we are), I am technically referring to Chick-fil-a’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich (hold the pickle). I had one last week and I CAN’T STOP CRAVING IT! I would eat one everyday this week if I could, but I can’t, because that isn’t healthy…and isn’t that what this blog is all about? But hey, I had one for lunch therefore I’m 1 for 1 so far this week. 😀

3) Pumpkin Carving

My friends and I dabbled a bit in the art of pumpkin carving this season. I haven’t successfully carved a pumpkin since my sophomore year of college. In fact, last time I tried the whole thing collapsed in my hands and I just threw it in the trash. This year’s extravaganza was so much fun, made for some sweet pictures, AND got me in the Halloween/Fall spirit. See if you can guess which one is mine!

4) JMU Football Games

Have I mentioned that I seriously love my alma mater? In college I lived and breathed JMU football in the fall. Now that I’ve graduated not much has changed, other than the fact that I need to put a little more effort (rather than just getting out of bed) to actually attend games. There’s just something about heading down 81, pulling into the tiny town of Harrisonburg, and entering that [newly rennovated!] stadium that just pulls at my nostalgic heartstrings. It’s pretty helpful that most of my friends also have season tickets, so it’s never hard to find people to tailgate with!

5) Self-confidence

Because confidence is sexy, right? There are a few things in my life right now that are actually finally surprisingly working out as I hoped they would. This blog being one of them! It’s nice to find a voice and the ability to express myself through writing. The more I post, the easier I find words flowing from my fingertips. Not only has the blog helped me to feel more confident as a writer, but it has actually helped me feel more comfortable with trying new foods! So, thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who continues to support this venture. Whether it’s reading my posts, e-mailing me potential topics, encouraging me to try a new food/recipe, or just subscribing to increase my numbers, the love and support from my family and friends has been overwhelming and has helped me more than you realize.

So, with that: I will try to keep things spicy (and not just in chicken sandwich form) enough for you. On Wednesday, I will be taking my first dive into the wonderful, confusing, and to me, unknown world of cooking. Operation Chicken Florentine here I come.

…and for the record, I definitely had to google how to spell Florentine. I’m in so much trouble.