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About meena

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  1. Great Food Fast by Bob Warden is a good one for recipes that aren’t too fussy. The pot roast recipe in this book is my favorite. My all-time favorite dump-and-go instant pot meal is the Creamy “Baked” Ziti from Mels Kitchen Cafe. I keep the ingredients for this on hand and it is my emergency, don’t feel like cooking meal. You can make it with or without meat. If you use meat it does add a little more work because you have to sauté it and then scrape/deglaze the pot well in order to keep from getting an error message when you start pressure cooking. Mel also has other IP recipes on her site that look pretty easy and tasty.
  2. I highly recommend Bad Blood by John Carryrou. It's about the Elizabeth Holmes/Theranos debacle. Even though it's non-fiction written by a journalist, it reads like a thriller. Radium Girls by Kate Moore is another non-fiction book that was fascinating. For fiction, Dark Matter and Recursion, both by Blake Crouch, were quick reads that are light sci-fi. I'll also add another vote for Station Eleven.
  3. One of our holiday traditions is cheeseball, crackers, and grapes. For New Years I was thinking of going with easy heat/eat foods like wings, pizza rolls, and chips/dip. At our church home group some popular appetizers have been mini tacos (from Costco) served with homemade pico and guacamole, as well as baked sliders (
  4. I love the convenience of just being able to heat up leftovers for lunch. Also, there are times when I eat leftovers for breakfast, because I don't like most traditional American breakfast foods. I have found, though, that my family isn't as fond of leftovers as I am, so I've started making smaller portions so I'm not stuck eating the same thing for days.
  5. I've had a subscription to CookSmarts for more than a year and really like it. Every week I get an email with a meal plan for the following week. Each meal plan has the recipes, shopping list (which can be changed to reflect items already on hand, as well as ability to sync with instacart), and prep list. The true beauty of CookSmarts compared to other plans is being able to customize the meals. Each meal has 4 options: Original, Gluten-Free, Paleo, and Vegetarian. We aren't full-time Paleo or Veg, but sometimes those versions of the meal appeal to us so we'll switch to that for the one meal. You can also change serving size, which comes in handy to make more or less depending on whether everyone will be home for a meal or if we want extras for leftovers. But the absolute best is the ability to add meals from the archives. This comes in super handy when I have ingredients on hand to use up and the current week's meals don't use it but something in the archives does. It is also great because, while we don't have food allergies or restrictions, we do have preferences. We don't typically eat seafood, so if that's on the menu for the week, I'll skip it and add something from the archives instead. CookSmarts doesn't have an app, but the website works well enough and the customer service is very good. There is also an active private FaceBook group for members. Years ago I had e-meals. I don't know how much it has changed since then, but CookSmarts works so much better for my family than e-meals ever did. It provides the structure of pre-planned meals with the ability to customize to fit our needs and preferences. CookSmarts is running a 20% off deal right now, plus I think they also have a free trial. I have a referral code if you'd like, but whether or not I get a referral I would highly recommend their site.
  6. I like these shoes in either the silver or cranberry. I think the pointed toe gives it a little more polished look than a standard ballet flat. Naturalizer shoes are usually pretty comfortable which is a bonus.
  7. I love the idea of velvet pants for a holiday party. Lands End, Madewell, and Old Navy all have different styles of them right now. I think you could do either skinny/slim leg or cropped wider leg with flats. I would dress things up with some type of sparkly accessory—necklace, earrings, or bangle bracelets and sequined or shiny shoes in either silver or deep red.
  8. I think the show you watched at your son’s house is My Brilliant Friend, based on the books by Elena Ferrante.
  9. I’m okay with the changes to the grocery side of the store, but the layout of everything else is kind of confusing and not very intuitive. I’ve started using their drive up option, though, so that eliminates the need to ever go inside to that part of the store.
  10. I love Kenji (no surprise since he was one of CI’s lead recipe developers) and his book is beautiful. But it is such a brick! I borrowed it from the library and determined that if I ever bought it I would have to remove it from the binding because for me it’s too heavy and unwieldy for regular kitchen use.
  11. I love Cook’s Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen books for recipes that are researched well and typically work as written the first time you try them. I’ve had the ATK Family Cookbook for 10+ years and used it so much the binding is falling to bits. I also love their magazines. The former editor of Cook’s Illustrated, Christopher Kimball, has a fairly new cookbook from his new Milk Street Kitchen brand. I’m picking it up from a hold at the library today so will report back on how it looks compared to CI/ATK. I have Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, and it does have reliable recipes for a huge variety of foods. But I don’t use it that often because the lack of pictures is kind of uninspiring for me.
  12. Just FYI for those interested, Intrigue is no longer a standalone game. It's now an expansion so you need the original Dominion base game to play. We have just the original, and it's a lot of fun.
  13. The base game of Saboteur needed to play the Saboteur 2 expansion is on sale at Walmart for $9.99 with free store pickup.
  14. I’m so sorry that you are having to deal with the hurricane along with the loss of your grandma. I don’t think American has canceled any flights yet. You can check your flight status and sign up for alerts for changes to the status here:
  15. We had one dog. He tolerated other dogs but didn't love them. Then we had a relative live with us who had a very social dog, and our dog seemed to move from toleration to enjoyment of another dog around. After that relative moved out we adopted a shelter dog. Our original dog is very patient with our second dog, but she is terrible to him. She is very jealous and has anxiety that manifests at odd times and in odd ways, which she tends to take out on our other dog. She would do much better in a one dog house. I guess my takeaway is that all dogs are different. If you have an opportunity to do a trial run to see how two particular dogs get along, I'd highly advise it. I'd also advise that trial be at least a week. Our second dog was very timid the first couple days and avoided our other dog, which isn't at all her true behavior pattern once she got used to our home.
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