Cooking My Way Through the Furlough

by - Thursday, October 17, 2013

Whoooo furlough is over and I officially get to go back to work! I woke up this morning, put on real clothes for the first time in 16 days and practically skipped out the door to the Metro, even though it was still pitch black outside.

When did it get so dark on my commute to the office?
When did this happen?

While I will miss workout clothes being my go-to wardrobe choice on a daily basis, it's good to feel like a productive member of society again.

Trading in my furlough uniform for some big girl clothes. Back to work I go.
So long furlough clothes. I will miss you. Also my hair looks gross today. I blame the humidity.

And I'm hopeful this will be my last furlough-related post and we won't be dealing with this crap again in January and February.

I know I've said it before, but being furloughed was boring and I swear my brain was rotting away each day I don't use it to do something productive.

And I didn't count productive as stalking the Washington Post every day to see if there was any sort of breakthrough on the talks to get things up and running again.

So in the meantime, I found other ways to entertain myself including doing some experimenting in the kitchen.

I will be the first to admit, I don't love cooking. It takes a lot of planning and thinking and when I get home from work I pretty much just want food to magically appear. But with all this extra time on my hands, I had a chance to try some new recipes and whip up some of my old favorites.

I thought I'd share what's gone well, what I've liked and what went over well with my friends.

1. Butternut Squash Soup
butternut squash soup

This is one of my all-time favorite fall recipes. I made one tweak to the recipe this time and threw in a sweet potato too because I had one lying around that needed to be used. I made a big batch that I ate throughout the week and also froze some for quick and easy dinners when I'm actually back working.

2. Mac n Cheese

I made this dish to share with a friend who had been away for a week of travel. I know for me when I get home from traveling all I want is to eat some good ol' comfort food, no matter how unhealthy it might be. And with all the cheese in this bad boy, healthy is not a word you could use to describe it. (I did use whole wheat pasta though, you know, to try to healthify it a little bit.) But man was it delicious and comforting. Exactly what I was going for. It did take a while to make though and then decent amount of time in the oven, so I wouldn't ever plan this for a quick meal on a workday.

3. Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

I discovered this recipe on Pinterest sometime last fall or winter and immediately became obsessed with it. It's super easy to make and it makes a ton, so this is another good one to make on a weekend and then either freeze the rest or have leftovers to enjoy the rest of the week.

4. Crockpot Chili
I am obsessed with my crockpot because even I can't really mess up those dishes. You pretty much just throw all the ingredients in and turn it on. This is a new chili recipe I'm trying. Normally, I make my mom's vegetarian chili (which is out of this world good), but I've been trying to be better about getting extra protein, so I wanted to do a chili with some ground meat. I picked lean ground turkey, and based on how much is in the crockpot, I'm sure I'll be able to freeze the extras.

5. Couscous Old Bay Salad

A good friend was having a housewarming BBQ a few weeks ago and asked everyone to bring something. This dish is always a hit at tailgates with my friends, and everyone seemed to love it at the housewarming too. Plus it's easy and healthy! Win!

6. Chocolate PB Bars

I made these as dessert for the housewarming and holy goodness were they rich. Chocolate and peanut butter is seriously my favorite combo in the world, but you couldn't eat a very big piece of this or else you'd probably immediately develop diabetes. They were super delicious though and everyone who tried them loved them.

7. Thyme-Scented White Bean Cassoulet

This was another fantastic crockpot recipe I discovered on Pinterest. Like all of my favorite crockpot recipes, it pretty much just involved me opening a bunch of canned veggies, chopping some onions and dumping some meat into the crockpot. I really loved the flavors of this dish and it was another one that made a ton. I had enough to eat all week.

8. No Bake Cookie Dough Bars

My best friend Emily's birthday was right before the shutdown, but I whipped up this quick dessert for her party over the weekend. Emily loves cookie dough so I figured this recipe would be right up here alley. It was a hit with everyone at the party and it was super quick and easy to make.

I think that's officially all the cooking I've been doing since the furlough started. I have to say, it's been kind of fun experimenting in the kitchen. If I had more time, I'd probably cook more regularly. Also, I'd definitely cook more if I had people to cook for. I really hate making a mess cooking for myself. It's so much easier just to eat a bowl of cereal or something.

But who knows, maybe now that all this furlough crap is said and done, I will still have a bit of a cooking bug.

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  1. I made a batch of those reese bars. LOVE!!! I managed to single-handedly consume the entire batch in about 12 days though. Oops.

  2. Ok, looking at those recipes, I think you used your time very well! Have any leftovers? ; )

    In all seriousness, the furlough sucked. I had so many friends and acquaintances off work and they hated it, too. Let the extremists in Congress learn a lesson from this.

  3. I was lucky not to be furloughed but glad you did something sort of productive! I have a ton of recipes I'm wanting to try but I just don't have the time...

  4. Some of those look delicious!

    Glad to hear you're back at work!