Sunday, January 31, 2016


This weekend we are at the lake for the first weekend in months. Chilling and enjoying the views.  I will not be commenting on your blogs, but will read them as our sketchy Internet service allows.  Have a great day and wish you were here!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

Because winter finally decided to appear we have been eating a lot of soups. I am in soup Nirvana!  I love soup year round, but TheHub is definitely one of those seasonal soup lovers, in fact he will not even tolerate it during the warmer months so now that is it cold I am single minded when it comes to food prep.

I bought a 3 pound bag of sweet potatoes a couple of weeks before Christmas and had only used a couple of them.  I was on a soup kick anyway so I decided I would make sweet potato soup. A locally owned Latin restaurant makes the most delicious pureed sweet potato soup and I have made one similar to theirs many times and loved it, but this week I wanted something a little less time consuming with a rustic feel and a slightly smoky flavor. (Truth: I was feeling lazy and wanted a one pot soup without getting the blender out, but saying I wanted it to have a rustic feel sounds more continental than saying I just didn't want to wash the blender)  The following is the result of that experiment. Because soup has no real recipe this is just a suggestion, but it is truly what I did to get the final product.

                                                       Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

2 large yellow onions, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 small sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 small red bell pepper, sliced
2 ribs celery (only because I had them an they were wilting)
1/4 cup smoked ancho peppers cut into strips
1 can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 quart chicken broth
additional water if needed (I added about 2 cups
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon powdered chipotle pepper (substitute chili powder  or reduce the amount if heat is an                                                                         issue.  I like it hot)
1/4 teaspoon powdered jalapeno (eliminate if you don't like hot stuff)
salt and pepper to taste
fresh lime  for garnish
sour cream for garnish

In a large enamel pot heat the oil and add the onions.  I cooked them very slowly stirring almost continuously so they would caramelize. When they were super soft and a lovely shade of dark brown I added the garlic and cooked it until it wilted then added the rest of the ingredients except for the garnishes.  Let is cook until the sweet potatoes are tender adding additional water as needed.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream, a squeeze of lime juice and an additional slice of lime just to make it pretty.

This is a very good soup and a delicious way to use sweet potatoes, especially if you are not a huge sweet potato fan. (I only eat them because they are good for me,  not a fan of the taste or texture). The spicy chilis and the savory earthy herbs make this soup anything but sweet.  One change I will make when I make it again (and I will do this again) is caramelizing the onions.  The caramelization made the broth darker which was nice, but it did not add enough additional flavor to warrant the time it took to caramelize them.  I will just cook them until they are wilted and have a little lighter broth.  

I have eaten this 3 times now and it honestly improves with refrigeration and rewarming.  The flavors got a chance to marry and meld and now every single vegetable is infused with the spices.  I still have one more serving and it might go to the freezer to save for the next cold snap.  It would be great to have this flavor treat without having to actually make it.

*If you wanted to make this a little heartier, I think some thinly sliced cooked pork or chopped chicken would be a delicious add-in, but I haven't actually tried it

Monday, January 18, 2016

Sprouting Potato Soup

Mom was in the hospital for a couple of days last week which creates a time vacuum for the rest of us.  There are very sweet patients and there are impatient patients who are a tad demanding and difficult to deal with.  Mom falls into the latter category, consequently someone has to be with her around the clock.  Because My Beloved sister works and is in the most demanding part of her business year and could not be there beyond the first afternoon, Son2 and I split the "being there" time.  As a result of the time crunch, nothing here was cooked and all eating was just catching something on the fly.  We got her home at 9 pm Friday night and got her settled in for the night. Beloved Sister spent the night with her and we determined she could stay by herself while Beloved Sister worked Saturday to catch up and I went with TheHub to his cousin's funeral about an hour from town.  Finally last night I could begin a small bit of food rescue.

I tend to pull several things out of the freezer at one time with a somewhat loose idea of what I will prepare for dinner with each item.  I had 4 things defrosting in the meat drawer of the fridge for several days and they needed to be addressed.  Add potatoes that had sprouted eyes and a few other odds and ends in various stages of less than stellar shape and I guessed, correctly, that I would be doing some power cooking today.

The only recipe I am sharing today is the potato soup recipe.

                                                                Desperation Potato Soup

8 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, diced
5 celery ribs, diced
1 tablespoon oil
1 quart chicken broth
1 teaspoon tarragon
1teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
3/4 cups half and half (or 1 cup milk)
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup grated cheese

Peel and dice the potatoes and set aside. Put the oil in a Dutch over or large pot and add the onions and the celery.  Cook until the vegetables are wilted, add the potatoes and stir them with the vegetables a couple of times before adding the chicken broth to the pot.  Add the tarragon, salt and pepper and cook until the potatoes are very soft.  Stir in the milk/half and half.  If the soup appears too thick add a little water.  In a small saute pan melt the butter and add the flour.  Cook, stirring constantly until it forms a soft paste.  Add it to the potatoes and stir util the broth thickens.  Stir in the grated cheese and stir to melt and thoroughly distribute the cheese.  Serve in a bowl and garnish with dill weed or chopped chives.  This makes a really tasty and very filling soup.  We each had a medium sized bowl  and are stuffed.  If you have some potatoes that need to be used quickly this is a great way to use them.

Now on to pot roast, chicken roll ups, sweet potato soup, peanut butter bread pudding, and chocolate pudding with strawberries. (Trying to use a gallon of milk that has about 2 days of "good" still in it)

Monday, January 11, 2016

And Now For A Brief Moment OF Obnoxiousness

Congratulations to the players and coaches of our beloved Tide on their win tonight over Clemson.
Also congratulations to Clemson who is starting their own football dynasty.  Watson is probably the best player I have seen this year and I predict he will win the Heisman next year.  Congratulations also to Dabo Sweeny (Alabama grad and former Alabama assistant coach) as he continues to ride his success into the future. Personally I would not mind having him at Alabama when Saban retires.

Obnoxiousness behavior over now.  In the interest of fairness and world peace please leave a comment with a "Go (fill in the blank)" I would love seeing teams everyone supports!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Gathering the Holiday Fragments

We are eating leftovers and consuming whatever can't be frozen this week.  I might throw in a couple of almost freshly made meals, but only because I had a pound of ground chuck and 2 pounds of chicken breasts that were in the back of the meat drawer (How does this stuff manage to hide so well?) and had to be cooked or tossed today.  Since I am trying to be a competent food steward I had to do a bunch of emergency cooking.  We now have a large pot of chili and an equally large pot of white chili, along with the innards for a chicken pot pie.  I will decide which chili we are going to eat this week and freeze everything else.

To try and keep myself honest I am going to post only our main meal for each day of the week. (Trust me, no one wants to see the teaspoons of leftover stuff I eat for breakfast and lunch, unless you really care to see a meal like this: 1 tablespoon baked beans, 2 tablespoons green beans, 1/2 chicken tender, 1 tablespoon mac and cheese, 1/2 apple. Lunch for me is just scrapping something edible that is leftover and either nuking it or just eating it cold straight from the fridge)

Saturday: Leftover empanadas, black beans and rice (all remaining beans and rice went to the freezer future soup container)  Not bad and the empanadas were surprisingly good just rewarmed in the oven. Used: All the leftover empanadas, 3/4 of the black beans and rice

Sunday: White chili, tossed salad.  The chili was fantastic, the tossed salad was leftover undressed salad that was maybe 1 1/2  days from being inedible. Neither good nor horrible, but gone and that is the most important thing right now.
Used: 3 chicken breasts hiding in the meat drawer, dried navy beans used as packing material to make a gift rattle,  leftover tossed salad

Monday: Smoked sausage, cabbage, onions and potato one pot meal.  Really tasty way to use excess sausage
Used: 1 lb smoked sausage (overbought for the holidays) 2/3 head cabbage leftover from cole slaw made for slaw dogs earlier, 5 potatoes about to sprout

Tuesday: Pizza lasagna, leftover lettuce, sliced tomatoes and cucumber slices
Used: 7 slices cold pizza, 1/2 cup spaghetti meat sauce, 5 tomato slices, 1/2 cucumber 1/4 head lettuce, (maybe?) 1/2 block leftover mozzarella, rest of the parmesan (about 1/4 cup grated)

Wednesday: Chicken and asparagus in creamed rice, lettuce and tomatoes
Used: The other 3 chicken breasts that I cooked a few days ago, 2 cups leftover rice, 1/2 bunch leftover asparagus, 3 ounces leftover cream cheese,  1/3 quart  of leftover chicken broth, 1 slightly soft huge tomato.

Thursday: Black eyed pea casserole, side salad
Used: 2 cups leftover black eyed peas, 1/2 can (leftover) mushroom soup, 4 ish ounces grated cheese salvaged from the lake place, 1 cup leftover collard greens, 3 slices regular bacon, 5 slices turkey bacon (Son1 and family eat this stuff), 1/2  head leftover lettuce
Bad:  Threw out about 2 cups of this.

Friday: Nothing. I am as sick as a dog so everyone here is on their own.  It's hot tea for me

Saturday:  Ditto, though I did heat up a can of chicken noodle soup, had some crackers and an orange. TheHub went out to a basketball game and stopped at our favorite late night place and brought me Mint tea and fries.  Not healthy but I could stomach it.

So this was my attempt at using stuff we had.  This week I stopped by they grocery store once and bought a jalapeno, onions, a tomato, and a cucumber. TheHub stopped on the way home from work and bought me a Sprite, Son2 brought me some Constant Comment tea and that is the total of my grocery buys for the first week of 2016.

The excess holiday food (minus one carton of sour cream) has been used, and I almost feel like a human again, so this week should be back to normal.  I am hoping to spend about 50 dollars this week unless there are some seriously good stock up prices in the food ads Wednesday

And yes I know this is lame but I really do think it's lovely music and, come on, it's the  opening theme song from The Leftovers

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Not So Lucky Black Eyed Pea Casserole

I had a boatload of cooked black eyed peas in the refrigerator and since I am trying to get rid of all leftovers, I decided to make a little casserole using some of the remaining peas.  I am freezing another bag of them for much later. As I said in a previous blog, when I am trying to make do with what I have I tend to think out of the box.  Some meals like the pizza lasagne are a huge success.
Others like tonights meal are just so-so. Others like my infamous honey coffee glazed meatballs are just completely inedible.  Even with the failures I have never let it keep me from trying what my dad called my "germ of an idea".

So let's just go ahead and dive into this dish, which could have been really good if I had done it differently.  I will share with you what should have been vs. what was.

What was:
2 cups cooked black eyed peas
1 cup cooked collard greens
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 small onion chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded, veined and chopped
1/2 can cream of mushroom soup
4 ounces (about) shredded cheddar cheese
8 slices bacon, cooked crisp and broken into pieces (3 slices real bacon, 5 slices turkey bacon,yuck)

I poured everything but the bacon in a baking dish, stirred it to mix it well, then baked it for 40 minutes at 350. I took it out of the oven and broke the bacon pieces over the top of it. We ate it as the main dish and had a side salad.  Hmmmmm!  It was neither good nor bad. The taste was ok but the texture was way too mushy.  It was a boring meal and is not tasty enough to save the leftovers, so I am going to toss out about 2 cups of food, because we will never eat it.

What do I think would make it tasty?:
1 onion chopped
2-3 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup cooked collard greens, chopped well
1 jalapeno chopped and seeded
1 can Rotel (Choose your preferred heat) drained
8 ounces grated cheddar divided in half
1/2 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups cooked black eyed peas, well drained
1 can niblet corn, well drained
8 slices crispy bacon chopped (for all that is holy use real bacon)
dollop of sour cream
chopped cilantro

Saute the onions in the olive oil until it is wilted but not brown,  Add the garlic and stir a few seconds until it is soft, then dump in the collard greens and diced jalapeno.  Warm them well and let the jalapeno soften a bit before transferring it to a mixing bowl.  Stir in the drained Rotel tomatoes, soup and 4 ounces of the cheddar cheese.  Add the black eyed peas and the niblet corn (the corn will provide some extra and much needed texture as well as some flavor) Be sure to blend this together very well.  Pour into a baking dish and bake for 30 minutes.  Top with the remaining grated cheese and chopped bacon.  Return to the over until the cheese is melted.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.  This SHOULD make it tasty, but until I try it (sometime in a far, far, distant time) there are no guarantees.

A little Black Eyed Pea Music?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Leftover Pizza, No Problem

I have diligently been using up all of the leftover/over purchased holiday foods and today was no different.  I was looking through the fridge to see what exotic (sarcasm here) food awaited rewarming when I discovered 7 large slices of pizza. Because it had been hanging out in a ziploc bag since NYE I figured it was either eat it tonight or throw it away.  Now I don't mind a slice of cold pizza for breakfast, but I absolutely hate eating rewarmed pizza slices, so I started thinking of what else I could do with it.  TheHub had mentioned wanting Italian food and pizza is an Italian food so a quick revamp (ok it was not quick at all) and our leftover pizza turned into pizza lasagne.

If you are a food purist go ahead and leave now, but if you are the kind who can stand a little creative interpretation of an old favorite then this might just be for you. I promise it is not as weird as it initially sounds. I made this like I make regular lasagne but decided the crust would be used instead of the usual noodles.

    Pizza Lasagne

7 large slices leftover pizza (these were regular and thin crust, pepperoni slices and veggie slices)
1 jar or can of prepared sauce
1/2 cup meat sauce - totally optional but I had some leftover in the refrigerator
1 cup ricotta (which I didn't have so I pureed drained cottage cheese instead)
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic
2 eggs, beaten
4 ounces mozzarella, grated
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (all I had)

Take a dull knife and scrape the topping off the pizza slices and put it in a small saucepan.  Add the jarred sauce (I always have a jar of tomato basil sauce in the pantry thanks to Publix's bogo every 6 weeks) heat and stir until everything is melted and blended well.  Remove from the heat and put about 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan. It took 4 slices of pizza crust to cover the bottom of my pan.  I had to tear them into weird shapes so all the surface was covered, but it worked.

Meanwhile in a small bowl stir the ricotta (or pureed cottage cheese) with the spices to mix well then add the beaten eggs and combine them thoroughly. Spread the ricotta mix over the pizza crust pieces using a spatula to make it as even as possible. Sprinkle the parmesan on top of the ricotta mix and than sprinkle the grated mozzarella on top of that.

Pour the red sauce on top of the cheese and smooth it as evenly as you can to cover the entire surface.

Take the remaining pizza and cut it into small pieces (I used the pizza wheel to make it an easy task) about 1/2 inch x 1/2 inch.  Sprinkle these evenly over the top of the sauce.  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.  Let it rest 10 or so minutes before cutting into squares for serving.

I have to admit this was pretty darn tasty.  In fact TheHub had seconds and Son2 had thirds. I will definitely do this again when I have leftover pizza, and luckily there was at least 1/3 of the pan leftover tonight.  I waited until it was completely cool and it now lives in a ziploc bag in the freezer for a quick meal later in the winter.

Woo hoo! I used up some leftovers. It was delicious and get a bonus dinner another day! Now that is what I call a food win!

 For some pizza infused entertainment!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

January Joy List

Each month I try to make a list of 30 things that will bring me joy.  I understand that some of these things might sound more like a chore than joy, but trust me.  If I list it here it will be joyous to me.

First is the December list with what did and what didn't happen, followed but the January list of possibilities.

December's Joy List:  I think I flunked the Joy list  in December

1.Think of the best thing that happened each day with gratitude.
2. Make slice and bake cookies for the freezer to use throughout the holidays
3. Go to a Nutcracker performance  We were supposed to go see our great niece, but life changed our plans
4. Listen to live Christmas music
5. Finish all decorating by December 7th.
6. Address and mail all the Santa Letter
7. Make a gift for my Beloved Sister
8. Make a gift for my granddaughter (the most beautiful girl in the world)
9. Sing Christmas Carols each day
10. Bake Shelby, the dog, fresh doggie treats  Sorry Sheeb!
11. Make 5 meals for the freezer to have when company comes
12. Try 3 new candy recipes
13. Celebrate the advent season with a weekly devotion and lighting of the advent candles.
14. Take Mom to see Christmas sights
15. Take the granddaughter to see Christmas lights, ride the reindeer carousel and see Santa
16. Volunteer with special needs adults
17. Finish addressing Christmas cards and mail by Dec 8th.
18. Have friends in for beverages and cookies
19. Take Mom to visit some friends
20. Help Mom with a small luncheon. She decided not to have one and took them out instead
21. Take blankets and old coats to one of the local homeless shelters.  It has been hot here and they are not needed/wanted yet, but I have them ready when the weather turns.
22. Take food to someone having a difficult time.
23. Send a celebration card or note to someone with exceptionally good news
24. Pick a random family to help with Christmas. (Try and remember it is a blessing to be a blessing)
25. Toys for Tots
26. Special food pantry donation
27. Sit by the fire alone (if the temp will drop below 45) with just candles, tree lights, christmas music and hot buttered rum to reflect on what Christmas really means  In reality is was sit by the fireplace with no fire, wearing shorts and the ac running, drinking iced tea to reflect on what the season really means.
28. Try to be particularly nice to every one in retail.  It is not their fault if I shop too late!
29. Make a list of everyone who does services for me, to remember them at Christmas
30. Pray for peace daily, hope for peace and practice peace in my daily life. (Even toward the people who pull out in front of me then drive 20)  I really did try and practice peace daily, but it was Christmas and there were too many idiots driving. I did not honk and was not aggressive with my driving but I might have called a couple of folks dumb asses when they nearly hit me, especially the lady on her cell phone who still has not noticed she nearly rammed me. Thank you guy behind her who honked!
31. Remember that sometimes the most unloveable needs the most love.
32. Read 2 and 1/4 books  I didn't even finish the 1/4th book
34. Try out a new look
35.  Serve something ordinary by candlelight in the dining room. Use china, crystal and the good linens.  Ate often in the dining room but used Snowman dishes instead of china because granddaughter was here!

And now on to January

 1 . Send someone who deserves it a hand written congratulations note.
 2 . Take care of all thank you notes.
 3 . Buy new address pages and calendar pages for Daytimer.
 4 . Cut bouquet of prematurely blooming camellias I probably have 150 blooms right now
 5 . Wear new funky socks
 6 . Take food to someone having a hard time Single mom having a hard time right now is sick and           needed a little food today.
 7 . Food bank large donation (they dry up after Christmas)
 8 . Take coats and blankets to shelter. (It was so hot in December they wouldn't take them)
 9 . Volunteer at IP at least 1 time this month
10. Eat salad daily
11. Work on family cookbook
12. Make 1 Christmas present for next year
13. Purge 10 things per week
14. Read 3 books
15. Watch a movie that will make me cry (I am thinking Madame X with Lana Turner)
16. Force bloom some bulbs, narcissus maybe?
17. Make citrus infused wine for summer
18. Clean dining room buffet (drawers and cabinets)
19. Go through all Christmas decorations and discard anything I will not use again
20. Learn to do something new.
21. Find some free live music and enjoy it Heard a Ugandan children's choir (From an orphanage)
22. Try a new to me recipe
23. Begin learning conversational Spanish (Speaking is much harder for me than reading it.)
24. Take Mom to visit Uncle Bob
25. Take Mom window shopping
26. Find some kind of mission work for homeless
27. Attend a lecture or informational meeting
28.  Go to a local museum
29. Try a new to me food (fruit or vegetable)
30. Finish repairing quilt
31. Make some centerpiece for Chinese New Year (Feb 8) This is the year of the Red Monkey

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Story of My Life

Ok it is officially the 2nd, but because the new year began on a Friday, I am not counting it as starting until Monday.  But then psychologists claim if you want anything to fail you should start on a Monday, so maybe I will actually begin the new year on Tuesday.  But I have class on Wednesday and I am just 1 sticker short of getting a free Starbucks seasonal drink and I always take coffee to class anyway, so I might want to wait until after that to begin my food resolutions.  I mean who wants to leave possibly free on the table? Then I just took an inventory of all the leftovers from the holidays and I am trying so hard to be a good steward of food I purchased, so I might need to wait until the next weekend. Oh but, my favorite football team is in the playoff the following Monday, and we all know you can't watch a game without snacks so I guess I will have to wait until the following Tuesday. But....