Monday, March 18, 2019

And This is The Rest Of The Story

Typical of me I created a meal plan that required little to no shopping based on what I had on hand. I had totally planned to buy nothing this week, but I had to run to the store to pick up a few things for Mom's birthday celebration. Of course I could not stop by ThePig without looking at their meat counter, or picking up a couple of things I am out of, like black pepper. Who ever actually runs out of it? I don't think I ever have before. And after I picked up ground chuck and pepper in addition to the party things how could I resist the gigantic Boston ferns? Oh, I couldn't. Somehow 2 of those giant things wound up in the back of my car. I did decide to give one to Mom as an additional birthday gift. That makes the purchase ok, right?

On Wednesday I had to run to Sprouts for their double ad deals. They still had asparagus at 98 cents per pound which is rare here, so I loaded up and froze a lot of it. I am not crazy about frozen asparagus, but it is a great keto vegetable and it was cheap. It is what it is, and I will have it for dinner  anyway even if it is not my favorite way of eating it. And even though I planned on walking out with just the asparagus, I noticed macadamia nuts were 7 bucks a pound cheaper than normal, so yep, I bought a bunch. (I left a few out but put most of them in the freezer so they will last quite a while.)  Oops! Then I saw the red grapes for 98 cents a pound. TheHub loves them so they came home with me too. It was not an inexpensive outing, but I do have much more in the freezer than I did before I went.

I also forgot Uncle Bob and my cousin Sandy would be here over the weekend when I planned the menu. (March was flying by and I was obviously oblivious to time passing) That meant  I needed a little extra for our St. Patrick's Day meal. Add additional potatoes, another cabbage, and 1 more corned beef to the shopping that was not supposed to happen.

This was my Sunday night idea of how our meals would go for the week:
1. Birthday meal for Mom (yet undecided)
2. Crustless Pizza, mixed green salad
3. Chicken crack, asparagus, coleslaw or salad
4. Ham, cheese and mushroom frittata, tossed salad
5. Pork chop/sauerkraut/potato bake, asparagus
6. Enchilada casserole, coleslaw, tortillas
7. Corned beef and cabbage, au gratin potatoes, steamed carrots, mint chocolate brownies

And this is what really happened:
Monday: Ham, cheese and spinach frittata, tossed salad, toast
Tuesday: Baked ziti, tossed salad, Italian bread, cupcakes and ice cream (take out birthday meal)
Wednesday: Chicken crack, asparagus, rice, or keto toast
Thursday: Pizza casserole, tossed salad
Friday: Bacon cheeseburger casserole over lettuce and tomatoes
Saturday: Brats and sauerkraut, cucumbers and tomatoes
Sunday: Corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, sliced cucumbers, sliced tomatoes, rolls, mint brownies.

And this is what may or may not happen this week:
1. Reuben casserole (Hooray for leftover corned beef)
2. Hamburger patty, steamed asparagus, leftover St Paddy's potatoes or cauli mash.
3. Wedge salad, rolls or grilled keto bread
4. Chicken enchiladas, tossed salad, avocado slices
5. Smoked ribs, baked beans or green beans potato salad or cauliflower salad, rolls or keto rolls.
6. Meat sauce over spaghetti or zoodles, mixed green salad
7. Piri piri over rice or cauli rice, cucumbers, green beans

As usual it will be interesting to me to see how closely I stick to this plan, or how far I drift from it. Either way will be without real intention but just follows whichever way the proverbial wind is blowing.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Crustless Pizza

I have been doing that keto thing for quite a while now, and most of the time I have no problems staying on it. Occasionally I miss a particular food though. Lately I have been craving pizza. I am not a pizza connoisseur by any means and it has never been one of my go-to comfort foods, but occasionally I just want it, or, at the very least, the flavors of pizza.

After  researching all of the ways to make an acceptable keto pizza and had making the fathead dough (which tastes and feels remarkably like a true pizza crust), but it requires a lot of cheese and I had rather have my cheese as a topping than as a crust. A few recipes later I had a fairly good idea about how to format the base layer. (A recipe is just a suggestion, and subject to change.) As for the pizza toppings, I have no idea why anyone would need a recipe for that. You just put whatever you like, or have on hand, or made a special trip to the store to buy.

I was stymied about the pizza sauce. I needed one that has no sugar added, but tasted like a real pizza sauce. I could have stopped at the store and grabbed a jar of Rao's pizza sauce, but it is nearly 8 bucks a jar. Uh, no thanks! After googling and finding several recipes I chose this one at I Breathe, I'm Hungry mainly because it required no cooking. It made a tasty sauce (add a little more garlic powder and some finely chopped rosemary to make it perfect) and all it took was a quick whirl in the blender.  (Plus, I have enough sauce for 2 more "pizzas" living in the freezer) I am not posting the recipe here since I added the link and used the exact recipe.

Crustless Pizza

For the base layer

1 large head cauliflower, cut into small pieces (zap in the microwave til soft then press out as much moisture as you can. I did not do this step. Learn from my mistake)
1/3 cup EV olive oil
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

In a large bowl mix all together. Spray a 9x13 pan with non stick spray and press the mixture in the bottom.  Bake at 350 until set (about 15 or so minutes)

8 ounces grated mozzarella (divided)

Pizza Sauce of choice (there are some very tasty jarred sauces out there, or make your own)

Pizza toppings of choice. I used  browned ground beef, onions, red peppers, mushrooms and cheese because I had them on hand.

Spread the base with half the grated cheese followed by pizza sauce, add the toppings of choice, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and return to the oven for about 10 minutes until everything is nice and bubbly. I decided the oven time was not going to be long enough to cook the onions, peppers and mushrooms, so after browning the ground beef for the pizza I tossed them in the same pan and wilted them. It worked perfectly.

The verdict: We loved the flavor. After the first bite TheHub declared it was delicious. It tasted like we were eating pizza, but the consistency was not pizzaish. I will make this again, but I might add another egg and a little coconut flour to the base layer just to give it a little extra firmness. We will probably have this once a month to satisfy any pizza craving and still keeping it keto for me.

 Upside? Leftovers for lunch! 

Friday, March 15, 2019

It's A Caesar Thing

Every year on March 15, I call My Beloved Sister, lower my voice and very slowly say "Beware the Ides of March". Of course I did it today, and, as usual, she started laughing before I was halfway through. She hates March and has declared any bad thing that ever happened to her happened in March. She had an uneventful day today so the Ides must have left her alone.
It must be a little pissed off with me making fun of the day, because I just got back from the emergency room a bit ago.

I cook all the time, and know my way around a kitchen and how to use kitchen tools properly, and I know to curl my fingers under when chopping, so I am unsure how my index finger managed to slip out of it curled position right as I was chopping.

The upside is I did not need stitches to stop the bleeding because they could not join the skin together. Instead I got to burn the pieces it together with silver nitrate. The really cool part is I get to have a black fingertip for the next few weeks.

Damn Ides! Now I need someone to call me each year!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

It's About That Time

Since it is nearly St. Patricks's Day, I thought I would share an "only in Alabama" thing.
Please pay special attention to the artist rendering and the ancient Leprechaun flute.

And then, there is this video for your musical entertainment.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Plan vs.Real Life

This past week is the closest I have come yet to sticking to our meal plan, and even when I veered off of it I mostly just changed ingredients using the protein I had planned anyway. (i.e. grilled hamburger patty became Philly cheesesteak casserole because I found 2 bell peppers that needed to be processed immediately. Chicken divan was booted for similar reasons.) 

Last week's meal plan
1. Spaghetti and meat sauce, tossed salad, garlic bread
2. Chicken korma, rice, green beans
3. Some yet undecided Fat Tuesday meal
4. Chili, spinach salad, cornbread
5. Steak, tossed salad, broccoli, baked potato
6. Grilled hamburger patty, mashed potatoes, carrots, green beans, cauliflower salad
7. Chicken divan,  tossed salad

Real life 
Monday: Chili, spinach salad
Tuesday: Jambalaya, coleslaw, pear slices, pig in a blanket rolls 
Wednesday: Chicken korma, green beans, rice
Thursday: Spaghetti or zoodles with meat sauce, salad greens, rolls
Friday: Philly Cheesesteak casserole, tossed salad
Saturday: Chicken stew over rice or cauli rice, coleslaw, tomatoes and cucumbers
Sunday: Steak, baked potato or cauli mash, tossed salad, asparagus

As usual the planned meals may or may not happen, but this entire plan consists of things I have on hand already and should require no additional purchases. This week I have a lot of lettuce and cabbage leftover. I also have plenty of asparagus, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and cauliflower, along with an abundance of cheese, eggs and various frozen proteins and vegetables. (Do I think I will go to the grocery store anyway? )

This week's meal plan (in no particular order) 
1. Birthday meal for Mom (yet undecided)
2. Crustless Pizza, mixed green salad
3. Chicken crack, asparagus, coleslaw or salad
4. Ham, cheese and mushroom frittata, tossed salad
5. Pork chop/sauerkraut/potato bake, asparagus
6. Enchilada casserole, coleslaw, tortillas
7. Corned beef and cabbage, au gratin potatoes, steamed carrots, mint chocolate brownies

Friday, March 8, 2019

Bossy, Bossy March

Have you ever noticed what a bossy month March is? I know there are other months that arrive and present us with a lot of demands, but they usually give back a lot of fun equal to the effort the month requires. March is a different beast entirely.

It is windy and unpredictable. One day will be frigid and the next it will be hot. March demands your closet be prepared for multi seasons. Do I wake and wear shorts and flip flops or do I need a coat and scarf? Or better yet, will the day begin really cold and warm up to the 80's by mid day so you sweat all afternoon or vice versa, and you wind up freezing your tail off.

March means I have to get a lot of yard work done. All planting beds need to be cleaned and readied for whatever I decide to plant, roses need their spring haircuts, planters have to be filled with fresh soil, and the pollen__in about two weeks it will begin the annual pollen dump.  Gross!

March also demands any repairs to the exterior of the house or fences that were put off until the weather changed be done before the spring rains begin. It is just demanding over all with little payoff, except that it will be over in 31 days.

So hit me with your best shot, March. I am ready. (I think/hope) Meanwhile I have a little list of what I would like to happen each week during this bossy month. I am waging war with its demands and trying to carve some simple pleasures into it.

These are my aims for each week in March.

1.  Either go to or rent a movie to watch by myself
2.  Listen to a new album (thanks Spotify)
3.  Read a book
4.  Facetime with Pip
5.  Talk to each son and/or DIL
6.  Create something
7.  Rearrange a room (Can be full furniture re-arranging or just changing a few things)
8.  Get rid of one item each day
9.  Meet up with a friend/friends for fellowship (at least coffee but not excluding a meal)
10. Have a home cooked ethnic meals
11. Use the "good" stuff (china, crystal, silverware)
12. Burn candles (when cleaning out I found a stash of nearly 20 scented candles in varied states of prior use)
13. Spa Day (really means spa hour for some self indulgent "treatment")
14. Keep nails polished and at least consider wearing rubber gloves  Inspired by Susan  at Retirement Fun(ds) who has a daily goal of wearing lipstick.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

February Wrap Up

This is a recounting of some weekly joys I wanted to happen each week of February. I actually started counting the first week on the first Monday of the month, so this will go through March 3. On March 4th I will begin a new countdown. I might keep these same aims of might decide to do something else entirely. I guess time will tell.

1. Either go to or rent a movie to watch by myself . Most likely I will rent movies. Flu season is here and honestly I try to limit my exposure to it
Week 1: Rented The Wife (I see why Glenn Close is winning awards)
Week 2:  Rented Bohemian Rhapsody and Black Klansman (Both fabulous movies)
Week 3: Rented  First Man
Week 4: Fail

2. Read 1 book a week . Previously I wanted to read 2 per week and there may be some weeks it happens, but it is more realistic for me to aim for 1 per week, unless they are fluff books.
Week 1: The Senator's Wife (So glad this was a free Kindle book. 1 star because it is the lowest rating I can give)
Week 2: Fail. I was swallowed by the week and had little time for reading
Week 3: The House of Closed Doors
Week 4: Fail though I started 3 different books

3. Have one ethnic meal a week (home cooked) 
Week 1: Chinese New Year Meal
Week2 : Didn't happen
Week 3: Fail
Week 4:  Hungarian Goulash. This is a stretch but this is my blog so I am counting it.

Week 3:  4. Have one day (OK an hour, maybe) dedicated to pampering myself. (Facial, at home manicure/pedicure, or some similarly indulgent thing requiring potions or lotions)
Week 1: At home pedicure
Week 2: At home facial
Week 3: Much overdue manicure
Week 4: Manicure refresh and another facial

5. Have some sort of outing with TheHub at night. Coffee and conversation/ dinner out/ concert or play/ can be anything as long as we leave the house, so even going to Walmart would count as long as we shop together. (If we are in a hurry and go separate ways in the store to gather and get out as quickly as possible it will not count) 
Week 1. Warm night so we went out to eat bbq
Week 2. Valentine's dinner at Satterfields
Week 3.  Went to a wine tasting at a local grocery store. Enjoyed talking with the                  wine rep and a couple of other tasters, tasting, and buying a few bottles                  of new to us wine. Plus we had an unexpected dinner out on Friday
Week 4: Saturday night we went to the Heart Ball (underwhelming)
                Sunday we saw Beautiful. It was beyond fantastic. If you get a chance, see it!                   
 6. Spend time in quiet meditation
Week 1; fail
Week2: Done
Week3: Partially 
Week 4: Done

7. Tackle a room or closet to declutter/rid of excess
Week 1: Dining Room
Week 2: Living room
Week 3: Fail
Week 4: Foyer (cleaned, decluttered, and rearranged)

8. FaceTime with Granddaughter 
Week 1: Watched her open her Valentine box plus talked about important things like dance class and school
Week 2: Had a fun conversation
Week 3:  Fail. She was busy and our time difference makes it difficult sometimes, but I did have some phone time with her when she was in the car going from one place to another. Also learned some important information.  Gummy worms are probably not made with real worms so I can eat them without being scared. Good to know.
Week 4: Played a protracted game of Rock, Paper, Scissors via FaceTime

9. Talk via phone with all 3 sons and/or wives
Week 1: Done
Week 2: Done (BTW I have 3 wonderful DIL's)
Week 3: Done 
Week 4: Done