Monday, January 14, 2019

The Best Laid Plans And All That

This was my almost well thought out plan of what we could eat for the week that would also use some of my food storage, particularly things from the freezer.

1. Stuffed baked potatoes with bbq chicken, cheese, peppers, and onions with a side of coleslaw
2. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, broccoli, cucumber tomato salad
3. Pork tenderloin, assorted green salad, rice(TheHub) cauli rice (me) carrots, keto bread or roll
4.  Weiners  kraut, cooked carrots, cornbread, unknown veggie
5. Fettuccine alfredo , noodles (TheHub) zucchini (me), huge tossed salad, rolls or keto bread
6. Mexicanish chicken casserole, coleslaw, tortilla chips (TheHub)
7. Ham and cheese frittata, tossed salad, keto french toast

And this is the story of what really happened

Monday: (see meal #1) I had planned the ball game meal because I bought a 10 pound bag of potatoes at Aldi during the holidays and still had a boat load of them left. I was being a good Girl Scout and planning on zero food waste. I got the cooked chicken out of the freezer Sunday night and stuck it in the meat drawer of the fridge so it would be thawed, and ready for me to sauce and heat right before game time.  Right before TheHub left work he heard his second favorite grocery store was cooking ribs for game day. (In addition to his recreational Publix shopping, he can smell ribs smoking from 50 miles out and WILL follow the scent.) Anyway, he called me from the car to tell me he had bought not one but 2 slabs of ribs. What?  Put on the brakes and change the meal!

BBQ Ribs, baked potatoes (they were already cooking), coleslaw, veggies and dip

Tuesday: (see meal 5)  About a week ago I saw a post on our community FB site. Someone was asking about our local theater's price increases. (They became one of those recliners, table, drink and eat theaters) when someone replied that another theater (still a traditional theater experience) had 5 dollar Tuesdays. Being the tragically unhip couple that we are, neither of us had ever heard of it, but decided Tuesday afternoon we would go catch a cheap flick.  Since I knew TheHub would buy a bucket of popcorn and a gallon cup of diet coke there was no need to make a huge meal. (Plus we only had a 20 minute window to eat before we left for the movie) But I also knew keto me would not eat from the popcorn trough so I needed something. (Turns out we should have waited until after the movie we never saw. We thought we would just breeze in the theater until we got there and saw the line was wrapped around the building, so we just drove on past it and went to Starbucks before going to Publix. I swear, when I look at TheHubs face when he enters that store, I honestly think he hears angels singing. Then he starts greeting the employees by name?!?)  Lesson learned, next Tuesday I am going to purchase the tickets in the morning, because as clueless as we are pretty quick studies.

Spaghetti noodles w/alfredo (TheHub), over spaghetti squash (me) hunk of lettuce

Wednesday:  (No clue what I intended to cook) Every Wednesday morning from fall through the end of spring I have a class I attend. I really do enjoy it, but honestly, I am a very nerdy gal at heart and still like studying. As far as doing things with Mom, we have had an understanding for years to please plan nothing on Wednesday from 9:30 - noon. This morning I was about to walk out the door when the phone rang, and rats__it was Mom. I could have kept walking but that little voice inside wouldn't let me so I answered. She had a non-emergency, emergency so I stopped by to fix the problem, but found her frazzled and very upset. There was nothing to do but stay with her and calm her down. After she showered and dressed we had about 2 hours of difficult conversation, then she remembered she needed eggs, toilet paper, and grapes. (Too bad she could not remember what she needed when I went to the grocery store for her the previous day) I had to run out for a bit anyway so I gathered her needs then went back to her house to help her with a breathing treatment, make sure she was warm and eating, talk to her about some future arrangements (If looks could kill I would not be able to type this right now) and yada, yada, yada. Long story short , it was not a fun day and I got home well after 4, seriously frustrated because my mother has a problem for every solution. I tore into my armoire and began folding clothes the Marie Kondo way then turned around and it was nearly 5 and I had not even begun to think about dinner, so I sat at my computer and watched another episode of Tidying Up instead of cooking. Sounds reasonable, right? 

Take out from our favorite Thai place. Shrimp pad Thai (TheHub) Laap with pork (me)

Thursday: (see meal 4) This was not particularly planned for Thursday. It was on the menu for a night when I needed a meal in a hurry. I easily could have used it for dinner on Wednesday, but I was in a pissy mood and used that as an excuse to do nothing. It worked out well because after a few things I had planned for today plus doing my regular routine with Mom, it was about 5 when I got back to the house. TheHub actually came home relatively early, but I could not get into eating Hebrew Nationals for dinner.  As fortune ( or my over buying tendencies) would have it, I had 6 pounds of Conecuh sausage in the freezer in handy little one pound packages. Great substitute for the wieners!

One pan sausage, cabbage and kraut meal. (Neither good nor bad, but a quick meal so that works)

Friday: (see meal 3)  I did not have to do a ton with Mom on Friday, so she actually did not consume my day. I did take her to get her hair done. (Evidently when one ages the world can go to Hell in a hand basket, but nothing and I mean nothing, can interfere with a hair appointment) Then  it was back to her house for a breathing treatment and bill paying event. My Beloved Sister stopped by and we both managed to leave without wanting to scream. It was a good day.

Pork tenderloin, potato wedges with butter, (TheHub) mashed cauliflower fake potatoes, (me) salad

Saturday: (choose whatever meals are left, didn't happen anyway) We had a slab of ribs remaining from Monday night, and I had pushed them to the limit so they had to be eaten . Son2 and DIL2 were here also so I kind of cobbled a meal together using whatever was on hand.

Leftover ribs, tater tots, and coleslaw (them) Leftover sausage pieces, leftover tossed salad, leftover mashed cauliflower (me)

Sunday: DIL2 had a partial bag of past its prime coleslaw, I had one too and neither of us wanted to toss perfectly decent food out. I had a small bag of cooked chicken (or possibly turkey, not sure) and some pulled pork (meant for the ball game meal) and a slightly wrinkled red pepper so I went totally off the menu plan (imagine that) but it was a great way to gather and use bit and pieces .

Deconstructed egg roll in a bowl. Dinner rolls (Them)

Used from the freezer:
1 pack frozen spaghetti squash
1 pound pack conecuh sausage
1 pork tenderloin
rest of the bag of tater tots (I still think there is another unopened bag hiding in the freezer)
small bag cooked chicken (or turkey
small bag pulled pork
cauliflower rice

Used from the pantry and fridge
jar Alfredo sauce
Spaghetti noodles
jar of bamboo shoots
jar of kraut
butter and heavy cream
assorted spices
olive oil

coleslaw mix
peppers (red and green)

And here is this weeks tentative plan, subject to change as always

1. Ham and cauliflower au gratin, green beans
2. Chili, coleslaw
3. Mexicanish casserole, broccoli. cucumber tomato and onion salad
4. Meat loaf, green beans, cauli mash (me) mashed potatoes (TheHub)
5. Spaghetti, noodles (TheHub) zucchini spirals (me) tossed salad, rolls (TheHub) keto bread (me)
6. Keto fried rice, green beans, marinated radishes
7. Tater tot casserole (TheHub)  random leftovers (me)

I have a good bit of produce going into next week, so I should need very little, though I am going to ThePig for the super sale cauliflower price. I will pick up two heads, maybe a carton of strawberries and I should be good for the week.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

What Did and Did Not Happen

1. Turkey slices (gravy for hub), mashed potatoes (hub) cauliflower mash (me), green beans, coleslaw
2. Grilled steak, hasselback potato (hub) crudité and dip, keto bread (maybe)
3. Keto Philly cheese steak casserole, salad
4. Leftover ham, sweet potato casserole (hub) collards, keto bread
5. Chili, cornbread (hub) coleslaw

Wednesday Turkey slices plain for me and gravy for TheHub, mashed potatoes (him) cauliflower mashers (me) green beans, tossed salad
Thursday  Bolivian Chicken, tossed salad, rice (TheHub), cauliflower rice (me) asparagus, tossed salad
Friday Keto Philly cheesesteak casserole, coleslaw
Saturday Steaks, mashed potatoes (TheHub) cauliflower mash (me), tossed salad
Sunday: Ham, sweet potato casserole, collards, black eyed peas, 

Used: Freezer
Pack turkey slices (Christmas leftovers)
2 porterhouse steaks
1 package cooked chicken thighs
2 small packages browned ground chuck
frozen asparagus
cauliflower rice
partial bag frozen green beans
1 pack ham

3 romaine hearts
4 cucumbers
1 small onion
3 bell peppers
1/2 bag coleslaw mix
hodgepodge of wilted, past their prime veggies (which became veggie broth for later use)

Generic stuff from the fridge
Provolone cheese
cream cheese
sour cream (tad for the mashed potatoes)
heavy cream

Generic pantry stuff
Olive oil (ran out and had to replenish)
brown rice
1 bag pork skins (Crunchy keto snack)

And that brings me to this week. I am sure the vegetables will change since our weekly ads are published on Wednesday, and I have no idea what I will be buying, but I know I will need some things since I am almost out of all produce now. This week I will continue using foods from the freezer and pantry, so most of the meals are based on what I have on hand. As I continue to use things I am replenishing a couple of bargain items. 

I decided I will allow an additional 100 dollars for stock up items. The Pig has ground chuck this week for its bi-annual lowest price. I am freezing it for the future but will put it in a different section of the freezer so I can use the longest frozen stuff first. They also have a great deal on chicken leg quarters. I will get them, cook the chicken, take it off the bone and return the bones to the cooking pot to make a really rich broth. Then the cooked chicken will be frozen in individual meal packs as will the broth.

This weeks possibilities
1. Stuffed baked potatoes with bbq chicken, cheese, peppers, and onions with a side of coleslaw
2. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, broccoli, cucumber tomato salad
3. Pork tenderloin, assorted green salad, rice(TheHub) cauli rice (me) carrots, keto bread or roll
4.  Weiners  kraut, cooked carrots, cornbread, unknown veggie
5. Fettuccine alfredo , noodles (TheHub) zucchini (me), huge tossed salad, rolls or keto bread
6. Mexicanish chicken casserole, coleslaw, tortilla chips (TheHub)
7. Ham and cheese frittata, tossed salad, keto french toast

As usual this is completely subject to change, except for the stuffed baked potatoes. Tomorrow night is a big ball game night here so we need easy ball game food and it does not get easier than this, right? I will go ahead and say Roll Tide!  Win, lose or draw we will still be Tide fans.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

It's Still Cold In The Freezer

Today I am back in the freezer, arranging and recording the remaining contents so I can fully plan our meals while relying on food storage as my primary grocery source right now. It has become a game of sorts and I would love to have a food budget of 100 bucks this month. Personally I could do it, but TheHub goes rogue with his Publix recreational shopping habits so it might be more like 200 bucks this month. I looked at all the food ads for this week and the only thing I could see that I might remotely like to have is a cabbage, asparagus and eggs. I have everything else I need for the week on hand already.

This is my tentative menu for the week. It feels weird to be posting this midweek, but it seems like the past couple of weeks has been filled with auxiliary Sundays. And that is the downside of holidays. As a result I am only posting the menus through Sunday and will start a regular menu plan on a real Monday instead of a fake one. Again this menu is tentative because I am always fickle and tend to resist an inflexible plan.

1. Turkey slices (gravy for hub), mashed potatoes (hub) cauliflower mash (me), green beans, coleslaw
2. Grilled steak, hasselback potato (hub) crudité and dip, keto bread (maybe)
3. Keto Philly cheese steak casserole, salad
4. Leftover ham, sweet potato casserole (hub) collards, keto bread
5. Chili, cornbread (hub) coleslaw

This menu should use the following staples, produce and dairy I have on hand.
lettuce, arugula, tomatoes, cucumbers, coleslaw mix, potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, cauliflower, bell peppers, radishes, sour cream, butter, cheese, heavy cream, coconut milk, olive oil, almond flour, coconut flour, sweetener, and spices

From the freezer:
1 pack sliced turkey
2 porterhouse steaks
2 packs pre-browned ground chuck
partial bag green beans
sweet potato puree

From the pantry:
1 jar turkey gravy
cornbread mix
brown sugar
1 large can tomatoes
1 can kidney beans

Additionally I will be making keto bread and at least one keto dessert, probably coconut "pie"
I have all the ingredients on hand so this will all be from the pantry/refrigerator.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Welcome 2019

I am not looking back and reflecting on my successes or failures for 2018. It is in the past and everything I accomplished or did not accomplish is over and done. The year had some memorable events that I will cherish forever. I have not one, but 2 new DIL's, and I love them both dearly. We had 2 week long visits with Son1 and family, so we had some nice extended Pip time, and of course Facetime now allows us to be a part of her life on a regular basis. Thank you Steve Jobs! Plus life was not unbearable, even though there were some unpleasant moments that were just that__moments.

So today, I am only looking forward and for today I am not looking forward to grandiose plans for the year. I actually spent the morning (OK, early afternoon ) going through the freezer and pantry to see what is there. Can you say tons!  I don't think the 90/52 decluttering challenge is truly about cleaning out the food storage, but I spent much longer than 90 minutes wearing ski gloves and a cap while digging through the freezer. After surveying and rearranging the freezer it looks like we are going to be eating a lot of pork for the next month. Though I have chicken and beef frozen, I have 6 pounds of smoked sausage, 4 pork tenderloins, Italian sausage, Polish sausage, Andouille sausage, 5 packages of bacon, and ham in individual serving packs coming out the wahzoo. (This year was the corporate gift Year of the Pig. TheHub received 2 huge hams plus sausage and cheese assortments. It's kind of funny how the gifts trend from year to year. Last year was the Year of the Cookie and Candy, and the year before was the Year of the Nut and Wine.)

After freezer diving I went on a pantry tour. I have a small pantry just about the width of a small coat closet but just 6 inches deeper than a large cereal box, yet somehow I have managed to fill it to overflowing. I am starting back on keto tomorrow but it looks like TheHub will be enjoying a lot of couscous since I found 4 boxes of it. Note to self: Do Not Buy Anymore Cousous!  And oyster crackers! How does one pantry wind up with 3 boxes of oyster crackers? It is not like we eat chili and soup every meal.

And now begins the prep for our traditional New Year's day meal of ham, black-eyed peas, cornbread and collards. It is supposedly a lucky meal and since I am still above ground, I am going to assume that it works. (Bonus: we really like the way it tastes and I found a Key lime pie in the freezer to put the final touch on the meal. Since we have no traditional dessert I don't feel like I am pushing the bounds of a lucky meal serving it.)

I wish each of you a wonderful, prosperous and                            joy filled New Year !

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Looking Forward

Now that the hustle and bustle of Christmas is a few hours in the rearview mirror, TheHub and I have only bowl games and New Year's Eve in front of us and then comes the new year with its blank slate, clean and shiny, and full of possibilities.

Most years I make some vague attempt at resolutions that are generally highly unlikely and never fit in with my life that has become rather unpredictable. Instead, this year, I want more of a roadmap approach rather than resolutions. I plan to face the year with a guide in place, but nothing inflexible or exacting.

So starting week 1 of 2019 I plan to:

Start the 90/52 decluttering plan found here
The plan is to spend 90 minutes each of the 52 weeks of the year decluttering, one area at a time. If I miss a week I will either make it up the next week or just skip it entirely with no regrets. I have one of those all or nothing personalities and I am not setting myself up for failure with self punishment when life goes awry and my plans go with it.

Continue to use our food storage, particularly the freezer foods.
I am making a big dent in our freezer inventory and want to continue. The plan is to have the contents down considerably by spring, then I will change my typical defrosting date from mid summer to early spring to be ready for berry season and summer produce.

Be more diligent about getting the yard and garden areas ready for planting in the spring.
 (This means taking advantage of any pretty days this winter. Small steps now will have a huge payoff later)

Do one project per month.
I know of a few things I need to do and will add more as I think of them, but here are a few for starters.
1. Recover breakfast room chairs
2. Recover auxiliary dining room chairs
3. Recover music room chaise
4. Sand and refinish kitchen table top
5. Scrub and re-stain lower deck
6. Hang curtains in middle bedroom

Continue with a keto way of eating.

Practice patience

Start a Christmas Fund
This year my aim is to stick 10 or 20 bucks a week in my Christmas fund. I will also add whatever odd job money I get this year to it. Except for a completely new spring/summer wardrobe (after the keto way of eating nothing fit and there was no sense keeping it)  there is nothing I really need or want. I plan on doing a capsule wardrobe for the warm weather so that expense should be relatively small.

Do some feel good things:
1. Either go to or rent a movie to watch by myself
2. Read 2 books a week
3. Have one ethnic meal a week (home cooked)
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)
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)

1. Play Christmas music and do one Christmas craft or make a Christmas gift.
2. Eat a meal in the dining room using china, crystal and silver. There is no point saving them for special occasions only, but I have to hand wash it all so once a month is enough.
3. Call a long neglected friend and arrange to take them for coffee and conversation.
4. Learn a new skill
5. Plan a dinner in or out with another couple

1.Find and enjoy some live music.
2. Go to a play or comedy club
3. Have a mini vacation (Going to the lake place does not count)
4. Have a small dinner party

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Wishing everyone a very, very Merry Christmas
                   from our tribe to yours!

The brunch is long past and the naps are out of the way. Now it is time for leftovers. Feel free to stop by!

Friday, December 21, 2018

My New Favorite Soup

My freezer has been pretty good to the grocery budget lately. I'm currently on a mission to use many foods I had frozen during the spring. I don't want to have to pitch foods just because they find their way into the nether regions of the freezer and wind up with freezer burn. Some of the things I knew were in there but I am also finding odd bits and pieces that need to be used. This has required some creative solutions since I am on a mission to find ways to use them.

 For example, I found 1/2 cup globs of frozen canned pumpkinI stuck in the freezer after using just 1/2 cup when I first opened the can On of our local grocers makes their own sausage and every few days they have the unsold sausage marked down to half price. Whenever I see it I purchase it, bring it home, brown it and immediately freeze the browned sausage. I always have a few bags but the type varies. It might be andouille, Italian, Polish or just a basic sage sausage. (Note to self: start labeling the bags with the type of sausage instead of just the generic term "sausage" )

This pumpkin sausage soup was the result of one of those missions. I found the basics on a keto blog and used it as a starting point for soup. The following is what I actually did.

Shhhh! Don't tell this soup it's not pretty. It gets so many kudos for taste it forgot to care about it's appearance.

1 lb sausage (I used Italian hot sausage, because that was what was browned and frozen)
1/2 small red onion, minced (If you are not doing keto use the whole onion. I was just saving carbs)
1 pepper, diced. (I used 1/2 yellow and 1/2 green red bell peppers because I had both partially used peppers in the fridge)
1 clove garlic, minced (again of you are not doing keto try 2 cloves)
1 pinch salt
1 tsp  sage
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp red chili peppers flakes (optional, but because I used the hot sausage I did not add them, but have added it since when making it with a plain breakfast sausage. I like heat but if you don't, then omit it.)
½ cup pumpkin puree
3 cups chicken broth
1 bag frozen spinach
½ cup heavy whipping cream (If not doing keto use half and half to reduce the fat)
2 tbsp salted butter

The soup prep is pretty basic. Brown the sausage in a pan. (Mine was browned then frozen, so I added about 1 teaspoon of oil along with the sausage to wilt the onions and peppers, since I had drained the sausage prior to freezing it.) After the sausage loses it's pink tint  toss in the onion and pepper until it wilts but does not brown. As soon as they have wilted, turn the heat down and add the garlic, sage and thyme.  Give it a quick stir, letting it cook a little under a minute. You don't want  the garlic to brown or burn. Quickly add the pumpkin and the chicken broth and stir well to combine everything. Toss in the frozen spinach. Let it cook at a slow boil for about 5 minutes then lower the heat. Add the heavy cream and butter and bring the temp to serving temp without letting the cream boil (It will break and be grainy). Everyone else here topped theirs with corn chip crumbles, but I used crumbles pork rinds, as seen in the picture. Not as good as the chips would be but keto compliant and crunchy.

This is some seriously delicious soup. Everyone here really did like it and I have made it twice since the first time I tried it. I think this may become our go-to winter soup. Like most soups it is even better the second day. I am going to start making it the day before I intend to serve it, just for the flavor boost.