Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Disaster Averted

Yikes! I recently bought 6 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs, put them in the laundry room fridge and promptly forgot about them until 10 o'clock tonight.  I was putting up a few things TheHub and I bought when I saw them.  I am pretty sure if I hadn't noticed them I would be throwing them out tomorrow.  So while the rest of the world was in wind down mode I was waiting for chicken to finish baking.

I didn't want to cook it all the same way and I am still doing the paleo thing so I was a little limited with how I was going to make it.  Ordinarily I would just toss it in the oven with a little salt and pepper, bake them off  and chop into pieces for a casserole, chicken tacos, or chicken tetrazzini. Well that was not something I could eat right now so I had to come up with different ways to flavor them while still remaining paleo. I split them into 3 pans (9x13 pyrex)  of approximately 2 pounds each and put on whatever was left of my thinking cap.

Pan 1 was pretty easy.  I had about 1/3 of a bottle of Bragg Ginger and Sesame Dressing.  If you have never tried this I really do recommend getting some.(Well, only get it if you love ginger, garlic and sesame oil) I poured it over the thighs and stuck in it a 350 degree oven. You will notice the bottle is completely empty now.  If any of you know how to make a dupe of this dressing please let me know. I use it all the time and it is a tad pricey!

Pan 2 was pretty easy also. I put the thighs in the bottom the pan, sprinkled them with poultry spices, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper.  I sliced a lemon very thin and put a slice on each thigh then sprinkled 4 ribs of chopped celery and 1 large chopped onion over everything.  I drizzled olive oil over the entire pan and off it went into the oven as well.

Pan 3 took a bit more thinking.  I had about 1/2 cup of paleo mayo (no sugar and made with olive oil) so I decided I would use it somehow.  Still having no idea where it would lead I added about a tablespoon of Chulula, (my all time favorite not too hot sauce)                               >
and approximately 1/2 teaspoon each of coriander powder, oregano and cumin.  I also tossed in 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder for good measure, because everything is better with a tad of garlic.  When I tasted it I thought it was flat and needed some sweetness. Major problem since I am doing no sugar, but out of the corner of my eye I spied 2 mandarins (Halo's, to be exact) so I juiced them and stirred the juice into the mayo mixture.  I tasted it again and it was getting there but I felt like it needed a little more heat, so I added 2 shakes of crushed red pepper, the kind that you find in a pizza place.  And for me I needed 2 more shakes, but we like things hot.  I poured it over the thighs and popped them in the oven where all 3 pans lived happily ever after, or until they were done, whichever came first.

I tried bites of all three and I was right, they tasted completely different.

 The first pan will be served to TheHub over rice (to me over cauliflower "rice") with a green side dish (probably broccoli but maybe asparagus) with a tossed salad.  It has a little bit on an Asian flavor so it should work well with the rice.

The herb baked chicken will be chopped and reheated with sauteed sweet potato cubes and served as a hash. A savory coleslaw will partner well with it, I think.  All the lemon slices will be removed remove before re-warming , but right now they live in the ziploc bag with the chicken so the citrus flavor will intensify a little.

And pan 3. Oh my goodness the bite I had was delicious.  No doubt it will be dinner tomorrow.  I know I will serve a mixed green salad and green beans.  I saved all the baking liquid so I imagine I will serve TheHubs over spaghetti noodles and mine over spiraiized zucchini and ladle a couple of tablespoons of the liquid over the noodles or fake noodles as the case may be.

This is so blooming good.  I am just sorry there is no way for y'all to taste and smell it.  I am blogging about this mainly to have a written "how-to" because I am sure in a couple of days I will have no idea how I made it.  That is the downside of throwing things together and hoping for the best, sometimes it actually is the best and if it's not written down it is very forgettable.

Now I have 2 meals for the freezer and one for tomorrow. Life is good and the chicken did not have to be thrown out. If I didn't have to get Mom's taxes in order tomorrow life would be better than good, it would be grand! But the upside is dinner is ready and Lent is almost over!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

St.Paddy's Emergency Dessert

Thursday at the last minute I invited Mom to eat with us.  I had a large corned beef cooked, 2 heads of cabbage and a 5 pound bag of potatoes so I had more than enough food to include her, but Mom also likes dessert with special meals and I had planned none plus I only  had about 35 minutes until she was coming. So, once again, it was punt time  Lucky for me I keep a couple of cake mixes on hand all the time, mainly because you never know when you will need to punt.

I had my choice of using either the basic yellow cake mix or a butter pecan mix ( I don't remember buying it and wonder if I intended to get 2 yellow cake mixes and picked it up by mistake)  Since butter pecan cake sounded neither tasty nor Irish I used the yellow mix.  I was only going to need dessert for 3 and did not want extra cake hanging around the house so I split the mix in half, added a couple of extra things to it and called it done.  I am telling you in advance this is one of the easiest things I have done, and it looked and tasted (I was told 'cause it is still Lent and all) much different than a cake mix cake.

Mint Chocolate Chip Loaf

1/2 yellow cake mix
2/3 cup water
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon mint extract
1 teaspoon flour
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

In a medium bowl mix the cake mix with the water and the egg.  I didn't want to waste the time getting the mixer out so I beat it about 200 strokes with a wooden spoon until it was smooth and creamy. After it was well blended I added the mint extract and stirred it well. Add the flour to a small bowl and the pour the chocolate chips on top of it.  Stir the chocolate chips until the surface of every chocolate bit is coated lightly with the flour.  Stir into the batter just enough to distribute them through the cake.  Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. Whew 5 minutes to spare and the cake had time to cool while we ate dinner.

Since it was an un-iced cake TheHub stopped by Publix on his way home and bought mint chocolate chip ice cream to go on top of it. (I would have frosted it but I had zero confectioners sugar and did not have enough time to make a cooked frosting.  He prefers something topping his cake, but honestly I think he just used it as an excuse to buy ice cream)

Those who ate it thought it was delicious. It is a pretty good "fool everyone" way to make something very simple turn into something special. I looked at it,  smelled it and wanted to eat it,  but ate another serving of cabbage instead.  The upside is I still have a half of the cake mix, leftover mini chips and mint extract.  I may have to try this after Easter!  Ok!  I will be making it the week after Easter and will consider sharing it, but I will only consider it !  No promises!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


                              Yes it is that time of the year again!  Happy Pollendays!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Quick Dessert for 1

Last night I made this light and delicious dessert because I have not had dessert since Lent began, but mainly because Mama K (AKA Ms.SON1) had posted this to Pinterest and I saw it earlier in the evening. I had everything it called for so I gave it a shot.  Oh man was it ever delicious and did I mention it was also low calorie and paleo. (Do not be put off by the paleo label.  It could be just as easily be made non-paleo and I am sure it would be equally delicious)

 Frozen Pineapple Fluff

1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1/8 cup almond milk or whole milk
1 teaspoon stevia or 2 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla

Put the frozen pineapple in a blender and blend until it is somewhat like pineapple chunky snow.  Add the remaining ingredients and blend until it is smooth.  Put it in a bowl and enjoy.  Do not put it in a bowl, hunt for camera, give up and hunt for the phone, answer the phone and talk to Mom for a few minutes before taking a picture.  It is delicious but does start to melt quickly and if you wait about 3 minutes before eating it this is what you get.

In spite of the slight melt, I felt like I was eating something decadent and really felt like I was being a paleo cheat when I wasn't.  Now that I have found this I might have to start making it a couple of times a week, and this is just my beginning point. Next time I might add a little raw coconut to the pineapple for a pina colada flavor. A little fresh mint maybe? And I can't imagine how delicious it will be during the summer made with a fresh frozen peach.  Mango is another possibility.
Any other ideas you can think of?

Oh and "Beware the Ides of March", yall

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Surprisingly Delicious

Today marks day 33 of the countdown to Easter.   Technically the Sundays in Lent are not counted as part of the fast. For me, I have been refraining from grains, beans, dairy, and sugars of every kind, including the paleo acceptable sweeteners like honey and coconut sugar.  While I have not exactly been enthusiastic about  the Whole 30 concept I have at stayed within the confines of the diet. (Yes, even on the horrid trip to New York and eating out each meal I remained Whole30 compliant.) Well in my way of thinking since Lent does not include Sundays and I have completed the 30 days of the Whole 30 plan, I am giving myself a little break today.  I am staying paleo, but not with the rigorous and demanding limitations of Whole30.

We woke (grudgingly) and went to church, but because of the time change I had no time to make anything for breakfast, and by the time we got home I was really hungry.  I had been pouring over breakfast ideas last night so I knew what I was going to eat this morning. (That is, if you call 12:15 morning)

Although this is a paleo dish, it is really delicious and I wish I had known about it years ago.  I can see eating this once a week, and I haven't eaten any paleo breakfast that I had thought was tasty enough/easy enough to have regularly. I will eat this even when I am no longer doing the paleo thing. (BTW I have knocked off a few pounds, I feel better, plus my skin is looking fantastic so I might stay with a regular paleo diet most of the time.)

                                                     Banana Pancakes

Serves 1

1 very ripe banana
2 teaspoons coconut flour (not on Whole 30 but still paleo)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder (ditto)
pinch cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon pecan pieces

Mash the banana well. Because I loathe bananas (consistency not the flavor) I put mine in the Magic Bullet Blender and pureed it totally. (If chunky pieces of banana don't bother you, you might want to skip this step.)  Add the coconut flour, baking powder, and cinnamon and mix well. Stir the beaten egg and mix thoroughly until everything is nice and creamy. Stir in the pecan pieces and drop the batter onto a heated griddle or pan that has been brushed with coconut oil. Make sure you only make them about silver dollar sized.  Since they have no grain for the egg to bind with they are a little tricky to flip and the smaller sized ones turn relatively easy. (Use my trial and error here so you won't have a mess).  These have to cook a tad longer that traditional pancakes and you don't get the tell tale bubbles to let you know when to flip them.  After the first pancake I realized I needed to turn the heat down a little so they would not scorch during the cooking time.  When the pancake is set flip it to cook on the other side.

Have a plate waiting and sit down and enjoy something delicious and not bad for you at all.  Since the banana is so ripe you need no syrup.  It had a mouth feel much like a slightly undercooked regular pancake, but whatever it lacked in consistency it more than made up for in taste.  It tasted like I was eating banana nut bread pancakes.  Oh my goodness, what a welcome treat! I am not a huge fan of breakfast food anyway, but I could eat this for my meal any time of the day.

I was thinking about what I would do differently next time and the only thing I can think of that might possibly add to the flavor is to toast the nuts before adding them, just because it intensifies the nutty flavor.  They were nearly perfect as they were.

Tomorrow I get back on the Whole30 restrictive paleo plan, but I am already planning on having these next Sunday morning.  I might even be kind and make them for TheHub too!

So for the rest of the day I am going to enjoy the less demanding regular paleo life and tonight there is the promise of a glass of wine or some Armagnac. Woo Hoo!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

What Would You Do?

I saw this the other day and it made me laugh!  According to the Lenten countdown calendar I am on day 30 of Lent with 16.47 days to go.  That is 30 days of no grains, dairy, sugars, beans or anything else that is truly tasty.  It makes me wonder on Easter Sunday, exactly what I would do for a Klondike bar? Or a Russell Stover coconut cream egg? Or a Lindt Chocolate Bunny? Or an Oreo? Or even a piece of toast with butter?  How about the rest of you?  Ever had a period of denial?  Handle it with grace, or pettiness (like I am doing right now)?

Chocolate Dreams live here

Monday, March 7, 2016

Here's Lookin' at Me?

This meme is from Sluggy@Don't Read This:It's Boring.  Self reflection is not always fun.

Four names I go by: Anne, Annie, Mom and that's it unless it's a derogatory name someone calls me behind my back, which is entirely possible.

Four tunes I adore:  Favorites change regularly but the following are on my current playlist and I am always glad when they cycle through. Understand these favorites will probably not be my favorites next week.
Stephen Meyers, Cavatina
Dizzy Gillespie,  A Night in Tunisia
Jethro Tull, Locomotive Breath
Professor Longhair, Big Chief

Four things I hate: Liver, insincerity, jogging, injustice

Four places I have worked: Drugstore, restaurant, bookstore, soda fountain  (this gets me through                                                    college years)                                          

Four things I love to watch: Children playing, moving water, musical theater, really good movies

Four places I have visited: (Just using the most recent 4 places) NYC, Portland (the left coast one), Gulf Coast,  Luverne, Alabama (they do have 2 traffic lights) and Meridian, Mississippi

Four Things I love to eat: Chocolate, meatloaf (yeah I know, but I love it) fresh peaches, popcorn

Four favorite drinks: Strong black coffee, iced tea, pinot noir, very dirty vodka martini

Four favorite shows: House of Cards,  Life in Pieces, The Amazing Race,  The Fall

Four favorite plays: Les Mis, Wicked, Othello, Chicago

Four things I am happily anticipating:  Seeing my granddaughter again, My uncle's 90th birthday party (mini family reunion), Outdoor swimming (I love to swim but not indoors), Son3 performing at The Blue Note in late March.

Four things I am dreading: Completing the faux finish on the exterior wall at the lake house, the current presidential election, possible knee surgery,  spring cleaning

Four items on my bucket list: Learn conversational Spanish, Go to every MLB park, Fall riverboat ride up the Hudson, Go to Portugal.

Four People I think will respond:  No idea, but I am betting it will be no one I know in my 3d life.

                     Now copy this, paste this to your blog and fill in your                                              own  answers.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Slow Roasted Salmon

Disclaimer: This is from several days ago.  We have eaten a ton of grilled stuff with salad since then,

Tonight I was wandering around the 3rd grocery store I had cherry picked today when I realized I had taken nothing out of the freezer for dinner tonight. Thankfully I had noticed wild salmon was on sale and affordable, so that kind of sealed the deal.  I got home the realized I had absolutely no idea how I was going to cook it.  I looked through a couple of cookbooks and found this recipe and voila! I had every single ingredient. (which is why I am so glad I had cherry picked 3 stores or I would not have had even half of the things I needed)  Originally I had picked up a fennel bulb (on sale) for an apple and fennel slaw. Another store had blood oranges on sale and I had sprung for them also.  Lemons were  on sale and Aldi had a 12 jalapenos for a dollar so I bought those to freeze. As a result of the gathering I bought all the things I needed for dinner tonight without realizing it. I love it when the universe makes plans for me!

                                                               Slow Roasted Salmon

Preheat oven to 275 degrees

1 fennel bulb, sliced thinly
1 blood orange, sliced thinly
1 lemon, sliced thinly
1 jalapeno chopped, seeds and all
1 1/2 pounds salmon filets
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a shallow roasting pan (I found a 9x13 pyrex pan worked well) mix the fennel, orange slices, lemon slices and jalepeno.  Salt lightly and stir to blend.  Put the filets on top of the veggie/fruit combo, salt and pepper the top of the fish filets then drizzle the olive oil over them.  Roast in a slow oven for about 40 minutes.  Remove the filets to a platter and spoon the fennel/citrus mix on top of it.
Serve on a plate over cooked couscous (unless you are paleo, then you get nothing underneath yours)

This was a winner meal.  TheHub loved it and Son2 thought it was fantastic also.  I am going to add this to our food rotation.  I think it would be just as good with snapper or grouper so I might try it at least once to see.  If couscous is not your thing it would be great served atop mashed potatoes or rice. Serve it with no grains to keep it paleo because there is nothing tastier than watching everyone else have something to hold all those delicious juices while the paleo eater has them just run all over the plate.

How many Lenten days are left? Oh yeah, 20 1/3.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Climbing Out of a Food Rut

(This is a before and after post.  The beginning I am writing at the meals genesis and the ending will be a brief summary of ease of prep, taste, whether it will be added to the rotation, and what changes I will make if it makes the cut.  I have never written a post in this format and am not sure if I will like it but you are stuck with it today, either way.)

Part 1
Am I the only one who regularly cooks the same meals over and over and over and over ad nauseam? Occasionally I will breakout and try something new but for the most part we have grilled (name your poison) with a side salad.  I am beyond bored with eating the same meal again and again. Tonight I am putting the grill aside to try something we have never eaten before.  Which may be really good or possibly really bad.  No matter, it will be different, and I need different. Gotta make a quick run to The Pig.

Part 2
The Pig had Boston butts on sale, and I just ran up to grab one and also to get some achiote seasoning.  Never heard of it??  Me either until today.  Lucky for me ThePig has a pretty substantial Latin section, so I found it quite easily.  If they did'n't have it I was going to have to punt and cook the roast in cider vinegar, apple juice with onions and apples.

I understand this is a very run of the mill dish in Mexico, but this will be the first time I have ever made it, much less eaten it. So for better or worse here is the recipe.

 Cochinita Pibil

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 3ish pound Boston butt pork roast (also called a shoulder roast)
1/2 pack achiote paste (Actually looks more like little bricks)
1 small can diced medium heat chilis (undrained)
1 large yellow onion, sliced thinly
1 red onion sliced thinly
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 cup salsa
salt and pepper to taste

Brown the pork roast in the coconut oil that has been heated in a large Dutch oven.  When it has browned on each side add the achiote paste and lime juice.  Stir well to blend, then throw in the rest of the ingredients.  Turn the heat to low and let it simmer about 4 hours until the meat is fall off the bone tender.  I served this over toast and wilted spinach in a large bowl.  Make sure you include lots of the delicious sauce.

Part 3


The achiote paste is made primarily of ground annatto seed, cumin and garlic, but you could taste hints of clove and possibly allspice.  It also has a little heat, but it is not at all overpowering. Supposedly annatto is used primarily in the Yucatan region of Mexico but I do not know it to be a fact.  I have never eaten anything like it before, but it is not going to be the last time I do. And you know what the best thing about this dish is? Leftovers, lots and lots of beautiful leftovers!

Next time I will probably cook a pork tenderloin rather than a butt and will cook it in the crock pot for 5 hours?  I won't serve it over toast again. I understand from TheHub the toast added nothing to the meal.  I think next time I might quarter 3 sweet potatoes and let them soak in that delicious sauce which will add enough heft to the dish that toast would be unnecessary.  I will still serve it over wilted spinach though.

Right now I just wish it were tomorrow morning so I could warm it up and eat it again!

Part 4

I don't like posting this way so I will go back to the old "think, cook, eat, describe" format.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

March Joy List

February Joy List

1. Volunteer at Independence Place
2.Volunteer with Homeless Ministry
3. Start tomato seedlings   Bought everything but just didn't get around to it
4. Make a Christmas present
5. Use only meats, chicken or fish from the freezer (No protein buying this month)
6. Make a large dent in the foods in the pantry (Time to use storage items)
7, Start growing sprouts again (I have missed these, especially radish sprouts)
8. Initiate contact with a friend I am no longer in touch with (No one particular but over a lifetime there are many dear folks I have neglected.)  Reconnected with a friend from High School.  Enjoyed the coffee and conversation Carol!
9. Take Mom to visit Uncle Bob (She mentions this weekly and I am available but we still haven't gone)
10. Try a different hair color, even if it is just a temporary rinse Went darker, no bueno!
11. Try a new fruit or vegetable  Tried kohlrabi meh
12. Listen to some ethnic music from a culture I  have not listened to before. Bought and listened to some didgeridoo music.  It is beautiful, but a little of it goes a long way
13. See a play Saw Chicago (for the 4th time)
14. Go to a movie solo in the middle of the day.
15. Repair the sewing machine and refashion some frumpy item found in my closet (thinking black dress)
16. Enjoy Fat Tuesday to its fullest, because Lent starts at 12:01 I did not know it was possible to eat that much chocolate in one day
17. Observe Lent without whining (even to myself) Observing, but whining
18. Take the large food donation to the food bank
19. Get rid of 10 items each week (purge) Way more than 40 items
20. Find and enjoy some free live music.
21. Work on the family cookbook.
22. Take food to someone who is having a hard time.
23. Take Mom out to do something at night each week this month. (She and Dad did a lot at night and she misses the night lights.  My mistake for not catching on to this earlier) Giving this a half mark. Took her some weeks but not others.
24. Have a small dinner party
25. Go for a drive somewhere I have never been before. Bonus points for taking Mom, and even more if we find some quaint little shop to explore.
26. Hand make Valentines My Beloved Sister and I do this every year. Our objective is to make ours to each other funny enough to make them laugh.  Bonus points are awarded if you can catch each other  sipping coffee while reading the card and make them spew
27. Celebrate Chinese New Year (Eat takeout Chinese in the dining room and use the "good" dishes and chopsticks) and Valentine's Day (Dining room candlelight meal, "good" dishes sans chopsticks) And for the record, Valentine's lunch was a grilled hamburger served on China, so no utensils were actually required.
28. Read 4 books. Thanks to Band of Brothers I am on a WW2 kick right now, should be interesting to see what I pick to read. Read 3 1/2 .  Just couldn't finish the 4th by the 29th
29. Reserve one night to be completely video/tv/computer free.  Listen to symphonic music only

March Joy List

1.  Volunteer at Independence Place
2.  Volunteer with  homeless ministry
3.  Find and enjoy free live music Nck Finzer and Chris Ziemba
4.  Go to an art show
5.  Use some form of transportation I don't normally use  Rode the train today
6.  Make a Christmas present 
7.  Work on learning Spanish
8.  Use remainder of frozen meats
9.  Decorate for St. Pat's and then Easter (They are terribly close together this year so maybe just       Easter)   Simple Easter decorations won
10. Plan something special for Mom's birthday Early dinner at Mom's with Sis, TheHub, Mom Son2, and me.  She really liked it though.
11. Take Mom out weekly at night
12. Explore a small town  nearby.  Visit a local business and eat at a local restaurant/diner there.
13. Read 4 books The Things We Bury, The Kitchen House,
14. Paint a couple of pictures for the lake place
15. Try a new to me vegetable, herb or fruit
16. Go to a museum
17. Learn jazz  piano (at least 1 song)
18. Make citrus infused wine for summer  And now the wait begins
19. Begin the seasonal wardrobe change About the time I began, cool weather came back.  Too bad!
20. Refashion at least 1 clothing item.
21. Get rid or 10 items per week
22. Reconnect with someone I have lost touch with.
23. See a play Saw "Million Dollar Quartet"
24.  Go to the park and watch a random little league baseball game
25. Try an ethnic meal from a region I have never tried before
26. Send someone a handwritten congratulatory note.
27. Take food to someone having a rough patch.
28. Try a totally new and different hair style/color
29. Buy and donate an Easter outfit for a kid
30. Keep a gratitude notebook for March, listing every good thing.
31. Eat something chocolaty and gooey after Lent, then hop back on the paleo wagon.
32. Remember to be kind, even when I don't want to be.
33. Do something for someone randomly, expecting nothing in return