Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Bite Size Cheesecake Goodness

I know each and every family has its particular "goodie"favorites. This easy take on bite size cheesecakes is one of ours .  I make them often but not every year. I don't know why I don't make them each Christmas since they are incredibly easy and quite good. Guess I am a slow learner sometimes.

For the cheesecakes
24 ounces cream cheese
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs
Mix with a mixer until mixture is smooth. Spoon into mini muffin pans that have been lined with mini paper cupcake liners. Fill the liners completely full.  Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes. The center will sink slightly.

For the filling
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
Stir well to mix. Spoon into the depression in the cheesecakes. Return to the oven for another 5 or 6 minutes.  Let cool then refrigerate overnight. Remove the paper liners and return to the fridge until serving time. Put a dollop of your favorite red jelly or jam on top of the filling. I prefer raspberry probably because it looks so pretty, but will admit to using whatever I have opened in the fridge. Serve and enjoy.

And now I am off to do the last of the sweet treats. It is fudge making time and then I can do the kitchen deep clean and get the dining room table set for tomorrow.

I hope none of you are having to run around doing anything but what you want to do today.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Christmas Repeat

In the same December 1980 Ladies Home Journal I used for the brandy wreath cookies is a recipe for Nanaimo Bars. I had these for the first time at an Alabama/Auburn pre game party when theHub and I were still a very young married couple. We both thought they were sinfully rich and delicious.

My childhood best friend/college roommate's dad was a sportswriter for one of the Birmingham papers and threw this huge shindig each year. We never missed it because it was a lot of fun with incredible food spread throughout 3 rooms alongside oysters and shrimp on the patio. Kathy and her mom spent months trying out new recipes and always had something different that the crowd had never eaten before. I never got her recipe for Nanaimo Bars, but when I saw these in the LHJ I knew I would make them. I just never knew at the time I would make them every single year and that they would become part of an expected tradition. But they did and now this recipe has been shared time and time again with friends and family.

Nanaimo Bars

The Crumb Bottom Layer
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Grease a nine inch square pan and set it aside. In a sauce pan cook the 1st 6 ingredients over a low heat stirring constantly until the mixture coats the spoon. Remove from the heat and add the crumbs, coconut and pecans. Press evenly and firmly into the prepared pan.

The Filling
1/2 cup softened butter
3 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons milk
Beat the butter, cream cheese and pudding mix with a mixer until it is smooth and creamy. Add the confectioners sugar  and milk. When it is all blended and creamy spread it over the crumb layer. Pop it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Chocolate Top Layer
4 ounces semi sweet chocolate (Use the kind that comes in bars or squares rather than chocolate chips)
1 tablespoon butter
In a small double boiler melt the chocolate and butter. Stir to blend then spread over the chilled cream layer. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm then cut into 1 or 1 1/2 inch squares. Store in the refrigerator.

I save all my Thai take out containers for days like today. They are plastic rectangles, about 2 inches high with snap on lids. They make the perfect goodie storage containers that can be stacked on top of each other in the fridge. TheHub likes them because when using a 9x9 pan there are always 2 pieces that won't fit in 2 containers, which he happily lays claim to.

These are easy to make, delicious goodies. Try them, you might like them, and if not, you can always send them here!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Another Holiday Favorite

While I was stuck at home the other day I decided to bake My Beloved Sister's favorite holiday cookies. I found the recipe in an old Ladies Home Journal. (December 1980, to be exact) I am not exactly sure how the magazine even came into my possession. Perhaps it was one Mom hung onto and I snagged it because it had a huge section of Christmas cookies. No matter, it has become my holiday baking go-to and is filled with all kinds of delicious recipes. Now it is not so much a magazine as it is an assortment of loose pages which live most of the year in a binder, but make an appearance a few days each December for me to do some intense baking.

Brandy Wreaths

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons brandy
1 egg yolk

Cream the butter and sugar in a medium size mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and continue to beat it. Stir in the brandy and vanilla to mix well. Add the flour and salt all at once and mix until well combined.
Technically the recipe suggests you cut the dough into quarters and chill it (covered) for several hours. I just think it is a waste of time, but some of you are rule followers so I am including their suggestion. After the dough has chilled (or not, for those of us who are anarchists at heart) Cut each quarter into 16 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface roll each of the 16 pieces into a "snake" 5-6 inches long. Twist two "snakes" together then form a circle. I use a spatula to transfer them to a parchment covered cookie sheet because I have had too many break when I tried moving them without one. If you do not use parchment it is pretty important to grease your baking sheets. Brush each wreath with the glaze and bake at 325 for 10-11 minutes. Put 3 red hots on the top of the wreath and pop them back in the oven for about a minute and a half or two minutes (Long enough that the red hot will melt enough to stick to the cookie without really melting.
Remove to a wire rack to cook. These will keep for about 2 weeks in an air tight container, or can be frozen for a couple of months.
These little goodies are very tasty and are especially good with a cup of hot tea or a brandy laced egg nog.

If any of you know how to get an ancient issue of this magazine please let me know.  If any of you are magazine hoarders or have a hoarding relative who has this particular issue I would love an intact copy.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

When The Universe Speaks

Every year at Christmas I declare I am going to make chocolate covered cherries like Mom did every Christmas. It was a yearly thing when I was growing up and involved the entire family. Ok it was really a private declaration, but I do tell myself I will, and every year I get busy and don't get around to it util Christmas Eve and then I just don't do it because it is a messy process and who wants a mess then?

This morning I got a phone call at 7 and it was TheHub letting me know he had walked off for work  with my keys in his suit pocket??? He works on the other side of town and even though he said he would bring them back to me later in the day, I know how he works and something always comes up that requires his attention. I figured he would not be here before mid-day at best (but I honestly was not expecting him at all)

If I was going to be stuck at home I figured it was as good of a time as any to get a couple of Christmas goodies baked, then got hit with a lightning bolt idea. "You have all morning and the ingredients. Make the blooming chocolate covered cherries"

Small jar maraschino cherries, drained
 (I prefer the stemmed ones)

1/2 cup butter, softened (I have used margarine in the past)
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 tablespoon milk (cream or almond milk work as well)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cream the butter then add the confectioners sugar. Beat well with a mixer or strong arm it with a wooden spoon. I don't care which method you use and the end result is the same. I tend to use a wooden spoon only because I like to have the easiest clean up possible, plus I can be delusional and pretend I am burning enough calories while stirring to offset a finished cherry. Add the milk and vanilla and stir to make a thick buttercream. (Almost the consistency of play dough)

This is where the mess begins. Take an amount of the paste about twice the size of your cherries and roll it into a ball, then flatten it into a patty about the size of a chocolate covered mint. The heat from your hands will cause the paste to soften so work quickly.

Place the cherry in the center and kind of pinch it to cover as much of the cherry as you can.

Then roll it into a ball, leaving the stem sticking out of the top of the ball. Place them on a plate but make sure they do not touch. When they are all covered pop them in the refrigerator.

Melt unsweetened*  (Yes, I wrote that correctly) chocolate in a double boiler, or if you are like me put a small coffee mug in a pan of water and put the chocolate in it. This is an imprecise amount. I start with about 3 ounces of unsweetened squares. I use Baker's because that is what I find in the stores regularly. I am sure you can find much better, but since I am just using it for dipping these, the Baker's is perfectly fine. I add a little butter to the chocolate to make it set a little better. My mom used to use paraffin but I try to refrain from ingesting petroleum products. You can use shortening instead of butter but I don't use it so it is something I do not keep.  (The last time I bought any, it stayed in the pantry so long it was rancid)

Now we find the reason I prefer stemmed cherries. I hold the stem and dunk them in the melted chocolate. let the excess drip back into my dipping mug and set them on a wax paper covered baking sheet. That's right! I got on my high horse about not ingesting petroleum products but will use waxed paper. I suppose I could butter parchment paper to create my own, but that is just a step I am not willing to take.

When all have had a chocolate bath and are resting  I stick the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for them to set. When the chocolate is firm I take (peel) them off the waxed paper and store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

                                                                      The finished product!

   And because I am a selfless human, I sacrificed and bit into one so y'all could see the interior.
        (Also because of the sacrifice and my aversion to wasting food, I HAD to eat it)

And as long as I am dipping and messy I might as well go ahead and dip the pretzels I found in the pantry along with a package of white chocolate bits. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Another Listen

This is a video about the upcoming album A Very Chimytina Christmas filled with holiday sounds. Thought y'all might like to see and hear this very talented bassist again.

Friday, November 29, 2019


Yesterday I cooked the turkey carcass on low heat from the after meal clean-up, through the night, until noon today. What's for lunch? A big bowl of super rich turkey broth with pilot crackers. So good after all the overindulging yesterday. And the biggest payoff is 3 quarts of broth for the freezer.
Happy loosening the belt day!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Just For Today

Thankful today and everyday for all the blessing in my life, including a wonderful group of blogging friends.  Wishing each and every one of you a Happy Thanksgiving or Happy Thursday (depending on your location) Y'all are the best! Now get off the computer and go eat some turkey!

Sunday, November 24, 2019

It's That Time Again

Once again I am coordinating a Holiday Card swap among our blogging community. If you would like to be included please email me at (This is the email I use only for the  card exchange each year)

The rules are pretty simple. You will mail three cards to other bloggers and will receive 3 cards. You can make your own or buy them or do whatever you wish as long as you extend the greetings. This is open to all of you since I sincerely believe the world needs a little more kindness right now.

If you are interested just let me know. Leave your name, blog name (or blog reader name) and a mailing address. I will let you know who you are to send the cards to, and hopefully we can all enjoy the interaction.


Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Hark, How the Bass!?!

A friend of Son3's is releasing a Christmas Album on December 6. I personally have no idea why they are still called albums. I am old enough that I have a decent collection of the old vinyl albums, complete with scratch induced white noise and pops. Those are albums! Digital releases are something entirely different in my way of thinking. Nonetheless, Dan Chmielinski is a very talented bass player and a sincerely nice guy. Follow the link which will lead to a sample song link.  I ordered a copy since I love Christmas music and am partial to jazz. Give it a listen. I don't think you will be disappointed, and if you feel inclined order, and support young musicians.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Whatsa Been Happening

As usual I make some sort of meal plan for the week. Somedays we have a variation of the planned meal and some days we go in a very different direction. This was no different!

Last week I decided to get everything I had planned, out of the freezer and put into the meat drawer of the refrigerator on Monday. It is a good thing I did! The smaller packages thawed by Wednesday, but the pork tenderloin is still icy this morning. I guess the meat drawer might be a little too cold.

These were the possible meals:

And these were the actual meals we ate:

Monday:Things happened and as usual I started the day with Mom. I don't think there was anything eventful but I honestly don't remember.
Stuffed acorn squash, coleslaw, stewed apples (TheHub) keto cornbread

Tuesday: Ditto for Tuesday. Additionally I rounded up all the Christmas presents I have bought throughout the year and got everything nicely wrapped and tagged. I still have a more shopping to to get done, but it is nice to have this much ready.
Smoked brisket, broccoli and cauliflower medley, mashed potatoes (TheHub)

Wednesday: I start the day out at Mom's, then go to class every Wednesday. Next I go to the store and buy whatever she needs for the week. It was kind of cool so I changed plans from the intended taco salad.
Taco soup

Thursday: Had a longer than normal Dr. appointment with Mom. She had to have a protracted EEG and when the technician told us she would be in the test for about 1 1/2 hours, T, her daytime caregiver and I went to Aldi and wandered around for almost an hour. We both might have bought several things from their Aisle of Shame. After I got Mom back home I ran a few more errands. Meanwhile TheHub called and suggested we go to the wine tasting at ThePig then to The Red Pearl for dinner. I am never going to argue with a man who wants to take me to dinner.
Out to eat  (basil chicken, with sides of spinach and mushrooms

Friday: It was a day like most days!
Mississippi chicken over noodles (TheHub) or caulirice, cucumber slices, tomato wedges

Saturday: Ball game day here! TheHub and I got up and got dressed for game day. I was nice and made him a huge breakfast
Leftover chili with corn chips (TheHub), turkey, coleslaw, pepper slices and pickles (me)

Sunday: We went to see "Midway" and afterward we I did not really want to cook
Doggie bag from Chinese restaurant (TheHub) Repeat of Saturday night (me)

Now on to meal possibilities for this week ( in no particular order):

1. Pork tenderloin, caulitato salad, collard greens, keto cornbread
2. Hot dogs, tater tots (TheHub) coleslaw
3. Chicken in mustard cream sauce, tossed salad, caulimash, brussels sprouts
4. TheHub is on his own. I am having a little surgical procedure Thursday and he can get whatever he wants. Since I can't eat until afterward I am saying to Hell with keto for the day and having ice cream.
5. Vegetable beef soup with keto cornbread
6. Spaghetti sauce over noodles or zoodles, french bread or keto rolls, tossed salad
7.  Grilled cheese (TheHub) and leftover soup with salad (me)

Hope everyone has a wonderful week, doing whatever makes your week wonderful!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Krispy Kreme Keto Knockoff

Sunday we went to see Motherless Brooklyn. It was only showing at the theater we like to use the most at one time on Sunday, 12:10, so we went prior to lunch. Popcorn is NOT keto and I knew I would not be eating it and TheHub did not want that much for just himself. By the time the movie was over  we were getting hungry and the vegetable soup in the fridge was calling our names. I personally love it when all I have to do is ladle and nuke something. It was close to four when we ate lunch so we decided to skip dinner__almost.

I had been craving something sweet and, though he is not keto, TheHub is watching his sugars also. I kept seeing this recipe for keto Krispy Kreme doughnuts and thought I would give them a try. I never think any keto  dessert recipe is going to taste exactly like it is supposed to, but occasionally they do taste pretty good, even though they are nothing like the original. This was one of those very pleasant surprises.

The doughnut
2 tablespoons coconut flour
6 tablespoons almond flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons monkfruit sweetener
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 beaten eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all the dry ingredients well, add the eggs and the coconut oil and stir like mad. The mixture will be thick. Pack it into a pastry bag or a zip lock bag with one corned snipped off. Squeeze the dough into a doughnut pan. (I imagine squeezing it onto a parchment lined cookie sheet in a doughnut shape would work as well) and bake for about 16 minutes. This makes 4 doughnuts.

The glaze
1/4 cup monkfruit sweetener
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons coconut oil

Begin this when the doughnuts go into the oven. In a shallow pan mix the monkfruit sweetener and the water. Cook on medium for a minute or two stirring constantly then add the coconut oil. Continue stirring and lower the heat to medium low. When you take the doughnuts out of the oven remove the glaze from the heat but keep stirring. As soon as the doughnuts can be handled (but while they are still very warm) dip them in the glaze mixture (top and bottom). Set on a cookie sheet to dry and repeat with the remaining doughnuts.

Instead of dinner, we each had a doughnut and coffee (me) diet drink (TheHub). We won't make this a habit, but it is nice to know it satisfied the yearning for a dessert. I have all the weird flavorings that came in the collection when I bought the cornbread extract, so next I might try blueberry doughnuts, or pumpkin spice, or even carrot cake.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Eating, Eating, Eating

This is what I had decided might be our meal possibilities for the week. As usual what I thought might happen and what actually did were two entirely different things, but it was all good and we were fed every night.

1. Spaghetti, salad, garlic bread or keto roll
2. Smoked sausage, cabbage, new potatoes (TheHub)
3. Veggie soup, keto cornbread
4. Mississippi chicken, coleslaw,  squash casserole
5. Stuffed bell peppers, pear and kale salad
6. Seared scallops, tossed salad, new potatoes
7. Out to eat at our favorite local restaurant (delayed anniversary celebration, the earliest reservations we could get) Absolutely will not be a Keto meal and this is why!
Monday: I spent the entire morning with Mom and My Beloved Sister, who took a day of vacation to go with me, to Mom's new neurologist. Her former one had the unmitigated gall to die right before her scheduled 3 month appointment, which meant we had to find a new one.  I  found someone Mom agreed to see and it took 3 months to get a "new patient" visit. In addition to filling out an insane amount of new patient paperwork, she had/has to go through a myriad of tests that we had already done with the previous neurologist.  I have no idea why her records were sent from the former doc to the current one if they were going to be totally disregarded. Anyway Mom's appointments for the month of November through December seem to be piling up.
After the protracted office visit, I had to go get groceries for Mom along with a few other things she needed, then run a few errands of my own. I got home shortly before TheHub was leaving work and needed a quick meal. Since I am drowning in cabbage had plenty of produce and some sausage in the fridge I managed to make our favorite 15 minute meal.
Smoked sausage with cabbage, new potatoes (TheHub)

Tuesday: Had my usual morning with Mom, went shopping (again for her) come home and treated myself to a little reading time. Then it was time to put on a very happy face and some grown up clothes for our  delayed anniversary celebration. Though this looks like a lot, TheHub and I split everything except drinks.
Martinis, farm lettuces, baked grits, grilled duck breast (me) grilled snapper (TheHub) basque cake, and coffee (The only thing keto was the coffee. Worth. Every. Bite.)

Wednesday: I am not even sure what happened. I know I began the day at Mom's because I start every day going there. I have class on Wednesday so I went there too. Afterward I ran to a different town about 12 miles south of my burb mainly because they have the biggest Walmart in the metro area and I have been looking all over creation for a small crewneck white sweatshirt  for Mom. It must also feel perfect to the touch, even though I am a little uncertain what perfect to the touch feels like) No dice with that search,  but I could find every other size. So I struck out and then headed for Aldi to buy Mom a poncho they had advertised. When we were at the doc's earlier in the week Mom froze and I thought the flannel poncho would be a good thing for us to have every time we go to any doctor's appointments. She freezes every time and one less thing that upsets her is a bonus for me.  I am seriously impressed with my purchasing ability because this is 2 times in the past 2 months that I have bought something for her and  she actually found nothing wrong with either of tham. Score! Additionally I got home early enough to actually cook.
Stuffed bell peppers, squash casserole, coleslaw, stewed apples (TheHub)

Thursday: The Misfit box arrived this afternoon. It was by far the best one yet, but I am still on the fence about continuing it or not. I think I might like buying what I want when I want it better than just getting random produce then having to incorporate it into meals. Keto and apples are not friends, and TheHub only likes Honeycrisp apples. I have cooked apples with the ones from the prior boxes and today 3 more came. I might make an apple cake to take to Mom's just to get rid of them. I made pear butter to use the pears, and am looking for a way to use 4 pomegranates. Today 2 more large squash came, along with another head of cabbage. It is a lovely head of cabbage but I still had 1/2 head in the fridge from last time. Lots of veggies to use with little or no plan to use them only meant one thing.
Vegetable beef soup. french bread or keto rolls

Friday: I honestly have no idea what happened Friday other than we ended the day with  an early dinner before I put on flannel pj's and we settled in to a home date night watching a very strange movie with Amazon Prime.
Spaghetti sauce over pasta or keto bread ( no zucchini for zoodles__oops!) tossed salad.

Saturday: Ball game day! Roll Tide (They lost and LSU won but it was a good game to watch) DIL2 and Shelby the dog were here with me having a watch party while TheHub and Son2 went to the game. They came home after the game and we ate together before they went home to their house.
Chili, green chili, charcuterie platter 

Sunday: For the first time this week I had a Mom free day. It was wonderful! TheHub and I went to see Motherless Brooklyn and it might have been Edward Norton's finest performance. It is kind of a film noir gumshoe detective tale but was so well played. Also there was a jazz band playing in a couple of scenes and I looked at TheHub and asked if that was Russell Hall on bass, a friend of Son3's. I stayed and watched the credits and lo and behold it was.
Because we went to an early movie we did not eat lunch and came home after the movie to eat lunch/supper combo meal.
Leftover veggie soup and french bread or not.

And now on to possibilities for the upcoming week:

1. Smoked beef brisket (from the freezer) green beans, mashed cauliflower, rolls or keto rolls
2. Mississippi chicken (from the freezer), rice or caulirice, tomato cuke and onion salad
3. Taco salad, corn chips (or not)
4. Seared scallops, tossed salad, roasted veggies, new potatoes
5. Stuffed acorn squash, coleslaw, stewed apples
6. Out to eat. We seem to go at east once a week so I might as well include it.
7. Roasted pork tenderloin, collard greens,  caulitato salad keto cornbread

         I thought I might include a little snippet of Russell Hall on bass for your listening pleasure

                 Hope you all have a wonderful week filled with fun, food, and fellowship.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

This Week in Chow Town

These were the meal possibilities I thought might happen this past week. I do like calling them possibilities rather than a plan, because if they are just possibilities I don't feel like a failure when it changes.

1. Steak, new potatoes, tossed salad, grilled squash
2. White bbq chicken, caulitato salad, collards, keto or regular rolls
3. Veggie soup keto corn bread,
4. Hot dogs, tater tots (or not) coleslaw (We have had this every Halloween for the past 30+ years)
5. Chili, keto corn bread, some side vegetable tbd
6. Mississippi chicken over mashed potatoes or caulimash, tossed salad
7. Hamburgers, tater tots (or not) all the fixings that go with burgers.

Monday: Was up early to deal with Mom and then had a couple of appointments. I came home, did a few minor things (like laundry) then went back to see Mom again. TheHub called while I was sitting across the room from Mom watching her glare at me  visiting with Mom and suggested we cook something out since it was a gorgeous night. Win!
Steak, new potatoes (TheHub) caulirice (me) tossed salad, baguette (TheHub)

Tuesday: Morning with Mom who was sound asleep until the daytime caregiver came. Best. Morning. Ever.
Afterward I had to take care of some business, then my car veered into Ulta's parking lot. I had no choice but to get out and look at products I have absolutely no idea how to use what is new in the world of makeup. I did buy a set of false eyelashes (because one of the caregivers told me I have crappy eyelashes and need to wear them) and some black lipstick (Halloween). I must be some sort of peasant because I have no idea why anyone would need most of the products in the store. But then most people who wear makeup probably spend more than 5 minutes applying it. I tried to put on the eyelashes and afterward I thought my own nubby lashes were better than what looked like wooly caterpillars crawling across my eyelid about 1/8 inch above my lash line. Some of us just aren't meant to be beauties!
Forgot to allow for book club this week on the meal plan. Glad TheHub had leftovers.
Dinner out with gal pals. We did not mention the book once!

Wednesday: My Beloved Sister took the day off and went to Mom's for the gap this morning. Not having to go there for the morning was sheer bliss. In fact I did not go there once on Wednesday and the earth continued its orbit, though Mom called me (twice) to let me know I did not come see her. Maybe it was better when she did not remember how to use the phone. I used the day to do a little self care and it was wonderful. I had planned on throwing chicken on the grill, but the downpour of Biblical proportions  rain made it impossible. Dinner was mainly heating things I had cooked previously and frozen.
Sautéed chicken thighs with mushrooms, collard greens, keto mac and cheese (mac free made with cauliflower instead)

Thursday: Halloween! Had to get my spooky on and be ready for the treat or treat brigade. TheHub and I had the same meal we have every single year on Halloween night. It started when our older sons were young and needed to eat before they headed out for the Halloween candy tour. We have not had little kids in a long time, but we still eat our holiday meal like we always did.
Hot dogs (bun optional) with all the fixings, coleslaw, baked beans (TheHub)

Friday: Friday was a normal day, starting with going to Mom's in the morning, heading home and doing some routine chores, including getting rid of Halloween decor and gussying the foyer and dining room with a touch of Thanksgiving.

We have only been to the lake place two times since April and only stayed overnight once.  We needed to check on a few things and start the winterizing process so TheHub and I decided to go to the lake for the night. We thought spaghetti would be a good meal because I could make the sauce in advance, pack it, the fixings for a salad, then cook the pasta when we got to the lake. It would be virtually no effort, we could eat quickly then enjoy the sunset over the lake while sitting on the porch So I made it, and we headed to the lake.

Once we opened the door I noticed an unpleasant smell. Then I walked into the kitchen and found a couple of baskets on the floor. Though unusual, I could very well have left them unbalanced on the counter. We do have one lake neighbor with an incredible sound system on his boat and it does vibrate the house sometimes. It could have easily knocked them off. No worries, until I walked to the sink to put water in the pot for spaghetti. Hmmmm, glass was everywhere, the Moscow mule cups that live in the window sill were in the sink, along with my watercolor brushes that live in a glass jar next to the cups. Crap I knew then a critter had been in the house and I figured it was not a little field mouse. We started looking around the cabin and found a dead smelly squirrel in TheHub's "relaxing" chair. Fortunately it had not been dead long enough to start decomposing, however the stench might have killed the chair. After removing the critter we had to run into town for some cleaning supplies. While we were out shopping we decided the best thing to do was walk around in the night air for a minute to get the smell out of our brains (thank you bbq joint that was cooking pork over a hickory pit). Neither of us wanted to eat in the still smelly house so we went out to eat.

When we got back to the cabin we cleaned the upholstery then removed the offending chair to the screened porch.  Time will tell if it is a keeper or if we need to get rid of it, but at least it can not continue to foul the house. After removing it the smell was gone, so we did go ahead and spend the night, but left shortly after waking.
Mediterranean food in a small sit down place, chicken shawarma for me, kabob pita for TheHub  (No way we were taking it back to the lake place to eat)

Saturday: As I have said before, we are big fans of college football, particularly the SEC, and specifically Alabama (Roll Tide). There were some really good games Saturday even though Alabama was not playing. Since we left the lake early we thought we would go to the Russian food festival, eat and then get back in time to watch most of the Georgia/ Florida game on tv. The festival is at a Russian Orthodox  church in Brookside Alabama. It is a small town about 10 miles northwest of Birmingham in what was once a coal mining community. It seems that the town, at one time, was predominately a Slovak community (very much an oddity for Alabama, since most of the early miners were Irish or Welsh) . The Church is still active in the community, (relatives of the original occupants maybe?) and puts this festival on yearly. I had never even heard of it until last year and we could not make it then, so we set out to have a little ethnic treat.  Yep, us and every other person in Alabama. We parked a couple of blocks away and got in line very near to where we parked. After 45 minutes we had moved approximately 1/2 of a block with about 200+ people in line ahead of us. After timing how long it took for each person to get through the doors (no  idea how long the line was from the door to the food) we decided to bail. We calculated at the rate it was moving it would take us at least an additional hour just to get up the stairs and through the door.

While waiting we talked with a lovely young couple in line ahead of us about the various food festivals in our area. We mentioned how much we enjoyed the Brazilian festival and it turns out the man was from Brazil and had helped with the festival. He told us the Brazilian way of grilling a steak and even told us where and what kind of salt to buy. On the way home we stopped at a Latin super store to get bbq salt.  I had been there several times but it was a first for TheHub. We wandered around it for a while and bought much more than the salt. I think what I like best about this particular market is the way they have things organized. Different aisles have specific foods from different countries, and the produce sections is nothing like, Aldi, The Pig or Publix. For someone like me it was almost like being a kid in a candy store.  If the ball game had not already started, or if I were alone, I would have browsed the store for a couple of hours.

Because we did not get the much awaited meal, and were hungry after seeing all the different foods at Mi Pueblo, we stopped at Arby's near our house. What a let down after anticipating a delicious lunch.
It was later when we ate and we decided to skip a traditional dinner and watch the Auburn Ole Miss game while we snacked.
Roasted peanuts, cheese, chips (TheHub), Halloween candy (TheHub) Keto chocolate cup (not TheHub)

Sunday: Daylight savings time is in the rear view mirror and the nights are getting dark much to early for me. I do not really like to eat before dark, but with it getting dark so early it feels like the nights last forever and makes me want to eat earlier. The conundrum of it, is I generally do not start thinking of cooking until after 6, but now we will be eating about that time.  I will have to either start dinner earlier or have everything done in advance so I just have to rewarm and serve. I think I will opt for rewarming and serving since I never know what Mom the day will demand. Sunday was as good a day as any to do some massive prepping. 
Chili, keto corn muffins

I mentioned last week, I have subscribed to the Misfit boxes. It is a supposed rescue mission for odd shaped produce that is perfect except for its appearance. I have received 2 boxes now and am unimpressed and left with produce that I am allergic to or have no use for. (Keto and an abundance of fruit do not go hand in hand) Instead of throwing it away (minus the eggplant which I have a severe allergy to even though I love it, so I did toss that) I am having to do a lot of processing and freezing various fruits. I was produce heavy before the last box was delivered and now I am trying my best to incorporate most into my meals. It might not be something I want to continue during the winter. I will give it one more delivery and then I believe I will have a better feel for whether it is worth my time and money or not. Meanwhile I am adding celery to everything and making pear butter tomorrow!

Meal possibilities for the coming week:
1 Spaghetti, salad, garlic bread or keto roll
2. Smoked sausage, cabbage, new potatoes (TheHub)
3. Veggie soup, keto cornbread
4. Mississippi chicken, coleslaw,  squash casserole
5. Stuffed bell peppers, pear and kale salad
6. Seared scallops, tossed salad, new potatoes
7. Out to eat at our favorite local restaurant (delayed anniversary celebration, the earliest reservations we could get) Absolutely will not be a Keto meal and this is why!

Monday, October 28, 2019

According to Plan or Not

This is the meal plan I came up with for last week, As usual things change around here based on TheHub's work schedule and of course Mom's needs.  I planned this around foods I had one hand or in the freezer. I intended to buy only a little produce this week, but I had signed up for the Misfits produce subscription box and it arrived this week.I have a lot of produce to use, but, other than the celery, none is anything I would normally buy.  I was less than pleased with it but will give it one more chance and if I still feel this way it will be cancelled. 

1, Keto German pork roast, cabbage, asparagus, mashed potatoes or cauli mash
2. Leftover roast, collards keto corn muffins
3. Spaghetti sauce with noodles or zoodles, tossed salad
4. (Anniversary Dinner) Pan seared scallops, asparagus, tossed salad,  potatoes (we are going out to celebrate the week after, but will have this on the actual day, unless TheHub goes to the Alabama game. If he does we might have this on Sunday.We have had so many anniversaries that I am OK either way)
5. Some type of soup with salad
6. Hot chicken salad, spinach, rolls or keto rolls
7. Sausage appetizer tray, tossed salad

And this is what really happened:

Monday: Had my usual morning with Mom. Thank heavens for the delete key her because I just unloaded frustrations here, but was able to get rid of them before publishing. I think venting to an invisible audience helped.
German pork roast, cabbage and asparagus

Tuesday:  Another day, another Mother day, another frustration added to the pile.  I am finding I have little patience with someone who is in a situation she cannot control and I truly do understand that. But this progression has magnified the more unpleasant parts of her personality making a sometimes difficult and demanding personality often unbearable.
Hot chicken salad, spinach

Wednesday: This was my day for my regular class so I had to be fully dressed and ready to go to Mom's for the 7:30 morning ordeal. This particular day started a little rough for her., which means it is also a little rough for me. Then after class I go do her mid week shopping at 3 different stores for  groceries because some of the things she uses are only available at one store. I also had to go buy her some new clothes. She has lost so much weight that all of her existing clothes are falling off of her.  I had just gotten to her house with food and clothes when the sitter told me of 3 more food items she needed that day. WTH! Text me!
TheHub called and I was seething venting about my frustrations dealing with  Mom's care. He wisely suggested we meet for a drink and to grab a quick bite to eat. Smart man! This is just one reason I still love him. He brought me a candy bar and suggested I not do keto for the evening. Another reason to still love him.
Laap from our favorite Thai dive and chocolate

Thursday: I was at Mom's not one, not two but three times before 3 pm. We did finally get her out for a little socialization. Her Sunday School class had their monthly luncheon and her caregiver and I managed to get her looking very nice (a first since August) and took her. Then we left for an hour so she could visit and eat.  When we got her back in the car all she did was gripe about how horrible it was. I @#&*ing give up!
When TheHub called about going to the wine tasting at The Pig I thought it was a splendid idea. They have a very nice wine shop in the store and every Thursday different distributors  are there  pitching their product (4-6 different wines each week) We always pick up a couple of bottles of something new to us after tasting them. On the way out, we noticed how beautiful the sky was and rode to the bluff to watch the sunset.  Once it was done we went across the street to a little restaurant instead of going home and cooking.
Veggie plate okra, collards, mashed potatoes (oops no keto Thursday either) 

                                      Unfiltered from the crest at sunset

Friday: Lots of Mom interaction again Friday. I think I was there 4 different times. It was raining cats and dogs and I needed to take Mom because she requires help getting in and out of the car along with walking. The sitter could not drive her, park, get her out of the car  and hope to keep her dry.  I got to sit in the parking lot for an hour, because obviously I have nothing better to do other than whatever Mom needs/wants and on Friday the most important thing in her world was a trip to the beauty parlor (a true walk back in time type of place) . With all the going in and out of Mom's I got soaked about 3 times, so I came home made soup and keto cornbread.  We are exciting Friday night folks. As soon as dinner was over I threw on my pj's and we watched a movie.
Veggie beef soup, keto corn muffins

Saturday: Game day and Anniversary! We woke and got dressed to go out to eat breakfast. It was later in the morning when we actually got there and we were pretty full when we left. We ran by the store to pick up a few things for Mom, stopped by her house and then came home to sock in and watch football games. At about 3 we had a bowl of leftover soup and decided we did not want to eat diner.
That night TheHub ate some Fritos and I had some nuts and cheese.
Snack food

Sunday: After church we were hungry since neither of us had eaten anything. We decided to have our main meal at lunch because we could! At supper time TheHub had another bowl of soup and I had pickles and an almost almond butter and sugar free jelly sandwich (small bowl with a tablespoon of almond butter topped with a dollop of sugar free blackberry jam). This is what we had for lunch instead.
Leftover German pork roast over mashed potatoes (TheHub), coleslaw

On to the new week which I hope will be better and I hope I will be less pissy.
Instead of a plan I think I am going to call it meal possibilities. It is a little more truthful.

1. Steak, new potatoes, tossed salad, grilled squash
2. White bbq chicken, caulitato salad, collards, keto or regular rolls
3. Veggie soup keto corn bread,
4. Hot dogs, tater tots (or not) coleslaw (We have had this every Halloween for the past 30+ years)
5. Chili, keto corn bread, some side vegetable tbd
6. Mississippi chicken over mashed potatoes or caulimash, tossed salad
7. Hamburgers, tater tots (or not) all the fixings that go with burgers

I need some uninterrupted time at home to do some serious keto prep. (Keto cookies, keto cake, keto waffles. . . yep all the really important foods)

I just reread this and noticed how negative I sound. It really was a bad week with Mom and I am hoping for a better one this week, even though she has already told me how disappointed she is in me. She is still convinced we are keeping her in a facility rather than in her house.  So I am leaving this up for me to read some other bad week and know it is survivable.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

German Pork Roast

Meals here become boring and rather routine, so occasionally I try something we have never had before. Sometimes it works and is worth repeating and sometimes it is a one and done event, with a promise that is will never happen again. The German pork roast we tried last night is one of those things we will have again and again. The flavor profile was really nice and different from what we eat most of the time. This is not a recipe but more of a how to. I figure you are all smart and can figure the amounts you need by yourself based on the size of your roast.

German Pork Roast
1 pork roast (I used a loin but a shoulder is fattier and might cook a little moister than the loin)
olive oil
caraway seed
dried marjoram
white vinegar

Rub the roast with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper then cover the top and bottom with marjoram followed by caraway seed. Put oil in a hot pan and sear the top and bottom of the roast. Place in a slow cooker on low. Cook for about 2 hours then add about a half cup of water and a tablespoon or 2 of vinegar (for a smaller roast use 1, larger roast use 2). Continue to cook for about 5 more house.  I took about 1 cup of the cooking liquid, added about 1/4 cup sour cream and a tablespoon of arrowroot, then cooked it over a low heat to make a gravy. This was a really unnecessary step and would have been just as good with some of the pan juices over the pork.  I sliced it last night and poured the gravy over it, but after we had eaten it I shredded the remaining for leftovers. The pork loin I cooked was quite large and well will get a minimum of 4 meals from it.
Right now 2 packs are in the freezer for desperation dinners when time is short, and one container is in the fridge for later in the week.

Both TheHub and I thought this was extremely tasty and well worth making again. I am not sure what I would do differently, possibly add some whole grain mustard to the cooking liquid mainly for color. Even without it, the taste was spot on. Give it a whirl, it's worth the little effort it took to make something so good.

Monday, October 21, 2019

It's a Mouthful

After several weeks of no meal planning I returned to my usual planning and then changing what I had planned. The following is what I had planned:

1. Soup and bread (either keto cornbread or dinner rolls)
2. Keto pork stew over broccoli
3. Leftover Brazilian, tossed salad
4. Sesame chicken over rice or cauli rice, asparagus
5. Philly cheesesteak one pot dish
6. Corn dogs , coleslaw
7. Chili, keto cornbread, cucumber slices

Monday: Happy Birthday to TheHub, whose birthday I promptly forgot until early afternoon. As usual I get to start my day going to Mom's house where there is a time gap in her home care. When her daytime caregiver got there I had to run a few errands for her and had just enough time to come home, shower and dress to take her to a dentist appointment. She wanted to stop by Walmart and look at things (thank you Walmart for having a wheeled seated cart so I could push her around the store without her being in a wheelchair. She refuses to sit in a wheelchair, even though it would make her life much easier) I got home remember the birthday and made plans for us to go celebrate.
Inexpensive Mexican dinner (Fajitas without the rice, beans or tortillas are keto. Hurrah)

Tuesday: Except for my morning at Mom's I spent the day doing food prep in one fashion or another. I did actual prep with a lot of beef. The Pig had a super deal on ground chuck and pork tenderloins. I bought about 15 pounds of chuck and 5 tenderloins. Sine the tenderloins are cryovac  sealed all I had to do was find space in the freezer for them. I browned 3 pounds of the chuck and put it in freezer bags, made chili, spaghetti sauce, picadillo, meat loaf, froze hamburger patties, but all of that needed a place in the freezer. Uh oh! I wound up taking things out, rearranging and taking some things out that needed to be used right away, both to clear space and because they had been frozen a good while. That lead to a whole other round of cooking. In addition to the stuff in the freezer, I now have a couple of soups made, 2 jars of veggie stock, blueberries for a buckle or pie, and 2 veggie casseroles in the auxiliary refrigerator. Somebody at this house has got to do some serious eating. After also doing a thorough refrigerator inventory, the only thing I am buying for groceries this week is a rack of lamb that Aldi has on sale. I am unsure if I will get one or two but I will butcher the rack and put it in meal size serving bags. Then on a night I need something quick I can take them out of the freezer  to thaw and throw them on the grill.
Leftover Brazilian (TheHub) Leftover pumpkin soup (me)

Wednesday: As usual I got up and went to Mom's house right out of the chute. I left her house to go to my Wednesday class but felt really bad, so I came home, read and rested for a little bit. Afterward I put Mom's new rollator together , which I hope will make taking her out of the house a little easier.
TheHub decided to come home rather than go to the dinner meeting, but he did not let me know he was coming until about 5. No dinner was planned so he ate leftover soup and I ate a fake potato soup I had made Tuesday while I was in a cooking frenzy.
Soup, garlic bread (TheHub), keto cornbread (me)

Thursday: I called for a non-keto day. I began the day at Mom's as usual then headed home to do a task I abhor, but it has to be done annually. It was defrost the upright freezer day. Yuck! While I was defrosting I found a DiGiorno's pizza and decided it would be our dinner. (I am sure the keto cops will be at my door with a warrant or fine for not maintaining strict keto, but such is life.) I wanted to get rid of it rather than have to place it back in the freezer. In fact I also ate some crappy frozen meal for lunch just to get rid of it too! Both were less than stellar.
DiGiorno's pepperoni pizza, tossed salad

Friday: We had planned to go to the lake Friday afternoon but TheHub was buried in work so we opted to stay home. I had cooked dinner as soon as I got back from my daily morning duty at Mom's, because I had no idea the work issue would appear. We like to have something that just needs a quick heat and serve when we go Friday evening. The only restaurant closer than 15 miles away allows smoking, so we have never eaten there, which means we eat in the cabin. TheHub really wanted to go somewhere and have a drink. Instead I actually made him a martini (I never do that but his day was horrible and I decided to be nice instead of our norm, which is if you want something to drink, fix it yourself) We sat on the porch then warmed up the stuff I made earlier.
Philly cheesesteak one pan dish, coleslaw

Saturday: This was an odd day. TheHub and Son2 go to Alabama home football games together and DIL2 and Shelby, the dog, come spend time with me.We watch the game, I cook and then we  eat and talk. This time the game Saturday was not until 8 pm.  DIL2 had texted me that they had some leftover chicken and veggies and she was bringing it.  Game day and no cooking? Fabulous! And the food___it was delicious. And being with Dil and Shelby was wonderful!
Coq au vin, coleslaw, keto cornbread

Sunday: TheHub  got home from the ballgame at about 1:30 am. The late night  following a hellacious week of work caused a major crash.  He spent the brunt of the day reading, then went with me to Aldi. We stopped on the way home at an overlook to watch the sun go down. After it set the sky to the southwest of us looked like pink cotton candy. It was really gorgeous. We came home loaded with produce and decided on a simple dinner.
Egg roll in a bowl ( Earlier in the week I had browned ground chuck and just tossed it in a skillet with sesame oil, a bag of coleslaw mix, a chopped onion and some seasonings.)

And this is what is planned  for the week: It may or may not happen but we will eat (and occasionally overeat)

1. Keto German pork roast, cabbage, asparagus, mashed potatoes or cauli mash
2. Leftover roast, collards keto corn muffins
3. Spaghetti sauce with noodles or zoodles, tossed salad
4. (Anniversary Dinner) Pan seared scallops, asparagus, tossed salad,  potatoes (we are going out to celebrate the week after, but will have this on the actual day, unless TheHub goes to the Alabama game. If he does we might have this on Sunday.We have had so many anniversaries that I am OK either way)
5. Some type of soup with salad
6. Hot chicken salad, spinach, rolls or keto rolls
7. Sausage appetizer tray, tossed salad

Saturday, October 19, 2019

A Big Thank You

Earlier in the week I defrosted and cleaned  my upright freezer. Like so many things around the house, it is a thankless but necessary job and I am so glad to have it behind me. While I was cold I also attacked the freezer in the kitchen fridge and the extra fridge in the laundry room. Now everything is neatly organized to be used like they should be used instead of the hodge podge arrangement I had before.  Things that are used often are in the kitchen, shorter storage but not everyday use are in the laundry room refrigerator freezer (keto "bread", breakfast biscuits, TheHubs beloved corn dogs, frozen pizza, etc), and longer storage food items are in the upright. Lots of rearranging and thought went into this process, but I am so glad I took the time to do it. At the very least our food life is more organized.

But speaking of food life__I have needed to clean the oven for about 2 months. Mine is self cleaning so it is not like it takes a tremendous amount of effort, but the weather has been too hot to have that much additional heat in the kitchen. This morning I was reading Sam, Coffee, Money, & Thyme and she mentioned cleaning her oven. I had not even thought of cleaning mine this morning, but TheHub went in the office, the ball game (Roll Tide) is not until 8 and it is barely 60 degrees outside. It is a perfect day for a little additional heat in the kitchen and I planned to be home until the later afternoon anyway, so as I type this I am into the second hour of oven cleaning.  And beginning that inspired me to do a deep cleaning of the stove top, microwave and dishwasher. Now if it would just inspire me to iron.

I do want to thank all of you. I never really stop and let you know how much inspiration, ideas, laughs and sometimes deep thoughts and reflections I get from sharing your posts.  My gratitude is sincere and I am so thankful y'all let me share your lives through this medium (or in the case of Sluggy in real life when she drove through Alabama) 

If you are headed south, let me know. I am always ready for a cup of coffee (Krispy Kreme optional or not!) and a visit!

Friday, October 18, 2019

What's Clean and Shiny and Full?

This morning I did the one chore I absolutely loathe and I have to do it at least once a year, but I really should do it every six months. I have an upright freezer in the laundry room that was crammed full complete with frost build-up. I would open it, try to rearrange and do an inventory, but it had gotten overly packed with no wiggle room for anything else. I bit the bullet today as soon as I got back from Mom's house and started the process of defrosting.

I have a very non technical method which requires a load of dirty towels, 2 large pots, a large plastic bowl, a large silicon spoon, insulated bags, 2 laundry baskets, a black leaf bag, a tea kettle of boiling water, ski gloves, and about 2 hours of my time.

First I empty everything out of the freezer, establishing the priority of whether or not it has to remain frozen or will be ok at room temp (nuts and frozen pounds of butter, flours, and meals). I set all of the temperature stable foods on my cabinet top, dump the rest in insulated bags, the refrigerator freezer, or in the black leaf bag which sits in a laundry basket.

I quickly scrape any loose frost into the large plastic bowl, then put 2 large pots of steaming hot water on the top two shelves, turn the power off and shut the door. I leave the room for about ten minutes and put a towel on the floor in front of the freezer to catch the first drips. After the 10 minutes I go back in, grab the pots, pour the water into a larger pot and heat it again. While it is heating I get my trusty spoon and scrape getting as much ice off the shelves and coils as I can. Next I put 2 towels in the bottom of the freezer to catch drips, empty the plastic bowl in the sink and start the hot water in the pots process all over. It usually takes two hot water changes per shelf to get all the accumulated frost off. Meanwhile I take the towels that have absorbed water and toss them in the washing machine, and replace them as needed. 

When everything is all defrosted I wipe it dry with a clean towel, wash it quickly with a water/baking soda solution, rinse it with a clean wet rag, then dry it with a couple of clean dishtowels.

Before I put anything back in it, I wipe off each bag or container with a clean dish towel.

I have a drawer for all the vegetables and have a system I have maintained for years for meats. All beef is in a red bin, all chicken is in a blue bin and all pork is in a white bin, after all, it is the other white meat. These are all on the bottom shelf which sits above the vegetable drawer. The second from the bottom houses all seafood, prepared foods (Bags of spaghetti sauce, chili, Mississippi chicken etc.), and bags of pre-cooked meats. The second shelf from the top holds frozen meals (think Lean Cuisine) breads, and odds and ends that are not specific but need to be frozen. The upper shelf is for nuts, and fruits. Flours and meals are in the shelves in the doors, with some frozen juice concentrates, packs of bacon, butter, cheese, and individual servings of keto veggies I have prepped (cauli mash, roasted brussels sprouts, etc)

Now that everything is all nice, clean organized and listed I know that I do not need to buy anything except produce. TheHub and I are going to have to do some serious eating to put a dent in the freezer inventory! Or have company, lots of company.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Pumpkin Sausage Soup

I know we are rushing fall, but our temps have been so horrid lately that this cool down, even if it is temporary, feels so good and makes me want fall things. Like soup, who doesn't like a nice soup during fall or the winter.

Truthfully I could eat soup year round, but TheHub has a different stance about when soup should legally be consumed. Our highs today were in the upper 60's. Yes I know to some of you that does not feel cool, but it was cool enough to get the go ahead from the soup police. We had a big meal for the day at lunch. We went to the Brazilian festival and brought back so many delicious foods; black beans, pork and rice,  steak kabobs, tamales, empanadas, and 3 different types of desserts for a shared meal with Son2 and DIL2. It was a football day and what is more perfect than eating and talking about football (Except that the Georgia/South Carolina game went into overtime which put us eating right as the Alabama game started.)

I had made taco soup  on Friday for TheHub's post game meal, and figured I would just scour the fridge for leftovers for me. At halftime I was on the computer looking for some kind of easy keto dessert, when I found a recipe for pumpkin doughnuts using the pumpkin spice extract that came in the box with  my cornbread extract. It called for some pumpkin puree and I thought I might as well find some way to use the rest of the can. I remembered a recipe for sweet potato soup I have made before, so I thought I could use pumpkin instead and hope for the best.

1 small onion, diced
1/2 small red pepper, diced
1 cup cooked crumbled sausage*
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional of course)
1/8 teaspoon coriander
salt and pepper to taste (I used none since the broth was salted and I am just not crazy about salt)
1/4 cup heavy cream

Wilt the onion and pepper in the bottom of a small soup pot. Add the cooked sausage and cook until the veggies are soft. Toss in the broth and pumpkin and stir until it is all combined. Add the seasonings and cook on low about 15 minutes (Add more broth or water if the liquid starts to reduce) About 2 minutes before serving add the heavy cream, stir through and bring to whatever soup temp you like. (It really did not lower the temperature much at all. I let it heat on low about a minute and a half, stirring the whole time)

This is a pretty unattractive soup so I would suggest sprinkling some minced red pepper and some chopped fresh parsley on top for a little color. Since it was just for me, I did not do that, but I will for the picture. When I tell you even though it is not a pretty food but the flavor makes up for it, I feel like the coed describing her not so pretty roommate to a potential blind date, "She's got a great personality and all the girls love her"

Trust me, the flavor did make up for the less than stellar appearance of the soup. I am not crazy bout the taste of pumpkin, but with this soup, I never felt I was eating eating pumpkin. The broth was a lovely blend of spices and none of them competed with the others. It was just a nice blend in a creamy base, with chunks of sausage, and bits of vegetables.

Fortunately I have enough left over for a meal during the week. It is supposed to be cool and rainy on Tuesday, so I think this might be a great meal for that night. Maybe with a piece of the mock cornbread and a salad!

*I always have 1 cup packs of sausage frozen. Sprouts has a couple of packages of their butcher made links reduced nearly every time I go shopping. They are at their last sell by date so I always buy them, bring the home and cook and freeze them. Usually it winds up in a pan full of cabbage for a super quick meal so I am not picky about labeling what type of sausage it is and I rarely know exactly what kind I am using. Judging by the taste this might have been polish flavored sausage.  I think just about anything other than Italian sausage would work very well with the flavors in this soup.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Meal Plan or Meal Bust?

Last week I made a tentative meal plan for the week. As usual things did not go as planned, but we were not too far off target. I spent a large amount of time at Mom's and came home usually late in the afternoon/early evening . Fortunately I had cooked a few things on Sunday, so there were a couple of quick meals available. This is what was planned:

1. Chili, keto "cornbread" coleslaw
2. Spaghetti sauce over pasta or zoodles, tossed salad, french bread or keto rolls
3. Brazilian Festival food
4. Shepherd's pie (keto), coleslaw, roll or keto roll
5. Fasting
6. Grilled scallops, tossed salad, rolls, cauli mash
7. Cauliflower au gratin 

And this is what actually happened:

Monday: The temps had dropped just enough so that we could actually enjoy a bowl of chili.
Chili, keto cornbread

Tuesday: TheHub had a dinner meeting so I decided to fast. It was an easy kitchen cleanup. Wash one water glass and a mug!
Water and a cup of hot tea

Wednesday: I have class every Wednesday morning and left the house so I could be at Mom's at 7:30 to fill in the gap between her overnight and her daytime caregivers. After the day caregiver got there I was off to class, with a list of groceries and supplies needed for Mom' house.  As soon as the class was over I ran by Aldi to pick up things Mom needed from there along with my Aldi groceries. I swung by Mom's to put up her groceries, then went to my house to put mine away (I had refrigerator items that could not stay in the car), got back in the car to drive to Publix for the items Mom needed that Aldi does not carry, dropped those off, got a new and different list of items T. had forgotten to include on the earlier list, went to The Pig (which is by CVS) for a couple of items then went to CVS for incontinence supplies, back to Mom's, then had an appointment with Mom's accountant (about 1099's for her care givers)  and finally back home___until Mom called later and needed me to come back to her house for a non-emergency, emergency.
TheHub had another dinner meeting and I was fried from running around. I rummaged around in the fridge and came up with a slight variation on my original plan for the night.
Steamed cauliflower with a slice of New York sharp cheddar and a glass of white wine

Thursday: I think it was an uneventful day. I still did my daily 2 visits with Mom but they were nothing out of the ordinary. TheHub was going to be home for dinner, so I pulled the spaghetti sauce I had made and frozen out to thaw.
Spaghetti sauce over noodles or zoodles, huge tossed salad

Friday: Usual Mom stuff and a couple of meetings for me! TheHub wanted to run by Aldi to pick up some low carb protein bars they carry (Elevation bars, the no added sugar type)  If he had told me he was out or nearly out I could have picked them up when I was at Aldi on Wednesday.  He suggested we drop by Culver's (next door to Aldi) and grab a bite to eat, so I was game for that.
Mushroom Swiss burger (no bun or condiments) with a side of broccoli or fish sandwich basket. You can guess which was the keto meal.

 Saturday:  Game day (Alabama vs. Texas A&M ) meant we had to get up and get moving so we could be at the Brazilian festival early. Even though we were there when it opened we got one of the last parking spots and the crowd was pretty large. We knew after wandering around a bit that we would be bringing food home. Son 2 and DIL2 would be eating with us so we had a jantar (Portuguese word for main meal of the day. See what going to the Brazilian festival will do for you. Thank you guy who was at the steak kabob booth for that bit of trivia). The food? Yumlicious!
Pork and black bean stew, steak skewers, empanadas, tamales, tomatoes and cucumber slices. We also bought flan, lime mousse and chocolate balls but we were stuffed and no one ate the desserts.

Sunday: We had a true day of rest, except for going to the store for Mom and going to her house twice. I had made  soup to have Saturday night and we had leftover soup, plus TheHub brought a doggie bag home from his meal Wednesday night.
Soup or leftover pork and coleslaw

And now on to this week:*****
1. Soup and bread (either keto cornbread or dinner rolls)
2. Keto pork stew over broccoli
3. Leftover Brazilian, tossed salad
4. Sesame chicken over rice or cauli rice, asparagus
5. Philly cheesesteak one pot dish
6. Corn dogs , coleslaw
7. Chili, keto cornbread, cucumber slices

***** I just realized what today's date is. TheHub's Birthday is today! Yes I am a dumbass. Fortunately I had bought a card a while back and am already dressed since I had to take Mom to a dentist appointment this afternoon. I think tonight I will take him out to eat wherever he wants to go.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Mock Cornbread

I have been on the keto bandwagon for a while now. I would like to say I have been diligent, but that would be a big fat lie. Now it is time for me to get crackin' and stay keto faithful . (Mostly because I threw out all my fall/winter duds that were too big and I have ordered several new pieces one size smaller than my current size. It would be very nice if all of them will fit by the time true cooler weather arrives.

Sunday I did a lot of advance cooking. The caregivers were at Mom's with no gap in time, so I could go to her house at my leisure rather than when I had to be there. It was great to be able to get some things done that I needed to get done without serious interruptions. Since it is October and we had a slight break in the weather I decided to make some chili. (It really is still to hot for it, but I wanted some) I have gotten used to making a huge batch of beanless chili, then adding beans to half of it, and tiny cauliflower flowerets to mine. TheHub would probably eat it with cauliflower if I asked him to, but splitting it is easy enough, especially since I was asking him to do the almost unthinkable__eat keto "cornbread".

I will admit I was skeptical about this dish, but tried it anyway. It does contain one ingredient I have never heard of before, and I could only find it online. I decided to give it a try and purchased my first ever bottle of cornbread extract. I am posting a link to this stuff here * though I did lessen my risk when I bought it. Amazon had a pack of ten flavorings that included the cornbread stuff. I figured even if it was horrid I had nine other flavoring options and not all of them could be horrible.

1 1/2 cup almond flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon cornbread extract
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder,  onion powder, and salt.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add in eggs, sour cream, butter, cornbread extract and cheddar cheese. Stir to combine. Pour into a well greased pan. I used an 8x8 metal cake pan. Cook for 20 minutes until top is golden brown and cooked through.

Now TheHub and I are both originally from Alabama, we grew up eating what the rest of you call soul food, but we always just called it dinner. Cornbread has always been mandatory with so many of our meals, and I have tried about 5 different keto recipes. All of it looked like cornbread and even felt mostly like cornbread, but fell miles short when it came to the taste. This stuff is nearly spot on, in fact, TheHub had 3 pieces with his chili last night.  I froze the remaining bread and will pull it out and warm it up when we have something else than demands cornbread.  If you are doing keto give this a whirl. It was a fantastic, and I will only change one thing next time. I will make this in mini muffin pans so that every single bite will have some of that delicious crunchy edges . It is making me hungry all over again, just writing about it.

The Pig has collards on sale this week. Collards cornbread and sliced tomatoes might be just what the doctor ordered!

* I have no affiliation with Amazon. This is just where I found it and like it enough to recommend it to others.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

What We Ate and What's Next

I started back with my meal planning this past week, thinking things had settled into a routine with Mom and perhaps I would at least have some direction if I had a plan. As usual (even without Mom issues) my plan and actions are not exact (or even really close) but it is ok and all is well. We have not missed a meal and if nothing else, we are flexible. The following is what I planned:

1. BLT's (thanks to chaffle wonderbread*)
2. Greek Food Festival
3. Spaghetti sauce over pasta or zoodles, tossed salad
4. Shepherd's pie (cauli mash topping) ,coleslaw
5. Steak, baked potato (or not) , asparagus, tossed salad
6. Slaw dog, cauli tots
7. Taco salad with or without tortilla chips

And this is what really and truly happened:

Monday: My Beloved Sister had the day off so she filled the morning gap in Mom's care schedule. Since I did not have to be there during the morning, I only spoke to her caregivers by phone and had the entire day for myself. Kind of!

I had to be home for a service call from my local cable company. (Investigating ways to cut the cord) which meant I was around all day, until about 6:15 when the cable guy finally finished. I did get a lot done in my bedroom. I started with the ceiling and worked my way down the walls, baseboards, behind furniture, the furnishings, windows, floors and the comforter, curtains, and throw pillows changed to their fall/winter look. The room is so clean, I don't even want to breathe in there!

As for the cable? It seems an armadillo was rooting through the lawn for grubs and clipped the line from the street. We have all underground utilities so I guess I am glad it missed the power and gas lines (or maybe they are just a little deeper). I did not start dinner until the cable guy left and TheHub was nearly home.  I am so glad I had planned this in the menu. (Though I really planned on having it Sunday night)
BLT, tea and that was it

Tuesday: Tuesday was back to my normal get up and go to Mom's, then just handling whatever new thing has come up. I spent a good bit of time on the phone taking care of some issues for Mom, then did some more intensive cleaning here, before the knock on the door came. No one who comes to my door knocks with the exception of the next door neighbor, who has some disorders. She needed to let me know her sister and foreign women are stealing my water and power. Evidently they have opened a laundromat (visible only to her) on the other side of our fences.  She left right as TheHub called to let me know he was on his way home.  Since I had thawed the ground chuck for spaghetti sauce (but didn't get to it since I was listening to all the details of the thieving sister and foreign women) I punted.
Philly cheesesteak skillet dinner, lettuce wedge, tea

Wednesday: It's hot, damn hot. After going to Mom's for my morning Mom ritual, I went to class. Her caregiver had given me a grocery list, so immediately after class I went to Aldi for things I could find there. I ran by Mom's to drop off those groceries. It was about 96  degrees by this time and I figured it would not be a great idea to leave milk and eggs in the back of my car while I shopped at a different store. Then I ran back to Publix for things on her list that are not available at Aldi. This time instead of just dropping everything off, I went in to visit with her a little bit. Evidently she has forgotten that I run by her house at least 2 times a day nearly every day and she wanted to know what I was doing there. Looking back, I wonder the same thing. I had a couple of personal errands to take care of and by the time I got home it was about 4.  I had no idea what I was going to make for dinner so what should you do but throw things together for a delicious nutritious meal?. It was not what I did at all. I visited with a couple of neighbors, did a couple of loads of laundry, started working in the laundry room (It is beyond horrid) and only when TheHub called to say he was on his way home did I even begin to think of what we would eat. I knew I had a couple of boneless skinless chicken thighs thawed so I decided to make the taco salad I had planned for the week from chicken rather than my typical ground chuck. It turned out to be a great change and one I will do regularly.

Thursday: This was kind of a difficult day with Mom. In spite of having round the clock care she can be demanding. She is becoming more and more agitated that we have her in a facility, even though she is at her house. She is convinced that her house is in ruins, even describing wallpaper that is ripped and torn off the walls and hardwood floors that have been gouged and sheetrock with holes in it. When asked how she knows about the "ruins" she declares "I saw it" .   We had planned on going to the Greek Festival and I told her we would bring her a plate of deliciousness back.
TheHub had to work much later than we expected so we got off to a late start and decided to just go through the takeout line.  It takes about 20 minutes to get from our house to the Festival site. They were having some 1st day issues so we sat in line for about 35 minutes. By the time we drove from town to her house it was about 10 until 8. I had all the food in my lap so TheHub got out and ran hers and her caregivers into them (Now understand I had been calling and telling her caregiver about our delays and also called the minute they processed our order, so it is not like this was a surprise) When he walked in Mom was a complete jerk to him, told him she had already eaten and did not appreciate us going and having a good time at the festival while being late to bring her food.  Later I found she had told her caregiver that I am selfish with my time and only think of my own enjoyment. I am not saying anything else because even recounting this stirs some unpleasant feelings.
Greek chicken, souvlakia, rice pilaf, salad, chocolate baklava, koularakia, and kourambethes. The food was delicious and we did stop by Publix and grab a bottle of wine.

Friday: Had to take Mom to the doctor, even though I am selfish and only think of my own enjoyment. I enjoy nothing more than being at her house at 7:30 to make sure she has breakfast, before getting her cleaned, dressed, and to an early morning appointment so I can sit in the waiting room for over an hour. Yes I love that better than anything.
TheHub and I had planned on running by Sprouts that night because they were having a 72 hour sale on some things we needed. While we were in that area of town we tried a new to us hamburger joint.
Hamburger, root beer, fish sandwich (TheHub) shared french fries

Saturday: Game Day! We are big SEC college football fans, specifically Alabama fans (Roll Tide). TheHub had to run into the office so I went down to do some chores for Mom., then we met back at home to begin our football day. If you watch college football you know games start at 11 Central time and go through the night. Although we do not sit and watch all the SEC games all the way though, we do watch bits and pieces of all of them, except Alabama games.(They require total attention)  Georgia and Tennessee were playing at dinner time so we decided to have a quick and easy dinner. We do not eat in front of the tv, but wanted something
Corn dogs*, coleslaw, iced tea.

Sunday:  This was a day of rest for us. Very needed rest. Sunday is the only day of the week I have continual help so I don't have to go bridge any gap in home care. The weather was cooler and it was not yet raining so we grilled our dinner,
Steak, green beans, new potatoes, tossed salad, french bread.

And for this week the possibilities are:
1. Chili, keto "cornbread" coleslaw
2. Spaghetti sauce over pasta or zoodles, tossed salad, french bread or keto rolls
3. Brazilian Festival food
4. Shepherd's pie (keto), coleslaw, roll or keto roll
5. Fasting
6. Grilled scallops, tossed salad, rolls, cauli mash
7. Cauliflower au gratin
(TheHub has 2 business dinners this week so I am fasting one of the days and eating crap the other)

This plan might work but then again, I might go rogue and do things that are entirely different. Who knows? Hope you all have a great week

*Don't know if any of you have tried the turkey corn dogs from Trader Joes, but those puppies are delicious and "cook" in the microwave.  It is not something I would buy, but TheHub has gotten them a couple of times. TJ's is on his way home from the office, but requires a 15 minute  trip from our home. He stopped in at my request one day for just one item. He had never been in a TJ store before, so this opened a whole new world  and new selection of food choices for his recreational shopping. (I think he heard the angels singing when he walked into the store.) Now instead of calling and telling me he is going to Publix he calls and asks if I need anything from Trader Joe's before he stops at Publix. (Yes he goes to both stores at least a couple of times a week, but his Publix stops are still pretty much a daily thing)