Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Memories and Laundry

The fun is now over and it is back to real life for me. We had a wonderful time in New York visiting with Son1, DIL1, Pip, Son3, DIL3, and DIL3's Mom. It was great watching all of the "firsts" Pip experienced and even better watching her learn so much, so quickly.

Just in case any of you are interested if you push the button to go to the lobby enough times you can also start saying "L-O-B-B-Y spells lobby" each time you press it. I truly love watching beginning readers as they find so much excitement learning to read familiar words. I also love hearing a child's curious request for the definition of unfamiliar words like "sturdy" or "ostracized".

And now that we are back it is probably time for me to recount our meals for the week. Instead of doing that I will just say we ate out and ate well. If you are in the city and have a hankering for Dominican food, I will highly recommend Malecon on 175th and Broadway up in Washington Heights. Order the roast chicken and mofongo and you will not be disappointed. It was beyond delicious. While we were in the neighborhood we also hit a Cuban bakery on the corner of161st and Broadway. I do not remember the name of it, but try their pastries and the Cafe con Leche. It was the best Cuban coffee I have ever had and the pastries were exceptional.

Unfortunately for our taste buds we are in our regular boring everyday world and way of eating. This week I am totally uninspired but am going to cook anyway. In no particular order this is what we are having, maybe. (Only if all the planets align correctly and I feel like making whatever is planned)

1. Bookclub night so I am going out to eat Thai. TheHub will fend for himself
2. Dominican roast chicken with garlic sauce, potato salad or caulitato salad, green salad
3. Tacos or taco salad with all the fixings.
4. BLT salad, rolls or keto rolls
5. Pasta or zoodles with alfredo sauce, spinach salad
6. Something grilled (fish or chicken) grilled onions and mushrooms, broccoli, tossed salad

You might notice a salad theme going on. The weather is getting hot and we eat a lot of salad based meals during the hot weather. Goodbye soup and stew and anything similar until late October. Hello grilled foods and salads!
We are opening the pool this week and getting ready for the summer since it is here now!

Monday, April 22, 2019

Menu life for the week

I have been planning a menu for our meals and very seldom do I actually eat the meals I intend to. I keep this record so I will know for future meal planning what works and what doesn't (Mostly what doesn't)  Life and desires get in the way of my plans most of the time.

This was planned for last week:
. Stuffed boneless leg of lamb or baked ham, potatoes, asparagus, salad, coconut custard pie
. Spaghetti or zoodles w/ meat sauce, tossed salad, garlic bread
. Pork roast, rice or cauli rice, brussels sprouts
. Salad meal
. Out to eat
X. Burgers on the grill and fixings
. Take out smoked chicken wings . (I got home from Nashville at dinner time and was not going to cook.)

And this is what really happened:
Finally, I had a week where we ate mostly what I had actually intended to eat. It is a rare thing for me

Monday:  I was in Nashville until about 2:30 Monday. Had a wonderful visit with my friend Sandy then drove home. Mom had appointments with 2 doctors Tuesday so I had to be back Monday night in order to have her at her first appointment early Tuesday morning. Luckily my friend lives on the south side of Nashville and I literally turned off her street (ok its a long street, but still) onto I 65 and did not stop until I got off at my exit (under a mile from my house)
 Take out smoked chicken wings, cucumber slices thanks to my beautiful DIL2

Tuesday: TheHub was still in Nashville and we knew he would not return until after a banquet Tuesday night. I figured there was no reason to cook a real meal, but I still wanted something keto compliant. Oh, and if any of you are planning on coming to Birmingham, our interstates are totally jacked up right now. There is no way to go east to west or vice versa without taking detours through town. It is especially nice when you are trying to get to the airport hangers (which are on the back side of the airport anyway) at 0 dark 30.  Fortunately I have a reasonable sense of direction and in the most unsafe areas I drove through, auxiliary roads were under construction so there were workers everywhere. I was very thankful for their presence, and I am sure no one likes to be outside working at midnight.
BLT salad

Wednesday: I had bought a pork butt on super sale so it became a crock pot meal.  On days when I need to do a lot of running around nothing beats coming in and having dinner ready.
Mexican pork butt , rosemary potatoes (or not),  brussels sprouts

Thursday: This was our night for Chinese class. We had decided to incorporate this into a  date night.  While we were in class the bottom fell out and storms were raging. Instead of going out to eat, we called a local Chinese place, ordered some  soup and picked it up to eat at home
Mandarin House hot and sour soup

Friday: I know we ate something because we eat every night, but I honestly have no idea what we had but I think we had spaghetti.  
Spaghetti or zoodles with meat sauce, spinach salad, garlic toast (I finally remembered)

Saturday: We had planned on grilling burgers but the weather was crappy so we punted.
Hamburger patty with onions and brussels sprouts.

Sunday: We celebrated Easter lunch with Mom and my sister. 
Herb stuffed lamb roast over wilted spring greens, asparagus, mashed potatoes and strawberry shortcake. Yep, no keto options for the day!

And what is planned for the coming week. Nothing! We are meeting Son1 and family in NYC to visit Son3 and wife. We will be in the city through Monday so I see boatloads of eating out.  We do not stay with Son3 (tiny NYC apt) so we will be hoteling it for the duration.

Monday: Leftovers
Tuesday: Leftovers
Wed-Monday: Whatever happens, happens.

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Week That Was

Again I had a general concept of what I would make for dinner, but time and tide and all that happened. Some days I followed the plan, but we have been in a pollen induced sneezing coughing frenzy and did not feel like eating much. Several times I opted for the little/no effort meals followed by massive doses of hot beverages.

This was planned:
1. Spaghetti (or zoodles) with meat sauce, tossed salad garlic bread (real or keto)
2. Cheeseburger casserole over lettuce with tomatoes and pickles
3. Mac (or cauliflower)  and cheese, coleslaw, and green beans
4. Egg rolls in a bowl with a side of fried rice (or not)
5. Grilled chicken in white bbq sauce, potato or fake cauli salad, baked beans (or not)
6. Something (unsure what) mashed rutabaga (I bought this and have no idea what it tastes like. It might have been a bad idea but it is something new to try), green beans or possibly broccoli.
7. Out to eat. Will be in Nashville for a couple of days.

This happened:

Monday: Met with a companion for Mom's first day with outside help. The day took much more of my time than I thought it would but it was well spent time. I bridged the gap between Mom's reluctance and the care giver. We are starting slow. 5 days a week for 4 hours a  day right now, but will increase the time as needed. I did some grocery shopping for Mom using a list from both of them. Some were foods Mom likes and some were high nutrient foods the care giver has used with all of her geriatric clients. I had to go back to Mom's a couple of times after the caregiver left, so my plans for dinner had to be something that did not have to be thawed and would go together quickly.
 Mac (or cauliflower) and cheese , coleslaw, green beans

Tuesday: TheHub was feeling a little under the weather and both Son2 and DIL2 had sinus infections, so I cooked a super spicy meal for all of us.
Egg rolls in a bowl, (lots of garlic, red pepper and ginger) cauli mash. garlic bread (or not)

Wednesday: TheHub is still battling with sinus issues (thanks pollen) so we needed something spicy again.
Chicken curry over spinach and rice (or cauli rice)

Thursday: TheHub and I have been talking about doing something to expand our brains for quite  a while so we began taking Mandarin classes Thursday night. We decided we would reward ourselves and go out to eat each Thursday after class. FYI it was a great and very small class so there was a lot of personal attention.
Mugshot's Philly cheesesteak sandwich (minus the bread) side salad

Friday: We have been living in the middle of a pollen bomb for several weeks. I don't know when I have seen it this bad and everyone is sneezing and coughing and sneezing and rubbing their itchy eyes. TheHub's allergies have gotten really bad and he has not been feeling well. All he wanted tonight was a bowl of Campbell's tomato soup.
Campbell's soup and crackers or homemade keto friendly tomato soup with no crackers

Saturday: The Pig had a super sale on various pork products, so I stocked up on them.. While I was there I picked up some pork steaks for our dinner. (They were cheap and could be ready quickly)
Baked pork steaks, kale salad with faux Caesar dressing

Sunday: In Nashville so out to eat'
Kale mushroom salad one meal /Wedge salad another/something forgettable  another meal

And this may or may not be what we eat this week (in no particular order)
1. Stuffed boneless leg of lamb or baked ham, potatoes, asparagus, salad, coconut custard pie
2. Spaghetti or zoodles w/ meat sauce, tossed salad, garlic bread
3. Pork roast, rice or cauli rice, brussels sprouts
4. Salad meal
5. Out to eat
6. Burgers on the grill and fixings
7. Take out smoked chicken wings . (I got home from Nashville at dinner time and was not going to cook. Besides TheHub is still there through late tomorrow night, hence the salad meal on the menu)

Monday, April 8, 2019

Last Week's food plan

I started posting a weekly meal plan a while back, mainly to help me use the meats and various proteins I had frozen. I found it really does help me to use the things I have, but I still tend to over buy when I go to the store. At least now when I do buy too much it seems to be fresh produce and I am finding a lot of ways to salvage it and, except for the occasional cucumber half, I am using it all. I would like to be all noble and say the menu plan keeps me from freestylin' but that would be a big fat lie. It does give me a starting point  some days, but there are some where time or attitude or wants get in the way of the plan. I feel no regret as long as I don't let food go to here is a brief recap of this past week .

The Plan:
 Baked chicken, mashed potatoes or cauli mash, spinach salad, steamed cauliflower and broccoli
. Corned beef and cabbage, new potatoes or cauli mash
x .  Spaghetti or zoodles with meat or marinara sauce, tossed salad, garlic toast or keto roll
x . Pizza, tomato, onion and cucumber salad 
. Grilled steak, tossed salad, baked potato or cauli mash, bread sticks or keto roll
 x. Cheeseburger casserole, brussels sprouts, cauliflower "potato" salad
✓* Chicken enchiladas, coleslaw, green beans  (kinda happened)

What really happened:

Monday: Heard from Son3 that his band was coming to the deep south in June for a few shows, and he asked if I would open the home "hotel" for them. Of course I said yes, so  I began deep cleaning the upstairs. My time is not my own and I thought as long as I had a free day I might as well get crackin'. I had taken some pre-baked chicken out of the freezer on Sunday so it became dinner in a hurry and I needed a quick meal because I stayed upstairs working pretty late.
Baked chicken with sautĂŠed mushrooms, mashed potatoes (or not), steamed broccoli, spinach salad

Tuesday: Sunday afternoon TheHub and I stopped by Publix on the way home from church. I routinely look at the meat counter for any unadvertised discounts and found 1 corned beef seriously discounted (last sell by date). Of course I picked it up, popped it in the crockpot as soon as we got home, then stuck it in the fridge that night for a meal during the week. Tuesday became that day. When TheHub asked if we were celebrating St. Patrick's day again, I had to tell him no. We were celebrating cheap corned beef with cabbage that was already in the fridge.
Corned beef, cabbage, new potatoes or no potatoes, toast or grilled keto bread, strawberries and stevia sweetened mini chocolate chips

Wednesday: I am not exactly sure what has been going on with TheHubs job but I do know he has been working on one project since before Thanksgiving and he thinks it is coming to an end. I hope so since he has not taken but 1 full weekend off since then. 
I was out buying groceries when he called to see if I had started dinner. No, I was still in the car on the way home from the store. He decided he wanted to go out to eat to celebrate the end of it. (I have serious doubts if it is actually the end, but for once I held my snarky tongue and just agreed to go out to eat anywhere but Italian (Southern not Northern Italy) or Chinese because both are virtually impossible to eat and remain keto compliant. 
Jubilee Joe's grilled grouper, mixed veggies, coleslaw

Thursday: It was a day filled with upsetting things and I really needed some calmness. I had planned on grilling steaks and having a glass (or 2) of wine, but the weather changed and I did not want to cook in the cold. (And yes, I understand cold is  relative term and it would have felt like spring to most of you). 
I grabbed chicken from the freezer to thaw quickly and had to rethink dinner. I still could have had the wine, but opted to save the carbs for a square of stevia sweetened chocolate, which I promptly forgot to eat. I should have had the wine!
Chicken enchilada casserole, tomato cucumber  and onion salad.

Friday: More blooming rain was forecast so I thought about just sticking the steaks in the freezer, but the skies cleared and it was perfect for grilling (except for the bloomin pollen ).
Steak, baked potato (or not) tossed salad, radishes, garlic bread or keto toast 

Saturday: TheHub and I attacked the screened porch and deck. He rinsed while I scrubbed and we got rid of winter grime and about an inch of pollen. I am exaggerating of course, but the runoff did look like a thick yellow river (or stream). After doing that and working in the yard a bit it was game time and we were eating game food.
Sloppy Joe's on bread (or not) spinach salad, chips (or not).

Sunday: Difficult Mom day and that is all I am saying. TheHub ran to Publix and snagged a rotisserie chicken and I made a couple of things I had on hand thats all.
Chicken, tater tots or cauli mash, asparagus, raspberries

And the plan for this week in no particular order:

1. Spaghetti (or zoodles) with meat sauce, tossed salad garlic bread (real or keto)
2. Cheeseburger casserole over lettuce with tomatoes and pickles
3. Mac (or cauliflower)  and cheese, coleslaw, and green beans
4. Egg rolls in a bowl with a side of fried rice (or not)
5. Grilled chicken in white bbq sauce, potato or fake cauli salad, baked beans (or not)
6. Something (unsure what) mashed rutabaga (I bought this and have no idea what it tastes like. It might have been a bad idea but it is something new to try), green beans or possibly broccoli.
7. Out to eat. Will be in Nashville for a couple of days.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Cause I Am Nice Like That

Last night the temps dropped a little so I decided to hold off on grilling the steaks I bought the night before. About the only thing I had in the freezer that would thaw quickly was a pack of boneless skinless chicken thighs. I let them sit on the counter (Yes, I know I should not do that but I felt like living on the edge. ) When they were partially thawed I put a dutch oven filled about halfway with water and dumped them in it. They cooked until they were slightly tender, then I removed them form the liquid, chopped them coarsely and searched the fridge to decide exactly what I was going to do with them. I had some tortillas and originally had planned to make enchiladas one night this week, but I was feeling a little sorry for myself and did not want to have to make some altered version for me while TheHub got to eat he good stuff. So I did what any really sweet wife  would do__made him eat the same thing I could have.

Low Carb Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

4 boneless skinless thighs, cooked  (reserve cooking liquid) and chopped (fairy small chop)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
salt and pepper to taste (I used no salt because I had salted the water used to cook the chicken.)

Mix together in a bowl and set aside.

1 medium cauliflower chopped in florets
reserved chicken cooking liquid

Cook the cauliflower in the chicken broth until it is very tender. Drain the liquid and, in the same pot , use a potato masher to create mashed cauliflower. You do not have to have it completely smooth. If you don't mind using additional equipment you could use a food processor. I hate to get mine out for something I can do by hand, but that is just my lazy butt wanting to use the minimum number of dishes all the time.

To the cauliflower mush add
1/2 teaspoon chili powder.
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon coriander
hot pepper flakes or a couple of splashes of hot sauce to taste (optional, but not optional for us)
1/4 cup coconut flour (It absorbs a lot of the liquid in the dish)
2 eggs

Beat together until it is well blended and the cauli mix feels and looks almost like a slightly dry cornbread batter. Spoon into a greased 9x9 casserole dish and pop it in the oven for about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and top it with the seasoned chicken.

Now add:
1 can enchilada sauce (I used a green sauce because I found one that had no added sugar. Any sauce will do, or you can knock yourself out and even make your own)
About a cup and a half of shredded cheese. (I had about 1/2 cup of monterey jack and 4 thin
 pepper jack slices so that is what I used. You can tell by the picture above, I made no attempt to grate or even cut the slices.)

Pour the sauce over the chicken, top with the cheese and pop it back in the oven until everything is hot, bubbling, and the cheese is all melted, gooey goodness. (About 15 more minutes)

If you are really hungry spoon it out onto your plates immediately. I wanted it to be cut into pieces so it would look a little prettier in the picture. I let it rest for 7 or 8 minutes before trying and the first serving fell apart anyway. I did have success with the 2nd one.

And the verdict? This stuff was delicious. You know you have scored when the non-keto one gets seconds. I think that I will make a couple of changes next time though.  When I serve it I will probably top it with a spoonful of salsa or at least diced tomatoes, a few pickled jalapeno slices and a dollop of sour cream.

This will be added to our "have once a month" rotation as long as cauliflower is relatively inexpensive (Thank you Aldi)

And the 2nd best thing? Leftovers for my lunch a couple of days. Woo hoo!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

March Madness My Way

For the month of March I set up some simple weekly aims for my pleasure mostly. I do better if I make a list even though I rarely follow it totally. Sometimes life get in the way of my intentions and sometimes I just don't feel like doing nonessential things.  This is what did and did not happen with my list of mostly self indulgences.

1.  Either go to or rent a movie to watch by myself
Week 1: The Favourite
Week 2: Can You Ever Forgive Me
Week 3: Fail
Week 4: Fail (mainly because I found a new to me Netflix series The Last Kingdom and I am binge watching/listening to it. I have found if I run it from the laptop to the Echo via bluetooth I can turn it up very loud and do my routine things in any room on the main level while I listen to it. Any time I pass the breakfast table I can watch it for a minute or two. For me it is a great way to enjoy it without spending too much time on my butt watching it.

2.  Listen to a new album (thanks Spotify)
Never happened. I wound up just listening to my personal playlists. Why?

3.  Read a book
Week 1: The Color of Water  (decent read)
Week 2: The Waiting Booth (so-so but it was a free download so it was ok)
Week 3: Birthright (so-so, another free download)
Week 4: Educated (Very interesting but sometimes painful to read)

4.  FaceTime with Pip
Week 1: Done!
Week 2: Done
Week 3: She was home with the flu, sick and bored. We FaceTimed multi times each day. (The whole family was sick. I could entertain her for 30 minutes at a time so Mom and Dad could rest)
Week 4: Done

5.  Talk to each son and/or DIL
Week 1: Done
Week 2: Done
Week 3: Done
Week 4: Done

6.  Create something
Week 1: Re-formed a seriously ugly lamp into something I really like
Week 2: Made a St. Patrick's table decoration
Week 3: fail
Week 4: fail

7.  Rearrange a room (Can be full furniture re-arranging or just changing a few things)
Week 1: Rearranged all living room furniture with the exception of  the piano. It has nowhere else to live. I still need to rearrange the artwork, but that is for another day and time.
Week 2: Cleaned (ugh) and repositioned furniture in the guest room. Had overnight guests so it was a good time to do it.
Week 3: More overnight guests (different ones) so I gussied up the guest bath. New shower curtain, different towels, different vanity accessories (The towels and accessories were not new but were lurkers I found while decluttering)
Week 4: Fail

8.  Get rid of one item each day
Nice month of decluttering, well over 31 items for donation

9.  Meet up with a friend/friends for fellowship (at least coffee but not excluding a meal)
Week 1: Met Flo, Martha and Judy for lunch
Week 2: Fail
Week 3: Fail
Week 4: Bookclub dinner, and Ball game dinner

10. Have a home cooked ethnic meals
Week 1: Chicken Korma
Week 2: I am counting the pizza as ethnic, even though it was a casserole on a cauliflower "crust"
Week 3: Fail
Week 4: Pizza again

11. Use the "good" stuff (china, crystal, silverware)
Week 1: Fail
Week 2: Done
Week 3: Fail
Week 4: Fail

12. Burn candles daily
Week 1: Fail
Week 2: some days
Week 3: some days
Week 4: Fail

13. Spa Day (really means spa hour for some self indulgent "treatment")
Week 1: Fail
Week 2: At home facial
Week 3: At home facial
Week 4: Long foot soak (sandal season is near)

14. Fingernail polish.
Worn all month including a couple of color changes and several re-polishes (for some of you this might be completely routine, but for me this is an effort)

I plan on keeping this same weekly list for April, with the following additions:
15: Contact someone I have recently been out of touch with either by phone, email, or text

16. Take Mom somewhere just to get her out of her house. Right now even the grocery store could be considered an outing.

17: Try something different. The door is wide open on this one!

Now the clock is ticking and one day has already passed in this new week. I guess it is up to me to make this happen, but I need to do seriously better than I did yesterday. I think the only thing I accomplished was lighting a candle in the evening. Yes, I can be really lame!