Monday, January 22, 2024

A lot of cooking and not much else

 It's that "cozy" time of year where we're starting to have some serious cold snaps and that means we're hibernating, or let's say nesting.  We are doing stuff around the house, but unless necessary, we're just hanging out and pursuing our own interests.

For me that means cooking and baking, plus organizing and cleaning, studying at the University of YouTube and puzzling. For the Boss that means reading various news and OpEd sources to help suss-out the shape of things to come, plus getting his walks in, watching football and relishing the food around here. He is very good about appreciating my efforts and that civilized behavior keeps smiles on people's faces. That, and his doing the dishes, lol. 😄

More of the gingersnap cookies and then creamy, traditional Chicken Pot Pie. Oh boy and yum.

Gingersnaps with candied ginger and pecans

Moist and flavorful chicken pot pie

On a side note, I discovered a new "baggie" the other day at Walmart - a half-gallon bag. It's nice to have an option that is not so wasteful for when something is too wide for a quart-sized bag but too short for a full gallon-sized bag. Like this half of a papaya. Or a half rack of ribs, you know?

Papaya in a Great Value half-gallon bag

We've had a few really pretty sunrises - lots of pinks during the winter. Unfortunately my phone camera doesn't do it justice, and I have to tweak the saturation in Picasa a bit, but here goes.

Morning sunrise

Another "lazy days" thing I baked was a pan of the breakfast casserole with sausage, peppers & onions, tomatoes and cut up pre-baked french fries. I've been working on perfecting this recipe ever since an Instacart order was misdelivered a couple of months ago. Here's how it went.  

Ed was in the garage with the door open. The driver asked him if he was John, and he said no. She then looked at the house number again and just said "here" and handed him the bags. He didn't know if I had ordered it so he took it and brought it in and set it on the counter. I looked at it and thought WTH!?! The order contained a bunch of frozen stuff; 2 - huge 5# bags of french fries, 2 - family-sized salisbury steak dinners, 2 - family-sized packs of breakfast sausages, a box of hash brown patties and a bunch of other stuff - yipes! After trying to figure out how to rectify the situation (and basically being told "finders keepers, we can't take it back"), I promptly took half of it over to my neighbor. 

What a story - and what a windfall! 😊😊 Now I just say, "Thank you Lord for my blessings" 🙏😇🙏

Anyway, I've been trying to use up the fries, so baking them up nice & crispy, cooling and chopping up into 1" pieces, then combining them with pre-cooked sausage crumbles, bell peppers, onions and tomatoes, then pouring a standard egg mixture over it all and topping with cheese and salsa verde dollops and baking has turned out to be quite good. YAY!

Portioning up french fry breakfast casserole

And we've been enjoying the NFL play-off games, which we record and watch at a more convenient time (and without commercials). The Jags couldn't get out of their own way and therefore didn't make it into the play-offs but there are plenty of good teams and good offense (my favorite) to enjoy watching. We watch them in order, and it's tough to avoid plot-spoilers on the games we haven't watched yet, but we try to be careful with which websites we visit during the interim.  We usually start a game around 6pm to coincide with dinner. Last night we watched the Ravens/Texans game and had meatballs in a broccoli alfredo sauce w/garlic toast and kalamata olives.

Meatballs in Broccoli Alfredo sauce & kalamata's

Well, I'm sorry this post isn't full of travel pics and other excitement, just our (comfortable) lives, for which we are truly grateful.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope your day is bright and happy.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

A quiet Holiday Season

 It's been some pretty low-key Holidays this year, which is pretty much the way we like them. A modest amount of decorating and gift-giving plus some sumptuous meals is the way we roll. Not quite so overwhelming to take down and put away. Of course if we had grandkids or great-grans here in town I'm sure we would elaborate more on the decorations and activities. 

I saw a YT video done by this gentleman who makes metal coat-hanger Christmas trees as a fundraiser for his church. Link is here. I thought they turned out so cute that I decided to make one to go by the fireplace. Here's mine "in situ". I think it turned out pretty! 😌

I used 3 strands of garland braided together and colored lights.

We had a mostly sunny day for our Christmas dinner in the Florida Room. The Boss pours wine for us.

An all-time favorite of the day; turkey, dressing, rice/gravy
plus steamed broccoli, cranberries, olives, and rolls.

Our Christmas table decorations, minimalist to be sure. My 
Mother-in-law used to set a beautiful Holiday table.

I'm enjoying being back into "puzzling" - I find it very relaxing for in-between chore times. The latest one to be finished.

On New Year's Eve our neighborhood had a nice, small fireworks display. Basically one at a time, but since it was held at the far end of the field across from our house it was great! Here's a shot taken by a neighbor who lives on the other side of the lake.

Changing out the table decorations - LOL, cheap thrills.

I swapped out my Christmas table decorations for some more appropriate for New Year's. Now the table looks right. We had the prerequisite 'good luck' New Year's meal of smoked pork chops, blackeyed peas, collards and of course, cornbread. We also had some rice and a fresh tomato salad. YUM!

I did a couple of runs of canning this past week. I wanted to practice cooking dried beans, (I usually use canned), so I decided to fix pinto beans with carrots, onions and ham and can them up for easy meal prep. Served over rice with some garlic toast makes for a tasty meal.

I also had a big bag of yukon gold potatoes, and since we love potato soup and salad for a lighter meal, I thought I'd make up my Italian sausage & potato soup base, (no cream or thickeners when canning), and get that on the shelf too. It just came out of the canner so the jars haven't been washed/labelled yet. When serving, I'll add a cornstarch and cream slurry, plus some shredded sharp cheddar to make it a cream soup.

Last fall when we came back from out west, (mid-afternoon), by the time we got situated it was supper time. Luckily I had some chili on the shelf that I had previously canned ready to heat and eat. So handy.

All that being said, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy & Blessed New Year. Thanks for stopping by.