Friday, November 21, 2014

A Whole Lotta Food and Little Else

This is the first week, that I can recall in the past several weeks, that there wasn't a doctor, a test or a hospital in my view.  I almost didn't know what to do with myself.  I am trying to take back my home and get back into some sort of routine.  I did clear out the rabid dust bunnies from my bedroom where they were colonizing.  That felt good, and feels good every time I see the clear surfaces.  Horizontal surfaces are almost clear, sort of.  Except the one that seems to be collecting the tsunami of incoming medical bills.  Fun.

Hubby's health issues continue, though we did get some possible news, after test after test came back "good," "clear," "inconclusive," that might resolve at least one of the problems.  We are awaiting insurance clearance for the drug.  Finger crossed it resolves the most obvious of his problems.  He has three more tests - two in the next couple weeks and one later (which I hope the drug miraculously makes the issue disappear.)

I have been doing little in the past weeks, most of my energy and brain activity sapped from days of being otherwise occupied.  I did manage to plan my menus, which were simple, fast and good, because frankly, without them, I'd have just stood in front of the 'fridge in a daze, headed for the closest fast food joint or served up bowls of cereal for dinner. 

I made this Creole Beef Casserole this week and it was so good.  Creamy potatoes (I used re-hydrated instead of frozen.They are easier to store so I always have some on hand.)  The sweet BBQ of the beef.  The crunch of Corn Flakes.  Perfect on a cold day.  My daughter said that she though it would also make a good breakfast, by substituting the beef with breakfast sausage or cubed ham.  I would most certainly agree.  I also used a bechamel instead of cream of chicken soup; my go-to instead of the cream of whatever soups.

I seem to have had a Louisiana thing going on the past couple weeks with lots of creole/Cajun recipes.  We are big fans, so it's all good.  We love those warm spices and smokey flavors and this Creole Shrimp and Sausage dish had it all; the browned sausage was the ticket.  I doubled the recipe because I served it up on In-Law dinner night and because we were doing the gluten free thing, at the time, I didn't do the Bulgar, but used rice in its place instead.  Quinoa would have also worked, and I'd planned it, but couldn't find the packaging to be sure it was processed in a gluten free plant.

Sweets are a must during stressful days, so this Autumn Harvest Cobbler was warm and sweet and comforting.  I liked the addition of the dried apricots, though next time I think I'll halve the halves, or quarter them, they were too big compared with the diced apples and raisins.  I didn't have any Bisquick - someone didn't mentioned they'd used the last - so I opted to top it with one of Pioneer Woman's Crisp toppings, like this one on her Pear Crisp.  Worked like a charm!

Because of one of the experiments suggestions by one of the doctors, we had an abundance of sweet potatoes.  Having come off that utter failure of a plan, just three days in, we had an abundance of sweet potatoes.  We love sweet potatoes, which was the only plus to come out of the "plan," and it was kind of fun to incorporate them into recipes, like this Raisin Sweet Potato Cookie recipe.  They were soft and not too sweet.  The only trick - finding a way to store them because the sweet potatoes make them really moist, and thus sticky with a tendancy to crumble, if they are stored in a sealed container.

Fall and winter menus, for me, tend to lack the goodness of fish and meatless meals, that seem to come naturally during the spring and summer months.  Probably because they are lighter fare and don't require excessive heating of my kitchen.  I'm trying to have one meatless meal and one fish meal in the menu a week.  This Cajun Pecan Catfish dish fit that goal.  I used Tilapia, instead of catfish and I got raves around the table.

This was my meatless contribution to the week: Ravioli with Creamy Squash Sauce which was warm and creamy without the cream.  The nuts added a nice crunch, though I didn't toast them, but should have to bring out the nuttiness.  The consensus around the table was it needed more seasoning; salt in particular.  I thought the garlic would have been enough, but it needed something else.  We decided that simple salt and pepper, and maybe some fresh basil in addition to the spinach.  I had some leftovers for lunch and added some diced ham, which was good, too.  This would also make a good side to chicken breasts.

This Creamy Chicken Manicotti has been on my Pinterest board for a very long time.  I printed it out weeks ago, but a restricted menu and then a gluten free plan kept it from being actually made.  I finally made it.  I used rotisserie chicken instead of frozen pre-cooked strips.  It was just okay, though I couldn't tell you why.  Maybe shredded swiss cheese instead of Parmesan would have added some tang.  Maybe it just needed some additional salt and pepper.  It was moist and creamy, and we ate it, but nobody had that "gotta keep this recipe" look about them.  It was good, but I deleted the Pin.

I'm totally hooked on reading the third book in the Outlander series - "Voyager" interspersed with watching the TV show on demand.  It's just so dang good, but it's also becoming the reason I'm not doing much of anything else.  The books have been a huge escape mechanism, but I need to do something creative.  It'd be part of getting back to normal.  We'll see how it goes this weekend. 

The semi-final football playoff game is tonight, which should be infinitely warmer than last week's game.  There's part of me that would like to go, though I doubt anyone would go with me.  How sad would that be?  A middle-aged mom sitting alone in the parent section, screaming her head off and she doesn't even have a player or cheerleader on the field.  LOL. It might be kind of creapy, actually.

The 15 y.o. is heading out to the movies tonight with friends to the Mocking Jay premier.  Hubby is feeling up to getting out of the house and is talking about hunting tomorrow.  He'll need to take the boys to get their hunting licenses this afternoon.  Otherwise, it's me doing more to get the house in order in prep for the holidays.  Can you believe they are upon us?? 

Happy Friday,

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