It was one of those make-what-you-have-from-whatever-you've-got dishes. I thought it would be ok, passable, maybe even good. I was shocked when so many people told me that they loved it! So here is what I did:

I cubed 6 summer squash (a mix of zucchini and crookneck) and a VERY large tomato, tossed them on a sheet pan (1" sides) with olive oil and a hefty amount of sea salt, and put them into a 400* oven to roast. I mixed them up, flipping them over as best I could, after 15 minutes.

During that 15 minutes I browned some crumbled ground beef - about 1.5# - and a chopped, large onion with salt and dried basil in oil. When it was done I drained it, then added container (16 oz I think?) of full-fat sour cream, mixing it in thoroughly, and turned the heat to the lowest setting. Covered, it waited quite patiently for the vegetables to finish.

After greasing my 11x14 Anchor baking dish with oil, I poured the roasted vegetables into it. While they were still hot I sprinkled about a cup of mixed shredded cheese over them. Then I spread the meat/sauce mixture over the cheese, then I put another half-cup or so of the cheeses on top, and sprinkled it with parmesan (from the can).

Since it was the night before the potluck, I covered it and put it in the fridge.
The next morning I popped it - uncovered - into the oven at the church at 300*. It came out well-browned, crispy around the edges and on top, and beautiful an hour later. Probably it would have been just as good heated half that time,

I was really delighted with how it tasted, and can't wait to make it again, it was SO delicious!
 
 
Didn't really have anything cold to serve for supper tonight, so made a "pizzarole" (fried a bunch of pizza toppings and chopped tomatoes together, held together with mozzarella cheese, and big gobs of more cheese melted on top) and ugly fries (whole baby green beans tossed with olive oil, sea salt, and onion powder and roasted on a baking sheet until brown and crispy)...but I have some chicken breasts, think I'll cook those up later and toss them with mayo, ranch, shredded cabbage, and whatever else I can find to throw in there. I'll make a BIG bowl of it and that's what we'll eat for the next few days until the heat breaks...THEN I'm going to shop for some hot-weather foods! We ran out of fresh produce over the weekend and I haven't made it back to Bart's yet.
 
 
Actually, not pumpkin at all...

When I was in college what I THOUGHT was pumpkin pie was actually sweet potato pie! I have no clue how they managed that since, at the time, I didn't like sweet potatoes. But I loved it because it tasted just like pumpkin pie...

Fast forward...um...too many years to tonight. I had a leftover roasted sweet potato in the fridge, and a sweet tooth. So I didn't make sweet potato pie, I wanted something a little lighter for summer, but a similar flavor.

Out came the KitchenAid, I peeled the potato and cut it into chunks, then threw a brick of full-fat cream cheese in and mixed until they were smooth. Then I poured in a little vanilla, a lot of cinnamon, some nutmeg, a little brown sugar sub, and a large packet of sugar-free vanilla pudding mix, and blended until smooth. (NOTE: you have to scrape down the sides OFTEN, and don't forget the bottom!) Then, with the speed turned down, I added a quart of half'n'half. (I would have used a mixture of heavy cream and water, had I had some.) Continued to mix after scraping the sides and bottom down again until it started to thicken, then poured into 2 quart serving bowls and put them in the fridge to set.

This made a massive amount of "pumpkin cheesecake pudding". (Hey, if Siena Heights can call it pumpkin pie, I can call this pumpkin cheesecake pudding!) About 2 quarts, judging by the size of the bowls I had to pour it into to refrigerate...

I'm drooling, about to go have some - of course I tasted it before - and I know it isn't REALLY low carb...about 35g in the sweet potato, 48 in the half'n'half, 16 in the pudding mix, 8 in the cream cheese...that's 107 grams. But for 16 half-cup servings, it doesn't sound nearly so bad, at about 7g per :).
 
 
Soon after my last post I got sick. REALLY sick. It was a flu thing, I guess, hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt sleepy and took a nap one afternoon. Woke up and it was dark out, I had a fever high enough that my body was trembling so badly I needed help to walk. And I had nausea - awful nausea! Which, because of my "wrap" was so much worse than nausea in pre-wrap days since vomiting is now impossible and wretching is excruciating. And a headache like I hadn't experienced since my last migraine (in 1990)...pain from head to toe. I was literally asking God to take me Home...

I gradually got better, but it took 3 weeks. A strange thing happened while I was so sick though: I lost interest in the things that I always had enjoyed - or even done but didn't enjoy - before. Playing my keyboard. Playing with my parrots. Church activities. Cooking.  Blogging...

A couple of weeks ago I decided to force myself to not only do these things, but enjoy them. Enjoyment truly is a state of mind, and of course we have the choice to enjoy or not to enjoy the things we do. But it's hard work...

Will I keep blogging regularly? I don't know. Will I stop blogging altogether? No. Doing it now, I am enjoying it. If you follow my blog, just don't expect posts every day, I guess. You have been warned. :)

(Oh, and my grocery receipts? Yeah, I have been obsessively saving them all since March...I have a BIG stack of them here. Big enough that I'm not going to detail them all, but I will catch up. Maybe today, definitely by tomorrow. So I can start June already up-to-date!)
 
 
On March 1st I had the opportunity to go to Pineview Discount store in McBain. Hubby had a meeting about halfway there so after dropping him off I went shopping. I didn't need a whole lot but that is a good store for stocking up on things that I can always use. I ended up spending $65.36 on about a dozen bags of food that included 19 fresh dairy and meat items! Plus some bulk food baking/herb/spice supplies, sauces and condiments, and snacks to pack in hubby's lunches.

I then went to Marion, just a few miles from there, to see what ValuLand had on sale. Not a whole lot that I wanted or needed but I did get a big bag of yellow onions (10 to the bag) for 85 cents, and found some whole raw almonds on sale that my parrots love, and a bag of frozen sweet potato fries that my grandson loves. The total for human food there was $6.78.

So on the very first day of the month I spent $72.14...and ALL of my cupboards AND my refrigerator AND my freezer are packed full now - I couldn't fit anything else into my kitchen if I wanted to!

 
 
I found another receipt from February - ARGH! It sure was an expensive month! I spent $24.81 at Glen's for some coupon items and things they had on sale...speaking of coupon items:

If you aren't a member of SavingStar, you might want to consider it. You activate certain electronic coupons using their app on your smart phone. When you buy the items you don't see the savings at the register, but once you accumulate enough (I think the minimum is 5 bucks - very low anyway) they transfer the savings into your paypal account! It is always nice to ask for my transfers a few times a year and be able to do something special with it, I'm always surprised at how quickly it builds up!

So, that makes my final total for February $316.46 - YIKES!

But the good thing is, my freezer is full, my fridge is full, and my cupboards are full! I still need to put in a Netrition order, and will probably need more meat before the end of March, but this month should be a much cheaper month!

 
 
I love those cheese cracker sandwiches with peanut butter inside of them, and could easily eat a dozen before I thought about it, if I let myself. Which, of course, I don't. So I wanted something that might be reminiscent of those, that was cheap'n'easy of course, but a little better than cheese baked until crisp and schmeared with peanut butter. And these little gems definitely fill the bill!

2c finely shredded cheese (I used mild cheddar - next time I'll use sharp)
1c light peanut flour
2 flax eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
hot water

Line a 14x20 baking sheet with parchment paper; spray with nonstick cooking spray

Toss first 2 ingredients in a mixing bowl; add the next 3 ingredients and mix well with hands to form a soft dough - if dough is stiff or crumbly, add hot water by the tablespoonful until it is soft enough to work with easily.

Spread dough on parchment-lined pan; pat down as flat as possible with wet hands; cover with sprayed plastic wrap; roll out until dough is thin and even; this will take the dough all the way to the edges of the pan and shape it naturally into a rectangle about 1/8" thick.

Place in 175 degree oven overnight. Break apart to eat. (If you want perfect squares, wait until crackers are set but not crisp and score with a knife. I don't care about perfect squares.)

These hold up to being spread with room temp butter or cream cheese or peanut butter. They are also great topped with some tuna salad or, I'd imagine, any other kind of salad. And they are great all by themselves!

It took me about 10 minutes to make the recipe, from lining the pan to putting them in the oven. Very very easy, and definitely worth the time!

The entire recipe has about 18gN carbs and cost me a little less than $2 to make. So far it has lasted - just stored at room temp on the countertop - 5 days and we've nibbled and munched our way through about 3/4 of them.



 
 
Tell you what, March had better be CHEAP because February is turning into an expensive month!

I've run into Walmart for a couple of things and saw some meat on sale so spent a bunch there that I didn't plan to spend, then the same thing happened at Sav-a-Lot. Yikes! But I ended up with 29.5# of meats that I didn't have yesterday, including ham, steaks, ground chuck, 2 pkgs of hot dogs (hubby), turkey, and chicken thighs! The average cost for all that meat was $2.19/lb!!

I also picked up a cabbage and some onions, some canned mushrooms and tuna, 2.5 dozen eggs, coconut oil, 4 quarts of half'n'half, ranch dressing, and some cheeses.

Total of today's food bought was $87.59.

Yesterday I picked up a rotisserie chicken and some frozen sweet potato fries for our only meal of the day, plus a loaf of the bread that my husband and grandson like (I know, I know!...but I really need to get a netrition order in...) that bill was $12.00 exactly.

So adding $99.59 to my previous total of $191.98, February's total to date is $291.57 - and we've still got 6 days to go - YIKES! Hope I don't run out of anything else!
 
 
Did I yet mention that we now have a couple of Aldi supermarkets closer than 90 miles? Very exciting! Last week we went to one of them - next month we'll go to the other.

Of course the timing wasn't right. I needed things but couldn't get to either of the closer (one is 55 miles, one is 70 miles) Aldi during the first week of the month so had to buy some things locally. Small, local trips are more expensive, which I don't like...but for what it's worth, here's what we've spent so far this month.

The first couple of days included a trip to Dollar General for an 11.5 oz can of coffee for $3.50 (!) and a trip to Walmart for assorted things: produce, tomato sauce, olive oil, tuna, half'n'half, dreamfield's spaghetti, etc. for $38.42.

A couple of trips to Sav-a-Lot added $15.81 and $4.97 for some pork rinds, peanuts for hubby ($1.99 for 12 oz - yikes!), eggs, mushrooms, cheese, and so forth.

I finally got a chance to get to Aldi on Saturday and spent $106.88 stocking up on dairy - yogurts (haven't had time to make any), cheeses, butter ($2.25/lb), canned goods, half'n'half ($1.49/qt), cottage cheese, frozen shrimp, snacks for my 3YO grandson that he likes, frozen sausage links, 11.3 oz decaf coffee ($2.79 ea), two of their lovely dark chocolate bars, peanuts for hubby ($1.49 for 16 oz - more like it! bought 5 bags) etc...and I bought about a month's worth of these kinds of food.

Then down the street to GFS for frozen vegetables: (9) 2# packages, plus a 2# bag of cut romaine for $3.99 - not much more than I'd pay for half that amount, but not cut up, locally. My GFS total was $43.18. This also included a tray of sliced cheeses for church fellowship @ $7.99. Normally I'd buy the bricks @ $1.79/8oz and slice it myself, but I knew I wouldn't be able to do it that night, and needed it for the next morning; this is a purchase I wouldn't have typically made. (If you are curious about the frozen vegetables, I bought cauliflower, broccoli, chopped spinach, whole green beans, brussel sprouts, and california blend to add to the half-dozen partial packages I still had from the last trip to GFS.)

So my total for February so far is $191.98.
 
 
I have blogged these before, but was asked for the grain-free breads that I use, so I'm posting them here to make them easily accessible.

The first is my variation on Oopsie Rolls. I like them but they were just a tad too eggy for me. I use the Oopsie recipe but to the yolk mixture I add a tablespoon of either almond flour, or golden flax meal, 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum, a drop of liquid sucralose (you could use the sweetener of your choice - not enough to sweeten, but enough to add another layer of flavor), and 1/8 tsp of salt. These additions are enough for me to get a breadier texture and taste :).

The 2nd is my variation on similar grain-free breads:
Beat 1 large egg in a buttered bowl; the bowl should be the shape you want your bread; mix in well 1 Tbsp sour cream or plain yogurt.
In another dish, whisk together 1 Tbsp golden flax meal and 1 Tbsp almond flour, plus 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/8 tsp salt.
Combine the two; add enough very warm water to make a thick (barely pourable) batter; let stand for about 5 minutes; microwave for 60-90 seconds, depending on your machine. Let cool a bit, then tip out of bowl; cut horizontally to make 2 slices.
I love these when they are toasted! Sort of like a very light english muffin :).

Either of the above can be made sweeter, add cinnamon, or have other variations of your choice. If you do a search on Oopsies you find forums where numerous variations are described.

The other recipe that I make on occasion, also grain-free, is Maria's "Healthified" Sub buns, which I've made in various shapes and sizes. (When I make these, I simultaneously make a nice custard with all of those yolks, just by mixing in a whole egg or 2, some cream, a dash of salt, some cinnamon, and sweetener, then baking in a water bath alongside the pans of buns until just set.)

The other bread that I sometimes use (but which isn't grain-free and are eaten more by my husband than by me) is my Lovely Loaf - it is amazingly delicious, but does have wheat in it so I don't make it as much.

Hopefully one of these will satisfy your desire for a sandwich or a piece of toast now and again :).