Saturday, November 28, 2009

Back to life, back to reality

Aye, my head is spinning today!

I took the day off yesterday to sit in my pajamas and waste away in front of the computer. But now it's back to the daily grind and then some!

I'm still washing dishes from Thanksgiving. Don't judge me! There are very specific Biblical guidelines for judging and I know for a fact that leaving Thanksgiving dishes to sit on the kitchen counter for two days before washing them is not mentioned!

Anyway, I'm also writing up our weekly menu and trying to work all our lovely leftovers into our upcoming meals. What do you think of these?

English Cottage Pie with Herbs (from
*I will try any dish that sounds even remotely English. Except blood pudding. Sorry, but no. I don't do Marmite either, but I digress...

**This recipe not only uses some of the leftover mashed potatoes taking up space in the fridge, but the rest of the whole eye of round I slow-cook on Wednesday. BONUS!

-1 lb lean ground beef (Pshaw, I'm using diced, braised, leftover roast beef)
-1 large onion, diced
-12 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
-16 oz frozen peas and carrots or cooked fresh carrot slices
-6 cups prepared instant mashed potatoes (WHAT??) or leftover mash
-1 oz herb & beef gravy mix (A-HA, an excuse to go buy some Bisto)
-1/8 t rosemary
-1/4 t thyme
-1 1/4 cups water or dry red wine (dry red wine, definitely)
-1/2 t ground black pepper
-1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
-1 large tomato, sliced (I may be omitting this)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (WHY is there no degree symbol on the keyboard?)
2. In medium saucepan, cook beef and onion over medium-high heat until beef is very browned, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and peas and carrots. Stir well and heat through.
3. To the meat mixture, add gravy packet and water or wine, rosemary, thyme and pepper. Stir well to combine. Bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat. boil and stir for 2-3 minutes (gravy will thicken when cool).
4. Turn beef mixture into a greased large and deep casserole dish. Top with potatoes, cheese and tomato slices.
5. Cover and bake at 350 degrees (grrrr) for 30 minutes. Uncover, and cook an additional 10-15 minutes, until hot and bubbly.
6. Serve with Parmesan cheese for topping at the table, along with a glass of cider or ale (Magners would do very nicely), if desired!
7. Note: To freeze, omit the cheese and tomato. Do not bake. To cook, defrost in fridge overnight, add cheese and tomato and bake as directed, adding about 20 minutes to the baking time to compensate for the chilled food.

I'm actually making that tonight. I may have to go out just for some Magners to go with it.

Tomorrow for brunch after church (if we make it--The Viking's back is still very bad), I'm making this one:

Crispy Leftover Stuffing Hash with Sunny-Side-Up Eggs (from
*I think this one needs a new name. I didn't name it. But it does use up the TONS of stuffing leftovering in my fridge.

-2 cups leftover stuffing
-2 T lightly salted or sweet butter
-2 eggs
-salt and pepper to taste

1. Form a half-inch thick pancake about 6 inches in diameter with your leftover stuffing.
2. Melt the butter in a saute pan. Place the stuffing pancake into the pan.
3. Cook at low heat for about 5 minutes, until it is a lovely golden brown.
4. Turn the stuffing pancake over and cook another 3-4 minutes.
5. Put the pancake on a serving plate in the oven.
6. Make your sunny-side-up or poached eggs. Top the pancake hash with the eggs.

And one more that I'm probably going to make tomorrow evening to get rid of the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers in one fell swoop:

Turkey and Stuffin' Soup (courtesy Rachael Ray)

-4-6 cups prepared stuffing
-1 T extra virgin olive oil
-2 medium carrots, chopped, up to 2 cups leftover baby carrots, chopped
-2 ribs celery, chopped
-1 onion, chopped
-salt and pepper
-1 bay leaf
-2 qts chicken stock
-1 1/2 lbs cooked turkey meat, diced
-handful parsley leaves, chopped
-1 cup frozen peas or leftover prepared peas, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and transfer stuffing into a small baking dish. Place dish in oven and reheat 12-15 minutes until warmed through.

Heat a pot over moderate heat and add olive oil. Work close to the stove and add veg as you chop. If you're using fresh carrots, cut them into a small dice or slice thin. If you're using leftover baby carrots, cut into bite-size pieces. Add celery and onion and lightly season veg with salt and pepper. Ad bay leaf, stock and bring liquid to boil. Add turkey and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer until any raw veg are cooked until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley and peas, if using.

Remove stuffing from oven. Using an ice cream scoop, place a healthy scoop of stuffing in center of a soup bowl. Ladle soup around stuffing ball. Your soup will look like a chunky matzo ball soup. Pull spoonfuls of stuffing away aw you eat through your bowl of soup.

Hey, that sounds pretty good! We'll see what the family thinks, though, and they are a tough bunch. I think all Man-Cub ate on Thanksgiving was turkey, rolls and pie (but not the crusts, the Philistine). I can't quite see him going for stuffing in his soup. Oh well.

My other pursuits today are many and varied. I have to somehow track down The Viking's doctor. He has been in continuous pain for two weeks now, is still sleeping in the recliner and is slipping into despair despite the epidural he had on Tuesday. I know, it can take up to 2 weeks for it to take effect, but what is he supposed to do in the meantime? The doctor isn't seeing him again until December 22! The meds being prescribed are not helping much, but he's running out of them and can't get them refilled without a doctor's authorization.

I also have some shopping to do. I need groceries (SNORE), but I also want to stop in at my favorite British Import shop for some Advent calendars for the kids and a package of Typhoo. Then I want to track down the materials to make my very first Advent wreath and some candles. I've been doing some reading lately and have decided that what we need right this very moment is a little Advent, not a little Christmas. It's too early for Christmas, people! That need you feel to anticipate something with great expectation and excitement cannot be met by Santa Claus, Frosty, Rudolph, the Grinch, or (Lord help us) Homer Simpson dressed as Santa. Getting that something special for everyone on your Christmas list, mailing all your Christmas cards by December 1st, or festooning every corner of your home with glitter, tinsel, baubles, holly and ribbon will not help. Wishing joy and peace and goodwill to your fellow man won't even cut it.

We spend inordinate amounts of time and energy getting ready, but for what? For Santa? No, we're too old for that. For exchanging gifts? For gathering with family? For resting and relaxing? All good things, but is that all we're gearing up for? Is that the main event? We spend almost 6 weeks preparing for something we just did on Thanksgiving except with presents? So is it just about presents? It can't be. Because then we could just efficiently add the exchanging of gifts to our Thanksgiving celebrations and save ourselves a lot of time, effort and money (not that corporate America would ever want that to happen, but it would be the sensible thing to do). No, there must be something else that makes Christmas special.

Lately, you hear a lot about being kind to everyone around you because it's Christmas, that special season. But why? Why should we be extra good to people at Christmas time? What's so special about it?

What's special about it is Christ and the celebration of his birth. He came, miraculously and willingly, to become one of us, knowing we would kill him and reject him, all so we could have a way to be with him for eternity and escape the eternal torment we deserve. That is what we celebrate on Christmas and that is what we anticipate during Advent. We prepare our hearts and our homes for what should be the most splendid party of the entire year. That's where all the hoopla surrounding Christmas comes from, or once did.

One year, when I was walking far from God, I celebrated Christmas and Easter the way many Americans do, without Christ in it. I didn't think I would miss much; after all, it seems to work for so many. But, despite my continued anger with and rebelliousness toward God, I noticed how empty and flat those Holidays seemed without that divine element. I actually thought, though I would not acknowledge it for many, many months, "How do people celebrate this way year after year? Is this all they have, all there is? How SILLY!"

So, this year, instead of getting caught up in the increasingly secular preparations for an increasingly secular "Holiday," I am slowing down and refocusing. I'm remembering what I'm really waiting for and preparing for. And I'm finding ways to work those remembrances into our family traditions, which is why I want a wreath! Anyone know where I can get that stuff???

You know, I never know how to wrap things up. I go on a tear about something and then suddenly, I'm done and I've got no words or mental energy left for a spiffy conclusion.

So, on that note...I'm done. And I have to go shopping. Thanks for listening.


Leila said...

Od's fish, m'dear! That pie looks thrillin'!

Good words about Advent. The world wants us to do as they do...and we have to do otherwise. My husband keeps saying that we have to decide what we can do and then do it.

God bless!

Sarah said...

Hi! I just jumped over from Like Mother, Like Daughter ... Great words about Advent. I think you're on the right track! I've been thinking very similar thoughts this year. We've always had Advent and the *real* reason for Christmas, but it continues to grow more and more meaningful every year. For some reason, this year, I'm REALLY into Advent and avoiding celebrating Christ's birth too soon ... So, you're not alone; I think there are many of us who are feeling the same way and striving to do things differently this year. I hope you found a wreath. If not, a Catholic/Christian bookstore should have them. Or even a regular wreath with some candle holders with candles in the middle ... I ordered mine online, but it hasn't arrived yet. Oh no!! We'll have to make due until it comes, hopefully in the next day or two ...

And I enjoyed your first song on your playlist, "Count Your Blessings." "White Christmas" is my all-time favorite Christmas movie =)

Amongst The Oaks said...

Hi Pippajo,
The recipes all look good to me, but the Cottage Pie especially. I Googled how to make degree symbols and you can make all sorts of symbols using the ALT key. Just hold it down and type 0176 on the numeric keypad and Voila, there's a degree symbol.
Others I use at work (we're in California) are ñ, è, and é.
I hope the Viking is feeling better soon. A bad back is just so debilitating.