Monday, August 28, 2023
For the last few weeks, I incorporated garden salads into most of my meal planning.
My salads are not elaborate, however are reminiscent of the salads we had most evenings when I was growing up.
There are two main differences to the salads of yore and my versions today, (1) my mother liked homemade salad dressings and I tend to use a country French dressing which sells under the Ken's brand name and (2) I purchase prepackaged salad fixings.
On August 12, 2023, I made sautéed chicken tenderloins in extra virgin olive oil, with a garden salad, and roll.
August 19, 2023, I made chicken wings and a garden salad.
August 20, 2023, I made a ribeye steak, baked potato, garden salad, and roll.
August 24, 2023, it was Red Baron's Supreme Pizza (added honey ham) and a garden salad.
August 25, 2023, I made hamburger shooters w/garden salad fixings and french fries.
August 28, 2023 (today), I made beef enchiladas (wish I liked the cheddar and chicken combo) and a garden salad.
I have decided, I really like prepackaged salad fixings and incorporating garden salads into my meals (like in the old days).
Monday, August 14, 2023
Over the past month, I have noticed shorter term CD APYs are on the rise. Over the last two or three years, 5 year CD APYs were higher, so I setup several CDs to take advantage of the rates banks were offering.
This week I will setup a new 12 month CD with an APY of 5.10%, and hope the accounts I am transferring the funds from will not be needed for an emergency in the next month or so.
Since I am discussing financial issues, I do have some good news- my FICO scores are on the rise again. After I applied for and obtained two new credit cards last year my credit scores went down. Reference this post or the finance category of this blog where I provide ongoing details about my credit scores.
On my journey to monetize my Youtube Channel, there was also more good news, I now only need 500 subscribers rather than 1000. (This is rather a giggle at this point. Someone indicated my subscribe button does not work, however I tend to be rather sporadic with video uploads.)
I have also started planning and making healthier meal choices.
I am particularly happy about a green beans recipe (I use garlic powder rather than garlic cloves) I found, which I add to sauteed chicken breast.
Friday, August 11, 2023
Often, while researching offerings provided by content creators- I notice many provide their morning coffee ritual. I too, have a morning drink- my espresso.
What my espresso does not have:
- Shot of espresso
- Shot of vanilla
- Shot of caramel
- Oat milk
- Green powder
- Ice cubes
What it does have:
- Freshly ground coffee beans (blend Starbucks & Peets)
- Pure cane sugar
- Heavy whipping cream (okay, its like a shot of caramel with all of the cream and sugar)
- Bottled water
- Canned whipped cream if available
When I could not figure out why the half & half I used for years tasted as if too much preservative (fish oil) was being added, I switched to the heavy whipping cream purchased in a carton.
Recently, I purchased a carton of half & half (because the heavy cream was unavailable) and noticed the odd taste was absent, however I have now become used to the richer taste of heavy whipping cream.
I have no intention of moving into this century on this...
Tuesday, January 10, 2023
Between November and December 2022 I think I lost about 5 pounds. How did this happen? I was running around with this errand or chore which started the weight loss. Once I realized I was losing weight I ate less, which is what I normally do.
It seemed as if I was on a roll and I thought I would continue with my weight loss program through the new year. And then, January first came around.
Because I thought I would be busy Christmas Day setting up a new laptop and putting together the side table, I planned an easy meal for the day- slow cooker roast beef and potatoes.
New Year's Day, I planned to make glazed pork chops with a new recipe in combination with a lot of side dishes.
- New Year's Day Meal
- Bone in Sweet & Spicy Glazed Pork Chops
- Sausage Cornbread Dressing w/Cranberry Sauce
- Steamed Cabbage w/Onions, Peppers, Bacon
- Candied Yams
- Baked Macaroni & Cheese
- Sweet Rolls
I wanted to share the great recipe I found for Sweet & Spicy Glazed Pork Chops. The only change I made to the recipe was to use bone-in chops rather than boneless.
The pork chops and the meal turned out great, the only problem- I have been
cooking and eating since the first.
I do not think I have gained it all back, however it seems I am trying. Good luck with your New Year's resolutions.
Monday, December 12, 2022
As expected, Sunday (December 11, 2022), my TransUnion credit score was updated and increased slightly according to the report offered through Mint.
Reference this discussion about why I was a little annoyed about the credit reporting. I continue to feel the TransUnion score is a little too low.
For the past week or so I have been shopping for a new Certificate of Deposit (CD). Since I already have accounts with financial institutions offering some of the best rates, my research only involves monitoring rates being offered by two of my banks, American Express and Synchrony.
The Federal Reserve will be issuing new data on rates, I think- December 14, 2022, so I am waiting to see if the reports hold concerning a 50 basis point increase. This increase could have an effect on new rates my banks are willing to offer.
Recently, I have been doing a lot of research into financial planning and routinely monitor investable assets that can be moved into high yield savings accounts and/or CDs. I use two versions of Microsoft Money (business and personal versions) to track these assets.
Yesterday, I decided I needed a summary spreadsheet, so I would not have to log into the separate Money files to see the data. I developed an Excel spreadsheet for this data summary.
This weekend, I planned any number of projects, however because I wanted to watch the full first season of "Injustice", a series out of the UK, I did not get to everything I wanted to do.
That said, playing with this Excel Spreadsheet and some of the underlying formulas was kind of fun.
Saturday, I also made a western omelette for breakfast.
Monday, December 05, 2022
Maybe some of you are aware that I am an admin for my high school's alumni group on Facebook. This year, the varsity teams for girls volleyball and boys football have been involved in regional and state championship games. Over the last several weeks, it has been fun watching and reading the reactions from some of the 6K members of the alumni group to these events.
Though Arundel did not win either of these finals, they were pretty impressive throughout the season and many of the alumni members let them know.
What else have I been up to? Cooking, baking, shopping, working, being annoyed (last post), researching tech layoffs and financial news, and taking photos.
On Cyber Monday, I was at Costco bright and early to pickup a gift I wanted. There was a sizeable saving if I purchased the gift by November 28, 2022. Once I knew I had the gift (out of stock concern), I was able to order other gifts which arrived by Saturday, December 3, 2022. I am mostly finished with my holiday shopping, and Mint is happy to let me know I went over budget.
This year, I had a budget of $400 and spent about $425.
That said, if I had paid full price for everything, I would have spent about $650, so I had an overall savings of about $225.00.
Do you think that is a low budget for holiday gifts? These days, I tend to purchase things that are needed on the spot. Gifts are received throughout the year.
Do you want to know if I am losing weight with all of the holiday treats shown in the photos for this post? Yes, believe it or not. I have been getting exercise through chores and eating in moderation.
Hope your holiday plans are going well.
Monday, June 13, 2022
For years, the only salads I would eat on rolls (or bread slices) were albacore tuna or egg salad. Though turkey and chicken salads have been favorites in my family for years, especially during the summer months, I would always pass.
In late winter (2022), my mother asked me to purchase a six pack of the chicken breast that Costco sells under the brand name Kirkland.
Each time I went by Costco, I honestly forgot to pick it up, in that it never made it to my shopping list. I always ask that anything desired, go on a list. When I finally remembered, it was April and only because a huge shipment was sitting on crates in the main aisle just past the fruits and vegetables.
Since then, I have picked up another 6-pack of this wonderful chicken. Today, I made a can for lunch.
I have to say, the combination of a toasted Hawaiian Sweet Roll and the chicken salad is absolutely wonderful. If, like me initially, you are not sure, try it anyway. I know, six cans is a lot (about $14.99), so maybe you can ask if other family members are interested in making their own salads. I was pleasantly surprised.
The other good news about the canned chicken breast, it has a great shelf life.
Monday, May 02, 2022
I have been so busy setting up online resources for my real estate activities, I have had little time for anything else. Based on these recent activities, I added two items to my wishlist:
The Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens will enable the wide angle room or exterior property shots that are popular with real estate photographers and agents. I use an adaptor with my Canon EOS M50 camera which allows any Canon EF lens to be attached.
The Canon EOS M50 comes with software which greatly enhances the quality of my photos. Combined with Canon EF series lenses, I am able to capture great photos.
Over the last two weeks, the only other thing I have had time for is baking. Sunday, before last, I made an almond, strawberry filled buttermilk two layer cake with almond butter cream icing. This cake was so good, I told myself I would miss it when it was all gone. Every time I lifted the glass dome from the cake plate, I could smell the wonderful almond extract that I had been very generous with- when adding the ingredients.
I used the basic buttermilk cake recipe from this post, however made the following substitutions:
- Rather than ¾ C (or 6oz) of Buttermilk, I used 7oz for this version.
- Rather than pure vanilla extract I used just under a tablespoon of pure almond extract.
For the strawberries, I used fresh- which I sliced, de-stemmed and macerated in pure cane sugar for a day or so. The almond buttercream icing:
- ⅜ C Unsalted Butter or 1 whole stick plus 2 tablespoons, room temperature
- 2+ C of Powered Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons of Heavy Whipping Cream
- 1½ Teaspoons of Pure Almond Extract
Whip the butter for about 5 minutes before adding the other ingredients- to taste. Note, I made the cake around 5:00 in the evening on Sunday (earlier, busy shooting photos for my real estate profiles) and after it cooled, let it sit in the pans in the microwave until the next morning. I then made the buttercream icing and put everything together.
Last week, I was out shopping for the basics, when I came across the wood cake stand shown in the photos below. Also shown below, the very similar cake stand I found on Amazon.
The cake stand I purchased, did not come with the glass dome and quite frankly was under $20 from Walmart. I wanted to show how the stand looked- covered.
Sunday, January 23, 2022
Since Thanksgiving, I have been baking quite a bit. Maybe, because it seems colder this year or because I have wanted to do something other than business related chores.
Since mid-summer, I worked a great many business related projects, without reward. I am rather frustrated with the amount of time I spend creating new revenue generating properties (i.e., WiredShops) or updating and repairing existing tools, with no visible signs of recompense.
So, I have been baking. Earlier this month, I made an apple tart.
I liked the way the tart turned out, however have to admit it was an laborious effort.
The reason I wanted to try a new apple dessert? I made an apple pie for Thanksgiving, using a homemade crust. I found the recipe years earlier, however decided to do something I had not done before, use a mixer to blend the dough. In the past, I used a pastry cutter.
As shown in the illustration below, I used a pastry cutter to blend the dough for the (more recent) apple tart.
I used this recipe for the crust, with the following modifications for a smaller yield.
- 1.68 Cups All Purpose Flour (little over 1½)
- ¾ Cup Unsalted Butter cut into small pieces
- 2¼ Teaspoons Sugar
- ¼ Teaspoon Salt
- ½ Teaspoon Vinegar (original recipe called for red wine vinegar. Does not matter after the crust is baked.)
- 7½ Tablespoons Ice Water
- In large bowl stir flour, sugar, and salt until combined.
- Combine vinegar and ice water.
- Add small pieces of butter to the flour and coat.
- Using the pastry cutter, begin cutting the butter into flour. Dough should be lumpy with pieces the size of almonds or peanuts.
- Begin adding the vinegar/water to the flour/butter mix a tablespoon at a time while stirring with a fork until the dough starts to come together. The flakier the dough, the flakier the crust once baked. The dough should be a shaggy mass when the step is complete. Add more flour if the dough becomes too sticky.
- Turn dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and press firmly until the dough comes together. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours before rolling.
Toward the end of the two-hour period the dough was in the refrigerator, I cored, peeled, and cut into thick slices three large gala apples. I then sautéed the slices in butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, cornstarch, brown and white sugars to release the juices from the apples. I have found this step is critical in ensuring the apple filling is not too juicy after baking.
After rolling out half the dough for the bottom layer of the tart, I layered the tart pan, pricked the crust with a fork in several places, and put it into the oven for about 10 minutes.
Once out of the oven, I added the apple filling, and a lattice topping with the rest of the dough. I baked the tart for about 40-45 minutes. Keep in mind the tart is smaller than a pie and I recommend baking the bottom crust a bit before baking the entire tart.
This tart turned out buttery, flaky, non-juicy, and in my opinion just great.
Note: I used a tart pan with a removable bottom so lining a cookie sheet with foil turned out to be a good idea. Not much of the filling leaked through, however enough that it could have been a cleanup problem if not for the lining.
Monday, January 17, 2022
Knew I was staying in over the weekend. It was going to be a long holiday weekend. Local weather forecasters had been calling for a winter storm for the four days leading into the weekend.
Had a pound of 93% lean ground beef in the freezer, package of McCormick Hot Chili Seasoning Mix, two 8oz cans of tomato sauce, pinto beans, onions, green peppers, eggs, milk, butter and Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix, so I thought why not.
I love hot chili on a cold day. Is your team in the playoffs?
Sunday, January 16, 2022
I have been playing with the following recipe for a number of years to replace the box cake mixes I once used. The major problem with the box cake mixes? These days, simply too much.
The following basic buttermilk cake recipe works well with two 7" cake pans for a layered cake, one 7" cake pan for a coffee cake (add topping to the bottom of the pan), or 12 standard size cupcakes.
- 1½ cups of all purpose flour (to make cake flour substitute 3 Tbsp of flour with 3 Tbsp of cornstarch)
- ½ cup soft unsalted butter1
- ¾ cup white sugar
- 1½ eggs beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (pure almond extract is another great flavoring)
- 1¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup lowfat buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Spray cake pans with baking spray. I like Baker's Joy.
- Cream with mixer butter and sugar for about 3-5 minutes. (This seems long, but I think worth it)
- Add eggs and beat.
- Mix in vanilla.
- Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
- Add flour mix to butter/sugar mixture in 3 parts alternating with the buttermilk in 2 parts, beginning and ending with the flour.
- Stir after each addition until blended.
When using this recipe for one 7" cake pan as in a coffee or fruit topped cake, bake for about 27 minutes at 350°F. Bake 12 Cupcakes for about 20 minutes and two 7" cakes for about 24 minutes. Cake tester should come out clean.
I have used this recipe for layered cakes (cake flour version), coffee cake with an apple topping, and blueberry cupcakes. All turned out well. Yesterday, I made the blueberry cupcakes.
Last Wednesday, Safeway had blueberries on sale for $1.49. I purchased both blueberries and strawberries ($2.00) out of season for about $3.50.
Thursday and Friday morning, we had blueberry buttermilk pancakes (recipe found here).
I still had lots of blueberries leftover, so I made the cupcakes Saturday morning.
I thought I would need icing for the cupcakes, however after tasting them- decided they were great without the added sugar.
I purchased my Fat Daddio's 7x2 inch cake pans in March 2018 and the silicone cupcake cups in November 2020.
1Did you know you can freeze butter? I purchase unsalted butter and immediately put it in the freezer upon arriving home. This tidbit from Martha Stewart.
Tuesday, November 30, 2021
I found the series interesting and certainly worth the time. In all, there are 59 episodes, with each season ending without the typical cliffhanger, instead- amid curiosity about what would happen next to the two main characters.
This was a series, I meant to catch when it first aired, however just never found the time. Earlier in the month, I happened to catch another Glenn Close legal drama, "Jagged Edge" and decided it was the perfect time to watch the "Damages" series.
Luckily, I subscribe to STARZ, so every episode was available and I was able to start from the beginning.
In October, I downloaded from the library a short story from John Grisham, "Witness to a Trial". I decided to see what else he has been up to, so I read a couple of chapters of his latest legal drama "The Judge's List". I am looking forward to reading this book.
Sunday, began quiet. After Thanksgiving leftovers for the three prior days, I decided to make chops, cabbage, and candied yams for dinner. The fireplace has not been used in years, so I thought I would build a fire and watch the final season (5) of "Damages" on the big screen in the den.
If you are looking for an interesting series and you did not catch it when it first aired, I think "Damages" is an interesting distraction.
Friday, November 26, 2021
Thanksgiving week started bright and early for me- Monday morning when I was a non-participant in a virtual meeting that began around 8:00 am. The meeting ended around 9:00 am. I was on my way to the market (Costco/Safeway) by 11:30 am for some last minute shopping.
On Tuesday, I began cooking for Thanksgiving. I started with an easy to make cream cheese tart which required a day to set up in the fridge.
Tuesday, I also made the cornbread for the dressing. I always try to make the cornbread for the stuffing at least two days prior to the holiday.
On Wednesday, I made the cranberry sauce.
Also on Wednesday, I made lunch and wrapped the first gift. I am late with my holiday shopping this year. Normally, I am almost done by Thanksgiving week.
Thursday (Thanksgiving), I was late getting out of bed and dressing. Turkey (breast this year), did not go into the oven until just before 11:00 am.
Even though I had a late start, it was an amazingly easy day and I made all of the dishes I planned for the meal. By the way, I found a great mashed potatoes recipe I wanted to share.
Friday morning (today), my brother-in-law and sister dropped by.
Friday afternoon, after eating a late lunch, another holiday dessert option...
Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Wednesday, November 17, 2021
My mother's birthday is normally a week before Thanksgiving- so I have had more projects than normal this year.
The following, a list of projects over the last week- in addition to my normal activities.
- Wednesday, November 10, 2021, ordered a new over the range microwave (handle broke on the old)
- Microwave delivered, Friday, November 12, 2021
- Went shopping for holidays, birthday (11/12/21)
- Saturday, November 13, 2021 family emergency health issue.
- November 15, 2021 went by Lowes to sign contract for microwave installation.
- Went by PNC Bank in Odenton to take care of some paperwork. (11/15/21)
- Went to the market for more holiday, birthday items. (11/15/21)
- Tuesday, November 16, 2021, made lemon loaves and buttermilk cake with chocolate butter cream icing.
- Today is Wednesday, November 17th, 2021.
Photos over the last week...
Peak autumn colors in our area over the weekend...
Long day of deliveries, shopping, and taking photos. I look tired.
Yesterday, I started the baking for the upcoming birthday and holidays. The lemon loaf recipe is discussed in this post.
I think I have perfected the recipe for the buttermilk cake and will provide the exact details in a later post.
Are you ready for the holidays?
Update: Nov. 18, 2021. The new microwave was installed today in less than 30 minutes.
For some reason, I thought I would have a difficult time coordinating the purchase, delivery, installation, and haul away for this project. Very pleased with how all of this worked out, especially in that the new microwave was larger than the original and the guys had to install new brackets in the upper cabinet and the wall behind the oven.
Ordered last Wednesday (Nov. 10, 2021), installed and working by the following Thursday, with all of the details handled by Lowes.
Friday, August 20, 2021
One of our favorite side dishes is spiced apples. It is a simple and easy recipe.
After coring and slicing the apples- put everything into a sauté pan. Everything is to taste, so start with less and then add more- if needed. Use the butter to achieve the desired thickness.
We tend to eat this year round, however autumn is just around the corner if you need an excuse.
Sunday, July 25, 2021
It has been hot in our area with lots of moisture. I have been sticking with easy meals and desserts to prepare.
Shown below, some of the plantings in my gardens. I added a new hosta plant to the front porch and filled the deck planters with marigolds, however have done little more in the way of gardening this year.
The plantings in my gardens include:
- Marigolds, most flying insects do not like marigolds so these were a great addition, especially with the cicadas this year.
- Variegated Day Lilies (Pink & Yellow)
- Back deck
- Crocosmia Lucifer Spectacular Red Perennial
- Shasta Daisies
- Black Eyed Susans (Maryland's State Flower)
- Hydrangea bush
- Hosta on back deck
Most of the statewide pandemic restrictions in place over the last year have been lifted, and my area is becoming busier everyday.
Live Casino & Hotel along with Arundel Mills probably attracting most of the crowd. Friday, I had an appointment in the area, and was surprised by how many visitors I noted (based on automobiles in the parking lots and coming off major exists to the mall and casino). Seems as though people are trying to get back to normal.
Hope you are having a great summer. Have to say, I am ready for the cooler weather of autumn.
Monday, May 31, 2021
It has been a busy week, and I am almost happy the national holiday is about to come to a close.
My activities included:
- An assortment of visitors including relatives from out of town.
- Meal preparations
- Shopping (new espresso machine, groceries, household staples), stores included: Costco, Safeway, Food Lion and Walmart online
- Gathered items for the dump, brother helped with delivery
- Plants, housekeeping chores...
- Article on patch.com about my high school alumni group
- Header bidding updates and maintenance, Google AdManager and Unified Ad Marketplace
- Website updates
- Season finale of "Mare of Easttown"
Other photos taken over the last week, first set (below) - meal preparation.
Some of the meals prepared...
Last week, my espresso machine decided to call it quits, so I ordered a new one. In addition, I hit almost every market in the area in preparation for the week's meals.
One relative stopped by on Thursday. Photos of me taken after the visit.
I have been meaning to get to my hair, simply cannot find the time. Hope you are having a nice holiday. Are you planning to catch the concert on PBS?
Sunday, May 02, 2021
In early April 2020, repairs to the main bathroom on the upper level were an important preoccupation along with the many concerns relating to COVID-19.
A trip to Lowes for fixtures and tools needed for the repair- provided the opportunity to purchase a new plant, the snake plant shown below.
The two illustrations below, show a photo of the plant, taken yesterday and the set of photos taken when I first replanted the Mother-in-Law's Tongue (Snake Plant) in April 2020.
When I left home after college, my parents gave me a snake plant for my first place. I never had a problem. I hate to admit, I almost killed the new plant, over-watering.
With all of the other plants I maintain around the house, I thought I could water as often as I did the others. Big mistake. I am pleased I realized my mistake before it was too late.
Other recent photos...
- Strawberry season, so I buy strawberries... I love strawberry shortcake.
- Love buttermilk pancakes --recipe
- Yellow irises in the backyard are in bloom
- Cascading petunias for the front porch
- Scenes from the den, including the same snake plant photo
- Purple irises on the side of the house not yet in bloom
- Alternanthera Purple Prince - a perennial ground cover
- Hosta plant on the back deck
There were many changes over the past year, however we made it. So did the Dracaena Trifasciata (mother-in-law's tongue).
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Let me just say, "I love Red Baron Pepperoni Pizza with the Classic Crust". I am funny about frozen pizza, and will not try most. That said, last week I tried a DiGiorno Pepperoni Pizza with a Croissant Crust, and have decided I can do this one too.
Other things I have tried lately, include this LandOFrost Honey Ham lunch meat. It was on sale around the holidays and I am happy I decided to try it. I added diced slices of the ham to the Red Baron Pizza before baking and it turned out great.
We do not often have food delivered, however over the weekend relatives sent a "Well Wishes" gift...
This is a great gift idea.
Saturday, November 28, 2020
It was a busy week. Shopping, cooking, preparations for a new project.
I liked this quiet holiday. I have several projects in the works, so it seemed- everyday over the last week, had any number of tasks that had to be completed, to be able to move on to the next step.
Over the last 8 months or so, I have been out a lot more doing most of the shopping and running errands. People seem busy. I am happy, because I am busy.
Sometimes people seem more upset at the holidays (for years, I have felt more like a bystander at the holidays, giving me the opportunity to observe more). This year is different. People seem busier. This makes me hopeful. Hope you are having a nice holiday.