Hemingway once said, “When you stop doing things for fun you might as well be dead.” I can’t help but agree with him and after all the fun we had this weekend during our anniversary trip I think we may just live forever.
Table Rock Lake is a huge lake in SW Missouri. Branson (The elderly Vegas of the Midwest) is a part of the 800 miles of shoreline for those that are familiar. With over 43,000 acres of water to explore we had a blast fishing and tubing but the best part was getting two full days away together. The weather has been unseasonably cool so it was completely perfect camping weather. Goldilocks would have even announced it as just right.
We’ve had such a good year together and I can’t wait to share so many more.
The supplies are gathered. I’m beyond ready for the weekend.
It’s the middle of July in the Midwest and usually that means temperatures in the mid nineties. With this latest polar vortex (at least that’s what the news is calling it) we’re comfortably in the mid-seventies. It’s crazy how much this feels like autumn. Which explains why my tummy has been craving comfort food. I made chili last week before the weather change and I felt a little silly but it was too tasty to care. So today I decided that my soup pot needed to be fed something my family calls chicken stew. It’s a hearty chicken soup made with flavorful dark meat and a creamy broth. Like all really good soups it takes a little time but very little effort. You could add noodles to this (I like Reames) but the chicken is so hearty just how it is I think the extra noodles are too much. But I’ve done it and it’s still really good but more of a winter soup that way.
- 6-8 chicken thighs- bone in and skin on
- 8-10 cups water
- 4 carrots diced
- 2 large sweet onions diced
- 1 whole jalapeño
- 1/2 pint mushrooms diced
- 2-3 mini-cups of Knorr Chicken Stock gels
- Salt/Pepper/Poultry Seasoning/Paprika/ cilantro- to taste
- 1 block of cream cheese cubed
- Over medium high heat place chicken, skin-side down, in a large soup pot.
- Cook until chicken is about half done
- Add water, carrots, onions, and jalapeño
- Bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer for about an hour
- Remove chicken pieces and set aside to cool
- Remove jalapeño and discard
- Skim any excess fat from the top of the soup and discard
- Add mushrooms
- Once chicken is cooled, remove and discard skins and bones, and break chicken into medium pieces before returning them to the pot
- Season with the chicken stock gels making sure to dissolve each one in the soup before tasting and adding any more gels
- Season with the poultry spices, salt, pepper, and paprika to taste
- Remove about two cups of the liquid and add to the cubed cream cheese (I like to microwave this to help melt the cheese) mixing until smooth
- Add the cheese mixture back to the soup
- Add cilantro to taste
- Serve hot (I like to have mine with a little bit of hot sauce added)
Makes 10-12 servings
It’s no secret that I play in the kitchen when I’m bored or stressed. I’m recovering from a really nicely sprained ankle so I was home this weekend and not out playing at the lake watching fire works like so many other people. Absolutely ok since I got to try my hand at making fresh salsa. I have no idea why it’s taken me this long to attempt this sort of thing.
Looking around the kitchen I took quick stock of what I had to make salsa. I received some nice roma tomatoes and onions in my CSA basket last week. I had a few serrano peppers left over from some chili I made a few days earlier. And like any good home cook I’ve always got some garlic and cilantro on hand. Oh and cherries are in season and, more importantly, they’re on sale so I had some of those as well.
This salsa is seriously simple to make with my kick-ass blender. Toss everything in, turn it on, done. Not too hot… but it has a kind of back-of-the-palate growing heat thing going on that I happen to like. The cherries give it a nice change of pace and just a touch of sweetness.
Ingredients (makes about 3-4 cups)
- 3-5 tomatoes- I used Roma
- 1 large sweet onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1-2 serrano peppers, stems removed
- 1/4 – 1/2 pound of pitted sweet cherries (frozen can be used if you can’t find these fresh)
- handful of cilantro
- juice from a whole lime
- salt and pepper to taste
- Roughly chop the tomatoes and onion into blender manageable size
- Add all of the ingredients to the blender
- Blend until desired texture is reached
You can chop all of the ingredients by hand but in this instance I liked the idea of something a little smoother than normal.
Lap band patients are supposed to focus on our protein intake. I’ve been slacking heavily lately so I’ve looked for inspiration all over the place. A classmate told me about something called the Dukan Diet. Essentially it’s 90% lean protein and 10% veggies once you get past the initial five days of only protein.
At first an all protein diet sounds dull and tasteless. But when I started looking around at recipes I found something that stood up and grabbed my attention immediately. Sauces! I adore sauces and since texture is such a factor for me and my lap band, sauces help good things stay down.
The first recipe I made was a Korean diced steak. A very tasty start but not the recipe I was the most excited about.
Enter Asian Sticky Chicken (originally found here but I adjusted it a bit for what I had on hand). I used chicken drummettes since it’s easier for me to find the right portion for my tiny tummy. The sauce is four ingredients… FOUR! I’ve never made wings before and this recipe makes me wonder why I haven’t tried them sooner.
Asian Sticky Chicken Wings
8-10 chicken drummettes
3 T balsamic vinegar
3 T low sodium soy sauce
2 T Brown Sugar Blend Splenda
2 t chili paste (I used Gochujang)
•In a medium skillet lightly coated with cooking spray, brown both sides of the chicken (about 4 minutes per side).
•While that is browning, combine the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, or until it thickens a bit.
•After your chicken has browned, add the sauce to the skillet and cook for another 5 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked. Be sure the sauce doesn’t get too thick or it might burn.
One of the spare rooms in my house was previously home to a sticker-happy little girl. There were stickers everywhere. Little. Flower. Stickers. They were on the walls, above the closet, on the blade of the ceiling fan. I have no idea how a little girl could even get to some of these places.
Before- Bright crayon ORANGE
Kilz is the only thing I could come up with that even had a chance of covering this crazy color. You can’t go wrong with something called Hide-All. Worth a shot anyway. I’d say that it did a pretty good job. This is after just two coats of primer. I’m impressed with it.
During- Two coats of Kilz primer covers almost all of the orange nightmare
I attempted to paint over the already poorly painted trim but it didn’t go well and I ended up stripping the whole room. Not really fun… even for a picker like me. But I like how it turned out and I’m glad that I decided against pulling the carpet. Now, onto the next project.
After- A nice work space that won’t blind the senses