Sunday, October 31, 2010

Chicken Veggie Soup

 I have so much on my agenda this week ahead that I am really looking forward to!  Tomorrow evening, I begin rehearsing with my town community choir to perform Handel's Messiah!  This is a huge event put on every other year, and I am very excited to be part of it for the second time!  And later in the week, I get to babysit a totally adorable little girl who, along with her parents, has crawled right up in my heart!  All of this must include a very busy work schedule Tuesday, and Wednesday; a couple of trips to the gym, and some general house hold chores!

In order for me to really be able to enjoy all of the activities on my schedule, I have to take care of me, and plan ahead!  I have been feeling very domestic recently, and enjoying my time in the kitchen, and working on some crochet projects.  I went each Wednesday evening through the month of October to a wonderful lecture series on Abraham Lincoln; and I am taking an all day photography class this next Saturday!  I am also strongly feeling the need to nurture the people in my life.  I have been feeling so very safe and cozy in my heart, and I want to share that with my loved ones.  I can truly thank my most wonderful boyfriend for nurturing that feeling in me!  Consequently, cooking has not just been a necessity, it is once again a pleasure.

I like the healthy way that I feel when I eat healthy food, and that helps me to work on getting these last ten pounds off my tummy and thighs! LOL!!  I am also cheap, so I like to make foods that use inexpensive ingredients, go far, and nourish well!  I am really trying to make an effort to watch the amount of salt that I eat.  I don't add much salt to anything when I cook, but my blood pressure has been a little high lately, and there doesn't seem to be many medical reasons for it!  My cholesterol levels are, according to my doctor, impressive, as was my entire lab work up!  But I do have a tendency to really be fond of crunchy salty foods.  Consequently, I am trying to be extra super careful about where I might be consuming extra salt, so I can make some modifications.  The recipe that I made today has no added salt, though a couple of ingredients are low salt.

Today, I am making good use of my crock pot again ... in a wonderfully simple dish! It is just so pretty, and it is starting to smell so good! I wish I could publish the way it smells for you!  But since I cannot, you are going to have to make some for yourself, and try it out!

I have a family size crock pot, as I used to have 5 mouths to feed ... now there are just 2 of us, and I still use that huge thing! But with it, I can cook once or twice a week, and eat wonderful leftovers!  Its a great time and money saver in my wonderfully busy life!  I work only one mile from my home, so most often I come home for lunch, and to be able to heat up a bowl of something yummy really gives me something to look forward to!

This recipe is so easy, you can have your kids help make it!  I put a whole chicken in a big stock pot, poured in 2 cans of low salt chicken broth (cause that is what was in the cupboard!), and added a little more water until it was just covered.  I put that to boil on the stove while I went to work filling the crock pot with veggies!

Half a head of cabbage
8 small potatoes (I used red, but you can use whatever you have)
3 small onions (you could use scallions too!)
4 large carrots
4 stalks of celery
Half each of a red, yellow and green bell pepper (you could use different amounts and colors, this is just something that was left in the fridge after making another dish!)
2 Roma tomatoes
1 whole bulb of garlic, pealed, and minced

Everything is cleaned, and chopped into bite size pieces, and put in the crock. I lifted the chicken out of the broth, and set it aside to cool, and dumped the broth into the crock over the veggies.  I also added a can of Progresso Hearty Tomato Soup, also because it was in the cupboard, and looked like a great ingredient!

When it was cool enough to handle, I boned the chicken, and added the meat to the crock, stir gently .... I have to because the crock is so full it will make a huge mess if I am not gentle!

This will simmer all afternoon, and I will have it for dinner with perhaps a dollop of plain non-fat Greek yogurt (I prefer it over sour cream anymore! It is lower in calories, and higher in protein!), and some fresh french bread from the bakery at my local market! YES! I shop at a small town, local market!  I also shop at a couple of locally placed mega chain stores too.  Each as it's own necessity, and specialty!

I feel pretty confident that much like the Borscht I made last weekend, I will be eating this Chicken Veggie Soup for lunch and dinner all week! YUM!  It's easy.  It's inexpensive.  It's delicious.  It's good for my body.  It is a wonderful way to enjoy my fall dinners with beautiful food, and relax!

Now I have time to make sure my scrubs are all clean a put away for the week ahead, and plan out some fun crochet projects ... which I will share with you soon!

Much Nurturing Love to you!
Live WELL!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Embrace the Shadows of the Past

There are so many times that grief comes into our lives. So many ways. I am often amazed at how a particular grief can revisit repeatedly. I have recently been very much missing my grandmas.  I have been thinking of the many very practical lessons I learned from my paternal grandma about being resourceful, and not wasting anything. I have a coat of hers, and I have been wearing it a lot with the fall weather arriving, and it helps me feel her near me.  I think almost every day of my maternal grandma, and the many wise and thoughtful things she taught me about life, and living with the decisions we have made.  The way she still makes me laugh with her sayings!  I have some baking dishes that were hers, and love using them to remember her, and feel in some way that those dishes make her part of the meal I'm creating.

Memories can be very powerful, they can overwhelm us, and flood our hearts with emotions we might have thought long tucked away.  Recently I learned that my daughter, who lives in another state, was expecting! I cried with joy! I'm going to be a grandma! A short time later, we learned that she miscarried. The grief came to visit again, and brought with it the memories of my own experience.  My daughter, much like her mother during her own loss, does not want to talk about it, ever again.  I understand and respect that.  It has been 20 years, and I am only now beginning to open up and share my loss with other people.  I do not feel the judgment that I once thought I might, if I shared my secret.  I have been learning over the last couple of years to release my skeletons from their closet, better that than having them escape!

I could not say that I was devastated with my miscarriage, but very deeply saddened.  In many ways, I felt that God had taken this baby from me for good reason, and I could not blame Him in any way for His decision.  Whether it ought to or not, it felt a just and right payment for the life that I had taken several years before, when I chose to terminate a pregnancy.  In a strange way, the miscarriage helped me to get past the horrific guilt I carried in my heart, due to the termination.

Until my daughter's experience, I just never talked about it, and it became so normal for me not to say anything that I continued to not say anything.  Now, I am more comfortable with sharing.  The shame is gone.  I no longer feel judged, or pitied.  In my heart, I see those two precious souls, a brother and a sister, Tim and Victoria.  They are hanging out in Heaven with family members that have gone before me, waiting for the rest of the family to get there. I envision them at the play ground, on the swings, playing in the green grass, laughing, and running.  And when I get there, to hold them for the first time, they will laugh, and kiss my cheek and say "What took you so long?"

Embrace your past. The good. The bad. The ugly. These are the fires that refine us. These are the cutting tools that chip away the parts of us that are rough, and expose the faucets that make each of us a sparkling jewel in the Master's Crown!  By coming to grips with the experiences that have made us who we are, we are better able to help those around us to also deal with the shadows and skeletons in their lives. This in turn allows us to live fully, as we were intended to do!

Live Fully. Live Well!
Love Suzi~Q

Monday, October 18, 2010

Stuffed Pork Roast

 A co-worker told me about a stuffed pork tenderloin she made a couple of weeks ago, and I was totally inspired! I used to cook a lot when my kids were young, and when I have the time, I actually like cooking. 

I like the way it feels to provide yummy and nourishing food for the people that I love!

I love to work food with my bare hands, as I believe that is how the love gets in! 

I told the love of my life that I was going to make him a nice dinner on Saturday ... a stuffed pork roast! His reply ... "Yum! Apple Crisp goes really good with pork roast!"  LOL ... 

So I planned that menu item as well, just 'cause he's so darn cute!  He is a good sport, and lets me mess up his kitchen, and is a willing taste tester to my re-emergence into the cooking realm!

Eating well does not have to cost a lot of money!  I raised 3 children on $300, or less a month in groceries!  For this menu, I happen to have found pork roast on sale a the local grocery store for $1.69 per pound, so my roast cost about $5.

I used a box of instant stuffing mix, which is less than $2. I found asparagus on sale for $1.98 per pound. Ok, on a side note, I'm an asparagus snob, and if it is fatter than a pencil, it is no good to me, but I went out on a limb and decided for this project, that if the asparagus as was too fat for my regular taste, I could slice it lengthwise and make it work!! Which I did, and it worked quite nicely!

I froze the roast a couple of days before, and then the day of cooking set in on the counter to thaw a little. Slightly frozen meat is easier to cut.  I took a very sharp knife, and gently started cutting, as if I was slicing off a 1 inch thick slab, but I stopped about an inch from the bottom of the roast, and folded it open like a book.  Then, cutting from the "hinge" out, I cut another slab, almost off, and folded it open. I continued in this spiral sort of manner until the roast was a 1 inch thick piece of meat on the board. I massaged light seasonings on the raw meat: sage, pepper, garlic powder, and let it stand for about 10 minutes while I prepared the stuffing.

 I cooked up a box of instant stuffing mix and let it cool.  Now, a person could really have some fun here, and add minced onion, and celery, and mushrooms, but I did not this time.  I spread the stuffing out on the meat, pressing and patting it into place. Then I laid the asparagus stalks across the narrow width, and proceeded to roll it all up like a jelly roll, and tied it snuggly with cotton string.  I sprinkled the entire exterior with a little bit of lemon pepper, and wrapped the whole thing in foil, and set it in a baking dish. 

I baked it at 325 degrees for about 1 hour, then opened the foil, and turned the temp to 350 for another hour until it was cooked through, and gently golden on top.

Sliced, and served with grilled veggies, and homemade bread (that was very painful and not as successful as I was hoping, and another story to share in another post!). 

Followed later that evening with very yummy homemade apple crisp,which made up for the failed bread.

The way to a man's heart at times IS through his tummy!!  My very deserving man had a very happy tummy, and some wonderful left overs!

Give it a try, and tell me what you think!
Eat Well! Love well! Live Well!

Love SuziQue

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