Monday, July 28, 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken Breasts

One thing I'm guilty of is tearing/clipping recipes and not making them. Then I go through the stack of recipes and throw out the ones that I read and think what was I thinking?

The other option is to start making recipes. That is what I'm doing this week. I went to the grocery and bought ingredients for four recipes.

Slow Cooker Chicken Breast appealed to me because of the slow cooker part. A working gal like me can get it going before going to work and then finish it when I get home.

The recipe:
1 25 ounce marinara pasta sauce - I used Newman's - all profits go to charity and it is good stuff.
5 chicken breasts - I cleaned and cut into small pieces.
1 pkg (10 ounces) frozen broccoli cuts - the recipe says to put the broccoli in the slow cooker. Wouldn't that turn the broccoli to mush? I used fresh and steamed it just before serving.
1 pkg (16 ounces) penne rigate
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
Basil to garnish

Place marinara sauce, chicken and broccoli in a slow cooker. Turn to low heat and cook 6 to 8 hours or until chicken reaches a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Before serving, boil pasta; drain and divide into 4 bowls. Remove chicken from slow cooker; shred with a fork and place over pasta. Top with remaining sauce and broccoli and a spoonful of ricotta cheese. Garnish with torn fresh basil Refrigerate leftovers. Makes 4 servings.

This dish is very filling. My chicken was fall-apart tender. I shredded with 2 forks on a plate - returning it to the crock pot. The chicken soaked up the sauce and I feel it either needs more sauce or, I believe I will add chunky Italian tomatoes to it - and mushrooms, basil and oregano. I always feel I can improve a recipe - but I like to make it first and see what it is like. As it is sometimes, it was difficult for me to make it as it was. Once it was on my plate I stirred it all together. The ricotta was good - even though I bought cheap low fat ricotta. This was an accident - I never eat low fat because your body doesn't process that stuff I had the good stuff - something Italian in my cart and it was almost $6.00 in a small container - the Kroger brand low fat stuff was something like $ 2.99.

Next time it will be better.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

No net

Today is a day I would call my mother if I could. This is the hardest part - not being able to pick up the phone and hear her voice.

For a lot of my life, my mother's mother was my safety net. She was the person I would call. I once dated a guy who was annoyed by my calls to my grandma. I knew that relationship wouldn't last long - and it didn't.

I called both my mother and grandma for advice. Sometimes I took it, sometimes I made my own decisions. But they were there for me to talk to.

After my divorce, I grew very close to my grandma. Grandpa had passed away and grandma said "we'll do this together." If I was lonely or sad or just needed to talk or to know she was there, I would call. I spoke with her several times a week.

After grandma died in December of 2006, I dreamt she called me - from heaven. (I don't recall if I've written about this before.)
Doug and I were at a party.
The butler came to me and said "madam, you have a telephone call."
Doug and I exchanged looks. Who could be calling me - at a location which was unknown to all? Why wouldn't anyone who knew me just call my cell?
The butler asked me to follow.
He led me to a dimly lit hall. To a table with one slender lamp which was lit. A drink - somewhat martini-ish looking, which had a green glow to it sat on the table. Somehow, I knew the drink was for me. A phone with many buttons sat on the table - one button lit with a green light flashed.
The butler said "push the button and you will be connected."
When I pushed the button I heard grandma's voice.
"Cheryl Kay?" (Grandma always called everyone she loved by their first and middle name.)
I was incredulous.  "Grandma???"
She laughed. "Yes, honey, it is me. I'm callin' you from heaven!"
I was blown away.
"Heaven? How is it?"
"oh, honey, it is about as wonderful as you can imagine. I don't even have the words to describe how wonderful it is here."
We chatted about this and that.
Then she asked "would you like to speak to grandpa?"
Grandpa? Would I!
Grandma said "he is right here, I'll put him on."
Then it was as if someone put the phone on a counter and I could hear sounds - something like what you would hear in a hospital or a nursing home. I stood with the phone to my ear and listened carefully.
Grandpa never picked up. I stood and listened for quite some time, reluctant to hang-up the phone and break the connection.
When I returned to Doug, he found my story hard to believe. I said "who knows I am here?"
We couldn't think of anyone. I shrugged and gave him a look.

When I woke from that dream, I felt so happy. I felt happy all day long, walking around with a big smile on my face.

Today, I have felt tired and sad. Today is a day I would call mother just to hear her voice. Just to hear the voice of someone I love and someone who loves me. Just to have that safety net.

Monday, April 28, 2014

What she wore

What she wore or Grandmas can be groovy, too.
 
It is spring and I survived winter!
 
I am in the process of dieting, so maybe this can be a before photo.
(More about my diet in a post to follow.)
Currently, I am working on re-losing the weight I gained while mother was ill.
 I joked while she was in Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis that I had about every flavor of smoothie Au Bon Pain makes, but it was almost the truth.
Don't you hate re-losing? I do.
I am a few pounds from being classified as overweight rather than obese.
Overweight just sounds better.
White jacket by Dressbarn.
Pink top by Coldwater Creek via the best of Goodwill, Vintage Vogue.
(Have you heard Coldwater Creek is going out of business?
I loved their store, but have to admit, I rarely bought anything from them.)
Heart necklace by Brighton.
Pink watch by Avon.
Jeans by Cato.
Sandals by Dansko.
 
Here is a shot from further back so you can see our big flowering tree.
I'm not certain - it may be a crab apple?
The blooms really look red but in this shot somehow it looks pinkish-purple.
Everything around is in bloom.
Thus the pink top - I wanted to be in bloom, too!
One of my gal pals refers to strawberry pink as my signature shade.
What is your signature shade?