Thursday, November 21, 2013


As I waited impatiently for my coffee, I heard "How's your day going, Ma'am?".  I snapped out of my daze and just laughed.  It was all I could do.

I know when someone asks that question they expect, and usually WANT to hear something as deep as "Good, you?".  But I just couldn't say it.  And as much as I hate to be Debbie Downer, when I got done chuckling, I answered his question.

"I've had better days", I said.   "I just got so aggravated with work that I had to get up and walk away.  So I'm here.  I have to go back, but it's nice to be out of there for a few minutes"

As he handed me my coffee, this young man said to me "Well for what it's worth, if nobody has told you today that they love you, I LOVE YOU.  From one human being to another.  I love you"

I said "Thank you.  I love you too".  And I smiled.  Given how my day was going up until that moment, just the smile was miracle enough.

I've thought about that encounter several times in the past couple of days.  Not only the sweetness of that young man, but also the fact that I DO have someone who says "I love you" to me every single day.

Each morning I open the basement door and yell down the steps to make sure The Boy is awake.



"I'm leaving.  You up?"


" you"

"Ok...I love you too"

Every.  Single.  Day.

It won't be long until the only reason I'll have to open the basement door is to grab the extra bag of dog food, visit the dreadmill or peek down there with one wary eye to make sure the sump pump is keeping up with the rain.  If I want to hear his voice I'll have to pick up the phone, and I know it won't be appreciated if I do it every single morning.  So for today, I'm counting my blessings.  I am very lucky.  And I am....

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Quinoa Chicken Stirfry

I know I promised you guys a potato soup recipe, but honestly it didn't turn out so great.  I need to tweak it before I'll want to put it up here.

But today I made some really good stuff.  I had a hideous day at work, and at one point I got so ticked off because a project wasn't going as I needed it to that I knew I was faced with three choices.  Throw something, start crying or walk away.  So I walked away.

Now before you go thinking I made the right choice, know that I walked straight across the street to Starbucks, where I got a skinny iced mocha and a peanut butter cup cookie.  Because the skinny cancels out the cookie right?

As it turns out, no.  Not right. Go figure.

So four hours later, at 7pm, when I was finally on my way home from work, I found myself wondering what I could make for dinner that would be quick and low calorie, but would be satisfying enough to hopefully keep me from entering "fuck it" mode and eating everything in sight.

Because eating everything in sight because you've blown your diet for the day is like running your cell phone over with your car because you dropped it.

Or some such shit.

Now if you know me, you know I'm not much of a cook.  And when I do cook I'm really not one for flying by the seat of my pants.  I run my kitchen like I run the rest of my life.  By the book. That way when it all goes kaflooey I can say "Well I just did what the book said".  See how that works? So I prefer if my food comes in a box that says how long to microwave it, but barring that I need a very specific recipe, with instructions that could be understood by a three year old.

So I can't really say what came over me that resulted in me throwing the following ingredients together.  Maybe the caffeine, sugar and artificial sweeteners in my afternoon snack messed with my head.  If so, I should thank the Barista, because it turned out pretty darn good.

Here's what you need:

3 cups Birds Eye Pepper Stir-Fry
3 oz Tyson Grilled & Ready Chicken Breast Chunks
1/2 cup Cooked Red Quinoa
1/8 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
Splash of soy sauce
Olive Oil Spray

Spray a frying pan with olive oil, throw the vegetables and chicken in together and saute on medium heat.  By the time the veggies are cooked the chicken will be heated through.  When nearly done add the spices, soy sauce and quinoa.  Stir together just until quinoa is heated.

Serves one.  And you will not want to share.

The links are to the brands/varieties of what I had in the house.  The red quinoa is pretty but white would work just as well.

Everything in this recipe is pretty much a staple in my kitchen.  Whenever I make quinoa I make WAY more than I need so I'll have some in the fridge for later.  And the peppers and chicken are just handy to keep in the freezer.

The nutritionals look like this:

I'll definitely make this again. Though I'm not sure what to call it.  Quinoa Chicken Stirfry?  Boring but accurate.  And really it's a miracle I managed to pull a decent meal out of after the day I've had.  You can't expect a clever name too.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Chicken & Somethings

As I said the other day, I've been hoarding recipes on Pinterest and never making any of them. I feel great shame. But since I'm not generally the best cook and I'm usually way too hungry by the time I get home from work to actually, yaknow, harness fire to make food edible, I'm starting out with slow-cooker recipes.

I've shied away from many slow-cooker recipes in the past because, even on a normal workday, It's a good ten hours between when I head out the door and when I roll back in the garage.  Most of the recipes call for far less time than that, even on low.  I've tried having it all ready and in the fridge, relying on The Boy to turn it on high when he gets home from school, but the damn kid went and grew up and got a job.  The ungrateful little.....

So I decided a trip to WalMart was in order.  Since I don't have any pajamas which I would consider ratty enough to wear there, I went straight from cleaning a dog kennel and playing with puppies, hoping a layer of dog hair, dirt and the slight aroma of dog poo would distract the natives from the fact that I was wearing a bra.

It worked.  I got out alive with this beauty:

This makes my third slow-cooker. I already have one this size and a smaller one, but neither of them is programmable.  This one not only has a timer but it also comes with a lid holder and free Spanish lessons.

 Olla De Coccion Lenta = Slow Cooker.  Thank you Farberware.

In case I'm ever in a foreign country and need to make sure they're aware how hot I am.

The user's manual is mostly in pictures and it wasn't until I actually got this thing installed that I figured out it's a lid holder.  Before that I thought maybe Farberware also made gynecological exam implements and there was an unfortunate mix-up at the factory.

Even Boo was a little scared.

Armed with my shiny new crock pot, I decided to make Chicken & Dumplings. I found a recipe on my go-to website for all things slow-cooker that won't make my ass grow, Skinny Ms

I did make a few changes, not always for the better, to Skinny Ms.' recipe, and it didn't come out exactly as I would have hoped, so I'm going to call this a whole new creation...let's call it

Chicken & Somethings.  

Here's what you need:

All this crap

Stew Ingredients:
    6 cups chicken broth.  Preferably low sodium & fat free but, yaknow, shit happens.
    3 boneless & skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
    1 medium onion peeled & diced
    2 cloves minced garlic
    7 oz baby carrots
    1 cup frozen green beans
    2 stalks celery, diced
    1/2 tsp black pepper
    Himilayan sea salt to taste (if you got the low-sodium broth, you'll make up for it here)
    2 bay leaves

Somethings Ingredients
    1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (learn from my fail, get WHITE whole wheat flour)
    2 tsp baking powder
    1 egg
    2 tbsp coconut oil
    3/4 cup skim milk

Stew Instructions:  The original recipe basically said to just throw it all in the crock pot, stir to combine, cook on low 5 hours.  Sounds like just my speed but I read here that you should never just throw your meat into the pot raw, which is why I specifically bought a slow cooker with a removable, stove-safe pot for browning meat.  Unfortunately, as I unpacked the pot, I realized I needed to run it on high with a few cups of water before using it for the first time.  So while it burned off all of the toxic stuff I ended up dirtying a frying pan to brown the chicken.  But I should say that the chicken turned out DEEEE-LICIOUS.  So knows their shit.

ANYway, after I browned the chicken lightly, just on the outside, still raw in the middle, THEN I put all of the "stew" ingredients together in the crock pot and put it on low for 5 hours.

Since it was a new crock pot and I have this irrational fear of electrical fires, I did this on a weekend when I could be home the whole time and oh my GOSH did it smell amazing!!!

After 5 hours, I turned the crock pot on high and brought the broth to a boil.  It took about a half hour to get to boiling.  While I was waiting, I mixed up the somethings.

Somethings Instructions
In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Mix 'em up good, heat up your coconut oil just enough to make it liquid (or use canola oil if you have it in the house) and cut it into the dry stuff with a fork.  Add the milk and mix with a fork just until consistently moist.

Once your broth is boiling, drop your somethings mixture by teaspoon-size lumps on to the top of the broth.  They'll float.  Don't try to mix it up or push it down. It pretty much took up the whole top layer of the crock pot, which I think was fine. It looked sort of like a biscuit crust.  Cook it on high for another hour, THEN mix it up to break up the dumplings right before serving.

It was apparently supposed to look something like this.

Aint it Purty?

But yeah, 

Not sure exactly what it is.....
.....but there's a crapton of it.

The flavor is VERY good.  But the "dumplings" were the consistency of your average, everyday wheat bread soaked in broth.  Not hideous, but not "dumpling-like".

Now it did call for white whole wheat flour, but I can't imagine that would make much difference in anything but the color.  The original recipe didn't call for egg but there were many comments on the website about the dumplings falling apart so they suggested adding egg.  But still....I think if I do this again I'll call it soup and leave out the somethings.  If I want dumplings I'll use my mom's dumpling recipe and just deal with it being higher calorie.

As-is, the nutritionals look like this:

This is WAY higher than the Skinny Ms nutritionals, I think because their version calls for something called "Chicken Breast Fillets".  I don't know what that is, but I'm guessing it's a fraction of the chicken I used.  And the plentiful, big chunks of chicken are not something I'd want to give up.

If I made it just as a soup it would only be about 175 calories per serving, but I would probably add noodles or maybe quinoa.  If I do that, bet your booty I'll post the recipe.  

Today's lunch...I'll probably pull one of these or maybe a serving of Vegetarian Slow Cooker Chili out of the freezer.  Either way it's good, filling stuff on a cool fall day. 

Next time: Slow Cooker Cream of Potato Soup