Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Chicken Paprikash

Thirty Minute Meals has nothing on me and my chicken!!  So easy and so good -- and quick!

I used a boneless, skinless chicken breast, but you can use bone-in chicken in any variety (just takes longer to cook).  Chopped the chicken into bite-sized pieces for quick cooking.

Here's out it goes:
Melt a tablespoon or two of butter in a skillet.  Saute a chopped shallot until soft and translucent.  Add the chicken and brown just a little (these small pieces are going to cook quickly so you don't want to overcook them!).  Add about a cup of chicken broth (I keep those ready-made cartons available in case I don't have time to make it from scratch), a splash of white wine and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of good Hungarian Paprika -- I love to use half sweet/half hot with that nice smokey taste!  Simmer another five minutes until the sauce thickens a little bit.  Remove the chicken from the pot and whisk in a heaping teaspoon of flour (you can take the flour and whisk it with a bit of the liquid before putting it back into the pot to make sure it's smooth).  Cook until the sauce is thick and just barely bubbling.  Stir in 1/3-1/2 cup of sour cream, return the chicken to the pot, cook your noodles, and serve!!

An Up and Down Week

We are just about recovered from our trip north to Massachusetts last week -- what a trip!!  Once again the I-95 route was bumper to bumper and most unpleasant travel.  We left on Sunday and planned to be back home on Wednesday.  Nope.  Didn't happen!  On Monday we started working on the apartment we were cleaning out.  About all we managed to do was hug the grandbabies, empty the car of boxes and totes and do a little bit of sorting.  Then we were exhausted so headed back to the hotel.

Tuesday morning we headed to Wells River, Vermont, to pick up our puppy!! Meet "Midge" ... all two pounds of badness!!  Definitely stole our hearts from the minute we saw her!  While visiting with Mary, I got to see a demo of Intelliquilter which was installed on her longarm.  Oh my!!!  If I'm really good and make a lot of money quilting, this is my next toy!!  Awesome!  We then drove to Barre, Vermont, and had lunch with our good friend Cathy and her lovely Mom.  Then back to Massachusetts to the hotel.

Wednesday we spent the entire day packing and sorting and tossing and at the end of the long day, we were finished!!  Woohoooo!!  Car packed and back for some well deserved rest.  Midge was totally great during all this!!

Thursday morning we left early to drive to Boston to see our attorney and to look at the house that we want to sell.  One of the apartments was vacated last fall and we also needed to see what repairs needed to be made before we could get it ready to sell or rent.  None of this was fun, that's for sure!  We headed south late in the day, and were grateful that crossing the GW Bridge in New York was, for a change, a  piece of cake!  After another day of terrible traffic, we made it home late Friday evening,  WHEW!!

The good part was arriving home!  The better part was that Midge is a FANTASTIC passenger.  And the BEST part was that I had a weekend sewathon waiting for me!  I needed the laughs that only quilters can provide!  Midge made her debut and was cuddled and petted to her little heart's content!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Is it Spring?

If the daffodils are blooming, then it must be Spring!  I love their bright sunny faces!  Now I'm itching to plant a flat of pansies and get the spinach seeds in the garden!  Love gardening season!

Still working on what to grow in the garden this year.  Definitely want cutting flowers as I love having vases full in the house.  And an herb garden as I have found that I am gravitating more and more to fresh herbs.  What are you growing in your garden this year?

Fun with Glass

Yesterday I went off with friends to a local stained glass shop for a jewelry making class,  Well, not really the jewelry, but the jewels!  It was so interesting!  We worked with dichroic glass (couldn't even say it until about 5 hours of practice!!) putting bits and pieces together into some envisioned work of art then waiting for four hours while it baked into these beauties.  They are so much prettier than when I put them together!

Wikpedia explained how this glass is made in a way that I understood (vaguely) -- Multiple ultra-thin layers of different metals (gold, silver), metal oxides (titanium, chromium, aluminium, zirconium, magnesium) and silica are vaporised by an electron beam in a vacuum chamber. The vapour then condenses on the surface of the glass in the form of a crystal structure. This is sometimes followed by a protective layer of quartz crystal The finished glass can have as many as 30 to 50 layers of these materials yet the thickness of the total coating is approximately 30 to 35 millionths of an inch (about 760 to 890 nm). The coating that is created is very similar to a gemstone and, by careful control of thickness, different colours are obtained. 

However it is made, it was interesting to work with.  Start with a base piece of glass.  Add some bits and pieces of colors and shapes that you like, sprinkle on some fairy dust, and top with another piece of clear glass.  Bake at intense heat (kiln required) and watch it morph into something really beautiful!  I'm going to add bails to these -- or maybe pin backs -- and turn them into gifts!  I'd love to try making some teeny ones for earrings sometime!

The Power of a Book ... or The Vagaries if the Mind

I started reading a book the other night and was surprised by the "icky" feelings that began whirling around in my head.  Put the book down and thought I'd go back to it the next day.  But when I started reading it again, even though I was enjoying the story, I had those same negative feelings rising up.  Eventually I put the book down and decided not to finish it.

In itself, it was a good story ... a woman commits suicide, but her friends are convinced that it wasn't any voluntary suicide -- something had to have happened in a very short space of time to drive the victim to her own demise.  What bothered me really about this story was that the focus was on overweight women -- the victim, the friends, even the perpetrator!  This group of women had come together to find support for one another as plus-sized women who seemed to be encouraging each other in their plus-sized lifestyle. For example, meeting up in the grocery store, one friend had a "bad" date the night before, and the friend added a cheesecake to the already high fat/carb basket, essentially saying "more food will cure this".

As a current overweight woman, working hard and taking drastic measures (my recent surgery) to get out of the plus range, this idea of encouraging friends to fatness just really sat wrong with me.  But then the lil negative imp that sits on my shoulder started asking me why I was so intent to stop being fat and eating better and having a healthier lifestyle.  I spent a few days dwelling on these thoughts, thinking about how my own prejudice  might affect others.  Or even why I couldn't accept myself as a fat woman.  This thought really sent me into a tailspin as I reflected on my lifetime hearing my father's voice warning me that I'd get fat, or hearing aunts worrying about their children and focused on their weight.  All in all it was a depressing week of fretting about my weight.

But today I'm sitting in the sunshine on a lovely spring day and I know that whatever has driven me to work towards returning to my former thinner self, it is right thing to do.  I feel better, physically and mentally.  I know that I have a long way to go, but I'm also confident that I will get there.  If my reasons include not wanting to be fat, that's ok, too!  I want to feel good about myself, not join a support group for people who want to stay fat ... they can make that choice, too.  I don't think about or care about other's weight -- I only know what makes me feel better about me ... and losing weight is making me feel GREAT.  It's a personal journey, not a judgment or reflection on others.

But I don't think I'll ever read that book again!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

American Idol Fan?

I was happy to see that tonight these top 12 stepped up their game and presented some decent performances!  Compared to last season I've been downright disappointed, but then there is only one Adam Lambert, isn't there?

My faves this season are Big Mike, Crystal Bowersox (although she didn't really wow me tonight), Siobhan with the GREAT voice, and Lee always makes me smile.  Can't wait for the votes to come in tomorrow, but I sure enjoyed the show tonight.

Getting lots if applique done, too!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Two Months Post Surgery

Yesterday was my two month anniversary of my internal rearrangement and babeeeee! I'm feeling good!  I'll post a picture soon as I get the laptop ready to work with my camera (see my previous post about incompetent individuals), but I gotta tell ya -- my ankles are looking pretty slim these days!! lol!!

The scale tells me that I'm 39.5 pounds lighter than when I started this ... and medical signs are good!  Had one food "incident" that made me get checked out at the hospital, but it turned out to be nothing but a bad choice on my part.  WHEW!!

In celebration, here's my snack this week -- but be careful!  If your family finds out how wonderful this is, you'll never be able to hide it!

Nuts to Live For!

2-3 cups mixed unsalted nuts -- I use 2 cups mixed and add a full cup of almonds cuz they are so good for me!
Toast the nuts for about 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees until lightly browned and smelling real nutty.

In the meantime, mix together 2 T fresh chopped rosemary, 1/2 t cayenne pepper (more or less to taste), 1 T brown sugar, 1 T coarse salt.

When the nuts come out of the oven, toss them with a couple of tablespoons melted unsalted butter.  Then, while tossing, add the spice mixture and toss to cover the nuts.

Hide bowl from hubby and kids.


If you didn't know, I spent 30 years as a technogeekette in my other world.  Ten days ago we took one of our computers to the doc cuz it was running really slow.  Despite paying for "priority service" it was 5 days before I got the computer back, only to discover that they had completely wiped out all my data and all my programs.  There was NOTHING left on my computer!!  They tried to give me some malarky about how these things could happen -- didn't buy their game.  They agreed to restore from their server.

Got a call last night -- another week has passed -- that they couldn't restore because the inexperienced tech that handled my system failed to store my date.  HE JUST DELETED IT!!  Am I livid??!!  You betcha!!  Now I've contacted our lawyer AND a data recovery company in Arizona.

I'm totally bent out of shape -- so much so that I couldn't even go in there today and get my system.  Have to calm down, first!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Joy in the Morning

Following my usual routine this morning, I logged on to Facebook and staring me in the face was the cutest puppy EVER ... and she's mine!  Can't wait to pick her up in about 10 days!  Still haven't named her, but right now she is joy to me!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

My Challenge This Week

Realizing that I'm not having a lot of success with food these days, I picked up my "how to" books for some tips on managing meals.  While keeping track of what I eat isn't a problem, I'm so easily bored with cooking the same things -- and I really hate leftovers!  So, my challenge for the week is to do some menu planning for the week,   trying to plan meals that are small enough to feed the two of us, but offer some variety and use some of the same ingredients so I don't end up with a ton of veggies and meat hanging around waiting for my next inspiration!

Trying to get in 90 grams of protein, while sticking to three meals and two snacks is really hard!!  Not to mention that I have this enormous sweet tooth that needs a fix!!  There are some great ice creams over on the world according to eggface, my favorite small-stomach resource, but I haven't invested in an ice cream maker yet.  In the meantime, I do really well with sugar free Popsicles and sugar free puddings.  But back to my meals.

Yesterday one of my quilter friends was talking about a new soup recipe that sounded fantastic.  Now, I'm not really a soup eater, but I thought I could turn the soup into a meal, so that's what's for dinner tonight.

Here's my Mexican Soup ... Hold the Soup Recipe
Can of Black Beans
Can of corn (I am using some frozen that I put up ... you need about a cup)
Can of Rotele spicy tomatoes
1 cup cooked shredded chicken
red onion chopped
garlic chopped
salt and pepper and cilantro if desired
sour cream to top it
shredded Mexican style cheese for topping

Saute the onion and garlic until soft.  Add spices.  Add the chicken and heat through, Stir in beans, corn and tomatoes and heat through.  Serve with or without flour tortilla.  Top with shredded cheese and sour cream.

Well, that's one meal planned ... leftovers for lunch tomorrow!  Now off to plan the rest of the week!