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Recipes

The gift of an unconventional Holiday

I knew the day was coming, and tried to keep my voice cheery as I zipped his parka, handed off his Ninja Turtle backpack, and sent my 4-year-old off with his father.  Freshly divorced, and newly navigating the every-other-holiday thing, I kissed my boy good-bye and squeezed his mittened hand one more time.  He took his cues from me, and although bio-Dad was consistently inconsistent with visitation, and I had not yet met  (or even imagined) the man-who-would-be-Hubbs, I needed to keep my act together so my little guy would be OK.

Shutting the door, I stood in the darkened entry and watched them drive away, a wave of sadness fell over me. It felt like the wettest blanket on the coldest night.  It was a rainy, dreary Wednesday afternoon in western Connecticut.  My family was a million miles away in Canada and I’d been too busy surviving working to have made plans.  At least he would only be gone for the weekend, and knowing the other one, probably coming home early.   I looked around our sparse apartment, at my pull-out sofa in the living room, his bunk beds and toys in the bedroom.  My eyes landed on our small table with two chairs, at books and Play-Doh from earlier play.

Calling Mom, we chatted for a while and caught up on the goings on there.  I heard her attempts at a cheerful voice, knowing we were so far away, and that I was by myself tonight.  When she asked what I’d be doing for the Holiday, I sputtered out something about being invited to a friend’s apartment.  “Oh, that’s good, dear.  You should go, there’s no need to be by yourself, and, well, we’d feel better if you did.”  She was right, of course, but there was about a .001% of me that wanted to go out and meet new people.   I promised her I’d think about it.

Later that night my friend Dee called.  Practically begging,  she admitted her parents were coming, too, and “you know how my Dad can be.”  Yes, I’d met them both, they were European, on-again-off-again as a couple, the Mom, quiet and nervous, the Dad, critical and imposing.  I knew she needed a buffer and, quite frankly, I suddenly had a need to get out of that apartment.   We agreed I’d be there mid morning the next day.

Upon arrival, I learned she’d also invited the “strays” ~ anyone in her building who didn’t have a place to be or family to spend the Holiday with.  Wow!

We quickly set to work peeling potatoes, setting a card table & chairs at the end of the kitchen table, scrounging around for Fast Food napkins, extra plates, plastic cutlery, tablecloths and a couple of old candles.  She turned on the radio – with a countdown of sorts, a mixture of Motown and Classic Rock, fun.  The turkey simmered in the oven, and the aroma, unmistakable.

Next she announced we had turnips to prepare ~ her crusty Dad had a thing for buttered  turnips, except she had no clue how to peel the waxy layer off of  it and neither did I.  We managed to get a steak knife stuck embedded in that thing more than once.  Laughing, we developed a rhythm, but we were more like Lucy and Ethel than Fred and Ginger. I peeled carrots and steamed them with peas, poured off the turkey drippings to make gravy, and mashed the potatoes.  She stirred corn and cream and butter together, microwaved Stove-Top Stuffing.  We ran into each other more than once.  Yep, Lucy and Ethel.

Soon guests began arriving ~ old and young, a shy woman with a bright-eyed toddler and no mention of the father, a married couple from Venezuela, she with lovely accent, his hand on the small of her back.  My friend’s son and his girlfriend, her parents and me, and Ivan, the lanky maintenance man with a heavy Russian accent, a shy smile and two bottles of vodka.  Everyone streamed in, offering what they had, ~ buttery Seafood Paela, a cheesecake, Wine, chocolates, sausage, pickles and cheese. We sent her son to 7-11 for more plates and paper products while her Dad took a seat to carve the turkey.  Her Mom, a bit tipsy from the vodka, chatted animatedly with Ivan.  We all found a seat on uneven and mismatched chairs, making small talk, clanking glasses,and savoring the moment.  I was in and out, serving, and bringing more to share.

It was there, grabbing another bowl of something in my friend’s kitchen, when I remembered that I’d forgotten about being sad. About being far from home.  I felt a tug ~ a love of cooking I’d not experienced in years.  See, since the divorce, I’d been getting by on “functional cooking” —  cooking to live, cooking to check the box.  Day-to-day. No joy, no creativity.  This was different.  This effort, stirring the gravy and mashing turnips in a new-to-me kitchen – transported me to my mother’s kitchen.  To Holiday meals and Mom’s and my Grandmother’s tables so lovingly prepared one couldn’t feel anything but gratitude at being included.  To feelings of warmth and happiness and appreciation for everything – the love and the labor, the sweat and the tears, that went into it creating so much magic for all of us.  It was in that moment, on that unorthodox Holiday, when I felt my love of cooking re-ignite. It was there, tasting the turnips, that I gave thanks.

one end of my Grandmother’s Holiday Table, an Emjayandthem (C) picture

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Flash forward to now:  After a visit with our grand-daughter at school yesterday morning, my son and I enjoyed a brief lunch together.   He’s no longer that little tow-headed boy, he towers over me by a foot, and has a family of his own.  He helps them with their mittens and coats.  Full circle.

I told him the story of my unorthodox Thanksgiving holiday so long ago, and how I thought we would all be well served to experience a holiday like that.  I told him that getting through that helped me appreciate where I’m from, and the traditions we enjoy today.

He gently teased me about my “holiday marathons” ~ I pointed out that when I start cooking 2-3 days ahead of the holiday, it’s because I want to.

When I prep multiple appetizers and side dishes, meats and desserts, it’s because I have people to cook for.

And when I decorate the table well before anybody steps foot through the door, I channel all of them: my Mom, My Grandmother, and the other wonderful women of my childhood who did such things for me.

  • Did you ever spend a holiday in an unconventional way? What do you remember from the experience?
  • What traditions are you carrying forward?
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Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Determination, Faith, Family, Food, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Mom, music, News, Opinion, Personal, Recipes, Seasons, Thoughts, Traditions, Wisdom, Women, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Random 5 January Friday

It’s Friday! Time for 5 Random brand-new-year thoughts!

1) Our January weather has been weird.  -temps then + temps.   Blizzards then thunderstorms.  Lake effect snow then freezing rain then black ice then … warm weather and sunshine.  I think Mother Nature is in menopause!

amaze-myself

I can relate to Mother Nature!

2)  Nearly every ad on TV of late is about weight lossHow Marie lost 50lbs on Nuke-your-System!! Oprah and her cookbook and her love of bread! There’s even a new prescription out (can’t recall the name) that promises to accelerate weight loss – the disclaimer states that it “may cause seizures, greasy bowels, rapid heart rate and other side effects.”  Nice!   Who wants to be slimmer but with greasy bowels and seizures? Yikes!  I’ve been (largely) grain free since January 2016 and guess what – not only did I lose weight – I. Am. NEVER. Sick.  In 2014 I had bronchitis 5 times; 2015 – 3 times. 2016? None. Zip. Nada.  **As inflammation recedes the immune system can heal**.  Also-my skin healed, joints don’t ache any more and did I mention I am never sick – despite heavy travel, copious amounts of work stress, public interaction, and being around co-workers with colds & the flu. I’ve lost 20 lbs and 16″.   YES to no more Claritin, Mucinex, Tylenol Sinus, Neti Pot or inhaler needed!  You don’t have to spend a bunch of money eating fake food or chugging down pills – you really can heal from the inside out.  For more visit Cardiologist Dr. William Davis’ site, www.wheatbellyblog.com.

1 year Grain Free ~ An Emjayandthem (C) photo

1 year Grain Free ~ An Emjayandthem (C) photo

3)  Do you ever forget certain chores?  I forget to vacuum. I don’t dislike it, I just forget about it – oops.    What chore do you forget on a regular basis?

4) Saw this on FB and laughed out loud.  Snaccident.  I have never tried Nutella but I could hurt myself with Guacamole!

snackcident

5)   And with that … I’m off to get more coffee!  Happy Friday, peeps!

coffee star trek

 

What weight loss ad have you seen recently? Forget any chores of late? (Or on purpose? 🙂  )  Have you ever had a snaccident?

 

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Family, Food, Forgiveness, Growth, Life, Personal, Recipes, Self Discovery, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

5 for Friday ~ fudge, Christmas lists and hooligans

It’s Friday (whoo hoo!) and it’s random.  Here are 5 random happenings from my world this week:

1 Office potluck called for my first batch of fudge of the season — this one uses only 4 ingredients.  Ready?  a) 1 bag of chocolate chips (or peanut butter or butterscotch), b) 1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk, c) 1/2 bag of mini marshmallows (3 cups) and d) 1 1/2 cups of dry roasted peanuts (or walnuts).  Directions:  Melt chocolate chips and condensed milk in microwave – on high – for one minute. Stir.   Continue for 15 min 15 second intervals until fully melted (mine took 1 min + 15 sec).  Stir in marshmallows and peanuts and pour into well greased (9 x 13) pan. Pop into the fridge to set for 1 hour then cut.   Take to office or family gathering, stand back, and watch these babies disappear.

rocky road fudge

2 Bought my first Christmas present this week – for the monkeys.  They circled their “ideas” (translation = everything) last weekend.  From that came THE list.  The best part of this (free) exercise are their comments during the activity:  Littlest one asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I replied I just wanted all of us together: playing games, enjoying each others company, yummy food and having lots of fun. So she replied “so you just want us?” and I said “yep,  that’s what I really want.” Her reply, ” well put a bow on me, Nana, – here I am!” Kids!

grands and xmas list

an Emjayandthem (C) photo

3 Had my first touch of snow this week – last night – and more on the way today.  Last year at this time we had 30″ of the white stuff.  Not complaining … yet :).

www.mlive.com

it’s coming

4  You know those Hallmark holiday commercials with the cozy “normal” families? Yeah, that is so not us.  Here are our boys as we try to take a birthday picture at youngest kid’s birthday.   You can see why I don’t write Christmas newsletters … most of what they come up with is not fit for public consumption!  But I never laugh as hard as I do as when I am with them :D.

hooligans at bday

an Emjayandthem (C) photo

5 Heard a quote this week that bears repeating, “The only way any of us can grow to be older and wiser is if we’ve already been younger and stupider.”   Boy if that isn’t true!

owl1

The wise old own .. the big black crow .. flapping their wings singing go, birdie go …

What random happenings happened in your world this week?  Are your family shenanigans suitable for a Christmas letter?  Craving a little bite of fudge now?

** Thanks to my friend Diane H. who caught the 15 min error above – if you nuke your fudge for 15 min instead of seconds, your kitchen might be smoking! 🙂

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Family, Food, Friendship, Fun, Holidays, Home, Love, Opinion, Personal, Recipes, Seasons, Thoughts, Useful Information | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

R5F – October, Crock Pots, Coincidences and Songs

It’s Friday (whoo!) It’s random (whee!) It’s October! (yay!) Here are 5 randoms from this corner of the globe:

1 Hello October!  Next to September, this is my favorite month …. colors, smells, sights,  cool air, crisp nights, crock pot dinners, windows cracked, cozy blankies, time to cozy up and read … ahhh.

2 doors down & Taken on my cell phone. An Emjayandthem(C) Photo.

2 doors down & taken on my cell phone. An Emjayandthem(C) Photo.

2  Speaking of crock-pots, a friend just bought her very first one.  First. Crock Pot. A Midwest girl who never owned a crock-pot?  Guess you hear something new every day!  🙂 My newest favorite recipe is this one: salsa chicken.  Ready?  Dump 6 large frozen chicken breast in the crock pot, season with whatever you like (I use Mrs. Dash Onion {salt free} and a bit of fresh garlic) then pour a medium-sized jar of salsa (about 10 oz) of mild, spicy, whatever over the chicken.  Put the lid on, turn the crock pot on low, and leave for the day. That’s it.  6-8 hours later you’ll have tender, juicy and tasty chicken that is easily shredded for Tacos, wraps, poured over rice, topped on salads, etc.  Extra tip? When fully cooked and shredded, stir in 2 tbsp of cream cheese for creamy chicken goodness.  Yumm-o!

salsa chicken over rice

3  Earlier this week, one of Mom’s cousins (whom I’ve never met) sent me a friend request on Facebook.   She grew up in British Columbia, Canada, but lives at the Easter shore of Virginia.  When I looked up where she lived, I could see that she’s pretty close to my Virginia friend  Dianna – whom I met through this blog.  Sometimes the world just isn’t that big is it? 🙂

Believe_In_Coincidence_by_reds2005

4  Tomorrow I’m going to visit a friend who recently had surgery; she had been told one thing about the recovery time then found out the healing time will be much, much longer.  I remember the same happening when I had foot surgery- and that feeling of being “stuck” inside.   I know she’s a reader and we both love coffee – so I have huge bags of magazines and books, coffee and chocolates and more – because when you’re laid up and bored, sometimes the very best therapy is coffee with a girlfriend and a healthy dose of chocolate!

a glimpse of heaven

5   Leaving work closer to 7 than 5 the other night, I reflected on the day, the pace, the craziness that is my work life right now.  I still love what I do, but I’m just as happy to get in the car and crank up the tunes – this one came on and it’s funny how, two days later, I’m still singing a song …. You?

 

What do you love about October?  Are you a crock-pot user?  What’s your “go-to” fall recipe?   What plans do you have this weekend? Any visits in your future?

 

 

 

 

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Faith, Family, Friendship, Fun, Home, Joy, Life, music, Personal, Random, Recipes, Share, Thoughts, Women, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Two for Tuesday

Care to play along?  On Tuesdays, pick a topic and segue into it!

Care to play along? On Tuesdays, pick a topic and segue into it!

It’s Tuesday – 2 days in to a 4 day week – whoop!

1. Today’s the last day of March and I’m glad.  Why?  We’ve had 4 seasons in 2 days.  Mild Saturday. Snow Sunday. 50 and breezy yesterday. Today? Who knows?  Maybe April won’t be quite so finicky!

4 seasons of weather

2.  Stopped last night to get a few “treats” for the wee ones this weekend.  We have an Easter gathering planned  – an early brunch on Saturday. You see, when oldest boy & his wife divorced, Easter Sunday became yet another battleground with the other side.  I – for one – was not going to be territorial about it and there was no backing down from them, the uber-Christians.  I know, ironic, isn’t it?   I get it – to a point – the kids should have that time with their cousins, we’re all about that.  But there’s never been any g-i-v-e this way.  So,  about three years ago I announced we’d have our celebration on Easter Saturday.  Period.  I’m fine with it – it’s relaxed and fun and beats a “drive-by” visit any day of the week.  Grandpa will join us and we’ll have four generations in my kitchen enjoying some of  my “company French toast”, eggs to-order, bacon, ham, sausage, home-made hash browns, fruit, coffee, juice, etc.   Oh, and a “magic” pumpkin spice cake for Gramps, his favorite. Yes, there’ll be way too much. Yes, he’ll take 2/3 of the cake home (shh, that’s the point) and yes, the littles will probably overdose on candy.  They won’t be far behind us :).

Already there! Google.images.com

Already there! Google.images.com

Are you planning an Easter gathering?  In what ways have your traditions had to adapt over time?

Easter is the demonstration of God that life is essentially spiritual and timeless.  ~Charles M. Crowe

Categories: Faith, Family, Fun, Gratitude, Holidays, Home, Humor, Life, Personal, Recipes, Seasons, Self Discovery, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Sundays and Spring Forwarding

It’s Sunday, sunny and bright.

Did you Spring forward?

We did, last night.

~sigh~   Image from Newsday.com

Crap, anyways. Image from Newsday.com

It’s Sunday, time to cook and clean.

Laundry’s done, groceries are ready,  my guys have spoken, they want chicken spaghetti.

That plus some Poor Man’s and they’ll be all set, and I’ll settle in for my long winter’s nap …nothing.   Gargh!

daylight-saving-spring-forward-recover-confession-ecards-someecards

Here’s a picture from our birthday celebration yesterday: Oldest boy and his cubs.  Our Grandson is affectionately known as “The Rooster” – his internal clock can rival any alert system ever created.  Little lady is known as “The Governor” for her effective negotiating skills.  Good times and much ❤ yesterday.

Boo and the cubs.  An Emjayandthem(C) photo

Boo and the cubs. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

So tell me, does Daylight Savings time kick your butt, too?   How do you spend your Sundays?

 

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Growth, Home, Humor, Random, Rants, Recipes, Seasons | Tags: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Christmas memories ~ Butter Crunch Toffee

Thumbing through recipes last week, I found a tried-and-true candy recipe I’ve carried with me for at least 25 years.  Shared by my first CT neighbor, Debbie, this is one of those candies that tastes like it came from a gourmet shop.  Except it’s not.

Image from Redbook.com

Image from Redbook.com

I met Debbie when I moved us to our teeny apartment on the second floor of a family home in an older, established neighborhood.  It was just my boy and me so we didn’t need much – in fact – we shared a bedroom.  A few doors down was their house – Debbie and Rick’s.  At the time, they had two large dogs in place of the kids that never arrived.  Rick looked like Santa Claus and could fix anything except their relationship.  Debbie, short and stocky, was a good friend and an avid reader — we shared books and she talked regularly of their struggles with infertility. Sometimes she cried about it, especially when holding my curly-haired giggling son.    Sadly, their marriage didn’t last and one day the house was sold – both moved on and we lost track of each other.  So when I read through my notes on how to make this candy, what comes to mind is kindness, big dogs, and unfulfilled dreams.

** Debbie’s Butter Crunch Toffee **

  • 1 1/2 cups slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup crushed almonds for topping
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter, no exceptions
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1/4 lb melted semi-sweet chocolate
  • Candy Thermometer
  • ** Makes 2 lbs

Directions:

  1. In a heavy saucepan cook the butter, sugar and water on medium-high heat.
  2. Cooking rapidly and stirring constantly this will gradually become thicker and caramel in color ~ cook steadily for about 10 minutes or until the mixture reaches the “hard crack” candy stage (300F).
  3. Stir slivered almonds into the caramel and pour onto the cookie sheet.
  4. Melt chocolate and spread over caramel.
  5. Note – (I usually melt the chocolate in double boiler – a small sauce pan sitting inside another saucepan of water set to medium hot — it will melt but not burn that way.  You can also microwave it).
  6. Before the chocolate topping hardens dust the entire mixture with finely crushed almonds.
  7. Let cool then break into pieces.
  8. Store in a covered container. Freezes well.

Tips:

I live in the Great Lakes State and it is often too humid to make this — so don’t even attempt it on a humid day b/c you will have a dickens of a time getting the toffee to “set.”  I will make this when the temps drop again and it’s frigid and windy outside.    It’s also a perfect make-at-the-last-minute-bring-to-a-party-treat.   Thanks, Debbie.

What favorite recipe came to you in an unconventional way? Who comes to mind when you make it?

 

 

Categories: Animals, Friendship, Holidays, Joy, Personal, Recipes, Relationships, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

R5F … and corn

It’s Friday! It’s Random! Time for five random thoughts.

Random Five Friday pic

1. 48 shopping days left till Christmas.  I know, I thought the same thing: why rush it? First of all, Thanksgiving is next.  We’ll gather together and enjoy my favorite meal.  There’s no gifting stresses and no mess to clean up.  And – everything tastes even better the next day.  I’ll have pie with my coffee, read blogs and shop online, and avoid the madness that is Black Friday. 

2. Switching the radio from a steady stream of political ads last week, I stumbled upon Christmas music.  On two stations!  Sorry Frosty, not yet.

Hold the tunes, pls.

Hold the tunes, pls.

3.  I love corn. Corn-on-the-cob, kernel corn with butter and black pepper, creamed corn and of course, popcorn.  I love corn.  For the most decadent creamed-corn recipe possible, head on over to Leah’s place.  It’s been part of our holiday meals since 2011 :).

4.   The local radio station asked listeners to share their quirks.  Example:  the DJ said he always puts on his to-go coffee cup lid so it’s pointed away from the seam.  All I could think was, “Doesn’t everyone?”   I do have a coffee quirk, though. After I pour it, I microwave it for 30 seconds.  I like my coffee hot.  Not burn your thigh off hot, just hot.  Yep, I might be quirky, too.

google.images.com

google.images.com

5. Saw this and laughed out loud. Pretty sure you will, too.  Have a great day, friends:

Hubbs changed a light bulb this week. He's my hero! :)  google.images.com

Hubbs changed a light bulb without even being asked. He’s my hero! 🙂 google.images.com

And how was your week?  What are some of your quirks?  Do you love corn, too?

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Elections, Family, Food, Fun, Holidays, Humor, Joy, Opinion, Personal, Politics, Random, Recipes, Relationships, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Random Pulaski Friday!

It’s Random! It’s Friday! Here are 5 random Friday thoughts ~

1. In addition to today being smack-dab in the middle of a 19 day event known as Art-Prize (an urban, open art festival /contest where what the people think matters most) today marks the start of “Pulaski Days!Celebrating Polish heritage, this is a weekend-long event of kielbasa, pierogies, holubchi (cabbage rolls), beer and of course, lots and lots of Polkas.  Tonight we’ll meet up with friends at one of the Polish halls and eat, laugh and, of course, get our Polka on! I’ll check out the “art” next week – or not.

2. Took a road trip to points north Wednesday.  My meeting started early afternoon so I had time to meet my Father-in-Law for lunch first. Arriving at a restaurant filled with Seniors,  I spotted him at a table about as far from the door as you could sit.  It was the seat you take when you don’t mind everyone knowing you have yourself a lunch date.   It’s also the kind of place where people like to linger because the food is good, the wait staff is friendly and nearly everyone gets called “Honey” or “Sweetie,'” at least once. We enjoyed a tasty meal and meandering conversations and I couldn’t help but think of her, my late Mother-in-Law, and how much she’d have loved that moment.

3.  On Facebook, have you ever noticed that friends & family share recipes of really yummy/naughty foods …  at night?  Sometimes my morning FB feed is filled up with cheese bread, caramel cake and pie recipes.  Right after the posts on workouts.  Hmmm.

4.  Speaking of workouts, I think I own most of them. I get bored easily. There was a time I was running, but then my knees started hurting.  Then came yoga, which I still like, but have never mastered.  Walking bores me and Zumba … well that’s just an epic fail. The only program I’ve stuck with is this one:  Kettleworx.  I found it in the clearance rack (that could have been a sign …) and gave it a go.  I started with the smallest weight and worked up.  The instructor is corny and the editing isn’t great, but it’s a 20 minute weights workout with a slow-enough pace that I can actually .. f-o-l-l-o-w along.  And you know what? It’s working.  I am stronger – noticeably so – and my clothes are looser.   Hmmm.

5. And finally, I have made no secret of the fact that I’m a list maker.  Always have a list. Yes I never find money in a winter coat pocket .. I find a list.   And this little saying here hits way too close to home.You?

oh yeah!

oh yeah!

How about you?  Have you ever danced a Polka? What’s your favorite? (Mine is “Idon’twantheryoucanhavehershestoofatforme)  Any cool doings in your town this weekend? Are you a late night recipe poster? What’s your workout of choice?  And lastly … can you remember a phone number without writing it down? 🙂

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Food, Fun, Humor, Joy, music, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Super Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Well, we had a blast of sticky hot days with monsoon-like rain and now we’re headed to  Labor Day with cooler temps ahead ~ just in time for the office pot-luck today!

With the a/c roaring at the office, something warm and spicy sounded good to me so this is what I’m bringing.

If you’re a fan of southwestern flavor, of chicken and of soup, then this is a recipe for you. It’s super easy to make and only requires chicken + the following 7 ingredients.

Ready?

only 8 ingredients! These 7 + Chicken - that's it!

only 8 ingredients! These 7 + Chicken – that’s it!

The ingredients are shown above but here’s the list for easy shopping:

  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 (15.25 oz.) can sweet corn, drained
  • 1 (10.75 oz.) can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 (10 oz.) can green enchilada sauce
  • 2 cups or 1 (14 oz.) can chicken broth
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 2 cups shredded chicken (I used rotisserie chicken but you could use canned.)

*if you are watching your sodium this may not be for you

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large sauce pot on the stove or crock-pot (slow cooker).
  2. Heat until warm, stirring occasionally.
  3. On the stove this will be ready to serve in ~15 minutes; in a crock-pot you should allow 1 hour.   (I prep in my office, plug it in, and share an hour later – happy times!)
  4. Serve with your favorite toppings:  strips of soft tortillas,  shredded cheese, sour cream, cheese, tortilla chips, onions etc.
Chicken Taco Soup -- yummy!  And Emjayandthem (C) photo

Chicken Tortilla Soup — yummy! An Emjayandthem (C) photo

Like chili, this soup is even better the next day and it’s perfect for college football which starts  … this weekend :).

Happy cooking!

Categories: Blogging, Family, Food, Home, Joy, News, Personal, Recipes, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Plans, reality and vitamins

So … on Friday I wrote about how I was looking forward to Hubbs coming home on Saturday morning.  Well, let’s just say that things didn’t go exactly as planned.

the best laid plans ... google.images

the best laid plans … google.images

His saga started when the taxi didn’t show up at the hotel … at 4:30 a.m.  A last minute ride got them to the airport in time for the 7:00 a.m. flight to Atlanta.  Where he soon found most flights to MI — xlld.

To put it mildly, he was “fit to be tied.”  The travel agency … useless.  The airline … nonchalant.

Surrounded by other stranded and road-weary passengers, he did the only thing he could think of …he quietly approached a gate agent and stayed calm.  Eventually, the agent found Hubbs a flight to Detroit with a possible connection to Grand Rapids. But no guarantees and no promises.

He fell asleep before take-off and found himself landing in Winter Storm Maximus (and when did we start naming storms, anyways?)

he landed in the pink

he landed in the pink

Not to be deterred, he grabbed a rental car with the warning that road conditions were extremely dicey, with many cars in the ditch… and made the 3 hour drive in 6.   He’s pretty sure his finger nails are still in the steering wheel of that Chrysler.

Returning the car, he retrieved his SUV and pulled into our garage around 9:00 p.m., 10 hours past his expected arrival time.  He looked dreadful, was shaking cold, pale, hungry and stressed.  But, he was home.

A few servings of Poor Man’s Chop Suey, a shower, a chat and .. off to bed.

Today, the ole boy has a skip in his step. It’s Super Bowl Sunday and friends are joining us later to watch the game.  We’ll enjoy wings and snacks, subs and soup and Game Day brownies.

We both took tomorrow off so today really feels like a Saturday.  A Saturday with a warm house, a happy wife, a contented hubby and gratitude.  Lots of gratitude.

google images

google images

What are you thankful for today?

Categories: Determination, Family, fear, Gratitude, Home, Joy, Men, Personal, Recipes, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

5 days

Till Christmas! And today, I gave myself an early Christmas present …a day off.

No driving, no sliding, no conferencing, no filing.

Whee!

As it turned out, schools in West MI closed today, 1″ of ice on the roads tends to slow everything – and everyone – down.

Kids are gleeful, as winter break comes early 🙂  How I remember those days!

So .. I spent the morning baking and cooking and putting together a few care packages.  One for my Father-in-Law, whom we’ll see tomorrow, a few more for friends, and the rest .. the rest for my crew here at home.

Here’s one of Hubbs’ favorites, chocolate covered peanut clusters:

"I could quit smoking before I could quit eating these" - Mr Hubbs

“I could quit smoking before I could quit eating these” – Mr Hubbs

Want to make some? Want to dazzle your cast & crew, too?

Here’s what you need: candiquick

  • 1 jar (16oz) of dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 package of “Candiquick” chocolate coating (see pic at right)
  • waxed or parchment paper

Directions:

Spread several sheets of waxed paper  on your kitchen counter (not on a wood table, as these will be hot at first).

Melt chocolate according to directions on package; ~ 1 min on high, stir, melt another 15 seconds or so then pour in peanuts and stir to coat.

Drop tablespoons of the chocolate-peanutty goodness onto the paper and allow to cool — about 1 1/2 hours.

Break into smaller pieces (or not) and cover — these can be frozen, they travel great (if they break apart, who cares?) and are a hit everywhere I take them! I store them in zip-lock bags in the freezer, hidden away from Hubbs.

What Christmas treats are you making this year? Have you treated yourself to something special, like a day off? 🙂

Categories: Blogging, Family, Home, Joy, Life, Men, Recipes, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 22 Comments

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