Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Howl-o-ween!

 Crazy things growing in the garden - 

Crimini, that's a big 'shroom

Nobody will mistake this cauliflower for mashed potatoes - no wait there are purple potatoes now too - maybe they might.  No, wait, how could ANYBODY mistake mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes???  Pinterest fail...

Sweet gum leaves in the fall are my favorite - I could take a picture of each one that comes off the tree.

 Kansas City could have used this bat sized zucchini tonight.  9-3 - how sad.  Hopefully they'll pick up the pace tomorrow. 

Look at this sweet little Meowlaweenie kitty I found out in the garden. 

My friend Misti has been helping me with some cleaning - so far we've attacked (I say "we" in the royal sense, ha ha) the dining room, the kitchen and today, the "music corner" in the living room. 

I'd like to have her help me with my wool room, but I don't think she understands the concept of "stash" - so that might have to wait. 

Have a great Howl-o-ween and don't eat too much candy! 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Life, Miracles and Chicken Soup

Some of my faithful readers may remember a couple of years ago when I had a "little heart issue" that landed me in the hospital.  Well, last month, I discovered, it was back.  This time, I knew what was happening and after it hadn't stopped after a couple of weeks, I ended up going into my cardiologist office on 9/28, (to eliminate the panic that had ensued from my GP's office in 2013) -  Pulse rate - 130 beats per minute. 

They kindly confirmed what I had suspected, and changed some of my meds, that didn't work after a couple of days, so they had me come in and meet with a Nurse Practitioner.  Very nice lady who happened to take a copy of my EKG out to talk to one of the docs in the office when the Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiologist  Dr. happened by, and just in a moment of grace, saw my EKG and said, "Well, I can fix that" - A cure - who knew? 

That started me on the path to a Cardiac Ablation that was performed on Monday Oct. 12.  The pretty flowers above - they are from my sisters - to wish me well after this very successful procedure.  I have to tell you that from the time I walked into the Surgery Center at 7:30 a.m. on that Monday until the time I walked out the door at about 4:30 p.m. (*pulse rate 63 beats per minute) I felt loved and cared for.  It was really an amazing day and, quite frankly, miraculous.  (And,  I was able to be back at work on Wednesday afternoon to be at a dinner meeting that I had been working on for 6 weeks).

I feel much better now, and hopefully this will be the end of that issue. Oh, and the kitties - they stuck to me like glue for about three days after I got home.  I think they took their nursing skills very seriously!  And many thanks to all of you out there who included me (and my doctor & his team) in your prayers last week.  I'm sure it made a difference! 

One Pot Chicken & Vegetable Stew
So, what you always need when you're feeling down, is Chicken Soup, right?  I put this recipe together about a month ago - I was in an "email club for Chicken recipes" from Pillsbury.  Most of the recipes looked pretty good, but used a lot of pre-made items and mixes - and I mostly cook from scratch.  So when I saw a recipe for a "one pot chicken & vegetable skillet" - I thought - maybe I can improve on that - we still had LOTS of zucchini and I had some other vegies in the fridge that I could chop up - and ta-da "Chicken Stew" was perfected.

 Last year for Christmas I got myself a Williams-Sonoma 7 qt. Non Stick Dutch Oven.  I had (ahem) "destroyed" my big soup kettle by draining all the water out of my green beans, but unfortunately putting the pan back on the burner with the burner still on.  Ahem - really toasted that pan.  So I'd been on the lookout for a new 7 or 8 qt. pan, and boy, let me tell you, this is a nice one.  You can see more about it HERE

This pan is perfect to cook soups or stews or a "fricassee" - It also is great to steam ears of corn, cook a nice pork loin roast (because you can brown it and then tuck it in the oven and let it finish cooking).  I use it a lot. And without further chatting, here is my recipe 

One-Pot Chicken and Vegetable Stew
This recipe is based on a Pillsbury 30 days of Chicken & Vegetable Skillet recipe.  I like using fresh vegies instead of frozen. 
2   tablespoons olive oil
2   boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1   medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp Tastefully Simple "Garlic Garlic" granules
2   cans (14 oz) Hunts Fire Roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1   Russet potato, diced
2   medium zucchinis - diced
1/2 head of cabbage roughly chopped
1 14 oz can of chicken stock
Salt, pepper, Seasoning Salt, Mrs. Dash original seasoning, any other herbs or spices you might like, to taste
  1. In a non-stick Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken; cook, turning occasionally, until chicken is browned on all sides. Remove from skillet to plate.
  2. To same pan, add remaining tablespoon olive oil and the onion; cook over low heat until onion is softened and golden.  Add the Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic granules and any other spices or herbs you might like.  (you could use fresh garlic here - I just prefer the taste of the Tastefully Simple product)
  3. Add potatoes, zucchini & cabbage.  (I have also added chopped carrots here)  Add canned tomatoes to pot; cook 5-10 minutes longer. Add the chicken stock.  Cover and cook until vegetables are tender crisp, stirring as  little as possible so you don't mush up your vegies.
  4. Return chicken to pan; if desired, season with salt and pepper. Cover; cook 10-15 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.
    Buy a nice loaf of crusty Italian bread to go with this and you'll have a tasty supper.  It probably makes enough for 6 or so people, or 2 people for two nights.  Enjoy. 


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Happy Birthday to my darling FurBabies -

George & Gracie's "Gotcha Day" was July 9, 2011.  We were told by the lady who gave them to us that they were born "sometime in October 2010"  - So I went with the best date 10-10-10 - a very lucky day indeed. 

They still sleep like this - all curled up together.  It's the sweetest thing I've ever seen.

George loves to help me with any project I'm working on - here he was helping to wrap Christmas presents.  His current favorite thing to help me with is typing on the computer.  
And any comfy spot he can find to sleep is good with him.  

Gracie prefers The Shepherd's side of the bed.  But I'll often wake to a crushing sensation - as soon as I figure out that I'm not having a heart attack or something like that, I realize that all 14 pounds of her is balanced on my chest.  Breathing issues soon arise...

So, happy birthday, my darling little FurBabies.  You have brought us much joy...

 and lots of small dead animals. 

To celebrate they got special dinners & extra Party Mix.  And maybe just a little Half & Half poured over their pate...