Crockpot Chicken Chili


2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 cans kidney beans

1 can corn

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can diced tomatos

1 cup chopped green chile

garlic, salt and pepper to taste.

1. Mix all ingredients together in crock pot.

2. Cook on high heat for 4-5 hours or until chicken falls apart.

3. Serve with grated cheese and tortillas or over cooked rice.

Blueberry Muffins


 

Blueberry Muffins

The next day, Nelly couldn’t wait for her cup of coffee. She dressed quickly and headed for Celestial Visions. She could smell fresh blueberry muffins as soon she turned the corner. When she opened the door, Sadie had already poured her cup of coffee and had a saucer with two of the beautiful muffins ready at her table.

“Oh my, how did you know that I was coming?”

Sadie smiled. She had the sweetest grandmotherly smile. “I saw you turn the corner. I had hoped you would come back today.”

“I woke up thinking about blueberry muffins and your wonderful coffee.” Nelly inhaled the steam from the coffee and took a sip. She could feel the smoothness of the creamy drink working its miracles on her half-awake senses. Closing her eyes, she sighed with pleasure and smiled. “Oh that is perfect.”

Sadie got her own cup of coffee and came to sit at the table. “I hope you don’t mind. I enjoyed visiting with you yesterday.”

Nelly didn’t mind. In fact, she wanted to talk to Sadie about the coffee shop. She was hoping for advice on how to set up her own place. “No, I don’t mind. I was wanting to ask you about this place. What made you decide to open a coffee shop?”

“I have dreamed about a place like this for most of my life. Somewhere to go to get away from reality for a while. I was married and raised six children, mostly on my own because my husband was always so busy with his patients. I love baking and most of my recipes are ones I perfected while the kids were little. When they were babies, I created this place in my mind. It gave me comfort during rough times. So after my husband died, I sold everything and planned for almost a year before I opened my doors.”

“I have a place similar to this that I dream of. I have always hoped to do the same. I’ve been squirreling away what money I can in the hopes that someday I can make my dream come true.” Nelly sighed a little wistfully. “This is almost exactly what I had in mind. Although, the pastries are a delightful addition. I’m not a very good cook.”

Sadie grinned suddenly. “I wasn’t either when I got married. but neccessity breeds invention. I found if I could tinker with recipes instead of following directions, I was much better. And the more I practiced the better I got.” She got up suddenly and walked back to the kitchen. When she returned, she had a battered notebook in her hands. She sat down and opened the book. It was full of recipes in plastic page protectors. Flour dust swirled up as she turned the pages. “The recipes I created are all down here on these pages. As I perfected them, I wrote the recipe down so I would have the right recipes at hand. Experimenting is fun but you can’t guarantee the results.” She turned the pages until she found the one she wanted. Then she removed a paper and pencil from the back of the book. She copied the blueberry muffin recipe down onto the paper in neat, precise cursive.

While she was writing, Nelly looked on in curiousity as she ate the muffins. She took her time, reveling in the bright sweet blueberry flavor. Using her index finger, she cleaned every crumb from the plate.

“Okay, this is the recipe I used for the blueberry muffins you just ate. The key is to use fresh blueberries. Follow the directions precisely, and you should have muffins that taste as good as the ones you just ate.” Sadie passed the recipe to Nelly and then stood and took the book back to the kitchen.

When she returned, Nelly stood and took a five from her purse. “Thank you so much Sadie. I need to get to work but I really enjoyed breakfast.” She took the recipe and put it into her purse. “I will try the muffins this weekend. I can’t wait to see how they turn out!”

Sadie smiled again. “Nelly, have a wonderful day and I will see you tomorrow!”

Nelly pushed her chair in and gathered her things. She waved and went out to begin her day.

Blueberry Muffins

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen blueberries
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup whole, 2 percent fat, or 1 percent fat milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a muffin tin or line the cups with paper liners. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer), cream the butter until smooth. Add 1 cup of the sugar and mix. Add the eggs, vanilla, baking powder, and salt and mix. In a shallow bowl, mash 3/4 cup of the blueberries with the back of a fork. Add to the batter and mix.

With the mixer running at low speed, add 1/2 of the flour, then 1/2 of the milk, and mix. Repeat with remaining flour and milk. Fold in the remaining 1 3/4 cups whole blueberries by hand until well mixed. In a separate small bowl, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon. Use an ice-cream scoop or large spoon to fill the muffin cups 3/4 full. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar over the muffins and bake until golden brown and risen, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in the pan at least 30 minutes before turning out.

Apple Fritters


 

Apple Fritters

 

Nelly walked briskly down the street, wondering where to go for breakfast. It was a cold blustery November morning and a cup of strong hot coffee would be perfect about now. She turned down 19th Avenue heading toward work. She’d been down this street a million times.

Suddenly, the smell of coffee and freshly baked bread wafted along the wind. She stopped and inhaled the heavenly scent and looked around. There at the end of a small brownstone building was a new sign hanging under a red and gold striped awning. Nelly quickly walked to the door.

“Celestial Visions” was printed in fancy script upon the sign. She opened the door and was drawn into the sweetly scented bakery. It was a small room with the counter and one table. At the end of the room was a large stone fireplace with a cheerful fire crackling inside. There were books along one wall and the bakery case across the other. Inside the case were a half dozen plates containing bakery goods. There were doughnuts and apple fritters, several different fruit danishes, brownies, bagels and a large chocolate frosted cake adorned with chocolate chips and pecans. Behind the counter was a huge coffee urn and a doorway to the kitchen.

A large woman came from the kitchen area , wiping her hands on her apron as she walked through the door. She was about the same height as Nelly with her gray hair pulled back into a bun and hairnet. She had sparkling blue eyes and a cheerful smile. Her apron had Sadie embroidered on it.

“Hi! Welcome to Celestial Visions. What can I get for you?”

Nelly smiled. “To start I would like a cup of coffee. And then I would like something to eat, but I am not sure which one I want.” She stepped back and perused the pastries.

“Take your time, although I have to admit, the apple fritters are pretty delicious today.” She turned to the coffee urn and got a large blue mug from the counter. Once she had filled the mug with coffee, she got cream and sugar and set the coffee in front of Nelly.

“Alright, I will have an apple fritter to go with the coffee.” Nelly added cream and sugar to her coffee mug and took a tentative sip. Then she smiled and took another sip. “This is the best coffee I have had in a long time.”

“Go ahead and have a seat. I’ll bring the fritter to you.”

Nelly turned and sat at the table. She looked at the books on the shelf: Alice in Wonderland, Lord of the Rings, and many other fantasy classics sat on the shelf nearest to her. As she looked around she noticed tin cut stars hanging from the ceiling. They were painted different colors and then oversprayed with glitter. They swayed gently, sparkling in the sunlight that poured in through the windows.

Sadie came around the counter carrying a blue plate with an apple fritter on it. She brought silverware and a napkin with her. She set the plate on the table and smiled. “Let me know if you need anything else.”

“Thank you.” Nelly took a bite of the apple fritter and closed her eyes, savoring the moist sweetness. “Oh this is wonderful!”

This bakery was very similar to the coffee shop she had been imagining. For as long as she could remember, she had wanted to open a small coffee shop. She envisioned a place where one could come in, sit by a fireplace and read. Customers could get free refills and pastries. She stared into the fire and daydreamed about her coffee shop.

As she finished the last sip of coffee, Sadie came back and refilled her cup. She brought the sugar and cream to the table along with her own coffee cup. “Do you mind if I sit with you?”

“Oh no.” Nelly smiled and then added her cream and sugar to her coffee. “I was just sitting here admiring your bakery. This is very close to the perfect coffee shop I have been imagining. I have wanted to open a coffee shop for a long time just like this.”

Sadie laughed. “I just love this place and like you I had imagined it for a long time before I was finally able to open it.” She also looked into the fire and sipped at her coffee.

“How long have you been here? I walk down this street a lot and I have never noticed you here.”

“Oh I just opened a few days ago. I wanted everything to be perfect before I opened for business.”

“Well I will definitely be back. I absolutely love your coffee and the apple fritter was heavenly!” Nelly stood and opened her purse. “How much do I owe you?”

Sadie smiled and said, “$1.00 for the coffee and $2.50 for the apple fritter. So $3.50”

“Wow, and affordable too.” Nelly took out a ten dollar bill and handed it to Sadie. “Keep the change. The food and service were wonderful. And I will most likely see you tomorrow. I need to get to work. Thank you!” She smiled again and walked out into the street.

Serve apple fritter recipe with syrup or sprinkle with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar.

Apple Fritters

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup finely chopped apple
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Preparation:

Sift together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add milk and egg; beat until batter is smooth. Fold in chopped apple. Drop by teaspoonfuls into deep hot oil — about 370° and at least 2 1/2 to 3 inches deep — and fry for about 2 to 3 minutes, until nicely browned.
Drain well on paper towels then roll in confectioners’ sugar while still warm. Serve as is or warm, with syrup, if desired.

Today is the First Day of the Rest of my Life


So last night, we spent some time talking about health. I was feeling rather fortunate because the others I was talking to have serious health issues. So far, outside of obesity, I am relatively healthy. However, I have some genetic health problems that loom over me and being overweight will make it more likely that I will have trouble as I grow older.

Soooo….I need to lose weight. I need to make this happen because for now its just sitting mostly still. The occasional stroll around the block and nightly ice cream is not the way to do it…LOL!

I have a couple of close friends who are planning to have lap band surgery. This will allow them to lose weight fairly quickly. However, I am concerned about the lack of food you are able to eat after the surgery. I am considering it, mainly because up to now I have not been strong on willpower. Candy bars seem to call my name on a regular basis.

What I would really like to do is figure out how to do this without surgery. From what I understand, with the surgery I would lose 100 pounds in roughly a year. That is possible with a diet and exercise  as well. I lost 50 pounds after I left my ex by walking every day and cutting back on the food.

My goal for the moment is 10% of my body weight. Everything I have read says that just 10% will greatly improve my chances of not getting diabetes and some of the other obesity related illnesses. So… and I am laying it on the line here, I am starting this journey at 290 lbs. My goal is 29 lbs and I would really like to lose that before I go back to work the beginning of August. If I can meet that goal then I will continue to do this on my own. If I can’t, well then I will start to look into the surgical options.

Father’s Day


Father’s Day is an interesting little holiday.

On the one hand, I have my father. He and I are good for 15 minutes or so of conversation at any given time and that holds us for 6 months or so. Its not that I don’t love my dad. I do. But we really honestly have nothing to say to one another. He is a very quiet, fairly anti-social man. And I can be loud and don’t sit still any better than the kids I teach. Anyway, it makes for a relatively awkward relationship.

Then there is my children’s dad. We aren’t married any longer and I suppose I still hold some resentment for the angst-ridden relationship both I and my children have with him. I wish him well and I am happy that my kids all made it by to see him today. It made him happy. But he isn’t part of my family any longer so Father’s Day doesn’t really count.

Then there is my current husband. He has no children of my own. He would love to be Dad to my kids but they already have someone in that position. We have talked about adopting, in fact, we talked about it again last night. I think he could be a wonderful dad. I know he has been great for Anthony. They get along very well most of the time. I would love to give him the opportunity to see what being a father is really like.

So… for me, Father’s Day has become kind of abstract. Its really very strange.

Old Time Hobbies


I’ve come to the conclusion that I should have been born a century earlier. I have fallen in love with many of the hobbies of yesteryear.

I love baking and cooking in general. I bake at least one loaf of bread or batch of rolls a week. Anthony eats brownies and jam cakes as fast as I can cook them. I am currently looking for a good recipe for danishes so I can make some for the baby shower on Sunday. Canning is my new fascination. I have canned jams and fruit such as pears and apples. We made a huge amount of applesauce last fall. I trimmed green beans for several hours and canned 60 pints or so over Christmas break. The new thing is canning meat. I have canned ground beef which makes spaghetti sauce a snap, chicken that is so tender it melts in your mouth and pork roast which I cannot wait to cook in green chili stew this fall.

I am a wannabe quilter. I have collected fabric for years and completed a couple of quilts. The best one I have ever done from start to finish was the 50 state quilt my class created for the Pastabilities auction at school. I have several tops which I purchased on EBay that I would love to get quilted. I also need to finish quilts for both daughters and both grandsons. The biggest problem with quilting is that I don’t yet have a sewing room so everything has to be set up and put away each time I work on it.

I would love to crochet. I buy yarn and needles periodically. I start projects but for some reason I have never been able to complete them. I don’t know if crocheting is to monotonous to keep my attention or what the deal is. I absolutely love crocheted afghans but I think I may have to leave the crocheting to those who can complete their crochet projects.

Already, I make my own laundry soap. I simply cannot bring myself to buy soap when i can make my own for a fraction of the cost. The next project I am thinking about attempting is body wash and shampoos. I have the books and am doing the research. I can’t wait to try to make soap with the qualities I like in soap.

I like being somewhat self-sufficient. Not sure I am ready to be off the grid completely. There are too many conveniences that I enjoy in modern society. But it sure is fun learning to do for myself!

Its Only Rock n Roll…


This summer has been interesting. We have already been to Summerfest to see Ingram Hill and the big concert of the summer, Iron Maiden last night. We have plans to go to see Rush and a bluegrass festival later in the summer. Additionally, we may go to Zoo Music and some of the other Summerfest concerts. Its a lot of fun!

I would not have chosen Iron Maiden or Rush neccisarily, but the guys really like them. Maiden is Anthony’s favorite band and a fitting choice for his first real concert.

He had a blast. All the noise and the crowds were worth enduring just to see the look on my little boy’s face:) It just doesn’t get any better than that!

Music has a way of changing people. I truly believe it is an extension of one’s personality. You can learn a lot about a person by looking through their mp3. Its pretty amazing. The music is bringing my family together in ways I hadn’t realized when we started this journey. And I wouldn’t change that for the world.

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