Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pineapple Angel Food Cake

I won't try and kid you into thinking this is in any way good for you, but it's got the be the easiest "homemade" cake for summer.  It's light and refreshing, did we mention easy?  Two ingredients - and you're done.  And it would be perfect to take to a picnic or a cook-out.  One of our guests had his with whipped cream and cherries.  But I don't really think it needs a topping.  Unless you're young and trim and can afford the extra calories!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Spicy Summer Chicken & A Revelation

Tonight we had something I'll call "Spicy Summer Chicken".  I had some chicken breasts to use up and I was trying to think of something new.  I also wanted to tap into the goodness of the fresh garden veggies. 

Now when I'm alone in the kitchen cooking, my mind is usually going a million miles an hour.  Tonight was no exception.  So I'm cutting up onions the way I always have - I cut them in half, then in quarters, and then slice them right into whatever I'm making.  It makes a slicey dice.  It's just the way I do it for lack of a better way.  So I get to thinking "someday I'm really going to have to learn to chop onions the right way".  And then it hits me...I've always done it like this, it has always worked.  I raised four children doing it this way, also fed countless others goodness knows how many thousands of meals over the years (I'm a feeder).  I'm content, it gets done, what am I thinking???  No, seriously, this was my revelation.  It may seem silly and small, but why do we always second guess ourselves?  Why do we always think someone else has a key or some knowledge or skill that we don't?  Why can't we just be ourselves and be content?

I'm wondering how much of this negativity toward myself I really do carry around.  It's good to examine and improve ourselves, but probably not a good thing to always think we're not quite up to the mark.  So I'm going to try to be more conscious about this in the future. 

I'm not sure if this makes sense to anyone else but me, there it is.

And now a recipe, or as we call it here, a method. 

I know that's not a good picture, but it's the best I could get in a dim room.

At any rate, I cut up the chicken breasts into tenders-like pieces and put them into an oiled baking dish.  Then I made the sauce.

Drizzle some oil in a skillet, then add
chopped onions (we used two medium onions tonight)
chopped garlic (as much as you like of each)
(You could also use peppers, if you wanted them)

Stir over medium heat till the onions just start to soften.

Then I added:

3-4 large fresh tomatoes, cut up (you could use canned)
salt & pepper
whatever you like to make it spicy - I added crushed red pepper, tabasco sauce, cumin
Soy Sauce (we use Bragg's)

Simmer this 5-10 mins, then pour it over the chicken in the pan.  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

Voila!  It's low fat, it's fresh and taty.  It really was tasty, and the chicken was nice and tender.

On the side, we cooked some zucchini in chopped tomatoes with garlic, oregano, etc.  Yummy!

And then there were mashed potatoes. 

It was really very satisfying, not really expensive, and you could actually do a lot of it before work, if you like, and then have an easy meal to come home to.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Help Orphan Puppies - You CAN Help!

Today I'm asking all my friends to take just a second of their time to help our friends at Help Orphan Puppies.  You may or may not know that these are the good people who brought us our dear Pearl.  Pearl is such a joy to us, and a real comfort to me and Big Steve and Elsa upon the loss of our dear friend Tuffy.  They knocked themselves out to see that Pearl and her littermates received the best of care and attention.  She came to us as a healthy, confident puppy, who had received optimatal care and plenty of expert handling and training at her tender age.  I can't say enough good things about them.

Now for the request - and it's a simple one.  Just PLEASE go vote for our friends at the Pepsi Refresh Your World Contest.  You don't have to sign up or do one thing, unless you want to power vote.  Power voting is easy and fun.  You can get a bunch of votes with one click simply by entering the code from your Pepsi product.  I did it just now, and believe me, I am NO computer genius!

So pleae go vote now, and vote every day!  And power vote if you can.  If I can do it, anyone can!  It would mean a lot to me, and I know it would mean a lot to Tuffy and Pearl.

Thanks friends!!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Today our hearts are heavy with the loss of our good friend Tuffy.  Tuffy had been with us for only five years, but he accomplished so much in that short time.  We had never even heard of the breed, keeshond, before we met Tuffy.  But true to his breed, Tuffy had a perpetually cheerful outlok and disposition.  He was sweetness personified.  He was a kind and gentle companion to many, beginning with my Uncle Bump.  I'm not sure where Tuffy's journey began, but at four years of age, my uncle got him from a rescue organization.  Tuff and Uncle Bump absolutely adored each other for six years, at which time Uncle Bump passed on.  Tuffy seemed lost and heartbroken when he came to live with us shortly after that.  He cried and cried at the front and back doors night after night.

Tuffy proved to be a gentle and loving companion to our elderly dog Theo, until Theo passed away.  Then, upon the loss of Theo, Tuffy went suddenly mute.  He would lay each night just looking at Theo's empty bed.  Big Steve and I thought it would be good to bring another dog into the house to help Tuffy return to his happy self.  That new dog turned out to be Elsa, a super-shy (I am thinking puppy mill) dog we got from Peppertree Dog Rescue.  (They are wonderful people if you are looking for a dog, or if you want to support a great rescue organization).  Once again, Tuffy showed his true colors of love and compassion as he helped ease Elsa's fears and showed her how to be able to live happily with humans.  I really do swear that dogs communicate just as we do, only not with words. 

During the time Tuffy was with us, he was a perfect "starter dog" for many people who were really afraid of dogs.  From foster kids who were terrified to be in care to begin with, and then further terrified of dogs, to kids on the street, to all kinds of house guests.  Tuffy used his gentle nature and sweet disposition to disarm the most fearful human. 

He came to be known as "Tuffster" "Sir Tuffs-a-Lot", "Tuffalupagous" "Little Buddy" and other names.  I used to like to recite the poetry to him "Blessings on thee little man - barefoot boy with cheeks of tan".  He wasn't the brightest dog in the pack, but he was certainly the sweetest.  All he ever wanted was pets, pets and more pets from humans.  I really believe that tonight he has the sweetest pets from Uncle Bump as well as the angels.  Such a good dog MUST be in heaven.

Run and play now, Tuffy, like you were a puppy - this time you will DEFINITELY not end up in a rescue situation.  We've given you back to Uncle Bump.  You were only ours for a season, after all.  We surely will miss you though.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Chicken Go-To-Bed

A few years ago, I tried a recipe for my family called "Chicken Marengo".  As the story goes, it was named that because Napoleon insisted on this meal immediately following the battle at Marengo.  I don't know if that's true or not, I'll leave that to the historians.  But the name "Chicken Napoleon" stuck in my mind, and I could never find the recipe again.  But it was soooooooooooooooooooooooooo tasty, one of my daughter's personal favorites, and I was sorry to not have that recipe.

Recently I was sniffing around for new crockpot recipes and I came across a recipe for Chicken Marengo.  The light bulb went on in my head, and I was thrilled to see a crockpot version of something that formerly took half the evening to prepare (who needs that after a long day at the office!!!).

Last night, I ventured out to the freezer to take out the chicken for tonight's dinner.  I tried to remember the names "Napoleon" and "Marengo" but I was so exhausted that all I kept stammering was chicken....chicken...chicken...and finally blurted out "Chicken Go-To-Bed".  A star is born!

It wasn't quite the same, but was every bit as scrumptious as the more labor intensive recipe.  I'll still make traditional Chicken Marengo when time permits, but for now and ever more, this will be known as Chicken Go-To-Bed.  Click below for the details!