Post #861 After a Decade, It’s Time

June 2, 2022 at 8:16 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

It’s been 10 years writing this blog. Honestly, I never thought I would last beyond two. In the past ten years, I feel like it’s been a journey. I’ve made friends on-line, and I’ve made some discoveries. You’ve watched/read with me as we moved around the country for various reasons. You’ve been through my father’s final days with me. You’ve been through the beginning of my relationship with Partner/Spouse and all the way through our marriage. You’ve been through the acquisition of dogs, and the rainbow-bridge moments with those dogs. You’ve seen us flounder and thrive and attain our goal of living in New England.

A decade is a long time. At the beginning, I intended for the blog to be one thing, but it had a mind of its own, and it became something else. I started with the idea of posts that were supposed to be 500-600 words long. Anyone who has read this blog from the beginning knows I can’t say anything in less than a 1000 words, and usually more. The average length of words for posts is around 1400. I intended to have separate recipe pages, but I didn’t like that in practice. The same with the stories. So they all became part and parcel of the blog posts.

I intended to inject humor into every posts, but as in life, sometimes things just aren’t funny. Some posts were very personal and difficult to write. Those turned out to be some of my most popular posts. The post I wrote when Robin Williams took his life where I told about my own battles with depression got several hundred hits and was picked up by a couple of national/global blogs.

I started the blog as a way to share my cooking journey from the days when I was learning what flour would do until now when I get people asking me what to do to get a good rise from their souffle. I remember a young lady I used to work with who commented on FB that she finally sat down with her knife set to figure out what each one did. Her comment “Did you know there’s knife just to cut bread? Who knew that?” made me reply to her, “I did.” She became a blog fan from the start. My imaginary friend “Karen” was inspired by a close friend from high school who’s common lament “I wish I liked to cook!” became her rallying cry and force me to write posts about basic cooking that was easy. She still hates to cook, but she does it easier now.

When the blog started, I wrote three times a week and the biggest challenge was to find things to write about. I’m not kidding, when I did the prep work before starting the blog, I had already listed a year’s worth of posts at three times a week. I didn’t follow that list religiously, but it did help when I was floundering. Over time, life got in the way and eventually I had to start cutting back.

I suppose the question most people have is why I made the decision to stop writing the blog? As I said a few months ago, somewhere along the way, I lost the joy of writing the blog. It became a chore; something I “had” to do. People have often asked me why I haven’t worked in a restaurant or started my own. My answer has always been because when I have to do something, it’s no longer fun. Each post, instead of flying out of my fingers in a rush-and-tumble to get on the page, became a struggle to get the next sentence done. Some of them were easy, but most of them were difficult. Each word was wrenched from me until I had a coherent post ready to publish. I think it showed in the quality of my posts.

All that being said, the blog isn’t going away. I’m not going to delete it or any post. It will still be up and running, ready as a reference (I use it as a reference, too, constantly searching for a recipe I forgot to write down in my kitchen notebook.) I will still be able to see comments readers leave, and I will always reply back to each one. I might even post once in a while when I feel the urge. So feel free to keep checking it out.

I had a couple of goals when I started and the only one I didn’t reach was 1000 posts. But 861 isn’t bad. That’s nearly a million words. Just imagine if I’d turned that towards my novel writing career. And that’s my next journey. I’ve got two finished but unpublished novels. I’m trying to figure out if I want to go independent or traditional publisher. Either way, I’m happy with the course I’ve mapped out in my head.

For my “final” recipe (for now, who knows?), I’ll leave you with one of my favorites that’s in our weekly diet. Spaghetti sauce in a crockpot. This recipe once woke someone from a sound sleep to come out to the kitchen to try it on toast.

Make sure you have a crockpot large enough for about a gallon of sauce. This recipe is designed to cook overnight, but you could cook it during the day while you’re at work.

  1. 1 pound hamburger, very lean, frozen or thawed
  2. 2 regular sized cans of tomato puree
  3. 1 6oz can of tomato paste
  4. 2 regular sized cans of diced tomatoes
  5. 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  6. 2 tablespoons of Italian herbs mix
  7. 1/2 tablespoon of dried oregano
  8. 4 cloves of garlic minced
  9. 1/2 medium onion chopped
  10. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  11. salt and pepper to taste
  12. 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes, optional but try it once to see if you like it

Let’s talk about the ingredients first. The hamburger if frozen, will cook while the sauce cooks and add its juices to the sauce flavor. Once every this done, it can be broken into chunks to make a meatball sort of effect. If the hamburger is thawed, it will blend with the sauces until it looks like it disappears, but the flavor will be intense. Try to use fresh onion and garlic but powdered will do. Use more than you think is necessary, but to your own taste. The red pepper flakes will add fire to the sauce so use it sparingly. But try it at least once because it’s really good.

Okay, add all the cans of tomatoes plus one cup of water to the slow cooker, and mix thoroughly. Add all the seasonings and stir. Place the hamburger in the center of the sauce. In a small skillet, heat the olive oil and onion and garlic for a few minutes until the onion and garlic start to release their aroma. Pour that into the sauce. Cover the slow cooker and set to high. Stir every hour or so if possible. After three hours, turn to low and cook for four hours. Alternatively, cook on low for several hours. This will get incredibly hot, so once it’s done, turn off and remove the lid. You’ll find the sauce tends to be thinner than a stove top version but will thicken as it cools. Stir to distribute the meat and flavorings. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if needed. When ready, boil up your favorite pasta, drain it, put it on a plate, and spoon heated sauce over the top. Garnish with parmesan cheese if you like.

That’s it. Easy peasy. Leftover sauce can be frozen and used as a base for more sauce. This also works very well for lasagna and pizza sauce.

So, here we are. The final paragraph of the final (?) post. I’ve had fun doing this. I hope you had fun and laughs reading it.

As always,

Post #860 Memorial Days Past

May 30, 2022 at 12:26 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s Memorial Day in America. In the past, Memorial Day was known as Decoration Day because people would decorate the graves of their fallen soldiers. Now it’s called Memorial Day to memorialize, or remember, all our fallen soldiers whether they were family or not. This is my dad. He spent the first 30 years of his adult life in service to our country in the Marine Corps. He started as a private and finished up as a Master Gunnery Sargeant. He raised three kids, many dogs, two grandkids, and kept his smile to the end. My dad and I didn’t always get along; we didn’t understand each other. But I always admired and respected him.

Mom set out on a course to teach me to cook when I asked her to at about age 13. Dad taught me to cook long before then as a way to teach me responsibility. I remember him getting frustrated when I didn’t understand something he wanted me to learn, and I always felt terrible.

I was in second grade when he taught me to make popcorn. Popcorn was a great treat for us. It wasn’t relegated to just Friday night. We could have popcorn all the time, and we did. Mom’s cry of “Who wants popcorn?” would bring all of us running. Eventually, I ran a little slower cuz I was going to be the one who had to make it.

In the 60s, we had a really old-fashioned popper.

There was a glass lid, a base with an electric heating coil, the electric plug, and a metal tub to hold the popcorn. Perfectly designed to maim or kill a seven year old, but Dad impressed on me the importance of being careful, and since I didn’t want a burn, I was careful. I never suffered any injury from that deathtrap.

The first step was to assemble it, plug it in (no on/off switch here), and put a spoonful of Crisco in the bottom to melt. I loved that part, watching the pure white shortening turn clear and liquid, waiting until the very last iota of white disappeared from sight, noticing the heat waves through the melted liquid, and finally seeing the first small bubbles rising up from the bottom. That was my clue to put the popcorn in, CAREFULLY! You didn’t want anything splattering anywhere, and especially not your skin. After the first kernel popped, I had to start shaking the tub to keep the popcorn from burning. That meant hold the tub up from the coil and moving the popcorn around. But you had to hold the lid, too, or it would fall right off. So both hands were needed. The lid was hot, so a pot holder was necessary to keep from burning yourself. A little seven year old who didn’t reach the counter so was kneeling on a kitchen chair to get the height he needed to do all this was in grave danger of falling and spreading a burn or fire hazard all the place. Except I never did. I was full of the importance of making the family popcorn treat. It only took a few minutes from start to finish, but it always felt like a half hour. When the popcorn stopped popping, I unplugged the machine, and poured the hot popcorn into a large bowl. Then I lightly salted it (sometimes mom would melt butter for it but not often since we were messy kids) and walked the bowl out to the living room where we kids crowded around it on the couch. I always held the bowl since I made the popcorn.

I’ve eaten popcorn my whole life. Even when I was traveling, I’d have bags of microwave popcorn that I’d pop at work where there was a microwave, and take back to the hotel, where there wasn’t a microwave. And for me, one of the most delectable flavors is day-old popcorn. It’s so good.

Over time, Dad taught me and my brother all the things he thought boys should know: how to fight, how to take a punch, how to change a flat, how to change oil in a car, how to fish, how to bait a hook, how to clean a fish, and the most important one, how to grill.

There was a Dennis the Menace cartoon where his dad is walking outside with burgers on a plate towards a smoking grill and Dennis asks, “What is it about outside that makes dad the cooker?” That’s how it was in our house, too. Mom never used the grill. In my own household, when I was married to my ex, she never used the grill. My sister never uses the grill. I’m sure there are women out there who use the grill, but I don’t recall ever seeing them do it. A few years after we moved to Arizona, Dad decided it was time for me to learn the grill. We always had charcoal, although when I grew up, I’ve always used propane. He showed me how to pile the briquettes properly, and how to douse them with lighter fluid. I learned to time the coals, when to spread them, and dad taught me how to hold my hand at the grate level and count to test the heat level. Still no blisters, oddly enough. In case you don’t know, if you can hold your hand over the coals for seven seconds without major discomfort, the coals are ready. Any sooner, they’re too hot; any longer, they’re too cool.

The first thing I learned to grill was burgers and dogs, and I still love burgers and dogs. Ribs and chicken were next, then pork chops (yum!)(we’re having those tonight.) The last thing he trusted me with was steak. The only steak he liked (and still one of my favorites) was sirloin. He showed me the following trick to test for doneness. He liked done; I liked rare. He was constantly trying to get my steak right, but never managed it. He started by having me prep the steak by removing large fat block, and seasoning (salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder (sound familiar?)). From there, I went on to actual cooking.

What you’re doing with this chart is lightly touching your fingers, then feeling the tension in the ball of muscle under your thumb. Then you touch the steak lightly and the tension you feel is the level of doneness. It really works. But mostly, I’ve been grilling steaks so long, I can tell just by timing.

Dad often said “my fingers taste good” because he mixed his potato salad by hand, not by spoon. And everyone raved over his potato salad. Potato salad is not something I eat. It contains a lot of ingredients that I don’t like, but mostly it’s the mayo. Potato salad is easy, as easy as any other salad. Prep your ingredients well ahead of time, toss them in a bowl, mix in mayo and you’re done.

  1. 4 large potatoes, boiled, cooled, and peeled
  2. 3 eggs, boiled, cooled, and shelled
  3. 2 celery stalks, cleaned and minced
  4. 1 medium onion, minced
  5. 1/2 cup sweet pickle relish
  6. 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  7. 1-2 tablespoons yellow prepared mustard (dijon will work, too, if preferred)
  8. 1/2 tsp celery salt
  9. 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  10. Paprika to garnish

Once all ingredients are prepped, place them all (omit the Paprika) in a large bowl and gently stir to combine. When everything is combined, taste and adjust seasonings if needed. If it appears dry, add more mayo by spoonfuls. If it appears wet, it will set while chilling. Sprinkle the top of the salad with Paprika, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least two hours.

Potato salad is another one of those recipes that’s as varied as the people making it. I’d use dill pickle relish if I were eating it because I prefer the tang to the sweet. I’d also probably use a Cesar dressing rather than mayo. But this recipe as it stands is what my dad made every time he made it, and there were seldom any leftovers. His fingers just tasted better.

We had one area in the back yard where grass would not grow. That’s where we churned ice cream. Ice cream, as you are likely aware, is a sweet custard that’s placed in a churn, and swirled in a cold environment until it thickens and rises and starts to freeze. These days, machines do it. Back then, we used these:

Crank by hand, ice and salt around the internal tub where the custard sets. It was a family effort. Mom made the custard. Dad set up the churn. We kids took it in turn to crank that handle. Dad finished it off when it became too stiff for us kids to handle. Mom then took over again and scooped it into a container and put it in the freezer. We got small bowls to have right then as a reward for our efforts, but the real deal was later, after dinner, with hot fudge sauce all over it.

One summer, Mom had an opportunity to drive back to Ohio with a friend to share the driving routine. It would give her a chance to see family and spend the summer in a cooler place than the Arizona desert. Dad made it happen for her, and he and I were left to our own devices. I cooked, as I usually do, and he ate with little comment (he was a man of few words.) About halfway through the summer, I was talking with her and she said, “Hey listen. Your dad wants me to tell you something. He saws you’re cooking his beef too rare.” I was floored. “Mom! He’s sitting across the table from me! Why didn’t he just say something?”

He didn’t want to hurt my feelings. That night, when I handed him his well done meat, I said, “You can tell me when you don’t like it, dad. I won’t cry or nothing.”

“You did when you were little.”

I shook my head and stood up. “I’m not little anymore, see?”

Today is Memorial Day, when we remember our fallen. Dad did not fall in combat, but we all remember his service and his life. Thanks for sharing those memories with me.

And as always,

Post #859 On My Own

May 23, 2022 at 6:14 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I woke up this morning at 4am. What for?! I hear you saying. Partner/Spouse is in Reno this week teaching a small group of nurses. I drove him to the airport in Albany, an easy trip for us. It’s about 30 minutes. We make a right turn out of our driveway and about ten miles to the entrance to the freeway. We drive another 20 miles to the junction with another freeway and take the exit on the right. We drive another 3 miles to the exit to the airport which is a dedicated exit. So a quick stop at the light and a left turn, then a 3-5 minute cruise to the passenger drop off. Home is just the reverse. Easy, civilized, and at 5:30am hardly any traffic. But it was very reminiscent of my travel days. I had the same anticipatory knot in my stomach. Would I make the flight in time? Were all my documents in order? What would I do on the plane for all that time? Did I pack everything I needed? What would the weather be like? Would my room be good enough? All the answers are the same – positive. No missed flights; no missing tickets; no missing docs; no troubles getting to the airport or getting home.

So, for the next week I’m on my own, just me and dog.

As you can see, he seems to be doing well. I’m doing well, too.

Over the weekend, we went to various stores to get meds for travel, new scrubs since he was working in a hospital, and groceries, among other errands. I made decisions for my meals during the upcoming week since I’m cooking just for me. I thought I would end up going heavier on mushrooms and salmon, but I didn’t.

So, let me tell you what I’m planning and what the recipes are.

Monday – breakfast was a cheese and mushroom omelet. That turned out great and was easy as dropping eggs. I melted a half a tablespoon of butter in an omelet pan. While it was melting, I broke two large eggs into a small bowl and beat the hell out of them with a fork. Once the butter was sizzling, I dropped a small handful of sliced mushrooms into the pan and let them sear and get crispy. While that was happening, I grated a small amount of parmesan cheese onto a paper towel. Once the mushrooms were ready, I poured the eggs into the pan and let them settle into all the nooks and crannies between the mushrooms. I let the eggs cook for a couple of minutes, then gently shook the pan to release the bottom of the omelet. I then decided rather than make an omelet, I do a basic frittata cuz I was being lazy. A small one, no doubt, but still plenty for me. Bear in mind it was around 6:30 and I was still sleepy so easy seemed the way to go. I got a little daring and decided to flip my frittata instead of using a spatula. As Julia Child said, “If you have the courage of convictions, all will be well.” I didn’t have the courage of my convictions because instead of flipping over, it flipped halfway and created the perfect single fold omelet! So there’s that. I sprinkled the cheese on top, and moved it to a plate, and chowed down with a couple of crackers for carbs. Lunch was a leftover salad from last night’s dinner. Dinner tonight is going to be . . . . . . wait for it . . . . . tacos!! I got all the fixings for tacos yesterday so I could have tacos tonight. Woohoo!

Tuesday – Breakfast and lunch in our house is usually very informal and each of us gets whatever we like. Partner/Spouse is addicted to smoothies and has those several times during the week. I love toast, sometimes with bacon. When we go out to diners, we usually get eggs in some form. So, I don’t know what breakfast will be, but lunch will likely be leftover from dinner the night before and salad based, cuz guess what?

Tues-Friday – Dinner is . . . . . . . . . . wait for it . . . . . . . . tacos! Every night! Different fillings. Tonight is hamburger. Tomorrow is chicken in cilantro and tomatillo sauce. Wed is going to be skirt steak. Thursday will likely be pork chops grilled then meat cut off and chopped. Friday is whatever I feel like. Have I ever mentioned that I like tacos?

See, here’s the thing about tacos. You can fill them with anything. You can use different tortillas, although my experience is corn or flour, and I vastly prefer corn. You can have them soft or crispy, baked or fried, or grilled. Tacos are limited to your imagination.

One snack that we both like are what we were raised to call Taquitos, pronounced Tah-kee-toe. These are simple tacos. You heat a corn tortilla until pliable, fill it with a couple of teaspoons of filling, roll it tightly, poke a toothpick into it long ways to keep it from unrolling, and fry it until it’s crispy. Wait for it to cool a little bit, but don’t wait till they’re cold. You do NOT want a cold taquito. People salt them lightly, and dunk them salsa or pico de gallo or crema, a mexican cheese sauce. The filling can be as simple as shredded cheese or as complex as a guisado. You only need a small amount of filling so don’t think about putting all kinds of meats, cheeses, and fresh vegetables inside one of these. The size is about the same as a grown person’s middle finger. Overfilling will cause them to break open during the frying process. Whenever I make a roast for tacos, I use part of the leftover to make as many taquitos as I have corn tortillas left over. Sometimes, I’ll buy extra tortillas to make a lot because Partner/Spouse likes these for lunch. They’re easily frozen. Freeze them after filling and skewering with the toothpick. Be careful putting the frozen taquito into the frying oil, but otherwise the process is identical.

I was teasing Partner/Spouse about how much Mexican food I’d be eating and we got to talking (reminiscing) about some of favorite foods as kids. Cheese Crisps figured high on both our lists. A cheese crisp is sometimes referred to as a Mexican pizza, but it isn’t that. It’s simply a flour tortilla of any size that’s been covered in your favorite cheese, then baked at 350 until the cheese melts and turns golden and tortilla is crisp. Once it’s out of the oven, you just break off pieces and eat them. You can dunk them in any sauce you like but pico de gallo and guacamole are popular.

I also told him the story about how when I was first married, I made quesadillas (kay-sa-dee-yuhz) for my (now ex) wife. She wasn’t certain what they were. A quesadilla is a folded flour tortilla filled with cheese and grilled until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is starting to get crispy. It’s cut into wedges and eaten hot, usually with a dip. When I was working a fast food restaurant in my home town the specialized in Mexican food, we coated the inside of the tortilla with green peppers to give some zing. You can also make them bigger and thicker by layering meats and veggies along with the cheese and rather than folding the tortilla you can stack two or three tortillas to hold all the fillings. Once again, it’s grilled until the cheese melts and the tortillas starts to turn crispy. Cut into wedges, eat hot, with a dip. She was so suspicious, but once she tried them, she was sold.

Another Mexican dish we love to make at home is Nachos Supreme. This one is quite an affair. Most nachos that you buy in stores are warm corn tortilla chips covered with a cheese sauce (usually melted Velveeta) with some jalapeno peppers thrown on top. Authentic nachos as I had them were individual very small round tortilla chips with a dollop of cheese and a single jalapeno slice on top. That was baked until the cheese was melted and bubbly. They were sold by the dozen, and if you ordered them, you did not share. Now what we do is buy a large bag of “restaurant style” corn tortilla chips (flour tortillas will go soggy very quickly even if they’ve been baked or fried) and spread them on a foil covered baking sheet (the foil is important). First layer gets about a pound of cheese, whatever your favorite melting cheese is. Another layer of chips, more cheese, then onion, beans, cooked spicy meat, salsa, tomatoes and whatever else you think you want on there. These are baked in high degree oven just until the cheese starts to melt. Take them out of the oven and use the foil to transfer the nachos to a serving plate. Just set the whole foil packet down on the serving dish. Serve hot with side dips like pico de gallo, salsa, guacamole, and sour cream. We do this one a lot because we can mix it up. And the crunch with the flavors is astounding.

Partner/Spouse is back on Saturday. He told me the day he learned he was going to have to go that he went online and found one of our favorite authentic Mexican restaurants near his hotel, so he’s going to be chowing down on good food, too. And I plan to make donuts at least once this week.

We’re coming down to the wire for the end of the blog. June 2 is not that far away. I’ll be leaving the blog up so if you’re using it for a reference, it’ll still be there. I’m also leaving the alerts up so if you leave a comment, I’ll know and respond. And I might sneak in a post every so often.

As always,

Post #858 Hello Karen! Are You Having a Fun Weekend?

May 15, 2022 at 7:35 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Hi Karen!* Had a great talk today and I wanted to tell you more about the fun we’ve had this weekend. First, though, my back is well on the mend; no meds needed to control pain. I just have to remember to be careful about how much I do. Fortunately, I live with a career trauma nurse who yells at me when I’m overdoing things.

We found a new favorite restaurant here in our neck of the woods. It’s only about ten minutes away, in a village called Nassau. It serves delicious Mexican street food! And it’s authentic! We’ve finally found our flavors in New England. It’s called Tacos Diablos.

Here’s how it works. You enter and grab a small paper menu to peruse. Their selection if kind of limited, but that’s to a purpose. They make everything to order so it’s the freshest possible. They use high quality ingredients, and authentic recipes. The first thing you have to decide is what you want: tacos, burritos, bowlrito (burrito bowl), salad, or quesadilla. Then you get to decide on what you want inside the selection: chicken, pork, beef, mexican sausage, or veggies. Then it’s on to the salsas and toppings which are varied and plentiful, and different levels of spicy/hot. Once that’s done, they have some sides which are interesting. You can have the standards like rice and beans, or chips and salsa, or chips and guacamole, but you can also get tamales (chicken or cheese), and elote (a Mexican dish of grilled corn covered in butter, cheese, and spices.) Drinks vary from sodas (American and Mexican) to fresh lemonade spiked with jalapeno peppers. And desserts are standard and minimal. It’s a set up similar Chipotle. You can whatever you like in whatever combo.

The first time we went, I had beef tacos with pico de gallo and jack cheese. There was sprinkling of cilantro and onion on top, and the tortillas were small and each taco had two tortillas. This is exactly the way I used to get them on the street. The tortillas aren’t fried. They are heated very simply, either grilled quickly, or seared in a hot skillet. Partner/Spouse got a burrito with barbacoa, spiced seared beef, and the burrito was filled with beans, rice, salsa, cilantro, and he could have added cheese but didn’t want it. And it was the size of a football.

The flavors just exploded in our mouths. It was exactly as we remembered it from our childhood. So we went there again yesterday. True to form, I got tacos again. I LOVE those things. This time I got chicken which had been grilled with tomatillos (a citrusy fruit that looks like a small green tomato covered with a brown paper) and cilantro. So good. Partner/Spouse got three tamales, a side of rice (made with cilantro and lime and onions), and chips and salsa. So good, too! This time we got meet the owner, Dominic. Found out we all lived in the same “area” of sorts. He grew up in San Diego, but knew my home town quite well. He and his wife were both happy to meet home bodies.

We also tried to go hiking. That didn’t turn out well due to slippery rocks and bad ankles.

Today, I spent a couple of hours weeding the beds to make them look nicer. I also dead-headed the hydrangeas since new growth was showing off last years blossoms that were still on the bushes. I did both the beds on either side of the front porch which took a couple of hours. I dumped my five gallon bucket like six times. There were a lot of weeds. I get to continue tomorrow if it’s not raining. I took several rest breaks to make sure my back stayed fine.

Our lilacs are blooming finally. They’re white! I’ve never seen white lilacs before. There’s a bush in the back that’s the same color as the one we had in Vermont.

I can’t wait until the whole bush is covered. We also had a massive box elder blossom a week or so ago.

This week’s recipe for you involves a chicken breast you told me that you had in the freezer. First thing to do is thaw that sucker out, in the fridge to avoid any spoilage. Then, set it on a baking dish. You can sprinkle it with seasonings, spices, etc if you want to, but I’m going to show you several ways to use this piece of foul so extra seasonings might not work with them. Your choice. Set your oven for 350 and once it’s reached that temp, cook the chicken for 30-45 minutes. Once it’s done, set it aside and let it cool. Now comes the fun part.

Meal 1: Cut the chicken breast in half and chop half of it into small, bite-sized pieces. Wrap the other half in cling film and freeze until needed. Place the chopped chicken into a small bowl and set aside. Make a salad of whatever kind you like. I use salad kits because they’re so convenient. In two small bowls, set aside one tablespoon of salad dressing in each. Make the salad but instead of putting it in a bowl put all the ingredients into a large zip lock bag. Add the first tablespoon of dressing to the bag and inflate it while shutting it. You should have a balloon effect. Shake the bag vigorously to distribute the salad dressing evenly. Remove the salad from the bag into a bowl large enough to hold the entire salad. Mix the second tablespoon of salad dressing with the chicken and set on top of the salad. Chill the salad if necessary and eat. Alternatively, you can place the chicken in the zip bag with the salad and both tablespoons of dressing, shake, and remove. The chicken will be distributed into the salad.

Meal 2: Mix the chopped chicken with one or two tablespoons of your favorite salsa. For chicken, I recommend a salsa verde with extra lime on the side for a lighter and brighter flavor. Heat it slowly on the stove or in the microwave. While it’s heating, heat up a large flour tortilla, and chopped about a half cup to a cup of lettuce. If you want it, grate some cheese, too. Some people don’t like cheese with chicken. Also, cilantro can be added to the lettuce if your tastes go that way. When everything is ready, and the tortilla is warm and pliable, add everything to the tortilla and fold or roll is up. Eat while everything is warm.

Meal 3: Put the chopped chicken in a small bowl and add about a tablespoon of mayonnaise. If desired, add some chopped boiled egg, some parmesan cheese, some dill pickle relish, and some finely chopped celery. Chill to firm the mixture, then spread generously between two pieces of bread, toasted or not.

Meal 4: Shred about a cup of lettuce, half a medium tomato, and any other salad style veggies you prefer to equal about two cups of filling. Prepare a large sandwich wrap so it’s pliable. Spread the chopped chicken in a line across the middle. Arrange the veggies on top of the chicken using all of it. Drizzle with oil and vinegar, or Italian dressing. Fold or roll the sandwich wrap to contain all the ingredients. Chill for a half hour or so, or eat immediately. Depends on how hungry you are.

Meal 5: Boil a half cup of shaped pasta (shaped works better but you can use noodles of any kind if you prefer.) Drain the pasta and allow it cool. Put the pasta in a medium bowl. Add 2-3 tablespoons of your favorite salad dressing and stir to mix completely. Add 1/4 cup of shredded cheese, chopped nuts, sunflower seeds, and various favorite vegetables. Stir to mix and chill for half an hour. Spoon into a serving bowl for one, sprinkle with a small amount of lemon juice, and serve.

So, Karen, I hope you enjoyed this post and let me know if tried any of the above chicken recipes.

As always,

*”Karen” is a friend of mine from high school. We’ve never really been out of contact. She recently developed some manageable health issues and asked if I’d give her some basic lessons. Her constant refrain is “I wish I liked cooking! I would be so much better for me.” I then come up with quick and easy recipes off the cuff and she raves about them while we’re talking, but never remembers them later. Same with technique, and ingredients, etc. That’s why I started the Karen posts.

Post #857 Short Update

May 3, 2022 at 10:00 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Sorry it’s been so long since my last update. I’ve been having continuing back problems since early last week. I took a muscle relaxant to help last week which knocked me out for two and a half days. That’s normal for me. I react strongly to medications. I was feeling so much better I moved furniture and went on a hike over the weekend. Of course, now I’m miserable. I have an “already scheduled” appointment for the doctor tomorrow so I don’t want to take anything stronger than Tylenol. I’m off my feet and on a heating pad trying to keep from screaming in pain. Moving is very difficult. I’ve got some new recipes to try out and to share so once this back is in shape and I can stand for longer than two minutes I’ll be more active on the blog.

On the plus side, I found my old Apple Watch and spent literally all afternoon yesterday charging and re-synching it to my phone. I don’t wear watches usually, but I’ve been wanting to recently so I was glad I found it.

Here’s some pics from the hike. I’ll close for now. I’ll let you know what happens at the doc’s.

Take care and Enjoy!

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