Family News and Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Three weeks have passed since I last posted here. I can’t believe it has been that long! I seriously try to write more frequently, but it seems like 3 weeks is the norm these days! Here is what’s been happening on the home front.

Last week we did indeed get the freezing temperatures that I was afraid of. Most of the gorgeous blossoms that I showed in the previous post froze when our spring-like temperatures dropped into the 20s for several nights in a row. Our plum trees had bloomed a few weeks earlier than the peaches and were already showing tiny plums. They also froze and turned black in the freezing temperatures.

We had a bridal shower for Ben’s lady. I am so glad my sister was able to come for it! And we had a birthday party for Little Miss Mia’s daddy! She really wanted to blow out all the candles by herself, so he had to discourage her!

But the best news of all was that my girl’s man came home safely from his deployment! I just love this picture!

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Now for the recipe! I had never made stuffed chicken breast before this try, and the guys loved it! It was not as hard as I had thought it might be. I didn’t follow a recipe, but just went by what I have read online about stuffed chicken breasts. I am sure that there are people out there who know tricks to make it easier!

  • 3-4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2-3 tbsp. heavy cream
  • several large hands full of fresh spinach (sorry! I didn’t measure!)
  • salt and pepper
  • 12-16 slices of bacon

Carefully slice open the chicken breasts making a small pocket in the side of each.Be careful not to slice all the way through. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the two cheeses and the heavy cream and mix well. Lightly steam the spinach to soften. Squeeze all the moisture out of the spinach and stir it into the cheese mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into the chicken breasts. Wrap each chicken breast with bacon, using about 3 slices per piece of chicken. The amount of bacon will depend on the size of each chicken breast. Place wrapped chicken in a slightly oiled pan. Bake at 350 degrees until juices are no longer pink and the bacon looks crispy, about 40 minutes. Again, baking time will depend upon the size of the chicken breasts. Thicker pieces will require longer baking time. Serve with a green salad on the side!

 

 

 

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Vegetable Chicken Soup

I’m finally back writing an entry on the blog! I can’t believe that it has been about 3 weeks since I last posted. It is partly because we have been enjoying a wonderful spring this winter! Seriously! I know that the groundhog saw his shadow, and thus said that we would have 6 more weeks of winter, but he totally forgot to tell the birds, the bees, and the flowering trees! The song birds have been serenading us every morning for weeks now, and all our fruit trees are blooming! The last time we had such an early spring was in 2007. That ended disastrously when we had 3 nights of killer frost in mid-April. We lost all our fruits that year!

My sweet little grand girl has been practicing to be flower girl at her Opal Gen’s (Uncle Ben’s) wedding in July.

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And sweet Little Man has learned to sit up all by himself!

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Now about that recipe… Many people here in my area of the south have been sick lately. Thankfully, the sickness has not found my house! One of my friends was sick last week, so I decided to make her some chicken soup. Since I had some extra veggies in the fridge, I added them to the mix as well. A few spices added in made it a very tasty soup!

1 quart chicken broth

1-2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced

1 large carrot, peeled and diced

1/2 medium onion, diced

4-5 medium sized mushrooms, cut in fourths

1 c. or so of cut green beans (I used fresh ones, but canned would be fine)

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 tsp. each  turmeric, chili powder, garlic powder (use whatever spices you desire!)

Combine everything except the chicken in a large pot and bring the broth to a boil. Simmer until the veggies are tender. Add the chicken and heat through. Check flavor for spices and adjust to your own desires.

Gluten-Free Vegetable Broth

The last few days and weeks have been busy! We’ve enjoyed the many moods of  winter in the south with temperature swings from 21 degrees the other morning to 70+ degrees this week. We’ve had sunshine, wind, and now rain tonight.

My girl sent me this adorable picture of the little man the other day! He is just so squeezable!

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Several weeks ago I saw a clip come across my Facebook feed that showed what to do with vegetable scraps…other than tossing them out or composting them. I decided to give it a try…just to experiment, you know!

It is really very easy. Every time you cut up veggies or pare them, keep the scraps in a one-gallon freezer bag and toss it back into the freezer. My bag had everything from carrot peelings and broccoli to mushroom pieces and onion skins.  When the bag is full, empty it into a large stock pot and add water, just enough to cover the scraps. You can  also add some minced garlic if there is none in the scraps.

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Bring the water to a boil and let it simmer for about 45 minutes. Once the veggie scraps are soft and tender,  strain the mixture and toss out the scraps!

At this point, you could add salt, pepper and other seasonings, but it is not necessary. Pour broth into jars or freezer bags to keep in the fridge or freezer. Be sure to note if you will need to add salt or other seasons before you use your broth. I went through my fridge for other leftovers and created a hearty stew for lunch!

Low-Carb, Gluten-Free “Tater” Tots

So here we are in the third week of January…already! In some ways January always goes slowly for me. Even though the days are getting longer, to me,  January seems like a dark and dreary month. Having cold, rainy, cloudy days lately hasn’t helped! It doesn’t matter if the temperatures have been reaching for 70…if it is rainy, it is dreary and depressing!

But in spite of the weather, I’ve had happy family moments. This happened the other day! I love how these pictures  turned out! Can’t wait to make some prints.

On Friday (another dreary, rainy day), the hubby walked in the door with these! Day was made!

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Ben had to leave yesterday for AF training, and he won’t be back until the end of May…saddness! However, he tends to make the best of things, and the other day he had fun with Little Miss Mia.

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I made this basket out of old t-shirts about 2 years ago. Mia uses it for some of her toys and books. Ben decided it would be a great pack for carrying Mia! She was thrilled! Yesterday afternoon when she and her parents arrived for Sunday dinner, Mia walked in the front door and announced, “Hello, Nemmie! I’m home!” I tell ya, my heart just melted!

Yesterday afternoon I got to FaceTime with the Little Man! He is so adorable! I can’t believe that he will be 6 months old soon! I didn’t take a picture of him while we were FaceTiming because I am not skilled at doing that. (Last time I tried it, I cut off the person I was FT with!) However, Barbi shared this picture of him a week or so ago. He is getting chunky!

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For dinner tonight I realized that I needed to use some cauliflower that I had in the fridge. I searched through some of my THM recipes and decided to create my own version of tater tots. If you follow THM or other low-carb eating styles, you already know that cauliflower can be used in place of potatoes. These made a great side dish for salmon and a green salad!

  • 1/2 large head of cauliflower
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 2-1/2 tbsp. almond flour (add more if mixture is too wet)
  • 3/4 tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder (or to taste)
  • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese

Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces and place in sauce pan with a small amount of water. Bring to a boil and gently cook until fork-tender. Drain the cauliflower, and then squeeze it to remove excess water. **Take the time to do this! You want to get rid of as much moisture as possible! I actually got an extra cup of water from mine after I had drained it! Use cheese cloth or a strainer…whichever works for you.

Chop the cauliflower into tiny pieces. You can mash it or put it into a food processor and gently grind it. DO NOT over-process!

Put the cauliflower into a mixing bowl and add all the other ingredients. Season to taste, adding more spices if needed.

Using an ice cream scoop, shape the mixture into balls. Heat coconut oil in a large skillet and fry balls until golden brown.

This makes about 10 “tater” tots

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Chocolate Smoothie with a Twist

Happy New Year and welcome to 2017! I know, I know…I am 12 days late on that greeting, but at least I’m here now writing a new post!

Last weekend we experienced winter. And it is now over and spring is here, at least for a few days. We had ice, snow, and sub-freezing temperatures for 3 days last week. Today, we are pushing 72 degrees! Tomorrow should be the same as today; Saturday will drop down into the 50s, but then we should have about a week or so with temps in the mid-60s every day! I just love life in the south!

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I sort of fell off the proper eating path over the holidays when the hubby and others who shall be nameless brought delicious tasting, but oh-so-bad-for-you foods into the house! I am working hard at getting the sugars out of my system and eating right once again.

Although I was brought up in the south, there are some southern foods that I just never got a taste for. Black-eyed peas and collard greens make a traditional New Year’s Day meal, but not in my house! Okra is another southern staple that I just never enjoyed. However, now that I am trying to eat the Trim Healthy Mama way, I have discovered the health benefits of this southern veggie. If you are like me and need a little convincing that okra really is good for you, then read this article. You will be impressed!

The new THM cookbook has a few recipes in it using okra. I have made the brownies with it and was very impressed. Last week I discovered the chocolate smoothie! If you have the cookbook, you will find the recipe on page 415. Today I added a few drops of peppermint essential oil. Oh, my word! Ya’ll, this is amazing! If you didn’t know that there is a cup of okra in the smoothie, you would never guess it! I like it so much better with the peppermint than without!

Since I did change up the recipe some, I will share it with you here.

  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. frozen, diced okra (I actually thawed mine some.)
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2-1/2 tbsp. Pyure sweetener
  • 1 tsp. coconut oil, melted
  • 3-4 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 10 ice cubes
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder

Put everything in the blender except the ice and protein powder. I added the peppermint oil to the coconut oil first, and then added it to the remaining ingredients. Blend well…very well! Add the ice and blend again. Add the protein powder last and blend one more time.

Give it a try! You won’t be disappointed!

She Said, “Yes!”

No recipe with this post, just good news from my 2Lt and Citadel grad! We are super excited to announce that there will be a wedding in 2017!

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I’m thankful to Julia’s mom for sharing this reenactment picture of the proposal!

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As we close 2016, we look forward to the blessings coming in 2017. We will now have a wedding as well as a new grandbaby!

And I promise new recipes will be coming in 2017, too!

Cranberry Apple Pie

Hello, and welcome to the Christmas season! I can’t believe that it has been a month since I wrote my last blog post! These last few weeks have just flown by, and now Christmas is just a week away.

This post is #400! It has taken almost 6 years to get this far, but I have persevered and have  had 22,760 views to the blog in that time. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get to 23,000 by the end of 2016!

I love Christmas, but I am also often a sentimental puddle of mush during the season. My fondest memories of my dad are from Christmas. I miss him the most during this season. Actually, I miss my mom, dad, and brother the most during Christmas.

Christmas will be a little strange since there will be only 3 of us together. Our family of 10 going on 11 will be spread out from Chicago to Philadelphia to Orlando this year. However, I am very thankful that I had 9 of our 10-almost-11 here at Thanksgiving! This is what life is all about! We spend years training our kids to become independent adults, capable of surviving life without us! It is such a blessing to see our kids marry and become parents and begin new traditions with their own little families! I have two favorite passages of Scripture concerning children. One has also been my mother-in-law’s favorite…Isaiah 54:13–“All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children.”  The other is verse 4 of the little 3rd epistle of John–“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”  If these are true of my children, then I feel that I was a successful mom, for this is what matters most!

Here are a few pictures that we had taken at Thanksgiving.

Now to this amazing pie recipe! Tomorrow evening we are having our special Lessons and Carols service at church. We always have a fellowship time after this service, and this year we are all supposed to bring side dishes and desserts. I had an extra bag of fresh cranberries that I needed to use, so I did a little searching for a cranberry pie. I found one on the Food Network web page that sounded really good! As usual, I made some changes by adding apples and using pecans instead of walnuts.  It is not THM-friendly, but could easily be adapted. Delicious!!

  • 2 c. fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used 1/3 cup Truvia baking blend)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Topping:

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. almond extract

Spray a 10-inch pie pan to prevent sticking. Spread the cranberries in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with chopped pecans and sugar. Let sit while mixing the topping.

Cream the butter with the eggs and sugar. Add the flour and almond extract to the mixture until blended. This mixture will be thick. Spread the topping over the cranberries and nuts. Be sure to seal the edges. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

Serve warm with whipped topping or ice cream!

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