Recipe Rescue – what’s in your pantry?

2015 baby it's cold outsideI’m a lazy cook in the winter.  When I’m thinking of something for dinner I hope I have most of the stuff in the house, and it needs to be low-fat, low sodium, and it better darn well taste good.  Accidentally I found a wonderful Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup based on Alicia over at Posie Gets Cozy recommendation.  I don’t mind telling you, WOW was it good, even after I de-fatted it and low sodium-ed it.

Before I ventured into the kitchen I read the recipe over.  I determined I could customize it to my needs, no have to leave the house, AND I had most of the ingredients in the pantry and fridge.

So what does a lazy cook have in the pantry and fridge to help make meals work?  Boneless skinless roasted chicken breast already cooked and vacuumed packed at Costco.  Garlic that’s been skinned already – I get that at Caputos – it’s probably $1.69 for 5 heads that have been shucked.   Success brown rice where you just boil in a bag, or in this case in the broth.  Aldi’s low sodium chicken broth.  Petite carrots, celery that’s been cleaned and stored.  Onions already cleaned and stored in the fridge.  Skim milk just waiting to be used in any recipe.  Half and half, oh I know, but it’s not heavy cream!  (Just think, if I did as the recipe said – using whole milk and heavy cream – it’d be like overdosing.)  Um, I did use butter, so kill me.  The only thing I didn’t have, dried rosemary but I used Poultry Seasoning instead.  I always have lemons and limes in the fruit bowl, so that wasn’t a problem but to my surprise a little lemon zest in this soup was simply AMAZING.

I did however use the flour to make the roux, but I believe we could gluten free this baby by using cornstarch.  Next time I’ll get out that yellow Arrow tub and try it.

So here goes:  This recipe was originally from – you’re welcome.2015 lighter creamy chicken soup


  • 1 package Success brown rice, no, it’s not wild rice
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced (If it’s a sweet onion, I use only half the onion.)
  • 1 cup carrots, diced (10-12 petite carrots)
  • 1 cup celery, diced (3 stalks)
  • 7 T butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 32 oz low-sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp marjoram
  • 1/8 tsp ground sage
  • ¼ tsp Poultry seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ cups of diced roasted chicken breast
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 ½ cups skim milk
  • ½ cup half n half
  • 1 tsp lemon zest


In a Dutch oven melt 1 T butter over medium heat.  Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic and saute until slightly tender.  Add broth, thyme, marjoram, sage, poultry seasoning and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Add the rice to reconstitute it.  Cook for about 10 minutes. Then add the chicken.

In a separate pan melt the remainder of the butter over medium heat.  Add flour and cook till well mixed, whisking constantly.  In a two cup liquid measure add the milks together.   Slowly pour milk mixture into the butter mixture while you continue to whisk (I know it’s difficult but keeping going).  Cook the mixture stirring constantly until it thickens.  Pour this mixture into the soup stirring to get everything mixed.

You’ll probably need to add about ½ cup of water as the soup starts to thicken.    Keep stirring as it could burn on the bottom.  When you have this beautiful soup all finished just use your rasp and a clean lemon and zest away.  YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE YOUR TASTE BUDS.  Never did I believe this would really enhance the flavor of the soup.  Fantastic.

When everything was mixed I turned the soup off and put the lid on it to wait till dinner.  Took me about 30 minutes from beginning to end.

One more thing, I believe that marjoram is the oft forgotten herb.  I’d forgotten how good it tastes in soups and stews.

So there you go.  Lovely dinner – thanks so much my friend Alicia from Posie Gets Cozy.  I do find great dinner ideas on your site.

Why am I in Exercise Pain hell?

2015 LEG DA YYou just started working out, or you’ve been at this a long time and you feel great till that evening, or next morning, or even two days later, when you can barely lift your body after you’ve consumed the requisite daily allowance of Ibuprofen.  What is it?  What happened?

As my trainers have explained with a hearty chuckle, it’s Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).  As Christine Yu, Life by DailyBurn, points out in an article she wrote for CNN, she references an exercise scientist from the University of New Mexico, Mike Johns, “DOMS is muscle soreness that becomes evident six-to-eight hours following activity, peaking around 24 to 48 hours post-training.”   While the symptoms will often start to diminish at about 72 hours, “the precise time course and extent of DOMS is highly variable,” Mike says.”

GREAT, you say?  Why does it hurt so much?

“You’re doing something new that you haven’t done in some time, you’ve increased the intensity, or volume.”

For those who like aggression workouts, yep, you’re gonna hurt.

The article goes on to say that you get better as you continue.    I didn’t know this but DOMS is most often associated with “eccentric contraction — where the muscle lengthens as it contracts – [according to Mike]. This includes movements such as running downhill, lowering weights or lowering down into a squat or push-up position.”

Christine also goes on to write about the five myths associate with DOMS. The article goes into deep detail, and for all of us it’s a good read, and helps us to understand what the heck is going on, as well as keep us on track to stay in the gym.

Why did I write about this? Because I always get sore, especially on leg day.   Soreness can be extremely disappointing to novices when they hurt.  It discourages them, AND advocates, from continuing. As you push past the soreness, and that’s exactly what it is – soreness, you’ll get better AND stronger.

This is an excellent article.  When you give yourself the gift of knowledge it can make the difference in what you choose to do and help you do it wisely.

Just an update:  My Trainer Randy shared an article regarding DOMS and legs.  It’s from the Fitness & Muscle online site “Faster Muscle Recovery – to minimize leg soreness and maximize recovery, start pedaling!”   Yesterday I did a “Bodypump” round which works your entire muscle system (high reps, low weights), that included squats in variations – as best that I can do.  I rode the bike for 20 minutes at 80 rpms, not killing myself.  My knees were sore later, but that overall soreness in the legs was minimized.  Of course this morning I feel it in my shoulders and arms.  Working up a sweat didn’t kill anyone, intentionally.

Great Winter Soup Poor Mans Minestrone

I2014 Poor Mans Minestrone received this recipe from Getufit guru Irene Kok who is a personal trainer in Huntley.  She has a large following and runs a fitness business.  She’s quite the marathoner and loves to post on Facebook many of her recipes.  Many are really excellent.  I encourage you to like her on Facebook.  You’ll be amazed at what she does.

I’ve made this soup a few times because it is just so good and light on the calories.  I slimmed it down on the sodium so you can adjust to your needs with salt.  On the links you’ll see that I use WalMart and Aldi brands.  You would be amazed at the deliberate concentration they’ve made to provide healthier options to customers.  Of course you’re reading nutritional labels making your trip at the store a wee bit longer than normal.  Once you find your favorites, it is so much easier to pick up and go.  Or your hubby to pick up and go.

Poor Man’s Minestrone

A2014 Poor Mans Minestone 2ccording to directions on the ditalini package, prepare the noodles to be added to the soup later.

In a Dutch oven brown the ground beef, onion, and garlic with the olive oil.  Add the stock, frozen veggies, beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, and Mrs. Dash.   Stir to get the paste dissolved.  Taste the broth mixture and then salt to taste.  Add the Thyme, basil and pepper.

Simmer mixture for at least 20 minutes.  Add the cooked and drained ditalini.  Simmer for 15 more minutes.

Makes a LOT and it’s delicious.  Store in plastic containers.  Can be frozen.  I use the containers you see on Ina Garten’s show and they come from Casandra’s Kitchen.  These are my favorite and they last forever.  To have left overs, I add a little beef stock to the soup because it has a tendency to thicken up.

Open House and Holiday Party Drinks

It’s been a while since I did recipes but a friend reached out to Facebook friends for their favorite holiday drinks.  I remember making these many times and they’re all delicious and potent.  Especially the Open House Punch.  I’d suggest a holiday key bowl to collect keys from attendees or have a shuttle available.

2014 Open House PunchThis first one, Open House Punch, holy Christmas y’all.  It’s potent AND delicious.

  • 1 fifth Southern Comfort
  • 3 qts. 7 up
  • 6 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 6oz can frozen lemonade
  • 6 oz can frozen orange juice

This will be going into a 64 oz Punch Bowl.

Defrost the frozen concentrates.  Add all the ingredients into the punch bowl and stir until all the ingredients are well mixed.  Add ice or create decorative ice cubes by freezing maraschino cherries, or lemon slices, or orange slices.   This recipe calls for 7 Up but I’m a Sprite fan.  I think any lemon lime soda will work well.  You could also use diet soda.

2014 Freezer slushThe next part drink was my Aunt Mary Jeans favorite for the holidays.  She called it Freezer Slush.  This does not require a punch bowl but you should have a very large food storage container with a lid.

  • 4 c water
  • 1 c strong tea
  • 1 6 oz frozen orange juice, thawed
  • 1 6oz frozen lemonade, thawed
  • 1 1/2 c bourbon of choice
  • 1/4 c. sugar

Mix all these ingredients into the plastic container and place in the freezer.  Mix occasionally.  This needs to be in the freezer for at least 24 hours to make the slush work.

To create a drink, fill a glass 1/2 full of the slush mixture and add 7 UP or Sprite.  Add garnishes.

2014 Max and ermas sangriaI love Sangria and this one is fantastic at holiday time.  It’s from Max and Ermas.  I really enjoyed it and asked the bartender for the recipe.

  • 1 6 oz frozen orange juice, thawed
  • 1 6 oz frozen lemonade, thawe
  • 1 bottle of Sutter Home Merlot
  • 1/2 c Bar Syrup
  • Triple sec
  • Sprite
  • Limes cut in wedges
  • Lemons in small slices

In a large plastic pitcher add the orange juice, lemonade, wine, and bar Syrup.  Mix all to these together.  Keep refrigerated.

To prepare the drink:  in a rocks glass add ice.  Squeeze two lime wedges over the ice then add 1/2 a glass of sangria, a splash of Triple sec, and the remainder with Sprite.  Stir.  Add garnishes.MY FAV.  T’die for!

2014 Egg NogThis Egg Nog recipe is very close to Fred Haun’s, use to be my hubby’s boss years ago, recipe.  I just couldn’t believe how much stuff was in the recipe.  I just know it was out of this world good.  This one is very similar and comes from Esquire.  This is the exact recipe from Esquire – I did not write this.

  • 12 egg(s)
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 pint cognac
  • 1/2 pint dark rum
  • 1 pint milk
  • 1/2 pint heavy cream
  • nutmeg

Separate the eggs, putting aside the whites for the moment. Beat the yolks strenuously, slowly adding in the granulated sugar. Continue at tempo until the sugar is entirely dissolved. Slowly pour in the cognac, stirring all the while. Follow with the rum. Pouring the liquor into the yolks has the effect of cooking them more lovingly than any stove could. Now stir in the milk and heavy cream. (The cream may be whipped, but this makes the result a bit rich, so to some tastes, plain cream is preferable.)

Clean off the egg-beating equipment and go at the whites until they will stand without toppling. Fold the whites into the general mixture, then stir in grated nutmeg. If the outcome is too sweet to suit your taste, splash about a little extra cognac (or a lot, if Aunt Henrietta isn’t watching too closely). This will serve about 10 people. For convenience’s sake, some people make this eggnog the day before the party and put it in the refrigerator. Parked there — or even on the pantry windowsill — it will keep perfectly for several days if air-tight glass jars are used.

So enjoy y’all.

That mind thing

2013 devil“Your body can stand almost anything, it’s your mind you have to convince.”

Not going to lie, it’s tough mentally to come back from an injury.  {Fell on backside at work – it’s taken three to four weeks to feel normal.}  What was easy is now a mental challenge.  It’s that constant battle of quitting or continuing that’s going on in your head at lightening speed.  Back and forth, like a video game, because you can’t focus on what needs to be done.  I HATE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I just want it, my mind, to shut up and go along with the program.

I’d been doing a 30 minute program on the stationary bike for cardio days.  Today was the first day back trying to physically complete that routine.  Even after the injury I’d bike normally without the high intensity intervals.   Twelve minutes in today and my mind is telling me, “Get off this Machine!!!!!!”.  It’s flipping hot in the gym, too many people around me, not enough water to last, will my legs make it, –just every stupid thing there was crossed my mind.

I made it to 21 minutes then hopped on the treadmill for 15 with 20 push ups every 3 minutes.   I wasn’t going to give up on the rest of the cardio plan.

Well, honestly, it wasn’t just the injury that’s been weighing on my workouts.  My Trainer has opened his own studio.  It’s called CrossKicks.   I’m so proud of him.  He is such an elite trainer.  But it’s a devastating blow to go in one day and find out that he’s not there.  Here’s a man whom has helped me to gain the strength in my legs to walk normal, or as close to normal as possible.  I’ve always encouraged him to create his life, in fact I lent him a book on entrepreneurial people some time ago because I saw in him the ability to do more.

I need to be more resilient in many aspects of what I do.  Today’s challenge was a test, while I didn’t make it to 30 on the bike, I switched it over to the treadmill and was then rescued by Dippin Doggies when Daisy was finished.  I burned 330 calories, 30% fat, in 43 minutes.  I’ll take it.  Lets just kick that little red devil in the butt a few times and see how she likes it, eh?

How busy can a quilt guild really be?

When looking for a place to live and raise our families we seek out communities that have opportunities for a better quality of life.   What does that mean?  Well, it could mean what matters to us most might be better schools, shorter commute time, a local swimming pool, youth sports, good churches, growing economy, better government, better roads, a good library system, social service clubs, or even a quilt guild.  I’m fairly certain that last one wasn’t on too many radars, but it is mine.

2014 sewing7The Algonquin Guild had a challenge this year to create baby blankets for the NICU unit at Advocate Sherman Hospital.  It is always our mission for our philanthropic work to create these quilts every year, but this year we may have gone over the top a little.  The challenge was to bring a full yard of fabric already cut into 2 1/2″ strips and share them with other members of the guild.  We were then to take our strips home and create a baby blanket for November’s meeting.  I think we did a pretty good job of it.  Out of the 27 members that participated in the challenge 23 baby blankets were returned.  GET OUT you say? Take a good look at these…and these.2014 sewing8

I should note that we will be giving them around 70 baby blankets this year.  That’s just fantastic.

This had to be one of our most productive evenings.  That lovely “Great American Quilt” that I’ve been writing about, we pulled the ticket and one of our own members won.  That doesn’t happen often.  Carlene Mueller won.  She is one of our most ardent quilters.  She has approximately 40 years of quilting and 20 years in the guild.   We love to see her applique work.  2014 sewing10

2014 sewing9We also had the opportunity to learn how to do hand quilting.  Three of our members showed us how to quilt by hand.  A bit thank you to Sue, Carol and Carlene.

Last but not least our Block of the Month we are doing with Blogger Girls II.  We adding the setting blocks next.  Tough little “line-me-up” matey project but sure looks nice.  Lookin pretty fancy I’d say.2014 sewing6

All said, it was a very productive meeting.  If you’re interested in joining we meet the fourth Thursday of the month.  Our new year starts in January and we meet at the Algonquin Congregational church.  Check us out on Facebook  (that’s us on the cover page with the baby blankets) or visit our site


Totes Galore

2014 MissMary Tote9A friend asked me to make a special tote.  I had her pick out the fabric and then asked her to look at all the shoppers and totes I’ve made over the years to see what style she would prefer. We played with the fabric and then came up with the style that seemed appropriate for the young lady.  My friend also picked out the stabilizer and batting.

Fabric for shoppers can be beautiful and expensive.  Some run around $11.00/yard and depending on what I make, could be 3 yards of material before we do t2014 MissMary Tote10he labor.  It is what it is.

If you want a sturdy shopper, Hobby Lobby(HB) carries heavy duty twill in solid colors only.  HB carries a beautiful cream color twill that I like to use often.  It goes well with most colors.

The fabric dictated the design.   I made much deeper pockets all around the bag.  I used a little gray material I had to contrast the inside of the shopper pockets so they’d stand out a little.  Look!  The tote stands up by itself.  That’s due to the batting and the weight of the fabric.

I2014 MissMary Tote3‘ve changed up how I make the straps when I’m not sewing them along the front pocket.  It’s a lot easier and they’re much sturdier.2014 MissMary Tote4

For some reason this bag called out for closures.  I haven’t made them in awhile so I always have to go back and find a pattern piece then determine the best way to add them.  The questions I ask are, should I sew it into the seam or onto the fabric?  How will that affect the top-stitching detail when I’m finished? I chose stitching it into the seam which made it much easier to top-stitch at the end.

2014 MissMary Tote 1

I toyed with not adding an inside pocket due to the four pockets on the outside already.  But, pockets are always welcome.

I have to find a better way to sew the plastic bottom in.  The fabric, batting and stabilizers make it very difficult to sew.  In fact I’ve broken a few needles trying to do so. 2014 MissMary Tote7

My daughter suggested large buttons an added detail.  Chrissy always sees details that I sometimes do not.  So, I headed to Joanne’s to find buttons to complement the chevron straps.  Well, there are SO MANY different colors of peach/apricot/ you-name-it that I couldn’t find one that would work well.  Sad face.  2014 MissMary Tote8

In the end it turned out cute.  I think this style would make a nice tote for moms with new babies.  They’re always hauling stuff.

With the cooler weather coming I’m back in the sewing room.  I have to finish out Monique Dillard’s  Block of the Month for the Algonquin Quilters Guild, I have my baby  blanket challenge to finish for Advocate Sherman Hospitals Nicu unit, AND a few baby things for newborns.

It’s fall Y’all.



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