Friday, October 28, 2011

Sundried Tomato Chicken and Broccoli Soup

NOTE:  I accidentally highlighted the text, and now I can't  figure out how to get rid of the highlights.  If anyone knows, PLEASE tell me!!

Since I have been on this diet (more of a lifestyle change, actually), I have been trying to come up with creative ways to make delicious foods that are actually good for me.  A few months ago, I made a creamy chicken and broccoli soup that Patrick really liked.  Because I LOVE making and eating soup, I decided to make a practically carb-free, fat-free version.

I had a bunch of people over for soup, and I made a savory chicken noodle and this "diet" soup.  The diet soup was even more popular than the chicken noodle!

I thought that I would share the recipe here because who isn't looking for the next deliciously healthy meal?  Everything here is approximated, though, because I always throw in a little of this and a little of that and never bother measuring.

3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1-2 bags of frozen broccoli (depending on how thick you want the soup) slightly thawed
2 large onions
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (I keep a big jar in my refrigerator)
5 tablespoons or more sun-dried tomato paste (I get the kind in oil with garlic and spices)
Adobo without pepper
Italian Seasoning
Dash of crushed red pepper
Grated (NOT shredded) Parmesan or Peccorino Romano cheese

Put the onions through a food processor until they are chopped finely.
Put them in your soup pot(s).
Throw in the chopped/minced garlic.
Add chicken breasts and cover with enough water for your soup broth.
*Note: I use two medium pots and put half of the chicken and onions in each.  It takes less time to cook and it's easier than fishing the chicken out of a huge pot later.
Generously add spices and boil until the chicken is tender.
*Note: It is important to be generous because there is no fat to flavor the broth.  I always put in a lot while the chicken cooks and then add more as the soup simmers throughout the day.
Once the chicken is tender, remove it from the pot and fork it apart.
Put back into pot and turn the heat down to medium low.
Put the frozen broccoli into the food processor and chop until very fine.
Note: When the broccoli is finely chopped and then cooked, it almost gives the consistency and taste of rice in the soup!  All nutrients/veggies and no carbs!
Put the broccoli in the pot.
Add the sun-dried tomato paste and mix.  (BE GENEROUS WITH THIS!!)
Let simmer for a while, then taste.
Add in more spices to taste.  I use a LOT of Adobo, and it gives the soup a very savory taste!
Stir in several tablespoons of grated cheese (the cheese should look like powder).
Let simmer all day.  Taste throughout and see if you need to add in more spice.

Ladle into bowls and top with a sprinkle of grated cheese.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thankfulness. Please Share!

Today, I am most thankful for my __________ with ___________ because ______________:

If any readers would, I thought it would be fun to share something for which you are thankful in a relationship with someone.  Whether it's a friendship, marriage, family relationship, etc., we all have little things for which we are grateful.  So, begin by stating your relationship, the name of the person for which you are giving thanks, and then give the reason why you are thankful.  It can be something large or small!

Today, I am most thankful for my marriage with Patrick because his warm feet keep my cold ones from freezing at night.  

*My feet are always super-duper cold.  When I have to get up in the middle of the night to feed the baby, they get even more chilled!  I'm always grateful that I can go and warm up my toes by Patrick's when I get back to bed!  It sounds silly, but that was my #1 thought this morning when I went back to bed at 4 AM!  I thanked God for a loving husband who didn't kick me away when I tried to warm up!

Monday, October 24, 2011

For His Own Sake

Our little family is finally home from 10 days of house/dog sitting.  It was so wonderful to finally be back in my own  bed with my own pillows . . . with as fussy as I am, I can't believe that I FORGOT to bring my own pillows.  As it was, I discovered late Saturday night that somehow my favorite pillow had been switched with Patrick's main pillow (in matching cases).  Poor Patrick kept trying to get me to move onto my own side of the bed because I kept trying to keep my head on MY pillow!  The minute he got up to go to the bathroom the next morning, I grabbed what was mine and did a swap.

As I was flipping through my Bible last night in search of a marked passage, I came across Isaiah 43:25.

I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.

In this verse, God is pleading with Israel, His unfaithful child.  Before this, He reminds them of their many sins, of the ways that they have fallen short of His commands.  Then, God writes this verse before speaking again of the blessings that He will pour out upon those who love Him.

It is so easy to become wrapped up in our own, self-centered lives.  Modern Christianity often seems to promote this with the "all about you" gospel.  You choose God.  You decide to be holy.  You deserve God's love because obviously you don't deserve hell.

What is it that God says here, though?  HE blots out our transgressions.  For our own sake?  So that we can get to heaven?  No.  None of these reasons are listed.  He does it for His own sake.  For His own glory.

How small that makes me feel, yet how thankful I am for His promise.  He will not remember my sins.  He has blotted out my transgressions.  For His own sake.  Though this is humbling, it causes me to realize that His own sake is much bigger than my own sake.  That thought is comforting, as are the promises found just a few verses later in chapter 44 (verses 1-5).

"Yet hear now, O Jacob My servant, and Israel whom I have chosen.  Thus says the Lord who made you and formed you from the womb, who will help you:

'Fear not, O Jacob My servant; and you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.  For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring.  They will spring up among the grass like willows by the watercourses.'

One will say, 'I am the Lord's' ; another will call himself by the name of Jacob; another will write with his hand, 'The Lord's,' and name himself by the name of Israel."

Whom the Lord has chosen, He will bless.  Whom the Lord has chosen, He has promised blessings upon their offspring.  Whom the Lord has chosen, he will be called by the name of the Lord.

How much better it is to have been chosen than to have chosen.  Since all things are for the sake of the Chooser, how wonderful will all things be in the end for how glorious is He who has blotted out and forgotten the sins of his chosen.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Win Some, Lose Some

Last week, Natalie started to giggle.  It sounded kind of like a duck coughing, but they were definitely giggles.  Today, despite being very clinging, not napping, and wanting to eat constantly, she laughed for the first time without being tickled.  I was singing to her and she just erupted into giggles.  It was one of the few bright spots in my day (I think she's going through a growth spurt . . . she's not sleeping at night, so neither am I).

Throughout the  day, I kept putting her on her  back.  I have been waiting for this kid to start rolling over, and I tried (yet again) to show her how to do it.  She was stubborn.  No go.

As soon as I began to make dinner, what does the little stinker do?  She rolls over for Daddy!  Not fair!  I've been trying for a month to get her to roll over, but he just lays her down on the bed and she does it.

I suppose that I should not begrudge this "first" to Patrick since I get to stay home with Natalie during the day.  Still, I can't believe that she held out on me! 

Monday, October 3, 2011

No Trifling Matter

Yesterday was a special day: it was Natalie's baptism and Patrick's birthday.  In an effort to get our home "company ready," I spent most of last week cleaning, scrubbing, straitening, and shopping.  By Saturday, my house looked good.  Really good.  Dust bunnies were banished, stains were bleached away, and my parquet floors sparkled.

Most of my Saturday was spent cooking.  I made a huge pot of chicken noodle soup and two smaller pots of sun-dried tomato chicken and broccoli soup (practically fat and carb free!).  Three burners were on at once as I juggled a hungry baby, movers coming in to deliver our new bed and a recliner, chicken that needed to be picked, and my ever-full mug of coffee.  I was covered in spit-up and home made chicken stock.

Once the soups were cooked and stored safely in the refrigerator, I knew that I still had to make Patrick's birthday cake.  His request?  Orange cake with an orange cream cheese icing.  Unfortunately, it was nearing bedtime and my kitchen was a mess.  FACT: I CANNOT COOK OR BAKE IN A MESSY KITCHEN.

It would have been so much easier to whip the cake together and then to clean up everything while it was baking, but no.  I psychologically cannot do that.  Ever.

By the time I was ready to start baking, Patrick was begging me to just forget the cake because we were both exhausted and he knew that I would be really cranky the next morning if I stayed up any later.  Stubbornly, I put my foot down and said that I would make that cake if it killed me.

I did make it, and I cleaned the kitchen, polished my floors, and flipped a load of laundry while it baked. While it cooled, I took a shower (FINALLY!).  When I finally went to take it out of the pans for the night (around 11:30 PM), the bottoms STUCK to the pan.  I know that I sprayed the pans well, but the bottoms held fast and then came away leaving me with destruction where there should have been beauty.    This had never happened to me before, and I was disappointed that we were now cake-less for Patrick's birthday, but I did not let it get me down.  Usually, I tend to get very emotional when I am tired and catastrophe strikes, but surprisingly I was very calm.

Then, it came to me.  TRIFLE!

It seems that whenever a dessert doesn't go quite right, I make a trifle out of it.  Like the time I forgot to add vegetable oil to a cake mix when I was pregnant--I took the dry cake, poured raspberry jello on one side, lemon on the other, let it set, and then made a trifle with whipped cream . . . it was a huge hit!

So, instead of sleeping on Saturday night (either the baby cried or the cat pounced on me whenever I dozed off), my mind was cooking up schemes for a delicious filling.  Since Patrick had purchased an extra box of vanilla pudding, I decided that I would soften and whip the cream cheese, add the vanilla pudding to it, pour in some powdered sugar, squeeze in some fresh orange juice, and grate in some zest.  Once that was done, I added a few drops of food coloring to make it the color of an orange creamsicle.  Oh YUM!

I was reminded of two things:

1. Don't cry over spilt milk.  Sometimes you can make it look like it never spilled at all, so why waste time and energy worrying about it.  Even if you can't fix a situation--who cares?  In my case, I could have run to the store for a pre-made cake and the only person judging me for doing so would have been ME.

2. Just as I can sometimes make something good out of a mistake, God can always take our struggles and failures and turn them into things which will bring Him great glory.

P.S.  I forgot to add . . . despite having had almost no sleep in 48 hours, I was thankful to God that I was NOT cranky on Sunday.  That in and of itself was a huge blessing!