Days That Weren’t …. Winter

Although I do love living in a place with a change in seasons, this winter has been longer and tougher than most in my memories past.

A few weeks ago I showed you some picts from last spring, now I will show you a few that I took of the Missouri countryside before it turned blah and wintery.

A beautiful day in Autumn.

I should have been at work that day, but took a vacation day.

I wish I could get paid to drive around this beautiful country of ours and take in all of the beauty.

Now THAT would be awesome.

 

But wait, 

I guess since it was a vacation day, and I got paid for it, I did (technically) get paid to drive around and take pictures.

Sweet!

Always have to look at the bright side!

Chicken Fajitas

 

I make these chicken fajitas at least 2 times a month. This is one of our favorite dinners.

The ingredients below don’t necessarily tell you how much you should have because it all depends on your preference, you decide. I’ve listed the ingredients I personally like.

Get creative, add some of your other favorite ingredients. Peppers, onions, etc.

Flour tortillas (soft taco size)

1 Tbsp Olive oil

Butter

1 to 1.25 (approximate) lbs chicken

1 packet Lawry’s fajita seasoning

Shredded sharp cheddar

Pace salsa

Sour Cream

avocado

Put 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in skillet & heat. Add chicken and cook well.

When chicken is thoroughly cooked, chop or shred. I prefer to cut it with my kitchen scissors into little chunks.

Add packet of seasoning and mix with water as directed on packet. Mix well.

In a separate skillet, melt a pad of butter and spread around. Keep your burner on medium heat.

Put your tortilla in your skillet and cook until its slightly golden or starts to ever slightly stiffen and flip over.

Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top while still in skillet. While the other side of the tortilla is cooking, this will melt the cheese nicely.

Once the cheese starts to melt, place tortilla on your plate to start topping with your other ingredients.

Then place some of your chicken in a row down the middle of your tortilla, making sure you have enough room on the bottom and sides to fold over.

I personally love Pace salsa, a little light sour cream and some slices of avocado to make the perfect fajita for me.

Once you have your toppings on, first fold up the bottom, to keep ingredients from falling out when eating.

Then fold over each side and enjoy! YUM I tell you, these are delish!

Now you could just slap your ingredients in an uncooked tortilla, but I prefer them warm and slightly crisp. It just gives it that extra tastey UMPH.

Taco Soup

This is a tasty recipe that is good for you.

I started making this when I was on Weight Watchers.

It is low in points yet filling. It’s even lower in points when you make it vegetarian style, without the burger. I personally, like a bit of beef so that is how I’ve made it for you here.

Am I crazy when I say it felt good to cook a little again?

It’s just so much better than ordering out.

Unless you’re incredibly busy, as I’ve been (and honestly still am), but sometimes you just have to make time for things like a good home cooked meal and after ordering out so much, I need some seriously low-calorie meals like this.

1 lb (or less) of lean ground beef (optional)

1 medium yellow onion (chopped)

1 Tbsp minced garlic

3 cans diced tomatoes

1 Can Great Northern white beans undrained

1 can corn drained

1 package McCormick Taco seasoning

2 cups chicken broth

 

First if you are going to cook with beef, I recommend buying a pound or less of the leanest burger.

Brown your hamburger, drain the grease and add chopped onion & cook for a few minutes on medium heat.

Add all other ingredients.

 Make this recipe for your heart, it’ll thank you.

I know, I’m not right.

Don’t drain the beans, put the whole can in the pot.

 

Add the chicken broth. I state 2 cups in the recipe, use your judgement for your liking.

Stir ingredients until combined well.

Cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occassionally.

 A filling, light, warm lunch. Yum.

If I recall correctly, 1 Cup of this soup (vegetarian style) is only 3 points, with the burger it’s approximately 5 points per cup.

A slightly higher calorie option is adding a little light sour cream to your individual serving, top with a little shredded cheddar.

I hope you enjoy!

 

It’s All About You! Again!

Again today, it’s not about me. It’s all about YOU! Yes, You!

Ok, I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised when my idea for “It’s All About You” post last Friday was received so well.

Even more, I enjoyed the memories that the picture I posted brought forth in some of my readers. I mean I REALLY enjoyed them!

The word ‘really’ doesn’t describe my feelings well.

I authentically, categorically, honestly, no…INDUBITABLY enjoyed them. You guys are awesome!

I was touched by every one of your memories.

It evoked memories of loved ones,

childhood,

camp,

 family vacations,

 peaceful moments

 and even memories of a favorite movie.

I think its a great chance to remember how similar and how different the experiences that shape our lives can be.

Ok, ok, ok, enough of me babbling and getting all sentimental.

As I was saying, I enjoyed this so much, I’ve decided to make this a regular or semi regular part of my blog.

On Fridays I will post a picture and I will ask you to tell us what memory or feeling it brings out in YOU. You can post your memory or feeling short & sweet in the comment section, or if it inspires a tale better left for your blog, please link said tale back to the comment section so we can all share in your creation.

This last Monday, when I took a day off work to wander aimlessly around the country side with G2 (my camera) and a good friend who lives in the area, we stumbled across something interesting. On some winding country road that I probably couldn’t find again if you paid me, we decided to pull onto a gravel road to turn around. As we did, we were at first taken by the view, but as I was turning around, something caught my eye down a slight hill off to the side.

After I knocked away the “What a shame this classic sits here, rotting away” feelings, I remember weekends during the decade of big hair (yes the 80’s) and teen angst. I remember a local Hardees parking lot where everyone cool cruised around in their cool, and not so cool cars and hung out sitting on bumpers, walking around, some smoking, until the cops came and chased us all away.

Ahhhh, the memories…..

Wait, this isn’t about me today, it’s about you.

Close your eyes (ok, wait until you’ve read this first) then close your eyes and go back, or not so far back…….

What memories does this picture bring forth?

It was a Beautiful, Strange Day

Have you ever had a day where you saw more than one strange thing and just said WTF?

This last Monday was one of those days. It was a gorgeous day, the last day of a busy 4 day weekend for me.

Earlier in the morning, I walked a spectacular golf course with colors abounding.

It was so beautiful it was downright spiritual.

Then I met up with a great friend I’ve known since I was 16, (which was only a few years ago? HA!).

We had breakfast at a small town pub and then decided to explore the countryside.

Along the way I saw a tree with these laying under.

They look like alien brains!

Maybe I’m just too much of a suburbia girl that I’ve never seen this before but it was downright strange.

Anyone know what these are?

 

We were exploring Missouri wine country.

I live very close to Missouri wine country but not close enough!

I don’t say that because I’m a wino, I say that because Missouri wine country is downright beautiful.

Its made up of rolling hills looking over river bottoms, and small towns with quaint stores.

 

This is a winery just down the road from where that friend of mine lives. (It was taken a few days before.)

But on the day that we were exploring the countryside, we saw these and said “What the….?”

These are in someones yard, smack dab in the middle of one of those tiny quaint towns. I’d guess the population to not be more than 100 or so. 

More exploring, down gravel roads (in my formerly clean black car) and more beautiful color.

Again, if you knew how many pictures I took on this day, you’d laugh at me. 

 You’d say, “You’re so Craaaazzy”.

So my friend and I, we head back to the small town pub where we had coffee & breakfast.

Thats also where we had lunch.

There’s no Mc’y anything in this neck of the woods (Thank God).

I then give my dear friend a hug and we promise to get together again soon.

And I head home.

(The following were taken with my cell phone, G2 was put away resting after one heck of a workout, so that is why they is not the best quality.)

On my way home I see this:

 And you’re saying, “So?”

(Don’t you just love how I read your minds?)

I pass this road fairly often.

So imagine my surprise when I saw a tree taller than all in the land, towering over everything else.

Originally, I thought I was really losing it. That someone as visual as myself has missed this towering tree after all of these years.

Then logic set in and I realized I would have never have missed this tree….So….wtf?

Then I got closer.

(For the record, I was sitting at a stop light when taking this picture.)

So….its a pole, not a tree at all,

Nothing connected to it.

Except for what I can only assume are fake branches.

and I said…..

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm……

Today, it’s all about You!

 

Hello! Today I’d like to try something different.

I would love to hear about YOU! Yes, you!

One of the things that attract us to artwork, whether it be photography or something different, is the emotion or memory it stirs.

Sure, sometimes its about aesthetics but most of the time it’s not.

So this is where you come in.

See this picture below?

Does it stir a memory or memories for you?

If so, what are they?

Does it stir a feeling or an emotion? If so, tell us about it.

Maybe, just maybe, you don’t like to go outside and you’re a complete homebody or city person and this just doesn’t stir up any emotion or feeling at all,

thats o.k. too.

We all have different experiences & perspectives in this tapestry of life.

Rules, there are no rules. Just tell us all about your memory short & sweet, OR,

if this has inspired a longer tale, you can link the story about your tale in the comment section below.

For now, I will save the memories that this picture reminds me of for later.

Today I want to hear from you.

Just a Big Drip…

This is starting my busiest time of the year. And so far my schedule is chock full of stuff to do! Between birthday’s of little ones, one of my BFF’s moving back ‘to the area’ from too far away, taking photos of the gorgeous autumn colors, taking people photos, art & craft shows, oh and that thing called my 40 + hour a week job, things are crazy busy…and I love it.

BUT did that stop me from goofing off about a two weeks ago? No! It’s hard to believe I know, ME goofing off, the embodiment of all things serious. BAWAHAHAHAHa…

Ok, enough of that.

I had been mentioning during my White Chicken Chili recipe how I don’t like to use flash as it can cause shadows, and just isn’t as natural looking as (duh) nautural light, yadda yadda yadda. THEN while making my Grape Salad recipe I announced that in having to use my flash in my kitchen due to the lack of natural light, I found that flash could be fun!?

 Ok, stay with me here folks, I have a point coming soon.

Well this is the result of my fun. Yes I’m entertained VERY easily. This is a good quality though I assure you.

It ends up when using the flash to take pictures of water it freezes that nano second in time and you see what is really coming out of your faucet.

Elegant simplicity….

Sparkling jewels…. 

 And on this one, after a little photo processing magic with the colors, something interesting…

And Bubbles, you can see the air bubbles in the water. Is it just me, or is this actually pretty?

With this post I hope to make a point, besides the fact that I can be entertained by dripping water. 

First, that beauty can be found in the most ordinary things. Things that we never even really see in our everyday lives. Partly because its so mundane, so, well, ordinary that we don’t really ‘see’ it. Its there, to wash our dishes, to wash our hands, to fill that glass of water & quench our thirst, or in my case, to wash the grapes that I later ate to nourish myself (and immerse myself in yummyness)!

Also to remind those of us with running water that in some parts of this gorgeous world we live in, running water is a luxury. I don’t think it was until the disaster in Haiti that I ever even thought of that. We get so busy with our computers, our kids, our jobs, the TV, the Iphones, Blackberries and our everyday busy-ness, we forget how lucky we are and how beautiful IT really is.

Today, take a moment to appreciate the ordinary things in your life.

Short & Sweet

Good morning, Happy Monday.

Yes, most of us would probably rather have it be Friday again but it’s not so that is why I wish you a Happy Monday.

It is what it is.

Today is going to be short and sweet here on my blog, I just thought I’d show you a few of the ‘captures’ from this last week. I have so many more than this, if you really knew, you’d laugh at me.

I’m so thankul for the digital age, otherwise I’d be in the poor house this time of year buying film.

This is just a field right? Growing Milo? I think its milo anyway. The colors & the textures grabbed my attention & sucked me in.

Ahhh and this one. Another caught at the wildlife preserve before my day at work began.

It was so awesome to wrap myself not only in the beauty but in the peace of that morning.

My senses were rejoicing. My eyes taking in the beauty, my nose smelling the freshness of the day and my ears listening to the quiet with the occassional cry from a crow or a hawk.

I could have stayed there all day and soaked it all in.

I always give thanks to the one who gave us this beautiful world.

Grape Salad Recipe

This recipe is a delicious escape from the norm. Well, for me it was anyway, before trying this for the first time a few years back, I’d never had grape salad. In fact, when my sister-in-law announced she was making this for a family gathering I apprehensively said “Um, O.K.?” But I’m oh so glad she did! I’ve taken this to work before on a “Everyone bring a dish” day, and copies of this recipe were requested by quite a few.

Ok, this recipe will fit into your standard 9×11 (or similarly sized) casserole dish.

In the pictures below, I made a half of a recipe because I just needed a smaller portion.

8oz package of light cream cheese, softened

1 C Light sour cream

1/4 C sugar

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups EACH seedless red & seedless green grapes (total of 6 cups of grapes)

3/4 C Brown sugar

2 T butter, softened

1 C chopped pecans

First, wash your grapes.

Remember how I said in the Chicken Chili recipe that I didn’t like using flash but would have to in my kitchen due to an insufficient amount of natural lighting?  Well, I did. Then I took the picture below & discovered that the flash can cause you to see the water droplets in the stream of water. It freezes them, and I was intrigued. (Yes, I’m easily entertained!) So after the recipe was done, I played with, believe it or not, taking pictures of water, I’ll show them some other time, don’t worry, because I know you are on the edge of your seat…. 

 I digress….On with the recipe:

 

In my best Robet Dinero voice “Hey, who you lookin at? You lookin at ME?”

I know, I know, I’m not ‘right’, you don’t have to tell me, my awesome friends & family all ready do.

In a seperate bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, sugar & vanilla. Mix until creamy.

THEN gently stir in the grapes.

Don’t do like I did below, trying to be cute and play with your food because trust me, its much more difficult to combine without squishing the grapes!

I know, momma said “Don’t play with your food!” but I’m a rebel that way!

 

So after you have sufficiently combined your creamy mixture with your grapes, you will need the rest of your ingredients. In a seperate bowl, combine brown sugar, butter & chopped pecans.

Spread out your grape mixture into your casserole dish.

Then top with brown sugar/pecan mixture.

Yum, Yum.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do and others I know have. I would even venture so far as to recommend you take this to a football party! Maybe its not “manly” food, but I’ll almost guarentee they’ll love it and if there are any female football fans present, they’ll probably be thankful there’s something at least slightly lighter than hot dogs, chili & chips.

For those of you reading my blog for the recipes, I want to let you know that over the next few weeks, you may see a few less than normal. It is Autumn here in mid Missouri and I fully plan on being on the go with “G2” (my camera) capturing the beautiful autumn colors in the fleeting time they are here. I will also be attending some art & craft shows with my photography in hand so basically, I won’t be cooking that much until the leaves are all down. (Here that G1? Better start ordering that pizza for dinner!) I assure you though that there will be more recipes forthcoming as my busy season slows in a few weeks.

By the way, for those of you who do read my silly musings, Thanks! I love all ya’ll and I love hearing from you.