Saturday, February 5, 2011

Nuturing My Family: A lil' home cookin'

There is something about winter that makes you want to stay at home and eat warm, comfort food (even if I am on Weight Watchers!) Because supervision at school was a little slower this month due to exams, I was home more during the evenings, was able to cook from scratch a little more, and was able to enjoy more meals with my family. Here are a couple of the great recipes I made recently:

Chicken Corn Chowder
I had roasted a chicken, and actually had time to boil the carcass to make some homemade chicken stock. I had a hankering for a warm bowl of chicken corn chowder, so after consulting a few recipes online, I created this soup, which was quite easy and so yummy!

3 - 4 slices bacon, chopped
half onion, diced
2 cans cream of potato soup
2 soup cans chicken stock (homemade or canned)
1 can corn kernels (or about 1 cup frozen kernels)
1 can creamed corn (or 2 cans of one kind of corn...your preference)
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
seasoning salt or cajun seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, fry the chopped bacon and onion until bacon is cooked and onions are translucent. Drain off excess fat. Add the cream of potato soup, chicken stock, corn, creamed corn. Stir. If soup is too thick for your taste, thin with a little milk. Add chopped cooked chicken. Season to taste with seasoning salt or cajun seasoning, as well as salt and pepper. Do not let mixutre boil, but simmer for about 20 minutes until flavours are combined. Serve with grated cheese on top if you like, some crusty bread and raw veggies or a nice grean salad. Comfort food at it's best!

Apple Brown Betty
My mom used to make this as dessert for Sunday Dinners in the winter. The warm, cinnamon-y apples with their crumbly, crispy crust were always great served with vanilla ice cream. This is not like most cobblers as there is no oatmeal in the topping. (I will have to remeber to snap a photo of this the next time I make it and add it to this post!)

6-8 Baking apples such as Granny Smith
sugar (or substitute Splenda)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour

Peel and core apples. Slice very thinly and layer in baking dish. Sprinkle a little cinnamon and sugar over each layer. Repeat layers of apples and cinnamon/sugar until dish is almost full.
Combine butter, brown sugar and flour with your fingers in a small bowl. Work until mixture is crumbly. Pack over top of the apple layers. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown - about 40-50 minutes.

Let me know if you try either of these recipes!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Nuturing My Marriage: Date Nights

I have to laugh a bit at my first efforts at nuturing myself this week. I DID join Weight Watchers online, specifically so I can track my pints on my iPhone, but then iBroke my iPhone! Then yesterday I used a gift certificate for a facial at a lovely spa, but today I am suffering a terrible allergice reaction to the products used (even though the aesthetician SAID they were non-allergenic and very gentle.) Yeah, I hit a couple of road bumps...oh well. I am undaunted and I am excited about the process of beginning to intentionally nuture another area of my life - my marriage. Here's the plan:

Shane and I have been married for 8 years now. We have two kids, two jobs, two cars, two houses, etc. We have also had about two dates in the last several years! Yup...we, like so many marriedcouples-with-kids need a little reconnection. And instead of waiting for him to do something about it, I am stepping up and planning some dates. Last year I came across Project 52. The idea was to plan one date a week for the entire year. Each week, blogger Tiffany relates what she and her hubbie did on their date night (mostly on Friday nights, mostly at home and under $30.00) and invites readers to link to their date night ideas. She even created a pledge form to help you and your hubbie follow through. I am a bit chicken about committing to 52 dates, but right now I plan on using many of the brilliant ideas Tiffany and her readers have put forth.

For our first date of 2011, I have invited Shane to spend some time with me planning out the year ahead of us. As strange as this may seem, we have never done this. When we met and married we were both in our 30's, had our own lives, careers, finances, assets etc. And we kept it pretty much the same until the kids came along. We didn't actually have a joint bank account until I took an extended parental leave from work when Sam was born and had no income. Over the last year or so, we have come together and are now working towards joint future goals. I am looking forward to planning out some goals and activities on the family calendar and tweaking the family budget. And I was thinking we would have a little cheese fondue and some good red wine while we discuss the year ahead. (Hmmm...come to think of it, I have a feeling most of our dates will probably include food and wine!)

As for future dates, Tiffany has a great list of 16 fresh ideas here. And at the end of each of her weekly date night posts are links to readers ideas. Another website I came across via one of Tiffany's posts is The Dating Divas. It is a treasure trove of ideas for fun, inexpensive, unique dates. With all these ideas maybe I will be able to do 52 dates this year. There's no excuse not to!