Category Archives: Food diet and health

Hot, spicy, and yummy.

I love soup.  I love everything about it, from the brothy, vegetable-laden bowls of flavor, to the thick, hearty meatiness of stews and chilis, and to the bowls of comfort in chowders.  I eat soup in any weather, even the hot.

One of my local grocery store chains, Stop n Shop, makes a delicious soup made with chicken, greens, white beans, and tuscan spices, called logically enough, Tuscan Chicken Soup.  I eat it almost every week, but a container of it is pretty expensive. So, therefore, it inspired me to make my own rendition, as you see above.

Here then, is the recipe.

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1.5 pounds of chicken breasts
  • 1 cup each of minced onion and carrot
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 2 tablespoons of dried Tuscan spice blend (I used Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset blend, composed of sweet basil, turkish oregano, red bell pepper, garlic, thyme, fennel, black pepper, and anise seed)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Pinch salt and pepper to season chicken.
  • 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 12 ounce can northern white beans
  • 1 carton chicken broth
  • one smallish bunch of cooking greens such as spinach, kale, or chard (I used rainbow chard)
  • optional garnish of finely grated Romano peccorino cheese

In large pot or dutch oven, saute garlic and onions until translucent.  Add carrots, bell pepper, herbs and spices. Cook 3-5 minutes, til veggies start to soften. Add chopped chicken, season with salt and pepper. Cook chicken til no pink remains.  Add tomatoes, beans, and chicken broth. Bring to a light boil. Toss in shredded greens. Simmer one hour. Add cheese and cook a little longer, or serve cheese as a garnish instead.  Serve hot, and if you can eat bread, have a hot buttery crusty chewy roll.

Simple,  nutritious, spicy, and full of delicious Italian flavors!

Easy come, easy go.

Lets see now, where to start, where to start…

Ok, lets start with the present and work backwards, shall we?

MONEY: 

My stupid effing car is acting up yet again. This time around its the mass air flow sensor for the fuel injector.  It shorted out, apparently.  Stalled out just as I was getting off the exit on my way to work Monday morning, and sputtered and groaned the rest of the way.  $612.00.  AND since I was in the shop anyway, I bumped up my month-old appointment to get my rear brakes done as well, so the total is going to be $912.00. Plus tax. Maybe its time to buy a newer or better car.

I bought a bike and some video games over the weekend.  I bought the bike to satisfy a long-time longing to be on wheels again.  I used to love riding, but when I graduated college and moved here, my bike did not move with me.  Now, I have a simple, one-speed cruiser with straight handlebars, in a blue 50’s retro style.  Schwinn legacy cruiser for the Googlers.  I also bought the necessary accessories and saftey crap.  $220.00 (Pics forthcoming)

Video games were an impulse buy: Diablo 2 and WOW battlechests.  Oh, and a wireless router. I got sick of all those damned vinyl-covered cords all over the damn place. $150.00

Mid-may, my car’s driver side window fell through the door. Apparently the bolt holding it up broke.  I also replaced windshield wipers and a brake light. $300.00 ($200 for labor).

First weekend of May, I went up to Northampton MA for a gay pride parade and barbeque with a bunch of friends. My GPS got lost at the last intersection and I had to be fetched, and then, my key got stuck in the ignition, which in turn was stuck in the ON position.  Had to disconnect the battery from the starter in order to shut down the car.  My friends helped out with AAA and rides. The ignition cylinder had to be replaced and new keys made.  $500.00.  Towing was free, because I have awesome friends.  I still stayed and enjoyed the parade and my friend’s  company.

 

My hard-won savings is quite rapidly diminishing. I hate that the money I put aside for the car is actually being used for the car, and I also hate that its being used up so fucking fast.  Stupid american-made piece of shit.

 

Lets move on to HEALTH:

A lot has been going on on the health front.  No, I’m not sick, as far as I know. I was just finally getting around to seeing specialists for a bunch of chronic discomforts that have been afflicting me for quite some time.  Most recently, I went and saw a dermatologist to get my crap skin looked at.  I’ve had problems with painful infections in certain sensitive areas since my early teens, as well as sensitive skin and run-of-the-mill acne.  So now I am on mild oral and topical antibiotics.

Unanticipated bonus?  These antibiotics seemed to have cleared up my sinuses, which have been congested and drippy since 2006.  I had actually forgotten what it is like not have post-nasal drip.  Last week, I woke up, sprawled on my belly, and felt the strange sensation of cool morning air FILL my nose.   Can I smell better?  I don’t know, I hope so!  Despite that, this season’s wet and humid weather is still aggravating my asthma, alas.  But life without postnasal drip is awesome.

It’s true, what they say, that (for any value of “IT”) you never know how good you had it until it is gone, but I think you also can’t know how good it IS until it comes back.

Beginning of May, I had a physical done. Bloodwork, third degree, pokes and prods, the works.  Even though I’m a fatty mcfatterson with “horrible” BMI, the only blip in my health metrics is my cholesterol. Slightly elevated, which considering my family history and lack of exercize, doesn’t suprise me at all.

Mid-April, I had my thyroid looked at.  It felt firm and lumpy to me, so the doc sent me to get an ultrasound, and they found several nodes, two of which were suspicious-looking.  So a biopsy was done, which sucked balls, I tell you, BALLS. I had the strangest reaction after the procedure was done.  Emotionally I felt fine, relieved that it was over. Then I started getting the shakes, deep tremors in my hands and knees. Then, for no reason at all, tears started spilling out of my eyes.  Even though the only emotion I felt was embarrassment. What the hell was I crying for, yanno? The procedure didn’t even hurt all THAT much. (They injected the area with local anesthetic, lidocaine.  All I felt was pressure and a slight achey discomfort, as if they were prodding a new bruise.)  The only explanation I could come up for it was my lizard brain hijacking my limbic system to express the pain at the violation my body knew it felt. Either that or it was a tension-releasing catharsis response to denied fight-or-flight instincts.  Personally I like the former explanation better.

The results from the biopsy showed everything is fine. My body isnt trying to kill me yet. So that’s the good news.

Up next: dating updates and a bike ride/tour!

 

 

 

 

 

Because it was the most exciting thing to happen all week.

I have been sick since Wednesday, plagued by the most persistently annoying cold ever to blemish the face of this earth. I have a generous pile of used, snot-filled tissues littering the floor by my bedside, and that too, I am beginning to find annoying.  I have slept most of the last four days.  Only just today beginning to feel somewhat human.   I am now eating a bowl of my patented “hot damn, that’s a chili!” chicken chili (delicious AND nutritious!) and comforting myself with ginger ale and yes, more cadbury eggs.

Rachel’s Hot Damn, That’s a Chili! Chicken Chili

  • canola oil
  • 1 round teaspoonful of minced garlic (about 3 or 4 cloves)
  • 3-4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 medium-large carrots, diced
  • 2 small yellow onions, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 pound chicken breasts, finely chopped
  • 2 cans beans, drained.  I used black and pink for this pot.
  • 2 cans or 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 2/3 carton chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons dried parsley or 1/2 cup fresh, minced

Spices to taste (measures given here are approximate):

  • equal amounts of cumin and chili powder, around 1 tablespoon each
  • paprika, around 1/2 tablespoons or less
  • coriander, around 2 teaspoons or less
  • cayenne powder, around 1 or 2 teaspoons.

Saute garlic and onion in oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat until onion is translucent. Toss in carrots, celery, peppers, and jalapenos. Cook until juices are released, about 5 minutes.  Toss in chicken and cook until begins to brown, then add parsley and all spices. Cook until meat is mostly cooked through. Then add broth and remaining ingredients. Sir well and bring to a boil.  Boil for one minute then put into 400*F oven for one hour. Enjoy with a side of your favorite carb or fruit salad.  Or cadbury egg.

My dinner was made of WIN.

OMG guys, this was so goood!

It was roasted lemon-tarragon salmon filet with lentil-rice pilaf on the side.  I ate it up in 5 minutes flat.

How to make the salmon.

Preheat oven to 275(F).  Drizzle salmon with oil, then season with salt, pepper, a pinch of paprika, and a generous dash of tarragon.  Top with lemon peel shreds or lemon zest, and drizzle the juice of half a lemon all over.  Top with two thin slices of lemon. Roast in oven 15-30 minutes, depending on thickness, until fish is opaque and flaky or to an internal temperature of 120(F).

For the Pilaf, in a dutch oven, saute/sweat mirepoix and a spoonful of minced garlic and a heaping dash of kosher salt in the oil of your choice (I used butter.)  When onions are translucent, add roughly 2-3 tablespoons dried Herbs de Provence. Once onions start to brown, pour in roughly one to two cups of mixed rice blend (mine was white, brown, red, and wild rice). Saute until all rice is shiny and well-mixed with herbs and mirepoix. Add half cup to 2/3 cup lentils and a full carton of chicken stock and 1/4 cup water.  Add 1/8 cup diced dried apricots, and a splash of dry wine or wine vinegar.   Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover and bake in oven until all liquid is absorbed and lentils are tender.

I made all this off the top of my head, no recipes, so all measurements are approximate, but very very yummy.

If you ever make it, let me know what you think in the comments!

Copycat Week: Weekend Recap

This week I am copying other people. Because its the only idea I’ve got.

First off, from WIGSF, whose regular blog feature “Weekend Recap” inspires today’s post:

Rachel’s extra special Holiday Weekend Recap!

Thursday, Christmas Eve
Did NOT have the day off from work. Worked all day, 7:30 to 3:30. Normally I work until 4, but They decided to let us peons out a half our early. Merry Christmas, right? Got home, took a long hot bath with a book, and chatted online with several people for a while.

Friday, Christmas Day
Woke up around 10 am. After getting dressed and feeding the cat, went to my sister’s for some christmas family time. Santa left me a pair of glittery striped socks. Thanks, Santa! Spent most of the day chatting with Sister, who was like a zombie (because her kids are 7 and 4, respectively, and woke up at 5:30). We all had prime rib roast for dinner, and watched A Christmas Story, the only christmas movie I like. Went home before the expected ice storm was supposed to arrive–it never did.

Saturday, day after Christmas
Woke up to my cat walking on my head. Started doing my chores and errands. After feeding the cat her wet turkey sludge (stuff looks disgusting but she loves it), I went out to do said chores and errands.

  • Pet store to get more turkey sludge.
  • Fashion Bug to exchange pants for a different color (from grey to black)
  • Walmart to buy a crockpot. Walmart had bupkis.
  • Target for a crockpot. Found a steel 5-qt Crockpot.
  • Grocery store. Bought fixings for beef stew and roast chicken.

After all that excitement, I went home, washed my dishes, borrowed my neighbor’s lighter to relight a pilot light in my stove, and the went online to goof off until bedtime.

Sunday, day after the day after Christmas
Woke up late, and started my beef stew. Threw everything (beef, garlic, onion, carrot, celery, potato, parsley, bay, tarragon, stock, cranberry juice, salt & pepper) into my brand new crockpot. Watched a couple movies on tv.: “Agent Cody Banks” (horrible movie, and I hated what they did to Angie Harmon’s character–costuming department, leather outfits, seriously?), part of “Knocked Up” (not too fond of this either: leaving aside the questionable premise, the “funny” really wasn’t. I liked the dude’s character in “Zack and Miri”, but in this one, he came off as an annoying schlub), and then some t.v. movie/show with Noah Wyle as “The Librarian”. It was okay. Then I took my bath, and spent an hour or so catching up with an old friend online.

I Need a Drink Friday

And to round out this tispy week, and since its getting colder, I thought we could all use a little Warm and Fuzzy.

Hell, its Friday motherfuckers. The week is almost over, some of us are going to party (is it you? can I come?) and some of us are going to hole up in our little caves of solitude whether we want to or not.

Fridays are the days to get WASTED!  That is why today’s party cocktail is a…

Rum Runner

Rum Runner
1 1/2 oz light rum
1 1/2 oz dark rum
1 oz overproof rum
3/4 oz blackberry brandy
3/4 oz banana liqueur
1/4 oz Grenadine
1 oz orange juice
1 oz pineapple juice
Shake or blend all ingredients with ice (except overproof rum) and pour into a hurricane glass. Float the overproof rum on top by pouring it over the back of a spoon.

I Need a Drink Thursday

No real reason this time, except that every person should have at least one…

Screaming Orgasm

Ingredients:

* 1 oz Vodka
* 1 1/2 oz Bailey’s irish cream
* 1/2 oz Kahlua

Mixing instructions:

Pour first vodka, then Bailey’s, then Kahlua into a cocktail glass over crushed ice. Stir. Caution: use only high quality vodka. Cheap vodka can cause the Bailey’s to curdle.

I Need a Drink Wednesday

Last night, I had to tell a very nice man that I just wasn’t interested in him that way. It kinda sucked. And besides, I still haven’t had a drink and likely won’t unless someone buys me one.

Cheers!

Long Island Iced Tea

Ingredients:

* 1/2 oz Tequila
* 1/2 oz Rum
* 1/2 oz Vodka
* 1/2 oz Gin
* 1/2 oz Triple sec
* 1 oz Sour mix
* Coca-Cola

Mixing instructions:

Fill 12 oz. glass with ice. Add all the alcohol and sour mix. Top off glass with Coca-Cola to taste then watch out.

I Need a Drink Tuesday

So yesterday, I got back my blood work and food sensitivities results.  The verdict: Vitamin D deficiency and borderline hypothyroidism (which is why birth control so effs me up); and a definite intolerance of caffeine, chocolate, and gluten, and somewhat less intolerances to: high fructose corn syrup; pork, ham and bacon; peanut; pistaschio; and corn.

I can deal with never having caffeine, bread, beer and all that other stuff…but why CHOCOLATE?

GOD, WHY?!

And why doesn’t anyone make caffeine-free chocolate? WHHHHHHYYYYYYY?!

 

Zombie

* 1 oz Light rum
* 1/2 oz Creme de Almond
* 1 1/2 oz Sweet and sour
* 1/2 oz Triple sec
* 1 1/2 oz Orange juice
* 1/2 oz 151 proof rum
Mixing instructions:

Shake all ingredients (except 151 proof rum) with ice and strain into a collins glass over ice cubes. Float the 151 proof rum on top, add a cherry (if desired), and serve.

I Need a Drink Monday

Its true that the moment you drive them off the dealer’s lot, cars depreiciate in value. They also end up costing you a lot more than the debt you buy yourself into. Stupid cars.

Green iguana

1/2 part tequila
1 part melon liqueur
2 parts sweet and sour

Shake. Cocktail glass with salt rim.
http://www.scienceofdrink.com/2007/11/17/green-iguana/