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May 30, 2010

Ask a Wife of a Veteran

Why is this holiday important? What does it mean? I think we often take for granted the freedom we experience everyday. This site wouldn’t exist in some parts of the world. I wouldn’t have the opportunities I have if I didn’t live in America. My family has benefited from the military and we are very grateful for what we have experienced and learned. My husband served in the Navy and it was during his service time that afforded him the opportunity to obtain a Bachelors degree and a Masters Degree. The skills and valor he gained while serving in the Navy led him to his current employment position. I also think that the foundation for our family grew out of the time when we were apart and forced to communicate in writing and on short phone calls. It made me realize the importance of people in my life and not taking them for granted.

I just want to say I appreciate the sacrifices the soldiers make for our country. I also know the amount of sacrifice every person who knows and loves that soldier makes. I remind you to take a break from your celebration at 3:00 PM on Monday and thank a soldier.

Here is a poem that reminds us to remember. It was buried among the dead during Word War I. It was written as a result of a soldier witnessing the death of his friend during battle. The symbol of the poppy flower resulted from this poem and is often sold by Veterans to raise funds.

The title piece of In Flanders Fields and Other Poems, 1919, Written by:John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

May 22, 2010

Curried Pork in a Cream Sauce Slow Cooker Recipe


I love curry and I can’t wait to try this easy recipe! Thanks to Connie for this recipe. Check out Cook with Connie for more fantastic recipes!

I ruined a beautiful pork loin roast recently. I cooked it too long in not enough liquid and dried it out. Mistakes happen, I guess. But, I was not about to waste that roast, dry or not. So, I began looking for recipes that would tenderize the already-cooked meat and perk up the flavor. I found a curry cream sauce recipe that would do the trick, but it was full of fat and calories. I lightened it up by using 98% fat free cream of chicken soup and reduced calorie mayonnaise (the kind that’s made with olive oil).

About 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, legs, or thighs can be substituted for the pork. The chicken parts needn’t be sliced. I would recommend using leftover chicken or pork; this saves the step of browning the meat before it goes into the slow cooker for this recipe.

Curry is a strong, unique flavor, and usually folks either like it or they don’t. Start with 1 T. of curry and add more if you like a more intense flavor. You can always add spice to the dish, but you can’t remove it! Give Pork in Curried Cream Sauce a try and see if your family enjoys this unusual dish alongside fresh spring asparagus and couscous.

 

Pork in Curried Cream Sauce

3-4 c. cooked pork loin, sliced
1 (10 ¾-oz) can low-fat cream of chicken soup
½ c. reduced calorie mayonnaise
½ c. chicken stock
1-2 T. curry powder
dash of salt
1/8 t. pepper
1 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed and crisp steamed
couscous (or rice)

Combine soup, mayonnaise, stock, curry powder, salt & pepper. Fold in pork and place in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 5 hours or high 3 hours. Serve pork in curried cream sauce over asparagus and couscous and top with freshly chopped parsley, if desired.

May 1, 2010

Chicken Strawberry Wraps Recipe

I can’t wait to try this recipe with fresh strawberries from my garden! Thanks to Connie for this recipe. Check out Cook with Connie for more fantastic recipes!

Chicken Strawberry Wraps

Once the weather gets a little warmer, it seems like everyone is looking for an outdoor adventure. Taking after-supper walks, tossing the baseball with the kids, even yard work is good for the soul in the spring. A wonderful activity for your family to try this spring is visiting a berry farm. You and your kids can pick your own fresh, ripe berries and enjoy the sweet fruits all spring and beyond (if you freeze or make jams & jellies.) Make sure you pick only the ripe berries, as they do not ripen after being picked. And, don’t wash berries until you are ready to use them since they will become soggy and spoil quicker. In Virginia, strawberries will come in first, then blueberries and raspberries, and lastly blackberries. So, berry picking adventures can take place all summer long.

The first of the spring fruits and vegetables to become available are asparagus, strawberries, and spring greens (such as baby spinach.) This week’s recipe uses strawberries and baby spinach.

I must give credit to my dear friend, Heather, whose Chicken Strawberry Wraps were the first I’d ever had. She uses breaded chicken tenders and bakes them up golden and crispy in the oven. My version is a little lighter using boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or tenders.) If you are not a big fan of spinach, chopped Romaine lettuce can be substituted. Cooked and crumbled bacon would add a smoky crunch to these wraps, as well. Of course, if you are in the mood for a big salad, forego the tortillas and toss everything in a big bowl.

To save time on a busy weeknight when you and the family are out at practice or a meeting, grill your chicken breasts earlier in the week and pop them in the fridge until you are ready to serve. The chicken can be warm or cold in these wraps; it is your preference. Don’t assemble until you are ready to serve, as the tender greens will wilt and the tortillas will get soggy.

Chicken Strawberry Wraps

6-8 large multi-grain or flour tortillas
2 boneless skinless chicken breast
juice of ½ lemon
4 c. baby spinach
1 cup sliced strawberries
1/3 to 1/2 c. fat-free poppyseed dressing
4 T. low-fat bleu cheese crumbles (optional)

Season chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and lemon juice and grill over medium heat (300-350 degrees) until meat thermometer reads 170 degrees. Let rest 5 minutes; then thinly slice. Meanwhile, toss spinach and strawberries with dressing; add sliced chicken and toss well. Heat each tortilla in microwave for 10 seconds to soften. Divide spinach mixture evenly among tortillas. Top evenly bleu cheese, if desired. Fold sides in and roll up into a wrap; place seam side down. Slice each wrap in half on the diagonal. Serve with fruit and additional dressing, if desired.

April 26, 2010

Safety Tips for Shopping Online

Shopping online has become so convenient and a great way to find great deals. Unfortunately the virtual world can be detrimental to your banking account. Earlier this year, I made a purchase online. Months down the road, my card had unauthorized charges on it. Thankfully my bank was on top of it! Not Made of Money has six tips to share with us to make shopping online safe.

Six Ways to Make Internet Shopping Safe

Stories abound warning consumers about the perils of shopping on the internet. Internet shoppers have every justification to be concerned about the growing problem of identity theft and having their credit card information compromised. Having your identity stolen can be an expensive and complicated matter to clean up.

Don’t think, though, that you have to give up shopping online, altogether. Although nothing will completely eliminate your risks while shopping on the internet, there are some steps you can take to minimize your exposure to these risks.

  • When shopping online, be sure to look for the website’s security policy. Most internet retailers are aware of their customers’ concerns and will explain exactly how the company protects their customers’ information. Expect to find discussions that indicate that the retailer encrypts customer information and that it’s a secure site.
  • Choose one credit card to pay for your internet purchases. If you have the misfortune of having your credit card information stolen, you’ll only have to cancel your credit card. Never use your debit card online; you don’t want thieves to have access to your checking account.
  • Don’t use public computers to shop on the internet. Some web browsers store your information and could be accessed by someone else with the skills to harvest that information.
  • Never email your credit card information whether you’re sending it to a retailer or a friend. Email servers are usually not as secure as the type of software used to process credit card information.
  • Try to choose well-known retailers when shopping online. The larger retailers will have the experience and capital to invest in their website’s security processes to make sure that they are utilizing the latest in internet security. If you just have to have something you find at a smaller website, consider calling their customer service line and giving them your information via the phone.
  • Using a PayPal account to pay for your internet purchases is a way to add an extra layer of security in your internet purchases. Many of the smaller, less secure, websites will allow you to use PayPal to process your payments to them.

Remember that when shopping on the internet to use your common sense when selecting your retailers. If a website doesn’t feel professional, you should probably trust your instincts and look for your product elsewhere.

We are pleased that Not Made of Money will provide a weekly personal finance article to share with us each week!

Photo Credit KCBBB

April 24, 2010

Chicken & Rice Soup Recipe & Unique Add-ins

This is a wonderful and creative recipe! I would have never thought of adding sweet potatoes to soup! Thanks to Connie for this recipe. Check out Cook with Connie for more fantastic recipes!

Soup season is almost over. I love a good, steamy bowl of soup or stew during the fall and winter months. But, I rarely make soups in the summer. It’s just too hot outside! However, these cool spring evenings or rainy spring days still call for a light and healthy soup. With all the pollen in the air, a warm bowl of Chicken & Rice Soup just might be what your sinuses or sore throat needs.
The spring veggies are in, so you could add asparagus or spinach to this easy-to-make classic. If you are lucky enough to have spring onions, you could substitute those to equal about 1 cup. Want to make it in your slow cooker?? After cooking the vegetables, transfer to your slow cooker with all other ingredients and cook on low 4-6 hours.

The trick to serving this soup in no time is to use chicken that you’ve cooked earlier in the week and picked from the bone. Brown rice takes about 45 minutes to cook, so make sure you cook this side dish earlier in the week, too. Brown rice makes this soup a healthier version because it adds fiber. You can easily make a double batch of this soup and freeze it flat in quart-size freezer bags to enjoy later or share with a friend who’s under-the-weather.
Give this feel-good soup a try with one of my suggested add-ins, or add something special to make a classic soup uniquely your own.

Chicken & Rice Soup

2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 c. chopped celery
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 (49.5-oz) can low-sodium chicken broth
4 c. water
2 c. cooked chicken
2 c. cooked brown rice
½ t. dried thyme, crushed
salt & pepper to taste

Delicious Add-ins:
1 ½ c. cooked sweet potatoes, cubed…add about 5 minutes before serving to heat through
3-4 c. baby spinach or shredded kale…add with all other veggies
½ to 1 lb. fresh asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces…add with chicken, rice, etc.

In a Dutch over medium-high heat, heat olive oil and cook onion, celery, garlic, and carrots until onions are translucent. Add broth and scrape bits off bottom of pot. Add remaining ingredients; bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook 30 minutes. Serve with crusty whole-grain bread.

March 17, 2010

Homemade Spinach Pesto With Pasta Recipe




Your Family Today: Recipes

Homemade Spinach Pesto With Penne

From the Editors of Your Family Today

Spinach has a milder flavor than basil, which some kids find to be bitter. (The touch of honey here adds a little sweetness too.) It’s also rich in heart-healthy, cancer-preventing antioxidants. Pair this pesto with fiber-rich whole-wheat penne to give it an extra nutrition boost.

Time-saving tip: Both the penne and pesto can be prepared several days in advance and refrigerated separately. Or they can be combined and then refrigerated. Simply heat in microwave before serving.                                                       

Makes 6 servings (about 2 cups per serving)

Ingredients
12 ounces whole-wheat (or regular) penne
3/4 cup finely chopped grape tomatoes

For pesto:
4 1/2 to 5 cups packed baby spinach leaves
1 1/2 cups packed basil leaves
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons honey
5 to 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions
1. Cook penne according to package directions; drain well.

2. While penne cooks, prepare pesto by combining spinach, basil, garlic, nuts, cheese, lemon juice and honey in a food processor bowl.

3. Processes until ingredients form a thick paste.

4. With machine running, slowly pour in 5 tablespoons oil; process until combined. Add additional tablespoon oil if slightly thinner pesto is desired.

5. In a large bowl, toss penne with pesto.

6. Lightly stir in chopped tomatoes and serve.

Nutrition information per serving 425 calories; 20 g fat; 12 mg cholesterol; 235 mg sodium; 47 g carbohydrate; 5.5 g fiber; 15 g protein.

This recipe was written by Kim Galeaz, a registered dietitian and culinary nutrition consultant. She is the owner of Galeaz Food & Nutrition Communications, located in Indianapolis and Jacksonville, Fla.