Easy Thai Chicken

Adapted from The Calgary Mirror

 

1 tsp. vegetable oil

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into strips

½ c. chopped onion

¾ c. medium salsa (if you like it less spicy use mild salsa; more spicy use hot salsa)

¼ c. natural or light peanut butter

1 c. light coconut milk or 2% evaporated milk

1 tsp. cornstarch

salt and pepper

chopped fresh cilantro or dried cilantro

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium high heat, and cook chicken and onion, stirring until chicken is browned all over.  Stir in salsa and peanut butter.  Combine milk and cornstarch, gradually stir into skillet.  Cook stirring over medium heat until boiling and thickened.  Season with cilantro, salt and pepper.  Serve over hot cooked vermicelli noodles or rice.  4 servings.

Ridiculously Easy, Special Occasion, Blueberry Butter Tarts

Great for Christmas!

12 small frozen tart shells

1 egg, slightly beaten

½ c. corn syrup

¾ tsp vanilla

1 tsp. lemon juice

½ c. brown sugar

1 T. flour

3 T. melted butter

½ – ¾ c. fresh or frozen blueberries

Leave shells in foil cups and place on baking sheet.  In large bowl, whisk egg with lemon juice, syrup and vanilla.  In smaller bowl, stir together sugar and flour.  Then add to egg mixture with butter.  Divide blueberries equally into shells (about 5 or 6 per shell); fill with egg mixture to top.  Bake at 375 for 18-23 minutes, until filling is bubbly and top is a bit crusty. Each tart has 206 calories and 28 grams of carbs.

Festive Christmas Punch

1 can cranberry cocktail

2 cans raspberry cocktail

1/3 c. lemon juice

1 can lemonade

Mix above together, then combine with ginger ale and club soda as follows (for one glass):

½ c. club soda

¼ c. ginger ale

¼ c. punch mix

Ration is 2: 1: 1 – 2 parts club soda to one part each ginger ale and punch mix.

[Note:  This can be a bit acidic.  For less acidity, eliminate the lemon juice.]

Magazine World

Taken outside Granum, Alberta

I’ve decided I want to live in Magazine World.

It’s a parallel universe where, apparently, everyone takes the whole summer off to vacation at the cottage, can afford expensive items for their homes – vacation or otherwise – such as a $200 IPOD Toilet Tissue holder, buy designer clothing, and host fabulous – and catered – parties.

Reality Check

20% of North Americans either don’t take  vacations or use all their vacation time.  In part because we (Canadian and Americans) receive the fewest paid vacation days per year in the world at approximately 10 days, respectively and also in part because of fears of job security.    By contrast, the Danes receive 31 vacation days per year. [Denmark is a very enlightened country!] [vacation statistics from www.vault.com]

Of the North Americans that do take their vacation days, some spend their vacation days in such restful pursuits as visiting family members or completing the ‘honey-do’ list.  Others spend the “vacation” “working from home” – and in this case, a change is not as good as a rest.

Oh and that cottage Magazine World talks about?  A mere 9% of Canadians own cottages according to one source.

This lovely angel tops our tree at Christmas

But no time of year is more glorious and storybook-like in Magazine World than Christmas.  In Magazine World, everyone has a wonderful family and spends the month of December merrily going from fabulous party to fabulous party and has the halls decked to look like the cover of a magazine.  The only problems in Magazine World’s Christmas are how to manage your hangover and keep off those holiday pounds.

While it’s a myth that suicide rates increase at Christmas (in fact, statistically suicide rates decrease in December http://www.suicideinfo.ca/csp/assets/alert16.pdf), nonetheless, Christmas can be and is a very stressful time for a great deal of people.  Loneliness, depression, financial strain, family conflict and alcohol abuse can all intensify at Christmastime.

To make it through December relatively unscathed, the Center for Suicide Prevention in Calgary, Alberta, Canada has these tips:

  • Plan to take time to identify your feelings about Christmas.
  • Be realistic; look at what you can afford to give (for tips, see: http://www.buynothingchristmas.org/alternatives/index.html
  • Choose to celebrate with people who make you feel positive and hopeful (for many of us that would exclude, rather than include, family members and in-laws).
  • Let go of your expectations and make time for what is important to you.

Or, you could move into Magazine World….

Hawaiian Bacon Melts

 

8 teaspoons brown mustard;

4 English muffins, split;

8 slices Canadian bacon or low-sodium ham;

2 cans pineapple rings in juice, drained;

1 medium green bell pepper, cut into 8 thin rings;

4 ounces lowfat swiss cheese, sliced

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread 1 tsp mustard on each muffin half. Top each with bacon or ham slice, pineapple ring, bell pepper ring and cheese slice.

Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated and cheese is melted. Good with salad or cut-up vegetables.

 

Crabmeat Cheese Surprise

 

Fast to make, fancy enough for company!

 

2 c. canned crabmeat

2 T. Sauterne

1 tsp. salt

½ c. shredded Gruyere cheese

enough low-fat mayonnaise to moisten and hold together

 

5 English muffins, split and toasted

 

Preheat oven to 450. Mix all together and place on toasted English muffins and put into oven until hot.  Serve immediately.  Makes enough for 10 English muffin halves.

Irish Soda Bread

This is so good I’ve included it even though the baking time is almost an hour.

 

3 c. all purpose flour

1 T. baking powder

1/3 c. white sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 c. buttermilk (or regular milk “soured” with 1 T. lemon juice or vinegar and let sit for a bit)

¼ c. oil

 

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 9 x 5” loaf pan.  If souring milk, prepare at this time.

 

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix egg and milk together and add all at once to the flour mixture.  Mix until just moistened.  Stir in oil.  Pour into prepared pan.

 

Bake for 65 – 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.  Wrap in foil for several hours, or overnight, for best flavor.

 

Preparation time:  15 minutes, approximately.  Makes 1 loaf.

 

Chicken Tangine in the Crockpot

A Moroccan inspired main dish that cooks in the crock.

4 chicken breasts

1 cup carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

1 onion, chopped

1 ½ c. chicken broth

1 c. dried prunes, halved

1 T. each cinnamon and ginger

1 tsp. coriander

½ tsp. each salt and pepper

½ c. honey

Chopped almonds (optional)

Place prepared vegetables in bottom of the crock pot (I used a 3 ½ quart crockpot).  Add chicken breasts and pour broth over.  Cook on low about 6 ½ hours.  Add the prunes, spices, salt and pepper and honey in the last hour of cooking.  Sprinkle with chopped almonds. Serve with rice or couscous.

Preparation time is approximately 10 minutes. Serves 4.

Tip of the Day

On a “good day” when symptoms are stable, or your pain is less, you may want to consider big-batch cooking:

• When cooking, cook in larger batches and place leftovers in freezer containers in individual servings (or more depending on the number of people) for future meals.  When your symptoms are flaring, having freezer meals to  pop in the microwave or re-heat on the stove, will be appreciated.

• Use freezer-to-microwave dishes.