One-Pot Mexican Chicken & Rice (Gluten Free)

Nappy's Chicken Shit

I was on a school bus,  for the first time in more than a decade, and much earlier than ever in my life. Still dark, we couldn’t see the landscape. It was quite chilly, there was no sound except the motor. All the passengers where silent with their thoughts and the bus rocked us gently back and forth. I can pretty much fall asleep anywhere, but right then my nerves where taking over and keeping my stomach uncomfortable and fluttery. ‘How long is twenty six miles, anyway?’ It seemed like an eternity getting to the marathon start line and every second I sat there I pictured my legs having to carry me all the way back.

Yes, I had put skates on again, even after my disastrous start in the sport.  Mystery Man and I put the inline skates on every weekend and racked up the miles on the local trails. My miles were much different than his. As I pushed, sweated, and worked for every stride, most of his time was spent skating backwards in front of me, coaching me along, and on occasion would break away to ‘stretch his legs’, then wait patiently for me to catch up.

I reminded myself that we were here for fun. After all, we had met up at this race in Duluth Minnesota for more than the skating. Friends came from several states away. Ones we hadn’t seen in far too long. The skating, to them, was only secondary.

Stepping off the bus, I was astounded. Three thousand five hundred people where here to skate this race and yet everyone was calm, collected, and making their way to the appropriate fitness stage for start times. We found ours, but not our friends. The crowd was too thick. Bang! Here we go!

I have seen wonderful sites in my life. The Sistine Chapel. The Rome Colosseum, Big Ben, the canals of Amsterdam. But, that finish line is one of the most memorable and beautiful things. Bleachers full of people flanked each side of the the road. Flags, banners and festive music filled our senses and took the pain from our legs. Mystery Man stayed with me all the way to the end and we crossed the finish line together.

We found our friends and hugs lasted minutes as we soaked everyone in. It had, indeed, been way too long.  We had two days and we planned to make the most of it. Lunches lasted through dinner. Toasts where made with silly sayings and laughter, and solemn memories and wet eyes. Laughter rang in our ears long after retiring for the evening, and as I lay there and took stock of my body that I had pushed to the limit, the parts that hurt most were not my legs, but my cheeks and abdomen from smiling and laughing. Suddenly the skating, for me, was secondary.

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This is a recipe from a friend in the skating community.  We (lovingly) call it Chicken Shit in our house, but I have renamed it for you. Your welcome.

 

One-Pot Mexican Chicken & Rice

Ingredients:
1 Pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut into bite-sized pieces)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 – 13 Ounce can chicken broth
1 – 8 Ounce can tomato sauce
1 Package taco seasoning (check for gluten in the ingredients)
1 can corn, drained
1 green pepper (diced)
1 1/2 Cup minute rice
1/2 Teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
Corn chips

Toppings:
All Toppings are Optional
1 – 2 Ounce can Sliced Olives
Shredded Mexican/Spicy Cheese
Sour Cream
Lettuce
Tomatoes (diced)

Preparation:
• Heat olive oil in 4” deep heavy pan over medium heat until shimmering
• Add chicken and cook (stirring) until no loner pink
• Add broth, tomato sauce and seasoning packet. Stir and bring to a boil.
• Reduce heat and simmer for minutes.
• Add corn and pepper, stir and bring to a boil.
• Stir in rice, cover the pan and remove from heat.
• Fluff with fork and adjust spice with hot sauce if desired.
• Serve with toppings and corn chips.

Notes:
For a crowd – Do not drain corn. Add one cup of water and one additional cup of rice. Transfer to crock pot on low. Serve directly out of crock pot. Check periodically to make sure it does not dry out. Add water as needed. This dish is just as good, or better the next day.

Options:
Vegetarian –  Add one can of thoroughly rinsed black beans, omit the chicken, use vegetable broth.

 

 

 

Homemade Ice Cream

Homemade Icecream

The sun is shinning through the farm house kitchen window, stretching through the doorway, and casting an orange glow over the brown shag carpeting of the family room. The smell of cake lingers in the air, interrupted every so often with whiffs of lemon scented dusting polish. The lawn mower whizzes by the back windows with a growl, and it’s the only thing I can hear over the loud whirring and grinding of the ice cream maker that is nested in the laundry tub of the mud room.  The house has been cleaned, floors vacuumed, and a small card table for presents is set up in the corner along with a chair for the guest of honor. We are just about ready.

It’s a birthday party.

Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins will be here soon and the gathering will begin. It is not as formal as it sounds. The kids will arrive – ranging from seven years older than me to three years younger. The age differences disappear as soon as the car doors slam shut and we all run through the orchard for a game of freeze tag or balance on the porch railing like circus tight rope walkers. I bring out my rock collection (shoe) box and bug jars and my closest cousin and I comb the driveway for new additions.

An adult voice calls out from the house and we all run inside. Presents are opened and passed around, and a friendly wrapping-paper-ball fight ensues. The candles are lit, we sing the song, and the homemade cake in the shape of the birthday girl’s favorite character is cut. I carefully cup the bowl of cake with both hands and stand in line at the laundry tub as Daddy scoops from the now-quiet wooden drum. It starts to melt no sooner than it rolls down the slice of cake and nests in the bottom of the bowl.

This is the taste of summer. This is the taste of a birthday.

 

Home Made Ice Cream

 

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups whole cream

1 1/4 cups whole milk

1/3 cup plus granulated sugar

1/3 cup corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 large egg yolks

 

 

Preparation

1. Combine cream, milk, 1/8 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, corn syrup, and salt in medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is steaming steadily and registers 175 degrees, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat.

2. While cream mixture heats, whisk yolks and remaining 1/8 cup sugar in bowl until smooth, about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk 1 cup heated cream mixture into egg yolk mixture. Return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and registers 180 degrees, 7 to 14 minutes. Immediately pour custard into large bowl and let cool until no longer steaming, 10 to 20 minutes. Transfer 1 cup custard to small bowl. Cover both bowls with plastic wrap. Place large bowl in refrigerator and small bowl in freezer and cool completely, at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. (Small bowl of custard will freeze solid.)

3. Remove custards from refrigerator and freezer. Dip the bottom of the frozen custard cup into warm water for easy release. Remove frozen custard from small bowl into large bowl of custard. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Stir and cut frozen custard until fully dissolved. Strain custard through fine-mesh strainer and transfer to an already-churning ice-cream machine. Churn until mixture resembles thick soft-serve ice cream and registers about 21 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer ice cream to glass bowl or dish (I use a pyrex bowl with tight fitting lid) and press plastic wrap on surface to prevent ‘skin’ from forming. Return to freezer until firm 3 hours.

(Ice cream can be stored for up to 5 days.)

 

 

Guacamole

Guac

She showed up at Swing Night just about the same month as I did. Her porcelain white skin, pearly white teeth, spunky curly hair and youthful smile made for an evening of never ending dance partners. Plus, she was good, and always looked like she was having a blast without ever breaking a sweat. I admired her from a distance and our interactions were brief for weeks, until one particular night when Mystery Man  and I were working on a few steps off to the side of the dance floor.

The Charleston basic was proving difficult for me and my frustration level had hit an all time high. I secretly wondered why I was even trying, why I cared so much, and why I shouldn’t just leave and find some other hobby. But, he was being kind and offering tips, so I couldn’t just up and go without seeming very rude. So there I was struggling through it. Then Spunky Girl walked up. She watched for a minute.

“Oh, you mean like this?” she chirped, and banged out the step right then and there.

There are times in life when you make a choice.

For a split second I considered gathering my things, muttering something like “go ahead you two, knock yourselves out” and leaving, never to return.

I am so glad that split second came and went, and I stayed put. That was seventeen years ago. Spunky Girl became my Homey and together we have danced miles on the same floors (including the Charleston), met our husbands, graduated, started careers and had our children. My admiration for her started on the dance floor and continues to this day.

She likes to bring this Guacamole to our gatherings. I hope you have Homey you can share it with, too.
Guacamole
Ingredients:
3-4 very ripe avocados
1 small to medium red onion, finely diced
1 Anaheim chile, finely diced
1 lime, squeezed, (about 2 tablespoons)
1/2 lemon, squeezed (about 1 tablespoon)
cilantro to taste (about 1 tablespoon, chopped)
salt to taste
tortilla chips

Preparation:
•    Slice the avocados all the way around and pull apart. Scoop out the flesh and place in a food processor. Reserve the pits.
•    Add diced onion and chile.
•    Give the food processor two one-second pulses.
•    Add the lime juice, lemon juice and cilantro.
•    Pulse the food processor in one-second increments until the guacamole is the texture you prefer.
•    Remove from bowl with rubber spatula into a serving dish. Add the pits to the guacamole (this keeps it from turning brown so quickly).
•     Adjust cilantro to taste.
•    Serve with tortilla chips.

Notes:
This also can be made by hand in a large mortar and pestle set.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deviled Eggs and Green Beans

Deviled EggsMy father’s side of the family had gatherings galore. It may have been just the Grandparents and a few aunts, uncles and cousins. Or it may have been the whole shootin match including second cousins of whom I would routinely forget the names.

There were birthdays at the Cousin’s house with baseball in the side yard and playing ‘fort’ in the tree-less tree house.

There were retirement parties with volleyball nets in the back yard of the Great Uncle where I learned diving on your knees is for athletes, with knee guards.

There were Christmases with rousing games of Uno and Pit card games in Grandma’s dining room.

There were Easter Egg hunts at Great Aunt’s house where I said hello to my first snake in a huge pile of wood stacked for the winter.

We ran, played and explored until dark and sometimes into the night chasing lightning bugs and playing flashlight tag through the corn fields. Mom and Dad would give many fair warnings when it was time to go home but we always whined and cried when the minutes ran out. Wide awake and promising we were not tired, we were forced into the car. By the time we arrived home they would have to carry our sleeping bodies to bed.

No gathering was complete without an enormous meal. If you wanted to come to one of our gatherings, you’d better have a dish in your hand to get through the door. We were all about the potlucks. Gone was the belief that one maternal member of the family was to slave away in the kitchen, only to slave away again cleaning up afterwards. Each person had their specialty dish and I looked forward to each one.

My talented mother walked through the door with two, and sometimes three dishes in hand. Deviled Eggs and Green Beans were the ‘expected’ dishes and sometimes, if she had time, there would be a pie or cake in tow.

The next time you find yourself going to a houseful of family I hope you reach for these recipes, I promise they are crowd pleasers. Who knows, maybe you will have so much fun someone will have to carry you to bed. ­­

Deviled Eggs

Ingredients:

12 eggs, hard boiled, peeled and rinsed {how to hard boil eggs}

1 cup Miracle Whip divided into 2 – 1/2 cup measures

1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon prepared mustard

Pinch salt

Preparation:

• Carefully slice the eggs in half and put yolks in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer or a bowl suitable for a hand mixer. Place the egg whites on a serving platter to be filled later.

• In a small bowl mix 1/2 cup Miracle Whip with vinegar, sugar and mustard. Let stand for five minutes and stir again.

• Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment beat the dry egg yolks along with the salt for about thirty seconds. Add the Miracle Whip mixture to the beaten egg yolks and whip until smooth, about thirty seconds.

• Add the remaining Miracle Whip and blend until uniformly mixed.

To fill the eggs:

• Scoop egg filling into a pastry bag using a large tip, or a quart-sized zip plastic bag with the corner snipped off. Fill the reserved egg white halves to the inner rim. Once all eggs are filled, use the remaining filling to top off each egg.

• Garnish, if desired. (Good garnishes are: paprika, parsley, sliced olive, pimento, etc.)

• Refrigerate until ready to serve. Make up to two days in advance.

How to Hard Boil Eggs

Put the eggs in a single layer in a saucepan, completely cover with cold water. Turn the burner on high and bring the water to a boil. As soon as the water starts to boil reduce the heat to low. Let simmer for twelve minutes. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and place them into a bowl of ice water (or strain the water from the pan, fill the pan with cold water, strain again, fill again, until the eggs cool down). Let eggs cool until easily handled with bare hands. Refrigerate for up to four days or proceed making deviled eggs.

Hints – Fresh eggs can be hard to peal, so buying them a week before the event is a good plan. If eggs are still hard to peal, try refrigerating them for a few hours (if you have time) and try again.

Mom’s Green Beans for a Crowd

Ingredients:

1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 can (8 pound, 5 ounce) cut green beans

salt to taste (about ¼ – ½ teaspoon)

pepper taste (about ¼ – ½ teaspoon)

Preparation:

• In a large, deep pan fry the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon pieces with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Set aside.

• Pour the bacon grease from the pan, but to not wipe it clean. Leave the bits of bacon in the pan and a small amount of grease. Discard or refrigerate the remaining grease for other recipes.

• Drain the green beans, reserving 1 cup of the liquid.

• Pour the reserved liquid in the pan used to fry the bacon. Bring to a boil and stir to loosen the stuck-on bacon pieces.

• Salt and pepper the resulting broth to taste.

• Add the drained green beans to the broth in the pan. Carefully stir, coating the green beans with the seasoned broth.

• Salt and pepper the green beans to taste, if needed.

• Place in a warm oven or transfer to a crock pot set on low until ready to serve.