It has been a long and relaxing weekend. It started with a half day for Randa on Thursday – and concluded about 45 minutes ago when I put the girls to bed. In between was a few ‘events,’ but mostly, we stayed in… and cooked stuff, and were lazy.

It was nice.

The Movies

Paige and Kirsten and Josh have been quoting a movie since summer that I knew I would have to see eventually but felt somewhat cynical about. Turns out, Pitch Perfect is the (somewhat less inappropriate) Dodgeball of collegiate a capella films. Teehee. I have always liked Anna Kendrick, and Rebel Wilson is, of course, hysterical, but what I didn’t anticipate was that I would dig the music (especially discovering this song) and the sweetness of the friendships. And a Rocky reference never hurts.

juice packets and rocky

The other movie was Silver Linings Playbook. I have waited and waited for it to be showing near us, and I guess the Oscar nominations got it a wider release. Rod and I went to see it Sunday night, and I had high hopes. As a story, it didn’t disappoint. The ‘issues’ at stake were intense and messy and realistic and the performances were stellar. What took me by surprise (and was confirmed by my husband) was how much the lead female, Tiffany, reminded me of me in my early 20s. I mean, yikes… the temper, the rash/bad choices, the coping mechanisms, the fierce emotions and reactions. Oh, and the fabulous hair, of course :)







The Food
Other than watching movies, I cooked. This was coming off a 2-week fast and noting how less crap intake makes me feel less crappy. Even so, I managed to OD on pizza and Mexican food and discover a few great-tasting recipes and ingredients. Allow me to share:


I realize the whole of America (well, and Greece…) is already on this band wagon, but substituting Greek yogurt for sour cream, milk, etc. in a few recipes has been the Bomb Diggitay. For a Lia Sophia party I had on Saturday night, I used it in a Spinach Artichoke Dip = yum! Tonight, I used it and salt and a splash of milk for mashed potatoes and they were the best I have ever made. YAY for better ingredients.

Meanwhile, I baked some bread today. Even though Rod and Randa both like store-bought ‘barely bread’ better (what?!), it’s good for me to get in the habit of baking it again. Unfortunately, I used one of the loaves (I baked Italian) for a very, very naughty recipe. Darn The Pioneer Woman. (before you click, just know that it involved *2* sticks of butter and the 5 of us ate the whole darn thing…)

I also made homemade granola (note to self: needed more sticky-stuff, because half the pan is granola cereal…), biscuits and gravy for breakfast, and finally, finally, a passable substitute for my favorite soup in the world, served at El Cortez in Country Club Hills, IL, and ordered faithfully by me for the last 20 years. Yes. There is a menu item I have been faithful to for 20 years. Yikes. This one:

I still have some trial and error to get this perfect, and it will never be like it us “up there,” but in case you are interested in a little pizazz for your wintry chicken soup, here you go:

Kel’s Caldo-Whatsit Soup

3 or 4 limes
~about a pound of shredded chicken (I used leftovers from chicken tacos, but I am including the instructions for the chicken per the original recipe)).
1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (I use my garlic press for this…nice consistency)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 oz. chopped green chilies
3 cups water
1 1/2 tsp.  oregano
1/4 cup uncooked white rice
~garnish: cilantro, avocado, maybe a pinch of cumin, more lime!

Cut 1 lime into 4 to 6 wedges; set aside for serving. Juice as many of the remaining limes as needed to measure 1/4 cup.

{Season the chicken with the 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate}. Add the onion to the pan and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and chili and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the broth, water, lime juice, Chili’s, rice, and oregano, then return the chicken to the pan.

Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover partially and simmer until the chicken shows no sign of pink when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife near the bone, about 40 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a carving board and let cool slightly. Meanwhile, keep the soup at a simmer. Remove and discard the skin and bones, and shred the chicken into bite-size pieces. Stir the chicken into the soup. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper and garnish to your heart’s content. Warm flour tortillas dip nicely.

Serves 4 to 6.


beachy keenTomorrow I am going to go back to consuming more berries and lettuce than bread and butter. It’s about to be winter here in SC, and the next phase of my fast has started. If you see me, I’ll be wearing one of 7 things. More on that later this week… have a happy one!