Snapshot Saurday – Grave Marker

June is an incredibly hard month for me this year.  This week, especially, because June 13th marks the one year anniversary of my father’s death.  I can’t believe he’s been gone for an entire year.  There are days when I feel like I spoke to him less than 24 hours ago, and others when I feel like he’s been missing from my life for an eternity.  I’m continuing to use this month’s Snapshot Saturday Posts to pay tribute to him.  I couldn’t think of a more fitting tribute to honor this painful anniversary than a simple photo taken of his head stone.  I know you are always looking down on me and I can’t thank you enough for everything you did for me!  I love and miss you more than you could know.

Daddy's Headstone

Daddy's view

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Tasty Tuesday – Panko Crusted Ricotta Stuffed Chicken

Wow, I sure do eat an incredible amount of chicken.  I don’t (actually can’t) eat beef these days, pork is all good (but tends to require extensive care to insure it isn’t dry), and I like seafood (but not everyone in my house is a fan).  Which leaves me with chicken as my go to option…  That being said, I really do enjoy it; however, I’m always on the look out for different was to mix things up a bit.  I love Pinterest for just this reason!  I found this interesting recipe for Panko Crusted Ricotta Stuffed Chicken Breasts while I was searching for something more diverse thank another sauce or marinade for chicken breast.

Tomatoes are a definite no go in our house, so I had to revise the recipe slightly, but it wasn’t a very big change, more of a simple omission.  I got everything I needed together: 1 cup of low fat ricotta cheese (I used regular), a handful of chopped baby spinach, 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil, 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, 2 chicken breasts, Italian seasoned panko crumbs, 2 tsp olive oil.

Stuffed Chicken Ingredients

Once I had everything together, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees and got my heavy oven safe skillet out.  Then it was time to put together the stuffing.  I combined the ricotta, spinach, Parmesan cheese, basil, garlic, salt and pepper in a glass bowl and set it aside.

ricotta chopped spinach grated cheese fresh basilminced garlic salt pepper Spinach & Ricotta Stuffing

When that was all set, I moved on to prepping the chicken.  I rinsed each piece, trimmed it and then butterflied the breasts.  That means I cut a slice through the middle of each one longways without going all the way through.  It makes a pocket of sorts, which I then filled with the stuffing.

Butterflied Chicken Boobs Stuffed Chicken Breast

Next it was time to apply the crust.  I filled a bowl with the panko crumbs and rolled each stuffed breast to cover all of the chicken.

Panko Crusting

Once they were coated nicely, I brought the chicken over to the stove and heated the olive oil in the skillet I took out earlier.  When the olive oil was warm, I placed the chicken in the pan and let it cook for 3 minutes or so.  Then I turned it over and put the entire skillet in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

heat the olive oilSear the 1st side turn them over and bake

I loved this recipe, and will definitely be making it again!  Who wants to join me for dinner?

Panko Crusted Ricotta & Spinach Stuffed Chicken

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Snapshot Saturday – Sunset

June is an incredibly hard month for me this year, as it  is the one year anniversary of my father’s death.  I can’t believe he’s been gone for such a finite amount of time.  There are days when I feel like I spoke to him less than 24 hours before, and others when I feel like he’s been missing from my life for an eternity.  I decided to use this month’s Snapshot Saturday Posts to pay tribute to him and some of the places he loved most.

This week I’m going to start with a picture of the beach at sunset.  It seems a fitting remembrance of a former lifeguard, swimmer and diver on what would have been his 66th birthday.  I miss you Daddy and wish you were here to see what great changes life has brought me over the last 12 months.  I’m riding the tide and rolling with the waves just like you always taught me.

Crescent Beach, Glen Cove, NY

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Tasty Tuesday – Pork and Sauerkraut

I was introduced to a new dish this past New Year’s Day, and I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to try and recreate it for Gwen.  It is a traditional New Year’s meal here in Akron – you know the whole cows stand still, chickens scratch backwards and pigs push forward thing.  I found a close approximation on Pinterest, and with a few minor changes I recreated the meal I so enjoyed this winter, Pork and Sauerkraut.

It’s a fairly simple meal to prepare.  The trick is that it needs to cook low and slow, which is why the recipe say to cook the meal in a slow cooker.  I gathered the ingredients the recipe called for: 1-2 pounds of boneless country style pork ribs, 2 pounds of undrained sauerkraut, and 1/4 cup of water.  I adjusted the recipe slightly by adding the secret ingredient that the person who made it for me boasted about, a 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and an onion for bit of balance against the sweet of the brown sugar.

Pork and Sauerkraut Ingredients

I followed the recipe’s directions and first layered in the pork ribs.  Then I added the onion and covered everything with the sauerkraut.

Boneless Country Style Pork Ribs  Add an Onion   Cover Everything with Kraut

Next I added the brown sugar and the water.

Add the Secret Ingredient   Now a little Extra Liquid

When everything was in the crock pot, I turned the heat to low and let it cook away for 8-10 hours.  I have to tell you that the house smell amazing when I got home from work!

Traditional Pork and Sauerkraut

I served it in a shallow bowl with a nice hunk of crusty bread to sop up the tangy juices.  Are there any traditional holiday meals that you serve at other times of the year?

 

 

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Snapshot Saturday – Abstraction

May’s Snapshot Saturday posts are a series of abstract images I’ve taken so far in 2014.  This one i particularly enjoy!  Any ideas what it is, or where you can find it?

Coffee Table

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Quest to Read Them All – Truths and Roses

The next stop on my Quest to Read Them All brings me to an e-book I downloaded for free as a promo with another book I bought.  As the title of this series suggests, I have set out to read every book I own, even the ones I didn’t actually intend to purchase, and Inglath Cooper’s Truths and Roses was next on my To Be Read List.

Truths and Roses

In this case, not having actually paid for the book was a good thing.  It meant that I wasn’t nearly as annoyed as I would’ve been had I actually spent money on the book.  I just couldn’t get into the story.  I love a good romance novel as much as the next girl.  I can’t get enough of Susan Mallery and Catherine Bybee, but this book just didn’t draw me in.  I couldn’t get behind the romance between the traumatized small town librarian and the forced to retire professional football hero.  The book had all the required ups and downs of a good romance, I just wasn’t caught.  Definitely not one I would recommend or seek out the rest of this author’s stories based on.

 

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Tasty Tuesday – Shredded Buffalo Chicken

I felt like something spicy this week, so I headed off to Pinterest to find a recipe for Buffalo Chicken.  There are thousands of possibilities, and I found hundreds of options for various types of spicy food, but I’m really a creature of habit, so I went with a recipe for Shredded Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches.

After a trip to the grocery store, I gathered all of the ingredients: 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 pound of boneless chicken thighs – cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces,coarse salt, ground pepper, 1 pound boneless chicken breasts – cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces, 1 diced medium yellow onion, 3 minced garlic cloves, 1 seeded and diced medium red bell pepper, 1 can (14.5 ounces) crushed tomatoes, 1/4 cup hot-pepper sauce, 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons yellow mustard, 1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses, hamburger buns, blue cheese crumbles (my own addition).

Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken

I cleaned and cut up all of the chicken. When the thighs and breast meat were cut into 1″ pieces I browned them in the olive oil, making sure to season all of it with salt and pepper.

Brown the Chicken Thigh Pieces   Season with Salt   and fresh ground pepper

Put the Chicken in the Crock Pot

Now that your skillet is empty, it’s time to cook the veggies.  Add the seeded and diced pepper, diced onion and minced garlic to the pan and cook them stirring constantly until the onions are translucent.  When they are cooked through, add the water and deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom to get off all of the stuck on bits and extra flavor.  Then dump the contents of the skillet into the slow cooker.

cook the veggies  deglaze the pan

Next add the crushed tomatoes, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and molasses to the crock pot.

add the crushed tomatoes   add the hot sauce   add the Worcestershire sauce   add the mustard   add the molasses

Give a nice stir to mix it all together, then cover it and let it cook.  The recipe says 4 hours on high, but I had to work, so I let it cook for 7 on low.

set it and forget it

It smelled so good when I got home, but there was still a bit to do before we could sit down for dinner.  I used a potato masher to shred the chicken.  It sounds weird, but it totally worked.  If you don’t have a potato masher, you can use 2 forks.

Ready to Shred   Shredding the chicken   Shredded Buffalo Chicken

When it was all pulled apart, I took a nice crusty roll and added a heaping pile of chicken, then topped it with some blue cheese crumbles.  Was it ever yummy!  I love the flavor, and it reminded me so much of sitting at the 99 in Keene with my friends!

Shredded Buffalo Chicken and Bleu Cheese Sandwich

Hmmm, I wonder what flavor or smell will transport me next?  Has that ever happened to you?

 

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