Comfort-Cookin'Welcome to the first entry of our cooking blog.  I hope to share with you tips to make you lives easier when it comes to cooking as well as sharing recipes to fit in our lives.  Even those of us who love to cook (and I do recognize not everyone does) find that preparing meals when we are living with persistent pain can sometimes be a challenge.  I hope this blog will help and I encourage you to share tips and recipes with us as well.  Also if you have any questions, please ask. We have a topic on our Wellness Forum where you can share your favorite recipes as well, so please be sure to visit our member forums.

What I would like to talk about to you first may not seem relevant however it is excellent for avoiding the stress which comes when it comes to the age old question, “What can I fix?”  People I have shared this with in the past have loved it.  You need either a theme book or file box with cards and a second theme book.  The theme book or file box with cards you are going to write down recipes and where to find them; ones you have tried and like as well as one you would like to try.  The other theme book you will use for planning.  Once a week (or every other week) you sit down and write out 7-8 (or 14-16) menus.  These are just a guide to help you with shopping, “ease” that what to fix panic, as well as allow you to break things down sometimes to short periods of time instead of all last minute.  Don’t forget to list some main dish salads and hot sandwiches.  You want to include the name of the recipe and where to find it.  If it has ingredients which you may not usually have or an ingredient which needs to be identified (such as the recipe says chicken and actually calls for breasts) put them on there as well (fresh mushrooms is a frequent one for me).  You may have an entrée, a starch, a vegetable, and a salad or it may just be one or two of those. Things like a garden salad I don’t bother to include.  So a sample would be:

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole, Dell: The Chicken Cookbook p 68

(Cooked chicken, lemon juice)

Mandarin Orange and Avocado Salad

So on my shopping list I need to add broccoli, can of mandarin oranges, and avocados.  Then, the day I am going to fix it I know to thaw the cooked chicken meat in the morning.  I hope this isn’t too confusing because it really does make life easier.  Let me know if you have any questions.

Ziploc makes steamer bags which are time and energy savers.  I can cook fresh or frozen vegetables in them as a side dish or for a casserole (for a slightly shorter time).  No loss of nutrients and no pan to wash.  Some frozen and prepackaged fresh vegetables already come in a microwavable steamer bags.

I always have cooked chicken on hand as it is used in so many easy and energy-saving recipes.  There are three ways to obtain it; 1) you make a chicken recipe and have meat left over (either breast or dark), save it in the freezer; 2) I buy a store rotisserie chicken (bought the next day, cold, it is $1-$2 cheaper) and pull the meat off the bones and freeze it (if not using right away), and 3) Simmer some breasts in salted water with a few peppercorns and maybe a sliced onion thrown in.  Simmer about 20 minutes; use and/or freeze.

So here are two recipes using that cooked chicken.  The first I adapted from a recipe in the Dell: Chicken Cookbook.  It contained recipes from the 1976 National Chicken Cooking contest and this only is similar to the original recipe.  It has been my go to recipe for years when I need something quick and easy or if I needed a covered dish to take to someone who just had a baby or was sick.  Everyone has always liked it (including my picky kids).

[toggle title=”Chicken and Broccoli Casserole”]
2-3 cups cubed cooked chicken
2-3 cups Cooked Broccoli (or Asparagus)-crisp
1 can cream of chicken (or chicken& mushroom) soup
½ cup mayonnaise (I use Hellman’s low fat)
1 tsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. curry powder
1-2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar or cheddar mix)

Mix all together except for cheese and put in a 9”x13” casserole.  Sprinkle cheese over top. Cover (use foil if no cover) and bake 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Serves 4.

[toggle title=”Hot Chicken Sandwich”]
1-1 ½ pieces toast per person
½-3/4 cup cooked chicken, cubed or shredded, per person
1 can cream of mushroom soup
¼ cup Milk or no fat ½ & ½
2 Tbsp. sherry
2 slices cooked bacon per person
Shredded cheddar or cheddar mix

In individual casseroles or oven proof plates put toast.  Sprinkle with cooked chicken.  Make sauce with soup, milk, and sherry and spread over chicken and toast.  Place bacon on top.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes (cheese is melted but not browned).  Any leftover sauce can be refrigerated.[/toggle]

Lastly (although this can hardly be called a recipe):
[toggle title=”Avocado and Mandarin Orange Salad”]
Place some torn lettuce in a salad bowl. Slice a quarter of a ripe avocado over it.  Drain a can of Mandarin Oranges (saving liquid and unused segments for breakfast) and place about 8 segments over avocado (I have used fresh Clementines when I have them).  Sprinkle walnuts (plain, toasted, or glazed) over the salad and dress with “Naturally Delicious Light Blush Wine Vinaigrette.”[/toggle]

Bon appétit!

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