Quick Caribbean Jerk Chicken Breasts

Quick Caribbean Jerk Chicken Breasts

Quick Caribbean Jerk Chicken Breasts

Similar to my original Caribbean Jerk Chicken Breasts recipe, this new Quick Caribbean Jerk Chicken Breasts is almost as tasty, without the waiting for hours.  If the grill is already hot, and you’re tired of waiting, try this method.  I think you’ll agree that it’s a welcome substitute!

Pistachio Nut Bundt Cake

Pistachio Nut Bundt Cake

Pistachio Nut Bundt Cake

Well, I just missed St. Patrick’s Day with this Pistachio Nut Bundt Cake recipe, but I proceeded to try it anyway.  The almond-flavored glaze is what set it apart for me, although the mix of brown sugar, cinnamon, and chopped walnuts in the middle helped quite a bit!

I think you’ll love this different spin on an otherwise common dessert.

Pistachio Nut Bundt Cake with Almond Glaze

Pistachio Nut Bundt Cake with Almond Glaze

FDA Announces Proposed Changes to Nutrition Facts Labels

Today the FDA announced proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts Labels we’ve seen on food products since 1993.

Often, I don’t agree with new government “guidelines,” but this is one change I’m glad to see.  The proposed labels are more in line with the servings we actually eat, instead of what we should be eating.  Vitamin D and potassium content would be mandatory on the new label, along with the current Iron and Calcium.  Vitamin A and vitamin C would be dropped from the labels.

One change that I especially like is that the Serving Size, Number of Servings in Package, and Calories will all be very bold and/or prominent at the top of the label.  One thing I will miss is the “percent of calories in fat,” which I’ve always used as a “put it back on the shelf” kind of warning.  Now that fact has been removed, and the saturated and trans fats are considered more important.

If you’re like me, you read those labels religiously before you buy a product, and I’ve always hated the unrealistic portion size (serving size) printed on those labels, forcing me to calculate in my mind how many calories I’m actually get in twice the serving size of that ice cream, for example.

There were three short 2-page documents published by the FDA today, and I’ve combined them in a single downloadable PDF file here:  Proposed FDA Changes to Nutrition Facts Labels.

Let me know what you think of these changes.  I like them!

Indoor-Grilled Pork Chops

Indoor-Grilled Pork Chops

Indoor-Grilled Pork Chops

On a cold day, when you don’t feel like standing outdoors tending to your grill, this Indoor-Grilled Pork Chops recipe makes use of that George Foreman or other indoor grill.  It also gave me another excuse to use one of my favorite grill accessories:  Weber Roasted Garlic & Herb Seasoning (http://weberseasonings.com).  Don’t skip the optional orange marmalade sauce; prepare it while you are cooking the pork chops.  It makes the meal.

Probably my most favorite side dish with pork chops (or ham) is Glory Sensibly Seasoned Mixed Greens (http://gloryfoods.com), so don’t forget that, either.

Candied Sweet Potatoes

Candied Sweet Potatoes

Candied Sweet Potatoes

If you’re on a low-fat diet, this is a butter-free holiday recipe that doesn’t scrimp on flavor.  Like it did for me, this may become your favorite way to make sweet potatoes during the holidays, or any time of year.

I learned this technique from an ex-wife, whose mother was a school nutritionist for over 30 years.  You won’t find a simpler method, either.

Everyone knows the best sweet potatoes are grown in Mississippi, and every year some friends of mine bring sacks or boxes of this wonderful root vegetables from their neighbor’s farm there.

Although my Candied Sweet Potatoes recipe serves about four people, you can easily double all the ingredients and use a larger baking dish to feed a larger family.  By the way, most people will want seconds of this dish!

Blue Ribbon Maple Baked Beans

Blue Ribbon Maple Baked Beans

Blue Ribbon Maple Baked Beans

I first made these Blue Ribbon Maple Baked Beans for one of my neighborhood Memorial Day cookouts, and they all but disappeared.  Several friends wanted to know what the unusual taste was about.  It’s about the maple syrup, but if you don’t have maple syrup, I’ve used Log Cabin pancake syrup with equally tasty results!

It’s a little trouble, but well worth the wait, and you can even freeze any leftovers for another occasion.

Mystery BBQ Sauce

Mystery BBQ Sauce

Mystery BBQ Sauce

You can find the two mystery ingredients in this delicious Mystery BBQ Sauce when you view the PDF file.  Just go to the Tips section to identify the mystery ingredients.

I’ve tried this sauce on chopped brisket sandwiches, sliced brisket, smoked sausages, hickory burgers, and baked beans.  It is not too sweet and not too spicy.  It’s just right, with great flavor and consistency!

Ending a Long Conversation

Have you ever felt trapped in an endless loop of conversation with a friend, or even someone you just met?  Of course you have.  Being human, we love to talk.

There are several techniques of ending a long conversation, and depending on who started the conversation, there are several methods to do this without offending the other party.  There are also ways of ending conversation and, in one fell swoop, ending a friendship unintentionally, too.  So, you may need to tread lightly, but be firm in your resolve.

I have been thinking about this topic a lot recently, because I had a married couple that I’ve known for over six years, whom I liked very much, to move away from the senior citizen apartment community where I live.  I miss them.  My friend’s wife told me in front of her husband that they couldn’t seem to get a neighbor out of their lives who had become a too-frequent visitor.  Although they valued the friendship of this neighbor, he would show up just when they began lunch, or during their afternoon nap, or when they were trying to leave to go someplace else.  Once inside, they could not seem to end the conversation and get him to leave their apartment.

Her favorite TV show happens to be “Dancing with the Stars,” and more than once, he has asked her to turn down the volume on her own TV so they could talk. This was the final straw for her.  When I asked the husband of my friend if he felt the same way, he said, “We just need a change.”  As my friends were packing to move, the lonely conversation-obsessed neighbor appeared and asked, “Is the rent cheaper where you’re moving?”  My friends feared the worst…that he was considering moving to the same place just to be near them, so they told him, “No, the rent is higher, and we have to pay the water bill there, too.”

Now, I will tell you a secret.  The wife of my friend has a conversation problem herself, and probably doesn’t recognize it.  Once started, she doesn’t know how to end a conversation, and it can become quite long at times.  Apparently, she can’t tolerate the same behavior in another person, although she doesn’t appear suddenly at my residence at inopportune times like their neighbor does.  She’s just one of those people that you run into while out on your daily walk through the neighborhood, and a conversation begins that lasts 45 minutes without a lull.  I have nicknamed her “The Gazette,” because she tells everything she has heard about every one of our neighbors.  I admit, I don’t mind hearing this for five minutes or so, but it just keeps going, and often strays to unrelated tales of woe.

My neighborhood is composed of senior citizens, many of whom don’t have frequent visitors, and don’t mind telling you that.  Then they will flat tell you that they’re lonely, and miss the friends they used to have, which makes me feel guilty if I don’t stay and talk a little.

Some of this is my fault, though.  I have a habit of using my friends and neighbors as guinea pigs when I want an opinion on a new muffin or cake recipe, so I will bring the muffins or cake to our regular exercise class or other occasion and share with them.  Sometimes, I will even carry some muffins to my favorite neighbors.  This can sometimes start long conversations that I wish I hadn’t started.

Recently, this happened with a new widow friend, who invited me in to “chat.”  Our friendship started when I passed out some muffins at exercise class, then offered to install a filter on her icemaker, like I had done for a couple of other neighbors.  One thing led to another, and she mentioned that she needed to pick up a prescription across town, but didn’t like to drive in heavy traffic, especially in heavy rain, so I volunteered to take her there.

This chat lasted almost two hours, in which I might have spoken a couple of sentences myself.  When I really wanted to go, I simply said, “Well, I need to go to the bathroom, so I’m going to leave now,” to which she replied, “Feel free to use my bathroom.”  My lightning-fast mind told me that this was a sign she wasn’t through talking to me, so I simply said, “I wouldn’t do that to you.”  After she laughed, I said, “Until next time, then,” and hurriedly left, my new friendship still intact.

For some really good ideas on how to end a conversation, you must read the article that inspired this post of mine.  One of my favorite blog subscriptions published this article some time ago, and I read it again this morning:  http://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/03/06/how-to-end-a-conversation.  You don’t have to be the male of the species to appreciate this article, because it applies to female conversations as well.  Oh, by the way, be sure to read the comments left by other readers.  There are some really good ideas to end conversations there, and you will find some humor, too.

Spicy Rosemary Chicken Breasts

Spicy Rosemary Chicken Breasts

Spicy Rosemary Chicken Breasts (with double rosemary)

Today I wanted to try a little experiment.  I wanted chicken breast, but I was craving something really bursting with flavor and a little spicy.  Also, I wanted it to be lower in fat and sodium.

I certainly accomplished that with this Spicy Rosemary Chicken Breasts creation!  This recipe exceeds my desires in the flavor department, and is not too spicy for most palates.  It certainly is delicious if you’re looking to embolden those chicken breasts just a little more than usual.

If you’re thinking that is too much rosemary on that chicken in the photo, you might be right.  Although I thoroughly enjoyed it, I cut it back from two teaspoons to one teaspoon in the recipe afterwards.  If you’re like me, though, go ahead…live dangerously!  It won’t hurt you; in fact, it was downright deliciously different.  How could I have known unless I tried it?

Served with green beans and/or scalloped potatoes, this makes a perfect lunch or supper for two!  Maybe some of that leftover dressing from Thanksgiving dinner would be good, too.  What do you think?

Thanksgiving Dinner 2013

Turkey Breast with Mushroom and Crock-Pot Chicken Dressing

Turkey Breast with Mushroom and Crock-Pot Chicken Dressing

For Thanksgiving, or even at Christmas, the recipes below will require that you use two different Crock-Pots if you plan on serving them together.  I use a 5-quart size for the turkey, and a 4-quart size for the dressing.

Two or three years ago, I discovered and slightly modified a Turkey Breast with Mushroom Sauce recipe from Quick Cooking, March/April 2000, p. 45 (http://tasteofhome.com).  This has become my favorite way to prepare turkey breast, because it’s so easy and amazingly delicious.  Mushroom sauces do have their place, and add to the overall flavor of recipes like this.  Without reservation, I can guarantee that you will truly enjoy this dish and may decide, like I did, that this is the preferred way to cook turkey breast.  It is “falling apart” tender, and the sauce is a perfect match.  The first time I cooked turkey breast this way, I thought that there was no way it could beat the flavor of an oven-roasted turkey, but I was wrong.  Plus, you can save the oven for baking those candied yams or other dish.

Along with the turkey, I will be preparing my Crock-Pot Chicken Dressing for the main side dish.  I have shared this recipe with many friends, and in every case, they say it is the most flavorful, moist dressing they always hope for during the holidays.  The sauce has a good sage flavor, and doesn’t even need extra gravy, because it’s so moist all by itself.  This recipe is tried and true, and is modified from my niece’s original recipe, Shannon’s Crock-Pot Chicken Dressing, which feeds about 24 people.  My recipe serves 8-10.

For other side dishes, I prefer green beans or candied sweet potatoes or yams, and jellied cranberry sauce, but some might like some mashed potatoes with brown gravy.  I’ll be enjoying these things this week, including both pumpkin bread recipes I posted earlier this week.  How about you?


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