Thursday, July 31, 2014

Favorite Summer Recipes, Part I

Like most people, we tend to use the grill for most of our dinners during the summer. However, there are some nights when I do cook dinner in the kitchen and, on those nights, I like to cook something that is light, simple, and - most importantly - doesn't require the use of my oven. 

I found this recipe in the May 2014 edition of Cooking Light and it was an instant hit with our family. It is hearty enough for dinner but won't leave you with that "oh, my gosh, I am stuffed!" feeling. Even if you eat three bowls of it. I served with a green salad. 

Chicken, Tortellini, and Spinach Soup with Pesto

Cooking Light MAY 2014
Yield: Serves 6 (serving size: 1 cup)


  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 (9-ounce) package whole-wheat cheese tortellini
  • 1 (5-ounce) package spinach
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced seeded tomato
  • 1/4 cup refrigerated pesto 


1. Heat a Dutch oven over high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes, browning on all sides. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds. Add stock; bring to a boil. Add tortellini; reduce heat to medium, and simmer 6 minutes or until tortellini are done. Stir in spinach, salt, and pepper. Divide soup among 6 bowls; top evenly with tomato and pesto.

And, of course I made some changes to the recipe! I made fresh pesto (using a lot of that basil from my garden), a fresh tomato, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. I put the pesto, chopped tomatoes, and grated cheese in small bowls on the table so each person could add what they liked and in the amount they preferred. The kids like spinach so I tripled the amount of spinach that the recipe called for. I used chicken breasts instead of the boneless chicken thighs but only because that is what I had on hand.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

From The Garden

The reward for me being very vigilant about watering and fertilizing my container gardens...

There are quite a few more green peppers and tomatoes on the plants and in various stages of growth. I hope that they continue to ripen without rotting or being eaten by bugs, squirrels, deer, etc. 
I have been using as much of this basil as possible but cannot keep up with the new growth. Both the basil and the french thyme in this pot grew like crazy!
As did the sage and parsley. 
The rosemary and lemon thyme did not do so well. I have no idea what happened but they literally died overnight. 
The boys at rest...
Chester has not outgrown his affinity for his lovies. It is hard to believe that it is almost one year since he became part of our family. He drives me absolutely CRAZY sometimes with his antics but I wouldn't trade him for the world. 
This is one of the few photos I have of Chester that show his eyes. 

The boys love playing "chase" around the yard with their cousin Ridley when we get them together. The photo below was taken when Ridley and Christopher visited my sister's home in Turtle Town, Tennessee for July 4th. She has grown so much! 
Have a great day!

A Long Time Coming!

I am not sure where the last four(+) months went...between crew (Caitlynne), basketball and football (Christopher), work (Kevin and I), running (Kevin and I), and keeping our home and our family somewhat together (me), the time just flew by and here it is the end of July. Yikes! I am particularly ashamed that I had promised a post the day after Saint Patrick's Day and this is the soonest I have gotten around to it! Trust me, almost every day I thought at least once about this blog and planned out a post to write. Several times I even went so far as to say to the kids, "today I WILL write a post". Alas, 'twas not to be. I was simply overcome by events as "they" say.

But, here I am. Energized. Organized. And desperately hoping to carve out enough time out of my crazy schedule to commit to posting 4-5 times a week. We shall see. I realized over the last 4+ months how very therapeutic writing for the blog was for me and how much I really missed it. 

I will start with the easiest "catch up". Running. While my blog publications ceased, my running did not. The weather has been fantastic (although who wouldn't say that after the winter we experienced here in Northern Virginia??) and I have been running like the madwoman that I am. I have been able to run 35+ miles/week several times recently and this month I am on track to run 125+ miles. I haven't seen those kind of numbers in a long time and am very happy!

Obviously, I have progressed great distances in my transcontinental journey. I ran six miles yesterday morning to reach mile 2850.0 and am 7.01 miles from the Yellowstone Park Entrance, in Wyoming (Teton County).
While it is great to see the end (also known as the Pacific Ocean) in the very near distance, the downside of my increased mileage is that my body is showing its age. I have numerous aches and pains - nothing too serious but bothersome. Every day something new hurts. Right now, I am running 5 (sometimes 6) days and I can feel it. I am thinking of a new plan for August to decrease my running and increase cross training, strength training, and stretching. 

Have a great day!