Coping With A Harsh Michigan Winter – Saucy Chicken & Sugar Snap Pea Stroganoff

The 2019 Winter Season has settled in here in Michigan–and hard. For the past three weeks, at least one day of school has been cancelled due to unsavory weather conditions. One entire week was cancelled just because of the low temperatures. It’s times like this that I am so grateful I don’t have to leave the comfort of my home. The freezers are stocked, the fridge is full, and the pantry is restocked after the 2018 holiday season. If I choose, I only have to leave the house every couple of weeks to pick-up milk and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Truth be told, I do like to get out of the house at least once a week to pick up things that go on sale at our local grocery store. Beyond that, however, I’m pretty content staying inside the warm house, safe from the harsh winds and bitter temperatures we have been bombarded with as of late.

I have wanted to make a chicken version of Stroganoff for some time, but I really didn’t want it to taste “just” like beef Stroganoff only with chicken. Don’t get me wrong, I love beef Stroganoff, especially with shaved beef, but I like variety, as does the family. With the challenging weather conditions outside, I finally found the time to sit down and figure out how I to tackle this recipe. First, I decided that adding sugar snap peas would be a good alternative to mushrooms. Keeping with the mushroom theme, though, I used cream of mushroom soup.

The next change from my traditional beef Stroganoff was to use chicken broth to thin the soup rather than milk. This would give the sauce a richness and more depth than the milk. I figured that any creaminess that might be lost by eliminating the milk would easily be compensated for with the sour cream.

The results? Well, this turned out to be an instant hit. It was mild, tender, tasty, and an immediate addition to my recipe arsenal. And best of all, it didn’t mimic my beef Stroganoff but rather established itself as a new and unique dish.

Saucy Chicken & Sugar Snap Pea Stroganoff

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 3-4 Pounds Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs, cut into bite-size strips
  • ½-¾ Pound Sugar Snow Peas
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 Cans Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • ½-1 Cup Chicken Broth
  • 2 tsp. Paprika
  • 1 Cup Sour Cream
  • 8 Ounces Cooked Noodles

Directions

  1. In a deep 12-inch skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add chicken and cook 5-6 minutes, turning several times. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Add snow peas and cover. Allow to cook undisturbed for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove lid and stir. Return lid and allow to cook another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add in condensed soup and paprika. Stir until sauce is smooth.
  6. Depending on how much liquid has accumulated in the pan, add chicken broth to thin soup to desired consistency.
  7. Bring chicken to boil and simmer 10-15 minutes until chicken is cooked through and sauce is hot.
  8. Reduce heat to low; stir in sour cream and cook 1-2 minutes more.
  9. Serve over cooked noodles.

Cooking Note

If you happen to use too much broth or if the sauce is thinner than desired, stir 1 Tbsp. corn starch in 3 Tbsp. cold water until smooth and add to boiling sauce before adding sour cream.

Another option is to add 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms with the snap peas. Note that the mushrooms may produce even more liquid when being cooked, so adjust the broth proportions as needed.

 

Recipe by:  Tilly Frueh – Simply Grateful Cooking 2019

I love it when a plan comes together (yeah, I grew up during the days of the original A-Team), and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

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Dark Chocolate Black Bean Brownies – Searching For Healthy Chocolate Snacks

One of the things I thought I would miss after my heart attack was eating sweets. Thing was, whenever I had anything with sugar in it, my chest would hurt. The damage to my heart made eating anything with sugar very risky because sugar is an inflammatory and it would inflame my heart and make it ache. So “missing” sugar wasn’t really an option because I was more concerned about healing than dwelling on what I was missing.

Something that I continually thought about as I was healing however, was how to manage stress and my ever surging emotions. In my research I learned that chocolate is good for stress reduction. Of course there are contradictory reports on this, but I know from experience that chocolate does relax me. The trick is to eat it in moderation and limit the other bad ingredients that might accompany the treat you choose to eat with chocolate in it. Other inflammatory food ingredients are flour and vegetable oils. Wheat flour and olive or peanut oil are good alternatives, but cutting either of these out all together would be even better.

When I found a recipe for black bean brownies, I played around with it, changing the oil and sugar contents and exchanging the milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips for dark or bittersweet chips. I didn’t get my hopes up, but after they came out of the oven and I got my first whiff, I knew these were going to be a great alternative. Once they were cool enough to try, Grace beat me to the pan and proclaimed that they were “AWESOME!” That alone was enough for me. I took a small piece (two bites) and enjoyed my first taste of chocolate in more than 6 weeks.

My heart didn’t ache, but I admit the sugar still had some effect on me. As when I eat anything, I have difficulty breathing now. With the additional sugar, my breathing was more labored, but not so much that I was concerned. Still, I will definitely limit how much I eat of these. Don’t worry, the brownies didn’t go to waste. Grace and Zeb finished them up without any trouble.

Dark Chocolate Black Bean Brownies

  • Servings: 16 Servings
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 Can (15 ounce) Black Beans, rinsed & drained
  • 2/3 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. Peanut or Olive Oil
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 2/3 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Baking Cocoa
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/8 tsp. Salt

Directions

  1. In a food processor, process beans, 1/3 cup chocolate chips, and oil until blended.
  2. Add remaining ingredients (less the remaining chocolate chips) and process until smooth.
  3. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°.
  5. Transfer batter to prepared pan and sprinkle with remaining chips.
  6. Bake 22-27 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. Cut into 16 pieces.

Cooking Note

These brownies are rich, moist, and super chocolatey. No one knew there wasn’t any flour in them, nor could they taste the beans. 

Recipe by:  Tilly Frueh – Simply Grateful Cooking 2019

These brownies were a great treat to enjoy while my heart is healing even though I didn’t actually eat a whole lot of them. My next step is to try making them with honey in place of the brown sugar. Still, without the flour, they are definitely healthier than any boxed or store-bought version out there. Every little change helps, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Garlic & Parmesan Whole Wheat Croutons – Healthy Alternative to Store-Bought

After my “broken heart” heart attack, I changed my diet. I cut out a lot of things, but one constant at nearly every meal was salad. Because of this, I really needed to find different things to add to the leafy greens.

One afternoon while perusing the isles at Wal-Mart for different options, I came across croutons. Stopping to read the ingredient lists, I was appalled to find that every crouton option was filled with processed carbs and ingredients I couldn’t even pronounce. Plus, there wasn’t one whole wheat option.

When I hit the bakery section of the store, I found a rack full of freshly baked bread. Among the loaves of bread I found loaves of whole wheat French bread and get this…it was only $1.00. How could I not buy it and make my own croutons. I mean, how hard could it be.

I came home, cubed the bread, and made the following recipe. They were wonderful. They were so good in fact that Hubby ate half the bag as a snack. He really wasn’t interested in using them in a salad, but as a snack they were perfect. He did leave me enough to enjoy in my salads the next day, then it was off to Wal-Mart for another loaf. These don’t last long in our house.

Garlic & Parmesan Whole Wheat Croutons

  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 Loaf Whole Wheat French or Italian Bread, cut into ½” – ¾” cubes
  • 2 tsp. Minced Garlic
  • 1 tsp. Dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp. Dried Basil
  • 1 tsp. Dried Thyme
  • ¾ tsp. Salt
  • ½ tsp. Pepper
  • ½ Cup Olive Oil
  • ¼ Cup Finely Grated Fresh Parmesan

Directions

  1. Combine garlic, spices and oil in a small saucepan.
  2. Simmer the mixture over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Place the bread cubes in a large bowl and toss with oil mixture.
  4. Spread bread cubes on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°.
  6. Bake cubes for 8 minutes.
  7. Remove cubes from oven, stir and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  8. Return to oven and bake for 7 minutes more, until golden.
  9. Remove from oven and sprinkle with additional salt if desired.
  10. Store in an airtight container for up to 10 days.

Cooking Note

These are great tossed with a salad, added to soup, or eaten straight from the container as a snack.

 

Recipe by:  Tilly Frueh – Simply Grateful Cooking 2019

A new way of life came out of my heart attack experience, and with that comes a whole lot of new recipes. I’m sure that this recipe is just as good with white French bread, but the whole wheat version is perfect for me, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

More Pulled Pork Please! — Pulled Pork Philly Sandwiches

For the past few months I have been trying to organize my recipes. I have stacks upon stacks of books, printed off recipes, and binders of typed up or clipped recipes that need to be consolidated, broken up into categories, and just put in some sort of order so I can find what I’m looking for without having to go through everything. It never fails, no matter what recipe I am looking for, a new one, a tried and true one, or one that I’m still trying to perfect, it will be the very last recipe in the very last pile I look.

As I have progressed on this journey I have made some interesting discoveries. First, I have an unbelievable amount of Breakfast & Brunch recipes. So many that I will need at least one three-inch binder to hold just the ones I’ve made and that have been accepted as tried and true. Continue reading