Chicken & Broccoli Stir-Fry

Chicken & Broccoli Stir-Fry: A Favorite Chinese Menu Item

You are going to love this rendition of a take-out favorite!

I was looking to change up our weekday dinner menu and I found this recipe on Pinterest, pinned from SkinnyMs.  It is super quick to prepare and cook, and it tastes amazing!

This is a true one-skillet meal, or easily prepared in your favorite electric pressure cooker.  There are 12 ingredients that are probably in your pantry, especially if you prepare Asian cuisine from time to time, and there are only 4 cooking steps.

I prepared my ingredients.  The bulk of the time was spent cubing the chicken and breaking the broccoli into bite-sized florets.

The first step to cooking is to mix the spices and liquid ingredients together for the sauce.

Then I toasted the sesame seeds.  This created a wonderful, nutty aroma!  Be careful here!  There is a fine line between toasting and burning.

The next step was to cook the chicken.  I’m a little OCD with chicken and I probably cooked it longer than necessary.  It was a browned medium on the outside, but tender and juicy on the inside.

Then I added the onion, broccoli, ginger, and pepper.  Oh, the ginger!!

The final step is adding the sauce I created.  When I poured in the sauce, I could smell each of the ingredients warm.  The honey, the sesame oil, and the soy sauce were a perfect combination and created a wonderful Asian scent.

I did make one small adjustment to this recipe: I toasted some cashews and added them at the end of the cooking process.

I love Cashew Chicken and thought this was the perfect opportunity to delight my taste buds!

The finished product!

This was the ideal, quick and tasty meal for a Monday!  My boyfriend loved it!

You can find the full list of ingredients and complete preparation instruction for this recipe on skinnyms.com.

SkinnyMs. hosts easy, healthy & gluten-free recipes that support weight loss and fitness.  Visit now and find the perfect recipe to change-up your weekday dinner routine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker

Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker|CPC-600 Series

The Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker is a godsend!

I am always running behind! And, I’m not always the best meal planner! With all of life’s busy-ness, our family was hitting fast-food venues, ordering out, or resorting to prepared meal products for dinner several times a week. It is common knowledge that these alternative meals are not conducive to a healthy lifestyle or quality family time. The Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker has changed all that!

Healthy, Home-Cooked Meals!

Pressure Cookers are all the rage right now and the Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker is my go-to appliance! Families are busy with work, school, sports and other activities that make providing healthy, home-cooked meals a challenge. Often our lives lead us to make convenient choices over healthy choices. Preparing meals with the Cuisinart Pressure Cooker eliminates the need to compromise healthy eating or quality family time. Cooking times are compressed so that you can have your favorite meals on the table in a matter of minutes!

Safe & Easy to Use

Growing up, I remember the tender, flavorful meals my mother prepared with her stove-top pressure cooker. I also remember being terrified of my mother’s pressure cooker! I was not allowed in the kitchen while the toggle was toggling and the pot was hissing! There was always a concern that the pressure would build up too high and if the lid was not secure, the top would blow. Safety concerns kept my mother from using her pressure cooker and it kept me from using a pressure cooker. The Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker is totally different. It has 7 – Yes Seven! – safety features to ensure its reliability & predictability. The instruction manual is easy to follow and provides all the information you will need to be confident you in preparing meals.

It’s A Multi-Purpose Cooker

The Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker is really a multi-purpose cooker. It is fully programmable. Time and temperatures can be adjusted which allows it to be utilized for many different recipes and different types of meal preparation. It has Low and High-Pressure settings, as well as Browning, Saute, Simmer and Keep Warm settings. I have used it to make one-pot meals, soups, steam vegetables and make casseroles. It is quickly replacing my crock pot as the appliance of choice for slow cooker recipes and “keep warm” dips and sauces. The Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker can also be used to create cakes, breads, puddings and more! This pressure cooker is quickly replacing my crock pot as the appliance of choice for my favorite Pinterest slow cooker meals!

Easy Clean-Up/More Family Time

The Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker lets me brown meat and saute vegetables in the same pot that I will be cooking my meal in. Yay! Fewer dishes to wash and less time cleaning up! The inner cooking pot is easily removed, and its high-quality, non-stick coating makes clean-up so easy! My boyfriend and I are empty-nesters, but our family joins us for meals several times a week. Often we create meals together and clean-up together. The Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker adds quality time to our visits! The speed of cooking and cleaning up provides us more time for conversation and enjoying one another’s company!

Believe me, you will want to use the Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker every day!

Fond Memories of Camping & Coffee

The Camp

My father did not like living in town, especially in the summer, so we often went camping.  Our usual destination was a little campground on Berlin Reservoir, a few miles outside of town. When we got to the entrance of the campground, there were two gates that had to be opened and then closed to keep the cows in the field.  (Yes, we had to drive in a field with the cows.)  I was terrified of the cows for the first few years we camped there.  I would be worried that the cows would charge when either my mom or dad got out to open and close the gates.  Eventually, my brother and I were old enough to take on this task.  We were still frightened of the livestock and would watch every move the cows made while we were out of the car.  To complicate matters, we also had to beware of the cow patties (they were everywhere!) and watch out for the beastly roosters (mean buggers!) that shared the pasture with the cows. We pretended to be brave, but honestly, we couldn’t get back in the car fast enough!  It was a pretty bumpy ride and depending on the amount of recent rainfall, it could also be pretty sloshy. My father’s vehicles, first a Pontiac Tempest and in later years an old station wagon (I do not recall the make or model), were not really fit for off-roading.  Frequently he would hit an especially deep rut or hole and he would shout a few curse words as he drove.  Once through the cow pasture, we continued further through the field that eventually led us to a spot near the lake. My father always chose the same spot to set up camp.  He had taken pseudo-possession of a spot where he trimmed some trees and accumulated a small stash of firewood for our use.  It became our home-away-from-home.

We camped in an army green, canvas tent, that was held up by an umbrella-like contraption.   The canvas smelled dusty and musty at the same time.  The odor penetrated our sleeping bags and clothes and by the end of the weekend, it was embedded in our nostrils. We slept on the ground, without air mattresses.  The ground was lumpy but didn’t really bother me or my brother.  Although, I do recall my parents complaining about it from time to time.  At some point, two cots entered the picture, but I don’t remember anyone sleeping on them in the tent.  I don’t think it was big enough.  Insects were our bunkmates.  No matter how well the doors and windows to the tent were zipped, or how much spraying my parents would do, the bugs, flies, and spiders could not be kept out of the tent.  I would snuggle down in my sleeping bag and try not to move, so as not to attract attention from the creepy crawlies.  It didn’t work.

There were no modern amenities at our campground.  No running water, no flush toilets, no electricity.  Water had to be fetched from a handpump.  This job was a big one for youngsters and had to be accomplished by a duo or small group.  The pump was a little distance from our camp, so, just like Jack and Jill, my brother and I would walk to fetch a jug of water.  If I remember correctly, the hike was even a little uphill!  I can still hear the sound of rusty metal sliding up and down as we pumped.  Pumping was physically demanding, especially for a small child.  I remember that sometimes I would have to jump in the air and push down on the handle with all my weight to make the pump work.  In time, the sound of the water pouring from the spout would be heard.  We pumped the water into red and green water jugs and then carried them back to camp.  The jugs were heavy for us and even though they had lids, we still spilled a good deal along the way.

Our bathroom was a rickety, wooden outhouse with spiders and Daddy Long Legs everywhere! Bees and wasps made their homes between the boards and in the corners of the little shack.  There was no toilet seat, just a dark hole.  It was frightening to think about what might be lurking down there! I always begged my mother to go to the outhouse with me.  Occasionally, we would get there and there would be no paper in sight.  We would have to walk back to camp to retrieve some and this created quite a problem for me.  You see, I hated going to the outhouse so much that I would put off going until I couldn’t hold it any longer.  Having to make the trip back to camp and then back to the outhouse without peeing my pants was quite an achievement for me!  Yes, the outhouse was a creepy and disgusting place, yet here I am, smiling to myself as I write about it.  My cousins often camped with us, and if they were here with me now, they would be laughing and telling their stories.  We all have a story or two about the outhouse at Cline’s campground!

Camp Coffee

In the early morning, I could hear my mother rummage through a box of pots and pans to find the pot she boiled water in and our old drip coffee pot.   Mom would boil water and then pour it into the coffee pot to drip through the grounds.  The result was a thick, dark brew.  The coffee pot was a relic.  It was dented and blackened by burned on char from flames on the open fire and Coleman stove.  When I helped with dishes, my hands would get filthy from the surface grime, but the char was too thick to wash off, no matter how hard I scrubbed.

It may have been my imagination, but the smell of coffee brewing at the campground had a stronger, more rugged smell.  Maybe the aroma was stronger because the coffee burned easily in the pot since there was no way to adjust the flame on the camp stove.  Whatever the reason, the smell of strong coffee making its way into the tent where I slept, was evidence that I had made it through another night with the creepy crawlies in the tent.  Slowly, we would all emerge from the tent and make our way to the picnic table.  On chilly mornings my mother would fix me and my brother a cup of warm coffee (again, mostly milk and sugar warmed with a bit of coffee) to sip on with our Captain Crunch cereal.  Then we would set off to fish in the lake, or hike around the shoreline.

Everyone enjoyed camping! We always had so much fun…or at least I thought we did. It was only while raising my own children and taking them on camping adventures, that I realized how hard camping was for my mother. My poor momma! To prepare for one of our weekend trips, she had to do all the meal planning & shopping (remember that budget she had to abide by).  She had to do all the packing and try to be prepared for all the “what if’s” that could happen at camp. Once at camp, she had to help my father set up the tent and unpack.  She did most of the cooking and all of the cleanup. She had to try to keep the bugs and dirt out of the tent, and she had to keep track of me and my brother. I now know these trips were not all that fun for mom, but she hid it well.  On these outings, mom and I would get some mother-daughter time by taking small walks down to the lake.  I loved those walks, no matter how short, and I will remember them always.

When my cousins and I get together, many of the stories we share are of camping at Clines with our parents.  Fishing, swimming, some long walks, campfire songs, and yes, the outhouse!  We cherish these memories and value this time we shared as a family.  At the time, our parents had no idea the impact that these weekend camping trips would have on us.  They had no idea that they were teaching us the importance of family, of taking time to slow down after the work week, or teaching us simple techniques to function in a primitive environment.  They were just living life with children, the best they knew how.  Getting through life the best way we know how, I guess, is how the best memories are made!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before Tea There Was Coffee

The Early Years

Tea was not always a staple in our home.  The hot beverage of choice for my parents and their friends was coffee.  It was that hot, dark stimulant that filled their cups to the brim.  Coffee was what got them going in the morning and kept them going throughout the day.  I remember coffee having a seat at the table wherever we visited.  The nutty aroma was ever-present.  It inspired feelings of reassurance and comfort.  I don’t recall anyone ever worrying about not being able to sleep if they drank a cup of coffee in the late evening!  Now I’m older and the smell of coffee brewing immediately transports me back to my childhood.  This heavenly scent hits me in restaurants and at drive-throughs.  It often creates emotional distress in my head!

My family did not buy into the notion that “coffee will stunt your growth”.  I remember that often I would sip a cup of coffee with my parents.  I would also partake with my grandfather when we visited.  Of course, my portion was smaller, was mostly milk and sugar, and just barely appeared tan in the cup.  I remember feeling very grown and we would talk about the events of the day.  I was a precocious child and I willingly shared all my 4 to 6-year life’s wisdom with him!  He always smiled and listened intently.  He would offer his praise for my beyond my year’s intellect, as he lightly chuckled under his breath.  I remember, too, that he would pour coffee on his cereal, in place of milk, and on his toast, eating it like a pudding.  I found this odd and fascinating all at the same time.  When I ogled at his actions, he told me that the warm coffee on his breakfast helped to keep him warm when he went out to do the chores.  I am sure there is more to it.  All of my grandparents experienced extreme hardships, growing up in the 1910s’s and beyond.  Their habits and tendencies usually developed out of necessity.

Around this same time, we lived in a small apartment above a corner store called Nelson’s.  It always smelled of strong, fresh coffee and fresh raw meat. The smell has stuck with me over the years,  I remember, too, that this store carried the widest selection of penny candy in our small neighborhood!  It was conveniently located across the street from the grade school and was a landmark for children for several blocks around.  There was always a flock of kids around our yard, many of which were older or a bit on the shady side (insert a mental pic of ‘Our Gang’).   My mother, protecting me, would not let me play with them. It would break my heart!  There was not usually money for candy, not even penny candy, but every time I found a cent, I would beg my mom to take me into the store and I would purchase my selection, with her approval, of course!

The flight of steps up to our apartment was long and narrow. The top of the steps was a landing between 4 of our 5 small rooms.  To the left was the bathroom, a hard left took you to our kitchen.  Straight ahead was a furnace closet and bedroom and to the right was our living room.  This space did not seem that small to me at the time, but as I recall some of the maneuverings that took place to get from room to room, I realize now it was quite tiny.  Every morning my mother would carefully pour coffee into my father’s thermos and he would set off to work.  Nearly every afternoon, my mother would strategically place her ironing board near the outlet at the top of the steps.  There she would stand, for what seemed like hours at a time, ironing everything from handkerchiefs to bed sheets.  While she ironed, she would be watching her “stories”.  Often, she would also be on the phone discussing the daily storyline with her bestie that lived just a few blocks away.  Of course, there would always be a cup of coffee nearby.  The more coffee she drank, the more animated her conversation would become!

Our family existed on a meager budget.  My mother is the most thrifty woman I know and was able to stretch our funds to accommodate our needs.  She was even able to ensure that the coffee in our home was always name-brand.  There was no room in the budget for poor quality java!  My mother was a very gracious hostess and always made sure there was plenty of coffee for the occasional guest that would stop by.  She never forgot to offer “Can I get you anything?”  The answer was always presumed to be “Coffee is fine.”  This reply eluded to two things: 1) that coffee would surely be available and 2) that the guest felt that requesting anything other than coffee would be extravagant on their part. This reply was so expected, in fact, that often my mother didn’t wait for a reply before fetching the cups.  On occasion, though, someone would unexpectedly declare, that “A cup of tea would be nice.”  My mother would get that deer-in-the-headlights look, then smile and say  “Sure!”  She would dash to the kitchen and rummage through the cupboards muttering: “I know I have a tea bag in here somewhere!”  It was important to her that she emerge successfully and she always did.  Then came the brief moment of embarrassment when she remembered that we did not have a water kettle or teapot.  So, out would come a copper-bottomed saucepan.  She would fill it with water, place it on the lit burner and within minutes her guest would have a steeping cup of tea!

My father was a few years out of the navy, working in a mill and studying for his GED.  My father was also a weekend beer lover.  To be able to afford the weekend, he would drink coffee during the week.  I remember seeing him at his desk, in one of the small bedrooms.  He would have coffee in hand as he studied for his GED.  When daddy was at his desk, the atmosphere was tense.  My brother and I had to be quiet, which was impossible for us to do.  There was often some yelling followed by my father taking a big gulp of coffee.  I am sure that it was coffee that got him through the long nights of studying.

My parents were young during these years.  They struggled as they worked to be loving companions to each other and raise my brother and me in a loving, stable home.  There were bumps along the way.  I was completely unaware of many of their challenges or did not understand the depth of them.  I am proud to say that they will be celebrating 58 years of marriage this May.  Their work ethic, devotion to one another, and demonstration of strong family values continue to reign today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ve Got A Friend in Tea

What is it about a cup of tea that makes it such a marvelous friend? Tea is a simple concoction of aromatic leaves, flowers and roots steeped only in water. Yet, this simple concoction coaxes wisdom, enlightenment and savvy from the core of a being. Tea induces feelings of serenity and confidence in one’s self. It affords us a deeper capacity to decide, conceive and imagine, without dulling our senses. In times of despair or sorrow, tea comforts us. In moments of happiness, tea celebrates with us. When we are cold, tea warms us and when we are parched, tea cools us. Unlimited varieties of tea, each unique in the way it rouses our senses, are readily available, providing us the opportunity to choose the precise genre our soul is craving at any given moment.

I have accomplished my best self-reflection, decision-making, reminiscing and creating over a hot cup (or glass of iced) tea. Tea has been beside me through thick and thin and in sickness and in health.  Tea is a staple in my cupboard and I am reassured to know that it is always near when life goes awry.

I invite you to join me on my journey as a rookie blogger, sharing my love affair with tea; revealing life, relationship and career learnings; and chronicle my endeavors to bring more joy into my life.  This will be a learn-as-I-go experience and I hope you will bare with me.  Please share your suggestions so I may improve this site and share content that is desirable.