Monthly Archives: January 2017

Flying Home and the Meditteranean Diet

Time to go home to Maryland. It’s with mixed feelings that we leave today. The weather is gorgeous, there is a pool in our backyard and we are going home to cold, rainy weather, with a vast stretch of marsh land and waterfront as our view. It is lovely and serene but we love it most in the Fall, Spring, and Summer.  We did miss a big snow and one month of Winter so we should count our blessings. Even our dog, Toby, seems a little sad and wanted to walk an extra time or two this morning. Wonder if he has any idea we have to get on a plane again? 

So, we have eaten well, drank much, and lounged for too long. I feel like a stuffed Turkey! Both Joe (my husband), and I have decided we need to get back in control. Now that both of us are getting more “mature”, because I hate the word old unless it’s used to refer to relics and antiques, we are trying to be more health conscious. We don’t always stay on track but when the train derails we go back at it again. After much consideration and reading we decided on the Meditteranean diet and smaller portions. Since sugar and carbs are our nemesis this seems to be the most normal plan. Excercise, is something else we lack so it’s time for us to use that gym membership we pay for, at least until we can go out and walk or bike again in reasonable weather.

Fish, chicken, lean cuts of beef, tons of vegies, legumes. All things both of us truly love, thank God. I will post our endeavors and of course our failings…..haha. I think it’s only fair. Let’s face it, human fraility is in us all! So check out my future recipes and of course any help in this area on your part is welcome.

See you when I get back to good old Maryland. Lots of stories and fun to share from the Land of Pleasant Living as it is so aptly referred to. 

Bon Voyage

Vickie

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Introduction

So it begins….. As I sit here at a dining room table in Aruba, wondering what made me start this blog it occurs to me that I am truly a foodie. My husband and I and some of our family rented a villa in Aruba for 3 weeks. It’s the first time we have been away for this length of time and I am a little homesick….silly I know but nonetheless I am.

I started writing a cookbook 8 years ago. I am committed to finishing that book and want to share my recipes, successes and failures with you. I’ve never done anything like this before but want to leave something behind for my children and family and friends. So forgive me, this will be a learning experience for me. I am always open to constructive criticism and appreciate your thoughts and comments.

Through the love of family and friends and my children I have learned that I love to cook. It hasn’t hurt that there are a multitude of cooking shows, cookbooks, and magazines that have helped me along the way.

The title, Around the Butcher Block, came about because of a butcher block island made from an old sewing machine stand that stood in my galley kitchen in Baltimore, Maryland. My kitchen was too small for a table but that butcher block saw many meals, heard many stories, and shared many good and bad times. If it could talk I am sure it would have plenty to say. So pull up a stool at my butcher block, have a cup of tea, coffee, or a glass of wine and share my journey.

Vickie

Source: Introduction

Coming to an end!

It’s Friday the 27th of January and the last of our Aruba visitors leave today. My sister-in-law Dawn and her hubby Doug. I hate to see them leave! They live in Michigan and have children and jobs of their own so getting to see them is not easy. Truth told they aren’t too happy about going back to the cold weather and the horrific snow. I can’t say that I blame them. So today there is a lot of packing, moaning, and sighing about what they have to face tonight and tomorrow. Of course, Monday is a work day for them.

When we all lived in Baltimore, my sister-in-law and I would spend the weekends cooking together and sampling wine. Did I say sampling…..more like getting tipsy, ha-ha! We talked about having our own cooking show one day. My niece, Grace, said “it should be called Cooking with Wine”. I might add that she was only 8 years old at the time. Short, quiet, and a dry sense of humor. Except for her height, nothing has changed. She is a very talented artist. I hope to share some of  her work with you at a later date.

We have gone out to dinner but I have also cooked quite a bit. With Dawn here, we have cooked together like old times. Of course, shared some wine. One of my personal favorites is Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay.

One of my favorite, feed a lot of people, cheesy, chicken goodness, casseroles is just that. We spent the day in the pool at the villa and all of us were too exhausted to go anywhere. So we made my Cheesy Chicken Casserole. Here is the recipe.

CHEESY CHICKEN CASSEROLE

  • 1 lb of Penne, Rotini, Bowties or other hardy pasta (can regular or low carb)
  • 2 whole roasted chicken breasts cut into cubes (Rotisserie chicken can be used)
  • 1 (16 oz) bag of mixed frozen vegetables
  • 2 cans of Cream of Chicken Soup (I use reduced fat as well as for the sour cream and mayo)
  • 1/2 C of sour cream
  • 1/2 C of Mayo
  • 1-1/2 C of chicken broth
  • Juice of half a fresh lemon
  • 1 C shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1/2 C crumbled goat cheese or mascarpone if you don’t like goat
  • Salt and pepper

Boil a large pot of boiling water, heavily salt it with Kosher salt after it comes to a rolling boil. Add the pasta of your choice and cook for 2 minutes less than instructed on the package. Drain and put back in the warm pot to help evaporate any of the liquid. Set aside covered.

Cube the chicken and put in the pot with the pasta.

Microwave the frozen vegetables for about 6-7 minutes covered in a glass bowl with plastic wrap. No need to add any water. Put in the pot with the pasta and the chicken.

Combine the cream of Chicken soup, sour cream, mayo, lemon, and cheeses and mix together well.

Combine this mixture with the pasta, chicken, and vegetables. If it seems a little dry add chicken broth to bring to a moist consistency.

Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

Place all in a 13×9 lightly greased casserole and bake in the oven covered with non-stick foil for approximately 30 minutes or until hot and bubbling. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes, I usually cover with additional cheese. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Let me know your thoughts! Sometimes, I change the cheese and the pasta for variety, truly you can make this one your own. It’s hearty and tasty for all age groups. It’s great served with hot crusty bread too!!!

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