Archives for March 2015

March 19, 2015

Slow Cooker Chicken Corn and Vegetable Chowder

The perfect supper to chase away a long winter…

  • 5 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 c frozen whole kernel corn
  • 3 large  potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 leek, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 packages (8oz)  reduced fat cream cheese, cut into cubes*
  • 2 c skim milk*
  • 2 c no salt added chicken broth*
  • 1 c white wine*
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 c heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cooked crumbled bacon (optional for garnish)
  • 1/2 c of fresh parsley, chopped (optional for garnish)

Modified from original recipe, Cooking with Sugar: Slow Cooker Chicken Corn Chowder

Add everything to the slow cooker except for the heavy cream, cornstarch, bacon and parsley. Cover; cook on high heat setting for about 4 hours high or for 8 hours on low.  15 minutes before ready to serve, whisk the heavy cream and the cornstarch in a bowl until smooth. Stir into slow cooker and cover and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Serve and sprinkle with fresh parsley and crispy bacon.

Soup's on!

Soup’s on!

 

Thoughts:

I had been looking for a good chicken chowder recipe for quite some time and was drawn to this one because it contained so many veggies, hence I changed the name to Chicken Corn and Vegetable Chowder, because I can.  Original prep time for this recipe called for 20 minutes, it was more like 30, I like my fingers. I did cook the chicken while I prepped the veggies (I am a bit of a freak about raw meat).

I tried to low cal this as much as possible by using skim milk and reduced fat cream cheese as well as no salt added chicken broth, and it did not lose any of its flavor.  I substituted white wine for sherry (I already had a bottle open in the fridge, what are the chances) and opted not to use a can of chillies which was just preference.

The recipe called for 1lb of cooked, crumbled bacon which is a lot, even if you like bacon (Lysa M – there is NOTHING accidental about this bacon).  How do I know?  I used the full pound and will not judge you if you choose to do the same.

You will need a largish crock pot for this one.  Sugar said 12 servings,  between dinner, second helpings, and lunch for everyone the next day, I still had left overs.  Sugar does not lie.

Cost for this recipe was slightly over $30.00, including the pound of bacon, and considering the volume of chowder it made, I am very happy with the cost per serving.  It’s a keeper.

Give it a try and let me know what you think and what you name it. 😉

 

 

 

March 17, 2015

Confessions of a Mature Student

Remember back in college and university there was that one mature student in class? You would wonder why she was there in the middle of the day, maybe she didn’t have a job, or was a single Mom, maybe her boss was making her take the course for work. Usually sat off to the side, oh so very organized with her nice bag, diligently taking notes and genuinely looking interested at what was coming out of the Prof’s mouth. Not wanting to draw too much attention during class discussions, but able to offer valid points and certainly the person you want to be part of your group project because she will do all of the work because she wants a good mark (because she probably doesn’t have a job… or a husband). Yes, that is me; I am a mature student.

One of the things that I like most about working in the fitness industry is that it is always changing, giving someone like me plenty of opportunity to be a life long learner. What can I say, I like school, I always have. But the thing about mature students is that we take it pretty seriously. With a full time job and family responsibility there is very little extra time in the day, so school is scheduled, focused and done with full effort and little distraction…even when my instructor Heinz came back after the Christmas break and was Heidi (a plot twist that I did not see coming) or when my very friendly Prof leaned across my desk as I was writing my final exam and passed me a piece of paper folded in half and whispered that he had “never done this in all of the years he had been teaching”. Of course I thought that he had given me his phone number, and although I am happily married was I disappointed for a brief moment when I opened said paper to find it was the grading sheet for my course project with 100% circled at the top. Come on, who wouldn’t like a little validation they may still be attractive in a sea of young perky boobs and firm, plump skin. Like I said, it was only for a moment, I am a mature student and given the option that my Prof may think that I am hot or that I could receive 100% on a course project, you know I am taking the grade!

Last year I took the plunge and started the course load that would ultimately lead me to a designation as a Registered Nutritional Consulting Practitioner. The entire program is done online, so it does lack the social aspect and classroom dynamic, although there are time limits on each course it can done on my schedule and without the messy group projects. I had maintained a pretty good study regime and was able to have a few weeks grace between completing my final chapter test and writing the final exam for my Nutritional Sciences course.

I knew as I completed each chapter the sheer volume and magnitude of information which was explained in such intricate detail, from digestion, absorption, substrates, metabolic pathways, ATP, glycolysis, gluconegenesis, double bonds, RDA’s, EER’s, blah, blah, blah. I whittled away over the course of a week completing each chapter review card, attaching it to my chapter test as well as any pertinent notes that I had taken in a neat and orderly fashion. So last week, with less than 48 hours before my final exam I cleared my schedule, with exception of blow off steam spin class and entered my crash cramming phase. I went over and over my notes, went through my text book and by the morning of my exam I felt as if all of the information that I had stuffed into my head was now spilling out from my ears and I was even less prepared for this exam than I had been to start. I just wasn’t ready to write this test.

T minus 2 hours to go I closed my books, showered and did my hair, at least if I was going to fail I would do so with good hair. To be totally honest, on my drive in I had already picked out a day a few weeks from now when I would rewrite the exam. I parked, paid for the full three hours of parking (I knew I would needed every minute) and headed into the library where my exam was to be proctored.

Passing mark for the course is 80%, and I had carefully done the math (several times to be sure) to find the magic number that I needed. In total there were 100 questions, once I completed the exam I would hit the save and submit all and it would immediately give me my grade. No messing around, no lengthy wait, I would know my fate before I left the room. My proctor logged on, entered all of her information, wished me luck and left the room quietly. I was surprisingly calm when I sat down at the computer. I went back to the advice that I always give my daughter before writing a test, which was the same advice that I had been given from a dear friend the night before, go through the test, answering only the questions you know, by the time your are through to the end, the other answers will have come to you.

I was really quite taken back with how much I did know during my first go through. As I hit number 50 I felt like I was in a bit of a groove and for that I may actually do well enough on the exam to get my 80% pass mark, whatever happened to a 51% passing grade? I went back though and answered the remaining questions and finished the exam with just over a leisurely hour to spare (until I realized that the clock in the room hadn’t been sprung forward with the time change, I guess I may have cut it a little close). My proctor reentered the room and we went through the steps to save and submit my exam. Before submitting the exam, there is one final check to ensure that all questions have been answered, mine showed that none of the questions had been answered…the blood drained from my face and sheer panic set in. Fortunately my proctor took complete control here as I was a mess. We went back to my exam and found a little “check” box under each question. I had wondered what it was for at first, but didn’t need to check anything, I had it under control, turns out I had to check it after each question and it would give me an “answer correct” or “answer incorrect”. So now I was left with the daunting task of going through each of the 100 questions clicking on the check button and hoping like hell that it didn’t time me out as I was nearly over the three-hour time limit. It was a bit of a mad panic and I could see when I had an answer wrong each time. With big sweaty pits I was finally able to hit the save and submit button and covered my eyes as it tallied my mark.

I passed! Insert elation, euphoria, the weight of the world had been removed from my shoulders!

Lessons learned? You bet! Of course there will be a flicker of self-doubt every once in a while, it’s only natural, but TRUST THE FREAKING PROCESS. There is no difference between this and training for a race. If you put in the time and hard work, you will succeed; you just have to believe in yourself. I know that I can be tough on myself and throwing in the towel did briefly cross my mind, but I got up, dressed up, showed up and didn’t give up…and I have already registered for my next course.

What’s been going on with you?