Mexican Skillet Dinner

Get out your cast iron skillet!  This creation turned out way better than I had anticipated!  I loved it!  And it’ll be a recipe I use often.

I am trying to incorporate more veggies in my diet.  This dish is definitely the way to do it, I just love the combination of the spices and sauce with the veggies and rice.  And the topping of cheese is just an added benefit.

And its versatile so you can pretty much change the veggies and spices to your liking and serving size.  You can’t really mess this up.  Unless you burn it.  And that would be a tragedy!

This is perfect for those days or nights that you are just too darn tired to cook but you really need something healthy and filling.  It comes together quickly so I would suggest you have everything on the counter and ready to go.

If you do not have a cast iron skillet, you can still make this recipe you but you won’t be able to pop it in the oven for the final step.  Unless you have a skillet that you can wrap the handle so it doesn’t melt.  I have never tried that so I am of no help!

In a cast iron skillet, coat pan with enough olive oil to sauté your veggies.  Dice a half of green bell pepper, half of a yellow bell pepper, and a small onion. Toss into the pan, season with a little salt and pepper, sauté until tender.  Add in either frozen corn or corn freshly cut off the cobb.  Grilled corn is even better.

Here is where the variety comes in, you can use any veggie that you want.  Just make sure you start with the veggies that take longer to cook and end with your softer veggies.  Make sense?

When the veggies are cooked, I added my beans.  I used canned, small white beans. Stir well to heat. Again, you could use whatever bean you prefer.

I then grabbed my jar of sliced banana peppers and chopped a few of them up and tossed them into the pan.  You decide if you want them and how much heat you want.  You can use jalapenos, green chillis, or whatever you want for the heat.

Toss in cooked brown rice and your spices.  I used cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, chili powder, and fresh thyme from my garden.

Stir until heated through.  Add red enchilada sauce.  Stir gently until heated and the ingredients are blended well.  Turn off the heat and top with your favorite cheese, I use shredded Monterey Jack.  Pepper Jack would be good too.  Or cheddar.  Well, probably most any cheese would work.

Broil in your oven until the cheese is bubbly.

Top with chopped parsley, sour cream, guacamole, more cheese, nacho chips and a good bottle of Shiraz.

Here’s the recipe:

Mexican Skillet Dinner

1/2 each of a green and yellow bell pepper, seeded, and diced

1 small onion, chopped and diced

1 cup corn, can be frozen, or grilled on the cob and cut off

1/2 T finely chopped banana peppers

3/4 to 1 cup cooked white beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup cooked brown rice

1-1/2 cup red enchilada sauce

Sale, pepper, season to taste

1/2 tsp each of cumin, paprika, chili powder, and season to taste

Dash or two of red pepper flakes

a sprig or two of fresh thyme, remove leaves from stems

About 2 cups of shredded cheese, I prefer Monterey Jack

Assorted toppings to serve: salsa, sour cream, guacamole, nachos, etc.

  1. Heat olive oil over a medium heat in a cast iron skillet, use enough oil to coat the skillet you are using..
  2. Saute peppers and onions until tender.  Salt and pepper to taste.  You can also start adding some of your spices,  I prefer to season each layer of food that I add.
  3. Add corn to sauté a little, especially if you’re using frozen.
  4. Add the beans, banana peppers and rice along with the rest of the spices.  Taste and adjust the spices to your taste. Stir until ingredients are heated, just a few minutes.
  5. Reduce heat, stir in enchilada sauce to coat and heat through.  Turn heat off.
  6. Cover top with as much shredded cheese as you like.
  7. Place skillet under the broiler until cheese is bubbly.  Don’t walk away.!
  8. Ladle each serving into a bowl, top with desired toppings.

I hope you love this dish as much as I do!  Live well friends!

 

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Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad

I love pasta, and I am always looking for different ways to prepare it.  So, for these hot summery days I thought pasta salad would be appropriate, but I didn’t want the same boring old recipe.

Typically, I just chop up broccoli florets, cut grape tomatoes in half, cube up cheese and maybe ham.  Toss with some sort of an Italian dressing and Salad Supreme.  That is super easy and delish for sure but I wanted something different.

Enter roasted vegetables!

I chopped a half each of a red and yellow bell pepper, and in a bowl they went.  Added about 1 cup of whole grape tomatoes and about 2 cups of broccoli florets.  I also added a handful of sugar snap peas, but in hind sight I probably won’t do that again.  I coated the veggies with extra virgin olive oil, salt and peppered them well and spread them out on my baking pan.

I use a baking stone (with sides) to roast my veggies and I absolutely love it!  The pan doesn’t look very clean but it is!  Don’t judge!

Popped them in the oven at 350 until they were tender, and roasted well.  Maybe about 30 minutes.

While the veggies roasted, I cooked my pasta, I used about a half of a box of penne.  To the water I added a large sprig of thyme from my garden to flavor the pasta.  It was a lovely hint of flavor and I will definitely be doing this again!!

When the pasta was cooked al dente, I drained it and put in a large bowl.  I removed the skins from the peppers and cut them into smaller pieces and added them to the pasta.  I put all the veggies into the bowl along with the oil from the pan.

To that I also added about ¼ cup of jarred sun-dried tomatoes, chopped, along with about a tablespoon of the oil from that jar.  I love sun dried tomatoes, they give any recipe a little boost of flavor.

I added just a sprinkling of thyme and tore up some basil to top the pasta salad and gave it a good toss.  I also topped the plated salad with some grated parmesan cheese.

This recipe is so versatile, you can use any veggies that you want.  You can mix up your herbs and try different spices too.

I think this would be wonderful with some herb infused olive oil too.

Give it a try, but if you want the recipe for what I did, here it is:

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad

½ Red Bell Pepper, seeds removed

½ Yellow Bell Pepper, seeds removed

1 cup Grape tomatoes, whole

2 cups Broccoli Florets

1 cup Sugar Snap Peas

¼ cup Sun Dried Tomatoes, jarred, chopped

Olive oil, salt and pepper

Penne Pasta, half of a box

Large sprig of Thyme to cook the pasta, reserve some thyme flakes to add to the finished dish

About 5 Basil leaves, torn

Grated Parmesan cheese for serving

Toss all the vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper, season well and use enough oil to be able to coat the pasta salad when combining in the serving bowl.

Cook the pasta, add the thyme to the cooking water.

Remove the skin from the roasted peppers, cut in smaller pieces and add to the cooked and drained pasta.  Pour in the rest of the veggies along with the oil from the pan.

Add the sun-dried tomatoes, thyme and basil.

Toss and top each serving with grated parmesan cheese.

This will last a few days in the fridge and serves 2.

Enjoy!

Fibro Sunday, a little late…

I have been wanting to see a new rheumatologist for the last several months but I continually put it off. I think part of the reason that I didn’t make the appointment was that going to a new doctor can be difficult; and secondly, I have to tell another total stranger about all the pain I have and being told oh it’s just the fibro.

I was wrong! This doctor listened to every word I said, made notes as I answered his hundreds of questions, and took his time with me.

He is thinking I have been misdiagnosed and may not have fibro, sent me for bloodwork to check for Rheumatoid Arthritis. He also had me stop the arthritis meds and put me on steroids.

WOW! He said if by the 5th day I didn’t notice anything different, any improvement, to stop taking it. Well, by the time I went to bed that first night, the blanket did NOT hurt my toes, socks did not hurt my toes. Then next day I woke up and wasn’t quite as tired and stiff as I usually am, the third day I had a little more energy.

I am not pain free, but oh what a difference!

Tomorrow is the 5th day and I am positive I will be continuing the steroid regimen. I am totally amazed.

I have tried to have so many conversations with the doctor I was seeing about RA, because I had the markers show up in a blood test 3 plus years ago but she just continually said “Fibro”.

I don’t know for sure that I actually do have RA, but so far this new doc has me on the right track.

So I guess if I have any words of wisdom tonight, I would say to always follow your gut about your health. Get a second or third opinion if you need to do so. I am not encouraging being a hypochondriac, but if you are sure what you are feeling about your body is not what the doctor is telling you, get a second opinion.

Live well and happy friends!

Fibro Sunday

One of the things that I think is a challenge for those of us that deal with fibro pain, is trying to figure out when that pain is from the fibro, or something a little more serious.

For a year I complained to my Rheumatologist about my right shoulder pain. She kept blowing it off as fibro, even though over the months it was increasingly getting much worse. It took almost a year before she actually believed me and then in a matter of months I had rotator cuff surgery.

Another concern I have had is that I continue to get arthritis in many more places on my body, so I questioned something more severe, perhaps rheumatoid arthritis. And she shrugs it off.

So, sometimes we have to take matters into our own hands because we do know our bodies better than anybody. Rheumatologists are a rarity around my area so I will be driving to a nearby town. He may tell me the same things too but I feel that I need a second opinion.

I strongly encouraged anyone with a health concern that is not completely confident in your current doctor to seek out a second opinion, and a third if need be.

Another thing that makes me seek out a second opinion is that everytime I read an article about a theory on fibro, she “pooh-pooh’s” it, tells me the theory is old or that there is no truth to it.

I have read several articles over the last 6 months about a possible link to a virus. I would love to talk with her about it, but I already know what she will say.

I hope you are all well and enjoying the spring!

Live well!

Fibro Sunday

Yesterday I spent part of the day with one of my dearest and most cherished friends. She is recovering from knee surgery, so we had a lot in common sharing our stories of pain medication, therapy, and overall physical pain.

And it made me realize that to those that do not have daily pain, chronic pain, you cannot understand how our lives have changed because of it. Or what we have to deal with.

For example, shopping. I love shopping! Especially in the spring when I get to plan and shop for my flowers, planters and garden. But it’s exhausting and painful. Getting in and out of the car can be tiresome but it can also hurt. All the walking hurts me, but I push on as much as I can. I usually have to ask for help with large bags of potting soil, fertilizer, etc. There have been days where I had to break the shopping up in two parts, coming home for a break and going back either later in the day or the next day.  Don’t even get me started on shopping for clothes, OMG!  What female doesn’t like shopping for clothes but I tell ya, getting undressed and dressed again can be a little hurtful.

Cleaning can be a challenge as well. When I hear someone say that they can get their house cleaned in a short amount of time, I kinda want to smack them! But I am also envious. I do a little cleaning and then have to sit for a short period of time. Possibly use the heating pad. But I can tell you this, having a spotless house isn’t as important as it used to be!!

Yard work, I always loved being in my yard and gardens but I have to pace myself and be careful how I move and how much work I allow myself to do at one time.  Pain meds are always involved.

Waking to an alarm and going to work, I know we all struggle with that! But seriously, when you hurt as bad as we do, getting up and moving first thing in the morning is not that easy. I have to work to support myself, so I do my best to work through the pain, or the stiffness, or the exhaustion as best I can just so I am out the door in time. And when I sit in my chair at my desk… WOW the pain sets in my back or hips like crazy. And I have to wonder, is it really worth it?

Taking a shower. Yes you read that correctly. Sometimes the water hitting our skin hurts. It can also be exhausting trying to get a shower done in a reasonable amount of time, all that moving. There have been times where I am using a back brush, it is like rubbing nails across my skin. There have been times when just shampooing my hair not only hurt but used all my energy. Most of the time the water cascading over me is very refreshing and comforting but there are times when it is not.

Weather. I know there are a lot of folks that can feel the weather changes coming with their arthritis pain. This is a little bit more! In fact, I can tell you that some days, I have sat at my desk with my head in my hands crying from the pain, willing it away, waiting for the pain med to kick in and just trying to breathe and not stress too much but the crying is a dead giveaway that I AM stressing!! I sometimes calm myself with a cup of chai while the med does its job. 🙂

Exercise. I once went to the gym, and often; at least 3-5 times a week. I am lucky if I can get myself to our fitness center and swim just once a week, I do try, and I do feel good while in the water. But trying to convince myself while I am IN pain, that I should be in the pool, well lets just say the conversation in my head is not pretty!! I try to walk too, but the pain in my feet is terrible, I have orthotics which does help but if you have never had pain in your feet you cannot understand walking like that! I am lucky to get a 30 minute casual walk in, my good walks of doing a hearty fast paced sweaty walk is over! I feel like I am giving myself heart disease by not moving, which is what both my parents passed from. I feel doomed.

Our weight, ugh. Because of everything I just told you, we then put on weight because we can’t move much and it is very depressing. And just makes us feel even more horrible about ourselves.

So when someone says they are hurting but they look fine, believe me, we do hurt and the struggle is real for us. Don’t judge us, just try to understand.

The sun is shining and it is just a tad warmer today so I am going for a walk. Then I need to run an errand and head for food for the week. You all have a great day!

Fibro Sunday

Today was absolutely gorgeous!  So hard to believe that just a little over a week ago we had snow!

But today, the temp reached 72, and I was able to get outside and plant pansies, pull weeds and sweep the walks.  And play endless ball with the pup.

Of course, yard work equals pain, even though I took several breaks.  So by late afternoon I was on the sofa trying to work my way through the pain.

I love being outside doing yard work, I just need to pace myself so that I don’t thoroughly over do it but regardless I will hurt.

I have a lot of flower beds I want to plant this spring, and typically that’s so exciting but now the back end of that excitement is knowing I will also suffer later.

Hope you all have a great weekend!  I will try to get to some new recipes soon!

RumChata and Caramel Milkshake

This is a sin. Seriously.

And forgive me, but it is a sin I will definitely commit again!

I was craving a milkshake, and I wanted a cocktail. So hit up the liquor cabinet and I combined the craving.

Super easy. And you probably don’t even need to use a recipe. But here it is anyway, in case you’re curious!

I put about 2.5 ozs of RumChata in my little drink blender, added about 2 cups of vanilla ice cream, a shot of Caramel vodka and about a ¼ cup caramel sauce.

Blended until smooth, which didn’t take long because my little blender is a whiz!

I poured it into a mug, topped with a squirt of whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.

You could also add some chocolate syrup to make a chocolate caramel milkshake!

This milkshake was perfect, even though it was a chilly night!!

RumChata and Caramel Milkshake

2.5 ozs Rumchata

1 Shot of Caramel Vodka, optional

¼ cup carmel sauce

2 cups vanilla ice cream

Add to blender and blend until creamy smooth. Top with additional carmel sauce and whipped cream.

Enjoy!!