Category: The Food

It’s Official…

…I’ve had ENOUGH!

Holding it together these days hasn’t been easy, and I’ve cracked a few times, maybe a few too many.

Medically speaking I’m doing OK. I’m almost 10 months post heart transplant and the doctors still haven’t been able to fine tune my medication so that I’m not always adding or removing something I take daily. Some of it makes me sick, some of it makes me feel weak, and the big one makes me feel exhausted for no reason at all. I know my body is strong; how could it not be? I have Primary Amyloidosis (AL), which by the way, has a 6 to 12 month mortality rate, I’ve survived over four years. I had a heart transplant because the AL put me in acute congestive heart failure and caused a lovely case of restrictive cardiomyopathy. Now I’m told I have Osteoporosis in my lumbar 1 – 4 and am close to having it in my hips as well. All that is a result of the chemo therapy I received for the AL and the anti-rejection drugs I take for my heart.  I’ve been hitting the gym for several weeks now. Not knowing at the time I started about the Osteoporosis, it was a good thing I did. The most effective treatment for it is weight training, which is what I’ve been focusing on to build up the strength I lost while I was sick. But my back and hips hurt and although weight training is ideal, not necessarily at the pace I’m going at. I can’t win with this body of mine.

Then there’s the food. The trainer at the gym wants me to eat a certain way, which I’m totally willing to do within the parameters of what I can and can’t eat being a transplant patient. In reality it’s not that different than how I was eating before the transplant. However, my stress level is so high I can’t eat, and not eating is just as bad as eating too much. How do I get the calories I need in a day without throwing it all up because I’m so stressed out my stomach is in knots? I’m trying, but there isn’t a week that goes by that more stress isn’t placed on my shoulders by someone.

There’s also a family component to all this. Issues far too complex for me to even begin to figure out, and I’m not 100% sure I want to. I have two married sons, one of which doesn’t have much to do with us and his wife even less. The other and his wife live with us, which creates it’s own set of issues that I can’t address because it’s causes me even more stress than I can handle. I have a mother who I’m afraid of and I couldn’t tell you why, other than I hate the sound of disappointment in her voice when I can’t do what she wants me to. I still have no idea who my biological father is, which causes me more hurt than my mother can imagine. But I keep the peace because I think that’s what I’m supposed to do? I don’t know?

I left the church I’ve been a member of for over 10 years. That’s been a gut punch to say the least. I think what hurts more than anything is they either haven’t noticed or don’t care; either one isn’t great. I’ve tried to get past it and attend church, but I can’t get out of my mind how little they did when I needed them the most. I’ve gotten a handful of phone calls in the last five years, but no significant support for my “church family.” Now I’m torn about finding a new church because I don’t want to be hurt like that again. I surrendered myself to God in that church and the keepers of the church were not very good stewards of my vulnerability. How could I go back to that, and how do I try a new church not knowing if they will do the same thing?

School is starting in about two weeks and I go back and forth over whether or not I can handle it. Some days I feel confident that I can do it and others I think it could be a huge waste of time and money. I’m 47 years old getting a degree in dance! What was I thinking? I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep up, but I’ll never know unless I try. The fear in me wants to stop before I get started, but then I’ll always wonder if I could have made it.

Every way you slice it I have stress coming from all directions. Some of it I may have control over but some of it I never asked for, but have to deal with it none the less. I lose sleep at night thinking about all of the things I should have done or didn’t, or should do, but don’t feel confident enough to stand my ground. On the surface I may appear strong, and my body may be, but my emotional state is not. I wish I had the emotional confidence to tell the people in my life what I need to tell them and not have their reactions affect me so deeply. And, of course, the ultimate fear is that they will all stop coming around all together and I’ll be physically alone and emotionally alone at the same time.

Super Easy Enchiladas with Best Ever Red Enchilada Sauce

This is for my new friend Kelly! I found this Best Ever Red Enchilada Sauce on Pinterest and modified it a bit, because I really just can’t leave a good recipe alone! The enchiladas are just some random creation I came up with because I had two left over chicken breasts in the frig and didn’t want them to go to waste.

Best Ever Red Enchilada Sauce

2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons of Chili Powder (not Cayenne!) 4 Tablespoons if you like more heat!
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 dried oregano
2 cups vegetable broth (1 can of Swanson is exactly 2 cups)

Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and whisk together over the heat for one minute. Stir in the remaining seasonings (chili powder, garlic powder, salt, ground cumin, and oregano). Then gradually add in the stock, whisking constantly to remove lumps. Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes until slightly thickened.

Pour sauce in small 12 oz mason jar that has been boiled to sterilize, both jar and lids. Let sit and the jar will seal and you can store your sauce for up to 3 or 4 months (maybe longer, mine has never lasted that long…LOL). Or use immediately. After you’ve opened the jar is will last up to 4 days in the frig.

Super Easy Enchiladas with Best Ever Red Enchilada Sauce

1 package of medium flour tortillas (quantity 12)
2 chicken breasts
2 cups fresh salsa
2-3 cups of shredded cheese of your choosing, we like the Mexican Fiesta kind
1 medium red onion finely chopped
olive oil
salt & pepper
sour cream (optional)
green onion chopped (optional)

I like to do all my prep work before I start to cook anything so I get my red onion and green onion chopped and set aside.

Slice your chicken breasts long ways (like butterflying them), so you have 4 thin pieces. Generously season both sides with salt and pepper (you could add a little oregano and a tiny bit of ground cumin as well…a little bit of cumin goes a long way!). Pan fry them in a non-stick skillet with about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Just get them to a nice medium brown on each side about 3 minutes per side. Take them out of the pan and let them rest on a cutting board for about 5 minutes then chop them up into small pieces. I shoot for the chicken to end up looking more shredded than in little square chunks, so I cut up the chicken like I would do my finely chopped onion but not as small.

Warm up 8 tortillas in the microwave for about 30 seconds so they don’t break while you’re assembling your enchiladas.


These are what mine look like before they go in the oven.

Using a 9×11 glass baking dish, sprayed with a non-stick spray of your choice.

  1. Tortilla
  2. About 2 tablespoons of chicken
  3. About two tablespoons of fresh salsa over that
  4. Sprinkle with cheese
  5. Sprinkle with red onion
  6. 1 tablespoon of the Best Ever Red Enchilada Sauce.
  7. Roll and place in baking dish with folded ends down.

Repeat until you’ve filled your baking dish.

Pour remaining Best Ever Red Enchilada Sauce over your enchiladas in baking dish and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Serve with sour cream and chopped green onion. Serves 4

By the way, this is a great recipe to freeze! When I make it I like to double everything and make two dishes. So, while one dish is cooking I prep the other dish to go in the freezer for another night. If baking from frozen cook at 350 degrees for 60 minutes. Tastes just as good out of the freezer!

Slow Cooker French Dip

Kind of…the cheater kind!

Preparing French Dip

For Groundhogs Day I made Slow Cooker French Dip for dinner. The husband woke me up early to do something for him and I couldn’t get back to sleep so I got up and took some photos and prepared dinner for the evening. Here’s the recipe…

2lb Rump Roast
Kosher Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper
2 Cans Low Sodium Beef Broth
2 Cans French Onion Soup
1 Package of Brown Gravy Mix
2 Tbls Olive Oil

Season roast with salt & pepper. In a skillet or non-stick pan, sear roast, in olive oil, about 3 minutes on each side, at medium/high heat, don’t forget the ends. Mix broth, soup, and gravy mix in slow cooker. Place seared roast in slow cooker and set to 8 hours.

Preparing French Dip

After 8 hours remove roast and let rest. Strain liquid left in slow cooker into a small sauce pan to make an Au Jus. Heat over medium/high heat and season with salt & pepper to taste. Slice or shred beef and serve on fresh rolls with warmed Au Jus.

I made mashed potatoes and corn to go with the french dip and served it open faced…

Open Faced French DipFrom bottom to top: Bottom half of a toasted roll, mashed potatoes, sliced beef, corn, and topped with a drizzle of Au Jus. It was wonderful and super easy!

I’ve been watching way too much Chef Gordon Ramsay on TV! Although this may be a little rudimentary for him, for those of us in the middle of no-where this is some pretty high end stuff. I do get points for presentation, right?


Christmas Eve Dinner

I started marinating 8 pounds of pork tenderloin tonight. I figured three days in the frig and it should be good to go on Christmas Eve for dinner. I looked for a marinade recipe online but didn’t find anything I really liked so I created my own. I tried to keep things simple and so far the initial taste test has been good.

Garlic Basil Balsamic Marinade

1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup Soy Sauce
2 Tbls Minced Garlic
1 Tbls Spicy Mustard
6 Tbls Lightly Dried Basil (about .42 oz container)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper

Mix all ingredients in a food processor, pour over a 4lb roast and refrigerate for 24 to 72 hours. Vacuum seal marinated roast for a more infused flavor.

Less Than a Half a Teaspoon

So the doctors suggested I reduce my sodium (salt) intake to no more than 2000 mg a day, that is less than a half a teaspoon of salt a day. What they didn’t say, in that conversation about lowering my salt intake, was how difficult it would be.

There is salt in virtually everything we eat, some of it is naturally occurring which is fine, but most of it is added to make our food taste better.

Realistically, keeping track of your salt intake is almost impossible. Unless you make every thing you eat from scratch you can’t really control how much salt is added. Sure you can use low sodium ingredients, but simple things like just a little vegetable broth is 940 mg of salt per cup! Spring mix…SPRING MIX…has salt in it! Seriously?!?!

Cheese, kiss it goodbye! And heaven forbid that is your primary source of calcium because then you get to take the lovely calcium pills that are the size of a small farm animal.

Bread, nope, sorry, too much salt!

Soup, again, can’t do it.

Can’t use frozen chicken breast, they inject it with salt water, frozen turkey, the same thing. Good luck finding cage free, organic, chicken in a small city in the middle of nowhere!

Want to eat out at a restaurant, yeah, forget it! Maybe every once in awhile, but not even once a week or you’ll blow your salt content.

I still can’t believe there’s sodium in SPRING MIX! <rolling eyes>

So my diet has drastically changed, I have gone to not eating much, and what I do eat is pretty limited. Low sodium diets SUCK!