My weekend is going exactly according to plan.
(Cue Vincent Price “Thriller” laugh, only not so creepy.)
I wanted to spend a little time in the kitchen. (I did.) I wanted to get outside and have playtime with Cholula and John. (I did.) I wanted to take a breath, step back, and enjoy life. (Still doing it!)
September is really knocking it out of the park in the weather department so far. Glorious sunny days have been the norm, warm but not too hot. Perfect for outdoor activities! Like dog diving.
Guys, Cholula may have a future in distance jumping. She has recently learned that water makes for a great cushion. She gets a running start and LEAPS through the air after her tennis ball. I suspect it’s just as much about the feeling of flying as it is about the ball. I could watch this video all day!
Did you see that form?!
It was a lovely fall afternoon. There are still flowers adding color to the drying landscape. Before long, snow will be on the ground. But not yet.
After swim time, we headed home for a mellow evening. I pulled up my Pinterest page and found a new recipe for a Chicken and Black Bean Casserole from the Six Sisters’ Stuff blog. It sounded comforting and good for you at the same time. A healthy casserole? Let’s do this.
As I read over the recipe more carefully, I realized it’s quite similar to many other casseroles I’ve made dozens of times. The process is the same: chop, saute, mix, top with cheese, bake. This version includes brown rice and I added a bunch of veggies to make it even more healthy.
First, I poached two chicken breasts in stock (seasoned with a bit of garlic salt and a lot of oregano) and chopped them up. I got the brown rice started on the stove. Then, I prepped all of the delish veggies.
Next came the stovetop portion of the process. Into some hot oil went the onion, carrot, and orange bell pepper.
Next came the mushrooms, zucchini, garlic, the chopped chicken, and some spices (cumin, cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper).
Black beans, diced green chiles, and halved cherry tomatoes waited in a big bowl to be joined by the chicken mixture. I added the brown rice, and stirred in some shredded cheese, too. It’s a casserole, after all.
This deliciousness went into a glass pan, and I topped it with some crushed tortilla chips for CRUNCH and a sprinkling of cheese on top. It baked for maybe 25 minutes, until the cheese was melted and getting a teensy bit brown (yum).
Usually, casseroles are all about the cream and the melted cheese and the nap you take after you eat it. I thoroughly enjoy that sometimes. But for a lighter option, this dish works perfectly! Lots of veggies, tasty chicken chunks, the crunch of the topping, and just enough cheese to assure you it’s a casserole. We served it with a multigrain tortilla and lots of Cholula (the original, not the crooked-eared version). Tasty.
In addition to what the recipe calls for, I added garlic, carrot, orange bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, crushed red pepper, and crushed tortilla chips. It’s the kind of recipe you can tweak based on what you like- or what you have in the fridge that you want to use up! BONUS.
After a pretty fab Friday afternoon, I woke up this morning feeling motivated. John went hunting for our dinner with a friend, so after the coffee requirement, Cholula and I hit the trail behind the house. What a morning!
This trail is very different than the one on the other side of the valley. It’s not damp and shady and piney- it’s dry and exposed and sage-brushy. But it’s still gorgeous, and the views are awesome! Cholula sniffed out squirrels and chased after birds while I enjoyed a bit of solitude and time with my thoughts. I highly recommend starting your day in this manner.
As we headed back down the hill toward home, I felt calm and happy, with an open Saturday ahead of me. I was reminded that whether I’m feeling anxious, overwhelmed, stressed, depressed, whatever- this remedy always works for me. Do something you love with someone you love in a place that you love. The world is a better place with a full heart and a clear head.
And the weekend has only just begun.