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New yummy bread recipe, what to do with leftovers, cooking frozen meat, and family reunion

It has been a month since I last wrote anything although I feel as though it has been 3 months or more as so much has happened. We had a family reunion of Fito’s siblings, his mother, and an aunt and uncle. It is the first time in 12 years that he and his five siblings have all been together.

His sister and her family came from Ohio. His sister from Tacoma, Washington came with her husband. His two brothers and their wives came from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (and brought one child), and his other brother came from Los Angeles, California. His aunt and uncle that came are from Australia, and his mother was already here from Canada.

What a reunion. They went one weekend to Houston (a 7 hour drive) for a nephew’s wedding and saw cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends that they had not seen for years. Then they came back with more relatives in tow. We had Maria’s and our house packed with family.

We ate great food, talked till the wee hours in the morning, watched the August meteorite shower, went antiquing, went to a museum, shopping, took naps in the hammock, and talked and talked. I went to work…and had plenty of work, then came home to conversation and great food.

Life basically, was on hold. Everyone has now gone home, except my mother-in-law. She will be here until the middle of September, and then she will head on down to El Salvador and stay there for about six months.

I also had Lasik a few days before they came. That is why they went to Houston without me. But Lasik has been incredible. I was 900 in one eye and now I see 20/20. I can drive without glasses. I can get up in the middle of the night and see the clock, walk to the bathroom, and I can see!

People’s faces are clearer; the scenery is sharp and clear. Wow. I didn’t even have to wait for the resurrection, although, because of my age I still need reading glasses, but that is 10,000 times better than progressive lenses that never seem to focus… Anyway, enough about that.

I did an amazing amount of cooking during this past month. I have baked countless cookies and sweet breads. I do need to tell you, though, that I tried a new combination and it made for a super, incredible sweet bread.

I grated carrots and was going to make carrot bread, but then I got adventurous when I saw a can of mandarin oranges and added them as well as a can of crushed pineapple. I also added cinnamon, and all-spice, and nutmeg.

It was perhaps the best bread I have ever made (except for the apple coconut bread I made last night…ha). Everyone raved about it and told me it was a different, but amazing new taste.

I used the same recipe as the coconut-apple, but then added the other ingredients, and voilà, a great new recipe.

It has been extremely hot and dry as many other places right now. Every day that his family was here, it was over 100 degrees. The Friday they came, it was 113 degrees. The next day it was 109.

Coming from Washington state and Canada where 80 degrees is hot to Oklahoma in August…whew. And worse, that we are in a drought and everything is burned up.

The yards are brown and scorched. There were wild fires when they were here. I kept telling them that usually, Oklahoma is beautiful and green, but certainly not this year.

It did rain on Saturday, and it was a widespread long rain. It was phenomenal! It rained hard and really soaked the ground. What a blessing. They say we are 15 inches from being out of the drought, but this was a great start.

Back to food. One afternoon, a cousin, who is a chef, made Chicken Alfredo. After everyone had eaten, I realized there were plenty of noodles and Alfredo sauce left over.

I then remembered that I had left-over Chicken fajitas. We heated up the Fajitas, added them to the Alfredo sauce, which we then added to the noodles and stirred it all together. There was enough to send dinner to two different families. Always a nice thing.

The interesting thing, is we decided we actually liked the taste of the Chicken Fajita chicken better than the original Chicken Alfredo. Very fascinating to a cook.

I tell new cooks; don’t be afraid to try different things. I take leftovers all the time and try to change them somehow so my family feels as though they are eating something new.

For example, I went to a friend’s home yesterday, to help with something and decided to start dinner for her. She had some frozen chicken breasts. I took them out of the freezer and put them under hot water until I was able to take the plastic wrap and foam off.

Then I put the whole frozen chunk of stuck together chicken breasts in a frying pan, added 3-4 cups of water, and put it on to boil. The chunk stuck to the side until it cooked some, then slowly I was able to break it apart, have all the chicken inside the pan, and then put a lid on it to cook even faster.

As she doesn’t have the same spices as me, I had to improvise. I found some onion powder which I added, plus salt and pepper. When the chicken pieces were finally all separated (but not completely cooked. I pulled them out one by one to the cutting board and cut them into bite-size pieces. (Meat is easier to cut when partially frozen).

Once the meat was done and had cooked enough to soften it, I added some spaghetti sauce (to the water which I had used to cook it-keep about ½ to 1 inch of water in the bottom).

By this time my friend had come home and with her, we added some fresh minced garlic and some salsa. Basic Spanish flavorings.

I told her there was enough chicken there to compliment two meals (see my article on using meat sparingly). That she could use part of the chicken with pasta. She could make it into Chicken Spaghetti (by adding more spaghetti sauce) or Chicken Alfredo by adding Parmesan cheese and some whipping cream to the sauce.

Or she could add 2 cans of diced or sliced potatoes, a can of sliced carrots, and a can of corn, and a can of diced tomatoes with peppers if you wanted it spicier.

You could add water and more Ragu or V-8 juice, celery pieces, a can or corn, a can of diced tomatoes with chili peppers to turn it into tortilla soup.

Just be creative, add a little, taste it, add a little more of something, and keep trying. Leftovers can always be changed a little to make them different and to break the monotony. Just experiment!              

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