Healed Leg Bones, Jane Fonda, and Thanksgiving Leftovers

Healed Leg Bones, Jane Fonda, and Thanksgiving Leftovers

Yay! The bone doc showed me the white line across my fibula – the bone is healed! So after a five month relationship, I’ve said my goodbyes to the ortho office, and hello to my new best friend, Jane Fonda.

Some of us remember the 1980s, when she spearheaded the in-home aerobics fitness craze with VHS tapes of exercise classes. I confess, I didn’t buy any then because I had a gym through my place of work that I didn’t have to pay for, which included aerobics classes. (I took my first real aerobics class after a couple cocktails…but that’s another post.)

So the hubby and I were in some fitness store or other  – he was looking for tennis tape to wrap his juggling pins with – and I stumbled upon this DVD by Jane called  “Fit and Strong”. It  came out in 2010; Jane was in her early 70s when she made it.  I LOVE this video. It uses a chair, and easy weights, and a towel; it takes 20 minutes to do. It will make me strong enough (and already has in some ways) so that I can get back to more vigorous exercises, once I can do these without being sore the next day. So I guess it’s an old-person’s exercise program. No, wait – it’s an out-of-shape, creaky-person’s exercise program! Because there’s no way that I’m old. (LOOK at that photo! Doesn’t she look fabulous?!!)

Jane is extremely appealing in the video. She’s someone I would love to sit and have a cup of coffee with – or three or four. Someone I’d love to chat with. As it is, I pant and balance and grin along with her as she talks about getting strong in your seventies, and how she has a titanium and plastic knee and a titanium and ceramic hip. Jane is my new best friend. She’s going to help me get back to ME again.

Which will be good, as I deal with the Thanksgiving Leftovers.  (This year, since we went down to my nephew’s home for the Holiday, I only made a turkey for the leftovers!!!) I usually make turkey stock with the carcass and skin, an onion cut in half, two carrots and two celery sticks and a whole bunch o’ water in a big soup pot, oh and a couple tablespoons of white vinegar to help leach out the marrow from the bones. Boil the hell out of the whole mess over two or three days, skimming as you go,  until the liquid is reduced by about half. Then strain the whole thing, toss out the skin/bones/vegetables, strain again – and you’ve got healthy, fresh stock, which can be used in a million different ways.

The meat gets one of two different treatments (not, obviously, counting turkey sandwiches – that’s a whole ‘nother post!). When I gave the boys in my family a choice between yummy turkey enchiladas and turkey pot pie, my two sons both chose pot pie while my husband just grinned and nodded for both choices. This time around, though, I believe I have enough turkey meat to handle the pot pie AND the enchiladas, so that’s kind of exciting.

TURKEY ENCHILADAS based on a recipe by Ron Stell (I don’t have the recipe in front of me, so…) These are NOT your red-sauce enchiladas!

Ingredients:  1 can cream of chicken soup; 1 small can chopped mild green chilies; 8 ounces sour cream;  12 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded/divided; 3/4 cup chicken or turkey stock; six scallions (green onions), chopped; 8 – 12 medium sized flour tortillas and 2 – 3 cups shredded turkey (or chicken).

Directions: Preheat oven to 325 f.  In a 9×12 pan, spray with cooking spray; set aside. In a large bowl, add cream of chicken soup, green chilis, sour cream, 8 ounces of the pepper jack, the stock, and the green onions; mix well to combine. SET ASIDE 1/3 OF THIS MIXTURE FOR THE TOP. (Can you tell I always forget this part?)  Add the chopped chicken/turkey to the mixture.

Take a tortilla, put a couple tablespoons of filling in, and roll up. Place in prepared pan. This will make about 10 enchiladas, unless you’re generous, in which you’ll make 8. Once all the tortillas are nestled in the pan, spread the reserved sauce over the top and sprinkle with the reserved cheese. Bake at 325 for 20 – 30 minutes, or until bubbly and just turning light brown.

This recipe doubles or even triples easily, so you can feed a crowd. It also freezes beautifully (especially if you have a freezer big enough to accommodate the pan). If you want to spice it up, feel free; but my Ohio boy likes the spice kick in this just fine.

Turkey Pot Pie

Use whatever crust recipe that you have that you love. Or buy those lovely pre-made pie crusts in a box.  For a real easy pot pie topper, use a sheet of puff pastry – and forego the bottom crust (which I do all the time). For this recipe, we’re using the puff pastry.

Ingredients: 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed; 2 cups chopped or shredded turkey; 1 Tlb olive oil; 1 small chopped onion; 2 sliced carrots; 1 sliced parsnip; 2 sliced celery sticks; 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed; 3 Tablespoons butter; 3 Tablespoons flour; 1 cup chicken or turkey stock; 1 cup 2% milk (or lower); 1-2 Tablespoons dry Sherry thyme, salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 325 f.  Heat a saute pan over medium heat; add olive oil. When oil is hot, add in onions, carrots, parsnip, and celery; saute until softened. Sprinkle with a bit of dried thyme about half way through. Once the vegetables are done, add in the green peas and one tablespoon of the sherry. Saute until the liquid is gone, remove from heat and add the turkey to the vegetables; mix well.

To make the sauce: in a medium saucepan, heat the butter until melted but not burning. Add in the flour to make a roux; stir until the mixture has a golden color, then add the one cup chicken stock, stirring rapidly until combined. Add in the milk and stir until thickened. Taste the sauce; add up to one teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add in one to two tablespoons sherry to the sauce; feel free to sprinkle some more thyme. Once you are satisfied at the taste, mix the sauce in with the turkey and vegetables. Pour into a deep dish pie plate. If you only have a shallow pie plate, keep the rest for a yummy open turkey melt sandwich.

Now to the puff pastry. Working quickly, roll out the puff pastry until just big enough to cover the top of the pie pan. Drape the pastry over the top; use a knife and cut around the edges. Tuck any excess inside the pie pan. One more thing to do: cut a small round hole in the middle of the pie, to allow steam to escape.

Put in oven.  Bake 20-30 minutes, or until the pastry becomes puffed and golden. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes to cool before serving.

Well, there you go – my tried-and-true answer to turkey leftovers. (It works GREAT with a pre-cooked chicken, too!) I don’t do the candied yams; this year, I didn’t make cranberry sauce, as I’m usually the only one who eats it. I’ll probably do a quick casserole with leftover stuffing, chopped turkey, and leftover gravy all mixed together and topped with biscuits (an easier pot pie, I guess…). If I have any turkey left over, that is!

As always, sending lots of love from my kitchen to yours. Now…who wants to go for a nice slow jog around the block?

Thanks for joining me – and remember, drink responsibly!







Hey everyone! Black Friday should be about more than just spending money so retailers end the year “in the black”.  Let’s call it “Support Your Local Author” day! (“Local” being nebulous on the interwebs.) Or even, “Read A Book, Love An Author” day!

I’m participating in a Black Friday Blog Hop with nine other fantastic authors. All of us are giving goodies away, and in many cases those goodies include copies of our books. All you have to do is comment, and you’ll be included to win! I’m giving away a $15 Amazon gift card and an e-copy of DEMON SOUL to one lucky winner! (Click on the link, which will take you to reviews.) And hopefully, if you don’t win, you’ll be intrigued enough to buy a copy of our books anyway!)

Black Friday. All my hubby wants this year is a new refrigerator. Not that ours is old; but it’s a side-by-side, with water and ice dispenser. Nifty and all and what all the cool kids wanted (about 10 years ago), but for our family it just doesn’t work. You can’t, for instance, put a regular sized frozen pizza in either the refrigerator OR the freezer.

He’s been wailing and gnashing his teeth for months now. He picked the fridge; he’s allowed to hate it. But this year he really wanted to pitch it. In the spirit of the upcoming fridge-centric holidays, and peace of mind, he even went online to look for Black Friday deals on refrigerators.

No go. So our refrigerator continues to run…and if it really did pick up legs and bolt, we’d not only wave as it ran down the street, but we’d lock the front door and not allow it back in.

BLOG HOP DETAILS: Simple, really. Not many rules. Just click on each blog address below, leave a comment, and hopefully win prizes! Here’s hoping your Black Weekend is a bright, happy and uneventful one.

Stop One: Chris Redding  http://chrisredddingauthor.blogspot.com  Chris is giving away – OMG – an iPOD!!!

Stop Two: W. Lynn Chantale  http://wlynnchantale-decadentdecisions.blogspot.com/  This lovely author is giving away a $15 gift card and a mug full of goodies!

Stop Three: ME! And you’re here, so just relax and look around, lol!

Stop Four: Chelle Cordero http://chellecordero.blogspot.com/  Chelle is giving away a book and a tee shirt – go check it out!

Stop Five: Tammy Dennings Maggy http://tammydenningsmaggy.blogspot.com/ Tammy is giving away some beautiful framed poetry.

Stop Six: Shelley Munro  http://www.shelleymunro.com/blog/ Shelley is giving away an ebook download of your choice from her backlist!

Stop Seven: Jane Wakely  http://www.janewakely.blogspot.com Jane is giving away a journal, a pen, and a bookmark – all terrific start-the-New-Year items!

Stop Eight: Debra Holland  http://drdebraholland.blogspot.com/ Debra’s giving away a copy of her fantasy romance, Sower of Dreams!

Stop Nine: Smoky Zeidel  http://www.SmokyZeidel.wordpress.com Smoky is giving away a pdf copy of the second edition of The Cabin!

Stop Ten: R. Ann Siracusa   http://backmybook.com/authors/r-ann-siracusa/blog  Ann is giving away a copy of her ebook, All For A Dead Man’s Leg!

So hop on over to the others and comment – and remember to always SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL AUTHORS!!!

Cheers – and remember to Shop Responsibly!

Holiday Hassles? Or…

Holiday Hassles? Or…

It’s begun. The rush to the holiday season is upon us. Madness in the form of turkey recipes, shopping lines, or the perfect gift for the frenemy in the office is descending upon everyone who has enough money in their pockets to be concerned about such things.

Holiday decorations. Pies. Uncle Jack’s drinking problem and Aunt Sally’s really bad wig. Underdone turkey and burned dinner rolls. One half of the family not talking to the other half, but both halves coming to YOUR house. Working too hard at work. Not having a job to go to. Battling your own sense of entitlement while trying to curb your kids’ “gimme” attitude. Battling your sense of despair while wondering how to provide a special, memorable time for your kids when the cash isn’t there. There’s a reason the holiday season accounts for more cases of depression than any other time of year, and strangely enough a lot of it seems to revolve around the having, or the lack, of money.

I’ve got the beginning of a solution. It doesn’t matter how much money you have in your pocket; it’s not a complete solution, either, and I’m pretty sure I’ve stolen this from someone else. But it’s a start. Ready?

Breathe. Take a few deep breaths. Stop your kitchen/shopping/bill-worrying madness. Go outside, spread your arms wide, breathe deeply. Feel the sun (or, if it’s night, the chill) on your face, and give thanks for being able to breathe. If you can, get your hands into the dirt. Plant something, or pull weeds. If there’s snow where you are, burn some frustrations off by building a snowman of any size (NOT as easy as it seems). Remember, you are not your bank balance. Remember to laugh!

Next, understand your place in the world – not in “bank account” terms, but in geologic terms. The mountain you can see outside your window (or the ocean, the plain, the forest, the desert) doesn’t give a rat’s ass about your Aunt Fanny’s tendency to blurt out uncomfortable truths at the dinner table. In fifty years, will anyone still be alive to remember the upside-down pumpkin pie on the kitchen floor, or that your child dumped hot gravy down your mom’s silk dress? Um, probably not. In the grand scheme of things, and whether you’re religious or not, as the decades pass the stuff that has your guts tied up in knots today won’t matter. They just won’t.

Does that mean that what you do doesn’t matter? Of course not. Kindness wins over selfishness. Happy memories win over mere things. Love – shared, expressed, and heartfelt, wins over all the pettiness that this time of year can call out in people.

I worry. Don’t for a minute think I’m immune. I worry about what to give my family this Christmas – my boys are grown, so the toys of previous years aren’t appropriate. My hubby and I have everything we need, really. How to make this year special? I don’t know, but I’m determined to figure it out. I will never say I’m not a worrier.

But… the old adage “you can’t change the things that happen – you can only change your attitude toward them” is true. So I worry, then I put it away. Nothing I can do about it, so I look to the bright side of things. I know “the papers will show up in the mail”.  I know “you’ll get the job”. I know, deep in my heart, that what I TRULY desire, as long as I focus on having it, will come about. It may not be in the package I think it should be, but it’ll be there. All I have to do is accept it.

So what it comes down to is, you have a choice. You can handle the holidays the way you’ve always handled them – spend too much, eat too much, bicker too much, worry too much, get pulled in a dozen different directions and battered by everyone else’s opinion on how you should live your life – OR…

You can Breathe. Resolve to put worry away, even if it’s just for a few hours at a time. Share your love. Let your family, friends, heck even your boss (if it’s appropriate) know how much you appreciate them. Change your attitude about things that normally get you tense or upset (in 100 years, will this matter?!). Let loose your inner Pollyanna. If ever there’s a time to play the Glad Game, it’s now. Go around the dinner table. What are you Glad about this year? If (or when) it degenerates into a bitter-fest, sit back and laugh, because heck – why not?Wishing you love, and joy, and peace. Wishing you the perfect memories of the upcoming, imperfect, holidays. Wishing for you the gift of laughter, good health, and good friends. Sending hugs out into the world to all my friends, old, new, and not-yet-met.

Mulled Wine – In Time for the Holidays

Mulled Wine – In Time for the Holidays

A couple weekends ago, Hubby texted me from his movie shoot. “I’m freezing. It’s been sleeting/snowing/raining/snowing/hailing/snowing and I’ve been outside all day…I’ll be home in an hour, give me something HOT and ALCOHOLIC to drink.”

I had a couple open bottles of red wine in the fridge. Without bothering to look up a recipe, I tossed them into a pan, threw in a cinnamon stick, a few cloves, and a cup of water (because I remembered that, somewhere in the back of my brain). After it heated (NOT boiled), I tasted it – bitter. So I added some brown sugar – about 3 tablespoons’ worth, I believe.

It did the trick. He came home only half frozen – a hot bath and a mug of mulled wine unfroze him the rest of the way.

I got to thinking, though. Who “invented” mulled wine? Why? What’s supposed to go in it, and what type of wine should you use?  All the sites I found on the internet seemed to crib off each other. To distill it for you, basically mulled wine has been around as long as wine has been around. It warmed people up in winter (and some people said it was to make bad wine taste better – a winter version of Sangria, I suppose) as well as gave them something “healthy” to drink (because water – well, it wasn’t very clean “way back when”). It can be found in almost every European country, and is often called “boiled” or “burned” wine.  Of course, you don’t want to boil or burn the wine! (Boiling burns off all the alcohol.)


First off, start with a hearty red wine. Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel will work nicely. If you’re making enough for a crowd, use two bottles – pour into a non-reactive pan (or hey, use that crock pot you got for your wedding and has that thick layer of dust on it – make sure to clean it first). If just for two to four people, use one bottle. DON’T use the cheapest wine you can find (although if you must, go ahead…); but likewise, don’t waste an expensive bottle. Anything that you like the taste of non-heated should be fine.

Next, add the spices. This will totally depend on your tastebuds. I like two cinnamon sticks – hubby likes only one. I generally put six to a dozen whole cloves, and if I had allspice, I’d toss that in, too. You can add ginger – either 1/2 teaspoon grated, or a small slice; or you could put in 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger (but fresh is much better). I’ve seen recipes that include cardamom pods, star anise, even bay leaves. Experiment!

Your next addition should be another liquid. Amounts kind of depend. You can add up to a cup of plain water, a cup of fresh squeezed orange juice, or a cup of apple cider; many recipes call for adding 4 ounces of brandy (some say cherry brandy).  I started with water; next time, I think I’ll add brandy AND some OJ.

Then comes the sweetener. The amount depends on how much wine you start with. So you can add anything from 1/2 cup of white or brown sugar to 1 and 1/4 cup of honey;  start on the stingy side, and taste as you go. Add more if you need to. My guess is if you’re using Agave syrup or Stevia for your sweetener, you can use them here, too; just be VERY stingy with your amounts until it’s where you want it.

Lastly comes the fruit. Whether or not you’ve already used orange or apple juice, you might want to add strips of orange zest or lemon zest; thin slices of orange and lemon; either in the pot, or in the bottom of the mug.

Let everything sit on low; either on the back of your stove, or in your crockpot. As the day goes on, the spices and the fruit really open up into the wine, and turn it into something magical. Plus, it leaves your house smelling really festive.

Recipe Heaven! Here are a couple of recipes, for those of you who don’t want to guess at amounts.

From Cooks.com:

2 bottles Cabernet Sauvignon, 1 1/4 cups honey, 4 cinnamon sticks, 1/2 cup sugar, 8 pieces cloves, 1 qt. strained fresh orange juice.

Cook to nearly boiling, then add 8 ounces brandy. Cut ingredients in half to serve six.

From Just Hungry:

1 bottle inexpensive yet tasty dry red wine, 2/3 cup of raw cane sugar or white sugar, or non-artificial sweetener of your choice, juice and peel of one small lemon, 2 cardamom pods, 4 cloves, 2 bay leaves, 2 cinnamon sticks.

Put everything in a heavy-bottomed pan. Sitr to melt the sugar. Heat the mixture over low heat, and leave for about an hour; it should never boil, just sort of seethe. Serve in small mugs (straining out the peel and spices), with optional shot of brandy, kirsch or other liquor.

Of course, if you Google mulled wine, you’ll get a ton of recipes – but you have the basics with what I’ve given you here. Play around, and do share if you come up with a new, tasty mulled wine treat!

From my house to yours, I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving. Come on back the day after Turkey Day, as I’m participating in a Black Friday Blog Hop!

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

Demon Soul is available for the Kindle and the Nook! Have you read it yet?

Two Rich Reds…

Two Rich Reds…

In these days of high unemployment and global financial crisis, it’s nice to relax with a bottle of wine that doesn’t break your pocketbook. I’m here to sort out the memorable from the truly awful, and each bottle is under $10 unless otherwise noted.

I’ve got two rich red wines to discuss today – one Pinot Noir from a vintner I’ve never heard of, and a red wine blend from an old friend. Settle back and enjoy!

Barrel Ranch Pinot Noir, 2009  Terravant Wine Company, Buellton, California Exclusively for Fresh N’ Easy Neighborhood Market Inc. $9.99 on Special at Fresh N’ Easy

On the Label: “Ranches once dominated the cool regions of California’s expansive coastlines, built by settlers in pursuit of the American Dream. Today many of these heritage ranches are surrounded by the finest wine vineyards, each quietly paying tribute to the early settlers by continuing the very dream they once established.

“This stylish Pinot Noir excites with bright red cherry and earthy aromas. Elegant and complex flavors of newly picked raspberry, ripe strawberry and hints of locally grown mushrooms complete this showcase of a classic fine wine.”

My Take: I liked this wine. It has a warmth to it, a big – yet not too big – mouth, and is a come-sit-down-relax-and-sip wine. It’s a, you’ve-had-a-hard-day wine. Undemanding, yet full of flavor and just the right bite of spice (not too heavy, I swear), it’s another go-to pinot noir for me. From what I read online at Fresh & Easy Wine Reviews, it’s an exclusive to their stores so don’t go looking for it elsewhere. I’m not a fan of the label, though –  I just had fresh strawberries and raspberries for lunch – the best strawberries I’ve had all year, too – and I didn’t taste either of those flavors in the wine. Please, wineries, don’t tell me what I SHOULD be tasting! Let me figure it out for myself.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ But don’t look for it in your local grocery store!

Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Summation Red Wine Blend California 2008 $9.99 at Vons

On the Label: “The whole is more than the sum of its parts. Inspired by Bordeaux style wines, Summation blends classic red varietals into a beautifully layered, complex whole. Smoother than Cabernet Sauvignon, richer than Merlot, more balanced than Zinfandel, this red wine blend offers intriguing flavors and aromas; roasted coffee, dark chocolate, pomegranate and black cherry intertwine to offer a multi-layered mouthfeel and sumptuous texture.”  –Founder, Jess S. Jackson

My Take: I liked this wine. Not as much as the Barrel Ranch Pinot, but it was a nice wine, complex and yet balanced. Maybe deeper in flavor than the Pinot. It went very well with grilled hamburgers (a rare treat now at our house) and smashed potatoes. This is another far too chatty label, telling me what I should taste in the wine. So I do loathe labels like this one. However, it doesn’t stop me from liking the wine!

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~

Next week, I’ll post some terrific recipes (in advance of Thanksgiving) for mulled wine. Stay tuned!

As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ.

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

One more thing…

DEMON SOUL was nominated for an award! Go check it out!