Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sometimes Our Most Creative Projects Are Our Friendships


One of my best friends is a friend I met...who knows, 15+ years ago? Chancie Goodwin went to Murray State University, like I did, but we never crossed paths. I met her later though her sister-in-law, who was a friend of mine and also went to Murray State University, and ironically enough, another fellow student that I didn't know until I moved to Nashville.

Chancie happens to have a beautiful voice, and while I've heard it in many car rides and sometimes at weddings and other local occassions, I've seldom heard that voice as part of a special performance. One of her friends reminded her that we should share the gifts God has provided, and I'm glad she was asked by that friend to perform a few songs at a Nashville-area church. I hope she continues sharing that gift.

I'm also glad that she happened to sing this song, from Wicked, "For Good." She'll talk about it in the beginning, but to repeat briefly, it is amazing how God brings people into our lives at just the right time, and how friends and mentors can mold us, inspire us, and change our course.

Chancie is one of my best friends, even though we seldom see each other due to my travel schedule and different world from her busy baseball schedule with kids and her different world. But our friendship strengthened many years ago, just when we needed it. I remember rather distinctly that it was during a time when my father died suddenly, and she was the type of friend that I could call at 2 a.m. for support.

She's still one of those friends to me. And while this may not be an art project, home remodel or new recipe as part of my blog, it is a friendship that has had just as much effort and reward as some of my creative projects around the house.

Hope you enjoy; her sister and a friend of mine also, Katie, performs with her. Hope they both don't kill me for putting it on my blog, Facebook was giving me issues when trying to post on my page.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Yoder's Country Market and Last Night's Dinner

So, I had some friends over last night for dinner, and made an easy meal and the recipes were requested. I've posted a painting of Bulls Gap, Tennessee where yes, my Jeep crossed right where that truck is traveling, and the hotel is still there. The hotel, originally The Smith Hotel built in late 1800s and then later bought and renamed to Gilleys Hotel, looked abandoned and in need of repair, however I understand it was recently donated to the Bulls Gap Railroad Museum and they're raising money to renovate it. So if you're in there area, stop by and pay an upfront admission to City Hall, donating to a good cause in tourism and preservation. Anyway, what does that have to do with dinner recipes?

Well, I stopped at Yoder's Country Market in Bulls Gap, one of several Amish stores throughout Tennessee, known for their country ham, cheeses, breads, jams and jellies and so much more. They had every type of spice and flour imaginable, as well as homemade pasta. I bought the tomato-basil whole-wheat pasta (brother of mine - it was cholestrol free).

So here's the menu...

Parmesan Chicken
1/2 cup all-purpose flor
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
2 tsp dried basil leaves
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup milk
6 split chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In 13" x 9" baking pan, melt butter in oven. Meanwhile, mix all ingredients except milk and chicken in a bowl. Dip chicken breasts in milk and then coat in flour mixture. Dip chicken in butter than place skin side up in pan. Bake at 45-50 minutes or until chicken is tender and golden brown.

Parmesan Noodles
9 ozs. wide egg noodles (I used the Tomato-Basil noodles from Yoder's Country Market)
3 T butter
Seasoned salt to taste
3 T sour cream
1/2-cup Parmesan cheese (grated)

Cook noodles in boiling water until tender. Drain and return to saucepan. Add butter and seasoned salt, stirring until butter melts. Add sour cream and Parmesan cheese, stirring to combine.

Cranberry & Feta Cheese Salad
Lettuce (I used butter leaf and romaine mixture)
Dried cranberries (handful, whatever)
Small tub of feta cheese
Crispy French Onion - (handful, whatever)
Maple Grove Farms of Vermont Fat Free Balsamic Vinaigrette (only 5 calories; love this stuff)
Peanut Butter Striped Delight
I'll just give you the link for this one...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Trail Travels

Wow, sorry it has been so long since I posted something. I have been on the road a lot with our exciting new tourism project, the Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways. The small town girl in me is loving this project, and let me explain why. We're producing trails state-wide that start in key areas like Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville and the Great Smoky Mountains area, producing self-guided driving tour loops, and pointing out all of the hidden gems.

It may be pointing out the things in the heart of Gatlinburg, the history behind it all, that you never noticed. It's showcasing local favorites like Tipton's in Greeneville or Arnold's in Nashville, where you'll love southern cooking. Antique stores, historic attractions, stories behind the's connecting the dots and making it an adventure. I am really loving digging up stories like the history of Mountain Dew, which started in Knoxville or realizing that the French Broad River is the third oldest river in the world. We're also pointing out wonderful historic homes along the way, some of which are private residences, but as you drive by, you wonder about the story of the home. Now, you know I love that! Discovering folks like Lewis Buckner, an African-American master carpenter, cabinetmaker and home builder, who built more than 40 homes in the Sevierville area at the turn of the 20th century and each one is a work of art.

Wasn't wild about history in school, and now I'm jumping in head first.

Yet, most likely, I'm loving this project because of folks like Imogene, who reminded me of someone that would have been in my grandma's pinochle club. She works at Dandridge's Visitor Center and she practically hugged me for this effort to bring tourist to the town that she loves so much. She was a wealth of knowledge, and only fell slightly short on restaurant options, because she always cooks at home, which made the experience even better.

It's for folks like Nancy, who heads up the tourism efforts in Rogersville, another wonderful historic town. She grew up there all her life, gave me a wonderful walking tour and we enjoyed lunch at the Sweet Tooth Cafe, where she knew everyone in the place. It so reminded me of my hometown, Carterville, and made me envy the efforts made here that I wish my hometown would make. Later, we passed by some eager youth with papers in hand, and she asked them if they were making any progress. When we left them, she explained that she leads a youth group, and their assignment is community service in the downtown area and she had them on a mission. What a wonderful way to instill downtown pride.

And it's for the antique shop owners and servers at the wonderful "dive" restaurants, who offer a smile of gratitude when I mention they're included on the trail.

I could go on and on, but for now, I'll stop. But I will do a better job of posting these experiences, not only with a quick Facebook photo, but with a story on my blog. Right now, we're trying to finish up brochures for the White Lightning Trail (Knoxville to Cumberland Gap area), Sunny Side Trail (Great Smoky Mountain area to Northeast Tennessee) and Nashville's Trace (Tennessee portion of the National Byway - Natchez Trace, and our suggest loops off this historic road).

As I'm researching and traveling, I'll post some items on these journeys. I just finished riding a large portion of the Sunny Side Trail, made it as far as Bull's Gap (home of Hee Haw star, Archie Campbell, BTW) and will have to finish up in the next week or two.

For now, check out a blog that inspired me during my research, when looking for information on the replica childhood home of Dolly Parton, which is on the Sunny Side Trail. This happens to be a great blog for home lovers, so it was right up my alley.

Happy trails,

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Chunky Tomato Soup and Cheesy Croissants

O.K., I know this isn't rocket science, but here's an easy lunch for you for the snowy weather. I bought the grocery's cheap brand of tomato soup, along with the same brand of petite diced tomatoes. I mixed together, along with Italian seasoning and salt and pepper and prepared this soup as directed. This soup was so much better than when I just make Campbell's tomato soup, who knew?

With it, had reduced fat croissants, one with sprinkled reduced fat cheese; other with turkey pepperoni and reduced fat cheese.

Sorry I didn't take a photo, couldn't wait to eat it. Good stuff, so easy, so cheap; and quick!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Balsamic Pork Chops, Roasted Asparagus and Sauteed Spinach

Yes, another healthy meal, what can I say? Turned out great, and it took less than 20 minutes. Potatoes on the photo are left-overs, recipe on earlier post. I also made 12 fruit smoothies (not shown...obviously) to place in the freezer for future consumption...yum. They included bananas, strawberries and pineapple, shot of V-8 Splash and ice. One way to get your fruits and veggies in...drink them.

Recipe for pork chops and asparagus came from Weight Watchers 5 Ingredient 15 minute Cookbook, recipe for spinach came from the good ole internet after Google searched "Baby Spinach Recipes", after having some left-over baby spinach and could not eat one more spinach salad. In case you haven't noticed, I hate to waste anything.

O.k., here we go with your recipes, hope you enjoy.

Balsamic Pork Chops
4 (4-oz.) boneless center-cut pork loin chops (1/2" thick)
1 tsp salt-free lemon-herb seasoning (I used sf garlic-herb seasoning instead)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup fat-free, less sodium chicken broth
Cooking spray

1. Trim fat from chops. Sprinkle chops evenly on both sides with seasoning. Coat a medium nonstick skillet with cooking spray; place over medium-high heat until hot. Add chops, and cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Removed chops from skillet and keep warm.

2. Wipe drippings from skillet with a paper towel. Combine vinegar and broth in skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture is reduced to a thin sauce (about 5 to 6 minutes), stirring occasionally (don't cook too long, it will get too me). Spoon sauce over chops.

Yield: 4 servings. Calories 210; Carbs .9 g; Fat 11.4g (sat 3.8g); Fiber .1g; Protein 24.3g; Sodium 178m. WW Points: 5

Roasted Asparagus
Olive oil-flavored cooking spray

1. Preheat over to 450 degrees.

2. Snap off tough ends of asparagus. Arrange asparagus in a single layer in a jelly roll pan (I used a cookie survived). Coat asparagus with cooking spray and bake at 450 for 10 minutes or until tender.

Yield 4 servings. Calories 18; Carbs 2.9g; Fat .5g; Fiber 1.3g; Protein 1.5g. WW Points: Big Fat 0 - Love that!

For the Sauteed Spinach recipe, you can go to this link:

Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year, New Beginnings - Healthy Food Discoveries

Sorry it's been a while since my last post...holidays and taking time to get things better organized. That's what we do at the New Year, isn't it? Clean out closets, organize desks, start working out, eat healthier, start routines maybe like going to church regularly, reading more or writing in a journal. Well...I'm trying to do all of that (if the blog counts for journal writing now). Let's see how long it lasts.

I won't bore you with all of it, but I do want to share some of my latest healthy food discoveries. I had I thought...for this, but had forgotten that I took my memory card out of my camera for downloads; and lost the cord to hook up my camera to I only have one photo for you...that of this great dressing.
Maple Grove Farms of Vermont
Fat Free Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
It wasn't very experience ($2.19) and for that plus the FAT FREE in all caps, I didn't have high hopes that this would taste good. It only has 5 calories, no fat, 0 WW pts. But it taste great, and I've had Baby Spinach Salads with Craisins and little big of Feta Cheese all week. Salad has 4 WW pts, 5 grams of fiber.
Fiber One Blueberry Muffings (frozen)
These taste great, highly recommend, 3 WW pts and 7 grams of fiber.
Meal: Meat Loaf, Steamed Potatoes, and Green Beans
Total: 6 WW pts, 8 grams of fiber. Recipe for meat loaf and potatoes came out of Weight Watchers 5 Ingredient 15 Minute Cookbook.
Barbecue Meat Loaf
1 lb. ground round
1/2 cup barbecue sauce, divided
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup Italian-seasoned dry breadcrumbs
2 large egg whites
1/4 tsp. pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine meat, 1/4 cup barbecue sauce, onion, breadcrumbs, egg whites and pepper in large bowl; stir well.
3. Shape mixture into a 7" x 5" loaf on a rack in a roasting pan. Spread remaining 1/4 cup barbecue sauce over loaf. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or to desired degree of doneness. Yield: 4 servings. Per serving: Calories 228, Carbs 10.4g, Fat 7.6g (sat 2.6g), Fiber .5g, Protein 27.7.
Steamed Red Potatoes
1 lb. round red potatoes, quartered
2 T water
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Butter-flavor spray (such as I Can't Believe It's Not Butter)
1. Place potatoes in microwave-safe dish. Add water, and cover. Microwave at HIGH 8 minutes or until tender. Coat with butter-flavored spray, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Yield: 4 servings. Per Serving: Calories 86; Carbs 18.9g; Fat 0.3g, Fiber 2.1g, Protein 2.5g, Sodium 155mg.
Jen's Green Beans
Heat skillet on medium hit with about tablespoon of olive oil. Can add little minced garlic and/or chopped onion on oil if you like as it heats. Then put one can green beans (drained) in skillet, sprinkle with Italian seasoning, if you didn't use chopped onion, then sprinkle minced onion on beans, along with salt and pepper. I sometimes use garlic pepper as well. Cook for about 15 minutes. Yield: 2+ servings. Calories 70ish; Fat 0; Carbs 2; Fiber 2; WW points - big fat 0.
Hope you enjoy these food discoveries!