I feel a bit like a woman on fire lately, and in good way.
I’ve found myself looking around my home in the various rooms that contain those extra things that we don’t use and don’t need; at the various walls that hold too many paintings that don’t speak to us anymore; and into various built-into-the-wall shelves that have been comfortably housing now-obsolete CD’s, VHS tapes and even DVD’s that we no longer have any use for, and am wanting to take it all away and streamline everything.
I’ve reached that point, and whenever that happens to me, there’s no going back.
It’s not that I hadn’t noticed prior to now that there were some things that I thought we could truly do without, and didn’t fantasize about getting rid of them; but I’ve always been someone that needs to feel that undeniable urge, that inner chord to be struck that resonates and is impossible to ignore, in order to throw myself into something and not look back.
It’s something that says, “Now!”, and it gives me that push.
It’s an interesting thing when one begins to peel away and get rid of those things that speak of a time that’s passed.
A lot can be learned about one’s growth, one’s desires, and one’s state of current being-ness just from scrutinizing those things that are there but that no longer serve, or are of any use.
And I’m finding out that simplicity is what I crave—the basics—and an open environment that allows my energy to flow freely and unobstructed, because what is happening on the inside of me is of more importance and value to me now.
And I desire simplicity in order to better hear what’s coming through.
I think that sometimes we have a fear of letting go of things, both physical and emotional in nature.
But there comes a time when we feel that push, that little whisper, that implores us be brave and make a move towards the quieter and simpler, and trust that just being present and mindful—conscious—is what we need.
I’m looking in every area of life, quite frankly; at my physical surroundings, and into those things that I think that I must have in order to function, but truly don’t.
And I’m not talking about some type of denial, or some forced cleansing.
I’m just talking about taking an authentic look at things, assessing what is “extra baggage” and what no longer speaks of who I am and what I do want, and peeling that away to reveal a fresher layer.
And it can be like that with food, too.
Sometimes, a nice, simple baked potato stuffed with a creamy mixture of a little chicken, a little broccoli, and a couple shreds of cheddar is just the ticket.
It’s nothing fancy, just delicious.
I must say that I’m really enjoying getting acquainted with who I am now, today, through this little process of streamlining.
I’m enjoying the opportunity to be quiet with my creative thoughts, and to ask myself what I want to express about myself through my home, my environment, and the things that I surround myself with, or have, as a daily part of my life.
And what I’m finding out is that I’m growing up, maturing, and craving those simple, basic things of an intangible nature, rather than those of a tangible one.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Stuffed Baked Potato with Melted Cheddar
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 4
• 4 large russet potatoes, scrubbed
• Canola oil
• Black Pepper
• 1 ounce unsalted butter
• 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1 ounce all-purpose flour (4 tablespoons)
• 2 cups milk (I used 2%)
• 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
• ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
• 2 cups cooked and diced chicken breast (*see note below)
• 1 ½ cups chopped and blanched broccoli florets
• 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
• ¼ cup chopped, crispy bacon (optional)
(*For convenience, you can use a prepared rotisserie chicken from the market; or, if you’d like to prepare these yourself, just sprinkle two split chicken breasts, skin-on and bone-in, about 1 ¼ pounds total, with a little salt and pepper; then, roast in a 400° oven for 40 minutes; once cool enough to handle, remove skin and bones, and dice the meat.)
-Preheat your oven to 400°.
-Place your potatoes into a large bowl, and prick each potato a few times with a fork; drizzle a little oil over them (about 2 teaspoons worth) and rub that in, plus add a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and place the potatoes directly onto the rack in the oven; bake the potatoes for about 50-60 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a paring knife.
-While the potatoes bake, place a medium-size sauce pan over medium heat; add in the butter, and once it begins to melt, add in the garlic, and stir to combine.
-Once all of the butter is melted and the garlic is aromatic, sprinkle in the flour and stir to blend, and cook this roux for about 1 minute, stirring constantly, to cook out the raw flour taste.
-Next, pour the milk into the roux mixture, whisking the whole time to avoid any lumps from forming; bring the milk mixture up to a gentle simmer, and then simmer for a few minutes, whisking occasionally, until the mixture thickens and becomes creamy and smooth.
-Turn off the heat and add in 1 teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of black pepper, the Italian seasoning, and the grated parmesan, and whisk to combine and blend until smooth.
-Add in the diced chicken breasts and the chopped broccoli florets, and stir to incorporate.
-Once the potatoes are baked, allow them to cool just enough so you can handle them; slice them length-wise to open them up (do not cut all the way through, just enough to reveal the flesh inside, about ¾ of the way through), and squeeze to plump out the potato “flesh”; fluff with a fork, and sprinkle in a tiny bit of salt and pepper.
-To serve, ladle or spoon into the cavity of the potato a generous amount of the creamy chicken and broccoli sauce, and top with some of the grated cheese; if you desire to melt the cheese, place the potatoes under the broiler for about 1-2 minutes; then, finish with a sprinkle of the bacon, if desired.