The New Year seems to be a time when so very many folks want to make some big changes and completely make-over their lives.
Sounds like a tall order!
Resolutions go with January the way that milk goes with cookies, and we become inundated with commercials featuring weight loss products or services, as well as workout equipment and other devices or plans for various types of self-improvement that are meant to make someone into a “new version” of themselves.
And then by late February? The chirp of crickets.
So how come these “resolutions” generally seem so short lived?
Are we biting off more than we can chew (so to speak), looking to go from zero to sixty overnight in terms of changes, and then realizing that it can be quite impossible, so we just give up?
Seems a tad too “all-or-nothing”.
Perhaps it’s better get to know ourselves and who we truly are, and then take the baby steps needed to nurture and nourish that in a healthy and loving way.
If I’m to be completely honest here, I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions; but I’m definitely one for more of the daily reflections, where I can look back on the day that I’ve lived through and think on how I’d like to improve my connection with other people, and possibly shift my perspective on things, in more bite-size (and less obvious, I suppose) chunks.
That is something I know I can do, and each day filled with a little more awareness, and tweaked just a little in the positive direction, makes for a year of change at the end of it all.
May not be drastic, but it’s certainly change.
Take this Creamy Chicken Noodle Casserole with a buttery saltine cracker crust, for instance; perhaps it kinda reminds you of something?
It’s the result of chicken noodle soup getting a little tweak, only ever-so slightly, and being made into a cozy casserole with all of its comforting and savory essence left intact.
Little changes, not big ones; but they can make a big difference in terms of experience!
Sometimes I feel like perhaps the resolution for the New Year should be no resolutions; but hey, that’s just me.
Keeping things to daily reflections, and to bite-size tweaks and positive changes, can only help in making us more of who we are, which ultimately, is who we were meant to be anyway.
So here’s to finding out about ourselves, and to nurturing that, rather than trying to become something we’re not.
And here’s to making little shifts and changes that will support the best of what’s already found within each of us, so that we can live more fulfilled and joy-filled lives.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Creamy Chicken Noodle Casserole with a Buttery Saltine Cracker Crust
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 6-8
• 1 pound chicken breast tenderloins (or skinless, boneless breasts)
• Olive oil
• Black pepper
• 3 carrots, peeled and finely diced
• 1 rib celery, finely diced
• 1 cup frozen petite peas, thawed
• 12 ounces uncooked corkscrew pasta, cooked according to package instructions
• 1 cup saltine cracker crumbs (about 35 crackers processed in food processor)
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
• 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
• Creamy Chicken “Gravy”, warm (recipe below)
-Sprinkle a couple of pinches of salt and pepper over the chicken, and drizzle with about 1-2 tablespoons of oil; place a pan over medium-high heat, and once hot, add in the chicken and cook for roughly 4 minutes per side, or until completely cooked through; once slightly cool, dice into small, bite-size pieces and set aside for a moment.
-Blanch the diced carrots in salted, boiling water for about 5 minutes, just until they’re crisp-tender; drain, and set aside along with the diced celery and thawed peas.
-Make the buttery saltine cracker crust by combining the cracker crumbs with the chopped parsley and the melted butter, and mixing together with a fork or your fingers until well incorporated.
-To assemble the casserole, add the cooked pasta to a large bowl, and add in the cooked and diced chicken, along with the veggies; then, pour over the warm Creamy Chicken “Gravy”, and using a large spoon, toss everything together to combine and to coat in the sauce.
-Pour the ingredients into a medium-large baking/casserole dish lightly misted with cooking spray, and sprinkle the buttery saltine cracker crumbs evenly over the top; then, bake at 450° for 20 minutes, or until the crust is golden.
Creamy Chicken “Gravy” Ingredients:
• 6 cups chicken stock
• 1 clove garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1 teaspoon, heaping, Italian seasoning
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper
• ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
• 3 ounces unsalted butter (6 tablespoons)
• 3 ½ ounces all-purpose flour (about ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons)
• 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
-Add the stock to medium sauce pan or small pot, and to it add the garlic, the Italian seasoning, and the black and white peppers, and whisk to combine; heat the stock until hot.
-While the stock heats, add the butter to another large pot set over medium-low heat, and allow the butter to melt; once melted, sprinkle in the flour and stir to combine to form a paste or “roux”, and allow this roux to cook for about 30-45 seconds, just to cook out the raw taste of the flour.
-Next, pour the hot stock into the butter/flour roux, whisking all the while to avoid lumps, and simmer the sauce gently for about 5-10 minutes until thickened and creamy; stir in the parsley to finish.