Wednesday, February 24, 2016

what i've been doing (instead of blogging)

doing our taxes & working on a revised budget for 2016. honestly i get enough of accounting/finance related stuff at work that this has been a struggle. (ground control to major #burnout) by the time i get home from work my brain is just tired, but i know it's something we need to keep up with well. and a little update on our student loan payoff, we have officially paid off around 92% of our loans and are looking to make our last payment a few months before our projected date. which is awesome! this is why i know budgeting is important and that it's worth my struggle to keep up with it.

researching and cooking healthy meals. thomas & i are doing whole 30 again and the best way to succeed at that is to be prepared ahead of time which involves extra planning and food preparation. but it’s completely worth it to have a reset and start feeling so much better.

reading the Bible and setting goals. i had gotten out of the habit of regular scripture reading so i'm trying to get back into intentionally carving out that time in my day. needless to say this helps cut down stress as well. :) along with that, i've been using Chantel's goal worksheets to really define what i want to accomplish this year and each month, as well as processing through things the Lord is teaching me.

training for a 5k. after thomas & i ran that 5k a year & a half ago, i haven't run very much. i walk a lot during lunch breaks but definitely haven't run. even though i don't really enjoy running, i know it will help me to feel better as well as lose some of this weight i've gained. so i convinced my dad to run a 5k with me in May which means i have to train for it and that keeps me motivated. 

re-reading the harry potter books & tons of books in between. i've been doing tons and tons of reading at night to help me get to sleep easier. i've gotten hooked on quite a few fiction book series and have just flown through them. my heart speaks fiction.

going on hikes & walks with Thomas. getting more fresh air, uninterrupted time with my husband, and sneaking in some extra exercise. i'll take it.

de-cluttering & getting our house ready to sell. we are planning on selling our house this year, and let me tell you that is a huge project! we started off the year by de-cluttering and organizing the house. it feels SO MUCH BETTER now and it has helped to cut down on the stress we feel thinking of everything that we need to do around the house. why did we not do this sooner? seriously. we have slowly been working on cleaning out our barns & packing things from the house to store in the barn. now we are working on a few projects around the house so it will be ready to show. all of this is a lot of work... and then packing up & moving makes me want to take a nap for like a week! but it is exciting too and we are ready for the next adventure! ;)

what about you? what have you been up to lately?

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

the best chicken & rice casserole in all the land

i can't remember how old i was the first time my parents made this dish, but ever since my first taste it has been one of my favorites! a few years ago my parents gave me and my sister a family recipe book with a lot of our favorite recipes in it, so i figured it was time that i made this myself! before making this for the first time i had no idea what a roux was (#lazycooklife) or how much butter actually goes in this recipe! so it was a learning experience for me!

i will say that the recipe calls for a LOT of salt. Thomas loves salt on everything, but even he thinks it's a little salty tasting if you use the whole tablespoon (probably thanks to the sodium in the canned chicken)... so we plan to put less salt in the next time we make it. also, i normally don't like a lot of crunch or nuts in my food (#pickyeaterlife) but the water chesnuts & almonds really make this casserole, so keep those in! 


1 package Uncle Ben's fast-cooking long-grain wild rice
1/2 cup margarine
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
3 cups cooked chicken, chopped
1 1/2 cup half and half
3 oz sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp pepper
1 package (2 1/2 oz) almonds, sliced (save some to top casserole with)

note: i would forego the salt, or at least half it, if using canned chicken

medium sauce pan
large pot
9x13 casserole dish


step 1) cook the rice in a medium sauce pan, per the instructions on the package and set aside.

step 2) make a roux using the butter, onion, flour, and broth. in a large pot, melt butter and saute onion until tender on medium heat. add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. add chicken broth and cook until it thickens and is bubbly.

step 3) take the pan off of the heat and stir in the rice, chicken, half & half, water chestnuts, most of the almonds, salt, and pepper into the large pan and mix well with the roux.

step 4) place mixture into an ungreased 9 x 13 pan and top with remaining almonds. bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

this recipe is a little more involved than i normally like to make, because i'm a lazy cook! i did use canned chicken to save time, and it only took me about 40-45 minutes from start to finish. i didn't get the fast cooking rice so it took 20 minutes to cook, but that gave me time to get all of my other ingredients ready and figure out how to make a roux. now that i know what a roux is and how the recipe goes, i can see this being a quick meal to put together! plus, it is completely freezable, so next time someone is sick you can take them this instead of chicken noodle soup and they will probably love you forever!

note: after writing this post, i made the recipe a second time. this time around i used the fast cooking rice ;) i had everything chopped, stirred, cooked, in the oven, and everything rinsed off and in the dishwasher within 30 minutes, so i call that a win! also i cut the salt down to 1/2 tbsp and i liked it that way much better! especially if you use canned chicken, it's a safe bet to cut down on the salt or throw it out all together! 

are you a casserole person? if so, what are some of your favorite casseroles?