creamy steamy southern chicken.

Comfort food.  Healthier comfort food.  Have I sold you yet?  I am obsessed with this dish.  I came up with this recipe the other day because I was craving some creamy chicken.  My friend, Danielle, is the southern cooking girl.  She is a great cook and makes the best food, especially down home southern food.  She makes an amazing poppy seed chicken.  I had that dish in mind when I created this recipe.

healthier comfort food

 

This chicken dish is so easy to make.  It is like a poppy seed chicken, but without the poppy seeds.  You could easily add them in if you like them, or just make it as is if you don’t.  I also used Club crackers instead of Ritz crackers.  Just because I’m not a big Ritz cracker fan, but you could use either.  I tweaked this recipe to make it healthier.  I made my own cream of chicken soup.  I cannot stand cream of chicken soups that you buy at the store.  I find them disgusting.  They’re full of preservatives and very high in salt.  I appreciate their convenience but to me it is just not worth it.  You can use a can of cream of chicken soup, or you can use my recipe to make your own.  I would normally put sour cream in this dish, but this time I replaced it with plain, nonfat yogurt to make it healthier.

 

Here’s why it’s healthier:

All natural, plain, nonfat yogurt  vs. low-fat sour cream
Calories                                  100                                                     320
Total fat                                  0 g                                                      20 g
Saturated fat                          0 g                                                      16 g
Sodium                                    150 mg                                             200 mg
Potassium                               510 mg                                              0
Carbohydrates                        15 g                                                   16 g
Sugar                                         15 g                                                   16 g
Protein                                      11 g                                                   16 g
Calcium                                     40%                                                  32%

 

*This is per 1 cup of yogurt and 1 cup of sour cream.  

 

As you can see, the yogurt is lower in calories, fat, sodium, and is high in potassium.    Yogurt is a much better choice than sour cream here!

 

That being said, I do not recommend this substitute for everyone.  Stick with sour cream and not the yogurt substitute if you have kidney problems and need to limit your potassium.  Yogurt is rich in potassium, so while it is a great benefit for most of us, for someone with kidney disease it would not be a good place to get potassium.  

 

 

Here’s the recipe:

 

Creamy Steamy Southern Chicken

ingredients:

10 frozen chicken breasts
homemade “cream of chicken”
8 oz. plain, nonfat yogurt
1 sleeve Club crackers
3 T butter, melted

directions:

1.  Place frozen chicken breasts into 9×13 baking dish.  Follow directions for baking.  [My bag of Kroger frozen chicken had instructions to bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes]
2.  While chicken is baking, make homemade cream of chicken [or you can skip this step if you are using the canned stuff]
3.  Add yogurt to cream of chicken.
4.  Crumble crackers and add to melted butter.  Coat crackers in butter.
5.  Remove chicken from oven when thoroughly cooked and pour yogurt/cream of chicken mixture over top.
6.  Top with cracker crumbs.
7.  Cook in oven at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until everything is warmed and slightly brown.

creamy chicken breasts

creamy chicken

creamy steamy chicken for jack   Jack loved this dish, too.

creamy steamy chicken

creamy steamy southern chicken

Enjoy!

Advertisements

the green monster.

I’ve jumped on the smoothie bandwagon.  Because of my autoimmune disorders, I sometimes have trouble eating.  A smoothie is a great way to get nutrients in that is easy on my mouth and throat.  Autoimmune disorders aside, I think smoothies are great for breakfast and afternoon snacks.  Not only am I on the smoothie bandwagon, but the green smoothie one.  I am loving this green smoothie!  It tastes a whole lot better than it looks.  And this smoothie is very nutritious!  I use low-fat, plain yogurt.  It’s very low in fat and has less sugar than flavored yogurts.  I do add some honey to sweeten it, which also blends really well with these fruits and the spinach.

 

If you have trouble getting your kid to eat anything green, this is a really fun way to get them involved.  They can help put the ingredients in the blender, watch it go, and then drink a fun drink.  It’s a great way to get the goodness of fruits and vegetables in picky eaters.

 

favorite green smoothie

 

the green monster

ingredients:

1 banana
1 apple
1 cup green grapes
1 1/2 cups spinach
1 cup plain, non-fat yogurt
1-2 tablespoons honey

 

directions:

1.  Wash all fruit.
2.  Cut apple into slices and core.
3.  Put all ingredients in blender.
4.  Blend together to desired consistency.

 

green smoothie ingredients

green smoothie

green smoothie with honey

green smoothie in blender

green smoothie favorite

 

*note:  I don’t peel the apple because that’s where a lot of good fiber is, and I want to make sure I get that.  However, I do not have a great blender like a Vitamix – just a regular one – so the pieces of peel are obvious in the smoothie.  I don’t mind it, but I do have to take a sip and then chew the peel.  If it bothers you, you could simply peel the apple first.  Or get a Vitamix 🙂

 

Enjoy!  And happy Friday friends!

when you only see the imperfections.

I look around my house and all I see is this awful color on the wall.  I notice every mark on the wall.  Every spot on the carpet.  I notice every scratch on each baseboard and those few spots where the crown molding doesn’t meet perfectly.  I notice the scratch on the sink.  The worn floor in the kitchen.  I notice how Jack’s room needs something else but I’m not sure what.  I notice how my bathroom is missing something fun, something special. 

When I look in the mirror I see that my glasses make my left eye bigger than my right.  I see the scar on my lip from where I got hit with a softball and my lip got stuck to my braces.  I notice how my hips are quite wide these days, forgetting that it’s because I’ve birthed 2 children. 

 

It’s easy to see the imperfections.  It’s easy to get caught up in the negativities of life, missing the beauty.  And I have certainly been stuck there.  Believing lies of all that is wrong, things we don’t have, and how this is not enough – how I am not enough. 

 

And those are just that – lies.  We are so blessed.  God has been faithful to us.  We are still here.  I have an amazing, loving husband and two precious boys!  One who I get to raise here and one in Heaven with our Father.  We live in this amazing city.  We have a beautiful home.  My husband has a good job.  I get to spend my days with my sweet JT.  All of these blessings and so many more.  But I tend to quickly forget those things.  These important things that I should always be thankful for, I tend to overlook.  And instead I look at things that don’t matter, things I can’t control, or things that have no eternal significance.  I don’t want my focus to be there.  I want a thankful heart.  One that is overflowing with thankfulness for this life.  And the beauty of it is that I can control what I focus on.  I can shift my thinking and re-focus on what matters. 

As I stood washing dishes in my sink thinking about all of the things I would change, I realized all of this.  There will always be imperfections in life, but I’m choosing to see past those and just see the beauty. 

Family Pictures Fall 2013 006

why i love having a big boy and this delightful stage.

When Jack was a few weeks old, I got really sad that he was growing.  I loved him so much, and I was so afraid of him getting bigger and out growing the things that I loved the most about him.  I told my mom this one night while we were talking on the phone, and I think I will always remember her answer.  She said she remembered feeling the same way with me when I was a baby, but then I would get older and that stage would be even more fun than the last.  She said it was always okay because each age became her favorite as I grew into it.  I’m sure there was some limit to that – hello, teen years – but within a few months I found myself feeling exactly the same as my mom had felt over 20 years earlier. 

 

Each cute little tiny newborn thing was replaced by something really cool, like rolling over and sitting up and eating real food.  Then he could walk and run and play so much more.  Then he became passionate about things and was so fun to be with.  Then he started talking.  And now he is this for real little person in our lives who gets life and participates in it each day with us.  It never ceases to amaze me. 

 Nikon D3200 612

This age is so fun.  Jack knows how things go, and it’s really fun to have a little buddy in life.  When 2 years ago I couldn’t imagine how I would mother a toddler, now it is my very favorite thing.  Sure, there are challenges with a 2, almost 3 year old, but man, it is fun. 

 

Nikon D3200 264 

Nikon D3200 740 

 

I have to appreciate this stage that we are in right now.  It’s delightful.  And while I don’t take lightly the responsibility of raising a child and shepherding him, I am enjoying how much easier this stage is.  I have a child who can – maybe won’t, but can – get diapers, and clothes out.  Go grab his shoes and put them away.  Put laundry in the washer for me and help unload the dishwasher.  He can wipe off the table and put his laundry in his drawers.  Of course, there are still the times where he needs milk, then he needs juice, then he needs water, then he needs a snack, then he needs another one, then he needs to play upstairs, then he needs me to go with him, then he needs to color.  But he is really helpful, and he really is a big boy these days.  And it’s fun.  And I love it.  Jack loves being a big boy.  It is the best.  And I am loving this stage we are in right now. 

   Nikon D3200 435

unfashion monday.

On Friday I said that I was going to spend less time on the computer and on the internet over the weekend.  Funny how that worked out.  Sunday morning my phone broke.  Would not turn on at all – broken.  It’s so weird when that happens.  I definitely realized how attached to my phone I am!  It was weird not being able to text.  Or use any apps.  I took my phone to the Verizon store, but they couldn’t fix it.  They suggested I go to the Apple store.  I did that, but it was chaos and I had Jack with me and naptime was approaching.  So we can home, and I went back today.

They couldn’t fix my phone either, so they gave me a brand new one.  So I’m back in touch with the world, which is great.  But I kind of liked not having a phone.  Having a good excuse for not being in touch all the time.  I wasn’t on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter and IT WAS FINE.  Maybe Tommy has a point after all when he says I don’t need to be on my phone all the time.  Guess he was on to something.  So I may try using it a little less.  Being a little more present with my family.

 

Now, on to Monday.  What I am about to do is shocking to me.  Let me explain…  I have never thought of myself as a fashionable person.  Ever.  I certainly have my own style, which I like to think is a mix of copying current trends and doing them the lazy and cheap way.  As it turns out, people like that.  I never thought about doing fashion posts – ever.  Because I am not a fashionable person.  In fact, I am unfashionable, really.  But I was recently encouraged to do a little fashion blogging because there are a lot of women who are just like me.  They want to look nice, somewhat stylish, be comfortable, and not pay a lot for it.

 

Y’all, I’m not even kidding when I tell you most of my clothes these days come from Target.  That always shocks people, but there’s really good stuff there.  And it’s stuff that’s in my budget.  I don’t do a lot of shopping.  It’s not very much fun for me.  I hate trying clothes on.  I have a toddler.  And I don’t like spending money on clothes.  So when I’m running in to Target to grab diapers and paper towels, and I see a cute top, I grab it.  Just like a lot of young women.  Target is genius in what they do.  Genius.

 

So I’m going to share a little “fashion” here and there, which I still think is probably more unfashion.  Because I really don’t know.  So if you know about fashion, please forgive me for tainting the world of fashion.  But if you are like me, maybe you will nod right along with me and we can learn some stuff from each other.

 

I cannot stall any longer.  Here are a couple of my recent outfits.  [Also, just want to note that this many selfies makes me uncomfortable.]

 

unfashion monday 1   Leggings are my favorite thing.  So comfortable.  So versatile.  I would wear them all the time if I could.  The problem is that I don’t have a lot of long enough shirts.  I do agree with the “leggings don’t count as pants rule”, but I am also guilty of wearing them as pants some times when I think my shirt is long enough but it ends up not being.  Lessons learned the hard way there.  This isn’t my favorite outfit, but it works.  Basic black polka-dot long top, leggings from Target, sweater from Target, and slippers that I wear as shoes from Target.

 

unfashion monday 2This lighting is terrible here.  It’s like that episode of Seinfeld where the woman looks one way in good light and scary in poor light.  Yikes!  Leggings, long white, soft shirt from Old Navy clearance, and my favorite warm boots.  Winter coat from Target.

 

unfashion monday 3 unfashion monday 4
One of my favorite outfits.  Dark skinny jeans from Old Navy, chambray shirt my Granny got me from Kohl’s, and brown/gold Toms.  With my very stylish little helper and his mad apple eating skills.

 

happy unfashion monday, friends!

it’s the weekend baby, we’re about to have us some fun.

A few highlights from the week:

this video is hilarious.  I saw it on Jimmy Fallon the other night and have been laughing ever since.

 

Also, really enjoying Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show.  Good stuff.

 

This background every time I pick up my iPhone, makes me smile and feel a little calmer.

iphone background

from Naptime Diaries

 

 

Watching the Olympics.  Love getting to sit and watch it each night.  Figure skating, luge, bobsled, and hockey are my favorites.  Tommy loves the hockey — today was rough.

 

 

This weekend is going to be beautiful here!  60 degrees, sunshine, and 2 days of no work and all play.  [And still a good bit of work mixed in].  But I’m aiming to really live in this weekend.

via

happy weekend!

standing on holy ground.

This week is beautiful here in East Tennessee.  Beyond beautiful.  We’re talking 60 degrees, even 70 yesterday.  I went by the cemetery today before I picked Jack up from preschool.  It was a perfect day to go.  The warm weather, mixed with sunshine and partly cloudy skies, with an incredibly strong and present breeze made for an amazing visit.

 

I like to drive through the cemetery with my windows down.  I open the sunroof and roll the windows down, and usually turn my music up really loud.  I’m pretty sure I would have found that inappropriate before – and I do try to be respectful if other people are around and turn down the music – but for me, that’s just part of how I do it.  There is something about feeling the fresh air in the cemetery and listening loudly to music praising God and exclaiming His truths that makes it part of how I grieve – how I handle visiting the cemetery as much as I do.

 

Today was a perfect day to make that drive.  As I drove in and around and up the hill to Babyland, where our sweet G is buried, I took in the beauty of the day and the anticipation of this visit.  I visit a lot, so it’s not like it’s a big deal for me to go.  But today something seemed a little different.  Because I was short on time I left the car running and just hopped out quickly.  My current very favorite song for our lives was playing and was at the perfect point.  I could hear the music as I felt the incredible presence of the wind around me.  And as I stood with my feet over where my baby’s body is buried, my eyes closed, and my hands out, I sang along to this song.  To this exclamation of truth.  And proclaimed it in our hearts and in our lives.  And as I stood there soaking in this incredible moment, feeling the intense presence of God in the strong gusts of wind, I became very aware that I was standing on holy ground.  This plot that belongs to us.  This patch of dirt.  This marker that marks where our son’s earthly body lay to rest.  All of those things I had known of this place became the background to the very holy ground I was standing on.

 

I was suddenly reminded of the Holiness of our God.  Of His power.  Of His presence.  And how He is God over all – the big and the little.  As big as life and death.  And as little as growing the grass around this grave plot.  I was blessed with a holy encounter with our Father today.  One that commanded reverance.  One that reminded me of His power and His presence.  One that I am thankful the Lord allowed me to be a part of.  And one that brought my mama heart deep comfort in knowing that my baby is intimately known by our Creator, just as I am.

 

this hope is an anchor for my soul

 

The song is Anchor by Hillsong.  And it is unbelievable.

the difference between snow and rain.

Last year was the rainiest year Knoxville has seen since the 1800s.  It rained all the time.  I talked about rain a lot, because it rained for more than a week straight after we found out Gabriel had T18.  It would rain on most of the days I had OB appointments.  Rain was a constant in our lives, and it represented how I felt really well.  2013 was a rainy year both physically and symbolically for us. 

 

Now we sit here in the year 2014.  It is a new year.  We continue to grieve for our sweet G.  We miss him.  I wish he was here – Jack would love having a brother to play with.  There are many moments where I think that Gabriel should be here with us.  But the truth of the matter is that he isn’t.  And while it is impossibly hard, we are not defeated because we have hope.  We are anchored in hope.  We trust that we will one day be reunited with our sweet G.  That we will know him well then.  And we trust that he is presently with our Father – being cradled and loved lavishly – so much more than we could ever do or imagine.  And knowing those things, thinking about those things reminds me of snow. 

 

There is nothing more pure, more new, more fresh than snow.  Watching the snow fall, watching it build and lay is a blessing for us.  To watch it fall from the sky and create beauty that is rarely seen on earth, is a special gift for us here.  Waking up in the morning to a fresh snow fall – one that is undisturbed and entirely peaceful is such a reminder to me that God makes all things new.  So with these recent snowfalls we have had, I am reminded of this about our Father.  And I am even more deeply stirred to think about how He has made our Gabriel new.  He has made him pure as snow.  And one day, He will do the same for us. 

 

It’s only fitting that this winter we have seen much more snow than usual for Knoxville.  While this time last year, all we got was rain, this year we seem to be sitting under snow.  A visual example of where we are in our lives.  In a season of awe appreciating God’s graciousness, His blessing, and His healing and new creation of our son who was so sick on this earth. 

Nikon D3200 714

happy new week.

Today is one of those Mondays where I am happy to see it and ready to start a new week.  After lots of snow last week [which was awesome!] and then a long sick weekend in the Morgan house, we are ready for a new week.  This week looks very promising with a forecast of highs in the fiftys and sixtys.  We are going to get outside!  While I love all of the snow we have had this year, I am now ready for sunshine and warmth. 

We have all three taken a turn with a stomach bug.  I had an upper respiratory infection the week before that.  I didn’t see my doctor about it, assuming it was just a cold, but my rheumatologist was more concerned about it and gave me an antibiotic before I got started on steroids for my autoimmune disorders.  A day into that antibiotic, I was feeling so much better!  It’s amazing how helpful medicine can be when we need it. 

So it’s a new week, the sun is shining this morning, and I am looking forward to all this week holds.  Today is going to be full of cleaning bathrooms, doing laundry, and getting all cleaned up. 

I didn’t get too many great pictures of the snow this time around.  We got over six inches Wednesday night and Thursday, and then had some show snow up Saturday night as well.  About 2 inches there.  It’s been a snowy winter for Knoxville, and I love it! 

 

Nikon D3200 952

 

Hope you have a wonderful new week!