Monthly Archives: July 2013

Chicken Taco Salad

Chicken Taco Salad

Saturday lunch: Chicken Taco Salad.

On most Saturdays, after walking with my sister and the pups, I take Molly back home and fix lunch for my mom and I.  I come up with something from what I find in her fridge – usually some variety of salad.

This week, we were still celebrating Mom’s birthday. Since there were five of us for lunch, I wanted to fix something special.  I saw this recipe on The Pioneer Woman.  I’d also made this dry rub the day before (from Smitten Kitchen) and I had some of the spice mixture left over, so decided to use that on the chicken.

This isn’t really going to be a recipe.  Check out those links if you want more specifics.

Ingredients Chicken Taco Salad

Chicken Taco Salad

lettuce – I used Green Leaf

boneless, skinless chicken breasts (two would have been enough but this package had three)

taco seasoning or dry rub mixture

1 can of beans or corn, rinsed and drained (better yet, use fresh corn, as in the Chicken Taco Salad on The Pioneer Woman site)

A bunch of grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 avocado; peeled, seeded and cubed

red bell pepper, diced

green onion, thinly sliced

grated cheese

cilantro, roughly chopped

tortilla chips


sour cream


BBQ Sauce (I was using homemade, but bottled is just fine)

fresh lime juice (use half a lime for juice, the other half cut into wedges for garnish

Cooking Chicken Breasts

You want to get the chicken cooking.  Pat the pieces dry with paper towel than sprinkle with seasoning.  Spray pan with nonstick spray and cook on medium heat until cooked through (cut into a piece to check for doneness).

Shred the lettuce and put into a large serving bowl then just keep adding the other ingredients.

bowl of lettuce

Building the Salad

Once your chicken is cooked, cut it in strips and then into cubes.

Chicken Breast

Add the chicken to the bowl and toss together.  I like to serve the tortilla chips separately so they don’t get soggy.  I had the cilantro on the side because some people don’t like it. But it can be added to the dressing or tossed in the bowl with all the other ingredients if you prefer.

Taco Salad

For the dressing, combine about a half cup of sour cream, a few spoonfuls of salsa, a splash of barbecue sauce and a squirt or two of lime juice in a jar and shake to combine.  Put in a small serving bowl and let everyone dress their own serving of salad.

Chips can be combined in with the salad (my choice) or eaten on the side.

Serving of Taco Salad

Thank you for your visit.


Filed under Cooking

Celebrating National Cheesecake Day

Cheesecake Factory Pager

Pager goes off in less than five minutes while we look at all the cheesecakes and try and decide which one to get at The Cheesecake Factory.

Cheesecake Abundance

Murals on the walls and ceiling add to the colorful ambiance.


I chose the Classic.

Classic Cheesecake

Rem picked the 30th Anniversary Chocolate Cake Cheesecake: chocolate cake layered with classic cheesecake and chocolate truffle cream.

Chocolate Cake Cheesecake

If you ever eaten at The Cheesecake Factory, you know the portions are very generous.


Leftovers for dessert tomorrow night.

Rem's leftovers


Filed under Life

Canine Closeups

I thought it was tricky getting pictures of hummingbirds last weekend until I tried to get a picture of four dogs today.

But first…

This is Wedge, tightrope walking on the railing of the desk at my mom’s house.  I don’t know if anyone has told him that most dogs don’t walk on deck railings.

Wedge on a Railing

My sisters, one sister-in-law and mom were having lunch. Mom has Molly and we were at their house.  Sarah brought Wedge, the new dog in their family.  Victoria came with 9 month old Patsy, who was playing shy.

Patsy under the table

Kathleen had 14-year-old Ruby along.

Ruby Duby

I brought my camera.

I think Kathleen wondered if we could get all the dogs in one picture and Sarah was the one that decided to try.

Three Dogs

Three dogs, Wedge  looking the other way.  Fail.

Snacks are offered.


Still only three dogs.  No Patsy.  Fail.

Well…there ARE four dogs in the photo.

First of the Four

But with Ruby searching for biscuits and Patsy keeping her distance…Fail.

All the dogs are interested in the snacks my mom is offering, just off camera.  Patsy gets a little closer, but she’s still playing it safe.

Patsy Gets Closer

Come on over, Patsy!

Patsy Keeping Her Distance

Four dogs in motion.

Here’s a nice shot with Wedge and Ruby.

Wedge and Ruby

And one of Wedge who was wonderful on his own.  No distractions, just sit and look handsome


I never really did get one perfect shot of all four dogs together.  But I had fun trying.

Thank you for the visit.


Filed under Life

Hum Baby

Hovering Hummer

My mom has two hummingbird feeders outsider her kitchen window.  Last week, we sat and watched the hummers as they fed and chased each other away from the feeders.

Two feeders, 1 bird

Feeder Flowers, close bird


Close to feeder


The spend a lot of energy chasing each other away, even though, with two feeders, there are 8 spots for feeding.

Red Throat Hover

One feeding, one flying

It is hard to tell which bird is which when they are zipping by, but in the photos it is easier to see some differences in size, color and markings.

Red Throat IMG_0291

Two on Feeders


Eventually two would sip at adjacent feeders, than three hummers must have decided that getting to the food was more important than keeping someone else from getting it.

Three hovering

3, 1 hovering

Three Feeding

I was captivated, watching them as they dive in intricate loops, and listening to them scold each other (and us) and to the whirring sound of their wings as they zip by.

Miss Molly was unimpressed.

Miss Molly

It isn’t a great picture, but I was finally able to get a shot that shows 4 hummingbirds!

Four Hummingbirds!

Two are on the feeder on the left side, one is fluttering at the feeder on the right and the fourth hummer is just showing on the upper right part of the photo.

A tiny feather that my mom found on the deck is most likely from a hummingbird.  Here it is with other feathers in my growing collection:


Feather and Dime

One last look at the hovering hummingbird.

Blur of Wings

Warm wishes to my mom on her birthday.  Happy Birthday, Mom!

Thanks for stopping by.


Filed under Life

One Pot Farro with Tomatoes

Farro and Tomatoes

Something that I like to do on Sunday is fix an easy supper that makes enough to have leftovers for a lunch or two during the week.  Actually, I’m a big fan of getting a second dinner out of leftovers too.  This dish is pretty simple to put together, it is cooked in one pot and includes delicious little tomatoes, one of the joys of summer.  It is from Smitten Kitchen, which in turn was adapted from a version in Martha Stewart using pasta instead of farro.

Bowl of Farro & Tomatoes

It is one of those creations that seem to be greater than the sum of its parts. I picked up grape tomatoes at the Farmer’s Market but this time of year you can find colorful, sweet cherry or grape tomatoes at Trader Joe’s and Safeway too. The Smitten Kitchen recipe calls for ½ of a large onion and I used a whole medium-large one and it cooks down in the finished dish, which was so sweet, mellow, and tomato-y that I am ready to make it again.  Basil and grated Parmesan cheese are the finishing touches.  Without the cheese, you might want to increase the salt a bit.

Farro Ingredients

Farro with Tomatoes

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Serves: 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side (or dinner and a lunch or two)

2 cups water

1 cup semi-pearled farro (sometimes labeled whole farro) or Trader Joe’s 10 minute Farro (I’ve only done it using the 10-minute Farro)

1 onion (I used a yellow onion)

2 cloves garlic

9 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher or coarse sea salt

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

To serve:

Grated Parmesan

Few basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons

Grated Parmesan cheese


Put water and farro in a medium saucepan to presoak while you prepare the other ingredients. Five or ten minutes is enough time.  If you are using the 10-Minute Farro, you can omit the presoaking.

Cut onion in quarters and thinly slice.  Add to the pot

Thinly slice garlic and add to the pot.

Halve or quarter tomatoes and add to the pot.

Add salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil to pot.

Ingredients in Pot

Bring uncovered pot to a boil, and then reduce to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook for 30 minutes.

Farro Simmering

Farro should be tender but with a little chewiness, and the cooking water will be completely or almost completely absorbed. If needed, cook for 5 more minutes.

Closer to Done

You can double the recipe.

In the comments on the Smitten Kitchen site, several people suggested adding some canned white beans near the end of the cooking time, which is a great idea.  I had this with leftover grilled chicken and a green salad.  Delish.  I thought it was also great cold for lunch.

Closer View

As always, thanks for the visit.  Please do comment as it makes me so happy!  If you try the recipe, I’d love to hear about it.


Filed under Cooking


Rem and I recently enjoyed an evening out at Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland.  It was a fun and educational visit.

Commander Rem

I was fascinated by many of the exhibits.  Some were aimed at a younger audience but Rem and I both found them interesting.

I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of living on the International Space Station – their schedules, food, working weightless and more in the exhibit “Beyond Blastoff”.

Dianne Jetson

Another exhibit, “Touch the Sun” has some incredible real time close-up images of the sun.

Chabot has a ‘dinner and a movie’ program that included entrance to the center and all the exhibits, dinner (with candlelight and flowers), the Planetarium show (if you attend the earlier dinner) and entry to a movie, which that night was Men in Black!

When the movie ended, shortly before 9PM, it was just getting dark enough outside for stargazing.

Crescent Moon

We were able to view the moon, stars and planets through one of the three giant telescopes that are part of the center as well as several other smaller telescopes set up by hobbyist, amateur astronomers and students.  The moon was stunning through the lens of the telescope.

Darkening Sky

We also saw Saturn (though I didn’t see much in the way of rings beyond a fuzzy blur of gasses) and a pair of stars, one shining gold and the other blue.

Chabot is not that far from home but we just hadn’t made it over there until now.  If you live in the area, please consider a visit.  Here is a link to other observatories around the country. Take a look and see if there is one close enough for a visit: US Observatories.

For another kind of stargazing, we went to see recently unveiled statues in a new park in my hometown of San Anselmo.

Star Wars Created in San Anselmo

Wise Yoda.


Indiana Jones, from the movie created in San Anselmo in 1974.  However, my mom and I rather like the idea that we have a statue of Harrison Ford in town.

Indiana Jones

Nice View

Me in Imagination Park

It is a sweet little park..

Imagination Park

Thank you for coming by.


Filed under Life

Something New

I’ve added a new tab at the top of the page called “Art Journal Pages”.  It is a work in progress and is a compilation of one (or occasionally two) photos from each of my Art Journal pages.  There is a title, a link to the blog post about that page (or most often, that 2-page spread) and a photo.  Check it out. Thanks, Kathleen, for the suggestion.

In other news, I learned today that the little swallow fledgling didn’t make it.  I called for an update and was told he or she “expired” and though the report didn’t specify, the person on the phone said the injuries just may have been more severe than they realized.  I find some comfort in thinking at least this little bird wasn’t just sprawled on the hard pavement, but being cared for in a safe, warm environment.

I admit to imagining a little swallow angel, finally able to fly. May your spirit rise safely.


Filed under Crafts, Life