Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Passion for Positivity"

I am always amazed at how a positive attitude and a positive mind-set really make a difference.  It is always a choice, but some days are harder than others to make that particular choice to see the best in every one and in every thing.  Putting positive thoughts together with positive gestures creates nothing but positive feelings.  We learned that in algebra, right?  A positive + a positive always = a positive! 

When I have rough and challenging days, after complaining a bit usually, I slap myself metaphorically and remind my brain how much better it feels to think positively.  Need I remind you that this blog consists of my opinions, my passions, and my love for those that are in need of love and assistance.  So please do not mistake my verbage for "preaching", rather it is my heart speaking.

Just this morning on the "Today" show, they aired a segment on women who suffer from infertility, and how statistics show that joining a support group can increase their chance of conception by 50%!  I believe that to be caused by the positive feelings one experiences when they connect with a human being whom has been through a similar process (or can relate to their emotional challenges), along with the feeling of "hope" that undoubtedly surrounds a group such as theirs. 

I feel so fortunate to have not had to experience that type of hardship, and I pray for those that are going through it today or have gone through it in the past.  I pray for them to feel encouraged and inspired daily in a way known to them individually.  I know of so many stories where after the focus was taken off of the intent to "make it happen", it happened naturally.  Not for everyone, of course, but for many.  I again attribute that type of outcome to the positive energy surrounding the release of the stress and worry and hardship.  Not easy to do...but it is possible. 

Thank goodness for support groups such as the one that was televised today, along with the countless others.  Whether it be grief, addiction, medical, emotional, or psychological issues, we all experience hardship at some point in our lives, and to be able to share with those that understand is important and so beneficial.  I pray that those who have had hardship and have gotten through it one way or another, can prove to be a blessing to those that are going through some type of hardship currently.  (Along the lines of the "If you are blessed, then please be a blessing to one who needs it"...thank you, Pastor Kenton!)

So, today's post was meant to focus on the hope that those that need it, no matter what the reason, will find the strength to reach out and connect with one who really understands so that the suffering person can gain strength, optimism and determination!  The belief that not only will they get through this, but it will be better on the other end.  The wisdom of life is gained through experience.

I love this following quote which has gotten me through some tough times before.  I love it because it depicts the strength of the human spirit and its ability to get through anything! 

"When you are going through hell, keep on going!"--Winston Churchill

Here is a "comfort food" recipe that I hope will nourish your soul and "positively" nourish your tummies!

Grilled Chicken-and-Bacon Mac 'n' Cheese (Rachel Ray magazine/recipe)
6 slices smoky-bacon (apple wood-smoked, preferably)
Salt and pepper
1 pound whole wheat short-cut pasta
2 pieces skinless, boneless chicken breast, lightly pounded
EVOO (Extra-Virgin olive oil for drizzling)
1/2 tsp. sweet smoked paprika
4 Tablespoons butter
1 large onion, quartered lengthwise and very thinly sliced
2 rounded Tablespoons flour
1/2 cup cloudy apple cider or chicken stock
2 cups whole milk
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded extra-sharp white cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
Chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Arrange the bacon on a slotted broiler pan or on a rack placed over a baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 15 minutes.  Chop and reserve.  Switch on the broiler and position the rack in the center of the oven.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook 1 minute less than the instructions indicate, or until just shy of al dente.  Drain and return to the pot.

While the pasta is working, heat a grill pan or cast-iron griddle over medium-high heat.  Drizzle the chicken with EVOO to coat lightly, then season evenly with the paprika, salt and pepper.  Grill the chicken for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally.  Transfer to a cutting board and halve the pieces lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise.

While the chicken cooks, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until light golden and very soft, 15-20 minutes.  Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 1 minute.  Whisk in the cider (or stock), then the milk.  Bring to a boil and cook, whisking, until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the thyme and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Stir in the cheeses until melted.

Add the chicken, bacon and sauce to the pasta and transfer to a casserole.  Broil until bubbling and browned, about 5 minutes. Garnish with the parsley.

This was a bit time-consuming for us busy Moms, so maybe this would be best on a weekend, especially after sports!  Carb-up, people!  :)  This received a unanimous thumbs-up, and a "Mom, this is the best thing I've ever had in my life!!!"  review from the Sambito household.  May you all enjoy!

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