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Chicken Little or A Lot

By Gini Raineycookbook_junkie[1]

Whether you’re ready or not, the next six weeks is coming down the tracks faster than a locomotive, and just in case you’ve forgotten (ha!) you have Thanksgiving Day, Hanukkah, and Christmas riding on that train!  While we know what all that entails, and no matter how much we plan and try to get things done in a timely fashion, before we know it we are totally over-whelmed by the long lists of everything we think we have to do!  So, wouldn’t it make sense to do some major simplifying in our lives so we could sit back and enjoy the holidays and our families?  You’d think that by now we would have figured it all out and how to do it, but yet, here it comes again – as regular as clockwork!

There’s this part of me that wants to do everything, have everyone over and enjoy the moment, but to be honest, since I am still working at least 8 to 10 hours a day, the other part of me just wants to find an easier and more efficient way to get things done.  So, planning ahead is really the way to go.  Last year I shared a lot of recipes and ideas that could help make life easier during the holidays.  Hopefully it worked for you, and if it did, let me help you out with a couple more great ideas for this year!

That soup recipe I shared with you last week for Pasta e Fagioli?  If you haven’t made it yet, go ahead and give it a shot and serve it for dinner.  Trust me – you will have a lot left over, so put the leftovers in a container and stow away in your freezer for dinner after one of those long, tiring days of shopping.  It doesn’t take much effort to thaw it out and warm it up on the stove top or recipesin the micro-wave, and it will save a lot of time for you and make you look fancy in front of your family as well!

A cookbook that should be a standard in most homes is “Best Recipes – From the backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans and Jars” by Ceil Dyer.  This nearly 600 page book, published in 1993 by Galahad Books, is crammed full of all of the great recipes that have been featured on, you guessed it, the backs of boxes, bottles, cans and jars of some of the best known food brands around.  With this book you can benefit from the results of the test kitchens of the likes of Hershey, Campbells, Heinz, Uncle Ben’s, Ortega, Tabasco, and many, many more.

While flipping through all of the yummy recipes, I came across one for Wild Rice-Chicken Supreme that carries the legend “This is the recipe that convinced literally a million Americans that Uncle Ben’s© Long Grain and Wild Rice was indeed worth the price.”  While this recipe sounds great, I’m going to share my own version because, well, because I can!  While their recipe calls for the long grain/wild rice blend, I use all wild rice, mostly because I have a dear sister who blesses me annually with a couple pounds of it.

So, I start out with a cup of wild rice, well-rinsed, in a 2 quart saucepan, along with about 3 cups of water and 1 can of chicken stock and bring it to a boil. To that (you want the easy version, right?) add about 1/4 cup onion flakes and a couple of diced celery ribs. Reduce heat to medium and cook until rice is tender.  Don’t believe that stuff about it only takes 20 minutes to cook,  I’ve yet to have that be the case.  Keep an eye on the liquid level and if need be, add more water. Meanwhile, sauté about 8 ounces sliced mushrooms in a tablespoon of butter.  When rice is tender, drain and pour it back into the saucepan, along with the mushrooms.  Add salt and pepper to taste and pour into a 9 x 12 baking dish and place 4 boneless chicken breast halves on top.  Pour one can of cream of mushroom soup into a mixing bowl along with one soup can full of dry white wine and blend together.  Pour over the chicken/rice, cover with foil and bake for an hour in a 325° oven, removing foil for last 10 minutes.  Serve with a green salad and crusty french bread – and oh, wow!  Good stuff.  Helpful Holiday Hint?  Make it ahead and freeze for that busy day!



UT Tyler Seeking Participants for 3rd Year of ‘Born to Read’ Program

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Program promotes early language and literacy in young children

The University of Texas at Tyler announced today that it is seeking participants for the third year of the “Born to Read” literacy program, which promotes early childhood literacy in East Texas.

“The purpose of this program is to encourage children’s early language and literacy skills, while also helping parents understand their critical role as their child’s first and most valuable teacher,” said Dr. Kouider Mokhtari, UT Tyler Anderson-Vukelja-Wright Endowed Professor of Literacy Education.

“We provide parents with training and an initial tool kit of books and resources that   help and encourage them to raise children as readers,” said Dr. M. Sathyamoorthy, UT Tyler professor of mechanical engineering, who has coordinated support for the program from the Tyler Sunrise Rotary Club.

The Born to Read program is designed for expectant mothers, parents and legal guardians of children up to 3 years old. The program is free to the first 25 participants who register by Monday, Sept. 30. Participants will be involved in the program through June 30, 2020.

To register or for more information, contact Azalia Perez, or 903.566.7016.

Other program sponsors include Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and UT Tyler K-16 Literacy Center.

A member of the prestigious UT System, The University of Texas at Tyler focuses on student success and innovative research in the more than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs offered. With more than 10,000 students, UT Tyler has facilities in Tyler, Longview, Palestine and Houston.


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Book Lovers Events: Hot Summer Signings & More

From book signings to Meet & Greet’s, Tyler  offers every Book Lover a lot of fun things to do. Check out these events:

For more events, check out ‘s entire

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Reading the Kids Back to School

By Gini Rainey

“Mischief and Mayhem: Part I of the Faerlands Chronicles”

by S. D. Nicholson

I think you know me by now to know that magical kingdoms and fantasy are not the usual genre of reading that I reach for.  So, when I was approached by the author’s publicist to read and review this book, I wasn’t even aware it fell into this area.  With that being said, I must admit that I have thoroughly enjoyed and been intrigued by the characters and tiny world that Mr. Nicholson has created in his first book.  Without a doubt, the main character, the tiny fae Ophelia, is every bit a heroine as are her six-foot tall counterparts.

I have no doubt in my mind that while the faes and faers of Nicholson’s book are In a struggle to preserve and maintain peace in their homeland, it is also analogous to the struggles we humans face on a daily basis while trying to attain a peaceful coexistence with the other inhabitants of this big blue marble.

The not so terribly hidden messages in Nicholson’s book came through loud and clear to me:  that if we spend quiet time by ourselves, we will be able to find and explore fully what our capabilities are, and additionally, fight for what we hold near and dear.  This is an outstanding read.  Not only will it capture your imagination, but it will also have you start thinking about what undeveloped talents and truths you might not have discovered about yourself.

I read the teaser at the end of the book and am anxious to read Part 2 of the Faerlands Chronicles!

5 of 5 – Copyright 2019 – Köhler Books

“Big Little Lies”

by Liane Moriarty

This book from which the HBO series starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman was adapted, is a pretty slow starter.  Working backwards from an event, the first third of this book was busy building strong characters, exposing bullies (adult-sized and pint-sized), failed and new relationships, and various points of view about the culmination of events.  As usual, Ms. Moriarty isn’t afraid to cooly broach hot topics: blended families, sexual assault, violence against women and children, all carefully tempered with unexpected humor and human emotions.

Set in a rather cliquish, upper-end Australian beach community, the human interests begin to develop by retrospect following a murder at the exclusive private school.  Liane develops some pretty interesting characters using her very successful skills and creating some of the most flawed people this side of Sidney.

Definitely worth the read for anyone with school-aged children as it brings together three moms whose only commonality is their kindergarten-aged children. While pointing out each of the character’s flaws, Moriarty gently has a couple of fingers pointing at the helicopter-parenting skills of modern-day moms that perhaps are creating our current crop of young adults who are clueless.

Without a doubt, this is yet another in a long stream of controversial topics that Liane Moriarty isn’t afraid of writing about and the plot twist at the end will keep you reading till the final page.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2014 – Berkley

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