Happiness Project#81: Broccoli Salad with a side of Chemo!

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3 weeks ago I went in for my 7th surgery. To remove another tumor. But things didn’t quite go as planned or expected. Instead of leaving the operating room with one less adrenal gland, I ended up leaving without a full kidney as well. Though I wasn’t told WHY I had unexpectedly lost a kidney (throughout a grueling 10 hour surgery), until my 2nd recovery day in the hospital. To put it as simply as possibly, though not lightly at all, my 3 doctors took out my left kidney in response to a rapidly growing tumor that had gone from eating up my adrenal gland as well as encasing my entire kidney within the 3 months that I had been undergoing pre-surgical testing. 3 months. Needless to say, when the oncologist came over to my recovery bed, on that 2nd day within my 6 day hospital stay, and revealed to me the “news,” my heart froze, and my verbal response was nothing short of absolute silence. The 5th day, before the day of my release, the same doctor (now my official oncologist), visited me again to reveal that the preliminary testings from that unexpected tumor had come back as active (malignant) cancer. Yes, cancer. Stage 3 Ovarian cancer.

So with this shocking, unexpected diagnosis, my life has been turned completely (& brutally) shaken up, and turned upside down. Because after 11 years of benign tumors, severe endometriosis, depression, a panic disorder, menopause and more visits to the ER than a person could ever imagine, cancer was never something that I believed could ever happen. Not when I was still struggling with so much. Yet it’s happened. And nearly 3 weeks later, after hearing of my diagnosis, I’m still angry, and overwhelmed, and very scared.

Since meeting up with my regular MD, my surgeon, as well as the specialist who completed my first massive ovarian/tumor removal surgery nearly 11 years ago, within the past two weeks since being released from the hospital, I currently know just enough about my cancer to have a very general idea of the “plan.” Which means chemotherapy for the next 5 to 6 months. Though NO radiation. Which seems like a pretty significant blessing, in my book right now. This Wednesday though, will be the BIG day, when I meet up with my oncologist for the 1st time, to figure all of this out.

Until then, when I start my half year regiment of chemotherapy, until my body figures out what I can and cannot take, until I have a better idea of what I’m up against during this new battle of mine, I’ll scream, and cry, and rail against this Universe. A Universe that continues to push me beyond what I thought I was ever strong enough for. Because I’m beyond scared right now. In more ways than I can ever explain.

So for now, I wanted to leave you with the yummiest broccoli apple salad (or as I affectionately name as broccoli candy salad), that I have ever feasted upon. Feasted upon like I could eat this ENTIRE recipe all on my own. For real. Ready for your own?

3 cups uncooked broccoli florets, minced

1 cup shredded or finely diced pealed carrots

1 cup green grapes, rinsed

2-1/2 cups diced Gala apples (my personal favorite apple)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

pinch of fine sea salt

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup low fat Greek vanilla yogurt

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

*1 cup dried cranberries, optional

You’ll need two medium sized mixing bowls for this salad.

In the first mixing bowl, combine the broccoli, carrots, grapes, and apples.

In the 2nd mixing bowl, mix together the sugar, salt, mayonnaise, yogurt and lemon juice, until nice and creamy.

Drizzle the dressing onto the dry broccoli salad, and with either your fingers (who’s ready to get messy?) or a big wooden spoon, toss everything together until fully coated. Throw in some dried cranberries if you want an added pop of sweetness! Pop that pretty salad into the fridge to chill before serving!

And believe me when I say that this is one of those salads that you will never tire of. I could eat this every other day if I wanted. Because this is MY idea of candy salad! Try it. You’ll totally get it once you do!

In conclusion, I might not be blogging as many family recipes while undergoing the next 6 months of chemotherapy. It mostly depends on how well I handle everything. I will however, be blogging here, all about this unexpected new battle of mine. Because I know that I can’t fight this battle alone. Without those who love, encourage and hold me up. Those who are my army.

Until next time, all my love to you! xoxo

 

 

 

 

Happiness Project #41: Chicken & Broccoli Shells!

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Apparently, I’m on a roll with my Dinner Dishes. Partly in response to the attention of my newest kitchen helper (and by helper, I mean my unintentional food taster), Chloe Girl. No, not my Daughter (who is my official baking assistant) but rather my 3 year old Dog, who, in more ways than one, is my unofficial 2nd Toddler. Since no matter where I am, so is my Chloe Girl. Even if that means that I have two little girls snuggled up on my lap most of the day. Ever seen a 20lb Toddler and a 20lb Beagle/Terrier try to snuggle up on one person’s lap? It’s adorable but not always an easy feat. But that’s Family life, my friends! Something I would never change.

Anyhow, here’s the story on the Dinner Dish, which I saw on Pinterest and altered slightly (more so for my benefit than anyone else’s). Since my husband REALLY likes chicken (you should see how many bags of chicken we have stored away in our freezer) and I like broccoli, I loved the idea of this very quick and simple skillet meal! Even with a pinch of chili powder, though my fondness for spices is usually rather lacking. Ready for a taste?

1 cup uncooked pasta shells

3 cups broccoli florets

3 chicken breast halves, diced into small squares

1 cup whole milk

1 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

pinch chili powder

1-1/3 cup shredded mozzarella & cheddar cheese

Firstly, cook the pasta according to it’s package instructions. Add the broccoli florets to the pasta during the last 3 to 4 minutes of cooking. Drain and set aside.

Once your chicken halves are fully thawed, heat the olive oil in a large skillet, over medium-high heat. Add the diced chicken squares to the skillet and cook for 8-10 minutes, until fully cooked through.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, chicken broth, flour and pinch of chili powder, until well combined.

Stir the milk mixture into the skillet with the chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes so that the sauce begins to thicken slightly.

Add in the pasta mixture and then the two cheeses, stirring the cheese until melted and well combined with the pasta and chicken. Continue to cook for a few minutes, letting the sauce at the bottom of the skillet bubble slightly.

Remove from the stove and let cool for a bit before serving.

Simple! Yummy! And very filling! Three Cheers for Dinner! And Dogs, too!

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