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


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 #64: Santa Fe Mock Up Salad!

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Since I’ve now been enduring recovery for just shy of two weeks & everything physical is rather difficult, I’ve been desperately trying to find a way to feed my family, without relying on take out or assistance from family or friends every night. And wow, my friends, this recovery is not at all how I imagined it to be. When you’re not able to bend over (at all), or move remotely faster than at a snails pace or do anything but roll slowly out of bed like a small whale, if there’s anything I’ve learned thus far in these 15 days, it’s that back surgery is not for the faint of spirit. It’s not easy Or fun. Even though I’m supposed to be “relaxing” every day to heal. Which I’m sure to you sounds like a very welcome vacation of sorts. Relaxing, however, is just not me. I’d much rather be doing. Particularly since I’m relying on family to take care of my daughter every day while my husband’s at work. Sucks. Not being with my daughter. No car rides, or target trips or playground playdates for me. Just books, tv and blogging. Which, after two weeks of being utterly & throughly immersed in, has become sadly a tad boring to me. There’s only SO much good tv out there.

Which segways into this new salad recipe. The Santa Fe Mock Up Salad! Since I’ve only just recently started loving salad recipes, I’ve been determined to try out as many different flavored salads as my appetite can possibly handle. And I am overjoyed to admit that I have found another sald that I love JUST as much as my go-to Strawberry Fields Summer Salad! Except in this one, instead of mass amount of fruits, vegetables take the center stage. With juicy bits of chicken. Naturally. Ready for another fantastic summer salad? Here ya go…

1 8oz bag mixed greens

1 cup cooked and lightly seasoned cubed chicken pieces (approximately 1 full chicken breast)

3/4 can drained white corn

3/4 can drained black beans

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1-1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1 cup crushed tortilla strips chips

Firstly, prepare the chicken correctly by cooking the whole breast in boiling, lightly salted water. Once the chicken breast is throughly cooked, shred with your fingers or cut up with a small serrated knife, into small bite size pieces. Set aside.

Drain both cans of the corn and black beans and mix them together in a small pan, on the stovetop, on low heat. Dap a tiny bit of salted butter onto the corn & beans, mixing for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the stovetop and set aside.

Now, the fun part. In a large salad bowl, throw in those fresh mixed greens. Followed with the corn and beans, mixing as you incorporate. Toss in those beautiful cherry tomatoes and top the salad with the cheddar cheese and tortilla chips. Toss, if desired.

Drizzle lightly with your favorite spicy peanut sauce dressing! Or a little bit of chunky salsa. Either one gives you that lovely desired pop of flavor.

And serve!

Hope you’re all having a beautiful, yummy summer!

Happiness Project Recipe #61: Strawberry Field Summer Salad!


Alright, my friends! When my Mom took my Daughter & I to Wendys after one of my specialist appointments last week, and I tried their new strawberry chicken salad, I fell head over heels for their salad menu! Which, for me, is kinda a big deal. Salads are personal to me. They need to be just right for me to truly enjoy them. Particularly if I want to go back for seconds (or thirds). Call me Goldilocks from the classic fairytale, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, where I need to try everything available first before I decide on what I like most. Snobbish, perhaps? Yes. And I’m not ashamed to admit it. Being a little picky with my sense of taste in regards to creating good food? Makes sense to me.

Anyhow, back to this salad! I decided to re-create Wendys strawberry chicken salad, with a couple of tweaks. Wendys salad has onions (which I detest, like you wouldn’t believe) and bits of cubed chicken (which I can only take for so long). Both of which I omitted for my own personal “snobbery.” Which you can very easy add in, if those two additions sound appeasing to you. It’s your salad, right? Right. So with a little bit of tang, a whole lot of sweetness and the perfect blend of crunch, you might fall in love with this salad as much as I have. Since I had 3 large bowls of this last week. Proud of me, sister?

10 ounces of mixed spring lettuce and baby spinach, washed and lightly patted dry.

1-1/2 cups washed, sliced fresh strawberries

1-1/2 cups seedless red grapes

3 to 4 tablespoons of toasted sunflower seeds

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

*1 cup cooked and cubed fresh chicken, optional

1-2 cups Apple Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

Salads are easy. That’s what I’ve come to love about them. So this one is no exception.

Once you’ve washed and sliced (or diced) up the strawberries, set them aside while you wash and pat the two types of lettuce dry. Throw those leafy greens into a large serving bowl. Add in the strawberries, grapes, lovely toasted sunflower seeds and blue cheese. Mix together briefly. And now pour in up to 2 cups of the apple vinaigrette dressing.

Toss together the entire mixture, with your salad utensils, or by hand, until everything is nicely mixed and coated.

And serve. Just like that. So simple, it’s kinda mind boggling to me. Which is just one of many reasons why I have finally (FINALLY) become a salad lover. About time.

What’s your favorite summer salad? I would love to know!

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