Author Archives: bethlivingsimply

About bethlivingsimply

Single Mom in my earlier days, learned to live simply and frugally out of necessity. Now an empty-nester with daughter in her early 20's. I'm also a newly wed in my mid 40's. My husband and I don't need to live frugally but I won't change my habits because it's just not in me to be wasteful.

The alternate dimension my son calls reality


The alternate dimension my son calls reality.

This blog is great! My 18 year old daughter lives in a different reality than the average person, and it’s driven my crazy since I started noticing this at around age 2 or 3. Even now, nothing is ever her fault. That whole action & consequence thing is lost on her.


Chicken Vegetable Bake


Several years ago when I subscribed to for losing weight, I gathered ideas from other recipes, and came up with my Chicken Vegetable Bake. I don’t add any sides to it, because it’s filling enough all by itself. The liquids from the ingredients blend to create an aromatic, flavorful broth, so this dish is best served in bowls. My recipe makes two large portions, but if you were serving a crusty bread and a side (like creamy risotto) with it, you could feed three instead. This has more veggies than chicken in ratio, but you certainly won’t notice. YUM! If you split this recipe into two large portions, the calories are only 210, about 25g protein, and less than 2g fat. *I don’t have a photo of my dish, but here’s a photo by that has similar ingredients.

photo of similar dish by



1 large boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 large onion, sliced into bite-sized chunks
2 large tomatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
2 medium zucchini, cut into bite-sized chunks
2 tsp. minced garlic (I use jarred, and use more like 3 or 4 tsp.)
2 Tbs. freshly chopped rosemary (or 2 tsp. dried)
1/4 cup or so of Balsamic vinegar
2 bay leaves
Salt & Pepper to taste

*Use a baking dish that’s small enough so the ingredients crowded in, but not overflowing. Too big, and it may turn out drier. I use a large square casserole dish, maybe about 3 quarts in size.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all ingredients in baking dish, mix well. The Balsamic vinegar is not an exact measurement. Drizzle until you feel you’ve used enough, and don’t be afraid of it. Balsamic is great!

Bake covered for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 or 15 minutes or so to prevent sticking. Remove bay leaves, and serve.

(Post note: I first posted this on my work blog, but need to transfer my recipes to my personal blog. This recipe can also been seen at, and possibly on my Blogspot blog at, as I’m trying to see which blogging format I like best.)

Ham & Rice Casserole


I love me some casserole. I mean, really, what’s not to love? There’s usually little prep work involved. That’s a big selling point for me. I came across an old Campbell’s recipe hat I’ve added a couple ingredients to. This is a perfect dish to make with leftover holiday ham! *note: I’ll try to get a photo of this to post soon.


3/4 c. long grain white rice
1/2 c. chopped onion (I finely chop it for my picky eater)
2 Tbs. vegetable or canola oil
2 c. cubed ham
1 can green beans, un-drained
1 (10 1/2 oz.) can Campbell’s Beef Broth
1 c. shredded Swiss cheese
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Add rice, onion & black pepper to hot oil, and saute until rice is lightly browned and onion is soft; stir frequently.

Add ham, un-drained green beans and broth; heat to boiling. Pour into warmed 2-qt. casserole dish.

Cover and bake for 30 minutes. At the 30 minute mark, stir mixture, and sprinkle the shredded cheese on top. Continue baking uncovered another 20 minutes, or until rice is softened completely.

Makes 4 portions. Serve with a garden salad.



You’ve just been seated at an American fare-type restaurant. Menu in hand, you’re trying to decide what sounds good… then a server walks by with a fajita platter. The sound of the juices sizzling on the hot cast iron platter, plus the aroma of marinated chicken, onions and peppers wafting all around you, make your meal decision a quick one. “I’ll have the chicken fajitas, please!”


*recipe adapted from the

photo credit:


3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 bell peppers, any color
2 sm. onions
2 tsp. minced garlic
Salt & pepper to taste
1 Tbs. water
1 tsp. chili powder
2 Tbs. lime juice
2 Tbs. freshly minced cilantro
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
   (or regular brown sugar of course)

Soft taco sized tortillas


  • Slice peppers and onions into thin wedges, set aside.
  • Slice chicken into thin strips (about 3-in. long).
  • Heat skillet with 1 Tbs. olive oil; add in garlic and saute for a minute.
  • Add in chicken, sprinkle on salt & pepper to taste, and cook on medium heat until no longer pink.
  • While chicken is cooking, mix together the marinade. In a large bowl, mix 1 Tbs. olive oil, chili powder, lime juice, cilantro, Worcestershire sauce, and Splenda.
  • Add cooked chicken to marinade, mix well, and set aside.
  • Add peppers & onions to same skillet, and cook until peppers & onions turn soft enough to your liking. Remove from heat and add chicken into skillet to mix all together.

Serve in tortillas with your favorite taco toppings (i.e. shredded lettuce, diced tomato, shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole and salsa).

(Post note: I first posted this on my work blog, but need to transfer my recipes to my personal blog. This recipe can also been seen at, and possibly on my Blogspot blog at, as I’m trying to see which blogging format I like best.)

Baked Chicken Penne with Alfredo-Marinara Sauce


There is just something about pasta. It’s versatile, delicious both hot and cold. It’s also a comfort food for many, including me! I recently returned from a week’s vacation in Washington/Idaho, for my oldest nephew Marco’s wedding (Steph, welcome to the Nuthouse!). A bunch of the cousins decided to head to dinner together the night before, and we walked to Cyrus O’Leary’s from the hotel. When the Goulds & Strecks come together, much fun is to be had!

I decided on O’Leary’s Baked Chicken Mostaccioli, and WOW, that was a good choice. Tender roasted chicken breasts sautéed in homemade alfredo & marinara sauces, tossed with mostaccioli, then topped with mozzarella & parmesan and baked until golden brown. I decided on a 2-to-1 marinara-alfredo ratio. When you make them equal, the sauce is pink (also called a pink sauce). Here’s my version of that yumminess, substituting Ronzi Garden Delight Penne Rigate for mostaccioli. I always have Garden Delight on hand. It tastes great, and has one serving of vegetables in each serving portion. Those parents with picky eaters might relate to my sneaking veggies into meals however I can! I portion this into 6 large servings, and each has 2 1/2 servings of vegetables. *The photo shows a serving of green beans off to the right, a common accompaniment to our pasta meals. Green beans are one of the three veggies that said 18 year old picky eater (daughter) will eat!

Baked Chicken Penne with Alfredo-Marinara Sauce

Servings: 6-8 (depending on portion sizes)
Total time: 40 minutes


1 (12-oz) box Ronzoni Garden Delight Penne Rigate
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved & sliced into chunks or strips
1/4 cup diced onion
3 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbs EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded parmesan (NOT that powder junk)
2 cups prepared marinara sauce
1 cup prepared alfredo sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried basil (or 1 tbs freshly chopped)
1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 tbs freshly chopped)
1 tsp dried rosemary (or 1 tbs freshly chopped)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and bring water to boil for pasta.

At the same time, add pasta to water to cook and get chicken started. Drain pasta when done, return to pot and set aside.

To a heated skillet with EVOO, add onion, garlic and chicken. Sautee on a med/med-high setting until chicken is no longer pink. Sprinkle on the pepper & herbs while cooking. Drain and add to the pot with pasta.

Mix in the marinara and alfredo sauces. Transfer to a 3-qt baking dish, and top with parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

Nutritional Information (each serving, portioning the dish into 6 servings):
480 calories; 35g protein; 6g fiber; 7g saturated fat

Okay, so the calorie & saturated fat contents are high, but when you want comfort food, who cares? At least that’s what I tell myself when I step on the scale. : )

(Post note: I first posted this on my work blog, but need to transfer my recipes to my personal blog. This recipe can also been seen at, and possibly on my Blogspot blog at, as I’m trying to see which blogging format I like best.)

Roasted Balsamic Strawberry Bruschetta


I ran across this recipe on a blog several months past. The blogger got it from the original source on the Reluctant Entertainer. I made it for a family reunion over Memorial weekend, and it was SO FABULOUS! The following is Sandy’s recipe and photo.

Roasted Balsamic Strawberry Bruschetta

photo & recipe courtesy of Reluctant Entertainer

2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 loaf ciabatta bread (I bought mine at Costco)
1-2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup soft goat cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
salt and white pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Slice the strawberries into a bowl and gently mix with the balsamic vinegar. Spread strawberries out on a baking sheet and bake for five minutes. Remove and let cool.

Cut the ciabatta into equal slices, coat with olive oil, and broil on each side until toasted and crisp.

Spread goat cheese on hot bread, top equally with the roasted berries and juice.

Head out to the herb garden and pick fresh basil; chop finely. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with basil.

A frightful time to be had at The Scareatorium!


My daughter is a paid costume actor at The Scareatorium in Dublin, Ohio. They are a class-act venue, with very talented makeup artists and actors. I volunteered on night, and worked as a zombie along side my daughter. Apparently I’m ‘a natural’ at being a zombie, and was quite scary & believable! LOL, me a quiet 40 year old single mom who has no social life. Becca’s zombie character is great. She will start out underneath a funeral carriage, and when she sees guests coming, she starts crawling out and jerkily (is that a word?) standing up and coming toward them snarling and growling. It’s quite a site, let me tell you!

I don’t know if I’m supposed to actually say this, but her face prosthetic? It was cut from a sheet used in the making of Dawn of the Dead. Pretty cool, huh?

I'ma come getcha

Omm nomm nomm nomm

Her 'wound' glistened with 'blood & gore'.

Can you see the black teeth? She also had a black tongue!