January is a cold and dark month with short days. The holidays are over, not much is going on, and time seems to have slowed down. The “January Blues” is the feelings of sadness and depression that make the month hard. The lack of excitement the holidays bring and the return to the daily routine can make the peppiest person feel unenthused about the coming year. January is said to be the least productive month. Some tips to overcome the blues is to know that it is normal to feel this way. Lack of sunlight plays a big part in the mood. Get as much daylight as possible, sit in a window or wrapped up on the porch. My dad would sit in the car on the driveway to get sunlight in the winter. Don’t make New Year resolutions. This can lead to feelings of failure should you slow down or quit. Make plans for the summer or a goal you can look forward to and really want to accomplish. Stay as active as you can though. Take the stairs, walk around a store before shopping, or just going outside for a walk in the yard can help your mood. Get enough sleep. Winter is the cold and flu season so getting enough sleep can keep you healthy. Try something new. A new hobby or start a new TV drama or puzzle; read for fun, not your job. Eat properly. Making meals is hard when your mood is poor. Make something easy and that you enjoy but still healthy. Extra sugar is tempting but it will just make you more tired and grumpy.
This week’s recipe is one I make when I need a good dinner after a long day at work. I know it reheats well, so I am not tempted to get fast food when I know it’s in the refrigerator at home. I got this recipe from a neighbor, (funny how most good recipes are found this way) when I was 13 years old. My mom was working part-time, my dad was always working, and it was my job to cook dinner. I did not mind, I felt important and got to boss my little brother around. This elderly neighbor, Martha Lou, kept an eye on us and was available when Mom was not home. I have made this so much I have memorized it. When I found the recipe in my box, it surprised me that the recipe card was so vague.
Martha Lou’s chicken and rice bake
3-4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
1 cup uncooked white rice
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 envelope of dry onion soup mix
Preheat oven to 350⁰F. Grease a 9×13 pan with butter or nonstick spray. Spread dry rice evenly in pan. Lay on chicken. Mix can of soup and 1 can of water together and pour over chicken and rice. Sprinkle dry soup mix over everything. Cover with foil and cook for 1 hour. Uncover and cook ½ more.
I use boneless and skinless chicken breasts, tenders, or chicken thighs. I have left the breasts whole or cut them up in pieces. I used pork chops once and it turned out well. Basically, whatever you prefer. Make sure you get all the rice wet. Lift the chicken so the soup gets under it if needed. I have made this in my casserole crockpot, cooking on high for 3-4 hours, low 6-8 hours. Check the chicken for doneness. Try cream of chicken or cream of celery soup instead of mushroom soup. I have used Minute rice in a pinch, but it can get mushy if overcooked.