Yumm-O: Chicken & Rice Soup

It’s soup season.  I can’t help myself.  Something about the chill in the air and the smell of fall makes me crave warm and yummy soup!!  It’s a great filling meal that is healthy and totally satisfying!  And it meets my MOST important requirement which is easy to make!!  We are no strangers here at HSE to soup recipes…Check out Spicy Chicken Chili, Roasted Red Pepper & Corn Soup, Smokey Southwestern Soup, Cheesy Cauliflower Soup, and Monroe’s Semi-Sissy Chili.  Today’s soup recipe was inspired from a pre-made organic soup i picked up at the grocery store the other day.  It was so yummy and it just hit the spot!!  I knew i needed to figure out how to make my own version so we could have it all the time!!

Chicken & Rice Soup

chicken and rice soup

(image source)

Chicken & Rice Soup


  • 2 chicken breasts, shredded
  • 2 cups uncooked basmati rice (or your favorite type of rice)
  • chicken or veggie broth
  • water
  • butter
  • paprika
  • garlic
  • cardamon
  • dehydrated red onion (can use fresh red or white onion if you’ve got them!)
  • kale
  • corn
  • salt
  • pepper


  • Prepare the chicken and shred.
    • For me the easiest way to cook chicken for shredding is in the crockpot.  For this recipe I used 8 oz of organic chicken broth, garlic powder, dehydrated red onion, paprika & a dash of cardamon.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 2 hours.  Chicken can easily shed with a fork!!
  • In a large stock pot, prepare rice.  Follow directions on the packaging but add a little more liquid then you normally would and include about a tbsp of butter.
  • Once most of the liquid has been absorbed, stir in corn and kale.  Also add carrots or any other veggies you have on hand.  I usually use frozen because its what i have on hand!!
  • Add shredded chicken and another 8 oz container of chicken broth.Stir and simmer
  • Continue to add water or additional broth until it is to your desired consistency.
  • Continue to simmer and stir in 1 tbsp of butter.
  • Taste often!!  Add additional seasoning (garlic, paprika & cardamon) and salt & pepper to taste.  There is so much flavor already in the chicken and broth that it really does not need to simmer for long!  Use your taste buds to decide but last time i made this I simmered for about 15-20 minutes!
  • Great on its own…or add greek yogurt, shredded cheese and crackers.

Yummo!!  The leftovers are also fantastic.  Do be advised that the rice does soak up a lot of the liquid so when you go in for round two, either add some additional broth or even eat it as more of a rice casserole!

~ Jillian


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Yumm-O: Semi-Sissy Chili

It’s November.  Let me say that one more time…just in case you weren’t listening.  IT’S NOVEMBER!!!  How in the world did that happen so quickly?  The temperature is starting to drop here in Georgia (slowly but surely) and with that comes an absolute need to have warm, yummy comfort foods!  Foods that fill you up and make you feel nice and warm inside!!  This is a family classic that has made the rounds!!  Its hearty and delicious but easy to make and not too heavy on the waist line!  Not quite sure where the name came from…but its awesome and makes it taste even better…just cuz!!  Please enjoy…

Monroe’s Semi-Sissy Chili


Monroe’s Semi-Sissy Chili


  • 2 lbs Ground Turkey
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans (or 2 if you are a bean lover!)
  • 1 large onion (or dehydrated red onion is lovely too!!)
  • 2 large garlic pads (or handful of garlic powder)
  • 3 tbsp chili powder (or 4 red chili peppers)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp crushed camino seeds (can omit if you can’t find them!)
  • 1 tsp cayan pepper
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp dry salt (this is our favorite brand of super good for you celtic salt)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp vinegar (we LOVE apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp tabasco
  • 1 dash worcestershire
  • 2 tbsp masaharina flour
  • 15oz tomato sauce


  • Cook ground turkey in a LARGE pot (this is a one pot wonder kids!!)
  • Once turkey is fully cooked, make a hole in the center of the pot and melt butter
  • Add onion and garlic to brown in butter and then stir in with meat
  • Add enough water to stop the meat from burning or sticking to the bottom
  • Add chili powder, oregano, camino, cayenne, mustard, salt, vinegar, tabasco & worcestershire
  • Boil & then reduce to simmer for a few minutes
  • Add masaharina & paprika
  • Cook 30 minutes; taste often!! (Add Cayenne, Mustard & Chili for heat; Honey, vinegar & masaharina if too much heat)
  • Add Tomato Sauce and cook an additional 15 minutes
  • Great additions: Greek yogurt, avocado, cheese and cilantro

Easy to make, yummy and filling!  Double or triple the recipe for lots of leftovers (freezes great too!) and ENJOY!

~ Jillian

Monday Mantra: perfect

Happy Monday to you!  I hope you had a good weekend and enjoyed some lovely weather…here in Georgia it was BEAutiful!!  We had a weekend of ups and downs…changed plans and wrenches in our original list of things to do.  BUT in the end it turned out to be lovely just the same.  Just goes to show that when life throws you a curve ball, rolling with it can lead you to an even better outcome.  Here’s hoping you can take that with you thru this week, and remember that even if things aren’t as you have planned, there is still always room to find the good.  Find the Joy in the every day and you will discover why you are moving down the path you are on.

“It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful”


Choose Joy
~ Jillian

Monday Mantra: Love

Good Morning!  I hope you had a lovely weekend.  We spent some of our time catching up with great friends (who also happen to be neighbors…lucky us!)  What I love about getting together with friends is learning about the things in life that make us different!  From our backgrounds and family history to beliefs and spiritual practices.  It is so interesting to find out more about the people you love spending time with!!  What I realized this weekend is that no matter where you come from or what religion you are or what your main focus in life is, there seems to be one common thread that pulls us all together…LOVE!!  And as long as we do all things with that intention behind us, life will be good!!

“Love is the common thread”


Do all things with Love
~ Jillian

Monday Mantra: gratitude

Life has been so busy lately it has been hard to keep up! (i’m sure i am not the only one that feels that way!!)  It feels like Monday’s are coming around faster then ever!  But in the busiest times of life it seems even more important to pause and be thankful for the blessings in our lives.  With a busy life undoubtably comes rushing around and not feeling like you have the time to stop and breath.  The feeling of never quite being caught up with your to do list.

So this week we should pause, as often as possible to take a nice deep breath and count the blessings in our lives.  Take stock of all the wonderful things that make it possible for you to keep on trucking!  As we head into the busiest time of the year (can anyone else believe that thanksgiving is right around the corner??) which makes it even more important to stop and smell the roses!!

“gratitude changes everything”


Happy Monday
~ Jillian

Spaghetti Squash “Pasta” with Olive Oil, Garlic and Red Chili Pepper

Now that we are officially in the fall season, I thought I’d share a quick and healthy recipe using spaghetti squash.  Although it can now be found in grocery stores year-round, spaghetti squash is typically harvested in early fall.   Spaghetti squash is a nutrient packed, providing a good source of folic acid, fiber, potassium, Vitamin A and beta carotene.  Spaghetti squash is also low in carbohydrates and calories, with only 7 grams of carbs and 42 calories in a 1-cup serving.


Spaghetti Squash “Pasta” with Olive Oil, Garlic & Red Chili Pepper

Serves: 2
Prep Time: 10 minutes, Cook Time: 1 hr, 10 min.

1 medium-sized (approx 3 lb) spaghetti squash
1/4 cup good quality (plus a little extra for baking squash), first press olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (adjust if you do not like it too spicy)
1/2 pound (medium or large) peeled raw shrimp (tails removed), optional
1 cup broccoli florets
Salt & pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese (grated), optional

Wash and cut your spaghetti squash in half, length-wise.  Scoop out and discard the seeds.  Brush the squash generously with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.  Place squash in a baking dish with the cut side facing down.  Place in a 375-degree oven for approximately 45 minutes, or until done.  To test, pierce the exterior with a fork – if it easily punctures the skin, it is done.

Once the squash is done, remove from oven and allow to cool while you start prepping the rest of your ingredients.

Begin cooking the broccoli florets.  I prefer to roast the broccoli in the oven, but steamed broccoli is fine too.

While the broccoli is cooking, saute the shrimp with a little olive oil or butter.  Set aside.

Once cooled, you will need to remove the squash from its shell.  Simply rake a fork across the inside of the squash to remove the flesh in stringy pieces, resembling spaghetti noodles.

Add the olive oil to the heated pan used for the shrimp.  Heat the oil over medium heat, adding the garlic and red pepper flakes once the oil is hot.  Stir constantly for just a couple of minutes.  You do not want to brown or burn the garlic.  Remove the pan from heat.  To the olive oil mixture, add the spaghetti squash strands, broccoli and shrimp, and toss to coat.  Salt and pepper, to taste.

For an added punch of flavor, add fresh grated parmesan once plated.

This is a great one to keep in your weeknight arsenal of recipes.  You can easily cook the squash ahead of time and have dinner ready with only 20 minutes of hands-on time.   Simply reheat the pasta with a little water in a covered saute pan or in the microwave prior to tossing with the olive oil mixture.

If you do not like spicy, consider substituting pesto or marinara for the garlic and red pepper mixture.  The spaghetti squash is as versatile as regular pasta – be creative!


Monday Mantra: Opportunity

Happy Monday to ya!  I hope you had a wonderful weekend doing WHATEVER you wanted to!!  We spent time working on house things…catching up with friends and relaxing!!  I am so excited that fall is in the air.  It’s such a wonderful time of year with beautiful weather, yummy flavors and LOTs of beautiful things around us.  Stay tuned to HSE this fall for lots of Fall inspiration!

“A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity;
an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”


Happy Monday – ENJOY your day!
~ Jillian

Monday Mantra: habit

Happy Monday!  I hope you had a great weekend and are refreshed for the week ahead!  I must admit that I had a little bummer of a weekend and spent it…sick…on my couch.  Feeling better and slowly but surely getting back into full steam!!  This was definitely my body’s way of telling me I need to slow down and take some time to myself.  I did that and then some this weekend…although i must admit its way more fun having me time when you are feeling good then when you are sicky!!  So here’s hoping things continue on the path the 100% this week and life can get back to a bit more normal (Dear Body: i promise to slow down and take better care so we don’t have to go thru this again any time soon!!)  Have a wonderful week and take care!

“We are what we repeatedly do, excellence therefore is not an act but a habit”


Happy Monday
~ Jillian

Monday Mantra: give

Good Morning!  I hope you had a fabulous weekend!  We snuck off last week for a much needed vacation and enjoyed a little R & R at the beautiful beach in Sandestin!!  Such a wonderful trip; made lots of great memories, caught up on rest and soaked in as much sunshine as we possibly could!!  Now its back to the grind and getting settled back into life!

“We make a living by what we get,
but we make a LIFE by what we give”

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Happy Monday!
~ Jillian

Great Hikes: Gahuti Mountain Trail, Fort Mountain State Park, GA

Waaaaaaaaaaay back at the beginning of summer, the husband and I went on a longer hike at Fort Mountain State Park, just west of one of our favorite hiking areas {the Cohutta Wilderness}.  We tend to shy away from state parks, preferring the solitude of lesser traveled trails.  Well, we were pleasantly surprised by the well-maintained trails, the impressive views, and the abundance of wildlife.  Even though we were near park roads and campgrounds at a few points during the hike, most of the trail was quiet and peaceful offering that away from it all feeling that we crave.


*All photos were taken with a cell phone, because I’m not a fan of hiking with camera equipment.  Hopefully you can still get an idea of the gorgeous scenery this trail offers  : )

Gahuti Mountain Trail – Fort Mountain State Park, Chatsworth, GA

Distance: 8.2 miles (loop)
Elevation Gain:  500 feet, total elevation change of 4,000 feet along entire trail
Difficulty Level: Moderate to difficult (due to longer distance)
Trail Features: Long-range views, stream crossings, rocky paths, waterfalls, wildlife, campsites (permit required)

The Gahuti Mountain Backcountry Trail is a loop trail within Fort Mountain State Park.  The park itself is beautiful, full of activities and well-maintained.  While the park is great for families, this park is in the middle of bear country.  Therefore, all backcountry hikers are required to sign in at the ranger station and obtain a hiking permit.  We did not see any bears on our hike, but every other person we encountered had either heard about or seen a family of bears on the trail that day.

At the trailhead, you can begin the hike by heading either east or west on the Gahuti Loop.  I recommend the East Loop, saving the platform overlook for the end of your hike.


The first part of the trail closely parallels the park road, before veering toward the left and descending the mountain through a forest of mature trees and dense underbrush.



About 1.5 miles into the hike, the trail crosses Mill Creek via a foot bridge.  Turning right, the trail passes through a dense rhododendron forest as it follows the creek and passes backcountry campsite #1.



From the creek, the trail gains elevation quickly.  The trail then follows a ridge, as it meanders south toward the park entrance.  Reaching the park entrance at 2.7 miles, the trail cross the park road and continues uphill.

The trail is very well-marked with orange blazes.  There seemed to be an orange blaze every 3-4 trees.  At each road crossing, signs are marked with the trail name pointing hikers to the next segment of the trail.


After crossing the road, the trail continues to gain elevation.  This segment of the trail doubles as a park service road and is quite wide.


At 3.5 miles, a clearing appears on the left to reveal a beautiful view to the south and a bench to rest and enjoy the view.


From the overlook, the trail continues to ascend the mountain through another mature forest of towering trees, then crossing another roadway.  The trail continues on the opposite side of the road, passes through fields of rocks and boulders.


Shortly thereafter, the trail closes in again as it descends into a valley and passes through another forest of rhododendron and other flowering shrubs.  The timing of our hike (late May) was perfect and we were able to see a full display of blooms on the rhododendron, wild azaleas, and mountain laurel.  Needless to say, the trail was fragrant and featured a beautiful display of colors.



At 5.5 miles, the trail encounters Goldmine Branch Falls.  This makes a great place to rest or enjoy a snack, but beware in warmer months.  We saw two copperhead snakes in this area!




Departing the falls, follow the log “steps” up the hill and take the footbridge across Goldmine Branch Creek.


From this point, the trail traverses the west side of the mountain following the ridge through dense woods and past enormous boulders on the right side of the trail.  Occasionally, the trees open up to reveal a peek at the farmland and forest below.



The last mile of the trail is quiet, heavily wooded and mostly uphill, as you travel around the northwestern portion of the mountain and out of a valley.


All of your efforts are rewarded with the incredible, long-range view of the rolling hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the west overlook viewing platform at the end of the trail.


Although early summer was gorgeous, we are eager get back to hike Gahuti Mountain Backcountry Trail again this fall.  The views from the overlooks must be spectacular, once the green gives way to the rich gold, orange and red hues in the canopy.

- Brittany