Building Relationships & Flavor & A Give Away

chicken mole with fresh avocado and grape tomatoes

chicken mole quesadilla with fresh avocado and grape tomatoes

Let your mind be open to the notion that you will feel joy again. Take little bits of joy at first. See how it feels? It’s OK. Take some more. Those bits of joy are building your heart back together. Then when you least suspect it, on what you think is your very worst day, your heart starts beating again.

diploma in hand he couldn't wait to graduate so he could break another school rule

diploma in hand he couldn’t wait to graduate so he could break another school rule

Recently, I had a change for the better with my grief. I’d say it was a giant leap forward. Something seemed to go “PING” in my brain with the news of two of William’s best friends getting engaged. “Mrs. Keys you are the 3rd person we called with the news”…..my heart is so full as I listen to all the details of the proposal….”and we can thank William for bringing us together”…..PING!

congratulations Whit & Marisa

congratulations Whit & Marisa

If writing this blog has taught me one thing it is that my son will never be forgotten due to the amazing relationships he built. From prep school to the military and right in his own backyard he made people feel like they mattered. He gave his undivided attention to you and to me and that has made all the difference.

And I am ever grateful for each and every friend who has invited me into their intimate relationship with my son. You have memorialized him with donations to charities and scholarships. You have named your newborn babies after him and you have even honored him with pretty cool tattoos. You toast him and think about him when you are at a crossroads. “What would Will do?” Every story is a gem and a bit of joy.

symbolic of her love

symbolic of a loving friendship

Truthfully, I know I can never get off the roller coaster of grief, but there is a new found confidence that the future holds less twists and turns.IMG_5545

To paraphrase Maya Angelou, “people never forget how you made them feel” and because of that I know my William will never be forgotten. He built beautiful relationships with loving people and in that I am so very blessed. To all you kids out there who have never hesitated to call or write or share or remember……your actions have spoke volumes in healing me.DSCN0893

Time to build some flavor. Mole is a traditional Mexican sauce. It has very complex flavors thanks to a long simmer of the million and one ingredients that usually go into it. My simpler version of mole uses typical pantry ingredients and gets a well-developed flavor from a short stew in the pressure cooker.*chicken mole

Shredded Chicken Mole

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1-tablespoon ancho chili powder

1-tablespoon chili powder

2–tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, seeded

½-teaspoon cinnamon

1/8-teaspoon ground cloves

2 ½ cups beef broth

¼ cup water

1 (14.5 oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

1 cup diced dried plums (aka prunes)

¼ cup creamy peanut butter

5 pounds chicken thighs, skin removed

1 onion, sliced ½-inch thick

1 red bell pepper, seeded, diced

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat 1-tablespoon oil in pressure cooker pot over medium heat. Add both chili powders, cocoa powder, garlic, chipotle, cinnamon and cloves; cook, stirring for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add broth, water, tomatoes, prunes and peanut butter, stirring well and scraping up bottom of the pan. Simmer for 5 minutes. Puree in a blender. Add remaining oil to the pot. Add onions and half the peppers; cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir sauce back into pot. Season chicken with kosher salt and ground black pepper; add to pot. Lock pressure cooker lid into place following your manufacturer instructions. Bring to HIGH pressure, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 25 minutes. Quick release pressure and remove lid directing the steam away from you. Transfer chicken to a cutting board. Remove the meat and discard the bones. Add remaining red peppers to the pot; simmer for 10 minutes or until tender. Add chicken and cilantro. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Serves 6 to 8

Delicious served over rice with traditional chili toppings or wrapped in a warm tortilla.

*If a pressure cooker freaks you out then feel free to try this recipe in a slow cooker–maybe 6 to 8 hours

And now for the give away. Leave me today with a happy thought in the comment section and you will be entered to win this most wonderful dish towel from Penzey’s. Thanks for hanging out with me. I will pick a winner on Wednesday, May 6th.

from Penzey's

from Penzey’s

15 thoughts on “Building Relationships & Flavor & A Give Away

  1. Very nice blog entry. Wonderful news about Whit. Peanut butter in mole sauce…who knew?

  2. Your recipe for mole just made the little New Mexican girl in my squeal in delight!

    Just a little note that I found your blog a few weeks ago when I lost my mother in-law suddenly. She too had lost a child 17 years ago. Thank you for such a sweet blog!

    • Hi Amanda. I am sorry to hear about your sudden loss. I think the unexpected death of a loved one is the hardest kind of grief. I hope you find some comfort here and that you enjoy my version of mole.

  3. Love, love, love this blog. Especially love the picture of William giving you a smooch.

    • yes-a real happy crossroads for me…and hope for anyone else going through a similar loss–it some how does get better

  4. When you first posted this, I felt like I couldn’t comment because I couldn’t think of anything happy to contribute. Ironically, on Friday night, my newly 18 year old son came home with a tattoo tribute to his little brother. A year ago this would have resulted in an hysterical me ranting and raving about bad choices, but his utter joy and pride was so heartfelt that I couldn’t help but enjoy the moment with him. Turns out there are a few Aidan tribute tattoos out there. I was completely moved to learn that people are willing to memorialize him so permanently. Who knew a tattoo could bring me a little bit of joy?
    … And I am so making that chicken mole on Tuesday!

  5. I recall, many years ago, having a rant with my daughter about tattoos…I may have even threatened not to pay her college tuition if she were to get one….fast forward to today I think they can be a most wonderful expression of love and appreciation….William and Aidan will never be forgotten and that is a most joyous thought

  6. I always enjoy reading your blog Lisa, sometimes cry, other times laugh and always amazed at the beautiful way you articulate your feelings.
    This blog is special to me because you are feeling that you are healing.
    And, I may even be able to handle this recipe!

    • Yes, Wendy-I feel like I have turned a huge corner. Hard to imagine, but life does go on. Thanks for being here with me.

  7. i am watching the rerun of your Chopped episode right now, and it is even more fun this time knowing the outcome. You little badass!

  8. I’m watching the rerun of your Chopped episode right now, and it is even more fun this time knowing the outcome. You little badass!

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