I think my body is rebelling.
It got used to the 85-plus degree weather and sunshine of Florida, and when I returned it to the northern clime (even though the weather here has been unseasonably warm), it went into panic mode. Within hours of arriving at our Worthington home, I was plagued by fever and uncontrollable chills — the result of a sinus infection.
Eighteen days ago, Hubby Bryan and I set out on our longest road-trip yet. Our destination was Fort Myers, Fla., where my sister Margaret and brother-in-law Don are currently living while Don does a short-term ministry stint at a church there. Instead of flying, we decided to take two weeks and drive there.
During that time, we put just short of 4,000 miles on our vehicle. It wasn’t an easy drive, and there were a few perils along the way, but it was a good way to see some new parts of the country and spend some quality time together. No regrets — I think we would do it all over again, after a few weeks recovery time.
Our gracious hosts had scouted out “must-see” locations and kept us hopping for the duration of our Florida stay. I will share more about those experiences in an upcoming Saturday Faces & Places page.
One of the highlights — and prime reasons for the trip — was attending a Minnesota Twins spring training game. Having been told that Worthingtonians Jerry and Beve Vajgrt work at the Fort Myers games, I was keeping an eye out for familiar faces as we pulled into the parking lot at Hammond stadium. Sure enough, there was Beve, collecting parking fees. I spotted her when our vehicle was about 10 cars back and started waving. We never did see Jerry, although Beve assured us he was around somewhere.
Frankly, we were surprised not to see more people we knew during our Florida stay, as the Fort Myers area is a popular venue for southwest Minnesota snowbirds.
In addition to a steady stream of sightseeing, we were invited to dinner at the winter home of former Worthington residents and longtime family friends Grace and Fred Ehlers. Grace and Fred moved to the Twin Cities a number of years ago in order to be closer to family, but maintain many Worthington connections. They spend the winter months in a Bonita Springs, Fla., complex that is populated by quite a few Worthingtonians.
While we caught up on the latest family news, Grace served a delicious meal, that, of course, had me asking for the recipes. Grace complied via email, which was waiting for me when I came back to work Monday. Here is the first of those recipes — the main course, a chicken dish that highlighted the fresh peppers that are available in the Florida produce markets. Watch for Grace’s other dishes in my next blog.
Chicken with Peppers
Four 6-ounce chicken breasts
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
2 cups thinly sliced red pepper
1 cup thinly sliced yellow pepper
½ cup thinly sliced green onions
1½ teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat skillet to medium high.
Combine salt, fennel, pepper and oregano. Brush chicken breasts with olive oil and rub spice mixture into the meat.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet.Add chicken and brown for 3 minutes; turn chicken and brown for 2 more minutes. When browned, arrange on a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until cooked through.
Heat another 1 tablespoon olive oil in skillet and add the peppers, green onions and rosemary. Add the broth and balsamic vinegar, stirring to get up the browned chicken bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat and simmer five minutes. Increase heat to medium, add salt and pepper to taste, and cook 3 minutes while stirring. Spoon pepper mixture over chicken and serve.