Shannon here: Peggy Trotter shares a recipe for a favorite for her family and her characters in her latest Romantic Suspense, The Secret Storm. Comment or answer the question at the end of the post to enter the drawing for a copy. Deadline: Jan 26th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Peggy:
So I paused smack dab in the middle of a scene of The Secret Storm, my newest novel, because I needed a meal that the couple would have at dinner. It was meant to be a pleasant moment turned tense, and I couldn’t just pick anything. Roast beef, fried chicken waxed too bland and too time intensive. Not my lady hero’s personality at all.
I racked my brain for what would be perfect, right in this poignant notch of the story. And then it came to me! Of course. Mexican Chicken casserole. It was perfection.
Why, you ask? On so many levels. First of all this is a favorite family recipe from my husband’s side, which of course, tells you exactly where the cooking talent lies in my marriage. Not from me. LOL.
Perhaps I should tell you all a little background. My husband and I have been married for 34 years. But his brown eyes still get me every time. (Which is why I constantly fight myself not to put only dark-eyed men on the cover of my books.) He’s quiet, wise, and, as I’ve already alluded to, cooks. Pretty much the perfect recipe for our relationship. Especially the cooking part. Walking in after a long day of work to the smell of his great cooking? And a kiss or two to boot? Now that’s my kind of romance!
My husband and I aren’t mushy romantic, which probably shows in my writing. No surprise candy, flowers (I’m allergic), or a trip to Maui on the sly (although that sounds nice in every way but our bank account). But we enjoy being together. We love the beach, which is where Stormi and Ake honeymoon, and we do have a special song. But it’s terribly outdated, duh 🙂 “Hello” by Lionel Richie.
But let’s get back to the Mexican Chicken, which I think, gives the perfect example of a genuine godly marriage. Stir in your own version of romance. Here’s the recipe:
Mexican Chicken Casserole
4 chicken breasts 1 (10 oz.) jar of chunky salsa
Doritos chips (or a can of Rotel)
1 small onion 1 c. chicken broth
1 (8 oz.) pkg. shredded cheddar cheese 1 can cream of chicken soup
Boil chicken breasts until done. Shred chicken. Spray the bottom of 8 x 13-inch casserole dish with oil and cover with Doritos. Crunch chips into smaller pieces. Dice small onion. Mix soup, salsa and broth in saucepan. Heat until mixed and hot; layer chicken and onion in pan and pour soup mixture on top. Sprinkle cheese over mixture. Bake, uncovered at 350° for 45 minutes. Let set for 5 minutes before serving.
It’s a layered sort of thing and quite tasty. It comes down to smashed chips, shredded chicken, onion and hot salsa/chicken soup mixture, and cheese. I compare each layer to an important component of a successful marriage.
Smashed chips remind me of what we each brought to the marriage. Our pasts, our talents, our personalities, our hurts, our disappointments—us, as individuals, full of the crunchy mess of life experiences. Not all bad, not all good. But definitely things that a couple has to deal with love, understanding, and forgiveness. I once threw a large metal coffee pot down the hallway because of my anger. My husband and I laugh about it now, but at the time, it wasn’t funny. As a couple, you bring your past, good and bad. Prepare for it. Sometimes it shows up when least expected. Or wanted. Sorry, coffee pot.
The chicken is the meat of the marriage. And that can be nothing else but God. The whole dish rests upon this ingredient to be fulfilling. Without it, you have nothing more than a snack. It’s the whole reason for the dish. My husband and I, as different as we are, were like-minded about our love and devotion to God. That was key. We placed God in the center of our marriage to lead us through church and his Word, the Bible. I adore going to church next to my husband, sitting with him. God is the anchor in our marriage and my husband it the reflection of Him in my life. My smaller anchor here on earth.
The onion and hot salsa/chicken soup mixture is everything we’ve experienced in life as a couple. Sometimes we’ve done things together that have a crazy flair like onion~fun stuff, exciting stuff. Then other times can get hot and spicy~our anger, our disagreements. But God is the glue that holds us together, reminding us to show one another humbleness and forgiveness.
When we’re on the couch, watching Friends for the umpteenth time, laughing at the same spots, just melding our lives together, well, that’s just mellow harmony. A lot like chicken soup. Good, comfortable, healing. Spending time together is so important for a couple. Cooking together, joining together on a project, traveling together, laughing together. Always connecting. Every day.
Cheese. Glory hallelujah. Glorious cheese. Could I compare that to anything else but the sweetest blessings of life? The wonderful things that God pours on us? Our children, our grandchildren, the many sweet Christmases, the best family trips, answered prayers. Ahhh. Now that makes life…what else could I say? These things make life.
But every day serving one another is important too. Remembering to be overly kind and thoughtful of your spouse. I always take care to speak about my husband in a positive light. Lifting him up and hearing him do the same about me. Respect. That’s romance all of its own.
All these ingredients mix together in the meltiest way, becoming integrated into what is truly the romance of a marriage. The necessary ingredients that are more than a candlelight dinner or a vase of roses. And much more long lasting.
All this began with a surge of attraction from a glance of a brown-eyed boy who didn’t say much. Who still quietly holds my hand during times of hurt and sorrow, and sends thrills of joy down my spine with a kiss to the back of my neck.
Much like Stormi and Ake in my book, The Secret Storm, facing one another across the table, wrestling a world of challenge and joys. Over a casserole dish of Mexican Chicken.
To me, romance is a feel-good layered casserole of so many things: love, kindness, forgiveness, humbleness, togetherness, respectfulness. With God resting firmly in the center.
About Peggy: Peggy Trotter is on a continual quest to find one of her many pairs of glasses. But once those readers are parked on her nose, she‘s immersed in a story scene of some sort, always pushing toward that miracle happy ending. On a dusty shelf lies a couple of writing honors like the prestigious ACFW Genesis Award, Novella category, even though she writes full-length historical, contemporary and suspense Christian Fiction.
She has two amazing grown children, two terrific children-in-laws, and two unbelievably fantabulous grandchildren, who deserve way more than the average amount of adjectives and adverbs. Her Batman of 34 years, whose cape is much worn from rescuing his wife from one scrap or another, is the delight of her life. She’s a smoldering pot of determined discombobulation who, by the grace of God, occasionally pulls it together to appear in public as a normal confident woman while privately craving a few hermit hours to woo the printed word.
About the book – The Secret Storm:
Within the cozy coastal town…secrets abound. Stormi Zobroski’s life is finally on track. Her immoral life decisions, stemming from a dysfunctional childhood, are nothing but a bad memory. New town, new life. Or so she thinks. When a new friend, Ake Pearson, is belittled, Stormi conjures up the perfect plan. Yet, how could a little face-saving kiss cause so much harm? Now, she will do anything to fix it.
Ake Pearson is a simple man. Faith, family, and fishing. Even if everybody calls him “Dummy,” he’s content with his lot. Only when Stormi thunders into his life does he realize what he is missing. Family disapproval and misunderstandings threaten to tear Stormi from him. But when a long kept secret surfaces, Ake may lose his very life.
Question for Readers: Which one of Peggy’s layers compares to an important relationship in your life?
Come back Jan 22nd for Caryl McAdoo!