Realistic Cooking Ideas

for Busy People! And sharing our life adventures along the way!

Halloween candy

Happy Halloween everyone! We have our candy bars ready for the trick and treaters! I noticed now they have the calories on the bars and Baby Ruth says they have 4 grams of protein! The little goblins should be here in a few hours. It is a bit chilly but at least the rain has stopped. But the weather never seems to stop them. It seems we get more kids on a miserable night than on a beautiful one! We have been watching our Halloween movies (Michael Myers) and of course Stephen King! Plus Greg has the pumpkins carved and he will put candles inside of them for a traditional look. If I can get a good picture of them lit I will post it tomorrow.

I also wanted to mention that the latest edition of Women Testers is out. For this edition I have an article called: How to Keep Yourself Organized When There are Too Many Demands on Your Time! I plan on writing a second part to this article and would appreciate any questions or feedback that could be addressed in the next edition of Women Testers.

If you would like to submit an article for a future edition or help out in any way, please contact Jyothi Rangaiah at and you can find more information by clicking here. Enjoy the magazine and please let people know about it including women who might be interested in a tech career!

Glen Iris mansion

Now it is time for some history about Letchworth State Park in New York. Also remember to visit the first part as we arrived at the park, and visit the Lower Falls, Middle Falls, and Upper Falls. I found this website that has a short history of Letchworth State Park with a lot of links to discover more information. William Letchworth was the original owner of this wonderful property! Can you imagine living in such a location where you walk outside of your house, see picture below, and be able to walk to so many wonderful waterfalls? Below are a few pictures I took of William Letchworth portrait that was displayed in the museum. In particular I like the second picture where he is entertaining on the porch – he is the farthest to the right.

Letchworth Park History 1

Letchworth Park History 2

Letchworth Park History 4
Letchworth Park History 3

And how that porch looks today…
Letchworth Park History 5

Here are a few more pictures from the museum.
Letchworth Park Museum 3

Letchworth Park Museum 2

Letchworth Park Museum 1

Below is a picture of a sign providing more information.
Letchworth Park History 6

Mary Jemison was called the White Woman of the Genesee. Her family was killed by an Indian attack and she was adopted by them. You can read more about her life at this website.

Mary Jemison 1
Mary Jemison 6
Mary Jemison 2
Mary Jemison 3
Mary Jemison 4
Mary Jemison 5
Glen Iris

letchworth park The upper falls

On our adventure through Letchworth State Park, today we are visiting the Upper Falls of Genesee River! Be sure to visit the first part as we arrived at the park, and visit the Lower Falls, and then the Middle Falls. Take a look at the cover pictures, and to the left hand side you will see some trees – people will hike through those areas. We did not attempt to go to those hiking areas. Luckily there are great views without those rugged hikes! At the top of the picture you will see train tracks that are still active. This was definitely another beautiful area of Letchworth State Park!

letchworth park The upper falls 1

letchworth park The upper falls 2

Below is a video I took of the Upper Falls.

There are a lot of smaller waterfalls throughout the park. Below is a really nice waterfall that we viewed near the Upper Falls.

Letchworth Park Smaller Waterfalls 2

Letchworth Park Smaller Waterfalls 1

Letchworth Park Smaller Waterfalls

And here is a video of the smaller waterfalls. I did promise I would provide some information on the history of Letchworth Park and that will be coming up in a future posting!

Letchworth Park Middle Falls 20

Today I hope everyone enjoys the beauty of the Middle Falls of Genesee River in Letchworth State Park. Be sure to take a look at the previous pictures I posted in part one and in part two. Each of the waterfalls has a beauty of its own. Of the three waterfalls, I enjoyed the Middle Falls the best – I think it is just beautiful! The cover picture is the view from leaving Glen Iris Inn and taking the path to the waterfalls. I will tell you more about Glen Iris Inn and who owned this home in a later post. Right now it is an Inn that you can stay at and have dinner. It was a cold day at 54°F that felt like 48°F and there were reserved tables on the patio for dinner. Below is a picture of Glen Iris Inn so you can imagine sitting at the patio then walking to the Middle Falls!

Glen Iris Inn Side View NY

Below are pictures from different perspectives and a video that was shot along the way!

Letchworth Park Middle Falls 9

Letchworth Park Middle Falls 8

Letchworth Park Middle Falls 7

Letchworth Park Middle Falls 6

Letchworth Park Middle Falls 5

Letchworth Park Middle Falls 4
Letchworth Park Middle Falls 21

Chicken Cacciatore with a Port Wine Tomato Sauce

Today I am sharing a new recipe for Chicken Cacciatore that my husband loves to order when we go to an Italian restaurant. In a few days, I will return to our Letchworth Park series with more pictures and videos. Chicken Cacciatore is always a nice meal that can be served over pasta or rice. By making the sauce with a blend of tomato sauce, Roma tomatoes, and Port Wine gives it a rich color and flavor! I like to purchase whole mushrooms that I wash, dry, and cut into thick slices. Mushrooms tend to cook down to almost nothing so it is best to start out with them thicker. Plus do not substitute can mushrooms – they are like rubber. Fresh is best when taking time to make this recipe. It will take about an hour to slow cook plus time to cook the chicken and saute the vegetables. It is worth the time because you can make a large pot and have it for a few of days. I like to make my pasta fresh each day and serve with crusty bread.

I have made a similar recipe using Merlot Dry Red Wine and this time I used a California Port Wine from Fairbanks which is great for cooking and of course drinking! Remember when cooking with wine, the flavor of the wine will be introduced into your dish. Find a red wine that you enjoy drinking to add to this sauce.

I use my Roma tomatoes and tomato sauce from a can. By adding different seasonings, you can create a homemade sauce. Of course if you have a few Roma tomatoes from your garden that would be a great addition to the sauce!

Some of my readers do not drink alcohol and do not cook with it even though the alcohol mostly cooks out of the dish. I have read where people use balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar as a substitute but not one for one. Try adding a little, maybe a tablespoon, to see if it adds the complexity that wine adds. Other options include tomato juice, beef stock, or cranberry juice. I cannot validate any of these options since I use wine in my dish instead of a substitute.

As a tip, taste your sauce before adding the red wine or a substitute to understand the initial flavor. Add a small amount of wine such as ½ cup and let it simmer for a few minutes. Then taste again to get an idea on how the wine changed the flavor. Typically I let my dish cook for a few minutes with the cover off to reduce any water before adding the wine.

2 pounds Chicken breast, boneless and skinless, cubed or sliced
Olive oil
2 tsp Garlic, minced
½ to 1 cup sliced Mushrooms
3 Small sliced Red, Orange, Yellow Peppers
1 Large sliced Sweet Onions
½ cup to 1 cup Port Wine
1 tbsp Italian seasonings
1 28-ounce can chopped Roma Tomatoes
2 1/2 cups Tomato Sauce, or 29-ounce canned sauce
Basil, bay leaf – pick your favorite!
Lawry’s seasoned Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper
Your favorite pasta – consider a multi-grain pasta

Cover the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil and heat. Then add your seasoned chicken to cook through. If there is too much liquid during cooking, carefully remove most of it to allow the chicken to brown.

While the chicken is cooking, cover the bottom of a braising pan with olive oil and heat on medium heat. Add onions and cook for about 20-minutes on low-medium heat until they caramelize – you can add a tsp of sugar for more sweetness. Add the peppers and cook for a few minutes until tender. If the pan is becoming too dry, add a little tomato sauce. Add garlic and Italian seasonings letting it simmer for about a minute. Then add the tomato sauce, plum tomatoes and cooked chicken. Cover and cook on low for about 30-minutes (longer if you want to slow-cook). Stir periodically. During the last 20-minutes, add the wine and mushrooms. Cover for about 10-minutes to start cooking the mushrooms. Then remove the cover to cook off any water to ensure a thicker sauce. If you prefer a bit thinner sauce then skip this step.

During the last 10-minutes of cooking, prepare your pasta. When everything is done, spoon the Chicken Cacciatore over the pasta. You can serve this meal with crusty Italian bread, salad, and a glass of wine! Enjoy this wonderful, gourmet meal that can easily be prepared after work or made on Sunday to reheat after work! It is a great treat after work when you do not feel like putting much effort into dinner.

Letchworth Park Lower Falls cover

Today’s posting from our day-trip to Letchworth State Park is a visit to the Lower Falls. Yesterday’s tour started with arriving at the park with some initial beautiful shots of nature. The Lower Falls Trail has 127 steps to take you down to the waterfalls, Genesee River, and walk bridge – and of course you need to return by that path. The hike is not as difficult as NH but it is important to wear the correct footwear since it can be muddy and the stairs are old meaning pieces are missing. Below are a few pictures of what the stairs look like and the walk path.

Letchworth Park Lower Falls stairs 3

Letchworth Park Lower Falls stairs 2

Letchworth Park Lower Falls stairs

The bridge is pretty amazing as it fits right into the rugged nature that surrounds it and was a great place to take pictures.
Letchworth Park Lower Falls walk bridge
Letchworth Park Lower Falls surrounding area 7

Letchworth Park Lower Falls surrounding area 6

For me the Lower Falls was more rugged than the other two waterfalls. First you had a hike to get to the falls and to leave the gorge. Once you were inside the gorge nothing looked manmade – the bridge looked like it was part of the nature that surrounded the bridge. Once you got off the path you can go right to get closer to the falls or take a left, which is what we took. We did not take the path to get close to the Lower Falls – it is muddy and slippery so you do need to be careful. Just where we were walking was some mud that people were close to wiping out if they were not careful with their footing. This was not a time to be walking fast! Over the decades this falls has eroded into two small falls. Hopefully next time we will turn right once we get off the 127 steps path to get closer to this beautiful falls!
Letchworth Park Lower Falls surrounding area 1

Letchworth Park Lower Falls surrounding area 4
Letchworth Park Lower Falls surrounding area 10

There was so much to appreciate once you got to the gorge.
Letchworth Park Lower Falls surrounding area

Letchworth Park Lower Falls surrounding area 3

Letchworth Park Lower Falls surrounding area 5
Letchworth Park Lower Falls surrounding area 9

Letchworth Park Lower Falls surrounding area 8

letchword park lower falls cover picture

On Saturday Greg and I went to Letchworth State Park for a beautiful but chilly walk around their 3 main waterfalls and many smaller waterfalls. The leaves are just starting to change colors and in a week or two they should be at their peak. It was a cold day at 54°F that felt like 48°F. (That would be 8.8 °C!) It was warmer at our house since we had a bright sun that was hot. But once we got to our destination, we found that the sun was gone and there was a slight breeze. Greg dressed in his short pants and I thought he was crazy but he thought it was going to warm up. But it was colder there; though there were a few hardy souls in short pants. We stopped for lunch on our way there, which was difficult since there are very few places to eat. We both had hot tea, hot roast beef sandwiches and mashed potatoes. I am fairly particular about roast beef and the waitress said they were known for their beef. And since it was so cold we needed to start our adventure with some comfort food! The cover picture is a view of the Lower Falls and I will be sharing more pictures of that area in my next posting. The beauty of this area is a bit overwhelming because in a short distance there is so much to see! Below are the pictures I took when we first got to the park.

letchword park 1
letchword park 2
letchword park 3
letchword park 4
letchword park 7
letchword park 6

This year we are seeing a lot of acorns on the ground – to the point that you could have a smaller roller rink of slipping on them! Has anyone else seen an unusual amount of acorns on the ground?
letchword park acorns

Below are a few pictures on our way to the Lower Falls! The one picture you can see the tree that is almost falling off the edge – we notice from the erosion a lot of trees were close to falling into the water!
letchword park leaves

letchword park trees on the edge

letchword park lower falls view

letchword park lower falls view 2

The below pictures are the unique stone picnic tables and fireplaces! The slate tops had to weigh a ton to move and someone took the time to carve them and make them smooth.
letchword park picnic table 4

letchword park picnic table 3

letchword park picnic table 2

letchword park picnic table 1

We wondered if the slate picnic table tops came from the below creek.
letchword park slate

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