Welcome to October, and the start of the new Live Well Women blog. I had the chance to meet my new fellow bloggers earlier this week, and I’m looking forward to reading their posts and following the different stories of these women in different life-stages and life-styles. I’ll be continuing to write about my efforts to stay active and healthy while balancing a full time job and a graduate studies program. A lot of what I write about ends up being related to recipes, basically because I’m in love with food. I love talking about food and recipes and eating experiences with friends. I love the act of cooking and baking in my kitchen, and I love feeding people and knowing that some of you out there might be trying out some of my recipes and enjoying them for yourselves.

The beginning of October also marks the start of Breast Cancer Awareness month. Healthworks is helping four different organizations in raising funds for prevention, awareness, treatment, services, and support for women affected by this disease. I would encourage you to consider donations for these important charities, and also be reminded of the importance of taking good care of your health and performing monthly breast self-exams (check out the little self-exam card hanging out in your shower stall at Healthworks during your next visit).

This year, I happen to be particularly attuned to all of the messages and support for breast cancer, because my mom (who just celebrated her 51st birthday last weekend) was diagnosed with breast cancer in May. She underwent a mastectomy in June, and has been going through chemotherapy treatments since August. Her diagnosis was, of course, a total shock to her and our family, with no known family history of breast cancer, nor any apparent lifestyle risks. She’s keeping herself active and positive so far, and inspires me and the rest of my family to try and do the same. I’m sure many of you out there must have similar stories, or know of other people who have been affected by this scary and all too prevalent disease.

So at the start of this new season, in the spirit of sharing good food, and in honor of my mom, here’s one of her favorite recipes for Fall — chicken with apple-brandy cream sauce. It makes a nice weekend dinner dish, especially when balanced with some sautéed greens and roasted root vegetables:

Chicken with Apple-Brandy Cream Sauce

2 tbsps olive oil

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

All-purpose flour

3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced

½ cup applejack (I’ve used apple juice in the past when I couldn’t find this)

¼ cup brandy

½ cup of half-and-half

Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and coat with flour, shaking off excess. Add chicken to skillet and cook until brown on both sides and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side.

Transfer to platter, leaving oil in the pan.

Add apples and both brandies; simmer over medium heat

until apples are tender and liquid is slightly syrupy, about 7 minutes.

Using slotted spoon, transfer apples to platter with chicken.

Add cream to skillet; boil until thickened to sauce consistency,

about 5 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper.

Return chicken and apples to skillet and heat through, about 2 minutes.

Arrange chicken on plates. Spoon apples and sauce over chicken and serve.