Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tonight's Dinner

Well yesterday I was ready with a recipe that I had just tried that night. But I didn't get around to it and I think you'll all be glad that I didn't, because tonight I tried a recipe that was yummy, very easy and family friendly. The other one was good, but more complicated, and not one I had any hope of convincing Ella to eat (hint, it was fish). This recipe had us all (minus Catherine, she's just a lost cause right now) asking for seconds!

Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps
From My Kitchen Cafe
1 cup cooked rice, warm or at room temperature
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 green onion, finely sliced (white and green parts)
1/2 red or green pepper, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
2 cups shredded cheese
Sour cream (optional)

6 burrito-sized flour tortillas (I had enough filling for at least 9)

Mix rice together with chili powder, cumin and garlic salt. Add remaining ingredients except for cheese and sour cream. Sprinkle cheese over tortillas, leaving 1/2-inch border around edges, then arrange chicken and rice mixture down the center of each tortilla.

Two options with the sour cream. You can add a few dollops to the cheese and chicken/rice mixture (original recipe) OR, you can do what we did, which was leave it out and use the sour cream as a garnish.

Roll stuffed tortillas, leaving edges open. Spray the tortillas all over with cooking spray.

Heat a large non-stick skillet (or griddle) over medium heat for 1 minute. Arrange 2 wraps, seam-side down, in pan and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining wraps. Serve.

We made the first round of them, ate, and then I cooked up the second round. We like them best when they are hot and crispy.

Another great thing is that you can easily adjust this according to your tastes. Like it spicier, add more chili powder or add some hot sauce. More veggies? Add some corn. Dislike sour cream? Just leave it out and maybe serve with some salsa. This is definitely easy, healthy and most importantly, tastes great! I hope you give it a try!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lost in Translation

I wish I had my act together enough to blog every day because I would definitely have a story to tell every day. It might not be that exciting of a story, but without fail at least once a day something happens that I want to share, get feedback, or just preserve the memory of.

I am going to make a conscious effort to put those thoughts or stories out there - even if it's short and not that thrilling, but there are definitely so many things that I don't want to forget!

For example....

We have mice living in our house. I've heard them for awhile, when I'm on the computer at night, they sound like they are having a party in our oven (don't worry, they aren't, believe I (and by I, I mean Matt) has checked a number of times). I've been bugging Matt since I first realized it, but getting rid of them hasn't been high on his priority list (perhaps he will weigh in and let us know why not). However, this weekend he was spurred on to action and set some traps in the drawer where we kept our oven mitts.

We caught one pretty quickly. Not something I am excited about, because they are little and cute (theoretically, not in my house though) and I wish there was another way to deal with them. Matt reset the trap and that was that.

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon. Matt made Ella some cheese and chips in the toaster oven. He was upstairs and yelled for her to check on the chips to make sure they weren't burning.

She went to get an oven mitt....

I have to take a break right here and let you know that we really don't encourage our kids to touch the toaster oven or check things in it. I do think Ella is probably capable of doing that on her own, but it's always something we do. Matt just wanted her to peak in and take a look, but she could easily have interpreted that differently...obviously she did!

So, yeah Ella went to get an oven mitt. She opened the drawer and upon seeing the (dead) mouse in the drawer she let out the loudest scream ever and was so traumatized that she continued to scream and cry for about five minutes.

I was holding her and trying to comfort her as Matt came down the stairs, and apparently her scream clearly communicated dead mouse because he knew exactly what had happened. I was feeling bad for Ella and a bit frustrated that a dead mouse had been in our kitchen all day so I said "Daddy gets a big "F" for that, he gets a big "F"" As in failing grade. For failing to remove the dead rodent from the drawer before our daughter came close to using it as a pot holder.

Ella eventually calmed down. I told her that maybe she would want to call her Nama, because Nama had just had an experience with a mouse and would understand how Ella was feeling. When they finally got to talk I was listening to Ella tell the story to mom and I heard her say "...and then mommy said, daddy the "f", daddy the "f" "....

What does that sound like to you? Because to me it sounded like I had been calling my husband a thinly veiled vulgar word. I grabbed the phone from Ella and explained to my mom what I HAD said, thankfully she didn't really get what Ella was saying so we were all good.

I was upset, but I definitely wasn't that upset. I can't even imagine what could happen to make me that upset - if dead mice doesn't do it, then I think we're pretty safe.

Happy Monday - I am moving my recipe post to Tuesdays, so check back tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Comfort Food

Somehow Menu Plan Monday slipped past with nary a word from me! But who says I can't post a recipe on Tuesday?! This one goes out to Melissa who asked me this weekend if I would put my menu up on Monday and I said "of course!" Just goes to show you how reliable I am!

Anyway, I am not a food blogger and my camera is currently 4 hours away so that means you won't be getting any pictures to accompany the recipe, but then again, when I have ever posted pictures of my recipes!? It's not for lack of trying, I usually forget until we've eaten half of whatever it is and the visually pleasing factor goes way down!

Today I'm going to share a recipe that I consider comfort food. It's something my mom made growing up and it's hearty, simple and kid friendly (at least for Ella it is, Catherine likes the chicken part)

Hearty Chicken Stew
2 chicken breasts, cut into cubes/bite size pieces
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1 med onion sliced (or chopped, really your preference)
2 stalks celery cut into pieces (your preference)
2 carrots, sliced (ditto above)
1/2 tsp thyme
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1 T ketchup
3-4 med. potatoes, cut into bite size pieces (If you aren't big on potatoes, you can use less, I think this is more than the original recipe calls for)
salt and pepper

Melt butter in large skillet/pan that has a lid. Coat chicken pieces with flour (I put the flour in a ziploc bag and add the chicken pieces and then shake around). Add chicken and any excess flour to the heated butter. Saute three minutes. Add onion and celery, saute 3 additional minutes. Add chicken broth, thyme, ketchup, potatoes and carrots. Bring to a boil, cover and cook at a simmer (that means turn the heat down!) for 15 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Note on the potatoes - I have found that no matter what the potatoes take much longer to cook than 15 minutes. I now put the potato pieces in the microwave for a quick zap (maybe I can add specifics after I make it tonight) so they are already headed in the right direction before I add then to the pan.

You can serve this in a bowl or on a plate. It doesn't have as much broth as a traditional stew might have so it really does work ok on a plate, but I like having it in a bowl - just my personal preference! Also, growing up my mom always served this with applesauce and I guess it just stuck with me because we do too, it has become, for this meal, the perfect side dish.

So as the weather turns colder and you're looking for a simple meal with ingredients you most likely already have, give this comfort food a try!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Top 18!

Here we are, my turn to recap this week's episode of SYTYCD. I haven't been a great member of the sisterhood, I meant to comment on Courtney's recap last week and somehow...I just didn't. Shame on me! Also, I haven't been posting who is recapping each week, so for any of you who may have been looking for it through me, it would have been hard to find.

Anyway, I love the show, but I'm feeling a bit underwhelmed this season, but I think I say that at the start of every season! Maybe it's just too close to last season? Also, put me firmly on the team of hating the new stage. Ugh. It really annoyed me during the intros. Why change something that was working?! Ok, I'm done with complaining....

Just a little heads up that I'm feeling a bit under the weather and didn't have the mental capacity to think of snarky and whitty comments like Courtney and Rachel. What you'll find is a bunch of like, didn't like, fun, not as fun - real exciting stuff like that!

Of course tonight is another one of my least favorites - when the dancers share their partner's best and worst qualities. Anyone else find this annoying? It just seems too fake and staged. Feel free to comment if there was something that stood out, I'm not going to go into the specifics of what they said.

Here we go.....

Noel and Russell -Jamal Sims a new choreographer, hip hop - They are in tennis outfits, battling it out with tennis rackets. hmm? kind of a weird idea, but it was a fun routine and entertaining, not very exciting though. I would have liked to see something that could really showcase Russell. The judges say....Adam, make the big big, and the small small. Mary, thought Russell did better, Noel showed no weakness from previous injury, Nigel was disappointed, sounds ominous for Noel. I hated his crap about Russell doing well last week but being the bottom b/c the standard was so high. Really? Russell's performance was in the bottom two guys? Definitely not.

Ashleigh and Jakob, (Ok, I loved that he called out the sweat factor on both of them) Viennese Waltz with Tony and Melanie, can Jakob manage the lifts? OH no, is Ashleigh freaking out over that kiss? Pretty to watch. Love to watch Jakob jump. Very graceful and smooth. The judges say... Adam, loves them, I can't believe he called out the choreographers. Has anyone ever done that before? Mary, wants them to grow and sees them in the top 10. Nigel loves them both as well. I think the judges like Ashleigh more than America will.

Bianca and Victor - Tyce Diorio, Jazz, going for some Southern gospel soul. Another fun one, but not what I thought it would be, it was fast paced, but not exciting. The judges say... Adam thought they danced it well but it was too much dancing and not enough abandonment (that's the word I think they were going for) Mary and Nigel basically echoed him - good dancing, not great character.

Mollee and Nathan - Bollywood with Nakul Dev Mahajan - Liked the opening scene with the setting sun. crazy opening pirouette with Nathan, I'm more drawn to watching Nathan than Molly, she still seems like a little girl to me, sorry, don't dislike her as much though. The judges say....Adam loves them, loves seeing Mollee be still, did another great imitation of her. Mary and Nigel loved it and them.

Channing and Philip, Samba with Tony and Melanie, she looks uncomfortable, not coming naturally, the lifts seem slow and awkward, whose fault is that though? The judges say...Adam could tell they were struggling, who couldn't though?

Kevin and Karen, Hip hop with Tabitha and Napoleon. Wow, check out Karen's outfit - Courtney, perhaps you could make that for your Halloween costume next year? Not the style of hip hop I like best, I miss seeing Nappy Tab's softer side, but it was another fun (count 'em up, I use it every time, I must not have felt like forming actual opinions) one, definitely got some bumping and grinding going on! The judges say...Adam fell off his chair over Karin, Mary put them on the Hot Tamale Train, Nigel talked about how Karin moved and basically creeped us all out.

Legacy and Kathryn - Stacey Tookey, contemporary, yikes for Legacy, he struggled with this in Vegas. Legacy is winning me over, he just seems like a sweetheart. Ok, love this routine, his strength works so well with this number and is my favorite so far. I really like this partnership. The judges say... Adam is praising them and I keep waiting for Legacy to cry. Mary and Nigel loved it as well. Now back to me...Of course it reminded me of Addiction, but only in the concept, not in the choreography. I love that in the end she rose above her fears! These two are my favorites, so far they've rocked both numbers they've done.

Peter and Pauline -working with Wade (squeal of happiness) doing a piece on Van Gogh's starry night, becoming the discarded people coming back to haunt him. cool and funky, love seeing something different. The judges say...Adam praises their commitment, Mary liked it but her praise falls short, Nigel seemed to like Pauline better.

Ellenore and Ryan - Miriam and Leonardo choreograph an Argentine Tango - OH my!, her dress is caught on her heel, adding tension to the routine. Thank goodness it came free. The judges say...All three praised them for the dance, especially that they pulled it off with the warddrobe malfunction. Adam makes a crack about dancing in a dress, I find it funny, not sure about Mary and Nigel though.

I think it's interesting that they aren't picking the couples as a whole, but from them individually.

For the bottom 4, Matt and I guess Philip and Channing and Bianca and Viktor. I am suprised that Channing gets a pass over Noel, I thought she looked uncomfortable the whole time on stage. What on earth is Viktor wearing?!

Noel is in there, shouldn't be suprised with the way Nigel threatened her earlier.

Results...I am surprised that Bianca was cut so early, I really thought she'd stick around a bit longer.

Nigel pretty much gives it away when he starts off saying how hard this is....of course Philip is going. Nigel lets him go with nary an explanation. Now we find out that Philip's father just passed away, how sad and touching, the way Philip handled getting the boot made me like him for the first time. Wow, Cat just got teary eyed, give that lady an Emmy already, there really is not a better reality host!

Who are you liking/disliking? How do you feel about the judges decisions and their ability to get rid of whomever they want?

I am impressed if you were able to follow through that incoherent post - begin commenting....NOW!!!!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Halloween and a promised recipe

Matt was away this weekend so I was very thankful my parents came for a visit so they could trick or treat with us and watch the girls dance in church on Sunday. We are counting down the hours until Matt gets home, we all miss him very much, it was hard having him away during a weekend of big events.

I have to share a few Halloween pictures for you followed by the recipe I promised!

Ella made a beginning of the week decision from a movie star to a cowgirl. I have to say I think the cowgirl costume was much easier!
Catherine changed her mind from a crayon, to a butterfly, but when I spotted this costume at a friend's house I was able to convince her to be a Kangaroo. Isn't it the cutest ever?! Perfect for a rainy night, I don't think she ever felt wet!

My friend Rachel's husband Joe was with Matt at a conference all weekend, so she brought over her 4 month old baby Jacob to go trick or treating with us. He makes a great Superman!

We also were joined by Batman and Tinkerbell, AKA Wyatt and Jillian. I had to include this picture because I love how Rachel is holding Jacob, at first glance it looks like he's flying!

The whole group again. Check out Ella's boots. I found them on Craiglist and paid $5 for them and another pair of shoes in her size - score!It was a fun, but somewhat rainy night. After trick or treating around our block we went over to Renee's house to see her kids and collect some more candy, but at that point the rain really was starting to come down and the kids were losing it and we realized that no more candy was needed! I think Jillian was the star of the show, she walked as fast as her little legs could carry her and never complained and even when she was scared by someone handing out candy in a Burger King (actual King) costume, creepy mask and all, she just turned and quickly walked away. Can you imagine how my kids' reacted to that? It almost ruined the night for Catherine!
We were well fed heading out to trick or treat because we had enjoyed a yummy dinner that I promised I would share with you. I found this recipe years ago in Southern Living and everyone who's had it has loved it. It makes a ton, so it's great for guests or for using as leftovers (or freezing).
1 pound dried pinto beans
1 3 1/2 pound pork loin roast (doesn't have to be bone-in)
2 cans chopped green chilies
2 garlic cloves
1 T chili powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp gr. cumin
32 oz. box chicken broth
10 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chilies and cilantro and lime juice (really plain diced tomatoes work fine, I've never found the specific type it calls for)
Rinse and sort beans. Place beans in crock pot, add roast and add next 6 ingredients. Pour chicken broth evenly over the roast. To make it easier, I would suggest mixing the spices and garlic in a bowl the night before. That way in the morning you just can quickly dump everything in the crock pot in a few easy steps.
Cook on high one hour, reduce to low for 9 hours or remain on high 6 more hours. Shred pork into pieces (remove bone if there is one) and stir in diced tomatoes. Cook on high 1 more hour. It will be hard to wait until dinner time when you smell this cooking all day!
To serve, you can use taco salad shells and fill with shredded lettuce, top with pork mixture and additional topppings (halved cherry tomatoes, chopped avocado, sour cream, shredded cheese). We typically just put a bunch of tostito chips on a plate and then lettuce, pork, etc...
The great thing about this is that there are many ways you can serve it. Like I said, the above is the way we usually have it first. Leftovers might involve making it into quesadillas or tacos. Southern Living suggests serving it over cornbread or as an addition to huevos rancheros. Since Matt missed it the first night, we're having it again tonight and it doesn't really count as leftovers (at least not for him).


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