Monday, April 25, 2011

Easy Chicken Enchiladas

About a week ago, I mentioned to my husband that I had found some frozen chicken breasts in the freezer that I did not know we had.  (It pays to clean out the freezer!)  I asked if there were any chicken dishes that he wanted me to cook, and the first words out of his mouth were "chicken enchiladas."

I panicked...there's a reason I haven't made enchiladas in over two years.  Every time I make enchiladas I've used a different recipe.  I know chicken enchiladas are usually cooked in a white chile sauce, but my first exposure to them was in a red sauce and they were really good.  I've since lost that recipe, although I know the basics, and in the past I have searched recipes and tried white sauces as well.  Basically, I don't have a standard enchilada recipe (and some can be quite time consuming), so you never know what you're going to get or how it's going to turn out.   

So, I had the basics...chicken, flour tortillas, and cheese.  I just had to figure out how to mix it all together.  I really couldn't decide whether to go with a white or red sauce, so I decided to do both, with the help of Old El Paso.

I cut two chicken breasts into bite size pieces and then sauteed them in butter, with some garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper and onions.  When the chicken was cooked, I added about 1/2 can of the green chile sauce (I was conservative with it, not wanting it to overpower the chicken.  I could have used the whole can), about a cup (two handfuls) of cheddar cheese and some chopped cilantro and mixed it all together, until the cheese melted.  Monterey Jack or a Cheddar/Jack combo would work too.  You could probably add some sour cream in this step as well, but you won't find that at this house!

I then added about a 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture to the middle of a flour tortilla and rolled it up, placing seam side down in a casserole dish.  It made 10 enchiladas, which was plenty for us for dinner as well as my husband's lunch the next day.  I used 3 corn tortillas and 7 flour tortillas to compare the two, but found that the corn tortillas cracked easily when trying to fold them.

I topped the enchiladas with the red enchilada sauce as well as more cheddar cheese and then baked in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes (until Ezra got home).  I served them with homemade guacamole and salsa. 

Overall, my husband and I liked them very much, and this was much easier than making a white sauce from scratch.  My three big kids weren't so thrilled, but they did eat the chicken filling without complaint (in order to get an after-dinner treat), as well as chips, salsa, and guacamole.  Charlie, however, ate every bite....chicken, tortilla, salsa, & guacamole.....He's my kind of kid.  :)  Maybe now that I have the recipe documented, I'll be able to serve this favorite of my husband's more often than every 2 years. 

Friday, April 15, 2011


One year.  It's amazing what can happen in just one short year.

We have gone from this....

To this....

It's hard to believe that we waited on the Lord's timing for a year before discovering the joy of new life that he had blessed us with.  And now, that sweet baby boy is a year old, and it seems to have happened oh so fast.

At one year, Charlie is
  • Drinking whole milk.  He never flinched between the transition from breastmilk to formula or between formula and milk.  Easy as pie.
  • Continuing to sleep 11-12 hours at night
  • Continuing to take 2 naps a day
  • Eating more table food.  I can't remember the last time he ate baby food.  He eats a little of everything that we eat, excluding steak.  Some of his favorites include crackers, eggs, chili, and hot dogs.
  • Scooting/crawling.  It seems like in just the past week each new day has brought new adventures for Charlie.  He has gone from rotating in a circle on the floor, to pushing backwards, to pulling himself forward on his belly, army style.  He can also scoot short distances sitting up, similar to his big sister's method.  He's not quite up to speed with his bigger siblings, and that's one thing Mama is thankful for.
  • Pulling himself to a sitting position.  I've never actually witnessed this accomplishment, but for 3 days in a row, when I have gone to get him up from a nap, he has been sitting up in bed.  Once he even had his hands holding onto the crib rails and pulled up on his knees.  It won't be long.
  • Saying "Da Da" and "Ma Ma"
  • Continuing to dislike bathtime.  
  • Enjoying being outside and is often content to sit in the stroller and watch his big brother practice baseball.  Yet when we are actually at the ballpark watching a game, he becomes bored in the stroller very quickly unless he has snacks.
  • Loved so much by his family.  He is often the center of attention and his bigger siblings often share bites of their meals/snacks with him, and he is often hauled down the hallway by his big sister to her bedroom to play "house."
It is such a blessing to have this little man in our lives.  He is a happy baby and his smile melts my heart.  Thank you Lord for our sweet Charlie!

Monday, April 11, 2011

How does your garden grow?

It's the middle of April, and that means one thing here on the farm....Planting Season!

Of course, the middle of April also brings to mind other important events such as the tax season deadline, and more importantly, the upcoming birthday of my youngest son.....more on that soon.

Usually in March (or sometimes February) with our first glimpse of warm, spring weather, I get excited and start making a "garden plan" including what seeds/plants to buy and how much as well as sitting down with my engineering husband to draw out the garden plan and where to plant everything.  I might even go ahead and buy the seeds to have at the house, but we know to wait patiently for about another month before planting because we have been known to get a mid-April frost (and we've lost garden plants in the past due to it).

Well, this year was a little different.  It might have something to do with the busyness of life involved with 4 little ones at home, a 5th one on the way, homeschooling, and new to us this year, baseball.  I had hardly given the garden a moment's thought and suddenly it's the middle of April!  Yes, I noticed that my father-in-law had plowed the garden and that he had already planted onions and tomatoes in his own garden, but I still thought we had plenty of time.  Then I looked at my husband's upcoming work schedule and my oldest son's upcoming baseball schedule....and I panicked!  I was looking at 2 available weekends to get the garden of which involved both my mother-in-law and baby's birthday celebrations and the other involved my husband working part of the weekend, a baseball game, Easter Egg Hunt and Easter Sunday/lunch.  After Easter weekend there would be no available weekends for my husband to be able to help until the end of May. 

So, instead of planning and discussing the garden for weeks, I called my husband at work one morning and quickly discussed what seeds to buy before heading out to the co-op that afternoon.  We (and by "we" I mean "he") then spent Saturday and Sunday evenings preparing the soil.  With the strong chance of rain later this afternoon, we wanted to at least get the corn in the ground before the rain.  That left me and my father-in-law and 6 children (2 of them were my nieces) with the task of planting 2lbs of corn seed.  He decided at 6:20 this morning that he was ready to start and was in our backyard, calling us on the phone to wake us up let us know he was ready.  After pulling 4 sleepy heads out of bed and finding a quick breakfast to stuff into them as they headed outside (peanut butter and jelly counts, right?), we began. 

The bare, empty garden

The morning went something like this....
1.  Father-in-law measures 30" from edge of garden and then hammers in two stakes with a string tied between them to mark the row.

2.  My 13 year old niece and I each start at one end of the row hoeing a trench 3 inches deep. 

3.  My 7 and 5 year olds start dropping corn seeds into the trench 4-6 inches apart (we hope) while I follow behind filling in gaps as necessary and separating clumps of seeds that all fell in one place.

4.  My father-in-law walks behind us, using his feet to cover over the seeds and trench with loose soil.

5.  We measure 30" over to start a new row and move the stakes/string to begin the process again.

Repeat 10 times.

Hard at work

If you look carefully, you can see the seeds

His official job.....staying out of trouble

Good help is hard to we birth 'em and start 'em young

You do taste-test your soil first, right?

Less than three hours later, we were finished.  11 rows, 100ft long each, planted in silver queen corn. 

Next up....squash, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, pumpkin, and okra.