Friday, January 30, 2009

Chicken Enchiladas Suizas

Friday night has recently become my night for trying new recipes. I don't have to be in a hurry and if it takes longer to make the recipe than I estimate, that's OK. We aren't on a schedule. We had the BEST chicken enchiladas for supper tonight. They sort of remind me of the chicken burrito at On The Border. I found the recipe at Allrecipes (love that website). Here it is:


* 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
* 1 tablespoon butter
* 1 cup chopped onion
* 1 green bell pepper, chopped
* 1 red bell pepper, chopped (I left this out because I didn't have one)
* 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
* 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chile peppers
* 1 cup green salsa
* 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
* 4 teaspoons ground cumin
* 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
* salt and ground black pepper to taste
* 12 (7 inch) flour tortillas
* 10 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese
* 1 cup whipping cream
* 1/2 cup chicken broth


1. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a rapid boil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the boiling water; cover. Cook 15 to 20 minutes; drain and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 10x15 baking dish.
3. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the onion, green bell pepper, and red bell pepper in the melted butter until just soft, 5 to 8 minutes; transfer to a large bowl. Add the chicken, Cheddar cheese, green chile peppers, salsa, cilantro, cumin, and chipotle peppers to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper; mix.
4. Place about 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture along the edge of a tortilla; roll tightly into a tube. Place the enchilada, seam-side down, into the prepared baking dish. Repeat until all the chicken mixture is used. Sprinkle Monterrey Jack cheese over the enchiladas. Whisk together the whipping cream and chicken broth in a small bowl; pour over the enchiladas. Cover the dish with aluminum foil.
5. Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until cheese is completely melted, about 10 minutes.

Everybody loved it. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Make a Mosiac

As you can see, I don't have a window over my kitchen sink (I do have a large bay window in the table area of the kitchen). When we first moved in I had a huge wreath hanging over the sink. I never really liked it, but didn't know what else would go in such a large space.

One day, I visited a gorgeous home that had a professionally done mosaic style back splash in the kitchen made with pieces of blue and white dishes as tiles and I just fell in love with it. I decided to replicate it on a much smaller scale in DIY fashion.

First, I had to gather the dishes (it took more dishes than you might think). I decided to use one and only one of my beloved Blue Willow plates as the focal point of the mosaic, but I wasn't about to break more than I absolutely had to. The great part was that since I was going to break the plates anyway, I could buy the chipped and broken pieces on clearance. I got a couple of chipped plates on clearance at T.J. Maxx and I also bought a service for four of blue and white dishes at Target. The set was already on clearance, but I noticed that one of the plates was broken inside the box. I asked the checker if she could mark it down even further and pointed out the broken plate. I got the entire set for $6! I found the small blue "outline" tiles on clearance at Home Depot. I think they were being discontinued.

Next, my brother helped me cut a large piece of plywood to fit between the cabinets. I didn't want the mosaic to be permanent. We have no intention of moving, but you never know. Plus it was easier to make the mosaic while the plywood was laying flat and then fit it into place rather than doing it directly on the wall.

I broke the plates with a hammer (be sure and wear safety glasses if you do this). I had to hit them harder than I thought. I thought I could just tap them and they would break, but it actually took a little force. I put the plates in a pillowcase (that wound up cut to ribbons) and broke them on the front porch. Poor Mike thought I had lost my mind (and not for the first time I'm sure) when he came home and found me breaking plates on the porch with a hammer.

Then all I had to do was spread tile mastic on the plywood with a trowel and arrange the tiles like I wanted. I didn't even grout it afterward (although I probably should have). Once it was good and dry I nailed it into place and it's been there ever since. I love it and I think it adds a lot of character to my kitchen. I get lots of compliments on it. By the way, you can click on the picture to view it larger.

If you have a project that you want to try, go for it. If I can do it, so can you! :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

At Least It's Cozy Inside

This is the tree in my front yard. It is miserably cold and icy outside. Nice and cozy in the house though. I made cookies, got all my dusting and vacuuming done, and now the tea kettle is boiling so I can relax for a few minutes.

I have to get out in the weather soon to drive carpool and I'm so not looking forward to it. Six kids, three schools and icy roads...not a fun combination. I want to curl up on the couch with a book and my knitting and not leave the house until it warms up.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today (January 26th)

Outside my window... It's cloudy, quiet and COLD! I'm not a fan of 21 degree weather.

I am thinking...About starting a fire in the fireplace. I usually save the firewood for when Mike and the kids are home, but it would be so cozy on such a dreary day.

I am thankful for...being healthy and active enough to take care of my home and family.

From the kitchen...chicken enchiladas for supper and hopefully some baking.

I am wearing...A super thick and soft pink sweater, jeans and thick woolly socks.

I am reading... Re-reading one of my Betty Neels novels. They are so sweet and homey.

I am hoping...that we don't really have the "freezing drizzle" that the weatherman is calling for. Driving on icy roads completely freaks me out. Mike will just have to take the kids to school tomorrow if it's icy.

I am creating...Still working on my rainy day scarf.

I am hearing...Billie Holiday singing "On the Sunny Side of the Street".

Around the house...washing sheets and cleaning the laundry room.

One of my favorite things...The sight of my daffodils just beginning to push up out of the cold ground. Spring IS coming! :)

A few plans for the rest of the week... planning the upcoming school bake sale, returning library books (maybe by writing it here I'll remember), and hopefully some cozy evenings in front of the fire.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

Greg took this picture and I like it. Ranches and farms are common sights around here.

Find more Daybook entries at The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Friday, January 23, 2009

How to Knit

I've had some requests for knitting instructions. I taught myself how to knit from a book. If you don't know anyone who knits, you can check out a knitting book from the library or you can learn from videos. Sometimes it's easier to learn from actually watching someone knit in person or on a video than learning from a book.

I found a couple of knitting videos for you that might be helpful.

This video is all about the different types of yarns available. Hobby Lobby often has yarn for half price and Wal-Mart sometimes has yarn on clearance. I've even found some nice yarn at Dollar Tree. Knitting does not have to be an expensive hobby and you can make some really nice hand made gifts.

This video shows how to cast on. It's the first step in knitting.

This one shows how to make the basic knit stitch.

Hopefully this will get you started. Remember that it takes practice. I made LOTS of mistakes as I was first starting out and still do. Just keep with it. After a while your hands will be making that knit stitch without you even having to think about it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I thought you might want to see the progress I've made on the rainy day scarf that I started on the 14th when I shared A Day in My Life. I haven't been able to devote any large blocks of time to knitting, but it is coming along nicely. I love the wavy pattern and it's a lot of fun to knit.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The commonplace

"It is the treating of the commonplace with the feeling of the sublime that gives to art its true power."
-Jean-Francois Millet

And the same goes for homemaking, don't you think?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Household Organization

American Housewife Marjorie McWeeney Cleaning House and Watching Her Children by Nina Leen
American Housewife

Some of my key organization tools are my notebooks and my small calendar that I carry in my purse. January always seems like a great time for re-evaluating so I've been thinking about how these tools are working for me. There's no point in continuing to use a tool that is no longer the best fit for my life.

I've realized that I don't use the calendar in my notebook at all, I only use the one in my purse. I write things in it while I'm out. For example, when the kids were at the dentist last week, I made appointments for the 2 who need cavities filled, and for the next round of cleanings. I immediately wrote them in my calendar. I do the same when I'm at a PTA meeting or at church. I just pull out my calendar and write everything down immediately. That way I don't have to keep up with those little cards from the dentist, the PTA newsletter and the church bulletin.

I still use my menu notebook when planning my week's menu and making my shopping list and I store important receipts and tax documents in my household notebook. I was using the budget section every month until I started using for that. I love that mint can track our spending trends and give us averages of our utilities, grocery spending, gas spending, you name it.

Now that I have my duct-taped, been to Iraq and back laptop courtesy of Greg, :) I am finding it so much easier to do things online, so I have been looking at online organizers. I have played around with several. I have looked at, Cozi, and Springpad. They each have some really neat features. I think my favorite so far is Springpad because it is very customizable and is basically an online notebook. I also love that I can have it email me reminders of certain events or tasks. It also has a place for my weekly meal plan, favorite recipes (no more printing recipes from various websites, I can just put them on my Springpad), diary, shopping lists, and pretty much anything else you can think of. I'm on the computer a lot (maybe too much? don't answer that!), so it's easy to open up my Springpad and enter information from my calendar, enter a recipe or plan a menu. It even has a pantry inventory to help with planning menus.

I don't plan on giving up my old notebooks and I'll continue to carry a calendar in my purse, but I think the majority of my planning, budgeting and organizing will now be done digitally.

Have you made the leap to digital organizing? Why or why not?

By the way, I was not asked to review any of these online organizers. This is just meant to be helpful information for you.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pasta and Italian Meat Sauce

This is an easy recipe that I make time after time. My family loves it. It's from the January/February 2003 issue of Martha Stewart's Everday Food and is an adaptation of Ragu alla Bolognese (sauce in the style of Bologna). I changed it up slightly.

4 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 carrot, grated (about 1/2 cup)
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 pound ground beef
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup milk
1 dried bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
salt and pepper
1 pound fettuccine
grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Heat the butter and oil in a large pan.

Stir in the carrot, onion, and garlic.

Add the ground beef and cook until it is browned.

Add the tomatoes and their liquid. Stir in the milk, bayleaf, thyme, nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Simmer 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the fettuccine until al dente. Drain the fettuccine and return to warm pot. Add meat sauce and toss. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan and with crusty bread.

Now clean your plate! :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Le Menu

Sidewalk Cafe Menu, Paris, France by Lisa Engelbrecht
Sidewalk Cafe Menu, Paris, France

I took French in college and I just think "Le Menu" makes my plain old menu sound so much better. :)

I'll be back with A Day in My Life tonight, but I want to share my menu for the week with you. Part of my "to-do" list for the day includes grocery shopping. By the way, my mom brought me lots of ground beef from their ranch (plus it's organic and grass fed) so we can eat lots of ground beef dishes this month.

Ragu alla Bolognese (I'll share the recipe later. It's really fettuccine with meat sauce)
Frito Pie (a Texas favorite)
Beans and Cornbread
Chicken strips with mashed potatoes, corn and gravy
Burritos with Spanish rice
BBQ chicken drumsticks
Pasta salad with chicken (or turkey)

Homemade pizza
Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches (probably potato soup or turkey noodle soup)
PB&J sandwiches
Tuna salad sandwiches
Mac & Cheese with tuna

Baked oatmeal
Bacon, eggs, and biscuits
Some of these will be repeated through the week.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Curried Split Pea Soup and Naan

I am loving my new crock pot, so here is another recipe for you. :) It's healthy and yummy (great combination).

Rinse a 16 oz. package of dry split peas.

Add split peas, 1 pound sliced mushrooms (I used baby portabellas), and a bay leaf to slow cooker.

Peel 2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes, and add to slow cooker.

Slice 3 green onions (and of course add them to the slow cooker as well).

1 14 oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
2 - 3 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (less if you like things mild - this was fine for my kids, but they like spicy)
salt and pepper to taste

Pour 4 cups chicken broth over all (you can use vegetable broth is you want to keep it vegetarian).

Add 2 cups water and stir

Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours. Sprinkle with snipped fresh basil if desired.

I made naan for the first time to go with it (using this recipe). I didn't have a grill, so I used my cast iron skillet like when I make tortillas. Didn't look all that great, but tasted really good! :)

I made a pdf of this recipe thinking that would be so much more helpful for you to just download and print. Only problem is I don't know how to post it! Any ideas?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Banana French Toast

This is what I made for breakfast this morning and it was SO good. I used homemade bread and bananas are cheap so even though I haven't worked out the exact cost I'm thinking it was pretty minimal.

4 eggs (I only have 2 showing in the picture)
1/2 cup milk
2 bananas, cut into chunks
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 Tablespoon oil
Sliced bread

In a blender, combine all ingredients except bread. Blend until smooth and pour into a pie pan.

Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat until hot. I recommend non-stick for this recipe. Soak bread in the banana mixture, turning to coat both sides.

Place bread in the skillet. Cook 5 to 7 minutes until golden brown, turning once.

Serve with additional sliced bananas, powdered sugar and maple syrup.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Tex-Mex Dinner

In honor of my new Crock-Pot I am sharing my first Crock-Pot recipe of 2009. :) I have a feeling there will be many more to follow.

Mix together:
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten

Stir in:
1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
1 pkg. chili seasoning mix (my favorite is William's)
1 teaspoon salt

I can diced tomatoes (14 1/2 oz.)
1 can corn, drained (15 1/4 OZ.)
1 can sliced black olives, drained (2 1/4 oz.)

Spoon mixture into slow cooker. Isn't my new Crock-Pot cute? It's red!

Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours. Sprinkle with 8 oz. package of shredded Mexican blend cheese and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Serves 6.

My husband said this reminds him of a tamale. I'm sure I'll be making it again. It tastes good AND it's economical! My kind of recipe. :)