March 31, 2008
Easy and tasty chicken enchiladas
Not me! Vote for Summer! (or as Summer says, “chiminichangas.” What are chiminichangas anyway? I can’t get rid of the visual of Dick Van Dyke covered in soot, dancing with a blackened chimichanga). Napoleon Dynamite allusions aside, can I interest you in you some chicken enchiladas? My husband always recites those lines from Napoleon Dynamite, his favorite movie, whenever we eat enchiladas. Of course, enchiladas are not chimichangas, but it’s become a bit of a family tradition now. He grew up eating his Mexican father’s enchiladas and gave this recipe the thumbs up. It is filling, relatively quick and easy and can easily be made for under $10.
One Spicy Mama’s Chicken Enchiladas
2 1/2 C. cooked shredded chicken *
1-2 Tbs. sour cream (optional) **
4 oz. can of diced green chiles
4 oz. can of diced black olives
28 oz. can of enchilada sauce
2 C. shredded Mexican mix (or Monterey Jack) cheese
16 corn tortillas
2 Tbs. chopped cilantro (optional)
* I like to boil a whole roaster chicken for an hour or so, take out the chicken and let it cool. Discard the skin and bones and shred the chicken to use for recipes like chicken enchiladas, chicken and dumplings, a variety of chicken soups, and other chicken casseroles. Naturally, you want to save the broth for these and other recipes.
** My husband doesn’t care for the taste of sour cream in his enchiladas (“not authentic” is a kind way to rephrase it). I happen to like it and always sneak in a tablespoon. He hasn’t caught on yet.
Combine sour cream, green chiles, 1/2 of the black olives, 1 C. of the enchilada sauce, 1 C. of the cheese, salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.
Heat tortillas over gas range. This method will work if you are so unlucky as to have an electric range – the purpose is to make the tortillas pliable by heating them up. Frying also works, but adds a ton of unnecessary calories and makes the enchiladas very heavy and oily.
Put in 2-3 Tbs. of the chicken mixture into a tortilla.
Roll up and place seam on the bottom.
Fill 9 x 13 baking dish as shown:
Pour remainder of the enchilada sauce over the rolled tortillas. Sprinkle with the rest of the black olives and cheese.
Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro if desired.
March 29, 2008
Call me a Johnny-come-lately, or least a woman who just recently discovered Verizon FIOS’s movie package, but I watched the entire first season of Showtime’s The Tudors this past week. Now normally I watch television with tepid enthusiasm while folding laundry or to see what the talking heads are saying about the most recent political misstep (which seems to be quite often this election cycle). I was sucked into this often factually erroneous series due in part to eye candy like Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Henry Cavill, but due in even greater part to the sumptuous fabrics, gorgeous lighting and rich jewel tones.
I suppose I have more than a middling knowledge of Tudor history as I had already read Antonia Frasier’s entertaining biography The Wives of Henry VIII and Philippa Gregory’s mildly entertaining historical novel The Other Boleyn Girl (the movie adaptation featuring Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johanssen and Eric Bana in theaters now). I managed to pay little mind to the historical inaccuracies in the spirit of a good old-fashioned story, Hollywood-style. My suspension of disbelief was more than willing.
Season 2 of The Tudors begins tomorrow at 9 pm, in direct competition to the other period drama, HBO’s John Adams. Hmmm … Jonathan Rhys Meyers in tights or Paul Giamatti in a wig. Tough call. (Actually, it truly is a difficult decision – John Adams is by far better-written and better-acted. Thank goodness for On Demand.)
If costume dramas make you weak in the knees, this Tudor and Elizabethan costume album is a must see, complete with commentaries on the often anachronistic costumes in The Tudors. Needless to say, clothing and textiles of any era has always been a passion of mine. In a send up to overachieving stay-at-home moms everywhere, I researched and sewed these Halloween costumes several years ago (who knew I was such a trendsetter!) Hopefully, my son will manage to reach adulthood with his psyche unscathed by a mother who forced him to wear tights one Halloween.
Hans Holbein’s portrait of a young Edward VI, son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour.
March 28, 2008
My first grader came home with directions for her very first big school project. Nowadays, one would think the teacher would be asking for a multimedia PowerPoint presentation, a couple of digital pictures downloaded from the internet, interpretive dance perhaps? Apparently, what old is new – remember dioramas? You know, those flimsy shoeboxes filled with low-tech cardboard animals that bring back memories of plaid polyester pants and “Free to Be You and Me”? Those things you thought went the way of the Dodo bird, or at least, Betamax video tapes.
Handmade is the key, it seems, and the closer to nature is closer to the highest grade on the rubric. So off to the craft store we went, and eschewing those cool little pre-made trees and plastic animals, we headed straight for the modeling clay and pipe cleaners. In what was proving to be a more difficult endeavor, we managed to find an old shoebox hidden deep in the bowels of my closet since any cardboard boxes that enter our house get recycled immediately.
My daughter chose to do a desert scene, and after a trip to the beach to get some sand, we were truly ready to start (ok, I know they sell sand at the craft store, but any excuse to go to the beach – even in 40 degree weather). A little search on the internet for desert animals and H. was ready to start her career as the next Rodin. (Just a word to the wise – when searching Yahoo Images for camels, you might want to have your child leave the room. Apparently, “camel toe” is much more highly searched for than plain old “camels.”)
The final product. Hopefully she will be able to pass the oral defense portion of the project.
March 25, 2008
Here in Zone 6, one should plant one’s cool weather vegetables on or around St. Patricks Day. In the 7 years I’ve been gardening, I have only managed to plant on March 17th just once (the first year). It was always downright arctic at the time or there was some other event needing my attention. This year, I’m proud that we’ve managed to attend to our garden only a week after downing our annual corned beef and cabbage.
Vegetable gardening is a wonderful way to get your children involved in an activity that has a tangible and edible reward for their efforts. I do recommend raised beds for gardening, but a small sunny patch on your property would certainly do the trick. I do two plantings – one in early spring for cool weather vegetables like peas, broccoli, green beans, and lettuces, and one after the danger of frost (Mother’s Day around here) for warm weather vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and squash.
Here’s our sad looking raised beds after a winter of being neglected.
You want to first clean up our garden and pick out old leaves and in our case, the pricker balls from a sweet gum tree. Feed your garden with compost and a fertilizer (I use Garden-tone). Work it into the soil (get those kids working!)
I don’t always plant the same things, but this year we planted peas (my kids’ absolute favorite), mesclun mix and broccoli.
Plant seeds according to directions on packet. Peas are especially easy for little hands to plant since all they have to do is push those peas down about 2 inches.
Peas and beans do grow quite tall (remember Jack and the Beanstalk?), so you do need to supply a trellis or stakes to support the stalks. I take the tallest stakes I can find at the gardening center and connect them with green wire every 5-6 inches or so.
Lettuces and broccoli have very small seeds and need to be planted very shallowly. This is probably best be done by an adult (otherwise, you will find lettuce growing in places you don’t want).
Water with a watering can (I find a hose is too strong for such shallowly planted seeds) and watch your garden grow! By early June, your children should be popping open those pea pods and gobbling up raw peas like they were candy!