26 April 2011

Mexican meh -- Chicken Enchiladas with Red Chiles & Cheese

I love Mexican food.  Capital-L Love.  Chile rellenos, enchiladas, guacamole, nachos, you name it, I love it.  I've perfected a few recipes to make at home -- carnitas, Chipotle-inspired soft tacos and burritos, refried black beans -- but I am still trying to make enchiladas that are as good as our local hole-in-the-wall for those nights hauling 3 kids out to dinner just isn't going to happen.

Thanks to Pinterest , I found this Rick Bayless-inspired recipe on Elly's blog and decided to try it out.  After all, Rick Bayless is (at least according to my impression watching Top Chef Masters ) the go-to dude for accessible Mexican recipes.  I should've known not to trust a white guy with a soul patch.  *shakes head sadly*

Anyway, the original recipe and Elly's adjustments are on her blog.  Here's what I used:

*6 medium-size dried guajillo chiles, stems removed
*4 cloves garlic
*1 28-oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes and their juice
*1/4 tsp. ground cumin
*1 tsp. ground black pepper
*1 cup chicken broth
*3 shredded chicken breasts
*1/2 white onion, plus a bit diced for garnish
*10 corn tortillas
*4 oz. shredded Oaxaca cheese
*diced avocado for garnish

First, I seasoned the chicken breasts with salt & pepper, granulated garlic, and oregano and roasted them at 375 for 30 minutes.

I toasted the dried chiles in a dry saucepan over medium heat and flattened them with a spatula a couple of times, then chucked those, the garlic, the tomatoes, the cumin & pepper into my food processor and blended until it was smooth.  I pressed it through a fine sieve and put it on medium heat to reduce.
When it was about the consistency of tomato paste I added the chicken broth.

While the sauce simmered, I set the oven to preheat to 350 and put the tortillas in to warm.  After about 10 minutes, I poured about a cup of the sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 glass pan and mixed about 1/2 cup of sauce into the shredded chicken.
To assemble the enchiladas, I dipped both sides of a warmed tortilla into the remaining sauce, then filled it with chicken, rolled it, and placed seam-side down in the pan.  Once they were all assembled, I poured the remaining sauce over them, sprinkled the cheese on and popped it in the oven for 15 minutes.

Overall, this dish was OK.  It wasn't quite hole-in-the-wall good, but it was decent, and Darling Husband really liked it.  The sauce, even though I added two more chiles, two more cloves of garlic & the onion *and* left out the sugar that Bayless' original recipe calls for, was kind of bizarrely sweet.  If I try this recipe again, I'd like to try it with plain tomatoes to see if that makes any difference.

If anyone has a fabulous enchilada recipe, please share!
Linking to Handmade Tuesdays at Ladybug Blessings , Tasty Tuesdays at 33 Shades of Green and What I Made Wednesday at Sweet Peas & Bumblebees !

25 April 2011

Goalposts: The Obvious Edition

Last week I laid out some of the goals I'm hoping to hold myself accountable to.  First up?

A Cleaning Schedule That Involves the Kids.
I spent a lot of time this weekend thinking about how I envision the house looking, what makes things easier for me, what age-appropriate chores the kids can help with, and how much (or little, in the interest of honesty) time I'm willing to devote to cleaning.  Here's what I came up with:

*I envision the house looking like something out of a magazine.  However, I loathe cleaning.  While the two aren't mutually exclusive, they are at odds.  Add 3 kids, a cat that sheds tumbleweed-sized fur balls and a desire to spend no more than 30 minutes per day cleaning, and the first thing I need to do is lower my expectations and don't let the desire for perfection get in the way of just getting something done.  

*Thinking about what makes things easier for me led directly to my list of chores to do every day:
     *putting the kitchen to rights (loading dishes, wiping 
       counters, putting away placemats, getting the coffee 
       maker ready for the next morning) every night.
     *scooping the cat box (on Wednesdays, change the litter 
       completely since trash day is Thursday)
     *clean off my side table (next to the couch)
     *take recycling out to bins.

*I am extremely lucky to have a cleaning dude twice a month (best birthday/Christmas present EVER, mom!).  Because of that, my list of chores to do weekly is pretty short:
     *vacuum tv room twice a week
     *vacuum rest of house
     *change sheets on beds
     *change towels in kitchen & bathrooms
     *water plants (inside & out)
     *laundry:  Z, the girls, mine, sheets & towels
       (darling husband does his own)
     *wipe down bathrooms

*The girls (5 and 3) can most definitely help with keeping things clean.  As Z gets older he'll be expected to help, too, for now we'll model picking up toys after we're done playing.  We tried breaking down chores between AJ and Ellie, and usually ended up with "but I wanted to do that!", or "but why do I have to do my chore now and she doesn't?"  So for now, the chore belongs to both of them (especially since they'll need supervision).  Their chores:
     *put away placemats & take napkins down to laundry
     *wipe off table after meals
     *take recycling out to bins
     *water outside plants

Right now I am writing the list down in my dayplanner so I can make changes as we start out, but eventually I want to have a checklist with daily and weekly chores.  For the girls, they each have a dry-erase chore chart like this:
This is what the lists look like broken down:

You can see on the bottom my meal plan for the week.  Which brings me to my second goal:  get 5 fruits and vegetables every day.  Thanks to the stomach bug the kids all shared last week, I've mainly been concentrating on my eating.  It quickly became apparent that in order to get 5 servings in, I need to actually feed myself.  In other breaking news, water is wet, and fire is hot.
Seriously, though, there are too many days when all I've had is coffee for breakfast, yoghurt or a granola bar or a couple bites of the kids' PB&J for lunch, and then I'm cranky and craving chocolate and not carrots.  So in addition to planning out the dinner vegetables, I'm making an effort to have something in the morning.  My favourite so far?  A green smoothie!
There are tons of links to recipes online, but I've kind of winged it with the stuff I've got in the fridge and I haven't been disappointed yet.  A little milk, some strawberries, blueberries, or banana, a big handful of kale and a couple of ice cubes (to make it frothy), et voila! My only issue is with our POS ancient blender, but I'm adding this to my wish list -- supposedly as good as a Vitamix yet $400 cheaper!

Later this week I'm going to share how we're trying to incorporate the other 5 things -- time to create, be outdoors, learn, exercise & clean into our schedules.  I'd love to hear what goals your family has & how you're working towards them!

24 April 2011

Easter Run-Down

This Easter, we had a bit of ham, thanks to AJ.

Ellie, who is still not feeling 100% after being sick this week, provided some w(h)ine.

And Z just gave us his big sad face when he was more than a few inches away from Mama.

We did do a bit of crafting -- the girls cut out Easter eggs and butterflies from sheet foam and went to town with glitter glue and stickers, and I borrowed their thumbs to make "Hoppy Easter" cards (thanks for the inspiration, Sarahndipities !).
Hope everyone had a wonderful day!

I'm linking to Everything But the Kitchen Sink at A Little Knick Knack , Weekend Wrapup at Tatertots and Jello , What'cha Got Weekend at lollyjane boutique and Make Something Mondays at Sarahndipities today!

20 April 2011

Spring Crafty Show-Off

Inspired by the rest of the blogosphere, I decided the house needed a bit of "Spring-ing Up."  This wreath is now hanging on the (always open) door to our basement.

Here's a close up of the fabric & felt flowers:

This was ridiculously easy to make!  I picked up a straw wreath form at my local craft mecca and broke out the glue gun.  I've seen some that used strips of burlap to cover the wreath, but craft mecca didn't have any, so I used similarly-textured brown ribbon and hot glued it in place.
Then came the fun part!  There are lots of tutorials on how to make rolled fabric flowers and felt rosettes, I followed those and then clipped a few felt leaves.  A few more dabs of hot glue, a ribbon to hang it, and now we have a little touch of spring!
I may or may not also now have an addiction to making these flowers.  They're super cute -- they can fancy up jewelry, clothes, even a lampshade -- I'm thinking this would go so well in AJ's shabby-chic-ish bedroom.
I'm linking up this post to Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style , Nifty Thrifty Tuesday at Coastal Charm , What I Made Wednesday at SweetPeas & BumblebeesCatch a Glimpse Thursday at A Glimpse Inside , Handmade Tuesday at Ladybug Blessings , Saturday Spotlight at Green Door Designs and Creative Juice Thursdays at Momnivore's Dilemma.  I'd love to know what you think!

It's All in the Journey, Right?

We are still mostly laid up.  Ellie now has the stomach bug, I am still breathing-challenged, and AJ & Z. are in the whiny-wounded-tiger stage, where they want nothing more than to be on my lap constantly and react to any of my suggestions for feeling better with growls and tears.

So, where do we go from here?

Besides the obvious get-to-the-point-we-can-leave-the-house-again, I've broken up all my wishes & wants into 3 categories:  the home, the family, and the mama.  I fully expect these to evolve over time (hopefully as goals are achieved!), and I'm trying to not set us up for failure by radically changing a bunch of things overnight.

The Home
Most of the time our house is in a state of CHAOS -- Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome (to borrow a phrase from FlyLady).  Darling Husband and I are constitutionally rather disorganized & dislike cleaning, so we do what's necessary (dishes, taking out the trash), but have no routine.  We haven't gotten the kids involved beyond the occasional "please take your plate to the sink" or "let's pick up all the legos before bed", and most of our stuff doesn't have a particular place to go.  The goal here is to set up a cleaning schedule and get the kids involved.

The Family
 Recently on Say Yes to Hoboken, Liz wrote something that resonated with me:  everyone needs 5 things every day -- time to be creative, time to be outdoors, time for learning, time for exercise, and time for cleaning.  I can't remember the last time we got all 5 in.  Another part of this is our nutrition.  When I mentioned an appalling lack of vegetables in many of our meals in my introductory post, I wasn't kidding.  Fruit, too.  So I'm calling this goal get 5 squared every day -- 5 fruits or vegetables for everyone, and the 5 times for creating, being outdoors, learning, exercising, and cleaning.

The Mama  (that'd be me)
Save for a couple of short-term projects, I haven't worked since AJ was born 5 1/2 years ago.  I am a lawyer by training, but I've let my skills lapse.  I don't have any immediate plans to return to work, but I have been feeling that my brain cells are starting to atrophy.  Plus, in order to keep my license (and I don't fancy taking the bar exam again), I need to take some continuing education classes.  My goal is completing my CLE classes before the end of the year.

I'd love to hear what goals you have, or suggestions on how you've accomplished similar things!

18 April 2011

Here We Go!

I'm Erin.  I'm currently a stay-at-home-mom to 3 littles.  My oldest daughter AJ is 5, Ellie is 3, and my boy Z. is 16 months.  I spend most of my time wrangling them, but I also have a bad case of the "crafties."  I knit, sew, scrapbook, and am always improving things & decorating around the house.
So why am I blogging (besides wanting to share my crafty results with someone besides my bemused darling husband)?
We've had quite a trying season around here.  At least one of the 5 of us has been sick continually since October; currently, AJ and Z are both recovering from stomach flu and I've been waylaid by pneumonia.  A few things need to change around here -- things are messy & disorganized, we watch WAY too much tv, and there is an appalling lack of vegetables in many of our meals.
"Molior familiae" translates to "building the family", and that's what I'll be blogging about -- building new routines, healthy habits, home improvements, family projects.
I'd love to have you join in on the journey!  If you want to get email updates or notification of new posts, there are subscription options in the sidebar.  I welcome comments, questions and suggestions, too, just click "email me" or the "comment" link under any post.