Thursday, August 28, 2014

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

It's no secret that The Maestro does most of the dinner cooking around here. But I have a few signature meals I make, too, and these enchiladas are one of them. In fact, I'm pretty sure that they are the highest requested birthday meal in our household. Sophia, who had the most recent birthday, requested them for her birthday dinner and so I thought I'd share the recipe with you today.

(I was forward thinking and took photos, but people were impatiently waiting to eat it and so I have exactly zero photos of what it looks like dished up on a plate.)

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas. A simple recipe with only six ingredients that your family will love! Easy gluten-free adaptation, too.

Because we are a gluten-free household, and especially because Sophia is the one with Celiac, I adapted the recipe to be gluten-free. When I made these in October for Bria's birthday, I found out the hard way that most enchilada sauces conatain wheat. I have included the gluten-free adaptions here, but it is easy enough to make it normally (easier, probably).

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Ingredients:

5-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
12-15 flour tortillas (I use Food for Life brand GF Brown Rice Tortillas to substitute)
1 block cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 white onion, diced
1 large can green chile enchilada sauce (La Victoria brand is gluten-free)
1 16 oz block monterey jack cheese, grated

Directions:

Cook the chicken breasts in a crock pot on low for about 4 hours. Let cool a while, then shred thoroughly.

Shred your chicken in the KitchenAid!

I actually use my Kitchen Aid mixer to shred my chicken. Shredding the chicken was always the absolute worst part of making this meal until I learned this trick. It has changed my life! Throw your cooked chicken breasts into the mixing bowl and using the paddle attachment, "mix" the chicken on a lower speed for about 30 seconds. That's all it takes!

Time saving kitcehn tip--Shred your chicken in the KitchenAid.

And, voila! You have shredded chicken. In 30 seconds. What once used to take me up to 20 minutes to shred properly now only takes 30 seconds. I'm still absolutely delighted by this fact.

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Add cream cheese, sour cream, and diced onion to shredded chicken and mix well. I just continue doing it in the Kitchen Aid since the chicken is already in there. If you want your enchiladas to be spicier, you could add some actual green chiles to the mix, too. I have done this before, but my children prefer it without. The chiles also add a bit of color to all the whiteness.

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Fill tortillas with a couple spoonfuls of the chicken mixture, roll up and place in 9x13 casserole dish. I like to fill mine up pretty full, but you'll have to gauge how much of the chicken mixture you have to how many tortillas you can fit in your casserole dish.  Sometimes some of the rolls are definitely more full than others.

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Pour enchilada sauce over tortillas, covering thoroughly.

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Top with grated monterey jack cheese. Bake at 350 for approximately 45 minutes or until cheese begins to brown.

Gluten-free Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

I usually serve these enchiladas with a green salad and some sort of corn dish on the side. They are incredibly filling though, so you don't need much to go with them.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does!
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Front Door Makeover

The problem with living in a very old house is that the list of improvement projects is never ending. Well, this front door project has been on my list forEVER!



We've now lived in our house for five years. It was built circa 1908, so it's already seen many a tough winter, and we did not realize just how hard the winters could be on a front porch--especially when it's made of painted wood!

We repainted the steps a couple years ago using the paint color that was labeled "front porch, front door, shutters" by the previous owners. We didn't use the actual paint they had left in the basement, but went and had more formulated with the same recipe. Well, it wasn't the right color, so I'm not sure what happened there! We have lived with the steps being a slightly different green than the front door and the shutters for a couple years. Meanwhile, the porch steps have looked worse and worse as the interminable winters and ridiculous amounts of snow did their damage. It was time.

This time, I went down to Sherwin-Williams and picked up every single green paint chip they had. And we found what was pretty much a perfect match in SW 2860 Sage.

Front Door Before

So here is what we started with. Not only are my steps looking raggedy, but the front door itself is rusting at the bottom due to all the snow, and my poor wreath is pretty bedraggled. Also, I was not a fan of the house numbers. They're super ugly, and in the winter when there was three feet of snow, nobody could see them anyway.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

I'm Being Kidnapped...

And the 40th birthday amazingness doesn't end, folks!


The girls took their own Sunday photo while I frantically packed for a kidnapping. When I walked in the house from church, Joel accosted me with a poem to read that informed me that my big surprise party a couple weeks ago was just a foil for the REAL surprise.

My friends and I are going to Mackinac Island for a few days and we were leaving within the hour!

They'll be here in 5 minutes...

Happy Sunday!
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Saturday, August 23, 2014

5 Things I Wish I'd Brought Camping

We have never been big campers, The Maestro and I. The first time that we went camping together as a family was when Chloe was a baby and Bria was three. It was for a church camping trip and so we borrowed a tent and headed up the mountain with everyone else.

It was kind of awful. Chloe cried all night long. All. Night. Long. And I could hear coyotes everywhere (this was in Arizona) and it was uncomfortable and I swore I'd never do it again.

But then, we went on our Epic Vacation in 2012 and decided to camp across America. We purchased an awesome tent and other necessary camping supplies and had a wonderful time doing it. It might be because we didn't have a baby or super young children anymore, but whatever it was, it was fun.

So we like to camp now. And we've been trying to find a time to do it this summer that would work with both the weather and the schedule. The Maestro finally found that time and picked me up from work one day with everything ready to go.

Except. We forgot a few things...



The first thing we forgot, and quite possibly the most important:

Friday, August 22, 2014

5 Secrets to Get Kids to Help With Housework





If your kids are anything like mine, the prospect of a Saturday morning filled with doing chores does not cause them to jump for joy. And if you are anything like me, the prospect of trying to convince your children to spend their Saturday morning doing chores does not cause you to jump for joy, either.

But, whether or not you're happy about it, housework must go on. As a mother, I consider it a huge responsibility to teach my children how to do it so that when they go out into the world they aren't driving their college roommates or spouses insane. And, you know, so that they are living in a clean and healthy environment.

Now, I don't know if I can teach them to love cleaning (I don't love cleaning), but I can teach them that it's not so bad. Here are some things that have helped me at my house:

1. Make it fun. 

Whenever I tell the girls it's their turn to do the dishes, there's a collective groan. But then I put on their favorite music and the cleaning suddenly becomes fun. They dance and sing to One Direction and R5 and whatever other music it is they love, the dishes get clean, and everyone is happy (mind you--if we were cleaning to MY favorite music, it would be very different)(I think it's pretty fun to clean to a rousing Rossini opera aria, don't you?).

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Two-Minute Marriage Project

The Maestro and I celebrated 15 years of marriage in June. In that fifteen years, we have lived in five homes in three states, had three children, seen The Maestro graduate with two advanced degrees, acquired a dog, gained and lost weight and then gained it again, and held down more jobs than I can count.

We've gone from this:


To this (the most recent photo of us together--camping last week):


Oh, and we both turned 40 this summer, too. Which means we might have a little more grey in our hair than we did when we were 25. In fact, we've recently been watching a lot of old family movies from when we were first married and I can't even believe how YOUNG we look. We were babies. (For the record, I still feel like I'm about 26.)

Fifteen years. It hasn't all been a walk in the park, either. Sometimes, being married doesn't feel much like the fairy tale so many girls hope for. It's more like a lot of work you didn't know it would be and half the time you feel like you're just roommates who say hello if you happen to bump into one another in all of your comings and goings with work and school and kids and church and everything else.

So how do you keep the romance alive when life keeps getting in the way?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

7 Tips for Better Beach Photography

So, I haven't done a photography type post in a really long time! Since I've been spending so much time at the beaches of Lake Superior this summer, I thought I'd talk about some tips for better beach photos.

Even though it's a little bit of a pain, I really like to take my big camera with me to the beach (I have a very old Canon Rebel, which I am longing to upgrade). As much as I like to take photos with my iPhone, I'm never quite as happy with the beach photos I take with my phone. Besides, it's really hard for me to keep all the sand out of my phone, no matter how careful I am.

So that's actually my first tip--a freebie that isn't part of the other seven--use a real camera! Even a point-and-shoot will take better photos than your phone will in beach conditions.

A lot of people will tell you that you should only photograph the beach around sunrise or sunset, and definitely not when the sun is high in the sky. Well, guess what? I don't go to the beach at sunrise because it's way too cold to be on the water that early unless you're fishing, and I don't go to the lake to fish. I also rarely stick around until sunset because in the prime of summer, the sun doesn't even go down until 10:30 around here. Also, the bugs like to come out in the early evening, and as soon as they do the beach empties itself of people almost immediately. Believe me, you don't want to be carried off by black flies and you just might be if you stay too long.

If I'm going to be at the beach when it's warm enough and bug-free, I am going to be there when the sun is high in the sky and at its worst possible position for good photography. Oh well! Maybe I won't get the most photographically perfect photos, but I do manage to get some good photos of my family having a wonderful time, and that's what I'm after.

Without further ado, here are my best tips for getting great photos at the beach: