Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Easy Enchiladas


Old blog post from another blog where I posted recipes with a couple friends.  Now that my oldest has moved out, she needs recipes and I know she'll like this.

I'm all about fool-proof.  And you should be too.  No offense.  I'm not calling you a fool.  I have been making these enchiladas for centuries, and they've never not been enjoyed.  I'm saying they're enjoyable.  They are not "scratch" authentic Mexican cuisine.  They are "what can I make that my kids will actually eat that won't take me an entire weekend to prepare" Mexican cuisine.  A lot of the recipe (all) can be made in advance, refrigerated, and cooked the next day.

I made these the day before yesterday and then when my parents watched the kids yesterday I had them just shove the dish in the oven and take 'em out before I got home.

So...without further adieu:  Easy Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas

What you'll need:
13 x 9 pyrex dish (or whatever you can heat in an oven)
1 package burrito size tortillas
2 chicken breasts
15 oz can enchilada sauce (mild or hot, they're all good)
1 lb cheese (give or take)
dried mince garlic

Prepare in advance in advance (not a typo).

Cook your chicken.  A couple words about chicken.  My wife, god rest her soul, used to boil the chicken in this recipe.  Boil it.  It was still great.  You literally cannot fuck up this chicken.  It's impossible.  So...cook the chicken however you want.  Emma...you can cook this in a pan with butter, since you don't have a grill!

A couple things.  When I took over this recipe I grilled the chicken.  I seasoned the hell out of it with salt, pepper, and dried minced garlic, and grilled it.  And it made it even better.

Tip 1:  Suck at preparing chicken on the grill?  (too dry on the outside, still not done on the inside?)  Butterfly it.  Cut it in half thickness-wise.  Cooks faster and more evenly.  Okay...

Tip 2:  I once heard Lydia (of Lydia's Italian Cuccina) on a cooking show say that when you cook chicken you should season it three times.  Once before you cook it, then as you cook it, then after it's done.  DO THIS.  Chicken...I don't know why this is...is bland as shit unless you really season it.  Like...more than you think you should.  I typically only season it before I cook it then after it's done.  And the only seasoning I add AFTER I cook it is salt.  But seriously.  Grill this chicken, then slice it up (we'll get there in a minute) then taste it.  Needs salt.  Add salt.  I was just talking to Emma about this literally last night.  I'm glad I found this old post.

Okay...so grill your seasoned chicken to taste (DO NOT TASTE THE RAW CHICKEN...it's just something people say).  Mine is usually about a 1/2" thick, and takes about three minutes per side in a hot grill.

Let the chicken cool a bit, and cut in about 1/2" pieces.  TASTE THE CHICKEN.  If it's sorta bland...that's the sign that you should add salt.  Honestly though?  Even if you STILL don't season the chicken.  This will still be good.

Okay...put the chicken in a bowl and add about half of the can of enchilada sauce.  mix it up and set aside.

If you stopped here, refrigerated the chicken and finished the rest the next day?  That would work.  Otherwise...

Grate the cheese in a big bowl.  It's a lot of cheese so you need a lot of bowl.

Use non-stick spray to grease your 13 x 9 dish, and lay a tortilla in it.  Spoon a serving spoon full of the cut chicken mix into the middle.  Top with cheese.  Roll up and slide against the edge of the dish.  Repeat until you run out of room or run out of chicken mix.  If you run out of cheese...god help you, why are you using so much fucking cheese?  Grate some more.  It'll be even more delicious, but you will probably die of heart failure sometime during the night.

Drizzle the rest of the enchilada sauce atop the shells.

Cover the entire thing with all the rest of the cheese.  You ran out of cheese again, didn't you, dummy?  Grate some more. 

Okay...if you stopped HERE...cover, put in refrigerator and cook the following day.  That would work TOO.  Otherwise...

Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Put the dish in the oven.
Cook for 15 - 20 minutes (the chicken is already cooked, so you're essentially just heating it up and melting the cheese) or until the cheese (jesus, how much did you use?) is all bubbly and melty.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and some chives or (if you're in a sour cream free/green stuff free home like ours) plain. 

~ Jim

Wednesday, October 12, 2022


 It's getting cold out.  I'm out of firewood.  Man we burn through that stuff quickly.  

I started following Tok-tok.  I really like it.  I guess it's been a couple years.  I mostly follow art pages and book pages (book Tok) but there are some really great random funny things there and I find a few tidbits every day to share with Angie that she ignores because she refuses one general principle to add one more time-wasting social media site to her list.

Emma came by for dinner.  It's nice having her home.  Eli adores her and it's fun to watch them play, and of course I love having her in the house to talk to (or talk at, if she's absorbed by her phone).  It makes me wonder when "home" stops being your parent's house.  For me it was after I moved away for college and the moved back after it was over.  The transition was easy:  they sold the house and moved to another one.  The next house they built was never 'mine'.  There were no memories in it.  It makes me a little sad.  She has a house that she rents with some classmates in Pittsburgh.  She spends less time here.  It's understandable but sad.  When will this house stop feeling like her house and start feeling like "Dad and Angie's house".  Hopefully not yet.  

Elliott said, "I'm glad you're here."  His vocabulary and speech is crazy.  I think I just forgot how smart kids are and how quickly they pick things up at his age.

"Mama, can you come join us on the carpet?" is how he asks Angie to come play with us.  It's nuts.

Thursday, September 29, 2022


 I was walking upstairs this evening and thought..."I forgot I was writing again!"  And the thing that made me forget was that Elliott did something and now I forget what it was that made me remember that I forgot I was writing.  Because at the time I was thinking, "Angie should write that in her journal that she keeps for Eli." but then immediately after I thought...wait...I WRITE TOO!    And the fact that I forgot that I write and then forgot the reason I remembered why I write is just so...me-at-this-age.

So I know it wasn't this, but tonight I was putting Eli to bed.  Angie has taken it upon herself to be the bed putter for Eli.  I do it every so often, but for the most part, my portion of the ritual ends with the "whoosh" and "Weeeee" where I swing him upside down from where I'm holding him, his arms reaching up (down) as his outstretched fingers nearly touch the carpet as he swings down between my legs then back up to my chest and I say "WHOOOSH!" and then I do it again and say "WEEEEE" and I ask him each night whether he wants whoosh or wee and he tells me and I do it three times then plop him on his mother's lap where she waits to read him a story.

But wait...then he climbs back down for one last hug, on my right side.  Also one squeeze daddy.  Followed by "now dis side" and one more squeeze then a request for water, which he drinks way too slowly and insists upon closing and putting back by himself before crawling back up onto his mother's lap where she waits to read him a story.

But wait...then we blow kisses and after I blow a kiss to him Angie says, "blow dada a kiss" and Eli says, "You do it mama" and so Angie blows me a kiss and I catch it and press it to my cheek and then Eli climbs back down on the floor for one more kiss, leaning is forehead toward me so I can kiss his soft hair and muss it in, before he finally climbs one last time up onto his mother's lap where she waits to read him a story.  

I slowly leave, telling him I love him and then he says he loves me and we each say it two more times in silly voices before I shut the door behind me.

But that is not what I did tonight.  Tonight I put him to bed, and since I rarely do it we don't really have a set routine apart from reading him a story, then snuggling him and scratching his back while I sing him a song.  

Tonight I read him Grandfather Twilight and then snuggled him and asked him what he wanted me to sing.  "Gata" I thought I heard him say, but that didn't ring a bell, so I said, "what about Twinkle Twinkle?"  

"Gata" again.  "Sorry buddy, I don't know that one.  I'm going to sing Twinkle twinkle."  So I did.  He didn't seem to care, so I sang it and then sang Bah Bah Blacksheep and the Alphabet song since they're all the same melody.  His little head was turned away and he was lying against my shoulder.  I turned him back to face me and asked if he wanted me to sing another song and he said, more clearly this time, "Gah Gato".

"Don Gato," I asked, surprised?

"Yeah," he agreed.

The last time I put him to bed, and I can't even tell you when that was, perhaps the last time Angie had an event at work where she needed to stay late, or maybe she was meeting friends or something, but it was months ago.  The last time I put him to bed, I sang him "Senor Don Gato".

Señor Don Gato was a song we sang when I was in grade school.  I learned it in 3rd Grade.  Mrs. Wetterhaus (later Gniting...butchering these name spellings I'm pretty sure) was our music teacher.  Señor Don Gato was THE favorite song we sang in third grade and SOMEhow I still remember it to this day.  I've sung it to all the kids, but honestly don't remember all the words.  Just most.

Here's what I sang:

Oh Senor Don Gato was a cat,

on a high red roof don Gato sat,

he was there to read a letter

meow meow meow

where the reading light was better

meow meow meow

'twas a love note for don gato.

'I adore you' wrote the lady cat,

who was fluffy white and nice and fat

there was not a sweeter kitty 

meow meow meow

in the country or the city 

meow meow meow

and she said she'd wed don gato.

Oh don gato jumped so happily,

he fell off the roof and broke his knee

broke his ribs and all his whiskers

meow meow meow

and his little solar plexus 

meow meow meow

twas the ending of don gato Ay carumba! cried don gato

*Completely forgot these two verses:*

Then the doctors all came on the run,
Just to see if something could be done.
And they held a consultation, Meow, meow, meow
About how to save their patient, Meow, meow, meow
How to save Señor Don Gato.

But in spite of everything they tried,
Poor Señor Don Gato up and died.
Oh it wasn't very merry, Meow, meow, meow
Going to the cemetery, Meow, meow, meow
For the ending of Don Gato.

*somehow skipped right to the end*

As the funeral passed the market square

such a smell of fish was in the air.

hmmm hmm hmmm hmm hmmm hm hmmm hmm though the burial was slated,

meow meow meow

he became reanimated meow meow meow

he came back to life don gato!!

We loved that song.  The "hmms" represent words I don't remember.  I recall trying to look it up years ago and not really finding anything online.  Not super surprising since it was a children's song we sang in the 70's.  But maybe I should take another look.

Anyway.  I forgot I was writing.  And then I remembered.  Maybe I'll remember what it was I actually wanted to write down.  But probably by then I'll have forgotten I'm writing again.

OH!  Nobody's seen this yet regardless, but after I posted I found it!  Not only that, I found it on Spotify too, so now we listen to it on our daily walks.

Señor Don Gato