Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Happy New Year!

First post of the year and we're only three days in!  The lights are down, the boxes stowed away under the stairs, the faux pine needles are vacuumed and the house looks empty.

We want to remodel our kitchen.  That's such an overwhelming project.  So many things you need to figure out before you can figure out who to contact to help you figure out how much it'll cost and when it can get done.  It's not easy.  

It's hard going back to work again after the last two weeks basically off.  Today was more or less a wasted day.  Time to get back into the habit of going to work.  

Did I tell you that timeouts don't work on Elliott?  They don't.  We stuck with them for a while before we had to fall back on something else...mostly redirection to keep him out of trouble.  Not that he's ever in that much trouble to begin with, but he's verrrrry inquisitive, so he keeps ping-ponging from one thing to the next.  Knife on the counter from cutting strawberries?  He's reaching for it.  Hot coffee?  His fingers are on the handle.  Unguarded electronics?  He's swiping.

No resolutions this year.  Just a sense that I need to stop eating trash.  I'm on the treadmill almost nightly, so working out isn't the issue, but it's a bit counterproductive to eat a bag of chips between workouts.  That's my struggle.  

Lily goes back to school tomorrow.  She had one extra day.  She won't be happy.  Looking for a dentist for her.  Apparently Children's Hospital no longer accepts kids over 12.  This policy change was apparently made last year.  Lily hasn't seen a dentist since the pandemic.  She's due.  I feel like I overused apparently in that paragraph.

Looking for a dentist for me too.  Mine retired three years ago.  So...yeah, probably about due for a cleaning.

Last year I did a Goodreads book reading challenge.  First time I've done one of those in years.  Most of what I read now is Audiobooks.  I can't do a hardcopy book...or at least I can't do them as my primary means of reading.  For the longest time I've put quotes around "reading" when I refer to an audiobook.  It seemed like cheating.  It's not.  I "read" ...no...I READ 62 books last year.  I overshot my goal of 24 (two a month...I thought that was doable) by almost triple.  I just didn't really have a handle on how many books I was reading because I wasn't really tracking it.  

I have recommendations.  I'll do a post about them.  Too much to go into just off the cuff, but definitely read some really good stuff.  Some very interesting, well-written, imaginative stuff...sometimes all in one book!

Tik tok has sort of revitalized my reading.  I follow a bunch of book readers there and watch their reviews and I've picked up TONS of good books as a result.  I realized that one of the reasons I wasn't really reading as much is because Libby (the library app I use to download books) wasn't really showing me new books that I wanted to read.  I needed to get names and search for them, and there they were!  So great way to get reading inspo.  

This year's goal is set at 52.  A book a week.  Doable - since I did more last year - but not sandbagging it.


Thursday, December 22, 2022

The Most

Angie was listening to Glennon Doyle's podcast.  She doesn't know who said it, but they said the holidays aren't necessarily the "most wonderful time of the year", they're just the most.  Definitely some truth to that.  

We talked about how women are primarily the creators of the magic and how creation of the magic is super stressful around this time.  I mentioned that I thought it was the memory of the magic that sustains us as we strive to recreate it for our kids.  I do still love the holidays.  But they are a lot.  A lot a lot.

I was reading some Facebook meme that talked about how when someone wishes you Happy Holidays it's not because they hate christmas...it's because they have no fucking idea what/who you are...christian, atheist, jewish, muslim?  Who knows?  They're just trying to be polite.  I was raised christian.  I love Christmas and I love wishing people a merry Christmas...but I don't do it to strangers, because I want to be respectful.  

Emma was googling the menorah because the place she's working is trying to include some Hanukah in their branding to be more inclusive, and she wasn't sure what candle they were supposed to be lighting.  I like that people want to include more people rather than fewer.  I also get confused by what constitutes inclusivity/diversity and what constitutes cultural appropriation and racism.  And sometimes it makes my head hurt.  And mostly I just try to be a nice person and be respectful but I'm also aware from time to time that's going to offend someone...and that I need to be able to say I'm sorry for things I didn't necessarily intend, but were found offensive.  Not that it comes up much, since I don't really talk to people that aren't in my family, or at work.  But still. Just trying not to be an asshole.  Sometimes when you're trying something you don't succeed at it.  But that doesn't mean you give up. 

Elliott likes Santa.  He's seen him a few times...we have a neighbor (Angie's term for anyone within a one mile radius) who has a "Wiggly Santa".  It's one of those car dealership noodle people that use a blower to wiggle all over and wave at passersby, but it's decorated like Santa.  He asks about it several times a day.  

Elliott doesn't like being called Elliott.  "Not ewiott.  I'M EEH-WI."  That's adorable Elliott.  Kidding.  Mostly.  We call him Eli for the most part I think.

Lily just turned 17.  She got some new shoes.  Now she has a couple changeups from the Van's...some hiking shoes and a cute pair of suede boots.  We'll see how that works out.  Still waiting for the waterproofing spray from Amazon, so I'm really careful a bout when she wears the boots.  She seems mostly unperturbed by the holiday season as long as there's an iPad on her lap and orange drink in her cup.

We're ready for Christmas now.  Getting the house prepped for Christmas Eve surf 'n' turf.  It's one of my favorite things about Christmas.

Happy Holidays everyone.

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