Saturday, July 28, 2012

recipe of the week: chicken ranch tortilla soup (slow cooker recipe)f

as much as i love pinterest, there have been a few ideas that i have tried and been disappointed by.

one was the sausage egg breakfast casserole. ick.
another was the chicken ranch tacos. cooked in the crock pot. they SOUNDED right up my alley. and so i followed the instructions

put chicken (2 pounds--i used a pound of breasts and a pound of thighs) in crock pot
 add taco and ranch seasonings (of course, it called for the prepackaged thanks from me, but you can do what you like)
 (i used two tablespoons of each)
 a cup of chicken stock
 and cook for awhile

 shred cooked chicken

and then i tasted it.
and it.was.bland.
(to me)

i could NOT get excited about this at all.  so i froze half of the mixture (the recipe for what i did with that will come later) and with the other half, i decided to try my hand at chicken tortilla soup.  only, since there was the ranch element in the chicken i decided to make it a chicken ranch tortilla soup.

so. here's the (much tastier) outcome. turning a pinterest fail into a recipe that my husband immediately said to "keep in the rotation" isn't a bad deal at all :-)
(i still haven't salvaged that breakfast casserole. some things are lost causes.)

chicken ranch tortilla soup

1/2 chicken cooked as above (or similarly), reserved in crockpot (the other half you can save for a second batch, another recipe, or just double the following ingredients)
theoretically, i cook the chicken overnight on low, then start the soup before i head out the door for work.
olive oil
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 can black beans
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 pound shredded chicken (preferably cooked as above, or similarly)
2 cups corn (i used trader joe's fire-roasted)
1 1/2 tablespoons ranch seasoning (separated)
1 1/2 tablespoons taco seasoning (separated)
avocado (1 for every 2 adults eating)

in a saucepan on the stove, heat olive oil and saute the onion in the 1 tablespoon each of the ranch and taco seasonings for 5-10 minutes
 add the crushed tomatoes and chicken broth and simmer while you assemble the other ingredients in the crock pot.
 to the chicken in the crock pot, add the corn, beans and cilantro
 pour the tomato mixture over
 warm through. i cooked for probably 4 hours on low, but you can simply set your crock pot to "warm" if that's an available option.  about 10-20 minutes before serving, "wake" the spices by adding the additional 1/2 tablespoons of the ranch and taco seasonings.

 ladle into bowls and top with fresh avocado slices, cilantro and strips of tortillas (or tortilla chips if you prefer)
the caloric damage on this isn't too bad either.  the avocados add the most in terms of fat and calories, but since it's a good fat i don't get too worried.  here's the nutrition facts based on 6 servings and 1/2 avocado in each serving.

if you make it without avocado, here's your nutrition info.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

thursday's ten: on love and hate, boycotting and bashing

you guys, i really really don't like to preach on this blog. i know my normal readers will know that (at least i hope so!). but i really feel passionately about this, and needed to get it out there.  forgive my grammatical and late-night-writing errors, and please read it with a measure of grace. i certainly haven't arrived and i make oh-so-many mistakes, but my prayer truly is that i make more mistakes of loving too deeply than of wounding those who so need Papa's Love.

i really don't talk about controversy MUCH here on the blog.  and really, this isn't going to delve too deeply into one.  but with recent events coming to light that have sparked a tremendous battle of words among facets of the population i really just have a few things i feel i must say.

1. i find it slightly amusing and very hypocritical for people who have opposed conservative Christians and bashed them for boycotting companies that supported gay rights to turn around and boycott a widely-known conservative Christian company for the opposite thing.

2. on the other hand, i am incredibly disappointed at the folks who are creating banners touting their support of said company SIMPLY because they now view them as a company who OPPOSES gay rights.

*slight pause for clarification. i am unashamedly a Christian, a lover of Jesus and an extreme God-follower.
but i'm not sure anyone would ever describe me as "conservative"

3. i'm not entirely sure that either side has their facts completely straight. (um. no pun intended there)

4. i'm not sure when it became an "us versus them" issue. but

i've read several people who say "if *they* would just stop hating"..."if *they* would just let us have our viewpoint and opinion"..."if *they*"...

i will say it as concisely as i possibly can:

we are all children of God.
there is no us. there is no them.
we are one people
even those who aren't walking in the fullness of their identity as His Kids...
(and to be honest, that's probably most of us)
we are one.

and the longer this "us and them" mentality stays around the more people we are losing because we are hung up on things that don't matter.

(and that thing that you just thought of that you think matters, if it's keeping people from knowing Jesus because His "followers" are too busy harping on it, it probably matters less than you think)

5. if one more person tells me that they wish people would "stop hating on Christians" i may just unleash a dissertation on why that is a very valid viewpoint for many people.

and that's what makes me saddest.  i've said it before: i choose love. i will always choose love, even though it's not the easiest thing to do. it is my greatest calling, and therefore i must choose it.

6. however, my most concise response to the above would be this: why on earth are you expecting "THEM" to make the first move? Christians are commanded to love. the world isn't commanded to love Christians. and the fact that many communities have experienced anything BUT love from the Christian community means that we are really REALLY failing them.

7. people need to live and let live.  or as i often tell the kids i work with: just chill for a minute, ok?

8. chick-fila makes a damn good spicy chicken deluxe sandwich.

9. some people are going to be more offended about the fact that i just used the word "damn" (twice now) than the fact that people often experience only bitterness and hatred from the Christian community.

10. it really.really.really is all about love

i've said it before.
i'll surely say it again.

this post from Jon Acuff's blog yesterday prompted me to forward it to several of my friends. THIS is what the church should look like. and until more of us get that picture, i guess you'll keep reading posts like this. :-)

as my amazing friend natasha posted yesterday: i'm going to boycott hate.

and now if you'll excuse me, i think i'll go buy a chick-fila sandwich and eat it while watching a disney blu-ray. 

(thank you for reading if you made it this far. oh, and thank you for not unfollowing me if you haven't yet. :-)


Monday, July 23, 2012

monday's memory: u2 in nashville

last year we took a walk from anthony's parents house

and entered the, vanderbilt's stadium

 u2 was absolutely amazing.  which doesn't surprise anyone i'm sure :-)  but since they ARE my favorite band, there were several especially special moments for me...the one where bono began singing "amazing grace" and a stadium full of people joined in (in harmony, as nashville is prone to do :-).  
 the one where a blind guy requested a song during the encore and bono brought him up on stage, handed him his guitar to play it on ...and after he was finished bono told him to keep the guitar (!).
there were some of my favorite songs played and many just plain amazing moment. 
and there was anthony's and my favorite moment, where bono ended a song by singing the word "blessings" over and over and waved them over the crowd. 
they say that u2 concerts are spiritual experiences.  that night i found out why.

we can't wait for our next one!

*all photos in this post were taken either with my camera or by anthony's aunt sherrie who also had kick-awesome seats on the other side of the stadium and therefore had different angles :-)


Saturday, July 21, 2012

recipe of the week: taco seasoning and a couple of easy ways to use it (mexican pizza and taco mac)

that's right, folks. i have 3 recipes today, but they are all super simple and related :-)

i mentioned that i pretty much stopped using pre-packaged seasoning mix when i gave you my ranch seasoning/dressing recipe.  there are multiple reasons for this, but the added and very beneficial "side effect" is that i was able to tailor a seasoning mix exactly to our tastes. since i am on the "the spicier the better" side and anthony is on the "i'll drink milk with this medium salsa" side, that's trickier than you might think ;-) but i've found a blend that doesn't set his taste buds on fire and mine are happy with.

lora's taco seasoning

2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried cilantro
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper

and here are two very simple ways to enjoy it!

taco mac 
(basically a healthier & homemade version of hamburger helper)
1 pound ground beef 
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
elbox macaroni
salsa verde (i prefer herdez)
ranch dressing

brown meat with taco seasoning while cooking macaroni noodles according to package directions.  after draining both noodles and beef, build your bowls.  ladle in noodles, top with beef, and add salsa verde and ranch to taste. it's a very simple weeknight meal that takes all of 15 minutes to prepare.  

i wouldn't entertain with it, but hey. some days you need a 15 minute meal.

mexican pizza

1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 tablespoon taco seasoning
salsa (we used a fire roasted chipotle from whole foods)
pizza dough
cheese (i used the fiesta blend also from whole foods and fresh mozzarella)
cherry tomatoes, green onions, black olives, etc to top with
(this recipe would also be great with fresh corn, black beans, etc!)

 spread salsa onto pizza dough
 top with cheese
 brown meat with taco seasoning
 top the salsa and cheese with the ground beef
 add other toppings (apparently the night i took pictures i stopped here)
 bake at 350゜for 15-20 minutes. enjoy!


Thursday, July 19, 2012

thursday's ten or so: to make me laugh

i have a quirky sense of humor.
meaning you may not find any of this funny.
but i'm laughing a lot these days thanks to several sources. so the least i can do is share :-)
here's a very few of the things making me laugh.

i can't help but laugh when i see this. until i'm at work, and then it seems like every child in the building is lining up behind this one!

this one anthony also laugh-approved it. 

i don't use pinterest just for recipes and home organization tips (but i'm always trying something off my boards!)

it has other uses too. one of my bff's natasha and i constantly send each other gems we find that we would never post publicly...but there are a few exceptions that i'll share here.

 (the next one pretty much sums us up)
(oh and this one too)

the amazing amanda shared this with me when she was at our house for dinner the other night. we laughed our butts off, so i HAVE to share it with you.

all those "hey girl" memes make me giggle a lot. but THIS one is just extra-special.
replace "men" with "everyone"...
natasha sent this one to me too. if you work with children (your own or someone else's) you'll relate to this at least a few times!
this one makes me laugh and cry simultaneously
and finally...

which leads right into this. you HAVE to watch this. and just know that i WILL instagram it.

***photo/video credits...all of these have been found on facebook, twitter, youtube or pinterest. :-)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

hey, it's ok (, wednesday)

hey, it's ok be absolutely LOVING my new job and at the same time be absolutely EXHAUSTED at the end of some days. be just now completing my list of 31 things to do while i'm 31 for the blog. yeah, i've been 31 for over 3 months now. one of the things should be completing the list i suppose. have begun this list a week plus ago. did i mention i was exhausted? be both thankful that i like the 4.99 whole bean coffee i found at whole foods and annoyed that i didn't try it a year ago. several pounds of 11.99 coffee from starbucks later, i would have saved a lot! be grateful that it's finally raining again.  we went over a month in drought. our yard is finally not crunching as much when you walk in it be swagbucks-earning like CRAZY these days.  so far i have $150 earned for the year in amazon credit, just by spending a couple of hours a day earning SB.  by the end of the year i'll have at minimm $300 to spend on christmas shopping for our family. that combined with black friday shopping means our spending out of pocket should be VERY small.  plus, i have enough extra to get a large starbucks or maggianos gift card for us! (you should join swagbucks if you haven't! please use my referral name of msmsctchr if you do, or click on this link!) be seriously needing an eyebrow wax. there's a beauty school about 1/4 mile from work...i'm considering seeing if they'll do a decent job. because i hate tweezing. a lot.

join in the fun of being OK at amber's blog. or just visit her because she rocks.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

recipe of the week: ny quesadilla

i cannot lie. this recipe, i'm pretty pleased with.

a few months ago (or weeks...pinterest time gets away from me) i found a recipe for reuben quesadillas that i thought sounded amazing.  i even put it on our menu. 

and then, less than a week before i was to make it...i realized.  my husband does not like cabbage, does not like pickles, and especially does not like german pickled cabbage. and while i had taken that into account when i planned the menu and figured i'd leave the kraut off his...i realized that it would be really boring to eat corned beef and a smattering of cheese on a tortilla.

even though he loves corned beef
and cheese
and tortillas

so i got out about half the following sentence before he interrupted me with a resounding "YES!"

"hey, how about i try making a new yorker quesadilla instead of the reuben one?"

what he didn't realize until after the fact was that i didn't actually have a RECIPE, i just had the model of his favorite sub at firehouse subs, and the fact that meat and cheese always get a resounding reception in this house. not just from him...from me, from the cat...

so between his approval of my suggested ingredients and my imagination, here's what i came up with.  it really is QUITE simple. but it's also simply amazing if you are a fan of the new yorker deli sandwiches.

ny quesadillas

(makes 4 large quesadillas)
4 ounces each pastrami, peppered salami, and corned beef*
6 slices provolone cheese
italian seasoning
8 flour tortillas
german mustard

*way easier to get deli slices of each of these, and that's what would be served on a new yorker sandwich anyway! i got my corned beef from the deli and pastrami and salami from trader joes.

begin by putting all the meat and the italian seasoning into a food processor and pulse until it's roughly chopped
 add cheese, and pulse again
for each quesadilla, spread one entire tortilla with german mustard and the other with mayo
 top with generous portions of meat and cheese
 and cover with the second tortilla
pan cooking this didn't seem like an option. i decided to pop them in the oven at 275゜
keep an eye on them. when the cheese is melted to your liking (and the tortillas are browned to your degree of satisfaction. in my case satisfaction on both arrived in about 12 minutes)
 this is my husband's plate, which he filled with chips
this is my messily cut quesadilla hanging out with a fresh tomato and a couple of pickles

the verdict? as intrigued as i was by the idea of reuben quesadillas, i think this one is more for us.  definitely staying in the meal rotation!

let's be real and mention that this is not the most figure friendly meal.  here's the info for each serving if you care :-)

oh, and click on the button for a link to more yummy recipes!

feed my family friday