Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

Creamy chicken enchiladas with homemade Spanish
rice and a dallop of sour cream.  Yum!
I love Mexican food.  Seriously, I could probably eat Mexican for all three meals for weeks on end, but I don't do that for a couple of reasons.  Too much tomato doesn't agree with Hubby's digestive system and Little Man detests food that is mixed together.  If I separate the ingredients on his plate, it looks like he's eating the same thing every night and he would only be willing to do that for 2 or 3 days tops.  To feed my love for Mexican and overcome the above mentioned obstacles, I'm always on the look out for new recipes... and I found one.  This recipe was found in an All You magazine.  It is from Campbells, so there is the obligatory can of "cream" soup-unless you are me and make your own.  Here is my take on this yummy chicken recipe.
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 cup milk (can sub. the milk for chicken broth if desired)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup  salsa
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 cups chopped cooked chicken 
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
8 flour tortillas (6-inch), warmed (I made these using my tortilla recipe.)
1 small tomato, chopped (about 1/2 cup), optional
1 green onion, sliced (about 2 tablespoons), optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter.  Stir the flour into the butter and let cook a few minutes.  Whisk in milk and broth and bring to a boil.  The mixture will thicken.  Remove from the heat and give it a few minutes to cool.  Stir in the sour cream, salsa, and chili powder.  In a mixing bowl combine 1 cup of the soup mixture, chicken and 1/2 cup of the cheese.  Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with Pam or some other spray and pour 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the soup mixture in the bottom.  Shake the pan around until most of the bottom of the pan is covered with soup.
Next a tortilla and spoon some of the chicken mixture down the center of the tortilla and roll it up.  Place it seam side down in the baking dish.  Continue doing this with the remaining tortillas trying to divide the chicken mixture equally among the tortillas.  Once all the tortillas have been filled and placed in the pan, cover them with the remaining soup mixture.  Cover the dish with foil or glass lid and bake 40 minutes.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over the top.  Place back in the oven to melt the cheese.  Take the enchiladas out and let rest for 5 minutes.  Top with chopped tomato and green onion if desired.
I was a little skeptical with the cream soup base, but these were awesome!  Everyone had seconds and I had to hold them back so they didn't take the rest as I needed leftovers for the next day's lunches.

Sorry about the funky indent.  I couldn't fix it and gave up!

Week 42: Needing suggestions

Help!  I am brain dead and can't think of what needs to be changed this week.  I'm taking suggestions in the comments section.  Thanks. :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Week 41: Winterizing the home

There's a saying in Missouri that goes, "if you don't like the weather, give it 5 minutes and it will change." 

Yeah.  It's the truth.  Really.

Last Friday night, the girls and I went through the "winter" box of clothes and pulled out what fit, made a sale pile for the "I'm never, ever wearing that in a million years," and put away the summer stuff (no more flip flops girls!).  The weather had turned cooler and while they could still get away with wearing capris, jeans would work and I hate not being prepared.

Fast forward to Sunday.  It was near 90 degrees and the girls had to get back into the "summer" box to dig out shorts and those flip flops.

Today is Wednesday.  It is 47 degrees according to my thermometer.  The girls wore winter coats to school today.  Amazingly, they didn't complain.  They were that cold.

Keeping in line with my earlier change of trying to reduce our electricity usage, I'm also trying to cut our natural gas usage (furnace) too.  I turned off the AC in mid August and I'm trying my hardest not to turn on the furnace until November 1st.  I have 12 days (hopefully more).

It is winterizing time.  Last year was the first time that I made a conscious effort to lower our winter utility bill.  We dropped the temperature to 65 degrees during the day.  I kept all of the doors upstairs closed.  We used blankets, wore layers and slippers and all that stuff.  I tried to do my baking early in the morning to warm up the house.  We slept on fleece blankets and covered with them (and quilts, comforters and everything else) as well. 

The question is how can we improve on our efforts this winter.  The first thing I'm going to work on is draft guards for the front door and downstairs basement door.  Both doors have gaps that you can see through.  The weather stripping that we've tried in the past has prevented the door from latching and the only thing worse that a door that you can see daylight around is a door that is standing open because the wind blew it open.  My challenge is that the gaps are between the door latch and the top of the door.  I'm going to have to fashion something that goes all the way around.  I'm sure it will be lovely.  Uhh, not really.  I don't need lovely.  I need functional so we'll see how that works.

The other area that needs work are the windows.  We have new double pane windows, but the air around the window always seems to be so cold.  I'm making Hubby put the shrink wrap on the bedroom and living room windows to see if it helps.  It's only a $10 investment.  If it doesn't work, that's not too much money lost.  Hubby thinks I'm crazy.  He says that was the point of buying new windows.  I don't know though.  It couldn't hurt.

Other suggestions are both welcomed and appreciated!

Week 40: Preserve, preserve, preserve!

Well, last week (and half of this week) flew by and I didn't even get one post in!  It's that time of year... fall!  I love fall--the cool weather, leaves changing color, switching out our summer duds for warmer winter ones.  Of course, the frugalista in me is loving not having to use our AC or heat.  Woo-hoo for cheap utilities.  Fall is also the time when I do a lot of our favorite foods are ripe and need to be preserved.  I spent my time last week roasting, pureeing, labeling, freezing, and other sorts of prepping activities.

Here's what I preserved/am preserving for winter...

10 pounds of tomatoes-sliced, seeded and frozen-ready to be chopped for chili or blended for juice in a veggie or taco soup.  If I can find a good deal on Romas, I'll probably do another 10 pounds.

Green Peppers-We have four green pepper plants that started producing a couple weeks ago.  So, I washed, seeded, and chopped 8 green peppers-not a lot, but we don't eat a lot.  I flash froze them and have them stored in a quart canning jar so I can pop open the freezer and dump the amount I need directly into my bowl, skillet or whatever.  I hope to have a few more peppers, but it looks like we might get frost in the next couple of days, so we'll see.

7 pumpkins-I haven't frozen pumpkin ahead in past years.  I usually just cooked one and made a couple loaves of pumpkin bread and called it a year.  Well, since I ditched canned goods earlier this year and had no plan of purchasing an can of pumpkin if I decided that I needed some, I set out in search of pie pumpkins.  Amazingly enough, a local grocery store had organic pie pumpkins for $1.29 each!  The cheapest I had previously seen them was $.78/pound and they weren't organic.  I snatched up 2 immediately (and a butternut squash) and roasted them.  One pumpkin made the equivalent of 3 loaves of pumpkin bread and everyone gobbled it up.  It was obvious that I needed more.  I called Hubby who was on his way home from work and requested that he drop by and pick a few more up.  He bought 5.  Now I have enough pumpkin for 21 loaves of pumpkin bread-certainly enough for a whole year.

50 pounds of pears-Just when I finished the pumpkins up, one of my daycare grandmas brought me a HUGE box of pears, a little over 50 pounds (yeah, I weighed it)!  Right now, they are on my deck ripening because they just aren't quite ready.  I processed them too soon last year and still have a few jars of crunchy pears! LOL  Hopefully in the next couple of days they will be turned into pear butter, pearsauce, canned pears and I'm going to try freezing some for pear crisp.  That's an experiment, we'll have to see how that works out!

40 pounds of apples-These haven't arrived yet, but they are on my Azure Standard order.  I'll make the standard applesauce, apple butter and sliced apples for future bowls of oatmeal or slices of pie, but I might also try my hand at making jelly and/or juice.  Oh, and I'm sure we'll save some for eating as well. ;)

So, that's it so far.  What foods do you preserve?  What's your favorite method... canning?  freezing? dehydrating?  I'd love to hear about it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Week 39: Sam's Club

I've been a member of Sam's Club for nearly 20 years (Wow, now I feel old!).  My parents added me to their membership when I left for college because I would drive through a town where Sam's was and frequently Mom would want me to pick up this or that.  In my 20's, I shopped there more for myself and found that I bought numerous items, many of which I didn't need.

Today, I still make a once a month trip to Sam's.  However, I'm finding that I buy less and less there.  Where at one time I would have my cart loaded down, now I buy the same two dozen items in alternating months.  I buy Finish dishwasher tabs, Oxy Clean powder, nuts, spices, maple syrup, milk, cheese and frozen veggies and fruits.  This last time I also picked up a few packages of medicine (Benadryl, Tylenol, Prilosec-except Sam's brand).  I no longer buy the paper goods, chips, bread, fruit, etc. that made Sam's prices such a good buy.

Last Friday, I picked up my first order from Azure Standard.  I got coconut oil, GMO free canola oil, coconut, walnuts, vanilla beans, salt, carrots, potatoes, and oranges.  Most importantly, I got a catalog.  Going through it, I found that I can get most everything I can get from Sam's and it's only slightly higher priced, and much of it is organic, which Sam's is not.  Over the next month or two, I plan to phase out Sam's completely and order my bulk items through Azure Standard.  I will pay a little more in up front cost, but I don't have to drive 40 minutes to Sam's and spend 2 hours walking the aisles.  With Azure Standard, I can order online and just go to the drop site and pick up my boxes of already packaged items.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do about my Finish tabs or Oxy-Clean yet, but I think I might just ask Mom to pick me up some when she goes for her big trips and I'll pay her back.  That seems the easiest.

So far, I'm really impressed with the products I got from Azure Standard.  So much so that I think I'll try to do the bulk of my shopping from there and fill in with dairy and eggs from a local farm.  I'm sure that toward the end of the month I'll need fresh produce, but I'm thinking that this might be the best way to stay within my budget.  It keeps getting harder and harder to do that.
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