Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Okay Friends

It's been a rough couple of weeks. I have been working crazy ass hours and I have been under enormous pressure and stress at work. Le sigh...Plus I may or may not have lost a issue campaign this week. I will find out later today but I HATE to lose so in the words of children everywhere it's kind of a rotten, no good, horribly bad day.

So as my Dad always said...lets focus on the good.

Today it's my "besties". Full disclosure I think the word besties is ridiculous which is why my "besties" are so awesome  We three are an unlikely lot. We bonded over a campaign last year and the many evenings, early mornings and Saturdays that came with it. Bestie #1 is a 50-something transportation planning consultant, Rob and  Bestie #-2 is a 20-something environmental advocate with a very liberal campaign back ground, Ashley and I am the director of business advocacy for the Chamber of Commerce. See an unlikely lot. But we all bonded over our love of transit, food, people and collaboration in unlikely places. Ashley's boss refereed to Rob and myself as her new BFF's due to all the hours we were logging together and the name sorta stuck.

The other good I'm focusing on today is my dream house. Saturday I went to a meeting at someone's house for work. This house...oh this house. I can't stop thinking about it. It was up in the south hills, mid-century modern built by an architect in 1965 on a 1/3 acre lot. The bathroom had the original turquoise ceramic fixtures. There is a huge wall of windows, a modern stone slab wood stove and a den with the original wood paneling. What's more the owners said they are going to sell in the next few years. So there is a glimmer of possibility that this house could be ours and oh how I'm praying it can.

Lastly, have I told you all that I'm going to China this fall??!! Oh yes I am. 10 days, expense paid, 4-5 star hotels and the Beijing opera my friends. My job may be hard and it may be stressful but it's always worth it and this is just one example. I've known about the trip for a while but as it gets closer I find myself thinking more and more about it and getting more and more excited!!!

So that's my good. Thanks for listening internet friends.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday Night Dinner

Apparently I am on a chipolte kick because tonight's dinner also features chipolte chilies in the form of enchiladas. This recipe was a big experiment and one that quite frankly I didn't have a whole lot of confidence in but my hatred of wasted food forced me to forge ahead and boy am I glad I did because it was pure deliciousness my friends.

This recipe emerged from a whole lot of left over pot roast and me being entirely sick of pot roast. Truth be told pot roast isn't really one of my favorites. I like it occasionally but I mostly make it because we have 1/4 of a cow in our freezer and Margot goes completely crazy for pot roast and has since she was about 7 months old. Finding myself with a stretch of free time and a strange burst of energy yesterday I decided to turn that leftover pot roast into something completely unlike itself. But I knew I needed some strong flavors to mask the Herby quality of pot roast and veggies hence the chipolte chili. If you don't regularly make enchiladas I strongly recommend you start. First they are easy and cheap, two they are crazy versatile and three they are great for re purposing leftovers and for feeding vegetarians. They are also great to make ahead of time and they freeze beautifully. And making homemade enchilada sauce is a great skill. Homemade enchilada sauce makes good enchiladas GREAT and it is so much yummier than the store bought varieties I've seen. Granted not the most beautiful food photography but trust me this is delicious.

Shredded beef enchiladas with homemade chipolte enchilada sauce

2 cups shredded cooked beef from pot roast
1 cup of mashed cooked potatoes and carrots from pot roast
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
8 soft corn tortillas

for sauce:
olive oil
2 14 oz cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
2-3 chipolte chilies, seeded
1 small onion diced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp oregano
salt and pepper

First make the sauce. Saute onions in olive oil till softened and beginning to brown. Add garlic and cook another minute or two. Add chipolte chilies and spices. Cook for another minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add the two cans of tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes. Then pour tomato-chili mixture in food processor and process until smooth. Return to pan simmer for 20-30 minutes. Season to taste. Set aside but keep warm on low heat.

To prepare filling heat medium sized non stick skillet. Add leftover potatoes and carrots from pot roast (1-2 cups) with one table spoon of butter. sprinkle with the cumin and coriander and a little salt and pepper. Transfer to mixing bowl and mash with potato masher or fork. Mix in 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce. In same skillet add shredded beef from pot roast along with 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce. Cook for a 5 minutes. Add beef to potato mixture and mix well. Add sour cream or plain yogurt and 1 cup of cheddar cheese. 

To assemble enchiladas: place tortillas one at a time in hot enchilada sauce to soften, takes about two minutes. Once tortilla is softened place in glass baking dish and fill with 1/8th of filling, roll up and move to one side. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas and cover with second cup of cheddar cheese. Bake 30 minutes in 350 degree oven until hot and bubbly and cheese has melted.  You can assemble and then keep in the fridge until ready to bake or freeze and then defrost in fridge before baking.

Since these enchiladas are kind of spicy I served them with a nice fresh spring salad mix dressed with a homemade vinaigrette. I think the light and fresh salad balanced out the spicy enchiladas really well. These would also be good with a tomato avocado salad. 

Friday, February 15, 2013


1. We had a lovely Valentines Day. My dear husband brought me a huge bouquet of tulips at work and took me to lunch, we got Margot a stuffed big bird and we made a delicious dinner of baked cod on a bed of leeks and cherry tomatoes and prosecco.

2. This weekend we are going to see a play! I am so excited. We haven't gone to see a live performance since we got married and no longer had our student discount to the local theaters. We are going to see Next to Normal at the Lord Leebrick. We are going to a matinee and I'm not quite sure what to wear. Eugene is a very casual place so I can't imagine wearing a dress or a skirt in the middle of a Saturday. But I feel like a should dress up a little at the theater. Perhaps skinny jeans a blousy top, a navy blazer a floral scarf and flats???

3. Margot is 15 months old on Saturday. I stopped doing monthly posts after her 12 month but I think I might do a 15 month, 18 month, and 21 month. I can't believe how much she's grown and changed in the few months since her birthday.

4. This morning Chris' and I toured a potential pre-school for her. It was really fun to see all of the neat things she's be doing soon but it was also a little heart wrenching to see how fast she is growing up! This pre-school had the best toy kitchens EVER!!

5. I love my menu for this coming week. It's homey and warm but with lots of simple delicious meals:
    Sat: collard greens, pinto beans and cornbread
    Sun: pot roast with potatoes, carrots and salad
    Mon: Thai beef curry with basil, bell pepper and green beans over rice
    Tues: Chicken with leeks and white wine, herb roasted baby Yukon potatoes, and creamed spinach
    Wed: Paprika beef with brown rice and garlicky chard
    Thur: Dinner at Mom's
    Fri: Sauteed fish snapper with chow chow, roasted baby red potatoes and broccoli

6. Margot will pretty much eat everything on this menu or at least try it. She is eating so well right now and I hope it doesn't change. She doesn't really eat salad or avocados but she'll eat pretty much any other veggie. She really seems to like cooked greens especially kale, chard and spinach. A few days ago she inhaled sauteed beet greens. It makes me so happy to see her trying new foods and embracing lots of flavors.

Well I think that's it for now. Happy weekend everyone!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tuesday night dinner

I'm so pleased with this dinner and I so wish I had taken pictures because it was lovely. We finally have a nice camera and I really want to practice taking pictures of food with it. However, it seems like once the food is finally ready my kitchen is consumed with the general chaos of finishing, plating, setting the table and of course by this point Margot is about to loose it.

Anyway, this was a great meal and a great weeknight dinner. And bonus it went onto serve as the base for two other meals! You may notice that this is not the first braised chicken dish to grace my blog. Truth be told this has become one of my favorite ways to cook chicken. It's great for weeknights because after a 10-15 minutes of prep dinner cooks itself on the stove with very little fuss. I also love the wonderful sauce braised chicken dishes make. On a cold raining weeknight something warm, saucy and Delicious on top of some wonderful carb is just about perfect! And chicken legs and thighs are usually the cheapest meat for sale at the market.

Chipolte Braised Chicken

8 pieces of chicken legs or thighs on the bone
1 cup all purpose flour or gluten free flour
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 cans fire roasted tomatoes
3-4 chipolte Chile's*
1 large onion sliced
4 gloves of garlic minced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1 cup of chicken broth
1 Tb olive oil
1 Tb butter
1 Tb veg oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a braising pot or skillet that has a lid and high sides melt butter with olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes until they begin to brown. While onions cook prepare chicken.  Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Put the flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper. Add the paprika and mix well. Heat the vegetable oil in a non stick skillet on med-high heat. Dredged he chicken in the flour mixture and brown on all sides then set aside. Once onions are browning add garlic and cook for another minutes. Add cumin and oregano and season with salt and pepper cook for another minute or so. Mix in tomatoes and chipolte peppers and then place chicken in pan in a single layer. Pour in the broth. Liquid and tomatoes don't need to cover chicken. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook 45 minutes.

You could cook brown the chicken in your braising pan, set it aside, and then cook your onions in that same pan which would cut down on dishes. I did these steps simultaniously because I was hope a bit late and hurrying to get dinner on the table.

We had this with baked sweet potatoes and buttered peas. I like the spicy sauce alongside the sweet potatoes. I wanted to have sauteed spinach but we just didn't make it that far. I think this would also be wonderful over rice, grits, polenta or cous cous and any cooking green would be lovely especially collards. Or for a really quick dinner you could wilt some spinach directly to the sauce at the end.

We turned the leftovers into two separate yummy meals. After dinner I removed the meat from the leftover chicken and set it aside for another dinner. I saved all the yummy sauce in a jar. I took all the chicken bones and made a quick batch of broth. The next morning I reheated that left over sauce and served it over warmed corn tortillas with fried eggs on top for breakfast. The broth and leftover chicken were the base for cheddar cornmeal chicken and dumplings. A simple chicken stew with potatoes, carrots and peas topped with cheddar cornmeal dumplings. Yummy!

*Chipolte peppers in adobo are spicy, too spicy for a lot of people. I take the peppers one at a time carefully cut them open and scrape out all of the seeds and membranes. This dramatically reduces the heat. Although it will still have a nice spicy kick it will be okay for most. However it may still be too spicy for small children. For Margot we just took her chicken out of the pan without any sauce and removed the meat. The meat itself had 0 spice and she ate all of it!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Right now Margot is being crazy cute and fun. She has lots of tricks. One of them is if you ask her what sound a sheep makes she says "BAAAA". And she says it in a really funny drawn out way. Sometimes she just responds to every question I ask with "BAAAA" but in a somewhat defiant somewhat I don't give a damn somewhat irritated way. Awfully complex for a one year if you ask me but whatever. I blame my sister who has clearly passed along her stubborn/difficult/defiant genes to my child. All that aside Margot's "BAAAA" perfectly describes how I feel right now. BAAAA

Work is crazy and my arch nemesis is royally pissing me off. We all go to hearing tonight on a public policy issue I've been working on and it has been stressing me out.

Also Margot has been waking up at 2am for the last several nights. She pretty much goes right back down but then I can't go back to sleep. I have had very little sleep this week and I'm getting CRANKY!

All of my work slacks are way too big to wear so I've had to wear skirts or dresses to work every day for ever. I'm tired of stockings. I'm tired to death of black tights and I'm even tired of my lovely pencil skirts. I need to go to Nordstrom's and find decent slacks that fit me which is always such a feat.

Wow I can't even believe I just complained about needing to go shopping. I love shopping. Clearly something is wrong.

Chris and I haven't been on a date night since December. We need a date night or a date weekend. I recently read in a book about a french couple with three kids that go on a yearly 10 day holiday together without their kids. That would work too. Although I suppose 10 days might be a little long for us to be away from Margot.

Margot continues to LOVE her new shoes. She may not look like me but clearly she is my child.

After months of trying to get Margot to attach to some kind of stuffed animal or lovie she has finally attached herself to...Grover. Yes you read that right. Never mind all of the lovely teddy bears, dolls and silk trimmed bunnies I gave that child. No she is completely obsessed with a bright blue furry monster. The logic escapes me. Nonetheless it's still pretty cute. She drags him around the house by one leg so he sort of flops along besides her. And she snuggles up with him at night in her crib. I will now be going to the Elephant trunk to buy a few spare Grover's. Because you know the day we loose Grover is the day Elephant trunk stops carrying them and then we are the parents who have devastated our child because we can't keep track of anything.