Friday, December 7, 2012

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Smoky Chicken Tacos

Made this is cooking class, a chipotle lime coleslaw and my middle school students ate it up!  Another meal they can make for their family!    Smoky Chicken Tacos - Martha Stewart Recipes
Photo from Everyday Food

I am heading back over to my tried and true blog site.  I tried a different name and even bought the domain and got a web host.  I hated it.  I am not a smart enough person to understand all the ins and outs.  So back to what I believe is a name that fits me well.

With that said, I have a new Facebook page, Skills Cooking Class! it is all about my cooking classes.  Yes real, hands on cooking classes.  I have done the first one, "Chicken Breakdown, taking the bird apart".  It was a huge success and I enjoyed doing the class so much.

I really can not seem to explain the joy it brings me to teach you basic skills and create real confidence in the kitchen.  To give you the tools that seem to be missing in today's world.  Skills that we must give to our own children.  We are just one generation away from not being able to cook...and making a blue box of mac and cheese does not count as "cooking".  How about learning to make a "gourmet" meal using everyday ingredients, but knowing and understanding how to make them into a meal that your family will oh and ah over.  Oh yes it can be done!

I work full time, teach a middle school cooking class, help my husband run our small scale farm with 75 chickens, two donkeys, Bantams (they are pets) and two dogs.  Oh and one cat and three adult children and all of my crafts.  So we do live full lives, and this year, busier than normal.  We are also gone one night every week to care for my husbands mother, which we cherish this time with her.  Oh and DH is the scholars bowl coach so he is also gone one to three nights a week on top of all of this.  Yes we are busy and we often to do not make it to the dinner table.

We do go out sometimes, but it takes so much time-and it gets dark early.  Chores have to be done before dark, feeding everyone, collecting eggs (we average 5 dozen a day, we also sell eggs!) and making sure everyone is in the coop and locked up.  We also have a major coyote problem.  Then I go and pick up our youngest daughter who is 16 from her job at 5:30.  If things have gone awry and they often do, I will pick up Freddy's, but that is not cheap.

Last night things got very busy because we had to go and get feed, pick up Clare which would put us home late with no dinner started.  DH suggested going out, but that would have been another hour plus, and I wanted to go home.  I had a quick recipe in the ready....Smokey Chicken Tacos and 20 minutes later we were eating a hot yummy dinner, at the table!  Clare also had a friend over so it was nice to sit together and eat.

The recipe comes from Sarah Carey and Everyday Foods.  I use so many of her recipes for cooking class at school, we did this one and the kids wolfed it down.  This is what we did last night.

1-2 lbs of frozen breaded chicken (I had some sweet potato crusted chicken tenders, it is a new product that has not hit the shelves yet)
1-2 packages of finely shredded cabbage.  Or if you shred your own about 1/2 head
1/4 - 1/2 mayo-start out with the smaller amount
1/2 lime
Chipotles in Adobo Sauce
Corn Tortillas-flour will work but it will not be as good.

Heat your oven and cook your chicken according to the package.

In a large bowl add your shredded cabbage, one or two bags it will depend on how much you need.  I used one bag and fed 5 people with no left overs.  To your cabbage add 1/4 mayo.  Open your can of Chipotles in Adobo and fish out one chili, diced it up fine; add that to the cabbage and about a teaspoon of the sauce. Squeeze the half lime into the cabbage.  Stir and let this sit while you do every thing else.  It will break down and reduce.  After 5 minutes stir, let it sit for another five.  If it looks dry, add a bit more mayo.

The Chipotles in Adobo sauce is a hot, spicy, and smoky condiment.  The more you add, the hotter it will be.  So go slow and taste.  The remainder of the can should be tossed into a zip lock bag, flattened and thrown into the freezer.  You can then break off what you need for future recipes.

Now for the corn tortillas- Gas Stove method:  turn your gas burner on to a medium flame.  I use two burners at a time.  Using tongs place a tortilla on the flame, let it bubble and blacken the edges.  Flip over and repeat.
Electric Oven method: Lay your corn tortillas out on a baking sheet.  Place on the top rack and cook till they bubble, flip them over.  Do enough for at least three tacos a person.

Assembly: In your warm smoky taco lay a piece of chicken, top with the coleslaw, add any other items you might like, sour cream, shredded cheese and such.  I am a purest and only use the slaw and then a squeeze of lime.  Dig in and watch it disappear.  Including the spicy coleslaw. So far every one who has tried the slaw expressed how much they liked it and how different it was.  So use the slaw for a simple side dish anytime.
You can add a side dish, or just chips and salsa.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Dinner Last Night...

I did not want to cook last night.  We were cleaning and I really did not want to mess up my kitchen...I knew I would be the one cleaning it, again.  But I have made a promise to myself to cook nightly and not let circumstances dictate going out to eat....I am a push over for the circumstances....

Maybe I am the only one who does this or feels this way...I doubt it, but who knows.  If I come home and the kitchen is a wreck....dirty dishes, stove has dried on food from E making something for lunch, or there is no counter space...I choose for hubby and I to go out.  I am too tired to spend an hour cleaning up everyone else mess before I can even get to the cooking part.  I hate it when nobody (does he live at your house as well?) cleans out the sink, debris from the day is left in the strain guard to harden and get down right nasty.  If anybody (another full time resident) used a knife or a spoon on the far counter, there it sits, till is a created a life long bond with the counter itself.  The thought of placing the dirty utensil in the dishwasher is a a puzzle that no one has the answer to.  And then there are the glasses....everywhere half full of something...water, blue stuff, juice from the morning.  Did I mention we have a dishwasher and it works?  Not that many in my family seem to understand.  So here it is dinner time and the kitchen looks like that Fabreeze commercial where they try to convince us, the audience that a simple puff of their stuff and you only smell flowers.  That is my kitchen at times.  So I am a wimp and I let circumstances control my life, not this month!  We are eating nightly and I am working my far so good.

So back to last night, the kitchen was not a wasn't clean clean, but it was doable.  So here is what I did for dinner and it was a huge hit!


Green Chicken Enchiladas
This recipe is a nod to Mad Hungry

1 1/2 lbs of chicken breast-trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
1/2 an onion-diced
1 t. of kosher salt and several grinds of fresh cracked pepper
1-2 jalapeno-diced, seeded if you want less heat...I don't seed mine and it is perfect
1-2 T. olive oil or coconut oil
12 corn tortillas
2-3 c green salsa (I use Herdez)
2 cups of shredded cheese
1/2 of a wheel of Queso Fresco or more if you like
1 9x13 baking dish brushed with olive oil or coconut oil

In a large skillet heat oil, add the onion, chicken, and salt & pepper, cook for about 5 minutes.  Add your jalapeno towards the end, you don't want it to over cook, the whole dish will finish in the oven.

While your chicken and onions are cooking, in a small 8" skillet heat up one cup of the green salsa.  Now here is the strange part...take your corn tortilla and heat them up right on the burner.  I have gas and this works great...if you have a flat top then you will need to do this under the broiler.  Lay your corn tortillas out on a sheet pan, no over lapping.  Place your rack on the very top and slide your sheet pan in, watch them very closely, when they are starting brown and bubble and almost look like they are burning flip them over.  If you have gas or coil burners you can do it right on the burner.

Once you have all 12 corn tortillas a lovely charred around the edges look, set them aside for just a moment.  Is your chicken cooked?  Turn the heat off.  Get your cheeses out and the other cup or more of green salsa ready.  Here is the assembling....

Dip your tortilla into the skillet with the warmed salsa....
Place the tortilla in your 9x13, add about 1/4 c of the chicken mixture, add a bit of shredded cheese, roll and place in your baking dish seam side down.  Repeat till all the mixture and tortilla is gone.  If you have any extra mixture left that is okay you can spread it over the top of the enchiladas.

Break up the Queso Fresco cheese over the top of the enchiladas, and then add the rest of the green salsa. Pop into the oven at 350 for about 20-30 minutes.  When it is bubbly and starting to brown it is ready!

I serve this with a salad that goes on top:
Shredded lettuce, thinly sliced radish, tomatoes, shredded cheese and a bit more of the crumbled Queso Fresco
Everything topped with sour cream
You can also make a batch of Rice if you like.

This was a big hit last night and hubby told me it was a keeper.  It was so easy as well.  Give it a try and cook for your family tonight.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Last Days of School

Hard to believe that we are almost done with 2011-2012 school year.  It has been a rough year for all of us.  We have gone through cancer with several friends here at school and in our own family life.  We have watched our economy tank....Boeing leave Wichita....watched as jobs bottomed out and food prices soar.  This has been  a hard year to raise a family, feed a family and send our children to private school.

Sending our children to private school has not been a choice of privilege, but a choice of sacrifice.  We do not pay out for tuition because we are trying to keep up with "Jones" (who are in debt up to their eyeballs and their entire life style is built on a flimsy deck of cards).  We pay for private education because we have a set of core values that we want taught to our children.  We want a Christian based school, that our children will have lived out before them.  It is not just about is also about all the little things...watching a teacher bow their head before they eat lunch,  a chapel service that is dedicated to praying for a family who dealing with  cancer; listening to a 5 years old recite their very first memory verse.  We pay tuition so that our children are surrounded by Jesus, there is no other way to say it.  We pay tuition so that our children have every opportunity to know God, through us their parents, through their teachers, through their friends and through their school.  Overprotective?  Maybe....but I want to grow strong children that will have a fighting chance with their faith out in the world.  I realize God has no grandchildren, only first born, and I want my three children to have the best path to God I can provide.

So we pay tuition because we want strong christian, faith based, Christ centered world view, adults.  I think it is a bargain.....

Friday, May 18, 2012

May 8, 2012

Last night my father In law died. He slipped in to an uneasy and fretful sleep, his body only doing what it had done for 87 years, breathing. His breaths were hard and labored...he seemed to be sleeping; I think he was waiting... I brought dinner, potato soup, it is mom's favorite. Kathy, Kent, mom and myself sat down to a simpe meal...we talked and we even laughed. I realized that I could not hear dad breathing...had he slipped away while we were laughing? Do I say something or let everyone finish? I said nothing and as we cleared the table I went in to the bedroom, he was breathing but it was very shallow. I talked to him, said "I love you", and we were here, he was not alone. Kent came in and I told him, " Stay with him don't leave. Kent had tears streaming down his face as he sat with his dad and told him things; things that we struggle to say face to face when everything is right with the world. Statements like,  "Dad I love you, you were the best dad ever; Dad, you were my hero; I could not have had a better father". Kent prayed, he prayed that God would take him home and end this horrid suffering. All of a sudden dad raised his hand toward heaven, took a deep beath, let it out, took a shallow breath and let it out and did not breath again. By this time Krnt has called for us, we got mom in there as that last breathed escaped into eternity and took dad to Jesus's feet. Mom started to quietly weep as she watched her husband of 66 years walk into Heaven.  I sat next to her with my arms gently wrapped around her as she shook with soft sobs.  I cried as I watched people around me that I love dearly start a grieving process that always takes us by surprise.  We talked....we even laughed as we expressed what Dad would do first in Heaven.  For forty five minutes we sat with him and wished him a great home coming.

Then the actions of saying good bye started, calling sisters who were not there but on their way that Dad was gone form this world.  Pastor came over, more family.  When the Hospice Nurse arrived we moved out to the living room and got on with the business of dealing with the process of burying someone we loved.  It was hard, but it was also done with a sense of relief.  It was over, the waiting, the watching, the wondering of why.  Dad was in Heaven and we were left behind to wait out this life.  Sad but joyous all at the same time.  Also the realization of never hearing him laugh, argue with the TV about a news story that upset him, telling us stories of his younger years....all of that gone.  Now it would be our turn to tell those stories and keep the memory of who Dad was alive for a younger generation.  Good Bye Dad you are so loved.

May 14, 2012

Yesterday we buried dad....back to the business of burying someone we loved and saying final good byes.  It was hard, yet their was an element of joy.  Looking on his wasted body knowing that he was back to full form and strength...knowing that he could now climb any mountain, he was being sought after by those family members who went before him....he could see his dear mother again.  All of this was going through my mind as we walked through the entire funeral process.

We did the reading of the cards, then there was a family viewing for any who wanted to, I did not.  But when I got back to the reception hall where lunch was going to be served I lost it.  I saw my grown children walk in the door and that was it.  Each one held me as I cried.  I just wanted my children with me during this.

Then the Patriot Guard showed up.  Two of the hardest things for me, Veterans with flags saying good by to another Veteran.  We shook hands with each one and thanked them.  It was momentous, and dad would have liked it.

Then we ate and waited and waited....there was a lot of family and I do mean a lot, we filled the small church surprising the funeral director on our numbers.  Dad was the true patriarch of the family and everyone  came to say good-bye.  So we had to wait for about an hour, everyone visited and I sat with mom.  Ethan had to go back to her house and find her a sweater, she was freezing.  She called Ethan her hero of the day, because he found her a heavy pink sweater that worked out great.  She wore it the rest of the day.

The funeral began and we all filed in, Kent was next to mom with the wheel chair  and then me....Kent was going to to speak and I was so nervous about him being able to get through it.  First his niece by marriage got up and sang Amazing Grace, no music, with the most perfect voice I have ever hear.  Then the pastor then Kent.  I was praying, hard that God would give him the strength and peace to get through, and he did.  It was perfect and managed to speak out loud what we were all thinking.  Dad was a Patriot, He was a Passionate Outdoors man, and he was a Family Patriarch, and yes my hubby had to have alliteration!

When they took out dads coffin that is when I lost it again, it was so final.  Ethan was a pall bearer and I was very proud of him.  Clare was right behind me when we exited and she was crying, we just held each other and sobbed.  Emily came up and put her arms around the both of us.  It is a true joy when we can grieve together and not feel overly self conscious.

The grave site service was short and elegant.  Taps were played and the flag folded by the Marine Honor Guard.  They gave mom the flag and she will keep it with her.  It was hot out and mom was really getting tired.  So back to the house we went.  Along with all the family...about 50 or so.

We fed everyone and I soon fell asleep in a chair in Dad's man cave.  It was quiet and cooler in there and I was so tired.  We stayed until after 8 and finally heading home.  Note to self, take the next day off as well.  Both Kent and I were a mess.  Tired and emotional empty.  But life does go on, regardless of what we are feeling or needing.  The grieving has just started for all of us and we walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  And remember for God's Born Again Children death is but a shadow that Jesus destroyed for all of us who choose His Gift.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Field Day

Tomorrow is Field Day...therefore it is Field Day Lunch....our biggest day of the year.  We spend a week getting ready for it.  Here is the break down...

350 fresh hamburgers
250 all beef Angus hot dogs
Honey Wheat Buns
BBQ Baked Beans
Fresh Strawberries
Fresh Fruit
and of course Monster Cookies!

We are hoping for about 400-450 with parents and siblings.  So we have 500 Monster Cookies staring us in the face...and yes they are good, they are very good.  They make the entire building smell incredible. Both of our walk-in freezer and fridge are stuffed to the gills, we have to pull stuff out in order to move around.  There are two cases of Allen's Baked Beans ready to be duded up with BBQ sauce, brown sugar and a bit of mustard....they really are very good.  And next to the Monster Cookies are the fresh ripe strawberries, some of the first of the season.  They are so sweet, like little red sugar jewels.  And that is lunch for tomorrow.

Here is the recipe for the BBQ Baked Beans:

2 large cans of your favorite baked beans, Allen's or Bushes are my favorites (28 oz )
6 strips of good bacon, diced
1 onion diced
1/2 c of BBQ sauce
1/4 c of good mustard
1/2 c brown sugar
kosher salt and a lot of fresh cracked pepper

In a large skillet cook the bacon until crispy, remove to paper towel.  In the pan with the bacon fat add your onions and cook till they are soft and starting to break down.

Add your beans, BBQ sauce, mustard, brown sugar, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to low.  Let this simmer for about 20 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning and top with the bacon bits.

I love duding up my BBQ Baked Beans....I think it is called speed scratch start with a pre-done items and go from there.  Such as a rotisserie chicken, or a real ham.  All kinds of simple dinner ideas...

Thursday, April 26, 2012


I like normal, I actually crave it.  I like routine and everyday things...I love coming home from work, getting a little nap in, helping my husband with chores, cooking dinner, doing laundry, and just sitting and knitting.  I also love to sit outside and watch my chickens, donkeys and dogs play.  I am a very boring person, and I love it.  But my life is taking a huge change...things are happening very quickly, some of it is very very good, and another is extremely sad.  So our lives are up in the air and I struggle to get the simple things done around the house.  My house right now is a wreck and I hate that, that is not normal, we have chickens to process this weekend and I have a short fast trip down to my moms.

My husband father is just this side of Heaven.  I am calling these his glory days....days spent waiting for God to take him home to heaven and be cradled in his arms.  I know once he is on that side of heaven he will never wish to return to this side.  He will see the perfection God has created us for and start living his real life; he is done with this temporary sinful existence.  Glory Days!

The other news is happy and startling....34 years ago I gave up a baby girl for adoption to a christian couple who could not have children.  I wanted to protect her from the stigma and looks that would have been cast her way so many years ago.  Back then the church in general could not separate bad behavior from the consequences....a small innocent baby who did not deserve those looks.  I wanted her raised by a two parent family who themselves were believers.  I prayed always that she was safe, happy and growing up well.  I prayed that she would find her way back to me, but it would be her choice, not my invasion.  Through Adoption Angles I was found.  They asked if I wanted to peruse this and I said yes.  So right then and right there they did a three way call and I was talking to her.

This all a bit surreal and a bit weird.  I have no context for this outside of a happy heart and love that has been stored up for 34 years.  I am not her mom, she has one, but  I am her mother in that I gave birth, made the biggest sacrifice outside of giving my own life for her.  I have had a hole in my heart for her and now I have the opportunity to fill it.

I am being careful and have cautioned her, that if we have unattainable expectation we will fail.  I don't want to fail.  So we are starting as friends, with a life long connection and working from there.  We have to build memories, and companionship, we have to get to know one another!  And for her, bless her heart, there are a lot of us!  We will work at easing into this relationship..

With all of that said, I still have my boring life here in Kansas and cooking family meals, or at least pretending to right now.  I have been using my Emeals menu planner and their new Clean Eating menu....I love it, no processed food what so ever.  I have made several of the recipes and love the ease and how good they really are.  Tonight I am making 5 Star Chinese Spice Pork with rice and fresh snow-peas.  I will make this at my in-laws tonight so that we can enjoy a meal together.  The recipe is so simple; it only takes about 20-30 minutes to put together.  The rice takes the longest.  Check out Emeals and for $15.00 underthings three months it is a huge bargain!

Here is my take on Emeals Bolognese Meat Sauce

2 T. olive oil
1 cup of diced onion
1/2 c diced carrots
1/2 c diced celery
3 cloves of garlic smashed and minced
2 lbs of lean ground beef or a mix of sweet Italian pork and beef
1 c beef broth (organic, please)
1 28 oz can of whole roma tomatoes with basil
1 28 oz can of pureed tomatoes
3 bay leaves
2 heaping T. of good Italian seasoning blend (I use Spice Island)
2 lbs of pasta, your choice

In a large cast iron skillet (American made and safe)  add 2 T. of olive oil, heat set at medium.  Add the veggies, onions, carrots, celery and cook for about 5 minutes; add the garlic and continue to cook for about 2 minutes.
Add the ground beef and or pork breaking it up with the back of a spoon, or my favorite tool Pampered Chef's  Mix & Chop.  Cook the meat till no longer pink and all the liquid has cooked off.  You can drain it, but I like to continue cooking till the liquid has evaporated...I think the meat taste more meaty...
Add everything through the tomatoes...both cans.  Break the roma tomatoes up; they will cook down as well.  Add the bay leaves and let this simmer for at least 30  minutes on very low, and hour would even be better.  About 5 minutes before serving stir in the Italian seasoning...let it simmer for another 5-10 minutes.  Prepare your pasta according to package...make sure your water is heavily salted, like sea water.

Enjoy and go take a look at Emeals

Thursday, April 12, 2012


More baby chicks arrived today!!  Twenty-five balls of yellow fluff.  They are so cute and fun to watch.  They will soon follow our other meat chicks onto the pasture.

The bottom picture is of red star pullets, our choice for laying hens.  We bought several last year and they lay well.  Also, their eggs are large and so tasty with deep yellow-orange yolks and solid whites that are not watery. And there is a cute factor going for them.  When I walk up to their area they all whoosh to the side farthest away and act like the world's biggest chicken hawk just flew over.

We love our little babies, but also know they must pay their way on the farm.  And so, as we welcome new babies into our world, some of the older hens will get harvested and beome nice big stewing hens for a hug pot of chicken noodles.   

Our meat birds are Cornish Cross Rocks. This breed has been bred to have larger portions of breast meat, a larger meat-to-bone ratio with legs are that are far apart in order to support their weight.  They convert feed to meat more economically than any other breed.  They look different and they do act different, but they are the type of chicken you are use to - the one in the meat section at the supermarket.

We raise ours on pasture...that means they are outside eating grass, bugs and their organic feed.  They breathe fresh air, not the fecal dust common in chicken factories.  They have lots of room to walk, attempt to fly, chest bump and squawk.  Each has its own personality and has the right to a good life this side of the processing table.  We raise them in comfort and sunshine.  So far they have loved it,  although they are getting very large and processing time is getting closer... 

        Now, to another topic...I have found a new food issue that has made me nauseated.....I mean, makes me queasy and just turns my stomach.  Go to Robin O'Brian and watch the video to the right. Watch the part where companies such as Kellogg, Coke, and Kraft change their recipes for the European market but feel it is okay to do this to us.  Listen carefully and let me know what you think.  I hope you are as angry as I am.  Please comment here!