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...