Friday, August 29, 2008

The best chicken enchiladas ever, I promise

So here is one of our favorite recipes here at our house.  I got the original from Tyler (family food network favorite!), but I've adapted it for our family.  Try it, you'll like it.  I have a few more insider tips at the bottom of the recipe.

Please don't let the long list of ingredients keep you from trying this. They can all be found at most grocery stores and they are very inexpensive.  This recipe is:
  • Economical
  • Low in fat
  • Freezable
What more could you want?

(None of these amounts are precise)
3 T vegetable oil
1 1/2 lbs bonless, skinless chicken breast I sometimes use more
salt and pepper
3-4 T Adobo or other mexican seasoning with cumin (measurement not necessary, you'll just be sprinkling chicken with this as it cooks)
1 onion, chopped can use red or white or whatever you have
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small can chopped green chiles you can also use whole canned chiles and just chop them
1/4 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, seeded and minced careful here- canned chipotles vary in their heat.  I've had some be very hot, others not as much.  Add them slowly and taste as you go.  You can also save the adobo sauce for adding a little to the sauce- so good!
1 28 can tomatoes- can use any canned tomatoes.  These will be part of the sauce that goes in the food processor, so it doesn't really matter if they are chopped, whole, have onion in them or are just plain.
a little flour
lots of corn tortillas- at least 16, but I just buy a large package at the store so I have plenty
1-2 large cans of enchilada sauce, or 1 large can.  Buy a couple extra just to have on hand
2 C shredded cheese- cheddar or jack or both

OK, now the fun part.  I love cooking this recipe.
Coat large saute pan with oil.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and mexican seasoning.  Brown until no longer pink inside.  Remove chicken from pan and let it cool.

Saute onion and garlic in chicken drippings until tender.  Add the onion first and let it go for a few minutes on medium low before adding garlic, as garlic will cook much faster.
Now add both green and chipotle chiles.  Stir.  Then add tomatoes and let the sauce all come together for a few minutes.  

After combined, I put my sauce in the food processor so it is not chunky.  It's not smooth like a puree, but I don't want chunks of onion and tomato in there.  After I've let it go for a few seconds in the food processor, I just put it right back in the pan on low.

While the sauce becomes so yummy you won't believe it, shred the cooked chicken breasts apart.  Take a taste, then add shredded chicken to saute pan and combine with sauce.  Dust with a little flour to keep it from being runny in your enchiladas.  We don't want runny enchiladas.

Microwave the tortillas for 30 seconds.  This takes the stiffness away and makes them soft like butter in your hands.  I microwave mine about 8 at a time so they don't have a chance to get stiff while I roll the enchiladas.  

Spray two 9x13 pans with Pam, then ladle enchilada sauce into the bottom of each pan.  Kind of like when you make lasagne- not too much sauce, though. Don't think puddles, just a light coating.  

Now I make a little assembly line- my plate of warm tortillas, a shallow dish of enchilada sauce, and a large amount of the chicken mixture in another bowl.  Prepare to get a little messy.  Dip each tortillas in enchilada sauce.  Then spoon some of the chicken mixture- not too much or you won't be able to roll the enchilada- in each tortilla and roll them up. You'll have to pause and heat the tortillas in batches. Place the enchiladas seam side down in the pans.  It may take a few to get the hang of it, but you are going to cover all this with cheese, so don't worry about perfection.  Cheese covers a multitude of cooking sins.

Once the pans are full of yummy enchiladas (my pans hold at least 10 enchiladas each- really more like 12-14), all you have to do is cover them with cheese and bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese melts.  I freeze one pan, and the other pan feeds our family of six with plenty of leftovers.  

This reheats very well, so you could make it a day ahead with no problem- just leave off the cheese the first time you bake it and add the cheese when you reheat the dish in the oven.

I usually serve this with black beans and yellow rice.  A green salad would be good, too.  Sour cream is a must.  

A few suggestions:
If you have extra chicken (in the sauce), it is great in quesadillas for lunch.

If at all possible, get your corn tortillas from a Mexican/Hispanic grocery.  These are becoming more and more common.  You can also find the chiles and enchilada sauce there as well.  I am not one to make a special stop for specialty groceries, but the Mexican grocery is in the same shopping center as our main grocery, so this works for me with very little hassle.  I would be willing to drive to a Mexican/Hispanic grocery, though.  You just won't believe the difference in the tortillas. 

But you can get all these ingredients at regular grocery stores as well, and these enchilada will still be really good with Pepito tortillas.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A day at the park

Sisters share a laugh (gotta love Caroline's hair!)

The boys take a walk with Daddy down to the lighthouse.
Brothers catch a few winks in a hammock.  All that playing was hard work.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Have some photos

Some of you only visit this blog for photos of my kids.  You know who you are.  Here you go:

Caroline shows some love to her cousin Jared.  They are only six weeks apart.  It's been so much fun to be pregnant and then a mom of a baby alongside my sister-in-law.  Isn't my nephew cute?

Josh coaches Sophie on the finer points of bike riding.  He lent her his old bike and even his helmet.  I'm seeing a pink bike with tassles and a Barbie helmet being necessary in the near future.
Brothers in motion at the beach 
More brother time at the Wright Brother's museum in Kitty Hawk.  Dad took them on an apparently very serious field trip.  Check out Josh's signature shirt tuck technique.
Uncle Bobby came for a short Fourth of July visit.  

Stay tuned- there are more where these came from.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Motherhood and quiet times

It seems like most mommies struggle with how and when to spend time alone with the Lord.  From your responses to this post, some of you find this time indispensable, some incorporate their own time with God with their children and there are those of us who struggle along for a long time before we find our groove.

Before I got married, it was my habit to spend an hour each morning reading my Bible and praying.  I used a vigorous Bible reading plan which led you through ten chapters a day from different books of the Bible.  

I loved doing this and I learned a lot, but I have to admit that I came to depend on this time to gauge my spiritual fitness.  You know, my day was 'good' if I had my quiet time and 'bad' if I didn't.  I was on good terms with God if I'd read my chapters and prayed, but if I hadn't started my day off this way, I didn't feel comfortable addressing the Lord for the rest of the day.

This 'make it or break it' attitude was based on my pride.  I was trusting in my accomplishments to earn God's favor or at least to earn my prayers being heard.  My husband helped me with this tremendously.  He reminds me of the truth that my quiet times didn't make God happy with me.  God is happy and satisfied in Christ Jesus and Jesus' perfect, Law-keeping sinless life and Jesus' death on my behalf.

So now I value my time with the Lord.  Jesus set an example for us when he met with the Father early in the morning.  God ministers the Word to me, reminding me of the gospel and I find strength and grace and hope before the Lord.  When I pray and read the Bible, I grow in my faith.  In no way do I want to take away from the importance of time with God.  

But we must understand that our quiet times don't make or break our relationship with God.  There are times, like when we have infants and toddlers, when we may need to take what we can get, and what we can get is seldom time alone to even visit the bathroom.  During times like this, take heart that God knows your needs.  He knows just where you are, and he looks at our hearts, not our schedules. 

If laziness is a problem in your life, by the grace of God ask for his help and your husband's accountability.  If you stay up too late to get up early, then seek change in this area.  But if you are exhausted because you have three children under three or your children are sick or you have a nursing baby who needs you through the night- take heart and trust God during this time.  

The Lord continues to keep me humble in this area- my kids will inevitably get up before me.  Or we'll have a really bad night right when I have scheduled to get up extra early.  Or I'll get a migraine.  You catch the drift.

So let's encourage each other to trust in Christ, use the time we have wisely and draw near to God any time of day or night.  Grab a minute to meditate on the Word while you are nursing the baby.  Give thanks to God for his provision while you cook dinner.  Pray with your kids as you put them to bed.  Put on a praise CD while you run errands.  Take the moments that you have and ask God for the strength and wisdom to find more time to meet with Him.  He delights in answering those prayers and you will be delighted when he does.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Thanks, everyone...

for all your responses to my quiet time question. I promise more discussion on that- the post has already been written- but I have a sick husband and I'm a little distracted.  Scott has some kind of crazy infection or some mystery ailment and is on a heavy antibiotic that is making him pretty sick.

I'm taking care of him by sitting next to him on the couch and watching tv and reading good books.  It's been hard, but I'm just glad to serve him.  Really, though, thanks for responding and we'll have a good talk about that soon!

Of course, we hope that this sickness is nothing serious and will pass quickly, but please pray for Scott's doctors that they will have wisdom to figure out what is going on with him.  Pray for us that we will treasure Christ more and we will put our hope in God.  Thanks, my friends!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Burdens and blogging and the gospel

Not a lot of posting going on this week, and I started to get really burdened by the empty 'new post' page in my mind.  I don't want my blog to become my burden, but an encouraging outlet to stay in touch with my friends and family and to share what God is doing here at our house.  

My sinful heart loves to take a good gift from God (like homeschooling, raising my children, keeping my home, making good food, blogging, and the list goes on) and turn it into a burden.  I am naturally drawn to laws and rules, and that is a problem because I can't keep laws and rules very well for very long.  That is why I needed a Savior.

What does that have to do with blogging?  Well, it goes something like this:  Blogging is good and fun and one of God's good gifts.  I have no commitment to blog. But now that I've started, I feel burdened if I don't post three times a week with thoughtful, funny or wise posts.  I can be having a good week busily serving my family with mopped floors, cared-for children, carefully planned meals- but the blog is neglected, so I'll worry about that!  

And if it wasn't the blog, it would be something else- you know, so you vacuumed the floors, but you didn't move the couch to vacuum underneath.  The laundry is caught up, but you didn't organize the closet.  Dinner is ready, but you only made one vegetable instead of two.  The kids are all bathed and well dressed, but Sophie's hair needs to be trimmed.

The heart and core of all of this is that I trust in my accomplishments and good works for peace with myself and (much more disastrously) peace with God.  But only Jesus lived a perfect life, always accomplishing the will of the Father.  When I dwell on the guilt of the undone task or the unwritten blog post, I am full of pride of the 'just maybe I could do all this and then all would be well.'  

And that is prideful.  And God opposes the proud.  But God gives grace to the humble. 

So my hope and prayer is that, by the grace of God alone, I would put to death this manifestation of pride in my life and start to cultivate humility.  That when the guilt comes and the voice of sin starts in, I would remember the gospel again- Jesus, God the Son, lived the perfect life that I could not live, kept the law that I have broken by my very nature. He died a cruel death, receiving the full wrath of God that should be directed at my sin so that instead God directs his grace and love toward me the sinner.  The Son took the place of the sinner so that the sinner could be received as a son.  (in my case, as a daughter)

Take a minute to soak in this truth, found in Romans 3: But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it- the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.  For there is no distinction:  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith... It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

There's not a lot I can add to Paul's words.  Let's be encouraged to remind ourselves of the gospel, talk to ourselves about the gospel, and preach the gospel to ourselves.  In this way we will protect our minds and hearts from being carried away into untruth, despair and sin.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It's late Sunday night,

and I can't sleep.  This is kind of funny because I've been exhausted since after lunch and now that I have the chance I can't sleep.  I thought I'd write out a few of the thoughts that are floating in my head and keeping me up.

We had a great VBS this past week.  We had over 50 kids which is great considering we have a small church and we live on a small island.  The gospel was clearly presented to these children, and we are praying that God will grow these gospel seeds in his time and draw these children to himself.

Once again, Lifeway did a fantastic job of offering a dynamic curriculum with all the bells and whistles.  

And, once again, Lifeway completely disappointed with a feel good gospel (I know what you are thinking- isn't the gospel supposed to make us feel good? well, yes, no, kind of- it's late) and lack of correct doctrine.  I hope to write more about that soon, but don't want to come across as super critical or cranky.  But I tend to be super critical and cranky about these things, especially stuff like the song that said something about Jesus saving us so that we could 'be a winner.'

On a much lighter and more pleasant note, my oldest son will turn 7 this week!  This is a great time for our family to celebrate God's goodness to us in giving us Carter.  Being the oldest son to two intense, semi-controlling-but-trying-not-to-be-by-God's-grace parents has its challenges, but Carter is an incredible blessing to our family in spite of his parent's (especially his mom's) shortcomings.  We are really looking forward to celebrating his birthday.

And, before I again get too tired to type, I just have to take a minute and tell you about the incredible man I am married to.  I was reminded again this week that I am a woman who has been given a amazing gift of a husband.  This man leads me in God's Word, reminds me of the gospel when I'm wallering in my sin, reads chapter books to our children before bed and then poetry to them after the lights are out.  He makes up incredible stories that take our kid's imaginations to faraway places.  

When he has the day off, he asks us what would make the day fun for us, leading us in a self-sacrificing attitude.  This kind of man showing this kind of love makes submission a light burden and being a wife a joy.

This morning he took the time to lovingly, biblically discipline our boys, even though it was Sunday morning and he was preparing to baptize, preach, and lead in the Lord's Supper.  He came home before evening services just to say hi and tell us that he missed us while he was at the church preparing.  And then, after we got the kids to bed tonight, when I came out to the family room to sit and relax with him, he had HGTV on and waiting.  What more could I ask for?  

Coming up this week: some thoughts on Mommy quiet time (thanks, everybody for your input!).  Now I'm off to try that sleeping thing again...

Monday, August 04, 2008

A bit of a crazy week

So we have VBS this week at church so I won't be posting much.  But please stop by and comment on the quiet time post.  Post coming about that soon!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

And the hair bow winner is...

Melanie at Whimsical Creations.

Congratulations!  Wasn't that fun?

Check out Melanie's etsy shop.