Monthly Archives: August 2011

Chicken enchiladas with red sauce.

So delicious & so easy!

A half recipe more than filled us up, but I’ll post the full recipe anyway. I got it from Better Homes & Gardens.

  • 4 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 can (4 oz.) green chilies
  • 1 cup lowfat sour cream, plus more to serve with
  • 8 oz. shredded Mexican blend cheese, divided
  • 16 6-inch tortillas
  • 2 cans (10 oz. each) red enchilada sauce
  1. Preheat your oven to 375.
  2. In a large bowl, combine chicken, undrained chilies, sour cream, & 1 cup of the cheese.
  3. Spread 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Spoon chicken mixture down the center of a tortilla, roll up, & place, seam side down, in the bottom of the dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas & chicken mixture.
  4. Bake, covered, 20 minutes or until heated through.
  5. Remove from oven, remove foil, & sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake another 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

 

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Skinny Veggie Ziti.

It looks like I need to adjust my schedule slightly… I usually write my Monday-morning post on Saturday evening, but I just got called to teach the 3-year-olds at church — there are 8 of them & only 1 of me — so guess what I was doing Saturday night? How did it go? Well, let’s just say that I need to prepare more than I did last week. MUCH more.

So here I am, writing my Monday-morning post on Monday night. But it’s worth the wait, I promise!

Have you visited skinnytaste.com? If you haven’t, you definitely need to head over there & browse Gina’s recipes. She’s great at replicating the tastes of favorite meals & decadent desserts, but making them lowfat & better for you! She even includes Weight Watchers points values, for those of you who have the willpower to do that (I applaude you). This is her vegetarian baked ziti recipe. It’s low in fat, delicious (a huge hit with my whole family!), & makes a TON. So as always, I make a small pan (8×8) for now — we still had leftovers! — & freeze the rest for later.

But I’ve been running into a problem lately with my beloved foil pans: as you probably know, tomato sauce reacts with the aluminum, causing the entire dish to taste like you’re eating a can. No good! For tomato-based dishes like my stuffed shells, I had been lining the foil pan in parchment paper & then adding another layer of parchment on top before covering it with foil, but I just discovered something new & SO much easier!

Paper baking pans! I honestly can’t remember who makes them — Hefty, maybe — but I just know when I saw them at the grocery store I NEEDED THEM. They seal up so nicely with their own little lids too, don’t they? The only negative is that they don’t fit into my gallon freezer bags like the smaller foil ones did, so we’ll see how leftovers fare for extended periods in the freezer, but at least there’s no more metallic taste or parchment paper lining! Hooray!

Okay, now for what you really came here for: the recipe.

  • 1 package (usually they’re 14.5 oz.) high-fiber short pasta (we used Piccolini penne because they’re cheap at Costco)
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed & drained
  • 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil (I used 1 Tbsp. dried)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 8 oz. fat-free ricotta (I could only find part-skim, so I used that)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan
  • 2 cups (8-oz. pkg.) shredded part-skim mozzarella
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Spray baking dishes with cooking spray.
  2. Cook pasta as directed on package. Drain & return to pot.
  3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil on medium heat in a medium saucepan. Saute garlic until fragrant.
  4. Add spinach & tomatoes.
  5. Stir in oregano, basil, & salt & pepper.
  6. Pour sauce into the pot with the pasta & mix well. Add ricotta, Parmesan, & half of the mozzarella (1 cup). Mix well.
  7. Spread in bottom of prepared baking dishes. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Put extra dish in the freezer.
  8. Bake 27 minutes (for an 8×8 pan — 30 min. for a 9×13 if you’re not freezing leftovers) or until bubbly, cheese is melted, & edges are beginning to brown.


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“It’s Shake & Bake {Potatoes}, & I helped!”

Anyone else remember those commercials? Well, these potatoes don’t use the Shake & Bake mix you buy at the store; you use your very own herbs & seasonings. This keeps the sodium level down — a plus! We seriously love these potatoes. The recipe first came from one of my Young Women’s leaders in — you guessed it — the ward cookbook! That thing is worth its weight in gold, I tell you what. Since then I’ve started customizing the spices to complement whatever meal I happen to be making. They’re delicious every time!

  • A couple lbs. of potatoes of your choice (we like reds & sweets), cut into 1-inch cubes (peel the sweet potatoes & russets first)
  • 1 med. onion, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or enough to coat)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • seasonings of choice (see below)

Seasonings: The original recipe calls for approx. 2 Tbsp. dried rosemary & salt & pepper to taste. This way is delicious! So is using dill in its place. Tonight, though, I went with Herbes de Provence Sea Salt & my Steakhouse Grinder.

  1. Preheat your oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Let your kitchen helper help you put the potato & onion chunks in a gallon Ziploc bag.
  3. Add garlic & olive oil. (You can add seasonings at this point too, but I prefer adding them later to keep it even & reduce the amount I use.)
  4. Let your kitchen helper shake it up!
  5. This is where I sprinkle on the seasonings evenly.
  6. Arrange in a single layer on your prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes or until fork-tender.

Let me know what seasonings you decide to use!

Tidy Mom

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Steaks & rolls on a weeknight? Oh yes, I did! (& you can too!)

I wish I could say there was some inspired reason for breaking the Sunday Dinner mold like this. But to be honest, the steak was the first thing I saw when I opened the freezer to decide what to make for dinner tonight.

The rolls? Rhodes Bake-N-Serv rolls. Just pull as many as you want out of the freezer, & 3 hours later you have hot, fresh rolls straight out of the oven! If you’re coming home from work/soccer/Brownies/etc., they even have a quick 1.5-hour way! They really are a miracle. & they’re tasty too. We get them at Target.

Once the rolls are out of the oven, I follow the Frugal Flambe’s method for Grilling Without a Grill. I’ve mentioned it before, but I really can’t get enough of it!

Stick your cast-iron grill pan in the oven & turn it up to 500 degrees. Then take your room-temperature steak & season it how you like. He suggests salt, seasoned salt, onion salt, garlic salt, & pepper. I just kind of play with it; tonight I used garlic pepper, lemon herb seasoning, garlic salt, & this yummy potlatch seasoning.

Once the oven reaches 500 degrees, pull your grill pan out onto a medium-high burner. Splash both sides of your steaks with some Worcestershire & a spritz of PAM canola oil to keep them from sticking to the pan. Sear them for 1-2 minutes on each side, then USE YOUR OVEN MITT (not speaking from experience or anything) to put the pan, steaks & all, back in the oven for 8 minutes.

Finally, pull it back out, cover it loosely with foil for a few minutes to tenderize, & treat yourself & your family to a fancy dinner on a weeknight!

This could be a great idea for someone’s weeknight birthday or other special occasion, or just because that’s what was in the freezer!

works for me wednesday at we are that family

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Cast Party Wednesday

36th Avenue

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The meal that saved the day.

It was one of those days.

It had been raining for three days straight (whoever named Florida the Sunshine State was clearly not here during monsoon season) & we hadn’t been to the park or pool in at least that long. At one point I even heard The Munchkin talking in her sleep about wearing her “other swimsuit” at the swimming pool. In her sleep, people! Clearly this child needed to be outside.

But no. It was still raining. & Mommy was running out of ideas to keep both of us sane until Daddy got home after 7.

So Mommy put some chicken breasts in the sink to thaw for yet another humdrum dinner recipe, put on Mary Poppins (desperate times call for desperate measures), & sat down in front of the computer to look for a recipe for some tilapia I’d just bought on sale. I didn’t find one I loved the sound of (suggestions please!), but what I did find saved the day.

Mel’s Kitchen Cafe’s Honey Glazed Chicken got me excited about cooking again! It got My Husband The Lawyer excited to eat it when he walked in the door & smelled it! & it got The Munchkin excited to eat chicken without being bribed with grapes for once!

It sounds silly now that I’m sitting here typing this, but sometimes all it takes is a new yummy recipe to shake things up a bit & pull you out of your it’s-been-pouring-for-3-days-&-I’m-going-crazy rut to keep you sane for just one more day.

Here’s how I made it; I increased the oven temp to shorten cooking time (this recipe was a last-minute decision) & doubled the sauce recipe for you so that you have enough for your rice too — when I made it I halved the amount of chicken (3 breasts was plenty for the 3 of us) but not the sauce, & it was deeeeeelicious. Check her blog to see the real way.

  • 2 lbs. chicken breast, diced
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • salt & pepper to taste (I’ve been loving my Steakhouse Grinder lately & used it for this)
  • 6 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 6 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 4 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  1. Preheat your oven to 350. Combine flour, garlic powder, & salt & pepper in a shallow dish.
  2. Melt 2 Tbsp. of your butter & pour into the bottom of a baking dish large enough to fit all of your chicken a single layer.
  3. Coat chicken pieces evenly in flour, then arrange in bottom of dish.
  4. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan on medium heat, combine remaining butter with honey, lemon juice, soy sauce, & ginger. Stir constantly until butter is melted & sauce is well blended.
  6. Remove chicken from oven & increase temperature to 375. Flip over each piece of chicken.
  7. Pour sauce evenly over chicken, then place back in the oven & bake another 20 minutes, basting with a spoon a few times (twice was fine for me) during that time. The chicken will be nice & glazed & delicious.
  8. Serve over rice.


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Oatmeal-Raisin Pancakes.

Our first Valentine’s Day as new parents was a family occasion: we went to breakfast at the highly-touted Uptown Cafe in Bloomington. There I tried the special of the day, oatmeal-raisin pancakes. They were sublime… probably the best pancakes I’d ever had.

So tonight, for “brinner” (breakfast for dinner — any other Scrubs fans out there?), I decided to make my own. I found an oatmeal pancakes recipe over at Bees Knees Recipes as my jumping-off point. The result? Well, let’s just say that if they were this tasty even with an uneven-heating electric range & my atrocious pancake-flipping skills (if you could even call them that), they’ve gotta be great!

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup raisins (or to taste)
  1. In a large bowl, combine oats & milk & let stand 5 minutes. (I let it stand while I got my frittata ready to go in the oven.)
  2. In a smaller bowl, combine dry ingredients.
  3. Add vanilla, eggs, & applesauce to oat mixture & mix well. Then blend in flour mixture. Finally, stir in raisins.
  4. Use a 1/4-cup measuring cup to ladle batter for each pancake onto your nonstick griddle. You’ll likely need to stir the batter up again with each batch to keep the raisins from settling at the bottom.
  5. Serve with delicious butter syrup (below). For some reason, regular old plain syrup doesn’t cut it anymore for us!

Butter syrup:

Just put a 2:1 ratio of syrup (doesn’t need to be pure — we use Log Cabin) to butter in a Pyrex measuring cup & melt in the microwave. Swirl, pour over pancakes, & enjoy!

Tidy Mom

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Finding balance in transitions.

photo courtesy of Microsoft Office Online

My Husband The Lawyer (yay! We can finally say that!) has been officially employed for 2 weeks. He gets home after 7 every night. Because of this, we’ve had to move dinner & bedtime back, just so he can get an hour of face time with The Munchkin. Days are long (for him & for me). Patience is short (that’s just me). The Munchkin is also starting to reject naps, choosing instead to lie in her bed & talk to herself for over an hour before finally dropping off for less than that… & then getting cranky at like 6:30. That makes patience shorter.

After the mad “Daddy’s home, eat dinner, clean up, bath, PJs, teeth, hair, binky, story, prayer, kisses, lullabye, bed” rush, My Husband The Love Of My Life & I have less than 2 hours to do the stuff we didn’t get to during the day (blog posts, emails, dishes, etc.), get ready for bed… oh, & that thing called “interacting.” (Apparently sitting next to each other on the couch with the TV on while mutely staring at our own laptops doesn’t count.)

Then Saturday comes. We try to cram in all the family time we didn’t get during the week, & are completely exhausted for church on Sunday. We may or may not get a post-church nap. We chat with family, eat dinner, go to bed…

& do the whole thing over again the next week.

So if the quality of the photos, or depth of writing, or amount of inspiration here at Make Myself at Home has been lacking over these past couple weeks, that would be why. I’m trying to find a good time to write & brainstorm, but it’s a work in progress. Thanks so much for your patience with me & for your friendly comments! It definitely helps on those days when I’m thinking I have nothing to write about. Thanks for holding me accountable; hopefully things will get back to — & even exceed — the level you’ve come to expect.

Stay tuned!

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