Chicken, Chile, and Cheese Enchiladas

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I had some leftover chicken from the other night that I wanted to use up.  It was chicken that I had marinated in lemon and a few spices, so perfect for making enchiladas.  I also used some pablano chiles that I had roasted, cleaned and froze about two months ago.  I found a big bag of them at a store, used some for my chile rellenos but still had several left that I didn’t want to go to waste.  Of course you can use canned, but if you have the opportunity to use fresh or fresh frozen, then definitely go that route.  Also, I would like to point out that I did not use any cream of (insert name here) soup, something about that stuff is just so strange to me.  Yes, I know a lot of you love the stuff…

For the Recipe:

3 tbsp. butter

3 tbsp. flour

2 c. chicken stock

1 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, or you can use fresh garlic (2 cloves minced)

1 tsp. coriander powder

salt to taste, be sure to taste before adding since chicken broth can vary in saltiness

7 tortillas (one will be used for the crispy tortilla strips)

2 poblano chiles, roasted, cleaned and cut into strips (you can use canned if you do not have fresh)

8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

2 c. cooked chicken

1 c. canned black beans, rinsed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a saucepan melt the butter, add the flour and whisk together.  Let cook for a few minutes so it can take on a little color, it won’t be much, you are not going for a dark roux.  While you are whisking add the chicken stock and whisk well.  Next add all the spices, but not the salt.  Let this mixture thicken up, takes about 5 minutes.  Taste the creamy mixture for salt, add to taste.  In an 8″ x 11″ (or something close) baking dish add almost half the mixture, save the rest to top the enchiladas.  Now time to assemble the enchiladas.

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Take a tortilla, lay down some cheese, then a couple chile strips, chicken and a light sprinkle of black beans, place into the baking dish.  Repeat with five more tortillas.  Cover the finished enchiladas with the remaining creamy mixture, top with the remaining cheese, chiles (I chopped the strips up so they would be easier to eat) and black beans.

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Cover with aluminum foil, bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the enchiladas are melted and bubbly.

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While the enchiladas are baking you can fry the tortilla strips.  Heat enough oil to 350 degrees in a pan so the tortilla strips can fry.  Take the remaining tortilla and cut into strips.  Toss into the oil, they will fry up very quickly so don’t walk away.  They will take about 1 1/2 minutes at the most.  Drain on paper towels and use to top the enchiladas for a little crunch.

I served with a basic salad of lettuce, radish and tomato with a little fresh lime juice.  Enjoy!

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Thai Coconut Chicken

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I had a taste for something very flavorful and used only ingredients I had on hand.  Now let me say, my pantry does not look like most, or should I say the contents of my pantry.  Probably the majority of you will have to head to the store in order to make this, so before you get all annoyed that you didn’t have the items on hand I just wanted to state that.  Ok, let’s move on…  I used chicken thighs tonight, which I prefer over the breasts, but scallops, fish, shrimp or even pork would really go great in this sauce.

For the Recipe:

2 stalks of lemongrass, cut off the tops, give the rest a good whack and mince

1 2 inch piece of ginger, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 thai chiles, take the seeds out to lower heat, cut into little strips (you can always add more for more heat)

1 1/2 tsp. palm sugar (if you don’t have substitute regular sugar)

1/4 c. cilantro, chopped

4 tbsp. fish sauce, you might need more at the end depending on your taste

6 boneless and skinless chicken thighs (you can substitute chicken breasts)

1 can coconut milk

2 kefir lime leaves, torn to release flavor

In a mortar and pestle grind the lemongrass, ginger, garlic, thai chiles, and palm sugar.  Grind it until it becomes a chunky paste, then put in a bag with the chicken, cilantro and fish sauce.  Let this marinate for 4-6 hours.  In a sauce pan add the coconut milk, kefir lime leaves and all the contents of the bag.  Let cook over medium heat until the chicken is cooked, about 25 minutes.  Taste for seasoning, if you feel it needs a little more salty taste add more fish sauce.

Serve with jasmine rice.

**Mr. Housewife likes his food much spicier than I do so I sliced up an extra thai chile for him to sprinkle on his bowl.

Peking Spam Bao

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You read that correctly, Spam…  I don’t know what my new found obsession with the stuff is exactly about, all I know is I have about six more cans to experiment with.  I know Spam comes in all kinds of flavors, but I’m not a huge fan of pre-flavored food.  When people pick up the meat that already has a marinade on it in the meat department I cringe.

How did I come up with the idea of Peking Spam you might wonder, well I’m wondering the same thing.  I was going through my spices and front and center was my five spice.  Then the thought of Peking duck popped in my head, but since I didn’t have a duck handy and I did have some Spam, well….

For the Recipe:

1 can low sodium Spam

1 tbsp. brown sugar

1 tbsp. honey

1 tbsp.five spice

2 tsp. hoisin sauce

1/2 tsp. sesame oil

1 tbsp. water

Slice the Spam a little more than 1/4 inch thick.  Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.  Dip each piece of Spam into the mixture then place in a bag (or you could use a container), cover with the remaining mixture.

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Let sit for at least 8 hours, but overnight is preferred.

Since there is such a high content of sugar in the marinade you cannot just fry up the Spam, you need to do a sort of braise.  In a pan you will want to add a little water and some of the marinating sauce, I did 1 tablespoon water to every teaspoon of marinade.  You will want to do enough of this liquid to make sure the Spam sits in it.  I did a pan large enough to do three slices, for this I did 1 tablespoon water and 1 teaspoon marinade, so you get an idea.  Cook over medium low heat, turning after three minutes (adjust time according to your stovetop).

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The liquid should evaporate letting the Spam cook in the dry pan for about a minute on each side, but be careful, they will burn easily if you have the heat too high or you leave them on the dry pan for too long.

I served mine with my favorite Momofuku buns and julienned cucumbers and green onions.

How Much Space Does a Family Need

After living in the apartment for over seven months I would have thought that any size house would seem spacious to me.  The apartment is roughly 1200 square feet, with four people living in that amount it seems more like 600.  When I was single and lived in an apartment I never even thought much about the size of my living space.  The usually hovered around 800-1200 square feet and that was just fine, for me.  My first home wasn’t even 2000 square feet, but then it was just myself and a roommate, so again, not many people to share the space.  The home my husband and I purchased in 2006 was a little over 4000 square feet, and it seemed so large to me.  Then the twins came and it seemed to shrink.

When we started the house hunt I would put the parameter for square footage at 3000 square feet, seemed like that would be large enough…. When we toured a home that was right around that mark I felt like it was way too tight of a fit.  How could that be?  That’s a fairly large home and yet I felt uncomfortable.

That night I looked up homes with 4 bedrooms under 3000 square feet, there were tons.  Words like spacious, roomy, etc. were in all of their descriptions, but why wasn’t I feeling that?  My only explanation is I grew comfortable with having a little more extra space so not having it made me feel squeezed into a home.  The twinadoes are a lot to handle and they need space, we need space from them.  Yes, I know, you all want to spend every waking moment with your little precious’ and not be apart… me, I need my sanity.

I’m really curious as to the size of homes people live in, how many people reside in the home, and how comfortable they are with their given space.  I know I’m lucky to be able to have a little extra space, and I’m thankful for that.  But maybe some would fine the space uncomfortable and would prefer it to be a little more cozy.  I would love to know what you think.

Buying a Home is Work…

This coming week there are deadlines galore regarding Awesome Opossum, and since everything is on a deadline I can’t slack off.  After this week it will pretty much be smooth sailings as far as paperwork goes.

Next week is the home inspection, we are keeping our fingers crossed that there will be no issues.  The gentleman we are purchasing the home from (Mr. Crabby Pants) will not be open to any kind of repairs, we’ve already been warned by The House Hunter.  It’s not like I don’t get that he is unhappy about losing so much money on his home, we too lost a pretty penny when we sold ours, but that’s just the current real estate market.  If little things are flagged Mr. Housewife and I have agreed that we will take care of them ourselves, however, if something major is flagged and he refuses to fix it then we will walk away from this home.  The House Hunter totally agrees with us on this.

We haven’t been given a date for the appraisal, but I am not worried at all about this one.  Our realtor compared it to comparable homes in the area, as well as the estimates given by some of the real estate sites and it comes in way below any of their estimates.  Kind of makes the sting of losing money on our house a little less painful.

Then the waiting game happens.  We wait for all the paperwork to be filed, titles cleared, and money exchanged.  Our closing date was officially moved up to March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day.  That is a good sign…

Once we get to the point of no return we will reserve the movers, schedule the cable company to come out and hook up all the necessities of modern life, give the green light for the security cameras at the gate to be installed, change our address and prepare to depart from apartment living.

I’ve never really adjusted to living here, mostly because I knew it was temporary.  If this were going to be our forever home then I would have mentally prepared for it and been much more accepting.  I would have done what I needed to do to make the best of it.  In all honesty, there were some pretty cool perks with living here.  Being so close to everything was great, I even got so spoiled that the thought of driving over ten minutes seemed like a freaking cross country trek.  But I’ll happily give that up to have a garage that isn’t a quarter mile from my front door, or worrying about the twinadoes being too loud for the neighbors, not having a garden or any kind of yard.

All the work it takes to buy a home is worth it!!

Awesome Opossum

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This is Awesome Opossum.  How did she get that name?  We had a day full of looking at homes, so in order to keep them straight we gave them names.  There was the Paula Dean, Creeper McCreepster, and Norman Rockwell to name a few.  As soon as I walked into this house I knew I was home.  It was awesome opossum.

The list of features that this house had just kept going and going.  It checked off almost all items on my wish list, some going way over my expectations.

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The kitchen left me speechless.  All appliances were my favorite, Viking, and to top it off… the pot filler.  I can’t wait to fill pots and pots of water.

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The butler’s pantry was nothing less than amazing.  The wine fridge with the two bottom drawers made me want to become a wine drinker.  What you can’t see is directly across from the wine fridge are these amazing cupboards.

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The formal dining room is quite spacious.  I don’t think my current dining room table is going to be big enough, but for now it will work just fine.

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This will become my office.  It’s on the main level and would not be a good work space for Mr. Housewife.  The twinadoes would never let him be.  There is a room on the lower floor that is the workout room, however, there will be enough space to fit a desk for him.  The reason this is the perfect office?  There is a door that leads outside, so he can act like he’s going to work, then head around the house and go in that room from the outside.  The twinadoes will never know he’s down there and he will be able to work in peace.

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Off the kitchen is this living room.  It is huge and open, but it totally works.  This is what makes this home so perfect for entertaining.  You can easily entertain a large number of people and nobody would trip over each other.

awesome oposum2 Just another view from the living room.

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Main floor laundry room.  I have never had a laundry room this large.  Facing the sink are more cabinets.  It’s possible I got a little more excited over this room than I thought I would.

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The lower level will be great for watching movies, letting the twinadoes go wild and also for more entertaining.  The first picture is where we will watch our movies.  The owner put in this amazing entertainment system and blackout shades.  Mr. Housewife got giddy when he saw the closet that housed all the equipment.  The second picture is another part of the room, it has the wet bar with yet another wine fridge (I think this guy really liked his wine), ice maker, dishwasher and sink.  The bar counter is the most gorgeous piece of wood, I really need to take a picture of it.  The mantle on the fireplace matches the bar counter.  What you don’t see is the hallway that leads to the workout room (previous seller is leaving some really nice equipment)/Mr. Housewife’s office, and a bathroom.

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This is the master bathroom, at least part of it.  This thing is huge.  The shower could hold a small army and the shower tray is stainless steel, it’s really cool.  You don’t see the little room next to the shower that holds the toilet.  The short hallway has a little linen closet.  Across from the sinks is the master closet, none of that annoying white wire closet shelving!!

The upstairs is all bedrooms, which is what I prefer.  It’s like the personal space of the home that doesn’t need to be disturbed when you entertain.

awesome opossum12Do you hear the birds chirping and the angels singing?  When I saw this greenhouse I sure did.  I am in love with this greenhouse and I cannot wait to get it set up.

One of the downsides of this home is the yard, at least right now.  It’s a little shy of 3 1/2 acres, but it’s not flat.  The upper part of the property has zero lawn, the “yard” is  landscaped with mostly native plants with a few flowers, Japanese maples and a few other bushes mixed in.  The owner still has the blueprint for the plans, it has the name of every plant/bush/tree used.  I was amazed when I saw it.

There is a drop in the backyard and that drop lands on the second half of the property on the street below.  In the future we would like to build stairs and decks that will lead to the bottom.  When we are done it will be very relaxing and an extension of the party feel of the house.

Every other home we viewed looked worse in person, some I’m still not convinced they are the same house shown on the web.  Awesome Opossum looked so much better.  Whoever wrote the listing must have been in a hurry or something because they missed some really attractive features, but maybe that is good, it kept buyers away until I came along.

Our names are not on the deed just yet, but hopefully come March 17th (I’m actually trying to move that date up) they will be.  I’m going to think positively and not think about “what if something goes wrong”.  For now I’ll start getting rid of extra stuff that I purchased for our stay in the apartment that I have no desire to take with us.  I’m hoping that this summer will be a great season for us.

Anyone have suggestions how I should decorate Awesome Opossum?

 

Sopapillas

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For several years I’ve been saying I’m going to make sopapillas at home, I mean come on, they are sweet, crunchy and super easy.  I’ve had both this kind and the more beignet type, both equally delicious, just this one is so much easier to make.

For the Recipe:

oil for frying

4 four tortillas, cut into triangles or whatever shape you want

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tbsp. sugar

honey and whipped cream or ice cream, optional

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Heat oil to 350 degrees in a pan.  Mix the cinnamon and sugar, set aside, but close enough so you can sprinkles the tortillas when they come out of the oil.  Once your oil is heated start frying the tortilla triangles.  They do not take long at all, if your oil is too hot you will know right away.  About 30 seconds per side is all you will need.  Set them on some paper towels to drain and immediately sprinkle with the sugar mixture.

To serve, you can either do as I did which is place on a plate, drizzle with honey and top with a little dollop of whipped cream.  Another idea is to serve them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Both ways are equally delicious.

Enjoy!!