Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Vacation and Cooking

The end of August, we went on our annual, week-long summer vacation to South Lake Tahoe. We had great weather (low 70s while there was a spike in temps back home) and we enjoyed a fire-free summer for a change. This was the first vacation in four years that we didn't have to worry about fires, smoke, headaches and Son #2's asthma. The wind was a little crazy towards the end of the week and it even hailed our last day in Tahoe. Different weather than we were used to but a great vacation nonetheless.

Every Mom knows that a Mom on vacation with her family never truly enjoys a "vacation-vacation." There's still cooking and cleaning that needs to get done so I usually need a vacation from vacation. :) This Tahoe trip actually felt like a real vacation for a change. Even though I made all our meals, I planned easy ones so it didn't feel like work. We didn't have much planned other than bike rides and beach days so it was quite relaxing. We all had a blast!

This year, we did our vacation on the cheap. I'm talking super cheap. On our drive up, I jotted down breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas for the week and then made my grocery list. The list worked out really well! We went grocery shopping as soon as we rolled into Tahoe, and because we bought all the food, I stuck to the menu. We saved loads of money by eating at home and packing lunches for our beach days. We didn't eat out at all. That was the first time we've vacationed like that. The easy, inexpensive and quick meals kept our costs down but also ensured that I'd continue to cook healthy meals for my fam.

Meal Planning is not only good for vacations but if you're a busy mom, too. If you have the food in the fridge and know what you're going to make, it keeps you from going through the drive-thru. Keep it simple so you stick to the plan. :) Leftovers are also great for fast meals. I'm a big believer in cook once, serve twice so don't be afraid to grill up some extra chicken, pork or steaks. Just be sure to change up the dish so you don't serve the same boring leftovers.

This post is dedicated to my friends who ask me how I manage to stay busy in the kitchen...

Cereal, fruit, bagels or quesadillas. The bacon and brie quesadilla was everyone's fave!
I cooked a large package of bacon in the oven and used a slice or two of bacon in our "gourmet" sandwiches.

Sandwiches or wraps...change it up every day so it's not "just a sandwich:" salami, turkey, ham, grilled chicken (leftover from dinner the night before), roast beef and add different cheeses, too (sliced cheddar, provolone, brie, etc.). Don't forget the lettuce, tomatoes and pepperoncinis. :)
Serve with chips/crackers, fruit and a cookie. When I serve a little junky snack with the healthy foods, my boys really enjoy their lunches and don't ask to eat out.

Make grilled chicken (grill extra chicken for sandwiches, quesadillas, burritos or enchiladas), spaghetti (get a large jar of sauce so extra sauce can be used for meatball subs), steaks (again, grill an extra steak or two), burritos (from leftover chicken or steak), enchiladas (again using leftover meats) and meatball subs (Super easy- just heat frozen meatballs in spaghetti sauce and serve in hot dog buns.  The buns are the perfect size for kids.)
Serve with salads, veggies and fruit. Serve a little ice cream to make dining IN a treat.  ;)

**To start, plan 2-3 days worth of meals and use the leftovers to get another 2-3 meals out of it. It's the perfect way to make healthier food choices for your fam. Stick to the plan and stay away from the drive-thru. :) 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

In my prior post for "Enchilagnas," I mentioned getting meal deliveries through our local chapter of MOMS Club after I had Son #2. Having friends deliver hot meals at the end of an exhausting day was THE BEST! I got great meals but my FAVE, FAVE, FAVORITE!!! during the two week rotation was White Chicken Enchiladas from my sweet friend SL. I had never eaten a white sauce enchilada until she brought them over and I was HOOKED! They were one of my go-to recipes for the past six years and I make them often for friends and fam. They seem so fancy but they're the easiest dish to make and they taste amazing. In Feb., I started to blog about SL's awesome enchiladas but never got around to finishing it because I was trying to duplicate the white sauce from Amigo's in Bishop, CA. 

I LOVE Mexican food and I was on a hunt for new Mexican recipes to try. Last week, HW, a good friend from high school sent me a recipe for her Mom's enchiladas. The sauce base was the same as SL's white sauce but the addition of chicken bouillon cubes in HW's sauce added a new dimension to the sauce. WOW! The fam enjoyed EVERY bite! DEEEELISH!!!

I've since made a combination of the two white enchiladas. I used the salsa verde chicken mixture from SL's enchiladas but used HW's sauce. It was the perfect combo!

This creamy chicken enchilada is delicious. 

A buttery tomato and onion chicken mixture. YUM!

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

Yield: 10 enchiladas in 13x9" pan.

  • 10 soft taco size flour tortillas (or use 12 corn tortillas)
  • 1 lb jack cheese, shredded (I used ~ 1/2 lb, just enough for a thin layer over enchiladas.)
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 2-3 tbs butter 
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • 4-6 oz green chiles, diced
  • 15 oz corn, drained (optional)
  • 15 oz black beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
  • 4 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 4 chicken bouillon cubes
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Melt butter over med. high heat and brown onion. 
  3. Add tomatoes and simmer 5 mins.
  4. Next, add chicken and simmer 20 mins.
  5. While chicken mixture is simmering, make the sauce. Dissolve bouillon cubes in the cream and stir well.
  6. Stack tortillas and place chicken mixture across "end" of tortilla nearest you. Roll and place seam-side down in dish. Continue with remaining tortillas.
  7. If you have leftover chicken mixture, add it to the sauce and mix well.
  8. Pour sauce over top of enchiladas and spread evenly over entire dish. 
  9. Add cheese over enchiladas, cover with foil and bake 25-30 mins or until bubbly. ENJOY!
Note: If you don't have time to make the tomato and onion mixture for the chicken, you can use 14-16 oz of salsa verde instead for the filling.

Source: Adapted from SL's and HW's White Chicken Enchiladas.
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