Hectic Days = Low and Slow Nights (Part One)

You know those nights — the ones where one kid has soccer, one has baseball, you have Back To School Night, the Hubs is working late.  Those are the nights when everyone is running in different directions, but you still want to bring everyone together to the table.

We had nights like that twice this week.  (I know.  We’re lucky.  Many of you have to swing this scenario most weeknights.)

On nights like this, I pull out Old Trusty: The Crock Pot.  And tonight, I’m going to share one of the two meals that came from my kitchen wing-man.  (Sorry ’bout the forthcoming pun….)

ImageSlow-Cooker Chicken Enchiladas

One night’s dinner was an adaptation of this recipe from allrecipes.com.  (If you haven’t visited this site for dinner inspiration, you should.)  I find most of the recipes 1) call for things I already have on hand; and, 2) are easy and quick to make.

I followed the recipe fairly closely, but kept out a lot of the spicier ingredients.  Here’s how I did it:


  • cooking spray
  • 9 whole wheat tortillas (the small ones)
  • 2 cups cooked chicken (I poached and pulled 5 chicken thighs the night before making this)
  • 2 cans red, mild enchilada sauce
  • 1 can corn, drained (note: I did not use the corn with chiles)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • sprinkles of garlic salt
  • sprinkles of chili powder
  • smaller bag of Mexican blend shredded cheese (I believe it was 2 cups)

Get to Work:

  1. Spray the slow-cooker with the cooking spray.  (spray liberally — those tortillas will STICK!)
  2. Line the bottom of the slow-cooker with 3 tortilla
  3. ImageCover the tortilla with 1 cup of the chicken, the can of corn, a sprinkling of garlic salt and chili powder (to taste) and half of the cheese.  Pour about 1/2 of one can of enchilada sauce over it.
  4. Top the mixture with 3 more tortilla, the remaining cup of chicken, the can of black beans, another sprinkle garlic salt and chili powder (to taste), the remaining 1/2 of the cheese, 1 can of enchilada sauce.  Image
  5. Top this with the remaining 3 tortillas and the remaining enchilada sauce.

I’m going to tell you what.  The pictures don’t make it look like much but it was SO easy and very tasty!

And my family liked it — the Hubs even asked me to put it into the regular rotation! My 7-year-old “isn’t really a fan of black beans” (his words) but he ate everything else on his plate.

In my opinion:  Winner! Winner! Chicken Enchilada Dinner!

Later, I’ll share the other recipe my Crock Pot slaved over while I was on the run.  (and — SPOILER ALERT! — the kids LOVED IT!)

Happy eatings!



Defending the Caveman

Flirting with Paleo   


The Hubs can attest to this:  I am a flirt.

I flirt all of the time — with various notions.

I flirt with the idea of exercising more.  I flirt with the idea of saving more money. I flirt with the idea of posting on this blog everyday. Fail. Fail. Fail.

And now I’m flirting with the idea of going caveman, and trying the Paleo Diet.

Sorry if this is TMI but I have a lot of friends who, like me, are becoming ‘women of a certain age.’  We all complain about the same things: weight issues & health issues.  My friends who have made the switch to Paleo swear it’s made differences in their lives.  Some post amazing pictures of their physical transformations all over Facebook.  Others talk about how it’s helped improve their overall health and well-being.  It’s pretty inspiring. 

Still, I can’t help but imagine how difficult it must be to change one’s diet so radically, especially when children are involved.

I haven’t posted in a few days because I haven’t had much to write about. My son turned 7 the other day, so there was a lot of celebratory eating going on during his week-long birthday bonanza:  pizza, chicken nuggets, ice cream cake.  You know the drill.  Not to mention the fact that we’ve been at the pool almost every night and taking a lot of fun day-trips, so we’ve had our fair share of (gasp!) fast-food.  (I know, I know… Bad Mommy. Slapping my wrist right now for you.)

But I’m intrigued. So I gave a Paleo-inspired meal a try. Not too bad: 

Paleo-Inspired Slow-Cooker Coconut Chicken


  • Put a bag of baby carrots into slow cooker.
  • Put 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs on top. 
  • Cover with a can of coconut milk
  • Add 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • Add any herbs you feel like and have on hand: I put some thyme, oregano, basil and garlic.  (in hindsight, I wish I had thrown in a pinch of garam masala instead and made a coconut curry.)
  • Cook on high for 4-5 hours until chicken is done.

I served it with fresh chopped tomatoes tossed with basil (Paleo) and brown rice (not Paleo, but keeps the kids happy.)  

My husband really enjoyed this and 2/3 of my three birds enjoyed it too.  The chicken was so moist and tender. The carrots were so sweet — almost like candy.  My now-7-year-old was the one who complained. But I think if I made it again, he’d enjoy it.  And I think he would have liked it with the curry seasoning.  

So what do you guys out there in blog-land think?  To Paleo or not to Paleo?  That is the question.  Would you do it?  Have you?  Any tips you can share on how to get started? Any websites you would recommend that wouldn’t require me selling my daughter in exchange for some recipes and advice? Reply if you can… and help a girlfriend out.  🙂 

In the meantime… happy eatings!  


Thigh “Highs” and a Dish Best Served Cold — or Not!

Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs, Pea Salad, and Grilled Potatoes

Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs, Pea Salad, Grilled Potatoes

I’ll admit it.  I’m a thigh girl.  I like my meat juicy and dark.

Get your minds out of the gutter!  I’m talkin’ chicken, people!!

And while some people prefer the trendier, seemingly healthier, more low-cal reputation of Chicken Thigh’s stepsister, Chicken Breasts — when it comes to thighs, what’s not to love?

They’re tender and moist. They’re awesome grilled. And — best of all — they’re cheap! When you have three growing children like mine who are ready to eat us out of house and home, that’s important!

A ‘value pack’ of thighs ran me about $5 this week.  That’s for the boneless, skinless kind — I’m too lazy to do that boning and skinning myself. That one package made two meals for our family. That’s why you saw grilled chicken thighs last night and are now about to see them again for tonight’s dinner. But tonight, I tried something new — I took them off the grill and warmed up the stove.

Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs

Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs

It was pretty simple, really.

  1. Dip the thighs in flour.
  2. Dip them in egg whisked with a little milk.
  3. Dip them into Panko bread crumbs seasoned with garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  4. (Now — here’s the twist) Pan-fry them in toasted sesame oil until they’re cooked-through and crispy.

I was a bit skeptical about this, but once I tasted them… they were pretty darn good. And the whole family thought so, too! The sesame oil made this dish really savory. The Hubs actually thought I had cooked them with bacon!

Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs

Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs

I served these thighs with grilled potatoes and a cold Pea Salad. Annnnndddddd…. cue the awkward dinner moment.

These dishes are not Random Acts of Cooking in our house.  I’ve made them before.  In fact, I grill potatoes all of the time without much ado!  Tonight I used 6 red potatoes, stabbed them with a fork and microwaved them for about 6 minutes (just so they were soft.)  Then I diced them, tossed them with olive oil, garlic salt, pepper and parsley and grilled them.

Grilled Potatoes

Grilled Potatoes

Pea Salad

Pea Salad

The Pea Salad is a cold side dish and is perfect for summer.  I quick-thaw a bag of frozen peas under running cold water.  Then I toss them with olive oil, a little diced red onion, the juice of one small lemon, some parmesan cheese and a dash of salt and pepper. Voila! Done!

Plates were cleared — lickety-split. In fact, our 5yo dinnertime procrastinator hadn’t finished his meal by the time the rest of us were licking Oreo crumbs off of our fingers and, yet, he still insisted on finishing before enjoying his dessert!

So the kids loved it — all of the kids, that is, expect my ‘big kid.’

The Hubs hated these sides, leaving his peas and potatoes untouched on his plate.


Ah well… guess you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Tell you what: I’m not cooking tomorrow. Or the rest of this holiday weekend for that matter. It’s my silent protest to his not liking my dish.  🙂   Really…. it’s just a way of saying I need a break from the kitchen.

When you write a cooking blog, you tend to cook a lot. Mama needs a day or two off.

Hope your holiday weekend is filled with Happy Eatings!!



Conflicting Ingredients: When Likes and Dislikes Collide

To say my kids love olives may be the understatement of the year. So much so, that if we told our kids they’d need to leave their friends so we could start an olive farm in Italy, they might go ahead and pack my kitchen for me.

Do you know what else my kids love? Blue cheese! I know it’s a weird thing for three little kids to like, but my husband and I put blue cheese on our steaks and our kids want to be just like us. So they tried it, and — guess what? They like blue cheese!

They also love tomatoes, especially tomatoes that have been chopped and are tossed with olive oil. Or on bagels with lox. Or salsa. Or Gazpacho. (Yep. Gazpacho.)

But, spinach?  Nope. They don’t like spinach. At. All.

So check out this salad I threw together tonight, and sing along with me:  which one of these ingredients doesn’t belong????


Spinach Salad

  • 1/2 package fresh spinach, torn
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 3 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green olives, halved
  • handful of croutons
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Toss the ingredients together. Serve.  ((Does it get easier than that? I don’t think so.))

But — if you’re thinking what I was thinking as I made this salad — the kids don’t like spinach!!  I’m in for a battle!

WRONG!!!  So. Wrong. WOO-HOO!

The kids LOVED this salad! Even my recently-more-persnickity-6yo had a large second helping.

Why? I have no idea. Kids are an enigma, after all. But, if they like 5/6th of the ingredients, shouldn’t they like the salad as a whole?

Apparently so. Not a clean plate in our house.


Oh… and so you know… I served this with grilled chicken thighs that marinated for 35 minutes in a mixture of 1c. Greek yogurt, juice of 1/2 lime, juice of 1/2 lemon, a sprinkle of garlic salt and a sprinkle of oregano. They turned out just right. Very tender, tasty and not-too-salty. (the Hubs’ words, not mine.)


Marinating chicken in Greek yogurt and then grilling it may be a new favorite here. Glad I tried it!

Let me know what’s going on in your kitchen. I could use some good ideas on ways to push the taste bud limits!

Happy eatings!



Color Our World: How the ‘rainbow connection’ helps our mealtime

Quick Tandoori Chicken, Fried Kale, and Yellow Jasmine Rice

I think I may be on to something.

It seems my kids, like me, are visual beings. They tend to like colorful meals. I think this may be why they like sushi so much. When they were really little and learning their colors, I did a one-on-one ‘Special Day with Mommy’ with each of them and took them out for a sushi lunch. We sat at the sushi bar, talked about the different colors we saw, discussed different types of fish and seaweed, and then tried anything my child would pick out.

We’ve done the same thing at the grocery store and at farmer’s markets — walking through the aisles and talking about the colors and shapes of the fruits and vegetables we saw. Sometimes we stop to smell the ripe peaches, knock on a butternut squash, feel the texture of avocados, and count the leaves of artichokes. And then I’ll let them pick a new veggie or fruit to buy and they will help me prepare it at home. In fact, our family’s newfound love of brussels sprouts started this way. The kids saw them at the store, asked me what they were, and we decided to try them. I had never eaten a brussels sprout before and didn’t know how to make them. But we found it was fun to try them together, as a family.

It’s all about our senses. So I tapped into that with tonight’s dinner — Quick Tandoori Chicken, Fried Kale, and Yellow Jasmine Rice.

Quick Tandoori Chicken Thighs, Yellow Jasmine Rice, Fried Kale

The meal is pretty — bright yellow in the rice, rich green in the kale, and the beautiful marks of the grill lining the chicken. And it was DELICIOUS!

Best of all, it was simple!  Honestly!  I know it doesn’t look like it…but this was stovetop to tabletop in 30-minutes!!ust enough time for my 1st grader to get some homework done, my 5yo to practice some reading, and my 3yo to work on some puzzles while I stirred and sauteed.

And even better than that — my kids LOVED this meal! They cleaned their plates and asked for seconds!  My 1st grader is working on using ‘descriptive’ words in his writing assignments at school, so I asked him to use descriptive words to help describe the meal for my blog.  “Yummy.” “Scrumptious.”  “Delicious.” “Colorful.” Those are the words my kids used. (they all got into that game!)

But there’s one things I’d suggest: watch the salt. The Hubs and I felt this meal was a bit high on the sodium levels – but this was my fault. It’s a chronic problem I have since I measure my ingredients with my eyes instead of actual measuring cups and spoons. You’d think I’d learn, but I’m stubborn. Just ask my husband.

I digress.

Here are links to all of the recipes. (the pictures are from here in my kitchen)


Yellow Jasmine Rice



I was really proud of the kids for trying this meal.  It was some brand new flavors for us — and it was definitely out of our comfort zone with the heavy Indian influences.

As a reward for being such willing guinea pigs, it was Lindor chocolates all-around for dessert!

Happy eatings, everyone!

So… what to make tomorrow…?