Stacked Chicken Enchiladas

Good morning!  Hopefully y’all had the best weekend and feel refreshed for the first full week of fall.  #canwegetsomefallweather

 

Last week I was flying solo while Big Guy traveled for work.  Even when I’m eating alone during the week, I try to cook at least once or twice.  I do adore my cheese and cracker plates but that can get old after awhile.  (I can’t believe I just said that.)  In an attempt to use a protein from the freezer, I made stacked chicken enchiladas, saving the remaining chicken thighs in the package for our dinner on Friday.   Since I was cooking for one, I decided to halve the recipe and cook them in separate dishes.  However, if I could do it again, I would have doubled the recipe and actually frozen one of the casseroles.  You live and you learn.

The idea behind this recipe is instead of rolling your enchiladas (and making an absolute mess) you simply stack all the ingredients in layers.  Chicken thighs are cooked on the stovetop (or you could save even more time and use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store) and then shredded before mixing with 2% Greek yogurt and green onions.  The enchilada sauce is made by blending together charred red onions, jalapeño, garlic, fire roasted diced tomatoes, chicken stock, cumin and a little salt.  Grate your cheese and you’re ready to start stacking.

Corn tortillas, the enchilada sauce, chicken and cheese are layered (ending with cheese) and then baked.

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Making your enchilada sauce is a game changer, in my opinion – there is SO much more flavor.  The heat was minimal but you could totally leave out the jalapeño if you’re feeding little mouths.  Leftovers are perfect for freezing (or for eating the next night, like I did).

I hope you’re having a great start to your week and I’ll see you tomorrow for more tasty eats.

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Friday Favorites

It’s fall, ya’ll!  Cue all the apples, hot tea, comfy sweaters and Fall Harvest on the Hallmark Channel.

I’m hoping that this weekend will bring a mix of productivity and relaxation.  We plan on registering for Baby Watson tomorrow (pray for Big Guy’s sanity and patience) and then Sunday we’ll be watching football (and a Hallmark movie).  No big plans and that is perfectly fine by me.  The rest of our fall is pretty busy so I’m going to enjoy every low-key moment possible.  I hope your weekend is full of things that make you happy!

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Favorite Decor:  Orange and Blue Fall Tablescape.  I adore this color combo, obviously (it’s the colors of our living room).  But it’s not “overly fall” and dripping with cheesy pumpkins and seasonal signs.

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Favorite Cozy  Honeycrisp Apple Pandowdy.  How delicious does this dessert look?  Drooling.  And a “pandowdy” is apparently an apple pie that’s cooked in a skillet.

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Favorite Comfy:  JCrew Leopard Sweatshirt.  I could live in this top along with jeans and cute flats.  I’m clearly having a leopard moment because I’m obsessed with leopard driving shoes, too.

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Favorite Bite:  One-Pan BBQ Ranch Chicken Gnocchi. I’m obsessed with this flavor combination.  Not only that, it looks super easy and you only dirty up one pan.

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Favorite “THIS IS ME”:  Being Organized is A Gift I Give Myself and Other People.  YES!  AMEN!  YES!  “A lot of people think they are too busy and simply don’t have the time to get organized, but…I don’t have time to not be organized! I’d rather take 20 minutes to get my life in order now than spend 45 minutes looking for my glasses prescription, 10 minutes on the phone with my eye doctor, and three days waiting until I can find the half-hour to go pick up a new copy of it.”

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Favorite Intrigued:  Slow-Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Garlic Labneh.  By slow roasting the potatoes, you bring out the sweetness and they become incredibly tender.  Top with a tangy labneh full of pungent garlic and I’m sold.

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Favorite “Appy” Hour:  Blackberry and Lemon Mascarpone Crostini.  Beautiful yet simple and perfect for almost any occasion.

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Favorite Wanderlust:  These Destinations Should Be On Your Fall Travel List.   From Boston to California to China, this list has a little something for everyone.

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Favorite Remix:  Roasted Garlic Parmesan Herb Pull-Apart Bread.  A twist on classic garlic bread.  I think I’d pair this beauty with juicy meatballs and lots of sauce.

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Favorite Mocktails:  Brilliant Non-Alcoholc Cocktails Everyone Loves.  Because sometimes when you’re pregnant, you want a little celebration drink (whether you’re celebrating something big or small).  And La Croix doesn’t count.

Cheers!

A Farewell to Summer {plus a strawberry pizza with bacon and caramelized onions}

Tomorrow officially marks the first day of fall.  Summer 2017 is one that I’ll never forget.  And while I didn’t check everything off my “Summer Bucket List,” it was a great summer.

Here are some of the highlights of the past few months:

  • Memorial Day Weekend at OIB (AKA my last sips of wine for a long time – little did I know that I was pregnant)
  • Finding out I was pregnant the Tuesday after Memorial Day
  • Pizza Sundays
  • Logan’s wedding weekend at Lake Norman
  • Long 4th of July weekend at OIB
  • Ice Cream Date at the beach
  • Reading SO many books…
    • “Two by Two” by Nicholas Sparks
    • “The Sunshine Sisters” by Jane Green
    • “Secrets in Summer” by Nancy Thayer
    • “I’ve Got Sand in All the Wrong Places” by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella
    • “On Mystic Lake” by Kristin Hannah
    • “Distant Shores” by Kristin Hannah
    • “Another Piece of My Heart” by Jane Green
    • “Night Road” by Kristin Hannah
    • “True Colors” by Kristin Hannah
  • Telling the “world” our exciting news about Baby Watson
  • A “last” beach weekend, just the two of us
  • An incredible 34th birthday dinner at Crawford and Son in Raleigh
  • Getting the ball rolling on some home renovations (I’m beyond excited about my new “office nook” and a screened in back porch)
  • Our Gender Reveal Party

Honestly the summer flew by and it’s hard to believe we’re almost done with September!  And while the “summer” temperatures will probably stick around for a while, I’m really excited for what the fall and winter have in store.

This past Sunday, Big Guy and I said our “final farewell” to summer with a very summery pizza.  I’ve been wanting to make this pizza ALL summer long and when I saw some pretty red organic strawberries at the grocery store, I knew it was a sign.

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Even though strawberries aren’t in season here, this was quite possibly my favorite pizza that we made ALL summer.  The pizza is topped with ricotta cheese plus lots of mozzarella and then comes the fun toppings:  fresh strawberries, bacon and caramelized onions (that were caramelized in bacon fat!).  The cooked pizza was finished with a sprinkle of fresh herbs, oregano and basil.  This strawberry pizza TOTALLY hit the spot and I could not get over the flavor.  Sweet and savory.  Super cheesy.  Crunchy bacon.  And rich caramelized onions.

I definitely suggest you keep this pizza recipe for next May when strawberries are ripe and you can buy them local.

Adios, Summer!

Five-Spice Chicken Breasts with Sesame-Orange Beans

I almost forgot to share this delicious yet easy chicken dinner with you!  This recipe requires less than 10 ingredients (for the main dish AND a side) and I promise you’ll have at least half of them on hand.  Chinese Five-Spice is an incredibly flavorful spice combination of cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, star anise and szechuan peppercorns that brings so much flavor to any dish.  In fact, this spice is packed with so much flavor it’s the only seasoning (other than salt) in this chicken recipe.

Once seasoned, the chicken is cooked in a little canola oil until cooked through (about 5-8 minutes each side).  Allow the chicken to rest while you prepare the beans.

Red onion is sautéed in a little more oil and then seasoned with orange zest (so much flavor!) and thinly sliced garlic.  Allow that to cook for 30 seconds and then add in the haricots verts and cook for 4 minutes.  To finish off the beans, add in soy sauce and then top with orange segments and a small drizzle of sesame oil for a POP of flavor.

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Despite being an incredibly easy dinner, this meal hit the spot.  It was PACKED with flavor and I loved the brightness from the fresh oranges and the nuttiness from the sesame oil.  Don’t be afraid to use those “strange” spices hiding in your pantry – they add flavor without a lot of fuss OR calories.

Baby Girl Watson {what i’m reading}

There are literally thousands, upon thousands of books on pregnancy and babies.  I have friends that made the decision to read ZERO books and then there are friends that are reading every book they can get their hands on.  I’m trying to fall somewhere in the middle and I have decided to read six books related to pregnancy and how to adapt to life once baby arrives.  I did some research before biting the bullet and buying any books (well, there’s one exception) and feel that these books will best prepare me (but then again, I don’t think anything really prepares you).

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What to Expect When You’re Expecting   

This is the one book that I bought IMMEDIATELY upon finding out I was pregnant.  I think it’s just one of those books that almost every pregnant woman (93% to be exact) has bought or borrowed.  I reference it weekly for regular updates but I’ve also referenced it for moments when I was unsure or feeling a little uneasy.  I must say that I have been so lucky and have not experienced half of what is in the book but it’s a good reference book.  Another reason I like this book is because it doesn’t try to scare you (I know my life is about to change, thankyouverymuch) and it doesn’t make assumptions that end up making you feel like a failure.  This is not a book that I’m making Big Guy read, by the way.

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Real Food for Mother and Baby

This is a great book if you’re pregnant but it’s also a great book if you’re trying to get pregnant.  Y’all – so many people want to tell you what to eat and what not to eat and what’s going to happen if you don’t listen to them.  And it drives me nuts.  This book breaks down what nutrients your body needs during each trimester of pregnancy (and for fertility).  I actually typed up a list of the foods/food groups that are most important for each trimester and it’s hanging on the fridge.  Again, this is not a book I wanted Big Guy to read.

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Bringing Up Bébe

This book is written by an American woman living in Paris who wants to understand why French children are more well behaved than American children and how French women got their children to sleep through the night within several weeks after birth.  I loved this book and read it in a matter of days.  This book basically makes me want to pack my bags and move to France.  I definitely plan on trying some of the techniques mentioned in the book, like “the pause.”  This book will make you question has you view children and I will say that this is a book I wanted Chris to read.  I went through and highlighted the important pages and parts in hopes that he’ll read them.

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The Happiest Baby on the Block

I picked up this book last week after hearing that it’s full of tips and techniques on calming your baby.  I also know that I’ll be asking Big Guy to memorize the five S’s that are found in the book (apparently the most important part of the book).  I’ll be honest and say that the only thing I don’t like about this book is that they recommend a baby bassinet that costs close to a thousand dollars.  Clearly we are not going that route but I’m hopeful to learn a thing or two from the book.

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On Becoming Baby Wise:  Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep

I bought this week last week after hearing multiple new moms talk about how this book taught them to put their baby on a schedule.  Ya’ll know I thrive on having a schedule and I’m praying this book helps.  I started reading this book yesterday and I’m halfway done already – with lots of underlining.  Apparently if you are able to get your baby on a daytime schedule, the nighttime schedules follows naturally.  Once again, I know all babies are different and I 100% expect sleepless nights.  However, if this book makes me more comfortable going into motherhood, then I’m going to give it a try. And yes, Big Guy will be reading parts of this book.

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How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids.

Last but not least, a fun yet informative book.  Once again, I’ve heard multiple new moms share how much they loved this book and I think it’ll be entertaining.  I’ve yet to buy the book but it’s sitting in my cart online.  I have no doubt that our marriage will change from where it is now once Baby Girl Watson enters our world.  But I also have no doubt that it’s going to be some of the most amazing changes.  Over and over again I stress to Big Guy the importance of putting our marriage before our baby because if our marriage is in a good place, our parenting will be a thousand times better.  I don’t plan on asking Big Guy to read this one but I’m sure I’ll be sharing what I learn with him.

Greek Stuffed Pitas

First there was Swedish Meatballs, then there was Banh Mi Bowls and finally we have Greek Stuffed Pitas.  One recipe, three dinners.  This may be my favorite “Cook Once, Eat 3 Times” so far.  Each dinner was so different and I never felt like I was eating the same meatball over and over.

The Greek Pitas are by far the easiest of the three recipe.  Tzatziki is made my combining 2% Greek yogurt (you want a little fat in the yogurt for thickness and tang), grated cucumber, lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper.  Cabbage is thinly sliced and then tossed with lemon juice and salt and pepper.  Cabbage was an unexpected addition to the pitas but I loved the crunch and the lemon juice really tamed the bitterness that I think cabbage can sometimes have. The meatballs are simply warmed in the microwave with a little beef stock.  The pitas are then stuffed to the brim with the cucumber sauce, cabbage, tomatoes and meatballs (I found slicing the meatballs in half made it easier to stuff).

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So good!  I adore the flavors in Greek cuisine and it’s crazy to think we were in Greece exactly one year ago today.  And while we have no plans to return in the near future, it’s always nice to bring the flavors of Greece home.

Yamas!

Friday Favorites

Well that was a fast week!  I’m excited to say we have NO plans tonight and NO plans Sunday, except for church.  I told Big Guy I was going to be as lazy as humanly possible on Sunday afternoon.  HAH!  Tomorrow I’ll be cheering on the Pirates and I really hope they give me a reason to cheer.  I’d rather not deal with an unhappy Pirate (not naming any names).  And while I wasn’t overly inspired by the internet this week (my brain is on the baby’s nursery) here are a few fun finds while I finish up tailgate prep!  Enjoy your weekend.

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Favorite In Season:  Classic Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Fresh Figs, Pistachios and Honey.  Behold one of the prettiest cheesecakes I ever did see.  I’m obsessing over the graham cracker and walnut crust.

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Favorite Game Day:  Peplum Tee in Yellow.  This shirt looks so comfy.  Pair it with some jeans and I’ll be tailgate ready.

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Favorite Super Simple:  Toasted Gnocchi with Herb Brown Butter.   This has Friday night date night in written all over it.  Simple yet delicious and I can use lots of herbs from the garden while they’re still kickin’.

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Favorite Inspiration:  I Started a Dinner and It Changed My Life.  I love entertaining with a small group of friends at home.  And while we’re a part of a HUGE supper club that meets at the country club, I’d love to start something on a smaller scale where we actually do the cooking.  This post has some great menu ideas and makes me want to start planning.

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Favorite From Scratch:  Giant Grain Free Pumpkin Pop-Tart with Cinnamon Maple Glaze.  Anyone else out there grow up LOVING the brown sugar and cinnamon glazed pop-tarts?  Well this looks like the grown up, “healthier” version and I’m scheming to make it part of an upcoming weekend.

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Favorite Bucket List:  Maine Travel Diary. Mark my word, I’m going to convince Big Guy to take me to Maine in the next five years so that I can eat my weight in lobster rolls and potato doughnuts.

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Favorite Dinner Time:  The Easiest Healthy Black Bean and Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Sweet Potatoes.  These look incredible!  Totally adding to the meal plan soon.

Favorite Advice:  Want to be a happy parent?  Give up these 15 things to find joy.  My favorite:  No such thing as a perfect parent. Embrace your imperfections. Laugh at yourself. The best parents are willing to always learn, change and improve.

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Favorite Sinful:  Grain-Free Omega-3 Fudgy Walnut Skillet Brownies.  These may look devilish but they’re full of healthy stuff, too.  But it might be sinful if I ate the whole skillet by myself…

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Favorite Next Year:  September Sangria.  This obviously isn’t happening this month but I promise it’ll make an appearance a year from now.

Cheers!

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