Fab Friday Five - MEXICAN

Hey y'all, I'm back!

It was a nice trip...Will and I got along the whole time...I don't think I cried for any reason other than the funeral itself.  The weather was frigid, to say the least, but we did get to see some snow flurries!  I came home with cheese, sausage, and more cheese.  I saw some family that I haven't seen in nearly 10 years.  Aria can totally spend 16 hours riding in a car and be nearly perfectly behaved....well, as long you put a screen in front of her face, that is!  She used up half of our data plan on the way up watching Netflix, but she was quiet, so it was worth it.

While up there, my aunt and cousins were talking about Thanksgiving.  They don't do typical Thanksgiving...they do it a day or so afterwards, so everybody can manage to get to their in-laws on the holiday, and then gather together in the next few days.  Not only do they do it a different day, but they don't have typical Thanksgiving food, either...they're having Mexican night!

Now, you know me...our family LOVES Mexican food.  We love having taco night for any occasion, we have chimichangas for Halloween, and we have Mexican Monday every Monday night.  Everybody can find something to eat at Mexican!  Even Aria loves it....the guacamole, the sour cream....and she almost always get's the same thing:  grilled shrimp and a cheese quesadilla.

Anyway, that got me thinking about the tasty Mexican things I have on my Pinterest boards :)

Enchilada Casserole >> recipe HERE
Dave asks for this often.  He just loves it.  I love it, also...it's easy, only uses three dishes (two if you use a disposable foil pan), and is easily adaptable to meet your tastes.  I alter the recipe, of course.  I use ground turkey instead of beef, 2 cans of corn, 1 block of cream cheese, 1 cup of sour cream, no green chilies, and I put it under the broiler when it's finished to get nice and brown and bubbly.  It's amazing and easy and cooks in less than 30 minutes from start to finish.  Leftovers are great also!

Tex-Mex Margarita Chicken Salad | www.diethood.com | #recipe #chicken #salad
Tex Mex Margarita Chicken Salad >> recipe HERE
Some people don't like salad...but I LOVE salad!  I'm not always too crazy about it as a side dish or an appetizer, but I'm totally on board with a wonderful salad for my meal!  Dave likes this one, too...which I, of course, alter to fit my needs.  I use BBQ sauce on my chicken, I 86 the avocado and beans.  I mix up a whole can of corn, store-bought pico from the produce aisle, and lime juice in a skillet until it's nice and warm and maybe even getting a few char-marks on the corn.  I use a LOT of cucumber and a LOT of cilantro.  And cheese, of course...and ranch.  So I guess, in all actuality, it's not really the salad pictured here at all.  Oh well.  I blame Kroger for being out of Margarita mix the day I went shopping for ingredients.

Beef Enchilada Dip - This meaty, cheesy enchilada dip comes together in just 15 minutes, and is the perfect crowd pleasing appetizer!
Beef Enchilada Dip >> recipe HERE
I'm not going to lie, I can't remember if I've made this dip yet or not.  But it's basically just cheese, ground beef, corn, and enchilada sauce baked to a gooey wonderfulness.  Get some good dipping tortilla chips and have at it!  It looks so warm and inviting :)

Mexican stuffed shells:
Mexican Stuffed Shells >> recipe HERE
I've got a love for stuffed shells.  To be honest, I used to NEVER like them when mom made them.  I didn't like the ricotta cheese mixture inside of them...I always said "I don't like crumbly cheese...it looks like it came from a goat!" and I refused to eat it.  No stuffed shells, no ravioli, no lasagna....nothing.  But then, I grew up.  I learned to taste things, even if I was pretty sure I wouldn't like them.  Turns out, I LOVE ricotta cheese!  And, oddly enough, I also really appreciate a good melted goat cheese (it's tangy and delicious).  Mom brought these Mexican stuffed shells for lunch one day, and I was sad when they were all gone....they were SOO good!  And I like that you can make them your own...use sour cream, use enchilada sauce, include corn in the meat, add more cheese (so much cheese).  They were simply amazing!

This Creamy Chicken Fajita Pasta is a HUGE winner! Everything cooks in one pan (even the noodles!) and it's done in 15 minutes. So, so good!!
Chicken Fajita Pasta >> recipe HERE
I've made this.  And y'all...it's phenomenal!!  I love fajitas.  I love to make them.  I love the chicken, the peppers, the seasoning, the sour cream you pile on top...I just love them.  But this pasta....it's legit!  It's creamy and flavorful....easy to make...and so scrumptious!  Give this one a try. Seriously.  You'll definitely thank me for it!

I forgot to mention....I've started my physical therapy.  Folks...physical therapy ain't no joke!  That foam roller.....it hurts my leg, but more so, it hurts my upper body.  I've got a lot of weight to hold up on top of a roll of extremely hard styrofoam!  And I'm supposed to use a rolling pin on my leg at home to work it out.  I've got Dave helping me with that.  Ouch.  Today, my calves hurt...my glutes hurt...my quads hurt.  And, of course, my upper body hurts from that stupid foam roller.  Twice a week for two more weeks (at least).  Ugh.


Nothing Better

There's a lot of people on Facebook posting daily things they're thankful for (because it's November and it's the month for giving thanks, of course).  I'm thankful for a lot things and don't often say it.  In fact, I tend to do more complaining than giving thanks.  But that doesn't mean I'm not grateful for what I've got.  The big things, the small things...I'm thankful for everything I have and everything I am.  And sometimes, it's the little things that really make a difference.

There's nothing better than....

The first bite of a still warm, fresh-baked brownie

Sweet puppy snuggles (and kisses)...really, the age of the dog is not important

Hearing "you make the best dinners, mommy"

Brushing your teeth in the morning after you know you've been mouth-snoring all night

Knowing where you are after getting lost

Sticking your spoon in the still-cooking pot of soup to taste it and tastes like bacon and cheese

Finding out you're not the only mom who is at a loss with how to discipline a strong-willed child

Hot chocolate after a cold and rainy day

The sweet relief of Sudafed

Licking the brownie batter off the spatula (after you're done with it, of course!)

Hitting all the green lights on the way to work

Handlettering perfect names on an envelope

Looking through old family photos, even if it's just to find pictures for the board at the funeral, and laughing at the memories

Finally finding the wine that pairs best with your life

Mint chocolate chip ice cream (this one is THE BEST)

Hearing a coworker tell you how much they appreciate you and everything you do

Feeling the relief of knowing a bad dream wasn't real

A cozy blanket in a cold room

Hearing your kid say "I'm sorry for being disrespectful" when all you told her was that she was being naughty

Buying presents for other people and seeing how happy they are when opening said presents

Getting the car seat out of the car all by yourself

A good book and lots of time to read it (like, say, 16 hours in the car on the way to Wisconsin)

Seeing something you cook/bake come out EXACTLY like the picture

Finally being able to breathe after a week of environmental-mold-spore-induced sinus congestion

Finding something to wear (that fits) to a funeral at the first store you try

Biting into the PERFECT s'more

Finding the one magical spot where spooning is actually comfortable for both people

Watching your dog roll over in trust and present her belly (for scratching, no doubt) to your daughter for the very first time (it only took four and a half years!)

Mexican Monday with ALL of your southern extended family

Knowing you'll be with distant family in 48 hours

Leaving for Wisconsin in the morning.
Have a good rest of the week and I'll catch back up with y'all when I return.
Before we know it, it'll be Thanksgiving....and then Christmas....and then it'll be the new year.
Not going to lie I'm ready.
2015 has sort of sucked almost as bad as 2014.



I've been told I'm pretty hard to shop for because I never actually tell anybody what I want.  It's true...I don't outwardly tell anybody "hey, I want this for Christmas!" so people just end up guessing at something that I want.  Sometimes I like it, sometimes I find it entirely useless and I don't know what would prompt anybody to even think that it might be something I would like.

So this year....I'm going to make it easy!  Here are FIVE things I'd like for Christmas (or for my birthday).  Please...pretty please...let Santa know I'd like these things!

great way to organize pots and pans...i hate how my muffin pans and cookie sheets slide around all over each other under my oven every time i open the drawer...:
Custom cabinets?
I want something customized in my cabinet JUST LIKE THIS to hold all my baking pans and trays and cutting boards and cooling racks and maybe pot/pan lids....I want it real bad. I don't know what this might even cost...but it sure would be nice to come home after work the week of Christmas and see at least one of my lower cabinets redone like this :)

brunette hair color with caramel ribbons:
I want hair color like this, but with some dark red under there somewhere
Gift certificate for pedicure and enough money to get my hair cut and colored
I realized it's been over a year since my last hair cut.  It's been over a year since my last hair color.  And it's been way over a year since my last pedicure.  Part of it is because I just can't fathom spending that kind of money on myself...on vanity....on a body and head that I can't stand anyway.  The other thing is the reason.  My hair takes at least an hour...and a pedicure takes at least an hour.  I go home and cook pretty much every day, so I can't take an hour out of my time to get my nails done.  And my hair lady is in South Carolina somewhere that I don't really know, but I know it's not exactly close to home.
**Also, somebody to cook dinner for me so that I don't have to worry about not having the time to indulge in these things...and somebody to watch my kid.

Kohler over-the-counter cutting board >> HERE
New wooden cutting board
I had a wooden cutting board (a really nice one, in my opinion) and just recently had to through it out.  See, I didn't know that wooden cutting boards were like cast iron pans...you've got to take special care of them.  I didn't know that.  My cutting board regularly went through the dishwasher and I didn't know there such a thing as "wooden cutting board oil" that was to be applied after each wash (not a dishwasher-wash, FYI).  So my board naturally lost it's nice sheen, and then it warped, and then it cracked.  I loved that board.  It was the only cutting board I had that had rubber feet that didn't actually slide around on my granite counters.  Everything else slides...drives me bonkers.  But this cutting board here has a lip that hangs over the edge of the counter top.  So when I'm cutting things like chicken, the cutting board won't be sliding all over the place with every cut!  It'll just hang onto the edge of the counter and I won't have to worry about it!
**Also, I totally apparently need some of this >> John Boos Mystery Butcher Block Oil

Buy this textbook >> HERE
Baking textbook
Last year I got << this amazing book >> for Christmas, but it wasn't what I hoped it would be.  Maybe I just read the reviews wrong.  The basis of the book, this VERY large book, is not to teach one how to cook, but teach one how to be a professional chef.  Apparently those two things are not actually the same.  The latter implies that you already know how to cook, so the book teaches you things needed for a restaurant setting:  food safety guidelines, how to calculate nutrition in servings, how to calculate how much ingredients needed for each serving, and recipes designed to feed 10-12 people.  Still an EXCELLENT resource, but not quite what I was looking for.  This book, however, is an actual baking textbook.  Reading the reviews, it really does teach HOW to bake...the science behind it, the importance of measuring ingredients, what each ingredient does and how it interacts with the others, and then, of course, plenty of recipes.  The reviews say it's great for a beginner baker.  It's expensive...I mean, it's a textbook, so it's over $100.  But....please?
**Also, I want this reference book to go with it!  Or on it's own would be fine, too >> The Pastry Chef's Companion

LUSH Gift Card image

Gift card to Lush
I want so many things from Lush, but we don't have a store closer than 2 hours, so I have to order my things.  Let me tell you what, Lush is a real bitch when it comes to charging for shipping.  Maybe I'm just spoiled with free shipping from Amazon Prime, but I absolutely hate paying for shipping.  I'm sorry, but $6 shipping is too much for one bath melt and two bubble bars.  Or, if you really want to just get me something, I'll take the Mangoed bath melt.  Mm hmm!

And one more for good measure:  A 1-month gift of maid service.  That would really help me out.  A nice, professional, deep clean of the house would be much appreciated!

You've got my list....now get to shopping :)



Is anybody else besides me EXTREMELY tired today?  This rainy, foggy Monday makes me want to take my ass back to bed!

Here's a quick look at my upcoming week!

Today I've got my first physical therapy appointment for my IT band.  I'm unsure of what to expect.  The thing is, my leg feels better...so I'm worried they'll tell me that there's no point to it and send me on my way...only to have my IT band flare up real angry again sometime in the near future.  That worries me, because I don't want that pain again.

Sometime this week I'd like to stop by my best friend's house and give her all the things I've gotten for her and the baby!  Plus, she's on bed rest, so I KNOW she could use the company.

Thursday we are taking Aria to Disney on Ice.  She doesn't know yet...so we can't hold it over her head, not like I would, we already paid for the tickets!

This weekend I'm going to make those cheesecake swirl brownies from my last FFF post :)

My grandpa is in the hospital and not doing very well.  Please keep him and my family in your thoughts.

The menu for the week:

Monday:  Burgers + Sweet Kale Salad
burger patties - buns - cheese - worcestershire sauce - kale/brussels sprout/craisin salad mix - poppy seed dressing

Tuesday:  Chicken Bacon Chowder + Crusty Bread
chicken - bacon - corn - shallots - cream - broth - cheese - potatoes - celery - basil - french baguette

Wednesday:  Pork Chops + Mashed Potatoes
pork chops - BBQ sauce - country crock mashed potatoes - cheese

Thursday :  Dinner out + Disney On Ice

Friday:  BBQ Chicken Salad
chicken - BBQ sauce - romaine - cheese - corn - pico - lime juice - cilantro - ranch - cucumber - croutons

Saturday:  Cilantro Lime chicken + Pasta
chicken - cilantro - cream - lime juice - shallots - low-carb pasta

And now....something funny :)
Cat's are such assholes.

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