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Healthy Chicken Enchilada Casserole

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I made this chicken enchilada casserole last night and it was deeeelish!

The prep time called for in the recipe was a little time intensive for a weeknight when I don’t really even start cooking until 7 or so; so I made the following edits noted in italics.

Ingredients:

  • 3 split skin-on, bone-in half chicken breasts (I had a package of bonelss skinless chicken breasts, so I just used that. If I hadn’t already thawed out the chicken I would have made this even easier and just shredded a rotisserie chicken. I also halved the recipe because I did not need to feed 8 people)
  • 5 poblano peppers, halved, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded, stemmed and cut into quarters (I used a jar of roasted red peppers)
  • 1 cup cashews (Do not halve this. Make all the cashew cream!)
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 12 corn tortillas, halved (wound up using 7 for my halved version)
  • 1 1/2 cup salsa, preferably hot or medium-hot
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth 
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese or nondairy cheddar-style cheese


Method:
Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place chicken on one side of the baking sheet and poblano and bell peppers on the other side. Roast, stirring peppers once or twice until peppers are browned and chicken is just cooked through, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool slightly, then remove and discard skin and bone from chicken and shred meat. Dice peppers. (I did not do this step. I used kitchen scissors to cut up my chicken breasts and sauteed it in a pan with the poblano peppers. Once done, I added my chopped red peppers to the mixture)

Meanwhile, place cashews in a small bowl and cover by about 1 inch with boiling water. Let soak 30 minutes. Drain and discard soaking liquid. In a blender, combine cashews, 1/2 cup water, vinegar, salt and cayenne, and blend until smooth; add more water a tablespoon at a time, if necessary, to purée. (Yes, make it all. So good. It’s more than you need but eat the rest with tortilla chips as an appetizer)

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Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F. Layer 1/3 of the tortillas in the bottom of a 9x13-inch (or 8x8 if you halve the recipe) casserole dish. Combine salsa and broth, and spoon 1/2 cup of the mixture over the tortillas. Top with half the chicken and half the roasted peppers, and drizzle with half of the cashew cream. Repeat layering again, finishing with a layer of tortillas and salsa mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and bake until bubbling and golden brown, about 35 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Nutritional Info:

Per Serving: 330 calories (140 from fat), 15g total fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 40mg cholesterol, 370mg sodium, 32g carbohydrate (5g dietary fiber, 4g sugar), 19g protein

Of course you are driven to seek admiration, splendor and physical license. But giving in to these impulses will bring unhappiness. You have a responsibility to yourself to stay in the battle. The day you declare a truce is the day you become unhappier. Declaring war on these destructive impulses is not about asceticism or Puritanism. It is about being a prudent person who seeks to avoid unnecessary suffering.

Given my post yesterday and the firestorm of controversy/eyerolls incited by the “choose happy” banana picture mantra going around yesterday (my blog included), I thought this op-ed, Love People, Not Pleasure, was a timely, and very interesting, piece. (originally brought to my attention via here.)

Another excerpt of note:

"And then there’s social media. Today, each of us can build a personal little fan base, thanks to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and the like. We can broadcast the details of our lives to friends and strangers in an astonishingly efficient way. That’s good for staying in touch with friends, but it also puts a minor form of fame-seeking within each person’s reach. And several studies show that it can make us unhappy."

Of course, this article does not apply to people who have a real, diagnosed depression. Simply choosing to be happy is not a viable option. But, for the rest of us, I do believe it’s a conscious decision we make each morning, each hour, each moment. It’s easy to focus on the things that bring us unhappiness - my spouse didn’t do this or that - why did she lose the baby weight and not me - how they afford to shop that much - when is it my turn to go on vacation. It’s hard to choose happy. But, the negative thoughts in our heads are rooted in the very things that author points out as sources of unhappiness - wealth, fame, and sexual variety. None of which can really make us happy. So, instead of focusing our energies on the things that bring unhappiness, you can flip those voices in your head around - my spouse didn’t take out the garbage like I wanted but he did wash all the baby bottles - she lost the all her baby weight what a lot of hard work and inspiration - they shop a lot but you never know where people get their money from - I’m going to plan a vacation for next summer and start saving now.

Choosing happiness is a daily struggle, at least for me. Back in January, my new year’s goal was to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. In the beginning, it was very hard. And I still have bad days, just like we all do. But as I’ve made a conscious decision to flip the voices in my head into something positive, I’ve noticed that it’s gotten easier. My step is lighter, my relationships are stronger, my mind is happier. I still have work to do, but I like where I’m choosing to go.

Haute Hippe Blouse

Whilst window shopping* the Nordstrom Anniversary sale, I spied this Haute Hippie blouse marked down to $179 from $275. But the Nordstrom sale has nothing on this same NWT blouse going for $68 on threadflip. Holler.

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*because let’s get real, even though those Rag and Bone booties are marked down, mama still has to pay for daycare. sigh.

And THANK YOU for all your comments on yesterday’s post. I’m still digesting all the great feedback but I wanted to let you know I read every single message, email and ask box comment. I really appreciate it all.

Pillows for cheap(er) and blog talk

I just HAD To share this super find with y’all. I’m sure you’ve seen boho/tribal/whatever pillows floating around because they are everywhere and they are fabulous. Think this:

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and this:

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Both rooms by this talented lady.

Anyways, all the pillows I’ve found (and love) in a similar style are around $200, which is just not really in my budget when I need 4-6 and have a child who still occasionally spits up on things.

So, imagine my delight when I stumbled across this etsy store which has a VERY similar style pillow with prices ranging $45-$80. Still not Target prices, unfortunately, but snagging one or two is now a possibility.

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here, here, here, and here (insert not included)

Also, let’s get real for a moment. My blog sucks. It is a shell of its former self. In my blog’s glory days I posted 5-7 times a week with actual pictures I took with actual thoughts to accompany them. I know I’ve abandoned the blog a few times in the past, but I’ve always come back because for so long it was a great source of inspiration for me and connecting with people who shared the same struggles, aspirations, and interests. It still is, really. And other blogs are great; just not mine. I really don’t know what to do with this little virtual space. Last night I was going to close it down without another word. But, for some reason I just can’t bring myself to do that. I want to be a better blogger. I want to have that zest for crafting a post. I want that creative process of turning my pictures and words into something (somewhat) interesting.

I’m just not sure how to get back there. 

If I think about it, when I started this blog, I was 26. I had a lot of uncertainty in stereotypical quarter-life crisis fashion. This blog was a great outlet for me to vent, over share, and be vain. But, y’all, I’m 32 years old now. I have a career, not just a job, that stimulates me and makes me think and challenge myself. I have a marriage that like all requires work but it’s a true legit marriage to a man I love. We’re not newlyweds. I’m not planning a wedding We’re just old married people. I have a daughter whom I adore and monopolizes most of my freetime. The older I’ve gotten, the less interested I am in being an open book to strangers. I don’t like the criticism it invites, even when those people are the minority. It just sort of ruins it in general for me. I’m too old for that shit.

All that is to say, I don’t know where this blog is going. I don’t really think my life is that interesting anymore (was it ever?). I don’t actually have a lot of time to blog and I don’t really know what to blog about. So, that is where I turn to you. If I’m going to keep this blog going, I’d at least rather focus on the things that you actually want to know about. So, what is that? What do you like to hear about from bloggers? Why do you read blogs?

A Completely and Utterly Random List of Things I’m Loving These Days

Sleep Cycle app. I don’t pay for apps. ever. I figure if they’re not good enough to figure out how to monetize on their own then they’re not good enough. Can you tell there’s a but coming here? BUT, the sleep cycle app is totally worth the $0.99 it costs. I have no idea how it works but the premise is that you set your alarm for whatever time you want to wake up. Sleep Cycle monitors your sleep all night long and wakes you up during the lightest sleep phase that occurs sometime during a 30 minute span before your set alarm time. What does that mean? It means that instead of waking up from a deep slumber to a BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! and wondering where the fire is; it wakes you up with a very soothing sound of your choice during the lightest sleep it can find that jives with when you need to get up. To snooze the alarm, all you have to do it pick up your phone and put it back down. And after about 5 days, sleep cycle has a bunch of stats on your sleep patterns and monitors your quality of sleep, you best nights, what effects certain activities have on your sleep (as long as your enter them when prompted), and more. I get a weird thrill out of seeing what percent quality sleep I’ve had. It’s a real eye opener especially if I’ve had a glass or two of wine, my sleep quality is around 60%. On a day that I’ve exercised, eaten right and not been terribly stressed out, my sleep is around 90-95%. I’ve only hit 100% twice, once when I was knocked out from codeine cough syrup, which sleep cycle did not know about and once when Jason was out of town on a business trip and I had the bed to myself.

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Hyaluronic Acid + Rosewater Glycerine Spray. I like to consider myself a pretty eco-conscious person. I mean, I recycle and I pretty much own every honest product Jessica Alba has ever dreamed up. But when it comes to my beauty routines I don’t give much thought to what is going on my face as long as it makes me look like I got 100% sleep. However, if someone else is willing to do the work for me and tell me what to use, I’m game. Enter my new nightly routine of hyaluronic acid and rosewater glycerine spray. I saw a blog post on this lady’s blog and it reminded me what a killer product hyaluronic acid is in the beauty game. It absorbs hundreds times in weight in water aka moisture (Sidenote: I actually did a research product my senior year of college on the properties of hyaluronic acid in synovial fluid, so I got up close and personal with how great this stuff is. Don’t let the word acid scare you off.) Lots of expensive creams tout it as a key ingredient. This combo is  so good. At night, I apply the HA serum, wait about 30 seconds and then spritz my face and neck with the spray. I use the HA serum in the morning too but use a moisturizer with SPF (Cerave for those curious). After about 10 days of use my skin is plumper and glowier (not a real word but you know what I mean). Plus, it’s really not that expensive and just so, so good. Not mention that the rosewater smells like I just wandered through a garden.

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Goat Cheese, Beet, Edamame Salad. This salad has been my jam. I crave it all day long and then when I get to eat it I am sad it’s gone. I use the store bought steamed beets from Trader Joe’s because anything that makes life easier is a win. I also skip the tomatoes in the recipe, not because I don’t like tomatoes I just like this particular salad better without them.

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(my pick from the fabletics July stuff)

Fabletics July Collection. I haven’t talked about fabletics much lately even though I own a bajillion things from them because their collections have been kind of meh the past few months. I hated their prints and the new “outfits” were just the same old things in different, boring colors. All that changed with the July outfits. They are awesome! The print for the month is fabulous and they’ve incorporated some sexy mesh looks which I am all about. If you haven’t yet signed up for fabletics, please consider my referral link. If you are a new customer, your first outfit is half off and as low as $25. Can’t beat that.

Jonathan Adler’s Online Warehouse Sale. There are some crazy good deals. I am obsessed with these candles. I already have the fig and tomato (not in the sale unfortunately). They smell so good, last forever, and the vessel is perfect as a cup or small vase when it’s empty. This, this and this would make FAB Christmas presents for the man in your life. And this bag and this one too are killer deals.  Jason and I’ve decided that every year for Christmas, we are going to give Nora a small piece of art that one day she can take with her when she goes off to her own home and family. I like to pick things that can transition with her as she grows from a baby to a child to an adult and this is a front runner for this year’s gift. I’m also in love with the price on these pillows. You can check out the entire sale here.

B12 Shots.  I’ve heard a lot of hullabaloo about  vitamin B12 injections (which are better absorbed by your body than an OTC pill form of it) lately, and pretty much anything with the word injection sends me running in the opposite direction. But when I dug a little deeper and read about the promise of more energy and better sleep coupled with a timely groupon offer (they are everywhere), I gave it a whirl. I know, it sounds shady getting injections from groupon, but the provider I use is actually a women’s health clinic that just happens to offer elective B12 shots and is located adjacent to a hospital (i.e. not sketchy at all). The effect on my energy was immediate and noticeable, but it was a sustained, happy, and clean feeling energy. Not like the hazy burst you get from coffee.  Also, on a good night, my sleep cycle app showed I got around 80% sleep. Since getting regular B12 shots, my sleep quality is now around 90-93%. I already knew I felt like I was getting better rest, but that just proves it.

A couple tips if you want to try this out: 1) I’ve heard some people complaining that the effect only lasts for a few days. This is true. If your B12 levels are already low, you need to go once a week for the first 4 weeks. After that, go once every two weeks for a couple months and then you can transition to just one shot a month to sustain.  2) I’ve heard stories of people paying $50 for a shot. That is just crazy. Granted, not all vitamins are created equal, but the top of the line B12 shot at the doctor’s office I go to is $20. And it’s the best, cleanest B12 you can get. Note, I am not a medical professional; I am just sharing my personal experience. Please make the decision for yourself if this is a good choice for you.

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Updated: I can’t believe I forgot my latest discovery!!! The Real Hotwives of Orlando. Is anyone else watching this Hulu series spoof of the Real Housewives? I went in with very low expectations because I couldn’t find anything else to watch, but it is so hilarious, especially if you have ever watched any of the Real Housewives series on Bravo. Angela from the office is on it and so are a couple other people I recognize but am too lazy to look up where they are from. Anyways, it’s really funny and you should watch it, too.

Last Week and Far Too Many Photos of My Child

Has it been only a week since I was on vacation? I was on vacation last week, fyi. But so much happened it felt like I was gone for waaaay longer. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

First of all, my dad was ordained as a deacon. It is something he has been working toward for five years and I am so proud that he achieved his dream. I won’t give you the whole history of his life here, but suffice to say that my dad is a living, breathing example that if you work hard enough, you can do ANYTHING you want. anything.

After the ordination, we took a family photo with the bishop, another deacon and a priest. My mom color coordinated our outfits. You know where I get it.

The Sunday following the ordination, we Jason packed up the car so Nora and I could head to Ocracoke Island with my family. He was following us down on Wednesday. Ocracoke is a little slice of paradise on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, accessible only by ferry and prone to hurricanes (foreshadowing). 

The ferry ride over was WINDY!

But luckily, they had Nora’s new favorite toy on board, a janitor’s bucket thingy. Seriously, I could not keep the girl away from it.

As soon as we set foot on the island, the weather reporters started talking about Arthur. So, I was on a mission to squeeze in as much vacation as possible before we would potentially have to leave. Hint: we had to leave.

We sailed.

We ate the world’s best tacos. No picture of actual taco because there was no time from when it touched my lips to when it was in my belly.

 

We beached. Nora’s preference to cling to my lap for dear life was in stark contrast to our beach visit in May when she screamed bloody murder if I so much attempted to take her away from the sand. 

Nora enjoyed some high flying quality time with her great grandparents who were down from North Dakota. I did too :).

We saw the lighthouse. One of us was not impressed at all. Smile Nora! 

We enjoyed drinks at a local watering hole. Nora enjoyed more than her fair share.

In the end, we had to evacuate Ocracoke Thursday morning, three days ahead of schedule and exactly one day after Jason arrived. It was a bummer, but there was really nothing we could do about it so we just sucked it up, packed everything in the car and cried on the way home.

But we got home where there was ample power, fresh water, and fewer mosquitoes, and made the best of it.

Hot Mess Monday on a Thursday (What?)

Mistake 1: Picking up Nora from daycare for her 15 month check up 20 minutes before snack time (and her doctor’s appointment).

Mistake 2: Arriving at the pediatrician’s office, which is only about 15 minutes away, 10 minutes late and realizing the diaper bag which held extra diapers, extra toys and extra SNACKS is at home. Search the car for snack options only to come up with a pack of old cough drops. Not a good snack for a 15 month old.

Mistake 3: Not letting Nora take the trains from the lobby back to the exam room.

Mistake 4: Taking the sweet nurse up on her offer for a can of chocolate pediasure to give Nora something to appease the non-stop screaming which started 5 minutes, but felt like a million, prior and was causing everyone’s ears to bleed.

Mistake 5: Carefully feeding Nora sips said can of pediasure with a makeshift bib of paper towels covering her mostly nude body save for the diaper. No straws available.

Mistake 6: Setting the can of chocolate pediasure on the upholstered bench while I get up to get more paper towels for a new makeshift bib since current makeshift bib is now soaked with chocolate pediasure.

Nora is screaming between all of these mistakes, btw.

Mistake 7: Sitting back down on the upholstered bench with child in lap which knocks can of chocolate pediasure on the floor.

Put screaming/hungry baby who only wants her drink but can’t have it back on the floor to get paper towels. Hurry and clean up mess before pediatrician or nurse walks in.

Mistake 8: There is about half a can of pediasure left since Nora got 2 sips and the rest was on the floor. At daycare they give them open cups of water during snack time and I’ve actually seen Nora successfully take a sip from an open cup. So, what the heck? Back to mistake: Give small child with under developed motor skills can to drink from which she immediately pours all over her entire face, body, my dress, and my shoes.

Pediasure is gone. RIP. Child still screaming and goes back on the floor for round 2 of speed-clean-the-chocolate-pediasure-before-the-pediatrician-or-nurse-walks-back-in. I win that round (again) and go to give child a quick rinse in the sink since her bare body is covered in sticky, and now drying to a crust, pediasure. Child still screaming. Ask nurse for a new diaper since I have approximately zero clean diapers.

In the meantime, child takes the occasional break from screaming.

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(Please note the blue top of the pediasure in her hand and the empty bottle in the upper left corner. Also, relevant are the soaked and sticky shoes that I had to put back on to walk out of the office.)

Pediatrician arrives and brings with her some crackers. God is a pediatrician.

Lesson learned: Never forget the diaper bag. ever. In fact, have a second emergency diaper bag in the car at all times. I also should always have a pack of crackers in my purse. Forever.