Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!!!! (Easy enchilada soup and the UGLY TRUTH)

Hellooooo, everybody!! Happy, happy New Year!! I loved 2013 (like really, really loved it) but I am even more excited by 2014! It's time for planning ahead, dreaming big dreams and making all those awesome resolutions. 
(First of all, I promise not to use so many exclamation points. Unless I'm really, really excited. *ahem*)

Let's get to today's recipe and then I'll drop the ugly truth on you. 
What's that, you say? You're not aware of the ugly truth??
Well, it's all around us, including in this recipe (and I don't mean the chicken, Kav!) and sometimes we have to smudge a few of those sharp lines to make the world a bit happier. Are you with me? No? Well, let me start and maybe you'll catch up on the way.

Behold. Shiny enameled stock pot. The cast iron stock pot left a HUGE rust ring on my lovely, vintage sink so it went to a good friend. (Something about leaving the bottom a bit wet and setting it on the white enamel. Whatever it was, it kills me that this sink has lasted a long, long time and I was the one to mark it up. UGH. Ugly truth, right there.)
 Apparently, enameled pots will NOT harm the pretty vintage sink. 
Unless I drop it. 
Which I won't.
 So, ingredients needed: one big bag of chicken breasts (fresh or frozen, but since this is a quick meal, the bag came out of the freezer). Corn tortillas. Cheddar cheese. Enchilada sauce.
You can make this with red sauce but I've never really liked red enchiladas.
Fill your stock pot half full of water. Add the sauce. Add the chicken. Turn it on high. (Sorry these pictures are so dark. It's winter. I need a sun lamp for my food pics.)
 Boil the chicken.
 Add ten to 12 corn tortillas. Let them boil with the chicken and stir a bit so they're in fairly large pieces. Ovoid over-stirring. That would make enchilada mush, which is still tasty but rather icky looking.
 Add about five or six thick slices of cheddar cheese and let that melt into the soup. This gives it a really nice, creamy flavor.
 Remove the chicken and chop into small pieces. Now is a good time to taste for salt, pepper, etc. I usually add a bit of salt and some cumin powder. MMMMMMM.....
 Turn the oven on broil. Cover the top of the soup with thick slices of cheddar cheese. I saw this recipe with Pepper Jack cheese and it looked GORGEOUS. But I don't like Pepper Jack. Put the stock pot in the oven (make sure it's oven safe, of course).
 After 3 minutes or so on broil, pull the pot from the oven. The cheese should be melted very nicely over the top and a bit crunchy. Think onion soup. Think lasagna. Think enchiladas...

Now, here's where the ugly truth comes in. I could just pop this on the table and everyone could  serve themselves, but you know I'm a FOOL for ramekins. I love how they provide a bit of portion control (all that late night writing and eating and writing and eating has not been kind to my rear end). 
But the recipe I saw had the ramekins put in the oven on broil, so they cooked separately.

 Two problems with that:
One- I don't want to clean off the baked-on cheese from a bunch of tiny ramekins. Nobody got time for that.
Two- the ramekins would be incredibly hot. I have toddlers (okay, and older kids who grab their food without thinking) so I avoid handing out 300F serving dishes.
 Here we'll blur those rough edges of truth and make a little happy in our world. Nothing dishonest, just... easier.
Dip the soup from under the layer of cheese and add a bit to every dish. Then, using a knife, cut a bit of the cheddar and lay it on top. Ta-DAH! Baked enchilada soup and nobody is going to the ER. It's still plenty hot, but not enough to hurt you.
 I added a bit of green onion to mine. A friend put corn in hers. The flavor is really amazing and if I had time, I think I might want to experiment. But as it is, I'm sticking with what I know...
 Now, the only ugly truth (cleaning up) involved here will be with this baby. And since I've made this dish three times now in this enameled pot, I'm confident in saying I won't be scrubbing for hours. Not even ten minutes. One dish dinner! Great for a crowd and it keeps well in the fridge. Leftovers!

And now, time for some more of the UGLY TRUTH. This is one of our closets, disemboweled. The innards of the little boys' closet was so tangled and so jumbled that nobody even knew what was in there. Sometime in May, my husband "sorted" part of the laundry room and "stored" things in this closet.
Yeah... Scare quotes and all.
 (And yes, I realize it's January, but what can I say? I've been too busy to deal with the closet problem. Until now.. Now is the time of reckoning...)
 One day, I'd had enough! (Specifically, Sunday evening.) We took everything from the closet and sorted it out. Bicycle helmets stayed, but girl backpacks from ten years ago? Out. Booster seat from 7 years ago? Out. Hallowe'en costumes for little girls when I've had only boys for the last ten years? Out.
You get the idea.
 Also, this ancient old house had 'do it yourself' closets made by the previous owner/builder. Note the awesome paneling. This was all over the house when we bought it 12 years ago. I think this is the last remnant. The closet doors never worked right. EVER.
(P.S. Like my home made light switch covers? One Lego magazine, one layer of mod podge. La voila! Lego light switch cover that made little boys squee with happiness.)
So, everything out. (Sorry, this pic is pre-clean up. Before we swept and scrubbed. Gross, eh?) In preparation for the new carpet in this room, I've got a new plan for this closet. No more ugly truth behind closet doors. No more heaven-knows-what in this space.
Here's the plan:
A reading nook!!

You can find a hundred ideas like it on Pinterest here. Go check it out and see what I mean. And next week I will update on our progress! The little people are VERY excited to have their own reading space. We have bookshelves in every room, and they have two in their room, but THIS will be fun. I'm letting the kids decide among themselves what sort of design it will be. So far, I'm hearing a lot of dragons and castles and Legos. We shall see!

 Have a wonderful start to your NEW YEAR!!! I've partied hardy over on Seekerville last night for their New Year's Eve party so I'm going to need a nap.

But first, we're going to open our 'Good Things Jar', which we've been filling of all the wonderful things that have happened this year. We started January 1st 2013, and we'll open it today! We'll read each slip and applaud every small success, rejoice over every blessing, and reminisce over every good memory. 

From my family to yours, may this year bring peace and joy! Happy New Year!


  1. I want a reading nook! this looks good! I've taken chicken breasts and cut into chunks in a skillet and added the green enchilada sauce and shredded cheddar - it was good. (recipe was supposed to be for enchiladas but I got a litle carried away with the filling and there wasn't enough left to try the enchiladas!) don't like the red sauce either.
    I want to do a good things jar too. :-)

    I've also thought ramekins would be cute but don't like washing and handling hot little dishes with no handles just ain't fun :-


    1. You know, wit six kids I thought there was no way we could spare a closet. But most of the stuff in the closet is OLD. And we don't need it. But we always need a great place to read!!

  2. Sounds delicious! I love the reading nook too --looking forward to your progress....Happy New Year!

    1. Stay tuned! Painting started today and shelves and lights will be in tomorrow!

  3. hey just noticed we use the same brands of enchilada sauce! :-) that stuff is great! was doing a happy dance when I found it. just wish I could find a good green salsa like they have at the breakfast taco places- all in the bottles have tasted lemon-y and I hate that :-(


    1. My husband makes his own salsa verde and it doesn't have much lemon juice in it at all. You're right. Out of the jar, it can be really acidic.

    2. maybe you can sweet talk him into doing a post on how to do it?! one place told me they just use tomatillo and shrugged like it was the same thing a making a peanut butter sandwich...

    3. Susanna, it's in one of these posts somewhere. I'll have to go through the archives!

  4. Oooh, love the Good Things Jar idea. You are creating so many wonderful memories for your kids! And a closet reading nook? Be still my heart. You almost lost me to Pinterest. So many good ideas. I look forward to seeing your own closet transformation. Now you have me wondering if there's a way I could create a closet space in my school library. I actually have some old doors that could be used as side walls. Hmmmmmm....

    I get the organizing/redecorating bug every new year. I'm redoing my little study by repurposing furniture around the house. My living room is a disaster since it's the holding place for everything waiting to be sorted. Hopefully I'll finish today...after a nap. Yawn. New Years at Seekerville did me in. :-)

    1. Oh, isn't that a great thought?? Reading nook in a school library! I just found one of those giant colorful parachutes and wondering how we could use that. Probably not. But it's going to be interesting, for sure!
      I know, my head is POUNDING. I blame those rum balls.

  5. First, Virginia, I am ADDICTED to enameled cast iron. Absolutely love it!

    Second, this recipe looks like something my family would love. Especially my husband. Wanting to clarify on the tortillas, though. You put them in whole, but you want to end up with decent size chunks of them?

    Can't wait to try this!

    1. Think of it like... soft dumplings. If you stirred and stirred and stirred you'd end up with some kind of mushy, creamy soup. But when you add dumplings to the broth it changes it... but not completely. So, yes, let it boil and break up, but resist the urge to stir it too much!

  6. Happy New Year!!! I love your reading nook idea. And I love you soup recipe! I think it's smart to keep it in one pot. Who wants to scrub baked cheese out of ramekins?!

    Thanks for sharing!

  7. Soup: looks delicious - especially with the melted cheese on top. I'm a big melted cheese addict!

    Reading nook: Fabulous idea! I wanted to turn a closet into a reading nook in one house - it was almost 20 years ago. But my daughter thought it would be better as a play closet. She thought reading belonged on the couch. We compromised - it became a play closet, and we read everywhere else. :)

    Cast iron: I love my cast iron pots, but I use stainless steel for stock pots and sauce pans. I love the beautiful colors of the enameled ones, though!

    Have fun with your painting/carpeting/ etc.!

  8. I love the pot. THE SOUP LOOKS AMAZING. And the reading nook is brilliant.

    Your life is so much more exciting than mine.

  9. I love the reading nook idea.... if you keep the door handy so's youse can CLOSE IT!!!!!

    PERFECT!!!!!! :)

    Now the chicken enchilada deliciousness???? Oh, that sounds wonderful! And easy. I love anything that's one dish, one pot, one clean up that might not fit in the dishwasher. Spare me cleaning time, I'd rather write sweet books!!!!

    And I have a couple of closets scheduled for a similar fate for this winter. And two attic bedrooms. That is the goal between now and May because then it's time to do the outside work.

    I tell folks (wait, by that I mean I tell my Husband) that this keeps us young...

    He Is Not Convinced.

    Silly man!