Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

Hi everyone!

As you know from my "Mother of Two" post, I am playing mom this week to Mr. G's youngest siblings. It has gone pretty well for the most part, but I can see why a mother's patience gets tested at times... I feel bad for being so fussy about my food as a child, because now - for the first time - I am cooking for somewhat picky eaters. They're older, so they aren't too bad, but they aren't as willing as Mr. G to eat everything I put before them. The good news is that they are pretty self-sufficient, so I don't have to make every meal for them, but cooking steak for everyone last night was a bit of a struggle.

One meal they definitely liked was the first one I cooked - Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas. I got it from my Spark Recipes app, which is known for its healthy recipes. All the ingredients in this (except the cheese) are, in fact, healthy - grilled chicken, fat free sour cream, fat free chicken soup, and veggies. And they were delicious!

Here is the recipe:

  • 16 oz. fat free sour cream
  • 1 can fat free cream of chicken soup (I used chicken broth)
  • 1 tbls. fresh chopped cilantro (1/2 tbls. dried)
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast (I added a container of pulled chicken breast from the Mexican aisle that had its own sauce - good combination!)
  • 1 can Mexican Rotel
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 16 corn tortillas (I only used 11, but I got the larger ones)
  • 8 oz. shredded pepper jack and colby cheese blend (I just used a Mexican cheese blend)
  • 1 can diced green chiles (I left these out)
  • In a saucepan, mix together sour cream, soup, and cilantro. Heat through and set aside.
  • Combine the chicken, Rotel, onions and green chiles in a pan. Heat until onions are transparent.
  • Warm the tortillas until flexible. Then fill each tortilla with about 2 tbls. of the chicken mixture and about 1 tbls. of the cheese (for larger tortillas, I did 3 tbls. chicken mixture and about 2 tbls. cheese).
  • Roll tortilla up and place seam side down in an 8x11 dish sprayed with cooking spray (I also had to use my 9x9 pan).
  • Pour over the sour cream sauce and top with the remaining cheese.
  • Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until heated through.
  • Supposedly makes 8 servings of 2 enchiladas each, but mine made 5-6 servings of 2 each.
I served the enchiladas with Mexican rice and refried beans. It was fantastic. Nobody else really liked the beans, but I love them, so I was very pleased.

We took the kids to see Rio last night (yay for cheap movie Tuesday!), and it was SO cute. In addition, I tried lacrosse and discovered a hidden talent for it. Finally a sport I can play!! Tonight we'll go swimming and tomorrow: tennis. I work both days as well, so this continues to be a busy week. The kids are home-schooled, so unlike Mr. G and me, they end up having a lot of free time. All I can say is, thank goodness we have a Wii!

As for my job hunt, I had two more interviews yesterday - 1 with a recruiter, and 1 for another internship. Recruiters are great resources, so I'm excited to see what comes out of that. And as for the internship, I already got invited back for a second interview on Friday. I'm feeling a lot more confident about my chances now - I'm bound to get something out of all these interviews. In fact, I'm starting to worry that I may end up with too many options to choose from... But that sure would be a nice problem to have. 

Wish me luck the rest of this week! ;) 

<3 Mrs. G

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The End of the World... Or Not

Hello all!

So as you may or may not know, the world was supposed to end yesterday. And as you hopefully know by now, it didn't.

According to California preacher, religious broadcaster, and part-time prophet Harold Camping, May 21st was to mark the second coming of Christ and therefore Judgment Day for all of us here on Earth. He determined this based on a series of calculations incorporating the date of Jesus's crucifixion, the number of days in a year, and various other numbers of apparent significance. I don't mean to mock someone's convictions, because I'm sure the man had good intentions, but I do want to make a quick point here: Harold Camping represents neither the Bible's preachings nor the Christian mindset. He represents Harold Camping. And perhaps crazy people. Poor Mr. Camping has now become a national joke (again) - even my pastor poked fun at him this morning. When Judgment Day finally comes, I hope Harold is alive to witness it, and I hope it takes him completely by surprise.

As for me, I spent what could have been my last hour on earth cashing out female customers desperate for a little lift and support right before the heavens came crashing down. When I asked one customer in particular if she wanted to take 30 seconds to sign up for our store charge (my best line...), she said, "The world is about to end; I don't have 30 seconds!!" I couldn't argue with that - I hadn't planned on spending my last moments at a mall, either.

What's funny, though, is that we did have a few "false alarms" here in MN. For example:
  • We were issued a tornado warning in the Twin Cities area at around 6 pm - right when the rapture was scheduled to begin. Yikes!
  • There were SO MANY Canadians shopping in my store that night. Their accents are cute, but it just wasn't right.
  • We got a crazy amount of storms this entire weekend, and right at around midnight last night - just when we thought we were safe from the apocalypse - we got slammed with a hail storm that cluttered my porch with what looked like snow balls.
It just goes to show you that you never know what's going to happen next... And it should stay that way.

When you look back on yesterday years from now, will you remember where you were and what you were doing when the world didn't end? I probably won't. But to help keep your memories fresh, here are some funny and insightful articles on Judgment Day 2011:

"Judgment Day May 21: When Will the World Actually End?" (Christian Science Monitor)
"Apocalypse Not" (Christian Science Monitor)
"Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse" (CDC)

Here's to another day!

<3 Mrs. G

Disclaimer: This is in no way meant to make light of Christ's second coming but rather of a man's very public and misguided attempt to predict the unpredictable. See Matthew 24:36-44. :)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Mother of Two (for a week)

Hello, everyone!

TGIF! Hope you all have fun weekend plans. As for me, I will be working non-stop. Can't wait...

I will also become a mother of two for a week, starting tomorrow. Mr. G's parents will be in Wyoming all next week, so we will be watching his two youngest siblings while they are gone. I'm excited to spend time with the kids, and they are super excited to hang out with us. :) I just hope they get along well enough - they tend to butt heads a lot - and I don't know how good of a warden I can be... Either way, this will be good preparation for actual motherhood! Ha. Plus, his sister loves to cook and bake, so it will be nice to have a helper in the kitchen. Maybe she'll even show me some things...

While they're here, I'm going to try out a new recipe - low-fat chicken enchiladas with a side of refried beans (my fave!) and Mexican rice. I'm very excited; Mexican is definitely one of my top two favorite types of food, but for some reason, I don't cook it very much. I also hope to make some scones, because Mr. G's sister has an amazing recipe for them.

In other news, I had another interview today that went super well. I feel confident about all my interviews this week, so I am definitely hoping something works out soon... Keep me in your thoughts and prayers, if you think of it. While I am definitely thankful for interviews, I am starting to get a little disheartened. I know I'll find something eventually, but when I realized the other day that I am officially a year out of college without much to show for myself career-wise, it really got to me. I know I'm not the only one, but as some of you probably know, it certainly feels that way sometimes.

On a lighter note, I'm feeling more hopeful now after these interviews, and I definitely like living in the Twin Cities area. I hope to get involved in things soon - with church and with my sorority's local alum chapter. We'll see what happens. I'll keep you posted on everything.

Feel free to comment if you are in a similar job situation to myself and want to vent. Or if you know of any great contacts in the MSP area. ;)

<3 Mrs. G

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Curtain Photos

Hi everyone!

As promised, here are photos of my curtains.

Starting with the kitchen:

Here is the guest room:

And here is the living room:

Hope you like! Wish me luck at my interviews this week! 

<3 Mrs. G

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Window Treatments & Life Update

Hello all!

My curtains are up!! Finally! Here are the choices I made:

  • Guest room - Bamboo shades from Home Depot (same as my last post)
  • Living room - White sheer curtains from IKEA for the window, and grey scroll Fieldcrest curtains from Target for the sliding glass door
  • Kitchen - same IKEA floral curtains from the previous post
The last thing I need to get now is a sheer white curtain to cover my ugly but necessary (and expensive!) vertical blinds in the master bedroom window. I also still need to hem the IKEA curtains to the right length, so I'll post pics of all the curtains once they're done! They're up, though, and I couldn't be happier with my choices. I love the grey/white combination in the living room - it goes perfectly with my grey rug and modern-ish furniture. And the kitchen is so colorful and fun, while still letting in lots of natural light.

Confession time - I STILL haven't finished my crafts... But in my defense, I don't have a hot glue gun yet. I refuse to buy it anywhere but Family Dollar since I'm cheap, and they're all out right now. Haha.

But as promised, here is a photo of my tiles as decor:

In other news, I've had a lovely week. On Friday, I went out to lunch with my mother-in-law at Edina Grill by 50th and France. I had eggs benedict, and it was amazing - I think I will try making it sometime soon... We also stopped in at an adorable cupcake shop, the Monique Lhuillier boutique, and a yummy bakery called Breadsmiths, where I got my newest obsession: lemon lavender bread! So delicious. Now I feel inspired to try my hand at the lavender cupcakes in my recipe book. :) 

I had an awesome interview yesterday, and I have another one tomorrow as well as on Friday. I also played tennis with Mr. G yesterday. I was terrible at first but eventually started improving and had a lot more fun. We joined a beach volleyball league that starts next month, so I definitely need to work on my athletic skills ASAP. I'm excited, though!

As for more upcoming excitement, we officially have vacation plans for the summer! We will be spending a week at a beachfront cabin upstate with Mr. G's family at the end of June. And pets are allowed, so Molly can come with! I can't wait to take her swimming for the first time. She is truly my child. ;) The cabin is pretty far north, though, so I'm hoping the weather will be warm enough for swimming. It's about 60 miles short of the Canadian border - if my passport wasn't outdated, we could have gone over the border for a day. :( And speaking of Canada, Mr. G will actually be there in a couple of weeks. He is going for a work conference, so unfortunately I won't be going with. But he knows to bring back souvenirs.

Anyone else have any fun vacation plans for the summer? I'm also hoping to to hit up Nashville at some point... It's been too long!

<3 Mrs. G

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cupcakes & Custard

Hi everyone!

As promised, I'm posting the recipes for my recent dessert ventures: chocolate dulce de leche cupcakes and berry custard pie. As you know from my last post, my parents came to visit over the weekend, and on Friday, we all went down to Mr. G's parents' house for dinner. I was assigned dessert, so I was excited to try a new cupcake recipe, of course. However, I also wanted to make something low-fat for my health-conscious dad, so that's how I found the berry custard pie recipe.

Chocolate Dulce de Leche Cupcakes

I randomly got the idea to add dulce de leche to my cupcakes - it's one of my favorite flavors, and it seemed fitting around Cinco de Mayo. :) At first I was going to add it as a filling to a chocolate cake, but then I found this amazing recipe for chocolate dulce de leche cupcakes! Here are the recipes I used:

Chocolate Dulce de Leche Cupcakes

Dulce de Leche (for filling and/or topping)

Unfortunately, I had a few problems with these cupcakes... They turned out pretty good still, but they were a struggle to make. FYI - dulce de leche is very challenging and very time-consuming to make. If you have the time and the patience, go for it, because it tastes delicious home-made. But if not, you can always buy it in a can. That wasn't the only problem, though... This is really embarrassing to admit, but I forgot to put in the chocolate chips!! Kind-of important for CHOCOLATE cupcakes! :( Thankfully, I had already put cocoa powder in the mix, so they still tasted like chocolate. But I'm sure they would have been much better with the chocolate chips... Oh well. Lesson learned: pay close attention to your ingredients!! Especially when there is a lot, like in this recipe. Double-check everything!

Also, my cupcakes fell in the middle instead of rising... Maybe it was due to the missing chocolate chips? Or maybe it was the temperature change. Who knows. Either way, I opted out of using dulce de leche filling since there wasn't really room for it... Instead, I just put a lot on top of the cupcakes and swirled in chocolate fudge. They ended up looking pretty cute, and they still tasted good in spite of all the problems.

Here they are, flaws and all:

Berry Custard Pie

The berry custard pie recipe went much more smoothly than the cupcakes, and it came out delicious!

As it turns out, there is actually a pie crust recipe included, but I used a different one that is actually easier and worked great.

Here are my recipes:

Graham Cracker Pie Crust

Berry Custard Pie

I didn't take a picture of the pie. :( Completely forgot. But it was a hit, and it is surprisingly healthy! I used peaches and raspberries - only because my dad doesn't like blackberries - but I think any berry combination would work. I loved the peach/raspberry mixture, though! And I think the custard actually tasted better than the cupcakes, but if they had been made right, maybe that wouldn't have been the case...

In other news, I'm hoping to get another DIY project done this week - either the book page wreath or the moss letters (see "Crafting My Nest" for more info). I'll report back!

Feel free to comment if you've had a similar ditzy baking moment, or if you have any fun cupcake recipes or low-fat dessert recipes to share!

<3 Mrs. G

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Parents' Visit & Curtain Ideas

Hi everyone,

So sorry for the delay in posts. My parents came to town this past weekend, and we had a fabulous time! We took them to the Mall of America and through Minneapolis and St. Paul - we even walked around the city's signature Walker Art Center, home of the famous spoon and cherry sculpture. We also ate REALLY well - we had Mexican on Cinco de Mayo (of course), amazing chicken and veggies by Mr. G's mom on Friday, steak and potatoes on Saturday, and a yummy turkey burger lunch on Mother's Day with fresh apples and grilled corn on the cob. SO good!

Also, as a housewarming gift to us, my parents have offered to pay for our much-needed window treatments. We did a lot of shopping over the weekend, but I still have a lot more to do. So far, we only got curtains for the kitchen, but we've priced a lot of things. I know the color scheme I want for all the windows, but from here it's picking the right curtain/shade. At first, I wanted all bamboo Roman shades, but now I think only the guest room will have them. In the living room, I have the challenge of finding something for a window and a large glass sliding door that are right next to each other. I'm thinking I want one white sheer curtain and one thicker grey curtain (preferably to cover the door), but I'm having trouble deciding what to get.

Here are the curtains I got for the kitchen (from IKEA, of course):

IKEA Birgit curtains

I'm very excited about these! I think they will look great next to my colorful tiles. :) Speaking of which, I finally found something to hang my tiles on! They are black plate hangers I got from Bed Bath and Beyond, and they're perfect! I have a lot of black accents in my kitchen anyway, plus now I don't have to attach anything to the tiles or worry about them falling off shelves... Success!

I was also hoping to get my shades from IKEA, but they only make one size, and they're too small even with two panels. :( I do love their shades, though, and they have amazing prices. Here are a couple of my favorites:

IKEA Anno Stra curtain
IKEA Anno Ljuv curtain

In place of IKEA shades, I think I have decided on some from Home Depot to put in our guest bedroom. 
The bamboo will go nicely with my green comforter from Urban Outfitters.

Urban Outfitters is actually one of my favorite places to look for decor inspiration. The only downside is that their stuff is usually expensive and not always practical. Nevertheless, I am in love with their curtains, and maybe some will show up in our house after all. Here are my favorites by Urban that will serve as my inspiration, if nothing else:

Urban Outfitters Drawstring Ruched Balloon Shade

Urban Outfitters Flounce Ruffle Stripe Curtain

In place of the balloon shade from Urban, I found this great balloon shade at Target that seems to be more sheer, which I would prefer, and the plus side is I don't have to mess with drawstrings. I also love this gray scroll curtain from Target to cover the sliding glass door. 

So many choices! I never thought it would be this hard to pick out curtains... If you have any suggestions, let me know!

I'll post pics of everything once I hang them up, and I'll also post the recipes soon for the desserts I made for our family gathering on Friday - dulce de leche cupcakes and berry custard pie. :)

<3 Mrs. G

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

London Calling

Guess who has the day off? :)

I'll be putting it to use cleaning, decorating the house, and - if I feel like it - crafting. I know I said I would try to get one more DIY project done before my parents come to town tomorrow, but I'm not convinced it will happen... I'm still shocked I finished the tiles!

In unrelated news, I really want to go to London. I always have - it's pretty much top of my list - but after watching the royal wedding and the King's Speech in the same weekend, I want to go more than ever. Thankfully, Mr. G is on the same page. He liked the King's Speech more than he would probably admit (as well as the royal wedding), and he is particularly excited about the prospect of going during the Olympics next year... I'm right on board with that idea!

We're in no position to be saving right now for an extravagant European vacation, but who knows where we'll be next year... In the meantime, we have to save up to rent a cabin this summer and fly out to Vegas this fall for our one-year anniversary. :) So many things we want to do! Let's hope we can afford it all and still be able to eat... But hey, you're only young once, right?

Speaking of money, this blog has inspired me to (finally) start trying to find some freelance writing work. If you know of anyone or any company in need of a blogger/copywriter/editor, hook me up! ;) But seriously... I would love you forever.

Last bit of news: our dog, Molly, got her *professional* haircut today, and she looks fabulous. Her winter coat is finally gone - she is ready for summer! Here she is (she knows how good she looks):

That's all for now!

Feel free to comment if you are traveling anywhere fun this year, or know of great places to find deals on London vacations. OR if you want to hook me up with a writing gig! ;)

<3 Mrs. G

DIY: Talavera Tiles

As promised, here are photos of the Mexican-inspired tiles I painted for my kitchen:

I think they turned out pretty well! The red/orange one is my favorite - I love all the fun details. All of these were inspired by tiles I've seen somewhere - one was based on my mini-tile I got in Mexico, two were based on Mexican jewelry I saw on Etsy, and one was actually based on one of my ceramic sugar canisters, which also turned out to have talavera designs. Funny thing is, they were Mr. G's before we got married! I love when things work out like that. :)

The only direction I can give on making these is to measure your perimeter designs and your center to make sure everything is symmetrical. From there, I just free-handed it. My advice is to be creative, have fun with it, and don't be afraid to make mistakes! Paint is actually very forgiving, so it's not as bad as it seems. Plus, perfection is boring. ;) As for supplies, I bought the tiles from Home Depot (they are real floor tiles!), and the paint/brushes from Michael's. I used acrylic paint, and I was happy with how it turned out, but you can also buy ceramic paint, which may have been a better idea in retrospect.

In other news, we are getting the house ready for this weekend, because my parents are coming to visit! Thankfully, we are pretty much unpacked now - I just have to make sure everything is good to go and try to get some more crafts done! I still don't know how I'm going to hang up these tiles (or if they'll even hang), and I have set a goal of finishing one more DIY project before this weekend. I think I can manage that, since I'm only working two days this week.

Also, speaking of DIY, Mr. G and I made the mistake of attempting to cut our dog's hair ourselves yesterday... We have an adult lab/collie with long, bushy hair. Bathing her is a task in itself (and requires extensive clean-up), but cutting her hair was one big struggle. We took her out to the garage, used Mr. G's cutting shears (yep, I cut his hair!), and went to town. The shears didn't work well, though, so we eventually we just started hacking off her hair with scissors, and while she definitely has shorter hair now, she looks like she just survived some form of medieval torture. Ok, so maybe it's not that bad, but it is pretty funny; I keep finding random long hairs sticking out of nowhere. So, I get the honor of taking her into Petco in the morning to get it fixed, and I can't wait to see the faces of the grooming staff when we walk in. This is one DIY project I don't think I'll repeat.

How are you guys celebrating Mother's Day?? Got any good dessert recipes for me to borrow? :)

<3 Mrs. G

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

World's Best Sugar Cookies

Hi everyone!

Hope you all have adequately recovered from the weekend's excitement.

I'm posting tonight's recipe mostly because it's awesome, but also because I'm waiting for my camera to charge so I can take photos of my newly painted tiles and post them for you to see! That's right - I finally finished them! I think they look really good, but I'll let you be the judge... I hope to have them up later tonight.

Tonight's recipe is what I consider to be the world's best sugar cookies. Mr. G thinks so, too, if that makes a difference. I've made them before, and they just keep getting better each time I make them, so I think that's a good sign. Mr. G actually found the recipe randomly online one night when we had cookie cravings, and thankfully I saved it.

I made them last night because I had so much strawberry frosting still leftover from the Easter cupcakes, and Mr. G had a severe sweet tooth. I think they turned out to be the best batch yet, which is funny because I had to alter the ingredients a little - I ran out of flour, so I substituted pancake mix for the last cup of flour (Mr. G's idea) - and I wonder if that actually made them better. Either way, it made the mix a little heavier, which I think is why the cookies came out nice and flat (usually they're puffy). Also, if you have time, you should definitely make frosting to go on them, and I highly recommend strawberry. I just happened to have some sitting around, and it worked out well because the flavors married perfectly together... It's like heaven in your mouth. Never underestimate the power of a simple sugar cookie. ;)
Here are the links to the cookie recipe and (again) to the strawberry frosting recipe:

Sugar Cookies

Strawberry Meringue Buttercream Frosting


<3 Mrs. G

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Justice in Death, Peace in Life

As most of you probably know by now, Osama bin Laden has been reported dead. I just watched the President's address to the nation, and it was actually a very good speech. Thanks to high-definition TV, I could really see the solemnity and sincerity in his expression marked by the subtlest smile of triumph.

I can't imagine being in the President's position - committed wholeheartedly to protecting his country but, in doing so, is forced to decide someone's fate. One life in exchange for thousands. It seems like such a simple equation given all that Bin Laden has done - and don't get me wrong, it is certainly a relief not to be living in fear of his next move - but hardly anything is as simple as it seems, especially when it comes to decisions about life and death. Perhaps that's because those decisions aren't really ours to make... But that's a discussion for another day.

I don't want to get too political on here. There is a lot that I don't know, but what I do know is that this is sure to be the most memorable moment of Obama's presidency. When our children's children read about President Obama in their history books (online, I'm sure) and when they are tested on the details of his term, this is going to be what they remember. This day - marked by achievement, recompense, and moral conflict - is our V-J Day. Justice has been served, one way or another, and it has been a decade in the making.

I think the question to ask now is, where do we go from here?

May God be with our President, our troops, and all the world leaders - right after a victory is sometimes when we are our most vulnerable.

<3 Mrs. G

P.S. Feel free to share your reactions below. You've heard my opinion, so I would love to know yours.


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