Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Crockpot Mexican Chicken with cream cheese


Food has always been a part of my life, but now it's become something other than just getting something on the table.  My boyfriend Steve and I cook together most of the time.  That's something that my ex-husband and I rarely did, so it kind of made cooking a chore.  Steve and I look up recipes, talk about them and stand in the kitchen together creating them.  He's got a huge list of potential dinner ideas from all of the dishes we have made together this past year.  If we find something interesting that neither one of us has made before, it doesn't matter!  We forge ahead anyway.  We are comfort food people, not necessarily adventurers when it comes to our dinners.  We make things like salisbury steak, pork chops with grilled onions, meatloaf, flatbread pizzas, leafy green salads chock full of veggies and kielbasa and sauerkraut.   Steve has introduced me to Vietnamese and Thai food (when we go out to eat) and I have introduced him to high quality bacon, for the best BLTs at home!  It's win win, that's for sure, and we have such a good time.

Some of the things we find that we'd like to try are of a quantity that's too much for just the two of us, so the potlucks that we go to each month are the times when we pull out the crowd pleasing meals.  Usually, these crowd sized recipes are untried -- yes, yes, we experiment on our friends.



At our latest potluck we made it a Mexican theme.  I am a fan of Mexican food, but I don't like anything hot, so I have to carefully order my food at restaurants.  No hot stuff, no salsa either.  My goal for our potluck was to make something that had  great flavor, tasted like it came from a Mexican kitchen and would still be stove hot and tasty when everyone finally got ready to eat.  If you want something to stay hot for a potluck, it's gotta be made in a crockpot.

My Mexican food repertoire includes chips and cheese, chicken nachos, chicken taquitos and tacos.  Not really innovative or exciting, right?

What does a girl do when she's short on talent?

Google!

Pinterest!

I searched both for "Mexican crockpot meal" and only found a few that fit my no-hot-stuff, no-salsa requirements.  The one I ultimately chose seemed really iffy for some reason.  I couldn't quite put my finger on what I thought was wrong with it, but I was just sure it was going to be bad.

This is real good news to all of you that have stayed with me this far into my ramblings, huh?!

As I mentioned earlier, I do tend to bring brand new, never been tested recipes to potluck.  Thankfully I have only had one fail in all the years, but I was positive this was going to be fail number two.

In actuality, we were lucky to bring home any at all!


I got a little carried away with the sour cream in this photo! This is the way we ate the leftovers - sort of a deconstructed nacho.  Chips, lettuce, sour cream and the crockpot chicken.

Mexican Cream Cheese Crock Pot Chicken

2 Chicken Breasts, boneless/skinless
1 (15 oz) can Black Beans, drained
1 (7 oz) can Green Chiles, chopped
2 (15 oz) cans Diced Tomatoes, undrained
1 (8 oz) can Corn, drained
1 (6 oz) can Sliced Black Olives, drained
1 yellow Onion, chopped (about a cup)
1/2 an envelope Taco Seasoning
8 oz Cream Cheese, cubed

Now the hard part
Put all ingredients into the crockpot, except the cream cheese.
Turn on crockpot.
4-6 hours on High or 8 hours on Low.

I decided after seeing this photo that we needed to add in another can of diced tomatoes. (It's now reflected in the recipe)  The dish needs just a bit more color.

When chicken is tender, take out of the crockpot and shred.  Add back to pot and add in the cream cheese.  Cook for an additional 30 minutes.

Stir well and serve over rice or quinoa OR serve with tortillas OR serve with tortilla chips.


We used already cooked and shredded chicken, as I had cooked up a bunch the day before in my pressure cooker.  So I added in some homemade frozen turkey stock cubes that I had in the freezer to make up for the lost liquids in already cooked chicken.  I'm sure a 1/4 cup of chicken or vegetable stock would be fine, too.  Since my chicken was already cooked and shredded, I was able to avoid the "burn your hands shredding the chicken" step in the recipe!  It was still full of flavor and tender.

I didn't realize there were so many choices of diced tomatoes, when we went to pick out a can at the store.  I chose the fire roasted diced tomatoes and they gave a nice flavor to the dish, but I'm sure any kind you like will work well.


The dish was a hit and I will make it again.  I might even make it just for us and freeze half of it.  We liked it best as deconstructed nachos with our crispy tortilla chips.  At potluck we served it with corn tortillas so it could be an entire gluten free meal for our GF friends.

Thanks for joining me!
Have a wonderful day!
Kristin


Sunday, April 06, 2014

Donate Life - Infant organ donors





I wrote this article for the Jacksonville Transplant Alliance April Newsletter.
I decided that I wanted to share this story with more folks than just those in our transplant community.



April is National Donor Awareness Month and if you are receiving this newsletter you might believe that we are preaching to the choir.  You already know about donor awareness, you know to tell your family about your wishes, you talk to people about being a donor, you talk to people about your transplant or the work you do in the transplant community, etc.  What you might not know is that there is another organ donor group that want to donate and are having difficulty doing so.  
Parents who want to donate the organs of their newborn babies, who for whatever reason, did not survive birth or were born with a defect causing them to live only a day or two, are often told that it is illegal or unethical to donate their organs.  Recently a family learned, eleven weeks into the pregnancy, that their child was going to be born with a brain and skull defect and that the child would not live much past birth.  This family decided to carry the baby to term so that they could donate the organs and tissues.  It took this family up until two days before she gave birth, to find a place that would accept the child as an organ donor.  It shouldn't be that hard.
Some families want to donate their baby's organs and tissue but then also want to have the rest of their body used in research to understand the disease process of babies.  Families are comforted knowing that their child did not die in vain and that the pregnancy ultimately resulted in saving other infants.  In my research I learned that actually determining when an infant no longer has brain function, is actually a difficult determination.  Their brains just aren't formed well enough to be able to test for the tell-tale signs of activity or inactivity.   This is where the illegal or unethical concerns come into play.  
Between 2008 and 2013 only twenty-one infants under a week old were declared eligible to be organ donors.  There were certainly more than 21 infants needing lifesaving organ transplants during those years.  With a little more education going out to the OB-GYN doctors and patients, we can help the effort to get more neonates eligible for donation.  Although some research has been done, doctors and transplant surgeons need to continue to work together, and discover tests that will determine when an infant is brain dead or if a stillborn baby can be eligible for donation.
(source)


Have a great day!
Kristin

Saturday, March 01, 2014

POTD - LB 3624



LB 3624
By Kristin Corlett
© 2014

I took a photo of a screw/washer combination. There were dozens of these in the poured concrete sidewalk. I have no idea why they were there.  However, when I posted this on Facebook, one of the comments suggested that they were benchmark leveling markers.  It looks like they very well may be.  

It looks like when I changed the font I lost my ©20 before the 14.  So Kristin Corlett 14 should be Kristin Corlett ©2014.  Ahhh, technology will drive you crazy if you let it.


I took this photo with the Retro Phone App for Android.  It is my absolute most favorite camera app and it's free.  You can use many different camera settings to get different looks but the orange camera is my favorite.  


called The Orange Box

It gives this scrubbed edge to each photo
gives a red/purple color cast
severe scratches and damage to the film and frame.
high contrast

Have a wonderful day!

Kristin

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Painted kitchen counter tops

Steve's home has been a bachelor pad for 13 years.  Right after he moved in he got into a car accident that required months of rehab. Not too many weeks after feeling better from the accident he started getting sick from a failing liver and kidney.  He was fortunate and received a liver and kidney transplant, but his recovery was slow.  Needless to say,  he didn't get a whole lot done to make his house his style.  His health has been his focus and his house has just sort of evolved around him.  It is an incredibly comfortable place, but I know he wants more of his personal style in it.

His kitchen still has flowered wallpaper,  the countertop is a green speckled laminate and there is so little counter and cabinet space that we have started using one of the bedrooms as a pantry.  We now call it The Food Room.



I think it is fairly common for a woman to come into a man's space and want to change it.  I know I've done it before!  I've been with Steve for over a year now, friends for nearly 7 years and I haven't bugged him at all about his decorating. However, after hearing him talk about the damaged spot on his kitchen counter again, I thought I would mention what my Mom did to her counter years ago.  She just got out a can of Rustoleum Enamel in black and painted out her bright blue laminate.  It made such a difference!   It also made it possible to put off a full renovation for a dozen years or more.

I suggested this to Steve and he said to go for it!

So go for it we did.

A leaky container of Lime-Away destroyed this section of the counter.

I took everything off the counter of course and took before shots, then I went through the process of prepping the surface for cleaning.   I first washed with hot soapy water, then went over every square inch with a super Magic Eraser and then washed/rinsed the counter with vinegar and water.  I let that all dry real well and then wiped the whole thing down with a cloth soaked with rubbing alcohol to get off anything that could possibly be leftover.  It may have been overkill, but I wanted it to be clean and grease free.

When that dried, I taped off the sink with blue tape.  We will be removing the wallpaper next so there was no need to tape that off.  Whew!  I blue taped some stove parts and a line or two on the fridge.  It took only a few minutes with so little counter top.



I purchased a quart of Rustoleum Enamel in black, a small foam roller that was prepackaged with its own tray, a refill foam roller for coat #2, and a small 1\4" nylon craft brush.  To save cleaning time, I covered the paint tray with aluminum foil.

I used the small brush to paint the tops of the backsplash and to cut in all of the corners where the backsplash meets the counter.  Then I rolled out the paint with the roller.  I made sure I got quite a bit of paint on the counter since it really seemed to level out and become nice and flat.  The final pass with the roller should all be in one direction, giving a seamless look.  I managed to ignore this step on one of our sections and it looks a little uneven.

This is what the damaged spot looks like now.  I didn't sand and try to get it smooth because I didn't think it would actually smooth out since it was the fiber board and not laminate.  It's just so much better now that it's painted. Water no longer is absorbed in that area.  

Did I mention you need ventilation?

This is oil based stuff and it smells to high heaven.  Try not to breathe it in any more than you have to.  If you can prop a window or door open and get a cross breeze going, you're going to much happier for the next couple days.



The second coat can be applied after 24 hours.  I wish I could put on a third coat on the counter area that looks uneven, but honestly, unless you know it's there, no one is going to notice.

I should mention that Steve helped with every step of this makeover.  He cleaned, put away and painted.  I didn't do it all myself, even though that's the way I wrote it!

We have let the counter cure for 3 days now.  Probably longer than most people would, but it's given us time to eat out!



So, all in all, this was an incredibly easy project.  The fume factor is the hardest part and lingers for several days.  However, I would do this again without hesitation!

We aren't done with Steve's kitchen.  The wallpaper is going next, painting the walls after that and who knows what else.  I'm hoping to use chalk paint and paint the cabinets.  All this is just pennies compared to the gut job it really needs! But I do think he is really going to love the new look for many years until he wins the lottery or something.



If you have any questions about painting your laminate,  just ask!

Have a great day!
Kristin





Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Palm Trees at Sunset



Target Shopping Plaza
around 4:50pm
Eastern Time
Jacksonville, FL
20 Jan 2014
Retro Camera App
© 2014 Kristin Corlett

I was out shopping for Valentines this afternoon and when I came out to the car, the sky looked gorgeous and the palm trees were perfectly silhouetted against the sky.  I wasn't sure how I was going to get a good shot, considering I was in the middle of a parking lot.  So I decided to tip the camera up so that the sky took up most of the frame.  The seagulls were flying around working on getting some dinner, it seemed and they made a perfect entrance into my shot.

Enjoy!
Kristin

Monday, January 20, 2014

Chocolate Covered Everything

It's all the fault of my local grocery store.  Steve purchased a couple bags of the melting chocolate just after Christmas and was waiting for some good looking strawberries to come in.

The other day the strawberries looked pretty good!  The tops were all white, but for the most part the strawberries looked delicious.




The strawberries have been washed and are hanging out on the counter, drying, while the chocolate is melting.   Steve is such a chocolate lover that he actually has a little electric chocolate melting pot.   I had never seen one before, but I have to say, it made the process of dipping the strawberries (and everything else) very easy.   Personally, I'd never used melting chocolate, so I wasn't sure what the difference was between that and chocolate chips.  Holy Smokes!  The melting chocolate was so much easier to use.  Probably using the little chocolate melting pot helped, too!, as the chocolate never got too hot or too cool.  It was perfect from beginning to end.




In order to dip the chocolates we had to grab the green tops, which revealed all the white on the strawberries.  It didn't make for a great photo since nearly all of the red was now covered in chocolate, but believe me when I tell you that the strawberries were real good.  I can't wait until the Florida strawberries are in season.




Who ever heard of leftover chocolate, right???  Well, we had half a pot of chocolate when the strawberries were done.  Looking around the kitchen we found an open bag of pretzel sticks and half a bag of potato chips.

At first we started dipping the pretzel sticks individually.  After about a dozen of them, I started dipping three at a time.  Oooooh, that was the ticket.  Three sticks welded together with chocolate.  So good.

The potato chips were up next.  I'm now a fan of chocolate covered potato chips.  The Ruffles were real salty, compared to the pretzels, but my oh my, I liked them a lot.  Rarely does something have too much salt for me.

We still had some chocolate left, but our arms were tired and we both were a little nervous we'd eat all of our goodies in one sitting.  Oh I jest!   I spooned out the chocolate into quarter size drops on parchment paper and when the chocolate cooled I put it into a ziploc bag for use on another chocolate dipping day.

When strawberries come in season in your area indulge yourself and dip some of them in chocolate for some extra fun!

Have a great day!
Kristin


Monday, January 06, 2014

Fun in Anthropology


My Christmas of 2013 did not include any shopping in the cool shops this year.  My money was tight and I just wasn't in the mood to be in the crowds.  This meant though, that I didn't get a chance to go to some of my favorite places to wander and dream and look at all the Christmas decorations the stores put up.  The Anthropology store is one of my favorites, any time of year, actually.  On Saturday morning I had a couple of hours to myself so I took some time to go visit the store.

I couldn't live with EVERYTHING that Anthropology has for sale, but I find that I like all of the girly flowers on dishes, the fabric wrapped giant letters and strange fabrics on pillows.  The peacock above is from a wonderful pillow that I saw there.  I am so grateful that I have one of their super soft, patchwork comforters.  I have been adoring them for years and a few months ago my Mom gave me the Anthropology comforter that she has had, but recently updated with something else.  I was happy to accept the hand-me-down.  Not to mention, it fit right into my price range - Free!



I think one of the most interesting things about the Anthropology stores are the decorations.  They are so simple at times, but look incredible.  I've seen walls of books that were made into a magical mountain and straws that were strung so that they looked like a waterfall.  One of the Christmas themes this year was the use of birch.  There were a couple dozen of these birch pieces for one vignette, some wrapped with a little bit of white twine and covered with fake, glittery snow.  It was gorgeous!! and it looked so easy.  If I still had a birch tree (I had one in my yard a dozen houses ago) I would start gathering the trimmings and make one of these birch decorations.

As many of you know,  I collect bread bag tags.  I have tried to think out of the box as to what to do with them, Anthropology style, to make them an incredibly wild decorating element in my home.  So far the inspiration has not struck, but by the end of this year, 2014, I will have at least a small wall covered in them.  I've already picked the wall.

I hope you have a great day!
Kristin