Monday, July 30, 2012

Freezer Day

Last week, we had a freezer day. I've been freaking out about starting school. I'm just scared to death everything else in my life is going to fall apart because anybody that knows me knows that I refuse to do a job unless I can devote 100%. Well, devoting 100% to my students means I won't have time to clean or cook or exercise, much less do anything fun for myself.

So to ease my fears, we cooked a bunch of meals for the freezer so I can just thaw it in the morning and pop it in the oven when I get home. Me, Mom and Barb tripled the recipes for chicken enchiladas and chicken spaghetti. We cooked all afternoon and came out with 12 two-person servings of enchiladas + 2 four-person servings, 12 regular-sized chicken spaghettis (will feed 4-6) + 1 large family size (will feed 8-10). I also made 2 gallons of chili at my house. We spent about $200 on the ingredients for the two chicken dishes. If you divide that by each meal we have, it comes out to about $1.75 per serving. Not too shabby! I know it's a lot of up-front cost, but think of how glad we'll be when we ain't gotta think about dinner. :)

Several of you have asked for the recipes, so here they are.

Chicken Spaghetti
1 chicken - boiled, deboned and chopped
1 can Rotel
1 (2 pound) block Velveeta, cubed
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
5 green onions, chopped
1 stick butter
1 package spaghetti

After boiling the chicken, SAVE THE STOCK! In a large skillet, melt the butter and add bell pepper and green onions. Saute until tender. When translucent, add Rotel and simmer for a few minutes. Add chicken to the tomato mixture. Cook spaghetti in the chicken broth. Drain, reserving all of the broth. Put the spaghetti back into the pot and add the tomato/chicken mixture. Next, stir in the Velveeta. The heat of the pot should melt the cheese. The spaghetti will absorb most of the liquid, so keep adding broth until it's a good consistency. Pour entire mixture into a 13x9 Pyrex and sprinkle with cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

**If you're going to be freezing this, be sure to add LOTS of extra broth. It may look too soupy, but you'll be sorry if you don't. Also, don't cook it if you're freezing.

See how this looks soupy?

Chicken Enchiladas
12 flour tortillas
1 chicken - cooked, deboned and chopped
1 cup chopped olives
2 Jalapeno peppers, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
16 oz. sour cream
1 cup grated cheddar
1 can green chilies (optional)

2 cups chicken stock (from boiling chicken)
1 can cream of mushroom
1 can cream of chicken
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar

For sauce, mix all ingredients until creamy then add salt and pepper (you may use all cream of mushroom if you want). Grease a Pyrex and spoon some of the sauce on the bottom to prevent sticking. Mix all enchilada ingredients except tortillas; salt and pepper to taste. Place a large spoonful of the mixture on each tortilla and roll tightly. Place seam-side down in Pyrex. Sprinkle with cheese and bake uncovered for 45 minutes at 350 degrees (or until bubbly).


Some of you have also asked for the Weight Watchers-friendly stuffed manicotti recipe I posted on Instagram. Side note: I did not freeze this.

Stuffed Manicotti
10-14 pasta shells or manicotti
4 oz. chopped chicken (cooked)
1 container part-skim ricotta
2 egg whites, gently beaten
1 package frozen spinach, thawed & drained
3/4 cup Mozzarella, divided
1/3 cup Parmesan
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
salt & pepper
1 1/2 cups pasta sauce of your choice

Preheat oven to 350. Cook shells/manicotti according to directions on box. Do NOT overcook. They'll start to split & you won't be able to stuff. Rinse with cold water and set aside on paper towels to drain.

Spray a 9x13 Pyrex with cooking spray and spread about 1/2 cup of sauce to coat. For filling, stir together egg whites, ricotta, chicken, spinach and spices. Stir in parmesan and 1/4 cup mozzarella. Fill each shell/manicotti with mixture and place in the baking dish. Spread remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with remaining mozarella. Salt and pepper to taste and back for 30 minutes.

**You can really add whatever filling you like. If you don't like spinach, add something else. You could even make it a meat manicotti. This is the second time I've made this, and Chad really likes it. He has no idea it's not bad for you!

I really hope to make a few more meals for the freezer. Up next: chicken pot pie, homemade spaghetti sauce with meatballs, ranch stew, vegetable soup and chicken & dumplings. If anybody wants to have a freezer day with me, holler!

Monday, July 16, 2012

July 4th and the Beach

Despite being overstuffed from mine and Will's week-long birthday bash, we had a 4th of July cookout at my Mom's house. MaryCollis played in the pool while we enjoyed rocking on the porch.

Then she decided it was time to go see the goats and "horsey" (donkey).

Then it was time to play hair dresser.

I have been really bad at taking good photos lately. I only ever have photos of MC. But judging by all my other mommy friends, I think that's normal.

After the 4th, we headed to the beach for Mom's annual yearbook clinic. We ended up staying in Perdido Key, even though the clinic is in Orange Beach. All of our friends with condos have them in Perdido, so we're familiar with the area but we haven't stayed anywhere but Orange Beach in years. We stayed in the penthouse, and it was extremely nice. None of that lime green/sea horse junk. 

Enjoying her first Coach bag, courtesy of Chad's credit card. :)

Snuggled up watching Caillou in the big "gankit."

First time on the beach.

Beach baby.

Sweet pea.

Walking around Cobalt.

Listening to the band.

Shrimp Basket.

Mmmm. Ketchup.

It was a good trip, but I've come to the determination that I won't be traveling without Chad again. Even with lots of help, it was rough. Because after all, when MC wants to run around the pool 67 times or run until she finds a plane, nobody else feels obligated to chase her except a parent. Either Chad comes with or I bring a nanny who doesn't care if she gets to sunbathe.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Me Burfdays

Tuesday was my 27th birthday, and I've been celebrating for over a week now. I feel fat, happy and loved. Chaz was out of town Monday, so MaryCollis and I spent the night at Mom and Dad's (and Barbara's). Barb made me rice cooked in homemade chicken broth and baked chicken strips... cause that's what I wanted. Then we piled into bed, and she let me watch "The Notebook" for the umpteenth time... cause that's what I wanted.

Tuesday morning I took MC to Khaki's, then I headed home to fold laundry and do dishes. But I didn't want to so I spent the morning watching "Will & Grace," then I finally found it in myself to take a shower and shave my legs. When I got out, "As Good As It Gets" was on. So I got back into bed and watched it in its entirety. Don't judge me. It was my birthday.

See the laundry basket? Also, ignore those wires.

I ended up folding the laundry and unloading the dishwasher, but not before I flipped back and forth between "Center Stage" and "So I Married an Axe Murderer" for two hours. :)

That night, my girlfriends took me to dinner and a movie in Hattiesburg. It started out pretty rough... I accidentally set the alarm for "away" instead of "stay," forgetting that Gerty would be there. So as we pulled into Hattiesburg, ADT called to inform me that the cops were on their way. Ugh. I turned around and started the drive back to Laurel when it occurred to me that the whole thing was ridiculous. I called them back and asked if they could disarm my system via satellite. No. (Side note: We might be switching to Interface after this incident. WHY can't they disarm your system if you give them the password?!). So I asked what they could do. They said they could delay the system for as long as I wanted, which basically means it might keep going off if Gerty keeps moving but ADT would not call to inform me, and the police would not be called. Phew.

Ashley, Robyn, me, Janie and Shanny

Though I couldn't quite get the alarm fiasco out of my mind, I looked forward to a good time with my friends. We thought we'd be smart and whip by the theater before dinner to get our tickets. No such luck. It was already sold out at 5:30. BUMMER! There was nothing else on I wanted to see, so we headed to dinner sans tickets. We had a fabulous meal at Tabella, which none of us had ever been to. We had calamari for the appetizer, big salads with herbed breadsticks, then our respective pasta dishes. We ended it with dessert. I had the most amazing lemon cheesecake topped with blueberry drizzle (on the house!). Since we weren't in a rush, we lingered over dinner and enjoyed the company.

We got back to Laurel, and the fireworks were starting. You could see them perfectly from our front yard. Who wants to go sit at the crowded mall when we can set up blankets right there on the lawn? We all decided that it simply was not fair that we didn't get to see a movie that night, so we agreed we would go back Thursday (today). I love an excuse for more girl time.

Tonight, we headed back to Hattiesburg for our second girls night in a week. We stopped PetSmart for a bark collar for Gerty and Target for, well, everything. We opted to gorge ourselves on popcorn and candy at the theater instead of going to dinner, and it was perfect. Which is more than I can say for the movie we saw. If you've been tempted to see "Magic Mike," resist the urge. It was not good. And if it's possible, I'm pretty sure I hate Matthew McConaughey even more now. I think it's about time he, Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Kevin Costner just all retired.

Though birthdays are not all about the gifts, I have to say that this year's gifts were the best I've ever received. Chad got me this Kindle cover (though it hasn't come in yet), some polarized Meteor Ray-Bans, these antique silver cheese knives I've been dying for, a crossbody bag I've been needing for New Orleans getaways, this Michael Kors rose gold watch, some new tennies and these monogrammed coasters. Janie gave me these Kate Spade studs that I am now obsessed with, Shanny gave me a chunky and funky necklace, Ashley gave me a big tote that will be perfect for overnight stays at Mom's and beach trips, Barb gave me money (always good), and my parents gave me the never-ending gift of having my childhood furniture refinished and moved to my house.

Coach crossbody bag.

MK watch.

New tennies!

Kate Spade studs.

Polarized Meteor Ray-Bans.

Thanks for the grand birthday, friends.

Monday, July 2, 2012

22-Month Update

MaryCollis is 22 months old today! In some ways, it seems like she ought to be 5 by now. But in others, I simply can't believe she's about to be 2. She's so much fun, and she's a very sweet and loving child. Always ready to give hugs and kisses. She's very independent, but she'll snuggle sometimes too. And she is SILLY. She is constantly sticking out her tongue or making some funny face. She's too much.

She LOVES to be outside... especially at my parents' house. You have to drag the child in to get her away from the goats and garden. It doesn't matter if she's in her Sunday best... she hauls you-know-what to the barn as fast as she can.

Gamma and Doc won't start the house renovation until December, so they don't have their lap pool yet (and we WILL get a lap pool, Doc!). MC had to settle for the redneck pool and a water hose last week. Didn't matter to her. She loved it.

Watching the goats.

Hello, goat.

In addition to all the other words she's saying, she is now saying the following:

93) Crayon (con)
94) Blanket (get get)
95) Sorry
96) I'm gonna get you (Gun get ew!)
97) Pool
98) Cool
99) Gone gone
100) Fall down
101) Diaper (ba ba - I have no idea)
102) Awww sweet
103) Raisins (ray)
104) Hot dog
105) Blueberries (BBs)
106) Sit
107) Fishy
108) See you tomorrow
109) Let's go!
110) Ming Ming (from the Wonder Pets)
110) Tuck (from the Wonder Pets)
111) Tub
112) Horsey
113) Potato (tato)
114) Self
115) See you soon (soooon!!)
116) Cereal (sih)
117) Help
118) Truck
119) That's me! (Like at the end of the "Caillou" theme song)
120) Donut
121) Glasses (gas)
122) Mickey (Gimme)
123) Window
124) Hands
125) See ya. Wouldn't wanna be ya. (Of course it's mumbled, but it's cute).
126) Pants
127) Clothes
128) Hands
129) Pirates (pots)
130) Plate
131) Guys (as in... "Hey, guys!")
132) Tada!!
133) Will (Uncle Will)
134) Purse
135) Penguin (pin)

Cuddling with Gamma.

Gamma and Ily B got her a cow that grows hair. She loves combing the hair with her fingers.

Got 10 stackable cups in her Wendy's kids meal last week. Best toy ever.

Ice cream at the Farmers Market.

Hiding at the doctor's office.


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