Saturday, February 27, 2016

Friday's Hunt (on Saturday)

I'm trying to get back into the blogging groove but I don't always have the right topic at hand, so today I'm doing Friday's Hunt, a day late.  Hopefully the hostess of Friday's Hunt won't mind!

The objective of Friday's Hunt is to find the 3 things on the list, and blog about them.  This week's list of 3 things was:
1. Starts with I
2. Week's Favorite
3. Something Blue

For number 1, I was a bit stumped, because I couldn't think of things starting with I that were interesting to talk about.  I did find the letter "I" though, and that was in the form of my spinning wheel bobbin, partially full of spun yarn.  Do you see the capital I?  The ends of the bobbin form the top and bottom bars, while the yarn being spun is along the long bar of the I.

Today, for the first time since I have lived in New Brunswick, I went to a spinning event!  It was great for me to get out and be with some other spinners.  I used to really enjoy my Iowa spinning guild, and the fun Friday nights we would have spinning and chatting about our lives.  I really miss that group tremendously, and also the enjoyment it brought to my life.  It has been really difficult for me to fit in to New Brunswick, and the city of Moncton in particular, although I often find it difficult to fit in, so it's not surprising.  

Four years ago, I went to a Maritime Spinners Retreat as a yarn and fibre vendor, and remarkably, somebody from that long-ago weekend remembered me, and added me to an invitation for an event today.  From 12:30 to 4:30, a group of local spinners, knitters, crocheters and rug hookers met for fun and fibre festivities.  I really enjoyed myself.  Even more remarkably, a few people at today's event remembered me from that weekend, four years ago, and even remembered my name.  I wish I had the ability to remember people's names like that!  Hopefully there will be more opportunities for me to participate in spinning days with this group, although this is the first time they've had this kind of get-together.

Today I spun some green Blue-faced Leicester fibre from my stash in the "Terrarium" colourway.  

I also spun the fawn-coloured fibre you see in the "Letter I" picture.  That is some lovely 100% llama roving from Eden Hills Farm.  Specifically, it's Llenny the Llama!  I was so excited to be spinning this fibre because Teresa sent it to me as a sample for an assessment, since it's the first time she ever had her llama's fibre processed, and she's not a spinner (yet), so she wanted someone to give her an opinion on it.   It is extremely soft and has a long staple length, since Llenny had not been sheared in quite some time.  The mill that processed the fibre did a great job on cleaning it and there is a little bit of hay in the fibre, but not much, which is what I would expect for a roving that hasn't been through any acid baths or other harsh commercial processes.  Those processes remove every speck of hay, but also take some of the 'life' out of the fibre.  The colour is very even and there are very few lumps or second cuts in the roving.  The fibre is even and consistent and spins up beautifully.  I expect that it won't be long before you can purchase some Llenny roving for yourself if Teresa decides to add it to her farm market offerings.  Here are a couple of close-up shots of the single ply I have spun so far.  I plan to ply it into a 2 or 3-ply yarn afterwards and do a test knit with it.  Thank you so much for sending me the sample, Teresa!

The second item on the list is Week's Favourite.  That was tricky for me because this was a busy week.  I spent Wednesday through Friday in Halifax visiting my parents while also accommodating work meetings.  I hadn't seen them since Christmas, so it was really great to visit and spend some time catching up.  I do wish I lived closer to them, because now it's a 3-hour drive, but it's still better than the 33-hour drive when I lived in Iowa.  However, I didn't take any pictures there, so I couldn't use that for my blog post.  When I returned home to Moncton though, I was surprised by a special gift that Marc had bought for me while I was away.  The newest flock member!
Although this little sheep doesn't have a name yet, he certainly brought a big smile to my face and made me especially happy to be home.  That was one of my favourite moments of the week.  

The last item on the list is "something blue."  Today, after a busy day of spinning, it was good to come home and relax for a little while with a glass of Pinot Grigio.  I had it in my favourite blue wine glass.  I bought these glasses many years ago at either Pier 1 Imports or Wicker Emporium - I can't remember which.  I love the deep blue colour of the glass and always enjoy using them, even when it's not for wine!
I put the glass next to our glass rooster, who also has some blue "feathers" on him.  He's a handsome guy and he doesn't steal any of my wine.  Today's wine is "20 Bees" Pinot Grigio, which is an Ontario wine made from 100% Ontario-grown grapes.  I like the little man riding on the back of the bee on the label.  And note, he's wearing blue pants.  

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Lemon Chicken Enchiladas (with modifications)

Oh dear.  I cannot believe it has been over a year since I last wrote a blog post.  I suppose that's a good indication that it has been a busy year, and indeed it has.  Sometimes I think about writing and I decide that I haven't got anything to write about.  Now, as I sit here typing, I am thinking of about 100 things I could probably write about, but haven't.  I'm not even sure why today seemed to be the day that I should write a post, but it is.

Perhaps one reason I thought I'd write a post is because I decided to try a recipe posted by a friend of mine from Iowa.  I try to keep up with her blog even though I don't have a lot of time for blog reading these days.  In part, that's because she always has cute goat pictures, and I can't resist a cute goat!  I wanted to show how well this recipe turned out, even though I took it for a walk that was a bit off the beaten path.  So, although I should probably write about a lot of other things, today I'm writing about supper.

Over on the Eden Hills blog, you can see the original recipe that I used as the basis for tonight's creation - Lemon Chicken Enchiladas.  I learned that the recipe made 5 large enchiladas, and I wanted to make either 6 or 8, depending on how many I could fit in the pan, so I thought I should add some extra ingredients to it.

The original recipe starts with sautéeing 1/2 a cup of onion and 1/2 a cup of peppers.  The peppers were crazy expensive in the grocery store (like everything here in Canada these days, due to the poor Canadian dollar value when it comes to US imports).  So, instead I sautéed 2 small sweet onions with about 1.5 cups of diced frozen butternut squash and about a cup of frozen chopped kale.  The amounts are approximate - use your own judgment based on how many you want to make, and what vegetables you prefer!

I then added about half a can of black beans, and about 2 cups of chopped cooked broccoli.  I'm always looking for ways to add more vegetables to our diet, so this seemed like a recipe that would allow for lots of modification.

I love the freezer bags of chopped kale - I can easily add some to casseroles, soups, stir-fry dishes, and other types of recipes without any trouble.  It also means I don't end up with sad, wilted looking fresh kale in my fridge because I forget it's there or I don't have time to wash, de-rib, and chop it all. Frozen veggies are a life saver some days!  I used the PC Blue Menu black beans (available in Canada) and the broccoli was from Costco - frozen in the microwave baggies.

After the veggie and bean mix was thoroughly heated, I added 1 tub of PC Blue Menu low fat ricotta (available in Canada).  Use whatever brand you have available.

The original recipe called for 2 sliced chicken breasts, but boneless chicken thighs were on sale this week, so I used those instead.  I sauteed them in a bit of EVOO and then chopped them into bite-sized pieces.  If you prefer, use a chicken substitute, or any other meat or protein source you enjoy!

When the chicken was cooked, I deglazed the pan with the soy sauce and lemon juice called for in the original recipe.  That recipe called for 3 tablespoons of each, but I used 6, for good measure!  It made a nice rich sauce.

I added the deglazing sauce and chopped chicken to the veggie mix, and then began the process of making the enchiladas.

Each one was made by scooping a couple of large spoonfuls of the mixture into a large size whole wheat tortilla (Casa Mendoza brand), and rolling it up.  I managed to get 6 of them into a 9 x 13" glass pan.  As you can see, I had quite a lot of the filling mixture left over.  I'll probably make some more later this week, or maybe do something else with the filling mixture.  For now, it's in the fridge. I covered the enchiladas with a jar of Classico Tomato and Basil pasta sauce.  The original recipe has a lovely separate recipe for the enchilada sauce, but I was a bit pressed for time, so using the Classico sauce helped me get these done quickly.  One could add any number of spices to the sauce, as recommended in the original recipe.  I tend to like things fairly mild, so I didn't add any chili or other hot spices to the mix.  It would have been easy to add some straight into the jar of sauce and shake it up before pouring onto the enchiladas.

After that, I covered the top with grated 3-cheddar blend.  At this point, I re-checked the original recipe and saw that I was supposed to bake them before adding the cheese.  Oops.  I put foil over the top before putting them in the oven so the cheese wouldn't burn.  I also sprinkled on some ground mixed Italian herbs before popping it in the oven.

It came out looking like this!

This dish baked for about 45 minutes at 375F, and then I took the dish out and let it stand for about 10 minutes before trying to extricate the enchiladas from the pan.  This worked relatively well, although it certainly helps if you have a long spatula or other utensil for sliding under the length of the tortilla before transferring it to the plate.

Both Marc and I really enjoyed them and it will make 3 meals for us, since we had plenty by having 1 enchilada each for supper.  There are 5 veggies in this recipe (kale, broccoli, squash, onion and tomato) as well as lots of protein from the chicken and black beans, not to mention the cheese, and we had our starch from the whole wheat tortilla, so I felt it was a well balanced meal.  I would definitely do this again and would vary the meat and veggies to suit what I have on hand.  I have to admit that the lemon flavour wasn't particularly noticeable, but that's probably because I used a wider range of ingredients than the original recipe, so it diluted the flavour of the lemon.  Give it a whirl!