Category Archives: recipes

Weekend – festival, ukulele, church, Fall drive

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Saturday was a disjointed day. Grace went with the youth group to the Summerset festival and spent all day there. The rest of us went to lunch together, then Hannah and I headed out to the Aurora history museum for a free ukulele lesson while James walked and Bethany wrote. When we got back home we didn’t have long to wait until Grace was ready to be picked up. We did a pizza night and made our own pizzas and watched back to back Father Brown’s.

Sunday Grace went to her friend’s church, Hannah went to her class and I went to church. We started a new series called ‘Hello my name is’ talking about who we are in Christ as opposed to who we say we are on a daily basis. This came out better as a poem (of course.)

My Name

My name is despair,

I am hurt

but in Christ I am healed.

I am weak

But my name is strength.

I feel worthless

But Jesus calls me priceless.

My name is lost

lonely,

weary,

tired,

and forsaken

but He gives me a new name,

saves me,

befriends me,

gives me rest,

refreshes me

and cherishes me

I am heartbroken,

But God mends me from the inside out.

My

name

is

Loved.

 

-Liese

The girls wanted to stay home instead of going on a Fall drive, so James and I headed to Old Colorado City to fuel up on French onion soup at La Baguette before continuing on our drive from 24 to 285.

It was sunny, then cloudy, then sunny again. As we were driving we could see the storm on the other side passing by. We were far enough back that we never encountered it.

The aspen as changing color and we found lots of nice picture spots.

I made vegetable soup for dinner and after some TV we all went to bed early.

The week – fish hatchery tour, Hyperspace arcade, talk like a pirate day, park day, cell cookies, trying to burn wood using Archimedes heat ray parabola, Creativity club, youth group, Hudson co-op, NIA, ukulele lesson, school.

Dinners – teriyaki chicken with snap peas and pad thai noodles, spaghetti and meatballs, tamale pie, lemon basil chicken with summer squash, pesto stuffed pork chops with asparagus, chili with green chile cornbread.

Tamale pie

cooking spray
2 pounds ground beef
2 cups diced poblano peppers
1 teaspoon salt
1 (16 ounce) jar salsa
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground dried chipotle pepper
(If you want it to be even better ditch the boxed cornbread and make mine from scratch – recipe below.)
2 (8.5 ounce) boxes dry corn muffin mix (such as Jiffy®)
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk, divided
4 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
4 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
8 ounces frozen corn, thawed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Spray a 9×13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
Cook and stir ground beef in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until meat starts to brown and release juices, about 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and stir in poblano peppers, salt, salsa, oregano, and chipotle powder; cook and stir until seasoned beef is crumbly and no longer pink, about 10 minutes.
Mix one package of corn muffin mix in a large bowl with 1 egg and 1/3 cup of milk. Whisk to combine. In a separate large bowl, mix the second package of corn muffin mix with 1 egg, 1/3 cup of milk and half the Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.
Spread the prepared corn muffin mixture without cheese into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle corn over the muffin mix, followed by remaining half of the cheeses, then the beef mixture.
Spoon the corn muffin mix with cheese on top of the beef and carefully spread over the top with a fork, leaving about half an inch from the edges of the pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, until golden brown.

Johnny cake cornbread (you can use this in place of the boxed stuff – obviously don’t bake it as directed, use it as the above recipe calls for.)

1/2 C sugar
1/2 C oil
1 egg
1 C Sour milk (add a few drops of vinegar to the milk to sour it, or don’t; it really doesn’t matter)
1 t soda
1/2 t salt
1 C + 2 T flour
1 C yellow cornmeal
1 t baking powder

Cream sugar, oil and egg. Dissolve soda in milk. Combine dry ingredients and add to creamed mix with milk. Stir until just mixed. Pour into an 8X8 pan (I use an iron skillet) and bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes on until it tests done (knife in the middle comes out clean.)

Pesto Stuffed Pork Chops

3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons chilled basil pesto
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
4 bone-in pork loin chops, 1 1/4-inch thick
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Mix feta cheese, basil pesto, and pine nuts in a bowl. Use the tip of a sharp boning or paring knife to cut a 3-inch slit in the side of each pork chop, 2 inches deep and 1/4-inch away from the bone, to make a pocket for stuffing. Stuff pork chops with pesto filling and secure with toothpicks.
Mix black pepper, oregano, garlic, red pepper flakes, and thyme in a small bowl; rub both sides of each chop with the spice mix. Place chops into a shallow baking dish.
Bake in the preheated oven until chops are browned and stuffing is hot, about 40 minutes. An instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the center of the stuffing should read 145 degrees F. Brush chops with balsamic vinegar and bake until vinegar forms a glaze, another 5 minutes.

 

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Weekend – Park hill tour, NBTS 15th anniversary party, 25th church anniversary

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Friday we got home about 2pm, started laundry, then Grace and I went to see her friend who was in the hospital. Hospitals suck, so Grace wanted to go and hang out – I think she wanted the adults to leave the room (but we didn’t.) James made spaghetti for dinner, we watched some TV and went to bed.

Saturday James and I went to the library for a walking tour. The girls did not want to go walking, so they stayed home and hung out with friends. When we got to the library I had three different librarians (from three different Denver libraries) recognize me and they asked where the girls were. Yes, we go to a lot of library events. Our walking tour started at the Pauline Robinson library, she was Denver’s first black librarian, brought books from black authors into the library and was responsible for integrating Lakeside (amusement park.) Walking in this area you can see that it is starting to come back.

There was a strip mall fire that pretty much brought down the neighborhood that was already in decline (a food desert area.) So, when funds starting coming in from the city to add buildings and services, the community was asked what do you want? There is a new rec center, a boys and girls club, a new elementary school and a mental/physical health building that offers garden space (and farmers market), hydroponics (plants and fish), mental and physical health facilities, a pre-school and an alternative school for troubled kids.

I walked with a coordinator of the facility and told her that our HS group wanted to: tour the facility and host a Preschool Valentine party. I’m excited for both of those things. We continued up the street, walking in the road for the most part since this area was designed during the 40’s-50’s when Hollywood curbs were in and pedestrians were out.

This intersection in Park Hill was across from a park (which had a gazebo ordered from a Sears catalog, paid for and put together by local Girl scouts.)

The area had no access to grocery stores, markets, clothing stores, you name it. So a market district was introduced, some people thought this would be the end of Park Hill (1920’s), but obviously it was not. There is a book store co-op that was started by local Moms back in the 70’s at the end of the block that is still going strong. Here and there on the street and in alleys are guerilla art and gardens. Bringing a little plant life and a little quirkiness to the area.

There were also lots of ‘Little Libraries’ in the area, some were registered, some were not!

Hickenlooper lives around here, we saw his house, but I didn’t take a picture. We passed some old churches and one church that now houses two different congregations.

We finally made it to the Park Hill library and sat down for a bit, drank water and had snacks and listened to the story of the library. There were 9 Carnegie libraries in Denver (Byers, Decker, Park Hill, Woodbury, Smiley – still standing) and (Denver central – now the McNichols building, Warren- now lofts, Dickinson -now houses an architecture firm and Elyria – now a private residence.) Park Hill doesn’t look like a traditional Carnegie library, but it’s there under that awful stucco.

We passed by some of the Boulevards put in by Mayor Speer during the city beautiful movement. Some of the money that was used was questionable, but hey, we see wide lanes, lots of trees and green spaces, so now we don’t care. We continued our walk through the neighborhood and noticed missing streets. Our next fact was a math one, the streets were laid out in an oblong rectangle twice as wide as it is long. Some streets are numbered but have names (Montview), some streets are 23rd on one side and 24th on the other and some just disappear completely. Also the golf course at City park was once a field full of cows, there was a lot of dairy making going on in the area when it started. We got back to the Pauline Robinson library and thanked our guides and headed back home. We weren’t home long before it was time to go to the park for our HS groups NBTS party and 15th anniversary party.

We had food and more food, cakes and doughnuts, games, coloring, tattoos, a photo booth and glow sticks.

We met two new families and had fun catching up with everyone.

Trying to get all the kids in the picture was hard….

I had to save the table art in photos.

Sunday we went to church and Hannah got to try out the new middle school room she’s in, she liked it. We went back for a lunch at the church celebrating 25 years, 15 of those in this building and the previous years in an elementary school in the area. This church started out as Highlands Ranch Christian church, then a bit later became Mountainview Community Christian church. It was the first church in Highlands Ranch that was a new church, not a plant from another part of Denver or an arm of a church located elsewhere, just the first (non-catholic) church to build in the area. We’ve had some ups and downs as a church, a major pastor shift happened some years ago and some of the church split over that, but some of us stayed and continue to get fed (sometimes literally fed) and volunteer here.

We pretty much lazed away the rest of the day, making only one outing after dinner….

The week – school, worship dance, St. John’s music at noon, Kindness Krewe, park day, NIA, youth group, CRUSH fest, HS skate, TNO, youth fest outing, ukulele class….feels like I’m missing something….

Dinners – crockpot chicken enchilada casserole, Asian lettuce wraps, pan fried tilapia with tomatoes and feta, sesame beef with fried rice, chicken creole pasta.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

16 Boston Bibb or butter lettuce leaves 
1 pound lean ground beef
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons minced pickled ginger
1 dash Asian chile pepper sauce, or to taste (optional)
1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons Asian (dark) sesame oil

Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not tear them. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir beef and cooking oil in the hot skillet until browned and crumbly, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and discard grease; transfer beef to a bowl. Cook and stir onion in the same skillet used for beef until slightly tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir hoisin sauce, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, and chile pepper sauce into onions. Add water chestnuts, green onions, sesame oil, and cooked beef; cook and stir until the onions just begin to wilt, about 2 minutes.
Arrange lettuce leaves around the outer edge of a large serving platter and pile meat mixture in the center.

Sesame Beef

1 pound round steak
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons white sugar
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Mix soy sauce, sugar, oil, garlic, and onions in a large bowl. Set aside.
Cut steak into strips and add to bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or at least 30 minutes.
Cook in wok or frying pan until brown, about 5 minutes. Add sesame seeds and cook for additional 2 minutes.

 

Weekend

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Saturday Bethany came home, took the girls to Chipotle for lunch, then they all walked to Target. James and I went to Castlewood canyon to hike to the dam. We started at the observation deck, then went to the Lake gulch trailhead.

It was pretty smoky from the Montana fires, not that you can tell in the pictures.

We crossed the creek and saw the dam – or what’s left of it. The dam was built in 1890 and lasted until 1933 when it broke and flooded Denver (Denver’s second worst flood.)

We went down to the creek bottom trail to get a better look.

We had to go up on the way back (since it was downhill all the way), but it wasn’t too bad. We went to Saltgrass for lunch and had some Royal crown and coke slushies that were very good. Back at home we rested and watched Ace in the Hole. I forget where I read about this movie, probably one of the books I’m reading, but it was a good movie about media, ethics and how human interest stories are made.

Image result for ace in the hole movie

Cat logic.

After dinner we took the girls to LM’s for Swinging Saturday. There was a nice sunset on the way.

We had 3 pumpkin chai ice creams and 1 oreo.

FB live video of the music and dancing here. 

Sunday we went to church (Daniel in the Lion’s den), had lunch at home and then took James to the chutes. He tubed for a bit, then spent the next 2 hours jumping in with us. The water was at 121 CFS and 57 degrees, but it was 92 out, so it felt great. Hannah was posing.

After we got home and cleaned up we Facetimed with Joel and had BBQ ribs for dinner. Joel played some music for us on his guitar and violin, talked about an upcoming PT test, drills and showed us his room (he redecorated.) One cool thing he did was he covered a whole wall in Army sheet music. After we hung up with him we watched a Blake and Father Brown, the girls had a friend come over and she stayed late (since she didn’t have school on Monday.)

The week – school, picnic, hike, Louise Penny at LT (just me), NIA, Penn and Teller, Blue man group, Park Hill walking tour, Homeschool group’s 15th anniversary party, church and our church’s 25th anniversary picnic.

Dinners this week – grill night, garlic lime chicken, pulled pork BBQ, Vegas, Vegas, breakfast for dinner, 15th anniversary party cookout, 25th church anniversary picnic.

Spicy Garlic Lime Chicken

3/4 teaspoon salt 
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons lime juice

In a small bowl, mix together salt, black pepper, cayenne, paprika, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, onion powder, thyme and parsley. Sprinkle spice mixture generously on both sides of chicken breasts.
Heat butter and olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute chicken until golden brown, about 6 minutes on each side. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons garlic powder and lime juice. Cook 5 minutes more, stirring frequently to coat evenly with sauce.

Corn Roast

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We drove up to Loveland for the corn roast fest, it was hot!

That corn was really good though….

Festival food….

We stopped for cheese on the way home.

I made stroganoff for dinner and we watched a show, that was about it.

Dinners coming up this week (starting on Monday) – pork chop suey, tacos, chicken tikka and naan, brown butter tilapia, pizza, grilling stuff.

Pork Chop Suey

1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth 
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons molasses, preferably blackstrap
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
5 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 (16 ounce) pork tenderloin, trimmed, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch-thick pieces
1 medium onion, slivered
1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
3 cups mung bean sprouts
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

Combine broth, soy sauce, molasses and pepper in a medium bowl. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the mixture to a small bowl; stir in cornstarch until combined. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add pork and cook, stirring frequently, until most of the pink is gone, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Increase heat to medium-high. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, onion, bell pepper, sprouts and ginger and cook for 3 minutes. Pour in the broth mixture and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; add the reserved cornstarch mixture and pork (and any accumulated juice) and cook, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Serve over noodles.

The week – park day, tubing in chutes, water sampling, chamber music, secret hiking spot, jazz at Phil’s, doodle bots at library, NIA, youth group, pond swimming, jazz at la Fromage, co-op registration, school, don’t know what for the weekend…..yet.

Weekend

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We had a great weekend. It was full of some family time – going to eat lunch in Lowry at North County and having LM ice cream at Rocket Ice Cream. We had brunch items at NC and we’ll be going back for their drinks and to try the tacos. The skillet was great, the churros were amazing, Bethany said her quinoa bowl was the best ever and Grace had stuffed French toast and since there was none left – it was also good. They have a cute space, nice patio and coastal CA/Mex Baja food.

What can I say about Rocket Ice Cream….it’s got jets that spurt out a water mist that makes it look like the rocket is taking off, also their ice cream is all LM, so it’s good.

Then we spent some time at home, reading and watching TV. Before dinner we went over to 7-11 for BYOC Slurpee day. I got a 1/2 gallon of cherry on top and mango chile on the bottom.

After dinner James and I went to the park to hear the jazz band Swing Shift. I ended up dumping the last of the Slurpee into a glass and adding Deep Eddy vodka – not bad!

Sunday I went to church, I thought we had to work, but that’s next weekend. James mowed and I read, then we asked the girls if they wanted to go on a drive with us. Nope. So James and I headed to Old Colorado City and had lunch at an Irish pub called Alchemy. There was a car show going on up and down the street, so after Irish onion soup, beer and cheese soup and undone pretzels we headed out to look.

We went over to Garden of the gods for a hike.

We went by the store on the way home, got burgers and brats to grill and watched The Hunt for Red October during dinner.

The week – co-op postings start, eclipse part at the library, park day, swimming in the chutes, water sampling, NIA, spa day, hikety-hike, corn roast fest, church and working in the 4’s rooms at church….I feel like I’m forgetting something – oh yeah, and we ‘start school’ this week.

Dinners – (starting M) – beans and sausage with foccacia bread (we didn’t have it last week), chicken maffe, beef tip stroganoff, chicken and sausage gumbo, herbed butter salmon.

Focaccia bread

1 tablespoon honey
2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
5 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Dissolve honey in the warm water in a large bowl, then sprinkle yeast over the top. Let stand for 5 minutes until the yeast softens and begins to foam. Stir in 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 tablespoon olive oil, onions, and 5 cups of flour until the dough comes together. Knead on a well floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 415 degrees F.

Place dough onto oiled baking sheet, and flatten to cover the whole sheet evenly. Use the tips of your fingers to make indentations all over the dough spaced about 1 inch apart. Drizzle the focaccia with 3 tablespoons olive oil, then sprinkle rosemary, Parmesan cheese, and remaining 1 tablespoon of kosher salt over the top. Let rise for 10 minutes
Bake in preheated oven 20 minutes until golden brown.

 

Chicken Maffe

4 lb chicken pieces, such as thighs, legs or breasts
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Spice Rub:
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp chopped garlic
1 1/2 tsp minced shallot
1 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper, or to taste

Peanut Sauce:
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp finely diced and seeded jalapeño pepper
4 cups chicken broth or stock
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (I’m using almond butter)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tomato, seeded and diced
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp peeled, grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup coconut milk (I’m using almond milk)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped cilantro for garnish

Stir together the ‘Spice Rub’ ingredients and rub onto the chicken pieces. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high. Add the chicken in batches and brown on all sides, then transfer to a platter or bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of oil, onion, bell peppers, carrot, garlic and jalapeno to the pan, then cook about 5 minutes until the vegetables are soft.

Add the chicken broth and simmer about 20 minutes uncovered. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and stir in the remaining sauce ingredients, and simmer for two minutes. Return the browned chicken to the skillet and cook 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is tender and the sauce thickens. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve over rice.

You can also brown the chicken and dump everything into the crockpot for 4-6 hours.

 

The week and dinners

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The week – church, dentist, Sweet Cooie’s art camp, SAME cafe’, park day, NIA, MOA, Cafe’ 180, Broadway shops, pick up fused glass, $1 movies, Boondock’s, youth group, Creativity club, a friend’s b-day party, for the weekend maybe a trip to the Longmont museum and something else in that area.

Dinners – roasted turkey, fish tacos, mulligan beef stew with peasant bread, chicken and pasta with stuffed mushrooms, sausage gumbo with johnny cake, lemon thyme chicken with root veggies.

Mulligan beef stew

4 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for the pan
3 lb. beef stew meat (such as chuck), trimmed and cut into 2″ pieces
kosher salt
2 onions, chopped
4 medium carrots (about 12 oz.), sliced 1/4″ thick
2 poblano chiles, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 1″ piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 bay leaf (optional)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
2 c. dry red wine
1 1/2 tsp. adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo)
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 c. coffee
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. honey
Chopped parsley and rolls or bread, for serving

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the beef dry with paper towels, season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, then cook in batches until browned all over, adding more oil to the pan if necessary.
Wipe out the pan and heat remaining 2 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the carrots, poblanos, garlic, ginger, bay leaf, cumin, and coriander and cook, stirring once or twice, until very fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Transfer the vegetable mixture to a 6-quart slow cooker. Add 1 cup wine to the empty pan and scrape all the browned bits off the bottom; transfer to the slow cooker.
Add the adobo sauce and remaining wine to the slow cooker. Stir in the tomatoes, chicken broth, coffee, Worcestershire sauce, and fish sauce. Nestle the beef in the sauce and cook on high until the liquids are steaming and the dish is fragrant, about 45 minutes.
Stir in the soy sauce and honey and cook on low until the beef is tender, 5 to 6 hours. Discard the bay leaf and season with additional salt if necessary. Spoon into bowls, sprinkle with parsley, and serve with rolls, if desired.

 

Fish tacos 

3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/2 small red onion (finely chopped)
1 jalapeño (thinly sliced)
1/4 small pineapple (cut into 1/4″ pieces)
4 medium tomatillos (husks removed and halved)
1 1/4 lb. skinless white fish fillets (such as tilapia, cod or halibut)
3/4 c. fresh cilantro leaves
8 corn tortillas

Directions

In a bowl, combine lime juice, red onion, jalapeño, pineapple, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
Heat grill to medium-high, then grill tomatillos until charred and beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Season skinless white fish fillets with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and grill until lightly charred and opaque throughout, 2 to 4 minutes per side, depending on the fish.
Cut the tomatillos into 1/2-inch pieces and fold them into the pineapple mixture along with cilantro.
Fill charred corn tortillas with the fish and top with the salsa.

Sunday

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James mowed, we went grocery shopping, I made banana bread, we went to Koelbel-con, I read my book, we watched a Blake and ate barbacoa. I was a gypsy pirate for the con and as soon as I got there a little boy asked if he could take a pic with me. I was the first pirate he had seen that day, so I obliged and he was so happy – made my day.

Stuff this week – Sweet Cooie’s ice cream and art, plumber comes out (yay!), tinker boxes, working out co-op details, hike and swim, Lakeside night, kitten therapy and art walk, don’t know about the weekend yet.

Dinners this week (starting today)- Barbacoa, alfredo chicken squash, apricot pork chops, cornmeal fried fish, chicken taco soup, (art walk, diner out), grill night.

Summer Squash Chicken Alfredo

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 (8 ounce) package uncooked rigatoni pasta
6 slices bacon
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 small zucchini, sliced
2 small yellow squash, sliced
1 cup Alfredo sauce
1/4 cup milk
6 sun-dried tomatoes, softened and chopped
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking dish.
Place the chicken in the prepared baking dish, and coat with the garlic. Bake 25 minutes, or until chicken juices run clear. Cool and chop.
(You could also cook it in a pan on the stove.)
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place the rigatoni in the pot, cook 10 minutes, until al dente, and drain.
Place bacon in a skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble, and set aside.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and saute the zucchini and yellow squash until tender and lightly browned.
In a small bowl, mix the Alfredo sauce and milk. Serve chicken over the cooked pasta. Pour Alfredo sauce over the chicken. Top with zucchini and squash. Sprinkle with sun-dried tomatoes, bacon, Parmesan cheese.

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup

1 onion, chopped
1 (16 ounce) can chili beans
1 (15 ounce) can black beans
1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (12 fluid ounce) beer or chicken stock
2 (10 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning
3 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 (8 ounce) package shredded Cheddar cheese (optional) sour cream (optional)
crushed tortilla chips (optional)

Place the onion, chili beans, black beans, corn, tomato sauce, beer, and diced tomatoes in a slow cooker. Add taco seasoning, and stir to blend. Lay chicken breasts on top of the mixture, pressing down slightly until just covered by the other ingredients. Set slow cooker for low heat, cover, and cook for 5 hours.
Remove chicken breasts from the soup, and allow to cool long enough to be handled. Stir the shredded chicken back into the soup, and continue cooking for 2 hours. Serve topped with shredded Cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips, if desired.