Chicken Enchilada Pasta

This a fairly easy and very impressive meal. Anytime I’ve made it I’ve gotten a ton of compliments. So here’s what you need:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (cooked and shredded) or a rotisserie chicken
2 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves (minced)
1 medium onion (diced)
1 red bell pepper (diced)
1 diced green chili or a 4 oz can
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 (10 ounce) cans green chili enchilada sauce
2/3 cups red enchilada sauce or an 8 oz can
2 cups shredded Colby-jack cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 (16 ounce) package penne pasta
Toppings Suggestions-
avocado
green onions
tomatoes
sour cream
black olives

So the first thing I do is break down the rotisserie chicken. I put it in a bowl and put it aside.

Chop up your fresh ingredients.

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Next heat up the olive oil and sauté the onions for about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and bell pepper and sauté for a few more minutes.

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Next add in the chicken, salt, cumin, chili powder, and green chilies.

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Stir it all and add in the enchilada sauces. You can use 2/3 of a cup or just the small 8 oz can. It doesn’t make much of a difference and you won’t have a random 3 oz of sauce sitting in your fridge.

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Bring the sauce to a boil and then let it simmer for about 10 minutes. At that point add in the 2 cups of cheese and then the sour cream.

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Once it’s all incorporated its done. Usually when I add the sauces in I start the pasta. Everyone in my family likes different amounts of sauce on their pasta so I leave it separate but you can mix it together. We like avocado and pico on top but you can dress it anyway you want.

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If you don’t want to use chicken and have a vegetarian option you could easily add in vegetables at that point. Or roast some veggies and throw them in right before you add in the cheese and sour cream. That way they won’t get mushy. Let me know how your version turns out. I’m sure you’ll love this dish!!

3-2-1 cake!

I love cake but with just my husband and I to consume it, making a whole cake seems excessive. So I’ve got this great way to make a single serving of cake. It gives us the cake fix without a million calories looming before us!!

Here’s what you need:

1 box angel food cake mix
1 box any flavor cake mix
Coffee mug or bowl
Water

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In an airtight container mix the two boxes of mix together.

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Take 3 tablespoons of mix and 2 tablespoons of water in a coffee mug or bowl that you can microwave. Mix together-it will be a frothy consistency.

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Nuke it for 1 minute on high.

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You can add any toppings you want.

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You see where the 3-2-1 comes from? 3 tablespoons cake mix, 2 tablespoons water, 1 minute in the microwave!

I used chocolate but you can use any flavor you want. Just make sure that one box is angel food cake. It’s great to have the mix on hand because if you have someone stop over you can make them a quick impressive dessert!

I wish I had figured this out during my pregnancy. I always craved marble “birthday” cake and I could have just made it in one minute!!!

If you guys try a different flavor please tell me!! I want to try red velvet or lemon next.

Bon apetit!

Poops-a-daisy!

This morning something happened to me and it got my brain going. Let me first tell you about my morning so we can be on the same page:

I woke up and got ready as usual. My mother in law stays over on days I have to work so she was up giving my son his milk and keeping him company until I emerged from my room ready for work. While playing with my son I realize he’s pooped and needs to be changed so off we go. For those of you who are mothers of a mobile child, you know how much of a task it is to change a diaper. It’s that time period from when they begin to wiggle to right before they understand what the heck you’re saying that’s the hardest. So while my son is squirming I use my body to try to hold him still and boom…poop on my top. He does this new thing where he grabs his dirty diaper by the side flap and tries to pull it away. I’ve become proactive about this and grab that side of the diaper before he can get to it, but today he pulled a fast one on me and turned his body to squirm off the table. So long story short, I used my body to block him and got his butt right on the front of my top.

I immediately started thinking about which top in my closet would go with the rest of my outfit, since I was running low on time. Luckily I wear all black at the salon so replacing the top wasn’t a huge deal. And that’s when it hit me. At what point did I become so comfortable with feces on my shirt that I didn’t even think about that and just thought, OK I have to change my top, which one will it be?

Being a mother changes everything. It’s not the same changes for everyone, but change for certain. I find that I’m even more laid back than I already was. I was always accepting of things that happened in my life, but now it’s a whole new level. My son brings all sorts of adventures to my days and I’m proud to say I take it all in stride. Even during his tantrums and melt downs I find that my mind is a peaceful ocean and I’m just trying to figure out what his issue is and how to resolve it. Very seldom do I get frustrated, I’ve reached a level of understanding that allows everything to make complete sense to me.

I have my mother and my grandfather to thank for this. I can only remember calm reactions from them. . My mom is always understanding anytime anything happens. She would explain very thoroughly why something was happening. Not a drip of panic from her, ever. My grandfather was the same way. He was so accepting of people and their personalities. Even if someone was unreasonable and just awful, he would accept that part of them because he understood their story. He would tell me since I was a child, that people don’t change, and so if you can’t change something you must learn to accept it. These lessons have saved me so much heartache. I don’t take things so personally because I realize that people are different and in order to live peacefully I just have to let go and accept. Of course I’m human, and things hurt my feelings from time to time, but you’ll find no grudges in my heart. At the same time I am able to recognize when people are just toxic and need to be ignored. One of the most important lessons I learned from my family was forgiveness. Being surrounded by these calm personalities helped shape me into the person I am today. I hope to create that same environment for my son. (I should add in here that “calm” isn’t how most people would describe my family because we’re loud and outspoken, but I don’t mean it in that context. I mean the calmness that’s in their hearts.)

Nurturing a new life is hard work, and although your baby isn’t always going to be dependent, the challenges change and take new form. It’s important to keep a clear mind and analyze the situation and find your solution. Baby fell and scraped his knee, that’s fine, let’s go clean it up and get a cool band aid on it. Baby is teething and has turned into a monster, ok let’s cuddle and put this oragel on your gums. Got poop on your shirt, change it. Got pee in the mouth, don’t worry it’s sterile. What I mean is, there’s no use in worrying about what has already happened, just find your solution, there’s bound to be one!

New mothers and fathers, I was in your shoes just over a year ago. I’m familiar with the overwhelming feeling you get just before baby shows up. You know when you start to realize just what it is exactly that you got yourself into. Raising a human being, in charge of a life, teaching…the job duties go on and on. Take it easy and a day at a time. You don’t have to have it all figured out right away, just do your best in the moment.

Getting poop on my shirt and not batting an eye shows me my perspective has changed. 10 years ago I probably would have squealed “Ewwwwww!” and ran for my life. But you know, when you’re a mother, you get drooled on, cried on, peed on, pooped on, bled on, pretty much every bodily fluid will spend some time on you. That’s life. It’s the role I chose and I love every stinkin’ minute of it.

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Jewelry woes solved!

Hey everybody!

Have you guys been in this predicament before: you buy an awesome outfit and don’t have jewelry for it and you think…well…now what?!  Or perhaps you’re a wonderful boyfriend/husband that wants to gift some jewelry that matches something but you’re on a budget.  I have the solution.

When I lived in Texas I used to go to this store all the time and I’m so excited to find out that there’s actually a couple here in the Twin Cities.  Those of you who don’t live near one or can’t get to one I have your problem solved!

So what magical place am I talking about?!

Charmin Charlie of course!!

If you have never heard of this place, it’s like heaven for accessory lovers.  They have the store organized by color and you’ll find earrings, rings, necklaces, sets, scarves, bags, shoes….EVERYTHING.

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Visit their website at http://www.charmingcharlie.com

Here is a map of their locations:

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Something else I just found out is that they sell online now!  So if you have something coming up and you need to find the right jewelry for the occasion  head on over to their website and order your goodies!

Enjoy!

P.S. I have a good recipe coming up…

On the Way Down…

Sometimes you have to just take the leap and build your wings on the way down.

-Kobi Yamada

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I went to the bank with my boss the other day and this quote was engraved on a stone that was sitting on the banker’s desk. It reminded me of something my best friend said to me long ago. I think we were talking about my decision to do hair after already obtaining a bachelor’s degree and working in the medical field. Of course I earned better money in Nuclear Medicine, but I’d be happy doing hair. To me happiness is the mark of true success.

So we were talking about how I just didn’t think twice and signed up for school when I had the opportunity. A complete change in career. I have made these leaps of faith before. One year I decided to just move to New York to experience life from a new perspective. Another time I met a mysterious man with hazel eyes at the Minneapolis Airport, and quit my Masters program to marry him 6 months later. Yet another time, I decided, after hearing that the nursing programs were full with a 3 year wait list that perhaps we should just have a baby since there seemed to be a lull in my usually busy schedule. These leaps of faith have created what I like to call my very fortunate life. Each day I am so grateful for the amazing friends and family in my life. I am so lucky to be doing what I love at such a young age. The list goes on…

What hit me that day at the banker’s office was something I’d never quite appreciated before.

The willingness to take a leap of faith.

How many leaps have you taken? Do you have faith that things will always turn out in your favor? Do you believe the ever popular “Everything happens for a reason.”?

You see ever since I was a little girl I’ve heard that everything happens for a reason. And this “fact” created an acceptance in me. I accept everything that happens to me because I really believe that there is a reason for it.

My husband was laid off the day after we got back from our honeymoon and for newly weds this is hard! You’re trying to adjust to living together and on top of that your main source of income is no longer. I knew in my gut that there were bigger opportunities ahead of us and there was a reason for this. Sure enough, my husband landed a great job at a big company and not only that, we had so much time together and it strengthened our bond. He also ended up in a permanent position that got us insurance which allowed me to have a baby, quit a job I hated, and get into the career I love. Looking back it was one of the best things to happen for us. Not getting into a nursing program gave me the time to have a child, and getting pregnant right away proved to me that it was the right time for this miracle. And sure enough, it was the perfect time, and having my son was such a life changer. Jayesh and I had renewed focus on our goals and the bond that I thought was already so strong, became stronger.

Things aren’t always peachy, negative things happen, negative people happen, but if you believe in YOU, that’s all that matters. When you’re going through a negative phase in your life, turn your sadness into excitement. Something good is about to happen to you! There is a reason your relationship ended, you lost your job, your pet died, etc. There is good yet to come, just be patient, and search for the reason.

Be honest with yourself. This is so important. If you aren’t honest with yourself, it’s all for nothing. Being honest means coming to terms with a truth that might be unpleasant but necessary. Like stop talking to that jerk of a person in your life. What you tell yourself: They’re going to change and realize they truly love me. The truth of it: you’re lonely and you’re filling up the void by keeping this loser around. If you can just decipher your feelings and realize what’s really going on and what you need to do, you will lead a happier life.

Negative emotions and lying to yourself only hurt one person. YOU. So why do that to yourself? Be your own best friend and get yourself in gear!

So take a leap of faith. Just believe in your self and trust that no matter the outcome, the bigger plan is a good one. Build your wings on the way down and you’ll find that you’ll be soaring before you hit the bottom.

Lesson in Value

I want to tell you a story that is near and dear to my heart.  In it you might find a lesson, or perhaps some inspiration, or maybe you’ll just find it to be an interesting story to read.

In 2008, I went to India to scatter my grandfather’s ashes.  I was very close to my grandfather.  He raised me, he had always been there, and while taking that trip I thought my life could never be the same without him and his gentle way of giving advice.  What would I do without his advice?  What would I do without him?!

It was May when he passed, and we took this trip in December.  That September I met Jayesh and fell in love instantly.  By October we were happily engaged and planning a wedding.  So when December came along and I was getting ready to take this flight I had mixed feelings.  I had not gone a day without talking to Jayesh and this trip to the other side of the world was going to throw a wrench at that.  On the other hand, I was really excited to see my family and a bit apprehensive about scattering the ashes.  I knew it was going to be extremely difficult to let go even though I knew it was necessary.

The day of the flight to India, my dad managed to upgrade my ticket to first class.  I was flying alone and meeting my parents there.  My heart was heavy and taking that flight alone was difficult.  I had so many emotions just floating at the surface waiting to bubble over.  And it happened.  They served a really good shrimp appetizer and I thought, ‘Jayesh should really be here’.  I didn’t think twice I grabbed the phone from the seat and slid my credit card through and dialed Jayesh’s number.  I started crying explaining to him that I felt guilty being in first class for the first time in my life and not next to him.  I wanted to experience new things with him.  I told him about the champagne upon seating, the scented warm towels, the comfortable seats, the food, and how none of it was as good without him.  He reassured me that we would talk often and that we would see each other soon.

The first part of the trip involved scattering my grandfather’s ashes.  We didn’t hire a priest, just a simple thing with my uncle, aunts, mom, dad, and cousin.  We said a few things and then took handfuls of the ashes and threw them into the Holy River.  I dipped my hands into the cool water and watched the ash that was clinging to my hands float away.  I cried.  Like a child.  The feeling of loss was so overwhelming.  Even though it had been 7 months, it felt fresh.  I kept the ID tag they put on the ashes and gripped it tight in my hands.  I couldn’t let go.

I hadn’t been feeling well and I took a turn for the worse that day.  Perhaps my sad heart, drained of any positivity, was making it difficult to recover.  To add to this discomfort, we were scheduled to take a train ride to Agra, then Jaipur.  The train ended up being delayed for 14 hours.  That’s 14 LONG hours at a train station with a dirty bathroom.  My temperature was spiking and after the first few hours I started going crazy.  There was nothing to do and I was tired and hungry.  I decided to call Jayesh since the timing was right.  Of course it goes to voicemail.  So I sit and talk to my cousin, poor guy, I must have talked his head off.  We finally get on the train and take the long journey to Jaipur since the delay forced us to cancel Agra.  It was a day long journey in the train, we mostly slept and ran to the bathroom (my cousin and I were both sick!)  I was a bit disappointed we wouldn’t make it to Agra.  That’s where the Taj Mahal is and that’s the second time my trip was canceled.  There’s a saying in India, that you don’t go to see the Taj Mahal, the Taj Mahal invites you.  So only those fated to go, get to go.  I guess it wasn’t in my fate.  My mother says to me “Maybe you’re supposed to go with your husband.  Don’t worry, you’ll get to go soon.”  I call Jayesh 5 more times and each time it goes to voicemail.  I start to worry.

So now that the timing is all thrown off we get to Jaipur a bit early and so our car rental isn’t quite ready.  We spend another hour just lounging around.  A van takes us to the resort, and by this time I am so exhausted I can’t take it.  We walk around the resort, which is beautiful beyond words, but I can’t quite enjoy it because I just want to lay down and rest.  As we approach the lobby I imagine just collapsing into the bed and sleeping for the whole day.  I sit on a sofa and wait for my dad to get the check in sorted.  My mom leans over and says “Who is that movie star over there, he looks familiar.”  I look up to see some fat man standing there.  “Mom, it’s just some fat guy, I don’t know who that-” and then the fat man moved and behind his giant silhouette I see the most beautiful man I’ve ever laid eyes on.  Jayesh!  My brain short circuits and I just run to him and throw my arms around his neck.  I’m crying and delirious.  I couldn’t wrap my brain around him being there.  What was he doing there?  How did he get there?  How did he know we were here?  What is going on?  My head was spinning with questions.  I hear everyone around me cheering and clapping and I suddenly realize I’m in the middle of my family in the resort lobby….in INDIA.  I settle down and stand next to Jayesh in a state of shock.

Later, Jayesh explains to me that the trip had been planned by my father, him and my father in law.  To surprise me and turn the trip into something positive.  Everyone was thinking of me.  I felt so special in that moment and so important and loved.  I can’t describe it, it was overwhelming.  The following morning we took a car to Agra and saw the Taj Mahal.  Jayesh asked me to marry him once more, his final proposal, at the biggest symbol of love in the world.  It was romantic and the perfect start to our fairy tale.  For several days it just seemed like I was dreaming.  That moment, where I reacted based on impulse, being totally caught off guard, proved to me I was in real love.  He’s my soul mate, it’s why I felt so empty without him and why my heart overflowed when I saw him in Jaipur.  I will never forget that.

What I realized at the end of this trip was this; relationships are everlasting.  My grandfather took care of me, protected me, guided me, loved me, and was always there for me no matter what.  When he passed I thought I had lost all of that and it felt like a giant void just sucking my happiness out of me.  Then Jayesh came along and I learned that the relationship I had with my grandfather never ended, it just took a new form.  Jayesh loves me, protects me, guides me, and is there for me no matter what.  The only difference is that my grandfather was like a father figure and Jayesh is my partner.  Much like the Hindu belief of reincarnation, I believe that our relationships are reincarnated as well.  They only seem to end, but they continue on in a different form.  So instead of continuing to mourn, I celebrated the renewal of one of the most important relationships in my life.  I was meant to meet Jayesh when I did, he saved my life.  He breathed new air into me and I was transformed.  I’m not sure if he knows just what he’s done for me and how much I value him, our relationship, and everything we’ve built together.  The day we met was a turning point in my life.  I could spend the rest of my life thanking him, it wouldn’t be enough.

So I hope what you’ve taken from this story is a lesson in value, faith, and purpose.  Value because each relationship in our life has value and meaning.  There is a reason for it, a purpose.  Identify the purpose and you will find the value.  Faith, because you must have faith in yourself and others.  Faith allows us to put aside insecurity and distraction and really focus on what’s important.

I wish you love, happiness, and valuable relationships.

Time is Love.

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Isn’t he just a button?!

My life is HECTIC.  I only work a part time job, I only go to school part time, I only usually do weekend clients for makeup…sounds like it’s sort of easy right?  Here’s the reality of it: From 8:45 am till 9:30 pm I’m not home on Mon, Tue, and Thur.  On Wednesday I’m home until 5 pm but then I go to class until about 9 pm.  I have Friday off and sometimes I take clients on that day.  Every other Saturday I’m in class from 10-5.  So really I’m home Wed during the day and Fridays and every other Saturday.  I spend some of my time on the off days working on my business and marketing.  What I’m getting at is that I’m BUSY.  I have a small child and more often then not I’m feeling guilty about how little time I actually spend with him.  I have to remind myself it’ll only be like this until I’m done with school next year, but so much happens in that first few years of life.  I know what I’m doing is for the better of my family and I’m following my dream and after all that’s what I want to teach my child, to follow his heart, to be happy, to sacrifice a little to gain a lot, to work hard, and to earn that happiness.

I’m writing about quality time today.  How do we squeeze it in, and what’s the best way to spend quality time with your child?  Here is my thought.  This is my opinion and what works for me.

No matter how you choose to parent your child, whether you hover over their every action, or let them figure things out on their own, one thing is true.  Your children need to spend meaningful time with you. They need to see how you live your life and who you are. This will, in turn, help you to better see who you are.

So how do we find this magical time, and more importantly, how do we make it meaningful?  What I find is that filling up the schedule with activities is meaningful time, but it doesn’t have to be planned like that.  Movies, dinner, lunch, zoo, park, etc is a lot of fun and yes you are spending time with your child, but is it really necessary?  Those meaningful moments happen whether you have something planned or not.  It happens when you least expect it: in the car, during bath time, or even just when you’re sitting there looking out the window together.

What I’m trying to say is, readjust your thinking.

If you work full time like we do, you look forward to the weekends for that precious quality time.  Think about this: there are only 940 weekends from birth to starting college.  Sounds like a bunch at first, but at 5 years, 260 weekends are gone.  Just like that, gone forever.  So obviously doing fun things is great, kids always remember that fun trip to the zoo that one time.  What I really want is for my kid to look back and remember ME.  Not so much the stuff.  I want him to remember how much we’ve loved him, and how much we care about his interests and passions.  I want him to look back fondly and also to have gathered knowledge about his dad and me.  I want him to cherish our family unit and really grow to understand the minutiae of how we all work together so well.  So each time I’m with him I think forward.  I remind myself these moments are fleeting.  I think 20 years from now, the house will be neat and clean, laundry will always be done, it will be quiet and I will nap, life will slow.  So I cherish the chaos now.  I laugh with my son, I don’t worry so much about the little things, and I focus on teaching him the things he needs to be successful.  Even at just 13 months, he watches us and picks up everything.  I set an example for him.  I talk to him about things that are important to me, whether he understands me or not, one day he will, and it won’t seem so foreign because we’ve always had these talks.  We sing and dance together.  Because eventually this will turn into a lesson on being active and fit.  We eat healthy foods and go grocery shopping together, because one day I want him to just know how to pick out a good cantaloupe.  I show affection to my husband and my husband does the same, we do kind and thoughtful things for each other, because one day my son will have a relationship and we hope that he’ll just know from watching us, how to nurture a healthy one and how to express love without relying on the words.  We talk about how we feel all the time and right away because we don’t believe in bottling things in.  One day my son will have a need to express himself and, hopefully, thanks to us, he will know exactly how to talk about what’s going on with him.

So let us appreciate the nuances of childhood and make every moment count.  Kids aren’t perfect and there will be off days but let your kid be a kid and try to laugh off the small things.  Teach them not to sweat the small stuff.  And enjoy every little moment…I love to sneak in when my son is sound asleep and just tuck him in and look at his peaceful face.  That will certainly not be there forever.  Some folks think time is money, but I think time is love.  Each second should be filled to the brim with everything your heart can muster.