October 14, 2012

Ordinary at Last

When R and I were in the beginning years of our marriage, sometimes in the fall we’d go to a local pumpkin festival. It was a very family-oriented event. We’d look around and see all the parents pushing strollers or standing in the pumpkin patch with toddlers and knew that we weren’t ready for that yet, but still, it was fun to go.

And then we decided we were ready for kids. And, well, you know how that went. So the pumpkin festival, with all those happy families, stopped being fun.

And so we stopped going.

Now, thanks to Miss A, we are one of those stroller-pushing couples. And as ridiculous as it sounds, I have been looking forward to the pumpkin festival this year almost as much as a kid looks forward to Christmas morning.

This week, R’s mom was on fall break (she works at a school), R’s dad took the week off, and R’s aunt and uncle, who hadn’t yet met Miss A in person, were in town. R and I took Friday off in hopes that it wouldn’t be quite so crowded, and all of us including my mom went to the pumpkin festival.

We had a wonderful time.

We sat Miss A among the pumpkins. She was not amused by this, so we didn’t get any photos of her smiling, despite our silly antics out there in the middle of the pumpkin patch, but the pictures are still cute. We watched the pig races and ate chili and cornbread for lunch. We bought a pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread, and a plain old-fashioned pumpkin. Miss A’s first pumpkin.

Mostly, we were an ordinary family that was enjoying the day. Looking at us, you wouldn’t know the hell we’d been through in order to have our moment in the middle of the patch.

Never have I loved ordinary more.

October 03, 2012

Super Simple Supper

Ok, this one has nothing to do with infertility. Or parenthood, for that matter. But I love it when I find recipes that are 1) fast, and 2) pretty much impossible for me to screw up. And this one is very freeze-able to boot, so I thought I'd share.

This first recipe is from Super Fast Slow Cooking, although I've renamed it so that I can tell more about it from the name.

Fiesta Chicken
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and trimmed of fat
1 can of sweet corn, drained
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
16 ounces of salsa
1 can of diced green chiles (optional, the recipe didn't originally call for it, but I added it. I used a 7 oz. can.)

Put the chicken breasts in a slow cooker, then pour the remaining ingredients on top of it. Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low for 8 to 10 hours. Shred the chicken. I found this easiest to do by scooping the breasts out and putting them in a large bowl, then using two large serving forks. (You can use dinner forks, but it takes longer and winds up being more finely shredded, which can turn into kind of a mushy consistency.) After the chicken is shredded, return it to the slow cooker and mix it up with the other ingredients that are in there. It's ready to serve.

It's very versatile - it can be used as taco meat or as a filling for burritos, enchiladas, or quesadillasa. It also works well as a topping for nachos.

We served that and the following recipe at our Labor Day gathering with R's family, and it was a big hit. We set out taco shells, tortillas, tortilla chips, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, shredded cheddar and jack cheeses, and nacho cheese sauce, and everyone made what they wanted. We're going to do it again for Cinco de Mayo.

With regard to the next recipe, there are a few restaurants we go to where I love the Mexican rice, but I had never found a recipe for homemade rice that tasted quite the same, until now. Actually, I didn't really find this recipe, I just gave the Rice a Roni a try and threw in two ingredients of my own.

Mexican Rice
1 box of Mexican Rice a Roni
1 can of diced green chiles (I use the smaller can for this, I think it's about 3.5 ounces)
4-5 green onions, chopped (that's about half a bunch at the store where we shop)

Follow the instructions on the Rice a Roni box. When you get to the point of covering the rice and letting it cook, toss in the green chiles and stir. About 2 minutes before the rice is done, add the chopped green onions and stir again.

This also freezes really well. It turns out so well that I usually make 3 boxes of Rice a Roni at a time so that we have lots of extra to freeze. (I usually use a 7-ounce can of chiles and a full bunch of green onions when I make that much of it.)

We usually portion out the meat and rice into 2-serving or 4-serving bags, and then just pull a couple bags out of the freezer when we need a quick meal.

Also, if you're not familiar with green chiles, don't be afraid of them. They're not spicy, they just add some nice flavor. I'm pretty much a mild salsa kind of gal, so I wouldn't be using them if they added a lot of heat.