Welcome to Ceci Says …

Hello! So glad you could stop by my blog. I hope you’ll stick around and read a bit. You’ll find that I do have a few things to say on a variety of topics. To find out more about what kinds of things you’ll find here, check out the About page (click the link in the pretty green bar at the top of the page).

Thanks again for stopping by, and I hope you’ll come back and visit again soon!

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Glorious Pork Roast and Gorgeous Roasted Veggies

Roast Pork & Veggies

 

Today – Thanksgiving eve – I’m all about preparing to roast the turkey. But I need to share a couple of other fabulous recipes with you, especially if you’re looking for a turkey alternative or an amazing side dish to add to your repertoire.

A good pork roast can warm up any dinner menu, and this one is as fabulous as it is easy. Pork roast can end up dry in the oven, but this one comes out tender and moist and full of flavor. I think the key is the luscious herb rub and starting on really high heat before lowering it for the bulk of the cooking.

The original recipe is easy, and it turns out great every time. This week, the pork loin roast was on sale, so I used this larger cut of meat rather than the tenderloin. (The tenderloin is the skinnier cut of meat that the recipe calls for.) Although most experts say you can’t cook these different cuts of meat the same, I’ve found that I can use this recipe successfully with both types of pork roast. I just adjust the cooking time a little if I have a smaller roast.

Since our garden has been doing well, I took a quick trip out to the backyard for some fresh herbs. Of course, a trip to the grocery store works equally well. Or you can use dried herbs. If you use dried, you just use less.

IMG_3735 IMG_3737 Thyme for the roast rub

 

Mix up the rub for the roast in a small bowl.

Herb rub for roast

This roast rub smells heavenly (ignore the ghost scissors that you can see through the glass bowl).

 

Then spoon it over your meat and rub it all over.

IMG_3740 Beautiful roast ready for the oven

 

I had a 3 pound roast and no roasting rack, so I reduced the cooking time a bit. Stick it in the oven at 475 degrees for 20 minutes. Then lower the temp to 425 and roast for 40-45 minutes more. When the internal temperature reaches 155-160 degrees, take the roast out of the oven. Then allow it to sit for 15-20 minutes before carving. After it rests, slice it and serve. The 3 pound roast served 4 of us with plenty of leftovers. The meat retains its flavor beautifully, so the leftovers taste great. They’re also fantastic on a sandwich. We made Cuban sandwiches with the leftovers, a little cheese and pickles. So delicious!

 

Roast Some Veggies to Complete the Meal

 

The meat is so flavorful, and a big platter of gorgeous roasted vegetables makes the perfect accompaniment. The Pioneer Woman (my foodie crush) offers this amazing recipe with creamy butternut squash, red onions and Brussels sprouts. She makes it as a beautiful side dish for her Thanksgiving feast, but it made a fabulous match for my pork roast. It really brightens up the table, so it would be perfect for a dinner party or special occasion or anytime. Did I mention that it’s absolutely delicious?

I had some butternuts that our son grew in the garden, so I used those, but you could just as easily use a package of precut squash from the store. I cut them up and threw them on a pan with the Brussels sprouts and onion. Then I did a little sprinkling and drizzling and stuck them in the oven with the pork roast for the last 20 minutes. They cook at the same temperature as the pork, so it works out perfectly.

Veggies ready to roast

Gorgeous butternut squash, red onion & Brussels sprouts ready to roast

 

When they come out of the oven, put them on a platter, drizzle with some balsamic glaze and pomegranate seeds and you have the prettiest dish ever. The glaze and the pomegranate truly do make these veggies magical, and they compliment the pork perfectly, too. The recipe was easy, even if it required some prep work, but the end result was worth it.

 

Gorgeous roasted veggies

Look how pretty these roasted veggies are!

 

 

Now, don’t you want to eat? Go. Make these. You’ll love them!

 

 

 

 

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Tattered and Torn in the Aftermath of the Election

tattered flag

How I feel … tattered to bits. (Photo by frankieleon on Flickr)

 

A tattered flag, blowing in the wind. After yesterday’s election, this photo seems symbolic of how many of us feel today. It feels raw and unreal, like someone knocked the wind out of me. I have an ache in my heart, a weight on my chest and a lump in my throat. And I am shaken to my core.

I know many of you feel the same, and I think we need each other right now to help process our feelings and make sense of the reality that has been thrust upon us. Our candidate didn’t win, but that doesn’t mean we’ve lost. I’m trying hard to believe that (although I don’t think I’m there yet).

 

Comforting Our Tattered Souls

 

Now, more than ever, we need each other. To share our devastation, to offer words of comfort and wisdom. To heal our freshly wounded spirits. So, yes, I’ve been reading Facebook posts and news articles. I briefly checked my Twitter feed to see what inspiration I can find there. I watched Hillary deliver her speech this morning, and while I remain inspired and hopeful, the sadness and disbelief consume me. These feelings will need to dissipate before I can turn my tattered psyche to meaningful action. But she reminds us,

This loss hurts. But please, please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It’s always worth it.

Whatever we do, we must remember the strength that comes with our diverse perspectives and bring them together to make a difference. After all, our nation was built on this notion, and it still holds true – we ARE stronger together.

 

Tattered images come together to reflect our beautiful diversity

Our diversity makes us strong. (Photo from the George A. Spiva Center for the Arts on Flickr)

 

Other Voices in the Storm

 

For me, beyond the heartbreak lies the fear. Fear of what this really means for our nation. Fear for our near and distant futures. Fear for the world our children will inherit and how this will impact their hopes and dreams.

I know those wiser than me will find a way to make sense of all this. And I stand ready to do my part to make sure our country remains a place to be proud of. I love what Amy Bruinsma says today on Her View from Home,

We have an opportunity to meet ignorance with understanding. We have an opportunity to bring light into this thick cloud of dark.

Fear will knock, its beckon louder and louder, don’t leave it on the other side of the door. Answer the knock with courage.

And she provides this quote:

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.’ Nelson Mandela

She offers a Canadian’s perspective on our election, and she beautifully describes why this impacts all of us – not just those of us in the United States. It’s more than an election; it’s about our very freedom and way of life.

Glennon Doyle Melton at Momastery reminds us that women have always been warriors, and whatever happens, we’ll continue to be warriors. She tells us,

We are not what just happened. But we might be what we do next.

The next right thing has and forevermore will be: Get back to work.

 

From Tattered to Tough, Shattered to Strong

 

The best we can do is spread a message of kindness, love & respect, especially to our kids – three infinitely difficult concepts in times like this. Unfortunately, the ugly campaign made the lack of these 3 traits normalized to an unprecedented degree. I still fear that the incivility that has characterized this campaign has become the new normal and that our divisions will only become more pronounced.

But we march on and do our best to raise a new generation. Hopefully one that will turn out to be more thoughtful and united than the current one. As an older people, we must think of our younger voters and children as we address the challenges that will inevitably present themselves. What can we do to ensure that they have every opportunity to build bright futures? How can we open our hearts and minds to every son and daughter of our nation, whether they are black, white, brown or yellow; straight, gay or trans; able-bodied or differently-abled?

 

It Won’t Be Easy But We Can Do It

 

We must educate one another about the problems in our communities and work together to find solutions. This means stepping up to fill a need rather than sitting back and letting someone else do it. And it means practicing patience (hard to do), teaching tolerance and appreciation of differences (also hard to do), and allowing ourselves to be in uncomfortable situations. Sometimes sitting in discomfort is just the thing we need to move us to action.

It means loving the unlovable, walking in another’s shoes and fighting injustice and divisiveness with everything we have, so we can all contribute to building a more perfect union. It means examining our systems and institutions to be sure they’re working for everyone and re-learning how to compromise and cooperate – vitally important skills we learn at the earliest age but seem to have forgotten.

Our democracy asserts that public servants serve the public, not just the people who agree with them. So make sure your public servants know what you need, and hold them accountable for addressing our collective challenges. And be sure to do your part to actively participate in local, regional and national community affairs. Our democracy depends on us all working together. As members of this republic, this is our job. Let’s do it well.

We’re can only get better when we share and support on another. Whether your candidate won or lost, what can you do to help move us all forward during this contentious time? Leave your comments below (and please be thoughtful and respectful of each other).

 

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Birthday Fun and a Bubbly Beauty Must-Have

Birthday photo

Celebrating my 50th birthday! (Photo courtesy Kraig Haver, my awesomely talented brother-in-law.)

 

Celebrating birthdays can be festive or frightening, depending on how you look at it. I just celebrated a BIG birthday, and this year I chose to embrace it. I have been noticeably absent on my blog for the past 2 months. This fall has brought more stress than I anticipated. With new schedules and changing responsibilities, I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed. But as I approached my birthday, I decided to try to let go of the stress and focus on the joyful moments life brings instead.

 

Birthdays All Start with Family

 

Those joyful moments started with a fabulous weekend with my family to celebrate our decades birthdays. In this special year, my niece, two of my sisters and I all reach(ed) a decade milestone. With four of us turning 30, 40, 50 and 60, we thought it was time for a celebration. So my sisters, my mom and my niece gathered in Austin, TX for a weekend of fun and family, including some wonderful family photos compliments of my photographer brother-in-law.

decades birthday family

The Decades and the Middle Ages (those with the gold stars, not celebrating a decade birthday this year)

 

We enjoyed a weekend full of amazing food, hilarious games, an afternoon of painting and overall silliness, relaxation and the kind of fun that you can only have with those who know you best.

 

birthday collage

Mom with the Decades Ladies, scrumptious dumplings, painting fall colors & getting “space-y”

 

Bubble Wrapping Our Weekend

 

Perhaps the most fun we had was our late night beauty treatment on our last night together. After 3 days of good times, we got a little loopy and decided it was time to give ourselves a home spa experience. Because everyone needs a little pampering before boarding a plane at the end of a great weekend.

 

bubble mask jar

 

My sister pulled out her jar of Elizavecca Milky Piggy Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask. (You can’t even say that without smiling. Go ahead, try it!) After slathering this stuff all over our faces, the hilarity rose to a whole new level. Once it goes on, it starts to fizz and bubble and puff up. All. Over. Your. Face. It gets tickly and tingly and altogether fabulous! We couldn’t stop laughing, even as our faces were getting ultimate beautification.

 

birthday bubble masks

 

After 15-20 minutes, once we finally stopped laughing, we rinsed away the bubbles. This stuff leaves your skin fresh, smooth and dewy with a perfectly clean feeling. And almost 3 full weeks later, my skin still feels smooth! With my aging skin, I’ve struggled over the past year with my skin feeling dull and needing exfoliation almost all the time. But this stuff finally solved my problem. I’m sold. And the best part? Not only did this provide me with a lasting happy memory, you can order it on Amazon for around $8. Click the link below if you want to try it!

(This is an affiliate link. This means I may earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase something using my links. Note that I only recommend products I believe in. Your support is appreciated!)

 

The Birthday Fun Doesn’t Have to End!

 

Here’s a thought … if you have Amazon Prime and you order today, you can have it hand before Halloween. (If you don’t have Amazon Prime, click the link at the bottom of this post to start a 30-day Free Trial Membership.) And if handing out candy is your job, why not answer the door while making your skin silky smooth? You won’t even need a costume!

This really has been a fantastic birthday month. I’m having so much fun that I think I’ll keep celebrating as long as my friends and family will let me. After all, a big birthday deserves that kind of attention, and I think I’ve earned it.

Here’s wishing you all joy, laughter and love in your lives on your birthday and always!

What special ways to you celebrate milestones? Do you have any fun beauty products to share that really work? Tell me about them in the comments. I’d love to hear your ideas!
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Back to School for Moms (and Other Adults)

Back to school for moms

Photo credit: Chris Metcalf on flickr

 

In our little corner of Arizona, the kids have already gone back to school. So while we’re knee deep in new schedules, new teachers and new priorities (more homework, anyone?), I know some of you are still winding up your summer and getting ready for back-to-school shopping. So I offer you this somewhat unconventional approach to how to approach back to school.

Our school supply shopping was done back in June thanks to a program our school offers that packages all the supplies you need for the following year. It’s so easy to go to the website, pick my kids’ classes and order the packages with one click. It probably costs a little more than what I could find in the stores, but the time it saves me is well worth it. Plus, the supplies get delivered directly to my kids’ classrooms, so I don’t have to load up the van to get all their paper, pencils and binders to school. That’s a definite win to me.

I know not all schools do this, so if you’re braving the school supply aisles at your local Target, Wal-Mart or Office Depot, I’m rooting for you! Just remember to breathe deeply and keep telling yourself that you can do it. (And be glad your kid’s school supply list doesn’t look like this one.)

 

Back to School for Moms

 

Back to school shopping doesn’t have to be stressful or dreaded if you take advantage of it to get some things you’ll love, too. And with sale prices in abundance, take this opportunity to treat yourself to some grown-up back to school supplies that you otherwise wouldn’t buy.

As a writer, I love to have an abundance of paper and writing implements on hand at all times. This means that back to school time is the perfect opportunity to replenish my supply. With every store stocked to the brim with supplies and great sales on everything on your list, you can’t go wrong. I, personally, have a spiral notebook obsession. I use them for everything from writing key points at my kids’ parent-teacher conferences to jotting down a recipe, shopping list or new blog ideas. And at 17 cents each at Target, this is the time I stock up for the year. Grab one in every color and you’ll never be lacking for a simple notebook for your everyday needs.

I also love a good pen and some of my favorites are perfect for my latest love – my bullet journal (or as my son calls it, my “everything book”). My husband had an appointment somewhere recently, and he borrowed someone’s pen. Well, he liked it so much that he bought some Pilot Precise V7 pens for us to use at home, and they have quickly become our favorite pens. So, right now I’m coveting this set of colored Pilot pens (affiliate link) to use in my bullet journal. I love that they write smoothly and they don’t run or bleed. They would definitely add a little pizzazz to my journal and perhaps serve to inspire more creativity in me.

 

My sister also is bullet journaling, and her actual journal (the Leuchtturm Dot Journal in the affiliate link) is amazing! Rich, luxurious paper with subtle dots and bleed-proof pages. Trust me, it’s a dreamy journal. Way more expensive than my everyday spiral notebooks, but moms deserve nice things, too. I haven’t broken down to buy one for myself, yet, because more than half of my current journal remains empty. But it’s definitely on my list, and back to school priced! Maybe I’ll break down and do it. I’ll just stick it in a drawer until I’m ready to use it.

 

Back to School – College Edition

 

Remember, back to school time involves more than just little ones. Your young adults are headed back to college, too. As a former college administrator, I know that many students find great deals on textbooks by shopping around. With the price of books so high, it’s worth checking out Amazon and other retailers to see if you can save a few bucks. Just be careful to check for the right edition and/or publication date since you don’t want your student to be lost in the wrong version of the book. And keep in mind that some professors bundle materials that can only be found in your campus bookstore. But if it’s a standard book, definitely check out Amazon.

Did you know Amazon also offers an Amazon Student subscription? I really wish I’d had this when I was in school. It offers unlimited free 2-day shipping on textbooks and other items (with no minimum purchase requirement), special deals and promotions just for students, and more. For a free trial membership, click on the link below. The trial period is a whopping 6 months, after which you can cancel. But if you choose to purchase the membership, the cost is $49, which is 50% off the regular prime membership fee. Totally worth it in my opinion.

Join Prime Student FREE Two-Day Shipping for College Students

Of course, you can take advantage of back to college sales, too. Think about all the things you put off buying, but could totally snag deals on now. Sheets, towels, storage products … all the stuff college students need, but moms need, too. Target and Wal-Mart, Kohls and Macy’s all offer great deals on home goods at this time of year. Of course, check out discount retailers as well. Places like Home Goods, TJ Maxx and Tuesday Morning that offer great prices year round will often stock up on these items because they know people are shopping for their college students.

Here are a few things that I bought recently (affiliate links).

Sheet sets at an amazing price:

 

Organizer cubes for toys and other loose items:

 

A messenger bag/briefcase for my husband since he just started a new job:

 

And a Few Extra Goodies … Just Because

 

If you’re loading up your shopping cart with back to school items you need, why not throw in a couple of things just because. Perhaps you still like to feel like you’re exercising your mind, but you also need a little stress relief. This beautiful adult coloring book will tap into the creative part of you AND allow you to contemplate where mathematics plays a role in our everyday world. It’s gorgeous! Throw them in your bag and the next time you find yourself at dance/swim/gymnastics/(insert kid activity here) practice, you’ll always have something to pass the time.

 

And don’t forget the pencils and pencil sharpener. These are a great value:


 

Next, just because we are huge Harry Potter fans and we’re enjoying the latest story in the saga, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child fits the bill for those wait times as well. The chapters (scenes) are short and the story satisfyingly different from the others while maintaining a connection to the previous seven books. The authors have included some interesting twists and turns. And although it takes a few pages to get used to reading it since it’s in script form, once you adjust, it’s easy to follow. It’s also fun to imagine how it all plays out on a stage, which makes it a different experience than the other books.

 

And last, with all the kids back in school and the full range of after school activities starting, I can’t have enough hand sanitizer. I know that good hygiene is the key to keeping everyone healthy, but when you’re rushing out the door or your kid wants a snack after touching everything in the sweaty gym, hand sanitizer works in a pinch. CleanWell is my absolute favorite natural product. It costs a little more than your standard Purell, but I’m not a fan of alcohol or chemical based sanitizers, so I’m willing to pay a little more. This one kills germs with a plant-based formula that smells great and doesn’t sting little hands that might have a few play-induced cuts and scrapes on them. I buy them in bulk so I always have some on hand, and maybe buy an extra package to share with your teachers — they’ll appreciate it.

Purse/backpack size for on the go:

And regular size for at home:

 

I really hope you take advantage of back to school shopping to find some things you really love. After all, back to school involves more than just the kids, and moms deserve to have some fun things in our shopping carts as well.

What things make back to school shopping more fun for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

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Blueberry Pastry Dream: the Perfect Summer Dessert

Blueberry pastry

Beautiful blueberries for my Blueberry Pastry Dream

 

Blueberries went on sale last week. I mean a serious sale. I bought my beauties for under $1 per pint. But even better … they were Buy 1, Get 2 FREE! Yes, you read that right. I even had to check with the cashier to make sure I had read the sign correctly, but I did, and I merrily went home with 3 pints of blueberries ready to be loved.

What to do with these luscious, plump little berries? I put them in cereal, made a couple of fruit mixes, and of course, popped them in my mouth right out of the package. But 3 pints is a lot of berries, so I had to get creative. Not wanting to make too much work for myself, I looked around to see what I had or what I could get pretty easily.

 

Blueberry Pastry Dream is Born

We just came back from vacation in Oregon. And while we ate lots of summer fruits, surprisingly blueberries didn’t make it into our rental kitchen. But, my husband bought a lovely blueberry pastry at the coffee shop in the airport on our way home, and it looked delicious. So I began to think about how I could create something similar without a lot of work.

In the deli drawer of my refrigerator, I found a tub of mascarpone cheese. Apparently we made something with it recently (I can’t remember what) because it was half-empty. But that was just the thing I needed to make the blueberry pastry dream a reality.

If you’ve never used mascarpone, this would be a lovely way to try it. It’s a soft Italian cheese product that’s more creamy than cheesy. It stirs up like a whipped cream cheese might, but it has a milder flavor and smoother texture. It makes desserts like tiramisu irresistible and pasta or risotto dishes creamy and decadent. You can find it with the specialty cheeses in your regular grocery store.

I used the mascarpone as the pastry filling, to give the blueberries a foundation on which to float their berry goodness. Then I put it all in a convenient store-bought sheet of puff pastry and baked it. It turned out simply divine with just the right amount of sweet and tart on flaky, buttery pastry shell.

 

Putting It All Together

The step by step process was super simple. Here’s how I did it:

 

Blueberry pastry filling

Stir together 4 ounces of mascarpone cheese with some sugar and vanilla. This will be your pastry filling.

 

Blueberry pastry crust

Take one sheet of thawed puff pastry dough (in the frozen section of the grocery store), and fold the edges in to make a little wall. This will hold all of the blueberries and filling in the pastry.

 

Spread filling for the blueberry pastry

Spread your mascarpone filling in the prepared pastry shell. There should be enough for a thin layer to reach all the way to the walls you made in your pastry shell.

 

Blueberry pastry ready for the oven

Layer one pint of blueberries on top of your filling and inside the pastry walls. Brush the walls with a little melted butter and sprinkle the whole thing with some coarse sugar. Then pop it in the oven and let the magic happen!

 

What comes out will be a lovely Blueberry Pastry Dream with a crisp, flaky outer crust and a mildly sweet center. What could be better than that?

Blueberry pastry dream

Here’s the printable recipe. I hope you enjoy!

 

Print Recipe
Blueberry Pastry Dream
A lovely dessert or brunch item featuring plump summer blueberries.
Blueberry Pastry Dream
Course Dessert
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Blueberry Pastry Dream
Instructions
  1. Thaw frozen puff pastry shell according to package directions.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. In a small bowl, mix mascarpone cheese with granulated sugar and vanilla. Start with a small amount of sugar. Give it a taste and add more if you like it sweeter. I used about 1 1/2 tablespoons.
  4. Place thawed puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured parchment paper on a baking pan.
  5. Fold in edges of pastry to make a little wall. Be sure all edges are firmly stuck together.
  6. Spread mascarpone mixture in a thin layer in the center of the puff pastry shell. Feel free to take the filling all the way to the inner edge of the pastry walls.
  7. Layer 1 pint of blueberries on top of the mascarpone filling.
  8. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and brush around the edge of the pastry (on the folded wall).
  9. Sprinkle coarse sugar over the top of the blueberries and around the edge of the pastry. This will give the crust an added crunch. If you don't have coarse sugar, you can skip this step or try a sprinkle of regular sugar.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is puffed and golden brown.
  11. Once cooled, remove pastry from parchment and onto a serving dish or platter. Serve as is or add a dusting of powdered sugar to make it look pretty.
  12. Enjoy!
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An Olympics-Worthy Snack for Rio 2016

Olympics-worthy snack

 

The Rio 2016 Olympics start tonight, so we all need an Olympics-worthy snack to enjoy as the games begin! I grew up watching the Olympics, and I still look forward to the games every two years. From the pomp and pageantry of the opening ceremonies to the proud moments watching our athletes stand on the medal podium, I find myself riveted to the TV. So, of course, all this TV watching requires a good snack. (Click the link for the the full Rio 2016 Olympics viewing schedule.)

 

Why is Brazilian Cheese Bread Olympics-Worthy?

 

In honor of the Olympics being in Rio de Janiero (and because I’m using a new recipe plugin now), I thought it was worth re-visiting my Brazilian Cheese Bread recipe. After all, the Olympics are in Brazil, and at least in my world, you can’t have too much Brazilian Cheese Bread!

The best part about Brazilian Cheese Bread – or cheesy bread as the kids call it – is that it’s actually healthy and easy to make. All the ingredients get thrown together in the blender, whirred around until you have a smooth batter, then poured into mini muffin tins. That means you only have one appliance to clean – awesome!

Brazilian Cheese bread in muffin tin

Pour the batter into well-greased mini muffin tins

These little bites are also gluten free since they use tapioca flour rather than regular wheat-based flour. This makes them light and fluffy as well. You pick the cheese depending on what flavor you like. The kids love cheddar, so that’s what I usually stick to, but I’ve made them with gruyere, mozzarella & parmesan, and a Mexican cheese blend. They’re all fantastic.

The bread comes out a cute little puff that’s a little crispy on the outside with a rich, chewy center. The texture is both light and satisfying, cheesy and bread-y (is that a word? It is now!). They’re the perfect Olympics-worthy snack food, especially for some serious Olympics watching. Just be careful, because it’s super easy to eat one after another after another until they’re gone. Oh, what the heck, go ahead – there’s nothing bad in them, so eat to your heart’s content! I bet even some of the Rio 2016 athletes would include these little morsels on their menus.

 

Okay, What’s In It?

 

Cheese, olive oil, milk, egg, a little salt and tapioca flour. If you don’t have tapioca flour – also known as tapioca starch – in your pantry, no worries. It’s easy to find. Most grocery stores will have it in the same aisle with the regular flour. Just look for it with the other packages of “specialty” items like oat bran, almond flour, rice flour and the like. Bob’s Red Mill is a popular brand that most grocery chains carry now.

 

Brazilian Cheese bread ingredients

Tapioca Flour (starch) from the Chinese store along with the other ingredients

 

If you happen to have an Asian market nearby, go there for your tapioca flour. I usually buy several packages on my runs to the Chinese grocery store since I can score each package for around 89 cents.

If you’re dairy-free, I’m afraid I haven’t tried any substitutions with this recipe. This is one I follow to the letter with no alterations. Not because I don’t like to experiment, but because this recipe works. It’s just right. Every time. If you do try any substitutes, let me know. I’d love to hear how they work!

 

Are You Ready to Try These?

Okay, I won’t keep you waiting any longer. Here’s the recipe!

 

Print Recipe
Brazilian Cheese Bread for Rio 2016
A light, chewy, cheesy puff perfect for snacking. Gluten-free and delicious. Add these to your Rio 2016 Olympics watching menu or serve them anytime!
Olympics-worthy Brazilian Cheese Bread
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
mini puffs
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
mini puffs
Ingredients
Olympics-worthy Brazilian Cheese Bread
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Grease or spray mini muffin tin(s) - 1 large or 2 small.
  3. Put all ingredients into blender & blend until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary.
  4. Pour batter into muffin pans so each cup is nearly full.
  5. Bake 15-20 minutes or until puffed and lightly golden brown.
  6. Let cool in pans for a few minutes, then remove and serve.
  7. Enjoy!
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Chicken Enchiladas (Plus Bonus Vegetarian Version)

Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Enchiladas with beans and guacamole

 

On busy weeknights I need go-to recipes I can prepare in a flash. And in my household I also need the recipe to be flexible enough to accommodate our vegetarian teen as well.

These chicken enchiladas make a satisfying and comforting meal. A few weeks ago, my friend had a death in the family and was so busy taking care of family business, she didn’t have time to cook. I took her a pan of chicken enchiladas, along with some Mexican rice and beans to complete the meal. She texted me later to ask for the recipe, so I think they enjoyed it!

Given her request for the recipe and the fact that I made these last night, I thought it was time to put the recipe out there. For once, it’s a recipe of my own creation and not something I found on the internet. I’ve taken bits and pieces of other recipes and come up with something that works really well for my family. And with just a couple of substitutions, I can make a vegetarian version, too. Both the meaty and the veggie versions are delicious, filling and easy to make.

I love how versatile I can be with this recipe. For example, last night I didn’t have much time, so I ran to the store, bought pre-cooked chicken with the rest of my groceries, and threw the whole thing together when I got home. On more leisurely days, I’ll often buy chicken on sale, then cook and shred it myself. You could also use leftover rotisserie chicken. See how many options you have? I also had half a container of sour cream in the fridge, so I put that into the vegetarian version to give it a lovely tangy flavor.

As a base for the filling, I use cream of chicken soup and a little milk. On busy days, I use a can. Yes, I admit it. Sometimes the canned stuff is worth the time saved. If I have the time and energy, I make it myself with this super easy recipe from Mindfully Frugal Mom. Just leave out the mushrooms (or broccoli), and you have a lovely, easy cream of chicken in about 10 minutes.

If you like green chiles, like we do, they add a nice flavor to the enchilada filling without too much spice. My husband likes to roast these, himself, when we can get them fresh. But I love the convenience of the little cans of roasted green chiles. Plus, they’re just the right amount. If you don’t like green chiles, just leave them out!

As for the vegetarian version … spinach and mushrooms make a delicious combination. But this would work equally well with whatever vegetables you have on hand. Think zucchini, eggplant, kale, squash or anything else that will hold up in a tortilla. Broccoli and cauliflower would work, too. Just be creative, or use up the veggies in the fridge.

Okay, enough of the commentary. Here are the step by step instructions (with photos). The recipe follows at the end.

 

Chicken Enchilada Filling

 

First, shred up a bunch of chicken and put it in a large bowl.

shredded chicken

Shredded chicken for enchilada filling

 

Then add some cheese – I use a Mexican blend but plain cheddar works, too.

IMG_3120

 

Add the cream of chicken soup (either one can or about 1 cup of homemade) and a little milk to moisten the whole mixture.

IMG_3121 (1)

 

Throw in some chopped onions and green chiles and stir it all together.

IMG_3122 (1)

Your filling for the chicken enchiladas is done!

 

Vegetarian Enchilada Filling

 

If you’re making the vegetarian version, substitute chopped spinach and mushrooms for the chicken, and sour cream for the soup. Add salt, pepper and any other seasonings you like (I like garlic powder). Mix that all up!

Vegetarian Enchilada Filling

Veggie Enchilada Filling

 

Roll, Bake and Enjoy

 

Now it’s time to roll. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish (or use a little cooking spray). Then, spread some filling across the bottom half of a tortilla and roll it up. Place it in the baking dish, seam down. I usually use about 1/2 cup of chicken filling per enchilada and about 3/4 cup of the veggie mixture. The vegetables will shrink a little while baking, so roll those up tight!

I squeezed them in pretty tight last night and 10 enchiladas fit in the pan (half chicken and half veggie). If you want to give them a little more room (or make bigger enchiladas), 8 is a comfortable number for most families. Cover them with any extra filling – I do this so I can tell which ones are which. Then sprinkle more cheese over the top and put them in the oven.

chicken and veggie enchiladas

My pan of chicken enchiladas & veggie enchiladas going in the oven!

 

Bake them at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until the cheese on top melts and the edges just start to get crispy. When they’re done, let them cool for about 5 minutes, then serve them up.

I like to serve them with beans (refried or black) heated up with a little cheese – just save some from the enchiladas. And if avocados are on sale, I’ll whip up some simple guacamole – just mashed up avocados, garlic powder and salt. Of course, these would be great with a simple salad or sautéed vegetables as well. Oh, and a little rice wouldn’t hurt either. Add your favorite salsa and you’ll be humming with yummies!

Whatever you serve them with, I hope you enjoy! And let me know what you think!

 

 

Print Recipe
Chicken Enchiladas
An easy and versatile recipe to get a wholesome, delicious meal on the table on even the busiest nights. These chicken enchiladas are quick to throw together and can be adapted to satisfy vegetarians with little effort - even in the same pan!
Chicken Enchiladas
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
For Vegetarian Filling
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
For Vegetarian Filling
Chicken Enchiladas
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9x13 baking dish by greasing or spraying lightly.
  2. In a large bowl, combine shredded chicken, 3/4 cup cheese, cream of chicken soup, milk, onion and green chiles. Mix well. * Use pre-cooked chicken or take 1 lb chicken, boil for 20 min. until cooked through. Cool then shred. Can be done in advance.
  3. Place approximately 1/2 cup of the filling across the bottom of a tortilla and roll securely. Place in baking dish, seam side down. Repeat until pan is full. Don't worry if there's a little leftover filling.
  4. Spread remaining filling over the top of the rolled enchiladas in the pan.
  5. Sprinkle remaining cheese evenly over the top. (Reserve a handful of cheese to warm in your beans if desired.)
  6. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until cheese on top is melted and edges begin to brown.
  7. Remove from oven & let rest for 5 minutes.
  8. Serve and enjoy!
For Vegetarian Enchiladas
  1. Substitute spinach & mushrooms for the chicken.
  2. Substitute sour cream, salt & pepper for the cream of chicken soup. Add any additional seasonings as desired (garlic, herbs, etc.).
  3. Mix and roll and bake as for Chicken Enchiladas, but use a little more filling since the vegetables will shrink while cooking.
Recipe Notes

Ingredients as listed will make a full pan of enchiladas - either chicken or vegetarian. If you would like to combine both versions into one pan, just use half the chicken and half the vegetables. Split the rest of the ingredients into two bowls, prepare as usual and bake them together. Spreading the leftover filling on top will help you identify which ones contain chicken and which ones contain the veggie version.

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