the gregarious homebody

Friday, August 31, 2012

French Indian Enchiladas for Dinner

I had no idea these were going to turn out so good which is why I took no pictures until after we'd eaten them.  Notice the sawed-off ends "to make them fit."  Just go with it.

This recipe's inception began like so many of mine do--from the purchase of an esoteric ingredient I thought I needed for another recipe and an overwhelming desire to not leave my house.

We went out to dinner last week to the wonderful new-to-us little Indian joint which lives at the back of an Indian grocery store.  This is my favorite kind of place--you can eat the food they make for you and then buy the ingredients to try to recreate what you just ate at home.  

This is my idea of fun.  

So we had our wonderful food and decided to walk around the store afterwards.  I wanted to buy something.  Anything!  Everything looked so interesting!  But I've been trying to curb my impulse buying so I wanted something I needed.  And then I saw it--the chickpea flour that I needed to make the yummy-sounding flat breads Sue made on one of my favorite blogs.  Score!  A justifiable purchase as making one's own flatbreads instead of purchasing them was surely a money-saving idea, right? So home we go with our little bag of flour that costs more than a large bag of regular all-purpose  or wheat that I can make ANYTHING with.  But I was going to make these flat breads.

So I look them up on Sue's blog and....they are made with what Sue calls "plain" flour or, wait for it...................... whole wheat flour. Which I have.  In many forms (high gluten, pastry, cake, and even whole wheat pastry).  Crap.

So it sat on my counter for exactly one week, taunting me.

Until tonight, when I was slated to make chicken enchiladas for dinner because they are a) a guaranteed crowd-pleaser; b) use up the rest of the roasted chicken I made earlier in the week; and c) dead easy to make with other past-their-former-glory refrigerated leftovers and vegies.
See?  They really were slated.  (Pay no attention to the insane arrows or the fact that today is Friday, not Thursday. It was a tough week).

I'd  realized last night that I didn't have tortillas, which, hello! you need to make said enchiladas. Which there was no way in hell I was going to want to go buy after work today because I would immediately go home and my bra would be off once I had one foot in the door.

It was that kind of week.  

So I'm needing these tortillas (because I was going to make enchiladas, damn it) and wondering what I was going to do (I briefly considered a *shiver* no-carb version with lettuce leaves but then realized I also had no lettuce).  

Which is when I saw the chickpea flour flirting with me.  So I made crepes.  

And tortillas can now kiss the chickpeas' butts because wow were they good.
Chickpea Crepe Enchiladas (which makes no sense, I know) 
  • Chickpea flour crepes  *recipe, prepared and cooled 
  • 1/2 a leftover roasted chicken, diced 
  • one small onion that you slowly sauteed in 1tablespoon of oil (I did mine in **coconut oil which added a subtle and wonderful coconut flavor) until brown and delicious) sprinkled with some salt
  • 1/2 cup (or more to your liking) peach mango salsa (I used Wegmans brand which is way too sweet for anything else and was another impulse purchase)
  • A couple tablespoons of lime juice because the salsa was too damn sweet 
  • 4 oz. of feta cheese, crumbled
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the filling ingredients and taste often to make sure it's just right (and seasoned with enough salt and pepper).

Coat a long casserole with oil or nonstick spray (again, I used coconut oil.  It is so good).  Lay out your crepes and get rolling.  Place in pan, sprinkle with a teensy bit of cheddar cheese (or a lot--your call) and cover with foil.  Bake in oven for 20 minutes until heated through.


*I doubled the crepe recipe and made 7 (annoying number!) crepes with the above filling amount and had 6 crepes left over which I wrapped and froze.  Recipes for crepes never make the amount they say they will, in my experience.  It could be my ineptness but for once I don't think so.  If you've never made crepes before, don't fret when the first one (or the second) turn out terribly.  Eat it and move on.  Once I get a rhythm I find crepe-making oddly soothing.

**This shit is expensive but worth it. I recently found out that Trader Joe's has it much cheaper than Wegmans.  I have to travel almost an hour to buy it but that makes perfect sense, doesn't it, because I save $4 if I go to Trader Joe's.  Right???  DON'T get anything but the virgin or extra virgin or it will have no discernible coconut flavor.  Don't fear the flavor--it is subtle but delicious.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Still Here

Halfway into our 4-mile REALLY HARD hike, this is what we saw

I'm not sure anyone is reading this blog (other than Audrey...hi Aud!!) but I'm coming back to it, slowly but surely.  It's been an incredibly stressful summer, starting back in May, and I made the decision to not share that because, ew...  if I don't want to read my own whining who else would want to?! So, since things are on the upswing (crossing fingers!), I feel ready to be here again.  Even if it's just me and Audrey.

We finally got away for the weekend!  Woo-hoo!  Last year's week-long trip was not to be repeated because we have a goal as a family to go to England next year and want to try very very hard to save for that.  But not getting away at all is not healthy.  So we packed up the van and went to World's End State Park.

It was beautiful. 
Using the excuse that I was photographing beautiful fungi to catch my breath on a deadly hike

I know a lot of people (some of them my very good friends) do not enjoy camping.  Some see it as work.  And it can be (putting up a tent, cooking outside without a lot of conveniences, etc.).  But the homebody in me sees it as another opportunity to set up a very relaxed home.  I feel a weird satisfaction in spreading out my vinyl-covered tablecloth on the picnic table, setting up the cooler and 32-year-old Coleman stove.  I like making it cozy.  And food tastes better outside.  
There was also a lot of this

But what I like most is that the kids talk.  Those of you with small children might see this as a deterrent because small children never shut up.  But a lot of teenagers (especially insular ones like ours) just don't make conversation once they reach 12 3/4 years old.  Unless they're camping, where the only technology is an iPod (if you remember to charge it).  

Suddenly, your 16 year old is talking about things he's interested in like light years and string theory.  Speaking in full sentences!!  And though I didn't understand half of what he said (I am severely right-brained), I could have listened for another week to him talking.
Do not be fooled by this studiousness.  This is someone who waited until the week before school to read and write about two novels.

And it was positively glorious to see the other teenager act silly and joke (with us! not just with her friend!).  I can't express how wonderful it was just to see her so uncomplicatedly happy.

Going into the water in all your clothes and shoes. Even if it's 60 degrees.  Why not?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Break 2012

On what is my last Spring Break as a student, 
here's what I did:

Of course the washer had "an issue" when there was a TON of laundry to do.

Went to meetings
What does this food have to do with going to meetings?  A lot.  Lehigh knows how to do meetings.

Applied for jobs and networked
This photo does not convey the mental exhaustion associated with both these activities.

Drank gallons of tea and took pictures of it

It's mah faaavorite.


 Matcha Biscotti

"The best thing you've made in a long time"   --HH

You need to make this now.  Really.  Go.  I'll wait.

Unbelievably good.  Guiness and chocolate go together like...pie and a fat ass.

And shredded.

See the pictures above for why I am NOT on my way to losing up to 20 pounds in 30 days!

The break, it was good.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


I have been many sizes in my life: normal, healthy little girl, baby fat teen, thin young adult, and uncomfortable-for-me overweight.  Anyone with half a brain (and eyesight if you look at me) can tell which one I am now. 

And I'm not happy about it and haven't been in a long time.  

But I've been too lazy, and nervous, to do anything about it.  The lazy part isn't unusual for the average American but the nervous requires a little explaining.  I know it's a cliche--it seems everyone around me is constantly "dieting." Just like everyone else,  I've talked about starting an exercise program (here and here) but I don't think I've said why dieting, exercising, etc. makes me nervous.  It's because for about 7 years I was bulimic, starting in college.  It was awful, disgusting, shameful, all-encompassing.  I equate it to being alcoholic (one day and a time and all that) except with the added challenge of the simple fact that one can live without alcohol.  Not food (and who would want to?).

So anyway, I've tried to lose weight later after getting "better" and after having slowly packed on weight after each kid, but each time I felt myself slipping into the crazy.  The obsessive.  The frightened.  So I'd stop.  And crawl into a tubby cocoon.  

But I think I'm finally getting to a point in my life (hello, 40's!) in which I'd like to be as healthy inside and out as I can. I'm going to exercise, watch what I eat (without avoiding fun stuff like birthdays, nights out with friends, etc. for fear of taking one bite/drink and sliding into The Crazy.).

I want to be healthy and not tired all the time.  I want to sweat only when it's actually hot.  I want to be strong.  I want to be a role model for my kids in every way I can.  And for some reason, I want to do this without passing out. Wish me luck.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Happy New Year!

One of the best things about my new career is learning something new every single day.  I love that.  And the fact that the things I learn are so interesting certainly helps.  I've always considered myself a pretty open-minded (though opinionated) person but working with international students has opened my mind in ways I never could have imagined.

The two portraits below were taken by Anthoni, who is graduating in May. I miss him already!  Look at him--is he not the cutest??

One culture I thought I knew pretty well from books/movies,etc. was Chinese culture. I've always loved Chinese literature.  I love the poetry of their words.   But one part that I misunderstood was that I always thought of their culture primarily as one of obedience to the state.  There's much more to it than that.  China is such a large country that, just like the US, there are subcultures just as there are so many dialects.  I think you would have to travel to every province to begin to understand it all. But one of the best parts of their culture is shared by all Chinese and something that I share with them--a love of tradition and family (friends and blood relatives).

Qin is an artist and as lovely as she is quirky.  Those glasses have no lenses but they look cool!

Filial piety is an important part of that.  Sometimes, in books and movies, the respect for elders can seem binding and restraining, but I've seen the other side of it in these students--a genuine love (and like!) of their parents and a desire to make them proud.  It's not something I consciously thought about when I was their age.  I wanted my parents to be proud, sure, but mostly I was all about me me me.  The balance can be delicate between making themselves happy and their parents proud but at its heart it is, for lack of a better word, very very nice to see.

Chenkai had the nerve to go back to China after getting his MBA because he didn't want his mother to miss him too much.  I miss making him blush by telling him about his awesomeness.

And the food!  I love the symbolism of almost everything they eat and the attention to detail in a simple dish.  HH would love to eat Chinese food every night but what is served to us Americans, so I've learned, is a bastardized version of the authentic dishes served in China.  When I asked what the difference was between what we have and "real" Chinese, my friend Chenkai said "Sugar.  Everything you eat is so sweet." And I get that.  As I get older, I'm finding I like things less sweet and more savory or tangy.  I can't wait to go to China to taste the difference. Until then, I'll just have to make my own.  Here's what I made for our Chinese New Year dinner--a new tradition!

Back to front:  Noodles for long life, spring rolls for family reunion, and crab dumplings for wealth.  (Edamame was there because we like them) 
Tangerines for luck
Almond cookies for a sweet life


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