Monday, February 29, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 2/29

Monday- Barber Chicken and white rice (maybe leftover rice)
Tuesday- Chicken Enchiladas or Grilled Chicken
Wednesday- Pasta
Thursday- Popcorn Chicken, Chicken fries and homemade French fries
Friday- Tacos and saffron rice
Saturday- Leftovers
Sunday- Whole Chicken

I did all of the February menu and stopped at the end because I knew that it was February but it was also into March so I waited.  But then it took forever for me to figure out what to do for March.  Sometimes the menu plan comes together easily and I am totally in the mood for getting things in order and other times...I just can't get the menu together.  I was hoping that I would be in the mood after having a good dinner, while I was starving, and a million other times that I tried.  I got the pasta, whole chickens and chicken with fries on the calendar but then hit a wall!!

I was at the end of my time because it was time to start the week so I quickly went through the freezer and pantry again and tried to finish out the month's plan!!  I am running out of a lot of things and trying to be more creative to use the things that we already have at the house but I think that my family is looking for some of the old recipes to come back out so planning on a yummy week. 

We don't have school on Tuesday so I am going to try to make a batch of chicken enchiladas in the morning but if I don't get it done then I am going to count my husband to grill some chicken while we are out for the day enjoying the day away from school.  We are out of Penne pasta (currently the only one that my son eats) so I have been making small amounts of it for him and making us spaghetti, shells and other shapes that I have in the pantry so going to hope for the best and try some other pasta... we will see how well it goes.  Followed by my son's favorite meal and then my husband's.  We will round it all out with leftovers to clear out the fridge and then a whole chicken with some side dishes based on how much energy and creativity I have.

I am working all week so I know that there isn't a lot of flexibility with my time.  I usually get a day off to try to prepare ahead of time so hoping to have a productive weekend to get my week off right but it seems that we are all coming down with sickness so who knows!!  Here is hoping that we can put together this week without having to change too many things. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Gift Book Review

I was ready to pick up the second book directly after reading the first one.  The Gift (The Prairie State Friends) by Wanda E. Brunstetter is the second book in the Prairie State Friends.  I was so excited to find out what happened with the great

Follow the heart-wrenching story of Adam Beachy, whose mother walked out on him and his family—and away from the Amish faith. Now he balks at the idea of ever marrying and having a family of his own. But when tragedy strikes, Adam is suddenly a father figure to his three nieces and finds himself needing a wife. Despite their differences over her practice of reflexology, Leah Mast seems the best option to fill that role. Can they make it work in a modern-day marriage of convenience?

I wasn't sure what to expect of the second book in this series because I have never read this author but the book picked up at the end of the last book but it followed other characters more closely then the ones in the first book.  It was nice to see some of the other characters that you followed in the first book while getting to know new ones in the same small town.  My only problem was that I was waiting all of the book for what happened in the last two pages and then it was over.  I can't wait to read the third book to see if it continues but I would have liked a little more closer at the that might be why it works that way.  I hope that you enjoy this series as much as I have and let me know what you think about books that end too quickly.  I hope that you pick this up at your local library or bookstore to check for yourself.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Decision Book Review

I was online in the library searching for new books.  When I pulled up the Rose Triology that I just finished and this series of books, another book suggestion came up.  I decided to reserve The Decision (The Prairie State Friends) by Wanda E. Brunstetter and the rest of the series so that I could find out more about this new (to me) author.  I was excited when the books came on my reserve shelf so that I could read the first book in the Prairie State Friends.

Discover along with Jonah Miller how life can begin anew in the prairie state of Illinois. Moving from Pennsylvania, finding rewarding work, and leaving heartbreak behind is the best decision Jonah ever made.  Starting over in a new Amish community after suffering terrible heartbreak has been going good for Jonah miller, until his heart takes another terrible hit. Elaine Schrock loves Jonah, but she feels she must dedicate herself to taking care of her grandmother. Jonah doesn’t know if he can risk loving a third time.

Although the description on Amazon was horrible, I decided to pair it with the description from the authors website to make it a little better but not a ton more revealing.  I thought that Elaine was a great character and showing a lot of human weakness trying to do everything herself without relying on others.  Jonah was just looking to help someone whether it be Elaine and Edna or anyone else and start his family life.  Elaine was not open to sharing the responsibility of caring for her grandmother even though Jonah would have been happy starting his new life with this family that he was craving. It was a great message that we should all learn that we can rely on other people in order to live our life.  I hope that you check out this book and series because you will enjoy the book as much as I did.  It has some wonderful writing and great characters that you really want to read this whole series start to finish.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Mercy Book Review

I might have started the third book in the Rose Trilogy as soon as I finished the second book because I couldn't wait to find out what happened!!!  I promise The Mercy (The Rose Trilogy, Book 3) (Volume 3) by Beverly Lewis won't disappoint!!  It was a great end of a great series that really had you wondering what was going to happen next in this small Amish town.

Rose Kauffman pines for prodigal Nick Franco, the Bishop's foster son who left the Amish under a cloud of suspicion after his foster brother's death. His rebellion led to the "silencing" of their beloved Bishop. But is Nick really the rebel he appears to be? Rose's lingering feelings for her wayward friend refuse to fade, but she is frustrated that Nick won't return and make things right with the People. Nick avowed his love for Rose--but will he ever be willing to sacrifice modern life for her?

Meanwhile, Rose's older sister, Hen, is living in her parents' Dawdi Haus. Her estranged "English" husband, injured and helpless after a car accident, has reluctantly come to live with her and their young daughter during his recovery. Can their marriage recover, as well? Is there any possible middle ground between a woman reclaiming her old-fashioned Amish lifestyle and thoroughly modern man?

Loved this series!!  I always think that the series that I just finished was better then all the rest but I really wanted more of these great characters and was sad to see this series end with this book.  I was hoping that things were going to turn out well for Rose and Hen, Amish sisters who both fell in love with English men while being Amish.  This was a hard decision for both of them because they loved their family and were trying to decide what to do to continue their life with the decisions that they had both already made.  This is the great conclusion to a wonderful series.  I didn't see the end coming but I was glad that some of the issues discussed through the series were resolved.  I don't want to ruin it for anyone who is going to read the series but it was a happy ending for everyone!!  I hope that you check out this series and book for yourself soon.  I hope that you like it as much as I did!!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Homemade Brown Sugar

I have known for a long time how easy it was to make brown sugar but I could never make it cost effective.  If I can pick up a bag at Aldi for $1.29 then why would I buy an expensive bottle of molasses for around $4 at the store just to turn sugar into brown sugar (even if I was getting the granulated sugar on sale pretty cheap). 

Then, Nathalie told me that she saw molasses at Aldi for $0.99 so I went on a hunt.  I found one box left and lovingly grabbed four bottles....wanting more but feeling greedy taking more than that.  No joke I was hugging one while walking through the store because I was so excited!!  Do you see the molasses on the belt...I was so excited that I took at a picture at the store when I finally put the bottle down.

I might be getting ahead of others if you don't know the top secret recipe to make brown sugar.  1 cup of sugar and 1 tbsp. molasses.  Yup, that is it!!!

Check out this process.  I took out a container that I could mix and seal to put in the cupboard.  I measured two cups of sugar.

I measured out 2 tbsps. of molasses (please note that it is way thinner then honey and I might have over poured because I thought it would be slower like honey).  I dumped the molasses in the container (and cleaned off the counter and outside of the container...oops).

Then, I mixed!  I quickly saw the mess coming together to look like a softer and nicer version of the brown sugar in the store.  Bonus with the flat sides of the container, I can pack the brown sugar without even having to touch it. 

The down side was that I realized that was all the sugar that I had left.  I might be going into shock but I obviously need to go shopping!!!  For white granulated sugar and no more brown sugar needed here for a long time or at least as long as the 4 bottles of molasses hold out.  I hope that you check this out and make some for yourself.

Brown Sugar

1 cup of sugar
1 tbsp. molasses

Mix in a sealed container and keep in cupboard until ready to use.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 2/22

Monday- Barber chicken with white rice
Tuesday- Little Caesar Pizza after hospital trip!! Not planned!!
Wednesday- Popcorn Chicken, chicken fries and homemade fries
Thursday- Pasta with garlic bread
Friday- Southwest Chicken with white rice
Saturday- Roasted Chicken
Sunday- Breakfast or Leftovers

Already the end of the month without any idea where the month went again!!  Why do they pass so quickly?!  I am hoping you have a tasty week with lots of great meals to finish out the month.  I know that we are going to enjoy our last week of February...even though I forgot to post it on Monday when I thought I did.
We had an unexpected trip to the emergency room Tuesday because the peds doctor couldn't fit us in at the end of the day and we couldn't wait until the morning.  So we got an extra treat of pizza after the doctor because it is cheaper and feeds all of us over fast food alternatives for $5.  Hoping we are in the mend but he might have a sinus infection or pink eye now so we seem to be fighting a loosing battle of sickness.  Cross your fingers that the rest of us fight it off!!!!  No more sickness!!!

Blue Ribbon Trail Ride Book Review

I got Blue Ribbon Trail Ride (Horses and Friends) by Miralee Ferrell because I love horses and I thought that it might be nice to read and then share with my son.  Either way, the book and the series sounded really interesting for me to read too but this was intended to be for children (and not the adult audience that they were getting for this review).  I figured that I had to read them first before I even approached by son with them but I was totally into the whole series!!!

Thirteen-year old Kate and her friends came up with the perfect way to raise money for her autistic younger brother and others to attend summer camp—a horse scavenger hunt! As local businesses donate money and prizes, Kate keeps the entry fees in her mom’s antique jewelry box.  But when the box and the money disappear, Kate and her friends must unravel the clues, hold on to hope, and solve the mystery along the Blue Ribbon Trail Ride.

The book was another great story in the series that the group of friends overheard that the there was a camp that Pete, autistic brother to Kate, could go to but the family didn't have enough money to do it.  The kids take off and decide to raise the money with a trail ride scavenger hunt.  The money from the registrations will be used to send a few kids to camp while the prizes will be donated from the local businesses.  The kids do all the work on the project and there are some pitfalls like loosing the entry fees and her mom's family heirloom jewelry box.  It is a great story telling kids that they can do anything.  At the end, the person who stole the jewelry box comes back to return it expecting that he will be taken by the police but the family takes another path.  I might not agree fully with the message that this decision sends to the kids.  I understand that it is still a positive message but I think that parents should read this with the kids or before so that you can discuss the different values in this book.  The only bad thing that I can say is that all of the other books had recipes at the end and this book had directions on doing a scavenger hunt...which I guess makes sense but I was interested in the recipe for the snickerdoodles that they made.  I don't think that stopped me from loving the book and I hope that you check it out for yourself or your kids.  I think that you will enjoy it as much as I did.

**I was given a copy of the book for my review.  All opinions here are my own.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Simple Chicken Gravy

One of my husband's favorite meals is turkey with stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy.  Since we don't have turkey on a regular basis, we started making whole chickens on a regular basis, my husband said that it would be nice to have gravy with it.  Ummm, I have never made gravy!! 

WHAT?!  Nope.  My mother and mother in law have always taken over making the gravy for family meals and I just let them.  I made a quick attempt to make the gravy last time and it was way too thin because I waited until I got the chicken drippings from the pan.  It was too late to start making a gravy.  This time I planned a little ahead.

I made a chicken, hasselback potatoes and stuffing which were all in the oven while I used the extra chicken stock that I had from the stuffing to make this gravy.  I searched the internet and found the recipe here.  Since I already had a dirty pot from the stuffing,  I decided to use that one so I melted the butter.

I added the flour to the bottom to make a paste.

It quickly mixed together into a paste which I let bubble while I was finishing defrosting my chicken broth.

I added the chicken broth to the pan and stirred until all of the flour was dissolved.  It mixed up easily but didn't really thicken.  I added pepper and left it on the stove on a low heat while I was fixing some of the rest of the dinner and setting the table.  I turned up the heat again and it started to thicken quickly after bubbling.

I made just enough for dinner because I knew that we wouldn't eat any leftovers.  It was a perfect amount for the two of us for dinner.

We enjoyed our chicken with gravy and stuffing and potatoes.  It was a really big meal after adding a few extra side dishes while everything was cooking in the oven.  It might have been a little bit of a big meal to eat before the Super Bowl but we really enjoyed a wonderful Sunday dinner, especially with the yummy gravy.

Simple Chicken Gravy

1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. flour
1 cup chicken broth
pepper to taste

Melt the butter in the pan.  Add the flour and stir until forms a paste.  Add the chicken broth and stir until bubbling.  Add pepper to taste.

** This makes very little gravy for small dinner.  Use the same ratio to make more gravy as needed.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Judgment Book Review

I was so excited to start the second book in the series as soon as I finished the first.  I put it off a few hours so that I could get some sleep but I was happy to start The Judgment (The Rose Trilogy, Book 2) (Volume 2) by Beverly Lewis.  The second book was just as great as the first one!!

Rose Kauffman is engaged to Silas Good, a well-liked Amish fellow, so why does she still pine for Nick Franco, the former foster son of the bishop? Especially now that Nick has left the Amish community under a cloud of suspicion after the death of the bishop's biological son? Will Rose marry Silas, even while struggling with romantic feelings for Nick?

Meanwhile, Rose's older sister, Hen, has returned to live at her parents' farm with her young daughter. Hen and her modern husband, Brandon, are separated by mutual agreement, although he is threatening to sue for custody of their daughter if Hen does not return soon. Will the judge rule in Brandon's favor? Is there any way Hen can reestablish her place among the People without sacrificing her marriage?

I finished this book a little too fast because I gave up everything just to read a little more of the book.  I was sitting at the bounce house place with my son (which is loud for those of you who have never been) and reading my book wherever I could get a seat.  This book included the judgment for the Bishop to be asked to not lead the people after his adopted son has left the Amish people to rejoin the "English" world.  The Amish leaders see that this means that he doesn't have the influence that leaders should have.  At the same time, Rose is engaged to Silas Good and planning their future together while her sister, Hen, is loosing her marriage because she is pulled to the old life.  There is tons going on in this book that makes it hard to stop reading.  I hope that you try out this series and this wonderful book for yourself.  Add it to your reading list soon but make sure you save enough time to do nothing but read if you can't put it down like me!!!  I know that you will enjoy the wonderful characters and writing as much as I did (right before starting the third book right after finishing the second).  I hope that you enjoy this series soon.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Thorn Book Review

I was "shopping" for books on the library website and looking for a new series of books to read while we were stuck in the house with a horrible snow storm.  I have been horrible at keeping track of things that I have been reading in my notebook like I used to years ago so I was searching on my blog to see if I could find a series by Beverly Lewis that I hadn't read when I finally found one!!!  The Rose Triology was the next series that I was going to read so I reserved all three of them so that I could start as soon as the snow passed.  It took awhile for the reserve to come in because the library was so backed up but I was excited to get started as soon as it came in.  The Thorn (The Rose Trilogy, Book 1) (Volume 1) by Beverly Lewis was the first book to start with!

Lancaster County, with its rolling meadows and secret byways, may seem idyllic, but it is not without its thorns. THE ROSE TRILOGY is the stirring saga of two Amish sisters on the fringes of the church, and the unforeseen discoveries that change their lives.

Rose Kauffman, a spirited young woman, has a close friendship with the bishop's foster son. Nick dresses Plain and works hard but stirs up plenty of trouble too. Rose's sister cautions her against becoming too involved, but Rose is being courted by a good, Amish fellow, so dismisses the warnings. Meanwhile, Rose keeps house for an English widower but is startled when he forbids her to ever go upstairs. What is the man hiding?

Rose's older sister, Hen, knows more than she should about falling for the wrong man. Unable to abandon her Amish ways, Hen is soon separated from her very modern husband. Mattie, their young daughter, must visit her father regularly, but Hen demands she wear Amish attire--and speak Pennsylvania Dutch, despite her husband's wishes. Will Hen be able to reestablish her place among the People she abandoned? And will she be able to convince Rose to steer clear of rogue neighbor Nick?

I loved it!!!  I quickly wanted everything to work out the best for Rose whatever choice that meant.  She was pulled between two men (very much like Jacob vs. Edward in Twilight) so you spend the work wondering how she is going to choose but I won't spoil your fun.  I had to force myself to go to sleep when I finished the first book and not go searching for the next book in my night stand to start right after.  I waited until the morning to start the next one!!  I hope that you pick up this series and start at the beginning to find out all about this wonderful Amish family and how they are struggling with the modern world.  I hope that you like it as much as I did!!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Kissed By A Cowboy Book Review

I love romance and want to see everything work out for the best and add in a little country with a few horses and I am sold.  Although I couldn't remember the name of the book that I read, the authors name sounded familiar and the cover had me knowing that I needed to read this book.  Kissed by a Cowboy (A Four of Hearts Ranch Romance) by Debra Clopton sounded so perfect to find out if Cassidy could overcome her childhood hurts and build her new life as an adult.  With a little help from Amazon and my blog (thank goodness I have that to keep me straight), I found the previous book that I read with Debra Clopton here.

Having lived through her parents’ endless string of “matrimonial bliss gone wrong,” Cassidy Starr knows when the odds are not in her favor. Divorced and humiliated, her faith on rocky ground, Cassidy is through with love. She’s been bucked o_ that horse far too many times. Instead, she returns to Wishing Springs, Texas, and the rundown farm she’s inherited from her great aunt Roxie. She’ll reopen the strawberry farm and a bed & breakfast and follow in her aunt’s footsteps, remaining forever-independent, happy . . . and single.

Rancher Jarrod Monahan’s hands are full running the ranch, looking after his ailing grandfather, and chasing down a group of rustlers on the loose. He’s pushed his longing for a family to the bottom of his list of priorities. Besides, he was in love once but ran scared and lost his shot at happiness. But suddenly, the biggest regret of his life has moved in next door with a wounded heart, determined to become a spinster . . . and that’s a challenge that Jarrod can’t pass up.  Jarrod sets his mind to breaking down the walls around Cassidy’s stubborn heart. How can he show her that a cowboy’s kiss lasts forever? For the good folks of Wishing Springs, falling in love has never been so much fun to witness.

I was so excited to read this cowboy romance and was immediately drawn in and had trouble putting down the book.  Cassidy Starr was trying to overcome all of the problems with her past including her parents mistakes, childhood dysfunction, and her divorce.  Cassidy was coming back to her aunt's house to start her life over and her childhood friend, Jarrod, lives right across the way.  But she has sworn off any help or relationships so she continues to push him away.  In order to find out what happens in this push and pull relationship, you need to pick up the book and read it!!  I hope that you check this out at your local library or bookstore to see what a great book it is for yourself.  I know that you will enjoy it as much as I did!!

**I received a copy of this book for my review from the publisher.  All opinions here are my own.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thrifty Thursday: Free Family Fun

We are always on the look out for free family fun in our area.  I have a few places online I check to see what is going on for the upcoming month and start writing notes on my calendar as I find new ones.

The first great hint is to get into a Mom's group that does the work for you.  There are tons of Mom's groups out there that have lots of events posted.  When you find some events, you also might meet some other mom friends to go with.  When you find new events, you can also share.

We love to go to our local library at least a few days a week.  My son is currently doing the winter reading program and every time he finishes 5 books, he gets a prize from the chest.  I think that he has turned in near 20 of the sheets during the short program.  We have gotten two pool toys, a puzzle, bingo cards, stop watch, number game (no instructions), pencils, pads, bouncing dice, and books.  Bonus is that we are visiting the library and finishing lots of books in order to fill sheets to get more prizes.  We aren't even really sure what he has gotten but here are a bunch of the things that he has already gotten.

We also like to do lots of free events.  These range from open house programs at different businesses and library programs.  We just did the open house at the local bounce house where my son got to bounce and play games for free for over 3 hours in these three inflatables and get his arm painted (he doesn't like it on his face).

We have frequently have signed up for programs during the year at the library (lots and lots during the summer).  My son loves to put together legos at the library, go to book clubs, magic shows, puppet shows and learn about animals.  He also likes to earn the free coupons to go to the book sales like in the picture below so that he can pick out free books.

We love to do crafts too!  We go to Lakeshore Learning (the teaching store) on Saturday because they have free crafts.  We went to AC Moore last summer because they had free crafts to make.  If there is a place for crafts, we are there to figure them out.  Every first Saturday is free crafts at Home Depot.  There is also free crafts at Lowes but it is really far away from our house so we haven't been.

I hope that you find some fun and free things to do with your family.  We are looking ahead to the coming summer months and trying to figure out lots of fun things to do when the weather gets nicer like going to the playground. listening to concerts, doing science experiments at home and the library and building lots more legos  What do you have planned for fun family events this summer?

If you are looking for things in your area, check any local libraries, bookstores or other stores that have crafts because there are any tons of fun things to do all year round.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Simple Hasselback Potatoes

I was looking for a new and fun side dish to go with our whole chicken that I put in the oven.  With very little planning, I decided on these Simple Hasselback Potatoes for our Super Bowl Sunday meal (out of the Sheet Pan Supper Cookbook) but the recipe is out there everywhere on the internet. 

This was supposed to be our Saturday menu but we switch the meals around at the last minute when my son declared that he wanted hash browns and pancakes.  I was going to make something else because I thought we had enough potatoes but I have wanted to try these and it was exactly the right amount of time left to cook them with the chicken!!  Awesome!!

I washed the potatoes and set them on the cutting board.

I cut the bottom off the potato to give them an even bottom to sit flat.

I sliced the potato in thin slices all the way across the potato.

I put the potatoes in a pan to bake in.  I covered with olive oil.

I topped with sea salt and pepper and tried to separate the slices and dripped the oil inside the potato.

I put the extra pieces of potato in the corners (because I didn't want to waste any potato) of the pan and put it straight into the oven.

After cooking the potatoes for over 30 minutes, I took the potatoes out and flipped the little potato slices and moved the other potatoes.  I added some white cheddar popcorn seasoning and parmesan cheese to brown and put it back in the oven.

The cheese nicely browned and the potato did a great job baking in the oven and the end of the one potato even fell off the rest of the potato.

I put the potatoes on to the plates for dinner.  There was a really thick crust of salt, pepper and cheese on the outside to make this potato really tasty.  We enjoyed the little bit different potato with the soft inside and the great flavor.

I hope that you test this out for yourself and add whatever flavoring you think that your family will love!!  It was perfect to start off simple and we might even make these again!!

Simple Hasselback Potatoes
  • Medium Sized potatoes (wash them well)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • Chopped fresh herbs, shredded Parmesan Cheese, crumbled bacon, or other toppings


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F with the rack in the center. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or mist with cooking spray.
  2. Slice a thin layer off the base of the potatoes so they will not roll around. Use a sharp knife to make thin with vertical slices down the potato but not all the way through, about 1/8 inch apart.  Place the potatoes on sheet pan.
  3. Brush potatoes all over including the bottoms with olive oil about 1 tbsp each.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake them until the slits have begun to open and spread apart like fans, about 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the oven and brush the tops with potatoes with the oily pan drippings.  Return the pan to the oven and bake the potatoes until crisp on the outside and knife tender within, another 30 to 40 minutes
  5. Finish the potatoes with a sprinkle of chopped herbs, shredded cheese, crumbled bacon or other toppings and serve warm.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Easy to Make Enchiladas Step by Step

I love finding new ways to use leftovers and enchiladas is one of the easiest!!  They also happen to be a family favorite.  I usually make a big batch of enchilada sauce (recipe here) which makes the one batch to eat now and at least two to freeze.  I love to pull all the ingredients out of the fridge and freezer but it doesn't always work that way.  At least I can pull out the ingredients and figure out what I have to make.

I was doing the two different enchilada sauces to do the side by side taste test so I spread them in the pan.  Normally, I would spread it evenly across.  This is a really important step to make sure that your enchiladas don't stick to the bottom of the pan.

The next very important step is to microwave the corn tortilla shells so that they are soft or flexible.  If the shells are dry, the easiest thing is to wet a paper towel and squeeze it out a little. Wrap the tortillas in the wet paper towel with the seams on the bottom when you put them in the microwave.  My shells were the last in the package and really wet so I microwaved without the paper towel this time.  While they were still warm, put each one into the pan.  We like a lot of cheese so I put a little shredded cheese in the bottom.  It also helps to know which part is the inside when you come back around to put in the next layer.

I had been putting a little bit of leftover seasoned taco meat in the freezer whenever we finished our meal and I had a pretty big bag that was ready for enchiladas.  I took it out of the freezer and put it in the microwave until it was a little thawed... no need to be hot.  I scooped the meat evenly in the shells.

At the same time that I started pulling everything out of the cupboard, fridge and freezer, I had to make a pot of our saffron rice.  I got tons of these for free so there were still a bunch of the spicy ones in the cupboard because they are the ones that my son doesn't eat.  It took 20 minutes to get that cooked and luckily, I had that much time to pull everything together.   When the rice was cooked, I put that in the next layer.

Then, I added another layer of cheese.  YUM!!  Love cheesy enchiladas.

Here comes the hardest and messiest part.  Pull the two side of the shell together and roll upside down in the sauce.  The great part is that if your cracks like one of mine did, it is super easy to cover.  The step with microwaving helps to not have as many cracks.... so don't skip the step with the paper towel if you want them super pretty.

The next step is to spread the enchilada sauce over the top.  The important part is to make sure that all of the edges are covered because they can easily brown and burn if they aren't covered.  There is nothing worse then burnt dinner smelling up the kitchen.

The final step is to cover with the remaining shredded cheese.  I usually use a 8 oz block of cheese for the inside and the outside.  There is always room for more cheese so feel free to add to taste.

I put this in the fridge because I made it before dinnertime.  This is also a perfect recipe to make ahead and put in the freezer so that you can make a ton of different batches to have through the month when it gets a little busy.  My other really good tip is to take it out of the fridge and put it straight into the oven before you preheat the oven so the pan comes up to temperature with the oven.  I am not a huge fan of leaving the pan on the counter to warm up so I came up with this solution years ago and it adds a little more ease to the preparation and no planning ahead because I never remember to take the pan out to come up to room temperature.  In case you don't know, this is why pans break and shatter in the oven.  It isn't a problem with metal pans but I use pottery so it is a big issue. 

I leave the pan in the oven for about an hour until the cheese is nice and brown and we are ready to eat.  I put it straight on the table like this and serve with the pie server or spatuala.  The one side cuts and then I can pick up two at a time to put on the plates.

I don't always have the best aim in the serving but it all tastes the same and we super enjoy them.  If anything falls out of the end, it is the scoop that goes on top.  This time it was a little harder because we did a side by side comparison between the enchilada sauce and the red chili sauce.  We put a lot of effort into deciding that we loved both of them so I mixed them together to have next time.

I hope that you decide to make some of these yummy enchiladas or start filling the freezer with these yummy ingredients to make soon.  The best part is that you can add anything that you have around that your family likes including beans, onions, and lots more ingredients.  The best thing about these enchiladas is that when you fill the shells with lots of things that aren't meat, you stretch that meat and use a lot of less expensive ingredients but have a tasty, restaurant quality meal.  I hope that you enjoy these yummy enchiladas and a few kitchen tips to save time and money in your kitchen.