Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Healthy Twist on Chicken Burritos

We've been careful the past few weeks about what we eat at home. Lots of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy dairy fill our refrigerator now. I know how to eat properly, but I don't always make an effort to do it. Amazingly, I have a box of Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies in my freezer that hasn't been touched. I picked the wrong time to start being healthy! Those cookies are a highlight of my life every Spring, and I'm sure I'm not alone on that sentiment. But Thin Mint Cookies aren't exactly on our list of approved items to eat right now, and I would much rather feel better about myself than enjoy an entire box. You know I could do it, too.

So in comes the healthy eating! We've been working out in the hot sun every day the past few weeks, trying to get a temporary garden ready so that we have somewhere to transplant our little seedling buddies. There's nothing better than working out in the heat and then coming inside for a dinner that is already prepared and cooling in the fridge. One wouldn't think cold chicken burritos would be anything to invite drool, but these are heavenly indeed. And did I mention how healthy they are?

It looks like a ton of ingredients, but just a few minutes in the produce section will find everything needed to make this recipe. It makes a big batch, but everything tastes so good together that a larger portion is easily justified. We ate it for dinner and lunch for two days before it disappeared. For a snack, I even tried it with tortilla chips and really enjoyed the extra crunch.

Healthy Chilled Chicken Burritos
makes about 16 servings

1 Green Bell Pepper, diced
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
4 Tomatoes, seeded and diced1 large Jalapeno Pepper, seeded, small diced
1 small Red Onion, diced
1 can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 can Sweet Corn, drained
1 bunch Cilantro, stemmed and chopped
2 cups cooked Chicken (you could even use a rotisserie chicken, shredded)
2 cups cooked Basmati rice, cooled
2 Limes, juiced1/3 cup Olive Oil
1 cup Homemade Salsa
Salt and Pepper to taste

For assembly:
Sour Cream
Freshly-grated Cheddar Cheese
Homemade Salsa

Begin by combining all the veggies in a large bowl. Add the chicken, rice, olive oil, lime juice, homemade salsa, and salt and pepper until the taste is perfect. Cover tightly and place in the fridge for cooling so the flavors can get to know each other better. It's best to eat it the same day to enjoy the peak of the vegetable lifespan.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mama Comes to Town

My Mama just left this morning. It was a quiet ride home reflecting on what a wonderful week we had together. Christmas for her this year was a ticket to come to The Valley of the Sun to visit three of her four kids, and two of her four grand kids (with another one on the way from Charloe in Utah!). Mom arrived last Wednesday for an entire week of visiting, eating, snacking, eating, and visiting while snacking. It was, in a single word, perfection.

Sadly, lots of my pictures revolve around the food we ate. I am sure this surprises no one! I most remember to get my camera out when something pretty arrives on my plate! We were able to eat out a few times, and we had some amazing meals made at home, too. It was such a treat to have my Mom in town for so long. And even more of a treat that I was home to enjoy it! Talk about perfect timing to be able to spend a week at home! I was worried she would arrive and I would leave! It was quite the opposite...I was able to participate in all the fun activities undertaken over her six days in town.

Wednesday meant picking Mom up at the airport. I drove to T'liese's house and carpooled with Evan and T'liese to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. We decided to go inside to wait for Mom to arrive, and we got some pretty interesting people-watching accomplished in the meantime. Soon we saw Mama walking up the ramp in a cute red polka-dot blouse. After hugs and kisses all around, we headed to lunch at a delicious sandwich shop near Arizona State University campus called Dilly's Deli. Since this was my second time here, I knew I was in for a treat and got half a chicken salad sandwich with a side of pasta salad. It was yummy, and Mom enjoyed her Reuben sandwich while Evan munched on PICKLES. T'liese had half a turkey sandwich and a soup that came in a bread bowl (meant for Evan, but he was too enthralled with a sour pickle to notice). Then we headed back to T'liese's house to let Evan nap and us visit. It was so nice to sit outside to enjoy the incredible weather. We were blessed with perfect temperatures all week long!

Thursday was shopping day. I met Mom, T'liese, and Evan at Dress Barn to help Mom find some new dresses. She ended up finding some skirts instead and topped it off with a few beautiful blouses. She is now ready for some summer church-attending! We grabbed lunch at Rosa's Mexican Restaurant not too far from my house. It was time to show Mom my new home for the first time! She was as excited to see it as I was to offer the tour. It's always fun to have someone so tickled with things as me. Now I know where I get it! Everyone left around 5:00 PM, and I spent the evening with my hubby.

Friday was our designated Bread Day! We met at T'liese's house so Mom could show us how to make a new, easy recipe for bread that creates enough dough for four loaves! We made two loaves of artisan spinach feta bread, one loaf of wheat bread, and one cinnamon loaf with buttered cinnamon sugar on top. I think we all know which one disappeared first! More time was spent enjoying the patio outside. T'liese and Joe have such a beautiful home, and we enjoyed sitting together inside and out to visit and (what else), snack on Easter candy. Later that evening, John met us at Joe's BBQ for dinner. Joe wasn't feeling well and stayed behind, but we had fun waiting in line for the best barbecue in town. I got the pulled pork baked potato and justified it because it's a vegetable! It was heavenly, and everyone enjoyed the dishes picked. The root beer cake was a disappointment, but we had candy as a backup at home. Phew! Mom came home with us to spend the weekend sleeping at our house. We sat around the table visiting until 1:00 AM! Lots to catch up on, apparently!

Saturday we woke up and had homemade bread for an early snack before heading to the Mesa Temple Visitor's Center to see the Walter Rane exhibit. Then it was on to Crackers Cafe, one of the best restaurants I've found in the valley! It was the first chance for the entire family to be together, and we had a blast. Babies enjoyed spending time together while adults visited and stuffed their faces. It was delicious! Then we went back to T'liese and Joe's house to enjoy a day of March Madness, visiting, cribbage, and naps. Dinner was served that evening after the grill was fired up. Yummy grilled chicken pitas with homemade tzaziki sauce. And it doesn't get much better than brownies and ice cream with homemade caramel for dessert! We finished the evening playing Battle of the Sexes, and I'm pretty sure the girls won. Thankfully, there were lots of airplane questions that we ladies were able to answer correctly! I don't know how!

Sunday was a day of rest. We slept in and then got ready for church at 11:30 AM. It was fun to have Mom attend church with us so I could show her off to my neighbors. I really like her, after all. We were home by 2:45 PM to get to finishing making dinner...Lettuce Chicken Wraps. Everything was so fresh and yummy and healthy! If you ignore the homemade strawberry lemonade, the meal couldn't have been any healthier. Just for the record, the lemonade had real strawberries in it. Does that counteract the robust slight amount of sugar added? Dinner was great, and everyone jumped up to help clear away the table and do dishes. It was nice to not have a dirty sink waiting for me when everyone left around 7:00 PM. I think we could call our first Patio Party using our new outdoor dining set a success!

Monday was the last morning that Mom spent at my house. Before we met up with T'liese and Evan, we ran to Arizona Mills Outlet Mall to find some new shoes for Mom at Nine West, one of her favorite shoe stores. We had success and found two cute pairs! Then we met T'liese and Evan in downtown Gilbert for some lunch at the Farmhouse, and it was delicious. Mom and I split two sandwiches and enjoyed them while T'liese ate biscuits and gravy. Evan ate anything and everything placed in front of him and even got to enjoy some of the homemade cinnamon roll we all shared for dessert. Then we spent the rest of the afternoon lounging around T'liese's house. Easter candy may have been involved once again.

Tuesday morning I received an invitation to breakfast at T'liese's house. It was an incredible Mexican casserole that she just had last month during her trip to Mexico. We all thoroughly enjoyed it! Then we watered the garden and enjoyed being outside for the last hour before Mom had to head back to the airport for her trip home. I dropped her off at 11:30 AM this morning, and she safely walked through her door at home at 6:30 this evening.

The week was wonderful. I can't even begin to describe what a neat lady my Mama is. I really like her. Having her in town for a whole week felt amazing, and I'm just glad I was here to enjoy it.

Thanks for coming, Mama!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Unintentionally, I've been a little Absent Without Leave this past few days. I would much rather stay up visiting with my Mama until 1:00 AM than blog pictures of all the fun we've been having!

Until I have a chance to upload all of those pictures, please enjoy these paintings from Walter Rane. We went to the Mesa Temple Visitor's Center to see the display, which has been all over the country. In fact, I saw it last year in Oakland when I was visiting for work. It was even better as I saw it this time with my family. The first picture is a photo of the temple in the Visitor's Center lobby, but all of the other pictures depict Rane's incredible artwork of the Savior and His people on the American continent. These are visual representations of the stories told in the Book of Mormon.

Aren't they gorgeous? If you get the chance to see the exhibit in person, I highly recommend. It's difficult to pick a favorite.

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