Tuesday, February 26, 2013

cheesy chicken enchilada casserole

Chicago has had a pretty mild winter this year so far. Today, however, was an exception.

The wind blew hard and the rain and snow fell fiercely and uncontrollably. It created a big mess outdoors--slipping and sliding, not being able to see in front of you. I was thankful to make it inside my apartment. To celebrate my success (which wasn't really a success at all), I changed in my pajamas, watched the snow fall, and decided the evening was made for comfort food.

My pick for the evening?

Cheesy chicken enchilada casserole. 

Oh goodness so good. I forget how easy casserole dishes are until I finally make one. Then I remember how much I love them. It's a beautiful relationship really.

This doesn't take long at all to make and you won't regret adding it to your cycle of meals.

Cheese Chicken Enchilada Casserole

What You Need
1 lb. ground chicken
1/2 onion, diced
taco seasoning
2 cups of frozen corn, thawed slightly by heating in the microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute
1 4 oz. can of diced green chiles
1/2 tomato, diced
2 squeezes of lime juice
2 squeezes of lemon juice
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained 
small corn tortillas (8)
1 can of red enchilada sauce
Mexican shredded cheese, approximately 1 and 1/2 cups
optional: lettuce, sour cream, guacamole 

Take diced onion and place it in a saute pan over medium heat. As onion begins to caramelize add salt, oregano, taco seasoning, and ground chicken. Cook until all the meat has been thoroughly cooked through.

While the onion and chicken cook, prepare homemade salsa. Combine corn, diced green chiles, tomato, lime juice, and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Add a pinch of cilantro.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and grab a medium sized baking dish. Begin the layering/casseroling process!

Spread a layer of the meat mixture to coat the bottom of the dish. 

Next, add a layer of black beans. 

Then, add a layer of the homemade corn salsa. 

Next, dunk both sides of a corn tortilla in the red enchilada mix (like you would do if you were going to make enchiladas proper) and lay tortilla on top. Dip a total of 4 corn tortillas to cover the casserole mixture so far. 

Placing the enchilada sauce in a large food storage container worked perfectly.

Top with Mexican shredded cheese. Repeat until all ingredients have been used. *We went with a smaller baking dish and did a total of 2 layers. 

Once casserole layers are complete, sprinkle cilantro on top. 

Place in the oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese melts. Serve with lettuce, sour cream, or guacamole on top. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

diy washer necklace

After a week and a half of traveling for work and doing creative things for other people (seriously, I love my job), I finally have recuperated and can do creative things for myself. This past weekend I ventured in the world of diy washer necklaces:

Gorgeous! I first saw the idea as a gift for bridesmaids on a wedding blog. I fell in love and began searching Pintrest and found so many ideas and styles. I saw single washer necklaces, necklaces that used many of the same sized washer, and triangular-shaped washer necklaces. All were lovely. I created my own look, but the step-by-step process really works the same.

Here's how I made this beauty:

You'll need washers (I bought a variety of sizes from the hardware store), ribbon, nail polish (for painting!), and any extras (in my case my hot glue gun and a rhinestone). 

I took a roll of ribbon and messed around with the length of it so I knew where I would want it to hang. Add a bit of extra length for the amount of ribbon that will loop through the washers. Snip the ribbon to the length you'd like. I spent a bit of time with the plain washers figuring out how I wanted the necklace to hang. After figuring out the style I liked, I picked out the polishes I wanted to use. 

I love a sparkley polish I have that has purple, blue, aqua, and silver flecks in it. I came up with a pattern and got to painting. I loved the way nail polish went on and looked when it dried. Perfectly smooth and shiny. 

The above photo shows how I've already gone through the process of looping the washers through. This really was trial and error, but the photo below (from another lovely blog - click the photo to be directed to it) is a great visual for the step-by-step process. 

In terms of the style I created, here's how it's done. 
1. Start with the smallest washer (or the washer you want at the top of the pendant piece). Begin by threading the ribbon through the the washer.
2. Take the second washer and thread the ribbon over the top of it and through it. 
3. Take the end of the ribbon sticking out the bottom of the second washer and thread it through the first washer.
4. Pull the ribbon tight, which creates the overlapping pattern. 
5. Repeat this process with the remaining washers in the order you would like them to hang from top to bottom. 

To finish the necklace off, do not pull the ribbon that it sticking out of the fourth washer into the third. If you did that the string of washers wouldn't lay flat. Instead, trim the ribbon so it just wraps around to lay on the top of the looped ribbon. Use a hot glue gun to adhere the end of the ribbon to the top of the piece. Add your desired embellishments while the hot glue gun is handy.  

I chose to go with a pendant kind of style, so I took the ribbon at the top of my necklace and created a loop that ribbon could thread through. I just trimmed the ribbon and used the hot glue gun to seal it. Once that is done, you're pretty much done. 

I chose to use the same silver ribbon to thread through the loop, but I can certainly mix and match other ribbon colors for a bolder look. 

I chose to leave the ribbon length long. Depending on the top I wear the necklace with, I might want to adjust the length of the necklace or where it falls on my body. Because the washers are light-weight, a simple bow on the back of the neck will keep things held up well. 

Now that I've created one relatively inexpensively, easily, and quickly, I've got plans for a few other designs I mentioned earlier where I gained my inspiration. I see lots of nail polish, beads, and a paper/sealant in my  future. That makes this craft deprived gal very happy!