7 QT: The tail end of summer

The last couple weeks of summer have just whizzed right past. I’m hoping we can still eek out a little summer, I love fall and have twice caught myself thinking about where I would put Christmas decorations in our new house. But really, winter can wait.

1 – Two weekends ago I drove back to western PA. Friday and Saturday we had a girls’ getaway for the Anzaldi cousins at Conneaut lake. All the food was delish, but my two favorites were both made by Tricia: Sarasota Lemonade and S’mores Pizza. We played Spin-the-Nailpolish and Blindfold Make-up Application. The results were pretty amazing, as you can see.Conneaut Collage2 – My sister wasn’t able to come to the lake because she was busy traveling the wild west on the trip of a lifetime. Kelly called Saturday and I put her on speaker phone to say hi to everyone. Well she completely surprised us all because it turns out she called to tell us she and Ryan got engaged on Friday at Rainbow Bridge in Utah! And we thought it was exciting that Ryan had gotten on the Price is Right the week before (airs Nov 3). Ha, story topper!

3 – Sunday was my cousin Lisa’s baby shower. It was great to see more of the family and celebrate our next addition to the family. I can’t wait to meet the little guy this winter! My Grandma N. gave me her favorite baby hoody pattern, which was my late Gram A.’s. So I tried my hand at the pattern, a la Steel City pride. I wanted to make some coordinating booties. I like the pattern, but sadly the sizing was off. Both the hoody pattern and the booty pattern were supposed to be sized for six months, but the booties look more like 10-12 months. Does anyone have a tried-and-true booty pattern for a 5-6-month-old baby?

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4 – The next weekend was Labor Day and Kelly and Ryan came out to visit and we had such a blast. Saturday we went to a German festival. We hung out with some old friends and when they left we made some new friends: Jenna, Ruthie, and Rochelle. Our new friends brought the party including festive tablecloth, Cards against Humanity and fake mustaches. Plenty of beer and hilarity ensued.
German Park
5 – Detroit’s Jazz Festival is Labor Day weekend and is F-R-E-E. Definitely worth the trip into Detroit. We spent about 8 h in Detroit Sunday and Chris insists that next year he is going all three days. I’m not sure if I can handle it, but the one day was great. There were 3-4 stages set up on the riverfront and extending to Greektown. Everything was an easy walk, there were lots of booths, vendors, and people, but not much green space to set up our blanket on. Eventually we found an open mound of dirt/grass in a parking lot that was definitely the best place to chill for a few hours in the evening. We got my favorite baklava at Astoria’s and gyros and flaming cheese at a hole in the wall in Greektown. We also found the fanciest bathrooms in Detroit (Greektown Casino Hotel) and free, safe parking (Greektown Casino). Kelly was scared for a brief moment when she saw police lights ahead, right on our path to the parking garage at the end of the night. But it was just the border patrol and an American mountie. Overall, it was a major win for our second time venturing into the big city.

Kelly@DetroitJazzFest

As seen on the Instagram. Later in the day I was like, “Oh, this picture is way cooler than I first realized!” #notthatartsy

6 – We broke in our brand new LP grill (thanks Mom and Dad!) on Labor Day. Kelly and I made a kick-butt pasta salad (use half the sugar) and the three meats turn out perfect thanks to Grillmaster Chris. It was the first time we had Michigan friends over to hang out at our abode and we can’t wait for more to come!

Labor day picnic
7 – Labor day marked the end to my summer swimming pass. I loved swimming under the evening sun and I can’t wait to do it again next year. I’m going to pull back on the swimming for the next couple months because I’m not sure how easy it will be for me to use public transportation to get across town to the indoor pool. ANNNNDDDD my custom orthotics have come in and I’m going to start running again! Perfect timing as the temperature starts to drop. My friend Brittany and I always used to comment on how great fall is for runners because it makes you feel like you are so awesome and fast, when really it’s just the cooler temps helping you out. So far I ran two miles, once. The run felt great, but oh, my quads were S-O-R-E. And this is why it’s so good to cross-train.

Really there’s more to share, but I’m going to keep it light on words and heavy on pictures so I can link up with Jenna‘s tl;dr and Jen‘s 7 Quick Takes.

Sweet and Spicy Ginger Beer

Ginger Beer Infographic

One of the brews that have been keeping us happy this summer is a recipe I stumbled upon awhile ago, pinned on Pinterest, and then promptly lost amongst ALL THE RECIPES I’d like to try.

About a month ago I got a couple infuser pitchers that were seasonal at Costco. I was so excited that I came home and immediately searched through my saved drink recipes to find the perfect one to christen the pitchers. I rediscovered this one and have made ginger beer weekly since then. It’s quick and easy and actually you don’t need an infusion pitcher so I really didn’t need to wait until I finally got an infusion pitcher. C’est la vie.

So here’s how to make this heavenly nectar:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. fresh ginger – on sale for 99¢/lb at Kroger
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 C granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp yeast  – source says champagne yeast, but I’ve used my bread yeast and it’s still delicious
  • 2 quarts boiling water – a little less to leave room for the ginger in the container

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Step 1:  Rinse dirt off ginger, chop coarsely, and add ginger either directly to your container or to the infuser basket.

Step 2: Add 2 C granulated sugar to pitcher.

Step 3: Slice lemon and squeeze into pitcher.

If you are doing this infuser-style, I recommend squeezing the lemon into the infuser basket held over the container to strain out the seeds and then drop the spent rinds into the infuser basket. If you are just using a regular pitcher just squeeze the rinds and drop them into the pitcher seeds and all. You’ll be straining it later.

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Loaded and ready to go.

Step 4: Pour in the boiling water, invert the pitcher to dissolve the sugar and then loosen the lid.

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50 bonus points to the first person to guess what’s on TV.

 

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Note my humongo jar of baker’s yeast (thanks, mom!), thus the lack of motivation to go buy champagne yeast.

Step 5: Cool until you can touch the pitcher comfortably.

Step 6: Sprinkle 1 tsp yeast into the mixture and let it incubate on the counter for a day.

I cover mine with a towel to keep the yeast in the dark and happy.

Step 7: Remove infuser basket or strain out the ginger and lemon through a strainer.

The longer you let it ferment the stronger the ginger flavor.

Step 8: Cap container tightly and store in the fridge.

I think the most common drink people use ginger beer for is dark and stormies. But we’re not that fancy. We drink it straight or with gin.

Enjoy the bubbly! 

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BTW Chris requested this post, so you can thank him! 🙂

American Chicken Enchiladas

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This is a family favorite. I can’t tell you how many times I have made these chicken enchiladas for us and our friends. These are very Americanized, especially since we like them crispy rather than soggy. The original recipe is from Allrecipes and you can find it here. However, over time I’ve found the tweaks that make this recipe AWESOME. And here’s how it’s done at Casa de la Mike. Follow along to the bottom for a few other notes from moi.

1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped green onions (or just 1 bunch)
4 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
2 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles
2 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt, use less if it’s a thinner yogurt)
5-6 large frozen chicken breasts, shredded
2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
12 (medium) white flour tortillas (Mission Brand, because these don’t crack like ALDI brand)
1/4 cup milk
Optional Seasonings
1.5 t cumin
1/4 t Slap Ya Mama hot creole seasoning (or red pepper)
1/4 t nutmeg
1. Load your chicken breasts in the slow cooker. Cook on high 2-3 h or low 3-8 h.
2. The chicken should pretty much fall apart at this point. I shred it on a cutting board with a fork, or cut it with a knife if I have to.
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Pre-heat oven to 350*F and spray a 11″x14″ pan with canola oil.
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3. Saute your green onions for a couple minutes and then add in the garlic for a minute or two more.
4. Add in the 2 cans of diced chiles, 2 cans of cream of chicken soup, and sour cream.
5. Season as desired. I wrote in the seasonings I typically use (estimated amounts!) to give you some direction. Season, taste, and adjust to your preference.
6. Remove 1/4th of the sauce (opposite of Allrecipes!).
7. Add the chicken and 1.5 C of shredded cheddar.
8. Fill the tortillas and load them seam down in the greased pan.
9. Add 1/4 C milk to the filling you set aside and mix it to thin it out. Spoon this over your rolled enchiladas. Sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese.
10. Bake at 350*F for 30-35 min.
Enjoy!
P1010532Chris taking a siesta while waiting for the enchiladas to be ready.
P.S. Put your leftover green onion bulbs in a glass of water on a sunny window sill. Change the water once a week and you’ll have enough green onions to make this recipe again in 3-4 weeks!
P.P.S. Oh, my suggested seasonings – I told you this was American Enchiladas. Why not put Greek, Cajun, and nutmeg in a Mexican dish? Actually, the Greek Seasoning, Slap Ya Mama, and nutmeg are my triumvirate of secret ingredients. However, to be clear, they do not usurp Salt, Pepper and Garlic powder, which are like the Holy Trinity of spices (i.e. in the essence of EVERYTHING). You’ll see these guys reappear over and over again in my recipes.