Monthly Archives: September 2010

Summer never ends

September’s almost over and there’s still weddings to attend and friends to visit. Summer activities aren’t slated to end until Christmas activities start up.

But, I guess that’s ok. The weekend is sometimes a welcome change from the monotony of the weekdays. Our days unfold in mostly the same way. We’ve been in this 30th floor apartment for 4 months and the newness is starting to wear off. Mocha helps us get out, and now we’ve started looking for new things to do, activities to get us off the couch and prevent us from getting too familiar with the current TV show lineup. M plays badminton on Friday nights, and I picked up 10 free passes to the gym next door with the plan to try to get past the intimidating Barbie-perfect women at the front desk and into a spinning class.

And, every so often, I take the time to find a good recipe, get to the grocery store, and start cooking before M comes back with Mocha from her after-work walk.

M wouldn’t admit it, but he’s a bit of a picky eater. It’s not that he won’t eat certain foods — actually, he’ll eat anything. But there’s not much he actually likes. He enjoys standards, foods that I get bored of pretty fast: spaghetti, chicken strips, pizza, hamburgers. Curry dishes are just ok, he could take or leave sweet potato, and stir fry will sustain him, but he won’t gobble up seconds.

This recipe, however, got a “pretty good”! Not a great, not an awesome. But he did reach for the leftovers Friday evening, something that is, more often than not, left up to me.

So, long story short. Try this.

Chicken Enchiladas

Adapted from Martha Stewart

3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 ounces each)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 to 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 splash chili sauce
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
6 Tortillas
1/2 cup grated cheese

Boil your chicken breasts. Doesn’t matter how you do it. Just get ’em nicely cooked. When cooked, shred using two forks. Set aside in a bowl.

While cooking the chicken breasts, start on your sauce. Add the vegetable oil to a sauce pan and heat over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until the garlic starts to brown. Add the flour and cumin, but have your barbecue sauce, ketchup and chili sauce ready. You don’t want your flour to burn like mine almost did. Add your sauces, mix and cook a couple seconds. It’s going to be thick and kind of pasty, so don’t leave it on its own too long. Add the chicken broth and whisk or stir until all the floury lumps have disappeared. Allow to boil and bubble. Your sauce will thicken and start to smell absolutely delightfully, thanks to that delicious cumin.

When the sauce has thickened up nicely, mix half of it with the chicken you set aside earlier. This is your filling. Pour the remaining sauce into a casserole dish.

Warm your tortillas in the microwave. For each tortilla, lay a line of filling down the centre of the tortilla. Fold the tortilla over the filling and roll. Place in the casserole dish on top of the sauce. Repeat with all the tortillas. Sprinkle your grated cheese over the tortillas. Be generous in this step: the more cheese, the better.

In a preheated, 400* oven, cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with a salad. Or some kind of other greens. Because there’s nothing green in these, or even vegetable-like, and, while I’m not an advocate of vegetarianism, I strongly believe in trying to get as many veggies as you can. So there.

Mm. Delicious.

Clean up before going to bed though. The sauce does not smell so appetizing the next morning when it has stuck itself to the side of the pans.

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Chicken Curry Stir Fry

The past couple weeks have been eventful. I got my first paycheque yesterday and, with a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, dropped it immediately into our chequing account.

One thing I miss about being unemployed/half employed is all the time in the world to plan and execute a delicious meal. For the past two months, while I was being interviewed, and then while I was settling into my new desk, into my two computers with three monitors, into a new chair, and a new environment, our cupboards remained unpleasantly bare. Every so often, we’d pick up a stack of frozen pizzas, a pile of Mr. Noodles, bagels, and red delicious apples, just enough to keep us going.

Now I’m comfortable enough at work to not feel bad about a little personal Internet use on my breaks. I’m back to reading my cooking blogs, my baking blogs, and drooling over delicious, beautiful pictures of food. I’m back to thinking about what we’re going to eat and having a meal plan ready before noon.

I have a lot of chicken to use up before it gets freezer burnt. Curry and chicken pretty much go hand-in-hand and, despite what my 10 year old self used to insist, stir fries are awesome. I kind of made this up myself. I had found a recipe on my work computer, but decided to leave it at home tonight and couldn’t find the recipe back when I tried to repeat the search. So, I made it up a bit.

The recipe is kind of sweet, kind of spicy, a lot of delicious. Also, easy, except for all the chopping. I suppose if you really want you could use frozen veggies, but I promise it would not be nearly as good.

Chicken Curry Stir Fry

2 small chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin, 2.5″ slices
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped or sliced
5 white mushrooms, chopped

Sauce:

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup mustard
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tbsp curry powder

In a splash of olive oil, saute the chicken pieces. Add the carrots and saute for a few minutes. Add the other vegetables and saute.

Meanwhile, mix together the four sauce ingredients. Taste and adjust amounts as necessary.  (I didn’t actually measure any of these ingredients. I just kind of threw approximates into a bowl, and it turned out deliciously.)

Add the sauce to your sautéed chicken and vegetables. Mix together and heat until the sauce bubbles.

Serve over your favourite starch. We had it with rice, but it would probably be tasty with noodles or even potatoes.

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Why I sometimes really hate retail:

Mrs. Pringle* called me yesterday at work.

Hello. This is Mrs. Pringle. P-R-I-N-G-L-E. I would like a $72 gift card sent to my daughter. Her address is…

I could barely get a word in as she spewed out her request with all the confidence of an old woman who has always gotten her way. Finally I interrupted. We don’t mail out gift cards. She would have to come in the store.

What do you mean she would have to come into the store? She doesn’t drive. She has no way to get to one of our stores. For a long moment, I was very sympathetic.

My sympathy quickly disappeared as she continued to berate me for 10 minutes. Why wouldn’t the company mail out gift cards? It doesn’t take much effort to address an envelope. She would even pay the postage! And she was perfectly willing to give her VISA number. Do you know how much business you’re losing? $72 is a lot of money! Surely she’s not the first one to have this request!

Ten minutes, the same complaint over and over again. And what can I do?

I’m very sorry. I will pass your comments on to my manager. If you’d like, we have a hotline —

I do not have internet! I cannot get to a store! Why wouldn’t you mail out? That’s just ridiculous!

I meant a hotline you can call…

I don’t want to call. I’m talking to you and telling you.

Five minutes. A line of customers growing at my till.

Three more times, she repeats her complaint before hanging up.  Insists I take her name (Mrs. Pringle. P-R-I-N-G-L-E.) and phone number, just in case a manager wants to talk to her about her complaint. I hang up exhausted.

It’s not that I think Mrs. Pringle’s request was ridiculous. I do have sympathy for older people who have difficulty getting around and must do as much as they can from within their home. But policies are policies and unfortunately, I get stuck enforcing them without having the power to work around them in order to make customers happy. Often, there is a work-around. Just not for lowly sales associates.

Of course, in Mrs. Pringles case, there is no work around. Does anyone know of a retail store that will sell a gift card over the phone and mail it to the person for whom it is intended?

My last day is tomorrow. I’m looking forward to escaping situations like this. But there are enough good things about retail, I think I’ll have to write another post about my three month experience.

* Name has been changed.

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