kid-friendly · Recipes

Salsa Verde Enchiladas

Every year I swear I’m going to talk about the weather less on this blog, and then the first mildly warm week rolls around, and all I can think about is how amazing it is that the sun makes people so much happier.

My birthday is Monday, and it’s always a toss-up as to whether it’ll be pleasant or dreary. I never grew up having outdoor birthday parties! Too unpredictable, as anyone with a late April Boston baby can attest.

I have a few traditions for my birthday every year. Get a pedicure (alone), make Mark take the day off if it falls on a weekend, and drag the whole family out for Mexican food. This year, it falls on a week day, and I have to spend it at the DMV of all places, but after that … AFTER that, we shall eat Mexican food.

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I’m the only one who really loves Mexican food in our house, although I’m gradually converting Georgia with tortilla chips, cheese and soft taco bread. (Are there people alive who don’t love those things? I don’t want to meet them).

This year, a new restaurant opened near us called 3 Amigos that I can’t wait to try. I was heartbroken when the former restaurant in that space, Fuloon, closed its doors suddenly in August. It was such a well-kept secret for excellent, spicy Sichuan cuisine! But 3 Amigos has gotten rave reviews in the short few weeks since its grand opening, and the cocktails sound to-die-for. They call themselves a tequila infusion bar; I’m not sure what that even means, but I am willing to test it out. I’ll report back my review!

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Sometimes, like a few weeks ago, I had a hankering for something Mexican when it wasn’t my birthday, so I whipped together this simple enchilada recipe and literally ate the whole thing myself: first for dinner one night, then for lunch the next three days in a row. It’s too good! I never got sick of it.

If your family doesn’t mind a little kick, this has medium spice and comes together very quickly — perfect for a weeknight. It’s even simpler if you pick up a rotisserie chicken and use that instead of boiling and shredding two chicken breasts, as I did. You can always dial down the heat by choosing a “mild” salsa instead of the Pace Salsa Verde I used (which is surprisingly complex for a mass market salsa brand — lots of garlic, lime and tomatillo hints in there!) Or, you can cook up the chicken and shred it one night, then save for dinner the next day. Once you have shredded chicken ready to go, this comes together fast and cooks for less than half an hour.


Salsa Verde Enchiladas

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 24-oz. jar salsa verde
  • 3/4 cup light cream or half-and-half
  • 4 TBSP (1/4 cup) sour cream
  • 1 package corn or flour tortillas (about 8, size depending)
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1.5 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mix the light cream and sour cream in a bowl with the salsa and stir to combine. Set aside 1 cup of this mixture to pour in the bottom of the baking dish later. To the remaining salsa/cream mixture, add the shredded chicken and stir until coated.

Start by pouring about half the reserved salsa mixture into the bottom of a your baking dish; spread into a thin, even layer. Set aside the rest for the top.

Taking a tortilla in your hand, scoop a spoonful of the chicken mixture in and roll to close, placing in the baking dish seam side down. Repeat until the dish is full.

Pour the rest of the reserved salsa mixture on top of the tortillas, then top with the shredded cheese.

Bake for 25 minutes until the cheese bubbles, or up to 5 minutes longer if it’s isn’t browning and crispy at the edges. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • I used Pace Salsa Verde, which is medium heat; you can substitute any green salsa. Pace is sold at Target, where I shop weekly, and their salsa comes in the right 24-ounce size I needed for this recipe. If you buy a smaller jar, buy two.
  • You can sub in 1 full cup of half and half if you don’t like sour cream.
  • You can use corn or flour tortillas, and they can be any size; I’ve made this with a dozen of the smaller rounds, and about 8-10 of the larger tortillas.
  • I boiled and shredded my own chicken breasts, but it’s even faster if you pick up a rotisserie chicken; or, you can buy packaged shredded chicken at Trader Joe’s and Wegman’s; or, you can hit a salad bar and buy already-shredded chicken, sold by the pound.
  • In these pictures, I had taco blend shredded cheese on hand, so that’s what I used. It looks and tastes even better if you grate a block of white Monterey Jack cheese. You can also buy this pre-shredded from Sargento at Target!
  • I haven’t tried doing it this way, but I bet these would taste good if you put some more of the cheese inside each tortilla as well as on top. If you try that, let me know! Sounds delectably gooey.

Recipe adapted from Everyday Reading.


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Notoriously hard to photograph, I promise you these enchiladas are more delicious to eat than they are to look at. I love having these with a heaping side of guacamole or sour cream, and topped with fresh cilantro (another thing nobody else in my house will eat!)

If you want to shred your own chicken, here’s how to do it. 

  1. Pat the chicken dry and then season on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large stockpot (I used this one) place the chicken in the bottom and cover with an inch or two of water, then bring to a boil. Lower heat to a rolling simmer and cover.
  3. Cook over medium heat for about 12 minutes or no longer than 14 minutes; you can test the temperature with a meat thermometer, and they should read 165°F.
  4. Remove to a cutting board or clean plate and shred. I find this is easier to do when they are still hot, so I shred right away and then store in an airtight glass container for when I’m going to cook them, always within 24 to 48 hours. I use two forks and just tear in opposite directions, pulling the meat into shreds of whatever size I like to use.

Poaching chicken is a great way to keep the meat moist and full of flavor. The leftover poaching liquid can be re-purposed as a stock/base for soup, and you can add other aromatics to the water to complement the ultimate recipe you’re using the chicken in, such as onions, garlic, bay leaves, whole peppercorns, ginger, even wine.

Happy meal prepping this weekend, and let me know how you like this one!

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Books · Boston Day Trip · Grow Your Own Way · kid-friendly

Six great Earth Day books

It’s Earth Day this Sunday, and don’t you wish it actually felt like spring in New England so we could get in the proper Earth Day spirit?

Alas, it’s cold and windy here, and it actually snowed yesterday. So we are going to celebrate Earth Day in a cozier fashion, all curled up at home with a few of our favorite Earth-themed books.

Last weekend, Georgia and I had a great library haul after the first day of soccer. We picked up a couple of these books, and the others we are lucky enough to own. You can order the Usborne books on Amazon (without Prime) or via their website, unless of course you have a friend who sells Usborne books.

All the Water in the World This has gorgeous illustrations and an engaging, unusual tone as it teaches children all about where water comes from … and where does it go? Georgia loves how the narrator calls her “honey” on a few pages! It’s simple enough to learn something meaningful while enjoying the beautiful painted pictures.

Above and Below This is one of my favorite Usborne books. All their offerings are top quality, but this one has such a great feature: it offers a split-page layout that gives readers a behind the scenes look at each wildlife illustration. Depicting eight of the world’s habitats, from the rainforest to the deep sea, children learn about the diverse ecosystems of our planet, from plants to animals and everything in between.

Thank you, Earth This is a classic for a good reason! Amazing photographs explore the beauty and complexity of the world all around us, with whimsical verses about nature, science, and the workings of our magnificent environment. It’s engaging for multiple age levels and is simply beautiful to look through.

The Bee Book Filled with great information about how honey bees work, and what human beekeepers do to care for them, this book gives a digestible and gradual exploration of why bees are so important to our environment. While many children know bees can sting, I find they almost always understand, too, that they they are incredibly hard workers in the world of the outdoors. This book shows through beautiful pictures and simple words just how brilliant bees are, and how their hard work helps put food on all the tables of people across the Earth.

How Do Flowers Grow? Boy do we love flap books! This is no exception. With adorable illustrated pictures that appeal to preschoolers and enough interesting facts to fascinate older readers, this is a book that can be enjoyed together or independently for elementary aged children. I love buying books like this before Georgia is quite ready for them, because we can page through them together so she understands a few things, and then it’s nice to see her happily look it over on her own, too. She immediately connected the information in the book to her preschool lessons about how plants grow, and always tells us she can’t wait to get started on our family garden after reading this.

The Curious Garden When we first started picking out books at the library last weekend, Georgia was SO thrilled to see this one in our pile because it’s her favorite for story time at school. And it warms my little urban-planning heart! It shows a young child exploring a gray, smoggy city devoid of any greenery. One day, he discovered some fledgling plants on an old train trestle, and he starts nurturing a garden by himself, little by little — until one day the whole city is vibrant again. What a difference it makes to take care of our Earth and all her living things! And to think that children can make a difference in doing this, too — maybe even better than grown-ups.

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If you’re in town this weekend, there’s an Earth Day Agricultural festival Sunday at the Boston Public Market, and the Freedom Trail Foundation just expanded their tour schedule for the season! What’s Earth-friendlier than walking?? If lounging is more your speed, the Swan Boats have also just opened up for the year in the Public Garden, and Eataly  is offering a “tasting by sustainable producers” event as part of their Earth Day at Eataly lineup in Back Bay. Come enjoy a car-free, green day in the city!

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Boston Day Trip · kid-friendly · Uncategorized

April Vacation @ Boston Public Market

Looking for something to do while schools are closed across New England next week? In addition to the Marathon on Monday, there’s lots going on at the Public Market this entire next week. Maybe we will bump into you! Nothing is better than spring in Boston. Learn more at BostonPublicMarket.org.

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