Sunday, December 14, 2008

Family Fun in San Diego!

Derrick is a home 23, I am so proud of him! My parents flew in from Chicago for the weekend to help him with the move. Mom is just about the most organized person on the planet, so it is awesome to have her in your corner for events like this! Terry and I drove down from Orange County to San Diego after school on Thursday so that we could see everyone. We all went out to a local spot to watch the Bears play the Saints, there is NOTHING like watching a Bears game with Dad! It was a very fun, quick trip, it was amazing to see my family. It isn't so hard to say goodbye when you know you will be on a plane on your way to see them the next week!


Terry and Derrick having a beer at the sports bar.

Me and Dad, cheering on da' Bears!

Me and my little bro hanging in his new house!

Me and Mom, I wish I could hug her every day, hopefully some day she will be out here in CA!

Terry and I in our Bears gear.

Terry and I with the pups, Cal, Figgins and Halo!

Me and my baby boy Halo.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Breakfast Tortilla Strata

Sitting down to a relaxing weekend breakfast is something I cherish. I am not sure if it is because I have such limited time for breakfast during the week, or if it is the nostalgia of Sunday morning breakfasts with my family. Dad would make the bacon, mom would make the eggs, they would toast up English muffins and we would all share breakfast together at the table…those were truly special times at the Smets house. Lately I have been looking for make-ahead breakfasts so that I can relax with a cup of coffee in front of the fire with Terry and the pups instead of making a mess in the kitchen. While I was reading the “Hits and Misses” post on the Cooking Light Bulletin Board I found that nylucy4 had rated Cooking Lights Breakfast Tortilla Strata, posted by Bobmark, as excellent. Terry and I prefer to start off our day with a healthy breakfast, and CL rarely lets us down. On Saturday, while all the boys were at the UCLA vs USC football game, I prepared this meal so that we could enjoy it Sunday morning…I figured Terry might be moving a little slow…

Breakfast Tortilla Strata

Adapted from Cooking Light

Serving Size : 6


1 cup bottled salsa

1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained

10 (6 inch) corn tortillas, cut in 1-inch strips

cooking spray

1 cup (4 ounces) preshredded reduced-fat Mexicanblend or Monterey Jack cheese, divided

1 cup low-fat sour cream

1 cup fat-free milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2 large egg whites

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions


Combine salsa and beans in a bowl.

Place 1/3 of the tortills strips in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with 1/3 cup cheese and about 1 cup salsa mixture.

Repeat procedure with 1/3 of tortilla strips, 1/3 cup cheese, and remaining salsa mixture; top with remaining tortilla strips.

Combine sour cream and next 4 ingredients (sour cream through egg whites); stir with a whisk. Stir in onions. Pour over tortilla strips; sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese.

Cover and chill 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Remove dish from refrigerator. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Cover and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

292 cal, 9.2g fat, 17.7g pro, 36.5g carb, 93mg chol, 755mg sod.


Black beans, after being rinsed with cold water in a strainer.

The combined rinsed black beans and salsa mixture.

Tortillas, cut into inch strips.

The first layer of tortillas, layed into an 11 by 7 inch pan coated with cooking spray.

The first layer of 1/3 cup cheese, sprinkled over the tortilla layer.

The first layer of the black bean and salsa mixture.

Two eggs, two egg whites, salt, sour cream and milk in a mixing bowl.

Whisked egg mixture.

1/4 cup of chopped green onion added to egg mixture.

Egg and green onion mixture poured over tortilla strips.

Breakfast Tortilla Strata covered before refrigerating for 8 hours to overnight.

Breakfast Tortilla Strata after refrigeration, sitting out for 10 minutes before baking.

Breakfast Tortilla Strata after baking at 350 for 20 minutes covered by tin foil.

Thank you to nylucy4 for reviewing this dish, if not for her, I wouldn’t have found my new favorite savory breakfast. The Breakfast Tortilla Strata is outstanding, I have never had an egg based breakfast dish without meat that was so satisfying. Terry didn’t even miss the meat, which was a concern of mine when choosing to try this recipe. Having just bought a huge package of flour tortillas, I subbed them for the corn. Besides that, the only change that I made was in the cooking time. Keep in mind that my oven runs cooler for some reason, but I had to cook this an additional ten minutes, uncovered, past the allotted time. This was sure worth the wait, the salsa adds a kick and the black beans round out the flavors. It is not too “eggy” which can throw me off. Kevin dropped by Sunday morning and was also a fan. Leftovers of Breakfast Tortilla Strata are just as good if not better than the dish right out of the oven. I urge you to try this meal, you will have a new wonderful option for Sunday morning breakfast!!


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Dogs in Sweaters!!!

The weather is getting cooler and we find ourselves building fires, bundling up in warm clothes and cuddling under blankets. I know that Figgins and Halo have built in fur coats, however, our tile really gets chilly in the winter months. Because I am a good puppy mom, I ordered them some sweaters. They look adorable, and enjoy wearing them. I know many of you don’t believe that they really like wearing clothes, but I promise you that they do.

On Thanksgiving we wanted them to wear their shirts over to Uncle Mark, Aunt Stacy, and Jake’s house. Figgins saw the shirts as I was on my way to the garage to throw them in the dryer to fluff them up. He started barking at me and jumping up at his shirt because he wanted it on so badly. He waited by the door to the garage (barking like a psycho the entire time) until I went back in and retrieved the shirts. He sat patiently while I put it on him and then walked proudly around the house. It is almost strange to me how much he likes wearing dog clothes. Halo isn’t exactly quite as enthusiastic, but he and Figgy are a team, so he sports his too!


Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde

Terry has been craving my Mexican Rice and I am always craving his guacamole, so I needed to find a great main dish as a vehicle for our favorite sides. I was originally going to make the Black Bean and Chicken Enchiladas that are always a hit, but then I remembered the recipe that my best friend Christy had made for me over the summer. She prepared Cooking Light’s Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde, and they knocked my socks off! They were creamy and rich, due to the addition of light cream cheese. I decided to see if I could replicate my friend’s dish, she is an excellent cook and I was excited to see how my version would turn out.

Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde

Julianna Grimes Bottcher, Cooking Light, APRIL 2006

“A squeeze of lime juice brightens the flavor of this hearty Mexican dish. The enchiladas are mild, so serve with hot sauce, if desired. If you can't find queso fresco, use 1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese or Monterey Jack with jalapeƱo peppers. Total time: 45 minutes.”


  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (7-ounce) bottle salsa verde (such as Herdez brand)
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
  • 1/3 cup (3 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled queso fresco
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 4 lime wedges
  • Cilantro sprigs (optional)


Preheat oven to 425°.

Combine first 4 ingredients in a blender; process until smooth. Combine chicken and cream cheese in a large bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup salsa mixture. Reserve remaining salsa mixture.

Bring broth to a simmer in a medium skillet. Working with one tortilla at a time, add tortilla to pan; cook 20 seconds or until moist, turning once. Remove tortilla; drain on paper towels. Spoon about 1/4 cup chicken mixture down center of tortilla; roll up. Place tortilla, seam-side down, in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining tortillas, broth, and chicken mixture.

Pour remaining salsa mixture over enchiladas; sprinkle evenly with queso fresco and chili powder. Bake at 425° for 18 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve with lime wedges. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.

Servings: 4

Nutritional Information

Calories:327 (26% from fat)

Fat:9.5g (sat 4.4g,mono 2.9g,poly 1.3g)








Yum, yum, YUM!! I really enjoyed these Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde. I have been experimenting lately with making a lot of my own sauces; this was unnecessary in this case because the addition of the cilantro to the bottled salsa verde took it to another level. After mixing the cream cheese, salsa and shredded chicken together, Terry couldn’t stop picking at it. The filling is truly flavorful. I was intrigued by the preparation method for the tortillas, never having worked that way before. Dipping each tortilla into warm chicken broth may seem like a tedious task, but it is well worth the trouble. This method caused the tortillas to become pliable and almost sticky, holding tight to the filling, not allowing any of it to drop out during the transfer to the pan. Towards the end of the cooking time my cheese did not brown up in the way that I wanted so I ran it under the broiler for a few minute and it came out exactly as I had hoped. Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde is a definite repeater and will be made often, it is a nice creamy change from my usual enchilada recipe. I would recommend trying this recipe and pairing it with my Mexican Rice, mix yourself up a bowl of guacamole, and if you are like Terry and me, you will be in heaven!