Friday, August 30, 2013

Food: Minsky's Kitchen: Green Enchiladas

Green enchiladas are something I have been making for years for my family, friends and even co-workers. It is a blend of my mother’s recipe and some additional changes that I have added over the years. They are my second favorite meal and the first meal I made for my husband shortly after we met. He likes to joke that it only took one bite of my green enchiladas to make him fall in love with me.
Most of the time I fill them with chicken, which is the recipe I have shared below, but when we are in the mood for a meatless dish I like to roast a head of cauliflower and fill the enchiladas with sweet roasted pieces of cauliflower instead of chicken.
 



A couple great things about this recipe is that it makes many enchiladas and is a great meal to make for company.  I always have enough leftovers for my husband and I to eat for lunch the next day. The steamed rice is such a quick side dish to prepare and goes great with the salsa verde. I hope you and your family like it as much as we do.
Prep Work:
2 bone-in chicken breasts                    
Onion cut in half                                                                 
Garlic clove                           
3 tablespoons of salt                       
1/3 cup of canola oil 

6 corn tortillas

1 Avocado sliced                         
 
For Salsa Verde:
16-20 Tomatillos
 1 medium jalapeno
 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
 5 tablespoons of cilantro leaves
3 Teaspoons of salt         



Cheese Filling and Topping:                                        
One package of Cacique Ranchero Cheese or         
a cheese of your liking for example Monterey Jack   
6-8 green onions         

Rice:

2 Cups of rice

4 Cups of Water

2 teaspoons of garlic salt                      


In a large stock pot, place chicken, onion and garlic and fill with water so that it covers the chicken by 1 inch. Add 3 tablespoons of salt. Bring pot to boil over medium heat. Lower to simmer and cook for 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Take chicken breast off the bone and shred with your hands. Pour 1/4 cup of cooking liquid in a bowl and place chicken in the bowl so that chicken will stay moist. Set aside.
 

Take cheese out so it can get soft.
Peel and rinse the tomatillos and jalapeño. Place in a small pot with enough water to cover the tomatillos and jalapeno.  Add the garlic and 2 teaspoons of salt. Simmer for 8-10 minutes until the tomatillos are soft and cooked through. Let it cool for 8 minutes. Once it has cooled, remove 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and set aside.  Remove the jalapeno from the pot and cut in half. Drain the pot and place tomatillos, garlic, cilantro, half of the jalapeño, 1/4 cup of cooking liquid and 1 teaspoon of salt in a blender. Blend to sauce consistency. Taste for seasoning and spice. If you would like it spicier add more jalapeño and blend some more. You may need more salt as well.  

With a fork, mash the cheese and place in a bowl, or if you are using shredded cheese just place in the bowl. Dice the green onions, whites and some green parts too. Save 2 tablespoons of the onions and put the rest in the bowl with the cheese.
Place rice in a rice cooker, add water and one tablespoon of garlic salt. Cook rice as needed in cooker.
To prepare enchiladas, place oil in a small sauté pan and warm up to a low simmer. Place one tortilla in oil and fry for 30-40 seconds until lightly toasted. Place tortilla in salsa verde and moisten both sides. Place tortilla on a plate and fill halfway with chicken and cheese. Roll tortilla to look like a burrito. Repeat until you have desired amount of enchiladas. Top with salsa, cheese and green onions.
Serve along with rice topped with avocados, salsa verde and green onions.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Food: Chicken Soup Minsky Style


Fall time is closely approaching and with that comes the unfortunate cold and flu season. I like to prep my family for this season by taking vitamins and also eating lots of nutrient rich fruits and vegetables. Chicken noodle soup is a great combination of both. This soup is loaded with yummy veggies that even my picky three year old son, Tristan, loves.
When I started writing this blog I was going to use my mom's chicken soup recipe (no noodles in her soup) that I grew up on and have made many times. However, it just so happened that as I was starting to write this blog one of my favorite cooking shows came on, Barefoot Contessa with Ina Garten, and she was making chicken noodle soup. I immediately got inspired. I had just made my recipe and while it was fresh in my mind I decided to make Ina's and compare our recipes. I wrote a new recipe which incorporates the best of both and wrote my new chicken noodle soup recipe for you guys.  
Ina’s recipe suggested for the stock to be made from scratch or boxed stock. I was and am very disappointed by the fact that you have to throw away all the veggies when you make stock from scratch. I felt like it was a waste. This is the reason I have never made my own stock. However, the stock adds a great flavor to the soup so I decided to use a boxed stock, and thus my first change. Adding the noodles is also a new thing. I did not grow up with noodle soup, my mom instead loaded our soup with veggies but I think the noodles or pasta are a must. My son loves pasta and having it with his veggies makes him happy. I prefer the flavor of semolina pasta to egg noodles but both work great. I decided to keep all the veggies from my recipe and I think the more veggies the better plus it fills the house with a yummy aroma. I also added cauliflower because my husband really likes it. I was surprised to see that Ina did not have onions or garlic in her recipe. It must be because she uses stock for her base and I use water. I will use all three in my recipe. I also did something different that was not included in either recipe before, I added celery leaves to the bowl and I really like the bright flavor it adds.
One of the fun things about cooking is that no one recipe is right. You can cook with what ingredients you have at hand or can find and then modify to your preference. It is nice to create a meal you and your family love and is a winner at the dinner table every time. My husband and son both loved the rich taste of veggies in this recipe and I love that its easy to make and a great healthy meal for them. I hope that you and your family will also enjoy.
---
2 chicken breasts bone-in, skinless
1 quart boxed chicken stock
1 onion cut in half
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons of salt
2 ears of corn, cut in half
1 cup carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups of medium potatoes, cut in fourths
1 cup of zucchini squash, cut in 1/2 inch rounds
2 cups of cauliflower
1 cup chopped celery
2 cups of pasta
2 tablespoons of cilantro or parsley based on preference
1 lemon cut in fourths for flavor
2 tablespoons of celery leaves or parsley
Put the chicken, stock, onion, garlic and salt in a large stock pot with 4 quarts of water. Bring to boil and cook for 10 minutes. Add corn, carrots, potatoes, squash, cauliflower and celery. Reduce to a low simmer as pot may simmer over. Cook for 15 minutes with the lid partially on. Add pasta and cilantro. Cook until pasta is done 10-13 minutes, varies by box. Taste for seasoning. You may need to add more salt. Serve with a lemon wedge and top with celery leaves or parsley.
Side Notes:
**Using chicken breasts with the bone-in is the preferred method because the meat will stay soft and flavorful.
**Before you serve, you can remove 3 cups of the liquid and save it to use as a stock. It is basically a stock because it has been cooked with all of the flavor from the vegetables and chicken. You can freeze it or keep in the fridge for up to a week.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Welcoming Minsky's Kitchen


I started this blog a year ago, but I always felt something was missing. Well I found it in my good friend Cynthia's kitchen. Please help me welcome Cynthia Minsky to the Mothers of the Valley blog.

Hi everyone I am Cynthia. This moment is a long time coming. I have been wanting to get into the blog world for a few years now and have been given the opportunity by my good friend Lety. I will bring my passion for cooking to our blog with a section titled Minsky's Kitchen along with topics I am passionate about. Please stay tuned for my first hot item right from my kitchen... Chicken Noodle Soup Minsky style.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Hot Spot: Stroller Theft Alert

 As I was sitting at my daughter's dance class I started looking through various parenting magazines. I came across a clip on stolen strollers. It made me think of a story from last year that made headlines. Two women were targeting mothers with strollers at the Orange County swap meet. One woman would start up a conversation, while the other woman would go through the person's bag and steal her wallet. Jen, my friend, was a victim of something similar. Her wallet was taken from her stroller in the Topanga Mall. You would hope that as a busy mother you could catch a break from something like this! I posed this issue to a group of mothers on a mommy Facebook page and I was surprised at the large response and at how big an issue this is... it really hits close to home.

Unattended Strollers at the L.A Zoo
If you're anything like me you pile everything into your stroller. I load it up with my Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag, Beco or Bjorn baby carrier, my oldest daughter's snack bag, various sippy cups, my own water bottle, and if we're going to the park-- a bag full of sand toys. That is a load. I can't find anything in my own stroller, so how does a lurking thief? The answer is sad, but simple-- steal the whole thing.  One hot spot appears to be theme parks. "We go to Disneyland a lot, and have never had any worries about our stroller until it happened to us (it was at CA Adventure, parked outside the Carthay Circle restaurant)," said Aimee. She went on to say, "Disney's customer service was really fantastic though - they loaned us a rental stroller for the rest of our visit, and the security guard felt really bad about my son's blankie, so she comped him a Dumbo pillow pet."  Disney went even further, "when I went back to one store to replace the items he (son) had bought with his Christmas money that were in the stroller, I told them what happened, and they wouldn't let me pay for the replacements!" Not every story has this sort of happy, 'Disney' ending. Lilian had a brand new BOB stolen from Disneyland right outside of Captain EO. "We were already leaving the park at around 7 pm when my son decided he wanted just one last ride," she said. When the ride came to an end so did their great stroller, she said. All of their belongings were in that stroller, including a change of clothing. "To top things off it was getting cold and the park officials wouldn't even offer a sweater to my son until I raised havoc," Lilian said. "Needless to say we never recovered our stroller." One of the local news outlets has reported that an estimated 50 strollers are stolen a year at Disneyland.

But stroller theft doesn't only happen at Disneyland, obviously. It happens in theme parks, zoos, malls, and any place where it is easy to be distracted. Thieves are not stealing them for themselves-- there is serious money to be made. I went on Craig's list to look at average prices for used strollers. I found a brand new Orbit Baby Double Helix for $1,200, Bob Revolution Stroller Car Seat Adapter / Graco - $40, Bugaboo Cameleon with all attachments and more - $550, Uppa Baby Vista Stroller- Excellent Condition - $525, City Select double stroller $700 and more. You can sell the whole stroller or in parts. 

My husband is constantly telling me to zip up my diaper bag, and as a mom watching two kids, I always have an excuse of why I do not...  But as moms, we now need to do more than even that. One magazine suggests to personalize the stroller. This will help identify it and a thief may stay clear of something that stands out. "When I bought my stroller at the Juvenile Shop they recommended that I buy a BuggyGuard lock," says Laura. "(I) use it any time we have to leave it out of sight." For anyone, anytime, we must always be aware of our surroundings, because guess what... someone is keeping an eye on us and our strollers.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Recalls

Recall - Plush Dollies Toys
Recall - Bugaboo Cameleon Stroller

Great Source of recalls: parents.com/blogs/parents-news-now