Chicken Fajita Feast

A few months ago I began a subscription to my favorite meal kit service – also the best value IMHO:  EveryPlate.com. This meal kit service offers your choice of three dinners, for two or four people, from a selection of eight different meal options with a range of proteins and sides. Since my kids can be picky, I’ll often make the EveryPlate meal for dinner for myself, my husband and my younger son and let my two teenagers pick what they’d like for dinner. Sometimes the choice of EveryPlate meal lends itself to “upsizing” with additional sides, so I’ll use that as the base for a meal for our whole family.

First, I opened a package of fresh corn on the cob and tossed the ears on a sheet pan with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, cilantro and my favorite seasoning, Tajin. This citrusy, spicy blend gives a little kick to anything you shake it onto. I roasted the corn at 425 degrees on the top rack for about thirty minutes, turning each ear about halfway through, until the ears were beginning to char.

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Second, I made two packages of Knorr Taco Rice. This packaged rice is a quick and easy side with fajitas or tacos, and you can boost the veggie value by mixing diced fresh tomatoes, green, red and jalapeño peppers into the rice while it’s cooking.

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Then I got into preparing the EveryPlate recipe for Classic Chicken Fajitas. Everything you need, with the exception of some kitchen staples like butter or olive oil, is included in the box you get from EveryPlate each week. The recipe card gives the exact quantities you’ll need of each ingredient and offers clear instructions with photos on the back. I diced and cooked the fajita green pepper and red onion, then tossed the diced chicken in salt, pepper and southwest seasoning. The chicken cooked in my cast-iron skillet – yum!

Last but not least, I diced up the tomato, red onion and jalapeño pepper and tossed with some salt and lemon juice to make a quick salsa, then mixed up the lime crema.

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Everyone got one ear of roasted corn, which I topped with queso fresco, a serving of taco rice and a chicken fajita on a flour tortilla topped with the fresh salsa and lime crema. What a delicious Sunday dinner!

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Do you want to try EveryPlate.com? Click here! You’ll get $20 off your first box. Weekly boxes start from around $39 for three dinners for two, which is only $6.50 per serving (the best value I’ve found in meal prep kit services). The serving size says it’s for two, but I nearly always get two adult servings plus a kid’s portion out of my EveryPlate meals.

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A Visit to Mayberry

After hearing my late grandmother’s stories about her father’s birth and family in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, I’ve wanted to visit this place where a branch of my family lived during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. As luck would have it, this year my son’s Boy Scout troop decided to attend a summer camp nearby, so my mom and I and my other two kids made the four-hour trek from Richmond to spend the weekend in the town made famous by the Andy Griffith Show as Mayberry.

Mt. Airy is just across the North Carolina line from Virginia, and lies near the old wagon road that brought settlers, many of them German, from Pennsylvania into the wilderness of Virginia. After a bunch of research on Ancestry.com, I’ve been able to trace some of my Mt. Airy ancestors to this path – arriving in Pennsylvania from Germany in the late 1700’s and coming down the wagon road to Mt. Airy.

The town is small and charming and lies between Wytheville, Virginia and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It has a quaint Main Street with antique shops, restaurants and tourist attractions from the Andy Griffith Show.

We visited the Mt. Airy Regional History Museum to get an overview of the town’s history and to see where “our people” fit in. The museum is housed on the site of a former saloon and later hardware store (which we found out the next night on the Mt. Airy Ghost Tour was haunted by the former manager of the hardware store).

There was a classic car and hot rod cruise-in, with old cars lined up on Main Street, and we walked around and got ice cream at Hillbilly Ice & Creamery.

More to come…

 

4th of July Dessert Cheesecake Dip

This is a quick and delicious dip to enjoy at your 4th of July cookout with vanilla wafers, pretzels or fruit.

US Flag Dip

Vanilla Pudding Cheesecake Dip

Ingredients:

2 boxes vanilla pudding

4 cups cold milk

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

1 cup diced fresh cherries

1/2 cup small marshmallows

Preparation:

Blend vanilla pudding mix, milk, softened cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar with an immersion blender or in a blender until thickened and smooth. Pour into a rectangular glass casserole or other container. Arrange fresh blueberries, diced cherries and marshmallows to resemble the American flag. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve. Serve with vanilla wafers, sugar cookies, pretzels, fresh fruit or any other snack. Happy 4th!

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Virginia Genealogy Tips

As a genealogy addict, I’ve spent countless hours researching my family’s history and have discovered that many branches of my family date to colonial America, with the vast majority coming to Virginia in the early to mid-1600’s. For those who have colonial Virginia ancestors, the Library of Virginia is a great resource in family history research. You can explore deeds, wills and other documents related to your colonial ancestors with a quick web search on their easy-to-use website.

If you have a colonial Virginia ancestor, you can click on the “Search the LVA catalog” link to access the catalog search. I recommend clicking on “Advanced Search” and entering the first name in the top field (where it says “any field” and “contains”), then entering the last name in the bottom field (where it says “AND,” “any field,” “contains”). This will only pull results where both names appear in the same phrase, which is helpful if you have an ancestor with a common name.

LVA Search Screen

Some records are available electronically for download. Others are physically housed at the Library of Virginia. You can create an account in order to request specific documents if you are local and can visit the library. They also regularly offer genealogy classes. Even if you are not local to Virginia, I have found that the records available electronically can be extremely valuable in obtaining a clearer picture of who your ancestors were and how they lived. Records on material assistance provided to the Revolutionary War effort, land grants by the King of England and family bibles and wills give so much context to the names and dates of ancestors.

Just as an example, I plugged in my ancestor Hance/Hans Hendrick’s (1660-1728) name and ran a search. Several documents showed up, including some land records available online. I discovered that on April 25, 1701, Hance Hendrick was granted 594 acres of land in King and Queen County, Virginia.

Hans Hendrick Land Grant

These types of records are ideal for placing an ancestor in a particular location at a particular time. If you have colonial Virginia ancestors in your tree, I’d highly recommend running some searches via the Library of Virginia’s website. I’d love to know what you find out!

Perfect Spring Brunch

This light, easy spring brunch was delicious, and was made possible by Aldi’s sale on hams (50% off).

The refrigerated ham came with glaze for baking. It was pretty quick to bake, then glaze during the last 15 minutes of baking. My trick is to wrap the dish or tray you use to bake your ham in aluminum foil until you glaze it. That will keep the ends of the ham from getting burnt.

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While the ham was baking, I made a quick pie dough, then I diced up a medium onion and layered onto the bottom of the pie crust. I thinly sliced two medium zucchinis and two medium squash, layered them in my pie pan over the crust, then added my quiche mixture:  6 eggs, 1 cup milk, dashes of salt, black and white pepper and 1 tsp. of ground mustard. I baked the quiche in a 350-degree oven for about 50 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle came out clean.

Once both were finished, it was the perfect light spring brunch.

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Whatchu Watching, Girl?

Yes, I’m shamelessly taking this tagline from my favorite little cup of espresso, Taylor Strecker! And while I don’t technically “watch” her show, I do listen every workday. I’ve been a ‘lil effer for almost ten years, since back when she was on Sirius/XM’s Cosmo Radio. She now has her very own morning radio show, The Taylor Strecker Show, with some of the most amazing co-hosts. You can check out her free podcast, Taste of Taylor, but the daily radio show is where it’s at. It’s only $6.95 a month, and it’s totally worth it, I promise.

Every week, Taylor and co-host Sean Kilby discuss the best shows in a segment called “Whatchu Watching, Girl?,” so here’s what I’m watching lately:

  • Game of Thrones – Obviously. No spoilers here, but episode 5 was CRAZY! There were anticipated deaths, redemptive deaths, revenge deaths and completely pointless deaths. I can’t wait for the big series finale this Sunday.
  • American Gods – Season 2 just wrapped up and all I can say is WOW! This series is one of the best book adaptations I’ve ever seen. It stays true to Neil Gaiman’s masterpiece book and showcases actors Ricky Whittle, Emily Browning, Crispin Glover, Orlando Jones, Ian McShane, Yetide Badaki, Pablo Shrieber and more.
  • Big Little Lies – I just finished bingeing the first season of this impeccable ensemble drama and now I understand the Oscar hype. The acting is amazing and I don’t know how they will top the first season. Season two starts with the aftermath of the major death that occurred at the end of season one (and was foreshadowed throughout the season). I’m caught up for the season two premiere on June 9.
  • Knock Down the House – This Netflix documentary shines a light on the 2018 congressional primary races, culminating with New York democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s historic primary win over a 19 year incumbent. It’s a great, behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to run a grassroots campaign.

So, whatchu watching, girl?

Knock Down the House

Exploring Nashville’s Abandoned Baseball Stadium

The Nashville Sounds, the triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, moved into Herschel Greer Stadium on the grounds of Nashville’s Fort Negley in 1978. Conway Twitty threw out the first pitch, and the hometown team beat the Savannah Braves 12-4. The stadium hosted the team through the 2014 season, when the team ended its run there and moved across town to the brand new First Tennessee Park.

Herschel Greer Stadium was closed while the city of Nashville decided what was to be done with it. Once the team’s administrative offices had moved, the site was left abandoned and nature and local graffiti artists took over. Many different plans were proposed, from a soccer stadium to a Kroger grocery store to rodeo grounds. In the end, the city decided to demolish the existing park to make way for ” mixed-use development with green space and affordable housing.” Demolition began on April 1, 2019, but my husband and I visited Nashville in late March and had the opportunity to explore the stadium and document what was left of this former baseball mecca.