Tuesday, August 30, 2011

This Quick Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe Saves Time and Tastes Great

Note: Today my daughter Brina Gonzalez is guesting here. We disagree about most social and political issues and the views expressed here are hers alone. She's a great cook, however, and she wants to share her five minute Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe.

As I get my kids ready to go back to school, I am reminded of my toddler/pre-school years in the early '80s.  Everyday playgroups and all day pre-school for children of stay-at-home moms was unheard of.  These years were meant to be spent with mom, not to be on the go 24-7.  A once a week trip to mommy and me, play dates at the park, or a twice a week playgroup was enough socialization for a two year old who for the most part enjoyed accompanying her mother on errands or spending an entire morning on the playground.

Fast forward a generation.  We live in a technological age where we feel the need to be connected all the time.  Consequently, we, the new stay at home moms, feel that our  2-5 year old children need to be in school all day five days a week.  In the time our children are in school, we get all of our work done and stay afloat in world affairs. 

But is this necessary?  Shouldn’t our children’s education begin at home?  Can’t the laundry or dishes wait for down time, nap time, or independent play?  Women in the 25-40 age bracket with young kids at home, I have a recipe that will allow you to spend quality time with your kids and still have supper ready 8 hours later. The preparation time is five minutes and it feeds 12. Because remember they are only young once and they have the rest of their lives to socialize with their peers.

                                             Chicken Tortilla Soup

4 frozen chicken breasts
1- 28 oz can or 2- 15 oz cans red beans
1 15 oz can corn
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 15 oz can tomatoes and green chilis (together in one can)
1 onion chopped
1 green pepper chopped (optional)
3-4 cloves garlic
5 cups each, chicken broth and beer

Place all ingredients in a crock pot and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Serve with rice and avocado slices. Prep time 5-10 minutes.  Serves ~12 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The American Dream - A Recipe For Self-Reliance Or For Community?

Are they trying to make me feel like a dinosaur or what I wondered as I went through the Social Mobility exhibit at the Block Museum in Evanston, Illinois. The exhibit consisted of several books on doing pretty much everything oneself from building your own house to making your own clothes, some other artifacts, and a computer. Each artist had his or her artwork, performance art, or writing on a flash drive. The exhibit viewer was directed to put the flash drive in the computer to view whatever. This manner of viewing the art created a feeling of sitting in one’s own psychological cubicle alone, me against the world. This is part of a trend while not causing current rightwing political thought certainly helps to enable it. Why should I feel responsible and have to pay taxes for anyone else’s needs? It’s everyone for him/herself.

Thus, I was very relieved to receive e-mails from Moveon.Org asking me to attend Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky’s press conference on August 10th at which she introduced her Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act that would provide two million jobs. Veterans and the long-term unemployed who have exhausted their unemployment compensation would get priority job placement. The act would create jobs that would supply needed services to repair our schools, provide health care personnel, and bolster law enforcement and do a variety of other needed services. It would also bolster the work/study program which enables students from low income families to attend college. A companion bill will be introduced to ask people in the top 2% of wealth to pay their fair share in taxes.

The Congresswoman invited several people to speak including Janet who worked for over 30 years at a factory that produced stainless steel goods. She was laid off when the company downsized and has been unable to find another job. She was a good, reliable worker until then. Now she has used up her unemployment benefits and has lost her apartment. She sleeps on her friend’s couch while she job hunts and takes a data processing class to update her skills. She’s angry. Should we be angry for her or is she in this alone? Which way do you want our society to go?

After the press conference, we spent the day in Chicago and came home too late to make dinner. Luckily, I had a quick recipe for Quesadillas that I had gotten years ago from the Chicago Tribune. It takes about 15 minutes to prepare and only a few minutes to cook. If you’re really hungry, serve with rice and beans.


           1 medium zucchini, yellow squash, green pepper, and red pepper cut in strips
           1 medium onion cut in wedges
           2 tablespoons olive oil
           1 teaspoon salt
           ½ teaspoon each of chili powder, black pepper,
           ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
           6 whole tortillas
           6 ounces grated Monterrey Jack cheese

         Combine vegetables, oil, and seasonings in a mixing bowl and mix well. Then grill the     vegetables.
          Heat tortillas on an open gas flame or lightly oiled griddle.
          Divide vegetables and cheese and put on the tortillas and serve.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Nervous Nellie Still Chickening Out With a Great Recipe for Leftover Chicken

Now that a plan to avoid default has been agreed upon in Congress, we can all stop worrying. Right? I was reassured when I read in the New York Times today that consumer markets are thriving. At Bergdorf Goodman in Manhattan, Louis Vuitton shoes priced at $1,495 are going like hotcakes. Nordstrom has a waiting list for a Chanel sequined tweed coat that costs $9,010 and Mercedes-Benz has had a banner year. Yes, we can party like it’s 1929!

Meanwhile, back at the United States Federal budget, no new taxes have been agreed upon and some cuts will have to be made. Medicaid, which provides health care to more than 50million low income people, is the most vulnerable of the entitlement programs. As I write this, I am thinking about Shelley (not her real name) who goes to the Center for Developmentally Disabled that I worked at. She has down syndrome and has several health problems that go along with it and uses Medicaid to get her medication and medical care. I referred her to a clinical that specializes in treating disabled people. Will the clinic have to close if there are more cuts? Where will she go instead. The special dental clinic that I used to refer her and her friends to had to close years ago. But as long as some people can still buy $9,000 coats and $1,500 shoes, we deem our society and economy safe. How long until this mountain of greed that our social structure is being built on comes tumbling down to strangle us all?

I had plenty of time to ponder all this last week because I had roasted a chicken that made plenty of meals. With time leftover, there was plenty of time to worry. When we got tired of chicken, I made chicken salad to change the monotony. Prep time was 10 minutes and it was a great summer meal.

                                                      Chicken-Cranberry- Orange Salad

            Cooked chicken diced
               Cucumber diced
               Fresh cilantro leaves
              Almond slivers
              Dried cranberries
              Mandarin oranges

            1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
               1 Tablespoon lime juice
               ½ Tablespoon Dijon mustard
               ground pepper to taste

 1.Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix together
    2.To make the dressing, mix the ingredients together and pour over the salad.