Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sitting Still, Feet Propped Up

I had a quiet cup of coffee this morning in my own house. I missed the morning hugs and the million questions that came with breakfast, but appreciated the stillness. It's called balance.

Yesterday, my last day "on duty," it was just me and Baby Girl at her house for the morning. It was pouring rain, so we hung out in their garage so that she could ride her tricycle. I settled into a folding chair so that I could keep an eye on her and listen to her. It's fun to listen to her running commentary as she plays.

Then the game switched to making music. Understand that we have a very musical family. And know that I have taught many people to play guitar and mandolin and ukulele over the years. So I thought this would be a fun thing to do. Baby Girl ran inside and returned in a flash with her rhythm band instruments. She claimed the brightly colored maracas. She gave me the tiny cymbals. We started to play and she quickly stopped me.

She took the cymbals from me and explained, "Here, Mimi. You do it like this." She showed me how to clang them together the right way. We started again. One more time, she stopped and patiently said, "Mimi, let me show you how to do it." I tried again with the little 4-inch cymbals. There was a big sigh and a "Watch...THIS way, Mimi"  and she demonstrated proper cymbal technique one more time. I played them one more time.

Then she gently took the cymbals from my hands, laid them in the red wagon and kindly told me, "Mimi, I have an idea. You can be the watcher." 

 I was fired from a preschooler's garage band. 

Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas

Fortunately I was more successful in the kitchen. Over the weekend Big Sister had a friend spend the night. I made one of the easiest meals I know for dinner—fajitas baked in the oven. I know that she and her friend made a 2:00 AM kitchen run to eat more fajitas. Then Big Sister asked me on Monday before she went to school if her mom had this recipe. "If she doesn't, be sure to give it to her. I would like Mexican food at home more if that fajita stuff is in the tortilla." Excellent endorsement for this recipe.

Photo credit: Big Sister


1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken cutlets, cut into thin strips (cut against "the grain") 
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
1-1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 (10-oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies (I used Rotel Mild)
1 medium onion, cut into thin strips
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into thin strips 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken strips in a greased 9x13-inch baking dish.
In a small bowl (I used a custard cup) combine the oil, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, oregano and salt. Drizzle the spice mixture over the chicken and stir to coat. Add the undrained tomatoes, peppers and onions to the dish. Stir to combine. 

Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Stir a time or two through the cooking time.

We spooned this into flour tortillas, topped the chicken with sour cream, shredded lettuce, cheese, black beans and salsa and rolled it up. It has been quite some time since I had made this. I will not wait so long again. (BTW, Baby Girl got a cheese quesadilla for her supper. An easy swap with these ingredients if you are feeding someone who doesn't like "spicy.")

If you haven't used chicken cutlets, you might want to check them out. I find the thin chicken breast pieces a good choice for many recipes. The thinner cutlets cook quicker. Buying them in this "thin" form is easier and safer than splitting the larger chicken breast pieces horizontally.

For a busy day—and all my days as grandmother-in-chief were busy ones—you can measure the dry spices ahead of time. Stir in the oil when it's time to cook. I also sliced the peppers and onion and bagged them up until supper time. Fit little parts of the prep into the day anyway you can, so that at cooking time, there isn't so much to do.

My own grandmother always set her table for breakfast before she went to bed at night. It made her morning routine a little less chaotic. Remember, you don't have to do all the prep early. Anything you can do ahead of time helps. You will find that it's even helpful to have the utensils or pans or ingredients set out and ready when you walk into the kitchen at 6:00 and everyone is starving.

I learned a lot from my grandmother. My own little granddaughters watch me in the kitchen with great focus. Maybe one day, they will be cooking for their grandchildren and saying, "This is how my Mimi used to do it."


  1. I am sure they will say this! My Mum always lays up for breakfast the night before too! Enjoy your stillness.
    Wren x

    1. Today I am back to moving. Slowly, but up and going. Think my age might have something to do with my fatigue? There is a reason why we have children in our 20s and 30s!

  2. I have family coming for graduation this weekend. I think I'll be making this! Love your blog!


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