Food and Garden Dailies started as a way to record my family's favorite recipes. It has come in handy many times when I'm asked for a recipe. I simply email a link to the blog! But I couldn't just stick to recipes. The kitchen is tied to the garden in so many ways...and so I let you into my ever changing garden as well.

If you're interested in my all-time favorite recipes, check out this post first: My Favorite Recipes

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chicken Enchilada Casserole with Tomatillo Sauce

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I was just going through my digital photo albums to tidy up and organize them, when I came across pictures of Chicken Enchilada Casserole...a simple twist on enchiladas. I have a fabulous recipe for Chicken Enchiladas with a Tomatillo sauce. They can be a bit labor intensive, so I tried to simplify it and make it as a casserole. Honestly, they may not have looked as good, but the taste was all there!

First, I will give you the original recipe, which will look so much better than the photo above!

Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce
(San Francisco Encore)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Heat in a frying pan:*
1/2" of oil
Fry just until soft, about 5 seconds on each side:
12 corn tortillas
Lay flat and drain on paper towels.

Combine the following:
4 C cooked shredded chicken
2 C shredded Jack cheese
1 7 oz. can diced green chilies
1 ½ tsp dried oregano
salt to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste

Spoon ½ cup of the filling down the center of each tortilla. Cover with 2 T of Tomatillo Sauce. Roll up the tortilla to enclose.

Lay tortillas, seam side down, in a 10 x 15 inch baking pan. Bake, covered, approximately 15 minutes or until hot.

Uncover and sprinkle with
8 oz. shredded Jack cheese

Bake uncovered, until cheese has melted.

To serve: Spoon 3/4 C of Tomatillo Sauce onto dinner plates. Set 2 enchiladas on each plate.

Top with:
shredded lettuce
dollop of sour cream

Garnish with:
lime slices

*To get the tortillas to roll up, they need to be hot...but you don't have to fry them. I get 4 paper towels damp, place one on a microwave-safe plate, and then start layering 3 corn tortillas with towels in between and a towel on top. (So it's plate, towel, tortilla, towel, tortilla, towel, tortilla, towel.) I put them in the microwave on high for 10 seconds. You'll need to figure out what timing/power level works best for you. I quickly fill them and roll. I find if I heat up more than 3 at a time, they tend to cool off and will fall apart if you try to roll them.

Tomatillo Sauce
(San Francisco Encore)

Heat in a large saucepan:
6 T oil (3/8 C)

Add, and cook until soft:
2 medium onions, chopped
1 7 oz can diced green chiles
26 oz. (2 13 oz. cans) tomatillos, drained
1 C chicken stock
3 TB fresh lime juice
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp salt

Simmer 25 minutes over low heat. Taste and correct seasonings. Puree in food processor or blender until smooth.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole with Tomatillo Sauce

This is pretty much the same thing, but instead of rolling neat little enchiladas, I tear up the tortillas and layer the whole thing.

Combine the following:
4 C cooked shredded chicken
2 C shredded Jack cheese
1 7 oz. can diced green chilies
1 ½ tsp dried oregano
salt to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste

In a baking dish, spoon a bit of the Tomatillo Sauce (recipe above) on the pan. Tear up some corn tortillas, creating a layer. Continue to add layers of shredded Monterey Jack cheese, the chicken mixture, Tomatillo Sauce, and corn tortillas. End with a layer of cheese and sauce. Cook approximately 30 minutes, or until it is hot in the middle.

Because my daughter's a vegetarian, I made a small pan of this for her. Instead of chicken, I used the Morning Star Meal Starters Chik 'n Strips.

May Day! Time to Ding Dong Ditch...

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Clematis (Markum's Pink)

My daughter just reminded me that tomorrow is May Day. And with May Day comes the tradition of putting flowers on the doorsteps of your friends and neighbors, ringing their bell, and running. Or Ding Dong Ditching!

This is what is blooming in my yard. If these show up on your doorstep, you'll know who left them!

Happy May Day!

Coral Bells (Heuchera, unknown variety)
Columbine (Aquilegia Winky Rose-Rose)Rock Daphne (Ruby Glow)Tulip (Apricot Beauty)
Rhododendron (Horizon's Monarch)

The birds are back

Pin It I'm not a bird fanatic, but I do love when they choose spots in my garden to build a nest. We have two birdhouses mounted on our fence, and this year both have nests. One may be an old nest (Did I clean it out last year???) as I haven't seen any birds going in and out. The other one has been the center of frequent activity.

Today we finally got some sun (yea!!) and I was sitting at my table reading, with my camera ready to see if I could get a picture of one of the birds going in/out of the house. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that I can click, click, click and take a ton of pics so quickly...quickly enough to catch the bird in flight as it was leaving the nest. (The delay on my old point & shoot was soooo aggravating.)

I also went over to check on the nest that is in our evergreen clematis plant. I shook the plant first in case the birds were there. It wasn't until I started lifting some branches that it flew out! It flew right into a nearby tree watching me. Soon, three swallows were circling around the area rather protectively. I took a couple quick pics of the nest and got out of their way!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Garden sharing....

Pin It Well, I went to the local garden swap today, and it was a complete bust. Perhaps it got better as the day went on, but when I went (at 11, and then again at noon), the tables were virtually empty. Such a drastic change from the past two when the tables were piled high, and neighbors were chatting with neighbors. It was such a fun exchange.

With today's warm, sunny weather I thought it would be packed. Nope. I left my Foxglove, Canterbury Bells, and Creeping Jenny for folks to take. I took a couple packs of lettuce seeds, only to find out later that they were dated 1994 and 2001. Into the trash they went! Hopefully next year will be much better....

With that in mind, I still have a lot of Foxglove and Creeping Jenny. You can have all you want. First, I will warn you about both before you take them!

The foxglove, while a bienniel, reseeds prolifically. Someone who stopped by my yard last year told me, "Ah,'ll never get rid of them!" To which I replied, "Why would I want to?!" I do love them. But I have some spots where thousands are growing. I've already "weeded" thousands of them (as teeny-tiny dots), but am letting a bunch of others grow a bit in case someone wants them. They can be quickly scooped up with the soil to replant directly in your yard or into some 4" pots until they get bigger. So there's your warning...once you have them, you'll never get rid of them.


And the Creeping Jenny. I love that it grew as groundcover in a shady corner of the yard under the maple tree. I loved the rounded little green leaves and the cheery yellow flowers so much that I took a few sprigs and planted them in other areas. 5-6 years later I'm ready to say goodbye and am digging it all up. If you want this in your yard, all you need to do is stick a tiny piece in the ground. They will root and spread nearly as quickly as peppermint. I have all you could ever want, and more! The only place I will ever use this again will be in a container! It looks nice in a hanging basket as it cascades down. Just don't let it get all the way to the ground or it will root and take've been warned.

Creeping Jenny

Now, if you still want any of this, just let me know. Seriously. You can have all you want!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A few more garden highlights....

Pin It My first pics playing around with the macro settings....

Tahoe, looking quite dapper with his navy blue bandana...

Rhodie bud (Horizon's Monarch)...

Double daffodil (Golden Ducat)...

Crabapple buds....

Highlights in the yard.....with my new camera!!

Pin It So, first off, this is the little camera I've been using for the past 8 years. It's been dropped a few times, hence the duct tape. In the past year, the LCD screen only works to view your pictures. You can't use the screen for taking pictures. Thankfully there is also a viewfinder for the eye. But that viewfinder is not accurate. So to take a picture of a subject you have to take a few shots to make sure you took a picture of your intended subject. Kind of like shooting in the dark...

But it worked. And it took pretty darn good pictures.

I did, however, miss the flexibility (and lens options!) of my film SLR camera. LOVED my Canon Rebel. But using film is just not practical, and once you get used to digital,'s hard to go back! So I've had this camera sitting on my wish list at Amazon for several years. The money comes and the money goes, and, well, the camera has just not been a priority.

This morning though, my family thoroughly surprised me for my birthday (really, I thought I *might* be lucky enough to upgrade my iPod!) with a digital SLR camera. Sweet. My lenses are interchangeable, but I have to get used to the fact that the lens settings are magnified x 1.6 when put on a digital camera. (So a 100 mm. setting on a film camera is 160 on a digital.) I still haven't figure out how that will affect me, but I'm sure it will.

As I've only had the camera for a few hours, I've only read the pocket guide. But I had to get out and take some pictures. I have a lot to learn, but am so happy to be able to start learning!

Here are some highlights in our yard right now. These are a few of my very first pictures!

A native red currant (Ribes sanguinum) that we just planted last week. These catch my eye every year, and I'm thrilled that I found a place for one in the yard!

Pear blossom from a grafted 4 variety tree. Last year was the first year it flowered. Maybe we'll get a pear this year? How long does it take for them to get fruit?
Blueberry blossoms!! YUM!!!!

Bird nest that is being built in the middle of our evergreen clematis. It's been fun watching the birds build this. The plant is right outside my dining room window. I've been sewing on the table the past few days, watching them build. They've also spent hours trying to fly directly into the window!

Bud from our rhodie. What I love about rhodies is that the bud color is so very different from the blossom color. This blossom will be a peachy yellow.

Kids and dogs playing on a warm spring day. Does it really get any better than this?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hashbrown Potatoes (aka Funeral Potatoes)

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When we lived in Myrtle Beach, my good friend, Tanya, would bring these to our MOMS Club potlucks. She always doubled the recipe, as she said one pan was never enough for a crowd. She was surprised I'd never had them or heard of them, as they were considered a southern potluck staple. They were considered a knock-off recipe of a dish served at Cracker Barrel, a popular chain of restaurants found at every interstate turn off in the south.

Not being from the south, it really didn't surprise me that I didn't know about them. We were being introduced to all sorts of new foods (Chicken bog, gravy, boiled peanuts, gravy, chitlins, gravy, grits, oh...and did I mention gravy??).

Anyway, ever since SC, we've been making them for potlucks and BBQs. While I didn't know about them growing up in Arizona, I learned that they are known in the western states. My friend, Dave (who grew up in Utah in the LDS church), calls them Funeral Potatoes because all the Mormon ladies make them for potlucks at funerals. I've learned that this is a pretty common name/practice. So maybe they were around in Arizona. I just had to travel across the country to discover them.

If you search for "hasbrown potatoes" on Google, you're sure to find hundreds of entries. That's just how popular they are. Who knew?? There are just as many variations. Even Emeril has his own version! Of course his doesn't call for frozen hashbrowns...he actually uses real potatoes. His recipe looks darn good, and someday I'll try it.

For now though, I'll stick with the recipe my friend, Tanya, gave me. I call it a "dump and bake" because all you do is dump ingredients into a pan, and bake them. Couldn't be any easier, could it? If you buy pre-shredded cheese it really is a true dump and bake, but I always buy it in blocks and shred it myself (take just a minute in the food processor).

Hashbrown Potatoes

Get out a 9" x 13" baking dish and dump in the following, and mix well:
3 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 can (reglular size) cream of chicken soup
(I use Healthy Request)
8 oz sour cream
(I use fat free)
salt & pepper to taste

Add & mix well:
2 pounds frozen hasbrowns (can be cubed or shredded)

Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. If the middle is still frozen, stir it a bit, and put it back in until heated through.

When there are about 15 minutes left of baking, sprinkle the dish with:
2 C crushed cornflakes

Tanya's original recipe called for additional melted butter that you pour on before adding the cornflakes. I found that wasn't necessary at all, so I skip that step.

This is a great recipe to make if you have a bunch of leftover ham (like from Easter!) around. Just cube it up, and toss it in.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bye Bye Butterfly Bush!

Pin It One of my guilty pleasures in the garden has been my butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii). It was strategically placed on a corner of the house where it could visually separate the main part of the yard from the work corner. It worked beautifully!

Five years ago it was placed on Oregon's noxious weed list. Every time this list is published I feel pangs of guilt knowing I have one in my yard. I've been diligent about deadheading it, which is quite a feat considering it gets about 10' tall by 6-8' wide in the summer. Thankfully, you can easily pull down the branches and clip them. Last growing season (2008) I was not that diligent. I got lazy and didn't deadhead at all.

This spring, as I'm doing my garden clean-up/weeding, I'm finding little volunteer bushes...even in the cracks between the pavers. Yikes!

Since the bush is cut down to the ground (or as near as possible) each year, I decided that while it was small(ish), it was time for it to go. So, Brian, thinking he'd dug the last hole in the garden when we replaced the magnolia tree last month, got to dig again. He's a great guy, especially considering yard work is not his thing!

Replacing the butterfly bush is a (for now) tiny little Mexican orange (Choisya ternata) plant. I chose this because it's a fast evergreen grower that does well in our soil. I had one that was destroyed in the 08/09 winter storm. I had to cut it back to the ground as every branch was broken. It may come back..only time will tell. Because of that loss, the replacement for the butterfly bush easily came to mind.

With the noxious weed out of the yard, I can breathe easier, knowing I'm not the source of any more noxious plants!

Click here for other Oregon noxious weeds.

Click here for all other states' noxious weeds.

McMinnville: Save the Date 2009

Pin It Save the Date!

As the rain starts tapering off, and the sun starts making more of an appearance, the outdoor activities in McMinnville get in high gear. Here are some local food/gardening events I recommend:
  • Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival: Not in Mac, but close enough, and it is truly spectacular. It's going on right now through May 3. Click HERE for an up-to-date field report, complete with pics of what's blooming. Woodburn, OR
  • Spring Garden Swap: Bring plants & gardening supplies to this community swap. It's all free! Sunday, April 19th. 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Coldwell Banker parking lot (2077 N. Hwy 99W)
  • Linfield College's 37th Annual Luau: The Linfield Hawaiian Club puts on a pretty decent production. The food served in Dillon Hall (in my opinion) is not the highlight, but the performance (Ted Wilson Gymanasium) is quite fun. There is also a little Hawaiian store where you can purchase Hawaiian food and goods (including fresh leis). Saturday, April 25, dinner starts at 5:00 p.m., with the performance at 7:30.
  • McMenaman's 9th Annual UFO Celebration: OK, this really doesn't have a whole lot to do with food or gardening, but it is QUITE the event. There are serious seminars on UFOs and a fun parade which brings out lots of local families. Alien attire optional for the parade, but you'll probably wish you had some if you come unadorned. Event: May 15 & 16; Parade: Saturday, May 16, 1:00 p.m.
  • McMinnville Farmers' Market: This is the heart of the community in the summertime. Come and browse, listen to some live music, have some dinner. Bring a re-usable bag for your weekly produce. The peaches here are out of this world! Sign up for Oakhill Organics' CSA early, as spaces tend to fill up quickly. Thursdays, May 28-October 8, 1:30-6:00 p.m. Cowls Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets.
  • Brown Bag Concerts: Bring your lunch and chair (unless you arrive early) down to the US Bank Plaza (3rd Street and Davis) and enjoy the live music. Thursdays, June 11-August 20, 12-1:30 p.m. (Then head on over to the Farmer's Market!)
  • McMinnville Garden Club's Garden Tour & Faire: Visit some fabulous gardens in private homes throughout the community, and then stop by downtown for the Garden Faire of local nursery vendors and artisans. This is where I bought this piece of cheery garden art. Sunday, June 28 10 a.m. -4 p.m.
  • Who's On Third?: This is the first year that the downtown area has separated itself from the Turkey Rama festival. In the past Turkey Rama has been a hodgepodge of booths: some local, some not; some good non-profits;a lot of junk; small-town carnival rides; junk food galore. I'm excited to see what the feel and flavor of this event becomes. They really seem to be focusing on family activities and local food/business vendors. The changes look promising. July 10, 11, & 12; 3rd Street.
  • Summer Concert Series: The Rotary Club & McMinnville Parks and Rec. are co-hosting this annual concert series. Gather with your friends at Linfield's Oak Grove on Tuesday evenings (usually 7-9 p.m. on occasional July/August nights) for music, food (bring your own, as well as chairs or picnic blankets), and a delightful evening. We look forward to these stress-free evenings, always meeting up with a group of friends. The adults chat and listen; the kids twirl, dance, and play games. Best of all: it's free! Dates will be posted as they're announced.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Spring Garden Swap....McMinnville, OR

Pin It Two of the best kept gardening secrets in Mac are the semi-annual garden swaps that Coldwell Banker sponsors. You never know what you'll find, and that's the fun of it! Take some time next Saturday to go through your gardening supplies to find things you're done with or will never really use. Dig up some volunteer plants, or divide some perennials. Be nice and label them! The spring swap this year falls on my birthday...happy birthday to me!!

Spring GardenSwap
April19th, 2009 11:00am - 3:00pm

Do you have:
Plants to share?
Garden furniture, garden art, magazines or books to give away?
Do you need:
New plants or other related garden items?

Come to our Garden Swap. Everything you need is FREE-
Please take only what YOU can use
No Money will be accepted

Master Gardeners of Yamhill County will be on hand to answer your questions. Any items not given away will be donated to Habitat for Humanity.

Coldwell Banker Executive Realty
2077 N. Hwy 99W
McMinnville, OR 97128

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Garden Displaylists

Pin It As I drive through town, I am drawn to certain plants in people's yards. Often it takes me awhile to think of the perfect spot for that plant. As my yard becomes more established, it gets harder and harder to make room for the new favorites. I don't want to have to choose between plants. I want them all!! Past favorites that have managed to find room in my very full garden are the star magnolia, snowball bush, and the crabapple and ornamental cherry trees. I didn't think these would fit, but somehow we have managed!

But at some point, like with an iPod, you simply run out of space. With an iPod, at least you can swap out your music, and have a variety to fit your mood, even if all your songs don't fit on it at one time. Unfortunately in a garden you have to make room, or (gasp!) get rid of another.

In an ideal world, one favorite plant could magically take the place of a fading one that is on its way out for the year. Kind of like an iTunes playlist. I could create favorite displaylists for each season. As one group of plants (like early spring bulbs) begin to fade away, I could dump those back onto my gardening hard drive and start displaying a new group. If only gardening could were as tech savvy as music...

My spring displaylist:
My summer displaylist:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Aussie Gamers

Pin It Every now and then I take a peek and see where my tens of readers are coming from. Today I noticed a lot of hits from I checked out the site and couldn't for the life of me figure out what Aussie gamers would have in common with this Pacific Northwest girl who likes to putter in the kitchen and garden. Gaming? Not so much...

After a bit of tinkering, I figured out how to find what "landing page" they were going to: Marinated Flank Steak. Now that makes sense. After checking out their forums, I was pleasantly surprised to find several cooking threads, one about making a garden shed, some political ones and even one about romantic movies for men! Guess those gaming guys have more in common with me than I first thought!

Honey Lime Grilled Chicken

Pin It Today was a glorious day. Pretty much perfect....sunshine, blue skies, lots of warmth. The neighbors were all out. Kids playing together again. The yard got mowed for the first time this season. Lots of yard work (still more to do, as always!). Definitely a day for grilling.

So I went to the freezer to see what I had that could be defrosted and grilled up. I found a bag of Honey Lime Grilled Chicken breasts. I think we made these before and found them so-so. BUT...I forgot to look back at the recipe and add a "seasoning blend" to them, which really makes a difference.

As written, the recipe calls for seasoning the chicken before marinating. Because I froze them, I marinated first, and planned on seasoning just before grilling. This time I remembered, and they were VERY good. The honey/lime/seasoned salt combo was right on.

If you are making them fresh, follow the recipe as written. If you'd like to make them ahead of time, put the chicken in the marinade, and freeze them. When they've defrosted, grill them as directed, and sprinkle the breasts with seasoning. I used Lawry's Seasoned salt, but I suppose you could really experiment and try several different seasoning combinations.

Honey Lime Grilled Chicken

1 lime, juiced
2 tbsp honey
1 rounded tsp cumin
a handful of cilantro, finely chopped, about 1/2 tbsp
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, canola, or corn oil
4 (6-8 oz) boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp grill seasoning blend or coarse salt and pepper

Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl.
Sprinkle chicken with seasoning blend or salt and pepper.
Coat chicken in dressing and set aside for 10 minutes or longer.
Grill chicken 6 to 7 minutes on each side or until chicken is no longer pink inside.