Then, at the tail end of the break, we packed the kids up in the car and went on a D.C. adventure. I had my doubts that going to D.C. with kids so young was going to be fun for any of us, but I was wrong. It was the perfect getaway. We stayed outside of the city, so the Metro alone was an adventure for them. (We made sure we picked a hotel that welcomed children, and that had a Starbucks close by.) We discovered (with the Michelin Guide’s help) a fabulous gourmet pizza place that served unique microbrews. We romped around the National Zoo the first afternoon, meandered through the Air & Space Museum in awe on (rainy) day two, and popped the kids in jogging strollers for a long circuitous walk to all of the Monuments and the Capitol on the morning of day three. Oh, and did I mention that all attractions were clean, very well kept, free…and that the Cherry Blossoms were starting to bloom?
Then, we capped off this exhausting but fun leg of the quick getaway with two nights in Richmond, VA, to visit our dear friends who moved south a little while back. The four little boys ran amuck and giggled for 48 hours straight, and the parents booked some well-deserved babysitting time to catch-up and enjoy each other’s company. On Saturday evening, we ate in with some of their local friends so I whipped up one of my go-to dinner party meals: chicken enchiladas. I have shared the “recipe” below so that you can give it a whirl if you are entertaining a crowd. It is easy to prepare, difficult to botch with cook times, and can be assembled in advance then just popped into the oven. Now that makes for a relaxing evening with friends!
Enchilada Sauce (I like Hatch brand, which you can get at Whole Foods)
The filling can really be anything. As I show my cooking lesson clients, once you understand the consistency (it helps to have a visual but the idea is: moist enough that the enchiladas will be solid and creamy, but not so moist that they'll be runny...), you can modify the ingredients depending upon whether you’ve got vegetarian eaters, meat lovers, mild and cheesy guests, those that like beans, those that don't….you get the picture. That night, I made ours with:
2 rotisserie chickens, white meat removed/shredded (I was all about ease that day)
2 envelopes Taco seasoning (Garden of Eatin’ brand is a favorite)
2 bricks low-fat cream cheese
2 cans black beans, drained
1 can pinto beans, drained
4 bell peppers, diced
3 onions, diced
1 can diced mild green chiles (optional)
½ jar of pickled jalapenos, diced (optional)
I assembled the enchiladas (not worrying if they cracked in the process b/c they're going to be covered in copious amts of sauce), poured the enchilada sauce over the two big baking dishes, sprinkled them with cheese and voila, done. Pop them into a 350 degree oven until heated through and cheese is lightly browned, about 45 minutes or so...though I was having such a good time that I forgot and left them in for about an hour and a half, no damage done. We served them with a yellow rice (which we added some frozen peas to for color/texture), black beans spiked with lime and jalapenos and lots and lots of homemade margaritas. Yes, the neighbor's “Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville Machine" made an appearance. Mmm hmm, I just might have to get one of those for our summer entertaining…