Thursday, August 29, 2013

Happy News

It's been a good 48 hours for this little Nastase family! As I write this blog, I am sipping a celebratory glass of Canelo Hills Cabernet (the best wine on the planet - seriously), as Ryan creates/edits his class video for his "Drop Night" next Friday. (More to come on "drop night" next week). We have a few happy things to thank God for today.

First and foremost, I have to make a big shout-out to my husband, Ryan. He passed his check ride yesterday. Heck, he didn't just pass it, he got rated an 'Excellent' on it (which is the highest you can get). I can't even begin to describe how hard he's worked. Being a rated pilot for the Air Force is a dream Ryan has held since he was a little man, and passing this check ride means he will be getting his wings on October 4.

The second awesome piece of news is I got offered a contract today with a hospital for the rest of my time here in San Antonio! I've tried keeping quiet about this in my blog. But let's just say, this "agency nursing" thing has tested me.

Every morning, my phone rings at 4:30 am telling me where and if I'm going to work. Some days I would get confirmed to work, then cancelled, then comfirmed, show up, and then they would send me home and say "Sorry, we don't need you anymore". There are been weeks where I've worked full time, there have been weeks where I only got 1 shift.

We live in a hotel room - so my sanity has been tested. Through it all, I have made it priority to keep a smile on my face and be thankful that I have a job. I also kept positive, because I know I'll return to normalcy when we get back to Tucson!.

Sometimes the nurses haven't been very welcoming to me, "the outsider". So having this hospital say, "We love you! We want you here full time, can you quit your agency and just come work for us?" Resassured me that I'm not a useless waste of time.

More happy news? We are going to Austin tomorrow to celebrate Labor Day weekend! I am so looking forward to seeing this city!

I pray everyone has a great Labor Day weekend! I hope it is filled with sunshine, family, relaxation, laughter, and all good things! I am beyond excited to get out of this hotel room we inhabit for a few days!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hatch Chile Chicken Tortilla Soup - Better than Sudafed!

One thing cooking trick that's become a ritual in our Hotel Habitat is shredded chicken. In fact, this is my favorite way to eat chicken!

Have you ever made a bomb-tastastic chicken soup/stew, but been disappointed that it was a tad too dry? SHRED IT!

More surface area to marry the juices and herbs = more flavor!

A few variations of shredded chicken I've made over the past few weeks:
  • Hot-wing style shredded chicken (hot wing sauce + shredded chicken + salad = serious party in your mouth)
  • Shredded chicken tacos
  • BBQ shredded chicken wraps (shredded chicken + BBQ sauce + honey, wrap in tortilla with spinach and jack cheese -- delicious!)
  • Shredded chicken with carrots, celery, and chicken broth for a noodle-less chicken soup
You get the point.

But my most winning recipe is my Chicken Tortilla Soup. It is hands-down Ryan's favorite thing I make. (It's probably my favorite thing I make, too). It is our favorite comfort food. Also, a staple on camping trips! This soup on a cast-iron stove over a hot fire is ridiculously good!

We also have a tradition of eating this soup on any election night while we watch the results roll in. Not really sure why. We are creatures of tradition, what more can I say.

So I posted the picture below of my prep work on facebook, and had several requests for a recipe share. I don't want to be a stingy friend, niece, here it goes! Step-by-step!

  1. Poach the Chicken. There is a variety of ways it can be done. I usually poach it. Get water boiling, and place chicken breasts in it, and let them cook through! (**Tip: cut the breasts in half to speed this along**). The amount you choose to poach depends on how big your family is. For Ryan & I, I use 2 healthy looking, plump breasts.
  2. Let it cool for a few minutes, and start shredding! I use two forks for this. (I recently read that you can use a food processor, but I'm too particular to try that. My shreds need to be a certain length.)
  3. *Optional step* Roast peppers! If you don't like spicy, don't do this. We will usually throw the peppers on the grill (whole) for a few minutes until they are soft. Or throw them in a pot over the stove until they sizzle, pour 1 cup water, and let boil for about 2 minutes. This time I thought I was using my usual Anaheim peppers, but then remembered that they were Hatch Peppers. What a surprise that was! Suddenly, while roasting, Ryan and I both started coughing uncontrollably (and gasping for air). Yeah, they were kind of hot.)

  4. Slice up your chile peppers, chop up your onions, and add your ingredients! (see list below)
  5. Now this soup can be enjoyed same day, but I've learned it tastes must better if you eat it tomorrow. Put it in a bag, let the flavors marry, and put it on the stove tomorrow and let it simmer for a few hours before enjoying!
  6. Serve up with cheese, sour cream or greek yogurt, corn tortilla (cut into triangles), cilantro, and whatever you like to accessorize your soup up with!
Grocery List  (Just know that I estimated on the measurements for these, as I'm not a big "measurer".)
  • Chicken Breasts (duh)
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth (I like the Pacific Brand - it's organic)
  • 14 oz black beans (canned or from scratch)
  • 14 oz corn kernals (or about 3 ears)
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped (or 1 14 oz can stewed tomatoes)
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped finely
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 Hatch Chile Peppers
  • 1/2 tsp ground Cumin
  • S & P to taste
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • A few shakes of cayenne
  • Cilantro, chopped, to your desire!

This is my Bag-O-Soup I made, before it sat over night in the fridge to be cooked Sunday!
What other cool food did we enjoy this weekend?

 Quail Eggs
Do. Not. Knock'em. Until. You. Try'em!
We had them at a sushi bar - and they were served up like oyester shooters. You just let it slide down your throat. I felt like a miniature version of Cool Hand Luke! Except I only had 1 egg, not 50.