“Since hunger is the most primitive and permanent of human wants, men always want to eat, but since their wish not to be a mere animal is also profound, they have always attended with special care to the manners which conceal the fact that at the table we are animals feeding.” - John Erskine

14 October 2011

cheesy chicken enchilada soup and the hurry, rush, scuttle, sprint, no time, stress mom out kind of day

Have you ever read this book?  I havent either.  But at some point in my elementary school experience I had it read to me, and although I really can’t remember much (if anything) about the book itself, the title has stuck with me over the years and pops into my head from time to time.  Usually on “those” days.  Listen to this excerpt I found online: “I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there's gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”  Isn’t that great?  Isn’t that just a perfect summation of one of “those” days we all have?  The kind where we just wish we had never bothered getting out of bed.

Why do I bring this up?  Because it was fast shaping into one of those days and that title kept popping into my mind.  Ok, ok, it wasn’t actually a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, although it certainly could have become one.  All of my sweet animals attend a charter school and there are no busses, which makes pick up quite the experience.  Not a bad experience, necessarily, but different from many other schools where bussing and walking are part of the home-going process.  Anyway, I was lined up with the other parent cars to pick Littlest up from school and he didn’t come out when it was his turn.  The teacher sent a few more kids out, their parents buckled them in and pulled around me and still Littlest didn’t come out.  The teacher shrugged at me to let me know she had seen me but wasn’t quite sure why he wasn’t coming out and sent a few more kids to their respective cars.  By this time there were fairly few parents in cars still waiting, so the teacher came to my car to let me know that she hadn’t forgotten me.  She had me pull forward out of the way (like they do at McDonald’s when you have a special order that’s taking a bit too long) and told me that she would have someone check in the bathroom for him.  I was a bit embarrassed, since quite often I do kindergarten pick up in my pajamas, but I smiled and said ok.  So I waited, and waited, and still no Littlest.  The teacher came back to make sure that he wasn’t in the car.  Nope.  We were both getting a little nervous now.  She ran back to check the school again, and I got on the phone to see if, by any chance, my mom had come to pick him up.  She, of course, wasn’t home, although if she had picked him up enough time had passed by now for her to have made it home.  Ug.  Just as I was about to panic ~ and just as I noticed all three kindergarten teachers, the janitor and the principal heading toward my vehicle ~ my cell phone rang.  My mother had picked up my son and was sitting in my driveway wondering where the heck I was.  (She was supposed to pick him up tomorrow, but got the days mixed up.)  Whew!

So, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day averted.  Substitute hurry, rush, scuttle, sprint, no time, stress mom out kind of day.  On top of all the time lost trying to find my Littlest, it was scouts night, and my husband ~ the assistant scout leader ~ requested before he left for work that if possible dinner be ready early so that he could dash off to scouts with a full belly.  So rush home to get dressed, feed Littlest lunch, swish a dish or two and we were off to car pool, that request weighing heaver and heaver with each passing minute.  Of course, Middlest had to go potty, and Oldest and Car Pool Buddy took their sweet time getting out to the car, and I was about a quarter of the way to our buddys house when I realized that it was piano day and I was supposed to drop Oldest off at his lesson before taking anyone else anywhere else.  Quick detour to our house to pick up his piano books (which I had forgotten to put in the car and he had forgotten to put in his backpack).  More hurry, rush, scuttle, sprint, no time, stress mom out kind of day.  (We did actually manage to get to his lesson right as the clock struck four.  Really quite an amazing feat considering where I was when I turned the car, and the fact that we had to stop at home first.  You should be impressed.)

By now I was really low on time, so I hopped on the freeway in an attempt to get Car Pool Buddy home a little quicker and give myself a little more possibility to get dinner started  (and finished) on time.  (Can I just take a moment here to give our buddy a heartfelt public acknowledgement of thanks for keeping his mouth shut and not complaining at the delay in getting him home?  Didn’t even bat an eye ~ at least, not that I noticed while keeping my eyes on the road.  I hope his future wife appreciates his ability to keep calm in the face of unexpected events.  Way to go Drew!)  For reasons I don’t want to get into right now, Car Pool Buddy lives quite a ways from our house, and the round trip takes a good amount of time.  Even taking the freeway, by the time I walked into the house it was 4:45 and dinner was supposed to be ready and on the table at 5:00.  I was cursing my husband under my breath (yes, I have just publicly admitted that I have a problem ~ they say thats the first step), juggling the paraphernalia of the day, trying to herd the animals into their respective corrals or harness them to their yokes and feeling every minute tick tick ticking by.  This was turning into one of those hurry, rush, scuttle, sprint, stress mom out kind of days from heck, and mom was about to blow.

It may surprise you to learn at this point that I actually did manage to have dinner ready and on the table at 5:00.  It certainly surprised me!  Especially since I had done nothing to prepare for said dinner beforehand.  Had I been a wiser, more prepared mom I would have tossed something in the crock pot or at least have something defrosting, but the day had a will of its own and I was sorely unprepared.  So how awesome was this recipe for coming to my rescue?  Totally awesome, that’s how awesome!  Just open, dump and heat and I had a hot “homemade” dinner on the table in less than 10 minutes!  Hoorah!!
Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Soup
serves 6
2 cans (10¾ oz each) condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can (10 oz) enchilada sauce
2 cups milk
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
9 ounces cooked southwestern-flavored chicken strips
¾ cup crushed tortilla chips

In 3-quart saucepan, mix all ingredients except tortilla chips.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly heated and cheese is melted.  Top individual servings with tortilla chips.
This is what it looked like simmering in the pot.

It was actually quite tasty, before I put the cheese in.  Of course, I did things a little differently.  I actually did use cream of chicken (not substituting cream of mushroom as I am wont to do), but I didn’t have any canned enchilada sauce, so I used a packet of this and a 15 or so ounce can of tomato sauce, 1½ cups water and 2 cups of milk.  I also substituted two cans of this for the chicken strips.  It tasted really yummy ~ quite enchilada-like ~ before I put the cheese in, but the cheese made it rather bland.  If (when) I make it again I think I’ll put in an extra packet of enchilada seasoning.  (It might be wiser to add less cheese, but I just can’t bring myself to consider that alternative.)  My bestest also suggested that I try Fridos for a little extra flavor instead of regular old tortilla chips.  Oldest really liked it, said he could eat it every day.  Good to know...
Guess somebody liked it.  This is all that was left!
I hope this recipe comes to the rescue on your next hurry, rush, scuttle, sprint, no time, stress mom out kind of day.

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