Opening Weekend 2017 at the New SunTrust Park

It’s finally here!  We have waited a long time for this day!  April 14, 2017!!  Three years ago when we got the announcement that we were getting a new ballpark, I had no idea how much progress, vision, and creativity could be carried out so well, so beautifully and so quickly!!

What an honor to serve on the Braves Fan Advisory Board for the new SunTrust Park for 2-1/2 years, working with some of the nicest people, and it is really amazing to see Braves’ vision (and what we have been talking about for so long) finally come to LIFE!!

There was so much excitement Opening night, throughout opening weekend, and so much energy in and around SunTrust Park.  There is so much to do and see at SunTrust Park and in The Battery Atlanta.  We attended the games Friday and Saturday night of Opening Weekend and still didn’t get to experience everything there is to offer.  I can’t wait to go back (which will be soon), and try several new food items by Delaware North in SunTrust Park, and enjoy all the cool places to eat in The Battery Atlanta.  There is so much thought and creativity that has gone into this ballpark.  It is amazing!!  I will let the pictures tell the story.

I was so happy to be a part of this project, even if in a small way.  I am proud to call this ball park, HOME!  Go Braves!

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This is the Silver Bullet Bridge overlooks the plaza where there will be pregame and post game activities that will go on.  Love the Braves Sphere!
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What a gorgeous statue!

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Coca Cola Roxy Theatre Pre-Game Party
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Derek Schiller, Terry McGuirk, Rob Manfred, John Schuerholz at the Pre-Game Party at the Coca-Cola Roxy Theatre!

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He’s a very kind man.  Every time he meets my family he says, “Hi. I’m John Schuerholz”.  Never assuming they know who he is.
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Inside the Coca-Cola Roxy Theatre!  It is beautiful!
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Dancing Chick-Fil-A cows were hanging out near our parking lot!!
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This place was hopping!!
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Beautiful Views!

 

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Flyover during our National Anthem!!  Gave me Chills!

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Timothy Miller has a voice that will melt you!

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One of the many features of The Battery Atlanta!  An awesome place to hang out with your people.  It’s all about the experience.
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Overlooking the other side of the Plaza area where the Fox Sports guys will broadcast from.

 

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For Trivia Purposes:  The First Winner Ever of the Tool Race?  Hammerin’ Hank.
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It’s a beauty.  Don’t ya think?
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We got sit behind visitors’ dugout on this special Opening Night!
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I got this from Dale Murphy’s twitter.  I couldn’t resist!  Several Braves Legends in one shot?  Ok!
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View from our regular seats
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Braves win!  One of many I’m sure!  They had to win the first one!
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We got to enjoy a VIP party before the game but after the game we enjoyed a concert from Cole Swindell.  What an amazing night!
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The Kids’ Area at SunTrust Park

The Braves have worked very hard to include a fun space for our kids!  As with the rest of the ballpark, this area has been well thought out and carefully designed.  Now when your kids come to a game, they will get to enjoy so many amenities that SunTrust Park has to offer.  The Braves, in partnership with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, have come up with a fabulous kids’ zone called ‘Hope and Will’s Sandlot’. It is located behind sections 151-155!

As always, there is a Braves Kids Club membership so your kids can be a part of the team!  A premium membership is $25 (per membership) or there is a free membership option as well.  When you buy a Premium Membership, there are several really great benefits and prizes that include a Dansby Swanson jersey and much much more.  Check out all the info at Braves.com/kids.

And be on the lookout about how you can reserve your times in advance for all the fun games and activities you will see here.

In the meantime, let me show you around….

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The ‘Hope and Will Climbing Tower’ is a fun climbing tower has a large Braves helmet at the top (seen below)!  I’m sure we’ll be spending a great deal of time here.

 

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You will see here a close up of the “loading dock” for ‘Hope and Will’s Pop Flyer Zip Line’!  It looks like loads of fun!
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This is ‘Hope and Will’s Pop Flyer Zip Line’.  This is the loading area where fans get strapped in and zip line down.  The building behind this is a hotel that will open in 2018.  What a great space!

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This is a great view of the First Base Dash, (where you can time how fast you can run), the Pop Flier Zip Line, and Climbing Tower.  The building you see to the right of this frame is a hotel that will open in 2018!

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Kids have their own Braves Clubhouse Store!
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I loved this game as a kid!  This is Hydration Station.  Players get to race by spraying water in the holes, (which raises the baseball),  to see who gets to the top first.
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Batting Cage, ‘Batter UP!’
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At ‘Strike Zone’, you get to see what it is like to hit a home run at SunTrust Park!
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‘Strike Zone’
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‘Chop A Mole’!!

 

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This is a game called, ‘Pick ‘Em Off’… Players will shoot a ball into the hole and whoever has the most balls go in, wins!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kids even get their own snack and dinner spot!  I’m sure we will be spending a great deal of time here, too.

Thanks for letting me show you around the Kids’ area!  It’s going to be a really fun season!

See you there!

Go Braves!

The Powerful Words that Mean So Much

Last night, my son had a baseball game.  Husband was coaching.  I was running the dugout.  Our boys faced a tough team and played hard.  Our son had a good game but made some mistakes that don’t usually happen.  He was upset.

On the way home in the car, it was just the two of us.  We were quiet for a few minutes, just relaxing and downloading all that had happened.  Something prompted me to say, “I am proud of you”.  I saw his stress start to melt away.  He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “Why would you be proud of me?”

I told him that he doesn’t have to do anything spectacular on that field for me to be proud of him.  As long as he tries his best, I will always be proud.

I reminded him that baseball is a tough sport.  There is a very good chance you will strike out, drop a ball, miss a grounder, or be called out at a base.   It is ok.  You will not be perfect every time.

There were some good things that happened on the field.  He had some good plays and hits, so we focused on those.  I reminded him that the rest of the player development will come… just to keep working hard.

The conversation could have gone a very different way in the car on the way home.  We could have focused on all that went wrong and how we were going to make it better, but instead, he needed to hear that I was proud.  And my words made a difference.

Later he told me that those words made him feel better about himself.  I hope so.  I don’t want his self-worth to be dependent upon his performance on the field.  He has a lot of heart, he loves the game, and as long as he is having fun and trying hard… I will ALWAYS be proud.

Tomorrow is a new day.

 

 

Lessons from the Dugout

It’s hard to imagine that our baseball coaches are simply volunteers. There is a great deal of love, passion, and time that goes into a season.  My husband loves being able to coach.  I love being able to help.  One of my many responsibilities as a Team Mom is that I get to run drills with the boys on the field, I also do administrative stuff for my hubby/coach since he has a full time job, but I think my most important job is that I run the dugout.  For every game.

A lot happens in the dugout.  It is a very adventurous place.  Our son is now 11 years old, but when he and his teammaues were 9/10 and younger,  I found it was important to be in the dugout. I end up being the batting order coordinator, counselor, cheerleader, photographer, motivational speaker, nurse, aka boo boo fixer, monitor of boys climbing the fence, and trying to make sure none of the players swings a bat in the dugout.  I also am a “bat runner” or “bat girl” if you prefer.  It is fun but you have to stay on your toes.  I have to be prepared.

I make sure I have these important items in my trusty Team Mom Bag:

First Aid Kit

Medical Forms

Pens for my husband/Coach who always tends to forget his

Ice packs

Sunscreen

Extra Snacks

Water Bottles

Game Schedule/Snack Schedule

Team Spirit

I will always have a first aid kit with me for those moments where anything can happen.  Blisters, cuts, scrapes, bumps, and bruises.  This is also why I will bring a few ice packs.  (Summer Baseball is an entirely different situation… more on this later.)

Our park has asked our players to fill out medical forms in case of emergency.  I will always have those with me in a folder or notebook.

I will always bring a few extra water bottles and snack bars in case someone is starving in the dugout, or forgot to bring their water bottle.  Especially those who are running from somewhere else or forgot to eat breakfast.  Keeping in mind food allergies.

I always have a copy of the game schedule either in writing or on my phone because someone will almost always ask me about an upcoming game or when they are supposed to bring snack.

But, like I said I help out in the dugout, every game.  As the coach’s wife, he puts me to the task and trusts I will handle it.

The first couple of games are the funniest because the boys are still bonding as a team, and learning so much.  Some are climbing on everything, and some are throwing balls and/or swinging bats.  This is my job to monitor (prevent) all of this.

As the “batting order coordinator” so I have to have those boys ready to go on deck or up to bat.  No matter what.  It takes a game or two to get them to understand the timing of all of this.  When the boys were younger, sometimes it took 2 of us in the dugout… 1 for crowd control and 1 for batting order.

The first couple of games, our players can get so nervous.  I teach them to cheer each other on.  Sometimes things on the field don’t always go their way and this is an important lesson to learn.  If one of our players strikes out, I will teach they boys that as that player comes back to the dugout, that are met by their team with pats on the back and a “it’s ok, man!” or to give them a High Five.  Lift them up when they are down.  And to do that throughout the game no matter what.  Sometimes just hearing a “you can do it!” from another player can mean so much.

This is so much a part of the game.  Lifting each other up when GOOD things happen and lifting each other up when BAD things happen.

Things on the field will not go their way every single time.

Just like life…

Never DefeatedWhen things don’t go our way, it’s always nice to have a teammate, friend, family member to pat us on the back and say, “it’s ok, man!” or give us a high five for at least trying and getting out there and giving good effort.

By the end of the season, the boys are usually connected, they are teammates and friends.  They know what is expected of them in the dugout.  I don’t have to watch for swinging bats as much…or balls flying through the air, but I will see them give pats on the back and hear them give words of encouragement to their teammate when things didn’t go their way on the field.

Then I have done my job.

Sometimes, baseball is more than just baseball.

Gift Ideas for Your Favorite Coach

Do you have an amazing coach that has given your kids a great experience at their favorite sport?  As we all know, a good coach is hard to find.  These guys are volunteers and choose to spend their time teaching and helping our kids.  I know we all want a meaningful way to show our appreciation.

I love the idea of going in together as a Team and doing something nice for your favorite coach.  There are many ideas circulating but these are my favorite.

The parents on our team usually collected money for a very nice gift card to various restaurants or sporting goods stores and present it to the Coaches at the End of the Season Party.  This is such a great idea.  They do this on their own.  They know as a team mom, I am working on a gift from the players to the coaches, and I have something special I give to our players….See my post on Team Mom: End of Season Gifts for Coaches and Players.

A meaningful gift for a coach from their players, is a team picture, surrounded by a mat, in a nice frame that the players have signed.  I’ve had several coaches tell me they really appreciated this.  My husband loves seeing pictures of every team he has coached on a special wall in our home.  See my post on Team Mom: End of Season Gifts for Coaches and Players.

Another great idea I heard about was from my friend, Donna.  A coach she had worked with had really done an outstanding job with her kids.  She also knew he was a HUGE Boston Red Sox fan.  She emailed them telling them how excellent this coach was and that she wanted to do something nice for him.

They sent her a bottle of field dirt…to some, it might not mean that much, but to him, it meant the WORLD.  It contained actual MLB Authenticated game-used dirt from Fenway Park.  You can actually go to an authentication database and enter the hologram number which is displayed on the bottle.  This validates that this is actually game-used field dirt.  A very thoughtful gift, and something very meaningful to a true fan.

So, if you are looking for a meaningful gift for an important person or favorite Coach…. find out what their favorite team, or player, and try sending that email to that professional organization to see what they may send you or see what you can find online.

Everyone appreciates a good coach and we want to properly show our gratitude!

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How to Prevent ‘Little League Elbow’

As a Coach of 9 and 10 year olds, my husband has always monitored the pitch count of our pitchers in a game.  He never lets them go too long.  He is always trying to prevent injury and keep those young arms healthy.

In October, our son, a 10 year old pitcher, was pitching in a game.  He said there was that “one pitch” that “hurt his elbow”.  Hmmm

Of course, we took this seriously, iced it, and kept an eye on it.  After a few days, the pain was still there.  Not good.

After my husband did some research on the internet, we knew something was up, and took him to a pediatric orthopedist.

He had ‘Little League Elbow’.

‘Little League’ What?  What in the world???

‘Little League Elbow’ is something that most commonly occurs between the ages of 8-15 in children that do a lot of OVERHAND THROWING.  It is an injury caused by OVERUSE of REPETITIVE THROWING motion.  The overuse puts too much pressure on the growth plate of inner side of elbow, where the ligament attaches to the growth plate.

HealthyChildren.org says, “Growing Bones are easily injured because the growth plate is much weaker than the ligaments and muscles that attach to it.”

We explained to the doctor that we were NOT crazy aggressive coaches but that we always kept a count of his pitches, etc. etc.

He was happy to hear that but explained to us that it’s not only PITCHING in a game but can include playing CATCHER in a game and all of the warm-up before the game and in between innings.  If a kid throws 50 pitches in a game, then plays catcher in the next few innings, this quickly adds up to 100 THROWS in a day…or more!

He also explained to us that it is not only pitching and catching in a day/game but the OTHER THROWING that we don’t think about.

How many times does he throw in PE?  How about the Fitness Program before school?  What about Recess?  How many throws happen when he’s throwing a ball up against the house in the driveway?

It all adds up.  This is why I wanted to spread the word…

It’s not all about pitching, or catching, or outfield throwing, or just baseball…it is the accumulation of it all and being young, active boys.

The doctor said to rest the arm for 3-4 weeks.  For our son, it took a little bit longer.  We were fortunate that our Fall season was getting ready wrap up so he would have a long off season to heal.  He had to wear a sling for a couple of weeks to remind him not to use his arm.  He was not very happy.  After the pain stopped, he had to do some strengthening exercises that the doctor sent us.  The doctor also said that it was ok to play basketball, or something else that uses other muscles besides the “throwing muscles”.   But, also no Frisbee, or push-ups for a while… it would put too much stress on the elbow.

It is essential to have “normal rest” after pitching which includes NO THROWING during days off and during normal play activities.  Our son has learned to use his non-dominant left arm for throwing in PE at school, etc.

Every league has different rules on resting between days they pitch but “common sense” rules for 9/10 year olds include:

Throws more than 25 pitches, good idea to rest 1 day

Throws more than 50 pitches, 2 days rest between appearances

Throws more than 70 pitches, 3-4 days rest between appearances

Do NOT throw more than 70 pitches in a day!

My husband is extra careful not to let pitchers-catch and catchers-pitch in the same day if at all possible.  Recently, we had a double header and were quickly running out of pitchers so some had to double up for some quick innings.  Again, the total THROW count was low.

So, please keep an eye on the number of throws your boys do in a day.  Add in PE, Fitness Club, Recess, outside play at home.

My son used to throw a ball against the wall in the basement before this happened.  It’s hard being such an active boy.   Again, he has learned to throw with his non-dominant left arm and has actually gotten pretty good at it.  In every challenge, you can find success….

For more information, please check out these important links about ‘Little League Elbow’

healthychildren.org

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

Let’s keep those arms healthy!!

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The Final Game at Turner Field

What a fun and meaningful day.  It was a bittersweet day.  We are excited for things to come but sad to say Goodbye to a place where we have spent so much time.

I’m really proud of the Braves Organization for working so hard to make this day so special for all of us, as we are life long Braves fans.

I loved seeing the alums during pre-game like Javy Lopez, Chipper Jones, Marcus Giles, Rafael Furcal, Adam LaRoche, Andruw Jones, Brian Jordan, and Gary Sheffield.  We all loved the moment when Greg Maddox, John Smoltz, and Tom Glavine walked in together from Centerfield to throw out the first pitch.  To have Timothy Miller sing the National Anthem as well as ‘God Bless America’ was a special treat.

I’m so happy that our Braves are playing strong baseball, winning their last 12 out of 14, and ended the season well.

And of course, how perfect that Hank Aaron would throw out the final pitch to Bobby Cox in a great closing ceremony!

Thank you to the Atlanta Braves, for a very proper tribute.

So now we say, so long Turner Field!  A new chapter begins at SunTrust Park!  Go Braves!

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Our Memories at Turner Field

Our Memories at Turner Field…  Where do I start?  There are too many to count.  I truly can’t believe that we are about to go in to the last weekend at this ballpark.  I am excited about SunTrust Park and all of the new awesomeness that we are about to experience, but, I am a little sad to say goodbye to a place where we have spent so much time.

My husband and I attended the second game ever at Turner Field in April of 1997.  We were only dating at the time.  Our first date had been to a Braves game at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium just the summer before, now our life together was to continue at Turner Field.  Since then, we have gotten engaged, married, and had 2 children, who are now 11 and 15 years old.

Over the years, we have attended MANY MANY games.  When we aren’t attending, we are watching the game on TV.  We started bringing our children when they were young, but only 2-3 times a year.  As they got older, we started attending more and more games and ultimately found ourselves becoming A-List members and attending 20+ games a season.

Our babies attending their first ballgame when each was around 4 months old.  They both sat so still and were in awe of everything going on around them.  They have loved it from the beginning!

As I look back at the number of years we have attended games, I am amazed of how many friends and family members we have run into there and attended games with.

I think about how many times we have run the bases, both on the field and up in the Coca-Cola Sky Field area, or how many times we have pitched or hit a ball in Scout’s Alley, or how many times my son has played foam baseball in the Children’s Healthcare Family Zone.  I wonder how many times my daughter and I have gotten our face painted, how many times we have walked around the warning track, chased foul balls, or have been on our feet cheering our guys on to win.

We have celebrated our wedding anniversaries, our children’s birthdays, graduations, Mother’s Days, Father’s Days, large groups from our youth group at church and school, etc.etc.

The list goes on and on……

I think about the number of hotdogs, pizzas, chicken fingers, bags of cotton candy, ice cream cones, and King of Pop popsicles we have eaten.  The number of posters that my children have made to support their favorite players, the number of balls we have caught during batting practice, and the number of players that have thrown a baseball to my children, which is an absolutely precious gift.

I think about the time my husband caught a homerun ball, hit by Evan Gattis, in his glove in centerfield on Father’s Day!  And the time a homerun ball, hit by Freddie Freeman, bounced on the seat behind me and I reached up and caught it barehanded.

I think about the number of post-game concerts we have stayed for, the number of fireworks displays, and the number of rain delays we have sat through…

But most importantly, the number of hours we have spent watching our favorite game, cheering on our favorite team… together.

My children will remember growing up at this Ballpark.

I’ve always loved it that when we were at a game, my childhood or current friends would send me a message saying, “Hey!  We are at the game, are you here?”  They knew we would be there, and this has prompted some very fun reunions.

At the start of this season there was so much negativity surrounding how the Braves were playing and attendance has been low, so we have been able to “stretch our legs” a little bit at games this year.  But now, I am THRILLED that the team is playing FANTASTIC baseball, winning their last 10 out of 11 games, and there will be a sold out crowd at the Final game this Sunday to celebrate the final game.  I’m so proud of our team and always proud to be a Braves Fan!

I feel a little nostalgic to say ‘so long’ to Turner Field, but so excited for the next chapter at SunTrust Park.  This team is going to take us very far in the years to come!!  Just Wait!

So, Thank you to The Atlanta Braves and Turner Field for making the last several years really fun and enjoyable for our family.

Our Memories are Priceless.

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Always a Great Fireworks Show!
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We got to meet Steve Avery!!
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We were chosen to be a part of a pre-game parade and Matt Wisler was warming up!
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Paul Byrd stopped to take a picture with me. He is the nicest guy! He does a great job reporting about the Braves.
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The Braves treat their season ticket holders very well and gave us a ‘Play Day’ at Turner Field.  They fed us, let us play catch on the field, and gave us a tour of the ballpark.  This is the Braves dugout (in the rain)
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In 2015, our son was chosen to be the Honorary Team Captain for the game that night which meant he got to go to home plate and meet the umpires and both managers! He was so happy.

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An autographed ball by Fredi Gonzalez and Andrelton Simmons!  Andrelton threw a ball to my daughter during batting practice the day before and on this day he signed it!  We loved him!

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This was our son’s birthday/last day of school/5th grade graduation day, so, of course, we were headed to the Braves game that night!  He was so excited!  The Braves found out it was his birthday/5th grade graduation so they upgraded our seats to 4th row by the Braves on-deck circle.  It was such a special treat!
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I’ve always thought this was supercool!
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Batting Practice

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My family. 🙂  We were at the Lead-off Luncheon at Turner Field with the Braves players and coaches back at the beginning of this season.  A really fun day!

 

5 Minute Mexican Chicken!

The other night I was craving Mexican food and decided to make something based on what I had in my kitchen.  We were short on time so I looked to see what I could throw together.  I happened to have the Purdue Carved Chicken Breast strips, shredded mozzarella cheese, green and red salsa and tortillas on hand.  The creative juices were flowing…I went to work.

I sprayed my skillet with nonstick cooking spray, turned it on medium heat, and added grilled chicken strips.  I used a plastic spatula (if you are using a non-stick pan) and started to cut chicken strips into smaller pieces.  I threw in some shredded cheddar, sharp cheddar, and/or some shredded mozzarella cheese in and stirred.  I love cheese in case you can’t tell.  🙂  I pulled apart a flour tortilla into small pieces and threw it in, blended and melted it all together.  That’s it, I was DONE.

5 minutes!!  No joke.

I served this with tortilla chips, desired amount of remaining cheese, green salsa, and red salsa. It was so yummy!  My family loved it!  On a day when I can plan better, I plan on serving this with guacamole, sour cream, chopped tomato, chives, etc. etc.  You can have this wonderful mixture in tortilla and make it a burrito, or put the mixture in a taco, or eat the mixture just by itself.  It is so yummy.

This is a great quick dish to make before a baseball/softball practice to give our kids lots of protein and something very filling.  This would also be a great “football game” dish when your hanging out at home with your family watching your favorite game on TV.

If you don’t want to do the refrigerated Chicken Breast Strips, you can always put some boneless/skinless chicken breasts in a slow cooker and cook it all day, then add your cooked chicken with the ingredients above to make the mixture.

Last year, we went to Epcot and ate in “Mexico” at the restaurant called, San Angel Inn.  I had a wonderful side dish there called, Chilaquiles.  It was incredibly good and when I asked the server about it, she told me all about the history of it and how to make it.  She just said to mix a corn tortilla (torn up) with shredded cheese and green salsa in a skillet with non-stick spray and blend for a very yummy side dish.  It was so tasty.

This dish is definitely inspired by the Chilaquiles!  I see several Chilaquiles recipes that are quite complicated, but this is so simple and it takes 5 minutes.  I like to get creative in the kitchen, many times making up my own dishes because I like to see how food can work together for the greatest flavor and how simple cooking can actually be.  I like to see how quickly a dish can come together.  I know many people that spend hours and hours in the kitchen cooking up the perfect masterpiece.   But with our schedules and kids, and multiple ball practices/games, music rehearsals, there is NO WAY.  I like to find the simplest, quickest, and yummiest way to cook.  And this is one of my favorites.

ingredients

Quick Mexican Chicken Mixture

  • Purdue Short Cuts Carved Chicken Breast -Original Roasted
  • Desired amount of shredded Cheese (your preference- I use Mozzarella, Sharp Cheddar, and Cheddar)
  • Flour Tortilla-tear into small pieces
  • Non-Stick Spray

Spray your Skillet with Non-Stick Spray, add Chicken and cook over medium heat, cut up chicken as you are stirring with a plastic spatula. <Multi-tasking!>

Add desired cheese and stir.

Tear Tortilla into small pieces and add to skillet, stir and spray again with non-stick spray to avoid it getting too dry.  Add any extra desired cheese.

Continue stirring and melting for another minute or so until well blended.

All done!

Serve on a plate with the mixture alone, with a tortilla as a chicken burrito, taco or whatever you desire.  Surround with tortilla chips and your favorite toppings (Guacamole, Sour Cream, Salsa, Tomatoes, etc.) and favorite cheeses.

Eat well and Enjoy!