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!

 

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Playing Baseball in the HEAT-Spring Edition

As the weather gets warmer, it’s time to start thinking a little differently in terms of playing baseball in the HEAT.  In Georgia, it is not uncommon for it to get to 80 degrees in April.  Then, put a team of 9/10 year olds on the field in the direct sun during long innings, and you can have a little situation on your hands.

The players get extremely hot and sometimes overheated during times like these, so here are some tricks to keep your players healthy and cool:

*Make sure they hydrate 2 days before, as well as the day of your game.  If you wait until the day of your game, by then it is too late.  I heard this from Tom Glavine of the Atlanta Braves when he was asked, “How do you survive playing in 100 degree heat?”  That was his answer. You have to hydrate 2 days before your game…If the body is well hydrated, your player will have a better chance of feeling better during the game, playing better, have less cramping, and a better chance of not getting overheated.

*NO DAIRY in the morning if they have a game before noon.  I have seen a few players have some stomach issues because they had yogurt or other dairy products for breakfast before a 9:00am game in the hot weather.  Not a good idea.  Did you guys hear about the time that Justin Bieber threw up on stage during his concert because he drank milk right before he went on?  Yuck!  You get the idea….

*Have your child drink plenty of water, Powerade, Gatorade, etc. DURING the game….make sure your player has a full thermos of ice water and drink it every chance they get.  Please remind them that it’s important to stay on top of it and drink BEFORE they get too hot or thirsty.

On really hot days, I will take ice packs or a sandwich bags filled with ice, put them in a cooler and let the boys put them on the back of their necks and wrists to cool them down between innings.  They are so grateful that someone recognizes that they need this.  I also have the little fans that can hang around their necks so they can feel some cool air blowing on their face.  It’s not a bad idea to ask the parents to purchase a FrogTog towel for their player since it stays cool, it can go around the neck, and they can cool down in between innings.

Afterwards, I’ve seen my son play a hot game but not seem to be able to get his energy back in the hours following the game.  His pediatrician had already told me to give him on Carnation Instant Breakfast to help him catch up with his weight… but… this drink also gives great energy since it is filled with vitamins and nutrients, so I decided to use it as a post-game recovery drink.

It works wonders.

I mix the Chocolate Carnation powder with 12 ounces of whole milk and he has a nice, cool, refreshing drink that helps him feel full, cooled down, and revitalized. I had already heard that Chocolate Milk is good for muscle recovery, and with Carnation being a Nutritional Drink, it got my wheels turning and I decided to make it into a smoothie.

It just hits the spot.  I use it myself after a workout and it is perfect.

I use:

  • 12 ounces of milk… for kids I use whole milk since my son is a little underweight, for myself I use skim milk.
  • 1 Carnation Instant Breakfast Powder Packet – Chocolate or Vanilla Flavor–or Protein Powder for Adults
  • Frozen Blueberries (a handful) if desired—acts as the ice cubes in your smoothie
  • Banana
  • 1 Tablespoon of Peanut Butter
  • For Fun: I just MIGHT put a scoop of chocolate or vanilla ice cream– just for my son, not for me. 🙂
  • For Adults:  I will put in 1 Tablespoon of Chia Seeds and/or Flax Seed

Also, with smoothies it is suggested that you put them in your blender in this order:

  1. Liquid first—this will help your blades move easily when you turn on your blender
  2. Powders next—protein powder, cocoa powder, Carnation Instant Breakfast.
  3. Soft Foods—Bananas, etc.
  4. Hard Foods—frozen fruits, raw veggies
  5. Ice Cubes—LAST! They will help the blades pull all the other ingredients down.

I found a pack of Smoothie Straws that help drinking these a lot easier.

We play a month of summer baseball and it is an entire different “ballgame” in terms of staying cool.   The heat index can easily get up to 100 degrees.  I will post about “survival tips” in ‘Playing Baseball in the Heat-Summer Edition’ very soon.

In the meantime, Stay cool, friends, and have a great Spring!

 

 

 

 

 

To Our Amazing Softball Girls!

This game teaches important lessons that you will take with you in life.

It teaches perseverance, it builds character, it builds strength.

It builds confidence.

In your time of struggles, your determination and commitment will help you accomplish something new you didn’t know you could do before.

Show ’em what you’re made of, Softball girl!

Go. Be. Great.

 

Team Mom: How to Accommodate Multiple Food Allergies on your Team

With coaching baseball for a long time and managing several teams, there comes the issue of post-game snack and food allergies.  We want everyone to be safe, yet be able to enjoy the snack after the game with everyone else.

I always ask the parents at the beginning of the season if there are any food allergies.  I’ve had those parents that don’t want to tell me because they don’t want their child to be embarrassed, and then some don’t want to say because they don’t want the other parents to have to worry about accommodating their child.

On the other hand, I’ve had some that WOULD like for their child not be left out of post-game snack.

I agree.

Personally, I want everyone to be able to enjoy the snack/drink/party food so we try to accommodate as much as possible.  Usually the parents on our team want the same thing.

Last season, we had 3 different food allergies on the same team.  Peanut, Egg, and Tree Nut.  This was the first time we had had multiple food allergies on one team in the same season.  I had asked the parents of the kids with the allergies to give me some snack suggestions but I didn’t hear back from them.  I think they were afraid to suggest something that could possibly be harmful for the other food allergy?  I’m not sure.

At first thought, you would think it would be extremely hard to find a variety of common safe foods for all…. but, this is NOT true. It was actually VERY EASY.

I googled “snacks free of peanut/egg/tree nuts” and found http://snacksafely.com/snacklist.pdf.  There is a long list of safe snack foods for these food allergies.  It was incredibly simple and took 2 minutes!

So, every week leading up to our games, I sent a snack/drink reminder 2 days prior to our scheduled game and telling the parents what allergies we had (but not who had them), and the link with the long list of foods that they can choose from.

It was a great resource to have and it made it easy finding safe foods that could accommodate everyone.  I had a great group of parents that were very happy to help.

So, if your child has a food allergy, don’t be afraid to speak up.  There are several different websites that I found that have GREAT IDEAS of foods to enjoy that accommodate several different allergies.

http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2012/10/18/25-allergy-friendly-snacks-for-your-child-with-special-needs/

http://jazzyallergyrecipes.blogspot.com/p/egg-free-dairy-free-nut-free-snack-list.html

http://islandpicnic.com/recipes/snacks-desserts/20-allergy-friendly-after-school-snacks-milk-egg-nut-free/

http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/page/recipes-diet.aspx

If you are a team mom and trying to find safe foods for your team, or have a child with food allergies, I hope these links will help you.  In the end, the parents on your team will ultimately decide if they feel comfortable with their child eating was has been brought.  I have found it is better to have a pre-packaged snack instead of a homemade snack, so the label can be read carefully, and possible cross contamination from a kitchen can be avoided.

In the end, we want everyone to be safe and have a great baseball/softball experience!

Do you have any snack ideas to help with the different food allergies?  Helpful links or recipes?

Please share them with me… I would love to know more and can pass them on.

 

Opening Week of Braves Baseball

Opening SeriesThis time last Monday, we woke up with such excitement over Opening Day of Atlanta Braves Baseball.

Finally…after five L O N G months!

For us, it was Spring Break and we were happy!  My husband was off from work and kids were out of school.  Perfect.  The game was at 4:00 and it was a beautiful weather day.

Baseball Pancake
They were not the most beautiful, but they were fun and tasty.

I was so excited that I made baseball pancakes.  🙂

They were not the most beautiful, but they were fun and tasty.

As we were making our way downtown to the ballpark, we were met with many other cars on the highway in the middle of the afternoon!  Apparently, many other people were headed to Turner Field, too!  Awesome!  There was such an excitement in the air of the season to come.  It turned out to be a sold out crowd that night.  Excellent!

We usually go early for batting practice so maybe the kids can catch a homerun ball or maybe the players on the field will throw them one.  We save every ball.  I hope the players realize how much it means to our kids when they throw them a ball.  I especially love it when the players interact and can be funny.  With a simple friendly gesture, they quickly become our kids’ heroes.

Batting Practice
Batting Practice game 2
Pitchers
These guys are the best at throwing balls to the crowd

We ended up going to 3 games this week and the Lead-off Luncheon.  It was so much fun.  The Lead-off Luncheon involves the players and coaches.  One player or coach sits at every table.  This year we were able to sit with Alexi Ogondo, relief pitcher.  Williams Perez sat at the table next to us, and Jose Ramirez sat at the table on the other side of us.  I was also able to see some friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time, so it was a very memorable day.  I was very proud of my children.  Not only did they handle themselves very well, they dressed up nice, thought the food was incredible (it was), and they thought it was the coolest thing ever to be eating lunch in the same room as their favorite players.  I have to agree.

Leadoff Luncheon
Chip Caray was interviewing Kelly Johnson, Freddie Freeman, Jeff Francouer, and Jason Grilli.  You see Williams Perez in the foreground, light blue shirt, gray jacket
Luncheon 2
You see Alexi Ogondo right in the front in blue checkered shirt, dark jacket

We always love to see our friends at the ballpark.  We have been season ticket holders for a few years now, so we get to see the same people.  Years ago, we started talking to one fellow, George, who works in the area where the kids can run the bases.  He’s been there now for 10 years.  We go see George every game we attend.  He is always kind, genuine, and happy.  Our kids don’t go to the run the bases anymore but we always go say hello. We found a picture of him from several years ago as we were taking a picture of our kids running the bases when they were small.  It is so neat to look back and notice someone in your pictures that you didn’t realize you would know later.

The Braves this week have had more than their share of struggles.  They are 0-5.  But, our happiness is not based on whether they win or lose.  I hope one day soon they can figure out what makes this new team work and find their success.

If you haven’t been following the Braves very closely. Here’s the scoop:  Over the past 2 years or so, the Braves have gone through a rebuilding process that has included many trades, trying to get rid of long term high paying contracts and focusing on the farm system (minor league teams) and building them up (home grown) to become our primary Major League Players.  It has been a painful process that has resulted in some of our higher playing favorites to be traded and to grow these younger guys properly to get them ready for our Major League team.  It is also a very long process that might take a couple of years still, but the end result will be a winning team that will produce major results.  The eye being on the World Series Title.  a.k.a. the “Long Range Plan”

We will still enjoy the games at Turner Field.  We are not fair-weathered fans.  Is it painful to watch what they are go through??  YES!!!  But, dark days do not last forever.  They will be great again someday!  Remember the Braves in the 90s??

Attending games at Turner Field is something we enjoy and with the family and friends we get to spend time with.  Just the other night, we ran into 2 families that we knew and they said to me, “We knew you would be here” and I will be.  One night, I looked up onto the Jumbo Tron and saw my high school friend, John, answering a question for a contest and won a $100 gift card to Home Depot.  I was able to go find him and later met his family.

So, as our kids go back to school today and my husband goes back to work, I will fondly remember a really good week together.  We enjoyed sleeping in, doing some fun family things, and cheering on our Atlanta Braves.

Go Braves!

Fireworks
Friday Night Fireworks at Turner Field

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today is Opening Day!

Baseball.

We love the game.

It’s more than just a game, it is an experience…

and we love every minute.

From batting practice to the final out…

It is a time to sit with my family and watch a game we love

that we talk about often…

We cheer together, laugh together, and we ARE together.

It’s a time to watch our favorite players and gain some new ones

It is time to celebrate a new season and encourage our players…

that are living their dream.

I am a true fan.

Win or Lose.  I will be there.

We have had so many memories at Turner Field.  Too many to count.

Our first game there, my husband and I were just engaged and now we have been married almost 18 years and have kids that are 10 and 14.

I could not be happier that today is Opening Day.

Here’s to a brand new season

brand new chances

and brand new memories…

Go Braves!

 

One Week Until Opening Day!

We are so excited for a new season of Atlanta Braves Baseball!  Go Braves!!

One week

Pressure

Pressure.   The pressure that parents put on their kids. It is sad.

Today our 2 kids played 3 games again.  1 baseball/2 softball.

The Situation… Bases loaded… 2 outs… Bottom of the final inning.  The team is down by one run.  The count is 3-2… The batter hasn’t swung at any of the first 5 pitches.  Her parents begin yelling at her to “SWING THE BAT!  SWING THE BAT!”  She glares at her parents…

On the next pitch, a ball out of the strike zone, a pitch she normally wouldn’t swing at, she started her swing but stopped it… called strike 3 on the check swing!  Game Over…

What would have been a base on balls and tie game…

All because her parents were putting heated pressure on her to swing the bat.

I find this sad.  This is supposed to be fun.

Last week we heard a coach completely LOSE it on the field because he was SCREAMING at HIS OWN CHILD during a practice!  Why?  This is supposed to be fun.

We also heard another mom last week, who was a self-proclaimed softball superstar in college, telling her daughter whether or not to swing at a pitch as the ball IS IN MID-FLIGHT!

Why?  This is supposed to be fun.

With this tremendous pressure that parents are placing on their kids, it is going to drive them away from doing something they love, or something that they are really good at.

Why can’t they be there to celebrate in the good times and encourage in the bad times?

I wish parents could just enjoy watching their kids play…

At this game today, not only did this girl feel like she let her parents down, she felt like she let her team down.  That is too much responsibility for one to have because her parents put tremendous pressure on her to do something she wasn’t comfortable doing…  She is a decent hitter and had a good chance to make the right decision at the plate.

My kids have both struggled at the plate recently… it’s been hard for them.  But today our daughter went 2-2 in her first game and walked twice in her second game.  Why?  Because of her HARD WORK!  She has been taking extra batting practice and working with “Coach Dad” to get better.  She could have easily gotten discouraged and walked away from softball forever!  But no!  We have encouraged her.  She knows that her parents believe in her and support her.  NO MATTER WHAT!  In good times and in bad times! Today, we CELEBRATED with her!  We TRUSTED her and she BLOSSOMED!

There was definitely no screaming involved.

Sarah Softball
The pitch was low and away.  She went for it and NAILED it!

Kids need just their parents to BELIEVE in them!

One day these high pressure parents are going to be surprised at the answer when they ask, “You don’t want to play ball anymore?”

2 3watermark

Team Mom: Ways to get your season started

If you are a Team Mom, then Congratulations!  You have a very important role.  It is fun and rewarding.  You will find yourself a coach’s assistant, administrative assistant, fellow coach, parent liaison, and have a fun connection with the boys.  It has been a very rewarding experience for me, one that I love doing because it is helping our teams do something so very special.  You can really help make baseball a very good experience for these boys.  This is my 12th season doing this with my husband, the head coach, and with our son who is passionate about baseball.  I am happy to help you along this journey….

This is how it has worked for us.

First, I get a copy of our players, parent phone numbers, and email addresses. If you are married to your head coach, this information should come easy to you.  If you are not married to your head coach and/or working with someone else, then please make sure you get this information.  In our situation, we get our roster and parent information and our practices start almost immediately.  So my hubby/coach has to call the families pretty quickly so they know what day to show up for practice.  Usually there is a team meeting the night of the first practice (or whenever your coach chooses) … so please make sure to attend so you meet the parents and say hello.

After the coach’s first introduction, either by call, email, or parent meeting, I usually send everyone an email further introducing myself.  Please include your cell phone number in every email in case parents need to contact you.

In your introductory email, you want to pack in as much information as possible.  The questions that every parent has is,

  • When is the game schedule coming out?
  • When do we bring snacks and drinks for our team?

I will answer these questions… usually in our case, the game schedule doesn’t come out for another week or so, and I will assure them I will get it to them as soon as it comes out. Then, at that time I will coordinate post-game snacks and drinks.

  • Ask if anyone has any food allergies
  • ask that the Medical Release Form be filled out and turned back in to you (if applicable)
  • Ask for their cell phone number

We have started to ask for our parent’s cell phone numbers for a texting list.  Parents really appreciate this.  This is great to communicate those last minute cancellations or field changes that needed to be communicated immediately.  Especially when you are on a travel team or moving around from one location to another, it is important to have that direct line of communication.  Texting is even more efficient than email.  There are team communication apps to assist with this now but require a sign up or install, and cost.  If parents have to sign up, register their number, or install an app, we have found, you only get half of them.  You’ll have to text or email out the important message anyway.

Also in your introductory email, include information about screen printing names and numbers on the back of the jerseys. (if it applies to you-see below)

In Recreational baseball:  At the first practice, it is important to get every player’s desired number for the back of the jersey.  In some situations we have been given jerseys with numbers 1-12 to pass out, in other cases the boys can choose any number they want.  It is important to research the t-shirt screen printing places in your area. We had some that charge as high as $7.50 to screen print a name (numbers were already on) on the back of the jersey but can have it done in 48 hours. Then, we have some that will take as long as two and a half weeks. I am not happy with the high cost and it definitely should not take 2½ weeks.  Even the store owner was mortified at this time frame and gave us the screen printing cost for free.  The perfect situation is to find someone that can do it for around $5 and can do it very quickly. A few days seems acceptable but the trick is to get started early so you’ll have time to get your jersey back before the first game.  Remember there are several other teams turning their shirts to be screen printed also.

We are now on a ‘Select’ Baseball team at our park, so they are handling uniforms and screen printing.  Just this morning, I just got an email saying that we all have to pay a small fee for the cost of putting names and numbers on jerseys, and monogramming numbers on hats.  The cost?  $10.  And so it goes…

Some leagues require a medical release form to be filled out by each parent with a doctor’s contact information, parent info, and date of last tetanus booster in case of an emergency.  Parents can return these to you at practice or email these to you for their convenience (and you can print them out). It is necessary to make sure you get one from every parent.   I usually keep a notebook with these forms, game schedule, and snack/drink schedule in a small notebook and in my bag.  That way I’m always prepared if anyone has a question.

Our league also asks each family on our teams to provide snacks and drinks for after one of the games in the season.  I always ALWAYS let my parents sign up for whatever game works for them because if they know the time that they will be out of town or will not be able to attend games, it take the stress out of not having to worry about switching around with another family for snack. This is just my personal preference. I do not like being signed up for something and then it falling on a weekend if I can’t be there. It happens every time.  Then it’s just one more thing to have to worry about. Usually, all my families will respond to sign up within the day. I do have a couple of parents that will say, “just sign me up wherever” so I will just put them in the missing weeks.  I like to give them the option to sign up for what works for them.  I feel it is more respectful of their time.

If a parent does not sign up for snack, I’ll ask them if they can take a particular game.  They will always say yes.  I have found that parents are happy to help.  If you are nice, they’ll be nice, too.  I assure them that I will send them an email reminder 1-2 days prior to their scheduled game.  I found they are thankful for this, too.

I feel that coaching or being a team mom is an outreach to our community.  It is an opportunity to touch lives.  You never really know what kind of home that these kids are coming from.  Some don’t have good situations at home, even if you live in a nice area.  Some have parents dealing with divorce, or illness, or a disability.  Some have hardships beyond our comprehension.  Some have never played baseball before and are scared to death.  Some don’t have dads at home to work with them or to simply play catch.  Baseball could be the very thing that lets them escape from all of that.  It is our job to give them a few hours a week of positive, uplifting, confidence building, team building fun.  It is important to build a good, long lasting baseball experience that they will remember forever.

Let’s Play Ball!