Monday, March 29, 2010

the trial

After I watched this, all I could think was that Snoop looked so young in this video. He was 23. [Lyrics NSFW.]

On the second day of jury duty, I was prepared for the shuttle and the metal detector. The bailiffs had shown us how to get in the special door and how to sign in, so I was prepared for that too. What I wasn't prepared for was what would happen after we were instructed to file into the courtroom.

Believe it or not, we heard the opening statements and all dozen witnesses in a single day. We had been given pencils and steno pads, the kind I used to use for vocab lists for Latin and Greek classes, and told to take good notes because we only got once chance to hear the testimony.

To everyone's credit, all thirteen jurors paid rapt attention to the proceedings. But honestly, it was impossible not to. Perhaps I've watched too much Law and Order, but I kept zoning into the proceedings so hard that I'd have to remind myself that I wasn't watching a movie, that I was a real juror and that this was real life.

We heard from a few expert witnesses but mostly we heard from folks from the neighborhood. The neighborhood in this case was in the absolute depths of crack-riddled poverty. Several of the witnesses were admitted crack users. Several were convicted felons. All of them were terrified to be there--wary of the law because of one bad experience after another with the police, confused about the proceedings and the idea of being cross-examined, and most of all absolutely petrified that their testimony would end up costing them their lives. Snitches get stitches.

What played out was a fascinating study in complete cultural incongruity. The witnesses didn't understand proper courtroom decorum. You can fault the prosecution for that, but then again I can appreciate that it is difficult to make someone comfortable with the very structured proceedings of a trial in a short amount of time. The witnesses tried to get on the stand and tell their side of the story, and they became frustrated and seemed to shut down when the judge or the lawyers would stop them and explain that they had to only answer exactly the question they were being asked. Several got worked up and talked back to the judge and the attorneys. A few were friends of the victim, so they got (understandably) upset when they recounted the details of the night. The witnesses spoke with a strong accent (I am still kind of shocked that 'African American Vernacular English' is the preferred term but that's the best way to describe it--very deep AAVE with a Georgia twist) and had varying ability to speak precisely, which lead to really interesting semantic issues. For example, back window meant window in my back bedroom that faces the front ie front window. The prosecution seemed fairly well-versed in working with witnesses from this type of background, but I was not very impressed with his ability to identify the miscommunications that were taking place and straighten them out clearly for the jury. Confusion all around.

We went all day with just a brief break for lunch. I headed down to the Italian place on the corner and was giddy to discover that they'd make me a personal pizza covered in green olives. My favorite. It was so incongruous, to go from that courtroom and the details of that night to a sunny day and my favorite food and a little time to myself. I turned down an invitation to sit with two lovely ladies from the jury. I knew I would not be able to keep myself from talking about the case with them, and we were forbidden to discuss it. They never asked me in voir dire if I was good at keeping secrets. If they had, they wouldn't have picked me. But I did what seemed like the right thing and tried to separate myself from my fellow jurors for the time being.

Ugh. I am really dying to post all the details, to tell you about what happened and the witnesses and the unintentionally hilarious things the defense lawyer said, but I really feel like it would be disrespectful to all the families and might place me in needless danger. If you are interested in reading about the case, email me and I will send you some links.

Otherwise, I can tell you this. I heard scared people. A lot of scared people. I saw photographs of a dead person. Lots of those too. I heard 911 calls. I saw videos of police statements. I saw the families sitting in the courtroom. I saw the defendant sitting just across the way from me, another human being who by chance I stood in judgment of. I saw photos of buildings, photos of bullet holes, photos of the victim 'in life'. I heard people crying and I saw other people crying silently. That's all I can tell you.

I don't know why I didn't expect the day to affect me, to come home with me like a dog that followed me home. The judge told us to just go home and forget about the trial for the night, but I found that to be impossible. The horrible images I had seen all day, the pleading voices and frightened people, the stories and how they matched and where they differed. It all rushed through my mind unbidden all night, stopping only briefly when I was able to distract myself. I spent a few futile minutes trying to think of any way I could get out of it, any possible excuse I could invent that would excuse me from the next day's deliberations. I couldn't think of anything.

Discussion Question:
Can you think of a time when you were traumatized unexpectedly?

* * * * * * *

This is part two of four in my series about my experience as the foreperson of a murder trial.

one: jury selection
two: the trial
three: deliberations
four: the verdict

Saturday, March 27, 2010

jury selection

I came this close to forgetting that I was on standby for jury duty this past Monday. I had mailed in my little slip a few weeks prior, made a note on my calendar, and promptly forgotten all about it until last week, when the hastily scrawled JURY DUTY on my office calendar caught my eye. Oh well, I thought to myself, at least I'll get a day to just sit in silence and work on my index.

I had been called for jury duty once before--in Austin. I went in at 8:00am and was in my car driving home by 10:45am. So my expectations for jury duty in Atlanta were pretty minimal. Long, boring day, lots of sitting, go home, the end.

Jurors are instructed to park over at Turner Field, ie the Braves' stadium, and take the free county shuttle over to the courthouse. When I pull into the Orange Lot at 7:30am on Monday, it is 42 degrees outside and snowing. I know this does not bode well for an unremarkable day.

Crowded, jostled shuttle ride on Rosa Parks-era Blue Bird bus gives way to an endless snaking line inside the courthouse building. The security line. I am mildly irritated as I pull my laptop out of its case and take off my silver bracelet that always sets of metal detectors. My irritation falls away instantly as I round the corner toward the elevators and spot a memorial to the victims of Brian Nichols' infamous 2005 escape and killing spree at the Fulton County Courthouse. [Note: If you aren't familiar with the Brian Nichols incident, let me warn you before you click that it is really upsetting and really engrossing. Open the link in another window and read it later.] Instantly I am feeling really grateful for the thorough security and the abundance of armed deputies everywhere I look.

Another line at jury check-in and then they turn me loose into the giant potential juror holding pen, where I will sit with hundreds of other people waiting to hear my name called.

I have been warned by my colleagues that there is an appalling scarcity of outlets in the jury pen. Paula, who never fails to impress me with her resourcefulness, advised me to bring a power strip, assuring me that I would become the lady of the hour in that big, depressing room. My fellow potential jurors elect not to carry me around on their shoulders shouting my praises, but a few people are very grateful.

I have three, almost four blessed hours of silence in the jury pen to work on my giant index (ironically, a law book) before, dundundun, they call my name. Sixty lucky jurors are to report downstairs to a certain courtroom for jury selection. Fabulous.

We are seated in the spectator's part of the courtroom, arranged by our recently-assigned juror numbers, and informed that we are about to start voir dire for a murder trial. You have never lived until you have heard Southerners pronounce 'voir dire'. Verr darr.

As soon as they say 'murder trial', the room heaves a little. People look around them like maybe they can just shimmy under the wooden benches and out a side door and go home. I just suck in a deep breath. I am not prepared at all for this. I didn't think I'd even get called into jury selection, let alone for a murder trial. The defendant is sitting right in front of us, his eyes dancing over us, sizing us up.

We are each given little laminated cards with our juror numbers on them. The prosecution and defense lawyers ask us a series of questions about our personal experience with the justice system, whether we've ever witnessed a crime, and lots of other random things that ended up pertaining to the case. If our answer to the question posed is yes, we are to raise our card. They call on us row by row.

What's strange is how much we are affected by each other's answers. For example, one of the questions is 'Have you ever thought you saw a friend or family member in a crowd only to discover it was actually a stranger?' I kind of roll my eyes when the defense lawyer poses the question, but then no one in the first row raises their card. I'm in the second row, and when they get to us, I'm the only one who raises my card. But then virtually everyone in the third, fourth, and fifth rows raises their card without hesitation. It's like no one wants to deviate from the first row, but then once one person has deviated everyone feels comfortable answering honestly.

We get through the group questioning and the judge tells us we have a little time for lunch before we need to report back for our individual questioning. I'm not very familiar with downtown so I end up wandering until I come upon Underground Atlanta.

Underground Atlanta apparently has a long and storied history. For example, it was severely damaged in 1992 during Atlanta's post-Rodney King verdict riots.

Underground Atlanta was once a major tourist attraction and now it's quite run-down and dated-looking. It looks like it was designed by the same people who did Opryland--90s-tastic and delightfully tacky--and it appears that it has had absolutely no maintenance since the last day of the 1996 Olympics. It's a crappy little underground mall just like the crappy underground malls I know and love in New Orleans and basically every city everywhere.

What Underground Atlanta lacks in panache and security and sunlight, it makes up for in cheap Chinese food. I stuff myself with lo mein and orange chicken and steel myself for the next part of voir dire.

It takes all afternoon for them to call us in six at a time for individual voir dire. I am absolutely stunned when the lawyers refer to me by my last name in front of the defendant, and ask me what line of work I'm in. I'm nervous and I can't help myself from chirping in my characteristic sunny way, "I'm a children's book editor!"

I know at that moment that I am hosed. I am looking young and earnest and pure as the driven snow. I am looking like the kind of person who could never find someone guilty of murder. I am going to get picked for this jury. The defense lawyer smiles. They ask me a few more questions and then send me back out into the hallway.

It's almost 5pm when they call us all in to let us know who's been picked. They go down the rows and call us by number. One woman barely muffles a sob as her number is called. I am not at all surprised when my number comes up. They ask us to file into the juror box and sit down. They call the last number and dismiss the other 47 people. The 13 of us look back at them with pleading eyes as they collect their things and file out, relieved smiles on their faces. The judge gives us some instructions and tells us he'll see us at 10am tomorrow.

All I can think is, What just happened?

Discussion Question:
Have you ever been called for jury duty?

* * * * * * *

This is part one of four in my series about my experience as the foreperson of a murder trial.

one: jury selection
two: the trial
three: deliberations
four: the verdict

Sunday, March 21, 2010

pork loin + Vietnamese pork pho

I'm not sure how I've resisted posting this Sade song up until now. I haven't been able to get enough of it over the last month or so! I just think this track sounds so fresh, which is pretty remarkable for an artist who hasn't put out an album in umpteen years.

Anyway, I've been enjoying the challenge of these Leftover Fairy back-to-back meals (see bbq/brunswick stew and balsalmic chicken pasta/enchiladas), so when I saw that pork loin was on sale for $1.99/lb at Kroger last weekend, I sprang into action.

I had never fixed pork loin before, but I figured a giant boneless slab of pork was something I could come to love. This recipe on told me to basically just rub it down with olive oil, and stab it and shove some garlic and rosemary into the wounds. I think it also said something about white wine but I was saving my old white wine for pho. So I just went for it!

My very sensible colleague Sherry recommended that I leave it in the oven at 350 until it registers 140 on the thermometer, and then take it out and cover it with aluminum foil. Sherry has never steered me awry so I did as I was told and it turned out perfect.

Nummy Nell and Jeremy came over to share in the six pounds of deliciousness. Nums brought some incredible mashed potatoes and asparagus and homemade gravy. Mmm!

cradling her creations

Aaaand since my life is dictated by what's on sale at the Murder Kroger, I fixed some baked apples and pears because they were both on sale for $1/lb. This is a QuidQuid QuidQuid original. Just cube some apples and some pears:

and toss them in a little brown sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter:

and pop them in the oven at some appropriate-sounding heat until they are warm and bubbly. This is virtually impossible to mess up.

The potatoes, the asparagus, the pork, the gravy, the apples and pears...this meal really was quite the to-do. So much so, in fact, that I failed to take a single picture of us devouring it. At least I got a picture of dessert: strawberry shortcake!

I would have never thought to use frozen pound cake to fix strawberry shortcake, but then Publix had to go and offer a tempting promotion on strawberries and pound cake, so I gave it a try. I will never, never, never ever buy those nasty shortcake cups you get in the produce section again--the pound cake was SO. MUCH. BETTER.

The two pounds of leftover pork loin were begging to be turned into something interesting. I decided to go for something totally different and try a Vietnamese pork pho. My darling colleague Katya helped me out by bringing me a bunch of herbs and peppers and bean sprouts and fresh rice noodles and pho seasoning from the farmer's market. What a sweetheart!

I wasn't feeling great this week so I decided to push what would have been Wednesday pho off until Sunday dinner. Whoops. By Sunday, the bean sprouts had rotted to mush and had started cause a lot of the herbs to turn. WHOOPS. Luckily, I salvaged enough cilantro, thai basil, and mint for the pho--or rather, what I assumed was enough for the pho, since my recipe didn't call for it.

I decided to use this intriguing Daring Cooks' Challenge post on Guilty Kitchen for my recipe. As usual, I was short a few things and made some stuff up as I went.

First I was supposed to toast some cardamom, cloves, and anise. I didn't have the anise and I didn't really know what I was doing but

it started to look pretty toasty to me, so I was satisfied.

After this exciting first step, there wasn't much to it. Just dump the toasted spices and 8 cups of chicken broth (I used 6 cups chicken broth and 2 cups white wine) and the pork loin and some other stuff (onion, ginger, fish sauce, etc) in our old friend the crock pot. I threw in one of those pho seasoning cubes--it was basically just salt, sugar, and MSG. Mmmm, delicious MSG.

If I had it to do all over again, I would have put this on first thing in the morning so it had all day to simmer and break the pork down into shreds. As it was, we got kind of hungry so after a couple of hours I fixed the rice noodles, portioned them out into bowls, and poured the broth over it. Then I pulled the pork apart and arranged it on top.

Normally I detest cilantro but the fresh cilantro on top was the perfect compliment. There were supposed to be all kinds of other toppings. I forgot about the lime, and we only remembered the hoisin and sriracha when we were halfway through our bowls, and the peppers turned out to be a WEE bit too hot.

They are so beautiful but good lord! I touched one of those slices to my tongue and my entire mouth and lips were burning for 45 minutes. I opted to just throw a few teeny tiny slices in the crock pot and throw the rest in the freezer for use in possible future bets or bribes.

I was a little skeptical about this dish, what with the cardamom and the MSG and the fresh cilantro and all that questionable stuff, but it was wonderful. The flavor was really complex and robust but not overpowering. It was comforting and kind of fortifying--I've been sick all weekend and a big bowl of this really perked me up. I have a ton leftover that I'm going to freeze in small portions for the next time I get sick or just need something soothing.


Discussion Question:
What is your favorite food to eat when you're sick?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

crock pot bbq and brunswick stew

My crock pot and I are like this.

She's a 1970's Rival Crock Pot-brand crock pot--maybe a wedding gift to my parents or even an artifact from one of their prior marriages--resplendent in faded avocado green and replete with jaunty line drawings of snapping crawdads and sliced onions.

She is a genius. I can just dump food into her and she inevitably turns it into something palatable. She's a little bit of a pain in the ass to clean, but I forgive her her trespasses.

I was so pleased with last week's mushroom and chicken pairing thatI decided to try my hand this weekend at another pair of complementary dishes.

Feeling exceedingly clever on Saturday morning, I pulled a Tupperware container of leftover pork BBQ out of the freezer to thaw. Only it wasn't pork BBQ--it was spaghetti sauce. WHOOPS. So I had to improvise. I am forever ending up with one stray chicken breast or pork chop and throwing the orphan in the freezer for another time. Soooo in a move that is sure to horrify a substantial portion of my readership, I just gathered up all the stray chicken breasts and pork chops (and yes, maybe about a half pound of ground turkey too) and fixed some impromptu Mixed Grill BBQ.

is it chicken? pork? I plead the fif

I just used a packet of McCormick's BBQ pork seasoning and some vinegar, brown sugar, and ketchup. Oooooh so fancy!

In just a few hours, it looks like this!

In the spirit of this absurdly easy dinner, I threw some flour and stuff into my bread maker with some rosemary (STILL trying to get rid of the leftovers from New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp) so we could have a loaf of fresh rosemary bread for sandwiches. It turned out perfect:

and it made wonderful sandwiches!

doesn't it look like it's drooling??

As soon as we were finished with our BBQ sandwiches, I began the back-breaking labor of preparing the Brunswick stew. (If you are not familiar with Brunswick stew, it is a low-country stew popular in Georgia and South Carolina. I had never had it or even heard of it before I moved here.) Like many Southern dishes, it doesn't so much have a recipe so much as an ethos. I cracked open a can of creamed corn and a big can of tomatoes and dumped them in the crock pot on top of the leftover barbeque. I threw 2 cups of homemade chicken stock in on top of that, made sure it was still set to low, and then proceeded to wander off. If I had had it handy, I would have added a can of lima beans. And PRESTO, our dinner for the next night was ready.

I didn't want the rosemary bread to go to waste, so I fixed some Shake N Bake croutons with the leftovers.

Quidquid Quidquid's Shake N Bake Croutons

Heat oven to 275. Chop bread into cubes and put in plastic bag. Pour in a little olive oil, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese. Shake. Bake until tasty-looking.


I was craving something green so I tried my hand at fixing the broccolini I picked up at Kroger on manager's special. The internet said to saute it with some olive oil and lemon I did.

...and it was good! Just a little sweeter and softer than regular broccoli.


Soooo that concludes the Southern edition of The Leftover Fairy!

And since both of these dishes freeze beautifully, I leave you with words of wisdom from Annelle, the patron saint of everything that Freezes Beautifully.

Discussion Question:
Sammy Wayne DeSoto what is this in my Frigidaire?

Monday, March 15, 2010

ars gratia artis

I have had a lot of creative energy recently. My work requires a lot of creative energy, so that's been helping, and I've been cooking a lot AND writing in my blog, but I am still feeling kind of...creatively antsy. antsy song:

I've been known to channel my creativity into weird projects, like building a house for my owls:

click to see the image bigger

or arranging my books in rainbow order:

click to see the image bigger

Apparently I am not the only person with this creative urge. My dear friend and Fellow Fellow Forever Sam Allison has apparently taken to cross-stitching. And she's put her own unique spin on the age-old hobby:

I did not hesitate to heap praise upon Sam via Facebook for her brilliant creations, and mere days later a package arrived at my door!

Despite the fact that it might be a little provocative, I brought it with me to work. It looks amazing with my nodding Hello Kitty.

Anyone who thinks Hello Kitty and guns don't go together clearly did not see my Halloween costume in 2005.

Hello Kitty and Pocahontas, together at last

I digress. Back to my other recent inspirations:

Strawberry Shortcake: Haute couture edition. Ever since The Greyest Ghost posted this series of covers for Lula Magazine, I can't get them out of my head.

Charlotte Di Calypso as Lemon Meringue

Giedre Dukauskaite as Lime Chiffon

Kate Somers as Raspberry Tart

Maybe it's because I was so obsessed with Strawberry Shortcake as a kid. Maybe it's because I'm eating strawberry shortcake at this exact moment. Either way, I love these photos.

Non-tacky ecards. LifeHacker recently linked to this amazingly classy ecard site called Paperless Post. You can create custom letterpressy invitations and save-the-dates and send them to up to 25 people for free.

Admittedly, this site has nowhere near the functionality of good old Evite, which has treated me VERY well through the years. But if you're like me, sometimes you just have to sacrifice function for form.

Nanette Lepore F/W 2010. I was bowled over by this collection, posted by The Greyest Ghost. When was the last time you saw a runway collection that looked so wearable?

that dress!!!!!!!!

Tiny, delicate rings. Kris over at flash your heart posted these adorable rings from catbirdnyc.

Yeah, they're $88. Yes, the teeny-tiny jewelry look is a little passe. Doesn't stop me from admiring them and sighing over them dramatically.

Gaultier corsets the world. I tried on a Gaultier for Target dress last night that seemed to be made out of a plastic tablecloth. But it was a perfectly tailored tablecloth. I almost bought it. Perhaps that's why I'm so delighted by this blurb in Jezebel about Jean-Paul Gaultier:

Jean-Paul Gaultier once made a corset for his cat, as he relates in this exchange with a British journalist: "'Do you know that cats can't wear corsets?' He giggles a little. 'Do you 'ave a cat?' I tell him I do. 'Have you ever tied something round his middle?' I tell him I haven't. 'They can't stand!' he says. 'Not at all! They just fall over. I know because I tried!'"

heeeeeeeeeeere kitty kitty kitty

Recycling fur for baby animals. The good folks over at Jezebel posted this helpful and hopeful fact: The Humane Society accepts donations of used fur coats, which they use to keep baby animals warm:

So if you have an old fur sitting around that you don't wear, donate it to some chilly puppies!

Discussion Question:
What has been inspiring you recently?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

chicken and mushrooms! balsalmic pasta and enchiladas

Remember on Sesame Street, how each episode would be sponsored by a couple of letters and numbers? Like, this episode brought to you by the letter K and the number 7. Well, this blog post is brought to you by two common ingredients: chicken and mushrooms.

...and Chaka Khan.

ADMIT IT--you forgot how good this song is

It was chicken and mushrooms week at the DePalma house. Mushrooms were on sale at Kroger for $1.50/carton, and I had a big 3lb tray of split chicken breasts in my freezer, so just like that, chicken and mushrooms were all the rage.

My girl Rosie over at Naked in the Stacks posted a simple but intriguing recipe for Balsalmic Chicken Penne:

Rosie's Balsalmic Chicken Penne

*1lb chicken breasts, trimmed [I used split breasts]
*1/2lb penne pasta [I used elbow macaroni bc I had a bunch sitting around]
*1/2lb sliced button mushrooms
*1 c. chicken broth plus more reserved
*1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
*1 small onion, sliced
*4 cloves garlic
*italian seasoning (however much you like)
*2 T. olive oil

1. Cut your chicken breasts in to chunks, and marinate in the broth, vinegar, garlic cloves (minced) and italian seasoning in a shallow dish or plastic bag.

I went pretty out of order fixing this dish. Having split breasts instead of b/s breasts, I went ahead and boiled and shredded the meat. I set half of it aside for the next night's enchiladas and threw the rest into a pan with the marinade, letting it cook on very low heat. While it just barely simmered in the pan, I threw the scraps and some of the water from boiling the split breasts into the crockpot along with some salt, some seasonings, a few frozen pearl onions (purchased at Kroger accidentally a few months ago--trying to get rid of them slowly but surely), and the fresh parsley and rosemary I had leftover from New Orleans-style Barbeque Shrimp last week. Voila--8 cups of chicken broth tomorrow morning with virtually no effort on my part.

I admit it--fixing chicken broth from leftover bones and scraps makes me feel sooooo domestic and sensible. Like someone give me a cow to milk or something, jeez

shredded chicken in marinade on low heat

2. While that's marinating, sautee onions in olive oil over medium heat in a pan. Add in mushrooms and cook till they start to give up their water.

Then I got here and I was like whoops so I dumped the chicken and marinade into a bowl I had handy and sauteed the onions and mushrooms instead.

3. Add in your chicken chunks, reserving the juice/marinade and cook through.

4. Add in your marinade and continue cooking until thickened. Add more broth or a little cornstarch to adjust the consistency. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional vinegar if needed.

Since my chicken was already cooked through, I just went ahead and dumped the whole bowl of chicken and marinate in all together and cooked it until it started looking more saucy and less brothy.

5. Serve over penne with some parmesan cheese on top, and a loaf of crusty bread.

Instead I poured it over elbow macaroni and served it trough-style in a big bowl with tons of parmesan.

Marriage is...eating out of one giant bowl in front of the TV to save dishes

Nick and I gobbled it up, and I was able to have the leftovers for lunch two days in a row. I really loved this recipe because I adore balsalmic vinegar and I am always looking for new ways to incorporate it into my cooking. This is also a nice chicken pasta dish that for once doesn't call for tomatoes. I am a tomato fiend but sometimes its nice to fix pasta without cracking open a can of crushed tomatoes.

Soooo we had to eat the next night, too. I had 8 cups of fresh homemade chicken broth and a breast and a half of shredded chicken just begging to be fixed into something delicious, so I decided to try my hand at Sarah's Cucina Bella's Lighter Chicken Enchiladas. I needed to run over to Kroger anyway to pick up the chipotle peppers and the corn tortillas, so I decided to pick up another carton of those mushrooms to round out the dish a little. I felt like it needed more veggies/fungi. You can read about my harrowing mushroom negotiation here. This is cracker-jack material, folks!

Sarah's Lighter Chicken Enchiladas
adapted from Everyday Food
serves 4

*2 tbsp olive oil
*2 cloves garlic, minced
*1/4 cup all-purpose flour [I used cornstarch bc I LOVE cornstarch, so fun]
*1 tsp ground cumin
*1 tbsp minced canned chipotle pepper in adobo [$1.69 at Kroger; I had never used this before but it is tasty]
*1 can chicken broth [I used the fresh broth I just made]
*1/2 cup water
*8 corn tortillas
*1 1/2 lb cooked chicken, chopped [so perfect that it calls for precooked chicken!]
*1 cup cheddar-jack cheese [I used pepper jack bc I had some already]
QUIDQUID BONUS: 1 carton of mushrooms, sauteed lightly

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 8×8 inch square baking pan with cooking oil spray and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Whisk in the flour, cumin and chipotle peppers and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in chicken broth and water. Heat to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until thickened, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, wrap the tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for 1 minute to heat. Set aside.

Spread enough sauce into the bottom of the baking dish to cover lightly. In a medium bowl, toss one cup of sauce with the chicken. Divide the chicken mixture evenly among the tortillas and roll up. Arrange in the baking dish. Top with the remainder of the sauce. Sprinkle with the cheese.

This recipe is so easy, it should be a sin. The sauce came together perfectly and quickly, and then you just roll up the tortillas and throw it in the oven!

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the edges begin to brown ever so slightly. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about five minutes before serving.

If you can possibly wait that long.

I served it with half an avacado, sliced, and a big dollop of fat-free sour cream. We ate the entire pan in less than 10 minutes. SO GOOD.

These recipes go PERFECTLY together. If you want to try them, I would recommend holding off until split breasts and mushrooms go on sale (which is like every other week at Kroger), buying a big tray of split breasts and two cartons of mushrooms, and fixing them back to back like I did. These two recipes fit together so perfectly, with the broth and the shredded chicken and everything. Shop on Sunday and boil the chicken/fix the broth in advance, then you've got the basis for two big easy weeknight dinners PLUS leftovers.

Discussion Question
What makes you feel sensible and domestic?