Happy birthday, Al! You are 24, you amazing person you. I am so happy that you are my sister. (That goes for you too Aud! Not the birthday part.) As I stated earlier this week, I am going to briefly talk about my sisters. Briefly because I don’t think they would appreciate a full-fledged indulge fest about their lives. I side with allowing others to tell their life story and would ask the same. Anywho, about the A team (someone coined that name for us when we were but young lasses-all of our names start with an A).
The 3 of us have individual characteristics that set us apart and yet, there are several similarities that allow us to jive well…we had our rough times growing up. It went like this, I can mess with my sisters but don’t you think you can, I will hurt you. Isn’t that what a sibling does?
It’s odd, some people believe they can tell that we are related, while others claim that not one thing pulls us together. Our physical appearances, to me, are just evident enough that we are siblings. Technically, we are half sisters but they have always just been my sisters. Just like my dad has been the only dad I’ve ever known, even though he is technically my stepdad, adopting me around age 3.
Inside jokes abound, as siblings and family sometimes have, but it’s not just that, we have a similar sense of humor so topics or statements can become inside jokes immediately without an explanation between us. There’s just an understanding with a glance. I’ve experienced that very few families have a sense of humor like ours and I think Greg rather enjoys that part. I can’t speak for Al and Aud but I find that when I attempt to use that humor around others, it often makes me seem foolish or weird but I don’t care. (Some people call it endearing and charming…I won’t mention what others have said.)
Al works at one of the Wood Nickel Music stores in Ft. Wayne. She often goes around the city doing her own thing, when she will be recognized as the Wooden Nickel girl with extremely long hair, wearing black. Everyone loves her, I can tell and there isn’t a thing not to love. She’s upfront, kind, honest and knows what she’s talking about so listen to her soft-spoken self. She might be quiet but her words speak volumes and don’t confuse that with a lack of self-confidence, she knows what’s up. Plus, you don’t have to yell to get your point across…I sometimes forget that.
Then, there’s Aud. She obtained her cosmetologist license and is a certified nursing assistant. She works in a nursing home in the town where we went to highschool, one town over from where we grew up. Sassy and outspoken, yet sweet and caring is she. Her bark is worse than her bite. She is a kind person and a friend to most-she doesn’t take anyone’s bull quite frankly. Our voices sound eerily similar. She too is upfront, honest and knows what she’s talking about although she is more likely to state that she doesn’t with a laugh (depending on the topic).
I’m missing them…must think of something else…bird bird bird- bird is the word (Surfin’ Bird performed by Peter Griffin in the Family Guy and not the Trashmen this time-look for it on youtube). I love that episode and song in general, plus it’s fitting since I roasted an 11 lb. turkey Sunday for my recipes this week. Yes, I sang the song while prepping.
For the Mexican lasagna, adapted from one of Robin Miller’s recipes at foodnetwork, I used my grandma’s recipe for salsa. She was sweet enough to give me a rather large amount when I came home for Christmas and I love it. You can add any peppers, fresh from your garden, to the salsa (when you can of course) and feel free to use fresh diced tomatoes in place of canned. Grams added mango to this year’s batch but add what you enjoy and make it your own.
I replaced the chicken with roasted turkey (bird is the word) in the lasagna, which you can either make yourself from Bon Appetit (amazing gravy) or buy at the store. I wanted more heat in the dish so I diced a chipotle in adobo, some cilantro and mixed in store-bought coriander chutney (not just for Indian food obviously). If you prefer to make it yourself, here is a trusted recipe from Gourmet. Supposedly this lasagna is a light version but you’ll never notice with all the flavor and cheese. Greg loved it.
Grandma Emley’s Salsa
Makes about 5 or 6 pints
Mrs. Wages Salsa Tomato mix (found at Walmart-makes close to 5 pints)
11 cups (5 to 7 cans) diced tomatoes
½ cup vinegar
6 hot banana peppers, diced
4 jalapenos, diced
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ to 1 cup cilantro, chopped (added by me)-optional
Place the tomatoes in a 5qt pot, add salsa mix and ½ cup of vinegar. After you have the peppers, onion and any other ingredients chopped to the desired size, or pulsed in a food processor or blender, add it to the pot and bring everything to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Place salsa in jars or freeze. If you are canning, allow a ½ inch of space as it will expand slightly as it freezes and is stored. If you want a thicker salsa, grams says to simmer it for 30 minutes instead of 10.
12 ounces cooked shredded chicken or turkey (about 3 cups)
1 cup sour cream (regular or low-fat)
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Mexican 4 blend cheese (regular or low-fat)
1 cup shredded Cheddar (regular or low-fat)
1/2 cup mild, medium or hot salsa (I used my grandma’s recipe above)
4 oz. canned chopped green chilies
1 chipotle in adobo, diced-optional
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 to 2 tbsp coriander chutney
1/2 tsp ground chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
10 to 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut in half
Preheat the oven to 350. Coat an 11 by 7-inch baking pan with spray.
In a large bowl, combine chicken or turkey, sour cream, 3/4 cup of the Monterey Jack or Mexican 4 blend cheese, 3/4 cup of the Cheddar, salsa, chilies, cilantro, optional chutney, optional chipotle in adobo, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Mix well and set aside.
Arrange half of the tortilla pieces in the bottom of prepared pan, overlapping pieces slightly to cover the surface. Top with half of the mixture and smooth. Layer the remaining tortillas over the top and spoon over the remaining mixture. Top with remaining 1/4 cup each cheeses.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 30 more minutes, until top is golden and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
To reheat, bake in a preheated 375 oven for 15 minutes.