First week of school is in the books.
No tears were shed. No tantrums were thrown. We survived and the girls are excited to go back next week! Reading, writing, and arithmetic? Yeah, I guess they’re interested in that. Evidently, the promise of hot lunch from Chick-Fil-A on Monday and Pizza on Friday is a more powerful motivator. But like I said, the first week is in the books. Check back with us in about six weeks and see how things fare.
In preparation for back to school, I did try to get us back on track with an early to bed, early to rise type of routine. While my intentions were good, the execution was severely lacking. Throughout the summer, I continued to rise early, around 6 or 6:30am, although, when school is in session, I roll it back to about 5:30.
Why this madness you ask? I need to ease myself into my day. When I get up in the darkness of the early morning, I have about 45 minutes to call my own before the children get up. I make my breakfast, I sip my coffee, and I read the news. I may throw in a load of laundry or empty the dishwasher, but between 5:30 and 6:30, it’s my quiet fortification for the day ahead. Again, between June and August, I dialed it back, sleeping in an hour, but still savoring that 6:30 to 7:30 solitude. Rolling it back to 5:30 this past week as been as eye opening as the ALS Ice-Bucket challenge. The alarm goes off and I think, “Wait, I just closed my eyes.” This week alone has been like a montage from a Simon Pegg movie, showing the daily ritual of a character in bitten off shots of wake, wash, eat, work, and so forth. I fall into bed each night around 10 or 10:30 and am immediately knocked out. It’s been a flurry of daily activity. Between the morning routine and getting the girls out to school, there have been orientations for each of the girls, even V. Two-day preschool starts on Tuesday! There have been meetings and scheduling and the start of activities. I’m trying to wrest some of the responsibility for packing lunches and backpacks from my own hands and put it in the hands of M and C. C’s first grade teacher reminded the parents at orientation that she expects them to pack their own backpacks. “And I tell them,” she informed us, “you don’t pack your mamma and daddy’s briefcases for work, do you? Well then, they don’t need to be packing y’all’s backpacks!”
What?! I don’t?! Let the congregation say, “Amen!”
To that end, we’ve got a new system in place (well, new to us), set up in the kitchen. The girls empty their bags with the lunch sacks going into the sink, their important papers going into the aptly labeled “In” tray. While they relax after such a hard day, I peruse the papers, signing where indicated and so forth before depositing them in the aptly labeled “Out” tray. After dinner, the girls assist me in packing their lunches, which I have found ensures that the majority of the lunch will be consumed instead of returned. In the morning, after they’ve been fed, dressed, washed, and so on, they retrieve all of their items from the outbox, pack up and hit the car. We are five for five on success this week! And I’ve told them again and again how proud I am of their behavior and how much I’ve enjoyed the morning routine as a result. They love that.that
I know, I’ve got a 4th grader and a 1st grader and it’s only now that I’ve figured this out? Better late than never.
Of course, it’s the first week, so things are bound to change as time passes, but for right now, I’m going to enjoy it. This afternoon, the girls each have a little friend coming over to play. To celebrate the first week of school, I’m taking them to Sweet Frog for a little treat. I don’t particularly care for Sweet Frog — there are so many other wonderful things to eat — but I did have a mini first week of school celebration of my own. Was it Chipotle? Uh. . .of course it was!
I could eat Chipotle just about every day. While I do consider it “fast food”, I don’t equate it with the golden arches and their kith and kin. Chipotle is pretty much the only place I can eat and not feel like I’ve completely wiped out any exercise or good health habits I’ve been working on. I know there are some naysayers out there who would tell me something to the contrary, but I’m going to continue to enjoy it. Truth be told, my Chipotle addiction needs an intervention, like yesterday, so I’m going to try to recreate the magic at home. Tall order? Possibly. Can it be done? Probably. I’ve been searching copy-cat recipes on-line. There have been some hits and misses. My cilantro lime rice was a certifiable miss, most definitely not attributable to the recipe, but more to the recipe follower. I think I either missed a step or didn’t wash the rice enough or just decided that the time I would be spending making cilantro lime rice was equal to the time it would take me to get in the car, go to my nearest Chipotle and buy some cilantro lime rice. Cooking’s overrated anyway.
I kid (or do I?). In any event, I’m going to try my hand again to see if I can save my dollars and eat at home. Better for the wallet and the waistline, right? This recipe is just for the chicken. There is a link to the cilantro lime rice above and if you are interested in what additional toppings would work with this, just send me a message in the comments!
Happy Friday and Happy Labor Day Week-nd, y’all!
Chipotle’s Chicken (Copycat Recipe)
- 1 (2 oz.) package dried ancho chiles, soaked at least 12 hours (see notes)
- 1 (7 oz.) can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 1 red onion, coarsely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 2 tsp. dried oregano
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ c. canola oil, divided
- 5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
- Split open each softened ancho chile and rinse the inside to the stem and all seeds (wearing gloves is recommended). Place in the bowl of a food processor or blender.
- Strain adobo sauce into a small bowl, discarding peppers or reserving for another use. Press down on the peppers to extract as much liquid as possible (you should have at least ¼ c.). For an especially spicy dish, add chipotle pepper seeds to taste. Add strained liquid to the food processor.
- Add onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, 5 tsp. salt, and 2 tsp. pepper to the food processor. Pulse several times until a coarse paste develops.
- With the motor running, pour ¼ c. canola oil through the feeding tube and continue to process until smooth. You should have two cups of marinade. Reserve one cup for immediate use and freeze the remaining for future use.
- Meanwhile, place half the chicken in a large freezer-safe plastic bag. Spoon in half the marinade, close the bag, and mash around to distribute. Add in remaining chicken, remaining ½ c. marinade, and repeat the mashing until all chicken is evenly coated. Place the plastic bag in a dish and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
- To cook, preheat a grill, indoor grill pan, or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Coat with 2 T. canola oil. Grill the chicken in batches, turning occasionally until the internal temperature reaches 160°F on a thermometer and bits of caramelized fond have begun to cling to the outside of the chicken, 10 to 15 minutes. Add 1 – 2 T. oil to your grilling surface between batches.
- Remove to a cutting board and chop into small pieces. Season to taste with salt. Serve on tortillas or in bowls with additional toppings as desired.