Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

Did you know?


Someone pinned a photo on Pinterest captioned about shredding chicken with your Kitchenaid. Did you all know about this? Because if so, we are going to have to talk. You can’t keep secrets like that from me. I didn’t believe it was true when I first read it. I despise shredding chicken. (I usually ask Steve to do it for me as I have several recipes that I prefer shredded chicken as the protein.) It was too good to be true. I was making dinner for a friend who had a death in the family and decided to give it a try. Hot damn if it didn’t work like a charm! I love my Kitchenaid even more than I did before.

The chicken needs to be still warm when you do it. And you can’t throw it all in at once or some chicken might come shooting out of your mixer. Not that I would know anything about that. Make sure you lock it down. Start it at 1 or 2 and finish at 3 speed.  I cut my breasts into 2 pieces and put 3 pieces (1 1/2 breasts) at a time to shred. All that is in the photo above was probably 3 batches I did – I threw it all back in to put in the frig for later.


Whenever I am taking someone dinner after having a baby or for whatever reason, I tend to take this casserole. It is easy (especially now that I can use my mixer to shred my chicken) and tasty. I always make one for us too – although I make ours a little spicier than the ones I make for others. It is basically my chicken verde enchiladas lazy style. Meaning wrapping them was too much trouble so I serve this with a little sour cream and some tortilla chips – no wrapping required!

Salsa Verde Chicken Casserole

1 1/4 lbs chicken, cooked and shredded

1 24oz jar salsa verde (we like medium spice but get mild if you prefer – most jars are 16oz…I then either use 1 and it is drier or use 2 and it is a little soupy)

1 bag frozen corn

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can chopped chiles or jalapenos (depending on your spice preference – chiles are mild)

3 cloves garlic, minced

2Tbl cumin

fresh cilantro if you have it…no worries if you don’t

8 oz shredded cheeses (medium cheddar or mexican blend – whatever you like), divided

Mix all of this together with 1/2 of the cheese. Put it into a 9×9 or 9×12 (spray with Pam first). Top with rest of cheese. Bake at 350* for 30 min. Serve with tortilla chips for scooping or tortilla chips crumbled over the top and a dollop of sour cream.

Before baking:


(Different pans because I made a pan for a friend who just had a baby and one for us.)

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Adventure Science Center


My sister in law gave the girls and I a membership to the Science Center for a birthday present this year. Great gift! We finally cashed it in this weekend. We all had such a good time. The girls love any place where they are allowed to touch anything they want. And we had fun helping them discover things. Definitely a big chunk of the center is a little old for them but they will grow into it. Right now, they had fun climbing and pressing and turning and figuring out. Sabrina is fascinated with outer space. She was also much more interested and much less squeamish than mommy about the medical area with the bones and hearts and eyeballs preserved in jars. *Shudder* Tessa loves water. And pressing buttons and figuring out how things work. Definitely 8 thumbs up from the Smiles family on the Nashville Science Center. A little tip from me – wear comfy shoes.

Dr. Sabrina

Tessa would have stayed here all afternoon if we let her.



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Outdoor pursuits


Like much of the country, we had little in the way of winter around here. We’ve been enjoying this early spring weather…but we fear what summer might bring as a bitch slap for the mild winter. So we will enjoy the outdoors while we can. This beautiful weekend was begging for some outdoor fun. Saturday we took a little road trip on the back roads of TN. Sabrina started to get a little car sick so we stopped at a church in the middle of no where to let the girls get out and get some fresh air. (The first one is just a gorgeous photo of my child that I wanted to share. I took it before we left.)

Such kids. Where are my babies?

Over 250 years old.

Sunday the girls wanted to ride their scooters. And their bikes. And Sabrina tried out the roller skates I picked up for her at a consignment sale. She did much better on the skates than I thought she would. Tessa was mad I didn’t have skates for her so we let her try Sabrina’s big girl bike. Child has no fear and was zipping around the cul de sac with my hand hovering near her back in case she leaned too far in one direction.

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Marching forward


Wow. March. How did that happen? Steve is home. He really seems to be loving his new job. Life is slowly returning to normal. The girls are still a little nervous about daddy leaving. Yesterday, Steve left for work before the girls got up. When she woke up and he was gone, Tessa immediately began to act out and became very clingy. He was home late and both girls were being difficult. When he finally came home, Tessa came to me and said “Daddy home. I happy again.” I think it will take awhile for them to trust that he will come home every day.


February seemed busy but I couldn’t say why. The only thing out of the ordinary was that I…well hosted isn’t the the right word because others did the work and I provided the space…provided a venue to celebrate the pregnancy of a wonderful friend. The baby shower reminded me of how much I love this community I am a part of here in TN. Partially because there was the warm fuzzy aspect and partially because the theme of the baby shower was chickens. Big metal ones to be exact. And if you have no idea why this is hysterical to all of us, go read this now. We are petitioning that she name the baby Beyonce after the chicken.



I picked up my 3rd CSA box yesterday. The photo above is the 2nd box. It contained Amish whole wheat egg noodles, muscadine jelly (had to google it – that is a kind of grape native to this area), kale, carrots, a big jar of spiced peaches, and 4 or 5 sweet potatoes. This week’s box contained Amish noodles (thicker and not whole wheat this time), carrots, kale, 2 sweet potatoes, jar of apple sauce, and a large jar of pickled carrots. (And I bought a dozen eggs.)

I’ll be honest, the pickled carrots are the first thing that I am seriously considering just not trying. Nothing about that sounds good to me.

So how have we been using our goodies? The kale I’ve used in a couple of ways. First, I cut the stems off, tossed it with a little olive oil and sea salt then baked.  It becomes crunchy like a chip. Shockingly, Tessa, who doesn’t eat any vegetable unless forced, ate them and asked for more. She loved them. Sabrina was luke warm on them. Steve and I thought they were pretty good too. Win. Second, I’ve been using it in place of spinach in recipes. Last night, I made quesadillas with shrimp, onion, red bell pepper, mushrooms, kale, and cheese. I sauteed the kale with the other veggies and its flavor was so mild you didn’t even really notice it was there. Win.

The sweet potatoes are a little trickier. No one in the house particularly likes them. The girls don’t like potatoes (white or sweet) in any form except french fried. Not even mashed. Just last weekend Steve forced Tessa to eat a bite of mashed potatoes and it resulted in her throwing up on her plate – the texture has always bugged her. Steve isn’t a really a fan of sweet potatoes. And to be honest, I only voluntarily eat them as sweet potato fries. But I was determined to use them in some way so I got out my mandoline and sliced them thin. Tossed them with a little olive oil and sea salt and baked them into chips. (Noticing a theme here?) The girls loved them. They fought over them. So apparently, if I make things into crispy chips, my children will eat them. Who knew?

With the peaches,  I am going to make a cobbler or crisp for Steve and the girls. I’m not a huge fan of canned peaches. The carrots we eat raw. The pickled carrots – I’m not sure what their fate will be. The noodles we had some as a side dish (the girls weren’t crazy about the whole wheat noodles) and I will use the rest in soup sometime. The noodles from this week, I will use in a pasta dish with shrimp and kale most likely.

As part of this, I’ve started doing dinner a little differently. I usually put the food on the plates then take the plates to the table. I am still doing that but I’m putting veggies and fruit on the table for free access. Carrots, celery, cucumbers, salad (not a lot in season right now) are all on the table to pick at and eat as everyone wishes. Also grapes and any other fruit I have around (come on summer – I’m craving fruit!). I’m hoping that this will encourage the girls to eat more of those things and also that they will see us munching on them and pick up on us modeling the healthy choices.

There you have it – way more than you ever wanted to know about our CSA boxes and dinner habits. Who knew this raising kids stuff would require so much thoughtful planning?


A couple of photos from Tessa’s visit to the fire house yesterday:

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