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Like a raisin in the sun.

21 Mar

Change is good. Change comes in all kinds of shapes and forms. It enables us to grow and build upon our character; to find our core and foundation; to push outside of comfort zones into areas of hopeful enlightenment and potential improvements in various aspects of our lives.

We hear that you have to change up your workouts in order to see physical improvements; muscle confusion! You need to change your learnings to exercise your mind. Change is good…

But what about when you’re ready for change but the cards are not lined up as you wish? That’s when patience becomes a virtue. Just.stop.planning.stop.worrying…

Change is common, it happens everyday. Caterpillars become butterflies, babies become children, we grow, we change…But what about when others are changing before your eyes and you don’t want them to? Relationships change, distance happens. Distance does change relationships. Sometimes for the better, sometimes unfortunately for the worse…but perhaps, better in the long run? Mental and emotional distance is a different type of change.

When we notice these changes, what do we do? Communicate, right? It’s the foundation to any effective relationship. Fear often holds us back from doing this. Fear of hearing that the change is on purpose. Fear that the change is for the better. Fear that the distance has, in fact, happened. In the meantime, are we simply overthinking and overanalyzing? Or is this sensed indifference and avoidance really true?

Overall, the ultimate change has to come from oneself. A change for limited analyzing that refutes to be useless because in the end it is unnoticed. Relearn behaviors to not care as much, to not overanalyze, to not worry so much, to just.let.go.

Ultimately, everything and everyone will fall into place as change is appreciated. Right?

If it doesn’t, does it remain a dream deferred?


[Tofu] Pakapau [Homegrrl Guest Blog: Renai]

30 Jan

There is something about Asian food that I absolutely adore. It is extremely easy to customize to  dietary needs in terms of the type of meat/poultry/fish/tofu used. It also tends to be a lot healthier without comprimising taste. Thai food is one of my favorites so I was very excited when my girlfriend, Renai, told me she was going to be making this Thai dish with her boyfriend this weekend. I was so glad she decided to share this recipe. She is one of the most amazing souls I have been blessed to encounter and maintain a friendship with over so many years! I really believe that this world needs more strong womyn like her- full of genuine positive energy and love. :] I have to give a special Homie shout out to Shaun (one of my husband’s old BMX homies) because he ended up making the meal tonight, while Renai supervised and enjoyed some wine. What a lucky girl! Here is her write-up! I cannot wait to try it!

My darling of a boyfriend made TOFU PAKAPAU tonight. It was pretty tasty. It’s the first time I had it with tofu. My boyfriend’s step-mother is from Thailand and she made us beef pakapow and this is the recipe… (since I am vegetarian now and I live with vegetarians, we use tofu!) This serves four people.


Beef, Chicken, pork, or tofu. – (1lb ground or chopped)
Bouillon (Beef, Chicken, Pork) If you’re vegetarian you can use Not-Beef bouillon, picture below. (Once Cube for PAKAPAU. One cube to marinate the tofu.)
Green Beans – (One Can)
Green Onions – (About six stocks, chopped.)
Garlic- 4 Medium cloves (minced or finally chopped.)
Thai Red Chilies -15 hot, 10-med, 5-7 mild. (minced or finely chopped)
Olive Oil 3-4 tablespoons.
White Rice -One and a Half cups. (You can substitute for brown rice, too)

(I live in a small town, and the closest Asian market is an hour away, so I had my Thai step-mother-in-law? send me some Chile pace, called Pad Kapow. Because I didn’t have access to Thai Red Chilies. But if you’re in Yuma… I’m sure they sell them at the Oriental Gift shop.)

1. I used tofu because  I’m vegetarian, but the beef is so good! We marinated our tofu with half of a Not-Beef Bullion cube for about an hour. Poured the water out, then Shaun pressed the tofu for about an hour, and poured the excess liquid out again.

After my tofu was pressed, we started working on my white rice. We used my mother-in-law’s rice steamer, but if you don’t have one, no worries! That was my first time using it. I actually really loved it. I would totally invest in it.

Since, I didn’t have Thai Chile’s…this is the paste that I used guys. It was pretty good, but it taste so much more legit when you have the Thai Chilies. This paste basically cancels out your Thai Chile and your garlic.

We used one can of green beans, and about six stocks of green onions.

Got my ingredients out, took out our tofu… Shaun’s ready to get started!

You’re going to want to chop your tofu into very small pieces.

In Skillet/Wok over Med-High heat, add oil… Once hot, add garlic and chilies OR 4-6 scoops of paste. Stir-Fry for about 3-5 minutes.
Add your meat or non-meat, stirring until cooked thoroughly

after this you add your green beans and green onions, and cook it for 1-2 minutes, and voila! You’re done.

It should look like this! You serve it in a bowl. Rice, obviously goes down first, with pakapow on top. You can flavor it with Chile garlic sauce if you love the hotness, or you could use soy? it has plenty flavor though, so it’s delicious solo! Enjoy with some wine! Probably a white wine since the food is a bit spicy… red wine tends to make it hotter.

Best regards,
Renai L. Williams

Thank you so much, Renai, for the awesome recipe & Shaun for cooking it!! I cannot wait to try it! Let us know if anyone tries it, as well! 

Weekend Recap

17 Jan

This weekend was very productive- at home. I have a huge “to do” list that we somehow never get around to! I’m on a mission to re-decorate every single room in our home and de-clutter as much as possible. The kitchen and our master bedroom are the only ones that have begun to be affected by my constant need for change…I am in love with my closet and half of our bedroom! And a wall in my kitchen! Haha! Saturday, the living room experienced some changes as well! Finally!

Friday night included wine and my favorite dive bar!

Saturday included canceled plans that left me home alone with too much to do but no desire to do any of them. Geoff was busy and gone since 7am. He returned around 8pm and around 9pm, I decided to start ripping up our carpet from downstairs, haha. I don’t know why we work better at night but we succeeded in getting all the carpet and padding off. We woke up Sunday and got more supplies we needed and started removing the glue and paint that was leftover from when our house was constructed.

We had Sunday dinner with our family so took a break for the rest of the night, enjoying food and the company of our awesome and brand new nephew, Karston :)! He is so precious and such a good baby! He only wakes up twice a night for a quick feeding and goes right back to bed. Our brother says he feels more rested now than before the baby! Lucky!! We hope it remains that way for them!

We stopped by Target because my Linda Cochina had told me they had chevron gold pillows- it took us two trips and calling Target to locate them! We asked about them and they told us they were sold out. We left and Geoff decided to call to confirm- when he did they told him they had just brought in 4 more- so off we went again! We bought two of them for our bedroom but I might return one- I don’t think we really need two since it’s just for decor. But, while there, we stopped in the kids section to see if we could find something for our new nephew and lemme-tell-you…! Kids clothes nowadays is the cutest ever!! I am obsessed with the Harajuku kids line by Gwen Stefani. THE cutest things ever! Everyone around our daily lives has kids so of course I immediately started picking things out for all of our little homies! Then Geoff reminded me that I am not rich…yet! So I put everything back! Damn adult responsibilities!!

On Monday, we woke up early, spent a couple of hours at Lowe’s and Home Depot and went straight to work on our floor. Our goal is to get the concrete as spotless as possible so we can acid stain it. Our friend has had his for years and Geoff has always wanted to do it. When we first bought our house he wanted to but I told him no (we had brand new high quality carpet for the first time in my life, lol)! A few months ago, he started mentioning it again so I began to research it and fell in love. But holy!! It is soooo much work- at least the prep. It’s seriously ridiculous and I’m already questioning what we got ourselves into. I do know that I’ll never want carpet again in my life (in the living room). There was SO much dust/sand underneath- I couldn’t believe it. Arizona is SOOO dusty! Every time I clean, I like to have our windows open. Well, we have three huge windows in our living room and i swear that as soon as i’m done, it’s duaty again! No wonder Geoff’s dust allergies are so bad! Anyway, cleaning concrete is a B!!! I hope we are done by the end of this week!


concrete; sad/super gross thumbelina; Uncle Jefe and Baby Karston; pink!

I was also able to fiiiinally find all the shirts that I had been searching for our Diva Dash this upcoming weekend! We are doing a Rosie the Riveter-inspired outfit for our 5K obstacle run! So excited to see my girls and have soo much fun (as always) with them!

Today is a long day at work! After lunch, I have four more classes to teach- normally i only have three but Tuesday’s schedule is different. Boo! Gotta pump myself up to repeat the same thing over and over again! Lol!

I cannot wait ’til my hair grows back to its long length. For the looongest time I had the longest hair haha! Then I chopped it all off to donate it (then found out I couldn’t because it had been heavily processed). No regrets because I had so much fun with my short hair but now I’m so ready for my length. I’ve been letting it do whatever it wants lately and it has been doing this messy wave thing- i’m digging it!


Our Diva Dash outfit; MK rose gold stylee; messy hair waves ❤



13 Jan

It’s no surprise that when it rains, it pours. This week has been a whirlwind of celebrations, sorrows, and just plain ol’ craziness.

Sunday night welcomed our new, beautiful and healthy nephew! Love him! ❤

Monday brought my first day back to work. It was also our sister’s first day of college. So exciting and so proud of her!

Tuesday brought counseling sessions for my students. My favorite part of my job, is when my students seek me for this. Just listening to them and acting as an unbiased sounding board is an amazing privilege. Ever since I could remember, I have always said I was put on this Earth to listen. I love, love listening and being there for others.

Wednesday brought extreme exhaustion from the last three nights of limited sleep. We perfected and finalized important paperwork, too. Big check off G’s list!

Thursday brought extremely sad news from the family side. My heart goes out to my family and I wish more than ever that I could be there with them. I’m still trying to figure out if I should go home this weekend.

& there’s still tomorrow, Friday. I wonder what it will bring. An accreditor comes to my job tomorrow so it will be a pretty big deal. Eeek.

Praying for all my loved ones and hoping for the best.

I made a super yummy dinner tonight! Super healthy and super delicious! I wish more people realized how delicious healthy food can be! It can have such a bad rep! I am SO hungry all the time! Last weekend I made SO many healthy snacks- now they’re all gone! I was super tempted to buy a bag of Spicy Doritos at Albertson’s today. But I opted not to. I take super healthy breakfasts and lunches to work everyday and cook pretty healthy dinners at home. I work out pretty hard and by now I would think that I’d be super thin and muscular. I don’t get it! But I have been training a couple of my girlfriends and they have been seeing results. That makes me feel so happy for them and somewhat accomplished even though they are the ones putting in the actual hard work. ❤

Tonight’s dinner:


Spicy Shrimp Stir Fry served over Quinoa

Christmas Detox

28 Dec

Christmas went a lot quicker than it came. This year was very different for me because I didn’t spend it with my family from L.A. I struggled a lot with this and poor G had to be my biggest support through it all; poor guy… We grew up soo differently and our outlook on life is extremely different. We balance each other out really well through it all.

Today feels like my first official day off. Up until yesterday, we were in full Christmas mode: running errands, xmas shopping in two days, cleaning house, etc., as I’m positive everyone else was. Now that Christmas is over, I’m really looking forward to organizing our house and redecorating our living room. We did a great job with our bedroom and my closet but never fully finished it. I really need to focus on the living room and our office. G needs to focus on our home gym and his closet, too. I’m hoping to get everything done in the next three days although I really don’t know how realistic that is; we’ll see!

After all the craziness of Christmas, I realized that sometimes it’s good to put yourself first. I was surprised by how many people we know seemed to be so wrapped up in the stress holidays can bring, that they completely missed what it’s all really about. I was also shocked by the lack of appreciation that is expressed. I never, ever give to receive, but I, unfortunately, noticed that some forget to show gratitude or were just too busy to do so. No one needs a parade of ‘thank you’ banners but, heck, don’t expect and don’t make us feel like we’re inconveniencing. Idk, perhaps we misinterpreted or everyone was so busy that it was obviously not intentional…I am obviously digressing. Anyway, today I took the advice of one of my homegrrls and decided I would have some “me” time. I laid in bed for as long as I could stand. I hung out online (lol). I worked out heavily. I made myself a healthy breakfast smoothie. Then I took a detox bath! I’ve never taken one before and it was pretty incredible. I blasted Sublime from my computer until it died then resorted to Sublime on Pandora on my phone. I realized I am not very good at relaxing but I forced myself to float there. My skin felt so soft. & I am one step closer to getting comfortable with relaxing.

I ❤ tutu's

I looked up some recipes prior to jumping in and then just picked and chose what sounded best. I didn’t use any measurements that I found, just went with it and it was incredible.

Detox Bath

1. Fill your tub with hot hot water.

2. Add 1/2 cup of fresh grated ginger.

3. Add 1 cup (or more) of apple cider vinegar.

4. Soak for 30 minutes and [I read somewhere that the ACV is good for your hair so I dipped my head in for a little bit before] finishing off with a brown sugar scrub. Rinse and shower as usual. Enjoy your super soft skin and drink lots of H20!

When I made the brown sugar scrub, I did the same thing as I did with the detox bath- I found tons of recipes, and when I started actually doing it, I kinda did my own thing.

Super Easy Body Scrub Recipe

1. In a bowl, mix 1 cup of brown sugar, enough EVOO to reach your desired texture and consistency (if measuring is your thing, I would say 1/4 cup), some honey (about 2 tablespoons), some cinnamon (1 tbsp), some vanilla (1 tsp)  and a bit of sea salt (1 tsp). (I read somewhere that it acts as a natural preservative). Stir well and store in an airtight container.

*Technically, you can add/omit whatever you want. Scents, lemon- which I meant to add but forgot, etc.

It looks really pretty in a mason jar but I just put mine in a plastic tiny tupperware because I’m so clumsy, I could already see it dropping and shattering in my tub. I also read that it’s not good to get water in it so when you scoop it out, use either dry hands and don’t double-dip, or use something like a stirrer, spoon, etc.

It’s almost 6pm and I’m typing this in bed, in a bathrobe. Learning to love myself more and attempting to relax. :]

I’ll end my post with a reflection of my amazing blessings this last week:

1. Planning a bridal shower and bachelorette party for my dear friend, Kelly, who relocated to Iowa today :/  It doesn’t seem real, at all. Talk about stress the week of Christmas while you’re still working up to the day of the events. I had 48 hours to get it together and I honestly, loved the craziness and stress of it all. I work much better under pressure than when I have time. & albeit, wishing it was at a later date, I couldn’t have been more honored to do this for her. She loved it and that’s all that mattered to me! Love her so much!

Bridal Shower

2. That same day, my amazing Squirrel and her fabulous Sophia surprised me. I couldn’t believe it. I swear, the handful of amazing friends I have are out of this world! They have gone above and beyond to make me feel loved, appreciate and plain ol’ special. I couldn’t believe that they changed their already paid flights to DRIVE from Austin, Texas, just so they could spend a day with me. It was absolutely priceless and amazing. I couldn’t be happier and more blessed.

Hiking Telegraph Pass with Christmas Cheer

3. On Christmas Eve, we invited our dear friends over for Christmas dinner. It was such a fun evening. I cooked our traditional Puerto Rican dinner and even made Coquito for the first time. It tasted like it came straight off the island! I was so excited. They have a 2 year old son and it was hilarious fun to watch him enjoy and begin to understand Christmas. G and I felt beyond blessed having them there.

Coquito; Arroz con Habichuelas, tostones y aguacate!

The Cheatwoods & The Montgomerys

4. We have a lot of friends who have kids and even though we know it’s not necessary, we absolutely love getting them gifts for Christmas. We got to witness so many of them open up their gifts from us, and their excitement made us so happy [Thank you, Becca for letting us spend special time with Ri & Aido on Christmas Eve; it meant a lot to us! <3]. I think a lot of has to do with the many times we didn’t have much to open growing up (my sisters and I), that it gives me so much happiness to be able to give as an adult. & we love our friend’s kids so much that it makes us happy and imagine what life with our own kids would be like. Thank you to all of our loved ones who thought of us during this holiday season! So sweet, and so thoughtful! ❤

Girls' gifts; guy's gifts

5. Honey Munster’s birthday is on December 25th. We had a stocking full of awesome goodies for her and we had SO much fun watching her go through everything. She literally stuck her head in her stocking and pulled out things and then would try to carry them in her mouth. She had a blast! We even got to take her to the dog park yesterday- well, Geoff did, I stood on the outside gate, lol- dogs still scare me!

Honey Munster is so rad!

6. Spending my first Christmas as a Montgomery. I volunteered to bring breakfast and everyone loved it- I was so relieved. It was just nice. I think my favorite memory this year was when we were having Christmas dinner at Gma Loy’s and we kept telling stories back and forth and none of us could stop laughing. We all had tears in our eyes from so much laughter. It seriously was one of my favorite moments with my M family! ❤

7. Two of our best friends got engaged right before Christmas. It was so amazing to see the joy that exuded E and B as they begin the next stage of their relationship. We couldn’t feel more excited for them! Yay! ❤

8. All the love from my family and friends. All the hugs, the thoughtfulness, the showing of gratitude, friendship, texts, phone calls…I suppose I’m just THAT easy to please. I love it all. ❤

9. The fact that my husband is alive and well. Nothing at all beats that. ❤

10. My life is full of blessings. Yes, times get tough and challenging, and some days are better than others but overall I have more blessings than sorrows everyday! :]

Lately, whenever I feel overwhelmed with issues/problems, I google or pinterest search “first world problems,” and LAUGH at how hilarious I/we can be! A little perspective whips me back into shape! :]

Looking forward to reuniting with my L.A. familia this upcoming weekend for NYE! ❤

NYE 2009- This year Isa & Jake will be there!!! We'll be missing our Squirrel!!!

P.S. Did I mention that Jillian Michael’s “Extreme Shred and Shed” is intense when you do both levels back to back?! Eek! I also heard that she is adopting a little girl at the beginning on 2012. So exciting! See? Blessings everywhere!

Grilled Asian Flank Steak with Slaw [Kirby- Homegrrl Guest Blog]

23 Dec

I absolutely love food and I absolutely love my friends! Sharing recipes is one of the coolest ways to combine these two awesome relationships! When Kirby told me she knew exactly what recipe she wanted to share, I was very intrigued. We have swapped dozens of recipes and tips over the years and always learn so much from each other! She told me that this was her husband’s favorite and immediately I was hooked! Our husbands are also best friends and for almost all their lives shared similar eating habits. So, a recipe that had a guy hooked on leftovers [mine used to be super picky about eating leftovers, too], is one I cannot wait to try! & hello? Asian flavors?! Yes, please!! This sounds delicious and I cannot wait to try it! Let us know if YOU do!

I love Asian food as much as any other good little Japanese girl, but this dish is on regular rotation for a reason!  Not only is it cheap and SUPER easy to make, but my husband loves it for leftovers, and getting him to eat leftovers is an accomplishment in itself. I happen to like just about anything cold (going back to my “starving, so-broke-I’ll-eat-anything days”), but my husband works outside all day and can’t microwave his lunch.  This is one of just a handful of recipes I have that he will eat cold!! I happened to stumble upon this recipe one day while thumbing through the Arizona Republic newspaper. To give proper credit, it can be originally found on Epicurious.  Below is the original recipe, with healthy modifications that I have made in parenthesis. Enjoy!!

Your goal after reading this recipe!


1/4 cup soy sauce (I use regular, but you can use low sodium if you prefer)
5 Tbsp. Vegetable oil (I substitute 3 Tbsp of EVOO)
5 tsp. Peeled, minced fresh ginger
1 garlic clove (to save time, I use the minced garlic in the jar)
1-1/2 lb. Flank steak (I use thin cut Sirloin Tip Steak or another similar cut – sometimes this is on sale for around $3.50 a package!!)
3 Tbsp. Sugar (I use 2 packets of Truvia sweetener)
3 Tbsp. Seasoned rice vinegar
2 red jalapenos, seeded, thinly sliced
5 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage
3/4 cup chopped green onions
2 green scallions, cut into 1 in. Pieces

1. Mix soy sauce, oil, 3 tsp ginger, one scallion, and garlic in a gallon-sized plastic bag. Add flank steak, seal the bag and turn to coat.  Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, flipping occasionally. 

2. Stir sugar and vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. 

3. Add jalapenos and remaining 2 tsp. ginger. 

4. Place cabbage and 1/2 c. green onions in medium bowl.  Pour vinegar mixture over and toss to coat.  Let stand while grilling steak. 

5. Grill steak until cooked to desired doneness, anywhere between 3-6 minutes on each side.

(BEWARE: this steak cooks QUICK, and can be tough if over cooked.). Transfer steak to work surface, and allow to rest for 10 minutes, then thinly slice against the grain.

6. Toss the slaw again to evenly coat with the vinegar mixture. 

I like to serve it as a “rice bowl”, starting with rice (substitute brown rice if you prefer), then the slaw, topped with the steak and some green onions for garnish.

1. If you are unfamiliar with ginger, consider reducing the amount of ginger on the recipe until you know for sure that you like it. It can be a very powerful flavor even in small doses.  I peel mine with a vegetable peeler, and then grate it using a lemon zester. 
2. I have found scallions to be non-existent at my regular grocery store, so I usually skip them…use extra green onions if you want.
3.  Only slice the top half of the cabbage head – the white, thick parts at the bottom are hard and can be bitter tasting.
4.  I have also never been able to find red jalapenos at the grocery store, so I use Anaheim Red Peppers, or for a spicier version, regular jalapenos (the slaw will just not be as colorful).


Healthy, Easy, Delicious…. Cookies!?! [Maritza: Homegrrl Guest Blog]

16 Dec
I love cookies. I love healthy, mindful foods. & I absolutely love my homegrrls. Which is why when Maritza (aka my Roomie) told me she was trying a new recipe she found for healthy cookies, I was beyond excited that she decided to make this her first guest appearance on my little ol’ blog! I had this recipe pinned on Pinterest but like a dozen other recipes (like those energy balls and the healthy cookie dough with chickpeas(?!), I haven’t gotten around to it; SO glad she did!!
Enjoy and let us know if you try it out!
As I stumbled across a recipe that read “healthy cookies” I couldn’t resist but to feel a little curious and skeptical at the same time.  “Is there such a thing as a healthy and delicious cookie?” “Are they going to be too healthy that I’m going to end up just throwing them away?”- I asked myself. So, despite of my trepidations I decided to make them.  Which I’m glad I did! They were delicious, and will definitely be making them again.  Oh, and did I mention that these are way easy to make (always a plus, in my book!).  These cookies are considered to be healthy because they DON’T contain any sugar (crazy, I know), flour, eggs, or butter (pretty much all the good but not good for you stuff, I thought were always a must when making cookies).  By the way, I know these might not be the prettiest cookies you’ve seen but don’t let that fool you.  

Delicious AND Healthy?! YES!

The ingredients:
1 1/2 cups regular rolled oats
1 cup coconut flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 cup of almond meal
1/2 cup mixed nuts, finely chopped
1 cup dried fruit (I used 1/2 chopped dried dates, and 1/2 raisins)
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
I didn’t have any allspice so I added 1 1/2 teaspoon of cinammon and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg instead.  I’m also not a big fan of dates and didn’t have mixed nuts so I substituted those with 1/4 a cup of dried cranberries, 1/4 a cup of cashews and a 1/4 cup of yogurt chips.  Lastly, I added 1/4 cup of flaxseed meal to it as well.  As you can see you can add whatever your little heart desires (remember try to keep it, healthy) ;).
Original Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine rolled oats, almond meal, mixed nuts and coconut flakes. Stir in allspice and cinnamon. Add dried fruit and stir until well and evenly mixed. Make sure the dried fruit do not stick together in big batches.
In another bowl, combine canola oil, mashed banana and vanilla extract. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and stir until well combined.

Cookie Mix

Take medium size spoonfuls and place on parchment paper. Mine came out to about 16 cookies. Bake for about 20 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

And…..tada!!! You made yourself healthy cookies!  My favorite part was being able to eat a couple of them at a time without the guilt.  
Mmmm, can’t wait to try these! If you’re interested in being a Homegrrl/Homie Guest Blogger, let me know!
P.S. I’ve been on a roll making all kinds of crafts and recipes that I pin on Pinterest! So far this week: all my Secret Santa gifts were inspired and recreated in my own way; Butternut Squash Pasta was re-hashed- never thought we’d love it but we did(!), Parmesan & Panko Crusted Asparagus (followed exactly and absolutely loved it); guacamole salsa (edited recipe: yuuum); chicken enchilada with green chile/sour cream sauce!! Everything has been great!