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I know I’ve said on more than one occasion since I’ve started this blog that one thing or another is “one of my favorites,” and today I’m going to say it again. Since I moved out of my parents house, whenever my mom said that she was making or had made enchiladas, I always made sure to drop by to score some leftovers. Her not very traditional enchiladas (they’re stacked like lasagna, not rolled) are one of my favorite home cooked meals. They’re full of flavor, including way too hot green chili, and really creamy with crispy edges. On top of her awesome enchiladas, my mom makes a pretty mean green chili sauce for someone who doesn’t have an ounce of Mexican in her blood.

In the years since I moved out of my parents house (and more recently, since I’ve become obsessed with cooking), there are some meals I just haven’t attempted to recreate. Mom’s enchiladas were always one of them — until now. While putting our menu together this weekend, Billy and I got the urge to give them a shot. The results definitely weren’t my mom’s, but they were pretty awesome.

Here’s what you’ll need:
Serves: 4 to 6
Green Chili Sauce
– olive oil
– 1 onion, diced
– 2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
– 4 oz. fresh (roasted) green chili, diced (if you can’t find fresh, canned is fine, it just won’t be as spicy so maybe add more)
– 2 to 3 tbsp flour
– about 1/2 cup chicken stock
– splash milk
Enchiladas
– 1 onion, diced
– 2 oz. green chili
– 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (any leftover chicken (or turkey or any other meat you like) will work, too)
– 1/2 cup Monterey Jack, shredded
– 1/2 cup Velveeta, cubed
– 1 can cream of mushroom soup
– cumin
– salt and pepper
– corn tortillas

My mom’s green chili sauce is killer and is good for so much more than just enchiladas. With that being said, it’s probably the tastiest component to these enchiladas. It’s also really simple. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onions and garlic until the onions begin to sweat out, then add the green chili and continue to saute for three to five minutes or until the onions are translucent and the green chili has cooked down a little. Add the flour to the pan and stir until it has completely cooked out, about one minute. Poor in the chicken stock (start with a 1/2 cup and add more if you prefer a thinner consistency — it’s all based on preference), stir to combine and bring to a boil. Continue to boil for a few minutes until the sauce begins to thicken, then smooth out using an immersion blender (or regular blender if you don’t have an immersion). Stir in a splash of milk and add more liquid if necessary. Set the sauce aside until you’re ready to assemble the enchiladas.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

I said before that my mom’s enchiladas aren’t exactly traditional, and it’s probably going to become very apparent in the next steps so I’ll apologize now to any traditional Mexican-style cooks who may be reading this. In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly mix together the onion, chopped green chili, shredded chicken, cheese, cream of mushroom soup and seasonings. Grease a large casserole dish, then begin layering the enchiladas.

Cover the bottom of the casserole dish with some of the green chili sauce, then completely cover with a layer of tortillas. Spoon over half of the chicken mixture and spread an even layer over the tortillas. Spoon over more green chili sauce, cover again with tortillas, and finally the rest of the chicken mixture. Add one more layer of tortillas and finish with plenty of green chili sauce. Cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until all the cheese has melted and the edges of the tortillas begin to brown.

Enchiladas with Accoutrements

Yum. Our version of my mom’s enchiladas were definitely not the same, but they were pretty dang close and for sure delicious. They really hit the spot, and the leftovers made a delicious lunch the next day. One of the best things about my mom’s enchiladas is how creamy they are (thanks in part to the cream of mushroom soup, but mostly because of the Velveeta), and in terms of creamyness, ours were spot on. The crunch of the onions and the crispy edges of the tortillas gave the enchiladas a little texture.

I know these may not be traditional or restaurant-style enchiladas, but they aren’t lacking anything in flavor. They may also sound a little weird (Velveeta? Cream of mushroom soup?), but I promise if you give them a shot you’ll see why they’re one of my favorites. :)

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We love Chinese food, but trying to replicate restaurant-style food at home doesn’t always work out. While it’s usually really good cooked at home (and probably way healthier), it’s just not the same. Until now. One of my (new-found) favorite bloggers, Kathy over at Las Vegas Food Adventures, did a post on a basic stir fry recipe that you can use as a base and adjust however you like. Let me tell you…this base stir fry recipe is spot on. My only complaint is that, when we made it, we went a little crazy with the veggies and there wasn’t enough sauce (this was totally our fault, Kathy mentioned in her post that the recipe isn’t very saucy). regardless, it was delicious.

Here’s what you’ll need:
Serves: about 4, depending on how many veggies you add to the base recipe
– 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
– 3 to 4 tbsp oil for frying
Marinade
– 1 tbsp soy sauce
– 1 tbsp sherry
Sauce
– a few drops sesame oil
– 2 tbsp soy sauce
– 1 tbsp brown sugar
– 2 tbsp sherry
– 3 tbsp water
– 1/2 tsp cornstarch
(- for a more saucy dish, add 1/2 to 3/4 cups chicken broth and an extra 1/2 tsp cornstarch)
Seasoning
– 4 cloves garlic, minced
– 2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
– 2 scallions, thinly sliced

Apparently, the secret to making super tender chicken without going through all the trouble they do in Chinese restaurants is pounding it out before cooking. Not to mention that pounding out food is a perfectly acceptable way to take out your frustrations!

Pound out the chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap (or using a Ziplock bag) until it’s an even 1/2 inch thick. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and toss in a bowl with the soy sauce and sherry. Set aside and prepare any veggies you need to chop up.

Once all your prep work is done, combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until the sugar and cornstarch have dissolved. Set aside (you won’t be using the sauce until everything is cooked).

In a large saute pan or wok, heat the oil over high heat. Once the oil and pan are very hot, add the garlic, ginger and scallions. Stir the ingredients around, they will only cook for about 30 seconds — until they become fragrant. Add the chicken to the pan and fry until the chicken begins to brown and is mostly cooked through, about three minutes. Add in any veggies or other ingredients that you’re using and continue to fry until everything is cooked and a little brown, time will vary depending on your ingredients (probably anywhere from one to five minutes).

Whisk the sauce to combine, then add it to the pan, stirring continuously. Cook until the sauce thickens, one to two minutes. Spoon over freshly cooked jasmine rice or Chinese noodles (or a combination!).

Garlic Chicken and Veggie Stir Fry

The flavor of this sauce was amazing. It really did taste like something you’d get in a restaurant. Best of all, the chicken doesn’t need to marinade for a lengthy period of time — just long enough for you to prep everything else. The chicken came out very tender, and the veggies were all cooked perfectly. It’s amazing how quickly a steaming hot wok will cook things and make them taste delicious.

Like I said earlier in the post, my only complaint was the lack of sauce. There was plenty to coat all the food, but not enough to really drizzle anything extra over. I think this was partially due to the fact that it wasn’t a very sauce recipe to begin with, but mostly because we added a ton of veggies.

Check out Kathy’s original post here. Her’s looks more like chicken stir fry than ours — I should have called titled my post veggie stir fry with a side of chicken!

Usually I believe that whatever family recipes we make at home are never as good as the original, but our baked “fried” chicken is a serious contender to my mom’s. I’ve always been amazed at how she could bake chicken and it ends up tasting — and crunching — like it was fried. Well…I think Billy and I have discovered the secret. Goodbye unhealthy, greasy fried chicken, hello delicious, juicy baked chicken.

Here’s what you’ll need:
– 1 whole chicken, cut up
– 2 to 3 cups buttermilk, plus more for dredging
– 2 tsp garlic powder, plus more for dredging
– 2 tsp sweet paprika, plus more for dredging
– 2 tsp cayenne pepper, plus more for dredging
– salt and pepper
– flour for dredging
– bread crumbs for dredging (we used a mix of Panko and regular, and I think that’s the secret to getting it extra crispy)

When my mom bakes chicken, she never soaks it in buttermilk first. Billy and I decided to give this a try to see if it made a difference. So, the first thing you want to do is combine the buttermilk, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne and salt and pepper in a large Ziplock bag. Drop the chicken in the bag and toss to coat. Refrigerate for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. To set up a dredging station for the chicken, you’ll need three bowls or deep plates: the first with flour, the second with buttermilk, and the last with the breadcrumb mixture. Make sure to season the flour and breadcrumb stations with the same seasonings you used in the marinade.

After the chicken has been marinading, remove it from the bag one piece at a time and send it through the line of dredges. Try to use one hand for the wet stuff and one for dry so you don’t end up with more breading on your fingers than is on the chicken. Place the breaded chicken pieces on a baking sheet, bone side down. After all the pieces have been breaded, toss the baking sheet into the oven for about 45 minutes, or until all the chicken pieces are cooked through.

Crispy Baked Chicken with Homemade Fries

Crispy. Juicy. Delicious. First off, you’d never know this wasn’t fried chicken…well, maybe the no grease thing would give it away. But really, it was so amazingly crispy (I attribute that to the mix of breadcrumbs), but juicy and tender on the inside. The chicken was so flavorful, probably due to the fact that it soaked in buttermilk (how can you go wrong there, right?!) and seasonings for an hour. Really, this beats any store or restaurant bought fried chicken — and it’s 10 times healthier. Oh, and did I mention that it’s crispy and juicy? Sorry mom, but I think you’ve met your baked chicken match!

While we were in Colorado over Christmas, Billy’s grandma invited everyone over for an Arabic feast. It was one of the highlights of our trip, but for me the best part was getting to taste the real version of all the things we’ve cooked at home. As much as I love Billy’s cooking, nothing will ever be as good as when his grandma makes it.

During our feast, I got to try some new things. From that day forward, I had a new favorite Arabic dish — chicken and rice (and cauliflower, but for some reason everyone always leaves that out…I haven’t quite figured out why yet). It’s the perfect blend of rice, fried cauliflower, chicken and spices. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Here’s what you’ll need:
– 4 cups water
– 3 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
– 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets and dried
– 1 onion, cut into strips and 1/2 onion, cubed
– 2 cups uncooked rice, rinsed and drained
– oil (enough to fry the cauliflower)
– cinnamon and nutmeg, to taste
– salt and pepper

Bring the water, the cubed 1/2 onion, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper to a boil in a large pot. Once the water starts to boil, add the chicken and boil until completely cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a high-sided frying pan, heat the oil over medium to medium-high heat. Fry the cauliflower (in batches, if necessary) until golden brown. Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon and allow to cool on a paper towel. In the same oil, fry the strips of onion until they just begin to turn brown. Remove from the pan and drain on a separate paper towel.

Once the chicken has cooked through, drain the water into a bowl and remove from the pot. Layer the ingredients, starting with the onion, then cauliflower and finally chicken, in the same pot. You should use all of the ingredients in one set of layers. Cover the chicken with the rice, then pour the water that was used to boil the chicken over everything. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and let cook for 20 to 30 minutes.

Chicken and Rice

While we were eating this, I told Billy that I’m always shocked at the way Arabic food is prepared. The meat is almost always boiled (sometimes twice, as is with this dish), but it never gets overcooked or dried out and it’s definitely never short on flavor. I think the flavor combination created with the different spices used in most dishes infuses each bite with the distinct flavors of Arabic food.

I know I’ve said this just about every time we’ve made Arabic food, but chicken and rice is by far my favorite dish (so far, of course). I had never had fried cauliflower before, but after eating this I might have to try it in other applications. The flavor of the cauliflower totally changes when it’s fried, and it’s delicious. It adds a great flavor and texture to this dish. Since I’ve already had the real version of this, I know what it’s supposed to taste like and I can actually say that Billy’s version is pretty dead on. The biggest different we noticed was that his grandma’s was much darker. I think she fries her cauliflower and onions until they are pretty dark and we stopped ours before they turned completely brown, so that may have been part of the reason.

You can serve the chicken and rice with yogurt, but this is actually one application where I don’t think it’s necessary. Using yogurt will make everything really creamy (which is delicious), but everything stands perfectly well on it’s own, too.

We love sriracha hot sauce. Until we made these chicken wings, though, I never really thought of using it any application other than for Asian food. This simple recipe proves that this Asian-style sauce has many more uses, and sriracha is definitely going to be showing up in our kitchen more often from now on!

We found this recipe while searching the Internet for some ideas for homemade, healthier chicken wings. We wanted to make restaurant-style wings without frying them or drenching them in a ton of sauce, but we still wanted something with a lot of flavor. That’s where sriracha comes in. The makers of the intensely hot sauce, Huy Fong Foods, have two little recipes on their Web site, and this just happens to be one of them. And man, do I wish I would have found it sooner!

Here’s what you’ll need:
– 12 to 15 chicken wings (we just got two packages of wings)
– 1/4 cup (or more if you want them hotter) sriracha
– 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
– 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

To prepare the wings, rinse well, split at the joint (discard the tips if you prefer) and pat dry. Place a cooling rack on a baking sheet and arrange the wings on the rack so they all have plenty of room to cook. Cook the wings in a 425 degree oven for one hour, or until cooked through and crispy (165 degree internal temperature, plus carryover), flipping them over halfway through the cooking.

For the sauce, combine the butter, sriracha and Worcestershire in a large mixing bowl. (You should wait to assemble the sauce until the wings are pretty much done cooking so the butter doesn’t start to harden and get too cold.) When the wings come out of the oven, toss them with the sauce to coat. Serve with ranch or blue cheese for dipping and celery sticks and it’s just like you’re in a restaurant — only healthier and a lot cheaper!

Sriracha Chicken Wings

I can’t overstate how awesome these were. I thought they were going to be super hot since it’s basically just sriracha (which is mega hot on it’s own) and butter, but they weren’t overly hot at all. They had a great flavor and the perfect amount of heat. And you would never know that the wings themselves weren’t friend because the outside was so crispy, but the inside still moist and juicy. These wings were so good that we’re planning to make them again for Super Bowl for everyone to try!

The original sriracha recipe can be found on Huy Fong’s Web site, and I highly recommend you try it!

It’s been a while since I posed about Arabic food (actually, it’s been a while since we made Arabic food), so I thought I’d share something before we get rolling on all the Christmas goodies (yay!). Mugrabidi is a sort of soupy dish with tiny pasta, garbanzo beans and chicken. This is a perfect dish for a cold winter night — I promise it will hit the spot and warm you up instantly!

Here’s what you’ll need:
– 8 cups water
– 4 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
– 1 onion, chopped
– 1 can garbanzo beans, drained
– 1/2 to 1 pound acini de pepe pasta (amount depends on what kind of pasta to bean/chicken/liquid ratio you want)
– salt and pepper to taste

This is a really simple recipe, but the end result is nothing but! First, add the cut chicken pieces to a pot of boiling water. Let the chicken begin to cook and when the water returns to a rolling boil, add the garbanzo beans. Meanwhile, saute the onion until it begins to turn brown then add it to the boiling water. Continue to boil for about 10 minutes, or until the chicken is almost cooked through. Finally, add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 15 more minutes. At this point the chicken and pasta should be done. Season with salt and pepper and you’re ready to serve! (There will be quite a bit of liquid left, the consistency of the dish is supposed to be soupy.)

Mugrabidi

Of all the Arabic dishes I’ve had, I would say this is the least Arabic tasting…if that makes sense. It doesn’t have any of the flavorings and spices found in most Arabic dishes. Nevertheless, this is a great dish and it’s one of my favorites. I love the soupy consistency and the flavor the beans give to the liquid. I think the best way to eat mugrabidi is to get a little of everything in each bite — you really get a great flavor and texture combination that way.

Whether you care to admit it or not, Gordon Ramsay is bad ass. Hell’s Kitchen may make him seem like a total ass (sans bad), but deep down all he really cares about is food. He’s passionate about food and it’s evident in his recipes — as Billy and I have learned testing some of the recipes from his book Fast Food.

We’re always looking for new ways to cook chicken since it can sometimes get boring, and this recipe is definitely a keeper. Unlike a lot of sauces and glazes, Ramsay’s lemon sauce really penetrates the meat and flavors all of the chicken, not just the skin.

Here’s what you’ll need:
– 1 chicken cut into 8 pieces (we used only wings)
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 1 head of garlic, sliced in half horizontally
– 2 to 3 tbsp soy sauce
– 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
– 1 lemon, cut into slices, plus the juice of a half a lemon
– a “good splash” of water (about 1/3 cup)
– 1 bunch fresh thyme, minced
– 2 tbsp honey
– salt and pepper
– fresh parsley, chopped

In a large, high-sided pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. With a paper towel, pat the chicken dry, season with salt and pepper and place in the pan, skin side down. Brown the chicken on both sides — two to three minutes per side.

Once the chicken has browned, add the soy sauce and vinegar. Place the head of garlic, cut side down, in the pan, top everything with the lemon slices and drizzle the lemon juice over the top.

Carefully and slowly begin adding the water to the pan. You don’t want to cover the chicken in water, but you want enough to create a thick sauce and help the chicken to cook through. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer, turning the chicken pieces every few minutes, until the water is mostly evaporated or the chicken is cooked through, about six to seven minutes.

Add the thyme to the pan and drizzle the honey over each piece of chicken. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve!

Sticky Lemon Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

I don’t think I’ve ever had such flavorful chicken. What was different about this recipe was that the flavors really penetrated the meat of the chicken. (I always hate biting into juicy chicken and the flavor is only on the skin…don’t you?) The lemon wasn’t overpowering and it paired perfectly with the thyme. The chicken was so juicy and delicious, it tasted as if it had been marinading and cooking all day. This was also a good alternative to making some kind of lemon rub or sauce and cooking chicken in the oven or on the grill.

This recipe can be found in Ramsay’s book Fast Food (which we love). I wasn’t able to find his exact recipe online, but I did find Brandon Eats version — along with a video of Ramsay at work.

One of the things I’ve loved most since becoming a part of the blogging community is meeting other foodies and getting great ideas from all you wonderful cooks out there. Carrie over at Our Life in Food posted a few weeks ago about an Indian dish her and her husband tried. Her picture literally made my mouth water and I put it on our menu the very next week. Chicken Tikka Masala will most definitely be a frequent rotation in our weekly menu from now on…thanks Carrie!

Before trying this, I don’t think I had ever had “real” Indian food. I pretty much knew what kind of spices go into Indian dishes, and this tasted pretty much exactly like what I would imagine an Indian curry dish tasting like — only minus curry powder. It was thick and creamy and made for a perfect sauce to serve over rice.

Here’s what you’ll need:
– 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
– 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (this is for garnish only, we left it out)
Marinade
– 6 oz. yogurt
– 2 tsp ground cumin
– 2 tsp cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
– 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
– salt and pepper
Sauce
– Olive Oil
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
– 2 tsp ground cumin
– 2 tsp paprika
– salt and pepper
– 1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
– 3/4 cup heavy cream

Keep in mind that the chicken should marinade for about an hour, so keep that in mind when you’re thinking about preparing this dish.

In a bowl large enough to hold the chicken, combine the yogurt, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, ginger and salt and pepper. Add the chicken and mix well, making sure to coat each piece of chicken with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.

For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan or high sided skillet and saute, over medium-high heat, the garlic and jalapeno for about one minute. Add the cumin, paprika and salt and cook for another 30 seconds to a minute. Next, add the tomato sauce and cream. Stir well to combine, bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer. Simmer the mixture for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the chicken from the marinade, heat a medium-sized skillet over medium heat and cook the chicken until browned on the outside and cooked through on the inside, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken to the simmering sauce and stir to coat. Serve over rice.

Chicken Tikka Masala with Rice and Cauliflower

This was amazingly delicious. Although, it was pretty dang spicy (yes, even for two New Mexican’s), but so, so good. It was creamy, spicy and extremely flavorful. It was perfect over rice and paired really well with cauliflower. All the different spices and flavors came out in every bite, but didn’t overpower the flavor of the tomato-based sauce. This will for sure be something we make often…and will hopefully inspire us to try other Indian dishes.

For the original recipe, visit Carrie’s blog (and while you’re there, make sure to check out her other recipes!).

I must have really been feeling sick when I decided to take tips from Rachel Ray (no offense to you Rachel lovers out there, but I just can’t stand the lady), but I followed through with it anyway. During the week I spent stuck to the couch, I saw a lot of Rachel Ray on Food TV and I have to admit…sometimes her food looks good.

In one of the 9 million episodes they air throughout the day, she made what she called “chicken cordon bleu” (but it so wasn’t) in which she stuffed a chicken breast with a blue cheese, spinach and arugula mixture, wrapped it in bacon and baked in the oven. I usually am not a fan of food wrapped in bacon, but I couldn’t get the idea of a cheese, spinach and arugula stuffing out of my head. So, I asked Billy his opinion and we decided to do a spin-off of Rachel’s chicken.

Here’s what you’ll need:
– 2 to 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
– about 1/2 cup goat cheese (or any crumbly-type cheese you prefer)
– 1/2 cup each spinach and arugula, chopped
– salt and pepper
– Panko (or regular) bread crumbs

Prepare the stuffing by combining the cheese, spinach and arugula. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Using a paring knife, cut a slit into the fat portion of the breast. Then, using your fingers, make the slit bigger without busting through the sides or bottom of the meat. Start stuffing the chicken, about one teaspoon at a time, until you get the desired amount of the cheese mixture in each breast. Finally, cover the outside of the chicken breast with bread crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until cooked through.

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Panko Crusted Chicken with Goat Cheese Stuffing

This wasn’t the best chicken we’ve ever made, but it wasn’t bad for something we just threw together from an idea we had (thanks, Rachel). The stuffing mixture was interesting. The arugula really overpowered the spinach, and even the goat cheese — I think this would have been the case even in the original recipe. Aside from that, the filling was pretty good and paired well with the chicken. I love the texture of goat cheese, and it really held up through the cooking process. The crunchyness from the panko bread crumbs was a great addition to the dish as well. I’m not sure that we’d make it again, but it might be worth it to try a few other combinations.

I just want to start by saying that Cornish game hens are probably one of the coolest things ever. I mean, who doesn’t love their own mini chicken sitting in front of them on a plate, ready to be eaten? I think they’re fun and there’s lots of things you can do with them that you maybe wouldn’t do with regular chicken. Plus, the leftovers always make really good chicken salad sandwiches.

When we made these, we didn’t do anything too crazy. We seasoned them with salt and pepper and rubbed a little olive oil on them and popped them in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes to start the cooking process. Meanwhile, we created a glaze of honey, orange juice, orange peel and white wine that we could use to baste throughout the rest of the cooking process. For the last 20 to 30 minutes of cooking, we basted the “little chickens” every 15 minutes or so.

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Cornish Game Hen with Almond Butter Green Beans and Quinoa

Pretty simple, right? Nothing too special here, just a tasty, moist bird. The glaze added a great sweet flavor to the meat of the chicken without being too overpowering. The orange flavor went really well with the chicken and the green beans. What’s great about this type of glaze is that you can flavor it with anything you like and really change it up. No matter what you do, you really can’t go wrong.