Tuesday, November 26, 2013

One Pot Mexican Skillet

All I will preempt this post with is:

So, go ahead. Take my word for it and try it. I mean, look at it:
Yup. That took 30 minutes to make, folks. Oh, and it fed us for like, 3 days.
Original recipe from Damn Delicious

One Pot Mexican Skillet

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb ground turkey (or beef)
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
2 cups salsa
2 cups cooked elbow pasta
1 Roma tomato, diced
1 cup corn kernels (I used a whole can)
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed (again, I used a whole can)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add ground turkey and cook until browned, about 3- 5 minutes. Drain. 

Stir in tomato sauce and salsa until well combined. Add pasta, tomato, corn and black beans and gently toss to combine. 

Stir in cheese until melted through. 

Serve topped with avocado and cilantro. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

DIY Chalkboard Tree Topper

During Christmas of 2012 my tree topper broke and I was actually somewhat thankful that I had a legitimate reason to throw it out (it had been through one too many Christmases and one too many out of city moves). I threw it out knowing I'd be hitting up the after Christmas sales for a new one.

Until Christmas 2013 came around and I realized I was so miserably pregnant last Christmas that I wasn't going anywhere unless it was to get a baby out of my blimp body.

So this year I was tree topless and my tree looked sad (and skanky. I mean, put a top on, seriously.)

And then I remembered I had little chalkboard painted signs I had made for a photo prop and if it had been a terribly produced movie, Christmas choruses would have began sounding.

Let's pretend a child wrote that and not an adult with poor penmanship. It's cuter that way.  

Lo and behold. I did something and thought, "...I should pin that." So I did. Yay, Christmas!

NOTE: If you want yours to look similar to how I made mine, I simply bought a wooden plaque from Hobby Lobby for $1.47, used wood glue and glued it to two wooden skewers (because it's what I had in the kitchen though you really can attach it to anything sturdy. A stick from outside will do.) and then painted it with chalkboard paint. 
My husband would be so proud of the money we saved by my forgetting to buy a tree topper the year before!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Words I'm Sick of Hearing:

GOP (just stop.)
LIBERALS (I'm obviously done with politics)
CRUNCHY (as in mom. Crunchy mom. Whatever the hell a crunchy mom is.)
YUMMY (No one over the age of 9 should be saying "yummy")
MILLENNIALS (STOP with the labels. I don't need a new label to slap on myself in order to identify with something or someone.)
OBAMACARE (I totally understand that this is a deal and that most everyone has a very strong opinion about it but loudly voicing it isn't changing anything worthwhile.)
SELFIE  (It's not at all cute anymore for you take a selfie and hashtag selfie yourself. Dumb and done.)

 List to be expanded as I find myself increasingly annoyed.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Thanksgiving! Preschool style! Go!

On November 1st I dug through my scrapbooking paper and plastered a Thankful Tree on our front door. It probably goes without saying because most people have seen a variation of some sort of this, but the idea is to place a leaf  on the tree for each day of the month representing something you're thankful for. I was really looking forward to trying this out this year because I've seen all kinds of versions of this. 

However, parents of children over 2 know about these "rebellious seasons", if you will, that children fall in and out of. We've been coasting drama free for months so I knew it was coming. But, day 2 of the Thankful Tree was the beginning of yet another phase of No's, sassy attitude, snobby disposition, etc. So, getting her to even tell me something she's thankful for is a chore leaving our tree looking not only naked but pretty ungrateful. 

I say all that to shred apart any kind of idea that this house is a crafty and adorable little seasonally appropriate paradise where children happily glue googly eyes to anything and prance around singing our new holiday songs with visual aids flailing around in the air. Oh, no. Oh. No. 
If I looked like a creepy dead hand, I would probably be pretty ungrateful too.
She was interested in making a toilet paper roll turkey, though. 

 I'm plugging my favorite blog's resource again, so here it comes. Oopsey Daisy's Mommy School packet about Thanksgiving had lots of cute printables, games and songs. One that was a HUGE hit was the Turkey Hunt! I printed off the provided turkeys, laminated them and taped them around her room. When I called her in she lit up with excitement - so worth it!

Isla even found one! 
I can't help but collect leaves when it's autumn. I never do anything with them except leave them laying around the house to crumble and clutter, which is weird. But not this year! This time we used leaves we collected to make a turkey with leaf feathers
Finally. A use for my obscure collecting habits.
My husband had the genius idea to use a leaf to create his beak too. Props and applause, husband. I like it.
The Mommy School packet also provided a book about Thanksgiving Colors that we laminated and hole punched to clip onto a...I don't know what that's called. Binder ring? Whatever, you've probably seen one before. What I love about this is it's one of the few things I can actually include my 10 month old in playing with and my 3 year old can read it by herself. Awesome. 
Blogger keeps uploading this upside down. Lame.
 Once again, the Mommy School packet provided another fun game for us to play - T riddles! I probably assembled them the hardest way possible, but it worked. I cut them out, laminated them, then hot glued the clue card and the picture card to the front and back of  a piece of cardboard. 

During this activity, the totally sassy and rebellious 3 year old teenager appeared again. The goal was to go through my (excessive) pile of magazines (because who has time to READ) and cut out pictures of food we would see at a Thanksgiving meal. It was an opportunity to work on our scissor cutting skills, learn about nutrition and portion size, blah blah, all good intentions. 

She refused to acknowledge that I was talking to her for a little while and when she finally answered my question of, "What the heck is the green food item up there and is it a fruit or vegetable", she said it was popcorn which she then said was a fruit. If she really thought that it was popcorn and that popcorn was a fruit, then ok, a lesson on food is needed and great. But she was a twerp about it. You just know your kids and know when they're being a smartass. (Sorry, sometimes that's just what they are.) So, I wasn't amused at all.
For her grand rebellious finale, she insisted that a giant plate of turkey was all she wanted, needed and was going to do. WELL. SCREW portion control and the food pyramid. Any other day I would have said, "Hey girl, I don't blame you! Now fill that plate with gravy and let's go!" but today was not that day. Because today wasn't Thanksgiving. And I was mad. So, here's a picture of our heaping plate of L-tryptophan.

On a lighter note, here's a coloring page I found somewhere a year or two ago! 
You should be able to save this image and then print it off if you're interested in coloring it!

Another game Mommy School had to print out was a letter game called Gobble, Gobble Game.  Sounds kind of lame but Bella really loved it, which is what matters. :) The way we played it, we each took turns drawing a turkey and if you could identify the letter and the sound it made then you could keep the turkey. The person who had the most letters at the end of the game wins! (And gets a piece of Halloween candy.) The twist in the game is that there are some turkeys that just say "Gobble!" and when that turkey is drawn, everyone has to run around the room acting like turkeys. Like I said earlier, you feel super dumb doing that but your kids laughing and genuinely enjoying every bit of it is totally worth it. 
To get the game, download the Thanksgiving packet here!

This isn't Thanksgiving related but Bella has been needing to work on her teen numbers so I made a number maze (using our kitchen tiles as a guide) to help her learn the sequence between 10 and 20.

This also isn't technically Thanksgiving related but it's a fall-ish counting dice game we used to distribute our snacks for snack time. You can get it from The Measured Mom along with a lot of other fall math activities.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sweet Tomato Basil Soup

I am not a big soup person. Neither is my husband. Or my kids, really. (So what am I doing posting a soup recipe...) But it's fall! And we have to make soup! And we're going to do our best to like it, dangit!
So, on some crazy autumn whim, I decided to try this tomato soup recipe out and holy crap. I loved it. It's rich, it has substance, it has a fantastic tomato taste without it being too tiring or overwhelming, if that makes sense. (After a few bites of Campbell's tomato soup, I'm always thinking, 'Yeah...kind of tired of the tomatoes...')
Anyway. I seriously recommend you try this. PLUS, it was easy enough to make that my daughter could help me. (In case you're wondering what the rest of my family thought, my husband and oldest daughter thought it was fine and my 10 month old loved it. In my opinion, that's a very good outcome for a family of non soup enthusiasts.)

Sweet Tomato Basil Soup
Original recipe from 365 Days of Slow Cooking.

1 medium onion, diced
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 Tbsp dried basil (or about 1/4 cup fresh)
1 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp caramelized tomato paste*
2 (28 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth (or 4 cups water + 4 tsp chicken buillon granules)
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1 cup heavy cream, warmed
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley (I actually didn't add this because I didn't have it but I so wish I had!)
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated mozzarella or Parmesan cheese

*You really want to caramelize the tomato paste. The recipe promised a flavor boost and they weren't lyin'. Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet, add 1 (6 oz) can of tomato paste and cook until it reaches a deep crimson color.
(I realize now after typing this out that I did the wrong thing and added ALL of the caramelized tomato paste to the slow cooker instead of the 1 Tbsp it called for. But it was delicious...so if it was wrong, maybe I don't want to be right.)
If you don't want to follow my example, add 1 Tbsp of the caramelized tomato paste to the slow cooker and freeze the rest in 1 Tbsp increments.

1. Add diced onion, olive oil, flour, basil and oregano to a microwave-safe bowl. Stir until blended. Microwave for about 5 minutes. (Stir about every 90 seconds). Transfer to slow cooker.
2. Add in tomato paste*, crushed tomatoes, broth, honey and salt.
3. Stir and cover. Cook on low for 5-7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
4. Remove lid and turn to HIGH. Stir in warmed cream and Italian parsley. Salt and pepper to taste. Let cook for another 10 minutes without the lid.
5. Ladle into bowls and top with cheese. Serve with warm bread or rolls (or grilled cheese, if you need the extra comfort food)

The original recipe noted they served it with frozen ravioli for the kids which I definitely plan to try next time.