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10 things you’ll always find in the pantry…well my pantry

it’s fun day Monday! Let’s play a little game. I read a recipe post a while back that claimed it was a recipe you could make out of staples, no shopping needed, you should have it all in your pantry! I don’t even remember what the ingredients were now. But I can tell you they were NOT in my pantry. Ever since I’ve been kinda curious. What do people keep in their pantries? I mean I know what I keep in mine. However, I am well aware that 1)everyone is different and 2)I’m not what most would consider ‘normal.’

So humor me. Satisfy a little unwarranted curiosity on my part. I’ll list 10 things that you can always (or almost always) find in my pantry and you list yours in the comments or on Facebook. Come on…It’ll be fun!

Here are mine.

1) Beans – always black beans, often others as well

beans

2) Rice – gotta fill those kids up somehow

3) Canned tomatoes – they seem to be in every recipe and go BOGO pretty often

4) Nuts – walnuts, peanuts, almonds, cashews

5) Canned corn – same as tomatoes

6) Black olives – pizza, quesadillas, rice and beans, right out of the can, we go through a lot

olives

7) Popcorn kernels – Orville Redenbacher’s are non-GMO! (you know to balance all the totally GMO canned corn out…) Also that pinterest thing, about popping kernels in a paper bag in the microwave, totally works.

8) Oats – we use oats for EVERYTHING here

9) Peanut butter – always have to have an extra jar of peanut butter or almond butter or sun butter…

yeah it’s just like that….except minus the jelly…we like honey over here, but that’s in the cupboard, not the pantry 😉

10) Olive oil – gotta stock up on that stuff when it’s BOGO

And there you have it! That was actually a little harder than I thought it was going to be. I had to check ALL my pantry shelves. Geez, making me work on a Monday morning. What gives? Your turn, go to work!

What’s always in your pantry?

week 3 of recipe fun!

First thing I learned this week, when you have a regular writing time, don’t go grocery shopping during that time and expect the writing to happen just as “easily” (hahahahahaha) later. But third times a charm? Right? I hope so. Here’s goes…again…

1) 3 bean Chili with GF dairy free corn bread – I’m not one of those people that likes Chili year round. I have to have it cold to be in the mood, but my family does not care, so occasionally I take one for the team, this chili is worth it. Though my hunch is the kids are just eating it for the honey smothered corn bread. Also I’ve used whatever tomatoes I have on hand and add red pepper if I don’t happen to have spicy ones. It’s an art people.

2) Rice and beans – it sounds so blah when said like that, but that’s what I tell my kids to get them to eat it. It’s also been known as a barney bowl or as Tijuana Flats calls it a noritto bowl. You start with brown rice, add some black beans then layer on the toppings. So far I’ve gotten the kids to add olives and sour cream the adults add purple onions, tomato, corn, avocado, jalapenos, salsa and cilantro if I have it. Yum yum yum and so easy.

3) Potato Pancakes – here’s another easy one. I throw 6-8 red potatoes into the vita-mix with a sweet onion, let it chop them up good. Dump in a bowl and add in an egg and a few tablespoons of flour (I’ve been using tapioca starch). Then you scoop it onto an oiled griddle and cook it 3-5 minutes per side. We eat them with ketchup, sour cream or applesauce. I usually serve with steamed green beans.

4) Taco soup – I make this one for company a lot, which ends up back firing because they always want the recipe and it’s so ridiculously easy it’s embarrassing! Just remember 5 cans and a cup. 1 can kidney beans (drained), 1 can of black beans (drained), 1 can of refried beans, 1 can of broth, 1 can of corn and a cup of salsa. Put it all in the crock pot on high for 5 hours and add whatever you use to season Tacos we use 2T of chili powder 1T of cumin and a shake of garlic powder. Top with cheese and serve with chips! This one the kids also love.

5) Chicken Fajitas – put boneless chicken of your choice into the crock-pot and dump a jar of salsa on top. Close the lid and let it cook on low all day (8ish hours). Right before dinner slice up a large purple onion, a red pepper and a green pepper and a 16oz carton of mushroom sautee in coconut oil until soft. Then take a fork and shred the chicken in the crock-pot and serve on tortillas with the veggies. I usually add rice for the kids, gotta fill them up!

6) Rice/Chicken/Broccoli casserole – if you made the vegan mac n cheese I posted about earlier, this is one of the reasons I make extra “cheese.” Line the bottom of a casserole dish with rice (2-3 cups) sprinkle some leftover chicken on top (usually shredded from above), cut up a head of broccoli or a bag of frozen whatever works for your family and add that on top then pour the “cheese” sauce over the whole thing and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

7) Lentil soup – this one is on the menu this week and it has a real recipe! I like to use up our old bread and make croutons for this one. Amazingly the kids ate it on first try, that really never happens, I think it was the croutons.

Here’s week 1 and week 2 if you missed them! I can’t believe I finally finished, miracles do exist! Off to make stir fry for dinner, that will be on the next recipe post!

side note: any broth we use is homemade, it’s super easy and virtually free! Just save the ends and pieces of your veggies when you are cooking (onions, peppers, carrots, celery, etc. I also keep lemons and limes) Keep them in a gallon bag in the freezer until you have a full bag. Then you dump it in a crock-pot and fill with water, add a bay leaf and a few dashes of Season All and cook on low for 10-12 hours. I keep all our old peanut butter jars to store stuff like this in.

week 2 menu plans

Skipped Monday’s blog to celebrate the holiday. Figured you all were too, but I’m back. I’ve got another week of menu’s down below. Enjoy!

8) Black bean sweet potato burgers – I’ve had people really get upset when I call these burgers and there’s no meat in them, so if it makes you feel better feel free to call them patties instead! They are not a meat burger substitute, they are they’re own thing entirely and they are yummy. If you can make up the mix and leave it for a bit they are a little easier to handle, but I’ve done them either way (I’m not always thinking ahead!). When cooking them once you put them on the skillet don’t touch them, check them, or move them AT ALL until you’re ready to flip them. Premature checking or flipping or poking may or may not cause them to crumble into pieces, which I totally don’t know from experience, but I read it, somewhere, yep, that’s it. Also they taste really good with avocado (or pepper jack cheese if you can have it!)

9) Vegan mac n cheese – So how’d you like to eat a whole bunch of healthy things and it feels like you’re eating mac n cheese? You’re in luck! It’s got onions and shallots and carrots and lemon juice and cashews and just trust me you’ll still like it.

I have to be upfront, this one is a bit labor intensive the first time. It’s worth it, I can make it in my sleep now we’ve had it so much. By the 5 or 6 time we had it all the kids would even eat it! I don’t typically put the bread crumbs on top, I don’t feel it’s needed and it’s just extra work. Also I always always at least double the sauce, I freeze whatever’s left for other recipes. If you don’t want to have so much potato in there we’ve successfully subbed it out for eggplant (I know, but it really works) or half cauliflower half potato (more than 50/50 for this alters the taste too much for me). I’ve also halved the salt and ‘butter’ with no complaints (just don’t leave it all out! left out the salt once on accident, I will NEVER do that again, blech). Also I stopped telling people it’s vegan, they give you weird looks and don’t try it. If you don’t tell them, they love it! Adults are really just little kids when it comes to food sometimes.

10) Corn chowder – This is the basic recipe I use. I like this one with coconut milk best, but I’ll use whatever non-dairy milk I have on hand. A special trip to the store for a preferred ingredient does NOT happen over here, instead, I get creative, it usually works out. I leave out the red peppers, I really like them, but the family not so much. I like turkey bacon sprinkled on top vs. the canadian bacon inside. I’ve used half n half fresh corn and canned or frozen and I think it still tastes good. I don’t think I’d do all frozen, but you can do whatever you want.

11) Huevos rancheros – This is here for the no brainer nights, so so easy. As long as I make sure each of my kids gets an egg, they will eat it.

12) Pad Thai – We had this last night! That comment on the beginning of the blog about doubling the sauce, that was from me! I changed the description on my original pin and as it got repinned and repinned no one changed the description and whamo it was all over pinterest! My one claim to fame. I do like it saucier, although these days I mostly just add more soy sauce (we use bragg’s liquid amminos) and lime juice and keep the sugar the same.

13) Homemade Pizza – no recipe here, everyone likes their pizza different. We have however stumbled on Mama Mary’s crust for the gluten free option and it’s been a big hit, we like their regular too. Over here our cheese pizza has olives, green pepper, onions, and mushrooms (Jena is still picking these off) and pepperoni. For the no cheese the boys mostly just do pepperoni, sometimes one of the other veggies, if I’m in the mood to force the issue.

14) Fish and veggies – another no recipe. We eat mostly white fish (though the kids have recently decided to like salmon too!) and I just put some olive oil and salt and pepper on it and put it on the electric skillet 3-4 minutes a side. The kids don’t like the fancy stuff so much and this one is one I make for an easy dinner win. I will put some cajun seasoning and mine and Bycemasters, yum yum. We usually eat it with broccoli or green beans.

So there you have it, week 2! Click here if you missed week 1!

week 1 meal plans

So I posted on facebook earlier that I’ve finally got a list of 30 dinner meals for the family, and there was a request for the meals. Since I honor requests (shhh don’t tell my kids), here you have it.

The hope of this list is that I can just pull from this list each week when menu planning and it will make menu planning less of a brain drain and more of a breeze! I doubt I will just rotate this list straight, certain things (like homemade pizza and quesadillas) will get used more than once a month, I can already tell you that. Also I enjoy trying something new, even if my family does not always appreciate my efforts, but its one of the few advantages of being the cook, I can cook what I want, occasionally.

Since a whole 30 days would be a monstrosity of a post, I’m gonna do it a week at a time. I try to follow the 80/20 rule with food. Meaning if we can keep 80% of what we eat in a week where I would like it, the other 20% is a wash. Breakfast and lunch are usually pretty standard and healthy around here so I took a few of the cheats with dinners (hence the hot dogs, gotta have some easy wins) and the rest will cover parties, eating out and other peoples houses (always a wild card). I need some grace in my life.

So here it is, in absolutely no premeditated order whatsoever!

Week 1 of 30 days of dinner meals

1) Black bean quesadillas – This is one of the few all over wins for the family. I use whole wheat or corn tortillas, smash up the black beans a bit to make a paste, spread bean paste on one half and avocado on the other half, sprinkle with black olives, fold in half and grill in coconut oil on a skillet. We also add onions, tomatoes, and cheese per request. Serve with salsa and sour cream. So yummy!

2) Re-fried bean tacos – I use this recipe for re-fried beans in the crock-pot, they smell like heaven when they are cooking. I make the whole recipe and freeze the rest for easy dinners later! This recipe was the first way we ever got the littlest to actually eat tacos.

3) Split pea soup – This one was a favorite for Bycemaster and myself, the kids were very much not fans. There may or may not have been incidents of actual gagging at the table the first few times we had this. They have been slowly won over and now all of them will actually eat it and 2 of them are actually excited about it! I use the recipe on the back of the Publix split pea package. We use a few pieces of bacon instead of ham unless it’s the holidays and we need to use up a bunch of leftover ham.

4) One Pan Mexican Skillet Meal – recipe here, we use exactly as stated, so so easy, love this one.

5) Potato Soup – this is the baseline recipe I use, we sub the cow’s milk for unsweetened almond milk and the flour for whatever gluten free flour I happen to have at the moment. It’s loaded with veggies and not super heavy like a lot of potato soups, have seconds with no guilt 🙂 It can be fun with toppings too, we usually pick some green onions and add cheese for those that can have it.

6) Hot Dogs – Some nights you need a no brainer. If I’m lucky Bycemaster will grill them, if not, I’ll microwave them. I usually buy the ones safe for our family when they’re on sale and hide them in my special hidey hole in the freezer to pull out on nights when I cannot adult.

7) Black bean soup – another super easy one (are you sensing a theme here). Two cans of black beans (rinsed and drained), 1 can of broth (veggie or chicken), and 1 cup of salsa. Set aside one can of beans and blend the rest, then pour in a pan to heat and add the other can of beans and a little cumin and chili powder. This one is so easy it was one of the first to teach the oldest to make. Sometimes we mix in corn or rice if I have some leftover that needed to get used. We always serve it with chips, pretty sure that’s why it’s a kid favorite.

Side note: I used to think making dried beans required magical powers. I tried and failed miserably so many different times and then stumbled on a blogger that said she made them in the crock pot, EUREKA! 4-5 hours on high, no soaking or magical powers required. I now cook dried ones and freeze them in roughly can sized containers for easy use later.

Good luck and happy cooking!

and the beat goes on…

So I was driving to school to pick up Jena and hit something (deductive reasoning tells me it was a trash can. I don’t really know, as I obviously didn’t SEE it). No big deal, right? Another scratch or dent, whatever. Nope.

It took my mirror off. Right next to the window we just got replaced last Tuesday. My poor car is feeling the love. It’s like she knows she’s slated for replacement next year and is attracting incidents out of spite. Ironically, it is not making me want to keep her!

Icing on the pity party cake, as I was walking out of school, a few paces behind the big kids, as usual, I ran into an entire herd of mom’s sternly trying to coral my children. Other than saying  ‘stay there young man!’ and ‘where do you think you are going?’ I’m not entirely sure what they were doing, but I did not stick around and find out. There is no judgment like another mother’s judgement. On any other day I’d like to think it would not have bothered me (which may or may not be true). However, having just in the last 15 mins damaged my car for the second time in less than 2 weeks, knowing I now have more headache and money being spent ahead of me, I was in no mood. With a sorry and a question not really meant to be answered (after some other child outed me as their mother I might add) I followed the children who immediately bolted for the car as soon as they saw me again. In my defense, I intentionally park on the side of the parking lot that requires no crossing of moving cars, control the things you can, judge me if you will.

In other news, we are still plugging away on recovering from the robbery. I do appreciate all those that have asked how we are doing. Here’s the update.

I was making what was supposed to be my last call on Tuesday and discovered we had another fraudulent charge to our account. Looks like they grew a brain and went online and paid someone’s phone bill. And just to make my life a little more difficult, they used Neil’s name (yep it was in the check book too!) so I had to jump through more hoops to get it cleared. So after an entire day on the phone (yippie!) we ended in a better place and a few of the more important customer service reps I talked to were actually helpful. Now I just have to do now is switch the 20 (not an exaggeration) autodrafts and direct deposits to our new account numbers before our grace period runs up. Which will actually consist of 20 recover password and/or username processes on 20 different websites where I may or may not already have an existing account, but where I am certain to not remember either way!

I don’t wan to do it, I don’t want to change all our bills. I don’t want to drop off the car to get fixed. I don’t want to drive with a broken window. I don’t want to spend more money or more time on the phone with insurance companies. I want to put my head on the table and cry myself into the nap I’m not getting today. But since that isn’t an option, I’m going to attempt some perspective.

I am grateful I didn’t hit a person or animal with my car (at least I don’t think I did, as stated, didn’t see what it was). I am grateful Caroline likes most everything I cook even when my kids will not touch it, and she’s currently cleaning up a number of leftovers in the fridge. I am grateful it is a beautiful day and my windows are open and the breeze is blowing around the curtains. I am grateful I got some fun time with my little man while Caroline took an unexpectedly early nap this morning (why I’m not getting a nap, waaahhh, ok I’m done). I am grateful I actually did clean the kitchen this morning, one less thing to stress me out. I am grateful completing this blog will make my list for the day half done, even if watching dr. who was on it. I am grateful sriracha sauce makes everything taste better, even botched up new recipes. I am grateful well fed and rested children sing happily instead of whine and cry. I am grateful my husband loves me even when I do stupid things like knock the mirror off our car. I am grateful it’s only money, we could have real problems.

Thanks for listening, I feel better now.

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