Flipped @ Forty – Family

Flipped @ forty family PINTERIST

Photo by mohamed taher 

Anyone want a 3-year old? The one I have is part Tasmanian devil, apparently. That or channeling Linda Blair (Millennials and younger, look that up.). So far this morning (before 8:30) there have been 3 time outs, screaming hysterically because we are going upstairs to play. The torture! Throwing a tantrum in his room because I shut the door until he can calm down then screaming and kicking “I WANT IT OPEN!” He peeks out after being quiet for, literally, ONE SECOND. After which, I tell him to wait a little bit until I come get him. He immediately screeches, you know the one – the glass shattering high pitched shrill one, then attempts to slam the door, unsuccessfully, as it slowly swings back open. Promptly followed by screaming and kicking, “I DONT WANT IT OPEN!!!!”
Fun times at the Mays house. Day drinking is “a thing” right? I may have to try to like wine.

Looking back, the four older kids were SO EASY. The two Littlest Littles, I tell you….I’m noticing more and more grey in my hair. They are all named Ezra and Isaiah. Who thought it would be a good idea to start over at forty?  Me, you say? Well, then.  Some of you need to check your “friend cards” for not warning us at least.

This time around it was supposed to be so much easier.  (Bwahahahaha! The joke’s on us.)

It ain’t easier and it sure ain’t prettier.

So, don’t you dare believe all these moms and dads who post pics of their perfect children and lives…this is the real stuff. The nitty gritty – Calgon take me away – crying in the closet – I need another Xanax – stuff.

Starting over at 42, having already gotten my two oldest children almost to the finish line, I don’t know what I thought it would be like.  We never had the traditional get married, buy a house, have babies timeline. When I was a new mom at 25, I was still in college and working.  We were broke and struggling.  Though I would have loved to have showed up and helped out in my daughter’s class, and gone on field trips and finger-painted in the middle of the day, if Momma didn’t work she didn’t earn any money.  She couldn’t ditch school either.

Those were some lean times.  I feel guilty sometimes that my now 22-year-old got the shaft.  I joke, she grew up with us.  But it’s the truth really.  We had NO IDEA what we were doing and we were doing it alone, without parents nearby. We were flying by the seat of our pants.  Those were the years that if we didn’t donate plasma, we didn’t have gas in the car to get to work to buy the food or pay the rent.  Plasma donations are what made our budget, if you could call it that, work. We would not have made it without it.  But we learned to do a lot with a little.  I could make $20.00 feed us for a week.  Not the most nutritious meals – but it was sustenance and that’s all we needed. We look back to those times and know we could survive just about anything.

And I know that about my daughter too.  I like to think that having grown up with us and struggle with us, has contributed to the vibrant and independent woman she is.  Of course, I still worry about her and I still carry some of that guilt. And because of that, I tend to say “no” far less than I probably should. But that’s normal, right?

My now 16-year old son was born during the time when my husband and I were just starting our careers.  He got to see us achieving, what we perceived as, the American Dream.  The new mortgaged house, in suburbia, two financed cars, we finally got a dog – she was free at least.  His life was much less chaotic.  There was no moving every year or two for cheaper rent.  He is my calmer child.  And that makes sense.  Life was calm then.  For a time.

Then there are the Littles.  We were both 42 when we became parents all over again.  First with Jake and then Aydyn, Ezra and Isaiah – all at the same time.  We had four little ones age three and under.  Three of them in diapers.  We had cribs everywhere. Toys everywhere.  And laundry.  Always laundry.

I like to say it was managed chaos.  It’s still managed chaos.  Some days, it’s much less managed and mostly just chaos.  Even with all the chaos – being a mom all over again in my, now, mid-forties, as opposed to my mid-to-late twenties -it’s quite a different experience.  Certainly, our external circumstances are different.  But I am also different.  WE are different, both as individual parents and as a parental unit.

Our focus has shifted. We are much more “present”.  More confident in who we are as parents.  We do not have the undercurrent of worry anymore. We are more intentional about taking the time to enjoy being parents, a luxury we did not have the first time around.  The benefit of perspective and life experience is pure gold.

That’s not to say we have got it all together.  It’s just different.  I am still awkward.  I’ve never felt I was part of the “super-mom, mommy and me, PTA” crowd.  When I pick up my boys and see all the fit 20-something mom’s in the coordinated active wear, delivered monthly, and messy buns, I feel out of place.  When I am in the check-out line at the grocery store with my boys, I am thankful when they call me “mommy” – ensuring I am not mistaken for  “Grandma.”

My bones and muscles get sore much more quickly.  And It seems really, really unfair to have age-spots appearing and greying hair while my youngest is still in pull-ups.  It should be a rule that can’t happen.  Those things should only happen when your children reach a certain age – no matter how old YOU are.

And then there are the days like today, where all HELL has broken-loose.  (Not H-E-double hockey sticks – but HELL, all caps HELL.) These are the days where I question what business I have being a 47-year old mom of preschoolers.  A day when in the midst of questioning my abilities as a Momma, I’m met with parenting suggestions from someone who does not have children – and it almost sends me over the edge.  She meant well and is a fabulous woman – but it’s comments like hers that underscore my own insecurities as a parent.  Days when I am doing it all wrong.  That something must be wrong with ME, that my kids aren’t the Angels that everyone else’s kids appear to be.

Where there is the slightest fear that I might be raising little serial killers.  It certainly appears that way when the second I am taking a business phone call and have to step out of the room, the two Littlest Littles proceed post-haste to actually attempt to murder each other with their bare hands.

(That’s sarcasm folks.  Don’t get your panties in a bunch. My kids are fabulous and well loved.)

And then….divinely inspired kind words float through the time and space of the Interwebs and my mom-tribe encourages me….  “You are not alone.” “Been there.”  “It will pass.” It’s like fresh air.  Calming my trembling spirit.  I am truly not alone. And we are certainly not the only ones who feel as if they are failing at this parenting gig most days.

Age has given such perspective in so many areas of my life.  In my career, in relationships.  I am so much more forgiving.   Willing to freely share what I know with others.  A desire to reach back and grab as many people as I can on the journey.  So why is it so hard to be that confident as a parent?

We are certainly not perfect.  Not by a long shot.  But there are perfect moments.  When my four-year old climbs up into my bed to give me a hug and squeezes me as hard as he can.  When my seven-year old excitedly shares with me a book he wants to get at the book fair, remembering that I told him it was one of my favorites as a child.  Sitting down for dinner and looking across the table and seeing all of my children together enjoying just being together.  It’s the moments that make all the difference. Oh, how I would love to freeze each and every one of them so I don’t forget them. Forgetfulness….another side-effect of aging (sigh).

And all the other times, in between “the moments”, I am grateful that I have my own tribe of “super-mom’s” on stand-by to reach back and carry me forward.  It almost makes me forget about my age-spots and grey hair.

Love and Prosperity 

Your Girl.FI.day 

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Friday Night Under Five – Crockpot Seafood Gumbo-laya

Seafood Gumbolaya PINTEREST

GUMBOLAYA:

Not quite gumbo and not quite jumbalaya….but as tasty and best served over a heaping cup of white Basmati or Jasmine rice.

We made ours without sausage, but I can tell you from past experience, this is one occasion where I almost threw caution to the wind, and added the sausage anyway.  BUT we didn’t – this was seafood only. Don’t get me wrong, it was still incredibly delicious  – just a little twinge of longing for some really good sausage. Of all the meats – I miss pork most.  (wink)

Crock Pot Seafood Gumbo-laya

1/2 onion diced

1 green bell pepper

2 TBS minced garlic

6-8 cups of veggie stock

4 stocks of chopped celery

4-5 diced potatoes

2 1/2 TBS of tomato paste

1 can petite diced tomato

1 TBS paprika

1tsp cumin

1/2 TBS salt

1/2 TBS pepper

1/2 TBS Anthony’s creole seasoning

1-2 bags of uncooked med to large peeled and deveined shrimp

1 bag of scallops

Crab legs/meat

1 TBS flour

4 TBS butter split (Vegan “butter”)

3-4 cups of rice

2 limes

Add all ingredients except shrimp scallops and crab, butter and flour into a crock pot and let cook on low for 5 hours or on high for 3. (If you choose to add sausage it can go in the crock at this point as well.)

Cook your rice. (We use a rice cooker) Once your rice is cooked add the juice of three limes, mix and set aside.

An hour before you are ready to serve, add in the crab.  Then heat 2 TBS of butter on medium heat and put scallops in the pan flat side down. Let them cook for about 2 minuets and flip. If you like you can season them with paprika and salt and pepper. Once scallops are MOSTLY cooked add them (excess butter and all) into the crock pot. Stir and cover. Next do the same with your shrimp but DO NOT cook them all the way. Only cook them about half-way. Sprinkle the flour and (and optional seasoning) into the shrimp and mix well, coating the shrimp. Once the shrimp is half-way cooked, add to the crock pot. Let it sit for another 30 minutes and then it is ready to serve. The flour coated shrimp will help thicken the stew.  Serve over fragrant rice.

There is something about a hot bowl of soup or stew that just speaks comfort.  In our home, weekends are made for relaxing; putting on Netflix while the house slowly fills with the aroma of dinner.  At this moment, I am listening to the rain through my open windows.   The scent wafting through the house makes it really difficult to wait a few more hours to pour a hot bowl of goodness.  A near perfect day, if you ask me.

Love and Prosperity,

Your GirlFIday

ALDI Meal Challenge – Final Week 4

Aldi Challenge Week 4 (1).png

We made it! A week late, but still here.  Sickness while trying to keep all the various plates I have in the air AND not go completely mad is near impossible.  So as not to slip all the way into the crazy-pond, I gave myself permission to rest a bit this week.  I hope ya’all can forgive the delay.

So, here we are at week four of our ALDI Meal Challenge, and honestly, what started as an experiment, has helped us develop a very good strategy for meal planning while saving both money and time each week.  It also forced my daughter and I to sit down, take inventory of what we had and create a good variety of meal options around that.  I would have been happy to simply see a savings in our grocery bill – but to also reduce waste, eat better, save time and ensure my whole family came together at the table every night, are benefits that compound in value exponentially.

What was also really cool is that I did this with my 22-year old daughter.  She lives with us, as she has just finished an esthetics program and is getting ready to get back to work full-time.  In the meantime, as a trade-off and to contribute to the household she has basically taken over most of the meal preparation in this house. With is SUPER AWESOME for me as I am balancing two businesses, mom-in-chief of Team Mays, this blog and trying to get another passion project off the ground.  It allows us time to bond when we sit down and meal plan together, make the grocery list and shop with one another.  She helps me take pictures of most of the meals and also helps me write down each of the recipes.  So, I really do need to give her a HUGE amount of credit for seeing this challenge all the way through.  Momma thanks you bunches – Baby Girl!

So here is our final meal plan…  Madison did not disappoint this week.  I have a favorite!  The stuffed shells.  100% Vegan and, honestly, I don’t think there was a dirty plate left – they had all been licked clean (figuratively – not literally. Well, not literally for most of us.  I cannot vouch for all of the Littles).

Meal 1:  Honey Garlic Salmon, with Asparagus and Steamed broccoli

Meal 2:  Battered Fish Tacos on corn Tortilla, Shredded Cabbage, Limes, Chipotle Lime-sauce, with beans, rice and fresh salsa.

Meal 3: Stuffed Pasta Shells (recipe here)

Meal 4:  Taco Casserole **

Meal 5:  Pizza Empanadas **

Meal 6:  Super Nachos

Meal 7:  Gumbo-laya **

I’ve said this before, but in case you are new here…I am not a chef or a foodie.  I don’t have ANY aspirations of becoming a food blogger.  I am just a working mom, trying to manage my menagerie.  When I want to make a dish I usually search the internet for a recipe to base most of my ingredients on and then make adjustments depending on what I have or what I think would taste better.  I have tried to provide as many recipes as I can – because I know not everyone is as comfortable in the kitchen as others.  Even so, please bear in mind that most of the time I am just winging it here and the meal suggestions I have – are mostly just that – suggestions,  a guideline for your to create your own meal plan and to do so on a budget.

TACO CASSEROLE:

(This is very similar to the Tex Mex Corn Casserole previously posted with some slight variations in the ingredients and the “cheese” sauce.)

4-6 potatoes

1 can refried beans (pre-heated and thinned)

I pound ground meat (or no-meat crumbles.  We prefer Gardein.)

1 can of corn, drained

1 can pinto or chili beans, drained

Vegan “Nacho cheese”

Shredded Cheese (or Vegan Shreds)

Sliced Black Olives

Paprika to taste

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Cumin to taste

Chili powder to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Cube potatoes and boil in water until they are almost cooked through. Strain and set aside.

Cook your “nacho cheese” and “meat” and set aside.

Once potatoes are strained and mostly dry, put at the bottom of a casserole dish. Add seasonings to your liking. Next pour “nacho cheese” over the potatoes. Then layer the pre-heated and thinned refried beans on top. (You can heat the beans up in the microwave and then add a bit of veggie stock and mix to thin them out) Next, layer the cooked “meat”. On top of the meat, add corn and chili beans. Next, sprinkle with cheese and, lastly, top with sliced olives. Pop in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minuets and serve.

Vegan Nacho Cheese

2 tablespoons vegan butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika powder

ground pepper

1 pinch garlic powder

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 cup veggie stock

Melt “butter” in a non-stick pan on medium heat. Once melted add in all ingredients EXCEPT veggie stock and whisk together. (It will be clumpy) then turn your stove to low heat and mix in the veggie stock, continue stirring with whisk, until nice and smooth. Serve asap.

(if you let the cheese sit it will thicken and will be a little hard to get off the pan.)

PIZZA EMPANADAS:

These are basically mini calzones…Just switching out the dough…

Make an Empanada Dough of your choice. (There are several easy ones if you Google it.)

Stuff with meat (meat alternative), sauce, and cheese (cheese alternatives) of your choice.

You can put just about any filling you like in these.  Ground beef, turkey, shredded beef, pork, even fruits for a yummy dessert.  They are a fun treat and changed up our Pizza Friday!

GUMBOLAYA:

Not quite gumbo and not quite jumbalaya….but as tasty and best served over a heaping spoonful of white Basmati or Jasmine rice.

We made ours without sausage, but I can tell you from past experience, this is one occasion where I almost threw caution to the wind, and added the sausage anyway.  BUT we didn’t – this was seafood only. Don’t get me wrong, it was still incredibly delicious  – just a little twinge of longing for some really good sausage. Of all the meats – I miss pork most.  (wink)

Crock Pot Seafood Gumbo-laya

1/2 onion diced

1 green bell pepper

2 TBS minced garlic

6-8 cups of veggie stock

4 stocks of chopped celery

4-5 diced potatoes

2 1/2 TBS of tomato paste

1 can petite diced tomato

1 TBS paprika

1tsp cumin

1/2 TBS salt

1/2 TBS pepper

1/2 TBS Anthony’s creole seasoning

1-2 bags of uncooked med to large peeled and deveined shrimp

1 bag of scallops

Crab legs/meat

1 TBS flour

4 TBS butter split (Vegan “butter”)

3-4 cups of rice

2 limes

Add all ingredients except shrimp scallops and crab, butter and flour into a crock pot and let cook on low for 5 hours or on high for 3. (If you choose to add sausage it can go in the crock at this point as well.)

Cook your rice. (We use a rice cooker) Once your rice is cooked add the juice of three limes, mix and set aside.

An hour before you are ready to serve, add in the crab.  Then heat 2 TBS of butter on medium heat and put scallops in the pan flat side down. Let them cook for about 2 minuets and flip. If you like you can season them with paprika and salt and pepper. Once scallops are MOSTLY cooked add them (excess butter and all) into the crock pot. Stir and cover. Next do the same with your shrimp but DO NOT cook them all the way. Only cook them until they are about half way cooked all the way through. Sprinkle the flour and (and optional seasoning) into the shrimp and mix well so that the shrimp is coated. Once the shrimp is half way cooked, add to the crock pot. Let it sit for another 30 minutes and then it is ready to serve. The flour coated shrimp will help thicken the stew.  Serve over fragrant rice.

I truly hope you have enjoyed both the shopping challenge and the meal options we have suggested.  Feeding a family on a budget can sometimes be frustrating and can get out of control.  What I hope we have shown is that, if you are a bit more intentional about both your shopping, and meal planning/prepping – you can make significant room in your budget – without sacrificing the joy that a good cooked meal can bring!

Love and Prosperity,

Your GirlFIday

Friday Night Under Five – Stuffed Pasta Shells

Pasta Shells PINTEREST

The Vegan version of these shells are seriously OFF.THE.CHAIN delicious.  I was surprised we had leftovers.  We would not have if my daughter had not made two huge pans (pictured above).  It’s when we have wonderful, filling and flavorful meals like these that I know we can live this (mostly) plant-based lifestyle for the rest of our lives.

If you are new to a plant-based diet or simply trying something new.  My advice is to keep trying new recipes.  Sometimes one person’s take on a recipe is just not a match to your taste-buds.  Make some modifications or try a different recipe.  Expand your horizons.  If you had told me, even just two short years ago, we would be eating a predominantly plant-based diet, I would not have believed you.  It is only because we have been willing to try, to venture outside of our comfort zone – that this has worked. You may just be pleasantly surprised if you give it go.

Pasta Shells (Vegan and Non-Vegan Variation)

1 jar of Marinara or Spaghetti sauce

Ricotta “cheese” (See recipe below) (or a 16 oz. container of part-skim ricotta cheese)

Vegan “meat” crumbles (We prefer Gardein Crumbles) (If using real meat – a pound of ground meat of your choice)

A Bunch of Cooked spinach (You can either chop and boil fresh spinach until just tender or buy a small package of frozen and defrost and heat in the microwave) (A bunch as in a bushel not as in A LOT.)

1/4 finely chopped medium onion

1-2 tsp. Paprika

½ tsp. Salt

¼ tsp. pepper

1-2 tsp. Garlic powder (or minced garlic)

Large shells (you can use jumbo shells or manicotti shells )

Vegan Mozzarella “Cheese” (or Mozzarella Cheese)

Parmesan Cheese (Optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Boil large shells in a large pot with a splash of oil in the water so they don’t stick to the pan.

While water is heating and shells are boiling cook your meat or meat substitute. Add a bit of water to keep it moist and season with salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and 1/4 a chopped onion. Add more seasoning to taste.

Once the “meat” is fully cooked, turn off heat and mix the cooked spinach with the meat. Once all of that is mixed add-on the ricotta. Make sure all three ingredients are fully mixed. (You can add a bit of Parmesan cheese here or a Vegan parm substitute.)

Once your shells are soft drain the water in a strainer and run cold water over the shells until they are cool to touch.

Get a glass pan and spread half the Marinara on the bottom.

To fill the shells a quick hack is to get an extra large zip block bag and cut off one of the bottom corners. (Don’t make it too small or the ricotta mix won’t come out) put the zip block bag with the cut tip down a large cup. Fold the sides of the bag over the cup. Then spoon the ricotta filling into the bag. Once the bag is full you can use just as you would a “frosting bag” and squeeze the filling into each of the shells.

A spoon works well too – just a little messy.

Use your “frosting bag” to fill your jumbo shells with the ricotta stuffing until your pan is full.

Use the remaining marinara sauce to top the jumbo shells then sprinkle some mozzarella over the whole dish. (Optional: sprinkle with additional parm. or parm. Substitute.

Bake for 20 minutes or until heated all the way through.

Serve with green veggies and garlic or hot crusty bread.

 

Ricotta “cheese”

2 cups boiled/ softened raw cashews

3 TBS lemon juice

1 TBS minced garlic

1 TBS maple syrup (you can also use Agave)

1/4 cup non-dairy milk (we use unsweetened almond)

1 1/2 TBS olive oil

1 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. salt

Basil and parsley for taste

Blend till smooth. Be sure to scrape the sides

 

 

Friday Night Under Five – Tex Mex Corn Casserole

Tex-MexCorn Casserole PINTEREST

This was a new recipe for our family recently.  You know how those go. Sometimes putting foods together, in theory, sounds delicious…but the finished product tastes nothing like what you thought it would.  This one, however, is not one of those.  This one is a winner.  Its hearty comfort food, stick to your ribs, make a pig of yourself, delicious.  It is now on permanent rotation in our house. Easy to make, inexpensive and full of good stuff.

Tex-Mex Corn Casserole (Vegan friendly)

4-5 Large Russet Potatoes (Scalloped)

Vegan “Cheese” sauce (see recipe below)***

2 Cans Corn

2 Cans Black beans

1/2 Red Onion

1 Can Green Chilies

1TBS Paprika

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

1tsp. Cumin (or more if you like.  I tend to be generous with the cumin)

¼ Shredded “Cheese” (Vegan Cheddar shreds or dairy, whichever you prefer)

Layer scalloped potatoes at the bottom of a pan and with seasoning. You can scallop your potatoes in a food processor or with a traditional cheese grater.

Mix together corn, black beans, red onion, and green chilies together and then set aside. Pour  all the “cheese” sauce over potatoes evenly. Next layer corn mix. Then layer cheese on top and bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until heated all the way through.

***I would not substitute out a nacho cheese sauce for the “cheese” sauce below.  The consistency, texture and taste will not be right.

 

Easy “Cheese” Sauce

1 Cup Boiled Raw Cashews

1 Cup of Veggie Stock

1/4 Cup of Nutritional Yeast

1 TBS Paprika

1/2 TBS Minced Garlic

Unsweetened Almond milk to thin out of desired

Blend all together in blender or food processor until smooth.

 

Aldi Meal Challenge – Week 3

Aldi Challenge Week 3 (1).png

Are you as excited as I am about week 3 of the Aldi Meal Challenge?  Well, you should be – because I know what’s coming and it’s going to knock your socks off.

This week we tried a couple new recipes – which is always an adventure – but I think there are several keepers.  All inexpensive, full of flavor and good for you.

But the point of this challenge is the keep the budget under control AND eat well…Let’s see how we did.

We did fantastic at ALDI’s this week.  Kept the price tag at $45.20.  Yup!  Almost $20 under the goal.  There were a couple items I had to buy at a different store – but that is only because I needed vegan products.  For the recipes below I will provide options for both.  Either way – your budget should be well under the $75.00 this week.

Aldi Total wk 3

Without further adieu…

Your Dinner…..(I cannot help but say that in the voice of Lumière from Beauty and the Beast)

Meal One:  Vegan Enchiladas **

Meal Two:  Veggie Tacos with Spanish Rice. **

Meal Three: Tex-Mex Potato Corn Casserole (I will be posting a recipe for this dish on Friday – so be sure to check back!) with a green veggie of your choice.

Meal Four:  Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Cole Slaw (We had company so I made a meal with meat.  Hubbs and I had BBQ Jackfruit instead of the pork.  I thought it was delicious.  Hubbs was not a fan.) **

Meal Five:  Calzones and green salad **

Meal Six:  Finger Foods (The grown-ups went out to dinner with our friends who were in from out of town.  A rarity! So, I bought a bunch of finger foods for all the kids.  But, this is not just for kids. We have been known to do this for the whole family on nights we just don’t want to cook.  We put in a movie and make a fun night of it.)

Meal Seven:  Veggie Sandwiches with veggie chips and fresh fruit (You could easily do sub-sandwiches here as well.)

 

Enchiladas.jpg

Vegan Enchiladas: 

Enchiladas are seriously one of the easiest dinners  to prepare.  It’s one dish, filling and feeds a lot of people.

This week we used flour tortillas, but you could use corn if you like.  Also, I add a can of tomato soup to the red enchilada sauce to make the sauce a tad thicker and to tone down some of the spice.

1 large can of red enchilada Sauce

1 can of tomato soup

Meat of your choice (1-pound ground beef or turkey, or 1 bag of Gardein crumbles)

Shredded cheese (or Cheese substitutes)

Spices

12 tortillas (Flour or corn)

Olives (optional)

Mix  enchilada sauce and tomato sauce together.  Put one to two large tablespoons of the sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9 glass baking dish.

Brown the meat.  You can add finely chopped onion and minced garlic here.  I also add, generously, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper to the meat until it is seasoned to my liking. If you’d rather use a taco seasoning packet you can – but it’s loaded with lots of unnecessary junk in it.  (Totally not judging here.)

Take a tortilla and put it in the bottom of the pan to coat the bottom side with the sauce.  Spoon a heaping spoonful of your meat mixture into the tortilla and roll.  Do the same thing with the rest of the tortillas until your tortillas and meat are gone.

Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes until heated all the way through. Top with cheese and sliced black olives during the last few minutes until melted.

Veggie Tacos:

Whether its zucchini and yellow squash roasted, or assorted bell peppers sautéed with onion and garlic in olive oil (or all of the above) , putting a bunch of yummy veggies in a taco is scrumptious.

The trick to Spanish rice is slightly browning the rice in olive oil before adding water.  While its browning, season to taste with chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and salt and pepper to taste.  Pour water over the rice (two cups to every one of rice).  Add a can of tomato sauce and stir.  Dump in a bag of frozen peas and carrots or mixed vegetables. Bring to boil and then cover and reduce to simmer for about 10-15 minutes until rice is tender.

Here is a point of debate in my house.  My husband insists that you must add in Knorr tomato bouillon when you add the water.  I do not because it has chicken stock in it and I think it tastes great without it.  He disagrees.  So, when he makes the rice, he adds it.  And when it’s my turn to make the rice, I leave it out.  Either is fine in my book.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches:

BBQ Pulled Pork

Seasoning a pork roast and letting it crock all day, is about as stress-free a dinner you can have.  You put it on in the morning, leave it and the smell will cause you to do a deep inhale and exhale as soon as your nose hits the door.

For BBQ pork, after it has cooked all day, pull it apart with two forks.  You may need to drain some of the liquid.  Then either mix in or top with your favorite BBQ sauce. ( I prefer mine all mixed in, but that’s up to you.)  Serve on dinner rolls with a little bit of coleslaw….mmmmm…mmmm…good!

Wendy’s Pork and Pepper Sandwiches

Our other family favorite (that sadly I haven’t had since we stopped eating meat) was always a hit at get-togethers.  It’s perfect for a large party or any gathering, really. Or a Sunday when it’s a little chilly out and you’re huddled up on the couch watching the game. That’s just about as perfect a day as you’re ever gonna get.

Put the pork roast in the crock, pour out half the juice of a jar of pepperocini’s and then dump the peppers and the remaining juice over the roast.  The original recipe called for a can of beer to go into the pot, but you can use a cup of water with beef bouillon and it still tastes AMAZEBALLS.  Add pepper and salt (optional) and let cook all day.  It’s done when you can pull it apart with a fork.  Shred with two forks and its ready to go.

Serve on a dinner rolls (or any kind of roll, bun, or crusty bread) with mayo and provolone cheese.  The sauce will drip down your arm and you will not care one bit, because it’s that good.

Calzones:

For Pizza Friday this week, we changed it up and decided to give homemade calzones a try.  Seriously, I have NO IDEA why we did not do this sooner.  They were SO STINKIN” GOOD! I fully made a pig of myself and am not ashamed.

So easy too.  For the pizza crust, there are several options you can try.

  1. Make your own dough by hand or using the dough setting on your bread maker.
  2. Buy dough at the store from the deli (Our local Vons sells it in one of their end caps near the bakery.)
  3. Buy the pop-canisters of dough

This Friday, we intended on making the dough in the bread machine, but the day got away from us, and we ended up using the pop-canisters of pizza dough in the biscuit aisle.  One can will make two large calzones.  The price was a bit more, but still way cheaper than take out.

Roll each portion of dough into a circle, fill one half of the circle with spaghetti sauce, and whatever else you want…cheeses, sundried tomatoes, olives….So many options.

We ended up using Gardein crumbles in spaghetti sauce, with some chopped olive and a tiny bit of vegan cheese slices and herbs…Oh.my.word….It came out to less than $2.00 a calzone.  Not bad for full bellies on a Friday night.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s meal suggestions as much as we did.

If you have any meal ideas or variations to any that I have suggested – I would love to hear them!

Love and Prosperity,

Your Girl.FI.day

Friday Night Under Five – Tangy and a Touch of Sweet Coleslaw

Friday Night Under Five Coleslaw

Tangy and a Touch of Sweet Coleslaw

Several years ago, I decided to make shredded barbecue pork sandwiches.  The recipe called for the pork to be topped with coleslaw.  I HATED coleslaw growing up.  I thought the soupy-milky stuff my grandpa got from KFC (It was still called Kentucky Fried Chicken then) was how coleslaw was supposed to taste.  NO THANK YOU. Blegh.

Well, the picture of the sandwich with the coleslaw looked so pretty and delicious.  I decided to take a stab at the recipe.  I ended up making a few modifications.  I tasted it and was pretty darn proud of myself.  What had I been missing for all these years?  The trick is in the vinegar.  I forget why I used rice vinegar instead of cider now – but it really is the difference. You’ll see.

It’s even Honey Bear (HB for short) approved.  As I was preparing it, I stopped HB as he was walking through the kitchen, and shoved a spoonful in his mouth.  If my husband gives something a thumbs-up – it’s a keeper.  And this received two thumbs way up.  The whole bowl was gone that night.  I think we even made it a couple more times that week.  Even my little ones chow down on this slaw. Have you ever heard of kids liking coleslaw? It’s almost miraculous.

So here it is…it’s pretty simple.  It is delicious on pork sandwiches and type of taco.  I especially like it on fish tacos or sofritas. Its, drip all over your hands while you are eating it, good.

Tangy and a Touch Sweet Coleslaw

(if you use vegan mayo – this can also be a vegan recipe)

1 bag of shredded tri-color coleslaw mix (the package with just the veggies – not the one with the dressing included)

Sauce:

½ to 1 cup mayonnaise (we use a vegan mayo) (I don’t like a whole lot of mayo, so I will start with ½ cup and add more if it needs it.)

salt to taste

black pepper to taste (I am very generous with the black pepper)

1-2 tsp. celery seed (or if celery salt – omit the salt above)

2-3 TBSP rice vinegar

1-2 tsp. sugar (or stevia)

Mix all the sauce ingredients together with a whisk and taste.  Add more seasoning if you like.

Pour sauce over coleslaw and toss to coat.  (If you don’t feel it is creamy enough for your liking you can add a little more mayo here.)

Serve immediately.  (You can refrigerate for a little bit – while you are preparing other dishes, but I would not leave it in for too long so it doesn’t get soggy and wilted.) You want the cabbage to have a little bit of crunch.

I hope you enjoy this one as much as we do.

Love and Prosperity, 

Your GirlFIday