Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thrifty Thursday- Mexico on a dime

With two sicks kids this week, I was scrambling to make something for dinner that fit into two categories- cheap and healthy.  Having not planned ahead, I didn't have any meat freshly purchased or thawed so tonight's dinner also fit in with one of my New Year's resolutions: to incorporate a vegetarian dinner into our diets once a week.  Coincidentally, after I made this dinner with these thoughts in mind, I caught an episode of Oprah (so cliche, I know- a housewife watching Oprah!) but it was SO relevant to my current thoughts and truly made me pledge to be more conscious in my food choices.  I really encourage you to check the truth about food .  But I digress- here is the recipe I came up with for Thrifty Thursday.

Baked Black Bean Burritos
I don't know if this technically qualifies as a burrito, but Mexican-inspired dishes are easy to improvise- the ingredients and amounts listed below are simply what I used based on what I had in my cupboard and fridge, and you can adapt according to what you have at your disposal too.  (For example- I used 3/4ths of a green pepper because I HAD 3/4ths of a green pepper, not because I thought a whole pepper would be too much or a 1/2 too little.

2-4 tortillas
1 cup cooked rice (can make ahead; I used brown Minute Rice)
3/4 green pepper
1/2 large onion
3 cloves garlic
1 can black beans
1/2 cup corn
1 can diced tomatoes (like Rotel 10 oz.)

1/2 c. salsa
1/2 c. shredded cheese


2 tsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (start with a sprinkle and add to taste)
dash garlic powder
dash of Lawry's

Chop and saute green pepper, onion, and garlic in 1 T. olive oil over medium-high heat approx five minutes.  Add black beans, corn, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, garlic powder and bring to a boil; reduce heat and sprinkle with red pepper flakes to taste.  Adjust taste as needed (Lawry's, chili powder, etc)  Add rice and cook until heated.

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare a baking dish with nonstick spray and scoop desired portions into tortillas.  If needed, dip toothpicks in water and use to secure tortilla closed.  Spread salsa over tortillas and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese, season with chili powder.  Bake additional 5 minutes and serve with sour cream and cilantro if desired.

We also had a salad to go along with this....I saved a handful of corn and black beans and added that to spinach, romaine, shredded carrots, shredded cheese, onions, and crushed tortilla chips.  Served with a mix of Western and Ranch dressing and it was a great accompaniment.

¡Que sabrosa!  ¿sí?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Birthdays should be celebrated

Tinkerbell will turn 4 in August and I'm sure it will be a fun day filled with friends, family, birthday cake, a few presents, and joyful celebration over the day that she was born.  And that's how it should be.  Birthdays are fun!  For MY kids at least.  But they are not special needs orphans living in the middle of Russia.

I'm sorry to be a Debbie Downer today- it seems there is bad news everywhere we turn, and the daily updates about the earthquake in Haiti are tragic beyond belief.  But I came across this story yesterday from a friend who has a sweet, lovable 4 year old with Downs Syndrome herself, and I felt compelled to pass it on.

Click here to read an unbelievable story, and make sure you watch the Today Show segment .

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Craft with me 1-2-3...Tin Foil Etchings

Running a little short on craft supplies and we are due for a trip to Michael's!  However I pulled together a fun project that Gracie LOVED, and the star of the show was good ol' household tin foil.

Materials: tin foil (heavy duty would work better, but we had the standard stuff), a dull pencil, paint or ink, paintbrush, paper towels, newspaper

Lay out a rather thick pile of newspaper and spread out a piece of tin foil.  Using a dull pencil, draw a picture or design.

Then cover the entire sheet of tin foil with paint.

Next, use a paper towel to wipe off top layer of paint.

After wiping with the paper towel, paint will remain in the etchings and you will get something like this:

Let dry and then post on to construction paper frames, or make into greeting cards, etc.

Tinkerbell decided to make this one a get well card for her friend who is sick with pneumonia.

And to this one Tinkerbell added more color with markers after the paint dried.

We'd love to hear your craft ideas too!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thrifty Thursday- Rosemary Chicken & Potatoes

This week I got a package of chicken thighs for TWO dollars....add a 5lb bag of red potatoes for $2.49 and I had myself the Cheapest Dinner on the Planet.  Not counting some staples that I always have on hand, I estimated this dinner to be $0.65/serving.  Take THAT Ronald McD!!  I dare you to have a 65-cent menu.

4 chicken thighs
quartered or diced potatoes
garlic (or garlic powder)
olive oil
oregano leaves
salt & pepper

After dicing potatoes precook for 5 min in microwave....during that time take the skin off of the chicken thighs (unless you aren't worried about the extra fat!) and quarter onions and chop or mince garlic.  In a large bowl combine chicken, potatoes, onions, garlic and some olive oil (just enough to lightly coat)  Pour into a casserole dish (f you have it squeeze a little lemon juice over the chicken.) Season all of it with rosemary (fresh if you are extra fancy) oregano leaves, course salt & pepper.  Rub the seasonings into the chicken for good measure!  Ovens vary so you are better off using a meat thermometer BUT approx. 40 minutes should be about right.  At the end I poured off the oil/juices and then broiled for 5 minutes.  The potatoes should come out crispy and golden brown, and the chicken should still be juicy!  If you have to, remove the chicken and cook the potatoes longer, then combine it all again for a broil before serving.


Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year, New Me

I love January.  Yes, there is the sadness that comes with the end of the holiday season, and true Mother Nature has gifted us with subzero temps each day of this new year, but with each January comes a new beginning- a fresh slate, a new start, a symbolic do-over for all one's good intentions.  I experience a mini-January ritual virtually every Sunday evening- each Sunday I have a plan in my head for the great things that will take place THIS week, things I will accomplish and things I will do differently THIS week.  So the beginning of a New Week in a New Month in a New Year is brimming with such potential that I am nearly giddy with the confidence that surely this time I will follow through with all the good intentions that- until now- have just been living in my head.

There's nothing wrong with shooting for the moon when it comes to resolutions, goals, To-Do's, whatever you want to call them.  I'll spare you my laundry list of needed self-improvements (as there are a LOT of them!) but one that I can proudly say that I got a jump start on is overcoming my sedentary lifestyle.  I have Jillian Michael's to thank for that, and as of 10:07am I have officially completed Day One of her 30 Day Shred .  Her workouts are 27 minutes including warm-up and cool-down...perfect for naptime and leaving room for a 5 minute shower, 10 minute dress & go, and a quick post-breakfast kitchen sweep.  My goal is to do Jillian's workout every Monday and Wednesday, and to also do Bob Harper's Biggest Loser Yoga  each Tuesday and Thursday.  Quite lofty coming from one who has a spotty exercising resume, but now that it is officially recorded in BloggerLand, all the more incentive to follow through.  Plus I am eager to watch my favorite show on television this season without feeling like a loser of a different kind while I sit idly by and snack on Chili Cheese Fritos.  (Well the snack might still be in hand but the sedentary lifestyle will be absent...)

This morning between sneaking a blog entry in during snack time, and beds stripped and sheets already on the dry cycle, I'm well on my way to a productive new decade.  Now if my angels will just cooperatively engage in educational play for the rest of the day, I can get on to the rest of my list....before you know it I will have cataloged digital photo files, a clean house, a blooming garden, a well-behaved dog and bilingual children.

Happy 2010!