Monday, March 12, 2012

Freezer Meal #1 - Tacos!

Today for supper we ate the first meal out of the freezer. It was a hit! J said he would never have known it had been frozen. IE usually refuses to eat leftovers, but he ate it up..I do not think he realized it WAS leftovers!

It is actually a really simple recipe. I am not sure where it came from, I have just made them this way as long as I can remember. This recipe will make enough for 2x for a family of 4-6 (depending on how much your family eats at a ti,e).

Yummy Freezer Tacos

2 pounds lean ground beef
4 TBSP of taco seasoning (I mix Ortega and Old El Paso..or sometimes make my own via this recipe
1 to 1 1/2 cups of water depending on how wet you like your taco meat

Brown and drain the meat
Add the seasoning and stir well
Add the water and bring to a slow boil
Decrease heat and simmer for 5 minutes

I serve it taco salad style with salsa, spinach, pinto beans, Tostitos baked scoops, and shredded cheddar cheese

What you freeze - Let cool to room temperature. Put in a freezer safe Ziploc bag and lie flat to freeze. It should keep for 3 weeks. (I am not sure how long it would hold flavor past that..but I read somewhere that 3 weeks was good for tacos.

*Note, whenever it is my recipe I will share it. If it is a friend's or out of a book, I will not. I will refer you to the book though. If it comes from a website, I will do what I did above and reference you to it.

C's Nashville Adventure...

The day started at 3AM. We got up, got dressed, and got in the car by 4AM. We had to stop for gas (because I forgot to fill up the tank the day before). By 430AM wew were on the interstate. I have never driven in such little traffic, it was just us and a couple of truckers for a very long time. Funny thing is, there seemed to be more east bound traffic than west bound..but of course it could have just seemed that way since I was meeting that traffic rather than being in it.

We had breakfast via the drive thru at the CFA in Mount Juliet. C loves CFA!

We got to the hospital about 30 minutes before the appointment, but the doctor took us back a little early. She asked me questions and had C do some things and determined right away she is not autistic nor ADHD (which I knew already). She gave her a diagnosis of Childhood Apraxia of Speech We have expected this for quite a while, but it is nice to get the diagnosis. Now we can start working on making the insurance pay for the therapy she needs in order to be able to talk. She really wants to talk, she is just not able to get the words out. We are hoping therapy will help with this.

We then got back in the van to come home. We ate lunch at Zaxby's in Lebanon. It was okay..I usually expect better food from a Zaxby's, but I guess everywhere has off days. One more pit stop in Crossville for a potty/stretch break..and then we were home!

C enjoyed her alone day with Mommy..she was not ready to have to share Mommy with bro and sis when we got home!

J survived his day alone with IE (S was at school)!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Day at the Park

Last week all 3 kids were in a really good mood, so we went to a park in our city. It is a new park and it is very nice. It even has a concrete circle around the play area so the kids can ride scooters and bikes. There is a water splash pad too, but of course since it is March, it is not open. I think it opens Memorial Day weekend. For my green friends, it is also a green park. The padding under the play area is recycled tires. The pavilions are powered by solar energy. I am not sure how the water is done, but I know it does stop every little bit to conserve some water. (But hey, it is fun for the kids)

After we ate, we went to a pizza place and had pizza.

Here IE and C are on the little crawl ladder thing. C was using her arms mostly to pull her up it. We were close by and it is not as high as it looks. If they had fallen, they would not have gotten hurt.

S at the top of the walk climbing wall...I am guessing it is about 6-7 feet high.

OK, so maybe this should have been before the last one. S climbing up the wall.

Side view of S climbing the wall.

C climbing some stairs. This is VERY big for us. Until just a couple of months ago she was unable to climb stairs at all. She is still not good at it, and she scares me at times, but I have to let her.

Sisters...S was hugging C. C was not so sure about this. I think she was remembering that S likes to take the iPad away from her. I think she was still a little mad about that.

C by herself on the circle ladder. As you can see her leg can touch the ground and she is very little, so it is not high. She was having some trouble with this, but like I said, I have to let her try. She is still falling some, but I have to let her try and move around more. I do not want to hold her back.

IE on his "bike". He loves nothing more than going around in circles, so this is ideal for him. He usually HATES getting his picture made, but he was in a good mood and humored me that day. I love days like that. They give me insight into him that he normally does not let people see.

IE at the top of the slide.

IE at the top of the bridge.

S on the swings.

IE close up on his bike. You can see on his forehead where he fell and got into a fight with a chair. The chair won. It looked so much better that day then it did a couple of days before.

C trying the bike. She can't do it and gets frustrated. Eventually she just started kind of scooting it along.

J on the swings with IE and C. I was surprised C could stay in the swing, but then OT and PT have been working with her on things like that so it proves there is value in therapy!

S on slide..I love this picture!

What J does when we eat out - gets on his phone...

S being silly

Monkey see..Monkey Do...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sneaking Veggies into "Yummy" Food

My kids are not very good about eating their veggies anymore. For a long time I had them convinced fruit was candy and veggies were yummy. Then S went to school and it all changed. I still try to get them to eat healthy but time and sheer exhaustion win sometimes and they get to eat not so healthy stuff. Lately, however, I have been trying to "sneak" veggies (especially the green ones) into their foods. One of their favorite things I make is meatballs. They love them. S especially cannot get enough of them. They are her #1 request! I am going to share the recipe for how I do it. It is pretty much my own recipe, just inspired by various recipes I have seen over the years, but tweeked to my families tastes.

The recipe I am sharing is a large recipe. It is enough for 60-70 good sized meatballs (more if you make tiny ones - if you do make them tiny be sure to adjust the cooking times though). I usually serve 1/3 - 1/2 of the recipe and freeze the rest to use later. (I have also included instructions for freezing.)

Here it is! Let me know if you try it!

Sneaky Meatballs

This will make about 60-70 meatballs

1 pound Italian sausage

2 pounds lean ground beef

4 eggs

2 cups Italian breadcrumbs (I like the Progresso ones)

2 cups tomato sauce

1 ½ cups grated parmesan

2 cups shredded Italian cheeses blend

½ to 1 cup of very finely chopped spinach

½ to 1 cup very finely chopped broccoli

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in an electric mixer and blend them together well. (You can add just a couple of ingredients at a time to help the machine be able to blend easier. )

Use an ice cream scooper to help form the balls. Place them about a ½ inch apart on parchment paper on a cookie tray.

If you are baking now, bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until cooked all the way through.

Add your favorite sauce and heat till sauce is warmed in a pot on top of the stove. (Medium heat is best)

Add noodles, bread, rice, or whatever you want to do with the meatballs

If freezing – place cookie sheet uncovered flat in a freezer. Let freeze for 1-2 hours. Take the meatballs off the cookie sheet and place them in a freezer safe ziplock type baggie. Keep for up to 3 months in the freezer. When it is time to cook them, take them out and place them frozen on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until heated through.

*Note – if you want to make this healthier, you can substitute ground turkey for the beef and or sausage.*

I suggest the use of parchment paper because the meatballs tend to stick to the pan.