Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cheater Dinners: Tacos

I think it's universal for families to resort to tacos as an easy dinner, so I'll spare you any extra explanation and go straight to the recipes. 

Taco Seasoning
I think I got this recipe out of one of my mom's old cookbooks . . . like a ward cookbook or food storage cookbook or something.  I looooove it.  I almost never use packet taco seasoning because this works great, and I always have the ingredients on hand, where I don't always have a packet. 

2 tsp dry onion
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp dried oregano

Mix and use to season 1 pound ground beef.  (I like to brown the ground beef, then rinse it to remove extra fat, and add a little water, 1/4-1/3 cup or so, back in with the seasoning and cook until the liquid evaporates.  I also usually add refried beans with the water, and cook it together.  It really helps to stretch the meat farther.) 

We've always made soft shell tacos, but recently we've branched out to hard shell. Soft shell is generally easier for little hands. Everyone has their favorite taco ingredients, so I won't elaborate about that.  But here's a tip for kids that are picky about their food "touching:"  Since Isaiah was little we've served our kids their tacos as more of a buffet.  They get a pile of each ingredient on their plate (and for them, preferably sectioned plates), and eat it finger-food style.  The tomatoes, avocados, and other veggies generally get skipped, and the olives are everyone's favorite, but with a little ranch for dipping, everyone tries something. 

Taco Salad
1/2 lb ground beef, cooked and rinsed
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
1 can kidney beans

2 cups shredded lettuce or green salad mix
1/2 cup grated cheese (Cheddar or Colby Jack)
1/3 cup olives
(optional) 1 tomato, seeded and chopped, 1/2 avocado, sliced lengthwise, sour cream

corn chips (you could fry up some tortilla bowls, but the point of this is easy, right?)

Cook ground beef and drain thoroughly, place back in pan.  To the beef, add the water, chili powder, salt, garlic powder, crushed red pepper and kidney beans.  Heat to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for ten minutes or until liquid is absorbed. 

Allow diners to build salad as desired. 

Taco Soup
It doesn't get any easier than this!

1 small onion, diced

1 lb ground beef
1 can red kidney beans, drain and rinse
1 can corn, drain
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 small can sliced olives
1 pkg taco seasoning (or recipe above)
1 cup water

In a medium soup pot, heat a little oil and fry onions for a moment until translucent.  Add ground beef and brown.  Drain.  Add remaining ingredients and heat thoroughly.  Eat with bite-sized corn chips, cheese and sour cream. 

None of these dinners takes more than 20 minutes, unless you decide to add a side of Spanish rice and corn sprinkled with chili powder.  Mmmmm . . .

Monday, July 5, 2010

Two Peas in a Pod

Last week I spent some quality time with my nieces, one of whom is only 6 months older than Max.  She is just about the busiest little girl I've met, and so full of personality.  Max is also a very busy boy, so it was so fun to see her and Max interact throughout the week. 

One morning I sat all the girls (and Max, at his request) down to do their hair.  By the time I finished, the little ones were insisting that their babies needed their hair done, too.  (I decided not to tell them that these babies were, in fact, bald.  Maybe she picked up on that when she insisted, "Baby needs bow!")

I'm amazed that in the whole week we never had an accident with our newly potty trained niece.  In fact, she was very encouraging to Max, as he insisted he needed to potty every time she did:

And though they fought over toys like any toddlers (our most-heard refrain from the week: "Mine!"), they really were inseparable, even cleaning each other up:

We are so lucky to have their family so close, and that the kids are so close in age!  It really is a joy to see them interact and love each other so much. 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Rock Star Party

So I'm about three weeks past the event, but Isaiah did turn 7! He requested a "Kidz Bop party" which I translated to mean a rock star party. We sent out backstage passes as invites (sorry no pics . . . they were not my favorite invitations ever anyway, but it was a cute idea in theory). Isaiah and Katie prepared by puff painting some shirts and spray painting their hair wild colors. Then we decorated to the hilt. Isaiah is lucky to have some really awesome uncles. They pulled some strings and we had a mirror ball and all kinds of lights, a fog machine, and an amp with a microphone. I hung silver stars on the walls and a metallic fringe curtain over the archway. We put on Kidz Bop and the kids danced while all the VIPs arrived. (Keep in mind that I am no pro photographer, so pictures in the dark require a flash.  The room was dark at the time, with lights flashing just like a disco, so these pictures really don't do it justice . . .)

Then the kids decorated cardboard guitars with markers and stickers:

And they rocked out some more with their guitars:

Then Isaiah opened some presents:

We had some cake:

Then we threw out some glow bracelets as the kids rocked out some more.  The rock stars were kind enough to pose for a shot together:

Then we handed out party bags as their drivers came to wisk them away to their next gig:

All in all, a successful party as everyone seemed to have fun, and it was relatively low-stress for the stage managers (aka Mom and Dad).  Most of all, our resident rock star got the party he wanted and had a great time.