Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The week of awesomeness in May

Last week was probably the busiest week of the year in our home.  Its that way every year.  It begins with Mother's Day, which at times is on the same day as Jefferson's birthday, but if its not then his birthday immediately follows, three days later Dori's birthday and somewhere in there is Dori's birthday party.  

Mother's Day was spent hanging out at home, not doing much, which was AWESOME!  We went for a walk, planted the garden (or was the the week before?) that the animals have already eaten, and just hung out at home in general.  I had sushi for dinner while Jefferson got the girls and himself pizza from Little Caesars.  It was a very nice, relaxing day.

The next day was Jefferson's birthday.  As is tradition, he picked the place for dinner.  He wanted Popeye's.  Myriam and I braved the not so nice part of town to get Popeye's which we had with a number of our friends.  Then it was cake time, a rather large chocolate chip cookie.  Dori gave him a "disappearing Tardis" mug and Ginny gave him a Doctor Who book.  Amelia and I gave him movie tickets.
The 6 year old!
Fast forward three days and you get to Dori's birthday.  She started the day out with pancakes, went to
school, then after I picked Dori up I took the girls to the nail salon.  Again as has become tradition, I take the girls (Amelia hasn't been able to start this yet) and each child gets either their finger nails or toe nails painted on the actual birth day.  It make for really great Mommy/Daughter time and is cheap.  After Jefferson got
home we did presents, which she got two Lego sets (the girl loves her some legos!) and a guitar.  Her restaurant of choice for dinner was Sakura.  We had friends join us there and everyone enjoyed a nice dinner.  Then home for Lemon Buttercream cake and to bed for the girls.

Lemon Buttercream Cake...I"ll try to find the recipe later...

I just think this picture is hilarious!

Parties are expensive.  Period.  After calling around to many party places in the area I was very pleased when she told me she wanted to have it at a park.  We went to Dunncroft Park and everyone had a really good time despite the fact that it had been raining on and off all day.  The kids played, the adults talked and everyone enjoyed themselves.  Her theme was Unicorns and Rainbows.  The kids decorated unicorn horns with stickers, played pin the horn on the unicorn, which Dori drew the unicorn, and we had a pinata.  Of course we had the requisite cake and food.  For food we had pigs in a blanket, taquitos, rainbow fruit, tulip vegetables, Doritos, and strawberry lemonade.  The cake was from Costco, because really, you can't beat the cost of a Costco cake and they're good.  Plus it saved me from having to make a cake from scratch, which seems to always be the thing that throws birthday parties behind for me.  Ok, one of the things, but the main thing.
Rainbow Fruit

Tulip Vegetables
I am back to working 4-815 every night of the week until school gets out.  The good news is that I really like both of the students I'm working with.  The bad news is that I'm not home for dinner or bedtime during the week, which puts a lot on Jefferson and is something I miss.  I try to make casseroles and freeze them or have something simple for dinner so that he doesn't have to do but so much.  Last night we had a Chicken Taco Casserole, which was really good.  Even the kids ate it!  The majority of my recipes are tweaked to what I have or want to add in.  I also get a lot of recipes from the site Six Sisters Stuff.  I have yet to try a recipe from there that was not good.  Their chicken taco recipe follows, with my tweaks below it.

Chicken Taco Casserole
1 (10 oz) bag tortilla chips
2 (10.75 oz) cans cream of chicken soup (I used 98% fat free)
1 1/2 cups sour cream (I used light)
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes and green chilis (Ro-tel)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (1 oz) packet taco seasoning
3 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
2 cups cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9×13-inch pan.
In a large bowl, combine the chicken soup, sour cream, Ro-Tel, black beans, taco seasoning and chicken. Set aside.
Crush chips (I just crush them with my hands) and spread half of them on the bottom of the pan. Spread half of the chicken mixture over the tortillas.  Top with 1 cup of cheese.  Repeat layers.
Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbly and cheese is starting to brown.
Recipe adapted from Plain Chicken
1.  I don't measure out my tortilla chips.  I crush them up and spread them until what I need covered is covered. 
2.  I don't buy Cream of Chicken soup any longer.  I use this recipe.  I buy Better than Bouillon from Costco and keep in the refrigerator.  I honestly don't know if its any cheaper than buying a can but its so much better in so many ways.  
3.  I didn't have any Ro-tel when I first made this recipe, but I had salsa so I used that.  It worked so well I haven't tried the recipe with Ro-tel any time I've made it.  
4.  I don't buy taco seasoning.  I make this recipe.  I make it in a plastic container and store it in the freezer for when I need it.  I think it tastes better and I know exactly what's in it.  
5.  I don't use 3 cups of chicken.  I use two chicken breasts and I cut them up with my salad choppers I bought when I was a Pampered Chef consultant.  
I then put the casseroles together (I make that plural because I split it into two dishes) and freeze them. When Jefferson decides he wants one, he gets it out and cooks it for dinner.  

I will also say, and I'm sure I'll hit on this in future posts, I do almost all of my grocery shopping at Trader Joe's.  If you don't have one near you, I'm sorry.  Its cheaper, the customer service is phenomenal, and I don't have to read labels.  Is everything organic and nothing bad in any of it?  No, but its non-GMO, no HFCS, along with minimal processing.  If you have one near you and haven't been, go check it out.  There are times I can't get everything I need there, but for the most part I can and do.  I'm pickier about my produce so at times I don't get my produce there because its already packaged.  I have found that they sell bags of organic apples and pears where the fruit is small enough for the girls to finish the entire piece in one sitting, which saves so much because they aren't wasting half a piece of fruit.

I'll leave you with a great picture of Amelia.  If you're in a bad mood or want to smile, look at this picture. It will cure your bad mood and make you laugh!  Until next time....

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