Meatless Monday: Fiesta Bowl

Let’s discuss my weird obsession with Mexican food. I feel like I’m always craving it and it’s easily adjustable for meatless Monday’s. Maybe it’s my love for rice and avocados, but any time I look for a new recipe, it’s usually what I find.

After a busy day yesterday and a swollen ankle (I hurt it a few weeks ago and it hasn’t gotten any better, actually it’s been worse this last week), I knew I wanted to try something quick and easy. Usually I go to recipes I’ve made before, but last night I was feeling inspired.

A quick look on Pinterest led me to a crunchwrap recipe. Mila and I both LOVE crunchwraps when we go to Taco Bell. I figured I’d give it a go… how hard could it be?

I got all my ingredients ready and even spiced up the rice. Everything was tasting and looking amazing. Let’s just say, I was feeling proud of myself. Until, I got to the wrap and folding part of the meal. Then it all went bad.

Okay. I’m just going to be very blunt, I failed miserable. For about ten minutes, I tried different ways to wrap it. Each time, everything in the middle would fall out making more and more disappointed. After twenty different tries to keep it all together, I gave up. I tasted everything and realized it was all good. Maybe I didn’t need a wrap… so I created what is now known in our family… The Fiesta Bowl.

Since COVID has been here, I’ve realized I’m just amazing at gathering ingredients, seasoning them, and throwing them in a bowl.

The Fiesta Bowl:

Ingredients:

  • One can of black beans
  • One tomato (I used Roma because it’s what I had in hand
  • 1 medium green peppee
  • 1 medium avocado
  • Mexican shredded cheese
  • Sour cream (optional)
  • Avocado ranch (optional)
  • Seasoned brown rice (spices used: salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, oregano)

It’s a pretty simple recipe and standard ingredients I use all the time. As you can tell if you’ve looked at some of the things I’ve posted. The spices in the rice were amazing. They completely changed the taste of the almost crunchwrap. Unfortunately I didn’t have cumin, but I’m actually glad I didn’t because it tasted so good. The fresh vegetables were refreshing and we have leftovers for lunch!

The longest part was cooking the rice (and figuring out I couldn’t fold tortillas), but it was easy for me with Mila and Max running around. After it was all thrown together in the bowl, I realized I needed to name it something fun after the craziness. Plus, it did really taste like a fiesta in my mouth too.

Another positive with this recipe and really these ingredients in general is Mila loves it and I know a lot of other toddlers who approve too.

Meatless Monday: Spanish Rice

This is a tiny bit of false advertisement. I’m going to give you two recipes because when I made my Spanish Rice, I also added some chicken thighs with it too. It tasted amazing! Mila loved it as well.

So Mila and I LOVE different types of food. Last week, with Cinco de Mayo, we made different Mexican food and this Spanish Rice dish. I will admit, we did order out for Cinco de Mayo, which was…. interesting to say the least. Turns out, you should call waaaaay beforehand when ordering Mexican on Cinco de Mayo, during a worldwide pandemic. Who would’ve known?

Anyways, so this recipe was given to me a couple weeks ago and I figured I’d try it. I love recipes that are easy to make and that are tasty. It’s something I could throw together and walk away from while attending Mila’s daily dinner crisis. This recipe would have worked great without the chicken thighs I added, they needed cooked, so don’t blame me. I also added black beans, which could have just been the protein for the meal. Without going on forever, here’s the recipes.

Without me chatting too much, here’s the good stuff…

Spanish Rice Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes and chilies
  • 2 tapblespoons of taco seasoning mix
  • Shredded cheese (optional)
  • 1 avocados (optional)
  • 1 can of black beans (optional

Combine rice, water, tomatoes, and taco seasoning in a large saucepan or pot (like I did). Bring it to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low and cover, simmering for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let it stand for 5 minutes. If you’re adding beans to your rice, I’d do it before the 5 minute warning so they can get nice and heated up. Fluff the rice up with a fork and add in your extras if you choose so. If not, enjoy as is!

Taco Chicken Thighs:

  • 3 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless (use as many as you need and adjust accordingly, this is what I had left)
  • Olive oil (I didn’t measure. I’ve never claimed to be a top chef, guys!)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Taco Seasoning Packet (what you didn’t use with the Spanish Rice)

Preheat your oven to 400. While it’s preheating, rinse your chicken thighs and pat them dry. Once they’re dried throw them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper, and the taco seasoning. Make sure there’s seasoning covering the thighs and place them on a baking sheet. Once the oven is preheated, cook them for about 20-25 minutes. Once they’re done, you could shred them or cut them in strips. I did the latter, which was amazing for us.

This really is a quick and simple recipe you can make if you’re busy. Just set timers for everything and it’ll cook itself, really. Mila really enjoyed the chicken thighs (it’s not fun to convince her to eat chicken breasts) and rice is one of her favorite meals. Yes, rice is considered a meal for Mila. Some days are just a win when she’ll eat anything. It’s a toddler world and I’m just living in it.

So, although I didn’t completely go meatless for this meatless Monday recipe, there’s a lot of options to take the core of this meal and make it a meatless one.

Quick and Easy Mother’s Day DIYs.

Scrambling to quickly get a gift together for Mother’s Day? You’ve came to the right post.

For the last week, I’ve been looking around the house to see what Mila and I can up-cycle and make for Mother’s Day gifts. All of these items can be found at home or a quick trip to any store really. Mila helped me with all of these projects and some of them (you’ll be able to see) I worked on a little extra too. If you have older kids, they’ll definitely be able to help out more!

Seed Bombs

When I think of Mother’s Day, I think about flowers. I know a lot of people love planting this time of year and I wanted to combine that with something Mila loves, getting dirty. This recipe was in this month’s Mommy and Me Art Box.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/3 cup of water
  • 2 cups of soil
  • 2 packets of flower

Mix the dirt, flower, and water up until you get a sticky concoction. Once it starts sticking to the spoon and forming together, add the two packets of seeds too. Mix them evenly in the mixture. Then either use cookie cutter to form shapes or make little balls. Let them dry out. She recommended two days, but I think mine were pretty good after a day!

Mila LOVED sticking her hand to help me mix it. She also enjoyed forming the shapes we did. It’s toddler friendly, but she needed a little more guidance than an older child. As with anything, right?

I packaged mine in tissue paper to give to my family. They’ll just need to put them in their flower garden or pots and water like normal.

Another suggestion if your child is going to see their grandma or other mother figure is to bring these ingredients and make them with each other.

Coffee and Coconut Body Scrub

What’s more pampering than body scrub? And you probably have everything needed to make it in your house, right now.

What you need…

  • 1 cup of coffee grounds
  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional, but smells amazing)

Mix the ingredients all together and once its blended evenly (sort of liked crushed Oreos) put them in a jar! Yes, it’s that easy.

To use this scrub, I’ve used it in the shower. Just get enough to scrub on whatever body part and rinse off with warm water. Your skin will feel so much softer. I’ve read online (but I’m not a scientist or anything), that coffee helps tighten the skin. If anything, it makes your skin feel softer and it smells amazing.

I loved making this with Mila because if it got outside the bowl, it wasn’t a big deal. Plus, I feel like kids connect so much when they can cook with you. She loves putting the ingredients in the bowl and stirring. It was also funny to watch her smell it and have to persuade her not to eat anything!

Tin Can Vases

This is probably the easiest one on the list and it came out SO cute.

All I used was a can I washed out and scrap material. My material was the cover/bag that a sheet set came in. You could use an old shirt or any fabric that you’re wanting to throw away to give it a second life. Just measure how long the fabric needs to be to tie it around and then knot or bow it.

The opportunities on how you do this is endless. I love the way these two came out and am so glad I made them. Once I get another big can, I’ll definitely be making one for myself!

For this project, Mila didn’t technically help with the finished project. Since I was using scissors, I had her practice cutting with her kid’s scissors. She cut a few things then wanted to run around, which gave me time to finish them. This would be a nice project for older kids.

This little vase could be used to store lots of things or fill it up with handpicked flowers or handmade ones…

Bouquet of ‘Flowers’

If you’re scrambling or can’t find any flowers at the store or wherever, handmade flowers are so fun to make with your kids. Mila loves to paint and draw, so it’s a good fit for our little family. You can use different techniques or even have your older child cut flowers out, but I specifically did things age appropriate for Mila.

Fork Flowers– For these little flowers, I had four different paints in little bowls. Mila used a fork (one for each color) as a paint brush. It was different for Mila to use the fork, but she seemed to think it was interesting. She played around with it for about fifteen minutes. I haven’t done this yet, but I’m going to cut little parts of the painting and glue it to pipe cleaners.

Plastic Bottle Flowers– First, I preheated the oven to 250 before I even showed Mila how to color these. There’s so many times I forget to preheat and it takes me so much longer. Then, I used some plastic bottles that were waiting to be recycled and cut the bottoms off. I had Mila use permanent markers to color them. When she was finished, I cut ‘petals’ (slits) and put them on a baking sheet. After, I threw them in the oven to bake for a little while. Honestly, I forgot they were in there and put Mila down for a nap… oops. They didn’t melt and I think they turned out really cute. I’ll either glue these on craft sticks or pipe cleaners to put in the bouquet too.

Mila also wanted to paint her hand, so we’ll use one of these as flowers as well. To fill up the bouquet, you could help draw flowers with your child or even make some out of pipe cleaners. Either way, this will be the cutest bouquet your loved one will get.

Watercolor Cards

This one was a lot of fun to do. I love making handmade cards for people. It just shows so much personality and just that extra little touch.

Mila painted these cards a few days ago. It was a salt technique too, which made the prints seem to have glitter on them. While she napped, I got creative and made more flowers. On the back, I’ll write a little message and have Mila ‘sign’ it too. The opportunities are endless with these and they can be as elaborate as you’d like them to be!

I hope you like these little DIYs. They’re not exclusively for Mother’s Day either! If you decide to do any of them, I’d love see your pictures!

Meatless Monday: Tomato and Mozzarella Grilled Cheese

Another week in isolation means another recipe I’m going to share.

I’ve been low-key obsessed with grilled cheese lately. It’s to the point where different cheeses aren’t even cutting it. In my head, I’ve been coming up with different ingredients to add in my routine quarantine grilled cheese. Sure, there’s probably a recipe like this on Pinterest, but this time… it’s all me (totally hyping myself up at this moment).

Without making my head too big, enjoy this quick, easy, and delicious recipe that I know you’ll love too.

Tomato and Mozzarella Grilled Cheese

Ingredients for two sandwiches:

  • Roma Tomato (2)
  • Fresh Mozzarella
  • Bread (4 slices)
  • Butter
  • Italian Seasoning (to taste)
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)
  • Balsamic Vinegar (Optional, but highly recommended)

First things first heat up the pan you’re using while cutting up your mozzarella and tomatoes. I made two sandwiches and used two tomatoes and one ball of fresh mozzarella. Salt and pepper the tomato and cheese for extra taste. Butter one side of each piece of bread (normal with any grilled cheese, obviously right?). To elevate this sandwich, put Italian seasoning on the butter side. That way the flavor sticks to the bread and butter. It just seeps into the bread and might be one of the best parts. Place your bread, butter side down on your pan, and layer your cheese and tomatoes too. I did like three little layers: mozzarella, tomato, mozzarella. It stacked up a little high, but after the first flip, I smashed it down a little bit to make it more manageable. At this point, I did think there might be a melting issue, so I turned my oven on 350 F and took out a baking sheet. After the other piece of bread was grilled, I personally didn’t think my cheese was melted enough, so I popped it into the oven for about five minutes until I thought it was melted to my liking. This is a total preference though, but I felt like it made my sandwich way better. After, I diagonally cut my sandwich and drizzled balsamic vinegar over it.

Mila and I ate these way too fast. She’s not a huge bread person, but she made sure to eat her fair share of tomatoes, cheese, and all the balsamic drizzle. We will definitely make this again in the future and I’m planning on trying it with shredded mozzarella cheese. BUT, I’m going to play around with another grilled cheese recipe in the next few days. Think a little spicier, but (hopefully) just as yummy!

I hope you’re able to try this recipe! I’m so proud of how it turned out and was excited to share it with you guys. Before my next grilled cheese recipe comes out, I have another recipe that I didn’t make meatless, but is adaptable to be meatless. So I’ll be sharing that this coming week. Anyways, let me know if you tried to make this and how you liked it!

At the beginning…

At the beginning,⁣
darkness was ever present. ⁣
Then, he showed me light. ⁣

It’s the start of a new month and with May brings a lot of different things. One, that I’ve tried to do since Jensen has been born, is May We All Heal.

Usually I end up starting strong, then something pops up and I get off track. Since we’re stuck at home, I’m hoping to be creative each day and maybe even have Mila join in.

Today, I wrote a haiku. I’m not the best at poetry, but I felt like this poem spoke to my heart. Losing Jensen was the hardest moment of my life and the grief after has been life changing. It was all darkness, but slowly, he’s led me to healing and becoming stronger through love.

I’ll forever be grateful for him.

Mommy and Me Art Box: Mila’s First Chemical Reaction

Mila’s second Mommy and Me Art Box came in and it definitely did not disappoint. Yesterday it let Mila become a scientist. Let’s just say, she loved it.

This month’s box is centered around Mother’s and Father’s Day. There are a lot of crafts to make for them. One of them is an item I’ve never worked with, so I’ll have to update how that goes. There was also one science experiment that we had to try right away.

Like last month’s box, every activity comes packaged separately and is color coded AND it included everything you need. It’s so nice because I can just pull out whatever activity and get right to work. I like how everything’s labeled on the little directions and the items too.

With this experiment, Mila was able to get things in place too. As I opened everything, she placed candy pieces in the candy mold. Some pieces might have disappeared too.

This is a little baking soda and vinegar experiment; the candies color the bubbles. Although most of us know what happens when these two mix, Mila had no idea.

At first she was shocked that the liquid she was putting on there was making it fizz. She kept saying woah and wanting more. After the first round of baking soda and vinegar, I asked her to help me sprinkle more on there. It sort of got a little messy, but we had fun. Seeing her reactions were priceless, especially when she accidentally dumped vinegar all over the mold.

In all, we played with this activity for thirty minutes… which was when we ran out of baking soda and vinegar. If I would have had more outside, she would have easily played for longer. I can definitely see us doing this again too! A little side note though, if you include candies in your experiment, there’s a huge chance they’ll be a snack.

Mila nabbed all the candy hearts… I’m unsure what vinegar and candy tastes like and wouldn’t eat it myself, but Mila didn’t mind. I guess that’s what being two is all about.

Again, this is the Mommy and Me Art Box! We’re on month two and LOVE all the activities and can’t wait to see how the rest go.

Capturing a ‘Last’ Moment.

She smelled like a baby today.

Any parent knows that smell. You don’t even know what it means until it’s truly gone. I remember everyone telling me she smelled so good and I’d think, ‘obviously, I bathe her.’ Then when it went away, I knew what they were talking about.

And today I got it back.

Somehow the smell fought through her hands and face covered with Cookie Crisp cereal. It overpowered the candles burning and the flowers on our dining room table. I don’t know how it pierced through the after smells of lunch, but there it was.

Maybe it was because she napped on me on the couch like she did when she was itty bitty. Maybe it’s because you never notice the last time you’ll experience something, but I know this moment was it.

This is the last time my Mila will ever smell like a little baby. It was only for a few moments, but it’s all I needed.

It’s a bittersweet symphony of being happy she’s growing, thriving even, and a sweeping melancholy for knowing she’ll never be this little again.

So for the rest of the day, I’m just going to keep her close. We’re living today in a mix of crazy toddlerhood and sleepy infancy. It’s not going to be long until it’s full out toddlerhood and into independent childhood. I know I say this a lot… but I’m really going to miss these moments.

Toddler Activity: DIY Bird Feeders

Mila has been ultra curious about birds lately. When we wake up in the morning, she hears them singing and remembers that birds sing to us. She makes the cutest face every time she hears them. The downside is… she thinks all the birds are her friends and she wants to hold them. NOPE! If she sees them in the yard, she’ll chase after them. It’s hysterical.

Sometimes, we don’t get a lot of birds that fly on our tree or around our yard. It probably has a lot to do with the two year old that chases them and the big dog that’s never far behind. With Earth Day almost here (tomorrow), I figured out a way I could combine Mila’s new love for birds and an activity to teach her how to help them… DIY bird feeders.

I took my memory way back to elementary school when I first made one of these. Fortunately, I had recently purchased birdseed, so I had all the supplies at home too. As with anything, you can substitute these items with something better you have at home. It’s whatever is best for you and your child. I probably should have researched using something other than peanut butter. I’m allergic to it, but not severely. Mila loves it, which is why I keep it at home.

Supplies:

  • Toilet Paper Rolls
  • Bird Seed
  • Peanut Butter
  • String
  • Scissors
  • Hole Punch
  • Knife (or spoon)
  • Baking Sheet (or something flat to roll bird seed on)

To make the bird feeder, it’s pretty easy. First, I poured birdseed all across the baking sheet. I did this first because I didn’t want to be stuck with sticky peanut butter all over my hand, then try not to mix the two. Next, I hole punched two holes in the toilet paper roll so I could easily put the string on it. You could also just put it all the way through. After, I spread peanut butter all over the toilet paper roll. This can be a little messy. Then, it’s rolling time. I just made sure to get an even amount of birdseed around the roll. For some parts, I had to push down with a little pressure to make sure it stayed. When I was done, I sat them up so the peanut butter could dry a little. After it’s dried, it’s time to tie the string on the holes. Then you’re finished and can find the perfect place on your tree.

Obviously, this is a lot of steps for a two year old. I will say, Mila did try every step, besides cutting, tying, and hanging. The first roll we did together, she helped me put the peanut butter on the roll and enjoyed rolling the bird seed on. When I went to get the third one, the peanut butter was a little distracting for her. I’m unsure who got more peanut butter… the birds or Mila.

She ended up helping me roll birdseed on the last two, but thought managing and watching me was much more fun. I guess she’s a pretty cute boss.

We found spots in our tree where birds could sit on a branch and easily reach the feeder. With this activity, we were able to recycle the toilet paper rolls and help fees our local birds.

Mila definitely understood that the birds would come eat at our tree. She kept watching for them, but ended up chasing them off. One day, she’ll realize she can admire their beauty from afar. For now, she’ll keep running and stealing their peanut butter.

Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Quesadillas

There’s been two things I’ve learned about myself since the COVID lockdown: I love to cook and I’m a terrible food photographer.

Some days I make these amazing recipes and try to document along the way. Then when I’m done and have already ate, I realize the pictures I’ve taken are awful. It happens and it’s life, but today you’ll be getting badly taken pictures of food and a yummy recipe.

Normally on meatless Monday’s, Mila and I fail on the breakfast part. She loves sausage and eggs, but this morning we had raspberry yogurt and Cheerios on the trampoline. I felt pretty confident tackling the rest of today’s food choices.

After a while of playing outside, we came inside to eat. As you all know, I’ve been obsessed with Pinterest lately so I followed this recipe.

The ingredients I used:

  • Sweet Potato
  • Canned Black Beans
  • Corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Avocado
  • Queso
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Tortillas

A lot of these items can be substituted. Or if you like all the main ingredients and want to make nachos or a burrito bowl, that would be really good too. We normally eat a lot of rice or quinoa, so it was a good change of pace for us.

I followed the recipe as close as I could. Instead of flipping the tortilla over on itself, I just put another one on top. It sort of looked like a Mexican pizza that Taco Bell sells. I still let each side go on the pan to make the cheese melt and get perfectly gooey. It didn’t take long to make or eat. Mila even loved it!

I dipped my pieces in salsa and sour cream. She preferred ranch. Both tasted great.

This meal could definitely be made for dinner. It’s filling and makes you feel warm. We love to go out for Mexican, but since we can’t go right now or if in the future we’d rather just stay home, I’d make this meal again.

I have no idea what’s for dinner, but fingers crossed I can keep our Meatless Monday going.