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!

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.

Toddler Approved Easter Egg Lunch.

Happy Monday everyone!

Mila and I had such a great Easter Day. When she woke up, she immediately asked for ‘bun bun’ and wanted to find her basket. She absolutely LOVED all her gifts, especially the chocolate, and we just had a fun day. I was surprised how much she loved the Easter egg hunt. After the initial one, I had to hide eggs three more times.

Honestly, it was so different than any other holiday, but I loved it. I’ll just spam you with some pictures here instead of making a post later today.

Seriously, such a great day., with the most random pictures ever.

With Easter, well in my house, comes all the hard boiled eggs. For lunch today, I was just staring in my fridge wondering what I could make with them. As usual, I went on Pinterest and found some inspiration.

I saw these little hard boiled egg sandwiches, that I thought would be perfect. Mila isn’t huge on bread for sandwiches or anything. When she eats, it’ll be like random slices of cheese and cuts of turkey and ham. I knew she was really enjoying hard boiled eggs yesterday for breakfast and knew I could put other things on there she’d like.

In my fridge, I found bacon, tomatoes, and avocados. Better known as a recipe for success. I fried the bacon, cut everything up, and built our little sandwiches. I only cut up two eggs, but should’ve done way more.

Of course, I added cheese and different seasonings. I feel like I always use salt, pepper, and paprika.

Turns out, Mila liked the mini sandwiches more than I could imagine. I only got to eat one of them and she mauled the others. Surprisingly, she didn’t even share with Max!

It’s a simple lunch recipe you can make with your left over eggs. The longest part of it was making the bacon and if you didn’t have bacon, it’d still be good with left over ham or turkey from Easter or whatever lunch meat you had in your fridge.

So serious about keeping her food to herself.

We have about four eggs left, so I’ll probably try to come up with something new to do for dinner or lunch tomorrow. If you have any recipes, send them my way!

Tomorrow is Mila’s second birthday! I’m feeling pretty emotional about it, but I know it’s going to be a great day. I can’t wait for everyone to see what we have planned.

If you try the egg sandwiches, let me know. I loved hearing everyone’s go with the French onion grilled cheese!

Toddler Activity: Easter Watercolor Cards

Hello again today! I’m actually surprised I’ve had time to write twice today and get everything that I’ve gotten done, done.

SO the title of this post is a little deceiving. Mila didn’t actually make this completely by herself. I did the cutting, taping, and lettering. She did the painting part and then went to play. If she was a little older, like preschool age, I think she would have been able to do a lot more. The cutting is a little advanced, but I love perfectly imperfect crafts made by kids.

This was her first time experimenting with watercolor. She loves to paint, but usually uses craft paint. I was pretty impressed with how she did with the extra steps. She kept wanting to put her brush in the water, then paint, then back to the water. I ended up painting with her to show her how it went. For some reason, she was feeling the cool colors.

While she was off playing, I traced a bunny onto the paper. I used the same bunny outline as the one she did in her painting a few days ago. Then, I taped it on the back of Kraft paper and that onto random scrapbook paper too.

I took scrap white paper and taped it on the scrap paper to write on it as well.

This card turned out so cute. I actually am going to make myself one tonight, without the writing, to just have a keepsake for the year. If you find yourself missing family or have some free time tomorrow, this is a fun, easy craft that can be made adapted to any age.

It would be nice to send to relatives if you can’t see them tomorrow. Maybe I should’ve posted this earlier, but there’s always next year!

Again, wishing you all a happy and safe Easter Day.

My Toddler Stay Up Past Her Bedtime… This Is What Happened.

Toddlers and bedtimes, don’t really mix. They put it off and find any excuse they can to stay up just five more minutes. It can be so frustrating when they don’t sleep. For some of us, it’s our only alone time during the day. It’s the time we need to stay sane, especially being cooped up inside all day.

Last night, I let Mila stay up way past her bedtime. It wasn’t even the ‘let’s just go lay down’ stay up. She was cleaned up and in her pajamas. We put all her toys away and put the unfolded laundry she threw around today back in the basket. When all of that was done, I asked her if she was ready for bed, which she simply replied, “no.”

I just looked at her and she was so sure of her answer that I complied.

Did I need a break last night? Absolutely. We had a full day and I was mentally exhausted. I needed to continue writing my final papers and fold all the laundry and everything else that had to be cleaned up before the start of today. And just because it’s good for your mental health to have time for yourself.

But her big eyes just stared into mine as she waited for my response. I surprised her with my answer… I asked her what movie she wanted to watch. She finally decided on the live-action Lady and the Tramp, thank you Disney+. I turned it on, she climbed up on the couch, while I went to get snacks… pretzels and Nutella. Both of our favorite snacks, except she’d just prefer to take a big spoon and eat all the Nutella. Somehow she gets it all over her face no matter what; can’t say I blame her though.

Pinky out, of course.

Guess what happened next?

We enjoyed the movie, laughed together, and snuggled. I noticed her new words that she picked up and how she is starting to put together more complex sentences. She watched my expressions during certain parts of the movie and mimicked them. When there were sad parts, I saw how she reacted and during the funny parts, I think anyone would smile if they heard the sweet sound of her laugh. When the movie was over, I gave her a drink of water, told her to brush her teeth, and that it was time for bed.

There wasn’t any fight or pouting. She did what I asked of her and was asleep within five or ten minutes. When I went to get up, she didn’t even flinch.

Did I get as much time to myself as I wanted? No, but what I experienced was so much better.

It’s hard being a mom. Sometimes I can get so in the moment of feeling lost or overwhelmed that I don’t realize what the moment is actually about. I got to focus just on Mila and, I guess, the movie, but mainly on her. She got my undivided attention without a craft in front of us or at dinner or any agenda. It was just her and I in our magical moment. I get ahead of myself, a lot, and just being right there with nothing else on my mind was so relaxing. I’ll never get tonight back, but I’m thankful for the way I spent it.

Will her staying up later (on purpose) be an everything occurrence, probably not. She gets grumpy and so do I. Again, we need our time apart because we spend all day, everyday together… not that I’d have it any other way.

What I did learn was the laundry was still waiting for me and will never, ever end in my entire life. The mess was still there, but cleaned up quickly. My papers are still unwritten and if I’m being honest with myself, I probably would have found something else to do anyways.

The reality is there’s no rulebook on parenting. There’s no rulebook on being an adult either. We’re all just making it up as we go and do what’s best for us. There are days we do what we can to get by and others where we have to structure the entire day to get what we need done. One isn’t more right than the other, it’s just how it is.

Our other reality is time isn’t slowing down. Sometimes I look at Mila and can’t believe how grown up she’s gotten, seemingly overnight. I feel like I say this over and over again, but these days don’t last forever. Before I know it, I’m not going to have a toddler that loves to cuddle with me and just wants to see my reaction to Lady and the Tramp. She’s never going to be this little again and as much as I try to make memories. they’ll only be that so soon. No matter how she grows, I hope that radiant smile and booming laughter always stays with her. Deep down, I hope she always wants to share pretzels and Nutella with me while we have a movie night, I’ll keep on letting her pick the movie too.

I let my toddler stay up past her bedtime and it was one of the best nights.

Meatless Monday: French Onion Grilled Cheese

Scrambling about what to make for dinner tonight? How about a meatless option that doesn’t lack any taste? Well, I’ve found the perfect recipe for you.

On Instagram, I found a guy named @nishcooks. He makes videos of all kinds of different meals that are pretty simple to make. He provides the recipes and the videos shows how he quickly makes them. One video that jumped out to me was his French Onion Grilled Cheese.

The ingredients he uses are :

  • Whole onion
  • Sour dough bread
  • Cheddar (preferably Swiss)
  • Provolone
  • Butter

Well, I didn’t have everything he had specifically so I modified mine a bit. I used one yellow onion, Gouda cheese, and regular wheat bread. It’s what I had on hand, so I figured it’d be fine. I also used salt and pepper to spice the onion.

These were my ingredients after I sautéd the onions. That part took a little while, like forty minutes and lots of butter… so worth it in the end. I grated the Gouda and honestly, I know traditional French onion soup uses Swiss, but the cheese paired so well the the onions and everything.

If I knew how good it was going to taste, I probably would have made way more. Mila had soup, her favorite lately, but stole a few bites of my sandwich. When I last went to the grocery store, I grabbed extra onions to make this sandwich again.

Just looking at the pictures again makes me want to make it right now. I love grilled cheese normally, but the onions just elevated it to the next level.

You guys should definitely try it and let me know how you liked it. If you’re looking for some dinner inspiration and are on Instagram, check out @nishcooks. Happy making!