Homemade Guacamole

It seems we are on a bit of a Mexican kick around here lately: Salsa, Bean Tostadas, Baked Tostada Shells, and Crockpot Refried Beans.

Homemade Guacamole - easy and delicious! This recipe came from a Mexican restaurant and is so good.

We are missing something really important though. Homemade guacamole. This is one of my favorites. There is no comparison to the packaged stuff and it’s super easy to make. Every once in a while my daughter and I will eat this delicious dip for lunch. It’s good enough to eat with a spoon. I spent 5 years working as a server in a Mexican restaurant and one of the appetizers on our menu was Tableside Guacamole. Everyone loved it. We charged almost $7 for guacamole made from 2 avocados. Mark up much? Even if it’s off season and you pay $1 each for avocados you can make this for almost a third that price.

Red onion is the best in this dish, but when I don’t have one I use whatever I have on hand and it still turns out amazing. The jalapeno adds a gentle kick but since you take the seeds out, it’s not overpowering. Leave it out if you want a more mild flavor.

Homemade Guacamole - easy and delicious! This recipe came from a Mexican restaurant and is so good.

Stay tuned next week for my favorite way to cut an avocado and remove the pit that I learned from my waitressing days.

Guacamole
 

Ingredients
  • 2 Avocados
  • 1-2 tablespoons minced red onion (or yellow or white)
  • ½ jalapeno, deseeded and minced (optional)
  • garlic – 2 small cloves or ¼ teaspoon powder
  • ¼-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon white pepper
  • ½-1 lime
  • ¼ cup diced tomatoes

Instructions
  1. Remove avocado from skin and cube. Add to a bowl.
  2. Add minced onion, jalapeno if using, garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper to the bowl.
  3. Use two forks and smash and stir the ingredients until desired consistency.
  4. Squeeze the juice of ½ the lime over the mixture and stir.
  5. Taste and adjust salt and lime if needed.
  6. Gently stir in diced tomatoes.
  7. Enjoy!

 

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Easy Crockpot Refried Beans

I suppose these would actually be called unrefried beans and not be considered authentic as there is nothing fried about them but they have become a staple in our home the last several years.

Easy and yummy refried beans in the crock pot (or on the stove). I love making a huge batch and freezing the leftovers!

 

I make up a pound or two of dried pinto beans at a time and turn them into refried beans. I portion what we won’t use that week into plastic containers and store them in the freezer for us to use the next several weeks. Just set a frozen container of refried beans in the refrigerator overnight to defrost and they will be ready to reheat for a quick meal. Things such as bean tostadas or bean and cheese tortillas make an easy lunch or supper in little time. (Perfect for a day crazier than planned or for one of those meals you forgot to buy an important ingredient for.)

If you don’t have dried beans, you can still use the same seasonings on canned beans. It really doesn’t add on any more hands on time to use the dried beans and you’ll be saving yourself money. I highly recommend you give it a try.

Using fresh onion and garlic (and deseeded jalapeno too if you like a kick) in the cooking of the beans is completely optional. If I’m out, I’ll still make up the beans with no seasonings in the cooking liquid and add extra onion and garlic powder when I’m smashing them up.

Easy and yummy refried beans in the crock pot. I love making a huge batch and freezing the leftovers!

These beans can also be made on the stove instead of the crock pot. You’ll just want to watch the water level and add more if needed. There are concerns of toxins not being removed from the beans when cooked in the crock pot, but I’ve found that on high my pot gets the beans up to a full boil. If yours doesn’t, you can boil them on the stove for 10 minutes and then return to the crock pot to finish cooking.

Easy Crockpot Refried Beans
 

Ingredients
  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 deseeded jalapeno
  • 1 T. cumin
  • 2 t. seasoning salt
  • Optional, ½-1 teaspoon garlic and onion powder

Instructions
  1. Rinse and soak the pinto beans overnight.
  2. Drain and rinse beans and place in the crock pot and cover with water.
  3. Add a peeled and quartered onion and peeled and smashed garlic cloves if you are using (and a deseeded jalapeno if you like a little kick).
  4. Cook on low for 5 hours.
  5. Turn to high for the last hour to allow beans to come to a boil for at least 10 minutes and finish cooking.
  6. When beans are tender and falling apart, use a slotted spoon and scoop beans into a bowl. Reserve the cooking liquid.
  7. Add cumin powder and seasoning salt. Add garlic and onion powder if you didn’t use fresh in the cooking process.
  8. Use a potato masher and stir and mash the bean mixture until it is as smooth as you like. Add some of the reserved cooking liquid to make it as soupy as you like. It will thicken up as it sits at room temperature.
  9. Cool and separate into storage containers and freeze what you won’t use the first week.

Notes
You can also cook the beans on the stove top for several hours until tender and falling apart.

 

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Menu Plan and Goals

Some weeks it feel like all that happens is feeding the family and attempting to clean. The 14 month old officially doesn’t play with toys. He just destroys. Papers on the end table – let’s shove them to the floor. Books in the bookshelf – I think they’d look better on the floor. We’ve also had a week of rough nights with him. Yesterday I decided I think he’s starting to get his next round of teeth. At least we had a little break after the molars made an appearance.

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

We celebrated my birthday, went to the small local water park, and spent some time with friends who are in the united states for their first time in 2 years this week. Homemade ice cream, a walk, and a Mexican and movie night were enjoyed with them. When you know you won’t be seeing someone for another couple years, you need to squeeze in all the time you can.

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

VBS is this week at our church. It will be our daughter’s first year old enough to attend. We’ll try it out Monday and then play the rest of the week by ear. 4 days up past her bed time might be a little scary.

In an attempt to keep things simple and get ahead (ha ha) on projects around the house and computer, I’m not going to cook this week. Salads and leftovers will be where it’s at.

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

Suppers:

Lunches:

  • Menemen and Herb Bread (a Turkish recipe – Shaun and the kids weren’t fans but they enjoyed the bread)
  • Spicy Thai Noodle Salad (Another new recipe that we all really enjoyed. Shaun liked the flavor and said it was better than he thought it would be)
  • Salads/Leftovers/Bean Tostadas

Breakfasts:

  • Pancakes (fresh and then leftovers)
  • Smoothies
  • Yogurt (just made a new batch)

Goals:

So, yeah. I completely bombed least week’s (easy) goals. I think the only one I actually accomplished was hanging out with our visiting friends. Hopefully this week I can do a little better.

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

Baked Tostada Shells

Lately, one of the go to lunches for my daughter and even an easy supper for the entire family are these bean tostadas. I love that they come together in no time and it’s easy to always have the ingredients on hand for them.

Baked Tostada Shells. The easiest thing in the world! Avoid yucky oils and other ingredients by baking them!

In the bean tostada post I shared that I like to bake corn tortillas to make my own crispy tostada shells. When I was first shopping for tostada shells one of the first things I noticed was that many brands had yellow dye added to the shells where as corn tortillas didn’t. Artificial colors are pretty high up on the list of things we try and avoid in our home. Baking them myself I knew I’d stay away from the coloring and also the unhealthy oils they were fried in.

Baking tostada shells is so easy! I like to fill my oven up and use the leftovers over the next few weeks. The only thing you need is a big package of corn tortillas. Another tip – if you like these, I recommend buying the big package of tortillas (I get the 50 pack instead of 20) and keeping what you don’t bake in the refrigerator. I can tell you from experience, they last forever! I’ve had a bag in the fridge several months. Sure, they get a little drier and break a little easier as time passes but if I’m just planning on baking them in the oven instead of rolling them into enchiladas that’s okay with me.

If you are short on time, I’m sure you could turn the oven temperature up. You’d just have to keep a close eye on them. If I did that, I’m sure I’d end up burning at least some of them, so low and slow works best.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Baked Tostada Shells
 

Ingredients
  • Corn Tortillas

Instructions
  1. Two Methods:
Method One
  1. Spread tortillas out across the oven rack in the center of the oven.
  2. Bake at 200 degrees for an hour and 15 minutes or until completely crispy. Flip the tortillas over every 15 minutes the first 45 minutes. It will help keep the tortillas from curling quite so much.
  3. Cool and store in a zipped storage bag.
Method Two
  1. If you don’t want to put your tortillas directly on your oven rack place them on a baking sheet.
  2. Bake at 200 degrees for 2 hours or until completely crispy. Flip tortillas after an hour.
  3. Cool and store in a zipped storage bag.

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Menu Plan and Goals

Even though we had nothing planned this week it flew by! Cleaning and projects around the house took up a lot of time and we didn’t even get everything done that we wanted. I had hoped to get reading in and I barely found time to pick up a book. I think one of these months we are going to have to plan a staycation so we can tackle all those little things that never get done. I spent a lot of time cleaning and organizing in the kitchen. I made good headway on that project – a kitchen with cleared counters always makes me feel better! Now to just keep it that way.

Last week I attempted three new recipes from scratch! Angel food cake, swiss meringue butter cream (using up all the egg whites I had in the freezer) and mayonnaise. The angel food cake was deemed tastier than one from the box and it wasn’t too difficult to make. I want to try making it again and see if not having the egg whites get so stiff helps it get a little higher. The swiss meringue butter cream was actually pretty good but next time I want to try a different recipe. This one would have worked for spreading on a cake but wasn’t near thick enough for piping.

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

The mayonnaise didn’t come together for me the first time so I pulled out the trusty KitchenAid mixer and attached the mix. With the addition of another egg yolk and slowly drizzling in my failed batch, it worked perfectly! It was even a little too thick. Next time, I’m using the KitchenAid from the beginning.

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

Suppers:

  • Dinner with friends – brought angel food cake
  • My birthday dinner. . . I think we might use a gift card.
  • Leftovers x 3 (I have a couple back up meal options if we run out of leftovers)
  • Dinner with friends
  • Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken
  • Radio Station event

Lunches:

Breakfasts:

  • Oatmeal
  • Yogurt (if I get it made)
  • Smoothies

Goals (affiliate links):

What’s on your list for the week?

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

 

Ways to Beat the Heat at Home with your Kids

Ways to Beat the Heat (with kids) without leaving home!

I shared 10 free ways to beat the heat with kids and fun things to do when staycationing in a small town last week. Most of those ideas all require getting in your car and going someplace. What if you don’t have a car available or have one of those days where you really don’t want to load the kids up to drive elsewhere?

This list is full of ways to beat the heat at home with your kids! Some days my kids play really well on their own and others they go stir crazy and just start to make one mess after another. They need a little direction.

You could give your child a list of ideas to choose from, select an activity that you think would work best, or have them randomly pick one from a bucket.

1. Movie Afternoon

During the hottest time of day, turn off the lights, pop some popcorn, and have everyone pile on the couch and watch a movie from your collection.

2. Forts

Give your kids some play sheets and clothespins and let them have at it. This provides hours of entertainment. You might even find your kids playing in their forts for days. Send them outside to use the clothesline pole, tree, swing set, and patio to assist in their building or let them take over your living room and dining room utilizing every chair you have in your house. It’s amazing what can be accomplished with such simple things.

3. Sprinkler

Hook up the sprinkler or turn the hose onto a mist if you don’t have a sprinkler. Both of my kids love the water. The minute water is on, they will have their faces in it. Set the sprinkler up on the ground so they can run through the spray or hang it over their play set and all of a sudden they have a water slide and water swing.

4. Slip and Slide

We didn’t use these often and seemed to destroy them quickly but found them to be a lot of fun. Buy one or you can use a tarp you already have.

5. Indoor picnic

100 plus degree temperatures don’t exactly beg you to go sit outside and enjoy your meal. It’s the perfect opportunity, though, to spread a blanket out on the living room floor and bring the picnic inside. A bonus is not having to worry about flies and bugs.

6. Indoor camping

Camping. Another thing I don’t even want to think about doing when it’s so hot. Bring blankets and pillows to the living room floor and have an air conditioned camp out. If you have the supplies, you could even do s’mores using the oven or stove.

7. Water Gun Fight

Why is it so fun to squirt water at someone else? Have a supply of good water guns and everyone in your family will want to participate!

8. Water Balloons

Play games to keep the fun lasting longer and then finish with a big water balloon fight!

9. Messy Play

Summer is the perfect time for this because they can do the activities outside and get hosed off when they are done. Making a mud pit or filling the sandbox up with water will makes your child’s day. Check out this post from The Chaos and the Clutter for some ideas for hands on activities that will have your kids messy!

10. Star Gazing

Stay up late and wait for the stars to appear and then head outside and lay down on some blankets or your trampoline and see what constellations you can find and who can see a shooting star.

What are your favorite things to do at home on those hot summer days?

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Bean Tostadas

Today I have a guest post to share with you that I wrote from The Best Blog Recipes. If you are looking for something super easy your kids will love that you can dress up a little for the adults, this is it!

Bean Tostadas. Super simple meal your kids will eat up. I love that it can be dressed up for the adults.

I spent 5 years working as a server at a Mexican restaurant in our town. The kid’s menu was filled with things like corn dogs, mac and cheese, burgers, and chicken fingers. Then there was the taco meal and Mexican pizza. I always thought the name Mexican pizza was a complete misnomer and if any poor child ordered it for the first time they’d be sorely disappointed. It was a crispy corn tortilla topped with taco meat and melted cheese served with beans and rice. Not a very traditional pizza.

This recipe is basically that “Mexican Pizza”. It’s a super easy and quick lunch or supper that kids love! My daughter inhales this when I make it. If I already have beans and tortillas cooked, it is done in under 10 minutes. Can’t beat that on a rushed day.

You can make this as easy or complicated as you’d like. Use canned or dehydrated refried beans or cook up your own. I like to cook up my own beans in bulk and freeze in meal size portions. Buy tostada shells or what I do is bake corn tortillas directly on the oven rack at 200 degrees until they are crispy. Serve simply topped with cheese or set out an array of toppings that everyone can add after the tostadas come out of the oven. Things such as: green onions, sliced olives, sour cream, homemade salsa, guacamole, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, cilantro. My daughter loves hers with just the beans and cheese. I’m okay with that (plus, it’s less messy for her to eat)!

Head over to The Best Blog Recipes for the complete post and recipe!

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Menu Plan and Goals

Friday night we participated in Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-a for the first time. Even though she might not look it in the picture, our daughter had a blast. She loved dressing up and meeting the cow mascot. Before we left home she’d occasionally get down on all fours and start mooing.
Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

Other than the cow excitement, our week was a low keyed one and this week is looking like more of the same. Even the Thursday night event is postponed until next week. That will give us all the more time to work on getting the house cleaned and organized. We made progress but have a ways to go. I suppose a 1 year old who doesn’t play but rather destroys doesn’t help any.
Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

This girl loves to help. If I’m doing something she thinks she can too. She’s working hard grating cheese for the nacho cheese sauce to go with the chips.

I think it’s safe to say, we are all excited for the cooler temperatures coming the rest of this week. The highs are not even supposed to hit 80 a couple of days! It will be a great change from the upper 90s and 100s.

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

Suppers:

  • Snack supper – chips, salsa, cheese sauce (velveeta free – made a recipe we actually liked this time!), watermelon
  • Leftovers x 3
  • Salmon (haven’t decided how I’m going to cook it yet)
  • Chicken Pasta Salad (Trying my hand at homemade mayonnaise for the first time. We’ll see what happens)
  • Undecided: Chili Bean Nachos (trying a new recipe for homemade chili beans), Quinoa Dippers, or Breakfast

Lunches:

  • BLT Salad
  • Bean and Cheese Tostadas
  • Salads

Breakfasts:

  • Berry Green Smoothies
  • Oatmeal

Goals:

What are you eating this week? Is it cooling off where you are?

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

 

 

Staycationing in a Small Town

Staycationing in a Small Town - Fun and easy ideas your kids will love!

Staycationing can be much easier (and more budget friendly) than a full fledged vacation. What happens, though, when you live in a small town that doesn’t have any of the big attractions or activities of a city?

We live in a small town in Northern Oklahoma. The places with zoos, large amusement parks, shopping malls etc are all almost an hour and half away. That’s still doable for a day trip, but I certainly don’t want to make that drive everyday of our staycation.

These are all things that we can do in our town:

Local Library

We love to take advantage of story time and the play center in the children’s area of our library. My kids don’t ever want to leave. In the summer there are other fun activities for children during the week. My kids would be happy to know an entire afternoon was going to be dedicated to the library and they could leave with books and movies.

Free Movies

Our historic theater downtown shows free family friendly movies every Thursday. We rarely go the the movies so this is a fun treat for the kids.

Water Fun

The key here is to avoid the hottest (and busiest) times of day. Go first thing in the morning or in the evening for a more relaxing trip and you won’t have to worry (as much) about your children getting sun burned.

  • Splash Pad
  • Pool
  • Beach

Miniature Golf

Miniature golf is something we only do when on a trip. What better time to check out your local course than your staycation!

Dinner at your favorite restaurant

Growing up we seldom went out to eat. Going to a restaurant was a treat and something we looked forward to doing on our vacations. Plan a meal at a favorite restaurant (or maybe one you’ve never tried) in your town.

Ice Cream Shop

So many touristy towns have ice cream shops lining the streets of downtown. One afternoon, visit your local ice cream shop as a special treat. This would be the highlight of my 3 year olds day!

Picnic

Picnics and vacations, they just seem to go together. Whether hiking in the mountains, a trip to the lake or beach, or in the car while on a road trip a picnic seems to happen at least once. You could have a picnic in your backyard, living room floor, local park, or a pool.

Stay up late

Rest is important and I definitely wouldn’t want to keep my (fairly young) kids up late every night of our staycation. Pick a night or two and let them stay up – plan a fun activity that will go past their bedtime. Maybe the trip to the beach or splash pad or an after supper ice cream excursion.

Crafts

Take time to make a mess and get creative. Go to Michaels, Hobby Lobby, or your local craft store and add on to your craft supplies and have a family art session. Maybe you could all decorate shirts or design wood plaques. If you aren’t creative (goodness knows I need all the help I can get), you can also find kits with instructions for some great projects.

I think that the key to making these seemingly little and normal things fun is to turn them into a big deal – combine ideas and splurge a couple of times on things you normally wouldn’t. After your afternoon at the library pick up pizza and continue with a movie night. Head to the beach in the morning and finish the trip off with a picnic. Evening miniature golf followed by a stop for ice cream.

What things do you like to do on a staycation when in a small town?

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Free Ways to Beat the Heat with Kids

Today I am honored to have a guest post up on Monday Saving Mom. If you are stopping by from Crystal’s site, welcome. I’m glad to have you.

For more ideas on making your summer more fun, check out my post on making a staycation fabulous and come back tomorrow for ideas on what to do on a staycation in a small town.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and like the craziness of summer has you just suriving, you might want to check out the most popular post on From this Kitchen Table – How to go from Surviving to Thriving.

Or if cooking is more of your thing, the most viewed recipe is this Easy Alfredo Sauce . Not only is it easy, it is also amazing!

For my regular readers, here is the post on 10 free ways to beat the heat with kids:

I live in Oklahoma. Our summers can be pretty miserable, but my children aren’t happy with spending the hottest months of the year cooped up in the house. In an effort to save my sanity, I have 10 free ways to beat the heat with kids during those hot months.

1. Library

Take your kids to Story Time which often includes a few songs and a craft, and then let them check out a pile of new (to them) books and maybe a movie or two. Not only will you kill a couple hours, you come home with supplies that will keep them entertained.

Our library also shows a movie once a week and has special performances for kids during the summer! Call and ask what they have going on or pick up a printed calendar they have available.

2. Splash Pad

Okay, I know sitting outside in the 100 degree heat isn’t high on your list of fun. It isn’t on mine either. Avoid the hottest times of the day and let your kids enjoy the water while you sit and read a book under the covered bench.

3. Mall Play Space

Air conditioning and space to run. When you need to get out of the house during the hottest time of the day, turn to indoor recreation. Let your kids climb and slide without worrying about sun burn.

4. Park

Once again, I know it’s summer and it’s hot but go early early in the day. Have a breakfast picnic at the park and let your kids swing and play before the sun heats up the play structure. An added bonus is that you miss all the crowds and daycare groups.

Head over to Money Saving Mom to read the rest of the post!

What are your favorite ways to beat the heat during the summer with your kids?

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