Tag Archives: quesadillas

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Busy? Me too! Meals for on the go schedules

14 Jun

I feel like I must look like this by the end of the school year, every June. Most days, I barely know what day it is.

Happy Wednesday!

It’s finally stopped raining, at least temporarily, so we’re cancelling our plans to build an ark and have instead started the final countdown to the end of the school year. We have just about a week to go.

I always compare this time of year for teachers, students, parents and those of us in the education world to what I imagine the tax season to be like for accountants. It’s crazy-busy for all of us, and we’re spread thin, trying to put ourselves in several places at once. This year, I am especially thankful that we have a third driver, which has helped our situation when we aren’t able to clone ourselves to be two places at once.

Busy? Absolutely. Still need to cook and eat? Absolutely.

Normally during much of the year we plan our meals two weeks in advance and shop for them two weeks in advance as well. However, since after the April vacation week, we have only been able to manage to plan and shop a week at a time for much of May and June. It’s been working out, and this week I am particularly proud of our meal planning because we were able to prep so much of it in advance. It meant a lot of work, particularly on Sunday night, but we had the time to spend that evening, and it’s nice to know we’re set for this week, the final full week of the school year for all of us. Like everyone else, we’re battling with the culminating events for  sports and school and work and other extra-curriculars, but we get through it, just like everyone else does, just like all the other years, and then it will be summer and we can breathe again.

I told someone just the other day that during the rest of the year our schedules are busy, but doable because everything has a designated slot on the schedule and when left as is, it all works out. There may be a lot of it, with five schedules and only seven days in a week, but everything fits. November/December and May/June are the months that throw things off because all of the activities choose new, additional slots on the schedule in which to place their seasonal events. So our Saturday morning slot also goes into a slot on Monday and on Tuesday night, for example, but yet we already have something in that slot on Monday. And on Tuesday. Our Monday and Wednesday slots decide to put their event on a Saturday and on also a Sunday, and still on Monday and Wednesday too. Things that are normally contained within the school day curriculum, like band for one, or chorus for another, or theater for the other, or even recognition events for all, suddenly need night time slots for everyone. As adults we are also required to attend many of these same events at other schools for our school-related jobs as well as for our own three kids, so the chaos multiplies quickly for us here. It gets all mixed up for a good month and then it goes back to normal again, but for those weeks of the year, twice a year, we are definitely over-scheduled, over-worked and overwhelmed before normalcy and calm returns.

We use our summer to decompress. We don’t over-schedule and we don’t have to worry much about competing events because we don’t do a lot, and for both of us adults, work slows down to a more normal, regular pace. I take the time to evaluate what worked and what didn’t from the past year and make adjustments by August for the upcoming year. I also look at ways we can be more organized as a family, every summer. Last year I instituted the Cozi app, and have loved that and will definitely keep it going for the next year. The year before, I instituted a great allowance system, and have kept that going as well. Summer is always a great time for reflecting, making changes and improving our well-oiled machines.

So, in preparation for all of your upcoming busy weeks ahead, here is our one week of meals, instead of two, but they are great for making ahead, cooking once and eating twice, and for having to grab and go.

ONE WEEK OF MEALS

Sunday: Shepherd’s Pie: This was our plan ahead, shop ahead and cook ahead day, and even though the daytime hours were full of obligations, we cooked into the evening hours and ate our dinner late that night in order to be ready for the week ahead. The kids used the time wisely and played outside until well after the street lights came on. See the recipe here. Make a big batch, eat half the first night and save the rest for a leftovers night later in the week.

Monday: Quesadillas: This night we had a PT appointment for one, a dance class for another and a fashion show rehearsal for all three, all after school, so we needed a literal grab and go dinner. (Thankfully, no one had any homework.) As a shortcut, I used already cooked chicken strips as my chicken and cheese fillers for these. I made plain cheese, spicy chicken and cheese, and plain chicken and cheese, and I bagged them all up, labeled and ready to go. When made with corn tortillas, these are also gluten free. They’re better served hot, but they’re edible cold as well, and when you’re hungry, cold will do just fine. Find the recipe here. As an added bonus, these make a great lunch, so I was one step ahead Tuesday morning as well.

My bag of quesadillas, ready to conquer dinner and then lunches, in one fell swoop.

Tuesday: American Chopped Suey: This was a meal we made ahead on Sunday night as well. Sauteed peppers, onions, mushrooms and olives filled our kitchen with a delicious aroma as we cooked, and thanks to that little teaser, now everyone can’t wait for this meal. We need to be at the kids’ fashion show by 5:30, so this will be an early meal, but will fill everyone’s bellies sufficiently before we go. Additionally, this will be something that will leave leftovers for our leftovers night. I don’t have a recipe we follow for this, it’s just sauteed ground meat (we use turkey), veggies of your choice, cooked pasta and sauce topped and baked with cheese. Ours is gluten free.

Wednesday: French Toast: This is my favorite go-to meal: breakfast for dinner. It’s fast and French Toast is my favorite meal for breakfast, despite my love for other types of morning treats. We have an after school meeting for one, piano lessons for one, dance class for one, a band concert for another, plus a work event for one, all before 7pm so this time, everyone will eat when they can, before they need to go, or when they get back, or both. It’ll be ready to eat, gluten free and not, for whenever it’s needed.

Thursday: Leftovers: On this night, all the kids are home, and finals start in the morning for our highschooler, so it’s crunch time for sure, but now both adults have to work. Normally we try our hardest to avoid both being out simultaneously for work at night, especially since I can set my own schedule more easily, but this week is an exception. It is graduation week here in our city and I cover three of the four high school graduation events, so my being out can’t be avoided, and neither can his. So, we planned our leftover night for this night because everything can be reheated from earlier in the week. If no one likes that, there’s enough other choices that they can make on their own easily enough, but we’ve done what we consider to be our parental due diligence and provided good meal options.

Friday: Homemade Pizza: Only I have to work on this night, graduation event #2. So I’ll come home at the end of the night and enjoy some yummy homemade pizzas. We enjoy homemade more than the pizza we take out, Don makes the absolute best pizza around, so this is a treat we all look forward to.

Saturday: Dinner event: We have a birthday party for one child early on in the day, and the final graduation event during the day for me as well, and then we are all heading to a dinner event that night, so our final meal of the week is planned for us, thankfully.

We will (hopefully) have made it through the week unscathed and having our meals planned out and mostly ready to go will have allowed us to enjoy the moments as we get to them and through them, and to enjoy the end of the year as it comes. It was a relatively inexpensive set of meals too, so that has been a little bit of a break for our grocery budget as well, when all else is so much more costly at this time of year.

May you all survive the busy seasons in your own lives, families and occupations. If this isn’t your busy season, save this post for when you’ll need it most!

 

 

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What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Fajita Quesadillas

10 Jul
Fajita Quesadilla veggies

I love the look of fresh vegetables when they’re mixed up and cooking!

ORIGINALLY POSTED JANUARY 25, 2012:

Today’s recipe is again, one that I did not grow up with! Imagine that, four recipes in two days, and not one of them was from my childhood! This recipe is a combination of recipes from two different people and it makes a great meal or an appetizer for a football game.

We actually had never had quesadillas at our house until about four years ago or so. Elizabeth had a friend at preschool whose house we used to go to for playdates often. My friend Jody used to make cheese quesadillas a lot when we went over for playdates. (In fact, this past fall I featured my friend Jody’s Butternut Squash Soup, which was also a playdate lunch. And just so you know, my traditional playdate lunch at my house is mac & cheese from a box with chicken nuggets. we were spoiled at Jody’s!)

Anyway….we started making quesadillas at our house on a regular basis. You can put anything in them so we’ve done just cheese, chicken and cheese, tomato/chicken/cheese, peppers/beef and cheese, and we’ve done bbq chicken/onion/cheese. However, on New Year’s Eve this year my sister in law Jessica made us Fajita Quesadillas which had all kinds of peppers, mushrooms, onions and cheese, and they were so fabulous!! We had to try them at home. So last week, we had them.

Cook up some chicken tenders first. Then shred or dice the cooked chicken.

My sister in law and I are both lucky because we both live near an Aldi’s and you can get everything you need for your Fajita Quesadillas at Aldi’s.  The ingredients vary, depending what you’d like in your quesadillas. You need soft flour tortillas, we use the large ones.

This is another meal where I pull out some frozen chicken tenders, so convenient! Cook them up if you’d like chicken in your quesadillas.

While your chicken is cooking, grate a bowl full of cheddar cheese (a block of cheese is usually plenty.) Slice up your veggies and cook them on top of the stove.

We use a countertop griddle to make our quesadillas two at a time.

Once you’ve got your ingredients pre-cooked, you’re ready to begin the last step. Butter your soft flour tortillas on one side and lay it on the griddle, in a frying pan, or use a Quesadilla Maker (which we do actually have also, but we prefer the griddle most of the time because we can make two at a time.)

Butter one side of the top flour tortilla and place it on top of the others on the griddle and flip (we have a big metal spatula for flipping!)

Once both sides are golden brown and the cheese inside is melted, you’re ready to cut your quesadillas into triangles and eat them!

finished quesadillas

Once the quesadillas are golden brown, cut them into triangles and eat!

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Quinoa, Black Bean and Corn Salad by Haile Thomas

3 Oct

Quinoa, Black Bean and Corn Salad was on the menu at the Kids’ State Dinner at the White House in August.

Ever since our trip to DC for the Kids’ State Dinner, I’ve had a list a mile long of things I want to make that we either had on the trip or are recipes in the cookbook (free download here) we received from epicurious showing all the recipes from the other winners. One of the things I’d heard about but had never tried til DC was quinoa. It was in one of the dishes we ate at the White House, and it is now today’s recipe.

A few weeks ago I picked some up and I spent some time reading about what it is, how you cook it (has to be rinsed first in most recipes) and what kinds of things you eat it with. Even though I had the recipe for today’s dish, I actually used it first to make muffins, which four out of five of us liked, so you’ll see that at some point in the future too.

Caroline was so excited that we were finally going to try out this recipe, it’s been at the top of her list too!

Last week we tried out Haile Thomas’ recipe. Haile is from Arizona and Caroline and I both loved her dish when we had it in DC. Haile is 11, and the cookbook blurb states that they began experimenting with quinoa when the family gave up eating white rice when her dad learned that he was a diabetic.

“The secret to [the recipe’s] success is that ‘all the kids love it, the ingredients are affordable, it’s easy to make and it’s just plain good,'” Haile’s mom says in her quote. They say it can be served hot or cold and I agree. We had ours as a side dish with quesadillas and again, the same four out of five of us loved it. I guess quinoa is now going on Alex’s Don’t Like List.

Coincidentally, just as I finished typing this, I found out that Haile is featured in this month’s Food and Flourish Magazine. In fact, she’s not only featured on pages 26-31, but she’s ON THE COVER!

If you haven’t tried quinoa before, I highly recommend it. I’m thrilled to have another healthy option for side dishes with our meals and I’m glad so many of my family members love it!

**Any modifications I had to make for this recipe I have put in parentheses. **

Haile’s Quinoa, Black Bean and Corn Salad

Serves 6

I love all of the colors in recipes like this. We definitely “ate a rainbow” with this dish!

INGREDIENTS

2 (15 ounce) cans of organic black beans (ours weren’t organic) drained and rinsed
4 cups fresh corn (we used a bag of frozen, cooked but not hot)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered (I chopped up a large tomato)
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 medium red onion, chopped (I used half, it was large)
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley (I used dried parsley)
2 avocados, pitted, peeled and cut into cubes
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon halved (mine was bad so I used lemon juice instead)
Sea salt

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, combine the black beans, corn, tomatoes, quinoa, cilantro or parsley, red onion, avocados, and olive oil.

Squeeze the lemon halves and add their juice to the bowl.

Toss to combine, then season to taste with salt and serve.

Cook’s note from the Thomas family: To make this dish hot, warm it on the stovetop of in a microwave, or saute all the ingredients together and add the avocados and cilantro or parsley after it’s plated.

This was a perfect side dish for our quesadillas last week!