Sunday, September 29, 2013

Reading Lately and a menu! Finally! Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas, Crispy Onion Chicken, Tilapia Fish Sticks, Pasta Carobanara

What have you been reading lately???  My husband puts up with a lot from me.  One of my lastest quirks is my constant reading.  The books go with me wherever I go.  I read when I'm putting makeup on, doing my hair, brushing my teeth, while the kids are napping, when I'm riding in the car...I. can't. stop.  I have to have a really good book if I'm reading at this rate. 

A few years ago I was given a book called Summer by Karen Kingsbury.  I knew it was the second book in a series and I hadn't read any of the other books, but I read it anyway and LOVED it.  I always meant to read the other books, but just didn't find the time to get them in my hands.  Then my church just happened to have a library, which had almost every single one of the books by Karen Kingsbury.  It was my heaven on Earth.  If you choose to read her books, begin with the Redemption Series, then move to the Firstborn Series, and then the Sunrise Series.  13 books later you will find yourself totally in love with the characters and feel like if you were to visit Bloomington, Indiana (where the books' settings are) you would run into any one of them.  Every book has a lesson to be learned about your walk in faith with God.  I have learned so much from these books and will forever be changed by them!  Go check them out.

On another note, I haven't posted a menu in a LONG time.  Try some of these recipes this week:  Black bean and corn quesadillas, crispy onion chicken, tilapia fish sticks, pasta carobanara.  Leave some nights for leftovers or to go out as a family! 

Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas:  These were so good!  My husband has caught on and is now more interested in cooking and often asks, "What's in these?"  When he asked me this time, I responded, "I don't want to tell you."  He said, "Oh, there's no meat in them."  Occasionally, we will have a meatless night, just so I don't have to spend part of my grocery bill on meat.  These were so worth it!  I found this recipe during one of my many pinterest perusings.  And while you are chowing down on these check out the blog these came from!

8 burrito sized tortillas
15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn, do not thaw
1/2 red onion
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
1 packet taco seasoning
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream
shredded lettuce

In small food processor, (or just with a knife, who wants to wash a food processor?), chop parsley and red onion.  Dum diced onion and parsley into a large mixing bowl.  Mis in black beans, frozen corn, taco seasoning, and cheese until well combined.
Place 1/2 cup filling on half of a tortilla and fold.  Cook over medium heat on a non-stick griddle.  Flip when cheese has begun to melt and cook an additional 2 minutes.  Repeat for remaining tortillas and filling.  Allow to cool slightly, adn slice each quesadilla in half.  Serve with shredded lettuce, salsa, sour cream, etc.  Serve with a side salad or fruit and you are set!

Shopping list:  tortillas, black beans, frozen corn, red onion, parsley, taco seasoning, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, salsa, lettuce

Crispy Onion Chicken:  This recipe is from the same blog, .  I had stocked up on chicken breasts when Kroger had them for 50% off and needed to find a different way to cook them.  I liked how simple and kid friendly this recipe was!  We liked it, but I had forgotten to season the chicken before doing all the steps in the recipe.  Don't ever forget to season with salt and pepper!  It makes a huge difference!

1/2 cup melted butter (I think I did 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon Worcestshire sauce (one of my fave ingredients)
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
6 oz. pouch french fried onions
4 boneless chicken breast halves, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness, or if you are like me, just cut them in half through the middle of each half.  There.  No pounding needed.

Combine melted butter, Worcestshire sauce, ground mustard, and galic salt in a bowl.  Crush french fried onions in the pouch and place in a separate bowl.  Heat skillet to medium heat on stove.  Dip chicken one at a time in the butter sauce and then in the crushed onions coating both sides.  Cook chicken in skillet until both sides are brown.    Preheat oven to 350.  Put browned chicken on a foild lined baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, or until cooked through.  Use a thermometer if you can to check doneness.

Serve with roasted potatoes tossed in oil, salt and pepper, garlic and rosemary, with a side of a steamed veggie, and you have a simple dinner the kids will love!

Shopping list:  butter, Worcestshire sauce, ground mustard, garlic salt, french fried onions, chicken breasts, potatoes, veggie of choice

Tilapia Fish Sticks:  One thing I do every week is peruse my grocery store's weekly ad to see what's on sale and to plan my meals based on the sales.  Tilapia was on sale and I was looking for a fun and different way to serve it up for the fam.  The kids eat fish sticks at preschool and day care and apparently love them, so I figured why not try my hand at them?  These were simple, easy, and yes, delicious.  The kids loved them.  You can find this recipe and many more at

1 pound tilapia filets
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp cajun seasoning
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Thaw the tilapia filets if not done already.  Mine were still a bit frozen, but that just made it easier to cut into stick like shapes.  Slice the filets so that you get about 4-6 sticks per filet.  prepare the breading station by collecting three bowls.  In the first bowl, combine the flour and cajun seasoning (or salt, pepper, any other seasonings).  In the second bowl whisk two eggs.  In the third bowl place the panko bread crumbs.  (I don't usually have these on hand.  But I do save the heels of my loaves of bread and freeze them.  I put two or three of these heels into the food processor and use those bread crumbs instead.  LOVED them.)  Bread the tilapia sticks by coating in the seasoned flour then dipping in egg and finally coating in panko crumbs.  Place the breaded sticks on a plate until all of the sticks have been breaded.  Heat a large skillet with 2 tbsp of veg. oil over medium/high heat.  When the pan is very hot it is ready for the fish.  You will know it's hot when you put a wooden spoon handle into the oil and the oil bubbles, or it will sizzle when you flick water onto it.  Place half the sticks on the pan and cook on each side until golden brown in color.  Drain the fish sticks on a plate covered with a paper towel.  Wipe out the pan, add the rest of the veg. oil and cook the second half of the fish sticks in the same way. 

You can visit the site to see step by step instructions in photos. 

I served this with homemade macaroni and cheese and sliced cucumbers.  I was going to make a cucumber salad, but ran out of time and energy.

Shopping list:  tilapia, flour, cajun seasoning, eggs, panko breadcrumbs, vegetable oil, boxed macaroni and cheese dinner or macaroni pasta, shredded cheddar cheese, milk, cucumber

Pasta Carbonara:  Another cheap way to cook is by cooking with recipes that have eggs or bacon in them.  If the recipe has both, then you are in for a delicious treat.  I have made something like this before and loved that I found it on a site called  It can be calorie dense, so just don't fill up an entire plate with it!  Eat in moderation!

1 pound pasta
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream (I used milk watered down to cut back on the calories)
1 1/2 cups grated parmesan
3 eggs beaten (I only had 2 on hand and it turned out fine!)
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1-2 teaspoons fresh cracked pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound bacon

Fill one pot with water and place over burn on high heat.  Slice the bacon strips into little pieces and cook in a non stick saute pan until the bacon is golden brown and crispy.  Set aside.  Add pasta to boiling water and cook as box instructs.  Combine cream, parmesan, eggs, parsley, minced garlic, dried oregano, pepper and salt.  When the pasta is finished cooking, drain the water, add the pasta bak to the pot, toss in your bacon and, stir in cream mixture.  Serve the pasta hot.

Have a side salad and you have a great, homey, comfort food meal!

Shopping list:  pasta (rotini, linguini, etc.), heavy whipping cream, grated parmesan (not the kind that comes in the green conainer), eggs, parsley, garlic, dried oregano, pepper, salt, bacon.

A Top Ten List

Sometimes I have to pinch myself just to see if this really is my life.  Did God really give me two gorgeous children who make me laugh and a husband I fall in love with more everyday?  Today was one of those beautiful fall days in Virginia that I love.  So much has happened in our lives that I figured why not make a top ten list of things that have made the past few months awesome and full of change.
1.  The 2012-2013 school year came to an end.  It was a year of adorable school babies and relationships built to last a life time at a school that is home away from home.  Little did I know the tears we shed together as we said goodbye on the last day of school would have an even deeper meaning.
2.  My husband got a new job in the same county where I teach.  Bring on the discounted family health care plan!  I am so proud of him and the way he strives to provide for our family.  We both turned 29 this summer and are looking at our last year in our 20s with excitement.  We think if our 20s were this great, then we can't wait to see what will happen in our 30s!
3.  I got to stay at home with my two babes all summer long.  We had so much fun together.  Yes, my type A personality came out and we did have themed weeks and days.  What's wrong with a Super Hero week?  That was my favorite of all the weeks.  When asked who the most powerful super hero there is, my five year old replies, "God."  Sigh.  Love.  Our theme days during these theme weeks were:  Make something Monday, Time to Read Tuesday, What's Cookin' Wednesday, Thoughtful Thursday, and Fun Friday!  I did some tutoring on Tuesdays and Thursdays while the kids were at preschool or daycare, which was also awesome.
4.  We went on our first beach vacation on our own.  Vacationing with two children, especially a one year old, is not as relaxing as one might think.  We were at Duck Donuts by 7:00 and this was after I had already fit a run in.  Mama and Daddy were quite relieved when nap time rolled around each day, which just meant hanging out at the house watching Good Luck Charlie, waiting for the kids to wake up and head back to the beach.
5.  My days as a classroom teacher came to an end as I was offered the Reading Specialist position at another school in our county.  This decision was heart wrenching, rewarding, scary, and promising all rolled into one.  I stood in my principal's office crying as we discussed my upcoming interview.  Just thinking about the potential for change and possibility of a new job that would bring about leaving the classroom, was daunting and unsettling.  Little did I know how God was working out his ultimate plan for me.
6.  My big sis and brother-in-law moved back to Richmond from San Diego.  And sometime in February we will get to meet our niece or nephew!  It has been so wonderful to just be able to pick up the phone to call them and be in the same time zone! 
7.  My sister-in-law and brother-in-law blessed us with another nephew!  He is a sweetie and Tessa cannot believe she has so many cousins now!  Granted it's only two, but she still gets overwhelmed at the thought, especially since my sister is expecting now.
8.  Speaking of Tessa, she turned five.  Sigh.  We are waiting to send her to kindergarten because of her September birthday.  I am so glad we did because I don't know if I was ready for any more change!  She is getting to be so independent and growing out of her princess stage.  Where last year she only wore leggings and skirts to school, this year she's leaning more towards the tomboy side and rarely wears dresses or skirts.  I am holding onto so many moments before she heads off to school next year:  The way she brings me a flower every day when we get home even if it's a dandelion, how she loves our "secret" book time of reading a chapter book before bed, how she loves her little brother and "mothers" him in everything he does, and how she sometimes just wants to snuggle with me on the couch.  She also started her first season playing soccer, which just warms our hearts and we are thrilled to be soccer parents.  I'm even the team mom! 
9.  Dempsey is getting 6 teeth.  The poor child will be toothless when he starts to lose teeth in elementary school.  It was a long summer of a lot of sleepless nghts due to these teeth.  We thought we were out of the woods after a molar finally poked through, but lo and behold three other molars are now coming in plus the two canines up top.  Some sleepless nights are in our future.  He is our wild child with the sweetest smile and hugs.
10.  My mom and dad are all moved into their condo and have been able to sell their old house and the river property.  It was bittersweet, but we know that simple is better!  My dad is a walking miracle and my mom is a rock.  When I look at them, I think of them as God's Warriors because with all that they have been through, God must really think they are strong people who can handle a lot and be an example to others.