Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Carnitas Enchiladas


Today I'm going to get right to the point of this post... I'm not going to fluff it up, I'm not going to dilly dally... I'm going to get right the meat; the good stuff!

Lately I have been craving Mexican Food. Like, craving it. Like, I haven't thought about anything else... That kind of craving. So, I decided that I had to do something about it because I could hardly stand it anymore... I decided to make some Pork Enchiladas! Or, Carnitas Enchiladas... either way, they were delicious!


I just love a good enchilada. Don't you? Hubby and I agreed that these are by far our favorite enchiladas we've ever had! And we've had a lot of enchiladas in our day. They're so flavorful and perfect... You've just gotta try them for yourself! Seriously. Then, come back here and let me know what you thought, because I just have to know. I'll be waiting! 


Oh, and don't forget the Spanish Rice!


Carnitas Enchiladas:

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups shredded pork carnitas {recipe here}
  • 1 (28 ounce) can green chile enchilada sauce
  • 3 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro {plus extra for garnish}
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 12 corn tortillas
Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat tortillas in the microwave until soft, about 2-3 minutes.

Mix pork, 1 cup of enchilada sauce, 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro and 2 cups of shredded cheese together in a mixing bowl and spread about 1/4 cup of the sauce on a large baking sheet. 

Place 1/3 cup of mixture in the center of each tortilla, roll and place on the baking sheet, leaving a little space between each enchilada. 

Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Place in preheated oven and bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and cheese has melted.

Garnish each enchilada with a little cilantro, a dollop of sour cream and a slice of avocado.


Monday, July 28, 2014

After School Snacks for Kids {Picnic at the Park!}

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #AfterSchoolSnacks #CollectiveBias




If you, like me, have school-aged kids, you know how important an After School Snack is to them. My daughter always seems to come home starving after school, and pretty much the first thing she says to me when I pick her up is "What's my snack today?" It seems like I spend {approximately} 82.75% of my time trying to think of snack food ideas for my daughter because she gets tired of the same old thing day after day. Not the best use of my time!

Plus, now, because we have a new "routine" after school, the snacks have to be something I can easily pack to take to the park for our "After School Picnic." One of the best parts about our neighborhood is that it's right around the corner from my daughter's school and there is an adorable park right between our house and the school. To my daughter this is the best thing in the world because it means that she has a new, fun place to eat her snacks and she can go play on the swings after she's done. Could life get any better for a 7-year-old?



While we were picking up a few things at Walmart the other day, we stumbled into the freezer section and took a look around for some easy to make snacks. My daughter wanted the Bagel Bites because she said she has loved them ever since her school served them for lunch one day, and I wanted the Delimex beef & cheese Taquitos because, well, they looked delicious... Plus, I knew these would be an easy-to-eat, not-so-messy snack for my 14-month-old.


As you can see, she was pretty thrilled about these snacks.


I love having my freezer stocked! Right now it's full of veggies, popsicles and, now, these easy to make snacks!


Not only are Bagel Bites delicious and cute, they are also made with real cheese, homemade sauce and they have 0g trans fat. Not too shabby!


Luckily, the Taquitos and the Bagel Bites both cook at 400 degrees, so I was able to throw them on a baking sheet together! Hooray for only using 1 baking sheet!

I packed our Delimex Taquitos and our Bagel Bites in foil so they'd stay nice and hot during the trip! I love this picture of her enjoying her snack because it looks like she was giving it a thumbs up!


My daughter and I both really love spending time at the park right after school. There's something relaxing about it, and it really helps her unwind after a day packed full of learning. I always ask her what she did that day and make sure everything is going well with her schoolwork, friends and teacher. I like her to be able to tell me anything; the good, the bad and the ugly. I think it's important that your kids feel comfortable talking to you about everything going on in their lives and it definitely makes a stronger bond between you and your children!

Post-snack fun! This is why the park makes the best place to enjoy a snack! The kids can run and play while burning off that insane amount of energy they have after they eat! Plus, it gives mom a chance to relax and maybe even read a book! It's a total win-win situation!



Friday, July 25, 2014

Grilled Sweet Chili Pork Chops



My dear hubby and I are always trying to come up with fun, new options for dinner here in our casa. Rather than the same old spaghetti, tacos and chili dogs, we opt for things like chicken tikka masala, barbecued pork ribs and ribeyes with onion & blue cheese sauce. What can I say -- we like to keep things interesting. 

This summer, we've decided to make something that we can cross off our #PorkBucketList. That's right, thanks to the National Pork Board, there's a pork bucket list. If you haven't crossed something off of it this summer, well, then, it's time! This summer we've crossed off "grilled pork chops," and i'm so glad we did. We are huge pork chop fans in our family, but for some reason, we've never taken them to the grill! 


But that's all different now... Now that we've seen how amazingly tender and juicy and flavorful they are, I'm not sure if we will be able to resist grilling every pork chop from now on.

Plus, after we grilled them, we brushed on a deliciously sweet and only somewhat spicy sweet chili sauce that will knock your socks off! Or, for the summer equivalent, your flip flops. The next time you're looking for something different to grill, give these babies a try! You will not be disappointed.


Grilled Sweet Chili Pork Chops:

Ingredients:

  • 6 {thick}  boneless pork chops


For the brine:
  • 10 cups water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper


Sweet Chili Sauce:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 {small} red chili pepper, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Directions:

Place pork chops in brine for at least 30 minutes before placing on the grill. 

Prepare charcoal for indirect cooking.Prepare your BBQ for indirect cooking. You can do this by either raking the hot briquettes to each side of the meat, or by stacking the charcoal to one side and placing the ribs over the other side (or "cold" side of the grill). This is very important in keeping the meat from overcooking and becoming dry and burnt. You want it to cook slowly with no heat directly below.

Remove chops from brine and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place chops on hot side of grill, grill for 2-3 minutes per side, then move over to "cold" side. Cover and cook until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees {approximately 14-16 minutes.}

Place sauce ingredients, minus the cornstarch, in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook sauce for about 5-6 minutes then sprinkle in cornstarch while whisking quickly to incorporate into sauce, leaving no lumps. Place sauce in a small bowl, cover and set aside until ready to use.

Generously brush {or pour} sauce over pork chops and serve.

Makes 6 pork chops.
















Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A "Day of Bubbles" with Juicy Fruit


This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #JuicyFruitFunSide #CollectiveBias


Summer is a time to relax, sleep in and enjoy a time when there doesn't *have* to be structure. It's also a time when parents desperately try to find things to keep their kids (and themselves!) entertained. This summer, some of our family moved back into the area and my daughter has been completely overjoyed. She loves spending time with her cousins, which is why I came up with a fun idea for a little summer get-together involving some chewing gum, some bubbles and some milk...


After swim practice one day we decided to head to the store to pick up our supplies for our "Day of Bubbles." We headed to Walmart because we had heard about the new Juicy Fruit gums that had come out and were curious if they would be as amazing as the old Juicy Fruit...


We got two different varieties: The bubble gum and the fruit chews. We ended up using the Bubble Gum for the first event in our day of bubbles...

As you can tell, the girls were psyched and ready to go!


ROUND 1:

Bubble blowing contest! I love their concentration faces. They took this bubble blowing very seriously, as you can tell... I even dragged my older niece into this round because I knew she could take on the younger girls!


My daughter blew the tiniest, most adorable bubbles, while her cousin really mastered the art and blew some pretty huge bubbles!


She ended up winning this round!


ROUND 2:

Soap bubbles! In this round all 4 girls were able to compete... Who doesn't love blowing bubbles? Seriously? My 1-year-old ran around and popped all the bubbles almost as fast as they could blow them!



Even though they were heavily competing, they still love each other very much. I promise

This round was a tough one, as my two oldest nieces were neck and neck... But my *almost* 10-year-old niece ended up winning this round, too! She's got quite the competitive streak in her!



ROUND 3:

The final round was the messiest of all rounds... the milk bubble round. It was super fun to watch, though. My oldest niece decided she would sit this one out, so the other 3 girls gave it their all. My daughter ended up winning this round, since her milk bubbles were enormous, and her milk was gone first.

The "Day of Bubbles" was a huge success and all the girls had a ton of fun! It was a great way to pass some time on a lazy summer afternoon! 


Afterwards, we all celebrated by having a piece of the Juicy Fruit Fruit Chews Strawberry chewing gum and we were all super impressed. So impressed, in fact, that we actually all ended up having 2 pieces... Which is totally fine because there are 40 pieces in each bottle! It might be my new favorite gum... okay, it is my new favorite gum. Plus, the bottle makes it easy for sharing and throwing in your purse when you're done! 

Make sure to check your local Walmart for some fun Juicy Fruit Demos that will be coming your way this summer! 

What's your favorite fun Summer activity to do with the kids?


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Thai Chicken Wings


Is your husband completely obsessed with Chicken Wings like my husband is? I love the guy, but seriously, something's not right with him... I don't even bother asking him what he wants for dinner anymore, because I already know what the answer is. Chicken wings.

I love you, dear, sweet, husband... which is why I am on a mission to make every kind of chicken wing imaginable! Now that i've made that clear, I'm just going to sit back and wait for my "Wife of the Year" award to come in the mail.

If there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's that... food makes people happy! It's there when we need comfort, it's there when we want to celebrate something and it's there when we're visiting with friends we haven't seen in years. Making someone their favorite meal is a great way to show them you care, bringing a neighbor a fresh loaf of homemade bread is a great way to welcome them to the neighborhood, mailing me a couple dozen chocolate chip cookies is a fabulous way to say "hey, you're awesome." Overall, food is just a great way to show appreciation, love and all that other good stuff.

So, basically, what I'm saying here is that... if you have someone in your life that loves chicken wings or thai food... make them these wings. That's it. Plain and simple! I probably should have just started out by saying that...





Thai Chicken Wings:

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds chicken wings
Sauce:
  • 1 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flake
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons crushed peanuts
  • Oil for frying
Directions:


In a dutch oven or deep fryer, heat oil to 375 degrees.

Place chicken wings in the oil (about 10 at a time) and cook until golden brown and juices run clear (about 10-12 minutes). Remove and place on paper towels to drain.

While wings are frying, in a food processor, combine all sauce ingredients and pulse until well combined. Place sauce into medium pot and cook over medium heat until bubbly (about 3 minutes).

Toss wings in sauce, until completely coated, place on serving platter and sprinkle with crushed peanuts.

Serve to excited husband (boyfriend, girlfriend, son, daughter, etc.)



Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Budget Friendly Meals: BBQ Pork and Macaroni and Cheese Taquitos

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias #RollIntoSavings




Now that the temperatures here in California have been over 100 degrees almost every day this week, I have been desperately trying to stay away from my oven. I mean, I love my oven, don't get me wrong, but I just can't possibly imagine cranking it on and allowing it to send my precious cold air away. No, thank you. During the hot months when I'm trying to come up with Summer meals, I'm always looking to create simple dinners that require any cooking source other than my oven. Crockpots are great, stove is fine, and I would probably even consider turning my car into an oven and baking some cookies (like I've seen on Pinterest so many times). 




This past week while I was shopping at Walmart, I noticed that a lot of the Kraft products were on Rollback and were begging to come home with me. 




I'm always looking for great deals so that I can create budget friendly meals as it seems most people are always looking for ways to save money and a lot of people have financial "tight times" around the 1st and 15th of the month.

First I scanned the meat aisle to find something that stood out to me... they had these little, adorable pork roasts for $5 that I knew would be perfect in the crockpot. I grabbed some tortillas, Velveeta shredded cheese, some Velveeta Shells & Cheese, Kraft BBQ Sauce and Kraft Ranch Dressing to complete my delicious little dinner idea...




The first thing I did was throw my cute little pork roast in the crockpot along with a cup of beef broth for flavor! I cooked it on high for about 4 hours and it was perfectly tender and shreddable!


Next, I mixed in a bottle of Kraft Original BBQ sauce! Summer... BBQ sauce... it just works for me! 



Then I threw a box of Velveeta Shells & Cheese into my boiling water and cooked it according to the package directions: 9 minutes, drain, mix in the cheese sauce! Couldn't be easier. Seriously. 



Then, I sprinkled my tortillas with the Velveeta shredded cheese, topped it with 2 tablespoons of the BBQ pork and one heaping tablespoon of the Shells & Cheese. Doesn't that look good enough to eat? It should... since that's exactly what you're supposed to do with it!


Now, roll 'em up! They're kind of fat for taquitos... and that almost makes me love them even more. Nothing wrong with a big, fat taquito, right? I guess it might be considered more of a Flauta and not a taquito... buuuut we'll just ignore that little fact since most people call anything rolled in a tortilla and baked (or fried) a taquito. ;)



Now, I could have baked these... I could have. But then I would be breaking my rule... and we just couldn't have that, could we? Of course not! So, instead, I sprayed my cast iron skillet with a little nonstick spray, cranked the heat up to medium, and browned them on both sides.



Gotta have the ranch dipping sauce! You could even add in a little sour cream, if you're into that sort of thing. 


Bam! BBQ Pork & Mac and Cheese Taquitos! Double Bam! Triple Bam! 


Now, that's lovely. My hubby, daughter and son all gave these 2 enthusiastic thumbs up, with a quick request for more. Well, my son didn't exactly say much, since he's 1, but he did finish his entire plate and didn't try to feed any to the dog! That's how you know he likes it. Much too good for doggies!

This meal is super easy to make and would be easy (and fun!) for kids to put together! It's also a pretty frugal Budget recipe that won't break the bank! Everything ended up costing less than $20! It was actually closer to $15! Yay! 

What's your favorite budget friendly meal to make at home?


--------------------------------------------------

BBQ Pork & Mac and Cheese Taquitos:

Ingredients:
  • 2 pound pork loin roast
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 bottle Kraft Original BBQ Sauce
  • 1 box Velveeta Shells & Cheese
  • 10 flour tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded Velveeta cheese
  • *Kraft Ranch Dressing for dipping


Directions:

Place pork roast and beef broth in crockpot and cook on high for 4 hours. Remove from crockpot, shred and mix in BBQ sauce.

Meanwhile, cook Velveeta Shells & Cheese according to package directions. Drain, mix in cheese sauce and set aside.

Sprinkle about 3 tablespoons of shredded Velveeta cheese on a tortilla. Top it with about 2 tablespoons of pork mixture, followed by 1 heaping tablespoon of the shells and cheese. Roll tightly and repeat with remaining tortillas.

In a skillet, over medium heat, spray a little nonstick cooking spray and place a couple taquitos in the center. Once browned, flip and cook until the other side browns, about 1-1/2 - 2 minutes. Repeat until all taquitos are browned.

Cut each taquito in half at an angle, and serve with ranch dressing.

Makes 10 taquitos.




Monday, July 7, 2014

Have a #goodnightsnack and movie night with your family! #cbias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias


One of my favorite things about our family is how much we love creating memories and having fun together. We are a family full of silly, goofy people that love to laugh and have a good time, whether it be outside playing in the yard, inside playing board games or even just watching a movie.



We also have one very important and special thing in common, and that is a love of cereal. When I was pregnant with my son, cereal is one of the things I wanted all. the. time. Morning, noon, night... it didn't matter when, I just wanted my bowl of cereal! My daughter shares my love for cereal and now my son is showing signs of becoming a cereal addict, too. Welcome to the club, son...


Whenever we head out to Walmart we always spend a good amount of time walking down the cereal aisle to see what pops out at us. But, it seems like no matter how long we spend there we usually end up going with our favorites: Frosted Flakes (my favorite!), fruit loops (son's and daughter's favorite!) and apple jacks (husband's favorite!)
It's always good to have a bunch of cereal boxes on hand because one of our new favorite activities as a family is making fun things out of cereal boxes.  We've made mailboxes, jewelry boxes and cars so far and for our next creation we've decided to create a cute little plane that can drop our cereal into our bowl for our Cereal Movie Night! 


The first thing we did was cut out a wing shape from the back of the box all the way to the sides of the box.


We folded them open, then we opened both ends of the cereal box. At one end we cut off the "tab," made a large hole where we could pour out our cereal and taped it. (Make sure to open the bag before taping it!) 


At the other end, we folded one of the flaps into a point and attached a propeller and taped the bottom piece  back into place. So cool!




Our plane delivering the cereal! 

Speaking of Planes, specially marked boxes of Kellogg's cereals have a special Planes Fire & Rescue coupon promotion! There are 5 different coupons on the box for Planes themed items, which is awesome because my son is obsessed with his little bowl that has Dusty from the movie Planes on it. (We are so going to pick some up later this week!) He loves eating his cereal out of it in the morning and he loves carrying it around and collecting his toys in it, too. Dual purpose! My daughter just loves the fact that she's old enough to use to a normal sized bowl which means more cereal for her. I swear she would live off the stuff if we let her. 


Enjoying his favorite night time treat!



Watching movies together and enjoying their last hour before bed.



What's your favorite Kellogg's cereal to snack on?

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