New Recipe: Chipotle Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

This is a super easy, yummy recipe. My kids love it because it’s cheesy, and vegetarian (important for my big kid). I’m making a big batch for dinner this week, with plenty of leftovers!

It freezes well so you can make a bigger batch and have some for later.

Chipotle Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag MorningStar Farms® Chipotle Black Bean Crumbles (12 oz)
  • 3 cups cheese, divided (I use Mexican blend)
  • 1 large (28 oz) enchilada sauce (I like green)
  • 16-19 corn tortillas, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 bag (12 oz-ish) fajita blend (that’s onions and peppers)
  • spray release

Directions:

  1. Spray a 9×11 baking dish with spray release.
  2. Layer torn tortillas, black bean crumbles, fajitas blend, tortillas, sauce, and cheese.
  3. Layer until pan is filled, top with cheese.
  4. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until bubbly.
  5. Remove foil and continue to bake for 10-15 minutes until the top is brown and bubbly.

Serve with sour cream, salsa, and diced black olives (optional, but a family favorite). I serve with a Mexican Caesar Salad, or Cilantro Lime Rice-a-Roni.

To make this dish vegan, use vegan cheese.

Mexican Cesar Salad

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 cups of your favorite lettuce/lettuce blend (romaine and bibb is great!)
  • 2 tomatoes cubed/sliced
  • ½ cup purple onion, cut into rings
  • 1 small can corn, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ c ranch dressing
  • ½ c your favorite salsa

Directions:

  1. Combine the salsa and ranch together, chill in fridge 6-8 hours before servings. This allows the flavors to blend.
  2. Toss the veggies in a chilled salad bowl with the dressing.
  3. Top with ¼ c crushed corn chips/tortilla chips for some added crunch!

Serve topped with grilled chicken breasts for an entree or without meat as a side dish.  Serves 3 as an entree, serves 6 as a side dish.

 

3/1/2021 Weekly Meal Plan

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I’m up to my eyeballs in soup! Looking through the freezer to do the meal plan for this week, I discovered that I’ve got 3 different kinds of soup in the freezer.

So on Tuesday we’re having beans and rice OR soup to go with our quesadillas. The kids will probably pick the beans and rice.

I went to the grocery store on Friday for milk, eggs, cheese, and bread. We were still good on everything else. We’re almost out of meat in the freezer, but the meat sales aren’t too great during Lent. I’ll keep my eyes open, but we may be eating more meat free meals until after Easter. That’s part of shopping and meal planning around what is on sale, rolling with the punches, and eating what’s on sale and in season.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for a kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids.  The kids are nuts about pancakes. The Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM.

Lunch: The little kiddo and I usually have something quick and filling (I’ve been prepping bean and rice bowls on Sundays for us to have during week) so we can get back to our adventures.  Big kid takes his lunch to school.

Dinner: Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

  • Sunday:  Flavors of East Africa (we’re getting take out)
  • Monday: Salad, Black Bean Burgers on rolls
  • Tuesday:  Quesadillas, and beans and rice OR Soup
  • Wednesday: Nugget Night with veggies, fruit salad, and cheezits
  • Thursday: Quiche, toast, and fruit salad
  • Friday:  Pizza Night!
  • Saturday: Leftover Fiesta

Please stay safe you guys! The sooner we flatten the curve, the sooner life can go back to normal- whatever that means.

Talk Back: What are you cooking for dinner this week?

Tips to Reign In An Out Of Control Family Budget: Let’s Start in the Kitchen!

707538835876fc5c438018d57701bc2f.jpgUntil the end of the year, I’ll be posting some articles with realistic tips and methods to save money and reign in spending. None of these are going to the same old “Clip coupons, grow your own garden, etc.” that’s all over the internet- and honestly, here in Southern California, the old, standby advice isn’t going to help you. Grow a garden to save money? Water is so expensive here!

Clipping coupons and shopping grocery store sales/circulars will save you a fraction of the amount that it used to. In years past, I was saving 60-80% with coupons and store sales. Now, I’m lucky to save 50%.  With all of the restrictions on coupons (example: limit one like coupon per day- LAME), stockpiling to save money isn’t always possible without a lot of work/trips to different stores (and that’s not saving time). We’re moving past that, and delving into other ways to save money and take advantage of opportunities that are out there.

Today we are going to start with my pet project: Saving in the kitchen! If you feel like you’re spending too much money on food and groceries, here are my recommendations for getting the grocery spending under control:

  1. Go through your refrigerator/freezer and pantry. Make a note of the food that you have on hand. I like using the kitchen inventories here. This will also give you an opportunity to clean out food from the kitchen that has expired or that you won’t eat. Unexpired food that you won’t eat, can be donated to a local charity.
  2. Now that you have a handle on what you have in your kitchen, take a look at the list and come up with some recipes or meals that can be created with what you have on hand. You’d be surprised by how many meals you have in your kitchen! Make a list of the meals that you can make with what you have. And plan on having one or two of those per week. This will help keep grocery spending down. Make a list of meals that you can make but require one or two ingredients (like fresh vegetables), and add those ingredients to your next few shopping lists. By relying on what you already have in your home, you will be keeping your out of pocket down.
  3. Before you head to the store, take a look at the sale flyer which is available online, and see what is on sale. Plan meals around food that is in season and on sale. Continue to use coupons, but don’t go out of your way to subscribe to multiple newspapers per week to get a hold of lots of the same coupons.  Don’t forget rebate apps! Use of these apps gets us $10-$20/month cashback, sometimes double that, depending on what bonus offers are available- Fetch Rewards and Ibotta often have Bonus offers.
  4. Track your spending over a few weeks to see how much you are spending, and what you are buying. If you still find that you’re spending a lot of money on food, I would try shopping at a different store. I find that even with club card sales, and rebate apps like Fetch Rewards, some grocery stores (like Vons) are just too expensive to do my weekly shopping. I love starting my shopping at $.99 only. I am able to get a lot of snacks, name-brand treats, and fresh fruits and veggies there, and I am still able to stay on budget. Another fun place where I save money is Grocery Outlet. They have great prices on cheese, fruit juice, coffee, and frozen meat. They also have an interesting selection that changes weekly: snack food, protein bars/cookies, and cereal. If you are in the military, a military family, or a veteran, consider shopping at the commissary. Here is my article about saving money at the commissary. 
  5. Consider cooking more from scratch. It is healthier, and pantry stables are generally pretty cheap (the ingredients for a batch of chocolate chip cookies runs about $3.00 and yields 4-5 dozen cookies, while a package of chocolate chip cookies from the grocery store is about $4.00+ and is usually 3 dozen or so).  I buy fruits and veggies whole and break them down and pack them into serving size bags. You can learn more about that and Batch Cooking here.

If you are still having a hard time keeping your grocery budget in check, or if you are finding that the ends don’t meet, consider the San Diego Food Bank Neighborhood Distribution Program. No documentation is needed to receive food assistance from a
Neighborhood Distribution site where people can receive fresh fruits, vegetables, and bread, based on availability. Families are encouraged to bring reusable bags or
a cart with them to carry the food items.

There are programs out there to help those struggling to feed their families here in San Diego County. Here is my list of San Diego County Food Resources.

I work very hard to keep my family on a budget, I work very hard to make sure that we are saving money and taking advantage of as many deals and opportunities that present themself. I know that this is not something that everyone wants to do or something that everyone can do. There are so many programs and discounts out there available for various groups of individuals.

Tomorrow, we’re tackling saving money on the entertainment budget.

Fall Recipe Round-Up!

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Thanksgiving in the US is just a few days away, and for most of us, it means cooking a HUGE feast to share with family or friends.

I wanted to share with you some of my family’s favorite fall recipes- They are all pretty tasty, and easy to make. Some are great for Thanksgiving dinner, and some are just tasty fall recipes.

10/17/19 National Pasta Day!

d885edea4dac6850a5f9bdde459b5c86.jpgDid you know that 10/17/19 is National Pasta Day?

I didn’t. There aren’t tons of freebies. Like… None.

Olive Garden has some sort of shenanigans going on via Twitter, but ain’t nobody got time for that. IF you sign up for their email club, you can get a free app or dessert.

For those of us who don’t have time to chase deals, and want to eat a bowl of plain ‘skettis at home, here are some yummy pasta recipes to try:

The kids have requested Mac and Cheese for dinner- so we’re celebrating!