Friday, July 15, 2011

Simple Foods: Healthy Mexican Skillet

Wow, how fast a week goes by!  Summer activities have been keeping our family busy, and the days have slipped away from me.

Last week I wanted to share with you a great new recipe I stumbled over.  Better late than never, right?  I'm always on the hunt for recipes to feed my family that are frugal, easy to prepare, and match our uncomplicated tastes.  We like simple, tasteful, quick to fix foods around here.  And when I found this recipe for Healthy Mexican Skillet, I knew right away that it would be a good match for our dinner table.  Here's how to make it:

Healthy Mexican Skillet


1lb lean ground turkey
15oz. jar mild or medium salsa
1 can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups water (sometimes I use 2 cups)
2 cups elbow macaroni
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese

Preparation Instructions:

Brown turkey over medium heat until no longer pink.  Drain and return to pan.

Add salsa, tomato sauce and water; bring to a boil. 

Reduce heat, add macaroni and corn, and let simmer for 12 to 14 minutes, or until macaroni is tender.

Remove from heat, top with shredded cheese, and enjoy!

    One of the best things about this recipe is that its so versatile!  We change it up by serving it with sour cream, refried beans or even tortilla shells.  And its so darn quick!  As long as I keep the ingredients on hand, I'm always ready to whip dinner together on a busy evening.

    The best part?  The kids LOVE it and always ask for seconds.  That's a recipe slam dunk in my book!


    Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    Why I Love Wednesdays

    Tim Tam Slam ice cream
    Come to Mama!  (Photo Credit: joyosity on Flickr)
    I love Wednesday nights.

    My husband's work schedule requires him to rise and shine on Thursdays at the ungodly hour of three a.m.  On Wednesday nights, if all is going to plan he's in bed and snoring away by seven.  Then it's up to me to pack the kids into bed with a minimum of fuss and noise, so Wednesday nights are normally spent in front of the TV as a reward if the kids keep quiet.  Then they're off to bed by eight, and I'm alone.

    Alone. A-L-O-N-E.

    Oh, the bliss!  Peace!  Quiet!

    On Wednesday nights, I can do things like... grown up TV shows!  No more Dora or Dragontails.  (Or even worse, Power Rangers...) ice cream without having to share!

    ...stretch out on the couch without worrying about a three year old flying off the arm of the couch onto my head.

    ...string two thoughts together that make sense!  It's hard doing any critical thinking while the kids are running circles around me all day. 

    But most of all, Wednesday nights are a chance for me to "unplug" and recharge my Mommy batteries, to get rid of all the stress I've been carrying around for the week so I can wake up with a smile on my face and kind words on my tongue.  A few hours to myself make a better Mama for the rest of the week, and I'm sure my kids appreciate that.

    Tuesday, July 5, 2011

    Post Holiday Hangover

    No, no...not that kind of hangover.  This nursing mama rarely gets to enjoy a nice cocktail, though I did indulge in a (small!) pina colada this weekend.  I'm a sucker for anything tropical.

    What I want to be doing today. (photo credit: liquene on Flickr)

    I'll be truthful.  I'm a homebody, and holidays and family gatherings sometimes take it out of me.  I do love my family.  I adore them, most of the time.  And it really is fun when we get together to hangout, eat good food, and play a game of corn hole or badminton.  But there is something about an entire day of socializing, the kids being out of their element and out of routine, and every part of the day being off schedule that is just so...exhausting.

    So this morning, I was glad to wake up and have nowhere to go.  No one to visit and nothing to do.  Other than rescue my house from a long weekend of no housework, that is.

    I would love to spend the evening curled up with my Kobo and the cat, reading and relaxing to my heart's content, but for now I'm just reveling in the comfort of my daily routine.

    Wash.  Wipe down.  Pickup.  Tidy.  Straighten.  Repeat.

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    All Those Books, Part 2: What Now?

    A few days ago, I wrote about how being gifted with an eReader has changed my life in a small, but pretty significant way, by allowing me to "let go" of all the books on my bookshelves.

    But now that I've purged my bookshelves, what am I supposed to do with the books that used to live on them?

    What to do with all these books?

    I figure I have a few choices.  I could toss them, but for a book lover like me, throwing a book in the trash can is nearly akin to tossing a defenseless kitten into a raging river - unthinkable!  Not to mention incredibly wasteful.  So, tossing them is out.

    I could donate them.  The local library always needs books, after all.

    I could sell them in the tag sale we have coming up in a week or so.  But, then I'd have to sort them, price them, and try to sell them.  And if I'm lucky, I might get a quarter each out of them.

    I was really leaning toward the donate option when a poster on a Thrifty forum I frequent let me know about Amazon's trade in program.

    What?  What's that, you say?

    You mean Amazon will buy back old books that I no longer want?  AND I don't have to pay for shipping??

    Really, this sounded too good to be true.  But, I thought I'd check it out before I toted five and a half boxes of (very heavy!) books to the library on the other side of the county. 

    Here's how the program works:
    1. First you visit Amazon's Trade In page.  
    2. Type the ISBN, Title, or Author's name of the book you want to sell into the search bar.
    3. If the correct edition of your book is available to sell back, add it to your list.  Continue adding as many books as you'd like (up to $750 worth).
    4. Submit your titles to Amazon, and print out the prepaid shipping label.  
    5. Have the books in the mail to Amazon within seven days and receive store credit once they are received.  
    Sounds simple enough, doesn't it?  But I wondered if it was really worth it.  I mean, with kids running around the house, do I really have time to sit at the computer and enter in dozens of ISBN numbers on the off chance that I might only be paid $0.50 for a book?  I chose five books from the "get rid of" pile and set about to see what Amazon thought they were worth.  To my surprise, Amazon wanted to pay me $15.60 for these five titles!  That's nearly $4.00 per title, and well worth the effort in my opinion. 

    Naturally, all of the books I've chosen to get rid of won't qualify for the trade in program, but if I can sell back a small fraction of them, I'll be happy.  And, I'll have money (in the form of store credit) that I can use to buy holiday gifts this year!  The books that don't qualify will end up at the library, if I don't have a tag sale first. 

    I've yet to finish my trade-in transaction, but I'm looking forward to sending off my first box of books this week.  I'll let you know how it goes!