Shredded Beef Tacos

In the last few weeks we’ve had dinner over at a friends house a couple of times. Specifically the person who was my best friend in middle school. We’ve known each other for somewhere around 20 years. A really long time when you’re 32. Crockpot cooking seems like it might be a staple since her husband does freelance video work, and she’s currently a producer at a local TV station and will soon to be a 911 operator in training! The last dinner was shredded chipotle pork tacos, but she fried the corn tortillas and sprinkled them with the powdered parmesan like a local taco stand does.

It. is. amazing.

David typically doesn’t eat pork out of personal preference, so I got a nice looking chuck roast on sale last week. Now it’s insanely easy, but I did manage to mess it up, but I’ll explain that after the fact in the form of a “Do as I say, not as I do” type warning. Also my friend used the Dr. Pepper method for her pork. Being a total lush as of late, I used beer. Okay and we don’t drink soda typically. David got an amazing coffee stout that I divided in half for the 2 roasts I got (one went into the freezer to be used next week).

Gingham Apron // Shredded Beef Tacos

Shredded Beef Tacos

1 Beef chuck roast, about 2-3 pounds
1 Bottle of beer, a good dark stout is best
3 Chipotle peppers and adobo from container

Corn tortillas
Oil
Powdered parmesan cheese
Shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped romaine lettuce
Black olives
Refried Beans
Sour cream

Place the roast into the crockpot.

Use toothpicks to secure the 3 chipotle peppers to the roast

Pour beer over the chipotle adorned roast.

Cook on high for 6+ hours, or until the roast shreds easily.

After the meat is shredded use a frying pan to heat enough oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan. Place a tortilla in the pan and place a few tablespoons of shredded meat on one half of the tortilla, quickly fold the taco in half before it start to crisp up. Let the taco get golden and crunchy on both sides before moving it to a tray with a towel to absorb excess oil. Sprinkle with parmesan, and keep making delicious tacos! Add cheese, lettuce, refried beans, black olives, sour cream, or more chipotles if you’re deranged (or David).

I can have 3 folded tacos in my medium frying pan with no issues at one time, because doing one at a time would be painfully long.

As I promised … a warning … Do NOT use the whole can of chipotles. That’s like 8-10 chipotles too many, and it makes the sauce almost unusable. The girls in no way appreciated the spice level of the sauce, so the taco meat was a little drier than it should have been. David managed to make my fuck up tolerable by adding some tomato sauce. That guy is always saving my ass in the kitchen. 😛

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Homemade Skyline Chili Recipe

I lived just outside of Cincinnati when I was little. My first real concert was at Riverfront Stadium. Yes, it was New Kids on the Block. I was like 9 or 10. Which frankly scares the crap out of me since Nola is the exact same age, but I digress. I distinctly remember Ollie’s Trolley from visiting my dad at work downtown, but honestly I don’t remember Skyline. Horrible to admit, I know. Somehow in the past few years David has come to like the only variety available to us here in Nevada… cans. Specifically 8 cans for $60. That’s $7.50 a can! O_O

By the time you’ve fed 4 people that devour Skyline Chili you’ve used 2 cans. That’s $15 and you’ve not even gotten the spaghetti, onions, or shredded cheese. I have most of the ingredients on hand at all times already. There is one big change I’ve made to the recipe I found, and that is the type of meat I use. Ground turkey has become more of a staple around here and so that’s what I used. I don’t think it made that much of a difference in taste, and visually you can’t tell either. It still gets consumed at break neck speeds here.

Skyline

Skyline Chili from Tornado Ali @ Food.com – Slight changes by me. 😉

1.25 lbs ground turkey (Jennie-O packs are 1.25 pounds)
2 cups chopped onion
4 cups beef broth
15 ounces tomato sauce
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp cocoa
2 tsps instant minced garlic
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I omit this, kids and all)
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 bay leaf

1 package spaghetti noodles

Toppings
Onion, finely chopped
Cheddar cheese, finely shredded

Chop 2 cups of onions. I usually use an entire onion and call it good.

In a large pan, I use my enamel dutch oven, cook turkey meat. Brown if at all possible, and do *not* drain. Add onion an cook a few minutes longer.

While turkey is cooking measure all dry ingredients into a bowl. I use Better Than Bullion for the beef broth, and add the vinegar and Worcestershire sauce to that.

Add all remaining ingredients to cooked meat and tender onions. Let simmer until sauce has reduced quite a bit. It can take 60 to 90 minutes. I do use 3/4 of a pound LESS meat than what the original recipe states, so the liquid has to cook down more, but it turned out quite good. David really likes how the sauce cooks down and there is more flavor.

Once the chili is nearly done simmering down, get your spaghetti cooked.

Top spaghetti with a scoop of chili, then top the chili with the finely chopped onions, then top the onions with finely shredded cheese. This my friends is what is called a “4-way”. Sophia prefers the “3-way” since she does not like raw onions (she somehow fails to realize there are onions IN the meat… don’t tell her). I know you can get beans with it, but frankly that just seems sacrilegious.

Try not to become too addicted.

I know that for some spaghetti and chili might seem weird. Okay, chili with cocoa powder might be really weird too, but it’s awesome. It’s not always a dish that is loved instantly. It’s taken Sophia two years to get to the point where she enjoys eating, and is still kind of ambivalent if I try to pretend I don’t want to make Skyline for dinner. Nola … well, she’ll go into near hysterics at the notion of making something else. At least it’s something everyone will eat without complaint I suppose. 😛

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Roasted Chickpeas

We like chickpeas in this house. Curry and hummus are the two standard methods of consumption. I’d had roasted chickpeas come across my Pinterest a time or two and thought nothing of it.  After soaking and cooking up a batch for curry a few nights ago I decided to extras would make a good test batch.

Aside from the fact that I think I let them go in the oven a little too long (15 minutes longer than I say in the directions), they were really good. My advice would be to play around with the seasonings! I bet curry would be lovely.

RoastedChickpeas

Roasted Chickpeas

1-2 cups chickpeas, cooked
1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Seasonings – All to taste
Salt
Pepper
Smoked Paprika

Heat oven to 425° F.

Combine the olive oil and chickpeas in a Ziploc bag and shake to evenly coat chickpeas with. Add some salt, pepper, and smoked paprika then shake again to coat the chickpeas with seasoning. Dump the contents of the Ziploc bag onto a cookie sheet lined with tinfoil. Make sure the chickpeas are in a single layer to ensure even cooking.

Bake for 15 minutes then shake the pan to move the chickpeas around, bake for 15 more minutes.

Allow to cool as not to burn your tongue (like I did).

Enjoy!

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Lego Friends aren’t hurting my girls…

I woke up yesterday morning to my daughters playing. It’s pretty typical of a weekend that they are up well before David and I, and likely already gone downstairs and helped themselves to breakfast. I love how capable they are at doing things for themselves now! Sometime around 8am I realized they were “going to the moon” and then Nola launched something down the stairs … The distinct sound of Legos coming apart was the only sound followed by a nonchalant “whoops” and some other very dry comment. Nola’s sense of humor and attitude is quickly developing and she’s already got smartass nailed.

That comment was quickly followed up with a small voice saying “Heeey that was special! Daddy and I made it.” Nola assured Sophia that it could be remade, which sounded exactly like what I had said to my friends son Friday night when he broke a Lego ship. Nola had attempted to help him rebuild then too.

This is Sophia's room - Spongebob is sleeping, Princess Peach is clearly being a stalker, and a Lego Friend is cruising in her custom ride.  Also there's a totally destroyed bookcase in the back, with books that have been consumed with gusto - at 9pm when Sophia *should* be sleeping.  :P

This is Sophia’s room – Spongebob is sleeping, Princess Peach is clearly being a stalker, and a Lego Friend is cruising in her custom ride. Also there’s a totally destroyed bookcase in the back, with books that have been consumed with gusto – at 9pm when Sophia *should* be sleeping. 😛

A few hours later the girls were playing Harry Potter. Sophia was apparently in Hufflepuff. An hour after that Nola informed me she wanted to learn how to sew a waistband into a skirt. And another few hours later involved some Rainbow Loom ties being created. In all there were creations “sewn” from Kleenex, a braided necklace made, books about Titanic and penguins were read, and Rainbow Loom creations came into existence (and rubber bands were scattered around the house, again). You know … A very normal day in a house with two little girls with imaginations that clearly can take them to the moon at 8am.

I’m writing this in part because I want to remember the details, and because it was amusing and I loved it. Also because it made me think. A few weeks ago I read something about how horrid those pink and purple Legos are. How girls 30 years ago didn’t have pink Legos, just the “normal” ones. 30 years ago was the start of my pre-school years, and those toys they speak of were my toys. Now granted there is no way in hell anyone could confuse me for being overly girly, and those who know me well are deeply amused by my having two VERY girly-girls. 10 years ago when I was pregnant with Nola I vowed no pink and no princess.

We see how far I got with that. *sigh*

This is a little snapshot of Nola's room.  Harry Potter, a jewelry box, a tiara, and a microscope.  I didn't stage any of that, it's how she had it on her toy organizer.  If you were to turn around you'd see a super tidy bookcase, a ukelele, and a chess set.  I had to avoid stepping on the ukelele on the floor though.

This is a little snapshot of Nola’s room. Harry Potter, a jewelry box, a tiara, and a microscope. I didn’t stage any of that, it’s how she had it on her toy organizer. If you were to turn around you’d see a super tidy bookcase, a ukelele, and a chess set. I had to avoid stepping on the ukelele on the floor though.

The thing is – my girls don’t like Ninjago (did I spell that right?). They don’t care about Minecraft. Nola would love to have Star Wars Legos (holy crap are those things expensive) and Sophia has a few Spongebob Lego sets. The Lego Friends sets give them Legos in their favorite colors, and they love all the animals that come with them. Except for the first time the sets were put together I don’t think they’ve been in the intended forms. They build homes, cars, towers … All sorts of things. David even discovered a Lego “bed” on Sophia’s dresser a few weeks ago. It was rudimentary, but she proudly put “Tinkie” to bed on it.

There are hours spent with Daddy on the weekend building from time to time, and it’s loved by them all. I usually use the quiet time to take a relaxing bath, or catch up on cleaning, but I love to watch the 3 of them laying on the bedroom floor creating random works of art. The color of the blocks really doesn’t matter in those moments. If it gets my girls, or any girls for that matter, into building and dreaming things up then who cares that they are pink and purple?

My life is filled with pink and purple… And skirts, dresses, hearts, play jewelry, stuffed animals, baby dolls, Barbies, flowers, doing hair, and fending off requests for nail polish and ear piercings. There are also bumps, bruises, scrapes, stitches, fighting, screaming, hitting, kicking, sports, and holes in knees of jeans … And I wouldn’t trade any of it.

Okay, the fighting and hitting each other can go, I’m over that … And the dramas … So over that.

I’ll keep the Lego Friends, and my two little Hermonie Granger’s, because they are smart, funny, creative, and have awesome imaginations that are not impeded by the color of plastic building blocks.

A Geronimo Stilton book, microscope slides, and Nola's wooden chess set.

A Geronimo Stilton book, microscope slides, and Nola’s wooden chess set.

Every morning a few stuffed animals get tucked in when Sophia makes her bed.  Maybe they're nocturnal and they're keeping Sophia up at night... telling her that she must read.  :P

Every morning a few stuffed animals get tucked in when Sophia makes her bed. Maybe they’re nocturnal and they’re keeping Sophia up at night… telling her that she must read. 😛

Yep. I love those girls.

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I’m back!

Kind of.

We got all the big stuff moved on Saturday and slept here for the first time that night.  Sunday was spent in part getting the last of the big stuff upstairs while we still had the appliance dolly.  The moving truck was returned around noon.  David made another run with the van on Sunday to get the electronics, and I’ve done smaller runs the last 3 days as well.  There is perhaps another small-ish van load worth still in the garage, and a few things in our bedroom left to grab and then we are done moving stuff out!

Tomorrow with the help of my parents (again) I will start cleaning the old place.  I don’t want to leave the evil bag in the office any reason to charge us.  Though due to how much she hates me I’m pretty sure she will anyhow, but I’m going to photograph everything so if she tries to come at me I will be prepared.

David is not loving his longer commute.  I on the other hand already feel so much more relaxed at home even with the moving mess still *very* evident pretty much everywhere.  The girls are loving their own rooms.  I have made dinner every night since Sunday, and I am loving all the extra kitchen space I have.  We’ve had to improvise a bit on some things – like not having an actual pantry, and our bedroom being too small for David’s desk.  I was hoping for a desk free living room, but that didn’t happen.  I’m sure I’ll get over it.  He did put my computer on the desk as well, so I get to use the proper computer chair, so really I can’t complain too much.  😛

Once I’ve got all the crazy tamed I’ll post pictures.  It may be a few weeks.  Girl Scout cookies arrive on Friday, science fair projects are due in just under 2 weeks, we have to officially be out of the old place on the 28th, and the very next day cookie booth sales start for my troop.  Somewhere in there I’m going to squeeze in a sunrise shoot with some of the most awesome photographers I’ve had the pleasure of becoming friends with.

Speaking of… please click the picture below to see my photography blog and our most recent Photowalkers adventure.  🙂

American Flat

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I should be packing…

… and not writing a blog post.  Whoops.

In my defense I’ve been productive!  I will be loading up the van and taking some things to the thrift store in a little while.  I also need to be on the computer for a bit to write up the minutes from last months PTO meeting, because we have one tonight and I apparently have a job that I am tasked with accomplishing.  O_o

I’ve been attempting to keep track of my 2014 in 2014 numbers, but I’ll be honest with as many bags and totes I’ve filled to trash or donate my numbers are likely to be off, and likely not in my favor.  Unless it’s a jar of cinnamon gummies I can’t guesstimate to save my life.  😛

Last post I was at 1,186 items left to go…

I’ve put 3 bags into the trash, 1-2 totes worth of stuff to donate, and 2 stacks of books (one stack to send to my sister, the other to head to donation).

I’ll estimate 250 items total for everything thus far.  My “side table” drawers and closet were small object gold mines.  Also I’m going to finally be taking like 5 years worth of dead batteries to recycling, and like a dozen old prescriptions to the local police department to drop into the med waste bin.

I’M PAST THE HALFWAY MARK!!!!

936 items left to go // 1,078 purged!!

 

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It’s getting real…

David has officially taken care of the two utilities that we have to have in our names by the end of the week, both of which transfer to us on Friday. Also Friday we will be paying the first month of rent and getting the keys. I will do the walk-through Friday during the day, and David will be getting a rental truck after he gets off work. We plan on loading a few big things like our deep freeze and fridge. It will be 8 degrees overnight, so my fear of things melting is not an issue at all. 😛

Friday will also be our last night in this house as Saturday is the big move day.

Today I purged more things and set more things aside to be donated. I also took down all the stuff that was 3M’d the wall in the living room as well as the top of the bookcase. All that remains on the bookcase are 3 highly breakable items that need a little more protection than a clothes basket.

There is SO MUCH to do still.

The numbers since the last update are still triple digit, which isn’t bad considering I had a pretty full weekend.

Whiteboard count is 250 items.

My goal for tomorrow is to hit the halfway mark for the year…

1,186 items left to go // 828 items purged!!

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Parenting Win

In a previous post I mentioned how Nola has been giving me some major proud mommy moments recently. She’s done things like starting to play Imagine by John Lennon on her ukelele, loving music and reading that totally make me feel like we’re not doing nearly as bad at the whole parenting thing as I once thought. Because I’ll be honest, I’ve wondered a time or twenty if we (and by we I mean specifically me) haven’t somehow fucked up our children for life. It would seem that my fears are unfounded. *knock on wood* We’re not into the teen years yet, so I could end up having to eat my words.

That said, it was recently Marten Luther King Jr. Day, and afterwards Nola’s class watched a video about MLK Jr. and what he helped to accomplish. We had just left school and as per usual I asked them both how their day was, and Nola told me about the video and explained some of what she learned from it. My 9 year old 3rd grader was baffled at how people could have been so hateful. She knew that the way people were treated back then was unacceptable. The separate drinking fountains and not being permitted into certain stores, she couldn’t wrap her head around it. She questioned the adults that permitted it to happen, and knew that it was based purely in ignorance.

MY NINE YEAR OLD PEOPLE!!

How does a child have more wisdom than quite a number of adults I’ve met? Perhaps we would be well served by listening to our children when it comes to tolerance and acceptance. While I know there are some children who themselves are perpetuating and fostering hate, because I was bullied by such kids, I think that there are a lot children out there just like my daughter. We just need to sit down, shut up, and let them show us what we’re not seeing.

I don’t know that I was so damned smart at 9. Maybe my parents would say I was, but I don’t remember being so in touch with humanity. Nola has a great head on her shoulders, and a huge heart that I know will lead her to do great things in her life. Yeah, so she isn’t a huge fan of math. She would rather have her headphones on and attempt to knit, crafty kid after my own heart. The last few months have slowly begun to show me what an awesome girl she’s turning out to be, and I couldn’t be more proud.

Now to get the sibling rivalry, selective hearing, and occasional tantrum to come to and end… 😉

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All is love- even math

There is a blog post going viral right now. It’s been all over my Facebook feed in the last 18 hours. It needs to be read. Go read it… I don’t even care if you come back here, just go read it.

Momastery – Share This With All the Schools, Please

I had read this story last night. I’ve since read it two more times.

Sophia was laying in bed with me this morning and telling me how no on wants to play with her at recess. I asked her if she ever asked anyone to play, and she waffled a bit as to if she did or not. She’s afraid of asking one friend to play because she plays with her brother, and she’s unsure about the brother. I asked about another friend who has recess with her now and she tried to explain why she doesn’t really ask if she can play. She said she’s asked others and been told no. I told her that sometimes others will say no, and that’s okay, but at least she asked.

The thing is that while recess may not seem like a big deal to adults it is a HUGE deal to a 6 year old. It’s something she felt she needed to talk to me about during our special snuggle time in the morning while Nola showers. She’s not typically a shy child, and she seems to do just fine in the classroom both socially and academically.

What is the disconnect at recess?

Is it not as bad as she says?

Does her class aide see this?

Does it need to be addressed?

I had a moment of hesitation in considering having a talk with the aide, but after really letting the message of this viral blog post sink in I will be talking to the aide after school today. Sure, it’s just recess, and sure it could be a 6 year old being a little overdramatic … but it’s impacting her. As adults we so easily shrug things off, and we need to remember what it was like when we were kids, and how the things that seem inconsequential now were devastating as a child.

I sent the blog link to the assistant principal of the school, and hopefully she will share with the teachers. Luckily my girls attend a school that for the most part is very open and diverse, so things like clothes and lunches are not typically made fun of. Not like when Nola was in 1st grade and refused to take her favorite foods or wear her Keen sandals to school because kids ruthlessly made fun of her.

As a person who was bullied as a child I think that teacher is truly helping children in ways that would have helped me immensely. I applaud her, and I hope that anyone who cares about the well being of children will help ensure all educators see this Momastery blog post.

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2014 in 2014 Update #3

Well, it looks like moving day is getting bumped up. I’m in no way upset by this obviously. David’s brother will be in town and able to help out the day after we get the keys. So that means we officially start the move a week from tomorrow.

This is me right about now…

SpongebobFreakingOut

My purging is starting to kick into over drive now. Yesterday I had a cute 2 digit number on the whiteboard on the fridge. Tonight it’s a 3 digit number. I fully intend on having another 3 digit number day tomorrow too.

Before I get into specific numbers I must say that Nola went through her clothes and her toys and came back with 25 items for me. Since I know 9 year old do not relinquish personal property easily this is a proud mommy moment for me. It’s just one of many she’s been gracing me with lately, which I need to post about soon, because she’s seriously turning into an awesome girl with a damn good head on her shoulders.

Numbers…

Last time I was at 1,869 items left to go.

My white board count from the last few days is 433 items!

I guessed 200 on a large amount of items. I folded down the back seats in my van, and then filled 3/4 of it, though some was not mine, so I didn’t count that. I also likely underestimated when I cleaned out a tote of random bits. So it surely evens out, if I’m not actually shorting myself.  There was other stuff, like purging my cookbook shelf, Nola’s self regulated purging, and cleaning my bathroom.

1,436 items left to go // 578 items purged!

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