The Five of Us, Spring 2014

The Five of Us, Spring 2014

EASY Yummy Recipes

I was feeling uninspired about meal planning this week, so I got out some of my less-referenced recipe sources. Well, guess what! I hit on a couple of super easy, quite yummy recipes. And now I'm so inspired, I thought I'd share them!

This one literally came together in minutes and got rave reviews from the whole fam. Makes 4 servings, but would be very easy to double for bigger families. I served it with garlic pita chips because that's what I had, but a good bread and maybe a salad (not necessary with the spinach, methinks) would round it out nicely.
8 oz hot Italian sausage
2 c chicken broth
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano (undrained)
1/2 c uncooked mall shell pasta
2 c bagged baby spinach leaves
2 T grated fresh Parmesan or Romano cheese
2 T chopped fresh basil

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove casings from sausage. Add sausage to pan and cook about 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain and return to pan.

Add broth, tomatoes, and pasta (I used these cool star pasta that are supposedly authentic Italian soup pasta--they worked great and cooked even faster than the shells would have!) to pan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until pasta is done. Remove from heat. Stir in spinach until wilted. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with cheese and basil.

Voila! I had it on the table in 15 minutes flat. With the extra time to cook the pasta shells, I'd say you could expect to do it in 20.

This is an old Pampered Chef recipe, so you might recognize it. I'd never made it before, but it turned out really tasty and it's a fun one to have the kids help with. Makes 6 servings.

1 can (9 oz) bean dip
2 T plus 1/4 c sour cream
1 T plus 1/2 t Southwestern Seasoning Mix (I used taco seasoning; they say you can subs. 1 t and 1/4 t chili powder)
2 c cooked chicken, chopped (I used the breasts from a rotissery chicken and had the kids pulse it in the food processor)
1 med red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 c green onions (tops and whites), thinly sliced
3/4 c pitted ripe olives, sliced, divided
1/4 c fresh cilantro, snipped, divided
5 10-inch soft flour tortillas
8 oz mild cheddar cheese, shredded
vegetable oil
2 medium plum tomatoes, seeded (ha! who does that?!) and chopped
salsa (optional)

Preheat oven to 375. Combine bean dip, 2 T of the sour cream and 1 T of the seasoning mix; stir well.

Combine chicken and pepper in another bowl with green onions, 1/2 c of the olves, and 2 T of the cilantro. Mix gently.

(This is the time the kids can really have fun!) Spread two spoonfuls of the bean mixture on a tortilla and place it on a round baking stone or a pizza pan or whatever ya got. Top evenly with 1 c of the chicken mixture, then 2 oz (1/2 c) of the cheese. Repeat layers (tortilla, beans, chicken, cheese) 3 more times (for 4 layers). Top with remaining tortilla. Spray with vegetable oil (or PAM or whatever).

Bake 25-30 minutes or until top is golden brown and stack is heated through. Meanwhile, mix remaing 1/4 c of sour cream with the remaining 1/2 t of seasoning mix.

Slice the stack into 6 portions and serve with the sour cream, extra olives, extra cilantro, and salsa (we liked it with pico).

We also made my famous banana bread yesterday and the kids were happy to help. It was a lot of fun. Punky mashed the bananas; Pea counted the flour measures; we took turns operating the stand mixer (a crowd favorite!); both of them got to dump in nuts. We all enjoyed cooking together and I think they think it tastes even better since they helped. Here's the recipe.

1 c unbleached white flour
3/4 c whole wheat flour
2 1/4 t double-acting baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/3 c all-veg shortening
2/3 c raw sugar
3/4 t grated leamon rind or orange peel (I use dried)
2 lightly beaten egg
2 mashed over-ripe bananas
1/2 c or more chopped walnuts or almonds

Have all ingredients at about 70 degrees if possible (but I rarely attain this goal). Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift (or just stir) together the flours, baking powder, and salt.

Beat the shortening, sugar, and peel in stand mixer until creamy. Beat in the eggs and banana mash.

Add the flour mixture in 3 approximately even parts, mixing thoroughly before adding the next. Fold in the nuts.

Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan. Bake about 1 hour (mine always seems to take a little longer, but then I rarely make just one loaf at a time) or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool before slicing if you can. One loaf lasts us about 2 days because everyone wants it for every meal and every snack! ;) For a special treat, heat a slice and serve ala mode.


My Man and Me

My Man and Me
married 7/7/2001


ours through biology, born 7/25/2004, home 8/1/2004


ours through adoption from Liberia, West Africa, born 7/15/2005, home 10/25/2007


ours through domestic adoption, born 1/15/2011, home 2/10/2011, final 8/3/2011

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Round Two Timeline

  • 9/24/08 Home study update home visit for Ghana adoption
  • 10/15/08 Dossier sent to AOHG
  • 10/15/08 I600A application sent to USCIS
  • 10/30/08 First heard about possible domestic private adoption
  • 11/18/08 Last spoke with contact about possible domestic adoption; expected to hear back about meeting with birthmother
  • 12/3/08 Withdrew application from AOHG
  • 1/6/09 Found out another family had been chosen for possible domestic adoption
  • 1/21/09 USCIS fingerprinting appointment
  • 1/8/09 Received USCIS fingerprinting appointment notice
  • 4/11/09 Sent Pre-Application to Covenant Care Adoptions for Domestic Infant Adoption program
  • 6/8/09 Social worker visit to update home study from International to Domestic
  • 7/24/09 Received completed home study update
  • 8/25/09 Went "on the list" for birthfamilies to choose from
  • 4/28/10 Found out a birth mom had chosen us
  • 5/8/10 Met the birth mom
  • 5/11/10 Got the call that birth mom changed her mind
  • 5/19/10 Birth mom's scheduled c-section
  • 11/30/10 Visit from DSS sw about foster parenting
  • 11/30/10 Got the call that another birth mom had chosen us
  • 12/21/10 Met with the birth mom
  • 1/15/11 @1:42 PM BB was born!
  • 1/19/11 ICPC (interstate) paperwork sent to GA for approval
  • 1/31/11 ICPC Clearance Approved
  • 2/10/11 Placement Ceremony and Pup comes home!!!!
  • 8/3/11 It's Official! Pup's Adoption Decree was issued