Parmesan Fries Recipe

Had absolutely they best potatoes last night!

The recipe I found for Parmesan Fries is a yummy discovery.

I mixed up the original recipe a bit by using regular potatoes and sweet potatoes.

 Ingredients. 

1/4 tsp. garlic salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp paprika

 1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp salt (optional. I find it is salty already without the salt but it’s up to you)

grated Parmesan cheese

potatoes

olive oil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix spices together in a small bowl.

Cut the potatoes into wedges. You can peel them if you want or you can leave the skin on.

You can rinse them if you want to reduce starch, but be sure to pat them dry.

Place in a bowl and coat with olive oil.

Spread out the wedges on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with the spices and cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes or until done.

Enjoy!

Taco Pizza Pocket Recipe

I wanted tacos but I didn’t want the tortilla. I wanted bready stuff. One of those weird cravings, you know. So, I made up a weird version of tacos.

Ingredients:

Chopped tomato                     ground beef

                chopped bell pepper              taco seasoning

       chopped onion                        shredded cheese

pizza dough

Cook up the ground beef until brown, throw in the onions, let them cook for a bit, then add the bell pepper.Cook just a little longer then add the tomatoes. Add taco seasoning until it tastes right. (I used a big can and kept shaking, but I’m sure a packet would be about the right amount. I didn’t really measure anything, was in a ‘seat of my pants’ mood.)

Grease a cookie sheet, spread out the pizza dough. (I used the Pillsbury pizza dough in a tube.) Spread out the above mixture in the center of the dough.

Sprinkle with shredded cheese.

Fold it over and press the seams closed. Bake at 375 degrees until it’s browned. 

Sprinkle with cheese again and put it back in until it’s melted. 

And wallah! Taco Pizza Pocket. Good hot and cold! 

I was thinking that next time I might try and add some refried beans under the meat mixture to make it a little more like a burrito. We’ll see.

Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner

This year my daughter decided to cook Thanksgiving dinner. We usually don’t have turkey for Thanksgiving in our house because it’s a lot of hoopla and there is always way too many left overs. So we leave the turkey for Christmas and make something else for Thanksgiving. This year my daughter decided to cook steak.

After a lot of debate about what kind of steak to use she settled on a nice New York Strip. She marinated them in a bunch of herbs all day.img_8685 She paired it all up with some sauteed mushrooms with a little garlic salt, and some sauteed asparagus with lemon pepper. Baked potatoes and some breaded shrimp finished out the menu. img_8686

I’m very proud of her for making such a great meal. I’m sad that my husband had to miss it because he was working in the hinter lands of the great north. I am comforted that I haven’t completely failed as a mother and at least she won’t starve when she’s off on her own in the next couple of years.

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Yes, You Can Eat Popcorn with Chopsticks.

how-to-use-chopsticks_16001198_800801371_0_0_14061203_600Chopsticks. They are a challenge to a lot of kids and some adults. Getting all of your fingers organized to move two little sticks in a way that you can pick up food of various sizes and shapes is hard. Especially for people with motor skill difficulties like my son.

Part of his Autism is lack of fine and gross motor skill control. His fingers don’t want to do what he tells them too. We work on it daily but sometimes even holding a pencil is challenging. I never thought that chopsticks would enter into his dinner routines. But…

When he saw an episode of  the cartoon Special Agent Oso and the main character was helping with Chinese New Year and had to learn to use chopsticks, suddenly my son HAD TO HAVE CHOPSTICKS!

That night we were having pork chops. He wanted to use chopstick so bad that he refused to use his fork and then refused to eat at all until I got him chopsticks. I was willing but also prepared for trouble if it didn’t work. I was completely shocked to see him concentrating so hard until he managed to pick up a piece of meat with the chopsticks. He has since tried using chopsticks on everything including his cereal but he hasn’t has as much success as that first time.  He hasn’t given up but he is getting frustrated.

Then we saw something wonderful on an episode of Castle. Weird I know….

Chopstick cheaters!
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They are hinges that help you hold the chopsticks and work them properly. Who knew this was a thing? Yeah I know everybody but me, right?

So we ordered them off of Amazon and when they finally arrived we wanted to practice. Of course there isn’t anything in the house that was readily available. I found some yogurt covered raisins but that wasn’t a great choice. Dad to the rescue! He made popcorn…IMG_7421IMG_7420They sat down with a bowl each of popcorn and started practicing.

It took a few tries and some work but my son finally got the hang of the hinges.

He managed to eat almost two bowls full of popcorn using his chopsticks.

I think I’ll be making Chinese food tonight. So he can really show what he’s got!

Garam Masala Lamb Pockets

This recipe was something that I cooked up (pardon the pun) on the fly the other night.

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My friend, Lisa, had given me some grass fed lamb from her ranch,  The Land of Grass. I didn’t know what to do with it at first. I’d never cooked lamb before. When I mentioned it to my daughter she requested Indian food. And although my daughter loves the spicy curries and things, my son and I have a hard time eating spicy food.  So I compromised a bit.

I had a tin of Garam Masala from The Silk Road. It is a combination of coriander, cumin, black peppercorn, black cumin, ginger, cardamon, clove, cinnamon, and bay leaf. I know it sounds a bit spicy but it really wasn’t. It smelled amazing when I opened the tin but I didn’t follow the recipe on the back.

I improvised!

I fried up the ground lamb with some garlic and chopped spring onions until they were nice and browned. Meanwhile I cooked up some Basmalti rice. I added the Garam Masala then tasted the mixture. It was kind of bland. So I started adding things. I threw in some ginger and then some tumeric. Every thing turned yellow (as it always does with tumeric). That was a good sign, right?

Still needed something.

My daughter said it needed salt and more garlic. So I threw in some garlic salt. Then she said we needed raisins. She loves raisins in her Indian dishes. I also threw in some slivered almonds just because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

It was tasting pretty yummy by now.

I mixed in the rice and stirred it all up. Then took some crescent rolls and laid them out in squares. (Two triangles pressed together along the seem will give a rectangular dough shape) I spooned the rice and lamb mixture into the center and folded the dough closed creating a “pocket” then pressed the seams closed. Baked them at 350 degrees until they were  golden brown.

My daughter was happy because we got to have Indian. My son was happy because it was not spicy and it was in a bread pocket that was easy to eat without having to wrangle rice on a fork. I was happy because everyone else was happy!

I saved the left-overs  for another day but my daughter ate it the next day with a spoon. Ah well, at least she liked it.

SO here is the finally ingredient list. Sorry there aren’t measurements.

ground lamb                           basmalti riceIMG_6782

spring onions                         Garam Masala

minced garlic                         garlic salt

 olive oil                                   raisins

ground tumeric                     crescent rolls

ground ginger                        slivered almonds

bake at 350

 

Enjoy!

Stuffed Red Peppers

Normally I don’t really like stuffed peppers. They always taste kinda soggy or something. The inside is mushy and the outside is rubbery. Unfortunately I had two red bell peppers and I needed to use them somehow. There was a fruit and vegetable grocery sale $15 for all you can fit in a paper sack and because our family is having financial difficulties due to job loss -you take what you can get.

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This recipe is for Mexican Stuffed Peppers that I found.

  • 1 lb ground beef  (It called for ground beef but I didn’t have any so I used breakfast sausage which was all I had that was close.)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions (I used spring onions, because that was all I had.)
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • packet of taco seasoning
  • 4 bell peppers (I only had two)
  • 1 egg
  • salsa
  • sour cream
  • cheese
  • water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the meat, egg, onions, rice, and taco seasoning in a bowl and set aside. Slice the pepper in half and remove the seeds and membranes. Spoon the filling mixture into the pepper half. You can pile it up. Then lay in an ungreased glass baking dish pour a little water around them in the bottom of the dish. (Apparently this is because you don’t precook the peppers.) Spoon a little salsa on top of each pepper and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the meat is thoroughly cooked and the pepper is crisp tender.

When you’re ready to serve you can throw some cheese on top and some sour cream if you want. I didn’t put sour cream on the one in the picture.

SOOOO YUMMMYYY!

So because I only had two peppers instead of the 4 the recipe calls for I had some left over meat mixture.

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So I saved it and we had it in burritos the next day. Two meals out of one!

Thrifty and Yummy!

Fortune Cookie Freakish

We all know deep down that fortune cookies are just a wacky fun dessert that comes with a silly message that has nothing to do with anything but they are fun to read anyway. Right?

Sort of…

Recently my husband, my son and I went to try a new Chinese food restaurant and we of course got fortune cookies when we were done. We cracked them open and here are the three messages we received.

IMG_5724Let’s start with the first one…

Something on 4 wheels will soon be a fun investment for you!

This one was really weird because we had just come from trading in my van on a Jeep Grand Cherokee. I used to have a Jeep and loved it unconditionally, but life conspired against me and I had to get rid of it. I longed to get another one, however, I ended up with a mini-van. YUK! Talk about a cloud of melancholy that I drove every where. (I am kind of the opposite of a soccer mom.) For a couple of years now we have been looking for a Jeep to trade it in on but never quite found the right one. My hubby wanted me to get a newer one because of reliability and I wanted an older one because that was what I loved. Then this one came along. Not too old, not too new, low miles, good price- couldn’t pass it up.  So according to the fortune cookie this will be a fun investment! I really don’t care I’m just happy to have a Jeep again.

Now let’s take the second one…

Your dream will come true when you least expect it.

Which dream could this be…hmm… is is the one where I get to become a published author? Or win the lottery? Or is it the one where my hubby is home instead of traveling for work and we get to function as a regular family. Well… Be careful what you wish for! My poor hubby is home from traveling for work because work has nothing for him to do! The company he worked for was losing contracts and sent him home to sit until they had work so he took a different job with another company and one disaster led to another forcing him to sit at home waiting for work. It’s been 5 weeks now. Going on desperate times! Living off the credit cards. Wish I could have expected this dream a little better.

Now the third one…

Time heals all wounds. Keep your chin up.

Could this mean my husband’s imposed time off that has led to less than a marital bliss situation in our home? Won’t that be nice when it heals after he’s back to work and the tension has gone and we are back to normal. Must…keep…chin…up!

Not sure I want to open any new fortune cookies any time soon. They seem to know a lot more about my future than I do and I can’t say I like what they have to say.

 

 

Best Hidden Place to Eat in Great Falls!

We came across a place in Great Falls, MT where we love to have pie and coffee.  Although we have had dinner there once, we haven’t been in town that late to try more of the full menu. It is downtown right near the Civic Center.

It’s called Tracy’s IMG_5472

It is a homey little diner just like the ones that I grew up with! It has booths and spiny stools at the counter. It even has the little juke boxes at the tables and the glass counter where you pay has gum and candy bars for sale.

Normally we order Apple pie ala mode but my daughter decided to order a cinnamon roll…

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It was as big as her head , hot and fresh.

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I couldn’t believe it but she managed to eat the whole thing!

Their shakes are to die for!

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The coffee is served in cups and saucers with actual milk if you want it, and none of these little sugar packets. The sugar is in a glass sugar dispenser. We even get placemats! I missed placemats. It was a great way to keep the kids entertained until the food arrives.

Every time we have been in there, we’ve had the same waitress. She is lovely. She’s always cheery even when she is feeling overwhelmed. Her name is Diane. (I asked, and I hope she doesn’t mind me taking her picture covertly!)

I heard her comment to a couple that were obviously just visiting Great Falls as they were leaving, “And we’re open all night so come back for breakfast!”

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I love Tracy’s Diner!

Mexican lasagna vegetarian alternative

Ok so you all know about my menu issues right? In an effort to accommodate my vegetarian I have had to adapt a lot of recipes. Well, one of my very favorite dishes Mexican Lasagna had to be integrated into the vegetarian diet. You have to understand this is an awesome simple meal that my daughter’s friends all ask for the recipe. I LOVE THIS THING!

Okay, so I had to make it in two versions. The regular and the vegetarian. I will explain both.

First I use cheap ingredients, what can I say we are on a budget. So ground beef and cans of pinto beans, black beans, diced tomatoes, and corn. Some spring onions,taco seasoning with water, tortillas, cream cheese, and some shredded cheese.20140719-141734-51454343.jpg

Chop up your spring onions. Then brown the ground beef. Drain the beans and tomatoes.

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In another pan saute the spring onions just for a bit, until they are smelling good then dump the tomatoes, black beans, pinto beans and some corn. Cook it over medium heat for a bit until it’s bubbling. Keep stirring it. When the beef is browned, add taco seasoning to it ( about a 1/4 cup of loose seasoning or one package mix) and water enough to make it mix in well. You can following the directions on the package for regular taco meat.

Then add about a 1/4 cup of taco seasoning to the bean mixture and stir it in. This shouldn’t need any water. Let all this cook for a bit while you prepare the tortillas.

Spread the cream cheese on the tortilla like frosting, cover the whole surface. Then roll it up jelly roll style. Just start at one end and roll with the cream cheese in the middle. You’ll want enough tortilla rolls to make one layer across the pan.

Once you are done with this. Mix some of the bean mixture into the taco meat. Then pour some of the mixture into the bottom of a pan. As you can see I did one pan with vegetarian(Left) and one with meat(Right).

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Then layer the shredded cheese over the top. Once there is a good covering of cheese layer the tortillas across the pan.

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Then another layer of meat or veggie mix. Try to spread if evenly across the tortillas.

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Then of course a final layer of cheese.

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Throw it in the oven on about 350 until the cheese melts and if you like the crunchy consistency to the cheese on top then after the cheese melts then just turn the oven to broil and wait a few minutes. At this point keep an eye on it. It can burn fast under the broiler.

Leah said that she really liked the meatless version. So thought I would share. I think that next time I will make them in loaf pans. Normally I make one pan this size for 4 of us and with two pans this size and only 3 of us eating, it lasted way too long. We were eating leftover lasagna for days. Or maybe I’ll freeze the extra, who knows?

 

Parenting Secrets

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Parenting secret number…um… Let’s say 657.
Kids will eat pretty much anything when you put it on a stick.

I have tried many times to get my son to eat things like steak or mushrooms. The response is usually “Ick!”
Then there’s the vegetarian. She obviously won’t eat meat so every meal must be altered to accommodate. So I decided the best way to accommodate the vegster was to chop stuff up and let her pick out what she won’t eat.

I wanted kabobs. I wanted kabobs with steak and pineapple and teriyaki sauce. So…

Steak, pineapples, green bell peppers, mushrooms, mangos, and precooked shrimp all shoved on a stick. Some without steak for Leah and some without peppers for William. Cooked at 450 degrees for while with just some oil. Then brushed on the teriyaki sauce when the meat was cooked.

Stuck it on the table and Poof!
Both kids are eating. William thinks dinner on a stick is funny. (He’s 8 and Autistic everything different is either scary or funny). He ate the steak and even a mushroom! Leah, of course, devoured 4 kabobs. Score one for mom!

I wonder what else I can put on a stick.