Tuesdays with Jacob

Easy Green Enchiladas with Real California Milk

November 12, 2018
This post is sponsored by Real California Milk but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Goodness friends, the holidays are quickly sneaking up on us aren't they? I thought I'd share with your one of my favorite holiday potluck dishes in case you're in need of a crowd pleaser! These chicken enchiladas are quick and easy to whip up, feed a large group, and are always a hit! I love to hit the gourmet cheese section at Publix where I know I'll find the perfect cheeses for my dishes. I always look for the Real California Milk seal to know that I'm getting a product made with 100% milk and supporting dairy families in the process. 99% of California dairy farms are family owned and operated. We love the peace of mind knowing that we are getting real food from real people - California has over 1,300 dairy farms! Find Real California Dairy products HERE.



Here's how you make Easy Green Enchiladas

Ingredients:
1 jar salsa verde
2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
1 cup Real California shredded pepper jack cheese
1 cup Real California queso fresco
1 cup navy beans
1 small can of green chilis
half an onion, diced small
1/4 cup cilantro
1 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper to taste
12 corn tortillas
splash of olive oil
avocado for serving
Real California sour cream for serving

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a pan cook onion with a splash of olive oil until translucent.
3. Transfer onion to large bowl and mix in chicken, pepper jack cheese, beans, green chilis, and cumin. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Place corn tortillas on a plate and cover with a dish towel. Microwave for 45 seconds until warm so they won't break when rolled.
5. In a large bowl pour salsa verde. One at a time dip tortillas in the salsa, then fill with 1/4 cup filling and roll.
6. Line up rolled tortillas in a shallow pan.
7. Pour one cup salsa verde over the top of the rolled tortillas, then sprinkle queso fresco on top.
8. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.
9. Top with cilantro and serve with avocado and sour cream.






This dish pairs well with yellow rice (also easily made in big batches for a group!) or your favorite vegetables. What's your favorite potluck dish?


Fright Bites

October 3, 2018
This post is sponsored by Tyson Foods Inc. but the content and opinions expressed here are my own. 

Woo! Happy almost October friends! We are more than ready for all things spooky in our Halloween obsessed family. Jacob adores dressing up (he's already picked out his costume!) and throwing a Halloween party for all his friends. With help from Tyson® Foods we've been cooking up some family friendly treats that are perfect for any Halloween gathering. Here are just two of the fun ideas we've tried:

Mini Chicken Parmesan Eyeballs



Tyson® Chicken Nuggets 
Pizza Sauce
 Mozzarella Cheese
Sliced olives

1. Set oven according to the package of Tyson® Chicken Nuggets
2. Set nuggets on pan and put a spoonful of pizza sauce on top
3. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on each nugget.
4. Add a slice of olive in the middle to make the eye
5. Bake according to package directions.




Witch Fingers 



Tyson® Crispy Chicken Strips 
Ranch Dressing
Slivered almonds

1. Set oven according to the directions on the Tyson® Crispy Chicken Strips
2. Set chicken strips on pan and bake according to package directions
3. Slice each baked strip in half 
4. Spread ranch dressing on the back of each almond slice and attach to the end of a chicken strip. 
5. Arrange fingers in a bowl of ranch dressing for dipping.


Tyson® Chicken products, along with State Fair® products (think mummy corndogs!) and Hillshire Farms® Products are available at Walmart and make Halloween food prep super easy and delicious. Walmart even has grocery pick-up which is super convenient for busy families planning parties.


For even more spooky Halloween recipes check out FeastOnFrightBites.com


Classic Pumpkin Bread

October 1, 2018


Happy October!! Yesterday, in preparation for our favorite month's arrival, Jake and I whipped up a super-size batch of our favorite pumpkin bread. This is a super simple dump, mix, bake recipe that couldn't be any easier. The recipe was handed down to me from other kindergarten teachers when I started teaching at my first school. As far as I understand the recipe had been given to them from the previous generations kindergarten teachers and so on. Back when I had an oven in my classroom we used to make and bake this together with our kindergarten classes and then sent everyone home with a loaf for Thanksgiving. Sadly I no longer have a kitchen in my classroom, but it's still my go-to pumpkin recipe here at home. 


It's perfect for loaves or muffins. I found a super cute pumpkin mold at Target and made Jacob some pumpkin bread muffins for school lunch this week. We'll be eating this bread, hot with plenty of butter, all autumn long. It pairs perfect with hot coffee! 


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Classic Pumpkin Bread
3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2/3 cup water
1 16oz. can of pumpkin
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
(optional) 1 cup chopped pecans

Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Divide into 3 loaf pans, bake at 350 for 1 hour or until done. (Test to see if it is done by inserting a toothpick in the middle of the loaf. If it comes out clean your bread is done.) Cool, slice, and enjoy! For an extra treat, spread butter or cream cheese on a slice. You can also divide the batter into 6 mini loafs or into 12 muffin tins, but you'll need to watch them as they won't need the full hour to cook. 
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We wrapped up a basketful of the loaves to hand out to the world's most patient group of educators.... Jacob's teachers! I found the wrapping kit - boxes, cellophane, twine, and tags at Target for under $5. 


Snack Boxes

September 16, 2018
This post is sponsored by Pearls® but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

It's no secret that things have been a little hectic around here. (Hence the radio silence over here one the blog) We're all back to our routines which includes Jacob and I getting up super early to get off to school on time and then Daddy leaving for work shortly after we get home. Because he works unusual hours, he usually eats a meal either before he goes to work or when he gets home. He doesn't have to take a "lunch" at work, so he prefers not to. That means that the food we send with him has to be easy and quick to eat on the go. 


He's long been a fan of olives and Pearls® olives recently launched three new flavors: Taco, Sriracha, & Italian Herb which add even more variety. The little to-go cups make the perfect compartment inside the Tupperware with plenty of room for other finger foods, and Pearls® are keto friendly, gluten free, & vegan! 


We like to add veggies - tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, broccoli, etc. As well as protein - salami, pepperoni, or cheese. And some nuts like cashews or pecans too. We'll toss in some dried cranberries, raisins, or trail mix for just a touch of sweet. 


It's not just Daddy that likes a snack box though, I regularly pack these to take with us on picnics, to sports practices, on our way to  church … pretty much any time we're on the go! Jacob likes them just as much as we do! You can purchase Pearls® on amazon, or using their store locator. AND, you can save on Pearls® by clicking HERE! Life is better with Pearls®!


Pre-K Interview

August 13, 2018


I swear it takes nothing more than a school uniform to age a child 10+ years. Hand over ALL the tissues please. The tiny polo shirt, the little tennis shoes, the backpacks and lunchboxes, I can't. There's no denying all traces of babyhood are gone and it makes me want to weep something fierce. Here's a little snapshot of Jacob as he heads off to Pre-k: 

How old are you? 
Jacob: I don't know. 
Mommy: Are you one?
Jacob: I'm not one anymore. 
Mommy: Are you two?
Jacob: I'm not two anymore. 
Mommy: Are you three?
Jacob: I'm not three anymore.
Mommy: Are you four?
Jacob: I'm four! Yes. Four. Maybe I'll be five soon. (Ha! He won't) 

Who's your best friend?
Jacob: Emily and Olivia

What's your favorite food?
Jacob: Pizza

What's your favorite color?
Jacob: Green, and yellow, and white, and black

What's your favorite toy?
Jacob: My legos

What's your favorite book?
Jacob: Elephant & Piggie ("We are in a Book")

What's your favorite tv show?
Jacob: Sarah & Duck

What's your favorite movie?
Jacob: Incredibles

What do you like to do outside?
Jacob: Dig in the sand

What do you like to do inside?
Jacob: Play with Play-dough

What's your favorite holiday?
Jacob: Halloween

What's your favorite animal?
Jacob: Giraffe

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Jacob: A firefighter



Farewell to a summer packed full of goodness and adventure. 

I feel like Meryl Streep waxing poetic...
Each time I think I'm close to knowing
He keeps on growing 
Slipping through my fingers all the time



Last years preschool interview: HERE


Back to School Organization

August 7, 2018

I shared the photo above on my Facebook and got a request for a blog post about it so... voila! Here it is! This will be my first year in 13 years of teaching that I have to get not only myself out the door bright and early, but my preschooler too. My preschooler who takes after daddy and is NOT a morning person. Let's just say the next few weeks are going to be painful as we adjust to our new normal. In the interest of making things as easy as they can possibly be I started looking for ways to streamline our morning. 

I knew I wanted one central area to keep all of Jacob's school stuff, and I wanted it downstairs since that's where he does all of his getting ready after eating breakfast. You do NOT need a big space to set up a command center like this. We have a teeny, tiny, townhouse and I had about 2 feet of wall in between my kitchen and dining room to work with. If I can find space - so can you!! 


I started at the bottom of the wall and worked my way up. My school has a uniform (Hallelujah) so I picked up a 5 drawer tub (find it HERE) and had my mom cut out labels for each drawer on her sillhouette. Each part of the uniform gets it's own drawer. 

Top (small) drawer: has his accessories - belts, socks, underwear, and tee-shirts for Fridays. We picked up two of these belts in brown and black because they are super easy for little hands! 



Second (small) drawer: has his sweaters (for the few weeks a year it's cold enough) We love Gap Kids for cardigans and Crewcuts for pullovers. Some of our favorites HERE and HERE

Third (large) drawer: has all of his polos. He has to wear solid colors and while the brands we like best are Gap, Crewcuts, and Chaps, I do get most of his uniform pieces second hand. My parents have a great kids re-sale shop near their house. 



Fourth (large) drawer: has his uniform bottoms. We find the best fit with Ralph Lauren, Crewcuts, and Gap, but again I get most of them second hand. Jacob has three colors he can wear - navy, khaki, and black so we picked up a few shorts in each color and one pair of pants in each color. (It's rarely cold enough for pants here) He also has jeans and jean shorts in there for Fridays - which I almost always get at Gap, I love their denim! 



Bottom (large) drawer: has his shoes. We love Converse, Adidas, Toms, and slip ons from Old Navy and Gap. We just grabbed these bear slip ons from Old Navy - if it has glasses, we will buy it! 


It will be SO helpful to have this all in one spot and my hope is that I can eventually send him over there to get dressed on his own. It will also come in super handy on the rare occasion that daddy has to take him to school - he won't have to wonder what he can and can't wear since it will all be there together. 

In the middle of the wall I hung two hooks for his back pack and his lunchbox. We went with the Pottery Barn Kids Mackenzie size small backpack for Pre-k. (same one as last year) I debated getting the large so it would last longer, but it weighed him down and I knew it wouldn't work. We had it monogrammed with his initials only for safety reasons. 


For his lunch box we got the Pottery Barn Kids Mackenzie Cold Pack style - this decision was easy as it was the only one that fit his Bentgo lunch container, as well as his Sistema snack container and a milk. His water bottle fits in a mesh pocket on the side. I also used a handful of command hooks to hang a wire basket (dollar spot, similar HERE) as a catch all. It holds his water bottle, glasses case, goggles for swimming, a comb, etc. We also keep his SoCozy Boo! Lice spray in there, which we spray on every morning in hopes of avoiding those pesky little critters. A mini cork board in the middle can hold reminder notes, and currently our box tops collection. 



Up at the top of the wall I hung a photo clip frame that I got on clearance at Target a year or so ago, and have been searching for the perfect spot ever since. (similar HERE and I love this rose gold one!) I hung a small dry-erase calendar board up there as a visual reminder of our obligations, and the rest can be used to hang art projects, notes from school, and of course, photos. Jacob requested I add our star garland from Pearl & Jane and I love the little extra sparkle it adds. 



So there you have it! How do you keep sane during back to school? 

Lunchbox Sliders 3 ways

July 23, 2018

This post is sponsored by Pepperidge Farm, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

I know I say this every July... but I can't believe summer is halfway over. Pretty soon it will be time to start thinking about backpacks and lunchboxes and if you've got a picky kid like mine, that's a stressful line of thinking. This will be the first year I have to pack a lunch for Jacob every single day and the thought is a bit daunting. I've been trying out some new foods on him this summer and thinking of ways I can mix things up and not send the same thing every day. I recently came across Pepperidge Farm® Bakery Classics Slider Buns and I knew it would be a great alternative to sandwiches for Jacob because he LOVES hamburgers, and anything you put on these sliders automatically looks like a mini hamburger! 



The most important thing to keep in mind when packing a lunch is that it needs to be something your kid likes to eat. Without you there, no one is going to make your child eat a lunch they don't like! The lunchbox is not the place to introduce new foods - try them at home first to make sure your child is familiar with them and will willingly eat them. We've taken a few simple sandwich recipes for a test drive and gotten two thumbs up on each one so I thought I'd share them with you here to give you a few ideas! 


1. Pizza sliders. Jacob loves pizza and this combo has all the same flavors - pizza sauce, provolone cheese, and pepperoni. You could add other pizza toppings too like peppers or mushrooms, but Jacob's a plain pepperoni kind of guy. 


2. Peanut Butter and Banana sliders. You could also use jelly, or strawberries, or fluff... whatever floats your kiddo's boat! If you've got a nut allergy in your kids class you can substitute in a nut free butter like sunflower butter or tahini. 



3. Salad sliders. Tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad. All of these are great with a little swiss cheese! 


Here are a few more ideas: 
Ham & Cheese
Chicken or Hamburger patty (cut to size)
BLT
Pulled Pork

Pretty much anything you would put on regular bread you can put on Pepperidge Farm® Bakery Classics Slider Buns, they're super versatile! They are the perfect size to fit inside lunchboxes and in little hands. They're just big enough that I know Jacob will fill up, but not have a lot of extra go to waste. What are you packing in your kids lunchboxes this year? You can see my tips for packing a teacher approved lunch HERE