Homeschool: Week 4 + Black Bean Chorizo Dip

black bean chorizo dip

Skip to the Recipe: Black Bean Chorizo Dip

Today is Day #33 of #socialdistancing, the beginning of Homeschool Week #5, and it’s a Sunday.

Sometimes, I have to remind myself time is still moving at its usual pace.

My toddler, however, does not need reminding. He knows he’s missing out on the park, and the zoo, and playing with our friends’ kids. Last week was marred by a child who was tired of being cooped up, tired of being in a house and so tired of both of those things that he was too tired to play outside.

Even on the nicest day.

“No, I don’t want to chalk,” he thinks as he puts them all back in the bucket and drags mommy inside.
“No, I don’t wan to color school work sheets,” he thinks as he dumps his crayons on the floor and takes mommy’s color sheets away.
Simply saying “no” over and over and over again until mommy gives up.

We also had a substantial meltdown about a broken cookie.

It needed to be replaced by a whole cookie. Immediately.

So I gave up last week.

This week? I have a better plan because I have more resources. Fingers crossed, a little more patience comes with it.

USD 259 sent a hefty packet of homeschool activities we can work through — or that I can just read to him while he doesn’t pay attention. Maybe something will stick.

We lost that penguin for three days last week, too. And it. was. a. PROBLEM.

They’re also conducting virtual classes a few times a week. That’ll help.

His Pre-K teacher sent us beans to plant. He’ll like playing in the dirt — and it’ll be nice to have another plant on my desk since my orchid died. Because I forgot to give it sunlight and water. You know, food.

I dragged his slide out back and set up the water table on the deck, so we can get in non-chalk outside time.

My goal is to get in at least 30 minutes of some sort of education a day. We’ll see how we do.

Until I have a better update, here’s another recipe.

black bean chorizo dip

Recipe: Black Bean Chorizo Dip

Serves — just a whole lot of people or several different meals.

Ingredients

1 medium white onion, diced

1 small red pepper, diced

1 small green pepper, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 lb. ground chorizo

2 cans of black beans, drained

1 can of sweet corn, drained

1 can hot Rotel

2 Tbs. Alton Brown’s Taco Potion #19

Directions

Heat a large, nonstick skillet over high heat.

Once it’s hot, plop in your pound of ground chorizo. If you’re using a seasoned cast iron skillet or a nonstick pan at the correct temperature, you shouldn’t need to add oil to this part.

If you do, use canola.

Stir and scrape the chorizo to break it up and cook until it’s nearly cooked through. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place in a large casserole dish.

Leave all the excess fat — there shouldn’t be much — in the pan. Toss in your onions and peppers, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until their softened and glossy. They’re also going to be rust colored because of the chorizo spices.

Need more fat? Use canola oil.

While the produce is sautéing, add the black beans and corn to the casserole. Give all the ingredients a little mix.

Get your can of Rotel ready. Add your minced garlic to the skillet, stirring constantly with one hand while the other hand holds the open can of Rotel.

Once the garlic starts to brown, dump the Rotel in. No one likes burned garlic. This works.

Season with salt and pepper, and add one Tbs. of Alton Brown’s Taco Potion #19. Stir it up and reduce the heat to medium to simmer some of the liquid off.

Add the other Tbs. of seasoning to the casserole and give it another little mix. Then, add the onion-pepper-tomato mix to the casserole.

Cover with a casserole lid or aluminum foil and put it in a 350 degree F oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, add grated or shredded cheese to the casserole and put it back in the oven, uncovered, for five minutes — or until the cheese is all melty.

How to Serve

This recipe was inspired by the Black Bean Chorizo Quesadillas my husband’s aunt and uncle whipped up for us on vacation at Lake Michigan.

And, by inspired, I mean it’s nearly completely the same, but the first time I made it… I didn’t have any tortillas. So, we served it with chips 🙂

black bean chorizo dip

You could…

  • Actually make quesadillas.
  • Make tacos.
  • Serve it over rice.
  • Serve it over hash browns.
  • Pile it on top of eggs with sliced avocado… again, my favorite.
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A Note About Seasoning

I’m a really, really lazy cook. I don’t like chopping, measuring or waiting. On this particular cooking of Black Bean Chorizo Dip, I didn’t actually use a seasoning recipe. I just added as much cayenne, chile powder, coriander, cumin, garlic and onion powder, oregano and paprika as I wanted.

Might also have added roasted garlic flakes… Not positive.

So… go ahead. Have fun and start dumping spices into your food. See what you get!

Please salt responsibly.

Home? School? Week 3 + Spicy Sausage Skillet Recipe

Skip to the Recipe: Spicy Sausage Skillet

A failure to plan is a plan to fail.

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I never wrote anything down, and so we did no homeschool activities last week.

Commitment to New Year’s Resolutions starts to wane after 21 days, according to some popular wisdom in this Forbes article. That’s when we get tired of early morning workouts, dieting and associated New Year’s nonsense. That timeframe is just 14 days for homeschooling during a global pandemic.

At least for me.

Plus, last week was rough.

I didn’t drink enough water, so I had a mild headache every day. When I realized this, I failed to fix the problem by drinking more water.

I think I wore the same pair of sweatpants every day. Took ’em off, showered (I promise), put ’em back on. It’s not like I went anywhere or did anything…

My son stole nearly every food I tried to eat for breakfast. Though, in fairness, I was eating toaster pastries and chocolate chip Eggos… which are his food.

Whatever.

Instead of learning, we did a lot of snuggling, which he now requests by saying: “Pih-yo (pillow). Yay down (lay down). Puppy. Ginkie (binkie).” When we’re all settled in to snuggle and watch Hilda on Netflix — which I can quote (and so can he) — he pulls a blanket over us and presses his puppy to his face.

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How F Word cute.

Apparently, we did this exactly enough times last week for him to think it’s now part of our daily routine.

I ain’t mad about it.

We’ll try to learn something next week. Our packet from USD 259 arrived Friday, and we still have a packet from the week of Spring Break we need to dig into.

Which I just found because…

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…I finally cleaned the mail and miscellaneous paperwork off the microwave.

Where we also found the tags to our vehicles and what is likely the final notice on filling out the Census.

Which we did. Don’t @ me.

Because I don’t have any awesome activities to share with you — I know you’re bummed — here’s a recipe for a household dinner (and then breakfast and then lunch) staple. It’s a halfway homemade miscellaneous pantry masterpiece.

sausage skillet recipe
Spiced with Alton Brown’s Taco Potion #19 and served over white rice.

Spicy Sausage Skillet Recipe

6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • Fully cooked Andouille sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 1 green or red pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced fine
  • 1 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1 can Rotel, regular or spicy
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans, drained
  • 1/2-1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn
  • Homemade Cajun seasoning or 1 Tbs. Alton Brown’s Taco Potion #19

Directions

Mix the Cajun seasoning: 2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper, 1 tsp. dry thyme, 1 tsp. dry oregano, 2 tsp. smoked hot paprika, 1 tsp. onion powder, 1 tsp. garlic powder and 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper.

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Once hot, sauté sausage rounds until they plump and brown on both sides. (If you use a nonstick or seasoned cast iron skillet, you shouldn’t need oil for this part. The sausage has its own fat. )

Remove the sausage from the skillet, leave excess fat and add 1 Tbs. canola oil to the pan. Toss in diced onions and peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until glossy and softened. Add half the seasoning mixture, 1/2 cup of vegetable broth, Rotel and dark red kidney beans and stir. Reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced.

Then, add in the frozen corn, remaining seasoning and other 1/2 cup of vegetable broth — but just if your skillet is looking a little dry.

Once the corn is cooked, it’s done! It’s delicious! It’ll keep in the fridge for an unhealthy amount of time.

How to Serve

The reason this dish is a masterpiece is because you can serve it four hundred different ways. Here are just a few:

  • Straight out of the pan. Seriously.
  • Over white or brown rice or quinoa.
  • Over mashed potatoes. Don’t believe me? TRY IT. IT’S AMAZING.
  • Over hash browns, and then add an egg because #breakfast.
  • My favorite? Straight from the pan to the plate with a fried egg (or two) and sliced avocado. Holla, #brunch.
I ate this three days in a row.

If 6-8 servings is too much for your household, halve the whole thing and get about four half to 3/4 cups of awesome. (You will be missing out on the second day of eating it for lunch, though, and that’s a good day.)

Another reason this is the greatest dish of all time? Substitutions. Don’t have dark red kidney beans? Black beans work just as well. Too spicy? Get rid of the hot peppers. Not spicy enough? Use hot Rotel or add red chile flakes to the spice mix. Vegetarian? Try it with tofu and let me know how it is.

It’s the perfect dish for weeks when you wear the same sweat pants every day, forget to drink water and subsist off whatever your toddler will let you eat.

Because he won’t eat this.

Enjoy!

Homeschool: Week 2 + Essential Activities

Meetings, to-do’s, life… all change pretty quickly durning my day to day, which is why I use erasable ink pens in my planner.

(Yes, I realize I could use a pencil. But the sharpening and the shavings and the more excuses I have about not using pencils — and don’t get me started on mechanical pencils. Ugh.)

We put the eraser to work during Homeschool: Week 2.

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Monday

My toddler was cranky on Monday, but it was my fault. I doomed us from the first cup of coffee.

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One Mother’s Day, my son (re: my husband) gifted me this “Happy Monday” coffee cup. On the other side?

perfect mother's day gift

Cranky toddler face.

A predictive coffee cup on Monday, for sure.

We built our scheduled ABC Fort at 1 p.m. — and by “we,” I mean “me.” I built the fort. My son played in it, and then demolished it.

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Like, ok, it’s not the best fort.

We also made an attempt at our New Words game, which turned out to be just flashcards with rules. Seriously? Not a game. The toddler hated it.

The first activity to be erased: Stupid flashcards with rules.

Tuesday

So, I forgot to prepare the 123 Puzzle. By prepare, I just mean I forgot to write numbers on the opposite size of the ABC foam pieces while my son was asleep. And I’m cautious about pulling out a Sharpie near the kid.

He’s already colored on the wall with a crayon.

And a marker.

And food.

This is permanent ink.

Luckily, a friend of mine prepared a letter lesson for us with /o/ — short “o” sounds as in “fox” — complete with step-by-step instructions, a sound-matching game and a friendly octopus flashcard.

The toddler colored on it.

She delivered it to my door over the weekend, and we spent our Tuesday homeschool time reading all about The Frog on a Log and The Fox on a Box.

The second activity to succumb to the eraser: 123 Puzzle.

Wednesday

Did Wednesday happen?

Pretty sure there wasn’t a Wednesday last week.

The third activity to be erased: Yeah, all of Wednesday.

Thursday

Since Wednesday didn’t happen, we did color-matching on Thursday. Again, he aced the matching bit. He even said a few of the objects on the cards: “tur-el” (turtle), “fower” (flower) and “fy” (butterfly, obviously).

My son’s pre-school teacher called… on Wednesday! Now, I remember what happened!

Real quick, on Wednesday: USD 259 teachers are teaching virtually, but my son’s in pre-school — and it’s hard enough to get him to sit still when you’re holding him down — so they’re sending out packets to help parents put a structure of some sort to teaching at home. Bam!

She also sent a letter with water beads enclosed, which is what reminded me of the phone call — because on Thursday (now we’re back on track), we grew water beads.

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I had never heard of water beads and omg. where have they been all my life. they’re so much fun. i love them.

The toddler can’t play with them, though. He’s going through another puts-everything-in-his-mouth phase, and the packaging clearly states multiple times that you’re not supposed to eat these.

He’s def gonna try to eat them.

Oh, well. More fun for me.

Meeting the eraser on Thursday: Thursday?

Friday

Friday turned out to be colder than I hoped. It was a good day to snuggle — and snuggle we did. Very little learning happened, but a lot of talking did.

I don’t know if it’s because I have him during his best time of day — morning — or because he’s not exhausted from behaving at school, daycare or grandma’s house… but he’s talking.

He’s parroting, replying, asking (re: demanding), having pretend conversations with his toys and more.

He asked to play Speech Blubs by name. Well, ok, he said “beepups,” but I knew what he wanted.

Words are still sometimes wrong. “Fah-tis,” instead of breakfast. “Wan-wih,” instead of sandwich. “Asselsash,” instead of apple sauce. (Say it out loud. Totally worth it.) Plus, his vocabulary revolves around food.

But he’s talking.

Speech might be catching up to us. (Just don’t quote me on that.)

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If I don’t write anything down for this  week, I won’t have to erase it, right?

Skip Saturday, Straight to Sunday

On Sunday, Mother Hubbard’s cupboard (re: fridge) was looking a little bare.

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Except for the beer…

The toddler helped me empty the fridge, so I could clean the shelves. Such a helper. So cute.

With maybe one cup of milk left in a gallon, two eggs in the carton, three rolls of toilet paper and four diapers, I needed to go to the store. We were also running low on toddler pouches — the only way he’ll eat vegetables — and “fis” (a.k.a. rainbow goldfish crackers). Plus, I’m out of coffee… and that’s just not gonna fly.

I didn’t want to go to the grocery store. Not gonna lie, I’m pretty scared of catching the virus and have been a good extrovert about social distancing since March 18.

In fairness, I’m only a mild extrovert. Staying home isn’t that hard.

But groceries are an essential activity — and I have to trick my kid into eating vegetables.

So, I cut up a T-shirt, folded a coffee filter inside and fashioned myself a makeshift mask using hair ties I hadn’t yet gotten rid of (because #shorthairdontcare about hair ties).

By the way, masks are seriously sore on the ears. Thank your healthcare worker. Their head hurts.

I pulled a stocking cap over my head to hold my glasses in place and cover my hair, pre-disinfected my shopping bags with spray and headed to Dillon’s. And, yes, my glasses were crooked the entire time.

Produce, bread, meat, eggs and milk abounded. I found a 40-pack of my son’s size diapers for the first time in three weeks. Joy! I didn’t take the last one of anything. Toilet paper was scarce, but I scored a six-pack — and two six packs of a delicious slightly sour ale.

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Unfortunately, cleaning supplies were limited. Paper towels were not to be found, and neither were Lysol or Clorox wipes. I was lucky to get a Windex-brand multi-surface cleaner that kills 99.9% of germs.

Hallelujah.

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I also might have stocked UP on coffee…

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Now, is Starbucks my go-to coffee choice? No. I buy a pound (or two) a week from The Spice Merchant — a delightful Papua New Guinea blend that I love.

They’re closed right now, so I’m dealing with some medium roast from the grocery store. Don’t @ me.

My husband’s exact words were: “Someone has a problem.” Just as he pulled all four out of my shopping bag.

Psh.

Our fridge, freezer and cupboards are full with the staples we need to feed ourselves and the toddler for two weeks. Except milk, which will run out faster than that… I’ll go back next weekend to hunt for the cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer and paper towels I usually have on hand.

Until then, we’re making do with what we have — and being thankful for it.

Vacation Eats and Spicy Shrimp + Rice (Recipe)

Scroll down for the recipe. It’s not that far.

My sister-in-law whipped up a delicious dinner for us while we were on vacation: Garlic Honey Lime Shrimp by Bee | Rasa Malaysia. (Her recipe is on her blog.)

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With her (oldest) little helper.

Of course, I wanted to share my vacation experience with my husband, so I tried to cook it at home. My attempt didn’t turn out as delicious as hers…

…until my husband got involved.

He’s the cook in the household — and he’s damn good. I fiddle around with one-pot, one-pan, Instant Pot kind of dinners (and bagged salads).

We sat down to my version of Garlic Honey Lime Shrimp — to which I added lime zest, fancy — and a side of roast asparagus with lemon, zest and fresh-grated Parmesan cheese.

The kind with the stamped rind.

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See how the shrimp are kinda… naked. (Perfectly cooked, though.)

The shrimp were missing something. Not enough butter? Not enough lime? No. The flavor was right, but the texture was all wrong.

My husband sautéed the sauce in the pan for maybe five more minutes and came back to the table with liquid gold.

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Teamwork, y’all.

It’s the other way around when we cook my favorite shrimp recipe (here it is) — something like a Kung Pao Shrimp. He does all the shrimp-cooking, and I do all the sauce-making.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Spicy Shrimp + Rice

SAUCE INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1 Tbs. garlic chile sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil

OTHER INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup of cornstarch
  • Enough oil to cover the bottom of your skillet (I think we used canola. Maybe olive oil once. Pick one. Vegetable oil works, too. Ghee. Butter not so much.)
  • 1 lb. peeled, deveined shrimp (raw or cooked, which will affect how long you cook)
  • Rice

DIRECTIONS

Rinse and dry the shrimp. Room temperature shrimp cook best. (I don’t know if that’s health code appropriate, so… don’t sue me.)

While the shrimp dry, whisk the sauce ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Add more honey, garlic chile or soy sauce to suit your taste buds. I use a ton of chile garlic sauce because I like spicy food — and heartburn, apparently.

Heat a cast iron or nonstick skillet on medium high heat. Cover the bottom of the skillet with oil. Make sure the pan is hot before you put the oil in — I put this in here because I get in trouble for this a lot when I’m cooking 😉

Dredge dry shrimp lightly in the cornstarch. Shake ’em off because you don’t want lumps.

Cook raw shrimp in batches until they turn opaque. If you used cooked shrimp, don’t overcook them. I can’t help you here. Either way, you want the cornstarch to be slightly golden and crisp.

Toss cooked shrimp in the sauce.

Make rice at some point during this. Small pot on the stove. Bake it in the oven. Instant Pot that ish. I don’t care how you make your rice. Or, do like I do, microwave some. From the microwavable rice section of your grocery store.

Serve with rice.

Garnish with some fancy cut green onions or julienned carrots. Obvs I don’t have that kind of time.

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Spicy Shrimp and… the rice was somewhere.

 

Mistakes I Make While Cooking Shrimp

  • I undercook them.
  • I overcook them
  • I cook them when they’re still cold, so they basically boil from the inside out.
  • I cook them when they’re still a little wet, so they basically boil from the inside out AND oil splatters attack me at will.
  • I use too much salt.
  • I use no salt.
  • I don’t use high enough heat.
  • I burn them.

Practice makes perfect 😀

A Host of Health Hullabaloo

June begins Month #6 of 2019’s getting our s*** together New Year.

I wish I had better news for you, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Getting our s*** together took a back seat to getting my physical health — and associated sanity — back on track.

I think I went to see a doctor once a week for two months. It was exhausting.

My biggest scare happened the last week of April, when a large, painful lump appeared protruding at the base of my throat.

Two doctor’s appointments, three vials of blood and a sonogram later, and we discovered fluid-filled nodules on my thyroid. Words like “cyst,” “cancer” and “biopsy” were flung about by my primary care physician and the radiology tech.

Eep.

Thankfully, the nodules deflated on their own before my scheduled ENT appointment. The ENT decided that — since they’d shrunk and he saw no solid masses in my sonogram — I didn’t have to have a biopsy.

Hallelujah.

Fluid-filled nodules rarely become solid masses, and solid masses rarely become cancer. However, the ENT said that if the nodules constantly flare and cause constant pain, he’d recommend REMOVING MY THYROID.

No.

I’m keeping that sucker. Stand down, cysts. Stand. Down.

Turns out, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis runs in my family. Another chronic something to add to the chronic list of chronic nonsense in my new normal. (An update on the chronic back pain to come.)

I just sighed heavily.

Filters

Still rocking accident grams.

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Finances

I don’t even know what a retirement account is anymore.

Fitness

Considering I hurt myself doing the most minuscule of movements, I’m giving up on this one. I’m going to sleep in, read books in the evening and enjoy my rolls. I weigh 140 pounds of no-longer-gives-a.

Food

Here’s a win.

No more takeout two or three nights a week. My husband and I cook dinner at home nearly every night. At least four nights a week. Another night is leftovers. Two other nights consist of what a Junior League friend of mine coined as “Snack Dinner” where we fend for ourselves (aka sandwiches).

Here’s an ongoing loss.

My toddler eats six things. “Cackers,” yogurt, Annie’s bunny-shaped macaroni and cheese (Not any other kind of macaroni and cheese. Don’t come at him with some tractor-shaped crap. Only bunnies.), peanut butter sandwiches, “nanas” and toddler pouches.

I see toddlers eating salad on Instagram.

How?

How do you do it?

If you approach my toddler with anything other than those six things, he loses it. We prepare a plethora of different types of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner — and my kid won’t eat any of it.

He doesn’t even eat chicken nuggets.

CHICKEN NUGGETS!

My baby-food baby used to eat soft carrots, mushy peas, blueberries and oatmeal. No more. Last week, I made him a colorful fruit salad of watermelon, blueberries and strawberries for dinner. It was practically dessert. Straight up trash, according to him.

Actual dessert? He’ll eat that. “Coocoos” (cookies), cake, ice cream, chocolate. Loves it.

I guess that’s seven things. I’ll let you know if he deems it necessary to ever eat eight things.

I ate canned beets as a child. They were terrible. But I ate them. Because I was fed them, and you don’t not eat at grandma’s house.

Jeez. This kid.

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Enjoying chocolate “coocoos.”