Monday, March 28, 2011

A couple things I do to stay sane

My biggest time saver is meal planning. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks. Having this planned out a week ahead of time saves time by not doing the million yard stare into the fridge wondering what the hell to fix for dinner at 5:30. Here's how I do it, at the end I'll include recipes and instructions.

On Friday night, I plan next weeks meals. I "shop" my cupboards, fridge and freezer to see what we already have and plan meals around that. Then I make my actual shopping list. Saturdays, I shop based on my meal plan. Sunday is cook/prep day. We always have a ton of meals and snacks that revolve around tortillas and tamales. On cook day I start out with the tortillas. They aren't that hard, but are time consuming-if I'm feeling really ambitious, I try to do two weeks worth. Trust me it doesn't happen often. I love eating tamales, but I hate making them, so I actually do a months worth. To save time during the week, I cook up any ground meat we made need for a dish, chop veg/fruits, cook rice, beans, etc. If we're having any casseroles, I assemble them and throw them in the freezer. I also bake pancakes, waffles, bread and other necessities for breakfasts and lunches. Snacks are tamales, quesadilla, fruit,veg, yogurt and other easy to grab or assemble items.

Another thing that happens on Sunday is outfit assembly. For myself, I hang work pants, shirt, undergarments and socks altogether. That way in the morning I can get up, grab a hanger, pull pancakes or waffles out of the freezer, shower, prepare everyone's breakfast. Seriously, this little tidbit lets me sleep an extra 20mins. After breakfast all I have to do is dress Little Man, put my hair up, brush teeth, a tiny bit of makeup and I am ready to go. I do the same for the hubs, and Little Man's clothes are arranged by outfit in his dresser. I work part time, so I don't have to worry about packing my lunch. Hubby works from home, so I pull something out of the fridge or freezer when I get home and it only takes a few minutes. The rest of my day is spent running errands, cleaning house, job hunting, a little bit of home preschool and the like.

To keep up on laundry, hubby and I did two things. We got rid of a lot of our clothes. It was ridiculous the amount we had. Second, we came up with a new wash routine. At night before bed, I throw a load in. In the morning, hubby switches it to the dryer and throws another load in the washer. Repeat. It turns out we only need to do about two loads a day to keep up with clothes and all the linens. Keep in mind that we live with my dad and have to include his laundry in this equation. When I get home, I help the hubs fold and put away anything he hasn't gotten to yet.

During nap time we pick up any toys or miscellaneous that needs put away. Dishes are rinsed and put in the dishwasher after each meal, or hand washed if they aren't dishwasher safe. After dinner, hubby starts the dishwasher and I dry/put everything away when it's done. While I'm doing that, hubby is picking up any toys, etc. We vacuum as needed, sweep daily, and mop twice a week. The kitchen is cleaned as it's used and the bathroom gets a deep clean once a week.

It sounds like we are always on our toes, but in reality each chore only takes a few minutes (as long as we keep up with it). After we've cleaned up we can hop on the computer, watch a show together or just hang out. It took some rewiring of our brains to adapt to this routine. Neither of us was particularly good at housework, but its totally been worth it. I hope some of this is helpful to y'all and if you have any questions, feel free to ask. I'll answer to the best of my ability. Now, on to some recipes.

My favorite taco seasoning. Thank the stars for

Corn Tortillas
2c masa harina 1 1/4c water

Mix for 4 minutes. Divide into 16-18 pieces, roll into balls. Press using tortilla press lined with wax paper. Transfer to 450F griddle and cook for 20secs. Flip, cook additional 20secs. To freeze, lay wax or parchment paper between each tortilla, put in freezer bag and remove as much air as possible. Good for up to 6 months.

Flour Tortillas
2c All Purpose Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
1tsp salt
2tsp oil or softened butter
3/4c lukewarm milk

Mix for 4 minutes. Divide into 16-18 pieces, roll into balls. Press using tortilla press lined with wax paper. Transfer to 450F griddle and cook for 20secs. Flip, cook additional 20secs. To freeze, lay wax or parchment paper between each tortilla, put in freezer bag and remove as much air as possible. Good for up to 6 months.

Filling Ingredients
4lb Beef roast, pork roast or chicken
broth (beef, chicken or veg) and/or water
4 garlic cloves
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp chili powder-make sure it is salt free
1tsp paprika
1tsp red pepper flakes

9 cups masa harina
3 cups lard
1 tablespoon salt

3 (8oz packages) corn husk

Place meat, garlic, and spices in slow cooker. Use broth and/or water to cover. Cook for 4hrs or until done. Remove garlic cloves, reserve 5c liquid and shred meat with fork. Soak corn husk in large pot or bowl for 3 hours, you may need to use plate or something to weigh them down.

Place lard and salt in large mixing bowel. Whip with electric mixer until fluffy. Slowly add masa harina flour and beat until well combined. Add liquid a little at a time until it resembles soft cookie dough-you may not need to use all the liquid so if some is left over don't sweat it.

Drain corn husks. Lay flat with short end facing you. Evenly spread 2tbsp masa on 2/3 of the husk. Spread 1tbsp shredded meat down middle of masa. Roll corn husk starting with one of the long sides, fold narrow end of corn husk up onto rolled tamale, tie with twine.

Place tamales in steamer basket and steam over boiling water for 1 hour, don't run out of water. Masa should be firm and hold it's shape. Eat immediately, serving in corn husks for everyone to unwrap on their own; or chill in fridge and then freeze. If frozen, place in fridge overnight to thaw, then reheat in steamer or microwave until heated through.

Mexican Casserole
12 corn tortillas, thawed
1lb ground meat-no need to thaw if you've frozen it
1 can re-fried beans or 12oz homemade refritos
1c cooked rice-you will need to thaw this if frozen
1 jar your favorite salsa
8oz shredded cheese-sharp cheddar is my personal fav.
taco seasoning packet or 2tbsp homemade taco seasoning
sour cream or Greek yogurt

In skillet, heat 1 or 2in of oil. Fry tortillas one at a time for 10-20secs. Flip and fry other side for 5-10secs, set on plate to drain. Once you have finished the tortillas, drain oil and wash skillet. Following directions on taco seasoning, pick up after it says to cook meat and drain if using precooked/frozen meat. Don't worry the meat will thaw as you cook it. Add the rice toward the end. After everything is cooked, remove from heat and add re-fried beans. Mix well. In baking dish lay 4 tortillas on bottom, don't mind the gaps or overlaps-this doesn't have to be pretty. Spread meat mixture evenly, salsa on top of that, and a layer of cheese. Repeat, you should end up with tortillas on top. Bake in oven at 350F for 20-25min or until cheese is melted. Serve with sour cream and guacamole. It's a very filling dish, so you should have plenty of left overs for a family of 4.

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