Meal Idea: Walking Tacos

340237_9903My first experience with walking tacos was not a good one. We were at a craft show, and lunch options included a varaity of meals using ground beef. Great idea in theory making multiple different meals out of one big batch of meat, but they failed to realize how unappealing greasy hamburger meat is in a Dorito bag.

Flash forward a few years later, when my significant other requests walking tacos for supper. I was hesitant, because in my mind I had already decided I didn’t like them. It took a little convincing, but I finally decided to give them another shot. I’m so very glad I did, and we’ve made it more than a dozen times since.

To make walking tacos, you need to first start with good taco meat. I recommend making our perfect taco meat. There really is no other way to make it if you want awesome tacos.

Next, you’ll need chips. We always buy a big bag of Doritos, then dish up the chips in bowls.

The rest is a matter of personal preference. Sour cream, cheese, tomatoes, taco sauce, lettuce…whatever you like on a taco should be tossed into your bowl.

That’s it! Fantastic walking tacos your family will love you for! Just be sure to cook your meat right, and they will be perfect. 😉

Easiest Cheesecake Ever

Usually I’m not one for cheating when it comes to making desserts. I like to challenge myself to make it either from scratch, or some obscure version of a box dessert. However, the other day I picked up a container of “Philadelphia Cheesecake Filling”. I’ve always been a big fan of Philadelphia, and really don’t care for any other brand of cream cheese.

Having made cheesecake from scratch before and knowing what a pain it is, I thought I’d give this a shot. All I have to say is holy cow! This was the easiest cheesecake I’ve ever made, and probably the most delicious as well.

All you need is the container of filling and a pie crust (I recommend graham cracker). We added a can of strawberry pie filling to the top, which made it that much better. You might have some left over if you buy the bigger cans, but we like it loaded with strawberry goodness. 😉

Like I said, I’m not one for cheating, but this we’ll be making again. If you spot it at your local store, give it a shot! We highly recommend it. 🙂

Recommended Reading for May

It’s been awhile since we’ve posted anything in Reading Corner, but rest assured we always have a book in hand around here.

Right now I have a few books in progress that I’d like to share with everyone. The first is free for Kindle users, or those who like to read Kindle books on their PC (personally I like to use my Netbook to read in bed!).

 


Great Expectations
There aren’t too many people who haven’t heard of this book, since it’s a very old classic. So old, in fact, that it’s now listed as a Public Domain book on Amazon. This means if you snag the electronic version from Kindle, it’s free.

Great Expectations isn’t a book for everyone, especially if you’ve seen the movie. It’s a difficult book to read because of the older style of writing, but can be quite enjoyable if you manage to get into the story line. Personally I find it hard to read, but still have the desire to finish it.

 


Nightmares & Dreamscapes


First off, let me say I love Stephen King. He is by far my favorite author because of his creative imagination, story telling ability, and style of writing. However, some of his novels can be hard for the average person to read because of their length. That’s where this book comes in.

Nightmares and Dreamscapes has been sitting beside my bed for quite a few months. It’s a collection of short stories writen by Mr. King, so it’s a perfect book to have sitting when you need a quick story or two in between novels. I highly recommend adding this to your book collection, even if you don’t plan to read the entire book immediately.

 


100 Ways to Improve Your Writing


This book, obviously, is only going to appeal to those who are in the business of writing. I felt the need to add it to the list, though, since I do recommend it to anyone looking to improve their writing. Each tip is short, and can be easily applied to current writing. Since I’m always looking to improve, I’ve found this book extremely useful.

 

That’s it for my list for the month! If you have any book suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment. 🙂

Happy Birthday, Buddy!

On Saturday, we celebrated my son’s 11th birthday. I can’t believe how big he’s gotten, and it always makes me a tad bit sad seeing my kids grow up. Can you believe he’s just an inch or two shorter than me now? Where has the time GONE?

We wanted to make his birthday special, so planned a pretty awesome birthday for the kid that didn’t cost us an arm and a leg. He was super pleased with the way the day went. Keep in mind he is in the Autism spectrum, so seeing him happy is a huge accomplishment.

Xbox Games
Like most boys, my son is addicted to his Xbox. We probably could have planned an entire party around it, but decided to go out instead. We did, however, lift the time restrictions we normally put on his game time. For his entire day, he was allowed to play as much Xbox as he could handle. He took full advantage of it, believe that!

If he wouldn’t have already had an Xbox, this would have been an excellent time to get him one. Amazon has them for decent prices, and I probably would have got him one for his birthday. Lucky for us though, he got one for Christmas from grandpa. That allowed everyone to basically give him Microsoft points, Xbox games, and cash so he could get the games he wanted.

Incredible Pizza
If you don’t have an Incredible Pizza in your area, this is something to search for when on family vacations. While they do have birthday packages, we opted to just show up with a few family members (grandparents and immediate family, basically). Everyone got fed, and the adults even joined in on quite a few of the games. Read more about our first trip to Incredible Pizza Incredible Pizza.

Other Ideas
To me, birthdays are an excuse to honor that person for just one day. It’s their special day, and they should be able to do just about anything they want to do within reason. For example, on the kids’ birthdays, they pick out what’s for supper. We clear the day of “adult stuff”, and give them the opportunity to plan the family’s activities for that day. In the case of the boy, though, he picked just playing his Xbox for half the day completely uninterrupted. No chores, no sharing the TV, no “get off that game and do something else”. It’s not something we’d allow every day, but was a special offer for his birthday.

Incredible Pizza happened to appeal to him so much he wanted to go for his birthday, but I realize not everyone has this option. Chucky Cheese, we’ve been told, is too “childish” for an 11-year-old, so we are lucky to have the other option in our area. What if you don’t have an Incredible Pizza? How about arcade rooms, go-kart tracks, science centers, or the zoo? Even a day at an indoor pool can be enough for boy who’s too old for traditional birthday parties.

Every area has something that holds interest to boys, so be sure to ask them for ideas when planning a birthday party. Remember if they don’t like it, they aren’t going to enjoy the day like they should!

What ideas have you used for your boys birthday parties?

Unique Brownie Recipes

The other day I stumbled on a sinfully delicious brownie recipe. Oreo Fudge Brownies, to be exact. It combines all my favorite desserts into one; Oreos, hot fudge, cookies and cream ice cream, and of course, brownies.

I had to attempt making it, so I did. Holy cow, it was FANTASTIC. All you need is a brownie mix, hot fudge sundae topping, the ice cream, and Oreos. See the link above for mouth-watering pictures and directions. Trust me, you will not be disappointed with this warm and gooey chocolate treat.

Now I was about to dub this the best brownie recipe I’ve ever had, but then I came across another…The Brownie That Will Change Your Life.

The blog post title alone made me stop and read more. I had just made the Oreo Fudge Brownies, and still had a few left over, but I still wanted to make these. I haven’t just yet, because it does look like there are a few more steps than the Oreo recipe. I’m sure most people will agree we want to do the least amount of work possible when it comes to cooking. Yet this SO looks worth the time and effort, and is on my list of things to do this week.

If you have a favorite unique brownie recipe, be sure to leave a comment or contact us! We are always looking for more!

Backyard Garden Ideas

Spring is finally here, and it’s time to start planning our gardens!

It’s hard to believe 10 years ago I was just starting on my first vegetable garden, and attempting to overwhelm myself with too many varieties of plants. Luckily my dad stepped in with a tiller and tomato plants, or we wouldn’t have had a good harvest at all.

Over the years we’ve tried several different types of gardens and techniques. Some have failed, some have not. The important thing is we’ve learned from our mistakes.

For those just starting out with a beginner backyard vegetable garden, I have three suggestions.

1. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a great starter plant for beginners or with limited space. It’s recommended you start with a live plant from your local nursery, or start your plant inside. Planting seeds directly in the ground doesn’t work as well, although it can be done.

These little buggers grow almost anywhere, and don’t take up a whole lot of space. I know the popular thing is to buy those new “hanging” tomato plants, but I’ve yet to hear anything good about the way they grow or how much they produce. With any common soil, though, you can grow your own tomatoes in the dirt. Sure it’s not as “clean”, but who wants to stay dirt-free while gardening? Isn’t the point to play in the dirt? 😉

2. Peppers
These work especially well for those with very limited space or a small backyard, and for those who can easily pull weeds around the pepper plants. They take a little extra work sometimes, but are worth it. Especially in the midwest, peppers are slightly picky. With proper care, though, any variety can be a hearty plant with decent yeild.

Peppers are also a perfect compliment to your tomatoes (the two together make EXCELLENT homemade salsa!). Just make sure you leave enough room between them, or the tomatoes will take over and kill your pepper plants.

3. Pumpkins

If you are really ambitious or have the space, you may also want to think about planting pumpkins. These come in handy around Halloween, which is about the time you’ll see your best harvest.

A huge warning with pumpkins, though – they will take up A LOT of space, and will grow in places you may not want them. Also, if your area has a problem with squash bugs, you may end up with nothing (it took us two tries of having the squash bugs eat everything before we finally gave up). However, some areas have no problems growing pumpkins, so it’s something you can try if you have the room to do so.

Looking forward to hearing your backyard garden ideas!