Is anyone else feeling a little "ughhhhh" right now? When the family cook's bandwidth is stretched thin, we rely on these clever hacks to provide nutritious meals for our families on a budget, from quick and easy grilled cheese nights to roasted vegetable soups and BLT chicken salads.
Caitlin & Jenny
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CK & GK
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It's Tuesday. It sure is. We are so glad that you are here. And it's the first Tuesday in a while because I don't know if you know this, but the entire state of Texas froze, and half of my trees fell. I'm so sorry.
We lost four full trees we had to take down. And then we have, like, 20 something trees on our little property space, and every single one of those trees had, like, a giant branch fall down. Oh, my gosh. So I live on Fallen oaks Drive, and, you know, there were jokes all over the neighborhood, facebook group about us living on the street that's lived up to its name. How did your trees do that?
They do okay. We are fortunate because we had had ours trimmed pretty recently, so we lost a few branches here and there, but they stood up. John proposed to me under the century tree at Texas A M, and it's this big, traditional oak tree that's out in the big plaza. And the tradition is that if you walk under it with someone that you love, you'll be together forever. Cute.
Yeah, it's adorable. And then one year for Mother's Day, he bought me a seedling that was grown from an acorn that was collected from that tree. Stop. Right. That's precious.
So we have babied this tree like, you think we spoil our dogs? You should see how we treat this tree. When the freeze happened a couple of years ago, we made a tent for it, and anytime our power was on, we were running heaters out to the tree. Oh, my goodness. So when this tree froze and it bent over to the ground, we were in mourning, but it came back to life.
It just sprung right back up once it thawed. So when we were gone, when we were out of town, there was that freeze that happened here. And it wasn't like a rain freeze. It was just a hard freeze that happened, and it killed our palms, our sago palms that are like the load of the ground flash looking palms. It killed them.
And that also happened a couple of years ago, and then they came back. And so there's still, like, just yellow seagull palms, and I don't know if they're going to come back, but there is also a mountain of branches and limbs and all kinds of things that were trimmed down because one of our trees fell into the street. So we had we had neighbors who were very kind and came by and chopped it up for us and put it out. But now there's yeah, but now there's a mountain of stuff out in front of our yard. You can't even see the house, like, if you're driving by, because there's a tree there that high, it's, like, chopped up into it's a tree kit.
Right, exactly. It's like a puzzle.
And for those of you who live in a climate where freeze is normal. You do not understand what this means to Texas. It is not normal for the temperature to drop below 30 here. It is just not. And so when it does, and it's coupled with precipitation, the entire state has to shut down.
Right. It wasn't that it was cold, right? And it wasn't even super, super cold. I think it was like 27, 28. Like that's taller, especially.
Like, I grew up in Colorado. I'm very much used to that. It's not the temperature. It's the humidity and the precipitation that caused problems. I mean, we're talking half inch to an inch thick pieces of ice on every branch.
And when you do that, that's like the weight of a car. A friend of mine actually posted that it's the weight of 540 corgis.
And it was like a picture of an oak tree with corgis in the tree. Favorite unit of measurement, 540 corgis. Oh, my gosh. Because they got those fluffy booties and you got to take that into account, man. Right?
Right. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Okay, well, anyhow, welcome back. Sorry that we took such a long break, but we're back.
And for those of you who are joining us for the first time, you do know that we probably have names. I'm Jenny. And with me is Caitlin. Sometimes we call her the polar Bear because she really knows how to break the ice. Oh, wow.
Cute. I like that one. Well, my friend Jenny here grew up singing Christmas carols in a sears while her mom shoplifted. That joke would have been so much better if I hadn't stuttered. Anyway, she grew up singing Christmas carols in a sears while her mom shoplifted.
Just like jenna marrone from 30 Rock. Who's. Nice singing. I feel like I have to leave that in. Absolutely funny.
Absolutely. All right, real quick, we have a couple of shout outs, but there's so many we've gotten a ton of new reviews lately, so I'm just going to post them on social. But I wanted to say a quick thank you to all of the people who've been reviewing our show, especially on Apple podcasts. It helps us so much. And just thank you if you're one of those people.
But let's catch up, right? We really need to okay, so let me tell you what I'm obsessed with right now, okay? And it happened because, like many of us, I am not in the greatest place when it comes to mental health recently, which means I wake up in the middle of the night and I need to doomscroll. And so I have been going to YouTube, and of course, like, I would love to see their file on me, because my algorithm is nuts. The stuff that they are suggesting to me is so funny.
And the other night? It was Rocky Mountain rug cleaning. Wait, is this the people who soap up a rug and then scrub all the dirt out of it? The most satisfying stuff on the planet. Yes.
Why does YouTube know I need this in the middle of the night? I don't understand. But they were like, this chicken woke up from an anxiety dream. Let's show her a dirty rug and then clean it. That is incredibly satisfying.
Also, if you have not watched people get their cars cleaned, the car detailing will make you so happy. It is people going in with, like, little scrub brushes and cleaning out every single surface of these cars until they sparkle and shine on the inside and they look like brand new cars. I feel like I just need to have someone do that with my soul, like, go in there and get all of that junk out.
Oh, the question I asked one of my friends last night was, are you dead inside? And she was like, yes, I am. And it's like, okay, maybe you just need a detail for yeah, maybe that's it. It might make you feel like Rocky Mountain rug. Okay.
But I have to tell you, Rocky Mountain Rug Cleaning, he has two pieces of equipment that he has nicknamed. One is a scrub brush thing that's called Dirt Reynolds.
And the other one is like this vacuum rinser off her machine. I don't know what it is, but it's called R Two clean Two. Yes. Okay, hold on. It has, like a flat head on it and it kind of like shoots.
Yeah, I want one of those for my couch. Okay. I'm really close to buying we bought a carpet cleaner years ago. It's a game changer when you own your own and you don't have to go rent it, and then it comes with all those attachments. So I'm a big proponent because if you rent it like, you rent it for $60 from the grocery store or whatever, the Home depot or one of those places, I guess I should say the Orange store, but whatever, you rent it from one of those places, it's a one time deal.
Like, for two rentals, you can own your own machine. Yeah. It's amazing. Okay, so the other thing I'm obsessed with right now is reefing. This looks like something I see this in the notes and I'm like, right, this could go one of two ways.
And I know which way I thought it was. If you're into this hobby, you're a reefer. Okay. It's building a salt water tank. Okay.
Right. But it could go another way, like one of my assessors at a time. Something that's going to get me fired. I came here from Colorado. I know what I think of when I hear reefer and reefer.
And also, to be fair, the pair of sandals that are like my favorite flip flops are also reefs. reefs. So my mind was just, yeah. Okay, tell me about this. What are you doing?
So we have decided that since we never eat it at our dining room table and never use the dining room for anything besides putting the dog in a crate. We are turning it into a lounge. We're going to have this little den space, and in it we're going to put an awesome saltwater tank. I would call it a ba saltwater tank. Okay, nice.
We are learning all about it. There's a lot of research and a lot of training that you have to do before you start saltwater. It's not like freshwater, where you're like, today I'm going to get a goldfish, and you just, like, get a bowl and put a fish in it. But John and I have become super obsessed with it, and it has been kind of fun for us to share a hobby. We've started going to fish stores, and now we're looking up books and watching YouTube together about building a fish tank.
But I love that if you are a saltwater aquarium hobbyist, you are a reefer. That's a really cool name for it. I'm into that. And that's going to be awesome in your house, by the way. That will be really cool.
Thanks. I just feel like we have a whole room right now that nobody uses. And I read an article pre pandemic that said most people don't use 40% of their house. And I remember reading it and saying, that is not going to be me. I am not going to have spaces in my house that I don't use.
Even our guest bedroom is where I'm recording this podcast right now. We try to make sure that every space in our house is used regularly. And right now, the dining room just isn't. It's our dog's bedroom, and that's it. So we're getting rid of the table.
We will probably keep her puppy house there, but other than that, we're putting in some comfy chairs, fish tank. We're going to put in a nice stereo. It's just going to be a little dent. I like it. It'll be a really awesome space.
Thanks. Okay, what are you obsessed with now? Okay, so I have to start by talking about rihanna and the halftime show. Okay, so here's the thing. We went to a party and drove home during half time, and I feel like that was a poor choice on my part.
It was. You needed to drive home during the second quarter. Yeah, there was, like, some FOMO here because okay, first of all, not me and everyone else on Earth. googling. Did brianna just tell us that she was pregnant?
Because she totally did. But also she's up super high. She is performing in front of millions of people while pregnant. Also, like, eight or nine months postpartum. So to be clear, she just grew a human, is recovering, and is now currently growing another human, and she's like, 34 years old.
Oh, my gosh. Yes. And then she's sky high. And then she's got this very people were saying, oh, she doesn't have any energy. And I'm like, have you ever gestated, because if you've gestated a human, then you need to know the energy level.
I was like, really proud of myself for doing a ten k while I was pregnant. And let's be real, I said doing a ten k, not running a ten k. Hey, you walked it. It's all good. I ran some of it.
I ran some of it, but I did not run the whole thing. I could not imagine doing a half time show. No. And also, keep in mind those are unpaid performances. Did you know that?
They are not paid for those performances because they are not paid for them. They get them sponsored. That's why it's like the pepsi halftime show. Yeah, exactly. But that's why because they're the ones who are paying for it.
But she's not paid for that work. None of the performers are there's that but then also to me, she's just got this very chillaxed and laid back vibe. Anyway, when I see her performing, I was thinking, like, she's making this look so effortless and cool. She's into it, but she's just vibing, and it was just all good vibes from her. And I really loved it.
So I'm a little bit obsessed with anytime I see people bagging on her, I'm like, you need to stop, and we're going to run through these three reasons why you need to shut up. So that's one thing. But another thing that is really unhealthy is we've talked about this before, but I am very much a fan of mmp, which is the murdoch Murders podcast with Andy matte and Liz ferrell. Well, that trial is happening now, and it's been on for like three and a half weeks. And I've been watching way too much Court TV, like, way too much correct if I'm wrong, but isn't Court TV, like, your husband's work from home background noise?
Yes, and it's also now my work from home background noise. He's an attorney. Yes, he's an attorney. I'm just watching it because I'm like, the trial is finally here and I've been listening to this podcast for a year. Oh, my God.
It's just me losing my mind and needing to know what's going to happen. There have been some pretty stellar snarky witness comments that I am just all around here for. One of them was a medical examiner who, when she was cross examined by the defense, said something along the lines of, like, well, yeah, that's your opinion, and your opinion can differ from mine, but that doesn't make it the truth. And I was like, what? Another one was an agent for this investigative body saying something to the effect of some of the best confessions I've gotten were from defense attorneys.
And the defense attorney happened to be on a recording with this man who was on trial. And everyone was like, oh, in the in. Yeah. And the judge, the honorable Judge clifton newman of South Carolina, and yes, I do know his name and his memory. He also did the charleston the church shooting trial, which is how I was first introduced to him.
But this man is he seems to be a very good judge and fair judge. So I'm just going to put that out there. But the honorable Judge clifton newman hears the defense have some sort of objection. And he goes, oh, you have an objection? Surprise, surprise.
And I was just like, this not what I am here for. It's just been so shocking. And I have way more background knowledge on this trial than I should. And yet here I am being like almost every day. So it's been unbelievable.
And I feel kind of gross, like, being so into it in a lot of ways. My gosh. Even though people were like all about, right? But there are people who died, right? Like, this is a murder trial, right?
So I feel like you're like honoring their memory. That's the thing that is coming out of this for me is that I'm really seeing the human part of this. And that's how I've sort of when I've been like, I've been watching this too much because it is really hard to listen to sometimes. I've been like, you know what? These are people who were killed in a horrible way.
It is okay to step back and go, you know what? You need to turn on some, like, ambient noise that isn't this trial and let yourself think about nothing. Because by remembering that these are actual human people and by having heavy feelings, you are actually absorbing the fact that this is real. This is not just it's not Johnny Dan. It's not for my johnny depth was awful, don't get me wrong, but that was like my husband watched every minute of that trial.
But it's a very different thing. It is not. And again, those were people's lives. That was real things that happened. But that was very much a lot of people absorbing that particular trial as like, it's pure entertainment.
This is celebrity news, right? But this is like, when I feel like it's heavy, I can just go, it's heavy because it's humans. I'm remembering that these are humans ultimately, and that whatever happened in this situation is absolutely gutting for everyone. So that's another I'm having to balance my own need to know what happened with my mental health at the same time. So I am I'm doing better about it most recently, but oh, my goodness, I cannot stop watching unless I'm, like, really down off of it.
But the other thing, I have a new obsession, but it's for you. I have your new obsession. Are you ready? You can't because our cameras are off. But I got you something for galentine's day because of course I did.
Oh, my God. And the first thing that I got you is an Led night light. But they're mushrooms.
They're little mushrooms that are going to grow out of your socket and they're peace. And I felt like you had to have it. I totally need that. You need it. But the thing that you really needed is something that you actually said in one of our recent episodes and I don't even know that you said it, but you dropped this bomb.
And I was like, she really does need this thing. And I think you were talking about it when you were mentioning why you were late for work one day and it was because you were rearranging the condiment in your fridge. Yes. And I was like, well sometimes that's what you need, you need to do this. And you were like, you need a label maker.
And so what you don't know is that in my hand I have a pink label maker here that you connect to your phone and you can design your little labels and then you print them out in real time and it will never run out of ink because it's like that photo like heat paper stuff. Yeah, and I have a green one that matches. I already love this. Oh my god, that's amazing. So yeah, you're going to love it and everything is going to be labeled at my house.
People will be like, yeah I know this is a toilet, you don't need a label. And I'm like, no idea. Well earlier we were looking for some cords or something and my husband's like, no don't worry about it now. And I was like, no you don't understand. If we do this right now organism right now I can use the label maker, right?
So I did. They never understand. No, and it doesn't matter who they are. It's like anyone outside your brain does not understand unless you have this like ADHD hypercompulsive need to organize your folders for your folders, for your folders, right? You don't understand.
And then when you can't find anything because later the logic of why you have 15 different folders for all those things doesn't come back to you. You need the labels. Okay? That's like the common joke in our house is like, oh jen, did you organize my such and such? And that's like John's way of saying he can't find whatever it is, right?
Did you organize it? Yeah, probably. The other thing is I last week put a sticky note on my planner because something really important was happening but I did not write it on the sticky note, I just put the sticky note. So I have no idea what was important, but it was important enough that I should have written it out. I have started when I do stuff like that, I do something weird along with it.
So if I'm supposed to remember something and something comes to my brain at a rare time and I don't have the ability to like write it down in that moment I will do something stupid along with it. So like the other day. I don't even know what it was now because I wrote it down and so it's out of my brain now. But something came up and I was like, oh, that would be so good to tweet out or something. And then I found the yoga mat that's, like, next to me and I threw it into the middle of the floor.
And when I did that, I was able to turn around and I was like, why is the yoga mat in the middle of the floor? Oh, because I was going to write and I remember something, but I don't remember what that was. Yeah. So it's just a matter of, like, getting the systems out of your brain and onto a piece of paper, or in your case, onto a little sticky sticker thing that you customize the label and make it look the way you want. So now you have a label maker along with your shroom night lights.
I feel like the label maker might need a holster that I can just wear it wherever I go. It has a little thing on it. First of all, it does have a case, but I didn't get you the case because I wasn't sure which one you'd want. But second of all, it does have a little thing for you to put, like, a loop on it so that you can wear it around your wrist. One of those, like what we got when you would get your new digital camera in 2004.
Or like, your remote because you didn't want to throw it across the room when you're bowling, right? It's exactly one of those. Yes. That's amazing. So that's going to be your new obsession.
All right, so now it's time for everyone's favorite part of the show, the gems of the week. And I have to do a Disney dump because you guys know that my family loves going to Disney World. We're not like total Disney adults, right? We're not dressing up or getting Disney tattoos or naming our kids by Bell or something, or mufasa.
Does someone name their kid to Buffalo? I don't know. I think some people probably do. Okay, so we had a trip to Disney scheduled for October, and there was only one hurricane that made landfall during hurricane season last year. And it happened to be in Florida at the very same weekend that we were scheduled to go to Disney World, which was both terrible and amazing.
Terrible because we had to cancel our trip. Amazing because Disney World actually had to close, which means that we got a full refund. Yeah. So we were able to completely reschedule the trip for the same amount of dollars. That's nice.
It was amazing. So we went a couple of weekends ago. First off, let me tell you this. If you are going to go to Disney and you can afford to go during the school year, january is the time to go. We went the weekend after President's Day week or after mlk weekend.
Okay, so it it was not a holiday weekend. My school does not have classes on Friday. If you are part of a four day week district or your district is considering going to a four day week, let me just tell you, it's amazing for your kids. They are really going to benefit. Yes, I know that school provides childcare and we can go down this road and have it be its own episode.
But as a teacher, let me tell you how powerful it is to meet with other teachers on Friday and deeply study teaching and learning rather than just talk about like, okay, well, so and so needs to be on time to their lunch duty or else it's not going to work. Like, those are the kind of meanings that you have in a five day work week. In a four day work week, friday is upheld as this beautiful growth for teachers where we become better and serve your kids better. Wow. That said, I took a Friday off.
Yeah. And because abigail already didn't have class, she also took a Friday off. Nice. And I didn't have to do that thing where I'm like, I'm a teacher who's taking my kid out of school to go to Disney World. School is already canceled.
There's no school on Friday. This Frank. So we went. It was amazing. We did not have to wait in line for rides.
Like, maybe 20 minutes sometimes. Yeah, that's nice. But by 05:00 on the first day, john and I are looking at each other at Magic Kingdom and saying, what else do you want to do? Wow. Because we had done all of the must dos for that day.
So we went for only three days. It was whirlwind. You can't do all of the parks in three days? Yes, physically you can, but like, to really enjoy them. No.
So we actually did Magic epcot and then back to Magic. It was amazing. The first night, we check into the hotel, we decide that we're going to prank Kit. He goes into the bathroom. abby, John and I hide behind the bed and we are like, okay, I wonder if he's going to notice that we're gone.
He comes out of the bathroom and instead of like, where are you all, you got me. Or oh, no. What happened? He just goes, anybody? Like, you've been transported to a different dimension.
We're right here also. Exactly. Yes. This is the four year old who rode every throw ride in the park, including the new guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster, which was amazing. And I can understand why people would throw up on it.
It moves a lot. He gets off of that and yells, I'm ready for Space Mountain. This is the kid who is, quote, ready for Space Mountain. And he wrote it and he loved it, but he's also afraid of every character including the human ones. Okay.
Like, he wouldn't meet rapunzel. Oh, dear. mickey came to our table, and he hid underneath the table, and I just thought it was hilarious to get inside his mind and be able to figure out why is Space Mountain not scary, but mickey Mouse is a giant mouse who doesn't talk but has a really big head. Isn't spooky to you. Okay, I can see why that when you say it that way.
Yes. Okay, so then why is cinderella so creepy? Because he wouldn't meet her either. Yeah, that's a little different. Right?
Okay. While we were at epcot, they were having the Festival of the Arts, which they commonly and lovingly referred to as farts. Nice. Right. I'm here for it.
I love it. And they have a game where you can find different pieces of artwork throughout epcot. abigail was obsessed to the point where I was, like, tired of it, and she was like, no, we have to find this other one. Where is it? It's in morocco somewhere.
So we're, like, looking for all this art, and we stayed at Caribbean Beach, which is a Disney resort. You've heard me say before, I love staying on Disney property. There's so many benefits to it. One that just to me is priceless is you can get into the parks earlier than people who aren't staying at Disney property, so you can get in line for rides before other people are in line. That's amazing.
But we stayed at Caribbean Beach, which would never have been one that I was interested in staying in. It just didn't stand out to me as something interesting. I am telling you, it is my new favorite hotel. The building that we were in was right by the bus stop. Caribbean beach is on the skyliner, which is the gondola.
So when we left epcot, we got right on a gondola, got right off at our hotel. We went down Friday night to the main area of the resort. They had a live band, they had an outdoor bar. They have a killer pool. It was great.
In addition, they have a beach where you can see the fireworks. That's nice. And it's one of the moderately priced ones. Now, this is moderately priced in Disney dollars. You understand that that means that it just costs an arm.
Not an arm and a leg, but right. I'm a big fan. Caribbean beach. Who knew? And the facility is, like, nice.
Like, you felt like your room was. Oh, our room was great. It had two queen beds and a pull out Murphy bed. Okay. So one night, I even got to sleep by myself.
Yeah. And we were on a first floor room, which was clearly designed to be ada accessible. So we had a roll in shower instead of a bathtub, which was really great because I could throw both kids in the shower and say, Go get cleaned up. And it was i. Mean, who's taking a bath on vacation, right?
If you're going on a vacation where you're trying to relax, sure, I have taken some pretty great baths on vacation, but if you're going to Disney World, you're coming back from your park day at like ten or eleven at night. All you want to do is wash the dirt and sweat and tears off your body. Yeah. sunscreen and bug spray and all that other stuff. Yeah, right.
Wow. Well, that's awesome. I'm so glad that you had a good time. That makes me really happy. And now I have some good tips on where to stay because we haven't done the Disney thing with Sam yet.
But oh my God, when you do, you know I'm going to heavily promote my travel agent, because I was going to say, give me your travel agent. You heard about this? Like, Disney travel agents cost $0. This is my biggest advice to every person planning a vacation to Disney World. disneyland.
A Disney cruise. Disney paris. It doesn't matter where you're going if it has Disney in the name, there is a person out there who will plan your trip for free. Yeah. You got to do it.
That's amazing. Okay. You. Me. Okay.
So mine is pretty basic, but I love what just happened. So Sam is playing basketball again this season. Nice. And he's going to be a three and D guy, which for those of us who are not basketball people, that means that he's only going to play defense and he's only going to shoot threes, and that's all he'll ever do, and we're okay with that. He's a really good defender, but he really has no interest in being in the key and trying to get the ball and fighting through all that stuff, which is fine.
So he finishes his game yesterday, and when they're kind of transitioning between one game and another, there's a little boy who's shooting baskets while Sam is doing something else. And my husband is there and he's wearing his Rice sweatshirt. So I like it because his name is Rice and it's spelled like Rice, and it just makes me happy to have him wear the sweatshirt. But his dad is a Rice graduate, so Rice is kind of a big deal for him. And for those of you who don't know, rice is a very prestigious university in Houston, if I understand correctly.
I'm pretty sure the Kennedy speech, we do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Ask not what you can do for your country, but what your country can do for you. I think he did that at Rice University. Really? I think so.
Interesting. I don't know the answer to that, but that would be really cool. I do know that President Kennedy spoke there and gave a very famous address. I don't know, but I think it is. Yeah.
Okay. Well, I mean, people who go to Rice you're a very smart person if you're graduating from there. It's got a wonderful reputation in terms of who's going and graduating. It's extremely small, and they have a house system, allah hogwarts, where most students live on campus all four years because you all live in the same quote unquote house. It has its own dining hall, own library, and you get to know your housemates.
There's only 3500 kids at the whole university. Anyhow, it's a small little school. Yeah, which is part of why it's, like, so prestigious. Right? So my husband's wearing this very sweatshirt, and this little boy comes up to him and he's like, where did you get that?
And bryce is like, oh, it's a college in Houston. And the little boy goes, oh, I didn't know that. And he kind of has this perplexed look on his face. And then it occurs to bryce and to myself that this little boy thought that my husband was wearing a sweatshirt that was promoting Rice the food.
It took us a minute. We were like, wait, why is that such a big deal? Because he thought that my husband was wearing a sweatshirt for food. And I was just like, this is the most precious it wasn't my kid.
I wanted to go up to his family and just be like, your little boy just made my day. Like, this is the cutest little thing. Just being like, oh, I didn't know that. But he knew what the word was because he went up to rice and he read the word. He was like rice.
Where am I getting and I just loved that so much. And that was the sweetest little thing. But that's just the sweet baby thought it was a celebration of food. And you know what? I also celebrate rice.
But at that time, it was just oh, my gosh. Well, it makes me wonder, like, what food do I want a sweatshirt of? Because right now, currently, I am wearing a T shirt that says coffee, Coffee, coffee. And that's a Laura gilmore reference. But also, like, bring me all the coffee.
And I have plenty of T shirts that I've picked up at local breweries around town. But what food would I support on a T shirt? I don't know. Does it count to be supporting food if you constantly have food on your shirt because you are incapable of eating without spilling on yourself? Well, in that case, I'm wearing both a coffee shirt and a steamed mussels shirt.
That was the last possible combination I expected to come out of your mouth. That's hysterical. Oh, my goodness. Well, let's talk about food a little bit. We're going to do a real quick promo from one of our friends, and then we're going to come back with some struggling ish meals.
Yeah, let's do it. Okay, we're back, and we've been talking about food. We've been talking about rice, the university and the food. We've been talking about coffee and steam mussels. And what we need to do is also somehow weave this into the conversation that you and I had earlier, which is sometimes mental health and bandwidth and all of that is just at an all time low.
But you still have to feed your family. And so we're talking about meals that you make for your family when you're struggling, right? So here's the thing. There are so many bloggers out there, and don't get me wrong, I am all for the woman who has decided, like, hey, I'm already doing this. I might as well blog about it and make some money.
Good for you. Oh, for sure. Get it. But let me tell you this. I am not here to tell you about these cutesy meals that like, oh, I just thought of this and invented it.
No, this is the junkiest. Junk that I throw together and rely on because Wednesday is flag football practice or Friday nights is flag football. Okay? I don't know who invented this league, but my four year old plays games at 06:00 p.m.. And my eleven year old plays at nine.
And as a mom 09:00 p.m. P m on a Friday night yeah, like Friday night, the last thing I want to do is sit at the ball field and pretend to care about flag football. No offense to my children who are probably going to listen to this. It's fine. It's not them.
It's the time of day. Right. Don't even worry about it. But this is like so these are things I just rely on, right? This is like, you know what, I literally cannot do one more thing.
I cannot do one more thing. So I'm not going to here's how you're going to eat tonight. So I'm going to start with something that you can plan ahead to not have a plan. Yes. Okay, so the way we do the grocery list in my family is I already told you this.
I have like the self care calendar where it's every day of the week, you're supposed to write something that you're going to do to take care of yourself. And I just use it as a meal plan, right? So at least one day a week, I rely on my crock Pot or my pressure cooker. And I am old school pressure cooker. I do not have a name brand Instant pot.
I have the 1970s, they exploded and like, blew up cook it on the stove pressure cooker. Oh, yeah, brave. But they're the same. They're the same. Like, it's just a sealed pot that gets really hot and uses pressure to help the cooking process.
But crock Pot and pressure cooker are the same thing. So here's the thing. If you are making food in the crock Pot or the pressure cooker, it comes out soggy and soft every time. That's just how these devices work. So what I have learned to make it seem amazing and delicious and like, oh, Mom, I can't believe you made this.
I throw it under the broiler for two or three minutes. Smart. Okay, so pot roast, you take it out, you put it under the boiler for a few minutes, it gets crispy. We do pulled pork tacos at least two or three times a month. Okay?
Yeah. jaco, who's been on the show before, she talked about the fun and funerals. She gave me this recipe for tacos a million years ago. And the final step is shred the meat and throw it under the broiler while you get everything else ready. I am talking two or three minutes under the broiler, and it gets crispy and delicious, and it looks like you roasted it in the oven for hours.
That's smart. It completely changes a meal. So here's my hack. You buy that preseason fajita chicken. You know what I'm talking about?
It's like $6. It comes in a big sealed zipper bag, and it's normally on sale. Like, if you're a Texas person, heb is doing a meal deal with it. And you're like getting free everything else. You freeze that stuff the night before, take it out of the freezer and let it thaw.
If you're worried about diseases, you let it thaw in the fridge. If you're like me and you say, you know what? I love my kids, and whatever happens, happens. You just put it on the counter. You dump the chicken in the crock Pot.
You don't put anything else. You don't need to season it. You don't need to put cream of chicken. You don't need to put a can of blah, blah, blah. You don't do any of that.
You just put it in the crock Pot, you turn it on low, and you let it go. When you get home and you are ready to eat, put the broiler on 500. Put that chicken on a cookie sheet. It's already shredded itself by cooking all day. Yeah, it's falling apart.
And you just put it under the boiler for a few seconds while you lay out all the other white people taco nigg stuff.
White people taco night. Yes. That's genius. The broiler, it is a game changer. I hadn't thought to do that.
I love crockpot meals, especially because you can get a lot of leftovers out of them, right? But sometimes the texture is a problem. My family is a big, texture based, person like group of people. I hadn't thought to do that. That's genius.
Okay, here's my hack. Ready? Breakfast for dinner. Do it. Breakfast for dinner.
Sometimes cereal is okay. It is okay to give your kids cereal, right, and present it as fun, right? This is like, we never do this. We're going to do breakfast for dinner. And you know what, leslie?
noah had it right when she was eating waffles all the time. Oh, my gosh, she did. I will eat waffles. Like, put some peanut butter on it. I was just going to say good waffle with peanut butter.
Yeah, do it. It's amazing. It's so good. My college roommate, she used to love her mom would do popcorn and milkshakes. And as she's telling me this, and we're in our late teens, early 20s, she's coming to the realization, like, we always did popcorn and milkshakes at the end of the month.
But it was so special. It was so fun to do popcorn and milkshakes for dinner. And I'm like, yes, as long as you make it special. And it's not like every night, cereals for dinner. It's a great go to, especially when you get those, like, tiny baby cereals and everyone gets to choose their flavor.
That feels so special. And really what it is, is you opening a box, right? And yet everyone's over the moon because today they got Apple jacks, and then they also got Corn pops. It's a great thing. So breakfast for dinner is one of my hacks, and if you have to use it, go for it.
No one's going to judge. Again, this is not a cute mommy blog. Like, I live in a farmhouse, and I'm going to tell you two and a half years worth of stories. And then you click jump to recipe. There are no recipes here.
If there is not a jump to recipe at the top of the page, I am not staying there, and your Pin is now dead to me. Right? How beautiful that pin. Put the Jump to recipe at the top of the page. I do it for our show.
It says, jump to the real talk at the top of the page because don't nobody want to read all that stuff. No. So if you don't have it there gross. ew. Anyway, what else you got for me?
Because I need more ideas. All right. Roasted any vegetable can be soup. Oh, okay. Roasted any vegetable can be soup.
Okay. Roasted tomatoes. Puree them. Add some chicken broth. Oh, you made homemade tomato soup.
You are so fancy. Also, it's only 100 calories per serving. Roasted carrots. Add some chicken broth. Puree it.
Oh, my God. You made carrot soup. Add some ginger. Now it's carrot ginger soup. And that's something they serve at a restaurant.
Roasted any vegetable is a soup. And so here's what I do. I know that so and so, saturday or Sunday, I actually don't have something planned. And rather than fill that day with, oh, I'm going to meal plan 300 meals, and here's me serving 500 people for only $11 a month. Like, that's not real.
But I can tell you that it's pretty easy for me to slice roma tomatoes in half, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, throw them in the oven, and roast them for 30 minutes, and then puree them with some chicken broth or veggie broth if you want it to be vegetarian, right? Like, if you use veggie broth, it's vegan. Now, I have a stick blender. You don't have a stick blender. You just pour it in the whole blender.
You don't have a blender, okay? You just mash it with your hand like it's fine. It's tomato soup that didn't come from a can, isn't laden with salt. Again, is 100 calories. And you made it yourself.
It freezes beautifully. Freeze it in a container. Freeze it in a single serve container. Freeze it in a ziploc bag. I don't care.
Freeze it in an ice cube container. Yeah, ice cube trays, whatever. But I always have soup in my freezer, because when I make soup, I always make a double batch. It doesn't take that much more work, and I'm going to pivot from that and kind of piggyback. Also, if I'm making meatballs, I am making too many meatballs, because every time, it only takes ten more minutes to roll out more meatballs.
Right? It's the same amount of effort to mix the meat. It's the same amount of effort to bake them in the oven. And I don't do them on the stovetop. I'm not fancy.
I roll them out, I put them on a sheet pan that's lined in foil so I can throw it away at the end, and I bake them in the oven. And then half of them go in ziplock bags in the freezer, already cooked, ready to go. So all I have to do is thaw them and sometimes thaw them. Looks like throwing them frozen into a jar of spaghetti sauce on the stove and just letting the spaghetti sauce thaw the meatballs. I'm not even kidding you.
I've done that. No, I do that. Okay? I don't even microwave them. But again, I am not a meal prep.
Let's plan for a month at a time. I plan a week at a time because that's how often I want to go to the grocery store. But meatballs are such an easy go to. Frozen soup. Same thing.
Love it. And when it's homemade soup and you're serving it like, oh, this is tomato soup I made. Or this is carrot soup or cauliflower or potato. I really like to make butternut soup. My husband thinks it's super fancy.
It's not. I just add a little pumpkin pie spice. There's. My that makes it sound fancy. I like to have those in the freezer ready to go, because all you have to do is thaw it, and you can throw it in a pot of hot water.
Yeah, you don't even have to be, like, thinking about it ahead of time. Smart. Okay, your turn. Okay. Speaking of tomato soup, grilled cheese night, right?
Do grilled cheeses. And you don't have to use fancy cheese. Okay. This isn't Chef. We're not going to go out with all the stuff.
This is me making sure that my house always has single, sliced, packaged American cheese at the house. And some margarine or mayonnaise, however you like to put on. And then I use the griddle. Like, we have, like, a bag cast, and we just put all that we have two burners going, and I just put all the sandwiches on the griddle, and I cook them all at the same time. Okay.
And it's just way easier. And I have a little timer that's right there, and I do, like, a minute and a half to a minute, 45 on each side. Done. Easy. Grilled cheese night.
And everyone loves it. And you put it with some tomato soup, and it's amazing. It's amazing. And you can level it up with, like, oh, I'm going to put some turkey on it or some roast beef from the deli. I am not talking about real fancy meat.
No. This is like, we take the slice of ham, right, and we put it in between the pieces of cheese. Yes. And then that's how yeah, and now we've got protein. So let me tell you this.
Gordon ramsay. Who I adore. Right. He's famous for putting the f in food. But, like, I named my dog after him.
I think he's amazing. Rap ramsay. She was an English bulldog. It was a perfect name. Come on.
Yes, it is. Anyhow, his favorite meal is grilled cheese and tomato soup, because you cannot beat it. No, it's so good. It's comforting, it's cheesy and delicious. And also, I thought Gordon ramsay was famous for calling people an idiot sandwich.
No, idiot. You're on chi sandwich. Oh, I do. What am I now? What are you?
An idiot sandwich? Right? It's amazing, but, I mean, it's just so easy, and everyone loves it. It's a crowd pleaser. You can elevate it or not.
We are all about the margarine covered bread that you put American cheese on and have some tomato soup. It's, like, weird. We don't we're not fancy, right? Like, sometimes I'm like, oh, I will also add some salt and pepper to this. Usually you don't need to because there's margarine all over it, so we're good.
So that's just another fallback that I have. And if you really don't want to make it on the on the stovetop, you don't have to. You can put it in the toaster oven. And if you don't have a toaster oven, they make toaster bags where you can make it in sandwiches into and you make it in the toaster. Go get you some of those.
They're not expensive. And it will make your life a lot better when you can just pop your grilled cheese into the toaster and then you're done. And here is the difference, right? You are calling it grilled cheese night. All of a sudden, it's an event, right?
Like breakfast for dinner. We're having cereal. It's breakfast for dinner. It's not grilled cheese. It's grilled cheese night.
Right? We're having tomato soup. It's we're having homemade tomato soup. Yeah, exactly. You made it six months ago when you just pulled out of the freezer.
Who cares? This is not about being fancy. This is about relying on things that you know are standbys. What can you go to that is going to make you have something healthy or borderline healthy to feed your family and say, I just don't have it. Exactly that.
Do you have another one that you go to? Yes. Okay, so blt chicken salads. Okay, so first off, I'm really lucky and I claim my privilege here. I know it's not normal, but for me, when my kids, I can't figure out what they want to eat, I know I can default salad with chicken.
They will always eat a salad and they will always eat it with grilled chicken on top for some reason. Wow, that is really nice. I know my son will not do that. Yes, but whatever, you know, is your go to. Whether it be like, I know my kid will always eat a banana, or I know she'll always have chicken nuggets, or I know goldfish is like something.
I mean, during the pandemic, I remember my husband came home from Heb with goldfish, like the colored ones, and I didn't even care about the amount of chemicals in there. I was just so happy that he found goldfish at the grocery store. Right. I was like, this is like cigarettes to prisoners, goldfish to toddlers. This is amazing.
I'm so glad you got this doesn't need to be the whole wheat goldfish. Although that does exist. Yeah, no, we're just going for like, you got goldfish at the grocery store. This is amazing. And I'm so glad that we're not eating chicken out of a can because I know I did that more than once during the pandemic.
Anyway, not that the pandemic is over, but I'm allowed to go to the grocery store again. So anyhow Blt chicken salads is a go to for us because L and T are already in our salads. We are in a place where we always have a bag salad or ahead of Romaine in the fridge. That's just kind of a go to because I know my kids will always eat it. So, Blt chicken salads is the subway of salad at our house.
Okay? I cook up some bacon, I cook it in the oven. I put it on a cooling rack, on a cookie sheet, again, wrapped in foil so I can throw it away. I don't have to wash the pan. I put it in the oven at 425 for like twelve or 15 minutes.
You just gotta check it to make sure it doesn't burn. But bacon cooks in the oven way faster than it does on the stove. And your whole house doesn't smell like bacon and there's no grease to clean up. So first off, cook your bacon in the oven for the rest of your life. Right?
So we do this blt. We have diced bacon, we have lettuce, we have cut up tomatoes. My daughter is at a place where she is learning knife skills. So she will cut up cucumber and celery and carrots on all other things to go with it. And then I have grilled chicken.
Now, am I grilling chicken every weekend? No, but I know that having a couple of chicken thighs and my George foreman I'm sorry, it's 1999. It's fine. I got my George foreman going, and I just throw a couple of chicken thighs on there. Now I can dice that up, and we can throw that on top of the salads, too.
Everyone gets to make their own salad at their place. It feels fancy. My daughter is involved in the cooking process, but it's really just, hey, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and bacon, and then whatever else you have in the fridge. Brinkle of cheese. Right.
Whatever else you want from exactly. White people taco nights. From taco night. Exactly. And again, because I know my kids will always eat a salad, I always have salad dressing in the fridge.
Now, I know that not every family will always eat a salad. I get that. So instead of blt chicken salad, blt chicken roll up. Grab a tortilla, put all that stuff inside it. Roll it up.
Yes. That's one of our defaults is roll up. A ham and cheese roll up. Yeah. On a tortilla.
Works really well. Again, today is not about like, oh, these are my go to family meals, and they take six and a half hours to make. And my grandmother used to cook just like this. No. What can you rely upon when they say, mom, what's for dinner tonight?
And what you want to answer is, oh, I'll tell you what's for dinner tonight. Figure it out yourself. Yeah, that's what you want to say, but you can't do that. So that's what this is. Okay?
So I'm going to tell you my last my favorite default meal. Everyone loves a shark coupon board, especially our generation who was raised on lunch bowls, right? And, you know, in our house, we call it a shark board. Like baby shark. Right?
My four year old definitely thinks that it's a hammerhead shark board. I love it. We call it big snack. Love it. Take an ice cube tray.
Yes, you take an ice cube tray. Now, it's a fancy thing because you've made it so that it's not just a regular snack, it's a big snack. And you can put all of your kids favorite hodgepodge things. This is also really good for, like, Friday nights, when all you want to do is sit in front of the television and you haven't gone to the grocery store yet, because that happens on saturdays, right? So you take, like we usually put some chicken nuggets in there, some frozen chicken nuggets that we microwave for 45 seconds or whatever it is.
Perfect. They make little popcorn ones, like the popcorn chicken that's microwavable. We do that. You take one of the ice cube tray sections, and you put some ketchup in it. All right, now you've got your chicken nuggets.
You get your ketchup. You can put fruits, veggies, little, cut them up. We put blueberries in them, strawberries, carrot sticks, whatever it is that your child will eat that you know they'll eat. And it's just leftover stuff. Put it in there.
We also put in things like pretzels, cheerios, veggie, straws, goldfish, whatever. Put each little thing in the ice cube tray. Go for it. Cheese chunks are a big hit from costco. I get those, like, rectangular tillamook cheese pieces that are just like, a perfect snack size.
Well, my son doesn't like those because he doesn't like the shape. Well, guess what? He doesn't know that I cut them up and turn them into little cheese chunks. And now he's like, ooh, yellow cheese squares. Oh, my gosh.
Don't love it. He doesn't realize what I'm doing. Hopefully he's not listening to me record this episode, but that's what I do. And it's it works really, really well, and it it feels fancy because they get to pick and choose all these little things, and it's a really good way to keep hands occupied for a little while, right, while you need to do something else. They're either one, helping you make their own dinner in their big snack and arranging it in fancy ways that they want, or their little fingers are so busy eating, picking, and choosing all the things that they want to eat at different times, right?
This is my favorite meal. It is my favorite hack that I have for meal times. And we love Friday nights because Friday is big snack and a movie, and it's great. I agree. Like, how can you get better than making something normal special, right?
And when your kid's going to look back and be like, remember all those times we had big snack? And you're going to be like, do you know why we had big snack? Because I was exhausted. Because it was a Friday night, and I was Friday night teacher tired or I was Friday night mom tired. Or we had early release from school and then a doctor's appointment and then this and that.
And then when we finally got home, you were starving. So I throw these things together in an ice cube tray. Here you go. And I might be personalizing on that a little bit from my most recent weekend. Totally fine.
But when I was a girl, we had pasta two or three times a week. And I, at that point, thought it was because we loved pasta. And now I look back on it, I'm like, no, it's because we were poor and my mom was dog tired raising three kids, right? And so she said, yeah, you guys love pasta. Sounds great.
I'll open a jar of sauce, I will boil whatever fun, noodle shape you want that night, right? And maybe if I'm feeling up to it, I might. Cook some meat to go with it. Otherwise you're having Wonder Bread and margarine. The right great Wonder Bread.
And you know, it wasn't even Wonder Brand Bread. No, it was the generic. It was the Fred meyer brand Wonder Bread because we were living in Vancouver, Washington. Love it. It doesn't have to be complicated.
And listen, no one's judging you. Just do what you have to do to survive those nights because chances are at one point you're going to be like, I need to make a big fancy meal, and you'll have the bandwidth for it. But when you don't, you need to preserve it for the other things, like actual human interaction with your child. Don't spend all of your bandwidth making dinner. Today is a Sunday.
Today. You already heard that? I spilled steamed mussels on myself. We are having steamed muscles today because it's a Sunday. And as easy as it is to steam muscles, it does require a lot of chopping and then monitoring.
I'm not doing that on a Tuesday night. I don't have that kind of time. You know what I'm doing on Tuesday night? Taking the chicken out of the crock Pot and throwing it under the broiler while I reheat some refried beans out of a can. And my kids are loving it because I'm calling it tacos.
It's perfect. All right. So because you don't have the bandwidth to make dinner, we're not going to force you to listen to any more of this episode, right? That said, I'm going to tell you like I always do. So make good choices and just do what you have to do to get through the night.
It's okay. No one's judging you. Okay, bye. Certainly not me, because you know what's for dinner tonight? Whatever you can find in the fridge.