Recipe: Spicy Szechuan Style Green Beans (a la PF Changs)

In our recent Yasukochi Family Farms CSA box, we received 5 fistfuls (about a pound) of fresh green beans. I cleaned them, put them in a large ziploc bag in the fridge until I could be struck by inspiration.

I was doing the end-of-week veg prep Sunday morning (to make room for the new box arriving Monday), and I came across the green beans. I was watching tik tok last night and saw a video for spicy green beans. I decided to give it a go.

To start, I searched online for a bunch of recipes and Frankestein’d together a recipe using what we had on hand, which wasn’t much. Our fridge died last summer and I still haven’t replaced all of the condiments, in part because of supply chain issues, and also because of freaking inflation.

Spicy Szechuan Style Green Beans

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 2 T. your favorite cooking oil (I used grapeseed)
  • 2 T. Diced Garlic (It’s ok to use the stuff in a jar)
  • 1 T. Chili Paste or Sriracha (whatever you have)
  • 2 t. onion powder
  • 1 green onion, white and light green parts only
  • 3 T. Soy sauce (I used low sodium)
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 T. rice vinegar (or white- whatever you have)
  • Juice of half an orange

Optional, but tasty

  • Sesame Seeds
  • Red Pepper Flakes

Directions

  1. In a large pan or wok, heat oil.
  2. Cook green beans for 5-8 minutes, or until they start to brown and wilt. If your green beans have been stored in the fridge, it will take longer.
  3. While the beans cook, add the 1 T. garlic, chili paste, onion powder, and green onion to a small bowl and combine.
  4. After the beans have browned and wilted, add the chili/garlic mixture and combine/coat the green beans. Cook for 3-ish minutes on medium until the garlic is fragrant.
  5. Add the remaining liquid ingredients (I poured all of them into a mixing cup and set it aside until this step, but you can pour them directly into the pan/wok), cooking on low until some of the water evaporates. Remove from heat, and add sesame seeds and red pepper flakes (less than 1 tablespoon each).

This is a great side dish for any Asian food. I served it for breakfast -grown ups only- over basmati rice, topped with a jammy egg. It was very filling.

This recipe is vegan/vegetarian. If you are sensitive to gluten, replace your soy with tamari or coconut aminos.

Managing a Household with Neurodivergencies (ADHD, ASD, etc.)

Earlier this week my friend Sam posted on Facebook, “Neurodivergent Friends what are some tools you use with others that help you with daily life, communication, relationships?”

A few friends posted that they needed help with meal prep, day-to-day stuff, and as y’all know, that’s my bag, baby!

Both my kids are Neurodivergent (ADHD/ASD and ADHD), and their dad has ADHD (combined type/ C) and because of that, we’ve had to make some adjustments to our daily life and how we function. And while our processes and schedules may not work for everyone, hopefully, these tips give you some idea and hope if you need it.

Some of these directly affect/benefit the kids, and some make my life easier, which in turn makes their lives easier.

Having an accurate(ish) pantry, fridge, and freezer inventory. I have made my own sheets in the past (using Canva), but the ones from Organized Home are great.

Meal Prep and meal planning (this includes using Dream Dinners once every few months). This frees up time each night to read, hang out, bathe, and get kids ready for bed.

Meal Prep can be as easy as cut up veggies, fruit, pre-portioned foods, and easy meals or side dishes prepared in advance that only need to be heated up to avoid wasting money eating out because “there is nothing to eat”. Also having one night for take-out. And I have a whiteboard that lists our meal plan for the week- I try and post it weekly on Instagram.

The Snack Box- I also organized our fridge and pantry to be more ND-friendly. Stuff that should be eaten (healthy food like fruit, cheese sticks, yogurt, etc.) is at kid eye level in clear packaging and is labeled (I use expo markers on my Rubbermaid containers), and I have a “Snack box” in the pantry that is available 24/7 for hungry faces. It’s got individually portioned shelf-stable snacks and meal components. And on days when I am too tired/rushed to cook we have “Meal of snacks” where I serve a variety of snacks on old-school sectioned cafeteria trays- fruits, veggies, crackers, cheese, cookies, and a drink (juice or iced tea is a hit).

We have a list of snacks on the fridge so the kids know what there is to snack on. It is a visual list (I drew it), and when we are out of specific items, I cover the picture with a piece of posit note.

Calendars– in the kitchen, and one in each bedroom. I update them weekly, plus the grownups use the calendars on their phones and we have a shared family calendar. Kids get reminders each day in the morning and afternoon of any appointments or events that will take place during the day. The visual and auditory reminders really help cement the appointment in their mind.

Visual reminders– next to the front door at eye level there is a sign that reminds us we need: cellphone, wallet, keys, and garage door opener. It’s laminated.

Visual schedule– this is mainly for the kids. I drew up a daily schedule using words and pictures. I wrote a post about it here.

Lists– Everyone has a “Care tasks” list each week that includes appts, returning borrowed items, and tasks to do throughout the week. You can read about my weekly Care Tasks here. 

Larger font digital clock with day of the week, date, and what part of the day (morning, afternoon, evening, night). The kids can read a clock, but it can take time to engage their brains and count by 5’s, but the “old people clock” as it was marketed on Amazon helps them instantly and helps a lot with the “is it time for xxxxx yet?!?!”

Using your phone to stay on top of details- I saw this on Facebook in a group and I’ve started doing this. If you have an iPhone, there is a notes section in each contact. I’ve seen them used to keep track of favorite fast food at various restaurants, favorite foods/drinks, clothing sizes and brands, favorite colors, birthdays, and anniversaries. It’s such a game changer.

The fidget/stim box– we have a plastic box full of fidget/stim toys for everyone to grab when they need to focus. And everyone has some in their room too. This includes headphones to cut down on loud sounds (I buy the landscapers kind from harbor freight). We have 3 pairs in the house and two pairs in the car. For those not familiar- fidget toys can help calm the body so the mind can focus.

Some favorites include pop-its, hand strengthening eggs, fidget cubes, fidget spinners, stretchy tubes, pop tubes, and stress balls (the kind with Orbeez are super satisfying). Amazon sells really great fidget toys mutli-packs.

Medication Boxes- We refill our medication boxes each week (both AM and PM).  The three of us take our meds together each morning at breakfast time. Our medication boxes live on the kitchen counter, along with our pill minders: Jon Cena and Skeletor.

Stuff has a place– The kid’s shoes and backpacks are always by the door during the school year, ready to be cleaned out and refilled each night. My car keys and purse live in the same spot, the pool key has a special spot. The extra toilet paper and paper towels are always in the same spot (under the front bathroom sink). These are just a few examples of the ways that we remind ourselves and create routines. Creating routines can give us a sense of normalcy and be calming.

The Family Binder– One last thing that doesn’t directly “help” the kids but helps the family, especially in times of emergency is the family binder. I’ve had one since 2010 in various incarnations. I have a really old post about it here.  It’s basically my brain in paper form. It’s got all of our important papers, insurance info, important phone numbers, policy numbers, warranty information, receipts for expensive/valuable stuff, copies of most recent IEPS, copies of diagnosis paperwork, lists of everyone’s meds, doctors info, etc. Think of it as all the info you’d need if you lost power for an extended period, your house burned down, or there was a tornado.

There are a lot of other things that we do in our home to help the kids- keep them safe, regulated, and happy. The stuff listed above is just a small sample. Everyone’s home runs differently. And this was and continues to be a lot of work. The examples above are continually changing, and evolving in our home, and are a combination of 11+ years of hard work, learning, and failing. Some of this stuff I did to try and get organized in my late 20s, even before I was married and had kids.

 

 

4/18/2022 Weekly Meal Plan

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I got to cook over the weekend and go some meal prep- it was awesome. I roasted veggies using some seasoning blends from Urban Accents. Citrus Pepper on Cauliflower, and Balsamic and Roasted Onion on baby Brussels Sprouts. I also made a huge pot of Veggie Loaded Tuscan Soup (Zuppa Toscana) to use up the rest of our CSA veggies from last week.

This afternoon once I’m home from work, I’ll get to work on this weeks CSA Box- Chopped and preparing!  Our veggies and fruit are delivered by Yasukochi Family Farms CSA. For $28, it’s a great deal. I don’t have to pick anything, go to the store, or carry it upstairs. I can’t go to the store and get the same amount we get weekly for $28. Seriously. It’s a deal. They email a preview of what will be in the boxes over the weekend, so I can start thinking about what I’d like to make.

A quick trip to the store to pick up milk, cheese, bananas, and a few other things and we’ll be good for the week!

We’ve been trying a lot of new foods lately, thanks to the really great freebies from Social Nature lately too. It’s fun to try new foods.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. They are also into fruit and bagels for breakfast. Lately, the big kid has been digging protein shakes in the morning. This is his favorite kind. 

Lunch: I have a plastic tote in the cupboard full of self-serve snacks. I buy treats and snacks in bulk and fill up snack-sized zip-top bags. I’m back to packing lunches again. However, school lunches are free this year- Little Bit has been buying her lunch and expanding her palate.  The big kid still brings lunch from home.

Dinner: I picked up our April Dream Dinners order on Friday afternoon and we’ve got meals for the next month or so.  When we have them, I serve 2 Dream Dinners a week. It’s perfect for those nights when we have lots going on, and it’s a great way for the kids to try new cuisines!

  • Monday: Nug night- crinkle fries, apple slices & strawberries
  • Tuesday: Carne asada salad with beans and rice
  • Wednesday: Sandwiches and roasted veggies
  • Thursday: Spiced Chickpea and Cauliflower with Pita Bread, salad
  • Friday: Takeout night!
  • Saturday:  Leftovers
  • Sunday: Soup, salad, cheesy garlic bread

4/11/2022 Weekly Meal Plan

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It’s back this week! Finally, the kitchen is a little more put back together and we can cook! I’m going to be doing some baking this week: Cookies, biscuits, or cheesy garlic bread, and a bar dessert.

I chopped, peeled, and prepped fruits and veggies this afternoon. Our veggies and fruit are delivered by Yasukochi Family Farms CSA. For $28, it’s a great deal. I don’t have to pick anything, go to the store, or carry it upstairs. I can’t go to the store and get the same amount we get weekly for $25. Seriously. It’s a deal. They email a preview of what will be in the boxes over the weekend, so I can start thinking about what I’d like to make.

We’ve been trying a lot of new foods lately, thanks to the really great freebies from Social Nature lately too. It’s fun to try new foods.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. They are also into fruit and bagels for breakfast. Lately, the big kid has been digging protein shakes in the morning. This is his favorite kind. 

Lunch: I have a plastic tote in the cupboard full of self-serve snacks. I buy treats and snacks in bulk and fill up snack-sized zip-top bags. I’m back to packing lunches again. However, school lunches are free this year- Little Bit has been buying her lunch and expanding her palate. This is week two of Spring Break and we’ve got some adventures planned, I’ve got a new snack box in the car, and it will be repacked and ready for some fun on the road.

Dinner: I’m leaning heavily on the CSA box this week, and what we’ve got in the house. I didn’t do a big shop this week, just milk and popsicles (always the first two items on our shopping list). I’m doing a Dream Dinners pick-up late this week, so next week we’ll be back to Dream Dinners 1-3 times per week.

  • Monday: Nug night- crinkle fries, apple slices & strawberries
  • Tuesday: Roasted Veggies, Pasta & Red Pesto
  • Wednesday: Chicken and Veggie Soup, biscuits, or cheesy garlic bread
  • Thursday: Salad Bar Night- I did most of the prep work today!
  • Friday: Takeout night!
  • Saturday:  Leftovers
  • Sunday: Breakfast for dinner (pancakes, fruit salad, yogurt)

Trying to Add Veggies to Your Meals?

Is one of your New Years Resolutions to eat better or increase your intake of fruits and veggies?

Since we have been getting CSA boxes from Yasukochi Family Farms we’ve been adding tons of fresh fruit and veg to our diet. It’s fun to get the kids involved in preparing and tasting new and different fruits and veggies.

I’ve made a round-up with some of my favorite fruit and veggie recipes to inspire you to add a little more “green” to your family’s meals!

1/3/2022 Weekly Meal Plan!

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgI did a big year-end fridge/freezer/pantry cleanout (did you know White Claw expires?) last week and we were in need of a lot of groceries.

I had a big shopping week, including a trip to Costco to pick up some staples, and of course… a rotisserie chicken.

We finished up the week yesterday consuming leftovers. And I prepared a pot of chicken stock to make chicken soup today.

We are back on the CSA train- We need some fresh produce in our lives and I hate carrying more groceries upstairs!

Veggies and fruit are delivered by Yasukochi Family Farms CSA. For $25, it’s a great deal. I don’t have to pick anything, go to the store, or carry it upstairs. I can’t go to the store and get the same amount we get weekly for $25. Seriously. It’s a deal.

We’ve been trying a lot of new foods lately, thanks to the really great freebies from Social Nature lately too. It’s fun to try new foods.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. They are also into fruit and bagels for breakfast. The Ancient Grain bagels from Einstein Bros. are the current family favorite. I pick them up on Mondays when a dozen is only $7. I slice them and freeze them to keep them from going bad too quickly.

Lunch: I have a plastic tote in the cupboard full of self-serve snacks. I buy treats and snacks in bulk and fill up snack-sized zip-top bags. I’m back to packing lunches again. However, school lunches are free this year- Little Bit has been buying her lunch and expanding her palate.

Dinner: I’ve got some tasty (and quick) meals planned for this week! It’s going to be cold this next week, so Soup will be on the menu a few times. I’ll make big batches and freeze the extra.

Please stay safe you guys!

Ripple Street: MorningStar Farms® Veggie Sausage Patties Chatterbox

Looking to try something new?

Wake up your tastebuds and enjoy a delicious meat-free addition to any balanced breakfast with MorningStar Farms® Veggie Sausage Patties. They’re plant-based and seasoned with an inviting blend of aromatic herbs and spices to delight everyone in your family. Find Original, Hot & Spicy, and Maple MorningStar Farms® Veggie Sausage Patties in the freezer aisle of your local retailer. Which flavor are you most excited to try?
If you are selected, you will receive:

1 Free coupon to purchase MorningStar Farms® Veggie Sausage Patties from your local store.

To apply, click here. 

 

9/12/2021 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgThis week is our busy week. I have appointments for the kids Monday Tuesday Wednesday, in addition to all the other appointments and things that I have to do throughout the day. The weather is supposed to remain hot throughout the week, so my usual easy-to-cook/busy day meals aren’t really appropriate. Nobody wants to tuck into a bowl of soup when it’s still 85° outside at dinner time. So we are relying on some family favorites: breakfast for dinner, and the do-it-yourself salad bar.

I went grocery shopping on Friday before my job interview and picked up about 80% of what we needed for the week. I underestimated the amount of cream cheese we go through, and ice as well. So there will be a trip to the store later today.

I’m very much looking forward to our produce box this week. I plan on making up a big fruit salad for us to enjoy early on in the week, as well as roasted vegetables and a healthy-sized salad. Our CSA box provides us with so many delicious, farm-fresh vegetables and fruit. One thing that I love about it is that the company has a presence at so many southern California farmer’s markets throughout the week. So you can go and pick up produce at the farmers market, or order a CSA box. Whichever works best for you.

I also love that they have a fundraising offer for local nonprofits. So if you have a scouting troop or your local youth sports team, or if your PTA is tired of selling cookie dough and wrapping paper… You can sell CSA subscriptions instead! Click here to find out more about it, I’m kind of hoping that maybe our school PTA will give that a shot.

Veggies and fruit are delivered by Yasukochi Family Farms CSA. For $25, it’s a great deal. I don’t have to pick anything, go to the store, or carry it upstairs. I can’t go to the store and get the same amount we get weekly for $25. Seriously. It’s a deal. I did a great deal of meal prep today after the box was delivered- You can see some of what I did over on Instragram.

And I’ve been getting a lot of really great freebies from Social Nature lately too. It’s fun to try new foods.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for a kitchen inventory printable, I have made my own and you can find them for sale here on my Etsy Store.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. They are also into fruit and bagels for breakfast. The Ancient Grain bagels from Einstein Bros. are the current family favorite. I pick them up on Mondays when a dozen is only $7. I slice them and freeze them to keep them from going bad too quickly.

Lunch: I have a plastic tote in the cupboard full of self-serve snacks. I buy treats and snacks in bulk and fill up snack-sized zip-top bags. I’m back to packing lunches again. However, school lunches are free this year, but so far, there is nothing on the menu that appeals to the kids.

Dinner: We’ve got a pretty good schedule down for dinners. We have nuggets (vegetarian for the boy child, chicken for the rest) on the nights that we have respite. It’s quick to prepare and clean up, and I can serve it on our cafeteria trays with other fingers foods (we have trays like these) like cut-up fruit, crackers, and cheese. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

  • Sunday: Breakfast for dinner: hashbrowns, egg bites, fruit salad
  • Monday: Salad bar night, garlic baguette
  • Tuesday: Beans, rice, roasted veggies, quesadillas
  • Wednesday: Nugget night, fruit, cheese, and crackers
  • Thursday: Protein shakes, fruit, toast
  • Friday:  Takeout Night
  • Saturday: Leftovers, fruit

Please stay safe you guys!

Egg Bites: Quick, Easy Cook Ahead Breakfast (Starbucks CopyCat)

These are so good!
Ready to get into the oven.

I love the bacon and Gruyere Sous Vide Egg Bites at Starbucks, but… I’m frugal and those little dudes ain’t cheap.

So Sunday night, I set out to see if I could make them. This was a test batch, so I only did 6. I’ll be making more in the future. They are super easy to make, and you can customize them with ingredients you like.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 T butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 sour cream or Creme Fraiche
  • 4 Oz chopped/shredded cheese (I used Kerrygold cheddar)
  • 1/3 cup bacon pieces (I use the ones from Costco)
  • salt and pepper to taste
greased cups in the shallow baking dish with water.

NOTES:
I used small glass bowls from dollar tree, but you can use a muffin tin, custard cups, whatever fits into a shallow baking dish (I used a 9×13 baking dish).

Directions:

  1. Spray cups/muffin tin with spray release, set aside.
  2. Fill a shallow pan with 1-2 cups water (start with 1). You want the baking cups/muffin tin cups to be covered in water on the outside, but you don’t want to water to get into the cups.
  3. Set the cups/muffin tin into the water bath pan.
  4. Sauté onions in butter until the onions are clear (about 10 minutes). Take off the heat and allow it to come to room temperature.
  5. In a bowl, beat eggs, milk, and sour cream until combined.
  6. Add cheese, bacon, and onions to mixture.
  7. Stir well to combine and add salt and pepper.
  8. Give it a quick mix and ladle it into the greased cups/ muffin tin.
  9. Bake 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool 10-ish minutes.
  11. Run knife around the edges to free egg bites from the cups and allow to cool on a plate.

Store in fridge for 4-5 days. Reheat in microwave for 30 seconds-1 minute.

Substitutions:

  • If you are a vegetarian, omit the bacon. You can substitute the same amount of chopped veggies (bell peppers, and spinach are two of my favorites).
  • If Cheddar cheese isn’t your jam, goat cheese, gruyere, mozzarella are all good choices.
  • Finally, bacon can be swapped with crumbled sausage.

Recipe: Easy Spanish Tortilla

I know y’all want the recipe first and more info and tips afterward, so here ya go:

Spanish Tortilla (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large potato, peeled and sliced very thinly
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, color of your choice (I used green)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 T butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 c half and half
  • 1/2 c shredded cheese, your choice
  • 1/2 c Cooked bacon crumbles
  • Salt, pepper
  • Chopped green onion for garnish

Directions:

  1. Using half of the butter, sauté onion and pepper until softened and onions are clear, about five minutes on medium.
  2. Add remaining butter, allow to melt, coat pan, and add potatoes so they are separated and evenly dispersed throughout the pan.
  3. Cook on low until potatoes are translucent, about five to 10 minutes on medium.
  4. While potatoes are cooking, in a mixing bowl crack eggs, add half-and-half. Add salt and pepper, beat vigorously until well blended.
  5. Remove pan from heat, pour egg mixture over top of vegetables make sure egg mixture is evenly distributed throughout the pan, covering veggies.
  6. Top with bacon crumbles and shredded cheese.
  7. Bake at 350 for between 12 and 18 minutes, until eggs are set and cooked through.
  8. Allow to cool to room temp, slice, and top with chopped green onion for garnish.
  9. Serve with avocado and corn salsa, recipe be found here. This makes a great dinner or breakfast or whenever. It’s relatively inexpensive, it’s very tasty, and it is a good use of veggies.

Other good veggies to include are zucchini (saute in butter with onions), or tomatoes (place thin slices on the very top after all of the ingredients are in the pan). Regarding the potatoes, I used a knife and thinly sliced the potatoes into circles, but you can use a mandoline if you have one.

You need to use a pan that is oven-safe. If you don’t have one, you can cook your tortilla on the stove. Instead of turning off the stove in step 5, turn down the heat to low, add egg mixture. Once the eggs have set around the edges, using a spatula, loosen the edges, and wiggle your spatula under the tortilla, and gently flip it over. Cook until both sides of the tortilla are set and cooked throughout.

Spanish Tortillas are not bread-based, in fact, there is zero bread involved. Spanish Tortillas are more like frittatas or a crustless quiche- the only constant ingredients are eggs and potatoes. The rest of the ingredients are up to you. It’s a great way to use veggies and cheese hanging around your fridge.

They are great for any meal. Add a side of fruit for breakfast, or a bright salad with a tangy vinaigrette for lunch or dinner.

If you are a vegetarian, omit the bacon.

A lovely patio in Spain. Makes you want tapas, right?