Beef Zucchini Enchiladas

1 lb. lean ground beef
Diced onion (1 1/2 cups. I just diced up a medium one.)
Zucchini (1 1/2 cups. I just used one big one and it was plenty.)
12 corn tortillas
Enchilada sauce (1 1/2 cups. I didn't use measurements. I used Las Palmas mild red sauce and used as needed.)
Cheese (3 cups, but again, I didn't use measurements. Cheddar, jack, or a mix of those cheeses).
Any desired sides (We had Avocado, sour cream, olives, and salsa).

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9x13 pan with nonstick spray. 
2) Cook ground beef in pan. Drain fat out of the fan, then remove the meat from the pan.

3) Return pan to medium heat to saute the onion and zucchini until softened. Then remove the vegetables from the heat and combine with the meat.
4) Add enchilada sauce to the pan (around 1/2 cup), just enough to spread it around to coat the bottom of the pan.

5) Assemble the enchilada:
Place the tortilla on a work surface. Spoon 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the meat mixture down the middle. Sprinkle some cheese on top of the meat. Drizzle 1 Tb of sauce on top. Wrap the tortilla around the filling tightly and place it seam down in the pan. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling until you are finished. Place the tortillas side by side in the pan. It's okay if they are snuggly packed in the baking dish.
6) Pour desired amount of enchilada sauce over the top of the stuffed enchiladas. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

7) Remove the baking dish from the oven and take off the foil. Sprinkle cheese over the top and return it to the oven and let the cheese melt. (2-5 mins)
Ready to eat! Serve with desired sides and condiments!

Caleb was not a big fan of the dinner, as depicted here by his furrowed brow, pursed lip, and speculative poke of the enchilada. Jessie however, was a huge fan! She said it has been too long since she had a good home cooked dinner. Score!! It's always good to have positive feedback from an adult, when my toddler is too busy spitting out what I make. We can partially blame this on the presence of the zucchini. No natter how hard I hide it, he finds it. 

*Recipe taken from Recipe Girl and recounted above. I also did not stick to tight measurements with sauce or cheese. The link for Recipe Girl has all that stuff if you care about that.

Another Toddler Interview & Recipe for Cheeseburger Casserole

And now it's time for more questions with Caleb. Why? Just because.

1.    Do you know why you like being a big boy? Why? Yeah, because I don’t like being a baby.
2.    What is something mommy always says to you? “You will go to bed now!”
At the Fullerton Arboretum in a wonderful little forest of bamboo.
3.    What makes you sad? Owies. Yelling. And bad words.
4.    How old are you? 3
5.    How old is Mommy? I don't know!
6.    How old is Daddy? I don't know!
7.    What do you like to do for fun? School.
8.    What is something that you think is funny? Going down the fire pole.
9.    What is your favorite thing to do? Play at school.
10. If you could be any animal, which one would you be and why? A cow. Cuz I would run away with a horsey.
11. What is something nice to do for someone else? Go to the play structure.
12. What are you really good at? Take a piece of cookie.
13. What are you not very good at?  Go away from the play structure.
14. What did you do today? I go to cars land. I went to take a piece of bread. I went to go on the play structure and slide. (None of these things happened, except the bread)
15. What is love? Its how people stay warm and comfortable.
16. What else do you think love is? Go to the fire station.
17. What is the grossest thing you can think of? Gross is all the way to North America.
18. What does rain feel like? It feels like a washing split. It’s how people go to North America, you see.
19. When are you a grown up? I think, I don't know how be grown up. 

Moving right along to the next segment of this post: Dinner. Idea brought to you by Skinny Taste

Gina, author behind the blog Skinny Taste, said her toddler "gobbled" this recipe for Cheeseburger Casserole right up. Sold. I tried it tonight. And Caleb did not gobble it up. No no, before he even reached the table, he told me, "I DON'T LIKE that kind of food!" He claimed to be against the "'matoes". He used to love tomatoes. Now he won't eat them at all. I snuck a lot in his bites, and did he notice them? NO. Well, he did at first, but towards the end, he did not at all. So perhaps this tomato aversion is somewhat of a bluff. Who knows. 

Either way, here is the recipe for the casserole. It was fine, but I'm not in love with it or anything. 

Cheeseburger Casserole 

  • 2 cups uncooked rotini pasta (use brown rice pasta for gluten free, which I inadvertently did and it was good!)
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 1/2 cups onions, finely chopped
  • 1 minced garlic clove (I used 3)
  • 1 lb lean ground beef 
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 28 oz diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Dijon Mustard (I used regular)
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese (I only used 1 cup and it was PLENTY)


1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9x13 dish with olive oil spray (or PAM). Start boiling a pot of water for the pasta. Salt the water for extra taste if desired. Cook pasta to al dente, and drain well once finished.
2) In a large skillet, heat the oil, then cook the onions for around 3-5 mins. Add the garlic. Careful not to burn them!
3) Stir in the ground beef and cook until brown. You can season with salt and pepper if you want.
4) Stir in the tomato paste, then add the diced tomatoes and mustard. 
5) Allow everything to bubble over the heat for around 2 minutes to thicken a little more.
6) Combine the meat mixture with the pasta, and put it in a 9x13 dish. Add cheese over the top of the casserole. 

7) Cook for 15 minutes in the oven. 
Caleb's dinner. He did not eat the salad, of course. And he was sort of coerced forcefully to eat his dinner.

Random Thoughts & Recipe for Fettuccine Bolognese

1. My Facebook and blog might as well be a photo journal of Caleb. 

2. I have always been known to take a lot of pictures. I have several albums dating back since middle school days as proof of this.

3. I have always wanted to take Photography classes. Also, graphic design.

4. I used to solely love peanut butter. Now my enjoyment of almond butter makes this a 50/50 ratio between the two. Maybe realistically more like 70/30 since I use almond butter so much more.

5. I am going to be age 26 this year. I am trying to panic less about this. I have noticed that it's not just me who is not happy about this aging. I have talked to a several people in my age group who are disheartened with where they are at in their life. The common theme is that we all thought we would be further in life financially and with work in one way or another.

6. I say this a lot, but I have the coolest friends. So caring, creative, passionate and smart. Love it.

7. I love LA. We went there for Jessie's birthday on Sunday, and enjoyed seeing all the different kinds of people on the streets. I loved walking through the Farmer's Market and around the city, seeing different forms of art on the walls or just randomly around. Such a great place.

8. Sugar is addicting. I don't think I am literally addicted to sugar, but I will say that I have a serious sweet tooth. Sweets just call out to me. The past two days I have made it a goal to eat no sweets. The most sugar I had was in the cranberry sauce from dinner the night before. Caleb loved it.

9. Awhile ago I wrote a post about mama guilt. I am definitely doing better with this. It can be sad, but it is also really nice to have a night to myself, or to sleep in a little later the next morning when he is at Spencer's. 

10. Last night I made Fettuccine Bolognese with ground turkey. I am a pretty big fan of this recipe that I found on Weelicious. I have only made it twice thus far because it takes a good hour to make. Usually Caleb is hungry, so it can be hard to hold him off. It was yummy though and I ate way too much.

Here is the recipe for Fettuccine Bolognese. I wasn't planning on sharing it here, so my pictures of the process are scarce.

1 medium onion -I cut it in half and chopped it up with my onion chopper.
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground turkey meat 
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large carrot, grated
16 ounces can of chopped tomatoes with juices -I had a 12 ounce can and it was fine.
1 tablespoon of Italian herbs -I didn't measure. Caleb just threw in different herbs I handed him. He threw in Oregano, thyme, and basil.
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 package of Fettuccine pasta

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot or pan over medium heat. Add onions and saute for a few mins. Careful not to burn them, like I so often am prone to doing.
2. Add garlic and saute for another minute. 
3. Add ground turkey and salt, breaking apart the meat and mixing everything together until the meat is cooked through.
4. Add grated carrots and the can of tomatoes with its juice. Add the Italian herbs and the tomato paste. Mix it all up well.
5. Cover the pan partially with a lid and let it cook for 20 minutes. 
6. Uncover the lid and cook for an additional 20 minutes, so that the sauce thickens and the liquid reduces. You can add 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese at this point, but I never have. I am sure it would be good though.
7. At some point while the sauce is cooking, boil your fettuccine pasta. My pot of water takes awhile to boil, so I like to start this sooner.
8. Serve Bolognese sauce over the fettuccine with salad and/or bread!
Caleb loved the garlic bread. He was a little skeptical of the pasta, but once he had a bite, he kept saying, "Yummy!"

Sloppy Joes, Sloppy Sloopy Joes

I got this recipe from My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries, one of the many blogs I frequent. I like reading other peoples findings with different foods and recipes. I decided to give this recipe of a shot, and thought it was a keeper. Actually I noticed the steps are the same as the package of sloppy joe seasoning that I used, but I still probably would never have done it without this blog's reference. 

1 pound of ground turkey or beef (I always use turkey)
1 1/4 cup of water
1 small can of tomato paste (6 oz).
1 packet of sloppy joe seasoning 

Easy Steps
Brown your meat and drain the fat. Add all of the rest of the ingredients (water, tomato paste and seasoning) and stir well, bringing it to a boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer for 10 or so minutes. You can serve this on hamburger buns or bread. 
Caleb and I had ours with a piece of sliced wheat bread topped with Colby Jack cheese and avocado. Caleb did not have any avocado because he thinks it is, "Ew! Yucky!"
Open-faced sloppy joe with cheese and avocado
Easy to make and not bad!
Caleb liked it too! We also had it with a side of beans. Caleb loves beans.
You should try some!
Yes, he is talking to YOU.

Tuna Casserole

Tonight I made a Tuna Casserole. It is one of my few staple recipes that has been a success here. I really need more recipe staples. Tuna Casserole is one of the recipes Caleb's Nana introduced to me, and it has been a success! 


1 ½ diced potatoes
1 ½ cup diced carrots
3 T. chopped onions
¼ c. butter
¼ cup flour
1 can peas (8oz)
1 can tuna fish (a 5 oz can is enough)


Preheat the over to 350.

Cut up the potatoes and carrots. I usually don't measure any of it out. I just cut up one potatoes in larger chunks, and a couple of carrots in smaller chunks. Potatoes cook faster and will disintegrate, so cutting them in larger chunks help keep the pieces whole. Carrots take a little longer to cook, so smaller pieces are better. 

Cook carrots, potatoes and onions after your water comes to a boil. I don't use onions, so I omit that ingredient and just cook the carrots and potatoes.

When your potatoes and carrots are almost cooked, add however many peas you want. They don't need much time to cook at all, maybe 2 or 3 minutes.

In the meantime, make your white sauce.

First drain the can of tuna into a measuring cup. Add milk to make 2 cups of liquid. 

Melt the butter on top of stove. When the butter is totally melted,  add the flour GRADUALLY. Whisk constantly so that the flour does not clump. The clumping is the worse. You want to blend the butter and flour together and stir. Using a wooden spoon makes it clump, so a whisk is best.

After you have combined the butter and flour, add the tuna juice and milk mixture and stir with your whisk constantly. Have the stove top on medium high heat. 

(Don't forget to check on your vegetables to see if they are ready to the peas.)

You are trying to get the sauce to thicken to your desired thickness. Here is my white sauce after all the mixing and stiring. See how it is thick and not clumpy? It is actually a little to thick in this photo, so I added milk.

Once the vegetables are cooked and the sauce is done, carefully add the vegetables to the white mixture. I switch to a wooden spoon at this point so the vegetables don't get caught in the whisk. Carefully combine the white sauce and vegetable, then you can put in the tuna. Just use your fork to scrap out the tuna from the can into small flakes.

Spray your baking dish with PAM or Olive Oil Spray, and put in your casserole. Bake in 350 oven for 15 minutes.

 You can put the biscuit down on top of the casserole and bake it all for 15 minutes, but that makes the biscuits gooey on the bottom. Some people like that, so if you do, go for it.

I am personally not a fan of the doughy biscuit bottom, so I bake my separately and eat it with the casserole like that, or with honey. MMM! I love biscuits with honey. Even if the honey does not go with tuna casserole. 

My friend Audie suggested adding seasoning to the dish (such as pepper or garlic salt). I tried that and didn't like it, but my friends like it more like that. So you can play around with it and do what you like most.

I like this recipe, and most of the time Caleb does to. I love recipes that are like one pot meals. Enjoy! I know I did.

Here is the recipe in one form:


1 ½ cup diced carrots
1 ½ diced potatoes
3 T. chopped onions
¼ c. butter
¼ cup flour
1 can peas (8oz)
1 (5-6 oz) can tuna fish

Cook carrots, potatoes and onions (15 mins after water comes to a boil) on stovetop until they are soft. Make a white sauce.

As follows: Drain tuna-add milk to make 2 cups of liquid.

Melt butter on top of stove, add flour gradually. When thickens, add to vegetables. Add tuna and peas.

Pour into 1 ½ qt. casserole dish (greased).

Place Pillsbury biscuits on top (optional).
Place in oven and bake at 425 for 15 minutes or until heated through and biscuits are browned. 

Special Treats & Caryn's Meatloaf

This face of satisfaction says it all.

Today I let Caleb have a special treat of chocolate pudding. He was quite happy. We had an issue before the pudding because he did not want to finish his dinner. He had seen me sneak a bite of an ice cream sandwich from the freezer, and did not think it was very cool of me to be chowing on the good stuff while he was stuck with tomatoes and chicken pieces. Yes, Caleb eats tomatoes whole with nothing on them. Give the child a bowl of fresh cut up tomatoes, and he will say a chipper, "Oh!" Other vegetables get, "Eww....yucky." Although sometimes I wonder what that means because he pointed to a photo of a duck from above and said it was yucky. I am not sure what he thought it was. Anyway, we finally got past the hang up and he shoved all his food into his mouth and had to spit it back out. He gets over zealous with finishing his food. I remind him to slow down, chew his food, and don't stuff many bites. It still happens though. Clearly wipping out his plate was well worth it. 
At one point Caleb held a spoon full of pudding out to me saying, "Taste?" I thought it was rather thoughtful of him until I leaned forward to taste the pudding, only to have him yank the spoon away to gobble up the bite for himself. He gave me a taste later, but monitored how much I ate off his spoon. After wards, Caleb and I took a walk to the sand volleyball court. 

I decided to make meatloaf for tomorrow's dinner and thought I would share the recipe.

Caryn's Meatloaf 

My very good friend Amanda's mom gave me this recipe for her meatloaf. I was skeptical, but once we made it, we were pleasantly surprised. I think what I like most about it is that it is easy and Caleb likes it most of the time. 

To make this, you will need the following:

2/3 cup (it's the small can) undiluted evaporated milk
1 egg
½ cup cracker crumbs (Just smash and crumble Ritz or Saltine crackers)
1 ½ lbs. ground beef
1 ½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 tsp. mustard
¼ cup (or less) chopped onion

All you do is mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl with your hands.

Spread mixture tightly into pan. Put in 350 degree oven for 1 hour, and let it cool for 10 minutes for easier slicing.

I usually make mine with roasted or mashed sweet potatoes, but today I  made mash potatoes and roasted carrots to go with it.

I usually cook after Caleb goes to bed for the next day, so this will be his dinner tomorrow. The problem with cooking late is that I eat what I make, and it ends up being close to 9pm sometimes.

Here is the whole recipe in one piece:


2/3 cup (small can) undiluted evaporated milk
1 egg
½ cup cracker crumbs
1 ½ lbs. ground beef
1 ½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 tsp. mustard
¼ cup (or less) chopped onion

Put all ingredients into large bowl.
Mix completely with hands.
Line a medium loaf pan with wax paper or spray with pam.
Spread mixture tightly into pan.
Bake for 1 hour in pre-heated oven at 350 degrees.
Let stand approx. 10 mins for easier slicing. 


Chicken Pot Pieeeeeee!

Tonight I made a chicken pot pie for tomorrows dinner. I usually have to make dinner the night before because by the time Caleb gets home from school, I don't have the time or space to make a meal. And he is usually ready to eat when we get home, so trying to make a dinner with him can be far to stressful and just not worth it. Tonight for dinner I whipped up an omelet because it is fast and better than...a hot dog. Fortunately I had a few roasted carrots left from the last time I made them, so that was his vegetable.

I am on the look out for a more delicious chicken pot pie recipe. I use one recipe that I found on Quick Fix Chicken Pot Pie. Every time I hear chicken pot pie, I think of David Spade's character Finch in the old show, "Just Shoot Me".  I think the premise of the episode was that Finch would randomly shriek, "CHICKEN POT PIEEEEEE!" I don't remember anymore details about the episode because it has been so many years since I saw it. It was funny at the time and especially funny when Gemma does it. Gemma G knows what I am talking about and she demonstrates it so well, that its engrained in my permanent memory.  I looked for a clip to properly show what I am talking about, but I failed in finding one.

Anyway, making the Quick Fix Chicken Pot Pie is easy. I usually skip the directions for the crust and use whatever I have. Today I had a piecrust so I used that instead of what the recipe asks for. The Quick Fix Chicken Pot Pie turns out fine, but I am still looking for a better chicken pot pie recipe to have as my staple. I have some recipes that I like just as they are, and this one I can easily swap in favor of a better one. It works for now since I know it and it turns out good. It's just not as delicious a chicken pot pie could be. So if ANYONE knows of a good chicken pot pie recipe that isn't too time consuming, let me know. Please!! 

For this recipe, I boil chicken breasts for 15 minutes. Usually I add peppercorn and rosemary to flavor it more, but today I forgot about that. If you already have cooked chicken, all you have to do is cut it up and put it off to the side! If not, cook the chicken and cut it up.

Next, I peel and cut a larger potato and some carrots. I do enough to make 2 cups of vegetables. You can use any veggies you want. I add peas later before putting the pot pie in the oven. I cut potatoes bigger than the carrots because potatoes cook faster and will disintegrate and become mushy if they are overly cooked. I usually cut the potatoes at least an inch thick. Boil the vegetables and start on your sauce.

I heat 2 cups of chicken broth and 1 1/2 cups of milk. While thats going, I melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a bigger pot, then slowly whisk in 3 tablespoons of flour. Gradually add the flour and make sure it doesn't clump. Thats why you should definitely use a whisk, because I found that when using a wooden spoon, the flour became clumpy in the butter. You want it to be thick and creamy because this is what thickens the sauce for the pot pie.

Gradually stir in the milk and chicken broth mixture into the butter and flour mixture. Make sure to stir a lot over a medium heat stove because you want the liquid to thicken, but not have any clumps from the flour. I just whisk it around a lot and let the sauce thicken.

After that I add the 1 teaspoon of thyme and Worcestershire sauce. Then you can add in the cut up chicken and vegetables. I usually add the peas at this point too. They can be canned or frozen. I usually just pour in as many peas as I want. I switch from using a whisk to a wooden spoon when I add in the vegetables and chicken because they get stuck in the whisk, and you want to be careful not to make the potatoes mushy. 

Return the pot with all the added stuff to a boil and stir it up, adding some salt and pepper. Today I added the seasonings while I made the sauce. I am not sure if it really matters. 

Pour the pot pie mixture into a baking dish of some kind. I have used an 8x8 or 9x13 before. Like I said earlier, today I had a left over pie crush so I just filled my glass baking dish with the pot pie mixture and then put the pie crust on top of it and tucked it around. I poked holes in the crust and baked the chicken pot pie for 10-12 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

Finished product post mandatory sampling (AKA an excuse to eat everything I make right out of the oven):

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