Monthly Archives: April 2010

Chevre!

Everyone is all excited about produce right now.  And they should be – growing season is a pretty big deal.  The Farmers’ Market’s season opener is this Saturday and while I like the idea of the Farmers’ Market being open, this is Michigan.  We aren’t growing much of anything yet.

I reserve the right to be excited, though.  We’re still a bit shy of enjoying even asparagus, but we can start chowing down on another spring treat:  goat cheese.  Some of you already know all about this fantastic little cheese, and a few of you think it sounds gross to eat cheese made from goat’s milk.  You’re the ones I want to work with right now (but cheese-plate veterans please check back in momentarily for a delicious recipe).

So why the spring? Well, you know how your allergies are driving you crazy? It’s all of the stuff blooming, right? Bad for your nose – good for the goats.  They love all the yummy wildflowers and tasty things popping up in their pastures.  The mama goats start producing milk for the spring babies, and the taste of their spring snacks gets into their milk. Is this doing anything to entice you to try it? Maybe I should try another approach.

Goat cheese is soft, and creamy.  If you’re in West Michigan, try and find some from Dancing Goat Creamery.  It’s so yummy. There are different varieties, but they all have a slightly tart taste. And if that isn’t enough, I read that goat cheese is hip and it doesn’t smack you in the face.  I’m telling you, I am a barometer of food trends.  No one believes me. Actually, I don’t care. I just want you to try new things. And avoid foods that smack you in the face. Who needs that?

So will my kids eat it? Yes and no. Yes, there is a way I can prepare that so that they will eat it but no, they will not just spread it on a cracker and chow down.  I found this recipe years ago when I had some vegetarian friends over for dinner, and everyone – my kids AND the vegetarians – liked it.  I don’t use canned beans because they are 1) expensive 2) salty and 3) mushy and I think it is a culinary crime to use goat cheese and fat-free sour cream in the same breath, let alone recipe.  Other than those two changes, this is the recipe I have used many times:

BLACK BEAN AND GOAT CHEESE QUESADILLAS

2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1 cup chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup salsa

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1 (19-ounce) can black beans, undrained

1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro

1 (4-ounce) package goat cheese, crumbled

8 (8-inch) flour tortillas

1/2 cup fat-free sour cream

1/2 cup salsa

Preparation

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, and saute for 3 minutes. Stir in /2 cup salsa, cumin, and beans, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes or until thick. Mash the bean mixture slightly with a potato masher. Remove from heat; stir in the cilantro and goat cheese.

Spread the bean mixture evenly over 4 tortillas; top each with 1 tortilla, pressing gently.

Heat 1/4 teaspoon olive oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 quesadilla, and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Repeat the procedure with the remaining olive oil and quesadillas. Cut each quesadilla into 6 wedges. Serve with fat-free sour cream and 1/2 cup salsa.

I love (Things I Love Thursday) goat cheese! It’s real food (Real Food Wednesday) , and this recipe is real fuel (Food Is Fuel Friday) for real kids.

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Active Kids Update

I have very active kids. Sometimes I wish they were a little more content to be still and know that I am Mom – but it’s just not their way.  They are simply very busy.  In an effort to brace myself for summer, I have added a whole BUNCH of events to the Active Kids Page (click on “Active Kids” up on top). 

There are a lot of 5K walks that allow strollers.  A.P. wheeled through a few when he was a baby.  The ones I’ve listed are runs or races that have a “kids’ event”.  I will continue to add to this page, but if you’ve only checked it once you will want to look at it again because there is a lot there that wasn’t before.  Get a few of these dates on the books, and get those kids out there!

I am also adding some May and June activities to the Calendar.  As usual, they are cheap, free or just different.  There is enough to do, and it’s Grand Rapids, home of Meijer. Why Pay More?

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Tasty Tuesday Round Up

The Grand Rapids Press had a Guide to Ethnic restaurants a little while back.  I was curious how many we had been to, and I thought you might enjoy reading about our experiences.  While the article inexplicably left out the ten gazillion really good Mexican restaurants in town, it was a good little kick in the pants to set some ethnic dining goals for this summer. 

For the first time in a really long time, we’ll be in town for Festival.  Those of you not in Grand Rapids might not understand why an Art Festival has a bunch of ethnic food stands.  Actually, those of us in Grand Rapids don’t really understand either, but we know what we need to know – and that is to shut our fool mouths and not question deliciousness.   It’s like if Epcot had a ‘foods on a stick from around the world’ exhibit.  Awesome.

Now that the kids are a little older I will be able to not only force them to eat funky foods, I can finally use my Anthropology major for something and educate them about the cultures the foods come from. If you are feeling mildly sorry for my kids – you are not alone.  I’m one stop shopping for all of your Dorky Mom needs. 

Here’s the list:

Do your kids like to try foods from other cultures? How do they react? I’m so curious – do tell!

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Menu Plan Monday

mpm-1This week will be pretty basic stuff.  We are trying to spend as little as possible at the grocery store so we can donate most of our grocery budget to the GRACE Hunger Walk.  Are you interested in chipping in? Even a few dollars is welcome.  You can read more about it here, or just head directly to my donation site here.  A couple of people have asked me how to donate with ‘real’ money (not online).  I’m so grateful for any donation, made by any method.  You can email me at bigbinderblog (at) gmail (dot) com and I will get my contact information to you.

So what are we having? Here it is:

MONDAY

Huevos Rancheros.  I have tortillas, cheese, dried black beans and eggs, and some fresh tomatoes but I’ll have to get some onion, jalapeno and cilantro.  That should be pretty cheap.

TUESDAY

Lasagne.  I have to make the spaghetti sauce and it will be a little thin on the meat because I don’t have very much, but that’s OK.  Lasagne isn’t about the meat, it’s about the cheese which fortunately, I have plenty of.

WEDNESDAY

Dirty Rice.  I actually have hot chicken sausage (it’s better than it sounds) and I think we’ll go ahead and skip the chicken livers this week.

THURSDAY

Tuna-n00dle Casserole.  Because I haven’t had it since Lent and maybe my family won’t make ‘that face’ this time.

FRIDAY

Pizza – I’ll make bread dough for the crust, and whatever is hanging around in the kitchen is fair game.  I do think I saw some pepperoni hanging around, and I know I have sauce so we’ll just throw some olives on there and call it good.

SNACKS

  • Home-made Clif Bars roughly using this recipe.  I am using molasses instead of the brown rice syrup because that’s what I have, and whatever nuts are lying around will just have to do.
  • Popcorn
  • Blueberry/peach smoothies – I have to kick this stuff out of my freezer so I can defrost it.  We’re going to have blueberry/strawberry/peach EVERYTHING for a few weeks.

I can make bread, and I have buttermilk so I can make pancakes if we run out of cereal before shopping again.  I’m going to be hustling a little more in the kitchen this week, but who cares? It’s for a good cause.

Now I have to make up my short grocery list.  I shop at Meijer and Family Fare, so I’ll use these wonderful matchups when I go.

For about a million more Menu Plan Monday posts, go check out I’m An Organizing Junkie.

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Me Gusto!

Here are some things that really got into my brain this week:

See what other fine, well-rounded folks are into at It’s Come 2 This.

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Scholastic Warehouse Sale

It’s time to start thinking about all of those long, hot summer days.  They seem so appealing right now but when they get here they’re just so… long. And hot. One of our big summer activities is to participate in each and every one of the Summer Reading Clubs around town.  I am crazy competitive with these things.  I spend a good 20 minutes every night logging books we read that day onto the forms from the various clubs.  It’s a sickness, really. 

My kids both learned to read this year.  Yes, they are two years apart but this particular skill blossomed in both of them at pretty much the same time.  That means I need a fresh stash of books that they haven’t memorized.  You know, to keep their skills sharp.  It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I am insane when it comes to buying kids’ books.  Also complete coincidence that I am have read the same books over and over.  Yup, I am doing this for my kids.

In my opinion the best place to get this fresh stash of books is at a Scholastic Warehouse Sale.  Around these parts, it happens but twice a year; once in May and once in December.  If you aren’t in West Michigan, check out the Scholastic Website to see if there is a warehouse sale by you.  There is a coupon to print too, but you have to spend $50.  For me this is not a problem.  I suggest you take a calculator to keep track of what is in your cart, and that you do not take your children.  Or at least, do not take my children.  They have proven themselves impossible to have a good browsing experience with.

The sale in Caledonia is at 8280 Broadmoor SE on Wednesday, May 5 through Wednesday May 19.  I LOVE these sales and I can’t wait to go! For more Things I Love Thursday (and a giveaway!), go to the Diaper Diaries.

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