Summer Fun - Food Fights and Tacos!

Since I last posted, my kids have all finished school and we've started to get into the swing of summer.  As happens anytime our schedule changes dramatically (back to school time, my going back to work, winter holidays, etc), being out of school and left with completely unstructured days is simultaneously exciting and stressful.  There is the joy of waking up late and playing UNO in our PJs until 11 am, followed by a serious breakdown (me) when everyone is starving and wants breakfast and we discover we are out of milk and will all have to go to the grocery store to purchase some (note to self:  use evening time to attend to grocery shopping as taking three children to the Teeter does not bring out the best in each of us).

Most summers, I jump in the car with the kids right when school is out and head down to visit my family in Texas, before the weather there becomes completely intolerable.  This year, though, my whole family somehow elected to meet in Hot Springs, AR for the week of July 4th, so we're cooling our heels here in Winston for the month of June.  So that leaves us with the challenge of figuring out how to fill all of these hours in a way that does not drive everyone else in the family completely crazy.  I feel like there should be a reality show - perhaps called Survivor - wherein we see a family go from all the children in school and other activities all day, mom and dad working, balancing the business of all of that, to full stop:  everybody home together for three months.  Who will be the first to leave voluntarily be eliminated?

Anyway, all joking aside, we have been having fun with only minor disturbances.  I did end up having to bring out my lawyer-mom side one day when my middle child stated that he was bored as he was exiting the car from a trip to the pool and Brynn's Frozen Yogurt.  Here's the deal we struck:

It actually seems to be working so far ...
Another things that all three of my kids enjoy and that is relatively easy for me is a "cooking" contest, aka Food Fight.  I posted a while back about our Deviled Egg Contest that we had to use up all of our hard-boiled Easter eggs, but here are some other fun ones that kids of all ages can easily participate in and don't require much effort.  
  • Peanut Butter and ...
  • Hot Dogs and ...
  • Vanilla Ice Cream and ...
  • Grilled Cheese and ...
  • Granola and ...
  • Grits and ...
  • Lettuce and ...
Just start with the basic elements (bread & peanut butter, for instance), and then pull out anything you have in your fridge or pantry that could possibly work (and of course, some that don't work!), and let the kids make their masterpieces.  

Make sure to:  
  • Limit of __ ingredients (so that the whole thing doesn't become impossible to eat and also so that the kids have to think about what they want to use before just dumping everything on)
  • Announce that prizes will be awarded for things like Best Name, Best Presentation, Most Creative, Best Flavor, Spiciest, etc - it's more fun if the prizes are funny too!  
  • Let everyone know that they will have to taste a bite of each person's creation in order to vote!
  • Vote with something small, like jellybeans, and use little paper cups that you can write on.
  • And most importantly, use paper plates!!!
Our Deviled Egg contest - Dixie cups on each plate for voting!
Okay, so you've had fun with food and been an active parent, take a break and have a cocktail!  Now you deserve an easy dinner recipe - inspired by Pinterest - that will keep the good vibes going till it's time for all the cherubs to say goodnight!

Best (meaning easiest!) Baked Crispy Tacos Ever:

Small soft flour or corn tortillas
Refried Beans
Filling (pulled chicken, ground beef, ground turkey, Boca, etc, cooked with Taco Seasoning and diced tomatoes, if desired)
Shredded Cheese
Toppings:  salsa, lettuce, sour cream, slaw, jalapenos (basically, whatever y'all like!)

  • Preheat oven to 400°
  • Spread each tortilla with a small amount of Refried Beans
  • Top with a few tablespoons of the Filling
  • Fold tortillas in half and wedge each taco into the back of a muffin tin, as pictured below:
I used leftover rotisserie chicken without any seasonings on this batch, and I left some plain for my vegetarian kid.
  • Top with a generous amount of Shredded Cheese (especially if you've included things that your kids might not be hugely into, like tomatoes or veggies)
  • Bake for 10 minutes or so, until the tacos are slightly brown and crisp and the cheese is melted
  • Remove and top with whatever toppings you like
These are now our favorite tacos - they are much easier for my kids to eat than soft tacos, because they tend to hold their shape and the toppings don't fall out, and they are healthier and less frustrating than the crispy tacos that you can buy at the grocery.  Leftovers also keep really well and are great for a quick snack or to throw in a lunchbox since the stuff won't fall out.

Be creative & you can find lots of things to make into tacos - maybe you'll even have a Taco Contest!!

Have a happy week & weekend y'all!  We'll see you soon!

-dinners on the porch