Sopapilla Recipe

Fun story, when I was pregnant the first time I was nauseous for roughly the first five and a half months. It wasn’t fun. One day I woke up with an intense craving for sopapillas, so I went out for lunch with my mom and future mother in law. I asked the incredibly kind waitress for extra sopapillas and she delivered. I explained that it was the first time food tasted good in months, and she brought me more. When we paid the check, she brought me a to go box filled with even more sopapillas! I burst into tears, because I was so touched, and because pregnancy hormones are fun.

Unless you are from New Mexico, you might not know what a sopapilla is. My spell checker has apparently never heard of them either. Well guys, I’m about to blow your mind. This recipe is insanely easy to make, and sopapillas are so versatile you could eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert. Sopapillas are puffy fried dough. Think funnel cake but not necessarily sweet and puffier. Or a Chalupa shell but again, puffier. The word, sopapilla, roughly translates to “little pillow”, so, puffy. 😉

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Mix the dry ingredients.
  2. Add the oil and water.
  3. Mix with a fork or your hands until the dough is uniform. It should be wet enough to not flake apart, but dry enough to not stick to your hands. IMG_1846
  4. Cover the dough and leave it to set for at least one hour. *In my experience, the longer I leave my dough alone, the better it puffs up when frying. I tend to make my dough in the morning, put it in the fridge, and fry it up for dinner.*
  5. Heat up your oil for frying. The deeper the oil, the puffier the sopapilla, so use a deep fryer, or the deepest frying pan you have.
  6. While the oil is heating, it’s time to roll out your sopapillas. Flour your surface, and grab a small (like 1 inch in diameter) ball of the dough. Roll it in the flour a little bit to make it easier to roll out.
  7. Roll it out nice and thin, about 1/8 of an inch.
  8. When your oil is ready (375°F) fry those puppies up. I find it works best to fry one at a time. IMG_1853

Sopapillas are best eaten immediately, not that you’re going to want to wait. And they really are super versatile! Because they are essentially little pillows of fried dough, they are great for stuffing! So stuff them with eggs, hash browns and bacon for breakfast, or beans, rice and meat for lunch or dinner. Pair them with some vanilla ice cream and cinnamon sugar and you’ve got dessert. Or just drizzle some honey on them.

Enjoy! IMG_1859

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Five Unusual Things To Pack To Disney World

Hi! Planning a trip to Disney World this summer? First of all, congratulations! You’re going to have a great time! Second of all, I’m totally jealous, but it’s okay, I’ll get over it. Third of all, you are probably wondering about what to pack to make your vacation smooth and relaxing. Let me help!

There are tons of lists out there about what to pack on a Disney World vacation, honestly it can be a little overwhelming, and if you packed everything mentioned on every list out there you wouldn’t have room left in your hotel room to turn around. This is a list of things you might be wondering, “hmm, should I pack that?” that I think you should. Everything on this list has saved me money and headaches.

1. Water Misters

These things are awesome because they serve multiple functions. True, they keep you cool, which is their main function, but they also keep the kids entertained. Buying one at the parks will cost you almost $20. I picked up several at Walgreen’s for about $5 a piece. They’re also compact and don’t take up a lot of suitcase space. You can get them from Amazon here.

2. Rain Ponchos

It rains in Florida. A lot. And I’m not talking a gentle afternoon shower. When it rains, it pours. I have been caught in a fair share of downpours. When I didn’t pack ponchos it resulted in shivering kids, shelling out $15 for a single poncho and a grumpy me. Last time I packed a ten pack of ponchos and was so happy I did. The ponchos were super compact so I could keep several in my backpack at any given time. And if it started to rain, I wasn’t frantically having to find a vendor that was selling them. *Bonus item; water shoes are also VERY nice to have.

3. Groceries

Did you know you can have groceries delivered to your hotel? You can order them months in advance and have them waiting for you! If you are staying at a Disney hotel, there is a small service fee, but I still saved a lot of money going this route. I would suggest not going overboard, but getting some things that are quick and easy for breakfasts and lunches can be very convenient.

Things I order; cereal, granola bars, and bagels for breakfast, lunch meat (if your hotel room has a small fridge), peanut butter and jelly for lunches, fresh fruit, snacks and water. There are several different services you can use, I used Garden Grocer and was surprised at how easy it was. They even have an app so I could do the entire thing from my phone.

4. A Good Water Bottle

Look, you don’t want to get dehydrated on vacation, Disney doesn’t want you to get dehydrated on vacation. There are lots of options in the parks to keep you hydrated. Water fountains, bottled water, courtesy cups of water and even water stations during the busiest and hottest times. I like having a good, insulated water bottle with me at all times.

5. Ziploc Bags

Here are some things I used Ziploc bags for on my last Disney trip; snacks, coins for the pressed penny machines, wet ponchos, phones and wallets during water rides, park maps, things I didn’t want to leak like sunscreen and diaper cream. Seriously, so helpful.

So those are five things I always pack to Disney World. What are your must have items?

A Love Letter To New Mexico Part Two

Carlsbad Caverns

Tired but excited, we got to Carlsbad Caverns early to avoid the crowds. It was quiet as we descended, the few people who were there whispered. It was as, if not more so, otherworldly as White Sands, but in a completely different way. Cave swallows flew and dove in circles as we weaved our way down. As we looked up, the light from the outside grew smaller and smaller until it disappeared entirely.

I felt good. I had my son on my back in his carrier, my husband, daughter and I all had our cameras ready. With a whopping three hours of sleep, I was ready to go. My daughter is fascinated with rocks recently, so we stopped at every formation, reading the little signs posted at each one. My son oohed and ahed in his carrier, and occasionally stopped to give me a hug. We were at the top of our game. And then we hit bottom.

“Rock Bottom”

We finished the descent and got to “The Big Room”, a level cavern with different formations that is about a mile long walk. We let my son out of his carrier, thinking it would be nice to let him stretch his legs. This was a mistake. After not sleeping well the night before, and it being close to his nap time, he was happy to be out of the carrier, but not happy to go where we wanted to go, at the pace we wanted to go, or to stay on the path. My daughter also had hit a wall. Never the less, we didn’t hike all the way down not to look around once we got there. Besides, after we took a look in the Big Room, we could sit and eat the snacks we had packed and take a rest before trekking back out.

Sometimes when you’re a parent you forget things. Like, you forget to pack snacks before taking a strenuous four hour hike with two small children. Luckily, hundreds of feet underground, there are restrooms, tables, a small snack shop, and even a small gift shop. We got a roast beef sandwich and a yogurt parfait to split between the four of us. And we were ready to return to the surface.

Return To The Surface

Now, there are elevators at the caverns. So, if after you’ve hiked down, you don’t want to hike back up you can take the elevator. I remember going to the caverns with my family when I was young and taking the elevators, much to my dismay. I always felt like I was missing out on the whole experience. I was young and naive. I was stupid.

The elevators were out of order when we were there. Finally, I was going to get the chance to hike out. With two small children, my son now on my husband’s back, I was ready. By now it was almost noon. Those crowds we had avoided on the way in, were now coming in in droves.

Maybe it was the lack of sleep, maybe it was the lack of food, but I seriously thought I was going to die on the hike out. Surrounded by tourists, hundreds of feet underground, I just wanted to lie down and call it quits. And we weren’t even half the way back up. Thank goodness the path has benches all the way up, and thank goodness I have very patient family members. I think I stopped to catch my breath at every single bench. IMG_1254

Cow Puns and Home

On the drive home there was a herd of cows. They were all standing in a line, facing the freeway.

“Those cows look like they’re up to something.” I told my husband.

“Hmm? Oh. Yeah they do.” He said, his eyes on the road.

“I think it’s a moo-tiny.” I said, and proceeded to laugh at my own joke for the next five minutes.

In forty-eight hours my family and I saw so much of what New Mexico has to offer and I thought about how much the state has given me. It has given me my family. My husband who I met in high school, our two kids. It has given me people to share my life with. And a captive audience for my cow puns.IMG_1181

 

 

 

 

A Love Letter To New Mexico Part One

In forty-eight hours we hiked the pure dunes of White Sands. We trekked seventy-nine stories underground at Carlsbad Caverns. We ate street tacos and saw the World’s Largest Pistachio in Alamagordo. We drove through the mountains that were once home the Smokey the Bear, saw dirt devils off in the distance and the alien crash site in Roswell. There were wild deer and antelope, cows, horses, and a camel at Tim and Pam’s Roadside Petting Zoo, and miles of perfectly straight rows of pecan trees, just beginning to bud. Some of it was downright otherworldly, at yet, we never left the state.

Mini Vacation

We wanted to do something fun for Spring Break this year, but we also wanted to do some spring cleaning and not be so exhausted after our vacation that we would need a second vacation. So we looked for something we could easily do in a day or two.

We decided to leave early in the morning on Thursday, drive down to White Sands National Monument, spend some time there, then spend the night in Artesia. On Friday, we would wake up early and drive to Carlsbad Caverns, getting there early enough to avoid the Spring Break crowds, and when we were done, we would drive home. IMG_1140

White Sands

We got to White Sands National Monument around one in the afternoon, after grabbing lunch nearby in Alamagordo. This was not an ideal time to visit. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, which sounds really nice, but White Sands is literally just that. White sand, for several miles. The afternoon sun reflecting off the sand was BRIGHT!!! I slathered everyone in sunscreen, put on hats and sunglasses and prayed that my eighteen month old son would keep his on. He did alright.

Despite living in New Mexico since I was ten, I had never been to White Sands. It really was breathtaking. It felt like being on an alien planet. We brought our sled with us, in hopes we’d be able to sled down the dunes, but we didn’t have much luck. My daughter soon gave up and, after seeing a woman do it, decided to just roll down the dunes.

When we were leaving, she found a lizard, darting in between the small bits of vegetation. It was pure white, blending in perfectly with the sand. It was crazy to think of the different types of wildlife that have adapted to live among the dunes. IMG_1154

The Hotel and a Sleepless Night

Two reasons we stayed in Artesia; 1. it was in between our two destinations and would mean a shorter drive to Carlsbad and 2. it saved us a nice chunk of change not staying right next to White Sands or Carlsbad. I’m really glad we stayed there. We stayed at The Budget Inn, a few blocks from the small and charming Main Street. It wasn’t glamorous, especially on the outside, but it was clean, the beds were comfortable and it had complimentary muffins and coffee in the morning.

Sometimes, when you’re a parent, you forget things. Like, how old you are, or, where you left your oldest child. Your brain just kind of stops working. On this trip, both my husband and I forgot how terrible our children are to sleep with. While we were packing, I asked my husband if we should bring the Pack and Play for our son to sleep in. My husband said no, he was planning on one of us sharing a bed with our son, and the other one of us would share the other bed with our daughter. I nodded, yes, that would work just fine. It did not work just fine.

I woke up around two in the morning because my daughter had wacked me in the face with her arm. I woke up to find her face down, on top of the covers, her arms and legs spread out, smack dab in the middle of the small double bed we were sharing. I hear my husband whispering, “Go to sleep. It’s time to go to sleep!” I whispered back, “Are you ok?”

My husband was not ok. Our son had woken up around one in the morning, in a new place, sharing a bed with his dad, and decided that what he really wanted to do was poke his dad continuously in the face. No one got much sleep that night. Despite the comfy beds. Moral of the story; always bring the Pack and Play.

IMG_1157
Outside Carlsbad Caverns

 

Easy Pork Egg Rolls Recipe

Mmmmm. I’m still full from dinner last night. We made a quick stir fry and homemade egg rolls to go with it. The stir fry was fine, but those egg rolls! I always eat more of them than I mean to, faster than I mean to. The recipe makes about 16 egg rolls, so for a family of four, that equals a lot of egg rolls.

I adapted this recipe from several other ones that I’ve seen and tried, and that’s the nice thing about egg rolls, they are very adaptable. The following recipe is more of a guideline to get a beginning cook comfortable making them, so feel free to change it up as much as you want to! And let me know in the comments what changes you made so I can try them too!

Ingredients

  • About 2 1/2 cups of crisp veggies. I use a prepackaged slaw that’s got broccoli, cabbage and carrots in it
  • One package of egg roll wrappers
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • White pepper
  • Powdered ginger
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Season your pork with the white pepper, ginger, garlic and salt. I usually start with about a 1/2 teaspoon of each, and then add more while cooking. It is all to taste though, so if you aren’t big on ginger, go easy on it or leave it out altogether. If you like spice, add extra white pepper. You do you.
  2. Cook your pork completely through in a skillet. I cook it at a medium high heat for about 8 minutes. It should smell pretty delicious while cooking, if it doesn’t, maybe add some more seasoning. I usually add a splash of soy sauce towards the end. IMG_1447
  3. When it’s done cooking, let the pork cool while you get your veggies ready.
  4. I take about 2 1/2 cups of my slaw and put it in a big bowl. I season mine lightly with ginger, white pepper and salt. I also add a splash (about a tablespoon) of sesame oil, but sesame oil isn’t for everyone, so feel free to skip it.
  5. Add your pork to your veggies and mix. There is probably going to be a lot of fat from the pork in your pan, don’t add that to your veggie mixture or it’s going to be too wet. I use a slatted spoon to scoop my pork into my veggies. That way I leave most of the fat in the pan. IMG_1463
  6. Crack your egg into a bowl and stir. You’re going to use this to seal your egg rolls.
  7. Take an egg roll wrapper and lay it out like a diamond.
  8. Put a small handful of your mixture in the center of your wrapper. Make sure not to  add too much or too little.IMG_1485
  9. Take the side corners of the wrapper and fold them in. Then take the bottom corner and fold it up. It should look like an open envelope.
  10. Spread a little egg on the top corner.
  11. Roll your roll from the bottom up. You want to roll it pretty tight so that it doesn’t fall apart while frying.
  12. You’re going to want to get your oil pretty hot, about 375°. If you don’t have a thermometer, do what I do. I fry mine in a medium frying pan with enough oil to cover half of the egg roll. I heat it at a medium high heat and let it warm for about five minutes. To see if my oil is ready, I take a small strip of egg roll wrapper (I usually have a few left over) and put it in the oil. You want it to get golden brown relatively quickly, like 15 seconds quickly. When your wrapper strips get golden brown right away, you are ready to fry your egg rolls.
  13. I fry mine for about 2-3 minutes. I leave a few in a little longer because my husband likes them more brown than I do. IMG_1533
  14. When you take them out of the oil you are going to want drain them. The first time I made egg rolls I didn’t do this correctly and ended up with little pockets of piping hot oil. Ouch and yuck. Now I do two things; when I take the roll out of the oil, I take it out by the end so that the oil drips out the other end. And I put it on a cookie sheet covered with paper towels, that I prop up on one end. That way the rolls cool at an angle and drain any excess oil.
    IMG_1564
    The sheet is propped up on a box of pepper.

I love making these with my daughter. Since it’s such a flexible recipe, she can have a little more fun with it and get creative. She helps me with every step except the actual frying.

IMG_1442
The dinosaurs helped too. 😉

I hope this recipe works for you as well, let me know in the comments! Now, I think I’ll go have a salad for lunch. I’m still kind of full. 😉

Doldrum Days

Give Me Wine, Or Give Me Death

Act 1 Scene 4:
Kim walks into the Seven Eleven. She’s wearing a t-shirt, jeans, no bra, a gray hoodie and flip-flops. She looks tired but determined. Despite never being in this place before she quickly finds what she’s looking for in the back. Wine. Her eyes narrow as she zooms in on the decent chardonnay sitting between the pink moscatos and sparkling strawberry wines. She clutches the bottle and goes to the checkout.
Dave (the clerk): ID?
Kim fumbles in her wallet while Dave and the other clerk make small talk. Kim hands her ID to Dave.
Dave: Thanks Kimberly. So how’s your night going?
Kim laughs with bitterness and exhaustion. Dave will never know.
Kim: My four-year old won’t go to sleep. I can’t find the right stuffed animal. I just want it to stooooppppp!!!!!
…..
Dave: Credit or debit?
End Scene

The above is a Facebook post from four years ago, when my daughter was four years old and Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t being investigated. Four years ago and as soon as I reread it, I remember it like it was yesterday. We have always been BIG on a set bedtime routine. Same time, same number of books, same number of songs, same rituals in the same order every night. We had the blackout curtains, we only watched loud movies with subtitles, nothing disturbed the sanctity of bedtime.

Except when we couldn’t find the right stuffed animal in a sea of fifty stuffed animals. Then all hell broke loose. But four years later I can remember the frustration, the tears (from everyone in the house, not just my daughter), I remember it perfectly because even though it was four years ago, the same frustrations continue to pop up. As a parent, some days just plain suck.

Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain

When this memory popped up the other day it got me thinking about how I present myself, specifically as a parent, to the rest of the world. Sure, we all talk about what a mess we are, and how we struggle, but very rarely do we put it out there on display. When we do, it’s usually with an exasperated chuckle and a shoulder shrug. We aren’t pulling out a magnifying glass and examining our short comings with anyone anytime soon.

Take my above story. I played it for laughs, I never mentioned that my daughter was screaming so loudly that I was legitimately concerned that a neighbor was going to call the cops. I don’t talk about how much of the wine I drank that night, or the enormous feeling of self-doubt that stuck with me long after my daughter calmed down.

And yet, it’s those tiny glimpses of things not being perfect, of being down right hard and exhausting, that most resonate with me as a mom. With that in mind, here are two (more) examples of me just kind of sucking at this mom thing.

Not A Hot Mess, Just A Mess

I’m pretty proud of the pictures I’ve been able to put on this blog so far. My husband, shoot even my daughter, have way better eyes than I do for photography, but I think I’ve done a pretty good job of making my food look appetizing.

But I’m going to let you in on a secret; the reason I tend towards close-ups isn’t because they look better, it’s so I don’t have to clean as much of my kitchen.

The picture on the right is what my counter looks like right now. I tried giving it an artsy filter, but it is what it is, a mess. I’m sure I’ll get to it after I’m done writing this. If I don’t get distracted by some game on my phone.

IMG_1425

Thomas The Tank Engine Is A Real Jerk

Above is a cute photo of my husband reading to our son. I captioned it, “Story time” with a few heart emojis and shared it with the world. What this photo doesn’t show? How fed up my husband and I both are with the book he’s reading and how close I am to burning it.

There are two stories, in the first one Thomas can’t pull the heavy cars filled with people so he strands the people all around the island in cow pastures to lighten his load, in the second he wants his picture taken so he puffs his way into everyone else’s pictures, ruining all the photos. I’m sure both stories end with Thomas learning a valuable lesson, but we never get to the end because my son gets bored halfway through. So the only thing his developing brain is taking away from them is, “Hey kid! Are things not going your way? Just dump on those around you to get what you want!”

Doldrum Days

So there are my examples of me not winning “Mother Of The Year”. I share them with you to remind myself that nobody is perfect, nor does anyone need to be. If you are having “one of those days”, I hope this helps, and know that we’ve all been there.

Mint Lemonade Recipe

I’m going to start off topic. I hate throwing yard sales. I do. I hate taking a bunch of stuff that I don’t want and trying to convince strangers that they should want it. The whole thing feels just slightly dishonest. And yet, I’m having a two day yard sale this weekend.

As much as I don’t enjoy yard sales, I do love getting my daughter involved with the whole process. When I told her we were having one, she immediately exclaimed that she wanted to sell lemonade and cookies. Awesome! Not only could she help me make the lemonade and cookies, she could be in charge of selling them, and, (bonus!) be otherwise occupied and therefor not pitch a fit when I sell her old stuff! Win, win, win!

I’ve been in love with mint lemonade since I tried it a few years back. The hint of mint somehow makes it about a zillion times more refreshing than regular lemonade. Here’s how we make it:

Ingredients

  • 6-8 good-sized mint leaves (more or less depending on how minty you like it)
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 6 lemon’s worth)
  • 1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 cups water

Instructions

  1. Start by mixing the sugar and the lemon juice in a pitcher.
  2. Julienne (cut into tiny strips) the mint. Smash it, squish it, the more you abuse your mint, the better. IMG_1384
  3. Stir in the mint and water.

And that’s it! Simple right? A few things;

  1. I swear my lemonade tastes better after I leave it in the fridge over night.
  2. A lot of lemonade recipes say to create a simple syrup with your sugar and a half cup of your water. I’m sure it tastes even better this way, the reason I don’t do this is to keep it kid friendly.
  3. The cookies my daughter insisted we make are the Triple Chocolate Cookies from The Pioneer Woman.  And they are sooooooooooo good! We follow the recipe exactly, except we add white chocolate chips to make them Quadruple Chocolate. They are so chocolatey and chewy, I highly recommend them.

    IMG_1398
    Mmmmmm. Fresh mint. I feel mojitos in my future.

Well that’s everything. Let me know what you think of this recipe and if it works for you. And wish me luck at the yard sale!