“What’s for Dinner, Mom?”

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Just about every day, I get the question “What’s for dinner, mom?”  And with 8 kids… I might get that question 6 times (the 2 little ones will be asking soon enough.)  Sometimes they forget they asked and ask again.  It has taken some trial and error, but my new answer is “Food.”  It is not a satisfying answer, but they are getting used to it.  I use that answer for a few reasons.  One – so I don’t get stressed out if I don’t have the menu planned, or am tossing two different recipes around in my head and haven’t decided.  Two – so I don’t hear the complaints ahead of dinner that they don’t like it… because really, cooking is a bit of art.  It’s an opportunity to be creative, make something, and (hopefully) have somebody appreciate your little bit of creativity.  And Three – I love surprising my children.  Everything is a surprise in our house, everything.  Many times they have no clue where we are going when I get them into the van… and the shock and awe (and sometimes dismay) when we show up to a strawberry field, or a donut shop in the middle of a town we’ve never been to, or a new park, , or a zoo, or a craft store.   I will say that most times, if there had been any groans, by the end, they are grinning and burst out how great it all was to their dad when he returns from work.  So… I stick with the surprise effect.

Anyhow, I want to start sharing some recipes for when you might be at a loss for recipes, just want something simple to put together, and want there to be a chance that your kids might like it.  Nothing gourmet (unless my husband does a guest post here, because he is an amazing cook – that kind of person that just takes a bunch of assorted things out of the fridge and pantry, and poof – a gourmet meal).

And so… Chicken Tortilla Soup.  A dear friend of mine showed me how to make this when the big kids were little and time in the kitchen was unheard of… diaper changing and playdough snowman making demanded my attention.   It still works today when those little kids are big and have school and sports and the littles still need playdough time.  It’s a great (and easy) recipe.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

6 or so boneless skinless chicken thighs (or you can use a couple chicken breasts)

1/2 packet of taco seasoning

1 cup of salsa

2 (14 oz) cans of diced tomatoes

2 cans of black beans

(shredded cheese and sour cream can be served on top of each bowl)

You can either put all this together in a pot on the stove, bring to a boil, and then simmer til the chicken can be shredded, about one hour.  OR  (my preference) put it in a crockpot on low for 4 hours.  With our size family – we double this recipe – always.

You can serve it as is, or over rice to make the meal stretch further.  We always offer a dollop of sour cream on top, and if we have shredded cheese handy, that is offered too.  You can serve with a salad or cornbread – but that’s up to you.  Many of our meals we will just cut up some fresh veggies for a side- cucumbers, baby carrots, peppers – our kids love raw veggies.

Hope this makes one of your meals a little easier.  Happy dinnertime to you and yours!

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