Friday, October 29, 2010

We cut the cord!

In an attempt to save as much money as we can for remodel projects, we are trying to cut expenses.  We went through every expense to see where we could shave a little.  I'll skip all the boring details and tell you the punch line: We cancelled cable!
We cut the cord!
 And we're all still alive. 
Update: the day after this post went out, I learned that cancelling cable is actually the latest "hip" thing to even has a phrase coined for it: Cutting the Cord.  Ok, so stick with me and you'll be up on all the latest trends.  I guess the other trend is to cut your home phone service and just stick with cells.  I'm not quite ready for that yet...but perhaps one of these computer phone services (Costco sells some box and you get lifetime phone service) will be in our future?
Our kids don't get to watch much TV (half hour a day if they're lucky), and I watch little to none (except for my trashy addictions: Survivor, American Idol, The Bachelor and occasionally Dancing with the Stars)........
but DH loves TV
He made the biggest sacrifice by far. 
Thanks babe, our wainscoting will thank you too. 

So that was at the end of May. Our son had earned over 2 hours of TV time that he had saved up over the previous few weeks.  I told him to use it all cause TV was about to go bye bye.  He had a "Cyberchase" marathon (watching about 8 episodes I had recorded) and shortly thereafter, the box was gone.  Towards the end of summer he asked when we were getting it back,
"didn't we just get rid of TV for the summer?" 

Nope, that would only be a savings of $210, barely enough to pay for the number of times I change my mind with paint color.  So here we are, 5 months into having no cable and loving it!  Do we miss cable, nope!  We watch TV and lots of it, only it's free! 

Have you heard of hulu? 

You can watch just about any series that exists on TV (or at least any that are on the 25 or so channels that I actually WATCHED of the 1,000+ channels we used to get).  And if you plug your computer into the TV, viola, all the TV shows you could ask for.  So Survivor plays on.  I just have to watch it a day later.  Just like with TiVo, you can pause it, rewind, etc.......but you can't use a remote,
you actually have to get up
 like the olden days when you'd have to turn the knob to
change the channel
Oh well, call it exercise. 

And then a couple months ago, DH signed up for a free month trial of Netflix on line. 
You can watch hundreds of movies or TV shows on demand (immediately) and also order DVDs to be delivered to your mailbox.  After the trial period, we decided we enjoyed it so much we signed up for $9/month. 

The biggest bummer now was live sports.  But then I discovered that many websites broadcast games, too.  Cal games could be played on the computer and watched on the big screen
TV.  It was all working out pretty well until................
I listened to the play-off games on AM radio but my house is so loud all the time, I couldn't tell what was going on at all!  I figured we'd eat at Wipe Out for the next 2 weeks just to watch the games. 

And then, DH came home with this:
 Radio Shack, $11

Did you know they still exist?  Good ol' fashioned RABBIT EARS.
(Thanks to my brother for the idea, he did graduate from Harvard and Yale, no wonder)

Well they do and they are AWESOME! 
And just $11.
THey're kinda ugly, you think a little spray paint would help?

But either way, cute or not so much..........
Now I don't miss a wind-up...

...a pitch out

We get all the major networks (FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS, etc. etc....just ask me if you want a list of everything), in HD, with crystal clear picture. 

Hum Baby!

The World Series is ON!

Come on Giants! 

And as a bonus, I can watch Survivor on Wednesday nights. 

So our cable bill went from $70/ $9/month (Netflix) and I don't miss a single thing.  That's a savings of $732/year. 

Now that will definitely buy us more than a can of paint.

Come on, give it a try...


Thursday, October 28, 2010

119 Pounds!

Any guesses???
The weight of the dresser I carried from the garage to the girls' room this afternoon (the one I just finished re-painting)?

NO!  While it felt that heavy, I'm sure it wasn't even close.
The weight of the tulle I used to make the fluffiest tutu a girl ever did see?

NO! But I swear my girls' weigh twice as much when they have it on (pics to come!)

My weight?
Come on, seriously?  Even if it was, would I post it HERE?

The weight of my 3 children combined?
Ok, that's your closest guess yet...but still NO!
They are a whopping 111 pounds combined
The amount of laundry I have built up to do tomorrow this weekend after Halloween!
Give up?
It was my daughter's guess for the
"Guess the weight of the pumpkin contest" 
at Mollie Stone's and "she" was dead on RIGHT!

She had a little help filling out the entry paper.
* know what she WON? 
Come on, you can get this.....
It's not so tough to guess!

It took two employees,

....and a rolling cart to get it out of the store.

It took two guys to load it into my car.

And then 'lil ol' me got it out of the car and settled into its new home.
                                                               Isn't it cute?!

Need perspective of how big a 119 pound pumpkin actually is? The winner is less than 25% its weight at 28 pounds.

Now we're ready for the trick-or-treaters!!!

Happy almost Halloween!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

OMG Fish -n- "Chips" and a tutu

Today's post was going to be about a super sweet and EASY tutu I am making for each of my girls but then I decided I HAD to include tonight's dinner as it was incredibly tasty!  I'm especially proud due to many circumstances I had to overcome (see background below) AND because I usually use recipes I find on line and adapt them slightly to meet my needs, but today I made everything all by myself! These are original recipes, as original as they come, baby!

A little background…..DH hates fish. Every time I cook fish he eats it like an 8 year old who hates fish. Fork held between just two fingers, wrist bend down, food slowly brought to the mouth, you can hear the creaking of the jaw as his mouth opens ever so slowly to take the bite. And somehow I always make fish the nights he didn’t eat lunch and is super hungry…and hence a bit disappointed by the meal.

More background…

4:10 today: rushing out the door to soccer, listening to my soccer-playing son complain, “I don’t want to go to soccer, I don’t think I’m signing up for soccer again” and looking forward to the hour that my 2 girls and I sit bored chit-chat with other bored moms and work on making tutus:
5:30pm today: on the way home from soccer practice, I am driving 3 crazies being driven crazy by 3 darling children, all complaining about what’s for dinner….”I hate fish” the first one says….the second one doesn’t miss a beat “I hate fish” ….third one chimes in “Grandma hates fish”……third one adds “Mommy, I love everything you make”…….”OH I love YOU!!”  And the first one barks back "You don't love me cause I don't like your fish?" And then the strangest thing, this song came on and it was silent in my car for 3 min. 26 sec., SILENT.  At any rate, the car ride home was loud and obnoxious and met with multiple complaints about the meal to come.

5:45pm: 2 girls are happily drenching fish in flour and breadcrumbs, running the mini-chopper and peeling garlic. 1 boy is out front playing soccer by himself.

6:35pm: All EVERY LAST MORSEL of dinner is gone DEVOURED!

Fish –n- “Chips”


1.5 pounds (needed 2.5 lb) Wild Alaskan Cod (Frozen, from Costco, rated “Best choice” by Seafood Watch the website that tells you which fish is healthy to eat and sustainable)
½ ish cup flour (whole wheat of course!)
1/3 ish cup Old Bay Seasoning
1 egg
splash half & half
Panko bread crumbs
Canola Oil
Salt and Pepper


Cut fish into strips.
Set-up a station of 3 bowls:
1) flour and Old Bay Seasoning
2) egg, beaten, with splash of half & half
3) panko bread crumbs

Pour enough oil in a cast iron skillet to cover the bottom without having to circle it around manually on the pan…..heat skillet over medium flame. Sprinkle salt and pepper on fish. Drench fish in flour

....then egg

...and finally panko crumbs

Set the fish pieces aside until you have prepared them all so they can cook together. Fill skillet with fish (took me two batches to cook it all) and cook in oil for about 4 minutes, then flip for about 2-3 minutes and then try to flip to each side that hasn’t touched the oil yet for about a minute each side. My fish were kinda thick chunks, so maybe less time if you have thinner strips. Drain on paper towels. Serve with cilantro sauce, below.

Cilantro-lime-Sriracha dipping sauce

2 cloves garlic
small bunch cilantro (I bought a package from TJ’s and used the whole thing)
1/3 cup lite mayo
¼ cup non-fat yogurt
splash half n half (~ 2 TBS)
1-2 TBS Sriracha Hot Sauce
juice of 1 ½ limes

Starting with garlic and cilantro, blend all ingredients in a mini-chopper or food processor.


I keeping calling them “chips” as opposed to chips cause they aren’t really French fries at all…they are Sweet Potato Fries and we love them!! I tried to make them from scratch once, and they ended up so mushy it was like eating baby food drenched in oil and salt. So for now, I stick with Trader Joe’s version. We can eat 2 bags.

Remember all those complaining children? They ALL asked for seconds, some thirds. Finally I had to say "No, I ran out!" And best of all, even DH asked for thirds! He was bummed I didn’t cook more fish! WHAT?!?!

So like I said, this post was supposed to be about these tutus I am making for my girls. By the way, they have not taken their ballet shoes off since I bought them yesterday at 9am. They begged to wear them all day yesterday, needing to be carried to and from the car (since you can’t walk outside in them) and insisted on wearing them to bed. And did they forget about them today, NO! They took them off for gymnastics (not sure why) but had them on the rest of the day. So to go with their ballet shoes, I am making them some new tutus with this great no-sew tutu idea I got from a friend (and later found hundreds of YouTube videos on the subject). I’ll do a more detailed post when I finish, but here’s the preliminary.

You start with strips of tulle. I kept thinking my picture was out of focus, so to prove it wasn’t, I included the ribbon in the picture, too.
Then you cut a piece of ribbon 44 inches long PLUS the circumference of the recipient’s waist. You just tie the tulle onto the ribbon. Easy peasy, as the girls say. I’ll post pictures when they are finished and on the girls…..they look so
much cuter “on”. But here’s a sneak peak:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Menu Monday: Mini-meatloaves 2 ways

Happy Monday!

It was a very rainy weekend in Northern California...which I loved!  I was able to start and actually finish sewing a Halloween costume (more on that to come) and finish a ball of yarn on my first knitting project. The end of the weekend brought the beginning of a fun week with my girls' first ballet class today- SO SWEET!

I made the last of my Rachel Ray recipes this week (gosh that week of meals seemed to last 2 weeks...guess that's what happens when you toss in a Mac-n-cheese night and a few extra burrito nights!)  Anyways, this meal was actually a great two-fer.  We had it for dinner one night and then again for lunch the next day in paninis.

Mini Meatloaves Smothered in Onions

Ingredients:1/2 cup pitted dried dates, chopped (Trader Joe's has these in the refrigerator section)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (TJ's carries, near pasta)
1 1/3 pounds ground beef (I love the organic/free range ground beef at Costco, just $4.33/pound)
3 onions, 2 thinly sliced and 1 finely chopped (this is a LOT, if you just have 2 adults use 2 total)
3 slices cooked bacon, chopped (we love bacon*, use more!)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper 4 tablespoons butter, melted

Position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 375°. In a bowl, combine the dates and breadcrumbs, working the mixture through your fingers to separate. Mix in the beef. Mix in the chopped onion, bacon, egg, worcestershire and vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Divide into 4 mounds and, on a baking sheet, shape into loaves. Place on the upper rack and bake for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, on another baking sheet, toss the sliced onions with the butter and season with salt; spread out evenly. Bake on the lower rack, stirring occasionally, until
 golden, about 30 minutes. I prepared the onions slightly differently.  I caramelized them slowly, for about 30 min., on med-low, in the pan I cooked the bacon in, without draining the bacon grease (not so healthy, but SO good!) 
Serve the meatloaves with the onions.
I served with this great frozen veggie mix from Trader Joe's: Organic Foursome (beans, peas, carrots, corn) and brown rice.

 the best part of this meal is yet to come!
We had left-over meatloaf AND onions........
this made one of the best paninis the next day.

For the paninis:

Sliced Sourdough (or your favorite panini bread)
meatloaf,above, sliced & heated
caramelized onions from the meatloaf, heated
freshly cooked bacon
smoked Gouda (I'm sure any cheese would be good!)

Put all the ingredients between bread and cook in panini press (my panini press is my George Foreman creative!) for about 5 minutes.  Yum!

* I tend to cook with more bacon than you might think is "healthy"...but I wanted to add a disclaimer about the bacon I buy.  It's Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked Uncured Bacon (the photo above is not mine, and is of the dry-cured package...also nitrite/nitrate free). This bacon has got to be one of the "healthiest" out there.  It contains no nitrates/nitrites.  The pigs are raised in a sustainable manner, fed only a vegetarian meal, and not given antibiotics or hormones. And of course, it is available at Trader Joe's!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It smells and tastes like Fall!

We came home this afternoon in the rain...and I love it!  We stopped off at Mollie Stone's for a Duraflame log (yes, probably not the best place to buy single Duraflame logs) to celebrate the season. 
This is their newest log: extra crackle and "more robust flames"
We walked into the store at the hot soup entrance and were instantly tempted by the wonderful smells of a fall meal (and at 4:15pm, it's easy to be tempted by everything at Mollie's)....but at $5 a pint, I decided to make my own.

eat -em cold in salads or hot in soups
 Once home, (after backing into a decorative rock in the parking lot and counting down from 10 100 to calm down) we quickly got the log into the fireplace and headed to the kitchen to figure out dinner. I haven't been to the grocery store in a while, so I needed to be creative with my soup. I started with sauteing an onion and 5 cloves of garlic in olive oil (in my stock pot)& cooked about 7 minutes. Added 5 stalks of chopped celery. Cooked about 4 minutes. Added maybe 1 1/4 of chopped fresh tomatoes and a box of Trader Joe's steamed lentils (in the refrigerator section).

great as a side dish or in soups
 Then I poured in about 5 cups of broth (half veggie, half chicken). Then I added about 2/3 the bag of Trader Joe's Harvest Blend Grains (couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans, and red quinoa). I cut about 10 sprigs of thyme from my window herb garden and added lots of salt and pepper. Let it all simmer with the lid on for about a half hour while we worked on the next fall yum yum: pumpkin muffins!

Lentil soup, as good as Mollie's, with 15 min. prep and in-house ingredients.

add 2 eggs, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup oil
(or apple sauce instead of oil)
The Pumpkin Muffin mix from Trader Joe's is SO good!  I love it cause it doesn't come with nuts already in it, you can chose to add them or not.  One box makes about 15-ish muffins. 
Now it smells and tastes like fall in my house!

Buy yourself several boxes, they are GONE after Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What I've been up to: Knitting and furniture painting

I love sewing. I'd probably sew all the time if I could. But one problem with sewing, especially in my house, is all the set-up/clean-up involved since I don't have a designated craft room. Also, I can't bring my sewing projects with me, to work on anywhere, or for little 5 minute moments of free time. 
So, I decided to teach myself to knit. 
I was at the fabric store the other day, buying fabric to line the drawers of my girls' new dresser (see below) and while there, I wandered into the yarn aisle and decided today is the day I will learn how to knit.  I saw a woman shopping for yarn and asked her if she knew how to knit.  Yes!  I told her that I would like to learn and asked her if she could tell me which needles a beginner should use. 
Lesson 1: Needle size depends on the yarn you use. 
So first I  needed to pick my yarn.  She suggested something not too thin and not 100% polyester (as it can be rough on your fingers).  I also needed to pick what I want to make so I can chose the yarn.  How about a scarf, that's easy, right?  I chose "Barley", a nice brown color, in a blend of lamb's wool and acrylic.  Then she showed me how to look on the back of the yarn to figure out which size needles I'll need.

The number "13" in the upper left corner of the left purple section is the American measurement size of the needle this yarn requires.  The "9mm" is the metric measurement size.  The purple square on the right tells you which crochet needle to use...not sure how to read that!  And I'm also not sure what the 12R and the 9 STS  mean yet, though I'm sure a quick Google search would fix that.  But all I needed to know was the "13" and that's what I bought, needles that were size 13. 
That night I sat down and did a Google search for how-to-knit videos. I looked at a handful, but ultimately found two that I could easily follow. The first thing I learned is that there are two steps required to get started. 
First you have to "cast on"
which is your first row of stitches on one needle (are they called stitches when it's knitting?) I watched the  the video 3 times before being ready to give it a shot. I picked up the needles and yarn and was ready to go!
So you take the end of the, where's the end of the yarn?
Where is the end of the yarn?
I searched and searched. I can't find it! I had to do a Google search for "how to find the end of the yarn". 
Apparently I'm not the only one because there were several tutorials on Youtube for just that: How to

Whew, I found the end! Now I'm ready to cast on. Now,that wasn't so hard. The toughest part was the slip knot, well that and finding the end.
After you have finished casting on to one needle, you are ready to introduce the second needle...and now you are knitting! I liked the woman from the first video, so I followed another one of her videos to learn
Step 2: how to make a knit stitch.
I've worked on it for two nights and here's how far I've come:
I have a feeling I'll be working on this for a while. But it is just what I wanted...a very transportable, relaxing craft....doesn't require much thinking (well, scarves don't at least......I think when you get into socks and hats and sweaters and such, you have to do a bunch of stitch counting and keeping track of things)
Scarves are very mundane and easy...PERFECT!
Luckily, I have plenty of time to perfect my knitting skills, so I will be ready for hats and sweaters and blankets when my Grandchildren arrive!
Knitting has been my night craft these last few nights, but during the days I have to keep busy, too.  So the girls and I have been working on painting a new dresser for their room.  I scored a free dresser from Freecycle (along with Craigslist, one of my favorite sites) and originally intended it to go in my son's room.  But after bringing it home, I realized it was a bit girly and would look super cute in my girls' room.  Plus, a girl can never have too much storage for clothes, can she?  I'm painting it the same color white as their other painted dresser and as their wainscoting: White Dove, Benjamin Moore. I bought their first dresser from this 2nd hand store in Martinez. The owner re-finishes and paints furniture any color you like.  So I chose to have him paint it to match the wainscoting and also have it distressed a bit, a little "shabby-chic" looking.  I love it! 
I brought home this free dresser and decided it would go to my girls. I will try to copy the look of the dresser they have now.  I'm almost done with it, but not quite ready for the final before/after here's a little sneak peak!
It came to me already sanded!
My little painters hard at work. 
Stayed tuned for the reveal!
Go Giants

Monday, October 18, 2010

Menu Monday

This week I did a few Rachel Ray meals from her weekly menu planer.  She has a new feature on her grocery list that allows you to pick which of the 7 meals you'd like to make and it will give you a grocery list for only the ingredients needed for those dinners.  So I picked 4 meals and it made me a shopping list in seconds, with everything I need to make 4 dinners; I printed it out and headed to Trader Joe's...where I found everything I needed.

Monday: Chicken in a Pot with Garlic(Rachel Ray)

One 4 1/2-pound chicken
2 halved lemons
35 unpeeled cloves garlic
4 chopped sprigs rosemary
4 slices crusty bread

Preheat the oven to 325°.
In a large dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add one 4½-pound chicken, breast side down, and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Turn, then squeeze 2 halved lemons over the bird before stuffing into the cavity; drizzle 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil on top and season with salt and pepper. Cover and roast for 30 minutes. Scatter 35 unpeeled cloves garlic and 4 chopped sprigs rosemary around the chicken, cover and roast for 30 minutes more. Uncover the pot, increase the oven temperature to 375° and roast until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a knife, about 25 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter; using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to the platter as well. Dip 4 slices crusty bread into the pan juices, then toast until crisp. Serve with the chicken and roasted garlic.

Tuesday: Out!  Baja Fresh
With DH out for the evening and a late soccer practice, we went out for burritos!

Wednesday: Gnocchi with Butternut Squash Sauce

To Go

Sauce: Costco Gnocchi: Trader Joe's

I was babysitting tonight, so I went with something easy. I served my kids and then brought food to the kids I babysat. I served it with some green beans.

Thursday: Orange Pork with Roasted Beets Salad  (Rachel Ray) 

1 1/2 pounds medium beets, trimmed (I bought pre-steamed/peeled beets from TJs)
5 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons vegetable oil salt and pepper
2 bone-in pork chops (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2/3 head red-leaf lettuce, torn
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
I added crumbled feta on top

Preheat the oven to 400°.
Wrap the beets in foil and roast until fork-tender, about 45 minutes; let cool slightly. Using your fingers, peel the beets under running water.  I got to skip this step since I bought pre-steamed/peeled!
Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the orange juice, vinegar and mustard. Slowly whisk in the oil; season with salt and pepper. Place the pork chops and half of the orange vinaigrette in a resealable plastic bag and marinate for 1 hour.
Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Add the pork chops and grill, turning once, until just cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Let rest slightly, remove the bones and thinly slice. 4. Meanwhile, halve the beets lengthwise, then slice crosswise 1/4 inch thick. In a medium bowl, toss the beets with half of the remaining vinaigrette. In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with the remaining vinaigrette. Divide the lettuce among 4 plates and top with the pork and beets. Sprinkle with the almonds.

 Friday: Zucchini Onion Pizza (Rachel Ray)

2 pounds grated zucchini

1 finely chopped onion
1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1/2 cup grated asiago cheese
1 pound prepared pizza dough

I heart pizza!

Position an inverted baking sheet (I used a pizza stone) in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 450°. Toss 2 pounds grated zucchini with 3/4 teaspoon salt in a colander. Let stand for 20 minutes, then squeeze dry. In a large skillet, cook the zucchini and 1 finely chopped onion in 1 tablespoon extra- virgin olive oil until softened, about 7 minutes; transfer to a large bowl, season with pepper and freeze for 15 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup (I used about 3/4 cup of each cheese) each grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese and grated cheese. Divide 1 pound (I used 2 Trader Joe's pizza dough packages, 1 pound each) prepared pizza dough in half. On a parchment-lined (I used parchment to cook my dough for about 10 minutes before putting toppings on) rimless or inverted baking sheet, stretch out 1 piece of dough to a 12-inch round whatever shape you end up with; brush with extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle half of the zucchini mixture on top (I added bacon, too!) leaving a 1/2 inch border, and slide onto the hot baking sheet. Bake until golden-brown, 12 to 15 minutes (I bake for about 10 since I already baked the crust). Repeat with 2nd pizza.

And I just had to share these!  My friend, Erin, brought these over to share with the kids at playschool this week.  Our theme was spiders, how cute are these?

Saturday: Trader Joe's Asian Trio

We went on a family bike ride and realized at 6:15pm as we were passing Trader Joe's that we were going to get home at 6:30 with 3 hungry kids and no food on the table.  So we popped into TJ's and picked up some fast and easy things: "Bool Kogi" marinated shortribs, frozen vegetable fried rice, and frozen vegetable goya (pot stickers).  The shortribs BBQ up in a few short minutes, the rice and goya cook up in a little olive oil in a few minutes as well.  A little Asian meal on the table in under 10 minutes.
Sunday: Raviolis, Tortellini, Broccoli
Another busy day, with dinner creeping up on me waaaay too fast.  What's fast?  Made 1 package of raviolis and 1 package of tortellini (it was all I had of each!) and cooked up some broccoli.  The broccoli always gets gobbled down fast when I cook it like this:  TONS of olive oil in frying pan, cook broccoli on med-low for 15-20 minutes, sprinkle with salt.  No pic tonight, sorry.

Monday:  Cheesy Corn and Corn Chip Salad (Rachel Ray)


2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded (I used spinach)
8 ears corn, cooked, kernels sliced off the cob (I used a package of TJ's organic sweet frozen corn)
2 red or orange bell peppers, chopped
2 chopped jalapeƱo chiles (skipped -em this time)
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley (cilantro!)
Salt and pepper
3 cups corn chips (Rachel suggests Fritos, but I suggest TJ's organic corn chips, SO GOOD!  DH thought they were Fritos until he saw me pull the bag out for a photo op)
Try -um

In a large bowl, mix the cheese, lettuce, corn, bell peppers, jalapeƱos, onion, mayonnaise and cilantro; season with salt and pepper. Put into individual plastic serving containers, cover with a lid and refrigerate for up to 2 days. (I added chopped chicken)  Just before serving, top the salad with the corn chips.

As many of my meals do, this meal got a huge groan from my 6 year old as I served it.  As he started to use the chips as scoopers and actually tasted it, he loved it!  It was also a hit for the younger crowd as well.  The chip scooping was super exciting.  And I will note, it took about 10 minutes total to prepare. This we'll for sure be having again soon.  I wonder if it will taste as good with Greek yogurt instead of the mayo?
Wow, I can't believe it's Monday already.  I didn't even finish my Rachel Ray meals for the week!  Stay tuned for the final meal of that series, Mini Meatloaves Smothered with Onions, tomorrow.