- Posts for tasty tuesday tag
We Partied Like It's 1999 | Our Prairie Nest
We Partied Like It’s 1999 (2019 edition)

I have never been “a New Year’s Eve person.” Our normal thing was to stay up until midnight – if possible – and play Vigilante 8 on the Nintendo 64. It just sort of became our thing. Other than that, I’d get all worked up about writing out goals. Resolutions, rarely, but goals, always. That was enough for me, because I’m more of an action-oriented person than a “let’s celebrate the change of the Gregorian calendar!” sort of gal.

To me, the celebration was in making an action plan for productivity. Super exciting, I know. This year, I decided to give actual celebrating a try. I’ve been giving more attention to personal and family time lately, especially in light of various events in the fall of 2019. I’m all about making every moment count and choosing the path that’s right for me and my family.

So, without any further (somewhat heavy) ado, I give you our New Year’s Eve 2019!

We started off with Countdown Bags which I learned about by chance. When I decided to put in the effort to make New Year’s fun, while still relaxing at home, I turned to Google for ideas. Countdown Bags sounded like exactly what I wanted – something I could do inexpensively, that would give us something to look forward to hour after hour, while trying to reach that magical midnight hour.

Disclaimer: I am not a creative person when it comes to crafts and things to do with and for children. It’s just not in me. But I know what I like to look at and do, and I can do pretty much anything if there are instructions or lists of suggestions. So I started with pretty chalkboard New Year’s printables (you’ll see them below) from Catch My Party and the nifty clocks from The Idea Room.

As for what went into the bags, I hit up the dollar store and grocery store for:

  • Easy, pre-packaged crafts
  • A small activity book
  • Small toys
  • Noisemakers
  • Photo booth props
  • Happy New Year headbands
  • A shiny silver pen
  • Fortune cookies
  • Hershey Kisses
  • Other assorted candy

There were other things I wanted to include, but forgot, like slap bracelets and glow necklaces. But, all in all, I kept the purchases to about $20 for 8 fun surprise bags that kept my family curious about what they would find next. I used index cards to write a note in each bag, because some had activities instead of or along with treats.

We started at 5 p.m. by opening the first bag, which had a little activity book to keep my daughter busy while my husband and I made tacos. As a side note, I love the idea of tacos for New Year’s Eve! They’re fun and easy to make, and leave plenty of room for snacky foods, too. Normally, we’d pair them with rice, but we didn’t this time. We decided just the tacos were enough, because I put out some party food after dinner. I think the baby carrots, celery, broccoli, baguette, cheese, crackers, dressing, and sparkling grape juice cost about $20, as well. And this is only a small portion of it. Why spend $20 on a premade, store-bought platter when you can just do it yourself? We had fun walking by the table and picking up munchies throughout the night. I also nagged everyone to keep hydrating with plenty of water. Best way to stay awake and energized!

While my husband was working on the tacos and I had time to spare before putting together the lettuce, cheese, olives, and taco sauce, we put on some 90s music and tried some silly selfies.

Yeah, I’m not wearing makeup, even though I worked a normal day, and I have no idea where my daughter got the random lei that you see me wearing, but who cares? We were home doing our own thing and the party was just beginning.

It was fun to open bag after bag, hour after hour, and see my family’s reactions. They were delighted to find each and every item, especially the photo booth props. I had no idea my husband could be such a ham!

My daughter was all about stroking her new mustache. Well, she’s about to turn 7 a few days after New Year’s, so I guess it was time she grew one! Also, if you like my shirt, I bought it at The Jean Marie Boutique.

We got a kick out of our fortune cookies. My daughter’s fortune was especially appropriate.

I figured everyone would be getting tired by 9 p.m., so that was when we opened the bag that instructed us to choose a family game. It could be anything – good old fashioned charades, Mario Party, Uno. We chose Forbidden Island and it seemed like “Waters Rise” cards were just attracted to me last night. So we lost, but it was fun, as always!

When midnight rolled around, we were all somehow still awake. I don’t know if it was dancing around the house to 90s music from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. that did it, laughing until we cried with the photo props, or all the snacking. But we wore our Happy New Year headbands, blew our noisemakers, and looked outside to see if we could spot the random fireworks people were setting off.

We fell into bed pretty grateful that the time had come. Was it the most “productive” New Year’s Eve of goal-setting and planning? No. Was it fun? Oh, yeah. I would definitely do it all again.

Corn and Black Bean Burritos | Our Prairie Nest
Corn & Black Bean Burritos

When it comes to food, I’m a by-the-book person. I don’t experiment with recipes much, if at all, but I decided to try that tonight and my daughter liked it so much, she finished her dinner before the rest of us! In fact, I didn’t expect this to taste so much better than the usual recipe I go by from a book (sorry, book!), so I didn’t take pictures of the food. Just go with it. 😉

Corn & Black Bean Burritos

You need:

1 cup frozen corn

1 can black beans

1/4 cup diced green pepper

1/4 cup diced onion

Chili powder (to taste)

1 tbsp olive oil

Up to 9 flour tortillas (or as many as you want for now; you can always save the rest for later)


  1. Heat corn in microwave for 5 minutes. Drain black beans. Rinse, if desired. Meanwhile, warm olive oil in small frying pan (we use cast iron) over medium heat.
  2. Add diced onion and pepper to oil, and stir while sautéing, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add black beans to frying pan and sprinkle chili powder to taste (I like to do a layer over the entire pan). Stir beans, onions, and peppers together, sautéing for a few minutes.
  4. Drain corn and add to frying pan. Add more chili powder, if desired. Stir vegetables together.
  5. Prepare flour tortillas either by heating them up in the microwave for 10 seconds or by heating for 30-60 seconds (or until browned) on each side in a dry, ungreased skillet (this is the tastier way to do it!).
  6. Spoon mix into tortillas, add cheese and anything else you want (sour cream is great on these), and eat!

If you’re cooking for more than 2 people, it helps to have a second person to warm the tortillas and pass them to you for filling or vice versa as they’re ready, so everything doesn’t sit out and get cold.

Rice makes a great side dish with this. I stock up on rice sides whenever they’re on sale for something easy to make while I’m doing a more involved recipe. If you don’t like white or red onions, scallions would also be delicious. This is a super light, vegetarian (but not vegan) meal with a lot of flavor for very little effort and money.

Confetti Cake Batter Cookies | Our Prairie Nest
Cookies This Week

While the pretzels I tried to do two weeks ago turned out to be far more work than I’d anticipated, this week’s baking was a breeze. We tried these super easy Confetti Cake Batter Cookies. This is an easy recipe that you can knock out quickly. Since you’re using a box of cake mix instead of flour, sugar, and all that jazz, it’s not messy, either.

It took 3 cookie sheets to do all the cookies and the recipe is correct that the yield is about 30. They’re soft and fluffy, like grocery store bakery cookies. This was my first time using cake mix for a cookie recipe and I’ll do it again.

These cookies are from last Monday, because yesterday we went to the zoo with a friend. And, yes, that was fun, too! Though I think the cookies lasted longer than the zoo trip. 😉

Tasty Tuesday - Not Pretzels | Our Prairie Nest
Pretzel Fail

Since I’ve implemented this baking-every-Monday idea, I’ve had approximately one success and one failure. For fans of baseball in Boston in the mid-90s, this is about the time we’d accept that the Red Sox had hit that mid-season slump from which there was no return. In fact, when we went to games, I’d sit there and say, “Look – Stonehenge!” from an old joke that goes like this:

Defensively the Red Sox are a lot like Stonehenge. They are old, they don’t move, and no one is certain why they are positioned the way they are. — Dan Shaughnessy

Where was I? Oh yeah pretzels.

I decided to try baking them and let me tell you – it’s hard! I kneaded the heck out of the dough (we don’t own a mixer) and it rose really well. But when it came to rolling it out into long ropes, the dough kept pulling back. It didn’t want to stay ropey and tying the actual shape was tricky. So I gave up, rolled all the dough back together, and made peasant bread.

On the upside, the bread came out great and went perfectly with some homemade creamy tomato soup my husband made for dinner.

Do I recommend making pretzels? Maybe.  The dough might come out less springy if you knead or longer or have a mixer to do the work. Will I try it again? No. The kids weren’t jazzed enough about them, anyway. But they’re excited about the idea of making cookies next week…