Monday, November 16, 2015

New Math?

So Adam is working on double digit addition (math is easy for that kid...he's totally going to be an engineer...he's a geeky loner who rocks at math...stereotypical engineer!).  And a lot of the tricks they are teaching him I don't disagree with...we learn to do mental arithmetic with them, but then I got this worksheet back.  Again I get the point of the tricks....but the kid can add.  So what if he doesn't rewrite it their this looks like his teacher agrees with me, but still....

Working on...

I made this last week with a bunch of broccoli stems...a good use of them! I feel this still needs some work, so I plan to try again, this time with some tweaks. I also made this and want to work on it.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Andrew at Hockey Practice

Some video of Andrew at hockey practice.

BBQ Chicken Sliders

Ray LOVED these.  I think they need some coleslaw to go on top....but I only make one kind.  My weird Polish stuff.  But I have been converted to coleslaw on BBQ sandwiches and that is usually the "normal" stuff, so I might have to try my hand at it here in the future!

BBQ Chicken Sliders
Modified from Taste of Home

1 1/2 quarts water
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp liquid smoke
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme

2 lbs chicken
1/3 cup liquid smoke
1 1/2 cups hickey smoke-flavored BBQ sauce (I didn't measure this....I just added until it looked and tasted right)
slider buns
In large bowl, mix the brine ingredients, stirring to dissolve the brown sugar.  Reserve 1 cup of brine for cooking chicken.  Cover and refrigerate.  Place chicken in container and add brine.  Seal and refrigerate for 18-24 hours.  They used a plastic bag and took out the air and whatnot...I just put this into a Tupperware. 

Remove chicken from brine and put in crockpot.  Discard brine.  Add reserved 1 cup of brine and 1/3 cup liquid smoke to chicken. Cook in crock pot on low for 4-5 hours or until chicken is tender. 

Remove chicken and discard cooking juices.  Shred chicken with two forks and return to crockpot.  Stir in BBQ sauce and heat through.  Serve on buns.

Serves 8.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Works in Progress

I really like this recipe, but it needs tweaking.  Now Ray didn't like it...but that's not a shock given he doesn't like cream soups.  I LOVE them.  My issue is it needs more rice and less sour cream. I plan to switch out most, if not all, of the sour cream for something else next time. I could taste the sour cream, which I didn't like. 

Good, but....

So I made this recipe like two weeks ago.  Ray actually liked it more than I did, which was a bit of shock to me, based on the recipe and who I thought would like it. The problem?  The chicken was still raw in parts...and I CHECKED thoroughly before serving.  So my issue is that I think this will prove very hard to get completely cooked without burning parts of it.  And well, raw chicken is BAD.  So not sure if I'll even bother to try again.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

My crazy kids.....

This year's school pictures will make EXCELLENT blackmail later in life...but honestly...this is them!

Seward Trip

Ray and I took the train to Seward over Labor Day.  This was a super fun trip (despite the fact the train left Anchorage ridiculously early and got back very LONG day!).  I love that Seward is a walking town and we able to walk all over town.  We got into town, walked downtown for lunch, then went to the local museum.  We then walked the beach back to town and checked out stores and whatnot before the train ride back to Anchorage.  The train ride itself is also just gorgeous! 
So we saw SO many jellyfish, but in the water and dead on the beach. I was a little obsessed. We actually went to the NPS and asked about them - it was just the right time for them. 
This is the lion's mane jellyfish

The clear white one here is the moon jellyfish - these where the two main ones we were seeing

Train ride!

So we actually got off at Moose Pass and they bussed us into Seward because the last bridge was flooded.  There is no train station....just an empty lot! 
If you are interested in the games we took and played, check out this post.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Termination Dust

It is coming! We even got some snow here one day.

Grandma's Halloween Game

The boys playing Grandma's Halloween game...she's had this same game since I was a kid! Sitting on the same table...not much changes in my parents' house!

State Fair

I actually went to the Fair three times...really a record for me!  I had to work one day and then Ray and I went to see the Bellamy Brothers in concert with my brother and sister-in-law. I loved it....Ray tolerated it.   But it was fun to do it together!
I also took the boys to the Fair with  my parents. That's my father doing the Bumper Cars with Adam.  Andrew declined to do that one.  I was bad and the boys skipped school to go.  It was just too hard to try to the there over the weekends, but this is something they'll only enjoy for a short time.  We had gorgeous weather!  This was a short week anyway and then Andrew got then I felt really guilty as he missed a second day, but oh, well.  I am generally the stickler on attendance, but I just felt this was worth it. 

Cleaning the Roof

Ray was cleaning the roof....the boys saw the ladder and immediately turned into monkeys!

Class Prep

I've been working on adding some hands on activities to my classes.  The boys were helping me sort M&Ms for word problems (you get it right, you get to eat the candy!).


The bus now drops the boys off at our driveway, which will be really nice as the weather deteriorates!  They are the last off (they'd be the first on, hence why we take them...that is too much bus time if they went both ways). 


Hockey has taken over our lives, but on the bright side, I am getting in my running because I run while a kid is at practice.  Andrew is old enough this year that I can get him settled and do laps.  Andrew has not even started yet (he starts on the 19th) and I feel like I live there.....
Adam's first night of Mites

Friday, October 09, 2015

Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

I am working on getting more crock pot recipes and this was a great success. Don't know why I ever made chicken noodle soup on the stove....

Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
Modified from Betty Crocker

1 1/2 lbs chicken (I used chicken breasts, they used thighs)
1 lb carrots, diced
1 small onion, diced (they used fake....why?)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp celery flakes (you can use real celery, they did....but I never have it and I don't like buying it as I won't use it, so this is my solution.)
1 clove garlic, minced
32 oz chicken broth (I used chicken bouillon and water)
1 cup frozen peas (they used snow pea pods)
2 cups wide egg noodles, uncooked

Place everything but the peas and noodles in crock pot.   Cover and cook for 8-9 hours on low. 

After this time frame, pull out chicken and shred.  Remove to crock pot.  Stir in peas and noodles.  Increase to high.  Cover and cook for 20 more minutes or until noodles are done.  Remove bay leaf before serving.

Serves 6 (at least!)

Light Saber Battles

The boys have light sabers (or savers as Andrew says) they love....they fought Daddy so much with them, he had to go buy his own!  Check out the boys attacking each other!

Strawberry Rhubarb Bars

These are REALLY good.  A great way to use up rhubarb! I made a big pan and only had a few left at the end of the night.

Strawberry Rhubarb Bars
3 cups quick cooking oats
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cup butter
3 cups rhubarb, chopped (I used frozen and didn't even bother to thaw it)
2/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp ginger
4 cups strawberries, chopped (I just used frozen and didn't even thaw them)
1/2 tsp ginger

Preheat oven to 350.  Line 13 by 9 inch pan with foil.  Coat foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Stir the oats, flour and 1 1/2 cups sugar.  Using pastry blender, cut in butter until this resembles coarse crumbs.  Set aside 3 cups of oat mixture and mix in 1/2 tsp ginger (So they made a ginger decision was just to add extra ginger to topping). 

Press remaining oat mixture evenly into bottom of pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes.  (I doubled their original recipe, so I feel this needs a little longer, they just had 20 minutes.)
Meanwhile cook the filling.  Combine the rhubarb, 2/3 cup sugar, water and 1 tsp ginger.  Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly (since I started frozen, this took me longer).  Stir in strawberries.  I cooked for awhile since mine were frozen.  (They pulled out some for top...I did not...too much work....)  Spoon filling over top of cooked bottom.  Sprinkle with the remaining oat mixture you set aside earlier.  Press lightly into rhubarb filling. 
Bake for 35-40 minutes (again, I feel mine, at 35 minutes was a little underdone so I am going to cook longer).  Cool in pan on wire rack.  Life from pan with foil.  Pull foil away and then cut into bars.  (If you pull out topping, you'd add it here....again I didn't do this.)

Makes 30 bars (or so).   

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Biscotti Attempts

I have tried to make biscotti twice now (I don't actually like biscotti, but I think it will ship really well and I do a lot of overseas shipping hence this experiment).  Both were edible, but the second was definitely an improvement as there is a learning curve here. The shape does matter as does it being COMPLETELY done to get the right texture. My first batch (the pumpkin) were good, but not "crisp." I got the second batch crisp....definitely keep the logs small and cook completely.  Mine took longer than they said.

Pumpkin Pie Biscotti
Modified from Gimme Some Oven

3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup pumpkin
2 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp vanilla
2 tbsp butter
1 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, raw (they used nuts, I liked this better)
1/4 cup melted white chocolate, for dipping (optional...and I didn't do it)

Preheat to 350.  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice in large bowl.  Stir well.  In another bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs and vanilla.  Stir well.  Slowly add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture, until moistened.  This will be crumbly.

Melt butter and pumpkin seeds until browned (the seeds never did like nuts might, but I liked getting them all buttery).  Remove and cool.  Knead into the dough. 

Place dough on lightly floured surface and space into a log.  Place on cookie sheet (they greased, I use parchment), bake for 24 minutes and then cool for 15 minutes.  (Make sure this is completely cooked!)  Reduce oven to 300.

After cooling, cut into 1/2 inch pieces on diagonal.  Place on cookie sheet, cut side up.  Bake for 8 minutes and then flip and do 7 more minutes.  Make sure completely cooked and dry.  Cool completely.

Makes about a dozen biscotti. 
NOTE: I tried double this...I don't recommend that more because you need to keep the logs small and it is easier to do with small batches.
Modified from Land O Lakes
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp ginger
3/4 tsp cinnamon (so I was out of nutmeg, so in place of ALL these spices I used pumpkin pie spice, and then some extra ginger thrown in and this tasted right)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
2 eggs
3 tbsp molasses
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional...I didn't these)

Preheat to 350.  Combine butter, sugars and spices in large bowl.  Beat at medium speed, until well mixed.  Add eggs and beat until well mixed.  Add molasses, continue beating until well mixed.  Add flour and baking powder, beating at low speed until well mixed.  Stir in chips if desired.
Divide dough in half (it will be sticky), shape each loaf into foot long logs on lightly floured surface (the flour is important to deal with stickiness).  Place logs 3 inches apart and flatten slightly (I used parchment versus greasing).  The shape and size do matter in getting them to cook thoroughly. 

Bake for 22-25 minutes or until tops are cracked and golden brown.  You really want this cooked all the way through so make sure it is completely cooked, hence the cracking.  Remove from oven, cool 15 minutes.  Reduce oven to 325. 

Cut logs into 1/2 inch diagonal slices with serrated knife.  Place, cut side down, on ungreased cookie sheets.  Return to oven.  Bake 9 minutes and then turn slices.  Bake another 5-7 minutes or until dry and crisp (again this is for the right texture so make sure it completely dried out).  Cool completely.

Can coat with candy coating (I didn't).

Makes 3 dozen.