Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Generations of Faith

With Adam entering kindergarten this year, we are also starting the formal Church education programs as well.  Our Church does what is called "generations of faith" rather than traditional CCD. It meets once a month, for 3 hours, and includes a family meal and an adult education class.  So far, we are very happy with the experience. Both boys seemed to enjoy it (Andrew goes to child care and was playing with the other kids before I even left the room...obviously just devastated I was leaving him...) and we enjoyed the adult class.  Ray and I both really like our priest, which for Ray is a big deal.  I really liked how he approached the class, as did Ray (and it is much harder to please Ray than me!).  We did come home with homework, which Ray grouched over (said he'd take it out on his students!) a little, but I think we'll enjoy even that. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Brownie Pan

I really like the Pampered Chef brownie pan...because I can make lots of other cool things in it!  I actually have a second one, which isn't PC, and it is deeper and came with a lid that I use as well.  I really don't see a huge difference.  The PC one is shallower for each well, but it really depends on what you are doing.  I found a great site with a ton of recipes on it.  I've been trying a lot of them, as I really like the individual portions for the kids. And, plus it helps control my portion control as well!

I seriously LOVE this recipe. I like it better than any other lasagna recipe I have....really!   And it is SO easy!

Mini Lasagnas
Modified from Pampered Chef
 
1 lb hamburger (or Italian sausage, I've done both)
1 (15 oz) container ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
Italian seasoning
2 jars spaghetti sauce
Cheese (I usually use my store Italian cheese blend - you can use whatever you want, including just mozzarella)    
 
Brown your hamburger. Put a small spoonful of sauce in the bottom of each brownie pan well (so each has 12 little wells in it).   Shake pan to spread sauce around.

Break apart the lasagna noodles. Chances are, you will only get one perfect square out of each noodle, but don't throw away the broken pieces! You can still use them! Just piece them together to make a layer!

Place a layer of broken noodles on top of the sauce. Then add a small amount of burger. Mix the egg, ricotta, and Italian seasoning. Place a dollop of mixture on top of burger. Top with another layer of noodle.

Press down on the top layer of noodle. You need to have enough space to put another layer of sauce. The no-boil noodles require the moisture of the sauce so you don't want to skimp on it! Fill the well with sauce.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, until the noodles are soft. Top with cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes to melt the cheese.
 
This makes 2 pans worth (12 per pan).
 
This aren't really a main dish, they are more an appetizer to me, but they are delicious and easy and a great throw together app to share at a party!  You can really use anything you have!
Modified from Pampered Chef
 
3 whole wheat tortillas, cut into fourths (they said brown rice....no idea what that is)
12 small spoonful's of pizza sauce (really you don't need a ton)
handful of pepperoni, chopped up (or cooked sausage or veggies)
handful of Italian cheese (or just mozzarella)
 
Preheat to 325.  Use a brownie pan and put tortilla in each well (so you should be taking 12 at a time).  Then put a little sauce on each piece.  Then put whatever topping you want on each.  I've done chopped up pepperoni (entire pieces of pepperoni are too greasy in my opinion), cooked Italian sausage, as well as onion/red pepper.  Whatever you like on pizza, just don't put too much on it as each should be a bit or two only.  Put a pinch of cheese on top of each.
 
Cook for about 8 minutes or until tortilla is as crispy as you want.

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

I did this while my mother was here (the strawberries were from when I made jam, I just froze them at that point) and it was a great success.

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
Modified from Taste of Home
 
2 cups half and half, divided
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 pkg (8 oz each, so a total of 12 oz for this recipe) cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp grated lemon peel (I just used one lemon for this and the above part)
8 oz frozen unsweetened strawberries, thawed and sliced
 
In large saucepan, heat the half and half to 175 and stir in sugar.  Whisk a small amount of hot liquid with eggs to temper, then mix into the full mixture.  Cook and stir over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is at least 160 and coats the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat and cool.  Stir in whipping cream and vanilla.  Refrigerate, covered, overnight or until cooled.
 
In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, lemon juice and peel until blended.  Gradually beat in custard mixture.  Stir in strawberries. 
 
Fill ice cream maker and process according to manufacturers' instructions.  Freeze finished mixture before serving.
 
Makes 1 1/2 quarts (I halved this recipe as above because I didn't see the point of running two batches, which would be have been required of the entire recipe).

Pasta Salads

I liked pasta salad, but I'm kind of picky as I'm not a huge mayo fan.  About the only place I use it is in tuna.  So I saw a list of pasta salads and decided to try a few.  First one was okay (in my opinion), but Ray hated it. I didn't like it enough to make him eat it again so it won't reappear.  It was definitely better the second day, so if you want to try it, my recommendation is make it the night before you want to serve it.  The second one was again okay, but not great. I think regular tuna salad is just as good, easier, plus then I can make just plain tuna for Ray when I first make it, which he prefers.  So two recipes, no real keepers, although neither were inedible. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sweet Potato Chips

The microwave chip maker from Pampered Chef - seriously works and is seriously cool!  I did sweet potato chips and they were yummy plus they use NO OIL!!!  So all you use is salt (or any type of seasoning) plus whatever veggie you want (as you can tell I did sweet potatoes here).  Slice, then microwave until crispy!  If you visit their website, it gives times on various veggies, but honestly I had to do the sweet potatoes much longer, so I really think just start there and go until you are happy with crispiness. 

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

The preschool Adam used to go sells cookies dough as a fund-raiser. While I don't have to sell it anymore, I still buy some from a friend whose son is still there.  I had this double PB choc chip cookie dough and when Ray ate them, he fell in love and tells me he wants more....and I don't have a recipe as I didn't make the dough!  So here's the recipe....these are his current favorite!  You can, of course, make this with the chips and then they are just regular PB cookies.  They are my Grandma's recipe. 

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Modified from Grandma Cottle
 
1 cup margarine (do not use butter!)
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups four
2 tsp baking soda
4 tsp salt (you might think this is a lot of salt....I actually did this with less salt (so like only 1 tsp here).....and it worked fine, but Ray said that this recipe was better with the salt)
1 (12 oz) pkg of peanut butter/chocolate chips (Tollhouse sells a mixed bag, but you can also just buy bags of each and mix)
 
Preheat to 375.
 
Mix first 6 ingredients in large bowl.  Mix (or sift) next three in separate bowl.  Add in parts to the wet ingredients until thoroughly incorporated.  Mix in chips.  Drop by teaspoonful onto baking sheet.  Flatten with fork.  Make for 10-15 minutes (it takes me 15 minutes, but everyone knows I make big cookies).
 
Makes 3-4 dozen cookies.

Andrew's Speech

Andrew is on a IEP for speech therapy for preschool next fall and did speech all summer. He's improved SO MUCH.  Listen to the final consonant in "helmet" here! He's made HUGE strides in his speech - he is so much clearer and really starting to get that he needs to finish his words.

Cleveland Zoo

My friend Samantha and I took the boys to the Cleveland Zoo yesterday. I've been to the Akron Zoo a lot (we are even members), just haven't been up to the Cleveland one.  The Cleveland one is HUGE (especially compared to Akron!) and much more commercialized (seriously, they are selling something on every corner!). But we had a good time and only saw a small part of it.  Their tram system is....odd.....certain trams only go certain places and only one was running.  We were also not impressed by where we ate lunch (Treetop CafĂ©). The food was so-so and overpriced (which, yes, I expected and get, but then I also expect decent food!) plus the staff was atrocious.  It was staffed by some of the stupidest and laziest people I've yet to meet.  Definitely won't be back to eat there!   We'll try the food court next time....McDs and Pizza Hut sound better than THAT.....
Feeding a giraffe - this was really cool ($2/piece of lettuce, but well, it is feeding a giraffe!) - that tongue is awesome!  Both boys did it and loved it.   I've never realized just how HUGE they are as I've never seen a "real" one plus how AWKARD they are.  So cool!

This is why we went now....they've had these animatronic dinosaurs for awhile, but we haven't made it up and it closes on the 15th of September.  Seriously awesome (you had to pay separately to see them....kind of annoying)!  I loved how they had them "hiding" in the grass/trees and they all moved"(a lot!) and made noises.  Two even "spit" at you!  Andrew just adored that
Look at the size of T-rex!  Did you know they had hollow bones?

"Digging" for bones - they had like 5 of these, which the boys enjoyed! 


All three boys

Adam climbing up the playground climbing wall!

Soccer

 
Adam is doing his first league soccer.  This has been a mess so far. The coach is great and the practices are right at his level, but the administration of this league (which we didn't even realize was a league!) has been horrible! And it is the city!  It isn't the coach's fault - she has no control of it, but seriously...not sure if we'll be ever doing another city league!
 
Here are some videos of him:
Two

It is going to be a long semester....

Seriously not looking forward to this fall semester. First, I'm fairly nervous over Adam starting kindergarten - how can my baby survive all day without me?  I know he'll do fine....logically.....anyway, Andrew also start half day preschool 4 days a week. Don't know what I'll do with time to myself each day!  But it is a good thing....because I'm teaching a full slate of classes and Ray's schedule is awful, so he'll be gone a lot - including nights twice a week.  Plus he's getting sent out of town a couple of times....just the making of a long semester. And the issues with Ray shouldn't have happened - the absolute ridiculousness of Kent State strikes again.  Ray also needs to be getting all his ducks in the row this term and get his research off the ground ASAP for his dissertation. I'm also doing research in two of my classes, so I have a feeling December can't come quick enough!  Wish us luck!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ducks

This is downtown Cleveland - and dusks in a row!

My cute little Andrew



Andrew was moving rocks...you can see where it put them....I guess he knew....




 
 
 
 

Jennie

Watching Ghostbusters at the Drive In

New glasses

Playing Putt Putt


The boys are playing putt putt!
Adam working on his skills
 

Pickles

These are Polish Dill pickles - my father wanted them.  We'll see how they turn out!

Paint Job

Kitchen and halls - I did them a shade off the living room.




Recent Cards





This is a placecard - I want to do a like one for Thanksgiving



Campfire

Bonfire in the backyard!

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Sliders

Ray wanted me to do sliders.  He loved these!  My one comment is that there was a lot of liquid (fat and stuff) in each brownie cavity after I finished - I just dumped it out.  The burgers were still moist thanks to the onion/Worcestershire sauce.  I used very lean beef (92%), so I think it was a combination of factoring, including the liquids in the burgers. 

Sliders
Modified from The Book of Burger
 
2 lbs hamburger
3-4 tbsp. grated onion
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. grill seasoning
Slider buns
 
Mix first four ingredients.  Put in a brownie pan.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. 
 
Serve on slider buns.

Uncle Rod

My Uncle Rod died last night. He had a long fight with cancer and beat their odds by a long shot.  Say a prayer for his family.  He was always so full of life and fun.  I always remember our yearly family picnics at his house! 

Cool Link

I found this site on US News as I've been working on prepping a course I'm teaching and found this.  I just love all their articles - they are short and to the point!  If you are student, you should read these!

Monday, August 05, 2013

Trip Pictures

Andrew got Great!


Lounging at the pool!



Campfire fun!

Some bonding time!

Ft. Myers

Vincent is stationed with the Old Guard at Ft. Myers, so we toured that as well. 
Vincent giving Andrew a ride!







Learning about the horse barn!