Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chuck Wagon Chili

Is it a chili? Is it a steamer? Is it Chuck Norris? None of the above. And All of the above. 

It has beans and ground beef like a chili. So it is a chili. But its not really because...
It is more like a steamer (In south central PA, that is what we call a sloppy joe), because it is meaty, not so much soupy like a chili can be. It is the texture of a thick, meaty sloppy joe.  It is like Chuck Norris cause it is just that AWESOME!  :)  Whatever you call it, whatever you classify it as... it is good and you should make it!

1/2 pound bacon cut into pieces
3 pounds ground beef (I used 93/7)
2 finely chopped onions (I used 1 small and one large)
1 cup finely chopped celery
2 beef bullion cubes (I didn't have bullion so I used omitted the water and used 2/3 cup beef stock)
2/3 cups boiling water
1.5 cups of ketchup
3 TBSP Mustard
1.5 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 -29oz can molasses style Baked Beans
3 TBSP Brown Sugar

Preheat oven to 375.
In a Dutch oven (or large, heavy oven safe pot) fry bacon until crisp, set aside.
Drain most of the fat.
Cook and stir beef, onion, celery until brown and tender (over medium heat).
Dissolve bullion in boiling water.
Add to meat mixture along with all other ingredients including bacon.
bake one hour and 15 minutes with lid off. 

I served mine with a lettuce bed and yellow pepper, sour cream, tortilla chips and Homestyle Grands biscuits. It was divine. And it makes a ton.  

 See the spoon in the corner where I stole a bite. Yeah, that's how I roll.

So good! 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Need I say it again? 
Green is my favorite color. 
I will eat anything Green
Except for Jello. 
( I don't know what to do with it. Chew? Liquify? Swallow whole?)
And I don't really do pudding. 
So no pistachio pudding for me.
But Green veggies? 
I am in!
My favorites? 
Brussel Sprouts and Asparagus. 
Here are some yummy brussel sprouts! Enjoy!

I usually just boil the heck out of my brussel sprouts with a chicken bullion cube. I love them like that. I don't even care if I over boil and they are mushy. I just love those little baby cabbages. (Well, that is what they look like at least.) 
Once in a while, I will roast the sprouts. If I feel like cutting them up and waiting for them to roast. It totally changes the flavor. It gives it a nutty flavor. Really good and not mushy :)

Some FRESH brussel sprouts
Some oil (EVOO or canola)
Salt and Pepper
onion- (optional)
slivered almonds (optional)

Cut brussel sprouts in half lengthwise. (I also cut the bottom off, but you don't have to)
Throw on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil. 
Sprinkle with S&P
You can add thick slices of onions if you want. 
Place in preheated oven at 400 degrees. Give the sprouts a stir every 8 minutes. So they roast evenly. 
Add almonds if you desire halfway through ( about the 12 minute mark)
My sprouts are done after about 25 minutes. 
Green and good for you! Happy me! :) 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Preschool: Decorated Names

When learning to write our names in preschool, I think it is important to take into consideration that you can learn how to write it with more than just a crayon or pencil. So when I begin to teach the kiddos how to write their name, I do this project with them. Now if you have 27 students like me, then this can take a good bit of prep time. To figure out how many of each letter I needed, I typed each child's name into a Word (or in my case, Pages) document. I type all names in CAPS, one name per line. Like this:
etc.  Then I start going through the alphabet and deleting each letter as I counted them. So after counting the As, it would look like this.
Note how many of each letter you need. Cut them out on a die cutter in various colors, glue them onto sheets of paper. I had to use masking tape to make my sheets long enough.

Provide the kids with glue and a tray of glitter, tissue paper, colored sand, colored rice, pasta, etc and let them decorate their names.

Touch, Feely Names! :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Preschool: DIY Snow Globes

We make snow globes every year in preschool during our weather unit. I have always wanted to put the kiddos photos inside the globe. So I decided to give it a whirl. ( Get it whirl, like snow globes whirl around... haha... ok not that funny) 
Remember these cute snow photos we did? Well, I made doubles and had my parent helpers cut them out as well. :) Then I laminated the pictures with my Scotch laminator. It does a "hard" finish. Not flimsy. I kinda love it. You should check out Amazon and get one. I cut out around the photos, leaving a bit of an edge, so the pictures are well sealed. I collected large jars, mostly spaghetti sauce size, then I jammed the laminated photos inside. No need to secure them with any type of glue, mine kinda stayed put. Even if they didn't, they would look cute whirling around in there. 
We are working on name recognition and writing in preschool too! So I had these great letter beads from Discount School Supply. 

I had the kids look at their name tag and find the letters of their first name. Then put them in the jar. 
Then they added glitter and sequins! 
Now, you fill the jar with water. You can add a few drops of glycerin to the water to help the glitter float a little more slowly through the jar. I did not bother with that part this time. 
Make sure you have filled the jar to the brim with water so when it is turned upside down, the whole picture is underwater. 
NOTE: You could also put the picture in the jar right side up, so when you put the lid on, you would not have to turn it upside down to see everything correctly. Does that make sense? I could not do this with most of my jars, because they had this funky little bubbled glass around the top that distorted the picture. 
Dry the lids and rims of the jar well, add a bead of glue (either hot glue or a super glue) Screw the lids on being careful to get them threaded correctly. Let dry a few minutes, then Shake away! 
The pictures just don't do it justice! :)

We used these during closing circle while reading the book "Snow Dance". Every time we read the word "Snow" the kiddos would make it snow in their globes! 

Inspiration for laminating the photos came from this great site! Our Best Bites!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Black Magic Cake

Black Magic Cake

I found this recipe via pinterest. Anything with coffee and chocolate is at the top of my "Must Make" list. So I gave it a whirl today. Disclosure: I am picky about cake. I don't want anything to do with any kind of dry cake. This is not at all dry. Moist, light, yummy. It is a keeper. It will be my go-to chocolate cake recipe!

Here is where you can find the original recipe.
But I copied it for ya! :)

1 3/4 call purpose flour
2 csugar
3/4 ccocoa powder
2 tspbaking soda
1 tspbaking powder
1 tspsalt
1 cstrong black coffee, cooled
1 cbuttermilk
1/2 cvegetable oil
1 tspreal vanilla extract
1/2 cmargarine, softened
2 ozmelted unsweetened chocolate, cooled
3 cpowdered sugar
3 Tbspmilk
2 tspreal vanilla extract


 Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl or stand mixer.
 Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.
 Beat at medium speed for two minutes. Batter will be thin.
 Pour batter into a greased and floured 9x13 pan or two 9 inch cake pans.
 Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes for a 9x13, or 30-35 minutes for layer pans.
 Combine frosting ingredients and mix with a hand or stand mixer. Spread frosting on cooled cakes.

So what I loved about this cake... was it was light but moist. The frosting was really light. Almost whipped.  The only changes I made, were to use milk choco chips instead of unsweetend chocolate in the frosting, I added a TBSP of peanut butter to the chocolate to help it smooth out and used heavy cream for the milk. So good. So easy. Gotta go... shoving my face with cake. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Freezer Breakfast Burritos- Low Carb!!!!

I saw this idea over at Mom on Time Out. She has some great ideas! I adjusted it a little bit according to my tastes and what I had on hand. :)  And people guess what!!!??!?!! They are LOW CARB!!! Warning: That does not mean good for you. These are BETTER for you than if you would use your regular flour tortilla, but they have a lot of meat in them... which equals a fair amount of fat. But still a good breakfast choice. :) Better than a Pop Tart for sure. ( I tried to type fo' sho' - but I sounded like a pretender. I am. Don't hate.)
24 Medium Flour Tortillas

I used Mission Carb Balance. Confession: I am a carbaholic and this is one little way that I can get a lot of fiber without giving up any taste or texture. These are my all time favorite wraps. If they ever stop making them, I will mourn. I will wear a black. I will not eat any more Mexican food. Ever. Ok, I lied. I love Mexican food way too much to give it up indefinitely. But mourn, I will. For days. Just check out the nutrition info on these babies! 120 Cals, 6 Net carbs, 13 grams of fiber baby! Oh yeah! I feel thinner just thinking about it! :) Guilt free. 

Wow, that was a long tangent. Anyway...
24 Medium Flour Tortillas
1 pound of loose breakfast sausage
1 cup of cubed ham
1/2 pound of bacon (low sodium)
18 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 orange bell pepper
About a cup of shredded cheese (eyeball it)

This is what I did:
I baked my bacon in a single layer on foil at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. This varies, and you will have to watch your bacon closely after about the 10 minute mark.  Drained it and crumbled it. 
Cooked my sausage in the skillet, rinsed and drained. 
Chopped my bell pepper.
Heated some butter over low heat.
Threw in my bell pepper.
Cracked 18 eggs and mixed them with some S&P and the milk.
***TIP- when cracking an egg, hit is straight down onto the counter top. Do not tap it on the edge of the counter. This pushes the tiny pieces of shell into the egg. Hit it on the flat surface and you won't be digging shell out of your dish! :) ***
Threw my eggs in on top of my pepper. 
(Let your eggs cook slowly, sloshing them around the pan. It gives you a nice yellow, moist egg. Turn up the heat when the egg starts to coagulate.) Remove them from the heat when the are 85 percent cooked, then keep folding them over. They will finish cooking. Your eggs won't be dry.)
Then I mixed the bacon, sausage and ham into my eggs. 

When it cooled, I began the burrito wrapping process. 

This part is tricky to me... but you will soon be a master of burrito wrapping.
Lay out your tortilla. Now mine are not a perfect circle. Lay it out so the longest part is horizontal. Like this...
Sprinkle some cheese towards the bottom.
Then spoon meat on top. 
Like so.
Then, fold up the bottom and sides simultaneously. And roll. Squishing any egg mixture back inside as you go. Tuck in any little parts of the wrap that are not being cooperative. Lay seam side down on to baking sheet. 

Now, MOTO suggests that you flash freeze these in a single layer on a baking sheet for one hour before you wrap them. I guess this is so they stay together while you are wrapping them in saran wrap. However, I did not have the room in my freezer and was much too impatient. So I just wrapped them in the saran. I had NO problems at all. This was super simple, so I see no need to flash freeze them.
Last step was packing as many as I could into a gallon freezer bag labeled with directions:
According to MOTO:

Wrap burrito in damp paper towel and microwave at 50% power for 3 minutes. And she suggests you serve with salsa. YUM or in my house... mayo and ketchup! :)
I think this is a great idea for a quick breakfast. Low carb in this case! This would even make a great lunch! :) 
Thanks Mom on Time Out! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Preschool: Storming Clouds

Super simple craft project for our weather unit. I use this craft after our "Jesus Calms the Storm" story.
Cut out large cloud shape from easel paper.
Give each kiddo a few random squirts of black and white paint directly onto their cloud.
Have them mix them together with a paint brush and turn their happy cloud into a storm cloud! 

To add the rain, purchase up those leftover Christmas icicle tinsel and tape a few strands to the back of the cloud after the paint is dry. ( this part can be extremely frustrating if you let the 3 and 4 year olds do it, so I had a parent volunteer do this part.) However, if you are feeling up to it, go ahead, let the little ones do it! :) 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Preschool: Music Center

We kicked off January with our story about "David, the Music Maker". We have begun to memorize our verse, Ps 101:1 Sing praises to the Lord. We talked about what 'praises' are: good things, kind and loving words, expressions of love and admiration. We talked about some ways we can praise the Lord through music. We can use our bodies to dance (David danced before the Lord!) Our mouths can sing praises and our hands can play an instrument (or be an instruments) to praise the LORD! Then we practiced those very things!

We also briefly talked about words like, staff, note, treble clef, and bass clef. We talked about how we where notes are located on a staff will tell us what key to play on the piano or what buttons to push on other instruments. We talked about how different looking notes tell us how long to play the note. I kept it very basic. Not too much detail. Just wanting to expose them to the concept. Then I came up with this little center.

We rolled freezer paper onto the back of our TT cabinet.  Mrs. Knight drew a music staff on the freezer paper.  One with a bass clef, one with a treble clef. We put out scissors, clipart music notes ( to be cut apart) and glue sticks. They kids created their own preschool song, and a beautiful art piece. LOVE IT!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Cupcakes

There is no name. No name that could describe these little bites of chocolate peanut butter yummy goodness. I don't know what to call them. They are chocolate. There are peanut butter. They are brownies, they are peanut butter cake. They are topped with homemade PB icing. They are just good. You should make these.
 I started off by seeing a chocolate strawberry cupcake with vanilla icing. That was a brownie on the bottom and strawberry cake in the middle and then the vanilla icing on top. I thought I was going to make those. I love strawberry cake. I don't much care for other cake. But that has never stopped me from eating lots of cake. I always try it thinking maybe I will find a dense, moist, decadent chunk of cake with the perfect light icing. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don't.

Well, I did not have a strawberry cake mix on hand. I only had a yellow cake mix. Well, that's boring. So I started thinking... what can I mix yellow cake with that would taste good with chocolate. PEANUT BUTTER...DUH!!!! Yeah. Match.Made.In.Heaven.

1 brownie mix ( the kind that will fill a 9x13 pan)
1 yellow or white cake mix
1 stick of butter, room temp
1/2 cup JIF peanut butter (creamy) 
*side note- I will only ever use JIF. I do not believe that there is any other brand of PB. JIF is the only PB that exists in my world. Thank you very much*
4 eggs
2/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 325. Line cupcake pan with liners. Mix brownie mix according to package directions. (mine called for 2 eggs, 1/4 cup water and 2/3 cup of oil)
Fill cupcake liners 1/3 of the way full.
Pre-bake for 5-7 minutes (before adding PB cake batter to it)
Cream butter and PB together. Add eggs one at a time. Alternate cake mix with water. Mix until incorporated. Don't over mix. Put about 2 TBSP of PB cake mix on top of the brownie mix. Bake at 325. I had my oven on convection bake. And mine were done in 16-18 mins. If you don't have convection, start watching at 16 minutes. May take 20-24 minutes. Just watch. When the cake springs back after being touched, it is done. 

1 stick of room temp butter
1 and 1/4 cup PB (creamy.. JIF)
about 4 cups of 10x sugar
1/3 cup or so of milk or heavy cream

Cream PB and butter together. Start adding 10x sugar 1/3 cup at a time. The icing will start to clump into balls. After sugar is added, start to add to the cream a little at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes. 

Decorate with chopped up PB cups. :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

{SnOw MuCh FuN! }

LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this! A shout out to my parent volunteers who tediously cut out all the little kiddos! :)

I had kiddos come to class dressed in their winter gear. I snapped a quick posed photo of them pretending to do something snow related. Parents helped me by cutting the pictures out. A few pom poms and glitter help make this bulletin board SNOW MUCH FUN!  (So cheesey, I know... but I love it!)

****So much Glitter!****

Snowball Fight!!!

Simple tag stickers make an ice fort!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Seafood Stuffed Shells, Must TRY!!!!

My Aunt Melissa used to make these Seafood Stuffed Shells when I was younger. It has been YEARS since I had had them. She was wondering what to bring to the family New Year's Eve party and I was like "SUFFED SHELLS!!!!!"
One bite and I needed more. I ate 3 at the party. I held back. I wanted the whole plate. I settled for the recipe. It is easy. Easy peasy. Easy peasey lemon squeezey.  Nevermind the lemon. You don't need any :)

3 (8 ounce) packages of imitation crab meat (chopped into large pieces)
1.5 to 2 cups of Mayo ( I use Kraft)
2 to 3 TBSP finely chopped onion
1 to 1.5 ribs of celery finely chopped
1.5 to 2 cups of freshly grated swiss cheese. 
1 box of jumbo shells

Cook pasta according to package directions. Do not over cook. Drain.
Meanwhile mix all other ingredients together in a large bowl. When shells are cool enough to handle fill with meat mixture. Eat lots! Easy peasey!
( I chilled mine for about a half hour)

The pictures just DO NOT do this justice!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

D is for Dirt in my Dump Truck

Notice the date? 1-3-11. Yeah, we haven't quite got a hang on the 2012 thing yet. ;)

I came up with this idea last year and it is one of my favorite craft projects of the year.  I got my dump truck picture from Crayola's website. Click the link <<<<< and it will take you right to the printable!

 I popped a movie in the selected a movie from ON DEMAND! (yay for instant movies!) And cut out 27 dump trucks! It was actually really relaxing. We preglued the trucks on half sheets of colored construction paper. We had a busy day, and having the trucks pre-glued saved us precious class time.

During Circle Time, I allowed the kids to guess what the "dirt" that we were going glue onto our dump trucks actually was. I store it in a clear baby food jar, but I took the lid off and had them smell what was inside. Can you guess what it is? COFFEE! yay for coffee! We had a short lesson on how the coffee was a bean, got ground up, which is why it resembles dirt! Then we could put in our coffee maker, run hot water over it and it turns the water into coffee!  ( Take advantage of those 1 minute lessons. I promise some of those students will remember!)  The kiddos colored their dump trucks first. Then they covered the back of the dump truck with glue, sprinkled coffee grounds over it and we helped them shake off the excess! A craft becomes a sensory experience!

Wanna know the best part??? I have a Keurig. I love it. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. It was a wedding shower/wedding gift from my aunt and uncle. Best. Gift. Ever.  But if I have a Keurig, then I don't have coffee grounds. I have k-cups instead. Well, if you have not noticed, coffee is freaking expensive lately! ARGH!!!  So I am not going out to buy a can of coffee that will last me a billion years of craft projects. BUT, I have all these little complimentary hotel room coffees that my MIL takes every time we stay somewhere. But we don't use them, because we have a Keurig. So, FREE hotel room coffee=Free craft supply! YAY for free hotel room coffee!!!! Do it. Take the coffee. They want you too. ;)