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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Eggplant/Zucchini Parmesan

Before I started this blog, I used to post recipes in the "notes" section on FB.  Here's an oldie, but goodie.

I started with one of those horribly overgrown zucchinis and an eggplant.  They were organic, so I did not peel them.  Peeling is optional.  The eggplant has a slightly thicker skin.  It just depends what you like.

Slice into rounds of uniform thickness.  Mine were probably about 1/4 inch thick.  Maybe 1/3.

I had A LOT of vegs so I beat 4 eggs in a bowl for dipping.

In a 13x9 I mixed about 1 cup. flour, 1/2 c. (at least) parmesan cheese, garlic (probably a couple tsp. because I like garlic), and some pepper.

Heat some vegetable oil in a frying pan.

Dip the pieces of eggplant into the egg, then into the flour mixture.  When you have enough coated to fill your pan, fry 'em up.  You are just browning them, not cooking them through.  Maybe one minute each side?  If that.

Drain on paper towels.

For my giant family, I greased a 15x9 casserole.  Put a smidge of your favorite tomato sauce in the bottom.  Layer with cooked eggplant/zucchini.  Top with cheese (I used sliced provolone; it's what I had, and I am a GENIUS for it).  Continue layers, ending with a sauce layer.  Then, because we are gluttonous and I only make this dish once a year, I topped it with more cheese.  Parmesan this time.

Cover with foil and bake.  I did mine at 350 for about 30-40 minutes.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Traditions

Back around Christmas, I posted about some of our family traditions.  We don't really have many Easter traditions.  I don't know why.  Is that common for most people?  I put out a handful of decorations.  I buy all the candy for the kids' baskets.  We go to church.  We eat a big dinner.

In the past 2 or 3 years, we've added Resurrection Eggs to our tradition.  We usually go through them as a family on the night before Easter.  One year I am going to finally break down and make resurrection cookies, too.  If I were some other mother, I probably would like to do something crafty for Easter.  Once, we baked cookies in the shape of crosses.  That was nice.  We decorate eggs, but then only two people eat them.  I'm glad they're still pretty cheap, because a lot of them end up in the trash.

I am not really lamenting here.  I see now that we do have some traditions.  Most importantly, we do attend church.  I have heard of some people staying home on Easter to let the irregular attenders have a place to sit.  That's so odd to me.  Of all the days to stay home, Easter isn't one of them.  I'm really happy that my kids know that Easter is about the resurrection of Christ, and not bunnies.  I like bunnies.  But a bunny won't get me to heaven.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Week in Review--We're crabby

Remember last week when I fantasized that I would have some sort of perfect, traditional homeschooling week?


Seriously.  I'm so funny.  I admit that I only hinted at the fantasy, but I knew what I meant.  You know, lots of boring worksheets and evidence of education.  I think about the evidence a lot because my state requires portfolios.  Exhausting.

We had a wonderful week.  There was a lot of sunshine so we played outside a lot.  I forgot how much I love to play softball with the kids!

One of the talks I went to at the homeschool convention last month was about notebooking, and I am really working to integrate that into our way of doing things.  The kids all drew pictures of crustaceans.  They each produced a "serious" work, but then started inventing their own crustaceans.  I think that's pretty awesome, as they all were decapods, arthropods, etc.  They were applying what they've learned, so that is good.

Silly's rainbow crab.

Goofy's, well, goofy crab.

Scrappy's rock star crabs, and audience.

Funny's Christmas Island crab invasion.  That's a car running over the crabs.
That's what they do there.  There are that many crabs.

The kids spent an entire rainy afternoon reading all sorts of books to one another.  I look back on how stressed I was over their reading at the beginning of the year.  I wonder why I keep worrying so much?  I totally know better.

I am hoping to wrap this year up in mid- to late-May.  Whew.  What a fun journey!

As usual, I am linking up with Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Potato Chip Cookies

I know, weird, right?  That's what I thought, too.  I like cookies.  I like chips.  Why not give it a try?  These cookies are super buttery; they remind me of shortbread.  And that, my friends, is a good thing.

Potato Chip Cookies
from The Spiced Life

1 c. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. coarse salt (optional--depends how salty your chips are.  I left this out, but probably would add it next time, if using the same chips.)
2 c. flour
2 c. coarsely crushed potato chips, divided
coarse salt and sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 325.  Line your cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper.

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy.  (Add salt if using.)  Mix in vanilla, then flour and 1 c. potato chips.  Mix well to incorporate chips, but don't overmix.

Using cookie scoop or spoons, shape dough into 1" balls and roll in remaining crushed chips.  Put on the cookie sheet 2" apart, and flatten slightly.  Sprinkle salt or sugar over the top (both are good, but I preferred those with salt on top).  I fit 12 cookies on my first sheet and 10 on the second.

Bake for 12-15 minutes at 325.  These cookies don't really brown.  Let cool 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Lemon Bread

I love a quick bread.  You know, they're quick.  They're bread.  What's not to love?  This is easily my favorite for a couple reasons:  it's easy and it makes everyone happy.  Lemons are like some kind of cheap Zoloft.  Everyone loves something lemony.  It's a fact.

Lemon Bread
from Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook

1 3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg
1 c. milk
1/4 c. oil or melted butter (you know I used butter; it's worth it)
2 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. lemon juice (for topping)
1 tbsp. sugar (for topping)

You only need one lemon for this recipe, FYI.

Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of a loaf pan.  Mine was a 9" one; an 8" probably would've looked nicer, but it was fine.

Combine flour, sugar, powder and salt in a medium bowl; make a well in the center and set aside.  Combine your beaten egg, milk, butter, lemon peel, and lemon juice.  Your microplane grater is perfect for zesting the lemon.  Don't buy the stuff in a jar.  For the same price, you can buy a microplane.  Just don't zest the pith (the white part).  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined (a little lumpy).  Pour into your loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Set pan on a rack to start cooling.  Meanwhile, combine the 1 tbsp. sugar and 2 tbsp. lemon juice in a bowl.  Spoon or brush this over the top of the warm bread.  Trust me.  You want to do this.  Let the bread cool about 10-15 minutes in the pan, the remove it to finish cooling on the rack.  This is best if you can wrap it and eat it the second day, but really, a few hours wrapped up is fine, too.

New to zesting a lemon?  Here's a handy video.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Week in Review--the week of slacking

Someone once told me, "I don't read homeschooling blogs.  They make me feel like a failure."

While I am not responsible for this person's reaction, I admit that sometimes it does look like most people have it together while the rest of us do not.  The fact is, I don't always want to admit to how long I fought with Funny over math.  Or how many episodes of Avatar my children have been watching.  Or that I just don't feel like it anymore and really need summer vacation already.

This is a non-post post.  I have decided to call this week "spring break."  And why not?  Everyone else gets one.

I've been sick, yet again.  Yesterday I took the entire day off.  We did one educational activity.  Scrappy and I snuggled on the couch and watched an episode of The Story of India.  Yep, that's all.  The kids have spent the week playing and fighting, and I have spent the week sneezing and yelling.

This is real life, people.

Yes, they did things that we relaxed homeschoolers consider school:  played baseball, explored the neighborhood, ran around, built with Legos, went to dance, went to AWANA, read a little, and helped around the house.

I don't have any pictures of the cute and/or fun things we did, because there aren't any.  It's a good thing I know that's okay.  Next week, when I report on all our goings-on, please know that while things may look good (I am feeling optimistic), they are completely balanced out by a certain amount of power struggles, exasperation, and exhaustion.

But these kids are so worth it.

For more homeschooling stories, check out Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Come to the Dark Side

I am trying really hard to like dark meat.  I thought I would start with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, because they are easy, and they were on sale.  This is actually supposed to be a beef recipe (hence the beef broth, and not chicken) but I have a cold and I was confused.  It happens.

The chicken cooked very nicely and fell apart, which is always lovely.  Be careful that you don't overcook your broccoli, because that's just gross.  The original recipe called for thawing the broccoli first, but I don't see why that's necessary.  Plus, it would affect the texture, I think.

I served this with some brown rice, and a smile.

Asian Chicken and Broccoli in the Crockpot
adapted from Finding Joy in My Kitchen

3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 c. beef broth
1/3 c. soy sauce
2-4 cloves garlic or 1 tbsp garlic powder
1 onion, chopped
pepper to taste
1 tbsp. brown sugar
16 oz. bag frozen broccoli (you know, or more; it's your dinner)
2 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. cornstarch

Chop chicken into 1"-ish cubes.  Combine broth and soy sauce in slow cooker.  Add chicken, garlic, and onion.  Cover and cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours.  One-half to one hour before this is done, combine the water and cornstarch and stir it into the pot.  Add the broccoli at this point, as well.  Add pepper to taste.

I would make this again, because it's freakishly easy.  And I LOVE that.  It definitely needs something.  I think next time I will add some honey and ginger, at the very least.  But I didn't hate it, so that's a win!  Everyone else in the house really, really liked it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Turkey & Lentil Chili

So my kids suddenly think they hate beans.  And this makes me so sad, because beans are (a) cheap, (b) good for you, and (c) pretty tasty.

I thought I would try lentils.  I mean, they cook to mush if you let 'em and they fit all the bean criteria listed above.  Plus, I had this ground turkey and needed to do something with it.  Hub won't eat meatloaf (I know, right!?) and it was only a pound so not enough for really much else anyway.  Have I told you that there are a lot of us?

Turkey & Lentil Chili
adapted from

1 lb. ground turkey
1 32 oz. box chicken broth
2 c. lentils, rinsed (I used red but any kind would work)
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 medium onion, chopped
3 or 4 stalks of celery, chopped
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. ground cumin
pepper to taste

Brown the meat with onions and celery in a skillet.  Toss mixture into crock pot.  Add rinsed lentils and remaining ingredients.  Cook on low for about 6 hours.  Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

You really don't need any salt here since you're using canned broth and canned tomatoes.  But I suppose if you want, you could add some salt at the end.  Just taste it first.

This went over way better than chili with beans.  It was more soupy than stew-like, and I have adjusted the broth amount accordingly so that you might avoid that problem.

I've Got It Together

I find myself often frustrated by the lack of transparency amongst those I know (including myself).  I wonder, why don't people want to be who they are?  I think that sometimes we are afraid to admit our problems and struggles.  We can be afraid that the person who we are pouring our hearts out to will look at us blankly.  Or worse--in judgment.

I am a person that people tell their stuff to.  I have wondered how this happened to me--that people started telling me their problems.  I don't think it's because I am some kind of all-knowing advice-giver.  I don't think it's always because I am a good listener (still need some work there, too).  It isn't because I am extra-spiritual or godly or holy (if only).

It might be because I am imperfect.

You heard me right.  I am not perfect.  I can easily admit to you that I struggle with controlling my words.  With more difficulty, I admit that I struggle with all sorts of temptations.  If Hugh Jackman brought me a giant plate of bacon right now, I would have a hard time remaining calm.

There is value in being real.

We are all longing for someone we can talk to.  It's wonderful to think, This person gets me!  And...still likes me!

Isn't that what we all want?  I am like everyone else, and I hold things back.  I don't necessarily want everyone to see how messy I really am.  It's scary.  But I do know that all of the genuine friendships I have are full of messiness and imperfection.  Confessing things to one another really does help adjust our perspective.  We are ALL struggling.  Some people are good at hiding it.  But no one has it together.  And isn't that when God can get in there and do some of his best work?

Special thanks to Dan for the link to this song.