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November 2, 2012

Project Gratitude

Something I've wanted to do for some time, and I've done in different ways, is a gratitude tree. With the kids getting older, I want them to think about all the happiness they have in their lives, and just how lucky they are. So, a leaf each day until Thanksgiving. We're looking forward to a full tree.

October 16, 2012


The holidays are upon us, and I Love It! Halloween is always a super fun holiday, and the Fall colors bring me so much cheer and calmness. I seem to get a little craftier during this time of year.

I saw these Halloween treats which were just too adorable. Rat Eyeballs, spider legs, and ghost pool. I wish I could take credit for this idea, but I cannot. I just replicated something similar in my Creative Memories digital software.

I decided to use these for Boo'ing some friends. Note: I also created the "We've been BOO'ed" sign using the CM software.  To download a .pdf of the Treat Toppers, click here!  To get a .pdf of the "We've Been BOO'ed," click here!  (Note, there are two different designs. Download, and print the one you want to use.  Hope you get creative and start a BOO in your neighborhood!

October 14, 2012


Over the summer, I visited a diner in Saratoga/San Jose area called Holden's Country Inn. On the breakfast menu was Chilequiles. They were a bit different, but so incredibly yummy! What I liked was they used tortilla chips and piled on the goodies. The night before we had Tacos for dinner, and I had some taco meat leftover, so that, and my visit to the diner over the summer, were my inspiration.  Please note, I didn't really measure anything. I just threw is all in the pan, and prayed I got something that worked. Note, this is a LARGE single serving since I was testing it out on myself!

  • 1 cup Taco meat (I used leftover ground beef from the night before)
  • 1 cup Refried beans
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup enchilada sauce
  • Tortilla chips (restaurant-style works, although I used Mission tortilla chips)
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup red onion (chopped)
  • Fresh cilatro (rough chop)
  • lime or lemon (I used a lemon because that's all I had on hand)
  • Tapatio hot sauce (how can you possible go wrong with this stuff?)
  • In a small bowl, add cilatro, most of the red onion (reserve some to the pan), and the juice from one lime. Let that mellow together while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  • In a large heated skillet, warm leftover taco meat. I added a few chopped red onions to add some flavor. Add enchilada sauce to the meat and let it simmer for a couple of minutes. Push to the side of the pan.
  • Add refried beans to the pan (next to the meat) and warm through. Push over to one side.
  • In a small bowl, add the eggs and beat. 
  • Add to the pan, and start to scramble. As they start to firm up, I mix the eggs with the meat with enchilada sauce. (the beans can stay separate).
  • While that is finishing up, take a handful of tortilla chips on spread out on a plate or wide bowl.
  • Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top of chips. 
  • Optional: I threw the chips and cheese in the microwave for 20-30 seconds to slightly melt the cheese (this will also help crisp up the chips).
  • Add the eggs and meat mixture on top of the chips, then the beans.
  • Add the cilantro/onion/lime mixture, and top with Tapatio (as spicy as you want it).
  • Enjoy.

Rotelli with sweet italian sausage, sundried tomatoes, and creamed spinach

Searching for a dinner option that the whole family will like is always a challenge. I was really going out on a limb with this one, but I was floored when my son (who is hands-down the pickiest eater I know) went back for seconds! I found the original recipe on Carrie's Experimental Kitchen blog, but being the *winger* that I am, I had to make a few adjustments. So, here goes...

  • 1 lb. rotelli pasta (cooked per the packages directions).
  • 1 bag frozen chopped spinach
  • 3 TB flour
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 TB olive oil + 1 additional olive oil for later
  • 1/4 yellow onion (chopped)
  • 1 cup milk or cream
  • Salt (for creamed spinach)
  • 6 links sweet italian sausage (casings removed)
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I used a Chardonnay which enhanced the sweetness of the sausage)
  1. Boil noodles per package directions. Strain when done. While boiling...
  2. To make the creamed spinach, start with your flour roux. 
  3. In a saucepan, put 2 TB olive and 1/2 stick butter until butter melts. Add flour to make a paste.
  4. Add chopped yellow onion and saute with the roux until soft.
  5. Add milk or cream.
  6. Throw in about 3/4 of the bag of frozen chopped spinach and stir until heated. Add salt to taste. Set aside. (NOTE:  You can use frozen creamed spinach, but I like making mine.
  7. In a large pot, heat 1TB olive oil
  8. Break apart the sausage into small pieces, add, and cook all the way through until there is no pink, and the outside is starting to caramelize.
  9. Add garlic, sundried tomatoes, and red onion and cook until onion starts to soften.
  10. Add about a cup of the creamed spinach to the mixture.
  11. Add chicken broth and white wine and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
  12. Throw in cooked, drained pasta, toss, and enjoy.
I found that I ended up adding a little more chicken broth, and I served the extra creamed spinach on the side.

July 5, 2012

Apple tree trimming...

Trimmed a bit of the apple tree today to make room for our crape myrtles to grow. Reed and Mooch benefitted from this decision!

Happy pooch...

Charlie is such a happy pooch....especially when he finds the kids' Easter candy.

May 27, 2012

Ladybug, ladybug...where'd you get your genes?

Playing on the beach in Tahoe, E found this ladybug that was seriously the size if a Jelly Belly.

April 12, 2012

Crock pot Chicken enchiladas

I wanted to make a no-think dinner tonight because of the million things I had going on. I found a recipe for chicken enchiladas, but I soon realized I was missing some of the ingredients. I also didn't feel like digging out my pyrex dish, so I used my crock pot (again, so I didn't have to think). I rummaged through the pantry and improvised. This is what I came up with.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cubed)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can red enchilada sauce
1 4-oz can diced green chilis
2 TB cornstarch
Corn tortillas
Shredded cheddar cheese

In the crock pot, put cream of mushroom soup, enchilada sauce, diced green chilis, and cubed chicken. Put crockpot on high, and let it cook 3-4 hours.

When ready to serve, take cornstarch in a small bowl and mix with a small amount of liquid (water or liquid from the crockpot). Put wet cornstarch mixture in the crockpot and stir to thicken. In the meantime, heat up tortillas in a skillet pan. I used the uncooked corn tortillas. Once warmed, cut into strips and place in a serving bowl. From the crockpot, spoon enough to cover the tortilla strips and add cheese on top. I served with corn that I mixed into the chicken enchiladas.

Mini peach pies

Finally purchased the Breville mini pie maker I've been eying for some time. Tried it out this afternoon by making some mini peach pies. Since peaches aren't in season, and I didn't have time to go to the store, I used canned peaches instead. Tossed in some nutmeg, sugar, and cornstarch and made a basic pie crust.

I foresee lots of yummy mini pies in my future!

March 20, 2012

holy chicken posole...

One of my all-time favorite soups, and I'm not one to rave about soups, is Posole. With this rainy weather we've been having, and the explosion of Pinterest, what better way to take in a cold, rainy day than with Posole. There are several variations, but I had some chicken thighs and breasts in the fridge to use up, so Chicken Posole it was!

The recipe was a "quick" chicken posole, but I let the soup cook longer so the chicken just melted. Because of that lengthened stovetop time, I increased the liquid and spices. My changes are reflected in the recipe below. My only gripe about this recipe is it really didn't make a lot, so I will definitely be doubling the recipe in the future (especially because I LOVE leftovers!).

  • 3 large fresh poblano chiles (my local farmer's market carried Pasilla chiles, so I used those instead).
  • 6 garlic cloves (I used 5 tsps of chopped jarred garlic, but I think the cloves would've worked better).
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1-1/2 lbs chicken thighs (I mixed with breast)
  • 2 cans (14-1/2 oz each) white hominy, drained
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsps dried Mexican oregano, divided (from what I learned from the wonderful Hispanic families where I teach, regular oregano works just as fine)
  • 2 TBs olive oil
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (I think I used 1-32 oz. box of regular chicken broth)
  • 4 TBs ground red New Mexico chiles
  • Garnishes: sliced avocado, lime wedges, cilantro, and sour cream


  1. Cut chicken into 1 inch cubes and sprinkle with salt and 1 tsp oregano
  2. In a skillet, put small amount of oil and brown the chicken (in 2 batches so you don't overcrowd the pan).
  3. Chop onion into small chunks.
  4. While chicken is browning, put garlic and onions in a food processor and pulse to mince.
  5. Heat a 5 to 6 quart pot on high heat. Add oil, then place the onion/garlic mixture and remaining oregano. Saute until onion is softened, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Check chicken. Once browned (but doesn't need to be cooked through), move to a plate, and brown the rest of the chicken.
  7. In pot, once garlic/onion mixture is ready, reduce to medium-high heat, add ground red New Mexico chile and stir.
  8. Add chicken broth, hominy, and chicken...stir.
  9. Cover, bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes (mine simmered for closer to an hour).
  10. While soup is simmering, put poblano (or pasilla) chiles into the broiler for about 15 minutes, turning to get all sides.
  11. Once they are broiled and the skin starts to blacken, remove from broiler, peel, and discard the skin.
  12. Remove the stem and seeds and discard, and take remaining flesh and mince.
  13. When soup is ready to serve, stir in poblano/pasilla chiles and stir for about a minute.
  14. Serve, and garnish with sour cream, cilantro, lime wedges and avocado slices.
  15. Enjoy.

Recipe found on MyRecipes.com via Pinterest!

streusel coffee cake...

For this year's Cub Scout Cake Bake, I made a streusel coffee cake to go with the Peet's Gift Coffee of the Month Club. I found this recipe on, of all places, About.com. It's your basic coffee cake recipe with a cinnamon crumble top, but yummy, nonetheless. To make things even better, it was super quick to make, only 30 minutes in the oven (and about 10 minutes prep). So, here's the recipe:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sifted AP flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temp
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (I may have actually used closer to 1 TB)


  • 1-1/2 cups AF flour (sifted)
  • 2-1/2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten (I did this in the mixer...it was the first thing I put in)
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions (now I'm sure there are correct directions, but these are mine...)

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. First make the topping. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients and with a fork, smash it all together until it's crumbly. Set aside.
  3. Cake: Sift the flour into a bowl, sift the baking powder and salt right into the mixture.
  4. In a medium bowl (or stand mixing bowl), toss in the egg and turn on the mixer with a paddle attachment.
  5. Add sugar and 1/3 cup melted butter (I put the butter stick in a small bowl and threw it in the microwave for 30 seconds to melt).
  6. Add milk and vanilla. Mix until it's all combined.
  7. Next slowly stir in the flour mixture and mix until combined.
  8. Pour the batter into a greased 8 or 9 inch square pan (round would work, too). To grease, I use Safeway's Cooking Spray with Butter (this stuff works miracles to avoid sticking).
  9. Sprinkle the topping mixture covering the top.
  10. Put in the oven for 30 minutes. Cake is done when a toothpick comes out clean.
  11. Cut into cubes and serve warm with a nice cup of coffee or tea! *If you serve the next day, throw the cubes onto a paper towel and microwave for 20 seconds to warm up.

March 1, 2012

Emma and I were watching an interview with Zach Efron, and I said, "Oh Emma, isn't he cute?"

He replies, "He's cute because he looks like Justin Bieber, except his hair's spikey."

Then she says, "I know. You like him because his eyes sparkle."

February 6, 2012

I heart reading...

I saw this cute little project on Pinterest. I wanted to show my 4th graders, so I used construction paper instead of felt to make this adorable heart bookmark. I'm looking forward to making some with actual felt.

February 4, 2012

Year of the dragon

I love art. Period. Even more so, I love teaching art to kids. Teaching 4th graders art is even more special, especially when you see their growth over the school year.

With this year being the year of the dragon, what is more appropriate than teaching my students to draw a dragon, and then using oil pastels to color it. Mixing and blending colors is so much fun, and getting incredibly messy in the process tops the cake.