Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Menu Plan: Cranberry Cream Pie Recipe!

I was so surprised when it started raining today. Usually I'm not quite so surprised about the weather because I love watching it. In jr high I used to dream of becoming a meterologist. Obviously that didn't happen, but I still find weather interesting. It's a warm rain, and that at least didn't surprise me. In fact, I should probably change into short sleeves before heading to the dentist!

I had to adjust my menu for the week already. We were going to have Mexican on Tues but due to a tight schedule I'm just scheduling leftovers. They're tasty too!

For your enjoyment, here's a pie we devoured last week. It's a cranberry pie I first wrote about when I did the Twelve Pies of Christmas a couple years ago. Here's finally the recipe. It's yummy! I originally got the recipe from Baker's Dozen Cookbook.

1 recipe Cream Cheese Pie Dough
1 1/2 c sugar
8 Tbls unsalted butter at room temperature
3 large eggs
8 tbls all-purpose flour
1/2 c buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 c cranberries coarsely chopped

1. Make the pie dough, line a 9" pie pan with the dough and flute the edges. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.
2. Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 400F.
3. Remove the plasti wrap and line the pastry shell with parchment paper or aluminum foil, then fill with pie weights. Bake until the pastry seems set, about 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and set the pie shell aside on a baking sheet. Reduce the oven temperature to 350F.
4. In a medium bowl using an electric mixer beat the sugar and butter until well combined and sandy textured, about 1 minute. One at a time, beat in the eggs, beating well after each addition. Beat in the flour, then the buttermilk and vanilla. Stir in the cranberries. Pour into the pie shell.
5. Bake the pie on the baking sheet until the top is light gold and domed and the filling seems firm in the center when the pie is gently shaken, about 1 hour. If using frozen cranberries they will chill the filling; allow an extra few minutes to bake.
6. Transfer the pie to a wire cooling rack and cool completely. The pie can be stored, covered and refrigerated, for up to 2 days. Serve at room temperature.

Cream Cheese Pie Dough

8 tbls unsalted butter chilled and thinly sliced
4 oz cream cheese, chilled cut into pieces (for best results don't use reduced fat or all-natural. Supermarket varieties work just fine)
1/2 tsp sugar
pinch of salt
1 c unbleached all-purpose flour

1. In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the cream cheese and mix unitl well combined with the butter, about 1 minute. Beat in the sugar and salt. Add the flour and mix on low speed just until the dough holds together. Do not overbeat. Gather up the dough into a thick disk.
2. Wrap the dough in wax paper or plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight. If chilled until hard let the dough stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes to soften slightly before rolling.

Menu Plan!

Lunch- fruit kabobs, vegetable-cheese kabobs
Supper- crockpot buffalo chicken and white cheddar sandwiches, vegetables, chips

Lunch- vegetables, bread, dip, pudding
Supper- leftover chicken sandwiches

Lunch: unknown
Supper: Souvlaki platter

Lunch: smashed avocado chickpea sandwiches
Supper: Vegetable Moo Shu Wraps

Supper: Fish Chowder with Harvest Salad

Columbus Day/Thanksgiving Map Project (Preschool-early Elem.)

 We did Columbus Day activities as part of the homeschool group for 3-4 year olds we participate in once a week. His usual teacher was away, so another parent and I took the class. We read stories about Columbus, looked at and touched a sandpaper globe, and made this fun map as an art project. Kudos to Mrs B for creating it!

It would work very well for Thanksgiving and studying the Pilgrims as well.


brown paper with outline of Old and New Worlds
blue, green, and brown paint
Paper "ship" to "sail"

How to do it:
 Paint the "New World" brown, the "Old World" green, and the ocean blue. Glue the paper ship on the ocean, or let child move it from Europe to North America.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: Cheesy Mushroom Bread recipe

I have a sick preschooler today. Right now he's watching episodes of The Magic School Bus. He loves that show, and I'm so glad there are a few old episodes available. I have supper sitting on the table, waiting for my husband to get home. He's a little late. So Here I am, joining in Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday while waiting to eat.

Dinner: Pork Spaghetti Casserole
Supper: Grilled pepperjack & sharp cheddar sandwiches, chipotle corn soup, dates & celery

lunch: leftovers
Supper: Cream Cheese Chicken Chili, Pumpkin Bread, Salad with apples & raisins and homemade honey mustard dressing

lunch- leftovers
Supper- Bacon Sweet Potato Soup and Southwestern Egg Rolls

lunch: Black Bean Burgers & sweet potato fries
Supper: Eggplant Parmesan, Pumpkin Orzo with Sage, biscuits

lunch: Cauliflower soup, biscuits
Supper: Chow Mein (Rasa Malaysia recipe), roasted sesame broccoli

lunch: Greek salad
Supper: Mushroom & Fish Chowder with Harvest Salad & Buttermilk Rolls

I'm considering trying some Ethiopian recipes, but we'll see...

Is it a fancy garlic bread or a variation on a pizza?! Whatever it is, it's yummy! The gooey melted cheese, the savory mushrooms, melted butter, crisply accented with green onion and mushroom...everyone in the family devoured it.

Cheesy Mushroom Bread

1 wide loaf Italian bread
1/2 cup softened butter
1 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
6 green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F.

Slice bread in half horizontally. Using your fingers pull out most of the soft bread to form a hollow shell. Save pulled-out bread for another use.
Mix together butter, mushrooms, cheese, green onions, and garlic. Spread the mixture on both cut sides of bread. Place the bread, stuffed sides up, on baking sheet.

Bake in preheated oven until the cheese has melted, about 10 to 15 minutes. Cut in wedges to serve.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Preschool Theme: Human Body/Birthday books/activities

Thanks to a camera crash I lost many of my pictures from our human body theme. Thanks to my husband I do have a few. Here's a few highlights.



Dover has a great set of baby sticker paper dolls. You can dress/undress baby (printed on the back page)  using stickers, and give him or her things to do. They come in boy and girl options. I chose boy because T is a boy!

Wiki sticks numbers set has a birthday cake. Practice counting and decorate a birthday cake. Fun math activity!

Make birthday and greeting cards and read a fun book about birthday parties in Spanish and English called Bravo! Make sure any cards are addressed to someone else. We also shopped for a gift for someone who celebrated his birthday.

Writing practice. Child writes name, traces birth date, and writes age down.


Bake a cake, or in our case apple pumpkin muffins in celebration of birthdays and being alive.

 A fun activity with practical life skills and measuring...math skills!

Whopper Cake is a great book to read with this activity. 

It's a hilarious story of a man who decides to bake his wife a surprise, record-breaking cake for her birthday. By Karma Wilson with Will Hillenbrand.

It's Curious George, isn't that enough of a recommendation? Curious George finds all kinds of party supplies and tries to help out the man with the yellow hat. 


Read DK Human Body

 We played Twister, too, learning about crazy movements our bodies can make!

Read From Head to Toe by Eric Carle and act out the story. Great gross motor skills practice. We read it in Spanish for practice learning our body parts in another language! Wish I'd been able to rescue some of these photos!

Build a human body puzzle. Covers science, fine motor, and math. 

This is a great puzzle because it's built in layers. You work from the skeleton, add the organs, muscles, skin, and finally clothes. There are boy and girl puzzles available. They are anatomically correct. Made by Beleduc

Other good books to read on the human body:
My Five Senses by Aliki all about the senses of the human body. 
Germs Make Me Sick!  by Marvin Berger made a big impression on T. He grew very cautious (not frightened, just careful) about washing his hands, sneezing into a tissue or his sleeve, etc. We also played nurse with a doctor kit.


There's a great book by DK called Food.

 I wish I had pictures to go with this. Get a plate and set it on the table. Have your child set their place. Next, read the DK/Eyewitness book called Food. After you finish, announce to your child he's going to create a healthy meal shopping in the cupboards and fridge! Help child get out items that would create a healthy, balanced, and tasty lunch or snack. If your child wants, let him or her "check out" at the "grocery store" before bringing the meal "home" to "cook". Suddenly math is involved too ;)

  Activities Inspired by

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: 2 Ingredients = More Fun than Play Dough (Making Oobleck)

 If you keep it moving, it's solid.

 Hold your hand still, it starts oozing and feels like a liquid.
 Oobleck is made simply. Mix 1 part water to 2 parts cornstarch. It will be hard to mix!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ask Me Whooo (Teach basic Biblical truth to song)

Question: What is catechism?

Answer: Catechism is a summary of the basic beliefs of the Christian faith in question and answer form.

Why teach children about the Bible using catechism, rather than just stories? It's a proven effectual way for children to grab hold of the basics. Just as children are given memory tools in school to help them learn geography, grammar, math, and history (if you're a homeschooler, think of AudioMemory, Veritas Press songs, Classical Conversations) catechism is a means of teaching -and letting the children own the answers to- the most common questions kids have about God, the Bible, Jesus, and their faith.

Questions like:

 Who made me? (God)
Where is God? (God is everywhere)
Does God know all things? (Yes. Nothing can be hidden from God.)
Where do you learn how to love and obey God? (In the Bible alone)
Who wrote the Bible?
What does it mean to believe in Christ? ( to trust in Him alone for my salvation),
What is prayer?
What does Christ give us to teach about prayer?
 All these and many, many more are answered in children's catechisms. 

Yes, catechisms. Plural. There have been many evangelical, Protestant catechisms written. Catechism used to be widely used by both Protestants and Catholics. In recent decades it has become much less mainstream. Generally if an evangelical hears catechism they will assume Roman Catholic. Still, it's never died out because it's so effective. In fact, teaching catechism (i.e. foundational Bible truths) and Bible verse memorization together is generally found in circles of conservative Presbyterians, Dutch Reformed, Lutherans , and some Baptists.

While there may be variations on some particulars by slight theological differences catechism is a source of unity in the faith as they agree and teach the same truth as to the essentials of the Christian faith: the truth of God, His word, salvation in Christ alone...the five solas of the Protestant reformation. Through catechism doctrine (means simply teaching btw) doesn't divide, it unites. Ever heard of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals?

Ask Me Whooo has pleasant music (even to mom's and dad's ears) that makes learning some of these questions and answers about the bible so easy. Another nice thing about this three volume set is after each set of catechism questions are several scripture proofs. Bible verses that teach what the q&a was summarizing!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Create an Activity Box for homeschooling preschool-kindergarten

You find the element of fun,
and snap! the job's a game.
~Mary Poppins (film)

My son loves his activity box. It's just an old recipe box I re-purposed for our activity box. But it's his, and it means a lot to him.

He feels like he can have control over what he choses to do when. At the same time, since I organized it, I know these activities are things I want to do with him. It's also special to him because he knows if he pulls a card out he'll get to do an activity with me, one-on-one.

If it continues to be a success I will use it again next year for PreK and very possibly for kindergarten as well. Cards would just have the kindergarten subjects/activities on them instead of the preschool activities from Flowering Baby.  

I put labels on it, one for each day of the week. At the beginning of the week I write an activity on an index card with a little drawing indicating what the activity is since he can't read yet.

When he wants to do an activity, or I want to do one with him, he opens up his box and chooses the card he'd like to have us do together.

It's really simple
  yet it gets the job done.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Menu Plan Momday: Cheesy Taco Bake recipe

Well, it appears my abdominal aches were a severely strained muscle. So relieved. I can resume exercise now! Get back to a normal routine! Exercise again! So happy!

Of course part of my normal routine is getting food on the table. Have you ever had a taco bake? I found the recipe in a post on the Cooking For Your Family forum. It's quick, easy, and inexpensive. I included it in this week's menu plan. Oh, it's tasty too.

Linking up at Org Junkie's menu plan Monday hop! 

Sunday: Cheesy Taco Bake Casserole
Monday: Cuban Ropa Vieja
Tuesday: Mushroom Cheesy Bread with Butternut Squash Soup
Wednesday: Paella
Thursday: Yakisoba
Friday: Mango and Pepper Chicken Over Rice
Saturday: TBD

Cheesy Taco Bake Casserole

24 Tortilla Chips (+ additional for serving)
1/2 TBSP Olive Oil
1 Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 lb. extra lean ground beef or ground turkey
3 TBSP Taco Seasoning
1 can Black Beans, drained
1 cup Salsa
2 cups ShreddedCheese
Other toppings to taste - avocado,  tomatoes, sour cream, and shredded lettuce 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, heat oil and add onion and garlic - saute for about 5 minutes until soft.  Add meat and taco seasoning, cooking until meat is browned.  Add beans and salsa.  Mix well and cook to thicken.

Line the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish with tortilla chips.  Gently press down the chips to break into bite-sized pieces.  Spread the meat mixture over the chips.  Top with cheese.  You could also add jalapenos or green chilies as well.

Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Preschool Kitchen Counter: Making Whoopie Pies (& Recipe)

This month my son was absolutely thrilled by the book Jimmy Zangwow's Out of this World Moon Pie Adventure

Of course after reading it he wanted only one thing: to eat one (or more). Problem was I didn't wan't to go buy a moon pie at the supermarket. I've never cared for the pre packaged type. So I set out with faithful Google on a search for a recipe we could make.

I found more Whoopie pie recipes than moon pies. A moon pie would have the cake/cookie layer made of a graham flour based dough, and be dipped in chocolate. I realized though they are close enough to make do. Then I found a super simple Whoopie pie recipe using cake mix. Great!

 T chose the flavors he wanted and we set to work. They turned out delicious. You can find the recipe here

First, dump the cake mix into a bowl.

Add your eggs, water, and oil.

Mix. I recommend by hand because then your preschooler can enjoy this part!

Drop a couple tablespoons of a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until puffy and toothpick comes out clean.

Make a filling of butter, marshmallow fluff, cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and just a pinch of salt. Spoon onto one of the inverted "moon pies"
Top with another moon pie cookie. T loved smashing them together!

Finished "moon pie" whoopie pies. If you want to make these a little more moon pie like, I recommend melting some dipping chocolate and dipping the pies at this stage to coat them. Let the chocolate coating harden before serving (put them on wire racks since they'll drip!). T made strawberry and banana whoopie pies.

They were so good. I think I'll make these again, for his birthday. Make a nice change from cupcakes!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Doughnut Muffins

I just love these doughnut muffins! yum!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: Chicken Spinach Dip Casserole Recipe

It's a new week, and time for a new round of menus! Linking up to Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday blog hop.

 Last week was crazy. My husband's grandpa's death meant being out of state, which really changed the tastes of the the week. Then over the weekend I developed a pain in my abdomen. The nurse said to come in this morning. I had blood drawn to make sure it's not my appendix, and was told to rest, rest, rest, apply ice, and take it easy this week, so we'll see.

Monday: Pot Pie

Tuesday: Arroz Tapado

Wednesday: Chicken Piccata 

Thursday: Chicken Tikka Masala

Friday: Malay satay

Now, here is a favorite new recipe. It's rich. We like it enough to make again, just not all the time. It takes like spinach dip, so my family calls it Spinach Dip Casserole. I got the recipe from the board Cooking For Your Family.


1 whole cooked chicken (or 2 large b/s breasts)
1 can diced green chilies, drained
1 clove garlic, minced
1 med. onion, chopped
2 tbsp. cooking oil
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 tsp. salt
12-16 oz sour cream
8 oz. corn or tortilla chips
2 c. grated cheese (your choice)
Saute garlic, onions and chilies (until onions are translucent); add cumin - cook 1 minute. Add soup, then defrosted spinach (squeezed dry). Add salt; simmer. Add chicken and sour cream. Heat thoroughly. Layer chips, chicken mixture and cheese (2 times) in a 9x13 casserole dish and cook for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. This can also be cooked in the microwave on HIGH for approximately 15 minutes.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Taking Preschool On the Road

Due to an out-of-state funeral (and a field trip) we had a very short week. Most work was done away from home. Rather than just playing with toys, the wii, and watching movies at Grandpa and Nana's house I brought a few activities with us. In the midst of a crazy week disrupted by grief I suspected it'd provide some sense of normalcy. It did.

Field Trips:
You could easily say we took four this week. Going to his great-grandpa's funeral, watching a tae kwon do class, going with  our homeschool support group to an Ornithology center, and going to my ultrasound. Busy, busy, busy.

We are involved in a homeschool support group that meets once a week for classes and once a month for field trips. They have classes starting at preschool age 3 (using My Father's World K, Handwriting Without Tears pre-writing exercises, and Answers In Genesis pre-k bible) through 3rd grade (a separate campus goes through 12th). This month was the first field trip of the year, and we visited an ornithology center. T and the others got to see three different kinds of local owls, a kestrel, and a hawk. 

T's grandpa is an assistant instructor at a martial arts school. While we were down he invited us to come and observe a class. They had both children and adults that evening. T liked parts of it. Other parts weren't nearly as interesting.

T got to watch the ultrasound where we learned what we're having. Then I took him shopping. He was very particular choosing a gift for baby sister! The only thing I had to steer him away from was a preemie outfit (I hope it wont be needed). BTW, part of why I find Flowering Baby such an amazing curriculum is its flexibility. It even worked through first trimester sickness!


We are continuing reading From Head To Toes in Spanish, and reading a Bible story in Spanish. Flip Flop Spanish is  proving a good choice. Very short lessons, easy to incorporate review throughout the day. This week's words continued focusing on colors, and working on counting in Spanish.

Letters & Numbers:

We are beginning a new project. A letter book! Get several pieces of white paper. Fold in half. Write child's name and ABC Book in traceable lettering on the cover. Get out dot a dot paint. On the left side have the child write a capital and lowercase letter. On the right side, have child use glitter glue and markers to draw something beginning with that letter. I can tell this project will take a while.

For math practice we did a lot of counting up and down, in English and Spanish (of course he can go much, much higher in English). T's dad helped him write the number 10. We also played a Busytown Matching Game while at T's grandparents' house.

We again used play dough to make letters. That and shaving cream are favorites around here.

We were a bit crafty at his grandpa's house. Here's a quilted q. It's quite simple to make. Tear strips of construction paper into small pieces. Trace a q on a paper plate. Trace over that with glue. Sprinkle your paper confetti over the glue, pat, shake, and you're done.

He also used rice crispies to make o. The other letters he practiced writing mostly.


This week we continued our theme of God's promises by talking about God's covenant with Abraham. We pretended we were on a long, long journey as we "camped" "baked bread" and "gathered water from a well or stream" in Nana's living room. We discussed faith, and where we get it.

 Collecting water on the journey.
Camping in the living room. "I'm sleeping under the stars!"

A wall-hanging to remind him the Lord gives us faith.

Human Body

We read more books on the human body. DK has a great one I'll be sure to highlight in September's Book Bag. We read The Magic School Bus Inside The Human Body several times. T really though enjoyed the day we read Germs Make Me Sick and played with a doctor kit.

Our week inspired by:

Linking up!